Chapter 3:

Episode 3- Gaming

My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]

April 18th, Monday…

I awoke similarly to every other day, far too early for a normal student's liking. I sent Daichi a text, setting my plan for today in motion. My, can I say the brand? Well I will just call it a Switch and should there be legal issues in the adaptation the studio can call it a Lever. Anyways I packed my Switch into my bag and went to make breakfast.

Standard Rom Com affairs happened, Aoi rushing into Daichi, Saki watching from afar, and Toshi doing a morning jog (There was no practice today for some reason). Maeko made a surprising appearance this morning, she was followed by a large group of men. I should explain, Maeko is revered in this school as a goddess to the Weebs. As such they follow her and call her things like Mistress, Queen, Mommy, weird things like that. You would think people would hide their fetishes better? Also how do they make their eyes into giant pulsing cartoon hearts?

Maeko didn't stop to talk, though she gave Daichi a surprised, flushed look. This look gave her followers reason to throw glares at Daichi. I wish they would stop that, luckily nothing had escalated from those glares the last two years. Hell her group seemed to decrease, maybe they were finally realizing they had no chance until Daichi got with someone else. Would Maeko even move on if Daichi started dating someone else?

I hated the endings where it is implied the other girls just wait around in case the couple breaks up. I prefer it when they move on and be happy with others. Love doesn't have to be just one person, you can find love elsewhere.

Anyways, morning lectures were long and dull, and things were quiet. I used a small mirror to sneak glances back at Maeko and Daichi, she was throwing him looks every now and then. I sighed and went back to studying.

Finally lunch time came. As soon as the teacher closed the door behind them I spun my chair around to face Daichi. Daichi’s eyes moved away from staring out the window, as he tended to do, and locked on me.

“You bring your switch?” I said, pulling mine out from my bag.

“Yeah, of course.” Diachi said, pulling his out. He had a standard Lite version of the console, handheld only. I had a limited edition one, it was for the game we were about to play.

“Great, let's hunt a little.” I said, loading up the game that I wont specify the name of. Just know, it's about Hunting Monsters.

We did a warm up hunt, took us only two minutes thanks to our current builds. I enjoyed this weapon that switches between two different forms. Daichi’s was the starting weapon from a previous game, one that used a sword and a shield. The perfect protagonist weapon for him. He was about critical damage, while I went harder in elemental damage. Thanks to my build it took me a bit before each hunt to make sure I was ready for whatever element we faced.

Daichi and I love playing this game, it was a big hobby of ours. Even last night we played for about an hour before Daichi remembered he had homework that he didn't do. I am honestly surprised I hadn't thought about trying this tactic before. With our first hunt done I flashed a look to the left, then leaned towards Daichi.

“Hey can I see your haul?” I said, pulling his Switch free of his grasp suddenly. If I had done it a second later it would have been too late. Toshi flew through the air backwards as if she was thrown. She slammed into Daichi and I watched his hands jerk towards the randomly opened window. His console would have flown out of there and shattered on the concrete or picked up by a bird or some other strange event. I saw possible potential Rom Com antics from any of those possibilities but I preferred no one get upset, plus I don't want Daichi to lose his progress in the game.

“I'm sorry Daichi.” Toshi said, somehow she was not facing him, her bust pressed into his face. She backed up and rubbed the back of her head with her hand innocently. I did not know how this event occurred, but I did notice a pencil rolling on the floor from where Toshi had flown from. Daichi’s reality bending powers were incredible.

“It's no problem.” Daichi said as if he hadn't almost been suffocated by bust, an almost perfect way to go in my opinion. I wonder if that would count as manslaughter? Would any jury even convict her?

Aoi and Saki appeared from behind Toshi. Okay they walked in with Toshi before she did whatever she did, I just didn't quite notice on account of the projectile missile that was our sports star. They pulled up a seat around Maeko’s desk and began to eat their food. It was a good time, just gotta wait for an opening.

“Oh hey.” Toshi said. She had taken a seat around Maeko’s desk as well. “Riku, do you know what happened to Kioko yesterday? We were walking home and were talking about stuff, then she randomly ran off.”

“Oh yeah she came to talk to me.” I said, looking at the quest board in game and sneaking pieces of meat in my mouth from my bento box.

“What about?” Aoi questioned. From the corner of my eye I could see them looking at me.

“Oh she just wanted my phone number.” I said, finding the right quest and setting it up.

Why were their eyes so wide suddenly? Come on take the bait!

“I'm glad you two are getting along so well.” Maeko said. Why was she acting nice all of a sudden?

“Oh I have an idea!” Toshi said, pulling her phone out of nowhere. Seriously, she was in a skirt with no bag in sight, where did the phone come from? My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I heard everyone else's as well. “There, I made a group chat for all of us! Next time we all hang out we can plan there. Oh and I sent the photo we took there too.”

What photo? I pulled out my phone and opened the text, everyone was in there. The photo was from Karaoke, Toshi took it and everyone was posing towards the camera, except me and Kioko. We both were singing our duet in the back, I looked like an idiot. I liked it though, I didn't take many photos of myself so it was nice to have something. It also was nice that it made things feel a little more normal. Just people hanging out together.

A message appeared. It was from Kioko. ‘The picture is so cute! Thanks for taking it Toshi!’. I gave a small smile at the message. I realized I hadn't set a photo for Kioko’s number, so I quickly searched for a cute raccoon and put it on her account. I didn't have actual pictures of anyone, just random images I associated with them.

For reference later. Saki, a stack of books. Aoi, Sunflower. Maeko, angry cat. Toshi, softball on grass. Daichi actually had a photo of himself from when we were kids.

Daichi accepted the quest and we began to play. We both shut out the noise around us and did our calls. We worked in a strange sync that was hard to explain. I said trap and Daichi set it up in the perfect place. Daichi said Flash and I hit it a millisecond later, saving his ass. This was the type of teamwork you develop from working together for many years. This monster took a little longer to hunt since it was the first time we tried it, but we got it pretty fast.

“What are you guys doing over there?” Maeko questioned.


I turned to them, lifting my switch. “This? It's called” Again, removing the name. Hunting Monsters though. “It's a fun game about Hunting Monsters.” I said.

“Seems stupid.” Maeko said unimpressed.

“To each their own.” I said, turning back to look at my haul, oh a rare gem! “The game is fun, and it supports up to four players per hunt. It's a great way to interact with people.”

A wave of realization washed over the four of them. Lunch ended quickly after that, and in between classes I went for a brief walk to get a juice for me and Daichi. I expected the abduction of course.

“Riku!” Aoi said sharply.

“That is my name.” I responded. I was pressed against the wall atop the stairs to the roof. This was a usual hiding place for people that wanted no one to see them.

“Which game are you guys playing?” Aoi asked.

Aoi used to play with us a while back. She liked playing with a Bow and Arrow. She got busy with other things and moved away from it for a long time, though she still played games with us every now and then.

“Height.” I said, listing the latest game of the Hunting Monster series.

“Okay gotcha.” Aoi said and began to walk away, she could have just asked me in the hall.

“There is a store that has a sale on them.” I called after her. “I'll text it to ya.” and she was gone.

School ended, and my club activities ended early. I found myself free for a little while. Daichi would be waiting for me out front in a little bit, but I decided to shoot him a text and let him know I was heading home alone. Daichi is not a part of a club anymore, he just stays after to study. He doesn't study in the library, but on the roof.

I did a mental checklist to see who would still be here. Aoi’s club, the gardening club, let out a bit ago. Saki did not have library duty today so she was probably home already. Maeko rarely stayed after school so she was gone. Toshi had practice, so if there was going to be an encounter for Daichi it would be with her. Good luck buddy.

I walked back towards my house until I found myself on a small footbridge staring down into the water. It was spring now, so the air felt refreshing on my face. I inhaled it as I stared into my reflection. Why did I look so bummed out?

“Riku?” I heard a voice say to me. I looked up sharply and faced the source of the voice.

It was Kioko. She was sitting on a bike with one foot on the ground for stability. She wore her school uniform, a black collared overshirt with a white undershirt and black tie, as well as a black skirt with a red seam. Her hair was pulled to the side with a clip to stop it from falling into her brown eyes.

“Oh.” I said, straightening my face up. “Hey Kioko, what are you doing over here?”

“Toshi asked me to go shopping with her.” Kioko said, pulling out her raccoon phone. “Said she needed to get something important tonight.”

“Oh it's probably Hunting Monster Height.” I said, leaning against the railing of the bridge. “She saw Daichi and me playing it earlier so she is going to get it to play with us.”

“A good plan.” Kioko said. “Gives her a reason to talk to him and learn his interests, while also not making it too intimate since you would play too.”

“Yeah, though the others will be doing the same thing.” I said casually. “And it only supports up to four, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.” I paused for a moment. “Isn't Meio academy on the other side of town?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I rode my bike so it wasn't too bad.” Kioko said, ringing the bell on her bike. Who had bells on their bikes these days? I noticed the bike had a back seat for someone else to ride on it, though currently it just had her school bag strapped in.

“But aren't club activities required at those girls' schools?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, I'm a part of the Art club. But we don't meet on mondays.” Kioko said.

“Oh right, you like to draw right?” I questioned.

She nodded. “Want to see?”

“Yah sure.” I approached her as she opened her bag to reveal a sketch pad. She flipped the page to a drawing of a flower pot. Why did it look oddly familiar? I have to say, I'm not the most artistic person but It looked great! The shading of the light was incredible, you could tell the sun was setting even though the sun and landscape were not in sight. The flowers were drawn perfectly, and you could tell their spacing as if it was a third dimensional picture.

“What do you think?” She asked, looking it over. “I drew it on Saturday.”

“It looks really good!” I said, looking at it in amazement. “You got some talent!”

Kioko stiffened for a moment. “Thank you.” She said, her left foot nudging at her right one. “I did it over at Aoi’s house.”

That was how it looked familiar! Aoi grew those flowers last year and took really good care of them. She was so proud of them that she called Daichi and I over to look at them.

“Oh that means you were by my house.” I said. My mind was so surprised that I didn't realize the connection sooner.

“I guess so.” Kioko said. “Aoi did say that she had two guy friends living nearby. Maybe we passed by each other at some point.”

“Town isn't that big, i'm sure we walked past each other at some point.” I said, taking in the way she blended the lines to make objects look like they had depthed. “How did you do the shading?”

“Oh this?” She asked, pointing to the side of the pot that I was looking at. “I used a nub, I have one that is shaped like a pencil so I can get more exact detail. I have other tools that help with doing the shading but I found this was the better way for this. Oh and if you look here I got this effect by lightening up on the pressure while I shaded it. Oh and you can see here is where I used the line of the pot to get the shading, you can see that I drew over this line a few times to get myself enough lead to work with. Shading is really fun but some people go way overboard with it.”

“That's incredible!” I said, my eyes widening with the information. “You did something similar with the flowers right? That's why they look so full?”

“The flowers needed a bit more attention.” Kioko said, waving her finger towards the flower. She didn't touch the paper to avoid the lead wearing off. “For the pot I just followed the flow of the pot, but the flowers I needed to take into account the way it bended. Like here you can see the flower has a seam in the middle and then it's like the leaf arcs out, so I had to capture the arc while taking the light into account. If I shaded it too dark it would look like a shadow from the light, so I had to lighten up on it to the point where you can barely see the shading.”

She spoke so passionately about art, it was incredible. I just watched as she went on about every aspect of it. Suddenly she stopped as a ringtone played. Kioko broke away from her speech about pencil types and how she uses them. She pulled out her racoon phone and I watched her bright face fade slightly. She answered and spoke into the phone.

“Hey Toshi, sorry I ran into Riku and we were talking.” Kioko said. She paused for Toshi to reply, then quickly moved the phone away from where I could hear. “No its not like that, i'll be there soon okay! You dont need to go alone jeez.” She hung up the phone and took a deep breath.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

Kioko straightened again, turning towards me and giving a smile. “Yep no problem, just running a little behind to get Toshi.”

I thought for a moment before I responded. “Is everything okay with you and Toshi?” I asked.

Kioko turned her head confused. “Yeah why do you ask?”

“Well it's just that.” I began, turning my head down and scratching the back of my neck. “When you saw her call it was like the joy faded from your face.”

Kioko looked shocked as I looked up. “You noticed that?” she said, surprised.

“Yeah.” I said, feeling a little awkward for bringing it up.

Kioko began to laugh. “It's nothing like that” She held her stomach as she laughed, was it that funny? “Its just that I realized I had to go get her.” She straightened up, a smile on her face as she looked at me. “I was enjoying talking to you about my art.”

I felt my face get hot. Was I getting sick all of a sudden? “Well, I enjoyed hearing about it too. I dont know alot about art, but if you want to talk about it again sometime let me know, i'd be happy to talk about it.”

Kioko’s lips parted a bit, a little space showing on her stunned face. It took a second before she fixed it and turned it back into a smile. “I'd love it.” She said, then quickly put her drawing pad away. “I want to learn to draw people.” She stated as she made sure her bag was attached. “I'm good at objects but not people, so I am wanting to learn that better.”

“Really? With your skills I thought it would be easy.” I joked. “Well if you need a model I can help.”

She stiffened suddenly as if a cold blew thru. “Thank you.” She said, then got back onto her bike. “Ill see you later.” She said, waving me farewell. I returned the wave with a ‘I hope so.’ and like that, she was gone.

I walked more, deciding to take the long way home. Then I spotted it, a sight so rare it was considered a good luck charm. Saki was walking alone, no Daichi around. Normally Saki headed straight home after she left the school, but it seemed she was coming from a shopping area. She still wore her uniform and held a paper bag with a game store logo on it.

“Hey Yoshikawa!” I called out.

Saki also had a case of ice on the back of the neck and stiffened suddenly. She turned towards me, jittering the whole way. Saki looked terrified, she didn't like people confronting her outside her comfort zones. When she saw me she relaxed a little.

“Hi there Sawai.” Saki said. She held her school bag and game tightly to her chest as if should she let go she would float off into the sky.

“You heading home?” I asked. We didn't live near each other but we had a few spots of cross over.

She nodded up and down. Saki still wasn't the most comfortable with me. Even amongst the girls she was more reserved, with Daichi she seemed a lot better though. I figure its because of Daichi’s generally patient personality.

“You go shopping?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said shyly. She was the definition of a cinnamon roll. She needed to stop talking short with me though.

“What you get?” I asked.

Saki paused, looking down at the bag with the game hidden inside. Smart girl, she bought it from the store that was having a sale on it. Her eyes met mine, and then she sprinted off. Some might say things like ‘oh she acted like that because she was infatuated with you’ but that is untrue. You see, Saki is not a people person. She acted like that with everyone, even Daichi if you catch her in the wrong mood.

I accepted my four leaf clover and decided to continue my walk. The rest of the walk was uneventful, I arrived home and got my school work done. My mom made dinner which I downed and began brainstorming ideas for different encounters till I went to bed at a healthy hour.

April 19th, A sunny Tuesday.

I expected things to go a tad differently. When lunch hit we had a few minutes before the others arrived, and Maeko took advantage of it. She stood over Daichi and I, a device presented in front of us both.

“I see you both brought your little games.” Maeko said all high and mighty. “I will allow you to play with me, I tried it and enjoyed myself so you can join me.”

My heart hurt.

“Um Fueki.” Daichi said, his voice a little shaky. “That is a Psp.”

“Yes it is!” Maeko said proudly, there was a twinkle in her eye. “I had my servant find it for me, he said it was the best one he could find.”

Maeko was rich if I hadn't mentioned that before. At this point my head was in my hands.

“Well, you see.” Daichi tried to explain. “Hunting Monster Height is on the Switch, the only one for Psp is Unchained, which does not connect with our games.”

It was like glass shattered as Maeko’s pride changed to defeat. She spent the rest of the lunch on her outdated device sulking.

The other girls arrived, all showing off their devices. Aoi had her Switch with yellow and green controllers. Toshi had a plain Lite version with sky blue. Saki’s was the standard model with black controllers.

“Oh but we only can have four per quest.” Daichi said defeated.

I was prepared for this, which is why I didn't bring out my Switch yet. “That's okay, I forgot mine at home.” I lied.

Daichi looked a little bummed. “That's not like you.”

“I had it charging in the living room and forgot to grab it.” I said with a stupid smile.

“Okay.” Daichi said, still looking bummed. “Let's play then, Riku come watch at least.” I did, it was nice. Toshi took the hammer, and Saki had the duel swords. It was funny to see how bad those two were since they had little experience in the game. Aoi and Daichi carried them through their early quests. Daichi purposely avoided fighting since he could kill the monsters far too easily if he actually tried.

It felt like some progress was made. Maeko watched Saki’s screen from a distance, trying to act as if she wasn't interested. Saki and Toshi kept asking for advice on how to get the hang of the game. Aoi was joking and doing stupid moved to show off. I was laughing the whole while.

I walked home with Daichi after school. I had found him with Maeko, the two in an embrace that was triggered by some godly force pushing them together before I came around the corner.

“That was fun today.” Daichi laughed, he was talking about the games.

“Yeah, you should play with them more.” I said.

“We should.” Daichi corrected. “Though it's a little sad.”

“Why is it sad?” I asked.

Daichi looked up at the setting sun. “Well, that game is our thing. Its just a little sad to have people invading that space ya know?”

I stopped in my tracks. “What do you mean? Aoi played with us for a while.”

Daichi stopped and turned towards me. “Yeah, but she lost interest. Even when she played she wasn't into it like we are. She is fun but I enjoy the way we play together.”

I stared in disbelief. “I thought you would have liked to play with them more.”

“I do enjoy it.” He said, turning away from me. “Its fun with friends, but I still enjoy when just you and me play.”

“Sounds like you got a crush on me Daichi.” I said, hurrying to his side and elbowing him. “What you say? We get married, have three, no four kids. We could settle on a little island off the coast, you be a doctor and i'll be a teacher. We grow old and complain about how kids these days have it so easy and complain about joint problems.”

“Oh shut it.” Daichi said, elbowing me back. “I'm not into you in that way.”

“Good, I only swing one way.” I said. We both talked on and on. Suddenly I got a text. It was from Kioko, just a picture she drew in her art club of a tree outside her school. ‘Hows this look?’ she texted a minute later.

“Woh.” Daichi said, looking at my phone. “She texts you now?”

“Yeah, we talked about her art yesterday, she's talented.” I said, looking over the details of the tree. Is there fruit growing in it?

Daichi smiled at me. “I'm glad.” he said with no context. We eventually got home and split off. I ended up texting Kioko about her art. She wasn't very good at articulating how she felt over text so I told her to tell me about it next time I saw her. She asked when that would be, so I said we should all hang out soon. She agreed then asked about how it went today with everyone. We talked until I had to do my homework and go to bed. It was nice talking to her, I enjoyed it like when I talked to Daichi.

Hey everyone! Daichi here for the next episode preview! It's spring so of course it's bound to rain, though whenever it does my umbrella seems to go missing. Luckily someone always has one to share and the next day I'll find my umbrella in my shoe locker! Next time, Lost Umbrella, be there!