A/N – it's been quite some time since I've actually written anything, but tonight I finally felt inspired. Hopefully this means my dry spell will be ending and I can pick up older projects, and maybe a few more one-shots for this particular project… I didn't originally plan to do a series of one-shots based on these characters, but I think it might actually be fitting to keep adding them here until more people begin adding to the genre.
Shoutarou was an idiot.
Only an idiot would be hiding behind a bush at two in the morning.
Only an idiot would have canceled a date with the scandalously beautiful Emilie of France at the last minute.
Only an idiot would think his assistant more important than his job despite the number of times she had almost gotten him killed.
And only an idiot would be staring at said assistant as she dozed on his shoulder thinking she actually appeared kissable.
Apparently Shoutarou was sleep deprived as well.
He stifled a groan, forcing his eyes away from Momoko. He couldn't be thinking of her that way. It was wrong. Momoko was… well, Momoko was Momoko. She could honestly be her own definition in a naming dictionary.
A soft snort made Shoutarou glance back down at the brown head dozing on his shoulder. Was that drool he spied coming out of the corner of her mouth? Shoutarou leaned closer and decided that it was. He made a face at the discovery. She was going to ruin his sweater, the sweater he had chosen specifically for his now-cancelled date tonight.
Shoutarou really was an idiot.
He had been planning this date for weeks. He had come across Emilie in a café, had engaged her in conversation, and after a heavy duty charm offensive, had finally gotten her to agree to have dinner with him tonight. Shoutarou had it all planned, too. Dinner with music at an upscale restaurant – it would have been perfect. Emilie would have been awed, and Shoutarou would have another pretty face to parade around on his arm for all of Japan to see.
But that dream had been cruelly dashed earlier in the day by a single phone call. It had been Momoko. She had nearly taken his eardrum out when she had started speaking, her words tripping over each other in her hurry to tell him what was going on. Shoutarou had pieced together the situation as best he could, though most of what he could recall had to do with the words "emergency" and someone named "Ken".
Normally Shoutarou would have told her he didn't understand a word she was saying, hiss into the phone like it was breaking up, and hang up on Momoko. But he hadn't done that today, and for that he was an idiot.
Only an idiot would have told her to calm down and stay where she was so he could go get her.
Only an idiot would have dialed his date as he was running across the city, cancelling his date because something important had come up.
And only an idiot would be allowing his eyes to keep falling down to the slumbering figure of the one woman he didn't understand as though he was entranced with her.
That was a bad sign.
Shoutarou tried to shift his weight, but considering he was already in an uncomfortable squatting position, and given that Momoko was asleep on his shoulder, her entire body leaning into his side now, it was probably understandable that he ended up cursing at himself and falling over.
That woke Momoko up. She blinked herself awake, and managed to avoid falling with Shoutarou. Muttering under his breath, Shoutarou glanced up as she glanced down. "You knocked me over," he said.
"Huh? Did I fall asleep?" Momoko appeared panicked, her eyes widening as she glanced around. "Oh no! What if I missed it? I have to save Ken!"
Shoutarou grumbled, a bit put out that Momoko wasn't concerned over his well being. He shot her a dark look, deciding that the kissable stage had been a passing one, and that it had been the result of sleep deprivation. She certainly didn't seem very kissable now; she was actually back to her usual self – annoying. Pushing himself back up, Shoutarou patted his leg to try and wake it up. It had fallen asleep, and the tingling sensation was getting to him. He was about to complain when Momoko brought a hand down on his, stopping him mid-smack. Glancing up he saw her giving him a shake of her head. Then she removed her hand and went back to peering through the bush they were hidden behind.
He would be an idiot if he let her tell him what to do like that, but Shoutarou couldn't seem to get his hands to function again. Instead he silently stretched out his leg, barely avoiding it kicking Momoko, and waited for something to do. He wasn't entirely sure what his part in this particular mission was going to be. Momoko hadn't really explained anything other than saying they had to rescue this Ken fellow before tragedy struck.
Minutes passed, but it seemed more like hours. Shoutarou could feel himself beginning to doze again. He probably would have fallen asleep if Momoko hadn't shot back her hand to hit him, knocking him flat on his butt. He opened his mouth to say something, but Momoko wasn't even looking at him. Instead, she was using her hand to motion for him to come by her side. Shoutarou shut his mouth and forced himself onto his knees, crawling over to where Momoko was. He suspected that she had seen Ken, and sure enough, when he peered through the bushes, he spotted a pudgy looking man with a bundle of towels in his arm standing in front of the building they were staked in front of.
Shoutarou frowned. He didn't see any signs of danger looming around, but then again, Momoko was usually able to show up at a scene before anything actually happened. Given the late hour, or early if one really wanted to be picky about it, Shoutarou could only imagine the possible dangers awaiting this Ken fellow. As Shoutarou studied Ken, he began to suspect that maybe whatever trouble he was in, was of his own doing. Ken certainly seemed to be glancing around furtively, like he was waiting for someone to meet him.
Instinctively, Shoutarou tapped Momoko on the shoulder, waiting for her to actually look up at him so he could speak. When she did, he asked, "Shouldn't we call the cops this time?"
"Don't be silly," replied Momoko, her attention returning back to Ken. "We just have to save Ken."
"Oh." Shoutarou was at a loss as to what to really say to that. This whole situation was starting to make him uneasy. He waited another moment, and then tapped her on the shoulder again. As soon as she looked at him, he asked another question. "What are we saving him from?"
Momoko seemed to blink in surprise at the question. Shoutarou grew more concerned. Something was wrong here, but he simply couldn't put his finger on it. He could only think just how much of an idiot he truly was for not having gotten more details out of Momoko before cancelling his date for the evening. If her version of saving someone was merely stalking them, Shoutarou was going to strangle her.
After several more minutes passed, Momoko finally said, "Death."
Shoutarou felt his eyes bulge at her response. He was now feeling like an idiot for not having called the cops himself. What did Momoko think he was? A superhero? He couldn't just swoop in and save someone from dying? He had no powers – he couldn't even wield a gun! What was he supposed to do to save Ken? He was going to point this out, and maybe ask Momoko if she had hit her head and was this why she wasn't thinking things through clearly, but her attention had reverted back to Ken again. Shoutarou made a face. He simply hated being ignored.
He didn't know what else to do, or say, so he lapsed into silence. In his mind he was trying to come up with a reason why he should leave, but for some reason he simply couldn't come up with anything. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that his eyes were staring at the back of Momoko, taking in the slender build she possessed. When she was quiet, and not making all those goofy, airhead faces she made, she was actually quite attractive.
Shoutarou blinked when he realized what he had just thought. He groaned inwardly, only making the slightest of sounds. It didn't matter. Momoko didn't seem to pay him any attention. That was probably a good thing. Shoutarou wasn't sure he could explain what was wrong with him if she asked. But in a small way, it bothered him that she wasn't paying him any attention. Was this Ken fellow really that important?
Almost instantly Shoutarou forgot what he had been groaning about and peered through the bushes. Ken wasn't a very attractive man. He was pudgy, his hair was messy, and his clothing was wrinkled. And he was old.
Yes, he was definitely old. Shoutarou nodded to himself, as though this confirmation settled everything. Momoko simply could not be attracted to Ken. He wasn't sure why this made him feel better, and he decided he would rather not dwell on it. Sleep deprivation was cruel enough without adding hallucinations.
A car pulled up in front of the building, obscuring the view of Ken from the bushes. Shoutarou was about to ask if this was significant when Momoko hopped to her feet and let out what might have been a battle cry had this been an actual battle. Shoutarou was so startled he fell backward for the third time that night. He didn't dwell on this for long, though. Within seconds he was scrambling onto his feet and going after Momoko.
He couldn't really explain why he did that. It was simply a tightening in his chest that made him act. It was like it was squeezing all the air out of his lungs, along with a rushing in his ears. He heard nothing else but Momoko's battle cry; his eyes didn't see anything but her – it was a focus so great, that his mind didn't fully take in what was happening.
He didn't notice the surprised expressions on Ken's face, and that of another man dressed in a white overcoat as they stopped mid-conversation to stare at Momoko. Shoutarou didn't even see the bumper sticker on the back window of the car as he passed by it. And he definitely didn't notice the moving bundle in Ken's arms until Momoko was practically on top of the man, grabbing the bundle out of his arms.
"You can't have him!" she exclaimed, pressing the bundle of towels to her chest.
Shoutarou stopped short. He glanced between the two men, finally noticing their bewildered expressions, and then back to Momoko, slightly awed by the fierce look in her eyes. He honestly had no idea what was going on.
Ken spoke first. "Come again?"
"You can't have Ken," stated Momoko, her voice more firm than ever.
Shoutarou glanced at Momoko sharply. "Ken? I thought this guy was Ken."
The man whom Shoutarou had assumed was Ken blinked. "Ken?" he repeated. "No, no, I am Fujii Mamoru. I am not Ken."
Shoutarou then glanced at the other man. He too shook his head, saying as he did so, "Umino Shinji. I am a veterinarian at this clinic."
It began to make sense after that. Shoutarou felt his mouth fall open slightly in surprise, his eyes going up to read the lettering on the sign on the door. A veterinary clinic. His eyes then moved back to Momoko, still clutching the bundle of towels to her chest. All too easily, he was now piecing everything together.
Gently, Shoutarou reached out a hand toward the towels, removing part of the top one to see what exactly Momko held. His eyes met two green ones, staring back at him balefully.
"A cat. Ken is a cat." Shoutarou took this in as he replaced the towel atop the cat's head, his eyes going down to Momoko. She was clearly avoiding his gaze now. "You called me to help you rescue a cat?" he asked reproachfully. He had cancelled his date for a cat. Of all the stupid, idiotic things to do!
Momoko, for her part, was silent a moment longer. Then she sniffed. Shoutarou's eyes widened. She wasn't really going to cry right now, was she? He glanced wildly at Dr. Umino and Fujii-san, but both men seemed to feel just as out of place as Shoutarou did. They each took a step back, leaving Shoutarou the closest one to Momoko.
Shoutarou reached toward Momoko awkwardly before finally patting her atop the head. "There, there … you don't have to cry," he said after a moment, his words sounding rather strained.
"I'm so sorry!" wailed Momoko, flinging herself into his arms. Shoutarou could feel his eyes widening even more, his arms frozen awkwardly at his side in the air. He hadn't expected this, and judging by the expressions on the other two men's faces, neither had they. Shoutarou could feel a new feeling welling up inside him, and this was one he recognized: panic.
Momoko continued. "I've been feeding Ken at my apartment for a few weeks. I knew I shouldn't, because I'm not allowed to have a cat there, but he was so skinny, and he was crying! I gave him milk and tuna, and he came back every day, so I gave him more. I thought he could just stay outside and I could feed him there. But then last week he stopped coming, and I got worried. So I started looking for him, and I started looking at ads in the paper, and I finally found someone that put an ad saying a cat matching Ken's description had been found, and I called, but the women said her husband was taking it to the animal shelter, so I called them, but they said they were sending it to the veterinary clinic, and I knew this was my last chance to save him before someone else took him from me! I'm sorry!" The last part came out as a cross between a wail and a sob.
Already, Shoutarou could feel her tears dampening his shirt. He closed his eyes, suppressing another moan. This couldn't possibly be happening to him. Now he looked like some sort of bad guy. He had already seen the looks in the eyes of the other two men. Just from hearing Momoko talk, he could only surmise what they were thinking. Obviously they felt that Shoutarou and Momoko were some sort of item, and that he was the bad guy not letting her have a cat. Great. Not only had his date been ruined, but now it seemed his reputation was going to be ruined as well.
He decided to try and rectify the situation a little. His reputation, after all, was quite dear to him. Shoutarou placed a hand on Momoko's back, patting it softly, and then turning the pat into a soft rub. He could do this. He could pretend that he was a good, caring boyfriend, just to chase away the expressions on the men's faces.
But what else did a good, caring boyfriend do? It had been a long time since Shoutarou had actually acted like one, that he almost couldn't remember. Dating around was not the same as being in a steady relationship.
He decided to wrap his other arm around Momoko's body, letting it hang loosely around her waist as he pulled her closer into his embrace. Moving his head closer to Momoko's, he leaned his cheek against the top of her head. "It's okay," he said. "I'm not mad, I promise."
"You're not?" Momoko's words were slightly muffled between the sniffs and the fact that her face was hidden in his chest.
"No. It's alright. You wanted to save Ken, and you did, didn't you?"
Momoko was silent for a minute, and Shoutarou smiled. He knew her well enough to know that she was busy thinking over his words. After a moment she said, "Yes. Yes I did. But I can't keep him …" And these words only set her off into another torrent of tears.
Shoutarou's eyes flashed open. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the two men shaking their heads, their words inaudible by the fact that they were standing a little ways away. They could only be thinking of how cruel Shoutarou was to let his girlfriend have a cat. He couldn't allow this.
Very gently, Shoutarou peeled himself away from Momoko, placing both of his hands on her arms and bending down to look her in the eyes. He was a bit startled by what he saw. With tears in them, her eyes had an almost luminescent appearance to them. Her lips were wet, and Shoutarou found his gaze dropping to them without much trouble. He had to struggle to keep them focused on Momoko's eyes, but the back of his mind the word kissable was returning.
He cleared his throat. "You can keep him," he said. "We'll take him home, we'll make him comfortable, and we'll make him part of the family."
"Really?" Momoko's eyes brightened, making her even prettier than before. Shoutarou felt his throat closing up on him.
"Yes, really," he managed to croak out.
"Oh, thank-you, Otomo-san!" This time Shoutarou was prepared for Momoko flinging herself in his arms. He managed to not look as awkward as he wrapped his arms around her, making it seem like he was actually hugging her. Out of the corner of his eyes Shoutarou could see the two men nodding in approval. Thank-god. That meant his reputation wasn't going to be blown to bits.
Mamoru stepped forward, and gave an awkward little bow. "Well, now that this is all settled, I do believe I can go home. My wife will be glad to know we found … er, Ken's owners."
Dr. Umino nodded as well. "I'm glad as well. I think Ken will be in good hands. Feel free to stop by in another month for the checkup. I'll want to see how the family is doing."
Shoutarou nodded. "We can do that," he babbled. "Me, Momoko, Ken. One big, happy family."
"Yes, and the kittens, too," added Dr. Umino.
"Of course," agreed Shotarou. "The kittens too." He continued to nod in agreement, and then paused. Had the man just said what he thought he had said? "What kittens?"
"The ones Ken should be giving birth too in another day or so," replied Dr. Umino matter-of-factly. "That's why she was being brought here. Ken is a female cat."
Momoko poked her head out from Shoutarou's chest, just as Shoutarou's hold on her began to grow slack. Her face was shining with pride. "Kittens? Really? I've always wanted kittens!"
Shoutarou barely heard what else was said. He felt Momoko break free of his hold, and talk to Dr. Umino. It seemed the vet was giving her detailed instructions on what to do the next couple of days. Shoutarou, however, was too busy trying to let everything sink in. He had saved a cat. He had just made two men think he and Momoko were an item so he wouldn't look like some sort of bastard. And now the cat in question was a female cat preparing to have kittens.
It was all so ludicrous that it almost wasn't real.
He wasn't sure how much time passed, but before long he felt Momoko tugging at his arm to lead him away. He let her, still in a bit of shock at the night's events. When he finally felt that he was in a good frame of mind, he glanced down at Momoko. She was cooing softly to the cat in her arms. Almost instantly he felt any anger he had been developing toward her, wash away.
"Alright," he said with an exaggerated sigh. "Let's get you and … Ken home."
Momoko glanced up at him quizzically. "I can't keep him," she said.
"Huh? But you just cried about wanting him!" protested Shoutarou.
"I know. But I can't keep him at my apartment. My father won't let me have any pets there. He pays for it, remember?"
"Then what are you going to do with Ken?"
"You said you were going to take her."
Shoutarou paused. "When?"
"Back there, a the vet clinic," replied Momoko. She gave him an odd look before turning her attention back to Ken.
"But … but …" Shoutarou floundered. He knew he had agreed to keep the cat, but that had been when he had been pretending he was a good, caring boyfriend. He had figured that if Momoko really wanted the cat, she could have it. He had never once considered that the reason she couldn't keep him was because of her father's rules at her apartment. He had been too busy keeping his reputation as a good guy intact.
"Don't worry, Otomo-san. I'll be over every day to help. I really want to see the kittens when they're born."
Shoutarou glanced down at Momoko again, his resolve slipping. He wanted to tell her no. He didn't really like cats, and having one would mean needing to feed it on a regular basis, and cleaning up after it – and kittens would mean more than one. But the way in which she was looking up at him so earnestly … Shoutarou simply couldn't help it. It really must be the sleep deprivation doing all the thinking, for his eyes fell back down to Momoko's lips, and he found himself nodding. "Okay," he said, "I'll take Ken."
Momoko squealed in delight, and before Shoutarou could register what was happening, she stood up on her tip-toes and planted a kiss on his lower cheek. It was so close to his lips that at first he thought it was an actual kiss, but she was all too quickly pulling away, and turning back around to continue walking. As she moved down the sidewalk, Shoutarou could hear her talking to Ken about his new home, and how she was going to decorate it for him.
But as Shoutarou began to trail along behind Momoko, a hand on his cheek where Momoko had planted her kiss, he could only grin like a complete idiot.