Prettyinpinkgal: Thank you all for your supportive comments over the years. I would never have returned to this story without your encouragement, but I've enjoyed this journey so much that I'm glad I did. I hope that I've handled this story in a way you all liked. I hope you enjoy the rest of YOUR summer, and have a blessed time. Now, without further ado, here is the final installment of "The Last Fifteen Summers", set after Yukito/Sora flies up. I couldn't convey exactly what I wanted in this final scene, but I enjoyed writing it, so hopefully you will enjoy reading it. =)
Disclaimer: I don't own AIR.
THE LAST FIFTEEN SUMMERS
THE LAST SUMMER: EPILOGUE
She was in the sky, and clouds were passing by much faster than they normally did. The sun was rising and falling much faster as well. Misuzu found herself standing with no effort at all, her hair long again. By her side was Yukito-san, and he was holding her hand. He smiled his usual small smile, and she grinned back.
Okaa-san's screams echoed in her mind for a second, and while she ached to return and comfort her, she would see her again someday. She knew they would eventually both have the strength to wait till then.
And in a way, those cries had helped her reach her goal as well. They were proof that Okaa-san loved her, not just liked. LOVED.
Dark blue hair, which reminded Misuzu of the sky just as night began to fall, swayed, and before them was a sleeping girl.
"Are you ready?" Yukito-san asked.
Hearing his voice again comforted her like a favorite blanket, and she nodded.
As she approached the girl, she saw the teardrops slipping through her closed lids. Her wings flapped slowly enough that Misuzu did not worry about being hit as she dove in and embraced the girl.
"Have you brought me more sadness?" the girl asked, although her eyes and mouth were still closed. "I have obtained a little bit of happiness thanks to that doctor's sister and that little child, but it is not enough, not nearly enough."
Misuzu could feel the girl's pain, and she smiled again, holding tighter. "Nihaha, I have led a hard life," Misuzu said a little shyly. "But it was worth it. Let me show you..."
In a great burst of light, brighter than the sun, the three were engulfed in the illustrious memories. There was great sadness in them, true, but those moments of pure, unadulterated happiness changed Misuzu's life like a drop of coloring could change a whole glass of water. And now they shined radiantly, making Yukito-san say a little breathlessly, "It's enough. It's more than enough."
Subconsciously, she had heard her father's heartfelt comments on the beach.
She had known Okaa-san loved her.
She understood that many classmates kept their distance out of care for her.
She met Yukito-san.
She was able to care for Sora.
She lived by the sea.
She was able to have a purpose.
She got to play cards.
She had stuffed dinosaurs.
She was able to save people.
All these feelings poured forth, and the girl slowly awakened. She took in the blonde friend-friend-before her, who had saved her and countless other girls. Her eyes filled with tears again. "I...I'm so glad...It's over...But all...all those people...I didn't mean to hurt...anyone...I just-!"
"I know!" Misuzu cried, crying a little herself. "But it's okay, because we all understand. We love you, Kanna-san! I'm happy now that I was able to help you."
The girls, sister-like save for the bond deeper than blood, embraced again tightly, and the light surrounded them. "Uraha and Ryuuya are waiting for you," Yukito-san said, putting a hand on both girls' shoulders.
"Ah, yes, and your mother, too, Kanna-san!" Misuzu cried, pulling away slightly with a giant smile.
"Mother...Ryuuya-dono...Uraha...Will they still be waiting for me all this time?" Kanna asked, a little doubtfully as the breeze picked up.
"Yes, they will!" Misuzu declared.
"And besides," Yukito-san added, "we're going with you."
"That's right, Kanna-san, we're with you now." Misuzu positively lit up. "You're not alone anymore!"
Night fell again, and hand-in-hand, they flew up to the heavens, further than Kanna had ever flown before. While morning dawned again and Kanna reunited joyfully with the loved ones of a millenium ago, Misuzu watched Okaa-san sit with Otou-san. They weren't quarrelling, only talking. She was glad that they were finally getting along.
"Are you all right, Misuzu?" Yukito-san asked, placing a hand on her head, like one might a dog.
"Mmm!" And then she smiled at her dearest friend in the universe. "Yes. I'm just very, very happy!"
Below, a whispered "thank you" fell upon the seaside town like a blessing. Those who still had lives and hardships and victories to face went on their way with an extra ounce of strength they never had before, and the birds soared into the blue abyss with more cheerfulness, the windy air carrying them through their journey.