My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]
August 5th, A Hot Sunny Day.
We had all met up to take the train together, then it was a bus. As we rode in the bus we noticed civilization decreasing more and more. Finally we were all dropped off at a stop outside a convenient store.
It was hot, unbelievably so. There were no clouds, and the sun was just pressing on us. Yet, Toshi was just as energetic as ever.
“This will be so much fun!” Toshi yelled out. She was able to move so freely even with her two duffel bags on her shoulder.
“Save the energy for the walk.” Maeko said, looking at her bags in disgust. “Hey, Daichi, Riku, carry these for me.”
I glared at her. “I'm not a pack mule.”
“I got it, don't worry.” Daichi said, picking up the bags on top of his own. This man is too nice for his own good.
Kioko looked around. We had sat together the whole time, on the train and the bus. For some reason the girls kept glancing over at us as if we wouldn't notice.
“Is this the nearest store?” Kioko asked.
“Yep, but it's got everything we will need.” Maeko said. “We can come by later, once we drop off the stuff and clean.”
Just as planned.
The walk was torture, the asphalt was hot from the sun, the air was hot from the sun, we were hot from the sun. The area was covered in hills, but one caught my eye. I could see a large tree standing out at the top. Kioko looked at it too.
Maeko’s vacation house came into view shortly after we spotted the hill. It was a two story house that made my house look like a shed. We had to clean this!
Yes, that was the answer, yes. We all picked our rooms, my room was between Daichi and Kioko’s rooms. Across the hall were the others in no particular order that I knew of. We started by opening the windows to let dust out. Next came the actual dusting. We decided to split up tasks, Kioko and I getting to wipe the floors down.
“This sucks.” I complained out loud.
“Still cheaper than if we rented somewhere for the weekend.” Kioko said, cleaning nearby.
We were in the large dining area. Daichi and Aoi had come through here not long ago to dust, while Toshi, Maeko, and Saki all wiped down the surfaces. We were trailing behind them to finish up the rooms. Really we had the easier job, just slightly more taxing on the body.
My knees were killing me.
“You're not wrong.” I said to Kioko. “I do appreciate them letting us use the place, but doesnt mean I can't complain.”
“As long as your cleaning it should be fine.” Kioko said, then looked up. “How did you clean so much already?”
“Hm? Oh I just have a fast pace with cleaning.” I said. This was on account of cleaning up messes for the girls and Daichi for the last two years.
“I see.” Kioko said. “You would make a great house wife.”
“Cant I be a house husband?” I asked.
“Nope.” Kioko laughed. “There is a stigma against house husbands, so you gotta be a housewife.”
“I guess I can't argue with that, however I don't want to be either.” I stated.
“Oh really? But then who will do all the cleaning?” Kioko asked.
“I'd still clean and cook after work.” I said absently cleaning.
“Wow what a busy body.” Kioko said. “What would you make after work for a meal? Primarily for a family.”
“Depends on the size of the family I guess.” I said, rubbing at a spot on the floor that was just hard to get out.
“Hm.” Kioko said, thinking. “How big of a family do you want?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Two sounds fine, maybe three.”
“I can agree with that.” Kioko said, pulling up next to me. She looked cute today. She wore jeans for cleaning, and a plain tee shirt, yet they looked amazing on her. The way her hair was hanging down in front of her face drew my eye.
Two hours of cleaning and about two thirds of the house was clean. It was at this point we all started getting hungry.
“Daichi, can you and Saki go get some snacks?” Kioko asked.
“Oh wait, I got a list of stuff.” Maeko said, running up to her room. She came down a minute later with the list and a credit card. “I wrote the pin on there, make sure to get these and some snacks for everyone, that should be good.”
“This is so much!” Daichi said in surprise.
“Can we carry all that?” Saki asked shyly
“I saw a wagon outside.” I chimed in. “You could bring that with.”
“Why not send an extra body?” Daichi asked.
“Cause we want to finish cleaning by the time you get back.” Aoi said quickly. “You guys got this!”
Begrudgingly they left. I am sorry Daichi, but this is for Saki’s sake. After a while of cleaning they returned, just as we finished. None of us were ready to move, so we just sat in the living room on the floor and drank the drinks we got. I laid against a couch, Kioko laying on the couch with her head near mine.
“What kind did you get?” She asked, just as tired as I was.
“Grape.” I said, holding it for her to see.
“Can I try?” She asked.
I handed the bottle to her and she offered hers. We both drank, hers was a cream soda, it was nice and bubbly.
“Woh did you just do that?” Aoi said, she was sitting against the chair next to me.
“Yeah, it's pretty good.” I said, letting my head rest against the cushion. I could feel my head touch Kioko’s but was too tired to move.
“Cute.” Aoi said with a strange smile on her face.
“Lay off.” I said, waving my hand weakly.
Daichi and Saki were worse off, the heat and weight of the wagon wore on them. Though they seemed closer.
That night I made dinner for everyone with the help of Kioko and Aoi. We ate and laughed about whatever we wanted to. Once the meal came to an end we played some board games. Eventually Maeko headed off for bed, Saki following behind.
I excused myself, leaving Kioko, Toshi, Aoi, and Daichi. I walked outside and rested on a bench they had in their backyard. The stars were so much brighter out here.
“They are pretty huh.” Kioko said, sitting on the bench next to me.
I hadn't noticed her coming out. “Yeah they are.”
Kioko was silent for a moment. “Tomorrow, will you come with me in the morning to the store?”
“Didn't we get everything we need today?” I asked.
“Its for a plan I got.” Kioko said.
“Well either way I am all for it.” I said. “By the way, Lock your door tonight, and don't answer.”
“Why?” Kioko asked.
“Maeko is afraid of ghosts.” I said.
I may or may not have done something a little sneaky that night. Look, I just made sure the rest of the girls locked their doors, made sure Daichi didn't, and moved around a doll I found hiding in a closet. Turns out it was one from Maeko’s childhood, but one she found creepy now. Since I was next to Daichi’s room, I heard the commotion that signaled my plan worked.
August 6th, A Less Hot Day
The next morning I peeked in to spot Maeko sleeping on Daichi’s bed, Daichi on a futon on the floor. You would think no progress happened from that, but Maeko had her hand hanging off the bed, right on top of Daichi’s. I sealed the door quietly and went outside to meet Kioko.
She wore shorts and a no sleeve shirt. We walked down the road and went to the convenient store, got a few drinks, and headed back.
“So what is the plan?” I asked.
Kioko pointed up at the hill. “DIdn't that guy at the convenience store tell us a story about that hill?”
“No?” I questioned, then realized. “Oh I see. Right, how did the story go again?”
“They say if two people arrive at the big tree at the top of the hill separately they are destined to get together.” Kioko said. She suddenly pulled me off the side of the road, towards the hill. We reached the base of the hill, and spotted separate paths leading up the hill.
“So we arrange it so they all end up there.” I said.
“Well, first we find the shortest path there.” Kioko said. “Look, you can see seven paths. We make sure Daichi takes the shortest path, then the others take other paths. We both take two of them and make sure they get there quickly. Then we see what happens.”
“We might want to reword that story then.” I said. “Maybe, if a couple lay eyes on each other at the top of the tree at night they are destined to be together.”
“That could work, what about if you lay eyes on the person you love you're destined to be together? That way if they look at each other first it doesn't cause an issue.” Kioko said.
“I see, that could work. However, none of them would want to do that, they are too shy and would try to not be the first there.” I said.
“That's why we challenge it.” Kioko said with a sinister smile. She began to walk up a path and I followed. “We tell them the legend, but make it like a test of courage. We could also say it's like a race. It will get Toshi involved for sure.”
“And her desire for competition will force others into it.” I chimed in. “Plus if we offer the idea it shows were all for doing the race.”
“Exactly. Oh, keep your phone on but keep it vibrate. We should stay on the phone to make sure we are guiding them well.” Kioko said.
“I have a few pairs of cheap earbuds with microphones on them, that should make sure no one sees the light of our phones, and we can be more quiet.” I said.
“Perfect, now lets time the paths and figure out which one is the fastests.” Kioko said as we reached the top of the hill. Her phone was in her hand, a stopwatch going.
For the next hour we tried every path, figuring out proper times and found the fastests route. Now came the execution.
Surprisingly, everyone was down to do it, even after the legend we told them. We told them the story separately, but we told them as a group about the race idea. The girls thought we were just helping them out and willingly obliged, Daichi thought it sounded fun but did not offer much else. I could tell though that the legend was in his head. Next came setting things up right.
That night, we stood at the edge of the paths. We all had flashlights to help guide us. I did a little finagling for some of them, mostly Maeko’s. In my hand I had a set of sticks with numbers on them. Once we assigned each path a number I offered Daichi to take the first stick.
The thing is, I learned a bit about psychology. Daichi is right handed, but he wanted to pick the most random stick. In doing so, he reached across to the left, but not the far left, the second to the left. Which just so happened to be the number for the shortest path. He might be a little predictable to me.
After that I paid close attention to what the next two people pulled. This was where my sleight of hand came in. Aoi and Saki pulled the next two, and they both pulled the sticks for two of the left most paths, as such I made Kioko pick the next stick. Using my thumb I signaled the stick for her to pull, the last stick that was for the left path. Daichi was set on the middle path, so he was of no concern. That left only the right side paths, which Maeko and Toshi would pull, and I would take the last one.
“Alright, good luck everyone! DOnt run to fast or you will hurt yourselves.” Kioko said, standing on the edge of the path.
Everyone stepped into their paths after a count. I pulled out my phone and rang Kioko.
“I got an eye on them.” Kioko said.
I sat in a bush, Toshi was in the far path so I was watching Maeko. Maeko was a big risk, she was already shaken up from last night so she was being slower then I wanted her to be. Luckily, I knew her weakness.
“I'm going to trigger Maeko, she will go running after that. Toshi should be rushing after.” I said.
“Roger that.” Kioko said. “Saki doesn't seem too scared, and Aoi is being cautious.”
“Daichi should reach the top soon, lets wait another minute.” I said.
“Will do.” Kioko said quietly.
After the minute, I began my plan. I simply let Maeko get a lead on me then began to make spooky noises behind her. She was now afraid of whatever was behind her, and the trees were even scarier, so that left her one path. She took it, and bolted up the path.
Toshi was easy, I just texted her “I think I just heard Maeko running, she will probably beat everyone there.”
I could see the dust clouds form over the treetops as she got into a dead sprint.
With them on the move, I began to leisurely walk up my path. “This was a good plan Kioko, very clever to make up the story.”
“Who said it was fully made up?” Kioko said over the phone. “I did a little research into this area, turns out that the hill does have a romance legend almost exactly like the one we made up.”
“For real?” I said. “Thats kind of crazy. What are the odds.”
“Pretty high.” Kioko said. “Oh by the way, can you stop walking for a second.”
I did so, and suddenly my flashlight turned off.
“Hey my light went out?” I said on the phone.
Something pressed against my cheek. It felt soft and warm, then it was gone. I shock my flashlight and it turned back on. I spun around, spotting nothing.
“Kioko?” I asked over the phone.
“Hold on, I am almost there.” Kioko said, then I heard the sound of a bush move to reveal Kioko coming from the right side. She had a bandana with sticks in it.
“What is with the bandana?” I asked.
She gave a smug smile. “I was sneaking through the bushes. Its cool huh, like i'm a secret agent.”
I gave a smile, one that she shined her light at. “Hey, did you see something? Something got pressed against my cheek.”
“Huh? Like what?” Kioko asked, tilting her head.
“Kinda felt like lips.” I said, touching the spot. It was a little wet.
“For real?” Kioko said. “Who would have kissed you?”
I was confused. “Good question, I have no idea.”
Kioko smiled at me. “This was fun, but we should hurry and meet with everyone. I'll go back to my path, don't let your light die now.”
“Will do, be careful okay?” I said.
We both hung up our phones and began to walk casually. I could hear chatter coming from ahead, meaning the hilltop should be nearby. As I walked, I felt my phone vibrate. It was Kioko.
“Hold on one second.” Kioko said.
I paused in place. “What?”
“Nothing, sorry, keep going.” Kioko said.
I emerged into the clearing of the hill, moonlight shining over everything. I looked to the left, and there was Kioko, eyes locked on mine. We had emerged from the path at the exact same moment.
“Woah you guys made it!” Aoi yelled out.
We turned to see all of them together under the large tree.
“We all got her at the same time.” Toshi said as we approached.
I walked up to Daichi, he was a little separate from the others. “You lock eyes with someone?”
Daichi’s face turned red as he looked low to the ground. He had, and it was causing a reaction in him. I had to know, who was it!
The girls were hanging off Kioko laughing with each other. I had missed what they said but they seemed happy. Kioko looked at me with a shy smile.
I was left wondering though, did someone kiss me in the dark? I could still feel it on my cheek, but who? Wait, wasn't Kioko supposed to be on the left side? Why did she come from the right? I eyed her, there was no way it was Kioko, right?
We had fun on our last day, but all good things came to an end. Of course I messed with them to try and trigger some flags, but nothing too big. Daichi didn't tell me who he locked eyes with, and the girls weren't sure with how dark it was.
Something told me that things would be changing from here on out, and I had a feeling whoever he locked eyes with means more to Daichi than I am aware of.
Kioko had said there was a legend similar to ours, but what was it? Did they meet the conditions for that legend? These thoughts annoyed me all the way home. Summer was coming to an end, our second Trimester was upon us, how would things go from here on out?
Heck yes I get another go at the preview! It is I, Toshi, here for the next episode preview. Baseball, Koshien, hard work, determination. That is right next week is a sports episode! Our big tournament is upon us to qualify for Koshien and we are going to take it this year! Next time, Strike Out!
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