A girl sat on the city streets, guitar in hand, singing for the world. Music was her passion, but being a Top Tier made that hard. Everyone assumed that she was just trying to make more money on top of the money she already had. No one had any qualms when they thought she was a Low Tier, but when they found out her real Tier, she stopped doing it as a regular occurrence.
"Hey! Top Tier! Leave that job to a Low Tier!" Someone yelled, and then girl looked up to recognise them as a High Tier.
"Yeah! Let them make the money! You already have enough!" A Middle Tier agreed.
She sighed. Suddenly, a shadow was cast over her. "Hey, there's no need to take in what they say," The shadow said. The girl looked up in surprise. No one had ever encouraged her to follow her passion before, and definitely not someone who she immediately recognised as another Top Tier. No other Top Tiers had ever told her that what she was doing was OK. Especially not one so pretty.
"Thanks, but I don't. Even after they found I was Top Tier, I kept singing. Music's my passion. I'm not going to stop it." She put her guitar in her case and then stood up, sticking out her hand. "Top Tier, Amur Leopard. I'm Valeriya. Valeriya Petrov. But you can call me Val."
The owner of the shadow took Val's hand, shaking it gently, "Top Tier, Red Panda. I'm Nora Chen," Nora replied, smiling brightly. "What you're doing…I tried to bridge the gap between tiers but it doesn't work as well as I thought it would. But it's amazing. Your music sounds amazing" she sputtered, a faint, light pink blush coming across her face.
Val was speechless for a quick second, soft blush slowly working itself onto her cheeks as well. "Th-thanks," She blurted out. A strand of hair fell in front of her face and she brushed it out. "Is it weird to say that I'm not used to support from other Top Tiers? I mean, my parents are mostly OK with what I do, but they're not extremely fond of it. Not unless I can make a career out of it."
“Yeah, my parents hate it when i do anything like it. You should get more support though. You’re a great singer and you have a real talent for it.” Nora replied, moving closer and sitting down on the smooth cement block the city had around every corner.
Val's blush started to get deeper, but she ignored it once more. "Thanks, you know, again. But it's not like I can make a career out of what I do. If I was a Low Tier or a Middle Tier I could do it without judgement, but not as a Top Tier. People think that I'm doing it to make money on top of the money that I already have, but I'm just doing my passion. I don't even have a container for them to give me money anymore."
"I get it completely" Nora replied, her eyes wandering the girl's attire and tail as she adjusted her own headband that held back the fluff from her ears. "I used to work at the cafe right across the street until they fired me, thinking I was just mocking them when they found out that I was a top tier. I just wanted to meet new people and help and feel like real life was like," she replied, her gaze shifting halfheartedly to the sky, her eyelids heavy and hanging over half her eyes.
Val’s ears twitched slightly, as did her tail. "Yeah, they think that, don't they? Just because we're Top Tiers trying to interact with the world normally, we're mocking what they do and just trying to get more money. Like, why can't we do it just because? I'm not doing it because I want money, I'm doing it because it's what I love to do." She sighed. "But what can we do? Do we keep doing what we love despite it all? Or do we sit back and watch it all go by?"
"I guess we just try to find someone as passionate as we are and accept us and until then we just try to ignore it all. I'm trying to find ways to stop my endangerment and maybe then I'll move down a spot. I don't think I'd mind it if I were middle tier. It'd be nice to live in one of the small houses on the beach and just dance and write in the sand all day, even if the sand would destroy my pointe shoes," Nora replied, her blush brightening ever so slightly. She felt the soft, ocean breeze mixed with some sand come across her face and she cringed slightly, her preferences for climate being the humid jungle. All the salt dried her out, fatigued her.
"You'd have to make a lot of babies to get from Top Tier to Middle Tier. I would honestly be fine as a High Tier, but a Middle Tier would be even better." Val sighed. "All I want to do is make music. But soon I'm gonna be married off to another Amur Leopard so that we can keep our species alive. Can you believe that his name's Leopald? He's a leopard and his parents named him Leopald. It's so stupid! It's not even a remotely traditional name. My mum wanted to call me Mei since I was keeping my dad's last name, in order for her to have some part of her own heritage instead of just my appearance. But my dad insisted on calling me Valeriya. I like Mei Petrov better than Valeriya Petrov, but I guess I don't have much choice." She suddenly stopped and blushed deeply, embarrassed. "Sorry, I'm rambling."
"You're cute when you ramble…" Nora said softly, a small, gentle smile coming onto her face. She realised what she said and the smile was replaced with a bright red blush. "Not that you aren't beautiful or cute every day…I mean I've only known you for a few minutes but from what I can see you're pretty freaking great," she muttered, her talking speed picking up ever so slightly. "No need to be embarrassed, I embarrass myself enough in an hour to balance out the whole universe so yeah," she added, looking down at her feet.
"Hey, it's fine," Val replied. "You're cute when you ramble as well. And it's honestly fine. It's nice to know that I have a friend who's like me and not a stuck up bitch or dick. That is, if you'd allow me to call you my friend. Sure, we're both Top Tiers, but you don't have to be my friend if you don't want to be. It'd just be nice to…you know…have a friend who I can confer my secrets in."
Nora smiled brightly after she was done being bashful. "I'd love to be your friend," she replied, butterflies beginning to form in her stomach. She hadn't had any real friends in her lifetime, most of them were just either trying to get money out of her or were just friends with her so they could tell everyone they were friends with a top tier.
A smile played on Val's face, happiness shining through. Her phone chimed and she looked down at it, her posture melting away as she read the text. "Ugh, I completely forgot about the ball tonight." She sighed. "Wait. You're a Top Tier as well. You should be going to the Eraklyon Family Ball too, right?"
“Yes, I’m going sadly. But if you’re there it should be so much better,” she replied, her blush deepening as she looked over the other’s happy expression.
Val stood up, guitar case in hand. “Well, I should be off. But I guess I’ll be seeing you tonight at the ball.” She walked off, leaving Nora on the cement block, already waiting for the moment that she could see Val again.