Hello! This is Air: The Last Letter, my first (and probably only) Air fic. It is based mostly on the anime, though it contains some elements from the movie, too.
As you may know, Air TV and Air: The Movie are the adaptations of Air, a visual novel created by Key. Some of their other works include Kanon (the 2006 version is better) and Clannad. I strongly recommend both of them.
So, as usual, I hope you read and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Air. If I did, Kanna would've been able to pass away, Misuzu would've had survived, she'd have married Yukito and they'd be living happily ever after in a beautiful house, with a nice garden, a cute pet and their wonderful children... (actually, that was a parody of Karin's dream in DNA2) (sigh) Well, something like that.
Kannabi no Mikoto, the last winged being, opened her eyes. She stared at the deep blue ocean beneath her, which was the same shade of sapphire as her eyes. She was flying. For the first time in a thousand years, she was herself.
Her eternal circle of suffering and reincarnation had been broken, the thousandth summer after the events which changed her life.
She didn't feel the pain. But she could still remember it... the arrows which flied towards her, burying themselves in her flesh, making blood come out from her uncountable wounds... Painful. Life drained away from her, in form of the crimson liquid. And then, the dreams. The horrible dreams, where Ryuuya-dono and her mother died once again and again. And then, the eternal suffering of being reincarnated so many times in so many unhappy lives... the memory made a shiver go up her spine. It was too horrible.
But the profound pain which had pierced through her body and mind when she had been cursed had completely disappeared. When she looked at herself, she felt happiness swell up in her chest. All the arrows which had been stuck in her back and wings, which had caused her all the pain and suffering, were being pushed by her own skin.
For the first time during a thousand years, she was able to use her magic again. Her body instinctively repelled the arrows, pulling all of them out and healing the wounds. As soon as they were outside, the weapons fell silently while they spun around in the air, finally falling into the sea below. The curse on her had been lifted.
Kanna felt alive. Alive. She took a deep breath, and let fresh air rush into her lungs. She had forgotten how good it felt. Of course, she had reincarnated quite a few times, and she held all the memories of each and every girl she had lived as. But they were however just that: memories. She hadn't been those girls. Each and every of the girls she had reincarnated as had had two souls: their own and Kanna's. So she could remember those past lives, but she held no feelings. Of course, she felt sorrowful when she thought about the fate of all the girls, predestined to die young. Overwhelmed by her soul.
Kanna knew a thousand years had passed. Ryuuya and Uraha were dead. But, before she went away with them, she knew she had to do something. She had to visit that place, the place where everything had begun: the place where her mother died, where she was cursed.
Her senses told her she was far away: a part of her soul continuously travelled over the sea, across the globe, while the other reincarnated once and once again. Invisible for humans, visible for the animals whom she shared a special bond to nature with.
She decidedly changed her direction, heading to the place where her life had taken an unexpected turn. It would take her a few days to get to the spot where her destiny had been rewritten, but she felt like paying a last visit. After that, she'd fly to Heaven, where she would be able to meet with her beloved Ryuuya-dono, with Uraha, and with the person she wanted to see the most: her mother.
Kanna landed on the opening in the middle of the forest. It hadn't been difficult to find the place, since it gave out a special energy. But the landscape had changed so much it was barely recognizable. The small villages had turned into big cities, which developed at an immeasurable speed, eating all the trees and fields around them, to be able of constructing more and more buildings. The old sand roads were now new concrete highways, where a lot of cars rushed up and down at speeds which would've been considered impossible in her times.
However, the sacred mountain had remained quite unchanged. They had cut trees and opened defined paths for the excursionists and pilgrims which went up to visit the temple. But the mountain had remained essentially the same, as beautiful and ethereal as a millennium behind.
Kanna sat on a rock. It had lost a bit of shape over time, but she recognized it as the place where her mother had died. She passed a hand over the stone, remembering with a painful intensity those moments. She felt like crying, but she knew she didn't have a reason to. In just a few minutes, she would take flight and rise into the sky, ready to be with all her loved people again.
Instead of crying, she looked at the envelope in her hand. She had held it since Misuzu Kamio, her last reincarnation, had died. The winged being remembered in what conditions Misuzu had written the letter: she was in a great pain, her fingers numbed. But she had poured all of her thoughts onto the paper. As soon as she had finished, she had placed in under her pajama bottom, which had an elastic band around her waist, preventing the envelope from falling. Misuzu had carried it there until a few hours later, she had died. She had wanted to take the letter up to Heaven.
Kanna remembered Misuzu's life, all of it. She had probably been the reincarnation which had suffered the most, not having loving parents, at least, until it was too late. But she had to thank her.
Thanks to her and that young man, Yukito Kunisaki, she was finally free. She had an idea where this Yukito came from. His aura resembled pretty much that of Uraha's, and he undoubtedly had Ryuuya's traits. He was probably their last descendant, which had been told to find the girl in the sky and ease her suffering, just like all of his ancestors were told. A legend, passed from generation to generation. His ability to control the puppet without touching it meant he was the bearer of magical powers, which were probably a family characteristic too.
And when his puppet had disappeared, pouring all of its magic into Misuzu, Kanna had known she was finally free. But, even if so, Misuzu had had to suffer until the last day, still being attached to her. But, when she too had died, Kanna finally became herself, breaking the eternal circle.
Kanna smiled ironically. Ryuuya had remained faithful to her, being on duty as his bodyguard until the day of his death. And he had transmitted his job onto his descendants. His strong will, along with Uraha's power, had been the key to her freedom, a millennium later.
Kanna looked at the name written on the envelope she carefully held in her hands.
She knew what was written on the letter. Misuzu's final confession, which she had wanted to give to Yukito when she went to Heaven. And Kanna, in a gesture of gratefulness for being freed, would deliver.
Suddenly, a sound of beating wings caught her attention. She looked up, and saw a black bird descending from the blue sky. It finally landed next to her. It was a crow. It looked at her, and tilted his head to a side. His eyes held a message which was written in the language of nature, which Kanna was familiar with. It seemed to say "Finally, I found you."
This is the first letter I've ever written. I'm sorry if it comes out badly. The thing is, I never really had anyone to write to before. This is the first and last letter I'll ever write: it's my final work, the masterpiece I dedicated a whole summer to be able to write.
Kanna was a winged being who held the messages of the stars. She knew that the bird wasn't as clueless and stupid as it seemed. It had probably had come here for something. A sudden realisation popped into her head.
"Hey, you're Misuzu's crow, right? Sora?"
The animal seemed to move his head up and down.
I find it hard to hold a pen, Yukito-san. My hand trembles as I write my final words. But I need to do this. If I ever find you in heaven, in hell, or wherever I go to, please read this letter. The night is dark outside. Mom is sleeping. But I just can't. I know this is my last night on Earth. But I can't have my final dream. Not yet. I need to express what I feel first.
"Have you continued looking for me, just like that Yukito boy did?"
Again, the bird seemed to nod.
You're my second favourite person in this world, Yukito-san. After Mom, you're the person I love the most. I would've loved to do many things with you: to laugh together, to play, to spend time talking... but, most of all, I would've enjoyed just being with you.
Kanna affectionately patted the bird's head. He didn't seem to move.
"You see, there's no need to look for me anymore. Finally, after a thousand years of continuous pain and reincarnations, I'm finally free. I can now go to Heaven, and be reunited again with Mom, Ryuuya-dono and Uraha. I'll get the peace I never found, at last."
The crow, again, said nothing.
One of my greatest wishes would've been to build a strong bond of security, confidence and solidity with you. Maybe, just maybe... I would've eventually develop enough confidence to call you Yukito-kun. And some day, I could've even called you Yukito, just Yukito.
"Well, I know you can't really talk, but you could at least make some kind of noise, right? Just to show that you understand and that I'm not talking to myself."
Sora opened its beak and emitted a weird noise, which resembled someone choking.
It's weird, Yukito-san. Now that I know I am going to die, I feel life like I never did before. I enjoy the cool night breeze which comes through the open window, I feel the fluffy material of my carpet under my feet, I listen to the insects making noises outside, I smell the fragrance in the air, a fragrance which smells like moisture, heat and salt. I feel a whole lot of details which I never really payed attention to. Details which may seem stupid, sometimes unnecessary, but which make me understand how complete the world really is.
"There! Much better! I now know I haven't gone crazy yet."
She and the bird just sat in silence.
It's unfair. I know I shouldn't say so. I had a whole summer to enjoy the newly found happiness. In a summer, I concentrated the joy of a lifetime. I knew this would eventually happen. I knew my last dream had to come, so I tried. I tried to make the most out of the little time I had left. But I can't help to feel this feeling of regret. I'm going to leave Mom alone, and there are so many thing I wanted to do with her...
"Of all my different lives," Kanna explained. "Misuzu's was probably the saddest. You may think that crying when she made friends was a condition which happened because of me, but she actually would've had it the same if I hadn't been there. She had no friends and a mother which was distant from her and only realized her mistake ten years later. Most of my reincarnations had a family and friends which loved them since when they were born until the day they died, though their lives were also unhappy. I'm glad that Misuzu could be happy at least in the very end."
I wanted to go again to the summer festival with her. I wanted to go to the beach and bathe, I wanted to play cards, to eat watermelon together, to watch TV, to just keep her company and see, day after day, a smile on her face. But I guess it's too late now. I'll lie to her until the end if necessary, just not to see her crying while I'm still alive.
"I've always reincarnated in females, which die as soon as they become fifteen and they fall in love. As soon as the two conditions have been fulfilled, they will die in relatively a short amount of time. They make the same mistakes I made. And the power of my soul is just too much for them. It's like trying to put an ocean in a cup. But I didn't choose to live that life. I just wanted to fly away, to give Ryuuya-dono and Uraha an opportunity to survive. My last wish was for them to live happily. I wanted humanity to forget the wounds caused by us, the winged beings. But I ended up failing miserably, causing so much pain. I really, really feel sorry for all the lives I've wrecked."
It took fifteen years to understand what loneliness meant, a summer to forget it and it will just take a second to destroy everything. Death may be unfair, Yukito-san. But life is even more unfair. It lets you taste happiness, love, company... it leads you into temptation. And then, in a second, everything is pulled away from you. Wouldn't it have been better to never have been born? Wouldn't it be better if life didn't exist? That way, we wouldn't have to ever say goodbye. Because there would've never have been a hello.
Kanna looked at the crow. He didn't take his eyes off her.
"Don't you hate me? Because of me, she died. If I hadn't been here, she would still be alive."
The crow moved his head from side to side this time. And Kanna read in his eyes "I don't hate you. If you hadn't existed, I would've never met Misuzu in first place."
That's what I've always thought. I always wanted to make friends, but I've always been afraid to. Because I knew I'd loose them someday. I'm so useless I make people back away from me. So my illness acted in a double way. It prevented me from having friends but, at the same time, it protected me from feeling the pain of their loss. I felt like the most unfortunate person on Earth, but it was a bittersweet feeling. I rejoiced a tiny bit knowing I would be protected from pain. They'd never leave me behind, because they'd never approach me. But being alone was painful anyway. I never did things right.
"I don't know what you mean. But I guess you're right. But still... aren't you sad? Wouldn't you want her to be alive?"
And in Sora's eyes, the message became: "I'm really, really sorrowful. I loved her. But having known her... has been enough. It has been the greatest give I've ever received."
But all of my ideas changed during this summer. When I met you, and tried to become friends with you, I knew things were going to somehow change. And they did. You didn't accept me at first, but you didn't ever force me to go away. You're a weird person, Yukito-san. You don't really lie, but you don't tell the truth either. You never told me I was your friend, but you didn't tell me you hated me. So I just decided to stay with you.
"Wow, you're talking like a prophet there, my friend, But I'm sorry to tell you, Misuzu only had eyes for Yukito. She even wrote him this letter before she died." She held the letter out. "I'll give it to him as soon as I find him."
The crow's expression changed. He seemed to eat the letter with his eyes.
I find it difficult to express my feelings on paper. Things don't always come out like they're supposed to. But there is one thing I wanted to tell you above anything else. And that is, thank you very much, Yukito-san.
"Do you want me to read it? She never really sealed the envelope, in case she had forgotten to write something."
The crow nodded hardly. Kanna took the letter out. She unfolded a few sheets of paper, with black ink over them. She coughed a bit to clear her voice and immediately started reading.
You were the person who opened my world. Thanks to you, I got to know many wonderful people during this summer: Kano-san and Hijiri-san, Michiru-chan and Tohno-san, Potato... and, also, you were the person who helped me get along with Mom. And, for all this, I'm immensely grateful. During the time I spent with you, I felt the most beautiful feeling there is on Earth: happiness. You helped me, Yukito-san. And, even if I didn't really experience friendship, I felt something which was really, really close. So close I can't really tell the difference.
Mikoto no Kanna's voice echoed through the clearing. Her voice didn't tremble. She read the letter from top to bottom, making the appropriate pauses and reading with the correct intonation. Her clear voice linked all the words, making it sound like a melody. Words, sentences, paragraphs... she read everything at the correct speed. It was like a poem, a song where all the ideas linked and the letter's contents were clear and pure.
You stayed with me when I needed you the most. Even if it hurt more when you were by my side, I wanted you to be with me. Even if you knew I cried whenever I made friends, you didn't leave me like everyone else. You really made me feel special. Was it love? I don't know, I can't really tell. I've never been in love before, so I don't know what it feels like. But it was something of approximately that nature: it could've been a crush, I could've really fallen for you, I may even love you. And I'm certain that this feeling caused the whole end to begin.
Suddenly, the dream stopped. Kanna finished reading. She folded the sheets of paper again, and placed them in the envelope. When she looked at her companion again, she was disturbed by the view.
Sora was crying.
Birds can't appropriately cry, but small water droplets fell from his eyes in a seemingly never ending cascade.
I'm not blaming you, Yukito-san. On the contrary, I am really, really thankful for what you have done. Because, thanks to you, I started to see life under a different light. I started to appreciate it, to give thanks for every day I spent on Earth with you and Mom. I didn't see birth like a curse anymore. I saw it like a blessing. During this summer, you've taught me the good things which you can only feel while being alive.
Kanna didn't know why Sora was crying. Birds can't cry. It's an ability reserved for mainly humans. Something felt off.
And then it clicked. Yukito's disappearance, Sora's docility, the crow's strange goal, his interest for the letter...
"No way. You're Yukito?" she asked, not really believing what she said.
The crow nodded. And Kanna read in his eyes he wasn't lying. She smiled a little. And she held the envelope out.
I would've wanted you to be the first person who I could totally become one with. When two people unite in the ultimate expression of love (notice I'm not talking about sex. Sex is just that: the carnal pleasure. I'm talking about making love), they become united in every way, in body and soul. I'm not ashamed to say things like this. I'm dying, anyway. I would've wanted to make love with you, to marry and to have children someday. I would've loved to help them grow up and show them the real value of life. Just like you showed me. I would've wanted you to be their father and, that way, we could've always been a family. Because families are the things which bring the most happiness into the world.
"Here. I think this belongs to you."
Yukito/Sora took the letter in his beak, his eyes holding immense gratitude.
And Kanna looked at the sky. The eternal blue sky, which had been her home for a millennium and would now be her escape door out of the Earth.
I feel life draining from me, Yukito-san. Slowly, but steadily, my time to leave is coming. I'm starting to get sleepy. The last dream will soon take place. And I feel weaker as I write on. So I just wanted to tell you how much I want to see you again, in heaven. Do you think we'll be together for the rest of eternity?
"Will you come with me," she whispered. "to the place that never changes? Not to paradise, but to Heaven, where all our loved beings which passed away live? Will you come with me to the place where smiles are everyday's routine, where flowers never wither, where everybody lives in peace and no one ever cries?"
Yukito nodded, a fierce determination shining in his eyes. His mother and Misuzu, the two women he had loved the most, had left him. He had nowhere to go. He had fulfilled his goal in life: to find the girl in the sky. He had no reasons to live, but he did have reasons to leave life behind. Misuzu was waiting for him, he knew. And he wouldn't make her wait. Home is where the heart is, people say. And, if it was true, his home was in Heaven, with Misuzu and his mother.
Of course, he knew he had friends on Earth. Kano, Minagi, Hijiri, Potato... but they'd understand. After all, he was a traveller. So they wouldn't worry. And anyway, as a crow, he couldn't do much for them. All of them had survived when they had lost their precious beings: Kano and Hijiri had lost their parents, Minagi had lost Michiru... but they had been able to move on. And Yukito was different. They had all accepted the prize for being his friends: knowing that he would someday leave.
This isn't a love letter. It isn't a complaint letter either. I just want to be able to give this to you and explain everything I never had time to. Because, thanks to your efforts, I know the girl in the sky will finally be able to pass on when I die, breaking her eternal circle of suffering. So I want to be able to give you this letter. I want you to know that all of your efforts weren't in vain.
The sound of two pairs of flapping wings filled the clearing. With a few powerful wing beats, Kanna rose. Yukito flapped his black wings rapidly, rising into the sky after her. He held the letter in his beak, never letting it go. He followed Kanna as she rose, and rose, and rose, higher than what any being has ever flied. They were flying towards Heaven.
I hope to see you soon, Yukito-san.
And as they rose, and the blue sky reflected in Yukito's eyes, making them appear full of white clouds, his thoughts were spinning around. Kanna thought how she would soon meet her mother, Uraha and Ryuuya, the only man she could ever love. But Yukito's thoughts were different. He only thought of one person, the person he wanted to see the most.
This was just done because I wanted to write something which wasn't in the anime/manga section... though it is a manga and an anime anyway I'm so weird.
So please, review? You know, it makes us writers feel great! You feel like someone actually values your hard work. And it makes you feel like writing even more! A good story, which might be excellent, will die if no one reviews. So...please? Make my day?