“…What are you doing?”
It was raining, and she – Mahiru Shiina – was seated on the park’s swing when Amane Fujimiya first spoke to her.
Amane had just begun living alone soon after starting his first year of high school. Living in the apartment to his right was an angel.
Of course, angel was a metaphor. Nevertheless, Mahiru Shiina was so pretty and cute, the metaphor was not truly a joke.
Her flax-colored straight hair was well maintained, smooth and glossy; her clear white skin smooth and unblemished. She had a nice nose, a pair of large eyes beneath her long eyebrows, fine-looking bright pink lips, and combining all these traits, she had a doll-like delicate beauty.
She was in Amane’s school, in the same year, and he often heard of what others said of her. Most said she was a girl of brains and brawn.
In fact, she had maintained first place in every exam they took, always excelling during gym classes. Amane knew few details about her as they were in different classes, but if the rumors were true, she was a perfect superhuman.
She had no obvious flaws, had a nice face, outstanding grades, and was humble and obedient. It was no wonder she was popular.
Some boys would be utterly envious at the prospect of living next to such a pretty girl.
Despite that, Amane did not intend to do anything to her, and did not think he could.
Of course, he too felt that the girl Mahiru Shiina was truly charming.
They were simply neighbors however. Amane never had the chance to talk to her, and never intended to get involved with her.
If he did, he might garner the envy of the boys. Truth be told, if they could get along just by living next to each other, the boys infatuated with her would not have to suffer so.
And to add on, charm from the opposite gender was not the same as love. As far as Amane was concerned, Mahiru was a pretty girl most suited to be marveled from afar.
For that reason, Amane never expected to get involved with her, let alone maintain a sweet and sour relationship. He was merely living next to her, never actually interacting with her.
So when he saw her spacing out alone without an umbrella in the middle of the rain, “What is she doing?” He wondered, giving a doubtful look at her.
The rain was so heavy, everyone else had already ran home, yet here she was alone at the park between the school and the apartment, on the swing.
(What’s she doing in the rain?)
Dark, thick clouds covered the skies, and there was no light shining through, the surroundings dim. The rain lasted since morning, blurring his visibility. Nevertheless, the eye-catching flax-colored hair and uniform clearly identified Mahiru.
Amane did not understand why she was there without an umbrella, letting the rain soak her.
It appeared she was waiting for no one, and she was not resisting the fact that she was wet, merely staring listlessly in a certain direction.
Looking up, the face already lacking in color pigments looked pale.
If she was not careful, she could have caught a cold. Despite that, Mahiru sat there quietly.
She had no intention to return home, so it seemed she wanted to do just remain as he was. Perhaps no bystander should voice their concern to her.
So he thought as he prepared to cross the park–but at the last moment, he saw her contorted teary-looking face, and scratched his head.
He had no motive to get involved with her at all.
But his conscience would ache badly if he let someone be with such a pained look. That was all that mattered.
“…What are you doing?”
Amane spoke to her with an aloof voice, indicating no other intent. She shook her long hair, seemingly bogged down by the absorbed water, and looked towards him.
Her face remained pretty as usual.
Even though she was drenched by the rain, her glow remained unsullied. The rain showcased her face like an ornament. A fine girl soaked in the rain, it seemed.
She looked towards him, her eyes widened.
At the very least, it seemed Mahiru knew Amane was her neighbor. They would meet occasionally in the morning after all.
But as she was being spoken to, approached by a person completely unrelated to her before, her caramel-colored eyes were a little wary.
“Fujimiya-san. Is there anything you want from me?”
Ah, so she remembered my name, so he thought. At the same time, he could tell it was impossible for her to let her guard down.
They did meet before, but they were still strangers after all. It would be expected that she would be on guard after being spoken to.
She probably did not wish to interact much with someone of the opposite gender. Typically, there were boys of various years confessing to her, or approaching her, and she probably thought they had impure motives.
“Nothing much. Just that I’m concerned seeing you alone in the rain like this.”
“I see. Thank you for your concern, but I do wish to remain here. Please leave me be.”
The voice was neither shrill nor wary, and while gentle, her faint voice clearly showing her intent not to have anyone probe further.
(Well, guess that’s that.)
Clearly she was hiding something, and Amane had no intention to probe further into her insistent refusal for others to get involved.
Amane merely asked in the spur of the moment. Asking for the reason was merely a natural development, not that he was that concerned.
If she simply wanted to remain, he was fine with that.
Mahiru in turn might have been wondering, why would he be talking to her, or feeling something like that.
She stared at Amane skeptically with her fleeting, pretty face, “I see.” so Amane answered.
If they continued talking, he would be hated, so perhaps it was time for him to retreat.
Luckily for him, whether she had a good impression of him or not, they did not have any relationship. Amane heartily made the decision to return home and leave her be.
However, he did not feel good about leaving a girl alone, soaked in the rain.
“You’ll catch a cold. Take the umbrella. You don’t have to return.”
So at the very end, Amane was a busybody.
If she caught a cold, Amane could not sleep well. With such a thought, he handed the umbrella covering his head to her.
She received the umbrella, or rather, he shoved it to her. Before she could speak, he turned away.
He hastily left, and behind him, Mahiru called out.
But the voice was so soft, it was overwhelmed by the rain. He paid no mind, and quickly darted through the park.
He merely hoped that she would not catch a cold, and shoved the umbrella to her. Because of that, the guilt of wanting to ignore he was mitigated a little .
Since she refused to talk, Amane did not intend to get involved with her.
Since there was nothing going on between them, they would bid farewell.
That was what Amane thought back then as he hurried back home.