It is unexpectedly pointless, Amane stifled a yawn as he saw the principal standing on the podium afar, giving his speech with a grim look.
It was the closing ceremony, but Amane had no special feelings about this day. At this point, he was listening to the principal’s speech, and truth be told, he was so bored, he wanted to sleep.
The surrounding students seemed to have felt the same, and only a few students were actually listening attentive. Most were just ignoring it, or staring at the podium sleepily.
However, he could not look completely bored, so he maintained a serious look on his face. He really hoped for it to end quickly though, and the speech just went fell on deaf ears to him.
He might be a little moved if this was his graduation ceremony, but he could not muster the emotions given that it was just the closing ceremony.
It was bad to say so bluntly, but he felt it was pointless. He acted like a model student as he waited for the boring time to pass.
“…Ahh my shoulders hurt.”
“The principal spoke too long.”
Once the closing ceremony ended, such was the chatter around.
However, there was some life back in their voices, probably because they just needed to wait for their homeroom periods to end, and they would have approximately two weeks of free time.
From his seat, Amane saw his classmates show smiles as they were finally going to be released from their boring lessons, and he sighed.
His spring break would start the next day, so how would be spend it?
He had met his parents once, and he felt he did not need to go back, considering the transport costs. However, he really had nothing to do.
Even if he took the time to study for his second year, he had lots of time left.
He did not look for a temporary part-time job, since there were insufficient days for him to do so. Itsuki and Chitose were the only friends he could hang out with.
“Say say, Amane-kun.”
Speak of the devil, Itsuki spoke behind him.
He turned back to find a hearty smile…but the smile was so suspicious to Amane, he had a bad feeling about it. Whenever Itsuki showed such a smile, he would ask Amane to do something, or latter the latter in something calamitous.
“You free starting tomorrow?”
“Sorta free, I guess.”
“Yep yep, just as I thought. That’s good that’s good.”
With a beaming smile, Itsuki patted the bag hanging beneath, to the side of his seat.
He probably brought back lots of stuff from the locker and beneath his table, yet the bag was completely packed. He had no need to attend lessons, and logically, he had nothing else to bring back, some pencil case, files, wallets, and nothing much else. It was unnatural to have his bag this packed.
“Why bring them?”
“Let me stay over~”
He seemed to have said it with a heart shape at the end, basically begging demurely. Obviously, Amane ended up frowning at that.
“Say, you know what ho-ren-so means?”
“I know I know, it means visit, overnight, make noise, right?”
“That’s just causing trouble for the neighbors, you idiot bastard. You want to cause noise for them?”
“Just joking. Though really I want to stay over.”
Usually, Itsuki would inform Amane of anything he would do beforehand.
Thus, it appeared he encountered a situation that required him to hole out outside, but Amane could not figure out what it was.
“I had an argument against my dad this morning.”
He easily admitted to the situation as though answering Amane’s doubt.
“Nn. Once my dad gets mad, he’s not going to listen for days. I can’t just stay at Chitose’s place. Even though her parents are willing to take me in, well,”
“And it’s fine staying at my place?”
“Feels like you’ll take me in.”
Perhaps his thought process was, since he had stayed over a few times even when Amane’s house was so messy, it should be fine.
Amane himself was not unwilling to take Itsuki in.
However, the problem was whether Mahiru, who would be making dinner, would dislike this.
If Mahiru was to go into Angel mode at her usual respite, it might be too overbearing for her.
After all, she only showed her true personality to Amane, and would keep it hidden from Itsuki.
Another problem was that recently, Mahiru had been acting strangely adorable recently, sometimes bashful, and he had to wonder if she was being aware of him as someone of the other gender. Amane was fearful that if Itsuki saw this, the latter would have some baseless misunderstanding again.
“…I’ll call her in a bit.”
He had to ask Mahiru for her opinion, so he sent her a message. She would send a shopping list before she returned home, so she would see this message.
Amane messaged in a fluid manner, and Itsuki looked a little dumbfounded as he sighed.
“What, are you living together now?”
“Do you want me to make you sleep on the floor without heating and futon?”
“Should I thank you for your kind grace in taking me in, or bemoan that you’re so ruthless to let me freeze to death?”
“I want to bemoan that delusion of yours.”
What’s this guy saying now? He shot Itsuki such a look, and the latter shrugged.
Feeling that he should be the one shrugging instead, he did not want Mahiru to be troubled just because of some strange misunderstanding.
Itsuki himself was one to read the mood, and probably would not tease Mahiru, but he sensed that the latter would tease him when she was not around, and that depressed him.
He sighed at Itsuki’s grin. At this moment, it seemed Mahiru was using her smartphone as she replied『If you buy three people’s worth of food, I will cook as normal』 she allowed Itsuki to stay.
“She said okay.”
“Great, I get to eat her cooking.”
“That isn’t your aim, right?”
“Just a little one. I want to taste that cooking you keep praising, Amane.”
“…Don’t cause her trouble.”
“I’ll cause you trouble, but not her.”
“And don’t cause me trouble.”
Amane rewarded the leering Itsuki with a flicker on his forehead, “Oww!!” The latter yelled as he grinned away, and Amane let out a pretentious, deep sigh.
“So how long are you going to stay over?”
After school, they went shopping, and returned home. They relaxed a little, and Amane looked towards Itsuki who was treating the place like his own house.
Since Mahiru had been around, Itsuki hardly came by recently. He however had been here a few times, and was so familiar with the place, it seemed.
Itsuki sat cross legged as he drank the coffee, looking rather decent because of his good looks. He seemed to be thinking of something, his eyes wandering around.
“Nn, first off, I want to stay for 3 days. That’s troublesome, don’t you say.”
“Your dad isn’t a bad guy or something, just inflexible in accepting other people’s opinions.”
“You can just say outright that he’s a stubborn, bullish shitty dad who’s born in the wrong era here.”
“How can I allow my parent to tell off my partner to be?”
I’ll leave the house when I grow older anyway, Itsuki once spat, but he really did not dislike his father.
His father was a man of reason, and once pleased, he would treat others earnestly. The father was acting like this because Chitose displeased him, but he seemed a decent man to Amane.
He did not approve of Itsuki’s relationship with Chitose because they were of a somewhat prestigious family, and he hoped his son would choose a female of appropriate standing.
Also, another reason was that the father was bad at dealing with Chitose.
However, Itsuki was flatly denied by his father, and because of this, it seemed he chose to run away from home.
“You have it good here, Amane. You can do whatever you want.”
“My parents love each other too much, and they want me to choose someone I like.”
“I’m jealous of you.”
Itsuki at this point was a result of his strict upbringing, and Amane could not overly deny that.
According to him, dyeing his hair bright and dressing frivolously was him acting in protest.
“You say that, you really respect your dad, right?”
“I respect him as a person, but he’s hopeless as a parent, right? Oppressing me isn’t going to solve everything…he could have given me a little leeway, but he’s just giving me the whip all the time, of course I’ll bite back.”
“Is it good for the one given leeway to understand this?”
“I can take it if he just let me free, but he caged me and put a collar over me. That’s why I’m protest, that’s all.”
He doesn’t even understand this even after these decades, Itsuki shrugged, and finished the rest of the coffee.
“Well, you can relax a few days. Luckily we got a few days of break.”
“How nice to have a friend …!”
“Stay away, you disgust me.”
“I’m hurt!I want Shiina-san’s cooking as compensation!”
“You’re going to eat it even if you’re hurt, right?”
“Stop acting cute. It’s disgusting.”
“This scolding is so cruel…oyoyo.”
He pretended to cry, but Itsuki was still smiling, and Amane was stunned to see that, yet feeling a little relieved.
Itsuki often had disputes against his father, but it seemed it was a little worse than usual this morning. Amane might be imagining things, but he sensed Itsuki was mentally off. It seemed he had recovered somewhat.
Well, he could not say this to Itsuki, so he pretended to look aloof as he exhaled slightly.
The sun set, and Mahiru arrived at Amane’s house.
Her hands were empty, for Amane had already prepared her ingredients.
He told Mahiru that Itsuki would be staying over, and she did not falter even though Itsuki was spreading himself wide. Instead, it was Itsuki who was a little frantic.
“It has been a while, Akazawa-san.”
“Yep, same to you. Sorry for dropping by at your love nest…owowowow, I know, I’m just joking. Sorry for disturbing you. It’s bothersome having someone you’re unfamiliar with here, right?”
Amane silently stomped on Itsuki’s legs, and the latter cried out, grinning away and making a popular looking smile.
“No, that is not the case. It is better to be livelier.”
“It’ll just be noisy with him around.”
“You should not be saying that.”
Reproached into silence, Amane saw Itsuki leering away, so he pinched the latter in the flank, at a position Mahiru could not see.
However, Itsuki had the ideal male body type, and there was nowhere to pinch in particular.
“I shall prepare dinner now then. Please continue.”
While the duo continued their little skirmish, Mahiru showed an angelic smile, put on the apron, and went to the kitchen.
It seemed she probably did not know what to say, so she decided to leave Itsuki to Amane.
After staring at Mahiru’s back, Itsuki sheathed the leer on his face.
“…You’re on such good terms, you gave her your key?”
She would enter using the key given to her, because they were already used to it. She entered without pressing the doorbell, and Itsuki noticed this.
“Please continue, so Shiina-san says because she thinks this is a safe space for her? She’s already acting like your wife here.”
“Want me to chase you out?”
“I want to say…that I’m joking here, but this is an objective view of the situation, you know?”
Amane wanted to grab Itsuki on the neck, only for the latter to escape as he was on the carpet, starting the game. Amane got off the sofa, bumping him lightly with the kneecap, and sat next to him to play games and kill time.
After a while, he heard the plates being removed. He wondered if he should let Mahiru handle everything, so he stood up and went to the kitchen.
“I’ll help you out. Do I bring the plates with the food on?”
“Thank you very much.”
He served the dishes on the table as usual, and saw Itsuki looking dumbfounded.
“No, I’m not saying it.”
Itsuki did not finish his words as he went off to keep the game console. “What in the world?” Amane asked, sounding a little confused.
It was dinner time, and the trio gathered around Mahiru’s homemade dishes. Itsuki was looking really delighted.
“Thank you very much.”
Mahiru was seated upright as she enjoyed her food, showing a genial face. While she still had the angelic smile on, Itsuki knew of the secret, so her smile was a little more of her usual self.
Itsuki devoured the food in a trance.
Mahiru was told that Itsuki ate more than Amane, so Itsuki’s plate contained more food, but it seemed he was capable of finishing it all.
“Yaa, you’re really a lucky one, Amane, getting to eat such cooking every day…”
“I know that. Today’s food is delicious too.”
“……Thank you very much.”
Amane stated his thoughts as he drank the miso soup.
The dashi and miso soup really whetted one’s appetite, and would naturally relax the cheeks. It was really impressive that they could drink every day without getting sick of it, but the cook herself did not seem to realize this, so it was a daily duty to praise her.
The tender taste of the cooking seemed to showcase her personality, and soothed both the tongue and the heart. It was understandable why Itsuki was so entranced.
“Haa, it’s delicious.”
On this day, she cooked the dashimaki omelette Amane liked, the latter’s appetite increased by 20%. Of course, the usual cooking was delicious enough for him to ask for an additional portion, but that would increase further with an egg dish.
So delicious, Amane licked his lips as he ate the tasty food, only to find Itsuki staring at him and Mahiru.
“What did you say?”
Itsuki shook his head and pretentiously gouged through the food, so Amane did not press on, instead shrugging towards Mahiru who was watching calmly.
After dinner, Mahiru hurried home.
Normally, she would be at Amane’s place before the latter would go to bathe, after 9pm, but she returned earlier, probably because Itsuki was around. While Amane was washing the dishes, Mahiru seemed to be talking to Itsuki, looking a little awkward. That might be the reason why she returned home earlier.
He asked Itsuki what they talked about, “Just some questions about Chii” the latter answered, and Amane did not ask further, despite sensing that they talked about other things.
Before they slept, Itsuki laid out the futon on the floor of Amane’s floor, looking up at Amane on the bed.
“Seriously, you’re showing Shiina-san such a gentle look, and you say you don’t like her?”
“To a bystander, you’re completely head over heels for her.”
“Want me to chase you out?”
You’re still saying that, such was the look Amane shot back, but Itsuki showed no signs of repentance.
Itsuki was not leering away like before. He was looking delighted, approving even.
“Well, it’s expected of you to not be honest with yourself, but I’m glad. Someone knows about your good points, Amane.”
“Why do you sound so impulsive….most of the guys in class think of you as a gloomy, brash mouth plain boy with not much presence.”
“I know that.”
Amane’s position is class might be a boring, aloof, unimpressible boy with no defining traits. If others saw the exam rankings pasted on, they might add another point, relatively smart.
If one compared his face to the pretty and carefree boy Itsuki and the refreshing looking prince charming Yuuta, Amane might be considered devoid of personality.
One reason was that Amane deliberately intended not to stand out, but opinions of him were definitely not high.
“But that’s just what people see of you, not what they see inside you. I want others to see what’s inside you, but it’s hard to pinpoint that without understanding you to some extent.”
Jiii, Itsuki stared at Amane.
The latter felt uncomfortable, for Itsuki’s eyes were serious. The eyes showed no tinge of any attempt joke, or to tease.
“It’s too bad nobody knows that you’re really a great guy. I’m happy that Shiina-san can see what’s inside you and get along well with you.”
“So hurry up, woo her, and we can go for a double date.”
“That’s all you want to say?”
He felt the exhilaration was wasted, but this might not be a bad thing.
But Itsuki might find it unbearable not to joke, for he averted his eyes, and Amane guessed the words before were to hide Itsuki’s own embarrassment. “Chii will be happy too.”
“You can go alone…no wait, you two can go yourselves. Don’t involve me. Anyway, even if we do get into that sort of relationship, how about I going to go out with this face of mine?”
“Can’t you just use that old style of yours? By the way, I want to look.”
“Soooo, is it your guy heart that wants to show that to Shiina-san only?”
“Itsuki, choose, sleep forever under the cold skies, or shut up and enjoy the warmth.”
Itsuki sat on the futon in a seiza, “Goodness.” And Amane muttered dumbfoundedly.
Itsuki probably thought that if Amane had a girlfriend, he would have a happier life.
（…I guess it’s impossible, for me to be in a relationship with Mahiru.）
He was always in her care, and caused her much trouble. If they were to date, he felt he would be relying on her all the time, so he was scared. He was already a lowlife, and if they dated, he would fall vertically into degeneracy.
Furthermore, it seemed Mahiru was intending to avoid contact with the opposite gender.
She did not seem repulsed by Amane, Shuuto, and Itsuki whom Amane trusted. Based on the occasional sight of her at school however, it seemed Mahiru was much more guarded against the other gender, compared to girls. She maintained the Angel facade at school while keeping her distance beautifully without anything amiss.
Even after being confessed to for so long, she had no dating experience, so it seemed she was avoiding all the boys.
Ultimately, he felt that confessing to her half-heartedly would be really rude to her, so he felt he should just keep the status quo with Mahiru.
He felt Mahiru too had no such thoughts, and it would be foolish, delusional, to go dating.
“…But well, Shiina-san trusts you that much. Before you deny it all, have a good look first”
Itsuki seemed to have read Amane’s heart thoroughly as he noted this. “…Is that so?” Amane muttered as he snuggled into the futon.
『You’re too sly just letting Ikkun in! I want to eat Mahirun’s cooking too~!』
Early in the next morning, Amane received such a phone call from Chitose.
It seemed Itsuki had contacted Chitose the previous day. He was taking photos when they were eating, acting like a girl, so it seemed he was sending them to Chitose.
“Don’t ask me. Ask Shiina.”
『Then if Mahirun agrees, can I go play at your place too?』
『Got it! I’ll ask Mahirun then!』
And after saying that vigorously, she hung up.
Finding her too noisy, Amane had moved the phone a little away from his ear. He did not know what face to make in regards to the dynamic Chitose, impressed, or dumbfounded.
And Itsuki watched him with a smile on the face.
“Chii’s really lively.”
“Can’t you do something about your girlfriend’s tendency to go bonkers?”
“That’s impossible. Chii’s the type to show what she likes through her body. That love runs deep, huh?”
Yep yep, Itsuki nodded away, and while Amane felt he was head over heels for Chitose, he kept his thoughts to himself.
The good points about Chitose were the abundance of her vitality and the ability to get along well with anyone, and Amane was a little envious of that because he did not have such natures. At the same time, he felt Mahiru had it tough to receive such a love call.
He quietly prayed for Mahiru, while deciding to heat yesterday’s leftovers as their breakfast.
“So I dropped by~!”
Chitose dropped by quickly, right before noon. She appeared to be carrying a haversack, and shopping bag full of goodies; next to her, Mahiru was smiling wryly as she too held bags.
It seemed they met outdoors. Chitose probably was asked to accompany Mahiru for shopping, and arrived here together. Otherwise, both of them would not be holding bags, and Chitose would be stuck at the entrance.
“You act fast…”
“I’m staying overnight at Mahirun’s place. I’m looking forward to it!”
“We get a rare spring break after all. And Mahirun agreed to it!”
Right? Chitose looked towards Mahiru with a beaming face, the latter merely nodding with a wry smile.
（She was forced to agree, huh?）
Seemed like Mahiru lost to Chitose’s vigor.
However, it seemed Mahiru did not really dislike it, just a little perturbed by this sudden development of events.
“Do not worry. I did agree to it.”
Mahiru walked towards the fridge with ingredients in hand, and as she passed Amane, she whispered with a voice for him to hear.
It seemed she saw through Amane’s uneasiness. The latter showed a wry smile as he watched her back while she stuffed the dinner ingredients into the fridge.
“I’m looking forward to Mahirun’s cooking~” Chitose grinned away as she sat next to Itsuki, clinging onto him. Having lost a place to sit, Amane went to the kitchen.
“Need me to help with anything?”
“…Amane-kun, you cannot cook, no?”
She called his name with a soft voice that could not be heard from the living room, and he showed a wry smile.
“I can at least chop some vegetables, you know? Actually, I can do some simple things if I have the instructions. I did do it before you once.”
“…Please assist me then. You will feel unbearable being over there, no?”
“You really understand me. Those two are too lovey-dovey.”
He shrugged, and washed his hands at the basin.
He could not provide Mahiru with much assistance, but it did not mean he knew nothing about cooking. At the very least, he could help her weigh, or prepare other things, and for the time being , there was a lover forcefield behind him, so he might as well assist Mahiru.
“Anyway, what’s for lunch?”
“Omelette rice, green potage, and some salad. Chitose-san says she wants the omelette half cooked, so that she can cut it with a knife and let it flow out.”
“You really like egg dishes.”
“Eggs are great. The egg dishes you make are the best, I’m looking forward to it.”
None of Mahiru’s cooking were bad in any way, no exceptions, and Amane especially enjoyed her egg dishes, which he really loved. The beef stew omelette rice he had the large time was a masterpiece, and he believed that he would not get sick of it even if he ate it every day.
Nice request Chitose, he thought as he quietly motioned a thumbs up to her in his heart, happily weighing four persons’ worth of rice, and only to see Mahiru rooted before the freezer.
“…I am glad to hear you say that, but do not attack so suddenly.”
“What’s going on?”
“You do not need to know.”
Hmph, she suddenly turned her head aside, and began chopping the ingredients for the soup. Amane tilted his head in confusion.
“They aren’t dating when they’re already like that? I don’t get them.”
Chitose finished her lunch, and heartily rubbed her belly.
She looked really overjoyed, given her expression, and Mahiru too smiled happily. The latter loved to serve others, so the sudden attack on this day might not be a bad thing to her.
“Well~ Shiina-san, you can really cook anything. I never thought you could make a half cooked omelette with the inside runny and the outside like an omelette.”
“It is takes to the teacher who taught me how to cook.”
“You learned how to cook?”
“Well, I guess. She said that if I can cook for myself without trouble, I can proudly cook for anyone without shame.”
“Heh~! If you’re so good at cooking, I think your teacher’s really amazing!”
Mahiru was probably referring to the caretaker she was mentioned about.
Surely that caretaker was the only one at Mahiru’s old home who actually treated her well.
“I wonder if I can have such skills if that person teaches me.”
“Just control your curiosity and you should be able to cook something decent if you don’t be too adventurous.”
“Eh, but I can’t start if I’m not being adventurous?”
“If you don’t do that, you should be able to do anything… your curiosity and mischief ruins everything…you just needed to follow the recipe…”
Chitose should be able to do better than average as long as she played it safe. Given her lively personality and bad habits, the actual result would drop by a rank.
She was free and lax like a cat, but not as obedient as one, and such was her problem. She could be obedient if she wanted to, but it seemed to be tiring to her.
If she could instinctively know when to calm down like a cat, she could be a serene woman, but her personality just refused to do so.
“Even including cooking, you should watch how you talk at least. There’s a perfect example before you, see?”
“Ehhhn, but I can’t become like Mahirun here. It’s too restraining.”
“Aren’t you being rude to Shiina?”
“Nn, but Mahirun seems very restrained too, or a little suffocated.”
From time to time, Chitose would read a person’s true personality to a shocking precise level.
“Mahirun at school just feel lifeless.”
“…Do you think so?”
“Nn, we’re in different classes, so I can’t say, but it feels like instead of you acting boring, it feels like you are taking a few steps back and looking at everyone from far away. It’s like you’re kind to anyone, Mahirun, but you never open your heart to anyone else.”
It was likely, no, Chitose was definitely correct.
Mahiru might act like a good child who was kind to everyone, but in fact, only a rare few could see beyond her façade.
Mahiru wanted to be a good child, and did her best to avoid showing her true personality.
She herself knew this best, so she tried to look a little gloomy. However, Chitose grinned away as she reached towards Mahiru, seated next to her.
“Mahirun’s showing a really cute face in such a private place here. That’s why I know her true self, you see? I prefer this side of Mahirun~”
Ehehe~ she giggled as she latched firmly onto Mahiru. The latter looked aside for a moment, seemingly a little perturbed, but she did not seem to refuse as she made some limited contact with Chitose.
“Say Mahirun, I think you can act a little more honest~ see, Amane’s been pampering you, you know? He’s always pampering those he’s familiar with; you can seal the deal immediately if you ask to be spoiled by him, Mahirun?”
“I will not!”
“…It is not what you are expecting, Chitose-san.”
Mahiru turned her head abruptly, “Real~ly?” and Chitose smiled, looking towards Amane for some reason.
Even though she was looking at him, he might not be able to help. If Mahiru did not ask, there was nothing to think about, and he could not pamper her. Since Mahiru hoped to be independent, it was best to respect her wishes.
But, just if…if she said she wanted to be pampered…he could not say he would be unwilling.
He did not have any reason to hesitate. If Mahiru was willing to express all her troubles in her heart to him, and ask him to help her, he had confidence that he could hold up her little back, as though everything was to be expected.
Once again, he realized how close their relationship had become, and felt awkward about it, but he did not express it as he looked towards Chitose and Mahiru making contact with each other.
“Well, pretty girls on such good terms are really good for the eyes.”
“What are you saying?”
He ignored Itsuki’s perverted words as he saw the two of them getting along well. Mahiru finally had a friend of the same gender she could show her true personality to, and he was a little relieved.
Naturally, Chitose’s stayover place was at Mahiru’s house.
Amane thought she would prefer to be with Itsuki, “But I’ve been living with Ikkun often, so I want to be with Mahirun this time”, so after dinner, she went to Mahiru’s place happily.
He knew they were close to each other, and that Itsuki often stayed over at Chitose’s place, so there was nothing strange about those words…but for some reason, he felt a little awkward knowing the fact that they had been staying over often.
“What are you imagining, you silent pervert?” Itsuki shot Amane such a look, and the latter stomped on the leg again, being merciful enough not to stomp on the pinky.
“Say, you don’t have to hide your embarrassment by stomping on others, right?”
“Your fault for guessing randomly.”
Even though he was grumbled at right when they were about to sleep, Amane turned his head aside.
He did not stomp for real, and the pain would soon subside, so Itsuki did not appear to be blaming him. One might say it was a minor scuffle between boys, and neither would actually bicker over this. Amane too was often slapped by Itsuki; it was common.
“At this age, it’s common to be staying at another place. It’s normal, normal.”
“Who knows about that? Can we stop now?”
“Logically, guys should be talking about this, right?”
“There’s no such logic, so stop it.”
He did not want to hear his friend yap about stories between couples, and glared to end this topic, only for Itsuki to show him a delighted smile.
“Seriously, you’re either a herbivore, or too innocent.”
“You want me to beat you up?”
“Well, that’s why Shiina-san opened her heart to you. If you’re greedy, she’s not going to approach you.”
Good job! Itsuki grinned as he gave a thumbs up, and Amane showed a bitter look he would never ever show to Mahiru.
But that face was completely ineffectual against Itsuki.
He clicked his tongue, and glared at Itsuki. There was a light sounding electronic sound from the smartphone.
It appeared to be a message received, and Amane stopped glaring at Itsuki as he looked at the smartphone screen. It appeared to be a message from Chitose.
He opened the app, thinking it was about their next day plans. What he saw was a message sent along with a photo.
『Looky look Mahirun’s so cute! ※I took it with her permission.』
There was a photo attached with that one line.
The photo showed Mahiru just sitting on the bed. Behind her appeared to be the bedroom.
He would not have any thoughts if that was it, but the problem was her attire and her expression.
She was wearing her night gown.
That alone would be normal, but she was wearing a loose one piece night gown with long sleeves, or in other words, a negligee. The faint pink color further showcased her feminity, making her really adorable.
She might have just taken a bath, her sleeves and collar were showing skin, a little tinge of fiery red showing from the inside, as though her entire body was on fire.
Thanks to that, while she was not exposed in any way, she looked strangely alluring, and yet at the same time, looked innocent, a stark contrast.
And what caught his attention more than anything else—was Mahiru’s expression.
She had Amane’s teddy bear on her knees, looking down a little, not at the camera.
But she was not looking down much, her face was not completely concealed, and even on the photo, she looked embarrassed.
A rose color appeared on her cheeks, and it probably was not due to the bath from before.
She looked embarrassed and troubled, more alluring than usual.
At the same time, there was an added adorable to her as she placed her hands on the teddy bear upon her knees. Even though it was a photo, Amane felt his cheeks starting to heat up from inside.
What was Chitose planning, sending such a photo?
Why show it to Amane before he slept? How could he sleep as though nothing had happened?
“Why are you blushing looking at your phone? Some ero pic?”
“Like hell it is!”
“Then what are you looking.”
Itsuki dropped by to have a look, and before Amane could hide it, the message on the screen entered Itsuki’s eyes, and the latter showed a proud smile.
“I see I see, you’re really innocent, Amane-kun.”
“Do you want to sleep forever?”
“Are you hinting that I should die?”
“Do you want me to make it direct?”
“Don’t be so heartless. No no, but any boy would be amazed seeing that Angel like this. Ahh, no, Chii’s the best.”
“Slow down, you bastard.”
Goodness, he combed his hair with his palm as he sighed, only to hear a shutter noise.
“No well, Chii asked me to take a photo of you for commemorative purpose, Amane. It’s just a little phot. That’s not okay?”
“Whatever, it’s just that, what’s the point of taking a photo of me…”
“I’m not going to send it to anyone else, relax. There’s a purpose to that.”
Amane did not know what purpose that was, and stared at Itsuki dumbfoundedly, but the latter merely smiled with satisfaction.
What’s he going to do with that photo of me? He sighed hard, and Itsuki muttered with a voice softer than Amane, “Why’s he so oblivious about himself?”
Itsuki and Chitose ended their stayover; Amane and Mahiru were seated on the sofa.
It was the third day, and the stayover at Amane’s place ended. It seemed Itsuki would be staying at Chitose’s place for another day or two. Chitose’s parents would welcome him for a few days (it seemed they wanted him to stay for longer, but he refused after all）.
After eating Mahiru’s lunch, “sorry for intruding, hope you two get along well” he grinned before leaving. Amane felt Itsuki was having some baseless delusion again, but he ignored it, being too lazy to retort.
“You’re not tired, Mahiru?”
“…I am, it has been tough. But enjoyable.”
At the very least, Amane knew that Mahiru had never invited her friends. He thought Chitose would be a nice start to get her to open up.
It seemed Chitose would go out to meet Chitose without Amane knowing. Surely it was a good thing for her to have a close friend.
“…Well, erm, she started taking photos out of a sudden, and it shocked me a little…”
“Ah, ahhh, that?”
Once he heard the term photo, he remembered the alluring sight from before, and his cheeks naturally turned red.
Not much was exposed, but the negligee was still rather thin, and showed Mahiru’s soft curves, which agitated his eyes. One might say that the low exposure instead made her more alluring.
Due to his male instincts, he accidentally saved the photo in the folder, and had a strong sense of guilt.
“Yesterday, she was going 『So cute~!』and started taking lots of photos, but she never told me what she sent. What kind of photos did she send? I agreed at the end since she insisted, but I will feel awkward if it is too embarrassing…”
Chitose did not show Mahiru the photo she sent, it seemed.
She probably chose the best shot of them all, and sent it over. Mahiru herself might not have noticed her own expression when the photos were taken.
Of course, if Mahiru herself was to see that photo, one could easily imagine her reaction.
She was not in a shameful position, and her clothes were not ruffled, but for some reason, the image was really destructive.
“E-erm, well, the photo of the bear on your knees.”
“It seems you really treasure it greatly.”
Amane was not lying.
But due to the great guilt he had, he intended to bury the photo deep within his folder. He did not delete it, due to the strange tendencies of a male’s heart.
Bear, once Mahiru heard that, she smiled as though she remembered something.
“…I said I will treasure it dearly. It is something impossible after all.”
As he saw her adorable, somewhat nostalgic, and gentle expression and smile, Amane gasped.
Unlike her usual angelic smile, this faint smile was filled with innocence and affection, so delicate and beautiful, one would be unintentionally mesmerized.
That was beyond beauty. It contained an element of endearing, and anyone would unwittingly have the urge to embrace her.
“…Ah, hmm, erm, looks like you like it.”
“Of course, it is what you chose for me, Amane-kun.”
Amane stumbled as he tried to form words, and Mahiru smiled as she gave such a comforting reply.
“Do not worry, I shall treasure it dearly. I will pat it after washing it, and I will hug it to sleep…please ignore what I have just said.”
Washing it, petting it, those were still fine.
But what she said next, that adorable action, had him doubting his ears.
She hugged it to sleep.
That Mahiru was hugging the teddy bear to sleep with.
He did see Mahiru’s sleeping face, the angelic-looking sleeping face.
And with that sleeping face, she hugged the teddy bear. A pretty girl, sleeping together with a teddy bear.
He imagined the sight, and an absolutely adorable image immediately filled his mind, causing him to blush.
Mahiru too was blushing at what she said, looking teary as she latched onto his arms.
“P-please forget about that.”
“N-no, that’s impossible.”
“I will be bothered.”
It seemed she was really embarrassed to let this fact be known to him, for her ears were completely red, her eyes teary as she looked up at Amane.
That expression was really destructive, but she probably would not know.
“I-is it really that embarrassing? It’s not something to be worried about, right?”
“Do-does it not make me look like a child? Hugging a teddy bear to sleep.”
“N-no, I imagined it, and it seems cute. It’s absolutely fine.”
“…Please do not imagine it.”
This time, Mahiru was so embarrassed that she dared not to look at Amane directly, and leaned into her favorite cushion, remaining silent.
He found her to be really adorable in this state. It was bad to him in more ways than one, but he found himself wanting to dote on her.
It would be fine if he could reach his hand out and pat her head, but this might create an opposite reaction, and she would not allow it.
He suppressed the impulsive hand as he stared at Mahiru, the latter peeking from the cushion after a while.
Her eyes were still teary from embarrassment, her face was red, but she seemed a little lively, giving him a somewhat vengeful look.
“…Amane-kun, you are to share something embarrassing too. It is unfair for me to do so alone.”
He felt Mahiru basically self-destructed there, but Amane could not be absolved of blame.
But even if he wanted to expose something shameful about himself, he could not think of anything.
“I shall message Akazawa-kun and ask.”
“When did you get Itsuki’s contact…”
“Actually, I heard from Chitose-san, so I chattered with him. Did he not send a pho…no, nothing…that is fine…”
Saying that midway through, she buried her face into the cushion again.
It seemed Mahiru had just self-destructed once again, but Amane merely felt confused.