Misato was working when Shinji left again.
A home is a place of comfort, a shield from all horrors and pain. The lighthouse he'd been staying in for the past year was the closest and yet the farthest thing Shinji had ever had from a home. If the world was one of pain, Nerv was the heart of it, and if Nerv was the heart of it then Misato's lighthouse was an atrium, safe and kind until the blood came pouring in.
The loudness of the people Shinji lived with varied from bothersome at best to insufferable at worst.
Back when she and Shinji were on their own, Misato was okay enough to deal with; her drunken rambling at night and aversion to chores had just become a part of staying there, rather than some inconveniences Shinji had to lose sleep over. She was sisterly and teasing and sometimes it frayed Shinji at the edges. But even though Misato never quite understood him, it was obvious that she was trying.
Spending weeks at a time on the cold and salt-spraying sea was gut-starving and arduous -- easy work for an isolation-toughened girl like Asuka Langley Soryu. But with her left arm broken and her right wrist sprained, she couldn't tie sailor's knots or hurl harpoons into maritime monsters, and so her thirst for battle festered within her until, finally, it ate her up.
It had been getting more and more difficult to handle Asuka's tendency to lash out, whether it was at Shinji, Misato, herself, or just the echoing, circular walls of the lighthouse. Even when Shinji hid away on the huge, spiraling staircase below their dorm, Asuka's words were loud enough to shoot through the downwards tunnel of the corridor and into the dark recesses of Shinji's mind.
Sometimes quietude was all Shinji craved, but once it actually came to him, the emptiness of the lighthouse became unbearable. Asuka's presence was domineering and sharp. Misato's became strange and uneasing. But emptiness was even more suffocating.
Once Shinji reached the bottom of the staircase, his listless stumble became a brisk walk. The steepness of the grassy, sloping hill he had to tread down sped his pace up to a run. Once he reached the sand of the beach, he was sprinting, and God only knew where he was going because he hung his head down as he ran. Wind tossed his hair and slipped under his shirt and knocked against his eardrums.
He yelped as his foot hit a coastal rock and the momentum dragged him headfirst into the dirt. Mud cushioned his fall, but filled his grimacing mouth. A harsh breeze washed over him, and soon enough the cold tide followed suit.
Shinji lied deadly still, entertaining some far-off hope that acting like a corpse would turn him into one.
He was utterly pathetic.
Kaworu fell, too. And when he landed, he struggled to get back up.
He knew the journey to Earth would be more difficult without a chariot, but he tended to leap with a grand jeté into his decisions and didn't think much about how different the trek would be. He just knew that it was faster, and more painful, and that the snap of body to ground was a difficult one. Most of all, however, Kaworu knew that he could handle it.
But God, oh God was it fast, and was it painful. Kaworu didn't expect fire to envelop him and he never expected the feeling of wearing away, like countless holes being burnt into every inch of his skin. He was glowing white hot as he descended. The only direction he knew was the one in which he was being violently pulled. Even despite the feeling of his skin tearing and mind tumbling, there was no sound to be heard in the empty atmosphere. His limbs were useless. The only part of him he could control were his eyelids: he could either close them and amplify the feeling of being scorched alive, or he could keep them open and watch himself dissolve.
From his position, falling back-first with his head forced to bow inward, he could see through the blur of dizziness that flickering pieces of him were peeling out from his form like sparks flying downward -- upward? -- away from him, lost to the emptiness of space. His limbs retained a comprehensible shape but were a trembling shimmer at the edges. His fingers flickered and wavered like candle flames.
His wings took the brunt of the force and he could feel it. They hung uselessly in the sides of his vision and flailed erratically in the wind like tangled kites. It was with abject horror, the likes of which Kaworu had never felt before, that he realized his feathers were being plucked away by the velocity. It wasn't long before there would be nothing left of them.
The fall felt as if it lasted forever. The only sign of time passing was the size of the shadowed moon in his vision. It was large when he first leaped, almost taking up the whole of his sight. Then it only took up half. Then, a quarter.
Kaworu's tears fell in the moon's direction as he watched it become a small, water-blurred sliver in the sky. Just yesterday he was attempting to speak with his stony father and being gently teased by his siblings. Now his home was impossibly far away.
But was it ever really his home to begin with?
Slowly, the empty air around him began to weigh something, and Kaworu shut his eyes, waiting for a new world to collide with him.