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Downtime - Ch. 2 (MHO) by Lloxie

Downtime - Ch. 2 (MHO)

Mystic Heart Odyssey

Part 7: Downtime

Chapter 2

Well how’s THAT for ‘perspective’? The boys get to walk around in each other’s fur, so to speak. But Kuna’s queasiness from the dietary implications is going to have to battle some butterflies for space in his tummy…

-Llox

___________________________________________________________________________________

“R… rack?” Lykou asked, confused.

Kuna just arched a brow and pointed towards the top of his head.

Lykou felt around on his head, once again being reminded of the strange growths that’d apparently grown in overnight. “...oh. Fuck. Wait-… oh, wow. Wow!” he blurted out as the situation finally settled on his mind. “…soooo… I’m a sereva and you’re a konuul now? What the fuck??” He furrowed his brow after a moment. “And I thought you called them, uh… ‘antlers’ or something?”

Kuna sighed and gestured at his friend’s new head feature again. “Yeah, but a full, mature set of them is also sometimes called a rack. Especially if they’re big. And uh…” he trailed off for a moment, staring at them thoughtfully for a moment. “...yours aren’t small.”

“Explains what I bumped earlier,” Lykou said, still running a hand over them in fascination. “Man, this is weird…”

“No kidding,” Kuna said, then glanced behind him with a slightly intrigued look. “...so this is how it feels to have a long tail, huh? One that’s not just magically-extended fur...” He grabbed it and examined it, then let go and gave it an experimental swish. After a moment, he grinned. “You know… I can’t explain it, but I kind of like it.”

Lykou blinked, then suddenly spun around, looking for his own tail. “Aw dammit! This is like Daisy’s tail-stealing bit all over again!” he said, pouting.

Kuna shot him a mildly amused, but otherwise flat look. “...you still have one, you know. Just because it’s not big and swishy doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

“Yeah, but it’s not the same,” the former-konuul playfully grumbled, crossing his arms in a huff.

The ex-sereva just shook his head with a smirk and sighed. “You’re a goofball in either species, you know.”

Lykou poked his tongue out at him, then looked his companion over. “...you don’t look half bad as a konuul, you know.”

Kuna blushed and folded his ears down. “Aw c’mon. Quit with the flattery.” Suddenly he became aware of something swishing around behind him. He jerked his head back and yelped. “Hey, what the fuck?!” he blurted out as he grabbed the appendage and tried to stop it.

“Hah! Told you they have a mind of their own,” Lykou teased. “Can’t hide it now.”

After managing to get his newfound tail under control, Kuna just grumbled briefly, then looked over sized up the new sereva. “...aaand you’re still ho-” he started to say, then quickly cleared his throat and blushed. “-pretty good looking as a sereva yourself.”

Lykou grinned impishly and strutted up to Kuna and placed his hands on his shoulders. “It’s okay, we both already admitted we genuinely find each other sexy, remember?” he said, then narrowed his eyes. “You know, come to think of it, I never did pay you back for that little moment under those falls…”

Kuna blushed brightly and folded his ears back again, with a flustered smile. “I- uh, y-you don’t have t-… um…”

Lykou giggled, then spun him around and wrapped his arms around him, hugging him tightly against his chest. “Just as fun to fluster as always. And it’s been a while, too. You’re overdue, mister adorable.”

Kuna rolled his eyes and let out an elongated half-groan, half-whine. “Mmnnh... Lykouuuu…. Is this really the time?”

“Your tail says you don’t mind as much as you claim,” Lykou pointed out. “I can feel it trying to jerk around.”

Again, Kuna let out another sound, this time somewhere between a whine and a squeal, as he brought his hands up to his face.

Lykou snickered a bit, then gave him a gentle squeeze before letting him go. “Okay, okay, I’ll back off,” he said. “Been too long since we had a peaceful moment to just goof around, though. Had to do at least a little teasing.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kuna said, rolling his eyes up as he struggled to get his tail under control. Yeahhh, ‘goofing around’… if only you knew what you were really doing to me, he thought. Mmnf, you damn stupid sexy, lovable brat, whatever species you are.

“Seriously though, this is gonna take some getting used to,” Lykou said as he started feeling his antlers again. “Wonder how the fuck this even happened.”

Kuna looked over and crossed his arms. “Isn’t it obvious?” he responded. “It’s that damn potion. ‘side effects’, remember? Something about ‘perspective’, I think she said? This would seem to fit.”

Lykou stared dumbfounded at him for a moment. “Ohhhh… that… kind of makes sense,” he said, then scratched his head. “But wait, we didn’t drink the last dose last night!”

“Yeah… that is a bit confusing,” Kuna conceded. “I guess even with just the two we had, it was enough. Maybe if we’re lucky, that means it won’t last as long as if we took all three…”

“Maybe,” Lykou said, then shrugged. “Honestly, as long as it wears off eventually, I don’t entirely mind it. Like she said, it does gives us a different perspective on things, in a way.”

“I guess… kind of awkward, though,” the new-konuul said, then poked around in his muzzle again with a finger for a moment. “I’ve got a brand new mouth to get used to. Biting my tongue or cheek by accident always sucks, but how do you live with these damn knives in your mouth??”

Lykou snickered a bit. “Oh come on, they’re not that sharp.”

Kuna arched a brow and couldn’t help but smirk a bit. “Poke around in yours and see what I have to compare it to.”

Lykou did as he suggested, finally leaving the antlers alone for a bit. After a moment, he withdrew his finger and made a mildly bemused expression. “...huh. How have I never noticed just how flat your teeth are before.”

“To be fair, inspecting other peoples’ teeth isn’t exactly a casual thing friends do,” Kuna said, then thought for a moment. “…er, right?”

Lykou smirked and shook his head. “No, good point. Just didn’t expect such that much difference.”

“Well, different diets and al-” Kuna started to respond, then his eyes widened as a disturbing realization dawned on him. “...oh. Oh no. Oh nonononono…. Oh FUCK!”

Somewhat bewildered, Lykou shrank back slightly from the sudden outburst. “What’s wr-” he started to ask, but then stopped as it finally occurred to him as well. “Ohhhh…. Riiiiight…”

“Uhh… I-I’m sure it’s fine. Hopefully it’ll wear off soon, right?” Kuna said with an anxious smile, visibly growing more distraught by the moment. “A-and it probably won’t hurt to just s-stick with my usual stuff. You did alright in Clovaria, r-right? I’ll just-”

“Ku,” Lykou responded with a flat look. “Really?”

“I’m not fucking eating flesh, dammit!” Kuna blurted out, then started pacing, clutching his head anxiously. “I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine. How long can it last, right? A day, maybe? Two? I can handle that.”

Growing increasingly concerned, Lykou carefully reached out and grabbed his friend’s shoulder to stop him. “Ku… calm down a little. Talk to me.”

“What’s to say?” Kuna said, crossing his arms with a forced grin, his eye twitching. “Just gotta wait it out, that’s all. Just a temporary side-effect. Nothing to worry about.”

“Yeahhh… hopefully a brief one,” Lykou slowly agreed, trying to calm his companion. “But if it takes more than a day or two, you’ll… have to eat some kind of meat or you’ll start to feel sick.”

“I can deal with sick!” Kuna replied with an almost manic tone. “Don’t you remember how you first found me? A weak, naked little bitch! I survived like that for… who-knows-how long! I was half dead sometimes but I did it! And hey, I was sick all the time as a kid! I can handle sick and weak! It’s my specialty!” he said, waving it off. Despite his efforts to brush it off, it was becoming increasingly apparent that he was barely holding off a little meltdown.

In addition to his concern, Lykou was starting to get a bit annoyed, as well. “Oh come on, Ku. It’s not like you’d have to hunt. I still have supplies left for the time being. Just have some of that once a day and you should be f-”

“NO!” Kuna blurted out, hyperventilating a little as he started to unravel. “I AM NOT EATING ANIMAL FLESH DAMMIT!”

Lykou shrank back, staring at him with a stunned expression. He tried responding a few times, but couldn’t come up with the words.

Suddenly feeling guilty, Kuna turned away, hugging himself and shivering slightly. “S… sorry, I… I just,” he mumbled, then paused to collect himself a little. After an uncomfortably long silence, he continued, albeit in a soft, reserved tone, “I… s-still struggle with the idea, Kou. It’s… n-not like it’s just a matter of taste, o-or whatever.”

Lykou arched a brow and slowly walked around to stand in front of him again, giving him a look. “...I thought you’d started getting used to it. You never bring it up-”

“Because I don’t want to hurt your feelings!” Kuna blurted out, then rubbed his arm, casting his eyes down. “The truth is… the idea s-still kind of fucks with me sometimes. S’why I still usually try and look away when you’re…. Y-you know… eating o-or…” he trailed off and paused, then shivered. “Preparing things.”

“Didn’t you literally feed me some fish after we escaped from Kairangi?” Lykou pointed out.

“Special circumstances!” Kuna retorted. “Y… you were really weak and I was really scared and worried about you…” He folded his ears down and grabbed his fluffy tail to fiddle with, as a distraction for himself. “I just… tried to force myself not to think about what it was.”

Lykou stared at him for a minute, then sighed. “You’re going to have to get used to it. If not now, for your own sake, then eventually, when you’re in Lakefire, around a lot more meat eaters.”

“...I know,” Kuna said weakly, as he bowed his head some and avoided meeting his eyes. “I… I-I’m trying. But it’s hard. I just…” he trailed off, then shivered and rubbed his face. “...I’m sorry Lykou. I’m being an asshole, I know.”

“...nah. Well… maybe. A little. But it’s understandable,” Lykou replied quietly after a minute, then pulled him into a gentle hug. “Honestly, if I hadn’t grown up eating meat, I can see how it might come across pretty disturbing. You know I’m not fond of all the other parts except the eating, right?”

“I know, I know,” Kuna replied, leaning into the embrace. He shivered again. “I… guess I was just trying to avoid thinking about it in general, but…”

“Shh, it’s alright Ku. I know,” Lykou assured him, then gave him a soft squeeze. “Hopefully this’ll be reversed before it becomes an issue.”

“I fucking hope so,” Kuna said, resting his head on the konuul-turned-sereva’s shoulder. “….sorry again for being an ass, Kou.”

“Don’t worry about it. Like I said, different life experience, different perspective,” Lykou replied, stroking his back softly. He then pulled back and held Kuna’s shoulders and looked him in the eye. “Just promise me you won’t let yourself get too sick out of stubbornness. Like I said, you’ll never have to hunt anything. Worst case scenario if we run out of what I’ve got in my bag before this gets fixed, I can still do that for you.”

Kuna held himself and averted his gaze, fidgeting anxiously. “...o...okay,” he replied quietly, though he was still clearly distraught.

Suddenly, Lykou blinked and smacked his forehead with his palm. “Wait. We’re idiots. You can just sprout up some charnops!”

Kuna thought for a moment, then closed his eyes and focused. His brows furrowed after a moment, then finally a green aura ignited around his hand, though it flickered slightly. “...maybe, but that felt a little harder than usual. And I’m not sure I’d get much more out of it than I put into it.” He shot the sereva a quizzical look. “And how long have you gone on just those anyway?”

Lykou thought for a moment, scratching his chin. “Well… there’ve been times we had to eat almost exclusively charnops for up to a week or two at a time, during particularly lean times for meat,” he said. “Everyone got sick of them by the end, but I guess not literally at least.”

“Well… that’s… good to know,” Kuna said. “S-so I guess as long as I’m not using up a whole lot of energy on other things during the day…”

“Like I said, just don’t let your stubbornness get in the way, alright?” Lykou said, rubbing his back again. “You’ve just more or less finished getting over that damn ghoul bite, after all. By the way, how’s your shoulder?”

Kuna rubbed his shoulder, then rolled it around experimentally. “...huh. Well, that’s one positive thing at least. Feels like it’s back to normal,” he said, then smirked faintly. “You know, minus the whole… being a different species thing.”

Lykou smiled and hugged him some more. “Well.... Guess I’ll have to get used to eating your stuff for the time being too,” he pointed out. “Unless… hey, actually, do you know if sereva actually can’t eat meat?”

Kuna blinked a few times, then shrugged. “I… can’t think of a situation where it’d ever come up. We’re not exactly built for being predators though, in case you hadn’t noticed,” he pointed out. “…even as… buff and… toned as you still are…”

Lykou narrowed his eyes and smirked, pulling the konuul close again. “And you’re still a cute little twink as a konuul.”

Kuna sputtered a bit and groaned. “Lykooou!” he complained playfully. And again, his newfound tail betrayed him.

“You know you love it,” Lykou taunted, then squeezed him some.

Kuna let out a little groan even as his tail continued swishing treacherously behind him. He couldn’t help but grin faintly as well. “Okay, enough with the ‘fluster Kuna’ game. We can’t just stand around here goofing around and having existential crises all day.”

Lykou chuckled. “Fair enough,” he said, then his smile faltered. “Uh, so… we should… probably get breakfast before we pack up...”

Kuna fidgeted uncomfortably, yet again hesitating to meet his gaze. “R...right…”

“Hey, like I said, as long as you don’t make yourself sick. You should be fine going two or three meals with your usual stuff,” the sereva pointed out, then lightly tussled the konuul’s hair. “I just want you to stay healthy, y’know?”

“I know, I know….” Kuna sighed heavily and leaned against him. “I’m sorry again, Kou…”

“And again,” the sereva replied. “Don’t worry about it.”

“I just want you to know I never meant to imply I was judging you,” Kuna interrupted, taking his friend’s hand in his own as he looked at him anxiously. “And I’d hate for it to come across that way…”

Lykou pulled him in close again. “Hey, how many times I gotta tell you not to worry about it?” he said with a soft smile. “It’s a weird, jarring situation. And for you in particular, it’s a pretty huge change, I know.”

Kuna pressed up into the embrace and buried his face into the sereva’s neck a bit. “Yeah well, I still feel like an ass, so sorry anyway,” he insisted.

“Tell you what. We’ll each stick to our usual diets until this evening and see how we feel,” Lykou suggested. “Alright?”

Kuna hesitantly nodded. “W-what if your usual makes you feel sick now, though?”

“We’ll just have to see,” Lykou said, leading the konuul back into their shelter so they could dig their food out of their bags.

“Seems like an unnecessary risk,” Kuna pointed out. “I have plenty to share, you know. And I was going to watch for more edible things while we hiked anyway.”

“Hypocrite much?” the sereva replied with a smirk. “What, you’re willing to risk getting sick, but I can’t?”

Kuna flopped down by his bag and frowned, stung by the comment. “Right, s-sorry…”

“...shit,” Lykou said, his smirk fading. He sat down next to his companion and dragged his own food bag into his lap. “I’m sorry, Ku. That came across more harsh than I meant.”

“You’re not wrong though,” Kuna said with a guilty expression as he stared down at his bag. “I am being hypocritical.” He opened the bag and stared into it for a moment, then glanced over at the one in Lykou’s lap, as a mental battle was fought in his head.

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Lykou said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Look, we’ll both be careful. Eat light, see how we feel before we head out, and just try to listen to what our bodies tell us as we go. If I start to feel queasy or something, I’ll grab, um,” he said, then paused to pull something out of Kuna’s bag. “...one of these orange things from the islands. I do remember they were pretty tasty on the inside, even as a konuul. Never did catch what they’re called though.”

Kuna thought for a moment, then just shrugged. “Same. Guess just call it an orange fruit,” he said, then rummaged around in his food bag for a minute before pulling out one of the few non-fruit things he had left in the bag, from just before their adventure in the islands.

“Kind of awkward,” Lykou said, looking it over. “Maybe just ‘orange’?”

“You can’t just go around calling things their color, Lykou,” Kuna pointed out, amused. “That’s silly.”

Lykou chuckled and stuck the orange back in the bag. “Yeah, I guess. We’ll have to come up with another name later,” he said, then dug around in his own bag and pulled out some of the salted fish. “Well, dig in, on uh… whatever that is. Surprised it’s still good. Isn’t that from Clovaria?”

Kuna shook his head. “Nah, found this one just a bit before the islands,” he said. “Some weird-looking kind of turnip, I think. They seem to last forever though, which is good. Already had a few, they’re tasty. Kind of need a break from all the super sweet fruit.” He then proceeded to chomp down into it. After chewing for a moment, he slowed to a stop, suddenly making a face. A moment later he swallowed, then stared at the rest. “...at least, it looks like it’s still good. But it tastes… all different, now.”

Lykou watched him with an amused expression, but it started to fade after a moment. “Wait… hang on,” he said, then bit into the fish. He almost immediately had to spit it out in the corner, gagging and retching, then looked, bewildered at the rest of the fish. “…well fuck. Different bodies, different tastes, I guess,” he pointed out, then sighed and dropped the snack. “Whether it makes me literally sick or not, sticking to the usual might just end up being too gross.”

“...fuck,” Kuna said weakly, staring anxiously down at the root vegetable in his hand. After a moment, he shot a nervous, hopeful smile to the sereva. “H-hey, at least we both liked the fruit before, right?”

“Yeah, at least there’s that,” Lykou replied, eyeing the turnip thoughtfully. “But hey, mind if I go ahead and try that? Might as well give it a taste if my usual isn’t going to work.”

Kuna arched a brow, then passed him the vegetable. “Uh, sure… you can just cut-”

Before the konuul could finish his sentence, Lykou nonchalantly took a big bite out of the turnip, partly overlapping where Kuna had bit into it. He immediately perked up and smirked. “Hey, that’s pretty good,” he said, then glanced over at his companion again. “I assume you don’t mind if I finish this, under the circumstances?”

“S-sure, that’s… that’s fine,” Kuna said, blushing faintly. Was that kind of like an indirect kiss, or am I just being weird? he pondered to himself. He then furrowed his brow. ...definitely just being weird. Get ahold of yourself, Kuna. We’ve drank out of the same water containers and shared fruit lots of times. W__hy should this be any different? Those weren’t indirect kisses. He continued watching Lykou as the sereva nonchalantly snacked away at the turnip. ...or were they? Fuck, why am I even thinking about this? ...who am I kidding, I know wh__y__. Fucking crush… I swea__r it’s getting worse! S__ettle down, he’s your friend. Don’t make things more awkward than they already are just because you really… really want to… gah!

Lykou finished the rest of the snack, then drank some water. Noticing his friend’s expression and the fact that he hadn’t moved or done anything for a minute or two, he shot him a concerned look. “Uh… you alright, Ku?”

“YES,” Kuna blurted out, quickly snapping himself out of it. “YesI’mfinehaha.” His blush immediately intensified and he hurried to take a big swig from his water jug to give himself a moment to recover and hopefully distract from his demeanor for a moment. He splashed some on his face in his rush, which he pointedly ignored.

Lykou arched a brow. “O...kay…?”

Kuna put the jug down and took a deep breath, then smiled awkwardly. “Sorry, just, uh… lost in thought about the um. Whole… situation,” he said, fidgeting a bit.

“Are you… gonna pick something else to eat?” Lykou asked, with a mixture of mild confusion and amusement. “Or did this… ruin your appetite?”

“R-right, no, I’ll… um,” Kuna began, then paused, eyeing the bag in Lykou’s lap, with the fish missing a single bitesized piece laying on top of it. He gulped as his mind and, to some extent, heart raced. Indirect kiss… he thought, then quickly shook his head to try and shake the intrusive thoughts away again. “W-well, m-m-might as well get it out of the way. Go ahead and hand me your mea-THE. The me-… that fish.”

“Really??” Lykou asked, bewildered. “Just a minute ago you were having a crisis over it, and just like that you changed your mind?”

Kuna looked away anxiously and took a deep breath, then nodded. “Y… yeah. I’m… gonna t-try,” he said quietly. “I… f-feel bad about the way I acted a-and… the whole hypocrisy thing.”

Lykou gently laid his hand on Kuna’s shoulder, inadvertently exacerbating Kuna’s secret unspoken issue. “Are you sure, Ku? I know it’s a big deal for you,” he said quietly. “You can probably wait until tomorrow and be alright, and by then maybe we’ll be… you know, back to normal.”

“...just… h-hand me the fish,” Kuna said nervously, his eyes flicking back and forth between Lykou and the ground. “I-if I can’t make myself do it now, I don’t know if I ever will.”

Lykou looked at him with a quizzical expression, but decided not to ask. Instead he picked up the fish to hand to him, but then he paused. “Hang on, I’ll get you another one, since I already-”

“N-no need!” Kuna quickly interrupted. “N-no need to um. W-waste that one. O-or another one if I can’t… y’know… s-stomach it.”

“...alright,” Lykou said, then handed him the bit-into fish with a dubious look. “Are you sure you’re okay, Ku?”

“Y-yeah, sorry,” Kuna said, taking the fish and rubbing the back of his head with a sheepish smile. “I… think this whole thing is just kinda, um. F-fucking with my head a lot.”

Lykou took a deep breath and nodded. “Yeah, it’s pretty weird alright. Go easy on yourself though, alright?”

Kuna nodded, then lifted the fish up in front of his face. But just as he started pushing himself to take a bite, he hesitated. He’d never really looked at the smoked, preserved fish Lykou had been eating up close before. And he realized he must have been mentally blocking certain things out about it. But seeing it right in front of his face, he couldn’t shake the fact that it still had eyes, and unlike the other chunks of meat Lykou ate before, it clearly looked like the animal it was. Were it not noticeably darkened from when it was originally cooked, and had a piece not already been carefully bitten out of its belly, leaving a few tiny little bones visible, he could imagine it swimming off if he tossed it into a stream.

The konuul made several more false starts, trying to bite into it before recoiling again a moment later. While his infatuation had temporarily conquered his other thoughts, his repulsion to the idea of what he was trying to do began making a comeback. Finally, he sighed and lowered the fish, then pulled his legs up, laid his arms across them, and rested his head on them, letting out a mild groan. “...dammit,” he mumbled quietly.

He suddenly felt a hand stroking his back, and then, a moment later, something round being pushed into his other hand. He looked up to see the sereva smiling at him, pushing the orange and his knife, carefully, into his grasp.

“Hey, proud of you for trying at least,” Lykou said. “Just eat this for now. Like I said, you should be good for at least a day if you have to. You can always try again later.”

Kuna smiled sheepishly and gratefully took the orange. “...thanks.”

*****

“I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry again. That light breakfast didn’t last long,” Lykou commented as he and Kuna hiked through the woods. Luckily, the walk had been uneventful. The area had some natural beauty, but was otherwise fairly unremarkable. “I assume you haven’t seen anything you’d ordinarily find appetizing?”

“Uh, n-nope,” Kuna replied, shaking himself out of some distracting thoughts. Truth be told, he’d only been half paying attention to their walk. He occasionally looked around for such things, but for the most part he had too much else on his mind. Between his unspoken feelings for the canid and everything involving the species swap thing, it was a miracle he could focus at all. “Now that you mention it though, I’m feeling the same. Hopefully the fruit I have left will be enough to last both of us another day or so at least…”

Lykou frowned. “We probably shouldn’t count on it, just to be on the safe side. Hope we spot more things I can eat soon,” he commented, then glanced up at the sky briefly. He then slowed to a stop, gesturing for Kuna to do the same. “On that note, let’s go ahead and take a quick snack break, since it’s pretty much noon anyway.”

“Sure,” Kuna said, pulling his food bag around to where he could dig through it as he and Lykou sat down on a fallen tree. He found a papaya and handed it to the konuul. Peering into the bag, he frowned and gulped. “...getting lower than I thought. Shit.”

“Well… hate to say it, but you might have to give the fish another try soon, then,” Lykou said, gently resting a hand on his shoulder. “Can’t have you getting sick, or either of us starving, for that matter.”

The konuul shot him a nervous, somewhat distressed look. “I know… I know, Kou. But I just… I can see its damn face still. I thought fish would be easier for some reason, since they’re so, I dunno… different. But if anything, seeing it look so recognizable makes it worse…”

“Oh… shit, I never even thought of that,” Lykou commented, then smiled apologetically. “Hey, I can cut the heads off if that helps. Not like I ever eat those bits anyway.”

Kuna visibly cringed and rubbed his head. “...maybe tonight, but… just putting it that way doesn’t exactly help, so maybe just don’t mention it,” he replied, then shivered. “S-still struggling with the idea o-of eating something that even has a head in the first place…”

The sereva thought for a moment, then smirked faintly. He couldn’t help himself. “Well, you know, a lot of fruit are kind of head-shaped. You could almost imagine the-”

“Kou!” Kuna snapped, glaring daggers at him. “Really??”

Lykou snickered a bit. “Alright alright, sorry. I had to,” he replied, then began cutting the papaya in half. “Here, let’s split this one for now and see how we do.”

Kuna grumbled, still shooting him a withering look for a brief moment. But then he sighed and shrugged. “Alright.” He couldn’t stay mad at the guy he was smitten over. The occasional teasing playfulness was one of the things he loved about him, after all. Even if he occasionally went overboard or failed to read the mood of the situation well. “No more comments like that though.”

“I know, I know,” Lykou said, then paused for a moment, grinning impishly. He leaned over and whispered into the konuul’s ear. “You’d rather I talk about long, hard carrots and what they resemble instead, huh?”

Kuna sputtered and attempted to smack him, but the sereva ducked out of the way just in time, giggling. “So help me, Lykou…!” he growled, blushing. Still, he couldn’t suppress a slight grin of his own. At least that comment, he figured, was a bit more like a return to normalcy. Grumbling a bit, he rolled his eyes and uncorked his water jug, then took a swig.

“Hey c’mon, things have been way too serious lately,” Lykou said as he settled down from his laughing fit. “We both need a good laugh.”

“I’m not laughing,” Kuna retorted, pouting at him.

“I saw that smirk,” the sereva pointed out, then set the papaya and knife down for a moment. He then suddenly grabbed Kuna and pulled him over into his lap, causing the konuul to yelp in surprise. “But anyway, I have… other methods~”

Kuna blushed brightly, his imagination running in several different, highly intriguing directions… before suddenly he was assaulted by a tickle attack and began squirming around in a fit of half-repressed, indignant giggles. “PffthahaLYKOU! HahaQUITIT!”

Lykou relented after a minute, just hugging him instead. “Told ya.”

The konuul pushed away with a huff, as his heart continued to race a bit. “You’re incorrigible.”

“And you’re adorable,” the sereva retorted, then went back to slicing up the papaya. “C’mon, don’t tell me you didn’t need that.”

Kuna glared at him playfully, though his tail’s eager swishing yet again betrayed his true feelings. “Yeah, okay, things have been way too serious,” he replied, then gestured at himself, then his companion. “They still are, too.” He then sighed and grinned. “But you have a point. It’s nice to have moments like this with you again.” He then narrowed his eyes and focused while the canid was distracted with the fruit.

“Exactly. The world owes us some downtime after everything it’s put us through, so-GAH!” Lykou said, then suddenly jumped up and away from the tree, where a vine had crept up on him and briefly invaded his personal space in a very noticeable way. “What th-” he said, then narrowed his eyes and looked over at Kuna, who was whistling with exaggerated nonchalance with one hand conveniently hidden behind him, out of view. “-Ku! Not with a damn knife in my hand!” he chided, though he grinned as he did so.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Kuna retorted with a faux-innocent look. “Anyway, it was practically buried in the fruit and I could always patch you up if you cut yourself. Could you please hurry and finish with that by the way? I’m hungry.”

“Oh you little brat,” Lykou said, then set the fruit and knife aside again before tackling the konuul to the ground, where they wrestled around playfully for a minute.

Even with swapped species, of course, Kuna was no match for the sereva’s muscles. But his giggles, squeals, and playful growls suggested he definitely didn’t mind. In fact, deep down, he had to struggle not to enjoy it a little too much.

Luckily, the sereva eventually relented and they both sat up, panting a little and occasionally chuckling. They were both slightly covered in various twigs, fallen leaves, and dirt from the forest floor. Lykou glanced over at Kuna with a playful look. “Look what you did. Now we both need a bath.”

“Typical. Always looking for an excuse to play around in the water,” Kuna retorted and gave him a light, playful little shove. “C’mon, seriously though, let’s eat. I’m even hungrier now.”

“Fair enough, me too,” Lykou agreed as he got up, then helped the konuul up as well.

Downtime - Ch. 2 (MHO)

Lloxie

You probably weren't expecting your serving of existential crisis with a big side of flirting and playfulness, but here we are!


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