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Motion and Memories

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As with the clouds above him, drifting peacefully, thinly veiling the darkening skies, everything would keep moving. Likewise with the gentle breeze that swept past him, brushing dried autumn leaves through the dew covered grass. Everything was in a state of constant motion. Even as they slept, ate, laughed, cried - it all kept moving, regardless.

Not that it was bad thing. Rather, he was grateful for all he had experienced and learnt. Even with the sacrifices he had to make, he still never regretted a moment of it all - and he hoped it would stay that way. The smell of grass wafted through the air. That same grass soaked his back at he laid on the ground, his arms tucked under his head, staring up at the bright stars that littered the sky.

Being one of the oldest to not graduate, Tōru Garakuta had become an accidental guardian to everyone else. He remembered watching Seito and Hanabishi grow up completely, from birth to their current age of 17. That's what he disliked about time. It felt as though it went too fast. One moment, he watched child Seito cry over losing a game against Hanabishi, the next he watched them doing farm work. Despite it all, he never regretted it. He loved watching them grow up to be the people they were today.

Even if that meant he had sacrificed a good portion of his life to taking care of them all. He began to see why people had children. To him, they all felt like younger siblings of his own. He needed to protect them but not shelter them, let them experience the world but not let it hurt them. He did his best to provide that when their parents couldn't. Looking back on it, they taught him a lot as well. How to be patient and caring, how to deal with hard emotions, how to be a good friend.

So deep in his thought, he hadn't noticed that Keita had laid beside him, staring at the sky as well.

"Ked... It's late you know," he smiled.

'Oh I know. You just seemed lonely,' he signed towards the sky.

"You know I'm never lonely."

'Okay... alone then,' he chuckled, staring at him. 'What are you thinking about?'

Tōru sighed, "Everything."

Now Haruma laid next to him as well, squirming at the wetness of the grass.

"God, we're going to get colds being out here now," said Haruma, an arm under his head.

'A little cold never killed anyone,' replied Keita, smiling at him.

"Not yet! But you never know..." he mumbled, "That's what you're thinking about, right Tōru?"

"Kind of... yeah."

They all fell silent, staring up at the now deep navy sky and it's many stars and constellations.

"Hey!" exclaimed Seito, plopping down beside them. He stared down at them with bright eyes, his legs crossed and his arms tucked into them. "If I knew we were going to be stargazing I would've brought my guitar!"

Tōru chuckled to himself, "I remember you comparing the galaxy to soy milk..."

"Don't remind me!" he blushed. "I was stupid okay."

"You still are," added Boron, sitting beside him and placing a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey! Not like you were any better, right Tōru? You must have stories about Boron and Keita!"

Tōru sat up, shivering at the wet fabric clinging to his back. For the next couple of minutes, he told a handful of stories about Boron, Nora, and Keita growing up. Despite them being older, he was still there to watch them grow up. Boron attempted to refute them but eventually gave up, his ears slowly flushing red. It wasn't like him to get embarrassed, especially by old memories, which only made it all the funnier.

For a moment, his eyes locked onto a dark figure standing in the distance. Squinting, he noticed his signature high ponytails. Hanabishi seemed to wave, but was too far to be seen properly. Tōru glanced away for a moment to readjust his sight before waving back.

"Hey Han! Join us!" he exclaimed, making everyone turn in his direction before he could run off.

Trudging over, he sat with them, but remained silent as they chatted among themselves. It was strange to see him so quiet, especially when talking about themselves. Noticing this, Keita sat upright next to him with a smile.

'Go on then Han,' he said.

"Huh?" replied Hanabishi, the undertone of his voice seeping anger.

'You want to say something, so say it.'

He paused for a moment, "Thank you... Tōru."

Everyone stopped and Tōru sat up, confusion and happiness in his eyes. A cheeky smile spread across his face.

"Why?" he asked.

"Don't push it, you know why," he mumbled, punching him in the arm.

Laughing, Tōru took his gratitude. He knew Hanabishi had a secret soft spot for everyone. They all stared at him before laughing, leaving Haruma to remind them it was still the middle of the night. Laying back down next to him, Tōru laid an arm over his face.

"I may never leave the village fully... but that's okay. Time moves on, things change. I... just have to accept that," he muttered to himself.

"We all have to," added Boron in the same tone.

"I can accept it but it doesn't mean i'll just stop there! This village is boring as shit and you all know it," Hanabishi exclaimed, bouncing to his feet. "One day we'll definitely leave! This village isn't our futures."

"So inspirational," Boron mocked, getting a smack on the arm from Seito.

"I suppose he's right. If the village need us this badly then perhaps it wasn't meant to be. They can't expect us to stay forever."

"See! I say we make our own futures! Masuda village has nothing on the poppies!"

'The... poppies?' questioned Keita.

"More like the chinchikurin," chuckled Haruma, staring up at the stars.

"Whatever! My point is that time continues to move, so why waste it?"

Tōru smiled, "I never thought of it that way."

"Don't feed his ego, he'll explode," yawned Boron.

Sitting up, Tōru glanced at them. The kids that now sat in front of him as adults. Fully grown human beings. Individuals. They all smiled back at him with different expressions that he could easily read as positive. Sighing, he moved his gaze to the sky again.

"You guys should probably go back inside and sleep, you'll get a cold if you stay out any longer."

"Ah shit... my grandmother is probably wondering where we are," said Seito, jumping up and standing with Hanabishi. "Goodnight!"

"Night," mumbled Han as Seito began to drag him along.

"I'll take my leave too..." added Boron, beginning to walk away, his hands tucked into his pockets. "Don't be idiots and catch colds."

The only ones left were Keita and Haruma, who both laid beside him again.

'You're crying... are you okay?' asked Keita.

He hadn't even noticed the warmth of the tears than ran down his face. Sniffling and wiping them away, he nodded.

"Yeah... yeah. I'm fine."

"You know him... he's a big softie. I just wish they'd cut him some slack sometimes," said Haruma, his voice cracking into sadness from his usual monotonous tone.

"I'm still here you know," Tōru added laughing. "And it's not them in that sense. I don't know how to phrase it..."

'You don't have to,' smiled Keita, glancing over at him.

"I... care about everyone so deeply that watching time pass us so... quickly; it feels like I'm not giving enough."

"Don't be stupid!" Haruma replied, lightly punching his arm. "You've given everything to care for us. You can't control time."

"I suppose..." he mumbled. "All we can really do is live in the present."

They feel silent. The comfortable, warm type of silence. With the land on their backs and the universe above them, Tōru absolved himself of any guilt he felt. He had and continued to give it his all to make everyone feel loved; he never had to wonder if he was gaining from it, he already knew. He was loved.

Within only a couple minutes, they all sat up shivering, water soaking their backs and covering it in grass. Behind them, they'd left imprints of themselves in the dirt by mistake, Standing and admiring their idiocy, they finally went home. And things continued moving.