It was the morning after Elmira and Shizuma were brought to the Kobayashi household.
When I arrived at school, I immediately gathered all of the main characters at the rooftop, and reported that I have "confirmed Elmira's whereabouts". Of course, I kept the specifics hidden.
"Y, you found Elmira?! Did you really, Ichirou?!"
"Where was she, Kobayashi?!"
"Is she safe, Kobayashi?!"
"Could she be in jail, Ii?!"
Ryuuga, Yukimiya, Aogasaki, and Kurogame were astonished and immediately pressed me for further information. They were acting like news reporters.
(I didn't really notice until now, but everyone calls me something different...perhaps it's reflective of their personalities?) [TLN: Yukimiya adds the -san honorific, Aogasaki doesn't]
The three princesses also refer to me in different ways as well. Taotie calls me "Boss", Hundun calls me "Sonny", and Qiongqi calls me "Kobayashi boy". [TLN: Mion calls him Ichirou-kun, Jyuri calls him Ichirou-sama]
As for Elmira, she calls me by my full name, "Kobayashi Ichirou". Shizuma will (hopefully) call me "Papa".
Well, I don't really care, so they can call me whatever they want.
While bearing the brunt of their attention, I made my explanation to the four while being cautious of what I was saying.
"Let me say this first. Elmira is perfectly fine."
There were sighs of relief throughout. That was probably what they wanted to know the most.
"However, her situation is a bit complicated...and she won't come back immediately. Unfortunately, she won't let me explain the situation."
"Is it...connected to the apostles?"
I heard Ryuuga speak in a low voice while in her boy version. She's probably just being careful despite there being nobody else on the rooftop.
"It's definitely connected to the apostles, but in the way that you think. She's not allying with Qiongqi's faction, nor is she becoming our enemy."
"That's good...Elmira's still remaining true to herself."
"Really, what a relief. I definitely wouldn't want to fight against Elle."
The "Shrine Maiden of Life" and "Star-Wall Guardian" spoke with each other in delight.
On the other hand, the "Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance" had a complicated facial expression while staring at the floor, placing her hand over her chin.
"Does that mean Elmira is alone and helpless? Even though you're able to assist her, are we not allowed to help as well?"
"I'm trying to persuade her to consult with you all as well, but...as you know, she's a very stubborn vampire."
When I made a sigh, they all did as well. I'm quite peeved by this troublesome position I'm in.
"Kobayashi, even if just once, could you get Elmira to come to school...?"
"That might also be difficult...in her current state, she can't move around."
Elmira's still cautious of the three princesses, so she won't leave Shizuma's side for even a moment. Kiki's not too fond of that, and so they end up arguing all the time, even in the morning.
Though, I think that problem will resolve itself soon. Elmira should begin to realize that the three princesses have no intention to raise Shizuma into a barbaric apostle.
"At any rate, Elmira is safe and she's not going to become our enemy──that alone is plenty of information. Ichirou, thanks a lot."
When Ryuuga made a bow, I smiled and gave a thumbs up.
"It's all good. After all, I'm your friend. I don't have the power to fight, but I can help out as an ordinary person like this."
When I said that, Ryuuga and the others stared blankly at me. It was as if they were going "Huh? What are you saying?"
...It seems that they all no longer see me as a sub-character meant for the daily life part of the story. I already knew that, but it still makes me feel down.
──I don't think you can play the supporting role, Kobayashi boy──
──And now, you've taken it away. You've taken the position of the protagonist away──
I've been disturbed ever since the "Evil Spirit" Qiongqi said that to me on the phone last night. His words have been stuck in my head and won't leave.
In fact, I'm worried because he specifically referred to the notion of a "friend character". What I said out loud to everyone just now was probably me trying to reassure myself. However, that backfired.
(Damn it, I'm being so moody about this...why did Qiongqi have to say that? Now my sub-character spirit is unsteady!)
Ignoring my unsteady spirit, I concluded my report for the time being.
"That's why we should end the 'search for Elmira'. If something serious happens, I'll tell you guys, so I hope you can trust me here."
Everyone nodded their heads, and since the bell rang right then, we went our separate ways.
Everyone was heading to a different class. Yukimiya was heading towards Class C for the second year students. Aogasaki was heading to Class A for the third year students. Kurogame to Class C for the second years.
Finally, Ryuuga and I were heading to Class B for the second years. Elmira was also in our class.
(I should continue trying to persuade Elmira once I get home. I can't let there be too many episodes with her on the apostle's side.)
It's very foreboding that she has been absent from the protagonist's side during these recent episodes. I'd like the others to get involved. Especially Ryuuga.
When I came back to the classroom with Ryuuga, I asked one thing before I sat down.
"So Ryuga, how's Kyouka's condition? Since we no longer need to search for Elmira, is it okay if I come visit today or tomorrow?"
"...About that, Ichirou..."
Thereupon, her face turned gloomy. After some slight hesitation, she continued speaking while seeming uneasy.
"I think her condition is getting better now. Though as usual, her fever won't go down, and the doctor doesn't know what's causing it either...but, there's something else I'm more concerned about."
"W, what is it?"
"Kyouka told me something. 'Don't bring Kobayashi over,' is what she said."
I unconsciously let out a voice upon abruptly hearing that I was denied a visit.
Why? What for? Did I do something to offend Kyouka?
I tried to search through my memory, but I couldn't find such an incident. At best, all I can come up with is when she said "What are you two doing...?" after seeing Ryuuga cosplaying as a female knight and me dressing as an orc.
"Should I have dressed as a dwarf instead...?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, but it's not what you think."
After retorting to what I had said to myself, Ryuuga smiled.
"I'll find out why soon, so could you hold off on visiting for a bit? It's fine, I don't think she hates you."
If that's her advice, then I suppose I have no other choice. I'll just do what she says and wait.
(There's Elmira and Shizuma, Qiongqi, and Kyouka...there sure are a lot problems.)
...While worrying about such matters, school was over before I knew it.
Ryuuga quickly went home to take care of her sister, and I promptly went back to my own house as well. I was worried about whether or not Elmira and Kiki were still fighting.
Furthermore, I'd like to see Shizuma soon.
After single-mindedly heading back home, I was greeted with an astonishing scene.
Elmira, the three princesses, and the house-sitter Taotie were all in the living room. In the center of them all was, needless to say, the angel of the household, Shizuma.
Furthermore, Shizuma was crawling.
"Kobayashi Ichirou! Look! Shizuma is...Shizuma is!"
Elmira grabbed me by the collar and shook me. My neck was in pain from the jolt, but that was of lesser concern. After all, Shizuma was crawling!
(Is it because of his quick growth? I thought that it would take longer for him to crawl...!)
As expected, he's an apostle. Perhaps it would be rude to refer to him as just a "baby" at this point. Perhaps I upgrade his title.
Shizuma crawled on the tatami mat while saying "Aah, aah". He looked around at all of us, wondering who to move towards.
Everyone sensed his intentions. The living room instantly turned into a battlefield.
"Shizuma! Over here! Come to Mama!"
The vampire girl spread her arms out and frantically called out to him.
"Shizuma! Come to me! Your older sister is here!"
The Hokkaido wolf apostle enthusiastically beckoned him.
"Shizuma~. You like pretty girls, right? You're a boy, after all~."
The king cobra apostle undid three buttons on her blouse, exposing her cleavage.
"I, I suppose it's okay if you come over to me."
The heron aspotle looked the other way while acting indifferent.
"Come here, Shizuma! Come to me, the one who has the same ambition as a baby! Goo goo ga ga!"
The "Evil Spirit" tried creating some kind of fellowship with him, or something of that sort. I'm not too sure. Should I take part in this battle too?
(I can't lose...I will win this competition!)
In contrast to everyone else, I quietly spread my arms out and patiently waited.
...It should be fine. Shizuma will surely come over. He definitely will come over. I looked at the angel.
(Come on! Crawl to me, Shizuma!)
Thereupon, Shizuma──came over to me, as expected. He really did come to me.
While everyone was feeling disheartened, I reached towards him with my trembling hands and raised his tiny body. My vision turned blurry from tears.
However, that wasn't the only surprising and touching moment.
Shizuma looked at me and said that. I definitely wasn't mishearing it. He definitely said it!
"O, oooooh! Papa! He said Papa!"
I stood up and lifted Shizuma like he was a trophy cup. I then spun around, causing Shizuma to giggle with glee. It seems that this child likes being lifted up into the air.
"I planned on having him call me Papa, but I didn't think I would accomplish it this early! Now I have no choice other than to make him my son! I'm a papa! A pro father of a papa!"
"Boss, you can't be a friend character and father."
"Besides, did he even say papa to you?"
"He said 'Paa' to you..."
Taotie, Mion, and Jyuri retorted to what I said. Meanwhile, Elmira and Kiki didn't give up hope.
"O, one more time! As if I'd accept this result!"
"Right! You definitely cheated! There was bribery!"
Their complaints went in one ear and out the other.
I felt a bit gloomy when I was coming back home, but I feel as if that's all gone away now.