INSERT COIN, PRESS START
A Neon Genesis Evangelion Yaoi Fanfic
By Peregrine Vision

I am an Angel.

I do not die.

Lost in the void after my body's death I float, waiting to be called. Little did my poor lover know that all eighteen of us served but one simple purpose: to challenge him in a game of a Creator's own devising. It was only a game, and a minor one at that; a diversion from His boredom, no more. No wonder Itoshii and the others had to struggle so hard to find meaning in their lives. There simply was none. All that madness at the end was the board collapsing in on itself: our Master had grown bored of the game and sent the pieces flying. Now I wait with the other pieces, stored in anticipation of a new Master, another God who will rearrange the pieces to His/Her/Its fancy, and we will once again be set in our places.

Humans move of their own free will; unlike us Angels, they are pieces that may move as they wish and not as a Master wishes. This is their blessing, and their curse, for they are the only free things in a programmed world.

Itoshii's father knew this. Perhaps that is why he had grown so alien, so inhuman. At the end, he gave up on his freedom as pointless and became an automaton, programmed himself as a form of perhaps the ultimate protest.

He could have at least explained it to his son, to spare poor Itoshii everything. But then Shinji-kun would not have become the shining human creature I loved, and love still.

Everyone sees Ikari Shinji as a weakling, a spineless pawn of his father and circumstance. But I understood his apparent cowardice and compliance as a rebellion against his father, who bent everything to his will. He hated the strength of his father, and thinking that it was the only kind of strength in the world, refused outright to be strong. But against his will he was forced to fight, to destroy other living creatures. The death of every Angel tortured him, for he saw us also as natural beings with every right to live. He never wanted to kill them.

Us.

Me.

And I loved him for that, for caring indiscriminately about everything. He loved his miserable world and his cruel father. He loved his clueless friends, who went on with their teenage lives unaware of the great darkness that he fought, alone. He even loved those two ungrateful female creatures who haunted his dreams and spoiled his waking moments.

No, that is not fair of me. I have never been unfair before...perhaps I am still just a little bit human. An amusing thought.

~

I accosted the First Child...Lilith, I should say, in the compound. I told her that I knew. "You and I," I said, "are the same."

Her crimson eyes, the same color as mine, fixed on me warily. "Who are you?"

"Tabris," I said, giving my Angel's name (Kaworu will always be my true name). "The one before you."

To my surprise, her eyes softened, and her face grew sad. "So soon?" she said in her same expressionless voice, at odds with her words and her wistful expression. In one hand she clutched an old pair of glasses with cracked lenses.

As Lilith she had never been so vulnerable. Nor had I been vulnerable as Tabris, before meeting my Itoshii. I realized our shared helplessness in that moment. We had taken the forms of humans, but the Creator of the game had forgotten that bodies shape souls almost as irresistibly as souls shape bodies. We were becoming human.

"You had more time," I told her, and was surprised when my voice came out with a faint tinge of resentment. She too was startled, and almost stared at me openly.

"We were created for our purpose, at a time when it served our purpose," she said defensively. "I am in these forms" (subtly reminding me of her two former clones) "for as long as I need to be. As you are."

We stared at each other, wordless. Both of us Angels, yet feeling humanity creeping slowly over us and taking root in a space where our souls would be, if we had them. And both of us defenseless against this attack, against the invasion of love and yearning and hurt.

Then she turned away. "You have a purpose to fulfill," she reminded me, and brushed past me to wherever she was going.

~

I can still feel, even in this emptiness; or is this only a memory of feeling? I remember feeling sorry for poor beautiful Itoshii, as he stood all alone (or so he thought) on the beach where I met him. I remember feeling happy when I described song. And I remember the strange quivery feeling in my chest when he smiled up at me and asked me to call him Shinji.

No, this is no mere memory; even though I have no body here I can still feel the almost physical pain that touches me when I think of him and his poor lost soul. He was so brave, and so tender; only Katsuragi-san understood how truly brave he was. That Asuka creature only looked on him as a coward. She spurned him and mocked him, touted her own hollow bravado in withering contrast with his reluctance. She knew nothing, even until the end.

Yes. There it is. This is no memory this time: I am still angry whenever I think of her. Even a little bit jealous, knowing that Shinji-kun wanted her.

Jealous. I am jealous. This is wonderful. I bask in the feeling, revelling in my jealousy, knowing it makes me all the more human. I cling to my humanity (what is left of it); it is all I have left of him.

Except for the memories.

~

I still cannot believe I just went into that bath with him. I had so little time; and I wanted so much. It was my duty to gain his trust so I could betray him, but this way I could fulfill my very personal need to just be with him, to be his friend. Sitting there in the scalding water we could forget our respective missions. We were just two boys sitting side by side in the bath, talking.

I could not resist his closeness then, and gently laid my hand on his. He blinked at me, startled, but nervously accepted my touch. I knew he had let no one else touch him before, not even Katsuragi-san, and I was grateful.

"Why won't you let other people touch you?" I asked him gently. "Are you afraid to feel? Do you think you are opening yourself to hurt and betrayal, if you do?"

He stared silently at me, surprised by the questions. I leaned back against the rim of the bathtub and stared at the hateful symbol plastered across the screen in front of us. GOD'S IN HIS HEAVEN, ALL'S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD, it proclaimed. A finer piece of sarcasm I have never seen. Ikari Gendou, wherever he is now, is a master. "Humans can't run from sadness forever, you know," I said softly. I think I was talking more to myself than to him then; I realize now that I was referring to humans as "them." "But they can forget, and so they can go on living."

We sank into silence then, his thoughtful, mine sad. I can't quite remember what I was thinking about; I think I was regretting how soon this time with him would be over. The next day everything would change.

A small movement in the bath alerted me. He was ready to get up. "Oh, is it over already?" I asked wistfully, and Shinji-kun turned his puzzled dark-blue eyes on me.

I realized then that I loved him. I no longer wanted to fulfill my mission; I just wanted to stay and take this confused, lonely, human boy in my arms and make sure he was never unhappy again. I felt a pain suddenly in my chest. It throbbed almost like a living thing, and it made me feel almost human.

"Humans always feel pain," I said softly. "The heart is easy to wound. That's why living hurts."

"Yes," he whispered. His eyes were deep with understanding, and it almost made me quiver visibly, right in front of him. No one had ever seen him like this before me, and the sudden emotion and wonder was so strong it threatened to overwhelm me.

"Your heart in particular is so fragile," I told him, trembling a little, my desire beginning to rise like the clouds of steam coming up from the water. "Like glass..."

"My heart?" he said.

I stood abruptly, to cover my own confusion. "You deserve...sympathy," I said, for the first time struggling for words. I wasn't ready. I didn't want to love him, or anyone. I didn't even know whether Angels could feel love. Wasn't it only reserved for humans? I almost said koi, love, but I hesitated over the word and it came out kooi, or sympathy, instead.

"Kooi?" he said, staring up at me with those beautiful blue eyes, so that my resistance failed completely and I made up my mind.

"I mean," I said desperately, "I love you."

He looked shocked at this. Shinji-kun was a normal, hormonal, 14-year-old boy who had enough problems with girls. I'm sure he never even considered the possibility of a boy being in love with him.

But I dropped to my knees in front of him, unwilling to restrain myself any longer. Tomorrow I would lose him, and this time was all I could have. Before he could protest I leaned forward and I kissed him.

Our lips pressed together for a long, sweet, warm moment that was all I'd ever wanted it to be, and I let my tongue slip gently into his mouth to touch the tip of his. But he pulled away, eyes wide and jaw slack, to stare at me in utter shock. "Ka -- Kaworu-kun!" he gasped.

The little animal that had grown inside my chest pushed painfully, and I stood and began to hastily towel myself off. "Sumimasen," I said quietly.

For a long moment he was silent. Then I heard water slosh against the side of the tub as he stepped out, and his gentle voice behind me murmured "It -- it's all right." Awkwardly he began to dry himself as well.

When we were both dressed again he turned to me and said shyly, "I don't really want to go home to Misato-san's right now. Can I -- can I stay at your place tonight?"

"Yes."

~

I loved him.

I love him.

He made me human.

No, I was human already, but he was the one who made me realize the change that had come over me. I was no longer Tabris, 17th Angel and the final Messenger. I was Nagisa Kaworu, schoolboy and friend of Ikari Shinji.

Even now, I hold that identity in my mind. I have resolved to stay the way Shinji-kun remembers me, to atone in part for what I put him through at the end. I will always be Kaworu. That is what I realized that night. The night I became truly human. The night I ceased to be a game piece and tasted freedom on Itoshii's sweet lips.

~

"It's all right," I said. "I can sleep on the floor. You take the bed."

We were in my tiny one-room apartment, arguing like two normal Japanese boys about whether the guest or the host was entitled to the bed. Unlike Shinji-kun, I truly wanted to take the futon. I felt so much more comfortable in it. But Shinji-kun was being stubborn in his meekness, and insisted on sleeping on the floor. I sighed and gave up.

"So what do you want to talk about?" I asked, folding my hands behind my head and stretching out on the bed. Hearing only a puzzled silence from below, I prompted: "Don't you have something you want me to hear?"

"After a moment of thought he replied quietly: "I hate people."

"You hate people?" I repeated.

"Why do they expect me to fight for them?" he asked me softly. "Why me? I just want to be normal, like them. But they want me to kill, so they don't have to die." He stopped, and I heard him sigh.

"Sometimes I wonder...you know that video game we were playing?" "Yes."

"Being a pilot makes me feel like...like that video game," he said softly. "Like someone else is somewhere pressing buttons, to make me move or fight, or kill. Did you ever feel that way?"

If he only knew. But, of course, I could not tell him.

The wistfulness in his voice made me ache. I turned my head to gaze down at him (the bed was not, after all, that high).

"I might have been born to meet you," I said.

His mouth opened a little at that, at the idea that someone could have been created for him. I turned onto my side, peering down over the edge of the bed to stare into his eyes, huge and almost black in the darkness. Slowly I reached a hand down and trailed my fingers delicately across his lips.

He made a little squeak and started slightly, his eyes round, but didn't pull away entirely. I smiled then and slipped down to join him on the futon.

"Kaworu-kun..." he gasped as I reached out for him.

"Tonight, Shinji-kun," I whispered, sliding my arms around him, "we move by ourselves." I leaned forward, and my lips caught his.

Instinctively he pressed closer against me. I felt something hard brush close against the inside of my thigh, and heat suddenly flared to life in the pit of my belly. I had never felt like that before. Ever.

My mouth opened against his, and both of us shut our eyes as I slipped my tongue gently into his mouth. He accepted it willingly, and I allowed myself to be lost in the soft, wet heat that stirred against my tongue.

The layers of clothes between us suddenly seemed inches thick, and abrasive. I began to undo the buttons of his rumpled white shirt, while stil gently working over his mouth. He broke the kiss, gasping, but only to stare with wide-eyed fascination at my hands moving systematically downward over his chest. My breath began to come faster as the white cloth parted to reveal fair, creamy skin, shivering with anticipation. When all but the last button was undone, I laid my hand on his stomach, felt it quiver as he drew a shuddering breath. I looked up into deep blue eyes, which stared dilated back at me.

"I'm afraid," he whispered.

"You are brave enough for both of us," I murmured back, kissing him again as I removed the last button. Then, a little more hesitantly, I began to unfasten his pants. He made a shocked little sound. Then, just as I was beginning to wonder if I'd made a mistake (how human I was already!), his hands came trembling up to my throat and undid the button there.

I smiled at him. "There, Shinji-kun," I murmured soothingly. "Thank you."

Hesitantly, he smiled back. His hands moved more surely now, as he leaned forward shyly to kiss me again.

We undressed each other a little more slowly than I would have liked, and then began, nervously and gracelessly, to make love. I must admit I was almost as virginally inept as Shinji-kun being similarly inexperienced. Angels are not in the habit of taking carnal pleasure.

But the emotion darkening his blue eyes was so lovely, and how delicious his moans when I entered him! We had not the experience to make love face to face, but I held Shinji-kun close, his back pressed against my chest, and soothed him as best I could. After a while his cries were not so much of pain as of pleasure which my own human body echoed.

Do you know, that night I seemed to have forgotten myself entirely. I think I actually forgot that I was anything other than human. Certainly I felt most sublimely alive when I felt him shudder and scream into his pillow, his body clutching at me in the most astonishing way, and I could not help but weep and come with him. I wept! Human tears.

We slept after that, but not before he had wrapped his thin arms about my shoulders and whispered, "I love you, Kaworu-kun," in his low, gentle voice.

And it was Kaworu-kun who held him till he slept, and Kaworu-kun who slept in his arms.

And Kaworu-kun I have remained, ever after.

~

The next day I betrayed him.

You know the story. I took Unit 02, I hauled her out of her hangar and had her halfway down to Terminal Dogma before the poor fools realized what was happening and, as I had expected and the Master had expected, sent Shinji-kun. Really, that game had become dreadfully predictable.

Shinji-kun was so angry. It hurt me to see him so angry, especially since he was also so confused whenever he was angry. He attacked Unit 02, and it fascinated me to watch the two mothers pitted against each other. And all the time I could almost hear him scream, "Why?"

I was only doing what I had been sent to do. I was a game piece after all. But so were the humans. And they had free will. I was human now, too; should I not have free will?

I made my decision. I brought Shinji down to Terminal Dogma, where the Eighteenth was waiting for us. She stood watching our battle--if you could call it that--from a ledge.

I smiled up at her. In a way, I suppose, I could consider her my sister. She was exactly like me, and could take the same path if she chose. It saddens me still to remember that she did not believe she had a choice, even when I showed her.

One of us was to have died that day, and it was to have been my Itoshii. Then I would have taken over the pilotship of the Eva-02 for good, and faced my own brethren on that final day. I knew this, and so did Lilith. I think Gendou-san knew it as well. But I had made my choice. I let the 01 take me in its fist.

I smiled up at Lilith's shocked face--she had not expected this, obviously--and at Shinji-kun, whom I could almost see staring wildly at me out of the eyes of his mother. "Kaworu-kun--why--?"

"I was supposed to live forever, even if everyone else died," I answered. "However, I myself am able to die. That is my choice: to live or not." To be or not to be, as a human once put it. "And I have found death to be my only freedom."

"Nani o...Kaworu-kun!" he pleaded, and I saw he was no longer angry, still confused, but he was beginning to doubt that I had truly betrayed him. "I donít understand what you're saying..."

"These are my last words," I answered. "So, please kill me, or you will be killed." He gasped.

"There must be only one who will escape the last great purge and hold the future. And you are the one who must not die. All of you," I looked up at Lilith, who was still staring down at us, "need the future."

The fist that held me trembled, as if it was Itoshii himself, and not the mecha, that held me. I like to think that it was, even now. I knew then that thoughts of betrayal had fled his mind, that it was the same Kaworu-kun who had made love with him that he held in the Eva's fist.

"Thank you," I said softly, wishing we could have had a little more time, yet glad for what we did have. It was more than I'd ever expected, or hoped for. I smiled at him. "I am happy to have met you."

I closed my eyes and waited. The long moment of stillness seemed to last forever; I almost thought he wouldn't be able to do it. Then the great fist squeezed, gently, and I found myself here.

~

The Master was delighted. Nothing in that part of the game had gone as he had planned, and it alleviated his boredom for a while. However, it had not been long before he grew completely tired, and now here we all are, each in its own little floating emptiness.

But not for long. I sense the shift before anything else, and suddenly I feel myself tumbling down the long narrow shaft that spills me into the game, and I hope fervently (who do Angels have to pray to?) that, if nothing else, this Master will be kinder to Itoshii than the last one.

~

I am sitting in a classroom, horribly familiar. This one, however, seems much more thickly populated than the one in the last game. There are enough students this time to make a decent class, and their chatter is pure frivolity, not a mask over their secret terror.

"Nagisa-kun!" hisses an excited voice. "Nagisa-kun!"

When I turn I nearly fall off my chair to see Lilith there, her face flushed and containing more expression I have ever seen on it in ANY game.

"A--Ayanami?"

She giggles. Giggles! I have never been more bewildered in my life. "Today's the day!" she says happily. "I can't wait! What do you think he looks like?"

"Who?" I swear, now I know what Shinji-kun felt like. This isn't like the other times at all; I have no idea of what the game is, or of my role in it. And Lilith--no, Ayanami--is completely human; I feel no otherness in her as I used to.

She rolls her crimson eyes. "You idiot! Did your brains fall out in your sleep last night? The new student, of course!"

Barely has everything begun to come together in my mind before the teacher announces the new addition to the class, and invites the student in. "Ikari Shinji."

Of course. But I feel the shock nonetheless as I see Itoshii shuffle timidly into the room.

"Pleased to meet you," he murmurs. "Ikari Shinji desu." He lifts his head shyly, and by chance (or not) his deep-blue eyes meet mine. And stay there.

I stand with the others. "Irasshai," the class says as one.

END