This one-shot was requested by one of my friends, Aqua4.
Watching as the buildings below slowly passed by, the young girl silently moved a lock of her auburn hair behind her ear. Her hazel eyes drooped slightly as she stared out the airplane's small oval window. Beside her, her mother was flipping through a fashion magazine, her matching hazel eyes seeming sharp as they scanned through the prices of latest merchandise. On her mother's opposite side, her father was typing away on his laptop, most likely working on another plan for the family's company. A sharp kick to the back jolted the girl wide awake as she abruptly turned in her seat, facing the mischievous boy behind her. There her brother sat, along side their grandmother and grandfather, both elderly people sound asleep in their seats.
"Would you stop kicking my seat, you little brat," she growled. She turned to her mother, putting on a whining voice, "Mom, David keeps kicking the back of my seat!"
"He's only five, Allyssa," her mother stated, not once looking up from the magazine, "He doesn't know any better."
"Your mother's right, dear," her father stated in his monotonous voice, "Your brother is young. Just sit back and enjoy your vacation while we're here."
The girl huffed, turning to face the window once more. She glared down at the growing buildings of Tokyo. Why her parents had decided on this particular spot for summer vacation, she had no idea, but she was pretty sure her father wouldn't be away from his laptop for even a minute.
A tired yawn escaped from a young boy's lips, the sound barely audible under a muddle of blankets. Feet kicked at the tangling fabric, strewing them across the floor as he sat up from his bed, dark black hair sticking up in every direction. He ran a hand through his tousled hair, groaning softly as sleep finally left him. The smell of breakfast instantly met him as he shifted in his bed, sitting cross-legged.
"Ryoma, aren't you up yet?" A familiar female voice called out to him, tapping lightly on his room's door. "Breakfast is ready for you on the table."
The boy responded quietly, knowing he was heard when the soft footsteps of the woman made their way back to where he presumed to be the kitchen. Swinging his feet over and onto the floor, he stood silently, shuffling his way to the door when realization struck him. Where was the familiar feeling of fur brushing up against his leg in the morning and the soft mewls of his one and only pet? Where was Karupin?
The boy found himself calling out to his pet, repeating its name over again when the animal did not come on the first plea. He searched his entire room, wondering how his beloved cat could have escaped when the door was closed throughout the entire night. He looked up, scanning his room once more. That's when he saw the reason for his pet's escape; the open window. Walking over to the windowpane, he leaned out slightly, calling his pet's name once more. When nothing responded he sighed, returning to sit on his bed in dismay. His favorite cat had run away once again and was nowhere to be found.
Allyssa glared at the conveyer belt, silently cursing it as it refused to give her luggage back to her. She had been standing there for a full five minutes and her familiar pink and green suitcase still had not shown up. Surely it wouldn't take this long to unpack luggage from a plane; especially since they had been flying in first class.
"Allyssa, your suitcase is over here," her mother called out, waving over at her daughter. The young girl shifted her gaze to her mother's side, looking on in astonishment. When she asked her mother where her luggage had been, she replied with, "Your brother found it. Silly you must've not noticed it when it went around."
The girl glared down at her brother, ready to give him grudging thanks when she noticed a smug smile on his features. By the looks of it, it had been his fault her luggage was not found sooner. Her face twisted in disgust as she quickly took the handle of her luggage away from her sibling.
"Come now, Allyssa," her mother scolded, taking the hand of the young boy, "No need to make such an ugly face, lest it be stuck like that for good. Now let's move along, children. Your father already has the limo awaiting us out front."
Mumbling to herself, Allyssa stalked after her mother, luggage in hand. The young girl silently brooded, wondering why she had to carry her own luggage when they could afford a limo. Her thoughts were quickly interrupted when a soft sound reached her ears, causing the girl to hesitate slightly in her step. Thinking nothing of it, she continued her trek outside the airport, glass doors automatically moving aside for her as she breathed in her first breath of Tokyo air. Again, a soft sound reached her ears, but this time she could not ignore it. She searched the area, wondering what could be making such an adorable noise when her hazel eyes rested on a ball of white and brown fur.
"Hello there," she said, crouching down to the animal's eye level. She put her hand forward, letting the creature sniff at her hand before it promptly cuddled into it. "You're a friendly kitty aren't you? Mom and Dad never really let me have a pet before." Her mother's call told the young girl that she had to hurry. Giving her mother a curt response, she turned back to the cat. "I don't want to leave you here. Oh, I know!"
Opening her suitcase, Allyssa quickly pulled out a few articles of clothing, making sure to avoid pulling out her underwear in the open area. Once an acceptable amount of space was made, the girl quickly stuffed the clothes into other pockets of her suitcase before gently lifting up the cat. She placed it neatly in the small space where her clothes had once been, closing the zipper. Remembering that the animal had to breathe, she quickly unzipped the suitcase enough so that the cat could possibly stick its head out if it wanted to. Nodding at her quick thinking, she scurried over to the limo, climbing in after her family.
It had been a few hours since Ryoma had started his search for his much loved cat; by now, he had most of the tennis team and friends helping him in his hunt. They had started at his house, searching high and low for the furry creature. Sadly, after overturning every space the feline could've been hiding in, they came to the conclusion that Karupin was no longer in the household. A few of them had decided to search the outside premises of the Echizen house, only come up with the same result; no Karupin. Deciding to come up with a better plan for action, the small group of boys made their way to the house's living room, sitting in a circle as they all gave ideas on how to find Ryoma's cat.
"We could put flyers up around town." It was the team's acrobatic red head who suggested this, giving a wide grin at his brilliant plan. "Somebody out there has to have seen him, right Oishi?"
"That's a good start," the mother hen of the team agreed, turning to Ryoma for his next inquiry, "Do you have any pictures of Karupin that you think could be good for a flyer, Echizen? We should make a lot of them to put around."
Ryoma nodded, getting up from his seat on the floor. He walked out of the living room and into his bedroom, shuffling around the papers on his desk as he looked for a particular picture. When he had found what he needed, he returned to the group of boys, handing the picture to Oishi. Said boy smiled, nodding thanks to Ryoma as he looked at the picture; it showed Karupin on his back, paws tangled in a ball of yarn.
"This is a good picture," Oishi said, before turning to the tensai in the group, "Fuji, do you think you could make the flyers?" Oishi nodded, grinning as said sadist agreed to the job. "We should have these up around town in no time. Don't worry Ryoma, we'll find Karupin no matter what."
With that said and done, they all set off to work.
Staring up at the vacation home through the limousine's tinted window, Allyssa let out a heavy sigh. She had been told to put her suitcase in the trunk before she had climbed into the stretched out car. Hopefully the small cat in the pink and green luggage would've had enough air to last the long car trip.
"Mom, what are we going to be doing today?" Allyssa asked, stepping out of the limo's door as the chauffeur stepped aside for her to pass by.
"We're not going to be doing anything, Allyssa dear," her mother answered, careful to step out in her newest pair of high heels, "It's almost dusk; we can't do a thing but unpack and rest. Maybe tomorrow you and your grandfather can have a walk around town."
The young girl sighed once more in disappointment, her restless eyes looking around at the scenery engulfing her. The vacation home was a small, dainty house, not unlike her old home before her father's small business took off. It could have been easily mistaken for one of the normal suburban homes around it, if not for the large yard that seemed to grow perfectly around the estate. Allyssa wondered if her father had intentionally hired gardeners to make the front lawn seem so beautiful, or if it was just natural.
"Allyssa, come get your suitcase," her mother stated, beckoning her only daughter to the side of the limousine, "Is it me, or has this thing gotten heavier?"
"It must be your imagination, Mom," Allyssa quickly retorted, taking the suitcase from her mother before she could inspect the open zipper, "It's not like I could've added anything into it between traveling."
Her mother gave her a sharp, incredulous look, making the girl squirm slightly under her intense glare. Passing it off with a small shrug, the woman returned to getting the luggage out of the limo's trunk with the assistance of the driver. Allyssa sighed in relief, bringing her suitcase closer to her side as she walked towards the small vacation home. A muted sound from her luggage caused her to look around in panic. Thankfully, none of her family was around to hear the cat's cry. She peered at her luggage, eyes watching the hole where her zipper was open as the cat wriggled around inside. Letting out a sound of frustration, she wondered how she would keep this cat a secret throughout their vacation.
Muttering an apology, an old man gently shut his home's door on the small group of tennis regulars. It had been the tenth house that had said they had seen no sign of the brown and white feline. The regulars had set up flyers on walls and fences, even handing them out to complete strangers on the street, but so far nobody had seen the cat known as Karupin.
"We should start again tomorrow," Oishi stated, running a hand through his hair as he stared up into the darkening sky.
"Oishi's right, Echizen," Momo agreed, slouching slightly from all the work they had gone through putting up flyers, "It's getting late."
"Nya, don't worry O'chibi," Eiji stated, trying hard to bring up the first year's mood as he ruffled his hair, "Karupin will turn up soon!"
Ryoma nodded, staying silent from the disappointment of not finding his cat sooner. The darkening sky seemed to mock him as he thought about where Karupin could have run off to. Was his beloved cat hungry in an alley somewhere? Was he wet and cold in a storm drain? Was his cat was hurt and in need of help somewhere, lying on his side, meowing for his life? Shaking his head, Ryoma dismissed the horrid thoughts from his mind. Karupin was a smart cat. There was no possible way he could be in any bad situation. If anything he was back home, curled up on the bed covers.
But when Ryoma returned home for that night, Karupin was still nowhere to be found.
Clicking her tongue, the young girl tried desperately to catch the cat's attention. Upon arriving in her room that was inside the small vacation home, Allyssa had thought it'd be best for the cat to have some fresh air and be set free to roam her room. Unfortunately, the feline had different plans as it scurried underneath her bed, staying there for hours on end. Allyssa had returned with a couple pieces of her dinner, holding the tidbits of chicken in her hand as she tried to coax the feline out from under the bed, but to no avail.
"Okay, I'll just leave it here then," Allyssa stated, placing the chicken down on her wooden floor. She sat in front of it, crossing her legs as she waited patiently for the cat to crawl out. Slowly, but surely, the feline scurried forward to munch at the cooked poultry, allowing Allyssa to reacquaint herself.
"That's a good kitty," she spoke softly, her hand running through the cat's soft fur when a something snagged on her fingers, "What's this? Oh, you have a collar. That must mean you belong to somebody, huh?" She frowned at the cat, watching as it snuggled to her and purred. "Your poor owners must be worried sick about you. I wonder if I can find them before we leave Tokyo."
Picking up the cat gently, she stood and walked over to her bed, getting ready for a night's rest. Little did she know a pair of old, bespectacled eyes had watched her play with the cat through the crack in her door.
The Next Day
Ryoma had awoken with a start that morning, his mind dizzy from his quick thoughts. Had his cat really run away yesterday? Looking around his room, Ryoma quickly found the answer to his question to be yes. He frowned, quickly getting ready for the day to start looking for his precious feline. Today, he would stop at nothing to find his cat.
Allyssa awoke with a heavy weight on her stomach, causing her to grunt in slight pain as it quickly jumped off of her. She sat up in her bed, her hair a mess from the tossing and turning she had done all throughout the night. Staring at the cat that had decided to take a short walk around her room, she was reminded that this cat had owners somewhere. She was determined to find them no matter what.
Already up and about, it had been only a couple of hours since the young first year left his humble abode, beckoning for his friends to help him in his search for his precious Karupin. The team had gone around half the town asking friends and strangers alike if they had seen the ball of brown and white fur, but much to their dismay, nobody had spotted the elusive feline. It was as if the cat had disappeared off the face of the Earth.
"Ne, Oishi, we ran out of flyers to post up." Eiji stated, emphasizing his point as he waved his empty hands around in the air.
"I don't think I have any more paper to print on," Fuji murmured, a thoughtful hand on his chin, "I suppose I could go out and buy more."
"I think the amount of flyers we handed out is enough," Oishi said, giving Ryoma an apologetic smile, "We've posted them around everywhere. Now we can only wait and see if somebody's found him."
Ryoma nodded, staring off into the distance where he wished his beloved cat would be. A comforting hand on his shoulder was enough to let him know that his friends were there for him. Looking up to the person gripping his shoulder, he found the calm face of Seigaku's tensai, Fuji. Unbeknownst to the wondering first year, Fuji was giving him one of his true, sincere smiles, not just another fake smile he held for most of the time.
"How about we go somewhere to get Ponta," Fuji suggested, turning to invite everyone on the small outing, "Then we all can head home and wait for results."
Ryoma shook his head, shrugging out of his sempai's grasp, "Thank you Fuji-sempai, but I think I'll go home and wait."
As he turned, Ryoma waved a small, sad goodbye, walking down the sidewalk on his way home.
Walking around Tokyo's suburban streets, the young girl twisted the map in her hands in every direction, trying ever so hard to understand where she was walking. Beside her, her grandfather was searching for street signs, letting out noises of confusion every time he found one written in the Japanese kanji. Both looked like your typical tourists, walking around with confused faces and oversized maps in English.
"Granddad, are you sure you know the way to the store?" Allyssa asked, finally folding up the map as she focused on following her grandfather.
"Of course I'm sure," he said in his raspy voice, tugging gently on his mustache as he thought about the translations to the street sign in front of him, "I've been to Tokyo before so I'm pretty sure nothing's changed."
"How long ago was that?" she asked, pushing the button to a crosswalk as they both waited to continue on their search for the store.
Her grandfather put a thoughtful hand to his chin, tilting his head up as he thought about the last time he had visited Tokyo. "I think it was about thirty years ago."
The girl deadpanned, reminding her grandfather that a lot could change in that much time. The old man simply let out a hearty excuse as they continued on their trek. Allyssa shrugged, shifting the large purse on her shoulder into a better position. She looked inside her oversized purse, taking a peek at the brown and white feline inside; she had smuggled the cat into her purse earlier before she and her grandfather left the small vacation home this morning. The cat purred quietly, staring up at her with its smoldering eyes. Looking back up at her surrounding, Allyssa sighed, wondering how she was ever going to find the animal's owner. She had checked the cat's collar a few times for contact info, but to her disappointment, it had none.
"You should contact a pet store." Allyssa looked up to her grandfather, confusion etched on her face. She went to ask him his meaning for the statement only to be interrupted. "Don't you try fooling me young lady. I know you've got an animal there stashed in your bag." Her grandfather put on a smile, winking at her to show he wasn't angry. "I've taken home many stray animals myself back when I was a boy."
Allyssa put on a sheepish smile, knowing full well she couldn't lie to her grandfather. "When did you find out?"
"I saw you last night," he said, reaching into her bag to cradle the cat in his arms, "I was going to wish you a good night's sleep when I saw you playing with this little feline. Quite a cute sight when it comes to my granddaughter."
Allyssa quickly let the embarrassed blush on her cheeks go unnoticed, "Okay, so where are we going to find a pet store anyways?" She asked, taking the cat back from her grandfather and placing it back into the purse. "It's not like we're not already lost."
"Well then we should ask around," her grandfather retorted, turning to walk in the way they had come; he was stopped when Allyssa pointed him in the right direction, "Come now, Allyssa. I see a few people up there we can ask for directions."
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Allyssa followed after her grandfather, making sure the kitty was safely tucked into her bag. Approaching the strangers she wondered if they were able to understand English or if her grandfather could remember back to thirty years ago in order to speak Japanese.
On the other side of the street, Oishi and the rest of the regulars had just walked out of a small café, each with their own little drink or sweet in hand. Leading the group, it was Oishi's job to pay attention to where they all were walking, but when a pair of strange looking tourists passed by on the other side of the rode, Oishi couldn't help but stare. The elderly man, grey haired with thick glasses on the bridge of his nose, was leading the way as a girl with shoulder length brown hair followed him, clutching closely to her a body an expensive looking designer bag.
"Those people look lost," Oishi muttered, watching as the pair of tourists walked up to a smaller group of people near them, "Maybe we should help them."
"Don't worry about them, Oishi," Momo said, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder to steer him in the right direction, "They've already got someone to help with directions."
Oishi nodded, watching as the pair of tourists gave their thanks to the people they had stopped for directions, making their way in another direction. Eyes widening in curiosity, Oishi gaped as the tourists turned a corner, a fluffy brown tail swishing out of the girl's oversized bag.
On his way home, Ryoma had stopped by the park in hopes of finding a clue on where his cat would be. He had walked through half the park by now, seeing neither hide nor head of his beloved feline. The only thing he had seen were other stray cats; raggedy, matted, and filthy. Kicking a rock out of his way, Ryoma decided to finally head home to await a phone call, hopefully telling him that someone had found his Karupin.
Walking out of the pet store, Allyssa heaved a heavy sigh, holding the door open for her grandfather as he followed after her. Disappointment was evident on her face as she stared down at the ball of fur in her purse. The people in the store had no idea who the cat belonged to; that, or they hadn't understood what Allyssa was saying and assumed she was trying to sell the cat.
"This search is hopeless, Granddad," she complained, placing her rear on a bench that was nearby to rest, "Nobody understands what we're saying and even if they did, I highly doubt they would know who this cat belonged to."
"Don't be so sure," her grandfather said, sitting next to her on the bench, "There could be a clue around here somewhere."
Allyssa nodded, her head drooping slightly; although previously she was excited to find the cat's owner, all of that excitement had faded as the day had slowly went by. Allyssa looked to the watch on her wrist, seeing that it was almost noon. They had been on their search for a little more than four hours. She wondered what she would do if they hadn't found the owner before she and her family left for America once more. Would it be safe to put it in a shelter until someone could find it?
"Stop pawing at my hand kitty." Allyssa went to reach for the cat, suspecting it to be outside her purse and playing with her hand, but instead she found something flapping in the wind. "Oh, what's this," she asked, grasping the piece of paper in her hand. She flipped it over, examining it closely; it was in Japanese, but she figured looking at it wouldn't hurt. "Look at this Granddad!" The young American girl quickly shoved the paper into her grandfather's wrinkled hands, pointing rather excitedly to the picture in the middle of the advertisement.
"Well, I'll say," her grandfather said, his smile showing amusement and surprise all in one, "It's the little creature you have there."
"Do you think it says where it lives?" Allyssa asked, scrutinizing the kanji scribbled messily on the flyer. Her grandfather nodded, smiling at the young girl. Excitement growing, Allyssa smiles along with him before turning to the feline in her bag, "You hear that, kitty? We can find your owner now!"
Relief at finally being able to find the cat's owner settled in as Allyssa once again looked at the flyer, but that feeling quickly left when she thought of another problem. However were they going to decipher the words on the paper?
Feet dragging slowly on the concrete sidewalk, Ryoma had walked halfway home. On a normal day it wouldn't have taken him this long to make his way home, but today was not a normal day. Today was a day where his cat was missing and he wasn't willing to accept that.
Ryoma often wondered what he would do when his faithful pet passed on—would he get another cat just like Karupin, or would he lay off the pets forever?—but he could never really answer those questions because answering them would mean he would be accepting the loss of his favorite pet.
Dragging his feet slower than before, he continued on his trek home. No, he wouldn't get another cat.
Knocking on the front door of a small home once more, Allyssa yelled out a greeting. When nobody had answered after the fifth time she called, Allyssa turned to face her grandfather, head shaking from side to side in disappointment. Nobody was home.
"Come on, Allyssa," her grandfather said, waving her over to come back to the sidewalk, "We can try again tomorrow."
The young girl nodded, cradling the cat in her arms like a baby as she walked down the sidewalk with her grandfather. Muttering sweet words to the feline, Allyssa promised it she would return to the house the next day.
Turning the corner, Ryoma sighed as he finally made it to his street; a few more steps ahead and he would be at his house. Ryoma looked up, his eyes darting ahead of him so he could see where he was walking better. His step faltered a bit when a ball of brown and white fur caught his eye.
Ryoma noticed that the feline was in the arms of a girl who looked to be around his age, her shoulder length auburn hair tangled in the cat's curious paws. Ears twitching, Karupin's head turned to the direction Ryoma was in. Upon seeing his owner, Karupin quickly righted himself and jumped out of the girl's arm, dashing towards Ryoma.
Allyssa yelled as the fuzzy feline jumped out of her arms and onto the dirty sidewalk below. She watched as the cat ran forward, expecting it to be chasing some bird, but to her surprise it had jumped into the arms of another person. Allyssa found herself gaping as she stared at the boy ahead of her, the cat in his arms as he muttered quiet things.
"I am so sorry," Allyssa apologized as she ran up to the boy. She quickly ran through the few Japanese words she knew when she saw him give her a look of confusion. "Uh, I mean, gomen? Yeah, I think that's what it was."
The boy continued to give Allyssa a look of confusion, his eyes boring into her like she was from a different world. Thinking quickly, Allyssa decided to use hand motions as a way to decipher what she was about to say in English.
"I found that cat at the airport," she said slowly, pointing at the cat before making hand motions that were to resemble a plane. She continued making different motions with her words, saying them like she was talking to a three year old, "Now I must give back the cat to its owner. So could you please give me the cat?"
A few moments of silence passed between the two teens, both of them staring intently at the other. After about two minutes Allyssa heaved a sigh, giving up on explaining it to the boy in front of her. She would just have to ask for the cat back as best as she could. As Allyssa opened her mouth to speak once more, the boy interrupted her.
"I do speak English, you know," he said, his voice making Allyssa flinch a bit. In her opinion, he had a cute accent to it. "And, I am the cat's owner."
Allyssa blushed, her face red from both embarrassment and anger. "You could've told me that earlier," she huffed, watching the cat cuddle up into his arms, "And a little appreciation would be nice too, you know. I did find your cat for you."
"Thanks," Ryoma muttered, walking passed the girl as she stood there, fuming in anger.
Allyssa turned around where she stood, watching as the boy walked into the house she had just stood at, the cat in his arms still. She was glad she had returned the cat to its rightful owner, but she wasn't too happy with the thanks she had gotten. She muttered to herself slightly, feet moving forward as she walked passed her grandfather who had been silently laughing to himself the entire time.
Ryoma shut the door to his home; his beloved Karupin was still in his arms as he put all his attention into making sure there was no way it would escape once more. Setting his cat's food and water bowl on the floor, Ryoma happily watched his feline friend eat. The silence was interrupted when a knock on the front door sounded. Getting up, Ryoma went to answer it, only to find the same auburn haired girl standing in his doorway, a pout on her lips.
"Look, I found your cat for you as we've already established," she said, pausing to let Ryoma nod as a sign that he was paying attention, "And all I get is a small 'thanks'? I don't think you really appreciate it. I mean, do you know how hard it is to find an owner of an animal when you don't even speak the country's native language? Well, let me tell you, it's very hard." The girl paused, stuttering slightly before continuing, "And I was just thinking. Since I'm like, a tourist and all, maybe you could repay me by showing me around town a bit. At least until I get the hang of it. I'm only going to be here for two weeks anyway so you won't see me much. So, what do you think?"
Ryoma stared at the girl, watching as she looked at him with pleading eyes. Thinking about the situation, he thought that it wouldn't be that bad showing the girl around town for a couple of days. It would certainly liven up the just beginning summer break. Finishing up his thoughts, Ryoma nodded, watching as the girl's pleading eyes changed to show happiness.
"Oh, thank you," she gushed, grasping his hand for a firm shake, "By the way, my name is Allyssa."
"Ryoma," he murmured, introducing himself in a simple way as she let go of his hand.
"We should start now," Allyssa said, turning to face the door, "I mean, if that's okay with you Ryoma."
Ryoma turned slightly to stare at Karupin, the feline happily snoozing on the rug near his food bowl; leaving Karupin home alone wouldn't be that bad as long as he came back in a couple of hours. Turning back to face Allyssa, Ryoma shrugged, nodding his head once more, "Let's go get a Ponta."
Allyssa grinned, walking out the door to get her grandfather. After telling him where they were going, Allyssa promptly turned back to face Ryoma. "Hey, Ryoma," she said, confusion crossing her face as said boy closed the front door to his home, "What's a Ponta?"
Staring at the girl, Ryoma heaved a lazy sigh. He had the feeling these next two weeks would be the longest two weeks of his life.
I know, I know, Ryoma is a tad OOC, but seriously. Don't you think Ryoma would act like that if he was faced with the chance his cat could be gone? He loves Karupin! Anyways, I hope you liked it, Aqua!