It was Valentine’s Day, but there was no such mood at home, and like usual, he returned home to rest.
It was not time to make dinner yet, so Mahiru was next to him. However, she never looked anxious, and did not show signs of wanting to do anything to Amane.
He never looked forward to receiving chocolates, so that was fine with him. The little sadness he had however was merely a result of his pride as a man.
“There’s a sweet smell in school today.”
“It is Valentine’s Day after all.”
It seemed the Angel had given chocolates to the girls she was acquainted with, but did not give any to the boys, not even obligatory ones. He could hear devastated voices from the boys who were infatuated with her.
Why do they think they can receive any from her when they don’t even interact? …he wondered, but the boys were ultimately being hopeful.
“Well, Valentine’s Day is just an event for the popular guys. It doesn’t have anything to do with unattractive guys like us.”
“You seem mentally prepared.”
“Not that I’m proud of it, but I never received heartfelt ones. I only received Russian obligatory chocolates from Chitose.”
“Russian Obligatory chocolate?”
“Some chocolates with stimulating stuff mixed among normal chocolates.”
It appeared the chocolates Chitose gave contained some really spicy, sour, sweet, bitter, and various kinds, filled with the kinds to destroy his taste buds. He was terrified of eating them.
“She made something really amazing again…”
“I’ll eat it, so if it looks like I’m suffering, please forgive me.”
“You will eat them all, I suppose.”
“Of course. She prepared it for me anyway, so I’ll eat it. It’s not poison.”
While there were stimulants inside, they were not harmful to the body, so he intended to eat those chocolates gratefully, since she made them for him.
Since she spent the time making them, the recipient should finish it. However, he was really unenthusiastic about eating stimulating stuff.
“Well, I didn’t receive anything else. I’m not a riajuu; Valentine’s Day isn’t something I can talk about.”
He was fine just receiving one obligatory chocolate.
He brooded, wondering how to repay her a month later as his eyebrows dropping. Mahiru in turn silently stared at him.
After dinner, he ate Chitose’s chocolate, and fell prone on the table.
He received 12 truffle chocolates from Chitose, divided into time intervals.
There were four types of jackpot, a one in three chance of striking.
The grand prize was the really spicy one, so Amane though he could eat the others normally—only to end up like this.
“You hit the jackpot.”
“…I want to eat it over a few days, and this happens…”
Mahiru was in the kitchen making drinks when she noticed Amane, and approached him with a voice of pity.
He barely managed to swallow it; his mouth no longer feeling spicy, but pain. He knew spiciness was not really a flavor, but that was not the problem.
Should he be considered lucky? This really was not something edible, it was bearable, but absolute suffering.
The wasabi’s unique sting agitated his nostrils, and he was impressed that Chitose really mixed all these flavors in, bemoaning with natural tears in his eyes that she should not have put in that much effort.
His nose and eyes were attacked by the wasabi, the habanero and pepper burned his tongue. It was an intense taste…painful even; one piece by itself left him battered all over.
“It is unfortunate. But you may think of it as encountering hell first; all that is left is heaven.”
Despite that, she was powerless to do anything about this pain.
Amane really yearned for this pain to quickly vanish as he heard a soft sigh, and from the side, there was a thud.
“Here, use this to wash it off.”
He lifted his head, and found a steaming mug next to him, giving off a sweet smell.
It contained some thick brown liquid.
“Similar. This is chocolat chaud…well basically, hot chocolate. It is not that sweet, but should be sufficient in clearing your tongue.”
“You saved me…”
For the time being, Amane’s urge was to wash off this this pain.
He poured the hot chocolate from the mug into his mouth, and the warm, rich flavor spread.
It had the sweet scent of chocolate, but the flavor was not too sweet, bittersweet rather, easy to drink, and comforting.
“That is good.”
She answered flatly, but he did not mind as he tried to conceal the pain in his mouth by slowly savoring the hot chocolate.
The chocolate itself did not contain much stimulant, and instead, they were mixed into ganache, hardened, and a coating of sugar was added. It was really impactful at first, but it eased up after some time.
Once he was done drinking, his tongue was back to normal, though a little numb.
“Haa…she really mixed everything in…”
“Was it that spicy?”
“Well she added pepper, wasabi and habanero. Goodness…good thing there’s something to clean my mouth up. I would have died if I ate it out there.”
“A silver lining in this misfortune, it seems.”
Damn you Chitose, so he cursed, but he could not blame Chitose and she probably wanted to give him a surprise.
Besides the jackpot, the others should be relatively normal, and she was not being malicious. She did make it for others, and tried it herself, so Amane could only give a wry smile at that.
“Speaking of which, it’s rare to see hot cocoa now. Isn’t it usually hot milk?”
“Wait, you’re making this for Valentine’s?”
Mahiru would usually drink hot milk or milk tea rather than hot cocoa; it was rare for her to make such a drink, so he asked, feeling a little hopeful.
“Nn, thanks. You saved me.”
She nodded slightly, and Amane heaved a sigh of relief.
If she denied it at this point, he would be embarrassed by how sensitive he was being; it seemed he got it right this time.
Mahiru probably used Valentine’s Day as a roundabout way of doing this, but he was really grateful for this.
Once he told her “it was delicious”, she shivered a little uncomfortably.
“What is it?”
He sat next to her, but he assumed that she would stammer if he prompted her, so he made sure to sound kind, asking again,
After prompting, Mahiru buried half her face into the cushion she tightly embraced, and looked up at him. Her body shriveled slightly as she looked up, and she looked so adorable, Amane had the urge to pat her head.
She was acting like a little animal, strangely adorable, capable of coaxing anyone to smile. Amane waited silently, but she shivered, not continuing on.
“…I-I shall head back.”
And for some reason, she suddenly stood up, and took her belongings.
Heh? Amane blurted out, and she teetered away from the living room.
Amane remained rooted as the entrance door opened and shut, followed by the sound of the lock. In the blink of an eye, Mahiru was gone.
It happened too quickly, “Ehhh…?” and he blurted out
Did I do anything …?
He was half confused as he never expected her to run away, half worried that he did anything to ruin her mood…such was the anxiety filling his heart.
What do I say to her if she’s still in a bad mood tomorrow? He wanted to check on the entrance door she left by, only to notice a little paper bag hanging on the doorknob of his room.
It was the pink paper bag she brought along when she left, with a message card pasted outside the seal.
This is my daily thanksgiving to you for being in your care all this while.
Typical of Mahiru, the card contained her polite, cursive handwriting. He looked into the bag, and found a chocolate-colored ribbon wrapped around a pastel pink box.
Why here? So he wondered, but he immediately realized she hung it there.
It seemed she found it too shameful to give it to him directly. She said she would not give to the boys, and this left her hesitant.
Couldn’t she just give it to me normally?
He gave a wry smile, thinking how she was rather reserved at such a moment, before removing the contents.
The box had a cute wrapping just like Mahiru, showcasing her feminine side.
He felt a little uneasy about whether he should receive her present, and slowly removed the wrapping, opening the box.
Inside it was chocolate coated sugar preserved oranges, each wrapped individually in vinyl. In other words, Orangettes.
The bright orange colors and the glossy dark chocolates looked really dazzling, and they looked really delicious.
There were normal chocolates and white chocolates coatings, and lemons too, ensuring that he would not get sick of them.
Attached to the Orangettes was another message.
『It seems you dislike sweets, so I made something easy to eat. It will be great if they suit your tastes』
Such was the message written, and he recalled the event ten days ago or so.
“How do you like it? ”
“I don’t really hate or like sweet stuff…something not too sweet, I guess. ”
She remembered his conversation with Chitose, and took note of his preferences.
It was just like Mahiru to notice the details, and to remember his likes. This was her gift to her, and these factors combined together left him embarrassed, his face a little hot.
He stared at the normal Orangettes that were individually wrapped for easy eating, and took one.
The bright glossy chocolates formed a beautiful contrast with the oranges. He took a bite
Spreading in his mouth was the sour sweetness of the sugar preserved orange, and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate.
The two flavors meshed perfectly, creating an impressive harmony.
He found them tastier than those sold in the shops, probably because it was made by Mahiru.
So he thought as he took another bite.
Mahiru’s Orangettes were sweet, sour, and a little bitter—but for some reason, it was incomparably sweet.