The rain was coming down hard, flattening the sounds of the cars and occasional brave passerby into a muted hum below the pounding of water on the pavement. Jing Huan was running through the rain as fast as he could, hugging his jacket close to his chest and focusing on breathing properly--he really needed to exercise more. The soaked bundle he was holding wriggled a little, but didn’t make any noise. He clutched it tighter, reassuring himself that it was still there.
Eventually, he made it to the door of his building, and he took a moment on the threshold to shake his head like a dog to get the water out of his hair. He was going to drip all over the floor no matter what, but hopefully that would help.
The security guard gave him a concerned look in the lobby, but Jing Huan smiled and tried to greet him as nonchalantly as possible. There was nothing to see here. Just a drenched college student making his way home. Nothing suspicious about that.
Jing Huan spent the elevator ride shifting his weight from one foot to the other, cringing at every squelch that his sneakers made. They were probably ruined, and the feeling of water rising up between his toes was not one that he enjoyed.
The bundle in his arms was quiet and still for this, and stayed like that through him putting in the door code, going into his apartment, and taking his shoes off.
When he went to take his coat off, it started wiggling again. Quickly, Jing Huan took his precious cargo to the table and gently set it down. He patted around his rolled up sweater to make sure it was doing okay.
A small, bedraggled kitten peeked up at him warily. Jing Huan gave it a smile and went to rub its head, but it flinched back. Well, that wasn’t surprising. Street cats were like that. He narrowed his eyes at the small animal in thought for a second before realizing that it was probably hungry. It was pretty skinny, and he’d found it on the street.
What do you feed cats? Jing Huan had never had a pet, so he looked it up.
The top search results were all various types of cat foods, some of which looked better than others. Jing Huan looked at the search results, and placed an order for a can of it to be delivered. After a second thought, he ordered a yogurt drink, too.
The kitten was still looking around warily, but Jing Huan thought it looked a little drier than it had when he’d picked it up. Hopefully. It needed a name, though, because calling it “cat” or “kitten” seemed a little rude.
“I think I’ll call you Tuitui. Do you like that, Tuitui?” Jing Huan said, proud of himself for coming up with a name so quickly. The cat--no, Tuitui didn’t reply, so Jing Huan took that as an agreement. They were already getting along so well!
What did people do with cats? Jing Huan thought about it for a minute, but he honestly had no idea, and the cat looked so scared of him that it was probably better not trying to interact with it yet.
Nodding at Tuitui professionally, Jing Huan went over to his desk and opened up NCH.
Although he didn’t notice, Tuitui curled up in his sweater and trilled quietly.
Xiang Huaizhi let himself into the apartment, shaking his head to get the water out of his hair. It had only been misting by the time he’d left the restaurant, but even that had gotten him wet enough that it was unpleasant. He hung up his umbrella and jacket and took off his shoes, looking for his boyfriend as he did.
Jing Huan wasn’t at his desk, which was odd, but--oh, he was in the kitchen, cooking dinner. Not unheard of, but usually he ordered in. And he was humming, which was really adorable and made Xiang Huaizhi’s heart itch.
And on the table between the kitchen and the front door was… A cat? What??
The cat was fairly small, as cats went, and calico, and pretty cute, in all honesty. Xiang Huaizhi would never admit it when asked, but he was someone who really liked cute things. His boyfriend was very cute, and Xiang Huaizhi liked him very much.
He looked at the cat, who made guileless eye contact with him from their table. He blinked at it slowly, trying to remember anything he could from when he’d snuck off to play with the street cats when his nanny had been haggling over things to send her relatives. It had been years ago, and he didn’t remember much, but it was a start.
Blinking was good, and being slow to approach was also useful. The street cats had usually liked Xiang Huaizhi, probably because he was patient with them and didn’t startle easily. Hopefully, that would hold true for this cat.
Xiang Huaizhi put his hand on the table and pushed it towards the cat, close enough for it to sniff but far enough that it wouldn’t be a threat. And then he waited, watching his boyfriend, who was chopping something next to the stove.
It took a few minutes, but eventually the kitten began to rub against his hand. Xiang Huaizhi didn’t react, but he looked at it out of the corner of his eye. It was looking up at him very pathetically, and his chest twinged.
The kitten got on its hind legs and put its front paws against his elbow, and Xiang Huaizhi realized how small the kitten really was. It probably had just left its mother, and he looked over at Jing Huan, wondering where his boyfriend had managed to pick up a kitten.
Xiang Huaizhi picked up the kitten, who trilled happily. Scratching its head, he walked over to the kitchen and leaned against the counter, waiting for Jing Huan to notice that he was home. He absentmindedly rubbed the head of the kitten in his arms while staring at his boyfriend with what was probably an extremely dopey expression on his face.
Jing Huan did not notice Xiang Huaizhi before walking into him, but luckily, he ran into the arm that was not holding the kitten. Xiang Huaizhi caught him by the shoulder, pulling Jing Huan closer.
“Gege!” Jing Huan smiled up at him, and Xiang Huaizhi was struck yet again by how cute his boyfriend was. Especially when he smiled.
Xiang Huaizhi would not let this distract him right now, though. He had a very important question to ask, and it was going to get asked. “Huanhuan,” he said slowly, “how did we get a cat?”
“Ah, Gege, Tuitui is a good cat, and--”
“Tuitui? What character?” Xiang Huaizhi interrupted.
“Tui like in huotui, yeah?” Jing Huan replied, still smiling, and still adorable.
Xiang Huaizhi raised an eyebrow, trying to convey how unimpressed he was with the name. He was suddenly really glad he’d been allowed to name Xiao Xiangjing, no matter how much Lu Hang had teased him for it.
“Anyways, like I was saying, Tuitui is a great cat, and she’ll never cause any problems, and--” Jing Huan was interrupted by Tuitui yowling and leaping, claws first, at his face.
Xiang Huaizhi and Jing Huan both reached for the cat at the same time, and Jing Huan’s elbow went into Xiang Huaizhi’s side. Xiang Huaizhi bent over because of this, and slammed his forehead into Jing Huan’s.
They both stumbled away from each other, holding their heads and cursing. After a second, they both looked at each other, and Jing Huan burst out laughing. Xiang Huaizhi felt himself smile despite the pain in his head.
“So, Gege, we can keep her, right?” Jing Huan said once he’d calmed down, still smiling brilliantly. Xiang Huaizhi felt his chest get tight in a way that wasn’t at all unpleasant.