Neon Genesis Evangelion
EVA-R Prime Extension
Thanks to Raymond Cooper
Credit where credit is due to Gainax, etc etc. Evangelion is someone else's property, etc.
Additional Credits to the creators of EVA-R Illustrated Fan Fiction. Find it at http://www.eva-r.com - it is an absolutely brilliant fan fic and essential reading to understand this story. You should have read EVA-R up to episode 53 PRIME before reading this fan fiction.
Light of the Soul / Contact
(The deep blue sea - site of previous conflicts, yet remains as cool and dark as always, long after parties have withdrawn and battles forgotten.
Since the ancient times - when once great triremes did battle and the drumbeat of oars sounded on the wind - to the greater historical conflicts, great battleships blasting guns into the morning sky over the bay..
.. and the latest of conflicts, where great Evangelions battle for supremacy with a beast beneath the sea..
.. the ocean, always returns. Calm. Deep. Blue. As before.
The morning sun strikes it - as it has for a million years, and should there be no life remaining on the world, would continue to do so for a million more. The sun, like the ocean, remains. Yet this morning, the early warmth begets a grey seepage - as a fog begins to form on the water's cool surface..
Something in the way the fog moves.. the way it gathers.. the depths flash with an inner light.. the tendrils drift with a strange, yet familiar purpose.. all leads to a sense of grief, utter helplessness and despair as the grey mist slowly encroaches on the deep blue sea.. slowly spreading to the horizons.. it gathers too far from land to be a real fog.. yet not so close for anyone to do more than discount it as a trick of the mind..
.. which may yet be all that it is..
Yet, in the mist, something decidedly human moves with speed and direction - grey drifts blown apart by the bursting strength..
.. of a shocking howl of a million human voices raised in an endless scream..)
Asuka: Look, I'm not going!
(Morning - it is the day after Asuka's aborted flight. Shinji has managed to rise on time and is on his way to school - albeit disheveled from a mostly sleepless night. Asuka clearly does not wish to return to school - at least, not yet..)
Asuka: And don't tell them anything.
Shinji: But.. I mean.. are you sure? What about Hikari..
Asuka: Sheiss! Yes, Shinji, I'm sure! I'm not here! And if you tell anyone otherwise..
(At this moment Misato stumbles out of the washroom, looking sleepy. She stops cold at the sight of Asuka's familar visage, an angry swirl of red hair with a finger waving under the young boy's nose...
.. and abruptly hides a smile in the clearing of her throat.)
Misato: Shinji.. if its what she wants..
Shinji: (resigned) Yeah, okay.
(The EVA pilot shoulders his school bag and seems to take his time leaving the apartment. Asuka stands, hands on hips, her blue eyes fixed on his back until at last the door slides closed behind him. Then, without a word she slouches in front of the television, clutches the remote in hand, and stares at the screen with little interest until Misato clears her voice once more..)
Misato: So.. you decided to not to leave.
Misato: May I ask why?
Asuka: (Flatly) None of your business.
(The second child slumps down on the sofa, idly flicking through channels as if interested. She keeps her face turned away, deliberately ignoring her guardian who after a short moment continues about her morning duties, including fetching a can of sake from the refridgerator.
Misato returns to the living room, beer in hand, the aluminium popping along the pre-stressed lines as she tugs the ring-pull.)
Misato: (absently) They'll miss you at school, you know.
Asuka: Leave me alone.
Misato: If that's what you want, why did you bother coming back?
(The girl says nothing, merely flicking to a new channel, deliberately resuming her study of the flickering screen.)
Touji: So man, what happened?
(Scene - Class 2A. In a break from normal behaviour, the tone is subdued - the joking absent as most of the class has gathered around Shinji the moment he walked in the door. Touji, Kensuke, Goro and Hikari are some among the many who all seem to be asking the same question..
Shinji is, of course, doing his best to keep his mouth firmly shut..)
Hikari: Did she really leave?
Goro: She didn't! Did she?
Kensuke: Do they need a new pilot now?
Hikari: (Ignoring the others) So did she leave, Shinji?
Other Class Members: Yeah, where's Asuka?
Goro: Come on, Shinji.. tell us.
Shinji: .. she..
Hikari: (Wearily) Shinji...
Shinji: .. she asked me not to say, Ok?
(The class holds its breath for a moment.. then there is a laugh somewhere at the back, Touji claps Goro on the back and Hikari smiles slowly.
At that moment the door slides open and the teacher enters. Chairs scrape as the class members scramble to take their seats for another long day of lessons..
But Shinji, it seems, is not hearing the words of the teacher. His gaze travels, unfocussed, around the room.. noting the expressions on the face of Touji.. Goro.. Hikari.. the straightened shoulders.. whispered banterings.. as if a weight has been lifted from them. They all look..
His gaze finally drifts to the back row.. passing over Lyn - even Lyn, normally uncomfortable at the mere thought of Asuka's presence is busy smiling at his desk. Shinji's gaze finally moves to Rei Ayanami.. and Shinji realises, abruptly, that she is staring straight back at him.
Rei holds his gaze for an instant, then nods.. and wordlessly turns her attentions to her window once more, staring out at the schoolyard bathed in the bright morning sunlight.)
Shinji: Asuka? Misato?
(The door to Misato's apartment closes behind Shinji with a hiss. He stands in the doorway for a moment, his school bag over one shoulder, eyeing the diminutive figure before him.
It is Pen Pen. The creature stands in the middle of the room, cooly returning his gaze. After a moment, the penguin seems to dismiss the interruption and resumes his walk to the refrigerator, opens the door, and climbs inside. The door closes with an audible hiss.
At that point, the kitchen panel slides open and Misato pokes her head through.)
Misato: She's in her room, Shinji. Ready?
Shinji: Yeah, everything's set -
(Asuka steps into the den from her room, purse in hand, dressed ostensibly. She sighs at the sight of Shinji, and turns to address Misato, ignoring him at first. It is clear that she had wished to depart before the third child returned from school.)
Asuka: I'm going out to catch a movie. I might not be back 'till late.
Misato: (still speaking from the kitchen doorway) Actually Asuka, I was hoping you'd stay. I had a.. special dinner planned.
Asuka: (disinterested) Oh. What's the occasion?
Misato: Um.. well an occasion.. you know, I didn't really think we needed-
Asuka: (interrupting) -Well, save me some then. I just want to get out for a bit.
Misato: Are you going to go to school tomorrow?
(Asuka mumbles something inaudible in response and heads for the door, pausing as she passes the frozen form of Shinji.)
Asuka: (quietly) .. did they ask about me?
(It takes the third child a moment to respond.)
Shinji: .. yeah, they did, Asuka. They were worried..
Asuka: (disbelief) Yeah.. I guess they were.
(The redhaired girl pushes past Shinji, striding purposefully for the door, her purse clutched tighter, seemingly more determined to spend the night 'out' - though whether it is to get away from Misato, Shinji, or herself remains unclear.)
Asuka: Well, I suppose I'll see you all later..
Misato: Late enough to be "too tired" for tomorrow, right?
(Asuka ignores the rejoinder and stabs at the door control. The steel panel slides aside to reveal Hikari, Touji, Kensuke, Goro, Lyn, Aoi, and several other students from the class, huddled around the door hopefully. Kensuke is the only one brave enough to have his ear pressed to the cold metal, and as such is caught in the spotlight. He leaps back.)
Asuka: (angrily).. What the hell are you doing here!!?
Asuka: (fuming) ..!
(Misato steps from the kitchen doorway at last, standing beside Shinji in the den.)
Misato: Well, we were going to have a special dinner - don't worry, I won't cook this time. It was going to celebrate your return to this little group of close friends, but if you really feel you need to go out..
Hikari: (eyes narrowing) You're staying, Asuka.
(It is much later. Pen Pen is standing next to the dining table, peering up at the edge, past which stacked plates and empty cups are scattered, spattered with the remains of the meal Shinji had prepared much earlier. The sound of the wellwishers laughter and farewells slowly fade into the distance as Shinji slides the door closed and joins Misato in the kitchen..)
Misato: Well, (yawning and stretching) that was fun. No beer, but fun. When you get older, Shinji, remind me to show you how to get drunk.
Shinji: I thought you gave that up.
Misato: I did, but it's like riding a bicycle.
(Asuka, however, excludes herself from the conversation. She has resumed her slouch in front of the television, but is not interested in its content. Instead, she is staring at the small pile of cards scattered on the floor before her.)
Shinji: I don't think I should try it, Misato - I might like it.
Misato: What's wrong with that?
Shinji: (frowning) Well.. I might get drunk - regularly. I've seen you the next morning - it doesn't seem to be as easy as you make it out to be.
(Ignoring the conversation, Asuka reads through the cards - again. There is one, adorned with a cartoon, from Touji:
"I don't don't know if I should laugh or cry."
Another, smaller, fragrant card from Hikari reads:
"Thanks for staying, Asuka."
Shinij and Misato, meanwhile, are still discussing the topic of alcohol.)
Misato: That's a load of bull, Shinji. Alcohol, if taken in reasonable doses, is easily absorbed and broken down by the body. Without any damage at all!
Shinji: And just what is a 'Reasonable Dose'?
Misato: Well, that depends on how many you've had.. (thoughtfully) "one more" is usually good..
(Asuka continues through the pile. She reaches the one from Lyn:
"My Ass is Yours."
She stares blankly at it for a long moment.. then abruptly covers her mouth with her hand.. stifling a chuckle.. which swells into a quiet fit of laughter.)
Misato: For example, I, having had much experience in.. Asuka? What's so funny?
(Asuka seems to be giggling as she clutches at Lyn's card. In time, her silent struggle trails off into a little squeak of noise as she claps both hands over her mouth..
In complete silence, a glint in her eye betrays her feelings: shining clearly in the soft living room light, a tear escapes, the girl letting it run down her cheek and drip along her jawline to the total oblivion of the pair who promptly resume their "discussion" in the kitchen. Abruptly she brushes it away as if angry with the betrayal and her right hand curls into a fist, crushing the small get-well card.)
Asuka: (loudly) Stupid english PRAT!
Shinji: I think that was the card she got from Lyn.
Misato: (vague interest) What's it say?
Shinji: Um.. I don't think I should tell..
Asuka: (absently) Don't worry Misato, it's just a get well from a little boy.. (continues through the pile) But this, I don't get. When was Wonder Girl here?
Misato: Rei? She wasn't, was she?
Shinji: She arrived after the others. She left after just a few minutes. You didn't see her?
Misato: I didn't notice.. she must have been quiet..
Asuka: (sarcastic) Well, that's a switch. Hmm.. First Child..
(It is a plain white card, utterly devoid of any decoration save a line of printed text in its exact centre. It reads:
"I am pleased that you are staying - Rei."
Asuka blinks, eyeing the card in disbelief.)
Asuka: (softly) Even Wondergirl..
(The microwave emits an audible tone as it reaches the end of its heating cycle. Seyoko Ozakazi, guardian of the 6th child, pops open the oven door and retrieves her meal, closing the microwave again just as the apartment door slides aside with a hiss.
Lyn enters, looking tired, a slight frown on his face.)
Seyoko: How was the party?
Lyn: It was nice.
Seyoko: Nice, huh?
(Seyoko looks at the boy levelly, placing her late night snack on the kitchen table and taking a seat. She regards him steadily, taking in his expression through the slight vapour rising from the hot noodles.)
Seyoko: Just nice?
Lyn: (shrugging) Yeah.
Seyoko: Details? Anything specific?
(Lyn heads for the television, picking up the channel guide as he thinks.)
Lyn: Actually, I was feeling a little sorry for Asuka in the end; she seemed uncomfortable being the centre of attention. (thinking) Must have been sick or something..
(Lyn absently plays with the end of the plaster cast still on his arm. Seyoko notices.)
Seyoko: Don't fiddle with that. It's on your arm for a reason. (returns to subject) I heard she was going to leave last night; a flight to Berlin. It was delayed, though..
Lyn: Yeah, thats what the party was about - a welcome back. I wonder if she's read my card yet..
Seyoko: Your card?
Lyn: Yeah, I thought I'd return an old favour.. (heading out of the living room) I'll probably be able to hear the scream from my room. G'night.
(The sixth child departs, leaving a mystified Seyoko staring into her take-away meal. She regards the instant mush regretfully, considering her ward's words, finally muttering into her first mouthful.)
Seyoko: These pilots are a tight bunch..
(She chews thoughtfully, stirring the sloppy contents with the cheap takeaway chopsticks.)
Seyoko: They might hate each other sometimes, but..
Asuka: (shouting) Shinji!
(Asuka, wearing her school uniform, is standing in front of the door to Shinji's room. It is the morning after the party. The living room has been conspicuously cleared of the mess - the chore forced upon Shinji out of Misato's laziness and Asuka's sheer bullying.)
Shinji: (drowsy voice) Alright alright..!! I'm coming.
Asuka: Damn it Shinji, don't you have a responsibility to the human race to go to bed early?
Shinji: Some idiot made me clean up late last night!
(Asuka ignores the protest entirely, turning to Misato with a grimace.)
Asuka: Bah - verdammt! Why the heck does he take so long?
Misato: Relax. At this rate, you'll get to school with plenty of time to spare. Quit fussing over him, Asuka.
Asuka: (angrily interrupting) Hey, just what the hell are you implying?
Misato: I am his guardian, remember? Let me do the fussing. Why are you in such a rush?
Misato: (quietly) I thought you weren't going to school..
(The second child still has nothing to say, merely glaring at the panel to Shinji's room. Her response is so quiet, Katsuragi nearly misses it with the grunting and hurried banging coming from the other side of the panel as Shinji hurriedly prepares himself for the day.)
Asuka: You were right.. yesterday morning..
(Asuka bites her lip. Misato's chance of a response is lost as Shinji finishes up, finally sliding the door to his room open. He, too, is dressed in his school uniform, and despite being decidedly hurried in dress, he appears cheerful in demeanour. The redhaired pilot, however, uses the opportunity and converts her nervousness into an explosion of anger at the boy.)
Asuka: Its about time! Could you go any SLOWER?
(Shinji's smile abruptly slides off his face as he throws a sidelong glance at the suddenly thoughtful Misato. The woman simply shrugs her shoulders and opens the front door just in time to allow Asuka to charge through. Shinji gapes after the departing swirl of red hair for the briefest instant before a hand snakes back through the doorway, grabs a handful of his shirt and hauls him after..)
Asuka: Raus! Get your ass in gear, Shinji!
(The door slides closed with a hiss, cutting out Shinji's protests in mid-sentence. Misato stares at the inside of the door for a long moment, then slowly moves over to the kitchen, picking up the phone and punching in a number.)
Misato: (into phone) E-Project Chairperson, please.
(There is the briefest of pauses as the call is ostensibly transferred elsewhere.)
Misato: Maya? Its Misato.
Misato: .. well, its about Asuka..
(Once they clear the street where the apartment is situated, Asuka slows to a walk. Shinji matches pace.)
Shinji: Hey, I thought we were in a hurry.
(Asuka doesn't respond to Shinji's query. Instead, they walk on towards the school for a few minutes in silence. Shinji works up the nerve to ask a second question, one that has been playing on his thoughts.)
Shinji: Um. Asuka.. what made you change your mind about going to school again?
Asuka: (turning on him) What do you think, dumkopf?! Did you sleep through the party last night or something?
Shinji: I'm sorry!
Asuka: Damn right you should be. I've never seen such a..
(She trails off, and then returns to the conversation with anger.)
Asuka: You're apologizing again! When are you going to get over this chronic problem of yours!?
Shinji: I'm -
Shinji: Oh. Um.. (pauses, thinking) Asuka.. I know it was the party that changed your mind and all, but.. I was just wondering..
Shinji: About the party..
Asuka: Just spit it out!
Shinji: Well.. what was it about the party that changed your mind?
Asuka: (stops walking for a second, then continues) What do you mean?
Shinji: Um.. Well, I guess it could have been that you felt like.. like someone liked you, really liked you, I guess.. Or that you felt that people need you-
Asuka: (interrupting) That's not it! I can hardly have all those people over at my place to see me and then not show up and disappoint them, can I?
Asuka: How could I look them in the face later? What would they think of me?
Shinji: So.. it that it?
Asuka: Is that what?
Shinji: ..You're doing this because.. It's expected of you - they went to all the trouble, so now you.. you feel obligated..
Asuka: Well, if you're going to put it that way.. yeah. It's what they expect.
Shinji: (disappointed) Oh.
(They continue walking in silence. Shinji looks down at the ground, the disappointment in his voice reflected in his demeanor.)
Asuka: You wanted me to say something else, didn't you?
Shinji: Um.. I'm not sure.
Asuka: Oh, so my reasons aren't good enough for you?
Asuka: Of course, I bow to the judgement of the child who said.. (mimicking) "I pilot Eva for the praise of my father. I so very much want him to appreiciate me!" Sheist. Before you start psycho-analysing me, Ikari, you ought to take a good look at your own problems!
(Shinji meanwhile, is staring at the ground - his eyes dropped the moment his father was mentioned.)
(Asuka doesn't continue her attack - she notices his sudden silence and instantly feels regretful. For a moment - just a moment - she contemplates telling him the real reason she returned.. the party last night, the wishes she recieved, and how Misato was right.
And how she would have hated herself for not trying - one more time.
Taking a deep breath, she turns to address her companion, only to notice that he is still gazing at his feet, trudging dispirtedly along. The chance lost, Asuka closes her mouth, her head bowing in imitation as the silence begins to feel more and more appropriate.
The pair continue towards school quietly.)
(The bay of Tokyo-3 greets the morning sun shrouded in a blanket of early morning fog. The population, those lucky enough to survive the previous attacks, and brave or foolish enough to risk staying, start to take to the street in number. Many notice the mist hanging out to sea as they make their way to work, but far fewer understand what it signifies..)
Maya: (looking up, surprised) You're here early.
(Maya and Hyuga man the consoles of the synch labs at NERV. On the view screen in front of the team they see Shinji and Asuka, dressed in their plug suits, climbing into the test plugs. Misato grins ruefully at the startled technicians as she enters the room.)
Misato: I know, bit of a switch isn't it? Asuka had me drive the two of them here, straight from school.
Hyuga: I thought that you and her had a falling out over the incident with Unit Two.
Misato: Yeah.. She hasn't mentioned it - yet. Maybe she's willing to forgive and forget, you know. Or maybe it's because there's been a lot going on, and it just slipped..
(Misato falls silent as she considers the likelihood of it just "slipping".. thinking over the girl's words that morning. Before she can become lost in her own thoughts, she deliberately picks herself up with another question.)
Misato: Hey.. we might be here early, but Rei's already in.
(On the screen, Rei Ayanami's face is visible. Her countenance is calm, her eyes closed in concentration.)
Maya: She was here this today before my shift, actually. She seemed.. tense.
Misato: Rei? Tense?
Maya: Maybe tense isn't the word.. maybe she had a rough day. I had a bad enough time getting here myself.
Misato: (Absently) They mentioned she wasn't at school..
Misato: Yeah - I hear the bay districts had some early morning fog today. Still, there was no sign of it in our area, so it was pretty safe to drive.
Maya: (amused) Are you sure it was safe anyway? I've seen your driving.
Hyuga: Ma'am? We're inserting the new arrivals now.
(Both Maya and Misato turn their attentions to the main screen.)
Hyuga: Initializing plugs one and two.. sychronization tests will begin in 20 seconds..
(On the screen, a strange expression passes over Rei Ayanami's face - a moment of tension, followed by a slight sinking, slouching back into her plug seat. It goes unnoticed by the controllers. Then Hyuga looks up in astonishment.. )
Hyuga: What the.. Major! Rei's synch ratio just dropped ten points!
Hyuga: Still dropping!
Maya: This is strange.. her vitals are steady, there's no sign of mental contamination.. respiratory systems are slightly slower than normal..
Hyuga: She's down to forty percent!
Misato: Maya, what's the matter with Rei?
Maya: I'm not sure.. just let me..
Hyuga: She's bottomed out! Synch ratio is zero!
Misato: What the hell is going on?!
Maya: It's.. (her face softens) Don't worry. She's just sleeping.
(It is a dark, yet warm place.. a place filled with a drifting white mist.. the stuff of dreams.. the stuff of memories.)
Rei: Where am I?
Rei: Deep in the ground. I can feel the presence of She, the woman who does not bleed..
Rei: He is here, also. Dead.. but alive. Dead at the hands of Unit One.
Rei: Killed by Ikari..
Kaworu: (quietly) Rei..
(Standing upon the surface of the LCL sea is a boy. In the dark depths of Terminal Dogma, the glow that emanates from the figure reflects off the pillars of ice that float in the yellow fluid. The being is Kaworu Nagisa - Tabris, the 17th angel.)
Kaworu: I am sorry.
Rei: .. why am I here?
Kaworu: I must ask you a question: Who are you?
Rei: (as if reciting a litany) I am Rei Ayanami, the designated pilot of Eva Unit Zero.
Kaworu: That is your name - your designation and your Evangelion. But who are you? Is the name simply yours because you are born to it?
Rei: .. I do not understand.
Kaworu: Who is the pilot of Unit One?
Rei: He is Shinji Ikari.
Kaworu: No. Shinji Ikari is the name given to him by both chance and fate - I have not met Shinji Ikari.
Rei: It is his identity. It is who he is.
Kaworu: If his name was different, would he still be the individual you know? Would he not be the one in whose hands I placed my life?
Rei: .. I do not know.
Kaworu: Is not the identity of a being the sum of its experiences as a living thing?
Rei: .. I see ..
Kaworu: Then - who are you?
Rei: I am..
Rei: I am..
A bright flash of light interrupts her thoughts.. someone calls her, the voice faint as if a very long way away.. yet it hangs like a hand on her shoulder. She shakes herself, as if to throw off the voice, and concentrates on the question..
Rei: I am..
Suddenly, it comes to her: the image of a young boy. A child with golden eyes, a shock of white hair atop a smiling face..
Rei: (whispering) Tenkei?
Maya: (radio) Rei! Rei!
Misato: (radio) Rei, wake up.
Rei: I.. slept?
Asuka: (radio) Damn it, Wonder Girl, keep your head on straight!
Rei: .. Did I sleep?
Misato: (radio) Yes Rei. So.. what happened?
Rei: I don't know. I am.. sorry.
Asuka: (radio) Damn right sorry! Dropping off during a test.. If I did that, I'd want my head examined!
Misato: (radio) Knock it off, Asuka.
Asuka: I'm just pointing out that in a combat situation -
Misato: ( radio - interrupting) - it wouldn't have happened. Let it go, Asuka.
Maya: (radio) Rei - do you want a break?
Rei: No thank you. (straightening) I can continue.
Maya: (radio) Alright.. let's.. just continue the test.
Shinji: (radio) Right..
Maya: These results could be better.
(Misato leans over Maya's shoulder to peer at the readings scrolling down the console's screen. Now, Lyn's results are added - the 6th child having arrived a short while ago.)
Maya: Shinji's synch ratio is within one-point-five percent of his last test, Lyn's shown four points improvement, and Asuka's leveled out at fifty percent -
Misato: But that's thirty points under her usual!
Maya: True, but some drop in her rating is to be expected, what with what's happened. But I'm worried about Rei.
Misato: (she reads the console) It doesn't look that bad.
Hyuga: Every few minutes, she drops another point or so.
Maya: I can't say for sure... but if I had to give a reason, I'd say it was exhaustion.
Misato: (intrigued) Exhaustion? How? Should we continue to the next test?
Maya: We should give them another half hour. And then maybe a break before activating the Evas.
Asuka: Isn't it a wonderful day, Shinji?
(Asuka holds her arms up to what passes for the sky in the Geo-Front as she speaks to the other pilot.)
Shinji: Huh? The day?
(The pilot of Unit 01 holds a watering can over a small garden of melons. His movements betray his lack of understanding of the task, but he continues notheless.
Shinji has come to the place he knows best - the small watering ground, home to Kaji's .. flowers. It is only a few moments walk from the Geo-Front complex - the boy having run the distance himself once in desperation. Now, he has visited between synchronisation tests, perhaps from obligation, or perhaps to find peace and quiet, time for his own thoughts.
Sadly, the companion that has followed him to this location seems hell-bent on denying him any chance at the contemplation he desires.)
Asuka: Yeah, the day and all. Look at it Shinji!
Shinji: Well.. I suppose it looks nice..
Asuka: (angrily) Oh, why did I expect anything from you!
(The boy half-turns, startled, and is instantly apologetic.)
Shinji: I'm sorry Asuka! What.. what's so special about today?
(Asuka smirks, now that she has Shinji on the path of conversation she has already mapped out in her mind.)
Asuka: Well, yesterday there wasn't an obvious need for a highly skilled and fully qualified Eva pilot, now, was there?
Asuka: No, there wasn't!
Shinji: Well, no.. I guess..
Asuka: There was Rei; the Wondergirl! Single handedly fighting angels, surviving explosions of apocalyptic proportions, and now she's even covering for Lyn! That british fop was obviously out of his league trying to pilot my unit two!
Shinji: (turning his head to hide his smile) Uh huh..
Asuka: Guess you relied on her too, huh? Maybe even a bit too much. The magnificent Shinji, lost without his protector - (The girl clutches her hands before her face and effects a totally unbelievable look of adoration.)
Asuka: Those dazzling red eyes, that glorious blue hair! Oh Rei, she's my hero!
(Shinji looks nervous, as if someone had pricked him with a pin in an unexpected area. He looks down, seeming to concentrate on his sprinkling, trying to drive the thoughts of Rei's unusual behaviour from his mind.)
Shinji: Umm.. I guess..
Asuka: But now we see that Rei is human too! I suppose it's just good fortune that I didn't leave after all? Fortune? Bah, it's destiny!
Asuka: Well? Don't just stand there, stupid! Say something!
Shinji: Um.. I think it's good that you're .. feeling better, Asuka..
(The two stand silently for a while, Shinji trying to sprinkle effectively, and Asuka, arms folded, caught between smugness at Rei's earlier lapse and anger with Shinji's apparent lack of understanding. Before she can come to a decision on which path to follow, Shinji lays the watering can aside and releases a deep sigh, realising the hopelessness of the situation.)
Shinji: I think we ought to be going back for the activation tests.
(Shinji closes his eyes as he passes into the second stage of contact. The LCL blurs and clears, and the weight of the fluid on his body seems to vanish.)
Yuri: (radio) Evangelions One and Two are now at second-stage contact. Power levels nominal.
Misato: (radio) Once the third level contacts are made, move the Eva's to the launchpads. Send them to the test area.
(Within moments, the Evangelions are shunted into the giant expanse of the Geo-Front complex, launched into a a clearing created shortly after the cavern had been cleared of the flooding caused by the 16th Angel's explosive demise.
A small rectangular video display snaps into view on the third child's HUD. It shows Maya, standing in the command centre of NERV headquarters.)
Maya: (radio) Okay. Let's begin with the usual procedure. Unfold your AT fields.
(Shinji stares ahead, his face hardening in determination. The air before Eva 01 shimmers as the phase space asserts itself.)
Maya: (radio) Very good Shinji. Now Asuka, unfold yours.
Asuka: (radio) Just give me a second!
(Shinji can hear the frustration in the girl's voice as she struggles to perform the feat. After a long moment, Unit 02 is also protected by it's AT field.)
Maya: (radio) Now, we can start the exercise. For the purpose of this experiment, an AT field can be described as a waveform, possessing both frequency and amplitude. Like a waveform, interference with another frequency can cause a distortion in the field.
Shinji: .. uhh.. what?
(A second video display snaps into existance on his HUD. Now it is Asuka, more than ready to pounce on his scientific ignorance.)
Asuka: (radio) What are you, stupid? It's like sound! Or radio. For someone who spends so many hours listening to those headphones of yours you don't -
Maya: (radio - interrupting) Let me explain it like this, Shinji; your AT field has a certain shape. When it overlaps with another AT field, that shape changes.
Shinji: Oh.. that's pretty simple.
Asuka: (radio) Of course it's simple!
Maya: (radio) When you cancel an Angel's AT field, what you're really doing is shaping your field so that it matches the opposing field. The two fields 'fit' together in such a way as you can pass through it and attack the Angel.
Shinji: .. Okay. It's sort of like a jigsaw puzzle.
Maya: (radio) .. Yes. Shinji, I want you to expand your field, but do it slowly. Asuka, tell me what happens.
(Within the entry plug, Shinji takes a breath of LCL and concentrates.)
Asuka: (radio) Hey.. I can.. feel it - its like.. pushing back at me.
Maya: (radio) Shinji, stop now. When you expand your field, don't try to push things away. Just expand, and if you can try and move it outwards without the 'push'.
Shinji: Alright.. I'll try.
(The boy attempts the exercise again. Suddenly, he remembers something..
-(flashback)-Shinji: You've got your own AT field!?
-(flashback)-Unit 01 drives it's progressive knife towards the heart of the target, only to feel the wall of resistance that emanates from the 17th angel. It is Kaworu, the human who was not, the Angel called Tabris.
-(flashback)-Kaworu: Yes; at least that is what you Lillim call this thing. This is the Light of my Soul; a sacred territory in which no one may intrude!
-(flashback)-Kaworu: Aren't you Lillim even aware yet that your so-called AT field is merely that wall that encloses every mind that exists?
-(flashback)-Shinji: (screaming) I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!!!
Shinji: (to himself) Light of the Soul.. Is this it?
(The pilot takes a deep breath and, on intuition, slowly closes his eyes. He exhales slowly, concentrating on the task before him, the phase space of his unit's AT field reaching the field projected by Asuka once more. This time, however, instead of pressure, the fields seem to merge, the air blurring and darknening as they overlap..)
Maya: (radio) Looking good... Asuka, do you feel anything?
Asuka: (radio) Not exactly.. it's kind of weird.
Maya: (radio) What do you mean?
Asuka: (radio) Uh.. It's like.. I just know he's there. Oh, this is so embarrassing!
Maya: (radio) Just what is it?
Asuka: (radio) Just remember I didn't say this first! It.. (mumbles something)
Maya: (radio) What Asuka? I didn't catch your last transmission..
Asuka: (shouting over the radio) I said it smells like Shinji!
(Shinji's eyes widen and his field abruptly collapses. He turns to stare at the picture of Asuka in his heads-up-display.)
Asuka: (radio - angry) Are you happy now?
Misato: (radio) It seems like every time they pick up each other's AT field, they recognise it by smell.
Maya: (radio) Actually, Major, that's not really surprising. Psychologically, the sense of smell is often associated with memory. In this case, the Eva's senses register the field and it translates -
Asuka: (radio) Alright already! Can we get on with the test now?
Maya: (radio) Right. Shinji, I want you to bring out your AT field again.
Asuka: (radio) And keep that thing away from me; you stink, Shinji..
Misato: (radio - disapprovingly) Asuka..
Maya: Shinji, bring out your field. This time, try and sweep it in front of you. Like a.. like a spotlight.
(The pilot closes his eyes a second time, slowing his breathing as he attempts to project his AT field once more. The affect is easily visible, the air distorting in front of him in a widening cone.)
Shinji: (exhaling slowly) Like.. this..?
Maya: (radio) Whoa.. yeah. (excited) Great, that's great!
Asuka: (radio - sulking) Show off.
Maya: (radio) Shinji; do you feel anything?
Shinji: No, nothing.. wait! There seems to be something. It's ..strange. Like.. lots of different smells. They're all really faint. I can't really describe it any other way.
Maya: (radio) Can you recognise any?
Shinji: (thoughtfully) .. No.. I'm sorry, I can't. I don't understand; what am I doing?
Maya: (radio) Your AT field is now spread over a large area of the Geo-Front complex. I.. I'm going to have to correlate these results, but you've done very well.
Misato: (radio) Shinji, I want you to bring your AT field back to it's ordinary shape, okay?
Shinji: ..Sure. (He relaxes, letting out his breath in a rush.)
Maya: (radio) Asuka, now it's your turn. Expand your AT field.
Asuka: (radio) Right.
(There is a pause, in which Shinji relaxes back in his plug suit. He raises a hand to his jaw and is suprised to find it locked in tension. Wriggling with it experimentally, it frees with a slight pop just as he becomes aware of a gentle push against his Evangelion's AT field.)
Misato: (radio) There, she did it.
Asuka: (radio) Of course I did it.
Maya: (radio) Asuka? Try to expand your field, but don't shove at Unit One. Just expand the field.
(There is another moment of silence.)
Maya: (radio) Asuka?
Asuka: (radio) I'm doing it! Gimme a minute!
(Shinji waits, watching the small image of Asuka in his display as her face contorts with effort. The pressure on the boy's field increases.)
Asuka: (thinking) You can do it, Asuka.
(The girl continues her efforts, straining to make the AT field warp to her will.)
Asuka: (Thinking) Come on, Shinji did this easily.. What's wrong with me?
(Suddenly, a sharp smell permeates the entry plug. The LCL takes on a salty taste and the liquid seems thicken..)
Shinji: (radio - alarmed) What was that?
Maya: (radio) Asuka! Don't push at him! Relax!
Asuka: Shut up! I'm doing it!
(The smell grows stronger, a coppery scent seeming to soak the fluid. It is the smell of blood.)
Maya: (radio) Asuka! Slow down!
Asuka: I can do it! I'm okay!
(Suddenly, there is a flash of light as the AT fields of the two Evangelions join. For a fraction of a second the fields move in phase with one another, the wave form amplified instead of negated.. reality twists, buckles and shears as the brief concentration is broken. The familiar hexagonal pattern hardens in the air between them as both pilots are thrown back by the sudden, jarring impact of the AT fields rejecting each other..)
Maya: (radio) What the ..!
(Asuka is suddenly rocked by a sensation - not just smell, or sight, but something far greater, something much more encompassing. In the instant of unity, something flows across the boundary between the pilots and slams into Asuka's mind. In that instant, she sees something.. on the edge of her senses.. tangible in her mind's-eye.. something which, while totally ordinary, pulls from her a shriek of fright..
It is a simple aluminium watering can.)
Maya: Something's wrong with Asuka! Her synch ratio is dropping! She's bottomed out!
Hyuga: Her vitals are shifting.. She's lost consciousness!
(Misato stares up at the image of the Evas on the screen in Central Dogma. Unit 01 is staggering back, one giant hand raised to shield it's armoured face.)
Misato: Cut the power to Unit Two. Shinji, help her!
(On the screen, the giant form of Evangelion Unit 01 recovers and moves quickly to the side of Unit 02 as the red form slumps over, it's pilot unconcious. For a silent moment Unit 01 holds the other Eva upright; then it's horned visage slowly raises.)
Shinji: (radio - slowly) What.. was that?
(Evening: the apartment of Misato Katsuragi. The journey home for the two pilots was quick and, for the most part, conducted in silence. Shinji has taken to his room and it is here that we find the young pilot, curled on his bed, facing the wall, listening to the ever present walkman.)
Shinji: (thinking) I know she could 'smell' me when I extended my AT field.
Shinji: (thinking) But when she tried, I didn't smell her..
Shinji: (thinking) .. no matter how hard she tried..
Shinji: (thinking) ..I only smelt blood.
(His gaze falls to his hand, loosely clutched around the cassette walkman. Tentatively he raises the hand to his face and gives it a sniff..)
Shinji: It smells.. normal..
(Abruptly, the door to Shinji's room slides on its track, revealing the figure of Asuka Langley Soryu. Shinji, staring at the wall, notices the silhouette which appears above him; he slowly rolls over, his hand still raised to his face..)
Asuka: Shinji.. do you.. what are you doing?
Shinji: (suddenly embarrased) Uh.. nothing. (He drops his hand, rolling onto his side again, facing the wall.)
Asuka: Hey! Don't you ignore me, mister!
Shinji: .. wha..?
Asuka: (insulted) You're always listening to that stupid music, anyway!
(Abruptly, Shinji rolls over once more to face her, pulling the earplugs from his ears.)
Shinji: Well... what is it?
(Asuka is suddenly nervous; faced with an attentive Shinji, it seems she is out of her depth.)
Asuka: I wanted.. to.. talk...
Shinji: (sitting up on his futon) Okay.. uh.. I guess... um.. come in.
(Nervously, the second child enters the room, slowly sliding the door on its track to close behind her. She looks this way and that, searching for a seat, and after a moment of deliberation settles to her knees on the floor.
Trying to hide her unease, Asuka begins with a mischevious question.)
Asuka: So, what were you doing when I opened the door?
Asuka: (grinning wickedly)
Shinji: .. I..
Shinji: .. I was trying to.. smell.. (trailing off).. the LCL from.. this afternoon..
Asuka: (pauses) That was wierd. In the test.. it was like I could.. well..
Asuka: (suddenly red faced and angry) Oh shut up!
(The second child sighs, the moment of embarrassed anger fading.)
Asuka: No.. its not that. It was.. really hard for me to do.. I don't know if.. I'm not sure if I should..
Shinji: Should what?
Asuka: Eva. (looking down) I'm not sure if I should pilot EVA again.
Maya: We proceeded with the first experiment today, as ordered.
(It is the wide, dark office of Gendo Ikari, located in the Geo-Front pyramid. The Commander himself is seated at his desk, his hands folded before his face, his eyes hidden by his glasses. Opposite from him sits Maya Ibuki, holding a report folder on her lap. Professor Fuyutsuki, NERV's vice-commander, stands against the long white blade of the office window.)
Fuyutsuki: And the results?
Maya: Unit One successfully projected it's field over an area of four hundred square metres, at a distance of three kilometres. However, the pilot was unable to gain detailed data from the sweep.
Maya: Additionally, the pilot of Unit Two was able to identify the pilot of Unit One by his AT presence.
Fuyutsuki: As we suspected - each AT field is unique in some subtle way. But the report in front of me reads that there were difficulties encountered in the process.
Maya: Yes sir. So far only the pilot of Unit One has been able to display any of the capacities suggested in the original hypothesis. The pilot of Unit Two is still experiencing difficulties in manipulating her Eva's AT field, but I believe that this will not hamper the experiments once her synch ratio restores itself.
Gendo: Or when repairs on Unit Zero are completed.
Maya: .. Yes Sir. Rei's.. unique background may allow her to manipulate her AT field with greater success; this has already been displayed through the use of the EV.N complement.
Maya: (pausing) However, there was a moment when the pilot of Unit Two did accomplish some level of contact with Unit One.. the contact was only maintained for a fraction of a second, but it does provide some hope that the greater goals outlined in the project could be achieved in time.
Fuyutsuki: Only a "moment", Lieutenant?
Maya: Unfortunately, yes - Asuka.. the pilot of Unit Two suffered a blackout which we are presently attributing to her recent difficulties with Project E. It is my hope that in time such.. complications can be overcome with sufficient time and practice.
Gendo: Still, the tests today go some way to validating the hypothesis. We are now certain that AT fields are far more than a simple barrier from attack.
Fuyutsuki: Light of the soul, indeed.
Gendo: And one of our main interests should be in seeing whether the EV.N complement can facilitate better.. results. I understand that it was not involved in the earlier synchronization test. Why was this so?
Maya: (slowly) The complement displayed signs of illness that morning. I felt that he would not produce a viable test result, and so excluded him from the activity.
Fuyutsuki: Where is it now?
Maya: (thinking) It.
Maya: Tenkei has taken temporary residence at my apartment. To minimise the risk of losing the unit, I have had the premises put under continual observation by NERV security.
Gendo: I am well aware of that. And Rei?
Gendo: The report detailed that she lost consiousness during the synchronisation test.
Maya: Yes sir.. she fell asleep. Most likely, she hasn't been getting the proper amounts of rest recently.. I don't know why. To be safe, I've ordered a medical examination - Rei is presently in the infirmary.
Fuyutsuki: Very good. You are dismissed.
(Maya stands, closing the folder, and heads for the door. Her footsteps fade into the distance, and the door closes quietly.)
Fuyutsuki: A diagnosis of the complement's condition is, of course, impossible - you understand this as well as I, Ikari.
Gendo: Our doctors would prove somewhat futile in this instance.
(There is only the briefest of silence between the two men, before Fuyutsuki voices a suspicion that was never in doubt.)
Fuyutsuki: You, obviously, have an opinion.
Gendo: We both know that no creature born so pure of Adam could fall prey to a mere human illness. The complement may be being affected by an external source.
Gendo: No. When the old men throw their weight around, they usually do so using more dramatic means. If SEELE is behind this, it is indirectly.
Fuyutsuki: Indirectly. You mean - another Angel.
Gendo: We must remain vigilant. Ensure that the repairs on Unit Zero be completed with all possible speed.
(Fuyutsuki nods shortly.)
Fuyutsuki: But of course, the condition of the complement could be attributed to simple depression, or even insomnia.. Historically, contact with the Evangelions have often resulted in these conditions - among other, more serious problems. Need I remind you of Doctor Soryu at the branch in Germany?
Gendo: No. But only fools do not proceed without preparation. If NERV represents anything, it is humankind's capacity to foresee diasaster.
(There is a second, longer pause before Gendo voices another, quite different thought on the matter..)
Gendo: There is, of course, one final concern regarding the condition of the EV.N complement..
Fuyutsuki: Another cause for its illness?
Gendo: (smirking) It may not be ill. Ibuki may simply have become.. unreliable.
(Fuyutsuki's tone drops, concern showing clearly at the possibility outlined by his Commander.)
Fuyutsuki: Do you think this could have an impact on the greater purpose of the experiments?
Gendo: The complement's... willingness.. to participate is irrelevant if it is not the only feasable combination.
(Meanwhile, in Misato Katsuragi's apartment, Shinji and Asuka sit side by side in the third child's room. They have their backs to the wall, the boy with his walkman held uncertainly in his hands, the girl staring unfocused at the opposite wall.)
Asuka: Do you know how long I've been training for Eva?
Shinji: (quietly) I'm not sure.. at least as long as me, I guess..
Asuka: Almost as long as I can remember. I knew I was the second child when I was very young - I spent so long in synch tests, learning about Eva, and everything..
Shinji: .. your parents must have been.. very proud of you.
(His attempt at reconciliation is met by a coarse laugh.)
Asuka: Yeah.. I guess they were..
(There is a brief silence; the boy unsure how to follow up his remark, the girl continuing to gaze at the opposite wall of the room. Her hand slowly tenses on the bed, taking a fistful of sheets as she raises her voice in sudden fury..)
Asuka: (shouting) And what has it done for me? Nothing! Within a few months of turning up at NERV I get surpassed by you, Wonder Girl, and now even that jerk Lyn! What's the point of even trying?
Shinji: .. Well.. keeping the Earth safe, I thought.
Asuka: But I can't do anything! Even expanding my AT field is difficult now! You saw how much I tried.. I had to do it, or they would have laughed at me! Damn it, I can't do anything right!
Shinji: Asuka.. you shouldn't feel like that.. They wouldn't laugh at you..
Asuka: (quiet - angry) And what the hell would you know, Ikari?
Shinji: They wouldn't - they're not like that.
Asuka: Not to you, Shinji! You're the glorious pilot of Unit One! You never had to prove anything! They had to make you a pilot, but I don't have that! I have to prove myself!
Asuka: (bitterly) And now I've become expendable.
(Asuka bites of the end of the word in disgust - the extent of her helpless rage at her own failure becomes apparent to Shinji, who is listening with growing concern.)
Shinji: But not to to Misato..and not to Lyn, or the others.. not to the others.
Shinji: They aren't like that, Asuka.
(Asuka looks at the floor between her feet.)
Asuka: And what about you?
Shinji: What do you mean?
(But Asuka is not yet willing to express her real question.)
Asuka: Would you want a useless pilot fighting next to you?
Shinji: (hesitating) Asuka, you're not useless..
Asuka: (shouting) Why the hell not? Lyn's synch is higher that mine! That bastard is going to pilot my Unit Two and I can't even expand my field! I am useless!
Shinji: (uncertain) Kaji.. He once told me something..
Asuka: (furious) What, Shinji? What did he tell you that made the fabulous Shinji Ikari suddenly understand the fundamental workings of everything? What could you possibly say that could make me anything but a failure?
(Shinji cannot find the words in the face of Asuka's anger. After a moment of fierce glaring, her expression turns aloof.)
Asuka: Well, I think that's it, then.
Shinji: What's it then?
Asuka: I guess, if you can't tell me..
Asuka: (almost pleading) Don't you even want me to be an Eva pilot?
(The young man's gaze suddenly waxes from uncertainty to resolve.)
Shinji: Actually, I do! I thought that by now you'd have figured THAT out by now! I mean -
Asuka: (interrupting) Oh, so now you're saying that I'm stupid?
Shinji: No! I.. I just was saying that I want -
Asuka: (interrupting) No need, Shinji. I know what sad little boys like you want. (she stands up) You're dismissed, Shinji Ikari. I don't want to talk to you any more.
Shinji: .. But this is my room.
(She storms out of the boy's room, slamming the door behind her. The panel bangs against the wall as it slides into place violently.)
Shinji: (softly) I thought you came in to talk..
(It is the NERV infirmary, buried deep in the Geo-Front. Rei Ayanami sits on a hospital bed, head bowed, her crimson eyes focused on a point on the floor. Maya watches her from the doorway.)
Rei: Yes Lieutenant?
Maya: How much rest have you been getting recently?
Rei: (quietly) I haven't been sleeping.
Maya: Why not?
Maya: Rei, tell me why not.
Maya: You know that as an Eva pilot you have a responsibility to remain in good health.
(As the words leave her lips, Maya realises just how much like Ritsuko Akagi she sounds. Almost a year ago Maya had begun to drift away from her former mentor, repelled by the scientific detachment and cold rationality that Doctor Akagi would use when dealing with human lives. In a sudden burst of anger, her fists clench and she shakes her head and abruptly tries another approach.)
Maya: The complement?
(The question hangs in the air. At length Rei looks up, staring directly into Maya's eyes.)
Rei: His name is.. Tenkei.
(With a sudden insight, Maya realises that by accident her choice of words have struck to the core of the girl's troubles. The Lieutenant smiles at Rei's correction and extends her hand to the first child.)
Maya: Come on Rei. There's something I need to show you.
(Back at Misato's apartment, Shinji lies on what passes for his bed. His face stares towards the other side of his small room, where a curved shape rests, cloaked in a sheet. It is his cello. The boy simply looks at it for a moment, feeling the guilt of neglecting it build up in him slowly. Finally, he stands.)
Shinji: .. Alright.
(Shinji swings his legs off the futon and stands. Padding over to the instrument, he pulls the sheet off and kneels. After a moment's rummaging, he sits on the floor, the cello's bow in one hand and a lump of resin in the other.
He slides the resin over the threads of the bow.)
(The action causes a soft rasp. He repeats the motion again. And again. Then he stops, realising how futile his efforts seem.)
Shinji: Oh, forget it. I may have been good once...
(The boy dumps the bow and resin, and slowly makes his way to his bed, tumbling to the sheets and covering his head with the pillow.)
Maya: You can sleep on the way if you like.
Rei: No thank you, Lieutenant.
(Rei rides in the passenger seat of Maya's car, recently bought by the young technician. Maya glances at her passenger again. The dim light in the car fails to reveal the weary circles under the girl's eyes, or the tired hang of her head; but Ibuki already knows that they are there.)
Maya: Are you sure? I'd wake you once we reach my apartment.
(Rei doesn't answer. She merely stares out the window of the car at the passing darkness. The street lamps cast shifting shadows on the girl's pale features.)
Rei: Why are you trying to make me sleep?
Maya: You need your rest.
Rei: It bothers you?
Maya: Yes - I do care about your health, Rei.
Maya: Why? (she laughs softly) There doesn't need to be a why. It's called compassion.
Rei: .. compassion..
(After a few minutes journey, the car reaches Maya's apartment block. They get out of the vehicle and head up to young woman's home.)
Maya: Well, here we are.
(Rei looks at the door before them.)
Rei: Why have you brought me here?
(Maya wordlessly unlocks the door. The panel slides open and the two walk through.
The lights inside are on.)
Maya: I think.. (she looks around, frowning. Finally she smiles and points.) In the bedroom, over there.
(The girl walks over to the panel door uncertainly. She looks back at Maya for a moment.)
Maya: We might not have much time. Go on. Be careful - the lights are out in there.
(Rei slides the door open wordlessly. For a long moment, she stands in the doorway, silently transfixed by what only she can see in the darkened room. Then, quietly, she steps over the threshold, slowly sliding the panel shut behind her.)
(The young technician wraps her arms around herself and suddenly finds the air in the apartment chilly. More out of a need to be busy than anything else, she rummages around in the kitchen and makes herself a cup of coffee which serves to warm her hands for a short while.)
Maya: (to herself) .. I hope I've done the right thing..
(After ten minutes of nerve racking silence, Maya finally pulls herself from the kitchen, laying aside the untouched cup and moves to the bedroom door. The room beyond is dimly lit, but there enough is illuminated to show Rei's slim form curled up on the bed. Her eyes are closed, but tear tracks mark her cheeks, shining even in the dim light. The young girl's chest rises and falls in time with her slow, deep breaths - she has finally, irrevocably succumbed to sleep.
In her arms lies the small shape of Tenkei. He is snuggled into the curve of her body, cradled comfortably in her arms. The boy has not yet fallen asleep, but instead watches from the bed, his yellow eyes following on the silhouette of Maya.
Serenely, the small child smiles with total happiness.)
Tenkei: .. Thank you..
Tenkei: .. for mama.
(Light. White light. Flickering and blazing, flowing like water.
Water pouring in an expanding circle of light. The liquid flows.. it drips, ripples and pours..
..from an aluminium watering can.
The light fades. The can hangs at a bizarre angle, allowing the water to pour from the peppered bulb of it's nozzle.
A hand grips the can. The hand of a man.
The man stands in a small pool of white light, his tall frame relaxed as he holds the watering can over a small garden of .. melons. He is smiling, his eyes friendly as he looks at Asuka. The girl recognises the man's familiar features and cannot hide her shock.)
Asuka: Kaji? What are you doing here?
Kaji: That's my line! What are you doing here?
(It is Ryoji Kaji, the NERV operative turned spy, now standing only a few metres away. Asuka had first met him at the NERV branch in Germany, and had almost immediately fallen victim to a crush on him. Since then, Asuka had constantly tried to gain his attention, impress him with her piloting, make him fall in love with her.. it never seemed to work. He had always seen her as a child.)
Asuka: I.. I decided never to pilot an Eva again.. Since I decided that..
Kaji: (slight disapointment) Oh really? .. well, to answer your question, since my 'other job' became public knowledge, I'm off the combat roster. So here I am, sprinkling..
Asuka: At a time like this?
Kaji: What better time? Although I'd rather be between Misato's melons, this is a place that I'd like to be when I die.
Asuka: (alarmed) Die?
(The ground shifts under them, but there is no sound, no light, no burning death rained down upon them. It is as if an aura of calm has fallen over this most surreal of settings.)
Kaji: That's right. It is said that if an Angel ever comes into contact with Adam, who lies sleeping beneath this very ground, all humanity will be eradicated in the Third Impact. The only thing that can stop this is the one thing that has power equal to an Angel's.
(Asuka stares at her feet for a long moment. Her bare feet seem to glow in the unearthly light that surrounds her. After a moment the girl raises her head, gazing once more at the face of the man long dead and once loved as he speaks once more, his words eerily familiar; yet at the same time not.)
Kaji: All I can do is stand here and water. But you; you have something that you can do, that only you can do. No one is forcing you; think for yourself and make that decision by yourself.
Kaji: Think about what you have to do now.
Kaji: Think about no longer having any regrets.
(Asuka stares at the man for a long moment, and then turns from him, for the first time really staring into the darkness beyond. Slowly the world fades into view, revealing a devasted land.
The sky is choked in smoke-clouds. A gaping hole has shattered the ceiling of the cavern, and light - natural sunlight - streams into the Geo-Front.
The NERV pyramid has been struck down - it's pinnacle blasted to fragments by some tremendous power. Far away, in front of Asuka, the air is still burning from the heat of an N2 explosion, the ceiling of the underground cavity blackened by the nuclear fire. The Geo-Front has been penetrated - it has nearly been destroyed.
Asuka looks to her left, above the treeline, and sees the massive shape of an Evangelion. It's powerful legs frozen in full sprint, it's head and arms gone, torn away from it's body. Instead, blue blood congeals in thick rivulets on it's shattered plating.
Asuka is transfixed by the image for a long time; her eyes following the huge rents in the armor and the myriad trails of blood.. until at last, with a choking gasp, she realises that the shattered behemoth before her is the remenants of Evangelion Unit 02... Her very own.)
(Her eyes are wide as she stares at the unseen ceiling that looms above.)
(Her clothes are damp with perspiration. After an uncomfortable moment, she pulls herself up. Kneeling over the unseeable piles of clothing that surrounds her bed, she rummages about in the pitch black of the room. Finally, her shaking hands encounter familiar fabric; a spare shirt.
She rises on trembling legs, stepping away from the bed. Her toes come into jolting contact with something hard on the floor.)
Asuka: Sheiss! (quieter) Oh damn.
Asuka slowly makes her way across the room, hand outstretched, until she finds a wall. Sliding her fingers along it, she guides herself to the door. Once through, more familiar instincts lead the way to the washroom and laundy pile.
After changing into the cleaner clothes and leaving the other garments in the pile, she begins the slow trek back to her room.)
Shinji: (softly) Asuka?
(Asuka almost gasps as the boy's voice comes from a spot barely three feet in front of her.)
Asuka: Shinji? (she gropes about in the dark) Shinji?
(Her fingers find something soft and pliable. She grips it in sudden panic.)
Shinji: (muffled) mmm!
Asuka: (relaxing her grip) Quiet, stupid!
Shinji: (sotto voice) Sorry! .. What are you doing up?
Asuka: (sotto voice) .. What am I doing up? What are you doing up?
Asuka: (sotto voice) Well?
Shinji: (sotto voice) Well, you woke me.
Asuka: (sotto voice) Oh.
(The silence grows awkward, the tension becoming a solid thing. Asuka becomes aware of the sound of Shinji's breathing. There is no other sound, and no light to reveal the boy's expression.)
Asuka: (sotto voice) Sorry.
Shinji: (sotto voice) Are you Ok?
Asuka: (sotto voice) Just go back to bed, Shinji.
Asuka: (sotto voice) We don't want to be late for tomorrow's tests..
Shinji: (sotto voice) That's.. uh.. yeah. You're right.
Asuka: Of course I'm right! Go to bed, stupid!
(In a flash of perception, it seems Asuka can sense Shinji's smile in the darkness.)
Asuka: What's so funny now?
Shinji: I'm sorry, I was just thinking that it was good that things were getting back to normal..
(Shinji lets out a quiet chuckle.)
Shinji: (chuckling) Yeah?
Asuka: (level voice) If you don't shut up, I'm going to have to hurt you.
Shinji: (now laughing) Yes Ma'am!
Asuka: Shinji, shut up or you'll wake up Misato!
Shinji: (holding back laughter) I'm sorry!
(His apology, muffled by his hands over his mouth, causes Asuka to smile in the darkness as Shinji breaks out in another round of laughter.)
Asuka: (grabbing Shinji, grinning) Shut your face, you dork! Be quiet!
Shinji: Okay! (takes a breath) Okay, I'm fine.
Asuka: (shaking Shinji slightly) You're fine?
Shinji: I'm fine.
Asuka: You're not going to laugh?
(Asuka holds the boy by the upper arms for a silent moment.
The moment stretches out.
Then they both begin to giggle, their heads hanging down.)
Misato: Am I interupting you two?
Shinji & Asuka: (screaming) Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!
(The lights snap on suddenly, and the two teenagers cringe in the painful brightness.)
Shinji: Turn it off, Misato!
Misato: Why? Since we're all awake already, we might as well be able to see what we run into.
(After a few seconds of blindness, vision returns to the children. Misato, in her usual ragged tank-top and shorts, is standing in the doorway to her room, her hand still poised above the light switch.)
Misato: What I can't understand is what you find so fascinating about each other that forces you two to meet in the middle of the night.
Asuka: (raising voice) Don't blame me, Misato! (She points at Shinji) It was this chortling idiot that woke you up!
Shinji: Me? What about your swearing? Stumbling down the hall in the middle of the night.. I bet you just had a bad dream or something!
Asuka: I don't have to listen to this from you, Shinji Ikari!
Shinji: (raising voice) Why's that? You always run away when we have something to fight about, Asuka!
Asuka: (shouting) I do not!
Shinji: (shouting) You do so! You just shout something a bit louder and then huff off!
Asuka: (screaming) I do not 'huff'!
(Misato switches off the light. There is a moment of silence.)
Asuka: (sweet tone) Misato?
Misato: Mmm hmm?
Asuka: Shinji and I were having an important conversation. You could be just wonderful and switch that light back on. Please?
Misato: .. hmm.. no.
Asuka: Don't worry then, I'll do it myself!
(Asuka's hand darts out once more.)
Shinji: .. Ow! Hey! Thats my..
Asuka: (sarcastic) Oh I'm so sorry, Shinji! I must have mistaken your face for a lightswitch!
Shinji: You little bi -
(There is the sound of a struggle in the darkness, puncuated by curses in Japanese and German. After a moment, Misato switches the light back on.)
Asuka: Misato! Switch it off - I'm winning!
Shinji: (grunting) ughnn... you... cheated..!
(Misato looks at the two children, lying on the floor in a sprawl of limbs, their combat revealed in the sudden light. Asuka has a deathgrip on two large clumps of her opponent's hair and is enthralled in the joy of wrestling Shinji to the floor. In return, Shinji's hands are struggling for purchase, trying madly to defend himself.)
Asuka: (grinning wickedly) You expect me to give you a chance, Ikari?
(With the flick of a finger, the lights switch off once more and Misato turns with a yawn back to her room. Behind her, the darkened hallway is filled once more with the grunts of impetuous combat..)
Misato: Well.. g'night.
Misato: (thinking) You were right, Shinji.. Things are getting back to normal.
To Be Continued ...