Chapter 5:

Episode 5- Rivals Emerge

My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]

May 3rd, A sunny Tuesday.

You gotta love days like today. Bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky! Days like today I normally would sit back and relax. I say that as if I wasn't relaxing already, but I am. No plans, no schemes, just loving the weather. Being next to the window made it so easy to enjoy this day. The teacher even let us crack the window, just perfect.

Class went on break, we would be having Physical Education today. Since it was so nice out we could actually do things outside instead of in the gym. The girls grabbed their bags and began to move out of the class. The guys would change in this classroom and the girls would change in class 3-F, the class we were doing P.E with.

3-F, that was Toshi’s class, but why did I have this weird feeling? As the other class began to pile in Daichi and I began to close the curtains to the room. It was far darker in the room now, though not dark per say. Just lit by the fluorescent bulbs.

“Saito!” A voice yelled out, male, and familiar.

Right, 3-F. It was Toshi’s class, and the Rom Com gods were ruthless. Daichi and I turned to see Ren Kudo standing near the doorway, his gym uniform under his arms. Ren had bright red hair that was lifted to look like flames (He used a lot of gel to make that happen) and bright orange eyes (They weren't contacts, just a strange birth defect that no one talked about) all of which was hereditary, on account of his whole family looking similar.

“Oh hey Ren.” Daichi said nervously. I didnt interject just yet, I liked to see this.

“Today is the day I defeat you!” Ren yelled out, coming over to us.

"Oh, sure?” Daichi said. He still had no clue he was competing with Ren. then again how could he, Daichi was oblivious.

“First contest!” Ren yelled out. “Who changes the fastests! Ready! Go!”

I felt very uncomfortable as I took my shirt off to put my gym shirt over it.

“Damn.” Daichi said, changing his shirt as well. “You got abs now Riku?”

I looked down, oh yeah I did. I do general work outs to keep up my shape, but I do a bit more sit ups cause I don't like having a large stomach. I guess that just led to me getting some abs, not like washboard one's mind you. Also if you wondered, Daichi doesn't work out much, so he was flat. Oh hey Ren already had his shirt on, oh and there goes his pants. Oh god please slow down! I don't want to see your junk!

I began to change my pants. “You know if you put some effort into it you could get some abs too Daichi.” I said, avoiding making contact with anyone else as we went down to boxers.

“I should.” Daichi laughed. “It's just so much work.”

“Lazy ass.” I said with a laugh. “Just an hour a night is enough.”

“Done!” Ren yelled out. He stood, his clothes laying a little off on his body but they were on. “I won the first round Daichi!”

“Oh okay.” Daichi said. He wasn't really participating.

“Hey Ren.” I said casually.

Ren faced me, his face so full of energy. “Hey Riku!”

So funny story, Ren is a friend of mine as well. Were not as close as Daichi and I, but still close. The thing is, I don't hang out with Ren much outside of school because he doesn't like hanging out with Daichi. Something I have been trying to change, but to no avail so far.

“How was practice yesterday?” I asked.

“Great!” Ren said loudly, he was always loud. “With the team we got this year we are going to Koshien!”

“Definitely helps that you got that secret weapon of yours.” I said, nudging him in the side with my elbow.

Before he could respond we were called out to the track field where we would have class. It was nice and sunny out so we were allowed to wear our white shirts and red shorts instead of the blue sweatsuits we wore during cold or rainy days.

Today was a collection of tests, mostly running. I should take the time to say i'm not the most athletic, but I do well enough. During the dash I got an above average score. The person I raced against came way behind me, I felt a little bad he seemed to be trying hard.

I sat in the grass nearby, Ren and Daichi would be racing against each other. I noticed Toshi come up to me and plop down in the grass next to me. She wore the white and red outfit like the rest of us, no bloomers, got rid of those two years ago after the incident.

“Heyyo Riku!” Toshi said, slapping my back. “How'd ya do?”

“Well enough.” I said, recoiling from the slap. “You?”

She just smiled and gave a peace sign. “Oh Daichi and Ren are going to race? Those two just can't get along can they.”

I stared at her dumbfounded, they were all so oblivious.

“Oh how is Kioko?” I asked. Kioko had been sick with a cold for almost a week now.

“She is better now.” Toshi said, looking as Maeko was about to do her dash. “Though you should have asked her yourself.”

“Oh I guess you're right.” I said. I hadn't talked to her much since the day I texted her randomly asking about why she chose art for her career. “Hey Toshi.” I began. “What made you decide to do softball and baseball professionally?”

Toshi gave me a look, did I look funny?

“Well.” Toshi said, looking off towards the baseball fields. “I actually much prefer baseball, and I'm going to try and get into that over softball. But for me, it was the team. When you work hard with others to achieve a goal it feels amazing. I enjoy the highs and lows, when we win and when we lose. Losing alone sucks, but with my team it makes the pain of losing that much easier.”

I nodded as I stared into the grass. “Ren said the baseball team is going to Koshien this year, what do you think about that?” I chanced a glance at Toshi.

Toshi looked like a fire was burning inside her. “Of course! They got me after all! We all have been working so hard, so of course we will make it this year! Both the Baseball and Softball teams will go all the way!”

This was Ren’s secret weapon, Toshi. Ren had spent the last two years trying to convince the school and the baseball administration to let Toshi play on the team, and this year it worked. For the longest time the school's baseball team was all male, but now Toshi would be an official member, a legend that would be honored no matter how their records went. Koshien was in March, just before graduation, with tournaments running through the month. They would be practicing hard until then, just to achieve their dreams.

“Oh, it looks like Diachi and Ren are going.” Toshi said, cupping her hands around her mouth. “Do your best!”

I smiled as I watched. The starting gun fired and I couldn't help but laugh. You see, Daichi is not the most athletic person, in fact he was not athletic at all. The lack of athletic ability was kind of sad in a way. So when that starting gun fired Ren took off like a speeding bullet, and Daichi tried his best. I swear Ren had enough time to make tea before Daichi finished.

Daichi laughed it off, he wasn't all that worried about this kind of stuff anyways. Maeko came over to sit with us, telling us how she did not do that great, as expected when her chest was off the rating scale. She punched my arm, she had a way of reading my mind.

Ren and Daichi approached, Ren taking his win very seriously. Daichi sat across from me in the grass before the next test started. Ren stood with his hands on his hips and laughed.

“Did you see that Toshi!” Ren said proudly.

“Yes, great job. You did well to Daichi.” Toshi said, getting a little embarrassed about the last part.

“Thanks.” Daichi said with a smile. “I got my time up by two seconds.”

“That's tragic.” I said. “Oh Ren, we were talking about Koshien.”

“Oh really?” He asked.

“Yep, how you were so certain you were going this year.” I said.

“Obviously!” Ren exclaimed. “You got star pitcher Ren Kudo! And all star shortstop Toshi Nakaya! There is no way we can lose!”

“Come on, everyone is great on the team.” Toshi laughed. “Even the freshman are doing great work.”

“Oh of course.” Ren said, his tone shifting. “I'm just saying with us there is no way we can lose.”

“I mean you two are monsters.” I said. Maeko didn't chime into this conversation, she didn't get baseball all that much, though she supported Toshi and went to every game. “Makes sense you wouldn't be worried.”

“We are not monsters!” Toshi said out loud. She didn't like the idea of being viewed mainly in front of Daichi, so she shot down those kinds of statements. Even though her muscled tan frame made Daichi look like a toothpick.

“I've seen you play.” I said. “When you run short stop it's scary efficient.”

“That's just because I can see where Ren is going to pitch towards. Based on that I can tell where the ball will go and react correctly.” Toshi exclaimed.

“The fact you can tell where he is going to pitch is scary.” I laughed. “If you were just reacting personally that would be fine, however you also make the third base, second base, and out field working well. Its like a machine with you!”

“I'm working on getting first too.” Toshi said proudly.

“Why!” I exclaimed.

“That does explain a lot” Daichi chimed in. Daichi took an interest in baseball after I forced him to go to Toshi’s games, though he was still a novice at understanding the sport. “I always wondered how you could just point somewhere and people knew what to do.”

“Sometimes she doesn't even need to do that!” Ren exclaimed. “She has our second baseman working just on head tilts! She tells him when he is going to try and steal or when he is over-extending, and can even pass that info back to me!”

I remember such a moment during a practice game against another school. From a viewers perspective Ren had just tossed the ball out backwards from his glove, to which Toshi caught it and got a guy out when he was about to steal third. Monsters I tell ya.

You may have figured it out already, but Ren isn't Daichi’s standard rival. Ren was better than him by a landslide in sports. So what are they competing over? Well, Daichi doesn't know, but I do. Her name was Toshi Nakaya. Yes, Ren has fallen head over heels for Toshi. It was quite cute in a way, but Toshi loves Daichi. It made it a little hard to support Toshi and Daichi, but I did what I could. Besides, Ren has never admitted his feelings to Toshi so how is she supposed to feel?

We all got up to do our next event, but Ren stopped me. We separated from the group as they walked on ahead.

“I've decided.” Ren said in almost a whisper. He had an air of seriousness.

“You decided to dress in a skirt from now on?” I said quickly. “I'm so proud of you, I had a feeling it was your calling. Just know that I support you wholeheartedly.”

“What? No?” Ren said, confused. He never got my banter all that well, he was a bit too serious at times. “I decided that once we win Koshien that I am going to tell Toshi how I feel.”

I felt tears well in my eyes. Yes, Ren was the first one to actually admit they had feelings for someone to me! I really was rooting for him, but he knew. “You know how she feels about Daichi?” I said.

“Of course.” Ren said, looking after her. “I have steep competition, one I'm not sure I can win. But, for Toshi I would take on any challenge!”

I smiled at his determination. “You know I have to support Daichi, but I want you to know. If you tell her, I will be rooting for your success.”

Ren smiled and tapped my shoulder. “Thanks Riku. You are a good friend, I know you have to support Daichi, I respect that, I wouldn't want it any other way. So don't help me. Give him your full support. That way I can do my very best.”

“You two would get along great if you would stop looking at him like a rival all the time.” I said.

“Not going to happen till this is over.” Ren said.

“And what if Daichi wins?” I said.

Ren looked low to the ground. “It would hurt, but I would accept it. I just want Toshi’s happiness. She is amazing and deserves an amazing guy.”

We returned to them. I liked Ren, I was the only one who knew of his crush and I only learned by accident. I finished my next round of trails and sat alone. Wasn't there someone else in 3-F I knew?

“Saito.” a familiar voice said. Right. Her. I turned to Himiko Hara.

“Hey Himiko.” I said, it was awkward. We haven't talked since that rainy day.

“Have you thought about what I said?” She asked. She stood over me. She looked odd in the gym uniform.

I avoided her glare and did not respond.

“Very well.” Himiko said. I didn't see her face so I had no clue how she took it. “Your friends are coming, please think it over more, it's your future after all.” and with that, she left.

Daichi and Toshi were in charge of cleaning up after we finished. I knew that Daichi would be absent next period if I didn't check on him. Sure enough, the gym storage room was barred shut by a broom that fell in just the wrong way. When I moved it and opened the door I found Daichi atop Toshi on the gym mats. Both of them began to speak over each other trying to explain what happened. Just another day for them, no progress.

Yahho! It's Aoi here for the next episode preview! Daichi is coming over to my house! Oh god I need to clean! Oh no what do I do! I know, Ill ask Riku and Kioko when they come over for advice! Next time! Greenhouse Connections!