“Itsuki, Fujimiya, let’s eat.”
It was noon break at school, and Amane was about to eat with Itsuki as usual, only to hear a familiar voice.
Kadowaki had a hand raised, showing the usual hearty, genial smile.
It appeared that Kadowaki took a liking to Amane after the conversation days ago, and would come to talk from time to time. While they merely greeted each other before this, it appeared something was different on this day, for he dropped by with wallet in hand.
“I’m fine with that…”
“Itsuki’s fine with that, right?”
“How are you sure that I won’t refuse you? Well, doesn’t matter now. It’s surprising to see you do this.”
Itsuki might have been surprised by this, since Kadowaki hardly interacted with Amane. The latter might be the most surprised however.
“Amane, Yuuta’s emotionally attached to you or something?”
“Emotionally attached…I’m not a dog.”
“Yuuta’s actually like a dog. Once he trusts you and gets closer, he’ll wag his tail or something. He’s like a golden retriever.”
“Don’t call me a dog so openly.”
Kadowaki retorted at Itsuki, but Amane certainly agreed that he had the vibe of a golden retriever. Amane started to laugh.
Kadowaki looked a little miffed when he saw Amane’s shoulders shaking. He appeared to be pouting, rather than his mood actually being ruined.
“Don’t laugh, Fujimiya.”
“You think so too huh, Amane?”
“I just thought that since you mentioned it…”
“Well, you’re still the way you are, Fujimiya. I just want to get along since I think you’re a good guy.”
“Yep, it’s good that more people know about Amane’s good points. Come ask me.”
“Who do you think you are?”
Kadowaki retorted at Itsuki, who slapped his chest proudly. He walked over, exchanged looks with Amane, and showed a dazzling smile.
Any girl would be conquered by him if he showed that smile. All Amane could do was to show a wry smile.
“…Can I ask something?”
“Is it really alright for you to be with an ordinary guy like me? It doesn’t benefit you, right?”
Kadowaki might had interest in Amane, and just wanted to be a friend, but Amane did not think there was no benefit to Kadowaki doing this.
He had so many friends, so why did he seek out Amane to be a friend, of all people?
Of course, Amame knew that people did not necessarily make friends by simply weighing pros and cons. He too made friends through instinctual feelings, yet he did not understand why Kadowaki chose him.
Kadowaki was stunned to hear Amane’s words, and gave an incredulous look.
“You didn’t make friends by weighing pros and cons, right?”
“Isn’t that alright? I’m talking to you because I want to get along.”
Kadowaki’s smile remained like the clear skies, and narrowed his eyes.
“Yep. It’s a good thing to build relationships.”
Itsuki grinned away as he said this, and quickly turned his eyes elsewhere.
Over there was Chitose, who was beaming away, “Mahirun’s really cute after all.” hugging Mahiru, who just let her be.
It was normal to see Chitose go for some skinship, and everyone in class might have been used to it, for they were staring at this scene between girls, smiling, or looking jealous.
Amane saw that they were already used to it, yet Itsuki showed a wry smile at their tomfoolery.
Itsuki smiled away as he tried to misdirect them, leading them towards the cafeteria. Amane and Kadowaki too followed suit.
“I have decided.”
They returned home, had dinner, and Mahiru suddenly said these words. Amane blinked in surprise.
“What’s with you out of a sudden.”
“I had enough.”
“O-okay. I don’t understand, but since you’ve been enduring, I think it’s fine for you not to.”
It appeared Mahiru had made up her mind about something, but Amane did not understand what exactly she was referring to.
Despite that, she did work hard, could endure, and was never stubborn. Since she said she had enough, Amane would accept that, and even take the initiative in praising her.
“Make it count.”
“What are you intending to do…?”
“…Do you really want to know?”
“You will not be angry?”
“Are you going to tick me off or something?”
Judging from the tone, it appeared to be related to Amane, so he had to ask.
Naturally, Mahiru would never do anything to hurt others, and Amane never had to worry about this. However, what was she intending to do?
He stared at her for quite some time, and her face was flushed, probably out of embarrassment, her index fingers stick onto each other as she fidgeted, looking apprehensive.
“…I want to get along with you at school, Amane-kun.”
She probably was referring to them acting as strangers at school.
“It feels like I am the abandoned one.”
Amane’s heart weakened when he saw Mahiru say with a crestfallen look.
Back then, Amane would chat with Chitose as normal, so he could at least communicate with someone who knew both Amane and Mahiru. He really could not talk with Mahiru directly. Whenever Chitose came to talk to Itsuki, Mahiru would be left behind.
Mahiru had friends in her class, but they never got along with her as much as Chitose did, and surely she would feel lonely. Of course, this loneliness was hidden in the angel’s smile, but Amane was sufficiently acquainted with Mahiru to determine it.
Amane understood this, and hoped to do something for her, but it was not something he could easily nod and agree.
“…But honestly, won’t it be unnatural for the Angel to suddenly get friendly with us plain looking people?”
“I have thought about it, and I have my solution.”
“You thought about?”
“Of course…you look down on yourself more than I do. Your self-denial is a huge problem. I shall do my best to ensure you gain confidence.”
“Seriously, what are you thinking…”
Amane noticed how Mahiru was scared of being alone, but he never expected Mahiru to enthusiastic involve herself with him.
This sense of closeness was something they could not imagine at first, and he did not know whether to be elated or concerned.
“…Are you not willing to talk to me at school…?”
“Not that I dislike it, but someone like me…”
Mahiru interrupted by calling his name. She sounded stern, as though reproaching.
“Do not say ‘someone like me’.”
You always have a habit of belittling yourself, Amane-kun. She seemed infuriated as she poked her index finger at his nose.
“If you say that next time…eh, I shall, continue to point.”
“I shall point it out, and as punishment, I shall pat your head until I am satisfied.”
“That’s a reward, right…?”
Amane accidentally blurted, and his face twitched.
It was a reward to receive Mahiru’s headpat, but he should not have blurted it out.
For once Mahiru saw Amane freeze, her face reddened, and she was flustered.
She never expected her punishment to be a reward. An overly cute punishment would not be a punishment, yet it was so like Mahiru.
Amane too stopped talking as he had just stated his true thoughts, or rather, his desire. Silence loomed.
They fidgeted hastily, and their eyes wavered. Mahiru then seemed to have made up her mind as she opened her arms towards Amane.
“…Y-you’re doing this?”
She probably wanted him to enter her clutches, to headpat him.
His head would overheat if he did so, so he did not. While the proposal piqued his desire greatly, Mahiru herself did not have any guilty thoughts, and had no intention of suspecting Amane of anything. It would be inappropriate for him to remain in close contact with such guilty thoughts.
He gulped, but he never followed through, “Please allow me to refuse.” he shook his head, and spoke formally.
He really could not enjoy the softness with a nonchalant look.
“Don’t do that to a guy. If you want, go look for Chitose.”
“…I do think Chitose-san is more dangerous, you know?”
“If she sexually harasses you, just beat her. If I’m going to do anything perverted, beat me all you want.”
“I will not doubt you since you are able to say so. A-anyway, I shall headpat you with all my might the next time you say so.”
Ultimately, it appeared Mahiru had no intention of changing the punishment. Amane noticed that if he was punished, his shame and sanity would be at risk, so he swore to himself never to belittle himself before her.