“We’re going out tonight--” A pause. “No arguments.”
Keqing had reached her limit of Ningguang’s patronizing a long time ago. Once she had cracked but these days, it wasn’t worth the energy. Despite only being friends, acquaintances if you asked Keqing, Ningguang had positioned herself as Keqing’s senior. Senior in life supposedly. Granted the two were nearly ten years apart in age yet it didn’t stop their unlikely camaraderie.
“We went out last weekend,” Keqing deadpanned.
“I said. No arguments,” if anyone were to classify the ever present tone in Ningguang’s voice it would be that of a stern mother. Not exactly the quality one would seek in a friend but it did little to phase Keqing.
“Not an argument, merely a statement.”
“We have to save--” Ningguang was so predictable.
“Face. I know. Archons forbid people think we're stuck up socialite snobs.” Keqing didn’t care much for whatever role she was supposed to be playing but wouldn’t it just be that Ningguang comes into her life and forces her to at least act like she gives a damn. If her parents had actually sent Ningguang to befriend her--she wouldn’t be surprised.
“First, that’s not what that means and you know it. Second, for one of us, it seems to be too late,” Ningguang hummed. She hummed the way she knew Keqing found condescending. Fuck her sometimes. Really. “We’re very similar, two strong women with a rich lineage. It wouldn’t be right for us to relinquish the wishes of our ancestors.”
“That’s a lie and you know it, just shut up and let me go get ready,” Keqing swatted the hand that was dangling far too close to her face and stood up promptly leaving the room. Ningguang was left scowling at Keqing’s less than savory jibe at her ancestors, however given the respect the other regards her own with, it's to be expected.
“Ganyu, stop calling me Lady. It makes me feel old or important or both I don’t know but I don't like it,” Keqing relaxed her posture slightly. It wasn’t every day she was able to send time with someone she genuinely enjoyed. Though she did willingly decide to live with Ningguang. But that’s another story.
“Okay, Keqing then, I’m glad to see you again,” Ganyu bowed slightly. When she rose she received Keqing’s typical look of disapproval.
“You know we’re equals.”
“It’s polite,” Ganyu always acted meek and mild but Keqing knew there was more. Despite considering each other friends, the two knew less about one another than so proclaimed acquaintances typically did.
Keqing always spoke her mind, reading the room generally came after. This being no exception. “Polite. What’s the purpose of these impractical greetings when all it serves is to obscure one’s true intention?” Ah, she could feel it coming. The energy saved from her earlier interaction with Ningguang came surging through her. “All of this,” she gestured around them, “a grandiose ball to seek favor from an Archon inciting laziness in his people. His traditions are ruining his people! This backwards thinking--” There could have been better times to go about this rant. There could have been better people in her company throughout its duration. And yet Keqing found herself with a pounding headache in the middle of a ball honoring Rex Lapis, standing adjacent to a woman who looks as though Rex Lapis had descended and slapped her himself.
An awkward silence ensues. Keqing pretends as though she were not catching her breath.
“Lady Keqing, I cannot accept you speaking his name in vain. I must be going,” Ganyu gasps.
Again Keqing is left alone to her thoughts. Unfortunately, said thoughts just stew.
“Need you chase all the pretty girls away?” As if having her thoughts invaded by the Geo Archon weren’t agony inducing enough, the woman who embodies the will of the gods herself has impeccable timing.
“Why are you here? Don’t I see you enough to at least have the grace not to see you until after the ball?” If there were an agreed upon state of being drunken from anger and exhaustion that would sum up Keqing’s emotional state currently.
“I’m not here to bother you--” A pause. “Intentionally.” Ningguang lifted Keqing’s chin effectively pulling her from her stupor. “However, it is my business that you don’t cause the host’s service girls to cry.”
“She’s not a service girl,” there were so many flaws to Ningguang’s personality it had surprised Keqing the woman wasn’t targeted already. Her constant act of superiority was obnoxious to say the least. Though, despite all of that she had mentored Keqing for years. This could mean one of many things though. Ah, it was probably too much to look into right now.
“Regardless, ‘the host’ has asked me that you rectify the situation. Promptly might I add.”
“Well you can tell ‘the host’ that he can do it himself. She clearly honors him in a way I don’t understand.”
“You know for someone quite charming you surely find a way to screw the pooch as they say.”
“I’m not interested in her.”
“I’m not going to deal with your tsundere ass right now. Go.”
Keqing forced all of the aggravation into her face making her beat red. She was not tsundere. She was not tsundere. This is what she tells herself the entire way to the secluded rooms of the main house.
She felt bad for making Ganyu cry but she had to hold firm in her beliefs and it wouldn’t be right to apologize for that. In her defense, she didn’t know Ganyu was such a devout follower.
“Ganyu? It’s Keqing.” Unsure of which door hid the other woman Keqing was forced to make a fool of herself calling out to her in the hallway.
Keqing increased her pace slightly as a door farther down the hallway creaked open slightly, a lock of blue hair spilling into view. “Ganyu please don’t cry.”
“I wasn’t,” Ganyu looked at her inquizically with rather dry eyes.
“Ningguang said that Rex Lapis said--” now she just sounded like a school girl telling rumors.
“I’m fine, is that why you’re here? Because Ningguang sent you? You don’t seem like the type to always do as she says and yet here you are.”
“I don’t! I just--don’t want to put the energy into fighting with her.”
“Hmm yes you did seem to exert yourself ranting about Rex Lapis’s shortcomings.”
“And I’ll do it again.”
“Calm down will you. This is one night a year in which you can relax, pretend he isn’t throwing himself an appreciation gala. I don’t particularly like extravagant events either.”
“I’m sorry.” What was she apologizing for? She told herself she wouldn’t apologize for standing by her beliefs. Perhaps for ruining an already tense night for Ganyu? “I’m sorry for driving you away, to be honest I was looking forward to seeing you. I know we don’t know each other that well but you always make these things more bearable.”
“We’ve gotten on so well in the past I didn’t know you felt that way about--everything,” Ganyu averted her gaze to anywhere but making eye contact. A tendency Keqing noted she did a lot.
“Well I can’t lie and say that it’s not true but generally I see it within my own power to make the changes I see fit. Should Rex Lapis desert his people, I want to be prepared.”
“One can never be too sure can they?”
“That’s surprising coming from you.”
“I believe whatever he may do will be what he sees best for his people, if leaving should be the answer then so be it.”
Keqing was absolutely positive Ganyu would follow Rex Lapis to the ends of the earth. They may never see eye to eye but they had similar goals. And that was good enough.