Title: Angels on Four Feet
Pairing: None – but of course there’s a bit of past Ryuuji/Seto implied
Challenge: With Friends Like These – see here for the challenge in its entirety. Borrowed the 'cat' concept from Tanya Huff's Keeper series. I don't think I did those cats quite the justice they deserved...but then again...I don't see any of these boys as being familiar-material for a Keeper.
Disclaimer: The fandom’s not mine, and every element of this story is fictitious.
There was one less angel tonight, and one more four-footed furry antagonist.
:Please tell me, that’s not what I think it is.:
:It’s not what you think it is.:
:Thank you,: Ryuuji’s reply was dry enough to make Hiroto thirsty, :When I need humor, I’ll ask for it. Or better yet, not ask you for it.:
:Well, you asked.:
:Yet another reminder to add to my ‘never again’ list,: The green-eyed cat slinked to his feet from his languid crescent on the warm clay tiles of the rooftop garden, and stretched languidly, nails extending from velveted forepaws to rake across the sunbaked surface. He had all the sleek black patent-leather looks of a Bombay, with most of the attitude and none of the pedigree. Hiroto admitted grudgingly that while he didn’t have the mass alone to convince someone to follow, he certainly had the persuasive charm. With a last lick to the glossy hairs of his shoulder, Ryuuji strolled toward the cause of the interruption to his early evening siesta, his larger companion in tow.
:Whoever you are…I swear to you, that if you don’t release me, I shall be left no choice but to call upon the forces of…:
:Take it easy, friend,: Ryuuji interrupted smoothly, lithe tail tip switching lightly as he approached the newcomer. :He can’t hear you. You’re wasting your breath. Heh.:
The newcomer, as it turned out, was a very slender, very Eastern-looking young feline, alternately yowling and spitting at his captor, which was a large, well-groomed Golden Retriever. The dog actually seemed rather bemused that he’d managed to capture this cat, being as his usual company on the terrace were the two cats approaching him now, and he’d never had this kind of luck with them. He turned, pink tongue lolling over his teeth, to look at Hiroto and Ryuuji from where he’d cornered the other cat against the edge of the rooftop. Someone would come and collect him shortly, but right now his humans were currently more involved in a conversation over the grill on the far side of the clay terrace.
From underneath the dog’s massive jowls, the strange cat looked at Hiroto and Ryuuji with a mixture of indignity and irritation. No fear. :Who are you?:
:We’re friends,: Hiroto explained simply, dropping his large gray-tabby backside onto the warm tiles, :D’you want us to get him off you?:
:He’s not so bad, he’s just a little dumb. Well, no, very dumb, but that’s beside the point.:
:Leave Katsuya alone, Ryuuji. He didn’t do anything to you.:
:Who mentioned the dog?: Ryuuji replied, innocently, receiving an icy glare from his companion, and his tail quirked in amusement. :You’re far too easy, Hiroto,: He admonished, delicately raising one jet paw for a delicate swipe of his tongue.
Katsuya saw that the other two cats weren’t moving, and with the equivalent of a mental shrug, he turned back toward the stranger. Every rusty hair on the oriental cat’s slender body stood straight out, and he crouched, crabstepping as he tried another wet hiss.
:Begone, hellhound, or I smite thee!:
Katsuya, unfazed, arched his neck and tipped his head, floppy blonde ears lifted. This was more noise than the other cats made. They ignored him, unless he happened to try and take some of the steak their owners passed them. This one wasn’t like that. Maybe it wanted to play? His tail plume wagged hopefully.
:I give you one last warning…: A red-brown paw swiped at the dog’s broad, wet nose when it sniffed closer, and Katsuya dodged him, smiling from ear to ear. He did want to play! Tentatively, he mimicked the strange cat, poking at the bundle of bunched russet fur with one leathery pawpad.
The result wasn’t pretty. He missed his mark entirely, and ended up pressing right into the new cat’s midsection. When the stranger overreacted with a squall of the damned, it spooked him, and he leaned forward, flattening the cat to the pavement.
:He looks like he needs help.:
:Bingo. He used ‘smite thee.’ That’s a cry for help in my book any day.:
The two onlookers flew into the fray, Hiroto using his superior mass as a thickly-built tomcat to his advantage, battering into Katsuya’s shoulder with all four sets of claws brandished. Ryuuji, meanwhile, interposed himself between the dog and the flattened cat until the stranger could collect his somewhat squashed wits and scoot into the bevy of potted plants in the next corner where until recently, Hiroto and Ryuuji had been passing their evening. Ryuuji was hard on his heels, and soon enough, a gray tabby joined them, a little out of breath but obviously pleased with himself. He found both of them bathing, a somewhat clumsy reflex for the younger of the two cats, who quickly caught himself mid-lick and froze in a mixture of confusion and horror.
The stranger gazed up at them with something akin to distrust darkening his cobalt blue eyes. :Who are you?: He asked again…though not so much asking as demanding. The gray tabby and the
:We saved your furry backside, buddy. You’ll have to give answers to get them. How about yours, first?:
The oriental cat – no – Abyssinian, Hiroto corrected himself as he studied the stranger – seemed uneasy about the relatively simple question. His gaze remained steadily locked on Ryuuji’s, but they were clouded with uncertainty. Hiroto’s heart went out to him. Nobody remembered their names, not right away. And considering how blue the kid’s eyes were, he was guessing this one was very new.
:Well?: Ryuuji goaded impatiently, after a few seconds of silence passed.
:I’m not obligated to give my name to inferiors.:
Hiroto abruptly felt less sympathy.
:Meaning you can’t remember it.:
The bristle of whiskers and hackles and the shocked ‘how the hell did you know that?’ look on the stranger’s face gave the game away. :See? We’re not as inferior as you think,: Ryuuji continued, coiling his tail neatly around his ankles as he turned again and tucked himself in on his brisket, green eyes squeezing in content once more. :You might want to listen up. We’ve got some explaining to do. By the way…raise your head.:
The order surprised the other cat so much that he obeyed without thinking, and both Hiroto and Ryuuji tilted their heads in thoughtful consideration of the exposed creamy throat. Only visible to them – and any other angel condemned to this life of four-legged servitude – was a set of faintly glowing sigils almost the color of his fur.
:Seto. It has been a long time, hasn’t it? I thought it might be you.: Ryuuji lolled onto his side, and then his stomach, paws flexing skyward as he regarded the Abyssinian with both ears flat against the tiles in the dappled orange-red shade of the plants.
:Seto?: The stranger repeated the name, with an expression as though hearing a far-off familiar sound.