Chisuzu bids her father farewell as she heads off to study with a friend–but she doesn’t get far before she sneezes, drawing concern that she might be getting a cold. While she doesn’t have a fever, Tanihara urges her to take some medicine just in case before she goes–except they’re all out.
They head down to the clinic to have Saji check her out, and on the watm Chisuzu asks about Tanihara going to see her mother recently and how was she doing. Tanihara assures her she’s fine and mentions that Eri wants to go on a trip with her soon.
Chisuzu: “Awesome!! Will you come too??”
Tanihara: “Huh? Of course not.”
Chisuzu is disappointed–she doesn’t understand why it would be weird for him to come, but assures him she’ll bring back souvenirs. She’s excited now to be going on a trip alone with her mother–but Tanihara reflects mentally that “he’ll” probably be going too. The whole reason Eri introduced Tsutsui to him was probably because she was intending to do so with Chisuzu soon, after all, as well.
He recalls the smile Tsutsui had on seeing Chisuzu, though, and supposes that he’ll probably have the most fun of the three of them.
At the clinic, Tanihara explains Chisuzu’s condition to Saji, who proceeds to check her over. Watching them interact, Tanihara recalls the first time they met and how it hasn’t even been 6 months since then. He never would have expected they’d wind up in the relationship they’re in right now–it feels almost nostalgic, now, thinking back.
Saji prescribes Chisuzu some medicine to stop the sneezing and stave off any oncoming cold, and when she receives a sticker for being a good patient, Tanihara reminds Saji to keep on patronizing his shop for trinkets for other patients in the future.
A torn look passes over Saji’s face–but is gone in a flash. “Yes, indeed…”
Saji: “I hope we can continue to have a good working relationship…in the future…”
Chisuzu innocently asks if Saji’s grandfather–the previous doctor–is ever coming back, and when Saji seems hurt by the question, she hastens to reassure him she likes him too, but she’d heard that his grandfather was sick, and wants to know if he’s doing better now.
Saji comforts her with an explanation that he’s doing fine but is staying in the hospital for a while to be on the safe side. Tanihara recalls here that Saji is simply filling in for his grandfather–which means as soon as the old man is well again, Saji will probably leave to go back to the university hospital. But Saji has never brought up the subject before…and perhaps it’s none of Tanihara’s business in the first place.
He’s snapped from his thoughts when Chisuzu calls out to him–the examination is over, and he urges her to wait for him in the waiting room while he has a word with Saji.
Saji: “Tanihara-san? Is something the matter?”
Tanihara: “Sensei…mind if I drop by your place this evening?”
The pair share a drink in Saji’s bedroom that evening–recalling the first time they met and their initial thoughts of each other, as well as thoughts they shared on starting their relationship. Tanihara admits that approaching Saji as he had was mostly out of curiosity, but Saji returns that simply arousing that curiosity was a stroke of luck as far as he sees it.
Tanihara is taken with the straightforward, honest gaze of Saji’s that is ever-forgiving of his own shortcomings and awkwardness. He still has moments now where he’s overcome with an instinctive desire to run away–but he knows that Saji will still be here…
Tanihara: ‘I have faith that this person…will be quietly waiting here. Saying nothing…asking nothing…’
He jerks back the hand that reached out to caress Saji’s lip, flustered with himself, but Saji just smiles, amused, and leans forward himself–
Later, after they’ve finished, Tanihara scolds himself for not bringing up Saji’s grandfather–but the timing wasn’t right. He’s equally concerned with Saji’s reluctance to ask Tanihara anything about his ex-wife, though, and supposes that even after all they’ve done together, they still give each other a certain amount of space.
As he tugs on his pants, he catches sight of the pamphlets Saji has been reviewing about opening his own clinic, realizing only now that Saji may have no intentions of going back to the hospital at all–he’s going to open his own private clinic.
When Saji walks in and sees him rifling through the papers, Tanihara apologizes for snooping, but Saji waves him off–he wasn’t trying to hide them, after all. He explains that he’d wanted to take over the clinic, but his grandfather refuses to allow it, and Tanihara recalls that the old man can be quite stubborn when he wants to.
Tanihara comments that Saji seems like the type who’d have trouble speaking with his close friends and relatives, but Saji returns that it’s not true at all. He speaks his mind without caution. Tanihara isn’t so sure–pointing out that Saji refuses to touch on the subject of Tanihara’s ex.
Saji is confused as to why he’s bringing that up now, and Tanihara wonders if he’s had Saji pegged wrong the whole time, as he doesn’t seem all that concerned about his ex-wife. Tanihara brushes off the subject, turning the conversation back around to Saji opening his own clinic.
But Tanihara’s own feelings start to seep into his comments, and he starts to come off accusing: “Let’s say you start up somewhere else–then that means this clinic ends with your grandfather. So what’s gonna happen to the people who come by here regularly, then?”
Tanihara: “You expect them to just go somewhere else? Like you?”
This comment clearly cuts Saji deeply, and Tanihara instantly regrets it, but when Saji asks him for some time to think alone, he quickly leaves, realizing he’s done precisely the wrong thing yet again. He hadn’t intended to hurt Saji the way he did, and understands that Saji likely has a lot on his mind already. There was no need to go that far.
His phone buzzes–and it’s Yukihisa, inviting him out for a drink. When Tanihara asks why he doesn’t just invite Saji, Yukihisa reminds him that he’s pretty busy with “family business” right now, prompting Tanihara to ask if he’s heard anything about Saji potentially opening his own clinic. Yukihisa clearly hasn’t…and Tanihara takes the opportunity to ask for a favor.
Saji’s grandfather: “Hmm…? Well well, if it isn’t the brat that runs the candy shop!”
Tanihara: “Haha…you’re looking pretty feisty there, old man.”
TO BE CONTINUED…