『Can we drop by at your place tomorrow, Amane?』
Amane’s father sent this message at 10pm, on the third day of the year. They had finished dinner, and Mahiru had returned to her place.
『It is fine for you not to return home, Amane, but I do want to see your face. Also, I heard from the two of you, so I thought I should greet the neighbor.』
The father—Shuuto knew how much Amane was taken care of by Mahiru, and wanted to greet her as his parent.
Amane would have refused with all his might if Shihoko did not know about Mahiru, but she knew, and Mahiru herself had been contacting Shihoko quite the bit, so it was pointless to refuse.
There was nothing to hide, so he was not repulsed by the idea of his parents checking on the son that had never returned.
If Shuuto was showing up with Shihoko, he should be able to rein the often rampaging latter.
In fact, without him around, it would merely be a repeat of the chaos just days ago that wore both Amane and Mahiru out; it would be troublesome if Shuuto did not exert himself.
Amane determined that if he were to refuse, Shihoko would brazenly visit Mahiru again, so he agreed to his father’s request, before sending Mahiru a message.
“Erm, is it really fine for me to intrude upon your family reunion?”
The following day, Mahiru appeared at Amane’s house since morning, and was looking a little nervous.
It was to be expected, in a certain sense, since the ones visiting were parents of the boy she had taken care of…a little incorrect here, the boy she spent much time with.
It appeared Shihoko had contacted Mahiru before; rather, they were well acquainted since they were in constant contact.
It would be one thing if Shihoko was the one visiting, but this time, the father would be accompanying, and it was no wondering Mahiru was so tense.
“Well, dad just wants to say hi to you, and mom’s really interested in you, so I want you here. Actually, you have to be here.”
“E-even though you say so…”
“I get that you aren’t too willing, but I hope you’ll endure it for now.”
It might be a surreal situation for her to greet his parents, but since they wanted to meet, he hoped they had no other choice.
Amane was sorry about taking up Mahiru’s time, but such was his father’s personality that he would feel restless if he never got to greet Mahiru, so he hoped she would just endure for a while.
“…How did Shihoko-san introduce me?”
“Relax. Dad kept saying you’re a benefactor. He specified that we don’t have the kind of relationship my mom’s fantasizing about.”
It appeared that Shihoko had deemed Mahiru a daughter-in-law, a cute daughter even, so Amane had vehemently denied this.
Shuuto grimaced a little,『Shihoko-san’s bad habit is at work again』 as he noted understandingly, so there should not be any misunderstanding.
Once he saw Mahiru looking a little relieved as she put her hand on the chest, “Sorry.” Amane waited with a wry smile. Right on cue, the doorbell rang.
They had keys to the entrance, so Amane expected them to enter directly.
Mahiru jolted greatly, and Amane smiled as he consoled her, before heading towards the door and unlocking the chain.
He opened the door, and found the parents he was used to seeing.
“It’s been half a year, Amane.”
“It’s been a while, dad.”
Shuuto showed a calm smile, and Amane too gave a smile of some relief.
Shuuto was one who had a calming vibe to him, the type who could easily calm those around him. Amane relaxed once he met his father again.
“You’re treating your mom so differently…”
“That’s because you showed up out of a sudden, mom. I would have welcomed you if you told me first.”
Most importantly, it was because Mahiru was around, and Amane would have been a lot more relaxed if he was alone back then.
“Anyway, come in…what’s that?”
“Various things~. That aside, where’s Mahiru-chan?”
He tersely answered, and accompanied his parents in, the latter having removed their shoes. An uneasy looking Mahiru was seated there, looking at them—and she widened her eyes.
It was not unreasonable for Mahiru to be shocked.
Shuuto’s young appearance belied the fact that he was in his late thirties. Even if she was to ignore the favorable comparison against his son, he had the face of a man around thirty years old.
He had a young face, baby-like even, and for the umpteenth time, Amane wished he could have inherited more of those genes.
Unlike Amane, the man had a kind expression, a friendly looking youth (even though he was middle aged), so many had often wondered if they were actually blood related. When they walked together however, they resembled brothers with a large age gap.
“Mahiru-chan, it’s been a while.”
“Been a while? It hasn’t been a month.”
“That’s long enough for me.”
Mahiru saw Shihoko scurry towards her with a beaming face, “It has been a while.” Mahiru answered with a smile shown to outsiders, correcting her sitting posture.
However, she looked a little perturbed towards Shuuto, the latter noticing the stare and stood next to Shihoko with a calm smile.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Amane’s father, Shuuto Fujimiya. I have heard about you from Shihoko-san, Shiina-san. That you’ve been taking care of our son.”
“Nice to meet you. I am Shiina Mahiru. I have been in the care of Amane-kun.”
Shuuto made a beautiful formal bow, and Mahiru followed suit with a formal greeting.
It appeared Mahiru was worried if Shuuto would have a similar personality to Shihoko, but Shuuto was a kind person with common sense, and it was hoped Mahiru would calm down as quickly as possible.
Shuuto was the only one who could apply the brakes on Shihoko, and the latter was weak against Shuuto. One reason was that she was overwhelmingly fond of him though.
“Why, you don’t have to be so humble, you know? Amane’s sloppy after all.”
“Sorry for being sloppy.”
“Alright Shihoko-san, don’t say that now…Amane, have you thanked her properly for taking care of you all this while?”
“I did my best.”
Females are to be treated respectfully, Shuuto had taught his son this, and might have been worried if the latter had thanked Mahiru properly.
After all, Amane was uncomfortable with leaving everything to Mahiru while he got to enjoy, and of course, he felt he did all he could for her.
Shuuto was relieved to hear Amane’s reply, and again turned to meet Mahiru in the eyes.
“…Really, how do I thank you here? It seems you were doing all the daily dishes, and even the Osechi…”
“I’ve always been thanking her, and I’ve been helping her out.”
“Yes…surprisingly, Amane-kun is rather concerned about me.”
“How surprising is this surprising you speak of?”
He might appear crude, but he does pay attention to detail, so Mahiru said, and Amane was left speechless, unable to refute the fact that he was crude; Shuuto showed a kind smile.
“Looks like the two of you are really on good terms. Don’t cause Shiina-san too much trouble here.”
“Same to you, Shiina-san, do correct Amane if there is anything he does not do well. He might not look like it, but he’s a really honest boy. Do correct him if there’s anything you don’t like.”
“Amane-kun is very kind; as for anything I dislike…erm, just a little.”
“So there is.”
“…Rather than dislike…I will say it is a flaw.”
She seemed to be stammering for words, and if he were to ask what was bad about him…she would be unable to reply.
For some reason, “Hahan” Shihoko seemed to have an idea as she burst out laughing, looking towards Amane. What now, that was the only response Amane could muster.
Even though they were his parents, they were still guests, and it was imperative to serve them. Mahiru however insisted on serving tea, so Amane left it to her.
He never expected that the tea set and black set Mahiru brought for him to drink would be used in this situation.
His parents were seated on the sofa they normally sat together on, beaming away.
“Why, thank you Mahiru-chan. You’re completely used to this.”
“Normally, Amane should be the one doing this, right?”
If Amane was to brew the tea, only the bitterness would be extracted, so Mahiru took charge. However, Shihoko looked a little dumbfounded.
“No, I want to do this…”
“Well, if Amane’s to do this, the tea might not be of appropriate temperature. That’s to be expected.”
While she was right, he was peeved to be criticized thusly.
However, he could not refute this, and could only shut up, only for Shihoko to look towards him, grinning away.
“Speaking of which Amane, you have been addressing Mahiru-chan with her name now.”
Once she suddenly pointed this out, Amane and Mahiru froze in unison.
He had forgotten about this as he had been addressing her naturally. When his mother last met them, Amane did not call Mahiru by name, and Mahiru was fidgeting when she addressed him back.
At this point, both of them addressed each other so naturally, and Shihoko naturally would let her thoughts run wild.
“…That’s fine, right?”
“That’s nice, I think. Good to be intimate.”
She deliberately chose not to press the matter further, merely looking towards Amane with a clear smile, the latter sensing his cheeks shaking.
Perhaps it was better for her to tease him instead. Whenever Shihoko was in such a state, her mind would be imagining all kinds of oh me oh my happy situations.
“Shihoko-san, stop teasing Amane.”
But Shuuto slammed the brakes here.
“This is a bad habit of yours, Shihoko-san. Don’t tease him too much.”
“Yes, too bad, but I have to stop.”
Shihoko would only listen to Shuuto’s words, and as the tormented son, Amane was really grateful for that.
“But it is great seeing our son get along with such a cute girl.”
“I was worried that your bad habit will run wild, Shihoko-san.”
“Oh, are you stopping me now, Shuuto-san?”
“I think it is good for you to change when you have some self-awareness, but I can’t help you when this is another thing I like about you.”
While he did stop her, the parents started veering into their own world, for some strange reason, and Amane blatantly sighed.
Shuuto was usually one of common sense, but he would instinctively dote on his wife, resulting in an unapproachable vibe around him from time to time.
Luckily, he would only do so in front of family, and would not be so brazen outdoors. Perhaps he was sufficiently relaxed, for they were in Amane’s house.
The son was fine with his parents being lovey-dovey after so many years, but he wished for them to at least be aware of where they were at, to be considerate to others who were watching.
Amane did not want to interfere the moment he saw them end up that one, so he just slumped into the chair he took from the dining room, ands sighed hard again.
Mahiru too prepared a chair next to him, and quietly watched him.
“…Your parents really are on good terms.”
“I guess. They aren’t like this outside, but that’s how it feels at home.”
He answered with a wry smile, and Mahiru narrowed her eyes at Shihoko and Shuuto.
She was not looking displeased; rather, it appeared she was looking at something dazzling.
Her eyes were full of admiration and jealousy, as though she was looking at something precious.
As she watched them with a faint smile that could only be described as fleeting, he reached his hand towards her without thinking—.
“Oh Amane, what’s the matter?”
Shihoko seemed to have returned to reality, and Amane retracted his hand upon hearing her voice.
“What do you mean what? It’s because you two are in your own world that we’re really restless, mom.”
“Oh, you jealous?”
“Not, jealous, at, all. Just, do that sort of thing at home.”
It seemed they never noticed Amane nearly holding Mahiru by the hand, and neither did the latter, so she could only give a wry smile at his words.
He did not know why he reached the hand out.
But it seemed that…he did not want that Mahiru to feel alone.
He was relieved to see Mahiru revert back to normal, and maintained a usual scowl so as not to be noticed.
“So, are you two happy to see your own son now?”
“Rather than you, Amane, we’re happy to see Mahiru-chan …”
“Just half joking. We are not done with our objective here.”
He thought Shihiko’s objective was just to make a New Year visit, and to say hello to Mahiru, but it appeared Shihoko had some other plan in mind.
“Amane, you two haven’t done Hatsumōde, right?”
“We’ll go when there’re fewer people around.”
“I guessed so. You haven’t gone too, Mahiru-chan? That’s what you wrote in the message.”
“Since I expected this, I brought kimonos~”
It appeared Shihoko wanted to attend Hatsumōde with Mahiru.
Amane realized at this point why she was grinning away and carrying such a large, and sighed again for the umpteenth time on this day.
Shihoko liked cute things, and liked to dress people up. Surely she would not miss out on this chance.
Amane knew there were a few kimonos back home, and it appeared she brought them all.
“I dreamed of having a daughter dressed in kimono for Hatsumōde…I think it will fit Mahiru-chan well.”
“Mom, you just want a doll to play dress up on…”
“Not true though? A big reason is that I want Mahiru-chan to wear it.”
It’ll really fit her after all, Shihoko was utterly confident in thinking she was correct.
Though it appeared there was no clothing that would not fit Mahiru well.
As far as Amane knew, she had worn boyish clothing, princess-like clothing, girlish clothing with frills and lace a few times, and they all fit her well. It seemed a pretty girl could fit any clothing onto her.
And so would the kimono, it seemed.
The Fujimiyas had only one son, and Shihoko would never let the chance to dress up a daughter slip by.
“…Well, if Mahiru’s fine with that, you can dress her up.”
“Why are you making it sound like you’re not going?”
“Well, it’ll be troublesome if the guys at school see me with her.”
If his parents went with Mahiru to Hatsumōde, they might look like family, so that should be fine.
But it would be problematic if Amane himself was to join in.
If those in the same year were to see the unimpressive looking Amane together with Mahiru during the shrine visit, he could imagine a hellish scene of agonizing wails after winter break ends.
After all, he did not want to go for Hatsumōde while bearing such risk.
“It’s fine if you’re not noticed, right?”
“If we aren’t, but normally, we’ll…say mom, are you actually?”
“Fufu, this situation is why I prepared so much stuff here, you know?”
“What do you mean, this situation!?”
There were kimono, juban, and little props. Amane felt she would not have brought that much luggage if it was all related to kimono, so it appeared she brought more just to mess with him.
“Shuuto-san was enthusiastic about this too.”
“It’s a rare chance, so why not? I think that since it’s an annual thing, we should go together.”
It was hard to refuse now that he had spoken.
Shihoko’s suggestion involved Shuuto’s heavy emphasis on family, and Amane would feel bad if he were to refuse.
“It’s fine. Trust mom here. I’ll definitely dress you up as a handsome guy unlike before, Amane! ”
“So you’re saying I look ugly now?”
“Of course your face resemble Shuuto-san’s, nice looking in fact, but the hairstyle and the mood around you feels so bland. It’s so boorish, as they say.”
He knew he looked boorish, but he willingly dressed so because he felt like it—and did not want to be pointed out.
“You could have been more handsome if you dress up a little, Amane. Just that you find it too much of a hassle…”
“Stop being a busybody.”
“What a pity…say Mahiru-chan, you want to see Amane dressed up a little better too, right?”
With the ball suddenly on Mahiru’s court, the latter widened her eyes, and clearly looked flustered.
Amane hoped that Shihoko would not pressurize Mahiru that much, but Shihoko continued to press on without a care.
“If Amane dresses better, I think you’ll have a different opinion of him, Mahiru-chan. He actually looks decent there, you know? You aren’t honest with yourself, but he has Shuuto-san’s gentlemanliness. A little dress up and he’ll look like a good man.”
“E-erm…is-is that so…?”
“You don’t want to go to Hatsumōde together?”
“A-actually, I wa-want to, but,”
“Oy don’t sell me out here.”
Amane hoped Mahiru would refuse in fear of the really unlikely situation, and she glanced aside after he retort.
“…It is fine if you do not want to, Amane-kun.”
Shuu. She sounded a little deflated as she lowered her eyebrows, and he found himself struggling to breathe.
While she intended to keep her feelings to herself, she obviously found it a pity. It was not shown deliberately, but naturally.
She silently lowered her long eyelashes, causing a strong sense of guilt to arise within him.
“You made Mahiru-chan sad.” Shihoko in turn gave Amane a reproaching look, “Just hurry up and give up.” Shuuto in turn gave such a look, grrr, and Amane let out a little groan.
Surely it appeared he was bullying Mahiru here, no?
Faced with such looks, he could only surrender.
“Okay, we’re done.”
Shihoko combed his hair here and there, pinched his face, and matched clothing on him, and he felt a little fatigued once he was released
Amane himself did not have much interest in clothing, and this time was one of suffering to him. However, he looked into the mirror, and found the hard work had paid off; the mirror showed a handsome face incomparable to before.
Shihoko chose a dark grey Chester coat over a white turtleneck and black slacks, a simple, but not too casual outfit.
She made sure he did not dress too casually, as they were to partake in a celebratory New year event, the current getup looking a little formal.
Amane did not like clothing that was too colorful; the monotone, dull colors fit his tastes better.
He then checked his hairstyle; his slightly long bangs were ironed and waxed, combed to the side thanks to Shihoko’s skills, showing the eyes that were usually hidden behind.
Once his eyes were exposed, the impression he gave looked a lot brighter, and furthermore, his hair looked more solidified, giving a sophisticated vibe.
The boorish look his mother and Itsuki ridiculed him for was no longer to be seen, and standing before the mirror was a completely different, refreshed dashing boy.
“You could have looked a decent lad if you tidied up a little. Why wouldn’t you.”
“I don’t have interest in it.”
“You’re always like this, Amane. You can’t look refreshed when you’re always scowling away.”
He scowled, berating her for these unnecessary words, but he could not deny the fact.
“Now then, I’ll tidy up Mahiru-chan, so wait in the living room now.”
Amane was in his room when this was done, and he did not know how Mahiru looked, for she had returned home to change.
Mahiru returned home to put on the clothes, for she could do it on her own. Given that fact, one could understand how capable she was.
He saw Shihoko leave the room, and looked into the mirror once again.
It had been a while since he dressed up like this, and he did not appear to be himself.
“……Well, this isn’t so bad.”
He might look unsightly standing next to Mahiru, but it was a lot better than his usual self.
Ain’t bad to do this once in a while, so he fiddled with his hair that were unblocked by his bangs, muttering away.
After waiting dozens of minutes with Shuuto in the living room, he heard the door open.
He was not displeased about having to wait, as he had heard that women needed lots of time and effort to dress up. However, he was worried if Mahiru was sexually harassed by Shihoko.
He anxiously stood from the sofa, looked towards the entrance, and saw Mahiru silently entering the living room.
He was mesmerized upon first sight.
Usually, Mahiru would not wear Japanese clothing, and he did not get the chance to see her in it.
Thus, he felt that it would fit her well—but not this well.
Shihoko said that it was not easy to move through the crowds in a furisode, so she chose a komon instead. The faint pink base was matched with little plum patterns, and fitted Mahiru so well, one had to wonder if the clothing was Mahiru’s to begin with.
Mahiru usually would not wear pink, and at this point, she looked really posh and feminine.
The sides of the faint colored long hair remained, and the rest were held up by hairsticks. The pure white neck and dangling accessories emphasized her femininity, making her alluring.
The beautiful makeup matched her already beautiful appearance, and her vibe as an innocent beauty was emphasized thoroughly.
“How about it? I find it rather cute. My effort in dressing Mahiru-chan up hasn’t gone to waste since she’s so pretty to begin with.”
“Yep, it suits her alright.”
Shuuto praised with a smile, and Mahiru lowered her eyes gaudily. This gesture made her so alluring; beauties were really terrifying after all.
“Come on, Amane, you have to say what you think here.”
“Well, it suits you.”
Amane could not bring himself to lavish praise on her before his parents, so he just made a painless appraisal, but Shihoko was really displeased.
“…You can’t do that here, you know?”
Shihoko reproached his uselessness, but Amane did not want to praise her more before his parents, so he turned his face aside.
Dumbfounded by Amane, Shihoko merely sighed and let him off the hook, for she understood his personality well.
“Goodness…anyway Mahiru-chan, what do you think? Amane looks completely different now, right?”
“Y-yes. Completely different from usual …”
“He could have been popular if he usually dressed up like this, but he just wouldn’t. It’s a pity.”
Amane felt Shihoko was saying unnecessary things again, but the latter merely sighed, as though it really was a pity.
“Amane really resembles Shuuto-san, but it’s disappointing how he doesn’t use it well. Too bad~”
“That’s enough Shihoko-san. Amane’s of this age too, you know?”
“Shouldn’t he think of being more popular?”
“Amane’s the type to be fine with just one. He might find it a hassle to have too many.”
Shuuto wanted to coax Shihoko, but her delusions were further fueled.
Well, it was true that Amane would rather have a single person next to him than to be popular amongst many…so Shuuto said, and Amane himself agreed with this sentiment. But in this situation, would it not seem that Mahiru was that special someone?
He could only turn his back on Shihoko’s radiant smile.
Why does she have to let her thoughts run wild? He wondered, but he was aware others would view them in the same vein.
At the very least, Mahiru was special to Amane, or so he could admit.
But while that was fact—
He glanced aside at Mahiru, making sure she did not notice him, and sighed.
（Well, I can say I like her.）
He felt he was fond of her.
But he felt there was a distinction from it being outright love.
“Mom, what you think of doesn’t exist. Enough nonsense and get the car ready.”
“Such an unpleasant kid…goodness. Well that’s fine, Shuuto-san, shall we get the car ready?”
It appeared Amane successfully diverted the topic, for the duo began preparations to move out.
He left the choice of shrine to his parents, and watched their backs depart for the parking lots right outside the apartments.
“…I got all my stuff in my bag, so I don’t have to prepare much. What about you, Mahiru?”
“Eh, they are all in this bag.”
Suddenly, there was the two of them, and he felt a little restless. Filled with such emotions, he checked if the windows were locked, and unplugged the unnecessary appliances.
He switched off the living room lights, and looked towards Mahiru again.
As expected, she was really a beauty, even if he did not look at her too intently. There were not many girls who would suit a kimono this well.
Though he never managed to praise her before his parents, there was no doubt to anyone that Mahiru was a real healing sight as a kimono beauty.
“What is it, Amane-kun?”
“Nn, well, it really does suit you. Like an innocent beauty in kimono. Really cute, really pretty, I think.”
He learned from Shuuto to lavish women with praise when it came to fashion, and he should have done so the moment he saw her, but it was too awkward for him to do so before his parents.
So once he stated his honest thoughts, Mahiru blinked a few times, her face gradually flushed as she pursed her lips.
Having recalled that this was the same reaction from before, Amane made a wry smile.
“Ahh, you don’t want to be praised? Sorry.”
“Th-that is not the case, but…Amane-kun, you are rather,”
She turned her face aside, and though Amane was confused, it appeared she had no intention to talk more, so he just gave up and went to the corridor alongside her.
Having considered that they would be walking, she was not wearing geta, but boots, a Japanese-Western style. Despite that, he could see how cute she was.
Shalan shalan, the hairstick ornament shook as she put on the boots, and then she silently moved towards Amane, who went ahead to hold the door.
They were being closer than they thought. It was rare for Mahiru to take the initiative to approach, and she gently tiptoed.
She wants me to listen? So he wondered as he bent down at the door. Mahiru cupped her hand before her mouth in a ring, and approached his ear.
“Erm…Amane-kun, you look cool too, I guess?”
After the little whisper, Mahiru darted past Amane, and hurried into the elevator hall. Bam, and Amane slammed his forehead into the door.
“…That was sneaky of her.”
That was retaliation, and Amane’s heart was pounding wildly.
Before of Mahiru, Amane took quite a while to cool his sizzling face down, and was met with his parents’ skeptical looks at the parking lots.
They took an hour ride or so from where Amane stayed, and arrived at a rather famous shrine in this area; there were much fewer crowds compared to what they saw on TV as expected, but there were still quite a few people around.
“There’s a lot fewer people, but there’s still quite a handful ”
“Mahiru-chan, don’t get lost here. We’ll keep an eye on you, and you have your phone. It won’t be too difficult to keep in contact, but it’s better to go to the shrine together.”
The kimono-clad Mahiru had the most inconvenience moving about, and was moving slowly despite wearing boots; the kimono would slow her greatly, and it was natural for her to move slowly.
It was not to the point where they had to squeeze their way in, but people were bumping shoulders, and they had to keep an eye on each other.
“Shall we go then?”
Shihoko led them into the crowd, first to the Chōzuya to rinse their hands and mouth. As expected, Mahiru was garnering lots of stares.
There were quite a few dressed in kimonos, and logically, Mahiru should not stand out too much even in kimono…but this did not seem to be the case.
To be honest, even in school uniform, and without ornament, she was attracting lots of attention. It was impossible for a traditional innocent looking girl to not attract attention while in Japanese clothing.
Even the manner she rinsed her mouth was so beautiful, and stares were gathered upon her.
“…Is anything the matter?”
He was displeased about others eyeing Mahiru, but he did not voice it out. He rinsed his hands and mouth as his parents did, and followed them.
He wanted to slow down and wait for Mahiru, but she was dressed in a kimono, not her usual clothing, and she had difficulty dealing with the hem, it seemed. There were many people present, and she was walking slower than usual.
“Mahiru, you alright?”
“This, this much is…hya!”
She lost her balance as she bumped into someone else on the shoulder, and was about to fall over, so Amane grabbed her arm.
“Doesn’t look like you’re alright.”
“Okay, lend me your hand.”
It was necessary to take care of her, especially when she was walking around while unused to such clothing.
He reached his hand to the little palm extending from the sleeve, and she looked up towards him.
Seeing her in such a state, Amane was about to reel his hand in, thinking she might be unwilling, but she hastily placed her hand onto his, looking up at him once again. He was left confused, and looked back at her.
Jiii, they stared at each other for quite a bit, and Mahiru was first to avert her eyes, grabbing Amane’s palm firmly.
There was no time for Amane to show any doubt, and they soon arrived before the Saisen box. While experiencing the touch felt from the hand, he buried the little doubt into his chest.
“You took quite a long while. What did you wish for?”
They left the crowd after making their prayers, and Amane asked Mahiru who had quietly prayed.
Mahiru prayed with an ideal beautiful action, her eyes closed and hands together for about twice as long as Amane did. He was nearly mesmerized by the elegant gesture after she moved her hands aside, and only then did he remember to ask what she prayed for.
“Just no illness or calamity.”
“That’s rather ordinary.”
But well, it certainly was just like Mahiru to wish for this.
He was thinking that she did not have much desire, and wondered what else she could have prayed for. It was as expected, and he was a little disappointed.
“…I want to live some peaceful days like this.”
This really was just like Mahiru.
It was something she would wish for, given that she disliked drastic changes, and liked peace and tranquility.
“That’s not going to happen with my mom around.”
“But that is fun in its own way…”
Is that so…? So he wondered, but he kept quiet after seeing how happy she was, and held her hand with a gentle look.
After all, they were still passing through a crowded place, and his parents were awaiting afar after finishing their visit. It would be troublesome if she was to trip over at this point.
Amane held her hand while thinking so, but she blinked slightly, lowering her eyes bashfully as she held his hand back.
“You two, over here~”
Shihoko’s voice was loud and lively, easily distinguishable.
Both of them approached the parents as though prompted, and Shihoko widened her eyes, her hand on her smiling mouth as she stared at them.
“You naturally held hands there, didn’t you?”
Upon hearing those words, he realized his mistake in holding hands before Shihoko.
Would this mean Mahiru was a special someone to Amane? Shihoko implied with a smirk, but it was not a joke to Amane.
“…I just don’t want her to get lost there. It’s easy to trip over in a kimono.”
“Of course. It is difficult to move around in kimono, and she needs an escort. I did the same with Shihoko-san.”
Shuuto was understanding, and did not find anything amiss about him holding Mahiru’s holding. Like Amane, he gently held Shihoko’s hand.
It would not be tiring if he could hold the hand as nimbly as his father did, but he could not do so because of his personality, so he was grateful that Mahiru held his hand obediently.
Upon seeing that Shihoko diverted her attention to Shuuto, Amane heaved a sigh of relief, but Mahiru did not release the strength in her hand.
Kyuu, it was controlled, but he understood that she was unwilling to let go, he whispered to her, asking what it was about, but she did not answer, her slender fingers still holding onto Amane’s.
“Mahiru-chan Mahiru-chan, I’m getting some hot drinks. Which do you prefer, Oshiruko or Amazake?”
“I shall have Oshiruko.”
Shihoko interrupted him from asking and letting go, so he could only continue to hold Mahiru’s hand.
“Then what about you?”
“…Amazake for me.”
But he was fine with Mahiru not hating him at least, so he restrained the slight itchiness arising in his heart as he told Shihoko what he wanted, before holding Mahiru’s hand again.
Soon after, Shihoko returned from the shop, and handed them their orders. They could not eat without letting go of their hands, so both decided to let go for the time being and rest.
His parents savored the Amazake together, beaming away.
While they were not alone in their own world, they were getting all touchy-feely. Amane was not in the mood to talk, and drank the Amazake he had just received.
It was drinkable in sips, and nutritious, but what Amane enjoyed was the sweetness and richness of the rice that spread in his mouth, and he could not help but sigh in relief and amazement.
Amane was not one to like sweets that much, but he was fond of red bean, and he really could not give up on choosing the Oshiruko. It was New Year though, and considering the mood, he chosethe other. Given his personal preference, he was correct.
He glanced aside at Mahiru, and found her looking poised, sipping the Oshiruko from the paper cup.
He saw her enjoy the Oshiruko that much, and was increasingly yearning for it. It was troubling to him.
（—I wonder if she’ll give me a mouthful.）
Will she let me drink if I ask? He looked towards Mahiru, who noticed his stare, and tilted her head in confusion. The ornament on her head shook, conveying an innocence that could not be expressed in words.
“Is the Oshiruko nice?”
“It is delicious.”
“Can I have a taste?”
He asked as he too wanted to try the Oshiruko, but Mahiru stopped so abruptly yet beautifully, it was bemusing.
“Eh, y-you may…”
So she answered, but she did not hide how shaken she was as she looked over at him timidly.
“If I can’t, that’s fine.”
“N-not that I am not willing; I do not mean that…it is just that.”
“No-no, that is fine. Here. I will like some Amazake too.”
For some reason, Mahiru appeared a little furious as she snatched the cup of Amazake, so Amane too took the cup from Mahiru.
The slightly viscous liquid clearly had the color of boiled beaned.
There was the distinct scent of red beans, and he took it to his lips. As expected, there was a sweet, rich scent, a little too sweet for him, for he was not the type to like sweets in the first place.
It was delicious, but it was then that he was painfully aware that red beans were best served with tea.
It appeared Mahiru liked sweets, and this sweetness was perfect for her.
He glanced aside at her, who took a sip of Amazake, her face a little flushed, and she seemed to be frustrated by something.
“It doesn’t suit your tastes?”
“Not that…Amane-kun, you noticed when eating the cake, but why have you not noticed it now?”
He realized why Mahiru showed such a reaction, and froze.
（I wasn’t opening my mouth wide, but this is an indirect kiss, right?）
He was thinking only about Oshiruko, and did not realize this. He had just proposed for a normal indirect kiss.
While he did not realize that, it would have troubled Mahiru, who showed such an attitude because of that, it seemed.
“S-sorry for this mistake. You don’t like this?”
“W-why do you think so? I am not unwilling, just…a little embarrassed.”
“I-I’ll take note of it next time. Sorry.”
Regardless of her feelings, it was a fact that he troubled her, so he lowered his head towards her, and she hastily waved her hands.
“I-I am not concerned.”
“I-I see? Anyway sorry, I can’t be acting like I’m around them.”
Itsuki and Chitose never minded about this, “We’re friends, that’s~fine~” they would say as they devoured Amane’s drinks and food.
Itsuki’s a fellow male, and he never treated Chitose as someone of the different gender. Even then, he did not think of it as an indirect kiss, just unhappy that his own stuff got taken.
He could not do that with Mahiru though. The fault belied in the fact that he did not notice it.
“Do you usually do that with Akazawa and the others?”
“W-well, we’re friends…”
Mahiru appeared to understand, though a little peeved, giving a conflicted look as she looked down at the Amazake, taking another sip.
“… Amane-kun and I are friends. This is fine.”
“O-oh…wait, you drank it all?”
“There was only a little left.”
There was no alcohol in it, but her face was completely red as she turned aside. In turn, he finished off the remaining one third of Mahiru’s Oshiruko.
The Oshiruko should be a lot colder than it was before, but it was still piping hot, and really sweet.
“Mahiru-chan, you really can cook.”
It was evening when they returned from Hatsumōde and rested a little. Mahiru changed clothes and began preparing dinner… but Shihoko wanted to stay over at Amane’s house just to observe Mahiru’s cooking.
The hometown’s a few hours car ride away from here, they were already tired, and it seemed they planned on staying over to begin with. Amane wished they would have permission from the head of the house, but that would be Shuuto, so he could not complain about it.
Luckily, they had an extra futon for guests, and they probably would share it. They slept together back home anyway, so it would not be anything drastically different
“Thank you very much.”
“You really are capable for a high school girl. I couldn’t do this when I was in high school.”
“You’re not as capable as Mahiru now mom.”
“Did you say anything?”
Amane heard a monotone from the kitchen, and played dumb as he leaned his back into the sofa.
Next to him, Shuuto was going “Stop bullying Shihoko-san”, but usually, Amane was the one being bullied, or rather, teased. This little bit of payback should be somewhat acceptable.
While Amane played dumb “How rude”, the voice reached him from the kitchen, but she reverted back to her cheerful voice as she spoke to Mahiru.
Mahiru too did not hesitate in talking to Shihoko. It seemed she was used to the latter’s vigor and personality, for she looked really calm.
From afar, he saw them cook amicably, and sighed in relief.
“Shihoko-san is rather curious about Shiina-san.”
Shuuto smiled as he too stared at their backs.
“Well, she’s capable, cute, and has a good personality. No wonder mom’s curious about her.”
“What do you think then, Amane?”
“…Nothing much, just that she’s a nice person, and cute.”
Amane immediately assumed Shuto was just casually checking, but the latter was never one to pursue the matter, so it seemed he was just interested in what Amane thought.
And he did not inquire further into Amane’s reply.
“I am looking forward to enjoying the cooking you get to eat every day, Amane.”
“I can guarantee that it tastes good. As long as mom doesn’t do anything unnecessary.”
“Don’t worry, Shihoko-san wants to try some of Shiina-san’s cooking too. She’ll just be helping out.”
“That’s good enough.”
Not that Shihoko’s cooking was bad or anything, but compared to Mahiru’s delicate control of the flavoring, hers was relatively crude.
Shuuto was usually in charge of controlling the flavors, while Shihoko would prioritize volume and happiness.
Of course, she was the housewife who had a son with a growing appetite, so that would be expected. Amane however preferred Mahiru’s finely crafted tastes, and it would be great if her cooking charisma was unaffected.
Luckily, it appeared Shihoko was just helping out Mahiru, and nothing more. He sighed in relief as he watched them cook.
“Yep, it’s delicious.”
“Thank you very much.”
It was impossible for the dining table for two to fit all four of them, so they moved the larger folding table that was in the storage for dinner.
Mahiru was relieved to hear Shuuto’s heartfelt thoughts, and did not look as tense.
She had never shared her cooking to anyone other than Amane, except during cooking class, so she was a little tense…but she was at ease after seeing Shuuto’s kind smile.
“It really is delicious. Guess you don’t have to worry about staying alone or getting married.”
Shihoko looked over at Amane as she murmured away. The latter’s face nearly cringed, but he sipped at the miso soup with a stoic look.
He was already used to the rich taste of the soup.
He was completely conditioned to Mahiru’s flavouring, and did not desire for anything else other than her food. This might be a downside to eating Mahiru’s cooking every day.
“Amane, your thoughts?”
“It’s delicious of course. I’ve been thanking her all the time.”
Even without Shihoko prompting, he intended to express his thanks, but it sounded like he was being prompted to do so.
Whenever they were alone, he never forgot to praise her, but this time, he restrained himself as his parents were around, though he failed.
He praised Mahiru as usual, but she appeared a little restless, or rather, uncomfortable “…yes.” She whispered.
There was a slight blush on her face, probably because his parents were around.
Even though she was used to hearing Amane’s thoughts, hearing praises from three people would leave her somewhat bashful.
“You’re really cute, Mahiru-chan.”
“Shihoko-san, don’t tease her too much.”
“I’m not teasing her. Seriously, I just think she’s a pure innocent girl, you know?”
“Th-that is not the case…”
“Well, she is. Pure, innocent, you name it.”
She was pure. She would blush even when facing a guy who was not handsome, with his shirt undone. Innocent and naïve, maybe.
“Oh my, did something happen without us knowing?”
“Nothing in particular.”
“Nothing at all!”
Mahiru too firmly denied it.
It was not demeaning to call her pure, but she seemed to dislike being called so as she firmly denied it, so he did not continue on.
“Well, I’m fine as long as you don’t hurt Shiina-san, Amane. There is a limit to how much you can tease her though.”
“…See. Are you not teasing me now?”
“I’m serious about you being innocent though.”
Mahiru was sitting next to him, and she tapped at his leg beneath the table.
She looked towards him with slightly red cutes, “Sorry sorry” once he apologized, her pretty face made a pout, which made her rather cute. However, Amane held back the urge to laugh so as to avoid angering her.
“…How do I put it, see, what we brag about is being bragged before us here.”
“Isn’t that fine? Amane’s looking a little relaxed compared to usual.”
“Did you say something?”
For some reason, they were guessing away, so he hissed back at them, only to be met with nonchalant looks.
“Nn, sorry for having you cook for my parents.”
After dinner, they spent two hours or so talking, before turning in for the night.
However, his parents would be sleeping in the living room, so Mahiru would be the only one returning home.
His parents were off to bathe, so Amane was the only one to see her off
There was no need to see her off, but he did so just in case, and also to apologize for his parents’ recklessness for the day.
“No, I am fine. I enjoyed myself today.”
Luckily, it appeared she was not displeased in the slightest.
One might say she was really joyous.
“…I have understood the feeling of happiness, if a little.”
Mahiru showed a faint smile, accompanied by a soft voice as weak as a sigh.
The fleeting smile would seemingly vanish with the wind. He could sense some jealousy in her eyes, and had a rough idea of her family situation.
He felt he could not leave her be, so he inadvertently placed his palm on her hair, deliberately ruffling it.
She did not look annoyed, merely shocked as she looked up at Amane.
“Wh-what is the matter?”
“Not nothing…my hair is all messy.”
“You’ll be taking a bath anyway.”
“You are right about that.”
“…I can’t do that?”
“N-not that you cannot…but you should have told me first.”
“I already touched.”
“You are just reporting after it happened.”
So you’re willing to let me touch if I told you, he had such a thought, but he did not voice it out. He obediently apologized, and Mahiru let out a little sigh.
“Goodness…I am fine with that, but you cannot go about touching a girl on the hair.”
“No, it’s not like I’ll go about touching others…”
At the very least, Amane knew well that the only ones of the opposite gender he could touch were those close to him. He could not do any casual skinship like an outgoing person.
He treated Mahiru as someone close, so he would be sure she would not dislike him while patting on her head. However, he would not do this to anyone other than Mahiru.
To be precise, he would not touch anyone else, except when punishing the prankster Chitose.
Once he said he would not touch anyone else, Mahiru was quiet, and did not shake off his hand.
“…Now that I look at you, I do think you really resemble Shuuto-san, Amane-kun. I can tell even though we just met.”
“In what sense? Our personalities and faces are so different.”
“…You look similar. Really.”
She sighed hard this time, and this time, he rubbed her head with some frustration, but it appeared she did not dislike it.
（…Do we really resemble each other?）
Well, it was true that if they stood next to each other, they would be mistaken for brothers with a large age gap, but the vibe around them were completely opposite.
Their personalities were not completely contrasting, but they were not similar at all
One would thus have to wonder why she said they resembled each other?
He had a few questions on his mind, but it appeared she had no intention to continue talking, her eyes narrowed at Amane as she left it at that.
After he fondled enough, he let go of her head, and she suddenly reeled back, a little taken aback as she looked up at Amane.
“What, you want me to keep touching?”
He asked mischievously, “please stop” and Mahiru answered with a blushing face, so he stopped.
She appeared to be a little peeved, looking displeased as she opened her door, and snuck in.
Before he could regret going overboard here, she peeped through the door gap.
“…Amane-kun no, baka.”
Mahiru’s cheeks were slightly red, and she appeared to be pouting and yet fawning with sweet words, before closing the door.
（…Who’s the idiot here?）
It was Mahiru’s fault for causing his heart to suddenly jolt.
He let out a little sigh, and he leaned on the corridor wall to cool his heated body, before sighing out a breath of white air.
After sending Mahiru home, Amane returned to his, and his parents soon left the bath.
He looked away from the TV, and towards the sounds of the slippers, finding his parents already in pajamas. Naturally, they were holding hands, clearly showing how intimate they were.
Then again, they bathed together; there was no need to emphasize how close they were.
“We’re done bathing. You should go in too, Amane.”
“Nn…anyway, I’m surprised you two can actually bathe together. The bathtub here is large enough for one, but it’s a little too small for two, right?”
The apartment was rather spacious for one, the rooms were well laid out, but the bathroom was not that wide. The bathtub was not large enough for an adult male and female to stretch their legs out together.
“But we’re fine though? We just need to stick together.”
Don’t you say so, Shuuto-san? Shihoko smiled as she leaned onto Shuuto, who too gave a calm smile.
They were married for almost 20 years, yet they were acting like newlyweds. Amane could only show a wry smile
“Still as touchy-feely as ever.”
“Are you jealous?”
“Nope. I can take my time alone. Besides, I don’t have a partner.”
“You know, I really don’t have anything to do with her.”
For some reason, Shihoko really wanted to pair Amane and Mahiru together.
No, Shihoko really liked Mahiru enough to want the latter as a daughter, and Amane could understand after hearing her ramblings. However, it was a no go if she was to mistake his trust on Mahiru as love.
“Is that so?”
“Well well, Shihoko-san. Amane’s already at this age, and he’s rather sensitive to such things. Don’t tease him too much.”
“I’m not teasing, I’m being serious…”
He casually dismissed Shihoko’s words as he stood up, and got ready to enter the bath, “Amane.”, Shuuto called out.
It seemed Shuuto was not going to reproach Amane, unlike Shihoko, and there was no wry smile; just a serious, stern voice. Amane looked back at him with a puzzled look, and he responded with a calm expression.
“Have you been doing well ever since you’ve arrived here, Amane?”
Shuuto stared at Amane, leaving the latter surprised, but he smiled back at his parents.
“…Yeah. A lot better.”
His parents were surely worried.
They sought various opportunities to check on Amane. If there was anything, they would drop by to have a look.
They wanted to be sure that Amane’s mind was at ease.
“I see. That’s good.”
“Don’t worry. I got someone trustworthy next to me.”
Unlike before, he swallowed his words, “Ahh, Itsuki-kun?” and Shihoko showed a hearty smile.
“I haven’t met him directly, so I want to use this chance to say hello to him.”
“Don’t do that. You’ll definitely say something weird.”
“It’s not weird, just that how you’re so cute when you’re younger, Amane…”
“That’s weird enough. Please don’t…”
If she told Itsuki, it would definitely reach Chitose, and that was a fate he wanted to avoid no matter what, lest he be teased to hell and back, or even forced to show photos, which he did not want.
He resembled a really cute girl when he was younger, and he surely would be mocked. If his mother showed photos of his crossdressing, he might be rolling around in shame.
“But I just want to say hello, since he’s on such good terms with you.”
“You say that, but.”
“He must be someone really special for you to recognize such.”
“…I guess. He’s too good for me.”
He would not say that to Itsuki directly, but he was really grateful.
He was a gloomy boy, unwilling to interact, and would only stay in a corner of the classroom, listening to music; Itsuki however kept reaching out to him.
“I’m going to bathe.”
Itsuki himself was not present, but Amane would feel embarrassed to praise him, so he tried to misdirect them, and hurried to get clothes from his room.
He heard little giggles behind him, his lips cringing as he gaudily slipped into his own room.
The next morning, Amane woke up, tidied himself, and went to the living room. His parents had woken up, and were preparing breakfast.
“Morning. Breakfast’s done; sit down.”
Shuuto was wearing the apron Amane hung on the chair, and called out from the kitchen. Amane sat down on the chair as he gave a wry smile back.
Shuuto was used to the unfamiliar kitchen soon after arriving, probably because he was usually cooking.
Back home, it was Shihoko and Shuuto who took turns cooking, and Amane did not find it strange for them to be wearing aprons.
Shihoko was seated before the table restlessly. “I’ll handle this, so sit back.” She probably wanted to help, only to be told this or something.
Amane felt that he should help in some way, and got ready to stand up, but Shuuto arrived with a tray of piping hot rice and miso, not giving him a chance.
“No need for that. I didn’t do much, just used some of Shiina-san’s leftovers yesterday in the Tupperware. I just heated it up, made some miso soup and dashi rolled omelette.”
The Fujimiyas had a policy of having a proper breakfast, so they would not skimp on it.
Mahiru had leftovers from the dishes she made, so they were added into the menu. If not, Shuuto would have made another dish.
With a wry smile, Shuuto served rice and miso soup before everyone.
His dashi rolled omelette was really nostalgic, capturing Amane’s stare. Before he knew it, Shuuto was done laying out the dishes, and sat on the chair.
“Let’s eat then.”
Everyone expressed their thanks for the food in unison, and Amane first reached his chopsticks for the omelette.
The last time he had Shuuto’s cooking was the visit back in the summer. With a sense of nostalgia and anticipation, he cut a mouthful, and slowly brought it to his mouth.
The dashi taste spread, the sweetness and doneness of the egg nostalgic—at the same time, he sensed some imperfection.
“What is it?”
Shuuto asked worriedly once he saw Amane chew with a serious look.
“Nnn…well, it’s nothing.”
“I didn’t flavor it well?”
“N-not that, it’s nice…just a little different from how Mahiru does it.”
“Ahh, that’s how it is.”
It had been half a year since Amane ate Shuuto’s cooking, but he should be familiar with it. He took Mahiru’s daily cooking as the baseline however, and even he was shocked by that.
Of course, it was not Shuuto’s cooking was bad in any way, just that Mahiru’s cooking fit Amane’s tastes better. Despite that, Amane was unspeakably ashamed that his taste buds had adapted to Mahiru’s cooking over the course of a few months.
“You have become Shiina-san’s prisoner.”
“Just in terms of cooking.”
“Oh my, you’re saying that Mahiru-chan herself has no charm?”
“Nobody said that. I’m not going to be baited there.”
Shihoko would surely drag the conversation there, and Amane had no intention to partake in that conversation.
It seemed Shihoko’s objective was as Amane thought, and she lowered her eyebrows sadly. The latter snorted it off, pretending not to notice.
His parents would return soon before lunch.
Since they would have to go to work tomorrow, Amane suggested that they return soon to rest, or it would be tougher on them. They had to drive for a long time, and would surely be fatigued. It would be best for them to hurry home to rest.
“I want to spend more time talking to Mahiru-chan, and meet Itsuki-kun.”
Shihoko lamented as they went to the apartments’ entrance.
“Next time then…you need to tell Itsuki in advance. He’s not going to be available all the time.”
“Then you ask him out, Amane.”
“When I’m in the mood.”
Shihoko was clearly displeased knowing that Amane was not going to do so, “Alright alright” but after Shuuto coaxed him, she seemed a little better.
As Amane looked at them, the next door could be heard opening.
The flax color swayed, and peering through the gap was Mahiru’s face.
She probably came out after hearing Shihoko’s voice. For better or worse, the voice sure was far reaching.
“Thank goodness. I wanted to greet her there~”
The duo noticed Mahiru too, and went towards her house. Shihoko was beaming as she inched towards Mahiru.
Mahiru came out in shoes, and Shihoko immediately leaned over to her. The former was a little terrified, but not outright refusing; she probably did not hate it.
“Are you heading back now?”
“Unfortunately yes. We want to stay for two days, but we have work.”
“This wouldn’t have happened if we came earlier…too bad.”
Mahiru silently smiled at the parents expressing their regret.
“We’ll meet again next time, but it’ll be at our place.”
“Yes yes, I’ll go back during summer break.”
Make sure you return next time, and bring Mahiru-chan along, he sensed an overwhelming silent pressure from Shihoko’s intense stare.
What would she want to do with Mahiru? He wondered, but thinking that how the latter would spend every long vacation alone, it might be a good idea to bring her back. If she agreed to it, of course.
“You really aren’t being cute here. Isn’t that right, Mahiru-chan?”
“Eh, pl-please do not ask me that…”
“Alright Shihoko-san, stop troubling her…well, he’s not as honest as when he was younger.”
It appeared none was standing on Amane’s side, and he decided to shut up and ignore them. Shuuto then showed Mahiru a calm smile different from Shihoko’s.
“As you can see, our Amane is not very honest, but you can see he is a kind, understanding boy on a closer look. Please continue to get along well with him.”
“Can you don’t say that before me? It’s awkward for me, you know?”
He was praised, but he felt it was not helping him; it felt more akin to an enemy taunting and wearing away at his spirit.
He felt ashamed to be called kind and understanding.
He was not compassionate, just one who would get along with others with the love and respect needed. He felt an itch in his heart after being praised such.
He awkwardly tried to turn his face aside, only to meet Mahiru’s eyes. The latter blinked her eyes, and smiled faintly.
“…I do feel that Amane-kun is an honest, kind person. I should be the one asking to get along well.”
“Thank goodness for that. It’s relieving in many ways.”
Amane wanted to retort about the relieving in many ways, but rejected that thought as he was rattled by Mahiru’s words.
He felt really awkward to know that was how Mahiru viewed him, and dared not view her face directly.
Seeing that, Shihoko laughed away, but Amane could not respond except to bite his lips and shut up.
“You didn’t have to be courteous.”
Once his parents left his place, Amane whispered to Mahiru on the corridor.
He said that to remove the awkwardness around them, but for some reason, she raised her eyebrows, looking up at him.
She looked calm, but there was a silent pressure from her that intimidated him.
“Do you think I will say courteous things against my will?”
“You aren’t courteous to me, but I don’t know if you would be courteous to my parents.”
It appeared she was unhappy to be seen as faking her courtesy.
He instinctively tried to defend himself, but Mahiru was displeased, goodness gracious, before she sighed reluctantly.
“…You know, I trust you because I like your personality, and I agree to live together with you like now. I did not intend to be courteous.”
She was saying such embarrassing things so brazenly, and the heat naturally rose up to his cheeks. Luckily, it appeared Mahiru did not notice.
Amane nodded obediently, and she seemed to be pleased.
“Good that you understand. I shall now prepare lunch.”
It seemed that she would be preparing lunch over the first three days of the years.
She said as a matter of fact, and reached her hand to Amane’s door. Feeling embarrassed and yet delighted, he looked down towards her hair whorl
He himself wanted to say that she was the trustworthy one.
Amane never viewed Mahiru as the Angel, and similarly, Mahiru treated Amane as an ordinary neighbor. She trusted him because of this, and he was grateful for this more than anything else.
“Thank goodness I came here.”
It appeared she only heard him mutter, and not what was said, “Did you say something?” She turned to ask, “No, nothing.” Amane tried to pass it off, and returned to his house alongside her.