Stray

Overall Rating: M for language and sexual content.

Warnings: This is a M/M pairing. If that bothers you, what are you doing reading Gravitation fanfiction?

Disclaimer: It's Maki Murakami's sandbox. I'm just playing in it. I don't own the rights to Gravitation or these characters nor do I make any money from them.

Summary: Shuichi brings something unexpected home with him. Eiri is dubious.

Thanks to my devoted beta HawkClowd. You rock, girl! Any errors or oddities are my responsibility alone.

Rating for this chapter: T for language

Chapter 1

Movement in a shopping bag lying on the path caught Shuichi's attention as he walked home from the convenience store. He put the bag of pocky and cigarettes he'd just bought down and knelt to examine the bag, which was now bouncing around, more closely.

It was a plain brown paper bag stuffed inside a yellow plastic bag. The paper bag had been rolled down and the handles of the yellow plastic bag knotted together to keep the bag closed.

The bag bounced again. Clearly there was something alive inside. An animal, maybe? One that some cruel person had thrown out of a car or dropped on the sidewalk?

He fought the tears that threatened to spring up in his eyes. Damn it, he wouldn't be able to help this creature if he couldn't see what he was doing.

The knot was pulled so tight that it didn't yield to his attempts to undo it. In the meantime, other pedestrians were brushing against him and tripping over his feet, some cursing. He dragged both bags aside to get out of everyone's way.

He wound up sitting, knees drawn up against his chest, against the front of a beauty salon. He tore blindly at the plastic, finally pulling it apart enough to rip the knot open. He carefully unrolled the top of the paper bag, holding it partway closed for fear that whatever was inside would jump out and run away.

A pair of glowing yellow eyes glared at him. It was hard to see in the bag even as he opened it a bit more to get a better look.

A tiny paw shot out of the bag, claws outstretched. He almost dropped the bag, which would have allowed the creature inside to escape and run off who knew where. How could he look inside when the creature – which from the looks of things was almost certainly a kitten – might claw him?

He thought for a minute and then realized that maybe cradling the bag and singing to the kitten would help. So he sat cross-legged, oblivious to the stares of passersby, cradling the bottom of the bag and softly humming a lullaby, hoping that would calm the creature.

It seemed to work after a few verses. Whatever was moving around at the bottom of the bag relaxed. He could even feel faint vibrations. He had never had a pet, let alone a cat, so he wasn't sure if the creature was purring, but he hoped it was.

He opened the top of the bag wider and carefully peered inside. He spotted a bedraggled kitten with orange and gray patches on a dirty white background curled up at the bottom of the bag.

"Awww," he said and picked up both bags. He'd take the kitten home, nurse it back to health, and take it to the nearest shelter.

Then reality kicked in. Wouldn't he need items he didn't have to take care of the kitten, like cat food? Thinking about it some more, he realized he didn't want to let this kitten outside to do its business. Look at the shape it already was in! The people he knew who kept their cats indoors used those plastic boxes – what were they called? Litter boxes? He needed one of those and that sandy litter stuff people put in it.

While the convenience store carried cat food, and he thought he'd seen cat litter there too, he didn't think there was any place within walking distance where he could purchase a litter box. Besides, he'd have a hard time carrying cat food, cat litter, his prior purchases, and a cat. In order to take care of the kitten properly, he needed help from someone with a car and a driver's license. Someone like Eiri.

Shuichi decided to return to the convenience store to purchase cat food. When he got home, he'd stay with the kitten, feeding it and making sure it didn't destroy the furniture or the apartment, while Eiri purchased a litter box and cat litter.

That posed a dilemma, though. How could he convince Eiri to help him out and let the cat stay long enough to get it in good enough shape to take to the shelter? Eiri wasn't a cat hater. He'd fed a stray cat at their previous apartment and Shuichi knew that cats lived in his family's temple compound. But Eiri was unwilling to take responsibility for the lives of others, resented having his routine changed, and was a world-class grump besides.

He puzzled over this dilemma as he retraced his steps to the convenience store while cradling the bag with the cat in it, the plastic bag with the cigarettes and pocky in it hanging from his hand—

Oh shit. Eiri would be jonesing for his cigarettes. Shuichi had ipromised/i to hurry back with them because Eiri had run out of cigarettes. A cigarette-deprived Eiri was even more of a grouch than usual.

But the kitten was probably starving. It needed food worse than Eiri needed his stinking cigarettes, although Eiri probably wouldn't see it that way.

In the meantime, the kitten mewed once and then fell asleep while Shuichi was still cradling the bag in his arms.

When he arrived at the convenience store he put the bag with his purchases in a plastic shopping basket. Realizing he couldn't put cat food in the basket while continuing to cradle the cat, he gently put the bag with the cat in it on the floor while grabbing a random selection of cat food off of the shelf.

He didn't notice the funny looks he was getting from other shoppers and the clerk at the front counter. The clerk recognized him from his earlier visit and wondered why he'd returned with his purchases in tow plus another bag that he held gingerly. The other customers wondered what was in the bag he'd been cradling, as it obviously wasn't groceries.

He picked up bag and basket with difficulty and walked to the checkout. The man there looked at him quizzically while ringing up his purchases. "Back again so soon?" he said.

"I found a stray kitten on the way home and I couldn't leave it there to starve." He held out the bag with his prior purchases so the clerk could add the cat food to them. No point in having to carry yet another bag.

"That's nice of you, Shindou-san!" the clerk said, nodding, as Shuichi turned to leave.

He trudged home, the plastic bag dangling in his hand while he cradled the cat with both arms as best he could. Once he got into the elevator he let the bag with his purchases slide to the floor so he could hold the bag with the cat in it more carefully. When the elevator arrived at his floor he quickly retrieved the plastic bag and hurried out before the elevator could close on him.

He hadn't thought of any good way to approach Eiri about the kitten. He'd just have to wing it and try to look as cute and pleading as possible. Tears might not be a bad idea either; Eiri hated it when he cried but he hated watching him cry even more.

As he pushed the door to the apartment open and replaced his shoes with his house slippers, he could hear Eiri yell, "Where the hell are my cigarettes? And what the fuck took you so long?"