The RAWs this time are watermarked, as they always are for this series. I apologize to the sincere people this troubles, but please understand there are a few scan-stealers out there who ruin it for everyone else. My intention is not to trouble the people who just want to read the chapter, but to make it too much of a pain in the butt for scan-stealers to bother with my scans. People who I know by username can email me and I'll send you unwatermarked RAWs privately.
First of all, there wasn’t all that much happening in the past few chapters (24, 25). Basically, only 2 important things happened.
- Oogaki announced that he’s getting married (presumably to a girl from work) because he got her pregnant, kind of by accident. He says he doesn’t regret things turning out this way and he was thinking it’s about time he settles down anyways. Utako confronts him about it and he doesn’t handle it very well, in my opinion. I don’t remember exactly what he said and don’t feel like looking it up, but I remember he was basically like “It’s your own fault for taking me seriously when I said to wait 7 years.” In the end she looks a bit miffed but it’s not a huge blow-out like it could have been. Utako's personality seems to have leveled out a bit as she's gotten older.
- Shinichi hears from Maa-kun and Utako that Haruka’s been hanging out with a popular male senpai a lot lately and there are rumors about the two of them dating. Although he says that’s good and it’d be more worrisome if she couldn’t socialize with others her age at least that much, he ends up being really irked by it. He is out walking one day and actually happens to see Haruka and that guy sitting on a bench in the park talking and laughing together. He darts behind a bush or something to listen “covertly” and runs into Maa-kun, who seems to have had the same idea (lol). Later on, Shinichi confronts Haruka and asks her to tell him if she gets a boyfriend some day, and she tells him she’d never tell him about something like that and runs out. We find out that the senpai did indeed confess to her, (I’m pretty sure Shinichi doesn’t know this though) but not what he response was.
At the end of chapter 25, Shinichi is alone at his house at night, feeling depressed about stuff. This seems to be his past time. Anyways, suddenly a fire breaks out in the kitchen and he’s stunned into not being able to do anything, remembering the fire in his childhood in which his mother killed herself and tried to kill him.
The cover page of this chapter is by itself epic, featuring Shinichi and Haruka back-to-back and holding hands, and the tag line “It started while we weren’t paying and attention, and at this point it already can’t be stopped…?” Chapter 26 opens up where the last month’s cliffhanger left off, in the midst of the fire, with Shinichi in shock and recalling the trauma of that event in his childhood. Haruka had left his house a bit earlier, after fighting with him again about the senpai issue, but for some reason turned around and came back. She’s outside and sees the smoke and hears Shinichi inside yelling at his mother’s memory “I don’t want to go! Stop!! Stop it, mother! Mother!” and so on. She runs into the burning building (after calling the fire department) and finds Shinichi in the living room, totally freaking out and unable to separate the past event and the present in his mind. She yells out his name a few times, asks him if he’s okay and tells him they have to run away, but he’s still freaking out and yelling “No! I don’t want to go! Mother, please stop!” In the end Haruka has to resort to slapping him in the face to wake him up out of his delusion. She yells at him to get a hold of himself, and tells him “It’s me! It’s Haruka!” He finally sees her face and says her name haltingly, and she’s able to drag him out of the fire. He narrates that he doesn’t remember much of what happened after that, only her hand dragging him out of there (the fire and out of his own delusion.)
The scene changes to the next day, and Oogaki and Satomi are there, dealing with the aftermath of the fire. They mention that the fire only damaged the kitchen, and it’s both a mystery and a blessing that such an old house constructed almost entirely of wood didn’t completely burn to the ground. They also reveal the source of the fire was a short circuit. Satomi seems concerned for Shinichi, that of all things it had to be a fire, which he was traumatized by in the past. Oogaki tells Haruka that he and Satomi will take care of cleaning up the destruction caused by the fire because probably Shinichi is too “distracted” (his discrete wording of it) right now. Satomi hugs Haruka and tells her she’s glad she wasn’t hurt, and thanks her also for saving Shinichi. Oogaki then asks her man-to-man (or man-to-little girl?) to do him a favor and stay by Shinichi’s side for a little while, which of course she agrees to do.
Shinichi is sitting by himself on the porch, looking out into the garden contemplatively. Haruka comes to sit down beside him, silently at first, and then says softly “It’s okay now, Shinichi-san.” He remarks in response that she’s strong, and reveals that he didn’t want to believe that his own mother was bad. He reveals that his father for being a nasty, violent drunk but even so, for some reason his mother never gave him the boot and kept on acting as the dutiful wife. Thinking back on it, he realizes that burdened with a young child to take care of, she was doing all that she could just to squeeze by. In any case, she was not entirely right in the head, and enduring physical and emotional abuse every day made her even more mentally unstable. He reasons that’s why she did what she did on the day she set the fire; she finally reached her limit. He says that he wishes that she had done anything, even getting involved with some other guy and leaving them (instead of what she did do), even though, if she had done that he would have spent his whole life just assuming that it was him she didn’t want. He asks hypothetically why she had to chose death as the best option, especially family-suicide. He tells her that he thought he’d be able to forget about the whole thing when he became an adult, and although the frequency of his remembering has decreased, whenever he remembers even a tiny bit, he remembers everything vividly, from the expression on his mother’s face to the feeling of her hand touching him to the way she apologized to him over and over again while crying. He tells Haruka that at those times, no matter how much he knows he shouldn’t and tries not to, he finds himself thinking that his mother would have been pleased if he’d died along with her on that day, and if he had he wouldn’t be now suffering from the trauma the way he is. He also finds himself wondering over and over again if he did the right thing and if there was anything more/else he could have done, and also wondering for what reason he was even born. At this point, Haruka takes his hand and tells him in a small voice that it’s okay now. She’s blushing and won’t look at him, and he’s staring at her a bit shocked, but she says bravely that he has her now, and she’s not scared anymore either because she has him. She then changes the subject rather abruptly and tells him “You know about (the situation with) Nanami-senpai, right?” and explains “Because you said ‘when you get a boyfriend’…” But she tells him that Nanami-senpai wasn’t anything like that, and explains that when she met him he reminded her of her older brother who died, and when they were together he was kind and doted on her, so she felt that this is what would be like if her brother were still alive, and so she confided in him about her fears of walking home alone ever since the slasher incident. But she explains that when Nanami-senpai confessed to her, she realized that she didn’t like him romantically, and it was unfair of her to treat him as a substitute for her brother. She also says that no matter how much he might tell her he likes her, the only one who is special to her and who can make her feel safe is Shinichi. She blushes even more and gets a really adorable vulnerable look on her face and says that at that time she realized it can only be Shinichi. Literally “it’s no good / impossible if it’s anyone other than Shinichi-san.” His eyes widen and he tightens his grip on her hand, which is still in his. Haruka goes on to reveal that after she was attacked by the slasher, her father was really worried and wanted her to come live with him wherever he’s currently working overseas, but she refused. He also tried convincing her she’d be a burden on Shinichi, but eventually she persuaded him to let her stay in Japan. Haruka looks at the ground and says that the reason was because she wanted to stay by Shinichi’s side. She looks at him again with that vulnerable look and asks passionately “Is it okay for me to stay by your side?” Literally “Is it no good if I were to end up staying by your side?” She looks really mature in this scene and asks really bravely although she’s blushing a lot. On the next page, we get Shinichi’s thoughts as he looks at Haruka’s shy/worried face and he thinks “Yeah… I… am in love with her…” His face gets really close to hers and Haruka whispers “Shin…” before she’s cut off by what I’m going to assume is a KISS! It’s one of those “You can’t be 100% sure they kissed because one of them’s body is blocking the line of site, but… What else are they going to be doing in such a position?!” Right after, Shinichi gets up and runs into his study without saying a word, leaving Haruka behind silent with shock and blushing furiously. Oogaki and Satomi are inside cleaning up the kitchen and didn’t see what happened out on the porch but look confused when they hear Shinichi run inside and slam the door to his study. In his thoughts at the end of the chapter, Shinichi thinks “What the hell… have I done…?!”