Chapter 4:

Episode 4- Lost Umbrella

My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]

April 27th, A Rainy Wednesday

I have a confession to make. I, Riku Sawai, am a thief. Everytime it rains, and I mean every time, I steal my bestfriend Daichi Saito’s umbrella. Now to be fair, I return it to his shoe locker once he has left school, but that doesn't change the facts.

You may wonder, why do you do this? He could catch a cold. However! Do you know how successful that flag works? You see, everytime I do this, one of the girls helps him home. It's perfect! Even the shy Saki steps up to help Daichi get home without freezing. The closeness is perfect, they bump shoulders, come close to holding hands, their lips get close. It's one push away from being enough to get a confession out of them.

With this all said, it was no surprise that I left our lunch group early to use the bathroom. In truth I was performing the perfect heist. You may think it is as easy as taking the umbrella out of the rack, but you see the school has guards. Well one but still! I had to sneak past him to get Daichi’s umbrella.

Mr Tanaka stood at the door, watching for any delinquents who would attempt to sneak off campus. Normally he was out by the front gate, but since it was raining and he had no security box he hid in the front doorway till school let out and he had to unlock the front gate.

I crouched low, looking around the corner, waiting for an opening. You see, I am a nice guy, so I bring Mr Tanaka a coffee everytime it rains for the good work he does. There are several magical effects that coffee has on someone's body, but the one we will discuss is what it does to the digestive system. Right on cue, a loud gurgling rang out thru the shoe locker area. Mr Tanaka quickly moved from the entrance, heading towards the bathroom. This was my chance!

“What are you doing, Sawai?” A voice said behind me.

I stiffened, eyes widening in horror. This was the worst possible outcome! I turned to look up at the president of the student council, Himiko Hara. Himiko was a stickler for the rules, her hair cut short and held by two twin clips around her sharp glasses. Somehow she made the school uniform look way more professional than anyone else, the suit was designed for her. Her face was sharp like a hawks, and her eyes matched with a glare.

I stood straight up. “Hello Himiko.” I said quickly, avoiding her gaze.

“It's Hara.” Himiko said sternly. “We went over this.”

“Right, sorry.” I said sharply. “I just figured we were on good enough terms to go by first names.”

“Did I not call you Sawai?” She said, her face firm.

“You did.” I responded.

“Then based on that you should have realized your assessment was incorrect.” Hara-san said.

“Right, sorry Hara-Kun.” I said, pushing her buttons.

If looks could kill i'd have died on sight. “President Hara.” Himiko said angrily. “Not Kun, not Himiko, not to you that is.”

“Right, I'm sorry.” I said quickly, throwing my body down into a bow of apology.

“Now, what are you doing?” Himiko-Kun asked. Hey, it's my narration. I can do what I want. Watch. Now Himiko was dressed in a cute dog onesie. The ears were super floppy on her head, and it had paw gloves.

“I'm uh, doing nothing.” I said, avoiding her eyes suspiciously. It's because of the dog outfit I swear.

InuHara glared at me, she took notice of my not suspicious response. “Were you planning on sneaking out of school?”

“Me? Never!” I said quickly.

“True, your record is clean of truancy and any such act.” InuHara said.

“You went through my record?” I asked.

“The school allowed it.” InuHara said with a nod, making her dog ears flop around.

“But, why?” I asked, confused.

She sighed. “The school has asked me to speak with you, so I went to your class and they said you had left.”

I felt sweat drip down my head. “Speak with me about what.”

“Perhaps we can speak somewhere more privately, would you come with me?” InuHara asked, waving a hand towards where I knew the student council room was.

I looked at the umbrella rack and grinded my teeth. “Okay, sure, can you sign me a pass back to class when we are done?”

“Of course.” She said and began to walk. Her dog tail wagged as we walked.

The student council room had a reputation as being terrifying to anyone who was sitting inside the U shape of tables they had set up. They were correct. The room was quiet, just the two of us. My school file was opened in front of InuHara, who looked over several pages.

“Riku Sawai, third year, only child, went to KoiKoi Middle school, placed five hundred and twenty one out of two thousand on the entrance exams, has slightly above average grades, never late or absent in his two years here.” InuHara said.

“That is me, you know we have talked before, no need to be so formal.” I said. It was true, we had a class in our first year of school where we ended up working together whenever Daichi got pulled away by one of the girls.

“You are correct.” InuHara said, still flipping through my file. “Right here it says the school counselor has had no luck on learning about your future prospects. Why is that?”

“I don't know, I just don't have an answer when they ask.” I said truthfully.

InuHara nodded her head. “I see, and what about now?”

I looked away from her.

“I figured as much.” InuHara said with a sigh. “The school worries, you're an excellent student, a model one some might say, so they worry about why you have no plans for the future.”

Keiro High school was my first choice of school but I was very conflicted on coming here instead of a different school. Daichi was the one who finally convinced me when he said he wanted to go too. It is a good school with lots of scholarship opportunities, but I had no real reason to come other than convenience and the fact it was a good school. Yes, I performed well academically but why did the school really care about what I planned to do after?

“I apologize for making them worry.” I said, bowing my head. Crap my head was feeling off. When I lifted it InuHara looked at me with soft, worried eyes.

“Riku.” InuHara said, a sense of worry in her voice. “Don't you know what you are going to do in the future?”

It didn't matter. I was just a side character in Daichi’s story. Crap my head was going to dark places huh.

“I just don't know what I want to do yet.” I said, I looked at the floor. I couldn't look at Himiko’s face.

“You have been a part of the literature club since your first year.” Himiko said, I heard her flipping through the papers. I didn't see it on account of the tiles of the floor being so interesting. “Have you not considered having a career in that field?”

“Not quite.” I said coldly. “I just enjoy reading and talking about stories with people.”

Himiko was silent for a moment. “Is there any activities you are passionate about? If so, maybe a career in that?’

I felt hot in the face. “What about you? What are you doing after graduation?”

“This is not about me.” Himiko responded. “However, to answer your question, I am going for teaching, I will be attending university in the city on the school’s scholarship.”

“How did you decide to do that?” I asked. My body felt cold, but my face was hot.

“I enjoy it.” Himiko said, I chanced a glance up at her as she pushed her hair back over her hair. Her features felt so soft now, even her uniform felt kind all of a sudden. “I had amazing teachers that inspired me to be the best I could be, and I want to be that for others.”

“I see.” I said, looking back at my shoes.

“Riku.” Himiko said softly. “If you need assistance with anything please ask. The school and I are willing to help you however we can.”

I felt myself grinding my teeth. I took in a deep breath. “Thank you.” I said, getting to my feet. “May I leave?”

Himiko looked at me, concern staring me in the eyes. This wasn't Himiko Hara, who was this nice lady? “Yes, Let me write you a pass.”

I sulked through the halls. The rain came down in a sheet outside, creating a haze over the town outside. This sucked. I sat behind the stairs on the first floor and pulled out my phone. This was a common hiding place that most knew about, I was glad it was empty.

‘Hey Kioko, how did you decide that you wanted to do art for a living?’ I texted to the racoon imaged. A response came quickly, maybe they were on lunch break?

‘It was something I loved to do, so its what I decided to do. Why do you ask?’

‘Just curious, sorry for the random question.’ I replied.

I got to my feet, I should get back to class. As I began to walk I got another text. ‘Don't be sorry, Ask whatever question you want. I'm all ears when you need me’.

I slapped away the haze in my head and made my way back to class. I gave the note to the teacher and took my seat in front of Daichi. Shit I forgot the umbrella.

During the next break I went to wander the halls. Daichi chased after me, making it hard for me to sneak off and take the umbrella.

“What happened?” Daichi asked.

“Student council had a question for me.” I responded.

“Is that why Himiko Hara is following us?” Daichi asked, looking behind us.

I spun on my heels, there she was. Her face was stern as ever, and she carried a clip board that she was jotting notes on. Why was she here?

“Hello Sawai, and Saito as well hello.” She said, approaching us. I caught sight of Aoi and Saki watching from their classroom door. Maeko was at our door, and Toshi was somewhere i'm sure.

“Are you following me?” I asked.

“Not at all.” Himiko said. “What makes you believe such a thing?”

Crap, people were watching now. It felt like a confrontation. Daichi run while you can! Wait, no this situation was bad. Himiko had evaded Daichi’s attraction ability for the last two years, but this may cause its effects to hit her. I must get Daichi away.

“Mr Saito.” Himiko asked as I was beginning to turn. It was too late, she was enraptured. “You are friends with Mr Sawai correct?”

“Yes ma’am.” Daichi said casually as if he was unaware of his powers.

“I wish to talk with you in private, is that alright?” Himiko asked.

“Of course.” Daichi said, following Himiko away. He turned to me and shrugged. The hall was silent.

Daichi returned for the last period and looked down while he took his seat. What happened? When the bell rang to end the day I turned to Daichi before he could leave and confronted him.

“Oh she just asked me some stuff. Don't worry about it.” Daichi said. He got up to leave.

I didn't follow, I just sat there. Poor Himiko, she got in to late to the game, she had no chance. As Daichi began to walk away I heard Maeko speak up.

“Hey, where is my umbrella?” Maeko said, digging into her bag.

Daichi turned to her. “Didn't you leave it on the umbrella rack?” He asked.

“I got a ride here so I didn't need to use it. I have to walk home today though, I swear I had it in here.” Maeko said, frantically pulling out the makeup from her bag. Who needed that much brand name product!

“If my umbrella is still there I'll walk you.” Daichi said.

Maeko stopped searching suddenly. She put away her stuff quickly and got to her feet. “Very well, I shall allow you to walk me home. Be honored”

Daichi laughed. “I am very honored, Lady Fueki. Riku go on without me okay?”

I nodded as they left. I sat at my desk and watched them walk home under Daichi’s underutilized umbrella. I just sat there, till the crowd thinned. My standard rainy day routine. Normally I tell Daichi that I had to do something after school so he didn't wait for me, but not today. He didn't need me to do that. Maybe today will be the day he finally realizes his feelings. What if him and Maeko start dating today, what then.

I would be happy for him of course. But, what then? Is that where the story ends? I sighed and laid my head on my desk.

Eventually I got up and began to head home. I arrived at my shoe locker and slipped into my outside shoes. I picked up my umbrella and turned to leave, and there was Himiko Hara.

She stood cross armed, an umbrella in one hand. She scowled at me as I pulled my umbrella free.

“About time.” Himiko said.

“What?” I questioned.

“I said it was about time.” Himiko said, tapping her foot impatiently. “I waited here, and you waited till everyone else left to leave. Why is that? Were you studying? No, not enough time for that, what then?”

“Why are you waiting for me?” I asked.

“Because I have something to discuss with you, shall we go?” She moved towards the door, opening her umbrella outside and stepping below it.

I stood in shock for a moment. “What.”

The walk was awkward to be general. Himiko stayed a decent distance from me, but every now and then our umbrellas would bump into each other. The rain was coming down in a sheet now, making visibility low.

“Look, I know what you want.” I said.

“Oh do you?” Himiko said, turning her head towards me.

“You want me to pick my career path, but I just dont know it yet.” I stated.

Himiko looked forward without answering. There was a moment of silence before she spoke again. “You see those sakura trees?” She said, pointing towards the cherry blossoms.

“Yeah?” I said cautiously.

“People say spring is the time of cherry blossoms, but they never show them in the rain like this. It's hard to take in their beauty with all this rain don't you think?” Himiko said.

“It is hard to see them, yes.” I said.

She was silent for a moment. She was looking at the tree with a longing in her eyes. Suddenly she shook herself and turned sharply towards me.

“I do not want to force you just yet.” Himiko said sharply. “However, I also don't want to leave you alone to do this alone. As such I would like to work with you. Let's work together to find your future path.”

Was she serious? Based on that determined look in her eyes she was. “I'm sorry but I don't think that is a good idea.” I said, breaking eye contact.

Himiko pouted, puffing out her cheeks. “I understand. But you should consider my offer, I want to help you.”

I spoke without thinking. “Cause the school wants you too? For some weird satisfaction? Why bother helping me?” I said, glaring down at the wet concrete.

Himiko paused before she responded. “Do you remember our first year? We had a class together.” She said. I nodded in understanding. “Good. you see, in middle school I wasn't the most social person. I struggled with people, I just couldn't understand them at all. I was an outcast.” She kept the look of confidence as she spoke, it was almost as if she was speaking about someone else.

“I met this teacher.” Himiko continued. “She helped me discover my passion for education. Helped me develop good study habits and build confidence in myself. I made friends at that school, and I started learning more. Then high school started.” She paused for a breath. “I came to this school because of its scholarship opportunities, the problem was that my friends didn't get into it. So I was alone.”

It was sad, but that is what happened. Daichi, Aoi, and I were lucky to go to the same school, most others have to go their separate ways.

“Once again, I was back in that shell.” Himiko said. “Then our teacher started assigning projects in pairs. I wasn't anyone's first pick, I was intimidating to them. However, I worked with someone who didn't worry about that, he was nice to me and helped me break out of my shell again. We weren't close friends, more like acquaintances. And over the next two years we would say hi in the halls and make small talk. Then I found out from a counselor that the person who helped me get out of my self made shell was struggling. I wanted to help him in any way I could. Maybe i'm doing it for self satisfaction, maybe I'm just being selfish. However, does that matter? I am wanting to help you, all I ask is that you let me.”

I held still for a moment. “I'm not worth the trouble.” I said, my voice a whisper.

“That sounds like an excuse.” Himiko stated. “And you are worth the trouble.”

“There are others worth the time more, like Daichi. You were talking to him about his future too weren't you.” I stated coldly.

“Incorrect.” Himiko stated. “I asked Saito about you. I was hoping he had an idea of your future plans, yet even he said he didnt know.”

I dug my nails into my palms, even Daichi knew.

“However, he had many positive things to say about you.” Himiko stated. “Things like, ‘He is good at anything he does, so im sure he will find his path when he wants to.’ and things like that. He is quite confident in you, though he also worries about your future prospects.”

Daichi, you idiot. Worry about yourself.

“Did you know that you placed in the top fifty on last year's finals?” Himiko stated. “It is quite good, you clearly have the skills to excel at whatever field you choose, so what is holding you back?”

I didn't answer. I just listened to the rain fall. Himiko sighed.

“I would like to talk about this more in the future.” Himiko said. “Please, if you need any help, ask. I will assist you.”

My mind was moving into a haze as Himiko walked away. When she vanished into the sheet of rain I dropped the umbrella. The rain was cold, and it soaked me in seconds. My bag was waterproof so I wasn't worried about my belongings. I just simply wanted to be cold.

I found the foot bridge and stared down at the rippling water. The loser in the water had his face distorted by the constant rain. How pathetic, he couldn't even pick his own future. What kind of idiot doesn't know that? Daichi knew, he didn't know that he knew, but he knew.

Toshi would go to school for softball. Saki talked about working as a translator for novels. Aoi wanted to get into botany. Maeko was going into business to take over for her father one day. What about stupid, worthless Riku?

He would just waste away. Who cared? He was just a side character, the friend to the protagonist. His story didn't matter, it was Daichi’s that mattered. At some point the rain on my face became a mix of icy cold, and lukewarm.

Even Kioko had a plan. Wasn't she like me? How was she so sure about art? I bit my lip, I knew why. She had the talent, the passion, it made sense she would go into that field, but what about me? What was I passionate about? What were my skills?

I didn't have any answers. I simply had this moment. I just stood there for far too long. The wind blew my umbrella away. By the time I got home I was soaked to the bone.

The heat from the heater was refreshing. I had to take some vitamins and immune system boosters to avoid a cold. Laying on my bed, I began to think. I needed to figure this out. Who is Riku Sawai and what does he want? The haze was clearing in my mind, I could figure this out right? It was a puzzle that's all. I sighed, knowing full well it was a difficult question to ask oneself.

My phone dinged, a text message. ‘I hope you find the answers you are looking for!’ it was from Kioko, did she know? Either way, it was nice to hear from her. I needed to figure this out. What future do I want?

Wooo! It's Toshi here! I'm doing the next episode preview sweet! Physical Education is the time when people compete physically! A rival comes to challenge Daichi! But why is he challenging Daichi anyways? Anyways! Next time, Rivals Emerge!