Because of his fever, Amane realized too late the situation of his own house; he regretted letting Mahiru in when he saw reality before him.
The apartment Amane lived in was a 1SLDK.
It contained a vast living room, a bedroom, and a storeroom, an extravagant space for a person living alone. As his parents were sufficiently well off, after considering security and location, he decided to stay here.
His parents were the ones who demanded that he stay here, and he was fine with that . Nevertheless, he felt they did not have to spend so much. He really could not handle living in such a massive apartment alone.
That aside, while Amane lived alone, he was bad at cleaning up.
Needless to say, the living room, and even the bedroom were in a mess.
“This is really unsightly.”
The Angel, or rather, the savior, did not mince her words despite having such an adorable appearance.
It was really horrible, and Amane could not refute. He would have moved a few things if he knew someone else was coming in, but it was too late for that.
Mahiru’s glossy lips let out a sigh, but she did not leave. Instead, she moved Amane into the bedroom.
On the way there, both of them nearly tripped over. Amane himself was painfully aware that as the one who made the apartment so messy, it would be bad if he did not clean up for real.
“I shall leave for the moment. Do change before I return. That should be fine, no?”
“…You’re coming back?”
“I would not be able to sleep well if I leave a sick person on the bed.”
It appeared Mahiru had the exact same thoughts Amane about that prior incident, and he could not comment.
Once Mahiru left the room, he obediently did as told, changing into his home clothes.
“…It is a mess, and there is no place to step on…how do you live like this…”
He heard a perturbed mutter while changing, and felt really apologetic.
Once he changed, he laid down, and seemed to have fallen asleep. After he opened his heavy eyelids with much effort, the first thing he saw was the flax-colored hair.
He looked above the hair, and found Mahiru standing there, looking at him silently. It appeared what happened before was no dream.
“…What time is it now?”
“7 pm. You slept for a few hours.”
Mahiru tersely answered, and right when Amane was sitting up, she handed over a cup of isotonic drink.
Feeling gracious, he brought the cup to his mouth, and could finally look around.
He found himself feeling a little better, probably because of the nap.
He then noticed his head was a little cold. He touched it, and felt something cloth-like on his fingertips, though it was a little hard.
There was a cooling sheet pasted on him, one his house would not have. Having noticed that, he lifted his head towards Mahiru. “I brought it from my house,” she simply responded.
His house had neither a cooling sheet nor an isotonic drink. It appeared she brought the isotonic drink here too.
“…Thanks for bringing it here.”
The aloof answer had his grimacing.
It was likely she took care of him out of guilt, and not a desire to talk to Amane. In any case, it was impossible to talk intimately when she was in the house of a boy she had just met.
“Anyway, I brought the medicine on the table. It is best not to consume with an empty stomach. Do you have any appetite?”
“I see. I made some porridge, so please have that.”
“…Eh, you made that, Shiina?”
“Who else is here? I shall eat it if you do not want to.”
“No, no, I’ll eat it. Please let me.”
He never expected her to care for him, let alone make porridge, and thus was a little flustered.
To be honest, Mahiru’s cooking skill was unknown to him, but he never heard rumors of her failing home economics class, so it was probably not too bad.
Amane immediately lowered his head, asking to eat it, and Mahiru stared at him blankly. She nodded as she handed over the thermometer on the side table.
“I shall bring it over. Do measure your temperature.”
He did as she said, unbuttoning his shirt, and took the thermometer. At that moment, Mahiru looked away.
“Please do so when I am not in this room.”
She sounded a little frantic, and Amane looked over to find her face a little red.
Amane found Mahiru’s reaction a little intriguing, since unlike girls, boys did not need to hide their chests. Perhaps Mahiru had no resistance against the color of skin however, for she hastily looked aside the moment he unbuttoned his shirt.
Her white face was dyed with a light shade of rose, her face still looking aside as she quivered. One had to wonder if he was imagining it, but Mahiru’s ears too were red, showing how embarrassed she was.
…Ahh, I’m starting to see why the guys around her say she’s so cute.
Amane too considered Mahiru a beautiful girl, but nothing more. There was no doubt she was pretty and cute, but that was all to him.
She was beautiful like a sculpted piece of work. The impression she gave was similar to that of an art piece.
But at this point, Mahiru was evidently slightly embarrassed , making her look a little more human, and thus, strangely adorable.
“…Then hurry and take out the porridge?”
“I-I will without you telling me.”
Their relationship was not close enough for him to plainly state how cute she was. She would have found him weird if he did so, so he swallowed his thoughts.
Once he said that disinterestedly, Mahiru teetered out of the room.
She was a little slow, probably faltering, or because the room was too messy. It was likely to be the latter.
As he watched her leave in a daze, Amane let out a little sigh, wondering how it ended up this way.
…Well, I guess it’s the sense of responsibility and guilt.
A girl typically would not enter the house of an unfamiliar boy just to take care of him. It would be bad if she was attacked.
Yet Mahiru did so despite the risk, so it seemed she was feeling really guilty. Amane clearly showed no interest in her too, and this might be cause for her relief.
In any case, there should be no doubt that Mahiru started taking care of him because there was no other way.
“…I brought it here.”
While Amane had such thoughts in his slightly feverish head, Mahiru knocked on the door tentatively.
It seemed she did not enter immediately, worried that he was not dressed fully. He then remembered that he loosened his clothes to measure his temperature.
“I’m not done measuring yet.”
“I said that you should measure your temperature when I am not in…”
“Sorry, I spaced out.”
He apologized, tucked the thermometer under his armpit, and soon heard a dull electronic sound.
Hiii, he took it out, and it showed 38.3°C. Not bad enough to be hospitalized for, but it was relatively high.
Amane wore his clothes properly. “Come in,” he told Mahiru, who had not entered. She cautiously entered with a tray or porridge.
She obviously looked relaxed, for he had finally put on his clothes.
“38.3°C. I’ll get better with some medicine and sleep.”
“…The medicine sold in shops mostly deals with the symptoms, and not the virus itself. Do rest well and work on your immune system.”
While he was being reproached, Amane knew that Mahiru was simply concerned, and his heart felt ticklish.
Goodness, she sighed as she placed the claypot and the tray on the side table, opening the lid.
It contained porridge with plum. The porridge was thin, considering the burden on his stomach, probably at a ratio of 7:1 of water and rice.
Plum was added not for flavor, it seemed, but because it was said to be good for colds.
There was no steam oozing, but it was warm, which meant that it was not made moments ago, but deliberately cooled thereafter.
While Amane stared at the porridge, Mahiru ignored him as she served the porridge in a bowl. The plum bits were gently scattered within, the seeds carefully removed, the red flesh faintly blended into the white.
“Here. It probably is not hot anymore.”
“Nn, thank you.”
He received it, took a scoop with the spoon, and stared at it. Mahiru was surprised to see his gesture.
“…What, do you want me to feed you? I am not providing such a service.”
“Nobody’s saying that…no, I’m just thinking that you know how to cook.”
“Anyone living alone should be capable of doing so.”
For Amane, who had never been able to live a proper life alone, those words really hurt.
“Fujimiya-san, before you cook, do clean up your room.”
It appeared Mahiru had somewhat known what Amane was thinking as she proceeded with another jab. He muttered away, trying to pass off this matter as he brought the spoonful of porridge to his mouth.
The sticky porridge spread in his mouth, along with the original taste of rice and little salt.
But the sourness and saltiness of the shredded dried plums were really appetizing, establishing a fine balance.
Amane did not really like salty dried plums, but he did like the slight sweetness in this mild sourness. If he were healthy, he would have put the dried plums onto white rice and made chazuke.
“Thank you for that. But anyone could have made the porridge without much difference.”
Mahiru answered with a blank face, but there was a little smile on her face.
It was different from the smile he could occasionally see at school. It was a smile of relief, and he subconsciously stared at her.
“No, it’s nothing.”
The kind smile soon vanished after a single moment, and he found it a pity.
So he thought, but Amane did not say anything as he tried to brush it off, eating the porridge in little scoops.