It starts off harmless enough.
(“Hey, are you free next week to catsit?”
“Cat,” Kun asked. “Isn’t Bella a dog?”
“Yeah, but not for me,” Dejun explained. “My friend’s got two cats. Usually his apprentice watches them but Yangyang is currently stuck in another dimension, and Ten-ge didn’t want to have like a normal watch them, so I suggested you?”)
Kun’s been doing the pet sitting thing for a while, it’s a great way to make some easy cash and get to cuddle with cute pets that aren’t his own for a while. Graduate school isn’t cheap. So he doesn’t mind. His usual customers are limited to the old lady that lives in his building and Dejun and a few other grad students that go home for the holidays.
So the idea of getting another client is nice enough that Kun hadn’t questioned the stuck in another dimension part of this conversation until…. Now.
“Does your cat normally float,” Kun asks.
He’s trying not to overreact, because Ten isn’t acting like anything out of the ordinary despite the fact that there is currently a cat floating about a foot above his head.
Ten looks up at the aforementioned cat with mild amusement and a shrug, “Only Louis does.”
Louis, a floating cat.
Leon, not a floating cat.
“Uh, why does he float?”
“Oh,” Ten laughs, as if only now realizing that the floating cat situation warranted an explanation. “I was working on an enchantment to make a flying car, only I got the words jumbled. Louis doesn’t mind, he likes floating.”
Kun furrows his brows in confusion.
An enchantment ?
“Flying car, like in Harry Potter?”
Ten grimaces at that. As if Kun’s words have personally offended him. “No.”
“I mean, sure magic,” Ten waves his hands, fingers sparking as he does so. “But not like that, I mean misrepresenting magic and making literal theme parks over your wrong interpretations, but being a transphobe on top of it-” He grimaces. “Disgusting and wrong. In any case, Witch isn’t a term confined to cisgender norms, at least, not where I’m from. So none of that ‘wizard’ bullshit.”
“I see,” Kun replies. Except, he doesn’t really see but well… Better not ask any more questions. “So the cats?”
“Right!” Ten claps his hands. “Let me show you where their litter boxes are!”
The rest of the tour around Ten’s place goes about as normal as anyone else that Kun had petsit for in the past. Explaining diets and medicine and places that the cats like to hide.
All in all it was pretty normal stuff.
If Kun ignores Louis floating, and the mason jars full of eyeballs and lizards and other mystery substances, and the demon summoning circle in the study, and the moving pictures (which he pointedly did not mention also appear in the books that shall not be named).
Everything was going fine.
Until, just before showing Kun out the door and handing him the spare keys, Ten said - “Oh, before I forget. Dejun said you were a magician? Did you study abroad for that? I only know a few magicians, but last I checked they were either doing that whole ‘quest to discover immortality’ bullshit or in the States.”
“I mean, I mostly learned from YouTube,” Kun says, feeling suddenly like there must have been ten layers of miscommunication that led him to this moment. But only one of them is starting to reveal itself now.
He’d met Dejun at a party, where Kun had been attempting to flirt in one of his most awkward or effective ways depending on who you’re asking. The famous pick a card, any card trick had a 50/50 success rate.
Wait, does that mean that Dejun was a witch too?
Or something else?
Ten scoffs. “I mean, isn’t all of that bullshit to make humans feel special?l
“I’m human,” Kun replies, before really thinking it through.
It’s not like he could have lied.
He’s not even sure how to lie in this situation.
Up until fifteen minutes ago he hadn’t even known that witches existed.
Let alone anything else.
Ten pauses, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand?”
“I’m not like… you? It’s just party tricks,” Kun explains. “I don’t have any actual magic?”
There’s a moment of silence.
Long and awkward and Kun wonders if memory erase spells were also just fictional or if that’s something that could happen to him in the near future.
The silence is broken by one of the cats, Leon the non-floating one, meowing.
Ten either speaks cat (which could be a thing?) or takes that as some sort of sign because a moment later he’s shrugging, “Well, I mean, you’ve watched a Hellhound without any issues so you should be fine with these two, even if you are ‘human’.”
“What do you mean a hellhound !?”
(“In my defense,” Dejun says, when Kun calls him later, “You don’t seem very human , you just don’t give off the ‘human’ vibes. Are you sure you don't even have one magical relative? Maybe a manticore? You give off the vibe.”
“I don’t even want to know what that means.”)
So apparently magic exists?
And apparently Dejun is half-demon on his mother’s side?
Who could have known?
At least, watching the cats is pretty normal in spite of that. Louis floats around but otherwise behaves like a normal cat that is just always at eye level, and Leon seems to be completely normal and in desperate need of attention as soon as Kun opens the door.
Which is nice.
And then there’s Ten, who may or not currently be in the same dimension as Kun. Honestly, Kun doesn’t really understand it all and sometime between the first and second day of texting Ten cat pictures and getting a stream of emojis in reply Kun decided that it was best not to ask.
He’s currently curled up on Ten’s couch, doing his homework, while giving Leon some cuddles, while his phone is propped up onto a few books with questionable magical properties so that Ten can FaceTime his other cat.
Louis mostly floats in the air and stares at the camera but occasionally meows back at Ten, as Ten rambles on and on about his current adventures and misfortunes, having insisted earlier that he sensed the cats were worried about him and that he needed to call them.
Kun mostly didn’t question it.
Mostly being the keyword.
“Kun! Kunnie!” It’s Ten calling his name through the phone that finally pulls Kun out of his studying zone.
“Are you two all done,” Kun asks, grabbing the phone off the table, after noticing that Louis has decided to float away.
“Louis is mad at me,” Ten pouts through the phone screen.
“Tell me about your life,” Ten says, dropping the pout. “Something interesting that’ll cheer me up!”
“I’m not very interesting,” Kun replies.
Which isn’t entirely true. Most people he interacts with find him pretty interesting, but compared to a witch , he’s not sure how much he actually has to bring to the table.
Ten sighs dramatically, “Fine then, tell me about your extremely boring human life then, maybe it’ll bore me to sleep.”
And for some reason he does.
Not just that first night.
But the next one.
And the one after that.
And the one after that too.
(“You know, I listened to your podcast,” Ten says, unprompted, “And I just want to know why do you hate the wood nymphs?”
“I mean, you’re out here destroying the earth and for what? Pictures that anyone can right click and save,” Ten continues. “It doesn’t make sense! Unless a wood nymph personally offended you and this is your revenge.”
Kun sighs, having long since given up explaining cryptocurrency to Ten, instead focuses on the other part. “I’ve never met a wood nymph…?”
“You’ve literally met Renjun, I’ve seen pictures of you two together.” Ten gasps at that. “Kun, baby, you don’t have to destroy the planet just to get back Renjun! There’s easier ways, like oh idea, we could steal his phone charger!”)
He’s pretty sure Ten is lonely.
Maybe traipsing through the other dimensions but definitely lonely. There’s no other reason for why he texts Kun so much. It starts about the cats, wanting pictures of them, or seeing how they’re doing, or explaining all their particularities.
But then it slowly progresses to memes (that saw their best days in the early 2000s), and random thoughts, and a very concerning series of texts describing the process of disemboweling a human being.
And well… suddenly Kun’s day turns into a series of moments, while he waits for a reply, or a terrible joke, or just anything at all from Ten.
(“How’s my favorite boy doing?”
“You have a favorite, ” Kun asks, looking between the two cats. “Wait, can’t they understand you? Do they know which is your favorite? That’s so mean!”
Ten laughs. “No silly, they’re my babies, I don’t have a favorite child.”
“Oh well, then-”
“You’re my favorite boy .”
“What!? What’s that - What does that even mean!?”)
It feels obvious, the second he steps into Ten’s apartment, as if something in the air has shifted for the worst. Kun takes a deep breath before assessing the situation.
Louis floats around the room at a faster pace than usual, ears flicking back in displeasure whenever Kun tries to come near him. Meanwhile, Leon…
“Where’s Leon,” he asks.
Louis does not reply.
Partially because he is a cat, and partially because Kun is pretty sure Louis doesn’t like him
Kun sighs, “Did you two get into a fight?”
It seems the most likely answer out of anything, even if Louis can’t reply.
He puts out food for the two cats, hoping that the sound of his bowl being filled will summon Leon out.
But there’s nothing.
It’s once Kun has shaken the treat container, and Leon still doesn’t appear that the true dread settles in.
And when checking all of the favored hiding spots that Ten had shown him turns up nothing…
The idea of having to call Ten, when he might potentially be in the biblical limbo, and tell him that his cat is missing is enough to make a pool of anxiety settle in Kun’s stomach.
There goes his streak of perfect pet sitting reviews.
It takes one ring before Ten picks the FaceTime call, “Aww, Kunnie, did you miss me? You know not that I mind the call, but-”
“I can’t find your cat,” Kun says, cutting him off. “Leon, the normal one, not the floating one. I swear I didn’t leave a door unlocked or a window unlocked, but I’ve checked all of the hiding spaces and I can’t find him. I think the cats fought or something? I don’t know. I don’t speak cat. I thought maybe since you do, you could ask, or you’d know somewhere else to look or could do a tracking spell or ”
“Hey,” Ten cuts him off, voice soft instead of angry like Kun thought he would be. “Don’t worry, this happens. I’ll just use my tracking app.”
Ten laughs, “I put Apple AirTags on the cats collars. Work smarter, not harder, baby!”
“That’s surprisingly normal.”
“Occasionally, I can be,” Ten replies, smiling at Kun through the screen.
It takes Ten a minute to get the answer, the screen flickering black while he switches apps. Kun settles on the couch feeling all sorts of terrible, a feeling only slightly mitigated by Louis curling up in his lap (or well, floating about an inch off his lap, but nearly there), as if the cat could sense his distress. That or he heard his father’s voice on the phone.
When Ten reappears on screen he doesn’t seem distressed or worried, which is a good sign, “Leon’s just down the street, he went to visit one of my neighbors.”
Kun frowns, “I swear, I didn’t leave a door open.”
Ten waves him off, “Oh no, big deal, Leon can walk through walls. If he wanted to get out, he’d just phase through them.”
“He… What? ”
“Can walk through walls,” Ten repeats, “Really it was a simple spell, I’m not sure how I messed it up but-”
“Hold on,” Kun cuts him off, voice angry. “You mean to tell me that your ‘normal’ cat also has magical powers and you never bothered to mention it until now?”
“Do you have any idea how terrible I felt? That I lost Leon, but no, he just wandered off, walked through the walls, no big deal.”
Ten frowns. “It didn’t seem important. I don’t understand why you’re upset.”
Maybe the bad pet sitter review would be worth it.
Because this was all just too much.
It’s not worth explaining it to Ten, explaining how out of his depth Kun has felt this last week with the whole sudden realization that magic was real and the subsequent fall out.
Instead he just says, “I have to go, just text me Leon’s location and I’ll go get him.”
(“I’m so sorry to bother you, but I think my cat… Or well, not my cat, exactly, but uh, is a cat is here?”
“Oh! You’re the ghost cat’s owner?”
“His name is Leon, wait, did you say ghost ?”
“Yeah, cause,he walks through walls, you know? Hey! Mark-hyung, go get the ghost cat, his owner is here!”)
At least, he’s only got one more day of this.
One more day of watching Ten’s cats and then he’ll never have to see them again.
And he’ll never have a reason to text Ten again, which… Is good, right?
It’s probably for the best to end whatever this is before it can begin.
(Ten texts him, in the middle of the night, hours after Kun’s goodbye message.
‘I, an empath, am sensing that you are mad at me’ Ten writes.
Kun pointedly doesn’t reply.)
He should be thankful not to have to go to that weirdly magical house anymore, or have to call Ten with updates on his cats, or… Any of that.
But instead, he feels kind of lonely.
Not that Kun would admit that out loud even if his life depended on it.
He just kind of misses them.
The cats, obviously.
He doesn’t even really know Ten. Not properly. They’ve only met in person that one time, but something in Kun aches just a little bit. Maybe not like losing a friend, but more like losing out on the opportunity to have made one. Magical weirdness aside. A part of him kind of liked talking to Ten.
(“Oh hey, how’d things go with Ten’s cats,” Dejun asks him, way too casual for someone currently walking a hellhound around the park.
Kun doesn’t know how to answer him, so he just settles on, “I mean, he paid quickly, unlike… Some people?”
“Ha ha ha, yeah… Anyway, lovely weather we are having, huh?”)
The sight of a cat in Kun’s living room should be shocking.
But Kun’s long since lost the ability to be shocked.
And plus he knows exactly whose cat it is.
“Does Ten know you’re here,” Kun asks, it’s a rhetorical question.
Kun settles down onto his couch and lets Leon onto his lap. Leon snuggles up against Kun, claws tightening into Kun’s pants so that he can’t be shaken off. He instinctively moves to scratch at Leon’s ears, the cat purring in response.
“I guess you missed me,” Kun muses, wondering how Leon made it across the city safely.
Then again, if Leon really is a ghost cat or whatever he was probably fine. And even if he’s not technically a ghost, he’s still seen the cat walk through walls.
It’s weird but… “I missed you too.”
He swears for a second he hears an echo of his own words in the back of his mind. The feeling of missing and being missed. But surely… That must be his imagination.
“I should probably text Ten, right?” He says, speaking mostly to himself, but also to Leon. “Or call him? To make sure he knows you’re safe?”
It’s an excuse.
A thin one.
Because he’s missed Ten but hasn’t known how to reach out, and now the perfect excuse is sitting curled up in his lap, happy as can be.
It feels almost familiar to call Ten while he’s petting Leon. And much like every other time before Ten picks up after just one ring.
Ten’s smiling far too wide for someone who is currently missing a cat and has mysterious goo (hopefully something non toxic) currently stuck to his face and hair, but Kun decides its better not to question that.
“You’ll never guess who I found in my apartment this evening?”
Leon meows on cue.
Ten’s laugh carries through the line, “He says he’s sick of us both being miserable and pining?”
Kun’s cheeks flush . “There’s no way, Leon actually said that.”
“See you’re the lucky one not understanding them.”
“Is that right, well,” Kun says. “Do you want to, maybe come over and talk about that uh… pining, was it? And also get your cat back?”
“You sure you’re not actually a magician, because you just read my mind!”
(“So you missed me, oh baby, that’s so embarrassing.”
“Ten, please, shut up, and go back to kissing me.”
“Well, if you insist .)