Warning: language, blood, gore, illegal stuff, dead stuff, vandalizing, scaring, spoilers, character death, implied m/m.
Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion or any of the characters. That belongs to Hideaki Anno respectfully. The plot is mine. Any characters not in the anime are filler characters or characters I put in for the story’s sake.
Hold on to me,
Cause I’m a little unsteady.
A little unsteady.
Everything is different the second time around.
Rain came down from the cloudy skies steadily, creating a movie-like atmosphere for the people in the bus bustling along on the uneven asphalt. The bus driver moved skillfully to avoid the broken down, rusting, abandoned cars on the road and the giant, crater-like potholes in the ground. He listened quietly as the people in the bus prayed and sang together for their lost loved ones.
Candles, pictures, flowers, shrines, and everything else adorned the sidewalks of the city, leaving not a single square inch of white uncovered. Several homeless or wandering families had long-since eaten the food and treats left on the side to stay alive, but it proved pointless, as their starved, skeleton-with-skin bodies lay limp and lifeless in between rotting, destroyed buildings and in gravel-ridden driveways or parking lots.
Rows and rows of houses, apartment complexes, stores, shops, or just random buildings lay trashed, burned, or already thoroughly raided along the streets. Some still had fires burning inside, or had products way past their expiration date that nobody needed or wanted; anyone that had grabbed any of it was well and dead by now.
A pair of blue eyes scoured the streets assiduously through the windshield of the bus bobbing through the streets like in infant at play. This driver was well-accustomed to the roads, but he still kept his eyes peeled for any danger to make his passengers’ grieving transition easier.
As if avoiding potholes on a deserted street helped. Really.
They were headed towards what was known as the ‘Stadium Graveyard’, where lost loved ones could reunite once again since the tsunami disaster by the meteor incident, although they were usually reuniting with body bags or badly decomposed bodies or partial limbs, if brought anything other than pictures and disappointment. The stadium was famously known nowadays for bringing only grief; the reason why many refused to come and receive closure and why many more needed confirmation that the ones they loved were really gone.
Shinji was on the bus headed towards the Stadium Graveyard, Pen Pen quiet in the seat next to him.
And although each time he went, he knew the answer each time would be more devastating than hearing it the last, he never gave up hope of what he might find, or rather, who he might find there.
Actually, in all honesty, he didn’t know who he meant by ‘who’, because he was sure all of his friends and family were dead. He knew he was only lucky to survive because he had stolen Misato’s car so he could watch Kaworu’s death and had outraced the tsunami long enough to find high enough ground to keep from drowning or exploding into a million pieces from the impact of the water like all those other people had.
All the other people they buried at the Graveyard Stadium...
He had been there plenty of times, and of course, like everyone else, he saw what had happened in the sky. Even if he did survive, there was no way his body could’ve made it back down to earth. It would’ve burned up as soon as it hit the first atmosphere.
And even if he survived that, they would find his body in pieces from having splattered everywhere when it hit the ground.
It sent shivers through Shinji’s spine to think that the other pilot hadn’t survived, but it also sent chills down his spine to think he was alive somewhere in outer space...suffering until he slowly died...alone...
Space was such a black, meaningless void. So empty and wide and...useless. It was the symbol of everything humans didn’t want to face: chaos, disorder, emptiness, endlessness, and most horrifying of all, loneliness.
It was why Eve was created for Adam, right?
But why did he feel alone when he was surrounded by people then..?
And thinking about this was killing Shinji on the inside. He couldn’t imagine it at all. He didn’t like to think about it.
Each bus ride he took killed him, too. The drive was long and filled with anxiety, mixed emotions, a quiet Pen Pen, and repetitive, blank tapes. Since he could remember, all the tapes played over and over was white noise, silence that filled his ears so harshly he thought they would bleed. Speaking of blood...
LCL...what a funny thing to name blood that’s been heavily oxygenated. Might as well hang a sign on the EVAs that says ‘does not contain actual blood’. What was the deal with the smell, too? And how could an EVA possibly run out of time without a charger faster than its’ off-charge time limit?
These were questions he’d like to ask Misato, or his father even, if his father would talk to him...
Or if he were still alive...
Oddly enough, he didn’t regret his actions back at NERV. So much blood...how could one human bleed so much?
And even if he could talk to his father, what would the man say to him?
“You’re a failure. You couldn’t ever do a damned thing right. It’s why you’re alone now.”
But even so, such a thing could never happen. He’d just be stuck without answers forever, because NERV and everyone in it was destroyed long ago when the first tsunami hit. The news report said that the force from the water hit so hard that the second the waves made contact with NERV everything was obliterated faster than anyone could’ve read what was happening. So there was no time to warn anyone of what was coming...
He had tried to in the beginning. Tried to warn everyone. Tried to race Misato’s car to its’ limit towards NERV, hoping to save someone, anyone...he knew who actually. He needed to save her, even through everything; he needed to save her. He owed her everything.
But, as usual, he backed out at the last second like the coward he was. He tried to tell himself that it wasn’t his fault and there wasn’t anything he could do, but he knew he was lying to himself and he hated himself for that. He hated himself for it all. Why couldn’t he be more like Kaworu or Rei or Asuka or Mari and just dive right into the face of Death without being a coward? Just once, why couldn’t he do something right? Something heroic like Kaworu?
It really was rather comical; what happened at NERV with the EVA plan. They had done everything right. Everything was perfectly calculated, perfectly counted on. The one thing they didn’t count on, however, was that the EVA would run out of power before it ever reached its’ target.
The whole world watched on national TV live as Kaworu’s EVA rose from underground NERV, facing straight towards the angle of the meteor’s path. The meteor was already burning through part of the stratosphere from its’ g-force, and Kaworu could hear the mass panic of the people below him. The people he was trying to protect. The people that he was trying to keep safe...the person he was trying to keep safe...
Kaworu snapped out of it. The plan was as perfect as could be so far. Everything was right so far. It was perfect so far.
Everything was going to stay that way. He would make sure of it.
He ran as fast as he could push the EVA to run and jumped against the launchpad as hard as he could, thanking Gendo for the spring added to help him reach the meteor. He was exactly on the calculated path towards the meteor, and they would collide exactly as planned; Kaworu would use his strength to fling away the meteor, if he was fast enough(he would certainly go up in flames if he couldn’t react quickly enough and it would all be over.).
But it wasn’t enough. The heat from putting so much force into his leap towards the meteor was causing the EVA to freak out, and hard. Alarms blared, lights flashed, and Kaworu could feel parts of his flesh peel painfully as the unit glitched and it drained its’ own battery from being overridden. Kaworu looked at the clock with determination. 54 seconds.
He was going to make them count. He was going to do this. He was going to do this.
He bit his lip through the pain, pushed harder, and the EVA unit stretched out its’ arm as far as it could towards the meteor. 37 seconds.
He could do this. If not, it would’ve all been for nothing and the ‘Lilin’, as he called them, would all die if he couldn’t at least knock the meteor away from earth, if not destroy it completely. Fourteen billion eyes were on him, hoping, praying, and depending on him to save their lives. There was no other choice for him. And if it did kill everyone and he survived, he couldn’t live with himself. He wouldn’t live with himself. He’d be a disgrace.
He could feel the intense heat starting to burn through the armor and flesh of the EVA, making its’ blood slowly start to boil. He bit back the pain and stretched the unit’s arm out further, gritting his teeth.
He could suddenly hear Misato’s voice in the confusion of unsettled cries over the comm. He strained his ears to listen, but to his horror, all he could hear was ‘out of time.’
Like a ball thrown way too hard for a small, inexperienced athlete to handle, the meteor slipped past the EVA’s fingertips, just barely out of reach; scorching his hands clean off and making him scream in pain.
It was just barely out of reach.
Just barely out of reach.
Kaworu was horrified.
They were dead.
Seven billion people.
Fourteen billion eyes.
With the EVA unit now dead, he began his rapid descent down, and with utter dread, a chilling realization came to Kaworu that made him freeze and widen his eyes in terror.
The meteor didn’t slip past his hands.
It hit his hands.
With the last bit of strength the EVA had, it had sacrificed its’ hands to knock the meteor off its’ path towards earth.
But another horrific realization hit Kaworu almost as hard as the meteor.
The meteor was now hurdling straight towards the moon.
“Come on!” Kaworu growled as he kicked and thrashed in the pilot’s seat. After a minute of struggling, Kaworu took a half-breath. Finally, he kicked the controls as hard as he could, momentarily jamming and glitching them out, and the EVA had 15 seconds of power left.
That’s all he needed.
Kaworu forced the EVA around and it tucked and rolled just in time, only destroying a few empty buildings in its’ path as it slid to a stop backwards until the road was gone from under its’ feet and in a pile around it.
Kaworu pushed the EVA into a forward bolt after the meteor to the moon, and with just about the craziest luck he’d ever had in his life, was able to use the last second of charge to grab a tight hold on the meteor. The force from his awkward direction spun the meteor out, and Kaworu’s EVA burned on impact, destroying the meteor as well.
Screams and cries of esctasy could be heard all around the world; people were over the moon with joy as they couldn’t be more relieved. Everyone everywhere was thrilled, everyone except Shinji, who was covered in blood and staring nervously into the sky with wide eyes. He was the only one that had seen everything, including what was going to happen next.
The impact from Kaworu’s EVA hitting the meteor at an angle caused an upset balance, and force shifted so hard against the moon, it was immediately knocked off-orbit, heading closer to earth with an unnerving rumbling.
People screamed and ran...but it was no use. They climbed, went to their rooftops, hid, drove like maniacs...pointless. Water, so much water...it tore everything within 500 miles of the coast of Southern California, shaking and wiping out a good chunk of Tokyo III. NERV was instantly wiped out, people were dead...everyone...so many people...so many bodies...so many floating bodies...so many floating limbs and torsos...and...heads...guts...desecrated bodies...people that had been picked clean alive by animals...or...other people...
Shinji grew unsettled in his chair. He could feel himself quickly become dizzy, and he knew what was happening before it came.
The bus driver stopped the bus and opened the double doors just in time to let Shinji throw up on the grass. Pen Pen just sat quietly in his chair and waited; the passengers murmured to each other, mostly gossiping about the anxious teen. Everyone knew Shinji’s name, and they knew exactly who he was, but there was no way they could’ve really known about what was going on with him. They could judge him all they wanted, as long as they never knew the truth.
“Have you heard of him before?”
“Who hasn’t! Do you know who that is?”
“Why of course! He’s the weak little boy from NERV.”
“Yeah, that’s Ikari’s boy. The EVA pilot to Unit 01.”
“Really? What’s his story?”
“Pathetic child. Who cares?”
“So sad, really. You know, they say they never found his father’s body...”
“Poor boy. Father deserved it.”
“I think he deserved on be on the EVA. That other child was much too much of a better pilot than his boy.”
“Too much of a better pilot...”
Kaworu smiles warmly at Shinji, and that’s the last thing the brunette sees before the other pilot slips into the black Challenger in front of them and speeds off to NERV.
Shinji’s emotions race through him like a million ghosts phasing through his body, and it’s painful. How could Kaworu so easily give up his life like that..? It’s one thing to get into an EVA and walk blindly right into danger, but at least there you can fight for your life. Here, nobody was coming out on top. Kaworu was abandoning all his friends to fling right into the arms of Death. Maybe it wasn’t as bad for him because he understood it or saw it differently than Shinji saw it, but there was definitely no way anyone other than Kaworu would do that.
And Shinji couldn’t let him.
Without even thinking, Shinji took off on foot towards NERV. If he could somehow get there before Kaworu left, maybe he could convince the white-haired pilot what he was doing wasn’t sensible.
Kaworu was already in his plug suit and on the ladder to climb into the EVA when he heard someone faintly calling his name. He knew that voice.
“Kaworu!” Shinji cried out, panting heavily. “You can’t go, you psycho! Are you insane!? What about your friends!? What about your life!? You can’t do this!” he pleaded, but he was destroyed when the pilot simply smiled patronizingly at him.
“If doing what I was made to do makes me insane, then I’m mad as a hatter. I’ll be back, Shinji. I promise,” he lied, and Shinji suddenly pounced on the other pilot, forcing himself to keep composure. He didn’t last long and Kaworu somewhat reluctantly let Shinji cry in his arms before he really couldn’t stay any longer, and the brunette was beyond himself as he watched the EVA leave NERV quarters through the West exit.
“How could you do it!?” Shinji demanded as he entered his father’s office. “How could you!? I can’t even-” the brunette struggled to catch his words and tried to keep his fury from making him lose it. “You assigned him to take on this mission knowing well how I feel about-!? How we feel!? About everything!?”
His father just faced the window quietly, which fueled Shinji’s anger even more.
“Say something, you bastard!”
Before either of them knew it, Shinji was destroying everything in the office and letting it all smash to the floor; he gave it a good stomping for extra measure.
Shinji panted heavily, out-of-breath for the second time that day. His breathing was now and once again the only sound in the room, and as soon as that had calmed down enough, he heard his father address him.
“Are you done acting like a six year old?”
Shock shook Shinji, and he had to take a second to register what had happened, when his father continued. “He was a better pilot than you ever were,” Ikari said, “and that’s why we put him in that EVA and not you.”
“Stop lying to yourself, runt. You’re not a pilot. You’re hardly a man at all.”
“Don’t listen to them, okay, Shinji? You’re just different, that’s all.”
“Who cares? Do you believe them?”
“A’ha, you’re rather lucky I think. I’d kill to be ‘cowardly’ like you.”
“Shinji, Shinji, Shinji...you’re an idiot, you know that?”
“Hmm. Well? Are you gonna do it or not?”