Chitose finished her lunch, and heartily rubbed her belly.
She looked really overjoyed, given her expression, and Mahiru too smiled happily. The latter loved to serve others, so the sudden attack on this day might not be a bad thing to her.
“Well~ Shiina-san, you can really cook anything. I never thought you could make a half cooked omelette with the inside runny and the outside like an omelette.”
“It is thanks to the teacher who taught me how to cook.”
“You learned how to cook?”
“Well, I guess. She said that if I can cook for myself without trouble, I can proudly cook for anyone without shame.”
“Heh~! If you’re so good at cooking, I think your teacher’s really amazing!”
Mahiru was probably referring to the caretaker she was mentioned about.
Surely that caretaker was the only one at Mahiru’s old home who actually treated her well.
“I wonder if I can have such skills if that person teaches me.”
“Just control your curiosity and you should be able to cook something decent if you don’t be too adventurous.”
“Eh, but I can’t start if I’m not being adventurous?”
“If you don’t do that, you should be able to do anything… your curiosity and mischief ruins everything…you just needed to follow the recipe…”
Chitose should be able to do better than average as long as she played it safe. Given her lively personality and bad habits, the actual result would drop by a rank.
She was free and lax like a cat, but not as obedient as one, and such was her problem. She could be obedient if she wanted to, but it seemed to be tiring to her.
She could be a wise woman if she instinctively knew when to calm down, but her personality just would not allow her to do so.
“Even including cooking, you should watch how you talk at least. There’s a perfect example before you, see?”
“Ehhhn, but I can’t become like Mahirun here. It’s too restraining.”
“Aren’t you being rude to Shiina?”
“Nn, but Mahirun seems very restrained too, or a little suffocated.”
From time to time, Chitose would read a person’s true personality to a shocking precise level.
“Mahirun at school just feel lifeless.”
“…You think so?”
“Nn, we’re in different classes, so I can’t say, but it feels like instead of you acting boring, it feels like you are taking a few steps back and looking at everyone from far away. It’s like you’re kind to anyone, Mahirun, but you never open your heart to anyone else.”
It was likely, no, Chitose was definitely correct.
Mahiru appeared a good child who was kind to everyone, but in fact, only a rare few could see beyond her façade.
Mahiru wanted to be a good child, and did her best to avoid showing her true personality.
She herself knew this best, and looked a little gloomy. However, Chitose grinned away as she reached towards Mahiru, seated next to her.
“You’re being super duper cute at such a private setting here, Mahirun. That’s why I know this is your real self,. I prefer this side of Mahirun~”
Ehehe~ she giggled as she latched firmly onto Mahiru. The latter looked aside for a moment, seemingly a little perturbed, but she did not seem to refuse as she made some limited contact with Chitose.
“Say Mahirun, I think you can act a little more honest~ see, Amane’s been pampering you, you know? He’s always pampering those he’s familiar with; you can seal the deal immediately if you ask to be spoiled by him, Mahirun?”
“I will not!”
“…It is not what you are expecting, Chitose-san.”
Mahiru turned her head abruptly, “Real~ly?” and Chitose smiled, looking towards Amane for some reason.
Amane probably could not do anything even though she was looking at him. If Mahiru did not ask, there was nothing for him to think about, and he could not pamper her. Mahiru hoped to be independent, and it was best to respect her wishes.
But, just if…if she said she wanted to be pampered…he could not say he would be unwilling.
He did not have any reason to hesitate. If Mahiru was willing to express all her troubles in her heart to him, and ask him to help her, he had confidence that he could hold up her little back, as though everything was to be expected.
Once again, he realized how close their relationship had become, and felt awkward about it, but he did not express it as he looked towards Chitose and Mahiru making contact with each other.
“Well, pretty girls on such good terms are really good for the eyes.”
“What are you saying?”
He ignored Itsuki’s perverted words as he saw the two of them getting along well. Mahiru finally had a friend of the same gender she could show her true personality to, and he was a little relieved.
Naturally, Chitose’s stayover place was at Mahiru’s house.
Amane thought she would prefer to be with Itsuki, “But I’ve been living with Ikkun often, so I want to be with Mahirun this time”, so after dinner, she went to Mahiru’s place happily.
He knew they were close to each other, and that Itsuki often stayed over at Chitose’s place, so there was nothing strange about those words…but for some reason, he felt a little awkward knowing the fact that they had been staying over often.
What are you imagining, you silent pervert? Itsuki shot Amane such a look, and the latter stomped on the foot again, being merciful enough not to stomp on the pinky.
“Say, you don’t have to hide your embarrassment by stomping on others, right?”
“Your fault for guessing randomly.”
Amane was grumbled at right when they were about to sleep, and turned his head aside.
He did not stomp for real, and the pain would soon subside, so Itsuki did not appear to be blaming him. One might say it was a minor scuffle between boys, and neither would actually bicker over this. Amane too was often slapped by Itsuki; it was common.
“At this age, it’s common to be staying at another place. It’s normal, normal.”
“Who knows? Can we stop with this topic now?”
“Logically, guys should be talking about this, right?”
“There’s no such logic, so stop it.”
He did not want to hear his friend yap about stories between couples, and glared to end this topic, only for Itsuki to show him a delighted smile.
“Seriously, you’re either a herbivore, or too innocent.”
“You want me to beat you up?”
“Well, that’s why Shiina-san opened her heart to you. If you’re greedy, she’s not going to approach you.”
Good job! Itsuki grinned as he gave a thumbs up, and Amane showed a bitter look he would never ever show to Mahiru.
But that face was completely ineffectual against Itsuki.
He clicked his tongue, and glared at Itsuki. There was a light sounding electronic sound from the smartphone.
It appeared to be a message received, and Amane stopped glaring at Itsuki as he looked at the smartphone screen. It appeared to be a message from Chitose.
He opened the app, thinking it was about their next day plans. What he saw was a message sent along with a photo.
“Looky look Mahirun’s so cute! ※I took it with her permission.”
There was a photo attached with that one line.
The photo showed Mahiru just sitting on the bed. Behind her appeared to be the bedroom.
He would not have any thoughts if that was it, but the problem was her attire and her expression.
She was wearing her night gown.
That alone would be normal, but she was wearing a loose one piece night gown with long sleeves, or in other words, a negligee. The faint pink color further showcased her femininity, making her really adorable.
She might have just taken a bath, for her sleeves and collar were showing skin, a little tinge of fiery red showing from the inside, as though her entire body was on fire.
Thanks to that, while she was not exposed in any way, she looked strangely alluring, and yet at the same time, looked innocent, a stark contrast.
And what caught his attention more than anything else—was Mahiru’s expression.
She had Amane’s teddy bear on her knees, looking down a little, not at the camera.
But she was not looking down much, her face was not completely concealed, and even on the photo, she looked embarrassed.
A rose color appeared on her cheeks, and it probably was not due to the bath from before.
She looked embarrassed and troubled, much more alluring than usual.
At the same time, there was an added adorable to her as she placed her hands on the teddy bear upon her knees. Even though it was a photo, Amane felt his cheeks starting to heat up from inside.
What was Chitose planning, sending such a photo?
Why show it to Amane before he slept? How could he sleep as though nothing had happened?
“Why are you blushing looking at your phone? Some ero pic?”
“Like hell it is!”
“Then what are you looking?”
Itsuki dropped by to have a look, and before Amane could hide it, the message on the screen entered Itsuki’s eyes, and the latter showed a proud smile.
“I see I see, you’re really innocent, Amane-kun.”
“Do you want to sleep forever?”
“Are you hinting that I should die?”
“Do you want me to make it direct?”
“Don’t be so heartless. No no, but any boy would be amazed seeing that Angel like this. Ahh, no, Chii’s the best.”
“Slow down, you bastard.”
Goodness, he combed his hair with his palm as he sighed, only to hear a shutter noise.
“No well, Chii asked me to take a photo of you for commemorative purpose, Amane. It’s just a little phot. That’s not okay?”
“Whatever, it’s just that, what’s the point of taking a photo of me…”
“I’m not going to send it to anyone else, relax. There’s a purpose to that.”
Amane did not know what purpose that was, and stared at Itsuki dumbfoundedly, but the latter merely smiled with satisfaction.
What’s he going to do with that photo of me? He sighed hard, and Itsuki muttered with a voice softer than Amane, “Why’s he so oblivious about himself?”