|More Yuki yo ringo no ka no gotoku by Ichiho Michi and illustrated by Takemiya Lala
||[May. 30th, 2009|05:47 pm]
First half here.
Katsura explains to Shiho that winter is black in color. It's called "gentou" (玄冬: black winter). Shiho thinks it should be white, if anything. But Katsura continues that white is autumn (白秋: hakushu: white autumn). Summer is red (朱夏: shuka: red summer). Shiho asks about spring, to which Katsura replies that it is green, as in "seishun" (青春). Shiho thinks Katsura is messing with him, but Katsura assures him that it's the truth.  They are hanging out at Katsura's house. Talk turns towards Shiho's college entrance essay, as he's attempting to get into his college of choice not through exams but through the recommendations process. He feels like it's cheating, but comments that he'd probably fail if he had to take the entrance exam with his luck. Shiho asks why Katsura had become a teacher. Katsura explains that he'd wanted to do right with his parents after all the heartache he'd caused, so he tried to get a job with the government since his parents preferred that. The only position he was able to pass the selection process through was to be a teacher. His parents had been glad that he'd gotten a job during a time when it was difficult to get one, though they were a bit doubtful about his becoming a teacher of all things. Shiho worries about having no damn clue as to what he wants to do when he grows up, but Katsura assures him that everyone's the same and that he will eventually find something. Shiho points out that lots of kids have something they like or are good at and can sort of use as a tentative future job. He had a hard time coming up with his dream for his graduation album, and had written salaryman. Katsura laughs and kisses Shiho on the cheek. He tells Shiho that he's in the middle of his green spring, in the smack dab center of his "seishun." When Shiho asks what "seishun" is, Katsura replies that it is the ability to unabashedly ask that question. They both fall asleep.
Shiho wakes up and finds himself alone. He sits up immediately and starts looking for his phone when Katsura comes in through the front door. He had gone to the store because the refrigerator was empty. Shiho is a bit out of it, which he admits. When he woke up he didn't know what time it was, what time of the day it was, what day or what year it was...And he'd panicked a bit. He asks Katsura if he hadn't ever had such an experience. Katsura hugs him and calls him adorable. Shiho looks so defenseless, like a baby. So cute. Shiho objects, but Katsura insists that Shiho is adorable. He kisses Shiho. Katsura pulls back only a little and taps his finger on Shiho's cheek. He advises Shiho to breathe through his nose. Shiho protests that he *knows*. They have the same conversation every time, but Shiho can't help but hold his breath. He kisses Katsura back a bit hard out of spite. Katsura puts his hand behind Shiho's head and holds him for a deep kiss. He calls Shiho cute and tells him he loves him between kisses. Katsura doesn't stick his tongue in Shiho's mouth, but licks his lips. Eventually Katsura throws himself on the bed and shakes his legs up and down, complaining that he wants to have sex. He wants to thrust in and out, to get hard...Shiho hits Katsura's shoulder and calls him a pervert. But inside, Shiho thinks that he'd like to as well. He doesn't think the holding off till graduation is very important, but he knows that it's significant for Katsura. It's probably something Katsura wants to protect and treasure even by suppressing his desire. Shiho thinks Katsura is stupid and clumsy and unyielding, but loves him just the same.
They prepare and eat dinner. Afterwards, Katsura gets a phone call from one of his students worried about his chances at getting into university. Katsura goes out to the balcony to talk. Katsura never talks to Shiho about his job, and always excuses himself when he gets a call like this. He knows it's just Katsura's professional propriety that respects his students' privacy, but Shiho can't help but feel like there's a wall between them. T`hat Katsura's teacher side is reality and that their time together is a dream or a figment of the imagination. But he goes back over the details of their time today and reassures himself of their solidity. He cleans up and takes out the garbage. Katsura is still outside. When their eyes meet, Katsura smiles wryly and waves. Shiho feels bad that Katsura will stay outside in the cold while Shiho is there, so he gestures towards the door to indicate that he's leaving. Katsura, still on the phone, shakes his head. Shiho insists, but Katsura mouths the world "don't." Shiho doesn't know what to do, so he puts his hand on the glass door to the balcony. Katsura puts his hand on the door to line up with Shiho's. Shiho feels like his hand has become a little warmer and closes his eyes. Katsura finally finishes talking and comes in, smiling as if without a care in the world. Shiho realizes he must look troubled, because every time he does Katsura smiles in that way to reassure Shiho that everything's okay.
Hands lined up through the glass door.
When Shiho gets home his sister Minatsu comes to greet him. She wouldn't go to sleep until Shiho got home. Shiho puts Minatsu to bed and reads to her. He waits for her to fall asleep and gets out of bed. Minatsu always wants to sleep with him, but afraid of squashing her by accident Shiho always gets up after she falls asleep. He sends a text message to Katsura saying he's gotten home safely. Kastura gets worried if Shiho doesn't report his safe return. Shiho thinks it's a bit too overprotective, but Katsura acts like it's something very natural to do so he doesn't complain. As he watches Shiho sleep, he thinks of Katsura's son Yuuki and that Katsura must want to take care of his son like how Shiho does for Minatsu. He remembers finding the passbook for a savings account in Yuuki's name once. He'd put it back and never said anything to Katsura, but he couldn't help but wonder how Katsura felt as he saved money for the child he's only seen in pictures. Katsura could redo his life if he married a woman and had a child. Though it would never replace Yuuki it'd be a new start. Something he couldn't have with Shiho.
Shiho's teacher congratulates him when he gets to school one morning. He'd been accepted into the university he'd been aiming for. At first Shiho feels relief more than anything, but as he walks his happiness at having gotten into university swells within him. He swings by the staff room to let Katsura know. But when he gets there he sees a student with Katsura having a serious conversation. He decides not to go in and walks away. The school is like a different universe from the world with Shiho and Katsura only and it feels a little lonely. But he'd wanted to tell Katsura first.
That night Shiho gets a call from Katsura. After "congratulations" there is a loud banging sound. Katsura had set off a fire cracker. Shiho points out that Katsura had probably startled his neighbor, but Katsura brushes that concern aside. He offers to set off the rest of the package, but Shiho declines. Katsura says congratulations again, and tells Shiho he'd asked Shiho's teacher about Shiho's status and had found out that Shiho had passed. But Shiho had already gone home. He complains that Shiho could've at least sent him a message. Shiho explains that he figured he'd tell Katsura the next time they met. Katsura asks if his family had eaten something good that night. Shiho replies that it was a regular dinner since his father wasn't even home. Katsura offers to buy a present, but Shiho declines. He doesn't want his mother wondering where he got something new when he doesn't even work. So Katsura proposes going somewhere and eating something nice instead.
After they get off the phone, Shiho throws the phone on the bed and lies down. He hadn't been able to tell Katsura that he'd gone to the staff room to tell him immediately but that Katsura had been busy so he'd given up. It was such a simple thing, but he'd been too afraid, too embarrassed, too mortified. He's wanted Katsura since he was 15. He realizes that no matter what happens he'll always want and never feel like he has him. Even if they have sex Shiho will probably feel like he doesn't have Katsura and want him even more. Do wedding vows make people belong to each other? If so, Shiho can never have Katsura.
After a dinner with Shiho and his parents, Rika and her parents in celebration of both of them getting into university via recommendation (and where we learn that Rika plans on studying Russian and going to Russia to study), Rika begs Shiho to come to a go-kon with her. She'd been practicing with the university tennis club she will be joining. A guy had taken a shine to her and had been persistently pursuing her. She'd been putting him off by claiming that she was busy getting into university, but once she was in she had no excuses. Pressured into at least attending a go-kon with him and some other people, she wants Shiho come and be moral support. Shiho has absolutely no interest in going to a go-kon, but eventually gives in. It's not like he'd ever been able to resist Rika's serious requests.
Shiho meets up with Katsura for the celebratory day out. Katsura had bought a car about a year ago so that they could go on dates without feeling self-conscious. They'd mostly spent time in Katsura's apartment until then. One day Katsura had shown Shiho car ads and asked which one he liked. The next month Shiho had been surprised to find that Katsura had bought the car he'd chosen, a dark blue Volkswagen Golf. Shiho thinks back and wishes he'd acted more happy about the car since he'd burdened Katsura with the cost. He asks Katsura if he'd paid off the loan already. Katsura replies that he hadn't gotten a loan to buy the car as he hates owing money. Katsura asks if he seems like he doesn't have money. Shiho hadn't really thought about it and doesn't know much about real world finances. Katsura asserts that he has the country behind him...And admits that he actually doesn't get that much. But he doesn't have expensive hobbies or tastes, so after years of working he'd saved up a decent pile of money. Katsura comments that it may be just him, but when you can buy most of what you want pretty easily it becomes less desirable. He wants the things he wants to be pressing and urgent, to make his chest feel tight. When they get to a stop light, Katsura turns towards Shiho and points out that he's trying to woo Shiho. Had Shiho noticed? Shiho is flustered because Katsura had called him "you" (omae) instead of "Shiho-chan" as he usually does. When he doesn't respond, Katsura leans forward and kisses Shiho. Shiho yells at Katsura and looks around to see if anyone saw. Katsura airily tells Shiho that no one was looking. Shiho hits Katsura's leg at that blithe attitude. Katsura then assures Shiho that his sexual desire hasn't lessened, so Shiho shouldn't worry. He then spots a sign for a zoo and asks if Shiho would like to go there.
It's a small zoo. There aren't many people since it's early winter, and the animals are all lethargic. They check out the polar bears and see two white mounds. There are tons of penguins in all kinds of poses. When Shiho wonders what they are thinking, Katsura suggests that they are thinking something like "I want to eat fish." Shiho objects that it's too obvious and complains that at school Katsura tells his students to be more imaginative. Katsura defends himself by saying that's just a platitude teachers say. Shiho notices one penguin who seems to want to go into the water but doesn't, and keeps peering into it. Shiho wonders if there are hopeless swimmers among penguins. Katsura doesn't know, but points out that if there was it'd be dead pretty quickly. Shiho watches the penguin and wonders what motivates the penguin to swim when it doesn't have to do anything to get food and survive. The penguin flaps its wings and finally dives in, swimming naturally. Shiho realizes that he'd been making a fist when Katsura pokes his hand. Embarrassed, he puts his hands in his pockets and starts walking away. Katsura agrees, commenting that they were able to see the penguin succeed with their own eyes. Shiho thinks Katsura is making fun of him, but Katsura protests that he likes that part of Shiho.
After a while, Katsura tells the story of a farmer who couldn't handle the work by himself. When he asks for help and offers a daughter in marriage, a monkey appears and helps him. The farmer has to keep his promise. The two older daughters refuse outright. After all, it's a monkey. The third daughter agrees, however. The monkey is very happy. The day they marry, the third daughter makes lots of mochi and the monkey carries it in a pot. Then on a mountain road, the daughter asks for a branch from a blooming sakura tree on a cliff. She keeps asking for the branch that's further out, until the monkey falls off the cliff. He falls into the river below, and because of the pot he drowns. The third daughter goes home and things are happily ever after. Shiho is appalled by the story because things turned out so badly for the monkey. Katsura tells Shiho that the story is told as an example of a smart and good daughter.
Shiho comments that Katsura knows all kinds of things, and not because he's a teacher. Katsura explains that he'd read and studied a lot when things were bad for him. He'd think too much when he'd have free time, and movies and music and those types of things didn't distract him enough. Thanks to all that studying, he managed to get into college and end up a teacher. He'd actually been a bad student, before.
As they leave the zoo, Katsura tells Shiho that the monkey in the story had, as it died, thought that though things ended up this way, it truly loved the third daughter. The monkey, for all that it was hated and deceived and killed, had died loving her fully. Katsura remembers thinking at the time that the monkey had a happy and glowing life, even though it was just a monkey.
Shiho tells Katsura about the go-kon as they head back. Katsura tells Shiho that go-kons can be fun, to get to know new people (if they don't suck). Shiho has no interest in meeting new people. He is perfectly happy with the relationships he has now. Katsura, though, very seriously tells Shiho that it isn't okay to keep the status quo. Shiho doesn't understand why Katsura would say that, but Katsura just tells him he shouldn't. They part a bit awkwardly. As Shiho watches Katsura drive away he wonders why he has to be faulted for being completely satisfied with the happiness he has now.
Shiho attends the go-kon with Rika. He's not very sociable, but he doesn't care how he appears since it's not like he wants to be there. The guy who likes Rika is annoying, and becomes more so as he drinks more. At one point he asks what is Rika's type. He points to Shiho and asks if Shiho is Rika's type. Shiho clicks his tongue and murmurs that the guy is annoying. Everyone on the table becomes silent and looks at him, dumbfounded. Shiho can tell Rika is desperately trying not to laugh. Shiho ignores them all and orders more water. He grabs some food for himself, then smacks the guy's hand away, saying it's in the way. The guy sitting between Shiho and annoying guy cracks up and tells the other guy he's being childish. The guy who started laughing, named Kakoi, and Shiho start talking. Turns out Kakoi is a student at the university Shiho will be attending. So is the annoying guy, but he's in a different department that's across the campus. Shiho sincerely is thankful for the fact, which makes Kakoi laugh more. As they talk more it turns out Kakoi went to the same high school as well. They start talking about teachers. Kakoi asks about Katsura. Rika joins in, and they talk about how popular Katsura is with the girls. Shiho wishes they'd stop talking about it, but some of the others join in. They ask who was more popular, Katsura or Kakoi (Kakoi is good looking and obviously the type to be popular. Shiho could sense some of the girls at the go-kon wanting to talk to Kakoi). Kakoi says he wasn't very popular. He asserts that Kastura was really popular, not only because of his appearance but because there was a particular darkness in him. Rika disagrees, and Kakoi drops the subject. Shiho stares at Kakoi until he feels like Kakoi might notice and looks away.
When they leave the restaurant, Shiho and Rika decline going to another restaurant and head home. Kakoi also is going home and heads towards the station with them. When they get on the train Rika falls asleep. Kakoi teases Shiho with the idea that Shiho and Rika are dating a little, but in the end tells Shiho he knew they weren't like that. They seemed like siblings when they first arrived. They seemed like they'd grown up together. Kakoi gets off first. He points out that there's a very nice if small shrine near the station. He used to play on the grounds as a little child. Shiho thinks it'd be a little scary, but Kakoi doesn't think it's scary at all. After all, it's god's garden. They exchange email addresses as well.
Kakoi, Rika, and Shiho in the train on the way home.
Rika wakes up and asks about Kakoi. When she hears which station, she can only nod. It's an expensive area to live in, and he'd been wearing nice clothing. She thinks Kakoi is a bit like Katsura. Shiho is brusque. Though he doesn't see a similarity, it's awkward to think that he possibly felt something positive towards Kakoi because of such a similarity. She gets a text message from her sempai, asking about Kakoi. Apparently most of the girls at the go-kon had been targeting Kakoi. Shiho comments that he sensed it as well, that they'd been so totally desperate even though he didn't give them the time of day. Rika replies that it can't be helped, that's kind of how it is when you like someone. Shiho feels bad because Rika knows the feeling as well. He, too, remembers it far too well.
Shiho gets a text message right about when he gets home from Kakoi, asking if he'd gotten home safely and saying good night. Shiho hesitates, but calls Katsura up. Shiho tells Katsura that the go-kon was 70% bad and 30% okay, so overall rather unpleasant. Shiho mentions that Katsura was brought up, that he is popular with the girls. He thanks Katsura for choosing him even though there were so many people who liked him. Katsura bitches that he won't be able to sleep from excitement after hearing something like that. He tells Shiho to take responsibility. When Shiho asks how, Katsura tells him to say something dirty. Shiho responds by saying "adult video." Katsura complains that he didn't mean something like that. They say good night and hang up.
Shiho meets with Kakoi at the university several times over the winter, after exams and with not much to do at school. It's very easy being with Kakoi, who isn't super talkative or positive. Kakoi shows him around campus. At one point Shiho stares at some travel pamphlets, which prompts Kakoi to ask if he's planning to go on a trip. Shiho says he isn't, but he was looking because Katsura had mentioned wanting to on atrip somewhere with Shiho after graduation. When Shiho asked where, Katsura told him that he'd like to go an uninhabited island with food, water, toilet and bath, and a double bed. Back in the present, Kakoi and Shiho talk about school trips. Kakoi asks if Shiho had ever traveled overseas. Shiho hadn't, but Kakoi had. He wants to go to the Virgin Islands. Shiho asks if there's something like a World Treasure there, but Kakoi says he was drawn by the name of the islands. Shiho thinks Kakoi's joke is beyond lame, and says so. Kakoi doesn't want to go during the peak season as he wants to avoid crowds. When Shiho points out that some people like crowds, Kakoi is surprised that Shiho would say something like that since Shiho doesn't like people. He thinks Shiho has a few people he cares about and the rest are meaningless to him. Shiho agrees that Kakoi is right, but thinks it's not really a good trait. Kakoi, on the other hand, does. Shiho is very clear and decisive. He knows what's important to him and sticks with it.
A random student passes by and invites Kakoi to join a snowboarding trip during winter break. Kakoi declines, and Shiho is amazed at how many people come up to talk to Kakoi while they walk around. And how Kakoi deals with everyone with the same low intensity. He doesn't think Kakoi would care if everyone in the world disappeared. Shiho wonders what kind of job would fit a strange guy like Kakoi. Kakoi thinks Shiho is the strange one. Shiho protests, saying he'd been scolded for saying he didn't want to meet new people. Shiho admits that it may not be a good thing, but it's his personality after all. Kakoi thinks that the person who scolded Shiho must like Shiho a lot. Shiho can't hide his surprise at Kakoi's adroitness. When he asks Kakoi how he knew, Kakoi responds that Shiho would only talk about such a serious matter to someone close to him. It didn't seem to be his parents or Rika from Shiho's attitude. And Shiho's expression changed very clearly. Kakoi could tell that Shiho was talking about the person he liked. Kakoi also surmises that that person is much older than Shiho, because that person has enough life experience to give Shiho such advice. He suggests that Shiho take such good advice derived from experience. Shiho tells Kakoi that he's beyond strange, he's just plain unknowable.
Katsura remembered Kakoi from high school. Kakoi had been in the first class Katsura had been in charge of. He remembers being embarrassed that he couldn't read Kakoi's unusual last name when he took roll the first time. Kakoi had been good-looking, steady, somehow fully formed. He thought Kakoi would have a perfect life. A good university, a good school, a pretty wife, a nice house, the whole nine yards. He'd manage to navigate life without making bad mistakes. At least, that was Katura's impression of Kakoi. He is amused that Kakoi and Shiho have become friends, as they make an interesting combination. Shiho objects to the "friends" bit, partly because they are too far apart in age. Katsura thinks it's a good thing to be friends with people from different stages in life, personalities, whatever. Katsura himself exchanges text messages with a 46-year-old truck driver. He'd gone driving in the middle of the night to take a break from making exams. He started talking with the truck driver while spacing out with a cup of coffee at a service area off the freeway. They got along so they had exchanged addresses and have been corresponding since then. Katsura looks kindly at Shiho and comments that Shiho will have the enjoyment of learning of such things from now on. Wanting to change the subject, Shiho asks how Katsura's high school years were. Katsura tells Shiho that he was stupid back then. When Shiho asks for more details, Katsura says he dyed his hair blonde, he wore his uniform badly, he stayed out all night and slept at school all day. If Shiho had been in his class Shiho would've never spoken to him. He's glad he's older than Shiho.
Shiho thinks about the fact that despite all the bad that Katsura mentions, Kastura had truly fallen in love with someone, and that someone had fallen in love with Katsura. They must have been very happy at the time. Though there was lots of pain and regret that came afterwards, that doesn't negate that love. And there is a little boy who is the product of that love. Shiho can never be a part of that.
Just a few days to the end of the year, Shiho goes to Kakoi's house to return a book he'd borrowed. In the middle of Kakoi's large living room is a huge 10,000+ jigsaw puzzle of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper." Kakoi was doing it out of boredom. He asks if Shiho wants to help, but Shiho can't begin to know where to start. Kakoi asks Shiho what he did for Christmas. Shiho honestly responds that he had cake with his family, then adds that Kakoi's question is like a bad guidance counselor's interview. Kakoi laughs and says that the person Shiho likes must be very happy, since Shiho is so straightforward and guileless. Shiho doesn't know. Instead, he asks Kakoi if he has a driver's license. Kakoi replies that he does. Shiho asks if he drives a Ferrari or a Mercedes. Kakoi replies that he doesn't. Shiho then asks if Kakoi ever drives fast down a freeway at night and stop at service areas. Kakoi says he's never done that, commenting that Shiho's question is quite concrete. Shiho watches Kakoi fit one more piece into the puzzle without any hesitation. When Shiho comments that it seems like magic, Kakoi laughs a bit embarrassed. Shiho had never seen Kakoi look like that before.
As Kakoi walks Shiho to the train station, Shiho asks what Kakoi will do with the puzzle when it's done. Kakoi says he will break it up and throw it away. He's buying the fun of putting it together, if he wants a picture he'll buy a picture. Shiho blurts out that Kakoi is a dreadful person. Kakoi responds, but the sounds are erased by the passing train. Kakoi wishes Shiho a good year and leaves.
Four days into the new year Shiho gets a call from Katsura. Shiho had gone to his paternal grandparent's house for the holiday. Katsura had gone home as well, surprised at how old his parents had become. Shiho finds out that Katsura has an older sister, who has kids. Katsura wants to go out visit a shrine for the New Year. He suggests they go to Meiji Jingu, but Shiho does not want to go anywhere famous with lots of people around. He instead suggests they go to the shrine near Kakoi's house.
They meet at the shrine. It has nice ambience. Shiho had been curious about the place where Kakoi had played as a child. After they pray at the shrine, Kakoi asks what Shiho had prayed for. Shiho replies that he prayed that Minatsu is able to make friends at the preschool she will be attending soon. Katsura comments that Shiho is such a big brother. Kakoi's prayer was that all of his students manage to get somewhere they wanted to go, be it university or junior college or vocational school or whatever. Shiho comments that Katsura is such a teacher. Katsura agrees that he is indeed a teacher. He wonders if he'll get scolded for such impudence for giving only 100 yen for such a prayer. They get their fortunes and leave. Shiho is caught up by the sight of the indistinct street lights lining the street, when Katsura grabs his arm and kisses him on the lips. Shiho struggles to get away but can't. He tells Katsura to die when he's finally let go. Katsura doesn't think it's particularly something to be guilty about, but Shiho objects that they are in god's garden. Katsura admires the turn of phrase, but Shiho claims it's nothing special.
Katsura kisses Shiho suddenly.
Shiho meets up with Kakoi a little while afterwards at a neighborhood family restaurant. Kakoi excitedly announces that he's finished the puzzle. Shiho mentions that he's finished it quickly. Kakoi says the most important part fit just perfectly. Shiho asks if Kakoi's broken it up already. Kakoi looks at Shiho in pity and says he hasn't yet. He's going to now. Kakoi explains that there were three pieces, Shiho, Rika, and Katsura. Kakoi had noticed both Shiho and Rika react when Katsura's name was mentioned, so he thought something was up. He first came up with the idea that Rika liked Katsura and Shiho liked Rika. But he didn't sense any dislike for Katsura from Shiho, and Shiho and Rika were clearly nothing more than childhood friends.
Shiho stares at Kakoi's mouth, dazed. The rest of the world fades away, with only Kakoi's voice remaining. Kakoi continues on, talking about how though Shiho doesn't care much for people, there was a very intense presence in Shiho's life. Someone older, with a car and probably lived alone. How did it connect with Katsura? Acquaintance, friend, parent...lover. Kakoi bangs his hand on the table, that he hadn't even imagined that Katsura and Shiho could be lovers. In his eyes Shiho could see a joy of destroying something in Kakoi's eyes. Kakoi seemed broken to Shiho. Kakoi speaks on, saying he didn't need another piece. He saw Shiho and Katsura at the shrine at New Years. Shiho asks what it has to do with Kakoi. He asks what Kakoi wants to do. Kakoi responds that it was a puzzle that he enjoyed solving. He likes to piece together the puzzle of other people's lives and had been bored with the rather simple people around him. Shiho had been a challenge for him. He assures Shiho that he won't tell Shiho's parents. He's not into destroying people's lives. Shiho calls him horrible. Kakoi replies that Shiho is as well. He had asked Rika if Shiho was dating someone. She had laughed and told him no. He felt sorry that she'd been the only one left out.
Shiho jumps up and turns around to find Rika sitting in the next booth. Rika gets up and leaves the restaurant. Shiho follows her and apologizes. Rika asks if it what Kakoi said is true. Shiho admits that it is. Rika unlocks her bike chain and gets on. When Shiho calls Rika's name, she says that she doesn't understand. She doesn't understand why she had to be told something like this from a stranger. She sounds lost. Her hands gripping the handles are white. Shiho can't say a thing as she bikes off.
Shiho had known that he'd need to tell Rika eventually. But he'd put it off to some later date, afraid of messing everything up. Of being scorned by Rika. He keeps going around in circles, wondering what to do, as he walks to school. He goes to the staff room. He wants to tell Katsura everything. But when he sees Katsura working hard in his teacher's role, he gives up. He can't tell Katsura while Katsura is so swamped with work. There's an area cordoned off for students to wait and call for their teachers. It's a barrier, and he can't go any further. So he leaves. That night Katsura calls. He thought he'd seen Shiho at the staff room and asks if Shiho had something for him. Shiho lies that he hadn't gone to the staff room, then cuts off the conversation by saying he's tired and hangs up. He turns off his phone. He tells himself to buck up. He just has to avoid Kakoi and apologize to Rika. He needs to settle things himself. He's not going to be destroyed.
The next day Shiho goes to Rika's house. Rika's mom tells Shiho that Rika isn't feeling well so she's staying home. Shiho goes to school, looking at the low, gray sky and thinking how black it all was. He thinks that it's the black winter, that swallows up even the dreams of a warm spring in those thick clouds.
While walking in the hallway between classes at school, Katsura passes Shiho. He whispers to Shiho to come to him after school. Shiho doesn't respond. He has no intention of going to see Katsura until his problem has been settled. He rushes to the train station after school to see Rika. After just managing to get on the train before the door closes, someone grabs his hand. It's Katsura. He'd chased after Shiho, mad at being ignored. They bitch at each other a bit. Katsura demands to know what's going on. At that moment the train arrives at the next stop. When Katsura glances outside in irritation, he freezes. He rasps out, "Youko-san," in a voice Shiho's never heard before. Shiho follows Katsura's gaze and sees a line waiting on the other side of the platform. Shiho doesn't know who Katsura is looking at specifically, but he knows who it must be. Shiho pushes Katsura out of the train. Katsura manages not to fall. When he turns around the door is closing. He mouths Shiho's name. Shiho, silent, shakes his head. When the train starts to move, he leans against the door. He sticks earphones in his ear and turns up the music on his ipod. He wants to erase that "Youko-san" from his brain. He hadn't want to know her name. Shiho wonders why she is in Tokyo. Is she here to get back with Katsura? And Katsura had recognized her from seeing her back, in an instant. He wonders if he and Katsura will break up. Will he regret having pushed Katsura out to her? Probably. But he knows he would've done it no matter what. He loves Katsura more than himself. Even if he regrets it for a hundred years, that regret can't overcome the intensity of that one moment.
Shiho gets off at a random stop since he might end up just continuing to go back and forth on that train otherwise. He walks around with his head down, crying. It begins to snow. He feels horribly alone. When he comes to an intersection he looks up and sees Kakoi. Shiho realizes that he's near the university. He'd unconsciously gotten off at a station he knew. How stupid of him. He takes the earphones out of his ear, and the world around him comes into focus. Kakoi comments that Shiho is the center of attention, walking around crying. Shiho wipes his tears and asks who is looking. Kakoi responds that everyone is. Shiho says they are all strangers. He doesn't care. Kakoi asks what Shiho would do if Katsura disappeared from Shiho's small world. Shiho replies that it wouldn't matter. He loves Katsura, and will continue to love him. His feelings aren't affected by Katsura's presence or absence. He tells Kakoi that nothing Kakoi does can destroy a person's feelings. He may be able to put a crack in a relationship, but he can't touch their feelings. He accuses Kakoi of not having a clue about the importance of a connection with someone else forged in desperation. Kakoi shouldn't act all wise and look down on such people. Kakoi smiles wryly at Shiho yelling at him while crying. He reaches out towards Shiho's eyes, but his hand is smacked away. Rika slides in between Shiho and Kakoi. She tells Kakoi not to touch Shiho. She asks that he never show his face to them again. She grabs Shiho's arm and walks away. Rika admits that she wasn't sick or anything. She was tired of sleeping and wanted to move around, so she'd gone to a tennis court near Shiho's future university. Rika notes that Shiho is crying. Shiho agrees. She feels like she hasn't seen Shiho cry in ten years. Shiho agrees that might be true. She then says she should've punched Kakoi. Shiho calls her an idiot. She asks why, and Shiho touches her hair and says he doesn't want to see her punch anyone. He strokes her hair, then embraces her. Rika tell Shiho that she still doesn't understand. She is mad, she feels betrayed, but she can't stand seeing Shiho cry. It hurts her. Shiho thanks her, and apologizes. She tells Shiho that he ought to apologize more. Shiho says sorry again and again. Rika says she won't forgive Shiho. And that she loves him.
When Shiho approaches his home after seeing Rika home, Katsura is standing outside. His head is white with snow. Katsura says "You're late" when he sees Shiho. His teeth are chattering. He then says he's going to die. Katsura then says he has a lot to say, but he'll freeze to death if they stand there any longer. He tells Shiho, "let's go." When Shiho asks where, Katsura responds, his house, where else?
Katsura waits for Shiho outside Shiho's house.
They take a taxi to Katsura's house. Katsura immediately turns on the heating and the heated carpet and draws the bath. He makes Shiho take a bath first. When Shiho comes out, Katsura asks if he's actually warmed up with such a short bath. He puts his cold hands on Shiho's cheeks. He brings his forehead to rest against Shiho's forehead and whispers thanks. He was able to talk with his teacher properly. They'd talked about all kinds of things, but nothing he has to hide from Shiho. Shiho believes him. He drops light kisses on Shiho's forehead, on the corners of his eyes. When Shiho closes his eyes Katsura pinches his cheeks. He tells Shiho he can't fall asleep. He demands that Shiho confess everything. So Shiho explains the whole thing with Kakoi. Katsura had listened impassively. When Shiho finishes he goes to his closet and takes out his coat. He's going to go bury Kakoi in the snow. Shiho tells him he can't do it because he's a teacher. Katsura says he will punch Kakoi *because* he's a teacher. Shiho admits that if Katsura punches Kakoi out of some concern for Kakoi it might be true, but not in this case. Katsura then says he doesn't need to be a teacher. He'll punch Kakoi then quit. Or quit then punch Kakoi. Shiho tells Katsura to stop talking nonsense. Katsura throws down his coat and explodes because he hadn't known anything until it was all over. He can't do *nothing*!! He slams his closet door shut and sits heavily on his bed. He puts his elbows on his knees and murmurs that he's pathetic. Shiho asks if he's crying. Katsura replies that he's so pathetic he can't even cry. Shiho crouches down and looks up into Katsura's face. He tells Katsura that he's adorable. He repeats it, and says he loves Katsura. Katsura asks if Shiho is trying to make him beyond recovery. Shiho retorts that Katsura always calls *him* adorable. Katsura argues that he's thirty already! He's on his way downhill, he can only grow older and become some old man. He can see Shiho having lots of new experiences and learning fun things and meeting cute girls. When Shiho asks what he's talking about, Katsura replies that it's his anxiety talking. Shiho tells him it won't happen, but Katsura objects that Shiho can't know that! Shiho asks if being anxious means Katsura is unhappy. Katsura asked Shiho to make him happy, right? Shiho's been trying to do that. He looks up into Katsura's hurt face and asks if he's making Katsura happy. Katsura agrees that he is. He buries his head in Shiho's shoulder. He declares that he feels like bursting into tears. Shiho invites him to, but Katsura says he doesn't want to. He gets up and says he will take a bath. He tells Shiho to call his house to say he will be staying over.
Obviously, they have sex. They comment on how they are only ten days from graduation. Shiho praises Katsura for lasting so long. When Katsura finally enters Shiho, he calls out in happiness, "Ooh, feels so good! I love you Shiho, the most in the whole entire universe!" Unfortunately it isn't all pleasure for Shiho. Katsura apologizes that Shiho is in pain while he's in heaven. When Shiho asks what being in heaven feels like, Katsura responds that it's indescribable, that's why it's like being in heaven. Shiho wraps his arms around Katsura and tells him to take him there one of these days. To heaven, to hell, or to a service area at night.
Shiho gets a call from Kakoi on his first day of university. He thinks on it, and decides to answer. Kakoi sounds totally normal. Shiho can't get mad. He won't ever really like Kakoi, but he probably can't hate the guy. Turns out Kakoi is in the Virgin Islands. He tells Shiho that there are many mail boxes for shell companies, as it is a well-known tax haven. Their talk is interrupted when Katsura grabs the phone from Shiho and yells at Kakoi. He says some stupid and random things and hangs up. He tells Shiho to refuse calls from Kakoi, but Shiho says it's his phone. Katsura had his first day's ceremonies that day as well. He snuck away after the main events and will go back to school. He brushes off the sakura petals and they quietly exchange a promise to meet that night.
The rest of the novel is made up of the moment Katsura fell in love with his teacher, and then their conversation ten years later after Shiho had pushed Katsura out of the train. They are both terribly sorry about messing up each other's lives. He offers the passbook with the money for Yuuki. She tries to refuse it, but he begs her to take it. He knows it's totally for his own selfish satisfaction. She agrees to hold onto it. She and her husband had planned on telling Yuuki when he was an adult, so she would let him decide what to do with the money. She asks Katsura if he will meet with Yuuki if Yuuki wants to. If he can accept any harsh words Yuuki may have for him. He will gladly do so. She then asks him not to put any more money into the account. She wants him to use his money for himself. She asks if he has someone he loves. She asks what kind of person it is. Katsura replies that Shiho is adorable, even though he's rather rude and quick-tempered and stubborn. Katsura loves him so much he doesn't want to let him go anywhere. Shiho is stronger and gentler than Katsura. He know everything yet chooses to be with Katsura. Shiho has saved him. (This is, of course, all said without reference to gender as Japanese can do.) The teacher starts crying. She's so happy to be able to hear Katsura talk about the person he loves so joyfully. He grips her hand and tells her he's glad he was able to see her. And finally says good-bye to her properly.
As he waits for Shiho to come home in the snow. He thinks over his anxiety over messing up Shiho's life from such a young age. He remembers Shiho's face as he shook his head in the train after pushing Katsura out. He feels his hand warm just from remembering grabbing Shiho's slender wrist. He knows he can't ever choose to part from Shiho. He looks up at the sky and marvels that such beautiful snow can fall from such dark clouds. And continues to wait, holding onto the warmth in his palm.
 It is true, it's based on some Chinese thing called Wu Xing that seems to divide everything up and assigns elements/qualities to them. Only "seishun" has become associated with a time in a person's life, however.