30. forget-me-not; memory; photograph

Transfer student, new kid, on some rare, notable occasions even foreigner- all his life Souji had never been able to escape the shadow of these things. Even 'home' was little more than 'somewhere else' with a fancy name to call it by.

Years of this had made him complacent, living day to day as the past faded into obscurity behind him.

Memories of old homes, old schools, old friends all in turn washed out into only the vaguest recollections, cast aside and forgotten. The people he'd met, the places he'd been, the things he'd done...

Souji watched the scenery fly by as the train took him from the latest collection of memories to be added to this list of yesterdays, and felt for the first time something that resembled loss. He'd never held on to much of anything in the nomadic life he'd lived thus far, knowing better than to carry the weight of those memories with him lest he get caught up in them and lose the ability to move forward.

Inaba- somehow Inaba was different.

He closed his eyes, blotting out the scenery before him and allowing himself to believe the train he was on could be headed anywhere. Forward, backward, standing still; Inaba was different, special, and the thought of leaving it and the people who inhabited it behind was painful in a way that very little else had ever been before it.

This time, he thought, resolve building by the second, with every added mile, this time...

This time would be different.

Inaba and its inhabitants, the friends and family he'd found so unexpectedly, the peace and comfort at the center of the very travesty that had pulled them together so closely- Inaba deserved that much from him. To be held near and dear to his heart, the memory kept safe and clear and vivid.

The small country town had become more of a home to him than anywhere he'd been in all his years before it; no small feat, all things considered. His friends - his family - the two were nearly interchangeable, the bonds he'd forged in those few short months were unlike any he'd ever tried or failed to salvage for all his best efforts anywhere else, and he had no intention of letting any of them go without a fight.

He smiled to himself, opening his eyes to retrieve the photograph they'd taken (something to remember us by, someone had said, and he'd nearly wanted to laugh outright at the absolute ridiculousness of the very thought that he might forget...) looking over it fondly.

The miles - the days - could pass as quickly or as many as they wished; for once Souji didn't watch them as they fell behind.

He'd spent a lifetime of goodbyes letting yesterdays slip by into obscurity, but starting from that moment, something changed. He held the memories of yesterday closer than he'd ever dreamed, pushing them toward tomorrow with all his will. Inaba was something different - something special: far from a place he'd come to only to leave, Inaba was a place he left only to dream of returning to.

However long it took, whatever came before or after, of that much he was certain.