My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]
November 5th, a Chilly Overcast Day
I sat outside the train station, wearing a hoodie with fur on the inside. It was fake fur but still felt so warm. I wondered if they had a name for this fur that I was unaware of, oh well. I had come here to meet Kioko at her request. I was unaware of what we would be doing today, but I agreed to come along.
Things have felt a little weird since Halloween. I don't know how to explain it, I'm just a bit more aware of her now.
“Why are you staring off into space?” Kioko said, materializing next to me.
Okay maybe i'm not as aware as I thought.
“Sorry, just got lost in thought.” I said suddenly.
“Oh, that's fine, our train will be here soon.” Kioko said.
Kioko wore leggings and a warm looking sweater with racoon designs on it. She carried a bag on her hip, it looked like it was an art bag to hold her supplies.
“Any updates on the girls?” I asked her as we waited for the train.
“Toshi keeps going on and on about Ren.” Kioko sighed.
“Makes sense, Ren has been doing the same.” I sighed back. “It's been about a month, and they have gone out quite a bit.”
“I'm glad she found someone for her.” Kioko said with a smile. “I was worried since you know, only one person can be with Daichi.”
“Polygamy is an option.” I stated bluntly.
Kioko lightly slapped my arm. “Don't encourage them, I don't think any of them would be happy with that.”
“Not wrong.” I stated. “They want the one, not to share the one.”
“I am not sure that is how I would word that.” Kioko stated. “Maybe that they love Daichi and want him to love them back, not love others romantically.”
“Sounds like a longer way of saying what I said.” I said. It felt comfortable talking to her. Why was I feeling so awkward before she showed up? Maybe I was just over thinking things?
“Well when you shorten things you often lose some of the context.” Kioko stated. “Since you're more assigning things to short terms.”
“Well yeah, that is what people do. Were in a fast paced world, people gotta speak their mind quickly or they will be called stupid.” I joked.
“Maybe in the big cities, or America. Who would call someone stupid for thinking things thru before speaking. I would say the people that respond without thought are the stupid ones.” Kioko stated.
“I'll pass the message along to all Americans.” I said.
Our train arrived and we were off. The ride was going to take a while apparently.
“Where are we going?” I asked. We got seats, but the train was quite packed.
“City.” Kioko said.
“I noticed that from the tickets.” I said.
“Then why did you ask?” Kioko questioned.
“Where in the city.” I asked more clearly.
Kioko faced out towards the windows. “It's a surprise.”
The rest of the ride was filled with small talk. We arrived in Tokyo and got off the train, trying to avoid the rush of commuters. I have been to the city before so the sights were not that crazy for me. We exited the five story deep train station and arrived on the main street.
Kioko was looking at a gps on her phone. “Okay this way.” she grabbed my hand and began to pull me along with her. It was smart since the streets were so packed. A good way to avoid losing each other.
She was holding my wrist, that was a little annoying.
“Hey Kioko.” I said, pulling her back a little.
She turned her head towards me, all forward momentum lost. I made her release my wrist, then wrapped my fingers in hers.
“It would hurt my wrist if you kept pulling me like that.” I lied. “This work?”
Kioko looked at our hands, then at me, then our hands, then back to me. Each time her face got more and more red. Finally she simply nodded her head up and down over and over.
We walked, hand in hand. Kioko had to keep a different pace now. Holding a wrist meant she held full control of the momentum, but hand in hand we had to keep a similar pace.
“This way.” Kioko said, her face returning to normal. We turned.
I felt her hand in mine. Had her hands always felt so, right? It felt like they were in the perfect place, like a puzzle piece.
We arrived at our destination after about an hour of walking and avoiding people on the streets. It was a large college campus, an Art school? The gate was wide open, revealing that it was an open campus day. People were looking around freely, looking at art pieces that decorated the campus grounds.
“Come on.” Kioko said, pulling me along.
We entered a nearby building and began to wander through the halls. Finally, Kioko pulled open a door and walked inside. It was a large lecture hall with tiered seats.
Kioko released my hand, taking it all in, then moved into a middle aisle. She took a seat and just looked forward.
“You wanted to go on a college visit this whole time?” I asked.
Kioko nodded. “I was looking at this school as an option.”
“I thought you wanted to go somewhere locally?” I asked.
“I do.” Kioko stated. “But, based on my grades I could make it into this school if I wanted. They even have dorms that I could live in.”
I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. I had to take a moment to catch my breath, it was stupid to be upset about something like that. Going to a college that would help her career made sense, it would make sense she would go away, almost everyone was going away for school after all. Kioko would leave, that's all. She would leave.
I'm overthinking this.
“That's great!” I said honestly. I did want the best for her, and if this is the school she thought was best for her, I would support her all the way.
Kioko looked at me with a straight face, then she turned back to the lecture hall. “This would be my classroom. I wonder what it would be like? Would I make friends, would the teacher suck? What would change? Ya know? The future can be kinda scary.”
I decided to walk down and sit next to her. The room felt so odd from this angle. “The future is scary.” I said honestly.
“Yet, it's exciting.” Kioko said with a large smile.
“Think about it.” Kioko began. “The future is just another mystery. Yeah I worry about these things, but I probably will make great friends, and the teachers could be amazing. I could have a great time. Worrying too much about the future wont do me any good ya know? It's like trying to cross a crosswalk. I could spend all day being afraid a car will run a light, or I could take that step forward.”
I was silent. All I could do was stare at her. At that moment, Kioko looked more beautiful than ever.
“Riku?” Kioko said. “Let's go look around more.”
We made our way to the school cafeteria where we ate a meal. I looked around, most people came here with their parents. They all looked so overjoyed at the prospect of their college experience. It was like they all were reflecting Kioko’s smile.
“Hey, are you okay?” Kioko asked.
I straightened up. “Yeah sorry, lost in thought.”
Kioko looked at me thoughtfully. “Sure, wanna talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” I asked.
“Whatever is on your mind?” Kioko answered.
I bit my lip. “I'm not sure.” I said honestly. “Once I am, I will let you know.”
Kioko gave a weak smile. I was worrying her, this was a trip for her and I was distracting her from it.
“Can I ask, why didn't you bring your parents with you today?” I asked.
“You met them.” Kioko stated. “They are a bit eccentric about me. I am their only child so it makes a little sense I guess. If I brought them they would try to go overboard with it somehow. Plus, I wanted to spend time with you, show you something new.”
I looked around. That last part was very thoughtful of her. “I don't think I would ever have seen something like this, I haven't gone to any college visits yet.” I said.
“Where do you plan to go?” Kioko asked.
“I don't know yet.” I said.
“Well, if you ever need someone to check out schools with, let me know.” Kioko said. “I'll go with ya wherever.”
Once we finished checking out the school we explored the city a little. We ate dinner at a popular restaurant and made it on the last train home. Kioko had taken chances to draw while we were out, and took several pictures. I noticed she sent some of the pictures to a group chat with her and the girls, plus another one with her school friends.
We walked on the way to her house. I had something on my mind the rest of the day. Something nagging at me in the back of my mind.
“Riku?” Kioko said. She was several steps ahead of me as I had stopped.
“I don't know what I want to do with my future.” I said bluntly. “It is driving me crazy. All of you know what you want to do, I just can't figure it out. It feels like I don't deserve a future, I dont get why.”
Kioko walked back over to me. I was looking down at the ground, and so she lowered herself so that I was only looking at her. She was smiling at me.
“Wha-what.” I said, raising my head.
Kioko popped up. “It's okay. First you need to start viewing yourself as someone who deserves a future.”
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“You know how, don't you.” Kioko stated.
I looked up at her in surprise.
“Riku, you're smart.” Kioko said. “You're not dense, you are really aware of a lot of things around you. What stops you from understanding what is going on?”
I felt my jaw quiver. “My mind set. I see myself as a side character. It's Daichi’s story, not mine. I am just supporting cast.” I felt my mind getting hazy.
“Really. Yet you don't seem that way to me.” Kioko stated. “I don't think anyone but you sees you that way.”
“What am I supposed to think. It's like a writer is throwing me in to stop Daichi from making progress with the girls. The girls just want me for advice, or for whatever their plans are.” I said, not sure if I really meant it.
“Is that really what you think people think of you?” Kioko asked. I couldn't see her, the world around me was vanishing. It was a blur, a haze.
“Yeah.” I said. I remembered how Saki and the others didn't even think to invite me to things, not even adding me to a group text.
“Think about it for a second.” Kioko stated. “Think about everything they have done recently, do you think they view you that way?”
‘Because Riku, you are a dear friend to me’ The words Toshi had spoken to me not long ago.
‘Hey everyone, Riku kind feels unwanted,’ Daichi had said over a group text. He noticed me feeling down and acted.
Did everyone really view me like a side character? Or as a dear friend? Aoi, Maeko, Saki, Izumi, Ren, even Himiko. What exactly was I to them?
That is a stupid question. Of course I knew.
The haze cleared as I looked at Kioko. She stood firmly in place.
“Sorry.” I said.
Kioko smiled. “Looks like you figured something out. Come on.” She turned to continue walking.
I took a deep breath. “Kioko!” I yelled out a bit too loudly. Kioko stopped and turned back to me. “I wanna be a writer! I don't know what kind, maybe manga, maybe light novels, maybe Tv. I just know I want to tell stories., I want to do something artistic, I want to express myself”
I had my eyes closed. It felt like so much just to say it. But it made sense now. I read all the time, I was in the damn literature club. Why hadn't the thought crossed my mind? Or had it and I was just an idiot and wasn't paying attention because of my low self esteem.
I felt something wrap around me. Arms? I opened my eyes to see Kioko hugging me.
“I'm so glad.” She whispered in my ear. She pulled back. “I will support you the whole way!”
I smiled at her. I felt good. I felt like I could take on the world. For once, I could see the steps. I would figure out exactly what I wanted to do, but for now I had a starting point, and I wouldn't let it go.
“Come on, it's late, my parents will worry if we're out too long.” Kioko said, letting me go.
We walked. I knew that there was something else I needed to do. I looked at Kioko, I wasn't sure just yet. For now, today was a win for me. Eventually I would figure the rest out.
November 7th, a Hopeful Monday
I met Himiko in the student council room and explained my goals. She had another internship planned out that she was going to pitch to me. Instead she set down the sheet with the information and smiled.
“Alright, then let's figure it out from there.” Himiko said.
“Thank you.” I said. “I appreciate everything you have done to help me, Himiko.”
That was right. This was my story, I had to remind myself of that. Everyone was the main character of their own life. I was just an idiot for a long time and couldn't see it. I needed to change that about myself. I needed to become the person I wanted to be. I knew it would take time to build up my self esteem, but I could do it. I can do anything, just like everyone else. Thus, my story continues.
Daichi here for the next episode preview! Riku’s birthday is December 6th and we are going to find a way to celebrate! Last year he and I celebrated alone, but things have changed. Now we gotta throw a huge party! Next time, Lets Celebrate!
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