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Y la Gata (And the Cat)

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Madrid, Late July 2018

The ache traveled up Shoma’s body. He ached, well, in his ass, in his thighs, the small of his back, his stomach, his shoulders, and elbows. He wondered if Yuzu, hair askew, wobbling around Javi’s living room in one of Javi’s extra bathrobes, felt the same -- as though he’d been through a very delightful meat grinder. Or Javi, for that matter, who seemed light on his feet as ever, humming some Spanish melody while his bathrobe swooshed at his heels.

Shoma wore one of Javi’s old hoodies and a pair of sports shorts. The shorts were so baggy that Shoma had drawn the strings as tight as he could, and they hit below his knees.

He crawled up one of those annoyingly tall chairs to the kitchen counter. He was right next to Javi’s phone. He watched Javi dance through the kitchen, pulling down plates and silverware.

“Eggs?” Javi asked. He seemed a bit flushed, but otherwise pristine.

Shoma and Yuzu nodded. Yuzu crumpled on the couch, legs up, pointy ankles draped over the back.

“That was nice, wasn’t it?” Javi asked.

Yuzu groaned. He had been on the bottom of their pile, so he’d had the weight of both Shoma and Javi on top of him. Shoma wondered how sore Yuzu was as a result.

“It was nice,” Shoma mumbled.

“You guys don’t sound excited.”

Yuzu groaned again.

“You weren’t in the middle,” Shoma said, shutting his eyes and trying not to fall asleep. The sex had been good -- great, even -- but exhausting.

“Oh?” Javi said.

“It was hard,” Shoma said, looking at Javi’s phone. “Taking you, and then fucking Yuzu at the same time.”

“Ah. Maybe next time I’ll be in the middle.”

Shoma barely heard him. He was staring at Javi’s lock screen, which was a picture of Shoma curled up in bed. A puffy ball of fur nested against him.

“You have a picture of me and Effie on your lockscreen?” Shoma said, just as the cat herself appeared.

She leapt onto the couch. Yuzu made a noise of protest but didn’t move.

“Oh yes,” Javi said to the cooking eggs. “I have a whole folder of you and Effie, actually.”

Yuzu shoved Effie off him. The cat yowled as she hit the carpet.

“Why don’t you have a folder of Effie and me?” Yuzu stuck his messy head up over the back of the couch. His eyes were narrowed.

“Because you never cuddle with her like Shoma does.”

Yuzu grumbled and went back down.

Javi took the eggs off the burner and scooped them into three equal portions on three plates.

“Can I see?” Shoma asked as Javi laid a plate of gently steaming scrambled eggs in front of him.

“Yuzu, eggs are ready,” Javi called.

Yuzu waved a foot.

Javi sat in the chair on Shoma’s left and opened his phone. A few clicks and he handed the phone over to Shoma.

“See?”

There were . . . pictures. Quite a lot of them, in fact. Of Shoma asleep on the couch and Effie curled on his stomach. Shoma sitting outside on the patio cradling Effie in his arms. Shoma splayed out in bed, one arm thrown over Effie, who was a bun of fur. Shoma scrolled through the pictures and something began to blossom inside him.

“Yuzu, the eggs are getting cold,” Javi said as he ate.

Yuzu made a noise and threw himself to his feet. He loped to the counter and sat in the seat on Shoma’s right, where a plate of eggs waited.

“Well?” Javi asked between bites. “What do you think, Shoma?”

Each picture had been framed tenderly. As if Javi hadn’t just taken a picture, but he’d caressed his subjects through the lens. And though it was precarious, Shoma leaned against Javi. Javi put his arm around Shoma and it kept Shoma from wobbling out of the chair.

“What? What is it?” Javi asked.

Shoma could only think in English. Slow, stupid English, which turned his tongue into stones. In Japanese it would have sounded like a river of words with a low pulse like ai, ai, ai. In Spanish it would have been like bougainvillea, bursting blossoms with the words amor, amor, amor.

But Japanese and Spanish evaporated now and all he could think of was English.

“It’s like you really love me,” Shoma said. “The way you take all these pictures.”

There was a pause.

“Of course he loves you,” Yuzu said, chewing. “Or did you not notice his dick in you earlier?”

Shoma glared at Yuzu.

Javi laughed and kissed Shoma’s temple.

“It’s like Yuzu says. Of course I love you. I love watching you cuddle with Effie. It makes me happy.”

Yuzu made a noise.

“I love you too, Yuzu,” Javi said.

Eventually, Shoma settled safely back in his chair, though Javi kept his arm draped around him.

“No,” Yuzu said to Effie when she tried to jump up his leg.

Effie prowled her way to Shoma. He endured her claws as she climbed his legs and settled in his lap.

“Aaaah,” Javi cooed. He picked up his phone and took a picture.