It hurts, it hurts...

Misuzu shuddered and struggled, the deep, unbearable pain too much for her tiny body. She attempted to claw at her back, wrapped arms around her waist and hands outstretched, but they didn't reach.

Yukito watched numbly, eyes teary and mouth agap. What was he supposed to do? He saw the feverish flush in her cheeks and the pain etched on her face. She let out a cry and shook violently.

"M-Misuzu, hey..." he stammered, his voice soft, "hey..." his voice faltered as he reached forward to stroke the long golden locks out of her face, but she seized and screamed. She slapped his hand away and cried.

"Y-Yukito! Yukitoooooooo...!" she exclaimed in agony, "Yukito, it hurts, it hurts!"
Yukito shrank back away from her, eyes wide as he saw Misuzu writhe, fingernails flaying and feet kicking.
"What do I do?" He demanded in angry desperation, "Tell me!"

Outside the air was quiet and calm, unlike Yukito's thoughts. After witnessing Misuzu's illness, he felt hopeless. She kept calling his name, screaming for him, but he couldn't even touch her!

Haruko slid the door open and sighed. Planting herself next to Yukito, she was quiet. There was a long silence between them. Finally, Yukito spoke:

"How is she?"

"...she's sleeping," replied Haruko tiredly. A sad smile appeared as she turned to the man. "I told you earlier today, this is her illness. This is what happens when she makes friends..."

Yukito felt a pang of guilt, eyes suddenly downcast. He shifted abruptly. Was she blaming him?

"She wants you to stay," said Haruko suddenly, somewhat annoyed, "she told me after you left, 'I want to go to the ocean with Yukito.'" Haruko paused and forced a tiny chuckle. "Really, that girl..." She stood up and exhaled loudly, hands on her hips. "I really hate to see her suffer. I don't know what to do," then, after a short pause, "I'm not a parent." she stood there a minute before she sighed again. "I need a drink." With that, she disappeared inside.

Yukito sat there for a long time, taking in the sounds of the late night. By now, insects began their songs and stars made their way across the sky. The male stared up at the twinkling lights and pursed his lips. If Misuzu was sick, maybe there was a way to cure her. Maybe he could find a way to ease her pain, but what could he do? Yukito gripped at his chest as all the weight of helplessness washed over him. Just what in the hell could he do?

Tired and numb with worry, Yukito made his way to the shed. His eyes were heavy with sleep as he sauntered toward his room, feeling as though his limbs would drag on the ground. It was then it happened.

Suddenly he found himself standing in front of his mother, her large eyes welcoming him. She was like he remembered, kneeling on the sand, in front of the ocean. He heard the waves crashing in the sunset beside them, and the smell of moist salt hung in the air.

"Yukito," she spoke tenderly, "you must save her..." she held out her hand. On it stood the worn doll. Its smile mocked him, its beady eyes teasing him.
"I don't know how to save her," he replied sadly.
"Don't you remember Yukito? On that day I told you..."

All the sound around him faded. Nothing but muteness. Everything was silent. Yukito looked around him skeptically. "What is this?" He saw his mother and saw her lips were moving; it was obvious she was telling him the most important thing, but he couldn't hear. "I don't understand! What do I remember?" The scenary disappeared.
Yukito opened his eyes slowly, sound entering his ears. His senses took in the night of Misuzu's home. He felt the grass beneath him as he lifted himself up. His head was killing him.

What was that? He blinked a minute. Had he fainted? Standing up, Yukito saw the lights on in the house.

Misuzu was breathing peacefully now. Her hair scattered across her pillow like a thick and soft blanket. Yukito entered quietly and slid the door shut behind him. It was dark in her room. All he could hear was her. Haruko was asleep at the table in the next room, a bottle in her hand. He moved stealthily.

The young man sat down beside the bed and stared at the blonde-haired girl. Her eyebrows furrowed and she stirred, as if his very presence caused her pain. Yukito inhaled deeply. He sat there for a long time, trying to remember what his mother had said.

"She wanted to go to the ocean, but I couldn't take her,"

Misuzu moved again.

Yukito took out his doll and set it on the bed. With concentration he made it walk and saw Misuzu smile as it grazed her cheek. It kissed her lips. The man smiled in spite of himself.

"...it has all the ungranted wishes of our ancestors."

"Misuzu," Yukito breathed shallowly; he watched her flinch and cringe. The doll fell limply. He moved closer to the bed, knelt to her eye level, and set his arms on the bed. He studied her profile a minute.

"I..." he swallowed. There was a lump in his throat as he forced himself to continue, "Misuzu, I...want to take you to the beach. I want to see you laugh." He tried to smile and felt his composure slip. After another moment he started again, this time with a tremble in his voice, "you can splash me with water and drink all the peach juice you want. I-I don't have money, but if you wait a bit, I'll treat you all you want."

His head fell heavily against the mattress. He didn't notice, but Misuzu opened her eyes. He continued talking into the bed, his words muffled against the barrier of his arms and the mattress. Misuzu just listened.

"I'm happy when I'm with you. This summer holds some of the happiest memories I have...and...I want to make more with you..." Misuzu's eyes widened with shock and a deep, heart-throbbing blush painted her face. Yukito raised his head and met Misuzu's expression with equal surprise.

"Y-Yukito," Misuzu's voice was tender.

"...Misuzu...I want you to get well!" he spoke with earnest now, "I want you to experience many more summers! I want to stay by your side! So please..." At the end, his words quietly faded; his hand clutched hers. It was so small and pale. Her slender fingers wrapped around his.

"Yukito, I want to stay by your side too..." she responded weakly, "I want to see you every day. You're my most precious friend." With her free hand she made a feeble 'V'.

"Misuzu," Yukito moved closer, raising his body on the bed. He propped one knee on the matress, and his right hand on the other side of her petite form. His eyes gazed down intently at her, his teeth clenched in ruthless determination. Misuzu's heart raced. She was too astonished to move. She just fixed her gaze on him. "Misuzu...I...love you." Misuzu's mouth opened and closed. Then, she smiled. Yukito sighed in relief.

He bent down, hesitant, slow, closer.

He could see her lips, feel her breath. He felt his own heart pound.

Closer, inches now...she closed her eyes in anticipation. Yukito could almost feel her skin. The static between them made his breath stop. He closed his eyes in ready.

It was in that moment she let out an ear-piercing shriek.


A/N: Been awhile since I wrote. Years, in fact. Been awhile since I saw AIR too. I did research, re-watched parts of episodes. Changed things. I couldn't bear to watch it all over again, it made me cry too much, and even thinking about it again made me so depressed.

I started this because I recently bought the series on DVD.
Hopefully I stayed in character and made it believable.
Comments and reviews welcome. Should I continue?