"His name," Galo says proudly as soon as Lio makes direct eye contact with the gray bundle of fur and rage in his arms, "is Neko."
His name is irrelevant, Lio wants to say, but he holds his tongue (and no, not because the cat's got it). Instead, he glances over at Remi, who's sitting at a table nursing a coffee - extra cream and sugar that betrays his straight-laced appearance - and a copy of the Promepolis Post. The bespectacled man just shrugs in response. "Don't ask me what neko means in Japanese."
Right, that's pretty par for the course as far as Galo's single brain cell is concerned, and Lio heaves a long sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Where did you find the..... Neko?"
Gods, he hopes the answer isn't 'stuck in a tree'; those jokes just write themselves. Fortunately, the gods have smiled down upon Lio for once as Galo frowns. "He was caught by that fishing guy-"
"You mean the fishmonger?"
"-right, him! Well, he got caught by that guy, but you know, we're still cleaning up the city and there's not really any way to support all the animals when we're still working on the people? So I thought I could take him in until we find him a forever home." Galo's voice ends on a high note that starts to sound threateningly like a question, and he would be damned if Galo ever found out that Lio couldn't say no to him if he tried. That doesn't mean, though, that he can't try and persuade Galo to change his mind.
"Galo," he tries to reason with his - roommate? work partner? there's still that can of worms they haven't opened yet - as Neko stares at him with wide eyes. He's cute, he's adorable, he's probably plotting Lio's demise as they speak. "You can't just pick up random strays and claim them as your own."
"That's kind of what I did to you," he replies with a shrug, and Lio intentionally ignores the insinuations in that line.
"Well I'm not a cat."
Remi snorts from across the common room and takes a sip of his coffee. "Bold words for a man named Lio." Lio really wants to hiss at Remi, but knows full well that would just be proving his point. The two may have one of the best relationships in Burning Rescue (aside from himself and Galo, of course), but that often includes the times that they've gone for each other's throats, metaphorically or otherwise. Fortunately, though, there's nobody in the room to catch the low-hanging joke except for one certain firefighter, and, well......
"I don't get it."
He's lucky that Galo's an idiot.
" Regardless, " Lio continues, although he does make plans to put salt in the sugar jars later, "has everybody else agreed to this? We already have Vinny to take care of, you know." In fact, if Lio remembers correctly, cats eat mice; surely that would be a dealbreaker for Lucia.
Unfortunately, Lio has greatly underestimated Lucia. "Vinny can take care of himself," Remi once more adds to the conversation in a way he shouldn't. "We're more worried about his mech at this point than his own safety."
Lio does a double take. "His what ."
"You heard me." No, Lio thinks that he hadn't heard Remi, because if he had, then the most sane member of the Burning Rescue Fire Department, Cornerstone of Safety and Homeland Security in Post-Combustion Promepolis would have just admitted that the group has built a Miniature War Machine for their Pet Rat. "If you're curious about the legalities, I can pull the documents from town hall."
Lio suddenly feels very faint. "No.....thank you." Burning Rescue has too much power, but he needs to stop focusing on that and start focusing on the heinous little critter still nestled in Galo's arms. "My point is that a cat is a lot of effort and I don't think you're ready for the responsibilitare you even listening to me."
The answer is no as Galo coos at Neko before looking up at Lio at the same time as the hellspawn. "Sorry, were you saying something?"
Neko looks up at Lio with those shiny, saccharine eyes of his and gives him one pitiful meow that roughly translates to I will pee on everything you love, starting with Galo himself.
"Aw, see? He likes you already!"
Lio wants to die.
Neko really hasn't even done anything yet despite having lived with them for a week, but Lio still feels bubbles of negative emotion associated with the kitten. It could be because Galo is suddenly obsessed with it, or because.....Galo is suddenly obsessed with it........or maybe it's because-
There's not much else to be said. Yes, he's jealous that this nefarious creature is hogging his best friend. Coworker. They still need to sort that out. But regardless, whatever they are is constantly being interrupted by the tiniest meows from the tiniest little devil that Lio has ever shared a room with. Yes, shared a room with, because Galo only has one and he was already sharing it with Lio. However, Lio puts up with it. He puts up with a lot , actually, but most of it concerns Galo, and the cat, and Lio's unresolved irritation at them for being so preoccupied with each other that Lio can't - or just doesn't try to - get a word in edgewise.
Nothing really gets resolved until one day, after Lio's been run ragged to hell and back from Lucia's (surprisingly humane) experiments and comes home to see Galo giving Neko the sappiest, most disgusting eskimo kisses known to mankind.
Something in Lio's mind goes off, and he resolutely walks up to Galo before taking Neko from his arms and.......booping their noses together. Why? Lio doesn't know, but at least he doesn't look nearly as surprised - or red - as Galo does at the sudden proximity. "Lio? What's that for?"
"No reason," he says after a long, contemplative silence. It wasn't even so much of an eskimo kiss as it was a nose-touch, and so he tries not to think much of it as he steps away from Galo and pretends nothing just happened.
Galo is nothing if not stubborn though, and the hand suddenly wrapped around Lio's wrist refuses to budge. "You're not usually so forward, y'know. Even I would notice that. What's really going on, Lio?"
"Well, what do you think?"
"Lio," Galo says slowly, as if his brain is still processing his thoughts as words in real time, "I think.......you're jealous of Neko."
"I'm not." He is. "I'm just surprised that you're only able to focus on one of your roommates at one time." Neko meows in objection from Lio's arms before purring, surely to try and distract Lio from his true goal. "At this point, you'd think you saved the world with a cat and not me."
Galo is beyond confused, but Lio is too irritated to care. "Lio, that doesn't even make sense, what happened down there is completely different from-"
"I know, but I'm just saying that you look pretty intent on sharing promare with Neko here." That feels just as disgusting to say as it sounds, but once again, Lio is currently wound up with tension, there's a miniature devil in his arms, and he's only taking it out on Galo because it's convenient.
"I wouldn't do that to Neko!" Galo is mortified at the thought, and Lio snorts.
"What, you wouldn't perform CPR on your own pet? That's not very emergency rescue of you."
His response is a deep frown. "I would, but don't change the subject! That wasn't CPR and we both know it."
Galo's words hold some weight to them, but Lio doesn't know how to interpret them- he never understands what Galo's thinking until it's almost too late, and he rues the fact right now. "What is that supposed to mean?"
" That means that you're really overthinking the whole me owning a pet thing. You're my boyfriend, Lio. Neko is my cat. "
Lio's brain comes to a screeching halt immediately, screeching because something's gotta do that and Lio still has enough pride to not scream in Galo's face. "Your what?"
"My cat, Lio, please don't tell me you don't know what a-"
"Oh no," Lio says, rounding on Galo. "Don't you dare give me that. I meant before that, when you said I'm your-"
"My boyfriend, yeah. We saved the world with the power of love and everything, I don't get why you're so surprised."
Lio's hands move up to illustrate his point, but there's no particular way to illustrate helpless confusion and so they just hang in midair, waving in vague circles. "We haven't even done anything, what made you think we were going out? "
Galo blinks. "Lio, we kissed."
"We fistbumped. " Lio's reply is weak though, and Galo's eyes twinkle, gears long since thought rusted and dead turning in his mind.
"Wanna do it again?"
"Fistbump." Lio scowls at that one, but suddenly Galo is getting closer, eyebrows wiggling in a way that only a real idiot could make them. "Yeah, I meant kiss. Am I allowed to kiss my boyfriend? "
Lio's breath stalls for a moment before one sarcastic answer slips out of his lips without his permission. "I wouldn't know, I'm not your boyfriend."
And oh, if that isn't the wrong answer, because Galo takes his words for face value at just the wrong time and steps back- just for Neko to meow in distress as Galo begins to trip and fall backwards onto their bed and Lio shoots his arm out to steady him. It doesn't work, seeing as Lio is weak, Galo is heavy and Neko is still firmly situated in the ex-Burnish's hands, and so the end result is a messy pile of limbs - four arms, four legs, four paws - on the bed.
Though some miracle, or the cat's own machinations, Neko is sandwiched but not crushed between the two men, and so he slips out of their reach, sitting next to them as the sudden lack of feline leaves no barrier between their bodies. "Sorry," Galo says quickly, but Lio silences him with a Look, capital L, before speaking. He's not going to ruin the relationship (that Lio didn't even know they had) by letting Galo assume the worst of him.
"I'm not against it," he forces himself to clarify instead of running away like he likes doing so much, Galo's eyes widening hopefully as he continues. "You just never told me we were going out, idiot."
Galo laughs. "Oh." Beat. "We're going out then."
"......yeah, like that." Lio refuses to blush like a virgin schoolgirl and instead removes himself from the awkward position to stand up; however, Galo has other plans as he pulls Lio back down, this time facing away from him to pull him into his lap. There's no actual kissing involved yet, and Lio can't decide if he's disappointed or just surprised. "Galo? What's wrong this time?"
"Nothing, I just figured, you haven't gotten the chance to really enjoy being my boyfriend and all. Plus, you're kind of right, I mean I've been so busy with Neko that I might've......not spent enough time with you. Sorry."
Oh no, Galo apologizing is cute , and Lio sighs. "Don't apologize. I'll just have to live with the fact that my boyfriend is a crazy cat lady."
"As long as he can keep being your boyfriend."
"I'll think about it."
Finally content with the situation, Lio even begrudgingly accepts it when Neko pushes himself onto his lap shortly after, angrily demanding attention from the mortal known as Lio while the one named Galo is being distracted.
Galo seems to think one more time before adding a ridiculous stipulation just a bit too late. "Me and Neko are, like, a package, by the way. If you're gonna love me, you gotta at least put up with him, okay?"
Lio sighs and shifts in Galo's arms, trying not to notice the purring coming from Neko, the vibrations into Lio's shirt sounding more like smug laughter than anything. "Yeah," he says finally, ignoring the way his own cheeks flare up at being allowed to love Galo. "Neko isn't so bad, I guess." Content with that much for now, Galo chuckles, almost sounding like he's purring himself as his bare chest rumbles flush against Lio's back, and that, Lio decides, is reason enough for Neko to stay.
After that, the world returns to calm; the only difference from the day before is their newly defined relationship. Everything's fine, everything's perfect , actually.....until Galo bounces into the common room a bit too excitedly the very next day and proudly exclaims, "Remi, what's dog in Japanese?"