Creation began on 10-28-17
Creation ended on 12-01-17
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Evaflowne: We carry on
He seemed so different from the last time she saw him over a year ago before he left after doing what he did to mend the planet back to its previous state of rotation, allowing for the people to reclaim their lost terrain and rebuild their cities and towns. It wasn't just the new arm and the sight of his wife and three children. No, to Asuka, Shinji just seemed to have something that he hadn't known anywhere else here because of the excessive attacks from the Angels or his neglect and exploitation by his parents: A sense of peace.
"Hey, Shinji," she greeted him on the patio.
"Hey, Asuka," he responded. "How have you been?"
She leaned back against the patio balcony, looking at the inside of Misato's apartment, seeing Shinji's twins continue to play with Pen-Pen whilst his wife was seeing if their youngest son was mature enough to walk on his own yet. It was still hard to believe that Shinji had gotten married and had a family in the other dimension he ended up in, but Asuka couldn't raise her voice against what he did to survive, even if she had been initially miffed at how any girl would want anything to do with him.
"Nice family," she confessed, meaning it.
"Thank you," he accepted. "They mean everything to me."
"It's good to see you again, you know."
"Likewise with you three."
As Ummi watched their son try to stand on his own, she turned to look at her husband, smiling at him.
"Ga-ga-wah!" Seikatsu gurgled as he took a step forward, but not to his mother.
"Uh-oh," she said as most eyes were on Pen-Pen now, as he was who Seikatsu was trying to walk towards. "If he can take more than five steps, that's the farthest he'll have gone."
Hiroko and Taki backed away from the penguin as their little brother took his second and third step towards the flightless bird.
"Yap," Pen-Pen chirped in confusion, unsure if he should be annoyed or intimidated by the infant.
Seikatsu then took his fourth and fifth steps…followed by three more…and fell onto Pen-Pen.
"Gah!" He gurgled again.
"Looks like he likes you," Ummi told the bird, "and he's three steps ahead of walking on his own now because of you."
"Bravo," went Rei, applauding the baby for walking a little further than before.
Even if she knew that her son and his family were back in this dimension for a short time, Yui knew better than to try and approach them. There was the fear Shinji's wife displayed towards the very idea that she would hurt their children with her beliefs that had no place in Aratana Hajimari, since metaphysical biology and bio-engineering had no foundations in what used to be Zaibach, instead focusing on what helped people rather than cause misfortune. And even Shinji had been worried for their children if Yui had ever been left alone with them, which, when shared with an equally-concerned Evaflowne, who was just as distrustful of the woman who once existed as the soul of the former Evangelion, this was all that was needed for the choice to make sure Yui was sent back to the other dimension once Evaflowne had gathered the necessary energy to travel from one world to another and maintain a link to anchor the evolved Eva and its operator to the new point of origin.
Of course, I could try and contest this decision that Shinji and Ummi made, she thought, looking up at the sky, but I couldn't change the way he looked when Evaflowne backed up their concerns about any potential influence I might've had on their twins. In the end, bringing me back here was more of a benevolent means to exile me from a place that had no need for something as extreme as Instrumentality or NERV.
It felt like exile to her, too. No Evas, no agency needed to study or create Evas, not even a legacy regarding the Evas. All she would be remembered for…is bringing her own family to ruins and creating something that was going to be used to destroy the world in one sense and remake it in another sense, and what relations she did have left were either in jail with no hope of parole or from another world and just visiting this one because of a choice made by a man that was once from here. Not really a legacy she was proud of…but one that existed only because she made a choice that carried repercussions she didn't anticipate on ever happening…and her son ending up in a place she never thought was possible outside of simple imagination…and she would simply fade out of memory in a few years to come.
"…So…Evaflowne? Really?" Asuka asked Shinji, looking at the dragon-esqued Evangelion that, against all logic, now stood outside Misato's building. "A mind of its own?"
"His own," he explained. "In place of the former soul that was my mother's, the soul of the dragon known as Retribution resides within Evaflowne. A lot happened when I fought Retribution to protect the people."
Even in its dragon form, Evaflowne had an aura of intimidation upon it. As it laid on the back hill behind the building, the enhanced Evangelion looked as though it could come to life in an instant and either take off or attack.
"He actually looks more powerful than an Eva," Asuka confessed.
"Only because he has the strength of people's hopes in place of some source of electricity or a nuclear reactor. Not that those would've been acceptable, of course."
"It defies all logic."
"Not everything relies on logic."
"I believe you. I've seen what the two of you can do."
"Ga-ga-wah!" Asuka and Shinji heard his youngest son as he hugged the redhead's left leg. "Bah!"
"Eh-heh-heh!" Ummi giggled, clapping her hands for Seikatsu. "He likes you and Pen-Pen."
Asuka looked at Shinji with a look of confusion and pointed down at Seikatsu.
"He wants you to pick him up," he explained, recognizing the look on his son's face.
"Me? But I'm not good with kids."
"Maybe you should let Seikatsu be the judge of that assumption."
Asuka gave in and bent down to pick up the baby boy.
"Wah!" Seikatsu gurgled, reaching out to hold strands of Asuka's hair…and put them in his mouth.
"Uh…" Asuka reacted.
"He really likes you, Asuka," Shinji told her.
"How do you and Ummi handle three kids?" She asked him.
"It's not easy, but we adjust. There's no instruction manual, no how-to guide, just one day at a time."
"But…it must be crazy sometimes."
"Only sometimes, but it's a crazy that comes with the role of being parents. Nobody's perfect."
"Gah! Wah!" Seikatsu went, as if backing up his father's response on nobody being perfect.
"I get the feeling that he understands us," Asuka told Shinji.
"He gets his perception from his mother. They all get their perception from their mother."
Then, simply because she was unsure of when they would just up and leave, Asuka asked Shinji, "It's none of my business, but how long will you and your family be visiting here?"
"Oh, we're likely to be around for at least a month or so," he answered. "There's no danger, so there's no reason to cut short their visit here."
Every day, it was the same nightmare, again and again. Waking up to six-by-eight prison cell with no window and only the meager necessities afforded to him. Such was the fate of any spending life without parole…and such was the fate of Gendo Ikari after he was exposed by his son's box of truth, revealing all that was kept hidden from the world he restored to its previous state and sentenced to solitary confinement. But today, someone from the world outside had slipped under the locked door to his cell a piece of paper that had something written on it. He picked it up and read it, discovering what was new going on out there in the world that would forget about him in due time.
On the paper, news about the boy he had abandoned and exploited for his own purposes had returned after a year away and brought his family with him for a month-long trip so that they could see the changes that occurred after the planet had been fixed.
A picture slid under the door a moment later, and Gendo saw the Third Child's family from another world, made bigger by the addition of a third child being cradled in its mother's arms. The picture was dated four days ago…and taken three days after this family had arrived in Japan.
Oh, how Gendo felt cheated out of his own goals by his son and the Eva that once took his wife from him. But there was nothing he could do about any of it.
"Shinji," he uttered in his cell, "you traitor!"
"Hmm?" Shinji went, distracted from the sight of the ball his twins threw at him. "Omfph!"
The ball hit him in his chest and knocked him off his feet.
"Daddy, Daddy," went Hiroko as she and Taki ran over to their father. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he told her. "Taki, you threw harder than last time."
"But you got distracted," his son defended.
"I thought I heard someone say my name."
As the three resumed playing catch, they were watched by Ummi, Misato, Rei and Asuka from a nearby bench in the park they were in.
"I never thought that Shinji would ever have kids of his own someday," Misato confessed to Ummi.
"And he was gone for how long you thought he was dead? Two, three weeks? That's like, a lifetime to do many things that a previous life spent elsewhere didn't provide," Ummi told her as she held her sleeping son in her arms. "He really missed you three above most of the others he knows here. People that had some impact on him and his choices. Sometimes, he cried in his sleep at night. Not happy about all aspects of his past, but not looking to forget about those that were part of it."
"But he never said anything about it when he returned last year."
"He and Evaflowne wanted to prevent the end of this world; Shinji couldn't pretend that everything was fine when there were people out to end all living things and he had people that waited for him to come home. He did, however, had hope that you would all be able to move on when they healed the planet. He's glad you did."
"Question," went Rei, having a curious thought. "How did you and Ikari-Kun meet?"
Ummi looked down at Seikatsu and answered, "It was after the first time he fought Retribution. I was helping with everyone that got hurt by the dragon. Shinji was recovering from his left arm being broken and mended and I was replace his bowl of water when it got dirty. I found out that he drove the dragon away with his giant suit of armor, gave the people the first ray of hope they've had in centuries, thanked him for saving us…and then everything else just started falling into place. I didn't even have a crush on him back then. I just felt grateful that he helped us."
"He became your hero," Asuka stated.
"He became everyone's hero."
"Omfph!" They heard Shinji grunt as the ball hit him on the chest, knocking him to the ground again.
"Taki, you knocked him down again!" Hiroko complained.
"Oops," her brother expressed.
"I'm okay," Shinji told them as he got back up. "Maybe we should play with a Frisbee now."
"Frisbee! Frisbee!" Hiroko cheered.
The ladies looked on as Shinji and the twins switched from playing with a ball to playing with a disc.
It was quite a long trip for the family. At least two months instead of one month worth of excitement around the entire archipelago that had been recovering immensely well in one year's time since the planet was rejuvenated. During that time, Shinji had been able to show his family many of the nation's rural areas and scenery without trouble. And for Shinji himself, he definitely felt more alive in that time here than he ever had during his early childhood and early teens.
But, sadly, they needed to return back to Gaea. It was a minor heartache for the twins, but Ummi promised that they would come back at a later time…and Shinji backed up her promise with one of his own that he would stick by.
Less of a proposition and more of a gamble, but a choice Shinji never wanted to regret with Evaflowne when he spoke with Misato, Asuka and Rei prior to returning to Gaea. Just because the feeling of being home had switched over to a place an entire universe away from the one he used to reside in, that didn't mean he wanted to detach himself from the people that he would've given up his other few body parts to protect. As he walked down the streets of one of Aratana Hajimari's larger neighborhoods, the sound of a familiar voice committing to an old pastime was heard that made him chuckle in reminder of how the people here in the kingdom reacted to the visiting masses.
"Yeah! These drinks are the best!" He heard Misato as she was divulging in drinking beverages that, while hardly considered alcoholic, made her somewhat tipsy. "Better than that Yebisu brand that I used to drink! Hit me one more time."
Oh, that's going to bite me in the neck one day, he thought.
Shinji had made a proposition to the Japanese government that would permit the people of both Earth and Gaea to periodically visit one another for brief or extended periods. This would also help improve medical and energy research between the two worlds.
This…was at least four years ago…and was still stable.
"It feels like being in Tokyo," he heard a young woman say to someone else, "but more serene…and less noisy."
"Like a kaleidoscope of sorts," added another woman, indicating that they were visiting from Earth.
"Shinji?" The king stopped walking and turned to his right, seeing a blunette girl that appeared to have a tan. "How do you do?"
It was Rei, also visiting the kingdom, dressed in a summer yukata that sported a white flower theme.
"I'm doing fine, Rei," he answered her. "How do you do?"
"I'm doing great."
Suddenly, time just seemed to stand still for a moment, and Shinji, wondering why, felt an usual presence nearby. He turned around to see what it was…and saw a path of light leading towards a white horse with a horn on its head, carrying a young man that seemed to embrace violence…but had the most frightening feature to him: He looked just like Shinji when he was a teen, only detached from his emotions and everyone.
"Not now," he uttered to the king, "but one day in the future, your aid will be needed. It will be a matter between one and all. All I ask of you…is that you hold true to yourself and what you cherish above your own life. We shall meet again one day."
Then, just as the horned horse rode off with its rider, time resumed, as though it never stopped.
"Shinji?" Rei asked.
"It's nothing, Rei," he told her; he didn't want to worry about what wasn't going to happen just yet, since he wasn't sure wasn't even sure what was going to happen. "Just a brief daydream."
"How happy I am right now."
It wasn't really a lie, since he was very happy with the way things were now. He would sometimes see Toji and Kensuke during their visits (even though he had to warn them once or twice about eyeing Ummi simply because she was attractive to their eyes), he had spoken with the former sub-commander who had gone back to his previous profession, found out that a former faux-blond had developed an interest in alternate energy research, how the Class Rep. had been dating a jock with a large appetite, and now he was on his way home to be with his family, whom his children were playing with their favorite redhead at the moment. If there ever came a day where he would have to do something that was just as important as what he did in the past, all he hoped for were that he would have the aid of Evaflowne…and that they would have all that mattered most waiting for them in the end. But for now, the former pilot of Evangelion Unit-01, the first King of Aratana Hajimari, and a married man and father of three would simply do what he did with a happy heart: He would carry on.
Kneeling down in its chambers, Evaflowne had, at around the same time as its operator, detected the unusual presence that, while disturbingly familiar, didn't belong. Maybe it would be another year…or even five or ten years in the future, the Dragon of Angels would be needed once more to perform new miracles for people. But for however long that unknown time and its reason were, Evaflowne, its draconic soul touched to its very depths with humanity and humility, would stand by its operator, its king, its partner, to the ends of time…and carry on. In the end, they would all carry on.
Thank you, Evaflowne, it heard Shinji's across the kingdom.
In the silence of its chambers, a voiceless voice, no sense of a personality, no hint of gender, no trace of anything to ground it by, responded with the most human of responses.
You're welcome, Shinji, the voice said, and Evaflowne's eyes glowed green for a moment…and then returned to darkness.
A/N: Well, I'll end it all here, but will say that this story, like several of the other stories written, interconnect with one another. Any guesses to who that guy on the horse was? And do you suppose Evaflowne will be back to perform another miracle or two for people? Happy holidays.