It’s Parents’ Visitation Day at Chisuzu’s school, and for the first time in a long time, her father’s going to be coming. Typically, her mother’s too busy and Tanihara has to watch the shop, but the night before, he casually suggests going. She’s ecstatic and begs him to dress to the nines when he comes…and she subsequently learns to be careful what she wishes for.
The whole classroom is abuzz, wondering whose father has just arrived, and Chisuzu is mortified. She berates him in the hall for not dressing up properly like she asked, but he’s quickly distracted by a teacher wanting to chat, and she reflects, as she watches them interact, that her father’s never been very…well, fatherly. He’s lazy at home, plays childish pranks, and fails to behave like an adult. But as they walk home together afterwards, she thanks him for coming all the same. Tanihara is a bit thrown by the admission and glances away nervously, and Chisuzu reflects once again that, despite his faults, she really does love him.
The pair run into Saji-sensei in front of the shop, whom Chisuzu recalls as initially a bit intimidating, but actually very kind underneath. He inquires as to why the shop is closed, given that Tanihara usually has it open on Saturdays, and is informed that it was Parents’ Visitation Day. He takes in Tanihara’s outfit…
Saji: “Wait…Visitation Day…?”
Chisuzu: “It’s weird, right?!”
Tanihara: “Don’t point fingers at people.”
Saji laughs off the outfit as very ‘Tanihara-san-like’, irritating Chisuzu who really wanted Saji to be angry with her father’s prank as well. Saji squats down, though, to soothe her ruffled feathers, and tells her a secret: “I think it’s actually just his way of hiding how shy he is, though. He just can’t be open and honest with others.” Chisuzu chides Saji for being too easy on Tanihara, warning her father that she’s going to tell Saji all about the nasty little bits about Tanihara that he obviously hasn’t caught on to yet.
Tanihara is at a loss for how to win her favor back, at which point she suggests, “…Well how about taking me to the beach?” Tanihara isn’t buying it–but Saji is, and seems to seriously consider a beach outing. Tanihara still isn’t on board with the idea, though.
Tanihara: “But–it’s far. It’s a pain in the ass making all those train changes, and…”
Chisuzu: “Papa’s just afraid of going in the ocean ’cause he can’t swim, Sensei!”
Tanihara: “I AM NOT.”
He simply isn’t good at swimming–which means if anything were to happen to Chisuzu, he wouldn’t be much help.
Saji: “Then…how about I drive us there?”
Tanihara & Chisuzu: “……..Huh?”
Before he can be stopped, he’s suggesting a group trip to the beach–he’s got no issues with swimming, which means he can watch over Chisuzu in the water. Chisuzu is, of course, delighted at the idea. It’s times like this she’s reminded that she loves Saji-sensei.
The beach is crowded and the sky is a bright, clear blue when they arrive. Chisuzu heads right for the water, after being warned not to wander off too far on her own.
Saji: “It’s nice that it’s not as crowded as I’d feared.”
Tanihara: “Yeah. Wait–are you sure you’re fine without your glasses? Chii was pretty shocked to see you without ’em.”
Saji jokingly suggests that he teach Tanihara to swim, but is soundly rejected. It’s not that he can’t swim, it’s just that he’s bad with long distances. Saji’s a bit disappointed–he’d intended to use it as an excuse to hold Tanihara’s hand in public, and Tanihara flushes darkly: most definitely no, then.
A sharp screech rouses their attention, and they rush over to find that Chisuzu has been buffeted by a large wave, but is otherwise fine. Tanihara, flustered by the scare, asks Saji to help teach Chisuzu how to swim better, and he complies while Tanihara takes a break at a beach eatery, watching from shore as Saji and Chisuzu play in the waves. It’s a bit strange how much more like a Chisuzu’s father Saji seems like this–he’s never been all that interested in playing the proper father before, and doesn’t really intend to start now after all this time, but…still.
Chisuzu glances over to the beach to find that her father is no longer sitting on the sand under their umbrella, and wonders where he’s gone, only to have Saji point him out, enjoying a beer and a smoke at a beachhouse. She rolls her eyes at the display–honestly, that father of hers!–but Saji just smiles and reminds her that he’s having fun in his own way.
He’s quite jealous of Chisuzu for having such a nice father–he never got to come to the beach with his family as a child. When she reminds him that he’s the one that brought them to the beach in the first place, Saji returns that he never could have come here alone with Chisuzu if her father hadn’t been there as well.
Chisuzu: “Oh yeah, I guess so… Heh, it’s kinda weird!”
Saji: “What is?”
Chisuzu: “Papa’s become a lot more like a proper Papa since he got divorced!”
Saji reflects that it’s a bit uncomfortable, hearing a child speak so casually about divorce, but presses her for an explanation. She only started calling him ‘Papa’ since the divorce, after her mother left them–she used to call him “Shuu-chan”, a shortening of his name. But once it was just the two of them living together, he’d asked her to call him ‘Papa’, since that’s what society preferred (not that she really understood it at the time, though she’s starting to grasp it now that she’s older). Saji notes that, from everything Chisuzu is telling him, it’s blatantly obvious that children really do understand more than adults give them credit for–and that Tanihara seems well aware of this, unlike Saji.
Chisuzu asks Saji if he’s Tanihara’s friend, and Saji admits that yes, he very much respects Tanihara. When Chisuzu seems confused by the term ‘respect’, Saji clarifies with a light flush that it means he likes Taniharau. Chisuzu is relieved, as she likes him too, despite his many faults. But…she’s realizing something lately.
Chisuzu: “Papa isn’t the person that Mama loves most anymore… Why does how much we love someone change? I still don’t get that…”
Before Saji can formulate a response, a huge wave crashes over them, soaking the both of them, and they decide to call it a day, heading back to Tanihara waiting for them on shore.
After the end of a long day, Tanihara is exhausted–but it proved an enjoyable experience overall. Saji comments that he was glad to enjoy this ‘date’–and when Tanihara freezes, shocked that Saji would be so blatant, Chisuzu pipes up that she had a great time on their ‘date’ as well. Tanihara reflects on how close Saji and Chisuzu seem to have grown in just the span of an afternoon–when his phone rings. He balks, reluctant to answer it, and when Saji asks him why he’s not, that he doesn’t mind if Tanihara takes a call, Tanihara reluctantly admits–
Tanihara: “It’s…just…it’s from my ex-wife…”
Awkward as the situation is, though, Tanihara can’t ignore it when Chisuzu seems thrilled to hear her mother is calling, and so he taps the talk button with a bored, “What’s up?” Yes, he clarifies, he’s out right now–no, it’s his day off.
Tanihara: “…Huh? You need my help…?”
TO BE CONTINUED…