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Father Brother Lover Mother

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After what the Fifth Children said to her, Misato knows she can’t stay there any longer. Not today. She doesn’t even touch the paperwork — she goes straight home.

Her mind a fatigued and muddled mess in need of a respite, Misato pampers herself as best she can. She takes a nice, long bath. She forces herself to prepare some real food, even if it isn’t anything fancy. She goes to bed early.

But it’s no use. The supreme uncanniness of Kaworu Nagisa, and the creepiness of his completely unprompted words to her, run around her head in circles, purposelessly, like a dog chasing its own tail. She tosses and turns for one hour, then two, dreading the inevitability of her old night terrors coming back. Everything she worked so hard to leave behind is being forcibly dredged up. All the horrors of September 13, 2000 A.D., and everything that day took away.

She finally gives up. It’s just not happening. Maybe she just needs to watch some TV, or catch up on her magazines… take the skateboard out for a spin… something . Let her mind calm a bit.

Dazed, she rolls open the fusuma and starts going down the hall. Past the bathroom, past her folks’ room, out into the main living space. She settles in front of the TV, clicks it on, and is about to turn the volume up when she hears something behind her.

Repeated creaking and thudding. Grunting. Gasping. Moaning. She recognizes the voices, both of them. She freezes up and her throat goes dry.

Of course she knows what’s happening, over there in the kitchen. But she’s curious too. Gross as it is, she’s intensely curious. So she can’t stop herself from looking.

Misato sees her father’s completely naked figure, standing up against the kitchen table, torso stooped forward. He’s so thin, more than she thought he was. The man is so utterly divorced from reality that he can’t even remember to feed himself, but she didn’t know the problem had gotten this bad. And yet, in spite of that, he somehow has the vim and vigor to hold both of Mom’s legs — flailing around in his arms, toes curling — off the table while thrusting into her with a level of consistent force she’d never think him capable of producing. His grotesque body is glistening with sweat, and the repeated flexing-relaxing of his butt muscles is nothing short of hypnotic. She can barely see Mom, but she can definitely hear her, moaning like she’s being literally stabbed over and over, between breaths egging her husband on with whispered erotic demands. Dad is moaning too, but he’s showing at least a little modesty about it, as opposed to making sure the entire block knows they’re doing it.

Misato can’t hold her gaze longer than a couple of seconds before she has to look away, clutching her head on both sides. She can’t believe she looked even that long. She just wants to tell them to stop. She shouldn ’t have to see that . She shouldn ’t have to even know about it. Why does it have to be a choice between this and Mom barricading herself in her room to sob because Dad isn ’t putting out? What the hell is even wrong with adults?

What the hell is wrong with her for wanting to keep watching?

Suddenly, her father calls to her between belabored breaths. “Misato… This is the future I wanted you to see. Don’t look away.”

Slowly, she turns back around, and with great trepidation looks in the direction of his voice. The kitchen can barely be called that anymore; it’s changed somehow. So, too, has her father. His movements are far less frenzied. It’s almost as if he’s enjoying himself and savoring the experience — isn ’t just trying to get Mom off his case. But it ’s strange. All sorts of weird red wires are attached to him, concentrated along his spine. As her eye follows them up toward their source — a gigantic scaffold high above their heads — they’re bundled together into multiple larger cords with spiral cross-sections. His left arm reaches behind him now to scratch his back, and something about it doesn’t look right, almost like it’s… translucent? Just the one arm. Creepily, there’s fresh blood left behind on the skin that he touched, and, as he returns his hand to duty, it leaves a crimson trail on his side and the floor.

“What’s wrong with him?” she says, panicking. “What’s happening to my father??”

While still thrusting slowly, he bears his torso down sharply now, almost losing his footing. Misato can see Mom’s legs wrapping around him like a snare from below. Father’s scrawny arms reposition, keeping his chest propped up. His head leans in, like they’re kissing, and now a pair of powerful white hands seize the back of his head and cling to his shoulders, their touch inciting the red cords to thicken and move further into his body, spreading into him like roots. He moans very loudly now, and it’s entirely unclear if it’s a sound of pleasure, pain, or both.

Wait… White hands? Now she realizes, the legs are the same color. That ’s not Mom. And, listening again, the moans aren’t right either. They’re pitched super-deep, to the point they don’t even sound human.

“Misato!” her father cries. “I found you a new mother!” He’s repositioning himself now, bearing all his weight on his right arm, but she can’t see what he’s doing with the left. She can hear low, contented rumbling coming from whatever he’s screwing, though. Grunting with exertion, and voice turning manic, he spurts, “We’re making a little sibling for you, just like you always wanted! Say hello to Her, Misato! Say hello to your new mother!”

Misato gets to her feet and starts backing away. “No! I don’t want to see that! I don’t want to see any of the things you brought me here to see!!”

She bumps into somebody, and she quickly looks up behind her. It’s her father’s best friend. He was always so nice to her, it was easy to forgive him for being friends with an insane pervert. “Misato, you mustn’t run away from your father,” he tells her. “But above all else, you mustn’t run away from yourself.”

“No…” She tries to push past him, to the way out of here, but there is no way out. Father’s people are everywhere, and they won’t let her leave.

“This is an abomination against nature, Misato,” Father’s friend says, “and I said as much, many times, but no one would listen to me. Nobody ever listens to me. Now I have to stand here and watch this, same as you. We have no choice. And when that monster decides to kill us all, we’ll have no choice but to die, either.”

Just then, the table rotates to let her clearly see what’s going on. It’s not actually a table at all, but some kind of fancy armature or rig. Her father, partly consumed by the freaky red stuff, lies on top of another, much bigger and paler body. The body of what can only be an alien monster — or maybe even a demon from Hell — harnessed into that armature. It’s uncannily human in shape, but nothing is quite right. All the proportions are too elongated. Its muscles are perfectly formed, like a marble deity … but when stretched over that distorted skeleton, all beauty is lost. There’s some kind of shiny red ball in the chest, with strings of flesh growing into it from all sides. Nothing short of gross, especially the way her father is stroking it, like he’s trying to get the alien off or something. From the slack-jawed look on the creature’s face, he just might be. God, that face. It ’s like somebody stripped all flesh off a human skull and then put just the skin back on. The bulging eyes stare at her, nearly motionless, cold and reptilian despite their intensely red irises.

It’s the ugliest thing she’s ever seen.

Her father’s left arm isn’t the same as it was before. Now it’s more… milky-looking? His hand is leaving sticky residue on the red ball. Gross. He’s still going at it, too. Still thrusting into that… whatever it is. It doesn ’t look female at all, but, if she’s honest with herself, it doesn’t look male either. It just doesn’t look like anything. Does it have any holes at all? It must, because her father’s thing is repeatedly going some where.

The awful vocalizations of both parties indicate they’re getting close. She’s heard her parents enough times to know. Father’s motions intensify. The creature clings more forcefully to him. They’re giving each other the tongue, and it’s disgusting. The monster’s eyes are lighting up and bulging grotesquely from the sockets, and some weird gill-like things are opening up on the sides of the neck. Father heaves and moans and jabs himself into that alien’s hole harder and harder. The pale creature starts shuddering creepily, and it bellows, so loud it hurts her ears. Both it and her father are suddenly encased in a thick haze, like a fog or something. She can barely see into it, but she can still hear, and the inarticulate announcement of her father’s climax is loud and clear.

All of the red cords that had been sticking out of him fall limply to the ground, blood oozing from the connectors. She looks back up, and when the haze dissipates, the monster and her father are gone. Where they used to be, there’s just an egg. A single dark, oblong egg. Nothing more.

She slowly walks up, incredulous. Where did they go? What is this egg? She picks it up — it fits easily in her hands — and draws it toward her face to take a better look. But immediately it starts shaking and cracking.

Yelping in surprise, Misato drops it. The egg falls to the floor and shatters.

When she looks down, all she sees is a broken mug and the steaming-hot coffee that spilled from it.

***

Misato wakes up drenched in sweat, splayed out in front of the TV, some inane old B movie playing. Rubbing her side, she drags herself up, and becomes acutely aware of her throbbing headache. Misato seizes the side of her head and whimpers. Too much coffee and not enough water. She brought this upon herself.

She stumbles toward the bathroom and pauses in front of the door, bringing her hands to her knees, breathing deep and trying to find her bearings. Her brain is finally catching up. She was having a pretty messed up dream, just a moment ago, wasn’t she? What the hell even was that? The fuck is wrong with her brain? To make matters worse, she’s certain that this dream is, at least in some aspects, a place her mind has been before. Here, on the verge between sleep and wakefulness, where one can briefly look over the wall of the conscious mind upon the normally inaccessible dreamscapes of the past, she knows most of tonight’s terrain is old and familiar.

What is her mind trying to tell her…?

After she’s done in there, she flicks the kitchen light on. Immediately, she notices that the pile of Shinji’s things she had left on the kitchen table is gone. He was here while she was knocked out. Was he creeping around like a ninja or something? She couldn’t have been sleeping that soundly…

Misato brings a big, icy glass of water with her to the living room table. As she sips from it, she checks out the movie. It’s some black and white deal where aliens have come to Earth to steal people’s faces, or something like that. Pretty silly, over-the-top stuff.

Makes her think, though. She’s pretty sure her father was in whatever psychotic dream she just had. He’s been in plenty of her dreams. But now that she tries to visualize him while awake, she finds that… she just can’t. Not in full. There are plenty of things she can remember about him, but in the part of her memory where his face should be, there’s just ambiguity. It never struck her until this moment that maybe that might be weird.

That is weird, though. Really weird. Is she just having a moment here? This problem should be an easy enough fix, though.

Misato goes into her room and retrieves a little safety deposit box she had stashed away. With a key that had been hiding in a kitchen drawer, she opens it. The box is stuffed with miscellaneous tokens of her pre-Second Impact life. Aside from what’s in here, Misato has her memories and nothing more.

She rattles the box, as if to assure herself that all of the heavier knick-knacks at the bottom are still in place. Satisfied, she pulls out a pile of photographs. Many of them are in poor condition — water damage, fire damage, bleaching, footprints, etc. — but every single one is an irreplaceable treasure, a snapshot of a world that’s gone forever. Misato feels warm, uplifting emotions and feelings of total desolation play tug of war over her heart. Her kickass aunt — owner of her own business, free spirit, no-nonsense but also fun; simply put, the best — showing off her sweet European cars. Father’s best friend and his incredible family, who had helped her and Mom through the worst of times. The band of kind-hearted delinquents she used to hang out with. Teachers and friends at school; events, after-school activities, special accomplishments. Mom’s parents. Father’s parents, too — huh, she had completely forgotten that they were Christian. (Despite the necklace, Father sure as hell wasn’t.) There’s one photo of Misato as a very young girl with a puppy; she can’t remember any details there, but it’s adorable as all hell.

The two people who are missing from the main photo stack couldn ’t be more obvious. But she knows she wouldn’t just get rid of those . She upends the entire box. The last thing to come out is a sealed and unmarked envelope. Yep, there they are. Without hesitation, she breaks the envelope and reveals the contents.

Mom and Father ’s photos are in here, all right. But, as luck would have it, not a single one is intact. Misato defaced — quite literally so — all of them years ago, under emotional circumstances she would rather not dwell upon much. Both parents had done seemingly everything in their power to betray their daughter’s love and trust, and — Misato had reasoned at the time — neither of them ‘deserved to be remembered’.

The only reason her father ultimately comes out on top is because he didn ’t die selfishly. Instead of giving in to his worst tendencies and letting them drag him under, he was, at the very end of it all, able to break free of his own curse and truly do something for somebody else. That is why Misato allows him to live on in her thoughts. In her eyes, his death was his redemption — not the ultimate betrayal.

She feels the tears welling up inside her. But she denies her mother any power over her. That was the one vow she made that she ’s been able to uphold. No matter what, she wouldn’t become like her mother. She wouldn’t cry endlessly over a man or anybody else. She wouldn’t give up on herself and the rest of the world. None of that. Misato shed tears for Kaji exactly once. Twice for Shinji — already one time too many. She can’t remember how many times she’s cried, thinking about what happened to Mom. But this won’t be another of those times.

She puts everything back in the box the way it had been, restores the box to its hiding place, and returns the key to its drawer.

So, maybe she had been an overly temperamental teenager back in 2000. No big deal. She can just look up her father ’s personnel file. He has a record in Nerv’s database, as all members of its predecessor Gehirn do. She boots up her computer and logs into the network. Once there, she inputs their surname kanji, and… yep, there he is. Katsuragi, Dr. Akira .

Given her father ’s involvement with the super -classified activities of UN Underground Base 02, Misato would have to be naive to think nothing would be under lock and key. But she didn ’t expect it to be quite on this level. All photography and video footage is shuttered behind the top security level. There isn ’t so much as a boring mug shot that she, Nerv HQ’s head of Tactical Operations, can access legitimately. Out of morbid curiosity, Misato looks up the records of his closest associates. Their photos are all there, but any number of group shots have been subjected to censoring. Sometimes it ’s a blurred patch, sometimes it’s a black rectangle; but it’s always obvious from some cue or another that Dr. Katsuragi is the person being omitted.

What the hell is going on? None of this makes any damn sense.

She tries going into the public news database and bringing up some old articles about him. Anything . They ’re all censored — every last one. Her mind boggles over the logistics here. Just how extensive is this campaign to erase her father ’s visage from history? Maintaining an iron grip over archives within Nerv’s direct control, or at least sphere of influence, fine . But these efforts can’t possibly be complete. Her father has appeared in printed articles, even on TV. He’s traveled and spoken at conventions, and any number of people could have photographed him there. It’s just not possible to erase someone like him completely.

But, depending on the exact reason for all this, maybe they didn’t need to. Maybe the scrub job just needed to be “good enough”.

She’d surprisingly never attempted to look up her own father before. Perhaps it was because she simply wanted to feel rid of him, and not stirring up old shit was — when possible or practical — the simplest way to achieve that. So she didn’t know about any of this until now.

Part of her is strongly tempted to pull out the passkeys that Kaji gave her and use them right here and now. Bulldoze her way to the truth. But that would be stupid. The whole reason she’s been putting off a hack of the Nerv database is so that she can plan every aspect of it perfectly. She’ll have one shot to break in, securely grab the data, and get it to Hyuga’s contact in the government — all without getting caught. So of course she’s been waiting for the ideal opportunity. After the weirdness that she just discovered, though, she might not be able to wait any longer. She might have to create her own opportunity. Whatever happens, though, she won’t let all the risks that Kaji took upon himself be for nothing.

Kaji

Misato grabs the photo of Kaji, Ritsuko, and herself in college off its shelf, and she studies the face of her dead lover intently. She knows that she was drawn to Kaji in the first place because there was something about him that reminded her of her father. For a moment she wonders if it could be, at least in part, his appearance… but very quickly she strikes the idea down. She can’t remember exactly what her father looked like, but she can recall much of what he wasn’t. Now, of course, there was a certain intangible something that the two men shared, a feeling of similarity that transcended the superficial… but in terms of overall physique and composure, they couldn’t have been more different.

Her father was… how to put this … on the effeminate side. Very delicate and pretty. She remembers teasing him about it relentlessly. Kaji had a robust and hardy appearance, but her father looked like he would shatter under the slightest pressure. And he did , more or less — at least where private interpersonal challenges were concerned. In the public and professional spheres, things were very different.

There, his beauty went hand-in-hand with his charisma. Away from home, he was a super-attractive, hyper-intelligent, free-spirited, hard-working pariah of the theoretical physics world, and as idolized by young people as he was despised by the establishment. Misato hated having to hear about him from her friends and teachers, who always thought she ’d want to see any publicity related to him, any at all. She didn’t. She never did. What good were he and his super duper who-gives-a-fuck theory if he couldn ’t even be there for her and Mom? Like, really there. It felt like his only two modes were “ramble incessantly about work” and “run away and cry like a sissy behind closed doors because showing genuine interest in others is too hard”.

Not that she could remember ever seeing the guy actually cry, save for the day he died… Hiding behind a smile was his favored first line of defense. But it always felt like a reasonable deduction to make, for all sorts of reasons.

Just thinking about all of that again, she can feel the curdled resentment that’s still there deep inside of her, stinking as bad as ever. But, somehow, the more angry she lets herself get at him, the more she wants him back. She’s been ready to open her heart to him for a long time now… Just cut the wound open and let all the poison out so they can both finally heal… achieve the catharsis that’s so desperately needed. But he’s gone forever, and it will never happen. She’s condemned to spend the rest of her life trying to exorcise his ghost from her life, over and over and over.

His ghost ……

Suddenly, it’s like a long-blocked pathway in her memories is finally clear. She can see his face again. She can really see him!! Her heart is already racing by the time she’s consciously processed this realization.

Her father’s facial features… they’re… the same as the Fifth’s . He’s older, of course, with skull grown to full adult proportions, and his accumulated years starting to show around his eyes, but, otherwise… exactly the fucking same.

Misato’s first impulse is to reject the mental image completely. It can’t be right. It can’t possibly. That’s just stupid. There’s no way.

But the longer it sits with her, the more right it feels. The more she realizes she can ’t reject it. Even if she was able to block it out for a long time … that’s just him . That’s how he always looked.

Already, images are coming back that remind her just why she put up that barricade in the first place. The very last time she saw him, he was—

Tears well up in her eyes and she’s overwhelmed with nausea. She clasps her mouth and abdomen, gritting her teeth to get through this.

Don’t think about it. You’re a big girl now; you’ve seen far worse things. Come on.

You don’t have to hide him away anymore.

***

She takes a break to freshen up. It’s a nice enough night, so she enjoys an instant cup of noodles on the veranda. From here, she can see the crater-lake and the barrier around it, red warning lights that ceaselessly cycle on and off spaced at regular intervals. Even with all the weird shit she’s seen, it’s still hard to imagine that the Angels they fought, and thought they destroyed, apparently still exist in spirit form. They’re all right there, lurking upon the lake, unseen but not undetected. Waiting for the last of their kind to come and save them from the void.

Fancifully, she wonders: could her father’s ghost still be down there, at the South Pole? Have he and the rest of the team been waiting patiently for their own resurrection? As little as she knows about the current state of the Antarctic, she is vaguely aware that the entire area is effectively in its own bubble. Everything within was completely transformed, and it never went back; the sharp division between that “Adamic world” and the rest of the world has remained perfectly intact ever since Second Impact. If the conditions have remained totally unchanged, does that mean the entire area is in its own sort of stasis? Nothing’s able to live or grow, but nothing can degrade from its current state either? If true, would that mean…? How incredible that would be……

The Angels… Her father… They’ve long been linked in her mind. All because of what happened that day.

On September 13, 2000, her father made her watch an experiment, one where he had volunteered himself as a living human test subject. Adam was there… connected to her father by way of a giant, nightmarish biomechanical rig. And now, fifteen years later, she’s learned of Kaworu Nagisa, a doppelgänger of her father with the blood-red eyes and pale skin of Adam.

Back then, nobody told her anything about what the experiment was for. What it was trying to achieve, or how. But, now, the pieces are finally starting to all come together. Just a little more.

Just a little more, and she’ll have the truth she’s desired for so long.

Nagisa is surely in the know already. But she’s afraid of approaching the matter too head-on. That boy terrifies her on a level that shakes her all the way to the bedrock of her soul.

So she goes to Ritsuko instead.

***

It’s a callous thing to do — her old friend from college, awaiting her tribunal all alone in a dark cell, and Misato is visiting her not out of camaraderie or compassion, but because she needs something. Selfish as can be, but she’s far too close to the truth now to justify any restraints on her selfishness.

Acting on Hyuga’s intel, and using some of clout that the deputy commander promised her, she’s able to muscle her way in. She finds Ritsuko simply sitting there with her back to the door, arms draped over her knees, motionless. The woman has been completely broken. Misato doesn’t even want to imagine what Ritsuko’s gone through that would destroy her spirit so completely. She’s heard some faint whispers, and, if true, it’s so awful that she just doesn’t want to think about it.

She’s here for a purpose, not to dispense pity.

“Ritsuko… I need to know something.”

Surprisingly, Ritsuko responds immediately. “All conversations in here are recorded, you know.”

“Not this one,” Misato says.

Ritsuko shifts in her chair almost imperceptibly. “I see.”

Misato goes on. “What information do you have on the Fifth Children?”

“Why assume I have any?”

“I’m not in the mood for your bullshit right now,” Misato snaps. “We’re walking on a tightrope out here, so out with it. Who is he? What is he? ‘Nagisa’ — that’s not really his family name, is it?”

The faintest intimation of a laugh. “You just came here to have me tell you what you already know, didn’t you?”

Misato’s fingers bunch tightly against her palms. “I want to know I’m not going crazy! What happened, Ritsuko? On the day my father died?!”

“You saw it with your own eyes,” Ritsuko says quietly. “You should know.”

The urge to slap her again is rising fast. “No one told me anything! I don’t know what I saw!”

Ritsuko sighs. “I don’t know very much. But I understand that the team your father lead… their true goal in studying Adam was not merely to unlock the secrets of the S² engine. It was to figure out a way to join Man and God.”

Misato’s eyes grow wide, and her hand slowly covers her mouth.

“The experiment that day… the one you were present for… According to what I’ve heard, it was a transgenic procedure. An attempt to recombine the genomes of normally incompatible organisms.”

“Using Adam,” Misato breathes, “and… and my…”

“Yes,” Ritsuko says. “Dr. Akira Katsuragi, your father.”

She stares at her feet. “So the Fifth Children, the reason he looks like that… The real reason he’s so familiar… He’s—”

“…the half-brother you never knew you had. But probably also…” She trails off. The cell door closes and Misato leaves without a word. “An artificial Angel to bridge Adam’s children and the final sacrifice. That’s what he is.”