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Bathhouses, onsens, whatever you wanted to call them; they were among the most powerful tourist attractions in Japan; who didn't like getting a good soak every now and then, after all?
Truth was, that Amelie's lifestyle required the presence of constant stress relievers; between college and her everyday life at the Digital World. This seemed like the perfect ocassion for a first-timer; from what Kanae had told her, this probably would be a lot of fun!
That's how she entered the establishment, making sure to have all the necessary stuff with her; a towel and enough money to pay. Were these expensive? Truthfully, she had no idea.
And that wasn't something she'd find out until she got out, anyway! The whole process had been surprisingly easy; say you were interested in entering the baths, being given a basket to put your clothes in, changing and... just entering the place after taking a shower.
Soon enough, Amy found herself immersed in one of the most relaxing experiences she had lived, probably in the last sixth months or so. The water just felt so heavenly that she couldn't avoid to close her eyes and sigh.
"This is li~fe." She muttered to herself as she opened her eyes, giving a lazy look at people who were sharing the bath with her, if any.
"The hell am I even gonna do in an Onsen? Do I look like I need an onsen?!" Jiro decided this was a question he should not answer. Otohime had received some money from Mr. Madayoshi, her teach, and was told to go relax in an Onsen. He had made it sound a bit like an order, but it was clear he wanted his apprentice-slash-adoptive daughter to have a bit of a relaxing dip after she had worked very hard in the last couple of days to help finish the roof construction of a new house in the neighbourhood. She was reluctant, but in the end she could not say no. To Jiro's dismay, the girl had insisted he join her in hologuise. She would not hear anything about "separate baths", her buddy was gonna be there with her, and that was that. So it came that when Amy let her eyes wander, she spotted the odd pair, the short, androgynous young person with the steamy glasses, hiding their body wholly in a towel, head red as a strawberry, and the sukeban, clad in naught but her medical mask, displaying herself en natura without a shred of shame, her drooping eyelid making her look a bit drunk. When she spotted Amy looking at them, she raised her nose. "The fuck are you looking at?!"
Could it be that looking around in an onsen could be considered rude? Nah, that was really improbable, given that human beings did have eyes to look at things, and as long as that hadn't been done with any kind of malicious intentions, that probably was fine.
So, why was the black-haired girl being so fussy? Maybe she just was bashful about her appearance and that was why she was wearing a medical mask around her mouth despite them being in an onsen. Or maybe she thought that Amelie wanted to do something with the little kid that was beside her? As entertaining as that idea would have been in some kind of steamy romance novel, this was the real world.
Then, what would be the answer that the brunette would give to the obviously offensive teenager? It took her half a second at most to react, her expression maintaining an even calmness. "Well, I'd show you what I'm looking at, but that would imply ripping my eyes out and handing those to you. An~d I rather not. Too young to permanently lose eyesight over here." Her expression proceeded to change into a bit of a teasing grin. "Sides, I've heard that bleeding in an onsen is kinda rude. Dirtying the baths would be a shame, don't you think?"
Maybe that hadn't been the smartest move, but she wasn't taking crap from anybody, at least not when trying to relax. Maybe later.
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeh?! The fuck you just said?!" Otohime rose from the water, bunching up her fists. "You wanna go, mate!? You wanna fuckin' go!? I'm gonna fucking end you!" The tiny person next to her turned to her, still red, and took a hold of her arm. "R-r-r-r-ryuko-san, p-p-please, d-d-d-don't, s-s-s-she didn't mean it like that! I-i-i-i-it was just tease!" Otohime gave Amy a glare, then slid back into the water, huffing. "Yer lucky my lil' buddy is here to stand up for ya, cunt." The tiny person bowed. "Ah, s-s-s-s-sorry about that, m-m-m-my friend is a bit hot-headed...sh-sh-she didn't mean it like that!"
It had the effect that Amelie herself had expected for it to have. An angry person trying to do... angry person things. Not what she had expected from a relaxing visit to a bathhouse, but what else could be done about it? One thing was for sure, though; the brunette wasn't going to back down.
"I can repeat myself as much as you want to, dear." Her tone was bordering haughtiness now, just as her hand played with the water a bit. "Take bathhouses don't conduct soundwaves as well as other places; that's a pity, isn't it?"
Of course, this just wasn't going to end well, and the girl who would be called Ryuko afterward was already bordering wanting to start a fight with her. Whichhhh would probably with the two of them being kicked out of the place. Joyyyy.
Luckily, little guy with glasses seemed to be nice enough, and managed to calm her down; at that, the brunette would direct a good-natured wink towards him. He probably would not be able to keep things from escalating if she kept pushing Ryuko's buttons but... where was the fun in that? Amelie had decided she'd get her relaxation no matter what, and the fact that was just getting gratuitously insulted reinforced that opinion even more.
"Well, maybe he's standing up for me because he likes me more? I don't think that is very unplausible, considering... you're not being very nice at the moment. And you know what they say; no one likes bitches."
The brunette waved off the boy's bow and apology, a sincere smile on her face. Would he be alone in the onsen, they would probably be friends already. Alas, that wasn't the case and probably... Amy being a smartass was probably burning a bridge at the moment. But who knows.
"Why you little fuckface, I oughta-!" She was about to rear up again, but the statement that Jiro liked Amelie more did not anger her more...no, it confused her. She scratched her head, and looked over to her little friend. "Uuuuh, no? He's my bestest buddy there is, dunno what the fuck you're on about." Jiro, who had been blushing from the wink, now blushed from being hugged closer to the naked Otohime. "Ah, y-y-y-y-yeah, w-w-w-we're best buddies! S-s-s-sorry, Miss Guest, m-m-m-my friend here is a really nice person! Sh-she just gets angry fast..." He tried to ignore the close proximity to naked skin and tried to give Amy a reassuring smile. Otohime was clearly still peeved, but that bound of confusion calmed her down somewhat.
Who would know? The anger that had permeated the atmosphere moments ago was quick to transform into... something pretty weird. The scene that unfolded in front of Amelie's eyes was both heartwarming and amusing, between the affection displayed between the two individuals.
She couldn't resist giggling at those antics, honestly. Was that mocking or not? Hard to guess! "You know." The girl's smile grew as wide as it could be. "If I didn't know better, and considering you two have no issue being naked together, I'd risk saying that you're way more than friends. But that's just a casual observation; don't mind me at all."
In all honesty, she could see the charm on dating one of those shy, submissive types; even if those probably weren't her type. "No need to call me Miss Guest, either; name over here's Amelie. Pleased to meet you two, I guess."
Her words didn't drip as much sarcasm as she had meant them to, but that was fine, probably. "So, what is this couple of lovebirds doing in a bathhouse together? Hopefully I am not interrupting a date or something of the sort; that'd feel pretty bad."
Maybe that was the reason for Ryuko's initial hostility? Maybe she was the overly jealous type of girl that didn't want for no one else to take a look at her man. But that kinda clashed with the two of them going to an onsen...
Then again, she didn't sound like the sharpest knife in the shed, in all honesty.
"HAhahaha, hell yeah we're more than friends! We're, like, super duper ultra best friends! The bestest buddies there are!" Jiro shivered from sheer embarrassment, as he had caught on to the implication. "R-r-r-r-ryuko-san, I think sh-sh-she's implying w-w-w-we're lovers!" Otohime looked at Jiro, then looked back at Amelie, putting a hand to her temple and pulling up her limp eyelid to give her a quizzical look. The gesture was probably meant more dramatically than it ended up looking. She then pulled her hand back down and let her eyelid droop once again. "Naaaaaaaaaaaaah, can't be, look at that nerd! Someone like that got more brain than muscle, and smart people know you'd deserve a much nicer 'n less gruff ladyfriend than me!" She then gently elbowed him and then laughed loudly. This did not help Jiro's embarrassment in the slightest. "Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh...."
What was more amusing that somebody decidedly dense? Well, the answer was pretty clear; it was somebody decidedly dense that also pretended to not be so. Amelie herself had to cover her mouth in order to prevent her fit of giggles to evolve into full-blown laughter. This was just priceless, even if she wasn't sure of how what had been a previously hostile situation had changed that much in such a short span of time.
"Now, that's cute." The brunette finally managed to say; if the guy's blush was any indication of it, either the little guy was too bashful or there was definitely something else there. The fun was on finding if the second was true, however. "Haven't you stopped to think about it, though?" Amy began to speak to Ryuko. "Have you ever thought about him being... how to say it."
Her hands began to cause small ripples through the water as she observed them. "Captivated by that strong and no-nonsense personality of yours. Maybe he's the type of guy who prefers independent women; I can't really blame him if that's the case."
At this pace, she was sure that four eyes would probably faint due to embarrassment, but that was just what made the situation all the more interesting! "I don't know..." The brunette said, with an obvious fake innocent tone. "Have you considered on asking him what kind of girls does he like? That'd probably solve this mystery."
Otohime scratched her chin, now wholly confused, then shook her head. "Nah, I'm a bitch, I'm an asshole and this lil guy 'ere deserves much better than me, he can't be into me!" Though this gal did raise a good point! What kind of girls -was- Jiro into? "The nerd's right, Jiro, what kinda gals do ya even like?" The boy's eyes went wide. "E-e-e-eeeeeh!? M-m-m-me? G-g-g-girls?" He looked left and right, utterly overwhelmed by everything! Tears began to well up in his eyes...and then his body just kind of gave up, and he fainted. Otohime looked quite shocked. "Oh fuck! Look what you did to him you asshole!" She scooped the boy from the water, put him onto the dry rocks, and tried to reanimate him.
The situation presented next to her was just golden, or at least it was for Amelie. She couldn't have crafted a better situation, even if she had tried! However, the urge to laugh was getting harder and harder to resist with each passing moment.
"I mean, I won't deny what you just said about yourself." That much was obvious, even though the brunette couldn't resist making that remark with a grin. "But I think you just don't wanna open your eyes to the truth..."
Amy had more or less expected what came next. With Ryuko being that dense, it was natural for poor Jiro to just feel overwhelmed at the situation. At least there the risk of him drowning wasn't present; that much was good! From that, there were only two possible answers, at least in the teenager's mind; either the guy really liked her more forceful companion as more than friends, or he didn't like girls at all. Even though she was betting on the first one.
"Hey, I didn't do anything to him." A shrug pointed that sentence. "It was you who asked the question, remember? And, in all honesty, that's not how a shy boy would imagine his crush asking for an indirect confession, in my books. You could've been a bit more tactful, you know?"
How dense could this girl be? That was the true question.
"The fuck you on about? Opening me eyes? I can only properly open one of 'em, ya dumbass!" Yup, denser than lead. At least she really did seem overjoyed when Jiro returned back to the world of the conscious soon! "Uuuuuuh, where am I..." Oh, lil' buddy! I was worried, I thought you were a goner!" She hugged her companion close, he was too dizzy to really object or notice. Wasn't blushing anymore, either. "Eeeeeeh? Tactful??? What about? I ain't confessin'! I din't do anythin'! Ya can't prove a thing!" Seems she was quite literal minded too. What a comedy goldmine.
Well, that had been it. Amelie finally managed to erupt into a fit of laughter at the situation that ensued. Just... why she was trying to maintain a rational conversation with this girl? She was so blissfully dense that the brunette found that amazing. And funny, on its own way. To a casual observer, this would almost look like the usual route between a comedy duo, except that they were naked and in an onsen, but those were just details!
"It's fine, it's fine. Just don't mind me." Were the only things she could say while the laughter ensued. Luckily, and after a bit, the brunette managed to calm down. "I don't have to prove anything, you know? It's something you have to realize by yourself, but if you don't wanna see it... there's nothing I can do about it."
What she would do, however, would be approaching to where Jiro currently was in order to check on him. Jokes aside, health wasn't a joking matter and the poor guy had been just an innocent bystander in this whole conflict. Collateral damage, maybe? "How are you, little guy? Hope you're feeling better at the moment! Maybe you should get out of the baths a bit. Catch some fresh air and stuff."
By now Otohime was completely at a loss. The look of genuine bafflement and confusion on her face was quite delicious to behold. Then she shook her head, and sunk back into the water. "Whatever, this is stupid!" Jiro was quite dizzy still from that episode. He held his head as he slipped back into the water. "E-e-eh? Oh, I am f-f-fine, that was just...I got -really- dizzy..." She shook his head and tried to focus again. "I am better now, ah s-s-s-orry about that, I didn't mean to worry anyone..." "Hey, no apologisin' for faintin'! That ain't your fault!" "Ah, sorry...ah, how rude, I never gave you my name, miss..." Jiro bowed at Amy. "I am Jiro, a-a-and this is Ryuko-san, my best friend!"
Not much to do about her not-so bright new acquaintance, Amele thought. Just leave things be and watch when (if?) they would eventually resolve themselves. Not particularly in a hurry to see that, either; right now, the waters have been both calmer than when Ryuko had threatened to literally beat the crap out of her and when Amy's own teasing remarks had done a number at Jiro.
The brunette could definitely appreciate that tranquil atmosphere going for as long as possible. It would be pretty dumb on her side to try and open Pandora's box yet again, wouldn't it? And that's why she smiled at Jiro as soon as he regained his composure; it was nice to see him back, honestly.
"Somebody over here was really worried about you. Best to not faint again, okay?" The teenager, like always, proceeded to wave her hand at his apology, trying to dismiss it. "No need to apologize either; I think I both your names from the time you and your best friend were deciding whether to kick my ass or not."
What hadn't been answered, however, was a question that hadn't been asked too long ago, however! "Take you're just having fun in the bathhouse, then? For some reason, it seems like neither of you is really comfortable in here..."
It was almost as if they had been forced to be here, but who forced people to go to onsens? That one was pretty ludicrous.