The car moved for 30 minutes, but to Amane and the others, it felt like 2 hours passed before they arrived at the Fujimiyas’ residence.
Before their eyes was a relatively large house, for it had a library, a spacious kitchen, and and empty room. Mahiru’s eyes were widened, for it seemed bigger than she imagined.
“It is big.”
“Ah thank you, our house is rather big. Actually, we have so many rooms because we hope for a daughter, but things don’t go as planned…you can come over though, Mahiru-chan?”
“Eh, erm, about that.”
“Mom, stop teasing Mahiru. It’ll trouble her.”
“Oh my oh my.”
Her cheerful smile was probably more of a leer due to Mahiru’s reaction.
She lowered her head bashfully, which led to Shihoko creating her own delusion. Truth be told, Amane did not want her delusion to remain as a delusion, but he definitely could not say this to Shihoko.
“Alright, it’s hot out here. Hurry in.”
“Yes yes, I guess it is to be expected.”
“What do you mean, to be expected…”
It appeared Shihoko’s cheerful laugh was not going to stop, so Amane gave up and nudged Shihoko in the back; she unlocked the door.
There were footsteps inside, and it was probably Shuuto who noticed that Shihoko and company had returned.
Once they stepped through the door, as expected, Shuuto was waiting.
“I’m back Shuuto-san. I brought Mahiru-chan along~”
“It has been a while, Shiina-san.”
“It has been a long time. I have been feeling.”
It had been half a year since Mahiru last met Shuuto, and she was still a little nervous. Shihoko was honest, friendly, or rather, clingy towards Mahiru, so there probably was no sense of distance between them. However, she did feel Shuuto was a little distant.
Once Shuuto noticed how Mahiru was a little tense, he showed an amicable smile.
“You don’t have to be so terrified of this uncle.”
“The problem is that you don’t look like an uncle.”
“Why that’s sweet of you.”
Amane’s father truly did not look his age.
He looked so young, he did not appear to be nearly 40. Truth be told, nobody would be able to guess his age on first glance, given his youthful looks.
“It’s been a while. You look a lot better, Amane.”
“Did I change much over the past half year?”
“Yep. You look like a man now, filled with confidence, and dressed nicely.”
Amane was dressed in his outdoor getup as he had to be with Mahiru, but perhaps he really did not look confident back then. He did lack confidence in the past, actually, which made it appear that he looked confident.
He felt a little awkward that someone noticed it. Once he clammed up, Shuuto showed a little smile.
“Now then Shihoko-san, I’ll leave the house to you. I still have to serve.”
“Okay, come in then. The place isn’t big, but we hope you’ll be able to enjoy something.”
“No, that is…please pardon us.”
Mahiru dutifully bowed and removed her shoes. Amane too changed into indoor slippers.
He knew his house well enough, and did not need a walkaround. However, he intended to tail the females, to ensure that Shihoko would not say anything unnecessary to Mahiru.
Shihoko watched Shuuto return to the dining room, and waved at them “Over here~” as she welcomed them to the stairs.
The bedrooms and guest rooms were on the second floor, and Shihoko was probably helping out there.
Amane intended to visit his own room, and opened the luggage that was delivered. Once he remembered where the guest room was, he gave an inexplicable expression.
…The last year I was here, there’s only one room not used as a storeroom.
The room connected to the veranda was meant to be for the other child. His parents did not have one, and this room was not used. It was neat and renovated properly, anc could house someone.
His cousins would use this room whenever they visited over long vacations, though they hardly came by these days.
Amane was not really planning anything, but his gut ached a little once he wondered whether it was fine for a girl to stay in a room he could easily pass by.
“So Mahiru-chan, use this room.”
As expected, Shihoko led her to the room next to Amane, who sighed.
“Thank you for preparing the room for me.”
“Ah don’t worry about that. The washroom on the second level is there, and next to your room is Amane’s. The veranda is connected, sorry about that.”
The veranda is connected, Mahiru blinked, and Amane averted his eyes awkwardly.
“I’ll lock up on my side. Lock up yours.”
“I-I am not worried about this.”
“Oh my, are youths fine with this?”
“You want me to commit a crime?”
“It’s fine if she agrees though?”
What a pity, Shihoko lamented, seemingly jokingly when she heard Amane’s reply, and chuckled.
“I’ll go prepare lunch then. You two check your luggage. Mahiru-chan’s is in her room now.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“No biggies. See you later then.”
Shihoko smiled, and went down the stairs. Once Amane did not see her back anymore, he gave a heavy sigh.
“Sorry, I guess this is the only empty room.”
“N-no, I am fine with this.”
“Well, it’s fine now that we’re dating, but it’d be bad if we weren’t. My mom probably doesn’t know…goodness.”
“It is fine. And…since the veranda is connected, we can see the stars together.”
Once he saw how bashful Mahiru looked, he wondered if she was worried about being attacked at night, and gave a wry smile. At the same time, there was a rising delight in his heart, for she hoped to spend the nights with him.
“…Yeah, we will if it’s convenient. Alright, go unpack your stuff.”
Mahiru was smiling happily, and one had to wonder if she noticed Amane hiding his embarrassment as she entered her room.
At this point, Amane once again realized that they would be living in the same space for two weeks. He covered his face with his hands, and entered his own room.
Shuuto cooked lunch to welcome Mahiru.
Like Mahiru, Shuuto was capable of cooking all kinds of cuisine. He made Paella as the main dish as Shihoko wanted to have some.
Having recalled that they had a special pan for this, Amane had a feeling that his house truly had these cooking utensils prepared.
Of course, Paella was not the only thing on the table. There was also Bisque and salad with lots of seafood.
Naturally, each of these dishes were delicious, and Mahiru was really delighted with them. It seemed she too felt Shuuto’s cooking was fine.
“Our son hasn’t troubled you, I suppose?”
A little while after lunch, Shuuto looked towards Mahiru, and asked.
On a side note, Shihoko was not present as she was in charge of cleaning up after lunch. There was the sound of washing coming from the kitchen, and one could really sen that she was there.
Once she heard Shuuto’s question, Mahiru blinked away, and immediately shook her head to deny it.
“No…he is no trouble.”
“Can’t you just say that you had no choice but to take care of me?”
“…I am really happy all this while. I never thought it would be a hassle to be with Amane-kun.”
Amane was speechless once she said so without hesitation, and unwittingly answered flatly.
“You don’t have to be shy, Amane. It’s good to thank her more.”
“…I’ve always been thanking her.”
“Yes. I know.”
It seemed Mahiru noticed how Amane was trying to hide his embarrassment, for she gave a bell-like laugh.
Her laugh left him all the more flustered, his lips twitching. She laughed again, and Amane was powerless.
You’ll pay for this later, so Amane said to Mahiru, but she merely showed a beaming face. It appeared those words were ineffectual against her.
Left at his wits end, Amane turned his head again, and Shuuto laughed.
“You really are dishonest, Amane. This is the adorable part about you though.”
“You’re calling a guy adorable? Are you looking down on me?”
“But you are really adorable, Amane-kun.”
“Mahiru, we’ll have a talk about this later.”
“Yes, we shall talk about this later.”
Mahiru smiled as she said so, and Amane was speechless. She really was difficult to deal with on this day. Just a moment ago, he assumed she was nervous, but it seemed she had adapted well.
Perhaps it was because she was conversing with Amane.
Shuuto looked bemused as he watched Amane and Mahiru talk, and seemingly remembered something as he blinked hard.
“Ah yes, Shiina-san. Shall we go shopping together? Shihoko-san asked me to buy some.”
“Why are you asking her out immediately?’
Amane sounded displeased as Mahiru had just pulled a fast one on him, while Shuuto showed his usual smile.
“I will not go on a mad chase like Shihoko-san, you know?”
“I know that.”
“Watch the house then, Amane.”
“You will be a hindrance if we are going to talk about your past.”
“Why are you saying that I’m a hindrance!?”
“Yes you are.”
Shuuto heartily nodded, and ignored the speechless Amane as he looked towards Mahiru.
“Are you willing to go out with this uncle here?”
“I do not mind if it is with you.”
“Let’s go then. At the same time, I wish you’ll help me choose a present for Shihoko-san.”
Shuuto smiled once Mahiru agreed, and Mahiru appeared a little troubled.
“A-a present, is it? is there an anniversary…?”
“Dad often buys presents for mom. It’s not a special day.”
Shuuto treated women well, and was earnest to all, especially to his dear wife Shihoko. He was willing to buy a present for her, even if there was nothing to commemorate.
According to him, it was usual thanks for every day, a proof of love, and that he wanted to see her happy. Back when Amane lived in this hometown, he was the one who accompanied Shuuto on such trips.
Shuuto probably invited Mahiru out for her point of view as a female. The main objective however might be to discuss about Amane.
“…You really are like Shuuto-san, Amane.”
“I didn’t do that much.”
“Did you not buy dolls or cute little things for me?”
Amane often bought things that Mahiru would like, things that would suit her, but it was because he liked them, and wanted to thank her for taking care of him every day.
He might be similar to Shuuto in this aspect. Perhaps he was really similar, but he did not think he did it as frequently.
“Well, you’ve been taking care of me every day after all, Mahiru.”
“…I am talking about this aspect, you know?”
Amane answered, sounding like he was giving an excuse, and Mahiru giggled, sounding a little bewildered and yet delighted, impish even.
Shuuto too looked elated, and Amane stood up as he wanted to get away, escaping to Shihoko in the name of helping her.
“Oh my, Amane, what now?”
“…Here to help.”
“Ah, thanks. You sure you don’t need to chat with Mahiru-chan?”
“Mahiru’s going out with dad to buy stuff.”
Amane had a look at the living room, and found the two of them laughing and preparing to leave.
They moved so quickly as Shuuto probably noticed Amane was a little pouty, and wanted to give him time to cool down. Amane was occasionally terrified at home his own father could sense the little feelings in people’s hearts.
“Ah, they’re going shopping. I guess Shuuto-san has things to ask Mahiru. That sounds good.”
“Your usual behavior, I guess? I don’t know everything about Shuuto-san after all.”
Shihoko passed the air dried Paella pan to Amane, who obediently went to slot it into the utensils cupboard.
At the same time, Mahiru and Shuuto had left the living room. Amane gave them a vengeful look as they left, and returned to Shihoko who was still washing her dishes, wiped them clean, and put them into the cupboard.
As he often did the same with Mahiru, he dared to say he was familiar with such work. However, Shihoko’s eyes widened once she saw Amane’s actions.
“You’re skilled at this, Amane.”
“Thanks for the compliments.”
“I’m relieved to see that you don’t rely on Mahiru-chan for everything.”
“What kind of scumbag of a guy do you think I am…?”
After all, Amane was not that shameless to have Mahiru do everything.
If he did, he would first feel guilty.
He already had her do the heavy lifting with cooking, and should show care for her, and do whatever he could for her.
You don’t have to mention that, Amane narrowed his eyes at Shihoko, who looked impressed as she called out, “…Hey Amane.”
“Which base have you arrived with Mahiru-chan?”
Amane spat out as he never expected this question. Shihoko nonchalantly finished the washing of the dishes.
He instinctively grabbed the plates and dried them with a cloth, but he frowned hard, unable to hide how shaken he was.
“What are you shaken about? It’s obvious that you two are dating. There’s no way to hide that.”
Amane could not deny those words.
The vibe between Amane and Mahiru was different from Hatsumode. It was to be expected since they were dating, but Amane intended to hide this matter from his parents.
It was for naught however as they had seen through it.
“Of course you can. I want her as a daughter. More than glad to.”
“I thought you two went all the way. Those loving expressions and the mood between you two seem to indicate so.”
“Ack! That’s impossible!”
Amane raised his eyebrows at these impossible guesses, but Shihoko showed no remorse.
“…Mom, don’t ever mention this to Mahiru.”
“Of course I won’t. I want a daughter though. Looking forward to it.”
Shihoko was barren due to issues with her body. Amane could understand her desire for a daughter, and could not blame her as he merely pouted instead.
“…Don’t pressure Mahiru.”
“I know that. That’s why you have to keep her.”
“You think I’ll let go of a keeper?”
In the past, Amane was willing to leave Mahiru as long as she was happy, even if it was not him being her partner. He would no longer say these words again however.
It might seem petty, but one could say that his desire to treasure Mahiru and not let go had intensified. He wished for Mahiru’s happiness, so much that she would not look at any other boy as a love interest, and that she would not let go of him.
Amane thus had no intention of letting Mahiru look away.
Once she heard his firm conclusion, Shihoko was momentarily stunned, and then she happily giggled away.
“Fufu, you really are similar to Shuuto-san here. He’s the same as before.”
“I don’t have dad’s natural talent in that.”
“Really? Shall I ask Mahiru-chan?”
“Hey stop it.”
If she were to ask Mahiru, the latter would likely reveal some behind the scenes that would leave them embarrassed. He had to stop Shihoko with all his might.
Amane glared at Shihoko, but it appeared ineffectual as Shihoko chirped leisurely, “I’m looking forward to Mahiru-chan’s return.” Amane ended up frowning harder.