Tact and Discretion
It was time for their next progress meeting, and Umiko was heading for the place where she was meeting Nene. Something had been on her mind regarding these meetings though. Weren’t they sort of like dates? They fed each other ice cream. That’s a date thing. Even using the same spoon. A slight hint of pink manifested on Umiko’s cheeks.
But she knew better than to make assumptions without further proof. Nene was a little younger, and perhaps it’s common for her to do that stuff as just a friendly thing. Perhaps she was oblivious to what she was doing. That was also a possibility. Nene might be a bit childish, but Umiko could admit she was a little charmed by this brash girl. It was easy to feel relaxed around her, especially because of how straight-forward she was.
She smiled slightly as she approached their meeting place, and saw Nene had arrived first this time. Perhaps Umiko should ambush her, but there wasn’t a lot of cover. Had Nene purposefully placed herself as much in the open as possible? Umiko figured she might as well just approach normally.
Nene was definitely looking around as Umiko walked closer. When she finally glanced in Umiko’s direction, she spun to face her, and pointed right at her.
“Aha! Found you!” she declared triumphantly. There was certainly no lack of enthusiasm.
“I… wasn’t trying to hide,” Umiko said casually, and Nene’s disappointment was obvious. Umiko almost felt sorry for her. “So where are we going today, Sakura-san?” she asked, and Nene brightened up again.
“Oh! There’s this café I heard of that serves western-style desserts! I think that sounds interesting!” Nene said, just barely keeping a lid on her excitement. Apparently there was one with melted chocolate inside a chocolate cake, which sounded like a lot of chocolate.
“Western-style?” Umiko was imagining the wild west, and wondered what sort of desserts fit that. “Like what cowboys ate?” Nene looked at Umiko for a moment before she caught on.
“No no, like European stuff. Come on, you’ll see,” she said, and they started walking over. “Did cowboys even have dessert?” she mused quietly. Nene had wanted to arrive even earlier today to try again to get the jump on Umiko, but had had to go back for her laptop. Stupid thing to forget. Yet she had left so early in the first place, that she still arrived first. There was the possibility Umiko was hiding somewhere though, so she abandoned her plan to stage an ambush. It’s not like they had worked so far anyway.
Not that she would have necessarily minded meeting with Umiko even without the laptop, but Umiko would have probably just left. And it was fun to show off her progress.
It wasn’t hard getting a seat, the place wasn’t even half-full. Nene ordered herself a chocolate fondant, while Umiko inspected the menu. She wasn’t sure she trusted any of the stuff on here. What the devil was a ‘tiramisu’? A banana split seemed like a safe option, so she went for that.
“How is the game progressing?” she asked while they waited.
“Mm… it’s progressing…” Nene said vaguely. “Though perhaps not as quickly as I’d like. I’ve been trying to put in a levelling system, but… oh! I’ll show you after.” The desserts arrived.
Umiko was satisfied with how non-suspicious hers looked, and Nene marvelled at the little chocolate cake. Was it really liquid inside?
While Nene cracked the fondant open, Umiko started pondering again. Was it okay for her to potentially go after a younger woman? Would Nene be interested in someone older? She watched the little blonde’s face light up in amazement at the chocolate sauce spilling out of her dessert.
“Do you want to try a bite, Umiko-san?” Nene asked after taking the first bite for herself.
“Um… I…” Here it comes again, Umiko thought to herself. “I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but I suppose I can try,” she said cagily. Nene scooped up a little, and leaned over the table. Umiko only thought for the briefest moment about how that spoon had just been in Nene’s mouth before she accepted the bite. It was certainly very rich, and she didn’t think she would want to eat a whole one alone, even though it wasn’t that big.
“How is yours?” Nene asked, clearly fishing for a bite in trade.
“Here, try it,” Umiko said, and smiled just a little. This was nice. She scooped off a little bit of a banana with some ice cream, and Nene happily accepted it.
After they were done, Nene took out her laptop, and moved over to Umiko’s side as usual. She was definitely improving, though by such small steps that possibly only someone like Umiko could tell.
Though she also kept pondering what to do about her possible feelings for Nene. Umiko wasn’t a coward by any means, but she wasn’t sure it was right to just ask Nene out, or confess her feelings without warning, or anything like that. She couldn’t even say what exactly her feelings were. If she simply said ‘I like you’, that could cause a scene. What she needed was to subtly test the waters. This was a matter in which she had to be smooth. It required tact and discretion.
“Sakura-san, do you like me?” she asked, trying to sound casual.
“Huh?” Nene looked at Umiko a little confused. “I guess so. I wouldn’t ask you to help me otherwise,” she replied, and looked back at the computer.
“Yes, but you do like me like me?” Umiko asked cleverly. Doing good so far.
“Wh-what?” Nene looked back at Umiko, who was looking a tad smug. What was this about? “What do you mean, Umiko-san?” Surely she couldn’t possibly be asking…
“I am merely wondering whether you have any interest in me,” Umiko replied. She felt sure Nene didn’t suspect anything.
“W-why do you ask?” Nene asked, absolutely not sure what was going on. Umiko frowned. Perhaps she was being too subtle.
“Well, let’s say that if I were to ask you out, how would you respond?” she decided to go for, which made Nene’s eyes go wide.
“You’re asking me out?!” she exclaimed fairly loudly.
“What? No! I said if!” Umiko quickly corrected her. Dammit, did I slip up? she asked herself. A quick scan of the room made it seem like no one was actually looking their way.
“Er… r-right,” Nene was now very confused. “So… you’re not asking me out?” This was a lot to wrap her head around.
“I might do,” Umiko replied. Her cheeks were gaining a little bit of extra colour.
“You might?” Nene looked inquisitively at Umiko, who started looking at the table.
“If I knew you’d say yes, I might ask you out,” she said, which didn’t really clear up Nene’s confusion.
“But how will you know if you don’t ask?” Nene asked.
“I’m trying to find out right now,” Umiko insisted, though Nene wasn’t sure if that was how it worked. But she thought she was sort of getting a handle on this.
“Well… if you asked, I suppose I’d say yes,” Nene tried. Was that the answer Umiko was looking for?
“Okay. Good,” Umiko said. It had gotten a little hairy there, but that probably counted as a mission success. “Sakura-san, will you go out with me?” she finally asked.
“Oh! Um…” It took Nene a moment to realise this was it for real. “Yes, I will,” she replied, and when she saw Umiko smile, she hugged her.
“H-hey, I didn’t say you could…” Umiko said, a bit flustered.
“It’s okay when we’re going out, isn’t it?” Nene asked. She could feel Umiko’s strength, but she was still soft too.
“Please save it for when we’re somewhere private,” Umiko said, and gently pushed Nene off of her.
“Okay okay,” Nene conceded. “Oh, does this mean I can call you Umicchi now?” she asked with a grin.
“Only if you want to get shot,” Umiko replied instantly, with an intense look, and a furrowed brow. Nene squeaked.
“H-how about Umiko-chan?” she asked, but Umiko’s dark facial expression was all the answer she needed. “Umiko-san it is,” she said, a little disappointed.
Umiko smiled again. That was pretty well done, she felt. Tact and discretion had won the day. She’s probably make a good undercover operative.