There was a sharp ache in Maya's heart, a sting that refused to go away, even as she stood there, the waves lapping at her feet, watching Kazuki land Mark Sein in Tatsumiya's waters. Kazuki was there, staring at the sky which was still impossibly blue and went on and on, unending. Maya couldn't see Soushi anywhere, and that made her heart hurt even more. If he was gone, Kazuki wouldn't be whole, much like how she wouldn't (couldn't) be whole without Kazuki.

She waited until he turned her way, and when she extended her hand, he took it, and he walked with her towards the shore. They said nothing -- there was too much to be said and there were too little words. He was crying, then, and so was she, but they managed to get to back to where everyone was waiting and back home, back home.

Tatsumiya was different after that, and Maya understood better than most that it was the people and the memories that made Tatsumiya what it was. Kazuki was different after that, quieter and more solitary and harder to understand, caught in his own memories and regrets, and nothing Maya did seemed to shake him of his melancholy.

One day, she caught him sitting at the pier, watching the sun rise. She had been riding her bicycle, heading towards the shrine, her thoughts full of Shouko and Mamoru and Kouyou and little Tsubaki, and how things had changed and how she missed all of them. She had stopped short at the sight of Kazuki, but he didn't move when he heard her approach. She found herself suddenly furious with him.


He had not turned to face her, but continued to watch the sea. "Kazuki-kun," she said, and she was faintly aware that she was speaking in those cold, emotionless tones that had put Soushi off-balance. "If you want to wait here, Kazuki-kun, feel free to. But if you want to talk, I'll be here, and so will Kondou-kun and Canon-san and your father and the others. There's no reason for you to continue to be alone."

Kazuki didn't look at her, and Maya gave up. She went home and curled up in her bed and wept, silently cursing Soushi even as she realised that she missed him too, probably even more than anyone else who were gone from her life. Yumiko had left her alone and said nothing about her skipping class, and Maya was glad of it.

She had dragged herself to class the next morning and arrived early, and found the classroom empty -- not even Canon was there yet. Looking outside, she saw a group of boys playing football, their shouts and cheers carrying clearly towards her. She wondered if Kazuki or Kenji would ever join them, if they -- if all of them, if any of them -- would ever feel like they belonged again. She could see the seagulls wheeling across the sky and she found herself missing being able to fly. She didn't notice the classroom door crack open and someone entering, and she turned, surprised, as Kazuki pulled a chair and sat beside her. "Good morning, Toomi," he said, smiling. His smile was brittle, but his eyes were clear.

She smiled back and turned to look out of the window again, her own eyes smarting. How blue the sky was. How peaceful the world seemed now.

Maybe now their lives were theirs once again.