Cloud: If you want to know more about Kotomi's book "The Dandelion Girl" I'd suggest reading it, it's actually a really good book. There's a huge spoiler for it in this chapter, so if you want to read it without getting spoiled then read it before you read this chapter.

Also, this is really getting out of hand, so much for "Only a few chapters for each after story." -_-'

Clannad After Story: Tomoyo

Part 4

"It's not looking very good right now."

The doctor was speaking, it was as if he had to break the news so many times already... that he didn't really feel the impact anymore. Even he looked regretful however. Sanae had finally stopped crying, but she wouldn't let go of her husband. Tomoyo was much the same with me, she must have gotten to know Nagisa well in the time she helped her establish the theatre club.

That still didn't explain why I was here though.

I had only just become her friend.

Though part of me felt that such a thing wouldn't matter to Nagisa, she hadn't complained about the Fujibayashi twins showing up, and I knew for a fact that she didn't know half of this crowd.

"For now, we should let her rest," continued the doctor. "Her condition right now is extremely fragile, and we don't know much about this particular illness."

He continued talking for at least a minute, but I wasn't really paying attention anymore. I knew that Nagisa was dying, and that there wasn't really anything we could do. Every single one of us knew that the doctor's false words of comfort were just that, false.

All we could do was stand there... and watch.

"Dammit." I gritted my teeth.

When had everything gone to hell like this?

Where did I screw up?

Was I supposed to help her, would it have even made a difference?

I hadn't even intended to ask her to be my friend, it just slipped out naturally, like we were supposed to know each other in the first place.

Tomoyo hadn't said a word.

I led her gently to Nagisa's bedside, and we both sat down in the two chairs that were put out. Sanae and Akio didn't move from the foot of her bed, Akio was just... staring at her.

I noticed vaguely that Sunohara was hugging Mei tightly.

We sat there.

I don't know how long. More chairs were brought, and Akio and Sanae joined us in taking a seat, along with several others.

Even more chairs were brought.

Minutes turned into hours quickly.

Tomoyo had long since fallen asleep on my shoulder.

I found myself dozing off as well, leaning on her soft hair.

All we could do waswait, and pray.

Visiting hours passed, but we weren't asked to move, almost as if it was being nailed home that Nagisa was dying.

Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I looked up.

It was Akio, her father.

"She'll pull through," he said firmly.

"Wha... but the doctor said..."

"I don't give a shit what the doctor said, this is what I know. Do you know how much of a difference you and your friends made for her?"

"All I did was talk to her a few times."

He smirked, "Sometimes that's all it takes. The ground that this hospital was built on is a special place for this family. This isn't the first time this has happened. Sanae and I, we both sacrificed our dreams to take care of our daughter, and we don't regret it, not at all. That's what family is about sometimes, sacrifice."

I looked down at Tomoyo, still sleeping on my shoulder, mouth slightly open as she breathed.

And I remembered what she sacrificed for me.

"I refuse to believe that sacrafice will be in vain, because she's still alive now, and she always will be. She'll get married, and make friends, and have children."

"Hey... old man..."

"Yeah."

"I have a favor to ask of you."

"What is it."

"If... when Nagisa recovers, can Tomoyo and I stay at the baking shop with you? It will only be for a year. It's just..."

"That's Tomoyo Sakagami isn't it? The tiger?"

"The Tiger?"

I'd never heard such a nickname before.

Akio continued, "I suppose you would be having trouble with that sort of thing," he said, sighing, "Don't underestimate me, I've still got some fight left. Those punks won't want to come within ten feet of the place."

I looked back to Nagisa, "But wouldn't that put your family in danger too?"

He chuckled, "Tch, they won't stand a chance. You'll owe me big time though."

"Um... don't worry, I'll help you run the shop and everything!"

He smirked, "Not that, you'll have to defeat me in a game of baseball."

"But... my shoulder is..."

A light breath cut off my sentence. "Okazaki-kun... I'm sure you can do it."

"Nagisa?"

She smiled lightly, "This isn't the first time I was told I would die," she said softly. "Also, when I was little. Dad saved me, he brought me to this field and screamed."

Akio's eyes widened, "You were awake?"

"And now that all my friends are here, I'm sure I'll be okay."

"Nagisa, you don't even know half of these people."

"I know you Okazaki-kun. I know that you're a kind person with a big heart." She rolled over and reached out to Tomoyo and I. She grasped our hands and brought them together, still smiling, "You'll take good care of her Okazaki-kun, just like you did with me on the first few days of school."

I nodded, "Yeah, I will."

"Good, then let my dad... let us help too."

"Yeah."

-------------

The next few days saw Nagisa's mother relieved beyond belief. She had been bed ridden in the process, but Nagisa didn't miss a lot of school, and would be starting again soon. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that nothing like this would happen to her again.

The morning we were to move I woke up on my own for once, and I thought I saw a light floating near the ceiling, when I shook my head to clear it, it was gone.

Tomoyo opened the door and smirked, "Wow, you actually woke up on your own for once, I'll have to give you a reward," she said, walking to me and kneeling at my side. She leaned down and pecked me on the cheek.

I sighed, "That was hardly a reward," I grumbled, reaching up and pinching her cheek.

She frowned, "Breakfast is ready and everythings already been moved to the guest room in their home, are you sure this is right? I kind of feel like we're imposing, especially after what happened at the hospital a few days ago."

"I don't know, it was just weird as all, I just went to the hospital, didn't even really think about it."

"Well, in any case, Sunohara left yesterday with Mei, said something about getting back to important things."

"Jerk didn't even say goodbye," I said with a yawn, rubbing my eyes.

When the door bell rang I brought a hand to my face, "What is it with people coming to see us in the morning?"

I stood to answer it and found the person I least expected on the other side. It was the girl from a few days ago, the one Sunohara had a crush on. "Kotomi, right?"

She looked left and right slowly, leaning back to get a better view of the apartment walk. She turned back to me and smiled softly, "Hello, Tomoya-kun."

How the hell did these people learn my name?!

"Riiight..."

"Ah, it's that girl," said Tomoyo softly, appearing behind me in her usual fashion for whenever I answered the door.

"And you must be Tomoyo-chan," said Kotomi softly, bowing to us.

Tomoyo bowed back with a smile, not even missing a beat, "Nice to meet you," she said softly, either completely ignoring or oblivious to the fact that the spacey girl who we didn't know just called us by our given names. "Youhei-kun left before me, my plane doesn't leave until seven in the morning tomorrow, and I wanted to meet his friend."

"You must have learned my name from Sunohara."

She nodded.

"And looked me up."

She shook her head.

"Wha..."

"Youhei-kun said you lived in an apartment, I've been walking around looking for it."

"And you didn't think to ask Sunohara for the address?" I asked, my eyebrow twitching.

"Hmm."She put a finger to her chin, "I don't know his cell phone number."

I banged my head on the door frame, causing Kotomi to jump back and Tomoyo to chuckle. "I... see..." I ground out.

"Well, come on in," said Tomoyo, graciously picking up where I should have left off but couldn't.

We sat, and Tomoyo served her some breakfast, splitting it into even portions for us. Now that I thought about it there was a lot of people coming to visit this place in the past few months. Tomoyo had yet to start rounding out, but I'm sure we would have to tell her parents very soon. Nagisa was a new family friend, Sunohara was still the same as usual, Kyou and Ryou had asked for our number after we departed the hospital.

These were all people I went to school with. Even the girl in front of me, though I had never met her before.

It made me think about that school. "Hey," I said softly to the girls, "Did you guys know that they're tearing down the old building at the high school and building new facilities?"

Tomoyo nodded, of course she would know, she was the council president.

Kotomi on the other hand, looked slightly shocked.

I continued, "It's just strange to think back... and remember my days at school. When I went there I hated it, but now that I know this I don't really want it to change."

"They're also renovating the library," said Kotomi softly. She looked sad, that must have been her favorite place.

"The sporting facilities aren't getting the treatment though," said Tomyo, sipping from her tea.

I let out a light sighed of relief, at least the field I first saw Tomoyo would remain intact, "I'm just not comfortable with it," I said honestly, picking at the food on my plate.

"Tomoya-kun." I looked back up when Kotomi called my name, "I have something I wanted to give you." She reached behind her and grabbed her purse. She set it on the table and opened it, pulling out a book.

She handed it to me over the table, and I took it gently.

It was a Japanese writing of a Sci-fi novel titled, "The Dandelion Girl".

Day before yesterday I saw a rabbit, and yesterday a deer, and today, you.

I muttered the line softly to myself without even opening the book.

"It's from a book."

"I don't really like reading."

Kotomi smiled and stood up. Without me even realizing she had finished eating, "Thank you for the meal Tomoya-kun, Tomoyo-chan. I have to get going, as I still haven't packed."

She left with her quaint goodbye, while I sat there staring at the book.

"What is it?" asked Tomoyo.

"I don't know," I said softly, "I haven't read it yet."

I read the book that night. Tomoyo had fallen asleep, leaning on my shoulder as I flipped the pages. It was about a girl who traveled back in time and met the love of her life. The man was married already, and one day she stopped using the time machine to see him. After not seeing her for a while the man stumbled across a dress in his attic, the same dress that the girl had worn. The realization dawned on him that the girl was his wife, who, instead of going back to her own time, traveled to when he was twenty-one years of age and married him.

By the time I finished it was morning and I had bags under my eyes, but I didn't really care that much. I woke Tomoyo, gently nudging her arm. She grumbled a bit and her eyes opened. "Hey, our air ports not that big right? It's a hub air port, it only has a couple of terminals."

"Yeah," she said, yawning lightly, "What's up, are we eloping? Let's do it."

I chuckled when she shot my old joke back at me, "No, I just realized I have something really important to do."

-----------

"C'mon, let's go!"

"What's the hurry?!"

"Her plane leaves at seven!" I shouted, "That's in an hour and a half, if she's already through security we're screwed!"

This time I was the one dragging Tomoyo, dodging bespectacled onlookers as I made my way to the only security terminal in the air port. Thank God for small town hub air ports, we would never find her if this was a big city. I wasn't really used to running, so I was slightly out of breath, but I wasn't exactly unfit or unhealthy either. When we got to the terminal I searched the crowd for her... and saw her on the other side of the terminal. I ran up as close as I could to the small barrier, startling the security guard at the station, "Sir you can't..."

I didn't let him finish, "KOTOMI-CHAN!!"

Kotomi froze.

The security guard was yelling at me now, but I couldn't hear him.

"The day before yesterday!" I shouted.

Kotomi turned around slowly.

Even from this distance I could see her crying.

"I saw a rabbit!"

The guard was glaring at me, "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to..."

I interrupted him again, "And yesterday, a deer!"

"Sir, you're causing a ruckus."

"And today... YOU!!"

I shouted at the top of my lungs.

"Kotomi. I... couldn't find you a birthday present!" I laughed, "I searched and searched for hours on end, and I couldn't find anything that I thought you'd like! I was so embarrased that I didn't come to your party! I'm sorry! I hope you can finish your parent's research!"

She was crying, but she was smiling as well.

-------------

"I knew her when I was little," I said softly as Tomoyo and I walked home together. "By the time I entered high school I had completely forgotten her. I always went into her house from the backyard garden that they had. It was an amazing place. As you heard, she invited me to her birthday party, but I was too embarrased from not being able to find her a present. I heard from Sunohara, her parents had died on her birthday. When she gave me that book, and I read it... it all came rushing back to me. I felt like the scum of the Earth." I chuckled harshly, "I had to catch her at the air port, because I might never see her again."

Tomoyo's grip tightened on my arm, "You will," she said softly, "I'm sure of it. She looked like she would definately come back. You try to put on this mask, but you're just a big softy," she said playfully.

I grinned, "Ouch, I'm the delinquent that was supposed to drop out remember. It's only the fault of a certain persistant council president that I graduated."

"Hey," she said with a frown, "That's going a bit far don't you think?"

"I made so many mistakes back then," I muttered to myself, "I ignored my father, I forgot about one of my best friends, I didn't help Nagisa, and... and I broke up with you too."

She smiled, "That was pretty stupid, but..." She leaned on my shoulder, closing her eyes and letting me walk for the both of us, "We're here now aren't we? Nagisa is alive, and our friend. Kotomi knows you remembered her, your father was proud of you in the end, and as for me?" She stood on her tip toes and took my lips.

When she pulled back I frowned, "What are you doing, outside like this?"

She shrugged, "I just felt like it, let's head home, I know you stayed up all night."

"That's not my fault."

She chuckled, "Yes it is."

"Tch, whatever."