Iris knows after she is freed from the confines of jail than she cannot return to Hazakura, no matter how much Sister Bikini tries to convince her that life will go back to normal. She wouldn't be able to lead a normal life at the temple again, not when she knows that every time she walks around the temple's grounds she'll be reminded of that horrible case.
When she thinks about it, it's not hard for her to figure out what she wants to do with her life once she's released. She's always liked to help people; it's in her disposition. Maybe if she helps enough people, she'll be able to forgive herself for not being able to save her own sister.
She works hard in the courses, she takes good notes like a diligent student should, and shows great aptitude for the job. Because of her good behaviour, she is even released two months early, and starts work as a nurse almost immediately at the Hotti Clinic.
The ward that she is assigned to is full of weak, frail people. Even though they are monitored by nurses around the clock, oftentimes it is just to help them to the toilet, or to hold their hand in a futile attempt to ease their suffering. Iris knows she shouldn't think it, but she knows that these people are beyond saving, that really they are just waiting for their deaths as comfortably as she can. Every day she goes home with tears in her eyes and wonders if she's really cut out for this sort of work. She wants to save people, but in the end all she can do is soothe their hurt, just for a little bit. Maybe this is what being a nurse is really about.
It's the third week since she started work, and a new patient is admitted to her ward. His nervous system is weak, they say, he can hardly move and he is completely blind. Iris takes it all in, just nodding; it's not too unlike the other cases that they have in this forsaken ward.
The last thing she expects is to recognize the new man in her ward.
"Mr Godot?" She barely recognises him without the visor over his face, and his skin is so pale he almost looks as though he could already be dead. She can't help but press her hand against his, and his fingers don't even twitch at the contact.
The world is dark to Godot, but then again, the world has always been dark and bitter, just like the bottom of a coffee mug. He lost his sight a few weeks ago, back when he started losing the feeling in his hands and feet. He had returned from the depths of Hell to fight his last battle, but ever since it finished, his body had given up. He could still hear out of one ear, and could still speak, even though his words were slurred. He wonders how long he has until he dies again; he wonders if this is his punishment.
"Mr Godot?" he hears a voice ask, so faintly he almost thinks he is imagining it. He tries to smile, but his jaw is slack. "…'at's me."
He hears the sound of something falling against the ground. "It's me, Iris."
Iris. What is the girl doing at the hospital? Is she sick too? He wonders if something happened to her in prison, where he hadn't been able to protect her. He is a hypocrite, but that does not matter; he hears there is a special circle of Hell for people like him, and that he's not far off from returning to it.
"Why…here?" Every day it becomes harder to speak. Soon he won't be able to talk at all.
"I work here." Her voice is as soft as he remembers it to be. It's sometimes hard to think of sweet, gentle Iris as a relative of Mia's. Mia is loud and passionate, whereas Iris is quiet and shy. Sometimes, though, he had seen the similarities. Maybe it was in their smiles, or their tenacious natures.
Iris works here, does she? He wonders how long he's been in here for. He had been admitted before he had learnt how long her sentence was going to be. Time doesn't seem to pass at all; time ceased to matter when he could no longer interact with the world. He is left alone with his thoughts all the time now, unless the nurses are speaking. It's hard to distinguish between dreams and reality when he cannot see, cannot move and cannot feel. Maybe he is dreaming Iris's presence in the ward, just so his mind can rest, knowing that she is safe.
Mr Godot falls asleep soon after; Iris cannot blame him, he looks exhausted. She knows she's not meant to, but she finds herself resting a hand on his cheek while she traces the scar from that horrible case with a gentle finger. He has done so much, he is so brave, and there is no hope left for him, just like there is no hope for anyone admitted to this forsaken ward.
This isn't just another person, though, just another person to care and soothe until the inevitable occurred, another failure etched into Iris's heart. This is Mr Godot, and this is one failure she doesn't think her heart will be able to handle. She wants to hold him, touch him, kiss him, but she doesn't, she can't. Instead she strokes the side of his face gently, feeling the tears well up in the corner of her eyes, and for the first time since starting this new job, she lets them fall.
Godot is dreaming, or is he?
He can hear faint sniffling; is someone crying? Is it Iris? The face is the only area of his body that has any feeling left, and it seems as though someone has discovered this—soft fingertips trace his jaw line. He wants to ask a question, but the words don't come anymore. He's close now; he's been warned if he starts losing his speech that the end would soon follow, and that it would really be the end this time. He had a second chance in life, and not many people got that, and he had, in the end, wasted it.
His face is starting to go numb, or has the stroking just stopped? Then he feels something somewhere else—a soft pair of wet lips pressed against his own. He can barely feel their presence, but he can tell that they're there. Or are they? Maybe there is no point in trying to distinguish between dreams and reality anymore. Maybe there never was any point in such a distinction in the first place. When he awoke from his coma, he woke into a nightmare.
We awaken to find that we are still dreaming; we sleep to find a reality that should have been.
His famous last words and he'll never get to say them.
With the last of his energy, he smiles.
Iris's hand stops on Mr Godot's face and a few moments later, she sees a smile spread clumsily across his face as his breathing halts. Iris can feel herself panicking, can hear the voice inside her head screaming 'no!'. Her resolve shatters and she finds herself pressing her lips against Mr Godot's, but this is no fairytale where a woman can wake a man from his dreams with a kiss.
No matter how hard she tries, she can never save anybody. She could not save her sister, she could not save Mystic Misty and now…she could not save Mr Godot either. When she dreams that night, when she kisses Mr Godot, he wakes up.
The next day, she quits her job, so she can save herself.