Hellping

“Ah.”

 

A silvery bell-like voice rang behind him.

 

It was a sound Amane was recently familiar with. He was not at his apartment however; this was the snacks section of the nearby supermarket.

 

There were usually people there, but Amane never expected Mahiru to react to him, so he turned towards her awkwardly, seeing her standing there, wide-eyed.

 

She was holding a basket, which contained radish, tofu, chicken thigh and milk, ingredients for tonight’s dinner.

Looking at this situation, it appeared she happened to encounter him at the snacks section.

 

“Let me say this first. It’s a coincidence, I wasn’t stalking you.”

“I know that. This is the closest supermarket here. I do understand this”

 

He preemptively stated, “Why do you think that?” and Mahiru groaned. She then looked towards the notebook in her hands.

It truly was the impeccable Mahiru’s style to write all her needs down.

 

Once she checked the contents on the cute floral patterned notebook, she looked away from the snacks corner, towards the seasonings corner on the opposite side.

“Soy sauce and mirin,” she muttered with an adorable voice as she searched for home necessities. She was truly acting cute, but Amane found it incredulous.

 

“The mirin’s here. Hey.”

“Ah, that is not the mirin I want. Underaged people cannot buy that.”

“This is considered alcohol?”

“It is treated as sweet wine. The seasoning type cannot be drunk directly when salt is added, so underaged people can buy this.”

 

He wanted to pass the mirin to her, but she shook her head, and put the mirin seasoning into the basket instead.

It was the first time Amane, who hardly did any housework, heard of this. “Heh,” he answered as he saw her deft movements from behind.

 

Mahiru stared intently at the rack of soy sauces, paying close attention to the price labels, and muttered with a frown.

 

“… Special discount limited only to 1 bottle per person…”

 

It appeared she wanted to buy another one, for she sighed with pity and looked towards him..

 

“I’ll buy one, okay?”

“Thank you for understanding me.”

 

He picked up the meaning in her words, and gave a wry smile as she held a bottle of soy sauce. Mahiru curled her lips into a satisfied smile.

 

“… You’re unexpectedly frugal.”

“Frugal, or I should say, save as much as I can. We should not be spending excessively.”

“Sounds like a Japanese characteristic… but I guess that’s a given when we live off our parents’ money.”

 

Amane too lived alone and relied on his parents.

He was born to a well-off family, and was able to live in such a clean, safe apartment. He also had ample living expenses and did not need to scrimp. Thus, he was really grateful for his parents. He had to pay for school expenses, and had to spend quite a bit on living expenses, so he would try to avoid pointless spending.

 

“… I guess. We are still reliant after all, so it is very important to save.”

 

Mahiru responded tersely as she sorted the contents of her basket. Her cold voice was devoid of warmth.

 

It was scary hearing her tone shift to monotone, but when she lifted her head, her expression was as before.

The fleeting look of her dull eyes were no longer to be seen.

 

“…Anyway, are you buying this?”

 

Mahiru tried to change the topic, it seemed, as she stared at the vacuum-packed rice and potato salad in the basket.

 

While the portions he received from Mahiru were truly delicious, that quantity was insufficient for him. As usual, he would buy some rice for the main course and salad as side dishes.

 

“For dinner.”

“These are not healthy.”

“Come on. I bought salad, see?”

“But it is potato salad… how have you not ruined your body living like this…?”

“You’re worrying too much.”

 

You should be eating more vegetables, so Mahiru narrowed her eyes as she exerted silent pressure on Amane, who turned aside and paid no heed.

 

While they continued to talk, Amane finished paying  and stored his items in the plastic bag. Mahiru in turn took out a recyclable bag and stored her items inside it.

She truly was a plebian Angel who cared for the environment.

 

However, while she had put her items in, the quantity left him a little worried.

 

The milk, soy sauce and mirin seasoning totaled 4 liters, and while they were slightly different from water in terms of density, it was still 4kg. Furthermore, she had purchased some ingredients, especially the radish, which would be really heavy.

 

She did pack them all nicely and zipped it up, but it would be physically taxing for her to carry it back to the apartment.

 

So she bought this much seasoning and ingredients because of me.

 

It seemed she would cook more than usual and share some with him. All this while, Amanue had been receiving a portion’s worth of food. She said she had been cooking too much, but it appeared she had been deliberately cooking excess food recently.

 

It seemed Amane caused her much trouble. He would be worthless as a male to not do anything for her.

 

Once he saw that she was done zipping, Amane tried lifting it, and while it was not too heavy for him, it would be considerably taxing for a girl to carry a long distance.

While Mahiru was really athletic, her physical strength was another matter. One could tell that beneath her clothes, her slender arms did not have much strength.

 

Amane’s gesture had her caramel-colored eyes blinking.

She seemed grateful rather than shocked.

 

“… I’m not stealing yours.”

“I am not worrying about that… I can carry that much, at least?”

“You’ll be cuter if you just accept this honestly, you know.”

“You are making it sound like I am not cute.”

“Compare how you act at school to how you treat me.”

 

She might have some self-awareness; she flinched a little.

 

Everyone agreed that she was so cordial, kind and humble at school, but she acted nothing like that when it came to Amane.

 

To be precise, while she did treat Amane well, she was blunt towards him. She never cared for any courtesy when it came to him, and always said what was on her mind.

It was much better than lying, however, so Amane did not really mind.

 

While Mahiru remained silent, Amane seized the opportunity to carry the recyclable bag chocked full of ingredients along with his and hurried towards the exit.

There seemed to be some frantic movements behind, but Amane paid no heed as he ignored their increasing distance, heading straight towards home.

 

He did not bother to slow down enough for her.

They were already together at the supermarket, and if anyone was to see them walking home side by side, things would get out of hand.

For them, this would be the ideal distance.

 

So Amane pretended not to have any relationship as he hurried on. “… Thank you very much,” a little whisper behind him echoed.

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