And so you were left on your own to decide. You stuffed your hands into the pockets of your (__f/c__) hoodie, hands bushing against the treat you were saving for later. You shuffled about awkwardly for another minute before you made a decision: why not look at the kittens first? Your feet took you to the medium-sized pen, some of the cats watching you rather closely as you did so. It unnerved you a bit and you felt a twinge of relief when you were safely by Bella.
“So, you wanted to look at the kittens first?” She asked, curled lips adding brilliancy to her smile. You nodded hesitantly, feeling a bit too cliché going directly for the fuzzy, cute critters without paying as much attention to the adults. After all, kittens were adopted out pretty quickly while the adults had a much more difficult time. Bella seemed to notice your uneasiness and reassured you. “All of these fellas haven’t been here at the shelter too long. Actually, we had two cats adopted yesterday and another the day before. It seems people enjoy the quieter adults as much as the kittens!” That had helped a little…..hopefully.
You settled down beside Bella, your (__e/c__) irises scanning the kittens around you. Two kittens that looked very similar - besides their distinct fur color differences – were wrestling with each other. However, one seemed to fall to a violent victimization from the other. You couldn’t help but smile at them. “Those two are Matthew and Alfred. They’re brothers, but I’m afraid they’ve already been adopted. Their new owner is coming to pick them up this afternoon.” Bella said beside you. You watched the two kittens for a moment longer before Bella’s shouts made you turn.
“YAO! Will you stop that!” Bella’s warmth disappeared from your side as the young woman exited the pen. You followed her retreated figure and noticed a brown, four-legged a few inches in front of her. Two distinct mewls came from said cat and you couldn’t help but giggle as Bella tried and failed to retrieve the two kittens from his mouth. That left two kittens you hadn’t looked at yet. You saw one lazing over by the edge of the fence, watching the scene unfolding with unusual attentiveness. Thinking it would be rude to bother him (cat or not), you tried to search for the last one. You remembered it was white with a little black dot around one of its eyes.
You searched high and low around the pen, even looking over at the adult cats in case Yao wasn’t the only cat with ideas. The only thing even remotely suspicious was the large, white cat with an unusual curl watching you rather closely. However, it didn’t seem to be hiding anything; it actually looked rather bored. You laid down completely on the floor of the pen, making sure not to land on any of the other kittens milling about.
In your ears came the sound of crunching and crackling, fairly similar to someone crumpling up a paper bag. Something shifted in your hoodie pocket and you looked down to find it squirming on its own. Of course, this was not normal and you cautiously reached a hand in. Your fingers came into contact with something small and fluffy, a surprised meow responding to your curious – or to it, nosy – poke.
’What the?’ Your fingers wrapped around what you guessed wast he entire kitten, pulling him out by it’s neck in a very similar fashion to Yao’s current, and successful, tactic. You were successful in retrieving said kit, raising an eyebrow as you got a full look at it – or him as you figured out a moment later.
This had to be the smallest, most adorable kitten you had ever seen in your entire life. Bella had already assured you that every kitten was old enough to be adopted, but you couldn’t believe it with this one. You guessed he could easily fit into your cupped hands. His eyes were gorgeous – a pretty violet-blue. But what caught you most was his cute, little mouth….
….with a piece of your red licorice between his teeth.
“Hey!” You narrowed your eyes, understanding now what the crumpling sound in your bag had been; your treat from earlier. You had been saving that licorice for the long ride home and school the next day for lunch. Your friends went crazy for the stuff. Well at least he only had one piece in his little mouth, though you were surprised he was still able to hold it considering it was at least two times longer than him.
The little kitten, still held by his scruff, stared back at you unblinking. Despite your lightly annoyed attitude, he continued chewing the licorice as if to spite you. You shook your head, blowing a strand of (__h/c__) out of your eyes. “That was mine.” You explained. The kitten gave you a bored expression, chewing one more time and letting out a single meow.
“….Are you giving me attitude?”
“You, a kitten, are giving me attitude?” The kitten chewed one more time.
“Meow.” Alright, this kitten was starting to irritate you. You actually wanted to argue with him – a kitten no more than eight or ten weeks old! You set him down so that you could cross your arms and glare. “If you haven’t noticed, you’re the pipsqueak stealing my food. You’re all hiss and no claws.” You retorted. He actually looked you in the eye, waddling up to you with great difficulty considering he refused to release his treat.
There was silence between cat and human, as if a silent bond was beginning to form. Your eyes softened as he laid a paw on your leg. “Meow.” Your look of forgiveness quickly morphed into an expression of annoyance. This cat was a cute, little, monotonous troll! “Hmmph. You’re pretty smug for a runt.” The words slipped out before you could stop them and you covered your mouth as if to catch them before they reached the kit’s ears. It was obvious this kitten either understood English, or was really good at pretending he did.
You waited hopefully for the kitten to respond with his now signature “Meow” of indifference, but there was no response; just the sound of the other cats doing their own various tasks. Your mouth curved into a frown as the kitten released his piece of licorice, turning his back to you to go stand at a corner of the pen. He actually sat down, head hug low. The audible sound of your heart breaking echoed in your soul. How could such a supposedly harmless comment damage the kit’s pride so deeply?
“K-kitten?” You asked, waving the licorice he had originally had towards him. He looked at you over his head before turning to face the corner again. A sigh escaped your lips as you scooted the rest of the way over. Of course, you would be the one to not only have your licorice stolen by a kitten, but then argue with it and hurt its pride. Only you.
“Okay, fine. You win, I’m sorry.” He still refused to look at you directly. You chose to lift him up against his will for the second time, forcing him to look at you at least partially. “That was wrong of me, and I’m sorry. Please? I don’t want to die knowing that I made a kitten cry.” You would’ve had said that that rhymed out loud, but now wasn’t the time.
A “Mroww” from outside the pen caught your attention and you watched with shock as the white, violet-eyed cat from earlier leapt into the pen with amazing grace. The adult cat deposited himself next to the dejected kitten, saying something in cat – a language no human understand. Whatever the cat had said though, it seemed to perk the kitten up at least a little bit. The kitten at least looked at you long enough to take the piece of licorice from your hand. You smiled and were about to give the adult cat a thank you pat when you noticed he had already disappeared. Strange.
You looked back to find the kitten studying you curiously, his violet eyes much brighter than they had been before. “I, uh, have more licorice at my house if you want to come home with me.” Had you really just said that? This kitten had serious attitude and a smart mouth, er, meow. Then again, it had technically been your fault the whole argument had started in the first place. Not to mention you had already seen the other kittens and , well, didn’t feel a spark. But this one, he felt different. Maybe he was the one you were meant to adopt?
Whatever had been going through the kitten’s mind at this time seemed to persuade him to accept your offer – probably because he had finally finished his original piece and was excited by the idea of more. Whatever it was, you ended up signing the adoption papers without fail. Bella had informed you during that time the kittens name was Emil, such a cute name for a cute kitty. You even got to hold him in your lap on the car trip home thanks to his small size. Of course, he was munching on your licorice the entire trip home. You could’ve sworn you heard a small vibrating from his chest, but that couldn’t be right….
“Emil! Emil, where the heck are you?” You had searched high and low for your little buddy. Despite being two years old, he was still small compared to the other neighborhood cats. Not only did that leave you worrying when he went outside, but that also meant he could get stuck in places even regular cats would marvel at. To be honest, you hadn’t seen him all morning and you knew for a fact that he couldn’t have left the house because no one was home besides you to do it.
Not even licorice was drawing him out. It was his favorite too – this Icelandic brand you’d found while surfing the internet. “Emil! Here kitty, kitty, kitty!” Okay that hadn’t even worked when he had been a kitten, but you didn’t have much else to try. It wasn’t like Emil to just run off for so long. ’What if he’s trapped inside the refrigerator again? What if he’s stuck behind the stove? What if a cat burglar took him?!’ These worrisome – and to the last one ridiculous – thoughts popped into your head with such ferocity that you almost didn’t hear that sound behind you.
“Meow.” A sigh of relief escaped you as you turned to face your cat. “Emil! Thanks goodness, I thought something had…..happened….” You stopped as you notice the second presence with your cat.
You weren’t entirely family with bird/cat relationships and Emil wasn’t exactly the most predacious feline around, but seeing a bird on his back was not something you had expected. It reminded you of a penguin, but you knew just by looking at it that it wasn’t. The large, red and yellow beak looked familiar but you couldn’t put your finger on it.
“What kind of bird are you?” You were mumbling it more to yourself even though you said it out loud.
“I’m a puffin.” Wait. What?
“What?” Surely that hadn’t just been said by what you thought….
“I said, I’m a puffin. Are ya deaf or somethin’?” There was no mistaking it. You looked warily at the puffin on your cat’s shoulders, (__e/c__) eyes full of unusual acceptance and annoyance. It spoke like someone from those movies your family used to watch about the Italian Mafia.
“I’m guessing you’re staying here?” You asked, putting a palm to your forehead.
Looks like your friends were never going to get their licorice.