NB: this story contains spoilers regarding the first, 'best' ending of Kana: Little Sister. Please don't proceed unless you've completed this ending to the game.
'Blinding White', part 6. This story follows 'Five Weeks Until Spring'.
"Watch out for bees, Kana!"
"I am, I am!" Kana laughs, pausing on the trail to look back at me. The air's humid and almost stagnant here under the trees; the sunlight is dimmed, the atmosphere oppressive. But Kana's bright and alive, standing there in shorts and T-shirt with a small day pack slung across her shoulders. She smiles at me as I draw closer to her again. "Hurry up, slowpoke!"
Easy for her to say! We've been hiking since mid-morning, leaving the car park far behind. It's early afternoon now. My legs are starting to protest and my stomach is growling. But it'll be time for lunch soon, once we reach the clearing. I'm looking forward to it.
And so is Kana, obviously. Before I've even caught up with her, she's jogging off down the trail again, darting ahead and chattering brightly to me.
"I think I see daylight ahead!" she reports, happily. She cocks her head, cupping one hand behind her right ear. "I hear water!"
She's imagining things, I'm sure. I can't hear anyth
Hmm. Wait a minute. I can hear the faint splash of water ahead. My stomach lurches nervously at the prospect.
Kana comes running back to me, grabbing my hand. "Come on!" she encourages me. "Aren't you excited? Don't you want to see?"
I am excited, though not exactly for the same reasons that Kana is. But still, I let her drag me faster down the trail. The light grows brighter, rapidly increasing in intensity until it's almost blinding. I stagger forward as Kana lets go of my hand, running forward and laughing.
"It's here!" she cries, throwing her arms up in the air and whirling around in a complete circle. "It's all still here!"
"What did you expect them to have moved the waterfall further upstream?" I ask, raising an eyebrow at her. She just sticks her tongue out at me.
"Shush, you! Oh, look!" She squeals, pointing across the clearing. "The tree! Remember the tree? And there's still heaps and heaps of seeds... What do you think, Taka? Should we take some?"
"You can do whatever you want," I pretend to grumble at her, hobbling forward and sinking onto one of the poolside rocks. They're dirty and covered with lichen, and they're smaller than I remember, but they make perfectly serviceable seats. "I just want to rest for a bit."
"I get it," Kana says, amused. She takes a seat on a nearby rock and pulls her pack down from her shoulders. "I'm glad we came, but you just want your lunch."
"Lunch, and a seat in the sun," I tell her, nodding. "We can indulge in nostalgia later on."
"You don't have a sentimental bone in your body," she says, digging in the pack for our lunch boxes. "Did you want the water bottle first?"
"No, no... food first." I shift on the rock, uncomfortably aware of the telltale bulge in my pocket. "I'm starving."
"Just be patient," Kana says, looking up at me with an amused grin. "Ah, here. This one's yours... and this one's mine."
She draws the two boxes out of the pack and hands the larger one to me. My hands are shaking now, and it's not just from hunger. I've barely managed to unclip the lid before the whole box goes flying from my hands to tumble onto the ground.
Kana looks up at me, surprised. "Well, who's fumble-fingered today, Ta-chan?" she asks, in a mock-scolding tone. "I'll have you know I worked hard to make that lunch for you!"
"I... I'm sorry, Kana," I mumble. "I'm sure some of it's salvageable. I'll just"
"Here." Kana holds her lunch box out to me. Oyako-don what Kana and I used to call 'chicken bowls'. It's not a large serve; there's not really enough for two people to share.
"I owe you a lunch anyway." She smiles.
"I... I'm sure I've got another box around here somewhere," I mutter, climbing to my feet. I start patting myself down, feeling in my pockets, and Kana giggles.
"Don't be silly, Ta-chan. You're not even carrying a pack, and I only made... two... Oh?"
"Ah. Found it!"
"Ta... chan?" She blinks at me as I pull the small box from my right pocket. Her eyes widen as I crouch down in front of her.
"What do you think, Kana?" I ask, as I open the box and offer it to her. "I'll give you this for your lunch. Fair trade."
Kana's eyes are shining. They're glittering almost as brightly as the diamond ring that's tucked into the box's velvet-lined interior. No. They're shining more brightly.
She's so beautiful to me.
"Taka..." She bites her lip, trying to hold back the tears.
"I guess what I'm saying is... I love you. I can't imagine my life without you. We've always been together. We should always be together."
She's shaking now. But her eyes never leave my face.
"Kana, will you marry me?"
She shakes her head, disbelievingly.
"No?" I tease.
"Yes!" she blurts, grabbing my hand before I can take it away. She smiles, looking into my eyes. "Yes," she whispers.
I slip the ring out of the box and take Kana's left hand. She's smiling widely, in sheer joy. Her tears course freely down her cheeks as I slide the ring onto her finger.
"Taka," she whispers.
"Kana." I smile up at her. My heart is still pounding. She reaches down, slowly, to cup my face in her hands. I rise to kiss her.
The sun shines down on the two of us. There's the gentle splashing of the waterfall, and the sound of birdsong in the trees. The smell of summer in the air.
I kiss her and I hold her and I know:
I know I'll never forget this moment.
"Okaasan..." Sara's crying now, holding onto Kana's hand. "Okaasan, please... don't leave me. Please, Okaasan..." She chokes on her tears, unable to say anything more. "I don't want you to go..." she whimpers. "Okaasan, don't go..."
It's morning now a dark cold morning. The rain courses down in thick sheets outside the window; the harsh fluorescent lights make it brighter inside than it is out there. Sara-chan isn't well, but she's here. Kana wants it that way.
She wants to say goodbye.
Rika's standing at my side, subdued. She hasn't cried, not since I woke her up this morning. She just stands there beside me, her face expressionless as she watches her imouto-chan weep. Well, not entirely expressionless. The corners of her eyes are creased, just slightly; her lips are trembling. But she's doing her best to be strong.
I just wish I could do the same.
"Sara-chan..." Kana murmurs, faintly. "It's... all right. It... it really is. Don't... cry, Sara-chan."
"Don't go!" Sara-chan screams. "Don't..." She breaks off, howling. "Don't leave me alone!"
Kana gently squeezes Sara's hand as Sara-chan cries bitterly. "You... you're not... alone. Sara-chan," she says, straining for each word. "You have... Oneechan... and Otousan. I... I told them... to take... very good care... of you. Or Okaasan... will be mad with them."
"I... I don't want you to be mad with them." Sara-chan hiccups, rubbing at her eyes. "But... but I could come with you, Okaasan..." Her face lights up with the sudden thought. "Okaasan? Could I"
"They'd be... sad... without you," Kana tells her, gently. "You... wouldn't... want that...?"
"No." Sara sniffles, wrapping both her small hands around Kana's. She brings them to her face, holding Kana's fingers against her mouth. "No, Okaasan. I'll... I'll be good..."
"I want you... to take... good care... of them... for me."
Sara-chan stares at Kana, her small face twisted and distorted by grief. She's so young. So innocent. And... and so open to hurt.
"Okaasan!" Sara-chan scrambles up onto the bed, kicking her short legs, and hugs Kana tight. Kana's too weak to do anything but lie there limply as Sara's thin arms wrap around her neck and Sara cries into Kana's hair. There's so much pain in Kana's eyes. She wants to say goodbye to her daughter... and she can't even hold her.
"Remember..." Kana says, weakly, in Sara-chan's ear. "Remember... that Okaasan... loves you... Sara-chan. Okay?"
"I'll remember," Sara-chan sobs, still clinging to Kana's neck. "I'll remember."
Mother and daughter. Their long flowing hair is almost indistinguishable. Sara's frail white arms around her okaasan's slender neck. They're two of a kind.
"Well?" I ask, anxiously, as Kana shuts the apartment door behind her. "What did the doctor say?"
She looks overwhelmed. She stares around the tiny apartment that we've shared for the past five years, ever since we moved here to Osaka. Ignoring me, she walks over to the sink and starts filling the kettle.
The news must be bad.
"Kana... we'll work through this," I tell her, moving to stand behind her. "I promise. We've been through hard times before, haven't we? No matter what's wrong with you, no matter how sick you are, I know we'll pull through."
"Taka..." She chokes, softly. "Taka, I'm not sick."
"You... you're not? But... the dizzy spells, the vomiting..."
She shifts sideways and puts the kettle on the stovetop. With a shaking hand, she lights the burner.
"Anemia?" I hazard a guess. "But I thought that was the sort of thing"
"I'm not sick," she repeats, turning around. She looks past me into the living area the space where we live and eat and sleep, and love. "I think we'll have to move."
"Move?" Now I'm utterly confused. "Does... does the doctor want you to be closer to the hospi"
"Ta-chan, shush!" She brings her hand up to press against my lips, and she smiles, a bit shyly. "I'm not sick, Taka. I'm pregnant."
I can feel my eyes widen. "P... pregnant?"
"Yes." She nods, then suddenly sobs. "We... we're going to have a baby. Our baby, Taka. Yours and mine. And I... Ta-chan..."
"Kana!" We throw our arms around each other overjoyed and overwhelmed. She clings to me tightly. I'm crying as well. Crying and laughing, both at the same time.
"I... I know it's not a good time," she says, hesitantly, snuggling closer against me. "You... I know we said we needed to wait a few more years to save for a house, and..."
"You're having our baby." I bend down and gently brush her lips with mine. She sighs quietly, letting her eyes sink closed. "That's all that matters, Kana. I love you."
"Ta-chan." She brings her arms up, twining them around my neck. Her kisses become needier; she drives her mouth against mine almost desperately. "Ta-chan," she whispers, pleadingly, as my hands pull at her blouse, sliding underneath it to cup her breasts. "Love me..."
We sink to the floor, losing ourselves in each other. I tug her blouse open; she unbuttons my shirt. We caress each other; we explore each other with hands and lips as we move together on the tatami. Eagerly, we shed our clothes until there's nothing between us; nothing stopping our skin from touching. Kana's warmth against me. The softness of her breasts. The gentle loving touch of her hands. Her legs tangling with mine.
She lights a fire inside my heart. My Kana, my only love.
"Yes," she moans, softly, holding my head against her as I nuzzle at her breasts. "Taka..."
"Kana." I look into her eyes, and she nods mutely. She wraps her arms around me and I roll over onto my back, still holding her gaze. She looks down at me. She smiles. Then she reaches down and slowly lowers herself onto me. She bites her lip, tossing her head back. She catches her breath, gasping, as we start to move. Crying out in need and passion. Closing her eyes, she works with me, rocking her hips hard against mine.
The kettle starts to whistle, but neither of us hears it. All I can hear is her low sweet cries, and the sobbing sound of her breathing as she moves closer and closer to orgasm.
She's my Kana. Making love with her is like coming home. It's pure belonging. Her love fills me from the inside out.
Her love makes me whole.
"Taka? Taka, it's... I'm cold..."
It's warm in here, despite the howling wind outside. It's mid-afternoon now, but the sky is still overcast and gloomy. The lights are on, glaringly bright.
They've got a machine in here that monitors Kana's heart rate and blood pressure, displaying her life signs on a screen for anyone and everyone to see. Her pulse is quick and erratic, just like her shallow breathing. Her body is worn out.
Rika is asleep in the chair next to the bed. She got back about half an hour ago, soaked to the skin, from taking Sara-chan back to the paediatric hospital. Sara-chan didn't want to go, but being here was too distressing for her. Kana... Kana said goodbye to her. It... it was the last time they'll see each other, most likely.
The reality still hasn't sunk in. Up until now, there was always some sort of hope. Kana might make a miraculous recovery. A donor might be found. Something... Anything...
But Kana's heart attack this morning scattered all those hopes. It's a miracle she's still alive, let alone conscious. The doctors don't know how much longer her heart can hold out. When Nakamura-sensei spoke to me this morning, he estimated Kana's life in hours.
Kana. Thirty-nine years with you isn't enough. A lifetime wouldn't be enough. Am I greedy? Am I selfish for wanting more of you? More... more time with you?
Thirty-nine years old. Eleven months. Three days.
And only a handful of hours remaining.
"Kana." I tuck the blanket a little higher under her chin. She smiles, hazily.
"Thank you..." she murmurs. "For... everything."
I slip my hand under the covers and take her left hand in mine. It's cool and limp. There's no energy left in her. "You're welcome, Kana," I say, with an effort.
"No." She forces her eyes a little wider. "I... mean it. Taka... thank you for... sharing... your life... with me. Thank you for... giving me... two... beautiful children. And... Taka..." Her voice is strained now; she can barely draw enough breath to force the words out. "Thank you," she finishes, her eyes glistening with tears, "for loving me..."
"Kana..." I stare at her, helplessly. I clutch her hand. "Kana, I couldn't have done anything else..."
Her lips move, forming more words. But her voice is gone. It's used up.
I was... happy, Taka. Thank you.
"Kana." I squeeze her hand tight. "Kana, I'm here. Don't let go. Please, don't let go..."
She smiles, shaking her head almost imperceptibly, and closes her eyes. The heart rate monitor continues to beep. Too fast. Kana's time is being used up. It's being dealt out too fast.
She's asleep again. It's a blessing, I suppose. I feel guilty for wanting her awake, for wanting to spend these last precious moments together with, with
She's my Kana. She always will be.
I don't want to lose her!
Kana. Kana, please... hold on.
I peek my head in the door. Kana's sitting up in bed, looking exhausted but... triumphant. There's a small bundle in her arms. A small life.
A life Kana and I created together.
"Hi," I say, softly, as I step inside the room, pushing the door shut behind me. "So... how do you feel?"
Kana smiles wearily. "Terrible, and wonderful. All at once."
"And... and this is...?" I creep forward, closer to the bed, peering at the bundle Kana's holding.
Kana nods. "Rika."
"Rika." I repeat the name, quietly, as I reach the side of the bed. It's strange, now that the name that Kana and I argued and fought over for months actually belongs to someone. It makes it less abstract. This... this is Rika.
She's tiny. Her face is bright pink and her eyes are screwed shut, almost comically tight. She doesn't look happy, though; there's a brooding frown on her face. Her fingers are tiny and perfect. Her skin looks so tender, so soft.
A life. Kana and I created a life. I just keep staring down at her, feeling an absurd smile spreading across my face.
"She doesn't look much like you," I tease, gently.
"No." Kana smiles serenely. Is it my imagination, or is it already a motherly smile? "I think she looks like both of us. There's a part of each of us in her she's a sign of how much we love each other. And because of that, she'll love and she'll be loved. Our Rika. Here, Ta-chan." Kana lifts her arms, offering the little bundle of life to me. "Meet your daughter."
It's awkward for a moment, transferring Rika from Kana's arms to mine. Rika's head doesn't want to stay in one place, and she's so small, so fragile that I'm scared of hurting her... but then she's cradled in my arms. She fusses a little bit, pouting and frowning some more, but settles back down in fairly short order. And then she just lies there, safe in my arms.
"Rika-chan," I whisper, amazed. "Um... hi, Rika-chan. I'm your... I'm your otousan."
"He's your otousan," Kana says, as she lays her head back on the pillow. "And I love him."
I smile down at Rika as my heart expands to encompass her. Taka. Kana. And now... Rika. We're a family. Our love has given us somewhere to belong.
"Yes," I say, quietly. "I'm your otousan, Rika. And she's your okaasan. And we'll..." I smile even wider, blinking back tears. "And the two of us will love you forever. As long as we can and as much as we can. That's what we promise you, Rika-chan."
"Yes," Kana whispers, putting her hand on my arm and leaning forward to gaze at our daughter. "We promise you forever."
I don't know what Kana's saying to Rika. It's too soft for me to hear. Rika's head is bent close to Kana's lips in order to hear her words. She closes her eyes as Kana whispers in her ear. She closes her eyes, looking older than I've ever seen her before.
And then she nods. She bends forward and kisses Kana's cheek.
"I promise," she says.
It seems to ease Kana's mind. She sinks back slightly against the pillow. Her heart is racing now; the monitor is beeping almost frantically.
Exhausted, Kana turns her eyes to me. There's no need for words; her eyes say it all.
It's time to say goodbye.
I move closer to the bed as Rika withdraws, standing a discreet distance back. There's a broken, vulnerable expression on her face as we exchange a single glance. She nods, her violet eyes dark and haunted. She's telling me she'll be okay.
It really doesn't make much difference now, though.
"Kana." I take her hand, one last time. I hold it between mine as her eyes drift towards me. It's hard for her to focus. But she struggles to hold my gaze, for a second.
And eternity passes in that one moment, as I look into my Kana's violet eyes.
One corner of her mouth twitches as she tries to smile. I force myself to smile back at her, though it must look horrific to Rika a painted-on grimace; a mask.
I lean closer.
"I love you, Kana," I whisper. "You... you don't have to stay anymore. You... you don't need to hurt" I break off, choking. No. No, I can't show Kana how much I'm hurting. I...
But she already knows.
"Don't cry," she says, softly and clearly. "I... I'm sorry. I... I did my best... Br"
Her eyes sink closed. I stare at her, still clinging to her hand.
"Kana?" I ask, hopelessly. "Kana?"
I hear Rika crying. I hear her laboured gasps for breath and her helpless whimpers. She's sobbing uncontrollably.
Beneath that, there's another sound. A long, protracted beeping sound. It rises in pitch until it's almost a shriek, ringing in my ears.
And Kana lies there unmoving. Still.
My imouto-chan is dead. My darling, my heart, my life.
And yet I can't cry. Why can't I cry? Kana's gone. She left me.
People are running into the room now. Nurses are crowding around Kana's bedside. Orderlies are wheeling in trolleys loaded with equipment. But nothing they do is going to help.
I sink to my knees with the sound of Rika's heartbroken sobbing echoing in my ears. It's the only thing I can hear.
My Kana is gone.
What can I do now? What... what can my life possibly mean without her?
Kana. Your heart isn't beating anymore.
Rika is cold and lonely, in Somewhere, I Sleep Alone.