Important Steps

[A/N: Another Umiko/Nene fic, because they are so darn cute. It’s a sequel to the previous one, but I don’t think you necessarily have to have read it to enjoy this one.]

“Umicchi!” Nene called out while hurrying over to Umiko. For her part, Umiko’s eyebrow twitched.

“I told you not to call me that,” Umiko said in a dangerous tone, and started reaching into her purse.

“Ah, don’t shoot me! I’m sorry, Umiko-san,” Nene said quickly, throwing up her hands as a sense of panic settling over her. But Umiko didn’t stop, and out of her purse she pulled! Some breath mints.

“Don’t be silly, Sakura-san. I wouldn’t be so foolish as to take out a gun in public,” Umiko said with a satisfied smile. Not that she was carrying one anyway, but hopefully that reaction meant Nene had learned better. “But seriously, don’t call me that. I mean it. You want one?” She offered a breath mint to Nene.

“Sure,” Nene said a little hesitantly, lowering her hands slowly. Just in case there was a catch to it. However, she just got a breath mint. It tasted minty. A bit stronger than she expected.

“I don’t understand why you want to call me that,” Umiko said. She was a bit touchy when it came to her name. Not wanting anyone to use her family name, and wanting them to use given name properly.

“Well, when you’re dating, having nicknames is cute,” Nene insisted as they started walking together.

There weren’t any big plans today. Nene had wanted the two of them to hang out together, and Umiko wasn’t opposed to that. They’d probably just walk around for a bit, maybe look at shops, the find some café for lunch. After that… well, Umiko had an idea. She’d talk to Nene about it during lunch.

“Cute isn’t really my thing,” Umiko said. She knew she was seen as rather intense, and highly doubted ‘cute’ was the first thing that came to mind when anyone thought of her, or was asked to describe her. Except maybe when Hazuki was feeling in a joking mood. Which was most of the time.

“You think so? You’re very cute, especially when you smile,” Nene said as if stating a fact, and Umiko blushed a little. She wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “What can I call you, then? Umiko-chan? No wait, you didn’t like that one either… Umi-chin?” Nene asked.

“Absolutely not,” Umiko said firmly, then sighed. “Look, how about just Umiko? You don’t have to be formal with me, and I won’t accept any cutesy honorifics or nicknames. Is that acceptable?” she asked. It seemed like a fair compromise to her, and couples tended to drop honorifics sooner or later anyway. Might as well make it sooner if it meant Nene would stop pursuing this.

“Hm, I guess that’s okay,” Nene said, thinking it over. “Umiko. U-mi-ko. Umiko,” she tried saying it a few times, then nodded with satisfaction. For some reason this was making Umiko feel a little weird, and a slight blush crept back into her cheeks. “Then you also have to call me Nene. Or Nenecchi. Either is good!” Nene said, and grinned at Umiko.

“Oh,” Umiko said. She had walked right into that one. Though she was not going to say ‘Nenecchi’ any more than she would accept ‘Umicchi’. There was still room for her to refuse, but… “I suppose that’s only fair. Nene.” It felt a little odd to say, but she’d probably get used to it soon enough. She smiled at Nene in such a way that Nene started blushing herself. Umiko’s warm smiles had a way of catching her off-guard. In an attempt to hide her reaction, Nene latched herself onto Umiko’s arm.

“T-that’s that settled then,” she said. It was still a little surprising how soft Umiko was. Nene had for whatever reason expected she’d be harder. Though that didn’t really make sense when she thought about it.

“What are you doing?” Umiko asked. Nene’s brazen forwardness could be a lot to handle.

“Mm… shouldn’t I?” Nene asked back, looking up at Umiko. She would let go if Umiko asked her to, but she hoped she wouldn’t.

Umiko looked at Nene for a moment before looking forward. “It’s fine,” she said, a slight smile playing across her lips. She resisted the urge to stroke Nene’s hair.

Nene had done a lot of thinking since that day Umiko asked her out in that weird way. She had never really had any romantic interest in anyone before, so this was her first relationship of that kind. With an older woman, no less. Not that much older, they were both young adults, but even so Nene worried that her lack of experience would be too obvious. She had never really thought about whether she liked boys, or girls, or both. Or even what a relationship was supposed to be like. Aoba and Nene had always been more interested in other things during their years at school together.

Yet here she was, arm in arm with Umiko, on a date. And Aoba was engaged. Nene had seen the ring, but it was still hard to believe. Things seemed to be happening so fast. A year ago both of these things would have seemed impossible. Somehow Nene and her best friend had both met someone through work that changed their lives. Nene wondered if it would ever start feeling… normal. So why had she said yes? She definitely liked Umiko, but perhaps she liked more that Umiko liked her. She wasn’t sure yet.

“Something on your mind, Nene?” Umiko asked, snapping Nene out of her thoughts.

“Huh? N-no, it’s nothing,” Nene said, not noticing how she squeezed Umiko’s arm a little tighter. Umiko figured that if it was something important, it would come out sooner or later. At the very least she shouldn’t press the issue right here.

“Well, if you could ease your grip a little, it would be appreciated. You’re cutting off the blood circulation to my hand,” Umiko joked, and Nene ended up letting go altogether. “Ah-” That wasn’t what Umiko had meant. Something was definitely up. Nene seemed to have lost her earlier pep. Well, they could talk about that later, but right now was the time for action.

Umiko reached down and took Nene’s hand, who in turn looked up at her, seeming a little confused. “I said it’s fine, didn’t I?” Umiko said, feeling a little embarrassed, but dead serious. Nene lit up with a grin, and started humming happily as they kept walking. Cute, Umiko thought.

Nene’s worries hadn’t vanished, but she was able to set them aside for now. And maybe she felt a little more at ease. Maybe. The point of today was enjoying her time with Umiko. She didn’t really have anything special in mind for what she wanted to shop for, but maybe it would be nice to buy something matching. If their phones had been the same size, maybe a matching cover. So perhaps a bracelet, or necklace. Or perhaps it was too soon for something like that. Not that she could really afford to buy Umiko nice jewellery anyway, so it would have to be something fairly cheap. But it was the thought that counted. Probably.

Even with a fair amount of wandering around, Nene couldn’t really find anything like that. That’s not to say they didn’t find anything at all. She got to help pick out a new shirt for Umiko, and in return Nene insisted that Umiko pick out something for her. That would do for now. Umiko hadn’t really understood why it seemed like such a big deal, but she didn’t mind going along with it. Maybe at some point Nene would think to just ask Umiko what she thought about getting something matching for the two of them, but the idea didn’t come to her today.

Heading into a game shop, Umiko figured it was a good opportunity to suggest a few titles for Nene to look at. Both in terms what to do, and what not to do, with her own game. She even remembered a few downloadable titles it might be helpful for Nene to look at. Nene hadn’t thought to bring a pen and notebook, but Umiko was always prepared.

Umiko had a different way of looking at games now, as someone who helped make them. And she helped open Nene’s eyes a little to that as well. Some strong opinions were shared. Not that she wanted to influence Nene’s vision for her game too much, but it was hard to not get a little carried away when talking about these things.

After a quick stop at a bookstore to get a recently released light novel Nene had been waiting for, the two of them found a place to have lunch. Nene really wanted pancakes, and Umiko went for a chicken salad. She didn’t want anything too heavy right now.

“So you didn’t want to show me more of your game today?” Umiko asked after they had ordered.

“Nope! I just want to spend time with you,” Nene declared cheerfully. She had really been looking forward to it.

“And it’s not because you don’t have anything to show?” Umiko asked jokingly, with a clever smile on her face.

“O-of course not! Well… I’ve mostly been refining the code as you suggested, so there’s not really anything new…” Nene admitted, drumming her fingers on the table. “But no! Today is just about you and me. That’s what I wanted.” She beamed at Umiko, who relented.

“Alright. I’m sorry for teasing you, and I’m happy to spend time with you,” Umiko said earnestly. Which made Nene’s heart flutter just a little bit, and her cheeks go a nice rosy colour.

“Good,” was all Nene could think to say, even though she knew it wasn’t much of an answer. Thankfully she was saved by the food arriving.

Umiko was a little amazed at how much syrup was poured on top of Nene’s pancakes. Nene had asked for extra, now that she thought about it. Umiko was quite happy with her salad. A bit of light dressing was more than enough. Though of course…

“Say aaahhh,” Nene said as she leaned over the table to offer a bite to Umiko. Seemed like Umiko wouldn’t be able to escape that today either. Well, she had gotten pretty accustomed to it, so she accepted the bite without arguing. It was definitely very heavy and sweet, but at least it was only one bite. She barely even blushed, which Nene was a little bit disappointed by.

“You want one in return?” Umiko asked, and Nene nodded eagerly. She should have learned she didn’t even need to ask at this point. So she speared a bit of chicken and reached it over towards Nene, who happily snatched it up. It was a little sour, but the point was being fed. It had become like a tradition for them, if that was the right word for it. Umiko couldn’t help but smile at Nene’s adorably happy expression.

While relaxing with a cup of coffee afterwards, Umiko figured it was a good time to suggest what to do next.

“Nene, would you like to go play paintball together after this?” Umiko asked, and Nene looked up from her phone. She had been checking if she had any messages on anything.

“Eehh? That doesn’t sound very fun,” she replied, making a grimace. It also didn’t sound at all like the kind of romantic thing she wanted to do today. “I don’t have any gear or anything, either,” she added.

“They let you rent that at the field,” Umiko said. Perhaps she needed to appeal to a certain part of Nene here. “But maybe you’re just aware that you’d lose, and would rather spare yourself the humiliation,” she said in goading manner. A dirty trick perhaps, but she had a feeling that appealing to Nene’s pride would work. If she could just show Nene how fun it was, she was sure she wouldn’t regret it.

“What did you say? You underestimate me at your own peril! I could take you down easy!” Nene was successfully goaded, and Umiko smiled at her victory.

“I’d like to see you prove it,” Umiko said, still smiling.

“Let’s go then!” Nene said, taking the bait hook, line, and sinker. She wouldn’t realise until it was too late that she had basically been tricked.

The field was a short train-ride away, but they had the whole afternoon. Though they had time to stop by their homes, Umiko wasn’t bringing any of her own gear either. She figured not using her own gun would give her a slight handicap, which Nene could probably use. While Umiko wanted to win, and planned to, she didn’t want to go too hardcore. Keep it a little casual, so she didn’t scare Nene away from coming again.

Once they arrived, they took their time making sure Nene was outfitted properly, and got to try out the gun a little to get a feel for it. She did okay, but probably would have done a little better if Umiko didn’t get quite so close while instructing. It proved to be a little distracting, especially when Umiko corrected her stance, and how to hold the gun properly. Anything that involved physical contact. Umiko didn’t seem to notice, but Nene definitely did. At least she was confident that meant she’d do a bit better in the field, and could give Umiko a bit of a surprise.

It still didn’t quite go Nene’s way. They went for a first to three competition. The first round was over in just a few minutes, with Umiko scoring a hit while Nene was trying to get a sense for the field. She had been confident she didn’t need to scout the area properly first, which bit her in the ass.

The second round went a little better. Nene had spotted a few things that helped her stay hidden, so the round lasted longer. It passed five minutes with the occasional pot-shot taken, before the final fire exchange, where Umiko had come out on top. Still, Nene felt like she had had a fighting chance there.

So in the third round she had picked up enough to actually stage an ambush, and while she didn’t catch Umiko entirely unaware, it was enough to let her be the one to score the first hit that time. She thought perhaps that was the start of her comeback.

Alas, in the fourth round the same trick didn’t work twice. Umiko had gotten a little less casual after being beaten once, and turned the tables on Nene’s attempted second ambush. Nene got taken down handily, and as such lost the match. She still insisted they play the final round, for a chance at revenge. Which unfortunately didn’t go that well either. But she lasted long enough that they were basically out of time afterwards.

Umiko asked if Nene wanted them to pay for more time, but Nene was starting to feel sore from where she had been hit, so she said no. Umiko was a little disappointed, but at least Nene said she was willing to come again. Maybe they could bring more people, and do teams at some point. While Nene wanted revenge, she also felt it might be easier to have Umiko on her side. She’d have to get some practice, which Umiko was all too happy to help with. It would be with airsoft guns, but the principle was the same.

After they got out of there, they started walking casually back towards the train station. It wasn’t that late yet, but maybe it was time to call it a day, and part ways. Nene didn’t feel entirely satisfied though. They hadn’t found any sort of matching thing to mark their bond, but she still wanted to do something. Something to advance their relationship a little. That’s how she felt. She could think of one thing.

“Hey Umiko,” she said, squeezing Umiko’s hand. Umiko turned her head to look at her.

“Hm?” she replied when Nene didn’t say anything more. Nene was struggling with how to approach this.

“Have you… um…” Nene looked back at Umiko. “Have you ever kissed anyone?” she asked, which made Umiko stop.

“What?” Umiko thought maybe she had heard Nene wrong.

“Have you kissed anyone before?” Nene repeated, and Umiko definitely heard her this time.

“That’s…” Umiko wasn’t sure how to reply to that. She wasn’t even sure why Nene was asking. Was there a right answer to this? “That’s classified,” she ended up answering, and started walking again to try to make things feel less awkward. She was blushing clearly enough for Nene to be able to easily tell.

Umiko had fooled around a bit in school, dated a few people, but not had any particularly long-lasting relationships. For some reason people seemed a bit intimidated by her. Since she started working, a relationship hadn’t fitted into things until now. So she had kissed before, even if it was a while ago. But somehow it felt awkward to admit that.

“Ah. So you have,” Nene said. That’s how she interpreted that reaction, at least. Umiko cursed inwardly at being so easy to read. Now Nene wondered if she had really wanted to know. But somehow it had seemed like the best way to lead into things, so she might as well keep going. “Will you kiss me?” she asked.

“Nene?” Umiko said curiously, and stopped again. Turning to look at Nene again, she found the younger girl to be avoiding her gaze, a clear pink shade to her cheeks.

“Will you kiss me?” Nene asked again, glancing up at Umiko briefly, before quickly looking back down. Umiko smiled. It hit her again just how adorable Nene was. She leaned forward, and kissed Nene’s forehead.

“There,” she said affectionately.

“No, not like that!” Nene protested, looking up at Umiko and pouting. She had frozen for a moment after the forehead kiss, but just for a moment.

“I know,” Umiko said understandingly. “But… not out here, okay? Somewhere private.” The thought of kissing in public made her feel a little too embarrassed. Nene felt a little better hearing that, though.

“We could go to karaoke,” Nene suggested. No one would come in unless they ordered something. It wouldn’t give them a lot of time, but it would be a start.

“We could,” Umiko agreed. “Or we could go to my place.” Nene’s eyes widened at that suggestion.

“Really?” she asked automatically.

“It’s a little messy right now,” Umiko admitted. She had planned to clean up tomorrow. “But if you’re okay with that, I wouldn’t mind having you over.” Part of her couldn’t believe what she was suggesting, but she told herself it was just to get a little time alone. All innocently. And maybe they’d kiss. If Nene didn’t change her mind. Umiko tried to tell herself it wasn’t such a big deal to her, but she wasn’t very convincing.

“I’ll go,” Nene said, perhaps a little too quickly. Umiko chuckled lightly.

“Alright then. Come on,” Umiko said, and they resumed walking towards the train station. Nene was filling up with nervous anticipation.

Neither of them had expected this at the start of the day, but sometimes things develop in surprising ways.

~Wulf

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Posted on August 9, 2017, in Fiction, Sorta reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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