The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten Compete Edition

The Angel\'s Injury and a Show of Gratitude

As Amane had anticipated, he and Mahiru had returned to being nothing more than

two people who attended the same school.

Hed been feeling much better the following day and had happened to run into Mahiru

when he went out to shop at the convenience store, but they hadn said very much to

each other. Amane did catch that Mahiru looked a little relieved to see him well on his

way to recovery.

Nothing changed back at school on the following Monday, either. The two were back

to being strangers. The only tiny difference was that now, whenever they encountered

each other on the way to school, she would greet him with a quick bow. That was all.

”Oh, Amane, you feeling better? ”

”Im good, thanks. ”

It seemed that Itsuki had also been worried about Amane. Hed been in rather bad

shape last Friday, after all. Amanes condition had been the first thing Itsuki asked

about when they saw each other outside the school building. Itsuki had even sent

Amane a text over the weekend: ”You
e not dead, right? ”

Amane had sent back a message that he was fine, but it seemed Itsuki had only been

half-convinced, because he let out a deep sigh of relief when he saw in person how

much better his friend was feeling.

”Yeah, well, when I saw you in such bad shape, even I started to worry, man! Its all

good if you
e better now. You oughtta take better care of yourself. Start by cleaning

your room or somethin. ”

”You sound like somebody else I know, ” Amane quipped.

”Huh? ”

”Nothing. Something happened this weekend that kind of opened my eyes. Ill clean

my place up in a few days. ”

Itsuki didn let up. ”Nah, man, you gotta sort yourself out now! ”

Amane turned away in a huff. It would probably take more than half a day to clean that

mess up.

Looking exasperated, Itsuki backed off a bit, saying, ”I mean, you can live however you

want, ya know. But just clear a path you can actually walk through for the next time I

come over. ”

”…Ill deal with it. ”

Wearing a sour face the whole time, Amane changed into his indoor shoes and headed

for his classroom. An extremely boisterous room caught his attention as he walked

down a hall, however, and he couldn help but peek in.

Glancing in through a hallway window, Amane saw Mahiru, as beautiful as shed ever

been, surrounded by her classmates.

Whenever someone spoke to her, she would turn to them with a quiet smile. Everything

about her persona seemed totally different from the Mahiru hed seen the other day.

Amane suddenly broke out in a smile.

Noticing his friends gaze, Itsukis eyes followed the same path. He saw Mahiru and

immediately understood.

”Shiina, huh? As popular as always. No surprise, given how pretty she is. ”

”Well, you know what they say. Shes an angel. What about you, Itsuki? Think shes

cute? ” Amane asked.

”Yeah, I guess so. But Ive got Chi, so only in a sorta aesthetic-appreciation-type way, ”

Itsuki replied.

”Quit going on about your girlfriend already. ”

Itsuki had a girlfriend named Chi, although that was a nickname. Her full name was

Chitose Shirakawa.

They were an extremely close couple, madly in love with each other—it gave Amane

heartburn whenever he saw them together.

Although Amane was quick to dismiss the girlfriend talk, Itsuki didn seem particularly

offended. Amane often said things like that, so Itsuki just laughed. ”You
e heartless.

So lemme ask you: Do you think shes cute, Amane? ”

”Shes definitely beautiful, but thats all, ” answered Amane.

”How bland, ” Itsuki commented.

”Shes like a flower on a high peak that my hand could never reach. Ive got nothing to

do with her. Looking is enough. ”

”Fair. ”

Some quirk of fate may have brought Mahiru and Amane together that other day, but

they were truly destined to live in different worlds.

The idea that Amane, a self-admitted hopeless loser, and Mahiru, the beautiful superstudent who could do anything, might one day have any kind of relationship, let alone

a romantic one, was frankly ridiculous. It was a veritable impossibility.

Thats right, Amane thought. Theres no need to concern myself with her any further.

”…What are you eating? ”

The theory that the two would never interact again was quickly disproven. Amane was

sucking down some nutritional jelly on his veranda while gazing up at the sky when

Mahiru called to him.

Itd been too much of a bother to even go to the convenience store, so he was

contenting himself with the pouch of jelly he had at home while getting some air when

Mahiru unexpectedly came out onto her own veranda.

She leaned over her railing slightly, looked at the nutritional jelly pouch that was in

Amanes mouth, and frowned.

For a moment, Amane was frozen; hed thought she was done with him.

”Can you see? Its a ten-second energy-replenishment jelly, ” he finally answered.

”…Don tell me thats what you
e calling dinner? ” Mahiru asked, incredulous.

”Of course it is. ”

”Thats all you
e eating? A high school boy, with a healthy appetite? ”

”Thats none of your business. ”

Normally, Amane wouldve eaten a boxed meal from the convenience store or something

premade from the supermarket, but today, hed neglected to pick something up for

dinner, and he didn feel like instant ramen, so this was all he had. It probably

wouldn be enough, though, so he planned on having a snack later, too.

”…I guess I don need to ask whether you can cook for yourself. It definitely doesn

seem like you can, at least. And yet you
e living on your own, even though you can

cook or clean… ” Mahirus observation was brutally honest.

”Shut up. Thats none of your business, ” Amane fired back, though he knew he couldn

argue with the truth. He frowned and finished off the remainder of his jelly.

Hed wised up about cleaning his place a couple days ago and was definitely planning

to do something about it sometime soon. Ruminating on Mahirus scolding only

seemed to make Amane want to do it less, however. It also made him wonder why she

was making such a fuss over him in the first place.

Mahiru just stared at Amane, then let out a soft sigh. ”…Wait here, ” she instructed

before disappearing back into her own apartment.

”What now? ” Amane grumbled as he listened to the clatter of the glass door closing

behind her.

Hed been told to wait, but he didn know what for. Turning a puzzled gaze toward

Mahirus apartment, Amane stood there obediently, but there was no immediate


Its starting to get chilly out here; Id like to go inside, but…

Hed been told to stay put, so that was what hed do. The autumn evening was colder

than expected, and Amanes loosely fitting, casual clothes did little to help him stay


As Amane waited, watching his deep breaths come out white in the cold, he heard the

electronic bell chime from his front door, announcing a visitor. It was pretty obvious

who it was.

Truly puzzled, Amane made his way toward the front door, dodging scattered clothes

and magazines on the floor.

He knew who it was without even looking through the peephole, so he slid his feet into

a pair of slippers, took the chain off the door, and opened it. As expected, he came faceto-face with waves of sandy-blond hair.

”…What are you doing? ” Amane asked.

”I couldn stand how badly you were neglecting your health. These are just some

leftovers I had, but please take them, ” Mahiru stated plainly as she abruptly stuck a

hand out in front of her. In her delicate palm, somewhat smaller than Amanes own,

was a plastic container. He could vaguely see some sort of stewed dish through the

semi-transparent lid. He couldn tell exactly what it was, however, as the container

had filled with steam from the warmth of the food.

Mahiru seemed to understand the confused look in Amanes eyes as he stood there

blinking. She let out a deep sigh. ”You
e not eating properly. Nutritional supplements

are just that—supplements. You can live on them alone. ”

”What are you, my mom? ” Amane jeered.

”I believe what I said is common sense. Also, shouldn you have tidied up your room

by now? There still isn any room to walk. ”

Mahiru narrowed her eyes in obvious disappointment as she looked past Amane at

the room beyond, and Amanes words stalled in his throat.

”…I have, a little. ”

”No, you haven . Normally, people don drop their clothes on the floor. ”

”Those just… fell there. ”

”That wouldn happen if you washed, dried, folded, and put them away properly. Also,

you should bundle up your magazines after you
e done reading them. That way you

won slip on one and fall. ”

It wasn that he couldn sense the small barbs in her words, but he also understood

that Mahiru was, for some reason, genuinely concerned for him, so he couldn dismiss

everything she was saying. After all, the clutter of magazines had almost tripped the

both of them up just the other night. She had a point.

Amane had no rebuttal. He screwed up his face, squeezed his mouth shut tight, and

sullenly took the container from Mahirus hand.

The food suffused his palm with a welcome warmth, especially after all the time spent

standing on his chilly veranda.

”So I can eat this? ” Amane asked.

”If you don need it, I can throw it out, ” Mahiru answered flatly.

”No, Im grateful for it. I don usually get to eat an angels home cooking. ”

”…Stop calling me that, seriously. ”

Using her school nickname was a kind of petty, needling revenge for her critical

comments. Her feelings about the moniker were written clearly across her pale cheeks

as they turned red.

There was no doubt about it—she hated being called an angel. Were he in the same

position, Amane was certain he would hate it, too. That hardly needed to be said.

Despite understanding Mahirus stance, Amane couldn help but smile when he saw

her looking up at him with flushed cheeks and tiny, bitter tears forming.

”Im not going to say Im sorry, ” he declared.

It was clear that any further teasing would be certain to wreck what little goodwill she

had left for him, so Amane figured it was prudent to give it a rest.

e not even that close.

Mahiru also seemed not to want to hear any more, and she emphasized this by clearing

her throat forcefully as she pulled herself together.

Her cheeks were still tinged with red, though, so she didn look like much had changed.

”Well, thank you for this. Though, you don really need to worry about what happened

before, ” Amane said.

”I don . I considered that debt settled. This is for my own self-satisfaction… I saw that

you weren taking care of yourself, and I was concerned; thats all. ”

Of course. Mahiru pitied him; that was it. There was no way to hide—shed gotten a

very good look at how he lived the other night. Even now, she could see the garbage

piled up in the hallway behind him.

”You need to at least start eating proper meals and… get your life together! ” she


”Yes, Mom, ” Amane answered sarcastically. He was getting a little tired of listening to

Mahirus nagging.

Amane churlishly carried the meal Mahiru had brought him back into his apartment.

He grabbed a pair of disposable chopsticks hed gotten at the supermarket and sat

down on his living room couch, eager to sample the flavors of her cooking.

He remembered enjoying the rice porridge that shed brought him before, even though

his sense of taste had been dulled by sickness. The slow-cooked porridge had

possessed a rich, comforting taste that had been gentle on his stomach. If that was any

indication, Mahirus cooking was undoubtedly quite good, but now it was time to find

out for sure.

As he hastily opened the lid of the container, the savory scent of stew drifted gently up

at him. Various root vegetables had been cooked together with some chicken. The

light-colored sauce underscored the vibrant hues of carrots and green beans, all of

which had been cut into bite-size pieces.

Amanes stomach growled, reminding him that the only thing hed had to eat was some

nutritional jelly. He hastily snapped his disposable chopsticks apart and brought a

piece of daikon radish to his mouth.

”Yum. ”

Amanes mouth was greeted with a complex flavor.

Typical of the health-conscious Mahiru, the dish was only lightly seasoned, spiced

mostly with dashi stock. It was immediately obvious that she hadn used storebought, granulated dashi. Instead, shed made it herself using with dried bonito fish

and kombu seaweed. The difference in taste was night and day.

As he chewed it thoroughly, the flavor of the dashi and the other seasonings, as well

as the taste of the vegetables, spread gently through his mouth. Amane had never been

a fan of veggies. He usually went out of his way to avoid them, but in this dish, the

essence of each ingredient came together in perfect harmony, and Amane happily

savored them all.

There wasn much chicken. Perhaps Mahiru had done that on purpose as if to tell him

to eat more vegetables. What little meat there was had been cooked plump and juicy.

There was nothing to complain about there, Amane thought, aside from the quantity.

For something made by a high school girl, the ingredients were a little plain, but her

skill more than made up for it. That Amane so readily enjoyed the food was enough of

a testament to that fact.

It would have been even better with some rice, and maybe some miso soup or clear

broth on the side, but Amane didn have any prepared. He was all out of rice anyway,

so that modest wish was not destined to be granted that night. It was too late now, but

he regretted not buying any instant rice packets beforehand.

”That angels amazing, ” Amane said to himself as he devoured the perfectly seasoned

vegetables, chopsticks never slowing for a second.

To think, shes great at school, and sports, and all kinds of housework.

If Mahiru had been there to hear Amanes praise, she would have hated it.

”Heres this back. The food was good. ”

The following evening, Amane carried the borrowed container over to Mahirus


The boy was certainly bad at housework, but not so bad that he couldn wash

something before giving it back. In his hand, he held the carefully cleaned little box,

knowing that it was good manners to return it only after it had been thoroughly

washed and dried.

Mahiru had appeared the moment Amane rang the doorbell without even checking to

see who it was, as if shed been expecting him.

She was wearing a wine-colored knit dress, and when she saw her visitor, her eyes

narrowed gently. She quickly checked the container and said, ”You washed it and

everything, huh? Look at you. ”

Amane frowned slightly when she praised him like a little child.

”Well, thank you for taking the time, ” Mahiru continued. ”Now take this. ” She pressed

a new, warm container into Amanes hand.

From what he could tell, there was saute ed pork and eggplant inside. It seemed to have

cooled enough that the lid hadn fogged up, for Amane could clearly spy the color of

eggplant, grilled pork, and sprinkled sesame seeds through the clear top. From the

color, he guessed the sauce was probably miso flavor. The sight of the eggplant with

slight scorch marks and the lustrous pork definitely roused his appetite.

No one would deny that it looked delicious, but Amane couldn understand why hed

been handed dinner again.

”No, um, I just came to return the container, ” he tried to explain.

”This is todays dinner, ” Mahiru answered coolly.

”Yeah, I get that, but… ”

”I just want to ask: You don have any allergies, do you? Don get the wrong idea,

though. I won be catering to your tastes or anything. ”

”I don , but… I mean, I can accept your food again. ”

Taking a portion of the girls dinner for the second time in a row seemed wrong to

Amane. His malnourished body was grateful for the food, and Mahiru was clearly a

much better cook than other girls her age, and the meal he was holding was sure to be

delicious, but it also held no small amount of danger.

If someone from school saw the two of them meeting like this, it could turn into a big

debacle. That would be the end of Amanes quiet student life for sure.

These apartments were meant for single occupancy, but the rent was pretty high

because of the buildings location and the amenities. Amane had never seen another

student from their school in the building—except Mahiru, of course—so he was

probably worrying over nothing. Even with that mild consolation, his brief meetings

with the angel still made him wary.

”I made too much, so Im just happy to be rid of it, ” Mahiru explained.

”…In that case, Im happy to take it. But someone might get the wrong idea, since

people usually do this sort of thing for someone they like…, ” Amane said sheepishly.

”And do you have the wrong idea? ”

”Uh, I guess not. ”

One look at Mahirus expression was enough to clear up any misconceptions about her

feelings toward Amane.

There was no way that a beautiful, talented girl like Mahiru could possibly fall for an

oblivious slob like Amane. Sure, a cute next-door neighbor bringing him food seemed

like something out of a romantic comedy, but there was no romance here—and

certainly no comedy. The situation was as devoid of those elements as Amanes own

apartment was devoid of rice.

What kindness existed in the angels barbed words had been born only from pity.

”Well then, theres no problem, is there? And anyway, it looks like you were surviving

on convenience-store meals and side dishes from the supermarket, ” stated Mahiru.

”How could you tell? ” Amane asked.

”Its not hard to see that your kitchen has barely been used, and you have a ton of

disposable chopsticks from the convenience store and the supermarket on your desk.

Besides, I can tell just by looking at you. Youve got an unhealthy complexion. ”

Amanes expression froze. Mahiru had gotten all that just from one visit to his

apartment. Everything shed said had been spot-on; he had no room to argue.

”…All right, Ill be going. ”

Mahiru bowed and went back inside her apartment, having said what shed wanted to

say and given him what shed wanted to give.

Amane looked at the container in his hands as he listened to the jangling sound of the

chain on the other side of Mahirus front door slide into place. The heat from the food

was beginning to warm the palms of his hands. He let out a soft sigh and returned to

his place.

As expected, the stir-fried sesame miso eggplant and pork was delicious. Amane found

himself wishing even more than yesterday that hed bought some rice.

As time went on, Amane began swapping an empty container for a full one every day,

and his diet improved dramatically.

Mahirus cooking was always light and healthy, and since every dish made him want

rice, Amane started fixing microwave packets with each meal. The angel had a variety

of cuisines in her repertoire: Japanese, Chinese, even Western. Each day brought

something new, but every single meal was delicious, and Amane developed an appetite

like never before.

Like a wild animal grown fat on handouts, Amane quickly came to rely on Mahirus

charity. Even as he continued to obediently accept container after container, he knew

it was presumptuous to expect a meal every day. Still, he happily—and hungrily—

licked his chops each time.

e looking good lately. You fix your diet or something? ”

Itsuki took a long, hard look at Amane one day during lunch. Apparently, his complexion

had improved—probably because he was finally supplying his body with much-

needed nutrition.

Amane knew his friend was perceptive, and he felt a bit of a cold sweat break out as

he slurped the udon noodles hed ordered for school lunch.

”Itsuki, you scare me, ” he said.

”Whys that? Do you mean Im right? ”

”Uh, well, I guess you could say Ive had no choice but to reexamine my lifestyle recently. ”

Whenever Amane passed by Mahiru near their apartments, she would chide him

gently to take care of himself, and she was regularly sharing her dinner with him. It

was only natural that his life had improved. On the one hand, he wanted to call her his

guardian angel, but a small part of him also felt like she was meddling where it was

none of her business.

Amane had indirectly confirmed Itsukis suspicions by dodging the question, and

Itsuki cackled with delighted laughter. ”Yeah, I knew it. You always looked unhealthy

cause the way you were living was so crappy. ”

”Shut up. ”

”But what made you decide to
eexamine your lifestyle? ”

”I guess I was forced to. ”

”Ah, your mom found out? ”

e not right, but you
e not far off, either. ”

Mahiru really did sound like Amanes mom at times. She was much too young and too

cute to be a mother, though. Still, the way the girl went to such lengths to care for

Amane made it hard for him to refuse her.

”Say, Itsuki? Do I really seem that unhealthy? ”

”Hmm… Well, to start with, you
e pretty pale. I guess you
e tall enough, but you

gangly. You
e also always shuffling around all apathetic-like, so you look like a zombie. ”

”But thats just how I look… ”

”You think I don know that? Try looking like one of the living for a change. ”

”Don be absurd… Wait, but seriously… a zombie…? ”

Amane wasn really sure because he almost never bothered to closely check his own

face in the mirror, but apparently, he gave others the impression that he was barely

alive. If he looked half-dead even on a good day, that would explain why Mahiru had

been so worried about him before.

”You should pay a little more attention to how other people see you, Amane. You

always hunched over, starin at the ground. It makes you hard to approach, and its not

like you go out of your way to get close to anybody, either. If I didn know any better,

Id say you
e the very definition of a moody teenager. ”

”You sure know how to keep it casual when you
e insulting a guy. ”

”Fine, fine, I won sugarcoat it, then. You look like a corpse, and your life is a mess. ”

Itsuki continued teasing his friend, insisting that he ought to take this opportunity to

pay more attention to his appearance and demeanor, not to mention his health.

Sharply turning away, Amane replied sarcastically, ”Thanks for your concern. ”

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