The park Amane and Mahiru first met was along the road home.
Amane’s apartment was more suited for fewer people, and it would be a little difficult to house a family. Thus, there were few children in his apartment block, and it seemed the other apartments nearby were the same.
Thus, the little park not too far away looked a little forlorn.
It was an empty place the children would not come to play at…and it was there that he spotted Mahiru on her way home.
“What are you doing here?”
Mahiru was seated still on the bench, and narrowed her eyes once she spotted Amane.
Unlike the last time, they were more familiar. Amane could comfortably talk to her, but her answer was terse.
She did not seem wary, and instead, it seemed she was unable to say something.
“If it’s nothing, don’t just sit there looking helpless. What happened?”
“… It is nothing…”
While curious about how she appeared to be in a crisis, the latter did not say her reason.
There was a silent agreement that they would not get involved outside their apartments, but once he saw how troubled she was, he could not help but talk to her.
Mahiru might have hoped for him not to be a busybody.
It’s fine if she doesn’t want to talk about this, so he thought as he stared at her stiffened face, only to notice a few white strands on her blazer…to be precise, fur.
“You got fur on your uniform. Did you play around with a dog or cat or something?”
“Not at all. I just saved a cat that was unable to climb down a tree.”
“This old cliche… ahh, I get it.”
“Sit there, don’t move.”
He immediately understood why she was seated on the bench. He made a long sigh and left for a moment.
Mahiru would definitely stay still.
Or rather, she could not move at all.
She’s always acting tough for strange reasons, so he sighed. He went to the nearest drugstore, bought a damp cloth and bandage. He then went over to the convenience store, and purchased ice typically reserved for coffee. He returned to Mahiru and found her at the same place.
“Shiina, remove your tights.”
Mahiru glared at him icily once Amane stated so bluntly.
“Eh, even if that’s your response… look, I’ll turn away so that I’m not looking at you. Just cover yourself with my blazer and remove your tights. Cool the painful area, and stick the wet cloth on it.”
He shook the grocery bag in his hand, indicating that he took no pleasure in seeing her remove her tights, but her face clearly froze.
“… How did you know?”
“You removed one loafer, there’s a slight difference in size of your ankles, and you don’t want to stand up. It’s so cliche how you twisted your ankle while saving a cat.”
“You talk too much.”
“Yes yes yes. Now remove your tights. Stretch your leg out.”
It was obvious, but she never expected Amane to notice her injury, and grimaced away.
She, however, took the blazer and laid it over her knees, probably intending to do as told.
And so Amane turned away from Mahiru, took the cup of ice from the convenience store, and poured water into it.
He sealed the opening, preventing water from leaking out, and took a towel from his bag, making an ice pack on the spot before he slowly turned around.
As told, Mahiru removed her tights, showing her bare legs.
Bare before him were the taut, soft, curvy legs devoid of useless fat, along with an unnatural swelling of the ankle.
“Looks like it’s not too bad, but it’ll worsen if you move too much. Let’s ice the injury for the time being. You may find it a little cold. Once it’s not so painful, I’ll put the cloth on you. Just rest.”
“… Thank you very much.”
“Next time, just be honest and ask. I’m not helping you because I want you to owe me a favor.”
Amane himself was hoping to at least repay some of the favors she showered him with.
Mahiru put her leg on the bench and cooled her ankle. There was no change in facial reaction, but she did not refuse Amane’s intent and merely sat still.
“Is the pain subsiding?”
“… A little better.”
“I’ll get you a wet cloth… don’t get angry at me and think I’m a pervert or stalker okay?”
“I will not say that to one I owe gratitude to.”
Amane once again emphasized that he had no impure thoughts as he knelt down to Mahiro’s position. He wrapped the damp cloth over Mahiru’s red swelling ankle.
He asked her how much pain she was in, and she said she could stand up and walk. But she remained seated to prevent the injury from worsening. At the very least, it was still a minor injury.
Once he sealed the damp cloth with the tape he bought, Amane found Mahiru looking down at him.
“You are unexpectedly useful here.”
“Well, I can treat some injuries here and there. Cooking’s impossible though.”
He shrugged in a joking manner, and she too giggled back.
All this while, she had maintained a stiff look. It would be great if she could relax because of this.
Seeing her a little relaxed, Amane was relieved, and took out a pair of jersey pants from his bag.
“Don’t give me that look. Your legs are exposed, and you can’t wear your tights when there’s a damp cloth. I haven’t worn this. Relax.”
A large bundle of tape was wrapped around her ankle, and it would be difficult for her to wear her tights, let alone unnatural. It was better if she wore his pants to shield against the cold and exposed upskirt.
Once she realized he did not mean anything else, she took his pants obediently.
Mahiru put on the pants, and Amane took back the blazer he had lent her. He removed the parka he was wearing, and handed it over to her.
“Here, wear this.”
“You want others to see me carrying you?”
He could not let an injured person walk back alone, and he did intend to carry her back.
After all, they were returning to the same place. It would be efficient to carry her back, and beneficial to her injury.
“Ah sorry, you mind carrying my bag? I can’t carry my bag if I carry you.”
“Is there an option to not carry me?”
“You twisted your ankle, so just do as I say. It’s one thing when there’s no one around, but since I’m here, just make use of my good legs.”
“What? You want me to carry you in my arms? Carry you like a princess?”
“Do you really have the strength to carry me home?”
“Are you underestimating me? … Well, I don’t have confidence about that.”
He was fine with the idea of carrying Mahiru horizontally, but it would be taxing for him to walk her back to the apartment while carrying her. Also, it would garner too much attention, and thus, it would be better not to do so.
He knew Mahiru was making a little joke, and did not get angry just because he was belittled. He chuckled, seeing that she should be fine given how she was in the mood for such a joke.
“Look, once you’re done, put on the hood and the bag. Also, I’ll carry your bag once I lift you up. I can’t do that right now.”
“It’s fine. As a guy, I’m not so despicable as to leave an injured person behind and go home.”
He knelt down, turning his back on her, and she cautiously shifted her body onto him.
Even through the parka and so many garments, Mahiru’s body felt so soft and delicate.
He made sure her hands were latched onto him tightly, but not strangling him, slowly stood up, and lifted her up.
As expected, she was really light.
While she had always nagged at him about this and that, her body was so petite, one would worry if she ate well. Well, it might because she had a petite figure to begin with.
He could smell a faint sweet scent, and was starting to be overwhelmed with anxiety as she continued to latch onto him nervously. He did his best to remain steadfast though as he went home.
The sight of a person carrying someone on their back would attract lots of stares, but luckily for them, Mahiru’s face was hidden and lowered, and Amane did not attract much attention.
“Alright, we’re here.”
He carried her to her entrance, and intended to only go this far as he heartily walked away.
She probably was not that injured since she was able to support herself off the wall and stand upright, her injury probably was not bad. Luckily, the following day would be their day off, so a few days of rest should be sufficient for her to recover and walk properly again.
“You don’t have to worry about my dinner today, so just rest well. How about you live on some supplements too?”
“No need. I do have some leftovers.”
“That’s good. Bye then.”
Luckily for him, he did not have to worry about her dinner. Also, it was great that she could walk on her own.
Amane saw Mahiru go to her door and open it, and he too frisked for his key.
He looked towards her as she spoke to him. She was clinging onto her bag firmly, timidly looking up at him.
Her slightly faltering eyes left him a little skeptical. Her eyes wandered around, looking a little awkward, but it seemed she made up her mind as she stared intently at Amane.
“… Thank you very much for today. You really helped me out.”
“Ahh it’s fine. I just did it because I wanted to. Take care of yourself.”
Amane himself would be troubled to be too concerned about Mahiru, so he merely brushed the matter aside. He saw her lower her head towards him, and unlocked his door.
He then remembered that his parka and pants were still with her, but assumed that she might return them in a few days, so he entered his apartment without looking back.