The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten Compete Edition
The Angel\'s Generosity
Asking Mahiru to pick up her portion of the fruit as soon as the package arrived turned
out to be a big mistake. When Amane heard the sound of the intercom and the highpitched, mischievous voice that called ”Aaa-maaa-neee! ” through it, he understood
that he was in trouble.
Amane had been very grateful for Mahirus proposal to make lunch for him on Saturday.
It had seemed a veritable blessing from heaven at the time. Truly, the carbonara shed
whipped up had been delicious. The thick-bodied sauce and the kick of black pepper
were a perfect match, and itd been tremendously tasty.
Mahiru hadn done anything wrong. Those at fault were Amane himself for failing to
recognize in advance what his mother had meant by telling him to be home on
Saturday for the delivery and that irksome, surprise-loving woman herself.
”…Um, Fujimiya? Is that the delivery…? ” Mahiru asked.
”Nope. That would be my mother. Shes probably using her duplicate key to get
through the front door and is heading up right now, ” Amane explained. Thinking back
on it, it had been his own mistake to take what his mother had said at face value. One
way or another, she always created situations that allowed her to come by and check
in on him. Amanes mother could never resist employing a little misdirection.
”…Uh, your mother? ”
”She probably came to see whether Im getting along okay… and she didn tell me she
was coming. Probably because she knew I would clean up in advance. ”
”I know its all a bit hard to swallow, but that doesn matter right now. ”
Right now, the problem was what to do with Mahiru. If Amanes mother had still been
in the lobby downstairs, he could have sent Mahiru home, but that was out of the
question now that she was approaching his door. At the same time, his mother was
sure to get the wrong idea if he invited her into his apartment and she came across
Mahiru. There was no doubting that Mahiru would hate that as much as Amane would.
The longer Amane puzzled over what to do, the closer his mother was getting to just
barging right in.
I can believe this is happening… Amane did have an idea, but he didn like it.
”…Im sorry, Shiina, but could you please hide in my bedroom? ”
”Huh, wh-what? ”
”Take your stuff with you, and once I find some way to get my mom outside, you can
go back home. Im really sorry, but please? ”
With no other viable option, Amane took the helm and steered Mahiru into concealing
herself. Thankfully, theyd already finished cleaning up after lunch, so that wouldn
be a giveaway. If he hid her shoes in the shoe closet, they wouldn be discovered, and
Mahiru could just bring her personal effects into Amanes room.
The plan was to let Amanes mom to make a quick inspection of the apartment while
Mahiru was hiding. Amane would mention to his mother that he really wanted to eat
her home cooking, something thatd probably keep her too busy to push her way into
Whatever it took, Amane had to keep his mother from breaching the bedroom.
He would purposely request that his mother cook something that used an ingredient
he didn have in his refrigerator. If the two of them went out shopping together, that
would provide Mahiru with a window to escape.
Amane hurriedly explained to Mahiru that such a scheme was the only option as he
handed her his extra key and asked her to cooperate with the greatest sincerity he
”O-okay, ” she said, nodding in bewilderment.
In truth, the storage room was also an option, but Amane didn want a girl to wait in
there. It had no heating, which meant it was quite cold this time of year. Amanes
bedroom had a proper heater, as well as soft cushions. It wouldn do to have Mahiru
sitting on a bare floor while she shivered from the cold.
”…All right, Im counting on you. I have to deal with my mom, so… ”
Even before meeting his mother, Amane looked dejected. He headed for the entrance
while Mahiru quietly slipped into the bedroom. After making sure that the angel was
hidden, Amane reluctantly opened the front door.
”My goodness Amane, that took you long enough. Im glad to see you
e looking well. I
was starting to wonder if you were asleep. ”
There was Amanes mother, standing just outside his apartment. He hadn seen her
since summer break.
Although she was a parent, it would have been difficult to tell from her looks alone. It
wasn just that her face looked young, she never acted her age, either. She wore the
same sort of happy expression she often had back when Amane was still living at home.
”Yeah, yeah, Im perfectly fine, so how about heading home? ”
”How can you say that to your own mother? It took me several hours to get here, you
know? Don I even get a thank-you? ”
”Thank you very much for traveling a great distance, now please go home. ”
”Come now, don say such things. Its not very endearing. You should act more like
Shuuto, your father! ”
”Men don need to be endearing, do we? ” While Amane had spat his words acidly, his
mother, Shihoko, didn seem bothered at all, instead breaking into a fit of laughter.
”Youve really hit your rebellious phase!
” she said.
”I hope you
e not planning on
having me stand outside all day. Im coming in, okay? ”
”Wait, nobody said you could— ”
”Have you forgotten that your father and I pay the rent on this place? ”
There was nothing Amane could do to argue or refuse his mother once shed played
that card. Reluctantly, he allowed her to enter.
To keep her from going into the bedroom, Amane casually guided his mother to walk
past the bedroom door and into the living room.
”By the way, you really should tell me beforehand when you plan on visiting, ” said
”Now, I wouldn be able to get a proper picture of my sons living situation if I didn
show up unannounced, would I? ” Shihoko replied.
”Ugh… Look, theres no problem, okay? Im keeping the place clean. ”
”You certainly are; Im surprised. You never kept your room clean at home, but you
doing better than Id expected. Im surprised. ” Shihoko nodded seriously, looking
genuinely astonished as she surveyed the living room.
The unspoken truth was that his place was only clean because Mahiru had helped
Amane tidy up. Her advice and constant scolding was a big part of how his place had
managed to stay clean, too. Really, Mahiru deserved most of the credit, but there was
no way Amane was going to tell his mother that now.
”Your skin looks good, too; you must be eating well, ” Shihoko observed.
”…Yeah, ” Amane admitted, unable to meet his mothers eyes. Even his improved health
was something he owed to the angel.
e even cooking properly, huh. Oh, but it looks like you
e cooking for two? ”
Shihokos manicured finger was pointing at his dish rack. Two people had eaten lunch,
so naturally there were two sets of dishes. Carelessly, Amane had forgotten to put
them away. He shouldve remembered how perceptive his mother could be.
”Yeah, I had a friend over. ” Amanes answer was not quite a lie. Hed spoken as
indifferently as he was able, doing his best to stop himself from shaking. It was fair to
say that he and Mahiru had built up to something resembling a friendship, so it wasn
exactly untrue. There was the small matter of hiding that the friend in question was a
”Hmm, ” Shihoko replied with a tone that suggested she didn really accept that
explanation at face value. She scanned the living room again.
”I suppose you get a passing mark. You
e doing so well, I can hardly believe you
boy living on his own, ” Amanes mother finally conceded.
Somehow, Amane had been able to deceive her, though only just barely. Strangely, he
felt a chill run down his spine, and he was sweating bullets. On the other hand, maybe
he shouldn have been so surprised to have passed his mothers inspection. Mahiru
really had turned some things around for him, after all.
”See, there was nothing for you to worry about, Mom. ”
”I suppose not; though I can hardly believe it. You could barely do anything for yourself
at home. Youve certainly grown up. ”
”…Im basically an adult, ” Amane replied, though inwardly, he scoffed at himself for
having the audacity to say such a thing.
”Good job, ” Shihoko praised, smiling.
It made Amane a little uncomfortable to hear that, since of course he hadn done any
of it on his own. There was no way he could risk telling his mother the truth, however,
so he would have to leave things as they were and try to get her out of there.
Shes pretty much finished her evaluation, right? I wonder if I can get her to leave
without saying anything about wanting to eat her cooking or whatever, Amane thought.
”That just leaves the bedroom check, I suppose, ” Shihoko mused nonchalantly.
Amanes eyes went wide at the drop of that bomb. Mahiru was still in there. If his
mother found a girl hiding in the bedroom, a far greater disaster would ensue than if
Amane had just revealed Mahiru from the get-go.
”Hey, don joke around. Even if you
e my mom, I don want you digging around in my
”Oh? Something in there you
e feeling embarrassed about? ” Shihoko prodded.
”Theres probably one or two embarrassing things in any high school guys room, if
you think about it. ”
”So you admit it? ”
”Yeah, I admit it. Please don go in there. ”
Even though it was shameful, thered been no other choice. Amane had been forced to
go along with his mothers assumption to keep her from entering the bedroom. If she
discovered Mahiru in Amanes room, she would most assuredly get the wrong idea.
For both his own sake and Mahirus, Amane needed to avoid that at all costs.
When Amanes mother saw him blocking the door to his room, desperately trying to
keep her from getting through, she could tell right away that he was hiding something.
Closing in on her son, Shihoko said,
”I suppose you are grown up, if you
e hiding those
sorts of things from your parents. ”
If it came down to it, Amane was prepared to keep his mom out by force if necessary,
though he admittedly didn like that idea. He stood ready to stop her, but then…
Thump. There came a noise from inside the bedroom.
”What are you hiding? ”
”…It has nothing to do with you, Mom. ”
”So you say. ” A wide grin spread across Shihokos face.
It was the kind of coercive smile that could not be denied. Amane became extremely
uncomfortable every time she looked at him like this. It had a way of sapping his
willpower to oppose her.
Amane groaned, and Shihoko saw an opening. She put her hand on the doorknob to
his room, and by the time Amane noticed, it was far too late. Shihoko slipped past
Amane, intent on discovering the source of the noise on the other side of the door.
What met her eyes beyond that barrier that Amane had failed to protect was the figure
of a beautiful girl. She was leaning her back against the side of the bed while hugging
a cushion to her chest. The girls eyes were closed, and her breaths were a gentle
rhythm. Mahiru had dozed off by the time Shihoko discovered her.
A warm room with a heater running and a full stomach after lunch were the perfect
conditions for an afternoon nap. Amane couldn help but wonder whether Mahiru
often slept in boys rooms, but all this really confirmed was that she found Amane to
be harmless enough to doze off in his bedroom.
He couldn exactly blame her for it. Sitting motionless so as not to make any noise had
probably gotten real boring real fast.
The main problem was, obviously, Shihoko, who had arrived at just the wrong moment
to witness a situation she was sure to misunderstand.
Had he been the third party, Amane would have gotten the wrong idea, too. He would
have assumed they were so intimate that Mahiru had no problem drifting off for a nap
in his room.
Grimacing all the while, Amane glanced over at his mother and saw that her eyes were
sparkling. He could only imagine the commotion she was about to raise.
”Oh my, Amane, youve got such an adorable girlfriend! ” Shihoko shrieked in her
youthful voice. ”This isn the kind of girl you can just hide away in a corner, you know! ”
Amane felt a headache coming on.
She had immediately jumped to possibly the worst conclusion available, and to make
matters worse, she was clearly very excited about the idea that her son was dating
such a lovely girl. There was no doubt that even Amanes mother was smitten with
Mahiru looked so vulnerable when she was asleep. The practiced air of elegant
refinement that she always wore like a mask had melted away, revealing the full
captivating nature of her looks. Her cute face had never looked more peaceful—or
Amane had grown somewhat accustomed to Mahirus appearance, but seeing her like
this, he was once again struck by her incredible charm. Her cherubic face held such an
innocent serenity. Once again, he felt the urge to reach out and touch her. Her sleeping
figure, hugging Amanes cushion tight, awakened many desires in him that were best
This truly captivating girl was Amanes girlfriend, or so his mother thought. It was no
wonder she was excited.
”I suppose the reason you didn want your mother looking in this room is because
your girlfriend is here? Look at you, growing up right before my eyes. ”
”Thats not it! Youve got it all wrong! Shes not my girlfriend or anything! ”
”Come now, you don have to make excuses! Your mother has no intention of opposing
your relationship, Amane. ”
”No, Im telling you, thats not the issue here! We
e not in a romantic relationship!
Youve got it totally wrong! ”
”Well, whether Im right or wrong, shes in your bedroom right now, isn she? ”
”Thats because you showed up all of the sudden! We were just hanging out in the
living room, but I knew you would misunderstand! ”
”You see, the problem with that excuse is that you would never let a girl you don like
into your apartment. And I really don think a girl would just waltz right on into the
apartment of someone she didn like, would she? ”
Amane struggled to find a way to argue the issue. His mother was right; Amane was
awfully territorial about his living spaces and wasn inclined to let just anyone into
The first time Mahiru had come in, shed practically forced her way, but ever since
then, hed welcomed her over, even when she wasn coming to cook for him.
I guess that means I really do like her.
As far as Amane was concerned, he was sure he liked Mahiru for her personality, not
her appearance. He enjoyed that seemingly contradictory part to her. There was a
biting and honest side of her that she didn show at school, and yet she found it hard
to be open about her feelings. He liked her curt and annoyingly helpful attitude and
the reserved way she conducted herself. When she was taken by surprise, she would
get flustered, and the mask would drop momentarily, which was another thing he
enjoyed. Most of all, Amane especially liked that rare angelic smile that hed only seen
cross her face a few times. He supposed that each of those attributes were all precious
parts of Mahirus appeal.
If he had to say whether that was a feeling of romantic love, Amane would have
insisted that it was something else, but he couldn deny that Mahiru was a wonderful
girl for many reasons.
”I care about her as a friend. Not every relationship between members of the opposite
sex has to be romantic, you know. And Im pretty sure she doesn feel that way, either. ”
Amane was not the kind of mamas boy who would obediently play along with
whatever Shihoko said. Plus, Mahiru would certainly object to the suggestion that she
had feelings for him.
”Now, you don know that, Amane! Aren you being rather presumptuous, thinking
you know exactly what her heart wants? ”
”What can I say to get you to understand that our relationship is not like that, Mom…?
Shiina, please, help me out here… ”
No matter how he tried to explain, Amanes mother had already made up her mind.
Amane pressed a finger to his forehead, stumped on what to do. With all possible
urgency, he wished Mahiru would just wake up.
Either Amanes unspoken prayer had been heard or all the ruckus had, because
Mahirus eyelids fluttered open, and she made a sweet noise as she raised her face.
Her flaxen hair slipped over her shoulders. The girls shining eyes, the color of caramel,
were blurry with sleep, and she looked so vulnerable that it felt somehow wrong to
look directly at her.
Maybe she wasn quite fully awake yet as she looked up at Amane vacantly, her eyes
still relaxed and drowsy. Amane pointedly stared in another direction.
”Shiina, I don mind that you fell asleep, but theres been a misunderstanding, so
please help me clear things up. ”
”Hey, hey, Miss Girlfriend, whats your name? ”
Mahiru was still clearly confused over what had happened, but Shihoko didn hesitate
to approach her, beaming with an amiable, carefree smile and an overly familiar
Mahiru was visibly flustered, still trying to get her bearings.
”Huh, uh, um… ”
”Its important to tell each other our names when we first meet, you know! ”
”Ah, I-Im Mahiru Shiina… ”
”Oh, Mahiru, what a cute name that is! I am Shihoko; please don be shy and call me
by my first name, okay? ”
Mahiru had reflexively given her name when pressed for it. She looked up at Amane,
her eyes begging him for rescue. Unfortunately, Amane was helpless. He had been
hoping Mahiru would save him somehow. Regretfully, he shook his head. He knew that
once his mother got started, there was really no stopping her. She was set on learning
more about Mahiru, and nothing would dissuade her now. It was unlikely shed ever
realize just how uncomfortable she was making the poor girl.
”A-all right, um… Mrs., that is, uh, Shihoko… ”
”See? That sounds more like my daughter-in-law. ”
”That could be referring to either of us, you know? Right, Amane?
e bothering Shiina. ”
”Amane, you mustn be so formal with your sweet new girlfriend; call her by her first
Shihoko didn seem inclined to listen to anything anyone said. Amane scowled at her,
but she didn show any sign of letting up. Her smile was wide and utterly shameless.
”Uh, um, Shihoko? ”
”Yes, dear? ”
”He and I— ”
”Why, I don know who you mean. He who? ”
”…A-Amane and I; we aren dating. ”
Even though she was obviously flustered by his mothers verbal assault, Mahiru tried
her best to set the record straight. Unfortunately, shed looked right at Amane and had
even been forced to call him by his first name, which was apparently exactly what
Shihoko had been after. The older womans smile grew even wider.
”Well, I suppose it takes time for things like this to blossom. Something to look forward
to, ” Shihoko said, quite presumptuously.
”Eh, ah, um, thats not…, ” Mahiru said, trying to object.
”Oh no, I must have intruded just when things were getting good! ”
”U-um, I want you to let me explain properly! I don have that kind of relationship
with… Amane. We were just having lunch together because Amane can cook! ”
”What a wonderful bride youll make, sweetie. My Amane set out to live on his own
even though hes incapable of doing any kind of housework, you see. So I really do
appreciate you supporting him. ”
”No, uh— ”
Mahiru had put up a heroic effort, but she may as well have been banging her head
against a wall at this point. The moment shed mentioned visiting Amanes place,
cooking there, and sitting at the same table as him, the sparkle in Shihokos eyes had
changed. The pushy mother somehow looked even more unhinged than usual to
Once Shihoko got like this, he knew there was nothing he could do to stop her. The
only person who ever stood a chance was his father, Shuuto.
”Shiina, just give up. My mother won listen to anyone when she gets like this. ”
”You can be serious… ” Mahiru sounded extremely dismayed.
Amane realized that they weren getting anywhere. Trying to explain the situation
wasn working, and he clearly couldn stop his mothers wild speculations.
”At any rate, my Amane did quite well to snag such a beauty. Im surprised. ”
With Amane exhausted from arguing, and Mahiru having no clear idea what to do,
both simply went quiet.
It was possible Amanes mother took their sudden silence as a sign of agreement,
though Shihoko had doubtlessly already assumed that their embarrassment was proof
enough of her suspicions. She was looking at Mahiru with no attempt to hide the wild
curiosity in her eyes.
”What do you think, Mahiru? Can my Amane really make it, living on his own? ”
”Uh… Thats… Well…, ” Mahiru stammered. ”…Enough to stay alive… ”
”You shouldve just said Ill be fine! ” Amane interjected.
”I remember the place being pretty bad, ” Mahiru reminded him.
”Don bring that up. Im keeping it clean now, aren I? ”
”And Ive been helping you with the cleaning this whole time, haven I? ”
”Thats true, and Im grateful for it, ” Amane admitted. ”All of it, truly—the food, the
cleaning, and everything else. ” Mahiru was inarguably the reason that hed been able
to live so comfortably, and he would bow down in thanks to her without any hesitation.
He knew that she wouldn have done so much if shed hated it, but he always strove
to make his appreciate known.
As shouldve been expected by now, Amanes mother interpreted the exchange in a
”Well now, Amane, so it wasn just todays lunch! Mahirus been doing everything for
you this whole time, you useless child. The way you speak to each other—its like
e already living together! ”
”No! How did you even reach that conclusion?! We only live next to each other! ” Amane
”Aha, so it was fate! Isn that wonderful, Amane. You got me such a beautiful daughterin-law. ”
”Im not denying that shes beautiful and talented, but Im totally against calling it fate
or destiny or whatever! ”
”Doesn it sound more romantic that way? ”
”Thats not what Im bothered by! Im telling you we don have a romantic relationship
at all! ”
”How persistent. ” Clearly, Shihoko was choosing to believe that Amane was still too
embarrassed to admit the truth.
Amanes face contorted into a progressively deeper grimace, and he heaved his
heaviest sigh of the last few months. He couldn recall how many times hed suffered
at the hands of his mothers wild imagination. Shihoko was really the kind of woman
who just did whatever she wanted.
As for Mahiru, the one whod been caught unawares by the full weight of Shihokos
overwhelming enthusiasm, she could do little else than look helplessly back and forth
between Amane and his mother, utterly bewildered.
”Mahiru, this is probably a parents love talking, but my Amane isn very good with
words, and he isn very up-front about his feelings, but he is faithful and gentlemanly.
Id say hes a pretty good catch. Plus, he doesn have any experience with girls, so
youll be able to get him to do whatever you want. ”
”What on earth are you saying, Mom? Seriously, cut it out. ”
That last bit especially is none of her business, Amane thought angrily.
”I mean, its true, isn it? If not, then why haven you had any other girlfriends? You
resemble your father, so I don think its your looks. Maybe its because you
e a little
”Its n-none of your business. ”
”You really should try harder to act cool in front of Mahiru, you know. ”
”I will not, and shes not interested, either, ” Amane protested.
”Oh, come now! Sweetie, you can train him to suit your own preferences, you know.
Amane cleans up pretty good if you dress him up. ”
Shihoko, grinning madly, struck poor Mahiru again, who could do nothing but offer a
vague sort of smile in return. Not even an angel could retaliate in a battle like this.
Amanes mother was truly something else.
e bothering her. Please go home. ”
”What a big man youve become, telling your mother to go home. ”
”Im serious, please. Its really obvious that you
e making her uncomfortable. ”
”Oh? Is that true, Mahiru? ”
”Don ask her; shell definitely just say what you want to hear. Just this once, please
head back. You can come back some other time. ”
”Well, if you
e going that far, I suppose I get the message. I did barge in while you were
alone with your girlfriend, after all. Its only natural youd be upset to lose your alone
”Fine, you can explain it however you like. Just hurry up and go! ”
Amane was beyond tired of arguing with his mother, and this whole situation had to
be taking a toll on Mahiru as well. He looked over and saw that she also looked
Vowing internally to shower her with appreciation later, Amane shooed his mother
away and got a look of sour disapproval in return. Even so, Shihoko didn make an
effort to stay, so at least she kind of cared, though it was obvious her view of reality
was still quite different.
”Ah, Mahiru, lets exchange contact information, shall we? I want a full report later on
how Amanes doing, among other things. ”
”Uh, o-okay…? ”
In a last-ditch effort, Shihoko tried to sink her hooks in again. Caught in the womans
powerful momentum, Mahiru wound up exchanging contact information with her.
Now Amanes mother would be able to reach her directly. The thought made Amane
want to press a hand to his forehead.
Beaming wide, Shihoko gripped Mahirus hand and reminded the girl to look after her
son. Amane resolved to send his father a message later, asking him to rein Shihoko in.
”Im exhausted… ”
”Sorry; shes like a hurricane. ”
Shihoko hadn stayed all that long, but shed left the two completely ragged.
After flumping down on the couch, Amane put his head in his hands and sighed deeply.
Mahiru gingerly took a seat, too, but her usually perfect posture was bent and haggard.
Amane had thought that the angel could handle anyone, but even she had no energy
left after the encounter with his mother. He was unsure if he should try to apologize.
”I really didn want to let her go home still believing the wrong thing, ” Amane admitted.
”Well, theres no real harm done…, ” Mahiru said.
”No, I think there is… If she was acting like that, it probably means that shes taken a
liking to you… One way or another, shes gonna be an issue… ”
It was truly unfortunate that this was going to put a burden on Mahiru. Shihokos love
for all things adorable, coupled with her mistaking Mahiru for her sons girlfriend,
almost certainly meant that Amanes mother would be finding new ways to poke her
nose where it didn belong in the days to come. Trouble was on the horizon.
”Shihoko really cares about you a lot, doesn she? ”
”Thats a nice way to put it, but sometimes she really just refuses to listen… ”
More than just an overly affectionate parent, Shihoko doted and fawned on Amane
even though he hated it. He knew he shouldn complain too much, since it was
probably at least partly his own fault because he was such hopeless slob. It wasn as
though he was ungrateful for all his mother had provided, but she could be a real pain
in the butt, and he wished shed give him more space.
”…How nice, ” Mahiru mumbled quietly.
Amane looked up at her. ”What is? ”
”Your mother is quite a character but also very kind. ”
”That means shes loud and loves to meddle. ”
”…Even so, I think its nice. ”
Mahirus words weren an empty compliment; she really did seem envious as she
mumbled and averted her eyes.
A gloomy expression was plain on the girls face. So much so that Amane thought she
might break down into tears at the drop of a hat. Anyone could have sensed how fragile
she was right now. It was clearly more than simple exhaustion.
Mahiru must have noticed Amane looking at her, because she suddenly looked up and
forced her lips into a small smile. Then, just as quickly, she regained her usual
composure and leaned back against the sofa, something she rarely did.
”Mahiru, huh? ”
”…What are you saying all of a sudden? ”
”Nothing… I was just thinking that its been a while since anyone called me by my first
name. Most people only address me by my family name. ”
It was pretty surprising to know that someone who seemed as popular as Mahiru
didn actually have any friends close enough to call her by her first name. Everyone at
school saw her as a flawless angel. Even Mahirus acquaintances probably maintained
some degree of formality with her, and nobody had the courage to really get to know
her. A lot of students only ever addressed her by a nickname that Mahiru herself didn
”Well, I guess if you don have any close friends, that would leave only your parents,
right? ” Amane asked.
”My parents would never talk to me that way. Absolutely not. ” Mahirus reply was cold.
Looking her over, Amane saw that Mahirus face was an expressionless mask. She
resembled a beautiful doll, completely devoid of feeling. That, too, only lasted a
second, however, and Mahirus visage changed again when she noticed that Amane
was looking at her. Her eyebrows lowered, as if she was troubled by something.
”…Anyway, it doesn happen often, ” she muttered, before letting out a sigh.
Amane had been wondering for a while if Mahiru had a bad relationship with her
parents. It had been easy enough to imagine that she had problems at home from her
frosty demeanor whenever he touched on the subject. Plus, she never went out to eat
with her parents and hated her own birthdays, but Amane never wouldve thought
Mahirus parents were so distant as to not even call the girl by her first name.
Thinking back to how Mahiru had quietly said she enjoyed Shihokos personality,
Amane wondered how the angel must have felt in that moment.
”Mahiru. ” Rather suddenly, Amane blurted out the word. Hed never called his
neighbor by her first name before. The girl in question blinked her caramel eyes. She
looked stunned, and Amane could tell that hed caught her off guard. The momentary
surprise had revealed a youthfulness about Mahiru that she normally kept hidden.
”Its your name. Someone ought to call you by it, ” Amane reasoned.
”…I suppose you
e right, ” Mahiru answered bluntly. A few moments later, a tiny smile
appeared. Amanes chest felt fluttery when he spotted it.
When he heard her small voice pronounce his own first name, the flutter turned to a
storm. Maybe it was because, until just a moment ago, his mom was the one calling
him by his first name, but when Mahiru called him by his first name face-to-face, he
felt the uneasy, impatient stirring in his chest churn and roar.
”Please don call me that outside, okay? ” Mahiru reminded.
”…I already wasn planning to. That goes for you, too. Don slip up outside the
”Understood. Its our secret, right? ”
Amane couldn bring himself to look directly at Mahiru, as she was still grinning a
little. Looking away, he responded in agreement and shifted in his seat, turning away
to escape the angels smile.
Though Shihokos Saturday invasion had been a nightmare, nothing much had
changed aside from how Amane and Mahiru referred to each other.
They hadn suddenly become any closer. Addressing each other a little more directly
wasn a big deal. At most, perhaps Mahirus demeanor had softened a little, but that
”…Um, Amane? ”
Mahiru had come over earlier than usual for dinner on Sunday, perhaps feeling a little
uneasy, because she looked troubled.
Amane was glad to let her in, but he was confused by her peculiar attitude. Hed
thought that maybe using their first names didn sit right with her after all, but when
the time had come, shed said his name without hesitation, so there must have been
something else bothering her.
For the time being, they sat on the sofa together, and as he waited to see what Mahiru
would do, she pulled a handkerchief from her skirt pocket.
As Amane continued to wonder what was up, Mahiru opened the neatly folded
handkerchief to reveal a tarnished silver key. It must have been the one hed given her
the day before.
”Im returning your spare key. In the end, I never got the chance to use it, and then I
forgot to give it back. Im very sorry about that. ”
”I see. ”
Apparently, Mahiru hadn been able to rest until shed returned the key. Satisfied that
he understood the cause for her strange behavior, Amane stared at the bit of metal
resting on the handkerchief.
Now that he thought about it, Mahiru came over to fix dinner in his apartment almost
every night. Usually, he met her at the door, but sometimes it took him a while. Thered
even been times where Mahiru had been forced to wait because he wasn home. It
must have been inconvenient for her to have to wait outside for him, especially during
these colder months. Somewhere, Amane had heard that chilly weather was a girls
worst enemy, and now that he thought about it, he wouldn have been too happy
waiting in the cold, either, had the situation been reversed.
Since Mahiru was basically coming over every day, he wondered if it wouldn be easier
for her to have a key to get in.
”Thats fine; I think you should keep it, ” he said.
”You can give it back to me whenever we stop spending time together. ”
It seemed perfectly reasonable to Amane. Now that Mahiru had the key, she might as
well keep it—but she didn seem convinced.
”I mean, going to the door every time you come over is a hassle. ”
”Ah, so thats what this is about. ”
”I doubt you
e going to misuse it or anything. ”
”Well, thats true, but… ”
Amane had been sharing meals with Mahiru for more than a month now, and he
figured that he knew her pretty well. She was sensible, considerate, and kind. He was
certain that she would never hand the key over to anyone else or do anything while
Amane wasn around. If there was anyone he could trust, it was Mahiru.
”Besides, you must think its a pain to have to ring the buzzer and wait out there all
the time, ” Amane said.
”Even if it is, I feel like you
e being a bit careless. ”
”But Im giving it to you because I trust you. ”
At that, Mahirus eyes went wide, and she floundered for words. Confusion, along with
something else that Amane didn really understand, passed over the girls delicate
The truth of it was that Amane had only wanted her to have the key to save himself
some trouble, but if she really hated the idea, he was prepared to back down.
As for Mahiru, she looked intently back and forth between Amane and the key for a
few moments, then finally let out a gentle sigh.
”…Understood. Ill hold on to it. ”
”You know, Im never sure if something is a big deal to you, or if you even care at all,
Amane, ” Mahiru jabbed with a slightly prickly tone. She sounded fed up, and Amane
couldn do anything but smile wryly.
”Suits me well, don you think? ”
”You shouldn say things like that about yourself, ” Mahiru admonished.
Amanes smile grew wider. Mahiru seemed to be growing more comfortable with this
kind of silly back-and-forth. They were now on a first-name basis, of course. It
wouldve been strange if they hadn built up some kind of rapport. While Mahirus
eyes were still full of exasperation, as if to say that Amane was really a hopeless case,
her gaze wasn cold. In fact, there was a noticeable bit of warmth to it. She understood
that Amane was just joking around.
”All right then, I won hesitate to use this. I might even do something to your
apartment without telling you. ”
”Like what? ”
”…Like… a surprise cleaning! ”
”I would be grateful for that. ”
”…Or how about if your fridge was suddenly packed full of food? ”
”Itd make breakfast easier, and wed have more options for dinner, too. ”
Mahirus idea of a prank clearly needed some work. Amane wouldve been glad to
suffer under any one of her suggestions. That she couldn come up with a real threat
even when she truly tried only reminded Amane of Mahirus gentle nature. It was quite
charming and brought a smile to his lips.
”Are you sure you
e not making fun of me? ” Mahiru looked like she ready to pout,
which wouldve been cute in its own right, but Amane didn want to upset Mahiru any
Suppressing the grin that threatened to break out, Amane said, ”Course not. ”
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