Rinne, age 15.
The day Nana’s parents died.
Although she reassured Touka in a half-joking tone that the situation had been resolved, but Nana disappeared later that day.
She was long gone before Touka could even get in touch.
I was so shaken.
That last until Ron, who had heard what had happened, did everything in her power to find her a few days later, by spreading surveillance net within two neighboring prefectures.
Of course, there was no way she could have slipped out of these prefectures by avoiding Takajou’s surveillance nets.
But I was worried. How could I not?
Because I knew.
The importance of Nana’s parent’s existence to her.
Her parents and myself. There were only three things that mattered to Nana. I could even say that those were her reason for living.
Now two of them were gone. Nana’s emotional support, which had always been fragile and unstable, collapsed. And she had let it happens in front of her own eyes.
I was shocked by what Touka had told me. Because I had never seen Nana cry. I had seen her teary-eyed in pain from her injuries, but she had never shed a tear.
Even when she had saved my life from the raging dog, Nana had been smiling.
Is it because the ice in her heart is broken?
Her frozen heart that had been thawing little by little since we first met… had it shattered before it could fully melt?
When I heard that Nana had been found, I rushed to Ron’s private laboratory.
One thing I know, I must be the one to support her.
Nana was isolated in an extremely sturdy room.
They probably wanted to ensure that she would not disappear again at a moment’s notice.
And above all, to keep an eye on her to make sure she did not commit suicide.
I called out as soon as I arrived. Because the door is latticed with a window. I’m sure my voice had reached her.
Even though I knew I had no choice, I felt nauseous, as if I were holding a prisoner in my room.
What should I say to her?
How should I comfort her?
As I was thinking of all these things, a voice came back to me from inside.
I heard Nana’s voice. I heard her voice clearly.
“I can’t stay with Rin-chan any longer. I can’t stay with Rin-chan anymore.”
Tears were falling.
Nana was crying quietly and said in a shaking voice, [I can’t stay with you, Rin-chan].
“I can’t stay with you. My father and mother are gone. I can’t stand it if Rin-chan is gone too.”
Nana lost her parents before her eyes. In a terrible accident that didn’t even leave the body intact.
Nana’s heart was so broken that it is hard to imagine how much devastation she must have felt.
That much was a certainty.
It was a fact… still…
Blood was flowing from her tightly clenched hand.
And the iron-clad floor was gouged like tofu.
I couldn’t see Nana’s face through her back, but I could feel Nana’s seething anger.
A storm of emotions was so fierce that I could not help but break out in a cold sweat.
It was the first time I had ever seen Nana’s raw emotion.
The loss of a loved one.
Hatred of the person who killed her parents… or perhaps the world itself.
And anger at herself for not being able to protect them.
Sadness and burning rage.
Nana was desperately holding back these feelings that were so strong that it was enough to burst her heart.
Her stutter was not due to sadness.
It was the result of her desperate effort to control herself from going berserk.
We have known each other for a long time.
My bond with Nana is deeper than that of my family.
That’s why I understand.
I knew that she was now on edge, barely keeping her humanity.
I heard that she had been found wandering on the streets with empty eyes.
I heard that she had remained silent ever since she was trapped here.
And now, she woke up after hearing my voice, and the emotions she had been suppressing overflowed.
She is standing on a delicate equilibrium of desperation and insanity. Even I could be killed here if I make a wrong move.
It was impossible for Nana to hate me.
She can’t hate me. That’s why she is desperately holding it back.
This rejection must be her last stand. She herself knows that if she hurts me, then nothing will stop her anymore.
I can’t heal her by opening that door and embracing Nana. It would only widen her wounds and only bring out the worst result.
I looked at Nana and clenched my hand. She’s still trying her best to hold on.
I feel a bit relieved, ah, that’s right…
(I see. You tried your best to be strong.)
To not give up everything.
Without depending on me.
Nor choosing to end her life.
Instead, she’s facing her rage and trying to swallow it.
She is trying her best to work it out on her own.
I really want her to depend on me.
I want to comfort and pamper her as much as I can.
But I don’t want my self-righteousness to prevent Nana from doing what she is trying to do.
Because Nana is neither my protégé nor my slave.
We are an equal, a best friends.
I calmed my mind and said in an inevitably shaky voice.
“…………I understand… Nana. Let’s keep our distance… I’ll… come back.”
I don’t know how much pain it took for me to squeeze those words out of my mouth. At the very least, it was definitely the most pain I have ever felt in my life.
The heartbreak was so painful as if I was tearing half of my body.
“Rinne, are you sure about this? I know it contradictive, but Nana is so weak now that she could have died at any time. I can’t heal Nana… you are the only one who can.”
Sister Ron approached me as I was leaving, and I replied in the clearest voice I could muster.
“It’s okay. I want the same, but… Nana is trying to change. I don’t want to stop her, so it’s okay for now.”
Nana had grown up to be much stronger than I had expected.
Even if she is in tears of pain now, she will be able to recover on her own someday.
I don’t know how long it will take. A week? A month? Or even years.
Even so, my presence by her side right now will not heal her. I would only be a hindrance to her growth.
“That’s why I’m leaving it to you, Ron-nee. I have to be strong, too.”
“I understand… I will observe her for now, but that is because Rinne, who knows Nana best, has decided. I’m pretty good at counseling, and I’ll take care of her until she gets well enough to see you again… but for now… just… do something about that your face that is about to break down before you leave.”
“Do I look like that….?”
“Yeah, very much so. You’re ruining your beautiful face. Come on, if you want to cry, I’ll lend you my chest. Unfortunately, they’re flat and not very soft.”
Saying this, Ron’s sister pulled me into a hug.
She stroke my hair gently and I could feel the strength leaving from my body.
“I’m… a foolish, I…”
“I guess so. But you’re not wrong.”
Hearing the words of my kind sister, I could not endure it.
That day, I cried.
I had cried before when Nana had beaten me in a game, but this was the first time in my life that I had cried so loudly like a child.
It was the first time I had to say goodbye to my best friend, someone who was supposed to be my forever, and the pain was inexplicably devastating.
I cried for a long time until I was so tired of it and fell asleep.
I have to read these 3 chapters at least 3 times, CAREFULLY. (Translating, Grammarly proofread, Beautification), wait I read this 4 times, since I read ahead too… dammit.
So forgive me if I shed a tear.