Matching Jin's expectations, people all throughout Kouen City turned their heads when he and Lily were passing through. Many didn't even try to hide the desire in their gaze, so, even though he was supposed to be enjoying the festival with his girlfriend, his expression didn't show it. If anything, he appeared upset.
"Come on, Jin. Don't worry about what other people think. Let's just have fun, okay?"
Though he wanted to do exactly that, Jin's expression darkened when a group of burly-looking men approached them with smiles lecherous grins plastered across their faces. Lily noticed them as well, but, unlike Jin, she radiated no hostility. Instead, she exhaled an exasperated sigh before pulling him into an alleyway and whispering, "Remember what you told the others? Even if those men approach us, try not to make a scene. Just knock them out and be done with it, okay?"
Punctuating her words, Lily grabbed the sides of Jin's face before giving him an unrepentantly deep kiss. His eyes immediately widened, but, before he could even think to break free, Lily separated her lips and added, "You're strong, Jin. Stop being so gloomy all the time..."
Before Jin could respond, the trio of men that had previously 'targetted' them simply walked past the alleyway. Two of them looked over, but, other than smiling with 'knowing' looks on their faces, they didn't say or do anything. They just went about their business like everyone else.
Seeing the men walk away, a look of confusion briefly marred Jin's face before he promptly averted his eyes and muttered, "Sorry..."
Forcing Jin to stare back at her, Lily offered a comforting smile as she said, "Don't be. It makes me happy knowing you want to protect me. Just do it when the moment calls for it. If you start viewing everyone around us as potential enemies, we'll never be able to have any fun."
Though Lily's words did very little to improve his mood, Jin forced himself to nod in understanding. At the same time, however, he couldn't help thinking she could at least dress in a less eye-catching manner. She was supposed to be his girlfriend. What was the point of wearing outfits that invariably drew the attention of others? Even if she were wearing rags or thick robes, he would still love her all the same...
Noticing the hint of suspicion in Jin's eyes, a painful sensation spread through Lily's chest. It didn't show on her face, but, every time he gazed at her in such a manner, it hurt in a way she couldn't put into words.
Offering a smile as mellow and relaxing as a warm hearth in late Autumn, Lily ran her fingers along Jin's cheek before combing through his hair. She wished he would just come out and say what was on his mind. Maybe then, she wouldn't feel so lonely all the time...
Relaxing a bit due to Lily's tender and loving behavior, a faint smile developed across Jin's face as he finally reciprocated her embrace. Her warmth had a calming effect on his mind, and, though it was a little musty and animalistic at times, he had long since developed a fondness for the fragrant aroma of her hair and ears. If the thought of her refusing didn't terrify him, he would have asked if he could smell her tail as well...
Sensing the increase in pheromones exuding from Jin's body, a tingling sensation spread through Lily's tails starting at their base. Since there was a very high probability that things would become awkward when they reunited with Sandora, Lily leaned further into Jin's body, her bountiful breasts pressing into his chest as she drew her lips close to his ear and purred, "If walking around stresses you out...we can always find someplace more private..."
Punctuating her words, Lily attempted to maneuver her thigh into the gap between Jin's before the latter immediately separated from her, a crimson hue extending all the way to the tips of his ears as he exclaimed, "Lily! There are people nearby!" in a hushed, audibly stressed tone.
Though her ears briefly flattened due to her frustration, Lily suppressed her urge to punch the wall next to Jin's head as she calmly replied, "That's why I suggested we move elsewhere..."
Pressing his hand to his heart, Jin did his best to calm his breathing as he turned towards the wall in an effort to conceal the front of his body from Lily's gaze. This caused her to squint ever so slightly, her voice becoming noticeable firmer as she asked, "What are you trying to hide? We're supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. There's-"
"Just stop! Please...!"
Though he immediately regretted yelling, Jin didn't look back at Lily. Instead, he balled his hands into fists, head lowered as he trembled due to a mixture of embarrassment, frustration, and, regret. In spite of this, he still managed to eke out, "What happened to you, Lily? You were never like this when we were kids. Why are you so...so eager to advance our relationship? Can't we just take things slowly? You know, like Izayoi and Asuka?"
Feeling a considerable amount of guilt, the frustration in Lily's heart turned to shame as she averted her eyes from Jin's back. She wanted to contend that he was the one who changed, but, fearing she would only make things worse, she elected to remain silent. When she finally did manage to speak, her voice was strained in a manner that made Jin's heart twist as she weakly replied, "I'm sorry I'm not the girl you fell in love with in your memories..."
Without waiting for Jin's response, Lily bounded up the alley walls in a zig-zagging manner before disappearing over the canopy of the rooftops. Jin turned to try and stop her, but, despite extending his hand towards her back and crying out, "Lily! Wait...!" his legs refused to obey him. By the time he recovered enough to manifest his magical aura and fly up to the roofs above, Lily was already long gone...
"What did she mean by the girl I fell in love with in my memories? Aren't you the same person...?"
Though he was currently and understandably confused, it wouldn't take long for Jin to figure out what Lily meant. In truth, she hadn't really changed all that much. He simply wasn't there to see as she slowly developed from a young girl into a young woman. She had already been developing an interest in romance even before his entry into the Game Board. He just hadn't noticed it due to his single-minded focus on gaining strength. As a result, the version of Lily he yearned for throughout his long years of training was the same naive and innocent young girl that had supported him ever since they were children.
What Jin had failed, despite Lily's warnings, was that their time apart had slowly altered the way in which he viewed even her past self. He had converted the memory of her into a near-perfect ideal, so, when she failed to behave in the way he expected, he couldn't help feeling as though there was something wrong with her. It didn't help that one of the first things he encountered when emerging from the Game Board was Lily behaving all 'lovey-dovey' towards Vahn.
Simply put, Jin wasn't in love with Lily. He was in love with the idea she represented. He wanted the always faithful and supportive girl that doted upon and always did everything she could to support him. This 'new', proactive Lily may as well have been a stranger that shared her memories. And now, because of his obstinance, he risked losing both...
Though she very rarely trained, Lily was, on paper, the fourth strong member of the No Names. She could cover vast distances in a very short period of time, but, instead of attempting to escape to the other end of the city, she dropped down into the adjacent alleyway and simply waited.
Seeing no signs of Jin flying overhead even after several minutes had passed, Lily's ears gradually drooped until they lay flat against her head. After ten minutes, she had slouched against the wall, and, though she was wearing a short white skirt in an effort to catch Jin's attention, she paid it no mind as she pulled up her knees, buried her face into them, and complained, "Stupid Jin..."
Having spotted Lily descending into the alleyway, two men loitering around a festival attraction kept their eyes on her for several minutes. In the beginning, they were simply curious, but, after seeing her slouch down and pull her legs up, they willfully repositioned so that they could get a better look. Upon seeing her pure white and intricate lace panties on full display, they exchanged looks with one another before placing their hands in their pockets, looking around, and making their way into the alleyway.
Despite a possessive and hungry glimmer deep in his green eyes, the bolder of the two men slowly approached Lily before asking, "Hey...you okay?" in an ostensibly concerned voice. In response, Lily didn't even bother raising her head as she warned, "Go away..." in a low, threatening tone.
Frowning in response to Lily's harsh tone, the two roguish-looking men moved to surrounded her the same man from before asked, "What's with the tone? We were just worried. You know, a pretty young thing like you shouldn't be loitering around in the middle of an alleyway like this. Security is pretty tight due to the festival but there are still some less than respectable types roaming about..."
Snickering in response to his friend's words, the second of the two ruffians crouched down in front of Lily and added, "He's right, you know? How 'bout you come along with the two of us? We'll keep you safe, and, who knows? Maybe you'll feel so grateful you feel compelled to offer us a reward..."
Towards the end of his statement, the second man attempted to reach between the gap in Lily's thighs. As they got closer, both men were able to get a much better view of the contents of her skirt. Since she was so willfully displaying them, he figured he may as well sample the goods...
Without raising her head, Lily promptly squeezed the tiny crystal she had been holding in her left hand. Before the man's fingers could reach her, the space within the alleyway seemed to stagnate before an oppressive aura smashed both men into the ground. The one that tried to reach for her even had his hand and forearm crushed to a pulp as a far more handsome and reliable figure with aquamarine eyes and dark-brown hair manifested from within the void, asking, "Are you okay...?" in a far more concerned tone than either scoundrel could manage.
Springing to her feet, Lily practically leaped into Vahn's embrace before releasing the tears she had been holding back for the better part of twenty minutes. In response, he immediately wrapped his arms around her, one hand drawing her close while the other moved to caress her head.
Feeling a familiar warmth spread through her body, Lily preempted Vahn's attempt to ask about the situation, whimpering, "Please just hold me..." between silent sobs. This promptly quelled any desire Vahn had to press her for information. Instead, he hugged her closer before teleporting them to the suite he hadn't used since his first day in the Palace. Then, as Loi-chan carefully explained what had transpired, he did his best to console the crestfallen kitsune as a progressively conflicted expression developed across his face...
("Damnit, kid...how the hell did you mess things up this badly...?")
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Boya...','When brain very big but confidence super smol...','Vahn don't play...')