Yuki-san was still irritated at how reckless I was. But, she was hugging me tightly, making sure I was still okay.
"Why'd you do that Kazuki?! I-Is it because y-you're tired of me? You're an idiot!" she pouted.
She squeezes me even tighter! I felt like I was getting the life sucked out of me by a boa constrictor. It was difficult to breathe, like I was breathing through a tiny straw.
"C-Can't breathe Y-Yuki-san!" I coarsely let out.
Yuki-san quickly lets go of me and then punches my arm lightly.
"Ow…" even though it was a pretty weak punch, I felt the urge to rub my arm up and down.
"Y-You promised to call me by my first name remember?" as she crossed her arms and cutely pouted again.
This must be some kind of trick.
"You told me to never call you by your first name in school yesterday!" I explained to her.
Yuki-san was confused. She had no clue what I was talking about. Her puzzled face was soon followed by a sudden realization.
"Wait!" as she moves frighteningly close to my face. "Tell me your whole day yesterday. Every detail you can remember, no matter how insignificant."
Just what is she talking about?
I explain to her my whole depressing day in detail. Every. Detail. I retell my embarrassing incident with Yuki-san, who shot me down in front of the whole class. I even tell her stupid things like yesterday class president lost her glasses, and had to use a different pair than her usual ones.
"Hmm…" Yuki-san ponders in thought. "This is strange."
She stands up and begins to pace around my bedroom.
"How could you have different memories? We have almost the exact same experiences, but the only differences are our interactions with each other." Yuki-san scratches the back of her messy bed-ridden hair.
"What if…and this is a big what if, but what if you are from a different dimension or something? Like that one movie about time traveling cell phones? Or that one anime…what was its name again?"
That sounded absolutely ridiculous. First I could be lucid dreaming, and now I was teleporting through different universes?
This isn't a manga or light novel! This is the real 3-D world!
I shake my head in frustration. This must have been a joke or prank.
"T-There's no way that's possible." I sigh. "Maybe."
Upon further thought, it did kinda make some sense in a strange way. Yuki-san did have a point, because it would explain the differences in our memories. But this is the same date, and I wasn't in the past or future. Time was still continuing like usual. I get off my bed and sit down near my desk.
"Why did you fall over? You didn't just fall over because you're a clumsy idiot right?" she asks.
I tried thinking of a witty response, but my mind was preoccupied at trying to make sense of everything. I tell her that I thought I was in a lucid dream.
"The feeling of falling is one of the sure ways to wake up from a dream, or a nightmare." Yuki-san looked even more confused.
Suddenly I feel a piercing pain on my arm. Yuki-san just pinched me and she really dug her nails through my pajamas.
Yuki-san lets out a small chuckle. "I guess you really aren't dreaming, are you?"
Still, I couldn't figure out what exactly was going on. Why did we have different memories, yet we could both recall certain things being the same? I look at Yuki-san, who began to pace around the room in a circle once more, mumbling to herself.
"I got it!" she exclaims. It was like a light bulb had suddenly lit up above her head.
Yuki-san rushes over to my desk and grabs a notebook, along with some markers.
"Uh…what are you doing-" until she shushes me. She was in a deep state of thought, scribbling and erasing her paper multiple times. I didn't want to break her concentration, so I stood quietly by her side.
"Finished!" as Yuki-san holds up the notebook in the air.
Yuki-san turns around towards me and proudly displays what she was working on.
Um…what is this?
Her paper was filled with a bunch of scribbles and pictures. From what I could make out of it, it seemed like she drew a chart, displaying details through cute cartoon cat-versions of us.
"Look!" she taps the notebook with her pen. "This is a theory, but based on what you've told me and how our memories are similar, this would explain a lot."
"What do you mean?" I asked her.
Akane moves her pen around the chart, explaining all the details.
"It seems that both our worlds are relatively the same, like world events, people, etc. But one thing is different – our relationship status."
She was right. It was the one thing that was weirdly different for both of us.
"I still remember when you confessed to me actually Kazuki." Akane says fondly.
"Yeah, and you rejected me." as I let out a small sigh.
"No, I actually said yes." she corrects me.
"At first…I thought you were joking or something." she laughs. "I was going to outright say no to you on the spot."
Akane shakes her head. "But when I looked into your eyes, I saw something genuine. I don't know what it was, but for some reason, the only thing that came out of my mouth was 'yes.'"
That happy version of the story didn't happen to me. I could sense a bit of disappointment from Akane, since I had no recollection of that ever happening.
"But, it seems that the one thing that is different is our relationship status. You said that I hate you in your world, but obviously that's not the case in this world." she explains.
Well, I hope you don't hate me.
"Based on your account, it seemed that this world hopping power of yours happened after your accident. It kinda coincides with the time you and I got together too. That may be the cause of your world hopping power, but correlation does not imply causation."
"World hopping?" Is that what we're calling it now?
"Let's assume that maybe you really do have world hopping powers, and can move between worlds. Let's call the world where you and I are not a couple, World B. Let's call this world where we are a couple, World A(kane)!" she smiles.
Akane points to a drawing of two versions of herself, one that was smiling, and another that was frowning. She was making sense for the most part, and I couldn't find any gaping holes in her logic either.
"Wait…shouldn't my world be called World A? After all, it's happening to me right?" I argued.
"That's confusing Kazuki. C'mon, it'll be easier for you to remember too, since in this world I want you to call me Akane, while in your world I don't." she points out.
"Sure…I guess." I was still a bit confused, but continued paying attention.
"I also have a theory that what you do with me in World B would not carry over to World A(kane), since I have zero recollection of me telling you to not call me Akane, and the World B version of myself having zero recollection of our lovely date at Felis-land." Akane's face was turning slightly pink, but she composes herself and continues on.
"B-But! It seems whatever you do with other people can carry over, meaning that stuff affects both worlds. Interactions involving us together with other people might play out differently. Like in this world people wouldn't be surprised of our relationship, but would be in your world."
I better keep that in mind. At least it means I don't have to worry about doing things twice.
"Wait…does that mean there's another me? Like a World A(kane) version of myself?!" I can feel anxiety build up in my gut. I couldn't imagine another me running around in this universe. Wouldn't that cause a paradox or something?
"For that one, I have no clue Kazuki. It could be possible since there are two versions of myself, but what matters is your memory transferring forward."
Thinking about a possible paradox is giving me a headache!
"Also, it seems that you must sleep in order to hop into the other world. Maybe there's a loophole where you could take a nap, but given that you've probably went to sleep around the same time for both worlds, there's probably a cool-down or time requirement. You need to sleep naturally." she further explains.
"We can test that out later…" as Akane places her hand on mine. Her ill attempt at being sultry turns her face bright red.
All of a sudden, it felt like my life was an MMO or a video game.
"Finally, you will always wake up in the other world. I don't think you would wake up in the same world twice in a row unfortunately."
All these rules suddenly made my life complicated. There was still one pressing issue though: is this real? My head was still taking in Akane's mad scientist-like theory. I was confused in certain parts, but I think I understood the important bits.
"To make things less complicated for you, why don't w-uh, I mean "I" distinguish myself?" as she promptly leaves and returns to my room rather quickly.
In her hand was a long red string, which she ties it into the shape of a bow into her hair.
"In this world, I'll be Akane, and in the other world, you know the other me as "Yuki-san."
"See, you'll know it's me if I have this ribbon on." as she points to the ribbon in her hair.
Akane and Yuki-san, that shouldn't be too hard to distinguish.
"Wait…what if the other you decided to put on the same string?"
Akane pauses in thought. She tilts her head towards the floor, and leans back on the bedroom door.
"She wouldn't…if everything you said about her was true." as she gives a melancholic expression.
Even though we were a couple in this world, it seemed Akane still had a secret or two. I could feel the sudden tension in the air, and I quickly decide to change the subject.
"S-So! What does it mean for our worlds? Are they both real?" I asked.
Akane lifts her head and begins to rub her chin in thought.
"Maybe. Your World B could be real, this World A(kane) could be real, or maybe neither. It just means whenever you fall asleep, you wake up in the other. Kind of like you're in a dream, that just happens to be real." as she smiles.
Does that mean my World B is fake?
My existential crisis is interrupted when Akane suddenly grabs my hands and looks into my eyes. It was like she was seeing through the windows into my soul.
"Does it matter which world is real? All of these rules and theories are open to interpretation as far as I know! I'm just happy that I'm with you Kazuki-kun."
Her bright smile lifts up my depressed mood. Akane washes away almost all my worries and doubts. There was no way this could be a dream. However, my time in this world was not going to last. I dreaded the feeling of waking up in my original world, where Yuki-san hated me.
I'll savor every second of my time here.
I'm at school now. Well, technically in World A(kane)'s version. When we arrived at the front gates I couldn't help but notice that nearly everyone was staring at us. Akane was different in this world. She was cheery and full of life unlike the cold demeanor of Yuki-san. Everywhere she went she was secretly tailed by a group of stalker-fans. Not once did I ever hear anyone mutter her infamous nickname of "Ice Witch." Instead, she was treated like royalty, and I was known as her sole knight in shining armor. Daisuke and Kaneko-san seemed the same in this world. Both were idiots, both were hot heads. The Daisuke in my world would have rather jumped off a cliff than to come near Yuki-san. But somehow in this world, Akane was well liked by everyone. I felt a newfound sense of pride that she was my girlfriend.
It was lunch time now, and Akane hands me a homemade boxed lunch. It was a lot of food, but she said mother encouraged her to cook more for me. I'm surrounded by my group of friends.
"A growing boy needs his nutrients!" she says, doing a poor imitation of my mother. I can't help but laugh.
Akane managed to make hamburg steak, my favorite dish! Her lunch box however, was almost three times bigger than mine.
"Um…you two are gonna share that right?" whispered Daisuke.
"Nope…it's all her."
Kaneko-san was furiously rubbing her eyes at the enormous lunch box. She just wondered where all the food would be going. She and Daisuke promptly look at their lunches, and realized how unappetizing it was compared to Akane's.
"Aww screw it! I need the nutrients for my brains!" as Kaneko-san started to wolf down her lunch.
"I'll race you Mary-chan!" challenged Akane.
It was kinda weird at first to see the two harsh rivals act so friendly around each other. It was my hope that maybe in World B this would be possible. Daisuke and I looked on as the two women were racing to see who would finish their lunch first. Daisuke was betting that Kaneko-san would finish first since her lunch was smaller, but it looked like Akane was almost finished! Kaneko-san looks at her rival and gets distracted at the speed Akane was going.
"Eh…what's the point." as Kaneko-san submits defeat at the speed eating contest. She wasn't going to choke herself over something like this.
"Maybe Akane should try some food challenges or something…" pondered Daisuke.
Huh…maybe you have an idea.
Still, I just couldn't believe Akane ate enough food to feed a family.
Just where did it all go?
Like during the date we had before, I feel this strange sensation in my chest. I just felt weird, since this location we were at happened to be the same place where Yuki-san rejected me. But that was in the other world – not this one.
That was the school bell ringing, indicating that we had to go home. Our school enforced a rather strict curfew, due to some reports of gang activity around the area. I walked home with Akane, hand in hand. When we arrived at my house, the scent of curry filled the air. My mother already had a huge pot ready for us. Upon closer observation, I notice a note stuck on the pot.
"Have fun kids! (But not too much!)" was written. Apparently she and my dad were out tonight, leaving Akane and I alone together.
"Delicious!" said Akane, taking a mouthful of curry.
Before I knew it, Akane already ate half the pot.
She still has room after lunch?!
"Save some for me!"
It was nearing the end of my time in World A(kane). It was confusing, but I had such a good time that I didn't want it to end.
I'm gonna see if I could stay up all night with Akane.
Maybe I was being a bit selfish, but I didn't want to go back to my world. Yuki-san would be there, and she held me with contempt. Here, Akane was different, and she truly cared for me.
"K-Kazuki?" whispered Akane.
"Yeah, I'm still awake too."
Akane turns on the lamp light.
This must be what they call "pillow talk."
"I know you're bummed out, but cheer up Kazuki! Just know that when you sleep, you'll be back to this world. I'll be waiting in your dreams Kazuki!" she tries to console me.
It was true. I would only see Akane every other day.
I'll only have a girlfriend in my dreams…
"Wait a minute!" she yells.
"I just had a brilliant idea!" Akane seemed overly excited, despite eating enough curry that she should be in a food coma by now.
"Why don't I help you get with Yuki-san in World B?" she proposed.
For the first time, that was actually a good idea that I understood immediately.
"It'll be easy! I'll tell you all about myself. After all, great minds think alike!" as she eagerly nods her head up and down.
"Okay…okay! Let me know, what do you like?" I asked.
I could see a vein appear on Akane's forehead. Clearly she wasn't happy that I knew next to nothing about her, but I couldn't help it!
"Alright! I'll tell you a secret Kazuki." she comes closer to my ear.
"Uh…there's just the two of us. No need to whisper right?"
"B-But this is really embarrassing!" Akane pouts.
Finally, she sighs and reveals her secret.
"If I know myself, I'm probably still working at the maid café across town." she whispers into my ear.
"WHATTTTTTT?" as I sit up.
M-My girlfriend works at a maid café?!
"Hey don't get angry! I quit when we became a couple." she reassures me. "The pay was good when I needed it, and the customers aren't that creepy for the most part. You just have to smile, see?" as she gives me a rather unsettling grin.
My girlfriend is dangerous!
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Never would I ever imagine the "Ice Witch" of Kasumigaseki High dressed in a frilly maid outfit. But, it did explain some things. It explained why Akane's omelet rice was beautifully cooked, with her handling of a ketchup bottle like a paint brush.
"Just what's this place called?" I asked her.
"The Purrrrrrr-fect Café!" as she imitated a cat.
Of course it is. My girlfriend is obsessed with cats.
"Oh! I really like cats. So if you would start talking about cats or something, I know "I" wouldn't shut up about it!" as she laughs heartedly.
Akane had given me secret information. It was like having a living strategy guide for "How to Get a Girlfriend."
There's no way I could fail!
I suddenly felt my eyes were getting heavy. That realization quickly diminished my energy. I let out a loud exhausted yawn.
"Good night Akane. I'll see you soon."
"Good luck Kazuki…" as I feel her lips press onto my cheek.
I slowly drift off to sleep, as I try to make the girlfriend of my dreams a reality.