Sorry for long wait for this chapter's summary! I was pretty busy spending inordinate amounts of money getting settled into Japanese life, but I'm happy to say I'm now registered as a legal foreign resident in my city, have enrolled in national healthcare, purchased a 6-month train pass, passed a placement test to get into the Japanese class I need to be in to graduate on time, selected and registered for elective classes, purchased a cellphone, ordered a personal seal, opened a bank account and discovered where all the important places (bookstore, 100-yen store, and good places to eat) are near my house! I still have a few more things I need to do, but hopefully life will settle into a peaceful rhythm soon. My host family is absolutely wonderful, and tomorrow I'm going with a friend and her host family to Nara and Kyoto! Thank you to all the people who have wished me luck and to everyone for your patience with me for neglecting this blog a bit while I've been getting settled. Anyways, on to the summary!
The cover page of this chapter features a sleeping Matsunaga-san and the tag line “What I see in my dreams, is it my past? My present? Or perhaps [what I’m wishing for in] the future?” The chapter opens up with Matsunaga-san and Ayumi staring at eachother in silence while he tries to process what she just said about “doing things over.” For a moment he doesn’t know what to say, and thinks “If I were to do that…” He pictures his past happiness with Ayumi along with a picture of Shiharu and the twins in the present, then tells her firmly “I’m sorry.” Ayumi smiles and says she thought so, and praises him for being so level-headed. She then tells him she actually has someone she’s dating right now. He is shocked, of course, and she reveals that her boyfriend recently asked her to marry him. He’s still in shock, and Ayumi goes on to explain that she and Matsunaga dated for quite a long time, and broke up in such a sudden unresolved manner, that even now, although she’s tried to forget about him, from time to time she’s still dazzled by his face, and it’s trouble some to her. Matsunaga-san apologizes for this stiffly. Ayumi says she isn’t the type of person who could commit to marrying someone while hiding such a thing, and so she told her boyfriend frankly and he told her that he’d be waiting for her until she settled things once-and-for-all with Matsuanga-san, one way or another. Ayumi remarks that she knows she doesn’t deserve such a good guy as her boyfriend, and that she’s already this old and it’s unreasonable for her to still be haunted by the image of a past boyfriend, so she came purposely today to be turned down by Matsunaga-san, so that she’ll finally be able to properly appreciate the person who is there for her now. Matsunaga-san is stumped for a moment then asks her what she was planning to do if he’d said yes, and she replies that she knows he’s not the kind of guy who’ll just do whatever because it’s convenient, and besides, if there was any home left for the two of them to be together, he would have stopped her from leaving back then (when they broke up in the past). She thanks him with a smile for finally ending things for her, and letting her finally progress towards the future. She tries to act light hearted about the situation, but he interrupts her to tell her seriously that there’s something he always wanted to tell her… That while they were dating, every day was fun and he really loved how honest and determined she was, and that she clearly knew what she liked and disliked. Finally, he tells her “thank you” for everything. She smiles in a kind of “far away” way and tells him she had fun too. The waiter appears with their salad, and Matsunaga-san is a bit surprised that there are a lot of green peas in it. Ayumi tells him it’s okay, because she’s finally become able to eat properly like an adult. On the way out of the restaurant after dinner Ayumi tells Matsunaga-san not to worry, because she won’t invite him to her wedding. He tells her even if she were to invite him, he couldn’t attend. Ayumi thanks him for coming, and Matsunaga-san tells her he’s glad he came. They part ways for the last time, and Matsunaga-san narrates in his thoughts that “In order to keep moving forward, “separation” is inevitable.” This thought ends on an image of the twins, and the scene transitions to back at Matsunaga-san’s house, where Shiharu is drying Akane’s hair after the bath. Shiharu hugs Akane and tells her her hair is super-fluffy, and Akane flails, saying it tickles. But when Shiharu tells Aoi it’s his turn to have his hair dried, he tells her “I don’t need it” because he hates the noise the hair dryer makes. She tries to reason with him, telling him it’s gotten cold and he’ll catch a cold if he goes to bed with wet hair but he insists he’s fine without. She tries promising that she’ll use the lowest setting like always and it will only make a small sound, and even tries speaking for the dryer and saying “I really wanna dry Aoi-kun’s hair!” but he yells at her “I don’t need it!” In the end, Shiharu gets him to let her dry his hair by changing the topic and asking him what books he’d like to read as a bedtime story tonight, and once he’s picked out a huge stack, telling him that they’d better dry his hair quick so they’ll have time to read them all. He grudgingly consents, but the pleasant feeling of the warm air from the hair dryer puts him to sleep and in the end, Shiharu has to put the books aside for tomorrow and let Akane pick a book for Shiharu to read her tonight. When Matsunaga-san gets home, Shiharu tells him the twins have fallen asleep and she’s also tired so she’ll be heading home. Matsunaga-san is silent for a long moment and looks dejected. Shiharu gets worried, and Matsunaga-san finally tells her there’s something he wants to talk to her about. When they’re both seated, he tells her that the twins’ grandmother’s discharge date from the hospital has been decided; if the current progress keeps up, the grandmother will be discharged on January 10th of the following year. She’ll need to continue with around 2 months of out-patient therapy, but will be able to live fairly normally aside from that. To start off with, she’ll be working on getting the twins enrolled in a daycare in Shizuoka and preparing the living environment in her house for them and so on. Matsunaga-san finally tells Shiharu that the grandparents actually taking custody of the twins full-time should begin around the end of March. Shiharu doesn’t say anything for a long moment, then cheerful remarks how happy she is that the twins’ grandmother is going to be safely discharged. Then she calculates that if the twins are going to leave at the end of March, it means there are about 4 months left. Matsunaga-san asks her if she’s okay, and she says that she is, because this separation is so that Akane-chan and Aoi-kun can be happy. In her thoughts, she says that she’s not only sad/lonely about them leaving, because she knows that on the “other side” (Shizuoka) what’s waiting for them is a place where they’ll be able to smile. He then tells Shiharu that he and the grandparents have agreed that in order to make the transition easier on the twins, during the month before the final move, both parties will do a lot of traveling back and forth, so the twins can get used to being with their grandparents both in the location they’re used to, and in their new home with Matsunaga-san there with them at first. He asks Shiharu to also participate in this process if it wouldn’t be too hard on her, and she agrees right away. Then he tells her, if it becomes painful for her, she can talk to him about it at any time. Shiharu makes a really vulnerable, emotion-filled face (at first I thought she might hug him passionately again… too bad >,<) and Matsunaga in his thoughts says that he knows it’s terribly cruel to have the person who has been showering the twins with love every day participate in the preparations that will separate them, especially knowing Shiharu’s personality. He starts to tell her that he has no intention of forcing her to participate if she doesn’t want to, but she insists that she’s okay, and asks him to let her do her job as a babysitter properly until the very end. When Shiharu gets back to the orphanage, she sits down in the genkan and things that when Spring comes again, the twins will no longer be in this city… Nao comes along and sees her sitting there and recalls a time when she was younger and came home and sat in the same place and cried her heart out. It seems as though he expects her to do the same thing, but this time she firmly refuses to cry and instead shows a face of sadness but determination. He seems surprised that he never noticed when it happened that she grew up like this. All this is conveyed with images, not words, so I am only interpreting how I understood this scene. Shiharu jumps up and literally shakes herself out of it. She is surprised to see Nao-kun standing behind her and asks him when he got there. Just then two other girls from the orphanage come in and welcome Shiharu home, and she says “I’m home!” with a huge smile. The chapter ends with Nao-kun watching Shiharu with an aloof expression.