Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ The Second Child / Promises To Keep ❯ Thesis, Antithesis/Please Forgive Me ( Chapter 4 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Neo Genesis Evangelion - Apocryphia
The Second Child - Promises To Keep

Part IV - Thesis, Antithesis/Please Forgive Me

(continued from Part III)

A voice in the void. Rei Ayanami speaks.

"It is said that in the beginning of the world, the first
Adam was accompanied by Lillith, who left him to give birth
to the Lillim, children of the Angels. Adam reborn in sin then
took tempestuous Eve as his Wife, mother of his children,
the woman who gave him pain and gave him love, and thus
saved him from death."

"The Beginning is the End, and the End is the Beginning.
A man shall leave his father and take a wife, that
together they should create their own world. So it is
written. So it has been commanded. So shall it be. For
as the circle turns, the Children of the Lillim are the
Children of the Eva."

A voice in the void. The voice of Kaworu Nagisa speaks.

"Only an Angel incarnated as a Lillim could send the message
without destroying the life or sanity of the Lillim concerned.
There is so much about them one can only understand firsthand.
Take poetry, for instance."

"A sensei once had me read poetry about the end of things. I
don't remember them all anymore. How did some of it go? I
remember only fragments. Let me see, if I can paraphrase...

'Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice...
I say it will end with the hollow men...
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whisper.'

and I remember wondering, 'but weren't fire and ice used once
for creating the same world, as in a synthesis... and in the
end, what words will the last of the Lillim whisper? And why
would those words have to come out only at the end?'"

Unheard by the world, Nagisa's voice returns to the void.


The voice of the Second Child, a lonely figure huddled in front
of a gravepost. Crying, trying not to fade away. Whispers.

"... Shinji... I need you..."

From the darkness, a ray of light illuminates the corner of the
void occupied by the Second Child.

"Is this your dream then?" asks the First Child. "To be one with

She feels the muddy soil harden like solid wooden planks beneath
her feet. Some light returns, barely enough for her to look around.
She is alone now in the semi-dark, on a vacant stage with a solitary
folding chair thrown down on the stagefloor. Two figures,
bathed in ghostly light, appear in front of her. One is Rei, the
other a young boy, about their age, with gray hair and eyes as red
as Rei's. His eyes grab Asuka's, and he smiles at her in genuine
affection. And as she stares back at him the boy's smile takes on
the appearance, almost, of Kaji's roguish grin, the one he used
to throw at Misato.

"Who are you? What are you in this dream?" she asks.

Rei answers for both of them.

"We are a sign and symbol of hope. That people might someday
understand each other."

The boy speaks.

"And understand the meaning of a word called 'love.'"

"... What's the use? If this is something I'm only dreaming?"

The boy replies, "Reality is immense and unfamiliar, but in
it your dream is real. The truth, and your self, are in your
heart, for you to create."

Asuka feels a presence near her, something at the edge of her
mind's boundary, a very familiar shadow, and most of all, alive.
Her heart jumps and she instinctively turns to take a closer look
around her, her lips about to form Shinji's name, when the stage
she stands on begins to fade and disappear...

She wraps her arms around herself as a cold breeze sends her
shivering. She sees, on the horizon, a wintry landscape of trees,
an inviting childhood memory of what could be Old Bavaria, or the
woods outside her father's apartment in Vermont, all places long

She hears footsteps, feels a different, less familiar presence
approach slowly, and sit beside her. Ritsuko's voice.

"Is this the dream in your heart? Your dream has new passions you
yet know nothing about, primal feelings that will eat you out and
leave you crying and bloodied in the darkness, lonelier than ever.
A simple word like 'No', a single touch or kiss refused, can turn
your dream into a glass splinter lodged in your heart. You can
still leave this dream, drift away, and save yourself from the

"No. These dreams are the only piece of my self I have left."

"But you can't dream this dream alone. Look at you now, look
what's it brought you. He runs away like his father does. And
even if you get him back, what if you hurt him again? What if
he betrays you again?"

"I won't give it up. I know how good his heart has been, and could
have been. That is enough. He lives on in my self while I exist,
just like my Momma, and I won't let him die..."

The presence disappears, replaced by another.

She kneels down in the snow, and her eyes catch something red
lying in the ground. A small, glimmering white, bloodstained
crucifix drifts into Asuka's outstretched palm. She hears a warm
whisper of Misato's playful voice riding faintly on the wind...

"Will you ever forgive him? Will you let him come back to you?"

"When you let Kaji back into your life, wasn't it worth it?"

"It's a journey not without pain. Do you want to risk it?"

"Yes... I'm no longer a child after all..."

"Then perhaps you can keep this for him. It's a promise..."

Asuka's hand tighten around the cross, clenching it to her
chest, as the wind carries away her late guardian's voice.

Darkness. In the distance, the faint sound of waves crashing on a
beach somewhere.

Rei Ayanami's voice reaches out now to touch her mind,
whispering. "It's your turn, Asuka. Are you ready?"

And when the light returns, Asuka finds herself back in the
cavernous train station. She walks in the dark across the tracks,
towards a distant light at the other end of the station.
She suddenly frowns, determination in her eyes as she waits for
something to appear. A grey-hooded figure runs past her,
followed by another, then another, and soon a huge horde of cowled
figures is running through the station, filling it beyond capacity
with the muffled sound of a million fleeing footsteps. And
Asuka stands her ground, pushing and struggling to avoid being
swept away and overrun by the crowd.

She grabs one of the hooded figures and forces it to show its face.

She gasps in horror to see it is nothing but the face of bloody red
LCL. She pushes the figure away from her and it rejoins the
gray-cowled masses evacuating the station. But the mob avoids her
now, leaving the small space around her clear as they run past.

"Rei!? Rei, where are you?"

The station lights go out, save for one on the ceiling
a few feet above and in front of her.

"I am here."

The First Child walks serenely through the onrushing mass,
her face still impassive, her blue hair and school uniform
standing out in stark contrast against the onrush of gray that
clears her path like water across a small ship's bow. She stops
a few feet in front of the red-clad Second Child, and they stand
facing each other, red to blue, the First Child and the Second
Child, like fire and ice facing off across a placid empty space
at the end of the world, in positions equidistant from the
solitary light above them.

"What's going on, Rei!?"

"Shinji has rejected Instrumentality, Asuka. It is leaving him,
as he now wishes."

"He's done it then!? He's brought everyone back?"

"Yes, and no. As pilot of the Eva, he makes the first decision
to reject Instrumentality. He has thus paved the way for others,
but each soul's path is its own to decide."

"What do you mean!? We can all come back, can't we?"

"I'm afraid I can't tell you yet... Each soul has a world to
create, and so the world we knew might indeed return, perhaps
in a moment, perhaps in a few millenia while the world
regenerates; but Ikari enabled the greatest blasphemy since
Eden, so right now he has penance to pay, of what kind I do
not know. I can't see that far ahead. I'm sorry."

"Damn it, where is he!?"

"He's already back in the world. In the meantime, he will
remain there as a sign that humanity once existed."

"But... hold on... you mean everyone's leaving him? You're
leaving him all alone out there!?"

"He has chosen to accept himself. His spirit is broken, but he
has accepted his freedom. He has accepted his own worth enough that
he has accepted the risk of being alone, and of being responsible
for his actions."

"No! No... I can't leave him!"

"... Asuka, you are free now; it is completely up to you now
if you want to stay here with the rest of humanity, or join
him since he called for you... "

"Then why are we still here? Where are all these people going?"

"You were alive in the Eva at the time of Instrumentality, and
he chose you to be part of his dream. These two facts together
put you in a special situation. It is not without risk to you,
but you can join his world now if you so wish."

"And what about you? What about the rest of them?"

"Lillith's body is gone, but as Lillith I have to stay, for
their sake. I feel I owe as much to my children. I have to await
the rest of the prophecy, and see where it takes us... perhaps
it will be to a world separate from Ikari's world, but as I said,
that is the risk he freely took..."

"This is crazy! You can't do this to him!"

"This upsets you, Asuka?"


"You can wait here with me... you might not
want to go back to his world if no one else is able to, at
least for some time more... it is peaceful here, after all,
whereas the world now is a lonely wasteland where you would
only share his pain... you're not required to share his

The Second Child, eyes wild and frantic, one hand clutched to
her chest, starts crossing the gap between them.

"Look! I'm not leaving him! I won't let him! Not again!!"

Shaking hands vehemently clutch Rei's forearms. Blue eyes
pleading. The women stand there for a while, shaking,
immovable like primeval forces from creation, staring at
each other, seeking revelation. And Rei finally averts
her gaze, looks down, eyes blinking.

"I can see why he needs you. Then... I guess this
is goodbye, Asuka."

The Second Child clutches Rei in a sudden tight embrace. Rei's
arms remain stiffly at her sides, and only her eyes
betray the emotion of her surprise. And with her chin resting
on her fellow pilot's soft shoulder, Asuka whispers in a
trembling voice.

"Thank you, Rei... Wondergirl... please take care of

And in one quick movement she disengages from the First Child,
turns around, wiping away wetness from her eyes, and runs for the
nearest train platform. As the station lights come back on,
illuminating an onrushing sea of gray-cowled figures.

She pushes ahead desperately as she runs for the train's doors,
and she grabs them, violently pushing to force them open.

As she rushes into the train and the doors close behind her, she
does not hear Rei's parting words.

"Godspeed, Asuka. Take care of him for me."

She senses a familiar presence come calmly to her side.

"I see the boy has done his part. Will the girl do hers?" asks
the voice.

"She holds the keys now. She has that which you and I could not
give him. She also has that which his father refused until the boy
was no longer a child and it was too late."

"He loses her and so abandons the world. He gives the world
another chance and she reclaims him. So, it turns out that
the end of the world is their greatest dance together," chuckles
Kaworu as he appears beside Rei. "I'm quite sure they'll do well.
She's special, I see. How I wish I had known her better."

Rei turns to Kaworu, her face still impassive, but with no reply
from her he continues speaking.

"But tell me, why didn't you just tell her straight out from the
beginning, that she was the only one in a position to save him,
and his dream?"

Rei, looking back towards the train, replies, "Because she has
to decide with her own free will, her own volition, to accept him.
Not to save herself, but to save him. Hope is a conscious choice
after all. This is the whole point of all this, that the true
essence of instrumentality is for two hearts to choose to go
beyond themselves and start to know each other, separate but
together, with no conditions."

"Aaah, yes," he nods, "the freedom of the Lillim. Their curse,
and their blessing. I understand."

He turns to leave, "They have a long, interesting journey
ahead, but I wouldn't worry too much about your children,
Lillith... Ayanami."

"I'm not worried..."

The last of the sea of gray leaves the station, behind Rei,
away from the departing train.

The cavernous train station is empty and silent now, save for the
lone, pensive figure of the First Child. Her eyes still staring
in the direction of the departed train. But reflected in her
scarlet eyes is a figure of a boy by a phone booth on a deserted
city street, and of a boy lying on an empty beach by a blood-red
sea, next to an unconscious girl. The boy turns his head and sees
Rei. The First Child blinks, as her image fades from the station,
from the street, and from the sea, with a parting whisper.

"Be true to your heart. You deserve to be loved, dear Ikari..."

The train doors close behind Asuka. She looks around, trying
to see in the dark through the red luminiscent fog. A shadow comes
out of the mist, becoming a figure of a grown-up human Rei in a
white lab coat. Yui Ikari smiles at the Second Child.

"Thank you, child... I'm sorry though that you and my son were
forced to grow up so quickly. My own journey doesn't end here,
but perhaps you have made it easier... but, is there a stop you
wish to make first?"

She replies with a speechless nod, suddenly shy.

As the red fog disperses and disappears, Yui nods and smiles one
final time as her image fades. "Of course. You know what to do.
Go in peace, child..."

Asuka looks around her and finds she is seated, back inside the
entry plug of Eva-02. She can feel the water around her entry plug,

at the bottom of the lake. The waters are placid. The warships
above have disappeared, and the depth charge explosions have
ceased, leaving her in peace.

In front of her, a spotlight falls on a small redheaded girl
hugging her mother.

"But I don't want to leave you again, Momma..."

"I will always love you my dear, but you won't be a child forever."

"But what if he leaves me someday too?"

"As long as there is a possibility of happiness, life is worth
holding on to. As long as there is life, there is a chance to be
happy. Be strong. Live, Asuka."

The figure of an adolescent redhead in a red
plugsuit watches from a distance, clutching a small white cross.
She watches calmly, a single tear falls down her cheek.
She closes her eyes, and smiles slightly to herself.

"Danke schoen. Goodbye, Momma."

And she hears the sound of a solitary cello playing. She
doesn't hesitate. She reaches out to a lever on her panel, and
with a single move and an audible mechanical shudder ejects
the entry plug. The Second Child closes her eyes, gathering her
thoughts for a few more moments of peace, listening to the
cello finish its piece and fade. In her mind she remembers
lying on a futon in her room, enjoying the rays of the sun,
as the echoing of the boy's music caresses her soul.

"Hi," she murmurs, standing up, opening her eyes and adjusting
her yellow dress and her hair. "I'm back."

She reaches out in the semi-dark, finds a light switch and flips
it, as she continues speaking. "You have an insanely weird way
of confessing your affection, Third Child. Giving me Armaggedon
instead of roses. Really stupid. And I should whack you on the
head for... that thing you did to me, but considering I mangled
you on the train already, I guess we're even again. You're so
lucky I'm being nice to you by giving you another chance..." She
turns around to face him.

She is back to the scene in Misato's kitchen, their home, to a
scene frozen in time, Shinji's hands tight around the doll's neck,
his eyes frozen and horror-stricken in a distant, wide-open trance,
pained and distressed. Asuka calmly walks over, but she can feel
her hands shiver, and her knees waver slightly. But she pushes on,
frowns, raising her chin, facing him until their faces are inches
apart. The familiar steely fire returns to her own narrowed eyes.

"Stupid Shinji, my fallen super-pilot... I won't let you do this."

The limp doll fades away, and the boy's arms fall limply to his
sides, though the expression on his face remains frozen. The
girl moves to his front, and stares into his eyes.

"But I am sorry for hurting you, for pushing you over the edge.
I really am... What did you ever see in me, anyway? ... Will you
still see it after all that's happened here?"

She reaches out a hand to his hand, her eyes visibly softening. She
sighs, speaks in a barely audible, tender whisper.

"The Evangelions have gone. It's just you and me now. But even
without them, we still dance well together, don't we? ...
Don't we? ... We can start over... Please be real...
So, look at me..."

She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath.

"Rei? I'm ready."

She shrieks as a force like a raised barrier throws her down on
the floor, away from him. The room around them is blasted away, walls
crashing down, this temporary world disappearing. With the walls
gone, the storm winds come screeching in, into the darkness of the
void around them, and stabbing her mind like a hacksaw with the
ferocity of its ethereal howling.

The boy screams, raising his hands to ears, his mouth open in pain.
As he buckles and falls to his knees, the girl rushes forward to
catch him, but she crashes, blocked by the invisible barrier. She
bangs her fists furiously on the glass barrier and desperately
screams his name. He opens his eyes, but upon seeing her, he
immediately recoils, eyes flashing in remembered pain and anger.
His own scream is drowned out by the intensifying wind. She reaches
out her arm, trying desperately to break through the barrier.

"Isn't there a way through this hurt!?" she screams. "I told you
already, I won't give up!"

She has a brief vision of her arm reaching out to the sun, in a
sky swarming with vulture-winged Evas.

She blacks out from the onslaught of the dream.

The sound of the cello music, soothing, saunters slowly, discreetly
into the background, and into the shadows of her mind...

She wakes up struggling to breath around the pain in her throat.
And she sees him, his face contorted in grim agony. She raises
up her hand... past pain, uncertainty, relief... and touches him,
affectionately brushing his hair, carressing his cheek. Her
hand lingers on him, unwilling to let him go, and she gazes
longingly at him, afraid to blink, or to let go, lest he
disappear again.

He is real. She is real. The avalanche of emotions overwhelming

He opens his eyes wide, stunned to his core as he falls into her
eyes, and his grip loosens. His voice chokes, a shuddering croak.
Like fragments of a shattered looking glass barrier, warm copious
tears rain down from his eyes to her cheek. And the boy slowly
collapses in a convulsive heap, broken at last by the immensity
of his self-inflicted sin, terrified by the enormity of her
gesture and the gratuitous endearment in her eyes, and he falls,
shaking and sobbing piteously, over her still and wounded form.

She gazes up at a moon framed by a blood-red twilight sky.

They're on the beach, she realizes; the only sound other than the
boy's sobbing is the languoruous crashing, sighing and murmur of
the primeval surf against the shore. The sea breeze is cold, the
air crisp and clean, like something bought new.

She breathes it in, and ponders her condition. Her left eye is
covered in bandages, along with her entire right arm. Her battle
injuries from the white Evas. She feels the burning pain from her
wounds return, sharp and throbbing like a slow-burning fire in a
body now far too tired to move.

Is this reality, she ponders. A despairing thought forms in her
mind: "And if it is? Are we the only ones who survived? No..."

She looks back at the frail Third Child, still shaking with tears,
awash in his guilt, and afraid to face her. "What if his guilt
costs him his sanity again," she wonders anxiously to herself.

"...I feel sick..."

Silence. Darkness. She tries to say more, to reach out past
her pain, but falls asleep, her mind and body exhausted
beyond words.

(To be continued...)

Writer's Notes:
This ends "End of Evangelion." The next chapter of this story
is a post-EoE Epilogue.
"Promises To Keep" is taken from the Robert Frost poem
"Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening."