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Tabris wakes in a sea of nothing. It's calm there. Quiet. He can vaguely sense his brothers and sisters, both separate and blended with himself. In a way, he thinks he should feel peaceful now but he doesn't. He has unfinished business.

But there's nothing to go back to. If he brought himself back, he would only make things worse. That world is closed to him now. Shinji is closed from him. And that is, perhaps, what troubles him the most.

Tabris does not regret what he did. It was necessary and there was really no other alternative. He can't help thinking of how it could have been, though. How it might have been if his need to rejoin with Adam had been weaker. If his will had been stronger.

Shinji hates him, he's rather sure. How could he not? Shinji is unfailingly human and that was what Tabris loved most about him. Why he loved him at all. Tabris knew joining with Adam would mean the end of everything and even though he could do little to stop the urge, the death of humanity would have saddened him. He had been made to love humans, even if only one of them had ever truly become special to him.

He catches glimpses of that world after he's left it. They're fractured and out of order. Sometimes, he sees little pieces from when Shinji was very young, and sometimes it's from a desolate future with only two souls to share it. The visions are always of Shinji. Tabris thinks, perhaps, that's how it had to be. Though he hadn't known it, though no one had known it, Shinji is the only critical soul in that world. The only one that had ever mattered.

It's quiet. Tabris can feel himself floating and dispersing. His sense of self is growing weaker as he's absorbed into the nature of the universe. His role is complete. His memories are useless to any but himself now.

Tabris doesn't want to let go.

So he doesn't. He pulls and gathers himself, pushes bits and pieces of the others outside himself. He knows that if he lets any of them blend with him, it will be over. He'll be gone. But Tabris doesn't want to be gone. He has unresolved business. He wants to try again.

In a blinding moment as the last piece of himself filters back into his collective self, there is pain. It rips and tears and blinds him to all else. He thinks maybe he's dying, soul death, but it lasts too long. It lasts for an eternity.

Then he opens his eyes. And realizes he has eyes to open.

Tabris looks at his hands. His body. He has one and it's as he remembered it. Thin, lanky, pale. Five fingers and five toes. Human. He touches his face and feels the familiar features, rakes his fingers back through messy hair. For a moment, he wonders if he's dreaming but he would have to be physical to dream.

He realizes he's smiling. He has a mouth to smile with.

Tabris doesn't know how long he wades through the mix euphoria and astonishment, but eventually he lifts his gaze and notices that he's not in the void anymore. Its dark and cold around him and he feels he should be breathing but there's nothing to breath. Instead, he is surrounded by small, green and blue spheres.

It takes touching one before Tabris realizes what they are. Worlds. Some of them are barren, from wars or disasters. Some of them are covered in sprawling cities choking with smog. Some of them are forested wonderlands. The ones he's really interested in are like the world he just left.

All of them are Earth. They're the same world, but different choices shaped them. Different people.

"Shinji," Tabris finds himself whispering as he finds a world where Shinji will be born, has been born, has died in. He could go there. He could be with Shinji again. But then he realizes that in this world, Shinji is happy. Shinji didn't need him. Tabris rejects the world immediately. He won't be party to possibly ruining that for him.

So he searches. He looks through every world, looking for one where Shinji needs him. Where angels don't exist. Where he would be a boon instead of causing tragedy. When he finds a few worlds that meet these needs, he chooses the one that he will impact the most. He finds a Shinji who cannot make it on his own. Who needs guidance. Needs him. A friend, a confidant. Him.

Tabris is the angel of free will. He thinks maybe it's time to use it.

Joining that world brings pain and confusion. He searches out a proper parent host, finds an infant that would die without his interference, where a soul has not yet laid claim. Tabris claims the body himself and imprints his name upon his new mother's mind. He's selfish. He wants that name. The one Shinji called him.

Nagisa Kaworu is born into a new world on a cool, winter morning. When he cries at his rebirth, it is with joy.