Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Back Alley ( Chapter 2 )
Back Alley (prompt 2, table one)
Summary: Maybe Kenji will think twice about jumping in front of oncoming traffic next time.
A/N: Inspired by (some scenes ripped straight from) the Studio Ghibli film The Cat Returns. Modern fantasy AU.
It certainly was not easy being a single father, but at least other single parents never had to deal with talking cats invading their kitchen. « Oro!? » Kenshin yelped, dropping his briefcase in surprise.
« Please, Himura-san, there’s no time, » the cat begged, standing up on her hind legs as effortlessly as if she was designed to be bipedal. « I know this must seem very strange to you, and I apologize for the intrusion and for the trouble this must be causing you, but please. The longer your son remains in custody, the more concerned I grow for his safety–«
Kenshin’s eyes narrowed. « Kenji’s in danger? »
« Several fates for him are possible in my land, but I’m fairly sure that neither you nor he will be happy with any of them. »
Kenshin nodded, reaching to grasp a bokutô. « We’ll go now, then, and you can explain to me on the way– Um…. »
« Tomoe, » she offered, dropping back down to all fours and trotting for the door.
« Tomoe-san. This one cannot even begin to express his gratitude. »
« I am simply repaying the life debt I owe to Himura Kenji-san, » the cat said, stiffly enough that Kenshin smiled.
« And that is all there is to it, is there…? »
Earlier, on the way to school that morning:
Kenji was waiting for the light to change, idly wondering if he could get away with playing hooky again, when he noticed the cat. « What the…? »
She was trotting along the sidewalk with a package dangling from her mouth as naturally as if she was just another (really short) pedestrian.
« It’s a delivery cat! » Kenji laughed in astonished amusement. « So much for never being able to train a cat. » He watched with interest, oblivious to the changing light, as she actually looked both ways and then began to cross the street. « I want one, » he breathed, only half-jokingly.
She dropped the package.
Kenji didn’t notice the sudden painful tightening of his own grip, he was too riveted.
The cat struggled to retrieve her package from where it had fallen in the middle of the road, but she was having trouble picking up the ribbons she had been carrying it by.
This time, Kenji did notice the light change. « Hey–«
Traffic began moving again.
« Hey! »
She was finally able to resume her grip on the thing, and she took a few more steps toward the other side of the road, but it was too late.
Kenji flung himself across the street, the sound of screeching tires blasting in his ears as he seized the cat in his arms. Then they were crashing into an ornamental shrub growing on the sidewalk outside a shop, where Kenji lay dazed for a moment. He frowned, experimentally knocked his heel against the pavement, and realized that he’d lost a shoe. « Dang it. » He sat up and lost his breath again when he saw the cat standing on her hind legs, brushing herself off like there was absolutely nothing extraordinary about this display. « Holy…flaming…. »
Their eyes met. Kenji was frozen for a second, lost in the mesmerizing beauty of her gaze.
Then she bowed in thanks – bowed – and retrieved her package again.
She broke into a graceful run.
« Hold on! » Kenji snatched up his shoe from the curb and jammed his foot into it, then took off, hissing in pain when he found himself limping. « Stupid car…. »
He managed to find his gait soon enough, just in time to avoid losing the cat entirely. He followed her down the sidewalk, abruptly cut into a back alley, scaled the fence at the end of it, and nearly lost her again. « Wait! Please! »
She paused, just for a moment. She glanced back at him with an odd (and very human) look, half-compassionate and half-frightened. Then she took off again, faster than before.
« WAIT! » Kenji barreled after her, heedless of the yards he was cutting across in this quiet neighborhood. Down the street, nearly tripped over a bicycle sprawled on the sidewalk, narrow overgrown path between two houses, down a set of cracked steps, sharp turn to the left, holy CRAP what the–?!
Kenji tried to stop, but the incline was steep and he ended up falling flat on his face. He didn’t stay like that for long, because gravity and momentum and some weird third pulling sensation had conspired together and he was tumbling toward the shimmery cloud the cat had disappeared into– « Aaaahhhh…! »
Kenji opened his eyes and had approximately one second to be in awe of the gorgeous blue sky and beautifully turreted towers stretching up to it before the pain set in. « Urgh…. » Wincing, he gingerly rolled to his hands and knees. « I’m an idiot. » He was also surrounded, as he discovered upon getting to his feet. « Whoa! »
The cats, nervously keeping their distance, backed away even more, but their expressions of fear and anxiety were hardening into something uglier.
« What is it, Mama? » a tabby kitten asked curiously.
« It’s a monster, » the mother cat snapped. « Stay away from it. »
« Are you talking about me? » Kenji exclaimed indignantly. They all flinched at the sound of his voice, but then many of them settled into full-blown glares. « Who are you people?! » He couldn’t help calling them people. They all wore clothes, and some carried bags or baskets. Around them was a bustling city, with buildings and vehicles and citizens all about their business, the only difference being that everyone was feline instead of human. And all of them were his size – most taller than him, actually. « Look, I…I think I may have made a mistake, I–«
« The Guard approaches, » someone warned, and the crowd of hostile gawkers abruptly scattered.
Kenji frowned after them. « Hey– » Then he gasped as he was knocked down from behind.
« Got you, » someone snarled gleefully in his ear.
Kenji struggled to turn over. He managed it in the end, though it meant that the giant cat was now pinning him with one paw on his left arm and another pressed into his stomach, both tipped with not-entirely-sheathed claws.
« Get off, » Kenji gasped, finding it hard to speak with those curved blades so close to drawing blood.
« Trespasser, » the cat hissed, almost happily. « Monster. I’m taking you in. » The creature was pure white and almost luxuriously fluffy; it was also wearing glasses and dressed in a crisp uniform. Despite all this, it somehow managed to seem like the most dangerous thing Kenji had ever seen.
« No, wait, » he gasped desperately. « There’s been a mistake, I just need to go home now. »
The cat laughed as if he had told a hugely funny joke.
« Please! I didn’t mean to bother you guys or chase that– Ummmm, I just, um, I came here by accident, and I really–«
The cat suddenly dove at his face, and Kenji couldn’t help shrieking as he instinctively shut his eyes and turned his head aside.
The cat had licked him. Which was disgusting under the circumstances, but also, since that tongue was so much bigger and rougher than a normal cat’s, it hurt. Kenji’s left cheek tingled painfully, as if he’d scraped a handful of tacks over it. « D-Don’t…do that again…. »
« Human through and through, » the cat said with relish. « Are you coming quietly, or do I get to play with you? »
‘What are you, a freaking pedocat?’ « …Can I at least, like, have someone else arrest me? »
Kenji barely escaped the humiliation of being carried off by the collar as if he was a kitten. It was galling to have to walk into captivity of what felt like his own free will, but at least that was better than the alternative. ‘Note to self, think twice before jumping in front of oncoming traffic next time….’
Author’s Notes: Fluffy white pedocat was Enishi, of course. (Not literally a pedo, btw; it’s just that his cluelessness amuses me.) And Kenji gets rescued just like the heroine in the movie does, I wouldn’t leave the poor boy to get married off to a cat princess….
…I’m going to try really, really hard to not let Kenji ever say the full « Flaming pants. » *sweatdrop* And this will not be the first time Kingdom Hearts sneaks into this series, nope.