And here we have another barely edited piece. I'm sure you lot will be kind enough to point out any errors/moments of idiocy, and I'll fix them once you do. But in the meantime, here goes: The Talk.
August 12, 2016
Misato found him in the shelter's common area, noticeably agitated. "There you are, Shinji. I've been looking for you."
"Where is she?" he asked. "She wasn't there when I woke up. I've been looking for her, but I can't find her. Where did she go?" There was an edge of panic in his voice.
"Calm down," Misato soothed. "Asuka's fine. You two spoke with the doctor, do you remember that? Dr. Okada?"
Shinji nodded. "Yes, I remember."
Misato smiled at him. "Okay," she said. "He and Asuka talked about her treatment options, just like he did with you. He asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she wanted to get away from here, to recover on her own."
Shinji's eyes widened. "What does that mean?" he asked. "She can't do that, she won't . . . I mean, who'll take care of her? No one's looking out for her, they'll--"
"It's fine, Shinji," Misato said, placing a hand on his shoulder. He shrank back from her touch; she pretended not to notice. "She went to a hospital in Kyoto. It's a specialized facility designed to help victims of severe trauma. There are many talented doctors there, and they'll look after her."
Shinji chewed his lip. After a moment he said, "But they don't know her, do they? They don't know she likes Western food, or how to treat her after she's had a bad dream, or . . . or anything!" He looked at the ground, despondent. "Why didn't she say anything?" he asked.
Misato laughed nervously. "Well," she began, "if I had to guess, I'd say she didn't want to burden you. This was a big decision, and it was one she had to make herself. Dragging you into it wouldn't be fair to either of you."
Shinji frowned, clearly unconvinced.
Misato coughed, then crossed her arms. "Well, enough about Asuka," she said. When Shinji glared at her, she waved her hand and said, "What I mean by that is, we have to figure out what we're going to do with you!" She smiled brightly. "If you want, you can stay with me again. I've got a place set up, and . . . " She trailed off, noting Shinji's dubious stare. She laughed nervously. "Well, maybe that's not such a hot idea," she said. "But!" she said, smiling brightly, "I have alternatives! How would you like living on your own?"
Shinji's eyes widened. "Um . . . "
Misato laughed. "Don't worry, I'm not throwing you to the wolves. There are plenty of apartments available in my complex, and I figured you could live in one of them. You'd be living on your own, with plenty of privacy if you want it, but I'd be right down the hall if you need anything. And I'd take care of all of the arrangements, so you wouldn't have to worry about anything. How does that sound?"
Shinji frowned, considering. "I guess that'd be fine," he said. He looked at her directly. "I don't--" he began. "I mean . . . " He looked down, unable to continue.
Misato took his hand. "What is it?" she asked, her voice gentle.
Shinji stiffened at her touch, but didn't withdraw his hand. "You said . . . " he began. He coughed, and then continued. "You said we'd . . . do the rest when I came back." He blushed furiously. "I mean . . . "
Misato gulped. "I remember," she said.
Shinji withdrew his hand, hugging himself. "I don't . . . " he began. "I mean, if it's alright, I don't . . . " his voice dropped to a whisper. "I don't want to do that." He snuck a glance at her, then looked back at the floor. "I'm sorry, I don't want to be insulting or anything. It's just . . . "
Misato smiled, then touched his shoulder gently. This time he didn't shrink back. "It's okay," she said. "What I said then was . . . " she paused, trying to find the words. "It was . . . inappropriate. I shouldn't have said that. I was just . . . " she sighed. "I was trying anything I could to keep you in the fight, you know? I knew I was dying, and I never thought we'd wind up discussing it." She patted his shoulder, laughing all the while.
Shinji noted her discomfort, but couldn't quite let it go. "That wasn't the first time," he noted.
Misato cringed, then laughed self-consciously. "Shinji, c'mon. I didn't mean it like that, alright?" He scowled at her, and she held out her hands defensively. "Okay!" she admitted. "Okay, I did mean it like that, but it was . . . it was a tactic, alright? I was desperate, and there was so much at stake . . . " She sighed. "That's really no excuse," she went on, "but even so, it's true. Believe me, Shinji, I'm not some . . . " she waved her arms expressively, "some pedophile who's into younger guys. I just thought, 'Maybe this will work,' and gave it a shot. That's all it was. I promise, Shinji, you don't need to worry about that. You really don't."
Shinji frowned, considering. "But you always teased me," he said. "All that sex stuff, and the skimpy clothes, and . . . "
Misato groaned in frustration. "Oh, come on, Shinji, I was just teasing!" She put her hands on her hips, planting her feet for emphasis. "Look, kid, there's only one man in my life, and you aren't him. Don't read too much into things that aren't meant to be taken seriously! I was just teasing you, that's all. I'll admit it went too far, and I'm sorry if it hurt you, but I'm telling you right now that I don't view you that way at all. It's important that you understand that."
"Well . . . " Shinji began.
"And besides," Misato continued, her tone flippant, "what would Asuka think if she knew you were fixated on your guardian like that?"
Shinji scowled at her. "Hey!"
Misato smirked. "She'd be mad, right?" She gave him a sage nod. "Yep, she would be, I'm sure of it. So what do you say we put this behind us and move forward as friends?" She sounded blasé, but there was a note of pleading in her tone.
Shinji just stared at her, then smiled and nodded. "Alright," he said. "I guess that's fine."
Misato brightened, clearly relieved. "Great!" she said. "I'll make the arrangements for your new place right away. We'll have you moved in in a jiffy!"
Shinji frowned. "But Asuka . . . "
"Don't worry," Misato said, consoling him. "I'm keeping tabs on her, and I'll make sure she knows how to contact you. She'll be fine, Shinji. I promise."
Next: Misato/Okada, possibly with a callback to episode 15 in-between. Then another Misato/Shinji, and possibly a Shinji/Asuka scene on the beach. After that the final five, assuming inspiration doesn't strike in the meantime.