Chapter One

Yokozawa stood near the dumpsters, smoking, as he disinterestedly watched the other "M" University students return after their summer break. About two thirds of the apartment complex's residents had gone home for the vacation. The student heavy housing unit his one room flat was in was cheaply made and having stayed behind he'd enjoyed the absent intrusive sounds coming through the paper thin walls, the evidence of living over or under other humans.

Given this, he really wasn't all that pleased to see his neighbors back again. His normally serious demeanor had grown increasingly stern as he'd observed his classmates buzzing about. Yokozawa scowled slightly witnessing the happy reunions of friends. From his place of quiet surveillance he caught snippets of their excited chatter about trips and travel.

For him, there had been no reason to return home and in truth, no real home to return to. He had been born to his parents late in their lives and growing up he'd soon realized neither had been particularly pleased with his intrusion. He'd quickly learned that things went best if he left his parents alone, they were happiest when reminders of his existence were minimal.

Then three years ago Yokozawa's father had passed away. Not long after his mother had re-married, wedding his father's older brother. Still trying to be a dutiful son, Yokozawa had gone home to Osaka to see his mother for a weekend during the break, but it was clear after just a day that there was really no room for him in the household. The uncle he'd rarely seen growing up was a condescending ass. Having pined after his brother's wife for years, Yokozawa's new stepfather had no intention of sharing his long-sought wife with any one, even her son.

Yokozawa had not really expected her to protest this, but for some reason, her silence in this matter had still pained him.

So, rather than stay, the twenty year-old had cut his trip short and headed back to Tokyo. Back on his own, Yokozawa had hoped that the remainder of his summer break would offer him some fruitful time for his writing, but he'd no such luck. Everything had been stalled; no words came to him, even with all the quiet.

At least I had that internship at Marukawa, so I can say that I wasn't entirely unproductive. Yokozawa tapped out his cigarette. He threw the butt into the dumpster and looked down where about half a dozen cats were contentedly twining about his legs, happy for the meal he'd just given them.

"Merrroowwrrr," one particularly bold, yellow feline chirped, gazing up with unblinking green eyes. Yokozawa bent down and slowly extended his fingers allowing the tom he'd nicknamed Gunzi to push up into his hand.

Yokozawa looked up from petting the cat to see yet another car pull up into the apartment's small crowded lot. Being that the unit housed "poor" students, very few of the residents had cars. He watched as a striking dark-haired youth clambered out. The boy opened the back door, pulled out a smallish suitcase and, to Yokozawa's surprise, a pet carrier.

Gray eyes watched as the new arrival muttered some soft, soothing words to the mewling creature inside the carrier. Then the boy's phone rang. The youth set the pet crate with its now quiet occupant on the roof of the car as he pulled his cell out of his pocket to answer it.

"What?" the boy answered sharply and his surprisingly deep voice was loud enough for Yokozawa to hear at least one side of the conversation clearly.

"God, eighteen years you don't talk to me and now I'm not even gone a day and you call me four times? If I'd known that was what I needed to do to have a conversation with you, I would have moved out when I was ten."

Yokozawa noticed the boy's broad shoulder's stiffen as he listened to the caller on the other end of the line.

"I told you, a guy will come and pick up the rest of my stuff tomorrow… No, I paid him already with the money you left… No. I don't need any more. Bye."

Yokozawa watched the boy put his phone away. The youth took up the carrier again and his suitcase. As the teen turned their eyes caught and Yokozawa was momentarily stunned by the sharp amber gaze that challenged his own. He knew the other teen had immediately ascertained his eavesdropping and he also knew he should have the decency to drop his eyes and look away but he couldn't bring himself to do it.

The two of them were locked into a silent standoff, until a loud voice pierced the hot afternoon air. Yokozawa looked down as the cats milling around his legs suddenly scattered.

"Hey, Yokozawa! What the hell did I say about you feeding those strays?" Sawada the building's assistant manager shouted.

Yokozawa glanced up again just in time to see the potbellied, middle aged man lumber over to him. He casually kicked the empty plastic plate he'd put the cat's food on under the dumpster as he pulled out a new smoke.

"Don't," Yokozawa gruffed around his cigarette as the breathless man drew near.

"Eh?" Sawada panted.

"You said don't feed them," Yokozawa growled lighting up.

"That's right! I don't want them hanging around."

"Well, do you see any cats here?" Yokozawa stared hard at Sawada through his exhalation. His smoke-laden voice was brash, despite the fact the building's assistant manager was considerably older. "Any trace of feeding? I mean, you make these accusations when I'm just standing here innocently smoking."

"Don't get cocky with me, you disrespectful punk!" Sawada huffed, "I saw a dozen cats here!"

"Really?" Yokozawa's brows in mock surprise.

Sawada was furious with this bad attitude and couldn't help but rise to the baiting tone. He glanced angrily around and his eye caught that of the boy carrying the suitcase.

"Hey! you there!" Sawada was a bit disconcerted when the youth's head turned to him revealing an apathetic gaze. "You saw all those cats here. Right?"

The dark-haired youth's expression didn't alter. "No," he said simply and began moving forward again.

Sawada sighed in exasperation at how these brats hung together, then he saw the carrier Takano was grasping. His bushy brows folded and he redirected his fury at the new arrival. "Hey, what the hell kid! No pets… did you not read your lease?"

Sawada's distraction offered Yokozawa the opportunity to amble away, making a very casual looking escape. Still his conscience pricked him and he felt uncomfortable just leaving the other boy to Sawada's haranguing, especially after the guy had defended him in a way. At the base of the stairs, Yokozawa stopped. He cursed his responsible nature and turned around to see what further mess would occur as a result of his disobedience.

Rather than act flustered, the new tenant simply stared at the assistant manager until Sawada became unnerved. "Well, what do you have to say for yourself?" Sawada demanded.

"Pet deposit," the amber-eyed youth said coldly. "Substantial," he added. He set both his case and the carrier down and pulled out his wallet. From this he extracted a sheet of paper and handed it to Sawada.

Yokozawa watched as the assistant manager's expression shifted immediately. Sawada handed the slip back. After a moment of consideration, trying to save face he declared huffily, "Pet deposit or no, that thing gets out... or makes too much noise and you'll both be looking for a new home! Got it?"

"Yes, sir," Though his words were polite the new arrival's tone indicated otherwise.

"Damn delinquents!" Sawada muttered, retreating from the expressionless gaze. He nodded at the watching Yokozawa and shouted, "I have my eye on you too, Yokozawa, so don't get too comfortable!"

The two young men watched Sawada disappear around the edge of the building. The boy with the carrier picked up his things and began moving once more towards the building. Yokozawa nodded slightly when the other youth's eyes connected with his again as he made way over to the base of the stairs.

"So you like cats?" the new arrival asked though his voice sounded disinterested.

Yokozawa looked down at the carrier. A soft, sad mew emanated from inside it.

"They're easier to get along with than people." Yokozawa heard a snort and looked up into the other's arresting amber eyes and noticed a flicker of light there.

"No argument here," the boy murmured as he mounted the stairs.

Figuring this to be the end of their conversation, Yokozawa said nothing. He headed up to his apartment and was surprised to see the other traveling his same route a few paces ahead of him.

Finally, when the other youth had just passed Yokozawa's door, the newcomer turned and stared hard at him. "What's up with the following? I don't need any more stalk... er... strays!"

Yokozawa felt his anger rise at this, though he kept his face impassive. It gave him no small satisfaction then, to pull his apartment key out of his pocket and dangle it meaningfully in front of his accuser before slipping it into the lock before him.

"I live here."

The other boy set his suitcase down and rubbed the back of his head uncomfortably. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key of his own, slipping it into the door next to Yokozawa's. "I guess we're neighbors then," He murmured without apologizing.

"Ummmm..." Yokozawa, opened his door without further comment. Then, feeling unusually generous for some reason, he looked over at his new neighbor and offered with a nod, "I'm Yokozawa."

The other boy's eye's widened a bit at this verbal olive branch, he nodded back, "Saga… uh … wait, I mean Takano."

"Don't know your own name?" Yokozawa rumbled, getting even for the "stray" comment. He regretted this when the slight flicker of friendship that had lit Takano's eyes blew out.

"Long story," Takano mumbled looking away as he opened his own door and pushed his case in with his foot.

Again Yokozawa found himself going against his usually solitary nature. "Maybe you can tell it to me sometime."

He wasn't sure but he thought he saw an ember's glow in the other's gaze as Takano glanced back at him briefly before he turned away again and moved into his apartment.

"Maybe," Takano mumbled before closing the door behind him.

I keep putting a moratorium on myself for new stories, but the plot bunnies are multiplying out of control in my brain. This story should be like three chapters (though those of you who know me understand that means at least five… and yes… one of these will be Yokozawa X Takano lemon). Sorry to tease but don't expect an update anytime soon.

This is dedicated to miss Tea Bags… It was a prompt she gave me quite a long time ago and is in honor of our own tumultuous correspondence (presently placid).

Please Review…