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(Any and all snooping will be punishable by a thousand arrows to the chest)
February 10th, 20xx:
I saw on a counseling website that journaling is supposedly therapeutic and releasing for the mind. Sounds like hippie hogwash to me, but apparently, it’s an evidence-based practice. I was updating my forte in clinical psychology for the up-coming medical school applications when Inoue-san noted that it, “was such a relief to know you’re finding help, Ishida-kun. Don’t forget you can always come to me if you need anything.”
And now, here I am.
I would go into a foray on the woes of Inoue-san’s obliviousness to my affections, or the disdain I have for my father’s insistence on my career in medicine, but I must pause those updates with truly devastating news.
Last night, during my nightly musings on Inoue-san’s favorite phrases and how nicely the winter line of burgundy pashminas would complement her hair, an ear shattering yowl broke my blissful silence.
It vibrated against the glass doors of the patio and felt like it might break my cup of earl grey tea over my new fashion magazine right then and there.
Seriously. What doltish fool can’t even keep their pets from scouring the streets in winter? Unless it’s some mangy stray scavenging the trash again. Such boorish tendencies, I figured it’d calm down once it was clear there were no scraps of sustenance to be found.
It. Kept. Going .
Finally, once my knitting needles were already bent from clenching my fists, I stormed outside to barely miss the unruly form keeping the sidewalk alive at 1 in the morning.
February 14th, 20xx:
I spied Inoue-san walking with Schiffer today. That walking corpse can’t even muster up the energy to smile or emote, but somehow he’s gotten the attention of her kind-hearted soul. Seriously, I don’t understand. What does she see in him?
To make matters worse, the nuisance is still hanging around. It might have even multiplied. The yowling is going on at sunset and won’t stop until dawn. Some nights it seems to reach 100 decibels for hours and yet I continue to hear it just as clearly every night. At this point I’ve identified the beast as some type of feline with a few second-hand accounts from the neighbors.
Either it’s time to invest in some good ear plugs or I need to devise a strategy to discourage the strays. Even I can't balance studying medicine and fashion with one-sided heartache while having 3 hours of sleep a night.
Note to self: Research feline repellent strategies on the animal trainer’s forum tonight. Online order for natural cat repellent made with overnight shipping.
February 20th, 20xx:
The repellant proved dissatisfactory. Nothing’s changed. That’s the last time I pay over ¥ 40,000 for a hippie bottle of peppermint and lemongrass oil.
The yowling still goes on until late in the night. Inoue-san is still letting Schiffer soak up her radiance. And Father is still having the maids leave medical university applications with my breakfast before school.
God, if I have to see another tasteless, pure white brochure raving about their esteemed legacy, I’ll stab my eye out with my own knitting needle. The chic designs of design and fashion schools do this whole brochure thing much better.
But nothing’s changing those problems for now. The same can’t be said for handling the vermin in the neighborhood, but the same tactics simply won’t do.
No, I’ll have to try a different approach to cease this unrelenting harassment. Research and cold, hard facts. Every animal guide and pet owner resources available. Once I know this little demon inside and out, that’s when I’ll strike.
To-do: Strategically place design school brochures into father’s desk drawers and office folders to get the message across; make an excursion to the bookstore for cat behavioral research materials (again).
March 12th, 20xx:
After weeks of reconnaissance, I made first contact today. All those hunting forums proved both disturbing and useful once I was able to lure the very bane of my existence into the open moonlight.
Specimen 1 - or “Orange,” as I call him - is a soft orange shorthair tabby. Sleek, lean build with amber eyes. Momentarily regarding the subject as male based on sizing and territorial posturing sighted near the dumpster, but formal examination yet to be made. The little pissant is the one yowling at night if those hisses when I try to chase him away with a broom say anything for his vocal cords.
So much for establishing dominance over my domain. I’ve also noticed 1” deep gauges in some of the apartment doors and wooden fixtures in the area. I almost pinned those crimes on Orange, but his most aggressive behaviors have been stealing my sleep regime and offending my sensibilities with his gratuitous yowling and scent marking.
Conclusion: There must be a Specimen 2 somewhere also terrorizing the neighborhood. Further reconnaissance required. Hopefully, the two forces simply destroy one another for me. Future stages of annihilation paused until further notice.
March 22th, 20xx:
Specimen 2 sighted, theory confirmed. A long haired, cloudy off-white cat with black paws and striking blue eyes. Code name: Blue. Eerie resemblance to a mini-snow leopard. Almost noble looking if I hadn’t caught him licking out of an old, spoiled can of tuna. (Note to self: online search for illegal poaching and breeding rings in Karakura.)
Little bastard might even be considered beautiful if he hadn’t left a 3” scar on my calf in our first encounter. I’m officially retiring the broom from my cat repellent arsenal. Good thing I keep a few small packs of neosporin on me.
The gauges certainly match the claw marks left on my doorway. Identity confirmed. Strongly considering calling for animal services.
Conclusion: Continued observation needed to assume threat level. Carry cloth bandages for future incidents.
April 7th, 20XX:
Operation “Cat Removal” paused until further notice. I had to step out of the house to walk off some steam due to another fight with Father over ‘The Plan.’ The one where I become a doctor and inherit his medical dominion regardless of what I want, following in his shined leather footsteps.
I’m following my daily trail to class when I nearly stepped on Orange. He hissed at me again, gravely offended at my lack of care. I recoiled, ready to fight back when I noticed Blue on the balcony to my left. The tension in the air was so thick I hesitated showing my back to those two.
There was no acknowledgement from Blue as I passed, his eyes locked on Orange with such malice I was non-existent. As I passed, Orange’s haunches didn’t lower, the hissing growing louder. I stepped into the middle of a nasty fight.
On instinct, I stepped into the shadows of a nearby alley, monitoring the duo closely. Not sure why I did, but there was a part of me that was morbidly curious.
Orange jumped first, yowling so loudly I could see people peering through the drapes to see what the commotion was. And that seemed to be just what Blue was waiting for.
What followed should have been impossible for any cat under 14 kg, and I honestly should have turned and continued on my way. (But no animal documentary or pet owner article could have prepared me for the sheer destruction left in the wake of this--this battle, for lack of a better term.) I have to say I’ve never seen any creature fight as hard as that tabby. I have a feeling that they were even enjoying themselves!
I think I stood there for longer than half an hour, my stomach reminding me I had stormed out of the house before I could even touch dinner. Begrudgingly, I decided to turn back, heading home.
Dinner was in the fridge. I decided I was too tired to eat anything, so I packed it for lunch tomorrow.
To-do list: Borrow the “Wild Cats: Territorial Displays and Mating Rituals”, 5th ed. from the library for further research into this phenomenon. Forget Blue, both cats seem to be unordained results of questionable breeding... Also, make powerpoint and business proposals on the economic outlook for a fashion curator and designer in modern Tokyo for Father. Send Google invites tomorrow between his director’s meetings.
April 16th, 20XX:
I told father today about my decision to attend Bunka Fashion College. Had to wrench the acceptance letter out of his hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so angry (never heard him raise his voice like that before, that’s for sure). Bastard.
Good thing I hole-punched the rim of his paper coffee cup before he left this morning. It’s his own fault for not switching to reusable like a decent human being.
Naturally, I stepped out to get some air, and to my surprise, I found Orange a foot or so away from the doorstep. He looked… well, he looked a bit forlorn, to put it mildly. I hadn’t seen him since the week prior, and he looks to be a bit banged up. But I don’t think it was physical pain that was the problem.
I hadn’t seen him since the fight with Blue, but going off the distinct lack of yowling, yet distinct increase in varied scratch marks, I figured they’d both managed to leave alive and claim this territory as mutual theirs.
(Note to self: Nothing has come up for shared territories between solidary felines in the research. What are behavioral biologists doing if they can’t answer such simple questions?)
Anyway, he didn’t hiss at me this time (a huge development), merely looking up to watch me leave the house. I wasn’t really sure what to do at first, staring back at him. So, stupidly, I asked if he was waiting for someone; of course, he only stared back, his ears twitching in reply. For some reason, the look in his eyes made me feel… sad.
Then he stood up, walking down the sidewalk slowly and turning the corner. Since I really had nowhere to be, I followed, curious. It was late enough that the streetlights were turning on, and yet here I am trailing behind a stray tomcat in the dark. He didn’t seem to mind too much. His body still moved silently through the streets, but his tail was fluffed upright like a stiff rod. My research on Pets WebMD indicates he feels threatened. From what, I couldn't identify. I felt like he wanted me to follow him, needed to show me something. Strange.
He led me to this quiet forgotten alleyway, where it was almost too dark to enter. I had to use my cell phone as a light, doing my best not to kick any of the litter that was left in my path. It was a dead end, with rows of overfilled dumpsters and bags of half-rotted garbage littering the tiny space.
I saw Blue’s wounded body half hidden under one of the dumpsters. There was a long gash going from his chest to his underbelly, blood clumping on white fur. His eyes were closed, and at first I thought he was dead until I got closer and he growled at me. He still had enough strength in him to warn me off.
It took Orange’s own efforts to get Blue to drop his hackles. Fortunately, I had a sewing kit in my jacket pocket, along with a few first aid basics on my person. I’m starting to believe more and more that Blue might be part wildcat; his teeth are too sharp and his claws were massive . Maybe one of his parents escaped from a zoo. (Note: research on Karakura Zoo escapes later.)
Blue got through the stitches without complaint, but he watched me the entire time. It felt like I got 5 breaths in the entire 30 minutes it took to treat him. When I was done, and I had (reasonably) cleaned the wound, Orange settled by Blue, gently licking the wound. I wonder when they became so… friendly.
I waited a while, making sure that Blue was stable enough before I left. Despite my own fear, I felt it would have been wrong to leave the two of them alone at this time of night. That wound was ghastly. It couldn’t have come from a nasty cat fight; the cut was singular, serrated. Like someone had taken a knife to the cat. I can’t stop thinking about that, wondering who has the time to go out and attack a cat so viciously.
Before I went back home, I told Orange to protect Blue, however illogical. When did I start talking to animals? Besides, my efforts were likely futile; he looked determined to stay by Blue, head lowered over the fallen cat. He gave me a very small, low meow. I’ll take that as a thank you.
Father wasn’t up when I got back, thankfully. The acceptance letter was laid out on the table, though, the wrinkles meticulously flattened out in apology.
May 4th, 20XX:
I finally spotted those ruffians again. I was worried, as it’s been almost a month since I’ve crossed paths with Blue or Orange.
I was sitting outside the cafe with Orihime (yes, she’s Orihime now, take that Schiffer) when she pointed out there were two cats sitting across the street, staring. I guess I was too excited to see them because I nearly spit my mug of earl gray all over the table and on her.
Apparently she’s seen them slinking around Karakura Town, sticking close to one another. She told me she had tried to pet Orange, but Blue wasn’t having any of that. “Maybe they’re in love,” she told me, giggling. I informed her that they were both male and could never reproduce, but she simply smiled at me and explained that not everything is answerable with logic.
"They're a special pair of kitties Ishida-san. If any cats can choose love over breeding, then it's those two."
I don't think I've been giving Orihime enough credit for her intelligence. She's just made more sense in one sentence than the litany of cat care articles and wild animal literature I've scoured for 4 months.
Orange paced the sidewalk up and down, acting casually, meowing at the occasional stranger. But Blue stared me down the entire time, as if waiting for me to come over to him. Orihime suggested we go over to them, bring them some food. I was hesitant at first, but obliged, feeling that might be received well. It’s the first activity that Orihime suggested we do together first. I’m not passing this up, however dangerous.
We decided to purchase a tuna fish sandwich, giving one half to either cat. She followed after Orange, kneeling as she tried to beckon him over. I was left with the task of feeding Blue, which left me a bit nervous. He had let me get close once, but maybe I had simply been lucky that one time.
When I held the sandwich out to Blue, he didn’t move at first. I thought I had offended him, almost pulling back the sandwich. Before I could, he sniffed it carefully then snatched it from my hand, eyeing me even as he wolfed it down.
We sat in silence, Blue sitting still for a moment. Orange arrived, rubbing his head against Blue’s chest, purring loudly.
Orihime seems enthralled with the pair, despite my anecdotes of past encounters. Her love for them swelled when I told her of the last one I had. She even asked that I take her with me if I ever visit them again.
Note: Arrange time for evening walk with Orihime.
May 22nd , 20xx:
They arrived by the street lamp for kibble Tuesday morning with 3 trailing kittens and no female in sight. One tiny brown tabby with short hair with grey eyes that appears to be a runt. One all black kitten with yellow eyes with absurd speed for its age. (Only these two would continue to produce enigmas.) Lastly, a monstrously fluffy pale orange kitten with equally pale blue eyes.
I’m not sure what to make of that, honestly. Must continue observation in case of misgendering, but I was fairly certain of my prior assessment.
On a related note, I discovered that Schiffer is allergic to cats. I heard him sniffle incessantly as he and Orihime joined me for lunch. She waved to them like those cats were old friends, and they acknowledged her in their own way. I could see Schiffer’s glazed over eyes turn red, breaking his ice-cold appearance of disinterest. He quietly left, stating he wasn’t hungry, and the mood went up from there. Thank god.
Note to self: Start carrying extra cat treats in your school bag and jacket pockets for emergency meetings.
May 30th , 20xx:
Both cats are confirmed tomcats and the kittens remain a consistent presence. An assumed adoptive family structure appears to have been established.
Further observation proves behavioral conditioning already underway with the brown tabby kitten. That ruffian peed all over the lamp in a vulgar display of dominance just like her barbaric long haired sire. A general sense of disdain towards the world and common decency. However, she seems to be quite strong, dragging large pieces of garbage behind her. I think I saw her try to tackle a squirrel twice her size and nearly succeed.
The black kitten seems to be two steps ahead of her siblings. She’s quick on her feet, even faster than I first noticed previously. One moment she’ll be on the ground; the next she’s stalking along the rooftops, swatting at whatever insect flies in her path. Blue and Orange often seem perplexed by her shenanigans.
Interestingly enough, the pale orange one seems the most normal of the bunch. Perhaps that makes him the biggest enigma of them all. The only thing I’ve noticed is that he’s quite observant, like he’s toying with me. He knows I’m watching and that’s his source of entertainment. How crafty. Requires further observation.
And yet, somehow, these five oddities seem to form some cohesive definition of a family unit.
Working hypothesis: Cats with the awareness for non-reproductive partner relations can also form non-reproductive parental bonds amongst kin.
Orihime was overjoyed with news of babies, of course. As was I when I asked her out for a kitten play date, and she said it’d be an adorable double date for all of us.
Conclusion: I bought 3 bundles of catnip to ensure everything would go smoothly, by hell or highwater.
June 16th, 20XX:
I woke up to scratching at my bedroom window. Orange was outside, dragging his jagged claws along the windowsill, occasionally peeking inside to see if I was awake. I think I was more impressed he managed to climb up to my window than I was angry he was damaging the French designed floor-length window.
As I came over, he seemed rather pleased with himself. If I hadn’t seen Orihime waiting for me down on the sidewalk, I would have just ignored him and gone about my day.
Thankfully I had managed to throw on appropriate enough clothes and sorted out my hair before plummeting down the stairs. Father didn’t ask me where I was going from his place in the living room on his armchair, but I did see that faint questioning look in his eyes as I ran out the door.
The pale orange kitten was sitting in Orihime’s lap, purring loudly enough that I could hear it from a foot away. She was smiling when she saw me and I found myself staring at her like a complete fool for a moment. It was Orange who brought me back to my senses, even though he sunk his damn claws into the back of my right calf. Maybe I should reconsider wearing white all the time.
She said she wanted to surprise me with a visit, saying it was a perfect day to go out for a picnic. The cat family looked rather excited, hovering near the picnic basket that was behind her.
I’m pleased to say that I completely lost any sense of time with her. I’ve lived in Karakura Town my entire life, and yet somehow it felt like a whole new adventure with her. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that I’ll be leaving soon, on the cusp of something new.
Blue often weaved in and out of the shadows, occasionally walking in front of us like some unofficial tour guide. I still can’t quite get a grasp on him, and maybe I’ve come to terms with that. But I think there’s a certain mutual respect between us. I see his scar healed nicely. It hardly shows any more.
Orange seemed his normal, smug self, but I would often catch him glancing at me. As if he knew something I didn’t. Or maybe he just knew everything while I was merely the unaware human at his mercy. Thankfully, I didn’t get any more cuts to the back of my legs.
I was fortunate enough to try Orihime’s cooking for the first time and it was… an interesting experience. Not bad by any stretch (in fact, I think she’s going to culinary school, so she has a lot of promise), but not foods I’d usually try. I’d list them here, but it’d take an entire page to describe the amount of food she brought. And of course, she brought meals for our feline guests as well.
Each cat got their own can of tuna, with Blue getting two since he’s… well, Blue. The brown tabby ate too fast and vomited on our wool picnic blanket, but Orihime laughed so hard I honestly couldn’t be that upset.
I did notice that the black kitten often stayed close to Orange, often playing tricks on him. Of course, he seemed all too used to it, taking them in stride. I think I’ll call that one Yoruichi, since she’s like a patch of night sky, complete with two stars. The brown tabby will be named Tora, considering how clearly she resembles Blue’s wild nature despite her smaller size and brown coloring. A tiger cub to match this leopard king.
The sun was already setting by the time we packed up for the day. The pale orange kitten sat nestled in her arms, breathing slowly as he slept peacefully. When placing the kitten back with the others, Blue stopped her, pushing her hands back up. I was shocked, admittedly, and turned to Orange to see what the issue was.
“I think they’re letting me keep him,” she whispered to me. I wasn’t sure how she came to that conclusion until I looked back, seeing Orange and Blue gave me a look of affirmation. I reached down for the first time, reaching to pet them. I went with Orange, as I wasn’t sure it was best to try and touch Blue so casually, and thankfully my touch was reciprocated.
Maybe this was his way of saying good luck. That he knew I was beginning my own journey. Maybe it was his ‘thank you’ for the treats and taking care of Blue, by trusting us with his family.
Even with all my cat research, I could write a thesis on typical feline behaviors, but I still haven’t found the answers to those two.
Then, like a pack of shadows, the cats disappeared into the night, leaving me standing with Orihime in front of her apartment. I was sad to see them go after all this time.
When I got back home, I found an envelope on my bed, along with a few books. Father’s terse handwriting was scrawled on the front, but when I saw the two ¥10,000 notes slip out, I didn’t quite know what to say.
Maybe this communication nonsense is still viable between us; I won’t push it though. For now, silent acceptance and financial shows of support are as good as it’s going to get for the foreseeable future.
Finally, I leave in a week for a future in fashion design and textile studies for the next 4 years, but thankfully I can always come back here during the weekends.
Note to self: The pale orange puffball is the only one left to be named, but it only feels right to wait for Orihime to choose. She’s been bouncing between Arashi and Hinode, but I’m hoping my gratuitous sun-related emoji texts help sway her completely independent decision.