Chapter 56: Pre-, Present
The chapter begins with the narration: “Today is the second semester's closing ceremony.” In the classroom, a male student is nervously approaching Saeka, saying, “Umm, sorry, but... that's my desk, so...” She looks up, muttering, “Huh? Oh, the desk...” She starts to stand, but he misinterprets her sour expression as aggression, and tells her to go ahead and use the desk as she'd like. He hurries away, and Saeka wonders what he's doing as Nori arrives. Nori jokes that her “big sister” glare made him apologize to her. Saeka tells Nori not to call her that, thinking about how she's been sulking. Nori looks out the window, wondering if Kyou is already where he was off to. Kyou left the night before on a sudden overseas trip with his father. Nori wonders where, other than New York, Kyou may be going, and Saeka thinks that the only message he's sent her said that he'd be gone for a while and would trust her to get his report card. Speaking of which... Saeka suddenly jumps and yells, “Since when did I become your guardian!?” Nori jokes that it's easier for the school to entrust [Kyou's report card] to Saeka. Saeka points out that, if she wanted to, she could open it and look at his report card, right? That doesn't seem like the responsible way to handle things. Saeka starts to consider that this may be a ploy to lure her into looking at the report card, but Nori interrupts her internal monologue, saying, “Since Kyou-chan has been so busy, maybe that's why he wanted to hold off on starting to go out with you.” Saeka recalls telling Nori that Kyou had decided to wait before starting to date and that Yanaidu had quit his job. Saeka sighs and puts her head down, saying Yanaidu must be too busy and hasn't contacted her. Saeka starts worrying that her wavering in deciding between him and Kyou caused problems for Yanaidu.
Saeka remembers that Nori has been planning her Christmas date with Haruna, and asks her if she's decided what they're doing. Nori responds by taking out some overly-detailed itineraries, having planned everything out to the minute. Nori tells her that she held herself back from taking her plans out while Saeka was sulking, and Saeka comments that Nori must really have been itching to get those papers out. Nori shows Saeka the various possible schedules, involving trains, buses, out-of-the-way spots... Which does Saeka think is best? Saeka figures that just making out with him would be fine, and Nori continues to wonder which plan would make Haruna happiest. Saeka thinks that any of them would be good, knowing that Nori is looking so forward to it. Suddenly, Nori asks when Kyou-chan will be back, and Saeka says she thinks in three or four days. Probably not in time for Christmas Eve. Nori jumps up and says that they'll go look together after school. Saeka asks what they're looking for, and Nori declares, “Christmas presents! From me to Haruna and from you to Kyou-chan!” Saeka brushes that idea off, since they aren't actually even going out. Nori asks if Saeka has a committee meeting, and Saeka says yes. Nori says she'll head home for the time being, and they'll make a plan to meet. Nori rushes out, saying that it's been a while since she's made a date with Saeka. Saeka tries to protest as Nori leaves, then just smiles and says, “Oh, well,” thinking that Nori seems excited about picking out Haruna's gift. And so, a long and eventful second semester came to an end, and winter break arrived.
On her way to meet Nori, Saeka spots Haruna looking hard at something. Window shopping? She calls his name, and tells him that she has plans with Nori. She asks if he's looking for something for Nori, and he replies, “... Yeah.” Saeka suggests that he's wondering what seems like something Nori would like, and to choosing the thing that would make her the happiest. She realizes that Nori and Haruna are trying to do the same thing, and thinks that it must be nice to be sharing those feelings with your partner. Taking on a lighter tone, Saeka tells him that Nori has been looking forward to their Christmas date to an almost annoying degree, and has sketched out plans from A to F. Haruna pauses, looking a little sad, and responds, “... I see.” Saeka suggests that they challenge their limits with a cold weather bicycling date. Haruna turns the suggestion down. With that, he excuses himself, and Saeka wishes him luck on finding Nori's gift. She notices that he seems a little down; on the other hand, he does usually come across like that... He turns back and says, “Saeka-san, I don't know all of the details, but please believe in and wait for Kyou-chan.” He turns and walks away, and she clenches her fist, seeming a little upset. Haruna and Kyou seem to have gone from not seeming very friendly to being friends. “Wait for him...” Is there anything she can do but wait? Something catches her eye in a window, and she sees a tie that she thinks would look good on Kyou. But, he already has a closet of those. She wonders what Kyou-chan would want, and looks up at the sky, trying to work out the time difference between them. You need to keep thinking about who you're getting the gift for to be able to find a present. While Saeka is thinking, Haruna spots something, and hurries to get it.
Nori finds Saeka, and runs over to her. Saeka asks how Yuu is doing, and Nori tells her that their mother is staying home with him. Saeka chuckles and tells her that she ran into Haruna earlier. Nori yells, “Eh, really!? Where!?” Saeka tells her that it was west of the train station, and Nori stresses that it seems they'll have to be careful not to run into him today. Nori tells her that she's been having trouble deciding what to get him: Would it be better to get a 3 liter or a 5 liter rice cooker? Saeka rejects both ideas. Nori announces that she's going to the ladies' room to wash the dirt off her hands (as Saeka questions how that happened). Saeka muses that the joy of receiving a gift might be that it's proof that the giver was thinking of you. She checks her phone, and sees that she has a message from Kyou. She gets sort of nervously excited to open it, and sees that it says, “I've arrived in America. I'm telling you first, Saeka.” She scrunches up her face, then yells, “What's with those short sentences!? Are you kidding me!?” Then, she pictures him, and thinks that one little message like this has made her really stupidly happy. Nori sees her, and comes over to tease her about what she's mewling over: Hmm, is that from Kyou-chan? Saeka tries to play it off, but when Nori realizes she's right, she takes offense. Kyou didn't send her a message; what sort of cold-heated lifelong friend is he!? Saeka attempts to calm her down, and Nori figures that there's no helping it, if it's Saeka [he wanted to contact first]. Cheering right up, she shouts, “All right! Let's go look for presents!! For Haruna and Kyou-chan!” Blushing, Saeka agrees to the plan, thinking she'll try to find what would make Kyou the happiest. And Christmas in their town quietly draws near...
Haruna arrives home, and says that it's getting pretty late. He looks around, and sees that his uncle must be off somewhere far away again. He takes a little package out of his bag and places it on the desk, then rests his head on his arms. His phone rings, and he doesn't recognize where the call is coming from. He answers, and Takatsuki greets him on the other end. She asks if he's doing all right, and he mumbles that he is before asking her what's going on. She tells him that she's calling on urgent business, and that Mio collapsed. As Haruna stands up in surprise, Takatsuki says, “Please come back here as soon as possible.”