While continuing to live as I did, I had gotten used to living together with the three princesses.
I suppose that this is the result of my inherent adaptability. Sometimes we eat out, go for karaoke or bowling, or play a game of cards in the living room...living quite leisurely considering that I'm with a group scheming the end of the world
(Have I gotten too familiar with them...? At this point, our master-servant relationship is getting fuzzier by the minute.)
The three princesses have already gotten acquainted with the neighbors. Actually, it has reached the point where the mail and newspaper delivery people would converse with them. They've integrated into the world quite tremendously.
(I can't keep dawdling around. Tomorrow's the time to start putting my plan into motion.)
By that, I mean phase one──revealing the matter of Taotie's resurrection to Ryuuga and the others.
For that, I'll mobilize Mion and get her to meddle with Aogasaki.
(Once that happens, the information will be handed down to Ryuga. They'll immediately feel a sense of urgency.)
...I should mention that it has been more than ten days since I've seen Ryuuga. This is the first time we haven't seen each other for so long ever since we met.
Since we were semi-lovers, I'm certain that she was looking forward to spending time with me during summer vacation. Being apart for so long, she probably wanted some way to relieve the stress. Thinking about that made my chest ache...or at least it was supposed to.
During one night, it was about time to go to bed.
I saw that Ryuuga had suddenly sent me a message, causing my whole body to stiffen. I was dumbfounded, dazed, shocked.
'To Ichirou. Thank you for going with me to the movies today! Though it was by chance, I'm glad that we could meet!'
Though I understood its contents, I still needed a brief two minutes to myself.
I then woke up Taotie, dragged him out from inside myself, and furiously interrogated him.
"Hey! What have you been doing today?!"
Taotie feigned ignorance and turned away, so I constricted him with an abdominal stretch. The "Evil Spirit" immediately yielded and awkwardly confessed.
"When I was taking a walk, I had stumbled across Ryuuga by chance..."
"Don't talk walks! I thought I told you not to act on your own without permission!"
"After that, she invited me by saying 'Do you want to watch a movie? It might be a good way to relax'..."
"So you did watch a movie together!"
"I ended up crying. It was a charming love story."
"Don't be impressed by something created by humans! What kind of 'Evil Spirit' are you?!"
This guy has gone and done it. Not only did he go out without permission, he also had the nerve to go on a date with the protagonist to the movies!
"You promised that you would play the role of the final boss! What were you thinking?!"
Taotie curiously snapped at me in response to my threatening attitude.
"Boss, what were you thinking?! Ryuuga was walking alone! And you call yourself her boyfriend?!"
"Boyfriend 'role!' Besides, there's not much I could do since I'm also the final boss now!"
"Why can't you be more nice, someone like Kevin!"
"And just who is that?!"
"The protagonist of the movie I watched today!"
"You think I'd know him?!"
"He's probably getting an Oscar this year!"
"You think I'd know that?!"
Just like the other day, I got into a fight with the "Evil Spirit". It was already late into the night, but in my anger, I had forgotten to be considerate about the my surroundings.
As we were fighting hand-to-hand, the three princesses rushed into the room, noticing the racket.
The three princesses, who were wearing pajamas, were amazed and watched while seeming troubled as we switched between offensive and defensive techniques, ranging from standing techniques to pinning techniques.
"I wonder...who we're supposed to support."
"Wouldn't it be Taotie?"
"Too noisy, I can't sleep..."
──In the end, Kiki barged into our fight and walloped Taotie and me while holding her monster toy figure.
According what I heard later on, it seems that more than anything, she hates her sleep being interrupted. It seems that when Kiki is woken up, she can beat over thirty people in the spirit world half to death.
"Kiki! What did you do you Taotie?!"
"Oh my...the two have fainted."
While my consciousness faded, I heard voices coming from Mion and Jyuri.
Six minutes and forty-two seconds. The victor, Kiki. Winning technique, underground monster Berberon.
The next day, in order to fix Taotie's blunder, I quickly headed towards the Hinomori residence.
There's a high chance that Ryuuga would feel a sense of discomfort after what happened yesterday. I can't determine if that's the case solely from the message, but I won't feel at ease until I meet with her and confirm.
(Hey, Tie. You didn't take it too far when you were talking with her, right?)
(It's all fine. Just some harmless and inoffensive talk. Since the public was watching, I unfortunately couldn't flirt with her.)
While conversing with him, I arrived at the residence, and the entrance sliding door opened with a rattle.
A woman in a bunny girl uniform rushed out and embraced me.
There were bunny-ears coming out of the headband she was wearing. Her bare, slender shoulders boldly revealed her bountiful chest. She wore fishnet stockings over her nice legs...It was obviously Ryuuga.
"Don't scare me like that! You should at least message me a heads-up!"
"Eheheh, I decided on a bunny today. After all, this one's your favorite, Ichirou."
While a smile, Bunny Ryuuga shook her round, fluffy tail.
Even if one looked all over the world, they wouldn't find a better person for this dress than her. Although it covered her navel, I've judged that the charm of a bunny girl made up for it.
"I'm glad that we could meet for two days in a row. Were you able to calm down?"
"Y, yeah. I was able to relax a bit after watching that movie."
"Why not come to my room for the time being? Carry me in your arms like we normally do."
"I'm fine. I think that overdoing the lovey-dovey actions for our lovers training will──"
"Leave it to me."
Surrendering in face of how cutely she said it, I headed towards Ryuuga's room while doing a princess carry. Once we arrived at her room, I briefly dressed up as a hunter and chased Ryuuga around as she dressed like a rabbit.
...I know. That's something only a pair of love birds would do.
We carried out such an act for a short while. Afterwards, we began chatting while sitting beside each other.
"The movie yesterday was quite interesting, wasn't it?"
Ryuuga said as such while glued to me, just like always. Costumes among costumes were everywhere, making the room look like some kind of strange store.
"Yeah. The actor who played Kevin will definitely receive and Oscar, won't he?"
"Hahah. You ended up crying as well, Ichirou."
"I, I suppose."
"You couldn't get up from your seat for a while. You were even saying 'Kevin, Kathy, please be happy...'"
"T, the ending was touching, after all."
I kept up the conversation while deciding that I would beat Taotie once more.
Currently, it seems that Ryuuga doesn't suspect any of what happened yesterday. Not even suspecting something when I was that emotionally unstable...What kind of person does she think I am?
"I was a little moved to tears as well...and you were holding my hand the entire time, so I felt a little more empathetic."
I paid close attention while saying "Huh?" in response to what Ryuuga said.
The nerve Taotie had to hold her hand while I wasn't there. He never told me about that! What's he doing, touching her without my permission?! Didn't that mean he was flirting with her?!
"The chestnut parfait we ate afterwards at the cafe was delicious."
"You even ate some when I couldn't finish it. When you think about it, it's kind of like we're close lovers. It's times like those where I want to go back to being a girl."
...What's this feeling of irritation welling up inside me?
Could I be jealous? Jealous about something else touching Ryuuga? About her (debatably) being on good terms with another guy? About her inviting someone else?
"Ah, but...sorry. Ron bit you. Is your head okay?"
"Perhaps he thought that you would take his position? Haha."
In contrast to Ryuuga's mischievous laugh, my face was twitching.
(Ron definitely suspects something! He even bit that guy's head!)
That "foolish Evil Spirit" shouldn't have neglected to report such critical information! He shouldn't get involved in comical situations with his arch-enemy, the "Yellow Dragon"!
Fortunately, Ryuuga didn't seem to pay any attention to it and immediately carried on with the conversation.
After proposing arrangements to watch another movie, eat parfait together again, or go to the mountains once more, she held my hand in the end.
"Ichirou...please, don't leave me alone."
"O, of course. You're my best friend...Though I suppose I'm playing the role of your boyfriend right now."
When part two safely comes to a close, I can go anywhere with her.
If possible, I'd like to return to being a "friend character," but I'm a little peeved at the thought of Taotie going on dates with her. How unfair.
I'd like to...no, banish these wicked thoughts.
"Hey, how about stopping this boyfriend 'role' thing?"
I once again paid close attention to Ryuuga once she said those brief words.
"I mean, aren't we already at the point where we're pretty much going out with each other...?"
"W, wait a minute!"
"Rather than this being training, aren't we already doing the real deal...?"
I made something akin to a scream in response to Ryuuga, who was clinging onto my arm in indulgence.
Not good. This was the development that I had feared. Ryuuga's getting serious! This is no time to bother with my jealousy towards Taotie!
Come to think of it, this morning, I had looked up yesterday's movie on the internet, and...the actors who played Kevin and Kathy have started dating because of it. The make-believe turned into reality.
"Ichirou, we came close to kissing at Chigayama, and we held hands during the movie..."
"Don't rush things! You still haven't reached the point where you're familiar with the inner workings of romance! You'll hurt yourself if you don't have enough knowledge!"
"It's fine. I can learn as I go."
"Don't get too confident, you fool! Do you know how many people have broken up after saying those words?! I don't want us to be like those people!"
In my panic, I had turned into a strange character.
"But you said 'Ryuuga is the cutest in the world,' for me yesterday, you know?"
"That kind of carelessness can be fatal! One mustn't think of themself as cute! If they do, they will face defeat!"
"Ichirou, you really have been acting odd lately. Come to think of it, everyone else has said that as well...They said that when they saw you before the battle with Hundun, you were acting a bit weird."
...I then somehow managed to sidestep Ryuuga's proposal and ran off in order to escape the Hinomori residence.
I walked with shaky steps along the road, feeling like I was forty years old. For the time being, it seems that I just barely escaped danger after what Taotie did, but I can't say that the situation had improved.
(It'll be fine. After part two is over, I'll just lose my memories and power. It'll be fine...)
I repeated that many times in my mind, as if to convince myself.
Before long, I ran into Kyouka, who appeared in front of me.
It seems that she had been in the library again today. Perhaps she had also been in the supermarket, since she was carrying a shopping bag in addition to the bag she used for her studies.
"Hey, Kyouka. I met Ryuga just now──"
"Hey, Kobayashi. Do you have a moment?"
Kyouka, who gave an unusual greeting, approached me while saying that.
As expected of Ryuuga's younger sister, they vaguely resembled each other in terms of looks. She's a cheerful, refreshing beauty who never stopped smiling, but...for some reason, she was serious today and her face told me that she had been thinking hard about something.
"W, what's wrong? Why so stern?"
"There's something I'd like to talk with you about, Kobayashi. If possible...I'd like you to keep this a secret from my older sister."
"Since I'll have to contact you again soon, is it okay if you give me your phone number?"
While giving her my number, I was bewildered about the situation. If she wanted my number, she could have asked Ryuuga, though...it seems that she really doesn't want her sister to know.
"Thank you. I'll see you later..."
With a gloomy look, Kyouka bowed and darted off. Her twintails bounced in accordance with her footsteps.
(That's the first time I've seen Kyouka so serious...What on earth happened?)
However──the next day, I was entirely blown away by the matter concerning Kyouka.
A state of emergency beyond my belief had approached, and there wasn't much time to act.
I had a plan for part two of the storyline. It had an introduction, rising action, climax, and conclusion.
However, the matter had suddenly brought things to the final phase in the blink of an eye.