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Dazed And Confused (NGE Peggy Sue fic)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by SeptimusMagisto, Sep 27, 2011.

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  1. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    There was no hope.

    Shinji and Asuka lived in the empty, deteriorating Japan on the shore of the lifeless red ocean. They had food and water, they had enough magazines and tapes to last a lifetime, and they had each other. But they had no hope for the future. Whatever either of them believed about Adam and Eve, they agreed that the human race couldn’t start over from a pair of broken people like them.

    This wasn’t exactly what you’d call ‘life.’ At best it could be called existence. Perhaps even duration if you were feeling uncharitable. Two people having a not entirely unpleasant time, waiting for eventual death and with it the extinguishing of the human race.

    It was really alright except for the existential angst.

    There was plenty of that to go around, though. Shinji couldn’t escape it if he tried. The desolate, lonely landscape of crumbling city blocks and crimson waves was an ever-present reminder of the Third Impact. By now grass had begun breaking through the pavement and the cats and dogs that managed to break out of their apartments were creating a kind of ecosystem. In a decade or two the metal around the city would corrode and Tokyo-3 would probably crash through into the remains of the Geofront. The other cities would have a more dignified death, slowly crumbling and overgrowing and remaining as features of the background for a long time to come.

    Shinji didn’t like to think about the cities. He didn’t really like to think about the ocean, either. But he came to the shore most evenings, just around the time the sun set. That way he could pretend that the red-orange waves were supposed to look that way and not think about the bodies that colored it. He could pretend that the wonderful, chaotic, joyful and terrible world that produced him still existed and that if he just turned around and walked he would eventually come to Misato’s apartment and find her still there. And he could visit the Geofront and see Rei and even his father and literally anyone other than himself or Asuka.

    Shinji picked up a pebble and tossed it at the ocean. Predictably, the pebble failed to bounce and sank the moment it touched the surface.

    “Why did it all turn out like this?” he asked the universe.

    There was no answer save for the lapping of the waves against the rocks.

    “It shouldn’t have been like that. We won. Against the Angels, we won!”

    Shinji was well aware that he was talking to himself. That didn’t bother him, since trying not to do that would cut down the number of potential conversation partners in half.

    “What was I supposed to do?”

    The answer was obviously literally anything other than mope in a corner. But Shinji retained enough objectivity to know he’d been broken back then. He refused to accept the whole thing as his fault.

    But it still hurt.

    “I could do it now,” he complained. “If I had another chance, I would do it all much better. We wouldn’t be so alone.”

    Shinji threw another pebble. It sank again.

    “I wish I could go back. Go back and change it.”

    In front of Shinji the red ocean rose.

    The waves swirled and boiled and rose up and up and up. The Tang shed water on its way up, slowly coalescing into a gargantuan figure as Shinji’s panicked screaming subsided.

    With a distinct squelching noise, the red fluid turned blue, forming into a blue two-torsoed giant. he grinning faces of Rei and Kaworu stared down at him with eyes the size of Tokyo-3.

    Shinji seriously considered resuming screaming.

    Hands with fingers like the mountains stretched forward to grasp Shinji. At that moment an appalling realization crashed its way into Shinji’s mind: his wish was being granted. The collective human consciousness that once wore the Tang as its bodies was not quite uniform. Certain parts of its mind were dominant. And those parts loved him very much.

    “H-hi!” he said.

    And then there was singing. Shinji was all but pressed into the ground by the sheer force of three billion voices singing the familiar words of the Ode of Joy, most of them going just far enough off-key to make the words indistinguishable. The massive fingers stopped, their shadow turning day into night.

    The featureless surface of one of the giant’s finger shuddered, then formed a lump which grew into a tentacle about as thick across as Shinji’s torso. It extended towards him with only a slight deviation from course here or there to add some curves.

    “Can you really take me back?”

    The tentacle grew arms and a face to turn into the face of Rei Ayanami, intimately familiar to Shinji except for the mad grin it wore, a twin of the giant face far above.

    “Hi, Rei,” it said something about Shinji’s life that this felt like return to familiar territory.

    She extended a slim hand, about the size the real Rei would be expected to have. It seemed comically small compared to the one Rei herself was attached to.

    “I won’t run away, Rei. Never again.”

    Rei patted his hair. Then she grasped his hand with her own and pulled him close.

    “Um, Rei? You understand what I want, right? I want to go back, not become one with you. Are we clear on that?”

    Rei hugged him more tightly and let her arms fuse together behind his back.

    “Rei? Kaworu?”

    The giant hand above began moving.

    Shinji decided to assume he was being understood and tried to remember the first thing he’d said to his father. It would probably be a bad idea to seem out of character.

    The acceleration of the ascending hand continued to build up. With a single motion Shinji was being lifted above the atmosphere proper and into the realm of satellites and cosmic rays.

    At the point of maximum ascent Rei’s lips mouthed the word ‘bye.’ Or possibly the words ‘good luck.’ Or any words, really. Shinji was never great at lip reading, and the situation wasn’t making it any easier.

    And then Rei let go and Shinji was a twinkle in the sky.
     
  2. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Joined:
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    Interesting start.
     
  3. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

    Joined:
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    Chapter 1: What's wrong?

    The first thing Shinji noticed was the feel of the telephone in his hand.

    The second was the sound of the cicadas.

    And then he started giggling.

    He remembered today.

    Today was the day it all began. In a couple of seconds the telephone would be incredibly unhelpful. In a couple of minutes he would be picked up by Misato. Then there would be the N2 mine – he’d have to remember to dodge that, it would just be embarrassing to die that way after getting this far – and then he would confront his father and fight the Angel.

    He could see these events as clearly as the buildings around him. He could feel Time as surely as the telephone in his hand. And when he looked into the distance, he could see other events. He could see Asuka’s arrival, Misato’s promotion, and being praised by his father; likewise he saw Asuka’s mindrape, Toji’s body being broken, Rei’s death, and finally the end of all things sitting at the very edge of Time, like a blood-red horizon of pain and confusing symbology.

    Obviously some of these events weren’t going to happen this time around if he could help it. He wouldn’t follow the same road. He could take different turns, skip dangerous dead ends, and once he got close to the end of the road he would skid sharply away. And the journey wouldn’t end at the horizon. Instead the new road would lead to a brighter place. A place where Asuka, Rei, Misato, Toji, and even his father were all alive and undamaged. A place where he wouldn’t have to face his failure every day.

    That was the plan, anyway.

    ***​

    “Please, Shinji.”

    This was not part of the plan.

    Up until now it had been going well. He met Misato just like last time and played dumb. He successfully avoided getting vaporized by the explosion and ended up at the base.

    Things began getting a little weird from there on out. He’d been trying to think of a way to subtly redirect Misato so that they wouldn’t spend precious time wandering around the Geofront, but she headed in precisely the right direction all on her own.

    At the time it hadn’t seemed so bad. He was sure that as hard as he tried, several of the words in his conversation probably got mixed up, so things were already changing. Maybe something he said just jogged Misato’s memory. Or at least that’s what he told himself.

    The part that came next should have been straightforward. He remembered this moment very well – the first confrontation with his father in years. The first time he’d ever agreed to pilot an Eva. It was perfectly crystallized in his mind. And he’d spent most of the trip figuring out ways to change it. He needed to keep sounding like Shinji Ikari, but he figured he could get away with a lot of backtalk. It would be good to establish a more assertive personality early on so that when he began to really change things later on in the timeline it wouldn’t look suspicious.

    Well, the conversation was being changed, alright, but it wasn’t from his end.

    “Shinji, if you don’t pilot the Evangelion, we won’t survive. I hate to ask this of you, but if you don’t help us, we will all die. All humans everywhere will be dead. Can you really let that happen?”

    Father?

    It was a dumb thing to say, but Shinji was stunned enough to not care. This was not at all how the conversation went last time. Gendo Ikari was asking him to do this. Not assuming that he would do it, not trying to cow him with force of personality alone, just asking.

    This would be kind of nice if Shinji wasn’t going into total panic mode. He was sure he hadn’t done anything to warrant a total change in his father’s demeanor yet. He’d been looking forward to using future knowledge to outmaneuver Gendo, but that didn’t work if the future suddenly went and changed on him.

    “We have only one other pilot. And she…well, you’d better see for yourself.”

    At least one thing hadn’t changed. His father was still a master of emotional blackmail. Shinji watched Rei being wheeled in, unmoving and bandaged. His heart gave a slight pang. The last time through he’d been so preoccupied with his own fear he failed to notice just how much discomfort she h ad to be in. She deserved better than this. And he was determined…

    Rei winked at him.

    “She’s really in no shape to fight. Please, Shinji. We need your help.”

    “Yeah…sure.”

    “You will fight?”

    “Sure. Fine. Whatever.”

    Shinji allowed himself to be taken away and put into the Evangelion. He really didn’t care right then. Not about anything. The only thing he could see was the eyelid closing over a red iris, then opening again. It was a tiny gesture that rocked the very foundations of his world. He could just barely imagine a scenario in which his father was polite. He couldn’t think of one where Rei winked.

    Shinji felt existential angst rushing back. Just an hour ago he’d have given anything for the chance to get his world back. But he didn’t get his world. He got an approximation; one with a polite Father, a Misato who could find her way around the base, and a winking Rei. Did they have the Shinji they expected? Or was he supposed to be an encyclopedia-toting badass in this timeline?

    Shinji honestly looked forward to the Third Angel. At least that would be simple.

    Because he never wasted the time wandering around in circles or arguing about the Evangelions, he found himself emerging when the Angel was still far away. The UN forces had just barely given up on firing at the thing.

    Shinji wondered what he could get away with here. He didn’t kid himself about being an unstoppable Angel-killing machine, but he was much better than the scared boy who stepped into the Eva for the first time. He could manage this fight without going berserk – that much he was sure of. The question was how much expertise he could afford to show, and, more importantly, how much he could afford to hold back in the face of a legitimate enemy. The thing to do was not die, either because he lost to an Angel or because someone on the human side suspected him too hard.

    Well, he’d just have to play it by ear, that’s all.

    ***​

    The first time Shinji went through the battle with the Third Angel he’d spent the next day in the hospital. That didn’t happen this time.

    This time he had to stay in the hospital for two weeks.

    The fight hadn’t been a fight this time around. Not really. The Angel took one look at him, jumped across half the city, and detonated its own core right on top of Shinji. After Shinji blacked out, Unit 01 went berserk and smashed things until the power ran out. NERV was forced to remotely eject the plug, which didn’t really help with the injuries.

    So he ended up in bed with several hairline fractures, a concussion, and quite a bit of psychosomatic damage.

    Shinji was sure there was a lesson in there somewhere. Something about how he shouldn’t underestimate Angels, or how things might turn out not only differently than he remembered them, but even actively worse.

    The only thing he was prepared to learn from this was that hospital ceilings didn’t get any better even when they stopped being unfamiliar.

    On the plus side, once his head stopped hurting whenever he was awake, he had a lot of time to think. Whatever expectations he’d had were obviously shattered by now. He could no longer rely on his knowledge of the future to be accurate. Worse, he couldn’t rely on the people he thought he knew to act normally.

    That was fine. Well, maybe not fine, but definitely acceptable. The first time he’d arrived here he hadn’t known anyone either. And even if his entire knowledge of the future was wrong, he at least knew how to pilot now. And he knew just a little more about people.

    Also, things seemed only subtly different at best. Father, Rei, Misato, and even Doctor Akagi all seemed to occupy the same positions. From what little research he’d been able to do covertly, his own history seemed the same. As long as he acted like his past self, he probably wouldn’t attract suspicion.

    It wasn’t everything he’d hoped for when he begged to come back. But it would have to do. The plan was still on, if in a highly modified form.

    He was still going to save the world.
     
  4. LordsFire

    LordsFire Tel'dai Knight Errant

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    The writing here is pretty good; I'll be checking back to see where this goes.
     
  5. Legrio

    Legrio

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    Gendo is being nice and polite?

    The world is doomed. Well, more doomed than usual.
     
  6. ZeroTWolfram

    ZeroTWolfram Drop kick your face

    Joined:
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    2,500
    Well I don't see anything immediately wrong with this story, so that's a step up over most fanfics. I also don't see anything amazing, so take that as you will. There was a lot of telling, instead of showing. It would have been much more interesting to see Sachiel leap across the city and self detonate right away rather than have a few sentences telling us what happened. The idea itself, while done to death, has some potential for interesting butterflying, so I'll keep any eye on the story.
     
  7. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Joined:
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    Oh, my. Not what I was expecting, but its good.
     
  8. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    Eventually they let him out of the hospital, just a few days before Rei was due to check out. It was getting uncomfortably close to the arrival of the Fourth Angel, assuming the thing actually bothered to show up on time. And it gave him very little time to make a better first impression on his classmates.

    “You okay, Shinji?”

    Misato’s voice snapped him out of his reverie.

    “I’m fine.”

    “Glad to be out of the hospital at last, huh?”

    “Yeah. I’ve been looking forward to settling in at the apartment.”

    Shinji was sure he saw Misato’s eyes flash. If he were someone else, he might have known if they flashed with regret or excitement or maybe understanding. But because he was Shinji Ikari, he really had no idea what she was feeling. Therefore he really didn’t expect what came next.

    “So you heard then! You have your own quarters right here at the base!”

    Shinji felt his world shatter.

    “You’ll be okay by yourself, right?” Misato asked, apparently concerned.

    “Sure. Living alone is…fine by me.”

    It wasn’t.

    It really, really wasn’t.

    Misato’s apartment was one of the things he’d missed the most after the Third Impact. It was also one of the things he’d been looking forward to on his return. It was messy and noisy and cramped, and there was hardly any privacy there. But he could remember being genuinely happy there. There had been times when he felt safe and complete and even connected to others.

    He wanted to feel that way again.

    It wasn’t fair for him to lose his chance so quickly.

    Even knowing what he did about the differences in the timeline, he’d still assumed he’d get to live with Misato. Now he was desperately wondering why that belief had turned out to be wrong. Was it ever even a possibility with this Misato? Or had something he’d done changed it already? Maybe she’d just had more time to get used to the news with him in the hospital. Maybe he somehow seemed more like he could handle himself alone.

    Maybe his life was ruined.

    ***​

    Shinji stared at the wall.

    The wall was perfectly blank.

    The entire apartment was perfectly blank.

    Shinji’s mind was perfectly blank too.

    The only thing Shinji wanted to think about was that this would be the room he would wake up in every morning. An impeccably clean and depressingly unfamiliar room. A room in an apartment that would never have Misato or Asuka living in it.

    Coincidentally, that was also the one thing Shinji absolutely refused to think about. So he just didn’t think about anything at all.

    The place Shinji found himself in was conductive to not thinking. The room was impeccably clean to the point of sterility. It didn’t even smell of anything. There weren’t any clocks or windows anywhere. The walls were even soundproofed. Shinji was entirely cut off from the outside world. Without any external cues, he quickly lost all sense of time passing. A minute felt the same as an hour. And however much time passed, he continued to just sit and stare straight ahead.

    Shinji’s fingers felt like they were draped in cotton. His eyes didn’t feel the need to blink. Everything just felt completely numb, which was preferable to what Shinji was sure he would feel if he allowed himself to feel anything at all. So he just shut the world away and looked straight ahead, not seeing anything.

    If he could feel surprise, he would be surprised at how good he was at this.

    An unknown amount of time later, there was a single sharp knock on the door.

    Something inside Shinji was startled. He desperately attempted to withdraw again but was unable to stop from blinking. His shoulders slumped and he began feeling numbness in his legs.

    A still-unknown but certainly short time later there was another knock. If it was possible for a single note to sound impatient, this one did.

    “Come in.”

    You really only got this particular tone of voice in NERV. The kind that said ‘come in’ but made it clear that what it really meant was ‘you’re going to come in and there is nothing I can do to either encourage or prevent it’ all without changing in pitch or tone. The kinds of people who could use that voice just naturally gravitated towards NERV.

    So did the kind of people who could ignore that tone of voice. Gendo Ikari opened the door and walked in.

    The shock was more than strong enough to snap Shinji all the way back into the world of the living.

    “Father! What…what are you doing here?”

    “I came to see how you were doing,” answered Gendo with an entirely straight face.

    Shinji didn’t know how to answer. The silence stretched on and on. Shinji tried to think of something to say but all he came up with was a desperate wish for some cicadas.

    “Shinji,” Gendo said the word and then took a pause that stretched long enough to unnerve any normal person, “how do you feel about living on your own?”

    Shinji had a lot of feelings on the subject, most of them extremely negative. And he was just barely prepared to admit as much to himself. But even if he were willing to share those thoughts with his father – in itself an unlikely event – how could he possibly explain everything?

    “It’s…what I’m used to.”

    Another pause.

    “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other,” remarked Gendo.

    Shinji bit back the bile rising inside him.

    “I don’t think I really know you…my son.”

    Possibly Gendo Ikari was expecting his son to use that opportunity to share something about himself. Instead, a panicked Shinji was forced to change the subject, and fast.

    “I will still pilot the Eva.”

    “What?” Gendo was successfully thrown off-course. This conversational track was unexpected, but it was something Shinji Ikari might talk about if he didn’t go through what Shinji went through.

    “Fighting the Angel…it hurt. But I will continue piloting the Eva. It’s what I want.”

    And if Shinji could judge such things, he might have decided that the smile appearing behind the Commander’s beard was genuine.

    “Thank you, Shinji.”

    Another silence. Shockingly, this one was sort of comfortable.

    “Shinji?”

    “Yes?”

    “I want you to realize that you aren’t just helping me by doing this. Humanity as a whole has a use for you.”

    Was this the track he was trying this time around? Shinji wasn’t prepared to believe it.

    There was a quiet gasp beyond the door.

    The simultaneous, stiff turns of their respective necks revealed the other visitor to Shinji and Gendo. Misato Katsuragi stood in the hallway with a small potted plant under her armpit.

    “Sorry about that,” she stuttered out. “I…wasn’t expecting to find you here, Commander.”

    “Hi…Misato,” Shinji couldn’t resist blushing.

    “I guess it really shouldn’t be that surprising. It’s only natural for parents and children to talk to each other, after all. I’ll just leave this here, okay? Okay!”

    The two Ikaris watched her rush down the hall.

    “Natural.”

    Gendo Ikari was attempting to formulate a complex thought.

    “It may be natural for parents and children. But I don’t think it’s natural for me and you.”

    “You’re right.”

    Well, he was.

    “Shinji,” another pause, this one not comfortable at all. “Do you fear me?”

    “Yes.”

    It felt shockingly good to admit it.

    “I see,” Gendo Ikari stared straight ahead, his hands gripping his knees uncomfortably. “Shinji, I…fear you too.”

    Silence.

    “I am afraid of the pain you can cause me, and the pain I can cause you. That is why I sent you away.”

    What.

    “I still am afraid. And for good reasons. The kind of relationship that a father and son are supposed to have…will not be the relationship that we will have.”

    Shinji nodded. He wanted to think something sarcastic, but sarcasm was failing him at this critical juncture.

    “I don’t know what we will have. But it will have to be something that avoids the risk of pain. It is not a risk I can accept.”

    “Me neither.”

    “Well, that’s that then.”

    Gendo Ikari got up.

    “We’ll see what happens, Shinji. Goodnight.”

    “Goodnight…father.”

    And then Shinji was alone again. Checking to make sure the door was closed, he fell back in his bed and stared at the ceiling instead of a wall. Somehow it felt different.

    “Is that supposed to make it okay?” Shinji asked the universe. This time around he was pretty sure no-one was actually listening. “Is that supposed to make up for everything?”

    The way Shinji saw it, the man to whom he’d just finished speaking either was the same father from his own timeline or he wasn’t. If he was, then he was the person who would kill Toji with Shinji’s own hands to get what he wanted. None of his words could be trusted. They could be lies – or they could be the exact truth, told specifically to manipulate him into doing what Gendo wanted. If he wasn’t, then Shinji had just talked to a stranger who still couldn’t be trusted – which on the balance of things wasn’t actually all that different from talking to his own father.

    The part of Shinji Ikari that still remembered the ruined cities and the red oceans violently rejected contact with his father and wanted to chalk up this conversation to another bout of manipulation.

    The part that remembered riding in a train until the train refused to go on, totally alone in a crowd of noisy strangers, wanted nothing more than to connect with Gendo Ikari. It was prepared to take the risk.

    After a pained internal staredown, both parts eventually gave up, with power defaulting to the compromise part that thought life might turn out okay after all if he could get more agreeable people to visit his apartment.

    Encountering no arguments from opposition, this part of Shinji quickly carried a motion to get some food and go to bed in hopes of finding someone like that at school the next morning.
     
  9. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Joined:
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    Interesting.
     
  10. misterq

    misterq Mister Questionmark

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    Wait, did a piece of Gendo (or the whole thing) come back in time along with Shinji? (And Rei.. and the angels!)

    Or did everyone that was involved with Instrumentality come back and now they are ALL trying to make this time better than the last and they all think that they are the only ones with a second chance. That will be a hilarious pile up.
     
  11. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    Neat. I was wondering how many updates it would take for someone to catch on.

    The only thing I can say is that it's even more complicated than that.
     
    RadiantPhoenix likes this.
  12. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    Shinji seriously wondered if he could get homeschooled instead. The answer was probably yes, since NERV had both the resources to make it happen and the willingness to keep him closer to the Evangelions. But that would mean never having a legitimate reason to leave the base, which would arguably be even worse than this.

    But really, how was anyone supposed to act interested while going through the same curriculum for the second time if that curriculum was duller than dishwater in the first place?

    Inevitably, Shinji reached the same conclusion that a good portion of any student body anywhere arrived at much sooner.

    He decided to ignore the school material entirely and focus on networking.

    Admittedly, he was a little apprehensive about the whole thing. But other people did it all the time without even partial future knowledge, so there was no reason he couldn’t.

    Right?

    He started off with what he thought of as a soft target. From what he remembered about her, Hikari always seemed very mild. How different could things be?

    After spending fifteen minutes agonizing and resisting the urge to throw up, Shinji finally approached her.

    “Hi. You’re…Hikari Horaki, right? The class representative?”

    She turned around. Shinji had never seen anyone’s eyes look this haunted. She smiled in a way that was distinctly broken.

    “Yes! I am…a class representative,” Hikari stammered out, “And…I am here to help!”

    “Let us do it, Rep!”

    Shinji stared at Toji and Kensuke appearing over Hikari’s shoulders. She looked freaked out. They looked enthusiastic.

    “Yeah! Anything to help the resident pilot!”

    What.

    That knowledge wasn’t supposed to be public. Not until somebody asked him and he stupidly answered, which he hadn’t been planning on this time.

    What was happening?!

    Kensuke had apparently noticed Shinji’s confusion, because he proceeded to elbow Toji in the gut.

    “Obviously we know you’re a pilot because come on, we get a mysterious transfer student so soon after a giant robot battle happens? No way that’s a coincidence!”

    “Okay, I buy that.”

    Shinji didn’t buy that.

    “But if you tell anyone we told you, we’re all in big, big trouble! So…please don’t tell anyone,” announced Kensuke.

    “Oh! You’re a…pilot? How…nice,” Hikari’s smile was broken again.

    “Are…you okay?” Shinji was forced to ask.

    “Fine! I just…miss my dog, that’s all.”

    Did Hikari have a dog? Shinji honestly didn’t know. He didn’t exactly pay her a ton of attention the first time around and he didn’t really include her in any of his plans either. She always seemed…tangential. But maybe that needed to change now. This Hikari looked like the sort of person who would do dangerous and painful things with meat cleavers if provoked. Or unprovoked.

    Shinji decided that maybe making friends at school could wait.

    ***​

    Somewhere in the depths of NERV Gendo Ikari stood in a pitch-dark room lit only by a single spotlight shining from directly overhead and the gentle glow of a dozen holographic monoliths. They hid (poorly) the identities of the twelve men who directed most major world events and were the main reason he couldn’t simply do as he liked.

    The monolith bearing the numbers 01 spoke up first in the voice of Lorenz Keel – the leader of both SEELE and the Committee on Human Instrumentality, and the single most powerful man in history.

    “Ikari. It’s impressive that your son unleashed the beast within the Evangelion. It would be more impressive if there was an Angel to be savaged instead of a city block.”

    “We didn’t expect the Angel to suicide bomb us.”

    “Yeah, that was interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing how this ends. Tell me, Ikari, with your limited perspective, how does it look to you?”

    “The Children…” began Gendo before being interrupted by Keel.

    “Stop right there!”

    “What?”

    “Now, this is important, Ikari. First of all, don’t move. Second of all, look at your hands. I mean, really look at them.”

    Gendo Ikari stared at his hands. Unconsciously he’d formed them into a steeple as he did so frequently.

    “Every time you do that thing with your hands, the rest of us end up screwed over, Ikari. Every. Single. Time.”

    Gendo didn’t answer. He did, however, carefully separate his hands.

    “See, that’s a step in the right direction. Do something else with your hands. Really, anything else. Stick them into your pockets, keep them on your desk, maybe get some of those little stress relief toys. I don’t care. But if I ever see the fingers of your right hand touch the fingers of your left again, you will be transferred to the bottom of the ocean before you can so much as imagine pulling a fast one against us. I’m not joking, Ikari. I am deadly serious.”

    “Understood,” Gendo growled.

    “Lovely. Watch yourself, Ikari, because you know we will. Now that the Angels are here, a new era of responsibility has arrived. Things are really going to change around here.”

    And with that the monoliths winked out.
     
  13. Leland Adama

    Leland Adama Wardens of the North

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    Very well written, I am surprise, because I dont like Peggy Sues.

    I really like the story by the way, I say this so isnt any misunderstanding.
     
  14. jacobk

    jacobk I am the danger

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    I like the premise, I like not really knowing what's going on, but I have a little bit of an issue with this:
    It's funny, but it seems a little too light hearted. Assuming that Keel has some future knowledge of Gendo's plans, I would not expect him to risk cluing Gendo in to that fact just to get one over on him in conversation. Also, the overall tone of the fic is pretty serious, so it's a little jarring to suddenly see an exchange that would be more at home in Nobody Dies.
     
  15. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    So, Shinji's from the future, and some people are Genre Savvy. Possibly Dangerously, possibly Wrong, possibly both.
     
  16. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    You think you're confused, imagine how Gendo feels.

    But seriously, there is an excellent reason for Keel's actions. It's going to be made clear in due time.
     
  17. stark40763

    stark40763

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    Well, this can all end badly, or hilariously. Or Hilariously Badly really, since it isn't just Shinji that seems to have allegedly gone back in time.

    At least the Angels have decided they rather die quickly this time around...

    Edit: When are we going to see Asuka show up? I would love to see what she's like this time around...
     
  18. Dimensionist

    Dimensionist Sinner

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    Okay, I'm going to take a shot in the dark.

    While this is the first time for this Shinji to come back in time, it isn't the same for everyone else.

    Gendo, and SEELE have synchronized time loops - that is to say, they all have looped back to this point the same number of times, they started looping at the same time. Thus, they make their plans together, and while there's still a lot of enmity there, they're united by a common purpose - to fix their mistakes, and ensure humanity's survival.

    Touji and Kensuke are synced. Hikari has looped more than either of them, to the point that she's not completely sane after her repeated failures and constant deaths. However, at this point, all three are aware of each other's looping, and work together to ensure that things work out this time around.

    Everyone else relevant is also looping, (like Misato - you can tell by the timeline changes) each with different sync's. They are also unaware of anyone looping outside of their specific groups.

    The Angels are synced with Shinji - this is the first time they've gone back in time, and they're already taking advantage.

    Am I close?
     
  19. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    I will say this much: some of this is right and some isn't.

    The one thing that I'll freely admit to is that literally everyone who has a name is in a time loop.
     
  20. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    Chapter 2: Let it (Rei)n over me

    Rei was still alone.

    Something told Shinji that he was a terrible person to be happy about that. But he didn’t think he could deal with it if she weren’t. He was quickly losing every tie to the world he’d come back to recapture. He already lost Misato, though he desperately hoped he might yet recapture her. If he lost Rei or Asuka, he was sure he wouldn’t survive. It wasn’t possible to fight Angels without really wanting to be alive, deep down in the very core of one’s being. And he couldn’t keep that desire without having someone to live for.

    He was caught staring again. He expected to be. The other students were paying even more attention to him, and he was doing a lot more actual staring this time around.

    “So…Ayanami, huh?” Kensuke’s face was over Shinji’s shoulder again. “Nice taste!”

    “It’s not like that,” protested Shinji. He didn’t bother to turn his head, though. If he was going to get teased for staring at Rei, he was damn well going to earn it.

    Sure it’s not,” Kensuke’s voice lacked the compliance his words suggested.

    “Betcha it’s really not,” Toji emerged over Shinji’s other shoulder. “Rei’s got a hot body, but she’s really quiet. Shinji is the kind of guy who would prefer someone more extroverted.”

    Shinji could physically feel his ears twitch.

    “You’re crazy! Ayanami is exactly Shinji’s type!” responded Kensuke.

    “Yeah, right. I’m right, you’ll see.”

    “No, you’ll see.”

    Rei turned around.

    Shinji tore his eyes away. Something in the back of his head told him to do the opposite and lock gazes with her. He dismissed the notion as one of the ramblings of a masochistic mind.

    “She’s just…so alone,” he all-but-whispered.

    “Yeah, but she’s always been alone,” noted Toji from the bushes. He and Kensuke automatically dove in there to avoid Rei’s eyes.

    “Yeah, that’s Rei. A great, big loner. Though I get the feeling she won’t be all that alone for very much longer!” Kensuke was determined to help. He wasn’t.

    Shinji sighed and got up.

    “Hey…where are you going?”

    “Away,” he answered.

    “It’s the middle of gym class!”

    “I don’t care.”

    Really, what were they going to do? Throw him out of school? Shinji knew he had to fear Gendo Ikari and possibly quite a few others. School authorities? Not so much.

    ***​

    Shinji didn’t just skip out on gym. At first he’d just been exasperated, but as time passed he decided he was feeling rebellious. Big things were happening and he had better things to do than sit in a stuffy classroom listening to false information disseminated by well-meaning people.

    Things like sit outside in a tree.

    It was a good spot. A branch was curled in precisely the right way that he could lie down on it and be unseen. He divided his time between staring into the leafy canopy while listening to the activity right below him, taking light naps, and feeling mildly sorry for himself.

    It was different from the day he watched the wall of his room. He didn’t feel empty, and he wasn’t keeping any particular unhappiness at bay. But he still felt a little lost and it was easier to just admit it and wallow in it than to try to find answers.

    Eventually the intermittent chatter going on under his tree simply ceased. Checking his watch, Shinji determined that classes were over and had been over for at least half an hour. He wondered whether it would be okay to stay where he was or if it would be more prudent to walk back to the base and continue the pity party there.

    “There you are!”

    Busted.

    “Come down from there, Ikari!”

    Shinji reluctantly turned over, grasped the branch with his hands, and successfully let himself drop to the ground without any comedic accidents. He stared at Hikari Horaki. She looked approximately half as accusing as he would expect her to.

    “Do you know that it’s my duty as Class Representative to find out why you were absent from all of your afternoon classes?”

    Shinji considered apologizing. He considered turning around and simply walking away and dealing with the consequences later. But in the end he decided he was just desperate enough to try something else.

    “Hikari? Do you know anything about…Rei Ayanami?”

    “Heh-heh, I’m sure I’m not the best person to ask about Ayanami,” Hikari stuttered out nervously, “Have you tried asking someone else?”

    “Are you…okay?” Shinji dared to ask, visions of meat cleavers dancing in his mind.

    “Yes, thank you. I…will be fine. Really! It’s just that things are changing and I don’t really understand anything.”

    “I know how you feel,” answered Shinji.

    Really don’t think you do.”

    Really think I do.”

    Shinji stared at her forehead. He was sure she was staring back. For several seconds they maintained the deliberate and forceful lack of eye contact. Then they reached a kind of unspoken understanding.

    Maybe you do,” admitted Hikari. “I…don’t know you. But if I did know you, I’d say you will probably be okay.”

    Right,” in order for that one little word to express what he really wanted it to, Shinji had to reach into the depths of sarcasm he had only ever seen Asuka plumb.

    “I mean it. I knew…someone who I am sure is a lot like you. And I know that if he were lost like you and I are, he wouldn’t just mope around like I’ve been doing. He would find himself again. He would find out what was happening. So I think…I think that maybe I’ve been going around like this for too long. I may not know what’s going on, but that just means I have to find out! And then everything will be okay again. Don’t you think so, Shinji?”

    “Shinji?”

    Shinji could see Time again.

    He could see his first real encounter with Rei, a little more than a week away. He could feel the shape of it as if the ID card were already in his hands. And then he felt it slip away. There were too many factors. The encounter would happen…provided this universe’s Doctor Akagi was just as forgetful as the one from his home. Provided Rei didn’t make a move to pick up her own ID card. Provided the ID card would even change at the same time. Provided, in fact, that they both survived the Fourth Angel.

    It could be just like Misato’s apartment all over again. He could lose Rei without ever meeting her.

    Screw that.
     
  21. Dimensionist

    Dimensionist Sinner

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    Ah, good - a proactive Shinji is always a treat to read (as long as he doesn't become a Marty Stu).
     
  22. ZeroTWolfram

    ZeroTWolfram Drop kick your face

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    What timeline is Hikari looping from[1]? She sure isn't talking about canon Shinji.

    Eventually, this story will need to give the general outline of what timelines each character is looping in from. Misato died trying to help Shinji i EoE. She'd only let him live on his own if she truly though that he would be better off alone. I'd have a hard time swallowing that EoE Misato, if given another chance, would let Shinji live alone. Hikari's comment also implies she isn't from canon. Canon Shinji didn't do a lot of finding out about anything. Gendo isn't being Gendo either. That's got to be one hell of a timeline he came from to make him try and reconnect with Shinji right away, even if he's faking it.

    Edit: On another note, I'm hoping that this is an archive dump and that you aren't actually writing this fast. If you really have written all this since yesterday, I'd recommend slowing down a bit. You don't want to burn out.

    I don't actually expect you to answer this question right away.
     
  23. Jim Starluck

    Jim Starluck CO, ICS Vanguard

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    An interesting premise. Can't wait to see how long it takes the various characters to figure it all out. Wonder how many of them are like Shinji; completely oblivious to the other loopers around them?
     
  24. SeptimusMagisto

    SeptimusMagisto

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    Yep. You now have the rest of the premise figured out. Good job.

    It might take a while for the timeline exposition to emerge. Right now you as readers know more than any of the characters do, so you'll have to wait for them to catch up.
     
  25. GreggHL

    GreggHL Engaging hilarity engine/air oscillation booster.

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    ...this is brilliant. I love this idea so much I want to take it behind a middle school and impregnate it.
     
    ferian and megrisvernin like this.
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