Satsuki, Mai and Kanta were walking home from the hospital where they had been visiting Mai and Satsuki's mom.
Kanta observed that Satsuki looked pretty beaten up, her head was hanging and she was dragging her feet.
Their mom had taken a turn for the worst, getting sick again just before she was due back home.
"When is Mama coming home?" Mai asked, pulling on Satsuki's skirt.
At first, Satsuki ignored her, but when Mai got persistent she turned on her.
"She not coming home Mai! She got sick again!"
Mai face crumpled.
"But I want Mama to come home!"
Satsuki turned on her again.
"Quit being such a baby Mai! Mom won't come home just because you want her to. Grow up"
Satsuki turned and ran down the lane.
Mai's lip trembled, then she burst into high pitched sobs, big, fat baby tears rolling down her cheeks.
The little girl started down the lane, slowly dragging her ear of corn behind her.
Kanta just stared after them in confusion.
Satsuki was running home when she saw a dark lane off to her right.
Mai would never follow her there, it was too dark.
Satsuki sped off down it, dissapearing into the dark trees.
A little while later, Mai came down the lane, still crying and dragging her ear of corn.
She didn't even give the other path a glance, she just went on home.
A little while after that, Kanta came along, also ignoring the extra path, just set on making sure that Mai got home safe.
Kanta explained to Mr. Kusakabe about the argument, then asked how Satsuki was doing.
"I'm afraid that Satsuki hasn't been home yet"
That was weird.
Even Satsuki knew to come straight home.
Then, Mai came came in, wiping her eyes.
Kanta's heart went out to the little girl.
He knelt down and took one of Mai's little hands.
"She'll be home soon Mai, don't you worry"
Kanta slowly walked home, hoping that what he had said was true.
Kanta heard his name being called and saw Mai trundling down the road, still holding her ear of corn.
"Mai, what's wrong? Is Satsuki alright?"
Mai's lower lip trembled.
Did that mean the Satsuki was hurt?
"G-gone" Mai whispered, then proceeded to burst into her high-pitched sobs.
"It's okay Mai, we'll find her"
They had been searching for hours with no luck.
Kanta had run along all the roads, trudging down them until his feet hurt.
Then, one of the men ran up to him.
"Kanta! We found one of Satsuki's shoes in the pond, come help us look"
Kanta ran back with the worker, fear strikinghis heart with every step.
"Is this hers?" Granny said, holding the white sandal.
Kanta's heart dropped into his stomach.
Granny started to cry.
The teams searched the pond all over, but no luck.
At sundown, everyone had to leave, each praying that the little girl would come home soon.
Kanta was on his way home when he saw an abandoned hunting trail leading off into the woods.
Satsuki wouldn't go down there, would she?
He walked through the dark trees, starting to get more panicked but the second.
If she had gone down here, she could be hurt, or severely injured.
Kanta picked up his pace.
He burst into a clearing, then he saw her.
"Satsuki!" He said, running to her and turning the little girl over.
She was perfectly still.
Was she breathing?
Then her chest moved.
Kanta gently picked her up, cradling Satsuki in his arms.
She was light, perfectly fitting in his arms.
He walked back the way he came, then went to the Kusakabe house.
"Mr. Kusakabe!" he yelled at he got up the steps.
Mr. Kusakabe burst out of the house, then relaxed when he saw Satsuki's sleeping form.
"Thank goodness you found her Kanta, I don't know what I would've done with her"
Mr Kusakabe reached out to take his daugher, but Kanta stepped back.
"I got it"
Mr. Kusakabe seemed to recognize something in Kanta's expression.
His face softened and he let Kanta in, directing him to where he should put Satsuki.
Kanta tiptoed into Satsuki's room, marveling at the pictures and art on walls.
He gently put her odwn on the bed, then turned to leave.
"K-Kanta" Satsuki whispered.
Kanta turned back, looking into Satsuki's pretty brown eyes.
"Aa-e heh o" He stuttered, then ran out the door.
THe next day, Satsuki was out and about with Mai, running around.
Kanta walked up the lane, then heard Mai and Satsuki's squeals.
He decided to stop by and see how they were doing.
He came up the path, then was instantly engulfed in a hug by Mai.
"You brought Satsuki back!" she yelled happily.
Satsuki caught up to her, blushing slightly.
She pulled Mai off him, then told Mai to go inside, there was lunch for her.
Mai screamed in delight and ran inside.
Satsuki and Kanta were left outside alone.
"Thanks" She whispered.
Kanta seemed rooted to the spot, a small blush covering his cheeks.
Satsuki smiled at his stuttering.
"A-are you, o-okay?" He asked, cautiously taking a step forward.
"I-I better be going" he squeaked, then turned to leave.
"Wait" Satsuki said, grabbing his wrist.
She quickly stepped forwards, and their lips met.
Kanta gasped and turned tomato red.
Without knowing what he was really doing, Kanta kissed her back, relishing her soft lips.
Satsuki gently placed her hands on his shoulders, and he put his on her waist.
"EWWWWW!!!!!" came a screech from the house.
Mai had seen it all.
The two broke apart and blushed furiously.
Mai ran out of the house, swinging her ear of corn dangerously.
"Back off mister! Only Daddy and Mommy and Me can kiss Satsuki!"
Kanta stuttered something unintelligible, then turned and ran.
"Mai! look what you did!"
Mai turned around and hugged Satsuki.
"I don't want Kanta to take you away!"
Satsuki couldn't help but smile.
"It's okay Mai, he won't take me away, not yet"
Only Satsuki knew that it would take a few more weeks before Kanta could ask her out.