Four years after he left for the second time, Nezumi returned. It was spring. Though no official agreement had been made, Nezumi had moved into Shion’s new home in the former city area along with the white-haired man. No one had really expected anything different. West Block didn’t even exist anymore, anyway.
For a few weeks, the men had readjusted to living with one another, and living in the new city. Much of their dynamic remained unchanged - they would never really stop being themselves, after all - but there were still quite a few things that the two of them had to learn about living together in this new space. For the most part, they were adjusting easily, though there were many things that still needed to be said between them that had not yet been addressed. Neither seemed to be sure how to bring up the stickier topics.
It was summer when the weird awkwardness that had settled over them was broken. Shion had a day off work, for once, and Nezumi hadn’t yet found a role. (Not for lack of trying - the local theaters were all in the middle of productions, and auditions for new plays were still some weeks away.)
“Shion. Come with me,” was what Nezumi had finally said. Shion had agreed, even without knowing where they were headed. He knew something was about to happen between them, and it would finally push them over the edge of this weird precipice they had settled on. Which way they would fall, though, he couldn’t say.
They walked for some time. At first, the scenery was unfamiliar - the city and the surrounding areas really had changed quite a bit in the last four year. But all too soon, Shion began to recognize where they were going.
This path, the buildings that had decayed over the years, the way things had started to grow in this place that had once been so barren, Shion recognized. How many times had he walked this path himself over the past few years? It was the only place the new committee had never touched. He had done what he could to prevent that. As long as he lived, he didn’t think he could allow them to take this place from him. Not without a fight.
“Nezumi-” Shion started to say, his voice a bit thick.
“You said you wanted to spend summer here. At that time, that was your greatest wish, wasn’t it?” the dark-haired man cut him off. He didn’t turn around as he spoke. He kept walking at the same pace, though Shion noticed his silhouette was a lot less rigid than it once was.
Shion said nothing, but Nezumi seemed to read his thoughts, anyway.
“We can never go back to that time. I will never be able to grant that wish.”
Nezumi stopped and finally turned to face him. Shion’s throat constricted as he took in what was left of the already decayed building, the remaining ruins, the vast field of sunflowers that covered the once-frozen and barren land. Still the one thing that stood out the most in the scene was the man in front of him.
This place, this person - the memories of a time when Shion had felt most alive flooded back to him. Yes, this was the one place he had always longed to return to. And it was the one place - the one time - to which he could never truly return.
“It was such a simple wish,” Nezumi continued, breaking the silence, “but I don’t think it could ever have been granted.”
Shion heard the words that remained unspoken in the air. ‘I couldn’t give you that. I never could. But I can give you this.’
The ruins had long since crumbled beyond the point where they could go back into that room. The room itself had already been a wreck. By the time Shion had made it back after Nezumi’s departure, it had already been nearly destroyed by looters. He had saved what he could, but that was when it had been painfully clear that, even when Nezumi returned, they would never go back to that time. They could never go back to that room and spend that time together again, no matter how he wished it.
They couldn’t go back - they could only go forward. It was like a new beginning.
Suddenly, the words that hadn’t yet been spoken, the emotions that had not been named between them, lifted. Those words never needed to be said - they already understood. Those emotions that were unnamed - had always been unnamed - didn’t need labels. They teetered on the edge of the abyss, and finally fell without fear.
Shion felt his heart lighten. They could never go back. But, just for this day, they could live amongst the sunflowers and the nostalgia. In the place where their lives had truly begun, they would begin once again.
It wasn’t what he’d wished for - it wasn’t what he’d desired for with all his heart. But it was enough. As long as they could be together again, it was more than enough.