Note: I was inspired to write this based on a piece of fan art titled Helpless by DeviantArt member Probablee. Unfortunately I can't add a link here, but I encourage everyone to go look at it; it's such a powerful piece. Just in case you're being lazy and not looking, it's of Nei's last moments of life, only she's not being held by Rolf, she's being held by Kain. It's a wonderful take on a small bit of information from Phantasy Star: Official Production Compendium, which mentions in Kain's bio that he's secretly in love with Nei. In this story I expand a bit on that and suggest that they had mutual feelings for each other.
I wrote this as I was listening to the song "You Don't Know Me" by the German group Apparat. I think the song expresses the emotions of this scene perfectly, and it obviously inspired the title of my story as well.
Fate had never been very fair to Kain. Anytime something good was introduced to him, it surely left him just when it had become comfortable and routine. He was going through this painful process again with Nei, but this time it was not something he could shrug off or chalk down as life experience. Nei was not merely a lesson to be learned; she was real and flesh, full of love and wonder.
The greater moral, of the consequences of playing around with Mother Nature, was lost on Kain, not because he didn't understand that moral, but because Nei meant much more than that to him. It didn't matter to him how tragic Nei's existence was to begin with, because there was still no point to her death now. Feeling Nei's life leave her body as Kain embraced her for what would be the last time was beyond any of the tragedies he had experienced so far in his short 21 years of life.
Rolf and the others had already vowed their revenge on Neifirst; that battle was raging on as Kain held Nei. He saw the intense, indescribable anger on Rolf's face and felt it every time Rolf savagely swung his laser sword at Nei's counterpart. Kain was angry, too, but it was impossible for him to get up and fight. He really wanted Nei, not revenge. If he got up, he would have to accept that the object of his deepest affections was dead. As long as she was still in his arms, she was still a part of him.
What was that saying again? That it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? What a bunch of shit, Kain thought. Why was it better that he loved Nei and she reciprocated that love only to have it taken away from him? Worse, why did she have to die in the process? It would have been much easier if he had never met her.
Or would it? Kain couldn't imagine now not knowing Nei. Had anyone stirred within him the kind of passion for life and the future the way Nei did, Kain was unaware. He would miss the way she felt against him; he tried to burn it into his memory without adding the sense of hopelessness that went along with her death. He wasn't sure if he could accomplish such a mental task, but he tried, anyway.
Kain never cared if the rest of the group knew how he felt about Nei; she wasn't exactly stealthy with her feelings towards him, anyway. It was her openness that Kain loved most; she was so genuine. She could have easily withdrawn from the world, the way it had treated her so viciously in her short life, but instead she embraced it fully, just like the way she loved Kain. There were no stipulations or pretense to her love; Kain knew that it was exactly the way she presented it to be: true and loyal.
She wasn't breathing anymore; Kain felt his own breaths become more labored. Each one was harder and harder to take, as if he was dying along with Nei. He pulled her closer against him. His tears fell into her violet locks and his cries of despair were muffled into the top of her head. He couldn't let her go now; he had to keep her warm. She deserved so much more than what he could have ever given her, but at the very least right now she could stay warm in his arms.
It was too late for "could haves," but Kain angrily cursed himself for never learning any healing techniques. He was sure the doctor was busy cursing herself, too, for not yet learning the complicated reversal technique, but the difference was that the doctor always strove to better herself. Well, it was high time for Kain to act the same way. He never cared before whether his recklessness led to his own injuries or even death, but that would change now. Never again would he allow a loved one to meet the same fate as Nei or even get close to it. He would be prepared, he thought. He would learn new techniques and carry proper medicines and potions. He would train hard, as hard as he could. No longer would he miss his target. Every squeeze of the trigger would come swiftly and with deadly accuracy. If Nei had become his reason for living, then her death would become his reason for fighting.
Climatrol began to shake. Kain looked up for the first time in minutes to see his teammates desperately looking for the controls to the vast facility, but he already knew that they would never be able to get Climatrol online on their own. There was a reason Climatrol had become automated, and that was because the level of expertise it took to run the facility had become so complex that it was no longer taught in engineering school. How Neifirst had been able to control it by herself for two years baffled Kain. He was sure there was more to the story than a rogue bioengineered creature commandeering this facility simply because she hated humans. Something much bigger was behind this.
Kain stood up, still cradling Nei. He would never let her go; someone would have to pry her from him for that to happen. As he looked around, he observed Neifirst face down in her purple blood. He had missed the battle completely, but there was no solace in killing her, anyway. He couldn't hold Neifirst responsible for everything, for as Nei had told him, the two were intrinsically linked.
He wondered who had noticed he had not participated in fighting against Neifirst and if it meant he would no longer be welcome among the group. He supposed he should feel selfish for staying by a lifeless Nei, but damn it, she meant everything to him. How could he put her down? The sight of her on the cold, grated floor of Climatrol would have been too much for him, and he would never have allowed her to be in such a pitiful state.
If anyone had noticed Kain's lack of participation, they made no hints at caring about it. In fact, Rolf had just motioned for everyone to gather around him so he could use hinas to quickly take the party to safety, and his motion included Kain. No one gave Kain a strange look as he joined the rest of the group in their huddle around Rolf, not even as he was going through about a dozen different and very intense emotions while holding onto Nei. Some of his teammates actually put a hand on him or on Nei; for the first time he realized that it didn't matter to them if he had grown to love Nei. They were all experiencing her death now, too, and Kain suddenly felt closer to the group than he ever had before.
He held her as tight as he could, as if she would disappear from him during Rolf's teleportation technique. Kain spoke to no one and looked at no one as the group now found themselves within the safety of the jet scooter, just outside Climatrol. Instead, he focused on his beautiful Nei, inert and growing cold by the minute in his lap. He drowned himself in memories of Nei as he gently stroked her hair. He couldn't hear his teammates trying everything they could to draw his attention, for he was the one who usually piloted the jet scooter. The hunter finally took over the controls of the vessel, and the group hastily skimmed over the water towards the nearest dock.
Rolf once more teleported the group to Paseo after reaching dry land, and then instantly suggested a trip to the clone labs. A few of the group members looked away, including the doctor and the biologist, knowing full-well that the clone labs wouldn't have Nei's DNA on file and it would be impossible to resurrect their friend. Kain was among the skeptics, but it only took one look at Rolf to understand his level of desperation to revive his best friend and adopted sister. Kain nodded at Rolf and reached deep down inside himself, pulling out every last ounce of optimism he had and agreed with Rolf that the labs were a must. If for no other reason, it would allow him to cling to his beloved for that much longer, and Kain would take any amount of hope he could right now.
His hold on Nei, however, was being challenged. As he was about to race with abandon towards the labs, something tugged at Nei. Kain turned his eyes to the person closest to him, Rolf. The two men locked into a staring contest. Kain wanted Rolf to read his thoughts. Rolf wouldn't understand how Kain truly felt about Nei; he didn't know her like Kain did. Kain eyeballed Rolf defensively, gripping Nei tighter to him. You don't know me, Kain thought. You don't know what she means to me.
The look in Rolf's eyes said the same thing, though, only on slightly different terms. Kain realized that though Nei belonged to neither of them, Rolf was her family. Kain's scowl soon faded, and with a heavy sigh he handed Nei to Rolf. The immediate feeling of emptiness and cool air where Nei had just been hit the wrecker like a ton of bricks. He looked down at his blood-stained clothes, having not been aware before just how badly Neifirst had ripped into Nei. Kain fell to his knees and wailed in sheer agony.
Rolf hadn't waited for the others to follow him to the clone labs; he left them in a cloud of his dust as he disappeared among the city's buildings. Kain heard his team members mumble things to each other, but he didn't bother to understand exactly what they were saying or try to pick up the conversation. Instead he kept his face in his hands and uttered curses at the Great Light, Mother Brain and himself.
Eventually Kain felt the gentle arms of the doctor wrap around his shoulders. He looked up from his crying and saw the tear-stained but tender look on her face. Another moment later he felt a hand rubbing his back. It was the guardian, who was usually a severe and militaristic woman, now offering her comfort as well. The two women had stayed by him as the others darted off to track down Rolf. Kain's friends helped him to his feet and the three locked in a long and warm embrace. It felt good being the one who was held this time, Kain thought. He was glad to be among friends who found no shame in his crying, because he'd had enough of feeling so helpless.