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Neon Genesis Evangelion

EVA-R Prime Extension

(c) Alex Voutsis

Writer's Notes:

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 - 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.

The other fan fictions that are a part of this storyline are

Light of the Soul/Contact

Light of the Heart/At Last, a Reason

The Runaway

Stand By Me

Another's Touch

Thanks for Caring

House of Cards

In the Shadows

A Wish for Dreamless Sleep

Pandora's Box

This fan-fiction is intended to continue the story begun in the above episodes.

Second Child

The events in this story follow on directly from Episode 10, Pandora's Box.

This episode runs concurrently with Progeny.

(A linked wire fence forms the border..

The border between what? A telling question. The best answer one could give would be that it forms the border between "here" and "there". "Here" is hardly a large place - from one fence, the other is easily seen, and reached in not too many strides.

It is large enough to hold what they have created - and that is all.

Beyond the linked wire fence lies the "there". It could be a blue sky - or perhaps a sunny beach - or maybe a grassy field. It could be stars against darkness. It might even be the earthen depths that surround the Geo-Front, or the sea of unprocessed LCL in Terminal Dogma. For all intents and purposes, it does not exist - since it is on the other side of the wire.

It is what lies inside the fence that is important. It is a haven, a refuge - a place that has been fashioned to protect them. A final bastion of defense, the last handhold to which one clings with fanatical desperation, fighting against the abyss - it is the final sanctuary in which Shinji Ikari and Asuka Langley Sohryu have taken refuge. This is a place they have created to save them from the end - their own Instrumentality.

But what is Instrumentality? Is it.. a place? An experience? Maybe a thought, a feeling. Neither of the two present could say. Perhaps Instrumentality, to them, was simply "what was happening".. since, for all appearances, at least one of the pair is caught up in a different question..)








Shinji: Answer?

(The Third Child shifts towards the direction of the voice -

- and everything changes.

What was but a moment ago a chain linked fence is now a gritty plate of transparent plastic. Shinji stares through his own reflection at the lights of the city as they rush past..)

Asuka: ..

(.. and tries to ignore Asuka Langley Sohryu, the Second Child, seated beside his reflection in the glass window of this train car.)

Asuka: ..

Shinji: ..

Asuka: ..

(The air conditioning and the distant clunk as the train moves over breaks in the track are the only sounds reaching Shinji's ears. They are familiar - it is a trip he had taken many times, a place where he could find refuge. To him, this is a defense - an escape.. but it was always a trip he took alone. This time he is not alone.

But he is safe - here, in this construct, he is protected.

These places hold the children to what they are. After their minds have splintered, after their senses surrendered under the assault of the Contact, after their bodies had been eaten away, this place still remains. It is a world of their creation, the world that has formed her as surely she formed it.

It is their memories, their experiences. Places of joy, places of pain. Their world, their selves, their AT fields.

This cabin is otherwise empty. People would not make a difference; normally Shinji would remain silent throughout his travels, but this time - or perhaps the place - or maybe the presence of the girl beside him.. this time the Second Child realises that he cannot run away - that he must answer.)

Shinji: ... How?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: What do you want me to say?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: What do you want me to tell you?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: What do you want to hear?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: ..

Asuka: ..

(Eventually the girl's silence begins to wear on the Third Child - provoking a new question..)

Shinji: Do you want me to be here?

(A pair of blue eyes regard him calmly - now her silence speaks volumes.)

Shinji: Can I stay?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: (exasperated) Why aren't you answering me..

(And suddenly - she speaks, the same exasperation in her tone, the same look of frustrated anger on her face. Shinji stand silent next to her, his eyes on her face, his mouth closed in silence - silence that he had held throughout her questions. Questions that he had not responded to as surely as she had not responded to his.)

Asuka: (continuing) .. you idiot?

Shinji: ..

Asuka: You don't understand, do you?

(The Second Child turns to look at the boy beside her -

- and everything changes.

This place - Misato Katsuragi's apartment - is familiar. It was their home. This is a place they both know, a part of their collective world.

A moment ago it was the interior of a train; now it is the balcony of their guardian's apartment. This balcony, a place that Asuka remembers well. This place.. is not Misato's apartment.

But she is safe - here, in this construct, he is protected.

These places hold the children to what they are. After their minds have splintered, after their senses surrendered under the assault of the Contact, after their bodies had been eaten away, this place still remains. It is a world of their creation, the world that has formed her as surely she formed it.

It is their memories, their experiences. Places of joy, places of pain. Their world, their selves, their AT fields.

Shinji's presence fades, drifting backwards from the scene, only free to watch.. and discover.)

Asuka: ..

(The Second Child leans her elbows on the railing casually. This place is familiar; a memory rises in her mind, a memory she is drawn to..

Rainfall - a distant thing, only weakly reaching the ground in tiny stinging darts. The girl lowers her face, peering through the rain to the sidewalk below - replaying the memory unknowingly for her audience.

Asuka looked forlornly to see where he has gone - where Shinji had gone.)

Asuka: ..

(Shinji had left to find Rei - to save her? He hadn't even told her! He had told Kensuke - he had needed his friend's knowledge of camping and hiking - but beyond that need.. he was uncaring, consumed only by his impromptu quest.

A quest - for Rei. That had hurt. It had hurt so much that she had to chase him down and pay him back for it.)

Asuka: (grinning) ..

(Then - there is something else. The girl remembers the feeling more precisely... no, it was certainty - a certainty that she had to follow. Like.. an order.. as if someone made the decision for her. Or perhaps she came to it and then.. something. It was confusing.

The Contact had been confusing.. at first.. almost like a distant voice, calling - a voice you can't quite recognise, and yet, so tantalizingly familiar..

If only that call had been..)

Shinji: What am I supposed to see?

(The brief illusion collapses, the shared memory disolving.)

Shinji: What are you trying to tell me?

(Asuka turns on the boy, her eyes accusing, her fists clenched. Her voice breaks as she shouts.)

Asuka: Why can't you get it? Do you hate me this much?

(Shinji slams a hand down on the railing in frustration, turning away from the girl.)

Shinji: Why won't you say anything?


(This is Shinji's room.

This is something to be considered. If Misato Katsuragi were to look into the bedroom of the Third Child, she would not see Shinji Ikari resting on his side, half-curled on the mattress - as much as she might want to.

But that is where he is. Shinji is in his room, lying on his bed. Of course, this is his world.

The bed is neatly made, reflecting its occupant; Shinji is in his customary shirt and a pair of slacks. His walkman - so often reflecting the mood of its owner - now lies curled up, tucked away on the bedside table awaiting its next use.

And so it goes for Shinji Ikari in this strange place. When he arrived, he could not say - it seems to him that some time has passed since the fruitless, one sided conversation with Asuka. The frustration of that moment is long gone. Now, he feels no urgency - time will not rush its pace here.

After all, the Third Child thinks to himself, its not that bad here.

Is it?

She forms in this world, fading in from insubstntiality. Standing behind the young man, Asuka has but a second before her appearance is noticed..)

Shinji: Asuka.. is that you?

(The Second Child gazes down at the young man as he lies on his mattress. When she speaks, the words are in a familiar voice, yet are of a depth far beyond a teenage level..)

Asuka: ..this is me.. as I exist in your mind.

(Strangely enough - or perhaps not - Shinji's answer, when it comes, mirrors hers in understanding of this place.)

Shinji: (shaking his head) I don't want that.

Asuka: That is all anyone can know of me.

Shinji: I don't want it to be this way.

Asuka: Like you, I am limited by knowning only the you that exists in my mind.

Shinji: But that means I'll never see the real you.

(Her voice seems to darken, becoming cold.)

Asuka: No one can. Nobody can understand you - no one can ever understand you!

(Asuka's words hit home - the Third Child shuffles backwards slightly on the bed, apprehensive of the cynical edge to her words.)

Shinji: (defensively) I don't want that! That's a lie!

Asuka: (brutally) And you'll never be able to understand me! No matter how how hard you try, or how long -

Shinji: But I want to understand you!

It doesn't have to be that way.

(It intrudes upon both their minds - a voice, a memory, a reality.

Does it have to be this way?

It has always been this way.



There was a time - )

Shinji: ..

(Asuka vanishes.

Not true - the Asuka that exists here, the Asuka created by Shinji's mind, vanishes.

And Asuka replaces her.)

Asuka: Shinji!

(The voice stabs into his mind like a knife, causing the boy to buckle, mouth open in pain. The room around them is blasted away with the rest of this temporary world he created disappears under the onslaught of this reality.)

This is real.

(They embrace - the girl rushing forward to catch the boy as he begins to fall to his knees - and the pain ceases as she holds him, his knees trembling, cradled against her.

The barriers, crashing down, can no longer keep the two minds apart. For a moment the two youths come together and worry, pain, lonliness, fear - all are blown away.

Shinji's world, only a moment before formed of the reflections of the things in what could be called the real world, is replaced by a single world, a single reality. And in this new world is only himself, Shinji Ikari, and her, Asuka Langley Sohryu.

And then..

.. after a blindingly brilliant moment when he knew, when they were one..

.. nothing.

No Shinji Ikari. No Asuka Langley Sohryu. There is no more need for such vessels. These temporary constructions, flesh and blood, personified with layers of memory and choice and self-deception, have no function when the minds have melted together, filling and complementing each other. There is no more fear, and no more pain - there is nothing that can feel fear or pain any more.

Nothing. Space. Emptyness. Vacancy.

Shinji Ikari's bed is empty. Misato Katsuragi might look in on it from time to time, just as she might check the room of her other ward, Asuka. But the two that lived there, two children who made many subtle and not-so subtle changes to the city of Tokyo-3... are gone.)

Shinji: ..

Asuka: ..

Shinji: Is that what happened to us?

Asuka: We just.. vanished?

You are remembered.

Shinji: But we don't exist anymore.

Asuka: Do we really.. need to?

(Shinji falls silent, contemplating the meaning behind Asuka's question - apparently rhetorical, as the girl qualifies her comment a moment later..)

Shinji: ..

Asuka: If we're never going to understand eachother.. if there is always going to be a barrier.. out there..

Why live?

(And suddenly this is Shinji's room again.

The familiar colors and lights fall over the familiar matress, the familiar floor. This is Shinji's world again - and a now familiar Asuka stands by the bedside, watching him as he speaks.)

Shinji: Eva..

Asuka: (scornfully) That's your reason?

(The darker tone has returned to the Second Child's voice; there can be no doubt to whom he speaks. Without realising it, the boy has returned to the construct of his own mind - once more he converses not with a real person, but a reflection, the Asuka that exists in his mind.

It is almost as if he were arguing.. with himself..)

Shinji: To live.. I guess. To be happy, yes.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: Without Eva.. people would not know who I was - nor would they care. As a pilot, people know my name.. people know my face. I have friends. People are nice to me.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: I'm important.

Asuka: Is that your idea of happy? Or are you just afraid of being unimportant?

(The Third Child pauses, then corrects himself.)

Shinji: Eva.. brought me to her. It forced me to live with her, to be with her. To watch when she was in pain. To help.. when I could make myself step forward..

Asuka: ..

Shinji: .. it wasn't often.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: Eva forced us together, made us be together. The contact.. it made us close. It made me need her, and made her need me. When I was with her.. I wasn't alone anymore.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: She told me that she loves me.

Asuka: (scornfully) Is that -

Shinji: (interrupting) No.

(His voice goes flat as he speaks, still facing away from the girl as he lies on his mattress.)

Shinji: (bitterly) She only said it because she... had to... because we were forced together. It wasn't because of me.

(Abruptly there is a change. Shinji can feel her weight on him; her naked form lying on his. She is not heavy - not nearly heavy enough to make him uncomfortable beneath her.. but definately heavy enough to make him very, very certain of several dangerous facts.

But.. he is not excited - merely mildly embarrassed. He raises his hands until he can slide them over the girl's shoulders - gentle contact, careful, but free of fear or worry. Slowly his hands move downwards, following the hair that splays across Asuka's shoulder blades, his fingers parting locks of hair, slipping up again to caress the back of her neck. His hand slides along the girl's skin, but he feels.. nothing. No fear, no excitement..

Only gentle embarrassment.. as if he should be feeling something he isn't.

Asuka lowers her head to rest on Shinji's chest; he can feel the shape of her ear pressing against him - next to the softness of her cheek.)

Asuka: This isn't happiness?


Asuka: Isn't this what you want?

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Isn't this what you want?

(Eventually the young man surrenders, admitting the truth..)

Shinji: Yes. This is something I want.

Asuka: Then why aren't you happy that you have it?

Shinji: Because this isn't.. a choice. This place.. this isn't real.

Asuka: Don't I feel real?

(Shinji gently pushes the young woman off his chest; she lifts herself up on her elbows and looks down at him, waiting, unabashed at her nudity. He gently takes her face in his hands and gazes up at her, his eyes never travelling below her neck.)

Shinji: You feel real. But this is what it has always been like - forced together, by Eva. This is.. trivial, meaningless.

Asuka: Would you push me away now, because you were forced? You say no to what you want because it comes easily?

Shinji: No.. that's not it.

Asuka: Then what?

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Is it because you never had the courage to ask?

Shinji: ..

(Abruptly the weight is gone from his chest - the girl removed from his vision. Sitting up, Shinji is momentarily confused until the bed sinks slightly to the left; Asuka sitting down on the edge. But this Asuka is clothed, rather unlike the last, and this leaves Shinji in an embarrassing situation.

Before the boy can begin groping for covers, however, the girl turns. Her blue eyes capture his with a sudden intensity, and he realises that she is real - unlike the last construct, this Asuka is true - and her gaze freezes him in place as she picks up where the previous Asuka left off, but this time her words are gripping, inspired by an glimpse into the depths of his soul..)

Asuka: Or because you never had the courage to answer back?

(The young woman smiles slightly, and, without waiting for a response, rises from her temporary seat. Turning, she looks down at her companion, uncaring for his nudity, and extends a hand to him.

Shinji stares upward for what seems an eternity. The Second Child, standing by the bed, seems radiant, the smile still on her lips, lips which quiver slightly. Blinking, the boy notices a finer detail - that the hand and arm that the young woman extends down to him is trembling, shaking almost imperceptibly.

He suddenly realises that Asuka is terrified - and in the next heartbeat realises why.

This is Instrumentality. She did not have to ask.. but she has.

Now she awaits his answer. She is not afraid of a yes or a no - what worries her is no answer at all. To run away - to turn and distance himself from the possibility out of fear of the certainty.

Shinji rises smoothly, his eyes locked on hers, and calmly takes her waiting hand in his.)

Asuka: (softly) Remember this?

(And then they are somewhere else.

It is a beautiful place. It exists in Asuka's mind, in her memories. It is a place that she had wanted to show him.

When Hikari Horaki had shown her the streambed, it had been beautiful. Even with the foul weather, as it was when this pair had visited, the beauty was still visible. This time, however, it is formed of her mind - it is exactly what Asuka had wanted it to be.

The sky is a bright blue, with plump white clouds drifting lazily across the sky - not the dark, heavy clouds that filled the skies on the day of the camping trip, a trip from a carefree world so long ago.

The sunlight warms where, on that day, the air riding on the face of the storm had chilled. Each breath is fresh, smelling, no, tasting of grass and trees, instead of the heavy humidity of descending thunderclouds.

There is a stream here, where the water runs swift and shallow, its smooth surface broken only by gentle ripples. In the surface of the water, the sky is reflected, the sun a flicker against the eyes, the grass a glimpse of nature's beauty. In their previous visit this same streambed reflected only a dim, broken image of grey skies, the pall on their immediate future.

This is a beautiful place, a perfect place. It is what she had wanted it to be; what she had hoped to show Shinji, and in a way, what she wanted to tell him. Instead, it had been Shinji who had shown her, Shinji who had told her, high in a cave on the hillside as they hid from nature's fury - hid like children from the dark clouds over their lives.

The Second Child wanders slowly down the hillside, entranced by the streambed as it reflects the morning light. Behind her trails the Third Child, his eyes wide with wonder, regarding the beauty of the place.

As she walks, Asuka's shoes become lost - her bare feet kicking through the thick grass, finally finding refuge in the cool water. The girl smiles absently, and, with motions free of any care she sinks down on one of the rocky banks of the tiny streambed, gazing down into the clear, cold water as it trickles around, between and over her toes.

Eventually Shinji joins her, sinking to his haunches beside her at the streambank, running his fingers through the gravel. After a while he too kicks off his shoes, leaning back, cooling his heels in the stream, elbows in the grass, sun on his face.

It is some time before either cares to speak; as it happens, the one to break the comfortable silence is Shinji.)

Shinji: (quietly) It's.. beautiful.

Asuka: (equally quiet) I know.

Shinji: You wanted to show me.. this?

Asuka: Did you know.. when Hikari and I first found this place..

(Asuka's voice continues to come softly, like the gentle breeze against his skin. Her words are quiet, and at first, one might be forgiven for mistakenly believing that she is indirectly answering Shinji's question..)

Asuka: Hikari and I sat here for hours, just talking.

(Shinji closes his eyes, letting his head flop back on the soft grass, continuing to listen.)

Asuka: (slight laugh) We don't normally get all.. you know.. talkative.. unless we're alone somewhere, like at that lookout point.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: But here we talked for hours.. even with the rain, it was like..

Shinji: (opening his eyes) ...

Asuka: It was like I could forget for a while who I was, or about Tokyo-3, and just talk without worrying about what might happen tomorrow.. or what it all could mean..

(The boy slowly sits up, sensing that Asuka's words are far more important than they sound..)

Asuka: On the camp.. I wanted to come here.. so I could talk with you.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: .. and maybe forget for a moment about the Angel we could be fighting tomorrow, or the exam at school next week.. and say things without being scared of the consequences..

(Asuka looks sideways, embarrasment coming to the fore. Shinji seems to be staring straight at her, his eyes fixed on her face, an unspoken question clearly on his lips. In response, the young woman looks down, a faint redness beginning in her cheeks, a blush provoked by the unusually forthcoming and personal experience she just imparted.)

Asuka: That sounds a little bit stupid, huh?

(She continues to look downwards, the silence stretching out.. far longer than it would take for the boy to raise an objection to her self-deprecating statement. Looking sideways, she notices that the boy is still staring at her.

Discarding her embarrasment, she raises her head and notices a difference - Shinji has not been staring at her, but instead at a point just over her shoulder. Unaware of his rudeness, he appears fixated, an expression of curiosity and confusion evident on his young features.)

Shinji: What.. is that?

(There is a shuffle and a splash as the Third Child rises to his feet, barefooted in the stream. Reluctantly, Asuka follows, pushing down a sudden anger at his apparent indifference to her confession. Her eyes following his gaze, trying to decipher what it is that has caught his attention.

It is a tree, tall in the distance. No - it is something that has become part of a tree.

It isn't meant to be here. She didn't want it to be here. A thick spread of leaves covers limbs that wind upwards and outwards, stretching its reach over what seems a far larger area than any normal tree could possibly cover.

The tree bears two fruits.

They hang from rope and woollen thread, two rotten fruits, twisted bodies. One of them is a woman - although Asuka suspects that only she can tell as much from this distance. The other is much, much smaller. They hang, side by side, from the outstretched claws of the tree's branches - to the untrained eye appearing as nothing more than an abnormality.)

Shinji: (confused) It wasn't there a moment ago..

(Asuka, however, has no answer to his confusion. She is frozen in place, shocked to immobility by the horror that she recognises. She purses her mouth, then bites, her lips thinning to whiteness as she trembles. Her hands form into fists, nails digging deep into her palms as she stands motionless, memories, thoughts and impressions rushing through her even as Shinji reaches out with his hand in support..)


(A gentle touch brushes against her; the Second Child does not feel it. There is no way she could feel it, lost as she is in her memories..

She sits silently, memories rising in her mind - yet they are not hers alone. Through his touch, through his supporting hand, Shinji Ikari has somehow become a passenger - a tresspasser into the thoughts and memories of the Second Child as, for a brief instant, she trembles in shock, staring at the intruder into her peaceful place.)

Asuka: She..

(This is thought, a soliloquy of recollection.)

Asuka: She was my mother... but that doesn't really explain it.

Asuka: She was my world.

(Asuka opens her eyes, pausing, apparently thinking about her words. The forest around them is silent - even the sounds of water from the streambed is muted, as if everything were on hold, the child as centre stage.)

Asuka: I guess that's how it works when you're young.. you base your world around them.

Asuka: I needed her. I depended on her.

Asuka: (looks down) Was it her fault? That I.. took it the way I did when she left? With how she left?

Asuka: I guess I was like that with Kaji once. I suppose it's like that with.. with Shinji, now.

Shinji: ..

(Abruptly Shinji realises something - he isn't here.

He isn't in her thoughts, in her world. He watches, but from outside the wall she has made around herself, able to "listen in" if you will because of the nature of this place, of this Instrumentality. The contact, his hand on her arm, has temporarily bridged the gap once more - allowing him this glimpse into her unmistakably private thoughts. The distance between them, barely arm's length, suddenly seems an impossible marathon, too far to cross, too far to shout, yet one he would do anything to cross, to somehow help rather than be forced to listen, unable to offer comfort..

He is separate from her - watching, listening, unable to intrude - but he is also a helpless passanger in the journey of her thoughts.)

Asuka: Kaji..

(Asuka looks down as her red-clad hands open - at some point her plugsuit has appeared around her, replacing her casual clothes. She almost recoils from those crimson fingertips, but manages to continue.)

Asuka: I could... grab him. Just run up and grab him, like I was a little girl. I suppose that's why he didn't take me seriously.

Asuka: I took it seriously. It felt so good to just be able to reach out to someone without them.. flinching away, or looking at me strangely.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Or looking at me pityingly.. that poor little girl.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: At least at first. But it always ended in.. that way. I saw too much in what was given to me.. and what wasn't given to me. At least with Kaji.. and it hurt.

(Her hands clench in remembered pain. Shinji, caught along in her thoughts, realizes that it is pain; a memory that causes the stomach to twist and the heart to clench, as if the body were trying to hold itself back from making the same mistake.

It is a familiar feeling.)

Asuka: It hurt, like it did with Mama. Afterwards, I didn't want it to happen again, I didn't want to get hurt again. So I had to live by myself, for myself. I couldn't need anyone, I couldn't depend on anyone..

Asuka: Father.. remarried. And she was.. she.. she wanted to be my..

(Asuka chokes on her words, then swallows, her hands still clenched into fists.)

Asuka: I didn't let her get close to me. I couldn't.

Asuka: Then.. she stopped trying. She started to ignore me, gave up trying to get close. It was exactly what I had wanted.. .and I hated it.

(The girl hesitates, blinking her eyes shut.)

Asuka: I am Asuka Langley Sohryu. Isn't that enough? Can't I just be this? Can't I just be for myself?

Asuka: Why do they matter so much? Why do I have to see so much in them? Why can't I just stop caring?

Asuka: (opening her eyes) Why did they all hurt me?

-(flashback)-Kaji: Not now Asuka.

(Shinji recoils from the as it blurs from Asuka's mind to his. Once again they are forced to share the same world, the same range of thoughts.

The memory brings more than just words. There is a feeling - the sensation Asuka felt through her hands as Kaji's arm stiffened, keeping her a polite distance from his body as he walked away. Pain follows that, a brief spark of the fear that he doesn't know her pain - or worse, he doesn't care of it. Not a fear, a certainty. He didn't care.

Because he stank of lavender perfume.)

Asuka: That hurt. He would brush me off, treat me like I was a little girl. He must have known that I.. He wouldn't.. (hesitates) It was Misato. He loved Misato.

Asuka: It's not.. fair of me, but it hurt too much. Every time I let it happen, it would end up hurting me.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: I learned to.. stop it..

(Brief images and words flash through the girl's mind - images of abuse, of shouted words, angry statements and childish insults hurled - particularly at the Third Child. He had been close; he had lived with her, and so her reaction to his... threat... was the fiercest of them all. Touji, Kensuke, the three stooges hostility.. all played a part.

But he is an unseen observer here, Shinji listens and remembers, without her knowing how much he is seeing. His eyes wide - if such a thing is meaningful in this context - he listens helplessly, curious and at the same time repelled as the girl tells her story, one piece at a time.)

Asuka: (quietly) I learned to push them all away.. but even then.. it hurts.

Asuka: (angry) Why do I have to care about what they think!?

(More images - this time questions, quiet nudges and a careful ear, listening to see what people say.. and the occasional outright taunt, designed to provoke an answer - a tactic particularly effective against..


Asuka: He couldn't tell me. Even after.. everything I had said.. everything that had.. slipped out, he couldn't give me a reason to stay.

Asuka: That.. had hurt the most. I wanted to believe it, though. It gave me a reason to go.. some more ammunition.

Asuka: But.. I also didn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. The only time I had given him a chance.. given him a reason to just say it and he.. couldn't..

Asuka: Worthless. It made me feel worthless. I wasn't even worth the words. He didn't.. have the courage..

Asuka: (frustrated) Why do I have to care so much about what he thinks?

Asuka: (growing quiet) Why did I have to tell him so much..

(And the girl falls silent.

Shinji Ikari listens, his eyes caught on the girl as she stands among the tall grass, her crimson plugsuit wildly out of place among the green.

To him, now, this seems something special; he hears her words, her thoughts. Things she might never be able to tell him, things that relate to him most deeply. This is him, as he is to her. And every word she speaks, everything she mentions, suddenly seems precious - a glimpse in the mirror, her mirror, the one in which he reflects for her.

Just as suddenly, she is precious.

Shinji waits, watching, listening, trapped by her words as Asuka speaks again.)

Asuka: I had piloted Unit One. I had found him. I had found him.

Asuka: And he was.. happier to see the Eva than me. He was.. amazed. Struck.

Asuka: That had hurt. (closes her eyes) Is it wrong to want him to feel something of that for me?

Asuka: Then.. (smiles faintly) He said he wanted my plugsuit. Wanted it off me.. (eyes open) That had felt good. That almost made up for it.. if he had meant it that way.

Asuka: (trivially) I couldn't let him think that, though.

(Again the girl pauses, letting the slight smile fade from her features, her expression growing grim.)

Asuka: (lowering) How can I even think of things like that. I can't even reach out and touch him. Even after everything - giving him a chance again?

Asuka: He could be my.. my doll. (absently) I could do it, you know.. make him my personal thing. Control him, make him be mine, so he has to do what I say, when I say. No matter what..

Asuka: No matter what he wants.

Asuka: (closes her eyes) I don't want that.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: I want to be able to grab him. No - I want him to grab me, to speak to me. I want him to.. tell me the truth. Tell me how he feels. Give me a reason to stay, give me a reason to be worth something.

Asuka: But.. I don't want to be so weak. I don't want to need him.

Asuka: I don't want to depend on him.

Asuka: (eyes still closed) If I did.. that means.. giving him a chance - to hurt me again. Like Kaji, like Mama.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Can I do that?

(The Second Child opens her eyes, looking down at the second skin of her plugsuit. Second skin.. her Eva. Eva, the thing that gave her value, that gave her a meaning, and brought her pain.

It had also brought her to them - the people she could now call her family.

"Could" - but does not.)

Asuka: Can I let him get that close?

Asuka: If he gets close.. if anyone gets close.. it hurts. When they.. when I.. when it ends..

(A final memory intrudes - her eyes, her anger, an almost hoarse shout.

When she told him it was over, they were finished, they were done..

It is a memory Shinji remembers all too well.. words that hurt far too much.)

Asuka: It .. hurts to end..

Asuka: But I'm going to do this.. I'm going to give him his chance again.

(Asuka looks up, her eyes blind to Shinji, instead locked on the distant tree as her lips twist in what is almost a snarl..)

Asuka: (fiercely) But I can't do this while you're here.


Asuka: (fiercely) But I can't do this while you're here.

(The world shifts with her anger. Shinji can feel the rush of air as the tree is pushed away, pushed out of this place. The tree had been a looming, menacing shape close enough to walk to. Now a chain-link fence separates it from the pair, pushes it back into the distance, almost over the horizon.

It is too late - the Third Child has noticed. Anger and fear has tried to hidden it, tried to protect him from it; to protect her from him seeing it, but Shinji has seen the tree. His eyes are drawn to its clawlike branches and the odd shapes that dangle from them.

The Second Child speaks - Shinji knows the tone well, now - there is no way for him to fail to pick up on her constructed tone of disinterest, the facade of dismissal.)

Asuka: (forced lightness) It's nothing.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Don't -

(But they both know now - this thing cannot be hidden, as much as Asuka might wish to. For a moment the world shifts again - the tree slides closer, the fence seems somehow smaller, as Asuka's resolve shakes, almost giving in.

It is her silence that makes Shinji turn to look at her. The first thing he notices is her hands, digging into the grass and soil. Her body is turned slightly to face him, legs drawn up to her chest - for she has resumed her seat by the streambed, the picture of relaxation. Only her her hands belie the truth - and expression on her face.

He can see worry there. Worried.. why? Because she can't hide it. Because he's seen it. Because.. he might..

Could it be anger? Or perhaps.. fear. Definately fear. That he might hate her because of what he's just seen.

He recognizes what happens next. Her expression shifts, the fear vanishing, replaced by a dull acceptance of what her fear has told her.)

Asuka: I.. I'm sorry.

(The Third Child turns, looking down at the seated girl, confusion plainly written on his features. What could he say? What should he say? What does she want to hear?)

Asuka: I wanted this to be like it was before, so I could..

Shinji: (interrupting) Asuka..

(The girl continues, oblivious, her voice near breaking..)

Asuka: (hoarsely) You must think I'm..

(The tortured tone in her voice finally drags a real reaction out of the young man - for without quite realising it he lunges forward, hand outstretched, ready to grab Asuka by the shoulder. Perhaps he was going to shake her vigorously, to bring her to her senses - or maybe a gentle squeeze, to reassure..

His hand slides effortlessly through air. He almost falls through her as she fades, vanishing from this place.)

Shinji: No..

(In the space of a breath she is gone. In that brief moment she had seemd to move - turning, her face.. confused? Her mouth moving, forming a word, a question..

..and gone.)

Shinji: (raised voice) Please don't go..

(It is too late - she has left, with barely a depression in the grass by the streambed to mark her presence.

Shinji remains.

Now he is alone here, in this place that Asuka had created. This place remains with Shinji, in his mind and memory. The grass, the stream.. the fence and the tree beyond.

He could leave. He could make his own place - as she had made this one - and go there, hide there, until.. until later. Until she was back again. Until he didn't have to be alone anymore.)

Shinji: Is this.. my chance?

Shinji: I could leave here.. leave her.. or I could

(Or he could change this place - tear down the fence, rip apart the barrier Asuka had put in this place to protect her from whatever the tree was. He could reach out and see why hurt her so much..)

Shinji: No.

(His glimpse into her thoughts has already told him far too much.

He wants to know. He wants to understand. Anything now that might bring him closer to her is what he wants. But..)

Shinji: Not this way.

(Not again. Not another stolen memory. A secret that might be a secret for a good reason - Asuka's reason, whatever that might be. And this time, for now, he doesn't want to know. Not unless Asuka lets him.)


(But he cannot shake the thought - maybe he has already betrayed her trust, known too much, seen too deep. This place, this Instrumentality, seems to have already forced him this far.

The sky overhead begins to darken.

Shinji Ikari simply loosens his collar slightly and slumps down on the grass, a short way away from where the girl dissapeared. Relaxing, he settles in to wait, uncaring as night begins to fall on this small world Asuka created.

But the young man may be seeing more in the Second Child's abrupt depature than might be expected..)


(Asuka looks up, slowly becoming aware of her new surroundings..)

Asuka: Wha..

(It is hard to move - she is seated. Curved walls fade into existance around her.

More sensations filter through - the deep, bass hum. The low whine of electronics. A strange feel to the air - no, this isn't air. She can smell this place, taste it. The yellow light. Butterfly handles at her fingertips.


Asuka: The.. entry plug?

(This enclosed space is as familiar as her room. The fluid of the entry plug is thick; the light within this cylinder tinged with the faint yellow, signifying a lack of electrolysation. The Eva in which she resides is inactive; not synchronized, not under a pilot's control.

Reaching up she discovers her hair free of the usual neural band. A brief craning of the neck reveals that the electrodes float free in the same liquid in which she does - almost placed there by afterthought.

Voice: Why are you doing this?

(The voice breaks through the girl's contemplation of her surroundings, making her stir once more in her seat. Before any sort of answer is formed, however, the environment radically shifts - the familiar surge of power, the LCL turns opaque and the interface initializes, then clears, revealing a location as familiar as the voice that now questions her..)

Voice: Why are you doing this?

(The location is familiar. The voice is familiar. The questions are familiar.. and this entry plug - Asuka inhales deeply through her nose, 'smelling' the LCL.. yes, even the LCL is familiar.

Through the viewscreen, clouds are gathered over a stretch of wild country on the outskirts of Tokyo-3. Rain falls upon the Eva's armor.

This was from before - before the contact did so much damage, when they were first discovering the effects. They had been confusing, sometimes painful, sometimes comforting, sometimes.. almost fun.

But then it had dragged her out after Shinji, piloting his Eva in an effort to catch up with him.)

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (angrily) Hey, I didn't ask to come here!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: I'm not! He's doing it! (defensively) He won't talk to me!

Voice: ..

Asuka: He won't listen to me! I've told him, but he hasn't said anything back!

(The silence from her unknown companion stretches out.)

Asuka: I just.. wanted to make someplace I could talk.. and maybe he could talk back..

(Asuka stares through the eyes of the Evangelion out over the field as the sun, masked and dimmed by clouds to a grey spot in the sky, sinks to an indistinct blob on the horizon. Was that how it was? Or is this another memory?)

Asuka: Is that we I'm here again? To find him again?

(She remembers the search, and remembers the outcome. Catching up too late, but.. it was still at least an.. interesting time.)

Asuka: (thoughtfully) I suppose.. the campsite will do.. when I get there..

Voice: How are you any different from him?

Asuka: (startled) What?

Voice: Do you succeed where he fails?

Asuka: Of course! At least I could tell him, which is more that he ever did for me..

Voice: And what of me?

(The question startles her.)

Asuka: Wait.. who are you?

Voice: Don't you remember me?

Asuka: (slowly) No..

Voice: You never said anything back..

Asuka: No..

Voice: Almost like you never even heard me calling..

Asuka: (shaking) No...

Voice: I'm lonely, Asuka..

Asuka: (terrified) No, no, no, no, no no...

Voice: Be with me, please..

(The Second Child covers her ears, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to deny the presence that her senses plainly tell her is there..)

Asuka: (terrified) Let me out..

Voice: Please..

Asuka: (screaming) LET ME OUT NOW!!!

(Her voice, cracked and strained, echoes from the rounded walls of the Evangelion Entry Plug. All sound dies for a moment - the hum of electronics, the crackle of displays and the ebb and flow of LCL - all fade into silence, a quiet which stretches just long enough for a final whisper..)

Voice: (softly) I'm sorry..

(.. before all light fades, the synchronisation broken, an orange tinge flooding the chamber ..

.. like the darkness overwhelming the senses of the Second Child.)


(Two red-clad boots sink slightly into the muddy ground.

A modest campfire glimmers in the centre of the clearing, the flickering orange light casting a faint sheen on the LCL still dripping from her red plug-suit.

Asuka stands, hands on hips, at the campsite. She had arrived just in time.

No, she hadn't. Had she?

She knows this place - memories, thoughts and actions that had taken place here. There, the log where Rei had sat, draped in a blanket before the small fire. There, the tent where the First Child and the child had slept.. these are all things that Asuka knows well. Turning slightly, she can even spot the place where Kensuke assumed his lonely guard duty, and grins ruefully as she recalls how Aida muttered to himself in a low monotone until she threw the mug at him to shut--

The Second Child bites her lip abruptly. That wasn't right - she hadn't thrown the mug. Had she? Someone had.

She glances down - she hadn't been wearing this plugsuit either. It had been one of Shinji's, with part of one leg slashed off to let her sprained ankle rest easier.

But this is what Shinji knows - Asuka in red. Asuka in her red plugsuit, Asuka in her red shoes, Asuka in her red Eva.

Shinji had thrown the mug. Shinji had cooked a hasty meal on that fire. Shinji had wrapped Rei and Tenkei in a blanket, caring for them with a.. almost a passion.

It makes Asuka feel slightly left out to remember these things - Shinji's memories, his feelings. He feeling for Rei. Yes, left out - she remembers. Shinji had been here, while she had been in Eva, chasing him, left out of his quest. But through the contact she remembers it all in the first person.

Asuka's eyes fall finally upon the sleeping form of the Third Child. Shinji Ikari had waited for her. The wait must have taxed him - for the young man is laying on his back, hands folded across his chest, deep in slumber.

Peaceful sleep is written all over his youthful face.)

Asuka: (softly) Guten Nacht, Shinji.. You deserve it.

(He had waited for her. She had expected him to depart, that she would need to seek him out to bring him here. Like the forest by the streambed, this place is her chance. His chance. A place where he had almost..

She had created this place - a symbol of her search, a memory of where she had found him, a place where she can bring him. But she had never needed to - he is already here, sleeping as she changed the world around him. He had been waiting.

At some time in the future he might awaken - but the girl was sure that after a brief look around the campsite he would accept the change, as he had everything else in his life.)

Asuka: ..

(The young woman drops to her knees beside the sleeping form, unmindful of what the damp ground does to the leggings of her plug suit. She leans forward, her eyes fixed on his closed lids, the memories coming quicker now, a flood of feelings, impressions, sensations.. almost strong enough to grasp, to hold..)

Asuka: You slept through it..

(There was something yet undone.. something she did not want the boy to simply accept after he awoke..)

Asuka: I wonder.. if you really don't know..

(Asuka places a hand over one of Shinji's for support as she leans further, shadowing his body with her own. Her hand tingles where it touches his - not the dangerous shock of Contact, not this time - but something else entirely..)

Asuka: ..

(The scene wavers, shimmering around the pair as Asuka draws yet closer to the boy - the scenery giving way to blackness as she presses her lips gently against those of the slumbering youth.

Nothing else matters - the place, their construct is gone. All that is left is two youngsters laying in a circle of illumination.. the girl atop the boy, her face pressed to his, two sets of eyelids now peacefully closed.

The memories change from a flood to an absolute torrent, washing over her from head to toe - indescribable in their content, a cacophany of noise, pleasure, pain, hate and love, all at the same time, in the same breath. One moment, this moment of contact.

Images of Shinji fill her mind's eye.. images she cannot possibly repress.. they invade her, shared with him as hers are with him..

.. she can hear his thoughts..

.. feel his wants..

.. savour his secret desires ..

.. dream of his fantasies ..

.. of Rei ..

.. Misato ..

.. of her ..

Asuka follows these.. wanting an answer to her question.. the question left unspoken at the streambed.. and now at the campsite..)

Asuka: (thinking) Do you feel the same?

(His thoughts fill her now, through the touching of lips. Feelings - his impression of their Instrumentality. A symphony of mind, a soft harmony that slowly dwindles to a single voice..

..her voice..

..her memories as she spoke of her mother.

The Second Child breaks off the kiss with a gasp, her eyes wide, mouth open in shock.)

Asuka: ...!

(She stares down in shock, eyes wide, taking in the horror of her inadvertant discovery.

He knows. He knows everything.

Asuka discovers her hands are trembling - much like her bottom lip. She bites down on it, as she did before after noticing the tree. With slow, careful movements she lowers her hands to the chest of the boy beneath her, fumbling in the cloth of his shirt for support.)

Asuka: (hoarse whisper) I didn't want you to see those things..

(Her fingers tighten on the loose fabric.

The blows begin, raining down on the unresponsive Third Child. Her fists smash down onto his face and shoulders, her nails rake down his cheeks, fingers grab great clumps of hair to twist and pull about. She shouts and rages, screaming as she strikes again and again, sometimes punching, sometimes slapping, sometimes clawing.

They watch as she yanks the limp, pathetic doll about, pummelling at the stuffed creature, yanking off blue-button eyes and tearing out clumps of woolen hair.

Drawing back from the enraged girl and the doll beneath her, we see them clearly: Shinji and Asuka, watching from a distance, as the shadow of the Second Child rages and beats the stuffing, quite literally, out of the toy.)

Shinji: Have I done something wrong?

(The girl shakes her head slowly, watching with distant, pained eyes as the image of her continues to rage and tear at the doll.)

Asuka: (softly) No.. I understand how.. you found out.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: It's this place.. I guess it doesn't let you keep any secrets.. that's kind of how it works..

(There isn't much the Third Child can say in response. He waits in silence, watching as the distant shadowy form of Asuka continues to shred the thing beneath her. There isn't much left of the doll now - some stuffing, a button eye that remains attached to a peice of cloth.. but by and large it looks like the shadowy figure is done its gruesome work.

On cue, it begins to fade away - like so much of this place the thing has conveyed its meaning and is no longer relevant. Silence falls on the campsite - only the faint crackling of the fire by the scattered remenants of the Shinji-doll can be heard..

.. that is, until Asuka laughs softly, a cynical sound of self-deprecation.)

Asuka: This means you know I kissed you, right?

Shinji: ..

Asuka: That's right, Third Child.. while you were sleeping one time.. your birthday, actually.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Isn't it great? Me, the great Asuka Langley Sohr-- mmm!

(Evidently Shinji does not agree. The young man has instead stated his objection in the most blunt manner possible - slapping a bare hand over Asuka's mouth to silence her.

With his other hand, Shinji pulls her face is close to his, eyes burning with an anger she had never seen before. The intensity of his expression transfixes her for an instant.. but only for an instant as the girl's anger rises as a result of his rude gesture and she responds appropriately - by biting down hard.)

Shinji: (cursing) ..!

(Shinji jerks backwards, pulling his hand away, and Asuka takes the opportunity again, pressing her hands to his chest and shoving him away forcefully, a move that results in the boy ending on his rear several yards away.)

Asuka: Get the hell away from me, Shinji Ikari!

Shinji: (picking himself up) ..

Asuka: God, I hate this place! One minute you're real, the next minute..

Shinji: I'm real..

Asuka: (angrily) The real Shinji wouldn't put his hand over my mouth!

Shinji: Exactly.

(Asuka blinks.)

Shinji: If you'd dreamed me up, like that doll over there.. (waves hand towards campfire) .. I'd do exactly what you expect.

Asuka: So why did you put your hand over my mouth, you dumkopf? spellling!

Shinji: Because..

Asuka: (hands on hips) ..

Shinji: Because..

Asuka: ..

(The hands hanging loosely at his side suddenly clench into fists..)

Shinji: Because I don't want to know every detail of your life, okay?

Asuka: ..

(Shinji takes a deep breath and continues, exploding into a rant, gesticulating wildly..)

Shinji: I want you to tell me what you want to tell me - I don't want to "just know". Do you think I like knowing all this stuff? I know you know things about me too..

Asuka: ..

Shinji: When you .. left .. I didn't go over and look at the tree, not because I couldn't or because I wasn't curious, but because it was your.. thing! It was a part of you.. it should be your choice.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: If you choose not to show it to me, it doesn't say very much if I just go ahead and find out anyway.

(Ikari trails off, breathing heavily, noticing his clenched fists for the first time. With a concious effort, he relaxes his fingers, staring at the red nail marks in the palms of his hands.

Asuka, meanwhile, has not broken her silence, eyeing the dancing fire in the centre of the campsite.)

Shinji: (tentatively) Asuka?

Asuka: ..

Shinji: Asuka, I'm sorry..

(The silence drags on..)

Shinji: .. I shouldn't have put my hand over your mouth, or yelled..

Asuka: (suddenly) Shinji.. you're always apologizing. Always saying you're sorry for something.

Shinji: ..

Asuka: Has anyone ever accepted one of your apologies gracefully?

Shinji: ..

Asuka: ..

Shinji: I might have forgotten it..

(Asuka leans her head back and almost shouts in frustration.)

Asuka: (loudly) Sheesh! You can't remember?!

Shinji: (stepping back) I'm sorry! It's just that I-

(She cuts him off, throwing her arms around him in a great bear hug.)

Asuka: Idiot.

(So shocked is the young man by the sudden enthusiastic gesture that the redhaired girl has to reassure him that strangulation is not to follow..)

Asuka: It's okay..

Shinji: ..

Asuka: (repeating) It's okay..

(Slowly, the boy catches on, tentatively returning the embrace.

From sleeping to kissing to tearing to hugging.. Instrumentality is definately a strange place.

But this is different. Where previous contacts had yielded a mental closeness as well as a physical one, this embrace is bereft of the mind-play that took place earlier. He cannot 'hear' her thoughts.. there is no cacophany or symphony, only silence.

He cannot help thinking that his outburst has, in some way, made a difference.

Eventually they break, Asuka bearing a rueful smile on her face.)

Asuka: (tugging on his sleeve) Come on..

(He follows as she leads him back to the campfire, which fades into view with their approach. The young woman drops to one knee by the tattered remains of the torn doll, the smile on her face dying as she looks down at it.)

Asuka: ..

(She begins to gather up the torn pieces of cloth and clumps of stuffing, assembling it into a small pile. It is far from an effort at repairing it - it is still just shreds, if shreds gathered together - but at least it is something.)

Shinji: It's all the same, isn't it? The doll, the tree, your mother..

Asuka: (looking up) You mean you don't know?

(Her tone is empty of any scorn or ridicule - only a touch of uncertainty.)

Shinji: I guess.. I don't. (kneels down beside Asuka) Does that make you feel better - knowing that I don't know all of it?

(Asuka's attention returns to the shredded doll, picking at the pieces as if her efforts could bring the thing back into one piece.)

Asuka: A little. Do you want to know the rest?

Shinji: Only if you're willing to tell me.

(Shinji waits as the girl turns to look at him - she nods, slowly.)

Asuka: Can you give me a little time before..?

Shinji: Whatever you need, Asuka..

(He watches as Asuka stands up, avoiding eye contact - perhaps embarassed at her request.)

Asuka: (softly) Thank you, Shinji.

(They share a brief silence as Asuka stares out to the edge of the campsite. Shinji turns to look as well - the tree, intruding on this place as well, it's motionless, claw-like limbs reaching, the bodies hanging from their ropes dark, indistince shapes in the firelight.

Shinji's eyes stay on the tree as he speaks.)

Shinji: So.. are we going back?

(But Asuka's are focussed on something beyond it.)

Asuka: Not yet..

(The Third Child looks deeper, past the tree and the light, and sees it - the vast, dark shape. If not for the faintest glimmer from its armored skin, almost unnoticable in the poor light, an observer might think it was just part of the hillside.

The Evangelion lies dormant. Shinji remembers this much - after the chase, so long ago. Misato had risked her job - so did Hyuga, one of the technical staff of Central Dogma. Asuka had, with their help, set off in pursuit of Shinji in Unit 01 - the only Eva that could continue pursuit after NERV had ceased co-operating..

Shinji remembers it all - he had walked over to Unit 01, almost unbelieving that it had followed him.. and that Asuka had been the one to pilot it.

This time.. it is different.)

Asuka: I need just a little more time..

(The two children gaze across the campfire at the prone form of Evangelion Unit 02.)

Asuka: She has to tell me something first.


To Be Continued...

[Chapter 12]


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October 2009


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