I just had this idea for a while, without really knowing how to develop it, but the ending flashed in my mind just now, so I got to write it down before it's too late! This story is a KuhnxAtoli oneshot. I don't know about other people, but I just love that pairing! I also have another fic with this pairing in process, if you're interested.

A Woman's pride

Haseo's player groaned in his M2D in annoyance while he waited for the blonde Harvest Cleric in the field staring at the 'beautiful' scenery, as she put it, but he held back any negative comment. Atoli has always been like that right from the start. She always took her time and enjoyed her surroundings. However, that was the way she loved playing The World, and he wasn't about to upset her because he didn't see the game the same way she did. Both of them understood that trait about each other, so they were trying to meet halfway. He knew that she groaned too whenever he would see a lucky animal and hurry the party to kick it. She was afraid to hurt the creature, which couldn't feel pain because it wasn't real, by the way.

The girl turned back and waved at Haseo, who put on his best behavior. Somehow though, she saw through his attitude and sighed, still smiling. She came back running to him, sorry. "I guess we should go back to finding that item, shouldn't we?"

"Um, yeah." Haseo replied. The item in question was for Atoli, actually, so he was here for her in the first place. Shino had told him about that item for Harvest Clerics that 'would be useful for your friend Atoli', as she said. Always count on Shino to know where to find all kind of special weapons. And of course, he had been forced by the same person to go look for that weapon with Atoli, saying that a girl appreciates when a guy spares some of his time for her. Tchh.

They walked through the sunny field without too much interference. The monsters were a few levels below theirs, so they had no difficulty defeating the enemy with the two of them. "So," Atoli began after casting a healing spell on both of them, "How have been the others doing? It's been a while since some of them have logged in."

"Well, you know, since The World has gone back to normal, some of them decided to take a break for a little while. Even I did."

Atoli placed her hands on her hips and stared at him. "Really? Isn't it strange that a week after the final battle, you were already running around town, making preparations for the Forest of Pain event?"

"Eh… alright, alright. I can't stay away too long from- look out! They noticed us!"

Atoli turned around just in time to avoid a huge mass striking the ground. Haseo hurried up to take care of the two monsters while she recited some attack spells. She managed to nail one creature down on her own, while the Adept rogue destroyed the other.

"Yes, I did it! Harvest Clerics can be really strong too!" she bounced around, beaming. Haseo let her be, shaking his head. "Come on, we're almost there. The staff's supposed to be in the Beast Statue."

"Hehe, sorry. But tell me, the others!"

"Yeah, yeah. Pi and Yata are still hanging around Raven, working to repair the damage left in the game, and Gaspard and Silabus are the same as ever. I sometimes get the feeling that they know that something was going on in the end, but they never really asked any questions and I'm not about to tell them a thing. It'd be too long to explain to them the whole story. I see them almost every time I go to Canard's home to manage the guild though."

They reached the castle and Atoli let Haseo push the door. The ambiance changed slightly to something more honorific (1). "What about Kuhn?"

Haseo spun around and his character frowned. "Kuhn? Why would you want to know about him?"

Atoli huffed. "Why? He's my friend too, that's why! He's been so nice with me all the time…" she said, softer this time. "Kuhn reassured her when I was down, and he understood my feelings when I lost my epitath. He always has been very chivalrous with me."

There was a moment of silence between them and for a moment, Atoli wondered if she hurt Haseo in some way. She didn't mean to say that Haseo hasn't been nice to her that time, but she had noticed that Kuhn and Pi were both very careful to honor her feelings. Kuhn even took her place in the Tournament near the end. She also had a faint memory of him tossing Haseo aside, when she was attacked by Aida the first time. His avatar Magus showed up and took her out of there, saving her from any more damage. Truly, he was a righteous, courteous person.

Atoli looked at her friend apprehensively when she heard it. A laugh. "Haseo, are you… laughing?"

He couldn't contain it anymore. He roared with laughter, holding his stomach. "Haha, Kuhn, chivalrous, right!" Meanwhile, the blonde cleric crossed her arms, upset. "Why are you mocking him? He's your friend and mine too!"

The young man took his breath before speaking, a failed attempt to be a little more serious. "Oh, Atoli, com'on! We're talking about Kuhn here. The guy that comes up with a different pick up line for every girl he sees. The guy that has 972 members address from girls! Really, he's nothing like how you imagined!"

Atoli's eyebrow twitched, not nearly as amused as Haseo. "You must be exaggerating. He can't have 972 members from girls. Maybe with men included, but still-"

"No, I swear! He evens plans on making Pi the 1000th on his cell phone! I'm telling you, the guy's a real womanizer. One day, it'll go back in his face! I can't wait to see him- eh, Atoli? Where are you going?!"

Haseo watched in disbelief as she stomped toward the exit, steaming. "I'm leaving!"

"Wh-what?! What about the treasure?"

The girl didn't even bother to turn around. "Keep it!"

Haseo looked back and forth between the treasure and the now empty hall, before groaning. "But I don't need it! What did I do wrong…"

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Back in town, Atoli saved her game, before logging out. Chigura, her real self, left the computer on and headed to the kitchen, her cheeks on fire. No one was around the house, thankfully, and she gave in freely into her frustration, shutting the doors rather violently and making unnecessary noises while preparing her dinner.

How dare he play so many women! She never suspected Kuhn to be such a-a-a…!!! She always saw him helping Silabus and Gaspard at their shop, or fighting AIDA to protect the players, but Atoli never saw this side of him.

So he had this many members address on his phone, huh?! What a jerk. How come she never realized what he really was? Of course, he never asked for hers, so she could never have known. Why not her? She was a woman too, after all. She bet that among the 972 girls he had asked for members address, they weren't all good looking or bright! He couldn't have found so many gorgeous characters in the game. So what if she wasn't as attractive as Pi? She hasn't chosen to draw attention with her chest while creating her character!

Chigusa bit her lip. That wasn't fair. Pi has never been nothing but nice with her. It was a cheap blow. Something told her that she was making a big deal out of nothing. Kuhn was a man; he had desires and could whatever he wanted with his time in The World. She had no reason to get angry over it.

But she couldn't help it. Call it female pride! Why didn't he ask for her? Wasn't she good enough to be part of his collection? Not interesting or good looking?

And she headed back to her room with her plate, her fury came back while she fuelled it. Didn't he have any consideration for all those women he flirted with?! She couldn't see what attracted him to so many girls? What did they have that she didn't?

Yup, a woman with a wounded pride was scary alright.

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Atoli materialized into into Mac Anu for a second time in the day, but as she began walking, she realized that she didn't have anything to do right now. She was supposed to hang out with Haseo longer, but she abandoned him at the Beast Statue for a while.

Looking through her contacts, she saw Haseo's name, but the icon next to it indicated that he was busy. He must be angry at me. I should apologize…

She whispered to him, and got a response less a minute after. "Sorry Atoli, I met up with Piros the Third and he managed to drag me to a dungeon. How about you cool down a little?"

She couldn't help but feel her heart clench. So he has left the field, after all. No wonder, she has been logged for fifteen minutes. He wouldn't have waited so long… Her eyes wandered on the rest on her contacts. All of them were either busy or offline. All but one.

Kuhn!

Just seeing his name revived the fire of her anger inside her. Let me guess, he must be flirting with another girl! Hmph!

She pressed the x button on the contact list in a flash and ran toward the gate of the city. There was no way she was going to stand there, doing nothing while Mister was enjoying the company of beautiful ladies!

Atoli stormed off toward the city, determined to forget about the steam gunner and have a good time. Forget she didn't have anything to do here in particular, she would find something! A solo quest, maybe. After all, she felt so enraged that she could take down any monsters now.

But her idea was forgotten as soon as she a certain blue haired male player walking innocently through Mac Anu, two girls fawning over him. She stopped dead in her track, following with her eyes the trio laughing. From where she was, she could see him winking at the two female characters who giggled in response.

That was it. He was done for.

Atoli made a beeline toward the group and as soon as she was within reach, yelled his name. "Kuhn! We need to talk!"

Kuhn blinked in the direction of the voice. Who in the earth… "Atoli? Hey! Long time no see. I'm kind of busy right now, but if you're still logged later tonight, I'll be there." Hm, something was off… why did she looked so upset?

The two girls hugged his arms like leeches. "Who's that, Kuhnie?"

Atoli placed herself in front of Kuhn, effectively stopping him from going any further. "No, it can't wait!"

Kuhn laughed nervously while rubbing his hair, a habit Atoli noticed he had when he did was trying to cool down the atmosphere with Haseo or when he angered Pi.

One of the girls glared at Atoli, displeased. "Who're you? He said he was busy, get it?"

"I'm one of his friends." She replied, with disdain.

"Really? I can't see why he'd be interested by such a rude girl."

"And I can't understand what he sees into you two uglies!"

By that point, Kuhn walked away from the three ladies before he caught hurt. "Hey now, don't fight! How about we all meet another day? See you later!" And on that, he sped into in alley. The two girls whined while calling his name, but Atoli didn't waste her time and ran after him. However, the moment she turned the corner, Kuhn had disappeared. Atoli looked behind her, hoping that she had been somehow faster than, but no such luck.

Until… she noticed the warp point, and the wanted man getting away!

Kuhn was transferred in the mercenary district. He looked behind him and sighed. Good, he managed to lose them all. He found Atoli's behavior rather strange. It wasn't her style to pick a fight with strangers, or anyone for that matter.

Unfortunately, he couldn't stay on this server, at least for a few hours, or he would bump into one of the girls once again. He warped in front of the dome, made sure that the girls were nowhere in sight and ran toward the doors.

In front of the Chaos, a furious girl was waiting for him. He winced inwardly. Atoli didn't look like she would let him slip away once again. "H-hi…"

"You!" She said aloud. "You womanizer!" Two players next to her stared at her, then at him. "H-hey, switch to whispering!" He asked.

She approached him, not looking any less furious, but when she finally spoke, Kuhn was pleased to see that she had listened to him. "Is that what you spend your time doing? Flirting?"

"Eh, n-no, of course not! What makes you think that?" He laughed nervously again.

Atoli glared him. "Haseo told me that, that…"

"That what?"

Was he looking so innocent on purpose? He seemed so clueless about his crime that Atoli felt herself calm down, followed by an unpleasant feeling. She knew it. Once she had an idea, she just charged ahead without thinking. She even said mean things to those girls, although she didn't know her. They must be pretty angry right now. What an idiot she was…

Kuhn's voice broke her train of thought. "Atoli, what is wrong? What did you have to tell me that couldn't wait?" He said jokingly. "Haseo said what?"

Why did he always look so attracting when he was being sincere? She was angry, couldn't he see it? "Okay! He told me that you had 972 member addresses from different girls!" And immediately, she felt her real self blush up to the root of her hair. "I-isn't too much? All those girls think you like them! What about their feelings?"

Kuhn frowned. "He told you that? Aw, I thought he would keep it a secret between two men…"

"Well he didn't!"

Kuhn tried to grab Atoli's shoulder, but as soon as he touched her, she jerked his hand away and turned around. "I'm sorry if it hurts you, but you know… flirting doesn't mean anything. I've always been like that anyway. I'm sure you understand that."

He waited for an answer, hoping that this would calm her down. To someone like Atoli, his behavior must be shocking. She wasn't the type of girl who would let a guy woo her just for fun.

Finally, Atoli glanced at him, before staring back at the Chaos Gate. "…Why did you never ask for mine?"

"Huh?" Was all Kuhn could say, taken aback.

"Am I not interesting enough for you? Why did you never flirt with me? Maybe I would have liked it."

The two of them squirmed in their seat in embarrassment, not knowing what to say. Atoli swiped a tear forming at the corner of her eye. She couldn't take it anymore. Her stupid woman's pride has led her to this uncomfortable situation. She didn't want to get into a fight with Kuhn, after all he did for her. "You know what? Forget I ever said anything. I'm sorry for ruining your date!" And she opened the menu to log out.

"W-wait, Atoli! Listen to me!" Kuhn pleaded!"

"I'll log out for today. Sorry."

Kuhn grabbed her wrist and brought her character close to him. "Please, give me a moment."

She hesitated for a moment, tempted to run away from this situation, but she gave in and cancelled the menu. "I'm listening…."

Now Kuhn was the one searching for his words. Each second seemed longer than they were, and Atoli's resolve grew little as time flew by. She heard him sigh, and looked to his face. "Atoli… I will never add your member address in my cell phone." The tears threatened to come any time now. "Or rather, not in that category."

"What?" Now she was perplexed.

"The girls I flirt with aren't important to me. I don't have any feelings for them."

"So?" She knew it was a dumb question but she didn't get where he was getting at. A small smile appeared on his lips, and she swooned a little. "You're not like them. You're worth much more to me than they ever will."

Is he saying that… no, it can't! "Ha ha, you mean, because we're friends. That's nice of you." She laughed nervously, copying Kuhn earlier. But it wasn't really what she hoped for. Maybe she liked him too in a different way.

"I'm saying that I like you, Atoli. How about I add your phone number under 'girlfriend'?" And at that, he smiled broadly. She didn't what to say, especially when he winked at her. "A-are you sure about that? W-w never met i-in real life!"

"Well, give me your phone number and I'll call you so we can meet sometime soon. We'll decide after that. How about it?"

All she managed was to nod, and she grabbed the man's arms happily. Her feminine pride might have caused her trouble today, but for once, she was glad to be a stubborn person!

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(1) I don't know what word to use here (either in French or English, that's just lame). You know how the music changes when you reach a Beast Statue. Try to find that feeling, and the word please :D

I noticed while writing that technically, Kuhn would already have Atoli's member address since they sometimes are in the same party, but I decided to make Kuhn's friend in The World and Kuhn's conquests in different lists. I hope you'll bear with me.

It could've ended up being a fanfic under the friendship category, but since I'm a sucker for romance, I gave it another ending. What do you think? I would love if you reviewed, so just I know that I didn't work so late at night on this for nothing :D

Thanks for reading,

Katreda