Nana and the Lucky Girl

by Rob Morris

The Maple Inn would soon be fixed, and its steadfast would-be protector released from the hospital. The girl called Nana wondered about how fast his heart would heal. Through her link with Lucy-San's dying body, she felt Kouta's emotions as well, as he killed her. There was no hate in his heart at that point. Despite his words about never forgiving her crimes against his family, at the end of it all Kouta still loved the girl known as both Nyu and Lucy.

"You just sit here. I'll grab some food from the stand."

As she and Mayu walked around the small park, taking a break as per Yuka's orders from the push to have the place ready for their 'prince', Nana checked her headdress pieces, sturdily kept in place by a polymer left with her by her beloved 'Papa'. Professor Kurama had promised Nana he would ask Kouta's permission to stay there with her for a time. It seemed likely he would agree-Kouta had a hard time turning anyone down-and this was, after all, Nana's Papa. While Kurama had shot him, Kouta in the hospital seemed to accept his apology even with a little humor. Nana had of course taken Kurama very seriously when he told her she was to obey Kouta as she did him, in order to maintain her safety.

"Silly Papa-Nana knows how to take care of herself."

As Nana awaited Mayu's return with the food, a small ball rolled by her feet.

"Onee-San? Can I have my ball back?"

A girl of no more than five was the one asking this. Nana moved to do as she asked.

"Of course, I've got it right..."

Nana grabbed the ball and looked at the girl. Her hair was dark, she was no older than she seemed, and she had no horns.

"Onee-San? My ball?"

"Sorry. Here."

Mayu returned, and saw Nana staring at the girl. She joined in this stare. For the little girl looked like nothing more than a non-Diclonius version of Nana herself.

"Is my daughter bothering you?"

Nana looked at the woman saying this, though it took all her courage to turn her head to do so.

"Not at all. I was just struck by what a beautiful little girl she is. Sorry-I've been ill for a while, and haven't seen much of the world outside my room."

The woman's face turned sad at these words, and the little girl spoke up.

"Mama is sad because I once had my own Onee-Sama, but she died when she was born, because she was sick. Mama, will you bounce the ball with me?"

Mayu saw very clearly what was going on, and volunteered.

"My name is Mayu. How about I do it? You look tired, and I know Nana is too."

"That's very kind of you. I am tired. Hana, behave for Mayu, okay?"

Hana looked at Nana.

"Doesn't Nana Onee-San like me? I'd like her to play with me."

Nana formed a smile, and patted the girl on the head.

"Of course I like Hana-Chan. But I need to rest right now, okay?"

The girl seemed to perk up at her approval.

"Okay! But why does Onee-San's hand feel funny?"

Nana gulped.

"Please don't be scared."

With that, Nana detached her right arm and just as quickly, put it back on. The girl oohed, while her mother was merely surprised.

"It happened because I was sick. These let me move and walk around on my own."

Hana smiled even more broadly.

"Magic arms and legs? Mama, can I get sick?"

"Baka, you're sick often enough to make Mama crazy in the head as it is. Now play with Mayu-Chan."

Mayu left to play in front of them. The woman looked at Nana.

"My name is Arika. I'm sorry for your illness."

Nana tried to keep her face free of anything but a smile. It was very hard.

"Thank You, Arika-San. I'm sorry for Hana's older sister."

Arika closed her eyes.

"She may not be dead. I've never told Hana the truth."

Nana turned her thoughts to the day Lucy ripped her to pieces. The pain of that time kept her from showing the awkwardness of this meeting- a meeting she had lately come to realize was very possible, and had in fact now occurred.

"Arika-San, I am a stranger. I don't wish to intrude on your privacy."

"No-I like to tell this. It helps me to rid myself of my guilt. If I let my guilt build-I'm afraid I might take it out on Hana."

Nana found that she would do anything to protect the little girl.

"My apologies. Tell me your story."

Arika gave a grateful look, and for just a moment, seemed to be staring at Nana.

"You are a beautiful young woman-I'm sorry, I just had to say it. Anyway, my first daughter was born with-a slight deformity. A man showed up at the hospital, and told us that she would one day try to kill us because of it. He took her away. My husband was told he carried an infection that had caused her deformity. He wandered the city in a daze, till we learned he died of a sudden heart attack. A lot of people died that way for a while."

Nana's heart broke and she felt pure rage. *Lucy-how many times did your actions destroy my life? My limbs-my real Papa-you even caused me to born like you, so Hana and I never knew each other. Was whatever pain drove you so blinding you couldn't see such things?*

"So he isn't Hana's father?"

"My husband's brother was very kind to me as I grieved. Eventually, we married and Hana came to us. That same man-I think his name was Kurama-came again, but not to take her. He just wanted a few pints of my blood. He said it was for study-but-"

Nana fought to keep herself together on more than one front.

"But-what?"

Arika smiled.

"He was very nervous about the whole thing-and you don't need whole pints in order to do blood-work."

She looked at Nana.

"You might need them, though, to keep someone alive. That's why I think my daughter may still be out there-and even if she never forgives what I did, maybe I can still apologize."

Nana heard welcome words, but felt constrained from saying some very simple things to this dear woman.

"You know, they say there are some girls out there who kill their families. Maybe-maybe if your daughter is still alive, she was kept from becoming like that, and maybe she even later on got a new life, and new friends."

A single tear came from Nana's eye.

"Maybe then, you wouldn't even have to apologize."

Arika stared hard at Nana, and then touched her cheek. An embrace followed, light but welcome.

"Thank you-for those kind words. I-"

"Mama!"

Hana ran up and jumped into her mother's arms.

"Mama, I had a good time playing with Mayu Onee-Chan! Did Mama have a good time talking with Nana Onee-Chan?"

Arika held her child close.

"I did. And I want you and her to be special friends, okay?"

"I'd love that, Mama. Nana Onee-Chan is so pretty! Can I have hair like hers?"

A tender but firm 'No' was followed by an exchange of addresses. Over the years, not all would be sweetness and light, but nor would it truly be bitter. Nana watched Mother and child move away, like the fading of a dream.

"Lucky girl."

"Hana is lucky, Mayu-Chan. Maybe when we come here tomorrow, we can bring Wanta."

"We sure will-but she isn't who I meant by lucky. Do you know what I'd give for the moment you just had?"

Nana looked at the girl who was also her sister.

"No. I don't know. Nana has told Mayu of her life, even the bad times. Mayu hasn't told me anything."

Mayu closed her eyes and nodded.

"Maybe it's time I did. Just let me tell it when I'm ready."

Nana mock-punched her in the arm.

"Mayu-Chan always procrastinates."

Mayu returned the hit.

"It's how I am. I didn't even trust Kouta till just before he was shot. I like to wait."

Nana smiled as they went home. Work awaited them, as well as important medical test results on Nozomi's injured throat. But a dream had come true. And if this one had, maybe she and Papa could still make babies together someday.

"Sometimes, when you wait-the most wonderful things can happen."