Chiyuri stared blankly at the other girl. "You can't possibly be serious. There's no way Yumemi would fall for that. It's far too ridiculous."
Her Gensoukyo counterpart smirked. "Please. We both know Yumemi's smarter then us, but more observant? Hardly. The setup will put her off balance enough that she'll miss the signs. She gets really overenthusiastic when something catches her fancy."
Chiyuri sighed remembering the planet destroying bomb bit. "Fine. But why should I do this in the first place?"
The other Chiyuri sighed as well. It was very strange, talking with someone who was for all intents and purposes, herself. It was like discovering an identical twin, except instead of spending their childhood trying to make themselves different from each other, they'd been shaped by their separate realities to be as similar as possible.
The other woman pushed herself back upright. "Look, you like her right?"
Chiyuri opened her mouth to deny it, then closed it. It would be stupid to argue with her. "Yeah. And you like her too."
The other Chiyuri smiled weakly. "Damn straight. But unfortunately we're idiots who believe in fair play, which means you get the first shot."
Chiyuri felt her own mouth curling into a frown. "You know I don't like being rushed."
"Rushed?" Her counterpart rolled her eyes. "You've had years! And you know I don't like waiting."
She had a point, Chiyuri mused. That was one of the worst parts of arguing with her other self. Unless she started the argument she usually lost.
Chiyuri threw up her hands. "Alright fine." Chiyuri slumped back into her chair and looked her counterpart in the eyes. "So great and wise magical me, how does this harebrained scheme help either of us? Why should I pretend to be you on this date, instead of, you know, asking her out as myself?"
"Because you worry that Yumemi only sees you as an assistant, and that so long as you're the 'non magical Chiyuri' you'll never match up," the other Chiyuri said.
Chiyuri thought for a moment. "And you're afraid she only sees you as a research specimen and that you'll never match up to the 'real Chiyuri,'" she replied in as even a tone as she could manage.
Her counterpart grimaced, but didn't argue. "So now you get it."
Chiyuri sat and thought. It still seemed like a stupid idea, but as she went over it in her mind over and over she found herself, unsurprisingly, agreeing with her counterpart. It was dangerous but she couldn't think of any other way. Well she could think of several other ways but she was pretty sure she'd lose her nerve if she tried any of them.
She wasn't sure she wanted to go through with this plan either, but then the other Chiyuri would probably set the plan in motion whether she wanted her to or not. It was something she would do after all.
"Fine. I'll do it," Chiyuri muttered. "When does this brilliant plan take place?"
"Christmas of course."
Chiyuri looked at her Gensoukyo counterpart. "What?!"
Chiyuri tried to focus on the neon lights around her to keep herself from pacing. The butchered Arabic on the closest marquee didn't make her feel any less nervous, but it occupied her at least. Phrases like "Peace be upon all rocks" made her wonder who exactly had done the conversion. Even internet translators should have been able to get that right.
"Ah, Chiyuri. Did I keep you waiting?"
Chiyuri felt her heart skitter about as she whirled around. Yumemi stood out easily from the crowd, even though she wasn't wearing her normal attire. The older woman had settled for a half mantle over a crimson jacket that went down to her knees, along with some ruby red shoes. The attire was simple, but far more dressed up then the professor normally wore and better yet, there seemed to be a faint blush on Yumemi's cheeks. Chiyuri would have been really happy, if it weren't for the fact that Yumemi'd dressed up for the wrong Chiyuri.
"It's fine. I just got here," Chiyuri lied. In truth she'd arrived an hour beforehand. Both her and her Gensoukyo counterpart had used the excuse of buying Christmas presents to get out of the house and perform the switch before the meeting. It was hard pulling off stuff like this when all of you lived in the same complex. "You look nice, Yumemi."
Yumemi's blush became more visible. "Thanks. You too, Chiyuri."
Chiyuri smoothed her own long jacket a bit. "Ahaha, the other Chiyuri let me borrow it." Or I would have if it wasn't actually me going on the date, Chiyuri thought.
Yumemi laughed lightly. "Well I'd say she picked well, but you already knew that." Yumemi stepped towards the main sidewalk, Chiyuri following behind. "So, um, where did you plan on going?"
"Ah, I've got reservations at a restaurant a couple of blocks down," Chiyuri said, moving to take the lead. She considered trying to take Yumemi's hand, but the other woman had her hands clasped together, so Chiyuri dropped the idea.
Instead she tried to focus on the scenery around them. "So, um, is it usual for there to be this much snow?"
Yumemi seemed to jump at the question. "Ah, no. You wouldn't know this but the weather people messed up a little this year, so we got more snow then usual."
Chiyuri looked up at the sky. "Huh. It might be nice to get regular weather, but it still seems weird. The random snow in Genoukyo feels more right."
"Maybe." Yumemi looked up as well. "Still even with all that planning there's sometimes fortunate little accidents like this. Though I imagine the street sweepers aren't pleased."
"Ahaha, I imagine not." Chiyuri smiled. They chatted a little more about the snow before arriving at the restaurant. The heating inside quickly banished both the winter chill and their conversation.
The waiter led them to their seats, a small table next to the window. Chiyuri was kind of glad it wasn't candlelit. She was already feeling very weird about this date, she didn't need to worry that she was overplaying her hand (the other Chiyuri's hand?) more then she should for a first date.
That was why she was extra nervous as they took off their jackets. Her white backless dress was a little more risqué then she would have liked, but everything else she had wasn't fancy enough. Maybe she shouldn't worry though. Her knotted shirts had started pushing limits now that she'd gotten three years worth of growth in.
Yumemi of course was still in red. A short sleeved dress with a short skirt, simple, but still capable of showing her figure off. Chiyuri didn't think Yumemi owned anything like that. She preferred business attire when trying to separate grant people from their research money. Together they had quite the Christmas theme going.
The waiter quickly took their drink orders and vanished into the background. They sat in silence for a bit, looking over the snow covered sidewalks below. The silence seemed to form in layers between them, filled with the quiet sounds of the other diners. Finally Yumemi broke the quiet. "So, I… was kind of surprised that you asked me out, Chiyuri. And, well, kind of surprised my Chiyuri was willing to go along with it.
Chiyuri coughed and drank a little to cool the burning that crept across her cheeks. 'My Chiyuri' she said? "Well we talked it over a bit. As for me well, I was interested you from the moment we met. And when I learned how you were working to prove your theories on magic despite how your peers dismissed you out of hand, well…" The two women both blushed and turned to their water glasses.
"I'm happy to hear that." Yumemi smiled a little. "And I'm happy that I didn't scare you away with my obsession with work. I was a little worried you'd see me as using you as a guinea pig or a replacement assistant."
"Well I have to admit I was a little worried about those things," Chiyuri replied. She nervously fiddled with her napkin as she cursed her other self. She was stuck between seducing Yumemi for someone else or backstabbing the person who helped set this up. Wonderful.
She started as Yumemi gently placed a hand on hers. "I know I'm really bad at expressing myself sometimes. And my jokes might be a bit off to most people, but I want you to know you're very important to me Chiyuri. Not only have you shared your magic with us, but you've added a lot to our lives." Yumemi's smile turned down a bit. "Part of what you added being a constant fear of the police…."
Chiyuri winced at that. "Er, yeah. Sorry about that." Well it wasn't her fault, but she understood the sentiment.
Yumemi's smile flickered back. "But more importantly you added a lot of life to the household. Your unique viewpoint, your carefree attitude, and your cooking." Her smile widened. "Especially your cooking. My Chiyuri is okay but her recipes are really limited."
"Ahaha, it's nothing," Chiyuri looked around to try to hide her blush. Her heart had taken flight again at Yumemi's words again, even if it was hidden in praise for someone else. "Speaking of that I wonder where the food is."
"I'm sure it'll be around soon enough," Yumemi said, squeezing her hand slightly. "So, tell me Chiyuri, what were you doing before you decided to stowaway on our ship?"
Chiyuri was glad Yumemi was being vague. Her life was actually pretty close match to her counterparts before the dimension hop. "Well, not much, really. I'd just gotten out of school, er, private tutoring that is, and I really didn't have any direction. That's one of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity."
Yumemi smiled encouragingly. "I see. Well I'm happy it worked out for you. After everything calmed down I became a little worried you might find life in a large city not to your liking."
And now the hard part, acting as if she'd grown up in Gensoukyo. Fortunately, their food arrived right then, giving her time to think. Sadly it also meant Yumemi was no longer holding her hand, but she would just have to live with that.
"Well, Gensoukyo village is small, but not that small. I mean we have room for noble houses…" Chiyuri took a bite of her eel dish in order to try to remember some of the names the other her had mentioned. "…like the Heida. And we have several shops and restaurants. Just nothing like this," Chiyuri finished with a wave to the city skyline.
"We never really looked over the village," Yumemi mused for a moment before shaking her head to clear it. "But I shouldn't think shop tonight, right?"
"Nope," Chiyuri replied with a smile of her own.
The two focused on their dinners again, chatting about minor recent events. Fortunately Yumemi had been working solo recently so neither her nor her counterpart had any idea about recent events in Yumemi's life. This switch was actually going well. Except for the part where Yumemi thought she was seducing the wrong person.
As the meal began to wind down and the dessert forks were being placed down for the last time, Yumemi asked, "So, you never met a Yumemi in your world?"
"No," Chiyuri shook her head sadly. "I've never met anyone quite like you, Yumemi." She felt heat creeping back into her face but she forced herself to continue. "You're unique. I've never met anyone like you, whether human or youkai."
Yumemi sipped at her nearly empty glass. "Ah. That's quite a compliment. Though maybe you just didn't meet your world's Yumemi." Yumemi's eyes grew distant for a moment, then her lips twitched upwards. "Well too bad for that Yumemi then! I'm not giving you back."
A giggle escaped Chiyuri's lips. "Just don't threaten to blow up the planet okay?"
"Tch." Yumemi crossed her arms in a huff. "You shouldn't listen to everything the other Chiyuri tells you. It was just a joke. I wasn't really going to blow up the planet just because I lost to that shrine maiden."
"So I should ignore her story about the time you dumped the punchbowl on the dean of theology's head?" Chiyuri asked innocently. "Or the time you flew to the Amazon when you heard about a new book of magical rites that no one had seen before?"
"Yes!" Yumemi waved her hands to cut off the questions. "She exaggerates all the time. The curse of having a post doc who knows you too well."
"Yes…" Chiyuri felt odd as Yumemi's good cheer turned into a sigh. "We've known each other a long time. I guess my Chiyuri was scared off by our professional relationship though. Or perhaps we're just too familiar."
Chiyuri couldn't take it anymore. "You keep saying 'my Chiyuri'…"
Yumemi jerked upright, then drooped a bit. "Ah sorry, that has to be a little discouraging for you. But I have to be honest. I've come to rely on this world's Chiyuri a lot. I…." Yumemi hesitated pursing her lips.
"Please keep talking!" Chiyuri's heart was wobbling all over the place now. "I want… I want to know your feelings. All of them about both of us, not just the ones you think I want to hear. I need to know!"
Yumemi took a deep breath. "You know me Chiyuri, even if you've only been with me for three years. You know I'm not some starry-eyed girl who knows instantly that she's in love. But I do know what I want. And what I want is for both of you to stay by my side not just professionally or personally." Yumemi looked away and sighed. "I'm, not sure what I'd do if either of you decided to leave."
Her smile returned a little. "I was kind of worried about this date actually, until my, er, this world's Chiyuri said she was fine with it. I was afraid that choosing one of you might drive the other away. And after all it's Christmas. The day you're supposed to spend with the one you love."
Chiyuri sat there in shock. This was all going wrong, but Yumemi kept barreling ahead. "As for romance, well, I find you attractive. And while it would be wrong to abuse my position as a researcher here, I think that we're past that stage in the relationship." Yumemi blushed a little and fiddled with the silverware. "So, I'm very willing to… research… a more intimate relationship."
It was too much for her brain. Chiyuri put her face in her hands as she blushed wildly. "Only you could make that cheesy line sound halfway seductive professor."
"Professor?!" Chiyuri froze. She felt Yumemi's hand cup her chin, and her face was slowly forced up to meet the older woman's steely gaze. "Chiyuri. Explain. Now."
"Ah, I must have picked it up from…" Chiyuri's explanation was cut off by Yumemi shaking her head. "That's not gonna work, is it?"
Chiyuri considered her options. She didn't have her laser pistol, lies were probably not going to cut it, the chance of a distracting explosion were minimal, so her best option seemed to be to tell the whole truth as if it made sense.
"So we both like you, and we were both worried about you just thinking of us as friends, so we planned this switch so we could muster up the courage to figure out which one of us you liked, and well it worked. Kinda." Chiyuri tried to smile to make the story sound a little less stupid.
Yumemi's head fell to the table with a thud. "I don't know who's dumber. You for thinking up this ridiculous childish nonsense or me for falling for it!"
Chiyuri gulped. "Well, I meant everything I said. It's just sometimes I was speaking for the other Chiyuri."
Yumemi looked up, and for the first time in a long while Chiyuri couldn't tell what mood the woman was in. "You have a way of contacting her right?"
Chiyuri nodded and tapped a button. "Subvocal mike and ear bud if you asked any questions about specifics. I just turned it on, so she can hear us now."
"Wait, what?!" her alternate cried out. "How much does she know?!"
Yumemi glared right at the button. "Alright you. This Chiyuri is going to take me to see you. And then you're both going to spill your stories again. And then we are going to have a long long talk. I hope you picked a place where we can have a long talk, or am I dragging you two home first?"
Chiyuri blushed a bit. "She's at an arcade next to a hotel."
"You know what kind of hotel that is," hissed her Gensoukyo counterpart.
Yumemi blushed but her expression didn't change. "I see. She felt confident did she? Well tell her to get a full night, because you two have a lot of explaining to do."
Yumemi stood and reached down to pull Chiyuri up before lightly gripping her hand. "And then I'm going to explain that you two are both my Chiyuris and nothing is going to change that. Not even if some other world's Yumemi comes for one of you."
Chiyuri felt like her face was on fire, but she happily followed her love out of the restaurant. She had no idea how she was going to get along with her other self, but she was willing to make an effort for Yumemi.
And if she had to share her love sharing with herself really wasn't so bad.
Still she should take some precautions. She coughed lightly to get her counterpart's attention then subvocalized, "Get the room for the night."
"And make sure there's a folding chair in it, in case Yumemi decides she needs more of us."