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Shinji came home to find the apartment in even greater shambles than he was used to. He called, "Misato? Misato!"

She yelled, "In here, Shinji!" sounding far away. Shinji picked and punched and leaped his way through the debris to find her in her bedroom on her hands and knees, lifting one end of the bed up all by herself.

Shinji just stared.

She dropped the bed and glared at him. He backed up a little but didn't go far. Misato glared about a lot of things.

There was silence for a long while before Misato said, "Pen-Pen is missing."

"Oh," Shinji said, not sure what the appropriate response was. He and Pen-Pen weren't close, and Misato could generally smell false condescension from a mile away.

"He was here this morning."

Shinji remembered. He'd watched him eat the kibble that Misato kept leaving for him, wondering if that might not be fucking with his not-dog digestive system.

"And now he's gone."

Shinji thought about what could get him to leave. There wasn't much. Angels and fathers and the world aside, Misato was home, or as close as he was ever going to find. "Maybe he found a mate."

"In Tokyo-3?"

Shinji shrugged. Pen-Pen lived there. It wasn't out of the realm of possibility that some other poor penguin was missing her hot springs home. Shinji didn't even know if any hot springs still existed. Shinji didn't know a lot of things about the universe outside of Tokyo-3. It might as well have been its own planet.

Misato stood up, dusting herself off. "Maybe. Figures my fucking penguin would be getting some and not me."

Shinji had nothing to say to that, either.

Misato looked back at the surface of the bed, like it might tell her something. She said, softly, "I just don't like it when things leave. People."

Shinji tried to nod, but found himself incapable. Sometimes agreement was bigger than words or motions or anything Shinji had the capacity to express. Instead he turned and went to go make packet noodles and grab her a beer. He was learning about doing the things he could.

She accepted both with a tiny nod and a hug that made him think his ribs would crack.

He didn't squirm.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile