Though he could handle lunch at the school cafeteria, it was a different case altogether on his rest days. They would have their own events, and could not possibly be having lunch together. To be honest, he might be getting too ahead of himself to ask for lunch.
After all, someone had been cooking dinner for him, so he should at least figure out his own lunch on his days off.
But if he simply went to the convenience store and ate there “You need to balance your diet.” Mahiru would nag at him, and he was embarrassed about having to eat out every time.
Thus, lunch on his rest days were the most troublesome.
“…Shall I cook?”
He had no reason to go out, so he stayed at home. An hour from noon, he started to brood over what he should have for lunch.
This would be the point where Mahiru would cook without hesitation, but he could not do it.
Well, his cooking was not complete destruction, at the very least.
He would not make the black mosaic matter typically shown in manga. Ignoring the appearance and tastes, he could make something edible, and though he would be making something close to edible instead of just edible, he could make something to eat at least.
But since he was used to Mahiru’s cooking, there begged the question of whether he could eat his own cooking. Nobody would exactly cook food that was not delicious for no good reason.
（…Ahー, I’m really a useless person thanks to Mahiru.）
He was captive to Mahiru’s food.
But he really did not want to go out, and he was getting sick of convenience store bentos.
As he had relied on Mahiru that much, he did not realize the significance of him cooking, but at the very least, he should challenge it.
Mahiru could not be around all the time. While he was on good terms with Mahiru, they had another two years of high school, and something might happen to break this relationship. Both of them would go their separate ways in college, and it was impossible to maintain the current situation.
（This is when I should try a little.）
Having considered future possibilities, Amane decided to work hard, so he stood up from the sofa, and took his wallet.
“Huh? You went to the supermarket?”
Fortunately or not, when he was returning from the supermarket, he found Mahiru at the gates of the apartments.
It seemed she too had just returned, holding a bag from the nearby stationery shop.
“Yeah.” There was no need to hide, and he shook the the grocery bag. Mahiru in turn gave an incredulous look.
“Huh, did you not buy enough yesterday? I thought you would buy whatever I wrote in the notebook…”
“N-not that…actually, I want to cook lunch for myself.”
After some explanation, Mahiru looked over at him in surprise.
It was to be expected. He always relied on Mahiru, and before he met her, he was living through side dishes and convenience store bentos. Now this Amane was saying that he was going to cook, and it was unbelievable to her.
“I will tell you not to do this foolish thing. You will scald or cut yourself, you know?”
“…Hey, I can at least cook something?”
“But that will mean ignoring any possible injury, taste and appearance, no?”
Mahiru’s accurate description left him speechless.
He too felt the same, and he could not refute.
“I will not stop you if you want to do it, but if you continue to seek the ideals while ignoring reality, you will feel the dissonance.”
The ideal would be Mahiru’s cooking. She had confidence in her own cooking, and Amane himself had been eating it every day, praising how delicious it was, so she knew he liked her cooking.
“But well, you want I need to wait my diet. Once we go to college, when I need to live alone, I can’t rely on you, Mahiru.”
If he relied on Mahiru too much, he would be greatly shocked one day if she was no longer around. He was becoming a useless human thanks to her, but at the very least, he wanted to be able to do something at least.
Mahiru widened her eyes at those words, and seemed a little impressed as she sighed.
“…I think it is a good thing to act for your future, but this is where you should rely on me a little more, no?”
“It is better for me to observe in case something happens, than to ruin everything without invigilation. Amane-kun, are you confident that you will not make a mess out of the kitchen?”
“…Not at all.”
It was said that people bad at cooking could not keep the kitchen clean, and he too felt the same. He could not deny it, for he felt that once he used the kitchen, he would cause quite a mess.
“I guess so.” once Amane nodded, she flatly noted with a sigh.
“I think it is better for me to be there.”
“May I ask for you to do that?”
“I will not suggest it if I had no intention to.”
Her voice remained aloof, but she said so for his sake, so he did not mind at all.
He lowered his head in thanks, “You do not have to be so polite.”, she frantically answered, and he smiled back, entering the elevator to his house along with her.
“…By the way, do you have an apron?”
“Don’t worry. I bought one to use during cooking class.”
“You used it?”
“Yeah, but it was pointless since.”
“I guessed so”
Having expected that answer, Mahiru sighed, and entered Amane’s house along with him. She did have an apron in his house, and one more in hers. The apron Amane usually saw was to be used in his house, it seemed.
She tied the apron, and like usual, tied her hair into a ponytail. She saw him pull a rich brown apron from the back of his closet, and narrowed her eyes.
“You do not usually wear an apron, Amane-kun. It just feels so off.”
“Shut up. Sorry about that.”
“Well, that is to be expected…I guess you decided the menu since you bought your ingredients.”
She looked towards the shopping bag on the shelf, and he nodded,
“Fried vegetables and omelette.”
“…Vegetables because I told you to watch your diet, and omelettes because you like eggs.”
“You understand that really well.”
“I figured after some thought. What about the seasoning for the vegetables?”
“Here. A bottle of yakiniku sauce.”
“An exciting taste for men…though it is delicious…”
“If it can be used, it’s good for cooking, right?”
If there had been no yakiniku sauce, he intended to add on with pepper and soy sauce. Thank goodness for that sauce, so he quietly thought.
He intended to use everything he could to cook, so he gave thanks to the sauce as he imitated Mahiru, washing his hands.
While he was doing so, Mahiru prepared the utensils, lining up the ingredients for Amane’s convenience. Such an ability really left him impressed.
“For fried vegetables, you need to slice them up, and ensure that they are evenly cooked…do you know how to cut them?”
“Are you taking me as an idiot?”
He could at least cut some vegetables. Bad at that, maybe, but he knew how to use it.
He said with confidence, and began cutting the cabbage with Mahiru looking…but only understood he was forcing himself when he cut his finger on the knife.
Mahiru had been advising him, demonstrating, but she knew how independent he wanted to be, and did not interfere. Once there was any chance of danger, she would adjust a little, but when he started to familiarize himself and did not do as told, he messed up.
He groaned as he looked towards his finger, cut by the knife and bleeding.
He washed it in running water, but the wound still hurt.
“…I had a feeling this would happen. Here, give me your hand.”
She reached for a band aid from her apron pocket, wrapping around it neatly, and he felt grateful and impressed.
“You’re well prepared”
“It will be strange not to happen to any person bad at cooking.”
“You don’t trust me at all.”
He knew very well that having cut his finger, he could not be trusted, so he joked back.
“But well, I have seen how hard you are working, Amane-kun. It is really impressive.”
“Thanks for the compliments.”
“You should have called me over to begin with.”
“I can’t be bothering you like this on the weekend.”
“I do admit that you are working hard, but you fumbled, you do not know how to handle, and had to bother me. You should have asked me in the first place.”
It was a small injury, but if he was to cause a mess in the kitchen or misuse an electronic applicable, he would be completely hopeless.
What Mahiru said made sense, and he could not refute.
“…Do not deep fry. You may cause a fire.”
“My level ain’t that high yet.”
“Deep frying is not that difficult though…I am amazed you managed to live alone.”
“Sorry about that then.”
I’ll spend my life in the convenience store, he deliberately retorted in a peeved manner, but Mahiru looked towards him in a panic.
He was neither dejected nor fuming, and she did not need to worry, but she looked worried, her eyes lowered.
“…Well, since you dare not to deep fry, Amane-kun, you can tell me beforehand if you want it.”
“I want menchi-katsu tomorrow.”
He said heartily, his mood seemingly improved. Mahiru seemed relieved as she exhaled a little.
“Eat the cabbage garnish. I shall make a miso soup full of vegetables.”
“Yes yes…thank you.”
He was taken care by Mahiru all the time, and her nagging was out of concern, so while he grumbled at her nagging, he was earnestly grateful to her. Without her, he would not be able to live a healthy school life.
Feeling a little embarrassed, “You helped me out.” he quietly whispered, and looked towards the vegetables again.
After fighting against the vegetables for an hour or so, there was a messy plate of vegetables on the table, a pretty looking omelette…and scrambled eggs next to it.
Of course, the pretty omelette was the sample made by Mahiru, and it would be appropriate to refer to Amane’s omelette as scrambled eggs instead.
Just to note, it was a taste test, so Amane’s omelette (or whatever it was) was at Mahiru, while before him was the authentic, pretty shaped omelette.
They clapped their hands together, expressing thanks, and moved their chopsticks. Mahiru picked up the porous looking eggs, and ate it.
“…There is no flavor in these scrambled eggs. Did you forget to add salt and pepper?”
“I forgot. And I was supposed to make omelette.”
“You beat the eggs too much, and I even told you to stop when it was turning into soboro…do watch out.”
He forgot to add the seasonings because Mahiru was busy with her omelette, but most of the time, he did follow her instructions. The taste and appearance were clearly because of his miscues.
Just to note, Mahiru’s handmade omelette was soft, fluffy and very delicious. There was quite the difference in standard.
“…But I see that you are working hard, Amane-kun, especially for your ability. The important thing is the attitude to do well. If I had not been watching, cleaning up would have been a hassle, so I hope you can improve on it.”
“…Am I not relying on you too much now?”
“You are saying it at this point?”
“Well, I was joking…or not. I do like cooking for others, and I do not dislike teaching others to cook, so that is fine.”
“…Thank you for everything.”
It was due to Mahiru’s grace that he could have this current life, and thus he could not lift his head.
But if he kept lowering his head, she would be unhappy, so once he saw it was time, he lifted his head and peeked at her.
For some reason, Mahiru was looking a little forlorn.
“If you end up being able to cook, will you not need to rely on me, Amane-kun?”
If Amane could cook for himself, Mahiru would not need to make dinner for him.
Realizing what she was thinking, he shook his head.
“No, actually…I still want to eat your cooking, Mahiru…your cooking’s the best, and I really want to eat it. It just sounds a little selfish, and useless of me though.”
He knew it was selfish for him to say so when he was the one benefiting, but he preferred to eat Mahiru’s cooking more than his own.
Also, he was infatuated with her cooking, and without it, he might have a mental breakdown of epic proportions.
Once he begged of her in this pleading manner, Mahiru widened her eyes, and smiled
The loneliness on her face too vanished.
“Fufu. I guess I have no choice then. I have no intention to stop now. Do relax.”
He saw the anxiety fade away, and was relieved, thanking her again. The faint smile remained on her face.
“I will let you help from time to time, like using a peeler and such, or measure the quantity.”
“Sounds like a kid helping you.”
“You need to start from there, Amane-kun.”
In fact, his skills were at a kid’s level, and could not reject that claim as he pouted. Once again, Mahiru smiled happily.