“So, how did White Day go?”
The next day, Itsuki asked Amane about the latter’s thoughts, who then frowned hard.
Itsuki was considerate enough not to ask Amane at school. They dropped by at a fast food restaurant after school, and Itsuki asked with a smile the moment they sat down.
Amane only showed up because he wanted to eat something salty stuff like fries once in a while, but he thought he should not have come if he knew this question would be asked.
“How, you ask…I just gave it to her, as normal.”
“Was she happy?”
Whether she was happy, the answer would be yes, she was.
She did not smile as innocently as a child, but her smile to Amane was apprehensive and sweet, unspeakably alluring. He felt she should be rather happy.
He felt restless just recalling that beautiful smile.
He tried to answer as calmly as possible while he suppressed the heat rising up from within to his cheeks. Ituski then folded his arms “Yep yep”, nodding away in understanding.
“So, looking at you, it seems to have gone well. I guess you caught her fancy to see her adorable smile.”
“See, you two are on better terms now?”
Amane bit his lips after hearing this voice that was more impressed than teasing.
Itsuki would never probe into anything Amane did not want others to know of, but as a close friend, he would accurately pinpoint what the latter was thinking, which made him difficult to deal with. Even if Amane wanted to retaliate, Itsuki was on such good terms with Chitose to begin with, so it was pointless.
Grrr, Amane gritted speechlessly. Itsuki showed a calm smile, the ambiguous calm expression infuriating the former.
Left with no choice, he turned his face aside as he ate the fries, and Itsuki shot him a wry smile.
“You look rather happy to me though? Seems like spring has come for you, Amane”
“That’s not it.”
“You don’t know what you feel about her?”
“…Nope, that’s impossible.”
It was true that Amane personally knew how Mahiru really trusted him. In that case, he intended to be close enough such that he would be the most trustworthy to her. Amongst all she was acquainted with, Amane might be the one she could open up most to.
However, it would be wrong to say it was love.
Sometimes, he would be embarrassed as he treated her as a girl, but that was common between those of different genders. He had received her goodwill, but he did not think that involved any love.
Recently, he had started to tidy his appearance a little bit, but the fact remained that he was a lowlife, and he did not she would like someone like him.
“Seriously, you’re having low self-esteem here. You’re always thinking that you’re not the type to be liked.”
“It’s like she’s been given everything from the heavens…ah no, she did work hard for them at least. She’s hardworking, cute, an amazing kid, and I got nothing. You think she’ll like me?”
“If all the pretty girls are to fall for all the capable handsome guys, those unpopular guys will launch terrorist attacks, you know.”
He felt that the handsome lad Itsuki should not be saying such things.
“Well, if you want to take it as that, so be it…but as a friend, I’ll give a prediction.”
“You’ll change someday. Actually, you’re showing signs of change now; all that’s left is for you to take the next step.”
“…You’re saying like you know me.”
“Ha ha ha, how many years have I been your friend?”
“Not even a year.”
Amane coldly retorted “Seems that way” and Itsuki burst out laughing.
While the conversation seemed foolish and unhelpful, but Itsuki, who was his friend in high school, seemed to be more understanding and helpful to Amane, compared to the other male friends back at Amane’s hometown during elementary and middle schools.
“Speaking of which.”
“You say you’re not a match for her, but what you say, that attitude of yours, basically admits that you have some feelings for her.”
“I’ll stab some fries into your nose.”
He was a little moved, only to have some unnecessary words directed at him, and took some fries in response. Itsuki immediately apologized, but that was just like him.
“You are rather late.”
He returned home an hour later than usual, and welcoming him was Mahiru wearing the apron.
Are you some newlywed wife? So he wondered, but it might be because of the conversation with Itsuki. She did not have such feelings, but he started deluding himself. He felt sorry to her because of this, and hastily rid himself of such notions.
“Nn, went to eat fries with Itsuki.”
“…Right before dinner though.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll finish everything.”
He was capable of downing Mahiru’s cooking, and he did order small sized fries just now, so he not particularly bloated.
He was confident about finishing the usual amount of food Mahiru would serve.
“I wonder…if you will grow fat, but it might be better for you to gain flesh, since you are so skinny, Amane-kun.”
“You should be the one gaining some flesh. You’re so terrifyingly thin, it feels like you’ll snap.”
“I am not that skinny to the point of breaking.”
“Really? See, that’s how thin you are.”
Mahiru’s delicate body was befitting a girl. She was adept at sports, and thin might not be the only term to describe her; one could call her tender too.
She might appear fragile on first glance. He grabbed her fine wrist, and found his fingers easily wrapping around hers, so much so that he could have snapped her wrist if he exerted strength. “Do treat girls kindly and carefully” his father once taught him that.
When he held her hand, Amane worried that Mahiru was way too thin, that she might get injured if he was not around.
Same for the fine fingers, they might snap if he got careless. He wondered if it was fine for her to be so thin.
He seemed to be tracing his finger on her as he checked, and found her fidgeting.
She looked down, but towards Amame’s hand that was holding hers.
He noticed her faint colored cheeks, and realized he did something without her permission, hastily removing his hand.
“…Erm, sorry. I think you don’t like others touching you, right?”
“N-no…I do not dislike it if it is you, Amane-kun.”
These words had him doubting his ears momentarily as he stared at Mahiru, and she might have realized what she was saying as she suddenly lifted her face.
She was blushing more than before, her eyes moist due to shame as she looked at Amane, who himself was becoming restless.
“No-not that I want you to touch me. I just do not want other boys to touch me.”
Even though she said so, he could not stop his heart from shrieking.
Mahiru viewed Amane as someone close to him, and treated him specially, which he understood. Nevertheless, this would still cause his mind to wander. He hoped she would not explain it in this manner again.
“…Y-yeah. You aren’t wearing that thing yesterday. Ah no, I’m not demanding that you do.”
He asked, trying to cover up his pounding heart; Mahiru looked towards her write, and gently stroked the part Amane just touched.
“…It is a hindrance to wear it while doing housework, and will spoil easily…I wish to treasure it, and will wear it only on rest days.”
Once she mentioned such an adorable reason, he nearly tumbled over in shock.
No boy would remain still when faced with such a cute declaration.
She treasured his gift, and intended to wear it well. Once he knew it, Amane felt various emotions rising up his chest, and he felt a fluffy pain within.
Doo, doo, he sensed his heart pounding wildly, his mind in a daze. He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself down.
“…If you like it, I’m glad.”
“I really do, and I will really treasure it. Kuma-san, the key case, the bracelet.”
But I have been using the hand cream lots, she showed a little bashful smile. Amane had enough, and as he had not removed his shoes as he stood, he hastily removed them, and went to the corridor.
“…I’ll get changed.”
“Y-yes. Be seeing you, Amane-kun.”
It was his own house, but he felt as though he was being sent off by a new wife, and his heart palpitated. He hurried into his own room, and crouched down.