Day broke. After a long night of sighs and restlessness, Yae decided the best course of action was to visit a fortune teller. Maybe it wasn't meant to be, after all. Maybe her destiny was not actually what she thought it was.
Yae pushed the curtain at the entrance of the Plasma Fortune Teller's abode aside and stepped inside. It was empty, silent, and completely dark. "...Hello?" she called out.
Without warning of any kind, the room was filled with an earsplitting "PLASMAAAAA!" Yae winced as the lights went up and eerie music began playing. No matter how many times she had visited this particular brand of fortune teller, she had never quite gotten used to this greeting. "For a mere 15 ryo, I will gaze into your future and guide you on the right path," the voice, which belonged to a plump man in a purple mask, continued in a more reasonable tone. "What say you, young lady?"
After rubbing her ears to remove the ringing, Yae threw 15 ryo at the feet of the fortune teller. "There's a man. I've been harboring...feelings for him for a long time now, and I want to know if we're meant to be together, or if I should just give up and stop trying to get with him. And I'd appreciate it very much if you could give me my advice without any shouting, please."
"Oh, so it's love you seek, is it? Well, in that case..." The fortune teller pulled a red and purple rope hanging from the ceiling, causing the stage he stood on to metamorphose. Much of the old furniture rotated until it was underneath the floor and was replaced by heart-shaped lamps, tables, and other similar decorations. The lighting of the room became slightly dimmer and took on a soft red glow. He then announced "Welcome to...PLASMA'S LOVE SHACK! PLASMAAAAA!" at which Yae yelped and scowled. "For 25 ryo, I will solve all of your love-related problems."
"25 ryo? You don't mean in addition to the 15 I already gave you, do you?" Yae raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms.
"Did you? If you did, which I doubt, I'm afraid you gave 15 ryo to Plasma the Fortune Teller. As for myself, I am Plasma the Love Doctor." At this introduction, a sign reinforcing this new identity fell from the ceiling and bounced in midair until it floated contentedly about five feet above Plasma's head. "So, I'll take that 25 ryo and give you something that's bound to make this man fall in love with you, or else I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave. Even a lady as exquisitely beautiful as yourself won't get anything from me for free."
Yae rolled her eyes and sighed. "Would this be right?" she wondered. "Can I play tricks with his heart to force him to fall in love with me?"
"Come now, my dear. Time is money, do you want my help or not?" Plasma crossed his arms and tapped his foot impatiently.
Yae sighed once more and reached into her pocket, groping around for coins. "Fine. Here." She threw the 25 ryo at his feet, at which point one quickly swept the money away behind him.
"Excellent. Now, tell me more about this man." Plasma pulled a bottle out of a drawer and began squeezing lemons and grinding herbs over it, humming excitedly as he did so. Yae guessed that his excitement was due mostly to the increased profit he had just received.
"Er, all right...Well, he's strong, and kindhearted, though a little rough around the edges...But I know he cares deeply for people and will do anything for his friends. Oh, and he's certainly not bad-looking, either," she added with a giggle. "In fact...I think the first time I realized how much he really meant to me was when he helped me out of a jam...It seems so long ago now that I think about it, but it really meant a lot when he saved me from the clutches of those masked carpenters. And then I started to take notice of his undying chivalry, and his strong sense of justice, and his compassionate concern for his friends..." Yae sighed and smiled as she was hit with a wave of nostalgia.
"Uh-huh, sounds great..." the love doctor said as if what Yae was telling him couldn't possibly be any more boring. He added, in a slightly quieter tone, "Hmm, I wonder if I should top this off with cat tears, frog saliva, or cherry blossoms...Decisions, decisions...What was she saying again?" Before Yae could inquire as to just what kind of a concoction he was making, he shoved a tiny red vial with an identically colored stopper into her face. "There you go. Thanks for waiting. Get him to drink all of this and he'll fall head over heels in love with the first woman to talk to him. Just make sure it's you and everything will proceed just as you hope for the rest of your lives."
Yae scoffed as she looked down at and rolled the vial in her hand. "A love potion? Seriously? Are you sure I didn't just pay for something that's only going to make him sick?"
Plasma wagged a reproving finger at Yae. "Don't doubt the power of this potion, my dear. Have faith, it will work. This I promise."
Yae shrugged. "Well...I guess it's worth a try, at least..." She brought the vial up to eye level and examined the small amount of swirling white liquid within.
Goemon awoke to find himself alone. She wasn't in the bedroom. "Geez, it didn't seem like she was interested in just a one-night stand last night..." She wasn't in the kitchen. "Damn, I was hoping she'd be making me an omelet or something..." She wasn't in the bathroom. "Hmm, I wonder if she'd let me watch her in the shower...Wait, who the hell am I talking to? It's not like there's anybody here."
It was around that time that the fact that it was already 11 in the morning finally dawned on Goemon. "Oh, right...She must be at work," he thought, bringing his habit of talking to himself under control at long last. "Hey, maybe if she can't make me breakfast, she can make me lunch instead!"
Being the regionally famous cook, waitress, and beauty that Omitsu was, it didn't take long for Goemon to arrive at the decision to eat at her teahouse, and hopefully have a chat with her about the previous night while he was there. After checking his pockets to make sure he had enough money to pay for lunch, he ran out the door and nearly into another friend. "Wah!...Oh, hey Yae."
"Wow, Goemon, you're sure in a hurry..." Yae said as she recovered from the shock of nearly being bowled over.
"Oh, heh, sorry...I'm probably a little overexcited for lunch, eh?"
"Lunch? Say, that'll be the perfect opportunity to..." With a small grin, Yae asked him where he was going and received "The teahouse where Omitsu works" as a response. At this answer, Yae froze. She still had no idea what Goemon and Omitsu had spoken about the previous night, but using similar logic she figured that it couldn't possibly get in the way of what she wanted. "Say, um...Would you mind if I went with you? I'm kind of hungry, myself."
"Not at all. Let's go!" And as he walked at Yae's side, he remained completely unaware that she was scheming about him in an uncharacteristically diabolical way.
"Are you enjoying your noodles, Goemon?" Yae smiled at her friend and target from across the table.
"Oh yeah, they're great. You know how much I love the food here." He picked up a huge clump of noodles with his chopsticks and stuffed them into his mouth. Even this sloppy display did not discourage or disgust Yae enough to abandon her mission.
Yae looked around for something, anything that could potentially distract Goemon long enough for her to carry out her plan. Finding nothing, she sighed and went back to eating her own food, a plate nearly overflowing with rice and fish.
A soft chuckle from behind caught Yae's attention. "Thanks for making my job easier, Yae. I was just about to ask him that." Omitsu smiled at both of them, though the one she gave Goemon was significantly longer in duration.
Goemon, also grinning from ear to ear, wasn't about to say anything, so Yae did instead. "So, what did you two talk about last night?"
"Hmm? How did you...Oh, right, you were there! I almost forgot..." Omitsu rubbed the back of her neck embarrassingly. "Well...it wasn't anything too important..."
"Yeah, you'll probably find out about it soon enough," Goemon added quickly. He was beginning to blush, which Yae found very suspicious, and rather unsettling. Maybe this really was a bad idea after all...Or maybe it was a sign of just how important it really was to act quickly.
"Anyway, I'll be back later to check on you two," Omitsu said with a quick wink in Goemon's direction.
As Omitsu went back to the kitchen, Yae sighed and noticed her hand was shaking, almost imperceptibly. Of course, the notion that a potion of this nature could actually work was ridiculous. Still, she had come this far...and she couldn't abandon her mission. Not now. Not until she had seen for herself whether it ended in success or failure.
She continued to look for a possible distraction, and finally found one. "Ah! Goemon, look out there!" Yae pointed at something just outside the entrance of the teahouse, and Goemon quickly turned to look. "There's a thief robbing an old lady!" The scene was exactly as Yae described it, as a woman was screaming and pointing at a fleeing man with a jangling pouch in his hand.
Goemon's instincts as the hero of Japan kicked in before he even had a chance to say anything. He ran outside, screaming curses at the thief and brandishing his favorite weapon, a golden-colored pipe. All the better for Yae, as it gave her time to pull out the vial and quickly pour its contents into Goemon's tea before running after him, without any suspicious delay.
Goemon was the first to return to the teahouse, having apprehended the criminal with little trouble. "Phew...All in a day's work for Japan's greatest hero...Huh? Where did Yae go? And why am I talking to myself again?" He picked up his cup and sipped some tea. "Mmm..." He gulped down the rest, tired from running so fast a few minutes previously.
"Oh, there you are," Omitsu said from behind him. "Would you like more tea, Goemon?"
It was at that moment that Yae reentered the teahouse. "Oh, Goemon, I figured you would be back here. I was wondering where--" What she saw right then caused her heart to rip in two. Goemon had Omitsu in a passionate embrace, while he kissed her with an equal amount of lust. Omitsu seemed surprised, even apprehensive, at first, but eventually ignored the stares she and Goemon were getting and reciprocated to nearly match his level of passion. Yae, meanwhile, no longer feeling hungry, simply stepped back outside, where she stopped for a moment before running off in the direction of her home.
Dejected and lonely, rejected and miserable, Yae made eye contact with and slowed down for no one as she went straight to her house. She could feel her throat becoming dry and her eyes becoming wet as she quickly opened the door and slammed it shut even faster behind her. Letting only a strained whimper escape her lips, she plopped down on the bed and buried her face in her hands. "I can't believe this...I knew it, I knew I shouldn't have meddled with something like this!" And as she muttered the phrase "I'm such an idiot" to herself, she realized that, perhaps, she was not meant to love or be loved. Maybe it would be better if she closed herself off from everybody else, neither giving nor accepting affection of any kind. After all, nobody really seemed to care about her, what she thought and what she felt. All she would get was leers and lecherous comments from passersby. Not from Goemon, though...Sure, he would show signs of lust on occasion. But overall, he would treat her with respect, something she had found difficult to obtain from most other people she had known. "How could I have been so wrong?" she wondered aloud.
Yae heaved a deeper and more saddened sigh than any she had made in recent memory. "No...No more. I can never love again. I can't take this anymore..." Nearly ripping her long green hair out, she paced her bedroom in a fury. Failure was never easy for her to accept, especially of this magnitude. She mentally berated herself, constantly passing blame for ruining her chance with the one person she knew who she could have even considered to be a potential mate.
There was a soft "Mew" as Yae's cat entered the bedroom and rubbed against her leg, begging to be picked up or at least petted. "Not now, Miyabi..." Yae mumbled angrily, already making good on her new philosophy. After lowering its head and tail, Miyabi slunk off to the corner and curled up in her bed, apparently taken aback by this sudden change in her mistress.
"Well...congratulations, Omitsu. You won, fair and square. And...I lost...I've failed..." And with that, Yae bowed out as gracefully as she could manage, with neither Goemon nor Omitsu aware of the lengths she had gone to fulfill her desires, or even that she had been competing for Goemon's love in the first place. With another heartbroken sigh, she curled up in her bed and closed her eyes. Perhaps working harder, focusing on other, more important things, could wipe this embarrassment from her memory. For now, though, she lacked the strength to do anything besides rest. And that she did, with a heavy mind and heart.
Author's Notes: "Oh, the hazards of love. You'll learn soon enough, the prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone." So, Yae's miserable...not a very happy ending, is it? Well, you can change that. I'm currently taking ideas for a direct sequel to this, and I'd love to hear what you think. Send your ideas my way via reviews, e-mail, whatever. There's also a poll on my DA page (my username there is the same as it is here), so I encourage any DA members to vote there. I look forward to hearing what you think! And if you don't say anything...well, Yae's just going to have to at least try and live the rest of her life as a hollow, emotionless shell, and I don't think anybody wants that. So be specific with your ideas and maybe they'll be included in a future story.
Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the story. Of course, I appreciate reviews that just talk about what you like and disliked, as well...