On this day, Mahiru was wearing an apron, her hair was tired in a bun as she welcomed him home.
She would usually tie her hair when cooking, and as expected of a girl, she would sometimes tie it in a ponytail, or a bun like this. She would seek practicality as much as cuteness.
It appeared she was done cooking dinner. When Amane returned home, she gave a look of relief.
Amane did inform her that he would be a little late, but it seemed Mahiru was still worried. Amane was late as he just had coffee with Kadowaki, and heard that latter’s troubles. It appeared Mahiru was worried about Amane being late.
“Welcome back, Amane-kun…that bag is?”
“Went to the game center. Well, here’s my prize.”
Amane brought out a few things other than the bunny doll, and the large bag was stuffed to the brim. It seemed Mahiru too could tell how packed it was.
“…That is quite a lot.”
“Just spent money for two cafeteria set meals.”
“Erm, what is inside?”
“I’m hungry. We’ll talk later.”
He could give it to Mahiru at this point, but he wanted to enjoy her reaction slowly, so he decided to leave it be.
Also, he was really hurry, and wanted to have her dinner early.
“Do wash your hands and change clothes then. Do not forget to rinse your mouth too. I shall serve dinner in the meantime.”
Amane would usually do so even without her saying that, but he was happy about how worried and concerned she was for him.
While thinking that Mahiru was acting like his mother, he never said it out, and went to the washroom as Mahiru had told him to.
“…What is with this many items?”
After dinner, Mahiru showed her curiosity as she glanced aside at the prizes next to the sofa, asking Amane.
Amane did not intend to hide the spoils from her, so he put the bag on his knees, and tore the tape as he answered.
“You like them, right?”
“Y-yes, I do.”
“There’s quite a lot, I feel you’ll really like them, so I got them. Here.”
The biggest prize for the day was probably the bunny doll about the size of the bear.
It was rather large, but Amane was rather proud of himself as he only used a coin.
He lifted the white fur, round eyed bunny, and put it on Mahiru’s lap.
He was unsure what character it was, but he had a feeling Mahiru would like it, so he grabbed it. However, Mahiru merely stared at the bunny on her lap.
“You dislike bunnies?”
“…It is cute.”
Mahiru embraced the bunny doll with both hands, and brought it to her face, just as she usually embraced the cushion. For a moment, Amane had the urge to frisk his cellphone, but he decided not to.
Once he saw her smile, he captured the sight in his ind as he rummaged for the other dolls inside the bountiful bag.
“And we have a cat and a dog.”
The crane arms were rather powerful, and thus he could capture most of the items cheaply. He caught a lot of things Mahiru might like.
He put a beige and white colored kitten doll that had a strange resemblance to Mahiru, along with a shiba dog mascot. Mahiru then clearly showed a perturbed look.
“E-erm, so many…?”
“Will that cause you trouble?”
“Not at all! I have no decorations at home, and they are all cute. I am happy.”
The sight of Mahiru being surrounded by various dolls was as cute as Amane had imagined.
Mahiru had yet to put the bunny down as she stared at the cat and dog excitedly, seemingly at a loss of which to choice.
Amane smiled at her as he found her expression comforting. Mahiru seemed to have noticed Amane’s stare as her face turned red, before covering half her face with the bunny.
The bunny’s white, and Mahiru’s reddened face was obvious.
One could see her moist eyes through the gap between the bunny ears. Amane continued to stare at Mahiru, as the sight of her was strangely alluring and cute.
Mahiru might have had enough, for she clung her head onto Amane’s elbow, and buried her face. Or rather, she was slamming her head on Amane, ostensibly throwing a tantrum.
Rather than slamming, she was just giving him a little headbutt, and it did not hurt.
“…Please do not laugh.”
“You are. You are laughing at how childish I am.”
“I’m not laughing at that. I just find you cute.”
“…Are you not laughing at me?”
Ah busted. Amane tried to pass it off by laughing. Mahiru started slapping Amane’s thighs, and Amane patted her head to coax her.
Finally, Mahiru calmed down. Amane made sure not to let the cat out of the bag as he laughed.
“…It feels like you are making fun of me.”
“You are thinking too much.”
“…I shall let you off today.”
Mahiru continued to pout unhappily. Amane did not point out how her face and words were completely different.
He looked at the kitten on her lap and the bunny in her clutches, and thought, some fusion we have here. He patted her for a while, and then, she lifted her face.
Her reddened cheeks showed no change, but her eyes looked displeased in a manner different from before.
“…I have always received things from you.”
It appeared she was worried about receiving too much.
“I’m giving them to you out of my own will. You don’t have you worry.”
“But I have received many things from you. Gifts, concern, warmth, mood, everything.”
“It’s just a gift from me. You don’t have to worry.”
Amane did not hope to be repaid, and only did so to make Mahiru happy.
It might sound like Mahiru’s happiness would be his reward, but ultimately, he did so out of his own satisfaction and hopes. There was nothing Mahiru needed to worry about.
It appeared Mahiru was still worried about receiving too much from Amane.
Instead, Amane had received too much care from her, and no amount of gratitude from him would suffice.
“I wish to give you something back.”
“You’re really stubborn…well, if you insist, I can accept it.”
“I can give you anything, as long as it is what I can do.”
Amane disliked this suggestion, for he felt she could do anything. Naturally however, he could not ask her to do something overboard.
Yet if he did not ask for anything, Mahiru would be devastated.
“How about pudding?”
So Amane happily suggested something she would not be burdened with.
“…Pudding, is it?”
“A pudding with lots of eggs. I want to try some from you.”
“Is it not to save money?”
“No way. I want it because it’s your pudding.”
Amane was not particularly fond of sweets, but custard was an exception.
He liked pudding, and cream puffs with custard cream. Anything made by Mahiru would surely be delicious.
Of course, he would desire to eat the handmade cooking of a girl he likes.
Once he made this earnest request, Mahiru looked up at him, and nodded.
“…I shall do so on the next rest day. More eggs, and harder, I suppose?”
“I shall make delicious pudding, definitely.”
“You don’t have to be so pumped up.”
“I want to do this.”
For some reason, Mahiru showed some meaningless motivation and determination. Amane did not think she needed to be so determined, but he had nothing to complain about since he could have some delicious pudding.
He patted her head again, wanting to cheer her on. Mahiru apprehensively hid her lips behind the bunny head.