You Can Start Again

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cyharding
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You Can Start Again

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Postby cyharding » Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:34 pm

Sorry. I suck at titles. That little problem's been fixed.

A little backstory on this. I began writing this a little over a year ago as a way to keep me in practice as I had just completed an original novel. Over the past several months, I have completed a few more chapters in various stages of revisement and I have a good idea of where the story is going at least in the medium term, especially as I now have a copy of 3.33 and can now adjust some parts in what I have written in light of the film's events. At the same time, I sent the following chapter to several members of this forum (originally to see how my writing style in general holds up), and they have helped me greatly with some matters. So now, I present this to the forum for its member's amusement, or perhaps their derision. To be honest, I thought I'd never write fanfic again after the last one I did on the forums. Guess that shows what I know. Chapters will be released around every two weeks or so as I am a bit of a slow writer, and I want to give myself time. Thank you for your attention & patronage.

SPOILER: Show
It wasn’t more than a day in their journey on foot before the three of them were picked up by a VTOL craft. Shinji boarded the craft and Asuka set him in a spot near the window. He didn’t pay any attention to what was happening around him as he was still within his mind, reliving that awful moment again and again,seeing the detonation as clear as if it just happened, consumed by the shock and guilt of it all. He spent the trip staring out the window looking down at the wasteland that was once his home country. In the background, he could hear Asuka and other people talking with each other, but he didn’t pay any attention to what they were talking about. Shinji was only brought back to the real world, and it wasn’t by a large degree either, when the aircraft flew through a cloud and when it came out the other side, he found himself staring not at a red wasteland, but a city.

The metropolis was surrounded by a large circular wall as high as many of the skyscrapers that were contained within it. The buildings within were ringed by forest and greenery. Highways, rail lines, and aircraft in the air crisscrossed each other going from one ring to another. Shinji leaned closer to the window to get a better look at the city spread out under him. The aircraft descended as it approached the center on a landing strip at the base of a tower, the height of the building extending above the outer wall.
Shinji took no notice of either the sound of the engines cooling down or of the people on board getting up in order to disembark. His focus on what was happening outside his window was interrupted by Asuka grabbing his arm to bring him out of the craft. Asuka, Shinji, the one modeled after Rei Ayanami, as well as a few other people, stood on the tarmac as they were approached by a platoon of soldiers. At the head of the platoon was a man in a business suit. He was young, appearing no older than his late 20s. Compared to the more disciplined and assertive walking of the platoon, he walked in a more easygoing matter, his focus more on the computer tablet in his hand than on his surroundings. It was only when he was a few feet from the Children did he stop and look up at them.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, Captain,” he said to Asuka in Japanese though his American accent could be discerned.

“I should thank you for rescuing us, Vice-Commander,” Asuka replied. “Have you heard anything about the Wunder?”

“She’s already here,” the vice-commander stated. She’s being put in dry dock as we speak. She took a bit of a beating in the engagement. Estimates for repairs are about three weeks or so.” He tapped at the tablet.

“What about Unit 02?” she asked.

“Both it and Unit 08 have been retrieved. Unit 08 appears to have taken significant damage. As for Unit 02…” he took a second look at the data again. “We were surprised we retrieved as much as we did. I haven’t heard yet from Dr. Akagi on what can be done to get them back in action, but we hope to hear from her soon.” He glanced at both Shinji and the pilot of the Mark 9. He gestured with his fingers to the soldiers, who proceeded to take them to the tower.

“I have already arranged for the VTOL to take you back to the Wunder,” he continued as he went back to concentrating on his tablet. “You are relieved Captain. Take it easy, okay?” Asuka stood there for a moment tilting her head a little to maintain her view of Shinji getting taken away.

“What’s going to happen with the brat?” she asked. The Vice-Commander looked up from his tablet at her, his eyes narrowed to a glare.

“I said you’re relieved.” His tone was cold and direct. The two stared at each other for several seconds before Asuka turned around and marched back to the aircraft. The Vice-Commander watched the vessel fly off before he walked back to the tower.

Over the next couple of weeks, Shinji was questioned by several people about his time at Nerv headquarters. At first, he couldn’t give them the answers they wanted; one reason was that he didn’t know the answer, and the other reason was that he couldn’t explain too well what he did know, the trauma he experienced was still affecting his mind. The best that they could get out of him were either one-word-only answers or the yes-and-no type. As time went on, he was able to come out of himself a little more and answer in greater detail. Even then, the information that he gave was limited. While they did glean some information on the workings of Nerv, it wasn’t enough to form any sort of strategy to use against them. Even the knowledge obtained from the Ayanami type was not sufficient enough to be useful. During this time he was confined, but it was considered comfortable with his room including a bed, desk and a few books, though they weren’t touched too often.
Several days after he arrived, Shinji was escorted to an office and told to wait there. When he was alone, he looked around noting the bare desk and the general emptiness of the room. But what caught his attention was the large window that looked out onto the city. He walked over to it and gazed at the scene that was in front of him. He took note of where the streets and buildings were and how they connected to each other. He also saw people, though they looked minute from where he was standing, in their comings and goings. Shinji began to wonder if the sight that was before him was even real. He thought that a place such as this shouldn’t even exist. Any further thoughts that would have had on the matter were interrupted by a voice that came from behind him.

“You should see it from the top of the building here. The view is spectacular.” Shinji turned around to see the Vice-Commander standing at the doorway, a pleasant smile on his face.

“What is the name of this place?” Shinji asked him.

“The official name is New Constantinople,” the Vice-Commander replied. “I find it weird though since we are in what was once Japan, you would think that it should have a Japanese name. Hell, some were arguing during construction that it should be called New Atlantis; their argument being that the design is similar to what was described of the legendary city, but that would have been even more stupid. We’re nowhere near the ocean, let alone the Atlantic.”

“I see,” Shinji responded, not knowing what to make of the man’s story. “Thank you um…”

“Oh right,” the Vice-Commander said. “How could I forget? Stanley Burke, Vice-Commander of the Wille branch here. A pleasure.” He stretched out his hand in greeting. Shinji looked at him with a confused look on his face.

“Crap, I forgot the Japanese bow,” Burke said retracting his hand and replacing it with a bow, which Shinji reciprocated. “Have a seat.” Burke made his way to his desk chair while Shinji took a seat on the other side.

“So,” Burke began, “are you comfortable? Is there anything that we forgot to provide to you during your time here?” Shinji shook his head. “I’m going to order some tea. I’ll get a cup for you too." Shinji gave no answer as he made the order. Though he was looking at the Vice-Commander, his eyes were focused on the window and what lay outside.

“Um…how many more cities like this are there?” he asked.

“Well…there are several,” Burke replied. “Some as nice as this one, others a bit smaller. There are even cities that survived both second and third impacts. I hear Zurich is nice this time of year. Why do you ask?”

“So…the world isn’t destroyed?” Shinji asked.

“It’s not as great as it once was, but there’s still a decent amount left.”

“Well, I…I was told that it was me who…” Shinji blurted out, but couldn’t continue as Burke interrupted him.

“Wait, wait, time out. Who said you destroyed the world?”

“Kaworu,” Shinji replied wincing at the memory that was still too strong and too painful. The Vice-Commander then leaned back in his chair and let out a breath.

“Nagisa,” he muttered with a fair amount of venom in his voice. He leaned forward and looked straight as Shinji.

“Listen to me,” Burke said. “Whatever you have been told about what happened during your time inside Unit 01, you did not receive a complete picture. Part of that, while unintentional, was done by some members of our organization. But it looks like now you were misled while you were at Nerv.”

“But Dr. Akagi said that I was being punished.” Shinji moved his around his neck where the DSS choker once was.

“Ritsuko Akagi. A brilliant mind, but she has a terrible bedside manner,” Burke said more to himself than to Shinji. He put his head in his hands and took a deep breath before raising it up again to face him. He didn’t want to have this conversation right now. It was too soon. He took another breath while he chose his words.

“Shinji, the offense that she was talking about is that you took the Eva’s power for yourself. An Evangelion is an engine that can manifest the will of its pilot.” Shinji looked at him in confusion.

“Engine? Manifest my will?”

“Maybe I didn’t translate the right words,” Burke said. He stopped when a Wille officer came into he office carrying a tray with two cups of tea, which he set on the table. Burke waited until he left before he started to speak again. “What I’m saying is that you have the ability to awaken an Eva, and it will grant what you desire the most. And you used that ability the wrong way. I will give you further details later on. Not because we want to keep you in the dark, but that you need more time before you are ready. For the moment, take in what I’ve told you now. To tell you the truth, we should be grateful you didn’t awaken Unit 01 earlier than you did.”

“I could have awakened it earlier?” Shinji asked.

“The way you handled yourself in the fights against the Angels could have allowed an awakening,” Burke replied.

“I don’t understand. I defeated the Angels,” Shinji said. Burke then activated a keyboard that appeared on his desk and began typing. Within, thirty seconds, a holographic screen appeared between the two. On the screen, was a still image of Unit 01 stabbing the Fifth Angel.

“When you engaged the Fifth Angel, you ignored a direct order to retreat, placing not only yourself but two of your friends in immediate danger.” He pressed a couple more keys bringing up a still of the Sixth Angel. “With the Sixth Angel, you initially refused to deploy, even though the operation was based around an extremely strict timetable.” Shinji did not have anything to say in reply. Burke continued on, now bringing up a picture of Unit 03. “With the Ninth Angel, it was your refusal to engage that led to the injury of Captain Shikinami and—“

“That wasn’t me!” Shinji yelled. “It was Father. He was the one who—“

“If you had fought, the dummy plug wouldn’t have been activated and there might have been less damage all around,” Burke countered. Shinji closed his mouth as the Vice-Commander hit the keys once more. “Of course, anyone would understand how you felt over what happened but,” now the screen showed a video of Unit 01 on top of Nerv’s pyramid stomping on it, “this was not the way to deal with it. By the time the Tenth Angel attacked, who would have been surprised that you would awaken Unit 01 then?” Shinji shrunk in his chair, head down, not looking at Burke.

“What…was I supposed to do?” he asked. Burke leaned back in his chair and let out a long breath.

“As the Bard put kid, there’s the rub,” he replied. “At the time, no one outside of your father or sub-commander Fuyutsuki would have known what could have happened.”

“This is why no one wants me the pilot the Eva?” Shinji looked up towards him. Burke nodded yes.

“You have a very great and very dangerous power,” he added. “When it comes down to it, you’re too unpredictable to pilot at this time. There is more to say, but like I said, it’s best to wait for a while.” Shinji remained silent for several minutes thinking over what Burke said to him, his tea growing cold. The Vice-Commander waited, sipping his tea, not doing or saying anything to disturb Shinji’s contemplation. The boy then raised his head up again.

“What’s going to happen to me now?” he asked. Burke was about to answer when he was interrupted.

“I’m glad you asked that Shinji,” a voice that sounded familiar to him said. The two turned towards the source, with Burke standing up as well.

“Commander,” he said. “I didn’t hear you come in.” As the Commander drew closer to him, Shinji’s eyes widened at the man he was seeing. He had more than a few wrinkles on his face and there were streams of silver-gray in his hair, but Shinji could still recognize him.

“Kaji?” he said, not quite believing it.

“In the flesh,” he replied. “It’s good to see you again.”

“You’re in charge here?” Shinji asked him.

“I know. Some days, I have trouble believing it,” Burke remarked. Kaji gave a slight smile.

“Indeed,” he said. “By all rights, Katsuragi should be the one running the place, but you can’t keep that woman off the field.” At the mention of her name, Shinji appeared as if he was going to break down once again.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a voice that while it was louder than a whisper, was still hard to hear him. “I couldn’t do what you asked of me.” Kaji did hear him.

“I know, but you did what you knew you could, and I do appreciate it.” Shinji looked up towards him.

“Now,” Kaji continued, “as for your future…” he looked towards Burke, who grabbed his tablet and began to bring up information. Shinji was growing afraid over what was going to happen to him and those few seconds of silence seemed to stretch into timelessness.

“Ah, here we are,” Burke said more to himself than to the other people in the room. “The fact of the matter is we won’t be able to get Shinji into school until the beginning of the new term which is about five months away. It’s also a good idea to wait a little bit anyway because you still need to get up to speed with life here. So, we are giving you a tutor for the time being.

“School?” Shinji asked him.

“Yes,” Burke replied. “Despite what it says on your birth certificate, you are for all intents and purposes 14 years old. Now as far as your living arrangements…” He began tapping at the tablet.

“I think it’s a good idea that he should live with someone. A roommate,” Kaji stated. Burke looked up from his tablet.

“If we could find someone who could be a good fit for him, it might be a matter worth pursuing,” he replied.

“Excellent,” Kaji declared. “I’m sure you and Shinji will get along great.” Burke remained silent for a good thirty seconds as Kaji’s words sunk into him.

“I’m sorry sir, could you repeat that?” was his only response.

“Shinji should stay with you,” Kaji said. “It’s not like you have anyone else at your place.”

“That’s because I’ve been so busy, I’m barely there to begin with,” Burke countered. “No offense to Shinji, but outside of when he first arrived in the city, this is the first time he and I met.”

“If I remember correctly, that didn’t stop him moving in with a stranger before,” Kaji said. Burke wasn’t done yet.

“Certainly as you already know him, you could take him in Commander.” Kaji just shook his head no.

“He wouldn’t want to hang out with an old man like me,” he said. “It’s normal for two young bachelors to be roommates.” Burke was starting to run out of arguments.

“Well, what if I wanted to bring a girl back to my apartment one night?”

“One, from what I know of your dating record, that doesn’t appear to have happened yet. Two, even if you did, I’m sure the lady would be so impressed by what you’re doing for Shinji it’ll work out for you in the end.” Burke could only shake his head in dumbfoundment, his face a little read at the slight insult.

“Commander’s orders,” Kaji continued. “Trust me, this will be good for the both of you.”

“Very well sir,” Burke replied not sounding enthusiastic. “I believe I can move him in as early as this evening. Is that all right with you Shinji?” The two adults turned to him.

“S…Sure,” he answered not knowing if it was the correct answer.

“Great,” Kaji stated. “I know you don’t have many personal effects, but we’ll pick them up in a little bit. Burke, can you see to it?” The Vice-Commander got on the line to make the request. Shinji then spoke up.

“What about the other pilot?” he asked them.

“Ah, the Ayanami type. She’ll be remaining here,” Burke said. “But she’s not going to be confined like a prisoner. In fact, we can arrange for you to visit her when you want to. Do you wish to see her?” Shinji hesitated before he answered.

“No. Not right now.”

“Oh..Okay, that’s fine,” Burke said. A female Wille officer had arrived by this point.

“Okay Shinji, just follow her and she’ll get you all set up,” Kaji said.

“Sure,” Shinji bowed to them in farewell and the two watched him leave the office.

“Seriously?” Burke said to his superior. “He and I are going to be living together?” Kaji nodded yes in reply.

“I’ll give it a try sir, but I can’t guarantee things will work out,” Burke carried on. “I just hope that we can do right by him after all he’s been through.”

“True,” Kaji replied, “for he still may be mankind’s best hope.”

“But he has to agree to the plan,” Burke said. “No lies, no manipulation. When the time comes, if it comes, we tell him the truth, and leave it to his judgment.”

“Agreed,” Kaji said, “but I have faith that if the worst come to worst, he’ll make the right decision. Speaking of which, how is the Arbiter Program proceeding?”

“Ten percent behind schedule,” Burke replied going back to his tablet. “With Shinji here, we might be able to start catching up.”

“Good,” Kaji said. “We just need the time to prepare.”

“Can’t count on it,” Burke stated. “Based on the Wunder’s report and what we were able to glean from Shinji and the Mark 09 pilot, Nerv might be closer to its goal than we are to ours.”

“I know that, but we also have to hope that Katsuragi and her group are able to do something about it.” Kaji paused for several seconds before speaking again as he stroked the stubble on his chin, as if he caught something in his words. “How do you think Katsuragi would react to our plan involving Shinji?”

“Not well,” Burke replied. “The only unknown is whether she marches in the building to confront us or she saves herself the walk and crashes the Wunder into it.”

“Do you want to place a bet on which option?” Kaji asked. The two of them chuckled over it, but Burke regained his previous composure.

“When should the Captain find out?” He asked. Kaji took a breath. He knew what the answer was, but he hated to say it out loud.

“When it’s too late for her to do a damn thing about it.”


Tell me if any of you have trouble reading this due to the way it's formatted and I'll try to fix it. Also, I will try to think up a title.

MisterHalt
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Re: Untitled post 3.33 fic

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Postby MisterHalt » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:48 am

The format looks good to me, although there are a couple paragraphs that need spacing out. I'm terrible at names, so I'm afraid I'll be no help in thinking of a name.

It seems so far like these people essentially ran off with Asuka, Shinji and the Ayanami-type before the Wunder could pick them up. Does Misato even know that they're at New Constantinople?
Strength is being able to crush a tomato. Dexterity is being able to dodge a tomato. Constitution is being able to eat a bad tomato. Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. Charisma is being able to sell a tomato based fruit salad.

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Re: Untitled post 3.33 fic

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Postby Lennik » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:15 pm

I really like this premise so far. I also like that you went with the angle that Shinji didn't actually destroy the world. The only criticism I have is that I feel like you rushed through Shinji getting interrogated after arriving at New Constantinople by just describing it rather than showing it. I would have liked to see his emotional state and his initial reactions to the whole situation. Other than that, I like where it's going.

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Re: Untitled post 3.33 fic

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Postby cyharding » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:53 pm

Chapter 2
SPOILER: Show
After a few days, Shinji observed as he was cleaning the living room was that compared to Misato’s old apartment, Burke’s place was a lot more tidy, even if it was a bit on the dusty side. That feature was the first thing he noticed when he first had a look at all of the rooms when he moved in. There weren’t piles of trash on the floor, nor empty beer cans and liquor bottles strewn about. Burke did have alcohol, but it was no more than two small bottles in a cabinet, and it didn’t look like they had been opened in a while as the bottles had some dust on them as well.

He had explored other parts of the apartment as well. The day before, after much hesitation and waiting until the man was gone, he ventured into Burke’s bedroom. There wasn’t too much to see at first. There was what anyone would expect in a bedroom: a bed and a dresser and a closet which Shinji assumed had to contain clothes on hangers. There were also a few pictures on the wall. He saw what appeared to be members of his family and perhaps friends of his. It was one of those photographs that stood out to him. There was Burke, several years younger, in a Wille uniform like the ones he had seen on the Wunder. There were several others in the photo dressed similar to him, but there were two that Shinji recognized. One was Kaji and the other was Misato. She was smiling along with the others, and Shinji saw a trace of the woman he used to know, but he also saw that the smile was forced. There was very little of the light that he remembered of her in the photo. There was however, a good deal of the woman he met when he was on the Wunder.

Shinji had to admit that Burke’s apartment was nice, but that there was also something off about it as well. The best word that he could find for this feeling was sterile. Burke as rule came home late and even then it was straight to bed, followed by getting up early the next morning. There were times he would take Shinji out to a few places around the city, but to Shinji, he acted more as a hired tour guide than someone enjoying their day off.

He concluded that Burke’s apartment didn’t have too much of that lived in feeling, unlike Misato’s place, mess and all. Memories of his day-to-day life with her flooded back into the forefront of his mind. In reviewing those memories, Shinji thought not only of the time he had with Misato and the others, but on what could have been if he hadn’t been absorbed into Unit 01. Would be have been out there right now fighting alongside them, he asked himself. Though he hated the thought of continuing to fight in the Eva, especially for as long as they have, he still felt sadness and guilt at the fact the choice was taken away from him as much by himself than by his father or anyone else for that matter. Shinji finished up his cleaning and laid down on the couch as soon fell asleep, those thoughts preventing his nap from being a peaceful one.

“Based on our most current estimates, the Wunder should be ready for launch within one week.” Misato was giving this report to both Kaji and Burke over a direct line, the two men were seated in Kaji’s office.

“That’s good to hear,” Kaji replied. “We can’t wait to see you back out there, though it appears that Nerv has been quiet all this time. Long range observation hasn’t reported any noticeable activity.”

“After what happened recently, I don’t like the fact that it’s been so quiet,” Misato stated. Burke was nodding his head in agreement.

“We need you to get a closer look at the area,” he added. “Unfortunately, neither Unit 02 nor Unit 08 will be available. The fact that Dr. Akgai has a plan to repair them, I mean if we can even call it repairs, is quite audacious.”

“It’s the best option we have in so short of time,” Misato answered, “unless you give us Units 10 and 11 in compensation.”

“No can do,” Kaji declared. “They’re needed here in case of attack. It’s also why your pilots will be stationed here on standby for them while you’re gone.”

“I’m sure they’ll appreciate being able to stay in the city for a while longer. However, I’m not too keen on giving up my XO.”

“Well, she is needed for supervising the repairs,” Burke remarked. “Dr. Hood can give some assistance, but he has his own Evas to take care of.” He went back to his tablet as Misato stared at him for a few moments until he looked up from his tablet, noticing what she was doing.

“Is something the matter Katsuragi?” Kaji asked.

“I…heard that Shinji is now living with you vice-commander.” She said.

“That’s correct,” Burke replied. “It’s been only a week, and there are still some things to work out, but I would like to think it’s going fine so far.”

“I see,” Misato said followed by a pause. “How is he being monitored?”

“Intelligence has eyes on him,” Burke answered. “He can leave my apartment when he wishes, I made sure to tell him that. I even showed him a convenience store within walking distance. So far, he hasn’t gone anywhere on his own volition.”

“That might be for the best. Could it be that you’re giving him too much leeway?” Misato asked. Burke titled his head in confusion as he processed her question.

“I… don’t understand your question Captain,” Burke replied. “He’s not using much of the leeway he has already. He can’t leave the city by himself if that’s what you mean, and if you think he could be recaptured by Nerv, they would have to stage a full scale attack on the city, unless you believe a Mark 04 can disguise itself as a janitor or something.”

“What about being able to have access the Eva Units?” she asked. Burke’s face was beginning to develop a scowl.

“Not possible,” he replied. “Unless he has direct permission from either myself or the Commander, he can’t enter the facility to use the men’s room, let alone go to the Eva cages.”

“We need to take every precaution-” Misato began to say before getting cut off by Burke.

“And speaking of precautions, I do have some questions regarding those precautions.”

“Questions?” she asked.

“During out interrogations, Shinji talked about the few hours that he spent aboard the Wunder. Let’s just say he didn’t paint too rosy of a picture of his encounter with bridge crew.” The two men could tell she had gritted his teeth.

“There were circumstances beyond our control,” as all she said.

“Circumstances you say? You had him brought to the bridge when he was still unable to know which way was up,” Burke countered. “Why would you do something like that? Couldn’t you have gone to where he was under lockdown?”

“We had to confirm if it was really him,” Misato argued. “I was in no position to leave the bridge. We did have the Nemesis series after all.”

“I more than understand that you and the crew were under tremendous strain during that battle, but I have been going through your report and the ship’s log, and I found that the attack didn’t happen until after he was brought to the bridge. So I’m asking again, why was he brought onto the bridge? Why couldn’t it wait until the ship was relatively safe?” Misato took a breath before she answered him.

“The bridge was the safest place on the ship to calibrate the DSS System. And as I stated earlier, there was no solid confirmation he he is Shinji Ikari. I felt that it wasn’t necessary for me to leave the bridge at that time.” Burke didn’t buy it, but he decided to let it side She was right that precautions needed to be made at that point. But as it is now certain that this is Shinji, he still couldn’t get her reasoning.

“Even if your explanation is adequate,” Burke stated, “one of the biggest problems I have with your handling of the matter is that when the Mark 09 attacked and was about to capture the boy, you threatened to blow his head off right in front of him. I’m surprised he didn’t flip you off when he boarded it.”

“You weren’t there damn it!” She shouted at him. “The situation was becoming out of control. Something had to be done! But Ritz…she told me…to activate it…” She was beginning to shake from the influx of emotions.

“Enough of this!” Kaji said. “I’m sure everyone here can agree that what’s done is done and there’s no going back. Captain, I hope to see the Wunder take flight again. Anything else Vice-Commander?”

“No Sir,” he wasn’t looking at the screen.

“And you Captain?” Kaji asked.

“Only one question for the Vice-Commander,” she replied. It was apparent to the other two that she had regained her composure. “Do you believe that you will be able to do a good job in taking care of Shinji?” Burke turned around and stared at her before he spoke.

“A better job, I’d say,” was his answer. Misato sat there for a moment, the other two unable to read her face.

“I’m signing out. Thank you,” she said at a rapid rate before the screen shut down. The two men sat at the table in silence. Burke shifted his eyes to Kaji, who was looking right at him and there was no sign on his face suggesting he was in a good mood.

“You know,” he said after a brief pause, “you could have been on better terms with her if you just shot her with your gun.” Burke laid his head low on the table.

“I know sir, I took it too far,” he said. “It was just that she was pushing it on the matter, and with what else I’ve been hearing, I let my temper got the best of me.”

“What do you mean what else?” Kaji asked. “What do you know?”

“They wouldn’t admit this to you willingly,” Burke began as he sat himself back up. “But I have been approached by several senior staff members as well as some city officials asking that we put a DSS system on him. After some prodding, they admitted that it was the Captain who brought it up with them.”

“I see,” Kaji flung the stylus he was holding on the table in not too gentle a manner.

“I’ll admit she means well,” Burke continued, “but putting one on him now wouldn’t do anyone any good, least of all Shinji. And it would throw our plans for him out the window.” He slumped down on the chair again. “I knew I should have gone out there as soon as we knew he was recovered.”

“You wouldn’t have made it before the Mark 09’s attack,” Kaji replied. “You know that.”

“I suppose,” Burke said. “I will apologize to her, but please let it wait until there’s situation where cooler heads must prevail.” Kaji nodded his head in affirmation as he picked up a tablet and began to bring up information.

“So he hasn’t left the apartment on his own?” he asked.

“Nope, but it isn’t as if he’s uncomfortable. He has plenty of food, and he can keep himself entertained.” Kaji raised an eyebrow at him.

“He’s a kid, not a dog,” he said. “He needs to get out once in a while.”

“And he has,” Burke sat right back up. “I’ve taken him places. A couple of days ago, I took him out to the park on the fourth ring.”

“Again, I can’t help noticing the dog imagery,” Kaji said. “I think he needs a job.”

“A job? What kind of job?” Burke asked. Kaji handed him the tablet and Burke read the info, his brow furrowing and his mouth scrunching up into a twisted shape. He put the down the tablet and straightened out his face.

“Sir, I’ve been in combat, you know that I’m not a coward. But there is no way in hell that I would do something like this, let alone the kid.” Kaji just snorted at his answer.

“Maybe you are a coward after all,” he said. “He needs something to do. Something that gets him out in the world. Having the tutor is not enough.” Burke looked at the tablet again to reread the job description.

“Do you believe he can do this?” he asked.

“If he could fight Angels, I’m sure he can do this,” Kaji answered.

“I’d still rather take on Unit 07 and the Devastator system again,” Burke stated as he stood up. “I’ll ask him, but I’m not sure he’ll go for it.”

“I think you’ll be able to convince him,” Kaji said.

“You seem to have a lot of confidence in Shinji and I,” Burke said. Do you ever think you could lose that bet?”

“You can never win, if you don’t take a gamble,” was Kaji’s reply. Burke shook his head as he left the meeting room.

It was the smell of cooking vegetables that woke Shinji from his nap. He sat up on the couch and discovered Burke working in front of the stove. He got himself up and walked into the kitchen.

“I see you’re awake,” Burke said as he kept his attention on the cooking. “It should be done in a little bit, but I can’t guarantee it’ll taste good.”

“Burke, you’re back,” Shinji said.

“Yeah, I was able to get away a little early, so I decided to make dinner,” he replied. “By the way, is the food I’ve been getting okay with you? I’ve only started to get grocery deliveries. It used to be be I just grabbed all of my meals from the cafeteria at work.”

“It’s fine,” Shinji said. He was amazed when he first found out that there was food. Bread, fruit and vegetables, even meat in limited quantities. With his experience at Nerv HQ, he thought that these items were no longer around. “I’ll set the table,” Shinji went to the cupboards and began to set the plates, glasses and flatware for Burke (chopsticks for himself) needed. When everything was ready, Burke brought out the meal, a crude stir fry, and placed some on each plate. Shinji had to admit when he took a bite that although the dish was amateurish, it did taste good. One more thing that was different between him and Misato. They ate in silence for several minutes before Burke spoke.

“So, how have you been spending your days,” he asked. “I dusted a bit today.”

“Oh, um, well…Doing a little of this and that,” Shinji replied looking down at his food.

“Okay,” Burke stated. “I was asking because I would think that you would get really bored being cooped up in here all day.”

“It’s not a problem,” Shinji replied. “I mean, it’s not like there’s anything I can do out there.”

“On that point, I have to disagree,” Burke said stepping away from the table and returning within seconds with his tablet in hand, which he handed to Shinji. “Take a look at this.” Shinji began to read the job description, his mouth starting to quiver and his eyes widen at the details that were before him.”

“I…I…can’t…no.” He managed to stammer out. “I’ve never done anything like this.”

“True, but it could be a good thing for you to try,” Burke took a long drink of water before he spoke further. “I mean, everybody when they start something for the first time doesn’t perform it like an expert.”

“But still,” Shinji continued. “I don’t know what would happen if—”

“You’re not going to be alone,” Burke cut in. “There are going to be adults there who know what they are doing.”

“Well…” Shinji sighed in resignation. “If you have no one else, then…” Burke saw this line coming. He read the report from the psychiatrists and knew what he wanted to say to counter it, though it might be risk to do it this way as well.

“Oh sure, there are other people who could do it. More qualified too.” Shinji looked up at him in surprise.

“Then why do you want me to—” Burke held up his hand so he could speak.

“The reason we want you to take this on is because we believe it might you a good opportunity to learn about the world.“ Shinji paused for a moment before he spoke. He remembered hearing those words somewhere. They sounded familiar to him.

“Really?” he asked Burke, who nodded yes.

“Let’s make a deal,” he said. “Give it a week, around three hours a day or so. If by the end of that week, you still don’t think it’s right for you, you don’t have to do it anymore. No questions asked, no hard feelings. What do you say?” Shinji mulled the offer for a few moments before he spoke.

“Only one week?” he asked.

“Only one,” Burke answered. Shinji became silent for another minute thinking over the pros and cons of the whole deal. He concluded that there was no reason not to trust him.

“I’ll do it,” he told him.

“Good to hear that,” Burke said. “I’ll get in touch with the people in charge, and you can start in a couple of days. Sound good?

“Sure,” Shinji replied. Burke finished his meal and started to pick up his dishes “I’ll put these in the sink and then I’ll take a look at this thing I’ve heard about called tee-vee.”

Shinji gave a slight chuckle at his remark before he went back to his food. Despite Burke’s assurances, he still felt anxious at whole prospect. He was unsure if it was going to be all right, if he could do a good job, or even if he would be welcomed there at all. He finished his plate, washed up the dishes, and seeing that the program Burke was watching didn’t interest him at all, went to bed.

“I should congratulate you,” Kaji said to Burke. “I knew that you could convince him.”

“I only bought a week,” Burke replied, “and I did promise that afterwords, he could stop if he wanted to.”

“Fair enough,” Kaji said getting in his chair. “We couldn’t ask for anything more, but I have a feeling he’ll stick with it.”

“You seem to know the moves before they’re made,” Burke observed as he looked through some paperwork. “You’re reminding me of someone else I heard about that treated people as pawns.” Kaji leaned back in his chair and smiled, amused.

“I’m not that manipulative,“ he replied. “I’m just a firm believer in the goodness of human beings.”

“So, you are placing a bet on him?” Burke countered.

“If you want to put it that way,” Kaji answered. “Is Shinji there now?”

“I brought him there before I came to main meeting,” Burke said. “He has been there for about an hour or so. Our reserve pilots, on the other hand, you can’t have a good idea where they are at. The show up for duties; sync tests, briefings, the usual. But the moment they’re just on standby, the two go off to who knows where. I’ve seen them walking around in the corridors.”

“They’re probably just glad to get off the Wunder,” Kaji said.

“That may be the case,” Burke said. “The few times I’ve passed them Shikinami kept giving me he stink eye.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but I think I know the reason why,” Burke continued. “I’m afraid that I was more than a little cold to her when Shinji was first brought in.”

“Ah, so that might explain the roaming,” Kaji said more to himself than to his subordinate.

“Sir?”

“Nothing. It’s nothing,” Kaji waved it off. “So, what next for you?”

“A meeting with the tactical division,” Burke answered. “When that’s over, it should be time to pick up Shinji.”

There have been many things that Shinji has found looking at him that have both surprised and unnerved him. The first time he saw Unit 01, every time he saw one of the Angels, and even when he had those people staring at him on the Wunder. However, what was staring at him this time was not only unnerving him, but was unnerving him despite the knowledge that it couldn’t harm him in any way. The four-year-old girl that was looking at him was called away by one of the adults at they daycare center. He looked around at the controlled chaos of the play area.

“Shinji, could you help me here for a second?” One of the caretakers called out to him. Shinji went over and helped her grabbed a large toy house off a high shelf and gave to a few seven year old girls followed by assisting another caretaker settle a dispute between two boys though he didn’t participate too much in the settling, nor could he figure out what the dispute was over in the first place.

All those three hours, Shinji helped the adults with various tasks that needed doing. The children who were there eyed the big kid with a mixture of curiosity, fascination, and to some of them, a little fear; not that the feeling was based on anything Shinji did or said, but I was based on the usual apprehension when a child meets someone for the first time. Shinji, in turn, got a sense of those feelings, adding to his general uneasiness. When he was done for the day, Burke came to pick him up. When they were out of the daycare center, Shinji hunched himself over, letting the stress out of him.

“Tough day?” Burke asked him. Shinji nodded yes, not saying anything else.

“The first day of anything is often the toughest,” he added. “As the days go on, you find that it does get, well if not easier, at least you find yourself able to handle it better.”

“If you say so,” Shinji said not looking up.

“Okay then, We’ll head back to the apartment real quick so you could get freshened up, and then we’re heading out to eat.”

“We’re going out to eat?” Shinji now looked up at him. “Why?”

“To celebrate your first day,” Burke replied. “It’s not a place I go to too often. Ninety percent of the time, I just grab something from the cafeteria at work, but it’s still a good place to eat.”

“Okay.” Burke noticed that Shinji has developed a small smile on his face. That action surprised Burke. He never expected that Shinji would smile, at least not to soon since he arrived. This brought a smile to his own face as the two left the building for their meal.

The next day, Shinji was back with the kids. It was still difficult to to do some things and he still felt overwhelmed. However, he also got an idea what Burke was talking about. It did seem to him that the tasks were a little easier, even if it was by just a little. During the middle of his shift, he found that there wasn’t a thing that had to be done at that moment. He looked around saw the children playing and the caretakers at one corner of the room chatting amongst themselves. He then felt something grab and tug one his arms. He looked down and discovered the same little girl from yesterday tugging at him.

“Um, is something wrong?” he asked her, unsure of what was going to happen. The girl started to pull him behind her as she led him to one part of the room.

“Come on,” she told him.

“Where are you taking me?” he asked her. He was surprised that for a young girl, she had a strong grip. The girl led Shinji to corner where there was a small table and a set of chair. Several bowls, glasses, plates and other items were on the table.

“Sit,” the girl said as she sat down herself. Shinji sat down in the kid-sized chair, his knees reaching his chest. The girl began to set out some plastic plates and tea cups. She also brought out a kettle. She poured into Shinji’s cup, but nothing came out of the kettle. She repeated the process with her own cup with the same result. She then brought the cup to her lips and pretended to drink.

“Yummy,” she said when she set the cup the down. “Drink it,” she told Shinji. Understanding what was going on at last, he brought his own cup and appeared to gulping it as well. He set the cup down.

“Is it good?” she asked.

“Delicious,” Shinji replied playing along.

“Would you like some more?” she then asked.

“Yes please,” he answered. The girl, who Shinji learned while they were playing was named Akane, ‘poured’ another cup for him and he drank the imaginary liquid. He found himself enjoying playing with her and was getting more and more into the tea party. A hauntingly familiar voice interrupted their playtime.

“So this is where you were.” Shinji turned and found himself facing Asuka along with Mari, who waved to him.

“Asuka…” was the only thing he could get out of his mouth. She eyed him in turn taking stock in the situation she found Shinji in.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she asked him. “I saw you through the window and had to do a double take.”

“I help the adults here,” he said.

“I don’t see how,” she countered looking around. “You probably just get in their way.” She picked up a crocodile puppet that a kid dropped on the floor and looked at it. “I mean, do you even know what you’re doing?”

“No, not really,” Shinji answered,, “but I’m learning.” He paused for a few seconds watching her put her hand in the puppet and take it off again before he spoke again. “You know, you’re lucky.”

“Lucky?” she asked.

“I mean, you know what you’re doing,” Shinji continued as he was looking at one of cups from the tea set. “You at least have some purpose in your life. I envy you.” Asuka put the puppet down and walked towards him. When he looked up, she was standing right over him, her face was hidden by her hair.

“You envy me?” she asked, her voice stern. “You envy someone who’s been in combat more times than I can count, who has been on missions where the odds of me dying were greater than success, who wonders almost every day if this is the last day I’ll live? Do you envy that?” Her voice had gotten loud enough so that every kid ans adult in the room stopped what they were doing and turned towards the two. Even Mari began to fidget under the sudden tenseness that came into the room.

“You’re more naive than I thought,” she sneered. “Pathetic.” Asuka felt some movement below her and looked down to find Akane staring up at her. She bent down to meet the girl at eye level.

“Hey little girl, could you play over there for a little while? We’re talking important stuff here,” she said to her in a fake nice voice. Akane answered by giving her the raspberry at point blank range.

“Ack!” Asuka yelled as she wiped the spit from her face. Mari covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle her laughter. Shinji just sat there stupefied at the whole matter.

“Shinji, you idiot!” she declared. This is all your fault!”

“What do you mean my fault?” he replied. “I didn’t do anything.”

“You probably told her to do it,” she countered. “You two are perfect for each other. You’re both brats.” Whatever else she was going to say was interrupted by Akane, who stood up and walked to her.

“You’re mean!” she yelled while at the same time kicking Asuka in the shin. Asuka screamed as she held her shin and yelled several new words the children learned that neither the caretakers nor the children’s parents appreciated too well. Mari could not hold it any longer and she burst out laughing. Within minutes, Asuka, with Mari’s help, limped her way out of the center, but not before glaring at Shinji as she left. He glanced towards Akane, who beamed a huge smile as if asking for validation. He gave a weak smile in reply, which caused Akane to smile even louder before running off to meet some other kids to tell them her side of the story. Shinji remained in his tiny chair, replaying the recent events wondering what just happened.

A couple of days later, the daycare group was gathered on the roof of the Wille facility. The kids were running around enjoying the change of scenery and sense of freedom while the caretakers ran themselves ragged to keep everybody under control. Shinji, who was holding Akane, stared out at the city below. He believed that he would never get tired of the sight. He didn’t notice Kaji slipping in right next to him.

“Wonderful view,” Kaji remarked. At first startled by his voice, Shinji turned to face him.

“It really is Commander,” Shinji replied.

“Oh don’t be so formal,” Kaji said. “You can still call me Kaji, like the old days.”

“Oh, okay,” Shinji replied. “We should thank you for letting us up here.”

“Don’t mention it,” he stated. It’s not everyday that people can see the Wunder launch.”

“When do we see it?” Akane asked, wiggling around in Shinji’s arms.

“In a little while,” Shinji cooed. He glanced at Kaji.

“According to the schedule, she should launch in about five minutes or so,” he answered. “Burke is managing it in the Command Center, so he would have a better idea, but he hasn’t told me of any changes so far.”

“Okay.” Shinji said. “I see that there’s more than just us waiting for the launch.” The two took notice the people looking through windows as well as on top of roofs and on balconies.

“Word gets around,” Kaji stated. “The ship and crew are rather popular. There’s even a few familiar faces checking out the scene.” Shinji looked where he was pointing and saw Asuka and Mari on an upper roof.

“I heard there was an incident with those two a couple of days ago, at the daycare center.” He added.

“Yeah, they’re not welcome there anymore,” Shinji replied.

“I’ll make it a point to tell them,” Kaji said with a smirk. Their attention was then drawn to a noise that came from the outer wall. The two, as well as everyone else, saw the Wunder rise into the air. The kids began to shout with glee with the exception of a few that began to cry in fear. The Wunder hovered for a few seconds before it turned towards the city. The ship flew over the tower giving everyone a closeup view of its underbelly. It then crossed the other side of the city and sped off.

“Well, there she goes,” Kaji remarked.

“It’s gone,” Akane said.

“Don’t worry,” Shinji replied. “We get to go to the park next week.”

“Next week?” Kaji asked. Shinji nodded yes not understanding the implication of his question.

“All right then,” he said with a grin. “Time to get back to work.” The other caretakers were gathering the kids to take them back. Shinji turned back in the direction of the Wunder, now appearing as a faint dot in the sky. He felt a twinge of regret once again, think that perhaps he should be there. Akane pulled on his hand signaling to go. He gave her a smile and proceeded with the others. He may have wished he was on board, but for the moment, he felt this was the place he had to be.

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Re: Untitled post 3.33 fic

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Postby Lennik » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:36 pm

Now I like where it's going even more. It's very interesting to see Shinji struggling to slowly but surely re-integrate himself into the world. I look forward to seeing how Asuka's reaction of that continues to develop.

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby cyharding » Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:33 am

View Original Postcyharding wrote:Chapters will be released around every two weeks or so as I am a bit of a slow writer, and I want to give myself time.


Two weeks. I actually said two weeks -o-; ............................................................................................................................ :deskbang:
The delay wasn't due to writers block or lack of time to write (I'm in the middle of Chapter 6), but some diffuculty finding people to take a look at it. In any event, I'll try to get these chapters out in shorter amount of time. Probably not two weeks, but a more reasonable time. For now, enjoy Chapter 3.

SPOILER: Show
“Nervous?” Burke asked Shinji. The boy was pacing up and down the hallway, his arms folded. He nodded his head.

“I don’t know what to say,” he added, the speed of his voice increasing with each sentence. “I mean, she’s not Ayanami. Maybe this was a bad idea after all. I should go.”

“Oh no, no.” Burke, thinking that he might run off, grabbed his shoulders to stop him. “I think this is something you have to do.”

“I suppose,” Shinji replied. “But I still don’t know what to talk to her about.”

“The weather, what she had for breakfast, I mean there are many things you can talk about. The key is to talk to her like she’s just a regular girl.” Burke released his hold on him slowly, prepared to stop him again should it be needed.

“I don’t even know what to call her,” Shinji said. He stayed where he was, but Burke noticed that his legs were shaking.

“Call her what she wants to be called,” he answered in a matter of fact fashion. “Look, it doesn’t have to be a long conversation. I’m thinking three to five minutes to start with. I would think you can keep talking for that long.” A nurse approached them saying that they were ready on their end.

“Okay Shinji. Follow the nurse here, and she’ll take you to her.“ Shinji nodded his understanding and proceeded to follow her down several corridors stopping just long enough to run her security card at certain doors. At last, they approached a door guarded by one soldier with a bored look on his face. He nodded to the two in acknowledgment of their presence as the nurse turned to Shinji.

“This is her room. Knock on the door when you’re done.”

“Thank you.” Shinji took a deep breath and opened the door. What he found on the other side was a cross between a hospital room and a student’s dorm room. The bed was standard for hospitals, but instead of the usual white and beige colored sheets and blankets, there was a large pink bedspread on it. Barring one security camera, the walls were bare. In one corner, there was a wooden desk with a lamp on top. In the desk chair was the Ayanami type sketching something on a sheet of paper, not seeing that Shinji was there. She was wearing hospital clothes, but unlike the hospital gown that Shinji wore on the Wunder, the gown she wore allowed for the wearer to keep some dignity. It consisted of two pieces, a button-down long sleeved shirt and matching pants. Shinji watched her sketch, he couldn’t see what she was drawing without looking over her shoulder. He then coughed to get her attention. She turned towards the cough, her eyes widening a little at the sight of him.

“Ikari,” she said. He waved to her in greeting.

“How have you been?” he asked her.

“No problems,” she replied. A silence settled in the room, something which Shinji didn’t want to happen. His mind raced trying to find something else to talk to her about her about. He knew that Burke said it only had to be a few minutes, but he felt that it had to be more than an answer to a question. There had to be something, anything to discuss with her.

“Um…What are you drawing?” he asked.

“Several things,” She answered. She lifted the paper to show him. They were simple shapes; circles, squares, triangles. Upon closer examination, Shinji found the shapes to be more complex. In one case, a triangle was composed of smaller triangles. A square had another square drawn within it followed by another producing a series that seemed to stretch into infinity. Some of the drawings appeared to be three dimensional, which produced spheres and cylinders, even so far as to have one shapes turn into another.

“These are great,” Shinji told her. He had to admit that he couldn’t draw that well. “Did you always draw?”

“No,” she replied. “I only began after I arrived here.”

“So, why did you start?” he asked.

“I don’t know. One day, I took a pencil and paper and just started.”

“Oh…” The silence settled in once again and he searched his mind for another topic.

“Wouldn’t you like to wear something other than hospital clothes?” A few seconds of silence elapsed before she answered.

“Why would I? They’re comfortable.”

“I don’t know, variety?” he said. “I mean, haven’t you ever worn normal clothes before? I’ve only seen you wear either a plug suit or-” He stopped himself when he realized he was about to say when he walked in on her while she was nude at Nerv HQ. She appeared to think his question and was silent for a couple of minutes.

“I’m not entirely sure,” she soon replied. “I’ve never worn anything else, but I’ve seen clothes where I slept. That is something I don’t understand.” His mind flashed an image of the rows of decapitated Ayanami heads. He shook his head to get that image out of his mind and decided to switch subjects.

“There’s one other thing I’d like to know,” he began. “What should I call you? I know you’re not the Ayanami I know, but I have no idea of what you want to go by.” Shinji couldn’t tell what was going through her head as her face never betrayed her thought process.

“I’m not sure,” she said at last. “This is something that I would need to think about further.”

“Oh. All right then.” Shinji couldn’t think of anything else to talk about, but was glad that more than five minutes had passed. “I’m going to leave now. Okay?” He stopped and turned back towards her. He did have one more question for her.

“Is it all right if I come again some time?’ Her answer came in less than a second.

“Yes, it would be appreciated.”

“Great,” Shinji beamed. “And if you need to reach me, you can. I’ll see you again.” He knocked on the door and was let out. As he was escorted again by the nurse through the corridors, Shinji was mulling over whether or not to get her some art supplies, and if so, what to get. He narrowed it down to either a large sketchpad or a set of colored pencils. He considered for a moment trying to find her a how-to-draw book, but decided against it as he realized that it was a good idea to ask her if she would like one the next time he visited. That’s what he should have done when he was at Nerv. He should have asked her instead of just dumping books on her. Before he could beat himself up some more, they returned to where they started and the nurse left him.

Shinji then found that Burke was nowhere to be found. Wondering where he had gone, Shinji began to wander in an effort to locate him. As he was approaching a junction between two corridors, he happened to see someone walk past. It was Ritsuko, who did not see him as he she went by. Shinji stood there frozen for a minute before he began to follow her, not running but walking rapidly. He didn’t know why, but he wanted to talk to her, about what he didn’t know. It was if he was going on instinct. After five minutes of walking down multiple corridors, he caught a glimpse of her walking down a corridor. He only saw the hem of her lab coat, but it was her. He pursued and came in full sight of her, but she swiped a key card for a secure door and went through, closing it before he could get one word out. He stood in front of the door for a couple of minutes debating with himself whether he should knock on the door or not before someone called out to him.

“What are you doing?” Shinji turned around to find himself face to face with a huge man, ebony-skinned and no hair on his head. Though, the man had spoken to him in Japanese, Shinji wondered if he knew anymore than what he spoke. The tutor was just getting him started in the more advance aspects of English, so he couldn’t talk to him too well.

“Um…well, you see, I’m-” he began in English before the man cut him off.

“I’m well aware of who you are.” To Shinji, his Japanese appeared to be perfect. “I’m asking what are you doing here?”

“Well, I couldn’t find Mr. Burke, so-” he returned to Japanese, but he was cut off again, not by anything the man said, but by him pulling out his phone and dialing.

“It’s me,” he said in English, of which Shinji could only make out a few words. “Are you looking for Shinji Ikari?…Well, he’s in front of the security door leading to Section L22…Yes I said L22…He said he was looking for you…you’re coming? Good.” He hung up the phone.

“He’s coming here,” he said to Shinji in Japanese.

“Thank you, um… what’s your name?” Shinji asked.

“Dr. Samuel Hood. Chief Supervisor, Evangelion Maintenance Division,” he replied. “I’m supposed to be assisting Dr. Akagi on her repairs for Units 02 and 08. I’m not going to hear the end of it from her if I’m late again.” The two heard footsteps coming towards them. They sounded to Shinji as if they were coming fast before then slowing down to a normal pace. Burke then strolled around the corner looking as if that was the way he walked the way here.

“There you are,” he said to Shinji before speaking with Hood in English, who nodded at what he said.

“All right Shinji,” he returned to Japanese. “Let’s get going.”

“Sure,” Shinji replied before turning to Hood and bowing. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Uh, Sure thing kiddo,” Hood replied, taken aback by the formality. The two began to walk down the corridor. Shinji turned his head back to see Hood swipe his card and go through the same door as Ritsuko.

“I’m sorry,” he said as he turned back around. “I didn’t mean any trouble.”

“It’s all right,” Burke replied. “It’s my fault for not waiting for you, so you’re in no trouble. Just next time, when you’re in a similar situation, head towards the reception area.”

“Right,” Shinji answered. “By the way, it seemed like you came here in a hurry. Why is that?”

“Well…” Burke began uncomfortably. “I wasn’t sure if anyone besides Sam knew about it.”

“What do you mean?” Shinji asked. A dour look appeared on Burke’s face as he stopped and turned towards the boy.

“Do you like living with me and being able to go wherever you want?” Burke asked and Shinji nodding yes. “We had to make several assurances to various higher ups that you would follow certain rules. One of those rules is that you can’t be in or near that section as it leads to the Eva cages.

“You mean where Unit 02 and the other one is here?” he asked. Burke could tell he was sounding worried at this revelation.

“Not just those two, but two others. As we’re so close to Nerv HQ, it’s best for us to have them in case of a sudden attack. It is also why the two pilots you know are here as well despite the Wunder being on deployment. Your ability as an Impact Trigger is why that prohibition is in place.

“I’m sorry,” Shinji stated. Burke’s face smiled again as the two continued their walk.

“No harm, no foul. That’s how we’re going to look at it. And you don’t need to worry about Sam, he’ll keep quiet to the right people. So buck up, but remember that unlike the Commander and myself, there are people in the upper ranks that do not care to be lenient. We can’t give them any excuses, Understand?” Shinji nodded, but kept a worried look on his face.

“Hey, I said to buck up,” Burke said. “Now we need to stop at my office for a moment, then it’ll be time for you to go to the daycare center. Got it?”

“Got it,” Shinji replied. He was relieved that there were people who had his back, but there was also a nagging feeling that what peace he had found could be taken away again so easily.

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby jcmoorehead » Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:32 am

I've been hoping you'd update this after I read the first few chapters a couple of weeks ago. Really enjoyed reading through that, I liked seeing the first meeting since returning between Rei and Shinji and it'll be interesting to see how that develops moving forward.

Looking forward to seeing more :)

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby cyharding » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:32 am

Here is Chapter 4. I want to give my thanks to both Reichu & pwhodges for their help with the Kanji that's in it.

SPOILER: Show
The morning found Shinji standing in front of a mirror in his room trying to remember the exact way Burke taught him on how to tie a necktie.

“Does it go this way or is it like this?” Shinji mumbled to himself as he moved the wide and narrow ends across each other an attempt to remember the exact starting position of each end. If he remembered that, the rest would be easy. The problem was that Burke taught him two different knots, the four in hand and the Kelvin. Shinji thought it was a mistake on Burke’s part as he realized that he had mixed the two knots together leading to a real mess. He wondered why the school required blazers as part of their uniform. He heard a knock at the door followed by Burke poking his head through.

“Hey, you’re going to be late,” he stated. “Not good for your first day of school.

“Sorry,” Shinji replied. “I’m still having trouble…” During those months, he had learned enough English from his tutor that he could speak simple sentences to Burke reaching the point where the two could carry on a conversation so that a question could be asked in English and answered in Japanese with no misunderstanding between them. Burke came in and helped to reset and tie his tie, which Shinji recognized during the process as the four in hand, committing what he saw to memory. Once the tie was done, Burke stood back to look upon his work.

“Looks all right,” he remarked. “Are you nervous?”

“Uh, a little,” he answered as he put his mild blue blazer on and clasped the top button.

“Do you have your lunch?” Burke asked.

“Yes, and I made one for you too,” Shinji replied.

“Great,” Burke rubbed his hands together. “Oh, I should also tell you before I forget that I’m also going to be late coming home again.”

“I see.” He could still remember one night a couple of weeks ago hearing Burke yell ‘What do you mean it’s disappeared?’ into his phone. Overhearing Burke’s side of the conversation, Shinji surmised they were talking about Nerv HQ. After that, Burke began to spend more time at work. Shinji wanted to ask what happened, but he felt that he no longer had any right to inquire.

“After school, are you gong to be seeing her?” He also continued to visit the Ayanami type during that time. Though the conversations did not have too many complexities to them, compared to their first meaning, they had grown in both length and scope, the conversations ranging from what sketch she was working on at the moment to what she had for lunch to even stories Shinji had of the Ayanami she knew.

“Not today,” Shinji said. “Maybe tomorrow.”

“Then the daycare center?”

“Yes, but I should have enough time to come back here to change my clothes.

“Did you take your meds?”

“Yes,” Burke seemed to ask him that question almost everyday since he began taking them, and Shinji was starting to get annoyed over it.

“And the most important part of this interrogation, do you remember you cover story.”

“Yeah.” Burke had assured him that no one outside of Wille knew who he really was. But as a ‘safety precaution’, in Burke’s own words, he was given a cover story that Shinji had to learn over the last month, even his name was changed. He was still Shinji Ikari, but 錨 was used for his last name instead of 碇. It was still pronounced Ikari and still meant anchor, it just used different kanji. His first name was unchanged as Burke stated that it would be difficult for him to remember it on top of his cover story.

“I think you’re going to be fine,” Burke stated. “Now get going. You’ll miss your train.” Shinji went on his way and just made the train. He sat down on the seat to catch his breath. He noticed in the car a couple of students wearing the same uniform among the people going to work and even people his age going to other schools.

Shinji stopped himself at that observation. His age? What exactly was his age? He didn’t know whether to think of himself as close to fifteen or close to thirty. He wondered if he could relate to his classmates. As one example, he hadn’t paid too much attention to any musical fads outside of some songs he heard on the TV or Burke’s car radio, so he didn’t know what was considered good or not. He reasoned that he could play it safe and say classical if anyone asked, at least until he could get a better idea of modern music. He wished he was able to talk to Burke about all of this, but he felt that he couldn’t do it. How would he be able to understand what it felt like to be…out of his time? Those were the best words that Shinji could use to explain his feelings. Besides, it was much busier at Wille headquarters these days, so he wouldn’t have the time.

The train stopped with Shinji and the two students with him getting off and walking towards the Japanese School on the Fourth Ring. He reported to the school office where he got his class assignment, and was introduced to his class in the customary manner, Shinji almost writing his real name on the blackboard, but caught himself in time. His new classmates were naturally curious about their new member, taking in every detail about him as he stood up in front of the classroom and paying attention to every word he he said in his introduction. He took his seat, and the lessons for the day began. At lunchtime, some of his classmates came to his desk.

“You know, we don’t get a lot of transfer students,” a girl told him.

“Oh really,” Shinji replied making an uncomfortable laugh.

“Yeah. The most we see is from one part of the city to another. I never heard in your introduction where you were from,” a guys said. Shinji brought his cover story to mind and answered just as he practiced.

“Mexico City. I’ve lived there for a large part of my life.”

“You have to tell us about life there sometime,” one of the boys said. Shinji nodded while he was panicking on the inside at the same time. He didn’t notice another of the male students sliding into the desk next to his.

“So, how do you like it here at this school?” the stranger asked.

“Um, it’s nice…uh…” Shinji replied, not knowing how to continue.

“Oh, Sorry about that. It’s Miyashima, Miyashima Kyo. Say, what Ring do you live on?”

“The Second,” Shinji answered, as he was tapping one of his feet on the floor at such a rapid pace, he wondered if they heard it. Miyashima whistled at his answer.

“That’s a high class part of the city,” he added. If I had to make a guess, I’d say your folks are either with the government or they’re with Wille.”

“Not my parents,” Shinji answered him. “My guardian, he’s with Wille.”

“I knew it,” Miyashima answered. “I always have an inkling of things of these Ikari.” He then looked up at the ceiling and said his name again. “Ikari…. You know, this might sound funny or weird, but your name sounds reminiscent of Gendo Ikari.” Shinji’s entire body became tense at that name.

“Huh?” was all he could say while attempting to remain calm.

“You know, the man who set off Third Impact” Miyashima replied. Shinji hesitated to speak, wondering what he could say next.

“Don’t be an idiot,” a girl who was the class representative chimed in. “You saw how he wrote his name. It isn’t as if they were related or anything like that.”

“Fine, fine,” Miyashima threw up his hands. “You win.” Shinji was relieved that they dropped the subject, and any further discussion that could be had was quashed when the bell rang and classes resumed.

When school was done for the day, Shinji was wandering around the school building seeing where everything was. The class rep promised him a grand tour once school was out, but some sudden student council business forced her to cancel with the promise that it would happen tomorrow. As he was wandering around, he heard piano music coming from down the hallway. Following it, he came upon the music room where he discovered a girl playing on one of the pianos. She was not in Shinji’s class, but she looked about his age. Her hair was short, and from a distance could be mistaken for a boy if it wasn’t for the fact she was wearing a skirt. The girl didn’t take notice of Shinji, who remained in the doorway, as her focus was on her sheet music. Even with the time he spent with Kaworu, he couldn’t consider himself a proper judge of her playing, but he knew that it was beautiful.

He continued to listen to her playing for a few minutes until he was surprised by someone tapping his shoulder. He turned around to find Miyashima smiling at him. He pulled Shinji away before he could get a word out.

“Out of your league,” he told Shinji in his pleasant manner.

“What is?”

“Not what. Who,” Miyashima clarified. “I’m talking about her.” He shot his thumb out towards the music room.

“I was just listening to her play,” Shinji said. “I don’t even know her name.”

“And there’s no point in finding out.” Leading him by the shoulder, Miyashima took Shinji and began to stroll down the hallway together.

“Believe me, you don’t have a chance, so it’s better not to even know that.” His answer was followed by a group of three girls running past them.

“Miyoko-Chan!” one of them cried out as the three ran into the music room. Shinji turned to his companion.

“I…guess it’s possible you could find out in other ways,” Miyashima said, “but still, it’s not worth the trouble. There is ample evidence all over the school as to her unwillingness to go out with any guy.” Shinji mused over his words for a few moments.

“So, does that mean you tried as well?” He asked. Miyashima was silent for several seconds before answering.

“That’s neither here or there, but you see my point, do you?” Shinji nodded.

“Good. So now that school’s out, you got any plans for the rest of the day?”

“I’m just going to go home. “I’ve had a busy day,” Shinji replied.

“Oh..Okay then,” Miyashima said. “See you tomorrow.”

“Uh, yeah. See you tomorrow,” Shinji gave a quick wave to him before he went off. He took the train back and met Burke back at the apartment.

“Hey, I just came back to pick up something, so I’ll be heading back to work. How was your first day?” Burke asked him. Shinji flopped down on the couch and looked up towards the ceiling.

“Tell me about life in Mexico City,” he said after a few moments of silence.

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby jcmoorehead » Sun Jul 24, 2016 5:07 pm

Really nice chapter, been hoping to see an update for this for a while. Very interesting to see Shinji placed in school, I suppose he technically wouldn't have finished his education because of what happened and this'd likely be the best place for him. I'm intrigued to see what happens next, I imagine this stability isn't likely to last because it's Shinji but hopefully it'll get him into a better place to deal with anything that comes along.

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby cyharding » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:58 pm

Here is Chapter 5. I also want to take this oportunity to give two notices. The first is that it will be a while before I post Chapter 6 as it ends on a cliffhanger and I'm in the process of writing Chapter 7 at this point, so I don't want to leave you guys in a lurch for too long. The second is that I feel I should apologize for not being too good of a host, at least compared to the other fanfic threads. I always seem more terse compared to them, and I don't believe that's right. But you all don't want to read my whining now, do you?

SPOILER: Show
It was on a Sunday morning that Shinji was lying on the couch vegging out in front of the TV, even though there wasn’t anything on that interested him. Burke was working that day, and he said before he left that it would be very late when he returned. As he was staring at the TV, he heard the doorbell ring three or four times in rapid succession. Shinji lurched himself up and trudged over to the door. When he opened it he found a girl staring back at him. She had soft brown hair tied into two pigtails. She also wore glasses with cherry red frames. She seemed familiar to him.

“Can I help you?” Shinji asked her. The girl only smiled in reply. Another girl poked her head out from behind the first one. This girl was familiar to him, and Shinji gave a slight smile at the sight of her. “Suzuhara,” he exclaimed.

“It’s been a while,” Sakura answered as she wormed her way around the first girl. “This is why I should have been at the door,” she remarked to her.

“Sorry,” she replied, “but I just wanted to see the look on puppy boy’s face when he saw me.” Now Shinji knew he had been called something like that before, he was certain of it, but no name was coming to mind.

“I…I should know you,” he said to her. “I mean, I saw you with Asuka at the daycare center, but I feel we’ve met before.”

“I can’t believe you forgot about me,” the girl replied, the false indignation apparent in her voice. “You would think that the way we met on the roof should have cemented me in your memory.” Those words triggered latent memories in him and he put everything together.

“You’re the girl that parachuted onto the school roof,” he exclaimed. The girl gave a wide grin.

“You got it,” she said.

“I think you were also talking on the phone, and you said your name,” Shinji stated. “Maki, isn’t it?”

“Mari,” she replied, crestfallen. “Makinami Mari.” She ended with a formal bow, which Shinji reciprocated.

“Now that we have been properly introduced, are you going to let us in like a good host, or leave us out here in the hallway?”

“Oh. Sorry.” Shinji jumped out of the way as the two ladies came in, Sakura thanking him for letting them in. Once they were in the apartment, Mari began looking around the living room as Shinji turned to Sakura.

“So, what did you come here for Suzuhara?” he asked.

“Sakura is fine,” she replied. “We just wanted to see how you were doing. It’s been several months since…we last met, and we wanted to see how you are.”

“I’m good. I’m doing real good,” Shinji stated. Sakura sensed a little wavering in his voice.

“That’s…that’s good to hear,” she replied.

“Um…I really should apologize to you,” he said to her.

“Apologize for what?”

“Back then, you told me not to get in an Eva, and I didn’t listen. I thought all of you were lying.” She put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile.

“It’s all right,” she told him. “Looking back at it, I don’t think we did a good job in the way we were trying to tell you everything. I believe we owe you an apology.”

“Awesome music collection!” The two turned towards Mari who was on her hands and knees taking a closer look at Burke’s CD collection. “Very eclectic,” she remarked as she pulled one out. “I never took someone like the Vice-Commander to be fan of Queen. He always seemed to me to be a rather taciturn person.”

“He’s pretty easygoing,” Shinji replied, “but he’s serious when he needs to be.” He paused for a moment before speaking again. “Where is Asuka?”

“She’s not going to be joining us.” Mari was still going through Burke’s collection. “Do you know what she was doing when I left our apartment? She was laying on the couch in her underwear watching TV. I mean, what kind of person would do something like that on a day as nice as this?”

“Uh…I really couldn’t know.” Shinji coughed a little in nervousness. Mari then stood straight up, catching the other two off guard.

“Now I want to see the Vice-Commander’s room,” she declared with a mischievous grin on her face. Before her statement could sink in with either Shinji or Sakura, she bolted over to where she thought his room was, the other two scrambling to catch up to her. She made it to both the bathroom and Shinji’s room, which Mari told them she’ll get to next, before she reached Burke’s room.

“You shouldn’t be in here,” Sakura protested. “What if he finds out?”

“It’s not like I’m going to leave any evidence.” She turned to Shinji. “Come on, have you entered his room when he wasn’t there?”

“Well sure, but that was when I first moved in—”

“See, precedent has already been set.” She looked at the pictures on the wall before she got on her stomach to look under his bed.

“He’s got to have some porn,” she muttered. Shinji could only shake his head in dumbfounded while Sakura planted her face into her hand. The spectacle was interrupted by the doorbell ringing again.

“Oh what now?” Shinji asked as he went off to answer to door. When he opened the door he found Miyashima and one other person from school, Shinji thought his name was Renji, standing in the doorway.

“Hey there Ikari,” Miyashima greeted him.

“What are you guys doing here?” Shinji asked, more than a little nervous.

“We just want to see how you were doing,” Miyashima replied. “I mean, you just leave right after school’s done.”

“Well, I do volunteer at the daycare center at the Wille base,” Shinji replied, shifting his body by leaning between one foot and the other trying to dispel some of his nervous energy.

“I didn’t know that,” Miyashima replied. “Do you work there everyday?”

“No. Not everyday,” Shinji answered.

“And do you need to be there today?”

“Um, no. But you see—”

“So you do have time to hang out. Mind if we come in?”

“Sure, but only for a few minutes. You see…” Shinji kept trying to explain his situation, but kept getting interrupted by Miyashima. Shinji concluded that he was out of the frying pan and straight into hell. At the same time, Mari and Sakura were peeking over a corner watching the exchange between the boys.

“Shinji looks really uncomfortable,” Sakura whispered to Mari. “Like he doesn’t want them here.”

“I see that,” Mari concurred, her face looking stern, but that sternness lasted only seconds as a mischievous smile came upon her face. She jaunted into Burke’s room an opened his closet.

“What are you doing ?” Sakura struggled to keep her voice in check. Mari had taken out a dress shirt.

“Going to help him out,” she answered as she removed her pigtails and loosened her hair.

“So what do you say Ikari?” Miyashima asked him. Shinji didn’t know what do. He was afraid of what might happen if the guys ran into Mari & Sakura. What questions they might ask. But even more than that, he was uncomfortable around them in general, and wished they would just leave. And though he hated to admit it, he wanted the two girls to leave as well. He just wanted to be alone.

“I’m busy today, that’s all,” Shinji replied.

“Busy? Doing what exactly?” Miyashima asked, his voice beginning to show irritation. Shinji was about to answer when a voice called to him from across the room.

“Oh Shinji…” It was Mari’s voice calling to him in a singsong fashion. He sighed as he turned his head to the voice, hoping that the encounter will go well.

“Guys, this is Mamamama…” his voice just stopped when he got a good look at her. She was leaning against the wall, her hair undone and flowing around her shoulders. She was wearing one of Burke’s dress shirts, a thin one at that so that while she was covered, not too much imagination was needed to fill in the details. The shirttails barely covered below her waist, to the point where all that was required was a change of a person’s angle to be able to see everything.

“Who are your friends?” She walked towards the three boys, the two who were guests transfixed on her bare and smooth legs.

“Um, well,” Shinji began.

“Miyashima!” the owner of that name blurted out. “And this is um…” He turned to his companion. “Tell her your name.”

“I don’t know it,” he stated as he kept staring at her.

“I see,” Mari replied. “I hate to break it to you boys, but I’m afraid he can’t join you today. I can only speak for myself, but I’m rather tired and I would think he would be too.” She then made a deliberate yawn stretching out her arms and sticking out her chest. “I mean, Shinji did keep me up all night.” Mari then came up and wrapped up her arms around Shinji and rested her chin on his right shoulder “I hope you understand.” Shinji was turning beet red since she did not only have her arms around him, he could feel her breasts against his back. Miyashima and Renji stood there in stunned silence for several seconds.

“I think we should go,” Miyashima said at last.

“Yeah, maybe we should,” Renji replied as if he was in a daze. The two made their way to the door, their eyes looked on Mari, who lifted one of her arms to wave at them.

“Bye, bye,” She said to them as they were closing the door. A few seconds after it was shut, Mari let Shinji go.

“Well, that went pretty good,” she declared.

“What the hell was that?” Shinji turned to her. “Why are you dressed like that? Why did you say those things to them?”

“I tried to get Suzuhara to do it too,” She motioned over to Sakura, who had come out in the living room. You would have become a legend with the boys at your school.”

“And I said no!” By reflex, Sakura covered her chest with her arms. Shinji’s face grew a darker shade of red. He turned back to Mari in an attempt to shake off that lovely, but unwanted image that popped into his mind.

“You’re not listening. Why did you do this?” he asked. Her smiled lessened a little.

“Suzuhara and I thought that those boys were giving you trouble. This was our way to get them to leave.”

“That was your way,” Sakura corrected.

“I did want them to leave,” Shinji said. “But what’s going to happen when I go when I go to school tomorrow? What are they going to say?”

“Don’t worry about tomorrow,“ Mari answered. “Let’s see what we’re going to do today?” Shinji cocked his head a little trying to process those last words of hers.

“What do you mean, what we’re going to do today?” he asked.

“Those two had a good idea,” Mari replied. “You should go out and have some fun.” Sakura nodded her head in agreement.

“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Shinji stated. He thought that he was done with this argument.

“Why not?” Mari asked. “You have to give an answer, and I don’t think there’s another half-naked woman around here.”

“It’s not just them,” Shinji replied sticking his thumb out towards the door. “I mean, I don’t hate them or anything. It’s that they make me uncomfortable, and not just them. Everyone does.” He took a breath before he finished. “Even you two.”

“Why?” Sakura asked. “What did we do? Is there anything we can do about it?”

“No, it’s not that.” Shinji went over and sat down in the couch. “It’s nothing about either of you in particular, it’s just that…”

“What is it?” Mari asked.

“It’s…” he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “It’s not my world.”

“Not your world?” Sakura whispered the question more to herself than to Shinji.

“The whole week since I first started school, I’m reminded of that fact almost every moment when we’re not in class. ‘Hey Ikari, don’t you think this actress I haven’t heard of is hot?’ Or another day, ‘Hey Ikari, what do you think about this song from this pop group that you don’t know of, and even if I have heard the song, I wouldn’t know it was from them?’ And do you know what the worst of it is? When they use words that I haven’t heard about or can’t figure out in the context of where or when they said it. I am sick of it, just so so sick of it.”

“Have you tried to understand they were talking about?” Mari asked.

“How? Where do I start without making myself look like a complete idiot?” he asked them. Neither girl gave him an answer.

“I want to hang out with your brother,” he said to Sakura. “I want to hang out with Aida. But I can’t can I?” Tears were forming in his eyes as well as in Sakura’s who nodded no. Mari stood there, no smile on her face. She then knelt in front of him.

“I know we can’t replace them in your memory, but you could make new memories with us. What do you say?”

“Please Shinji?” Sakura took a hold of his hand. Shinji looked down at her mind clasped around his. He could feel the warmth emerging from her hand. He had forgotten that other people could be so warm. As he looked up towards Sakura, he could see the tears in her eyes.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll go.” A smile came upon Sakura’s face.

“Really?” she asked as she wiped away her tears. Shinji nodded.

“Great,” Mari said. Sakura then looked at her with a stern look.

“So are you going to put your clothes back on?” She asked her. “With that getup and the way you’re kneeling, it almost look like you’re going to…” She didn’t finish her sentence, but turned red at the implication she was making.

“Well look at you,” Mari replied. “And people say I have a dirty mind.” Shinji looked between the two women not understanding what they are talking about.

“We’ll leave in about an hour,” she told them as she stood up. “That’ll give everyone time to dry their eyes. As for me, I’m going to take a quick shower.” She headed towards the bathroom. “Shinji, do have a scrub brush that I can reach my back with or are you going to come in and help me?”

“You just don’t give up, do you?” Sakura asked shaking her head.

“Nope,” she said as she closed the bathroom door. Shinji got up and after telling Sakura he was going to his bedroom to change. He went in and closed the door. He flopped on his bed and looked up at the ceiling reflecting on what happened and wondering if things could get any worse for him.

An hour later, the three made their way to the Third Ring as Mari declared that was where all the fun was. When they arrived, Shinji did find it to be a lively place. The first thing they did was go shopping at the various stores. Shinji was bored out of his skull watching the girls look at clothes. The only part that was worse was when Mari was trying to drag him inside a lingerie store, with both he and Sakura refusing to go in. Next, the three attended a concert put on an an amateur pop group that was being held in the plaza. Shinji didn’t care much for the act, though the same couldn’t be said for the people around him. Some people were really getting into it, even the girls he was with. After the concert was over, the three went off to a small cafe for a bite. During the meal, Mari was leading the conversation and Sakura was listening attentively. Shinji was listening as well, but he was putting more attention towards moving the food around his plate.

“So the princess wanted the new Unit painted red, but because it’s mostly from Unit 08, I said it should be pink. So in the end as it’s a dual entry system, we compromised and it’s going to be painted half and half. It’s going to look stupid, but at least the two of us can live with it.” Sakura nodded in reply while Shinji didn’t look up from his plate, which Mari noticed.

“Did my story bore you Puppy Boy?” she asked him. He looked up at her with a stern look on his face.

“Why do you call me that name?” he replied. Her eyes widened a little at the tone of his voice.

“I thought it was cute,” she answered him. “Don’t you agree?”

“No,” Shinji answered. “I’m not a dog and I don’t want to be a joke.” Mari leaned back in her chair taking stock in what he said.

“I realize that, and I didn’t mean you are a joke, but what is a puppy?”

“I…I don’t know what you mean?” Shinji said. “A baby dog, right?”

“True, true,” she said. “But what do we know about puppies?” Shinji thought about it for a minute or so before he answered.

“They’re cute,” he lowered his head a little in a futile attempt to hid his embarrassment.

“Right,” she stated. “They also have a lot of energy, they get underfoot, desperate for attention, whine when they don’t get what they want, and they throw up on the carpet when after they chew on the house plants when you thought it would be okay to take your eyes off him for five minutes.” That last part was mumbled as he she lowered her head. When she lifted it up again, she found both Shinji and Sakura staring at her.

“Anyway,” she said, “the final thing is that they do grow up and that they’re always loyal.” She looked straight at Shinji. “I won’t call you that name anymore, but I didn’t mean anything bad, okay?”

“Uh, sure,” Shinji was surprised at her words. Mari then stood up.

“Okay, now if everyone is done with their meals, I’ll pay the bill and we’ll get dessert somewhere else.” They left the cafe, and walked for a while before they stopped at an ice cream stand where Mari bought cones for each of them, before they resumed their journey.

“It’s pretty good,” Mari remarked. “The artificial cream they use isn’t that bad. Of course it doesn’t compare to the real stuff.”

“You’ve had real ice cream?” asked an impressed Sakura.

“Sure did,” Mari replied. “But that was a long time ago. You could say another life even.”

“So where are we going now?” Shinji asked.

“The First ring,” Mari replied. “There’s some place I want to take you that’s real cool,” Shinji looked as Sakura, who just shrugged her shoulders at him. They took a train to the First Ring and Mari led them to Wille headquarters.

“What are we doing here?” Shinji asked.

“You’ll see,” she replied. The three came to a large satellite dish that was in the middle of the complex. Mari began to the climb the ladder at its base.

“Come on,” she told the other two. With some reluctance, both Shinji and Sakura climbed after her. When she reached the dish proper, Mari opened the door and crawled out, they saw that Mari had taken off her shoes and was putting on a pair of roller blades.

“What are you doing?” Shinji asked her.

“What does it look like?” she replied. I’m doing some roller blading.”

“But why here?” Shinji asked. “Wouldn’t you be better off going to a skate park or something? I think the city has one.” She didn’t answer, but instead propelled herself around the dish, using the antenna to help her turn around. Soon, she was able to gain enough speed so that she could reach the edge of the dish above them. Mari grabbed that edge of the dish and using the inertia, lifted herself to spin around and land on the dish, where she soon cruised to a stop. Both Shinji and Sakura were wide-eyed at what they witnessed.

“That was amazing,” Sakura exclaimed. Mari gave a mock curtsy in appreciation.

“Well what do you think?” She asked Shinji.

“Sakura’s right, it is amazing,” he said. “How did you learn to do something like that?”

“Lot’s of practice,” she replied as she glided to the bottom edge of the dish and sat down so that her legs dangled over the edge. She singled to Shinji to sit by patting the space next to her. Sakura signaled that she was going to give them some space before she climbed down the ladder. Shinji sat down beside her, his legs sticking over as well. After he got himself comfortable, Mari began to speak.

“Not too long after you were absorbed into Unit 01, there was a point where the UN confined most Nerv personnel, including the Princess and I, on board an aircraft carrier. We weren’t prisoners, but we couldn’t leave the ship either. The worst part of it was that there was nothing to do. You couldn’t believe how boring it was. One day, the two of us happened to find a couple pairs of roller blades. We figured they must have belonged to some sailors or something. We learned quickly, but soon got tired of skating from one end of the ship to the other, so we used the ship’s satellite dish to try some tricks. I can’t tell you how many times the two of us wiped out attempting them. We must have spent six months skating from sunup to sundown.”

“How long was everybody kept on board?” Shinji asked.

“I’d say nine months give or take a week,” She replied. “Anyway, the point is that practice is the key.”

“I wish I could learn something like that,” Shinji said.

“What’s stopping you?” she asked him. “If you want to learn something, you go ahead and learn.”

“You think so?” Shinji asked. Mari nodded.

“I’d say for anything that you want to do, that your passionate about, you should pursue it,” she added. Shinji then smirked.

“I never took you for being a philosopher,” he said.

“Well, I’m more than a set of tits and a fine ass,” she remarked. Shinji chuckled before his face resumed his usual somber look.

“The only thing I know how to do is pilot an Eva, but I can’t do that anymore.” Mari rubbed Shinji shoulder in comfort.

“Well, I would compare your situation to that of an athlete that got in a car crash and is now in a wheelchair,” she said.

“Yeah, but the athlete knew what caused the accident,” Shinji retorted. “I still don’t know exactly what happened after I got absorbed into Unit 01.”

“What? You weren’t told what happened?” her surprise was genuine.

“Mr. Burke only gave me a vague idea, something about taking the Eva’s power for myself. He didn’t give me a lot of details, saying I wasn’t ready yet.”

“Killing with kindness,” she mumbled to herself in English.

“What was that about kindness?” Shinji asked.

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” she returned to Japanese waving it off. Shinji was unable to make any further inquiry as Mari’s cell phone went off.

“It’s the princess,” she remarked as she looked at the screen before putting it to her ear. “Hey there,” Mari said into the phone. “Yes I drank it…It didn’t have your name on it…Asuka is a pretty common name. How could I know it was yours?” She had a malicious grin on her face as she said those words. “Okay, okay. I’ll get you a new one on my way back…I’m seeing a friend…No, it’s not him” She winked at Shinji while she put a finger to her lips to keep him quiet. “Okay, I’ll see you soon.” She hung up the phone and let out a breath.

“You take one bottle of juice…” she muttered to herself.

“You and Asuka seem to get along,” Shinji said.

“The Princess and I have our moments,” Mari replied. “We’ve been partners for years. It could even be argued that we’re friends. But when you are partners with someone for a long, people get the funniest ideas sometimes.” She chuckled to herself before continuing. “I mean, there are people who actually think the two of us are…well…’together.’”

“What do you mean by ‘together?’” Shinji asked. Mari chuckled again, much louder than before and it was a few seconds before she steadied herself.

“How do I explain this? When two women love each other very much, or possibly when they get very, very drunk…” Shinji, thinking through what she said, turned red as he realized the implications of what she was saying. Seeing Shinji’s reaction, she burst into laughter again for five minutes before she calmed down.

“I mean, She wouldn’t know what to do with a woman if one came up and gave her a swift kick in the ass.” She said. Shinji’s face remained red, though it was now due to embarrassment.

“I didn’t realize that was a problem” he said.

“Yeah, but it’s nothing for you to worry about.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m always looking for a good laugh, and that always delivers. Besides, this probably gives you some interesting mental images for you to use some lonely night.” Shinji blushed even more at her assertion. How many times today, he wondered, has his face been this red? Is it going to become permanent?

“But still, you two get along pretty well,” he said when his face resumed its normal color.

“Well, we’ve been fighting for all these years,” Mari stated. After all that, one would think that some bond would be formed.”

“I see,” Shinji said which he followed up by bringing his head to his knees and staring out into space. Mari noticed the change in his demeanor.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him.

“Well, it’s that I sometimes get the feeling that I should have been with you guys instead of where I am now, fighting on the Wunder.” Mari stared at him for a few moments before she asked him a question.

“Do you think it would have been better if you were with us?” He shrugged his shoulders in reply.

“No one would hate me,” he added looking down at his knees, “and I still would be friends with Asuka and Misato. Part of me wishes I was with you guys all these years.” He didn’t see Mari scrunch her face when he mentioned being hated.

“Based on what happened, it was better for you not to be there,” she said. “Look, those have formed some strong and unique bonds, bonds that you can’t relate to, as you haven’t had those experiences.”

“Then it’s hopeless,” Shinji declared. Mari answered to that by taking him by the shoulders and shoving him onto the floor of the dish, the two face to face with each other.

“The hell it is! Just because you don’t have the same experiences, doesn’t mean you can’t have bonds with them.” Her face softened and while she still held him down, she lessened her force on his shoulders. “I mean, I’d like to think we’re getting along pretty well, don’t you agree?”

“I...I guess so,” he replied. Mari let go of his shoulders.

“I know so,” she stated. “And you know, you can forge bonds with people you don’t know, and I think you should too.” She smiled at him, not her all knowing or trolling smile, but a real genuine smile.

“I…I’ll try,” Shinji said. Mari then pulled him up and gave him a hug, the last thing Shinji expected. By this time Sakura had come back. She signaled to Mari asking if it was okay to come back. Mari, over Shinji’s shoulder, nodded yes. She let go of him for a few seconds before she put her arm over his shoulder.

“All right, we’ve had a long day, so let’s get you back home.” She said. When the three made it back to Burke’s place. Mari looked around until she found several sheets of paper, on one of them she began writing.

“This is the address of where the Princess and I are living. I’m expecting you to come visit us sometime,” she said as she handed him the paper. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep the princess at bay.”

“Sure,” Shinji replied. Sakura took one of the sheets and began to write as well.

“I’m not there too often as I usually have duties on board the Wunder whether she’s in port or not. But if you catch me at the right time, I’d be happy to welcome you.”

“Thanks,” Shinji said as he took the paper from her. Mari then began to write on another sheet.

“And this,” she finished writing on a third sheet,” is he Captain’s. No one is expecting you to visit her or anything, I just thought you’d like to have it.” She handed him the paper.”

“Oh,” he said as he took the paper. “Okay.”

“Well, I guess we should get going.” Mari stated as she turned to leave, but before she did, she darted in and kissed Shinji at the corner of his mouth. Once again he blushed beet red at her actions.

“See you around sweetie,” She told him before she went out the door.

“Bye,” Sakura, who had a fair shade of red herself, said as she followed Mari out. Shinji stood there, feeling the heat coming from his cheek and wondering if the blush is now permanent. He went back to the couch and sat down, trying to process the events of the day.

A few days later, Burke was in his office when he received a video call from Mari.

“Makinami,” he said to her. “To what do I owe the pleasure.”

“Just wanted to say hi,” he replied. “Did Shinji tell you that Suzuhara and I visited him on Sunday?”

“Sure did,” Burke answered her. “He won’t say it, but he really appreciated you two coming to see him, and I appreciate it as well. I haven’t been able to get a lot of free time, and I didn’t want him hanging around in the apartment all day.”

“No problem,” Mari said. “Did he happen to get my present?” She was referring to the pair of roller blades, helmet and pads that came with it.

“It arrived yesterday,” Burke said. “I’m sure if you listen carefully, you could hear repeated thudding from where my apartment is. I hope he hasn’t broken anything.” She chuckled for a few moments before her tone changed and as she spoke again.

“That day, we were able to have a long talk, and he mentioned that he still hasn’t been told about his role in Third Impact, that you only gave him a vague idea. Why haven’t you told him after all these months?” Burke bit down on his lip.

“He’s not ready,” was his reply.

“He’s got to know sometime, and he has to be told,” she stated.

“You’ve seen how he is,” Burke leaned towards the screen. “You’ve seen all the good that has happened to him since he arrived. Tell him too soon, and you’ll see all of that disappear. Do you want that to happen?”

“But if he isn’t told, he’ll never truly move forward,” she countered. “It is the final obstacle he has to face, so it has to happen sooner or later.” Burke was about to yell at her, but stopped himself.

“I just don’t want to destroy what peace he has achieved. I’m not trying to keep him in the dark on purpose. Besides, if you’re so concerned, why didn’t you tell him?”

“He needs to hear it from someone he trusts and whom he has no baggage with. Personally, I think you’re the best guy for the job.” A light smile came across his face.

“Thank you for the vote of confidence,” he said. “I’ll take your points under consideration, and I’ll discuss this with the Commander, see what he thinks.”

“Very well,” but I’ll be keeping an eye on your progress. Later.” She closed out with a wink before the screen went blank. Burke leaned back in his chair and ran his hands over his face. He realized that she had a point, but she wasn’t the one that would have to deal with the consequences. He and the Commander would be the ones, figuring not only how this would affect the Arbiter Plan, but how it would affect Shinji himself. He could only hope that Makinami would wait before she would take matters into her own hands.

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Postby Lennik » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:05 pm

Excellent work, and a bit lengthier than usual if I'm not mistaken, which I like a lot. It's really interesting to see Shinji have trouble integrating into society. Looking back on how lost he was even in 1.0, this is beginning to feel a bit like that, except amplified for obvious reasons. He's also as solemn about his whole situation as I would expect. I look forward to seeing how he deals with the huge chasm between himself and his old friends. Realistically, even as things start to look up and get better, I can imagine him having occasional lapses where he starts to sink into old habits of not trying to interact with anyone. The way Burke mentions undoing his progress makes me think you're taking that realistic route where everything isn't solved in one chain of events, which I also like. There are still going to be ups and downs in Shinji's attempt to move on.

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Postby jcmoorehead » Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:43 am

I really enjoyed this chapter, loved your handling of Shinji and his outbursts towards Mari and Sakura throughout it. I can't imagine how tough it would be for him in this situation, if he was isolated to just the Wunder it might be easier for him but he's in an actual city and having to attend school and witness a culture that has grew in his absence. Poor kid :/

I'm really interested to see how you handle the inevitable reunion with Asuka. Also enjoyed the parallel between them both doing similar things on that day.

Excited for what comes next.

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Postby cyharding » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:48 pm

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Chapter 6 is done, it just needs to be looked at, and I just finished the handwritten draft for Chapter 7, which came out to around 40 pages (don't be too impressed, I write in large letters). The bad news is that I had to send my laptop out for repairs, which could take as much as two weeks. So for the moment, the fic is on temporary hiatus. There is a chance that I might be able to post 6, but I'm not counting on it. But it will be back.

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Postby jcmoorehead » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:08 am

Glad to hear that chapter 6 is done and will be coming. I've really enjoyed following this fic so far, so more of it is a good thing :)

Hope everything goes smoothly with your laptop repairs!

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Postby cyharding » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:43 am

After a ton of delays, some of which I weren't expecting, here is Chapter 6. Chapter 7 should be coming out a little quicker, but after that, I don't know. I need to do some research and plot out more of the story from Chapter 8 onward. I would also like to point out that I feel....humbled by the experience of writing this fic. I always try to make a good story for everyone, and perhaps I don't do it as well as some other people, but this is the best I can do, and I at least attempt to improve. I'm not as fast as some of the other writers as well, but I don't think it would be as good of quality otherwise.

SPOILER: Show
“So it’s agreed that the upcoming stargazing night will be held on the roof of Ikari’s apartment building,” The President of the Astronomy Club said. The other members, Shinji included among them, nodded their assent.

“Too bad that we couldn’t get on the roof of Wille headquarters,” One of the club members lamented. “It’s the tallest building in the city. We wouldn’t have to worry about light pollution.”

“I tried talking to my guardian about it,” Shinji stated, “But he said it couldn’t be done.”

“At they very least, we got Ikari’s apartment in compensation,” the President said. “It’s still better than the roof of the school.”

“So unless someone has anything else,” The membership was silent. “I think that’s it for today,” she said as she put on her coat. “I’ll see you all tomorrow.” The other members rose from their chairs and in groups of two and three, left the clubroom. Shinji was grabbing his bag when the President tapped his shoulder.

“I really should thank you,” she told him.

“It’s the least I could do,” Shinji replied. “I mean I’m a new member, so I thought it was the best way to contribute.

“No problem,” she replied “Anyway…do you want to come with us to a cafe that just opened up?” the President, with a couple of other members right next to her, asked him.

“I already have plans,” he replied. “Perhaps another day.”

“Sure,” she answered, then gave him a wave and smile before walking away. Shinji went the opposite direction, where he passed by Miyoko heading off towards the music room. She shifted her eyes towards him, but said nothing as they passed each other. Shinji didn’t know what to make of her. She seemed level headed, and perhaps a bit standoffish, but what was to him the most curious thing about her was that there was something that was…familiar, yet he just couldn’t put his finger on it. He made his way down a flight of steps pondering over it and met Miyashima at the shoe lockers.

Hey Ikari, do you want to head over to he arcade?” he asked when he saw him. “I still want a rematch.”

“It’ll have to be another time,” Shinji replied “I got things to do.”

“Oh, so you’re going to be with your girlfriend?” Miyashima asked with a mischievous grin on his face. Shinji didn’t say anything, but he simply glared at him in reply. How many times did he tell him Mari wasn’t his girlfriend? Miyashima shrank away from the glare and raised his hands in surrender.

“I’m joking, joking, okay.” The glare was lifted. “How about this weekend then?”

“If nothing comes up for me, sure.”

“Great. See you around,” Miyashima said as he left. Shinji put on his street shoes and walked to the station where he got on the train heading to the fifth ring. The Wunder had come in again, the first time in three months, and he wasn’t sure how long she was going to be in port. He did promise Mari and Sakura that he would come and visit them, and he was going to keep that promise today.

He walked until he found a park bench where he sat down and put on a pair of roller blades, knee and elbow pads, and a helmet on his head. After putting his shoes in his bag, he began to glide down the walkway. He only had gotten a handle on forward movement and stopping as well as turning corners. He couldn’t do any tricks like Mari, but he was proud of what he was able to do and couldn’t wait to show Mari. He was even hoping that she could give him a few pointers. He went at a leisurely pace as he was on his way, and soon was in sight of the apartment complex. Burke had told him once that most of the Wunder crew live at the same complex in case there had to be a rapid deployment. The building was not as grand as the complex that he was living in, but it appeared to be nice, at least from the outside. He came up to the building, and after exchanging his blades for his shoes, went inside.

As he walked the hallway and began to go up the stairs, he checked the addresses that both Mari and Sakura gave to him. If he read them right, all three lived on the 10th floor, so that would save him some time. He made his way to the floor and walked at a slow pace looking at each door number until he came to the door to Asuka and Mari’s apartment, their nameplate right on the doorway. He pressed the screen below it to ring the bell, but a message appeared on the screen instead stating that neither of them were in and to please leave a message.

He ignored that request and went to Sakura’s apartment, which produced the same result. With a sigh, he began to make his way to the stairwell, but hadn’t taken three steps when an idea entered his mind. Taking out of his pocket the third sheet, he made his way up three more floors, and once again made a careful look at each door until he came upon the right one. He took a long look at the nameplate, which stated Katsuragi, and brought his finger to press on the doorbell, but he stopped, his finger hovering right above the button. After a minute of hovering, he took his finger away, and he turned around to make his way back, figuring if he was lucky maybe he’ll see one of them as they passed each other, though he doubted that would happen. He took just a single step on his way, when he heard a voice behind him.

“Shinji?” He turned around to find Ritsuko in the hallway. She was wearing a business suit, dark blue in color and had a satchel swung over her shoulder. The two stared at each other for a few more seconds before she spoke.

“I see you’re attending school now, I hope you’re doing well.”

“I’m fine, thank you,” he replied. Ritsuko then looked over towards the door that he standing in front of.

“I’m sorry, but the Captain is on board the Wunder at this time,” she said. “We’re in port for just a couple of days and then we have to head out again, so there’s no guarantee she’ll be able to stop at her place or for how long. It’s same for the pilots. Even I only had enough time to grab a change of clothes for a meeting.” She walked past him.

“Take care of yourself Shinji,” She said over her shoulder. “I hope we can meet again in more favorable conditions.” She continued to walk as Shinji stared at where she originally stood. He remembered he time when he saw her at Wille headquarters and followed her, though it led to nothing. Now she was here, and that desire was still there. Was he going to let it slip by now?

“Wait!” He yelled at he turned towards her. Ritsuko stopped and looked back towards him.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Tell me,” Shinji said.

“Tell you what?” Her voice expressed annoyance.

“What happened,” Shinji replied. “What happened all those years ago. How did the world get to be this way? I need to know.” Ritsuko’s eyes widened for a couple of seconds before returning to their normal size.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “I thought you were briefed on these matters when you arrived in the city.”

“I was only told some vague stuff, not what actually happened.” She asked.

“Didn’t your school or the tutor you had tell you anything?”

“Just the stuff everyone knows,” Shinji replied. “Not any of the details that you or Misato or Asuka know.”

“Well after all these months living here, I’m sure you could now ask the Commander or Vice-Commander.”

“There’s no point, they’ll just say I’m not ready,” Shinji answered. “I even tried to find out on my own, but I couldn’t get access to any of the systems… And now, I’m stuck.” Ritsuko began to pace in a circle around the width of the hallway, looking at a tablet she took out of her satchel. After a few minutes, she stopped and turned to Shinji.

“24 hours,” she said. “I need 24 hours to get all the materials that are required.” A small smile came upon Shinji’s face.”

“Really? That’s great, but I thought you said that you didn’t—”

“I’ll make time,” She interrupted him. “When are you done with school tomorrow?”

“At four,” Shinji answered. “Usually, I just go to my club and—”

“Skip it,” she interrupted him again. “I should have everything ready by the time you’re done with school.” She tapped on her pad and began tapping. “If you would come here again after school, everything will be explained then. Is that all right with you?”

“Uh, sure,” Shinji replied.

“All right,” she said. “Just one favor though. Could you not tell anyone about this?” Shinji cocked his head a little.

“Why?” he asked.

“It’s just that if the Commander or Vice-Commander were to find out they would try to convince you not to go on with it or try to stop it in some other way. And then, how are you able to find out? How much longer do you have to wait?” Shinji tried to sort through the pros and cons her request coming to the conclusion that she did have a valid point.

“O…Okay,” he said.

“Excellent,” she said, I’ll walk out of the building with you.” They said nothing to each other on the way out except when they were at the main door when she wished him a good day until tomorrow. Shinji watched her walk away before putting on his blades to return home. He couldn’t tell if he was excited or nervous about finding out. It was sometimes difficult for him to discern between the two emotions.

He had only gotten around two and a half hours of sleep during the night and at school the next day, he felt like falling asleep in class, but he couldn’t even take a nap in homeroom, the roller coaster of emotions keeping him off balance leading to him miss his name being called on in class a couple of times. After school, he told a member of the astronomy club that he wouldn’t be in today and raced off to Headquarters. He was met at the gate by Ritsuko and one other person.

“Glad to see you’re here,” she said to him. “Shinji, you might not remember him, but this is Lt. Commander Hyuga. He was on the bridge staff at Nerv HQ on the old days and is now third in command on the Wunder.”

“How do you do,” Shinji greeted him. He did not speak, but acknowledged his greeting with a slight nod.

“Now that everyone’s been introduced, shall we head on to my apartment?” Ritsuko said. As they approached the complex door, the three were met by a man coming out. He was rather large man, bald with dark skin and a very unusual beard in that it while it covered his cheeks and chin, the space between his upper lip and his nose was bare. The man stopped and looked at the group.

“Afternoon Vice-Captain, Commander,” he said.

“Afternoon, Lieutenant Kohji,” Ritsuko replied. “How are things aboard the ship?”

“Heading over to her now,” Kohji stated. “Looks like we’ll be able make our launch time tonight.”

“Good to hear,” she said. “I just have some matters that need to be cleared up before I board. I’ll see you on the bridge tonight.” She turned to Shinji. “Let’s go.”

“Very good Ma’am,” Kohji replied as they walked past him and into the complex. Kohji looked back towards them before he began walking again.

“Are you sure?” Burke stood right beside Kaji in his office as Kohji spoke to them through a video monitor.

“Absolutely. I only saw him once when he first came aboard the Wunder, but I don’t forget a face.”

“But that’s not unusual,” Burke said. “He told me that he went there yesterday to pay a visit to the pilots, but they were out. Maybe he was trying to see if they’re in today.”

“But that’s the thing sir,” Kohji remarked. “The pilots are aboard for duty and she would know that. And from our brief conversation, it implied to me that she was expecting him.” Burke opened his mouth to reply, but closed it without saying anything.”

“Thanks for the information,” Kaji stated.

“What are friends for?” Kohji declared before signing off.

“What the hell is he doing there?” Burke muttered to himself. He had crossed his arms and began to pace around the office.

“Was he behaving oddly in any way when he came home last night?” Kaji asked.

“I…I’m not sure,” Burke replied. “He seemed to have had a good day as far as I can tell. But the thing that gives me pause was that he appeared to be evasive with me when I asked if he met anyone there.” He walked over and picked his coffee cup on Kaji’s desk. “I chalked it up to him meeting a cute girl or something and he didn’t want to be embarrassed.” He began to take a sip.

“Maybe Ritsuko was the girl,” Kaji mused. It took an extreme force of will for Burke not to spit out the coffee he was drinking. He swallowed and turned to Kaji.

“I don’t know what’s more disturbing, that or the fact you can make a bad joke like that.”

“Just trying to lighten the mood,” Kaji replied.

“In any event, it appears that she wanted to see him for some reason,” Burke stated. “But if so, what would the reason be?” He began to pace again for about ten seconds when he stopped and pounded his fist into his palm.

“Of course,” he muttered before coming back to the desk and began to type on the computer.

“What are you doing ?” Kaji asked.

“The base is responsible for the security of that apartment complex right? So that means we have access to the security feed for the entire complex.”

“But those feeds are only for the public areas such as the hallways,” Kaji countered. “If he went into an apartment, we lose him.”

“I know that, but it could give us a better ide-Bingo!” Burke activated the office’s main screen. It showed the area outside the main door of the apartment, the events of the day sped up. They soon saw Shinji arrive.

“There he is,” Burke remarked. They watched him go up the stairwell and go to the 10th floor at lightening speed followed by him going up to the 13th. They watched him go to Misato’s door and, at that speed, followed by Ritsuko a second later.

“Stop” Kaji ordered. The image stopped at the two facing each other. “Play it at normal speed. Can we get sound?”

“We should,” Burke replied as he tapped at the keys. The video played normally. They saw everything. They heard everything. When the two walked off screen, Burke shot straight up and went for the phone.

“I need a security team assembled ASAP!” he yelled into it. “Have it ready to deploy to the Wunder apartments.” When Burke hung up, he began to head out of the office.

“You going over there?” Kaji asked.

“After a brief detour to the armory, yes,” Burke replied. “Shinji is my responsibility. This is something I have to take care of myself.”

“I’ll contact Katsuragi,” Kaji said. “She might be able to help you.”

“I appreciate it,” Burke said as he left the office. Kaji stood up and walked over to the window looking out towards where the apartments were.

“Ritz, don’t you realize you’re ruining everything?” he muttered.

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Postby jcmoorehead » Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:36 am

Been looking forward to this updating for quite some time, very happy that is has done. Really love the world you've created in this. Was a very good chapter, already excited for the next one :)

SPOILER: Show
So a few developments here, looks like the others aren't best pleased at Ritsuko having this sort of conversation with Shinji. I'm wondering why they might be withholding the information, could it be because they know the truth might upset Shinji and ruin all the good that has been done so far on putting him on the right track or is it something else?

Either way I like the fact that Ritsuko has indeed stepped forward and said she will tell him the truth, it looks like she did expect that to happen by now.

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Postby cyharding » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:47 pm

Chapter 7 is being looked at as we speak, but in honor of both (belated) Valentines Day and the 1 year anniversary of this thread, I decided to write a short comic piece based on an idea I've had for the past several months. It is not canon to the main story as it takes place during the TV series. It also may not be at the same standard as some of my previous chapters, as I decided to forgo some of the editing process I usually go through, but the piece is meant for cheap laughs only. I just hope that you all do find some humor in it. Enjoy...I hope.

SPOILER: Show
Shigeru Aoba and Makoto Hyuga were tapping the keyboards at their stations at a furious pace attempting to complete their tasks. Maya just looked at the two in dumbfounded as the MAGI was undergoing diagnostics, so there shouldn’t be any important work to be done at this moment. It was the sound of the furious key tapping from them that took her away from the novel she was reading.

“I’m about done on my end,” Hyuga declared.

“I still need a few minutes here,” Aoba replied. The key tapping continued for another few minutes until it suddenly ceased.

“Done,” Aoba announced.

“What are you guys doing?” Maya asked as she closed her book with a loud slap.

“Oh, uh, just installing a minor program on the MAGI,” Hyuga replied.

“What do you mean ‘minor program?’”

“Well,” Aoba began, trying to put together the right words. “It’s a program designed… to use the MAGI’s probability capabilities to determine…based on the personnel file for every member of Nerv here, their… capability regarding…”

“It’s a matchmaking program,” Hyuga couldn’t bear to watch him struggle anymore. Maya sank in her chair.

“What?” she asked them in the flattest tone either of them have heard her use.

“Well, I mean, it’s just an experiment,” Aoba countered. “We just wanted to see if it would work,” Maya took a deep breath before she spoke.

“The MAGI is a 7th generation organic computer capable of trillions of calculations per second, assisting us in our defense of Tokyo 3 against the Angels. It is not meant for you two to find dates.”

“Hey, I thought you were really into the whole ‘living in an era where science reigns supreme’ stuff,” Hyuga said.

“Of course, when it involves things that are actually useful.” Maya stood up an walked towards Aoba’s station. “There are commercial websites that can handle this sort of thing.” She scanned through some of the code that was on his screen.

“What a waste of the MAGI’s processing power,” she said to no one in particular.

“What is?” an all to familiar voice asked. The three turned around to find both Ritsuko and Misato standing there.

“Uh, well,” Hyuga started to stammer.

“They installed a matchmaking program into the MAGI,” Maya said.

“For what purpose?” Ritsuko looked at the two men.

“Well ma’am, I won’t deny that there would be some personal benefit to us,” Aoba stated, “but we also wanted to see if it would work on a system like the MAGI.” Ritsuko walked over to Aoba’s station looked at the code as well. After a few minutes of looking at it, she stepped back.

“While I do not approve of you two doing without clearing it with me, I can see the potential for testing the MAGI’s predictive capabilities.” The faces of the two men lit up.

“Really? Thank you so much ma’am” Aoba declared.

“Yes, thank you,” Hyuga said. “We were thinking of trying it on personnel who have spouses that also work here as well to see how far up the ladder they are on the list.”

“I see,” Ritsuko said. “Can we have a look at how it works?”

“The final touches aren’t in place yet, but we can give in a whirl,” Aoba said. “Do any of you mind if we use your names?”

“I personally don’t mind,” Ritsuko replied before turning to Misato.” How about you?”

“I’m always looking for a good laugh,” Misato replied.

“Maya?” Ritsuko asked.

“Sure,” she said followed by a whispered sigh.

“Okay then,” Hyuga began to type at his keyboard, A holographic screen formed in front of them, and lines of data, too fast for any of them to read, began to crawl along it.

“As you all know,” Hyuga stated. “All Nerv personnel files are extremely detailed, with information such as genetic information, psychological profiles, etc…with much of it unable to be accessed by anyone except those with high clearance. The program is designed so that the MAGI can form its conclusions without compromising their privacy. If I could put in Maya’s name, and the system should find a comparable match.” He finished tapping the keyboard and in less than ten seconds, the system returned its first match. A picture of Shinji Ikari took up a large portion of the screen. Maya, who decided a few seconds earlier to take a sip of her coffee, had to restrain herself from spitting it out in surprise like some old TV show. Aoba stifled a laugh while Misato had her mouth open. Both Ritsuko and Hyuga looked at the screen in calm curiosity.

“What the hell?” Misato blurted out. “The pilots are in this thing?”

“The program scans everyone’s files,” Hyuga exclaimed. “It looks like we’ll have to add some age filters to the program.

“Among other things,” Maya muttered to herself before speaking up to the others. “He seems to be a nice kid as far as I can tell, but he’s not my type, even if he was older.”

“Sure,” she replied. Hyuga tapped the keys and within seconds, an image of Fuyutsuki appeared.

Interesting,” she said after a few seconds of looking at it. “I do respect him as both an academic and a superior. If the age difference was shortened by twenty years or so, who knows what would have happened.”

“All right then, would you like to go next Major?” Hyuga asked.

“I’m ready,” Misato declared, pounding her closed fist into her open palm. “What’s the worse that could happen?” The program brought up Kaji’s picture. Ritsuko nearly doubled over laughing while Misato herself just looked at Kaji’s picture, no discernible expression on her face. The other three threw glances at each other the whole matter.

“It’s perfect,” Ritsuko said as she straightened herself. “It’s absolutely perfect.” Misato then faced them with a forced smile on her face that verged on the creepy.

“Well,” she said. “We were already in a relationship once, and it didn’t work out, so what does that program know?” She finished with a forced chuckle.

“If you say so,” Ritsuko was still chuckling herself.

“Okay, moving on…uh, I’ll do myself next,” Hyuga began tapping the keyboard again. The image that was brought up was that of a young woman, medium length black hair, soft brown eyes, and a gentle disposition about her.

“That’s Ayumi from Computer Room 3,” Ritsuko said.

“And I know for a fact that she’s already married,” Maya added.

“There’s a another filter,” Hyuga said. He minimized the picture and brought up a list of alternate names, scanning through them.

“She’s not there,” he muttered to himself.

“What was that Hyuga?” Misato asked.

“Oh no, nothing Major,” he said with a mild blush on his cheeks. “You’re the only one left Aoba.”

“Awesome,” he replied rubbing his hands. Hyuga entered the name and it wasn’t even two seconds when the screen went black followed by alarms blaring and the main monitor activated, displaying a diagram of the three MAGI computers. A mechanical voice then blared throughout the chamber.

“Artificial Intelligence Casper has submitted an order independently self-destruct.” They became even more scared when the voice blared again.

“Artificial Intelligence Melichor accepts request to independently self-destruct.” Seconds passed, none of them knowing if they were going to be dead in less than a minute. Then the diagram for Balthasar began flashing blue.

“Rejected, rejected…” the voice kept repeating.

“Shut down the OS now!” Ritsuko yelled. The screen went black, the MAGI was silent.

“What the fuck happened?” Misato shouted.

“Trying to find out,” Ritsuko shouted back as she took out a laptop, connected a cable between it and Hyuga’s terminal and began to tap. After several minutes, she set the laptop down and turned to them.

“The only operations that the MAGI was working on were the diagnostics and this matchmaking program. Diagnostics are done all the time, so that only leaves is the program.”

“How is that even possible?” Maya asked. “If that was the case, this would have happened when my name was put in first.”

“True,” Ritsuko replied. “I theorize that it was not the program itself, but the information that was given to it. One of us had info that caused the self-destruct attempt. And considering whose and info was being analyzed at the time and that it was Casper who initiated it…” She turned towards Aoba.

“Wh-What? Me?” he stammered.

“All the evidence fits the theory. There is something about your profile that caused the MAGI to consider self-destruction as a viable option. It could be said that this is the ultimate form of rejection.”

“What, I don’t know…how…that…” Aoba’s voice drifted off as she sank in his chair.

“We’ll remove the program from it and have the MAGI ready for restart in four hours,” Ritsuko said. “I believe we can create another reason that it acted this way. I think we can be glad both the Commander and Sub-Commander are gone. Oh, in the future,” she focused those words on the two men. “Please submit any requests for independent projects to me in writing first.” She then turned to Misato. “Anything else?” she asked her.

“I’m thinking that this incident justifies, at least for today, daytime drinking,” was her answer.

“I think I’ll join you,” Ritsuko said.

“I have some beers in my office. That’ll be our first stop,” Misato said as the two women left the bridge. Hyuga let out a long sigh.

“Well, it was nice while it lasted,” he said as he turned to Aoba, who was still sunk in his chair muttering to himself. He wondered after the MAGI was up and running again how were they going to reboot him.

jcmoorehead
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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby jcmoorehead » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:22 am

Really enjoyed that, certainly did make me laugh. Despite it being for comical purposes it was nice to see the bridge crew used a bit more and I actually felt you managed to get them all done fairly well.

SPOILER: Show
Poor Aoba though :D

cyharding
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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby cyharding » Tue May 09, 2017 11:21 pm

Well...after six months, Chapter 7 is finally out. There are a couple of things I would like to say though.The first is that instead of posting the chapter here, I decided to link to the ff.net page, though if there are requests, I can post it here. The second is that when I posted it yesterday, I got an error message. The chapter is up, that's not the problem, but it didn't alert the people who followed the story nor did it jump to the top of the page as being the most recent. I heard there was some trouble with the site recently, and I don't know if this is related to the troubles DarkBluePhoenix had recently with it. Does anyone know what's going on? Hopefully, the issue will be fixed by the time I'll post the next chaper, which I promise you, will be sooner than this one. Enjoy.

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Re: You Can Start Again

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Postby Glor » Wed May 10, 2017 9:00 am

View Original Postcyharding wrote:Well...after six months, Chapter 7Does anyone know what's going on? Hopefully, the issue will be fixed by the time I'll post the next chaper, which I promise you, will be sooner than this one. Enjoy.


Apparently there was a fix put out a few hours ago. You could always delete the chapter and try uploading again. Not sure it'll work since I've never had this problem, but it couldn't hurt to try.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.


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