Pics+Fic [Hirunaka no Ryuusei] » Dedicated to Hana
Tsubomi had deeply etched into him the fear of being deserted. So naturally, he hadn’t seen this coming – that this time, he would be the one to walk away. Even so, he understood his position as a teacher, and he understood his position as Yukichi’s friend. Like her uncle, he was also Suzume’s guardian.
Teacher. Guardian. Not lover. A familiar pang churned the pit of his stomach, clawing its way upwards to grip his chest. The guilt made it difficult to breathe… but he couldn’t take advantage of her like this. She had her whole youth ahead of her, whereas he was tied down with all the responsibilities of an adult. He couldn’t drag her down with him.
Every time he ignored her gaze, answered her tonelessly, or passed her in the hallways without a glance, he felt like screaming at her:
—I’m doing this for you, Chun-chun. You have to understand I’m doing this for you. I’m a dirty guy, and I don’t want your ruin on my hands. This was never up to me. I do miss you. I do love you. And I’m sorry—
As if she could hear him. As if she had reason to trust him.
Shishio took another long drag from his cigarette. He didn’t know how soon he’d be forgotten. After all, Suzume was a headstrong, spirited girl. And he knew Mamura was stealing her away, little by little. He saw it in the ever-changing way she looked at that boy. Each glance they shared stung like a papercut, slowly nicking away whatever hope he had left — that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t too late. But she wasn’t one to hopelessly carry on. He knew it.
Then again, sometimes he would notice her out of the corner of his eye at moments she believed no one was looking. Those were the only moments she allowed her easygoing smile to drop. She appeared downcast, lost, and unsure of herself. Often, she would stare unfocusedly at the sky, maybe looking at the past, maybe hoping for another daytime shooting star. A corner of his lips raised despite himself, vindictively glad that he was the one to have left her with those scratches. (x)