Chapter 71 tag, so obviously there are spoilers... though not that many, as it's from Kazehaya's POV. Manga-based this time.


He knows he didn't want it to be like this. He didn't want this to happen now, he didn't want it to be some sort of apology, didn't want her to be crying. He didn't want this, and shouldn't want this, and should know better, and should have done things differently, and should stop now to explain. He shouldn't do this, not this way.

He's incapable of doing otherwise. Sawako's coat is soft under his fingers, her shoulders trembling, her own hands trapped between their bodies and slowly curling into his coat. She's closed her eyes again. The tears on her face glisten like the snow does all around them and the rest of the world has cut out completely.

He wanted to treasure her. He wanted something completely different. He wanted – he tried so very hard not to want this, not to do this, tried to control himself every moment, tried to be good enough for her. Sawako is somehow beyond such commonplace physical actions, and he shouldn't try to force her to do something she's not ready for yet. It – it's only been half a year, and that may be an eternity to Shouta, who wanted to kiss her for the first time on the day he met her, when she smiled so peacefully under the sakura and his heart lurched a little and he wondered just who this girl was, and he's only wanted her increasingly more since – but Sawako has had to try so hard just to make friends. The fact that she likes him back is far more than he should ever ask for. It should be enough for him. He's told himself this so many times.

But she thought he didn't like her anymore. Shouta never thought – he can't have been thinking at all. It never even occurred to him that Sawako would doubt his love for her. It's not the sort of thing that's possible to doubt. It's as true and unrelenting as the very air around him, though perhaps he needs a better simile as the air doesn't seem to exist anymore now that his lips are touching hers. Shouta can't comprehend not loving Sawako, lives every day incredibly thankful and yet perplexed as to why no one else seems to see her the same way he does – so he didn't realize what his efforts to restrain himself must have looked like. But of course, of course he was going about it all wrong, but this can't be right either, she's crying, it should have been more than this.

He should want it to be more than this, at the very least. He should feel at least the tiniest smidgen of guilt. But the cold has disappeared entirely, flushed away in a rush of tingling heat, somewhat like the head-rush one gets from standing up too quickly: Shouta is dizzy and dazed and can't want anything else. That single press of his lips to hers, that decision he didn't make, the action he had no choice but to take, their first kiss and the moment his heart stopped beating – it's driven everything from him, everything but Sawako.

He wants her. He tries to pull away, sucks in a breath – but oh god her eyes are so wide and he can do nothing else but shut his own, squeeze them tight and lean in again. It's so quick, but still far more than he can take; Shouta might be shaking except every part of him has frozen still, trying to savor this until the world dissolves around them… It's so much, too much, he has to pull back. But then their eyes meet again, and he can't breathe again, and the world fades again, and he's drawn in again even though he knows better, should know better, knows nothing but Sawako's lips and breath and love meeting his own again, and he can't help but fall into her again…

Four kisses. Forty seconds, fifty at the most. Mouths closed, hands clinging to her shoulders only. In the snow, in the middle of the street, tears on her face. This is nothing like what he wanted – he'd dreamed of so much more, so many more things, and tried so hard to hold himself back, to make all of it come so slow and count so much more than this.

He can't understand what he was thinking at all, let alone anything else. He's unable to bear this, unable to stop, unable to think or kiss her for any longer a time or any less, torn completely apart by Sawako as always.

And this is more than he could even have dreamed, the consequences and reasons and everything else just don't matter, not in the face of this. Perfection is the space of a less than a minute that outlasts his entire life up to this point, and Shouta knows of nothing but that he loves her, his Sawako, Sawako.

He knows he didn't want it to be like this. He can't bring himself to care.