[Fic] Bardi's Works

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AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Tue May 31, 2011 4:13 pm

Well, it's been a long time coming, but I think we can finally begin the tale...

And by all means, do tell me what'cha think. I could really use the feedback, guys.

The Ikari Identity ch1  SPOILER: Show
DISCLAIMER: I still don't own Evangelion or any of the characters, they're still property of…well, whoever owns them these days. This fic's got nothing to do with Rebuild, just the original series/movies. Timeline places this sometime after the 16th Angel, but before episode 24. It also borrows a fair amount of ideas/scenarios from the Bourne franchise, just so you know. And lastly, 'this' is thoughts and "this" is speech.

THE IKARI IDENTITY

Chapter 1: Blues from a Gun

*****

'Another damned rainy night,' the old captain thought grimly. The rain had been hard for several nights now with no sign of letting up soon. Sighing, the man took out a cigarette from a pack. He was about to light it when a strange sight in the water stopped him. 'What the hell…' he thought, reaching for the binoculars around his neck. A look through them confirmed what he thought: a body was floating about in this miserable weather. "Hey!" the captain shouted to the crew. "Get your asses out here! We've got a floater!"

After steering the boat around to the body, a couple of the fishermen threw a net overboard and picked it up onto the deck. The captain looked over it, a boy not older than fourteen or fifteen. He was dressed in a form-fitting full-body black suit that covered up to his neck. Then he noticed the slow rise and fall of the young man's chest. "Holy…" he said with a start, "he ain't dead yet." He then motioned for the two men who'd pulled the boy from the water to get him below deck and into the makeshift infirmary onboard.

Upon getting him down there, the ship's doctor examined the boy. On his back were two small wounds, apparently gunshots. Cutting away the plastic-like fabric of the suit, he proceeded to administer anesthesia to the young man and remove the bullets. One had struck him in the lower part of the left shoulder, nothing more than a flesh wound with a round inside. 'Easy enough to pry out,' he thought as he used a pair of pliers to do the job. The other, however, struck him in the shoulder blade, a few inches from the spine. Pulling out the round, the doctor discovered that the second round had struck something within the boy's skin. Cutting a little deeper, he found a strange microchip attached to the muscle near the backbone. The round had nearly missed it, only barely catching the edge. Cutting away the small wires attaching it to the muscle, he looked at the device carefully, not having a clue what he was seeing. His gaze lowered down to the boy, he mused, "Now what the hell do you make of that?"

*****

Shinji Ikari's eyes snapped open, his body sitting bolt upright. Immediately, he regretted this action as a wave of pain coming from his back made him fall right back onto the small bed he occupied. Gritting his teeth to block some of the pain, he looked about the room. 'Where…where am I?' he thought. It certainly wasn't his room or the NERV infirmary, that much was certain.

"Ah, glad to see you've come to," an unfamiliar voice came from across the room. At the sound, Shinji nearly jumped out of bed, the motion sending another ache through his person. "Sorry 'bout that, didn't mean to scare you half-to-death," the voice continued. Casting his gaze towards the sound, the boy was met with the sight of a middle-aged man dressed for cold weather.

"W…who are you? Where am I?" Shinji asked, eyes wide.

The captain sat down in a wooden chair close to the door and sized up the young man his crew had pulled out of the sea. "Name's Mathieu," the man started. "and you're on my ship. Damned lucky we saw you, y'know?" As Shinji tried to sit up again, the captain noticed the pain in his expression. "Hey…take it easy for a bit," he started, lighting a cigarette. "Not everyone lives from gunshot wounds, y'know?"

Shinji's expression dropped further, his eyes remaining wide. "G-gunshot?" he asked.

"Yep," Mathieu answered. "Two of 'em, probably a .22 by the size." The quiet in the room lasted for a minute before the man decided he needed at least a few answers from his guest. "So…what's your name?"

Shinji winced again as he sat up and thought over his answer. "S…Shinji, sir," he said.

"Shinji, eh?" Mathieu asked, getting up from the chair and walking over to a cabinet on the other side of the room. "Well, I'll say this," he said, pulling out a bag and placing it in front of the boy. "There's some strange things you came onboard with…"

Looking into the bag, Shinji saw a couple of items that puzzled him. One looked to be a plug suit, black-colored and cut into two. The other was a dented and fried computer chip with some blood on it.

"Not even sure where to begin with either one, to be honest," Mathieu said. "How 'bout you?"

Shinji shook his head. The plug suit looked to be the same as the one he wore for tests and battle…but it was missing the neural connectors and the life-support device on the arm. The top half showed two small holes near the left shoulder on the back, the same place as the pain he was feeling. The chip, on the other hand, he had absolutely no idea about. "Never seen either before," he said. "This…came out of me?" he asked, holding the chip.

"Yeah," Mathieu said. "If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was a GPS tag."

'Something NERV probably did,' Shinji thought with a sigh, shaking his head. "Where'd you say you pulled me from?" he asked.

"A couple-dozen miles from the Tokyo-2 shoreline," Mathieu answered. "Dunno how long you were adrift, though."

Laying back down, Shinji felt at a loss for what he'd been told. 'Shot and adrift at sea…' he thought. 'What the hell was I doing out there?'

"Me and the guys are glad you came around," Mathieu said after a long silence. "Been worrying you wouldn't pull through…"

Shinji's gaze fixed back on the older man. "Wha-" he started, "how long have I been here?"

Mathieu tried as best as he could to hide his expression from the boy. "Almost five weeks…"

Shinji's eyes widened as much as they could. 'Five weeks…' he thought. 'Misato must think I'm dead or something,' he mused, feeling sorry for what he'd probably put her through.

"So where're you from?" Mathieu asked. "I can already tell you're from this country, at least…"

Shinji closed his eyes and sighed. "Tokyo-3," he said after a moment.

Standing up, Mathieu walked over to the boy and put a hand on his unhurt shoulder. "Ah, that's good then," he said, "we'll be pulling into Tokyo-2 in a week or so. Not too long a walk to home from there, huh?"

Shinji shook his head. "No sir…" he said quietly as the captain headed for the door.

Just before he exited, Mathieu turned back to the young man. "I get the feelin' you're not tellin' me everything. But I understand, man's gotta have some secrets, right?"

With the captain having left the room, Shinji stared at the ceiling for quite some time in silence. His life had been turned in some rather dark directions lately…but whatever had happened to him he couldn't even fathom. 'Everything's just as skewed as after the last few Angels,' he thought bitterly. 'But what in the world was I doing out there?' Sighing heavily, he pulled the sheet on the bed up and tried to shut out the pain in his back. 'At least it's a pain I'm used to…'

*****

Eight days later, the ship pulled into the harbor at Tokyo-2. Waking up that morning, Shinji put on a t-shirt and pants one of the shorter crew members had donated to him along with a pair of shoes. 'A little big, but they'll do,' he thought. The pain that had been with him since he awoke on the boat had subsided a bit, making him able to get around with no problem. Leaving the makeshift infirmary and getting out onto the deck, the boy was met by the captain.

"Well lad," Mathieu said, holding a hand outstretched. "I suppose this is where we part company, eh?"

Smiling as best as he could at the man, Shinji accepted the handshake. "Uh…sure. Thanks for everything, sir," he said. "I only hope I wasn't a burden…"

"Nonsense!" Mathieu insisted, shaking his head. "Always feels good to help someone in need," he finished, handing the boy a raincoat. "Consider it a final parting gift. Rain'll be coming back soon."

Nodding to the older man, Shinji accepted the garment and put it on. "Hope to see you again one day," he said, walking towards the landing plank.

"Of course," the captain agreed. "It's a wide world out there, and you just never know…"

With a final wave, Shinji stepped out onto the docks of Tokyo-2. The smell of salt was strong in the air, the city certainly seeming more alive than Tokyo-3 'Not really a surprise considering…' he mused, walking out into the city. 'Most of the city's population had come here after what happened to Unit-00 because of that last Angel,' his thoughts continued, feeling the sadness come up again.

Several hard rain drops shook the thoughts from his mind momentarily. Pulling the hood over his head and resuming his walk, Shinji soon came upon a bank of payphones. 'Might as well try,' he thought, pulling a few coins out of his pocket and putting them in one of the machines. As the rain started to pick up, he dialed the number for Misato's apartment. Several rings later, the familiar answering machine picked up. Sighing, he hung the phone up and leaned against a wall nearby. 'Great…looks like I'm walking,' he thought with a hint of sarcasm.

*****

After a few hours worth of walking, Shinji had begun to notice things he hadn't before. For one, he was avoiding people more than he usually did. 'Not that that's a whole lot,' he had thought once or twice. But it seemed like more like instinct to him now, not the deliberate avoidance he'd done so often. The further he got into town, the more he was heading off the beaten path and into the side streets and alleys. And for the life of him, he couldn't understand it.

Another had been the way he was sizing up people who had been curious. 'Dunno what the hell that was all about,' Shinji mused. The funny thing was, he felt confident none of them could take him in a fight. And that thought had felt like a gut-punch. He'd been in very few real fights in his life, Angels battles notwithstanding, and none of those he'd won…so he had no clue where these odd trains-of-thought were coming from.

"What's going on with my mind?" Shinji asked quietly, standing in a dark alley with the rain pouring down on him. Looking around, he saw a newspaper machine. Curious to know exactly how long he'd been 'lost', he walked over to the machine and saw the date. 'It's like he said, just over six weeks…' he thought, eyes wide and not having the slightest idea what had transpired. 'Maybe a battle went badly?' me thought, resuming his walk out of the city limits. 'No, Angels wouldn't use human weapons.'

And that was a main thought that'd been with Shinji since he awoke over a week ago: who in the world would've tried to kill him? NERV wasn't really under fire from anyone, as best as he could tell. Hell, they were saving mankind from the Angels. "So…why me?" he thought aloud. He'd also wondered about Asuka and Rei, if any attempt had been made on their lives. 'God, I hope not,' he thought. Although recent events had (for lack of a better word) soured things between everyone, he still didn't want to imagine his friends hurt or worse. 'Not that things could get a whole lot worse,' he thought with a heavy heart.

*****

After leaving the city limits of Tokyo-2, Shinji spent the next day-and-a-half in the forests between there and Tokyo-3. Partially for natural cover, partially to avoid anybody else. "Guess that time camping with Kensuke taught me something," he said while seated at the foot of a large tree. "Should really thank him for that one of these days…"

Night had fallen, and Shinji had built a fire nearby the tree's base with whatever dry wood he had found. It provided some heat, but he was still quite cold. 'Feels like summer every day,' he thought, 'but nights can get pretty chilly. At least it stopped raining.' And while that was some solace, the moisture and chill in the air had done their best to keep the heat out of the boy.

Facing the fire and pulling the raincoat around him, Shinji prepared himself for what was sure to be another fitful night's sleep. "Haven't been sleeping well since I came to, actually," he mused aloud. That much was certainly true, the nights since then had been restless for him. The dreams were fractured, not really making much of any sense, and they'd be gone not long after waking. But deep down, he knew they were about whatever had happened to him…

*****

Several miles from Shinji's nightly stop, a phone rang in a large office.

"Yes?" a man's voice answered.

The voice on the other end talked for a half-minute before falling silent.

"I see…continue keeping watch," the voice spoke again. Returning the phone to its cradle, it spoke up again to another in the room. "The Third Child was spotted in Tokyo-2 two days ago."

"Is that where I should go?" a soft feminine voice asked.

"No," the man's voice answered. "We know where he'll be going. Head there and give him his…homecoming."

"Understood," the female voice said. Several seconds of footsteps echoed through the large office before the sound of a door opening and closing is heard.

"Is it wise to send only her?" another voice asked.

"Have faith," the man's voice replied, the smirk nearly audible. "She'll take care of it."

*****

The following evening, Shinji made it back to the outskirts of Tokyo-3. Looking out over the lake created by Unit-00's destruction, he felt the same heavy sadness come over him. Shaking his head of the thoughts, he mused, 'No time for that right now. I need to get back to Misato's.'

As he had done in Tokyo-2, Shinji took the most out-of-the-way path back there. 'Like my mind's telling me to avoid being seen,' he thought, 'although there can't be many people left that could see me.' Crossing several quiet streets and back-alleys, he walked up to the familiar building he lived in with Misato and Asuka. 'Well, and Pen-Pen,' he thought, remembering his guardian's pet, 'but she sent him to Tokyo-2 with Hikari.'

The building was one of the few that had been undamaged after the last few Angel attacks, something Shinji hadn't been grateful for until right then. 'It'll just be nice to be in a familiar hiding place,' he thought with a hint of humor. After riding the elevator, he approached the door to the apartment. 'I hope someone's home, I don't have a key,' he thought, mentally kicking himself for such an oversight. Stepping up to the door, his eyes went a little wide as he noticed the lock had been broken. Hand shaking, he reached out and slid the door open.

Walking into the dark of the hallway, Shinji could see that the living room had been ransacked. Moving about the apartment, he discovered the same had been done to the kitchen and two of the bedrooms. His room, oddly, had been spared. 'Probably nothing to find here,' he thought, remembering how little he owned. But his clothes, cello, and S-DAT player were missing…that was certainly strange. None but the cello were worth much, but it didn't look like they were stolen. Removing the raincoat, he closed the door to his room.

Returning to the living room, Shinji began to pace the small area. Possible scenarios played out in his head, not many of them very good. "Was there an evacuation?" he asked in the darkness, finally stopping his pacing. "D-did whoever tried to kill me get to them?" A soft click behind him shook the thoughts from his head.

"Shinji Ikari?" a man's voice asked.

Turning around, Shinji caught sight of a couple of Section Two agents. Neither one of them could've been older than twenty-one. And one of them was pointing a silenced handgun at the him. He nodded at them and spoke up. "W-what's this? Where's Major Katsuragi?" he asked, trying to hide the waver in his tone.

"We are unaware of the major's whereabouts at this time," the agent pointing his gun at Shinji answered. "Enough questions…we've been ordered to bring you back alive and…mostly unharmed."

"What? On whose orders?" Shinji asked, fear becoming a knot in his gut.

"Commander Ikari," the other agent replied.

"Father…" Shinji seethed under his breath, gritting his teeth and clenching his fists.

Upon Shinji's reaction, the agent with the gun spoke up. "Come on, you've got an appointment with the Commander."

The other agent walked behind the Third Child. As he began to put a pair of handcuffs on Shinji, the boy felt a strange instinctual urge course through him. In one swift motion, he quickly removed the cuffs from the agent and linked them on the man's wrists. And then made his point with a hard kick to the agent's chest, sending him sprawling across the floor.

As the other man began to react, Shinji made a grab for the man's arm. Two silenced shots came out, the barrel pointed down at the wood floor. The boy twisted the arm around and gave it a few sharp strikes, the handgun becoming lost from the agent's grip and onto the floor. The young man then used the leverage to bring a forearm down on the back of the agent's neck. He slumped to the living room floor, the fight having left him for now.

By now, the other agent had regained his footing and pulled his own gun. Shinji's attention quickly snapped back to him, diving behind the couch to avoid the shots. Counting off fifteen like it was ingrained, he quickly lunged out and for the gun he'd disarmed the other agent of. Taking quick aim, the Third Child shot the agent in both kneecaps and the arm holding the gun.

The agent fell to the ground in a heap, pain evident across his face. Rising from the floor and walking over to the man, Shinji kicked his gun down the hall. Stepping closer, he pointed the weapon at the agent's head. But as he was about to squeeze the trigger, his expression dropped upon realizing just what he'd done…the skills he'd just utilized. Skills he was certain he didn't have.

Shinji stood there, looking at his hands and the gun in one of them. Shaking and breathing heavily, he dropped the weapon and walked with unsteady footing towards the apartment's front door. 'Wh-what the hell did I just do?' he thought, a rush of adrenaline still surging through his frame. His thinking was cut off by a quick foot to his chin by an unseen third party. Upon regaining his senses, he looked at the person who has attacked him…any anger in his expression changed instantly to a mixture of shock and surprise upon seeing who it had been.

Standing over him was Rei Ayanami, the enigmatic First Child. She was clad in the same black plug suit he'd been wearing when Mathieu's ship had rescued him. And armed identically as the other two agents he had just dispatched. "Ikari," she spoke softly, the gun in her hand never wavering an inch as it was pointed at his face, "the Commander has need of you. Come along quietly…he said you were to be brought back alive. But if you persist, you will not be unharmed." Then, as if to make her point, she removed the gun's safety with a sharp click…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Okay then…one down, a few more to go. I figured it was time for something different (at least a little bit, for now) from me. And the idea had been with me for a month or so, so I figured it was time for another.

Who knows? Might keep this pace up and polish off a few more after this…

And, as promised last time…

*****Omake time!*****

We find the author seated at his computer, typing away at the last bit of this chapter.

Bard: Well…that's the first part down. (looking up at the room's newest occupant) Ah, so glad to see you all again!

Upon hearing those words, Mitsumi floats into the room and hugs the camera.

Mitsumi: (beaming) YAY! It's so nice to have you all back!

Bard: Ah…Mitsumi…

Realizing she'd been a little too glad to see the audience again, Mitsumi releases the camera and blushes slightly.

Mitsumi: (nervously) Oh, sorry about that. It's just that we haven't seen them in so long!

Bard: (sighing) I know, I know…

Mitsumi: (smirking) 'Bout time you got back to work, y'know?

Bard: (sweatdropping): Alright, I get it already!

Mitsumi: Oh, I just remembered something… (puts on her best mean look) I saw what you did in that other new one. You told me you weren't gonna do anything ecchi!

Bard: (sweating bullets) Ah…that. Well, at least I didn't get any more descriptive than-

Mitsumi: (cutting him off) THAT'S NOT THE POINT!

Bard: (incredulous) It isn't? I think it ended at being more "cute" than "hawt", agreed?

Mitsumi: (thinks it over for a moment) Okay…I'll give you that one. (a dreamy look comes over her face) It WAS really precious…

Bard: (smiling) Indeed, it was the proudest moment I've had being a fan of them.

Mitsumi: Really?

Bard: Yep.

Mitsumi: (trying her best Asuka impression) Then I guess I'll allow it…but nothing more than that. You even think about writing a le-

Bard: (cutting in) The thought never even crossed my mind.

Mitsumi: (rolling her eyes and floating out of the room) Baka author…

Bard: (sighs and slumps in his chair, then looks at the camera) Well, that doesn't mean I can't get to that level again, right?

Mitsumi: (from the other room) I HEARD THAT!

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Thanks, guys.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick "sorry" to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it's not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:42 pm

Arc one, chapter two. And if the end leaves you a little...frustrated? Well, then that just means I've done my job well.

The Ikari Identity ch2  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI IDENTITY

Chapter 2: Truth Hits Everybody

*****

From a rooftop nearby, another party watched the current scene in Misato’s apartment playing out. “Shit!” a female voice said, looking through binoculars. “Finally shows up only to nearly get himself killed!” Sighing heavily, she prepared to go right into the lion’s den. “Son of a bitch, that idiot had best appreciate this…”

*****

Back in the apartment, Shinji was still laying down trying to wrap his head around what had just happened. He had just disarmed and nearly killed two Section Two agents sent to bring him back to the Commander, but it felt like he had seen someone else do it, using his body; memories and reflexes and reaction that weren’t his own, using skills he was unaware even existed; he had moved so fast, so precise, with movements focused and intended to deliver as much disabling pain as possible in as…little time as he could.

Then there was Rei Ayanami standing over him, with a gun in her hand pointed at him, and Misato’s apartment seemed to have become a war zone; taken apart, furniture and appliances strewn around the floor. And still, there was no trace of Misato or Asuka.

“Rei,” Shinji spoke up, his voice cracking. “W-what the hell is going on?”

“I told you,” Rei spoke in her usual chilly tone, “Commander Ikari has had people looking for you for weeks. You are still needed at NERV. Your whereabouts during that time can be explained another day.” Pointing the gun towards the Third Child’s head, she continued. “Now get up. I do not wish to harm you greatly.”

As he stood up, Shinji felt his instinct take over and decided to even the odds a bit. Lunging for the gun, he knocked it loose from the First Child’s hand and tried to hold her in an armlock. “Stop this, Rei,” he spoke with a voice as cold as his father’s. “I won’t fight you.”

“Then you will force me to hurt you,” Rei replied. Breaking his grip, she gave him a hard right jab to the stomach. Pushing the advantage further while he was winded, she delivered a short kick to his left side.

Shinji grunted, pulling himself off the floor quickly. As Rei came at him with another kick, he caught her leg with his crossed wrists. “Enough!” he shouted, intent on stopping her unprovoked assault.

Rei said nothing, trying to free herself from his grip. Using her light weight, she backflipped and caught Shinji in the jaw with her other foot, freeing the caught leg before landing with a soundless grace.

Shinji, meanwhile, found himself on the floor again. ‘This really isn’t working,’ he thought. Rei was certainly more serious about this than he was, even with the unknown-to-him skills he was using. All he was doing was fending off her strikes, she seemed to be ready to crush what little spine he had.

The sound of glass breaking took the attention of both of the room’s conscious occupants. As the patio door practically exploded inward, a shape came through and hit Rei, knocking her back a few feet. As Shinji regained his footing, his gaze was caught by the room’s newest occupant. A feminine form with a familiar red mane told him all he needed to know. “Asuka…” he thought aloud.

Asuka Langley Sohryu stood before him, wearing a dark beige sweater and blue jeans. The shoes she wore he hadn’t seen since when she moved in, a black pair built in a heel-boot hybrid style. Oddly, Shinji noticed, her hair did not contain her neural connectors. ‘Rarely seen her without them, now that I think about it,’ he thought.

“You okay?” Asuka asked, breaking his train of thought.

Feeling more out-of-the-loop than ever, Shinji could do nothing but stand up and nod.

Shaking her head angrily, Asuka shot him her best mad look. “Idiot! Take this more seriously!” she berated. “She could’ve easily killed you…”

Rei groaned and got to her feet, the mildest look of anger on her face. “Pilot Sohryu,” she spoke softly.

Asuka turned her attention back to the other girl. “Hello again, First,” she said, the last word practically drenched in venom. “Get behind me,” she whispered to Shinji, “this is gonna get ugly.”

Nodding, Shinji edged backwards and well away from both of his fellow pilots. ‘I knew there was some hard feelings…but what the hell is this?’ he thought of the scene before him.

“You would stop me?” Rei asked, her eyes never leaving the redhead.

“I’d be happy to,” Asuka answered, cracking her knuckles.

“My orders say nothing of sparing your life,” Rei warned.

“Never dreamed they would have,” Asuka spat back.

Deciding that the time for words was over, Rei made the first move. A hard left followed by a wide kick, both easily evaded by Asuka. The redhead struck back with a leg sweep that took the First Child off her feet…for just a second. Springing back onto her feet, the pale girl found herself fending off the Second Child’s furious blows while looking for an opening. Seeing a chance, she evaded one of the punches and used the redhead’s momentum to shove her into the wall near the kitchen.

Dazed from that, Asuka shook her head and glared hard at the other girl. The attack hadn’t done any damage, but it did hurt like hell. “Bitch…” she fumed under her breath. Just as Rei attempted another kick, the redhead ducked it and brought out a roundhouse of her own. The First Child caught it easily, but was caught unaware as the other leg was swung around and into her face. Both girls ended up on the floor, only with the redhead keeping her footing.

From across the room, Shinji could only watch the spectacle before him with a strange expression. It was a graceful ballet of violence like nothing he‘d seen before. ‘And I’d bet Kensuke would pay greatly to see it happen,’ he had thought off-hand, the whole thing seeming surreal.

Sprawled out on the living room, Rei picked the gun she’d been carrying back up and brought it around to the others. Just as it drew a bead on her, Asuka kicked the gun high up above the two of them before reaching for it. Her hand finding a grip on the weapon, she brought it down to the winded First Child’s form. “Don’t even fucking move,” she threatened, trying to catch her own breath, “or swear I’ll do it.”

Shinji’s eyes widened at what was going to unfold. He quickly closed the distance and pulled the gun up from Rei’s head. “No, Asuka!” he shouted. “No killing.”

“And why the hell not?” Asuka seethed, not understanding what he was doing.

“She’s still our friend…” Shinji said quietly. “Regardless of what just happened.“ Rei’s gaze moved around to him, her expression one of slight surprise.

Asuka continued to give him an angry stare, but relented. “Fine,” she said. “But it’s on your head!” She then emphasized this by bringing up a boot-covered foot and knocking the First Child out.

“Asuka!” Shinji yelled.

“Hey, she’s not dead…” Asuka stated in a cold voice. Looking out of the window, her expression instantly became much more serious. “Shit! Here they come…” Running towards the door, she grabbed up Shinji’s collar and pulled him forcefully out of the apartment.

“Wha-” Shinji managed after some work. “Who’s coming?”

“Section Two agents,” Asuka said, releasing him and walking over towards the stairs. “Things are gonna get a lot more complicated from here.” Readying the gun, she opened the door to catch sight of one of the agents. Making a mad dash for him, she took a shot at his arm before tackling the man hard, which knocked him out. “See? I can show some restraint,” she said to Shinji in her best haughty voice.

“This really isn’t the best time,” Shinji said, looking down into the stairwell.

“Don’t bother,” Asuka said. “We’re not going that way.”

“Huh? Where else is there?” Shinji asked.

“Up, of course!” Asuka said, her tone even and controlled. “Gotta evade them somehow…”

Walking up several flights of stairs, the two pilots found themselves on the building’s roof. Looking down at the two Section Two vehicles pulling up, Shinji began to feel a great unease. “Are you sure about this?” he asked.

“Not much choice,” Asuka replied. “Not unless you’d like to go with them.” Walking over to one side of the building, she pulled two pairs of gloves from her pocket and handed one pair to the boy. “I think you’ll want these for what’s coming,” she said, putting on a pair herself.

Not understanding, Shinji looked over the side of the building to see what she meant. Attached to the roof and leading down into an alley was a rope. “Wait a minute,“ he began, “you don’t mean-”

“Oh yeah,” Asuka explained, “that’s exactly what I mean. Don‘t think too much about it. Just grab on and slide down. That‘s what the gloves are for.” Hefting her weight over the side of the building, she began the trip down to ground level.

Shinji could only watch as his roommate slid down the rope and onto the street. Sighing heavily, he did just as she had and felt a fearful rush as the ground approached fast. Once on the ground, he shook his head at what had just happened. “And I thought I’d been through everything…” he mused. Walking over to where Asuka stood, he kept watch for anyone coming their way. “Okay, what now?” he asked.

“Just follow me,” Asuka answered. “Stay low and stay quiet.”

Shinji nodded and followed her lead down the alley and out onto another quiet street. After a short walk into a side-street, the two came upon a black Renault Alpine parked in the recess. “Hey, this looks like…” he said.

“That’s because it is,” Asuka cut in. “She’s just been given a paint job.“ Realizing something she’d forgotten, her mood became deadly serious. “Hey, come here for a second.”

Shinji walked over to her, her change in mood increasing his unease. That was only amplified as she quickly turned him around and pulled his shirt up. “Wh…what the hell?” he asked, hearing a click behind him.

Asuka looked over his back, the two healing gunshot wounds sewn up. Staring hard at the lower one, she whirled the boy around to face her. “Alright, where is it?” she asked him, a pocket knife in hand and a deathly glare on her face.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Shinji raised his voice slightly. The knife was nearly at his neck.

Shoving him up against the nearby wall, Asuka continued to stare daggers at him. “Don’t even fuck around with me right now!” she demanded. “Where’s your chip?”

Shinji’s eyed widened at the question. ‘How could she know about that?’ he thought. “I was shot…one of the rounds hit it,” he explained, hoping to redirect her anger. With that, Asuka released him and put the blade away. “It was GPS, wasn’t it?” he asked, feeling glad to be in one piece.

“No,” Asuka said in a low voice, “much worse.” Opening the door to the car, she motioned for him to get in. “It’s something that just needed taking care of,“ she said quietly. “Now come on, we’re getting out of here.”

Seating himself in the passenger side, a thought occurred to Shinji. “Asuka,” he said, “can you even drive? I mean, you‘re only-”

“Now is not the time to be bringing that up,” Asuka threatened him. “Let’s just say we’ve both got some serious new skills…”

Shinji decided right then to shut up and buckle up. Turning the key, Asuka started the car up and slowly eased it out of the narrow alley. ‘Hope there’s no one around,’ she thought as she turned out onto the street. For a couple of blocks, it was all quiet. That is, until a left turn nearly ran them into a Section Two SUV. A few handgun rounds were shot in their direction, one of them shattering the back window. “Shit!” she yelled, shifting wildly and pushing the gas as hard as she could. “So much for the easy way,” she continued while giving the wheel a hard turn.

The sports car managed to keep ahead of the larger vehicle, Asuka trying desperately to lose the tail. After several more blocks, she began to form an idea. “Shinji,” she said to her passenger. “Backseat floorboard, behind you.”

Unbuckling himself, Shinji climbed back and looked for what she’d requested. And there he found it, a submachine gun. “This what you meant?” he shouted over the engine’s roar.

“Don‘t just sit there!” Asuka yelled back, making the car take another hard right. “Take care of it!”

Nodding, Shinji edged himself partly out of the window and aimed at the SUV’s front grill. That same feeling in the apartment took control as he looked for the right spot. Giving the trigger a small squeeze, a short burst erupted from the weapon and struck the engine block dead-on. ‘Not going anywhere now,’ he thought as he pulled himself back inside the car, feeling disconnected from the whole event.

Asuka was trying her best to keep control of the car, heading back to one of the exits from town. As she neared the street she was seeking, another SUV blocked her off. “Goddamn it!” she fumed, having had more than her fill of this situation. “I swear to all that’s holy, I’m not driving next time!” Making a quick 180-degree turn, the redhead put as much weight into the gas pedal as she could.

Shinji pumped out a couple more bursts in the direction of the vehicle following them. One hit the front left tire, causing the SUV to swerve wildly but still keep chase. As he readied to fire another burst, a click told him he’d run the weapon dry. “Oh, for the love of…” he said angrily, tossing the empty gun into the backseat. “I’m out, you’ll have to take care of this one!”

“Just like always…” Asuka said under her breath, sighing. Making another hard turn, the Second Child steered the car a few streets over…and around the lake made by Unit-00’s destruction. The flat front tire on the SUV following them made it nearly impossible for the driver to keep control.

Looking in the rearview mirror, Shinji saw the larger vehicle hit the water running. ‘And that makes two…‘ he thought, realizing that was the only two that had been outside the apartment building. Exhaling sharply, he noticed they were leaving the city limits and out onto a road leading into Japan’s countryside. “I think I’ve had enough of this for several lifetimes…” he thought aloud.

“What?” Asuka asked.

“Nothing…” Shinji replied, the enormity of the night’s happenings setting heavily on him. Looking over the redheaded driver, he afforded himself a small smile.

Noticing the boy’s stare, Asuka spoke up. “What’re you staring at?”

Shaking his head, Shinji continued to smile. “I just realized…you drive like Misato.”

“Oh really?” Asuka said with a smirk. She then gave the wheel a hard jerk to the right and left, tossing the boy about the front seat. “Still think it’s so funny?” she asked, the slow simmer of rage in her tone.

Shinji said nothing, only buckling himself back into the seat and watching out the window.

*****

Miles away, a call was being taken in a large office.

“I see…” a man’s voice said. “That is most…unfortunate.” Placing the phone back in the cradle, Gendo Ikari’s expression didn’t even betray a hint of worry. For him, all was going to plan.

“It was the Second, wasn’t it?” another voice asked from across the room.

“It is of no consequence,” the Commander said. “She will be dealt with in due time.”

“I told you to send me along with the First,” the voice said.

“No, you are my protection in her stead,” the Commander said. “The Second and Third will be no threat soon enough…”

“So she is still alive?” the voice asked.

“Indeed,” the Commander answered. “It seems he isn’t willing to hurt Rei.”

“That could be used to your advantage,” the voice spoke.

“Yes, but I will not have her take unnecessary risks,” the Commander replied. “Now that she is truly…irreplaceable. She is still needed for the scenario.”

“Ah yes, of course,” the voice agreed. “Then all proceeds as planned…”

*****

Nearly an hour into their drive, Shinji decided to stop pacing around the big questions. “Um…Asuka,” he began.

“What?” Asuka asked, her face bearing a mix of tension and deep thought.

Taking a deep breath, Shinji prepared himself for whatever answers she could give. “What the hell is happening?” he asked quietly. “Why did Ayanami attack us? What’s my father want me for? Why can I do these things I did back there?” he continued to ask, his voice raising in volume with every word.

“Quiet!” Asuka snapped at him. After a tense few seconds, she sighed and looked back at the road. “Look, I didn’t mean to shout like that. But right now, I’m feeling very agitated.” Taking a deep breath herself, she continued. “Those skills? That means you’ve been…activated.”

“Activated?” Shinji asked. “What do you mean?”

“It’s a long story…” Asuka replied.

“I think we’ve got the time,” Shinji mused under his breath with a hint of sarcasm.

“Well,” Asuka said, “you remember all those synch tests?” Looking over to see him nodding, she continued. “Turns out there was something else they did to us…subconsciously.”

Shinji sat quietly, his eyes wide.

“They turned us into living weapons,” Asuka said, her expression dropping slightly. “Very useful for taking care of problems quietly.”

“What problems?” Shinji asked.

“People standing in the Committee’s way,” Asuka replied. “And the Commander’s, too.”

“Committee?” Shinji questioned.

“NERV’s not quite on the top of the food chain,” Asuka explained. “The Commander’s been working with this twelve-member cabal called SEELE. They’re the real force behind the EVAs.”

Shinji took a moment to take in what he’d been told. “So that makes my father as much of a tool to them as us,” he said.

“Heh, they wished he’d been that obedient,” Asuka said.

“What do you mean?” Shinji asked.

Sighing again, Asuka continued. “You’ll get the full story in a while. But for now, let’s just say NERV and SEELE had a much darker purpose. And we were just pawns…” Shaking her head, she resumed speaking. “What they were planning was very different that what your father had in mind. And to that end…”

“…he used us,” Shinji finished. “It’s not just me, then. No one means anything to him.”

“Not really,” Asuka interjected. “It was the Committee that used us, the Commander has the First to do that for him.”

“So that’s why she attacked us?” Shinji asked.

“Yeah,” Asuka answered. “And as for why the Commander’s wanting you alive…Unit-01’s needed for his plans, and ever since it ate the 14th Angel and absorbed you, it won’t work except for you.”

“Not even the Dummy Plug?” Shinji asked, remembering the infernal device.

“No one,” Asuka said, her tone flat. “You were part of something so big it’s frightening…and everyone but him and the SEELE had no clue.”

Shinji pulled his legs up to his body and crossed his arms over his knees. “I never wanted any of it, you know?” he said. “All I wanted was for him to acknowledge me…”

“I know,” Asuka said, her voice softening. “And after all that teasing about ‘the invincible Shinji Ikari’…I never would have guessed. I was always just expendable…”

Noticing her change of expression, Shinji decided to tell her where he’d been. “I don’t remember how I got there,” he started, “but I was pulled out of the sea around Tokyo-2 just over six weeks ago. Woke up a week-and-a-half ago to find out I’d been found in an outfit like the one Rei was wearing, shot twice in the back, one of them hitting that ‘chip’, and unaware what had happened.” He took in a deep breath and began again. “The crew let me off at Tokyo-2. I walked from there back to the apartment, all the while noticing these strange lines of thought I’d never had. And then…well, you know the rest.”

Asuka sat in silence, listening to her roommate’s story. When he finished, she spoke up. “Yeah…up until earlier, I thought you’d died,” she said.

“What about you?” Shinji asked, concerned. “Last time I saw you…” he trailed off, remembering how she’d been after the 15th Angel’s attack on her mind.

“I’ve been better, if that’s any comfort,” Asuka said, she trying to hold back the same memories. “They activated me a few days after you disappeared.”

“You keep saying ‘activated’,” Shinji cut in. “What does that mean?”

“That chip that was in your back?” Asuka asked. She glanced over to see him nod. “That’s what it’s for. It triggers the implanted skills we’ve got. The Committee could even keep us on target with it.”

“You mean they were…controlling us?” Shinji asked, the anger in his voice evident.

“Yes, to some degree,” Asuka continued. “They almost made me do something unforgivable…” The redhead’s eyes were threatening to tear up, no matter who was looking.

Shinji placed an unsure hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her. “Asuka…what happened?”

Asuka hit the brakes on the car hard, shaking and trying to hold back the emotions. “Misato…” she said, barely above a whisper. “They were going to have me kill her!” she finished with a shout of anger and sadness.

His eyes going wide, Shinji gave her shoulder a small squeeze. “Tell me everything…” he requested.

Asuka gathered her composure and began to speak, her voice just barely even. “Like I said,” she started, “it was almost a week after you’d disappeared. All I remember was being in the locker room at NERV and then it all goes sideways. Next thing I know, I’m standing in front of Misato with a gun in her face! She never even looked scared, like she was expecting it…”

Shinji could only listen in silence at her story, a faint reminder of something tugging at his mind.

“And,” Asuka continued, “I…I just couldn’t do it. Misato was one of the few people who really cared about me. I couldn’t do that to her…” Asuka sniffled back a few tears that had almost fallen. “I broke down there in front of her, one of the few times I cried. Then I guess she got it in her head to knock me out cold,” she said with a hint of annoyance. “After that, I woke up to the sensation that part of my back was being cut open and something removed.”

“She knew about it?” Shinji asked.

“Oh, she knows about a lot more than that,” Asuka said, her tone evening out again. She then started the car up again and resumed their drive.

“You mean she’s okay?” Shinji questioned, feeling some weight leave his person.

“Where do you think we’re going? She’s been hiding out with me since,” Asuka replied. Noticing the wide smile he was wearing, she spoke up. “What’s with that grin?”

“I’m just so glad to hear you’re both alive,” Shinji said, wiping some tears from his eyes. “It was one of my main worries since I came to. And then finding the apartment like it was…”

“Heh,” Asuka said, feeling her usual mood return, “there’s no need to worry about the great Asuka Langley So-”

“No,” Shinji cut in. “I was deathly worried about both of you. I just didn‘t know if you were alive or not.”

Asuka could only look at her roommate, his concern for them surprising her. ‘Heaven forbid I’d ever tell him, though,’ she thought. “That’s really all I can tell you for now,” she began again, “you’ll get the full details when we get there.”

“Get where?” Shinji asked.

“Where Misato and I have been hiding since…then,” Asuka finished. The occupants of the car falling silent again, the redhead put her foot down on the gas, hoping to get there before night fell…

*****

A few hours of highway travel later, Asuka pulled the black car into an off-road path. A mile or two into the side road, they reached the side of a cliff. “Um…are we here?” Shinji asked, not seeing any way further.

“Yeah,” Asuka said, getting out of the car and walking up to the cliff. Removing a small card from her pocket, she swiped it through a small crack in the surface. Slowly, a fake section of the cliff moved to the left and provided barely enough room to move the car through. Getting back into the vehicle, the redhead noticed the boy’s odd expression. “Neat trick, huh?” she asked, a smirk on her face.

Shinji could only nod dumbly for a few seconds. As she pulled the car into the opening, he turned to Asuka. “How in the world did you find this place?” he questioned.

“Let’s just say an…old friend left it to Misato and I,” Asuka said, a hint of sadness in her voice.

The two teens stepped out of the car once Asuka had parked it and closed the false wall. Shinji took in the new scenery. The place seemed to be quite old, probably pre-Second Impact. The walls were a dull grey, with florescent lights recessed into the ceiling. It smelled of old machines and even older paint. “What is this place?” he asked.

“We figure it’s an old fallout shelter,” Asuka explained, walking ahead of him down one of the halls. “Dunno how long it’s been here, but it survived Second Impact…so I guess that’s good enough.” Finishing with a shrug, she led her fellow pilot into a small room.

As he looked about the room, Shinji noticed nothing strange about it. A neatly-made bed and a table were all it contained. One of the doors in the room led into a shower, something he didn‘t have in his old room. Looking into the small closet, he was met with the sight of what few possessions he owned. His clothes were hung up, his cello propped up neatly in a corner of the small space, and his S-DAT player was sitting on the single shelf inside. “So that’s where it all went,” he thought aloud.

“Yeah, Misato grabbed it all after…” Asuka trailed off, both remembering what she’d told him earlier. “Anyway, “ she said with a shake of her head, “I think she’d like to know you’re alright.” Nodding, Shinji followed her down the hall they had been standing in and into a larger room. In the center was a large table, easily big enough to be used for a dinner party. On one side were a few things, like a refrigerator and other basic kitchen appliances. On the other side of the room, however, he saw a line of large computers, not unlike some of the rooms at NERV headquarters. Nearby were several consoles and projection screens. ‘I guess this was the operations room,’ he thought idly.

Asuka crossed the large room and knocked on a door. “Misato,” she said quietly. “You awake yet?”

Opening the door slightly, the former major tried to put on her best I-didn’t-just-roll-out-of-bed face. “Oh good, you’re back,” she said with a smile and giving a heavy sigh. Looking behind the redhead, the older woman’s heart caught in her throat as her eyes locked at the room’s other occupant. Instantly snapping into the waking world, she walked past the girl and towards the boy. “Oh my God,“ she managed, staring with wet eyes at her other charge. Tackling him with a tight hug, she could only sob a word here and there.

Shinji, meanwhile, was a bit uncomfortable with the sudden attention. Misato had hugged him before, but never quite with this much force. The knot in his stomach, though, had since loosened at seeing her again. Getting one of his arms free, he returned the hug as best as he could. “I’m glad to see you too, Misato,” he finally spoke, small tears forming at the corners of his vision.

From across the room, Asuka looked at the scene with a mixture of annoyance and relief. Annoyance at Misato’s display, relief that her guardian was finally smiling again. The redhead was also relieved that Shinji was alright…but she squelched that thought down just as soon as it had come up.

Wiping her eyes and sniffling, Misato released him from the hug. “Sorry,” she weakly said, “I’m just so glad you’re alive…” Running a hand down his back, she felt the stitches of where his chip would be. “You removed it already?” she asked, turning in Asuka’s direction.

“No,” Asuka answered, shaking her head. “One of the shots hit him in it.”

Nodding, Misato stepped back from the boy and gave him her brightest smile. “Just good to know they don’t have you,” she said, trying to regain her composure. “You told him?” she asked the redhead.

“Not all of it,” Asuka said, taking a seat at the large table in the center of the room. “I left the biggest part for you.”

“Of course you did,” Misato said under her breath. Taking a seat herself, she motioned for the boy to sit as well. “I’d recommend it, this’ll take a while,” she told him. After Shinji seated himself across the table, she spoke up. “Okay, tell me everything that’s happened.”

Shinji took a deep breath and went back over the same story he’d told Asuka earlier, including the events in Tokyo-3. After he finished, the three sat in silence for a long while. “Now tell me what was left out,” he finally asked after some time.

Misato sighed. “First, let’s start at the beginning,” she began. “You remember the ‘truth’ about Second Impact that NERV told you?” Shinji nodded. “Well,” she continued, “that was just another lie. Truth is…the Committee discovered Adam and experimented with its form. That experiment failed…horribly. That’s what caused it.”

Shinji felt his hand begin its usual ritual of opening and closing. “So all this was SEELE’s fault…”

Nodding, Misato resumed her explanation. “Long story short, they established Project E and what was to become NERV to further the Human Instrumentality Project…”

“The what?” Shinji asked.

“Essentially,” Misato answered, “the main goal of SEELE and Commander Ikari. The process of all souls becoming one.” She leaned the chair back slightly, her face a mix of anger and fear. “Third Impact…”

Shinji’s eyes widened as much as they could. “Th-that’s insane,” he said, feeling his anger build. “Why would they do that?”

“To them, this world is stained with too much sin to continue,” Misato said. “Being one with God and all life seemed a better plan than living to them.”

The room fell silent again as Shinji took in what he had been told. “So…this is why I’m needed?”

Misato shook her head. “No…the Commander has something different in mind.” Seeing his curious look, she continued. “Something was taken from him a long time ago. And he’d reduce everything to nothing just to see her again.” She looked up at Shinji. “You know who I’m talking about, right?”

Shinji’s expression fell as he realized who. “Mother,” he whispered, barely audible. “So she was there all along…”

Misato blinked a few times, her surprise obvious. “Wait…you knew?”

Shinji shook his head slowly. “Not until I was absorbed into Unit-01. I saw her there,” he said, his head descending to rest on the table’s surface. “Goddamn you, father…you never told me.”

Misato placed a reassuring hand on his back. “I’m so sorry…” she said softly.

Asuka watched with a clear look of sadness on her face, the scene before her a mirror-image of when Misato had told her of Unit-02’s secret a couple of weeks before. ‘Mama…’ she thought, a small tear escaping her eye unnoticed.

Holding in his tears as best as he could, Shinji looked back up at Misato. “How did you learn all this?”

Misato’s expression hardened, a look of concentration on her face. “Some of it I found on my own,” she said, her gaze looking not at Shinji, but something past him.

“And some of it she had help with,” a man’s voice came from behind the Third Child. Shinji‘s expression went from sadness to shock, recognizing the voice instantly. He turned around quickly to catch sight of the familiar grin of Kaji Ryoji. “Long time no see, mister Ikari,” he told the boy, bowing slightly.

“Ah good, you’re up,” Asuka said with a smirk, not quite in her usual tone when seeing the man.

Misato said nothing, only giving her one-time lover a wide smile.

Shinji, on the other hand, was suddenly caught by a flood of images. A gun in his own hand…a fan…that grin on Kaji’s face…and the same pain he’d woken up to. Clutching at the sides of his head, the boy slumped out of the chair and onto the floor. Landing on his knees, he was unable to hold in tears of pain and sadness. “Oh God…” he spoke softly, “I remember…”

“Sorry, Shinji,” Misato said, crouching down and placing her arms around him. “It was the only way to jog your memory.”

Asuka sat quietly, watching the scene unfolding with an evident look of sadness on her features. She had agreed with them that this was the only way…but the look on his face still hurt her. She had gone thought that herself not too long ago.

Picking himself up from the floor, Shinji sat back in the chair he’d occupied just a few minutes ago. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, he looked back to Kaji, who was now seated at the table. “Then that means…”

“Yeah,” Kaji said sadly, “SEELE sent you to eliminate me.” Taking a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, he lit one of them and took a long drag before continuing. “What happened wasn’t too far from what happened when they sent Asuka after Katsuragi,” he explained, exhaling a cloud of smoke.

“I couldn’t do it. You were the closest I’d had to a father figure,” Shinji admitted.

“Heh, I‘ll take that as a compliment,” Kaji said. “Sorry for shooting you, by the way. And with your own gun.”

“No real harm done,” Shinji replied. “One of them hit my chip, actually.”

“No shit?” Kaji asked. “Well, that’s something…” His expression returned to serious. “No really, I’m very sorry. I was hoping you were alright, but at the same time I thought…if you were gone, both the Committee and the Commander’s plans would be undone.” Looking at the boy, he continued. “Just made a snap decision. Never been this glad to be wrong.”

Shinji felt no anger at the thought that Kaji had tried to kill him. It made sense, after all. Without him, Unit-01 couldn’t work for anyone. “How did I end up at sea, then?” he asked the older man.

“Simple enough,” Kaji answered. “The docks were near where you found me. I just dumped you there. Like I said, I hoped someone would find you soon…”

As the room fell silent again, a beeping from one of the consoles caught Shinji’s attention. “What is that?” he asked, walking over to it.

“Perimeter alert,” Asuka replied. “Someone’s outside.”

Looking at the screen, Shinji caught a glimpse of a familiar school uniform and distinct hair color. “Ayanami…” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He then looked to Kaji. “Got a gun I could borrow?” he asked in a cold tone.

“Uh…sure,” Kaji replied with a look of confusion. ”But why?” he questioned, handing the boy his handgun.

“Got something to take care of,” Shinji said in the same icy voice.

As he walked towards the exit, Misato called out to him. “Where the hell are you going?” He ignored her, his pace quickening. The older woman looked puzzled for a moment before she put the pieces together. “Asuka, you didn’t tell him yet?” she asked in a panic.

Asuka considered her question for a second before her eyes went wide. “Shit!” she yelled, running after the Third Child, hoping she could avert what might happen.

*****

Shinji opened the false wall to come face-to-face with the First Child. Who, not twelve hours before, had tried her damnedest to bring him back to NERV. “Ayanami…” he said, his voice an odd reflection of his father’s.

“Ikari,” Rei said, her familiar calm expression in place.

His hand shaking slightly, Shinji raised the gun at her. “Just turn around now and you’ll live.”

“I do not understand,” Rei stated.

Grabbing the First Child around the collar and pinning her against the wall, Shinji put the barrel of the gun under her chin. “I will not go back there,” he said, the calmness in his voice disturbing him. “You will leave now and tell the Commander you found nothing.”

Rei’s impassive face remained. “I do not think that is-”

“Shut up!” Shinji shouted. “You tried to kill Asuka and nearly killed me. I’ve turned my back on that machine,” he said, referring to Unit-01. He took the safety off the weapon. “Now go. Or I will kill you.”

A hint of fear flashed in Rei’s eyes. “I would not do that,” she said, no waver in her tone.

“And why the hell not?” Shinji asked loudly.

“Because she’s not the enemy…” Asuka’s voice came from his side. Misato and Kaji were right behind her, a long look on both of their faces.

“Wh…what are you talking about?“ Shinji yelled. “Back in Misato’s apartment…”

“…was a ruse,” Asuka said in a small voice. “Meet our inside source.”

Shinji suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He took the gun down from the pale girl’s head and put the safety back on. Dropping the weapon with a loud clatter, he dropped to his knees. “Oh God…Rei, I almost…” he said, crying again. “I’m…s-sorry…” he got out between sobs.

Rei was unsure of how to react to this, only holding out a hand to help him up. “No. I am sorry for any misunderstanding,” she told Shinji.

Wiping his eyes with one hand, Shinji took the girl’s hand and stood again. “It’s…alright,” he said, the tight knot in his gut slowly easing. “That still hurt earlier, though.”

“Hey, had to make it look good to anybody who’d have seen,” Asuka said in a calm voice. Walking over to the First Child, she readied her words carefully. “First,” she started. “Good to know you haven’t gotten yourself killed.”

Rei nodded. “And to you as well, Sohryu.” Walking past the others, she entered the bunker with the other women following after a moment.

Shinji could only stare at what had just happened. ‘Did…did they just have a non-hostile talk?’ he asked in his mind, the very idea surreal after having watched what few times they had talked before.

Kaji picked up the gun he’d handed to Shinji. Noticing the boy’s strange look, he spoke up. “Hmm? Something bothering you?”

Shaking his head, Shinji could only give out a weak laugh. “I swear, I could live to be a hundred,” he started, walking back towards the hall, “and I’ll never understand women.”

As the boy vanished from sight, Kaji smiled at his words. “Yeah…you and me both,” he said to himself, closing the false wall.

*****

The five of them having taken seats around the table, the conversation resumed. “Well then,” Misato said, “where to start…”

“I’ve got a question first,” Shinji spoke up, turning towards Rei. “Why’d you go against the Commander?”

A silence hung around the room before Rei began. “I was created for a purpose,” she explained. “I am just as important to his scenario as you and Unit-01 are. But…I have been given a different purpose as of late. And I do not wish to follow along with it anymore”

“And what’s that?” Shinji asked.

Rei averted her gaze. “I…helped him eliminate SEELE.”

Shinji’s eyes went wide. “W…what?”

Taking a deep breath, Rei explained. “With your absence, the Commander was forced to accelerate his timetable. You see, the Committee had no need of you. Only Unit-01. To that end, he sent me to eliminate three of their members.”

Shinji sat quietly, hanging on every word.

“My mission each time was simple,” Rei continued. “Locate the target, learn his patterns, and dispatch them in a way that could not be traced back easily. I followed those orders to the letter.”

“And like all men in power,” Kaji cut in, “they began eyeing each other suspiciously. Even with their higher purpose, they still behaved like all politicians and dictators do.”

“Indeed,” Rei said. “The remaining members began to secretly send their own agent against others within. It took less than four weeks for twelve to become one. The last one left was Chairman Kiel, head of SEELE. Commander Ikari sent me after him last, telling me to make certain he knew it was me before finishing it.” She fell silent after that, letting it hang for a few minutes.

“You mentioned an agent of theirs,” Shinji interjected.

Rei nodded. “Yes. The Fifth Child, Kaworu Nagisa.”

Standing and walking over to one of the consoles, Rei picked up a folder and placed it in front of Shinji. Opening it, he found several grainy pictures showing a grey-haired young man with ruby eyes. “He…he looks like you,” he said to the First Child.

“We’re still not sure about that,” Misato spoke up. “Not even the computers at NERV have anything on him. And I mean nothing. So it‘s a possibility he‘s their version of Rei.”

Rei walked back over to the console and gathered a couple of folders before sitting back down. “And with the Committee gone, the Fifth became the Commander’s personal protection. I believe it is because he still does not fully trust Nagisa, and intends to watch his actions.” Opening one of the folders, she slid it in front of Shinji. “And this also placed construction of the Mass Production EVAs in permanent stasis.”

Shinji looked at the contents of the folder, mostly technical specs and pictures of assembly plants. “Mass Production?” he asked.

“EVA Units-05 though 13,” Rei said. “The Committee intended to finish them and send them to retrieve Unit-01 to begin Instrumentality. The Commander has no need of them, so he simply halted their progress.”

“And just what would he need?” Shinji questioned, his expression stone-like.

“Myself,” Rei explained, “Unit-01, you, Lilith, and Adam.”

The last name made Shinji feel like he’d been slugged. “Adam? The same that caused Second Impact?” Nodding, Rei moved the last folder in front of him. Opening it, he saw a picture of a giant white shape affixed to a cross and another showing an embryonic creature. “What…are these?”

“This,” Rei said, pointing to the white shape, “is Lilith, the 2nd Angel. The Committee has kept it beneath headquarters long since before NERV existed. And the other is Adam in its post-Second Impact state.”

“Why would they keep them there?” Shinji asked.

“I am unsure of why the location,” Rei answered. “But Lilith was kept to be used in their ceremony after the Angels were finished. But that is not the case without the Lance of Longinus…”

“So that’s why they needed Unit-01?” Shinji asked, remembering the weapon used against the 15th Angel.

“Yes,” Rei said, gathering the folders. “But the Commander’s plans do not require it. His was the only one that required Adam, though.”

“And where is it?” Shinji questioned.

“Commander Ikari implanted it into his right palm as a means of controlling his version of Instrumentality,” Rei explained. “I have heard the Commander say that there is still one Angel left, but I do not know its whereabouts.”

“So I’ll still have to use Unit-01 even if Father’s stopped…” Shinji said under his breath. The room fell silent again, this time for quite a while.

“That is everything important,” Rei said, “but there is one last thing you should know.”

“What is it?” Shinji asked, his head already spinning with the information he’d been given.

“You are aware of why he is doing this?” Rei asked.

Shinji nodded. “He…wants to be with mother.”

“Yes,” Rei said. “To that end, he kept a reminder of his purpose.” Turning to look at Shinji, she continued. “When I was created, I was given Yui Ikari’s features…”

Shinji’s eyes went wide and he began to tear up. “I knew there was this…familiar feeling around you,” he said, the shock on his face becoming a small smile, “but I had no idea…”

Rei stood from her seat, walking to the door. “I am afraid I must return. I have been here longer than necessary.”

“Rei, wait a minute,” Shinji said, wiping his eyes. Standing and walking towards her, he put his arms around the girl. “Thank you,” he said, “I needed to hear that. All of it.”

“You are welcome,” Rei said with the faintest hint of a smile. “I will keep in contact,” she said to Misato as the boy released her. The older woman nodded back, her expression business-like.

As Rei resumed her trip out, Shinji called to her. “Hey.” As she turned around, he gave her a serious look. “Take care of yourself…and watch your back.”

Nodding, Rei made her way back to the false wall and out of the bunker. The trip back into the city would take a while.

Back inside, Shinji sat down at the table once again and hung his head. “That about answer everything?” Kaji asked him.

“Yeah…” Shinji said, a look of relief on his face.

Asuka had watched the scene unfold before her with some unease. None of the information had been new to her, save the fact that the First had been modeled after Shinji’s mother. But it was just something about it all that made her feel…empty. And it wasn’t the first time lately she’s felt it…

*****

A few hours later, Shinji had managed to eat and get a shower, a couple of things he hadn’t had the luxury of in nearly two days. Feeling the water run over him, he went over the explanations he’d been handed again and again in his mind. He knew what he had to do, the only real question being was he ready or not. Sighing heavily, he turned the water off and grabbed a towel.

After drying and dressing in a pair of dark-blue short and a medium-blue shirt, he exited the shower to find Misato in the room he was using. “Hi Misato,” he said.

Misato was seated at the foot of his bed, her face carrying a worried smile. “Hey,” she said. “How’re you feeling?”

“Better now,” Shinji answered, laying out on the bed. “A meal and a shower helped. Cleanses the soul as well as the body, remember?”

Misato continued to smile at her own words coming from him. “Sorry to just lay it all on you like that,” she said.

Shaking his head, Shinji sat up. “No, it’s okay,” he told her. “I did need to know. I just wish I knew what to do now…”

“For now,” Misato said, standing from his bed, “we continue to hide here and listen out for anything. We’ve got a lot of bugs planted around headquarters. We‘ll know what they know.” Opening the door, she turned back to him. “Just try to relax for now. You’ve earned some rest, after all.” And with that, she walked out of the room.

Shinji smiled to himself, despite his internal confusion. Just being around them again made the last several days worth the trouble. But the bigger things at hand still persisted in his mind. Trying to shake the thoughts loose, he walked over to the wall and turned the lights off, picking up his S-DAT player on the way back. Putting the earbuds in, he hoped the device would help to ease his mind for a while.

Lying back on the bed, Shinji pressed play and waited for sleep to come…

*****

In the room she’d chosen, Asuka sat on her bed. Unable to sleep, she had paced about the area for a while before looking for something to take her mind off the last two days. Shinji’s reemergence into her life had brought back the confusing mix of emotions concerning the Third Child. After all she’d learned about NERV and SEELE, she felt some regret at her treatment of the boy. Not that she would be telling anyone that, not even out loud to herself.

Looking about the room, the Second Child took in the amount of workout equipment it contained. The room must’ve been the gym at one point, she figured. Asuka had taken it because it was the largest, so of course she wanted it. And working out here had kept her mind off the many things that should’ve been occupying her thoughts. But with him there…

Shaking her head, Asuka began punching the large bag hanging in the center of the room. And while doing so, her thoughts wandered to her fellow NERV deserters. She’d made a small measure of peace with the First, and seeing Kaji again had made her feel somewhat better…especially considering what she’d almost done to Misato.

Giving the bag a hard kick, Asuka was beginning to become frustrated. This usually worked well enough to get the thoughts out-of-mind…so why not tonight? “Of course, it’s obvious why. He’s here,” the redhead said in the dim light of the room.

Then Asuka began to feel some of her old self come back. A smirk crossed her face as she figured out a new ‘test’ for the Third Child. Most definitely not like the last one she’d tried, anyway…

*****

Shinji had put away his S-DAT player and was just about to doze off when a small knock came from the door to the hall. Standing from the bed, he walked over and opened it. As he did, his vision was filled with a redheaded form. “Oh, hi Asuka,” he said with a smile. “Did you want something?”

Asuka stood at his door, dressed in a black workout top and red sweatpants. “Yeah, come with me for a bit,” she said, motioning for him to follow.

Shinji stood in place for a few seconds, his eyes blinking repeatedly. ‘Now what in the world would she want?’ he thought. “Uh…sure,” he said, following her down the hall and into another room. This one contained several pieces of workout equipment and a bed. “This is your room?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Asuka said in a haughty tone, “I figured it would keep me busy. And a girl like me needs the most room…”

“Uh-huh,” Shinji said, tuning her out.

“Hey! Listen when someone’s talking to you!” Asuka said with a hint of annoyance. “There’s something I’d like your help with.”

Shinji blinked a few times. He had rarely ever known Asuka to need help with anything. “Sure, whatever you want.”

“Alright then,” Asuka said, placing her hands on her hips and spreading her feet. “I’d like you to fight me.”

Shinji’s expression dropped sharply at the words. “W-what?”

“I didn’t stutter, dammit!” Asuka shouted. “Come on, I’d like to see how good you are with those…skills.”

“Y…you’re serious?” Shinji asked, almost wanting to pinch himself to see if he was dreaming.

“You’re goddamn right I am!” Asuka said proudly. “Besides, I’ve got some anger to work off…”

Regaining his composure, Shinji shook his head. “That’s just crazy. I don‘t want either of us to get hurt.”

“Oh, you don’t get to back out of this,” Asuka said, putting her left foot down hard. “It’s just a sparring match. No need to take any of it seriously.”

“What about Misato or Kaji?” Shinji asked. “Won’t they hear?”

“Not a chance,” Asuka said, knocking on one of the walls. “This room is soundproof when closed up.”

Shinji didn’t really want any part of this, but he couldn’t find a way out of it. And he did have to admit, he needed to get in some practice with his new hand-to-hand skills. “Okay, fine,” he said with a sigh. “Just this once.”

Asuka’s expression hardened at those words. Getting into a stance, she motioned to Shinji. “Alright, stand a little closer,” she said.

Shinji walked over until he was only a couple of feet from her. Readying himself into a similar stance, he spoke up. “Ready when you are.”

Asuka smiled internally to herself. ‘Good to see him get into this,’ she thought. Stepping forward, her first move was a straight left punch…which Shinji easily sidestepped. But he was caught by the same hand being swung backwards after. The redhead then went to work with her feet, trying to land a kick on the Third Child.

Shinji backpedaled quickly, blocking her lithe legs and looking for an opening. Seeing an opportunity, he quickly dropped and grabbed the leg she was balancing with. The Second Child landed with a thud, but quickly sprang to her feet from her palms.

“Good move,” Asuka complimented. “But I’m not even warmed up.” Rushing at him, she gave a sharp blow to his chest and grabbed his left arm. Using her momentum, she almost threw him across the room.

Shinji grunted in pain, but rose to his feet again. Unfortunately, just in time to see Asuka jump at him and wrap her legs around his neck. Landing with her hands on the floor, the redhead pulled him back to the ground. Getting herself upright again, she looked down at the boy, a feeling of superiority nearly giving her a high. “Get up,” she spoke in a ragged voice. “Not even at half-way yet.”

Shinji took his time rising, his neck sore and ribs aching. ‘She’s really serious…’ he told himself. Deciding to go on the offensive, he closed the distance and grappled with her for a few seconds before getting a grip on her arm. Using his leg, he swept the girl’s legs out from under her and pinned her to the floor. “Ha…” he said, trying to catch his breath. “I win.”

Asuka said nothing, only smiling a dark grin at Shinji. Her arms quickly wrapped around his neck and she hefted his weight over her, the boy landing on his back with a hard smack. Before he could get up, the redhead grabbed him by the collar and dragged him to his feet. Once there, she gave him several hard blows to the sides, finishing with a straight-up kick to the jaw.

Shinji landed on his butt again, now in serious pain. At first, this had seemed like training. Now she seemed to be out for blood, his this time. “Okay…that’s…enough,” he said between breaths.

“No! Get on your feet and back into the fight, you pussy!” Asuka roared. To make her point, she put a hard foot into his left knee. “Don’t make me kill you…” she threatened in a low growl.

Shinji pulled his leg out from under her foot and stood up. As Asuka came at him again, he decided this had gone far enough. Blocking her next punch, he took the girl’s slender wrists into his grip and pinned her to a wall. Placing a foot over both of hers, he spoke again. “Asuka!” he yelled. “Enough!”

Try as she might, Asuka was held fast by his hands and foot. “Get off me now!” she spat, wriggling to free herself.

“No,” Shinji said, his voice calm now.

The look on his face stopped any more of Asuka’s attempts to free herself. Here was that hidden strength she’d seen before, all because of her this time. Relaxing in his grip, she panted heavily and felt the sweat almost pour off her skin.

Shinji wasn’t much better, nearly everywhere on his body in pain, his breathing ragged and drenched in sweat. But he still kept his eyes on her, watching to see if she would resume her attack. When it was clear she was done, he released her wrists and feet. But he didn’t step back.

Right then, both teens looked each other in the face, the same mixture of emotions in one evident to the other.

Pain. Hate. Fear. Loss. Sadness. Determination. Confusion.

Hurt…seeking comfort.

Slowly, both the Second and Third Children inched themselves closer to the other.

Heaven help them for whatever was to happen.

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Well, that’s roughly sixty to sixty-five percent down, only another large chapter and a medium epilogue to go. A lot happened in this part, yes indeed. And, of course, my other main theme just came up. Like I could write something without it…

Oh, and that ending? I know…I’m terrible and a cheap tease.

And it’s not the first time, you’ll recall.

You’re welcome. ^_^

*****Omake time!*****

The camera pans into the author’s room. At the computer isn’t him, but Mitsumi. Wearing a tiny pair of headphones and looking over the first two chapters of this work-in-progress.

Mitsumi: Hey, this ain’t half bad. Different from the rest, too…

As she read down to the end of this part, a slight blush came to her as she realized where it was headed.

Mitsumi: (shouting and removing her headphones) BAKA! I THOUGHT I MADE IT CLEAR!

Bard: (poking his head into the room) Ah…get to that point, did you?

Mitsumi said nothing, only fuming and staring daggers in his direction.

Bard: (sweating) Oh come on…trust me on this. (holding up a piece of paper) Here’s the overview for the next part, you can take a look yourself.

Grabbing the paper from him, Mitsumi looks it over carefully.

Mitsumi: (sighing) Okay…fine. As long as it’s for the story…

Bard: It’s ALWAYS about the story, you know that. You know I don’t write smut…

Mitsumi: (blushing at that last word) And you’d best not… (opens her tiny purse and pulls out a VERY large warhammer) …or else you’ll get the business end of this. Are we clear?

Bard: (nervous) Crystal.

Mitsumi: (smirking) Good. Now I think I’ll go practice a little.

Placing the hammer back into its compartment, Mitsumi floats out of the room and into hers.

Sighing, the author plops down in his computer chair.

Bard: (whispering to the camera) Now if any of YOU would like to fill in the above or that “missing piece” of TLaWR, I won’t stop you. But let’s just keep it quiet, okay?

As the camera pans away, we hear the chords to “Vision Thing” start up.

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:42 am

Arc one, chapter three.

The Ikari Identity ch3  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI IDENTITY

Chapter 3: Uprising

*****

Asuka slowly awoke into the darkness of her temporary room. As the grogginess left her, she noticed a couple of odd things. One, she was head-to-toe sore. The other was that she was lying on something warm. Running a hand over the surface, she could swear it felt like…skin.

A groan nearby caused her eyes to snap open. Asuka suddenly realized the object had been someone else. Then she remembered the night before. ‘Oh no,’ she thought.

Fumbling for the light switch on the wall near the bed, Asuka flipped it. As the florescent lights flickered, she was met by the sight of Shinji, lying in her bed and rubbing his eyes. He had several bruises she could see on his shirtless torso, evidence of the training last night that had become a real fight. Both looked at each other, their expressions ones of slight shock. “Uh…Asuka…” he started, his face as red as her hair.

Asuka slowly rose from the bed and sat up, hanging her legs over the side. Her heart pounding, she spoke up. “D-did we…” she tried to ask, unable to free the words.

“Y-yeah,” Shinji managed to answer, his throat tight.

“Oh God,” Asuka repeated several times, her head in her hands.

Shinji sat up, his shock becoming sadness. “I’m sorry…” he said, curling himself up and holding his arms around his legs. “I’ll go.”

Asuka looked back at him, trying to hold in a few tears. “No,” she said, “you aren’t the only one to blame for…this.”

“What?” Shinji asked, turning his head towards her.

“I mean…” Asuka looked for the right words, shaking her head. “It wasn’t like you took advantage of me, we were both willing.” She dropped her gaze, staring at the floor. “I shouldn’t have even gone to your roo-”

She was cut off as Shinji placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Asuka…” he started, “I want you to know something.” As she looked up at him, he continued. “I don't regret it at all.”

Asuka cast her sight downward again. “Of course you don’t,” she said in a quiet voice. “You’re male, you got laid-”

“No, that’s not it at all,” Shinji interrupted, his tone serious. “I don’t regret it because…it was you.”

Asuka felt a knot in her stomach form, but she stayed quiet and turned away from him.

“I was always interested in you…I just never found the words,” Shinji said, edging over to her and placing his arms around her neck, leaning against her. “But last night was something special. Something I‘ll never forget. But the main reason I couldn't possibly regret this is because…” He leaned in and whispered the rest in her ear, just barely audible to her.

Asuka felt tears run down her cheek, but she made no effort to stop them. “Idiot…” she said, “you can’t take back saying things like that.”

“I don’t want to,” Shinji replied, leaning his head against the side of her neck. “But…we were kinda reckless. I don’t think either of us could help it, though.”

“I know,” Asuka said. “With all that’s happened lately, and the both of us high on adrenaline and looking for an outlet…”

A long silence settled in the room. “So…what now?” Shinji asked.

“I…I don’t know yet,” Asuka answered. “It’s just all so…sideways. I mean, it’s not like I hate you or anything…ah damn it to hell, I’m confused!” she said, sighing heavily.

As Shinji was about to open his mouth, the sound of the door opening brought their attention to it. “Come on Asuka,“ Misato’s voice came, “you can’t just sleep all da-” Her words left her as she saw the two of them. Blinking a few times, she slowly exited the room, closing the door.

Asuka and Shinji sat in the awkward silence for a moment. “You…think she knew?” the redhead asked.

“I don’t see how she couldn’t,” Shinji answered while moving back to the spot he‘d been in, his face beet-red, “you’re…um, still naked.”

Asuka suddenly realized this fact, yelping and wrapping the sheet around her body. “And why the hell didn’t you tell me earlier?” she asked, annoyance and anger in her tone.

Shinji didn’t reply, looking away from her. “I should go now,” he said after a minute of silence. Pulling his shorts and shirt back on, he rose from the bed.

As he was about to step towards the door, Shinji felt Asuka grab his wrist. “Hey, wait a sec,” she said, making him turn back to look at her. “I…don’t regret it either,” she said with a small smile. She seemed like she wanted to add something else, but the words seemed to not be able to flow, before she turned away and added, blushing, "I..."

Shinji returned the smile as best as he could. “It’s alright, you don‘t have to say anything,” he said, face flushed again.

“I think I just need some time to figure this out, okay?” Asuka asked, shaking her head. “It’s just…confusing.”

Shinji continued to smile at her, taking his hand from her wrist and giving her own hand a small squeeze. “Take as long as you need,” he said, releasing her hand.

As he stepped out of the room, Asuka felt the tears resume again. ‘All I wanted,’ she thought, ‘was for him to hold me and not leave me alone. And then he goes and says something like that…’ Shaking her head, the Second Child stood from the bed and headed for her shower…

*****

Out in the hallway, Shinji was returning to his room when he caught sight of Misato waiting near his door. “Um…hi,” he managed weakly.

Misato turned her head towards him, her face serious. “Okay, I don’t think I have to,” she began, “but I’m going to ask anyway: was that what it looked like?”

Swallowing hard, Shinji prepared himself. “Yes,” he answered.

Misato looked at the floor. “What the hell were you two thinking?” she asked.

Shinji shifted his weight between feet, feeling very nervous. “I know, but I never intended for any of it,” he started, “it just started as a practice fight, and then…I don’t know. That‘s just what happened.”

“You’re both going to make me old before my time,” Misato said, trying to smile a little.

“I know, I’m really sorry…” Shinji said. “I’m willing to take responsibility, if that’s what you want me to say.”

“I know you are,” Misato said, leaning against the wall. “Just as long as you’re willing to admit it.”

As Shinji walked into the room, Misato spoke up. “And I can’t really judge you fairly as children. You’ve both been through more than almost anyone, let alone any adult. I‘m sorry I couldn‘t stop them from taking that away…” Standing from the wall, she walked towards her own room. The Third Child stripped and stepped into the shower, turning the water on and feeling it run over him. The previous night had opened his eyes to a lot…and not just about Asuka. He had laid in the dark after she fell asleep, thinking about his father’s plans and his place in them. He knew what he had to do now…he just needed the right approach.

*****

Having dried and dressed himself, Shinji left the room and walked into the large center room to see the other three sitting about the large table. “Morning,” he offered. Asuka gave him a weak smile, which he returned. Turning to Kaji, he continued. “Hey Kaji?” he asked with a serious face.

“Hmm?” Kaji said. “Something you need?”

Sitting down to the table, Shinji took a long breath before answering. “I think…I’m ready to finish this. It‘s time.”

Kaji’s smile gave way to his own serious look. “You sure about that?” he asked. “This is going to get pretty hairy from here on out…”

Shinji nodded, his own expression unwavering. “I understand. But…the Commander needs to be stopped. No matter what.”

Misato gave the boy her best smile. “I’m proud of you, Shinji,” she said. “But this is some deep water we’re treading.”

“I know,” Shinji told her, “But I meant that…no matter what.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Kaji said. “We’ve had the beginnings of an operation for a week now. But then we heard from Rei that you’d been spotted, so…”

“…so you’ve been waiting for me, then,” Shinji finished.

“Yes,” Kaji replied. Standing and walking over to one of the consoles, he inputted several sets of keystrokes. As he punched in the last few, the large table lit up with a diagram of NERV headquarters. “Okay, this is what we’ve got so far,” he began. “We’ll have to get back into the city, for one. Then the best way down into the Geofront would be this one,” he said, punching in a few keys to pull up the elevator that was nearest to headquarters. “After that, it’ll have to be kept as quiet as possible. Or we‘ll be swarmed by whatever security is left…”

“What do you mean?” Shinji asked.

“NERV’s mostly down to a skeleton crew now,” Misato explained. “With the Committee gone, the Commander doesn’t need more than what’s needed to protect the main areas of headquarters and run maintenance. Security’s only about twenty or thirty, and only the main bridge crew and what’s needed to maintain Unit-01 remain. Section Two would be a worry, but they‘re currently stretched thin throughout Tokyo-2 and Tokyo-3 looking for you.”

“That’s one small mercy for us,” Kaji mused. “But, of course, there’s still the Fifth…”

“Yeah, him,” Shinji said. “He’ll be protecting father.”

“And as far as we know,” Kaji said, pointing to Shinji and Asuka, “he’s trained the same as either of you.”

“He’ll be a hell of a challenge,” Asuka spoke up.

“Well, there’s always Rei, in case things go south,” Misato said.

“What about surveillance?” Shinji asked. “I mean…they’ll have to see us coming.”

“That’s actually the easy part,” Misato replied. “Ritsuko’s taking care of that. She‘s got a little something in the MAGI‘s programming that‘ll knock out any bit of video around Tokyo-3.”

“Doctor Akagi is in on this?” Shinji questioned.

“Of course,” Kaji said, “she’d like to see him burn just the same as us. She did destroy the Dummy Cores, right?”

“I guess,” Shinji said, “I just don’t understand why the Commander’s still keeping her there after that…”

“You know why,” Misato said. “The Commander still needs her to finish his plan.”

“And as long as she‘s willing to go along, he won’t dispose of her,” Kaji said. “And we’ll still need to get her out of there, too.”

“Huh? I don’t understand,” Shinji said.

“Regardless of whatever secrets between us,” Misato began, leaning back in her seat and looking sad, “she’s still an old friend to me and Kaji. We can‘t leave her to that fate.”

Shinji remembered when he’d nearly said those same words to Asuka in the apartment days ago. “I see,” he replied. “But what about the last Angel?”

The table fell silent at that. No one really had a clue when it would show. “I guess…the only thing we can do is stop the Commander’s plan and then take back control of NERV,” Misato finally said. “Then after it shows up, we can take care of it and then we’ll just wash our hands of it all.”

Shinji nodded. “I only have one thing to ask of you all, though…”

“What’s that?” Kaji asked.

“When we get back inside headquarters,” Shinji began in a cold tone, “I’ll be the one to take care of the Commander. I want none of you involved.”

“You need revenge that badly?” Asuka questioned.

“Not revenge,” Shinji replied, shaking his head, “closure. It has to be done.” He had already made peace with that fact since the other night. But it still had not settled in his mind well. ‘I can’t stop hating him for any of it,’ he mentally noted.

“I understand, Shinji,” Kaji said, walking over and placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I just hope you do.” Turning towards Misato, he spoke again. “Gather what we need, it’s going to be a long night.”

Nodding, Misato unseated herself and headed for the hall near her room. Asuka followed her after a second, stopping to give Shinji a ready-but-weary look. He smiled to her as best as he could given the room’s atmosphere. Turning towards Kaji, he nodded. “What do you need?”

“Follow me for a minute,” Kaji said, “gotta gather some gear for one last mission…”

*****

Several hours later, the four of them were piled into Misato’s car and heading back towards Tokyo-3. Kaji, Misato and Asuka had opted to wear black fatigues, while Shinji remained in his old school uniform.

“Why wear it?” Asuka had asked him.

“So I’ll stand out,” Shinji had answered. “That way, there’ll be no doubt it’s me.”

Now the two sat quietly in the back seat of the car, mentally preparing themselves for what was to happen. There would have to be blood and death. How could they avoid it this time? It was kill-or-be-killed. No mercy would be shown, so no quarter would be given.

Asuka was snapped out of her reverie by a warmth on her hand. Looking over, she saw Shinji’s hand on hers and a smile on his face. “We’ll be just fine, right?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah…” Asuka replied with a whisper, squeezing his hand a little. She wasn’t really convinced, but his faith in them did help her a bit.

After making it to the edge of town, Misato pulled the car into the forest to hide it. From here, they were going on foot. “Everybody put these in,” she said, giving the others earpieces. “Two-way mic, just press the button on it to talk.”

Placing the item in his ear, Shinji opened up the trunk to find what they’d gathered at the bunker’s armory. Taking a submachine gun and a handgun, he slung the larger weapon around his shoulder and put a couple of clips for the smaller one in his pockets. Handing out the same to the others, he walked over to where Kaji was standing. “Okay, now what?” he asked quietly.

Nodding, Kaji pressed the button on the earpiece. “You there, Rits?”

*****

Deep inside of NERV headquarters, Ritsuko Akagi sat in her office. She heard the voice coming from her own earpiece. “Ready when you are,” she whispered. After his reply, she pulled the chair over to the computer. Removing a disk from a drawer, she placed it into the machine an entered a set of keystrokes. “Let’s put the blinders on,” she thought aloud, making the final presses. As the machine executed its command, she walked out of the office and back to the bridge, awaiting whatever they had planned…

*****

Inside of his office, Commander Ikari took a call. “I see…” he said into the phone. “No, there is no concern…continue watch.” Placing the device back in its place, he turned to the others in the room. “It seems video is down around headquarters,” he said. “Technical error.”

“It is him,” Kaworu Nagisa said.

“Of course,” Gendo replied. “I knew he would be back.”

“Should I go?” Rei asked.

“No,” Gendo answered. “I’ll need you nearby if we are to start it.”

“Then it is time?” Rei asked.

“Soon, it seems,” Gendo replied. Turning towards Kaworu, he spoke. “Find and stop him. But do not kill him.”

“I shall stop just short, then,” Kaworu said, turning and leaving the room.

As the Fifth Child went out of earshot, Rei spoke up. “You do not trust him.”

“He worked for the Committee,” Gendo said. “I have all the reason I need to watch him closely.“ He turned his chair around to look out the window. “Follow him, Rei. Eliminate him if he deviates even slightly,” he ordered.

“Yes sir,” Rei said with a bow before exiting the office herself.

The Commander could only smile as the pieces began to come together for his scenario…

*****

The four intruders exited into the Geofront, the elevator trip long and silent. Stepping out into the underground area, they made a beeline for the entrance to the NERV pyramid. After some time, they made it into the hallways inside. But there, they began to find security officers dead, their necks snapped by great force.

“There’s someone else besides us here…” Misato said, her eyes darting between hallways. “Everyone watch your backs.”

“You think it was Rei?” Shinji asked.

“Not sure…” Kaji said, looking at the injuries. “This wasn’t quick and clean, whoever did this wanted pain.”

“Okay, bridge is this way. That’s where they’ll be waiting,” Misato said, motioning down one of the halls.

Readying their weapons, they began to head down that way…until Asuka noticed Shinji had stopped in his tracks. “What are you waiting for?” she asked.

Shaking his head, Shinji looked back at the three of them. “No, I’m going the other way.”

Asuka shot him a puzzled look. “But that way goes to the cages. Why-”

“That’s where he’ll be,” Shinji said in a quiet voice. “I just know it.”

Misato looked on with a pained expression. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Shinji said. “You guys go ahead and get to the others. You know what I’ve got to take care of…”

“Sometimes, a man’s gotta bury his own demons,” Kaji said to Misato.

Asuka turned to Misato and Kaji. “You guys go ahead, I’ll catch up.” Nodding, the two of them continued down the hall. The redhead then turned back towards the boy. Hanging her head to hide her face, she quickly grabbed Shinji by the collar and pinned him against the nearby wall.

“What the hell?” Shinji said with a start.

Asuka looked up at him with eyes full of anger and worry. “You listen to me and you listen good,” she said, her voice cracking. “You’d better make it back, alive and in one piece, or I swear…I’ll hunt you down and kill you myself!”

Shinji smiled, pulling the girl into a tight hug. “I promise…” Releasing her, he quickly pressed his lips to hers and held them there for a few seconds. “For luck, okay?” he said, the faintest hint of tears in his eyes.

Asuka nodded, holding in her own tears. “Sure thing,” she replied, running silently down the hall to catch up to Misato and Kaji.

Taking a long and deep breath, Shinji began his leisurely walk down another hall, the gun in his hand darting around the corridor. “Come on, father,” he said to himself, “let‘s finish this.”

*****

The other three had crept down several similar hallways, finding more dead security officers and noticing the lack of any noise or activity. Opening the door to the bridge, they were met by the sight of Ritsuko Akagi and the rest of the bridge crew. “Good, you’ve made it,” she said.

“You alright?” Misato asked her old friend.

“About as good as you’d expect,” Ritsuko replied. “Why? What’s happened?”

“Somebody’s already here,” Kaji answered. “All the way from the entrance, we’ve been finding dead security.”

Ritsuko’s expression hardened slightly. Walking over to one of the consoles, she typed away madly. On the screen, a video feed from one of the deeper parts of NERV was shown. “Bypassing my program a little to see what’s happening,” she explained.

The video feed showed a view of two security officers keeping watch over the area near Unit-01’s cage. From down the hall, Kaworu approached. As he neared the men, he quickly took hold of one man’s neck and snapped it.

“The Commander was right not to trust him,” Ritsuko mused.

Misato, Kaji, and Asuka just watched the scene unfold further. As the other man reacted, he fired on the Fifth Child. But the bullets were stopped by a familiar shape forming around him. “Oh my God…that’s an AT field!” Misato shouted.

Ritsuko watched the footage with a horrified look. “No wonder the Committee placed him here…” she said. “Taking security offline did the same to the Angel alarm.”

Asuka watched the footage again, her face a mask of terror. “Shinji…” she whispered.

“Well at least we know where the last one is now,” Misato said, turning towards the crew. “How soon can Unit-01 be prepped?”

“It’s been locked down in Bakelite,” Makoto said. “We can still get things started, though.”

“Shit!” Misato fumed. Pressing the earpiece, she hoped she could get ahold of Shinji before it was too late…

*****

Shinji had traveled down the myriad of hallways within headquarters, searching for his targets. As he neared the cage leading to Unit-02, Misato’s voice came from his earpiece. “Shinji, come in!”

“What is it?” Shinji answered, opening another door and finding another dead guard on the other side.

“We’ve just hit a bit of a serious problem,” Misato said. “The Fifth…he’s the final Angel!”

Shinji’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”

“Ritsuko hacked into the video feed and found him,” Misato explained. “He’s the one who’s been killing security.”

“Do I have time to get to Unit-01?” Shinji asked.

“Unit-01’s still in lockdown. It’s gonna take some time,” Misato replied.

But Shinji had run out of time. As he rounded the next corner, he caught sight of Kaworu. The Fifth Child was dressed in that now-familiar black plug suit and a malicious grin on his face. “Ah, Shinji,” he said in a soft voice. “I just knew it was you.”

Shinji placed his handgun under his belt and raised the submachine gun in the other boy’s direction. “And you’re Nagisa,” he said, trying to remain calm despite what was happening.

“Ah, then there are no introductions needed,” Kaworu said. Noticing the gun pointed at him, he laughed a little. “I assure you, that will not work,” he said. Shinji ignored him and fired a burst in the Angel’s direction. As the rounds bounced harmlessly off the now-visible barrier, the boy dropped the gun in defeat. “I told you…a futile gesture,” the Fifth Child continued.

Turning and running back down the hall he’d come from, Shinji rounded the corner and leaned back against the wall, trying to calm his breathing. ‘Gotta make it back to the EVA cages,’ he thought, going over the routes to there in his head. “Why not just get what you came to do over with?” he asked. “Why go through all the song-and-dance with the Commander and SEELE?”

“Ah, because it was fun,” Kaworu said. “I quite enjoy how Lilim deceive and hurt one another.”

“What?” Shinji asked, edging down the hall a little.

“The Committee saw fit to train me in all manner of ways to hurt and kill others,” Kaworu explained, “and all the while, they knew of what I was. I can thank them for one thing, though.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” Shinji questioned.

“The enjoyment of human death,” Kaworu said with an evil smile. “It is quite exhilarating…looking down at someone while the life drains from them.”

“Are you insane?” Shinji asked.

“No…I just enjoy such things,” Kaworu said. “Who do you think killed those guards?”

“Why did you do that?” Shinji asked. “They weren’t even after you…”

“I became bored awaiting your arrival,” Kaworu answered. “I had not killed since the Committee was undone. Besides, they would die after I was through with you, anyway.”

“Th-that’s…you’re sick!” Shinji yelled.

“Be that as it may,” Kaworu said with a shrug, “I did rather enjoy how the Commander set the Committee against themselves. Your father does very good work.” Shinji didn’t reply, only making a break for the door and back into the bowels of NERV, hoping to get back to Unit-01 and take care of the last Angel. “And now the chase is on,” Kaworu said, his pace never increasing from a slow walk…

*****

“Is it ready yet?” Misato ordered. The bridge crew had worked double-time to prep the purple EVA to combat the 17th Angel.

“Entry plug is partially inserted, but we can’t free Unit-01,” Maya answered. “Shinji’s going to have to get it out of there.”

Asuka watched the feed from the cage with a worried expression. “Shinji…just make it there, please.”

*****

As Shinji ran through what felt like the thousandth hallway that night, he was at a loss to figure out how to finish things up. The final Angel was stalking him down the halls, never getting in a hurry to finish the job. A couple of more corners later, he found himself passing the pilots’ locker rooms. ‘Getting close,’ he thought, following the hall to the end. Opening the door at the end, he was greeted by the sight of the machine he’d been seeking, the entry plug sticking out of its neck. “Made it, Misato,” he said.

“Okay, just get inside,” Misato ordered. “You’ll have to free it, though.”

As Shinji began to climb the side of Unit-01’s head to reach the plug, a sharp pain knocked him back down onto the catwalk. Looking over, he saw the glow of a familiar barrier around the Fifth Child.

“If you can use an AT field offensively, why not just finish me with it?” Shinji asked, gritting his teeth.

“Ah, but that would deprive me of the fun of the hunt,” Kaworu said, slowly moving down the catwalk.

“You really are a sadist, you know?” Shinji joked, trying to find a way to Unit-01.

“The old men taught me very well,” Kaworu said. “I don’t want to make it quick for you,” he explained, walking towards the Third Child in short steps, “you are the last thing between me and returning to Adam, what with the Second unable to use Unit-02 and the First without Unit-00. And I intend to make good use of our time.”

Shinji began to slowly edge away from the grey-haired boy, feeling that death was imminent.

“I am looking forward to crushing the last breath from you,” Kaworu said, standing less than two feet away. Shinji closed his eyes in preparation of the end.

But this was not to be the case as more than two dozen bullets ripped through the Fifth Child’s body. A look of horror on his face, Kaworu dropped to his knees and pouring blood from the many wounds in his body. “W-what?” he choked out, spitting up more red liquid.

Shinji looked past him to see Rei, dressed in the black plug suit and holding the submachine gun he’d dropped in the hallway. “Rei…” he spoke, feeling more glad to be alive than he ever had.

“I am glad I made it in time,” Rei said, dropping the empty gun.

“Ha…I knew y…you couldn’t be trusted,” Kaworu managed.

“Be slient,” Rei said, getting the Fifth Child to his feet. “The same could be said of you, Nagisa.”

“W…what are you-” his words were cut off and replaced with pained screams as Rei plunged a hand through his wounds and into his torso.

Shinji silently watched the spectacle, feeling sick to his stomach.

Rei ignored the screaming and reached deeper into his body, finally finding what she was after. Placing a foot on his back, she pushed it in while pulling her arm out. With one solid jerk, she loosened a faintly glowing red orb from his form.

“Th…that’s…” Shinji tried to form the words.

“Correct,” Rei said, “his core. He will not last long separated from it.”

Looking down, Shinji could see the life drain from the last Angel. As it did, the core stopped giving off its faint glow. “Then it’s over?” he asked.

“No,” Rei said, tossing the dead core down. “There is still Commander Ikari. Shall I call him down here?”

“Not just yet,” Shinji answered. Reaching for his earpiece, he spoke. “Misato, Nagisa’s dead.”

“Yeah, we…can see that,” Misato’s voice said. “Remind me not to shake Rei’s hand anytime soon.”

Shinji shook his head at her choosing a time for joking. “That’s just terrible…”

“Well, you saw it happen…” Misato shot back.

“Misato…take everyone and get out of here,” Shinji said in a more serious tone.

“Are you sure?” Misato asked.

“It’s only father left,” Shinji answered. “I can take care of this from here. Just get them out of here.”

“You’re certain?” Kaji’s voice questioned.

“I…I don’t know,” Shinji said. “But whatever happens, I‘m not going along with his plan.”

“What are you talking about, idiot?” Asuka’s voice came in.

“Just what I said: he won’t take me alive…” Shinji said in a quiet tone. He then turned to Rei. “Alright, do it.”

Rei nodded, taking a cell phone out of a pocket on her leg and dialing the Commander’s office. “I have him,” she said. There was a pause as she listened on the other end. “Understood,” she replied, hanging up. “Get on your feet,” she told Shinji, upholstering her own handgun and pointing it at him. “Are you armed?”

Shinji nodded, removing the weapon from his belt and held it by his side, ready for the final performance…

*****

Misato’s face didn’t betray how she felt internally. She knew well what Shinji had meant. “Okay…” she admitted. “You just take care of yourself.”

“You’re not really gonna leave him here, are you?” Asuka yelled at the major.

Misato looked at the redhead with her most serious expression. “Asuka…” she began, “I trust him to take care of it.”

Kaji placed a hand on the young girl’s shoulder. “Have faith in him,” he told her. “He’s going to make it.”

“He’d better,” Asuka said under her breath.

Misato then turned towards the last few NERV employees. “Alright, everyone follow us.”

The seven of them worked their way back to the entrance of NERV headquarters and out into the Geofront. As they approached the elevator, Misato turned back towards the pyramid. “Shinji…be careful,” she whispered before boarding…

*****

Back in the EVA cage, the First and Third Children remained in the positions they were in. Her pointing a gun at him, and him awaiting the Commander.

“Shinji…” Gendo’s voice came from behind Rei.

Shinji raised the weapon in the man’s direction, no waver in his hand. “Father…” he said though clenched teeth.

Looking down at Kaworu’s body, Gendo smiled coldly. “It seems the Committee had left a Trojan Horse of sorts as their last act of desperation,” he said, turning to Rei. “Very good work.”

“Yes sir,” Rei said, her gun trained on Shinji.

“Enough of this nonsense,” Shinji said. “I will not go along with your insane scenario.”

“And what do you know of it?” Gendo asked his son.

“I know just what you’re after,” Shinji answered. “Mother’s still inside this damned thing…” he said, referring to Unit-01.

Gendo was not taken aback in the least. “So you knew…”

“Since it absorbed me,” Shinji answered, “but then I was told of what you were planning…”

“Ah yes, the Second had failed to eliminate Major Katsuragi,” Gendo said.

“I will not do it,” Shinji repeated, releasing the safety on his gun.

“I did not say you had a choice,” Gendo said, removing his own weapon from his coat. “The only choice you have is whether it will be willing or not.”

“I have made my choice,” Shinji said, his voice low and angry.

“Very well then,” Gendo said. “Rei.”

Nodding, Rei took the safety off her own weapon…and pointed it at the Commander’s head. “Drop your weapon. Now.”

Gendo couldn’t hide the surprise on his face. “What is this?” he asked angrily.

“This is your chance to surrender,” Shinji replied. “I’d take it.”

Ignoring him, Gendo stared at Rei. “You have been helping them…how dare you do this to me, I raised you-”

“…to be a weapon,” Rei interrupted, “a tool for your plans. I am done.”

“Why?” Gendo asked, feeling his scenario fall apart.

“I am…tired,” Rei spoke in a quiet voice, small tears falling. “Tired of killing, tired of being used. I wish to be free of this…”

“Rei…” Shinji said softly.

Gendo closed his eyes and calmed himself. There was still time to put this back on track. “If that is what you wish…”

Shinji saw the slight turning of his gun towards her. Acting fast, he quickly shot the arm holding the gun. The Commander grunted in pain, dropping the weapon. Another shot after that hit his leg, causing him to drop to his knees. The boy walked over and placed the gun against the man’s head while sliding the dropped weapon away with his foot. “Move again and I’ll take my time,” he said in a voice like his father’s.

“Ikari…” Rei spoke quietly, lowering her weapon and dropping it.

“Rei, get out of here,” Shinji said, his voice normal.

“What are you going to do?” Rei asked. Silence hung in the room, the answer already known to all. “You are going to kill him.”

“Yes,” Shinji replied quietly.

“Why?” Rei asked.

“Because we’ll never be free,” Shinji explained. “As long as he’s alive, you or I or Asuka will always be looking over one shoulder…wondering if he’s going to come for us.”

“Are you certain of this?” Rei questioned.

“I wish there was another way…” Shinji answered. “But this is how it must be.”

Rei remained silent, looking down at the man who had raised her. She felt sadness at what was to happen to him, but also anger at being used for his plans. But if it was necessary to be free…

“Help me, Rei,” Gendo spoke up.

Rei considered his words for a second. “No,” she said, walking to the door and leaving the room.

As the door closed, Gendo spoke up. “You won’t kill me.”

“Keep telling yourself that, father,” Shinji replied, pushing the barrel closer to him.

A long tense silence fell across the room for several minutes. “Then why do you hesitate?” Gendo asked, laughing a bit. “Are you waiting for some kind of confession, something redeeming I could say and absolve me?”

“No,” Shinji answered. “There is nothing you can say that will redeem you. I’m thinking of what the last thing I will say to you will be.”

“And what is it, then?” Gendo asked, feeling light-headed from the blood loss.

Shinji stood in silence as he contemplated what they would be. So much to say, so much hate for this man. But there was one thing above all of it. Something he had to say. Closing his eyes, a few tears fell as he found the words. “I forgive you.” Gendo turned his head to look at Shinji, who lowered the weapon and placed it under his belt. “Even after everything…I can’t do it. You should pay for what you‘ve done. But not by death…”

As his son walked away, Gendo reached over for his own weapon with his unhurt arm. “Get…get back over here,” he said through clenched teeth. “You can’t take everything apart and just walk away from me.” Pointing the gun at him, he concluded, “You’re still a coward.”

Shinji turned around to face the Commander, his face blank. “No,” he spoke up, “I’m just not as willing to discard everything as you are.”

As Gendo’s finger moved to the trigger, an unearthly roar erupted from the once-silent machine nearby. Seconds later, a huge purple hand dislodged itself from the Bakelite and came down on the walkway, giving the structure and the Commander a death-grip.

Shinji, having been knocked off his feet, stood back up and looked at the scene. Unit-01‘s hand now covered most of the walkway, blood running between its fingers. “Mother…” Shinji said softly, closing his eyes. Walking over to the hand, he spoke up. “I meant it, you know,” he said, “I do forgive you.” He then moved towards the head of Unit-01. “I’m sorry, mother. But you know it had to be this way.” He ran a hand over the cold metal of the machine. “Goodbye…” he said softly. Walking away, he looked back at the sight behind him. Blood and death, the only way it could’ve ended…

*****

Back outside, Shinji decided to sit near the lake created by Unit-00’s destruction. He then removed the gun from under his belt and tossed it into the water. His thoughts were a mess, but he felt no anger anymore. “Is it done?” a soft voice shook him from those thoughts.

Opening his eyes, Shinji saw Rei standing near him, dressed in her standard school uniform. “You heard it, too?” he asked sadly, wiping fresh tears away.

“Yes,” Rei said. “But it was not something you could have prevented. It was her will, not yours.”

“I know,” Shinji admitted. “And we know it had to be done. But still…”

“It will weigh on you forever, will it not?” Rei asked, feeling some sadness herself.

Shinji nodded, feeling the tears come again. “I’ll just have to live with it…” he said with a cracking voice. As he began to cry again, he felt arms wrap around him. Opening his eyes, he saw Rei holding him. “Rei…”

“I am not practiced in consoling others, but…I will do what I can to help for now,” the First Child said, small tears of her own forming. Shinji returned the hug, crying into her shoulder.

His tears under contol again, Shinji released the girl. “Thank you, Rei. You‘re a true friend.”

The same smile he’d seen after the 5th Angel crossed her face. “You are welcome,” she said, standing up to leave. “Where will I go? I have only known this place…”

“It doesn’t matter,” Shinji told her, shaking his head, “just get out there and…live. That‘s what I‘m going to do.”

Walking away, Rei turned back towards him. “Will we meet again?”

Shinji smiled widely. “It’s a wide world out there,” he said, mirroring Mathieu’s words, “you just never know.”

Rei nodded, the smile leaving her. “Goodbye…Shinji.”

By himself again, Shinji settled into the quiet of his thoughts for almost three hours, watching the sun rise. He knew he’d have to live with what happened that night. But to trade some personal sanity for the fate of the world? That was a fair enough tradeoff for him. Getting to his feet, he walked back out into the forest. He figured he’s stay out there for a few days, needing a little time alone for now…

*****One week later*****

“It’s such a beautiful day…” Asuka’s musings were certainly accurate. Osaka was a much more active and lively place than Tokyo-3 was. She had arrived a few days ago, needing a break from the bunker’s stale atmosphere. Staring at the clouds, she felt genuinely at peace. Well, almost.

Shinji’s fate was still unknown to them. All they knew was that all had been quiet from NERV, so that was a good sign. But the internal storm within Asuka had not quelled even slightly. That night they had been together…she smiled at just how strong yet gentle he had been with her. ‘Idiot,’ she thought, none of the usual tone behind the insult. ‘I want to see you again.’

Sighing, Asuka resumed her walk down the busy street. She was dressed in a red bikini, a slightly see-though skirt and shirt covering her and a pair of sandals on her feet. The most striking thing, however, was her change of hair color. Misato suggested that the Second Child hide her identity until they knew Shinji was alright, and neither felt that it was a bad idea. The major had offered that she dye it, something the redhead was vehemently against. So she had chosen a brunette wig, long enough to cover her fiery locks. Her eyebrows were dyed to match, a pair of brown contacts to complete the look. Sure, her features didn’t exactly look Japanese, but it would take someone studying her closely to realize that. That, or someone that knew her.

Walking past a vendor selling sunglasses, Asuka tried several pairs on. ‘None of these really complete the look,’ she mused, searching through the options. Picking up a sleek black pair, she decided these were the best she would find. After paying for them, she resumed her walk again.

Another five minutes of travel later, Asuka stood in front of a fountain near the center of town. She stared into the clear water, her reflection looking back. She smiled a sad smile, her thoughts returning to her roommate. “I hope you’re okay, Shinji…wherever you are.”

“Hello? Can you help me? I’m looking for someone,” a voice came from behind the former Second Child.

“And what makes you think I can help?” Asuka asked back, not turning around. She had been talked to by a lot of guys using this approach already. ‘Just another one on the pile,’ she thought.

“Because you look a lot like her…” the voice said.

Asuka’s eyes widened as she recognized the voice. Spinning around, she came face-to-face with Shinji Ikari. He was dressed in khaki shorts and a blue t-shirt, his feet in sneakers. Her mouth suddenly found itself unable to form the words, her eyes wanting to water. “Hey there,” he said in a casual tone, his smile wide and arms open.

“Shinji…” was all Asuka could manage before she stepped into the embrace. The two held onto each other tightly, both tearing a little. “You kept your promise,” she said, resting her chin on his left shoulder.

“Of course I did,” Shinji said, leaning against her. “I just needed to be alone for a while. Had a lot to think about, you know?”

“But you still suck for being gone like that,” Asuka whispered in his ear, teasing him.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Shinji told her, his face turning slightly red. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Good to know,” Asuka said, releasing him a small bit, but not fully. “I hope you brought a present, though,” she said in her usual attitude. “It’ll be a start on ‘making it up‘.”

Shinji gave her a nervous smile. “There is this one thing…” he offered.

“Oh? What’s that?” Asuka asked. Her question was immediately answered as Shinji wrapped his arms around her again and kissed her deeply, his tongue just barely in her mouth. The girl shivered slightly, the sensation making her a bit dizzy. She returned the affection as best as she could. The two of them stood by the fountain in that position for what felt like hours until he pulled away slightly, blushing and smiling brightly.

“That answer your question?” Shinji asked, thoughts still a little hazy and his breathing heavy.

“Very…much…so,” Asuka said, leaning against him. “I’d like presents like that more often,” she told him after catching her breath.

“As much as you want, Asuka,” Shinji said, kissing her forehead. “You have me for as long as you want.”

Asuka gave him her purest smile, a look of contentment she rarely showed. “Idiot…” she said sweetly. “But just as long as you’re my idiot…”

“So what would you like to do today?” Shinji asked after a long silence.

Letting him go, Asuka kept hold on one of his hands. “Wherever’s fine with me. Didn‘t have anything to do, anyway.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Shinji agreed.

The two teens began to walk back into the busy city, ready to begin a much quieter life than they had left behind…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Oh my, that was kind of a sad and violent chapter…with a nice, light finish. Odd combo, I know. But if you know me well enough, it’s oddly fitting.

Yeah, I gave Rei a chance to be in some touching scenes and kick some serious ass in this fic. Someone once said I underutilized her. They can’t accuse me of that this time…

And now, only the epilogue left to go. It’s more like the ending to this part, so stick around if you’re a fan of ‘em.

And sorry to any Kaworu fans, I just figured I could tweak him into something darker. Besides, you know I’m part of your demographic, anyway (see Nephilim, for example).

*****Omake time!*****

The camera pans into the familiar room, the author putting the final few touches on this chapter.

Bard: (to himself) Three down…almost done. (notices the camera) Oh, hi there. Back again, are we?

Mitsumi suddenly pops out from thin air into the room.

Mitsumi: (grinning) Hiya!

Bard: (wide-eyed) Wha-…when did you learn how to do that?

Mitsumi: Oh…a while back, while you were on hiatus.

Bard: (sighing) That figures…

Mitsumi: Next one’s done?

Bard: Indeed it is. Would you like to look over it?

Mitsumi: You DO need someone to pick it apart…

Bard: (nonplussed) Oh really?

Ignoring him, Mitsumi takes a seat on the author’s shoulder and looks closely over the above chapter.

Mitsumi: (some time later) I see where you fit in the last one’s end…and it ends on such a sweet note. A little violent in spots, though.

Bard: Necessary evil, my dear. Just as the sex was.

Mitsumi: I only have one real quibble, though… (begins crying) WHY’D YOU HAVE TO KILL KAWORU-KUN?!?

Bard: (surprised) Eh? Never pegged you for a fan…

Mitsumi: (grabbing his collar and shaking his head back and forth) I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, BAKA!

Bard: (shaken and dizzy) Uh…my bad?

Mitsumi: (calmed down but glaring) Not gonna work, mister!

Bard: Okay, okay…how about to make up for it, I’ll perform with the others next chapter?

Mitsumi: (releasing him and smiling) That’ll work for me, baka-author.

And with that, Mitsumi disappears again.

Bard: (sighing) Oh dear… (looking at the camera) Time for you to be going, I think.

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:36 am

And that concludes the first arc. Check back soon, it's still far from over.

The Ikari Identity ch4  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI IDENTITY

Chapter 4: From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea

*****

Somewhere near Osaka, two people slumbered soundly in a small house. Shinji opened his eyes in the first morning light, sitting up in bed. Taking a quick look over at Asuka’s sleeping form, he quietly rose from the bed and walked out the front door and onto the beach. It was a quaint place that they’d stumbled upon a few weeks back and decided to stay for a while.

Taking a deep breath of the morning air, Shinji felt a small measure of peace. It had been a little over a month since that night, and it still hung over him like minute one. But it wasn’t like he didn’t have help with that. Staying with Asuka here for a few days after their reunion, they had returned to the bunker to show that he was alive and well. Misato and Kaji had been relieved, her more so than him.

‘I’m glad they believed in me,’ Shinji thought. The bridge crew had stayed around for a week before quietly going their own ways, just glad their time with NERV was over. Ritsuko had opted to stay, saying she needed to make up for lost time with her old friends. All had been quiet around headquarters since, but he hadn’t really paid attention. He was just glad it was over…

Walking back to the structure, Shinji sat down at the foot of the stairs, watching the sunrise. He and Asuka had decided to leave the bunker for a while, just needing some time away from the past. Kaji had stashed away quite a bit of what both the Committee and the Commander had paid him. The house wasn’t very expensive, so they could afford to stay here for a long time if they wanted to. It was a bit smaller than Misato’s old apartment, but it was enough to get by.

Shinji’s thoughts returned to the girl he was living with. Asuka had grown more comfortable around him, and they had settled into a mutual need for one another. He wasn’t really sure what they were, only that neither were going anywhere without the other. He had told her how he felt, but she was still contemplating her own words. ‘I said I’d give her all the time she needed,’ he thought with a smile. Since that night, they hadn’t been…intimate again, but it wasn’t really necessary. They had all the time for that one day ahead.

And, surprisingly, they had both resumed training with their skills. Not like that one night’s out-of-control sparring match, these were much more leisurely. Neither let the other take the upper hand or get too into it. It was more of a dance to them, something that brought them back to that moment. Of course, Asuka was usually the winner of most of these…her aggressive nature being key to that. But Shinji was just glad because of the bonding experience it gave them. ‘And if I should ever need to protect myself or her,’ he thought. The last part made him laugh a bit, the idea that the redhead needing protection almost comical.

Shinji then recalled the nightmares. They’d both get them often, him more often than her. His mostly concerned the last images of his father. Asuka’s were much harder to shake off, the ones about her mother’s death and the 15th Angel’s attack at the forefront. It was how they ended up most nights, one would awaken and the other would hold them until they went back to sleep.

A pair of slender arms wrapping around Shinji’s neck shook the thoughts from him. “Morning,” Asuka purred in his ear.

Shinji smiled and turned his head, giving her a quick kiss. “Beautiful…” he said, not really sure if he meant her or the morning.

“Don’t be corny,” Asuka teased. Sitting beside him, she watched the sun slowly creep into the sky. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“Just thinking about everything,” Shinji answered. “But not really thinking about anything, either.”

“Geez, be a little more cryptic, why don’t you?” Asuka complained, giving him a small push.

“Sorry…” Shinji said with a smile.

“Don’t fall into old habits,” Asuka said, her tone playful. “Still feeling down?”

Shinji sighed. “I’ll always feel this…”

Asuka placed her hand over his. “I know…I don‘t think we‘ll ever forget those times. We can just try and overwhelm them with better times.”

“I’m glad you’re here with me,” Shinji said.

“Just so long as you’re there for me,” Asuka replied.

“I told you before,” Shinji said, looking at her, “as long as you’ll have me.”

Asuka sat quietly with him, her attention returning to the sky. “I really love it here,” she said after a long silence.

“Yeah, it’s like a little piece of Heaven,” Shinji agreed.

Asuka leaned her head against him. “Cause I‘m here?” she asked.

Shinji nodded. “Yeah…”

Asuka gave him a small smile before kissing him lightly. “Listen, I know you told me before. But…”

“But?” Shinji questioned.

“Tell me again,” Asuka requested. “I need to hear it.”

Shinji knew just what she meant. Pulling her into a hug, he whispered in her ear. “I love you.”

Asuka felt a single tear fall. She hugged him back tightly. “Thank you.” Her expression lowered a little. “I know I haven’t-”

Shinji cut her off by placing a finger over her lips. “You don’t have to say it,” he said, lowering the digit, “I can tell.”

Asuka leaned in and kissed him again, holding this one longer. As they parted, she spoke up. “We can’t do this all day, we need to go into town.”

“Yeah, need some groceries,” Shinji agreed. Getting to his feet, he extended a hand to the girl. Asuka took his hand and rose from the steps. The two of them walked back into the house.

*****

After having showered and dressed for the day, the couple found themselves walking into Osaka. Shinji was dressed in a blue t-shirt and white shorts, Asuka in her familiar yellow sundress. “It almost feels like a honeymoon,” she mused, looking at the clouds.

“Except we’re not married,” Shinji answered.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t feel like it,” Asuka replied. “And that doesn’t mean we can’t one day…” she said quietly.

“R-really?” Shinji asked, feeling a little blush creeping up.

“Nope,” Asuka said with a smirk, sticking out a bit of tongue. “At least, not yet. Still too young.”

“I certainly don’t feel young…” Shinji said sadly.

“It is what it is,” Asuka said in a philosophical manner. “We can try make up for all that lost innocence, though.“ Looking over at him, she continued. “Right?”

“Yeah…I’d like that,” Shinji said, taking hold of her hand.

They walked in silence for a little while longer. “When do you think we should go see them again?” Asuka questioned.

“Sometime soon,” Shinji offered. “They’re probably wondering why they haven’t heard from us.”

“Yeah, it has been more than a week since I called…” Asuka said.

“Maybe we should do that while we’re out,” Shinji said.

“Sure,” Asuka answered. The rest of the walk was silent, the both of them enjoying the peace of the day.

*****

The two returned to the small house just as evening arrived. They had walked all around Osaka and the beaches nearby, just taking in the sights. It had probably been the tenth-or-so time they had, but it was still just as nice. ‘So different than either Tokyo,’ Shinji had thought earlier. It was certainly less gray and imposing.

Setting the groceries they’d bought on the counter, Shinji began to prepare something for dinner. Asuka took a seat at the small table, stretching her arms and legs. “That was a nice long walk,” she said. “What’s on the menu?”

“Vegetable stir-fry,” Shinji answered, turning the stove top on.

“Sounds good,” Asuka replied.

They let the quiet hang in the room as he continued cooking, both just enjoying how things were going. After the meal was finished and eaten, they went outside and laid down at the edge of the sea. The night was just beginning to set in, the sky bathed in twilight.

“Hey Shinji,” Asuka said, laying with her head on his right side.

“What?” Shinji asked, staring into the sky.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Asuka requested. “I know something’s bothering you.”

“Well,” Shinji began, “I miss Rei.” He stopped here to choose his words carefully. “It’s just…she’s one of the best friends I’ve had. If it weren’t for her…I don’t know. I think you’d be gone and I’d still be my father’s puppet. I may have finished things, but she‘s the real hero here.”

Asuka nodded. “I never really thanked her properly, either,” she said sadly. “Think we‘ll see her again?”

Shinji shook his head. “I don’t know…I hope so.”

Asuka laid her head back down on his body, listening to his heartbeat. “Shinji…thank you.”

Shinji smiled down at her. “You don’t need to do that.”

“No, I really mean that in every sense,” Asuka said, her eyes meeting his. “I’ve never felt so calm. I wouldn’t know what to do if you weren’t here when the nightmares come…”

Shinji hugged her tighter. “I understand. You‘re doing the same for me.”

Asuka leaned in closer to his face, their lips nearly touching. Just a bit closer…

And that thought was cut off as the tide came in and soaked both of their backsides.

“Ah! Shit! Cold!” Asuka shouted while leaping to her feet, dusting sand off her dress and wringing out some of the salt water. Shinji couldn’t help but laugh at the moment. Noticing his reaction, she became slightly irritated. “What the hell’s so funny?”

“S-sorry, it’s just…” Shinji managed between laughs, “that was pretty funny, huh?”

Asuka pushed him back down into the mix of sand and surf. Straddling his chest, she leaned down close to him with a wicked smile on her face. “Hey, idiot,” she said, the insult almost a purr.

Shinji turned a bright red at that. “Y-yes?”

“I’m bored…” Asuka said sweetly.

Shinji’s eyes widened greatly at the memory those words triggered. His train of thought was quickly derailed as Asuka pressed her lips against his urgently. Lips slightly apart, she shoved her tongue in his mouth. The boy’s mind went blank for a few seconds before he melted into it. He mirrored her actions as best as he could, rational thought all but abandoned. Parting, he felt the tide ebb and flow beneath him, soaking him to the bone.

“That time was much more serious, huh?” Asuka asked, her breathing returning to normal.

Shinji could only nod dumbly, his mind in a fog. Had anyone told him six months ago where his life was headed, he’d have probably laughed himself to death. Now, though…

“Come on, it’s getting late,” Asuka said, her voice far away. Blinking a few times, Shinji realized that she had gotten off him and walked back over to the door. Shaking his head, he picked himself up off the beach and headed inside.

As the front door closed, a pair of eyes watched his and Asuka’s every move from a hill some distance away. “Targets located,” the figure spoke into an earpiece, the moonlight shining off a lens attached to a rifle…

*****To be continued in THE IKARI SUPREMACY*****

A/N: Nope, we’re not finished yet! This is just the end of the IDENTITY arc of the story. Expect SUPREMACY to be up soon…and maybe more after that. Might just end up as a trilogy, y’know?

Thanks for at least sticking around to read this part of the story. Your attention is much appreciated.

*****Omake time!*****

The camera pans this time, not into the author’s room, but to the room next door…where a small stage has been assembled. The author is currently lugging in the speakers, with Mitsumi standing nearby talking to two of her sisters.

Magdalena: Oh, that’s such a pretty dress, Mistumi!

Akari: I wish I had a guy who’d buy me such things…

Mitsumi: (smirking) Heh…it’s not so much he bought it for me as much as I talked him out of it.

Akari: (grinning) Sneaky.

Bard: (turning towards them) Okay, stage is set. (looks to the camera) Oh, good timing!

The others take notice of the audience, Magdalena and Akari smiling and waving.

Magdalena: (shyly) Ah…so nice to see you again.

Akari: (turning to the others) Okay, everybody take your places.

As the fairies picked up their instruments (guitar for Mitsumi, bass for Magdalena, Akari seated behind the drums), the author walks up to the mic.

Bard: (sighing) The things I get talked into…

Akari gives a quick “one-two, one-two-three-four” count-off before making two sharp beats. A creepy but urgent bassline begins playing, drums entering at two more short intervals before becoming a steady beat. The guitar cuts in shortly after, a quick set of screechy chords repeating several times before becoming a steady riff with the rest of the music.

Bard: (singing)
Sinister echoes clutching at straws
Letter boxes screaming
You try to pin him to the wall
You end up on the ceiling
Locked in a dome
The shadows flicker by
He's the madcap pusher
Delirium, the drug he's dealing

He drops a capsule in your drink
And spikes your dreams with madness

He's a sniper in the hills
Hiding in the holes in your head
He's the poison in your poison
The razor in your bed
Hanging on a picture
Eyelids’ needle and thread
You empty yourself once again
But he's always one step ahead
He whispers in your ear
"Was it nothing that you said?"
He's walking in your sleep now
He keeps your fat paranoia well-fed

He drops a capsule in your drink
And spikes your dreams with madness

The sanity assassin
Assassin
Assassin
Stays up all night stalking
The sanity assassin
Assassin
Assassin
Picks off victims like flies
The sanity assassin
Assassin
Assassin
Let his fingers do the walking
The sanity assassin
Assassin
Assassin
The crack shot between your eyes

He drops a capsule in your drink
And spikes your dreams with madness


The music comes to an end at that, the four occupants of the room smiling at one another,

Bard: (clapping) Very nice, girls.

Mitsumi: (nervously laughing) Hey, you’re not too bad yourself. Think anyone’ll know it?

Bard: (shaking his head) Dunno. Would be fun, though…

Mitsumi: (turns to the camera and waves) Bye! Come back and visit us again soon!

Magdalena, Akari, and the author join in waving goodbye to the camera as it pans away…for now, at least.

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

Until our paths next cross,
-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:51 am

Time to begin the second arc, methinks.

The Ikari Supremacy ch1  SPOILER: Show
DISCLAIMER: I still don’t own Evangelion or any of the characters, they’re still property of…well, whoever owns them these days. This fic’s got nothing to do with Rebuild, just the original series/movies. This one‘s (obviously) the sequel to THE IKARI IDENTITY, so read that first if you haven‘t. And lastly: ‘this’ is thoughts and “this” is speech.

THE IKARI SUPREMACY

Chapter 1: Dog Day Sunrise

*****

‘Ugh…so damn hot,’ were the thoughts of a figure in a dark suit. The man was laid out in the tall grass on a small hill overlooking part of the beaches of Osaka. He had been here for some time, watching his targets through the scope of his rifle. His orders were clear that the two were not to be harmed…at least, not yet. ‘Guess the man-in-charge’ll want them in front of him personally for that,’ he thought, continuing his surveillance. The targets were currently engaged in a fight, not that either were out to hurt the other. “Just a couple of kids…” he mused out loud.

A click focused the man’s attention from his targets to behind him. Rolling slightly, he found himself looking down the barrel of a silenced handgun…along with distinctly blue hair and red eyes. “First…” he said.

Rei Ayanami looked down at the would-be assassin, her face stoic. “You should have kept silent,” she said, giving the trigger a small squeeze. As the man slumped to the ground, she picked up the ejected shell and tossed it into the sea along with the silencer that had been on the gun. She placed the weapon into the bag in her other hand and then turned to walk down the hill, towards the two on the beach…

*****

“Let’s go, Third,” Asuka Langley Sohryu said, her stance low and ready for her companion’s strike. “I’m not getting any younger.”

Shinji Ikari smiled and lashed out with a quick left jab, followed by a sweep of his right leg. Asuka deftly avoided both, his moves already a pattern to her. Before he could regain his footing, she gave her own sweep and knocked him flat onto the sand. “That easy to read by now?” he asked.

“After over a month of this? I‘d better be able to,” Asuka replied, extending her hand out to him.

Shinji took the offered hand and rose to his feet. “Guess that means I’ll have to try and step up to your level, huh?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head.

“That’ll always be a losing battle for you,” Asuka said. Deciding to take it easy on him for a bit, she raised her foot for a simple-to-dodge kick…or at least, it would have been had Shinji’s attention been on her and not whatever he’d been looking at just past her. Instead, said foot caught him right on the forehead and sent him down to the sand. Asuka immediately dropped down to make sure she hadn’t seriously injured him. “What the hell, Shinji?” she asked in a worried tone. “Misato could’ve avoided that…” She then noticed his gaze and followed it to a familiar girl’s form walking across the beach towards them.

“Rei?” Shinji asked with wide eyes, rubbing his forehead.

“Are you injured?” Rei asked, unsure of what she had witnessed. She then turned towards Asuka. “I do not understand why you would hurt him…”

“It’s alright,” Shinji said, getting back onto his feet. “We just spar with each other out here every once in a while, nothing serious. She’s right, though…I should‘ve been paying attention”

“Didn’t know your attention was off of me,” Asuka said, glad she hadn’t hurt him. “Good to see you’re still among the living, Ayanami,” she said to the other girl.

“It is…strange you should put it that way,” Rei said, a serious look in her eyes.

Shinji noticed this and spoke up. “Rei…what is it? Has something happened to the others?”

Rei shook her head. “They are still well…at least, for now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Asuka asked with a puzzled expression.

Rei looked around the beach, her eyes darting from one location to another. “It is best if we discuss this inside,” she said, motioning towards the small house Shinji and Asuka were staying in.

“Uh…okay,” Shinji said, following her to the structure. Looking over at Asuka, the redhead just gave him a shrug and walked towards the house. Shaking his head, he followed the two girls inside…

*****

Inside the house, Rei sat down on the bed while Asuka placed herself at the kitchen table. “Before we get started, would you like some tea?” Shinji asked, standing in the kitchen.

“I am afraid we are pressed for time right now,” Rei stated.

Slowly seating himself at the table, Shinji spoke up after a short pause. “Alright then…we’re listening.”

Taking a deep breath, Rei readied her words. “I have been away since the Commander’s death. Mostly information gathering to ensure our safety. During the last few weeks, I had come across some rather…disturbing news.”

“And that would be?” Asuka questioned, feeling a knot in her stomach.

“It is not over,” Rei answered. “There is someone hunting us.”

Shinji and Asuka’s faces paled several shades at the last few words. “W…what? But I thought that the Committee…” Shinji began.

Rei shook her head. “It seems Nagisa failed in eliminating one of his targets, a critical oversight I had not thought him capable of.”

The room fell silent for a few moments after. “Tell us everything,” Shinji said.

“I am unaware of the survivor’s former number or name,” Rei explained, “but it would seem that two of the members of SEELE were to be caught in an explosion in the Russian branch of NERV. One of them made it out alive, and after word of the Commander’s death spread, he has seen fit to regain control of as much of the Committee’s assets as he could. While only barely more than Commander Ikari could seize, it is enough. To that end, he has rechristened himself SEELE-0.”

“So one of the old men has taken the reins and decided we’re to blame, huh?” Asuka questioned, letting out a heavy sigh. “Are we the first to know or did you tell the others yet?”

“They are already aware of the situation,” Rei replied, “and sent me here to inform you.”

“How long do you figure before they’ll find us here?” Asuka asked.

Rei averted her gaze. “They already know.”

“What?” Shinji gasped, rising from his seat.

“As I was making my way here,” Rei began, “I managed to find a man dressed in a Section Two uniform watching you both through a rifle scope. I do not know if he was merely to observe or eliminate, but…”

“…you got him first, didn’t you?” Shinji asked, seating himself back at the table.

Rei nodded. “I had not wished to take another life, but protecting you both took precedence.”

“Wish I could say I was honored…” Asuka mused.

“The major sent me to give you that information and this…care package, as Mr. Ryoji put it,” Rei said, handing them the bag she had been carrying.

Shinji opened it up to find several banded stacks of money, each one of a different type. Deeper into the bag, he found a couple of forged passports for him and Asuka. And below that, an M9 handgun. Taking the weapon from the bag, he hefted its familiar weight and sighed deeply. “So it’s back to running for me, huh?” he asked, giving a small laugh. “Funny that this time it isn’t by choice…”

“I understand your reservations,” Rei started, “but this is how it must be.”

“And what about you?” Shinji asked, returning the weapon to its place in the bag.

“I will return to the bunker and gather the others,” Rei explained. “We shall leave for the last known location of Zero.”

“What, you don’t want us to go with you?” Asuka questioned.

“Major Katsuragi felt it was better to split his attention between two groups,” Rei said. “All she said was to travel anywhere but west.”

“Russia, huh?” Shinji asked.

Rei nodded. “It is a likely place to begin. If nothing else, we may be able to ascertain the locations of any remaining SEELE bases.”

A thick silence hung in the air around the house, nobody sure what to say. The two former Children that had been staying here were digesting the terrible news they’d been handed. Once again, they were on the run for their lives. ‘And this time,’ Shinji thought, ‘they’re not going to spare me.’ Standing up from the table, he walked over to the small dresser near the bed and procured a backpack from the otherwise empty bottom drawer.

“And just what are you doing?” Asuka asked, walking over to him.

Taking a deep breath, Shinji prepared himself for what he’d have to say. “Rei…I want you to do me a favor.”

“Go on,” Rei said.

“Take Asuka to the others and go,” Shinji said. “I can’t-”

“Oh, the hell you are!” Asuka shouted., getting right in his face “What was all that about ‘I’m not going anywhere’?”

“Asuka…” Shinji began. “You know I meant every word when I said that…”

“Then why send me away now?” Asuka asked, small tears forming at the edges of her eyes.

“I can’t have you running with me,” Shinji said, not looking her in the eye. “I want you to go with Rei and everyone else, you’ll be safer.”

“And what about you?” Asuka questioned, grabbing him by the sleeve. “You think you’re just going out there to bait them away from us?”

“If that’s what it takes to keep you safe…” Shinji said quietly.

The slap hadn’t been a surprise to Shinji, but the force behind it certainly was. “I thought you loved me enough to trust my judgment,” Asuka said, feeling a few stray tears fall.

After rubbing his cheek, Shinji pulled Asuka into a tight hug. “I do. But this time just feels…different. I‘m afraid to lose you. And this time, it could really be over.”

“You think that thought’s not on my mind, too?” Asuka questioned softly. “I can’t…no, I won’t let you leave here alone.”

Sighing, Shinji pulled back slightly. “So what you’re saying is…you’re just too stubborn to get rid of?” he asked with a smirk.

“Damned right,” Asuka said, freeing one hand to wipe her eyes.

“Okay then,” Shinji began, releasing her, “gather what you’ll need. And remember, we’re traveling light.”

“Fine…” Asuka said, opening the two drawers that held her clothes. “But after a couple of mornings without makeup or showers, you’ll wish you hadn’t said that,” she finished with a grin.

Smiling at her, Shinji turned back towards Rei. “Guess that settles that, then.”

“I…see,” Rei said, the whole situation that had just played out puzzling her a bit. “Are you sure you will be alright?”

“I don’t know,” Shinji admitted, “but we’ll certainly try to keep one step ahead.”

“Where will you go in the short term?” Rei asked.

“Not sure,” Shinji answered. “For now, out of town and then out of the country. As to where…” He stopped to shake his head. “We’ll just see what we can catch in another city.”

“I understand,” Rei said, standing up and heading for the door. “Shinji…be safe.”

“Same to you, Rei,” Shinji replied. “Keep a close watch over Misato.”

Rei nodded, walking out the entrance and into the midday heat. Turning to see Asuka stuff a handful of clothes into the backpack, Shinji spoke up. “Got what you’ll need?”

“Actually, make that ‘we‘,” Asuka said. “I grabbed a handful for you, too.”

“Oh, okay,” Shinji said, taking the contents of the bag and placing them into the backpack. Except for the gun, which he handed to Asuka. “I want you to carry it. You were always a better shot than me.”

“Better fighter, too,” Asuka teased.

“I told you, I’m trying to reach your level,” Shinji teased back.

“And like I said,” Asuka continued, “that’ll be an uphill battle for you.” Both teens shared a short laugh, trying to squelch down the fear that coursed through them…knowing they were once again being hunted.

*****

Some time later, Shinji and Asuka found themselves walking back into the center of town. They hadn’t seen Rei, although that was hardly surprising. ‘She’d have to want to be found,’ he had thought, knowing full well how well he’d managed to avoid people back in Tokyo-2. And all the while, they had kept an eye on everyone and everything around them. No telling who were covert SEELE operatives and who were just vacationers. Both made a mental note to avoid large cities, if possible.

Asuka stopped in her tracks in front of a vehicle-rental agency. “Can’t go the whole way on foot,” she explained. “That’d take too damned long.” Shinji agreed, it certainly wasn’t a bad idea. Travel through the countryside would take days…and they would rather hurry to leave the island. Walking inside, both were greeted by a young man that couldn’t have been out of his mid-twenties.

“Something I can do for you?” the young man asked.

“We’re looking for whatever you’ve got,” Asuka spoke up, “preferably something fast.”

The young man gave a cursory look over both teens. “Don’t think either of you is old enough to drive.”

Shaking her head, Asuka continued. “Look…I don’t have the time or energy to explain. We just need transportation. Now.”

“I don’t want to get involved in anything that’ll get me fired,” the young man said, waving a hand.

“Oh, for the love of…” Asuka began, stopping to open the backpack up and rummage through it. Placing a small brick of yen down on the counter. “Let’s try this another way,” she started, a wide grin on her face, “what’ll this amount get us?”

The young man raised an eyebrow and picked up the money, looking over how much there was. His gaze went back and forth between them. Sighing, he finally spoke up. “Alright, I know when not to ask questions,” he said, reaching for a set of keys under the desk. “Left side of the building, second one from the end. It‘s worth close to what you gave me.” He tossed the keys to Shinji, who barely caught them. “I didn’t see you, you didn’t get it from me, right?”

“Sure, whatever you say,” Asuka said with a wink, walking back outside.

Shinji followed and soon found what the young man had ‘sold’ them: a large American-made motorcycle, which he’d once heard referred to as a ‘cruiser’. “Somehow I don’t think it’s worth what we gave for it,” he said with a hint of sarcasm.

Asuka shrugged. “Not like we’ll need the yen. We’re leaving Japan, after all…” Glancing down the street, she caught sight of a black sedan with three men inside watching them. “Shit…I think we’ve got company.”

Looking to see what she had, Shinji noticed it as well. A Section Two vehicle, he guessed. He’d seen them a few times before when they were with NERV. ‘Guess that mean’s they’re in Zero’s pocket now,’ he thought. Quickly affixing the backpack onto himself, he climbed on the bike and cranked it up. “Asuka, hurry and get on.”

Asuka nodded and climbed on the back of the bike. “Glad someone else’ll be doing the crazy driving this time,” she said, remembering the night she’d escaped Tokyo-3 with Shinji.

“Hold on tight,” Shinji said, giving the engine a quick rev and kicking down on the starter.

Asuka gripped tightly onto Shinji as he started the bike slowly down the road, not daring to look behind him. Keeping at a leisurely pace, they soon came out onto one of the main roads in town.

And that’s where the slow pace ended as the sedan they’d seen came barreling out of the alleyway.

“So much for hoping they hadn’t seen us,” Shinji thought aloud, quickly accelerating to a high speed to avoid the car. Darting between other vehicles, he tried to get lost in the semi-busy crowd. But the car just kept up with them, never more than a car length or two behind. ‘Think, Shinji,’ he told himself, ‘how to lose them?’ A glance down a small side street gave him an idea.

Taking a hard right into the narrow passage, Shinji braced himself for a set of short steps they’d have to go down. Another set of steps back up also gave them both a slight jolt. “You could’ve warned me!” Asuka shouted.

“Sorry,” Shinji muttered, a smile just creeping onto his features. Coming back out onto a larger street, he quickly turned in the direction of the main road out of the city. After only a few feet further, the black sedan wheeled around from another street and continued its pursuit.

“Damn persistent,” Shinji said, looking for a way away from their hunters. Movement at his back brought his attention to the passenger with him. “Asuka, what are you-”

“Just pay attention to driving,” Asuka cut him off, opening the backpack and reaching into it, “I’ve got an idea.”

‘Uh-oh,’ Shinji thought, remembering a few of Asuka’s ‘ideas’ from the past. A few seconds later, he felt her attempting to cross around him to the front of the bike.

“Can’t shoot from my angle,” Asuka explained, motioning for Shinji to lift his right arm higher. He did so without releasing the handlebar, letting her slide under it and in front of him. “Don’t go getting any idea right now,” she teased, “it’s definitely bad timing.”

Shinji felt himself heat up a little, but kept his eyes on the road. Asuka was currently in his lap, her arms around him and the M9 in her hand. Shaking his head slightly, he focused all he could on evasion.

Asuka lined up and took three quick shots at the front glass of the sedan…only to see them crack it slightly. “Goddamn bulletproof windows…” she fumed under her breath. “Try to get around their side,” she spoke in his ear.

Shinji nodded. “Just hang on tight,“ he said softly. He pulled the bike into a hard left and waited for the car to pass them. As it did, the driver tried to make the same move, almost tipping the car. Asuka used this short window to fire several rounds at the tires that were still touching ground. The tires ruptured, continuing the car’s spin until it was overturned in the middle of the busy street and still skidding on its roof.

“All the break we’ll need right there,” Asuka said, looking at the overturned car. Shinji nodded, revving the bike up again and resuming the trip out of town. The redhead looked down at her companion, an almost calm smile on his face. “Don’t tell me you’re enjoying this?”

Shinji looked at Asuka through his peripheral vision. “It’s not that…”

“Then what’s with that look?” Asuka asked.

Shinji’s smile didn‘t drop in the least. “I…think I’m enjoying the bike. It just feels so…free.”

“Then maybe one day, when this is all over with, we’ll see about Misato letting you keep one,“ Asuka said with a smile, giving him a small kiss. “That’s your reward for getting us out of there,” she explained. Then a physical sensation from her lap caused her look to darken. “I thought I told you not to get any ideas…”

“Vibration from the bike, I promise,” Shinji said, his smile remaining and a slight blush on his face.

“Uh-huh,” Asuka teased, moving back into her initial position behind him. “You just keep telling yourself that, mister Ikari.”

Shinji released the breath he’d been holding and decided to concentrate on the highway leading out of Osaka…

*****

Meanwhile, one of the men in the car pulled himself from the vehicle. One of his passengers was conscious but badly injured, while the other was out cold. Pulling a phone from his coat, he pressed one of the quick-dial numbers and prepared himself for the person on the other line.

“I’m listening,” a voice with a thick Russian accent said.

“Sir, I’m afraid we’ve lost the Second and Third Children,” the agent said.

There was a long silence on the other end. “They knew you were coming?”

“One of our men was found near where they were staying,” the agent replied. “Eliminated, sir.”

“There’s always one who takes his work too far,” the voice said. “His ignorance got him killed. What should be your excuse?”

“My apologies, sir,” the agent said, wiping his forehead with his sleeve. “They were able to avoid us and cause our vehicle to become…incapable of further pursuit.”

“You underestimated them,” the voice spoke.

“We did, sir. I have no excuses,” the agent admitted.

“It is of no real consequence,” the voice said. “We can reacquire them anytime. Just do not fail me again.”

“Yes, sir,” the agent replied, putting the phone back into his coat.

*****

A few hours later, four people were currently working their way through the dense forests of the Japanese countryside. And two of them hadn’t had to spend any real time away from civilization. “Ugh…never did like hiking,” Misato Katsuragi said with a heavy breath, hefting a large bag.

“We must avoid detection wherever we can,” Rei said. “I had though that was understood.”

“It was,” Misato replied, wishing she’d had just a few hours more sleep. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“C’mon, Misato…why not enjoy the trip while we can?” Kaji Ryoji spoke up. He was following close behind, one hand on the sidearm at his hip.

“Hey, some of us never spent time camping!” Misato answered, irritation in her tone.

“At least I’m not complaining,” Ritsuko Akagi said, sweating lightly and wishing she wasn’t so used to wearing heels.

“See? Even Ritsu’s settled into the pattern of things,” Kaji offered.

“Not like there’s any real choice in the matter…” Misato said under her breath. “Rei, just where are we headed? There’s no airports near here…”

“No, there are none,” Rei replied. “But we are not traveling by ordinary means.”

“Didn’t think it’d be that easy,” Misato said, wishing they hadn’t needed to bring so many ‘essentials’. ‘And not one bit of alcohol…’ she thought sadly. After learning one of the Committee had survived, she’d needed a serious drink. ‘Can’t do that, though,’ she mused, ‘need to be clear and aware for anything.’ They’d been traveling through forests and dirt roads for several miles, all but Rei unaware of their destination.

Kaji noticed the major’s dark look and walked closer alongside her. “Something you want to talk about?” he asked.

Misato shook her head. “I’m worried about Shinji and Asuka…”

“I know,” Kaji said. “But Rei was sure they’ll be alright.”

“That doesn’t help me,” Misato replied, giving him a cross look. “They’re like my kids, for chrissakes.”

“I think it’s just as much that you don’t trust them by themselves,” Kaji said with his usual grin.

Misato gave him her meanest stare, hoping he’d just drop this. “Oh, please…it’s not like they’re us.”

“Something you’d like to share?” Ritsuko joked, walking between the two and past them. Noticing Rei’s stare, she spoke up. “What is it?”

“It is nothing more than an observation, but,” Rei began, turning back to continue the hike, “I find your natural hair color more fitting.”

Ritsuko blinked a few times. The blonde coloring had washed out of her hair weeks ago, but it was the first time anyone but Misato and Kaji had seen it.

“I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable,” Rei spoke up at the scientist’s silence. “It was merely an observation I made.”

“No, it’s alright,” Ristuko said, shaking her head. “Listen…Rei, I-”

“If this is about the past, let us leave it there,” Rei cut in.

Ritsuko nodded, keeping pace behind the albino girl. “I just wanted to say…I’ve let it go.”

“I do not understand,” Rei said.

“I had a lot of…animosity towards you,” Ritsuko admitted. “Gendo favored you, and it just made me feel like I was playing second-fiddle.”

“You know it was because of my…purpose,” Rei said.

“Yeah,” Ritsuko answered, “but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t apologize for it.”

“There is no need,” Rei said. “All is forgiven and forgotten.”

“Thanks,” Ritsuko offered with a small smile. Rei just nodded and continued leading the group towards their destination…

*****

Right around then, Shinji pulled the bike into the Tokyo-2 city limits. The ride had been quiet (aside from the sound of the engine) and he had marveled at the feeling of freedom it brought him. ‘Yeah, definitely going to consider keeping one when this is over,’ he thought. Maneuvering the bike into a small side street further into town, he shut it off and turned to his passenger. “Alright, time to go on foot,” he said.

Asuka nodded and released her hold on his midsection. Stretching, she turned to see Shinji staring sadly at the bike. “Rides pretty good, huh?” she asked.

“Yeah, much better than an EVA,” Shinji answered. “Hate to know the money we spent on it…”

“Hey, it‘s only money…you can‘t take it with you,” Asuka said with a shrug. “Maybe we could paint it up to match Unit-01, a way for someone to know it’s yours?”

Shinji just laughed and shook his head, leading the way out onto the city streets. They both knew they had to get out of the country. On the way here, they’d decided by sea was a pretty good idea. ‘Not that many people travel that way these days,’ he thought.

Moving towards the docks, Shinji was reminded of the last time he’d been here. As he looked about the various ships, one name jumped out at him. ‘There’s no way…’ he thought, his pace quickening.

As the two approached the ship, a figure standing near the entry plank became aware of their presence. Turning towards them, he spoke up. “Well, I’ll be damned…” Mathieu said, “didn‘t think I‘d see you again, lad.”

Shinji reached out a hand to the old captain. “Good to see you again, sir.”

Shaking the offered hand, Mathieu smiled warmly. “Heh…good to see young people with some real manners,” he said. He then looked over at Asuka. “Ah…traveling with a girlfriend, are we?”

Shinji’s cheeks reddened at the words. “Y-you could say that…”

“And what might your name be, lass?” Mathieu asked.

“Asuka, sir,” Asuka replied, bowing slightly. “Heard from Shinji how you helped him out. I guess I ought to thank you.”

“Oh, there’s no need for that,” Mathieu said, “I wasn’t going to let a boy his age drown at sea.” Turning back towards Shinji, he continued. “Guess that means you’ve sorted out why you were out there to begin with…”

“Not quite yet,” Shinji said, his expression dropping slightly. “I’m afraid I’ll need to ask you for a favor.”

“Still as full of mysteries as I remember,” Mathieu mused. “Well, what do you need?”

“Where are you headed?” Shinji questioned.

“Across the ocean to America,” Mathieu answered. “Got some work just off the northwestern coast. Just gathering what we’ll need for the trip there.”

“Could you take us with you?” Shinji asked, looking about the docks for anyone eavesdropping. “I can’t explain it right now, but we need to get out of the country…”

Mathieu looked from one to the other, studying their expressions. “Never seen kids your age in what seems like so much trouble…”

“Look,“ Asuka began, “we can pay you if you want-”

“Ah, keep your money,” Mathieu said, moving up the entry plank. “I just expect you to tell me everything later.”

“Thank you, sir,” Shinji said, moving aside to let Asuka board first.

“Don’t thank me yet,” Mathieu added. “I still don’t know your side of the story. And I have been curious about that for some time.”

Leading them down below deck, Mathieu pointed to the bunk room. “We’ve got a couple of spare cots you’re welcome to,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” they both said together.

Mathieu motioned for them to follow him into his private quarters. Inside, Shinji and Asuka took seats at a small table and waited for the captain to speak. He searched through a small cabinet and retrieved a bottle full of light brown liquid. “You’ll not mind if I have a drink while listening?” Both shook their heads. Placing a glass before each of them and one for himself, he poured a small amount in all three glasses.

“Uh…I don’t drink,” Shinji spoke up.

“Figured as much,” Mathieu said, “you both look pretty damned young. But I’d feel better not drinking alone. At least have one.”

Shinji looked over to Asuka, who just shrugged and gave him a weak smile. “Alright then, guess we’ll join you for one.”

“There’s a good lad,” Mathieu said, seating himself and raising his glass. “Here’s to a safe trip.”

Shinji and Asuka both raised their glasses to his. After tapping the three together lightly, they downed the liquid. Almost immediately, the two former pilots made noises somewhere between choking and gasping.

“Heh…whiskey is always a bit strong for first-timers,” Mathieu said, pouring himself another shot.

The burning in his throat subsiding, Shinji spoke up first. “I hope it’s not all like that. I’d wonder what Misato likes about it.”

“Nah, beer’s not like that at all,” Asuka said, finding her voice again but the look on her face remaining. Noticing Shinji’s odd expression, she continued. “What? So I’ve snuck one or two of hers away before, it’s not like she‘d notice…”

Shinji smiled and turned back towards Mathieu. “Well, I guess we do owe you an explanation…” And over the next few hours, he recounted most of the events leading here…the Angels, the EVAs, NERV, SEELE, every last important detail…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Not much to say here at this time, just that you should stick around for the rest.

One new thing I’d like to try: matching up scenes to specific music. Think of it as a visit to my personal mental theater. And as long as this is my Hollywood action/thriller take on EVA, I figured trying to make a (partial) soundtrack for it was only fitting.

For the motorcycle chase scene, find and listen to The Little Things by Danny Elfman (it‘s on the Wanted soundtrack).

We'll save the omake for Supremacy's last chapter. The girls need their rest, after all.

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby Someone » Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:17 pm

Can't wait for the Ikari Testament.

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:36 am

^ That's not one of the titles. Has a nice ring to it, though.

Anyway...arc two, chapter two. Another little side note first, however: there is a continuation of the last scene of this chapter. Unfortunately, I can't put it up here (y'know, site rules about, ahem, certain content and all)...but it's not like it's all that difficult to find (hint: consider the obvious location, it's probably right).

The Ikari Supremacy ch2  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI SUPREMACY

Chapter 2: Enjoy the Silence

*****

Meanwhile, back on the mainland, the others were still traveling to wherever Rei was leading them. “Geez, how much longer?” Misato said, the day’s walk grating on her nerves.

Ritsuko sighed. “I swear, you complain out loud one more time-”

“We are here,” Rei spoke up, interrupting the two women.

“Huh?” Misato asked, looking around the area. It was a small clearing in an otherwise dense forest. A small hill nearby, no homes…nothing out of the ordinary. “I…don’t see anything, Rei.”

Rei didn’t respond, only walking over to the hill and gripping its edge while pulling back. The others soon realized the hill to be a tarp as it fell away to reveal something metal beneath. “A VTOL?” Misato asked.

“Indeed,” Rei answered, “this will be our transport.”

“And just why is this here?” Kaji questioned.

“This was my insertion vehicle while I…worked for the Commander,” Rei explained. “It has remained prepared and ready for some time.”

“Rei, remind me when this is over that I owe you a drink,” Misato said, walking over to the hatch.

“Stop,” Rei said with some volume. “Do not walk any further.” Removing a small device from her bag, she keyed in a quick sequence, a beep sounding from the craft afterwards. “It is safe now.”

“Safe for what?” Misato asked.

“Explosive trigger,” Rei stated, opening the door inside. “If you were to try open the hatch with it armed, it would be equivalent to one-twentieth of an N2 mine.”

“Uh…thanks, then,” Misato said, her eyes wide.

The others followed Rei inside the vehicle, closing the hatch tightly and placing their supplies in the small cargo hold. “Wait…who’s flying this thing?” Ritsuko asked. “Last I checked, neither of you were pilots of any kind,” she said, motioning to Misato and Kaji.

“I will,” Rei stated, taking her seat in the cockpit.

“Figured as much,” Kaji said, taking a seat behind her. “Ladies, buckle up. This may be a bumpy ride.”

“I am quite accomplished, I assure you,” Rei said, no humor in her tone.

“And just how are we going to remain undetected in this?” Misato asked.

“This model was built without any tracking apparatus,” Rei answered, flipping switches and going through the usual startup routine. “Commander’s orders.” With startup finished, she then pulled back on the steering column, raising the craft above the ground.

As the VTOL began to climb above the treeline, Misato took one last look out the window at the Japanese countryside. ‘Shinji…Asuka…’ she thought, ‘I hope you’re both safe and hidden.’

*****

Meanwhile, with his story finished, Shinji fell silent along with the two other current occupants of the captain’s quarters. “Well, that’s…” Mathieu began, shaking his head at the information he’d been handed, “that’s pretty far out there, I’ll give you both that.”

“All I promised was the truth, sir,” Shinji said. “Nothing more.”

Mathieu kicked back another shot, his fourth since the discussion began. “Always knew something strange was happening in Tokyo-3,” he said, “damned Angels appearing and all…”

“Not that anyone else had much of a clue what was underneath it all,” Asuka added, “not even us.”

“Weird thinking back on it now,” Mathieu thought aloud.

“What’s that?” Shinji asked.

Mathieu leaned back in his chair. “Let’s see…it had to have been nearly five months ago,” he began. “I was still working this stretch of coast then, and that one Angel fell outta the damned sky was visible clearly from out there. And all I could think was, ‘What kind of person would be up to fighting such things?’. Heh…funny it turned out to be people almost a quarter my age. And two of them were you, no less!”

Shinji and Asuka both shared a smile at the captain’s reminiscing, bringing them both back to a time before things became…complicated. Well, complicated for them at least.

“Hell, I’m honored to have you both onboard now,” Mathieu said, standing up and placing the bottle and glasses back into their place.

“Oh, there’s no need for that…” Shinji said nervously. Asuka remained quiet, feeling glad for the first time in a while of her previous accomplishments.

“Not too surprising to hear governments are still using children to wage war for them, though,” Mathieu added sadly.

“What do you mean?” Asuka questioned.

“Miss,” Mathieu began, “a long time before Second Impact, that was the way a lot of poorer countries filled out their armies: child soldiers. Saw a lot of it in the service, broke my heart every time…”

“Service?” Shinji asked.

“Ah…British army,” Mathieu explained. “Did my duty up until Second Impact. After that, well…there were more pressing matters than needing to go to war. It’s amazing the people that get brought together while surviving.”

“Yeah, we can relate to that,” Asuka said, giving Shinji a slight grin.

“But it just goes to show how little we’ve come since,” Mathieu continued. “Still using children to fight wars. Not just against other people this time, but also things from science fiction.” He looked at the wall clock. “Ah, look at me. Ramblin’ on like a man twenty years older…I should really quit botherin’ the both of you.”

“Oh, you’re not bothering us in the least, sir,” Shinji said. “It’s nice to just have a conversation to…take the edge off, so to speak.”

Mathieu nodded. “Aye…you’ve both still got some serious things to deal with,” he said, remembering why they needed a ride across the ocean.

“And deal with them we shall,” Asuka chimed in, a determined look in her eye and an edge to her voice.

Mathieu gave a short, hearty laugh. “Now that’s the spirit, lass! I can only reckon you’ll give ‘em all nine levels of Hell in one go.”

“Oh, you just don’t know the half of it,” Shinji replied with a smile. “On a bad enough day, I figure Asuka could take down the entire JSSDF by herself.”

“Maybe with Unit-02, you mean,” Asuka said proudly.

“I dunno, your moods can be…extreme,” Shinji said, wincing at his own understatement.

“Then you’ve just got to keep me in a good one until then,” Asuka finished, giving him a playful hit on the arm.

Mathieu gave another small laugh at their exchange. “Ah, youth. Something I wish I could buy more of,” he mused.

Shinji turned to the captain. “Hey…can I ask you something?”

“Sure thing, m’boy,” Mathieu replied.

“Is there anything I could do onboard?” Shinji asked. “You said we’re going to be three or four days from shore, and I don’t want to feel like a fifth wheel around here.”

“Nonsense,” Mathieu offered, “you’re my guests. Why on Earth should you feel the need to-”

“Trust me,” Asuka cut in, “it’s just his way. He was always like that around the apartment.”

“Well, since you put it that way…” Mathieu started, “what can you do?”

“I…I’ve been told I’m a fairly good cook,” Shinji said, his face a bit red. He hated to flaunt any talent around others.

“I suppose I’m fine with that,” Mathieu concluded. “I can tell you for certain our cook’s gonna love you for this. Man can be a right lazy bastard some days.”

The two teens shared the captain in a good laugh before all three departed from his quarters. Before leaving to walk out on deck, Asuka gave Shinji a quick peck on the cheek and a wink. The boy smiled brightly before continuing to follow Mathieu to the kitchen area…

*****

Several hours later, the others found themselves deep inside Russian airspace and nearing a landing site near NERV Russia. “We will be touching down shortly,” Rei informed them.

“And just how long a walk from there?” Misato asked. Her feet still ached from their hike the day before.

“No more than a few miles,” Rei stated. “It was a necessary precaution for escape.”

“Always planning three steps ahead, eh?” Kaji questioned.

“No…five is how many I was trained to stay ahead,” Rei answered.

Kaji stared at the former First Child. ‘Real nice work you’ve done with this one, Gendo,’ he thought darkly. He could only hope it was less ingrained in Asuka or Shinji.

“Are you so sure we’ll find anything here?” Ritsuko asked.

“No,” Rei admitted, “but even if it is not, it could lead us elsewhere.”

“Is that why you brought me?” Ritsuko continued. “To pick their MAGI’s brains?”

Rei shook her head. “Only a partial reason, Dr. Akagi. I would not have left you in that bunker to be found by SEELE operatives. The major would not have forgiven me.”

“Oh…” Ritsuko said, sitting further back in her seat.

“We are here,” Rei announced, maneuvering the craft over a small canyon. “There is no forest cover here, so this location is a necessity.” After touching down, she turned to the others. “Arm yourselves before exiting. We do not know who will be awaiting us.”

“Gotcha,” Misato said, unbuckling herself and heading towards the cargo bay. Along the wall were several different assault weapons of varying calibers. “Variety is the spice of death,” she mused. “Think I’ll just stick with my regular,” she said, looking down at her NERV-issued handgun.

“Very well,” Rei said, picking up an M4 from the rack. She walked out of the craft and kept her weapon ready, looking for any movement other than them. The sun was just beginning to set, night still a couple of hours away. “We must stay low until darkness has fallen.”

The four walked in slow silence for a while, out of the canyon and onto the otherwise flat expanse of land around the area. “At least there’s nothing here to see us,” Kaji said.

“No, the area around the Russian branch is desolate,” Rei replied. “Nothing to see us, but almost nowhere to hide.”

“Always a downside to an upside,” Misato said, remembering an old saying.

The trip resumed in silence. As the sun finally set, they reached a gathering of small burned-out structures. Rei walked over to one of the buildings, pointing her weapon in through the window. Not getting any reaction from inside, she quickly opened the door and motioned for the rest to enter.

“Now what do you suppose this place was?” Kaji asked.

“I’m guessing either an observation post,” Ritsuko offered, “or a deserted town. Whichever it was, it’s been empty for a while. There‘s dust covering everything.”

“Indeed,” Rei said. “I used this as an outpost once before.” Moving towards the window, she removed a pair of binoculars from the pack they’d brought. Searching the horizon for any activity, she caught sight of something at their destination. “I am afraid we will be here for a while.”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Misato said, looking out the window near the girl.

“I am unsure who they are,” Rei began, “but there are several vehicles parked around the perimeter of the NERV branch here. Military, I am sure of that much.”

“Probably a purge,” Kaji said. “By the time we get there, there may not be anything left.”

“Regardless, we shall wait,” Rei concluded. “There are far too many of them to approach head-on.”

“Well…settle in, folks,” Misato half-heartedly joked, “it’s gonna be a long night. Or two.”

*****

The next day, Shinji stood out on the deck of the ship feeling the midday sun and the sea wind. It was such a contrast to the day before, calming and feeling more like his and Asuka’s stay in Osaka.

Then Shinji felt two slender arms encircle him. “I can still sneak up on you so easily,” Asuka said into his ear. “That’s a bad sign for someone looking to hide.”

“Not when we’re on the same skill level,” Shinji said with a blush.

Asuka released Shinji and stood beside him at the side of the ship, leaning along the railing. “You sleep alright?” she asked.

“Not the most comfortably, but yeah,” Shinji replied. The cots they were given were barely larger than they were and a bit stiff, but it was better than no sleep.

“Shame there’s no shower…” Asuka mused.

“Tell you what,” Shinji offered, “first thing we’ll do once we arrive is get a hotel room. Then you can take as long a shower as you want. Deal?”

“Sounds good,” Asuka said, turning to look at him. “Why can’t all men be as accommodating as you?”

“Does that mean you consider me a man now?” Shinji teased.

Asuka gave him a small shove. “Not hardly. More of a general thought, really.”

The two shared a short laugh after that. “You know…” Shinji began.

“Hmm? What’s that?” Asuka questioned.

“It just occurred to me…this is how we first met,” Shinji said with a smile.

“You mean at sea?” Asuka asked, remembering back to that time.

“Yeah,” Shinji reminisced. “God, it’s been just over six months, but it feels like a lifetime ago.”

“It was, in a way,” Asuka said. “Honest question: what was your first impression of me?”

“You really want the answer to that?” Shinji asked back.

“Yeah, sure,” Asuka replied. “I can take the truth, y’know…”

Shinji sighed heavily before continuing. “I thought you were beautiful…easily one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen. And you stood in this way that said you had nothing but confidence. And then you opened your mouth…”

Asuka cut him off with a small punch. “Hey!”

“…and while I heard insulting things come out of it,” Shinji continued as if she hadn’t hit him, “I couldn’t help but think of how you sounded. Speaking of which…one of these days, I‘d love to hear you sing.”

“Oh…” Asuka said, turning away to hide her blush. “I thought you were going to say something you’d regret.” She lowered her head a bit. “You remember what my first impression of you was, huh?”

Shinji smiled at the memory. “Oh yes. I believe the words were, ‘Such a boring little boy’.”

“That didn’t mean I didn’t find you cute…” Asuka admitted. “You were just such an apologetic doormat back then. And you still hang on to some of that.”

“I thought you found that endearing,” Shinji teased.

“Oh, I don’t mind being worshipped,” Asuka said, “not at all. And these last few weeks, you haven’t fallen back on that much. Besides…” She turned towards him. “I know you really love me.”

Shinji said nothing, just smiling at her and turning back to watch the horizon…

*****

Back in Russia, the others had taken turns keeping watch while the rest caught whatever sleep they could. It was currently Misato’s turn, and she was both anxious and sober…dangerous qualities for the former NERV major. “Wish they’d move on already,” she said for the seventh time that hour, “I hate waiting for something to happen.”

A small hand on her shoulder caused Misato to jump a little. “I did not mean to alarm you,” Rei said, taking a seat next to her.

“It’s alright,” Misato said, giving the girl a smile. “I’m just getting antsy waiting for them to make a move.”

“I do not understand,” Rei stated.

“I guess you’re just a lot more patient than I am,” Misato admitted. “This waiting around and not knowing about Shinji and Asuka is really unnerving me.”

“You should not worry about them,” Rei said. “They seemed ready to protect one another.”

“They have been getting closer since he reappeared,” Misato replied. “Not that I didn’t see it before…”

“What do you mean?” Rei asked.

“Oh, they’ve tried to hide it,” Misato explained, “but I could see though them both after a while. All they really needed was to see past the other’s bullshit. Something it took Kaji and I years to do.”

“I…see,” Rei said, not really understanding but satisfied with the major’s explanation.

“I just hope you’ll find a nice guy yourself one day,” Misato said, smiling at the girl. “You’re just as entitled to be happy as they are.” She sighed heavily. “Still wish I could get ahold of a beer, though…”

“Your shift is nearly up,” Rei began, rummaging around in a bag, “so I shall give you this as well as take up your watch.” She pulled her hand out of the bag, a can of Yebisu in her grip. “I grabbed it before leaving the bunker. I am afraid it is the only one you had left.”

Misato’s eyes lit up at the sight. “Rei…I swear, I could kiss you,” she said, accepting the gift. ‘It’s warm, but I couldn’t give a damn,’ she thought happily.

Rei blushed slightly. “I…do not think that would be a good idea.”

“It’s just a saying, don’t take it literally,” Misato said, popping the top and gulping down the can’s contents in one long drink. She barely suppressed making her usual post-beer shout. ‘Bad idea right now,’ she thought. “Oh God, that hit the spot,” she said. “Thanks a lot, Rei.”

“You are welcome,” Rei said. “Now I shall take up the watch. Get some rest.”

“Hey, no need to tell me twice,” Misato said, moving over to an area under the window to get whatever sleep she could…

*****

Day two onboard Mathieu’s boat was once again all quiet. Shinji busied himself in the galley for most of the day, while Asuka saw fit to use part of the deck to work on her tan…after warning the deckhands to keep well away from her or she‘d show them just how dangerous she was over anything in the sea.

During the afternoon lull on day three, Asuka decided that a bit of fun was in order. She found Shinji relaxing out near the bow of the ship, deep in thought. Walking up to him, she whispered her plan into the boy’s ear. Blinking a few times, a smile formed on his face as he understood what she meant to do.

Moving out onto an empty portion of the deck, Shinji and Asuka began to spar like they had done so often in Osaka. The difference being that, this one time, each one clearly telegraphed every move to the other. Not that anyone who watched would be able to tell, both of them moving faster than a normal fight would go. But every punch was pulled, every move exaggerated…all of which soon drew the attention of everyone else on board.

The sounds of cheers and applause were lost to the two former Children as they continued their own form of ballet, both a testament to their skill as well as their unison training close to a year earlier. Both couldn’t hide the smiles on their faces as they moved about one another, dodging and ‘landing’ blows. It had become a form of bonding for them, and both didn’t mind the audience that had gathered. Asuka had been looking to break some tension (as well as boredom), and Shinji was all too happy to help her out. After all, he knew the redhead loved playing to a crowd.

They kept this going for nearly an hour, both sweating and starting to run out of breath. Asuka decided it was time to go in for the kill and shot Shinji a wink. He nodded, understanding what she was getting at. He went for a high kick that the redhead cleanly dodged while bringing her own leg around to wrap around the remaining limb he was using for support. He collapsed onto the deck with her standing over him, a wide smirk on her face.

“First one knocked down loses,” Asuka stated, extending a hand to him. “That was what we agreed on.”

Shinji accepted the hand, unable to do anything but smile. As he looked around the deck, he saw the workers currently collecting and paying bets that had been taken during the match. It seemed like Asuka had been favored to win. ‘More like she set it up,’ Shinji thought, smiling brightly. ‘Wouldn’t be surprising, really.’ Glancing over to her, he saw the redhead all too happy with her ‘victory’, bowing to the crowd a few times before walking back to her companion.

“Was it good for you?” Asuka asked, a genuine smile on her face.

“Great for me,” Shinji answered, still trying to catch his breath. “You set the house against me, didn’t you?”

“Why, whatever do you mean?” Asuka questioned in a voice heavy with sarcasm.

As the workers dispersed, the two teens laid out on the deck and shared a laugh. For one brief moment, they had forgotten they were on the run and hiding from greater powers…

*****

Meanwhile, it was the third night for the other group. Their days and nights had passed much more slowly, with the adults occasionally bringing out a deck of cards to keep themselves from being driven nuts by the lack of activity from the base. Rei was currently on watch, keeping her gaze fixed on the mostly-underground structure in the distance. She was used to watching targets for some time before an opportunity would present itself. That didn’t mean she didn’t know boredom, however…she just couldn’t put a word to that feeling.

Suppressing a yawn, Rei took a moment to check the condition of her weapon. A quick field-strip and reassemble later, she returned to her surveillance. After a few more minutes, there was a flurry of activity near the base entrance. She could make out shapes piling outside and into the APCs and VTOLs nearby, making a quick exit. ‘Time to go,’ she thought.

Rei moved away from the window to wake the others. A moment before she would get there, though, a flash of light and heat drew her attention back towards the opening she had been watching out of. Misato immediately jumped awake, drawing her gun towards the sudden rush of noise. “Wh…where are they?” she shouted, aiming around the room.

“There is no one but us,” Rei said. Outside, she could see what had happened: the base had been all but erased from the Earth, what little of it that was above ground collapsing into the dirt.

Kaji was at the ready just after Misato‘s outburst, staring out at the now-rising tower of smoke and flame. “Oh, just great…” he mused, walking over to the window.

“Guess that means it was a purge,” Ritsuko stated, rubbing her head and trying to regain her footing after such a jarring wake-up call. “What a mess…”

Misato stood by the window, looking out at the destruction. “Fuck!” she exclaimed, hitting a nearby wall with her fist. “Three days here and every bit of it wasted.” She slumped against the wall a bit, the tension in her body just ready to burst.

“There was nothing we could do,” Rei explained. “Whoever was here only just evacuated, most likely triggering a remote detonation. And there were far too many of them to make it anything but a suicide mission.”

“I know, but…” Misato replied, stopping to sigh. “It’s just frustrating as hell, you know?”

“I understand,” Rei answered, slinging her rifle over one shoulder, “but we must move on. This facility is lost.”

Kaji nodded, helping Misato to stand up straight. “You alright?” he asked.

Misato shook her head, giving him a weak smile. “Yeah…just not the best way to wake up.”

“No kidding,” Ritsuko stated flatly. “I’m used to some coffee, at least.”

Rei looked back to them after checking for anyone watching nearby. “All clear,“ she said. The others quickly gathered what they’d brought from the VTOL and headed outside to make the journey back to the craft…

*****

Right then, it was just after noon on the fourth day as the boat arrived at New Portland. Walking out onto the deck, Shinji was struck by just how much the city felt like Tokyo-2. The grey skies, sea air, and light rain all reminded him of the first time he‘d been in the city they had departed from. ‘Must be something about port cities,’ he thought.

After pulling in to the harbor, the crew began affixing the ship to the dock. Asuka joined Shinji outside, carrying the backpack they’d brought along. “Well, so much for a sunny entrance…” she said under her breath.

“Can’t enjoy a sunny day without some rainy ones,” Shinji stated with a shrug as they walked over to the captain, standing near the exit plank.

“I suppose this is where we’re parting company,” Mathieu said.

Shinji bowed to the man. “We really appreciate all you’ve done for us, sir.”

“Ah, come on now,” Mathieu replied. “After that story of yours, I should be in debt to both of you.”

“Still,” Asuka began, her hand outstretched palm-side down, “thanks for letting us hitch a ride.”

“Anytime, miss Sohryu,” Mathieu said, shaking the girl’s hand. Upon pulling his hand back, he found it now contained a wad hundred-dollar bills. “Hey now, I told you-”

“We insist, sir,” Shinji cut in. “We agreed that we wouldn’t feel right about leaving you empty-handed for all your help.”

Mathieu flipped the bills in his hands. “Must be almost five grand here…”

“An even five, sir,” Asuka said. “We felt that was a fair amount for you.”

“And please,” Shinji offered, “think of it as a gift, not payment.”

Mathieu smiled warmly at them both. “Heh, never thought I’d see youngsters with such manners again. I thought they’d all gone the way of all extinct things…” He placed a firm hand on Shinji’s shoulder. “Shinji Ikari, you’re a good man. Never let anyone tell you any different.”

Shinji smiled nervously, a small blush on his face. “Th…thank you, sir.”

Mathieu motioned over to Asuka. “You take care of her, you hear?”

“There’s no need to worry about that,” Shinji answered. “I’d lay down my life for her.”

“But let’s not let it come to that, eh?” Mathieu said. Turning towards Asuka, he addressed her. “You’ve got a right good one here, lass. Don’t let him get away.”

“Like he’d want to get away,” Asuka replied with a smirk, “or could, for that matter…I’d hunt his ass down and show him what angry really is.”

Mathieu let out a short laugh at her statement. “Ah, of course you would.” As the two walked off the ship, he called out to them. “Godspeed to you both. May the winds of fortune be at your backs.”

Shinji gave one final wave before answering. “And to you, as well.” Turning to Asuka, he continued. “Alright, let’s get moving.” Nodding, she kept to his side as they traveled out into the city. Both were careful to avoid parts of town heavy with people or businesses, trying to avoid detection from any potential SEELE agents.

Five hours later, they found themselves on a dirt road well outside of the city and approaching a small stop-over town. Taking in their surroundings, Shinji noted a convenience store and a hotel were the highlights of this area, with a military surplus store just down the way. ‘Better make do with what we’ve got,’ he thought. ‘Stocking up for a while might not be a bad idea.’

Another hour passed as the teens picked up essentials for the short-term: food that could be eaten with a minimum of cooking (or none at all), survival gear (knife, compass, a map of the local area), and a set of clothes for each that were more suited to the weather here (what they had brought with them was for a warm and sunny climate, which seemed to be in short supply here).

The purchases stuffed into a large rucksack, Shinji and Asuka traveled across the way to the hotel. Walking inside, they were met by a bearded man in his early thirties watching a television sitting on the desk. “You need somethin’?” he asked, not looking up at them.

“Yeah, a room for the night,” Asuka said.

Glancing over, the manager looked from one to the other. “You both look kinda young. I need either valid ID or an adult to-”

Asuka cut him off by slapping a hundred-dollar bill on the counter. “Just give us a room, no questions asked, and you can keep the rest.”

The manager gave her a shrug and took a key from the wall. “Hey, whatever you say,” he replied. “Room 119, knob’s a little hard to work.”

“Thanks,” Shinji said as Asuka took the key and walked out of the office. Following close behind her, they soon came to the room number he’d told them. Placing the key in the lock and turning, she found the manager hadn’t been kidding about the knob’s difficulty. ‘God, I’ll bet it’s a wreck…’ she thought, not looking forward to the condition of the room itself.

Opening the door, they were both pleasantly surprised to find the room not as dirty or damaged as either had expected. “You know,” Asuka said as they entered, closing the door behind her, “this isn’t nearly as much of a fleabag as I thought.”

Shinji shrugged, putting the backpack and rucksack on the floor. “Probably gave us the nicest one. Sign said this place’s nightly rate was only forty,” he said, removing the M9 from the backpack and placing it on the nightstand next to the bed. ‘Just in case…’ he thought.

“Then we only overpaid a little,” Asuka replied, laying back on the bed. “Oh dear God, it’s nice to have a normal bed again.”

“Those cots weren’t that bad,” Shinji offered, sitting on the side of the bed and smiling at her.

“I think that just proves you got too used to a futon for too long,” Asuka said, sighing. Looking over at Shinji, she returned the smile he was giving her. “Hey listen…how about you take the shower first?”

“Really?” Shinji asked, unsure. Asuka was, in all the time he’d known her, never one to give up the bathroom first.

“Yeah, sure,” Asuka said, looking away to stare up at the ceiling. “It’s been over half-a-week, another fifteen or twenty minutes isn’t going to kill me. And besides,” she paused, sitting up to lean over him seductively and put her head right next to his ear, “you kind of smell.”

Shinji felt himself heat up several degrees, never mind the words Asuka had used. She could say damn nearly anything in that tone, even reading from a phonebook, and it would affect him the same. “Uh…s-sure…” he managed, slowly standing up and heading for the bathroom. Closing and locking the door behind him, he let out a heavy sigh and slowly undressed.

Back in the main room, Asuka was trying to suppress a laugh at Shinji’s reaction. Even after living together by themselves for over a month, he was still able to be taken off-guard with the proper use of feminine charm. ‘Still, he can be cute when embarrassed,’ she thought with a grin. Hearing the water running from the bathroom, she picked up the remote and spent time searching through the channels. After several minutes, it became clear to her that American television sucked. ‘Nothing but reality shows,’ she thought. ‘At least in Japan, it was mostly animation and game shows…’

The water stopped almost ten minutes later, with Shinji leaving the bathroom after another five. Clad in only a towel around his waist, he tried to hide any blush on his face as he turned to Asuka. “All yours now,” he said, moving aside to let her in.

Asuka stood and walked over to him, a gleam in her eye. Looking him up and down slowly, she whispered in the same tone she’d used before he left. “You better not have done anything dirty in there, pervert…” And with that, she closed the door behind her.

Shinji let out the breath he’d been holding. He was used to Asuka’s teasing, but there was something else he couldn’t place this time. ‘I could swear she was…flirting with me,’ he thought with a laugh. ‘Nah, she’d never be that black-and-white about it.’ Quickly dressing himself for sleep, he had the same idea she had and searched through channels for something on. And came to much the same conclusion that the redhead had: there was nothing good on. So he simply laid back on the bed and listened to the shower running.

After showering, Asuka stood quietly in the bathroom. Wiping the fog off the mirror, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Here she was, just over fourteen and on the run for her life with a boy she had only just finally tried to understand. She knew what she felt, it had been the same as that night she and Shinji had first comforted one another.

“This is different…” Asuka whispered, tightly tucking the towel around her body and removing something from the pocket of her shorts. Placing it under the hem of the towel, she walked out into the main room. She found Shinji asleep on the bed, the lamp on the nightstand the only light in the room. There was a slight smile on his face, which made her smile as well. “Hey Shinji…” she spoke with only a small bit of volume.

Shinji opened his eyes slightly, sitting up in the middle of the bed. Rubbing his eyes, he looked over at Asuka and promptly turned an impressive shade of red. She stood at the edge of the bed covered in only a towel, her hair and skin still clearly damp. And then there was that look in her eyes that he hadn’t seen before. Finally regaining control of his voice, he spoke. “Asuka…what are y-”

Asuka placed a finger to her slightly parted lips, silencing him right there. She slowly climbed onto the bed and hovered over him, their bodies almost touching at several points. “What’s the matter?” she asked breathily. “A bit uncomfortable for you?”

Shinji swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “Why are you doing this?” he asked, feeling the heat from the shower still on her.

Asuka slowly removed herself from over him and sat on the edge of the bed. “I just wanted to be sexy for you,” she admitted. “Do you like it?”

Shinji couldn’t find the words after hearing that, only able to nod and stare. “But…why?”

“Because it’s easier than what I should say,” Asuka replied, looking away from him.

Shinji stayed quiet for a few seconds, thinking over her words. ‘What she should say?’ he thought. ‘What does that mean?’ A moment later, he realized what it was she was getting at. “I told you before, there’s-”

“-no need for me to say it,” Asuka finished for him, “that you can just feel it. But I don’t like that, it makes this all feel selfish. And you don’t deserve that…”

“But I told you…I’ll give you all the time you need,” Shinji offered, placing a hand on hers.

Asuka turned back to look at him with a serious expression. “And just what if this might be the last chance? What if one of us died tomorrow? I think time is something we don’t have.”

Shinji squeezed her hand softly. “I won’t let that happen.”

“But this time, they want you dead, too,” Asuka said, a tear almost falling. “This isn’t just me, this is us.”

Shinji shuddered a little at that thought. He’d done his best to keep it out of mind, but it was a possibility now. And here, they had no one to help them. Best-case scenario, the others were still half-a-world away from them. Worst-case…they were alone and there was no help.

“And right now, I want this to be different,” Asuka explained. “That first night, we were just crutches for each other. The next morning, I learned that wasn’t how you saw it. You freely admitted that you loved me and you regretted nothing. And it broke my heart just a little that I couldn’t return the words right then…”

Shinji sat quietly, listening to her explanation. He saw Asuka tremble a little at the last few words, clearly on the verge of crying.

“The way you’ve treated me these last few weeks has been the kindest I’ve ever been shown,” Asuka continued. “Hell, you’ve practically worshipped me! And every day, I felt the need to say it just a little more. Then everything was turned upside-down again, and here we are…far out of our comfort zone and with our lives in our hands.” She climbed back onto him, straddling his waist and staring into his deep-blue eyes. “But I won’t let that stop me anymore, too much could be lost. I only have one thing to ask you, and I want the bottom-of-your-heart answer,” she said, propped over him on her arms. “Do. You. Love. Me?” she asked, emphasizing every word.

Shinji stared back into her eyes, taking a deep breath and readying his words. “With all that I am,” he said, his face beet-red and smiling brightly. “I love you, Asuka.”

Asuka smiled back at him, a few tears falling from her eyes and onto his face. “Then I…love you, too,” she finished, leaning down to plant a hungry and passionate kiss on his lips.

Shinji had been getting used to kissing, but this wasn’t like anything Asuka had done before. This was clearly from somewhere buried far below and ready to get out. Her tongue speared itself into his mouth, her breathing heavy and interlaced with light moans. He took only a few seconds to be surprised before he surrendered into it, trying in vain to keep up and match every action she took. He could swear the room had shot up thirty degrees, whether that was from their actions or the heat of the shower still on her was irrelevant. He wrapped his arms around her, keeping his hands on her back. Her fingers ran through his hair, her entire body laid out on his. And he could most certainly feel her through his clothes and the light towel she wore.

Pulling away after almost a minute, Asuka tried to slow her breathing enough to speak. “Now…that…is how you…do it,” she managed between pants.

Shinji felt like he could melt at that point. If the end was to come right then, he’d be fine with that. Not much else could compare to that feeling. “Now I know…you don’t need to say it,” he said as soon as he could breathe again. “That made it clear enough.”

Asuka shook her head and sat beside him. “No, I absolutely had to. We’re not crutches for each other anymore. It goes much further than that.” She stood from the bed and stared at Shinji, her eyes heavy with desire. “Now…it’s time to show you just how far.”

Right then, Shinji was able to place the look in her eyes he’d seen earlier. It was the same look she had on now. “Are you sure?” he asked, his own eyes widening.

Asuka rolled her eyes. “What the hell kind of question is that right now?”

“I mean,” Shinji explained, closing his eyes, “is this because you want me or because you’re sca-”

Asuka placed a finger over his lips, cutting off his sentence. “Because I want this to be special,“ she said. “That first time, we were just clinging to one another. Right now, I want this to be what it should have been.” Leaning down to his ear, she continued in a voice barely above a whisper. “I want you to make love to me. I want to make love to you. No fear, no sadness, no looking back…just what we share tonight.”

Shinji felt like the air had been taken from him. Here was this beautiful creature he had been in love with for so long, telling him what he always wished for. This wasn’t about fear for their lives, this was about the connection between them. Pulling back to look her in the face, he spoke in an uneven voice. “How do you know to put things in a way that I can’t say no to?”

Asuka stood back up straight, flipping her still-damp hair with one hand. “Easy. It’s a woman’s gift,” she replied with a grin.

Shinji gulped and became serious again. “Last time, we weren’t careful. What if-”

Asuka removed a small foil-covered object from her towel. “Already taken care of,” she said, tossing it to him.

Shinji caught it and stared for a few seconds. “When did-”

“When I went to the restroom at that convenience store,” Asuka answered with a shrug. “Guess Americans aren’t as prudish as the Japanese.”

Placing the item on the nightstand next to the gun, Shinji took a deep breath and looked back towards her. “Are you completely sure about this?”

“As sure as I’ve ever been of anything,” Asuka said, her expression serious. “I just want there to be a single wonderful moment in the middle of this shit. Something we can look back on when this is over. Something we can say we were sure of if either of our numbers come up.”

Shinji slowly removed his shirt, the heat of the room having finally gotten to him. “God, you’re beautiful…” he mused, looking the redhead up and down with appraising eyes.

“Oh, I can assure you,” Asuka replied, “before this night is over, I’ll show you God.” And with those words, she slowly undid the towel around her and let it fall to the carpet…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Yeah…once again, I ended it off just short of the good stuff. Last time I'll do that, I promise. To make up for it, there’s a side-chapter containing the…missing bits of activity, so to speak, soon to be released. Be on the lookout for it, you just may enjoy it (I hope).

And if that last scene taught you anything, it’s clear that I enjoy putting together sweet-but-sexy scenes between them. It’s something I like to read, so I like to make some of my own…as anyone who’s read my other works should no doubt know. Asuka’s hesitation with using those three simple-yet-complicated words was displaying that I’d always seen her as, in a sense, a physical creature. Emotions she wasn’t used to would be fairly difficult to convey, but there is always the physical side of love that is (for many people) easier to get across to another. You’ll recall she used physical means to flirt with Shinji (episodes 9, 10, and 15 for examples) before, so it’s not hard to think she’s be less uncomfortable with the flesh-and-blood aspects of love.

…but that’s just my analysis, I could be wrong.

Time again to recommend a-song-to-a-scene. For the hotel room scene, find and listen to At Night by The Cure (concentrate more on the music than the lyrics). And while we’re on that, go find and buy the following albums: Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography, and Disintegration. I found that they’re best when paired with good A/S fics.

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:01 am

Arc two, chapter three. Bring along insulin for one scene, you may need it.

The Ikari Supremacy ch3  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer. And, in addition to that, this is singing/sung words.

THE IKARI SUPREMACY

Chapter 3: Weight of My Heart, Not the Size

*****

Around the same time, the others had made it back to the VTOL. The journey had been quiet and tense, everyone looking for anything that wasn’t with them. But that was just it…everything seemed too quiet, too still. “I don’t like this,” Misato thought aloud. “It shouldn‘t be this easy.”

“Maybe they already know where we are,” Kaji replied.

“And what, just let us move about like this?” Misato shot back. “Like they’re toying with us?”

“It is a possibility,” Rei offered. “Although I assume they would have moved in earlier, when it was more advantageous.”

“Great way of putting it, Rei,” Ritsuko said.

“But I suspect it is more the idea we are not as pressing,” Rei continued, keying in the sequence to shut off the explosives on board. “I feel we should leave to find Shinji and Asuka quickly.”

“And just how are we supposed to do that?” Misato questioned. “You didn’t give them a specific place to go.”

“Actually, it will be simple,” Rei answered, removing and object from her pocket that looked like a cell phone. Typing quickly, she looked at the image on-screen.

Curious, Misato looked over the girl’s shoulder at the item in her hands. It only took a few seconds to understand what the images showed. “GPS?” she asked. “Just when were you going to tell me you planted something on them?”

“I am sorry, but it was for your own benefit,” Rei said, watching the recorded path the two had taken over the last few days. “I placed it inside the grip of the gun I gave them. It has remained in working order since.”

“And what’s ’for my benefit’ supposed to mean?” Misato asked, feeling slightly upset.

“It means,” Ritsuko began, “that if you knew, you would have just asked her if the signal was still active every fifteen minutes. You‘d have worried yourself physically ill if you did know.”

“Indeed,” Rei said, putting the device back. “You had to stay alert here, where you were needed.”

Misato looked from one to the other, finally sighing. “Fine…I guess I see your point.” Sitting back in one of the seats in the craft, she continued. “Well then…were are they?” she asked, buckling herself up.

“The United States mainland,” Rei replied, taking the pilot’s seat again. “Oregon, by the coordinates. They spent the time we have been here crossing the Pacific.”

“Trip length says they caught a boat,” Kaji interjected, closing the entrance hatch and taking his seat. “No plane would take that long.”

“That is the conclusion I arrived at,” Rei said, prepping the ship for takeoff.

Ritsuko took a seat. “Can this thing even make it there?” she asked, buckling the harness around her arms and waist.

Rei took a moment to study the fuel gauge, working out if they had enough left to make it there. “Just barely. Maybe a mile or two off from exact, but we will not be trying for that.”

“Good thing,” Misato muttered. “I get the feeling by then, we’ll be running on fumes.”

Rei nodded and slowly brought the VTOL off the ground, rotating the craft around to head due east…

*****

Shinji slowly opened his eyes, unable to make out much from both the darkness and the blur in his vision. As he slowly adjusted to waking up and the lack of light, he felt slow movement on his head. Looking up to his left, he caught sight of a familiar feminine shape. “Asuka…” he said softly.

“Nice to see you’re finally back with us,” Asuka whispered. Shinji slowly realized her strange alignment was caused by his head being horizontal in her lap, and the sensation on his head had been her fingers running through his hair. He quite enjoyed that bit of attention…as well as the fact that to look her in the face, he had to catch an eyeful of the redhead’s bare chest. “Shinji,” she began in a serious tone after a few quiet moments, “if you’re going to stare, at least look me in the eyes. I don’t think I need to compete with my own breasts.”

Shinji’s face quickly turned a slight shade of pink as he pried his gaze back to her face. “So-sorry,” he said quietly.

Asuka raised an eyebrow. “Gonna fall back on that again?” she asked in a humorous tone.

Shinji smiled, his blush only lessening a little. “I thought you liked it…” he teased.

“I said I can put up with it,” Asuka answered, smiling back.

“How long have I been asleep?” Shinji asked, not able to get a look at the clock on the nightstand. “Have you been up long?”

“Not really, only a little while,” Asuka replied. “It’s just after eleven, so I’d say we got a few hours‘ rest.” She smiled a very predatory grin. “Wear yourself out a little, lover?”

Shinji’s blush returned full-force. “I…I guess I did…” he said softly. “It was just so…” he trailed off, not able to sum up the night’s activities with his vocabulary.

“Tell me about it,” Asuka said, a content expression on her face. “Why couldn’t it have been like this weeks ago?”

Shinji shrugged. “We just needed time, I guess,” he answered. “Thank you so much, Asuka.”

“What are you thanking me for?” Asuka questioned. “It takes two, remember?”

Shinji shook his head. “No…I mean for loving me too. I feel so…light after hearing that.”

“Oh…“ Asuka said quietly, her smile returning shortly after. “What I said was one-hundred percent true. I do love you and I wanted us to share that without any other worries over our heads.”

Shinji’s smile fell a bit. “I know, but…I just feel a little guilty being like this while the others are-”

“Hey, there’s no need for that,” Asuka cut him off, resuming running her fingers through his hair. “I’m sure they’re just fine. Between Rei and Misato, I doubt there’s a SEELE agent alive that could handle them.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Shinji replied, his smile returning. “Um…Asuka?”

“Hmm?” Asuka questioned back.

Shinji swallowed nervously. “Back on the ship, I said I’d love to hear you sing,” he explained. “Could you…for me?”

Asuka nodded and leaned down, giving him a sideways kiss for a few seconds before pulling back. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she took a few moments to think of a good song for him. She began to tap out a slow-tempo beat with the index finger of the hand that wasn’t on Shinji’s head, the other hand continued running her fingers through his hair. She hummed a slow melody for several seconds before opening her eyes and singing softly.

“I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
'Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too.”


Asuka stopped signing for nearly a half-minute, continuing to hum the song’s melody. Shinji sat in quiet awe of the redhead. While she wasn’t the best singer he’d heard, she was still very good. And she was singing for him and smiling right at him the whole time. He could tell it was truly from the heart, her expression made that very clear.

“Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Oh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring it down?
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide will bring it down.”


Asuka fell silent for a minute after her quiet performance. Looking into Shinji’s eyes, she spoke up. “Well…what did you think?”

Shinji said nothing, only sitting up slowly and taking her face in his hands for a deep kiss. As he pulled away, he answered. “That was beautiful…thank you.”

Asuka smiled brightly at the compliment. “Never even took a lesson,” she said proudly. “Just a natural at many things, aren’t I?”

“You certainly are,” Shinji answered. “What was that song? It was very nice.”

“Oh, it’s just something I heard a long time ago,” Asuka replied. “Funny thing is, I think it’s a couple of decades older than either Misato or Kaji.” She yawned loudly, stretching her arms above her head. “I think we should get some real sleep now. It’s going to be a long few days in the woods and I’d like to get as much rest in a bed as I can for now.”

“Sure thing,” Shinji said. They slowly got under the sheets on the bed and held close to one another. “Goodnight,” he whispered in her ear, Asuka didn’t reply, only snuggling closer to him. Slowly, he felt the pull of slumber take him back into its embrace once again…

*****

Late the next morning, Shinji and Asuka were making their (potentially long) way through the heavy forests of the Pacific Northwest. They had awakened early in the morning, an unspoken understanding of the previous night between them. Both had cleansed and dressed themselves for the long journey, knowing that it would be some time before they would stay in civilization for more than a night. That would keep things safer…at least, that’s what they hoped.

“Weird to think this place is nearly lateral with Japan, and yet, it’s just that much colder,” Shinji spoke up. He was dressed in a dark grey t-shirt and black pants, along with a black jacket and hiking boots. Over his left shoulder was the rucksack with the supplies they’d picked up the day before, a compass in his other hand.

“I’d rather be cold than sweating,” Asuka replied. She was clothed in a fatigue-green sweater and matching-colored pants, a pair of boots like his on her feet and the backpack they‘d been carrying since Osaka on her back. “It’d make the trip that much harder.”

“Can’t argue there,” Shinji said. “I kinda like it.” Taking a deep breath of the air, he continued. “It’s nice to be away from the world of man for a while.”

“Since when do you camp?” Asuka questioned, walking up beside him.

“Well, I went a couple of times with Kensuke,” Shinji answered. “He taught me a few things about survival even before my…activation.”

“Figures,” Asuka said, smirking slightly. “It’s always the odd ones that know thing or two that’ll come in handy.”

“I’ll have to thank him if I see him again,” Shinji spoke in a sad tone.

“We could’ve visited him in Tokyo-2,” Asuka offered. “Hell, you could’ve done that when you were last there.”

“I…wasn’t ready to see him again then,” Shinji explained. “And last time…well, do you want to involve him in what we’re doing?”

Asuka snorted at that. “Ha! He’d probably get off at the idea of running from shadowy figures and conspiracies.”

“Yeah, that’s about right,” Shinji mused, remembering his friend’s obsession with government secrets. “It’d be nice to see them when this is over.”

Asuka nodded, smiling a little. “I guess. Hikari’s probably thought of me as dead by now. It has been over three months, remember?”

“I think she’d have more faith in you than that,” Shinji replied. “Speaking of which…if we do get to see them again, what will we say about…us?”

Asuka looked over at Shinji, a nervous expression on his face. “What the hell are you talking about? You really want to tell everyone you’ve conquered the great Asuka Langley Sohryu?” she asked with sarcasm.

Shinji reddened slightly at her choice of words. “No…” he said, sighing. “But after what you told me last night, I just want to shout it from the rooftops. I’m completely yours and I don‘t care who knows.”

“Fuck ‘em all if they don’t accept it, huh?” Asuka asked, her smile returning. “I’ve gotta say, I like your attitude adjustment.”

“Same to you,” Shinji added. “And I…I still can’t really grasp what happened last night,” he continued, shaking his head a little. “It was just so…”

“Yeah, so I got into it a little too much,” Asuka said with a shrug. “You weren’t in any mood to complain.”

“Like you would‘ve listened,” Shinji replied. “Heh, ‘got into it a little too much‘. And to think you always called me a per-”

Asuka put a hand over his mouth. “Finish that and you’ll never get any more from me,” she said in a threatening tone. “Not even a kiss.”

Shinji nodded, wanting to stay on Asuka’s good side. Her hand dropping from his face, they resumed the trip in silence for a long while. The two passed over small creeks and several areas of thicker woods, stopping regularly to make sure they were headed due east. Neither really had a destination in mind, just deciding that as far as they could go would be a start.

“Hey Asuka,” Shinji finally said after almost an hour.

“Yeah?” Asuka answered.

“Do you ever think about…before all this?” Shinji asked. “I mean before either of our activations. Back when we were with NERV.”

Asuka sighed heavily. It was a topic they rarely approached, knowing just how things had once been between them. “Sometimes…” she began sadly. “I don’t like to think about it much, though. It still hurts.”

“I know,” Shinji replied. He knew there were some things they‘d rather not dwell on, but it was necessary for their personal growth. “I…guess I always wondered if you meant those last words you said to me.”

Asuka knew just what he had meant: the aftermath of the 15th Angel’s attack, definitely one of her darker moments. Shutting out the memories for the moment, she finally answered him. “No…I never really hated you. I was just mad that you didn‘t try to save me.”

Shinji took ahold of her left hand with his free one. “But I wanted to,” he explained. “Father wouldn’t release the lockdown on Unit-01...”

“I know that now, Shinji,” Asuka said, looking down at the ground.

“That still doesn’t make it right,” Shinji continued, his face contorting in anger. “I sat there and listened while that…thing…attacked your mind. You don‘t understand how much I hated myself for-”

Asuka cut Shinji off by giving him a soft kiss. “I said it’s okay now. I forgive you,” she spoke just above a whisper. Walking over to a stump, she sat down. “I looked at it as penance for how I’d treated you even before that…”

Shinji shook his head and frowned. “Asuka, I never-”

“Never what?” Asuka asked, clearly upset. “And don’t you dare say it’s okay, because it’s not!”

“I never held anything against you,” Shinji replied. “And it is okay. I forgave you the second I said I loved you. I could never say that if I hadn‘t already.”

Asuka breathed in deeply, tying to hold back tears. “Mathieu was right, you are a good man,” she said, smiling at him for just a second.

A crunch of leaves some distance away brought Shinji’s attention back to their situation. Stepping way from Asuka, he reached into his jacket to produce the M9. “Get down,” he whispered to the redhead.

Asuka nodded, silently moving towards a dense shrub nearby and getting low to the ground. Shinji followed a second later, lying beside her and training the weapon in the direction of the sound. Clicking the safety off, he felt the tension rise in his body as two forms walked slowly near their position. They were talking, but the words were indistinct and low-volume. He raised his vision slightly to catch the sight of a man and woman walking on a hill a few yards away, neither even caring to notice anything but each other. As they walked out of sight, the former Third Child let out a long sigh and putting the safety back on the gun.

Asuka slowly moved out of the bush, brushing some dirt and a few stray leaves off her pants. “That was close,” she said quietly. “You alright?”

Shinji placed the gun back in his jacket and picked up the rucksack again. “Aside from blood pressure, yeah,” he answered, feeling his heart rate slow back down. Standing up, he took a deep breath to calm his nerves.

“Close calls suck,” Asuka mused. Resuming their journey, both decided to remain quiet for the time being. Shinji afforded himself a small smile, glad that the redhead had forgiven him for one of his biggest regrets…

*****

A couple of hours later, the VTOL was over the same forests Shinji and Asuka were walking through. “The signal is below us,” Rei told her passengers, “but I am unable to get an exact fix on their location. Only that they are within a few dozen meters of us.” Looking over at the almost-empty fuel gauge, she turned back to them. “I am afraid this is as far as this vehicle will take us.”

“Good a place to sit down as any,” Misato said, looking down into the trees. “Just don’t hit anything.”

“Understood,” Rei stated, slowly bringing the craft down and onto the ground with only a small bump. “Uneven ground,” she said, shutting off the engines. Standing from her seat, she walked over to the cargo bay to retrieve a P226 handgun. Giving the weapon a quick once-over, she checked the clip to find it full. “This will suffice,” she said, strapping it into a holster around her right leg and picking up a bag along with some outdoor survival items from around the bay. Walking back out into the main cabin, she opened the hatch and stepped aside. “I would suggest you each retrieve a sidearm before leaving. I do not think we will return here.”

Misato and Kaji both looked at each other before turning back towards Rei. “I think I’ve got it covered,” Misato said, opening her jacket to show her personal weapon in a small holster inside.

“You mean we’re both covered there,” Kaji said, pointing to the gun at his side.

“I had forgotten,” Rei said. Turning towards Ritsuko, she addressed the woman. “That leaves only you unarmed.”

“I think three guns between us is enough for now,” Ritsuko offered. “I’m not a good shot, anyway. Not enough time spent at the range. Besides, I doubt I could shoot straight without my glasses.”

“Very well then,” Rei said, walking out of the craft and into the chilly afternoon air. She took a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of a different climate.

“Good thing we didn‘t go with skirts. Right, girls?” Misato asked with a wink, glad she had changed into something warmer before leaving the bunker.

“Yeah, I suppose,” Kaji added, “but I’ll miss how your butt looked in your regular outfit.”

“Oh come on,” Misato said with a huff, “now is definitely not the time for that.“ She quickly snapped back into business-mode. “First things first, we find Shinji and Asuka. We‘ll figure out where to go from there.”

“That is satisfactory,” Rei said. Making sure that everyone had disembarked, she set the countermeasures and walked off a short distance. Taking in their surroundings, she checked the GPS for her fellow pilots’ location. “Follow me.”

The group slowly worked their way through the woods, keeping a look out for the two Children somewhere in the general area. After ten minutes, Rei spoke up again. “That is strange…the signal stops here.”

Misato’s head moved left and right, her gaze darting anywhere nearby. “Not out in the open,” she whispered. “I just hope it’s them at the end of the signal.”

Rei nodded and remained quiet, looking around for the source. The GPS unit showed it to be within a few yards of where she was standing. An anomalous sound brought her attention to a large tree several feet away. Looking back to the others, she put a finger to her lips to keep them silent. Taking her weapon from its holster, she slowly sat the bag down on the ground and approached. Moving around the base of the tree, she raised the weapon to anticipate whatever was on the other side. A quick flash of movement caught her attention, taking the safety off the gun and pointing it at the source of the movement. But there was no need, as the object had been a familiar person, that of the former Third Child.

“Rei?” Shinji asked, both hands on his own weapon and pointing it at her. Letting out a heavy sigh, he lowered the gun and smiled. “God, you nearly scared me to death…”

“I am sorry,” Rei stated, placing her own gun back into its place. “Are you well? Where is Asuka?”

“Taken to calling me by first name now, Ayanami?” Asuka’s voice came from above her, the redhead jumping back to the ground from a high branch. “Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”

“We’re alright,” Shinji answered. “A little shaken, but fine.” He looked over at the others, who all looked relieved to see them both alive and well…especially a certain woman. “Misato…”

Misato wasted no time in running over to Shinji and pulling him into a crushing hug. “Oh Shinji, I’m so glad you’re alive!” she said, crying a little.

Shinji returned the hug as best as he could, considering she was pinning both of his arms. “I could say the same to you, Misato.”

Misato nodded, releasing him and walking over to give Asuka just as big a hug. “Glad to see he’s kept you in one piece,” she told the redhead.

Asuka hugged her back. “Of course. Did you think I’d check out before you?” she joked. “I’ve been keeping him in line for you, just so you know.”

Misato gave a short laugh, letting her go. “Yeah…I’ll bet,” she said.

“How the hell did you know where to find us?” Asuka asked.

Misato looked at Shinji. “Gimme your gun,” she ordered.

Shinji blinked a few times, finally reaching into his jacket to hand her the weapon. The major took a pocket knife out and began to unscrew part of the gun’s grip. Taking the piece off, she showed him the small device placed inside. “A bit sneaky, but good thinking,” he thought aloud.

“Rei’s idea, I can‘t take credit for it,” Misato explained. “She didn’t let me know until yesterday. C’mon, let’s get moving. We can’t stay still for too long here.”

“Why don’t we just set up here for the night?” Shinji asked. “Sun’s going down soon, and we’ll need the rest for tomorrow’s walk.”

“That’s good thinking,” Kaji said, standing behind the boy. “Let’s see…adjusting for this time zone, it’s nearly six o’clock,” he continued, checking his watch.

“I’d call that late enough,” Ritsuko spoke up, trying to see through the treeline. ‘Dammit…too thick for that,’ she thought.

“I concur,” Rei said, walking off from them. “I shall return soon with firewood.”

The rest of them soon gathered into a small flat part of the area they had stopped at. “Well, I suppose we’ll get to what’s happened since we sent Rei to you,” Misato began…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Only one more part of this arc to go. After that, well…let's just say there's going to be a bit more to the story…

Oh, and that song Asuka sang to Shinji? Give yourself a pat on the back if you can identify it, it‘s a personal favorite. And yes, I know that whole scene was sappier than maple syrup. Sue me, I'm quite proud of it.

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:58 am

Done with second arc now. Come back again, we'll continue this thing.

The Ikari Supremacy ch4  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI SUPREMACY

Chapter 4: This Night Has Opened My Eyes

*****

Over the next hour-and-a-half, both groups related the last few days’ events to each other. Rei returned about twenty minutes into it, setting down a small pile of whatever dry timber she could find. Taking a book of matches from her bag, she lit one and began a fire with it before joining the others in their conversation.

After everything had been explained, they sat quietly around the fire eating. “Not that bad uncooked,” Asuka mused, taking another spoonful of the can’s contents.

“That’s why I grabbed them,” Shinji replied. “Just in case there may be time we can’t get a fire going.” As they finished their meals, he looked to Misato and shifted the conversation back to earlier. “So they destroyed that branch…any ideas where else Zero might be set up?”

“It’d have to be a larger NERV branch. Not too sure about Beijing,” Misato explained, seated against a tree, “but the Nevada branch is toast from that S2 engine experiment, the one at Massachusetts isn’t much more than an assembly plant, and we know the Tokyo-3 branch is all quiet.”

“There is one larger location that’d be ideal for taking a seat of power,” Kaji said, looking over at Asuka. “The German branch just outside of Berlin. It‘s certainly one of the larger facilities.”

“Great…just the kind of homecoming I’m looking forward to,” Asuka muttered darkly. She was in no mood to be anywhere near her old home country.

“Yeah, I know you’d rather not go,” Misato said. “But we’re not just going to hide while being hunted. We’re going to try and make a preemptive strike.”

Rei nodded, staring into the flames. “Yes. I believe there is a saying: ‘the best defense is a good offense’.”

“Uh-huh,” Misato replied. “And we’ll bring whatever Hell we can directly to them. I’ll personally take this fight right to their doorstep.”

Shinji smiled at his guardian’s words. ‘She’s really willing to go this far for us,’ he thought. “Then that’s where we’re headed?”

“That’s the plan for now,” Kaji replied. “Not the best, but maybe we can get there before it’s purged too.”

“Highly unlikely,” Rei said, shaking her head. “The Russia facility was physically purged because of the lack of surrounding structures that were inhabited. NERV Germany is situated much closer to populated areas.”

“That means they’ll have to be working inside, then,” Ritsuko offered. “It still doesn’t mean they won’t wipe it clean off the map, it just won’t be a crater.”

The silence hung over them again after that, each of them staring in the warm glow of the fire. Shinji’s thoughts drifted back to the times before being on the run. Just then, a thought occurred to him. “There’s still one thing I never did find out…”

“What’s that?” Misato asked.

“What happened to the Sub-Commander?” Shinji questioned. “He wasn’t at headquarters when we raided it.”

Ritsuko let out a sigh and cleared her throat. “That’s because he had already disappeared.”

“What?” Shinji said. “Did…did the Commander have him killed too?”

“Nothing so dramatic,” Ritsuko answered. “I meant just what I said. He disappeared.”

“I don’t get it…” Shinji replied.

“It happened while you were missing,” Ritsuko explained. “He knew just what the Committee had done to you three, and he knew when you vanished that Commander Ikari would be making his move. I think he hoped for SEELE to fail.”

“Why’s that?” Shinji asked.

“Simple,“ Ritsuko continued, “he knew that the old men would indeed have him eliminated. Gendo would have been slightly more…lenient.”

Shinji lowered his head, staring at the ground. “Yeah, right. Father would’ve just spared him…”

“He would,” Ritsuko said. Shinji’s head jerked up to stare at her, a surprised look in his eyes. “Fuyutsuki was the only person left at NERV who knew what the Commander was like before…what happened to Yui. Even I didn‘t meet him until after that.”

Shinji’s look darkened at those words. “Hard to believe there was anyone he’d call a friend,” he said sadly.

“I don’t know about ‘friend‘,” Ritsuko started again, “but he was privy to the plans of both your father and the Committee. He knew, in a manner of speaking, where the bodies were buried.” Sighing, she removed a pack of cigarettes from her pocket and lit one before taking a long drag. “He left me a letter a few days before Chairman Kiel was killed. All it said was that he would leave it all behind and keep quiet. He knew Gendo would come after him if he leaked anything to anyone,” she explained, breathing out a cloud of smoke.

“Hard to believe the Commander kept his word,” Kaji said.

“I’m not too sure about that,” Ritsuko replied. “His attention may have been on the Committee, but I doubt he would have let someone who knew as much as Fuyutsuki walk away clean.” She turned towards Shinji. “The letter also said that if you surfaced again, to say that he’s sorry for everything. I think he knew Yui before your father did.”

Shinji’s face curled into a sad smile. “Thanks for telling me,” he said. “I just hope he’s alive out there…”

“There were no more sanctions either myself or Nagisa were sent on after the Chairman‘s death,” Rei spoke up. “I believe he is still among the living.”

Shinji’s smile stayed, melancholy as it was. “It’s just weird…there were sides to my father that I never saw,” he mused. “And now, I never will.”

Asuka stared at him with a sad expression. “Hey, I thought you were working through that,” she said.

“Like I said before,” Shinji replied, “I’ll always feel this. But…I am trying.” Looking over at Asuka, he saw her shiver a little. “Are you cold?”

“Only a bit,” Asuka replied, pulling her knees to her chest and resting her head on them.

Shinji slowly rose from the ground and walked over, taking a seat right next to her. “Here, I’ll help you warm up,” he said.

Asuka turned a deep shade of red at his actions. “What are you doing? They’re right there!” she whispered harshly.

“I told you, I don’t care what anyone thinks,” Shinji whispered back, putting an arm around her.

“Aww, look at that,” Misato teased. “How cute…”

“Shut it, Katsuragi,” Asuka threatened, her face still quite red. “I don’t want to hear it. Not. One. Word.”

“Okay then,” Misato continued, her mood switching instantly. “We’ll turn to the serious side of this conversation.”

Asuka stared at her with a mix of aggravation and embarrassment. “Oh no, no, no,” she quickly blurted, “you are not even going to head there.”

“I am,” Misato stated flatly. “It’s something we’ve never discussed. And I need to do this with the both of you here.”

Shinji knew what she had meant. Misato had walked in on them the morning of the NERV raid. ‘Guess we’ve danced around that for too long,’ he thought, preparing himself for the next few moments.

“Well, can we do this privately as least?” Asuka questioned.

“Think of it as a small punishment,” Misato replied with a grin.

“That’s dirty pool, Misato,” Asuka shot back.

“Hey, I’m the adult here,” Misato argued, “and I say I’d like some answers.”

“Yeah, some adult…” Ritsuko said under her breath.

Asuka sighed heavily and closed her eyes. This was going to be a long night for her. “You want answers?” she began. “Fine. Yes, you saw what you thought you saw. Yes, we know the implications. No, I don’t care what you think about it,” she stopped to take a breath. “And no, that hasn’t continued since then.”

Misato looked from one teen to another, gauging their expressions. “At least tell me why, then.”

Shinji swallowed the lump forming in his throat and spoke in a voice that was barely audible. “Because I love her.”

Five heads turned in his direction after those words, three sets of eyes going wide. Misato shook her head to clear away her shock. “And just what do you say to that, Asuka?” she asked, turning towards the former Second Child.

Asuka didn’t speak up immediately, instead lowering her legs and looking around at the others one-by-one. “I already knew,” she started, “ he said so just before you walked in. It had started as comfort, but…”

“…it’s gone a little sideways from there, huh?” Misato asked quietly.

Asuka nodded slowly. “And I know he meant every word. Why do you think we’ve been alone in Osaka for a month?”

“Wait a second,” Ritsuko spoke up. “You mean you two…” She stopped there to shake her head. “Oh, great job you’ve done there,” she directed at Misato.

“Hey, I can’t watch them twenty-four-seven,” Misato snapped back.

“But you can’t say they didn’t learn from you…” Ritsuko said.

“Just stuff it for now,” Misato growled. Turning back towards her charges, she continued. “Have you two, you know, since…”

“Oh, for the love of God,” Asuka grumbled, throwing her hands in the air, “no we haven’t, okay?”

Misato looked over to Shinji, who just shied away from her gaze. “Your poker face sucks, mister Ikari,” she teased.

Asuka looked back to the boy next to her. “Oh, just wonderful,” she whispered. “Now we’ll have to explain that.”

“Lemme hear it,” Misato ordered, her face dead serious again.

Asuka lowered her head, unable to look the woman in the eyes. “Last night was only the second time, I promise.”

“And why now?” Misato questioned. “It’s a little dangerous to-”

“That’s exactly why!” Asuka shouted. “Time isn’t on our side anymore, remember?“ She quieted back down after that. “And I wanted it to be different than the last time. It should have been special then…” she trailed off after that, her head hung low.

Misato stared at the redhead for a moment, finally coming to a conclusion. “You love him too, don’t you?”

Asuka’s face became redder than her hair. This wasn’t something she wanted to share with Misato anytime soon. “Yes…” she managed. “No one’s ever been as good to me. No offense, Kaji,” she said, turning towards the man.

“None taken,” Kaji replied. “I’m just glad you’re happy with it.”

Misato nodded, a smile creeping onto her features. “I can’t say I don’t approve,” she said. “Lord knows you both deserve to be happy.” Her expression straightened again. “You used protection, right?”

“Yes, for chrissakes,” Asuka answered, really just wanting this line of questioning to end. “Quit it with the third degree already…”

“Can’t help it,” Misato said, “the two of you might as well be my own children. I have to worry about everything you do.” She then turned towards Kaji. “I’m not terribly surprised you’re not against this in the least.”

“Well,” Kaji began in a rarely-for-him serious tone, “they’re taking things responsibly, I can’t begrudge them for that. And it’s a lesser evil than what we were doing when we were only a few years older…” he finished, flashing Misato a roguish smile.

Misato blushed a deep crimson, her eyes narrowing. “I don’t want to even bring THAT up right now.”

“So it’s okay to bring up our sex life, but not yours?” Asuka questioned, half-joking and half-angry. “Oh, that is such bullshit! At least we would take breaks in-between…”

“That’s none of your business, young lady,” Misato shot back. “And let me just make a few things clear…”

With the attention off him and onto his two arguing roommates, Shinji slowly stood up and walked into the dark of the woods nearby. Taking in a deep breath, he tried to lose the heat that had built up in his body over that last conversation. ‘And now that I think about it,’ he thought, ‘we just gave Misato ample ammunition for future teasing.’ He shook his head and tried to hold in a laugh. Movement from behind him brought his attention to the approaching form of the former First Child. “Oh, hi Rei. You need something?”

Rei shook her head. “The major and Asuka are engaged in a…heated discussion,” she stated. “I wished to find a more quiet place for the moment.”

“Yeah, same here,” Shinji replied. “They always could take things pretty far.”

“So you and Asuka have been…intimate with one another?” Rei asked after a long pause.

Shinji’s blush returned in full-force. “Uh…y-yeah,” he managed. “I didn’t want to have to tell Misato, but I do understand why she should know.”

“It is because you feel strongly for her, is it not?” Rei questioned.

Shinji turned to give her an honest smile. “I do,” he answered. “More than I could ever say in words.”

“I do not understand,” Rei said, tilting her head slightly.

“It’s an expression,” Shinji explained. “Best way I could put it, it wasn’t until last night I really knew just how strong that love was.”

Rei stood beside him, thinking over his words for a few moments. “I…think I can relate to that somewhat,” she began, turning her head to look at Shinji. “I felt…something towards you, back during my second self’s life. I knew it was not the urge to become one with you, that much I was certain of. It felt like…I should protect you. And I will honor my past self‘s wish.”

“You…want to protect me?” Shinji asked, greatly surprised.

“I had wanted only that,” Rei replied. “But now, I wish to protect all of you. I no longer believe that I have nothing else, but I still have this final mission to undertake.”

Shinji placed a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you, Rei,” he spoke quietly. “I promise I won’t let you or any of the others down.”

Rei nodded and walked back towards where the others were gathered, taking her seat against a fallen log again. Shinji took a few more minutes before doing the same, finding the conversation around the fire had died in his absence. “Everything straightened out?” he whispered to Asuka, sitting beside her.

“As best as we could,” Asuka said. “But God, we’ll never hear the end of this.”

Shinji laughed a little. “I guess it could have been worse,” he said. “She could’ve been a lot less reasonable about it.”

“Yeah…reasonable,” Asuka muttered, closing her eyes to get some rest. “I think I’m gonna crash here. Get some sleep yourself, it‘ll be a long day tomorrow.”

“No kidding,” Shinji replied, lying back on the ground. Taking hold of her right hand, he lightly kissed her palm. “Good night, Asuka.”

“Cut the sappy shit for now,” Asuka said with a grin, not opening her eyes. “Just go to bed.”

Shinji let go of her and closed his eyes. The ground was much less inviting than the hotel bed had been, but it was still better than not sleeping at all. And Asuka was right, they‘d need the rest for what was sure to be a long walk the next day…

*****

The next two days passed slowly for the group, each one spent waking early in the morning and walking until the sun began to set. A stream here, a hill there…all the while, an eerie quiet fell over long stretches of their trip. Even Misato kept her complaining in check…well, as best as she could after two days of twelve-plus hours hiking. But it wasn’t the lack of conversation, it was the feeling that this was all just TOO quiet. Surely, someone in SEELE’s pocket must have seen them by now. But no one dared to speak it aloud, lest they jinx the entire endeavor.

Early on the third day, they were once again traveling east. A slight detour north had been necessary by the presence of a deep canyon. Rei looked up their coordinates on her GPS unit. They had managed to make it nearly halfway across the state over the last few days. Studying both the device’s screen and the map Shinji had brought, she noted a particular area the GPS showed: a flat expanse of area a little over a mile long, several miles from them. “We will head this way,” she told the others.

“Got something?” Asuka asked.

“It appears to be either a very short road,” Rei stated, “or an airfield.”

“Best news I’ve heard in days,” Misato said, walking past the two girls. “I need a ride out of here desperately.”

‘So much for keeping complaints to a minimum,’ Shinji thought, following close behind them.

Another couple of hours later, the group came upon their destination. And Rei had guessed correctly, it was an airfield. Not very large, but out-of-the-way enough to be a potential commodity. “Oh, thank whatever deity heard my prayers!” Misato practically cheered, fighting the urge to break into a run.

As they approached the main office, Kaji stopped them. “Alright, lemme see if I can’t work out an arrangement,” he said. “Shinji, you still have some of that money I sent to you two?”

“I’ve got it,” Asuka spoke up, taking off the backpack and reaching inside to pull out the brick of hundred-dollar bills they’d been using since arriving. “Should still be plenty there, we’ve barely used two hundred since we made it here,” she explained, handing him the stack. “Well, aside from that five thousand we gave the captain.”

Kaji removed a handful from the brick before handing it back to her. “Wish me luck,” he said. Walking inside the building, he was met by an older man sitting at a table.

“Ah, a paying customer I hope?” the old man asked.

Kaji gave the man a grin. “Oh indeed,“ he began. “I need to rent a plane that’ll seat six and pilot for a flight to Germany. As quickly as you can arrange it.”

The old man stood up and nodded. “Sure, I’ll just need some form of identification and creden-”

“I’d like to make it as…quiet as possible, as well,” Kaji explained.

The old man gave Kaji a stern glare. “Now look, I don’t want any trouble…”

“Trust me,” Kaji said, “it’s my companions and I that’ll have the trouble if we don’t get there. I can’t explain any more than that, I’m afraid. My…line of work prevents me from doing so.”

“Government types, huh?” the old man asked. “Dealt with a few of you before. Never went anywhere but south for me.”

“Well then,” Kaji started, “what will it take to get you involved?”

The old man thought it over for a few minutes. “Ten thousand,” he finally said. “And I won’t negotiate that further.”

Kaji counted off that amount from the money he was carrying, tossing it in a wad to the old man. “I’ll be fine with that.”

The old man counted the money slowly, making sure his ‘customer’ wasn’t bluffing. “I guess we’ve got a deal,” he said, putting a hand out.

Kaji smiled and shook his hand. “I guess so,” he replied. “How soon can we leave?”

“Gimme a few minutes to inform my pilot,” the old man said. “Gather whatever you’ve got and wait for him outside.”

“Ah, thank you sir,” Kaji said with a bow. “You’re a saint among men.”

The old man just shrugged and walked into the back room. Kaji left the building and walked back over to the rest of the group. “It went well, I hope?” Misato asked.

Kaji’s grin widened. “Pilot’ll be out in a few, and we should be ready soon after that,” he explained.

“And that’s it?” Ritsuko asked. “No questions?”

“Oh, he had questions,” Kaji replied. “But money tends to quiet people.”

“Yeah, so we noticed on the way here,” Asuka said.

The owner and the pilot, a tall man in his early forties, soon walked outside and got a look at their soon-to-be passengers. As the two walked over to a small passenger plane, the group took a seat on some benches nearby. They waited for another hour as the old man and the pilot prepped the plane for its long flight. When it was finally done, the pilot looked over to them. “Alright, gather your stuff. I’m ready when you are.”

The six of them gathered the three bags between them and boarded the plane, a tight fit for them and their small bit of carry-on. Taking their seats, the pilot walked in and closed up the cabin of the plane. He took his seat at the front and began the last few steps to get the craft off the ground.

Asuka looked over to Shinji, who was currently putting a white-knuckle grip into his seat’s armrests. “What, you’ve never flown before?” she asked.

Shinji swallowed hard and sighed. “N-no…” he spoke in a quiet voice. “It’s kind of a scary idea.”

“Meh, you get used to it,” Asuka replied. “I’ve taken a few flights in my life.” She placed her right hand over his left. “You’ll be okay, right?”

Shinji gave her a weak smile. It wasn’t just the flight that had him scared. It was just the idea of where they were going, what they’d be doing. ‘Might as well be marching right into the lungs of Hell,’ he thought as the plane moved along the airstrip and off the ground, ‘but I pray it’ll all go well.’ As the weightless sensation kicked in for a few seconds, he relaxed in his seat just a little. For now, all he could do was wait to arrive and hope for the best…

*****To be concluded in THE IKARI ULTIMATUM*****

A/N: Oh yes, I decided to expand this into a trilogy. Expect ULTIMATUM to be fairly soon in coming, seeing as I wrote both stories pretty much back-to-back. And it’ll be a bit heavier on action than this "part" was. I’m sure some of you found my action scenes a little limp (I‘ve been told so in the past), but do know that I’m trying. I know I’m clearly better at WAFF and romance than action.

Oh yeah, as promised in the first chapter…

*****Omake time!*****

The camera pans around the author’s room. He is seated at his computer, finishing up the last part above.

Bard: (sighing) Jesus, this whole tale's becoming larger than I expected. And there‘s still part three of the trilogy to go… (noticing the room’s newest occupant) Back again, are we?

Mitsumi: (calling from the other room) They’re here already?

Bard: (returning her shout) Uh-huh. How about bringing in the others, too?

Mitsumi pops into the room upon hearing those words…along with her five sisters (Kara, Rain, Magdalena, Angelina, Akari), all of them wearing white sleeveless dresses.

Bard: (raising an eyebrow) Y’know…the matching white under and the assorted colors above make it look like you guys are a moving cloud-and-rainbow combo.

Mitsumi: (giving a bright smile) I like the outfits. I think it really brings out my inner Kim Gordon. Especially with these… (raises the dress slightly to show off a pair of combat boots)

Bard: (barely audible) That’s…quite a fashion statement.

Magdalena: (softly) I like how it matches my hair.

Kara: (pouting) But I really wanted to wear red…

Bard: (shaking his head) I know you did. But call it a team uniform, if you will.

The author stands up and walks into the other room, finding it ready for another performance. The six fairies soon followed him.

Bard: (interested) Well, what’cha have in mind this time?

Mitsumi: (proudly) Here, take a look. (hands the author a piece of paper)

Bard: (reading) Hey, this is a really good one… (nervously points towards the stage) Something tells me you want me up there again.

Mitsumi: Oh yes indeed, you’re right. I’ll even sit this one out today.

Bard: (surprised) Really? I know you love to play to a crowd.

Mitsumi: (taking a seat in front of the stage) Hey, sometimes sisters have to give each other the chance to shine. (turning to look at the others) Take your places, girls. It’s almost show time.

Four of the other five move towards to their chosen instruments (electric guitar for Kara, acoustic guitar for Rain, electric bass for Magdalena, Akari behind her drums) and readied themselves for their performance, while Angelina joins Mitsumi in a seat down front.

Bard: (sitting on a stool in front of the mic) Alright ladies, let’s bring it on home.

Kara begins by strumming out a jangling, chiming riff for a couple of bars before the others join in with a steady rhythm that continues for four more bars before the lyrics begin.

Bard: (singing)
All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through Hell and high tide
I think I can rely on you
And yet, you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still, I'd leap in front
Of a flying bullet for you

So what difference does it make?
So what difference does it make?
It makes none, but now you have gone
And you must be looking very old tonight

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why?
Because you asked me to
But now, you make me feel so ashamed
Because I've only got two hands
Well, I'm still fond of you

So what difference does it make?
Oh, what difference does it make?
It makes none, but now you have gone
And your prejudice won't keep you warm tonight

Oh, the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and then I lied
Just because you asked me to
But now, you know the truth about me
You won't see me anymore
Well, I'm still fond of you

But no more apologies
No more, no more apologies
Oh, I'm too tired
I'm so sick and tired
And I'm feeling very sick and ill today
But I'm still fond of you


The music continues on for several more bars, Kara's guitar riff changing into a slow series of held chords over the rest of the girls. As the last few notes ring out, the stage lights go out and the room lights come back on…revealing Mitsumi giving a standing ovation and Angelina giving her other sisters a smile and a thumbs-up.

Mitsumi: (applauding and whistling) Oh, that was quite good!

Bard: (giving a nervous smile) Aww, come on. (points a thumb behind him) I think they were better than I was...

Mitsumi: (shrugging) If you say so. Any ideas for what we’ll play for part three?

The author smiles but says nothing, only handing her a small slip of paper.

Mitsumi: (reading) Of course, I should have guessed…

Bard: Only one song it could’ve ended with, considering part of the inspiration for this fic.

Mitsumi: I suppose it makes sense.

Bard: (turning towards the camera) And you guys come back soon, you hear?

Mitsumi begins waving to the camera, her sisters and the author joining in right after. The camera pans up and away…for now, at least.

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

Until our paths next cross,
-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:27 am

Third arc's starting up.

The Ikari Ultimatum ch1  SPOILER: Show
]DISCLAIMER: I still don’t own Evangelion or any of the characters, they’re still property of…well, whoever owns them these days. This fic’s got nothing to do with Rebuild, just the original series/movies. This one‘s (obviously) the next part in THE IKARI IDENTITY/SUPREMACY series, so read them first if you haven‘t. And lastly, ‘this’ is thoughts and “this” is speech.

THE IKARI ULTIMATUM

Chapter 1: A Means to an End

*****

A jarring sensation shook Shinji Ikari out of the otherwise-fitful nap he’d taken. Looking around, he saw that he was still inside the small passenger plane they’d left America in. Around the plane, he caught sight of the five other people he was traveling with. Misato Katsuragi and Kaji Ryoji were both seated in the row on the other side, with Ritsuko Akagi in the row behind them. Rei Ayanami stared out of the window two rows ahead of him. And to his left was Asuka Langley Sohryu, who was currently enjoying a deep sleep and snoring lightly. He’d noticed that particular habit while they stayed in Osaka. ‘Still cute, though,’ he thought with a smile. Turning to look out the window, he saw that the plane had finally touched back down on the ground.

Taking a moment to stretch, Shinji lightly shook the girl next to him. “Come on, Asuka,” he whispered, “wake up. We’re here.”

Asuka slowly opened her eyes to the waking world, taking in her surroundings. Looking over at Shinji, she smiled with half-opened eyes. “Morning,” she said groggily. “How’d you sleep?”

Shinji shrugged. “Not that well. Hard to get comfortable in midair.”

“At least you didn’t get airsick,” Asuka joked, rubbing her eyes and yawning. “That wouldn’t have gotten you this,” she finished, planting a feather-light kiss on his lips.

“Hey, no mile-high club on my watch,” Misato’s voice sounded from across the aisle. As they turned to look at her, she continued. “Well, nice to see you two finally up and around.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Asuka said with a wave of her hand. “Always a good morning for you when it starts with teasing, isn’t it?”

“Yep,” Misato answered, quickly letting the smile fade from her face. “Gather everything up. We’ve got work to do…”

Shinji nodded, standing and reaching in the overhead compartment to gather one of the three bags they’d taken along. He grabbed up the rucksack and handed Asuka the backpack. Rei got to her feet and opened her own compartment to retrieve her bag. “From here on, we must blend in and remain quiet,” she stated.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” Asuka replied.

Rei said nothing, only reaching into her bag to remove a long brunette wig and a case for contacts. “You assume I would not have prepared. That is unwise, Asuka,” she explained. Taking a moment to put the contacts in and affix the wig over her hair, she turned towards Misato. “Is this acceptable, Major?”

“Works well enough for me,” Misato answered.

“Hey, that’s pretty good,” Asuka spoke up, walking past Rei. “Maybe when this is over, you can use that look permanently.”

“Do you find it to be satisfactory?” Rei asked. Asuka nodded, walking out of the plane. The pale girl turned to look at Shinji. “And what would you say?”

Shinji found himself unable to answer at first. ‘Wow…the resemblance is really eerie now,’ he thought. Rei had told him that she had been modeled after his mother, but it wasn’t until now that he really saw it physically. “Uh…s-sure, it’s fine,” he finally replied, giving her a slight smile.

Rei gave him the barest of smiles in return, leaving out of the exit hatch. The adults soon followed suit, Shinji trailing just behind them. Upon exiting the plane, he was caught by the slight chill in the pre-dawn air. It was less than had been present in the part of America they had traveled through, but was still very much similar.

The pilot stepped out of the plane right afterwards. “Well, here we are. Just a mile or two outside of Berlin, as per your destination,” he said.

“Thanks very much,” Kaji replied, shaking the man’s hand. “Glad you didn’t ask too many questions.”

“Hey, not like this is a first for me,” the pilot said. “My boss has taken on work for guys like you before. It usually just went a lot worse. Now go on, I don‘t need to attract any more attention than this.”

“Heh, sure thing,” Kaji said. “A safe trip for us all.”

The group left the landing strip after that, the trip to Berlin taking about an hour. Kaji led the group for this leg of the journey, knowing just where the facility they were looking for was. They remained at the edge of the city, just to avoid further surveillance or detection.

Upon reaching the far side of the city than they’d begun from, Kaji led them to a large two-story concrete structure. “Looks like it’s been abandoned for quite a long time,” he mused, taking in the building’s outside appearance. ‘It at least looks solid enough‘ he thought, gazing up and down the street to see no one in sight.

Four guns were at the ready as they opened the front door and quickly piled inside. This place reminded Shinji of the bunker they’d used back in Tokyo-3. It certainly smelled similar, full of dust and age. ‘Damn, even that seems like so long ago,’ he thought as they walked up the stairs. The second floor was much like the first, just a wide-open space with concrete pillars in the center of the structure.

Rei approached the door to the roof. “Major, come with me. Everyone else, stay here. We must not present too many targets.”

Misato nodded and followed the girl through the door and up the short stairs there. Once outside on the roof, they crouched down as low as they could and snuck over to the edge of the structure facing the NERV branch they were here for. Reaching into her back, the former First Child removed the wig and contacts she’d been wearing. Then she brought out a pair of binoculars and looked to their destination. “What do you see?” the woman asked.

“It is quiet,” Rei stated. “More so than the Russian branch was. It is very…discomforting.”

“I just hope it’s the good kind of quiet,” Misato replied. “Like we’ve arrived before they have.”

“We can hope so,” Rei said, continuing her watch. The building in question was much like the other had been, only a small structure on the surface with the greater portion of it deep below the ground. It was situated what Rei judged to be about five hundred meters outside the city limits, just far enough for them to not purge it similarly to the Russian branch. ‘But it still means they could be within,’ she thought.

“So now we wait, huh?” Misato asked.

Rei nodded. “Midnight would be best,” she said, removing a watch from her bag. “We still have more than twelve hours. I suggest we prepare thoroughly.”

“You’ll get no arguments here,” Misato replied. She followed close behind as Rei slowly edged back towards the door back down to the stairs.

As they arrived back inside and on the second story, Kaji approached them. “What’s the verdict?”

“A little too quiet,” Misato answered, leaning against a wall and letting herself slide down it, “but still standing. We leave at midnight.”

The others nodded in agreement and settled in for the day. It would be a long wait until midnight…

*****

Asuka sat near a window on the second floor, looking out at the city behind her. It was just after ten at night, they’d need to be ready in less than an hour. The others were below, mentally preparing themselves for their mission (except for Rei, who offered to keep watch). Currently, the redhead was deeply absorbed in her thoughts. Being back in Germany didn’t feel right, it brought up a past pain she’d tried hard to bury. She shivered a little, both from the night air and her musings. “It just had to be back here,” she thought aloud.

“I thought you said it wasn’t good to talk to yourself,” a voice sounded, shaking Asuka from her train-of-thought. Looking into the dark, she could only just make out Shinji in the darkness. “You alright?” he asked upon noticing her far-off stare.

“Yeah, just…” Asuka cut herself off, shaking her head. “No, not really. I‘m…uncomfortable with being here.”

“Why’s that?” Shinji asked, walking up and taking a seat next to her.

Asuka looked down at the floor. “It’s…complicated,“ she began quietly. “It brings up a lot of things I want to forget. I’ll tell you in full one day, but for now, let‘s just say…you know my pain well enough.”

Shinji stared at her silently for a moment. “What do you mean?”

“I mean about your mother,” Asuka said, doing her best to hold in her own torrent of emotions concerning those words. “I saw how it made you react when Misato and Rei explained it to you. You thought she’d died, but…”

“The contact experiment took her into the EVA,” Shinji finished for her. “Yeah, I remember. I saw her there when Unit-01 absorbed me, too.”

“Kaji told me something similar happened to Mama,” Asuka started. “No one really knows for certain, but it…took part of her. And what happened to her after that…” She trailed off, her shaking becoming more pronounced.

Shinji put an arm around Asuka and pulled her close. “Shh,” he whispered, “you don’t have to continue. I think I understand.” He smiled at an old memory. “That finally makes sense now…”

“Huh? What does?” Asuka asked, wiping a few tears away.

Shinji sighed, the smile on his face remaining. “It was on the last night of our unison training…”

Asuka laughed a little as the memory came back to her. “Oh God, that was an odd time. I still remember those hideous outfits.”

“Yeah,” Shinji continued. “You went into the other room to sleep, but…did you know you sleepwalk?”

Asuka looked up at him, surprised. “What? Really?”

“At least, I think you were,” Shinji replied. “All I know is that I opened my eyes and you were next to me, sleeping soundly.”

“Did you try anything with me?” Asuka questioned with a teasing smirk.

Shinji turned away to hide his red face. “I…wanted to kiss you then,” he admitted. “I can’t deny that. But then I saw a tear and you mumbled ‘mama’. I couldn’t do it after I saw that. It was just so unlike I‘d ever seen you…”

Asuka didn’t have an answer to that. It wasn’t shocking that he’d wanted to kiss her even back then. But that she’d unwittingly showed him a vulnerable side of her certainly was. From what she could remember, he was across the room when they awoke the next morning. “Did you know you were in love with me then?” she finally asked after a long silence.

Shinji shook his head. “No, but I did realize then that I liked you more than on a purely physical level,” he explained. “I think it was…when we first kissed.”

Asuka hung her head low at that memory. “Ugh…that’s one I’d rather forget about.”

“Because you didn’t like it?” Shinji asked. He clearly remembered her reaction then.

Asuka shook her head a bit. “It just wasn’t how it should have been,” she whispered.

“You mean you weren’t just testing me then?” Shinji asked in a shocked tone. She had made it so clear back then that she didn’t enjoy it one bit.

“Alright, fine” Asuka said in a huff. “No, I wasn’t JUST testing you. I was…interested in you then. It couldn’t be helped, we’d been living together for months by then. I think it was just a matter of time before one of us made a move. But you being how you were-”

“-meant you had to make it, right?” Shinji cut in. “But what did you want from me then?”

“To hold me…” Asuka admitted. “Instead, you just stood there like a statue.”

“Funny,” Shinji said, deciding to tease her a bit, “I seem to remember someone cutting off my air first.”

Asuka gave him a nudge to the ribs. “Did you even enjoy it? Honestly?” she questioned.

Shinji smiled widely at her. “Of course. Didn’t I say I wanted to before then?” he asked. “You just…took me off-balance with it all. How else was I supposed to react, given how things had been between us up until then?”

“I…see what you mean,” Asuka conceded. “But you liked it even when you ran out of breath?”

Shinji nodded. “Your lips were the softest thing I’d ever felt,” he explained with a wistful look. “And the warmth behind them just left me…I dunno, anything else was a pretty far cry from that.”

“And it was that moment, not really a proud one for either of us, that made you love me?” Asuka asked, laughing a short bit after. “My God, we’re both still such complete messes.”

“Maybe,” Shinji replied with a sigh. “But we can at least be messes together. And maybe we can help each other work on that.”

“You’d really be that willing?” Asuka asked.

Shinji nodded. “I’ll always be here. If you’ll have me, of course.”

Asuka remained quiet, but leaned in to press her lips to Shinji‘s. The kiss only took seconds to deepen, to the point that each felt like the other would engulf them. And they both had to admit, this was FAR better than the first time they’d done so. As she pulled away slowly, the redhead whispered to him. “As long as you want me.”

Shinji continued to smiled widely at her, his face only a little red. Looking at his watch, he spoke up. “I think we need to go back to the others. It’s almost time.”

Asuka nodded, standing from the hard concrete floor and following close behind him back to the ground floor, where the others were readying themselves for the coming mission…

*****

Fifteen minutes before midnight, the group had made it to the front door of the NERV Germany facility. The outside was very nondescript, a plain rectangular building with a single entrance in the front. “Yeah, I’d have passed this place and never known,” Misato said, staring at the structure. “Not even a logo to show on any surface.”

“Maybe we’re just too used to how NERV Tokyo-3 was set up,” Ritsuko replied. “Although I’d be surprised if it isn’t the same layout inside. I see SEELE as the kind of people who adhere to a set pattern of things.”

“Agreed,” Rei stated, looking at the guts of the front door’s electronic lock. “But this part may take some time. I am afraid I do not know how to bypass electronic locks.”

Asuka sighed and walked up beside her. “Here, lemme give something a try,” she said, reaching into her pocket to produce a blood-red card she swiped through the card reader. A soft beep and a click told them all they needed to know. “Well, I’ll be damned. Can’t believe that worked.”

Shinji stared dumbly at her, then down at the card in her hand. It was Asuka’s ID card for this branch of NERV. “No way in Hell would anyone convince me that happened,” he muttered.

“Now that’s either just the laziest shit I‘ve ever seen,” Misato began, “or they’re waiting for us.”

“I’ll bet on the latter,” Kaji said, hold his handgun at the ready. “Move slow and keep your eyes open.”

The inside was only a long hall with an elevator at the end. Piling inside, they could see that there were many choices of where to begin their search. But two seemed likely: the level that Asuka recognized as being the main floor and something marked ‘sub level‘. “Guess we’ll go from the bottom up,” she said, pressing the bottom button. Slowly, the elevator descended deep below the surface. As it traveled down, everyone on board glanced at each other. Four guns between the six of them, every one loaded and at the ready. Everyone looked prepared to meet an army head-on.

After nearly twenty minutes, the elevator came to a stop at its destination. The doors opened to show a long, barely-lit hallway that reminded some of them the lower levels of the NERV branch they’d been in so often. “This is almost identical to Terminal Dogma,” Ritsuko mused, walking with the rest of the group down the long hall. “Wait, this area…”

“Yes,” Rei spoke up. “It would have gone to the Dummy Plug Core in the Tokyo-3 facility.”

Shinji swallowed hard at the memory of that particular room. He’d seen it in some of his nightmares since then. “Wonder what they keep down here?”

“Ugh, who knows?” Misato asked. “The more NERV secrets I learn, the more I wished I didn’t know.”

As they passed one particular room, Rei stopped and stared inside. “This is…” she began.

“It’s just like the one back in Tokyo-3,” Ritsuko continued. The room they stopped in front of was almost identical to the room she’d shown Misato and Shinji, telling them it was the room Rei was ‘raised’ in. Bandages, pills, a simple bed…every detail was eerily familiar.

“What does this mean?” Rei asked. Continuing down the hall, she came to a door at the end. As she reached out to open it, she felt fear…something she hadn’t felt since her second self’s death. Opening the door, she was met with another room that was all-too-similar.

“Oh God…” Misato whispered. It was almost the same as the Dummy Plug Core she’d seen in Tokyo-3.

Rei slowly walked over to the central tube, reading the name imprinted on it. “Tabris…” she stated. “This is where they created Nagisa.”

“Y-you mean this was here the whole time?” Asuka questioned. It was insane…right below where she’d spent so much of her childhood, SEELE had created and raised the final Angel. “And if it’s like the other one…”

“…then there were others made like him,” Rei concluded. “Most likely, they became the cores of the Dummy Plugs for the EVA mass-production models.”

“Figures they couldn’t leave that damned thing well enough alone,” Ritsuko said, studying the object in the center of the room. ‘An exact likeness,’ she thought.

“I think I found the light,” Misato said from the far wall. “I don’t know if we’re ready or not, but…”

Shinji took a deep breath. He hoped the sight they’d see wouldn’t be the same as the other one. “Go ahead, Misato.”

Misato nodded and pulled on the large switch. Nine more lights came on from nine more tanks arranged around the room. Each of them was empty, only LCL inside. “I just hope it’s a good thing they’re empty,” she said, letting out the breath she’d been holding.

“Let…let’s just go, Misato,” Asuka said. “I’m already feeling sick about this all.”

“I can imagine,” Shinji replied. Looking over at Rei, who was still standing near the central tube, he spoke softly to her. “Come on, Rei. We’ve got to move on.”

Rei stared at the device for a few seconds longer before turning towards him. “Yes…we should not delay any longer.” As they left to return to the elevator, the former First Child turned back to look at the room. “I guess we really were the same, Nagisa.”

*****

After another fifteen minutes in the elevator, the group came out into the front room of the main level. It was a large open room with many pillars that narrowed after about a hundred feet into a hallway. “Not quite like back home,” Misato said.

“I think I can take it from here,” Asuka spoke up, walking to the front of the group. “I was here for a number of years, you’ll remember.” No one really disagreed with her, it did make perfect sense. Continuing into the hallway, the group soon came to a two-way split. “This way,” the redhead stated, pointing to the right path.

“We should split off a small group here,” Rei offered. “I volunteer myself. Who shall accompany me?”

“You sure that’s a good idea?” Misato asked.

“If there are already operatives here,” Rei explained, “then perhaps we could make it difficult for them to pin us into one area.”

“Sounds good enough to me,” Kaji said. “What do the rest of you say?”

The other three nodded. It wasn’t unreasonable. But it did cut their numbers down in either group. ‘Good thing that three of us are trained for this,’ Shinji thought.

Misato looked at Rei. “I’ll go with you,” she said before turning back towards the other two Children. “You two be careful, okay?” They both nodded.

“Watch your back, Katsuragi,” Kaji said with a wink.

“Watch your own,” Misato replied, following Rei closely down the opposite hall.

Kaji sighed and turned back to the others. “Guess we’re down to four now, huh?”

“You think they’ll be okay?” Shinji asked.

“You’d know as well as I would, Shinji,” Kaji answered. “Let’s go.”

The four of them slowly made their way through the corridors of the building, following Asuka’s directions until they reached an open catwalk overlooking what seemed to be an EVA cage. Peering down into it, Shinji let out a sharp gasp. “Th-that’s…”

The others looked over the side at what he’d seen, their immediate reactions similar to Shinji’s. Down below in the cage, there was a huge white form in pieces. Although the head was oddly-shaped, there was no doubt of what it was. “That’s an EVA…” Ritsuko said.

“Correct, doctor,” a voice sounded from just above them. The four of them spun around quickly, Kaji and Shinji pointing the guns they were carrying at the sound. On a catwalk several feet above and across from theirs, a middle-aged man dressed in black was standing. The boy could make out something in his left hand. “Evangelion Unit-07, to be exact,” the man continued.

“And just who the hell are you?” Kaji shouted to the man.

“Consider me…an expendable asset,” the man answered with a wide smirk. “Oh, and do lower the guns. Or else…” he trailed off, holding up the object in his hand.

Kaji’s eyes widened as he recognized the device. “Dead-man’s trigger…” he said quietly.

“What?” Shinji whispered.

“It means, mister Ikari,” the man cut in, “that if I release this…well, let’s just say it’s a long way down.”

“Assassin or mercenary?” Kaji shouted, lowering his gun.

“Call me a bit of both,” the assassin said. Then he noticed that two of them were unaccounted for. “Where’s the major and the First Child?”

“We left them in a safe location,” Kaji bluffed. “It’s only the four of us.”

“You should have brought them, too,” the assassin shot back. “You’d have needed all the manpower.”

“If that’s true, then why not just go and finish us off?” Shinji spoke up suddenly. “It’s clear that you have the drop on us.”

“Shinji, what are you-” Ritsuko began.

“Trust me on this one,” Shinji replied.

The assassin laughed coldly. “My boy…who ever said we were looking to kill YOU?”

Shinji felt his blood freeze in his veins. “Wait, you mean…”

“Of course,” the assassin cut in. “Boss’s orders say you’re to be brought in alive. Part of some ‘project’ he’s got cooked up.”

“Third Impact…” Shinji whispered. He felt the anger slowly build in him. “And what makes you think I’ll even entertain going along with that?” he shouted.

“There’s always the people around you…” the assassin said. “More to the point, the Second Child.”

Shinji looked over at Asuka, who just stared at him wide-eyed. He slowly walked over in front of her and stood his ground, holding his arms outstretched. “You want to hurt them? You’ll have to take me with them.”

Kaji and Ritsuko walked closer to them, the four of them now in the direct center of the catwalk. “Your move, asshole,” Asuka said in an angry tone.

“I‘m holding all the cards here,” the assassin said in an upset tone. “What makes you think you can order me around?”

“The fact of what your ‘boss’ will do to you if you kill me,” Shinji replied.

The assassin was currently weighing his options. If he killed the Third Child, Zero was sure to make his death as slow as humanly possible. And it seemed the boy wasn’t even concerned with his own life, only those with him. ‘Goddamn stubborn kids, they’re always mak-’

His thoughts were cut off as an arm clamped itself over his neck, a knife digging slightly into his throat. “You keep ahold of that thing or I’ll gut you, I sweat to God,” Misato whispered threateningly.

“And what will you do if I don’t, Major?” the assassin asked.

Misato dug the blade in a little more, just before breaking the skin. “You’ll wish I was as lenient as your boss,” she replied. “And don’t even think for a second I’m any less than dead serious.” The assassin didn’t reply. He knew just how serious this woman could be if pushed. “Rei, disarm that damned thing.”

Rei moved out onto the walkway and beside the man, looking over the device carefully. After a few seconds, something glowing on the top of it caught her eye. ‘Toggle switch,’ she thought, pressing it softly. A beep sounded from the device as it went offline. “It is safe now,” she stated, removing it from the assassin’s hand.

“And what now, Katsuragi?” the assassin threatened. “You don’t have what it takes to do it. You’ll just have to let me go now.”

“Hardly,” Misato said in a cold tone, barely above a whisper. She slowly brought the knife down from his neck…only to shove it forcefully into the left side of his back, giving it a slight twist. “You NEVER threaten those children, you hear me?” she whispered before releasing him, the blade sliding out of his body. A soft gasp was the last sound that escaped him as he bled out onto the catwalk.

Shinji could only stare at what had just happened. ‘She…killed for us,’ he thought. Asuka’s reaction was similar, feeling a little sick. It brought to mind the last time she’d seen a dead human being.

Rei walked over to Misato, who was still breathing heavy and staring at the dead assassin. “Major,” she said, almost a shout compared to her normal tone. Misato’s head snapped up quickly to look at her, the knife falling from her hand. “Do not dwell on it.”

Misato shook her head several times, trying to control her rage. “I’m…okay now, Rei,” she said slowly. Looking over the railing, she shouted to Asuka. “Does this come out down there?”

“Yeah, a couple hundred feet down the hall,” Asuka replied.

Misato turned to leave, taking one last look at her first kill. Shaking her head again, she followed the upper hallway to where it connected to the lower one via a small corridor. As she got closer to the children, she quickly picked up speed and took them both into a tight hug. “Oh God, I thought he was…” she tried to explain, tears threatening to burst out at any time. She slowly released her charges and took a deep breath. “I’m fine, before you ask.”

Shinji tried to smile to her as best as he could, but the assassin’s words came to mind again. “So they still need me…”

“Yes,” Rei said, walking up behind Misato. “We both heard what he said. I did not assume that Zero would resume the Instrumentality Project. And if there was someone here…”

“Then no doubt there’ll be others to meet us on the way out,” Kaji cut in.

“They’ve made a terrible mistake, then,” Shinji spoke in a voice as cold as his father’s.

“What are you talking about?” Asuka asked.

“Now I know they won’t kill me,” Shinji explained, “and that gives me an edge over them. They threatened your lives. That was their first and last mistake.”

“You’ve got some way we can just walk out of here, then?” Asuka questioned.

“I do,” Shinji began. “But I must ask you all to trust me. Implicitly.”

“I know I do,” Asuka said. Looking around the walkway, the others nodded their heads in agreement.

“Good,” Shinji said, going over to a corner of the walkway and lying down. “Look on the underside of this thing. You’ll know what you’re looking for when you see it.” He turned back to slowly peer over the edge and under the path to see exactly what he expected. Semtex, at least a pound in each block, strapped to several points the walkway. “Somebody grab my ankles.”

Kaji walked over and did so, allowing the boy to reach just far enough to take hold and dislodge one of the blocks of explosive from its place. “He wasn’t bluffing after all,” the former spy mused. “Hey, wait…you don’t mean to-”

“Yes, he does,” Rei answered. “I understand, Shinji.” She turned to the others. “Gather four more of these in the same manner.”

The group scrambled to quickly do so. After a couple of minutes, they had five blocks of the material on the walkway with them. “So…what are we going to do with these?” Misato asked.

“Each of you take one and keep it close by,” Shinji began. “Don’t worry, it’s inert right now.” The others did so, only two of them understanding his plan. “Rei, hand me that,” he said, pointing to the device she’d taken from the assassin.

Rei handed it off to him, breathing a heavy sigh. “I trust you know what to do.”

“Me too,” Shinji replied, taking the device firmly in his left hand and activating it. The five blocks of Semtex they were carrying became live once again.

All around, the others slowly understood what the plan was. “Ohmigod,” Misato whispered, feeling her hands start to shake a little. “I trust you, Shinji. But this is just…”

“I can’t see a better way to walk out of here,” Shinji replied. He tried to keep it together outwardly, but inside he was a virtual storm of anxiety. “Now stay as close as you can to me. That’ll be key.”

The rest of the group nodded, huddling around him and slowly keeping pace with him on the walk back out into the hallway. As they made it back into the large main room, clicks were heard all around the room as nearly a dozen-and-a-half heavily armed men in fatigues came out from behind the pillars. One in particular stepped forward, armed with only a pistol. “You’ll be coming with us now, boy.”

Shinji slowly raised his left hand to show them the device held by it. “You see this?” he asked, looking around the room. “You see what they’re holding, don’t you? Anything happens to them, I let this go. And if anyone lives…you’ll have to deal with your boss.”

Several of the men shuffled nervously, wondering if this kid was just bluffing or not. “You don’t have the balls,” the commanding officer spoke up.

“Just try me,” Shinji spoke using a tone not unlike his father’s. “We’ll be leaving. Now.”

“I think there maybe someone who has something to say otherwise,” the commanding officer said, placing a laptop on a nearby surface and opening it to show a screen displaying ‘SEELE-0 - SOUND ONLY’.

“At last, we finally meet,” a voice with a heavy Russian accent came from the laptop. “You have caused me far too much trouble, boy.”

“SEELE-0,” Shinji said. “I’ll give you one last chance, sir. Leave us to our lives in peace or, so help me God, I’ll bring this war right to you.”

“And what would you threaten me with, child?” Zero asked. “I hold all the cards here, including something from Tokyo-3 we need for the ceremony.”

“Unit-01...” Shinji muttered.

“Yes,” Zero continued. “While you’ve been…busy, I had my forces retrieve it and bring it to where I am.”

“And just where is that?” Shinji questioned threateningly.

“Let’s just say…the last place untouched by Second Impact,” Zero replied.

“Which you and your comrades started,” Shinji spat.

“We made miscalculations!” Zero shouted. “It was a mistake to think we could use Adam. This time, it will not be the same.”

“That’s because it won’t happen,” Shinji said. “Now order them to get out of our way. Like I said, this is your last chance.”

“I wouldn’t let your bastard of a father ruin our plans,” Zero said. “What makes you think you could?”

Shinji held the trigger device up to where the camera on the laptop could see it. “This does,” he answered. “You make a move on me OR them, your scenario will fall apart completely. Don’t think for a second that I‘m joking.”

A tense silence fell over the room. The others staring between the soldiers, the laptop, and Shinji. The soldiers looking around at the intruders and at each other. The former Third Child stared into the laptop’s camera unblinking, not looking anywhere else. On the other end, Zero stared at the boy’s expression. “Let them go,” he finally said after several terse minutes.

The commanding officer was hesitant to speak up. “S-sir, are you…sure?”

“Do not question me, lieutenant,” Zero ordered. “Unfortunately, he has the upper hand this moment.” He addressed Shinji again. “You continue thinking you can outrun my reach. Pray we do not meet again, boy.”

“The same to you,” Shinji replied. “And who said I was running anymore?”

The lieutenant closed up the laptop and stared at Shinji. “You’ll never win against him.”

“We’ll be the judge of that,” Shinji said. “Now give me the keys to whatever you arrived in.”

“And what makes you think-” the lieutenant began.

Shinji held up his other hand, his M9 held tight in it and pointed at the man’s head. “I won’t repeat that again. Now…”

The lieutenant motioned to one of the soldiers, who tossed a set of keys at the center of the group. “There. Now get out of here before I don’t care what my boss wants.”

Shinji looked out of the corner of his left eye to Misato, nodding at her. The major slowly lowered herself to the ground, picking up the keys before rising again. The group continued their snail’s-pace walk to the elevator, never once taking their eyes off the crowd of soldiers.

They piled inside, Shinji reaching out and hitting the button for the ground floor with the barrel of his gun. As the elevator’s doors closed, Shinji switched the device off and waited for the explosives to go offline before breathing in the deepest he ever had and letting go of the trigger. “Okay…we…have about five…minutes before we come…back out to the surface…” he managed in between breaths, leaning against the closed doors. “First things first,” he continued, pointing to the ceiling. “Rei, get the panel open and place one of the charges there. Someone help her up.”

Misato gave Rei a boost using her hands. As she stood on the unsteady footing, the pale girl quickly used the end of a knife to unscrew the panel and open it up before placing one of the Semtex charges near the main cables. She then quickly replaced the panel and stepped down. “What is the next step?”

“Just stand behind the others,” Shinji said, picking the trigger device back up. “We’ll have to see if anyone is waiting outside.”

The other four in the elevator picked up the blocks of explosive and held them tightly as the journey upwards continued. Just before the elevator doors opened, Shinji quickly took a tight grip on the device and toggled it back to active. The elevator arrived back into the small structure up top, the doors opening to reveal an empty lobby. As the doors closed behind them again, Rei spoke up. “We have no more than ten minutes until they are on us again.”

Shinji nodded, leading them out of the entrance. There were no soldiers here, only two black APCs parked a few feet away. “Misato, check which one the keys go to,” he began, switching the device off again. “Kaji, take two of the charges and place them on either side of the entrance. Rei, look for the any tracking devices on the vehicle the keys go to. Asuka, plant two of the charges under the other one. Doctor, stay behind one of the vehicles for cover.”

The others nodded, going about with the plan. Misato walked into the back of one of the APCs and tried the keys in the steering column. “Damn straight, got it in one,” she muttered. “It’s this one!”

Asuka quickly ran over to the other vehicle, planting a charge under the front and back sides of it. Rei inched herself under the APC Misato was in and scanned the underside for anything that’d give a signal. ‘I must hurry, they are coming,’ she thought, searching quickly. She finally located the device after another two minutes, cutting all of the wires attaching it to the APC. Sliding back out from under it, she ran into the back of the vehicle.

“Alright, let’s get clear,” Misato shouted from the driver’s seat. The others piled in quickly and took seats, buckling themselves in tightly.

“Rei, take it,” Shinji said, handing her the trigger device. “My grip’s pretty much done for now.”

Rei took it in hand and activated it, keeping it in a strong grip. Looking out one of the small view ports in the back, she caught sight of the soldiers finally having arrived back at ground level. “We must depart. Now.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” Misato said, turning the key and cranking the vehicle up. Putting her gas foot down as hard as she could, gunfire began bouncing off the back end of the APC. “Do something about them!”

“We have to get clear first,” Rei replied. They were still far too close.

Misato steered the large vehicle away from the building and in the opposite direction of Berlin. ‘Don’t need to be close to there anytime soon,’ she thought.

Rei slowly watched the entrance of the structure slowly become smaller. “I am sorry,“ she whispered, letting her grip relax and shedding a single tear.

A deep thud from underground shook the APC and a good bit of the nearby area, along with the more obvious explosions at the entrance of the facility and the other APC. “Guess there was more planted than just what was under the walkway,” Kaji said, looking out at the fires that had sprung up around the front door. As the shockwave subsided, the occupants of the APC all took in a little time in silence.

“Shinji…” Asuka finally spoke after a long time.

“Y-yeah?” Shinji asked, still not having fully calmed down.

Asuka rose from her seat quickly and stood in front of him, picking him up by the collar. “What the fuck were you thinking?” she practically screamed. “You absolute fucking prick, you almost scared me to death!” She slapped him across the face once and began hitting him on the chest, the blows becoming weaker after the first few hits.

“Asuka…” Shinji began, stopping her blows by pulling her into a hug. “I had to make sure we all got out of there. I had to take that kind of a chance. It was the best option.”

“I know, but…” Asuka managed, trying not to cry in front of the others. Shinji was one thing, but she wouldn’t be able to stand letting anyone else see her like that. “You’d have really died for us?”

Shinji nodded. “I would have. Especially you,” he said, pulling back slightly to have her look him in the eye.

“But I don’t want you to die for me!” Asuka said loudly.

“But if something happened and you…died,” Shinji whispered, letting a few tears fall, “I wouldn’t want to go on. You mean that much to me.”

Asuka couldn’t reply to that. ‘Oh God, just how deep does this go for him?’ her mind asked itself. Staring Shinji in the face, she smiled a little. “I…I’m glad you feel that strongly,” she began, the smile falling away a few second later, “but I’m going to stay pissed at you for a while for that stunt. So enjoy this, because you won’t get another one or a word from me until at least a few hours from now.” After finishing her statement, she pulled him into a kiss as fiery and smoldering as the first one they’d shared back in the hotel room.

Shinji’s breath caught for just a second before relaxing into it and focusing his attention on her. Both made faint moans and came up gasping for air more than thirty seconds later. Asuka glared at him before moving to a seat away from him in the APC. “Wh-wha…I…sorry…can’t…” was the best he could come up with, his mind clearly fogged over.

“Remember to use proper grammar, lover-boy,” Ritsuko teased. “Geez, you two really get into it.”

“I’ll say,” Kaji replied, blinking in surprise. ‘Damn, they kiss like Misato and I do,’ he thought with some amusement.

Rei moved towards the front of the APC and into the passenger side next to Misato. “Where do you suggest we go from here?” she asked the woman.

“I’ve got nothing,” Misato admitted, trying to keep the vehicle on the more out-of-the-way roads. “I’m going to need some direction soon. I’m…just a little out of my element here.”

Ritsuko moved over to where the onboard computer was and began typing away. “Give me a few minutes, I’ll tell you where they would’ve been headed with us,” she said, her fingers moving wildly. A little less than five minutes later, she stopped typing and turned towards Misato. “Head north for now, I’ll get into detail about where after that.”

“Where were they headed?” Misato questioned.

“Looks like it’s almost near the top of Denmark,” Ritsuko replied.

Rei walked back into the APC towards the scientist, looking at the information on-screen. “It appears to be a supply base with an airstrip.”

“That’s pretty out of the way for one,” Misato said, keeping her attention on the road.

Shinji, finally having regained his faculties, looked over to Rei and Ritsuko. “Wait, what was it Zero said?” he spoke up. “He said ‘the last place untouched by Second Impact’, right? Where would that be?”

Ritsuko thought on it for a moment before coming to a conclusion. “The Arctic,” she said. “It makes sense, it was the continent least affected by it. And a supply base and airstrip would be needed, if that’s right.”

Rei studied the map for a minute before returning to the seat next to Misato. “I will relay to you from Dr. Akagi where we will need to go,” she stated.

“Sounds fine to me,” Misato said, looking down at the almost-full fuel gauge. “Don’t think we’ll be have to worry about that, at least.”

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: A good start to this arc of the story, I'd say. Plenty of suspense and tension along with some explosions makes for a great time.

Like I did with SUPREMACY, we'll just save the omake for the last chapter. You could consider it something to look forward to…

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:49 am

Arc three, chapter two.

The Ikari Ultimatum ch2  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI ULTIMATUM

Chapter 2: Feeling Gravity's Pull

*****

The next day went by quickly enough, the group finding itself just outside of the base just as night was falling again. Parking the APC about half-a-mile away from the base, Misato was the last to disembark. “How do you wanna take this one?” she asked Rei as they came about two hundred feet away from the gate.

Rei surveyed the base through a pair of binoculars. A large supply plane was currently being loaded up for another trip to whatever location it was stocking. There was no real security at the base, only a small crew of engineers and workers. ‘It is hidden well enough to need very little,’ she thought. The rest of the base was nothing more than a couple of wooden buildings, at least one of them communications. “Head to the plane first and clear it. I shall be along shortly,” she explained, heading stealthily around the outside of the base limits.

Misato looked back at the others. “Come on, let’s make this as short as possible. And unless they’re armed, try to make it bloodless.”

Shinji nodded, following her down towards the plane. The other three followed them, slowly creeping to one side of the plane.

Inside the plane, one of the workers was taking his last smoke break before their flight. As he put the lighter to the cigarette, he found a gun suddenly very close to his nose. Looking down the barrel, he caught sight of a lavender-haired woman. She put a finger to her lips and motioned for him to run. The worker didn’t hesitate a bit and broke out in a sprint, heading for one of the buildings. But as he made it inside, a small pale arm came from one side of the door and promptly knocked him cold.

The others slowly worked their way inside the cargo bay of the large plane. There were no more than four or five crew inside, not a one of them armed. ‘I guess that’s one small miracle,’ Misato thought. Clearing her throat, she continued pointing the gun in their direction, Kaji and Shinji joining in. “We’ll make this simple,” she began. “Get out now, and you’ll all walk away unharmed.” Like the first guy, these men wasted no time in making a retreat.

Opening the cockpit door, Kaji was met by the pilot reaching for his own weapon. “Ah, I wouldn’t do that,” he warned the man. The pilot made a grab for it, only to be caught on the side of the head by the bottom of a handgun. “Told you,” the former spy said, pulling the unconscious man from the plane. “Gimme a hand with this one, Misato.”

Misato grabbed the man’s legs and helped Kaji move him out onto the tarmac. “Not bad, not one had to be seriously injured,” she said. At that moment, she saw Rei approaching her from her peripheral vision. In one of her hands was a large case. “Where’d you go?”

“Communications have been severed,” Rei said, “and I have gathered something we will need at our destination.”

“You know how to fly one of these things?” Misato asked, following her inside the plane.

“Yes, I have been trained in the operation of many types of aircraft,” Rei explained, opening the cockpit door. Placing herself in the pilot’s chair, she resumed the start-up procedure the pilot had begun. “I would suggest you close the back hatch and seat yourselves. This will be a more…unstable ride than the VTOL was.”

As Misato moved past him, Shinji took a moment to seat himself and look about the plane. It had apparently not been fully loaded up when they arrived, as there was still a lot of open room in the cargo storage portion of the plane.

Asuka sat down next to him. “You alright?”

“I thought you weren’t talking to me,” Shinji said, trying to lighten the mood.

Asuka gave him a small shove. “Oh, that was yesterday. I’m okay with it now,” she replied. “At the time, you really scared the shit outta me, you know?”

“Sorry about that,” Shinji said, “but you know I had to bluff them that way to make it out safely.”

“Really playing this one close to the chest, huh?” Asuka questioned.

“As close as you are to it,” Shinji replied with a smile.

“Save the corny romantic stuff until we’re done,” Asuka said, her mood turning serious. “With any luck, it’ll all be over by tomorrow.”

Shinji nodded, looking across to Misato. The older woman flashed him a smile that shouted ‘we’ll be alright’. Kaji offered him a similar grin, although neither eased the knot in the boy’s gut. ‘Guess we’ll just see what the plan is in small steps,’ he thought, trying to relax as he felt the plane slowly move down the runway and off the ground…

*****

A few hours later, the plane was moving quickly over Arctic airspace and towards Zero’s location. Ritsuko had taken on navigation while Rei piloted. “Looks like it’s between two-ninety and three hundred miles from the center of the continent,” she told the girl. “We’ll be over it in just short of twelve minutes.”

“Understood,” Rei said, making another check of the plane’s gauges.

In the back of the plane, Shinji sat quietly and continually went over the plan in his head. “Little nervous?” Asuka questioned.

Shinji looked up at her, puzzled. Asuka pointed to his hands, which were currently shaking. “Yeah…” he answered. “I’m just ready to get this all done with. I want to go back to normal…hell, I‘d even take boring.”

“I hear you there,” Asuka replied, letting out a sigh. “This has definitely been the longest week-and-a-half of my life.”

The cockpit door opened up, Rei and Ritsuko walking out into the cargo bay. “We are nearing our destination,” the girl stated, moving towards the very back of the plane. “I suggest we prepare.”

The others stood up from their places and began to gather whatever gear they’d need. “So, how close are we going to land?” Misato asked.

“Um…we’re not landing in the conventional sense,” Ritsuko said, shaking her head a bit.

“Huh? I don’t get it,” Misato replied.

Rei opened up a large compartment near the tail end of the plane, revealing a rack of large backpacks and thick white jackets. She handed the woman one of each. “The plane has been set into auto-pilot to land approximately five hundred feet past the coordinates,” she explained. “We must be off by then.”

Misato stared at the pack she’d been handed, realization dawning. “Wait…you can’t possibly mean-”

“Yes,” Rei stated, handing the same items out to the others. “We must make an insertion by air.”

Kaji almost laughed at that. “Not exactly what they’ll be expecting,” he said, putting the jacket and pack on.

“What’s she talking about?” Asuka questioned.

Misato looked as pale as death. “We’re…jumping.”

Asuka stared at her before snapping her head around to Rei. “Oh you better damn well be kidding…” she said, her voice a little shaky.

“I am not,” Rei continued, strapping on her own parachute. “There is no eye protection available, so keep your eyes shut on the way down. After jumping, count off ten seconds and pull this,” she said, touching a large pull ring near her right shoulder. “Should it fail, there is a backup here,” she finished, motioning to a smaller one across her abdomen. She walked back over to the very back of the plane and turned to the others. “Are there any objections?” she asked, her hand on the tail release lever.

The others looked around the room at one another. This certainly wasn’t the most sane plan, but just knocking on the front door was far crazier. “At least there’s some cover from a snowstorm right now,” Ritsuko said. “It’ll give us more time until they see us.”

Shinji sighed deeply. This wasn’t something he’d ever pictured himself doing. Then again, neither was anything else that had happened in the last few months. “I…I guess we’re as ready as we’ll be,” he told Rei.

Rei nodded. “Hang on to the rungs overhead,” she said. After everyone had taken a firm hold, she pulled the lever. The tail blew off the back of the plane in a loud ‘bang’, falling into the snowstorm and disappearing. “We must depart now if we are to land safely out of sight,” she spoke loudly (for her) and flung the long case she’d brought onboard out of the plane, a small parachute tied to it.

“Supply drop?” Misato shouted over the wind. Rei nodded, walking over to the open end and falling backwards into the abyss. The major stared out of the plane, no longer able to see the girl. “This is crazy…”

“Oh come on, Misato,” Kaji said, walking toward the open end. “It’ll be fun.”

“You’ve done this before?” Misato asked.

“Once or twice,” Kaji replied. “Not on-the-job, mind you. I jumped for the thrill.”

“You have some idea of fun,” Misato muttered, rolling her eyes.

“Let’s go,” Kaji said, taking her arm and walking them both towards the edge. Misato looked back to the others, giving them a queasy smile before the former spy pulled them both out of the plane…a short loud yelp being the last sound she made upon exiting.

Ritsuko shook her head, giving an uneasy laugh. “She’s right about one thing, this is nuts,” she said. Walking over to the edge, she took a deep breath before hopping out.

“Well, that just leaves us,” Asuka stated. Looking over at Shinji, she saw that his shaking hands had become worse. “Oh really, this isn’t any different than an exit catapult!”

“Except without an entry plug full of LCL for cushioning,” Shinji spoke in an anxious tone. “Or an EVA, either.”

Asuka shrugged. “Hey, no way out now but down,” she replied. Grabbing ahold of both of his hands, she gave them a small squeeze before letting go. After that, she walked to the edge and did her best swan dive off the plane.

“Always showing off,” Shinji said with a grin. Looking down into the storm, he swallowed hard and sighed. ‘No way out but down,’ his mind repeating Asuka’s words. Deciding not to look down, he slowly closed his eyes and stepped out into the sky.

Shinji would have screamed, had he found the air to do so. From here, all he could do was count off ten seconds in his head. Shocked as he was, he still wanted to land safely on ground level. As he came to ten, he pulled the release cord. The sudden upward acceleration dug the parachute harness into several points of his body. Grunting in pain, he opened his eyes when the floating sensation kicked in. There wasn’t much to see besides snow, but he could barely make out the dark grey of the others’ parachutes. It seemed they were already on the ground.

As the snow underfoot came up fast, Shinji steadied himself for a somewhat hard landing. He landed with a thud, his legs digging a few inches into the snow. Quickly sitting up and cutting away the parachute’s ropes with a knife he’d brought from the APC, he looked through the white haze for any shapes. “Asuka?” he shouted into the loud winds, his breathing ragged and shaky from the freefall. “Rei? Misato?”

A hand laid across Shinji’s left shoulder. “I’m here,” Asuka said. “So what’d you think?”

“T-that was…” Shinji shook his head, trying to slow his elevated heart rate. “I don’t ever wanna do that again.”

“Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” Asuka said, helping Shinji to his feet. “And slow your breathing or your lungs will freeze.“ They walked forward a few feet, peering into the storm. Some distance away, three taller shapes came out from the wind-driven snow. “There they are,” she said, running over to the others.

“You could’ve given me some warning you were gonna pull me out of the goddamn plane!” Misato’s raised voice just barely came through to them. Whatever response Kaji gave her was lost in the noise of the wind.

“Everybody here?” Shinji asked as he and Asuka approached the other three. They nodded, looking about for the remaining person they’d left with. “Where’s Rei?”

“She leapt first,” Kaji explained, “so maybe she’s just a little further behind than us.”

“I am here,” Rei just barely spoke, walking up to the others. In one hand was the case she’d dropped from the plane. Taking a moment to place it down, she opened the case.

Misato peered into the container, finding the contents no real surprise. It was a G3A1 rifle, along with a few clips and a suppressor. The last item she couldn’t identify, though. “I get why the rest of this,” she asked, “but what is that?”

“Thermal imaging sights,” Rei answered. “I took them from the armory at the supply base, knowing it would help us cross through to our destination.” She attached the two parts to the weapon, turning on the sights. Looking down the scope, she turned in the direction of where the plane had been heading. It appeared to be a base, not very different than the Berlin facility had been but a good deal larger. ‘Most of it is probably below the surface, as well,’ she thought.

“So where was it that the plane was headed?” Misato asked.

“It appears to be a base,” Rei explained. “It resembles the previous NERV bases in other countries, but I would surmise it to be larger.” Looking around the front of the base, she spied four thermal signatures near the building. “Stay low and follow me, there are sentries.”

The others followed close behind, keeping as low to the ground as they could. Rei stopped a few yards away, taking another view through the scope at the guards. ‘Four of them, armed with submachine guns,’ she thought, trying to make out any details. The nearest appeared to be about one-hundred-fifty yards away. She crouched down in the snow and lined up, taking the wind into account. Setting the weapon to three-round burst, she let out a breath and squeezed the trigger. Through her sights, she saw the rounds impact the guard center mass. “One down,” she whispered.

Moving forward a couple of dozen yards, Rei once again got low to the ground and took aim. The next three were posted much closer together, two out on the ice and one near what looked like an entrance on the building. One of them being taken out would no doubt alert the others. She decided the one closest to the door, it may just go unnoticed by the other two. She took the shot, three rounds striking the guard’s neck and right shoulder. ‘A little off, but it should be enough,’ she thought.

As they moved closer, a loud crash took everyone’s attention past the base and towards a small tower of smoke some distance away. Using the distraction to her advantage, Rei quickly ran closer to the last two guards and set the gun to full-auto. As the two became aware of her presence, she fired short bursts at both of them. Both men fell dead, red seeping into the white snow. “It is clear,” she said, motioning for the others to move towards the entrance.

As they moved past, Misato took a gun from one of the dead guards. “I think we’ll be needing a bit more firepower,” she said, handing Ritsuko her NERV-issued handgun. “Take this. Here’s hoping you won’t need it.”

Ritsuko nodded in agreement. “You and me both,” she replied. The two women walked over to the entrance, which was locked by a card reader. “Great, more setbacks.”

“No, this is simple enough to get around,” Rei stated. She searched the dead guard next to the door, finding his access card. “I knew one of them must have it.”

“Remind me never to get on your bad side, Rei,” Asuka said, staring at the dead mean in the snow behind them.

Swiping the card through the slot, Rei heard a click. She pressed the button below the slot, the door sliding open to reveal a long hall leading to an elevator. “It is built exactly like the Berlin base,” she said.

“Then that just makes things a bit easier for us,” Misato said, pressing the elevator call button. It arrived soon after, the group piling inside. Before anyone could press anything, the elevator doors closed and began moving down on its own. “Tell me that’s not a bad sign,” the former major thought aloud.

“Everybody stay alert,” Kaji said, taking the safety off his handgun. “They know we’re here.”

*****

The elevator arrived on a floor far below the surface. The group disembarked and slowly followed the corridors heading further into the facility. The halls certainly reminded them of other NERV bases, all plain metallic colors and nothing decorating them that wasn’t functional. Most of the doors they passed led to various storerooms and empty space. “What in the hell is this place?” Asuka asked. “It’s way too damned empty to be in use.”

“It appears this place was finished for a long time, but only recently being prepared for use,” Rei guessed. “But the lack of any personnel is troubling.”

“Armed guards out front and no one inside,” Misato said. “I was expecting more than that.”

“Maybe they’re investigating the crash?” Shinji offered.

“Makes sense,” Misato replied. “But still, not a soul…”

“Yes, it is strange,” Rei said. She rounded another corner, leading the others deeper into the structure. “This level is built similarly to the Tokyo-3 base’s Central Dogma level. There should be a secure elevator ahead that will lead us to the Commander’s office.”

“And that’s where we’ll find Zero…” Shinji said quietly. He felt the anger try to rise in him, barely held in place. ‘This ends here, no matter what,’ he thought, a mirror of his words on the night of the raid NERV headquarters over a month ago.

Before they rounded the next corner, a click and a laugh stopped the group in their tracks. “I would not go any further if I were any of you,” a soft male voice spoke.

All six of them whirled around to face the room’s newest occupant. A figure with red eyes and light grey hair. “You…you are dead,” Rei said in surprise.

“Oh, how nice of you to remember that,” someone who appeared to Kaworu Nagisa replied, pointing a large .45-caliber handgun at them, “especially considering it was you who killed me.” He was dressed in white fatigues, the same as the guards at the entrance had been in. He quickly swiped a card through the reader on the wall next to him, a blast door coming down in the middle of the group. It came down right on Shinji’s gun, crushing the metal of the barrel and breaking it into several pieces. The former Third Child found himself on one side with the other boy, the rest of the group on the other.

“Shinji? Shinji!” Asuka shouted, pounding on the steel wall. “Goddamn it, somebody do something!”

“I thought Nagisa was dead?” Kaji asked.

“He was,” Rei replied. “I made sure of that myself.”

“Then what the hell was that?” Asuka yelled, a few stray tears falling unnoticed.

“I…do not know,” Rei admitted. “But we will not abandon Shinji. Keep watch down the other halls, and look for another way to open this wall.”

“But Nagisa was an Angel!” Misato shouted. “How could Shinji possibly-”

“Trust me, Major,” Rei replied. “If that was indeed Nagisa, then he is…less than what he was before.”

“What does that mean?” Ritsuko asked.

“I cannot explain now,” Rei continued. “But suffice to say, this is not an impossible task for Shinji. It concerns my own experiences with being dead and…reborn.”

Misato continued staring at the former First Child. On one hand, she was worried for the boy that had gotten separated from them. On the other, Rei always seemed to know far more than she told. “I’ll trust you on this for now, Rei,” she whispered. “But you’d better hope he comes back alive.”

“I already am,” Rei said. She placed a hand on Asuka’s right shoulder. “All you can do for him right now is hope.”

Asuka looked up at Rei, giving her a nod before turning back to the steel shutter. “Shinji…” she whispered. “Come back to us.”

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Not quite expecting that, were you? I've left you guys with cliffhangers before, so at least that part is nothing new.

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:49 am

Arc three, chapter three.

The Ikari Ultimatum ch3  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI ULTIMATUM

Chapter 3: Mice and Gods

*****

Shinji, meanwhile, found himself face-to-face with the Fifth Child…or at least, it looked like him. “Who are you?” he asked in a threatening tone. “You look like him, but that’s impossible. I saw Nagisa die right in front of Unit-01.”

“I’m hurt, Shinji,” Kaworu said with a smirk. “I would think you’d remember someone who was about to kill you.”

“How the hell can you still be alive?” Shinji asked.

“Ah, now that is an interesting tale,” Kaworu explained. “Yes, the original body of Kaworu Nagisa was indeed killed right there. But as you no doubt saw in Berlin, there are…more of me.”

“So what then, there’s more of you in this base?” Shinji questioned.

“Oh no,” Kaworu replied with a shake of his head. “Nagisa, or I should say Tabris, was the vessel for Adam’s soul. With him killed, the soul returned to its rightful body. But when Unit-01 crushed Commander Ikari, it killed Adam as well. He was connected to your father, after all.”

“Then what does that make you?” Shinji asked.

“I was the last of the cores for the Dummy Plug,” Kaworu continued. “Unit-09, to be exact. I was the only one not already wired into my paired device. I awoke two weeks ago in the Moscow branch of NERV. You see, that’s why that facility had to be purged. Unit-09 was taken from there to here, along with myself.”

“But why go back to working for SEELE?” Shinji asked. “You seemed content to finish things back in Tokyo-3.”

“I…cannot,” Kaworu said slowly. “Somewhere in the transition from Adam’s body to this one, I lost the ability to project the light of my soul.”

“The AT field…” Shinji spoke under his breath.

Kaworu nodded. “But make no mistake, I could still kill you all without it. I have been trained so,” he explained. “I am only going along with the old man until I can regain my power. Then, I shall find Adam’s body and complete my task.”

“They’ve got Adam?” Shinji questioned.

“Of course,” Kaworu replied. “The Commander’s body was still in Unit-01’s grip when they brought it here. Zero feared Adam’s power because of Second Impact, and so he had it buried deep out on the ice of this continent. Without my AT field, I cannot feel its presence.”

“So you’re just biding your time until you can,” Shinji concluded. “That makes you no more human than me right now.”

“And what will you do? Kill me?” Kaworu mocked. “You were unable to last time, and I doubt you have the will to do so now.” He returned the gun to its holster on his left thigh. “But I shall humor you, if you want to believe you can win,” he finished, reaching behind his back to pull out a knife with a four-inch blade.

Shinji stared hard at the other boy, trying to suppress the fear that threatened to bubble up from his gut. He had been training with Asuka for over a month now, more than ready for real combat. But this was the real thing…no mercy, no surrender. He removed his jacket and brought out the utility knife he’d been carrying, raising it in a defensive stance. It was shorter, but no less lethal in trained hands.

“Well, then…let us commence,” Kaworu said. He made the first move and quickly lunged at Shinji, who used his own knife to deflect the stab and give the grey-haired boy a hard backhand across the face. He stumbled back, a little surprised by the former Third Child’s resistance. “Taking it more seriously this time, are we?” he asked, a small amount of blood in the corner of his mouth. He quickly made two wide swipes with the edge of the blade, barely catching Shinji’s left arm with the second.

Shinji grunted in pain a little and grabbed Kaworu’s arm with his free hand, twisting it hard and kneeing him in the ribs. His opponent quickly recovered and slashed wildly at him, just missing his stomach. The former Third Child took a swing with his own weapon, just grazing Nagisa’s face and leaving behind a long cut.

Kaworu touched the wound and looked at his hand. “It has been some time since I’ve seen my own blood,” he mused. For the next few seconds, the short hallway rang with the sound of steel-on-steel as both did their damnedest to block and evade the other’s knives.

Kaworu seized one of Shinji’s blocks to quickly twist his arm and knock the utility knife from his hand. “And what will you do disarmed?” he asked, kicking the blade down the hall. Shinji didn’t reply, only standing his ground and giving the other boy a look that (if they could) would kill. “Very well, then,” he finished. Taking a step forward, he performed a combination of swipes and thrusts. The brown-haired boy dodged them with some effort before finding an opening. Once it had been presented, he firmly took hold of Kaworu’s knife-holding arm and gave him a hard punch directly in the center of his face. Before the grey-haired boy could react to that, Shinji quickly removed the knife from his grasp and plunged it through his opponent’s left hand with a yell and a kick to the midsection.

Laid out on the floor after that attack, Kaworu slowly rose to his feet and looked at his own knife through his hand. “You do not understand,” he spoke with a slight anger in his tone, “ignoring pain was one of the first things the old men taught me.” Pulling the knife free from his palm, he continued. “I believe you broke my nose with that last punch. I will have to repay you in kind.” He quickly took a number of small slashes at Shinji, several of them catching his limbs. None were deep or caused much bleeding, but each of them hurt quite a bit.

Kaworu tossed the knife aside, deciding to do the rest with his hands. While Shinji was dealing with the pain of his lacerations, the Fifth Child closed the short distance and began assaulting him with hard punches to the face and ribs. Shinji was almost certain one of the last blows had broken a couple of them. Kaworu reached into a pocket of his uniform to remove a small punch dagger, its blade barely two inches long. He made a few swipes with it before launching himself on the other boy, bringing them both down to the floor and digging the small weapon deep into the former Third Child’s left arm.

Shinji found himself unable to scream from the pain. It had literally taken the air from him. He wordlessly tried to fight through it, but this was unlike any pain he’d ever felt…at least in an EVA, it was only imagined pain. No, this was far more real. He couldn’t move much, the blade in his arm effectively nullifying it and not a weapon within reach of his other hand.

Kaworu placed his left knee onto Shinji’s chest and steadied himself with his right leg, his right hand still on the dagger in the other boy’s arm. “Don’t struggle, it’ll only hurt more,” he whispered, leaning in close. “I have been waiting for this since I met you in Tokyo-3.” He dug the blade just a little more. “I know I hit bone,” he continued, relishing the expression on the former Third Child’s face. “And don’t you dare pass out on me now, we still have so much more to get to.”

Shinji was fighting hard to stay conscious, the pain in his arm making everything come through in a haze. Slowly, his vision settled down on the gun on Kaworu’s left leg. The holster’s clasp was unbuttoned, the weapon just ready to be freed. He slowly moved his right hand out to it, trying to remain unnoticed.

Kaworu smiled evilly at the boy under him. “The old man wants you broken for his scenario,“ he explained, lost in the moment. “For starters, I’ll just kill the older members of your group quickly. They mean nothing to me.” He took a second to grab his nose and twist it back into place, a small amount of blood coming from both nostrils. “I’m going to take my time with the First,” he continued. “I owe her much for how she killed the previous me. Then I’m going to ensure I make it slowest for the Second. And you’ll watch every nanosecond of it…”

Shinji’s eyes took on a hard edge and he found the strength to block out the pain for just a bit. Reaching forward quickly with his right arm, he took an upside-down hold of the gun in Kaworu’s holster and jerked it free before digging it hard into the underside of the other boy’s jaw. “You…you never should…have brought Asuka into…this,” he struggled to talk, closing his eyes and using his little finger to pull the trigger. A loud bang and a splash of warmth on his face were the immediate sensations he felt, soon followed by just under a hundred pounds of deadweight hitting the floor. He tossed the gun away and opened his eyes, looking down to see the Kaworu’s body. There was a small wound under his chin and a much larger exit wound in his scalp.

Shinji slowly sat up, pain shooting everywhere through his body. He picked up his discarded jacket and one of the knives, cutting one of the sleeves from the coat and some of the lining. He looked at the punch dagger, still stuck in his left arm, and took ahold of it with his right hand. Tensing himself, he pulled hard on it and freed it from his flesh. As the blood began to flow from the wound, he quickly took the lining he’d cut from the jacket and placed it over the wound, using the sleeve he’d cut from the same garment to tie the makeshift gauze tightly into place.

With his main wound dressed for the immediate future, Shinji slowly stood up and walked over to his dead opponent. “I sincerely hope you were the last one,” he said, gritting his teeth to fight off the pain. Reaching down to Kaworu’s body, he removed the card from his pocket. Walking back over to the reader, he swiped it through and started heading back over to the steel shutter.

As the shutter came up, those who had been waiting on the other side got a good look at the scene before them. “Shinji!” Asuka shouted, sprinting over to him in time to catch him mid-fall. “Don’t you die on me, you hear me?” she asked, holding him close.

“Loud…and clear…” Shinji muttered, trying to gather whatever strength he had left. He managed to get back to his feet with Asuka’s help and walk over to the others. “S…sorry for worrying you…Misato,” he said to the woman.

Misato could only stare at him in a mix of relief and horror. She was elated he was alive, but shocked at his physical state. “Oh God, I thought he…” she began, trying not to tear up.

Kaji stared down at Kaworu’s body. “I don’t get it, we saw him die back in Tokyo-3 weeks ago,” he said.

As Shinji told them what Kaworu had said, Ritsuko tended to his injuries. She tied off portions of his already-used jacket to his other cuts and retied the main one on his arm. “Only this one is serious,” she explained. “The others won’t bleed for more than a little while, and the cloth will be enough to soak it up. He did do a number on your ribs, though. At least two or three of them feel broken.”

“I figured as much,” Shinji said, finally able to speak evenly again. “I just hope nothing’s permanent.”

Ritsuko shook her head. “I wouldn’t think so,” she said, helping him to his feet.

“Are you well enough to continue on?” Rei asked him.

Shinji nodded. “Yeah…we’ve still things to finish,” he replied.

Asuka moved to his right side and steadied Shinji, putting one of his arms over her shoulders. “Well come on then, let’s not keep that bastard waiting any longer,” she said.

Shinji nodded and followed them down the hall. At the end was another elevator, this one open and waiting for them. “Here we go,” he said softly as they piled into the elevator…

*****

The elevator deposited them into a dark office. The group walked in the large room, looking around for any movement. Misato and Ritsuko both noted how much it resembled Commander Ikari’s, the same ornate patterns on the floor casting a small amount of light through the room. Across the way was a large desk. A light came from behind it, revealing a bearded man in his late fifties wearing some sort of ceremonial robe. “Ah yes, so good of you to finally arrive,” he spoke up, his voice echoing all around.

Four guns were raised the man’s direction. “SEELE-0...” Misato said. “I can’t say it’s an honor.”

“Major, you should be less concerned with me and more with yourself,” Zero said, snapping his fingers. In an instant, dozens of armed soldiers stepped out from the shadows around the room and raised their weapons towards the group. “Now if you’ll be so kind, drop your weapons.”

Misato looked around the room at their odds. There had to be at least thirty soldiers and only the six of them. Even between all three Children, things were definitely not in their favor. She slowly lowered her weapon onto the floor, the others following suit soon after.

“See what can happen when you decide to be reasonable?” Zero asked. He then turned to Shinji. “Now then, boy…you have a task ahead of you.”

Shinji smiled coldly at the man that had been hunting him for the last several turbulent days. “Begging your pardon, sir,” he began, his voice almost dripping with venom, “but…you can just pick up one of those guns and go fuck yourself with it. I gave you my answer in Berlin. I won’t repeat myself.”

“Defiant to the last, huh?” Zero questioned with a snort. “You and your father had that in common…”

“That and my mother were all we had in common,” Shinji replied, wincing from the pain in his side.

“And what in the world will you do now?” Zero asked. “You’re clearly injured and outnumbered. No one is coming to help. What makes you think you have any say in this matter?”

Shinji took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Because I’m a human being with free will,” he answered. “And I decided that I won’t be your instrument of fate. Mankind may have done some horrible things, but that doesn’t give you the right to decide for them!”

“And who does? You, perhaps?” Zero shot back. “Relent that manner of thinking, mankind need this to move forward.”

“No,” Shinji replied. “We’ve survived Second Impact. I think that proves that man should continue to live on.”

Zero leaned back in his chair and sighed. “You won’t be convinced otherwise, will you?” he asked. Shinji shook his head slowly. “Very well then,” he said, turning to look at the soldiers. “Try to spare the boy. Kill the others.”

Across the room, weapons were readied and safeties were clicked off. As the soldiers raised their guns in his direction, Shinji shut his eyes and hugged Asuka tightly. “I’m sorry it had to end like this,” he whispered to her. Asuka didn’t answer, only closing her eyes as well.

The sounds of gunfire rang loudly throughout the office for several seconds. As quiet settled over the room, Shinji wondered if he was still alive or not. The pain all over his body certainly answered for him. Snapping his eyes open suddenly, he saw Rei standing with her arms outstretched at her sides…and a familiar octagonal glow a few feet from them. “Rei…” he whispered.

The others slowly opened their eyes to see just what he had. Across the room, most of the soldiers had been caught unaware by the ricochets, now lying in pools of their own blood. A little over thirty had been thinned to under a dozen in seconds.

“That’s an AT field…” Ritsuko said, staring wide-eyed at Rei. “How did you…”

Rei stared towards Zero, anger shining in her eyes. “You will not harm them any further,” she warned.

If Zero was shocked, he hid it well. “It finally makes sense why Ikari kept you close,” he spoke, his voice not wavering an inch. He reached across the desk to press a button. “Tabris,” he said. There was silence on the other end for a few seconds. “Tabris, I need you in here now,” he repeated, louder this time.

“He is dead,” Rei answered. “You have lost any advantage you had. Call off the rest,” she ordered, motioning to the remaining guards in the room.

Zero thought it over for a moment before deciding. “Leave us,” he said. Noticing no movement after a few seconds, he began again. “Now.” The soldiers slowly gathered the alive and injured and walked over to the elevator, taking it back down to the main level. “I had a feeling about you…Lilith,” he said to Rei, standing up from the desk.

“I am not Lilith,” Rei started. “I am Rei Ayanami, designated First Child and former pilot of Evangelion Unit-00.“ She stopped here to take a deep breath. “And I wish to be free of that fate.”

“But you are the vessel for her soul, are you not?” Zero asked, stopping a few feet from her. “I do not understand why you would side with them. You have a purpose far greater than-”

“I am done with my purpose,” Rei cut him off. “I am done being anyone’s tool or puppet.”

“And you believe that you are no different than them?” Zero questioned, pointing to the group behind her. “You delude yourself. You are a god among mice, indeed.”

“They are my friends,” Rei said, “and we are done here. There is nothing you can do to harm them or myself any further.”

Zero sighed. “If that is truly how you feel, then…” he trailed off, reaching into his robe to retrieve his own sidearm. As he turned back towards the group, a shot rang through the room. Shinji shut his eyes involuntarily at the sound. When he opened them, he saw that Zero had a small hole in his forehead. The man fell backwards to the ground, effectively the end of SEELE.

Looking for the source of the shot, Shinji saw Asuka standing with Misato’s gun in hand and smoke coming from its barrel. “Just shut up and give us back our lives,” she spoke in a cold tone. “I want to go back to…to before you found us…” she trailed off, letting the gun drop to the floor and sinking to her knees. Shinji crouched next to the redhead, holding her close and trying to console her.

Misato walked over to Rei. ”What he said…was it true?” she asked.

Rei nodded, looking down at the floor. “Yes,” she began. “My body is made from her flesh and it contains her soul…but I am not Lilith. I am…me.”

“How did you know how to…do that?” Ritsuko questioned, still shocked. “I mean, I knew what you are, but I didn’t know…”

“I did not until Shinji repeated Nagisa’s words,” Rei explained. “I knew from my second self’s death that there is some…loss of ability and memory with passing from one vessel to another. It takes time to regain both, but I was only aware of my ability to generate an AT field when he reappeared. That is how I knew Nagisa was unable to generate his any longer, I could not…sense him. He would have relearned how to do it in time.”

“So, what you’re saying is,” Kaji asked, “you played a gamble?”

Rei nodded. “If that is how you wish to put it, then yes,” she said, looking back down to the floor again. “But I am afraid my…nature will cause you to look at me differently.”

Shinji stood up and walked slowly over to her. “Rei…never think you’re any less than our friend,” he said. “You’ve saved my life more than enough times for me to call you that.”

“Th…thank you, Shinji,” Rei said quietly, a tear running down her cheek.

Shinji moved back closer to Asuka. “Are you okay now?” he asked.

Asuka stood up and looked down at Zero’s body. “Yeah, it’s just…” she began, turning away from the sight, “I’ll let it go in time.”

“I’ll be there to help,” Shinji whispered to her.

Rei crouched down and searched through Zero’s robe, finding the device she’d been seeking a few seconds later. “We must go now, they will be coming back.”

“What’s that?” Misato asked, pointing to the device. It appeared to be a touch-screen handheld computer.

“It will become apparent soon enough,” Rei said, typing away for a few seconds. When she finished, a light shown behind the desk onto a large lift. “Get on, this will take us further inside.”

“I thought we were leaving,” Misato replied.

“We are,” Rei explained, “but we cannot leave Unit-01 in their hands. This lift will take us to a temporary cage set up here. The EVA is also the safest means to escape from here.”

“So, inside the beast once more…” Shinji thought aloud. He walked over to the lift with the others, ready to leave this particularly cold slice of Hell behind for good…

*****

The lift came out into a room that looked a lot like the control bridge back in the NERV headquarters at Tokyo-3, only more closed in. A large window on the right side looked down into what appeared to be another white EVA unit under construction. ‘Unit-09...’ Shinji thought. Across the way in another makeshift cage, he saw the familiar machine he’d piloted so often in the past. ‘I guess I just can’t escape you, can I?’

Rei input a few commands into the device she’d taken off Zero’s body. “The lift is in lockdown,” she said. “No one will be entering from the office.”

“So, just what is that he was carrying?” Ritsuko asked, moving station-to-station to prepare Unit-01 for startup. ‘This’d be a lot easier with a crew,’ she mused.

“This is the override control for the base,” Rei answered. “This was how he led us to him.”

“Any possibility you could start the EVA from here?” Ritsuko questioned.

Rei shook her head. “I am afraid not,” she replied, “although there is a catapult on one end of the floor below that I can prepare for use.“ She input the catapult override, a loud sound far overhead ringing out. “How soon can Unit-01 be prepared?”

Ritsuko looked over the information on three different screens. “Let’s see…” she began, “entry plug was still inserted since the last time it was at headquarters. Everything reads green across the board, nothing unusual detected. We’ll just have to see what happens when Shinji gets in.”

Misato looked over at the boy. “One last time, then,” she spoke softly. “Good luck.”

“I hope this is the last time,” Shinji replied, moving towards the exit to the outside catwalk.

“Hey, wait a sec,” Asuka spoke up, taking off her jacket and walking up beside him. “I’m coming with you.”

“Are you sure?” Shinji asked.

“Look, one of your arms is pretty damaged right now,” Asuka explained. “You’ll need me to get us out of here. Besides…I want to get into an EVA again. What did you think I was gonna do, ride in its hands?”

Shinji smiled at the little bit of her old attitude coming back. “Okay…sure,” he replied.

“Wait,” Rei called out, looking through a case on the far wall. She removed two items and tossed them to Shinji, who just barely caught them. It was a plastic bag containing two pairs of white A10 connectors. “It is fortunate they came prepared.”

Shinji gave her a quick smile before handing Asuka one pair. Affixing them onto their heads, they opened the door and walked out onto the catwalk in front of the EVA. “Guess it’s once more for us, mother,” he said, looking up at the machine, the entry plug sticking out from its neck.

For the next few minutes, Ritsuko maneuvered a crane to remove the entry plug and place it as close to the catwalk as she could. The two teens steeped inside of the dark capsule, grabbing hold of the seat. Shinji took his usual seat, memories of the first time he piloted coming to him. Asuka took hold of the side of the seat, climbing onto the edge and into his lap. “Like I said on the bike,” she began, “no funny ideas here. It’s our asses on the line.”

“Yes ma’am,” Shinji teased, giving her a small smile. The plug was slowly raised to the neck of the EVA, clamped and slid into place right after. The lights in the plug came on a few seconds later, the LCL filling up the small chamber. ‘Always hated this part,’ he thought darkly. ‘Guess you never get used to some things.‘ As it passed over their heads, they took deep breaths of the amber liquid. Both gagged a little, not having breathed it in for a long time. It became clear just after, the familiar pattern of lights signaling the startup procedure had almost finished.

“Okay, pilot connected to EVA,” Ritsuko’s voice came over the comm as the restraining bolts were loosened. “Synch rate holding at fifty-three-point-seven percent. Not bad, considering neither of you has been in one for months.”

“It feels…different than Unit-02,” Asuka said. “Like this tingle where my spine meets my head.”

“It’s always felt like for me,” Shinji told her. “It gives me a headache.”

“See? Mine was more advanced, after all,” Asuka stated proudly. “Even if yours was more important…”

Shinji turned on the audio link to the command center. “Alright, everyone out to the walkway,” he said. “Take hold of the left trigger, Asuka.”

Asuka nodded, grabbing ahold of the left device and mirroring his right hand’s actions. Shinji willed the machine to put a hand out next to the walkway. As the others neared it, he switched the comm to open. “Get in the palm, we’re going back to the surface,” his voice sounded from the EVA.

Before she stepped onto Unit-01’s hand, Rei motioned to Shinji. “When we exit back onto the surface,” she said, “move at least one thousand yards away and extent the EVA’s AT field to maximum strength in the direction of the base.”

“Why? What’s going to happen?” Shinji asked.

“This device can trigger the base purge remotely,” Rei explained, stepping onto the palm. “I am taking into account both the size of the Moscow base explosion and what may happen to the S2 engine for Unit-09.”

“Oh…” Shinji answered, feeling the tension in his body heighten. “Better get clear soon, then,” he said to himself. Looking back at Asuka, he nodded his head towards the controls. The redhead nodded back, taking partial control with him.

Unit-01 clasped its hands together gently, shielding the occupants of its right palm. It moved towards the far wall, towards the catapult. Shinji stood in place on it and took one last look above him, seeing grey sky far overhead. “Do it, Rei,” he said through the comm.

There was a few seconds of silence with nothing happening. “I cannot,” Rei’s voice came into the entry plug. “The catapult is non-responsive. You will have to climb from here.”

“Never an easy way for us, huh?” Asuka questioned, sighing heavily. The two teens willed Unit-01 to keep ahold of the group with one hand and use the other and its feet to slowly dig into the wall leading upwards. It took nearly fifteen tense minutes, the others trying to keep themselves steady in the cramped space in the machine’s palm.

“Remind me why we didn’t ride along in the entry plug?” Ritsuko asked.

“You really want to get in there, knowing what you do about it?” Misato questioned back. “I’ll be damned if I do.”

Ritsuko considered her query for a few seconds. “I hate it when you make a good point.”

As Unit-01 finally came out onto the surface, Shinji and Asuka willed the machine to break out into a sprint away from the base. The catapult had come out about a hundred feet from the topside structure, the snowstorm having let up a little while they were inside. After three minutes of running, the machine came to a stop far away from the building. Holding out its left hand, the familiar hexagonal glow of its AT field became visible in the air. “Alright Rei, we’re clear,” he said quietly.

Rei looked down at the override device, inputting the purge command. Her finger stopped over the last key. “May this be the end of SEELE‘s plans,” she said, pressing the key. A flash blinded the six of them, a pressure wave colliding against the AT field but not breaking through it. The base was taken from the Earth in the same flash of light and heat that claimed the Moscow base. There was a second blast a few seconds later, this one much stronger. Shinji forced every bit of mental concentration to keeping the AT field up. Unit-01 was forced down to one knee from the shockwave, digging deeply into the ice. Ten seconds later, the light and pressure subsided and an eerie quiet settled over the icy landscape.

Shinji opened his eyes slowly, looking out at the remains of the base. “That’s it…” he whispered, clicking off the outside audio link. “It’s over.”

Asuka let go of the trigger she’d been holding onto and hugged him tightly. “We’re finally free,” she told him. Pulling away a little, she stared deeply into his eyes. There was relief in them, along with quite a bit of pain. “How’re you doing?” she asked, gently poking his makeshift-bandaged arm.

Shinji winced inwardly, but kept the smile on his face. “Been better,” he said with a smirk. Then his smile faded quickly. “Listen, Asuka…there’s something I have to say…”

“Can’t it wait until we’re somewhere warmer?” Asuka questioned, although there was no chill inside the entry plug.

Shinji took hold of her hands and gave her a serious stare. “No, this can’t,” he began. “I have to say this now. When Kaworu had me pinned down, he threatened all of you. When he got to you, I…I snapped,” he stopped to swallow the lump forming in his throat. “I can’t stand the idea of anyone hurting you. I don’t even want to, even if that may happen one day. But I‘ll never do it on purpose. I just know that I never want to be apart from you again.”

Asuka sat quietly, hanging on every word. Tears began forming in her eyes, only to dissolve in the LCL.

“I memorized something while we were in Osaka,“ Shinji continued. “That time we went to the library in town, I found the words I wanted to tell you one day.” He stopped to take in a deep breath and close his eyes, looking like he was concentrating on something difficult. He opened them and spoke again. “Ich liebe dich, mein Engel. So lange ich lebe ist mein Herz dein. Alles an mir gehört dir.

Asuka was shocked, to say the least. “Y-your accent is…horrible…” she teased, trying not to cry for now.

“I’m sure it is,” Shinji replied, smiling at her.

“Do you…do you really mean that?” Asuka questioned, not having the strength to hold in her tears.

Shinji nodded, smiling brightly and hugging her, his own tears running freely. “I love you with all that I am,” he whispered.

“And I love you, too…my idiot,” Asuka purred, pressing her lips to his in a light-but-needing manner. This kiss didn’t get any more intimate than that, both just taking in the outpouring of emotions through it. They broke away about twenty seconds later, holding close to one another.

Then Shinji noticed something out of the corner of his eye, frantic movement coming from one of the people in Unit-01’s hand. Clicking the audio link back on, he was met by Misato’s frustrated shouting. “Hey, get a move on! We don't have all day for you two to be playing newlyweds, I‘m freezing my ass off down here!”

“Oh, I think it’ll take more than that to work it off,” Asuka shot back.

Misato stopped waving her arms and stared at Unit-01’s face. “Oh very funny, young lady,” she said, hugging close to herself to keep some warmth inside.

“Sorry Misato,” Shinji spoke though the comm. “I just needed to talk to Asuka. But…where do you suppose we go?”

Misato looked over at Rei. “Well, I‘m open to suggestions,” she said.

Rei looked through the options on the override device. “There are various map coordinates,” she began. “One of them looks to be a small building a few miles away. Not large enough to be another base, but there may be transport there.”

“Which direction?” Shinji asked. Rei pointed to the southeast. “Then let’s get going,” he said, willing the EVA to continue moving forward.

“The rest of the coordinates are to places on other continents,” Rei said, looking at the device’s screen. “Two of them are the Berlin and Moscow bases.”

Kaji looked over her shoulder at the screen. “I recognize a few of these,” he offered, pointing at the GPS map. “Some of them are NERV branches, others are SEELE-owned bases.”

“It appears that nine of them are flagged as priority,” Rei continued, pointing towards the remains of the Arctic base. “One of which is now destroyed.”

“That’s gotta be where they’ve got the rest of the EVA series,” Misato spoke up.

Rei nodded. “Yes…and that means there is still work to be done,” she said, looking down at the palm of Unit-01.

Misato’s head snapped around to the girl. “Wait, you don’t mean-”

“No, Major,” Rei cut in, shaking her head. “I wish you all to go on with your lives. I will take care of this.” She stared at her hands, a stern look on her face. “If there are any SEELE forces left, they cannot stop me. I may have turned my back on the reason I was created, but I do still have a purpose.” She looked back to the others. “The EVA series will be used as weapons if they are not destroyed or dismantled. That is now my new purpose.”

Misato put a hand on the former First Child’s shoulder. “I understand, but…are you sure?” she asked.

Rei looked up at the woman. “I do not want any of you involved,” she said.

“Hey, we’re involved regardless of what you want,” Ritsuko spoke up. “And I have an obligation to see this finished, as well.”

“What are you proposing, doctor?” Rei questioned.

Ritsuko sighed. “I say we approach the UN about the dismantling of the EVAs,” she explained. “You’re right, we can’t have them used as weapons by other governments. With the Angels dead, that’s exactly what could happen. And as head of Project E, I have to see that through.”

“I’ve got a few connections that could come in handy, if you want,” Kaji offered. “I’ve seen all of NERV’s secrets I wanted to, now I just want to bury them.”

The group in Unit-01’s hand continued discussing their plans, the machine traveling across the ice in long strides. A few minutes later, they came upon a short building in the middle of nowhere. “This is the location,” Rei stated. “You may set us down here,” she spoke, looking up at Unit-01. The machine kneeled down to the ground and lowered its hand, the others jumping off one at a time.

Misato walked over to the metal door and slid it open just a little, revealing a single-engine airplane inside. “Lemme guess…you can fly this?” she asked Rei while sliding the hangar door completely open.

“Yes,” Rei answered, walking over to the plane. There was a NERV logo on the hatch. “I am guessing this to be Zero’s private aircraft.”

“Won’t be needing it anymore,” Misato replied, opening the hatch and looking inside. There was enough room to fit the six of them…barely. “Hope there’s no weight restrictions.”

Meanwhile, Shinji had placed Unit-01 low to the ground and ejected the entry plug. Asuka had exited first, climbing down the short distance back down to ground level. The former Third Child’s exit from the machine was much less graceful, the boy landing hard in the thick snow. Fortunately, it cushioned his fall enough for it to only hurt a little. Grimacing, he slowly rose to his feet and began shivering at the cold wind on his LCL-soaked skin. “Let’s get inside for now,” he said. As they walked into the hangar, he looked back at Unit-01. “Goodbye, mother. I hope you can find some peace out here for now.”

The six quickly piled into the plane, Shinji taking the very back seat. “I want to get some rest,” he said. “It’s been a long day.”

“No kidding,” Misato replied, buckling herself in. “I don’t know what I want to do first…get drunk or take a bath,” she said with a sigh. “Maybe take a six-pack into the tub with me. But I can damn well tell you it’ll be in my own home.”

Asuka smiled an evil grin at the woman next to her. “Oh, that reminds me,” she began. “I’ve got to tell you something you’ll find…interesting, Misato.”

“Oh really?” Misato asked, raising an eyebrow.

Asuka leaned in close and whispered to the former major, whose expression went from puzzled to a starry-eyed gaze with a grin.

Kaji stared at the girl. “What the hell did you tell her?” he questioned.

Asuka smirked proudly at him. “Oh, you’ll hear all about it when she snaps out of it…” she said in a fake-innocent tone.

Ritsuko just shook her head and laughed. Rei continued preparing the plane for its flight. Shinji leaned his seat back and felt the stress pour off of him. It was done…NERV, SEELE, running for their lives. Things were going to settle back into a normal pattern. ‘Well, as normal as they can be for us,’ he thought just before falling asleep, the plane rolling out of the hangar and off the ground…

*****To be continued…*****

A/N: Alright, I think I met my action quotient with this chapter. Expect the epilogue to come along soon.

Yes, time to give some song-to-scene suggestions again! For the knife/hand-to-hand fight scene, find and listen to Bruises by Unloco. For the A/S scene inside Unit-01 near the end, find and listen to Thirty-Three by The Smashing Pumpkins.

And speaking of the scene inside Unit-01...the translation for that German line? You’re already online, just go look it up. Think of it as a homework assignment.

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Last edited by AngelNo13Bardiel on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:00 am

And the following concludes our little saga...for now.

The Ikari Ultimatum ch4  SPOILER: Show
See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.

THE IKARI ULTIMATUM

Chapter 4: It's a Nice Day to Start Again

*****Three weeks later*****

Shinji opened his eyes, the morning light streaming into his room. Staring up at the familiar ceiling, he smiled a little. ‘Just another day,’ he thought. At his side was Asuka, who was fast asleep. They were both down to just underwear, their regular sleeping attire since coming back. Upon returning home, they’d decided on moving into the same room. It was only natural, seeing how they‘d been like that back in Osaka.

And, oh dear, had Misato mercilessly teased them upon getting back home. First thing she’d done was replace the old sign on Shinji’s door, which read ‘Shinji’s Lovely Suite’, with a more elaborate one with ‘Asuka and Shinji’s Love Shack’ on it. Asuka had fumed for a while at first before just accepting it grudgingly. And he did have to admit, her reaction had been funny as hell.

Shinji slowly extracted himself from the bed, moving Asuka’s arm aside and sliding out ever-so-gently. The redhead only mumbled and rolled over. Quickly putting on his shirt and shorts, he slid the room’s door open and stepped outside. Closing the door with a soft click, he peered around for Misato. Upon returning, she’d been keeping uneven hours. It was a complete gamble what time she’d be up sometimes. Walking out onto the balcony, he took in the morning air. The apartment had sustained only a fair amount of damage from the events of the night he’d returned there. It took less than a week’s worth of work to get it back to looking the same as before.

Shinji looked out at the sight of Tokyo-3 in the morning sun. The city had been rebuilt while they were away, this time with the idea that there were no more Angels to come. People had begun moving back, although those who had worked for NERV had to look for other occupations.

The group had landed on an airstrip Kaji had directed them towards, an old JSSDF base no longer in use. Upon exiting the plane, they were met by armed personnel who worked for the UN. Apparently, they wanted some answers for what had happened at the NERV base at Tokyo-3. On the way over, the group had decided on a story to tell the higher-ups, which everyone explained to several military interrogators over the next few days.

Their story was that NERV had eliminated the last of the Angels and were subsequently looked at as a threat by SEELE. The Committee wanted to use the Evagelions as weapons of war against man, so they captured several important members of NERV: Commander Ikari, Major Katsuragi, Dr. Akagi, and the Children. The Commander had been tortured and killed for his insubordination against them, Shinji also having been tortured for his familial connection to the Commander. Kaji, who had been working with NERV and SEELE as well as the Japanese government, infiltrated the Arctic base and freed them before setting off the base’s detonation via the override device Rei had taken off Zero’s body.

SEELE’s loyalties to other governments had been either strained or severed long ago, so the UN decided it to be a good enough explanation for the general public despite being a fabrication. They’d rather just wash their hands of it all, the same as anyone else who knew. So that was it…the true purposes of NERV, SEELE, and the EVAs were quietly swept under the rug to be forgotten. Shinji had no problems with keeping his mouth shut about what really happened, he’d have rather forgotten it entirely.

Ritsuko had requested to the UN the deactivation of the other EVA units around the world. She was currently traveling from base to base with a small team of UN-sanctioned soldiers and technicians, Rei never far behind and ready to protect any one of them. So far, one unit being built in the NERV facility at Beijing had been dismantled and its S2 engine detonated deep under the Pacific Ocean.

‘That only leaves nine more total,’ Shinji thought. Unit-02 hadn’t been moved from the Geofront. Unit-01 had been located and brought back to be placed with it deep under Tokyo-3. Both were scheduled to be the last two dismantled. ‘Guess I’ll consider that a burial of sorts.’

Kaji had been around sporadically, busy with both his duties to the Japanese government and giving his findings as a double-agent for both NERV and SEELE to the UN. A few things had been left out, of course. The subconscious training Shinji and Asuka had both undergone, Rei’s origins and nature, Kaworu, SEELE and Commander Ikari’s plans for Instrumentality…all just neatly cut from the spy’s reports. And ever since coming home, Misato had been dropping hints to him about a potential engagement.

‘Poor guy,’ Shinji thought. Then he remembered his friends’ reaction to their return…as well as their ‘situation’.

*****Eight days earlier*****

Asuka opened the front door, finding a familiar sight waiting for her. “Hikari!” she shouted giving the other girl a hug.

Hikari Horaki did her best to mirror her friend’s enthusiasm. “Oh Asuka,” she said, a few tears running down her cheeks, “I didn’t know what to think. I just never heard from you again…”

“Ha, did you think anything was gonna take me down?” Asuka questioned proudly. “I’m far too tough for that.”

“But still…almost four months as a hostage,” Hikari said softly, shaking her head. “I just can’t believe they’d do that.”

“Yeah, turns out NERV was working for some serious bastards,” Asuka replied. She looked past Hikari at the two figures moving towards the front door. “Oh great, here comes the comic relief…”

Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida walked into the apartment, giving little more than grunts as hellos. “Yeah…nice to see you too, Red,” Toji said flatly. The incident with Unit-03 caused him to need a prosthetic arm and leg, but he seemed to have adjusted to them well enough by now. Of course, that had been months ago.

“Toji! She’s been through a very trying time!” Hikari ordered.

Toji quickly snapped to attention. “Uh…oh, sorry,” he quickly offered.

“Still got him trained well, huh?” Asuka teased.

Hikari turned bright red. “Asuka!”

Asuka let out a short laugh. “Hey idiot!” she called out into the apartment. “Your friends are here!”

Shinji walked out of his room, leaning a little on his left side. “Geez man, you look like hell,” Toji said, walking over and giving his friend a hearty handshake. Noticing the boy’s sad stare at his artificial limbs, he continued. “Hey…don’t worry over it a bit, I’ve gotten used to them. It’s like I never lost ‘em in the first place.”

Shinji looked up and smiled at the taller boy. “It’s great seeing you again, Toji,” he replied, taking a seat on the couch.

Kensuke walked over to him. “Nice to see you’re still with us,“ he began, shaking the former Third Child’s hand. “Damn, looks like they worked you over good.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Shinji spoke under his breath. He had been checked out by UN doctors soon after his own interrogation. The blade to his left arm had indeed cracked the bone a bit, and there were three broken ribs on his right side. The pain in both had lessened, but was still ever-present for the time being.

“I can’t believe they’d do that to you,” Hikari said, looking down at the carpet.

“Trust me, they’d have done a lot worse if it weren’t for Kaji,” Asuka replied.

“I’ll have to thank him, then,” Toji said, looking around the apartment. “Is Misato here?”

Shinji shook his head. “Nah, she’s got a couple of meetings today,” he explained. “Should be back in a few hours, though.”

“How’s she doing?” Kensuke asked. “I’ll bet she still looks fantastic…”

“As well as you’d expect,” Asuka answered. “And quit swooning, you’re hardly competition to Kaji.”

“So when should I bring Pen-Pen home?” Hikari asked.

Asuka shrugged. “I’d ask Misato, but I figure she’ll just say whenever is fine with her.”

Hikari was about to continue, when something on Asuka’s right hand caught her attention. “What is that?” she asked, reaching for the redhead’s hand. On her ring finger was a simple gold band with a small red stone in the center. “Asuka…this is…” she tried to speak, her eyes wide.

Asuka sighed. She had hoped to break the news to Hikari some other time. “It‘s not exactly what it looks like, but it is a gift from someone…special,” she replied, smiling brightly.

Hikari looked back and forth between Asuka‘s face and hand, trying guess the answer to what she was going to ask next. “Who’s it from?” she asked hurriedly.

By now, the other two had noticed the commotion and looked at whatever had triggered the class rep’s surprise. “Damn…that‘s a nice ring. Somebody must have spent good money on it,” Toji mused.

“Sucks to be that guy,” Kensuke added.

Shinji cleared his throat, three heads turning in his direction. He smiled and held up a hand to get the point across.

Hikari gasped, while Toji and Kensuke just felt their jaws go slack. “Wait…really?” the pigtailed girl asked, having been the first to recover.

Asuka nodded, looking down at the floor right after. “Let’s just say…a few months together in rough conditions can really change people.”

Toji and Kensuke finally shook their surprise away and stared hard at Shinji, their expressions somewhere between horror and humor. The former Third Child felt his face heat up and sighed deeply. It was going to be a long afternoon…

*****End flashback*****

Shinji laughed and shook away the memories of that particular day. His friends had made Misato’s teasing seem almost nonexistent by comparison. Except, of course, she had so delicately put it that any ‘certain activities as a couple’ be infrequent and definitely not when she was home. Oh sure, he and Asuka could try and keep things under control…but it had been close a couple of times over the last three weeks. And he did have to admit, he quite fondly remembered their second time. “Asuka’s right, I am a pervert,” he thought aloud.

Walking back inside, Shinji closed the balcony door and returned to the kitchen to find Misato sitting at the table. “Oh…good morning, Shinji,” she said sleepily, drinking from a coffee mug.

“Good morning, Misato,” Shinji replied, pouring himself a cup of the dark liquid.

“Huh…didn’t know you drank coffee,” Misato said.

Shinji shrugged. “Only a couple of times. It’s terrible, but it helps in the morning.”

“I heard that,” Misato replied, taking another drink.

Sitting down at the table, Shinji continued. “Long night?”

Misato sighed heavily. “I swear, I think they do it just to see if I’ll snap,” she said. “I’ve had just about enough questions for a lifetime.” She looked over at him. “There was an upside to it, though. They offered me a major‘s position in the JSSDF.”

“Really?” Shinji asked. “That’s great! I think you‘ll do fine…”

“I told ‘em I’d give it some thought,” Misato answered. “I’m just not so sure about remaining in military service.”

“At least this time there won’t be Angels,” Shinji offered.

“I dunno,” Misato went on. “I think I’d be more used to something that wasn’t human.”

“I can see your point,” Shinji admitted.

“That reminds me,” Misato spoke up. “I heard the school’s going to reopen in a few weeks.”

“Yeah, I know…” Shinji said, his head hung low.

“Oh come now, I thought you were looking forward to a normal boring life,” Misato replied, humor in her tone.

“It’s not that,” Shinji explained. “It’s the fact that I haven’t told Asuka yet.”

“Oh wonderful,” Misato said, already guessing the redhead’s reaction. “Speaking of, how is your sleeping beauty?”

“Doing just that,” Shinji answered. “Probably won’t be up for a while.”

“Tire her out, did you?” Misato teased, her smile becoming a wicked smirk.

It was doubtful that Shinji could have turned redder. “Misato!” he said with some volume. “You know we agreed not to-”

Misato blinked a few times. "Eh? You seriously thought...?"

"Huh?" Shinji asked back.

"Oh, never mind. Might be for the best..." Misato said, waving a hand.

“You can be such a child,” Shinji replied, his forehead touching the table.

“And why not?” Misato asked. “You always seem so serious, I’d swear you were the adult here. I think that allows me to have a childish moment.” She raised her mug towards him. “Hey, how about a toast?”

“Huh? What for?” Shinji questioned.

“I dunno,” Misato said with a shrug. “Just for, I guess.”

“Alright,” Shinji replied, thinking hard for an idea. A few seconds later, he held his own mug up to hers. “Here’s to the end of our time at NERV and the beginning of a better life.”

“Amen to that,” Misato said, tapping her mug to his. “So truthfully…are you happy with how this all turned out?”

Shinji leaned back in his chair, thinking her question over. True, there were some things he’d have rather not had happen. But as the saying goes, ‘what’s done is done‘. And, all physical and emotional pain aside, he’d gained what he really needed within these last couple of months. Smiling, he spoke up. “Yeah…I am.”

*****THE END*****

A/N: And so, our trilogy comes to an end…and boy, what a ride it's been! There's been conspiracy, deceit, tension, standoffs, chases, explosions, guns, close-quarters combat…and yeah, more than a fair share of the mushy stuff. At least I know which I'm better at…

Now, in so far as what's to come? Well, there's a one-shot two that are being cooked up (see my FFN profile) and might see the light of day sometime ahead. But if you think this chapter marked the end of our little saga…oh, ye of little faith, there's still quite a bit more steam in this tale (SANCTIONS/LEGACY). No clue when any of it will be done and ready to read, but keep your eyes open anyway. You can never tell what my schedule will allow…

Lastly, I'd like to extend a hand and thank the readers who followed these works. I always appreciate anyone stopping to look at (and hopefully review) my stuff.

And once more for this story…

*****Omake time!*****

The camera pans from the hall into the author’s room. Again, he is seated at the computer and finishing up the last few pieces of this work.

Bard: (sighing) Glad to get that out done and out-of-the-way finally… (notices the camera) Hey, just in time, my friends.

Mitsumi pops into the room suddenly, clothed in a dress matching her lime-colored hair.

Mitsumi: (smiling) Hi everyone! We were just waiting for you to show up.

Bard: (turning towards her) Then you’re all set?

Mitsumi: (nodding) Oh, you bet! Come on, let’s go.

The author stands from his seat and follows her into the other room, where the stage is again set for a performance. All five of Mitsumi’s sisters are gathered around in one part of the room, talking and gossiping amongst each other. Each one is wearing a dress like Mitsumi’s, the garment matching their hair color (red for Kara, violet for Rain, white for Magdalena, blue for Angelina, and yellow for Akari).

Angelina: So yeah, I’ve done some Rei cosplay while on hiatus. And I’ve been looking into trying out for series that need parts for fairies.

Magdalena: (surprised) Really? That sounds SO cool!

Rain: I wanna try out, too…

Akari: Same here. I’d say we could qualify as ‘moe’ enough for current trends.

Kara: Yeah, sure. (under her breath) I’ll bet she’s just blowing smoke…

Bard: (clears throat) Good afternoon, girls. Are we ready?

All five turn to see the author and Mitsumi, along with the camera following close behind. They wave happily to it before turning back to the room’s newest occupants.

Akari: (points to the author) Just waiting for baka there.

Bard: (leans towards Mitsumi) Great, now you’ve got them doing that…

Mitsumi: Oh hush. What would you ever do without us?

Bard: (sighs heavily) Fine, fine. Let’s just get to it, then.

Four of the fairies take their places on the stage (Mitsumi with her guitar strapped around her and in front of a keyboard, Magdalena with bass in hand, Angelina in front of her keyboard, and Akari behind her drum kit). The author walks up to the mic after they finish setting up. The other two fairies take their seats, placed a few feet from the stage.

Kara: (crossing her arms and leaning back) Guess we’re sitting out this time.

Rain: (shrugging) C’mon sis, this’ll be fun to watch!

Bard: (looking at the camera) Well, folks…like I said in the last part, there’s only one song that could finish this thing up. Enjoy.

The lights in the room dim, leaving only small spotlights on the stage’s occupants. A noise like a siren begins to wail, Mitsumi playing her keyboard riff shortly after that. A couple of bars later, the bass and drums enter into a steady beat. Angelina’s keyboard enters another couple of bars after that, held notes filling the air.

Bard: (singing)
Extreme ways are back again
Extreme places I didn't know
I broke everything new again
Everything that I'd owned
I threw it out the windows, came along
Extreme ways I know will part
The colors of my sea
Perfect-colored me
Extreme ways that that help me
They help me out late at night
Extreme places I had gone
But never seen any light
Dirty basements, dirty noise
Dirty places coming through
Extreme worlds alone
Did you ever like it then?

I would stand in line for this
There's always room in life for this

Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Like it always does
Always does

Extreme sounds that told me
They helped me down every night
I didn't have much to say
I didn't give up the light
I closed my eyes and closed myself
And closed my world and never opened
Up to anything
That could get me at all
I had to close down everything
I had to close down my mind
Too many things could cut me
Too much could make me blind
I've seen so much in so many places
So many heartaches, so many faces
So many dirty things
You couldn't even believe

I would stand in line for this
It's always good in life for this

Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Then it fell apart
It fell apart
Oh baby
Oh baby
Like it always does
Always does


Both keyboards cut off here, Mitsumi switching to guitar to play a short riff for the remaining twelve seconds of the song. As the last notes fade, the lights in the room come back in full.

Rain: (applauding and grinning) Oh yeah, that was very nice!

Kara: (clapping lightly and smirking) Yes. Not bad at all, sisters. Oh, and you too baka-author.

Bard: (sweatdropping) Oh for the love of…

Mitsumi: (putting a tiny hand on his shoulder) Ah, let it go already. You know it isn’t meant in meanness.

Bard: (shrugs) I guess. (turns towards the rest of the fairies) Great job as always, ladies.

Four beaming faces are the sight that answer him back wordlessly.

Bard: (turns towards the camera) Well, that concludes this particular work. Come on back again soon, maybe I’ll have something else good for you.

The fairies gather around the author and wave enthusiastically at the camera, which slowly pans out of the room…and of course, to return another day…

*****End Omake*****

Pre-read for this chapter was again done by the team of Dark Machine, Eric Blair, gesser87, and JimmyWolk. Good work as always, gentlemen.

Small note: this chapter and all previous/following it were written around late June/early July last year. So a quick “sorry” to everyone who may have been waiting for something after TLaWR. Revisions and pre-reading can take quite a bit of time, it would seem…

For any of you who are new to the community, all of my older (2004-2006) works have undergone a small bit of tweaking (as of the 14th of June 2010). So go take a look, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way!

Until our paths next cross,
-AngelNo13Bardiel-


But just like the A/N said, don't expect this to be the end of the story...there's still some life left in it yet.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:05 am

Finally, something new. And, oddly enough, it's Rebuild-based. Might be the only time, though.

Show, Don't Tell: Rebuild Variant  SPOILER: Show
DISCLAIMER: I still don’t own Evangelion or any of the characters, they’re still property of…well, whoever owns them these days. This fic takes place in the Rebuild setting, so apply standard spoiler warnings for 2.0/2.22. And lastly, ‘this’ is thoughts and “this” is speech.

SHOW, DON’T TELL: REBUILD VARIANT

*****

The night throughout the Katsuragi apartment had passed silently, which was strange considering what had happened hours earlier. The apartment’s occupants all spent the night trying to sleep off the earlier events concerning the Angel that had tried to dive-bomb Tokyo-3 from orbit. At least, most of them were succeeding at that…

In the room occupied by one Asuka Langley Shikinami, the girl in question lay in bed rolling from one side to another in a restless half-sleep. Another few moments later, she slowly opened her eyes and changed position onto her back again. What had happened earlier that day had had the biggest impact on her. She had always felt she was the best, the only REAL pilot NERV had. She could easily defeat any Angel single handedly. Hell, she pretty much did just after arriving in Japan.

Today, however had proved Asuka quite wrong in that line of thinking. She knew very well she couldn’t have taken that Angel out by herself. No, today had proven to her that she indeed did need help more than she had ever admitted. One of those sources of help had been the biggest surprise, though. Her fellow pilot and roommate, Shinji Ikari, had been the one to prove his own skill. He had held up the Angel single-handedly, and even sustained very real injuries due to a temporarily high synch ratio, while the other pilots had killed the Angel. Surely, this was not the incompetent fool the Second Girl had taken him for upon first meeting. No, that seemingly weak little boy had showed strength that had impressed even her…though she was loath to admit it.

Asuka took in a deep breath and heavily sighed. “I’ve always been alone,” she said in a quiet and rather sad tone. “Loneliness…it’s not supposed to bother me.” But deep down, she knew better. The Third Boy had indeed shown more worth in her eyes than she believed he could. And, after living with him for the last few weeks, she had to admit that he had his other moments. He was very neat and tidy around the apartment (far more than Misato, that was for certain), could actually cook worth a damn for a male, and always showed at least some consideration to others over himself.

‘Heh, most girls would call him a keeper without hesitation,’ Asuka thought to herself with a small laugh. ‘Ack, what the hell am I thinking!?’ she mentally reprimanded herself. ‘I mean…he is kinda cute, but…’ she began thinking before suddenly sitting up in bed. “Dammit Asuka, why do you keep thinking these things?” she whispered, the silent darkness of her room offering no answers. Slowly, her vision moved towards her door. Well, there was one way to get these things answered…

*****

Shinji slept as peacefully as he could on his own futon. The bandages on his hands were the reminder of what he had managed to do earlier that day. He had caught and held onto the Angel, even after it had impaled both of Unit-01’s hands. And even though he had been dealt actual injury, he had felt that was worth it: his father had actually given him praise. For the rest of the day, he had felt that maybe deciding to pilot Eva hadn’t been the worst decision he could have made. Maybe he could actually bridge that gap between them…

While Shinji slept on, oblivious to anything outside his dreams, Asuka slowly and quietly slid his door open and lightly stepped inside before sliding the door closed in the same silent manner. For just a moment, she wondered just why she had decided to listen to that little nagging voice that said to follow this urge. Before moving any further into the room, she took a few moments and watched him sleep. ‘He’s a little better looking when he’s not anxious or nervous,’ she thought to herself. Taking another deep breath, she continued the slow inching over towards him before lowering herself to lay on the futon with her back towards his.

The feeling of another weight being placed next to him slowly lifted the fog of sleep from Shinji’s mind. As he came back to conscious thought, he quickly tensed up and looked behind him at his futon’s most recent occupant. “Ah…w-wha-” was all his mouth managed to get out at that moment.

Asuka, feeling all those little movements from the boy, quickly answered his choked statement with a harsh whisper of, “Don’t look over here.”

A light gasp escaped Shinji’s mouth before quickly turning back around and facing away from Asuka. “Okay…” he whispers before trying to control the tension that has managed to spread throughout his body and close his eyes again.

“I’ll put up with you for a little while longer,” Asuka whispered, still looking away from him.

For the next few minutes, a heavy silence filled the room as both teens slowly tried to collect themselves and their thoughts. Finally, Shinji opened his eyes again and slowly turned his head to look at Asuka. “Um…Shikinami?”

Asuka sighed at his voice, causing Shinji to tense back up once again. “Because of what happened in today’s confusion,” Asuka began to explain, “we’ll go by our first names, okay?” She feels him slowly relax at those words. “I’ll make it special and let you call me Asuka. But I’ll still call you baka-Shinji.”

Another long silence seemed to stretch on for hours, neither one feeling like they knew what to say next. Asuka eventually began to grow tired of Shinji’s slight nervous shaking behind her. Slowly rolling onto her back while looking over, she addressed him. “Will you stop being so damned nervous? What, do you think I’m about to attack you or something?”

Shinji, now even more anxious at what the redhead’s next actions would be, quickly scrambled for a response. “Uh…I, um, can’t h-help it,” he began to stammer out. “Y-you’re in my bed in your n-nightclothes and you’re pretty, and um-” he spat out before clamping one of his hands over his mouth. ‘No, no, no…I did NOT just say that out loud,’ he tried to convince himself before settling back into the tense silence.

Asuka, meanwhile, let the quiet stand in the room because she was thinking over his obviously rattled ramblings. ‘He…he thinks I’m pretty, huh,’ she thought with a playful smirk. ‘It’s going to be too easy to tease him with that.’ Fully turning herself towards him, she decided to corner the poor boy with his own words. “You find me pretty, do you?” she said quietly. “Of course you do, you’ve already seen me naked before.”

“Th…that was an accident!. A-and no, it’s not that, I’m trying not to imagine you na-” Shinji began as he turned himself towards her, not knowing she was fully turned his direction. Upon noticing this, his eyes quickly sprung open about as wide as they could and a heavy blush came to his face as the remainder of his sentence left his mouth. “-ked…”

Now that they were face-to-face, Asuka had a hard time keeping her own blush from creeping onto her features. “S..so…” she tried to begin before clearing her throat, “you weren’t trying to picture me with less than this on? Is that why you‘re so nervous around me?”

Shinji quickly averted his gaze and shut his eyes, lest he lose his nerve to answer Asuka entirely. He slowly nodded and began explaining. “Y…yeah, that’s why,” he started. “S-sometimes, it’s hard to control being jumpy around you and what I might think, but I…I don’t want to objectify you like that. I mean, I might not be able to control every thought, but you’re a better person than that…” As he let that last rambling sentence sink back into the silence, the boy began mentally berating himself for his words. ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid…you just never could control your mouth when you’re anxious…I said too much again, didn’t I?’ A small tap on the top of his head caused him to open his eyes and look up at the redhead again, who had this playful smirk on that he couldn’t tell had any malice behind it or not. ‘Crap, she’s going to kill me, isn’t she?’

The smirk fell away from Asuka’s face as she pulled her hand back. “Baka-Shinji as usual,” she said quietly. “You know…” she explained as she turned around to lay on her stomach and prop herself up on her elbows, “You might have impressed me just a little bit out there today. Just a little, though.”

“R-really?” Shinji asked, surprised to the point where he could have been knocked down by a small breeze.

Asuka shrugged. “Maybe…maybe not. You’ll just have to take my word for it, won’t you?“ Smirking once again, she continued. “Hey Shinji?”

“Hmm? Yes?” Shinji answered back.

“If you think I’m pretty, then…do you wanna kiss me?” Asuka asked with an almost wicked grin as she settled back into a seated position while facing Shinji, the blush reemerging on her face. “I think you’ve earned that privilege at least once.”

Shinji swallowed hard at her question, trying to somehow deal with the sudden jump in temperature his body was experiencing. Realizing that he had yet to answer Asuka, he nodded his head. ‘This has got to be a dream, it just has to be,’ he told himself. ‘Any minute now, I’m going to wake up and be very angry with my subconscious.’

“Well then, don‘t just sit there gawking,” Asuka said, snapping Shinji’s attention back from his thoughts. “Go ahead and cross that line from boy to man,“ she finished, closing her eyes and sticking her face out in a manner that all but dared him. Now, scared as he was, he couldn’t allow this moment to pass him by: he may have been nervous and frequently avoidant, but he certainly wasn’t stupid.

Shinji decided to make that decisive move, closing his own eyes and closing the distance between them. As their lips met, Asuka’s eyes shot open for just a second before slowly closing again as she settled into the kiss. ‘Wow…he actually took the bait,‘ she thought amusedly, impressed that he hadn‘t chickened out or broken away from the initial contact. It was a shy and almost chaste kiss, the kind frequently shared between teenagers. Both had felt an almost live electric spark in the contact, causing them to jump just a little before relaxing into the moment.

Sadly, air became an issue for Asuka after almost fifteen seconds and she pulled away from Shinji. “T-that was your first, huh?” she asked him, trying to control the small quiver in her words.

Shinji nodded, the power of speech seeming to fail him at the moment. “Y…yeah,” he finally managed to squeak out. “So…what does all this mean?” he asked, wanting to mentally smack himself for asking such a mood-killing question.

Asuka shrugged. “I don’t know…I still think you’re kind of a baka, truth be told,“ she told him.

Shinji couldn’t help but laugh at her statement. “Of course you do…”

Asuka smiled a little and stood back up from the futon. “Listen, as much as I’m sure you’d just LOVE for me to stay,” she said, looking in his direction with a playful grin, “I‘m going back to bed.” Walking over towards the door, she quietly slid it open before finishing her sentence. “But if you keep proving yourself like you have been…well, this may just happen again. So…goodnight, Shinji Ikari.” And with that, she slipped out of the door and slowly slid it back closed.

Shinji stared at the door for a few more moments before using a bandaged hand to wipe his sweaty forehead and plop back down on his futon. “Well…this whole day’s just been eventful, hasn’t it?” he asked to no one in particular.

*****

On the other side of the door, Asuka was still touching her lips with a small smile beginning to creep onto her features. “Shinji Ikari…” she whispered, “there’s definitely more to you than I imagined.” And with those last few thoughts, she quickly and quietly padded off to bed…though, given recent events, sleep seemed even less than likely than it had been…

*****THE END*****

A/N: Well, that completes my little excursion into the Rebuild movies (for now, at least…we’ll see what happens after 3.0/4.0). And really, considering that little scene 2.0/2.22 gave us, how could I not punch up something like this? If it doesn’t feel terribly different from the original SHOW, DON’T TELL, well…I think that was kind of the point. I’d like to think “that moment” from 2.0/2.22 was the parallel to the original series’ episode 15 “moment“. Hope it left you feeling as warm and fuzzy as the original did.

Mitsumi (along her kin) is gonna sit this one out. Actually, she’s been feeling a little under-the-weather lately.

Pre-read for this one was done by Bagheera, Final Messenger, JimmyWolk, and SailorStarDust1. Thanks, guys. Very good work.

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way! So go take a look at the rest of my fics, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

Until our paths next cross,
-AngelNo13Bardiel-
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:26 am

Oh yes, it has been a productive week indeed. Got another one for you guys. Hope it both bums you out and makes you grin.

Fly On, Little Wing  SPOILER: Show
DISCLAIMER: I still don’t own Evangelion or any of the characters, they’re still property of…well, whoever owns them these days. This one‘s a sequel to I WON‘T LET YOU FALL APART, so go read it first if you haven‘t. Which means that it has diverged off the original series/movies timeline, so nothing Rebuild-based here. It also takes place from Asuka’s perspective.

FLY ON, LITTLE WING

*****

I sigh as I look up at the departure board and back at my watch, it’s still a good wait until my flight. I’ve been here for more than six hours, dammit! Can’t these people work any faster!?

I take a second to rub my eyes after that little internal storm. I swear, I’m trying to be as calm as I can about this. Heh, you’d probably just smile and say ‘that’s okay, it’s who you are’ in that disarming way you always did. I’d probably snap back with some biting comment and you’d back down, same as an other day back when you were still-

I have to physically stop myself from finishing that thought. Seven years and I still have some trouble with that. No, I can’t say I ever completely got over it. And most of the time, I don’t think I ever will.

I sit back on the cheap metal-and-plastic seats and take a deep breath. I’m not worried about Misato coming to stop me, she probably hasn’t come to yet. Oh, she took your death pretty hard, maybe even harder than she took Kaji’s…ugh, just thinking his name still tends to have some emotional sting to it for me. But yeah, she’s spent the past several years trying to drown a lot of sorrow.

Honestly can’t say I blame her too much, considering just how things went for all of us.

I came to not long after your…last moments. The next few months after that were pretty chaotic, but they kept me out of the loop. Safer for me not to know, Misato told me once. She just may be right: all I know is that there were a lot of things NERV was hiding, and that many of the people responsible either ended up dead or…gone. One of those was your father. I still don’t know quite what went on between you two, but I think the world is better off without him or his bosses.

Almost a year after that, I went back home to Germany. Know what I got? Nothing but a medal and some officials telling me ‘I’m sorry about your fellow pilot.’ That was it. No ceremony, no big welcome home…just some hollow PR moment for politicians. The whole thing made me sick, I left not long after. I felt like Tokyo-3 was more home to me anyway.

I look up at the board again and see that there’re a few minutes left until my flight. Damn, guess I was sitting here reminiscing longer than I thought.

I grab the handle on my suitcase and begin walking over towards the gate. Anyway, after that little trip home, the next stretch of life was various moments of hell all rolled into one. School had already went back in a few weeks earlier, and (because I was still in my teenage years) I had to continue attending. I think it was explained to me that I needed the interaction. Yeah, some interaction…

I got into plenty of fights for the next year or so. My fuse had never been shorter, let’s just say that. Sometimes it was the whispering about my scars, other times for wearing long sleeves year-round. Yeah, I did that for a long time. Still do, actually. Not out of vanity (okay, maybe a little), but because I always could tell when people would look at me, at my self-induced marks. I run a finger lightly over the one on my left wrist as I think back about it. You’d be surprised to know that some of those fights were over you.

Heh, yeah, you heard me right. Most of the time, it was other girls thinking about how they’d lost the chance to get to know you. This one other time…well, let’s just say that guy is lucky someone pulled me off of him. He had the nerve to make light of what we did, to say that you took some coward’s way out. I know I broke his nose, maybe a few ribs too. Like I said, probably would have killed him if no one had intervened.

Misato made me take some sessions with a psychologist after that, said I needed to ‘let go of some things’. All I can tell you from those sessions is that there’s another person out there who thinks I’m an asshole. Kept telling me that I was ‘retaining grief and turning it into anger’. I’d always tell him ‘well no shit, what do you expect me to do?’ I went to as many of those visits as I needed to and then bid that guy fucking adieu.

The woman near the gate sees me approaching and I remove the ticket from my bag. Handing it to her, she gives it a quick once-over before thanking me and pointing me down the hall to the plane. As I continue on my way, I can feel all those little memories filter in from back then. After those ‘incidents’, most people at school tended to avoid me or just not say anything. Only Hikari really still stuck with me.

Hikari…ah shit, I forgot to tell her about this. I suppose I could call her after I land, hopefully soften the blow a little. She’s gonna be pretty angry with me, sure…but I think she’ll understand. Funny thing is, your friends also kinda tried to bury the hatchet and keep my spirits up. Turns out you had some pretty good friends. Still stooges, though. But loyal for certain.

I put my suitcase into the overhead storage and take my seat somewhere in the coach section. Looking out the window, I can see the sunrise over the countryside. Beautiful, really. But I never really notice these things until moments like this, where I’m feeling melancholy and reminiscent. I had a rough few years after that time. Bounced back and forth between all kinds of small jobs. Turns out that college degree I have isn’t worth much here without experience. Waitress, clothing store clerk, even tried a little at teaching. Turns out I’m not the ‘inspiring people to learn’ type. Go figure.

I kept what personal life I led fairly minimal. I tried some dating, more on Misato’s urging that I needed to meet more people. Not a one of them felt right…and still reinforced my thoughts that most guys are after me for my appearance or renown. None of them gave a shit about the real me, just the hot and slightly down redhead they met recently. Bastards.

Had a lot of weird experiences in terms of personal growth. Even spent some time depressed enough to try and go goth, at least in appearance and attitude. Let’s just say black doesn’t really suit me as a hair color. As a lip color, though…I’m still tempted to try it again. Speaking of lips, I still think Misato’s pissed about that lip ring I got around the same time. Good thing I haven’t worn it in three years. What can I say? You do a lot of stupid things when you’re adolescent and feeling down all the time.

As I continue watching the sunrise, the sky slowly turning blue leads me to thoughts of our other fellow pilot. I figure you’d probably be wondering about where Wondergirl went. You can’t fool me, I always knew you had an eye on her too. Do I think you’d do what you did for me for her? Not a clue. Funny thing is…she vanished sometime after the Commander did. I think she was a bit like me in that regard, found herself purposeless and directionless. Considering there was a lot about her that was still heavily classified, I have to wonder just where she went. Somewhere on her own, or something sinister involving NERV’s dirty little secrets? I wish I could tell you…

I sigh heavily again. I wish I could tell you ANYTHING again. Even if it was just insults. Problem is, I don’t know if I could go back to that. You might be surprised about this, but ever since your death, I’ve thought about…us. A lot. We didn’t really have anything but an uneasy friendship. Gott, what I’d give to fix all that if I could. I know you loved me. Why the hell else would anyone die for someone that treated them like I did you? I think that was pretty clear after that day.

And you never said a word. Not a goddamned word. You just left me with those last few thoughts in your journal.

On my own end, I’m still torn over the whole thing. I…didn’t hate you, not really. I still came to see your grave every month, making sure to leave flowers on the anniversary of your death. Wasn’t that long ago that I was there, really. But if I could see you again? Heh, I don’t know if I would run up to you and hug you as tight as I could or just yell at you for leaving me in this sick sad little world while beating the living shit out of you. Then I’d just huddle into some seat in my sadness and anger while you picked yourself up, then came up behind me and held me around the shoulders. Not tight, just enough for me to let you know you were there. Then you’d whisper something to me and-

Again, I feel the physical need to stop that line of thought. I really can’t afford to think about what never was and never will be. It’ll just make it all the harder on me.

I mentioned I had quite a long depressive time. There were moments where I wondered if I should just finish what I started, maybe then I’d be able to see you again. Almost did try again a couple of times, actually. The only thing that stopped me? The thought that this wasn’t what you wanted for me, you wanted me to live on and try to pick myself back up. Well, good going Shinji, you gave your life so I could continue to live in this miserable and cold world. Damn you, Ikari…

I almost laugh at myself a little. Good old Asuka, still continuing to blame everyone but herself. But I know better, oh yes I do. Some days, it really does feel like my world is coming down…and I can’t help but think that I’m the one who helped bring it down. Maybe not on my own…but I definitely did most of the work bringing it down. I’m only just over twenty-one, but I sure feel like I’ve gone through several lifetimes.

Anyway, by now I’m sure you’re wondering about this little trip I’m taking. It’s not spur-of-the-moment, and the only real clue that I left is a note I’m sure Misato will find at some point.

No, I am NOT running away. It’s just…I need to be away from Japan for some time. Maybe a few months, maybe years, who knows?

I decided on trying to settle in Ireland, mostly because I’ll blend in there quite well. Think about it, I’m partly European and redheaded. I won’t be given a second glance…at least I hope. I’d rather not have to explain a lot of the whys anytime soon.

I begin to feel the plane slowly move down the runway and lift off from the ground. Okay Asuka, definitely no turning back now. Like I said, this isn’t running away or an escape. I’ll be back here someday, just hopefully with less weight on my shoulders.

For now, just being here reminds me too much of you. I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over it, but I don’t want to forget you either. You really do mean too much to me for that to happen. But that’s just the thing, you’re gone and I can’t say just what we were.

Roommates? Nah, that sounds too cold.

Coworkers? Yeah, but it was so much more than that.

Friends? Part of me would like to think so. I just wish I could have told you that once.

“Goodbye for now, Japan,” I hear myself whisper in a very forlorn voice as I watch the ground slowly shrink. “And goodbye to you too…Shinji Ikari,” I add before pressing my fingertips to my lips and onto the window. “I think I…may have loved you, too. Too bad I couldn‘t say it aloud until now.”

*****

I’m startled awake by the feeling of the plane shaking, groggily rubbing my eyes and looking out the window. Still don’t see anything but ocean, so we must still be a good ways off. Ugh…even with all this technology, it still takes way too long to travel by air.

I lean my head back against the seat and sigh. I guess I should tell you that I’m making my homecoming today. I already called Misato and Hikari and told them to meet me at the airport when I land. Nearly four years away from Japan…damn, I swear the time gets away from you. Ireland was a really nice experience, it’s just so pure and untouched-looking. There was good reason for that: apparently, most of it had gone underwater after Second Impact. What went back up in the old country’s place had been like a return to older times: the cities there are much smaller and more rustic. I moved into a small flat in Waterford using my NERV “severance pay” (the one and only good thing they ever did for me) and spent the first few weeks settling in. Misato said that, from the pictures, it looks idyllic.

And yeah, just as you’d expect, she was fairly pissed at me for leaving. She understood, of course…but she still felt like I’d abandoned her. After assuring her that I’d be back one day, we made peace over my decision and kept in contact ever since. And she’s even picked herself up and tried going on with her life. I suppose she felt like she’d spent long enough grieving: it wouldn’t be what you wanted for her, I told her.

I’ve also kept in contact with Hikari, but at least she wasn’t as angry with me initially. I am sad I couldn’t have been there for the wedding, though. Heh, yeah, she ended up marrying Suzuhara after all. Anyone with half a brain could see that throughout high school. I wanted to be jealous…but that was the old me talking. I just wished them the best of luck and a happy future.

Now, where was I? Oh, right, Waterford. After getting accustomed to the new surroundings, I made myself known to the town’s populace. Thing is, they knew me as Catherine Marie Gahan. I figured I’d rather start from scratch there if this was taking time away from the past. Aida helped me out with all the necessary “official” documentation. Figures that geek would come in handy one day. I spent my first year there as a waitress in a small café in the downtown area. Without the weight of my identity and my past, it felt different…like a completely other me, ready to talk to just anyone with a smile and a kind word. I suppose I should thank you for teaching me that much, at least.

While working there, I especially began to reconnect with children. I guess, given my own childhood, seeing kids always seemed to open up old wounds. But it slowly felt different, and I’m pretty sure why. Damned biological clock. For a while, I clung on to the vow my teenage self used to make, especially when my period hit hard, to never want children. But you just can’t control those motherly impulses sometimes. Not that I was intending to give birth to one: I still haven’t been able to be with other men with you on my mind. I mean, how many of them do you think would give themselves for me like you did?

Anyway…that led me back to teaching, kindergarten and first grade specifically. That’s how I spent the remaining time over there, working with younger children and watching the sparkle and wonder in their eyes. It had been a very, VERY long time since I’d seen the world as a magical place. I guess, over time, those kids had shown me what I’d forgotten. I almost wanted to cry some days in those moments.

I toy around with the locket on my necklace. It was a little gift Misato sent me a couple of years ago…along with some other things. Turns out she had been secretly taking and keeping pictures of us while we were both under her care. One I kept on my desk for the longest time: it was from after staying at that hot-spring resort after defeating the Angel at Mt. Asama. We had fallen asleep in the backseat of her car on opposite sides, each looking out a window and out cold. Your left hand and my right hand had ended up close together, within and inch or two of touching. Misato said that moment looked so precious, she couldn’t help but get a shot of it. Yeah, I made sure to frame it and treasure that one in particular. Another one she had taken was before I had showed up: it was you with your friends, putting on a truly natural smile. She said it was one of the few that showed you genuinely happy. A copy of that picture is inside this locket. That way, you’d always be near my heart, as you have been for years now…

A small yawn and some movement from the seat next to mine brings my attention back to my other surprise to everyone. I said before that I wouldn’t give birth to a child, right? No, this little one was a gift to me from Heaven. I spent enough time around children that I had begun to consider the idea of raising one of my own. I spotted her at one of the first orphanages I visited. I think what drew me to her was her eyes: they’re like yours were, almost an impossibly deep blue. She even has a hair color not unlike yours, although less black and more brown.

Her name’s Sarah, she’s of British birth (from what her records could tell), and she spent almost her entire life as an orphan. She was given up for adoption at infancy and spent the next four years there, always waiting to see if someone would take her to a new home. I was about that age when I lost my mother, so there was that kind of kinship there too. I adopted her about seven months ago, and I couldn’t imagine ever deciding otherwise. I truly feel like I finally have light in my life for the first time in what feels like so very long.

I watch Sarah rub her eyes and look at me with that pure smile of hers. “Hi Mama, are we there yet?” she asks me.

I smile and smooth out her hair. “Not yet, Liebling. It’ll be soon, though,” I tell her. “I hope so, anyway,” I add a few seconds later.

She giggles at my musings. “Silly Mama,” she says. “I can’t wait to meet Grandma Misato and Aunt Hikari!”

Oh dear, Misato just might kill me over that nickname. Heh, Sarah’s been excited as can be ever since I told her we were moving back to where her Mama grew up. I just hope this little surprise doesn’t give either Misato or Hikari a heart attack. “Yep, they’re gonna get a good surprise when they meet you.”

She points at the locket I’m still holding with an inquisitive look in her eyes. “What’s that, Mama?”

I open it up and lean in closer to show her the picture within. “This is one of Mama’s best friends in the world,” I tell her. “His name is Shinji. Can you say ‘Shinji’?”

“Sh-Shin…”she struggles with the pronunciation for a moment, “Shinji. Is that right, Mama?”

I nod, giving her a big smile. “Very good, Liebling. Mama‘s so proud of you.”

Ah, there’s that smile again. I never grow tired of seeing it on her. “Thanks, Mama. Will we get to meet him, too?”

My smile falls away for just a second before it returns and I speak again. “Well…you see, little one…he’s somewhere very, very far away. So I don’t think we’ll get to meet him for a long time.” Ugh, I hate lying to her. But I’ll tell her the truth one day when she’s old enough, I promise.

Sarah just gives me this puzzled look as I explain, then smiles and nods. “Okay, Mama,” she tells me. I feel the plane shake around again and I join her in peering out the window seat she’d insisted upon. Oh good, we’ve finally landed back on solid ground. “We made it, we made it!” she says in an excited voice.

“We sure have, little one,” I tell her as the airline announcements run their course. When it’s finally time to, I unbuckle her and myself and rise from our seats and retrieve my carry-on bag from the overhead stowage. Holding my hand out to her, I speak again. “Ready to go to our new home, Liebling?”

She grins again and takes my hand. “Okay, Mama. Let’s go,” she says as I lead us out of the plane.

Well, Shinji…maybe I used to think that trading your life for mine was a waste. But for a long time now, I no longer feel like I’ve got a weight around my heart. I feel like I’m ready to look forward and keep going. And there’s someone else in my life who needs me to keep my head held high. And I’m going to fill this little vessel with all the love neither you or I were shown…and all the love you would’ve shown me if you were still here.

I have to smile to myself as I step outside of the plane, Sarah in tow. Are you proud of me, Shinji? Because for the first time in a long time, and not in the way I used to be…I’m proud of myself.

*****THE END*****

A/N: Yeah, it started off kinda bittersweet and dark and managed to end on a much lighter note. I had felt like I WON’T LET YOU FALL APART needed a sequel, some kind of follow-up…a better sense of closure, if you will. Besides, I’d never written from Asuka’s perspective. Her mindset, yes. But never looking through her eyes AND in her words. I’d like to think I did a pretty decent job. Besides, I tend to think that it’s the darker works that can help show if you’ve improved in overall writing skill. But did I? Well, that’s really up to you, now isn’t it?

A special bit of thanks goes out to enigmasky for his (her?) recent fic Remember Me, which got me off my duff to complete this.

Yeah, Mitsumi’s still feeling a bit ill. Don’t worry, though. I think by next time, she’ll be back to her good old cheerfully hyperactive self.

Pre-read for this one was done by Bagheera, Final Messenger, JimmyWolk (whose advice ended up creating the second portion of the fic), and xanderkh. Thanks, guys. Very good work.

As usual: good comments will be appreciated, bad ones will be ignored (or kept for firewood). But I do favor good/helpful criticism, so send it my way! So go take a look at the rest of my fics, tell me what you think. And review! Even if it’s not positive, review!

Until our paths next cross,
-AngelNo13Bardiel-


Might be another one incoming soon, I've been on a helluva hot streak.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Joined: Jun 17, 2010
Location: The Great Northern Kingdom of Canadia
Gender: Male

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:35 am

Well, the "hot streak" was slightly delayed, but I come bearing a holiday gift for you all:

There is a Light That Never Goes Out

And I'm not even kidding in the author's notes when I say that Bagheera should probably get co-writing credit: he truly helped shape this from a good fic into something nearing great (after many a long and in-depth editing session). I thank you deeply, sir.

And now, off to finish work on Sanctions...I hope. Fingers crossed, people.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:39 am

Well, I've finally been back at work writing recently...so that means it's time to share it again with you guys.

I, ahem, can't link you directly to the first one for content reasons.
SPOILER: Show
That means there's vaguely-explicit sex involved, just so you know.

It's easy enough to find, though: just follow my FFN profile and look for "Hands All Over". I won't bother telling the minors to stay away, considering you probably won't heed such advice.

This is the next one, another part to the I Won't Let You Fall Apart/Fly On, Little Wing timeline. I'm very proud of this one, it's probably my current best.

Finally...finally, I finished and uploaded The Ayanami Sanctions. That was easily the most I've done in terms of writing Rei.

And on that note, The Ikari Legacy has also been completed while I was away. Hopefully, that wraps up this saga for good.

I'm gonna break for a little while after that group. But expect me to have something in a few weeks, there's still plenty of stories left to tell.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

AngelNo13Bardiel
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Re: [Fic] Bardi's Works

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:48 am

Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-

jcmoorehead
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Re: [Fic] Bardi's Works

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Postby jcmoorehead » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:54 am

I need to go through and read all of your older content but it's nice to see you back and writing again. Been really nice to see your newer stuff and review it as well. Looking forward to seeing more :)

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Re: [Fic] Bardi's Works

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:05 pm

View Original Postjcmoorehead wrote:I need to go through and read all of your older content but it's nice to see you back and writing again.


I'm gonna be frank and warn you right now: lower your expectations. Some of that stuff (I'd say pre-2010, before The Long and Winding Road) is pretty cringe-worthy by comparison.

Looking forward to seeing more :)


Oh believe me, I've beaten procrastination into the dirt well enough to get quite a bit more out before I'm spent this time. I hope.
Like, for example, these inklings:  SPOILER: Show
-I found, while digging through some old CD-Rs, the original versions of Somewhere Out There, Show, Don't Tell (bits and pieces of those two were part of the same single work) and I Won't Let You Fall Apart. Maybe I might dust 'em off and give them a new coat of paint, see if they're up to current standards).
-The strange-yet-fitting mixture of Evangelion and, of all things, the film Jacob's Ladder. If you've seen it, you can tell where it'll go.
-A multi-part post-EoE drama/action canon focused on Asuka. Would say more, but it would spoil any surprises.
-The next part of the Hands All Over/The Trick is to Keep Breathing canon. No, it wasn't initially planned...but neither was TTiTKB until about four of five months after HAO. There are a few things when it comes to "vanilla" lemon content (i.e.: non-kink) that I've yet to cover, and that would be the perfect place...
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004.
Current avatar: Derpy bootleg Sonic or Adam? I'm not sure on this one...
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
Clones to the left of me, tsunderes to the right...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Shinji. - how I view my experience with Evangelion
-When it comes to Asuka/Shinji, pre-EoE is like moving Mount Everest and post-EoE is like moving the Olympus Mons. Either way, it's moving a mountain. It's just the size of said mountain.-


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