Title: Neko no Guukan [A Cat's
Pairing: Kaiba Seto x Mazaki Anzu
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh! (includes semi-spoilers for Yu-Gi-Oh! GX)
Theme: #29: the sound of waves
Disclaimer: Today's ficlet is brought to you by the suffix "-ing," as in "violating," "copyrighting," but also "forgiving" and "not suing."
Notes: This story was written just before Yu-Gi-Oh! GX started airing, as I recall, and I didn't know that the proper order (hierarchy) of the dorms was Obelisk-Ra-Osiris. Count on Kaiba to put the card he owned and used as the top representative of the best duelists, while Ra gets shunted into second. In any case, excusing that one minor glitch, please enjoy the story!
Pharaoh was a fat cat. There was no other way around it; the cat was abysmally large, but it wasn't because of overeating or a health defect; he was simply a large cat. No one seemed to mind the rotund feline either, because he always had a single place for himself: by the bay window in Professor Daitokuji's office.
Daitokuji's office was one of the nicest ones at Seto Kaiba's Duel Academia school, a private dueling academy set into the Pacific Ocean, away from the mainland. People had always joked that the one thing Seto Kaiba didn't own was an island of his very own; when Kaiba announced the opening of his Duel Academia on such an island, those people found themselves proved horribly wrong.
The entire academy was designed to have a spectacular view of the ocean, no matter which direction you faced.
The Northern side of the campus housed the many academic offices, such as those of Professor Daitokuji, the dorm supervisors, and the Dean of Students, Sameshima. The northern tower of the main complex extended further up than any of the other buildings, because the top floor was dedicated to the founder of the school— who rarely, if ever, was present (and when he was, he never announced it).
The Southern part of campus housed the elite Ra dorms, for the most skilled and talented of duelists. They liked to call themselves "the Golden Duelists," but their sour-faced schoolmates, placed in the second-class Obelisk Blue dorms or the third-class Osiris Red dorms liked to call them "the Yellow Bellies." These were the most well-decorated and largest of the dorms, and as a result, most of the richer duelists found themselves in Ra, simply because they were used to such posh treatment and they demanded nothing less.
The Western side of Duel Academia housed the Obelisk Blue dorms, while the Eastern side lay claim to the duelists in the Osiris Red dorms. These directions had been chosed for a specific reason; not just to give certain duelists a better view of the sunrise or the sunset, but because each direction supposedly corresponded somehow to the God Card that named the dorms. Since there was no fourth God Card, the Northern quarter of Duel Academia lay reserved for the teachers and other faculty members.
Pharaoh the Cat was no faculty member, but he certainly enjoyed the privileges of one. The expansive, round office on the Northern edge of campus had a beautiful crescent-shaped window seat on which Pharaoh made his home, with a sometimes-view of the mainland, often shrouded by low fog, to the West, along with incredible sunsets; a glimpse of the Eastern sunrise and the seemingly never-ending ocean, and the North, where one could make out the island's supposedly active volcano and thick, lush forests.
Pharaoh liked the view. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he liked the view of the ocean and trees much more than say, the view of his litterbox. For some reason, he didn't like the gritty sand very much, and he avoided the litterbox whenever possible. As a result, Daitokuji often mused that his cat was actually a human stuck in a cat's body, and would probably be one of Japan's first cats to use a toilet.
One day in the late winter, just before the new term was to start, Pharaoh emerged from the restroom connected with Daitokuji's office and found himself staring at a pair of legs that most certainly did not belong to his owner.
They didn't smell like anyone who'd ever come into Daitokuji's office before either— people that Pharaoh could actually associate with names. There was the supervisor of the Obelisk Blue dorm, Emi Ayukawa; there was the lanky girl with dirty blonde hair, Asuka Tenjoin, Tome, the school's card store staffer… truthfully, there were few females in the school, faculty or students, and whoever this was certainly didn't have the smell of the school about her.
That could only mean one thing: she was NEW.
Pharaoh liked new things, and so he trotted at his usual slow pace toward the legs, even as they shifted nervously in their chair. Unfortunately, Pharaoh's largesse made it hard for him to crane his neck upward; he managed to spy more legs and a pair of manicured nails absently stroking the armrests, but nothing more. If he wanted a good look at the woman's face, he would have to get to his place near the window.
Aah, the window— but if he went there, the sound of the waves might lull him to sleep. That happened a lot. Pharaoh didn't mind though. That was his day: sleep, eat, go to the bathroom, sniff around a bit, get a pat or two from any visitors to the office, and sleep some more. A good, long nap always made Pharaoh hungry, but he had no appetite for food now. He just wanted to see why this woman with the new smell was crossing and uncrossing her legs, and making little scratching noises with her own "claws."
At last, Pharaoh heard a new noise, and a familiar smell wafted into his nose: Daitokuji.
"Ah, excuse me Mazaki-san— I hope you weren't waiting too long." Daitokuji took several long strides toward the woman, who stood up and shook the professor's hand.
"Oh, Pharaoh— have you met Mazaki-san?" Daitokuji smiled at his cat from behind his frameless, rectangular glasses. Pharaoh just barely opened his narrowed eyes, which looked perpetually squinted, and saw "Mazaki-san's" face for the first time.
Daitokuji looked far more surprised than Mazaki did, but that was only because he knew Pharaoh RARELY made a sound. In fact, he made more noise eating than he ever did using any portion of his vocal cords. However, being a human, Daitokuji had no idea just why his fat cat had made the noise he did. The truth was, his cat had experienced something humans so, however rarely: an epiphany.
Pharaoh didn't just recognize those legs or those hands, and there was a reason why Mazaki smelled so fresh and new, but somehow, someway, so familiar.
It was all a great jumble mixed up with the smell of his fish-flavored food and the sound of the waves echoing through the windows, and far too much for Pharaoh's cat-sized brain to process at once. But… he knew Mazaki.
The woman bent down and kindly stroked Pharaoh behind the ears, and then moved her hand to scratch him under the chin. Pharaoh couldn't help himself; he started to purr. Daitokuji looked even more astonished than he did before, but he cleared his throat and the expression of surprise on his face vanished altogether.
"Mazaki-san, I suppose we should get to the interview now—" Daitokuji began. This prompted Mazaki to rise to her feet, but a voice prevented either Daitokuji or Mazaki from saying anything further.
"That won't be necessary."
All eyes, including Pharaoh's, turned to the source of the voice, but only Daitokuji and Mazaki were capable of the human noise known as "gasping." In both of their cases, the sound was light, probably undetectable by human ears, but Pharaoh was a cat, and he had excellent hearing.
"Kaiba-sama, how unusual -and fortunate- that you should arrive now," Daitokuji smiled. He had an odd, knowing sort of smile, one that often unnerved people -and Pharaoh. With the sudden rush and junble of thoughts in his tiny cat mind, Pharaoh wondered just how much Daitokuji really knew about "Mazaki" and this Duel Academia after all.
And then there was silence— at least, almost silence. It wasn't absolute, for Pharaoh's tawny-colored ears perked in the general direction of the window -their "home"- and the sound of the waves, crashing relentlessly against the shore.
"Ah, if you'd like to conduct the last portion of Mazaki-san's interview, please feel free, Kaiba-sama," Daitokuji said at last, his expression amicable. Kaiba only nodded curtly, a signal for Daitokuji to leave the room— and he did.
Pharaoh, on the other hand, stayed unnoticed, and so he continued to watch Mazaki and Kaiba from the floor. However, his thick neck started to ache after a few minutes, and so, possessing the stealth that all cats inexplicably do, he made his way slowly over to the bay window and he sat on the plush cushion atop the crescent seat.
But on this day, unlike all other days, he sat facing Daitokuji's office, rather than the endless blue of the ocean.
It was Kaiba who broke the "not-silence" first.
"Why did you come here?"
"For a job, obviously," Mazaki explained in a strained voice. She smiled wanly, a smile not that far removed from the odd one Pharaoh was used to seeing on Daitokuji's face. But he had the feeling the expression meant something entirely different in the here and now.
"…What happened to dancing?"
Mazaki sucked in a breath and let it out in a soft sigh. "It didn't work out. Simple as that."
Kaiba looked as though he wanted to press the issue further, and ask her why it didn't work out— the words almost looked like they would tumble from his lips, but he stopped himself at the last moment and kept quiet, perhaps contemplating something different to ask.
Rather than say what most people might in that sort of situation, such as "Why not?" or "Because," Mazaki blurted something that caused a rather amusing expression of shock to cross Kaiba's face.
"Is there a problem with me wanting to be close to you?"
It was then that Pharaoh wondered why the two of them didn't bother to sit down. They were both still standing up, practically staring at each other while somehow avoiding each others' gazes at the same time. Didn't their legs get tired?
Pharaoh was starting to get sleepy. The sound of the waves was lulling him, lulling him… He knew there was something important about all this— about the names and the faces and the smells. There was some connection between these people, Daitokuji's odd smiles, and the memories -yes, he was sure they were MEMORIES- Pharaoh remembered upon seeing Mazaki's face for the first time. And Kaiba's, as well…
But the two of them stopped talking, so there didn't seem to be any more to listen to. Pharaoh fought the urge to close his squinting eyes, once, twice… but at last, he gave in, and drifted into a deep sleep.
What the fat
cat missed needed no audible words to have meaning:
Tears slipped from Mazaki's eyes.
Kaiba took a step forward, hesitant, unsure.
Mazaki bowed her head and hiccuped softly, her cheeks stained red from embarrassment.
Kaiba frowned for a moment, swallowed a lump in his throat, and reached out to tilt Mazaki's chin up.
She looked at him, surprised and astonished -sorry, too, because she kept crying- and closed her eyes to try and flush out more tears.
In the moment it took for her to blink, Kaiba kissed her.
Pharaoh the cat rolled onto his side and purred in his sleep, dreaming of deep oceans and fresh fish. Even with all the strangeness of this place… it was a happy time.