e you doing? ”

The first time Amane Fujimiya spoke to Mahiru Shiina was when he caught sight of

her sitting on a swing in the park, in the middle of the pouring rain.

This was Amanes first year as a high school student. Hed recently begun living alone

in a nearby apartment building. Little did he know when he first moved in that his

next-door neighbor was a veritable angel on Earth.

Of course, calling her an angel was just a figure of speech, but Mahiru Shiina was such

a beautiful, sweet girl that the comparison seemed entirely fitting.

Her straight, well-groomed, flaxen hair was always silky smooth and lustrous. The

girls pale, milky-white skin was always soft, as if it had never been anything less than

perfect. From her shapely nose and large eyes rimmed with long eyelashes to her

delicate, dewy pink lips, every part of her looked like it had been sculpted by the

practiced hand of a true master.

Amane went to the same high school as Mahiru and was in the same grade, so hed

heard plenty about her. Mostly, people talked about her beauty or how she was

accomplished in both academics and sports.

As it happened, Mahiru always got the top score on exams and was a real ace in gym

class, too. Amane was in a different class, so he didn know all the details, but if the

rumors were anything to judge by, Mahiru was some kind of superhuman being.

Truly, she seemed without a flaw—attractive in face and figure and an excellent

student. Perhaps most surprising was that she wasn the least bit stuck-up about it.

With her quiet, modest personality, it was no wonder she was so popular.

Living next door to such a beautiful girl wouldve gotten most boys practically salivating

at the mere thought. Amane, however, didn intend to make a fuss over her or try to

get too close.

He certainly wouldn deny that Mahiru Shiina was beautiful, but she had never been

more than a neighbor to him. There hadn really been any opportunities for them to

talk, and not once did he consider approaching her himself.

If they did somehow become involved in some fashion, it would definitely make a lot

of other boys jealous, and thatd be trouble. Amane knew it was better to remain

amicable next-door neighbors and avoid the wrath of her other admirers.

It was possible to appreciate a charming girl without falling in love with her, after all.

Amane recognized that Mahiru was the kind of girl best cherished from afar and had

contented himself with existing in her life as only her neighbor.

Thus, when Amane caught sight of her looking lost in thought and alone in the pouring

rain without an umbrella, he couldn help but stop and stare, wondering what she

might be doing.

The downpour was heavy enough to send most everyone else scurrying home, but

there she was, sitting all by herself on a swing in the park between their school and

their apartment building.

What is she doing in the rain? Amane wondered.

Everything was gloomy beneath the darkened sky, and the rain, relentless since that

morning, only made it even more difficult to see. Mahirus conspicuous flaxen hair and

her school uniform made it impossible to miss her, however, even veiled by the dismal


Amane did not know why she was sitting there without an umbrella, letting herself

get soaked. Mahiru didn appear to be waiting for someone, nor did she seem at all

concerned by the rain. As far as Amane could tell, Mahiru was simply staring off into

the distance.

Her face was tilted slightly upward, and though she was always pale, her complexion

appeared downright pallid. If she wasn careful, she was sure to catch a cold, but even

so, Mahiru sat there quietly, not making any move to head home.

If shes content to sit there, it probably isn my place to interfere, Amane thought as he

made his way quickly past the park. He took one last look and could see that Mahirus

face was screwed up as if she might cry.

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