The Lost Child

Yuki

One second later

My head exploded, the pain was so intense that I had forgotten what I was fighting for. The only thing I wanted to do was to escape this place and run as far away as I could, even though I had most likely lost the use of my legs from the severe crushing sensation that Asakura dealt to me.

I felt a data barrier form around my leg as I was dragged through a portal away from Asakura and the impaled Yuki.

Somehow, the younger girl was still alive, though she couldn't move much, and did appear to be in a great deal of pain, but not from the blade strangely enough.

"Now, I just need to absorb her own power and then begin to destroy the multiverse." Her eye was now glowing red from the void power she had previously taken in, and was growing in brightness, "Then I will be the God of reality."

My pistol was by her feet, the last vital bullet lay inside it, waiting to be fired by someone.

"What are you talkings about?" Tsuruya-senpai frowned, her silver hand ready to attack through more portals, "What power does Yuki-chan have?"

Asakura said nothing, her lips thinned as she glared at us with hate, "Dead insects don't deserve to know why they die, but they're killed every day, forever with those questions unanswered."

"Why...?"

We all looked at Yuki, her pale eyes getting some semblance of life behind them, as she gazed down at her diminutive figure slowly descending further towards the hilt of the sword, her blood covering the area behind her.

"I have the power to affect their worlds?" She looked at Asakura, "You're saying that if I remain alive, I can destroy their universes?"

Asakura snarled, "Not like it matters any more..." She looked at Nagato, still taking care of Koizumi and the sleeping Asahina-san, "You possess one tiny quark of power taken from Haruhi Suzumiya, back then during December when our world was created. With that power, you could accidentally affect any place, even destroy it."

I coughed in pain, feeling my head and stemming my bleeding, though I knew that Entity Nagato was fixing me up inside.

"So, you killing her is to save the world, right?" Asakura just grinned toothily at my suggestion, "Of course not, you want that power for yourself."

"If something is in front of me, I have to grab it with all my strength!"

Lifting the sword straight up to the sky, Yuki slid right up until the hilt. Swinging it down, Asakura cruelly stuck the tip of the sword into the ground, causing more cracks with hellish red and black steam to curl upwards around the body of Yuki.

Pinned between the fires below and the hilt of the blade, Yuki could only watch as the older Asakura was now getting increasingly more powerful. Her hair began to turn red at the tips, spreading to her roots, as even her own skin became tinged in this colour.

"Soon, I will have taken in all of your life force, and with the last of it, that minuscule, almost insignificant particle of matter."

Everyone knew that it was now impossible to stop her, no one had the individual power to defeat her utterly, and all we could do was look on helplessly.

"Then I am dying, just so you can live a selfish life, enjoying your revenge because of your jealousy?" Yuki asked, tears in her eyes, "I thought you were better than that..."

"Well, little sister..." She replied sarcastically, "The stem of greatness sprouts from the seed of sacrifice."

"I'm sorry..." Yuki closed her eyes, accepting her end, "I couldn't help you, you were my friend, I trusted you with everything..." She spread her arms out wide, laying them flat on the broken earth, "Then I give myself to you..."

"Yes..."

Asakura suddenly turned red and black, her whole body barely distinguishable from the fog of red and black steam that surrounded her. She was non-corporeal now, but still had only one eye, bearing down at Yuki. Presumably Yuki had somehow given her permission to invade the soul even further.

"But, I have one condition."

Her eye turned half-lidded in humour, and her mouth, now twice the size in her fog, spoke simply, "Name it."

"Don't hurt anyone ever again."

The laugh was instantaneous, echoing from all parts of her steaming body.

"I'm sorry, I cannot do that, Yuki."

"No."

Asakura stopped, and her eye was now staring at her in shock, it seemed like Yuki had denied access to her being.

She looked up at Asakura, her right hand was now glowing in a rainbow fashion.

"I am sorry, Ryouko..." Yuki's eyes were now glowing with all the colours in the sky, like her hand, "I sacrifice myself, my power, in order to become great."

The gun flew to her hand, and the rainbow transferred to the entire weapon. From her open mouth came a tiny speck, brilliant in its awe. Holding the gun up, straight at Asakura's forehead, the Suzumiya Quark disappeared into the bullet in the loaded chamber.

Yuki spoke again, "Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me."

Seeing this, Asakura tried to move, but found herself transfixed on Yuki's face.

"This sin will remain with me forever. No one will forgive me, but I can release you from your pain and sin."

Yuki cried now, tears were streaming down her face.

"I only wanted us to be friends, Ryouko."

The gun fired, and the park exploded in white light.

Blinded by the light and deafened from the wind and raging sound, we saw nothing until finally everything died down.

The blade was gone as was the gun. Both had been destroyed in the explosion. In the crater was Yuki, still lying in the same position, with Asakura's body of top of her, back in her adult form, with her hair splayed everywhere.

I got up and ran down to them, and saw already that Asakura was fading fast, her body was crumbling away, disintegrating into ash.

Her one remaining hand arm cupped Yuki's face, which Yuki held lightly, and I could have sworn that she whispered something to her, before her smiling face was scattered by the wind.

"Yuki!" I held her hand and gently lifted her up.

She still had the large gaping hole in her chest from the sword.

"I'm dying, Kyon..."

She could barely whisper, as the rest of the group came to us, both the new and old SOS Brigades, Asahina-san being carried by her elder self.

"Please, help her!" I couldn't bear it any more, seeing Yuki die again, it was not something my soul would be able to bear.

"Her injuries are too severe." Entity Nagato spoke, "Reconstruction is impossible, given she was contaminated with the element from Haruhi Suzumiya."

"Time protocols cannot halt the deterioration of her body." Asahina-san (Big) shook her head, "She is outside of time now."

Itsuko sidled up and tried to generate a fireball, only for her hands to fizzle out, "I'm all out of energy, it seems our time is up in this dimension. I don't have healing powers anyway."

Tsuruya-senpai crouched beside me, "I'm sorry Kyon, there's nothing left for me to do. We have no options left."

I looked down at Yuki, her smile still present, as her wheezing breath grew fainter.

"There is one possibility."

I looked up to see Nagato, from my universe.

"I have been trying to classify that last quark of energy in her body, assuming it to be a vital part of her sliding body, and that without it she would no longer function." She blinked, "However, it would appear that when I took control of the abilities of Haruhi Suzumiya, I failed to erase all presence of it within her."

"Wait, so you can cure her?" I was delighted, she could be healed!

Nagato shook her head.

"No, that is impossible, she has been corrupted by the void energy, and a large portion of her life force was drained, meaning she would only live for another day here."

"So, what else is left?"

"I can copy her thought processes down to the tiniest detail. Each memory she had experienced, the ones I created for her, the ones she has created herself, the emotional states in each one, all information stored in her mind."

"So, you can copy her brain? Why would you do that? What use would it do?" I was infuriated now, was that her great plan?

Nagato blinked once, "She would exist within me as a distinct personality, she would be able to communicate with the outside world at will, and with myself naturally." She glanced at the chest wound, "While her body may die, she can share my own, I have enough storage space for her to experience a full life, and freedom to express herself."

I was amazed, "You would do that for her, Nagato?"

"Yes." A succinct answer, "I am her and she is me. Now we will become one again." Nagato looked at me again, "I have also realised within myself that having something akin to a sibling, and not just as an unrelated colleague, is something that I desire."

I was shocked to my bones, never had I imagined that Nagato would ever declare this to be something that she would want. I just assumed that being alone is something which came natural to her.

"Okay, please save her, Nagato."

I smiled inadvertently, the double-meaning of that word immediately jumping out at me.

She walked over to Yuki's figure and crouched.

"I require her permission prior to download."

I realised that I had decided Yuki's life without even taking her opinion into account.

Looking at the twin, I nodded at her, "Did you understand everything we talked about?"

"Y... Yes..." Breathing was becoming harder for her.

"Do you wish to proceed with the transfer? If you have any questions ask now, as the process is irreversible." Nagato was blunt, but understood the urgency given the rapidly dying person in front of us.

"C-Can I really do what I want? Can I cry, smile, get angry? Can I get hurt? Will my soul die one day? "

Nagato replied, "Yes, you will have full access to my human abilities only, no data manipulation. Yes, all emotions are available for expression. Only emotionally, my body can reconstruct itself if there is any physical damage. Only you can choose when to die, I will have no right over it myself; should you choose, you could live indefinitely."

Yuki smiled, "Living forever becomes a curse, like all those books I've read. You have to watch the people you love die one after the other." She looked at me and her cheeks turned pink, before coughing roughly.

"There is little time. Please give me your response."

"Then, please take care of me. I accept." Yuki closed her eyes.

Bringing up SQL code in her hyperspeech, Nagato began to tingle, and soon her hands shimmered. Lowering her face, she opened Yuki's mouth and began to breathe in.

I saw a stream of letters and numbers pour upwards, straight into Nagato's own mouth.

Yuki watched with fascination at her own soul being converted into code and back again inside of Nagato. Even as we watched, Yuki's eyes began to dull and we soon realised that she was more or less just a shell.

Descending sharply, Nagato placed her mouth over Yuki's in a form of reverse CPR. Instead of puffing air in, it seemed that she was sucking it out, as Yuki's chest deflated visibly, even though her lungs were undoubtedly pierced by the giant blade of Asakura.

As she sat up again, the body of Yuki was now fully dormant, her eyes shut peacefully and despite the gaping wound in her chest, seemed otherwise sleeping.

Nagato stroked the hair of Yuki, "I'm sorry, everyone, for making you worry. I feel fine now. Asakura is gone, but I'm still alive inside Nagato."

We could only stare as Yuki's body began to fade away, slower than Asakura.

"This body was sustained primarily by the Suzumiya Quark. Without it, the decompositions has accelerated to maximum speed to counter this strength." Nagato spoke from the same mouth, but still was stroking the hair of Yuki.

"Wait, so who's talking now?" Itsuko scratched her head, before looking at Koizumi and winking.

"Both personalities can control various aspects of this body. Parallel processing allows for multitasking purposes."

"I see, using the extra cores to divert all necessary functions to where they desire." Entity Nagato seemed impressed at her younger self, "I assume you are using the subdivision matrices to collate and extrapolate all neurological response from the Human Nagato Yuki."

"That is correct." Nagato nodded, only to frown, "I don't like to be called just neurological whatever, I am still human."

Entity Nagato smiled, "My apologies. I did not mean to offend."

Tsuruya-senpai looked at her hand and bit her bottom lip, "The portal containment is growing unstable. I need to send you all back to your realities now."

"I'm sure that you will be happy Yuki." Asahina-san (Big) spoke first as her portal opened up before her, "Be sure to express your desires the only way you can."

Stepping backwards into her orange portal, she winked at me, "I'll say hello to Kyon for you."

With that, she was gone, leaving me somewhat sadder.

Itsuko placed her hands on her hips as she sidled up to me, "You remember, you have to treat everyone equally, Yuki, Nagato, Suzumiya, Asahina, Tsuruya and even Koizumi, don't hurt anybody's feelings."

I just arched an eyebrow, "What are you talking about, Koizumi? I hurt his feelings?"

Getting a thump on my head, I could only gasp as she looked miffed, "Yeah, you do. I can't do this to you back home, so I'll just let out my steam this way here."

Sauntering off into her portal, I just felt the bump on his head grow from her hit.

Entity Nagato bowed at us, looking to me first, "Whilst our timelines diverged in the past to create this alternate reality of yours, I feel no less affection to you here." She handed me a a small book from inside her sleeve, "Times have changed, so you may never see them in this reality, but this is your life in my world."

It was a family album of when they went on holiday to Greece, and then Turkey and Egypt given the monuments and sights in the background. I opened the first page to see an older version of me, no less handsome I must admit, with a smiling Nagato, and two smaller people, who I realised were that version's children. I traced over their faces, seeing similarities between both me and Nagato in them.

I could only stare slack-jawed at her as she smiled before stepping into her portal, feeling a tiny bit jealous at my counterpart there.

I looked at Tsuruya-senpai, putting the book away before looking at the body that lay ahead, his smile still plastered on his face.

"Let's return him to his home too. Even though my thoughts corrupted his own, he deserves to be sent back to his rightful place, if only to redeem himself. Without his own power, we would have lost."

The slider nodded and created a portal next to his body. I crouched down and picked him up.

"I'm sorry..." I said to his corpse, "We did it in the end with your help. I'm sorry I ruined your life. At least you're at peace now."

As the portal was flat on the ground, I lowered him into the portal gently, seeing him vanish into his own universe.

Tsuruya-senpai closed the portal afterwards and fell to her knees, "I need to rest. My portal device is rechargings. I needs it for me to gets to our new home."

"I understand..." I looked at Nagato, Koizumi, and Asahina-san, who had just woken up and was looking confused at everything.

"Let's go home." Nagato, I'll need your help to get Tsuruya-senpai back to where she's staying.

Nodding in response, we got up as one and left the park, ignoring the devastation we left behind for the authorities to clear up tomorrow.

An hour later

Nagato escorted me and Tsuruya-senpai to the abandoned construction site they were using as their home for now.

I talked to Haruhi, who insisted on calling me John throughout, Asahina-san and Koizumi from the old world, explaining the battle to them. Tsuruya-senpai was lying on a makeshift bed as Nagato used her knowledge of sliders to try to heal her wounds.

"So, Yuki died in the end..." Asahina-san was down, and I wanted to comfort her, only to know that she had a very bad impression of me back in that world.

"She's alive inside Nagato," I said, "So in some form, she can still live."

Haruhi just folded her arms, "Of course, to live on is a choice only humans can make, and it is much better than simply waiting for death, don't your agree John?"

Yes, naturally I do. If I didn't I don't think I would have survived this long, without fighting for one's right to live, you deny your only chance at delaying your own death.

"So, are you ready to live in your new world Tsuruya-senpai has found?"

Haruhi nodded, "As I said before, anything we need to do in order to live, we will do it." She jerked her head in the direction of her old home, "Besides, I doubt I'd want to see my own stupid self here, at least I can tell if there is something odd going on."

I had to chuckle, despite everything, I would miss these people, and so I looked at them all seriously.

"I hope you will be happy, all of you. I know it's partly my fault for bringing you into this, if I had just accepted my new reality back then, none of you would have had to go through this hell."

Koizumi shook his head, "Nonsense, this was far out of your control. You cannot apologise for something that happened due to a massive improbability and unlikely scenario. Who's to say I would not do the same if I were in your position? Home is a very important place for everyone, there is always one true home, where your heart belongs."

Asahina-san agreed, "Yes, and knowing that my whole past there was fake, while it still hurts a little, I'm sure I can adjust to a new life somewhere else."

Haruhi just slapped me on my back and put me in a neck choke, "Yeah, John. Don't get all soppy on me. Thanks to you, we all have another chance to live, so we owe you our lives you know?"

She gave me a predatory grin, "We're going to have fun in this new world, now that we know that there are things that cannot be perfectly explained by science." Her face grew melancholic however and she got closer to me, "But, I will miss you personally, John. Without you there, it wouldn't be the same."

"I know, but -"

She put a finger to my lips, stopping me mid-apology, before bringing her face closer to kiss her own finger, her lips never touching my own.

"Enough, my life is my own. Your life is here, and despite my God-like self being a little dim, I'm sure she'd be sad if you left too." Placing her hand on her hips again, she looked very energetic and positive, "So, go forth John, and change your world for the better!"

I'm not sure I want to do that just yet, a nice long rest is my first port of call, then maybe I can try to make any changes.

As Nagato and I left, Tsuruya-senpai said her portal device would be ready the next morning, so when we went to school, they would have already gone on.

Nagato walked up to Tsuruya-senpai after she said this.

"Whilst you may possess the sliding technology, you do not have any resources to begin proper in the new world. Having decoded basic facets of alternate universes, I can provide you with this."

She handed a small glowing white cube to Tsuruya-senpai, laden with SQL code flitting about inside.

"Wh-what is it?" She asked, genuinely impressed and in awe of its subtle beauty.

"Executable code. To put it in basic human terminology, it would provide you with assets in terms of finances, a house, birth certificates, and whatever else you may require to start a new life. It can only be used once, and it will read your thoughts also so you do not accidentally forget something important."

Tsuruya-senpai sniffed loudly, "Y-Yuki-chan..."

"Well, I can't have my friends become homeless now, can I?" She looked at the cube, "It won't make you millionaires, but you'll have enough to live off until you get some decent jobs after school and maybe even after university ends."

"Thank you Yuki-chan!" Pulling her into a massive hug, I saw tears forming on Tsuruya-senpai's face, "This will help us so much!"

"Don't thank me, thank Nagato too, she created the code."

Watching the two share a private moment, I stepped outside to see the dark sky, knowing that this ordeal in my life would all be over by tomorrow.

All that remained was how to explain Yuki's death to Haruhi...

Monday

The battle occurred on Saturday evening, after the cram classes at school. We didn't see Haruhi on Sunday, and now we had to tell her the truth about Yuki.

We, our version of the truth.

"Did she suffer, Yuki?"

Nagato spoke neutrally as she explained to Haruhi, "No, it was in her sleep. I did not wish to intrude in anyone else's weekend, so I have undertaken the necessary actions following her untimely death. I have purchased a plot of land for her ashes to lie in"

Haruhi was extremely sullen, and I knew that Koizumi would have to deal with extra Celestials for a time.

"I... I don't know what to say..." She was trying to speak, but her emotions must have been bubbling under the surface, especially since she only very recently found out that Nagato had a twin, and now that twin was dead.

Nagato nodded, "I understand, I have been speaking with a counsellor to deal with this loss, and I do feel a little better, though it will take time to adjust. You do not need to worry, but if you wish to know more about her, you are welcome to ask me."

Haruhi smiled for once, "I'd like that, another day perhaps..." She looked at all of us, "I'm going to head home for the day, I don't think this is the right mood for a clubroom meeting. We'll see each other tomorrow and see how I feel then."

Leaving the room, she still bore a light frown on her face. Koizumi looked at me and at his phone, "As you suspected, there are numerous Celestials causing a lot of problems in Closed Space. I am needed to help reduce the numbers."

Sure, go ahead, it'll be a way to clear your head too. I paused in my thoughts, didn't Itsuko tell me to be nice, even to Koizumi?

"Okay, take care, they may be more angry today than ever."

Smiling in return he waved as he opened the door, "Thank you. I will meet you again tomorrow if the situation clears up."

Asahina-san was looking at me and Nagato, "Why won't anyone tell me what was happening? Why did Yuki die? How did I miss everything?"

I sighed again, "You fainted, everything happened so fast, we couldn't stop her. That's all I can really say."

Nagato merely nodded as if to agree with my statement.

"Well, if you say so, then it must be true Kyon-kun."

I held back my shame at having to lie, I knew deep down that telling her that an older version of her who was also going out with me fought in the battle would break a lot of those rules regarding the Time Traveller group.

"I need to go home and report to my superiors, they'll probably be angry that I know so little..." She held her ear, "I'll go home first and transport from there. See you tomorrow Kyon-kun, Nagato-san."

Watching her leave, I pulled out the book Entity Nagato gave me and flicked through the photos again. Such beautiful children, and Nagato and I looked so happy together, her smiles were real, and my goofy face held nothing behind them.

"So, Nagato, how is Yuki holding up inside you?"

"I detect no instabilities. We communicate on a daily basis, as she can experience everything that I see and do. She is puzzled at the fact there is no real need for sustenance, nor sleep, nor other bodily functions such as breathing, or the human need to relieve oneself."

Wow, talk about too much information.

"She is able to sleep on her own and wake up thanks to an internal alarm. The breathing as such by my autonomous systems to present myself as human. The same applies to consumption of food and liquids."

"Well, from the sounds of it, she's doing okay now. So she can hear me now and easily speak to me, right?"

Nagato put down the book, closing it with a bookmark and then feeling the pages, immediately reminding me of the shy girl in the Literature room back in December.

"Yes, Nagato has allowed me full reign to do what I want, but I don't want to disturb her life too much. Her role is to observe Haruhi, and I don't want her boss to get angry with me, even though she requested the transfer to be done for research purposes."

"So, she transferred you for them to analyse you?"

Yuki looked at me and blinked, "Well, to be honest, as a soul, now a 'construct of data in nerve cells' as she calls it, I don't really have more information about being a slider."

I smiled, that was just like Nagato, even a small white lie cannot hurt sometimes. To protect Yuki, she said that to make sure she didn't die in vain.

Yuki nodded, "That what I think too, but I can't exactly read her thoughts."

"So, do you want to stay here or go home now, everyone has already left."

"I might as well go too. Nagato only stays until a predetermined time, or if Haruhi goes first, since without her there is nothing to observe."

Makes sense... I picked up my bag and walked to the exit as Yuki got her bag and walked beside me, tripping slightly as I held the door open for her to go first. Catching her she stammered.

"Th-thank you, Kyon-san..."

"Please, call me Kyon, there's no need to be formal."

"Okay, Kyon..."

And then I saw it for the first time.

Nagato, my Nagato, with Yuki inside her, smiled brightly at me.

Holding my sleeve lightly, we walked down the stairs together, soon leaving the school gates.

"So, I've been meaning to ask you, what did Asakura whisper to you before she disappeared?"

Yuki looked off into the distance. The view from the hill was calming, the sun melting into the horizon, as she sighed, exhilarated by the breath coursing through her system, cooling her body down.

"I forgive you."

There was no doubt left in my mind. The right choice was made in the end.

I knew that she would be happy.

Author's Notes

Another story completed. No continuations to this one sadly, but if anyone wants to try, you're more than welcome to. Yuki can choose who she wants to be, and Nagato is unlikely to stop her either.

Hope you liked this ending. While not a true Yuki/Kyon romance (though I originally wanted it to be that way), I changed it at the last minute to be that of friendship, and for Yuki to decide for herself on any future she wishes.

Even a last minute redemption from Ryouko, poor girl.

Till the next time.

J