“Speaking of which, mom’s shocked to see that you got such a pretty girlfriend, Amane.”
Both of them remained silent. Amane was too tired to deny it, and Mahirudid not know what to do.
Shihoko took silence as consent…or rather, no matter what they said, she would think they were hiding their awkwardness. She stared at Mahiru intently with curious eyes.
“How is it, Mahiru-chan? Is Amane doing well now?”
“Eh…well actually…I do not think he will die…”
“Say something nice already.”
“But when I first came to this house, it was so dirty.”
“Don’t be so harsh now. Look, it’s clean now, right?”
“But that is because I helped to clean up.”
“Well err, yep, got to thank you for everything, from food to cleaning to whatever.”
He really was thoroughly indebted to Mahiru when it came to these.
It was because of her presence that he lived a comfortable life till this point, and he would have kowtowed and thanked her without hesitation, but he would not because she did not want that. However, he did intend to work hard every day to repay Mahiru.
But it was just that Shihoko took these words in a not-too-good direction.
“Well, Amane, you’ve been letting Mahiru-chan help out all the time, and not just this once? What a troublesome kid you are…it sounds like you’re living together.”
“That’s not it!! How did you end up thinking that’s the case!? She just lives next door!”
“Oh my, this is a fated encounter! It’s nice isn’t it, Amane, you have such a pretty and capable girl taking care of you.”
“I can’t deny that she’s pretty and capable but I have to argue about this being a fated encounter.”
“Romantic, isn’t it?”
“That’s not what I mean! I’m saying that we’re not dating!”
Shihoko definitely assumed Amane was trying to hide his embarrassment, while the latter’s cheeks were about to twitch.
She always took events as food for her amazing delusions, and the son who had been tormented by such a mom countless times let out the heaviest sigh in months.
And Mahiru, overwhelmed by this astounding pressure, looked back and forth between Amane and Shihoko, clearly at a loss of what to do.
“Mahiru-chan, Mahiru-chan, I may be a parent biased to her son; our Amane here is foul mouthed and dishonest, but he’s really straightforward and gentlemanly here, so you can take it that you bought a good item. He doesn’t have any experience with the ladies, so you need to carefully control him, Mahiru-chan.”
“What are you saying now mom, shut up.”
The last half was clearly unnecessary.
“But I’m saying the truth here. Actually, why didn’t you look for a girlfriend in the first place? It’s nice that you look similar to Shuuto-san; maybe it’s because you look boorish?”
“Stop being a busybody.”
“Maybe you should show Mahiru-chan your cool side?”
“I’m not going to, and she doesn’t want to see.”
“Here we go again. Ahh, Mahiru-chan, shall I doll him up in a way you’ll like? Amane’s pretty handsome if he cleans up a little, you know?”
Mahiru saw Shihoko grin away as she nudged at him, and gave a blank, confused smile, probably because she was being hapless
In a certain sense, Shihoko was truly terrifying to intimidate the usually poised Angel this much.
“Mom, you’re really troubling Shiina. Hurry up and go back already.”
“You’re all grown up now, aren’t you? Wanting me to go back. It’s true that I’m disturbing your sweet time with your girlfriend though, so I should take my leave.”
“Just go back already.”
He was too tired to deny it, and Mahiru too must be tired from how Shihoko was being all excited.
He looked over to Mahiru, and found her a little tired.
It was to be expected, for Mahiru was a fine, tranquil lady forced to participate in such a high strung conversation that left the son was completely worn.
He made up his mind to comfort her as he waved his hand, ushering Shihoko out of the door. The latter looked a little displeased.
However, Shihoko did not say she was going to stay, probably out of concern, though in a clearly wrong direction.
“Ah, Mahiru-chan, let’s exchange numbers. Do tell me of how our Amane is doing later.”
Finally, Shihoko established a relationship that had Amane begging for mercy, and he put a hand on his forehead.
Mahiru obediently exchanged numbers over the phone, going along with the flow.
There was no doubt that Shihoko would start to meddle with Mahiru.
I’m really sorry.”
“We’ll leave our Amane to you now.” So she held Mahiru’s hands with a Cheshire cat’s grin, and Amane decided to send a message to his dad, “Please leash mom a little.”
“I am tired…”
“Sorry that a tornado dropped by.”
Shihoko did not stay for long, but they were already worn out, seated side by side on the sofa.
Amanae was slouched into the sofa, covering his face as he let out a long sigh. Mahiru was a little more cautious, but her usually straightened back too was more arched than usual.
“I’m really sorry for sending her back without resolving the misunderstanding.”
“No, well, not much was lost…”
“No well, there’s damage…it looks like she’s really interested in you, Shiina…she’s going to bother you with lots of things now…”
He caused Mahiru problems again thanks to that, and was really apologetic to her.
Shihoko saw her son’s girlfriend (even though it was a misunderstanding), and she really loved cute things, so she was really interested in Mahiru, and would really take care of the latter, to busybody levels.
“It looks like Shihoko-san really cares about you, Fujimiya-san.”
“That’s the nice way of putting it, but she’s annoying…”
Not that she was being a complete idiot, but the affection she showed was something he did not want.
Amane too was at fault for being too careless, so he could not say much about this, but even he too felt she was a busybody.
He was really grateful for his mom’s feelings, but to be honest, she was a hassle and someone he wanted to keep his distance from.
“…That is nice.”
Mahiru muttered, and Amane looked at her.
“Your mother is quite boisterous, but she is kind.”
“That’s just noisy and a busybody.”
“…But that is fine too.”
She was not being simply courteous, she was showing an envious look. She muttered with a fleeting tone, and lowered her eyes.
Looking over, her face was melancholic, on the verge of shattering upon contact. Anyone would have found her fragile.
She did not simply look tired, but also feeble and fleeting. She seemed to have felt Amane’s stare as she suddenly lifted her head, smiling.
She regained her usual expression, as though nothing had happened, and in a rare gesture, reclined into the sofa.
“Mahiru-chan, huh? ”
“…What’s with that out of a sudden.”
“No…it has been a while since someone called me by my name. They usually call me Shiina.”
Amane was surprised to learn that nobody addressed the super popular Angel herself, but it was probably because everyone was too intimidated to call her by her given name.
She was the flawless Angel at school, and nobody dared to call her so.
Also, there were a few who called her by her nickname, though she herself hated it.
“If not your good friends, then your parents, right?”
“My parents will not call me so. Absolutely not.”
A frosty instant reply.
He inadvertently looked over at Mahiru’s face, and found it to be devoid of color.
It was emotionless, as though they were stripped bare, a non-living thing even. Due to the perfect face before him, he had a moment when he thought she was a doll.
But that lasted only for a moment, for once she noticed Amane’s stare, she locked away the stoic look, frowning as though something was troubling her.
“…Anyway, it is rare to begin with.”
She quietly muttered, and let out a sigh.
He could tell that Mahiru was on bad terms with her parents.
She would occasionally show a frosty look whenever her parents were mentioned. She never went out to eat with her parents, hated her birthday, and from what she said, one could imagine she had family issues…but he never imagined her parents not calling her by name before.
“…That is nice.”
One had to question her feelings when she muttered that.
He naturally called out the name he never once did.
The caramel-colored eyes blinked once.
It was unexpected, so she appeared to be spacing out, showing an immaturity hidden beneath her usual demeanor and expression. It would be appropriate to say she was taken aback.
“Anyone can call you by name, right?”
“…Well, you are right.”
So he quipped stiffly, and after a while, a faint smile appeared.
The relieved smile formed ripples in his heart.
She whispered his name, and the ripples grew wider.
Just moments ago, Amane did not pay much heed as Mahiru only used it when talking to his mom…but when she addressed him so, he felt a swirling itch, something in his heart.
“Please don’t call me that outside.”
“…I know that. You in turn should not let it slip outside.”
“I get that. It’s a secret.”
He dared not look directly at a smiling Mahiru.
“Yeah.” so he tersely answered, looking to the side while pretending to change posture, evading that smile.