“So, shall we hear an explanation of what happened two days ago?”
It was two days after Amane went out with Mahiru.
Amane, Itsuki and Kadowaki went out for karaoke, and once they entered the booked suite, Kadowaki immediately smiled at Amane.
Amane steeled himself for Kadowaki’s questions but he felt awkward after all.
On a side note, it appeared Itsuki had known from Kadowaki, and was giving a ah, busted, face, yet clearly not hiding his joy.
Amane got himself some melon soda from the self-service kiosk, had a sip to quench his throat, and said reluctantly.
“…It’s not really some big relationship. Mahiru and I are just neighbors, Itsuki and Chitose found out because of an accident. It’s a coincidence that we’re neighbors though. Some things happened thereafter, and our relationship got closer.”
“So you two got closer, and went out together.”
Objectively looking, Amane and Mahiru were no mere acquaintances. They were clearly friends, or even lovers.
Amane felt that he had to deny this with all his might, for the sake of Mahiru’s honor.
“We don’t have that sort of relationship you’re thinking of, Kadowaki.”
“I don’t think it’s exactly what you say, Fujimiya.”
“They’re not just on friendly terms, seriously. Shiina-san’s been cooking for him every day.”
Itsuki threw a bomb, and Amane’s cheeks froze as he glared at the former.
“It’s a matter of time until everything gets exposed. Better to say it out quickly.”
Itsuki might be correct here, but Kadowaki would surely be mistaken since he suddenly heard that Amane had been eating Mahiru’s cooking every day.
“…A commuting wife?”
“No. I’m living by myself, so we split the costs evenly. It’s just more convenient for her to cook.”
“You believe it?”
“It’s not convincing at all…”
“You too Kadowaki…?”
Amane and Mahiru were definitely not lovers, but Amane strangely lost confidence when Kadowaki glanced aside at him dumbfoundedly. Well, Amane hardly had confidence to begin with.
“Normally speaking, girls don’t go to those they dislike, and they don’t enter a boy’s room if they’re not comfortable with it. It’s a different case if the girl wants to be attacked however.”
For some strange reason, Amane had a feeling that the last quip was out of personal experience, and started to wonder how tricky the girls Kadowaki knew of were. Kadowaki was right however, and Amane could not deny it completely at all.
Girls, especially those as wary as Mahiru, would never approach boys on their own volition. It appeared that Amane did become close with Mahiru, but that was miraculous by itself. He knew very well that he had received preferential treatment from her.
Amane however did not think he had enough charm for a girl to fall for him. He had the nagging feeling that Mahiru got close to him, and trusted him, to the point where she was actually relying on him.
“…Fujimiya, you’re strangely stubborn and lacking in confidence sometimes.”
Itsuki and Kadowaki gave stunned looked, leaving Amane very uncomfortable.
“So, do you like Shiina-san or not, Fujimiya?”
The moment Amane tried to pass this off by sipping at the melon soda, Kadowaki suddenly delivered a haymaker, resulting in him nearly spitting out the soda.
“…What’s with that out of a sudden?”
“Ah, you look very wary, so since you two are basically living together, I think you do like her somewhat. Actually, I can tell from your eyes and mood that you really like her.”
“…Can’t I like her?”
Kadowaki’s really an observant one, Amane bitterly thought as he nodded honestly, and for some reason, Kadowaki gave a wry look.
“N-not that you can’t…but well, looks like there’s lots of tough issues to tackle.”
“I haven’t thought about going out with Mahiru.”
“Uh huh, and you don’t understand, just like the last time. Look, even Itsuki’s giving you that look.”
“Well yeah. I feel like giving him a kick in the back.”
“I get what you mean.”
“Don’t agree with each other on this…”
Amane was confused as to why Kadowaki agreed with Itsuki’s urge to kick Amane in the back.
“But see, we’re worried about you. You should take the initiative.”
“Don’t put me in a spot.”
“No no, Shiina-san has opened her heart to you. Take the initiative to conquer her.”
“Mahiru does like me to some extent…I think that it’s not that she likes me outright, but that she mostly relies on me.”
Itsuki’s words might sound easy, but it was never going to be that simple.
Amane knew that Mahiru did have feelings for him. He would admit that Mahiru treasured him more than any other boy.
However, he did not think it was fondness as a girl.
Instead of a love between boy and girl, it might be more akin to trust and reliance, for they knew everything about each other.
“See, you’re saying that with that look?”
“What’s attractive about me anyway?”
Amane refuted, and Itsuki immediately slapped him in the back.
“Sorry, but you realllllllllllllyyyy have no confidence in yourself. You always try to run away when the stakes are highest.”
“…Even if you say so, I can’t help it. It’s habit.”
“You should start changing that habit. You really look down on yourself.”
“…Mahiru always says that.”
“…Shiina-san sure has it tough, huh…?”
“We’re having it tough just looking at them. This guy’s really stubborn about such things.”
Amane was starting to feel he was the one at fault after so many people had criticized him.
It was due to his personality, nothing he could do; it was not that simple to correct it. The painful memories would never vanish easily. It was not easy to forget at the drop of a hat when it happened not too long ago.
He understood he was cowardly, embarrassingly cowardly, but he was powerless to correct it.
“I’m not going to force you if you think that’s fine. If you really like Shiina-san though, and you want to date her, put in effort.”
“…You think I can do that?”
“Alright alright. But I think you can be a little more confident, Fujimiya. Seriously, you’ll be very popular at school if you dress up like you did two days ago. Want some practice?”
“Since you can do it before Shiina-san and me, I guess that means you can do this before those you’re close with. Say, it’s rare that we get to play on vacation, right?”
“…In other words?”
“We have wax over here.”
Kadowaki pulled out a male makeup set from his bag.
Amane met Kadowaki in the eyes, and found the latter giving a very genial smile. Faced with the elegance of this smiling Prince however, he felt a shiver up his spine.
“No, forget about it.”
“Come on, don’t worry.”
“Wait, let’s have karaoke. We’re here for karaoke, right?”
“Of course. I’ll leave it to you then, Itsuki.”
“Leave it to me.”
“You’re joking right…?”
Amane asked timidly, and was met with a hearty smile.
“We can stop if you hate it…but it’s time for you to start getting used to stares. Better to give some bitter medicine.”
Itsuki grinned with comb and wax in hands. Amane tried to backtrack, but there was nowhere for him to escape in a karaoke suite.
Kadowaki prepared to sing with a smile on his face, and Amane looked on as Itsuki messed with his hair.