>Amane scratched his head nervously. He wasn really looking to make any kind of

connection with her or anything, but it seemed wrong to him to ignore another person

who was making such a pained expression.

e you doing? ”

When he called out to her in the bluntest voice possible, trying to convey that he was

not a threat, she tossed her long hair, now heavy with water, and looked at him.

Mahirus face was as lovely as ever.

Even wet with rain, its radiance was not dulled. In fact, every droplet only seemed to

enhance her elegant features. One could say she was dripping with beauty.

She stared at him with large, striking eyes.

Mahiru must have been vaguely aware of Amane as her next-door neighbor because

they occasionally passed each other in the morning. However, the look in her caramelcolored eyes revealed that she was slightly guarded—someone she had never really

spoken with had suddenly called out to her.

”Fujimiya? May I help you? ”

Amane was rather shocked that Mahiru had remembered his name, but at the same

time, he also figured that this level of familiarity most likely wouldn cause her to drop

her guard. It was only to be expected that Mahiru would raise her defenses when

confronted by a stranger, even if he wasn entirely unknown.

She probably didn want much to do with the opposite sex. It certainly seemed like

she received plenty of romantic advances from the boys at school, regardless of what

year they were in. Would anyone have blamed Mahiru for suspecting Amane of

harboring an ulterior motive?

”I don really need anything. I was just wondering why you were sitting in a place like

this, all alone in the rain. ”

”Oh, you were? Im grateful for your concern, but Im here simply because I want to be.

Don worry about me. ”

There was no edge of suspicion in Mahirus soft, listless voice, but it was also clear that

she had no intention of opening up to Amane.

All right, suit yourself.

It was clear that there was something going on with her, but she didn seem to want

Amane to get involved, and he wasn particularly inclined to pursue the matter any


Amane had only approached her on a whim. Hed simply been curious about her

situation; that was all. It wasn really his concern. If this was what she wanted to be

doing, then that was just fine by him.

Amane sensed the evanescent beauty regarding him with some suspicion. He was sure

that Mahiru was wondering why hed even bothered speaking to her at all.

”Ah, I see, ” he offered in reply.

Pressing the issue wouldn get him anywhere, so Amane decided to withdraw. There

was no shared history between them, and perhaps that was for the best. The decision

to leave her alone was an easy one.

Even with a very good reason to depart, Amane still didn think it seemed right to

abandon her—and thoroughly soaked to boot.

”Youll catch a cold, so take this and go home. No need to bother giving it back. ”

Deciding this would be the one and only time he meddled, Amane offered Mahiru his

own umbrella. After all, he didn want her to get sick or anything.

Amane handed over the umbrella—or to put it more accurately, he gave her little

choice but to accept. Without giving Mahiru a chance to reply, he turned away and took

off. As he left the scene, Amane heard Mahiru calling to him.

Whatever she was trying to say was too quiet and became drowned out by the rain.

Amane didn stop or turn around until the park was well behind him.

He had cared enough about the girl possibly catching a cold to foist his umbrella on

her, so he didn feel that guilty about the fact that he had originally intended to ignore

her altogether.

At any rate, Mahiru had refused his attempt to start a conversation, and Amane didn

intend to get any closer to her, either. After all, they had no connection to each other

beyond this.

Amane assured himself along those lines as he made his way home.

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