In Which Kirino Graduates

this is built by my endless love for Ranmasa in every form imaginable. it's a collection of oneshots in different AUs. none of the oneshots are actually related to each other, just a heads-up.

also, the next chapter won't be out until February next year. since I have my exams and am going on a hiatus soon. and I, being impatient, want to post something before disappearing for a whole month. so, yeah. have a happy new year!

Clapping and cheering, and Kirino bows towards the audience, smiles, and goes down from the podium, rolling his certificate. He sits back on his chair, which is at the front row, and turns back to exchange grins with Shindou. He scans over the crowd and finds the now-second-years-and-soon-to-be-third-years seated on the side. Tenma and Shinsuke seem like they're holding themselves back from jumping up in excitement, whilst Hikaru mouths a sheepish, "congratulations." But, Kirino realises, Kariya is nowhere in sight.

He mouths, "Kariya?"

Hikaru points at the door and gives a shrug.

Kirino scoots sideways to the nearest teacher, who is fortunately Otonashi-sensei, and excuses himself out of the ceremony. She hasn't given him any permission, but he slithers out anyway.

Once he exits the building, certificate still rolled in his hand, he struts along the way, watching out for both his surrounding, the petal storm of the cherry blossoms, and Kariya. There are still other people around, wandering aimlessly.

The first place he is checking out is the outside soccer field; the first thing he sees is Kariya playing around with a ball. He constantly dribbles it up and down the field, splashing mud onto his uniform.

"Kariya!" Kirino calls out, sliding down the slope.

Kariya wipes the sweats off his face with the back of his hand. "Kirino-senpai. Why are you here?"

"I didn't see you inside," Kirino replies, beckoning for him to pass the ball to him. "Have you been playing alone all this time?"

"Well," which is Kariya-speak for 'yes.'

Kirino chuckles. He kicks the ball towards the younger boy. "I'm leaving, you know," he says as Kariya kicks it back. "We won't be able to play as much."

"You'll still get to play with Shindou-senpai," Kariya points out, lightly pouting.

"That's because we're going to be attending the same high school," Kirino sighs, pushes himself down, and goes past Kariya, the ball zooming into the goal. "Maybe you should go there as well when you graduate, Kariya."

"Nah, that school is for smart people," Kariya waves him off, grabbing the ball from the goalmouth.

"Why not? If all of us could be reunited again in high school, wouldn't it be great?" Kirino raises an eyebrow, but bites his lower lip when Kariya kicks the ball with such strength at him. He stops it and presses the ball down on the grass.

"You say that, Kirino-senpai, but Sangoku-senpai and the others aren't even in that high school."

"In some ways, we will meet during a match."

Kariya snorts. "Can you seriously win against them, senpai?"

Kirino forces a smile, but ends up with a really big grin, because Kariya is still the pretentious kouhai Kirino knows him for. "Of course we will!"

"Well, maybe I really should try to go to that high school, after all." Kariya smirks at him, receiving his soft pass. "I will make the team stronger."

Kirino laughs, tapping on the ball with his heel and knees it upwards. "I will miss a cheeky brat like you."

Kariya is strangely silent as they pass the ball back and forth in the air. "Are you happy, senpai?" He asks after a moment.

Catching the ball with his hands, Kirino shrugs. "Happy? I don't know. I'm sad for leaving, but happy to finish middle school."

"You're the worst," Kariya says, throwing his head backwards, and the expression on his face is of pure pain.

The ball drops on the grass, bounces over and away. Kirino runs, grips Kariya's shoulders before the boy can react, and squeezes him in a hug.

They stay that way, with Kariya occasionally trying to get his hands off of him. But the boy eventually relents, and circles his arms around Kirino's torso, face pressed against the older boy's shoulder blade.

"I will miss you so much," Kirino whispers, and doesn't notice when his rolled-up certificate gets blown by the wind and stuck on the goal net.

"Shut up," Kariya sobs.

Kirino can't help but laugh. Snots on his uniform are not his concern right now, so he blows back a retort and caresses the back of Kariya's head. "I will visit sometimes. We should start texting each other, too. Didn't we exchange our numbers early in the year? Never got to use it, though."

"Texting is such a pain," Kariya groans, a tiny proof that he is trying not to cry.

"You are a pain," Kirino sighs amusedly. "All right, you win. I will visit a lot. Raimon, and that Sun Garden place, too."

"Not Sun Garden. The little girls kept cornering me to ask you how you manage to keep your hair all silky. I don't want to go through that experience again." Kariya shudders; Kirino presses a calming hand on his back.

They fall into an eerie silence that shouldn't be possible in such an open space, and the petals of cherry blossoms dance around them as though celebrating.

Kirino tightens his hold. "I will still come for you."

"What a sap," Kariya whispers, with little amusement in his tone, but that is more than enough for them to make sure that the future would be okay.