Autumn has turned to winter, so Ioryogi reminds Kobato again that she doesn’t have much time left. The more immediate concern though is the debt collector loitering around outside the nursery, and it’s caused several parents to withdraw their kids. Kobato wants to go talk to him, and while Kiyokazu opposes the idea, Kobato does so anyway after talking to Doumoto who had come to deliver some Christmas decorations. Kobato tries to tell the guy how important the nursery is to everyone and gets him to leave for today, but as he’s doing so, he collapses in pain. Doumoto calls an ambulance, and it turns out that the guy has a case of appendicitis. Kobato and Doumoto accompany him to the hospital, staying until they know he’ll be okay, and Kobato even makes him an origami crane.
Kiyokazu meanwhile decides to call Okiura to tell him about this, but Okiura still cares more about the debt and suggests that Kiyokazu give up on the nursery. Kobato and Doumoto then return to the nursery, but Sayaka sends them home because they’ve been through enough today. Having seen that Kiyokazu wasn’t too happy, Kobato worries that she’s at fault, however Doumoto disagrees. He’s noticed that she worries about those around her and that she’s kind and tries her hardest, and he tells her that he likes girls like her. This cheers Kobato up, and she thanks him for his words. When the two reach her apartment building Doumoto starts to ask her to spend time with him on Christmas, but he’s interrupted by the arrival of Kiyokazu and never gets to finish asking.
Despite the fact that we can see that the seasons are passing by, setting up for a springtime finale, the actual pacing of the story is still a little on the slow side. I’m not thrilled that they keep spending so much time reminding us that the nursery is in trouble because it’d be more worthwhile to show the protagonists coming up with new ways to pay off the debt or settle things with Okiura. Of course if the sick debt collector ends up helping out or something because of Kobato’s kindness, then it’d be a different story, but there’s no guarantee that that’ll happen. I think the more important result of the sick debt collector stuff here was that Doumoto became more attached to or interested in Kobato, leading to his quasi-confession. It sets up a potential love triangle between him and Kiyokazu which could culminate as early as the Christmas storyline next week, though I still have a hard time seeing clueless Kobato end up with anyone, especially given her ultimate goal.