Disclaimers: All belongs to Clamp. Hail Clamp. Pay Clamp. Don't pay Circe.
Dedications: To all the pregnant cats out there. And Chelle. Even if she isn't a pregnant cat. Oh, and Wei-san. That lying bastard.
Morals, Mange, and Misadventures in Male Bonding
Li Syaoran sat at his desk and ticked off the day's homework. He'd finished his Math and Science, his book report had been proofread and fixed, he'd studied for his Japanese exam, but probably should again in the mo…
"Noraneko-chan, that is my Maths paper." He sighed as the fat gray and white cat blinked at him. "Move, Noraneko." His cat blinked lazily at him and remained where it was. Its tail twitched but he wouldn't have called that 'moving,' though the cat probably did. With a long-suffering sigh and the ease of long practice, Syaoran picked her up by the scruff of the neck. He'd seen Meilin do it once, the night of the Big and the Create--also known as the day Noraneko-chan had followed him home and summarily moved in-- and it had made the cat go limp and still. He found it fascinating and occasionally (okay, more than occasionally) after that he'd picked the cat up just to watch it hang motionless and docile from his hands. It was a very, very cool trick in his opinion and one of the reasons he loved the cat, despite what he often said to the contrary.
But something was different this time. Something was odd and wrong. Noraneko-chan was not completely still. Nor was she moving. Just her stomach was. Sharply, from side to side and then still again. Syaoran blinked and carefully put her down. Noraneko-chan curled up on his school hat. He picked her, carefully, back up and watched as her stomach moved again, independently from the rest of her body. He put her back on his hat and watched her for five full minutes. He picked her up and watched her stomach as one might watch the bright-red LED display on a ticking time bomb. It moved. It positively rolled. Noraneko-chan meowed.
"Wei! Wei, something is wrong with the cat!" He cried, hugging the cat to his chest and rushing out of his room to find his guardian.
"Meow." Said the cat in question.
+ + +
Kinomoto Touya was staring at the phone with a vague, formless dislike when it rang. It wasn't unexpected; call it a hunch. And he was both glad that his little sister was at a doctor's appointment—because it meant that the Gaki he was certain was on the line couldn't talk to her—and mad that Sakura wasn't around because that meant that he had to talk to the Gaki. The phone rang again, completely ignoring Touya's heated glare.
"What do you want, Brat?" He snapped, picking up the phone.
"Sakura-chan, please." The Brat in question requested, also ignoring Touya. Touya smiled. Oh, it was his pleasure.
"Sakura isn't here, dumb-ass." He said politely and made to hang up. The next words stopped him cold.
"Tell her, please, that the doctor just called. She was right. She's pregnant." The Brat sounded shell-shocked.
"Syaoran-sama," Said a new voice in the background, "it's time for the medicine." And the Brat hung up without another word. Kinomoto Touya was left staring speechless at the phone.
He grabbed his jacket and his bike with quick, economical, very angry motions. There were going to be some answers, dammit, and some serious hell to pay.
And if, Touya reflected as he thunder-clouded his way to Li Syaoran's door, if he'd thought that the long ride over was going to cool him down, well, he'd obviously had another think coming.
"Brat!" He snarled, pounding on the door. "Come out, Brat, and face me like a man!" He drew back, ready to break the door down (five seconds was more than enough time to open a freaking door, dammit) when the door opened to reveal a pleasant faced old man. Who offered him a pair of house-slippers, a seat on a plush sofa, and supplied him with lemonade and an ice pack for his sore hand.
"If you'll wait a moment, Kinomoto-san—was it? If you'll please wait a moment, I'll fetch Syaoran-sama for you."
"I'm going to kick his ass." Touya warned him. The old man patted him on the head (the head! Like he was two!) and smiled.
"I'm sure you'll both do admirably."
+ + +
"I'm going to go to the Market to get ingredients for pie." Syaoran was told at the front door, though why Wei felt in necessary to buy more ingredients was a mystery, because the kitchen was fully stocked. "You boys have a nice time and" and here Wei included both Syaoran and Kinomoto Touya who was still sitting in the living room, "clean-up when you're finished. Mind the pot of flowers in the corner."
"Yes, Wei!" They chorused. Syaoran waved as his mentor left, well, he waved as much as he could, considering the wiggling, meowing cat in his arms. He turned and walked right into a very solid left jab from Touya.
"Wait!" He shouted (shrieked, actually) as he landed on his butt on the floor. "Wait!" He scrabbled to the nearest chair and deposited his cat gently. "Noraneko-chan," he addressed her firmly, "Stay here. HERE. Don't move. And don't get too excited or upset." He nuzzled her fur. "Good Noraneko-chan." He murmured as he stood and sent a back-heel kick straight to Touya's solar plexus. Kinomoto-san objected to that, he thought, because the next thing he knew, Touya had shoved him down to kiss the floorboards.
"Dirty trick, Brat…pretending to be worried for that flea-bitten mangy cat." Touya grunted as Syaoran knocked his feet out from under him. "I suppose," Touya muttered as Li managed to duck a kick to the head which toppled a ceramic vase, shattering it, "it's 'whatever works' for you, isn't it?" It was Syaoran's turn to miss kicking Kinomoto in the head, and a picture of his mother, sisters and Meilin ended up in the (mercifully cold) fireplace.
"Baka!" Syaoran yelled (in part because his arm had just gone numb from a neatly place kick) "I am worried about my cat! And the fleas are all gone!
"Oh yeah?" Touya wheezed as a sharp, open palm nearly made his knee bend in the opposite direction.
"Yes." He muttered as he bruised his ankle sliding under the couch to escape a punch to the kidney. "Noraneko-chan is…(oh, how to phrase it…) in a delicate condition." Syaoran dove under the chair as Touya upset the couch. He expected the chair to go next, but it didn't. He tipped it, carefully, himself and stood up.
"The cat is pregnant?" Touya was sitting on the remains of the coffee table.
Syaoran stiffened. Coming over to start a fight was one thing. That was fine, reasonable, normal even; but questioning his cat's morals…oh hell no. "It's not polite to talk about it but, yes. Noraneko-chan was taken advantage of and is in the family way." Syaoran glared. 'Go ahead' it said 'laugh.'
+ + +
"The cat?" He laughed again, falling back onto the ripped carpet. He hit his head on the phone receiver, but didn't notice. It was the cat. He laughed again in relief. "Jeez, that mangy, ugly cat is pregnant." The Brat glared at him.
"She doesn't have mange, either." He stated icily. Touya laughed harder. "It isn't funny." The Brat told him, seriously. "She's with child. A…a…a single mother!" He sounded vaguely scandalized.
Touya turned his head to study the Brat, who'd picked up the still-meowing cat and was stroking it soothingly. So. So the kid had a thing for his cat. Sakura loved the Plushie and that thing was annoying. Did nothing but eat and sleep and play video games all day. It was a wonder that Yue-san hadn't killed it years ago. So Touya understood the kid's 'insulted on the cat's behalf' thing. He decided against giving the Brat a hard time about it.
"I thought it was Sakura." He explained/apologized. "Where's your broom?"
"Broom? Dustpan? Broken stuff all over the room? Old guy?" Touya gestured as he spoke. The Brat stared at him.
"Sakura!?" The kid yelped.
+ + +
"You thought…and I…and you…and…and…Sakura!?" Syaoran had the unpleasant feeling that he was gaping like a fish. He was also afraid that he was squishing his cat.
"Sakura was at the doctor when you called. What would you have thought?" Touya, he thought, was laughing at him. It was time to get his own in.
"I would have thought 'How did Touya manage to get Yukito pregnant?" I guess." He answered and carried Noraneko-chan, who was meowing with a loud, fevered intensity, to the kitchen. "The broom is in here." Syaoran said as he put his cat down by her water bowl and food.
But Touya didn't go for the broom. Instead he stared at the madly pacing, wailing cat. Staring at it seemed like a good idea, so Syaoran followed suit.
"Wow, the fight really upset her. She's never been this upset. Not even when the Big card made her HUGE." He stated eyes wide.
Touya's eyes narrowed in thought. "When is she due?"
Syaoran blinked. "The doctor said 'any day now'. Why?" Then the horrific thought of 'why' exactly popped into his head. "You don't think…" He mumbled weakly.
Touya nodded. "That's the problem. I do."
+ + +
They did as men, trained in the calming, focusing influence of martial arts and inured of magic and juggling a million part time jobs, will do when faced with a gravid female in the advanced stages of giving birth.
They freaked out and settled in for a long bout of active panic.
In fact, they were only called to their senses two blocks away from Syaoran's apartment (after backtracking five from the direction of the hospital which, despite Noraneko-chan's appreciation of human comfort, would most likely not admit her) while on their way to the animal hospital.
Tomoyo-san was coming on her way home from a trip to the fabric store when she, quite literally, ran into Syaoran and Touya carrying a large box between them. Seeing the two men working together made her freeze in her tracks.
Eriol-kun had been sitting in a tree contemplating all sorts of mischief when he watched the run-in occur. Both Li-kun and Kinomoto-san looked slightly frantic. It was sufficiently interesting enough for him to come down. So he did.
+ + +
"Tomoyo-san, really, we have to get moving. This is very important." Touya said edgily. They had to get moving.
"Yeah, Tomoyo-san…" Syaoran agreed. "We don't have much time." He began to edge around her.
Eriol stepped into his way. "Perhaps I can give you guys a hand with the box?" He placed his hands in the middle. "New refrigerator, huh?"
"I don't believe so, Hiiragizawa-kun." Tomoyo said. "The box is meowing." She pointed out.
Touya kicked out at Eriol's legs. "We have to GET GOING." He barked out.
"This is an EMERGENCY!" Syaoran confirmed. They used the meowing box to shove Hiiragizawa over.
Tomoyo stopped their forward progress by stepping in front of them. Emergency or no, they weren't going to push over a girl. Especially not a Daidouji.
"What's going on?" She asked politely. Her voice was polite, anyway. Her smile was a little sharp around the edges. Without waiting for an answer, she flipped open the hole they'd cut into the side of the box.
"Why do you have a cat in a box?" Eriol asked, peering in.
"Why do you have a cat in a box when it's about to have kittens?" Tomoyo asked.
"Because she's having kittens." Syaoran told her. "We need to get her to the animal hospital RIGHT NOW!" He bellowed when they didn't move.
"Why?" The two dark-haired teenagers asked, confused.
"Because," Touya sighed impatiently. "Pregnant things need to go to the hospital to have babies." They blinked at him. "MOVE!" He told them and made ready to knock them down, Daidouji girl or no.
"Cat's don't have babies at the hospital." Eriol told him, in a voice usually reserved for explaining things to very slow children. "They have babies in your bed, or on your shoes. If you're lucky, they have 'em in the bathtub."
"They'd DROWN!" Syaoran exclaimed, horrified.
Tomoyo patted his arm soothingly. "No, no Li-kun. Cats only give birth in empty bathtubs. It's alright."
"That's right. Not at the hospital." Eriol confirmed with a cheery grin. Touya attempted to kick him again. This was NOT a laughing matter.
"Cats," Tomoyo continued in her calm, cool voice, "like to give birth at home, in places where they feel safe and comfortable."
"Really?" Syaoran's voice wavered with emotion.
"Really." Eriol smirked. "Which probably means 'not in a box crammed with four pillows, a blanket and a hot-water bottle'."
"She likes the hot-water bottle." Touya said angrily, carefully hiding the butterscotch pudding cup from Eriol's ridicule.
"I'm sure she does." Tomoyo pacified. "But she probably wants to go home to have her kittens."
"Okay." Syaoran's eyes were suspiciously misty. "Okay, Noraneko-chan, let's get you home to have your babies."
"Everything is going to be alright." Touya added gently, closing the makeshift lid on the box.
"Ah, the miracle of life." Eriol added as they maneuvered their way back to Syaoran's apartment. "Where is Wei-san?"
+ + +
Touya, Syaoran, Eriol and Tomoyo settled in to watch the miracle of life and birth and motherhood with all the attendant respect.
"Oh, ew! What's that!?"
"Forget that, what the hell is that!?"
"It's a kitten, Li-kun." Calm, soothing, hand on his shoulder.
"And so is the other, Kinomoto-san." General amusement.
"THAT isn't." Utter, utter certainty.
"She's eating it! Your cat is a cannibal, Li!"
"Noraneko-chan, NO! That's your baby! Your BABY! Bad Noraneko-chan!"
"She's not eating it." Laughing reassurance.
"Sit down, Li-kun." Placid, gentle voice. "She's cleaning it. It's normal."
"The HELL it is!" A duet of shock and disbelief. That couldn't be normal.
"Kinomoto-san, are you alright? Kinomoto-san!"
"The bathroom is on the left, Touya-san."
"Li-kun, are you alright? You seem a little…oh. Well then."
"Eriol-kun, you seem alright." Amusement now.
A shrug. "I've seen Nakuru do worse."
+ + +
"They're beautiful…" Syaoran breathed in awe.
"Look how tiny and precious and sweet they are." Touya agreed, slinging an arm around Syaoran.
"See how good Noraneko-chan is with them?" He asked. "I couldn't have done it without you." Syaoran told Touya, returning the one-armed hug.
"You didn't do anything." Eriol reminded them. "You were in the bathroom, heaving."
"I don't suppose you've lined up homes for them, have you?" Tomoyo interrupted before either Li or Kinomoto could hit Hiiragizawa.
"Homes?" Syaoran blinked. "They live here."
"You can't have six cats, Li-kun."
"I'll take one." Eriol offered. "Spinel's been asking for a pet."
"I can take one too." Tomoyo added.
"Syaoran-kun said I get first pick!" Touya told them, authoritatively. "I'm their uncle."