Elila prepared her stomach and her jaws to scarf down what would be her second burger of the night. The hungry ex-princess was feeling particularly ravenous tonight for some reason, but instead of questioning it, Elila intended to let it drive her. Suddenly, she heard the bar door fling wide open, that familiar 'DING DING DING' of the bell echoing throughout the room.
Elila turned her head. Not often did she let her attention be pulled away from her meal, but somehow, by some unknown means, she felt like this was something that she needed to see. This new customer was worth taking a glance at least.
The person who entered the bar was actually a species from her home-world, and it was one that Elila had not seen in quite a long time. This woman had a pair of fluffy, twitchy ears that peeked out over the top of her scarlet-haired head. Her cherubic face bore a prominent grimace, but the overall cuteness of such chubby cheeks, complete with freckles on top, somewhat dampened the intensity she was probably going for. A bushy red tail with a white tip dangled down her backside and towards the floor. This feline femme was as hefty in appearance as Elila was, wielding a big ball of a belly set between two globular breasts and carried on a pair of meaty legs. Just like so many others who had immigrated here, this lass had been eating very well.
Elila blinked. The ears and the tail gave it away, plain as day. This girl was a Feraten, one of the Catfolk. Another give-away was by how incredibly massive she was in number of feet when compared to the other patrons. Feraten were well-known for their great heights and lanky figures. This one stood over 8 feet tall, if Elila guessed correctly. For her to be so round, she must weighed a great, great, GREAT deal. That white dress she wore was creaking noisily over the stomach it was trying to cover up. If she made one too many sudden moves, there was an actual chance that the Feraten could burst right out of her clothes in front of everyone.
Elila didn't know any Feraten back home but she'd read plenty about them. Nowadays they were only referred to as 'Catfolk', particularly by the humans. Even though the harpies weren't very populous in the human world, the Catfolk were even less so. The incident that caused the Catfolk to disregard humankind had been an unfortunate one. The adult daughter of a highly-regarded official within their tribe had almost been molested after being tricked by a human with dubious intentions. The assailant had taken advantage of the Feraten's lack of understanding about human culture so that he could try to use her for 'projects'. She'd been saved only because a few good Samaritans saw her previously and reported it to the authorities.
The uproar that followed had been serious one. So serious that it almost sparked a violent retaliation. Not even the arrest of the harasser helped mitigate the tensions. Needless to say, it was a great loss when the Catfolk retracted making further negotiations with humankind, but it wasn't something that could be changed. The Catfolk did not forget. Ever.
Most of those who still wished to mingle with humans anyway chose to live abroad. Not that they were unwelcome in America, of course, but it still wasn't so easy to find a cat woman on the streets of Brooklyn as it was to find an elf, harpy or lamia. Catfolk were a rarity and that made them something that drew the attention of a crowd. They weren't any more special than an elf with pointed ears or an orc with green skin, but many humans still didn't know Catfolk and what they were all about. This red-head had probably made many heads turn when she waddled past them on the streets.
'Wow. So that's a Feraten. I wonder why she's here?' Elila pondered to herself, absentmindedly taking a bite from her burger.
Hamuta Laruta offered a wry smile at the fat cat approaching her bar counter. She wanted to behave without bias, for the sake of keeping up her professional stance as a bartender. The Dark Elf made sure to keep her biggest possible grin plastered on her face, the kind that made her cheeks hurt otherwise. She stared deeply into the cat woman's emerald eyes. Then she looked down. The Feraten had some very sharp claws on those plump fingers of hers. They could probably tear through flesh with ease. Hamuta didn't let her smile waver. She had never met a Feraten face to face, but she had heard stories, different ones than what Elila had been told. A long, long time ago, during some sort of war between the Dark Elves and the Feraten, a single squad of the Catfolk had wiped out a battalion of Dark Elves. In some ways, their two species were old enemies.
"Is there anything that I could get for you today, ma'am?" Hamuta asked her.
The red cat woman's tail impatiently flicked back and forth behind her giant rump. Said giant rump flowed over the tops of the stool she sat on. It almost looked like she was sitting right on top of the pole itself, or maybe floating in mid-air. She didn't seem very interested in responding to Hamuta's question. She mumbled something under her breath.
"What was that?"
"I...I don't want to order ANYTHING..." the Feraten made her statement, clearly and loudly. She flashed a glare back at Hamuta to cap it off. The Dark Elf instinctively took a step back. She didn't want to be on the receiving end of a Feraten's claws. They could tear someone as soft and supple as herself into shreds. Tenyen had given her a small device that could call in for outside help if any of the customers started to get rowdy. Hamuta kept it hidden inside her chest, like most important objects of hers. However, she didn't want to use it if she could avoid doing so. Clearly there was something upsetting the Feraten. Showing politeness and expressing understanding would be far better for her to do.
"You aren't going to order? Or are you just not sure yet? Do you want a menu?"
"I..." The cat started, only to release a frustrated sigh. She placed a cheek on her fist and glanced up towards the ceiling. "I don't have any money on me."
"I said I don't have any money! Did you not hear me?" The cat hissed.
Her big stomach was raised and then dropped down hard onto the counter. The whole thing shuddered, and Hamuta was worried that the counter itself could end up breaking apart. It wasn't likely to happen, but the threat was still there. The stool that the Feraten was sitting on would likely have to be replaced by tomorrow morning, though. That thing was going to get snapped in half underneath her bubble bum.
"I'm sorry! I am sorry to hear that you don't have any money! Then what brought you here? Are you waiting for someone?"
"...I'm not..." The cat sighed again.
Hamuta shook her head. "I'm failing to understand what it is you want. Ma'am, if you could please explain-"
"Gosh, must you ask me so many questions? I am not here to tell you my personal life, woman! Please, leave me be! I only wish to brood!" The cat woman flashed those sharpened fangs of hers. They were as deadly as her claws, most likely. She probably wasn't trying to be threatening, but being a Feraten by itself was a pretty big threat.
Hamuta took a few deep breaths. It was no longer a time to cower. She had to stand her ground as a bartender, but do so in a manner that could be still seen as polite enough. "If you are not going to order or have an intention to order, and there is no one you are waiting for, then I need you to tell me why it is that you are here. I'm very sorry, ma'am, but we don't have the available space to allow people to simply stand around and wait. This isn't just an establishment, it's a business."
"You're seriously not going to let up, are you?"
Suddenly, interjecting herself into the conversation was the ex-princess herself, Elila. Normally she liked to take her time with her meals, but for the sake of helping out this cat woman, she had scarfed down her gigantic burger in a few quick bites. It was disappointing that she had to miss out on getting to savor the flavor properly. She hoped that this would be all worth it. She waddled up behind the cat and teasingly knocked her belly into her back. She thought it would be a funny way of acquiring her attention. It only seemed to incite ire, however.
"What is it you could possibly want?" The Feraten whined.
"Um, I'm sorry, but I noticed that you were having trouble so I thought I could step in! If you don't have any money, I'd be happy to buy a meal for you! After all, I think it's very important we all focus on helping out one another more than anything else while we're all living in this world! Y-You know, if that's alright with you."
"Elila..." Hamuta had to admit, Elila was far too good for this world, or their old world, or any world for that matter. She was a princess through and through.
As it so happened, even this particularly overfed member of the Catfolk seemed to be offended by this for some reason. "I-I appreciate the concern, I really do, but I do not desire YOU to help ME! I can easily take care of myself! I did not introduce myself before, but now I will! My name is Sarah! I am not simply another member of my kind! My father is...mmph...my father's..." Sarah took a heavy pause, lowering her head slightly into her double-chin. "He's...a very wealthy man...and he has a prominent status within my peoples' community...and so that means that I'm not someone you can get to show so much pity like any commoner! So, so, so stop it already!"
"Huh? Sarah? There's no last name? Not exactly anything to go by." Hamuta rubbed the back of her head.
Elila shook her head. Sarah's name did not mean anything here. Catfolk tended to have only one name and no last name. It was in complete contrast to the Dark Elves, who put names in such high regard that they would give their people seven of them when born. Sarah's name might have meant something among the other Feraten, but it was totally useless to any other species she spoke with. Of course, she was so flustered and so stubborn that she probably did not realize that.
"Sorry, I didn't know, um, Sarah." Elila tried her best to be civil in response.
The fat cat grabbed hold of the creaking counter as a means to support herself while she stood up. She was so tall that her stomach alone could cast a thick shadow over Elila's entire body. She was stupendously large for someone of her height, which really meant a lot for how much she must have weighed. Hamuta stiffened in place, freezing up on the spot. Elila, however, did her best to remain as calm as she had ever been. Sarah opened her mouth to protest once again, but she was soon shot down. Not by the elf but by her own stomach's rumbling.
Sarah could spend all night denying it, but her hunger was something that her belly wasn't afraid to admit. Her stomach and her brain were operating on different wavelengths.
"V-Very well. Since you are offering, I suppose I have no choice but to concede. It would be rather rude of me to turn down such a generous gift, would it not?"
"Huh...well, I guess, if you were really so starving, I could have probably spared you some bread and soup or something..." Hamuta admitted with a sheepish grin.
"What? Are you serious?" Sarah balked.
Elila was actually rather happy to get to help out this young woman, because she was very interested in getting to know her better. It gave her something of an excuse to order an extra meal for herself too. The sandwich that was thrown together for the Feraten was a hot fish filet sandwich with a great helping of fries on the side. Sarah looked down at the meal with raised eyebrows. She wanted to take a bite, of course, but she found herself taking a great hesitation, if only because she didn't know if it was truly okay for her to eat it or not. Eventually, she took to eating it, and what she discovered was a level of flavor unlike anything she had eaten from her family's personal chef before. The flavor was really THERE this time around. The food she ate back home had been exceptionally filling, but this had something extra to it, something that was small yet also very profound, that made the recipe that much better. She downed the whole sandwich within seconds.
"Heh, how was that one? Did you like the meal?" Elila smiled back at her.
Sarah smacked her lips a few times, her tail swaying back and forth behind her. She ran her tongue all over the place to try and catch any crumbs that still clung on her cheeks or the outside of her mouth. A few happy mewls escaped. Elila thought it was quite cute, but the dark elf didn't have the necessary patience. Certainly not after that scare that Sarah had unintentionally given her.
"You can thank her, you know." Hamuta pointed out as she moved the plates away.
"...The gesture you made was very adequate." Sarah tilted her head slightly, just before she started to blink very slowly. Words were fine enough but Catfolk were able to express gratitude through action too, a slow blink being a simple sign of affection. It was another trait they unexpectedly shared in common with human world felines.
"Aw, you're welcome!" Elila recognized that slow blink from her own pet cats. It made her heart get all aflutter to know that she was still able to help someone, even if she was no longer in a position of power like before. "So tell me about yourself, Sarah!"
"Eh? About me?" Sarah's big butt twitched, or maybe it was just her furry tail that did it.
"Yeah, you seem to be in a spot of trouble. Most people don't go walking around here without some cash on them! You look like you've been walking out in the rain recently too. Your dress is soaked!"
"Ugh! D-Don't make such assumptions like that! But, yes, you are right." Sarah shook her head. She was getting more and more agreeable with every second, or so it seemed. Yet her hesitation was what made the other two women all the more curious. There was a lot that Sarah could have said about her situation and the circumstances that had led up to it. Her father was really the one at fault behind everything. That man was the bane of her existence. It didn't matter if he'd been responsible FOR her existence. That was then, and this is now. She didn't want to have to see that man again for as long as she lived. She didn't even want to talk about him. She remained quiet on the matter for a few more moments before her tummy suddenly gurgled again. Yes, a perfect distraction to avoid the topic.
"Do you have anything else I can eat? What about desserts? I want something sweet!"
Hamuta sighed again. She looked over to Elila, the one who would be expected to continue footing the bill. "What do you think, Princess?"
"Princess? Why are you not addressing ME that way?" Sarah whined, but the Dark Elf chose to ignore her.
Elila laughed it off. There was nothing to think over at all. Dessert was pretty much essential after dinner, she had come to learn that much thanks to human beings. She took out her wallet, which was flattened down inside of her stretched pocket. It made Sarah actually wince to see that thing in the elf's pudgy hands. Just because she was her father's daughter didn't mean that she was looking for free handouts or for everything to be given to her on a silver platter. The guilt settled in knowing that this person was trying to pay for her when she was under no expectation to do so. Seriously, generosity can only go so far.
"Honestly, you don't need to keep spending money on me! I am not a child!" Sarah made sure that she sounded insistent.
"But you don't have anything on you, right?"
"E-Even so! I don't need to be babied like this! I can..." Sarah's stomach grumbled. "I can...!" Her stomach grumbled again. "I want to say that I can get by without it, but my stomach refuses to agree with me..."
"You just said you wanted something sweet! And so do I! So let's do this!"
"I simply don't understand you. You're too nice. Do you expect something from me?"
Elila's head shake was her form of affirmation that, no, she did not expect anything in return for these good deeds. Sarah was still unconvinced anyway.
"You're so very strange, you know that? And you're large! You're as large as I am!"
"Funny how so many of us ended up big when we began living here, don't you agree?" Elila found it rather amusing indeed.
Hamuta returned to the counter. At some point she had walked away while the two of them had been chatting. She dropped a pair of banana split sundaes in front of them.
"I owe Princess Elila a whole lot, we all do, and I think I can afford to give her a free meal or two now and then. I talked to the boss and she said it was okay, that this one can be on the house."
Sarah couldn't do anything but be eternally grateful. She bowed her head before both of the elves at the same time. "Er...thanks a lot, I suppose..."
Elila smiled warmly at the dark elf. "Thanks, Hamuta."
"I'm really glad you turned out to be the grateful sort, Sarah! I was afraid you'd be a pretty spoiled brat!" saying such a thing to Sarah's face might not have seemed wise, but Hamuta was really beginning to enjoy herself here with the two of them.
Elila and Sarah dug into their sundaes. They were the kind that had all of the fixings imaginable, along with more sprinkles than anyone could be bothered to count. Elila started off at one end of the first banana and began to steadily make her way to the other side. It seemed like she was eating fast, but she wasn't able to come close to meeting Sarah's speed. Elila had barely gotten through half of her meal before it turned out that Sarah was already done. The big cat dropped her spoon onto the table and belched long and hard. Some ice cream managed to splatter onto her cheeks, but it didn't perturb her none. Just like the taut fatty that she was, Sarah started to rub her stomach all over. Her claws dug at the fabric of her white dress, but it never managed to tear anything. Sarah burped again. Then she frowned to herself.
"Why do you still look so unhappy? You're still thinking about something, aren't you?" Elila slurped up some of the melted ice cream on her spoon.
Sarah opened her mouth, then shut it, and then opened it again. She was gaping like a fish that had been yanked right out of the water. Obviously, though, she couldn't stay silent for very much longer. She had to either explain what was going on or she had to come up with some sort of passable excuse. But an excuse would get her nowhere. It would basically be the very same as running around in circles. She didn't want to run in circles, not anymore. She had done more than enough of that.
Sarah reached out and took her cup off of the counter. She downed its contents in one, two, three gulps. Both Hamuta and Elila watched her. They kept silent, as they did not want to pressure her any further into speaking. The Feraten sure did what she could to drag it out, though. She kept tugging on her hair and her dress, rubbing her stomach and burping, until she settled down on what she would do. Getting this off of her chest would surely do her more good than bad, she reasoned with herself, now that she was able to think more clearly.
Sarah took a deep breath.
"Okay...fine...I didn't want to say this, but, um, I ran away from home! I didn't take any money with me. I was pissed off with my father and I didn't want to stay there for a second longer! It was...erm...a rather intense disagreement that we shared."
"An intense disagreement, huh?" Hamuta crossed her arms over the counter. Her breasts, large as they were, spilled forward on top of them and covered them completely. Sarah tried not to let her eyes wander over to them. Elila attempted to do the same. It wasn't very easy.
"I had fallen in love with a man. That was why he was upset with me. I fell in love with someone who wasn't on the same level of status as the rest of my family. He was basically what you might call a 'commoner'. My father didn't want me to marry any 'normal' person, he wanted me to marry the son of his wealthy friend! Think of that! He wanted to decide who I should be married to! That's such an old custom in our culture that all of the other Feraten laugh at it nowadays! Ugh! I was so angry, I really wanted to try to slash his face off!"
Sarah produced one of the claws she had concealed inside of her fingertips. Seeing it reminded Elila of a movie about dinosaurs she had watched a few days ago. It was very 'velociraptor-esque', as one way to describe it.
"Geez...Catfolk really are something else..."
"Anyway, I thought I would be able to convince him to settle down and accept me and my lover. He's my dad, so I thought he'd care about me enough to want to make me happy. But he didn't! He didn't listen at all! And it probably didn't help that my man was a human being, because, you know, most Feraten still hate humans after what happened. He actually told me he would disown me if I continued to defy him. Of course, I wasn't going to give up! I mean, you can't just give up on love, you know? So I came over here to come and live with my man. Except, well, I didn't have a phone to use because my father cut off the service. I couldn't get into contact with him. I tried to do what I could to find his place, but no one I spoke to knew who I was talking about. I haven't found a single lead this entire time."
"You poor thing," Hamuta shook her head and sighed.
"How long has it been since you came into town?" inquired Elila.
Sarah coughed into her fist, looking away as she recounted, "It's been about, um, about three days or so? I've been wandering from place to place. Last night I slept at a shelter meant for the homeless. It was really scary. I've been starving for a while now. Damn it, I'm so sorry for having acted rude to you two before! I seriously need all of the help I can get!"
"Hold on, three days? You couldn't find anything about him for three days? You've been wandering the streets without a proper place to stay for THREE DAYS?" Hamuta was incredulous and she refused to not be over such information.
"I was able to take care of myself!" Sarah insisted. "W-Well, except when it came to food. I only got to eat a few times since I've come here! None of it was even a real meal until the one I had tonight!"
"You're really tenacious, you know that?"
Elila took Sarah's hands into her own. "If you want, we can help you find that boyfriend of yours! You two deserve to be together!"
"I tried to find him! I really did! Without a phone, though, what am I supposed to do? I can't call him or text him! I can't even look him up on the Internet! Ugh! This is so awful! If I had to go back to my dad and beg for him to take me back, he probably would, but he'd never let me do a single thing on my own ever again! I have no idea what to do! I...I...argh!" Sarah swung her hand down onto the counter and struck it hard. She forgot to retract her claw, so it left a deep gash into the wound. Sarah gasped, as did Elila. Hamuta quietly slipped a coaster over the hole. Tenyen would find out about it eventually, but not tonight.
"I'm sure you'll figure out something. He must be looking for you too! I bet he's worried sick!"
"Yes. You're right. He must be worried sick about me. Oh God, my poor baby!"
"It doesn't seem like you had this planned out very well," Hamuta pointed out. "You rebelled against your father's attempts to control you, and that's all well and good, but now you don't have any way to take care of yourself or even find the lover you ran away from your family for in the first place!"
"I should have given him some kind of plan on how to meet me!"
"What about his number? Do you know it? You can try and call him right now." Hamuta slipped a hand in between her beasts and retrieved her cellphone.
"But I..." Sarah started to sniffle, and before long her eyes were already so wide and wet with tears. "I don't even remember the number! I can't remember it at all!"
"...I suppose that's what happens when you're accustomed to always having it available right away..." Elila frowned.
Suddenly, before any further conversation could be made between the three, the bar's door swung wide open. The male orc who swaggered in was already drunk. That much could be determined from the way in which he walked with such an unsteady gait. He scanned the entire room. Slowly but surely, he was in search of a target. He stopped when he saw the three chubby young women at the counter.
Hamuta knew that she had to dispose of him from the premises immediately. She opened her mouth to begin to tell him to turn his green butt around, but the man spontaneously moved quicker than anyone expected. Instead of reacting to Hamuta, however, he thrust out a finger directly into the pudgy face of Elila of all elves. He glared at her through the drunken glaze that coated his eyeballs. Elila was quite famous after her tenure as the president's wife, so she was more recognizable than most on the street. But this man didn't seem happy about her presence in the slightest. When he opened his mouth, the stench of beer was so prevalent on his breath that it made Elila's eyes start to water.
"You! Hey, you! I know you! I've seen you before! You know who you are?"
"W-What?" Elila didn't know what to do. She was not the confrontational type, not by any means.
"I'll tell you exactly what you are! You're the one who brought this whole country down, you know that? You and that stupid asshole of a president! It's because of you that we don't got enough jobs these days! You made humans hate us! They can't even stand to look at us because of you two! Don't you get what that means? You...you dummy! You stupid, ugly, dummy bitch!"
"What do you mean? I had nothing to do with his decisions! And my ex-husband is no longer in office!" Elila tried to explain herself, but for someone as angry and inebriated as this, it was all just wasted time.
"Who gives a shit about that? The decisions he made, the decisions you let him make, will loom over this country for ages! It's all because of you! Don't you get it, you goddamn piece of elf shit-"
Sarah had already lost most of her earlier patience, and now she had none left to spare. They had been in the middle of discussing how to help her find her lover when this whiny drunkard decided to show up out of the blue. Sarah stood up straight. Orcs were naturally bulky and tall because of it, but the Feraten were even taller. She was careful to put her claws away before striking him with a single good punch to the face. She didn't intend to kill the man, only to shut him up. The orc flew backwards. He tumbled over a table, over a chair, and landed with his back on the floor. He didn't get up again. Some of the people in the bar burst out with cheers.
"Th-Thank you so much for doing that!" Elila held a hand to her breast, breathing heavily. A little part of her was worried that the orc might have suffered some kind of serious damage. Only a LITTLE part of her.
"I was about ready to strangle him, honestly!" Hamuta took a deep breath. She wasn't lying about that.
Sarah lowered her backside back down onto her stool. "We were busy talking about how to help me! I'm not going to let some asshole get in the way of that! And...well...you know..." Sarah blushed, and it was the cutest thing the elves had seen all night, "And I won't let him badmouth someone that I've come to appreciate the company of, such as you, Elila."
Hamuta chuckled and shook her head. Elila felt herself grow bashful. She didn't think she deserved to be showered with so much gratitude to begin with. In any case, out of the pure goodness of her heart, Elila wanted to do something to help the Feraten. Sarah was clearly in a bad spot of trouble, so sending her out into the city after all of this wouldn't do her any good.
Hamuta had not liked Sarah much at first, even being afraid of her. However, her willingness to stand up for Elila certainly put her in a much better light overall. Perhaps asking Tenyen could help them yield some results to begin their search for the boyfriend.
There was no telling what might happen or what would have to be done to help Sarah unite with her lover. Yet Elila couldn't deny she was happy to have something new to do. Ever since her divorce, she had been living on her own and aimlessly doing so. Now she had a new goal, even if it was helping a single couple unite. The former elf princess could not help but want to keep aiding others. It was essentially second nature to her, and she wished to see Sarah truly smile. She had a feeling it would be worth the effort.