Disclaimer: GAINAX owns all rights to Shin Seiki Evangelion, and the characters portrayed therein. And though they may claim otherwise, they've owned our hearts as well...
A Journey of Denial
By Myssa Elaine S. Rei
The road in front of me stretched for what seemed like forever, and the more that I gaze at it, the longer it seems to get, if there is such a thing as a time greater than forever. Strangely, the thought doesn't comfort me at all, for it speaks of a lack of closure for the thing that constitutes my life right now, a constant state of denial, an escape from the pain.
I shiver, wrapping my coat around me, as a chill breeze wafts through the mountain road that I found myself in. Even with its protection, I still feel the cold, its touch caressing the skin it covered underneath. My right arm begins to ache terribly, but I try to ignore it. I rub my hands together, trying to gather as much warmth from the minute friction created when my palms meet, before giving them sanctuary within the jacket's pockets.
I look towards the stretch of asphalt before me, following it as it rose into my view from my right, before it disappeared around the bend in the mountain's face several meters to my left. Not a vehicle in sight.
Again the winds blow through. Idly, I wondered if I should have taken another jacket, or at the very least packed a sweater or two. I shook my head of such thoughts; time was a luxury I didn't have when I decided to leave, and the less it took to pack up and leave, the less memories I took with me.
There would be no regrets. I wasn't leaving everything behind; there was nothing left. The place that I had once called home—if I could ever call that place as such—was no more than a poor shade of what it once was. It was empty, the spirit animating it having fled with the loss of the people I once shared it with.
Partly because of my own faults, my own failures. The group, the nearest thing that I could ever call a family, shattered because of my own sightlessness, my own foolish pride. I'd be a hypocrite if I said that I hadn't played a part in its unraveling. I realize that.
Yes, there were no regrets.
And so, this self-imposed exile. But could I still term it as such? There was no one to leave behind in the first place, no home to return to. Is it still an exile?
I tried to shake my head clear of such thoughts, and tried instead to focus on the road in front of me. Nothing but the singing of the breeze winding its way through the mountains.
A small part of my mind spoke out, and actually hoped for the sight of a car or the ponderous mass of a tourist bus on its way to one of the many mountain inns which I knew were nearby. But another part, the part that made me leave in the first place, chastised it. Interacting with others only brought me pain in the long run, but that doesn't mean I don't long for it.
Loneliness, it seems, has become a constant complanion of mine, ever since I started this journey. But it didn't mean that it was a welcome one.
But it had been a conscious choice, this isolation, wasn't it? That I distance myself from others, so as not to bring anyone else pain, and in the process save me from receiving pain in return—wasn't that the guiding principle that I've followed for more than a month now? Giving out only the most simple of interaction, never alllowing anyone to get close to me?
So, if that is the case, why am I standing here now? Waiting by the side of a road leading back to a place I am loathe to return to?
I will not run away. A voice I haven't heard for a long time. A voice I've all but forgotten.
I wasn't running away. I'm just saving everyone the trouble of being near me.
I will not run away. The voice insists, gnawing into my waking consciousness.
I needed a change of pace, of scenery, that's all. The atmosphere of the place I came from was stifling me...and there were some people who would probably better off without me around.
I will not run away!
No! I didn't! I didn't run! My hands clutch my temples, as I try to shake away the images forcing their way into my head. I close my eyes, feeling my eyebrows twist as I force a wall on my consciousness...but I lose, and the images come anyway...
Two grave markers, carved out of obsidian, standing in line...
No! Please...I don't want to remember...
The names carved on each flat surface, each familiar, the people whom they once belonged to, their lives once intertwined with hers...
The struggling woman who tried so hard to be a friend, even though she had even greater personal problems of her own...and the shy boy who had accomplished something that so many others have failed at before, and accepted her for being herself...
No...Don't cry, damn it! You don't cry over the past!
Both gone forever because of her own incompetence, her failure. The only two who could possibly accept her...gone.
* * * * *
It had been almost a month since she had woken up from her coma, and more than half a year since the events that had been dubbed by the media as the NERV Fiasco. She was still weak, her body still trying to recover from the injuries it incurred during that fateful November day, as well as from the reconstructive surgery performed on her while unconscious, and had barely enough energy to sit up straight. The prognosis was hopeful: if she kept recuperating at the rate she was doing, she might be ready for therapy earlier than expected.
She would be out of the hospital sooner than it was previously estimated.
There wasn't much they could do about her eye though. The nerves had been totally severed; nothing short of a miracle could help cure it. But as for her other toubles, there was hope.
Still, that news gave her no comfort. It meant that she would have to spend more time alone, and that was what she did not want. Though she hated to admit it, she was lonely, and there was no one in the hospital to talk to. The nurses who checked on her everyday weren't exactly the talkative types, nor the doctors.
She wasn't allowed any civilian visitors either. This really annoyed her, because it meant that Hikari, if she knew, wouldn't be able to visit.
On the subject of visits...she hadn't seen any of her roommates in a while, and it was sort of strange that either of them hadn't dropped by to check on her yet. Misato, despite the antipathy she still felt for the older woman, was still her official guardian, and should have at least passed by when she woke up...
As for Shinji...well, the poor boy probably didn't feel up to standing in her presence. Ha! She showed him, she still was the better pilot...not the failure they thought her to be.
She would like to see him, even if he wasn't such a pervert most of the time, and that he had beaten her more than once...if to, at the very least, gloat at him. She'd take seeing the moron's face anyday, rather than spend endless hours staring at the unfamiliar ceiling in front of her.
Then there was that recurring dream...of a smile and a goodbye...And the idiot's face...It worried her, but she couldn't understand why...
But the days passed, turning into weeks. Still, the two hadn't made an appearance. She had started to think that they thought so low of her that she didn't even merit a visit. Fine then! See if she cared! Who needed the two anyway?
More time passed...She had already enough strength to stand up and walk around her hospital room, and the doctors decided that she was ready for the therapy needed for her to fully recover the use of her hands, and the other parts of her body. Still there was no word from either Shinji or Misato...but who cares about those losers anyway? She coped quite well on her own without them. Ha!
She was a bit surprised when later that day, Dr. Akagi's assistant—Maya, that was her name, wasn't it?—dropped by to see her. She looked like she just had a few sleepless nights, but managed a smile as she saw her.
Maya was nice enough to fill her in on the events that happened in the intervening time between the battle against the 05-series Mass-production Evangelions and her regaining consciousness, though it seemed that she was avoiding some subjects, namely concerning the whereabouts of the Operations Director and the Third Child.
She pressed the bridge bunny for answers, but Maya wouldn't say anything. She seemed close to erupting in one of her temper tantrums, before the older girl finally gave in...
"They're dead, Asuka..."
It was a lie! There was no way, no way...not Misato! Not the Hero! Not the Invincible Shinji!
A few days later, Maya smuggled in some vid disc recordings of what happened during the battle, after she had passed out from blood loss. As she watched Unit-01 turn to face its demonic siblings, Maya told much of what she could of what happened in the headquarters...that Misato died while trying to get Shinji to board his EVA...and that Shinji, even though outnumbered, tried to fight off the nine other EVAs...
The images continued to flash in the small video player Maya had brought with her, as the female enlisted ratings tech continued with her narration...culminating with a battered Unit-01 being manhandled by the nine EVA series, before being lifted up over the Pyramid that was NERV central...
Then, there was a flash of light...before the image derezzled in a burst of static...the Evangelion had self-destructed, taking with it all nine of the white demons...a final act of someone she had thought for so long to be a spineless wimp...
The idiot...the stupid fool...he knew that he wasn't a match for the dummy-plug piloted EVAs...
If she had only fought harder...if she could have put more effort into the fight...then Misato wouldn't have had to send the moron to his death...and get herself killed trying to do so...
She failed. She failed yet again. But this time, it was her greatest failure of all...
* * * * *
I hate crying. Crying never gets anything done, never makes anything right. At least for now though, I let myself indulge in the action, the repressed reaction to extreme sadness.
Yes, I hate it. But for something I dislike, it feels so good afterward. Like a load had been lifted from my soul somewhat.
Could the same be said for simple human contact? Could it be the reason why I'm standing here, on a deserted stretch of road, waiting for a convenience to a place I left behind, and the people I inadvertedly left behind as well?
I'm such a hypocrite. I've been running away all this time. I'm no better than...than him...
"I know what I'm fighting for now." A smile, a final image before everything went black. "I have a reason..."
Maybe I've found a reason to come back? Maybe, just maybe, I miss them.
Feh. I should just stop kidding with myself. Of course I missed them.
I wipe my tears with the back of my battered coatsleeve, trying to compose myself as much as I could manage, as I see a bus turning the corner to my left. Picking up my backpack, I wave, hoping to get the bus driver's attention. A few moments later, the bus stops alongside, its automatic door opening, revealing the driver waiting patiently by his steering wheel.
"Tokyo-3?" The driver nods. I try to keep myself from smiling as I climb in, and found myself a seat amongst the other passengers.
I want to tell them how sorry I am...sorry for, well, a lot of sins, compounded on grief and guilt.
That, and I wanted to tell them, if they were still able to hear me wherever they are right now, that I missed them.
Hi, everyone. The story you see above, strangely enough, came out of my bout with low self-esteem and loneliness a night or so ago. You see, some classmates of mine took it unto theirselves to be EVA fanfic critics, and...well...the result was ugly. The draft of my first posted story, "the Birthday", was promptly shoved into the trash can, and I was laughed at for my 'mediocre characterization'. What was worse, no one else was home last night, so I was left alone to cope with my despair, and the creeping loneliness that always comes whenever I'm alone.
To tell you the truth, the thoughts of Asuka in this story more closely mirror my own thoughts last night...with one big difference: She was running away from the pain, while I was trying to end it...in a really [now that I think of it] scary way...One thing I promised to myself, and to Alain-sensei and Axel-kun, I would never repeat ever again.
Thank God for Guardian Angels.
Though Alain-sensei's not religious, he sure makes a great divine caretaker, whether intentional or not—he's there when I really need him, and always tries to raise the spirits of this girl who most of the time doesn't think she has anything going for her. He and Axel-kun, the dear ecchi, are my guardian Angels, whether they meant it to be or not.
Alain-sensei, Axel-kun, this story's for you two. It something in return for causing you two such trouble [and grief in between]. The perils of having a post-adolescent Filipina for a protegee and friend...really...
This is for the mailing list as well, which I seem to get into trouble in such strange ways. Sorry for the grief. I promise, it won't happen again.
As for the story, well...I never really gave the thing thought. It pretty much wrote itself, actually. Alain commented that it was a needed reprieve from writing "the Birthday", but it's more like an escape valve for pent-up frustrations...
Which is why the OOC tag is in place, as I really don't know if the characterization I used was correct. In the end though, it is up to the mailing list to decide if the Asuka I put forward in this story is 'in character'.
Well, that's it, I guess. I hoped that everyone enjoyed the story, even just a little bit.
As for me, well, it's the next scene of "the Birthday". What's in store? Reflections on the meaning of happiness, some help with the birthday preparations, and the visit from someone Shinji wasn't really expecting to see.
Who is it? Well, I'll give you one guess: in Japanese Fanfiction, she is considered an "Alternate Canon" character, as opposed to "Canon" characters like Asuka and Rei.
Yeah I know, I know, there are actually two alternate canon girls, and both of them are in my story, but I think what you'll want to ask yourselves is just who it is who makes her appearance first.
Alright, I've kept everyone too long. Now back to trying to figure out how to color Random1377's Maya/Shinji picture...Agh! I wish I knew how to water-color...
--Myssa Elaine S. Rei
UP student, fanartist, and anime fangirl extraordinaire.
Silly Anime thought for the day:
What would happen if Ayanami Rei, Kirishima Mana, and Kamigishiri Mayumi got in a catfight? It would be interesting, to say the least, if you consider that Megumi Hayashibara does all three voices of the girls.
First Draft finished: 08/13/2001, 3:00 P.M.
Second Draft finished: 08/13/2001, 6:30 P.M.
Final Draft finished: 08/14/2001, 3:30 A.M.