“Amane～, how is it?”
The term end exams finally ended, and the students were finally liberated from the hellish tests, huddled with more enthusiasm in a few groups in the classroom.
Amane and Itsuki were relieved as their exams too ended, appraising their performances this time.
“Hm? Normal, not too bad.”
Amane naturally responded to that question, but there really was nothing much to say. The questions were all within the testing scope, and it was not too difficult if he had revised properly.
He did not feel any different writing this year, and had no thoughts in particular.
While Amane was one who hated the hassle, he would not slack in his revision.
He understood most of the lessons, and could perform as usual during exams. He might have difficulty getting full marks, he could get at least 80-90%.
“You’re probably going to be in the top 30…intelligent, aren’t you.”
“Just revise daily.”
“You’re boasting about what you do daily?”
“I don’t want to hear it from you when you’re being all lovey-dovey and not studying.”
The difference between Amane and Itsuki was not in brains, but because the latter had been spending too much time on his girlfriend Chitose.
Itsuki himself was no fool, and could have gotten a high ranking if he applied himself. Unfortunately, he prioritized most of his time on Chitose, and was ranked lower than Amane.
“…A girlfriend’s nice though?”
“Yes yes yes.”
“Say Amane, you should look for one.”
“I guess men have shed tears of blood wanting girlfriends.”
There were hordes of people wanting partners, and to certain people, Itsuki’s careless words might have been infuriating.
Amane did not intend to be angry, and at this point, he had no desire for a lover, so he merely intended to listen.
“Anyway, how do I go about asking for a girlfriend?”
“A double date.”
“So am I supposed to be dazzled along with my imaginary girlfriend?”
“Then show off to us!”
“You think I have the personality for that?”
Amane too had self-awareness of his own bland personality.
He was one to avoid hassles as much as possible, and was overly honest. Some might find him aloof, and would have a poor impression on him. It was impossible for such a personality to find a lover.
And if he somehow got a girlfriend, the relationship between them would have been really bland. At the very least, it would not be as eyecatching as Itsuki’s.
“No but, Amane, you should find someone you like. Anyway, the girls will have a different view of you if you cut away your bangs, look a little more refreshed, and straighten your back.”
Amane felt he had an accurate opinion of himself. He was not super handsome like Kadowaki, or the fine cool looking type like Itsuki, but he was not exactly ugly.
If he had dolled himself a little, and watched his habits, he would be no inferior to a typical high school boy.
But even if he did doll himself up, Amane was not the type to simply approach others.
“Those that latch to you just because of appearances aren’t really the loyal type.”
“You say that, but if she shows no interest in you, you can’t understand her personality, right?”
“…Even then, I’m not in the mood to look for a girlfriend.”
And even if he did, her illusion would be broken seeing his daily life.
Amane was a human with zero ability to live independently, and was callous to others. Even he would grimace to himself, thinking that he would want to meet a girl who would be attracted to him.
After all, he hated interacting with others, his personality was unsuited for this, and he had no thoughts of getting one.
With Mahiru cooking at his house, it would be a tragedy if he somehow had a girlfriend. He had no intention of getting one, and was not worried by that, but that one reason alone was dissuading him from doing so.
At this point, his priority was ‘Mahiru’s cooking ＞ getting a girlfriend’, and that would not change easily.
“You really are boring, aren’t you…want Chii to introduce some of her friends?”
“Don’t be a busybody. Most of Chitose’s friends are noisy, and just having one as a girlfriend is enough of a headache.”
“You’re gloomy after all, Amane.”
“Well, if you say so, I’ll leave it be for now. But isn’t it unbearable not to have a girlfriend, just spending your time alone during this wonderful high school life?”
“No need, and it sounds troublesome.”
What do you think school life is about? He did not exactly have such a thought, but a girlfriend was not entirely a necessity, and he had no thought to find one.
Besides, it was not easy to find one, and not easy to fall in love.
“…That’s a pity.”
“But well, you’ll change when you have someone you like, Amane?”
“Where’s that self confidence coming from?”
“It’s because you’re such a person that you’ll end up doting on your girlfriend like a kitten.”
“Whatever you say.”
He felt that he definitely would not become such a sickening sweetheart, and could not imagine himself in such a situation, so he brushed Itsuki’s words aside as he went away.
Itsuki in turn stared at Amane dumbfoundedly…and looking aside, he seemed relaxed.
“Ikkun, you going homeー?”
It so happened that Chitose popped by, and both of them seemed to have agreed to return home together. Amane’s conversation with Itsuki was merely for the latter to kill time.
So he turned around, and found a tomboyish girl with bright reddish brown medium length hair, beaming as she waved at them, or rather, Itsuki.
The lively vibe and hearty smile was a little too dazzling for Amane. As befitting her appearance, she was friendly, lively, and was always the type to cause a ruckus no matter good or bad. She had a different personality from Mahiru.
She ran over to them, grinning.
Amane really hoped that she would not talk to them, because whenever she showed up, he would get bullied.
“Say, Chii, don’t you think Amane’s the type to dote on a lover?”
“Enough with that.”
“Eh, what? Amane has a lover?”
“Ehhhー, whatー. I would have wanted to get along with her.”
Tch, so she clicked her tongue, looking disappointed.
“That getting along of yours is overaggressive skinship. Even I would feel sad for my imaginary girlfriend if I have one.”
“Eh, so you have an imaginary girlfriend?”
“I said if I have one, okay!?”
“It’s tiring dealing with you…”
“It’s because you lack stamina, Amane.”
“Even if I have, it’ll be worn out by you…”
More so than physical stamina, he felt his mind would be tired instead.
Amane typically would not speak to anyone other than those he was familiar with, and would rather kept a low profile, and lived a listless school life. It would be really difficult for him to talk to a hyperactive person like Chitose.
Despite the aloof reply, Chitose did not mind at all, “You aren’t looking good.” so she said to a tired looking Amane, beaming happily.
“Hurry up and get used to it.” Itsuki too randomly tossed in this advice, and all Amane could do was to make a long, tired sigh.
“…What are you doing??”
Amane returned home, had some of Mahiru’s homecooked food, and after washing the dishes, he found Mahiru laying out the exam papers on the living room table.
Washing dishes was a rotational task for them, but Amane took the chance to wash them first, not wanting to add more to Mahiru’s workload, and so Mahiru spent her time in his living room. She said that if she left it all to Amane and returned home, she would feel a little sorry.
“Checking the answers.”
“Well, I can see that.”
She appeared to be going through the answers, checking the textbooks, seeing if she did make any mistakes.
“So how is it?”
“If I did not write the wrong answers, full marks.”
“To be expected of you.”
Her reply remained dull as she mentioned that she had full marks, and Amane too showed no extreme reaction.
The lack of surprise on Amane’s part was because Mahiru was always first in the year for their school grades.
He felt that Mahiru could have done so, and thought that she would get nothing less than full marks to begin with.
“I do not hate studying to begin with. After all, I have studied through everything that is to be taught a year ago, so all I need to do is revision.”
“Wooahh, as to be expected of you…”
“Are you not good at your studies too, Fujimiya-san?”
“So you know my grades?”
“I have some impression when you were listed on the rankings.”
It appeared she had already known about him somewhat before he first talked to her.
He had assumed those who were not in the single digit ranks were worthy of her attention, but she mentioned his previous ranking, so it appeared she was paying attention.
Amane would spend some effort in studying not because of a serious thought like…a student’s duty is to study. It was a condition his family gave.
“Well, it’s the condition for me to live alone. Maintain my grades.”
When he was allowed to live alone, he was told not to let his grades slip.
There was also the condition of him half to return home once every half year, but that could be arranged over a long vacation, so his family would not meddle if he maintained his grades.
“I’m just working hard enough for them not to cause me trouble, but I can’t best you. You really work hard.”
“…It is important to work hard.”
Mahiru muttered, looking down,
The bangs covered her expression, obscuring it, but surely she was not happy in the slightest.
Nevertheless, she quickly lifted her head, regaining her usual expression, so he missed out on the opportunity to point this out.
And even if he did have the opportunity, he would not have asked. She seemed to be enduring pain after all.
From time to time, Mahiru would show such an expression.
She never would say why she was feeling so painful, so disgusted, but it seemed she was bound by certain things, struggling in them.
It was not hard to imagine the cause of it being her family environment.
Thus, it was inappropriate for him to interject.
He knew very well it was an area he as an outsider should not interfere with, so he kept the distance as her neighbor all this while.
Amane too had things he did not want others to talk about. He too often sensed that outside interference was really a rude thing, and found himself more grateful when others pretended not to notice.
Mahiru did her best to hide the emotions she had, “I shall be leaving now.” She said with her usual chirp, and then kept her textbooks and question papers into the bag.
He did not intend to stop her, “I see” and answered tersely as he looked towards her while she did so.
She was done packing all the things she took out, and stood up from where she was seated when Amane noticed there was something not belonging to himself behind an empty mug.
He reached his hand over, and found a plastic case containing the student ID, which every student would have.
It appeared she had taken it out along with her textbooks, and forgot to pack it back.
He scanned her face along with her name, student number, birthday and blood type, simple information, and called out to her right when she was wearing her shoes at the door, about to return back.
“You forgot this.”
“Ahh, sorry to make you bring it to me. Good night then.”
She bowed courteously, and left his apartment. As he watched her leave, he gently sighed.
He recalled the full date written on the student ID…especially the month and day, and put his hand on his forehead.
“…Four days later?”
If he had not seen her student ID, he would never have known about Mahiru’s birthday. If only I had known earlier, so he sighed again.