Amane returned home after bidding farewell to Asahi. Mahiru was seated on the sofa, looking calm, as normal.
Usually, she would welcome Amane at the door if she was at his place, but this was the one day it did not happen.
Mahiru was being strangely uneasy, and seemed to be forcing herself to relax, if anything. She did not let down her guard, and looked towards Amane.
“I’m done talking.”
The frosty sounding voice was not directed at Amane, but rather that she was working hard to remain calm.
Amane tried his best to show a kind expression, and silently sat next to her.
Once he did, Mahiru gently nudged her body towards him. She was not acting sickeningly sweet like usual, but of one who need solace.
…She’s probably feeling uneasy.
She might try to look nonchalant, but the fact remained that the father who abandoned her for years was looking for her boyfriend. She did not think her father was one to be overbearing, but she was somewhat worried.
“Nothing that you’re worried about…he’s a lot more composed than I imagined.”
“Is that so?”
“…Do I talk about what we chatted?”
“As you wish. Please do tell me if you think it is better for me to know.”
So Mahiru said, but it seemed she was terrified of hearing those contents. Amane held her hands that were about to shiver.
He felt he should inform her after all.
He did not understand what Asahi was thinking, why he did not meet his own daughter, but the boyfriend, but at the very least, he should inform Mahiru that Asahi was not intending to inflict further pain on her.
“Well, I can be sure that Asahi-san’s not going to do anything to you. He said he’s not going to break up your current life.”
“…That is good.”
“And also, he didn’t tell me all the reasons why he didn’t want to see you, just that he’s not going to see you again, so he wanted to have a look at you one last time until that happens.”
Upon hearing that, Mahiru muttered, “Why did he have to appear when he never did?”
However, her voice was filled with bitterness, rather than condescension.
“…I don’t think Asahi-san feels that you’re unimportant…and it looks like he really wishes for your happiness.”
And it was for this reason that Amane was perplexed.
Why did Asahi only wish for his daughter’s happiness at this point? Why did he not abandon her to begin with, rather than regret it? Mahiru would not have to be so lonely.
Amane finished his words with much difficulty, and Mahiru gently sighed.
“…To be honest, I do not understand how my parents are like.”
Her voice was soft as she tried to form words, yet it was clear.
“My impression of my parents is that they could just pay someone to raise me, that they are outsiders who are just blood related.”
Mahiru flatly noted her true thoughts, looking stiffer than usual, and a little devoid of life.
“They never cared for me no matter what happened, no matter how obedient I acted, and never held my hands no matter how I tried to reach out…it is to be expected that I will never reach out to them, that I no longer have hope.”
Amane had a feeling that Mahiru never had hope for her parents for she never received care and concern.
He did not think this was a wrong judgment. She understood inside her childish heart that her parents never loved her, that she could not hope for anything, and it was to be expected that she stopped desiring for them, out of self-defense.”
“…I know my father’s capable at work, and is a decent person, but the fact remains that he never cared about me. I do not know how to deal with him, and truth be told, I am very conflicted about him suddenly showing care for me again.”
“…Really, why did he show up again?”
“If he had appeared a little sooner, I…”
Mahiru did not continue.
Amane could only hear her quivering breath. Soon, she closed her mouth.
She pursed her lips nervously, and blinked frequently, looking on the verge of tears. She did not cry however, and it seemed she was quietly waiting for the turmoil inside her heart to pass.
She looked so weak and fleeting, and Amane embraced her, burying her face into his chest.
Back then, Amane covered her with a blanket when she met her mother.
This time, he had nothing to cover her, so he embraced her, accepting her.
The slender body in his clutches shivered, but there was no sobbing.
She probably had no intention to lift her head, and leaned into him, burying her face into his chest for a while.
She lifted her head, and her eyes were not red.
She probably did cool down a little while in his clutches, and while her eyes appeared to falter a little, she did not seem to be in much pain.
“…What do you want to do?”
Once Amane saw that she had calmed down, he asked, and she lowered her eyes.
“…I do not know, but I think this is for the best. Given that he only showed up now, I cannot ascertain him correctly to be my father.”
…Is it strange for me as a daughter?”
“Everyone has a different interpretation of this, and I can’t really conclude for all. I think though that it’s not weird for you to have such thoughts, and I won’t deny it. If you think so, that’s good, I’ll support your decision.”
It was not up to Amane to determine if it was strange.
Personally looking, it was no wonder that Mahiru could not view her parents as her parents, for they never did anything a parent should do. They never gave Mahiru love, and it would be troubling for her if she had to treat them as her parents.
“I support your decision. I’m just an outsider, and I can’t really interfere with your family issues, but I’ll respect your opinion, and support you no matter what happens.”
“I’ll always stay by your side, so if there’s anything you’re unsure of, you can always rely on me.”
Amane had made up his mind, that he had no intention of abandoning Mahiru, and love her with all his mind.
He once heard from his parents’ friends that the Fujimiyas had overflowing love, and he found that he too was no exception, so he chuckled.
He felt that his feelings for Mahiru would never disappear.
It was not a prediction, but a belief.
He never was one to change his preferences, so that too should apply for the one he loved.
Once the adorable girl heard Amane’s words, she frowned, wrapped her arms around his back, as though implying that she would never let him go.
“…Will you really stay by my side.”
“…I will not go back then. Please do no leave me alone…will you accept me if I say that.”
Upon hearing the depressing mutter, “Of course.” Amane flatly answered.
“If you’re willing, you can stay here forever. We’re going to be staying together in a few years away, so how about we practice it?”
Mahiru probably understood Amane’s intent in that joke of a question, and her face, on the verge of tears, immediately turned beetroot.
Amane too felt awkward as he knew what he had just said, but once he saw Mahiru’s eyes roll around, her face freezing in embarrassment, he felt at ease.
“…Don’t worry, you’re not going to be alone. Give up on that notion.”
Amane muttered as he concealed his heartbeat, and Mahiru teared up for a different reason, nodding away.