Disclaimer: I do not own Junjou Romantica or The Tyrant Falls in Love or any of these stories' characters.
Sekai ichi Cat-sukoi
Chapter 44: Waiting Room: Egoist, Tyrant
A wave of relief washed over Hiroki when he finally saw the modest sign indicating Dr. Ochi's hybrid clinic.
While he much preferred holding hands with Nowaki to carrying the inu's leash; they had incurred a number of curious and occasionally disapproving stares as they'd walked from the train station. If Nowaki had caught these looks, he hadn't shown it. Once his hand had been secured he'd perked up immeasurably. Even the memory of the train station's offensive policeman seemed to have faded already and he'd walked the whole way, grinning as he asked dozens of questions about almost everything.
Standing now at the door to Ochi's clinic, Hiroki glanced over at Nowaki once more. The young hybrid was looking all around the entrance, no doubt absorbing every detail, his tail wagging with excitement.
Nowaki's curiosity about the world after being held so long in captivity astounded Hiroki. Likewise, he had gained an increasing awareness of just how sharp his new "roommate" was. All of Nowaki's senses were remarkably keen and as Hiroki had answered each question, he'd quickly learned Nowaki was a very apt pupil.
He really should be in school with a brain like that, not working half a dozen jobs.
Nowaki cocked his head, seeing his owner's new frown. He'd already come to understand that Hiro-san had about a dozen different versions of this expression, each with a slightly different meaning.
Being caught in his musings about Nowaki's future caused Hiroki's scowl to deepen. He dropped his eyes away from the blue gaze he felt saw him too clearly already.
"Okay, Nowaki…" He pulled his hand away with a sigh. "Let's get this over with. It's too cold to stand out here all afternoon and besides, I have papers to grade."
Having never been to a hybrid doctor's office before, he hadn't been sure of what to expect, but pushing his way into the clinic's main waiting room, Hiroki was pleasantly surprised.
Ochi's clinic was much larger inside than it had appeared from the street. This was helpful, since there were quite a number waiting to be seen: the weekend being a choice time for owners unable to get away during the work week to accompany their pets. The waiting room, while spare, was bright and clean, and decorated with cheerful pictures of healthy hybrids. Gazing off to his right, Hiroki noted about half a dozen hybrid-children playing quietly in the corner, where a number of toys had been set out just for that purpose.
This isn't so bad… It's just like a regular Doctor's office really.
The feeling of comfort this thought brought quickly faded, however, on further inspection of the room. Hiroki soon realized that the cushioned chairs were all occupied by humans and that the clinic's obvious patients were either sitting or kneeling on the floor beside the chair-sitters.
"Excuse me, Sir. Are you a new client?"
Hiroki looked up to see a young, lady-hybrid standing before him. When she straightened from her bow he could see she held a paper-filled clipboard pressed to her small chest. She had a name tag clipped to her crisp smock that identified her as Suzu. White bunny ears perked politely forward.
Hiroki returned the bow, drawing a look of surprise from the bunny-girl. "Ah, yes. Or more correctly, he is." He nodded to Nowaki who offered his own bow.
"I'm a Kusama, Nowaki."
"Oh, yes!" Suzu's freckled nose crinkled cutely in appreciation of the handsome inu standing before her. "Kamijou-san, I have you listed right here." She sorted through her clipboard to locate the new patient intake files. Locating the correct papers, she held these out to Hiroki.
Seeing his confused expression she quickly clarified. "You see, Kamijou-san, while your Kusama is the patient here; you're our valued client, first and foremost!"
"Now if you'd be so kind as to fill all these out; I'll let Dr. Ochi and her staff know that you're here. Please make yourself comfortable. Also, if you would, please take these over to Hamanaka-san when you've completed them, it would be much appreciated." Suzu's long ears motioned over to where several human administrators sat behind the clinic's reception desk.
Still processing Suzu's words as he took the proffered papers, Hiroki felt a gentle brush against his arm.
"Oh, Hiro-san, I think I see a good seat for you!"
In an instant, Nowaki had taken his elbow and was gently propelling him over to the less crowded side of the waiting room. Despite the fact he didn't appreciate being herded along like some auburn-wooled sheep, Hiroki allowed himself to be led. He was too stunned by the new information Suzu had provided on human/hybrid social dynamics to properly protest.
"Hiro-san, do you mind if I go sit with the children?" Nowaki had ceased his sheepdog routine and was gazing wistfully over at the small pack of young hybrids still playing in the corner.
"Sure, Nowaki, whatever…"
The gratitude in Nowaki's eyes at being given such a simple permission made Hiroki's heart ache. He watched as Nowaki all but bounced over to the assortment of predominantly hybrid-pups and kittens, his long tail wagging behind.
Slumping down into the chair, Hiroki sought distraction from his tumultuous feelings in the words on the forms Suzu had given him. He pulled out his glasses and slipped them on as he began to read. What he found here, however, made him even more uncomfortable. The first three pages he was to fill out, all asked questions almost exclusively about him: his job, the hours he worked, what kind of residence he lived in, how many humans his family consisted of. Additional questions would have been asked about these individuals too, if he'd not been a single owner.
His stomach twisted when he reached a page that wanted to know how much and how often he fed his "pet" and what his hybrid's diet consisted of. Following was a list of preferred means of "correction" for managing behavior to be checked off, along with a section asking for a breakdown of how the patient/pet was "utilized" within the household.
Below this was yet another area for indicating usage by each member of pets belonging to multiple person families, as well as a section requesting, in the most causal language, disclosure of details for hybrids "loaned out" on any kind of regular basis.
While his awareness of the inequity between his and Nowaki's worlds had been quickly increasing since he'd brought Nowaki home, the clean, clinical, plain black characters on the whites pages clasped in his hand, at last revealed the total "slave-reality" of Japan's hybrids' life to him in a way he could never again deny. The weight of this new knowledge pressed against Hiroki's chest and he felt it difficult to draw a breath.
What have I done… "adopting" Nowaki?
"It can be a bit daunting filling out these forms the first time."
Hiroki looked over and saw a handsome young man seated beside him. The fellow had unruly brown hair and kind, green eyes. A blush filled Hiroki's cheeks when he suddenly realized he knew him. He'd met the man a few times at Adamsite, a gay bar he sought out occasionally when the needs of his flesh got "out of hand," so to speak.
While he had never hooked up with this, Morinaga fellow; Hiroki had an intimate knowledge of the younger man's cohort, the bartender, Hiroto.
"I don't know if you remember me or not, Kamijou-san; I'm Morinaga…"
"Erm, yes… " Hiroki answered at last, adding a nod of assent.
Morinaga gestured over to the corner where Nowaki was now down on all fours, trying not to crumble beneath the weight of the giggling children who'd piled on top of him. "I haven't seen you around for a while. Is this because of your friend there?"
At such open reference to things related to his sexual life, normally Hiroki would have rebuffed the younger man. While he knew this Morinaga, like Hiroto, was out with his sexuality, he preferred to keep his orientation and his activities to himself. At the use of the word "friend" instead of pet, however, Hiroki allowed his guard to drop slightly.
"No, ours is a new 'friendship.' I have just been too busy with work." This was, in fact, a half-truth.
While things at the university had been keeping him very busy, the last time Hiroki ventured out to the bar, he'd drank quite a bit and gone home with Hiroto. There, the bartender had slipped a powerful aphrodisiac into his next drink. While it had made for some incredible fucking, it had also come as a surprise and rendered him immobile for a time. Neither of these things had sat well with him and so, despite Hiroto's apologies and declarations he hadn't been aware of the full strength of the drug, Hiroki had avoided going back.
"Having someone to care for is a wonderful thing… Even better, if that someone cares back…" Morinaga murmured softly. "I hope you and your friend can be happy together, Kamijou-san."
The longing tone in these words caused Hiroki to look at Morinaga with new eyes. He suddenly realized that though he had seen him at Adamsite on several occasions, he'd never once seen the younger man dart into the bar's notorious back room or leave with anyone either.
Despite his private nature, Hiroki felt himself being pulled out. "You're here with a friend of your own, I take it, Morinaga-san?"
Hiroki noted that before he replied, Morinaga took a moment to adjust the long-sleeve of the shirt he was wearing. His keen eyes had caught the bandages on Morinaga's arm earlier. A few deep scratches had peeped out at him from beneath the edges of the gauze.
Hiroki wondered if having his "friend" under the weather was the cause of Morinaga's melancholy.
"The truth is, Kamijou-san…" Morinaga hesitated, but he knew Hiroki a bit and needed to confess to someone to assuage his troubled conscience.
"I adopted my neko-Tatsumi not too long ago; although I have known him for a couple years now.
"I actually work under him at T University. He's a genius, no matter what some people say about hybrids. And he's worked very hard to get where he is." Admiration flared in green eyes before this fire was dampened once more by regret.
"His previous owner traveled quite a bit and was leaving for a few years work outside the country when I offered to take him. You see, I have cared about Senpai for some time and was so happy that he would finally be my own."
"Unfortunately, his first owner often fostered him out when he'd taken other long trips. Several of these guardians took advantage of Senpai. He had a particularly bad experience with one. The man was supposed to be a mentor as well as his foster…" Morinaga's dark head gave a dispirited shake. "I'd hoped that if I was patient, I could help him recover from these experiences and become comfortable in his uke nature... but…"
The events of their last disastrous encounter flashed through Morinaga's mind. Damn Hiroto for giving me his potion! If only Senpai hadn't found that bottle… If only I had been stronger to resist his compromised state!
Morinaga had no intention of regaling Hiroki with all the sordid details, so instead he just shrugged at last. "Rather than get better, he's become increasingly violent." Once again Morinaga unconsciously adjusted his sleeve covering his Senpai's most recent claw marks. "I have been worried that Senpai's temper might get him in real trouble soon: most people have little patience for hybrid tempers. I was hoping that maybe Dr. Ochi could help."
As if the mention of the vet's name had some power of summons, bunny-girl Suzu suddenly appeared at Morinaga's side.
"Morinaga-san, Ochi-sensei will see you now. Please come with me and I'll take you back to your Tatsumi. I was asked to let you know too that Dr. Ochi extends her apologies… I am afraid she had to sedate him in order to do the exam."
A sigh slipped from Morinaga as he rose to follow. Before stepping after Suzu's retreating cotton-puffed tail, he turned back to Hiroki. "I wish you the best with your friend, Kamijou-san. You certainly seem to have made an excellent choice."
As soon as Morinaga disappeared into the back of the clinic, Hiroki looked towards the children's corner and saw Nowaki returning to him. After his time with the children, Nowaki radiated happiness. A sudden warmth filled Hiroki's chest. It was a sensation he'd only ever experienced in the last few days, since the big, goofy inu had entered his life.
When he arrived back to Hiroki, without a word, Nowaki plopped down on the floor beside him. Hiroki was about to contest this move and order Nowaki up into Morinaga's vacated seat, but then Nowaki leaned a dark head against his thigh. It was an entirely pleasant sensation and before he knew what he was doing, Hiroki reached one of his hands over and ran long fingers over the soft fur of one of Nowaki's pointed, black ears.
Nowaki sighed and settled further in, his long tail offering a couple of contented thumps against the tiled floor. Hiroki found both sounds and Nowaki's settling soothing. He wondered suddenly what it would have been like if Nowaki had turned out to be like Morinaga's Tatsumi.
How troublesome. A strange gratitude welled in Hiroki's heart, despite the circumstances of his and Nowaki's meeting.
Beside Hiroki, Nowaki's own heart was filled with a glowing joy. He'd all but lost hope, long ago, that someone would ever adopt him, let alone someone as remarkable as his Hiro-san.
Even though he could have easily dozed off sitting so comfortably next to his new owner, Nowaki raised his head when his ears caught the sounds of a wee-hybrid in distress. A woman slipped into the empty seat next to Hiroki, holding a young, inu-boy of about four, in her arms.
"Such a bad pup you are! First sneaking out into the garden and now this! Honestly, Suki, if you don't stop with this noise you're going to get another punishment added when we get back home!"
Nowaki's dark ears flattened back both at the exasperated tone of the woman's voice and her threat. Even from where he was sitting on the floor, he could see the fevered flush on the child's tear-stained cheeks. He noted too that the boy fretfully rubbed a small fist along his jaw and the bottom of his human ear.
"Excuse me, Mistress," Nowaki's tone was humble. Based on the sharp cut of the woman's garment and her manner, he imagined she was either a high-end hybrid breeder, or a rich owner who had been forced to take one of her house-hybrids' children into Ochi's.
A finely coiffed head turned Nowaki's direction and she peered at the inu over Hiroki's legs. The woman's gaze left Nowaki and she turned her attention to Hiroki. "You really should teach your pet some manners. How rude for him to speak to me so plainly!"
Hiroki bristled at this; he had heard nothing remotely inappropriate in Nowaki's address. In fact he'd been troubled to hear Nowaki petition some stranger with such a lofty title.
"I'm so sorry, Hiro-san." Nowaki's anxious tone stopped Hiroki from offering the sharp retort that sat on his tongue. "I was only going to ask her if I could be of any assistance."
Hearing this, the woman snorted. Once again she addressed Hiroki instead of speaking to Nowaki. "What on earth could your mutt possibly do to help me?"
"I see no need for you to denigrate my companion's lineage," Hiroki snapped back. Then, seeing the worried way Nowaki's eyes kept shifting over to the whimpering boy-pup, he softened his tone. "And Nowaki is remarkably good with children."
At the polished language Hiroki had thrown at her, the woman paused, momentarily taken aback. The young man beside her was obviously a person of breeding, even if his shaggy-haired pet was obviously not. She was tired too of holding the sniveling pup, so she shifted her own tone and addressed Nowaki directly at last.
"And how would you go about assisting me, exactly?"
With these words Nowaki rose and quickly moved across room. He stopped Suzu in the midst of her energetic hopping about the waiting room and spoke to the bunny-hybrid a moment. After receiving a long eared nod he returned quickly and knelt down next to the woman making his head eye level with the little inu in her lap.
"Suki-chan…" Softly Nowaki called out to the uncomfortable pup. "My name is Nowaki. Would you like to come and sit with me for a bit?"
Suki straightened up and peered miserably out at Nowaki from beneath pale-blond bangs. He sniffed lightly: first from his tears and then taking in the dark inu's scent, even though he'd been told such actions were rude. His floppy golden ears lifted slightly and he grimaced at the motion, but he smelled nothing but goodness coming off of Nowaki.
Biting his plump bottom lip, after a moment more of weary hesitation, Suki nodded.
He slipped off his breeder's lap and almost instantly wrapped his arms around Nowaki's neck. Burying his nose into Nowaki's neck, comforted by the older hybrid's smell, the puppy-boy gave a quiet hiccup and then began softly crying. Nowaki gathered Suki up and sat down arranging the boy's thin legs in his lap.
Hiroki strained to hear the soft words Nowaki was rumbling into Suki-chan's blond mane, but he couldn't make them out. Whatever he was saying, however, seemed to be having a positive effect, and the boy was occasionally nodding or offering a whispered word or two in response. After a few minutes of this quiet exchange, Suki stopped crying and the only sound he made was an occasional heavy sigh.
Nowaki looked up when Suzu popped up beside him. He stopped rubbing soothing circles on Suki-chan's back only long enough to take the ice pack the bunny-hybrid held out to him.
"Thank you so much, Suzu-san."
"Ah, please, call me Nowaki."
The pink inside Suzu's ears suddenly darkened, as did her pale cheeks. "Of course, thank you Nowaki-san." She looked uncomfortably over to Hiroki. "Um, Kamijou-san… your Kusam—er, Nowaki-san, asked me if his appointment could be deferred and his earlier time given to Suki-chan here."
Nowaki looked up at Hiroki at these words. "I know you have papers to grade, Hiro-san. But I think that Dr. Ochi will be able to help ease Suki-chan's suffering quite quickly. I suspect when he was out in the garden he managed to get a grass burr in his ear and it has worked its way down into the canal." As he said this Nowaki pressed the ice pack Suzu had given him up under one of Suki's fuzzy gold ears.
At the feeling of the cold here, Suki whimpered softly but he didn't cry.
While extending the wait would put him behind some, Hiroki hated to see any child feeling so miserable. Next to him the breeder's eyes widened when she heard him agree to Nowaki's request.
"If it would help. I can't see what harm it would do for Nowaki to wait a few more minutes. It's not like he's unwell."
The look of appreciation on Nowaki's face would have been worth a hundred graded essays to Hiroki. But rather than allow this to show, he merely frowned and gruffed lightly at Suzu. "How much longer do you think it will be until the boy can be seen?"
Suzu smiled at Hiroki, moved by his consideration. "I can take him back right now. Would you mind, Kamijou-san, if your Kusama went back with me to help Suki-chan get settled in?"
As soon as he gave a nod of assent, Nowaki rose with Suki still held tight in his arms.
"Would you like to come back too, Shibata-san?"
The breeder seated next to Hiroki gave Suzu a dismissive wave of her hand. "I'll find my way back in a moment; I have a few calls to make first."
With this, the three hybrids headed off to the examination rooms, leaving Hiroki and Shibata alone.
Hiroki immediately turned his attention back to the forms. He had little difficulty filling out the questions about himself, but the ones actually geared to Nowaki were much harder. He had known him so briefly Nowaki was still very much a mystery to him. Hiroki reached into the breast pocket of his coat and withdrew Nowaki's pound papers, glad that he'd thought to bring them along.
Beside him Shibata did not make any calls. Instead she spent several minutes studying the young man beside her.
Hiroki looked up from his paperwork when Shibata cleared her throat and began speaking.
"Your pet does indeed seem to have quite a way with children. How much?"
Hiroki blinked as he processed Shibata's words. "Excuse me?" He was sure he had misheard.
"How much? I'd like to buy him from you."
Such a brash and plain inquiry rendered Hiroki speechless.
"I am a reputable breeder, who has recently found herself without a good nurse-maid. Your Kusama would do nicely at my kennel, I think."
Hiroki sputtered. "Nowaki is not for sale!"
"Oh come now, Kamijou-san, is it?" Shibata's expression had slipped into something sly. "Do you not even wish to hear my offer? I am certain a young man like yourself, living in the city, must have numerous expenses.
"I couldn't help but notice your Kusama's papers and I am sure I can offer you far more than whatever it was you paid to adopt him."
Shibata misread the expression of distaste on Hiroki's face. "I know that I may be seeming overly bold here, Kamijou-san, but this is business and I have never been one to allow a good thing to slip by me.
"Seeing his adoption date, I can't imagine that you'd be too attached to him yet. And you could adopt a dozen pound pleasure pets for what I'd be willing to give you."
Hiroki was horrified by Shibata's callousness and by her interpretation of his and Nowaki's configuration. However, her words stirred another emotion in him as well, and he realized too that despite the fact it was true, he had only known Nowaki for a very short time, he was indeed already attached to his new "roommate."
Slowly, Hiroki folded up Nowaki's pound papers and returned them to his pocket. His glasses followed shortly after. This done he turned his attention back to Shibata. The woman had interpreted Hiroki's actions as mulling over her offer, not that he was fighting hard not to explode at her in such a public space.
"Shibata-san, I will not repeat myself." Hiroki schooled his features and his face took on the stern, serious expression that terrorized his students. "Nowaki is not for sale… Not now… Not ever."
"And while it may be hypocritical of me to say this in my current arrangement with my companion, your business disgusts me."
Hiroki rose from his seat, staring down at Shibata. The breeder had gone pale with embarrassment and anger at his words.
"Kamijou-san, Nowaki-san was right! Ochi-sensei was able to get the burr out and Suki-chan's feeling better already! Shibata-san, Dr. Ochi will be out in a minute to talk to you about Suki-chan's ear treatment and Kamijou-san, Nowaki-san's waiting in a room in back now if you'd like to join him…"
Suzu's bright tone dimmed when Hiroki shifted his attention to the bunny assistant who had just popped back out into the waiting room from the back of the clinic with Suki standing beside her, his small hand in hers.
Long, white ears trembled at the intensity that burned in Hiroki's gaze. "Ah, I am so sorry, Kamijou-san, Shibata-san. Please forgive me; I didn't mean to interrupt.
Dropping his eyes from Suzu to the little golden-haired inu at her side, Hiroki's expression quickly shifted from anger to barely concealed sadness. He reached out a hand and gently ruffled the little boy's head, being careful of his inu ears. Suki smiled up at him shyly.
Hiroki turned his back completely on Shibata. "There's no interruption here, Suzu-san. In fact I think you arrived just in time. Please… Take me back to Nowaki."
Long time since an update. I hope to do better but can make no promises.
So, this chapter came out with a more serious tone than I intended, but know that I'll have the Egoists leaving in good humor with a randy lemon to follow and that you'll get another glimpse of tyrant in the next chapter. Then it is back to Nostalgia, Trifecta, Artistica. Domestica and Erotica following after.
Thank you for reading and your reviews when I post, or even weeks after, are always cherished!