Boyfriend of Steel

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Chapter Forty-One: Welcome To My World (Part 2)

Chapter Forty-One

 

When Shinji finally gained some form of consciousness, he found himself wondering down the hallway of a school he was unfamiliar with.  Dazed and confused at first, looked all around him to try and get some clue about his current surroundings.


The school hallway was on the third floor of the building and there were large glass windows facing outside, while the hallway went on for some distance. Initially it didn't seem that much different from any other Japanese school, but Shinji could see other students dressed in uniforms and from that he knew it wasn't Tokyo-3 Middle School or anywhere else that he knew. The boys wore navy blue jackets with high collars and matching pants, while the girls all wore seifuku or sailor-type uniforms in navy blue and white, with pleated skirts and older style black loafers and socks.  Many of the girls wore their hair in braids with twin tails, which gave Shinji enough of a hint that it wasn't just where he was but also when he was that was important. 


He noticed that he himself was wearing the same navy blue uniform as the boys were, and as he drifted down the hallway none of the other students paid him any attention. On the side of one wall Shinji saw a poster for the upcoming graduation ceremony for 8th Graders of Meishi Preparatory Academy. From that, he could tell that his was a middle school like his was, and also that it was during the springtime. The date of the calendar was written traditionally as the Third Year of Heisei, which he knew to be 1991.


So this is 25 years ago, Shinji wondered, but where am I exactly? Old Tokyo? He turned to the windows on the left side of the hallway and looked outside. While the school itself was settled on comfortably green surroundings, with a brick wall to mark the outside gates, he looked beyond the school walls and out to the city and in the distance he could see a giant metropolis in the distance, in the center of which was a very tall red and white metal tower that vaguely resembled the Eiffel Tower in Paris, only now he knew he wasn't in Paris at all.  In various trees all around the school and city pink blossoms were seen blooming, their petals floating in a gentle wind.


That's Tokyo Tower from Old Tokyo, I recognize it from history books. That must be where I am. The Cherry Blossoms are all from Hanami, so it's definitely before Second Impact.  Before he could search out anything else in the old city, he felt the presence of another behind him. “Hi!” a cheerful voice called out.


Shinji slowly and carefully turned around to see who was behind him. Standing a meter away was a Caucasian girl with long, flowing blonde hair and blue eyes wearing the school's seifuku uniform. “Uh, hi!” Shinji said to the girl, not sure what to expect next.


“I haven't seen you around here before,” the pretty girl said to him in flawless Japanese. “Are you a transfer?”

“I guess you could say that,” Shinji replied nervously. As he spoke to her he also took a good look at her face. There is something just oddly familiar about her...


“Well, it must be really difficult to transfer in a month before the school year ends,” observed the blonde girl. “Did you get in trouble in your old school?”

“Um, it got destroyed,” was Shinji's quick response and just as soon as he said it he gasped, realizing he was being probably more honest than he should.

“Destroyed? Was there an earthquake?”


Shinji tried to think of a good answer fast. “No, um. It was...it was... Godzilla!” I couldn't think of anything else! Oh, God, of all the times to have a brain fart it's now.

 

The pretty blonde girl gave him a blank stare for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Oh, you're hilarious!” she said, smiling broadly, “and pretty cute too! What's your name?”

“Ikari. Ikari, Shinji!”

Another Ikari, huh,” the girl said to him. “Well, I'm Kyoko. Kyoko Zeppelin.”


Shinji gasped as he heard the girl's name. Asuka's mother.  “You're...you're from Germany, right?” he replied, struggling not to say anything else that might give away what he knew about her.

The pretty girl smiled, running her hand through her blonde hair. “Sort of obvious, isn't it?” he said with a twinkle in her eye. “Well, it's nice to meet you Mister Shinji Ikari. Are you doing anything after school today?”

“I...didn't have any plans!”

“Maybe you could walk me home then,” she said to him, twirling her hair in her hand. “We could, you know, get to know each other...”


Holy shit, Asuka's mother is hitting on me. Before Shinji could say anything to object another girl's voice came from behind Kyoto. “Zepp-chan?” Both Shinji and Kyoto turned around to see who it was and Shinji's mouth gaped open even further in surprise.


Standing in the hallway facing the two of them was another student. Dressed in the same uniform as Kyoto, she was slender and petite with brown hair that was cut short. Shinji saw her eye color and noticed that it was a purple haze, the same color of his own. Once he saw her face he then knew immediately who it was.


“Zepp-chan,” the other girl said to her with a soft voice. “He's mine today!”

Kyoto was miffed. “Class Rep! You never showed any interest in boys before!” She took a closer look at both of them. “Family relation?”

“You could say that,” the class representative replied.

“Oh well, it seems that I'm outranked. I'll catch you both later then.” Kyoto turned again to Shinji, stepping up to perhaps an inch of his face and with a broad smile affectionately grabbing onto once of his cheeks. “So cute!” she quipped again. “'Later, guys!” She then left Shinji and the class rep, making her way down the hall and then around a corner and out of sight. In another moment other students also left the hallway, with only Shinji and the other girl remaining. He turned to her and let out a deep breath.


“Mother?” asked Shinji.

The fourteen-year old Yui Ikari nodded, a gentle smile on her face. “Welcome to my world, Shinji.”



The two of them climbed up a staircase that lead to the top of the roof of the school building, talking as they went upstairs.

“So did Asuka’s mother and you really go to school together?”

“She was in Tokyo for two years, but only one here at Meishi. We weren’t really close friends at the time. I remember meeting her later on at GEHIRN when she came on the project, but I’ve never believed in coincidences and I don’t think that was one either.”


At the top of the staircase they entered the roof level through a small door at the top. They walked towards the railing at the edge of the roof itself. At the edge Shinji looked around and saw the city that surrounded the school, having a better view from here than he did on the hallway windows. Despite Old Tokyo’s immense size the city had a gentle air to it: to Shinji it didn’t seem as intense or vivacious as modern Tokyo-3 had been. “Wow,” he said to Yui. “Old Tokyo was big.”


“It was. Twenty million people lived here once.”

“I guess that’s really sad to know there’s just underwater ruins where most of this is now.”

“People living here had an innocent life before Second Impact. What happened afterward came as a horrible shock to them.”

“Where were you?”

“Fortunately both your father and my parents saw to my well-being during that year: I escaped the city just before it was destroyed. I was carrying you inside of me at the time.” Yui looked out at the city, colored by the pink blossoms of cherry trees scattered all around the school building.  “We didn’t have all of the modern conveniences you have now but people were happy then.”

“I guess the world really got screwed up by everything,” Shinji commented.

“It can be this way again, and even better” said Yui confidently. “All it takes is you.”

“No it doesn’t,” replied the boy in a morose tone. “I can’t do it anymore, if I ever could.”

Yui looked at him directly, and as she did so Shinji couldn’t help but see Rei when he saw her face. “After Third Impact you didn’t feel like that, did you?”

Shinji grimaced. “No, I didn’t,” he said. “I really thought things would get better. I mean, Misato didn’t die after all, and Asuka was there, and Father was gone, and then EVA wasn’t like it was before. We were fighting a real enemy, not just Angels, and we were all fighting together. I sort of liked it even.”

“Then what happened?”

“I screwed up,” he said, shaking his head. “People trusted me and I messed up, worse than before.”

 

Yui Ikari gazed along the landscape, smiling slightly as pink blossom petals blew by them both. “You tried living life on your own terms,” she said to him, “not just doing what others told you to do, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Did you expect that everything would go perfectly after you started doing that?”

“Well no, but not like this!”

“Other people aren’t just images,” said Yui, “they’re just like you. They have their own hopes and dreams and anxieties as well. Everyone lives in contradiction to each other, and their hopes can overlap on yours as well as the hopes of others that are close to you. You can’t please everyone in life, at least not at your own expense.”

“I guess I sort of freaked out,” the boy replied softly as he stared at the skyscrapers in the distance. “Things were okay until I went in Father’s old office again and it just brought everything all back, all of the bad stuff. I hate him so much!”

“Why?”

“Why? Why?! Because he could have done something! Misato told me about him being in Antarctica, the day before Second Impact happened. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a Second Impact at all if had just done the right thing! Or maybe he could have kept you from going into the EVA! It didn’t have to all be this way!”


Shinji was silent for a while as he glanced at the school grounds below him. “Sorry,” he finally said. Yui then looked up at him.


“It’s true your father made his own choices, but I did as well. I chose you. I choose to bring you into this world, and in doing what I did with EVA, I also chose you to pilot. That wasn’t your father’s idea.”

“But what father was doing with EVA, it wasn’t just about fighting Angels for him, was it?”

“No, it wasn’t. But he had a right to make decisions for himself, and that was what he decided. There were consequences to that decision however that he may not have considered.”

“He just made it worse for everyone,” muttered Shinji.

“As far as Second Impact goes, nothing either of us could have done would have prevented that,” said Yui. “But we knew if SEELE had their way humanity would not be better off. Instrumentality might have been a pleasant nothingness, but it wouldn’t be Heaven the way I’d like it to be.”

“Does humanity really deserve Heaven?”

“It’s not a question of they deserve it or not. If you love someone you want the best for them, even if you’re not quite sure yourself if they’d appreciate it later. If I wanted mankind to find real happiness, it wasn’t going to happen the way those Old Men wanted to go.  When we set out against SEELE, your father and old Futsuyuki and I, we couldn’t just find a way to stop them. We needed to find a way to bring out a better resolution. It was in that spirit that I brought you into EVA.”

“Why do that?” Shinji asked. “Why bring me into it?”

“I wanted a better future,” she told him. “And that wasn’t going to happen unless it was you who was going to make that choice. Putting you in EVA gave you that power, and shut the Old Men out. I knew if I could do that, if I could put humanity’s future in the hands of a child, my child, then all would be right in the end.  At the start your father was on board with that goal, but something happened that was unpredictable and I needed to be at one with EVA much earlier than I planned it. It was hard on you both.”

“It was. I missed you.”

“I know. You had to endure it, but at the end the payoff was there: you found love, and you learned how to love. That was what really mattered.”

“I messed that up too.”

“No you didn’t, not really,” Yui said to Shinji in a gentle tone.  “It’s true that you were challenged, but true love is something that can survive a challenge. I think you have that inside of you, even now.”

Shinji shook his head. “Honestly, I really don’t want to go out there again. I’d rather just stay here.”

Yui looked out at the city in front of them again. “Tell me about Rei.”


Shinji paused as he thought about Rei, and he couldn’t help but feel uplifted on having her in his thoughts. “Mother you should see her, really,” he said to her, a smile crossing his lips as he spoke. “It’s amazing just watching her, it’s like she’s growing up right in front of your eyes. There’s a certain sort of unique beauty to her. I’m really glad I know her, and sometimes it makes me happy to just watch her try all of these new things.” He turned to Yui, his previously sour mood being lifted with thoughts of Rei. “On top of all of that now she’s even in love,” he said, “and just watching her go through that seems so incredible.”


She looked at Shinji with a relieved smile on her face. “I'm glad. I remember the time Rei was inside of me, how confused she was when we contacted each other. From that I know that she’s quite conflicted inside, afraid that her destiny is to ultimately become me.”

“Is that what Father really wanted in the end?”

“No, to him Rei was always a pathway to his ultimate goal, but he never realized why she really came to exist. He’ll be lost until he does.”

 

“Rei should not worry about if she’ll ever become me,” continued Yui, “just by doing these small things she’s already overcome me.”

“What do you mean?”

“At this stage in my life I never had that sort of courage,” she explained. “I was happy with my studies and my goals of fulfilling my dreams, but back then I wasn’t the sort to challenge things like she does. Despite how difficult she feels it is for her she still struggles to reach out and contact others. In doing this she becomes herself and defines herself, even overcoming the implanted soul inside of her.”

“She’s always been strong,” Shinji observed.

“Yet she’s also very weak, and needs the support of others. She’s lonely inside, despondently so.  She needs you, and you need her too. That’s a need that won’t get fulfilled if you stay here.” Yui turned to Shinji. “She needs you to be there for her.”


The boy let out a deep sigh as he leaned on the railing. “I just don't want to do this anymore. I thought that after that last battle with the Harpies that it would finally be over. Now I'm afraid that this will never end. It'll always be EVA and nothing else.”

“You have to have the courage to win the war, not just fight the battles,” Yui replied. “Now that you're here, deep within the heart of the enemy, you're in the best position to strike. In doing that you can finish the conflict.”

“My EVA's been trapped, and I'm not at NERV. How am I going to get out?”

“Don't worry, it will be taken care of. Then your final moment of truth will arrive.”

He still had doubts. “I don't know if I can do it.”

“No one but you can,” Yui said. She then drew herself closer to Shinji, leaning her body against him and placing her head against his chest. “I never had a boyfriend during middle school or high school,” she said with a sigh. “I think it would have been nice to have one.”

“Mother!”

She looked up at Shinji and smiled. “I would have liked someone like you, very gentle but still very strong underneath.”

“I don't think I'm that way at all,” he said.

“But that's exactly like Asuka loves you. She sees the strength inside and wants that protection that you can provide.”


Shinji thought about what his mother was telling him. “I guess...I remember when she was in the hospital, when the Angel had gone into her mind and...messed her up inside. I saw her on that bed, she looked so helpless, so lifeless. I couldn't stand to see her like that. That's when I knew. That's when I knew I loved her.”

“And it was that which helped bring you back to defend her.”

“But I'm...I'm lousy at it! I mean at the Geofront I just let them take me at first, the Harpies, and it wasn't until they got bombed when I finally came free. I should have just gone out to fight them instead.”

“Yet you still were there at the end for her,” Yui encouraged. “You still found the strength to win.”

“That was you! It was your strength, not mine!”

“No, Shinji. As EVA-01's pilot your strength is always reflected through EVA. It's always been you, even in the beginning. Always.”

He hung his head in regret. “I...I can't go back to her now anyway,” he said with a sad tone of voice. “I did something that ruined it all.”

“You don't think she can forgive you?”

“I couldn't forgive myself. I didn't mean to kiss Mari, but I still did it. I deserve whatever happens afterward.”

“You'll find when two hearts are attached there's always hope, but both of you need to confront the truth in doing so. You'll never really grow up and become Shinji, the real Shinji Ikari, if you don't do this.”

“It will be painful.”

“That's what passion is. Everything in life that's worth attaining, especially love, is born of pain. Having you was painful,” she reminded him, “yet you came out perfect.”

“I'm hardly perfect.”

“Oh, yes you are. You are mine,” she said as she patted him on the chest, “and you are perfect to me, even if sometimes you're not.”

“What happens if I really go out again, one last time?”

“The rest of your life,” Yui answered, “and you get to find out who Shinji Ikari really is in the end.”

“Will you be there?”

“Always,” she said as she embraced him. “And I am always here inside of you.”

 

Shinji put his arms around Yui and held her tight, squeezing hard. “I have this feeling that I won't ever see you again like this , will I?”

“You're just on the edge of manhood,” she replied. “You need to cross that bridge, and I need to let you go for you to do that. But our time is right now. The end of all things, the beginning of all things in this world, the Alpha and Omega. It's now.”

“Okay.”

“Shinji?”

“Yes?”

“Be there for Rei.”

“I will.”

“And Shinji?”

“Yes, mother?”

“Forgive your father.  Please.”

He took a long, deep breath. “Ayan...Rei says that if I go the wrong way I'll become just like him.”

“I know. That's why I ask you. But if you can't forgive for your own sake, forgive him for hers.”

“In the end there's nothing that I won't do for her,” Shinji admitted. “I'll find a way, somehow.”

She looked up at him, her hand reaching up and gently caressing his face. “Then you're ready,” she said to him as tears welled up in her eyes. “My beautiful boy...my brave, brave beautiful boy!


Go to to Chapter 42