Chapter 2 here.
As a note, I'll be drawing what Kyou looks like later.
Ahri didn't particularly mind the strange feline-humanoid's incessant company. It seemed like the girl followed her everywhere. Not that it was unpleasant, of course; it just got in the way when Ahri needed some sustenance. The nekomata had a strange mix of unyielding naivete and profound wisdom, which was quite amusing to the gumiho. At least she had someone to talk to, about things besides reproductive organs.
Earlier, Ahri asked the nekomata her name. She gingerly replied, “I'm Kyou! What's your name? Besides, you know, boobs.”
Irritated, the older of the transcendent duo mussed Kyou's shorter, softer hair. “Not 'boobs.' My name is Ahri.” She paused in thought, holding up a finger to signal for silence. “I've never really told anyone my name before.”
“Why not?” asked Kyou, slightly perturbed.
“No one's asked.” It didn't take much for Ahri to force a stoic face. She wondered why, when humans placed so much value on names, they didn't ask during the most intimate act possible of two humans.
Kyou stood on the tips of her toes and reached her entire arm-span to pat Ahri on the head, behind her ears. Ahri let the slightest grin show – not because she thought it was cute or because she enjoyed it, but because of the irony. “I don't think foxes purr, Kyou.”
“Oh,” came the disheartened reply.
“You wanted to hear me purr?”
“No, it's just... I always purr when I'm happy.” That explained the cacophony heard while they walked to the next village. Ahri refrained from commenting, though.
“I am happy,” said Ahri. “Happy enough, anyways.”
“Really? What do you even do every day? Like, I climb trees and talk to the tigers. Sometimes I go to eat rodents, but there aren't a lot around.”
This was quite the predicament. Well, to be able to transcend, she must have gotten to that age as a cat, at least. It wouldn't be ideal to tell Kyou, though. Ah, geez, thought the gumiho. Whatever.
“I eat the souls of humans by sort-of-kind-of having *** with them.”
Kyou stared blankly at Ahri. “Sounds interesting. Can I try?”
Ahri looked cynically off to the side. “I don't think you have the, uh, set of tools for that.”
Arms wrapped around Ahri's waist. She knew they belonged to Kyou, and didn't make a big deal about it. Cats were strange, needy creatures, she found. The only problem was what Kyou would do after hugging. At this point, Ahri found herself hoping nekomata didn't have claws.
Kyou nuzzled her face into Ahri's back, and placed a kiss on her shoulder blade. This elicited a jolt, and Ahri made her way out of Kyou's embrace.
“You really don't have the set of tools,” muttered Ahri.
“And I was sure you'd make erotic noises.”
“And I am more sure than ever that you'll never be able to do that sort of thing.”
“Really? 'Cause, I wanna be as good as you.”
Ahri glanced at Kyou in disdain. Was she serious? Moreover, how did Kyou know if Ahri was any good at all?
Kyou continued. “How else am I supposed to satisfy you?”
“Are you serious?” Ahri shot back reflexively, as if she was gagging.
“I like you.”
Ahri would have blushed if her mental guards weren't so sturdy. This was, after all, the first time anyone had told her that while sober. It was also the first time she heard it from a girl she met two hours ago. “Do you really? Are you sure that's not just my natural sexiness rolling off of my body?”
“I think you might like me back a little, huh.”
“Do not!” yelled Ahri, flustered. It seemed Kyou had more experience in this part of interpersonal relationships than the gumiho did.
“You so totally do,” replied Kyou. She then skipped ahead and stopped with her face in front of Ahri's, lips puckered. The target of Kyou's kiss didn't really appreciate this behavior. It reminded her a bit too much of the men she sometimes charmed near taverns. This girl, at least, did not force herself upon the gumiho.
Ahri stopped in front of Kyou and stared past her, waiting for the girl to get bored of waiting for a kiss. Apparently, though, all nekomata had Heart of Patience +5 equipped constantly. Getting bored herself, Ahri redirected her gaze at her new-found traveling companion.
Kyou was trembling.
That's right. Cats do get attached to people this quickly. Ahri sighed. “I give up.”
Ahri's lips brushed against Kyou's forehead. The latter squealed in excitement. “I do too have the tools!”
Ahri nodded with a sarcastic grin and continued on, motioning for Kyou to follow her. They walked in silence the rest of the way.
Fiora and Shyvana died to Sona's Power Chords. Ahri could faintly feel the trauma of being ripped in half mentally that emanated from their bodies. She tensed – still on the floor – bracing herself for death, as well. It wasn't exactly a good day.
Sona played the Aria of Perseverance, allowing Irelia to stand up from her sustained wounds. Each soft note swathed itself upon Ahri before moving on, carried by the wind. Each time, Ahri's emotions decided to smack her upside the head. She held in a new wave of tears, making an effort to swallow.
The Aria abruptly ended in the middle of its sixteenth measure. A hand, delicate fingers, placed itself atop Ahri's head. Sona knelt down and placed her other hand on Ahri's shoulder. The nine-tails fox met Sona's eyes, her vision still blurry from tears. Sona smiled softly and nodded to Irelia, her lanemate.
“She asks, 'are you okay?'” relayed Irelia.
Ahri took a deep breath, then exhaled, lowering her eyes. “Why don't you kill me?”
The Maven of the Strings mussed Ahri's hair a bit and, using the gumiho's chin as leverage, brought their gazes together. She shook her head and smiled. The Nine-tails Fox opened her mouth so as to speak, but was interrupted by Irelia.
“She says, 'This is a practice match between two allied city-states. Would it not be rude to kill an ally offering no resistance?'”
A revelation was made. Ahri pointed at Sona, noticeably more chipper, and asked, “Is she mute?”
Sona nodded. She took Ahri's hand – Ahri was startled, but didn't quite have the energy to resist – and brought it to her neck. Sona's vocal cords moved. Her lips and tongue did indeed form words. No sound came forth. The point being made, Sona released Ahri's hand. The latter withdrew her hand as Sona stood.
“I believe we should adjourn this match,” said Irelia. “We clearly have been neglecting one of our champions' mental state.”
Ahri did not look forward to having to go to one of the infamous League therapists. “What do you mean?”
Irelia's face fell. “You cried to the point of catharsis in the middle of a teamfight. There is something wrong, and not something minor. We do have Judgments for a reason, you know.”
Groaning, Ahri asked, “Is there a process I have to go through? Monitoring, anything?”
Sona, still near Ahri, placed a reassuring hand on Ahri's shoulder, patting a few times. She averted her eyes to look at Irelia.
“We will discuss that after you've calmed down. Sona doesn't think kindly of those therapists, either. Mostly because she can't talk.”
Ahri let loose a relieved sigh. She'd gotten caught up in her solitude. Just this exchange gave her a little confidence boost, enough that she could focus on the present – not what she was fighting for or any other intangible concepts.
The grasp of the summoning slowly loosened its hold on Ahri. She saw the faint, ethereal glimmering on Irelia and Sona as well.
“We'll be in the lobby for this match. Meet us there? Surely, you do not want to deal with those obnoxious summoners.”
She made a weak gesture of agreement. Following that, the summoning contract lost its hold entirely. Ahri's feet touched the tiled floor of the Institute's central hall. There wasn't much else to do, so she began striding towards the lobby for that match. Lobbies typically weren't too crowded, either, even if the atmosphere was somber and stagnant.
She passed by different people on her way: humanoid, bird, what-have-you. Each one, she supposed, shouldered a burden; most of their faces were stoic, solemn. Those who were smiling had lips too upturned to be that idealized bliss. It wasn't a big deal that she had no one to talk to. No one else seemed to be bawling because of some Ab harmonics. She made these observations, unfazed by the prominent catcalls echoing from every corner. I'm a fox. Why can't they at least get that right?
Ahri only put up her seductive act for the show of others. At one point or another in her life, it had become second nature to her. What was first nature, she did not know. There wasn't much of a point in wondering. At the top of her list of priorities, however, was not appeasing the occasional hedonist, but finding Irelia and Sona. She really didn't want to have to deal with another mortal buffoon asking for her number, so as to call her maybe.
Having pondered for a while now, Ahri's blank gaze defrosted itself to reveal the match lobby. Also, Irelia and Sona's puzzled faces.
“You have been staring at that couch for a while now,” mused Irelia.
Sona smiled warmly. Her lips, too, were too upturned. Ahri exhaled and said nothing of it. The Maven of the Strings motioned for Ahri to sit on aforementioned couch, a single eyebrow twitching. She was clearly fighting the urge to reveal a silly facial expression.
With all three seated (Ahri a bit higher up, thanks to her tails), Irelia began interrogation.
“I think we'd all do well to skip the chit-chat,” she said. “Ahri. You do know the only way we can avoid informing the League of a champion's volatile mental state is if we know what is bothering you?”
“I'd assume you know more than me,” said Ahri.
“Good,” replied Irelia. “Then I would ask you to share at least some of the details. Sona would like to know, too.”
Did the Maven just enjoy listening to other's troubles so she could take her mind of her own? Even with this thought, Ahri couldn't feel irritated.
“I'd rather not.”
“I'd rather not resort to threats.” This elicited a bit of a slouch from Ahri.
“Fine.” Ahri paused. “I'm lonely.”
A look of non-comprehension crossed Irelia's face. Of course the coveted child of Ionia wouldn't know that feeling. When Ahri looked to see Sona's reaction, curious, she met the back of Sona's head. It wasn't as if she didn't know Sona felt at least a little lonely before. Ahri didn't know, though, that Sona felt it so strongly she had to conceal her tears at someone else mentioning it.
“Well,” Irelia began, “I think that's a problem a lot of-”
“Shush, you,” Ahri parried, and reached over to tap Sona's shoulder. “I think you have been overlooking someone for longer than I've been overlooked.”
Sona turned and gazed at Ahri, unblinking. Tears still gathered and rolled down her cheek, although no sounds of sniffling or sobbing or other such crying noises escaped her mouth.
Ahri smiled softly. It was genuine, for once; she had, of course, used it for other not quite as truthful purposes, but this time, she couldn't help but feel joyful that someone else out there was in the same wallowing pit of despair as her.
“Sona, it's okay,” she said in as comforting a voice as she could. Normally – before she joined the League, her voice was used to... “energize,” not comfort.
Sona clearly detected the cadences of sympathy in Ahri's voice. It was only something natural for a musician. She motioned a finger upwards, and her etwahl came to her lap. A few light, quick measures came from the instrument, working their way up to a fortissimo, then calming once more into a pianissimo. It was Sona's thanks for the concern. A generous and most certainly true expression of thanks. She gave up her genuine emotions so easily (in musical form, at least), in contrast to Ahri's near perpetual guise of self-assured *** appeal.
So it was natural that Ahri's heart fluttered with each time the notes built higher on the treble staff, and each time the notes hit lower on the bass clef. She could sympathize, and at the same time these emotions were incredibly foreign to her. Different, yet similar.
She'd felt something similar to this before, though not with quite as much a sense of sameness – it was more of an opposites attract sort of thing. And that ended pretty badly. So Ahri just smiled and said,
Vague as it was, no one else in the room divined the true meaning behind that word.
P.S.: I am fully aware that I stretched Ahri's character quite a bit. It just sort of spills out. I think I'm projecting a bit of myself into every character I write. Plus I have this weird image of Ahri as secretly sweet and motherly and stuff. No idea where the angst came from, though.
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