Inspired by a little piece of information I found by chance — the significance of the second button off a Japanese male student's uniform. (1)

M/M slash implied.

(Note: This story is written in a Japanese context, but since it is in English as well, honorifics and such have been used as minimally as possible.)

Season of Memories
思い出の季節 〜第二ボタン〜


It is March, and all around are dapples of delicate pink: the colours of cherry blossoms in bloom. They line the strips of sky above the avenues, like small strokes off a painter's careful palette, and transform the parks into a quivering sea of spring.

Inside the gates of a nearby high school, students are making their way down to the courtyard from the hall, all the while gushing and chattering and laughing. They inspect, and wave, and play with the diplomas in their hands, leaving the connotations of those crisp sheets of paper quite forgotten for the moment.

Amongst the crowds, a black-haired boy pauses in his steps, and absently touches the collar of his school uniform — a black gakuran with a row of shiny brass buttons, each embossed with the school crest. His classmates and peers continue streaming by his sides and away from the hall, save for one figure ahead who turns around and looks back at him.

"Misaki."

The black-haired boy raises his head slightly, and blinks.

"What are you standing there so solemnly for?" his friend calls from the distance, laughing. His hair, brown and loosely spiked, glints in the sunlight falling across the corridor. "Isn't the ceremony already over?"

Misaki smiles back, and resumes walking. "I was just thinking . . ." he trails off.

"What of? Hurry up already, before they all take photographs without us."

Misaki laughs, too. He runs down the split stairway into the foyer with his friend, and together they emerge into the bright blue sky of a spring afternoon.

– – –

The school courtyard is a sea of black and white, dotted with the red ribbons on the girls' blouses, strewn with the beautiful pastels of kimono some mothers present were wearing, and enclosed by the brown and pink of the sakura trees that circle the space. All around are peals of laughter of students, boys and girls alike, as they celebrate and congratulate one another for their hard work and bright, unknown futures.

"Are your parents around?" Misaki's friend asks him, as they both make their way across the scattered groups of students and parents. "Did they attend the ceremony just now?"

Misaki shrugs, a blithe smile gracing his face. "Today is Wednesday, Tatsuya. They couldn't take leave from work."

"Even for your graduation?" Tatsuya sighs. "But then again, it's the same for me too."

The two friends leave the topic at that, half-forgotten like the diplomas now in their schoolbags, and walk towards the shade of one of trees. Gathered by a bench under it are a group of girls from their class, giggling as they wave their shiny mobile phones and digital cameras around.

"Tatsuya! Misaki!" one of them calls, having spotted the two approaching figures, and beckons them over. Her ringlets of hair glint like caramel in the sunlight, and bounce with her every step. "Come on! Let's all take photographs together!"

She grabs Tatsuya by the arm over to the others — and Tatsuya himself drags Misaki over — in a flurry of rhinestones, charms and coloured fur that so heavily adorn each girl's mobile phone. The shyest person of the group — a pint-sized girl in glasses — steals a glance at Tatsuya when he brushes past, and scuttles over instead into the space between two other girls.

Under the dappled shade of the trees and flowers around them, the group of friends take photographs one after another, sealing their best memories of school in screens of clear, bright crystal. Laughter punctuates each flash and click as they put their arms around one another's shoulders, attempt fancy poses, and fuss over who should lock arms with the only boys in the group and stand proudly between them.

"Must we go through this?" Tatsuya groans, half laughing, as the girls start making five-pointed stars at the bench with their index and middle fingers, and snapping them amidst more giggles. "It's so girlish."

"Don't you complain, Tatsuya." The girl with the glossy ringlets and loudest of them all, Saori, chides him in fierce earnest. "Who knows, this may be the last time you're allowed to touch the hands of so many pretty girls at once."

"Ah, I see." Tatsuya raises his eyebrows, a knowing smile curling up his face.

Now the girl standing next to Saori starts waving her arms frantically. "No, that's definitely not the reason!" she cries. She turns to Tatsuya, the bright red band in her hair framing her eyes, wide and blinking in indignance. "It represents all of us and everything of us. Our friendship. Our success in completing one important phase in our lives. And all our hopes for the next step we have to take!"

For a few seconds nobody reacts, in the wake of those thoughtful words. But then Misaki speaks, for the first time in several minutes: "That was really well said, Yurie."

Yurie turns to nod at him, her face suddenly aglow. "Thank you, Misaki," she says with a grin, flashing a victory sign at him. "I'm glad you agree with me, unlike the rest of them . . ." The other girls give shouts of protest, and soon enough they are all giggling and tittering again.

"Really now, Yurie." Saori shakes her head in mock disapproval. "I thought we've had enough of all those enlightening things during the principal's speech just now!" And as everyone laughs at Saori's words — Yurie now slapping her on the shoulder in return — the photograph-taking resumes.

Misaki watches the star they are making once more with their hands — him, with Tatsuya, Yurie, Saori and the girl in the glasses he knows as Minako, who is now fidgeting next to Tatsuya. Their splayed fingers are pressed gently against the bench, and against the very same wood that echoes the prints and messages of hundreds of other students before them. In that moment they are all, like their seniors, shooting stars — in the midst of the neverending path that is their journey through life, and showcasing it to the world through faraway flashes of blazing light.

The touch of both Yurie's and Tatsuya's fingers next to his own, small and warm, suddenly seem to hold to him another meaning altogether. He fishes his own mobile phone out of his bag, and aims it at the star he is now part of.

Tatsuya turns to him with a disbelieving grin. "You too?" he teases.

Misaki only smiles, and takes a single photograph.

"Right!" Saori's voice rings out presently, just as the star breaks apart. "We've celebrated our wonderful friendships," she declares with a proud toss of her hair. "Now it's time for something more."

"What is it?"

Saori smiles smugly at Minako's meek question. She turns quite suddenly to Tatsuya, who by then is standing a little apart from the girls along with Misaki, and clenches her fists before her chest. "Tatsuya," she says solemnly. "Who are you going to give your second button to?"

Tatsuya blinks innocently at her. "What?"

"Oh, come on now! I bet all the girls here had a crush on you at some point in time . . ." At that sentence everyone else flusters and try to stop her from continuing — save for Minako, who only turns her head away in embarrassment, and Misaki, who only smiles at the spectacle.

From where he is standing, he can see that Tatsuya is very much flattered by this snippet of information, though this he tries to hide with a careless hand through his hair. "Even you, Saori?" he hears Tatsuya ask.

"Sure I did." Quite unexpectedly Saori breaks into theatrics, and clutches her hands against her chest, with one foot poised behind her on its toes, and her face almost one of hopeless infatuation. "Oh, Tatsuya-kun," she laments. "How I wish I can have that little memento closest to your heart. It would mean so much to me, and I would treasure it for the rest of my life!"

To which Tatsuya plays along by leaning back in shock, and cupping his hands protectively over that coveted button on his gakuran. "Your aggressiveness, Saori!" he calls out to her, with horrified shakes of his head. "It scares me!"

And it is this act which drives the anxiety out of the other girls and sets them all laughing instead, in good humour and relief. Yurie pretends to fight with Saori for Tatsuya; the two girls then pull Minako over, with much encouragement and more candid photographs from the others, and the bespectacled girl now stands right next to Tatsuya, hands tight against her skirt and cheeks flushing deeply. And Tatsuya himself, momentarily the object of everyone's affection, seems only more amused than smug about it.

Perhaps, Misaki muses, that is why Tatsuya has always been so charismatic in the eyes of everyone else.

"What about Misaki?" Tatsuya's voice calls out, over those of the girls. "Surely some of you have thought well of him before? And he doesn't look that bad at all. Don't you think so, Yurie? . . ."

Misaki, who has until now been standing at the fringe of it all, blinks and laughs in surprise as Tatsuya tries to pull him over to a protesting Yurie. "Oh, no — I don't think I deserve all that attention, really . . ." He raises his hands in mock defeat. "I can see that you girls are too much to handle! I really should escape . . ."

"Ah! I think I'll do that too." Tatsuya at last manages to excuse himself from his classmates' playful attention, before they finally give in and wave cheerful goodbyes. He retrieves his schoolbag from the bench seats, and looks up at Misaki.

"Well, shall we go walk around for a while?" he says, idly fingering the button that is still intact on his gakuran. "Just for old times' sake."

"And leave your fan club alone?"

Tatsuya laughs. "I bet they'll be taking photographs until the night. Come on."

– – –

The classroom corridors seem much longer than they have always been, stretching into the distance with their floors gleaming from years of wear. On this day there is no sign of those excited, enthusiastic first-years the two of them have once been, tearing down the endless hallways at every peal of the school bell; instead small groups of graduating students linger all around — at the windows and against the walls, chatting among themselves, remembering.

Their shoes pad and shuffle softly against the floor, stepping past the light spilling from one open door after another.

"I still can't believe it." Tatsuya is gazing all around the corridor, as though its architecture is entirely new to him, and drumming his fingers against his trouser pockets. "Three years are over so quickly. I think I'm starting to miss this campus already . . ."

"And everyone we've known, too." Misaki nods thoughtfully. "Our teachers, and all our classmates . . ."

"And especially you, Misaki."

Misaki pauses in his steps; Tatsuya seems not to have noticed, and continues walking.

"You're the only one who's been in the same class as me for all three years, so we probably know each other's eccentricities best." Here Tatsuya gives an odd little laugh. "If it weren't for you helping me explain to everyone my short tempers during those exam periods, Misaki, I would've been forever known as the most grade-obsessed perfectionist in the entire school!"

The plain canvas shoes behind Tatsuya's slowly resume their journey along the corridor once more.

". . . Then I'll have to thank you too, for defending my silences as reticence instead of arrogance," Misaki says lightly.

"Oh, I wouldn't describe it as 'defending' . . ." Tatsuya laughs again, stopping as his friend catches up. "Anyway I suppose that's someone else's future role . . ."

Misaki glances at him. "What do you mean?"

Tatsuya turns to face him, the smile on his face still wide and teasing.

"I think Yurie likes you, you know," he says, falling into Misaki's stride. "And what with you praising her words just now . . . You really should hope to get into the same university as she does!"

Now Misaki laughs; he brushes the side of his hand across his brow, quite carelessly, and gazes past the open windows on his left to avoid his friend's eyes. "You think too much, Tatsuya."

"No, really — Yurie's a rather nice girl. Well, maybe a little bit outspoken, but not as much as that drama queen Saori anyway . . ." Tatsuya trails off, albeit towards the empty space on the right instead. "She's fun to be with, though, that Yurie — isn't she?"

Behind those windows and doors are seas of empty desks and chairs that make up the classrooms, all blanched and still in the bright light of early afternoon. The blackboards up front, however, seem to liven up the spaces — drawings and sentiments and well wishes scribbled in riots of colour, all jostling to get their messages across to beloved seniors and classmates alike. One of them catches Misaki's eye: a cute chalk drawing of a boy and girl holding hands, their grinning anonymity lighting up the heartfelt congratulations scattered all around them.

"Yes, I guess she is," he says at last, a faint smile upon his face.

They make their way down the stairs — Tatsuya still teasing Misaki endlessly — across the open corridor and into the backyard, where this time they are embraced by arrays of colour. The spreading eaves of the trees burn deep brown against the blue of the sky; flecks of pink and white flow all along the branches, and almost seem to dissolve into the air. Some of the petals, caught in the wind, float by them and by the few other students on the stone benches along the path, wondering at their hair, at their clothes, and perhaps their youth.

At the sight Tatsuya stops his chattering; he exhales deeply instead, and folds his arms behind his head.

"You know, Misaki," he begins, his voice dropping slightly. "Now that I'm looking at all this, I can't help but wonder — it's spring all around, it spells new beginnings for everyone and everything. But at the same time there's some kind of . . . finality to it, isn't it?"

"The end of high school for us, you mean?"

"Yes, maybe . . ." For a moment there lingers a hint of wistfulness about his eyes; but that soon passes, and Tatsuya is grinning once more. "I'm going to miss them, those careless days."

"At least we can still hope to relive them for a few more years, in university," Misaki replies, brushing a stray petal off his shoulder. "Which one do you want to get into, Tatsuya?"

Tatsuya laughs, and shakes his head. "Oh, I haven't decided yet . . . I'm not even sure what I want to be in the future. How about you?"

Misaki simply shrugs and mumbles: "I think I prefer being a high school student forever." His friend laughs again, and lands a teasing punch onto his arm.

"Being nostalgic, are you? Although I must say . . . I think a lot of us are feeling this way too." They pass two girls on one of the benches, pointing and chuckling at pictures in a yearbook open on their laps. "We're all like Saori and the rest of them, taking photographs, writing letters, making keepsakes — and just so . . . so constantly clinging on to what we have."

"Maybe we're just obsessed with ourselves," Misaki says. His hand absently trails along his schoolbag, to the slight bulge where his mobile phone is, and presses against it.

"I don't think it's only that!" With a turn of his foot Tatsuya drops down onto an empty bench, and folds his arms upon his knees. Misaki pauses in his steps, and gazes at his friend. The shards of daylight from above glance off his brown hair, and hide his brooding face in half shadow.

"We're all more selfish than we think," he hears Tatsuya muse. "We keep thinking about ourselves, about everything we own . . . And even our future careers, our pride, our status." Tatsuya raises his head to look at him expectantly. "Why? Why all that obsession with ourselves and how we stand in the world?"

Misaki's face is expressionless.

"To show that very same world that we can do it, that we can survive."

He catches a falling sakura petal, and curls his fingers around it. And as though this were a confirmation of sorts, he turns to look back at Tatsuya, his lips now in a smile of utmost certainty. "Isn't it better for us to know where we stand against everyone else?" he continues. "And isn't it better for us to know that we are able to finish all that we started out doing — so that we can look forward to trying all that we may become eventually?"

For a long time the two friends are silent, contemplative in the wake of Misaki's train of spoken thoughts. But eventually Tatsuya leans back and relaxes his arms, his hands coming to rest at the edges of the bench instead.

"You are hopeful," he observes, smiling.

Misaki smiles back, and opens his hand; the petal gently slips off his palm and falls to the ground.

"It's spring, remember?" he says simply.

– – –

The main courtyard seem to be less crowded than before by the time they finish wandering the circuit of the campus. Some students, settled under the trees or by the foyer, are still reminiscing — they laugh and pat one another's shoulders, yet occasionally dab their eyes with their sleeves. Others, having at last gathered both their courage and closest friends, are now strolling out of the front gates, proclaiming their first step into the world as high school graduates by wondering aloud where to go for tea. Even Saori's group of friends seems to have left for elsewhere.

Tatsuya and Misaki stand in the shade of another delicately pink sakura tree, watching a boy from their neighbouring class a distance away. His father, presumably having just taken time off work, is right next to him, and beaming with pride. He ruffles his son's hair as if he were a child, and the boy only clutches on to his diploma, laughing in half-hearted embarrassment at the attention.

"Lucky brat," Tatsuya remarks. He retrieves his mobile phone and flips it open, then frowns at the screen. "Maybe I should have demanded that my parents come this morning, however busy working they are . . ."

Misaki takes out his own mobile phone, the single leather strap attached to it swinging as he raises it to his eyes. There is one unread message in his mailbox.

He opens the message.


03/18 13:42
From: Mother
Subject: Congratulations!

Congratulations on having graduated from high school, Misaki! Your father and I are very sorry that we couldn't make it to the morning ceremony, but we want you to know that we're really, really proud of you. We know you have worked extremely hard — so do look forward to a surprise from us later today!


Tatsuya notices the smile slowly curling up Misaki's face, and sneaks a peek at his mobile phone screen.

"Not you too," he exclaims, and aims yet another punch at his friend in mock annoyance; Misaki merely darts away, laughing and snapping his phone quickly shut.

Nearby, a small group of female students are walking in their general direction, though hesitantly and nervously. Misaki recognises some of them — they are the first- and second-year juniors of the school's literature club which he and Tatsuya had briefly been part of, late last year. A few of them had sometimes even 'accidentally' bumped into Tatsuya in the classroom corridors during the semester — and more than once too, he recalls.

Misaki smiles; he steps backwards, once, into the mottled shade of the next closest sakura tree.

". . . Anzai-senpai?" As though in deliberate contrast, one of the juniors takes a tentative step forward. She is a sweet-looking girl, with bright eyes and straight brown hair down to her shoulders. Her clasped hands are held tight against the blazer of her uniform, but her eyes are fixed on Tatsuya in determination.

The other girls fluster and blush as Tatsuya lowers his fist and straightens up, having finally noticed them. "Murakami-san," he says, looking at the girl who spoke.

She smiles at Tatsuya at the mention of her name, and nods slightly. "Anzai-senpai — and Takada-senpai too . . ." Here she turns to Misaki, who blinks in surprise, then smiles back in acknowledgement. "We'd like to give you our congratulations. Thank you for your hard work and perseverance!"

Tatsuya gives a small, embarrassed laugh at the sight of Murakami bowing. "No, it was nothing," he replies, modestly. "Everyone put in their best effort too . . ."

For a while the juniors continue the congratulatory exchanges with their two seniors; then, as the bright voices revert to susurrations, a second girl — one whom Misaki does not recognise — steps forward.

"Anzai-senpai, if — if I may ask you . . ." She pushes up her glasses, quite nervously, her hands playing with the corner of her blazer as she gathers the courage to continue. "May I . . . may I have the second button off your uniform?"

Misaki watches Tatsuya carefully. Judging by the constant fidgeting of everyone in the group, it seems that this last question is on all their minds, and directed to Tatsuya alone. There may be a chance, Misaki thinks, that Tatsuya has to lose all the buttons on his uniform so as to not disappoint anyone by the end of the day — Saori included.

"Oh. Well, that is . . ." Tatsuya gingerly removes the second button, and closes a hesitant hand upon it. He angles his head towards Misaki, as though asking him for either opinion or help; Misaki only encourages him with a wide smile and a shrug.

The juniors are waiting patiently, though still fidgeting amongst themselves. Tatsuya walks a little distance away, apparently in thought, then returns. For a few moments his eyes avoid the girls' hopeful faces; then, in what almost seems like a flourish, he raises his head and holds the button out to Misaki instead.

"For you then, Misaki," he says, smiling openly.

– – –

And Misaki remembers — he remembers every single moment in these past three years that he has shared together with Tatsuya: their endless lessons in the classrooms, lunch hours on the rooftop, free periods under the lone tree at the far end of the school field, and all their times in the handful of casual clubs they joined; he remembers everything that he has always treasured in this friendship: their laughter and dreams, and hopes and fears, told to the sky and the grass and each other; he remembers the way Tatsuya has always spoken with him: his voice, at times lightly pleasant, at times keenly resolute — ever-changing in all its faithfulness to his moods, the way an honest companion's will; he remembers how Tatsuya has always looked at him: warmly, carefully, truthfully, and thoroughly trusting him to keep everything they shared solely between the two of them.

Yet the one thing that he remembers most of all is a time when Tatsuya neither spoke to nor gazed at him — the time when Tatsuya was asleep in his chair, during an idle literature club session one autumn evening, with a translated novel open upon his chest. He had watched, carefully, the way Tatsuya had his fingers steepled; the way the golden twilight had sieved through the windows, and lit up his hands, and his shirt, and his smile. And something had stirred inside his heart then, for at last he realised — that all this time they chose to spend together has amounted to something, on his part, a little more than mere affection for a friend.

And now Tatsuya knows it, too.

– – –

Within the group, some of the girls look bewildered, but others even gasp softly, in wonderment.

Misaki blinks, again and again. A faint flush colours his cheeks; he opens his mouth to speak. But Tatsuya beats him to it, with a wink and a small laugh aimed his way.

"Here, Murakami-san . . ." He turns back to the girl, whose face lights up as he hands the button to her. "You gave me a note last year," he says simply, and leaves it at that.

Blushing, Murakami accepts the button — her fingers now closing tight upon it, preciously — and thanks Tatsuya. And then, in a voice that is soft and shy all of a sudden: "I . . . I wish you good luck and success in the future, Anzai-senpai and . . . and Takada-senpai."

The others, looking equally embarrassed, fluster and extend their well wishes as well, in a flurry of bows and smiles and wringing hands. At last the girls disperse — one of them even hastily drawing a sleeve across her eyes — and the two boys are left by themselves.

Sighing softly, Tatsuya watches as the girls disappear amongst the dispersed crowds, and turns back to his friend — Misaki has both hands clutching to the strap of his schoolbag and his head tilted to one side, as though avoiding the gaze of anyone around who may have witnessed that confession.

Tatsuya breaks into a grin.

"You should have seen your expression earlier," he teases, and walks over to Misaki. "It would have made such a hilarious photograph!"

"Really, Tatsuya," Misaki mutters, while pressing a relieved hand against his chest. "You gave me such a fright."

"It's true, actually — I could have given it to you," Tatsuya says. He raises his head towards the sky with a smile, and adds thoughtfully: "But then Murakami-san is prettier than you are, so . . ."

Misaki pretends to hit Tatsuya on the shoulder out of irritation. Tatsuya gives yet another laugh — one that seems to close the button-giving episode once and for all, and walks off towards the school gates.

For a short moment Misaki stands there on his own, suddenly not knowing what to say or feel; then, he quietly eases his hold on the straps of his bag, and goes off after Tatsuya.

They walk out of the gates together — for the very first time as high school graduates, and perhaps the last, after three long years. Yet instead of going off to the nearby shops and cafés like many of their fellow schoolmates, they simply wander along the side of the road, towards the bus stop just outside the school grounds.

Above them, the cherry blossoms quiver in the branches, their petals drifting down and shrouding the entire street in delicate brevity and colour.

Misaki glances to his left — Tatsuya is gazing up at the trees, his hands in his pockets, his pace relaxed. The row of buttons down his front glint in the daylight, the absence of one of them stark against the black of his uniform.

He turns back to face the main road once more, a smile playing upon his face. "Have you thought about where you want to go, Tatsuya?" he asks lightly.

His friend snaps out of his reverie and blinks at him. "What, for tea?"

Misaki laughs. "In university, I mean. Or even after that." The two of them reach the shade of the bus stop, and settle down next to each other at one unoccupied end of the bench. "Have you finally decided on what you want to do in the future?" he asks.

"Work in the Meteorological Agency," Tatsuya replies at once, grinning.

Misaki stops drumming his fingers on the schoolbag in his lap. "You're kidding."

"Well, why not?" Tatsuya says intently, spreading out his arm as if to illustrate his point. "It's such an honour to be able to forecast the start of the sakura season, and really have them all blossom the moment you say it."

He pauses to look into the distance, lost in thought; then he inhales, shoulders raised, and smiles. "Anyway, they are pretty."

"Even prettier than Murakami-san?" Misaki asks. Tatsuya turns to stare at him in surprise — and notices the hint of a smile on his face.

"Come on, Misaki," he laughs. "You know it's not for real. It's just a little memory for all of us . . . something to remind us of all our days in school."

He stands up at the sight of the approaching bus, and looks back at Misaki. "Are you going home too?" He puts on a resentful face. "Before you go celebrate with your parents, that is."

Misaki grins back at him. "I guess we're even, then," he says casually. The bus doors hiss open; the two of them step on board, and leave the school behind them for the final time.

– – –

The bus cruises along the road, colours sailing past outside the windows like a whirlwind of springtime. Tatsuya, however, is half-asleep in the aisle with a hand on one of the handles and his chin on his arm, as though beckoned instead by daydreams of his long, bright future.

Misaki stands beside him, his downturned face partially shielding the small smile that still lingers on his lips. In a curious way he is as though back in the literature club room once more — but this time he feels both the proximity of Tatsuya's presence, and the careless gazes of the few other commuters in the bus, and they seem to imply to him a certain kind of closure, which he at last understands.

With his free hand, he removes the second brass button off his own gakuran, and closes his fingers upon it. Then, very gently, very discreetly, he slips it into an unused side pocket on Tatsuya's bag — not as a declaration of affection, the way it is meant to be, but as a secret reminder to Misaki himself of how he once felt for Tatsuya.

And like the delicate cherry blossoms themselves, those feelings are only transient, and best remembered as just a sweet little memory, and nothing more.

Misaki closes his eyes.

The bus jolts as it goes over a hump, and Tatsuya is stirred awake. For a long while he blinks absently; then, at last, he notices the missing button on Misaki's uniform.

"Misaki!" he whispers, pointing at the buttonhole and grinning. "Who did you give it to?"

Misaki only shrugs and smiles conspiratorially, his eyes still shut.

Tatsuya leans a little closer to his friend, stealing glances at just about everyone else on the bus, then blatantly stares at a few other high school girls round the back. "She's on this bus right now, isn't she?" he asks in a low voice. "Who is it if it isn't Yurie?" But Misaki only laughs, and refuses to say anything.

And he realises how wonderful all this is, even amidst Tatsuya's constant badgering and his own careful glimpses towards the second button, now hidden in the depths of Tatsuya's bag. To be good friends with Tatsuya, to remain as good friends with him even in the future — perhaps, that is the best way things can turn out between them.

Misaki smiles to himself.

The bus continues to roll along the streets and into the distance, welcomed by the cascade of petals that falls, endlessly, from the soft spring sky.

-fin-


(1) In Japanese high schools, male students often wear the gakuran (学らん) as their school uniform. If a female student likes a male senior who is about to graduate, she will ask him for the second button (daini botan, 第二ボタン) on his gakuran, because it is the one closest to the heart. If he gives it to her, it means that he accepts her feelings. This acceptance is not to be taken seriously, though — it only serves as a precious memory of school days after graduation.

I really think I should have completed and uploaded this story two months earlier.

Still, thank you for reading.