So, here's a different story for ya! Inspired mainly by Evangelion 3.0, the one and only Bob Marley and the storyReticence, it's something that's been bumping through my head for months now. Enjoy, review and criticize! OF course, I do not own Evangelion, I definitely do not own Bob Marley's genius work, so yeah!

Redemption Song

Chapter One: No Woman No Cry

There was a song in Shinji's SDAT he never listened to. Up until recently, he never even thought it existed in his limited mix-tape; he would usually go back and forth between tracks 24 and 26, never really allowing the small cassette to continue onto track 27. Alone, chained, with an explosive necklace around his neck and nothing but walls and a large observation window around him, Shinji forgot to rewind the tape for once in his life. Track 27 started to play, but he never realized it.

The cuffs were ever so slowly starting to bite into the soft flesh of his wrists, but he spoke no complaint. The former Third Child wondered for a moment if he was even capable of speaking properly anymore, but then remembered nobody gave a damn about it. He could die, his head could explode along with his weak, fleshy body and people would only celebrate his demise. For the first full minute of the song, Shinji was unaware of the sound slowly filtering through the ear-buds. Thinking about his own death made him relieve Kaworu's sacrifice again; for a second he was back at the Entry Plug and Kaworu was exploding in a gory spectacle of crimson in front of him.

Shinji blinked, breathing hard. Perspiration slowly leaked from his scalp, making it itch. The pain of the cuffs was to the point of suffocating, suddenly; the walls around him seemed to close off, the necklace felt like it was strangling him, and it all came crashing down.

The world despised him. Misato despised him. Asuka despised him. His own father despised him to the point of wanting to drive him insane. He had brought about Third and Fourth Impact due to his inability to cope with the trauma of loss and loneliness. Ikari Shinji was the most hated person in the world, and the one human being (or Angel) who had ever shown honest care and concern for him had exploded right before his eyes, in an attempt to save the mighty Third Child from destroying the world. Again.

The music never stopped playing, and Shinji never wondered at what point he had received his SDAT back, or why he was even listening to it in the first place. He remembered being dragged, slapped and smacked by Asuka, he remembered the Rei-clone watching their interactions with detached frivolity. He remembered Kaworu smiling at him, only to blow up in small chunks of dead flesh all over his half of the Entry Plug.

With barely enough time to reach the toilet inside the cell, Shinji fell on his knees and vomited pure, greenish bile over and over, until his stomach was absolutely empty and the gagging reflex stopped altogether. The SDAT never left his hand, and track 27 came and went without him ever noticing. He fell beside the toilet, cold shock making cold sweat drip off his body. When he blinked, Shinji saw Kaworu explode again, he felt Asuka's Entry Plug in his mouth, felt himself bite into it, into her. He felt the massive power of Unit 01 as it awakened, he felt the power of God, and he screamed.

Shinji screamed long and loud. There was no-one who cared, anyhow, no-one who would demand him to shut up. His punishment was perfect. All his life he had dreaded being isolated, being totally alone, while at the same time he longed for it as a drug addict longs for the next fix. Now he was alone, isolated, never to touch or speak to another human again. He was to be left alone until he died, with not one person to address half a word to him. So Shinji screamed, and screamed until he was hoarse, until his vocal cords gave out and he was left coughing and gasping for air.

"Oh, you don't get to die yet, brat. When your mind is in ashes, when you're so alone you can't stand the sight of yourself in the mirror that you do something for once, when everything you've done is healed in this dump of a planet, then, and only then, you'll have my permission to die."

Those had been the last words he had heard in four days, and Shinji wondered idly if Asuka would permit him to die now, now that he had lost everything. Alone, broken, with no voice left to scream, the boy allowed himself to cry freely and desperately. Bile, tears and snot leaked from his chin, but the SDAT never stopped playing.

Slowly, the song soothed something inside him, and his cries of despair turned into quiet sniffles, his broken mind found a tiny solace in the relaxing and melancholic sound of the song. He barely understood English, yet something about the way the lyrics were sung, something about the voice in the tape subdued him, like the Eva's embrace had so long ago. He stayed there, mind numb and body exhausted, he stayed by the toilet, knees drawn up to his chest as the song came and went. It took him more than a full minute to realize the music had stopped, since the last phrase was stuck in his head and kept repeating itself over and over again.

For once in his life, Shinji wished he had an English-Japanese dictionary, just so he could understand what the word ´Redemption´ meant.

The screen did not lie. The Major had always known it wouldn't take much time for the boy to crack, but four days seemed awfully brief, even for Idiot Shinji. She knew Misato had not spoken for two years after Second Impact, but this was different, it was not just coping with a traumatic experience.

Shinji's traumas were gaining on his sanity, he was slowly losing his grip on reality, slowly crawling back into his decaying mind to hide away from the pain and guilt and rage which consumed him. She tried to sound honest when she laughed at it, at him, but it never truly felt honest in her chest, and the snickering and laughter of the crew members only sickened her to her stomach and made her want to kick their teeth in.

Almost everyone in the WUNDER had taken his or her turn to watch the meek boy squirm in his own misery, some hovered over the screen to watch as he sat there, barely eating, barely breathing, barely existing, with a disturbed look in his eye, but Asuka discovered the laughter died quickly enough when he started to scream. They all had better things to do with their time, anyways. A big battle was coming, probably their last stand against NERV and the deranged Ikari Gendou, but most of them were only concerned with watching Ikari Shinji suffer.

It took a special type of personality to find pleasure in another person's pain, even if that person was Shinji. Behind her, the Major could feel the hungry look of the most vengeful members of the crew, she could feel as they enjoyed every tear, every scream, and wondered if they would be capable to physically torture Shinji just to make him scream louder, if it was possible. For four days his inaction and plain detachment had made those sick fucks giggle like schoolgirls, and whereas his pain made many of WILLIE disgusted, it had pleased part of the crew to a point. It was like their favorite TV show, their small victory over NERV. A memento, not a human being.

When he stopped screaming and started to cry, though, the interest of even the sickest ones waned over his weakness. His patheticness. His idiocy. All the things she had accused him of being for the past fifteen years. Crying simply made him human, and most of them could not afford to think of Shinji in such terms. She never had truly treated him kindly, she should be pleased most shared her former beliefs now.

There was no pleasure in her chest, however. She felt no joy, did not partake in any enjoyment through his pain. The anger, ever present in her, died off like a fire being put out when he screamed like that. The Major could not understand why it wasn't funny to her, why she even bothered to notice him anymore. He was a prisoner, forever to be left in isolation for his crimes against humanity, a criminal as bad as NERV. Yeah, right...She told herself over and over she had to hate him, hate him to the core and kill him like she had apparently indented when they'd fought, but her chest was empty. It was a lie, killing Shinji... it did not feel right. All she felt was a rotting, consuming sense of empathy and something she hadn't been able to figure out for fourteen years.

The Major did not know why she could just not hate Shinji properly like she had for years, but Asuka knew very well. He was just a boy, a brat. He hadn't been trained; he hadn't been given time to even absorb the horrors around him. Trauma after devastating trauma, she, Misato, NERV, SEELE and the world had managed to break him completely, to destroy any foundation of humanity and sanity within his young, unprepared mind. Fourteen years of Eva-induced sleep, only to wake into a world that despised him. Alone, completely and absolutely abandoned, left to carry the weight of Third and Fourth Impact on his shoulders. Chained, locked inside a cell with a disciplinary necklace like an animal, isolated from everyone around him, with nothing but his thoughts and his guilt.

Her hatred peaked. Poor, poor little Shinji, nobody took care of him, she thought viciously. Poor Shinji never had a chance, he's only too weak to act on his own. Her teeth ground together when she remembered the fight. You attacked me, Me! You almost blew us all to shit! Again! It felt hollow, though. Traitor, she thought, You turned your back on us. "You turned your back on me", a little voice whispered in her head. But why should he haved stayed, really? They had trated him like a criminal, like a misbehaved dog. What were they expecting? What could she expect from him, and why should she bother? She should just hate him some more.

It felt hollow. Hating Shinji felt hollow, useless.

So the Major stared stoically at the screen, wishing she could punch him to death, while a part of Asuka wished she could just scream at him like he had screamed at the walls, and another part of her longed to hold him, soothe him somehow, make his pain go away. It still hurt to see him in pain; it still hurt to know she had helped kill the one person who had been kind to her for no particular reason.

It still hurt to watch him and know he was even farther away, slowly drifting, drifting into insanity. And it still disgusted her to know she was still vulnerable, if only to him. By all rights she should hate him to the core, but when he screamed like that, when he cried so desperately and his pain and guilt were so obvious and apparent, she could not. It was like hating herself, and Asuka was tired of it.

So life in the WUNDER carried on, the fourth day since their salvage came and went, but the Major stayed when all other members of the crew left. Her only eye showed nothing but pure hatred, her mask was in place, so not one person questioned why she stayed. Mari mocked her, Misato reprimanded her, but all those things Asuka barely registered. She absorbed every detail, every frown and every tear and made sure they were genuine before she marched away into her quarters, where the dictionary was located.

In four days she had heard him utter two words, two words she understood very well, but knew he did not. So Shikinami Asuka Langley took out her English-Japanese dictionary, marked the pages where the words were located and marched over to the solitary cell of Ikari Shinji.

The words kept repeating themselves in her head, so she'd have an explanation from him, even if it took her beating him half to death to obtain it. What was the big idea behind them, anyway? They were just words, not even spoken in his mother tongue, but they seemed to make him better, make him calm. So she'd destroy it, or construct it, or build it over again, but Asuka and the Major would have their answers. The words felt like a song, something sad but reviving, something spiritual, if she believed in such nonsense, and it irked her to know he said nothing but those tiny meaningless words.

What the hell was a Redemption Song, anyway?


Well, this is a story I had in my head ever since I finished watching 3.0, so here it is! Going to be a short one, no more than five chaps, and it's a co-project I'm working on along with Scar Tissue. I like to diversify, so sue me. Thoughts, critics, reviews? All accepted!
Aaaaand to add a little more updates notes, yeah. This story will probably have about twelve chappies!