But what excelled it all, was the giant head of Rei-Lilith, now tilted to the side, staring into the sky, still smiling.
"So, that's it, huh?"
Asuka had sat up by now, following his gaze.
"A-Asuka, I..." He clenched his fists, staring to the ground.
"Not...Not yet, Shinji." She lifted herself up. "We...we'll talk later, okay? We should make sure we'll survive, first."
He nodded, sighing. With that, she turned and slowly walked towards the remains of Tokyo-3. Shinji returned his view to the horizon.
"Don't you want to come back?", he asked the sea.
When he received no answer, he began to follow Asuka.
It wasn't much left of the city. Most of it was blown up, with the exposure of the Geofront. The giant hole, where the Geofront had been, was hard to miss.
Shinji followed Asuka close by. He knew she was heading for home, or at least, what they hoped was left of it. They weren't moving fast, he noticed as he watched her.
'Of corse, she got seriously injured and she seems to be very tired as well. I... I should do something. But I can't. I still can't! After all that happened, after all I've realized, I still can't help her! Still the same coward...'
She suddenly tripped, slumping forward a bit, before she regained her balance.
"A-Asuka?", he gained her attention, making her stop. "Y-you're alright? I-I mean, you've got pretty hurt, and... you know?"
She lifted her bandaged arm and clenched her hand, slightly. "I'm not sure. It doesn't hurt as much as it's supposed to." She turned her head to him. "I'll make it home. I guess I'll feel better after some rest."
He nodded, not exactly satisfied, but he couldn't come up with enough confidence to risk an argument right now.
The suburbs gave a slightly better sight. Most of the buildings still stood, but were damaged badly, while others had barely a scratch. Cars and debris was spreaded on the streets and sidewalks.
Luckily, their apartment building was one of the few in better shape. However, as they entered, they were greeted with a poor sight. Due to the shock wave, almost every glass was broken and everything that wasn't heavy enough or fixated, lay scattered on the ground.
Asuka sighed and headed for her room.
"I don't know about you, but I need some sleep, before I can do anything."
He nodded. "Good night, Asuka."
"It`s not night anymore, baka." A tired smile crept on her lips. "Same to you, anyway..."
With that she closed the door to her room, leaving Shinji to his thoughts.
After cleaning his bed from the dirt, he tried to get some rest, as well. But he couldn't sleep very well. In addition, the batteries of his SDAT had dried out, yesterday, and he hadn't exchanged them yet.
'Was it even yesterday? As far as I know, we could have been days, weeks or even years inside there...'
Finally, he decided to get up. There wasn't very much he could do. The TV was broken and there wouldn't be any broadcastings, anyway. If he tried to clean up the mess, he would most likely be to noisy and wake Asuka. The cello was out of question for the same reason and it was broken as well.
His stomac reminded him that he hasn't eaten for a while, so he went for the kitchen. He checked the cupboards first. There wasn't much food left. Misato had been busy the last days, Asuka was in hospital and he hadn't cared about that anymore, himself. The fridge wasn't a better sight, but that could also be an optical illusion, due to the missing beer.
But something else was missing as well: the light. Then he remembered that the power was out and immediately went for the freezer. It was still cold, but the ice had already melted.
'At least we weren't as long away as I feared.'
He took, what was in and went for the stove. At least, he had something to do, for now.
Asuka woke by the smell of cooking. More precisely, it smelled like frying meat, which had become something rare, since she lived here. She got up, following the scent to the kitchen. It didn't surprise her to find Shinji there, but that he seemed to fry every bit of meat they had in the house. It wasn't as much as in western households, but definitely more than two people could eat without getting sick.
"I didn't know, you had such an appetite"
"Huh?", he startled, looking up. "Asuka! Did I wake you?"
"No, not really. So, what are you doing here?"
She rolled her eyes. "I can see that, baka! But why?"
"Well, since we have no power for the freezer, the meat would have become rotten soon, if it's raw."
"Hm, seems you CAN think sometimes", she mocked, but it wasn't as mean as usual. It almost sounded like an actual compliment.
"Uhm, thanks?", he said, somewhat unbelieving. But then his face grew serious. "Asuka, about..."
She frowned. "I've told you already, we'll talk about that later..."
"But- We... we have time to talk now..."
She could tell that he was curious to express whatever dwelled on his mind and she knew pretty well, what that was.
'But I can't.' She looked at him, as he waited for an answer. 'Not yet.'
"No, we haven't... It would change too much...", she whispered.
With a confused look, he returned his attention to the pans.
When he was finished, they ate some, along with some plain bread. It wasn't much of a meal, but something told them, that this could be a luxury soon.
Now, it was time for some planning.
"So, what are we going to do now?", Shinji asked.
"Basic survival, I guess", Asuka shrugged. "Well have to make sure, we'll have food, water, medical supplies. Electricity would be helpful as well."
"Hm, the water is still running and seems to be clear. But the rest of food we have left will sooner or later be bad..."
"Yeah, most likely we'll need to grow something by ourselves, but that'll take time."
He nodded. "There's dried food in the shelters, I think. Maybe, in the case, that the refugees would get trapped there during an attack. I remember seeing the packages there."
"Huh? When have you been in a shelter?"
"D-during the attack of 14th..." He looked down, ashamed of his decision back then.
"Yes, I remember...", she said after a moment of silence. "It's okay, it doesn't matter now."
Surprised by her reassurance, he looked back up.
"Uhm, for the medical supplies, Tokyo-3-hospital is nearby, maybe it's still intact...", he trailed off again.
"What is it, now? The idea isn't that bad, not that I haven't thought of it myself."
"Toji's sister had been there, before she was transferred..." He didn't look up.
"You're still not over that, huh?"
"It's not that, I..." He sighed. "Do you think they'll come back?"
That question didn't really surprised her, but she hadn't actually thought about it before.
"I don't know", she muttered. "Maybe. But we shouldn't rely on that. I think they would be back by now, if they wan..." She shook her head, slightly angry, as she realised, where this conversation was heading. "How often do I have to tell you, that we'll talk later!"
Her head bolted up, glaring at him. But then her face softened immediately and instead of the expected verbal assault, Shinji heard a light chuckling from his companion. Even though, he was confused at first, he soon joined in.
That moment, the sound of laughing filled these rooms for the first time since weeks.
They've decided to go to the next shelter first, but when they got there, they found the entrance buried with debris. So they went to check the hospital. It was afternoon by now and sun burned as always, as if nothing had happened at all. The hospital seemed to be in perfect shape, most likely since it was build far away from the city, to be out of range of an Angel attack.
As they entered, they've noticed the cool breeze inside.
"The air-condition is running...", Asuka mentioned.
"Huh? The lights are on, as well?!"
"They have most likely an emergency power-generator for black outs." She suddenly grabbed his shirt. "COME ON!" She dragged him to the staircase and went as deep as it go.
'At least, she seems to be okay again.'
Then through the basements floor, looking at every door.
"Where is it?", she muttered.
"AHA!" She finally stopped at a steel door, labeled 'HIGH VOLTAGE! KEEP OUT!'. "Open it!", she commanded.
Shinji gave her a perplexed look. "How?"
"Just kick it in! Jump against it! Geez, do I have to think of everything?"
'Yepp, just like her old self.' He eyed her. Maybe it was because of the patch on her left eye, but her respect-my-authority-glare wasn't as terrifying as before. 'No, she still seems kinda tired and... passive. I can tell, she's got a lot on her mind as well, but then, why don't she want to talk? Is she still so full of pride, that she won't...'
"What are you waiting for??"
'Okay, scratch passive...'
Since he wasn't sure, what he should do, he settled for the simplest thing: he pulled the handle... and was surprised when the door actually opened.
"Well, so much for security..."
They were greeted by the humming sound of the generator. Asuka rushed in and surveyed the machine for a while, then pulled some levers. The humming trailed off and the lights went out. In other words: It was dark.
"Eh, AsukAAAAHHH!", he shrieked in shock as she switched on a flashlight just below her face. "That wasn't very funny...", he panted, as she was laughing at his reaction.
"I think, it was.", she said, catching her breath.
'Strange. I can hardly remember her laughing honestly, and now it has been twice a day', he smiled. 'Is that despite or just because what happened?'
"Too bad it's so big", he changed the subject.
"Huh? Oh, the generator. Yeah, but I expected something like this. We couldn't use it anyway, as I said, it's for emergencies, not to run 24/7."
"Then, why did you turn it off?"
"Who knows if we'll need the instruments here someday? We shouldn't waste the fuel. I don't think there's much left in it, anyway."
"So, that's why you made such a rush?"
"Yeah, sorry about that..."
"Did...did I just hear the great Asuka Langley Soryu apologizing for something?"
She grimaced. "And if you don't hurry up, you may never hear it again!", she warned and left... with the flashlight... leaving him in the dark...
The upper floors were fairly lighted from the daylight, so they could get a good look around, even without power. Unlike the generator room, the medicine storage was locked. Shinji threw himself against the door a few times.
"Ah, just leave it and lets go", Asuka shrugged. "We don't need any medicine now. It's good enough to know, we'll get some here."
"And what in case of an emergency?" He collided with the door again, which slightly gave in. "When we need to hurry and can't get in, then?" After taking some steps backwards, he bolted forward and crashed through the door, finally. "And since we're here, we should check your wounds."
She frowned at her bandages. "I don't know... It barely hurts, but...", she trailed off, remembering, how she got them.
"Asuka, please. It could get worse, if we don't treat them", Shinji insisted concerned.
After some seconds of silence, she nodded. Shinji grabbed some new bandages and they went to the next room, where his companion sat down on one of the beds.
"Should I...?", he asked uneasily.
"No. I... I need to do this myself...", Asuka declared.
Taking a deep breath, she began to undo the bonds, beginning at the hand. She needed to force her eyes open to take a look at the expected injuries.
But there weren't any.
Fast, she unwrapped the rest of the arm. Nothing.
"Not even a scar...", she whispered unbelieving.
"My arm! It-it was sliced... I mean... how...?" She didn't finish the sentence, instead she grasped at the patch on her eye, ripping it off. The vision was blurred at first, but soon she could see as clearly as before. "How is it?"
"It looks...", he trailed off as he looked in her eyes. "...fine..."
Suddenly realizing, what they were doing, they broke their gaze quickly.
"We better get going, now", both stammered simultaneously.
They still had some daylight left, but the next shelter was to far, to make it there and back again.
"We may should check the shops and see what we could use", Asuka suggested.
"Uh? But I don't have any money."
Asuka halted and turned to face him. "Baka! Who do you want to pay?" She sighed. "This is anarchy, Shinji. There's nothing we can do about it."
"I still don't think it's right", he muttered.
"Better get used to it. I don't think, it'll be the last time, we need to 'borrow' something."
They entered the next grocery store they encountered. Shelves had been overthrown, their contents combined on the floor in an icky mass of broken eggs, spilled juices, instant noodles and other indefinable things.
"Uhargh! Gross!", the redhead complained as she took big steps through it to reach the other end.
"It was your idea... So, what should we get?"
"I don't know. Not much left in here..."
"We'll better get some instant meals and cans, since they won't go bad that soon."
"Great, take some beers as well and we would living Misato's dream...", she bite her tongue. Turning around, she saw Shinji, his head down. "Hey, I... I..."
"I know, you didn't mean it." He looked up, giving her a weak smile. "She really wouldn't mind this kind of 'diet' at all, hm?"
Neither said much afterwards. They grabbed as much as they could carry and headed home.
"Still have to clean this mess...", Shinji mumbled. When they had reached the apartment, the sun had already begun setting, casting shadows in the rooms.
"You think, thats worth it?", Asuka, who was sipping on a soda can.
He turned at her voice. "Huh? What do you mean?"
"We'll have to grow our own food, remember? I doubt, we can live by what we could raise on the balcony."
"So... you want to move out?"
"We'll have to, I guess...", she shrugged. "Unless, you want to travel around all day."
"But where to go? Even the nearest farms are at least 50 miles away", he complained, not very happy at the thought of leaving the first place, he called home. "And I don't suggest to move to far away from a city, we'll never know, if we'll need new supplies."
"Hmmm... What about a market-garden?"
"Huh? You think, you can live there?"
"Why not? It's not that unusual that, at least if it's a family business, the owners lives there. Another plus would be, that they usually have a greenhouse, so we would be independent of the climate."
"A greenhouse? Have you seen any unbroken glass, today?"
"Geez, don't be so pessimistic!", she scolded.
"Okay, okay! I'll search the phone book and a map..."
"That's the spirit! Go get it!"
"You could help, you know?"
"Phht, is it my fault, you haven't cleaned this mess yet?"
"Finally!", Asuka declared exhausted. "And it just took us half of the day to get here!"
They had only found two market-gardens in the area of Tokyo-3 and one of it was to close to the Geofront to be alright. The other one was about 10 miles from their home and combined with the hot weather, it was quite a trip.
"Well, it looks okay...", Shinji surveyed the surroundings.
"Oh, don't try to sound to enthusiastic!", his companion said sarcastically. "Come on, lets check the garden!"
Said one was, as far as they could tell, in a good condition. The former owners had grown several kinds of vegetables, so they wouldn't have to worry about chances of success or failure in cultivation because of the mold. Most likely, there would be seeds to be found, as well. The greenhouse had been shielded by the residence, and thus only one pane was broken and three had scratches.
"Hm, nothing that can't be repaired...", she grinned. "...by you."
Shinji ignored the last part. "Asuka, can we go now?"
"GO? We just came here! After such a walk, I may add!", she fumed. "And we haven't checked the house yet."
"But we still haven't been at the shelters. And I still think we should get that food. Better safe than sorry."
"I don't argue with that. But I think they left us something to get there more faster", she grinned again and pointed to the garage.
He paled. "You... you don't mean... I mean, we don't even know how to drive, and with all the debris on the street and all?!"
"You think it's harder to drive a car than to pilot EVA?"
All he could do was to sigh. She had a point there, but he still felt uneasy about the thought.
"What now?", he jerked.
She looked at something at the roof and he followed her gaze.
"Looks like we don't have to worry about electricity", she said confidently.
"Solar panels? But they seem to be broken..."
"Nah, not all of them. The rest should give us enough energy."
"You think? What about nights and rainy days? We won't have power then."
"Baka, the energy will be saved until it's used. But you have a point, though. Solar panels are commonly used as addition to the regular power supply. We won't be able to waste it like before, I guess."
"Well, okay, that's one problem less..."
Since Asuka insisted to inspect the house, there was no way to fight it. They had to break in, or better said: Shinji had to break in. Inside, the view was better than in their own residence, but that wasn't what gave Shinji an uneasy feeling. He still didn't like the idea of taking over the home of someone else. He was relived that none of the rooms seemed to be that of a child. He didn't know, if he could have handled that sight, without breaking down.
Finally, the redhead was pleased, so they moved on to the garage. They were greeted by a green pick-up labeled with the brand of the company.
"You're sure you want to drive that?", he asked.
"Listen, if you want to move with all your stuff here by feet, feel free to do so. I will take this baby."
"But we don't even have..." She held a bunch of keys in front of his nose. "...the keys... Where did you get those?"
She shrugged. "They've been on a desk. Come on, get in, or do I have to drag you?"
Sighing, he entered and placed himself on the passengers seat. Meanwhile, Asuka started the engine and hit the gear.
"Ha, and you said that would be hard!", she mocked. As she stepped on accelerator, however the car jerked forward a bit, the engine obviously stalled. "Not a word", she warned, glaring at him.
She started again, this time handled the clutch and accelerator more carefully. Slowly, they've began their drive home. They didn't get much faster, though. More than one time, Asuka forgot to change the gears or stepped to hard on one of the pedals.
"Verfluchter Mist! Couldn't this have been an automatic?" she cursed.
"I guess there is something else we need to survive," Shinji, who had been silent the whole trip, said.
"And what would that be?" Asuka asked annoyed.
"Yeah, just rub it in!"
"I'm serious. We'll need to know how to keep machines in shape, how to grow properly or how to treat major injuries and diseases. We'll need books or something to learn things like that..."
She looked at him, curiously. "Hm, you could be ri..."
"ASUKA, LOOK AHEAD!"
She barley evaded a broken down car...
Since they had to move sooner or later, they decided for sooner, or in particular: the next day. It didn't took long for Shinji to pack his things. First of all he hadn't much stuff anyway and some of it, like his cello, was destroyed during Third Impact. So he moved on packing all food and drinks that were left in the apartement. As he anticipated, Asuka needed some more time to pack her stuff, but at last she came out of her room carrying four cardboard boxes, which was nothing compared to the amount of boxes, when she moved in, but still much besides his single carton.
"Hey, Shinji, could you get the rest?"
'I should have known...' he thought, seeing five more in her room.
Once they loaded everything in the pick-up, they've headed for their new home.
They've found a new home. They've chosed their rooms. They've unpacked their things.
They had food to eat. They had drinks to satisfy their thirst.
They had electicity. They had warmth.
They had good chances to survive.
But there was something, still unsettled.
Shinji approached her in the living room, as she gazed at the sunset through the window.
"Asuka, we've done everything we can do so far, to make sure we survive. We have all time we need, now." He gulped. "We need...we have to talk finally."
She tensed. "We... we aren't finished! We can't rely that the water will be running forever. And... and we're still have to get the books and have to learn and..." she blurted.
"Asuka!", he interrupted. "Please..."
After taking a deep breath, she nodded.
"Okay", she almost whispered as she turned around.
A/N: Ha, I can imagine your yaws dropping in confusion. Yes, come and get Crazy Jimmy's special offer: Read one story, get a post-TI one free. I promise, it'll make more sense with every new chapter.
Well, maybe you need to wait quite a while for the next one, though. I've got to study the next few weeks (stupid exams *grumble* why did I chose to go to university anyway *mutter*...on the other hand, as I know me, I'll end up writing anyway).
However, this chapter gave me the opportunity, most likely all post-TI authors want: Write my own interpretation for the ending of EoE.
I think it's kinda funny, in almost every post-TI-fic, even the best ones, they're going to NERV HQ... Hello?! NERV HQ was inside the Geofront! You know, that black, round thing that exploded into billions of pieces in the end? It's actually possible that the 'ocean' is, where the Geofront was supposed to be. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it works out better for some stories (and I don't want to anger fellow and potential reviewers, geez, I can see now, why everyone is begging for them, they're addictive...), but it's strange that it's used so often. Whatever...
As for the hospital, I don't remember if it's name came up during the series and I suck at inventing names, so I just named it Tokyo-3-hospital.
And yes, I am a Asuka-is-not-really-injured-supporter, heck, she's using an arm, that's supposed to be sliced in half!
I know, most likely, there won't be many market-gardens (is there actually no better word for this?) in a metropolis like Tokyo-3, but I wanted something different, than the usual 'they went to a farm'-thing. Actually, I hadn't decided, if I let them move out at all, until I wrote that scene.
Well, for the rest, don't think to much of this chapter (especially the 'meat-scene', but, hey, it's better than just 'When they woke up, they've began planning'), it's more of a presetting for later ones.
So, leaving you with a nice, little cliffhanger, tune in to Chapter 4 for the WAFFy part...
P.S.: I've noticed, I suck at descriptions, but, hey, I've never said there won't be any rewrites, huh? ^^