So, at this point, everyone knows that I was forced to remove Lemon Island and its mature content due to the Eliminator Forum vicious attacking and trolling me. I'm going to move ALL my mature stories to a new website. If you're just as sick of this as I am, please join our cause to bring freedom back to Fanfiction!
Avenger Forum link, remove spaces and *: www. fanfiction. n*e*t /forum/Avenger/119079 (All information can be found in the Supporter forum.)
The Rebellion Forum link, remove spaces and *: www. fanfiction. n*e*t /forum/The-Rebellion/114259/ (Most forums are banding together here.)
Petition for an MA rating link, remove spaces and *: www. change. o*r*g /petitions/fanfiction-net-we-want-fanfiction-to-cr eate-a-ma-rating
Anyway, I have MOVED this story COMPLETELY to another site. You can find this STORY and all its subsequent UPDATES here: h*t*t*p*:*/*/ archiveofourown. o*r*g /works/770600/chapters/1446102
I have the same penname there as I do here: ParadiseAvenger
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"Black cats…" his sister whispered as she watched him walk away, completely alone. His shadow stretched across the cold black macadam, shining dimly with the wet gleam of rain. His body was so thin, his shadow even thinner, so that he really did look like a starving stray cat. She wondered if the free stray cat persona that he had become was what he really wanted to be or what he simply thought he was. People had been treating him like a stray animal his entire life—worse than a stray even. He was an unwanted black cat, unlucky and hated and misunderstood.
"Black cats," she whispered again. She had read somewhere that in medieval times, superstitious people had slaughtered, massacred, and butchered black cats out of fear and spite. At midsummer, sometimes, there was a ritual burning of black cats. Now, in modern times, shelters refused to adopt out black cats near Halloween, fearing that they would be tortured or used as living decorations before being abandoned. (1) It was unfortunate that out of all things her brother could have been, he became a stray tormented black cat—unlucky, hated, and misunderstood.
"Black cats," she whispered one final time with a soft sad sigh. She wished there was something she could do for him, anything… anything at all. But, as there was nothing she could do for a feral cat living on the street, there was nothing she could do for her brother. She didn't even know where he slept at night or kept his clothes or when his last good meal was. He was alone, his body looked half-starved, and his only possession was their father's violin. He was a stray cat, flitting into her life to check on her and then leaving into the darkness again, just like an unwanted unlucky stray black cat.
The night was cold and deep black, starless, moonless, too close to winter for anyone to be outside in his condition, but he didn't have anywhere else to go. The outside world, the alleys and streets, the gutters and ghettos, the stoops of kind old women, was the only home he had left anymore—just like a stray cat. A life like that might have been alright for a stray cat, but he wasn't a cat. He was a human boy without even fur or a jacket to keep him warm. He had left the house where his sister and step-father lived too quickly, eager to escape that gilded cage, and had forgotten everything except his most precious violin. Now, on the dark street, it was all he carried with him.
He shuddered as a cold wind whipped down between the buildings around him, wrapping his arms around his thin body and feeling the bones beneath the skin. It was too cold, too dark, too much. All he wanted was to sleep someplace warm, someplace safe, someplace where there was light and pillows and blankets. It was sad that he asked for so little yet… if it was so little to ask for, something most people even took for granted, why was it so hard for him to find what he so desperately wanted?
Another gust tore through his thin body, whipping through his thin black shirt and jeans. He felt like a shard of the night, blown about by the wind. He shuddered again, clenching his teeth to keep them from chattering. He didn't want his only friend—Yoru, who was snuggled inside his shirt against his bare skin, safe and warm and out of sight—to know that he felt on the edge of the world. If he took one more step, the dark and cold would just swallow him up. He would cease to be and no one would miss him.
His little sister, Utau, was probably better off without him. She kept doing bad things, shady things, twisted things, all in the hope that she could somehow help him, save him, bring him back home. If she didn't have him to worry about, then maybe she could get out of this snarled life. She had a beautiful voice, a pretty face, talent and kindness. With all that, she could go far—if only he wasn't in her way, holding her back, worrying her. She would miss him though. God, would she ever miss him.
The boy he had grown up with who considered him an older brother, Tadase, wouldn't miss him either. To Tadase, he was only an inconvenience, not even a true enemy worth his time. He was just a thieving black cat, out of sight and out of mind. When their paths happened to cross, Tadase fought him and reminded him of the deep-seated hatred between them. He vaguely knew there was a misunderstanding between them that might have been fixed, but he didn't hold out that hope.
Maybe that girl, Amu… the strong one, the joker in the deck, the one who had heard him play the violin once, the one who had tried her best to help him even when she barely knew who or what he was. But, no… She was Tadase's friend. He couldn't go to her. Being Tadase's friend made her his enemy and he wasn't someone worth breaking alliances and friendships over. Who went out of their way to save a stray cat? A pet, maybe, but not a stray. And he was only a stray.
He shuddered again as the wind blew through him and felt Yoru shift inside his shirt as he became aware of the cold outside the protective fabric. The stray boy cupped his hand over the little creature hiding inside his shirt, keeping him warm even as another shudder of cold rattled through his bones. See, he wasn't a bad person. He was just… out of place and unwanted, unlucky and misunderstood, like a stray black cat on the street.
His teeth were on the point of breaking if he clenched them any harder, his bones rattled together like ice cubes in a glass, his thin body was bare of any fat to keep him warm, and his clothes were too thin to protect him. If he stayed out here, on the street in the night, he would freeze to death… But, did it even matter? The only thing he had to live for was Yoru and if he died, Yoru would cease to exist along with him. There wasn't much reason to fight the cold and death.
He ducked into an alley, out of the tearing claws of the wind, and hunkered down against the wall. He gathered his long legs against his chest like a pair of twigs, pressed the violin case against his side, and tucked his head down. Breathing softly, he told himself that he wasn't cold. He wasn't in an alley. He wasn't going to freeze to death and he wasn't alone. He wrapped himself up in a blanket of pretty lies, being sure all the while to keep Yoru warm within the shelter of his body.
It was all he could do, really. It wasn't as if he had a home to go to or friends to depend on or even a blanket that was purely his to keep warm with. He and Yoru and his father's violin… that was all he had in this world save the alleys, streets, stoops—lies, broken promises, shattered dreams, and bruises. Shivering again, he pulled his body, single possession, and single friend a little closer. He tried to forget his lies. He imagined a warm bed with thick downy quilts, a few pillows, and a glass of water on the nightstand—his simple fantasy. Then, even though he probably shouldn't have, he drifted off to sleep.
Hinamori Amu was going home. She had her head tucked against the cold breeze. She was dressed warmly in a knitted hat slouched low over her brow and ears, a thick scarf around her neck, toasty knitted gloves, plus a winter pea coat and thick fur-lined boots. She was pleasantly warm though each gust of icy air howling through the buildings reminded her that it was not a good night to be without a jacket and a hat. Luckily, she had both and more.
Suddenly, a black cat darted from the shadows and streaked across her path. Yowling, it vanished within the shadows of an alleyway.
A lesser person would have crossed themselves and turned in a circle to ward off bad luck, but Amu's mind didn't immediately turn in that direction. Her first thought was of Tsukiyomi Ikuto. She had seen him a few days ago and thought he looked thinner and more worn-down than usual. Winter—Christmas—was coming and she had a feeling he wouldn't be going home.
In the alley, the black cat that had crossed her path yowled loudly.
Another icy gust blew through Amu and she shuddered. She hoped Ikuto had found a safe place tonight, someplace warm and out of this god-awful wind. She ducked her head again, rubbing her cold hands together even though she was wearing gloves. It really was cold tonight.
The cat yowled again, but there was something about the sound that made Amu stop and turn. She waited, listening, but the cry didn't come again until she had once again turned to leave. It was as if the cat was pleading with her, urging her to come, to look, to see, to help…
Amu stared at the dark mouth of the alley, recalling all those stories she had heard about kidnappers, rapists, and molesters. They were said to often use the phrase, 'Can you help me find my kitty?' or 'Would you like some candy?' It might have been only a superstition, like the black cat, but Amu didn't want to be added to a statistic. She turned away, prepared to ignore the cat if and when it cried out again. She made it a few steps, putting the alley behind her.
Then, the cat screamed and the sound was so human in its pain that Amu froze in her tracks. This time, the cat didn't stop now as if knowing it had caught her attention. It continued to yowl and scream and shriek, the sound chilling Amu's blood. She darted back to the alley, wishing she had a flashlight with her, but the moment she reached the mouth of the alley, the cat stopped howling. Its yellow eyes shone in the darkness, beseeching. Now, it meowed softly and pawed at something in the dark.
"Is that a…" Amu choked out, "…a body?"
The cat meowed again and sat, watching her urgently with its golden eyes.
Eyeing the shadows for movement, Amu stepped into the darkness of the alley, going toward the gleam of the cat's yellow eyes for guidance. She tripped over something and went down on her knees, cursing softly. She groped in the dark with her hands and then she felt it. The cat was nudging her, purring, and guiding her once again. The cat pushed her hands to the right until Amu felt something that wasn't brick wall or garbage as she had been expecting. It was something that was still warm, something breathing, something… alive.
"W-who?" she whispered.
The cat meowed, still sitting there, watching her. Its golden eyes seemed to glow in the darkness. Amu fumbled around for her phone. The screen was rather bright and it was better than the total darkness she was immersed in. Managing to find it, she pressed a button and squinted in the harsh bright light of the cell phone. Then, like a flashlight, she aimed the faint light at what the cat had guided her hand to. Her breath caught in her throat, frozen there like an ice-covered stone.
It was Ikuto!
Amu yelped, scrambling backwards, thanking heaven that she was wearing gloves so the rough concrete didn't tear up her skin. The black cat meowed again, pleadingly, and Amu glanced away from Ikuto to the cat. Then, her eyes flew back to Ikuto's fallen form. He was pressed against the brick wall, wedged into the corner where the wall met the green dumpster. His legs were pulled up against his chest, his arms wrapped tightly around them and his violin case tucked tightly against his side. The only sign that he was even still alive were the puffs of breath visible in the cold air.
"Ikuto!" Amu gasped out and gripped his narrow shoulders, shaking him gingerly. She didn't want to risk hurting him, unsure of why he was pressed in the corner of a dark alley when it was so cold and late, alone and half-frozen. What if he was hurt? What if he was dying? She whispered again, "Ikuto!"
He groaned, his eyelids fluttering weakly.
His sapphire eyes eased open and stared at her for a moment without fully seeming to recognize her. Then, he blinked and gazed into her face. "Amu," he murmured. "What… what are you doing… this late… when it's… cold…?"
She stared at him, dumbfounded. He was sleeping in an alley on the border of wintertime and he was asking her that? She snorted, "What are you doing, Ikuto?"
He glanced at his surroundings and seemed to realize what he had just said. His lips pulled up in a thin frail smile. "Ah, I'm sleeping," he said. His teeth chattered at the end of his sentence and he clenched them tightly to stop the sound from escaping.
"Here?" she repeated. "Why?"
He opened his mouth, his teeth chattered, and he snapped it closed. What was he supposed to tell her anyway? That he was sleeping in a freezing alley because he didn't have a home to go home to? That he didn't even have a bed or a blanket? That he was as homeless and unwanted as a stray black cat in Salem during the Witch Trials? He turned his sapphire gaze away, staring into the darkness.
"Well?" she asked him. She was tempted to cross her arms over her chest and tap her foot, but Ikuto flinched at her words as if she had physically struck him. Softly, gingerly, she asked again, "Ikuto, why are you sleeping here?"
"I don't…" he trailed off, biting his lower lip.
There was movement within his black shirt and a sweet little cat face peeked up over the edge of his collar. "We don't have any place to go, Amu-chan, nya…" Yoru murmured, seemingly unaware that Ikuto was trying to hide that.
"Yoru," Ikuto hissed and pushed his little guardian back down inside the front of his shirt.
Amu just stared at him. "You… don't… have anywhere to go?" she whispered. "So you're sleeping… here?"
Ikuto didn't look at her, ashamed.
With a sigh, Amu crouched beside him and began peeling off some clothing. She took off her hat first and slipped it on over his head, pulling it down over his eyes and ears carelessly. Then, she unwound her scarf from her own neck and twined it around Ikuto's thin throat instead. Finally, she tugged off her gloves and reached for his hand. He shied away at first, as if her hands had transformed into claws, but finally allowed her to touch him. Visibly, he sighed as her warmth seeped into his icy flesh.
"God, your fingers are like ice," she whispered.
Disgraced, he tried to pull away, but his hand seemed to be working against his arm. Even as he pulled away, his fingers twined almost desperately with hers, seeking the warmth she offered. Gingerly, Amu rubbed his fingers between her palms and then did her best to fit her small gloves over his larger hands. Luckily, the gloves were knit and stretched to the limit to accommodate him. There was no way he'd fit inside her coat and she didn't really have anything else to take off, but gloves, a hat, and a scarf didn't seem like adequate protection against the icy cold.
"Ikuto," she said finally, still gripping his hand. "You can't stay out here. It's too cold. You'll…"
He turned away and she had a feeling he was ashamed of the situation he was in. It had never been so apparent that he was the unlucky black cat. On a freezing night like this, he had no place to go—no place to call home, no warm safe shelter. He was here, sleeping in an alley.
"Come on," she said and tugged on his hands.
He struggled to get to his feet—his feet were cold and uncooperative and his legs were numb though some feeling was coming back into his ears and hands. His chest where Yoru was nestled against him was the only warm place on his body save where Amu was still gripping his hand. He reached for his violin case, but his fingers were too numb to close around the strap. Amu lifted it for him and shouldered it with a small smile.
"It's alright," she said softly.
Ikuto shied away under her gaze, following her from the alleyway like the stray black cat he was. Once they were out, Amu glanced back into the alley and saw that the black cat that had guided her was gone as if it had never even existed.
The icy wind continued to gust at them through the darkness—howling through the trees and rattling branches, blowing through the high buildings and shaking the windows. Beside her, she heard a chattering sound and realized that it was Ikuto's teeth. She glanced at him, but he was staring straight ahead. His face was pale, but he had one hand cupped over Yoru inside his shirt. She smiled softly. He really was… a good person, she realized.
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(1) This is all true. They used to slaughter and burn black cats in England which is why they think the Black Plague hit them so hard. Less cats meant more rats and since the fleas on rats brought the plague… do the math. Even now, shelters won't adopt out black cats near Halloween. Weirdly enough, a lot of other cultures (like Japan) think black cats are an omen of good luck. I, personally, love black cats except when they sleep on your white clothes.
And I removed the original mature content that continued from that point due to the trolls. Please join the cause to bring maturity to Fanfiction again. Or read this story and all its updates in its original version on Archive of Our Own.