Chapter 10:

Episode 10- Okinawa Part 2

My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]

June 23rd, the dead of night

I laid on the futon, my peaceful rest pulled away from me violently. Ren had his fist on my cheek. It didn't hurt after the first moment, just when it first happened. Daichi slept soundly on the other side of me, sprawled out like he was going to hug the world.

I pushed Ren away and moved my futon to avoid future assaults. Once I was settled I curled up, not into a full ball but enough to where I took up less space, then fell deep into sleep.

Breakfast was nice, nothing too heavy but nothing too light. Ren ate quickly, and Daichi just enjoyed the meal. Across from us the girls ate in their strange ways.

“Alright, so where to today?” Himiko asked, she pulled out a list of activities that we could do.

“Beach!” Toshi said quickly.

“We can go there later, that would be a longer activity, shouldn't we try something smaller first?” Himiko asked.

“We could see Cape Manzamo?” Aoi said.

“Or the Peace Memorial” Maeko said.

Toshi looked a little beaten. She wanted to go to the beach now, though it was still so early in the morning, early enough for the dew to still be on the grass. I wasn't looking forward to swimming just yet, not until it got a little hotter out.

We agreed to explore a little and do some small shopping. After that we checked out the sights, castles, memorials, gardens. Before long the sun had risen enough to heat the island. I should mention that at each sight I caught something happening to Daichi. I took note of all of it for Kioko so we could devise a plan.

With the sun now high above us, we went to the beach.

“Ren, you know I cherish you as a friend, right.” I said, facing the ocean. I was in my swim trunk sitting on the sand.

“Aw thanks Riku, I cherish you as well.” Ren said, still standing proudly next to me.

Daichi took my example and faced towards the sea.

“I say that.” I began. “However, I think it should be noted that right now I dont feel that way.”

“What! Why!” Ren yelled out.

I gave a quick glance at what was at my eye level. Ren was in a tight black speedo with the words ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ on the ass. I turned back to the sea.

“Just, why.” I asked.

“Thanks for waiting!” A sudden voice said, something to distract me from the sight next to me. It was Aoi running up, the rest of the girls behind her.

Aoi looked good, her swimsuit was a two piece sky blue with yellow flowers and lots of frills. Maeko wore a simple black two piece, giving off the sexy maturity she wanted. Saki wore a one piece black suit with white frills, she looked embarrassed. Toshi wore a green two piece with a black trim. They all worked well for them.

“How do I look?” I heard a voice say. I turned to spot the two strangers. Wait they werent strangers!

Himiko wore a brown two piece with strange brown splotches, it looked like a dog bikini? The one who spoke was Izumi, who wore a frilly white two piece, the lower half was like a skirt. There was no sign of the chains or bandages, just a simple nice swimsuit.

“Wow I didn't even recognize you two at first.” I said quickly. “It looks good on you Izumi, Though Himiko, why that color?”

Himiko glared at me. “I liked it, that's why. Got a problem? Also call me Hara.”

“It's not bad, Miss HimiHara” I said quickly. A sharp glare was what I received in return.

“Let's swim!” Toshi yelled out, dragging Daichi off.

We set up our spot on the crowded beach, blankets and umbrellas. Aoi pulled out an inflatable raft and began to fill it with a hand pump she brought. What the thought process on that one was I will never know.

I sat under the umbrella and watched everyone running off and having fun. Even Saki was letting loose a little. Her, Daichi, and Maeko were splashing each other. Ren and Toshi were doing a swimming contest, it seemed like they were seeing who could swim the length of the beach the most times. I saw them pass by three times, were they even human? This beach was huge!

“Hey Sawai” I heard HimiHara call to me. I looked over to see her and Izumi standing by the edge of the water.

I approached. “What is it?”

“Izumi can't swim, could you teach her?” Himiko asked.

“Huh?” I asked. “You can't swim? Didn't we have mandatory swim classes?”

“Y-Yes, however the purifying abilities of the swimming pool would simply destroy me, so I missed out on the lessons.” Izumi said, her face a bright red that couldn't look at me.

“She is allergic to chlorine” Himiko stated with a sigh. “So she had to sit out of those classes.”

“Gotcha, sure I'll teach her.” I said, beginning to walk towards the walk.

“I thank you King of Darkness.” Izumi said. She was fidgeting a lot.

“I'll go get drinks for everyone, you two have fun.” Himiko said before running off.

I offered Izumi my hand so that I could show her how to kick with her feet. She hesitated but eventually placed her hand in mine. She would kick her legs forward and I would step back to match her speed. She caught it quickly. After that came the arms, as well as teaching her how to stay afloat.

“You're a good teacher Riku.” Izumi said as we both floated with our heads just above water.

“Glad you think so.” I replied. “I'm surprised though, did you and your family not go to the beach on vacations or anything?”

“We did, however I refused to remove my bindings so I stayed clear of the water.” Izumi responded.

“Is that why you're so pale? You cover everything up?” I stated.

‘I- I am not!” Izumi yelled out. “It's simply the result of my dark magic, it pushes away the light of the sun from reaching me.”

“Is that so.” I laughed.

Izumi looked around. “Could we go over there?” She pointed towards a clearer part of the beach. “It looks like there is something cool over there.”

“Sure, think you can swim there on your own?” I asked.

“I may need assistance.” Izumi said proudly. “If so, will you help me?”

“Of course.” I laughed and began to follow her. It was hard to follow someone who was doggy paddling when you could swim much faster.

The part of the beach we got to was along a cliff side. Many rocks lined the beach as we walked. It was more isolated, so much so we didn't see anyone over here. I looked out and could see everyone as small specs playing, it seems Aoi got her raft going.

“Riku.” Izumi said, she had been leading us and was facing away from me. “Do you like me?”

Panic shot up my body. Was she asking if I liked her? Like romantically? Since when did Izumi think of me like that?

I took a deep breath, collecting my emotions. I had to answer honestly.

“I think you're a great friend.” I began. “I like you as a friend for sure, someone I would like to keep around even after high school. You're fun and quirky, however I do not think I have romantic feelings for you at this time.”

Izumi stopped in her tracks. Crap, did I upset her? I guess I did just reject her, so it would make sense if she was upset.

“Phew!” Izumi yelled out, turning towards me. “Thank goodness, that is a relief.”

“Huh.” I said, my face surprised.

“Sorry sorry.” Izumi said, her face was bright red. “Its just, I wasnt sure myself.”

Izumi walked over to a rock overlooking the water, she sat on it and offered me a seat next to her.

“I was talking to Himiko.” Izumi began. “It was while we were shopping for these swimsuits. I told her how I wanted to look good since I would be with your group, and she said I probably loved you. I wasn't sure, I don't think I am ready for romance. However! I decided that I would ask you what you felt about me, and if you liked me, or even loved me, I would give it a try.”

“I see, so you were letting fate decide what you would do.” I said.

“No, I guess I let you decide.” Izumi said.

“I'm not sure that is the right answer though.” I said. “You should figure out your own feelings, being true to yourself is very important for developing as a person.”

“You're probably right.” Izumi said with a smile. “In that case, if I find out I do love you, I am going to tell you okay? If things change and you fall for me you let me know too okay?”

“You make it sound so easy to confess your feelings.” I laughed.

Izumi gave me a look. “It is. You just say how you feel. The hard part is figuring out how you feel. Once you got it in your head how you feel it should be simply to put it in words.”

“For someone like you that works.” I laughed. “You always express what you think, with your Night Queen of Eternal Sorrows stuff.”

“Does it annoy you?” Izumi asked.

I took a moment before answering. “Not really. It's fun, yeah it can be a bit embarrassing, but as long as you realize what is reality and what isn't it's all fine.”

“Of course I know the difference.” Izumi laughed. She then turned somber. “When I came to high school everyone gave me crap about the way I acted, said I need to grow up and stop it. But I have fun. What does it even mean to grow up? Is growing up just giving up the things you love to do in favor of working?”

“I think the idea of growing up is something people say.” I began. “Like, people our age would say to grow up and be more mature because they have an image of what an adult is and think that everyone should match that mold. Yet adults can have fun and collect toys, read manga, and watch anime. Being an adult just means you're older, wiser, and more independent if you ask me. As long as you meet those requirements, what does it matter what you do for fun? Go cosplay, read light novels, play video games.”

Izumi beamed at me as I finished. “Thank you Riku, that's why I like you.”

“Like how?” I asked.

“You're a good friend.” Izumi laughed. “You didn't reject me right away when I came up to you in our first year. You played along with me, it was nice. You still play along with me sometimes. I kind of like your straight man personality with my antics.”

“So it's just a role huh.” I laughed.

“Duh, I am an aspiring actress.” Izumi said proudly.

“Actress huh.” I said, thinking it over. “Yeah that fits you. You know, I don't have your contact info. We should talk more. I want to make sure we stay friends after graduation.”

Izumi nodded. “Of course! Why didn't we do that sooner?”

“Because you were too busy trying to smite me with dark energy.” I clarified.

Izumi straightened. “Y-yeah, sorry about that.”

I just laughed.

“Hey isnt that Aoi’s raft?” Izumi said, pointing out at sea.

“Yep, and it looks like her and Daichi are on it.” I said, holding my hand to shield it from the sun. “And it looks like they are drifting out to sea.”

“Oh no! What should we do!” Izumi said, jumping to her feet. She wasn't used to this.

“There are several islands nearby, they will land there. I will tell a lifeguard so they can get a search party looking for them. They should be back for dinner.” I explained. I may or may not have been aware this was a possibility when I saw Aoi’s raft. Come on, that is such a plot device!

“Okay let's hurry.” Izumi said, trying to run.

“No need to rush, we'll just trip and hurt ourselves. Plus the others probably already noticed they were gone.” I said.

They hadn't. Toshi and Ren had swam thirteen laps of the beach and had to be rescued by Himiko and Maeko. Saki noticed, but she was too distraught by what was happening to tell anyone. That night Daichi and Aoi returned for dinner, looking a little closer than they were earlier that day.

As I was walking back from the rocks, I thought of something odd. How come when I was thinking about what to say to Izumi, I thought of Kioko?

June 24th. Departure.

The plane ride was nicer. We split up more, not sticking to our groups. This lead to me between Izumi and Himiko. Ren and Toshi were behind us, along with Maeko who looked very annoyed. Daichi was pulled to the back with Aoi and Saki.

I felt someone pull on my ear, turning sharply to see Maeko.

“Hey, whats going on with you and the Chunni girl?” Maeko asked. It was meant to be a whisper, however Izumi was in front of Maeko and gave me a look.

I thought about it. “Not much, why?”

Maeko’s eyes turned to a glare. “Better not be.”

“Maeko do you like Riku?” Izumi said, spinning around in her seat.

“As if!” Maeko yelled sharply.

“Yeah, she likes someone else.” I laughed.

“That's right!” Maeko yelled out. “I like.” She caught herself suddenly. “Anyways, you better not be lying to me! I'll be pissed if you are!”

“Can you keep it down?” Himiko said from next to me, she was reading a book.

Maeko pouted in her seat, throwing me a glare every now and then.

“Don't worry about her.” Toshi said to me as I turned forward. “She is just worried.”

“Worried about what?” I asked.

Toshi put a finger to her lips. “A secret.”

These girls were going to kill me. Oh well, this trip was successful, only one event that could be viewed as bad, yet seemed to be a positive in the long run. I wonder if maybe he and Aoi made real progress? For the time being, I laid back in my seat and let my thoughts drift. I had to remember that I promised Kioko I would go with her to the water park during summer vacation. Oh and then their was the summer trip Maeko had wanted to take, that would be big. Alot was happening. Our first semester was coming to an end, two to go.

Hello mortal! It is I, the Night Queen of Eternal Sorrow Izumi Arai here for your next episode preview! Water parks are a terrible place for one blessed by the powers of the Night Queen! One touch may destroy the vessel she inhabits. To avoid such a thing from happening, I must avoid those places at all cost. However, Riku is free to go there as he pleases. Wait Riku, the script says I can't do any cool poses, how am I supposed to show how cool I am without a pose from JoJos! Look, I can do the Polnareff pose! Next time, Water Park