Chapter 172: Reunion with Chloe

When Vahn opened his eyes in the real world, not much had changed, which made sense seeing how only a few seconds had passed. Tina was still cuddled up at his side in her light-blue nightgown and she looked like an adorable little cat-eared angel. Once again, Vahn leaned over and kissed her on the forehead as he began to get up from the bed and stretch.

Though Vahn didn’t normally use covers, Tina relied on them so they had both been underneath the heavy blankets. When Vahn sat up, the covers were pulled down and he could see Tina’s bottoms had been revealed because of her sleeping posture. Without any hesitation, Vahn used his hands and fixed her clothing before he shook her shoulder gently to awaken her.

After she had lost Vahn’s warmth, Tina had scrunched up into a smaller ball as Vahn kept gently shaking her shoulder and calling out to her. She didn’t seem to be willing to wake up easily, and Vahn was worried that they would be late for the morning training if she slept in for too long. He leaned over the pinch her ears which would have immediately awoken her, but before he completed the action he heard her mutter in a sleepy voice, “Papa…”

Vahn’s hand immediately froze as he looked down at the small girl curled up into a ball. He could see her brows were furrowed and there was a hint of tears emerging from her closed eyes. Vahn immediately felt a heartwrenching sadness emerge in his heart and he couldn’t help but furrow his brows as he saw her tears. Instead of pinching her ears, he moved his hand to the top of her head and began to channel [Hands of Nirvana] to drive away her sadness. Without making any efforts to awaken her forcefully, Vahn just continued to stroke Tina’s head to comfort her until she finally woke up nearly ten minutes later.

Tina felt a very warm sensation in her head and it felt like the bad dream she was having had been driven away by the calming energy. She opened her sleepy eyes and saw the face of Vahn looking at her with an especially gentle look on his face. Tina realized that Vahn had noticed she was having a bad dream, and now he was gently stroking her head and ears to help her feel better. Instead of just her head, she felt a warmth start to build up in her heart as she enjoyed his affection in silence for a few minutes.

Now that she had been awake for a little while, Vahn noticed that Tina’s sleepy expression had faded and she was probably fully awake now. He removed his hand from her head and said, “It’s time for us to get up, Tina. We don’t want to keep the others waiting…” As his words finished, Vahn moved out from the bed and began to change his clothes while leaving the small cat girl laying in a daze. Tina continued to watch his back for a few seconds before crawling out of the bed herself. She trotted over to the secretary Vahn had bought for her and grabbed some fresh clothing and began to get changed without saying anything. Though Vahn could see her out of the corner of his eye, he repositioned his body a little bit away from her’s as he continued to dress.

After they were both ready, they exited the room and met Anubis who had been waiting patiently. Vahn gave her a light pat on the head for a few seconds before the entire group made their way to the training grounds. The other seven children were already waiting, and Vahn apologized for being a few minutes late as they began their routine. As Tina also wanted to get stronger, she joined the other seven and was personally attended by Nanu. Vahn was a bit surprised with how deferential Nanu was toward Tina, and he realized that she had skipped to a high level in the hierarchy of the group overnight.

The other children also treated Tina well, and the entire group quickly began to get along with each other. Even though they had inhibitions, Tina never shied away from interacting with everyone and seemed to pay no attention to the ‘hierarchy’ of the group at all. Both Vahn and Anubis found this to be ideal since it was slowly breaking the constraints that would prevent the hounds from becoming functional adults in the future. It also removed a heavy burden from Vahn’s shoulders, since it would make the children less reliant on him.

After the training came to an end, the entire group enjoyed a hearty breakfast before Anubis, accompanied by Tina, took the other six children into her room to continue their studies. From now on, the kids would receive education from not only Anubis but Tina as well. Since she had a very high amount of self-awareness due to her prior job working at the Inn, Tina was very suited for teaching the children how to think and act around other people. She was able to convey her experiences to them and even educate them on things they needed to be considerate of in the future.

The only person who didn’t participate was Nanu, since she was considered Vahn’s ‘apprentice’ and was actively learning blacksmithing skills from him. Since he spent so much time forging in the orb, Vahn used the first half of the day guiding Nanu so she could improve. Ever since receiving the buff from [Prometheus], she had received a significant boost to her [Blacksmith] skill, and now Vahn was helping her polish it further. She seemed very pleased by the change as her tail was constantly wagging about as Vahn carefully explained the methods to refine different metals and drop items.

When the time came for them to normally eat lunch, Vahn told Nanu that he would be leaving during the afternoons from now on. He gave her the option of continuing in the workshop, but he also encouraged her to interact with the other children and Tina. Even if she planned to follow him for the rest of her life, Vahn wanted her to receive an education and interact with other people normally. He hoped that, in time, she might not feel so bound by her culture to the point where she might take her life if anything happened to him.

After informing Anubis and Tina about his decision to visit the Hostess of Fertility for lunch before traveling around the City, the two both gave their consent. Vahn had expected Tina to try and accompany him, but she informed him that it was her duty to prevent anything from happening while he was at home. Everyone had agreed to let him take action on his own and hoped that he had enough self-restraint to prevent from acting out in public. She did, however, inform Vahn that she expected him to explain if anything happened when he returned.

After the short lecture, Vahn left his house slightly after 1 PM and arrived outside the Hostess of Fertility shortly after 2 PM. He hadn’t walked slowly, but he also didn’t rush as he wanted to see how long it would take to walk the distance at an ‘average’ pace. Vahn was satisfied with the time it took and entered the familiar building with a casual smile on his face. He was hoping to see Chloe and, shortly after entering, saw the lively cat girl tending to other customers.

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Mama Mia saw his entrance and, since nobody had greeted him yet, shouted toward Chloe, “Oi, Chloe, your boyfriend is here!” She had a big smile on her face as her loud voice startled the busy cat girl. However, after she gathered her senses, she looked toward the door where Vahn had just entered and walked away from the customer she had been dealing with before they even finished their order. The man seemed to be offended by her actions and tried to call out to her, but the moment he stood up and reached out his hand, a tray smacked into it as Ryuu stepped forward and took Chloe’s place in taking his order. Though he wanted to say something, the cold look in Ryuu’s eyes made the man sit back down before he placed his order in a low voice.

Since Vahn had been looking in that direction, he saw both Chloe’s and Ryuu’s actions and felt an urge to laugh, but instead, he just smiled a bit wider as Chloe stopped right in front of him before leaning forward with a cheerful smile and asking, “Here alone today~?” Vahn nodded his head in response, and the instant he did, Chloe grabbed his hand and started pulling him toward one of the private rooms reserved for VIP customers.

Her actions caught the eyes of several people, including three other women as the duo disappeared into the side room. The moment they entered, Chloe turned around and began inspecting Vahn’s body without saying anything. Since he already had an immunity to her touch, Vahn allowed her to feel his body for a few seconds when she suddenly said, “You got a lot bigger since we first met. It’s a little unfortunate, nyahaha~”

Vahn smiled at her actions and reached out his hands before grabbing her around the waist and pulling her close as he said, “I can’t stay a kid forever…there are too many people that rely on me. I really have tried to become strong, Chloe…” The moment Vahn grabbed around her waist, Chloe’s tail began to twitch up and down as she looked into his eyes as if she was trying to understand something.

After a few seconds of silence, she squinted her eyes a bit as she asked, “What do you want to do in the future, Vahn?” Now that Vahn was a few centimeters taller than her, she had to look up slightly as she asked the question. Vahn tilted his head a bit as he kept eye contact with her and pondered his answer. Images of all the things he had experienced in the past flashed through his eyes and Vahn wondered how to best answer her question. After a while, he smiled a bit wider as he said, “I want to be happy…” As he said the words, he held her body a little tighter and her tail began to flicker slightly faster as she read his expression.

She asked him in a small voice, “What would make you happy…Vahn?” Vahn pondered her words again, but this time for only a few seconds as he responded honestly, “I’m not entirely sure, Chloe…but, I know it makes me happy to see the people around me happy. I want to build an environment to protect that happiness. I want to keep becoming stronger and stronger…strong enough that, even if I have to bear the burdens of others, they would never trouble me.”

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In response to his words, Chloe released a sigh and laughed silently for a few seconds. She hung her head a bit and smelled from his collarbone all the way to his ear before she licked his cheek with her rough tongue. Vahn felt his heart itch a bit because of her actions and he put even more strength into his embrace. She squirmed a bit and used her palms to create a barricade between their bodies as she said in a mewling voice, “You’re a bit too bold now…I can kind of understand why Eina and Hephaestus took the actions they did. Though I still resent some of the other girls around you, I won’t complain as long as you are happy…”

Vahn loosened his grip a little and she released a small sigh before trying to continue her words. However, before she could do so, Vahn leaned in and gave her a short-lived kiss on her slightly open lips. His actions stunned her and, before she could process a response, Vahn once again took action as he whispered to her, “I owed you that one from our last date.” The moment Chloe opened her mouth to respond, Vahn got the jump on her a third time as he kissed her lips, this time with depth and passion.

Chloe writhed in his arms, but she couldn’t free herself from his embrace as both her ears and tail began to twitch. Vahn continued to kiss her for nearly twenty seconds before he finally released her. This time, she learned her lesson and freed herself from his grasp before she asked in a slightly flustered yet curious tone, “And what was that for~nya?” In response to her inquiry, Vahn smiled widely and said, “Because, I have liked you for a long time, Chloe. Even now, though I feel grateful for everything you did for me, I still feel a bit of regret at never having confessed to you at that time.”

Seeing the affectionate and honest expression on Vahn’s face, Chloe knew he was speaking from the heart. Though she wanted to act as the anchor that brought him back to the real world, Chloe never considered that he would ultimately find his way back to her in this fashion. Though she had a moderate amount of expectations and even wanted to be attended to and spoiled by him if he became more reliable, she still felt a bit guilty after everything that happened. If it had been another year or two in the future, she would likely not have these inhibitions…

Vahn saw the look in her eyes and the fluctuations of her aura and understood that she was somewhat confused. To ease her thoughts, he smiled and spoke in a gentle voice, “Even if you don’t want to answer my affections, that is okay. I just wanted you to know how I felt and, if the opportunity presents itself in the future, I would like us to go on a date again. If not, I’m perfectly happy just being friends and interacting with you as we did in the past.”

Chloe had been listening to his words as he spoke, and she couldn’t help but release a slightly frustrated sigh. In the short time they hadn’t met, Vahn had become a lot more ‘manly’ in both a good and a bad way. She missed his frail figure and handsome face with a melancholic expression, but the new, more confident, Vahn was also quite nice. He still had a boyish face, even though he was very handsome and, even though he was maturing quickly, he still had the characteristics of a young boy which made her heart itch. Now that he was approaching her, she had very little resistance against his advances.

After a bit of hesitation, she looked into his eyes with an uncharacteristically serious look on her face as she said, “I will go on a date with you…but, if you ever want to have sex with me…I will say yes. However, if we do have sex, I’ll never go on a date with you again. I don’t want to become an outlet for your lust in the future…okay?” This was the reason Chloe had avoided allowing him to confess on their first date. If she had accepted his feelings at the time, she was afraid that Vahn would devote himself to her and never move forward. Now that he had finally found his path, she didn’t want to be one of the things that prevented him from reaching his full potential.

In response to her words, Vahn just continued to smile and said, “Thank you, Chloe.” He knew she was also part of the meeting between the other girls, and this was probably her way of keeping him in check. Though Vahn did enjoy having sex with Tiona and Ais, everything happening around him made him aware that it was a very dangerous thing to become addicted to that type of interaction. Since Vahn knew he would one day have sex again, he wasn’t in a hurry to seek it from everyone around him. Just spending time with the people he liked and interacting with them was enough to make him happy.

After this short interaction, Chloe took Vahn’s order and the two made casual conversation for nearly an hour as they enjoyed each others company. Since Vahn was using a private booth, Chloe had only him as her customer, for the time being, so he left a massive tip as compensation and to thank Mama Mia for allowing their selfishness. Before leaving the private booth, Vahn once again embraced Chloe and did something that he knew was almost a ‘taboo’ for cat people. Reaching his hand down to the small of her back, he gently grabbed her tail and ran it through his fingers once from end to end. His actions sent a shiver up Chloe’s back and she actually bit the fabric of his tunic to prevent herself from crying out. She looked at him with a slightly enamored expression as she said, “You’ll have to take responsibility…”

Finally escaping from her a few minutes later, Vahn left the Hostess of Fertility in high spirits. Confessing to Chloe had been something he wanted to do for a long time, and now that he had done so, it felt like a huge burden had been lifted off his body. Vahn felt light on his feet and happily made his way back toward his home.

When he had left, Vahn had been unaware that there were several gazes that had followed his exit. Chloe had seen him off with a smile, but she wasn’t the only one to do so as both Ryuu and Syr had been paying attention to their interaction. The moment he had left, Syr closed the gap and asked Chloe with a cheerful and inquisitive tone, “I’m curious what the two of you were talking about in the private booth for so long.”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Pet the Kitty’,’Proactive Vahn’,’144 Chapters Later~’)

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