Act 1 ~ Life ExpectancyEdit
Hisao first encounters Hanako on his second day at Yamaku in the library. Hanako predictably panics and takes off. The following day, Hisao joins her and Lilly for lunch and as the first week passes Hanako becomes more comfortable around Hisao. The two work together to help Class 3-2 prepare their stall for the festival. The day before the festival Hisao follows Hanako to the library and she begins to open up to him.
On the day of the festival itself Hisao finds Hanako in the library and accompanies her to the tea room where they play a game of chess. Later at Lilly's suggestion the trio spend the rest of the day at the Shanghai and watch the fireworks from the teahouse. That night Hisao also agrees to help Hanako with her shopping on Monday after school.
Act 2 ~ Hide and SeekEdit
The next day Hisao makes good his promise and escorts Hanako to the convenience store. During this he comments on her purchase of spices and Hanako reveals an interest in cooking. The next day Hisao joins Hanako and Lilly in the Tea Room for a (mostly) homemade lunch that Hanako prepared, supplemented by some bread rolls provided by Lilly. Hanako is visibly relieved by Hisao's positive verdict of her cooking. Hisao and Hanako delay going back to class and their late arrival together is blatantly obvious and amusing to the entire class, especially Misha. The Student Council use Hisao's tardiness as an excuse to try to get him to help them sort papers from the festival after class. Hisao either chooses to escape to the library with Hanako where she checks out a book on chess tactics for future games with him, or agrees to help the Student Council out and, while Shizune is obtaining food, has a serious conversation with Misha about Hanako's shyness around others.
If the latter happens, Misha expresses great concern for Hanako but feels that she and Shizune are unable to do anything and asks Hisao to help Hanako break out of her shell. Early one morning, a tired Hisao meets Lilly in the cafeteria over breakfast and Lilly asks some unusual questions about Hisao's relationship with Hanako before inviting him to her room later that evening to have tea with the two of them. As he shares tea with the girls Hisao contemplates his relationship with Hanako and wonders what he can possibly do to help her. The next day, after an argument with Kenji regarding money owed and splitting bank notes, Hisao goes to class. As usual Hanako leaves early for lunch and Hisao talks to Lilly in the Tea Room. They discuss Hanako's truancy and Lilly hypothesizes that she does it to avoid having to answer any questions people might ask about her past and her scars.
After eating Hisao finds Hanako in the library and, to his surprise, Hanako begins to tell him about the fire that claimed both of her parents' lives and nearly killed her as well. Telling the story takes an emotional toll on Hanako and when asked why she's doing this she explains that Lilly told her about Hisao's arrhythmia and that she thinks it only fair that Hisao know about her circumstances as well. Hisao then reveals the hitherto left out detail of Iwanako's confession causing his heart attack. The two promises to keep each other's secrets and both grow just a little closer.
Act 3 ~ CastlingEditThe act opens with Hanako winning yet another chess game against Hisao. As they're preparing to leave Lilly invites them to dinner at the Shanghai. As they eat Lilly takes advantage of Hanako's going to the restroom to invite Hisao to go shopping for presents for Hanako's upcoming birthday, which Hisao accepts. The meal is interrupted by yet another dispute between the other class reps and the Student Council and Lilly is forced to leave early. Hisao and Hanako enjoy a comfortable meal and return to the dorms.
One clear summer day Hisao watches a soccer game near the track and has a chat with classmate Miki Miura about his changing relationship with Hanako and how he's adapting to life at Yamaku. That weekend Hisao and Lilly go present shopping in the city proper and after half the day they find a small antique shop where Lilly purchases a doll for Hanako, and Hisao buys a chess set. They discuss event ideas for Hanako, and it's revealed that she's fond of singing, so they decide on karaoke in an attempt to give her some happy memories of her birthday. The two of them return to Yamaku. The next day, Hanako surprises everyone by joining Hisao, Misha and Shizune for group work. As the minutes go by, the Student Council duos teasing takes a wrong turn and Hisao is forced to reveal his trip with Lilly. The mention of her birthday causes Hanako to slowly, mentally shut down in the middle of the class and only a swift intervention by Mutou prevents a scene that would have only made things worse for her. Hisao escorts Hanako to the nurse's office and is slightly frustrated when the nurse reveals that he has an inkling of why Hanako reacted so strongly but cannot explain it to Hisao because of patient confidentiality.
Upon his return to class, Mutou takes Hisao into the hallway and explains that Yamaku exists for the sake of giving its disabled students as much of an opportunity in the outside world as an ordinary school would and that Hisao should be more concerned about his future. Mutou lets him have the rest of the day off and in his room Hisao realizes that for all the time he's spent with Hanako, he knows almost nothing about her. His musings are interrupted by a phone call from Lilly, asking him to meet with her and discuss something. Hisao describes Hanako's panic attack and Lilly reveals that, due to her aunt in Scotland falling ill, she has to leave on Saturday for a week or two. Both of them check up on a still distraught Hanako and Lilly breaks the bad news to her. They decide that the party will be a small affair in Lilly's room before she leaves, and Hanako seems comforted slightly by their words.
As he returns to his dorm room Hisao resolves to do whatever it takes, even deny his own growing feelings for Hanako, to protect her. The next day Hisao is roused from his concern for Hanako's extended absence from class by Misha and Shizune who invite him to dinner, however his concern for Hanako leads him to refuse. He visits Hanako and for a time, the two of them are incapable of saying anything but a few awkward words. Finally Hanako invites him to play chess with her and Hisao realizes with some relief that everything is all right again, Hanako has slowly begun to let him into her world. The night of Hanako's birthday party arrives and Hisao discovers to his surprise that there will be a little underage drinking that night courtesy of a gift from Lilly's sister Akira: two bottles of wine. Akira herself arrives shortly after Hisao and the wine bottles are opened. Lilly and Hisao give Hanako their birthday presents and she receives them with profound happiness. As time goes by and the wine bottles empty Hanako becomes extremely drunk and Hisao escorts her back to her room. Despite Hanako's suggestive manner and comments due to her inebriated state, Hisao manages get her to sleep. Akira leaves soon after and Hisao asks Lilly about Hanako's reaction to her birthday. Lilly reveals that she really doesn't know, she can only guess that it is related to the fire that killed her parents and she thinks Hanako might even be blaming herself for that. As Hisao leaves he is frustrated by his feeling of impotence in helping Hanako and his own growing romantic feelings towards her.
Hisao's hangover the following morning prevents him from going to class that day despite some insistent knocking on his door. The day after, an extremely pleased Shizune and Misha inform him that everyone noticed his, Hanako's and Lilly's absence from class yesterday but fortunately no one has any confirmed idea as to why. The pair then hand him the letter they had been trying to deliver to him yesterday. The letter is from Iwanako, bringing official closure to the relationship that didn't even start. During lunch Hisao wanders the grounds where he encounters Yuuko who helps him come to terms with his circumstances. Hisao realizes that he believed time stopped after his heart attack but life goes on, and he can't stand still forever.
The night before Lilly's departure the three of them and Akira go to a jazz club in the city. While Akira and Lilly sit at the bar, Hisao and Hanako play a game of pool (billiards) when Hanako reveals some details about her time in the orphanage after the fire. In return Hisao explains a little bit about Iwanako. Hanako becomes increasingly uncomfortable as they continue to share one-another's history and Hisao assures her that it's all right, that he will protect her. There is an odd silence before Hanako accepts this declaration, responding that she is there for him as well. The next morning Lilly leaves for the airport and Hisao and Hanako are left at loose ends. Hisao then choses to either call it a day and go back to the dorms or invite Hanako to go to the city with him. If the latter is chosen Hanako surprises Hisao by accepting his offer and they both go into the city to find a bookshop. Unfortunately it's closed, being a Saturday. Hanako then asks Hisao to show her the antique store where her presents came from. The pair enjoy a few brief minutes of perusing the items on display then return to school.
Act 4 ~ ScarsEditThe day before Hanako's birthday she is absent from class and, noticing Hisao's distraction and worry, Shizune and Misha try to cheer him up by eating lunch with him. After classes Mutou gives Hisao papers to give to Hanako as make-up material. After dropping his things off he bumps into Kenji who reveals his plans to build a fallout shelter in case 'the feminists get their hands on the launch codes.' Hisao gives Hanako the make-up work but she appears exhausted and barely recognizes him.
On the day of her birthday Hanako is absent yet again. Desperate to find some way to help her Hisao calls Lilly in Scotland. Lilly shares his concern but surprises Hisao by saying that she also worries about him, that he is neglecting his own life and future to cater to Hanako. She asks that Hisao have faith in Hanako and that he should give her some time and space so that she can decide for herself what she wants to do with her future.
Despite his misgivings Hisao agrees with Lilly. Recalling Mutou's explanation about the purpose of Yamaku, Hisao decides, for the first time since his heart attack, to find out what he wants to do with his life and work towards that goal. The next day in class Hisao's studying is interrupted by Miki. The two of them discuss Hanako's absence and, despite Miki's assurances that this is normal for her, Hisao is determined to help Hanako overcome her self-imposed shell, the only problem is that he doesn't know how. At that moment Hanako arrives for class. He is vastly relieved she left her room of her own accord and invites her to eat in the cafeteria with him.
A little while later Hisao is attempting to study history at the Shanghai. Yuuko attempts to help him, but doesn't specialise in Japanese history and isn't of much help. Hanako arrives soon after but Hisao focuses more on his school work than conversation with her. To his surprise, Hanako waits him out and the two walk home together. After returning to the dorms, he attempts to write a reply to Iwanako but despite his efforts he cannot produce a response. As the week goes by Hisao continues his new study regime, but he begins to feel Hanako's absence due to the lack of time spent with her.
One evening he goes to her room and after the usual stilted greeting is suddenly frustrated at having to 'tiptoe' around Hanako despite their friendship. Acting on impulse, Hisao decides that he had to break through to her and unbuttons his shirt to reveal the scar from his surgery. He uses it to explain to Hanako that she's not alone, and that while his scarring is not as noticeable or severe, it also marks him as someone 'not normal'. Hanako says that she understands and Hisao realizes that he has now overcome his past, and he needs to let Hanako try to overcome hers in order to move on in life.
Later Hisao is shopping in the city when someone calls him on his cellphone. A very nervous Hanako asks Hisao to meet her at a cafe, surprising Hisao by revealing that she came into the city by herself, in daylight with so many pedestrians about. The two talk for a while and Hanako explains that she was bullied in middle-school and grade-school because of her appearance after the fire. To his surprise, Hisao learns that Hanako genuinely doesn't like spending time with people and doesn't mind not having many friends. As a gift of their friendship, Hisao buys her a strap for her cellphone, waving off her confused protests. Hanako is deeply touched by this gesture and the two go back to school together.
In the day or so following the excursion Hisao finds himself extremely self-conscious around Hanako, he begins to realize that his feelings for her have increased far beyond that of friendship. Hanako seems equally awkward around him as well. Despite this Hisao still feels the palpable distance between them and finally, after a chance meeting with her in the library, he asks her about her life before Yamaku. Hanako agrees on condition that Hisao also tells her about his past. Hisao describes his middle school years and the good and bad times he experienced in the hospital. Hanako in turn talks about her life in the orphanage, describing those years as her life being on hold until she decided to attend Yamaku. As they talk, Hisao realises that Hanako has lead them back to her room. She asks him to lock the door and then silences his protests as she starts to undress, revealing the full extent of the scarring on her body. She haltingly tells him that during the fire, her mother attempted to shield Hanako with her body, which was how she survived. Hisao assures her that he doesn't care what she looks like, then overcome by the moment and long-suppressed feelings, Hisao and Hanako fall into bed together. Hisao's exertions cause him to experience a worrying heart murmur, but manages to calm his body down. He and Hanako lie in bed together gazing into one another's eyes, and Hisao realises that they have no need for words in that moment.
When Hisao awakens the following morning Hanako is gone. He worries a moment before she returns with breakfast, and the two of them don't know how to act around each other. It gets worse throughout the day, and when he tries to talk to her during lunch Hanako panics and runs off. Shizune and Misha try to help, but they understand that this is something only Hisao can resolve. Finally Hisao goes to a small park below the school and sends Hanako a message asking her to meet him there. When Hanako arrives, Hisao recognises that he needs to speak with her directly and stop tip-toeing around her in an effort to help her feel comfortable. Hanako recognises that to other people, including Lilly and Hisao, she has been a burden, broken, something fragile that must be protected. She saw that Hisao started pulling away from her to focus on his studies, and she feared that he would abandon her, like so many of her childhood friends did after the accident. Being bullied by the children she formerly saw as friends was a hard lesson for her, and she started avoiding people, not minding if they didn't acknowledge her existence. Meeting Lilly, and then Hisao opened her up to the possibility of friendship again. She hoped that if she slept with him he would start to see her in a romantic light, but seeing their awkwardness the day after, she loses hope that he'll ever see her as anything other than someone to protect, a friend who only causes trouble to others. While Hisao admits and realises to himself that's how he originally saw her he finally understands that even though he liked or even loved her, he never approached her with that mindset, he only approached her with care and not as an equal because he thought of her as a fragile being, he later admits it isn't how he sees her now. By locking herself in her room, Hisao felt that Hanako was rejecting him, and so he started thinking about his own life more, thinking that by leaving her alone, she would feel better because of how protective he was. Hanako saw this as him pulling away from her, and she was terrified of losing him. Hanako reveals the trauma around her birthday, the falsity of the annual celebration where people treat her like she's special and then ignore her for the rest of the year. She expresses her frustration at being useless to him, always needing help and never giving it. The effort of baring her soul to Hisao overwhelms Hanako and she falls to the ground sobbing. Hisao embraces her and confesses his love for her and for a moment, the pair loses themselves in shared grief and joy. Hisao apologises for treating her as someone fragile and trying to protect her without seeing her as an equal. It takes a while for them recover and they decide to skip class.
Hanako expresses doubt that she can overcome her shyness though Hisao assures her that she can, that she already has done little by little. He declares he will always be there to support her, and asks her to do the same for him. They both made mistakes by not being upfront about their feelings, and they don't yet understand each other fully, but they love each other enough to give their relationship a try. As they head into town, the story ends with Hanako giving her first gift to Hisao; a heartfelt kiss.
Instead of following Lilly's advice to give Hanako some time, Hisao feels it's too much for him to leave Hanako alone, for he feels he must protect her and make her happy. Although he tried to agree with Lilly, he decides to go to Hanako's room, where they share an instant dinner in awkward silence. Hisao tries to comfort her by telling her that he and Lilly will always be around to protect her, and while this cheers her a little, it leaves her strangely saddened. Hanako understands that Hisao is trying to be there for her as a friend, and she offers him a game of chess. The story ends with the two of them as friends without the possibility of ever being more.
Hisao decides against taking Hanako into town, and thinking she'd prefer to stay in, suggests they call it a day. When Hisao calls Lilly to ask for advice, she tells him to give Hanako some time alone and to focus on his own life. He ignores this, thinking he knows better and can break through to Hanako, so he goes to her room to talk to her. She unlocks the door in a daze but doesn't open it, and when he lets himself in she suddenly regains herself and seems upset. She doesn't attempt to make conversation with him and shuts him out emotionally. Trying to get through to her, he invites her on a walk. She asks him why he wants to and he lies to her, trying to do what he thinks is best for Hanako by getting her to leave her room and get some fresh air. He tries to convince her by sheltering her, telling her no one will be around. When she realises he's seeing her as someone he feels he needs to help she tells him to go by himself. Instead he tries to coax her into playing a game in the same vein. He accidentally lets slip that he spoke to Lilly on the phone and Hanako is deeply upset by this. Hisao continues to try and reach through to her and tells her they're just trying to protect her, and suddenly flares with anger. Infuriated, Hanako shouts at Hisao, saying that she hates Lilly and Hisao for treating her like a weak person. She knows how broken she is, needing to see a therapist every week, and how everyone treats her like she's fragile. She emphasizes that she hates Hisao even more than Lilly for this reason. Hanako yells at Hisao to get out of her room and he backs away, terrified. As Hisao leaves, he sees a tired, saddened look pass Hanako's mien. Without a word he closes the door, knowing that their relationship has permanently ended.