Chapter 12:

Da Capo Al Fine

Next to Me

The duo went back to the condo in absolute silence, now that it was clear what the relationship was between them.

Nova flew up to find Professor Asagaya with his trenchcoat-wrapped body caught under a large chunk of the ceiling. Surprisingly, the fallen yoyo was in his grasp rather than one of his odd statues. (Now that she thought about it, they seemed to be...cyborg parts...?) It didn't seem safe to remove that debris, so Nova didn't touch it.

Meanwhile, Celesta's - or rather, aunt Catarina's - body was seemingly undamaged from what was visible, although it was covered in bits of plaster.

As the police made their way up from the nearest police box, Nova darted away once again to get away from that horror.

To get back to Satoshi.
The destroyed condo was ruled out as an accident by the police since the story didn't hold up by normal logic. The AI known as Celesta ran off into the wide expanses of the power system. By most accounts, that would have been a failure of a story to report.

However, that was not the end of the story.

The police were able to rescue the professor from the rubble, albeit with him having lost his hearing and becoming paraplegic.

Satoshi's mother made her presence known after being notified by her son. (Nova had never once met her, so it was fascinating to see a petite, chubby woman in a grey tracksuit chastise her boy.) She'd been undertaking DNA-AI synchronicity research with her sneakily-obtained samples of Nova's DNA in a Ridai lab when the vacuum robot's camera got crushed, and so she didn't know this had happened. Calling her "horridly distraught" after that was an understatement, because she believed herself to be the one to blame - she took care of her husband until she was no longer able to support her own self.

After completing the school year, Nova quit to perfect her flight. She would spend days observing birds to figure out her own style of flight and mid-air manoevuring, in order to not repeat what had happened that day. Satoshi conversely continued, eventually being accepted into an Australian university where he pursued a degree in aeronautics. Nova started up a blog to show off her exploits to her boyfriend, in turn inspiring Satoshi to take up hang-gliding to keep up with her.

Once Satoshi got out of university, he, his mother and Peter worked together on a lightweight capsule - one big enough to hold a person, but easy enough for Nova to fly with. Thus, Satoshi would handle signalling equipment while Nova did literal heavy lifting.

Nova's aunt Catarina was able to wake up from her technology-induced coma after a few days, mostly untouched - although she had trouble hearing at times and the place which had once held a cable port had to be removed by Satoshi's mother. Catarina was also left with strength that was able to push the boundaries of her physical abilities, at the cost of extreme exhaustion and a day's worth of amnesia, so she chose not to use it.

Nova was still capable of reproducing normally, so of course Satoshi took advantage of this - after an initial stable creation of the flight capsule, they went back to Japan and had two children, Tsubasa and Sora (the latter was named after Satoshi's mother), both extremely human like their father. Uncle Tony was more than happy to deal with them while Nova and Satoshi dealt with flight capsule issues.

Nova was not daring enough to question the nanobots that controlled her body, and so the secrets to their creation stayed hidden. No subsequent nanbots or cyborg parts were made.

In commemoration of Celesta, Nova asked her aunt to teach her the tune which had been playing during the AI's escape. Therefore, the two practised a piano version of Spring on many a late night. During these practices, both of them wondered whether Nova should have regretted the conversion or not.

Eventually they decided it was for the better.
---- Final Author's Note ----
Well, that's the end of Next to Me! Whew, that was an intensive almost-year (this story lasted 11 months from the writing of the first chapter to the writing of the last chapter).

As I've had to explain multiple times, this story was originally meant to be a "genre-filler", which is why it seems somewhat aimless in the middle but consolidates towards the end. What I haven't revealed yet is that this was meant to be an angel story, but became a cyborg story due to the fact I've failed to finish writing my big angel-centric epic twice.

Two chapter titles are musical terms, if you didn't pick up on that: crescendo means "to get louder gradually" (it can be used as a noun or a verb) while da capo al fine means "to go back to the beginning and play until signalled to stop (at the end, or fine)". The Coming of Spring was originally Crescendo pt I, but there's a subtle tonal disconnect between the two that caused me to change the title.

If it seems a shred odd at the end, the professor was originally going to be killed off by that large chunk of rubble. However, I realised I write horridly tragic stories and I've done a story similar to this before (under a different name of mine), so I altered it to save him. If anything else seems weird though, be sure to inform me.

Make sure to like and comment - your support always counts in an author's eyes!

James K.
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