.Chapter 48: After School Coward
The chapter begins with Haruna messing with a camera. He hears his uncle's voice outside his room, and recognizes that he's talking to someone at work. Haruna's uncle looks into his room to tell him that he won't be around for dinner, then notices that it's changed. He asks him if his room got bigger, and Haruna explains that he cleared out the boxes because of a promise with Nori. His uncle is momentarily speechless, then looks away and says, “Well, it wasn't good to have those boxes lying around.” He turns and tells Haruna he's off, and that Haruna needs to get going to school. Haruna checks the time, then remembers something. He tries to yell to his uncle that the parent-teacher conference is scheduled for today, but he's already gone. Haruna looks concerned. Surely, his uncle won't forget the meeting tonight... will he!? He seemed to be in work mode, but... Haruna sighs and starts toward school, thinking again about the offer Mio made to let him stay in town for high school. He decided that from then on, more than it being about staying in town, it was important not to betray Nori. Taking Mio's offer would mean that he was continuing to deceive Nori. When Nori asked him if this room was still his, he realized it. He gave an adequate answer to smooth over the situation by telling her he would clear out the boxes, but he was still being dishonest with Nori. He can't keep this up; most likely, the limit is already in sight.
At that same time, at the high school... Nori finds herself between Saeka and Kyou, awkwardly eying each other. After they stand there for a bit without speaking, Kyou attempts to excuse himself and make a break for it, but Nori grabs him by the belt and pulls him back (while he protests). Nori welcomes Saeka back, and she replies, “I'm back, and good morning.” Kyou tells Nori to let go of him; wouldn't it be better if he left? Nori tugs his pants up with her hand and yells, “Kyou-chan is a dork!!” (I think the joke being that, with his pants hiked up, he is out of fashion.) Nori laughs, attempting to lighten the mood, but Kyou readjusts his pants and starts to leave. Saeka calls out, “Kyou-chan!” and he turns back. After another moment of silence, Saeka can't think of anything to say, and just tells him, “Sorry... Never mind.” She and Kyou both excuse themselves and run off in opposite directions, leaving Nori alone. She crosses her arms in front of herself and sighs, trying to think of what to do about this.
Later, the time for Haruna's parent-teacher conference arrives, and his uncle still hasn't shown. The counselor calls Haruna in, pointing out that it's time. She wonders if Haruna's guardian will be coming. What should they do? Haruna looks a little panicked, thinking that his uncle completely forgot about the meeting and that he doesn't have his cell phone number. He starts to apologize, and the counselor confirms that his guardian is his uncle, right? Yes... How should she put it? He seems sort of intimidating. He had to come into school before, right? When Haruna and Onohira were involved in something... Haruna looks away, thinking, “Yeah... he did.” He remembers how angry his uncle was afterward, about Haruna making him into the bad guy. Haruna explains, “Umm, that's not my uncle's fault, I...” and the counselor interrupts. She tells him that his uncle seemed very apologetic on his behalf, and Haruna looks shocked. He's a good uncle, isn't he? Just then, his uncle appears in the doorway, out of breath. He apologizes for being late, and the counselor suggests they get started. Haruna has a hint of a smile, thinking he can't believe it... The chapter skips to the two of them leaving school after the meeting, both looking sullen, with Haruna trailing a bit behind. (Some of the girls from his class are wondering if that's Haruna's father. He seems really young, but scary.) Haruna smiles wryly as he sees Kubo watching from around the corner, and calls him out. Seeming a little embarrassed, Kubo stammers a greeting to Haruna's uncle. Haruna's uncle simply replies, “I'm Haruna's uncle,” and Kubo introduces himself with a big smile. He starts to ramble about his close friendship with Haru-cha-... er, Haruna, and Haruna shuts him up by kicking him. He yells, “Why did you kick me!!” and Haruna replies, “Just because.” Haruna's uncle watches them a little sadly, and Kubo excuses himself. Once they're alone, Haruna says, “I'm sorry about today.” Continuing to walk ahead of Haruna, his uncle asks, “Haruna... is it all right? Are you honestly OK with that?” The chapter flashes back to the meeting, and Haruna saying that he'll be going to the high school division of his old middle school. Haruna doesn't respond, watching his uncle's back as he walks away.
At the high school, Nori receives a text message from Haruna, asking if she wants to get together. She responds that HR is running long, but they can after that. Haruna asks where he should meet her, and the chapter fast forwards to Haruna waiting at the gate of the high school as students pass by. Nori spots him out the window, and thinks, “Seriously!?” She gazes down at him for a moment, with an affectionate look. Some of the other girls from the class come to the window, and wonder who Haruna is. A middle school student, but he looks really cool. They wonder who he's waiting on, and if his girlfriend is someone they know. Nori is thinking, “Sorry... It's me!!” Haruna is playing with the camera he found at the beginning of the chapter, and he hears his name being called from the bushes. He looks over to see Nori crouching there, hiding her face with her bag, and wonders what she's doing. She motions Haruna over, and he crouches down next to her. She tells him to stop showing off so much, and he responds that he was just standing there. Nori didn't know that [meeting at the gate] would draw so much attention... Haruna thinks that it isn't a big deal, but he'll go if Nori doesn't like it. Nori responds that she doesn't dislike it! She was happy... Nori blushes, and Haruna puts his face between his knees, thinking that he'd like to kiss her now... Nori asks what they do now, and Haruna tells her, “Obviously, we're going on an after school date.” Blushing a little himself, he tells her to stand up. She follows suit, and he asks her to give him his hand. She stammers, “Here!?” but gives him her hand. They walk off together like that, as Saeka watches from the window, looking a little concerned (recalling that she saw Haruna talking to Mio in her car last chapter). A couple of girls from their class ask if that's Nori's boyfriend, and she looks a little proud when she says it is. Kyou also peeks around the corner as Saeka talks to them.As they walk, Nori is telling Haruna that Saeka still hasn't taken the next step on the stairway to adulthood, and Haruna asks what that means. Nori explains that, during today's break, Saeka told her about her trip to see Yanaidu. All she did was have him treat her to a lot of food. Haruna has no immediate response to that, then asks if Saeka completely rejected Kyou. Nori tells him she did, and the two of them seem awkward just seeing each other. Nori scrunches up her face, wondering if there's something she could do. Haruna advises her against sticking her foot into it, and Nori says she hasn't... yet. Brightening up, Nori takes out her phone and asks Haruna if he'd like to see Mii-chan. He asks who that is, and Nori explains that Aki-chan is Mii-chan's... err, rather, Mii-chan is Aki-chan's kitten. She shows him the pictures on her phone, and Haruna basically agrees that the kitten is cute. Smiling, he asks Nori if she wants to take a picture with him. Nori excitedly says yes, and Haruna tells her that he found his camera in a box. Nori jumps up and says, “You cleared out the boxes!?” Yep... He tries to take their picture together, and Nori makes a funny face. Haruna looks at the image on the camera and says, “Nori... stop making strange faces.” Nori blushes and says that then it will look like a couple's picture, to which Haruna responds, “Aren't we a couple? This time, take a real one. Like a couple.” Nori complies, but Haruna makes a funny face. Nori yells at him, and he pretends to think that it's a good picture for a couple. Nori asks, “What sort of couple?” and Haruna leans in to kiss her, grabbing on to her hand. Haruna wonders if his leaving will make Nori lonely. Pulling out of the kiss, Nori smiles and asks if he wants to go someplace and get something warm to drink. Seeing Nori happy, Haruna thinks that he's a selfish coward. If he doesn't want to deceive her, he also can't suddenly leave town. Staring off and taking some pictures of the town below, Haruna thinks he wants to be nearby. And possibly, the thing that scares him the most isn't that he won't be able to see [Nori]. Seeing Haruna's expression as he takes pictures, Nori asks if anything is wrong. He says no, and joins her as they go to their next destination. Haruna thinks that the thing he fears the most is that he'll end up like those boxes he threw out – gone without a trace. That possibly, he might just disappear from Nori, and everyone else in this town.
Elsewhere, Kubo is walking home, deep in thought. Haruna's guardian is his uncle, and his younger sister lives someplace else, huh? It seems like Haru-chan has a complicated family situation. He passes by someone (who appears to be talking to someone else who is laughing; the panel is really sketchy). The guy calls out to him, “Yo. Kubo, isn't it?” Kubo turns and gasps, looking a little shocked. Smiling, the other guy approaches Kubo, saying, “As big as ever, aren't you?” The chapter ends with Kubo identifying him, saying, “Tsujigane-senpai...”
Chapter 48 end.
Sarah's notes: Tsujigane basically looks like a slightly older, scruffier version of Haruna. I wish there were scans available. I assume what Haruna means when he says that he's afraid of disappearing is that he fears he'll be forgotten by the people there; obviously, it's up to him to tell them that he's going to leave. Next chapter, Saeka attempts to work on the awkwardness with Kyou, and more about Tsujigane.