Title: You, Me, and the Cat
Total Word Count: 4,671
Tags: pet adoption, cat to human, magic, the unexplained, heartbreak, healing, low self-esteem, joy in the little things
Hiromi Higa had never felt so low before in his life.
The suit and tie he wore felt like a clown suit and the flowers in his hands suddenly smelled rancid. He dropped them, his mind already working into overdrive to erase this day, this moment, this memory from his mind even as it was happening. Hiromi had mustered up all his courage from the last five years to confess his feelings for his boss, Hana-san. But there she was, closing up the shop, a tall, lean man waiting by an expensive two-seater.
It had been the last thing he expected to see, but the absolute worst case scenario. Hiromi yanked at the tie he’d spent a little too long tying, feeling like if he didn’t remove it right that second he’d suffocate. His toes pinched with each hurried step and he resisted the urge to rip the dress shoes off, if only until he got to the car. The car that belonged to the flower shop. The flower shop of the woman he was in love with; who was already spoken for by a suave dark haired man he’d never seen.
“Fucking perfect,” he muttered, feeling his face flush in embarrassment at hearing his voice tremble. Hiromi just wanted to be at his apartment already. His bed and alcohol were there. And he could be alone. Like I’ll always be. His eyes burned.
Hiromi dropped the car keys in his hands from shock. Right in front of the door was a black cat, electric green eyes wide and glowing in the night. Its tail was long, whipping from side to side almost as if in contempt.
“Ya lost buddy?” Though Hiromi felt like utter shit, he couldn’t ignore the creature in front of him. He bent down to grab his keys and be more level with the cat. “Do you have a collar?”
“Hisss!” The cat raised a paw and a single claw extended before retracting again.
Alright, I guess this is a stray? For some reason, Hiromi felt scolded and insulted. “If you don’t have a home, do you wanna live with me?” He reached out his arms, doing his best to smile in a non-threatening way.
The cat rose on all fours, walking in a slow circle before creeping closer. He made sure to stay still, his gut telling him if he made any sudden moves the cat would claw his face out before running from wherever it hailed. Though it seemed the creature might be a bit of trouble, Hiromi liked the idea of doting on something, and having another being rely on him. I want this friggin’ cat.
As if sensing his desire, the cat was suddenly in his reach. Hiromi eagerly gathered it in his arms, wincing from the claws that dug into his forearms through the suit jacket. I kind of already regret this, but oh well.
Hiromi would have forgotten to go to the store for some emergency cat-care supplies if it hadn’t been for the cat’s loud meows. In the store, he’d quickly learned that his stray was high maintenance, hissing and clawing at him whenever he tried to buy off-brand cat food and cleaning supplies. By the time he left the store, it was silent on the streets, and he had more than his fair share of cuts. However, the cat in his arms looked satisfied and Hiromi felt better, if only a little bit.
“At least a girl likes me,” he said, going in to nuzzle the cat. Only to get a clawed paw to the face and angry hissing. Is the cat a dude? Shuffling the grocery bags and the still howling cat, he managed to look at its nether regions. A nub poked out from the fine hair of his underbelly and Hiromi realized he should have confirmed its sex in the store. But they only sell pet stuff, they aren’t experts.
“Are you a dude, my dude?” The hissing and squirming stopped, and Hiromi swore the cat rolled its green eyes and made a small nod in the affirmative. I’m losing my fucking mind. Regardless, it was clear his new cat was very much male, and wanted him to remember. “Then what should I call you? Clint?”
Another hiss as he placed the cat into the passenger seat. Though the drive to his apartment would most likely be clear, he still felt compelled to buckle the cat up. Hiromi moved the crossover strap so that it didn’t mash the cat’s face or choke him before putting the bags in his trunk and settling into the driver’s seat. “How about Miyachen?”
“… Meow.” Hiromi found himself smiling, something he’d assumed just an hour before would be impossible. It was clear Miyachen wasn’t crazy about his new name, but that it was acceptable enough. “Miyachen it is. Let’s go home, huh?”
Having a cat shouldn’t have been this hard. At least, that’s what Hiromi thought to himself the millionth time the next morning.
Setting up the food, water, and kitty kennel had been straightforward enough, though he’d felt judged by the cat that sat on his single barstool as if he owned the damned thing. Miyachen had wasted no time clearing his food though, and watching the cat, who in the soft light of his living room looked smaller than he’d thought, gave him the same satisfaction as tending to flowers. The trouble had come when it was time for bed.
Usually Hiromi slept with the door closed, but he’d left it cracked just in case Miyachen cried out in the night. He’d also bought a kitty bed and of course the priss had decided on the plushy bed rather than the kennel with his litter. “You better be house trained already.”
The cat had only blinked up at him in disdain before settling into himself, eyes closed and tail swishing slowly from side to side. Unable to help himself, he’d taken a quick picture. Miyachen’s ears twitched, but he’d made no more sounds and Hiromo thought that was the end of it. However, around three a.m something warm and soft laid over his face. It was Miyachen of course and as soon as Hiromi had moved him, the cat had leapt back up so that he rested on his pillow.
“Oy, what are you doing!” But Miyachen’s carefree snores responded, and he’d had no choice but to turn over and use his arm as a pillow. And then, what felt like minutes later, a clawed paw dug into his ass, followed by what could only be described as whining. Hiromi didn’t think cats could make such a noise and it effectively ruined any chance of him going back to sleep that morning. And he’d been up since then, just as the sun was rising. He had work later that day and didn’t know how he was going to make it through his shift. Then he conveniently remembered how he’d come to pick up his cat.
Hiromi hated that tears immediately blurred his vision. He’d managed to forget it mostly, so consumed with getting his new housemate acclimated to his new environment. It had been soothing, setting everything up, even with Miyachen’s prodding. Even his sleep had been dreamless, probably because of the interruption from his furry companion. But now, in the light of day, he relived it all over again.
All the extra hours in the shop, his spare time spent getting stronger to be seen as a man that could protect and provide, down the drain. Once the others got wind of it, they’d definitely say he should have spoken up earlier. Maybe they were right, but Hiromi had felt like he wasn’t worthy. Turns out I was right in the end anyway.
“Meow, meow!” Miyachen had finished eating and now circled his legs. He wasn’t quite rubbing against him, but Hiromi felt his body heat. It was like getting a reluctant hug and it made him laugh, even as salty tears fell into his mouth.
“You can be cute, can’t you?” He bent down, picking up his new comfort, ignoring how he struggled against his firm hold. “I’m glad I found you, Miyachen.”
Hiromi felt like what might have been a paw rest on his head but the feeling was so fleeting he couldn’t be sure. He for sure got a clawed foot to his nose. The pain paled in comparison to his raw emotions, but it was distracting enough. “I wish I could take you to work with me…”
He set Miyachen down with a sigh, noting that the cat felt heavier in his arms. Hiromi wasn’t sure how quickly cats put on weight, but he made a mental note to feed him a little less. He could be heavy handed after all. “I hope you’ll be okay by yourself.” He checked the kennel and sighed in relief (and disgust) at the smell. “At least I know you won’t piss everywhere.”
“RWEOW!” Hirmo could only watch with his mouth open as Miyachen deliberately clawed at his aerial carpet, unblinkingly.
“You’re a real piece of work!” But Hiromi could only be thankful that he’d gone for his carpet, something easily replaceable, rather than the wood floors. Oh shit, I need to let my landlord know. Though pets were welcome, tennants still had to report how many pets they had. “I get it, you’re a refined cat, so forgive me.” He let out a sigh before turning back to his bedroom, his appetite long gone. “A truly refined cat wouldn’t destroy their home.”
Hiromi couldn’t believe the silence that followed his light reproach, but he gladly took it to focus on what was important: acting as if his boss hadn’t shattered his heart into pieces. It was harder to put on his uniform, and his fingers kept slipping while trying to tie the strings. But he managed. For once, he didn’t spend the extra ten minutes over-analyzing his appearance; he had no reason to anymore. It’s not like he ever came across as your typical florist anyway.
“See ya later, Miyachen. Look after the place!” Miyachen’s eyes followed his exit and even though he was still upset about the carpet, he wished he could take the little guy with him. He’d take any comfort he could get.
Hana-san wasn’t there when he arrived, and Hiromi thanked the universe for small miracles. He liked opening the shop alone, finding it peaceful to arrange the displays unbothered. His mind would go quiet and it was like he was a little boy again, playing in his grandmother’s garden. Today was no different, and he took comfort in arranging the daffodils on the front display. Their yellow centers were like miniature suns, brightening everything around them. It made Hiromi smile, and his anxieties for the day melted away.
He opened the shop thirty minutes later, completely at peace and in his element. It was a Friday, and he expected the traffic to pick up shortly. Once the hustle and bustle of the day started, even when Hana-san clocked in, he wouldn’t have time to dwell on how miserable seeing her made him feel. Or, at least that was his hope. He was always aware of her, like how any teenager is aware of their crush in school. Hiromi constantly kept her in his peripheral vision in the event she needed help to be the “knight in shining armor.” But someone already has that role.
Great, now I’m fucking depressing myself! Hiromi slapped his cheeks, shaking his head from side to side furiously. He had a job to do, and being surrounded by flowers had been his childhood dream. It’s just a normal day!
“Higa-san, are you alright?” Hiromi choked on his spit as his boss entered the shop, along with a few regulars behind her.
She looked radiant as always, raven black hair shining in the morning light, pale skin like porcelain. He tried to respond but found forming a proper sentence impossible. Just nod idiot! Even that felt like a monumental task and instead of doing any of the above, he made an audible gagging noise.
“Higa-san, you look a little pale, are you ill?” A dainty hand with perfectly shaped fingernails colored light pink reached for his forehead. “And what’s with these scratches on your face?”
MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!
“M-m-maybe? I was out late last night because there was this cat and I had to buy all this stuff for him, and you know, for being a stray he’s like, really picky—” SHUT THE FUCK UP! It was difficult, but he cut his ramblings off.
“You adopted a cat? That explains the scratches, how sweet!” Her hands were on her cheeks now and though he avoided her touch, she looked even cuter like this. “I don’t mind you taking the day off, as long as you promise to come in a little early on Monday!” It was offer he’d be stupid to refuse and yet a small part of him still pined after her, making him hesitate.
“A-are you sure?” He couldn’t help but ask, though he was already reaching to remove his nametag.
“Of course, I wouldn’t want my favorite employee to work sick nor leave his new pet at home alone!”
Hiromi bowed his thanks and said a farewell to the customers that witnessed the exchange and left the shop. Happy for the escape, he wondered if seeing him back home so soon would mess with Miyachen’s understanding of his work day. What if he gets needy? Not that Hiromi would mind. In fact, he’d love it if the furball depended on him. But I have the feeling he’ll be cool as a cucumber. Probably won’t even notice the changes in my schedule. Though it was hurtful to realize, it was comforting too. It surprised Hiromi how naturally it had come to him to consider his cat’s feelings, but he guessed that was how all doting parents felt.
When he entered his apartment fifteen minutes later, he didn’t know what to expect. It was quiet as usual, which shouldn’t have been surprising; cats weren’t like dogs, immediately jumping on their owners when they walked through the door. Hiromi locked up and slipped off his shoes, feeling his shoulders relax. He hadn’t realized he was so tense, but being back in the comfort of his home sucked out all the tension. “Miyachen, I’m home early!”
“Meow?” Miyachen appeared at the end of the hallway, looking bigger somehow than when Hiromi left for work. He’d already considered getting a photo album dedicated to Miyachen’s growth, and now he felt even more compelled to take photos. Though he had a feeling his fickle cat wouldn’t take too kindly to being constantly photographed. Well actually…
Hiromi took out his phone and clicked a few photos, noticing how Miyachen seemed to preen under the attention. So a photo album is totally possible! He scooped his cat up, rubbing his cheek against Miyachen’s even as he struggled. I might have one lying around. Back in college, Hiromi had scrapbooked the photos of various plants and flowers he’d found around campus. He’d bought quite a few albums over the years but had fallen off the hobby once he graduated. “Let’s go look in the closet.”
“MEOW!” Miyachen struggled even more, and Hiromi got a few more scratches for his trouble.
Despite appearances, Hiromi was a bit of a neat freak, so he was able to find a drawer of empty scrapbook albums. Perfect. He had a printer for times like these and he made quick work of printing the few pictures he’d snuck already. “Would you be mad if I bought clothes for you?” Hiromi placed Miyachen back down, even though he’d since stopped struggling. Rather than respond, the cat looked over its shoulder before stalking off, tail rigid. Guess that’s a yes. Hiromi still wanted to push his luck and decided to order an outfit or two online later.
It would add a special touch to the album, which, as he placed the photos in, he realized that Miyachen had grown an inch or two in height, and gotten fatter. Even if I am feeding him too much, that doesn’t explain the sudden increase in height. Hiromi looked down at his cat again, only to see him on the counter. Somehow, while he’d been focused on scrapbooking, Miyachen had gotten a hold of his food and was eating it straight from the can. How in the hell?
“Miyachen!” The cat had the audacity to look unbothered.
Hiromi sighed. It was either snatch the food away and get a few more scratches or let the cat be. My face is already ugly enough as is. It was an intrusive thought, but Hiromi leaned into the truth of it. Resigned, he shuts the scrapbook closed, placing it on the coffee table before leaning back into the couch. He closed his eyes, feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion hit him. Is this how it’s always gonna be? Worried about scratches from my fucking cat?
“Meeeeowwwwww, meow.” Hiromi opened an eye and met one of Miyachen’s, who’d soundlessly climbed onto his stomach. This time he sounded petulant, but also… sad? Oh great, now even my cat feels sorry for me! Almost like he read Hiromi’s mind, Miyachen kneaded all four paws into his flesh, illicting winces of pain from him. “Meow!”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it.” Hiromi chanced rubbing his head, and was rewarded with a comforting purr. “It’s me and you from now on.”
“Get back here, Miya!” Hiromi had never been this winded in his life, and it was all because his cat refused to let him put on the hoodie he’d hand sewn for him. It’d taken him months because Miyachen’s measurements had kept changing as he seemed to grow ever bigger, no matter how much or little Hiromi made his food portions.
“RWEEEEOOOOW!” Miyachen knocked over his lamp and Hirmoi cursed. “Get back here you little shit!”
This time, the cat turned course and ran straight for him, leaping so that he could latch onto Hiromi’s face. The sensation of claws digging into his cheeks wasn’t unfamiliar but hurt nonetheless. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry for calling you that, but can’t you please put this on? I made it myself and everything!”
Since he’d taken Miyachen in, and even if he wanted to, he didn’t have time to be heartbroken. His cat had taken over his life, and he spent most of his spare time catering to every whim and need. Though Miyachen hadn’t gotten any easier to handle, Hiromi loved him. And the cat knew it. But, Hiromi liked to think he’d grown on the furball too; he’d let him give him a nickname which he responded to fifty percent of the time.
“I’ll give you extra milk for dessert tonight.” All the squirming stopped and the claws detracted from his skin. “That’s right, good boy.” He placed Miyachen onto the bed, smiling when the cat held up his front paws begrudgingly. “It’s just one picture Miya, then we’ll watch a movie!”
“… meowww.” The sweatshirt went on easy and Hiromi couldn’t help the sense of satisfaction running through him; he’d gotten the size right, and Miyachen was letting him capture the moment.
“You’re getting double the milk, little man,” he muttered, rubbing that spot underneath Miyachen’s chin. He was rewarded with a long purr and nuzzling. “Okay, picture time!”
Hiromi had spent days scouring the internet for the right fabric color to match Miyachen’s eye color. It had cost a whole month’s paycheck, but it was well worth it. He’d found a bunny design on the internet and bookmarked it for when he had the right materials. Adding a zipper had been difficult but he managed without ruining his work, and he added the bunny ears, made from a feathery purple material soft to the touch. Miyachen looked as teeth-achingly adorable as he’d imagined, and Hiromi took a flurry of photos.
“A few more in the living room and you’ll get your reward.” Miyachen hopped down from his perch and Hiromi followed behind him, taking more photos.
“What movie are we in the mood for, huh?” He let Miyachen choose his poses, ignoring when he jumped onto the counter, something he’d gotten more and more stern about. It’s for the album, plus he looks so cute!
Final pictures taken, Hiromi reached for the zipper. Only for his hand to be swatted away. He looked down at him, confusion clear on his face. “Miya?”
Is it possible for a cat to blush? Hiromi couldn’t resist lifting him and burying his face in the warm fur. “I knew you’d like it!”
The rest of the afternoon they watched movies, and Hiromi made good on his promise of double the warm milk. Miyachen used to let him feed him from a bottle, but now apparently he was “too big.” Though Hiromi found that side of him cute too. At least he still lets me do this, he thought, petting his back slowly. Miyachen’s warmth was better than any heated blanket, and Hiromi felt sleep call to him.
“Wake me up when it gets to the good part,” he muttered, hand falling from Miaychen’s back as he dozed off.
“—ey! Hey, slime brain! It’s the good part!” Something was slapping his face, and an unfamiliar voice spoke from seemingly far off. “And you drooled on my outfit, disgusting!”
Who… is that? Hiromi slowly opened his eyes, blinking to clear them. And then blinking them some more. Because there was no way a young man in a fucking electric green bunny suit was sitting on his coffee table. No way in hell. And yet, when he rubbed at his eyes so hard they burned, the man was still there, staring at him as if he were the strange one.
“Who the fuck are you?” Now that he was waking up, Hiromi’s defenses kicked in. The stranger was smaller in build than him, and didn’t look very fit. I can take him.
“You really are an idiot,” the man gestured at his outfit. “You don’t recognize your tacky handiwork?”
He can’t be serious?! The outfit he’d made had been cute and made for a cat. What this man wore made him look like a pervert. Yet, the design was a deadringer. Wait, where’s—
“What did you do to Miyachen?” Hiromi reached for the nearest thing he could use as a weapon, and ended up with the remote. Eh, good enough.
Electric green eyes rolled before pinning him with their gaze. “I’ll give you one guess.”
Somewhere deep inside him knew who was standing in front of him; no human had eyes like that, and they still looked like cat’s eyes. His small nose twitched every so often, like he was sniffing the air, and his hands rested naturally at chest level, a position a human wouldn’t adopt. Unless they were cosplaying as a cat.
“Where is Miyachen?” Hiromi refused to believe the mounting evidence in his head. There’s no fucking way!
The man sighed and rubbed his temples. It was a very human gesture, and Hiromi felt his confusion and alarm grow. There’s a crazy person in my house! Without hesitation, he threw the remote, aiming for the man’s head. However, he caught it easily, in a movement somehow too graceful for the average human. No way, no way, no way!
“Your aim is terrible.” The stranger paused the movie and crossed his arms, hip cocked to the side. For some reason the pose reminded him of Miyachen when he didn’t get his way. Or when he thought Hiromi was being thoughtless. “If I could turn back to prove it, I would but it seems I’m stuck like this.” A shrug. “At least the clothes changed with my size too, being naked would have been embarrassing.”
“Now just wait a fucking—”
“Shhhhh!” The man put a thin finger over his lips. “Language, language. I’m sure you can talk like a civilized human, yes?” Hiromi could only watch as the man approached him, and something about his gait seemed familiar. But it was impossible. Right?
“You know, you’re a pretty big dude.” He leaned in close, smelling of fish and musk, Miyachen’s signature smell. “But your eyes are like, super small.”
“I-I don’t know who you are, but—”
“This is getting so annoying, can’t you use that big head of yours to figure it out?” Suddenly there was a mischievous glint in the man’s shiny green eyes and Hiromi’s stomach somersaulted. “You’ll believe me after this!”
He scurried off to Hiromi’s room like he owned the place, and came back out with a purple box the size of Hiromi’s hand. It was a box that no one but him should have known the location of, much less its existence. Hiromi made a reach for the box, but the man easily moved out of reach, holding it high over his head. Is this bastard taller than me? Now that they were a little closer, that seemed to be the case, the stranger looking down on him with a smug grin.
“This box has pictures of your boss that you’ve taken over the years. You used to like, cry over them every night when I first moved in. Sometimes, you’d even be crying while jack—”
“OKAY, that’s enough!” Hiromi covered his ears, not wanting to hear his less than finer moments relived by a stranger. No, not a stranger apparently… Somehow, some way, his cat had turned into a human.
If he’s not a cat anymore, does that mean he wants to leave?
Hiromi’s chest hurt like he had heartburn. Yeah, that must be it, living with a pathetic guy like me was enough to make the gods take pity on you and give you the ability to leave.
“You’re thinking useless stuff again, aren’t you?” Somehow, the question sounded like one of Miyachen’s sassy “meows,” and Hiromi’s heart squeezed. “I’ve been like this for an hour or so now; if I wanted to leave I could have.” Another shrug, but Miya looked away from him. “Plus, I’d be stupid to run from someone who takes care of me.”
He’s still the same!
It was a comforting thought, and made the truth of it all easier to swallow. A small part of him refused to believe that Miyachen would stay with him, and he wished that the cat would return. But, now I have someone to talk to! A closer look at Miyachen’s snarky expression made him briefly consider if his new ability to talk would be worse than the scratches and hisses.
“H-how did this happen Miyachen?” All of Hiromi’s strength left him and he fell back onto the couch, eyes closed and limp with defeat.
“You know, I prefer Miya.” Because Hiromi’s eyes were closed he missed the faint blush coloring Miya’s cheeks. “…Guess it’s because I kept complaining about how pathetic and lonely you are.”
Hiromi let out a tired laugh. Out of habit, he reached out, remembering at the last second that his cat was gone, turned into this mouthy human. My life really is a joke!
Featherlight hair met his fingertips, and it might have been his imagination, but Hiromi swore he heard Miya give a little purr as he settled onto the couch beside him. He let Miya get comfortable, including letting him direct where his arm went. Though now a man, Miya did his best to be in Hiromi’s lap, succeeding in getting his upper body balanced over his thighs. He left Hiromi’s hand in his hair. “It’s like you said old man, it’s me and you from now on.”
Hiromi sniffled, his eyes blurring over immediately. He felt and heard Miya sigh. “If you cry on me, I’m never doing this again.”
He laughed, ruffling the soft hair with a content sigh. “Let’s finish this movie, shall we?”