Shinji lay in bed, his arms crossed beneath his head as he stared up at the ceiling. It had been a little over a week since he had emerged from his month-long stay in Unit 01. He had been amazed to learn that he was merged with the Eva for that long. The whole situation had seemed like a dream to him somehow. A long, confusing, and at times, beautiful dream.
Shinji sighed and sunk his head deeper into his pillow. He was enjoying a rare moment of peace. For once, no one was telling him to fight the angels; no one was telling him how big an idiot he was; no one was rejecting him; no one was forcing him to apologize for what he was. It wasn't that his roommates weren't there, they just had other things on their minds.
After hearing the rumors of Kaji's death, Shinji had decided to steer clear of Misato. He cared for her, deeply; yet, he felt so helpless in dealing with the situation. Guilt tore at him as he remembered burying his head underneath his pillow as Misato had cried. It was like everything in his life. The problems were too big, his fear too great. It seemed as if piloting the Eva was the only thing that made sense in his life anymore, and that scared him most of all.
Of course, Kaji's apparent death didn't really cause him too much stress where Misato was concerned. He felt guiltily relieved that she was keeping her grief private. She went to work, she came home, and went to bed. He had not seen much of her since that day he found her crying as she listened to the last message Kaji had left on her answering machine. He hoped that she would find the strength to pick herself up soon. He didn't want to alienate her more than he already had.
Asuka, as always, was a mystery. Something was obviously bothering her, but Shinji had no idea what it could be. She was as waspish as ever, but in some ways, her actions mirrored Misato's. She went through the motions of her life, but there was an underlying tension present in her; a frustration that could not be solved. She, like Misato, retreated to her room whenever she came home. Usually the two of them would sit in front of the television, warring over what program to watch, all the time throwing insults at each other as their fingers danced over a remote control.
How ironic, Shinji thought, that they have taken up the same habits that they want me to stop. He gradually increased the volume on his ever-present tape player and closed his eyes as the music filled his head.
"When your pain knows no bounds,
Find comfort in the state of love.
It will carry you far, that one true blessing,
Farther than the hate you found!"
Shinji's thoughts returned to Unit 01. He remembered, now. He remembered the first time he had seen Evangelion Unit 01; it was the same time that he had lost his mother. (Mother. . . How did you -really- die?) He was too young to understand what had happened, and there were too many rumors surrounding the events of her death. He did, however, remember the accusations, the whispers, and the suspicions. His father had been responsible, people had claimed.
"Loneliness is a wilted rose,
Cursed never to blossom and grow.
Nurture your heart with another's soul,
'Cause child, that's how love goes!"
"That's when I started hating him," Shinji murmured. He knew that his father had not actually murdered his mother. They did love each other; Shinji remembered that much.
Yet, his father was obviously obsessed with the fight against the Angels. Is he like Misato's father? Did he care more about the Evas than he did about Mother? Shinji wondered. A part of him considered the possibility that it was his mother's choice; that maybe she was the one who cared more about the Evas than for her family. "No! Mother loved me! She did! I- I know she did," Shinji whispered, tears starting to flow from his eyes.
"Once you find that soul,
You need to fight for it child!
It might drift away, so far away!
Tis worth the price, so pay the toll."
Suddenly, he turned off the tape player and tore the earphones away from his head. Why, Mother? Why did you have to leave? Why did you have get into that stupid. . . Eva, Shinji thought, realization striking him like a rush of cold water. "My God. . . She- she entered Unit 01! I remember now! She- she. . ," Shinji trailed off, vainly trying to remember all the dreams and visions he had experienced while piloting Unit 01. It's not possible! She can't still be in there! Shinji thought, frantically climbing out his bed and rushing out of his room.
Carried on by hope, curiosity, and more than a little fear, Shinji ran to NERV Headquarters.
As he reached Unit 01's cage, he was relieved that he had not encountered anyone that knew him. He was short of breath and his mind was a mass of confusion. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't have been able to talk to anyone while in his current state of mind. Breathing deeply, he simply stared at his Eva.
Shinji wished for a synch test, even an Angel attack, any excuse for him to get back into the Eva. He had to find out what had happened. He had so many questions, and it seemed that the Eva had all the answers. It wouldn't do any good. Even if an Angel did attack, Shinji thought wearily. Unit 01 was currently grounded. Ever since the last incident, the Eva had become unstable and unpredictable. As if it wasn't before, Shinji thought.
According to Dr. Akagi, Unit 01 had absorbed an S2 engine from the last Angel. Shinji did not completely understand the ramifications of that, but he knew that Unit 01 now had the ability to move without an external power source.
Shinji continued to stare at Unit 01. "What are you? What did you do to Mother?" Shinji demanded quietly. He half expected the Eva to answer, and was disappointed when it did not so much as move. "Damn it! I know you're alive! What did you do to my mother?" Shinji yelled.
"When did you figure it out?" A voice asked from behind.
Shinji jumped, startled by the interruption. He slowly turned around and faced his father.
"You knew about this," Shinji accused.
"Of course. When did you figure it out?" Gendou asked again.
"Today. I- I remembered what happened when I was little. And- and sometimes, I dream of her when I'm inside the Eva," Shinji replied.
"I see," Gendou replied as he turned away from his son. "She has protected you Shinji.
Make sure you protect her in the days to come," Gendou continued as he started walking away from the cage.
"Father, wait!" Shinji said; there was so much more he wanted to know.
"Yes?" Gendou asked, turning back towards Shinji.
"Tell me about my mother. What happened to her?" Shinji asked, almost pleading.
"Shinji, I don't have the time for this," Gendou said reproachfully, turning away again.
In that instant, Shinji cracked. It was the first time in his life that he didn't just want to be liked. For the first time, he wanted to understand, and he would not be denied. "No!
You will not brush me aside again! I'll pilot Unit 01. I'll be your tool. I'll even die if that's what it takes! But not without a reason, damn it, not without knowing what's going on!" Shinji yelled, his voice hard.
Gendou stopped, then turned around again and stared at Shinji. As his son met his cold gaze unflinchingly, Gendou nodded, then turned back the way he came. He walked a few steps away and paused. "Well? Are you coming?" He asked, his voice as flat as always. Shinji heaved a sigh of relief and joined his father. Together, in silence, they walked out of the hanger.
* * *
"What did you want to know?" Gendou asked. Father and son were sitting in an outdoor cafe a few miles away from NERV Headquarters. Both Ikaris needed to adjust their thoughts, and oddly enough, found Gendou's large, dark office stifling. Shinji was the one who suggested the cafe and was surprised that his father had readily agreed. They were sipping from cups of coffee as the sun shined brightly overhead.
"I want to know everything," Shinji replied.
"Everything? No, Shinji, you don't want to know everything," Gendou replied with a grim smile.
"What about Mother, then?" Shinji asked, wondering what darker secrets his father possibly had.
"Yui was a scientist; a brilliant one. She was excited about her work, optimistic about the future, and wanted to make the world a better place for mankind. I, on the other hand, was wasting my life. I didn't see a future, and didn't care. Yui- Yui taught me how to care, she gave me a soul, and tried to make me a bit respectable. We got married, and life couldn't have been any better. But then. . .," Gendou trailed off.
"The 2nd Impact," Shinji stated.
"Yes, the 2nd Impact occurred. Our dream to make the world a better place was shelved. We needed to make sure humanity survived. Yui and I, along with Commander Futsyuki and a few others formed NERV. We knew the Angels would be coming back, and we had to be ready."
"So you created the Evas," Shinji said.
"What actually happened to Mother?" Shinji asked in a small voice.
"The Evas were powerful, but imperfect. They needed a human will to join with them in order to function. Yui was responsible for developing a method of Human-to-Evangelion synchronization. She succeeded; too well," Gendou replied, his voice pensive.
"I don't understand. What does that have to do with her death? Why do I keep seeing her, feeling her touch, when I dream in Unit 01?" Shinji asked.
"Yui was the first person to achieve a successful synchronization with Unit 01. However, she never came back," Gendou replied flatly.
"You can't be serious! Do you mean that-"
"For all intents and purposes, Unit 01 is your mother, Shinji. That's why I put you in the pilot seat the day you arrived here. I knew she would protect you. Unit 01 is a perfect Eva, because it has a human soul."
"Why- why didn't you tell me about this earlier? My God! Mother's been stuck like that for all these years!" Shinji yelled.
"Would you have believed me? You're a child! You've spent your whole life running away, feeling sorry for yourself, and blaming me for your faults. You weren't ready for the truth," Gendou replied bluntly.
"Then why tell me now?" Shinji asked, his voice hoarse, his face burning with shame and embarrassment.
"Because you proved today that you can be an adult. The days ahead are going to be. . . difficult. You can't afford to be a child any longer," Gendou replied. Besides, this knowledge binds you to NERV and the project even tighter, he silently thought.
"Thank you. Father, is there any way to bring her back?" Shinji asked quietly. Gendou smiled slowly as he took a sip of coffee from his cup. "Trust me," he replied mysteriously.
Shinji licked his lips and took a deep breath. Here we go. Don't blow this, Ikari, he told himself. "I. . . think I can do that, if you will trust me," Shinji said.
"What do you want?" Gendou asked wearily.
"Run a synch test on Unit 01. Let me get back in there," Shinji replied.
"Unit 01 is grounded," Gendou said sharply.
"I'm not asking you to send me into battle! Just let me synch with it. I need to do it Father. I'll trust you, can't you trust me?" Shinji asked. Gendou looked long and hard at his son, seemingly looking into his very soul.
"One chance. Only one. We're at a critical juncture Shinji, we can not afford to make to many mistakes," Gendou warned.
"One chance," Shinji agreed, "It's all I need."
* * *
"Why exactly are we doing this?" Misato asked Ritsuko ask Shinji's entry plug was injected into Unit 01
"Commander Ikari's orders. I- I really don't know why he's running this test," Ritsuko admitted.
"I'm surprised that Shinji's okay with this. I mean, after what happened the last time," Misato observed.
"I think the Commander wants to make sure Shinji can still synch with the Eva after what happened. I guess Shinji might be concerned about that as well," Ritsuko replied.
"Maybe," Misato agreed dubiously.
"The entry plug is secure, all systems are active," Maya reported.
"Begin synchronization," Gendou commanded from his post.
"Beginning synchronization. All circuits connecting. Synchronization holding at. . . 98.5%" Maya reported, surprise evident in her voice.
"What now?" Ritsuko asked, turning towards Gendou.
"We wait," he replied.
In the entry plug of Unit 01, Shinji relaxed. He let go of all doubts, all confusion and concentrated on mentally exploring the Eva. He spread his consciousness as far as possible, trying to feel every part of Unit 01. He felt himself settle, confident that he was the Eva; it was as close to perfection as he would ever get.
Mother, where are you? He called out mentally. Shinji fell deeper and deeper into the Eva's consciousness, periodically calling out to his mother until eventually, the visions started.
As always, memories of people he knew, places he had visited, and events that changed his life were brought before him. Am I doing this? Or is it Mother? Shinji wondered. There were times, during past visions, when he thought that his subconscious mind was trying to get him face his reality instead of running away. Yet, every time he despaired, or thought that the end was near, a comfortable presence would envelop him; it was like a fur blanket on a cold winter's morning. It felt like home, it felt like his mother, and now he knew why.
Soon, all the images faded into darkness and Shinji felt alone. Mother, please! I need to see you, Shinji pleaded. He knew she was here, why was she staying away? Slowly, an ethereal figure of white light formed in front of him. Mother, is that you? Shinji asked hopefully. As the light faded away, the figure solidified into a person wearing a plug suit. At least, Shinji thought it was a plug suit. What ever it was, it looked a bit different to the plug suit that he or any of the other children wore. For one thing, this suit covered the person's head and face. There were also several tubes and wires connected to the plug suit in the torso, arms, legs, and head areas.
What- what are you? Shinji wondered apprehensively. The figure floated closer and closer to Shinji, slowly reaching out, as if to embrace him. Shinji cringed in fear, trying to back away, but then relaxed as the plug suit seemingly crumbled into dust, leaving the image of his mother in front of him. Mother! Shinji exclaimed, joyfully embracing her.
"Why have you called me, my son? You are not in any danger," Yui said. Shinji hugged her tighter, choked with emotion from hearing her voice after so long.
"I- I just wanted to see you Mother," Shinji explained. "Are you feeling lonely, Shinji? My dear child, there is no need. I will always be with you," Yui soothed, lightly caressing his hair.
"I- I didn't know that you were stuck in here! All this time and I didn't know! I'm sorry, I just-"
"Shhhh. There is no need for sorrow. You do not need to grieve for me, Shinji. My only regret is that I could not raise you as a mother should," Yui replied.
"Mother, is there any way to get you out of here?" Shinji asked desperately.
Yui lifted Shinji's face up towards her own and stared into his eyes. "Evangelion Unit 01 is my destiny, Shinji. I can not leave here," Yui replied.
"But Father has some sort of plan-" Shinji protested as Yui pressed a forefinger to his lips.
"Your father will do what he must, but in doing so has failed in raising you," Yui said.
"I think Father and I are starting to come to an understanding, but with you. . ," Shinji trailed off helplessly.
"You do not need me, Shinji. There are others who love you, guide you, and protect you. If you are really ready to grow up, it is time for you show them your love. Wouldn't you agree, my son?" Yui asked with a small smile.
"I- I don't know I can do that," Shinji replied miserably.
"You have to look into yourself, Shinji. All I can do now is help you fight the Angels. I will -never- let them hurt you Shinji. Never," Yui stated, her voice momentarily hard. "Look into myself?" Shinji asked.
"Yes. You don't need me, Shinji. You already have a family. Search your heart and find it!" Yui said, gradually releasing her hold on Shinji.
"Mother? What are-"
"It's time, Shinji. I have to go," Yui said.
"No! Not yet! Please, just a little longer," Shinji pleaded.
"I'm sorry Shinji, but I must leave. It's time for you to wake up," Yui replied, smiling sadly.
"Mother! Wait!" Shinji yelled as Yui disappeared. Suddenly, the feeling of completeness, the feeling of synchronization ended. His mother had shut him out, but only until next time. Shinji opened his eyes as the entry plug drained of LCL. He realized that he could not run away to Unit 01 when life became too difficult. His mother could not, would not help him; but that was fine, there were others he could turn to. Now, he just had to make sure that they could turn to him.
* * *
"Well, that was uneventful," Ritsuko observed.
"You sound disappointed," Misato accused.
"Well, as nice as it is that Shinji can hold a 98% synchronization rate for two hours, you must admit, it is rather boring to watch," Ritsuko pointed out.
"Well, I'm relieved. It looks like Shinji wasn't mentally or emotionally hurt the last time he was stuck in there. Honestly, I didn't expect him to bounce back this quickly," Misato confessed.
"I guess that was something we needed to know," Ritsuko replied checking her watch.
"Well, I have a staff meeting to attend in a few minutes. We're a bit behind schedule in our repairs of Units 02 and 00. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
"Sure. I guess I'd better go finish processing all those damage reports from the last attack," Misato replied with a weary sigh.
"Hey, that's why you're the Major, right?" Ritsuko asked playfully.
"Thanks ever so much," Misato replied dryly.
* * *
Shinji had just finished getting dressed as Gendou walked into the locker room. He glanced at his father, as he quietly tied his shoes. "Well?" Gendou asked, as he stood in front of his son. Shinji stood up and carefully looked at his father.
"I think. . . things are going to be okay," Shinji replied.
"Oh? How can be so sure?" Gendou asked.
Shinji smiled as he walked past Gendou towards the exit. "Trust me Father. Just trust me.
We can talk about it later if you want, but there some things I need to do right now," Shinji replied as he walked out of the locker room.
As the door closed behind him, Gendou turned towards it. A large smile broke open on his face. It was smile of mirth; pure and simple. It was devoid of the bitterness, smugness, and irony that usually accompanied his smiles. It's almost time, Yui. He shook his head as he too exited the locker room.
Shinji, upon exiting the locker room, went directly to Misato's office. He stopped as he reached the doorway, and looked inside. He stifled a giggle as Misato grumbled over the assorted paper work on her desk. Wow, she's a slob here too! Shinji thought, noticing the folders, papers, and assorted manuals that were strewn on the floor and desk. He took a deep breath and knocked on doorframe.
Misato looked up and smiled when she saw Shinji. Good. An excuse to get away from this stuff! She thought gleefully. "Hi Shinji! You did a really good job today! Did you know that your Synch ratio was over 98%? It stayed there for almost two hours!" Misato exclaimed.
"That's great," Shinji replied as he hesitantly walked into the office.
"So brings you here?" Misato asked as she leaned back in her chair. Shinji silently walked around her desk and stood beside her chair. "Shinji, is something wrong?" Misato asked with concern as she swiveled the chair towards him. Taking a deep breath, Shinji leaned down and embraced her, resting his chin on her shoulder. "Shinji? What-"
"I'm so sorry Misato. I'm sorry about Kaji. I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you when you needed someone. You've always been here for me, and I- I want to be there for you too. I know that I'm young, and- and weak but-" Shinji stopped as he felt Misato's arms go around him, sharing the embrace.
"Th-thank you, Shinji," she said in a quiet voice, tears starting to form in her eyes. "I didn't realize how much I needed a hug until now," she continued.
Shinji tightened his embrace and closed his eyes. "You can get through this Misato, I know you can. I'll help, in any way that I can," he replied.
"Thank you," Misato repeated.
Shinji loosened his hold and Misato and stood up. "Don't worry about it. After all, we're family, right?" He asked.
Misato laughed as she wiped away the tears from her eyes. "Yeah, I guess we are." she replied.
Shinji nodded and headed out of the office. "I'll let you get back to work. Maybe we could all go out to dinner tonight. Rei, Asuka, us, and even Dr. Akagi," Shinji suggested.
"Sounds like a plan. You might have a hard time convincing Asuka though," Misato warned.
"I guess. . . I'll just have to talk to her," Shinji replied, wincing at the thought of that confrontation.
"What happened to you Shinji?" Misato asked in wonderment.
"I just learned that a person can face anything, as long as they have their family."
Additional Author's Notes:
I was never more disappointed in Shinji than when he hid under his pillow after seeing Misato cry after Kaji's death. For some reason, out of all 26 episodes of the series, that scene bothered me the most. Anyway, this is the first part of Mothers and Sons. Part 2 will be about Tenchi, and part 3 will about Ranma. If I really get ambitions, then I may even do one about Van from Escaflowne and Kamui from X.
Oh, if you are following the Eva manga, I took the 'plug suit' scene from there...
Comments are always welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org.
back to the Short Story Page.Mothers and Sons: Shinji, 19 March 1998