Off the eastern coast of Japan lay a shallow shelf, covered in the 
sediment of the land: sand, silt and mud. Only a few hundred 
meters from shore, the sea bottom was lifeless; oxygen, sulfates, 
and even most organic carbon had been used by organisms at the 
base of the food chain to make a way of life. All that was left was 
anoxic mud and the castings of the sea creatures.

At the boundary between the water and the sediment, 
something began to move. Not grandly at first; it was more as if 
a series of harmonic waves had been superimposed on the 
plane. Its movements built until a form of motion, a dance step, 
began. The thing's rippling moved from a single pulse in the 
center to the very outer lip, and as it rippled it rotated about its 
center. The detritus around it was kicked up into the water 
column, higher and higher, forming a dense cloud at the sea 

Its preparations were beginning. It needed time and energy, both 
of which it had at its disposal. It rode upon the circumstances. 
Soon, it would rise on its own.
Touji and Shinji sat side by side at a table in a coffee shop. Each 
of them had an untouched cup of coffee and a full glass of water, 
ice cubes glinting in the interior light. They sat tense, frustrated 
by their inabilities to resolve the anticipation and dread they felt 
within their hearts.

Outside, it had been raining all of the morning. The rain itself 
was by no means strong, but it was blown by an incredible wind. 
The boys watched umbrellas turn themselves inside out and 
people struggle to see their way down the street.



Aware of its awkwardness, Shinji withheld the question until it 
burst out of him, "What was it like?"

"You mean...with Hikari?"

"Yeah. I...I've been wanting to know for a while now, but I know."

Touji eased into a more relaxed position and thought about it. 
Shinji felt his confidence buoyed: Touji was taking his question 
seriously. After a half minute's consideration, Touji said, "It 

"Strange? What do you mean, strange?"

"It was confusing. It was like...I couldn't believe, right up until 
the moment I stuck it in that it was going to happen, and then 
we were doing it, and it felt really good, don't misunderstand 
me, but there was so much going on..."

"It felt good?" Shinji caught himself sounding incredulous.

"Yeah, scratching an itch is good, y'know, but it's like 
you didn't even realize you itch. But I was so blown away, I 
wanted to watch Hikari, but at the same time I wanted to keep 
my eyes closed to concentrate...and I wanted to come right away, 
but I also wanted to enjoy didn't matter, we were done in 
like five minutes."

"That long?"

"S'matter?" Touji gave Shinji a light shove. "How long does it 
take you to come when you're wanking?" Shinji turned a bright 
shade of red. Touji pressed him. "Come on, your turn. How 
long? How long?"

"Am I interrupting something?" said Subcommander Fuyutsuki 
Kozou. Both boys whirled around and bowed deeply, offering 
apologies, but Fuyutsuki waved them aside. "Please don't be like 
that, gentlemen. I'm the one who should be apologizing. Your 
father, Shinji, wasn't able to come in person."

Fuyutsuki bowed formally to Touji. "You must be Suzuhara.
I'm Subcommander Fuyutsuki, Commander Ikari's 
second-in-command. I've been sent over here to speak with you. 
I understand you're interested in joining NERV again?"

"Yes, er..." Touji leaned forward, fidgeting. "I've been thinking 
that, what with all the risks Shinji's been going through as a 
pilot, it isn't right for me to just sit around on my a--sit around 
all day. So I thought that, since NERV had wanted me as a pilot 
before, I could come back.

"I don't even know if I'd pilot on a permanent basis or anything, 
maybe I'd be kind of a backup, or a sidekick. I don't know if you 
repaired the EVA or not. But I'd like to do what's right for 
humankind, y'see. I think it's important."

Fuyutsuki nodded, but his face stayed blank. Touji said 
hesitatingly, "Is there something wrong?"

"Oh, no, nothing's wrong, Suzuhara," said he replied. "I'm 
just thinking that it's a pity I wasn't able to speak with the 
Commander for very long before I came here. You see, NERV 
doesn't have a policy about pilots being re-recruited. 
Commander Ikari might be in a position to give you a definite 
answer, but I'm afraid to tell you that I can't, right now."

"Oh. I see."

"I will tell you...what I'll do. Here." Fuyutsuki took out a cellular 
phone and pressed it into Touji's hand. "This is my cellular 
phone. As soon as I know, Ikari or myself will call you. If we can 
offer you a position, we'll need to know your answer 
immediately, at any time of day, under any circumstances. 
NERV hesitates for nothing. Do you understand, Suzuhara?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. Now," he said as he stood, "Ikari and I have 
some business to discuss in private. Will you excuse us for a 

"Sure. Nice to meet you, Fuyutsuki-sama."

Fuyutsuki and Shinji both bowed, then walked quickly into the 
men's lavatory. They were alone. Fuyutsuki said quietly and 
severely, "Shinji, we need you to be ready at a moment's 
notice for the next 72 hours."

"What? Is it an Angel?"

"I hope not," he replied, "but something isn't right. There's this 
storm that's making its way straight for Tokyo-3, and there's 
reports of water spouts up and down the coastline, and there's 
been a burst of strange readings from just off the coast. We'll let 
you know as soon as anything strange happens."

"Is that why my father wasn't able to come?" Shinji's question 
was so laden with disappointment it was almost a statement.

Fuyutsuki gave a curt nod. "If there's one thing your father 
believes in, Shinji, that thing isn't 'coincidence'. He believes 
that something bad is going to happen, and it's his job now to 
find out.

"I'd best be going. Tell Langley when you see her, if you would."

"Yes sir."
Shinji woke up before his alarm that next morning. He woke up 
to the sound of crying. He lifted his head off the pillow, the 
remnants of his dreams sticking in his mind, and glanced about 
him. His room, dark before the morning light, seemed to be in 
order. Then the sound came again, the long low wail of a spirit. 
He grabbed hold of his blanket and pulled it up to his chin as he 
looked across the room to the white window, where a third time 
a groaning and a rushing came from.

There was no monster there. It was only the wind and the rain.

Shinji had no more than a spit second of relief before light 
coursed like a tsunami into his room, around through every 
corner, blasting whitewashed images and ebony shadows against 
the walls. It roared the boy's name as it came, came to snatch 
him up out of his bed and tear him out of his home. He was 
violated. There was no solace.

As his scream died on his lips, the last scraps of his dream fell 
away. It was only thunder and lightning. The storm had come in 
the night, in all its force and might.

Asuka, dressed in a bathrobe, burst in through the door to his 
room. "Mein Gott! Shinji! Are you all right?"


"Are you sure? What's come over you, you're as pale as a 
ghost." She walked across Shinji's room and sat beside him on 
the bed. She walked without looking; the boy's room was 
immaculately clean and sparsely filled. In her left hand she held 
a piece of writing paper. Her right rested on his shoulder. 
"You're shaking like a leaf, too. Did you have a nightmare or 

"It was just the storm, Asuka," Shinji said. "I guess my 
imagination ran away with me."

"Hmph! Well, I need your help, now that you're up. Misato left 
us this note this morning, and I can't decipher the kanji. Her 
handwriting's smudged."

"Uh...all right." Shinji slipped into his own bathrobe, then they 
walked to his desk. Shinji turned on the reading light and set to 
work piecing some meaning out of the blurred characters. 
"'Dearest Roommates of Mine...I've got bad news and good 
news. The bad news is that you won' seeing my cute 
face this morning, because I've been called to NERV. The good 
news is that we're emergency status.' What's 
'blue' status?"

"Not as bad as yellow, I guess. Go on."

"OK. 'You two are to stay at home today and wait by the phone 
in case we need to find you--' No, wait, '_contact_ you. Have a 
nice time, and don't bother Pen-Pen when he's napping. 
Smoochies, Misato.'"

He put down the piece of paper and leaned back in his chair. 
"Huh. No school for us today."

"Well, great!" said Asuka. "What are we doing up at this hour? 
I'm going back to--/"

At that instant, Shinji's alarm clock went off. Shinji's nerves, 
while slightly more relaxed than they had been, were not 
prepared for the shock of a loud buzzing alarm, even from 
across the room. In his surprise and terror, he clutched at the 
nearest object that might provide him some security, which was 
Asuka. Now, not only was Asuka unprepared for Shinji's 
seizing hold of her and screaming bloody murder, but she was 
off-balance herself in the midst of departure. The sudden 
appearance of Shinji's full mass against her right side, combined 
with his arm's appearance around her waist and his hand 
against her left hip, caused her to tilt away from her vertical axis; 
and, in brief, they fell.

Their journey downwards was occasioned by much noise on all 
parties involved, culminating with the impact of Asuka's 
backside against Shinji's floor, rug and lower left arm. The 
rebound and follow-through was painful, humiliating, and 
startling. The scene ended as Asuka, endeavoring to make eye 
contact with Shinji, followed his gaze downward to observe 
firsthand the consequences of urinary pressure upon the 
prostate gland in the male.

Abstaining from her usual taunts and vehemence, Asuka 
simply offered a homegrown and timeless remedy for morning 
wood--she kneed him in the groin. Its effect proved ideal. Shinji 
rolled off of her, incapacitated. Asuka got up off the carpeting, 
straightened her disheveled nightwear, and left the room, 
leaving Shinji to recuperate and turn off the culpable alarm 
Touji brooded and ate his lunch in a foul mood. He stared hard 
out of the window. The storm matched his inner feelings. Fear 
and anger warred in his heart. He had had misgivings about 
returning to NERV even when he had first suggested it to 
Shinji, and time had eaten away at his courage. He might not be 
a good pilot. He could die. His sister...he might lose his sister's 
love over some choice, some new obligation or responsibility.

Or, his anger replied, he might win it anew for his courage. And 
he would seem more of a man in Hikari's eyes. Hikari...her 
former ambivalence to him, the ambivalence that the preceding 
week had marked her, was gone. Touji's anger captured every 
movement she made, and they were all those of a perfectly 
sweet and innocent 15-year-old girl.

Her feigned innocence emasculated him. Her blithely carrying 
on, in the face of the abortion of a child he had never known, 
that he _knew_ he had not fathered, infuriated him. And he let 
it fester, because there was no one he could confide in. Kensuke 
and Shinji were not present, nor was half the class. Many 
parents were afraid to let their children away from them in the 

Touji watched a fully grown man struggle to stay upright in the 
wind. _Hell,_ he thought, _I'd almost rather be outside than be 
stuck having to speak with..._

"Hi there!"

Touji rolled his eyes as Hikari dropped into the seat one row in 
front of him. She pulled out a bento box for herself, and another 
one for him. "How was your weekend, Touji?"

"Swell." She held out his lunch to him; he glared at her across 
the top. "How's your boyfriend?"

Hikari remained perfectly still, with a look of mixed surprise 
and confusion frozen on her face, for five seconds before she 
said, "Eh?"

"I said, how's your boyfriend?"

She finally lowered the box lunch. "Touji, I have no idea what 
you're talking about. What do you mean?"

"I found out what you did on Saturday..."

The words cut through Hikari's soul like knives. Her arms fell 
to her sides; the bento landed on the floor, spilling rice and 
vegetables. A cluster of girls sitting nearby stopped talking to 

"...and since you didn't even bother to tell me, I'm wondering 
who your boyfriend is."

Hikari rose from her chair, trembling. Black emotions of sorrow 
and fury ran through her veins. She gasped, " 
did you..."

"What, do you think I'm stupid or something?" Touji stood up 
and moved into her space, not breaking eye contact with her. "I 
can figure things out for myself, thank you very much. Now, 
what I want to know is, who was the guy?"

"Touji, stop it." Every eye in the classroom was fixed on the pair, 
moving in concert along the row of desks towards the head of 
the class. "You're scaring me, Touji. There wasn't anyone else, 
now stop saying such things..."

"They're true, aren't they, _senpai_?" With that, he seized her 
by the shoulders and shook her. She wailed. "SAY IT! SAY I'M 


Hikari tore free from him and ran out into the hallway, 
slamming the door behind her. Behind her, Suzuhara Touji 
remained frozen exactly where he had been. He caught himself 
feeling nothing other than relief that his emotions were out of 
his heart. One of the girls in the class followed Hikari's footsteps 
into the hall, while everyone else stared in open disbelief at 
him. Touji paid them no mind.

His cellular phone rang once. He flipped it open and pressed the 
'talk' button. "Mosh' mosh'."


The voice sounded much like Shinji's, but deeper and grave. 
Touji guessed who it was, but thought it impolite to announce it 
to the world; instead, he said, "Yeah."

"If you are interested in rejoining NERV, there is a car waiting 
for you outside of your school. You may proceed there and get 
inside. You will be debriefed when you arrive at NERV HQ."

There was a pause, then Touji grunted in the affirmative. "Tell 
'em I'm on my way." He hung up, flipped the mouthpiece up, 
and slipped it into his jacket. Then he slipped on his bookbag 
and left the room without a word.

Daniel Snyder
in his new abode at
If I wasn't such a strange person,
this would all seem so confusing.