The characters of “Neon Genesis: Evangelion” are owned by
Gainax; the characters of Ah! My Goddess are owned by Kosuke Fujishima. This is an amateur, non-commercial
story which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the
holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it
intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. Fly me to the moon…
The last man alive beheld his kingdom.
The desolation was overwhelming. Rubble lay where buildings had once stood. The acrid stench of smoke from random fires assaulted his nostrils. Fallen power lines hissed and spat as they writhed along the ground. A forlorn breeze wafted here and there, rippling the shirts, slacks and dresses that lay helter-skelter, drenched in orange puddles. A terrible stillness hung in the air, an absolute silence that chilled his very soul.
Worst of all, the fallen, bloated body that resembled Rei Ayanami still lay in the sea, eyes open and staring blankly at him. Was it an accusing gaze, blaming him for his unwilling role in what had happened? Was she watching him, waiting to see what his first actions in this brave new world would be? Or was she just giving him the same flat, emotionless stare that he’d encountered so many times during the days before?
“I feel awful.” Asuka had been saying that over and over for the last hour. Shinji fought down the impulse to wrap his fingers around her pretty throat and shut her up once and for all, and chose instead to walk away. Given the destruction all around him, there was really only one direction to head in - to the sea, to the place where Ayanami lay waiting.
The ocean water was warm; for some strange reason Shinji thought of it as blood. He stepped forward, letting the sea flow around his feet, then took another step. It wrapped around his ankles, ebbing and flowing with the waves. Another step, and it was halfway up his calves. Another step, and it reached his knees.
Back on the shore, Asuka screamed, pleaded and begged Shinji to come back, to not leave her alone like this. He ignored her and took another resolute step forward.
It was so easy, Shinji reflected as he moved forward and felt the warm waters dance around his waist. It was such a passive way to die. Before too long he’d be in over his head - just like he’d been since the day his father had summoned him to Tokyo-3 - and the waters would gently fill his lungs. He could just let go and let them take his body wherever it wished, and as for his soul - assuming he had one - perhaps it would go to the place where Misato, Kaje, Touji, Hikari, Kensuke and all the others had gone. He’d be at peace, once and for all.
The waters lapped against his neck. Shinji tasted salt water on his tongue and blinked; it wasn’t from the sea, but from the tears flowing down his face. He saw Misato in his mind’s eye once more, remembered how she’d fought to give him one last chance to stop everything from going to hell. He wondered what he’d say to her when he saw her again. He wondered what he could possibly say to redeem himself in her eyes.
“I wish…” Shinji paused as a bout of sobbing erupted throughout his body. “I wish…I WISH NONE OF THIS HAD EVER HAPPENED!”
“One moment, please.”
Shinji looked up and saw heaven on earth. She floated above the sea, the tips of her long brown hair just dancing against the waters. Her flowing white dress drifted about in the breeze, framed by a blue and yellow vest. And her face…Shinji swallowed hard as he gazed up into her impossibly dark eyes, finding that he couldn’t look away even if he wanted to. He could feel compassion, warmth and love in its purest form flow out from those incredible eyes, filling his own empty, aching soul to overflowing. And what the eyes couldn’t cure, the smile could.
Shinji knew he was in the presence of a goddess.
She smiled again, and then looked up to the gray heavens. White light burst from the symbol on her forehead and ascended to some unseen destination. A minute later, the beam was gone, and she looked down at Shinji again, her smile grown even brighter if that was possible. “I’m happy to report your wish has been accepted,” she said, in a soft voice.
“My…my wish?” Shinji gasped.
The goddess nodded. “Just one moment.” A cell phone appeared in her hand. “This is Belldandy,” she said brightly. “I’m going to need a little assistance on this one…yes, both of you, Skuld, and see if you can’t get Peorth too. Okay. See you in a minute.” The phone vanished, and Belldandy stretched out her hand to Shinji. “This isn’t really a good place to be. Why don’t we head back to the shore?”
He was too flabbergasted to decline. The very touch of her fingers against his lifted him out of the water to her side, and within moments they were standing at the edge of the waters again. Or at least, Shinji was standing. Belldandy hovered just above the ground.
“So…what are you going to do?” he asked, his voice trembling.
“We’re going to grant your wish. None of this will have ever happened.” Belldandy looked out at the giant Ayanami and smiled sadly. “You know, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to intervene. Each time, we hope it will be the last.”
“I…I caused all this,” Shinji said, hanging his head in shame.
“Perhaps.” Belldandy placed a hand on his shoulder. “On the other hand, it’s your wish that will restore it.” She looked up and smiled. “Here they come.”
Shinji lifted his head to the skies, and a heartbeat later his jaw fell towards the ground. Three beautiful women were slowly descending toward them: the youngest had long black hair and a polo mallet strapped to her back; the second had incredible silver tresses, a body that men would kill to touch, and eyes that seemed to know far too much; and the third had short brown hair, an incredible outfit that combined leather and silk, and was accompanied by the unmistakable aroma of roses.
“Ready when you are, Belldandy!” the youngest called.
“Thank you, Skuld. Thank you all for coming!” Belldandy turned to Shinji. “This will take a while. Why don’t you go wait with Asuka while we work?”
“But…what are you going to do?”
Belldandy smiled. “I told you. We’re going to grant your wish.”
* * * * *
Years later, Shinji could never quite relate what had happened. Words proved to be far too inadequate to describe what the four goddesses had done. He remembered that the heavenly quartet had soared up into the sky and formed a loose circle. A moment later each goddess had been joined by an angel… but not the terrible monsters he and Asuka had battled for all these months. These were the true angels of legend, beautiful and awe-inspiring.
“What’s going on?” Asuka stammered, staring into the heavens with her one good eye.
“I don’t know,” Shinji whispered.
And then the goddesses began to sing. It was a song that echoed the desolation and emptiness that surrounded the world and Shinji’s soul. It was heartache, pain and loneliness incarnate. Tears filled his eyes as the terrible, wondrous melody reached into his heart and soul.
Four new voices joined the song, and Shinji realized the angels had joined in. The harmony was complex and unearthly, but so beautiful he never wanted it to end. Love, joy, and hope flowed into it, weaving a pattern of light and dark that grew with every passing second. It expanded around the goddesses and their heavenly guardians, then slowly stretched out to envelop the broken, shattered Earth in its warm embrace.
Humans were never meant to witness such events. Shinji reeled under the love and warmth of the song as it flowed over him and Asuka. His senses, unable to handle what they were processing, simply shut down. He fell backwards to the ground and lost consciousness, but even then some part of him continued to hear the song as it strove to heal the planet’s wounds.
The song seemed to go on forever, but at long last the melody began to conclude. Arms outstretched to one another, the goddesses and angels built the song up to one final crescendo, one final blessing to bestow upon their weary world to give it hope for seeing another day. And then the song was over, the task completed, and the goddesses looked down upon the Earth and reviewed their handiwork.
And they rejoiced.
* * * * *
Shinji awoke to a world of noise. Power lines hummed and crackled above where he lay. Birds sang and called to one another. Waves crashed against the nearby shore. Far off in the distance, cars honked at one another as traffic snaked up and down the streets of Tokyo-3. And close beside him, a completely healed Asuka snored softly, lost in a deep slumber.
He sat slowly up, and blinked as the afternoon sun overwhelmed his vision. Shinji lifted a hand to his forehead and squinted. It was a far different world than the one he’d just left, far different from the one he’d known. There was something changed, something different that he couldn’t quite put a name to but that filled everything - land, sea and sky.
Shinji turned around to find the goddess Belldandy floating there, a bright smile on her face. “There’s hope once more. You see, even in your old world it was hard to keep hope alive, Shinji. The Angel attacks, the devastation brought down upon the Earth…it was a very dark and trying time. It’s hard to keep hope alive in your heart when all seems lost.
“But now, thanks to your wish, we were able to bring not only life back to the planet, but hope as well. And it is that hope for a better tomorrow that will sustain you all in the days to come.”
“What…what did you do?” Shinji said, his voice hoarse.
Belldandy placed a hand on his shoulder. “We saw what had happened and grieved, Shinji. But we goddesses are under strict limits as to what we can and cannot do. Mankind brought destruction upon itself; as much as we wanted to give life a second chance, we weren’t permitted to do anything. At least, not until you gave us the opportunity through your wish.” She waved out at the world around them. “You are responsible for all of this, Shinji. We could not have done this without you making that wish.”
“But…” Shinji faltered. “Misato…Kaji…everyone’s dead…”
Belldandy shook her head. “No. Not now. It never happened, Shinji. And it never will.”
“I don’t understand!”
“We have changed things so that the…Angels…” She made a face. “The creatures you called Angels will never attack again. Of course, your father’s organization still exists, but they wait for an invasion that will never come. You and Asuka are here to train as pilots, but you will never have need to use your EVA units. Eventually, your father will most likely have a nervous breakdown and have to resign, and without his leadership and guidance, NERV will disband.”
“Wait.” An odd feeling welled up in Shinji’s chest, one that he couldn’t identify. “You mean…Misato…?”
Belldandy nodded. “Alive.”
“All alive and well.” Belldandy grinned. “And you two are going to be in great trouble for missing class today.”
“I…I can live with that.” Something important suddenly occurred to Shinji. “Rei?”
Belldandy’s smile faded just a bit. “She never truly had a soul of her own, Shinji. I’m afraid we couldn’t do anything about Rei. I’m sorry.”
“O…okay.” Shinji glanced down at the still-sleeping Asuka. “So…what happens now?”
“What happens now…is that you and Asuka go back to your lives.” Belldandy nodded toward Tokyo-3. “You’ll go to school, work, play, fall in love, marry, have children…all the things people do in the course of a lifetime. It won’t always be happy times, Shinji. There must be darkness so that joy might be better appreciated. But you have something you lacked before. You have hope.”
“I guess. I’ve never really had any before, so I don’t know what it’s like.” He rubbed the back of his head and stared out at the ocean. “So will I remember all this?”
Belldandy nodded. “You will. No one else will, but someone must remember what took place.”
“So that it will never happen again.” Belldandy’s smile faded for a fraction of a second, then returned in all its glory. “Well, Mr. Shinji Ikari, it has been a pleasure meeting you and granting you your wish. If you would please fill out this customer satisfaction survey form, and drop it off at the church, shrine or temple of your choice we would greatly appreciate your feedback so that we may better serve you in the future. Thank you and we hope to see you again someday…” The goddess leaned forward and kissed Shinji’s cheek, then ascended toward the heavens, rising faster and faster until he could no longer see her.
“Goodbye, Belldandy,” he whispered, still clutching the pages she’d handed him.
At that moment, Asuka finally woke up. “Boy, I feel great,” she groaned, sitting up and stretching her arms. She glanced up at Shinji. “Y’see, Third Child? I told you playing hooky for a day wouldn’t kill you. Admit it, I was right, wasn’t I?”
He looked down at her and smiled, the first smile that had been on his face in far too long a time. “Yeah, you were right, Asuka. But I think it’s time we headed back.”
“Ohhhh, probably.” She sighed as she rose to her feet. “I just hate all those synch ratio tests and having to sit in that terrible LCL for hours on end, don’t you? I’d much rather swim or play a game of tennis or listen to some music or go shopping with Hikari, you know?” She suddenly noticed Shinji’s smile and frowned. “Just why do you look so pleased with yourself, Shinji? Were you looking up my dress or down my blouse when I was asleep, huh? Get a good peek in, did you?”
“Nah.” Shinji’s grin widened.
“No? What, I’m not good enough to peep at, is that it, Third Child? Of course, all that time you lived with Misato before I showed up probably overloaded the hentai fantasy centers in your brain, I’ll bet. I swear, that woman has no sense of modesty whatsoever. I don’t know what on Earth my sweet Kaji ever saw in her, and I won’t know until the day I die…”
Shinji took a step forward, enjoying the simple sensation of his foot pressing into the sand. He took another step, turning around to see the imprint he’d made. Another step, and now Asuka was moving alongside him, still going on about this and that and everything and nothing at all, and they were walking together, back to Misato and Kaji and Touji and Kensuke and Maya and Shigeru and Ritsuko and all of their world…
He hoped it was everything he’d wished for.