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The cat is mean, and ornery, and uncooperative to a fault.

Gokudera can’t decide if it’s a reflection on his character, or if the cat’s just an asshole.

Bianchi says it’s both, but she’s his sister, and that automatically renders her opinions null and void.

He does, however, take the time to study the other guardians and their box animals, if only to test the theory. (He even writes it down, because the scientific theory is one of the few things that still makes sense in his life.)

Yamamoto’s dog and swallow are cheerful to a fault, which suits Yamamoto well enough. The dog is always happy to bound over for a belly rub, and the swallow’s taken to singing the Namimori anthem with Hibird when both are present. It’s obnoxious, but he can’t stay mad at the animals for long.

Tsuna’s lion, Natsu, is a tiny, cowering ball of fur 90% of the time. If Gokudera were prone to saying bad things about his boss, (which he is not, thank you,) he would say the lion and the owner were one and the same. There are times, though, when Natsu’s own flames are as bright as Tsuna’s, and he knows, without a doubt, that there is a fighter in them.  Despite his size, and his fear, Natsu reflects Tsuna’s determination better than anything Gokudera can imagine.

He refuses to study Hibari’s hedgehog, if only because he’s sure Hibari would bite him to death before he could get close, and steers clear of the Mist owl, which cuts his study group by quite a bit. He also can’t afford to get near the bull, because Lambo can’t summon him often, and when he does, the ensuing rampage is too much too handle.

One look at Turf-head’s kangaroo is all he needs to make his evaluation of box weapon and owner.

With a dismal data collection, Gokudera resigns himself to the fact that his cat is an asshole, and that sort of means he is too.

Still, everyone else has managed to bond with their box animals, and if he falls behind, it would look bad on the Tenth. It could also affect the efficiency of the Sistema C.A.I, and he is not about to let that happen.

‘Bonding with Uri’ becomes his top priority, and he sets upon the task with a feverish determination.

Unfortunately, unlike with the Sistema C.A.I., Gokudera can’t force the cat to comply through sheer anger and willpower.

Uri likes to sleep, likes to eat, and has decided Gokudera is only useful as a scratching post. Occasionally the cat will allow itself to be petted, or will ask for Storm flames, but as soon as Gokudera relaxes, the claws come out.

It’s a bit embarrassing, the amount of scratches on his arms and legs (and face). But he can’t give up, and he won’t give up on his stupid cat. He has to do it for the family. For Tsuna.

His research on cats says they like to play, but whenever he tries with Uri, the cat ignores him, or worse, attacks him. Haru and Kyoko have assured him that is how cats play, but the gouges down his arms are definitely not the result of play-fighting.

That leaves….not much else, really. Gokudera never had pets growing up, and his research, while extensive, doesn’t really tell him how to forge a better relationship with his magic cat.

He shuts his books with a sigh, picking at the bandages around his arms. Uri sits a few feet away, perched on top of a bookcase, licking itself clean. He watches the storm cat for a few minutes, listening to a clock ticking away. He drops his head on the table, arms loosely circling his head, and closes his eyes for a moment. He just needs a few minutes to think of a new strategy.

He must have dozed off at some point, physically and mentally exhausted with his self-imposed tasks of making friends with his cat. When he opens his eyes again, there is a very warm, furry mass in his arms, pressing against his face.

The red flames are dim in its ears, and it raises its head to watch him. It blinks, once, twice, and dismisses him, going back to sleep. Gokudera stares back, stunned, barely daring to breathe as the cat begins purring.

Hesitantly, he moves his hand, petting the cat’s back, smoothing down the soft fur. The purring increases, somehow, and he can’t fight the grin that comes to his face.

They sit like that for a while, enjoying the silence of the study, and Gokudera thinks that maybe it isn’t so bad to share some characteristics with his cat.