Based on the manga: 'The Voices of a Distant Star'

Always

Noboru stared longingly at the night sky. He leaned back and tilted his head, getting the best view that he could. She was up there, somewhere amongst the brilliance of all those stars: Mikako. It had been a year since she had left, only fifteen years old then, part of a research team that would investigate the Tarsians, an alien race that humanity had recently come into contact with.

She would still be fifteen in body. The timelessness of space slowed aging down considerably. Noboru was a year older, with all the changes that implied. He was taller, his voice slightly deeper and his body more muscular, everything filling out. He looked like a man now. But he did not feel like one. Noboru was lost, lonely. He floundered, unsure of anything. No matter what he did at school or what he joined, no matter whom he spoke with, he always felt separate, like a part of him was up there with Mikako, floating around in the darkness of space.

The cell phone in his pocket was the only link left to the girl he loved. Noboru could say that in his head. "I love Mikako," but he could not say it aloud or to anyone else. He was only just coming to terms with those feelings now. The constant ache he felt, the need, terrifying and intense, for any contact with her at all, were the only confirmation he needed.

"Mikako," he whispered. "What do I do?"

The sensible part of Noboru said that he should move on with his life, see other girls, think about his future. That's what his friends thought he should do. None of them could believe that he even remembered Mikako anymore. They barely did. All those people sent into space, working for mankind's benefit, were forgotten now, their mission no longer newsworthy.

So why did Noboru not forget too?

He'd never even kissed her. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to hold her. He wanted to feel the weight of her hands on his shoulders as they rode his bicycle home. She was warm and bright and she was the only person he had ever felt really connected with.

How could he forget? How could he just move on? He would not. Noboru would find a way to see Mikako once more, even if he had to go into space to do it.

He checked his cell phone for messages, his heart fluttering as he flipped it open. They took so long to reach him now, from the far corners of space, beyond even our solar system. But he checked every day, eager and hopeful, despite that. The mail icon flashed cheerfully and Noboru smiled, a slow, pleased smile.

Hi Noboru,

I'm so far away from you now. We're heading to Sirius and soon my messages will take more than eight years to reach you. You'll be twenty five and I'll hardly have aged at all. That's so hard to comprehend and it makes me feel sad.

I was hoping that we wouldn't find anything and that we could come home. That's what I really want now. I want to see you, Noboru. I want to be with you. I want to come home. Noboru…

Mikako

She wants to see me. Mikako actually wants to come home and be with me. The young man was tempted to jump up and down like an excited child but he resisted. Instead he shoved the cell phone back into his pocket, its small weight comforting against his thigh, and headed back inside.

Once in his room, Noboru took out the information about the Tarsian missions; it seemed as though space was his destiny after all.