Chapter 68:

Welcomed Farewell

Couple That Can't Touch

In the blink of an eye, the third term was over. Even though only a couple of weeks remained before graduation, practically everyone in the third year started talking about throwing a graduation party, apart from the usual ceremony. The enthusiasm was such that the student council had to bring it to the table. Everyone thought it was too late for it to get organized but, a few days later, Asuka-sensei confirmed there was going to be a party right after the ceremony.

The excitement only lasted a day, however. An earthquake hit the city on Saturday night. It was strong, but the school buildings seemed to be fine. Still, we had to wait until Tuesday to go back.

As the first class of the day started, Asuka-sensei spoke through the speakers,

"Good morning, I hope everyone is alright. Although we experienced an earthquake two days ago, I want to assure you that all of the buildings in the school underwent rigorous safety checks. Everything is in a perfect state, except for the gymnasium. Even though there wasn't much general damage, the most affected spots were such that the safety organization ordered its demolition."

The entire classroom remained silent.

"The good news is that we had been planning to renovate the gymnasium for years, but we didn't have the funds to do so. However, yesterday, the Araki family approached us, willing to invest any funds necessary for repairs. We told them about the renovation and they were happy to invest in that as well."

Everyone in the classroom looked at me and clapped.

I had no idea about it.

Asuka-sensei continued, "The bad news is that this will take months and the plan was to organize the graduation party in the gymnasium. I'm really sorry for this, but I have no choice but to cancel it. Thank you for your understanding."

The classroom burst into upset murmurs and the teacher had to intervene.

Classes continued until the end of the day. The student council had an emergency meeting to discuss alternatives for the party. Practically everyone in the third year stayed to see the outcome.

Once it was over, all of the third-year class presidents headed to the principal's office. Asuka-sensei rejected most of the proposals, saying that they didn't align with the school's principles. However, after the continuous pressure, she agreed to throw the party on the soccer field. Cheerfully, everyone went home.

Finally, the day arrived. Father drove me to school. He parked and we walked to the soccer field on the other side of the school.

"Mr. Araki!" Mr. Kozue shouted from where he sat among many other parents—who instantly looked at Father when they heard his name.

"Well, I'm going to take a seat," Father said. "I'll take a lot of photos, so smile."

I smirked. "Sure."

I headed to the other side of the field, where all of the third-year students were waiting for the ceremony to begin. Suzuka, Hisaki, Sae-san, Kawahara-san, Tarō-san, Hashimoto-san, and Rem-san were already there. Everyone wore their uniforms as formally as possible.

"Are you ready?" Suzuka asked me as I arrived, standing on the field.

"I am," I answered.

"Isn't it weird that we are about to graduate?" Sae-san asked.

"You bet," Hisaki replied. "It feels kind of surreal."

"And the exams for university are only one week away," Rem-san added.

"Don't remind me about it," Hashimoto-san replied.

"Come on, I'm sure everyone will do great," Tarō-san grinned. "Right, Enko?"

"Statistically, someone here might fail—"

"Just say you think so too!" Tarō-san whispered at her.

"Oh. I think so, too."


Shimamura-sensei spoke through the microphone, "The ceremony will commence in five minutes. Students, please stand in your assigned spot on the grandstand."

"I guess it's time," Hashimoto-san smiled.

She grabbed Rem-san's hand and Tarō-san grabbed Kawahara-san's hand. Since Hisaki and Sae-san were in different classes, they only hugged. Suzuka and I wanted to hug as well, but we decided not to take the risk.

Sae-san and I walked together to the grandstand. She climbed to the second to last step, while I stayed at the very bottom. More and more people arrived on the grandstand until it was full. Then the ceremony began.

Asuka-sensei arrived in front of us and approached the microphone.

"Families, students, welcome to this generation's farewell ceremony. This is an exciting, yet touching moment for all of us, including teachers. After teaching them for three years, after you took care of them for eighteen years, they have bloomed. Many experiences have led to this moment. Whether good or bad, they all teach us something. Not only do we teach our students, but they teach us many things as well. Now, after years of hard work, it's time. Students, you've officially graduated from Kasen High School."

Everyone on the field clapped. I could even hear some sobs next to me.

"Thank you for trusting Kasen to help you build your future," Asuka-sensei added.

A teacher approached the microphone and lifted it to move it away. Asuka-sensei stood in front of us in the middle and everyone began to take photos. I made sure to look at Father's camera.

A minute later, we walked off the grandstand in an orderly manner and took a seat in the empty chairs. We waited for our names to be called to walk to the front and grab our diplomas. Because of my name, I was one of the first ones. I stood up once I heard my name and approached Asuka-sensei. She handed me the diploma and I posed for a photo as she did. She then smiled at me before I walked back to my seat.

The ceremony ended about an hour later. Then we were asked to plant some trees as part of the ecological activities and so that we could come back years later to see them as mature trees.

Since we were coming back in the evening, we didn't stay much longer. Father and I drove back home and he showed me the photos he took. There wasn't anything to do during the afternoon, so I merely waited in my room, playing video games and reflecting on the graduation: the last day of high school.

I got ready two hours before the party started, in case there were any problems. Fortunately, my suit fit perfectly. I struggled a little with the tie, but Father helped me with it.

He drove me to the school and we arrived fifteen minutes early. Since he wasn't going to stay, he stopped in front of the entrance.

"Have fun," he smirked.

I smirked back and nodded. I got out of the car and he drove away. Alone, I stood at the entrance. I had offered for my Father and I to pick Suzuka up, but she decided to come with Hashimoto-san and Rem-san.

One minute later, Kawahara-san and Tarō-san arrived. They got out of the car driven by Mrs. Kawahara and approached me. Kawahara-san wore a brown dress, with her hair tied up into a bun. Tarō-san wore a suit like mine, but gray instead of dark blue and a bow tie instead of a normal tie.

"You look nice," he said to me.

"Thanks. You both look great as well."

"Thank you," Kawahara-san replied.

"Where's everyone else?" Tarō-san asked.

About to answer, I saw Hisaki and Sae-san walking towards us. "Speaking of the devil."

Sae-san wore a black dress, quite a bit shorter than Kawahara-san's, with her hair tied up into a ponytail. Hisaki wore a white buttoned shirt, also with a bow tie, and white pants.

"Nice suits," he said to Tarō-san and me. "K-Kawahara? You look… pretty."

"Thank you."

"How do I look, Koji-kun?" Sae-san asked me.

"Very good."


"Why are you asking him?" Hisaki grumbled.

"It shouldn't be a problem since you're staring at Kawahara."

"I already told you that you look fantastic!"

"Is that all?"

"What do you mean 'is that all'?!"

As they argued, I noticed someone getting out of a car in front of the entrance. It was Rem-san, wearing a cyan dress, with her hair straightened down. She gave Hashimoto-san a hand to get out of the car. She wore a white dress, with her hair swept to the side and its ends curled up.

Then they helped Suzuka get out. Her heels were brown. She wore a sangria red dress that didn't cover her shoulders. Then I saw her red hair. Instead of the long hair I knew, most of it was gone. It had become shoulder-length.

"K-Koji?" Suzuka called me, already standing in front of me. "It's a bit embarrassing if you stare for too long."

"Sorry. You look gorgeous."

She blushed. "Thanks. You look incredible as well."

After staring at each other for a moment, I asked, "Why did you get a haircut?"

"Why do you think?"

"Hashimoto-san and Rem-san convinced you."

"More like they did it without my permission."


"In our defense," Hashimoto-san said, "she needed a radical change to impress you. And we already knew she was going to look stunning."

"How did you know?" I asked.

"She used to have short hair in the past," Rem-san answered.

"Long hair was annoying for sports," Suzuka added. "Since I couldn't do them anymore, there was no reason to keep it short. I must admit I've missed the comfort of having it short."

"I see," I replied.

"What are we waiting for? Let's have some fun!" Hashimoto-san shouted.

She grabbed Rem-san's hand and pulled her away. Tarō-san and Kawahara-san held their hands, just as Hisaki and Sae-san. They all walked away.

As Suzuka and I followed them, I noticed Suzuka limped a little.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes. It's just that I haven't worn heels ever since I twisted my ankle."

I slightly lifted my elbow. "In that case, wrap your arm around mine."

She stared at me, surprised. She then smiled before wrapping her arm around mine. We continued walking through the bridge.

"You know, I've always felt lucky to have you," Suzuka said. "But it's times like these that I realize how incredibly lucky I am."

I smirked. "You read my mind."

We arrived at the field, where dozens of people were already chatting under canopy tents, eating, or dancing to the music. The eight of us stayed together as we ate, then Hashimoto-san and Rem-san walked away to dance, followed by Tarō-san and Kawahara-san.

As the minutes went by, the sky got cloudier and cloudier. We checked the weather app and saw that rain was forecasted at the coast of the city, which was on the opposite side.

Knowing the party could end prematurely, Suzuka and I headed to the dancing crowd to join them, just to be hit by drops of water falling from the sky. The drops instantly became a downpour and everyone ran towards the school building. However, Suzuka's ankle twisted and she fell to the grass. I quickly helped her get up, but she could barely walk. I crouched down and slid my arm behind her legs to push them up and lift her. I put my other arm behind her back, not caring about touching her skin.

I tried to cover her from the rain with my body as I carried her into the building. I gently lowered her for her to stand up.

"I'm sorry, I forgot you were struggling to walk and didn't help you."

Suzuka's face was insanely red. "D-Don't worry. It wasn't your fault."

"You won't be able to use your heels anymore."

I crouched down and took my shoes and socks off.

"What are you doing?" Suzuka asked.

"Wear my shoes. They aren't the most comfortable but it'll be better than walking barefoot."

"No, no. Seriously, I'm fine with that."

"One of us has to walk barefoot, so I prefer it be me."

She stared at me for a moment before agreeing. I took her heels off and helped her put my shoes on.

"They fit surprisingly well," she said.


I stood up and looked around me to see a crowd gathered around us. As soon as I saw them, they looked away. Suzuka and I giggled.

"What now?" she asked.

"I don't know—"

"Students," Asuka-sensei's voice came through the speakers. "I know the situation became bad very fast. This storm isn't a typhoon, but the forecast says that it'll still be quite strong. However, we've already come up with a plan. Class presidents, please organize your classmates into four lines close to the parking lot. You'll receive further instructions in a few minutes."

After a moment of confusion, the class presidents began organizing everyone.

"I better go help Hisaki," Suzuka said. "See you in a bit."


Orderly, everyone walked through the hallways of the school until reaching the other side. I stood at the very back of the line of the class.

A couple of minutes later, Suzuka approached me.

"Are you done?" I asked.

She nodded. "But we don't know what else—"

"Look, buses!" someone at the front of the line shouted.


Everyone tried to see what was happening, but the class presidents quickly stopped them to avoid any chaos.

"Students," Asuka-sensei spoke through the speakers. "Four buses just arrived. Starting with class A, each class will get on a bus. A few teachers will approach you with umbrellas so that you don't get drenched. And don't worry, we're already telling your guardians about this. Have a fun evening, Kasen High School students."

The teachers didn't take long to arrive and class A's line slowly advanced.

Suddenly, someone put their hand on my shoulder. I turned around.

"Father?" I asked.

"Mr. Araki?" Suzuka also said.

"Good evening," he replied.

My brain quickly connected the dots. "You're behind this, aren't you?"


"How did you know a storm was coming?" Suzuka wondered.

"I saw the weather forecast when I arrived home after driving Koji here."

"You prepared all of this in less than two hours?" I asked.

"Indeed I did."

"Impressive," Suzuka replied. "And where are we going?"

He smirked. "Why don't you follow me?"

Puzzled, Suzuka and I followed him through the hallways. Only then did we notice he was holding two umbrellas. We arrived at the entrance of the building and he handed me one of the umbrellas. I opened it above Suzuka and I and followed Father. After walking through the short bridge and long path, we reached the entrance of the school. Father's car was parked in front, so we quickly hopped in.

"What's going on?" I asked.

Father took a moment to answer, "I rented a hall."

"Seriously?!" Suzuka replied.

Father nodded. "Let's wait for the buses to depart. We can talk, meanwhile."

"Actually," I said. "Suzuka twisted her ankle and can't wear her heels anymore, so I gave her my shoes. Can we go home for another pair?"

"Wouldn't it be better to go to Suzuka-san's house and grab shoes for her?"

"His shoes fit me quite well already," Suzuka answered. "And my house is farther away than yours. So it'll be faster to grab a pair for Koji."

"Understood," Father replied. "But I still want to wait for the buses to depart in case something happens."

"Sure," I said.

It took almost thirty minutes for the buses to drive out of the parking lot. Father drove behind them and, before we realized it, Suzuka and I fell asleep.

Father woke us up, already parked next to the house. Suzuka and I had already swapped bodies, so Suzuka put my shoes on and headed into the house with an umbrella. I helped her find the shoes through messages.

She walked out, holding the umbrella and a pair of sneakers with a pair of socks tucked into one of the shoes. She got in the car and gave me the socks and sneakers. I put them on and Father drove away.

We arrived at the hall a while later. It was huge and looked quite fancy. Suzuka and I stepped inside. The party had already started. People danced, stood next to the food, or sat at tables.

Looking at me, Suzuka offered me her hand. Gladly, I held it and we walked onto the dance floor. Unsure of what to do, I put my hands on Suzuka's shoulders and she put her hands on my waist. It felt a little weird, but we didn't care and began dancing. Or so we believed. We simply swung from left to right to the rhythm of the music.

"I love you," I said.

"I love you too," she replied.

We continued dancing for a couple of minutes before the music was cut for someone to speak through the microphone. It was one of the class presidents.

"Although the voting was cut short by the storm, we managed to save the boxes with your votes. We just finished counting them, so I'll announce the winners. The winners for the Best Couple of the Year goes to… Tarō-san and Kawahara-san!"

The majority of the people clapped, including Suzuka and I, who had voted for them. The spotlight lightened them up as they stood next to the food, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, Kawahara-san kissed Tarō-san, and everyone cheered even more.

Out of nowhere, Suzuka grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the dance floor.

"What are you doing?" I asked her, but she ignored me.

We stepped into an empty and dark hallway and saw light coming through a glass door. Suzuka opened it and we arrived at a balcony. Even though it still drizzled a little, we stood beneath the sky. It wasn't as full of stars as it had been when we were camping, but it was still pretty.

After staring at it for a moment, Suzuka and I turned to look at each other in the eyes. Slowly, our faces got closer until our lips met. It was a magical feeling, full of peace and warmth.

We kissed for a few seconds before moving our faces away and opening our eyes. We were back in our bodies. Sudden dizziness hit us, making us hug not to fall.

"Is the swapping over?" Suzuka wondered.

"I'm not sure, but something makes me think it is."

"I feel the same."

We kept hugging for a while until someone unexpectedly interrupted us.

"Sis!" Yu-tan shouted from the door, followed by someone shushing.

"Yu-tan?" Suzuka asked.

Then everyone else walked out from behind the wall: Suzuka's parents and Makoto-san, and Father and Otsune.

"Why is everyone here?" Suzuka wondered.

"We were invited an hour ago," Mrs. Kozue answered. "It's a miracle we made it on time."

"How long have you been watching?" I questioned.

"Enough to worry about you getting a cold."

That voice…

Mom walked out from behind everyone.

"Mom? You… came back."

"Well, I'm standing in front of you. Come here and give Mom a hug."

Without hesitation, I approached her and hugged her.

"I missed you," I said.

"I missed you more," she replied. "Suzuka-chan, come here as well. I've wanted to meet you for months."

She complied.

After hugging, Mom asked, "So, what is that 'swapping' you just mentioned?"

Suzuka and I glanced at each other before giggling.

"It's a long story," Suzuka answered.

"Well, we have a long evening ahead of us and I won't go anywhere. But let's get inside before you catch a cold."

"Sure," I smiled.

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