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A Neon Genesis Evangelion Fanfic
By: Aaron Nowack

Prelude: Together Alone

Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is not mine, but instead belongs to Gainax and Hideako Anno. The text of this fanfic is mine, however, and may not be used without permission. Have you pet a spork today?

The sun was rising.

A new start for a new day. Another day that would be just like the previous, here after the end of the world. Another day of silence, of being alone. Many times in his life Shinji had wished for just such an endless stretch of solitude, yet now that it had come he found its benifits far smaller than he had imagined.

Shinji recalled something one of his teachers had told him once, that the weeks after Second Impact were sometimes called 'The Long Night'. Clouds had blotted out the sky, obscuring the heavens. The sun neither set nor fell, and the entire world was cast into a seemingly eternal, chill twilight. His teacher had said that the first sunrise, almost a month later, was the first time he had felt any hope for mankind since the Impact.

Fortunately, Third Impact, if that was the proper name for what had occured, had not had such an effect. What it had done was left a landscape forever changed, wiped clean of mankind. Shinji could see the ruins of what had been Tokyo-3 rising impressively to the north, dark and silent. At some point he would have to go there, but for now he was content to remain here.

He slowly rose from the small hollow his body had made in the sand. The sun was already almost over the petrified forms that had once been the Mass Production Series. He was not sure how they could have arrived where they were, in the center of the bay of LCL, but his memories of everything after the attack on NERV had started were so fragmentary as to be non-existent. In a way, he was glad for that. The little he remembered was horrifying enough.

Shinji made his way along the shore, heading for the small stream of fresh water he had discovered shortly after his awakening. That, and the food he could scrounge from the mostly intact remains of a nearby convenience store, provided his physical sustanence. It was a simple life, and not a particularly difficult one, but for some reason he was becoming discontented.

When he arrived at the stream Shinji quickly relieved himself, then moved slightly upstream and knelt by the riverbed. He cupped the clear water in his hands and brought it up to his lips, drinking as much as he could before the water spilled out. A tiny voice nagged at him from the back of his mind that he really should salvage some styrophome cups or something like that, but he really didn't feel any need. He repeated the process three times before his thirst was quenched, then he lay down, staring blankly at the cloudless sky.

He could not say how long he did this, but eventually he heard footsteps approaching, and he rose. He did not need to ask who was coming, for there was only one other person it could be. The only other person in this world, yet she might as well not exist. The two of them did not live together, but merely existed alongside each other. He could not remember the last time they had exchanged any words, but none seemed necessary. There was nothing to say, for they had already said what could be said, and all that was left was this endless unchanging routine.

Before she arrived, Shinji had left the riverside, headed for the one thing that did change. It took him only a few minutes to reach this place, a large stone that rose from the sand like a mountain out of the plains. He picked up a small, sharp rock from where he had left it the previous day, and made a single mark on the stone, a diagonal slash across four straight marks. This made the third such grouping, meaning that fifteen days had passed since he had first awakened. Fifteen days since the world had ended.

This complete, he carefully laid the sharp stone back in its position, then set off on a longer hike. He first headed for the cracked asphalt highway that ran parallel to the shore, then headed along the road in the direction of Tokyo-3. It was a depressing trip, the silent road littered with overturned, empty cars, tossed about by the catacylsm that had wrecked the city. The first few days, some of the cars had still had their engines running, but by now they were all long silent.

After perhaps half an hour of hiking down the desolate road, he reached his destination: a small crossroads that featured the first intact building that could be found along this route. Fortunately, it was a small gas station, and it was from here that Shinji procured his meals. He slipped through the doors and took a quick look around the store, though he knew nothing would have changed.

He passed by the aisle of canned food, knowing that that would last the longest, and he instead took a loaf of bread and a few apples that still looked somewhat fresh. He gathered up a few more perishable goods, then prepared to leaved. He gave the freezer of milk a longing glance, but he knew the milk was long since spoiled. After a moment's thought, though, he did grab a soda. He didn't think that those went bad. After taking a quick sip and confirming that, though warm, it didn't taste any different than it should, he grabbed a plastic bag from the counter and prepared to make his way back to the shore.

He still felt slightly guilty every time he left the store, as though someone was going to pop out from behind the counter and accuse him of shoplifting. Hefting the bag over his shoulder, Shinji started on the trip back. He supposed that he could get more food and thus avoid making the trip so often, but it didn't seem worth the effort. The food wasn't going anywhere, and these journeys were for the most part his sole occupation.

The return trip, as always, seemed slower than the trip up to the store, in part because he had just recently seen the unchanging scenery, and in part due to the burden he carried. At around the halfway point he took another drink from the soda and ate a slice of bread, but he didn't slow his steady pace. There was no reason to linger, though there was no reason to rush his return either. It was not as though anything awaited him.

When he arrived he found Asuka sitting in her usual position on the very shore, staring out over the yellow sea at the grotesque statues. For a moment he considered joining her, but he eventually shook his head. All that would result would be another session of the two of them sitting side by side, not acknowledging the other's presence. Instead, he headed back to the river.

He let his bag fall to the ground and soon he followed as well. It was almost noon, and his day was already complete. In an hour or so he would eat, and he would eat again when the sun set. Other than that, he had nothing more to do than wait for nightfall and sleep. And when he awoke, the cycle would begin anew.

Time passed, as it always did. When noon came, Shinji ate his lunch and drank deeply from the river. He knew that less than five minutes walk away, Asuka was doing much the same. For the first week or so they had eaten together, but for some reason they had stopped. Shinji found himself, much to his surprise, missing those days, as painful as they often were. Eternal quiet and solitude was not turning out to be the paradise he had imagined.

He briefly wondered whether Asuka felt the same way, but he was sure she did not. She was... very loud when her desires were not met, and if she saw any deficiency in the current state of affairs Shinji was quite certain he would have swiftly heard about it. He sighed. Asuka might not need anyone, but he was starting to believe that he did.

"Why us?" he asked himself, not for the first time. Why were the two of them, out of everyone, were alive, while eveyone else was... dead? Shinji did not think that, for some reason. He did not feel as though they were dead, but instead were merely gone. Why, he could not say, but he was sure the answer lay in the memories he had lost, the memories of what he was calling Third Impact.

Was that really what it was? He had heard so many contradictory explanations for what Third Impact was, and what could cause it. Yet he was sure none of them described anything like this. From all he had heard, Third Impact was... final. Whatever had happened was not, not really. It had left the two of them washed up on this lonely beach, facing an eternity of dreary days.

Time continued to pass, the sun slowly inching its way through the sky. Shinji continued to lay by the shallow river, sometimes on his back and sometimes on his stomach. He was lost in his own thoughts, a situation he spent most of his time in. There was little else to do but think.

Something suddenly intruded on his thoughts, startling him and causing him to sit upright. From the direction of the beach he could hear the all too familiar sound of rather colorful German, though for once it did not seem to be uttered in anger, but rather in shock. Shinji nearly tripped on a rock as he raced down to the beach, his mind pointing out all the worst possibilities for the outburst's cause.

As he reached the shore, it took him a painful moment to locate Asuka, standing waist-deep in the LCL, and obviously struggling with something. An instant after he saw her, she noticed him as well, and shouted, "Don't just stand there, you idiot! Get in here and help me!"

Shinji wordlessly complied, and he nearly cursed in surprise himself when he saw what Asuka's burden was. It was a man, perhaps twenty years old, though he almost looked closer to the two children's age than to that. He was wearing jeans and a plain white t-shirt, though both were soaked through with LCL. Most importantly, he was obviously alive, though unconscious. The two of them working together managed to get the man on shore, and then managed to force the LCL out of his lungs. The man took a gasping breath.

"Hurry up and get some water," Asuka commanded. "He'll want some when he wakes up."

"H-how?" Shinji stuttered.

"Use a cup, you idiot!" Asuka snorted in derision, "Can't you even do a simple task like that by yourself?"

Shinji was about to protest that he didn't have a cup when he rememberd the empty soda bottle he had left by the river bank. A short time later, he had returned with the bottle filled near the brim, and shortly after that the man began to stir.

Asuka grabbed the bottle of water and presented it to the man, who greedily drained it in a matter of seconds. "Nasty taste in my mouth," he muttered when he was done, letting the bottle fall by his side as he took in deep breaths of air.

"It's the LCL," Shinji stated as he picked up the bottle.

"The LC-what?" the man asked, sitting up. "Who are you people? Where am I?"

Shinji and Asuka looked at each other helplessly, trying to figure out how to explain the nearly unexplainable. Before they could, the man had noticed the apocalyptic landscape that surrounded them. "What the hell happened?" he asked, horror in his voice as he took in the LCL sea and the ruins of Tokyo-3.

After a long moment, Shinji spoke. "Third Impact, I think."

The man turned to look at him. "You... you're Commander Ikari's son," he said. Shinji nodded, realizing the man must have been a NERV employee, though certainly not one he had met before. "And that would make you the Second Child, right?" he asked Asuka, who responeded affirmatively.

After a moment of silence, Shinji asked the man for his own name. "Hiruma Kuro. I am... was, I guess, a guard at NERV." He paused a moment. "So, if Third Impact has happened... why am I still here?"

Asuka shrugged. "You're the first other person we've seen. I thought we survived because we were in the Evas, but..."

Kuro rubbed his eyes. "I have the world's worst headache," he commented. "The last thing I remember was hearing the SSDF was going to drop an N2 bomb on us."

The discussion continued until nightfall, at which point the three broke for dinner. By pooling Shinji and Asuka's supplies enough food was found by all three, though it was obvious that someone would need to fetch more the next morning, as only a few pieces of bread was left by the time the three went to sleep. However, this was not actually acomplished until the afternoon.

In the morning, two more people washed up on the beach. The next day, four. Then two days passed without any more arrivals, then seven people in one day. By the time Shinji had made twenty more marks on his stone, which was now called the Calender Stone, almost eighty people had arrived, and there was some talk about finding a more permanent shelter.

A nasty rainstorm, the first since Shinji had awakened, convinced everyone that this should be done sooner rather than later, and Asuka led the group to a mostly intact building that would serve until they could build a more stable structure. Weeks and months passed, and the small settlement's population slowly grew. Small shelters built from the rubble began to replace the improvised communal hall, which became a place for public assemblies. Foraging parties roamed ever longer distances to provide ever larger amounts of food for the survivors.

To their own surprise, Shinji and Asuka found themselves becoming to some extent the leaders of the settlement, now mockingly called 'Tokyo-4' by its inhabitants. By the time a full year had been marked off on a new Calender Stone closer to the settlement, a task Shinji by now delegated to a young boy, neither they nor anyone else questioned their leadership. These same days found the two growing ever closer, their own shared experiences making them each the only one in the group who could even begin to understand the other, however far from true understanding they might have been. It only seemed natural that they shared a shelter, and later a bed.

As time passed, familiar faces began to emerge from the LCL. Ibuki Maya was the first, followed shortly by the rest of the bridge crew. A number of students from Tokyo-3 High were found washed up on a more distant beach a few weeks later, while Touji and Kensuke wandered into the settlement from the south, having somehow avoided the scouts.

Yet as the list of old friends and acquaintances slowly grew, the absences grew even more obvious. Gendo. Fuyutsuki. Ritsuko. Rei. After two years had passed the pace of arrivals slowed greatly, and none truly hoped that the next day would bring any of those people back from the dead.

When six years had passed, Tokyo-4 boasted over a thousand and a half people, in addition to perhaps a third of that number living in smaller settlements on its outskirts. The scouts occasionally traded with groups from other communities, but there was little other contact with them. Life began to grow into a comfortable routine, and people no longer worried that the next day might be their last. Tokyo-4 celebrated its first birth, and even the sight of the yellow sea of LCL with its rocky gargoyles had become an accepted part of the landscape.

Before the markings for seven years had been made, this peaceful rebuilding would come to an end.

Author's Random Ramblings

1) Thanks goes to Ryan Hupp for his efforts in prereading this.

2) C&C, negative or positive, is always desired and appreciated.

Started: February 23, 2003
Draft Finished: May 02, 2003
Draft Released: May 02, 2003
Final Completed: May 05, 2003