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starry eyed by every thought of you

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They could have done worse. Ahri would give them that. She was no stranger to fake dating for publicity. It wasn’t unheard of in her line of work – the only person she knew who outright refused to do stupid stuff like that was Evelynn. It had labeled her difficult to work with – which, to be fair, Eve was – but Ahri didn’t want that following her around. She was eager to please, and if her management wanted her to fake date something pretty to put her on magazines, then so be it.

Most of the time they put her with pretty boys who were dumb as a box of rocks. Ahri was self-aware enough to know she was no genius – but at least she knew how to spell orange. This time though – this time they picked a girl. It was a thinly veiled attempt to tap into the LGBT community, which was gross on so many levels, but Ahri figured it was better her, an actual bisexual than some shitty straight girl. Plus, maybe it would show scared kids that being openly different didn’t have to be so bad. At least…that’s how Ahri slept at night – when she slept at night.

So yes…they could have done worse. The woman in front of her wasn’t necessarily her type, but she sure was pretty. It was the cheekbones, Ahri thought, or maybe her lips – but, no, the eyes. Or maybe it was just the full package. Whatever. She was absurdly good looking. It wasn’t the carefully curated pretty that Ahri put on – no, this type of pretty was effortless. A beanie sat upon the woman’s head, her clothes were baggy like she’d just come from a studio or something of the sort.

She sat slouched in her seat, head lazily tilted toward the person next to her, who seemed to be incredibly interested in chatting her up. Fair, Ahri thought, the woman was pretty enough to command attention. Ahri just hoped she didn’t suck. A pretty face could only go so far if her personality was hot garbage. She looked loose and confident, but Ahri had never been particularly skilled at reading people – maybe she was freaking out. It wasn’t unheard of. This woman wasn’t someone Ahri recognized, which meant either she was brand new to the industry, or she was in an entirely different field and needed exposure. Ahri was interested to find out which. If she was new, Ahri wouldn’t be surprised if she was freaking out.

“Ma’am,” Caitlyn, the head of her security team, said from behind her, “We should move from the door.”

Ahri sighed, smiling over her shoulder. Caitlyn was incredibly dedicated and extremely good at what she did. Ahri felt very safe whenever Caitlyn and Vi did security sweeps for her. Granted, Ahri also thought they were entirely unnecessary. It wasn’t like she was a prominent political figure. She was just a pop star, a popular one, granted, but the lengths Caitlyn went to ensure her safety seemed a little much. Still, though, Ahri did appreciate it. She turned, squeezing Caitlyn’s shoulder as she led everyone inside.

Her management was already seated, Camille smiling at Ahri as she finally entered. The woman she was probably going to be “dating” glanced at her, face unmoved and carefully controlled. Ahri quirked a brow, noting with distinct interest that her eyes were purple. Void spawn maybe? Ahri wasn’t sure. They were pretty though. She was pretty. She kept her gaze fixated on her as she sat to Camille’s left, Caitlyn and Vi taking up the empty space at both of her shoulders.

“Ah, good, you’re here,” Camille said, gesturing loosely in the other woman’s direction, “Ahri, this is Kai’sa. She’s the new face of Calvin Klein and quite the talented dancer.”

Kai’sa. Okay. “Hi,” Ahri said, slipping the carefully curated mask in place. People liked the mask. The mask was easy to handle, palatable, and fun. “I’m Ahri. I guess we’re doing this, huh?”

Kai’sa didn’t respond, just quirked an eyebrow and nodded slowly. Her eyes bored into Ahri’s, and Ahri felt distinctly seen. She wasn’t sure what to do about it. Her bright smile faltered for a moment, her heart leaping into her throat. Her ears twitched atop her head, her tail swishing back and forth before she sternly told herself to stop it. Kai’sa either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and she looked away from her a second later.

“I trust your management has briefed you on the situation, Kai’sa,” Camille said, taking control of the conversation, “You understand what will be needed and you also understand you can back out at any time. The exposure will be good for you both, I trust.”

Kai’sa nodded, adjusting the beanie on her head and awkwardly shuffling in her seat. She sat up straight, and Ahri distantly wondered how tall she was. “Yes ma’am. I understand.”

Oh. Accent. Pretty. Ahri swallowed hard, curiously studying the sharp, cool angles of Kai’sa’s face. She looked dangerous, but her voice was soft, her tone warm, if a bit withheld. She glanced over in Ahri’s direction again, lips quirking slightly. Ahri smiled back, plopping her chin in the palm of her hand.

“Excellent,” Camille continued, apparently breaking Kai’sa’s concentration, as she snapped her focus back on her. “So, I think we should just start with subtle social media exposure. You know, a fair few photos with captions hinting at each other, that sort of thing.” Camille waved a hand dismissively as if this were an entirely normal conversation to be having. “Ahri, you’ll handle that.”

“Mhmm,” Ahri hummed, eyes still trained on the woman across the table.

“We can graduate from that to public appearances, and, depending on how it goes, we might need to schedule trips and such to make it look as real as possible.”

Kai’sa shifted, mouth twisting to the side. She looked uncomfortable and overwhelmed and Ahri didn’t blame her. They were getting ahead of themselves, apparently far too eager to break into a new market to really think things through. “Maybe we should just see the reception of everything first,” Ahri cut in smoothly, studying her nails. Camille glanced sidelong at her and Ahri could tell she was annoyed. Ahri played dumb, noisily slurping at her iced coffee as she made direct eye contact with Camille. “What?”

Camille sighed noisily, so used to Ahri’s bullshit by now that she stopped entertaining it. “Point taken. Step by step might work best. Is this the first time you’ve ever done anything like this, Kai’sa?”

Kai’sa blinked, lovely, high cheekbones going pink. “I – yes? Is it not for you?” She directed the question to Ahri, pretty eyes flitting back and forth between her and Camille.

Ahri’s mouth curled at the corners, pleased that Kai’sa seemed a little unnerved for the first time in the entire meeting. “No. It’s not for me. Don’t worry. It’s not so bad. The worst that will happen is you’ll have to publically kiss me.”

Kai’sa went bright red and Ahri watched the blush spread all the way down her neck. She smiled genuinely at the sight, leaning forward, slurping noisily on her coffee again. “Oh,” Kai’sa breathed, looking anywhere but at the generous spill of cleavage that Ahri had positioned right in her face, “That’s –”

“Does that bother you?” Ahri asked, ignoring the sharp elbow from Camille in her ribs. If she couldn’t have a little fun with pretty women, what was the point?

Kai’sa noisily swallowed, scratching idly at her cheek. “I guess not. Does it bother you?”

Ahri smiled, ears twitching. “No. It doesn’t bother me at all.” She glanced down at Kai’sa’s mouth out of habit, wondering if the kisses would be even remotely enjoyable. She had nice lips – Ahri had a good feeling about it. She sat back in her seat, letting Camille steer the conversation again.

She tuned out as Camille got into the logistics of it, glancing up now and again to try and gauge Kai’sa’s reaction. She looked engaged, which was genuinely shocking because Ahri was bored out of her skull. She sank into her chair, glancing up at Vi and getting a barely contained eye-roll in response. Caitlyn was, predictably, cool and aloof, standing at attention at Ahri’s left shoulder. Vi, at least, had a sense of humor on the job. Or, you know, period. Angling her phone so Vi could see, Ahri looked up Kai’sa’s name.

There were a few dance videos, that she very much intended to watch later, but she was far more interested in any modeling photos Kai’sa had out there. She was the new face of Calvin Klein, after all. She clicked the google image result and almost dropped her phone. Kai’sa was seated carelessly on a stool, legs splayed. She was in Calvin Klein underwear, which, duh, and the only other thing she had on was what looked to be a loose flannel. It hung near her elbows. One hand was in loose, dark hair, eyes trained on the camera lens. Ahri swallowed hard and felt Vi give a little nudge to her shoulder. She looked really good. There were hard cuts of muscle along her abdomen, leaving sloping lines down her hips that Ahri wanted to bite.

She glanced up, studying Kai’sa with renewed interest. It was difficult to tell her level of fitness in the clothes she had on. Her arms and shoulders were covered – all Ahri could see was the sharp cut of her jaw and the sloping angles of her cheekbones. She looked good, no doubt about it, but she didn’t look as just…ridiculous as these photos seemed to suggest. Ahri wondered if they were doctored or if Kai’sa really looked like that under all those clothes. She blinked, swallowing against her suddenly dry mouth. She had very little shame, but even she felt a little gross about her own objectification at this point. It was hard not to when she didn’t have much else to go on.

She locked her phone, twirling a lock of hair around her finger. Her hair was blonde all the way to the tips at this point, but she kind of wanted a change. Purple maybe? Or pink –

“—I think perhaps the best course of action at this point would be to just let you two get to know each other. You’ll be working in close conjunction and I think building at least a base of chemistry is going to be important. So, I believe I will leave you to it.” Camille stood, squeezing Ahri’s shoulder as she did so. “Be nice,” she murmured, and Ahri made a face. She was nice.

The room fell into a semi-awkward silence before she began laughing. “It’s really not so bad,” she assured her, “It involves a lot of acting like we like each other. A fair amount of public cuddling and hand-holding. But it never crosses into anything super nasty. Camille’s a real stickler about that.”

Kai’sa startled, turning wide eyes to her. “And you’re not?”

Ahri graced her with a smile filled with too many teeth. “I could be convinced.”

Kai’sa went harshly red again, looking away from Ahri’s smiling mouth. “No thank you,” she mumbled, standing up with a noisy scratch of wood.

Ahri blinked in surprise and the words were out of her mouth before she could think twice. “How tall are you?”

Kai’sa paused, stretching her arms over her head. Ahri really, desperately wished that the clothes weren’t so loose on her. She sure was good looking. “Uh, 178 centimeters? 5’10, whatever.”

She was a touch taller than Vi, and she towered over Ahri, who checked in at a measly 163 centimeters, or, as Kai’sa said, 5’4, whatever. A grin tugged at the corner of Ahri’s mouth and she strode forward, her heels clicking against the floor. She stood directly in front of Kai’sa’s chest, ears coming level with the top of her head. The heels certainly helped her in the height department. Kai’sa just studied her back, and Ahri watched genuine interest flit across her expression as her eyes settled upon her ears. Ahri let them twitch forward for good measure. She thought she was going to like this one.

“Come on,” she said, reaching out and snagging the hem of Kai’sa’s shirt.

Kai’sa came without complaint, trailing behind her. Ahri checked her appearance in the mirror as they passed it, swiping her thumb along her lower lip to test the integrity of the gloss. If they got popped by the press, Ahri knew she’d look fine. And Kai’sa, looking tall, but warm and carelessly gorgeous – yeah. It would work well. She shouldered the door to the room open, walking up the stairs, content to bask in the silence. She heard Caitlyn and Vi fall into step beside them.

Ahri definitely enjoyed having fun with pretty women, but Kai’sa was actually genuinely nice. She didn’t want to push her away because the shittier parts of her personality shone through. She led them up the stairs, coming to the roof access door. Carelessly, she pushed through it, not really caring if an alarm blared. What were they going to do? Tell her no? “Stay here,” she told her bodyguards.

“Ma’am –” Caitlyn began, but Ahri sighed noisily, cutting her off.

“Caitlyn, you’re wonderful, but no one is going to snipe me on a roof.”

Caitlyn’s eyes narrowed, and she shared a sharp look with Vi. “Stay here. I’ll go do a sweep of the surroundings.”

Vi gave her a loose, two-fingered salute, locking eyes with Ahri and rolling her own. She leaned carelessly against the wall, crossing her arms over her chest and giving Kai’sa an obvious once over. Kai’sa stared back, seemingly unaffected. The confidence, among other things, was attractive.

Ahri led her outside by the hem of her shirt, inhaling deeply once they got there. She smelled all sorts of things – the steadily roasting meat of a street vendor, the sharp, clean scent of Vi’s laundry detergent – even the smell of Kai’sa’s shampoo. She wandered to the edge of the roof, glancing down. She tried to spot Caitlyn just for something to do, waiting for Kai’sa to inevitably break the silence. She did not. Sighing, Ahri turned. “You know, I was messing with you in there, but it’s probably not as bad as you’re thinking it’s going to be.”

Kai’sa’s head turned, one finely sculpted eyebrow lifting. “Who said I’m thinking it’s going to be bad?”

Ahri shrugged one shoulder, aimlessly drumming her fingers against her thigh. “Just a hunch.”

Kai’sa approached her slowly, coming to stand next to her, looking out over the people in the street below. She stood quite close, Ahri could feel the heat radiating from her. “I don’t think it’s going to be bad. You seem nice. All of this is just…weird.”

“Then how come you agreed to it?”

Kai’sa shrugged, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I mean – a lot of people were telling me it’s a good idea. My management, obviously – but even my friends. My roommate wouldn’t shut up about it. Granted, she was stoned as hell while not shutting up about it, but still.”

Ahri laughed, reaching over and carefully brushing her fingers over Kai’sa’s covered forearm. “You can back out at any time. Honestly. They’ll just find someone else for me if it gets too much for you.” Kai’sa glanced sharply over, making Ahri jump. She studied her quietly, and Ahri had that same sense of feeling seen again that both excited her and made discomfort race up her spine. Swallowing thickly, she asked, “What?”

Kai’sa didn’t answer right away, just looked away from Ahri’s face and back down to the street. “All the more reason to stay then.”

Ahri let a startled laugh burst forth, placing a hand up near her throat. “What does that mean?”

“At least I know I’ll treat you right, and it will prevent you from being passed around like some sort of fashion accessory. I’m in. I’ll stay.”

Ahri felt the statement like a punch in the jaw, and she heard the breathlessness in her own voice as she replied, “Really?”

“Really.”

Grinning big, Ahri carefully tugged Kai’sa around, standing directly in front of her, nearly nose to nose. Her ears twitched, and she watched Kai’sa’s eyes jump to them. “Are those real?” she asked.

“What do you think?” Ahri replied before leaning forward and kissing her once, gently, right on the mouth. “That’s the worst it’ll get. Still in?”

Kai’sa hadn’t even had time to close her eyes. She just laughed, shaking her head and looping an arm over Ahri’s shoulders, surrounding her with warmth. “Yeah, Princess. I’m still in.”

***

She quite liked Kai’sa, it turned out. She was funny, even if strange. She had odd mannerisms that Ahri couldn’t quite place. Camille shoved them together at every turn, trying to magically create the elusive chemistry. They had it in droves without her intrusion. It wasn’t hard to drape herself across Kai’sa’s form. It wasn’t hard to look engaged in conversation. None of it was hard. The sexual chemistry was lacking a little, but they could fake that.

That wasn’t to say Ahri wasn’t attracted to her. Kai’sa so so obscenely good looking that Ahri kicked herself for not meeting her under better circumstances. Kai’sa, however, didn’t seem to be interested in turning this fake situation into a friends with benefits one. It was a shame – Ahri very much wanted to lick along the lines of her abs – which she still hadn’t seen up close and personal. It was fine though. Ahri liked her even without the slowly simmering attraction. Friendship was just as nice.

She sighed noisily, rubbing at her tired, irritated eyes. The blue contacts were a huge pain in the ass. Kai’sa glanced over at her from her place at the opposite end of the couch. They’d taken to spending more personal time together. Kai’sa would come over and they’d watch movies and fuck around. Ahri had even taken to not putting her full face of makeup on in front of her. Progress.

“You good?” Kai’sa asked her.

“Yes – just. Ugh. Contacts.”

“Take them out,” Kai’sa told her, eyes falling back to her book.

Ahri wrinkled her nose, sticking her tongue out at Kai’sa just to be petty. “Thanks. Hot take.” Kai’sa didn’t dignify it with a response, simply flipping her off without looking at her. Ahri kicked Kai’sa in the thigh in retaliation. “I don’t want to freak you out.”

That gave Kai’sa pause, and she closed the book on her fingers as she glanced over at her. “Why would you taking your contacts out freak me out?”

Ahri swallowed hard, a curl of anxiety taking root in her mind. “Do you – um. Do you even know what a gumiho is?”

Kai’sa shook her head, brows furrowing as she turned to face her fully, snagging Ahri’s ankles and plopping her feet in her lap.

Ahri sighed, squeezing her irritated eyes shut. “I don’t even know how to explain it. But just –” She sighed harshly, digging her heels into Kai’sa’s lap as her whole body tensed. She plucked the contacts from her eyes, sighing in relief. Honey gold blinked at Kai’sa from across the space, pupils slit and black.

Kai’sa’s own strange eyes widened and she leaned closer to get a better look. “Woah,” she whispered, one hand coming up to cradle Ahri’s cheek. Ahri’s eyes closed against the contact and she leaned into it, her heart giving a funny flip in her chest.

“I’m a predator, basically,” she said with a tinge of bitterness.

“Why?”

“I – Kai’sa,” Ahri began, uncomfortably shifting, not quite ready for this conversation. “My kind like…eat people.”

“I’ve never seen you eat anyone.”

Ahri’s smile turned sharp, and she watched Kai’sa’s eyes fall to her sharp canines. “By design, baby,” she lied.

Kai’sa didn’t laugh, allowing her thumb to stroke over the arch of Ahri’s cheekbone. “You eat food I make you all the time. I don’t understand.”

Ahri shook free of the contact, pulling her legs out of Kai’sa’s lap in favor of tucking them into her chest. “Yeah, it’s…I mean. I can exist off that. But it’s nowhere near as fulfilling as souls, memories. Livers.” She reached out and tapped Kai’sa high on the torso, just under where her lungs resided. She dug her fingernails into the same space and felt Kai’sa tense. “I’ve got a handle on it now, but there was a time where I didn’t. Doing what I do makes it a lot better. I can feed off all that energy on stage. I think that’s what Eve does too.”

Evelynn was more distinctly other than Ahri herself. Her eyes were a brighter gold, her eyes more harshly slit. She reeked of danger, while Ahri didn’t. She could lure people in if she wanted. Her tail and ears were viewed as something cute. It was Camille’s idea to have the contacts. Those honey gold eyes reminded people of what she was and what she ate. Or, well, could eat, she supposed. It was a big reason why she and Eve got on so well. There were plenty of times that they fed off each other, Ahri delving into the depths of Eve’s mind, while Evelynn flayed Ahri’s skin until the pain blinded her. She loved her – maybe more than anyone else – but they were ill-suited to something long term.

“It’s a better solution than ripping people open,” Kai’sa said, her fingers closing around Ahri’s wrist. Her fingernails were still biting into where she knew Kai’sa’s liver resided. She pressed harder in response, seeing Kai’sa’s jaw clench against the sting. Her stomach growled and Kai’sa froze.

“Is it?” She leaned closer, heart beating wildly in her chest. “I’d probably feel a lot better if I ate your soul right now.”

Kai’sa’s mouth lifted in a ghost of a smile. “Mm. Doubt that. My liver, maybe.”

The thought made Ahri’s mouth water, but she didn’t want to hurt Kai’sa. She really didn’t. She liked her, but the call of her nature was strong. She could sink her hand between Kai’sa’s ribs, rip out her liver and tear into it. Maybe she’d only take half, let Kai’sa recover. They grew back, after all. Humans were resilient things. She swallowed back the extra saliva, slowly easing the pressure of her nails. She didn’t remove her hand completely though, brain a little fuzzy with the endless possibility. “What’s wrong with your soul?”

Kai’sa’s fingers brushed across the soft skin of Ahri’s wrist and she sighed. “Nothing, I suppose. I just like to imagine it’s a little banged up. Probably go down like broken glass. My organs, however, those are healthy.”

Ahri smiled, a slow quirk of one side of her mouth. “Tease.”

Kai’sa rolled her eyes, staying remarkably still otherwise. Ahri wondered, distantly, if it was because she was afraid. The thought was unpleasant. She carefully went to pull away, but Kai’sa snagged her fingers. “You’re a little scary,” she admitted, “But don’t feel like you have to put on the mask for me. I know all this is fake, but I do like you. Don’t be uncomfortable because you’re afraid of scaring me off. I’m not going anywhere.”

It was shockingly sweet, considering Kai’sa had no clue how much danger she was in. “I think maybe I’ll let you keep your soul,” she teased, crawling over to collapse into Kai’sa’s side. “And your organs and memories. I’m feeling generous.”

Kai’sa opened her body up, letting Ahri curl up against her side. She could see the band of Kai’sa’s Calvins peeking out from her sweatpants. Absently, Ahri picked at it, sending it back against Kai’sa’s skin with a snap of elastic. Eager to change the subject, Ahri closed her burning eyes. “Have you had anymore shoots recently?”

“Nah,” Kai’sa said quietly, passing her fingers through Ahri’s hair. Those slim fingers brushed along the base of Ahri’s ears and they twitched in response. Ahri very much wanted Kai’sa to scratch at them but wasn’t entirely sure how to ask without seeming weird. Well. Weird-er. “I think they’re probably waiting until we do this thing tonight. It’ll make searches for my name blow up or something.”

Ahri made a face, the idea of putting the contacts back in terribly unpleasant. “I mean…they’re probably right. My Instagram comments are a disaster and no one’s even seen your face yet.”

She felt more than heard Kai’sa huff out a laugh. “Yeah, I’ve seen them. They’re really excited. Hey Ahri?”

“Hm?”

“Go to sleep. We’ve got a while before the event tonight. You’ve got time.”

Too tired and comfortable to really argue the point, Ahri nodded. “Alright. Real quick though. How did we meet?”

“What?”

“People will ask. They’ll want to know how we met and fell in love and, like, whatever. So how did we meet?”

Kai’sa was quiet for a while, fingers still slowly passing through Ahri’s hair. “Mm, maybe I was supposed to be a model for Foxy Cosmetics? But then we hit it off and decided that working under you while dating was probably a bad idea so you got me in touch with Calvin Klein? Or not even that – just got my name out there in general and CK found me that way?”

Ahri cracked her eyes open, walking her fingers up Kai’sa’s jaw. “I like it. On that note, you want to model for Foxy Cosmetics? Your cheekbones are out of this world.”

Kai’sa laughed, applying pressure with her fingertips on Ahri’s scalp. “We’ll talk about it. Go to sleep.”

Ahri tucked her head against Kai’sa’s shoulder and did just that.

----

Kai’sa woke her up about four hours before the event to let her get ready. Ahri grumbled and snapped at her, wanting to curl up back against Kai’sa’s warmth and fall back asleep. Kai’sa remained steadfastly unmoved, carefully ruffling the hair at the base of Ahri’s ears. A low, rumbling purr emitted from Ahri’s chest at the action, making Kai’sa laugh in delight.

Eventually, with much complaining, Ahri got up and got ready, which took nearly the full four-hour buffer that Kai’sa provided her with. Once she was done – and made sure her contacts were in place with little to no irritation – Ahri walked back downstairs. Kai’sa was seated on the couch, tapping away at her phone. Caitlyn and Vi were standing off to the side, the former eyeing Kai’sa suspiciously. Rolling her eyes, Ahri brought her heels down harder on the stairs, forcing the attention on her. She relished the way Kai’sa’s eyes widened as she saw her. She always liked being the center of attention – especially where pretty people were involved.

“Wow,” Kai’sa said, standing – and oh no. Oh no. Suit. Gulp. “You look really nice.”

Ahri wandered over to her, wrapping her fingers in the fabric of the suit lapels. She gave it a testing tug, wishing her heels were higher. The idea was to exaggerate the height difference, but Ahri missed feeling tall. “So do you,” she told her, biting the inside of her cheek as she took Kai’sa in. “You look…” She paused, unsure how to finish that sentence. The suit was definitely cut close to her form, exaggerating the hard angles of Kai’sa’s body. Her hair being half-up, half-down softened the look, but she wasn’t wearing very much makeup. Ahri saw some, but it paled in comparison to all the product she had on her own face. There was no tie, which was a shame. Ahri liked the idea of leading her around by just that. “Handsome,” she finally settled on.

Kai’sa went red, glancing away from Ahri’s face. “Hah, uh. Thank you. You ready to go?”

“Mhm,” Ahri agreed, wrapping her hands around Kai’sa’s forearm. It wasn’t necessary at this point, only Caitlyn and Vi were around, but still. Getting a jump start on it looked less clunky and planned once they got there. “C’mere. Picture first.” It was half for just herself and half for the show. She handed Kai’sa the phone, wrapping herself around her form and smiling wide and bright. She captioned the photo with a series of heart-eyes emojis and left it at that, sure her fans were going to lose their minds.

The ride to the event itself was quiet, but not awkward. Ahri fiddled with her makeup, with her shoes, with her dress. Caitlyn glared at Kai’sa from across the limo while Vi sighed and tried to distract her with small talk. Kai’sa ignored those two, seemingly content to watch Ahri fidget. She had one leg crossed over the other, her arm thrown up along the backs of the seats. Ahri thought her side looked perfectly primed for napping, or other, less appropriate things, but she remained seated.

They rolled to a stop in front of the party, bright lights flashing even through the heavily tinted windows. Vi and Caitlyn began moving first, Caitlyn adjusting the earpiece in Vi’s ear with a fond roll of her eyes. Ahri had a running bet with Eve that they’d be fucking by the end of this year. They began preparation to exit first, and Ahri glanced over to Kai’sa, who looked suddenly very overwhelmed.

“First time?” she asked.

Kai’sa swallowed hard, nodding her head. “That’s…that’s a lot of people. A lot of light.”

Ahri moved, coming over to sit next to her and take her hand. “Just hold on to me the whole time. Vi and Caitlyn will push you in the right direction if you don’t, but just hold my hand. I’ve got you.”

Kai’sa nodded, clenching her jaw. “Do I…do I look okay?” she asked, and Ahri was almost positive she sounded a little self-conscious.

Ahri felt her heart soften and she leaned close, kissing the high arch of Kai’sa’s cheekbone. “You look lovely. You ready to put on a show?”

With a deep sigh, Kai’sa shrugged one shoulder. “I guess so.”

Nodding to Caitlyn and Vi, Ahri stood by as they opened the door. Caitlyn’s hand came back in to help Ahri out, and Ahri graciously took it, dropping Kai’sa’s to do so. Bright lights popped immediately, photographers shouting and waving to get her attention. Ahri was used to this, she just plastered on the pretty, placid smile and waved in the general direction of shouting voices. Vi and Caitlyn fell into step just behind her, and Ahri turned to see Kai’sa clambering out of the limo. She was all powerful grace and alluring lines, even though Ahri could see the reservation on her face. More cameras flashed and Kai’sa winced. Mm, a classic mistake. Reaching back, Ahri grabbed Kai’sa’s forearm, reaching down and linking their hands once Kai’sa comfortably found her feet. She leaned close, talking loud enough that only Kai’sa could hear her. “Don’t look directly at either side of you. Focus on the back of my shoulder. It makes it easier to not get blinded by the flashes.”

Kai’sa nodded, stepping close and pressing against Ahri’s back. Once Kai’sa was comfortably situated, Ahri squeezed her hand, leading her along the stretch to the front door. They were stopped a few times and Ahri took the lead, media trained as she was. All Kai’sa had to do was stand there and look pretty, which didn’t seem to be a problem for her. She was so glad they hadn’t saddled her with an annoying camera whore. There was only room enough for one of those, and Ahri knew she was a glutton for attention. All in all, the intimidating walk wasn’t so bad. People asked about Kai’sa, of course, and Ahri listened as she gave some answers, but most people were far more interested in Ahri and what she was wearing. Kai’sa was simply an accessory on her arm at this point. She was surprised to find herself a little annoyed about it. Kai’sa was a person, and a wonderful one at that – she wasn’t just an accessory.

Everything was much quieter inside and Kai’sa eased off her back, falling into step next to her but not dropping her hand. “That was…something.”

“Welcome to my world,” Ahri said with a slow curl of her mouth.

“Are they always nosy like that?”

“Oh, they’re normally so much worse. I think you being there stopped the worst of the super weird questions. They’ll come back full force with those the next time we’re at one of these things though. Probably ask all sorts of invasive questions about our sex life.”

Kai’sa, predictably, went red and Ahri grinned at the sight. She was just so easy to fluster. “That’s…super gross actually.”

“Oh, absolutely. For future reference though, brief me on what you like so I can let slip some real zingers.”

Kai’sa groaned, dropping Ahri’s hand in favor of covering her face with her own. “Ugh, Ahri. Stop.”

“Oh, or what?” Ahri teased, surging on her tiptoes and keeping herself balanced by anchoring her hands atop Kai’sa’s shoulders. She moved them backward, in full view of the photographers outside, and kissed Kai’sa full on the mouth. It was warm and soft and nice. It wasn’t the earth-shattering thing that people made it out to be. It was just soft. Nice. It was probably because Ahri was not in love with her. She’d had those kisses before, had that sex before, where everything stopped and all you wanted to do was sink into the other person. But that was after centuries of dancing around each other. Kai’sa was just her friend who she was wildly attracted to.

She blinked her eyes open, purple irises flicking to the side to see the flashing cameras. She bent again, cradling Ahri’s face and pressing their lips together harder. She slid her hand around the small of Ahri’s back, tugging them flush together. Ahri breathed in sharply through her nose, angling her head to better assist. It was kind of nice. With the pressure at her back, Ahri didn’t have to strain so much to reach Kai’sa’s face. It didn’t go past several soft meetings of their lips, but Ahri still enjoyed it. Kai’sa pulled back, the tip of her nose brushing along the arch of Ahri’s own. “That enough of a show for you?” she murmured against her lips.

“Hm,” Ahri hummed, feeling warm and buzzed, “Yeah. I think that’ll do.” She kissed the tip of Kai’sa’s nose, falling back flat on her feet. She took Kai’sa’s hand again, standing a little closer. She was warm, and she was tall, and she looked stupidly good. Ahri didn’t want someone stealing away her arm candy for the night. “Seriously though. We should think about getting you media trained. They’ll ask super invasive questions and you’ll need to know how to reply.”

They entered the party proper, and Ahri could see Evelynn in a corner, leaning close to some poor actor, who looked enamored with her. She waved from across the room, and she watched Eve’s eyes flash as they landed on Kai’sa. Ugh. Why. She disentangled herself from the actor, ignoring what looked like pleas as she came over to them.

“Darling,” Eve purred, pulling Ahri in and placing two kisses on either of her cheeks, “I want to see the new pet.”

Ahri groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Will you stop? This is Kai’sa. Kai’sa, this is Eve – Evelynn.”

Kai’sa looked affronted, which, fair. Her head swiveled around, tracking Eve as she made a slow path around her body. Her hands brushed along the lines of Kai’sa’s shoulders, gold-tipped talons threatening the integrity of the stitching. She brought the point up to just under Kai’sa’s chin, golden eyes appraising. “Mm. They could have done worse. They’ve saddled you with worse.”

Kai’sa swallowed, twitching her head away and nicking her skin along the sharp edge of one of Evelynn’s talons. Eve tsk’d in response, drawing that same talon along her tongue, humming like she tasted something she liked. Ahri clenched her jaw, shoving Evelynn in the shoulder. “Will you stop?” she asked, annoyed, “I’ve already talked about how much I want to eat her soul today; you’re going to freak her out.”

Kai’sa noisily sighed, wiping her hand along the small scratch under her chin. “Okay – I’m just – do you want a drink? You guys are weird.”

Ahri fretted, smoothing her hands along the lapels of Kai’sa’s suit just for something to do with her hands. “Just – get me champagne, please. I’m sorry.”

Evelynn’s eyes didn’t leave Kai’sa, her mouth curling as she reached out and toyed with one of the buttons on her shirt. “Surprise me.”

Kai’sa leaned away from her, which Ahri was pleased about, and made direct, surprised eye contact with her. Ahri understood it. Eve was a fucking lot. “Right. Okay. I’ll be back, I guess.”

Ahri watched her go, glaring harshly at anyone who looked like they were going to approach before turning back to see Evelynn’s eyes still trained on her back. “Oh, my – Eve. Stop, you can’t have her.”

“I could,” Evelynn assured her, waving a hand as if it would be the easiest thing in the world, “But I won’t. That would be delicious though. You can feel it, right?”

“Feel what?” Ahri sighed.

“The –” she inhaled deeply, cracking drunk looking eyes open as she swayed in Kai’sa’s direction, “The doubt. The uncertainty. The fear.” She inhaled deeply again, hands clenching at her sides. “They could have done worse for you, that’s all I’m saying.”

Ahri’s eyebrows furrowed, and she glanced over her shoulder to check on her. “Fear?” she asked, “Fear of what?”

Evelynn shrugged one shoulder, leveling her gaze upon Ahri again. “Who cares?”

Well, Ahri did, for one. She didn’t want Kai’sa uncertain and afraid. She wanted her comfortable and confident. Well, she figured, even if Evelynn was a fucking freak and scared Kai’sa off, the demon in her was good for something. “She’s nice, Eve. I like her. Can you try and not be an absolute nightmare for just, like, three hours.”

“Three hours is pushing it, darling,” Eve replied, studying the gold-tipped claws, “I can give you one, tops.”

“I really hate you. I just want you to know that.”

The curve of Evelynn’s smile was sharp, dangerous. “No, you don’t. You want to fuck me so bad it makes you look stupid.”

“You stole that from the internet,” Kai’sa said, appearing out of seemingly nowhere. She handed Ahri a glass of champagne, and Evelynn some sort of…something. “Akali tells me that all the time.”

Evelynn’s jaw clenched, eyes narrowing. Ahri not so subtly stepped in front of Kai’sa, knowing Evelynn’s legendary temper. Eve blinked in response, a loose, easy smirk flitting across her face. “Pretty and perceptive. Delightful. They really could have done worse.” She brushed the backs of her fingers across Kai’sa’s cheek, digging the tip of a claw right where the small cut was. Kai’sa hissed in response, which made Evelynn smirk. “She eats your soul, darling, but I’ll drink your pain. Take your pick.”

Kai’sa swallowed noisily, and Ahri, truly annoyed now, punched Evelynn hard in the arm. Eve grunted, shooting annoyed eyes over to her. “Go. Away,” she snapped, tail thrashing rapidly back and forth, her ears flat against her head. She bared her teeth, which made Evelynn smile and brush her thumb along the curve of her mouth.

“There she is,” she purred, “Good luck, Kai’sa, darling. I’ll be around.” She turned on her heel, but not before brushing a kiss across the arch of Ahri’s cheekbone.

“What…the fuck,” Kai’sa said flatly, watching Evelynn stalk away.

“She’s a nightmare. She likes being an asshole at any and every turn.” Ahri’s ears were still flat against her head, and she glared after Eve’s retreating form. “Be happy you got me.”

“Uh, yeah,” Kai’sa laughed, reaching for Ahri’s hand. It cooled the worst of her annoyance, and her tail stopped its consistent thrashing. “I think I’d be dead already if they paired me with her.”

Ahri couldn’t argue that point. Eve had self-control, of course, but she was far less insistent about using it than Ahri herself. Men disappeared after nights with her all the time. Women didn’t often, and Ahri figured it was because Eve respected women a lot more than she did men. So, maybe Kai’sa wouldn’t be dead. She’d probably just be a favorite plaything by now. The thought was unpleasant and she leaned harshly into her side, wiggling up underneath her arm. “Let’s stop thinking about Eve. Let’s go mingle, let people get to know you. It’s a good networking opportunity.”

Kai’sa nodded, tugging at the collar of her own shirt and swiping her thumb along Ahri’s cheek. At her curious look, Kai’sa said, “Lipstick stain.”

Ahri’s chest warmed despite herself, and the curve of her smile turned soft. Kai’sa was so pretty. She was so nice. She really did like this one. Evelynn could step off. This one was hers. She wasn’t sharing. With a soft smile, Ahri led her into the shark tank.

----

Kai’sa hated it, Ahri could tell. She didn’t like having people schmooze up to her, or having to schmooze in return. In areas that Ahri thrived, Kai’sa lacked. She wasn’t good at being anything but quiet and sweet and attractive in terms of networking. It drew people in, but Kai’sa seemingly didn’t know what to do once they got there. Her personality was nice, Ahri had seen it, but she was awkward in rooms full of people, and especially with new people that she didn’t know very well, or, worse, at all. Ahri carried most of the conversations, pushing an agenda that she thought Kai’sa would like. The grateful squeezes to her hip told Ahri that she was performing well.

What Kai’sa did like was watching Ahri subtly snipe at other people who very obviously didn’t like her. She caught the amused eyes, the quirk of Kai’sa’s red-painted lips. Ahri even got genuinely jealous when her biggest competition began obviously flirting with Kai’sa. She’d stepped away for one fucking second to get Kai’sa something to drink and refill her own. It was Eve who drew her attention to it. She brushed past her, leaning up against Ahri’s back, lips pressing to her ear. “Might need to push those claws out, gumiho.

Ahri looked over, seeing Kai’sa looking mildly uncomfortable, but engaged in the conversation. Zyra was leaned in close, her hand pressed against Kai’sa’s heart. The curve of her smile was sharp, her eyes bright and interested. She looked like she wanted to eat Kai’sa whole and, valid, but Ahri was not having it. She squeezed Eve’s hip in thanks, moving with purpose toward the scene. She slipped between the two, knocking Zyra’s hand free of Kai’sa’s chest. “Hi baby,” she purred, pleased beyond belief to see relief flood Kai’sa’s expression.

“Hey,” she responded, carefully maneuvering her so Ahri was pressed against her side. Before Zyra could pull any more shit, Ahri let her free hand grip on to the lapel of the suit, blocking access to her steadily thumping heart.

“Oh, hi Zyra,” she laughed, sounding fake on purpose, “I see you’ve met my –” she put just enough emphasis on the possessive to prove a point, “—girlfriend, Kai’sa. Kai’sa, this is Zyra.”

“Yeah, I know,” Kai’sa said, smoothing a hand down her back, “We’ve met.”

Zyra’s expression had visibly soured, and she leaned back away from them both, body language tense and closed off. “Ahri,” she said, tight and terse.

Without waiting for further saccharine sniping, she turned on her heel and strode away, sneering at Evelynn, who bared her teeth right back, winking at Ahri from across the room. Ahri breathed easier, the hot, angry ball slowly unraveling in her chest. Hm. Uh oh.

----

The stupid party dragged on for far too long, and Ahri had a pounding headache and an aching back by the end of it. She was actually the one who tugged at Kai’sa’s hand and asked if they could go. Kai’sa, predictably, agreed, warm hand a balm on her sore back. Evelynn, as if sensing an opening, materialized, asking for a ride home. It was so fucking dumb, Ahri knew she was doing it just to be annoying, to drink of Kai’sa’s discomfort. Plus, Ahri knew she relished making Caitlyn as uncomfortable as physically possible. Despite the red flags, however, Eve never took no for an answer, and Ahri agreed.

Caitlyn gave her the biggest eat shit and die look as she was forced to lead them out past the photographers again. Eve sidled up to her back, walking far too close. Ahri watched Caitlyn’s shoulders hunch up around her ears. Kai’sa dropped Ahri’s hand, using her long legs to cover more ground. Vi fell back into step at Ahri’s back, trading an interested look with her. Kai’sa pulled the limo door open, ushering Caitlyn in first before following shortly after.

Once Ahri settled inside, it was to see Kai’sa’s body blocking Caitlyn’s off from a very annoyed looking succubus. It was very sweet, but Ahri was once again struck by how little Kai’sa knew about the danger she was in. Just to be a pain, Ahri settled across Kai’sa’s lap, winking at Evelynn as she did so. Eve just pursed her lips in response, turning into an actual normal person and holding a conversation. There were only about thirty thinly veiled innuendos that Ahri could count – a true record, she thought.

The limo pulled up to a nice-ish apartment building. Ahri had never seen where Kai’sa lived, and it was suddenly very important that she did so. Kai’sa spent so much time at her place – she wanted to see how Kai’sa lived too. She just smiled at Kai’sa’s very obvious confusion when she clambered out after her. “Can I come up?” she asked.

“Sure. If you want.” Kai’sa shrugged, tugging at the collar of her shirt again. “It’s a mess though. My room’s fine, but I share with Akali, who’s a mess in more ways than one.” Kai’sa’s smile turned soft, and Ahri felt another foreign stab of jealousy. Uh oh.

Evelynn sauntered up next to them, clawed fingers popping the button on Kai’sa’s shirt. “Just get comfortable, darling, no one’s around to see now. I’m coming too.”

Kai’sa sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Okay, but why – you know what. Nevermind. I don’t even think I want to know the answer. Sure? I guess just come on up.” She looked over Ahri’s shoulder, to, presumably, her bodyguards. “You two coming? We’re short on space, but I mean, I guess this is a thing that’s happening at this point.”

Caitlyn sighed, looking between Ahri and Kai’sa, jaw clenching. Miraculously though, she relented. Apparently, Kai’sa sheltering her from Eve’s ridiculous need to make everything awkward had won her serious points. “No. Not unless you’d like to, Vi. I have a feeling you’ll be fine. But please, call me if you need me, ma’am.”

Ahri’s smile was soft, and she nodded her head in Caitlyn’s direction. “As always.”

Kai’sa led her and Eve both up several flights of stairs. Ahri cursed, snagging her forearm and wishing she were brave enough to ask Kai’sa to carry her. Her fucking back hurt and she was drained after dealing with so many people for so long. Eve pressed her knuckles into the bunched muscles near her spine and Ahri sighed in relief. She was maybe a fucking nightmare, but Ahri loved Evelynn so god damn much.

Upon coming to the closed door of, presumably, Kai’sa’s apartment, Ahri wrinkled her nose. It reeked of weed smoke and she made a small noise of discontent, pressing her face against Kai’sa’s shoulder. It helped a little, her suit smelled like detergent, and a touch like the night air outside. She cursed her sensitive nose – everything was terrible when smells were too strong and the weed smoke, while not unpleasant, per se, sure was overpowering.

“Sorry,” Kai’sa murmured, unlocking the door, “Akali wasn’t expecting me back tonight. She’s probably baked as hell.” Evelynn chuckled and Kai’sa sighed harder.

“It’s okay,” Ahri said, muffled into a broad shoulder, “It’s my own fault. I just wanted to see where you lived.”

Kai’sa pushed the door open, standing aside to let the other two women enter before her. “Akali!” she called out, “I have people with me. I’m home.”

A wild head of hair popped up over the couch, eyes squinting against the light of the hallway. A pair of headphones rested crookedly across her head, and her eyes were red, but a pretty shade of blue. Ahri couldn’t help but smile. She looked young, but she surely couldn’t be that much younger than Kai’sa. “Oh, hey,” the woman, Akali, said, blinking hard at the sight of both her and Evelynn, “I so didn’t know people were coming over. I’d have cleaned. My bad.”

“I didn’t either,” Kai’sa assured her, peeling her suit jacket off and hanging it on a hook by the door, along with her keys. “It just sort of happened. Have you eaten yet?”

Akali stood, looping the headphones around her neck and pausing whatever was on the tv screen. “Nah. Not really. I like…snacked. Munchies, y’know.” She patted her stomach for effect, hazy eyes settling on Evelynn just over Ahri’s shoulder. Ahri heard her swallow audibly, and rolled her eyes as she felt Eve’s chin press into her shoulder. Her body angled toward the new person, and Ahri could feel the palpable interest rolling off her. She could imagine the serpentine smile that was crawling across Eve’s face right now. “What’s up?” Akali said, jerking her chin in both their directions, “I’m Akali. I’m assuming one of you is Kai’sa’s fake girl or whatever.”

“That’s me,” Ahri said with a small, polite smile, wiggling her fingers in a wave. “I’m Ahri. This is Evelynn.”

Akali nodded, gesturing grandly around the relatively small, messy space. “Well, welcome to paradise, I guess.” She sat back down on the couch, hooking the headphones back over her ears as she pressed play on the controller. Evelynn brushed past her, wandering over to sit next to Akali and do…something. Whatever it was that Evelynn did. Ahri took the time and the space to look around.

The apartment was…alright, as far as things went. It was not nicer than her house, and Ahri had half a mind to just ask Kai’sa to move in at this point. They got on well enough, it would probably work fine. She’d thought models made more money – the fact that Kai’sa not only shared the space with a roommate but even lived here at all threw her for a loop. She took her shoes off, wandering deeper into the space, glancing guiltily into the kitchen, where she could see Kai’sa prepping some sort of food. She waited to be told no, but Kai’sa either didn’t notice her slinking around or didn’t care. There wasn’t much food at the stupid party, Ahri’s stomach gave a feeble growl at the promise of it.

Taking advantage of no attention being on her, Ahri dragged her fingers along the painted walls, eyes greedily drinking in whatever she could. There were pictures – mostly of Akali and Kai’sa together. She saw one at the top of a mountain, Akali sweating and bent double, Kai’sa topless, her hands above her head, smile wide and pleased. She pressed her fingers to that one, absently drawing one down the lines of Kai’sa’s abs. Not doctored, it seemed. They really were that stupidly defined.

Another one showed Akali in a gi, arm thrown around an older man, who looked proud of…whatever was happening in the photo. Ahri wondered if it was her father. Kai’sa wasn’t in this one though, so she wasn’t nearly as interested. The more she wandered, the more photos she found. Her favorite one was what looked to be a young Kai’sa with her family. What looked to be Kai’sa’s parents were dark-haired, that same, dark inky black that sucked in all the color around it. She shared the shape of her father’s nose, but most everything else came from her mother. Kai’sa looked very much like her mother. Kai’sa looked very small in the photo, Ahri would guess maybe three. Her mother appeared in no more photographs, and her father was sparsely around as well. Kai'sa's eyes also looked blue in the photo. Hm.

The scent of weed smoke faded the further Ahri wandered into the apartment. She peeked into the bathroom, which wasn’t all that messy. She could see shampoo bottles neatly lined in the shower, but also clothes carelessly tossed into a corner of the room. She poked her head into one of the bedrooms, nearly immediately popping back out of it. It was clearly Akali’s room – no way would Kai’sa be that messy. She wandered the last door, pressing her hand hesitantly against the wood, guiltily biting her lip. She shouldn’t be snooping. But she was very curious, and there was no one around to stop her. Ahri had never been all that good at denying herself what she wanted.

Breathing deep, Ahri opened the door. The room was quite small. It fit Kai’sa though, Ahri had to admit to herself. Though the woman was tall and commanded attention just from the way she looked, she didn’t do much with it. She was quiet and unassuming. Ahri ducked inside the room, snapping the door shut behind her. The bed was cloaked in dark gray sheets, the comforter a soft, knitted looking thing a shade lighter than the sheets. Ahri brushed her fingers over it and – yes. It was as soft as it looked. Ahri smiled, doing a slow circuit about the room. There were a few star maps plastered across the walls. Kai’sa did seem like she was into astrology. Other pieces of artwork were scattered over the desk in the corner.

Ahri carefully peered at them but didn’t touch them. Actually digging through Kai’sa’s stuff seemed a little intrusive, even for her. This, being in her room, was intrusive enough, but Ahri couldn’t help it. She was hopelessly curious and it smelled nice in here. She let loose a jaw-cracking yawn, rubbing at her eyes. The nap earlier hadn’t helped as much as she’d thought. She almost removed her contacts before she remembered Akali. Ugh. Still, though, she could indulge in here for a few minutes.

She left Kai’sa’s desk, studying some of the charcoal drawings that were hanging on the light gray colored walls. They were pretty well done, the shading catching Ahri’s attention. She was no art connoisseur, but she’d been alive long enough to appreciate skill when she saw it. She figured Kai’sa drew these herself, which just added a whole other layer of attractiveness to her friend. Dumb. Her lips quirked at the corners, falling quite quickly when she heard the door open behind her. She froze like a deer in the headlights, coming face to face with Kai’sa.

Kai’sa’s face morphed into something mistrustful and Ahri rushed to save face – as if she could. “Sorry,” she blurted, “I just – I was curious.”

Kai’sa stepped fully into the room, closing the door behind her. “You could have asked,” she said, voice tight.

“I – uh. True,” Ahri agreed, feeling awkward. “I just – I don’t know a whole lot about you. I didn’t snoop. I just walked around the room and saw the drawings. I didn’t open any drawers or anything. Scout’s honor.” She held her hand up, wincing as Kai’sa seemed unmoved.

Kai’sa sighed, shaking her head. “This is super weird, Ahri.”

“I mean…fair.”

Kai’sa shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose. “There’s food out front if you’re hungry. Next time just…ask. I’m not mad. I’m a little weirded out, but I’m not mad.”

Well, that was something, Ahri supposed. Hesitantly, she approached, biting the inside of her cheek. She reached out and wrapped her fingers around Kai’sa’s wrists. “I’m sorry,” she said and meant it.

Kai’sa’s mouth twitched and her tired eyes softened a touch. “It’s alright,” she said, “Go get something to eat.”

Ahri dropped her hand to where Kai’sa’s liver resided again, brushing her fingers over the cloth-covered skin. “You offering?” she asked, trying in vain to lighten the somewhat tense mood.

“Go away,” Kai’sa said with a roll of her eyes.

Ahri had so many questions, but she understood Kai’sa needed space. She left her room, re-entering the living space to Akali and Evelynn arguing about whatever game Akali was playing. It was so shocking that she actually paused. Eve looked in her element, eyes bright as she leaned into Akali’s space, lashers languidly moving in Akali’s direction. Ahri was fairly certain Eve was doing it just to be irritating. Still, though, she looked like she was having fun, and, even more shocking, she looked genuinely into Akali. Ahri would never have pegged Akali as her type, but…well. There you had it.

She leaned against the kitchen counter, filling a plate and tearing into it. Kai’sa was a good cook and Ahri would never pass up something she made for her. She still felt a little guilty for snooping, but she was still so, so curious. She had a lot of questions she wanted to ask her, and she wished it was just them in the apartment. She stayed silent, chewing the dinner and watching Akali die multiple times on the same game level. By the time Kai’sa reemerged from her room, Ahri had done the dishes, dried them, and put them away. She was no monster, she knew how to be a good house guest (unless you counted not snooping through people’s rooms).

Kai’sa looked much more comfortable and was yawning into the crook of her arm. “You can have the bed, use the shower, whatever. Or I can just drive you back home.”

Ahri didn’t want to go home. She wanted to stay here and sleep in Kai’sa’s bed and find out more about her. It was alien. She’d never really cared about her fake relationships before but she cared about Kai’sa. She was interested in Kai’sa beyond the surface level. She wanted to see Kai’sa succeed. Gross. “I don’t want to go home,” she admitted, “And you can just sleep in the bed with me. It’s not that weird. I don’t think they’ll be done for a while yet.” She jerked her chin in Eve’s and Akali’s direction. Evelynn was peering at her curiously, surely tasting whatever weird emotion she was feeling in the air.

Kai’sa wrinkled her nose, nodding her head. “Good point. Alright. I’m going to go to bed, I’m tired.”

Ahri trailed after her, feeling foreign and alien in her own body. She’d been genuinely jealous of someone flirting with Kai’sa, she wanted to know lots of things about her. Ahri figured she was in a little bit of trouble. Instead of facing it, she harshly tamped it down, wrinkling her nose. She didn’t have time for this. She took her contacts out, wiped her makeup off, stole Kai’sa’s clothes, and crawled under the soft sheets, peering at Kai’sa on the other side of the bed. “Can I ask you something?”

“If you want,” Kai’sa said through another yawn.

“At the party Eve said you were uncertain. Scared. Why?”

Kai’sa startled, turning wide eyes in Ahri’s direction. “How did she – what the hell. You guys are scary.” She furrowed her brow, bottom lip sticking out in just about the cutest pout Ahri had ever seen. “I don’t know,” she admitted after a long stretch of silence, “Sometimes I just feel like an imposter, you know? Like all of this shouldn’t be happening to me. I kind of feel like I’m somehow going to ruin your image or my own, or fail at this stupid modeling thing. I don’t even want to model as a job. I want to dance.”

Ahri reached out, brushing her fingers along the curve of Kai’sa’s shoulder. “Do you feel like that all the time?”

“Yeah,” Kai’sa said, quiet in the dark of the room, “I do.”

Ahri didn’t know how to fix it, and she wasn’t even sure she wanted to try. But she didn’t want Kai’sa to be drowning in her own insecurities. She helped the only way she knew how.

Ahri shuffled forward, collapsing into Kai’sa’s side and wrapping around her form. She could feel the sharp, surprised intake of breath from the woman beneath her. “I don’t think you’re an imposter,” she told her, “I think you’re talented and sweet and you have a lot more to offer than you think.” It made her chest ache to say, and Ahri made another face. She didn’t feel particularly drunk, but she was apt to blame whatever this was on the alcohol.

Kai’sa sighed, squeezing Ahri close and kissing her forehead. “Thanks, Ahri,” she said quietly. After a beat, she felt Kai’sa laugh. “Maybe I will let you suck out my soul.”

Grinning against her skin, Ahri shook her head, shifting impossibly closer under the covers. “Tease.”

***

They really blew up after the images from the party dropped. Requests for interviews rolled in, and she and Kai’sa didn’t get to spend nearly as much time together. It was irritating, especially because Ahri had more questions – more interest. Eve didn’t let her live it down, propping her feet up on Ahri’s coffee table and studying her with bright golden eyes. “You like your new pet, gumiho,” she told her. Ahri steadfastly ignored how right Evelynn was and instead decided to pretend the feeling, whatever it was, was going to go away. She instead took to prodding Evelynn about Akali, but Evelynn was so fucking shameless that it didn’t have the intended effect.

When Kai’sa was allowed to spend time with her, it was mostly work-related. She tried to recapture some of that easy chemistry, but it was difficult with so many eyes on them. Kai’sa was a lot more awkward the more people took note, and their management was so up their ass about where to be and when that Kai’sa didn’t have time to be comfortable around her anymore. Ahri was ready to scream.

She eventually threw a tantrum for the ages a few months in, slamming her foot down and straight-up screaming at Camille while Kai’sa, Vi, and Caitlyn watched. Camille, so utterly used to the brattier parts of Ahri’s personality, remained mostly unfazed, simply blocking off time to let Ahri and Kai’sa both breathe. She probably didn’t need to be a massive brat, but Ahri felt better after throwing a full-on princess tantrum. Kai’sa, thank god, didn’t look turned off by it – she mostly looked relieved. She asked, hesitantly, if Kai’sa might want to hang out – feeling a strange warmth in her chest at Kai’sa’s soft smile.

She took her shopping – which was really more for herself than it was for Kai’sa. Retail therapy eased the stress of her job, the stress of feeling whatever the fuck she was feeling about Kai’sa. Working out was for squares – Kai’sa fell into the square category. Ahri would take buying way too much makeup over sweating it all off running any day.

She loosely linked hands with Kai’sa, excitedly chattering and waving at fans as she led her around the sprawling indoor mall. Kai’sa seemed engaged, if mildly bored which Ahri would never understand. She offered time and time again to buy things Kai’sa looked at, but Kai’sa just smiled, shaking her head. “Why?” she whined, tugging at both of Kai’sa’s hands.

“I don’t need something that expensive. I can find something similar at, like, Target, Ahri.”

Ahri narrowly fought back a gasp as her eye twitched. “Let me buy you something,” she demanded.

Kai’sa narrowed her eyes, looping an arm over Ahri’s shoulder without prompting. It made her stomach squirm. “Do I get to choose what it is?”

“Yes!” She was hoping Kai’sa would choose one of those loose knitted off the shoulder sweaters. Those were her favorite. It always made Kai’sa look so soft and warm. Or maybe one of those wide-brimmed bohemian looking hats she favored. They made her look cute. Ahri was in so much fucking trouble.

With a grin that was far too self-satisfied, Kai’sa dropped a kiss against the side of her head. Ahri liked to pretend it wasn’t just for show. She led her to the food court, and Ahri sighed, digging her fingers into the dip of Kai’sa’s waist. “No, food doesn’t count.”

“You let me choose.”

“You’re cheating!”

“Make better contracts.”

Pouting, Ahri felt her ears fold back against her head. Without thinking too much about it, she leaned over and bit the curve of Kai’sa’s shoulder. It wasn’t hard, it was just the first thing she thought of to retaliate. It just made Kai’sa laugh, which just made Ahri want to bite her harder, to find out what other pretty sounds could fall from Kai’sa’s lips. Almost immediately, Ahri heard Evelynn’s mocking voice in her head. You like your new pet, gumiho. Wrinkling her nose, Ahri crossed her arms over her chest and ignored it. It was fine. This was all fine.

She even bought Kai’sa boring food, bitching the entire time. They settled at one of the tables in the food court, Kai’sa’s fingers wrapped around a cup of frozen yogurt. Ahri outright refused to participate, pouting the entire time. Kai’sa just laughed at her, poking her nose with the end of her spoon. “Stop being bratty,” was all she said.

Ahri shot her a glare in response. “I thought you were going to let me buy you one of those nice sweaters you like –”

“That I can find at Target.”

“Kai’sa! It’s not the same! The material’s so much nicer and softer! And it’ll last longer!” That was an outright lie, the expensive stuff needed a gentler touch, but Kai’sa didn’t need to know that. She just wanted to get her something. She did so much for other people – Kai’sa deserved something nice in return, even if it was just an expensive sweater.

“Why are you so insistent about this? I’m perfectly happy with my frozen yogurt.”

Ahri’s brow darkened and she sank in her seat, stubbornly refusing to look Kai’sa in the face. She had reasons for it, but they were embarrassing and they played her hand. Kai’sa hadn’t shown any outright interest, Ahri really didn’t want to freak her out. Plus, she wasn’t really sure if she was ready to admit to herself what the strange, alien pressure in her chest was.

“Ahri?” Kai’sa asked, one brow quirking. That stubborn lock of hair fell into her face, and Kai’sa blew it back. Ahri thought it was just about the cutest thing she’d ever seen.

“I don’t know,” she finally sighed, lying through her teeth.

Kai’sa’s eyes pierced her soul again and Ahri could just tell the other woman didn’t believe her. But, because she was Kai’sa, she let it slide. “Alright,” she said with a small smile, digging her spoon into the yogurt and taking far too large a bite.

It smeared some across her lower lip and Ahri snorted, reaching out to wipe it away without thinking much about it. She delighted in the bright pink flush she got in response. She pressed her thumb against Kai’sa’s closed lips, feeling particularly in the mood to be a tease. “Open up,” she sing-songed.

Something flashed in Kai’sa’s eyes, and, to Ahri’s intense surprise, she did. She sucked the frozen yogurt off the pad of Ahri’s thumb, keeping intense eye contact the whole time. Ahri felt herself flush hot, felt her jaw hang comically open. She heard herself make a strangled sort of choking noise before she abruptly pulled her hand back, face burning. She caught the self-satisfied curve of Kai’sa’s smile and wanted to hate her for it. As it was, her brain was just filled with white noise, arousal pounding a harsh beat in her stomach. Fuck.

She tucked both her hands under her arms, feeling foreign in her own body. How was she supposed to respond to that? Kai’sa had never done something like that before. Her laugh rang out and Ahri’s brow darkened further. She sank in her chair, so low only her ears were visible at the top.

“Oh, don’t be a drama queen,” Kai’sa giggled, knocking her foot against Ahri’s knee underneath the table, “You pull that on me all the time.”

“It’s fine when I do it,” Ahri grumbled, face still aflame.

Kai’sa just snorted but didn’t needle Ahri further. Once Ahri felt like a normal person again – she wasn’t sure she’d ever feel one hundred percent normal after experiencing that, but whatever – she sat back up, watching Kai’sa finish up and lean back in her seat. She drummed a beat over her stomach, catching Ahri’s gaze and gracing her with a soft, indulgent smile. Ahri felt her mouth run dry, her brain shot circuit.

“Can I ask you something?”

Kai’sa tilted her head, curious. “If you want.”

“A few months ago, when I stayed the night at your place, I saw a bunch of pictures.” Kai’sa went a little pale, sitting up straight. Ahri pressed forward. “I saw one of you with I guess probably your family. But I only saw that one picture of your mom.”

Kai’sa audibly swallowed, body language closing off. Ahri reached out to toy with the tips of her fingers. Kai’sa’s brows came together in a sharp line, but it eased the longer the silence stretched. She breathed out deep and slow, twisting her hand to tangle their fingers together. “Yeah,” she said after another long, tense silence, “Those are my parents. That’s my mom. She died when I was really young. My dad…” She trailed off, sighing and pinching the bridge of her nose. Ahri fervently hoped there were no cameras around. “Well, my dad just wasn’t really around a whole lot after that. He’s not a bad father, he’s just…absent. That’s all.”

“You look very much like her,” Ahri told her, bringing Kai’sa’s hand up to brush a kiss across the skin there.

“I know.” Kai’sa grinned, a tense, sad-looking thing. “My dad doesn’t know this is fake. He thinks this is all real. He keeps harping on about meeting you.”

Ahri swallowed hard, being forcibly reminded of the same as soon as Kai’sa said it. It felt intimate, the warmth flooding her chest far too real to be something put on. “I can meet him,” she said, sounding flat to her own ears, “I mean…yeah, it’s fake, but still. I don’t mind.”

Kai’sa’ frowned, glancing up and studying her. Ahri didn’t know what she saw, but she did know that, as always, it felt like Kai’sa was looking right through her. “I won’t put you through that if you don’t want me to.”

“I don’t mind,” Ahri said, emphatic. It was something she could do for Kai’sa since the stubborn ass wouldn’t just let her buy her something.

Kai’sa leaned forward, lithe form folding over the table. She brushed a kiss across the arch of Ahri’s cheekbone, not releasing her hand. It made Ahri’s heart skip a beat and she was sure she saw Kai’sa flush pink. Ahri certainly hoped she wasn’t the only one having these strange, confusing, annoying feelings. “Come over here then.”

Obediently, Ahri stood, coming over to lean across Kai’sa’s shoulders from behind. Kai’sa brought her phone up, dialing, presumably, her father. It took a few rings, but an older man with salt and pepper hair, and strong features, answered. He blinked at the sight of Ahri, smiling, thin and nervous. Understandable. Ahri felt that way too. It wasn’t real. None of this was real. Why did Ahri want to impress him so badly?

Even Ahri could sense the distance between them. Kassadin didn’t seem to know what to say to Kai’sa, who just got silent and surlier the longer the call went on. Ahri wrapped herself more firmly around Kai’sa’s shoulders, turning her head to nose at her cheek in some semblance of comfort. She carried most of the conversation, turning on the charm well enough to get Kai’sa’s father laughing – an awkward, stilted sounding thing as he glanced over at his daughter. He eventually cleared his throat and Ahri could see his hands anxiously wringing.

“So, Kai’sa. How’s the ah – the dancing going?”

“It’s not,” she said shortly. Ahri rested her cheek against the top of Kai’sa’s head, digging her fingers into the tense muscles bunching at the back of her neck.

“Oh.” Kassadin turned imploring eyes to Ahri through the screen. She did not help him. If he didn’t know how to talk Kai’sa down, that was his problem. Her problem was making sure Kai’sa felt safe and comfortable with her. She’d work on Kai’sa’s daddy issues later if she let her. “What um…what is then?”

Kai’sa shifted, sighing as Ahri hit a particularly stubborn knot of muscle. “I told you. Modeling, mostly.” She gestured up in Ahri’s direction. “Her. She’s going.”

“Right, right.”

He fell silent after that and Ahri bit the inside of her cheek. She leaned down, kissing the shell of Kai’sa’s ear. “I hate to say this, but we’ve got places to be. We’re running late, baby.”

Kai’sa snapped her attention on Ahri, her head moving. She knocked noses with her, and Ahri felt her breath catch at how close they were. Kai’sa’s eyes were very purple. Kassadin did not share the color. She looked relieved and she tilted her chin forward, kissing Ahri once, gently, on the lips. Ahri felt her stomach swoop, her head spin.

“Yeah, dad, we have to go. I’ll talk to you – I don’t know. Whenever.”

Ahri winced at her tone but politely smiled at Kai’sa’s father. “It was nice to meet you,” she chirped.

He smiled tightly at her, but his eyes were warm. “You as well. Goodbye, Kai’sa. I love you.”

“Mm,” Kai’sa hummed, before Ahri harshly pinched the lobe of her ear, “I love you too.”

She ended the call, looking grumpy and sullen.

Ahri sat down across from her again, eyes soft. Her chest felt tight and she didn’t like it when Kai’sa was upset. She could feast off the emotion in the air, but she didn’t want to. She wanted to soothe it. “He’s nice,” she hesitantly began.

“He’s fine,” Kai’sa said shortly, her hands messing with her now empty frozen yogurt cup. “Thank you for that. Might get him off my back for a little while.”

Ahri got a distinct impression that while Kassadin tried, he just didn’t know his daughter very well. He didn’t know how important the art of dance was to Kai’sa. He didn’t know how much she’d prefer to do that over modeling. He didn’t understand that to make her happy you had to listen to her and be there for her. Kai’sa did not ask for much, but her father seemed to fall short. Ahri hoped it was less him being unwilling to commit to figuring Kai’sa out and more him trying in the wrong ways.

“You’re welcome.” She paused, eager to ease the tense, harsh line of Kai’sa’s shoulders. “He’s sort of awkward.”

That seemed to open a floodgate. Kai’sa launched into a long tirade about Kassadin, his awkwardness, his unwillingness to even attempt to be interested in what she was doing. She talked violently with her hands, the frozen yogurt spoon flinging melted slop all over the table. The shitty fluorescent lighting reflected harshly off the dark sheen of her hair, highlighting any imperfection in Kai’sa’s skin. Ahri felt her heart go wobbly in her chest and she felt a little sick before she realized she had butterflies. She would be content to sit here and watch Kai’sa, in this terrible lighting, fling food everywhere and violently bitch about her absentee father forever. She hung the sun in the sky, her presence snagging Ahri and dragging her forcefully in. Everything stopped, and all Ahri wanted to do was reach over and sink into her.

Hm.

Uh oh.

***

The months stretched on, and the feeling didn’t go away. Ahri laughed way too loud at Kai’sa’s terrible dad humor, stood way too close to her outside of their fake relationship responsibilities, and got all starry-eyed and mushy when she thought about her. It was terrible and awful, and Ahri wanted to throw up every time she thought about it. Kai’sa, from what Ahri could tell, wasn’t into her like that. She didn’t make those overt moves to wiggle in close or laugh too loudly whenever Ahri tried to joke. Kai’sa was just there and sweet and pretty and everything.

Sometimes, Ahri thought she caught her staring, but she didn’t have enough proof to fool herself. She was pretty sure it was just her feeble hope playing tricks on her lovesick mind. The tabloid fodder died down, the spotlight easing off them. They could go out to eat without paparazzi swarming them – could go for walks without legions of Ahri’s fans coming in in the hopes to sneak a peek. Ahri kind of liked it, it gave her and Kai’sa more time to just exist in the same space with no expectations. They still kept up the façade of course, but…Ahri could pretend better when people weren’t around.

She draped herself all over Kai’sa, truth be told. Ahri knew she wasn’t being all that subtle with her feelings, but she’d spent so long messing with her, and flirting for fun that she hoped that would cover her.

Kai’sa asked her more personal questions – asking about Ahri’s parents, how old she was really, how she knew Evelynn. She bitched about Akali and Evelynn having needlessly loud sex in their apartment, which Ahri found obscenely hilarious. It still felt like Kai’sa hung the sun in the sky, even when she was being terribly annoying – and there were times when Kai’sa was terribly annoying.

She refused to admit what she already knew, instead throwing herself into doing things that would make Kai’sa happy. She made several phone calls, using both her charm and her pull within the industry to allow Kai’sa more time for dancing. With more absolute exposure, Kai’sa got genuine offers. Ahri could see the elation when she smiled. She bent over the offers with Ahri, leaning carelessly into her side as they spoke about the pros and cons. Ahri combed the contracts with her, having far more experience in that area. It complicated things, with Kai’sa being the face of Calvin Klein, but she wouldn’t be forever. Upon finding out that her recent exposure was because of Ahri, Kai’sa went misty-eyed, just reaching over and hugging her tight. Ahri just sighed, sinking into her warmth and wishing it were real.

Even knowing the inevitable was coming, Camille’s meeting still struck her like a knife to the gut. She walked in anxiously, wringing her hands as she matched Kai’sa’s long-legged strides into the same room they’d met in. Kai’sa glanced at her curiously, palm closing over Ahri’s wringing hands. “C’mere,” she whispered, pulling her into a side room and waving Caitlyn and Vi off, “Dance with me.”

“There’s no music,” Ahri said flatly, smiling despite herself. Still, though, she let herself be pulled in, looping her arms around Kai’sa’s shoulders and swaying to whatever phantom beat was in Kai’sa’s head.

“Doesn’t matter.” Kai’sa pulled her flush against her front, resting her cheek against the top of Ahri’s head. Her even breathing ruffled the hair on Ahri’s ears and she twitched one, delighting in Kai’sa’s laugh. She didn’t speak again until Ahri’s muscles went loose and pliant as they rocked back and forth. “What’s wrong?”

Ahri swallowed, frowning. How to bring this up? To bring it up at all? No…no. Kai’sa didn’t like people lying to her. Ahri could be honest. At least…sparingly. “I think this meeting is to end us.”

Kai’sa tensed, but didn’t stop her gentle sway. “Really?” she murmured into the top of her head.

Ahri nodded mutely, slipping her hands from Kai’sa’s shoulders in favor of resting them against her chest. She felt the steady beat of Kai’sa’s heart under her right one. “We’re not tabloid fodder anymore. A breakup puts us in the spotlight again.”

She heard Kai’sa swallow, felt her head shift. Ahri felt her inhale deeply, felt the warm exhalation against the top of her head. “Do you think you’ll ever do anything like this again?”

Ahri’s heart sank. She was hoping for Kai’sa to sound more upset – to tell her that she didn’t want it to end – want them to end. Ahri closed her eyes against the rush of emotion, twisting her mouth to the side and sliding her hands back up to Kai’sa’s shoulders. “Probably,” Ahri whispered, “Do you?”

“No,” Kai’sa said back, just as quiet, “I don’t.”

It twisted her stomach further. Ahri faltered, ruining the gentle sway. Kai’sa just paused, lifting her off the ground and setting her back down to let her reset. Ahri lifted her head, trying for the playful tone she usually spoke with. “It was that terrible, huh?”

Kai’sa frowned, cupping Ahri’s face in one cool palm. She brushed her thumb along Ahri’s cheekbone eyes clear and trusting in the dim light of this abandoned office. “No,” she said quietly, “It wasn’t.”

Ahri frowned, swallowing against her suddenly dry mouth. “What does that mean?”

Kai’sa blinked, that strange expression lifting from those piercing eyes. “Nothing,” she said gruffly, tugging Ahri forward by the chin and kissing her. It wasn’t soft or gentle. Kai’sa smooshed her cheeks and pressed their mouths hard together. Ahri gasped against the pressure and felt the fleeting, alien touch of Kai’sa’s tongue against the sharpness of her canine before she pulled away. Her cheeks were bright red and she didn’t seem to want to look Ahri in the face.

Ahri, too overwhelmed and hot in the head to do much more than gape, accepted the soft brush of Kai’sa’s hand against hers. She fell into step next to her, holding her hand and letting her lead. Holy shit. Holy shit. Ahri still didn’t know what it meant, but she was so fuzzy that she couldn’t think of a good way to ask. She was so hesitant to hope – it did nothing but put stupid ideas in her head that she was too much of a coward to follow through with. She just leaned hard against Kai’sa’s side, clinging to her arm even as she held her hand. She didn’t want to let go.

As suspected, Camille told them it was time to end it. She posed the question of how, and neither Kai’sa nor Ahri answered. Ahri’s ears folded back against her head, her brows forced a sharp wrinkle in the middle of them. Camille noticed, curiously looking between the two of them. She did not offer an out. For as much as Ahri liked her manager, she also thought she could be a cold piece of work sometimes. She was looking to capitalize on this situation – Ahri couldn’t really blame her for it.

Eventually, she decided on an amicable thing, not wanting to paint either of them in a bad light. Kai’sa took it without complaint, but Ahri argued, fingers tightening around Kai’sa’s the more she went around in circles. Her arguments held zero weight – it was just a way to drag the inevitable out longer. It didn’t work. Without Kai’sa or anyone else to back her up, Ahri’s plan quickly fell apart. She was only able to salvage another hour before she fell silent and sullen.

The silence in the room was suffocating and Ahri jumped at the touch of a hand to her shoulder. She glanced up to see Caitlyn refusing to look at her but clenching her jaw hard and warmly squeezing Ahri’s shoulder. It was comforting in a sort of awkward, overly polite sort of way.

Eventually, Kai’sa stood with a sigh, dropping Ahri’s hand in the process. She smoothed her hair back, pinning that one stubborn lock of it back against her head. She kept her head in her hands, shaking her head. “Well,” she sighed, “This is it, I guess.”

Ahri stood as well, reaching up and brushing her fingers along the insides of Kai’sa’s wrists. Once they lowered, Ahri half-smiled, reaching up and twirling the dark strands of hair that fell into Kai’sa’s face around her index finger.

“I can pin it back if you think it looks better,” Kai’sa said with a careless shrug of her shoulders.

Truly affronted, Ahri snapped, “Don’t you dare!”

She watched affection settle in Kai’sa’s expression and she sighed deeply as Kai’sa pulled her in for one last hug. “We can still be friends, right?”

Disappointment sank like a stone in her gut. She was too much of a coward to try and push for more – she was hoping Kai’sa would. But she’d still not showed a whole ton of romantic interest in her. Whatever happened in the office space seemed a fluke – one Ahri still didn’t really understand. She just squeezed her tight, inhaling deeply, the scent of her settling thick like oil on Ahri’s tongue. Her heightened senses were nice and, thankfully, Kai’sa never wore anything too overwhelming. She just smelled nice. Ahri bet she tasted nice too. She had to bite her tongue to stop herself from outright licking along her collar bone. “Of course we can,” she said instead, just for something to do with her mouth, “We’re not allowed to see each other for a bit because of the whole breakup thing but…I’ll call you, okay?”

“Okay,” Kai’sa said, sounding relieved, “I like you so much. I don’t want to give you up for real.”

“You don’t have to,” Ahri promised. After a beat, she sighed, pulling back and brushing manicured nails along Kai’sa’s cheek. “I like you so much too.”

“Yeah,” Kai’sa breathed. That same strange expression that Ahri couldn’t read settled across her features. “I guess I’ll see you around, huh, Princess?”

“Promise,” Ahri said with a small, sad smile.

Kai’sa leaned forward, pressing her lips against Ahri’s forehead. Ahri’s heart leaped into her throat and she felt her hand clench involuntarily in Kai’sa’s collar before relaxing. She let Kai’sa draw away from her. Vi fell into step next to her, escorting her out without needing to be asked. Ahri stood, cold, rumpled, and alone, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. She felt strange, her heart was racing, her palms were sweaty, and it felt like the world was closing in around her. The whole fucking thing was fake, Kai’sa wasn’t into her – why was that such a hard pill to swallow?

Camille exited not long after, leaving Ahri and Caitlyn alone in the room. Caitlyn remained cool and aloof, standing at attention by the door. Ahri could see her eyes worriedly flit in her direction. “Ma’am…” she began hesitantly, waiting for Ahri to wave her on before she continued, “Forgive the intrusion, but – ah. That was stupid.”

Ahri blinked, frowning harshly, but was glad Caitlyn had broken whatever strange hole she was digging herself into. “What the hell?”

“You shouldn’t have let her leave. You’ll be miserable without her.” She shrugged, dark brows coming together. She looked highly, highly unwilling to have this conversation. Ahri was surprised she was talking about it at all. Caitlyn didn’t do this. Caitlyn was an emotionless robot. Ahri had half a mind to listen to what she had to say if she was forcing herself to talk about this with her.

“I’ll be fine,” Ahri lied, voice tight and annoyed. “She’s off to bigger and better things. We’re still friends. That’s…that’s all that matters.”

Caitlyn looked at her like she’d grown two heads, but, predictably, didn’t argue. “Of course, ma’am,” she said quietly, mouth pressing into a thin line.

Well. What the fuck did she know, anyway.

----

They did remain in contact, thank god. Kai’sa texted her stupid memes or pictures of her and Akali. They weren’t allowed to hang out – their management was still way too committed to the bit. They were supposed to be broken up. Broken up people didn’t consistently hang out. Problem was, Ahri missed her. She missed having Kai’sa close at hand, she missed listening to her complain about her father, or Akali, or her shitty landlord. She missed her humming nonsense as she cooked in the kitchen. She even missed Kai’sa’s horribly annoying habit of reading Ahri her horoscope and picking it apart bit by bit. On the plus side, she did get really weird texts from her at three in the morning. Ahri heavily suspected those were when she was baked as hell on edibles. Her favorite ones were Kai’sa asking if Ahri would still like her if she were some sort of animal or abstract other thing. Ahri had woken up to a string of those, which had made her laugh, even as she missed Kai’sa terribly. She was just so weird.

They made a plan to meet up at another ridiculous party – thrown in Eve’s honor. Ahri didn’t even know what the party was for, Evelynn had her fingers in so many things. Regardless, she was obviously going, both to support her closest friend and at the promise of seeing Kai’sa in person again. It was genuinely pathetic. It had only been a few weeks and Ahri was already tripping over herself to get at her. Gross.

She took far too long getting ready, as per usual, she gave Vi and Caitlyn the night off despite Caitlyn’s protests, and clambered into the limo, texting Eve and Kai’sa both that she was on her way. She anxiously toyed with her outfit on the way there, wishing Kai’sa was here with her to soothe her anxious energy. As weird as the woman was, she sure did know how to chill Ahri out and Ahri – while skilled at many things – was high maintenance, and needed that soothing presence.

She clambered out of the limo without help and with much fanfare. Despite Evelynn’s protests, the paparazzi never really listened. Ahri was fairly certain Eve would murder someone by the end of the night if the number of camera flashes was anything to go by. Sighing, Ahri made the walk again, smiling pretty and polite, making needless small talk, and turning on the charm just to make this as painless as possible. She got plenty of questions about Kai’sa, which made shockingly real pain lance through her chest, but she laughed uncomfortably, waving it off and making her excuses. She was still committed to the bit, even if she very much wanted not to be. She breathed a sigh of relief upon stepping inside.

She stood on her tiptoes, craning her neck to try and catch sight of Kai’sa’s dark head of hair. She was pleased with the lack of press – and, more importantly, people – inside. She could stop pretending if there weren’t as many people. She could wrap herself around Kai’sa as much as she wanted, flirt with her as much as she wanted, dance with her as much as she wanted. Eve knew it was fake, but she also knew it had turned real there, at least for Ahri, near the end. Eve’s friends (or as close to them as Evelynn got) at least knew how to keep their fucking mouths shut, so Ahri wasn’t concerned about pretending she was upset with Kai’sa.

As if thinking about her summoned her, Eve materialized next to her, reeling her in by the wrist to place a kiss against both her cheeks. “You’re late.”

“I’m on time. We both know things don’t start until I get here.”

They grinned at each other, Ahri’s heart going soft in her chest.

“She’s not here yet, Akali said Kai’sa might be late.”

Ahri frowned, ears wilting, making Evelynn laugh and flick the left one. Ahri wrinkled her nose at the action, swatting her away. “You gave me endless shit for, and I quote, liking my new pet, and yet here you are. Bringing a human to one of the many parties thrown in your honor.”

Evelynn openly rolled her eyes, but something in her tightening mouth gave Ahri pause. Eve didn’t really do the whole dating thing. She dated plenty of men, but she also ate those men. It was never anything beyond that. Ahri thought the closest Evelynn had ever gotten was with her, and that was more necessity than anything else. Ahri had a distinct feeling that Evelynn liked Akali and didn’t know what to do with it. Which…well. Ahri could relate. Instead of needling her further, she squeezed at her wrist, leading her deeper inside.

It took an hour more for Kai’sa to get there, and Ahri immediately sought her out as soon as Akali said something. She found her near the food, looking so ridiculously good in a dress as dark as her hair. She noticed a bit of teal green scattered throughout those dark tresses, which was very new. Ahri snuck up to her, wrapping Kai’sa up in her arms from behind and kissing the back of her shoulder. “Hi,” she said, grinning as Kai’sa jumped, “Your hair looks nice.”

Kai’sa turned with a smile so warm Ahri thought she might burn up. “Hey, you,” she murmured, wrapping Ahri up in a proper hug. “Yeah. Figured I’d try something out.” She shook her head, bending so Ahri could study it up close.

Never one to resist an option so inviting, Ahri carded her fingers through Kai’sa’s loose hair, admiring the way it caught the light. Her free right hand came to rest against Kai’sa’s heart, the skin warm against her palm. “I like it,” she said after far too long a moment. Kai’sa didn’t call her out on it though, just caught her eye and smiled. “C’mon,” she said, tugging fruitlessly at her hand, “Come dance with me.”

That, for some reason, made Kai’sa cagey. “I – uh. I can’t really –”

Ahri’s whole world stopped spinning as Zyra sidled up next to Kai’sa, knocking Ahri’s hand free and curling around her form. “Oh hi, Ahri,” she said, eyes mocking.

Ahri didn’t dignify it with a response, feeling her heart freeze in her chest. Her world tilted on its axis, and she felt like she might throw up. “What –” she said, sounding strangled and horrified to her own ears.

Kai’sa, at least, had the decently to look embarrassed. She not so subtly shifted from Zyra’s grip, but let her hand rest against her back. Ahri was ready to throw things, throw up, or, ideally, rip Zyra’s fucking throat out with her teeth. She had to fight back the instinct to bare her teeth, to let her tail puff up, making her look bigger than she was. Ahri hated it. She hated it. She hated her. She even hated Kai’sa a little bit because what the actual fuck.

More importantly, she had Kai’sa’s words ringing in her ears. She didn’t think she was going to do something fake again – which meant her showing up with Zyra was real. What a horrifying thought. Kai’sa off the market, Kai’sa unattainable. Kai’sa with Zyra. Ahri was almost positive she was going to be sick. It was fine when Kai’sa was still available, but this lit a fire under her ass in the worst way. She was able to ignore the warmth in her chest when Kai’sa made it so easy to fall into her. The mere threat of that being taken away bolstered Ahri’s feeble courage. She wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

“Uh,” Kai’sa began, “Zyra asked me to this, and I just kind of figured…”

“Oh, you don’t need to explain it to her,” Zyra said, placing her hand over Kai’sa’s heart and smiling, sickly sweet, in Ahri’s direction. Ahri was ready to throw the fuck down.

“Funny, I think she kind of does because there’s no way Evelynn invited you.” It wasn’t the subtle dancing around it. Ahri was angry and, admittedly, jealous enough to just be upfront. She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling her tail whip back and forth angrily behind her. She was validated to see Zyra’s face go pink.

“She must have,” Kai’sa said, shrugging her shoulders. Ahri kind of wanted to smack her. “Because…I mean. She asked me.”

Ahri felt her jaw tighten further at the relieved look on Zyra’s face. Worse, she could see the genuine affection in her eyes. It made it worse that she wasn’t just doing this to needle Ahri. She seemed to actually like Kai’sa, which was absolutely understandable. Ahri hated that she understood Zyra at this moment. It killed the furious fire burning in her gut and Ahri felt her shoulders slump. “Right,” she muttered, turning on her heel and striding away.

She heard Kai’sa call out behind her, but Ahri didn’t turn around. Her chest felt tight and there was a hard knot in her throat that she was having trouble getting away. She didn’t want to make a scene and cry in the middle of Evelynn’s party. One, because she wasn’t a shit person (most of the time), and two because Eve would never let her live it down. She strode up the stairs, blindly moving about. She didn’t know the layout of this place, but there had to be somewhere she could hide for a little while and collect herself. She eventually found a single person bathroom and she ducked inside, locking the door behind her. She stood, staring at her pale, sweaty reflection in the mirror.

Good. It gave her something else to focus on. She felt her phone buzz in her clutch but she ignored it, even as it kept buzzing. She didn’t think anyone was calling her. It seemed like she was just getting a series of texts. Those were easy to ignore and no one knew where she went. She felt safe in here. Ahri walked on unsteady legs to the mirror, swallowing hard and watching tears well up in her eyes. She sniffed, letting them fall. Fuck it, at this point. She would ruin her face and then redo it. No big deal. She’d done this before. Ahri sniffed, turning away from the mirror as she cried. She was not one of those women who looked pretty when they cried. Her face got all blotchy, her nose ran – it was not an attractive sight. She didn’t need to be reminded of it while she already felt so shitty.

Ahri gave herself ten minutes of allotted time to be dramatic. Then, she wiped her face with a wet paper towel, redid her makeup, made sure her hair still looked okay, then texted Evelynn to run interference. She ignored the worried texts she received from Kai’sa and Evelynn herself, deciding to go right for the jugular. This was not time to waffle and be a coward. If she wanted something to happen she had to do something. Breathing deep, Ahri stared at her blue eyes in the mirror, wishing the contacts were out. It would feel more genuine if Kai’sa could see her real eye color but…needs must.

She exited the bathroom, using the pep talk she’d given herself to move back downstairs. She heard Evelynn running the interference for her over to her right. She made a mental note to give her literally whatever she wanted in response to that. She found Kai’sa in a corner, moodily picking at one of those shitty craft beers she liked so much. Ahri crowded into her space, reaching out and placing her palms against Kai’sa’s ribs. Kai’sa opened her mouth to speak, worried eyes flitting over her face, but Ahri beat her to it.

“So, I know it was fake, but maybe it wasn’t there for me near the end.”

Kai’sa jerked as if slapped, her eyes going wide.

“I ended up really liking you. I like the way you roll your eyes at me when I get way too dramatic. I like when you smile when I do something nice. I like that you drink terrible tasting craft beer, but it doesn’t taste so bad when you kiss me. I like that you gush about dance no matter how often you do it. I like that you complain about Akali and your landlord, but you’re never mean about it like I am. I like that this,” she reached out and twirled the dark lock of hair in Kai’sa’s face around her finger, “Never behaves. I like you. I love you.”

Kai’sa audibly swallowed and she reached out, cupping Ahri’s face in her palm. Her eyes went soft, and Ahri felt hope soar in her chest. “Oh,” Kai’sa breathed, leaning in. Ahri could count her eyelashes if she wanted. Ahri leaned up, her heart thumping erratically in her chest. She got about halfway there, lips parted, when something happened. Kai’sa’s eyes settled somewhere over her shoulder and she tensed, pulling back, leaving the air cold between them. “I – I really wish you’d said something earlier,” she said, voice tight.

Ahri felt the hope crash down around her, leaving her cold and scared as she fell back flat on her feet. “I’m saying something now,” she said, sounding breathless.

Kai’sa looked a little frustrated, stepping back from her and brushing a hand through her hair. “I just – I’m here with someone else, Ahri. You should have said something sooner.”

“I’m saying something now,” she snapped, mildly annoyed.

Kai’sa’s mouth pressed into a thin line and she sighed, reaching out for something over Ahri’s shoulder. Ahri turned, seeing Zyra come back, looking irritated. She took Kai’sa’s hand, pressing her own to Kai’sa’s stomach. Evelynn came up next to her, shooting her an apologetic glance. Her hand settled at the small of Ahri’s back, and Ahri felt a little better with the action. Akali came up too, shrugging at Kai’sa as the other woman gave her an icy glare. “I can’t do this with you right now,” Kai’sa sighed, addressing Ahri again, “I’m sorry.”

Ahri felt her heart crack, pain lancing harshly through her chest. She heard Eve’s sharp inhale next to her. Ahri even saw Akali’s eyes widen. Kai’sa walked away from her, making small talk with her date as she led her over to the bar. Ahri felt sick. She felt like crying again. She didn’t want to be here anymore. She’d been so confident. Kai’sa had looked so pleased with the admission. What had gone wrong?

Akali cleared her throat, looking conflicted as she glanced between Kai’sa’s retreating back and Evelynn’s stormy expression. “Should I, uh…” She gestured in Kai’sa’s direction, “Do something?”

“No,” Ahri said, sounding far away, “That’s okay. I think I’m going to go home now.”

Evelynn glanced sharply toward her, carefully rubbing her back. “Would you like me to take you?”

“No,” Ahri breathed, blinking and finally breaking her gaze from Kai’sa’s retreating form, “That’s okay. I can find my own way. I love you. This is your party. You should enjoy it.” She broke away from Evelynn’s comfortable frame, pulling out her phone and calling Caitlyn. It was the only person she could think of. Dutiful as always, she promised to come to pick her up around the back. Ahri snuck out, meeting Caitlyn there and only getting popped by a few photographers. She hoped she didn’t look too dazed and out of it. Then again, Ahri felt bad enough that she didn’t really care as much as she should have.

Caitlyn shot her concerned glances the entire way home but didn’t end up saying anything. She got out to open Ahri’s door for her, which was very sweet, but it reminded her very much of Kai’sa, which was less fun. Ahri just exited the car, accepted Caitlyn walking her to the door, and wrapped her up in a hug before she went inside. Vi was closer to Kai’sa’s height, but Caitlyn was closer to her build. Ahri just tucked her face against Caitlyn’s shoulder, accepted the awkward pats to her back, and went inside.

----

Ahri didn’t reach out, and she ignored everyone who texted or called her. She didn’t want to talk to anyone. All she wanted to do was sit alone in her house and be sad. She watched a lot of shitty television, ate a lot of ice cream, and cried way more than she thought truly necessary. Then again, Ahri always was a drama queen. She wasn’t expecting a knock on her door.

She ignored it at first, content with assuming it was just a delivery or something. However, when the knocking got louder and more insistent, Ahri groaned, dragging herself up and forcing herself into her living room. She was freshly showered and in a way too big set of pajamas that hung limply off her form. She cursed, calling for the person at the door to wait as she scampered back upstairs for her contacts. She threw the door open, blinking as she saw a very annoyed looking Kai’sa standing there with her arms crossed over her chest.

“You freaked me out,” she started, throwing her hands up, “You didn’t answer anything and fell off the face of the earth. You freaked me out.”

“I didn’t answer anyone, to be fair.”

Kai’sa glared. “That’s worse.”

Ahri stood in silence, not quite sure where to go from here. She wondered, distantly, where Zyra was, but then abruptly stopped thinking about it because it hurt.

After a tense minute, Kai’sa sighed, her tight shoulders loosening as she leaned forward. “Can I come in, please?”

Stupefied, Ahri stepped aside, wishing she looked nicer. Once Kai’sa came in, Ahri moved to the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water for her and handing it over. Kai’sa sat on the couch, picking absently at the wrapper. She didn’t look in Ahri’s direction, her brow pinched as she seemed to be lost in thought. “Uh,” Ahri began, “I guess I’ll just be upstairs if you need anything? You know where it all is though.” She waved a hand, feeling awkward and out of place. This whole situation was odd.

She turned away, hearing Kai’sa sigh harshly behind her. “I wanted to talk to you, Ahri, just not at the party. If you weren’t such a drama queen you might know that.”

Ahri paused, feeling a little defensive and annoyed despite herself. “Well,” she began sharply, “Maybe you should have been clearer and not walked off with her after brushing me off.”

“You shouldn’t have ambushed me about all this in the middle of a social function.”

Fair, Ahri supposed. Her mouth twisted guiltily to the side and she wrapped her arms around her middle. “Okay,” she grumbled, “I’m sorry.” She didn’t know why Kai’sa had shown up to rub that in her face, but whatever. She did deserve an apology, at the very least.

Kai’sa looked up at her, face pinched in an expression of frustration. “I didn’t go with Zyra just to annoy you.”

“I know that,” Ahri said, brow furrowing, “I didn’t say all that just because I thought it was a personal attack. Come on.” She knew Kai’sa probably went because she liked her for whatever godforsaken reason. It was none of Ahri’s business, really.

Kai’sa went a little pink but kept eye contact. “I just – I just wanted to make sure. Are you okay?”

Ahri gestured blandly down to herself. “I’m unhurt,” she said, deadpan.

Kai’sa nodded, anxiously tugging at the hem of her shirt. “Did you mean all that that you said?”

“Of course I did,” Ahri admitted, flushing bright pink. She’d already bared her soul and gotten rejected once, she didn’t want to do it again. “What, you think I just say that stuff and like to get rejected for fun?”

“I didn’t reject you,” Kai’sa said, rolling her eyes, “I just didn’t want to discuss it there.”

Kai’sa rejected her, but Ahri didn’t want to argue the point. It didn’t look like either of them was willing to bend. Instead, she stayed silent, shrugging one shoulder. “Did you, like, want something, or?”

“I want to talk about it,” Kai’sa said, sighing harshly through her mouth, “Get over here and sit down and let’s talk about it.”

Groaning, Ahri wrapped her arms around her torso more fully, as if she were trying to hold her cracking pieces together. This was not going to be a fun conversation, she could just feel it. Kai’sa was probably just too nice to outright tell her it was a fruitless attempt. She’d drag it out and make it needlessly painful first. Ugh. She wandered over and sat on the couch, closing herself off from Kai’sa both physically and emotionally. She’d taken enough of a beating on both fronts over the years.

“Great,” Kai’sa said, sounding relieved. “What did you mean when you said you love me?”

“What did it sound like?”

Kai’sa audibly swallowed and she reached out, placing a palm against Ahri’s thigh. “I – really?”

“Yes, okay?! Yes. It’s embarrassing, so can we please stop dragging this out?”

A sharp wrinkle appeared between Kai’sa’s brows. “Why is it embarrassing?”

“Because you – !” She threw her hands up, cheeks heating, “Because you didn’t say anything back and then walked off with my least favorite person in the world, Kai’sa. It’s embarrassing. Stop making me relive it.”

Kai’sa went quiet, but her hand stayed pressed to Ahri’s knee. She scooted a little closer and Ahri felt her heartbeat pick up in her chest. “It got real for me too in the end,” Kai’sa said quietly. Ahri rocked back as if struck, turning wide eyes to her. “I just didn’t think you felt the same. You flirted a lot, but you did it so much that I wasn’t sure if that’s just how you are. I know that you did stuff like this before, so I thought you couldn’t possibly like me as I liked you. I didn’t want everything to end, but I didn’t want to keep you trapped with me because I had feelings for you either.”

Ahri scooted abruptly over, pressing against Kai’sa’s side. Kai’sa’s arm fell around her shoulders, and Ahri’s chest warmed. “You couldn’t have told me this a week ago?”

“I tried, but someone wasn’t answering my fucking phone calls.”

Ahri smiled against Kai’sa’s shoulder, shaking her head. “I mean at the party, dummy.”

“Oh. I just – I was there with someone else. Zyra asked me and it felt rude to just ditch her because you decided to play peak drama queen and confess your love in front of me.”

“You wouldn’t even do it for the person you love?” Ahri asked, popping her head up to look Kai’sa in the face, smiling. It was half a joke and half a way to fish for what she wanted to hear.

Kai’sa rolled her eyes, reaching out to cup Ahri’s face in her palm. “No, Princess. Not even for the person I love.”

Ahri melted, throwing herself over Kai’sa and curling up against her warmth. Now she really wished she looked better. She wanted to peel Kai’sa out of her clothes, to press her lips along the tight, defined lines of her abs, to dip her face between Kai’sa’s thighs and make her see stars. It was hard to imagine though, with her makeup-free face, wet hair, and too big pajamas.

“I just thought it wasn’t the right time to have that conversation. Zyra asked me, I had no idea about everything beforehand, and I’d agreed to go with her. I thought she deserved a decent date for the night, that’s all. I always intended to talk to you after the fact.”

“You could have said that,” Ahri breathed, pressing a kiss at the side of Kai’sa’s neck. She nipped at the skin there, sucking to remove any lingering sting.

“I thought I did,” Kai’sa said, sighing and tilting her head to the side, “I thought it was implied. I’m sorry. I guess we need to work on that.”

“We, huh?” Ahri murmured, licking up along the arch of Kai’sa’s neck to nip at her jawline. Her hand inched under Kai’sa’s shirt, nails digging into the tight muscle of her stomach.

“Mm,” Kai’sa sighed, running her hand down the curves of Ahri’s body, “We. If you’ll have me.”

“Oh, I’ll have you alright,” Ahri promised, swinging one leg over Kai’sa’s lap to straddle her. She pulled her shirt over her head, delighting in how Kai’sa licked her lips at the sight of her bare chest. “Let’s make out. You can touch all you want.”

Kai’sa swallowed noisily, nodding her head and opening her mouth against Ahri’s teasing tongue. Kai’sa’s hands wandered, leaving blazing paths over Ahri’s bare skin. She walked her fingers down the notches of her spine, scratched at the dimples to either side of it. She smoothed her palms up Ahri’s ribs, brushed the tips of her fingers just underneath the swell of Ahri’s breasts. Ahri wanted her to touch them, squeeze tight and pluck at pebbled nipples with those delightfully skilled hands. She nipped at Kai’sa’s lower lip, hoping to encourage boldness, but that just seemed to make her slow. Ahri just kissed her with more purpose in response, sliding her tongue along Kai’sa’s, wrapping it around the backs of her teeth. She even pulled away to nip at the skin of her throat, leaving dark, obvious hickeys in her wake. Mm. Good.

Kai’sa just dragged her blunted nails down the plane of Ahri’s stomach, thumbed along the ridges of her hips. Ahri wanted her to slip that hand beneath the waistband of her pants and underwear, to slide her fingers through slick folds, to sink them inside her, and let Ahri ride her into oblivion. Lust spun staggeringly hot in her head at the thought and she gasped, head tilting back. Instead of doing that, Kai’sa’s hands roamed to her backside, giving her ass a playful squeeze before she brought her right palm down sharply against one clothed cheek. Ahri gasped, feeling hotter at the prospect of pain. Her mind went fuzzy, all logical thoughts leaving her. All she could focus on was how badly she wanted Kai’sa to fuck her. Peppered in was just how much Ahri wanted to drink deep of her soul.

She gasped as one of Kai’sa’s hands closed over her breast. She squeezed, pressing kisses along her bared throat. She brushed her fingers across Ahri’s nipple, forcing her hips to stutter forward. “Kai’sa,” she whispered, her hands carding through dark hair. “Take your shirt off.”

Ever the gentleman, Kai’sa did. She kept one hand on Ahri at all times, fingers soothingly stroking across soft skin. She peeled her shirt off and Ahri felt her mouth flood with moisture. She’d never seen the abs up close and personal. She’d seen them in photos, but Kai’sa had never been fully topless around her like this. Her breasts were still hugged by a sports bra, but her stomach was totally bare. She could see the band of Calvin Klein underwear peeking out over the top of Kai’sa’s pants. Ugh. Ahri’s hands fell to the ridged plane of muscle and she dragged her palms along it, pretty sure she was going to drool at some point this afternoon. She kissed her again, tongue curling into Kai’sa’s mouth well enough that it forced a broken moan past her lips.

Kai’sa broke from her, lips swollen, hair messy, face flushed. “I love you,” she told her, scooping her up underneath her thighs and sitting her comfortably against her middle. Ahri laughed, still feeling hazy through a sheen of blinding lust. She just wrapped her arms around Kai’sa’s shoulders and pressed her lips to her forehead. She felt warm, both physically and emotionally. She wanted to fucking eat Kai’sa’s soul. That was going to be a problem.

Kai’sa set her down on the edge of her bed, popping the button on her jeans and wiggling them down her legs. There was something to be said for Calvin Klein and their underwear. It highlighted nice things, that was for sure. Ahri just leaned back on her palms, feeling silly in her too-big pajama pants and wet hair. Kai’sa bent, kissing her again and Ahri worked her fingers up underneath her sports bra, working to tug it off. She eventually succeeded and her eyes darkened at the sight. Ahri sighed, leaning forward and closing her mouth over one of Kai’sa’s breasts. Her free hand came up to cover the other one. She heard and felt Kai’sa’s sharp inhalation and felt her head swim with possibility again.

Kai’sa let her lavish her breasts with attention for a while before she carefully dislodged her, her fingers plucking at the edge of Ahri’s pants. Grinning, Ahri lifted her hips to assist Kai’sa in their removal. Scooting further up the bed, Ahri settled her back against the pillows, beckoning Kai’sa closer with a crook of her fingers. Kai’sa followed, looking dazed and drunk as she did so. Oh, good. So it wasn’t just Ahri herself. She couldn’t help the small noise she let loose at the first press of Kai’sa’s skin against hers. She ran her nails down Kai’sa’s back – not hard, that would come later – and relished the full-body shiver she got in response.

They kissed again, a slow, languid thing that made arousal pool low in her stomach. It stretched out through her nerves, tensing her muscles and settling hot in her head. Her nails dug into Kai’sa’s back as her thigh settled between Ahri’s legs. Shameless, Ahri tilted her hips, searching for that elusive friction. Her underwear was wet, and she knew Kai’sa could feel it if the low, pleased hum was anything to go by. Instead of stopping her like Ahri was expecting, Kai’sa wrapped her fingers around her hips, urging the movement on. Ahri moaned high into the stifling, thick air of the room, feeling the last vestiges of her self-control fray and snap. She bit her, sinking her teeth into the skin of Kai’sa’s shoulder.

Kai’sa made a strangled noise, pressing Ahri’s hips harder down against her thigh. It amped up the pressure tenfold and Ahri flexed her jaw, grunting when the tang of copper flooded her tongue. It was different though. Kai’sa’s blood tasted normal – Ahri would know, she was a predator for god’s sake – but it made sparks shoot along Ahri’s spine. There was something there, something different and alien. Ahri dug her nails into Kai’sa’s back and bit harder, drawing more of it past her lips. Kai’sa hissed against the pain on two fronts, flexing her thigh and pressing it against the crux of Ahri’s thighs more forcefully.

Ahri could feel the pressure aching to spill over. She was dry humping Kai’sa’s thigh and about to come all over it. She felt like an inexperienced teenager – it was embarrassing. She was slick and worked up and rutting against her like an unfettered animal.  Her teeth were latched onto Kai’sa’s shoulder, her nails dragging bloody paths down her back. She wanted to devour her. She wanted to devour her body and soul. She broke from her shoulder with a gasp, the rolls of her hips going uneven. She groaned, licking into Kai’sa’s mouth delighting in the action of Kai’sa pressing her down hard against the mattress. She looked flushed and turned on too, Ahri didn’t feel quite so embarrassed anymore.

“Come on,” Kai’sa growled, taking over the rolls of Ahri’s hips for her. Her hands pulled her up and down along her thigh, the pressure catching Ahri’s clit just right. Ahri felt her eyes roll back in her head, and she groaned low in her throat. “C’mon, Ahri.”

The sound of her name falling from Kai’sa’s lip with such dirty intent did it for her. The orgasm rushed up along her spine, shooting out heated sparks of pleasure along her nerves. It was quick and messy, and unexpected, but Kai’sa wasn’t done with her yet. She peeled her ruined underwear down her legs, leaning her head down to lick along Ahri’s skin. She wrapped her tongue around Ahri’s nipple, brushing her hand along Ahri’s inner thigh. Ahri herself just groaned, her hips giving feeble twitches, chasing the remainder of the dizzying orgasm. She threaded her fingers through Kai’sa’s hair, panting raggedly against the brutal stimulation.

She took a brief moment to take out her contacts, setting them on the bedside table before rolling them over. She sucked more dark hickeys against Kai’sa’s skin, dragging her teeth none too gently across her collar bones. She rested her hands against Kai’sa’s chest, feeling her heart thudding against her right palm. She took a moment to breathe, too hot in the head to have any semblance of rational thought at the moment. The first orgasm had only taken the edge off – she still wanted Kai’sa to ruin her. More pressing, however, was how much she wanted to go down on her. “Love you,” she whispered, beginning the slow downward trek.

She spent way too much time licking across her stomach, but she couldn’t blame herself too much. She’d wanted to touch Kai’sa’s abs for a while. Now she had the time and the excuse to do so. Kai’sa just huffed a laugh at the action, tracing her thumb across Ahri’s lower lip as she looked up at her. She brushed her hair from her face, which made Ahri smile and brush a kiss across her lip in thanks. She nipped at the soft skin of Kai’sa’s inner thigh, soothing the sting with her tongue a second later. She hummed low in her throat at the taste of her arousal she found smeared there. It made her mouth water as she peeled the Calvin’s down her legs. She wrapped her hands around Kai’sa’s thighs, pressing them apart.

She pressed her mouth to wet heat, pushed her tongue up through it. The taste coated her tongue, making lust, dizzying and hot, fire through her brain again. This tasted better even than the strange, alien blood. Ahri let her eyes close, curling her tongue across Kai’sa well enough that she heard her breath stutter in her chest. She’d had eons of experience, Ahri knew how to get her to scream. She wanted to work her up slowly though, to savor the taste and the intimacy that the action brought on. Kai’sa’s hand just curled in her hair, her hips rolling slowly up against her mouth. That changed the angle and the pressure of her tongue and Ahri smiled against her as Kai’sa let out a low, choked off sounding groan.

Ahri pulled back, mouth dripping and wet. “You don’t have to hold anything back. It’s just us. I like it when I know I’m doing a good job.”

Kai’sa turned dark eyes to her, her cheeks flushed a dark red, sweat gathering along her hairline. Cute, cute, cute. “You’re doing a good job,” she growled and pushed Ahri’s head back down. It gave Ahri a dark thrill, knowing Kai’sa was strong enough to force her down like that. She wondered if she’d be willing to do something like that while strapped up – Ahri did always enjoy a little bit of that with her partners. There was something so empowering to watch them come undone, lose control, and thrust hard and fast into her mouth while Ahri let her jaw hang limply open. She really hoped Kai’sa would be down to try that some time.

As it was, she just closed her lips around Kai’sa’s clit, sucking it into her mouth and lavishing attention on it with her tongue. Kai’sa hissed out through her teeth, her hips jerking harshly upward. Ahri brushed her hand along Kai’sa’s inner thigh, letting the length of two fingers rest just underneath her chin. She pressed the tips of them inside her, making a low, questioning noise low in her throat to gauge Kai’sa’s interest and consent. She got a single groaned ‘yes’ in response, and Ahri grinned as she pressed up and in. She had more control with her fingers and she kept up her tongue’s steady lapping, giving a few slow, testing thrusts, searching for that one spot that she knew would make Kai’sa cry out. She’d slept with plenty of women and it never ever failed. She knew when she found it – both from feeling alone, but also from the obvious tightening of Kai’sa’s whole body. She let loose a breathy noise as Ahri pressed against it with the pads of her fingers, running the flat of her tongue consistently over her clit.

Fingernails pricked her scalp and Ahri had to close her eyes against the rush of heat as Kai’sa moaned, “Don’t stop.”

She didn’t. She kept of that consistent, steady pace of her tongue and she curled and uncurled her fingers, pressing the pads of them up and against her g-spot again and again. She heard Kai’sa sob, felt a sharp tug to her hair. It made Ahri moan against her and the vibrations seemed to be the deciding factor. Kai’sa’s back arched and Ahri hummed happily as Kai’sa’s orgasm coated her lips and chin. She worked her slowly through it, easing off her clit, but carefully applying pressure to the swollen area she could feel against her fingers. It drew it out longer and Kai’sa made delightful, choked off noises as her body twitched.

Ahri kissed her way back up, meeting Kai’sa’s open mouth with a kiss as she settled atop her. Kai’sa wrapped her arms around Ahri’s lower back and she effortlessly rolled them over again. Her fingers snuck between Ahri’s thighs and Ahri laughed, nipping against Kai’sa’s shoulder. “Oh, wait. No. I mean, yes, obviously yes, but – I’ve got stuff in the closet I want you to use. Take your pick.”

Kai’sa leaned up, looking satisfied and drunk off her. It made Ahri’s ego soar and she grinned – all teeth. Kai’sa looked fixated on the sharpness of her canines and Ahri snapped them for effect, watching Kai’sa bite her lower lip in response. Fun. Biting worked. Good. Ahri wasn’t sure she could control it even if she wanted to. Looking resistant to the idea, Kai’sa clambered off her and went to dig in the closet. Her eyes widened at the selection, and Ahri heard her huff out a laugh.

She came back with the whole box, plopping it on the bed and looking at Ahri for guidance. Ahri reached out for her, hugging close to her front and pressing kisses up the sharp arch of her jawline. She groped blindly down in the box itself, fingers closing around a vibrator and pressing it into Kai’sa’s hand. “This is a good start,” she said, kissing her cheek and smiling softly at her. Kai’sa bit the inside of her cheek, looking unsure but determined. She nodded, making another selection and nearly tripping over herself to work the straps across her hips. Ahri laughed, reaching out to help.

It did not go well. Kai’sa worked faster than Ahri did, and all Ahri did was get in the way. She tripped once more, ending up flopped over Ahri’s form. Ahri laughed, working her arms over Kai’sa’s shoulders and her thighs around her hips. “Graceful. Hot. The picture of sex,” she teased.

“Shut up,” Kai’sa laughed, adjusting so that she was perched over her. Her palms pressed into the pillow on either side of Ahri’s head. Her hips slotted between Ahri’s thighs and she licked her lips, looking down at her face. “You ready?” she asked. Ahri nearly swooned at how sweet it was.

She reached up, tucking a strand of dark hair behind Kai’sa’s ear as she nodded. “Mhm. I’m ready.” She blindly grabbed for the vibrator, closing her fingers around it and holding it to her chest as Kai’sa worked the length of the strap inside of her. There was no resistance and Ahri sighed as she felt it bottom out.

“You good?” Kai’sa asked, leaning down to nose against her cheek.

Ahri smiled, nodding, her eyes going hazy as Kai’sa gave a testing thrust of her hips. It lacked the precision of her fingers, but it was still really, really good. Especially because Ahri damn well knew Kai’sa could keep a beat and didn’t tire easily. With the sure, consistent rhythm and all-encompassing pressure, Ahri was pretty sure she’d be squirming in no time. She was proven right. Kai’sa started a good rhythm, nothing too fast right away – a slow, rolling thing that had Ahri’s breath hitching. Eventually, though, the snaps of Kai’sa’s hips became fast and rough, forcing harsh cries past Ahri’s lips. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she switched the vibrator on, reaching between them to press just above her clit. She choked against the stimulation, hearing Kai’sa groan at whatever she saw on her face.

She got louder the longer it went on, the vibrations forcing her legs to involuntarily twitch as Kai’sa rolled into her. Kai’sa leaned down, panting harshly against her mouth before kissing her. Ahri lacked finesse at the moment, being far too concerned about other things, but the intimacy was nice. It made her heart twinge in her chest and she wanted to fall into her, to sink her teeth into Kai’sa’s chest and drink deep of her soul. She wanted to share her own back, to create a bridge of understanding between them. Ahri had done it before and she snapped her eyes open, watching Kai’sa’s own widen at whatever she saw. She pulled back a bit, shifting the angle of the strap and Ahri shouted to the ceiling, back arching as came.

She switched the vibrator off, tossing it somewhere in the room to be dealt with later. She rolled them, sitting with the strap still buried inside her as she looked down at Kai’sa’s beautiful face. “Will you let me…” she asked, mouth watering at the prospect as she walked her fingers over Kai’sa’s thudding heart.

“Your eyes are glowing,” Kai’sa told her, gulping. Ahri was sure her survival instinct was kicking in – valid, honestly. “What…what do you want to do?”

“I want to drink of your soul.”

Kai’sa went a little pale, wrapping her fingers around Ahri’s hips as she thought. “I don’t think – Ahri, I don’t think you’ll like it.”

“I want to try,” she said, emphatic, shifting her hips forward and closing her eyes at the sudden jolt of pleasure. “Humans are so resilient. You’ll be fine, it’ll come back.”

Swallowing thickly, Kai’sa sat up, cupping Ahri’s face in her palm. “Okay,” she said, “I trust you. Go ahead.”

Groaning, Ahri buried her fingers in Kai’sa’s hair, leaning down and kissing her. Magic crackled through the air and Ahri felt the strange, floating feeling of leaving her body behind as she delved into Kai’sa’s mind. She saw flashes of memories, too quick to ascertain before she reached her destination. It was impossible to describe, the soul. She felt Kai’sa’s unease, that vicious, carnal desire to flee from the predator in her lap. Ahri tried to soothe it, offering some of herself in return before sinking her teeth in and drinking deep. She came rocketing back into her own body as she drew Kai’sa in. She felt Kai’sa’s soul energy flood her mouth, her nose, her head, her heart. It was like nothing she’d ever taken before. It slid thick like oil down her tongue, going down like broken glass. It was choking her, it was too much. Ahri snapped her teeth down, breaking the connection and folding down over Kai’sa, gasping.

It took both of them a moment to recover, Kai’sa’s hands an anchoring, welcome warmth against her hips. Ahri unseated herself from her lap, groaning as she collapsed face-first on the bed next to her. “Oh god,” she groaned, “You weren’t kidding about the broken glass comment.”

She was full though, satisfied. She just felt like she’d gone through the fucking wringer. Kai’sa looked similar as she laid down, facing her head-on. She looked hungover, even as she reached out for Ahri, tugging her close into her chest.

“That was a lot,” she said, voice scratchy from overuse.

“It was,” Ahri agreed, kissing her pounding pulse, “Thank you. It – uh. It helps me feel close to you.”

“I can see how,” Kai’sa said, running her fingers up and down Ahri’s back.

“What are you?” she asked, mostly to herself.

“I dunno,” Kai’sa admitted, turning them both so that they were spooning underneath the covers, “It’s – I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does. I think whatever killed my mom did something to me too. I don’t remember any of it though.”

“The void?” Ahri asked quietly.

Kai’sa shrugged, kissing the back of her shoulder. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I just…I don’t think I’m fully human anymore.”

Well, that was good news. Humans lived terribly short lives and Ahri wanted to keep this one around for a while. They had time to get into the nitty-gritty later. Ahri just placed a warm kiss against Kai’sa’s palm, snuggled back into her solid form, and fell asleep.

----

She told Camille, getting a simple eye-roll in response. “You could have told me you didn’t want to break it off, Ahri,” she said, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“I didn’t even know I wanted to keep it going,” she lied.

They didn’t give them too terribly much shit for it, thank god. The media had a frenzy with it, which made both their management happier than anything else. Things could have been worse. Kai’sa smiled shyly at her from across rooms, held her hand when they were out together, and kissed her just because she could. Ahri couldn’t complain.

Evelynn remained snarky, sneering at Kai’sa, who gave unimpressed, vacant looks right back. Ahri appreciated it, Eve was a ride or die for sure. Kai’sa had hurt her feelings and therefore she needed to know her place. She just leaned into Evelynn’s side, telling her to stop it, but not actually expecting her to listen. She had her own human to worry about – there was no way she was going to spare Kai’sa’s feelings.

Ahri rested against Kai’sa’s back on the couch, her head tucked against the back of her shoulder. Some weird cooking show was on, and she heard Kai’sa making humming noises whenever the contestants did anything she found interesting. Her hand was toying with the base of one of Ahri’s ears, scratching at her skin. It forced a rumbling purr past her lips, making Kai’sa laugh and try harder for the sound.

Ahri loved her.

Ahri loved her.

For something that had started off so fake, it was now blissfully, blissfully real.