"Breaking news this morning, as the work day is getting started shelters and pet stores all over the city are reporting something strange… all their cats have gone missing.”
The news feed switched to the inside of a shelter, Sara standing between two walls of metal cages, all of which were open and stripped bare. She did not smile at the camera, expression grim. “We’re here at Anastasis Pet Rescue, where the owners came in this morning to discover that all of their adoptable cats weren’t in their cages. In fact, they weren’t anywhere. Mr. Nekola, could you tell us about what happened?”
The tagline introducing the young but scruffy man standing next to Sara read, Emil Nekola, Founder of Anastasis Pet Rescue. “Uhhh, dunno, still trying to figure that out myself,” Emil said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Came in this morning and all the lil dudes were gone. Thought we had a prison break.” He laughed. “We got security cams but they were all blacked out. Whoever did this took all their files and paperwork too. If folks wanna help out, we got all their photos on our website and they’re all microchipped, so if anyone finds them, bring them in. All we’re trying to do here is get them to good homes, ya know?”
“Thank you, Mr. Nekola.” Sara turned back to the camera, walking slowly forward. The footage showed more empty cages until she arrived at the doors, the camera panning over to a table. “On this table here, like was reported at all the other locations, a calling card had been left… A single, long-stemmed blue rose. Is this the work of the same mysterious figure who a few days ago left the local skating rink swimming into blue jello? Police are still investigating, but it’s got all of us here asking the same question… What exactly is going on?”
Eight Hours Earlier
Chris had come out of the police academy at the top of his class, thought that wasn’t for lack of trying. As good as he looked in uniform, it was not long before he was promoted to detective, a combination of luck, timing, and admittedly, a great amount of work. Chris was damn good at his job, of course he was, and Ariaville was a city like any other. Bit of crime, bit of drama. Before Chris had come onto the force, there was talk of bad politics in city hall. That seemed to have quieted when JJ had come on as mayor, and Chris considered him more melodramatic than crooked.
Life had picked up once Eros had made an appearance and while some in the department rolled their eyes at the magical boy, Chris was partial to the short skirt.
Eros didn’t make much trouble, he was cute, and he had helped the department on more than one occasion. He kept his work neat and didn’t get mixed up in situations that the police would have preferred him to stay away from. Chris liked him enough to have stopped as a casual observer at an Eros event in the city a while back. That had been where he had met Victor, the two of them bonding through the act of escorting out a fan who had gotten a little too excited and too rambunctious. They had shared a drink at a bar afterwards and the rest was history.
That was was, ultimately, had gotten him into his current predicament.
“Don’t move, chéri, this angle is absolute perfection.” Chris held up his phone, snapping a photo.
“Delete that shit, that could be evidence!” Yurio shouted, but quietly, as he had frozen due to the cat that had wriggled out of his arms and scaled his back, now precariously balanced on the top of his head. Claws dug into his scalp but he persevered. Mainly because any attempt to get the cat down would be made difficult by the two other cats he already had in each arm.
“Who’s gonna arrest you?” Chris waved a hand, eyes rolling. “Me?”
“Just hurry up! The sooner we’re out of here, the sooner we can get the cats settled!”
“You’re a feisty pussycat yourself,” Chris drawled, plucking the fluffy white cat off Yurio’s head. He cradled her close, scratching under her chin to calm her when she squirmed. “Oui, mon ange, we are getting you out of here. Come with me, darling, we shall escape into the night together.”
“You can’t take only one!” Yurio huffed as Chris turned his back, heading for the exit doors. “This is not efficient, even Victor had a better plan!”
“You mean, Vicious.”
“You are the one concerned with evidence.”
There was a toy mouse on the floor. Yurio kicked it at Chris at hard as he could. It bounced off the back of his knee uselessly. Chris gazed over his shoulder and blinked his long lashes. “Fine, but know you have lost the privilege of being called chéri.”
When they exited the shelter, loaded up with as many cats as they could possibly carry, they came face-to-face with the man himself.
Vicious stood, high-heeled boots shoulder length apart and his hands on his hips in a pose, with his golden cape billowing in the wind. As soon as he saw them, he made to take an assertive step forward. But instead, his gaze went to the cat stretched across Yurio’s hunched shoulders and then the one barely dangling and barely hanging on from Chris’ arms. “What are you doing?!” he rushed forward, catching the kitty right before it plopped out of Chris’ hold.
“We are rescuing the cats, as requested,” Chris replied with a casual shrug. “We grabbed as many pussies as we could.”
Victor stepped to the left, revealing behind him a very large rental truck which was entirely lined with pet carriers. “I was expecting to use these?”
“Oh.” Chris glanced between the truck, his arms, and Yurio. “Yes, that is much better.”
The act of getting the cats into the carriers was more challenging than it had been getting them out. A yowling tabby braced his legs against the sides, hissing loud enough to potentially wake the city. Yurio ended up with a cat on his head, for the second time, although this time he wasn’t a willing participant.
One of the cats streaked out of the carrier in the split second before the door latched, bounding down the parking lot. Victor chased after her, high-kicking it with his designer boots. He got her back, but it came at the price of a hair out of place. Another two trips inside the shelter and they had gotten the rest of the kitties, caged and secured in the back of the truck. That should have been the worst of it, Chris thought.
Chris had also never been in the back of a truck that had twenty cats, all confused and complaining, meowing over each other. One could even call it a catastrophe. Yurio’s face had taken on the look of someone traumatized, eyes dull, line of his mouth flat. The howls of the cats echoed around them.
“How many more places do we have?” Yurio asked, staring blankly ahead. On his forearms were claw marks. Chris had them too. Luckily the weather wasn’t too hot, he would have to wear long sleeves for a while.
“All of them.”
Come help me seduce Eros! Victor had said, having shown up at Chris’ door far too late in the evening to have been there without prior warning. We shall right an injustice in this world!
Who was Chris to deny his friend a chance at some magical upskirt action? Chris was a firm supporter of bold actions, as long as they did not go too far. Although, he knew his own personal limits may not match with the general public’s. The idea of going villain to woo a hero, well, it was so wild and outrageous that it just might work. Plus, Chris wanted to be there to ensure Victor did not go true supervillain and pull on a deathray on the city if Eros happened to turn him down. Unlikely, yes, because Victor was stupid charming and stupid handsome and that stupid heart-shaped chest window would be enough to turn the head of anyone who was half-gay. And Eros was whole gay. Chris assumed anyway, could be wrong. Though he’d yet to be wrong before.
Then Victor had gone and mentioned cats, and Chris had kicked off his fuzzy slippers and put away the bottle of Thursday night wine, out the door in the time it had taken him to reapply some mascara. Had to look fabulous, even at night. A fabulous cat burglar.
“Who does he think he is, Santa Clause, how are we getting to every single place in one night?!” Yurio asked, standing up. The truck vibrated, pulsed, and Yurio was knocked onto his butt. He winced, leaning his head against a carrier.
A cat screamed into his ear, through the crate door. Yurio snapped away in the same moment that the back doors of the trunk were thrown open. Victor stood outside, in his pose again. Flower petals littered his feet. “Gentlemen! Bring the carriers this time!”
Chris and Yurio stared at him, glanced at each other, and then back at Victor. Yurio went first, popping his head out the trunk doors.
“What the fuck?!”
The truck had not started or driven anywhere, yet they were on the other side of town, in front of another shelter. Victor, laughing in accomplishment, was already skipping for the doors, heels clacking across the pavement.
Yurio snapped to Chris, knuckles white as he gripped the side of the truck. “Did you know he could-- that?!”
Chris shook his head and chuckled. Of all the things to use such a power for. “Guess you have your answer. Grab the carriers, won’t you, mon chou?”
Scowl back, Yurio went to grab the carriers.
Two Days Later
“A happy development in the case of the missing cats, several of the kitties have been located. In a surprising turn of events, it seems that each of them had been transported to high-demand shelters situated all over the country. What’s more, we’ve gotten reports that several of the traveling kitties have already found their forever homes. Their original shelters have agreed to let them stay, as the new owners were all unaware of the situation. In addition, sources say the locations that had been victims of the mass catnapping have contacted police to report they’ve received anonymous cash donations equivalent to the adoption fees of all their missing cats. Which leaves us questioning, does Ariaville have a vigilante on its hands… or a new hero?”
Pressing the mute button on his television remote, Yuuri introduced his face to his palm.