It was now Friday of that week.
After school, I thought that Ryuuga and I would go home together without any heroine intervention, but a minor event popped up.
Several people in the class said “Let’s all go for some karaoke!”
The one who started it was Satou. His purpose was one of the heroines/candidates, Elmira McCartney. He’s a nefarious guy that would make a move on her right in front of Ryuuga, but I suppose something like this is bound to happen for both popular people and heroines.
Elmira is a foreigner from Eastern Europe that moved in once we were in our second year of school. Furthermore, she’s a super-beauty that the boys won’t leave alone. She immediately became a favorite of the class, I even heard that she has a secret fan club right now. However, her hair is scarlet.
Naturally, she’s fluent in Japanese and it seems like she hardly experiences any culture gap. She has medium-long wavy hair, and her speech has a noble-like mannerism to it. On the other hand though, she’s very moody and has a mischievous personality. She also wears her uniform a little loose.
She’s what’s commonly referred to as a “devilish character.” Let me repeat myself, her hair is scarlet.
“You should go too, Elmira! Well, won’t it be fun?”
“I appreciate the thought, but I must decline your offer. I have some trouble breathing when I’m within a large crowd of people.”
Right from the get-go, Elmira bluntly refused Satou’s offer.
However, they were being persistent and when they eventually lost their patience, they presented her with the following condition, “If Ryuuga comes as well, how about joining us?”
…Choosing the protagonist over the people lining up for her. This is the typical attitude of a heroine. As expected for one of the three major heroines.
I’m going off on a tangent here, but the three major heroines are Yukimiya Shiori, Aogasaki Rei, and Elmira McCartney. I’m expecting one of these three to win over Ryuuga. There’s also his childhood friend, but childhood friend characters don’t end up as likely victors. So I’m going to exclude her.
“If Hinomori comes, it’s okay, right? Alright, Hinomori, let’s go for some karaoke!”
“Huh? No thanks, I’m…”
“I’m begging you! Think of it as doing an act of kindness!”
Gradually, Ryuuga warmed up to the idea of karaoke, and so I immediately raised my hand and told them I would participate as well. I can’t afford to sit out on these course of events.
“Alright! Just this once, I’ll let you hear the wonderful singing voice of yours truly!”
“Huh? You’re coming too?”
“Obviously! If Elmira’s going, then I’m going too!”
Actually, I don’t really care whether or not Elmira’s going. I wasn’t particularly fond of karaoke either since I wanted to be as frugal as possible this month.
However, if Ryuuga is going, that’s another story.
In the “school part,” if Hinomori Ryuuga goes somewhere, then Kobayashi Ichirou is bound to be there as well. It’s an unwritten law.
After all, I’m the protagonist’s friend.
I’m the symbol of Ryuuga’s daily life.
Afterwards, we all soon arrived at the karaoke center.
The group included Ryuuga, Elmira, and 15 other classmates. Ten of them were boys and the other five were girls. This was a large number of people, so we entered a wide room that was like a hall.
“Who’s first to go?”
“That would be the one who proposed this, Satou! He’s going to sing a love song to Elmira.”
“Hey, stop entering in your songs! There’s already five, and they’re all “Last Christmas” aren’t they?”
…While everyone was getting excited over the karaoke, Ryuuga didn’t try to sing, but instead focused on sipping the tea.
Ryuuga was never someone who felt out of place within the class, but he wasn’t exactly a central figure either. He stands out because he gets involved with the heroines almost every day, but he basically doesn’t talk to any of the classmates apart from me.
That’s okay. It’s fine if I’m Ryuuga’s only close friend. If there are multiple friend characters, their duties would be split up and my screen time would diminish. Or perhaps, she would get jealous.
“──Ryuuga, are you not going to sing?”
Ignoring everyone that’s fooling around, Elmira starts a conversation with Ryuuga.
She’s a cunning heroine, she acutely took a seat neighboring Ryuuga. I as well acutely take Ryuuga’s other side.
“Oh, I’m fine. I’m not that good.”
“Ah, how regrettable. I wanted to hear you sing, Ryuuga.”
Perhaps Ryuuga is fine with just seeing everyone else have fun.
Such an everyday scene like this is what Ryuuga is protecting. He wants to protect it. He will not let the peculiarities cross over into this world. And I suppose he’s thinking that it’s something worth fighting for. What a cool guy. As expected of my protagonist.
Though, I am a bit worried that perhaps he’s not too good at singing.
Someday, Ryuuga might do his own character theme song. It’s common for characters to sing their own theme songs. If he’s too tone-deaf though, he’ll just get laughed at during battle.
(Perhaps it’d be good if I start taking him to karaoke as practice from now on)
While I was thinking of such things──Ryuuga suddenly stood up.
He said “I need to use the restroom for a bit” to only Elmira and me, and then left the room. Fortunately, there was nobody paying attention to it.
I immediately tried making eye contact with Elmira.
I wanted to determine whether or not she was going to follow Ryuuga.
When the protagonist switches locations, so does the center of the stage. There’s nothing of worth happening in this room. We’re not here to listen to Satou’s love song.
When thinking about it, this is Elmira we’re talking about. If he actually went to the restroom, she wouldn’t be able to enter with him. So with that being the case, perhaps I would be of more use.
Do I go? Do you go? Who’s it gonna be? I used my eyes to communicate as such, but Elmira only made a puzzled expression. Yukimiya was also like this, but why are you bad at making inferences as well?
“What is it, Kobayashi Ichirou? You’re staring.”
“Ah, it’s nothing.”
“Is there something strange about me?”
Your hair’s red.
“*sigh*…since it’s come to this, you should decline doing karaoke. With them being so absorbed in their own tomfoolery, I think that they’re just leeching off of Ryuuga’s blood at this point.”
I have a hunch that what I heard next was something I wasn’t supposed to hear.
“If we’re talking about Ryuuga, then I’d like to mention that he offered me his blood in exchange for not sucking other peoples’…but at the current rate of intake, my power won’t──”
“I, I need to use the restroom as well!”
Interrupting Elmira, who had let her true identity slip in her rambling, I withdrew from the room as fast as I could. Holy crap woman, you just revealed yourself! I know when to step out of the ring! I’m just a mere friend character!
Elmira might be a dangerous person for me. When being near her, there’s the risk of me stumbling upon classified information.
…It’s fine. I heard nothing.
She’s not a v**pire or anything like that, I wouldn’t even think so in my wildest dreams.
Ryuuga didn’t go to the restroom.
Taking a seat on a sofa in front of the lobby, he was trying to take a breather. Perhaps he’s not too fond of tomfoolery like what was going on back there.
“Hey Ryuga, what’s wrong?”
I sit next to him and hand him a wet towel that I brought along from the room.
Ryuuga wiped his cheeks and forehead, then a little while later, began to talk as if he was monologuing.
“Since I don’t usually socialize with large groups…I can’t keep my composure.”
“Well, that’s because you’re always with me. It’s just you and I that hang out together.”
“That’s what I’m comfortable with after all. I feel most relived when I’m with you, Ichirou.”
“Wah ha ha. I see, I see.”
I just received a comment that would be long-desired for friend character, I feel like dancing around in joy. However, at the same time, I also feel some regret.
This is probably where Elmira would have arrived. She would sneak of out of the bustling karaoke room and then there would be an isolated meeting between the protagonist and heroine…that’s probably how the situation was supposed to go.
Undoubtedly, Ryuuga, having spent all his time fighting, wouldn’t know how to handle a difficult situation like this one.
And then Elmira…being a non-human vam**re, would be fated to not have a normal life, just like him. I’m sure of that.
The two would mutually sympathize with each other, and then their bonds would deepen──that would be the most optimal development.
However, there’s no use having that happen now that I’m the one here.
A friend character is a friend character, and they have their duties. I was thinking that someday, I would have to do what I’m about to do, but didn’t decide upon it until now.
This is a good chance. I can accomplish it with this opportunity. I’ll try to carry out this indispensable, yet cliched development as a close friend.
“There’s something that I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“What is it?”
“Are you──hiding something from me?”
In that moment, Ryuuga’s complexion changed.
There are some dangers involved in asking this earth-shattering question, but I’m more than aware of that. A “foolish pervert” friend character has to show a sharp side to them sometimes.
Ryuuga was hesitant in replying. He’s undoubtedly thinking “If I tell the truth, Ichirou might get dragged into the battle.”
Of course, I too would be troubled in giving an honest reply.
Dodge the question, Ryuuga. Feign ignorance, Ryuuga. You don’t need to consult anyone other than a heroine.
Ryuuga starts to say something.
Then suddenly, an employee at the front collapsed.
Ryuuga and I get up at once. When we head over to check on her condition, we notice something else that was odd.
…It wasn’t just the employee. The visitors in the aisle also collapsed. The faint noises of singing in each room also suddenly ceased.
In a panic, I looked into the door of the nearest karaoke room.
Sure enough, there was a couple slouching down on the floor. It was the same as with the employees.
“W, what is this…”
“It’s a powerful hypnotic wave that made everyone fall unconscious.”
Ryuuga made an immediate reply to my mutters. Quickly understanding the situation, he promptly put the victims into a comfortable position. It seems he’s experienced at this.
…Could it, by any chance, be that?
Did we break into the battle part?
Was this what the karaoke event was turning into? Is this the episode where “the opponent’s influence seeps into the protagonists gentle daily life”!?
I predicted that an event like this would happen someday. However, now that it’s come to this, my face has stiffened from the tension.
I’m supposed to be away during the battle parts. For example I would “feel the urge to take the cat that’s always in my house to the vet.”
The daily life part was my home, but now that I’m here, I’m not sure how to make my way through.
(Don’t get flustered, Kobayashi Ichirou! You’ve got to do it!)
Right. I have no choice but to do it. As a friend character, I have no choice but to act flustered with all of my might.
That’s how the setting goes, that’s my duty. And then Ryuuga is supposed to do something!
“W-w-w-what do we do, Ryuga! S-s-should we call the police?!”
“Calm down, Ichirou. It’ll be alright, the victims aren’t in danger.”
With an expression completely befitting of a protagonist, Ryuuga attentively became alert of his surroundings.
This is the first time I’ve seen Ryuuga in battle mode so close…this is bad. He’s so cool. I might fall in love with him.
“Also, this isn’t a situation that can be dealt with by the police. To help everyone──we have to beat down the perpetrator emitting the hypnotic wave.”
“P, perpetrator? You mean…”
As Ryuuga and I were having such a conversation, Elmira came running by.
“Ryuuga! Everyone in the room fainted!”
It seems she wasn’t the one who sent out the hypnotic wave. As expected of Ryuuga’s companion character. As expected of a vampi**.
“Ryuuga. Did you notice it? The culprit behind the hypnotic wave is the shop manager.”
“…So it was him after all. I wanted to double-check it, so I came to the front desk.”
“Even I thought that the man had a strange air to him. It seems that he’s an ‘apostle.'”
Apostles. It seems those are the opponents that Ryuuga and the others are fighting.
From their name alone, it seems that they’re worshipers of an evil god, a demon, or a god of destruction. I feel that it’s a little cliche, but Ryuuga himself is a cliche protagonist so it works.
Elmira points to an emergency staircase and urges Ryuuga.
“The shop manager fled to the rooftop. We need to chase after him, Ryuuga.”
“Ah, Ichirou. Sorry, but I’m entrusting everyone to you!”
Ryuuga said so while running off with Elmira, and I replied back with “Huh? Hey, wait! Where are you going!”
Truthfully, I had guessed that he would request this of me. This is also a cliched development within the realm of cliched developments.
At the scene of the incident, the friend character is entrusted with looking after the victims. Sometimes they’re told “Escape with everyone else!” This is expected when a battle happens.
To be frank, I think this is an unreasonable request at best. I’m only a high school student, what do you want me to do in this situation? Furthermore, the cause of the fainting is the supernatural power of an apostle.
Whatever, there’s no use complaining. Since the protagonist asked me of this, I can only do my best.
(When Ryuga kills the enemy, everyone should wake up. For the time being, perhaps I should move them from the floor to the sofas)
I turned to face to interior of the building and placed everyone that fainted on a sofa.
Thankfully, there weren’t many staff or guests, so I finished in about twenty minutes. Also, the genuine store manager had collapsed in his personal restroom.
I can only wait for Ryuuga and Elmira to come back now…I don’t know when that’ll happen, so I decided to return to the karaoke room for now.
About ten minutes have passed. I’m singing “Last Christmas” for the third time now.
Then Ryuuga and Elmira finally came back.
At the same moment, the fainted classmates are waking up one by one now. It seems they managed to safely beat the apostle.
“Hey Ryuga, where did you go! I was worried, you know?”
“Ah, my bad…I was checking the other rooms…”
Ryuuga’s complexion is frighteningly bad. His manner of walking was a bit unsteady. Was it that much of a hard fight?
No, on the contrary, Elmira is looking bright. Rather than being exhausted, she’s more lively than before the fight. Something must have happened.
“Heh heh, thank you for the meal, Ryuuga.”
…Oh, she sucked his blood.
No wait, I don’t know about her sucking anything. I don’t know anything at all.
“Ryuuga’s blood was a delicacy after all. It’s like a rich wine…I could get addicted to this.”
Elmira McCartney. What kind of person is she?
She’s a something-something-pire.