'The rain is uncomfortably humid. It's a good thing I brought an umbrella today, but this is overbearing...'
Shirogane Miyuki thought to himself as he walked through the light rain, holding the umbrella nearly close to his head. Earlier, he had checked the weather forecast and saw that there would be a 70% chance of rain in the afternoon and didn't hesitate to bring his umbrella to school today. Unfortunately, he couldn't do anything about the high humidity, so he had gritted his teeth and moved on.
Today was rather productive as usual. He and Kaguya reviewed over club budgets and talked about possible renovations to the student council room (while shooting down some rather absurd suggestions from Fujiwara). He also tried to be discreet with asking Kaguya about her taste in music, but he ended up losing.
His work had called in to tell him that the place was closed due to the owner calling in sick, so he didn't have to come in today.
'It still would have been fine if they let me in today. I need to pay off some bills for the water and electricity...Oh well, I better send him a get-well card and flowers. I hope it isn't too serious...'
He was just one block away from his house when he heard a distinctive noise in the falling raindrops. He stopped and looked around him, searching for the sound.
'I heard a cat. Where is it?'
Another meow, louder and clearer than the first. Followed by another. The meowing continued on until Shirogane looked towards the alley near him. He stepped in it and spotted a small cardboard box with a soaked newspaper on top of it. With caution, he leaned down and lifted the paper up, looking inside.
A cat was curled up inside, attempting to protect itself from the rain. It was completely black and had a slightly long tail. When it sensed Shirogane peeking in, it looked up at him in surprise. The young man was taken aback by a pair of red eyes staring back at him, feelings of fascination and familiarity mixing inside him.
'This cat reminds me of...Shinomiya...'
Shirogane carefully reached inside the box, using his other hand with the umbrella to hold it over him and the cat. At first, the cat hissed and shrunk away from the approaching hand. The blond was patient and kept still, waiting for the cat to come to him.
The cat stopped baring its teeth and slowly approached him. It sniffed him, tickling his palm with its whiskers and tiny nose, then licked its sandpaper tongue against it.
Shirogane laughed and stroked its cheek as it nuzzled into his hand. "Poor thing. You shouldn't be out in the rain. Let me take care of you."
"Kei, I'm home!"
Shirogane announced as he shut the door with his feet, holding the box close to his chest. The cat meowed, popping its head out of the box to look at its new surroundings before looking at the blond.
He suppressed the feeling of adoration for the cat and gently put the box down on the floor. He held his arms out and cooed at it despite his embarrassment.
The cautious cat climbed out of the soggy box and sniffed the floor. Then it trotted up towards Shirogane, meowing at him with shining ruby red eyes.
'Why does this cat remind of Shinomiya so much? The hair, the eyes...just like her.'
"Is that a stray you brought in?"
The blond briefly looked up to see his sister in the doorway, already dressed in her casual clothes. Kei eyed at the cat, who was licking itself clean. It stopped and meowed at the girl, staring at her with curiosity.
"Ah yes. I was going to give her a bath. Do we still have that old water basin? Can you fill it for me?"
Kei grunted in reply, but proceeded to head to their closet and took out a plastic blue basin. She carried it out of the room, presumably to put water in it. It only took approximately two minutes until Kei came back with the tub full of cold water. Tucked under her arm was a pink bottle of soap and a blue towel.
"Here." Kei put the basin down and placed the soap and towel next to it. "Don't get anything wet."
Shirogane nodded. "Thank you. Did you do your homework?"
"Ugh! Shut it!" Kei huffed and stormed out of the room, shutting the door behind her. Shirogane sighed tiredly; he was getting quite tired of her acting so agitated around him.
'That reminds me, I don't know the cat's gender. I better check.'
"E-Excuse me." Shirogane muttered as he gingerly lifted the cat up and checked its underside. The cat yowled at him, almost biting his fingers in retaliation.
'You're a girl. Well, now what should I call you?'
He held the black cat up over the tub, looking deeply into its eyes. Fur black as the night sky, eyes like a pair of sharp rubies, perhaps throw in a red ribbon and it would look complete. Then it hit Shirogane.
"Kagu...ra. K-Kagura! Yes, your name will be Kagura!"
Shirogane quickly looked away so the newly-named Kagura wouldn't see the growing blush on his face. The cat meowed and licked him, showing her approval to the name.
"Yes, you really like it, don't you Kagura?" Shirogane crooned, scratching a finger behind her ear. A part was already becoming fond of the beautiful cat.
For the next few days, Shirogane always made sure to finish up his duties and his job so that he would come home and take care of Kagura. He was actually grateful for his father for looking after the small cat whenever he couldn't, though he couldn't personally thank him out loud.
Kei had also been chipping in taking care of Kaguya.Though she denied it, Shirogane could have sworn that she was becoming attached to her. He even walked in on her cuddling with the kitten before running off in a fit.
For the young student, it was safe to assume that Kagura was becoming a part of Shirogane's family.
Shirogane was humming a rather cheery tune to himself as he read some documents in the meeting room. Ishigami and Iino were unable to make it since both of them were sick (which was quite rare for the latter), so it was just him, Shinomiya, and Fujiwara.
"You seem to be in a happy mood again, President! What've you been up to?"
Fujiwara was munching happily on a plate of green tea jelly as she sat beside Kaguya, who was drinking tea and looking over documents while secretly paying attention to Shirogane. Both girls had noticed the student president's somewhat cheery mood recently and were curious to know why, especially Kaguya.
Shirogane didn't look up as he answered to Fujiwara, "Oh, I've been going home to Kagura the cat."
Kaguya hid her surprise, turning her head away and sipping her tea. She didn't know that he had recently adopted a cat. But he was poor, so she wondered how could he and his family afford to get a pet.
"Oh! Kei told me all about Kagura! So is it true that you picked her up off the streets when it was raining? How noble of you!"
Oh, that explained it.
"It was starting get heavy, so I had to take her in. She wasn't soaked too badly, so she was alright. It was difficult for me to bathe her since she fought with me, but she relented in the end."
Kaguya's eyebrows knitted in concern for a brief minute.
"So that explains the scratches on your arms the other day! She must've been a tough fighter!"
"She is, but she's quite affectionate and playful most of the time. She likes the food I cook for her and she keeps sneaking into my futon to sleep with me."
Suddenly, the vision of Shirogane cuddling with a cat made the girl's heart swoon a bit. She would do anything to see him with Kagura.
"I really want to meet her! Is she really staying with you?"
Kaguya had made a decision: she wanted to meet Kagura.
"Maybe. My home can't accommodate for Kagura, but I can compromise. I just need to save enough for food, a bed, maybe a brush or two..."
Shirogane glanced over at Kaguya, who was still drinking her tea while seemly not paying any attention to the conversation. A part of him wondered if the raven would be interested in seeing Kagura for a bit. The gears in his mind were already grinding as he considered the idea.
Shirogane looked up from his papers, schooling a neutral expression to hide his intent. He hoped that she would take the bait. "Shinomiya, would you like to come over and see her?"
Kaguya looked down as she refilled her cup, hiding the smile of interest at Shirogane's proposal. But on the inside, she was more than eager to accept. "Hmm. I suppose I could meet her."
Fujiwara stood up, looking upset at her best friend. "Ehh?! But I want to meet her first!"
The raven put her cup down again on the tray and picked it up, walking pass the whining pink-haired girl. "You need to finish up your homework. No excuses."
Both top students ignored the distraught Fujiwara as Kaguya walked up to Shirogane, pouring a cup of tea for him. "I will be looking forward to meeting your new pet."
Shirogane still didn't look up, but graciously accepted the cup while hiding a faint smile. Another game between him and Kaguya and already he seemed to have the lead.
'I must be cautious. Just you wait, Shinomiya. Me being a great cat owner will surely make your heart pound.'
Shirogane was hiding his giddiness. He was bringing Kaguya to his house and having her meet with Kagura. He hoped that the girl would end up falling for the cat and that it would heighten her opinion of him.
'I hope Kagura will like Shinomiya. She wasn't too picky with me, Kei, and our father.'
He looked towards Kaguya walking beside him, looking as composed and graceful as she usually was. He couldn't tell what she was thinking, and it secretly made him nervous.
'Shinomiya is pretty fond of Fujiwara's dog. So logically, she would start liking Kagura. I didn't think she would be an animal person, though...'
"I should've told you earlier, Shinomiya. Kei won't be home for another hour due to her student council duties and my father is out shopping, so it'll be the three of us."
Kaguya hummed, signalling that she was listening.Unknown to the blond, she was very eager to have some alone time with him. Although Kagura would be there and given what she has heard, they have already forged a strong bond together. Which was why she did some quick research on how to get along with cats before she left with Shirogane.
"Alright, we're here."
The pair have made it. As they walked up to the front door, Shirogane took his keys out of his bag. A meow rang from behind the door, almost startling Kaguya.
Shirogane quickly jammed the key into the door and unlocked it, barely disgusing his worry for his cat. "We're home!"
As soon as he slid the door open, Kagura proceeded to trot up to him and rub against his legs, purring loudly in delight. The boy chuckled and leaned down to pet her back, which made her nuzzle harder. It made Kaguya's heart flutter at the adorable sight, yet she kept herself composed.
"Alright alright, Kagura. I missed you too. Now behave yourself in front of our guest here."
Shirogane scooped up Kagura in his arms and gestured the black-haired girl to come in, who closed the door for them. Kaguya eyed the cat, who was looking very comfortable in the blond's arms and even licking his wrist. Once again, the girl felt warmth brewing in her stomach at the sight.
While stewing in her adoration, Shirogane glanced at Kaguya and noticed her looking at Kagura oddly. He became confused at her expression, not realizing the true reason behind it.
'What's wrong? Shinomiya doesn't seem to like it when I let Kagura snuggle in my arms? Or perhaps...'
A thought came across the blond's head, which made him blush a bit. He fought it down before it could take root and turned to Kaguya.
"Shinomiya, would you like to hold her?"
Kaguya snapped her head up at the student president, looking slightly surprised by the request. A part of her became ecstatic and wanted to hold Kagura, but another part of her was nervous since she never held a cat before.
Still, she couldn't let the opportunity go to waste. "Yes."
"O-Okay." Shirogane began to slowly pull Kagura away from his chest, the cat startled by the movement and turning to see that she was being given to Kaguya.
The raven looked down at the cat, hands reaching up but not exactly towards the feline. Shirogane looked at her in confusion as he tried to maintain his hold on Kagura.
'I wonder what's wrong? Kagura isn't really that heavy or anything I guess she's not used to doing something like this? '
Before he could ask, Kaguya quickly put her hands beneath Kagura, having realized that she was taking too long. But by doing so, her hands nearly touched Shirogane's, shocking him to nearly letting go of the little feline. He certainly wasn't expecting that.
'A-Ah, her hands..No, keep calm. Must stay composed...!'
Luckily, Kagura stayed in his hold as he carefully put her in Kaguya's arms, making sure to adjust her weight in the latter's hold. Kagura meowed softly, stretching her paws out to get a grip onto the girl as she adjusted herself into her arms.
Meanwhile, Kaguya tried her best to keep a firm hold of Kagura. The cat wasn't too heavy, but the softness and warmth from her made her arms a bit shaky. She looked down completely at the pet to hide her awed expression from Shirogane.
"Ah, thank you President..." Kaguya said quietly.
"O-Of course, Shinomiya." Shirogane trailed off a bit, his heart racing at seeing the raven carrying Kagura. He thought he would be ready for this, but with his heart beating so fast, he realized that he overestimated himself.
'I have to calm myself!'
"Would you like some tea? I can go prepare some while you wait..."
Kaguya nodded, not paying any mind to Shirogane as she continued to look at Kagura. She wanted to take the opportunity to get to know the little cat. She may be a new addition to the Shirogane family, but Kagura had already made herself at home. Kaguya wanted to know what drawn Shirogane to her besides simple kindness.
The blond quickly headed over to the kitchen to make tea while Kaguya stepped towards the table and took a seat, still carrying Kagura in her arms. The two began to exchange gazes, red eyes to red eyes.
When looking at the pretty cat, Kaguya took note of the red ribbon she was wearing around her neck. Strangely, it reminded Kaguya of the one she was wearing.
Then she looked over the cat's form. Black fur, neither short or long, shiny and well-groomed from Shirogane's care. Red eyes, uncommon on a cat, glistening under the light like jewels. Her tail was slightly long and a bit pointed at the end, almost like Kaguya's ponytail.
Slowly piecing together the puzzle, a realization dawned on the girl, eyes widening and a blush making its way on her face.
Meanwhile, Shirogane watched with impatience as the tea kettle started to boil. He had set a tray aside with two cups for him and Kaguya and a small bowl of milk for Kagura. He snuck glances at the table and saw Kaguya and Kagura having what appeared to be a staring contest, which worried him.
'What's going on other there? Did I make a micalcuation in my plan? I thought Kaguya would end up liking Kagura because I assumed she liked cats. I have to think of something fast!'
The kettle whistled loudly, much to his relief. He quickly poured the boiling water into the cups, making sure to stir the tea leaves to bring the flavor out, then sets them on the tray.
"Alright, the tea is ready! I apologize for taking a while, Shinomiya-"
When he walked back to the living room, he nearly dropped the tray out of his hands. It took him all the willpower to maintain his composure at the sight before him.
Kagura was being cradled on her back in Kaguya's arms, purring happily as she rubbed herself against the girl, who was stroking her face and back with such rare tenderness that contrasted her calm expression. Though, unknown to Shirogane, the raven was looking down at Kagura with adoration only reserved for few.
All and all, the sight was just too adorable for Shirogane. 'So....So cute!'
Today's battle: Kagura wins.