Boyfriend of Steel

A Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction site

Chapter Forty: Paradise Found

Chapter Forty

Rei drifted in the pool of LCL, her naked body floating inside of the warm orange liquid. She closed her eyes and tried to empty her mind of everything: all of her memories, all of her feelings, all of her pain. After the funeral she had sought solace in Terminal Dogma as she sometimes did before in the overflow pools of LCL that were in the deepest level of the GeoFront.


She wanted to forget. She wanted to forget what it was like to be with someone, what it was like to be touched and then want to be touched more. She wanted to forget what it was like to be warm in someone’s arms, hoping that the warmth of the LCL pool would be enough for her. She tried to just minimize everything in her mind like she could before and just listen to the silence around her, but she could not. She was different now, things were different now than before when she was just The First Child.


Rei couldn’t stop thinking about them. Patrick. Shinji. A week ago they were the pillars of her existence. Patrick, with his determination and optimism, was the one who had helped her learn to sail on an ocean of newly found freedom while Shinji, with his deeply felt concern and care for her, helped keep her safely along the shoreline. With Patrick she could fly, and with Shinji she could stay grounded, and with both of them in her world she could feel like herself for the first time.


Now they were gone, one accused of being a traitor and the other as being a fool. She knew neither was true but there was nothing she felt she could do now about it.


She pulled herself out of the LCL pool after what she calculated was a few minutes over two hours and wondered naked in the darkness of Terminal Dogma. She went to the Dummy Plug Plant first, even though she knew the old Doctor Foch would not be there. Rei still wanted the familiar feeling of the room she had spent so much time in. Entering the room Rei looked around and saw one new addition: in the tank where her other selves, or at least their bodies, had been kept she now saw only one body floating in the orange LCL and it was not a copy of hers. Mari Illustrious had been wrapped in bandages and was now drifting silently inside of the tank, in a place somewhere between life and death.  Rei looked at her face and saw that her eyes were closed. To her Mari looked peacefully asleep, blissfully unaware of her condition.


As the plant provided no comfort Rei left and walked down the long, dimly lit corridor towards the largest chamber in Terminal Dogma. She made her way down the long path, feeling a slight chill on the way there. It somehow wasn’t as warm as it was before with the Second Angel inside.


She reached the giant underground cavern and looked down past the steel platform and at the cross that was still standing on the far wall of the cavern. It was empty, of course. The white giant that had been nailed there came down when Rei, in defiance of the old commander, had merged with her. Together they had stopped the world from being destroyed but then she was now left here. It was by her own choice, she knew, and she remembered the hope that she had on that eventful day, that somehow everything would be different going forward.  It would be better than before, and she would no longer be alone.


It was a better world for a time and she knew she was happy, but none of it lasted and now she felt things were worse.  With nowhere else for her to go Rei walked to the edge of the platform where she had once stood and now sat down, hugging her knees in morose sadness as she could feel her heart plunge into the depths of her despair.


I wish I could cry but I cannot. Even in crying there is still the chance of happiness, but there is nothing here for me now.


“Are you thinking that you made the wrong decision?” A boy’s voice came to her and she turned around. Adam, again in the image of Kaworu, slowly walked to where she was sitting.


“I do not have a conclusion,” Rei responded, “but now things are not better than before.”


The boy stood right at Rei’s side. “How can you say that when you don’t know the alternatives?”


“The alternatives were that humanity could become as one, but each would lose their own self in the process,” said Rei, looking away from him. “We stopped that from happening, and everyone had the chance to live their own lives.”

“Did you not enjoy what chances you were given? Did you not find fulfillment among the Lillim?”

Rei nodded. “Yes. I found happiness. I had what I wanted, but I could not keep it. The conflict continues. Now things are worse. In the end I am still alone.”


Adam chuckled a little. “You’re so wrapped up in your little life here on Earth that you forget what happened that day,” he told her.

“If I had done what the commander wanted perhaps things would be better.” she asked.

“If you had done that you wouldn’t be Rei Ayanami anymore. That was your real wish that day, you wanted to be you.”

“It’s true, but then I would still have fulfillment of my purpose.”

“What is your purpose, exactly?” asked Adam/Kaworu. “To be just a placeholder for Shinji-kun’s mother?”

“It was for that I was created by the commander,” responded Rei with some sadness in her voice. “I could not escape this, even in this new world.”


The boy knelt down and looked Rei in the eyes, his dazzling red eyes meeting hers. “Let me show you something,” he said to her, “something that will give you hope.” He reached out his hand to her and she took it, and in the next instant they were somewhere else.


Standing on the shoreline of a red-colored ocean, Rei looked around her and saw desolation. The land they stood on was ashen grey, devoid of features and misshapen as if a sandstorm or a volcano had hit everything. The ocean itself was still with an eerie calm while gentle waves of red water lapped at the shoreline. She looked above them and saw a sky full of stars, many more than were normally seen at night over Tokyo-3.  The moon was there also, but there was a giant scar of red on its surface as if someone had sliced it with a knife and blood had dripped out.


As she continued to take in their surroundings Rei saw the giants around them. Odd crucifixes in the distance, each with a white, EVA-sized giant that was twisted and contorted affixed on them. She took a closer look at one of the monuments and saw that it's face was not that of the Mass Production series, but was instead in an image of her own. Her eyebrows raised high as the realization of what the now-dead giants might have been.


“What is this place,” she asked Adam.

“Earth,” he replied, “after Third Impact.”

She spotted other crucified giants in the background and from their fate realized in her mind what transpired. “The Harpies attacked here, too.”  Adam nodded.

“They did. Once they had Lillith's offspring, Unit 01, they let loose their Anti-AT fields and then tried to unmake the world.”

“But they did not succeed.”

“No, at the very bottom of the pit of his despair, the Third Child cried out for us. We gave him the chance to set the world as he wanted...”


Rei took a few steps forward as she continued to survey the destruction, still not quite believing what she was seeing now in front of her. “Ikari-kun wouldn't really want this,” she told Adam. “He wouldn't choose solitude and devastation, not at the end of things.”

“At first, yes,” Adam told her. “At the first moment he did choose for all things to end. At that moment he had lost both of us, and every other person who mattered to him. His heart was filled with such blackness that he himself wanted the entire world to be unmade.”

 “But then you came to him,” the boy explained. “released from your shell you found the missing parts of yourself with Lillith and with the offspring of Lillith, and once complete you gave him the solace he needed for him to recover. Your love brought him back from hell itself, and then he made a new choice.”  Adam pointed in the distance, and Rei saw what he was meant.


Far in the distance, upon the ashen shoreline of the red ocean were two figures. They were sitting down on the shoreline, leaning on each other. One of then was dressed in bright red and Rei immediately recognized who it was, as well as the other who she was leaning against.


“Shinji-kun,” she gasped. “Shinji-kun and the Second!”

“They're alive here,” Adam told her. “It was his first wish for this new world, for her to be the one he would share it with.”


Rei's heart lifted upon seeing Shinji alive and with Asuka, she couldn't help but feel happy at seeing he had still come out of all of the brutal destruction of Third Impact. As she saw where the faraway couple was sitting, she still fell back into despair.

“But...this world has nothing left for them,” she told Adam. “Everything is destroyed.”

“They have all they need,” he replied, “this world will be enough, and they will never want for more.”

“How is that possible?”

“Because a little bit later after they found each other here, this is what happened next!” Adam dramatically gestured to the distance with his hand and then Rei watched as the whole landscape seemed to glow with golden light.


“The LCL that came from the merger of Lilith and all of her offspring gave nourishment to this world,” he explained as the night sky started to become brighter, “and from that nourishment sprung forth life. Behold!”


As the sun came up from the horizon Rei looked up at the landscape and suddenly ashen gray dust was replace with gently sloping hills of green. Trees sprung up, rising rapidly in the sunlight as branches covered with leaves produced forth, and fruits of all kinds appeared all over them. All over the ground came a variety of flowers in a brilliant rainbow of colors, and rivers of red water gently prodded forth through the ground, merging with the red ocean.


Astonished, Rei searched around the new landscape as she sensed that there was more, and there was: two rabbits jumped out of the grass, rapidly hopping through the small slopes. She saw one deer, and then another, coming out from behind one of the now giant trees in front of her. A squirrel appeared on the tree branch, scampering down and onto another and then again out of sight. As Rei sensed all that was around her she closed her eyes and listened to the song that the new world was now singing, and it came to her as a joyful symphony of nature wild and free and released from the burdens of the old world. She felt her own toes on the cool ground and the sensation from touching the earth that spread all inside of her. It made her happy just to feel it, and she could feel her own burdens of sadness and despair lifted from taking in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the new environment around her.  Adam, with a serene look on his own face, walked besides her as she started to explore everything that she saw.


She knelt down to look at a white flower that appeared to be a giant daisy, and then noticed right next to it was a rose. Large yet delicate and beautiful in its intricate folds, she saw the rose and noticed especially it's color. It was blue. On the realization she arose from the ground and looked at Kaworu.


“A blue rose is not from nature,” she told him.

“It is,” he answered, “if the nature of this world comes from you.” Adam motioned with his hands all around him. “This is your world, the world that you created.”

“I am not in this place,” Rei told him.

“Ah, but you are this place! You are everything in this place! Everything that gives life ultimately comes from you, or instead what you became.” 


Before she could ask Adam something else they heard a sound beyond the trees and both of them looked towards the source. Behind the slope of a hill in front of them they could hear the sounds of young voices, and they were laughing.


A moment later four figures came running over the hill and rushed through the trees. Rei looked at each one of them. Young children, naked and free, running and jumping and swinging on tree branches and smiling, laughing as they played and ran in front of them. Their skin appeared beautifully soft, their hair, colored black, brown, red, and yellow, all flowed behind them in long streams. Two of them were boys and two were girls and all of them seemed incredibly happy to be there.


As the group of children crossed a small stream one of them turned and saw Rei and the boy. She appeared as maybe six years old with flowing red hair and dazzling blue eyes. Like the others, the girl wore no clothes and without any inhibition she looked at the two strangers curiously, as  Rei looked back at her in equal curiosity. She was about to approach the two when she heard a sound and turned her head, and then realizing that she was falling behind the group as they moved through the forest the young girl then just smiled, jumped over the stream and then ran through the tall grass to catch up with the others. In another few seconds the group of children was out of sight.


Rei looking over the hill where the children had just climbed over as the sounds of laughter died down.”This was Shinji's real wish,” she said to Adam. “He wanted the world to be new again, and for him to be in it.”


“Once he knew what he really wanted then all things became possible,” the boy said to her. “But to make it possible a sacrifice was needed.”

Rei looked at Adam. “That sacrifice was us.”

He nodded in confirmation. “It was.”

 

“If I had to serve such a purpose as this it would be worth any amount of suffering,” said Rei in realization, looking at the beauty around her. “If everyone could have such a life as this, to be free as this, if the cost was my own life...my own self, even, it would be okay. I would pay it. Even if it meant I could no longer be me.”


“I know,” said Adam. “And God himself did not forget that.”


“I did not make the right decision,” she told him with some sadness in her voice. “In the world where I live in now, I was selfish, and choose to be myself instead of this. Everyone suffers as a result.”


“That's not what happened at all,” replied Adam. “This world,” he said as he again motioned at the paradise around them, “this is the original world. When Shinji made his choices using the full, unbound power of the Evangelion, at that moment the universe itself shattered.” Rei looked at Adam curiously as he continued. “Shinji's universe was split into thousands of pieces, each with its own way of allowing him to live and make his choices. Not all of them were as dramatically transformed as this. Some places were just made up of him living simply, with those that he wanted to be with. Others were radically different, set in different times, different places. But each of them was a place for that part of himself to live his life as he did in this first one, to explore each and every choice he could make.”


“He became as God is,” said Rei.


“Rather that God became a part of him,” corrected Adam. “And through him, a part of everything else in this universe. Such was his fate, by choosing this new world with the Evangelion.”


“So the world that I live in now is a segment of that universe,” Rei grasped, “this is one of the alternative universes that he created.”


“Yet even then it's not that simple,” said the boy. “The world you live in is different in one important way. When Third Impact happened, you touched Shinji one last time and it was afterward that you unmade yourself to give birth to the world that you now see around us. In those final moments however, his heart went out to you. All of his wishes for you, all of his hopes for the one named Rei Ayanami, that you would have the chance to learn to love and laugh and smile and dance and explore, that you would grow up and even have your own children and live your own life…that world is the one you live in now. It is for you that it exists.”


She pondered what Adam was telling her. “I can see how that can be true.  I felt all of those things, like I was given happiness,” she said, trying to smile, “I wanted a life beyond what I could only do with EVA. Even so those things will not be possible any longer: that world has now changed for the worse, and happiness fell out of it.”


The boy stepped in front of her, his red eyes gazing into hers. “Real happiness can’t be given to you,” he said. “You have to learn how to take it for yourself!”

 

He explained it further. “You still entered this world with the habits of the old one, trying to be part of someone else’s life and finding a purpose there. Whether it was with Shinji, or your Forri-kun, or even the Commander, you still wanted to be part of someone else’s world. But you can’t find your true purpose, your true happiness, without accepting that you have to be happy for yourself. You can love others, yes, but you must also learn to love yourself. That’s why you’re there.”


Adam looked at Rei but she said nothing to him as she considered all that he had said and all that she had seen. She searched her heart for the answers she was seeking. She wanted Forri, she wanted Shinji, but she also wanted something else more and that was herself.


“You can’t truly stand for others until you accepted and stand for yourself, as flawed or as dysfunctional as you are,” Adam told her. “Once you can do that, then you need only grasp the world in your hands, and then all will be right. But you must find the courage to do so, or else the world, and those that you love, will slip through your fingers.”


Rei nodded in understanding. “To get them back I have to find my own way in doing it.”

“Yes,” said Adam, “and along the way you will need to confront your own fears of who and what you really are once and for all. Even so, there’s no guarantee of what will happen.”


“I know it,” she said, “but at least I can try.”


The boy smiled. “Then you’re ready to go forward.”  As he finished the new Earth, the paradise around them disappeared, and then Rei found herself back at the platform in Terminal Dogma, standing alone and facing the empty crucifix. She looked at it and then felt around her neck the small silver cross necklace that was also there. Rei had always wondered why she decided to wear the necklace but now she knew, and it gave her the confidence to go on with what needed to be done. With peace in her heart and her mind, she turned around and began to walk to the doorway at the other side of the platform.


Go On to Chapter Forty -One