Summary: Echizen Ryou is the seven year old successor to the title of the Prince of Tennis, but he is completely different from his father, instead taking after his shy mother, Echizen Sakuno. But he is like his father in that he adores cats, so what happens when one day a pretty Himalayan cat saves him from getting hit by a car? Of course, he tries to catch it so that he can keep it as his pet, but there is a lot more to this than he knows.

SkyGem: A sad little oneshot about Karupin's strong love for Ryoma.


Ryou

"Bye bye, Ryou-chan!" called my childhood friend Momoshiro Mariko.

Waving back to her, I then turned and, seeing as the light was green, began crossing the street.

Then, I heard a faint mewling sound from across the street and saw what looked to be an injured cat lying on the sidewalk. Worried, I ran up to it and bent down to inspect it, to see if it had any broken bones or scratches.

As soon as I was off the road, though, it jumped up and I heard a car zoom past behind me. Turning my head, I looked at the car as it sped away. Sinking to the floor, I began shaking violently, realizing that it would have hit me if I hadn't run. Suddenly, I felt a warm body press itself up to me and looked down to see the cat staring up at me with intelligent blue eyes.

I could see that she was a female, and she was absolutely beautiful. She had long, silky, creamy white fur over most of her body, and chocolate brown markings on her ears, tail, paws, and face.

Smiling, I brought up my hand to pet her, but she moved away. I got up to follow her, but when next I looked up, she was gone.

Running forward, I looked around the corner, but she was nowhere to be seen and, dejected, I headed home.

My blue mood didn't last long, though, because when I arrived home, I noticed a familiar car in the driveway and a wide grin stretched across my face. Throwing open the door, I called, "Tadaima!"

Then, I saw my father walk out of the kitchen wearing only his pyjama bottoms, looking a bit sleepy.

Seeing me, a smile lit up his normally impassive face and he said, "Ryou! So you're finally home!"

"Otou-san!" I called, running up to hug him around the waist. I was extremely happy to see him, as he had been in America this past week for business. "When did you get back?"

Returning my hug, he bent down and kissed me gently on the forehead. "I arrived around lunch. Just in time to eat one of your mother's delicious meals," he said, practically drooling. I let out a giggle. In many ways, he was just like my grandfather, no matter how forcefully he denied it.

"Are you staying long?" I asked. My father was not only a famous pro tennis player, but he was also the CEO of Inui Corp., a company owned by one of his sempai from junior high and high school. His job required him to travel all over the world for weeks at a time.

He smirked as if he had a pleasant surprise in store. "Inui finally gave me some vacation time. I'm not going anywhere for the next month."

"Yatta!" I shouted, throwing my arms around his neck.

He laughed, seeming happy. He was in a really good mood today, so I decided to take a chance.

When I let go of him, I stepped away a little and looked down at the floor.

Seeming to sense that there was something I wanted to say, my father sat crossed legged on the floor and said, "Really, Ryou, you're just like your mother. If you have something to say, then just spit it out."

I looked up into his eyes and, gathering all my courage, said, "Can we get a cat?"

For a moment, he seemed taken aback, then laughed, saying, "Well, I was beginning to wonder when you would ask."

Surprised, I said, "Nani?"

He just smirked, saying, "Well, it's obvious how much you love cats. You get that from me, you know."

My eyes widened. "Really?" I asked.

He nodded his head. Then, after a brief pause, he said, "How about we go to the pet store tomorrow, hm? As long as it's alright with your mother, of course."

"Yatta!" I shouted once again, hugging him for the third time in the last five minutes.


Later that night, as I lay in my bed, trying to sleep, I heard a familiar meow and shot up to look at the window sill. Sure enough, there stood the cat from this afternoon, the light from the moon making her fur seem almost silver.

This time, instead of running away, she came and jumped right onto my bed, rubbing her head against my chin, purring.

Laughing, I stroked her fur, feeling how silky it was. Then, I noticed the collar around her neck. The nametag said Karupin, but there was no other info on it.

"Karupin," I said softly, smiling as I felt the name roll off my tongue. It had a nice ring to it.

Suddenly, she jumped off my bed and headed to my door, scratching at it determinedly. Getting up, I opened the door for her and she shot out into the hall beyond.

Worried as to what my parents would say about a strange cat in our house, I followed her.

She was waiting for me at the top of the stairs, as if she were leading me somewhere. When I was a few feet from her, she turned and flitted down the steps, heading to the front door.

I followed her and, after scratching on the front door like she had in my bedroom, I opened it for her and, after some hesitation, followed her outside.

Slowly, she led me farther and farther away from my house, all the while keeping a distance between the two of us, but I wasn't scared. I had a feeling I was safe with her.

After about five minutes of walking, we arrived at an alleyway where Karupin stopped, nosing a small cardboard box turned on its side.

After a few moments, a young cat, about six or seven years old, came out. It was shivering and wet, and was an exact copy of Karupin, except a lot younger. Her fur was incredibly dirty, and she looked miserabe but when she saw Karupin, she pressed up her body against hers and Karupin licked the younger cat's ear, as if trying to comfort her.

Then, Karupin turned to look at me with pleading eyes and I immediately knew what I had to do.

I approached the two cats slowly, then, gently picked up the younger one, and she pressed herself closer to me, as if trying to warm herself with my body heat.

Even though she was so dirty, I couldn't help but smile, because I knew that under all that dirt, she was just as beautiful as her mother, for that was what Karupin was to this young cat.

I looked down to try and find Karupin, but by now, she had completely disappeared, just like this afternoon. Though, it saddened me, I knew that I wouldn't see her again, so I turned and headed for home.


Ryoma

It was around midnight when I suddenly sat bolt upright with the feeling that something was definitely not right.

Getting out of bed, careful not to wake up Sakuno, I crept out of the room to check on Ryou.

When I got to his bedroom, my heart stopped as I realized he wasn't there. Telling myself that he had probably gone to the bathroom, I tried to calm down.

After seeing that he wasn't in the bathroom either, I searched the whole house and when he still wasn't found, I went back to the bedroom to wake up Sakuno.

When I told her what had happened, she looked so worried, and immediately went to the phone, to call the police.

I, on the other hand, threw on my shoes and threw open the door to go and search for him myself.

The sight that greeted me when I stepped over the threshold, though, made me stop dead in my tracks.

There was my son, his green hair still messy, wearing only his pyjamas and a pair of slippers, and he was holding something in his arms.

"Ryou!" I shouted, running up to him and grabbing him into a protective hug.

"O-otou-san! I-I'm fine!" he said, struggling.

Letting go, I back up a bit, saying, "You are in big trouble young man! Do you have any idea how worried your mother and I were when to find out that you were gone? You almost gave us a heart attack!"

"I-I'm sorry, otou-san…" he said, looking down at the thing he was holding in his arms.

Following his gaze, I saw that he was holding a dirty Himalayan in his arms. She looked to be pretty young, only about six years old, and had shockingly familiar blue eyes.

"K-Kyoko?" I asked and she twitched, leaping out of Ryou's arms to come up to me. Picking her up, I brought her to eye level and looked into her eyes. Certainly, she fit the part, and looked to be the right age, but I could hardly believe it was her.

"Kyoko?" said my son, throwing me a quizzical look. "You know her, otou-san?"

I nodded vaguely. "Her mother used to be my cat, before she died. But we sold Kyoko soon after she was born, how did you find her?"

"Karupin led me to her," said Ryou and I looked down at him.

"What are you talking about, son? Where did you hear that name?" I asked, thinking surely someone must have put him up to it, and this was all some cruel joke.

"This afternoon, a cat saved me from being hit by a car. Before, when I was in bed, I saw the same cat at my window and her nametag said Karupin. She wanted me to follow her, and I did. That was how I found Kyoko."

I looked at Kyoko once more, then hugged her close to my chest, whispering into her fur, "Thank you for saving my son. I promise I'll take good care of your daughter for you…Karupin."

Suddenly, I felt a soft pressure on my legs. When I looked, there was nothing there, but I knew who it was. I felt tears come to my eyes and, for the first time in I don't know how long, I cried.

"O-otou-san?" asked Ryou, seeming worried.

Looking down at him, I smiled at him and held out my hand to him. "Let's get Kyoko inside and clean her up, ne? We'll go to the pet supply store tomorrow to buy her everything she needs. We've got another member to add to our family."

Ryou smiled, though he still seemed worried. He took my hand and as the three of us walked back into the house, he said, "Ne, otou-san?"

"Hai?"

"Karupin was your cat, right?"

"Hai."

"Was she very important to you?"

"…Hai."


SkyGem: Aww, how sad….please, do leave a review and tell me what you thought, hmm?