Summoner Lessa Carin had no obligation to dine with the champions. The mess hall was usually devoid of a summoner's presence, for the sake of comfort. But her role as therapist didn't begin with a formal training or selection process. The woman with the shortest temper drew the shortest straw, and now she was responsible for the mental well being of war criminals and their victims on a daily basis. She wasn't here to see them. Somehow she had sat through hours of Warwick's ravenous advances, days of Sion's wretched stench, weeks of Draven's narcissism, and a thankfully brief minute staring into the void of Cho'Gath's compassion.
None of these had phased her. Lessa Carin could handle any man less evil and ambitious than Sander Grieve. Somehow it was the women that gave her trouble. Somehow, and it wasn't her- it couldn't be- somehow these women all had problems that they could not solve themselves. Lessa Carin had clawed her way to the top of the one profession no woman had ever dared touch before, and was now looking down on a shrieking mass of shy, insecure, sobbing women. This, she could not stand. And everyone she spoke to could see it all written in the perpetual, spiteful glare of her eyes.
Leona was seeing it now. Lessa had come to see her, to intervene and embarrass her publicly. She knew going to Lessa so many times was a mistake. Now she dreaded the results. The summoner's piercing gaze scanned across the room, passing over the other champions in a search that Leona could not evade. When it finally settled on her, she looked away to the gardens through the window, hoping Carin would be merciful and just leave.
Carin dropped a tray at her end of the table, and sat with a frustration that bristled in the air around her, literally. A static discharge shocked her as she lifted a fork. Leona held her breath as she heard Lessa's fume.
"You don't have any matches today," Carin finally grumbled. She forked some food into her mouth and chewed angrily.
Leona nodded her agreement. She was in a heavy cloth tunic, bronze with orange accents around the cuffs. Her hazel eyes and rusted hair blended well with the outfit, but none of her figure was accentuated. She always wore armor on match days; never on off days. Lessa forked more food to her maw and expressed her anger on it.
"So you're going to talk to someone today," Lessa said before swallowing.
Leona nodded. "Riven and I-"
"No." Lessa filled her mouth again and waited while Leona continued.
"Well, I... I asked Ezreal to, um-"
"That won't work," Lessa interjected. She didn't offer an explanation.
Leona sighed. "What? But he's single! And he's a guy!"
Lessa washed down her food with some honey-water before responding. "I can't comment on that. Pick someone else."
She had no compassion for Leona's exasperated sigh. The defender's eyes returned to the massive, gothic windows of the institute and to the gardens that lay beyond. In the rising dawn she seemed to radiate. The sun was her power and her beauty. And then she slumped, her shoulders sagging inward as her posture collapsed.
"This is stupid," she mumbled.
Lessa nodded and chewed.
Leona's head shook. "I should just join that steam golem's dating service. I don't know why I asked you for help."
Lessa swallowed in time to answer, "because you need my help."
Leona saw the summoner beckon to someone behind her, and she panicked and swiveled in her chair. Half-way across the hall was another champion, his armor sparkling in the morning rays and his face blank with confusion or indifference.
Leona turned back to Lessa Carin with shock. "What? Him? But he's- I- what?"
Lessa Carin dismissed her objections with a sloppy wave.
"It's perfect," she said through some bacon.
Leona felt the seat beside her pull away. She didn't dare to look. She didn't want to welcome any advances. Had Carin planned it this way?
The seat returned, scooting in closer to the table, and Leona looked down at her match's plate with disgust.
"I'm so glad you could join us, Rammus," Lessa chimed.
"Uhuh." Rammus was not a wordy creature.
He grabbed a handful bugs Leona wanted to scream at, and he- oh gods- he- eww- he put them in his mouth. And he chewed them as Lessa carried on. Leona could hear one squealing through the armordillo's jaw as the summoner spoke.
"Think of this as practice dating." She sipped her drink again before threatening, "Talk to him."
Leona glanced at Rammus. He sat at her height, but was always hunched. He had stopped chewing, and was now looking at Leona with definite confusion. Leona cleared her throat. But as she attempted to speak, just to say hello, she heard the squeal that the dying bug had made. But the squeal wasn't coming from Rammus- it was her squealing instead of speaking. Leona shut her mouth and waited in horror at how Rammus would react.
This was why she had gone to Lessa Carin. Combat, she could handle. Leona had slaughtered more than one man in her life; she was the Sun's ambassador to RuneTerra, defender of the weak, Dawnbreaker. Romance was something entirely different to her, like wading through the depths of an ocean on a starless planet. Nuances- no- basic conversations were things she failed to handle.
Rammus swallowed his grub and burped. Lessa drew her face into her hands and fumed. Leona forced a meek smile.
"Hi," she finally squeaked.
Rammus grunted something similar in return.
Lessa's fingers parted in hope.
Leona swallowed her fear and pressed on.
"I... I..." she squeaked again, and had to force her mouth closed to start over.
She waited. Rammus, realizing that she had finished, nodded.
He grabbed another pile of still-living bugs and shoved it into his maw. Something about his posture had grown more cautious. Leona looked to Carin with a plea in her eyes.
Lessa nodded her onwards. Rammus took note and paused his chewing again.
Leona cleared her throat, but- to her credit- did not squeak when she spoke next.
"Do... do you have a... favorite pastime?"
She waited in Rammus' bewildered stare. He finished chewing and swallowing before answering,
Leona knew what "yeah" meant. She turned to Lessa with another pleading look and mouthed, "he's not interested."
Lessa's eyes rolled in disgust. Her hands pounded against the table.
She glared at Leona's hurt shock.
"He's simple! You ask him a question and he answers! How can you mess this up?"
Lessa gestured at Rammus, who was glancing between the two women.
"Ask him something!"
Lessa gestured again with her hand, more emphatically, and waited for Leona to try.
"Um... Do you think I look nice?"
Leona smiled a little under the victory.
"Do you... do you like me?"
His eyes keened, and he glanced at Lessa Carin as he shoveled more bugs into his mouth. A suspicion had rooted in his usually flat expression. Leona wasn't sure what to make of the answer, so she retreated.
"I mean... do you, do you want to be friends?"
Rammus chewed it over.
Leona tried to hide the bouts of happiness she was getting, trying to avoid looking desperate. But when Rammus spoke again, unprovoked, she broke into a full smile.
"Wanna go see Pentakill in concert?"
Rammus clawed at a discrete pocket in his armor and fumbled with something before producing two tickets. Leona giggled at the surprise. She'd done it. But the look on Lessa's face was not of a therapist's victory. She was shocked.
Lessa pointed at the tickets.
"What- where- Why do you have tickets? I didn't even get tickets! They sold out! You DON'T EVEN LIKE MUSIC!"
She rose from the table in tangible fury. Leona gasped and dropped her fork as the metal sparked. Several champions around them turned to see the commotion. Rammus put the tickets back in his pocket and mumbled, "Uh... oh. Ok."