It’s now Saturday, a few days have passed since I met Elmira at the cemetery.
Though I’m no longer restricted by supplementary lessons and extra homework, I’m not happy about it. Since I’m now free, I have to accompany Ryuuga and the others in their “search for Elmira”.
That by itself wouldn’t be a problem. Such things are the duties of a friend character. However…
(Ugh, I’d love to tell Ryuga and everyone else the truth…)
Searching for a vampire girl while actually knowing her whereabouts is…really pointless.
Of course, Ryuuga and the rest are serious about this. Even today, we split up went around the city. Ryuuga and I were together today.
“Elle isn’t here. Even after searching for this long, we still can’t find her…”
Dispirited, Ryuuga slouched and sighed.
Unfortunately for her, it’s natural that she wouldn’t be able to find Elmira. This is the opposite direction from Elmira’s apartment. It’s very painful not being able to tell that to her.
“Ryuga, why don’t we take a break? We’ve been walking for over an hour, right?”
“But, Elle’s still out there.”
“If we do find her, it’s likely going to be by chance anyways. Let’s wait for a bit, I’ll get you a drink from that vending machine over there. Coffee should be fine, right?”
I forcibly had her take a break. Despite how Ryuuga seems, she’s quite weak to pressure. Some time ago, she caved in to Taotie’s demands once and let him braid her hair.
We arrived at a small park next to some public housing. There was no playground equipment at all, but there was a small bench there.
Sitting down at the bench, I vigorously chugged my canned coffee. Meanwhile, Ryuuga held her can between her hands, taking small sips.
…There’s nobody around us, but I’d like for her to stop drinking in that woman-like manner. After all, she’s wearing a boys’ school uniform right now. This is a precious scene to spend with the male version of her.
“Come to think of it, how’s Kyouka’s state?”
I set aside my wishes and asked Ryuuga a question.
Though I said that I would come visit, I haven’t been able to yet due to some complicated matters. It’s been on my mind all the while.
“Oh, I think she’s gotten a lot better, but…it seems that it’s still hard for her to get up.”
“Is it okay to not be with her? Everyone else and I can continue searching for Elmira. Your parents aren’t home either, so you should give priority to Kyouka.”
“I know, but…”
“There’s a limit to how much Hundun can take care of her, right? That middle-aged man can’t leave Kyouka’s side. He won’t be able to prepare rice porridge or water.”
Unlike Taotie, Hundun cannot act separately from his host. He can’t keep his form if he’s even two or three meters away from Kyouka.
Taotie’s the only one with the ability to act outside of his host.
Instead, Hundun has the special ability to “open doors to the spirit world”, something that Taotie can’t do. Though, he’s extremely weak right now and can’t do that.
“I know…I suppose I’ll head back home after searching for another hour. Thanks for your concern, Ichirou.”
Good. Ryuuga should be more worried about her sister than about Elmira right now. Currently, I’m being forced to cover up for the vampire parent and child against my will.
(I’m supposed to show up at her apartment later today…she even told me to buy baby formula and baby milk…)
I made a hidden sigh while lamenting about my troublesome position.
Thereupon, a woman pushing a stroller passed along the park sidewalk.
I was startled for a moment, thinking that it could be Elmira, but calmed down after seeing that it was a normal lady. No wait, it would have been better if it was actually her.
“Oh, a baby. How cute.”
Unaware of what I was thinking, Ryuuga spoke to herself. She then lifted herself from the bench moved closer to me.
…No matter how you look at it, this isn’t the distance two guy friends would take. This is the distance a pair of lovers would take.
So, I lifted myself from my seat and secured the same distance as before.
“I wonder if I’ll be a mother one day…that would be nice…”
“I, I see. For that sake, you need to protect the world right now. You need to fight heroically.”
“Hey, do you want a boy or a girl, Ichirou?”
While I was unable to change the topic, Ryuuga didn’t stop herself from being a girl. Furthermore, she closed the distance again.
I slid away once again. Part of my rear is already beyond the edge of the bench.
“I want both. Or rather, I want many of them. I’d like a large family.”
…This is not good. The more this conversation keeps up, the stronger the marriage flag will grow.
Though, seeing Ryuuga speak so cheerfully makes me hesitant on ruining the mood. The matters regarding Elmira and Kyouka have both been wearing her down.
(It’s the duty of a friend character to care for the protagonist. However, if the topic of this conversation continues, that friend position will crumble away…what a dilemma.)
While I was struggling to come up with a reply, Ryuuga suddenly chuckled and laughed.
“W, what happened, Ryuga?”
“There’s no bench there, you know?”
While I was sliding away, I had unknowingly reached the point where there was nothing left to sit on. I was sitting with my legs crossed, taking a seat on a so-called invisible chair. If I may say, I do consider myself a dexterous guy. I’ve also got some good legs.
“Isn’t that posture painful?”
“W, well. I’ve had a lack of exercise lately. I’m just trying to train my legs.”
“Lack of exercise? We had that match with Getsushiyoukan a short while ago. You sure are an oddball, Ichirou. It’s a bit too late to say that though.”
“I, is that so? Then wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to have me as a simple friend rather than a boyfriend? Even if koalas look cute at the zoo, having one at home every day would irritate you──”
“Ahaha. Well, it’s about time to go.”
Not paying attention to what I said, Ryuuga got up.
I reluctantly got up from my invisible bench and walked towards to park’s exit. We went back to the vending machine from before and threw our empty cans into the trash.
“Ichirou, how about we gather information based on key information. Since Elle’s red hair stands out, there may be some people who’ve noticed her.”
“Alright, I understand.”
Seeing Ryuuga struggle so frantically with the search made my guilt grow stronger.
Why is that vampire girl so stubborn, making her companion worry so much? How long will she fuss over the honor of her blood relatives?
“…To tell the truth, I was the same as Rei──I fought against Elle on the day we first met.”
It happened right when our search resumed. Ryuuga suddenly muttered those words.
“I heard that the ‘Vermillion Bird’ came to Japan to carry out a mission, but…she thought that I was a dangerous supernatural person at first.”
“I do recall Elmira being a mysterious transfer student at first. Did she really not know about the Hinomori household despite being the ‘Vermillion Bird?'”
“It seems that she heard about it, but forgot. ‘Come to think of it, my granny said something about it,’ is what she told me.”
What a wild, noisy vampire.
It seems that “granny” refers to Elmira’s grandmother from Eastern Europe. I heard that she’s around a hundred years old, though she is also a vampire.
Also, It seems that Elmira is genuinely seventeen years old. I thought that she had been alive for several hundreds of years, but…it seems that a vampire’s lifespan is twice that of a human’s at best.
“During those days, I also couldn’t control the power of the ‘Dragon King’…and I didn’t know about vampires either, so I thought that Elle was an apostle for sure.”
It’s that cliche thing where a companion character fights against the main characters before joining them.
At first, I also made a big fuss when Elmira came in. I would speak frantically, taking a restless attitude. I’d like to go back to that position soon.
“Hey Ryuga, are you…angry at Elmira for disappearing without explaining anything?”
When I asked to make sure, Ryuuga responded immediately.
“I’m not angry, just worried. Even Rei and I have secrets to keep…so we just want to make sure that Elle is safe.”
“Is that so? How nice a bond between companions must be.”
“Of course, my bond with you is the closest, Ichirou. Rather than a bond, perhaps we’re tied together by fate?”
While saying that, Ryuuga once again closed the distance, just like she did at the bench.
She got close enough that we touched shoulders, and she clasped her pinky with mine. What part of this resembles a friendship?!
“Hey, you’re too close! We’re getting a lot of weird looks from the people around us!”
“We’re best friends, so it’s not like it’s weird, right? Don’t boys like physical contact? They often place an arm on each other’s shoulders.”
“That’s only when they’re staring at a sunset!”
“They even rub each others chests when playing around.”
“That’s only for chubby people!”
While trying to take a distance away from the clingy protagonist, I fell into a ditch on the roadside.
Afterwards, we ended our search when an hour had passed, just as planned, and we parted ways.
I quickly went to the supermarket, bought baby formula, baby powder, and some diapers while I was at it, and headed towards the apartment where Elmira waited.
Opening the door with the spare key she handed me, I heard Shizuma’s cries. Then, Elmira pulled me by the hand in a hurry.
“You’re late! Hurry, the baby formula!”
“You didn’t have any left? You shouldn’t be that negligent.”
…Afterwards, I took part in Elmira’s childcaring.
Taking care of a baby is harder than I thought. Furthermore, since we’re just two inexperienced high schoolers, there were a lot of things we failed at.
“Kobayashi Ichirou, prepare a baby bottle!”
“Make a funny face for the baby to laugh at!”
“Change the diaper!”
“Change the toilet air freshener!”
“Do that yourself!”
It was chaos the whole time. I felt like I became a father.
“*huff*…Things have quieted down for now. Kobayashi Ichirou, thanks for the great help.”
Thirty minutes later, we were comforted by the fact that Shizuma finally fell asleep.
“Shizuma is really energetic, and handsome as well…it’s almost like we share a resemblance.”
“I don’t see the resemblance…”
I should also mention that Shizuma’s a boy. He’s definitely a lively baby, one that laughs and cries often. Since his head stays still, it’s easy to cradle him.
(No matter how you look at it, he looks like a human baby…are apostles like this?)
I’d like to ask the three princesses, but that would require my current gag order to be removed. What a difficult affair.
“Though, I’m finally getting used to caring for a child. I think we would make a good mother and father.”
“Don’t just arbitrarily make me a part of your family!”
“Given the circumstances, I suppose a second child should be fine.”
“I don’t have to worry about money. Though not to the extent of the Shiori household, the McCartney family is quite rich. Up to about five people should be fine.”
“Don’t underestimate babies! I think Shizuma alone is already a lot to deal with!”
“Be quiet! You’ll wake Shizuma up!”
“You’re yelling as well!”
Seeing us bicker like a married couple made me want to cry.
I need to hurry and do something about this situation…or else I might grow attached to Shizuma as well.
“Hey, Elmira. You should still consult Ryuga and the others. It’s not going to work with just us alone.”
“How pushy, Kobayashi Ichirou. The apostles haven’t been attacking since the incident at the cemetery…so couldn’t it be that they gave up?”
“It’s too soon to know for sure. They could be waiting because of something related to Shizuma.”
“In any case, I want Ryuuga and the others to focus on fighting the ‘Evil Spirit’ Qiongqi. You and I shouldering Shizuma is enough.”
Why am I involved in this? I’m just a sub-character (I hope). I’m a non-combatant (I hope).
I also feel that the three princesses have recently been suspicious of me. The other day, I accidentally left behind a childcare book on my desk. “Complete Guide to Babies~Even You Can Become A Professional Caregiver Today” is what it was called.
(If I can’t consult Ryuga’s group or the three princesses, how about Tie? It should be fine since an ‘Evil Spirit’ and their vessel are one in body and soul. The problem is that he’s likely going to be useless…)
While thinking about such things, Shizuma began to let out a small groan.
“Oh my, what’s wrong, Shizuma? You’re a good child, so you’ll go to sleep, right?”
Elmira soon rushed over, speaking to Shizuma in a soft voice.
What happened to her being a mysterious, devilish character? She’s nothing like a person who would legitimately betray the main characters, wear a bondage outfit, and say “Hohohoho! Kneel before me!” while swinging a whip.
“Oh right. Let me read you a book.”
“No, he probably won’t understand it…”
“That doesn’t matter. What’s important is the sense of security gained from hearing the mother’s voice.”
Elmira, who still insisted on calling herself a “mother”, began reading out loud for some reason.
…Seeing her behaving that way makes them seem like a genuine parent and child. Though I didn’t expect it, it felt pleasant.
With the amount of affection he’s been getting, perhaps Shizuma won’t grow up to be a dangerous apostle.
“──And at that moment, Ryuuya shouted, ‘Jiro! I love you! More than anybody else in the world!’ Ryuuya then pushed down Jiro, forcibly using his lips──”
“Don’t read your own novels to him!”
I scolded the trashy vampire who was passionately reading a male love scene. The protagonists in this work were based off of Ryuuga and me.
I was afraid of Shizuma being raised into a dangerous apostle, though in a different sense.