“Amane, your nose is noisy.”
The following day, it was Amane who caught a cold.
His classmate, or rather, bad friend Itsuki Akazawa, noted how noisy Amane was, and Amane wanted to snort back, only to fail.
Instead, he was sniffing while trying to breathe through the nose. In a sense, he was snorting away.
He was feeling utterly unwell, and his head was in stinging pain, either because his nose was blocked, or because of the cold.
He had taken some medication he bought from a pharmacy, but the symptoms never faded, and he ended up like this.
His face contorted as his nose met the tissue again. Itsuki in particular looked more dumbfounded than worried.
“Weren’t you feeling fine yesterday?”
“Got caught in the rain.”
“You alright? You didn’t bring an umbrella yesterday?”
“…Lent it to someone.”
Naturally, he could not say that he lent it to Mahiru, so he vaguely brushed it off.
On a side note, he found Mahiru at school looking fine, somewhat vibrant. It was laughable for him given that he was the one who handed the umbrella to her.
But he truly deserved this, for he did not take a hot bath thereafter to warm his body.
“But seriously, lending an umbrella when the rain’s so heavy? Aren’t you too good a person?”
“Not like I got a choice. I just lent it to someone else.”
“Who did you lend to for you to even risk catching a cold?”
“…A kid who got lost?”
It was better than saying someone with a childlike stature. Actually, she was in the same year as he was.
…Ahh, I see. She had the look of a lost kid.
Only when he said it did he realize what it was.
Back then, Mahiru’s expression was that of a lost kid looking for her parents.
“You’re a good guy.”
Itsuki knew nothing of Amane’s current feelings as the latter thought about Mahiru, and giggled mischievously.
“Well, I don’t know who you lent the umbrella to, but you just wiped your body and left it at that, right? That’s why you caught a cold.”
“…How do you know?”
“Anyone can tell how little you care about yourself just by looking at your house.”
That’s why you caught a cold, you idiot. Once he was told off, Amane had to remain quiet.
As Itsuki said, Amane never cared about his own situation.
To add on, he was bad at cleaning up, and his room was in a mess. He usually ate bentos and supplements bought from the convenience stores outside, or ate out.
And you say you’re living alone. Itsuki stared dumbfoundedly.
To Itsuki, it was no wonder Amane caught a cold when his lifestyle was overly lax.
“Hurry back home and rest already. We have a weekend coming up. Get well soon.”
“Will be nice if you have a girlfriend who can take care of you.”
“You’re noisy. And you have a girlfriend. Shut up.”
Itsuki smiled proudly. Amane reached his hand into the tissue box, annoyed.
Time passed, and Amane’s health had worsened.
The cold symptoms he had were headache and runny nose, but now they were accompanied with sore throat and fatigue, crippling his entire body.
After school, he looked forward as he hurried home, but the cold was worse than he thought, his steps extremely heavy.
Despite that, he managed to make it to the entrance of the apartment complex. Dragging his heavy feet into the elevator, he leaned his body onto the wall.
Haa, he found himself breathing more erratic than before, hotter.
He managed to endure it at school somehow, but he might have felt more relaxed as he was about to reach home, and his body felt unbearable at once.
He was usually fine with the elevator’s lack of gravity, but at this point, it pained him.
Nevertheless, he was about to reach home.
The elevator stopped at his level, and he slowly alighted, dragging his feet over, only to freeze.
Before his eyes was a girl with flax-colored hair, one he assumed he would never talk to again.
In terms of appearance, her adorable face was full of life, her skin looking fine.
Anyone would have assumed she was the one who caught the cold, but in fact, she was still fine. Perhaps it was because she usually took care of herself well that there was such a huge difference between them.
Mahiru’s hands were holding the neatly folded umbrella he had shoved to her the previous day.
He told her she did not need to return it, but she did.
“…You don’t have to return it.”
“But shouldn’t I return what I have borrowed…?”
Her words trailed off. One might say it was because she saw Amane’s face.
“Erm. Are you, running a fever…?”
“…That has nothing to do with you, right?”
She appeared at the worst timing possible, so Amane frowned.
To put it extremely, it did not matter whether the umbrella was returned.
But now was not a good moment for them to meet. She was wise, and could easily deduce why Amane caught a cold.
“But it is because I borrowed the umbrella…”
“That’s just what I did. Has nothing to do with this.”
“It does. I was there, so you caught a cold.”
“It’s nothing. You don’t have to worry.”
Amane did not want others to worry just because he did something for self-satisfaction.
But it appeared that Mahiru would not leave him be with just a few words. Her pretty face was worried.
“…That’s enough. See you.”
Amane was uncomfortable to be questioned, so he decided to force his escape from Mahiru’s questions and worries.
Stumbling, he received the umbrella, and reached into his pocket for the key…he was fine till this point.
After Amane opened his door with lethargy, he suddenly lost strength.
He might have relaxed as he was finally about to enter his house. His body stumbled into the wall behind.
Uh oh, so he thought, but the railing on the corridor was really sturdy, and would not break from just a little impact. It was sufficiently tall, and there was no way he could have fallen outside. It would hurt a little crashing into it, but that was to be expected… and so he braced himself.
But his arm was suddenly tugged at, and he managed to regain his posture.
“…I cannot leave you be at all.”
The soft voice entered his somewhat faint consciousness.
“I shall return the favor.”
His head was feeling fuzzy, probably because he was feverish, and he could not comprehend her words.
For before he could, Mahiru dragged Amane’s limp body and opened his door.
“I am going in. Please forgive me, but I have to.”
The quiet voice demanded compliance.
Amane, affected by the cold, let himself be dragged without resistance; it was the first time he returned home with a girl his age.
While he did not have a girlfriend to care for him while he was sick, it appeared there was an angel taking care of him instead.