Amane was bad at all kinds of housework, and worst of all, cleaning up.
He could cook, if one’s definition of cooking was to get injured, ignoring appearance and taste.
If he cooked with the idea that he could just heat it and put it into his stomach, it would look and taste unappealing; not that he could not cook however.
If he could not wash clothes, he would really have trouble in his life; but he could do that at least. Even if he somehow could not, there was a coin laundry shop nearby, and he could simply dump his clothes in, add some detergent and water, and let it spin. That was fine.
However, he was completely hopeless at cleaning up.
“What do I do with this?”
It was the day off, and Amane, having been nagged at by Mahiru and Itsuki, finally decided to start cleaning. However he did not know where to start.
He knew it was his own fault, but there were too many things, and he had no idea how he should go about doing it.
For the time being, he washed his futon sheets, and dried them.
And then, he had no idea how to start cleaning.
His clothes and magazines were all over the place, and he practically had no place to step on.
The silver lining here was that any food-related rubbish would smell foul, and Amane would dispose of them promptly, so there was no oil stain or foul stench. Well, the room was simply in a mess.
Despite that, the mess troubled him most.
And while he sighed, there was a chime from the entrance.
Ah, so he blurted.
Appearing there would be the visitor he was long used to, or rather, the blessing from Heaven, the delivery man-like existence who would return after each delivery. To him, she was like a savior.
He hurried towards the entrance, nearly slipping as there was no place for footage, and supported himself off the wall as he opened the door.
“Sorry, I am here for the last tupperware…what are you doing?”
“…Getting ready to clean up.”
Mahiru saw him nearly fall over, and stared exasperatedly at his face.
“Thought there was a loud sound.”
“…I nearly fell.”
“I guessed so. You have not started cleaning, no?”
“Didn’t know where to start.”
“I guessed so.”
It is really difficult to start when it is so messy, so Mahiru noted bluntly as per usual, Amane’s face twitched, but he could not deny it.
More importantly, if he really argued with her until the very end, he would have no idea how to start cleaning.
But speaking of which, how would he ask?
He wanted to ask her tips on cleaning, but was she truly willing to provide…so he stared towards Mahiru tentatively, and she looked behind him, towards the messy entrance.
Uwaah, her eyes basically screamed so as she looked towards the devastation behind him. To her, the entrance was overly messy.
“Please allow me…to clean the apartment completely.”
Amane thought it would be brazen for him to ask Mahiru to help, so he merely intended to ask her on how to clean up.
But he never expected Mahiru to offer her assistance.
“It is unbearable to think my neighbor has such a dirty room.”
Her words were always so overboard, and thus, he was not angry. After all, she was telling the truth, and he had no room to refute.
“And you are living alone without being capable of doing your housework? I suppose you spend your days with the optimistic mindset, thinking you will get used to it. Right now, you cannot do anything. How about you reflect a little on your actions?”
He had nothing to say.
His mother had said it would be easy if he had done his housework studiously, but he always let it be, resulting in this situation. He too realized he reaped what he sowed.
“Furthermore, this would not have happened if you had cleaned up daily. This is a show of daily laziness.”
Despite Mahiru’s words, one reason why he was not angry was because she had been taking care of him, and he had no pride to stand up to her. After all, she did correctly point out his past thoughts and actions.
It all ended up like this because he let it be, thinking he could settle it, and he could only quietly nod away at what she said.
“May I clean up this apartment?”
“…Can I ask you to do so?”
“Of course, since I suggested it. Also, I shall begin preparations. It is best if you lock any personal items you wish to hide, or any valuables in the storeroom.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
Sad to say, while her words were blunt, she was so earnest in offering her help, and he had no reason to worry that she would be stealing anything.
After all, she, who so abided by common sense and was a busybody, could not possibly harm others.
“…Are you not worried?”
“You’re not the kind of person to do that anyway.”
“Not that…are you not worried that I will see the things you will want to hide as a boy?”
“Sorry about that, but I don’t have such stuff.”
“Well, if you say so. I shall change my clothes and bring my cleaning tools over…I shall clean this apartment, thoroughly.”
Mahiru shrugged, and returned to her apartment. From behind, Amane watched her leave with a wry smile on his face.
Mahiru returned to Amane’s apartment in different clothing, a long white T-shirt, and khaki cargo pants.
The T-shirt clinging to her body emphasized her defined, curvy body.
She turned her hair in a bun, showing the white nape, leaving him a little uncomfortable.
Typically, she would be wearing a one piece dress or a skirt, so this was a new sight for him.
He was wondering if this boyish look would be suitable for Mahiru, but it seemed he was overthinking it. It was then he thoroughly realized that beauties would look good in anything they wear.
Nevertheless, while this clothing looked easier to move in, it could be worn for outdoor purposes. He wondered if she was fine with it getting dirty.
“Are you fine with it getting dirty?”
“I intend to dispose it some time later. It is fine even if it is dirty.”
So Mahiru said as she looked towards the devastation that was Amane’s apartment, and sighed.
“Just to say this, we are doing this thoroughly, understand?”
“If you do, let us hurry. I am not going to hold back, and not going to let you compromise.”
Is that alright? So Mahiru implied with silent pressure, “Yes.” And Amane could only abide.
Thus began the cleaning operation launched by the Angel.
“First, bring the clothes into the laundry basket. Cleaning should go from top to bottom, but if we want to use the vacuum cleaner, we need to sort that out. There are so many clothes, so we need to separate them in batches. Also, split those that you have worn and those that you have not. We can wash them all, right?”
“Ahh just do what you want…”
As to be expected, even if they had a vacuum cleaner, they had to start from the mess on the ground.
“…You do not have any undergarments lying around, no?”
“I’ll keep them in the closet at least.”
“Good. We will deal with the laundry later. Even if we wash and dry them now, the dust will fly when we clean it up. There is insufficient space to dry. If you are not really in need of them, we can wash them once we are done cleaning.”
“…Then, the magazines can be discarded. It would be one thing if you are collecting them, but I guess not given how they are all over the place. Cut out the pages you want to keep, and deal with the rest. Tie them up, and bring them to the waste collection area.”
Mahiru quickly got down to cleaning, instructing Amane to keep his clothes in the laundry basket as she stacked up the magazines one by one.
She had asked if he had any magazines he really wanted to keep, but that was not what he was concerned by, so he shook his head. Seeing that, Mahiru bundled the magazines with the vinyl string she brought from her house.
“Once done with the clothes, please come here and sort out the other items on the floor. Same goes for them, sort out what you want and do not want, and discard the ones you do not want. Understood?”
“If you are unhappy about something, do say so.”
“No, not exactly…just that it seems very organized.”
“We will not have enough time otherwise. I do not want to see your room in a mess.”
It was their day off, but time was limited. Given that the noise of the vacuum cleaner would disturb their neighbors, they could only do so in the day.
And the work before the vacuuming was laborious as it was. Mahiru understood this, and told him to hurry with the packing.
He was apologetic about having to trouble Mahiru this much, but thanks to her, there was more space for footing, and he was truly impressed.
“Since you call me instructor, hurry up and learn. I cannot determine which are your personal belongings, so please sort out those that you require.”
“Please do not treat me like a boy.”
So the grim faced Angel retorted as she cleaned up with her nimble hands, sorting out things she could determine.
Amane himself had the urge to keep anything and everything, and thus he was grateful and envious that she could be so decisive.
It was another person’s room, but Mahiru really spared no efforts in cleaning up. She was truly acting like a housemaker, in a homely manner.
Her orderly movements made it seem that she could have easily cleaned this apartment herself.
But she might have been too hasty, for she did not notice her footing.
What happened next was undoubtedly Amane’s fault, for Mahiru stepped on his clothes on the floor, losing her balance.
“Ah.” So Mahiru blurted, and at that instant, Amane instinctively slid towards the floor she was about to fall upon.
He felt a soft sensation and a sweet scent, along with some smell of dust, which was probably caused when he hurried over.
His buttocks felt a blunt pain as he landed, but it was still endurable, and he only blurted it out. At the same time, he could feel her weight boring upon him.
He was fortunate that he was able to stop her at that instant.
Mahiru lifted her face, staring at him with a stunned look. She did not appear to be fuming, but it appeared she had lots to say.
“Sorry for falling over. Well, we are cleaning the house because this will happen.”
“My sincerest apologies. I’m reflecting about this…you hurt anywhere?”
“I am fine. Thank you for catching me. I should be the one saying sorry.”
“No, this is my fault…”
Amane had already been receiving dinner from her, and now he was receiving assistance in cleaning. It would be unspeakable for him if she was to be hurt because of this.
One might say he was so apologetic, he dared not look at her face.
If Mahiru was willing, he would have considered kowtowing towards her, but it seemed she did not not intend to blame him for her falling over.
“We are cleaning up to prevent this from happening, you know?”
“I know. I’m really sorry.”
“…No, you don’t have to be so sorry. I came here to help after all.”
She panicked a little as she looked up at him.
She looked at him up close with uneasy eyes while clinging onto him, and he found it very difficult to calm down.
Amane, who had no luck with women, was already having a cardiac arrest at this distance, let alone a pretty girl in close contact with him.
Neither of them were in love with each other, but he found it really inappropriate.
Mahiru herself seemed not to have notice her posture, so Amane gently grabbed her shoulders, splitting them apart, and stood up before the shame reached his face.
“…Shall we, continue?”
Luckily, it appeared Mahiru did not notice Amane faltering, and she held his hand as she stood up.
Her face remained stoic like usual, not caring that they made contact.
Amane himself was thinking that a girl like Mahiru would not be so bashful given that so many boys showered her with affections, brushing this matter aside.
He looked towards her with a wry smile, apologetic for having her help, so he motivated himself and got down to cleaning again.
“…That shocked me.”
Cleaning was truly a hassle for him, given that he was unfamiliar with it.
And thus, he never noticed her little whisper and the slightly reddened eyes beneath her faint colored hair.
“…Fuuu, it’s finally clean.”
In the end, they spent an entire day cleaning up Amane’s house.
They cleared the personal belongings on the floor after several hours, washed the clothes, wiped the lights, the windows, vacuumed the floor, and by the time they were done, the sun was setting.
The sun was visible when Mahiru entered the house, and this was sufficient proof of how long they toiled on this.
But it was for this reason that Amane’s house looked pretty once again.
The floor was cleared of anything unnecessary, cleaned thoroughly. The windows and sills were cleared of dust, and so were the lights, looking brighter than before.
Amane’s room too was cleaned, so there was nothing scattered on the floor, and he could comfortably rest in there.
“We spent an entire day on this.”
“Well, it’s that messy…”
“All thanks to you.”
Amane could not lift his head towards the Angel cum savior, and could only look towards Mahiru with respect, given that she had helped him this much.
Goodness gracious, so she muttered as she tied the trash bag, having spent her valuable day off on this.
She might sound brutal, but she did not look displeased, instead looking accomplished. Nevertheless, she was a little lethargic, and that was to be expected given that she had toiled an entire day.
He could not bring himself to allow her to make dinner after this.
Leaving aside whether she would be cooking his portion, he would feel sorry if he let her work in such a tired state.
“I don’t want to go out and buy dinner now, so let’s order some pizza. I’ll pay for today, since I’ve taken much from you.”
“If you don’t want to eat it with me, you can take a slice back to eat.”
He could not stop Mahiru if she did not want to eat with him, but he could let her bring some home.
More than wanting to eat with her, he wanted to show appreciation to her, so he was fine eating alone.
“…Not that. I have never ordered pizza before though, so I am a little shocked.”
“Eh, you haven’t?”
“I have not ordered pizza since I live alone…though I have made it myself.”
“It’s amazing how you thought of making pizza yourself.”
Typically, one would order pizza either as a take-out, or a order out of three choices. There might be few like Mahiru who would spend the effort to start over from the dough.
“It’s normal to order a takeout. I often do it for myself. Wait, you’re not the type to go to a family restaurant alone?”
“I have never been there once.”
“It’s rare to hear that. I do go alone, especially when my parents are lazy to do so. Do your parents dislike going out to eat.”
“…Our housemaker would cook for us.”
“A nanny? Guess you’re loaded.”
It would be expected if she was a rich person.
Her etiquette, clothing and belongings looked posh.
Given how she had the refined vibe to her, it would not be strange to assume so.
And once she said so, Amane showed a smile.
“I guess you’re relatively rich.”
But he immediately regretted saying these words, for the smile on Mahiru’s face was more akin to self-deprecation than joy and pride.
Her response was muted when he mentioned about her parents, so it seemed she was on bad terms with them.
It seemed this was not a matter she really wanted to talk about, so he had no intention to probe at all
Every person had one or two things he would not want to mention or let others know. Not asking about certain things might be courtesy towards a person he was relatively unfamiliar with.
“Well, just think of it as an experience. Here, choose what you want.”
He decided not to talk about her parents, and showed her the pizza advertisement instead.
It was the shop Amane frequented, the best tasting of the delivery services he knew of in this area.
It certainly was not as good as one baked in a pizza kiln, but the toppings ranged from standard to kids appeal, and surely there would be some matching Mahiru’s tastes.
Seizing the change in topic, Mahiru took the menu, and quickly scanned her eyes over.
The transparent looking roasted tea colored eyes stared at the photos of various pizzas.
Those eyes, always devoid of emotion, seemed to be sparkling with life.
（…Wait, is she actually looking forward to this?）
Perhaps he was thinking too much, but she appeared a little excited, for once she had a look at the menu, she pointed at a four flavored pizza typically found at parties, “This is what I want.” implying so.
Mahiru peered over to him, as though peeking, and once he agreed, light began to glow in her eyes.
He made a wry smile seeing her obviously elated face, and with a single hand, he dialled the number listed on the advertisement.
About an hour later, the pizza arrived, and Mahiru quickly ate it.
There were four flavors, and she seemed to have trouble deciding which one to choose from, only to begin with the bacon and sausages.
Not unexpectedly, she showed a princess-like side as she chewed on the pizzas in small bites.
She was holding it in her hands, but there was some elegance to how she ate, and it was likely she was raised to do so.
But at the same time, he found her as adorable as a little animal.
She narrowed her eyes at the stretching cheese strands, her relaxed cheeks looking strangely adorable.
Typically, she looked really matured, poised even, but at this point, she was acting her age.
And as she munched down on the pizza in little bites, Amane had the urge to pat her on the head.
“Nothing. Just that you look like you’re enjoying this.”
“Please do not stare at me.”
But her displeased frown was not cute in the slightest.
“…Well, to say this, you aren’t cute at all.”
“That does not matter. Actually, you’ll just be uncomfortable with me acting like I am at school, right?”
“Sorta. I’m more used to you being like this than at school.”
He never interacted with Mahiru at school, and never talked to her.
All he could see was the flawless, genial, beautiful smile she showed to everyone.
And in contrast, she was showing no heed to others this time.
This might have been the true Mahiru, and her gestures at school were simply her ‘going outside’ mode.
“For me, this part of you right now isn’t that tiring.”
“The uncute part?”
“Don’t be so vindictive…but well, I don’t know what you are thinking of at school.”
“Mostly food and lessons.”
“You’re still playing the fool?”
Amane was implying that Mahiru was hiding something, but the latter merely took the literal meaning.
It appeared she was not pretending, and looked at him with a displeased look.
“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean that I can’t see your heart, so like, I don’t know what you’re thinking at school, and you’re still unfriendly now, but it’s easier to interact when you can express your feelings honestly.”
“…Is my behavior at school inappropriate?”
“That’s how you deal with things, and I don’t think that’s bad. But you’re not tired?”
“No. I have been like this since young.”
“Guess it’s ingrained.”
If she was ingrained with that mentality since young, her etiquette was understandable. However, this meant that she was consciously acting like ‘an ideal child’, and was doing so because she had no choice.
But he could not bring himself to ask further about such family details she had vaguely hinted at.
“Well, it’s good to be able to relax though? I managed to relieve some stress from you.”
“…I cannot relax when you are so hopeless.”
“Sorry about that.”
As he shrugged in an exaggerated manner, Mahiru giggled.