Kubota likes games and novelty. Keeping a cat is a game of a different sort, and always novel, if sometimes painful. Spoilers up to volume 5.
was a simple enough matter, and just got easier as time went by. The cat readily accepted food from Shouta, even though it was obviously prepared by Kubota, and needed a food taster only for the first few times Kubota fed him. This, he decided, was not so much because the cat was suspicious of the food as the fact that seeing Kubota eat his food startled and confused him, distracting him from his wariness of Kubota. And possibly a little anxiety that Kubota might eat all of it, after one unfortunate occasion when Kubota had been trying out a new brand of ready-to-eat curry (extra spicy with apple chunks) and kept absent-mindedly tasting it, trying to decide if it was too spicy to feed to the cat. He'd had to run down to the 7-11 to buy more, leaving the cat to sniff the nearly empty pot hungrily.
(The first time Tokito helped Kubota make curry, Tokito kept staring at Kubota while he cut vegetables and added packets of curry mix, and that resulted in the infamous Pot of Neverending Curry which they couldn't finish and Kubota got thoroughly sick of after four days. Kubota privately swore off curry for a long time afterwards. Fortunately, it was easy enough to distract Tokito from longing thoughts of curry with suggestions of other foods. Pizza, burgers, ramen, okonomiyaki; everything was good to Tokito.)
helped a lot, mostly. Kubota found his PlayStation was useful in more than one way -- playing games took Kubota's (apparent) attention off the cat, which helped him relax. The cat proved fascinated by the bright colors, tinny synthesized music and flashing lights as well, creeping up close behind him to watch and jumping at especially loud explosions. For some reason, the cat reacted very badly to the zombies and infected animals in Biohazard and Kubota had to return it after only one day, but The Raiden Project was an especial hit and quickly wiped out any negative associations the cat might have formed of the PlayStation -- he stared at the TV with unblinking eyes while Kubota made the little plane weave through impossibly dense hails of enemy bullets and filled the screen with missiles and laser fire. Once the cat started playing as well, he went through nearly more controllers than Kubota could really afford, trying to imitate Kubota's stunts.
(Kubota had mixed feelings about introducing Tokito to /Tekken/, however. The game was an old favorite of his, to be sure, and Tokito loved it as well, but Tokito unconsciously picked up a few new moves playing it. That got old really fast when Tokito got one of his nightmares and woke up not knowing who or where he was. It was probably only luck that kept Kubota from getting any more broken bones.)
proved more than a little dicey overall, in unexpected ways. Awake, the cat was unpredictable. Sleeping was easy. Once the cat got over his instinctive desire to run and hide, he could fall asleep anywhere, and an unconscious cat was a warm and fairly quiet companion that wanted, quite emphatically, to cuddle and be cuddled. Kubota got used to it perforce, but it made for some extremely tense mornings. Inevitably, there was yelling and flailing, followed by muttered accusations of perversion and suspicious stares that made the back of his neck prickle for the rest of the day until the cat fell asleep again and then the cycle started over.
This became even more awkward after the cat broke Kubota's arm and Shouta stopped visiting at the same time. Minor bumps and bruises were easy enough to shrug off, while bites and scratches made for good teasing material, and Kubota found he didn't really care that Tokito sometimes rolled right on top of him while yelling and trying to untangle himself. But the broken arm brought distant, guilty silences and painful stiffening in the morning, until he hit upon the expedient of guilting Tokito into doing all sorts of petty chores for him, which distracted and annoyed Tokito out of feeling guilty and also took considerable strain off his arm. By the time Kubota's arm healed, they had worked out an acceptable division of chores and sleeping arrangements that did not cause Tokito too much embarrassment and spared Kubota waking with one or another limb stiff and asleep.
(Once, Tokito fell off the bed and Minoru woke up. Kubota spent most of that day sitting on the floor with his good arm slung over his lost kitten and looking at the bare walls while the kitten rocked and fisted his sweater out of shape with his face buried in Kubota's stomach, his clawed hand kneading Kubota's thigh as if independent of the whole. Tokito did not remember the incident, and Kubota never mentions it . But he watches Tokito's hand, and wonders.)
Vets and Other Visitors
, the few they had -- Kubota being not much of a social animal himself -- were generally more miss-than-hit. Tokito liked Shouta, disliked Kou when he brought medicine and bandages for either of them, and bristled even more when Kou brought snacks or nothing. He remained wary and touchy around Kasai as well, but mostly because of Kasai's brand of rough affection, which was no respecter of traumas or personal space. When they started going out regularly, Tokito was initially wary and aloof towards the people they met, but warmed to some of them. Tokito did not lie with words or body. Yet --
And then things got complicated. (Neither lawful nor criminal elements seemed to like Kubota, for some reason. It was inconvenient, frequently so.) Shouta went away. Tokito demonstrated a vested interest in keeping Kubota around. Tokito could even seem jealous of his time and attention. But did Tokito trust or, dare he say, like him? He couldn't tell. Kubota knew Tokito depended on him. The dependency complicated things, but it was enough.
(Tokito was honest by nature. Kubota was not. Funny how that works out. There is no anecdote or defining incident for this. Eventually they will figure out that the answer was yes, and vice versa.)
(This is not an ending)
Written for scribblemoose for yuletide 2007.