looking forward

It was the morning of their graduation. Their graduation. The graduation that they would take part in together.

Of course, Mirai thought to herself, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here.

She stood outside of the Student Council building; it was too early for anybody to be here - too early really, but Mirai suspected that there was one person here. Because Yoshikuni had been the same, all those years ago. Because the Student Council took themselves far too seriously, and it was too early but Makoto would be here, she knew that more than anything. Perhaps one of the others. Ichii, perhaps. One of those others, maybe. After her experience, Mirai hadn't bothered to learn names. That was Makoto's business. That was just what he did.

Standing there as the sky shook off what remained of the night previous, Mirai knew that the her of four years ago would have been overjoyed to think that she might have been able to graduate at the same time as her beloved Makoto-kun. Nevermind the circumstances, just that thought...! Of course, nobody was ever held back from school for a good reason. She was academically sound and it was down on record as being in no way her own fault, but she knew it was. She knew it was. She'd orchestrated this. She'd decided, way back then, that it was worth anything to try to get closer to him, to try to understand him better, to cross the distance that seemed to grow between them the moment Makoto stepped foot onto the Student Council. Had it been worth it? She wondered.

She turned her back on the Student Council building. If Makoto was there or if he wasn't, it was no business of hers anymore. She made her way towards the track area.

Of course, she knew that had she done nothing, she would always have been left wondering. Now, there was no question. (Perhaps a little mystery was a good thing. Such a thing, however, could only be said in hindsight.)

They would graduate. The school would mourn the loss of a stunning Student Council leader, the girls would mourn this incarnation of KISS, the cycle would progress as ever it did. In her case, she had passed her exams and had got accepted to the university she'd most wanted to graduate into. (Sakura would be waiting for her there.) By all accounts, this day was supposed to be one of celebration. Sadness and nostalgia for those days past, but holding their heads up to look forward to the days to come. ...Something like that.

And Makoto would make whatever speech he'd prepared. He'd welcome the incoming first-year students selected to be part of that unforgivable process. They would blush and smile and say what an honour, not realising what it really was. Would it be the same for them? Mirai wondered. Makoto was graduating, after all. Of course, a lot of people had thought it would end when Yoshikuni graduated, back when that was. It might have done, were it not for Makoto. Would there be somebody else to follow in that line? Perhaps. Mirai hugged herself tightly. It's nothing to do with me anymore.

It was never anything to do with me.

Makoto would make his speech and the students would look to him as they had over these years, leader of the Student Council and idol of the student body. Of course. Of course. That was the life of the leader of the Student Council, wasn't it? All of those innocent girls of the school, allowed to perpetuate their dreams as far as the Student Council encouraged.

They encouraged a lot more than that, too.

The school would mourn losing a bright young pupil and the student body would miss its idol, though there would always be more to take the place of those lost. They would look to him and see his smile and never know, Mirai knew, precisely what Aihara Makoto was really like.

Few people ever would. (Exactly how Makoto wished it.)

Mirai would sit in the audience and watch him and know. She would know, and feel jealous of those around her who were blissfully ignorant. Feel jealous of those who could have a carefree graduation. She would look forward to leaving Seirei, but didn't know if she would ever be able to look back on her time nostalgically. Most of those she'd known had graduated the year beforehand, not that she'd had the will to care. Back then, everything had been Makoto.

Now, everything was still Makoto. Everything had always been Makoto, but now so different to then.

He was cruel.

She knew this now. More than anything, Makoto was cruel. She never would have believed it four years ago, but believed it more than anything now.

Sakura had sent a text message a few days previous, do you want me to be there?... Mirai had wholeheartedly considered it, but in the end decided against it. It would be too much for Sakura to come down from her university just for something like this, and then she'd miss lectures and have to catch up and it would cost money and no, you don't have to. It's fine.

It's fine. I'm fine.

She'd coped with the last two years, which made a day like this a breeze in comparison. Indeed, didn't this mark the official date of it ending? It all ending? All of it?

Mirai stood by the track, rocking on her heels. She stretched out her arms in front of her and then raised them to the sky, like in all those lessons over the years. There was nobody to hear, but she spoke nonetheless.

"... It's over."

Except, it wasn't.

She knew it wasn't.

She knew it could never be over, not while she remembered. And it had been awful and it had been horrible

and

parts of it had been exhilarating and exciting and terrible and wonderful and

as long as she remembered

it would never be over

Every time her thoughts came to rest, she would think of the boy that she'd loved and what he'd turned into.

For those moments, she would feel a profound sadness.

She would then try to think of something else.

(Always moving on.)