Yosuke was totally cool with the entire gay thing. Sure, it wasn’t what he was into (and, despite everyone’s raised eyebrows, this was not denial. Not that kind of denial, at least), but he totally got that some people were into it. Kanji, for example. Hard gay, right there.
But then you had Chie and Yukiko, who Yosuke would be… hard-pressed to identify as gay. Or even into each other, if not for the way they arranged exclusive dates with each other, held hands, and played footsie under the table during their investigation meetings.
They were totally into each other.
Now the only question was how to make them get together, because if he couldn’t surmount the Amagi Challenge, then he’d just have to do it by proxy. Direct attacks didn’t work. He knew that because Chie had helpfully pointed him into the direction of her foot, and Yukiko had responded with an obliviousness that had to be purposeful.
“Do you like Chie?” he had asked.
“Oh, of course! We’ve been friends since we were children.”
Various attempts to clarify the meaning of 'like' were met with confusion, denial, and Yukiko laughing at him, which was utterly demoralizing. Except then she ditched him to go spend more time with Chie. She even wore makeup.
They were totally into each other. Yosuke was sure of it. Except for the entire denial thing. He could break through that. Probably. He was good at denial. Or, rather, at sensing it. Not that he had any experience with denial. (Really.)
Except he had no experience with having two people unwittingly seduce one another without knowing that they actually were seducing one another, either.
He bought flowers, signed Yukiko’s name (or the closest approximation of Yukiko’s signature he could muster) and stuck the flowers into Chie’s shoe locker.
Then he saw Naoto staring at him from the entrance.
“Ah,” said Naoto. “Please excuse me.”
“Er,” he said. “Sure.”
“Yosuke!” Chie said. “What’s the joke?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chie threw the flowers on his desk. Well, crap. Count “stage one” as a complete and utter failure. “Oh! Well, I didn’t send them, so I wouldn’t know—”
“Naoto-kun told me that you put these in my locker!”
“And what’s with Yukiko’s name on them? If you want to ask Yukiko for a date, just ask her for one to her face, not tell me to ask her out for you!”
“But—agh!” He didn’t think it was possible for her to kick him in the stomach while he was sitting down, but she managed it.
He spent the entirety of first period hoping that Chie hadn’t ruptured his appendix, because holy hell, the girl kicked hard.
He decided it would be best if he tried to explain himself to Naoto first, because god knew, he could use all the help he could get.
“I apologize, but I fail to see the logic behind your actions.”
“You don’t think they’d be happier together?” he asked.
“Well,” Naoto said. “That is not a guarantee.”
“But they’re fixated on one another."
“They are good friends.”
“They play footsie.”
“They go on dates.”
“I will concede that point.”
“Naoto-kun,” he said. “You’ve got to help me out here. If Chie catches me pulling anything off like that again, she’ll kill me.”
“Perhaps Rise-san would be better at this,” she said in a last ditch effort to escape from The Plan. It didn’t work, because Rise immediately chastised Naoto for “stifling true love.”
So, despite Naoto’s protests, the three of them formed the most awkward triangle of teamwork ever.
Rise and Naoto deemed Yukiko to be more of a romantic than Chie was.
First of all, Yukiko was less likely to respond to flowers in her shoe locker with a, “goddamn it, Yosuke.”
Second of all, Chie was an ice queen. Or at least, romantically frigid. Or at least, really, really not into the dating thing. Or at least, responded to a love letter by beating up the sender.
Third of all, Yukiko had the entire fairy tale thing going on for her. That had to indicate a romantic at heart, right?
So the next plan was to plant Russian dolls inside Yukiko’s shoe locker. Not exactly an orthodox romantic proposition, but there wasn’t really much that was normal about any of them. The second part of the plan was a bit more traditional: the three of them wrote love letters that would, in Yosuke’s opinion, make Yukiko’s knees go a bit weak. “You make my heart pound like a ten kilometer sprint. Your long, soft silky tresses remind me of Jackie Chan.”
Okay, those last two had been his ideas, but it was still romantic.
That plan went straight to hell when three days passed before Yukiko even took notice of the dolls. In fact, the only reason she took notice was because the dolls fell inside her shoe, and she stepped on it.
“Oh,” she said. “I wonder how these got there.”
Then she took them to the lost-and-found.
Chie found Yosuke the next day at the gates of Yasogami High.
“Yukiko hates dolls,” she said.
“I didn’t put them in!” Yosuke said. Which was not, technically, a lie, because Rise had put the dolls in.
“Well, you’re the only one who’d do something freaky like that!”
“Wh—how is it freaky?!”
“Leaving weird objects in someone’s shoe locker, sending all those letters to the Inn—her parents are about to file a police report!” Chie looked around, and then said, in a lower voice, “Hey, do you want me to talk to her for you?”
Not unless it was a confession of her love. “No!”
“Well, stop being a creep!”
And with that, she stormed into the building, leaving Yosuke standing there with the rest of the school whispering around him.
Great. Just great.
In the middle of Operation Mix Tape, Chie tugged at Yosuke’s sleeve at the beginning of break and said, “Yosuke, you have to stop this.”
What the. What now?
“I can’t believe you’d go as far as to make Kanji-kun knit something for her.” She handed a red sweater to him. Yosuke stared at the knitted sweater. And then he realized the only person who could get Kanji to knit something on a whim for Yukiko would be Naoto.
Excellent. He had found another coconspirator.
“Er, how about something real hardcore?” Kanji said. “Somethin’ all nice and sweet?”
“How is that hardcore?” Yosuke asked, a bit pained. If he wasn’t careful, Kanji would sneak in a 70s love ballad. Or maybe an 80s power ballad.
“Well, I was thinkin’ of Debussy…”
“Who?” Yosuke and Rise asked.
“A French composer. He has some wonderfully romantic pieces,” Naoto said. She smiled at Kanji and said, “I wouldn’t have thought of him myself. Perhaps we should add Rachmaninoff to our list.”
“I thought that was the tortured artist guy?” said Rise.
“Can’t we stick to stuff with actual words, people?” Yosuke said.
That didn’t help when Naoto added in an opera piece, as well.
“Oh, Yosuke-kun,” said Yukiko, handing a CD back to Yosuke. “This is yours.” Yosuke stared. How did she know? The mix tape had been placed directly into the Amagi Inn’s mailbox. No address. Naoto had even insisted on wearing gloves so the police couldn’t track their fingerprints. “Rise-chan told me you were collecting everyone’s favorite songs, so I burned a few of mine for you.”
“Did you get anything in the mail?” Yosuke asked cautiously.
“Oh, yes,” Yukiko said. “Although how did you know?”
“Well, why don’t you give it a listen—”
“It was something I had ordered online.” She reached into her bag, and handed Yosuke a small packet of nuts. “Chinese hickory nuts,” she explained. “They were held up at customs for a week.”
Yosuke mutely accepted the nuts. As he ate them for lunch, one of his classmates went to anaphylactic shock—apparently, because of an extremely sensitive nut allergy.
As far as Yosuke was concerned, it had never happened.
Souji wound up being roped into things as well after he asked why Chie had been kicking Yosuke a lot more lately.
“Setting those two up?” Souji looked thoughtful—well, granted, it was something of a default state for him, but he looked a bit more so than usual. “I would personally try going for a more subtle route. For example, asking the two of them to meet you at the same location, but never showing up.”
That plan ended failing when Yukiko called on Sunday morning telling Yosuke she couldn’t meet him because something just came up at the Inn, and she was really very sorry, but she would have to postpone their meeting until next week or so.
Since he knew Chie would probably kill him if there was no one to meet her, Yosuke dragged himself out of bed and proceeded to have the worst Sunday date ever.
“This isn’t working,” Yosuke said to Souji. “Yukiko isn’t even taking notice of Chie, Chie’s too busy glaring at me to pay any attention to Yukiko, and all the first years ran off to have a giant orgy.”
Don't worry,” Souji said. “You’re doing everything perfectly.”
Yosuke eyed Souji suspiciously.
“Trust me,” Souji said. “You couldn’t be doing a better job if you tried.”
“Lately, I feel like I’ve been kind of… possessive,” Chie said to Souji. “I mean, I know it’s normal to want to spend time with your friends, but the more Yosuke goes after Yukiko, the more I want to keep her for myself. My Shadow isn't coming back, is it?”
“Perhaps you should think of talking about this with Yukiko,” he suggested.
“Oh, I couldn’t! I mean, Yukiko seems pretty amused by this entire thing, and you know how busy she is…”
“Trust me,” he said. “She'll make time for you.” Then, because, why not, he said, “Why don’t you arrange to go somewhere out of town? Something the both of you enjoy. I can even help you make reservations for a restaurant I know of in the city.”
“Lately, Chie’s been more… distant with me,” Yukiko said. “I know that she has other friends, but she’s been spending so much time with Yosuke-kun lately that… Don’t you think the two of them look good together?”
“It depends,” Souji said. “In what context?”
“Well… I suppose romantically.” Yukiko smoothed over her skirt. “I’m a little jealous.”
“Yosuke-kun." Souji was impressed. The answer came almost instaneously. "It’s not that I want to monopolize her time! I just want us to stay close friends, that’s all.”
"You should talk with her,” Souji said. “Why don’t you go into the city together? You probably need a break from the Inn, anyway, and I’m sure Chie could use a break from training so hard.”
“Are you sure?” Yukiko said. “I don’t want to bother her…”
“Trust me,” said Souji. “You won’t be a bother.” Then, because it wasn't like he wasn't already running this show anyway, he said, “Why don’t you go with Rise to the city this afternoon, while you still have the time? I know she can help you pick something out for the occasion.”
“Oh my god,” Chie said to Souji on the day after the date. “Did Yosuke buy Yukiko that dress? Oh my god, I’m going to kill him.”
Better him than me, Souji thought.
“What’s wrong?” Souji said.
“She was wearing—this dress, and…” Chie trailed off. “Oh my god, I’m never going to be able to look at her again.”
Hard to do, especially when Yukiko went and sat down right in front of Chie.
Chie buried her face miserably into her arms, but not before giving Yukiko a noticeable eye rake—one that, Souji noticed, made Yukiko redden a bit not with embarrassment, but something else.
“Yes, last Sunday went wonderfully,” Yukiko said cheerfully to Souji over lunch. “It wasn’t exciting, but I thought it was a very well-planned date. I was surprised by how she had reservations for dinner and…” Her eyes widened, and her mouth formed a silent, “oh.”
“Yes?” Souji prompted.
“Nothing,” she said. “I just realized something, that’s all.”
“Put this into Chie’s shoe locker,” Souji said to Yosuke. It was… a red dress.
“What?” Yosuke said.
“Trust me,” he said.
First period went something like this.
Chie Satonaka stormed, very angrily, up to Yosuke before class started and said, “I challenge you to a duel.”
“Wait, what?” Yosuke said. “What for?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Chie said, her face red. “You’re obviously trying to provoke me! Well, if you want a fight, then you’ve got it!”
“Wait!” Yosuke said. “You don’t understand! That dress is supposed to be a gift for Yukiko-san—”
Whoosh, went Chie’s fist as it flew through the air.
Crack, went Yosuke’s nose.
Yukiko, who had been standing at the door, gasped a bit, and then rushed over to Chie and said, “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m fine! Totally fine!” Chie, breathing heavily, said, “Actually, Yukiko, c-could I talk to you? In private?”
“Yosuke-kun,” Yukiko said, when she visited Yosuke in the nurse’s office after the private talk with Chie. “I apologize for my inconsideration.”
“Yeah, sure,” Yosuke said. He was balancing a cold compress on his face. “No problem.”
“I’m afraid that I will have to respectfully decline your romantic affections towards me,” she said. “I’m already seeing someone.”
“Oh, really,” Yosuke said. And then: “Wait, come again?”
Chie stuck her head into the nurse’s office, and mouthed, ‘Say anything and die.’
“Well, congratulations,” he said. “I hope she makes you happy.”
“Er… yes…” Yukiko, a bit awkwardly, glanced over her shoulder. “Well, that’s the thing, Yosuke-kun. I’m seeing Souji-kun.”
“Oh my god, I’m so stupid,” Chie groaned to Rise. “I can’t believe I told her to go out with Souji-kun!”
“Senpai is really rather charming,” Rise said.
“I don’t want her to date Souji-kun!”
“Well, why don’t you just tell her that?”
“I can’t do that, I just told her that she should start seeing him!”
“Well, maybe if Souji-kun were shown to be romantically inclined towards someone else…”
“I can’t do that! I’d be breaking her heart!”
“Then what do you want her to do, Chie-senpai?” Rise asked, because even her endless love of gossip had its limits.
“Um,” Chie said. “Well.”
“I’m sorry, Souji-kun,” Yukiko said, when he came to her by the shoe locker. “I’m busy today again.”
“You always seem to make time for Chie-san,” Souji said with a smile.
“Well, my parents think I should spend more time with Chie, and… I’m sorry, Souji-kun, I don’t think things can work out between us.”
“That’s fine,” Souji said. “I think I was so shocked by you asking me that I said yes automatically.” Then he pulled out a green sweater from his shoe locker. “Take this as a parting gift,” he said. “I’ve been learning from Kanji-kun.”
Yukiko ran her hand over the sweater fondly. “Oh…,” she said. “Thank you. It’s not really my color, but I appreciate the gift, Souji-kun. I have something Chie told me to give to you.” She handed Souji a letter.
Souji stared at it. It was an invitation to a duel, as written by Rise. Signed by Rise, too, even though it technically said ‘Chie’. He’d recognize that handwriting anywhere.
“Oh… yes,” he said. “Thank you.”
Yosuke should had guessed that going up to the roof during lunch would be a bad idea. Especially since Souji told him the secret password was, “I’m his second.” This was the second time in a month that he was in the nurse’s office with a cold compress on his nose. Souji and the rest of Team Get Them Together had gathered at his bedside.
“Sorry,” Souji said. “Chie-san seemed pretty angry, and I thought you’d be able to talk her down.”
“Like hell you did, you jerk,” Yosuke ground out.
“Hey, least it worked out for the best,” said Kanji. “I mean, I was beginning to think nothing would happen between those two.”
Yosuke sighed. The entire thing had been slipshod and chaotic and full of failure, but hey, at least it worked in the end.
Now if only he could find a girlfriend.