Hey, hope you're all enjoying the story! The readers have chosen for me to write both endings. Here's the last one, I hope you all like it!
Note: the beginning is the same as the first ending's because at the end of Nana's visit is when she must choose to stay or go.
Disclaimer: All of the characters and original story belong to Ai Yazawa-sensei.
Inbox (5): And I Choose… (Ending 2)
Ren sat alone backstage with his fingers interlocked, holding him up by his forehead. The speaker was hard and cold like the reality of life under him.
"There's no paradise without you…" he whispered, admitting it to himself. He got up and stole a peak from behind the heavy, red velvet curtain.
He saw Nana sleeping on her side facing the door. She looked so peaceful as he moved to sit beside her on the lonely side of the bed. Her eyes were closed and the sound of her soft snoring tugged at his heart. Ren lay down beside her, bringing his knees up a bit and brushed her hair behind her ear so that he could see just a little more of her porcelain skin. He kissed the back of her neck and allowed himself to drift into a heavy slumber.
Nana could hear everything. There was a strange beeping noise coming from all around her. She could hear the voices calling her, pulling her close to them.
"Who's there?" she called into the shadows. "Where did everything go? Where's Ren?" she pleaded, suddenly feeling very alone. "Ren?" her voice echoed and as one echo faded she shouted again.
A hand appeared from the darkness in front of her. "It's time to make a decision," the hand's owner told her. She stared at it, afraid of what to do.
"I can't, I don't know yet," she muttered. "I-I just need more time." She put her hands on her head and her body shook with frustration.
"No, you've been here too long."
"Too long? How do you expect me to decide something like this when I don't even know how I got here! This isn't fair!" she shouted at it.
"Are you still holding on?" the voice asked, starting to sound more familiar. The scent of black cherries filled the air around her. She could make out a faint outline of a man now.
"What do you mean?" she asked, suddenly aware that wherever she was, it wasn't good.
The man shifted his weight, running a hand over his bald head and removing his sunglasses. He took an invisible seat beside her, resting on the air. "First Ren and now you, too," he tilted his head back, blinking rapidly. "I have a feeling this isn't going to end well." He shifted again, this time his head was down, his hands covered his face.
She reached up to move them so that she could examine his features, "Please, Yasu…" she whispered to him. Another familiar figure walked in, this time a short, skinny guy came in. His hair was spiked, she could make out that much. "Nobu."
"Any change?" Nobu asked quietly, the sadness in his voice made her heart ache. Yasu lifted himself from his chair and put a hand on Nobu's shoulder as he walked passed, clearing his face before disappearing.
Nobu stood above her, staring down with a look of anguish that made her want to reach out and grab hold of him. "Stop, don't look at me like that!" she begged. She suddenly realized there was something soft under her. She couldn't move, no matter how hard she tried.
Nobu put his head against the wall, his right arm, raised above his head, was against the wall. His other hand was balled into a fist. "I can't believe this is happening!" he groaned. "How can you just leave us like this?" Both hands shook as he moved from the wall to face her. His hands were leaned against the soft thing beneath her, his head was down, and drops of salty sweet water fell from his face, "There's no way we'll recover from this…" he admitted quietly, "There's no way I'll recover from this. If you leave, I'll never play guitar with someone else again." He was quiet for a moment. "I only want to play if you're singing."
Nana felt like someone had just dropped a huge weight on her chest and she couldn't breathe. She wanted to reach up and tell him it was all okay, but she couldn't. She heard a sound, like someone knocking on the door. Nobu's head snapped up, looking to the left. Nana could make out Shin peeking in, but then turning away with a solemn look. Nobu got up to let him have his turn beside her.
As Shin approached her he seemed like he was ashamed or something. His eyes darted away as he stood in front of her. He looked like a puppy, lost for words. Without a word, he walked back out of the room.
There was nothing but that beeping sound as she stayed put, trying to figure out what was going on. Her head felt fuzzy and nothing was all that clear. "Yasu… Nobu… Shin…" With a sudden jolt she saw what was going on. With a little more focus she realized she was in a bed and that beeping sound was a monitor connected to her heart. "What the hell?" she yelled, shaking her head. "No, no! This can't be happening!" She tried to thrash around, but nothing would move. A door was there in front of her and it opened softly.
Very carefully, Hachi shut the door behind her and took the vacant seat. Her eyes were red, like she'd been crying nonstop. "Hey, Nana," she began in her sweet voice. "Do you remember everything we've been through together?" She smiled, "From the day we've met until now I've always admired you for your strength." The smile faltered, "I could never be like you. You're so cool! You have an awesome voice and you've been through so much. Thank you for being my best friend." Hachi leaned over on the bed to put a hand on Nana's. "If you come back I'll make you a cake with strawberries and whipped cream and chocolate. It'll be just for you," Hachi's voice wavered, "You know, everyone's waiting for you."
Hachi burst into tears and Nana couldn't stop herself either. The tears rolled down her face and down her neck. A light appeared from behind the bed and she could move once again. "No, I'm not ready! I can't… Ren…" she cried in broken sounds.
Ren's arms felt warm and the familiar melding of their bodies gave her a comfort no one else had been able to. That heat… How can it be the last time I touched him he was icy like the blizzards in our hometown. It's almost like an Indian summer, burning hot in the middle of the snow. The feeling was surreal, even more than just how when she'd been with Hachi. She looked over Ren's shoulder and tried to make out her friends' shadows once more but it was no use and the attempt left her feeling empty and suddenly alone. She could feel the onset of a panic attack and her fists clenched as she drew in a sharp breath.
Just then, something warm and smooth hit her neck, turning colder with the passing seconds. The pain in her chest numbed as her arms fell limp at her side. This man, whom stood so proud with a bass in hand on stage in front of crowds of thousands shook. It wasn't the normal shaking that his hands did when he was in withdrawal, no, this was different. The waves pulsated from him and transferred through her. She too felt the wave of emotion and her arms flew back up, her hands gripping his neck as she too began to cry.
"Ren," he is name resonated through the empty air, garnering no response. She tried again, "Ren."
This time he lookd up, his face wet and red with embarrassment. Sorrow seemed to turn quickly into anger. He let her go.
"It isn't fair!" he declared, slamming his fists on the floor, the chains of his jacket clanging together. Nana backed up and waited for him to continue. "It's not like I wanted this to happen! I-" his voice broke, he leaned against some wall that she couldn't see. He turned his head to look at her.
Ren looks so weak. Worse than I've ever seen him. She bit her lip as she debated whether to get up and go to him. If I choose Ren then I will never see Hachi or the others again. I will never become a famous singer, which means… I'll have to give up all my dreams. The thought angered her. Ha, give up all my dreams for one guy? I must be crazy! The courage to tell Ren she was leaving came to her but one look back at him, now with his back at the wall, sitting with his knees near his chest, still shaking, still angry and sad, it hurt her. Nana never knew how painful it was to feel for someone else. After Grandma died and Nobu introduced me to Ren all we had was each other. How-how can I leave him now?
She could feel her pride screaming at her, telling her that it was stupid to give it up for him, just a guy. There were plenty more out there! Her train of thought was halted as Ren started talking again, in a softer voice than before, an almost defeated voice, "Nana," his gaze held hers, "I never wanted any of this to happen… I- I wanted to marry you and be with you. Not with anyone else. I was going to turn it all around!" Anger flashed through his eyes for a moment but disappeared as he got up and went to her. Nana stood up to face him.
The two of them stared at each other for what seemed like a long time. Ren kept talking, "Nana, I love you and I want to be with you. If you stay I promise I will make you happy. Happier than we've ever been on earth." He was so genuine and determined to live up to what he just said, she could feel that. In truth, she knew he would fulfill his promise.
Nana stroked Ren's cheek and closed her eyes, imagining a world without Ren. After a few moments she told him, "I've got pride. I never needed anyone and I did just fine on my own. After you left I moved on," she hesitated, "Or at least… I thought I did. I… became too dependent on you to fill the emptiness. I lost my independence when I was with you!" She paused for Ren to start screaming at her but he didn't, instead he waited for her to say more. Admitting all of this was hard and she felt the pain of sharing such deep feelings swelled inside of her, making it hard to breathe again but she went on, sounding a little hysterical, "But what the hell is pride when you have nothing but pain? You suck!" she jabbed a finger in his chest as she repeated 'you suck' over and over again.
Ren took her hand in his and gave her a hard look, then he kissed her. The room slowly began to return around them as she and Ren lay on the floor. He glanced up for a moment and whispered with a serene smile, "I guess you've made your choice." His body, on top of hers made their make-out session even more intense because she feared he would crush her and she would never be free. His breath on her neck, his bare chest against hers, she wanted him and gave into him.
As she lay on the floor next to Ren, who'd fallen asleep, like he so often did she knew she'd made the right choice.
Hey, Hachi she thought, lighting a cigarette.
I always thought that my guitar and cigarettes were all I needed. I thought my pride would take me everywhere I wanted to go. But pride be damned in a world of pain. Yeah, I feel like an idiot, giving everything in my life up for one guy. But, Ren, yeah, he's the real and only guy and he has always been all I need:
Well, that's it for "Calling to Paradise" I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for waiting so long for the second ending! Read and review!
-Hatori's Snowdrop Princess