The girls were hanging out in the Hiiragi residence.

"Finally, out of school!" said Konata.

"Don't forget, there's college next," said Kagami.

"Yeah, yeah, let's just enjoy the moment, shall we?"

"I can make some snacks for us," said Tsukasa.

"That would be great!"

"Can I help?" asked Kagami.

"That... not so much."

Kagami was about to respond to that remark when Konata's phone rang.

"Excuse me," said Konata, as she answered her phone. "Hello? Yes? Really?" She suddenly had a surprised look on her face. "Really? What? Yeah, I'd like to be there!" She hung up.

"What's going on?" asked Kagami.

"My cousin Yui will be picking me up in a short while to take me to the local police station. I can hardly believe it, but..."

"What is it?"

"It's Mom. She's there at the station!"

"Hold on," said Kagami, "You told us she was dead!"

"The thing is, no one actually said that to me. Dad once told me how, when I was a baby, some men broke into our house and took Mom with them. There were four of them, and she wasn't strong enough to get away from them. When Dad tried to fight them, he got gutpunched for his troubles and was left lying on the floor."

Kagami could hardly believe it.

"The last thing he saw of her," continued Konata, "was her in their car, still trying to escape even as they drove off with her." She sighed. "He told me all of this, but it seemed too ridiculous for me to believe. So I just assumed she was dead, and that he was in denial. I guess I owe him an apology."

Just then, they heard someone coming into the house.

"I guess that's her," said Konata. "I'll be going now. When Tsukasa gets back, tell her to save some of the snacks for me."

"Tell me how it turns out," said Kagami.

Konata got into the car with Yui, and they headed over to the station. Even if she'd believed her father's story, she never expected to see her mother again. While she was mostly happy, she couldn't help feeling a bit of regret at all those years they'd missed out on spending together.

Finally, they were there. Yui took Konata into the station, through the hall and into one of the rooms. There, she saw her father sitting in one of the chairs. Next to him was...

"Mom?" said Konata.

"Konata?" said Kanata. "It's really you! I'm so glad to see you." After all these years, she looked more or less like she did in Konata's picture of her.

"Oh, Mom, I'm so sorry!" said Konata. She rushed over and hugged her mother, tears flowing from her eyes. "I'd given you up for dead! Dad told me what had happened, and I didn't believe him! I guess it was just easier to believe you'd died, rather that live with the uncertainty..."

"It's okay," said Kanata. "I know, and your father knows, that you didn't mean to hurt him. You have nothing to be sorry for."

Kanata spent the next half hour catching up with her husband and daughter about their lives. She was so glad to be back with them that she even overlooked certain parts of their story.

"Mom..." Konata started. She seemed hesitant to ask.

"You want to ask about those men?" said Kanata. "I assure you, refusing to let me go was about the worst thing they did to me during all that time. What kept me going was my belief that the two of you could carry on without me, and I'm happy to see I was right."

"Well, you and Dad no doubt want some alone time, so if you don't mind I'll be heading back over to Kagami's for a while."

"My, aren't we grown up?" said Kanata.

"Thanks for the thought," said Sojiro, "but we were thinking that we could spend this night together as a family."

"Sure, that sound great," said Konata.

The three of them got into their car and headed home. Sure, there was no recapturing lost time, but that didn't stop them from making memories with the time they did have.

THE END