Chapter 1: Yoru
“Would you like to come with us tonight, Lieutenant?”
Sakuma paused in the hallway.
“Who’s “us” tonight?” He turned around to face Miyoshi, who was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. Slowly, he stood up straight while slipping his hands into his pant pockets.
“We’re all back, so everyone.”
“Then, no thanks. Not tonight.” Sakuma replied, nodding his head slightly before turning around again and walked away.
Miyoshi sighed behind him. “That seems to be your favourite answer.”
He didn’t stop. “No, it’s my only answer.”
“Accepting my invitation could be one.” Miyoshi continued.
“I’ll have to decline that as well.”
“Are we such unsavoury company?”
Sakuma hesitated. “I think you would prefer each others' without mine.” He then continued on his way, increasing his pace. He reached out and twisted the doorknob, opening the door to their shared bedroom. “Goodnight.”
He stepped in and closed the door behind him, not waiting for a reply. He pressed himself against it and heard Miyoshi’s footsteps echo across the floor. They got closer until they stopped at the door. Silence. Then they continued, no doubt heading towards the back exit. He strained his hearing to confirm that Miyoshi had just left.
Sakuma let out a big sigh. Now that all eight of the spies were out together for the night, he would be able to shift without worry. He had been abstaining for a month, which was frowned upon in his community. Although the wolves in the West liked to pick a specific time and date to change, it brought about stories and myths that threatened to expose their secret to the Humans. It was advised to him from a young age that he should be in an environment where he would be able to shift constantly without bringing suspicion to himself.
However, war broke out and nowhere was safe anymore. He decided that if he couldn’t find sanction, he would help create it. He joined the army and went through the training. He abstained for months before he finally was stationed in the Army and was able to go home. He stayed at a friend’s place and shifted, only to be incapacitated for a week, shivering in pain and unable to even stretch his paws. He vowed to himself then that never again would he abstain for so long.
He couldn’t help it this time though. He never knew when the spies would be back from their missions, like when Odagiri came back suddenly in the middle of the night from Manchuria. He thought the man had resigned, but apparently he fell back into his spy training the moment he suspected corruption within the army branch where he was stationed. After he had tidied it up – no one would tell him what that meant, but he knew that whatever happened made Mutou very, very mad – he returned to D-Agency.
While Sakuma was quite happy to know that Odagiri was back, it made him realise that the spies who were on missions had no deadline. He couldn’t start transforming and have one of the eight see him. However, tonight was different. Everyone was back and out having “fun”.
He could finally shift.
He started stripping and packing his suit away; he didn’t want any fur to stick onto it as it could give himself away and made cleaning far too annoying. He tucked his shoes under his bed and looked around to see if anything was out of place. He quickly opened the bedroom door slightly and patted his pillow to make an indent for where his head would have been before sitting onto the floor and closing his eyes.
When he opened his eyes again, he could clearly see the dust he had missed when he cleaned this morning. He blinked and stretched, feeling a deep ache in his bones and tried shaking out his fur to reduce the soreness. Lifting his head, he sniffed and could clearly identify the eight individual scents of the spies he shared this room with. Although his senses were normally better than a Human’s, when he was a cat, he experienced the world in a whole different light.
Sakuma quickly paced out of the room and made it to the window he had opened up before. He jumped onto the ledge, wincing slightly as he stiffened from the pain of straining his muscles. It’s been a while since he used this body. He braced himself and jumped again, onto the convenient branch just outside. He grumbled as the ache shot straight up his legs. He promised himself that this time he would not be stupid and abstain again.
Slowly, he climbed down the tree and landed safely onto the floor. He pressed his paws into the dirt before prowling through the streets, chastising himself for giving up this feeling of freedom for so long. He made his way past a few houses and alleyways, meeting upon some friends who were also strolling along on this fine night. The wind ruffled his fur, caressing him with a soft breeze and made him think back to the last time someone ever petted him. Only his parents were close enough to him to massage his back, rub his belly, scratch his ear, and that was…
A gust brought over a new scent to his nose. He immediately perked up his ears, listening out for the tell-tale scurries of a rat. He licked his lips. He wanted to hunt. Quickly and quietly, he followed his nose to the back of a house. He climbed up onto a tall pillar and glanced around before spotting the rodent.
He crouched down, shifting his weight between his paws and tensed.
The ache in his body flared up again as he landed, scaring the rat and began the chasing game. Sakuma knew he wouldn’t be able to catch it. He was trailing after it despite him running as fast as he could. A hunt was impossible after a month of abstinence.
Suddenly, the rat turned a corner and he followed after it, only to hit into a metal grate by the side of the house. Ouch, he didn’t need more pain. He shook his head, trying to regain his senses. He looked up and noticed that the moon was halfway across the sky. It was time to head back.
Sakuma quickly returned to the bedroom, wincing every time he jumped. He finally made it to his bed, awkwardly climbing into it and closed his eyes. Pain flooded his body, causing him to yelp out slightly. He tried again, but the pain became worse each time.
He was stuck.
Wearily, he climbed back out of bed and flopped onto the cold floor. He couldn’t turn back. Morning was coming soon and that would bring the D-Agency spies back, only to find him missing and a cat in his place if he didn’t do something. Standing up, he rushed to his suitcase and raised himself onto his hind legs, reaching inside to pull out some casual wear. He wrapped it up as tight as he could before gripping the clothes with his mouth and ran out quickly.
Just as he jumped out and landed onto the branch, he heard the back exit door open.
“I wonder if Sakuma-san is still asleep.” He could hear Amari ponder.
Hatano scoffed. “After your stupid, loud comment, I’m sure he’s awake.”
“Don’t be so mean!”
“He has a point, Amari. It’s almost as if you wanted to wake him up.” Jitsui followed up.
“Well, your whining certainly did now.” Miyoshi continued.
“You three are always ganging up on me!”
Sakuma could now hear the group make their way to the bedroom. They paused at the door.
Then it swung open.
Dammit, he forgot to close it.
“Ah, so I didn’t wake him up.”
He could hear the rummaging of fabric, knowing that someone must be going through his clothes and noticing the missing pants and shirt that were now in his mouth.
“Seems like the Lieutenant was in a rush to get somewhere late at night.” Miyoshi said.
“Why are you so interested in him?” Odagiri asked.
“He seemed to have a reason to not accept my invitation this time.”
Sakuma tensed up. He noticed that?
“So you’re hurt that he rejected you?” Kaminaga jabbed. Sakuma held his breath; did Miyoshi suspect something?
“No.” The lid of his suitcase slammed down. “What I find appalling is that he folds his suits.”
He let out a sigh. If Miyoshi did know anything, he didn’t reveal his thoughts with the others. Whilst this meant that he may be blackmailed by the spy, he found himself to be glad that he had at least another day to think up of a plausible excuse for him.
For now, he needed breakfast.
He casually strolled along the market, smelling all the wonderful foods that were being prepared before arriving at a stall that sold fresh fish. He slipped past the wooden table outside and made his way to a man who was laying out fish he had no doubt just caught that morning. After placing his ball of clothes into a corner, Sakuma let out a soft noise, enough to catch the man’s attention. He looked down, a smile raising his lips when he saw the cat at his feet.
“Yoru! It’s been a while! How rare to see you out and about with the sun rising.”
Sakuma hissed. He hated that nickname. Having black fur did not justify its use, in his opinion, and he would appreciate it if people just used a generic nickname, like Tama or something. A cat of his colour was rare and he didn’t want more attention brought onto himself than necessary. Even letting his old friend, who had seen him at his worst, talk to him in this form was grating his nerves.
“Okay, okay. I get it: less talking, more feeding,” he said, bustling around before placing a small fish onto a plate and setting it onto the floor. “Just one though; I know that while your stomach is the size of a pea right now, it’s as endless as a black hole. I’m not willing to give my whole salary to you!” Sakuma huffed out before attacking the fish, ripping pieces off the bones quickly and efficiently.
“It’s taking me longer to catch all this nowadays. Still more than the Humans, I guess, but soon my instincts will hold no edge over theirs. I’ll have to teach my children how to catch fish themselves so they can take over the stall.” Sakuma looked up and licked his lips before mewing politely, inquiring about his friend’s son and daughter.
“They’re fine, thanks for asking! They’ve both taken after their mother; strong and fierce but tender like the mama bear she is. She keeps insisting that they’re more like me though. Something about the size of their paws will encourage them to follow my footsteps as a fisherman.”
Sakuma huffed. He could imagine two little cubs tripping over their own feet as they tried to chase after their dad. Stretching out his limbs, he gracefully jumped onto a nearby crate and curled up on top. After breakfast, he loved to sunbathe in the morning rays and he could feel it warming up his fur. He purred, feeling content despite his slight dilemma. He was safe though. He was with a friend who he could trust, unlike the eight spies he lived with.
It was going to be okay.
He blinked. When had he fallen asleep?
Slowly, he raised his head and spotted the fresh fish that were laying on the table beside him. He glanced up and saw his friend talking to someone. It wouldn’t hurt to take one, would it?
He reached out to grab the closest one.
“Oi!” Sakuma flinched. His friend turned to face him with his hands on his waist, with mirth in his eyes despite his cross face. “You again! I can’t even turn my back around you!”
He tucked his paw back under his chest. Geez, so stingy. He looked around to see who was disturbed by his friend’s loud and obnoxious yelling. Many people were ogling at him, stupefied at the sight of a black cat as well as afraid that he would steal their wares.
“I’ll come again,” said the customer, who turned to walk away. Sakuma swivelled his head around, recognising that voice and noticed a familiar light grey suit making its way through the crowd. Did he buy fish from here often? As he pondered onto that thought, he caught a whiff of Fukumoto’s scent. He could smell the comforts of home from him; freshly steamed rice, grilled fish, miso, and-
Gunpowder? Didn’t the eight spies just come back from their missions? Why would they be using guns? Standing up, Sakuma yelped out, catching the attention of his friend. He jumped onto the floor and dragged out his clothing from its hiding place, head butting it into his friend’s ankle. He heard a chuckle above him.
“Go ahead. I’ll take your clothes back home with me.”
Nodding his thanks, he proceeded to quickly rush to D-Agency.
Just as Sakuma arrived, he spotted Fukumoto entering D-Agency through the front entrance. He could still smell the faint trace of gunpowder trailing behind him. He watched as the tall figure disappeared from the window before making his way back to the branch by the open window.
Although he made the jumps last night, being able to see the ground this time unnerved him. He shook his head and tensed up. Just as he pounced, pain shot up his hind legs and he missed the ledge, falling straight down.
He righted himself, expecting to land on all fours onto the soft grass below him only to hit someone’s head. The person struggled and he clung on, confused by the sudden shaking. He fell and hit something hard with his paw, causing him to jump back onto the Human’s shoulder and scratching their hand.
“You-!” He yelped as the man tried to attack him. Quickly, Sakuma launched himself back onto the tree, climbing up and vaulting through the window. Curious as to who was loitering around D-Agency, he looked out the window to see that the man was gone. He went to go lick his paws only to catch a weird stench.
What was that awful smell? He shook his head to clear his nose from the fumes on his paw. Suddenly, he heard the sound of guns being reassembled. He paced down the hallway and peeked his head into a nearby room and confirmed his suspicions: the spies were all wearing white cloths over their eyes and were placing guns onto the wooden table in front of them. This was the reason why the foreign smell of gunpowder was on Fukumoto. He also noticed that the make of the gun was unfamiliar to him. Was it new machinery from the Allies? That would explain why they were training again despite having become fully fledged spies.
Sakuma jumped back with surprise when a cane suddenly hit the floor in front of him.
“You can take them off now.” He looked up to see Yuuki, who appeared even taller, now that he only reached up to the man’s shin.
The spies began removing their blindfolds and were readjusting their eyes to the light when Hatano glanced over at him and paused.
“Oh?” Everyone looked at him, which caused him to freeze from the attention. This was the exact opposite of what he needed right now; the spies he was living with noticing him while he was like this.
“Aren’t black cats supposed to be the familiars of witches, rather than the Devil?” Hatano cheekily commented before folding his hands behind his head and whistled while looking out the window.
“Who let it in?” Yuuki asked.
Miyoshi stood up. “I’ll chase it out.”
Sakuma quickly tensed before scampering away. He didn’t need any of them to chase him out like a pest; he could do it himself.
He made his way to the window but found it had been closed by someone. Great, just great. Maybe he should let Miyoshi chase him out like he was vermin.
Before he knew it, the sun was just above the horizon and he could see it bleeding orange across the blue sky from the window. He crept out from his hiding corner in the kitchen to spot Fukumoto preparing dinner. He could smell the jack mackerel that his friend had caught this morning and could feel his stomach tighten with hunger.
Almost as if he knew Sakuma’s stomach was complaining, the tall man lifted his head and looked down at him just as he was making his way across the kitchen floor. He flinched, staring up at the spy who had looked back down and proceeded to cut up the fish. He made an attempt to leave, only to see Fukumoto lift up a plate and walk towards him.
Sakuma backed up slightly, unsure of what to do before pausing when he saw that it was filled with bite sized pieces of fish. It was placed in front of him, a clear invitation to eat the plate’s contents. He looked back up at Fukumoto, who had a neutral, but not unkind, expression on his face. Discretely, he sniffed the fish and deeming it safe from unknown chemicals, he began to eat.
He heard the others approach them, their footsteps loud and clear, before they stopped at the entrance of the kitchen.
“Hey. Don’t feed it.” Miyoshi said. “What if it decides to stay?”
“Feeling aversion towards your fellow kind?” Hatano teased behind him. Sakuma heard Miyoshi huff in disbelief while the other chuckled slightly. Someone made their way into the kitchen, towards Sakuma, but he knew it wasn’t the other two as the footsteps were heavier.
Their strides were pretty long too, because before he knew it, Sakuma was being lifted up by the scruff of his neck. He started to yowl, trying to escape from their grasp, worried and scared and you’re not my mum-
“Don’t be scared.”
Immediately, he slackened. It was Odagiri.
Slowly, he escorted Sakuma out of the premises and knelt down onto the floor, gently placing him outside of D-Agency.
“Next time, hide yourself better.” Odagiri said. He smiled fondly. “If the Devil finds you again, he’ll eat you up.” He got up and made his way back inside, shutting the door behind him. Sakuma licked himself, testing to see if any more pain would flair up and was pleasantly surprised to feel nothing of the sort. He wiped the dust from the kitchen off of his face and turned around to head back to his friend’s place only to spot a man with a paint can.
It was the Human from before, he was sure of it. He trailed after him, worried about the terrible odour he now knew must have been from the paint can. The Human zigzagged and backtracked, like he was trying to lose a tail, but Sakuma managed to follow him back to a house.
The man looked to his right and left, which only made him look more suspicious, in his opinion, before proceeding to unlock and open the door, slipping inside. Sakuma looked down from the roof and spotted a small balcony by a window covered with green blinds.
He jumped onto the wooden railing and landed softly onto the balcony ledge, peeking through the gap between the blinds and noticed a table covered in photos. They were pictures of everyone at D-Agency including Yuuki, seemingly taken when the photos’ subjects were unaware. This caused the fur on his back to rise; how could they not have noticed they were being spied on?
At the table, there were two Humans, no doubt accomplices to whatever scheme there was against D-Agency. Sakuma couldn’t see any further, so he quickly scrambled to the corner of the room, hiding under a desk he found. The two men looked up at the sound of the blinds being ruffled and one of them inspected the balcony.
Finding nothing, the Human closed the window and sat back down to look down at the pictures again.
Knock knock knock.
Knock knock knock.
The door opened, revealing the man who was at D-Agency this afternoon. “I think it’s going to work.” He placed the paint can in his hand down onto the table and removed its lid. Inside, Sakuma could spy three beige tubes with black wiring and a red battery-
A bomb?! That’s what he could smell from the paint can?!
“With this, D-Agency is finished.” Sakuma froze. They want to destroy D-Agency? Why? “It doesn’t look like much, but it’s very powerful.”
One of the other Humans smirked. “Don’t worry, it’s not fatal.”
“Yeah.” Another answered.
“But if we want to snub them out for good, it has to be somewhat showy.” The man replaced the lid back onto the can. “Once they’re known to the public, they’re finished.”
“What happened to your hand?”
“To tell you the truth…”
Suddenly, something rang. Sakuma turned his head to a black phone ringing. One of the men went over to it, picked up and paused for a bit, listening to the person on other side. He strained his ears, trying to catch what was being said, but he was too far away and could only hear muffled sounds.
“Okay, standby there for further orders. All is according to plan.” The man then looked up at the other two. “They’ve all left the building. Let’s go.” The paint can was picked up and the three left. They closed the lights behind them, immersing the room in total darkness. Sakuma slowly made his way out from his hiding place, looking around to see if there were any clues as to who these Humans were.
Finding nothing, he decided that he needed to stop their plan. The spies were out, right? Sakuma could afford to prevent their schemes without needing to shift back. If they were acting now, then they needed to be stopped now. He didn’t have time to go to his friend’s place to change and make it back to D-Agency. No, it’ll be fine. The eight had left the building.
First, he needed to find an exit.
Sakuma tried climbing up the hanging calligraphy to get to the ceiling, but the string that attached it to the wall broke and he fell down. He hissed, climbing out from underneath the fallen artwork and felt annoyed that he couldn’t even escape out of a room let alone try to save D-Agency from being ruined. If only there were clothes around that he could change into, then he wouldn’t have to waste time and-
Knock knock knock.
Knock knock knock.
He flinched and looked up at the door. Where they back? Did they finish the job? No, if the planed worked, they wouldn’t need to come back. If anything, this was a chance at an exit.
The doorknob turned. The door opened up and Sakuma rushed out, paying no heed to the paint can he hit into or whoever was at the door and scampered down the stairs.
“That cat…” His ear perked up at the familiar voice, but he kept running. It doesn’t matter if Amari saw him or if he knew of the plot. The men were already gone and he was too late to intercept them.
Sakuma needed to stop them.
There was a light. He crept up towards it and saw two of the men crouched down around the paint can. One was holding the lamp while the other was fiddling with the bomb.
“Well?” The man with the light asked.
“Just a little further.” The other man answered.
His lamp illuminated the smirk that appeared on his face. “A highly classified spy agency that’s unveiled because of a bomb explosion.” The smile widened. “By tomorrow morning, everyone in Japan will know their faces.”
Sakuma crept up closer to them, but accidently ruffled the bush next to him, causing the two men to swivel around and see him. He froze, slightly blinded by the light.
“It’s just a cat.”
“Wait.” The man who had been fiddling with the wires in the paint can reached down to his side. “They own this cat.” He picked up a long stick and stood up, making his way towards Sakuma.
“Hey! Finish the explosive first!”
He could see a nasty grin grow on his face. “This guy’s accountable for what I went through this afternoon.” Sakuma hissed at him, warning him to take himself and the stick away from here.
The man raised the stick high up in the air before swinging it down at him. He nimbly jumped out of the way and could hear the other man protesting.
“Hey! Cut it out!”
“I’ll be done soon” was the reply before he made his way over to Sakuma again. He crouched down and climbed up the wall onto a window ledge before pouncing straight at the man, hissing as he tried to scratch his eyes. He was blocked by an arm, which brushed him off to the side. He landed and jumped away to avoid the stick that was brought down behind him. He faced towards him and hissed again, warning the man to leave D-Agency.
‘I’ll slam your head in!” The Human raised the stick again in an attempt to hit him, only to be interrupted.
“That’s our cat, so I ask that you don’t do anything excessive.” Suddenly, light flooded the area and blinded the two perpetrators. Sakuma looked around and noticed the other seven spies were here. Did Amari tell them?
They emerged from the shadows and encircled the two strangers.
“Impossible! You guys were…?” The Human with the lamp sputtered.
“It doesn’t look like much, but it’s very powerful.” Sakuma perked up at the words said by Miyoshi. Did they listen in on the conversation back at the house?
“Don’t worry, it’s not fatal.” Hatano mocked, arms by his waist.
“Yeah.” Fukumoto continued.
“But if we want to snub them out for good, it has to be somewhat showy.” Miyoshi said, reciting the conversation between the three men perfectly. “Once they’re known to the public, they’re finished.”
“How did you know about our conversation?!” Both of the culprits’ face flushed red, fists raised up in anger.
“First Lieutenant Ishikawa. First Lieutenant Morishita.”
Yuuki emerged from the shadows, calmly limping up to them. “Tell Colonel Mutou that I intend to drop by again soon to greet him.”
The two lieutenants lowered their hands to their sides, glaring at him lividly.
“The other two have been put to sleep inside their car.” Odagiri appeared beside them.
The two clenched their jaws and ran off, most likely back to the General Office to report to Mutou that they failed to embarrass D-Agency.
Miyoshi walked up to the paint can and shone his torch into it, revealing the bomb inside it for everyone to see. “Is this the identity of the smell that was on it?” Sakuma froze, confused. Did Miyoshi notice the smell on his paw? Also, did they know about the plan to expose them from the very start? He took a step back. They really were monsters, despite being Human.
“Yeah.” Fukumoto looked down at him. “This cat drove out the rats for us.”
Sakuma turned around and climbed up the fence wall, deciding that today had been far too long for him. He looked back down at the eight spies, knowing now that they never needed his help.
He never needed to chase out the rats, because they had already set up traps for them.
He made it back to his friend’s house and finally turned back, much to the dismay of the two little bears that were rolling around in bed, wanting to play with his small form.
“Nope, I can’t play with you. It’s time for bed!” Sakuma poked their noses when they whined, shuffling in between the sheets restlessly. He rubbed both of their bellies and calmed them down before tucking them in and gently placing a kiss on their foreheads.
He then walked out of their bedroom and was about to leave when his friend gestured at him to sit with him.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Home. I want to sleep.” Sakuma answered.
His friend looked wistful. “You have a place to call home now?”
Sakuma paused. “I…”
“You couldn’t shift back this morning because you abstained again, didn’t you.”
Sakuma nodded. “Yeah.”
“Can you really call the place where you’re at ‘home’ if you can’t even feel safe there?”
“Then why do you seem desperate to go back?”
Sakuma sighs. “They’ll start sniffing around if I don’t go back.”
“Who, your new family?”
“No! They are not family!”
“Don’t call me-.”
“-we all have someone to go back to. I thought it could be me when your mother followed after your father. Now I see that’s not true.”
“What are you talking about? Of course I trust-”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that! It’s just that I’ll only ever be a friend to you; nothing more, nothing less. I’ll always have your back and you’ll have mine.” His friend gave a small shake of his head. “What you need is stability, and I think you’ve found it.”
He stood up and gestured towards the door. “Go home. Be with your family. They’ll keep you safe.”
Sakuma stiffly stood up and nodded his head slightly before leaving.
He made it back to D-Agency’s front entrance just in time to see the eight spies leave the premise.
“Ah, Lieutenant. Are you finished with your pressing issue?”
Sakuma jumped. “Um, yes. Thank you for asking.”
Miyoshi shrugged. “It is no matter.” He pushed his hands into his pockets. “Would you like to come out with us tonight?”
“No thank you. I’ve had a long day and I’d like to sleep.”
Hatano nodded. “Of course, of course! I’m sure you were busy, scampering around and driving out rats or something.”
Sakuma froze. “What?”
“Oh, so you know about the cat!” Amari exclaimed, noticing his stiffness. “How do you know it, Sakuma-san?”
“H…he’s quite popular around here.” Sakuma said. “I see him around the market all the time.”
They all looked at Fukumoto who nodded. “Apparently, he steals fish often enough for the stall owner to notice him.”
“And yet you still fed him.” Miyoshi sighed.
“How do you know it’s a tom cat?” Jitsui asked, looking back at Sakuma again. “You seem to be quite knowledgeable about it.”
“Well, he’s a black cat, so it’s quite easy to notice him!” Sakuma reasoned, hoping that they would stop asking questions.
“Is that so… I wonder if he has a name then.” Tazaki pondered. “If he’s such a recognisable cat, with his black pelt, I’m sure he must have a name people gave him.”
“Well, if he’s going to be our cat, we should give him a name. Right, Miyoshi?” Kaminaga winked at the spy, who rolled his eyes in resignation.
“Yes! What would be good? Tama?” Amari suggested
“Too generic.” Miyoshi said.
“Ace?” Odagiri pitched in.
“Is he a dog?”
“Kitty?” Kaminaga added.
Tazaki rubbed his chin in thought. “What about something to do with his fur? Like Kuro?”
“Really. We’re gonna call a cat ‘black’?” Miyoshi scoffed. “How redundant.”
“Then what name do you want to give him? You’re the one who said he’s ours, right?” Hatano teased.
Sakuma ignored the spies’ squabbling. Why did they care so much? Actually, why did he care so much? He didn’t need to help out D-Agency at all today, as they probably knew about the scheme way before he did. They were able to recall the conversation at the house perfectly, so they were probably spying on the three men for a while; maybe even before they organised the plan and only had a motive.
He thought back to Yuuki’s comment that night. Did he get a tip from within the General Office? If so, then Sakuma really wasn’t needed. If anything, he was probably a liability, having no training as a spy as well as lacking the mentality of one. Why did they still keep him around? He was sure that with a wave of his hand, Yuuki could send him away.
His heart clenched at the idea of leaving.
Wait, what? He felt no attachment to D-Agency. It was just where he was stationed to liaise between the Army and the spies. Why would he care if he was forced to leave? He didn’t think of the Greater East Asia Cultural Society as his or anything, despite having lived there for quite a while. He was honestly surprised that he wasn’t attached, considering how hard it had been to move out of his apartment which he had rarely used. His instincts told him to expand and patrol his territory, but they were probably the reason why he didn’t care for the place as so many others shared it with him.
No, it wasn’t D-Agency. It was the spies.
Why? They had set him up to commit harakiri. Miyoshi was impressed that he managed to get himself out of the situation, but he really didn’t have a choice. His regenerative abilities could have pulled his spilling stomach back together in front of them.
The eight were monsters, yes. They had fake names, fake pasts, fake smiles and fake dreams, but they were also more righteous compared to the selfish pigs that were in the Army. He understood why Odagiri would jump at being a spy the moment he could and why he couldn’t go back.
He was also the closest spy to him due to their shared history (and slight hatred) in the military and trusted him the most – if he trusted any of them at all. He remembered how he was carried out by him and felt slightly harassed, but honestly, out of the eight, he much preferred Odagiri touching him. Sakuma couldn’t find himself to feel adverse to the others touching him though…
No! He couldn’t think like that. He just happened to live with the Humans who were most likely going to find out his heritage. They were observant and curious by nature, willing to dig deep into dark corners until they were satisfied. Like the cat, ironically.
Surprisingly, although it was the most dangerous place to be, it was also where he felt the safest. Sakuma didn’t feel the need to be on edge like he was in the past. These eight spies hated outsiders. While he felt worried they would find out, he felt like he was in an environment where he could shift away from the eyes of strangers. He tried his best to distance himself from them, but he had to admit that when he picked up the broken mug from Mutou’s floor, he felt like one of them.
Maybe his friend was right. Maybe this family will protect him. Maybe they’ll stay this time.
“Yoru.” Everyone paused before looking back at Sakuma. “Let’s call him Yoru.”
“Yoru: the stray cat who rules the area here.” Tazaki nodded. “I like that! Sounds like something I would want to watch.”
“Such a nice name.” Jitsui said. “How did you come up with it?”
Sakuma chuckled. “Although everyone is scared of the night and its darkness, you can only see the stars during that time. The darker the sky, the brighter the lights are.”
“A..at least, that’s what my mother always used to say!” Sakuma sputtered. “She was quite poetic and whimsical and loved to spin fantasy because she thought life was too boring and-”
“She sounds like an intelligent person.”
He looked at Miyoshi, stunned.
“We need to be heading off now.” Amari spoke up. “Say hello to Yoru if you see him for me!”
The eight spun around and walked off, Hatano and Kaminaga both mockingly saluting to Sakuma as they passed him. He watched them prowl down the street, seeming to be in the search for fun. Or maybe they were looking for a good hunt, who knew anymore.
When their silhouettes disappeared around the corner, he made his way inside. D-Agency wasn’t exposed, he wasn’t found out and nobody got hurt; seemed like it was a good time to call it a day. Just as he reached the top of the stairs, he heard the distinctive sounds of a cane hitting the wooden floor approach him.
Yuuki stopped in front of him. “Lieutenant.”
“The training today involved them being blindfolded whilst dissembling and reassembling a prototype handgun that may be used by the Allies.”
Sakuma nodded. “How did you find the guns?”
“We didn’t find them.”
This caused Sakuma to pause. “…Okay then.”
Yuuki then proceeded to go back to his office, but stopped suddenly.
“By the way, Lieutenant.” He turned back around and his eyes momentarily shone yellow.
“Don’t abstain for so long next time.”
Chapter 2: Fukumoto
A few months after the events in the OVA occurred.
The timeline may be confusing, sorry!
Basically, Odagiri comes back whilst Tazaki was away on his mission. (Asia Express, Ep. 6)
The OVA follows after that episode in my fic, as Tazaki is the last one back and they all go out for the night, allowing Sakuma to shift.
This chapter pretty much lines up with Kaminaga's mission (Robinson, Ep. 5)
Please know that this timeline is not accurate (such as when Hatano and Jitsui leave for their missions)!!
It’s been a week.
Sakuma had been trying to not abstain, but once again the spies’ return back to D-Agency was still quite erratic. Yuuki had, graciously, given him approximate dates and times for when they would come back but guesses were still guesses, even from the Devil himself.
He tried to shift at least once a week but it seemed that it would be impossible this time. Kaminaga was late with his daily update, which suggested either the mission was done and he was on his way back, or he was captured. Sakuma wasn’t worried for him though; he heard about Friday from Yuuki and was sure that the spy would follow through with Plan B if he needed to.
As he wasn’t sure when Kaminaga would come back, Sakuma thought it would be safe to wait until he did. As long as he didn’t abstain for a month, waiting for a while should be fine.
Sakuma had just finished adjusting his tie when he heard the distinct tap of Yuuki’s cane on the floor. It wasn’t steady though, and it wasn’t echoing across a hallway.
Thud, tap, thud, tap. Thud, thud, thud. Thud, thud. Tap.
Sakuma headed out of the shared bedroom and made his way to where the tapping originated. He stopped in front of Yuuki’s office. Gently, he twisted the door handle, unsure of what was waiting for him. Nothing happened. He walked in slowly and found that Yuuki was seated behind his desk, writing on some documents. He closed the door behind him.
Yuuki placed his pen down and folded his hands, looking up to meet Sakuma’s confused eyes.
“You called for me, sir?” Sakuma asked.
“How long has it been since you’ve shifted.”
He paused. “About a week, sir.”
Yuuki sighed. “I thought I was quite clear about not abstaining.”
Sakuma looked down. “Kaminaga is not back yet,” he looked back up, “so, I feel hesitant to shift when the possibility of him walking in randomly is quite high.” He paused again. “I should be fine for another week.”
Yuuki lifted up his pen and continued to work. Was he done with him? Sakuma turned around to leave the office when Yuuki spoke up again.
“Have you ever wondered why the Wolves in the West are fine with only monthly shifts?”
Sakuma stopped and turned around. “No, actually.”
“It’s because of their size.” Yuuki said, not bothering to look up. “Their bodies don’t need to reshape as much due to their large form. You, however, shift into a housecat.” He tapped his pen. “Considering your stature, you’ll start to feel the strain after about 10 days.”
Sakuma lowered his head. He had three days. If Kaminaga didn’t come back soon…
His head whipped up.
“Shifting is important. Feel free to use my office whenever you need.”
“…Thank you.” Sakuma was gobsmacked. “Can I ask why?”
“You want to avoid prying eyes, right?”
“Yes, of course! I meant why you… care.”
Yuuki was silent for a while before looking up at Sakuma.
“I’m familiar with the pain.” He shifted his attention back to his documents, a clear dismissal.
Sakuma pondered on his comment. Pain?
Oh! He felt like smacking himself. Yuuki was once an active spy! He probably had long periods of time where he wasn’t able to shift in the field. Depending on his form, he may have been able to withstand a while, but he had a prosthetic; it would have taken months to heal and getting used to, even with their accelerated healing. It must have hurt a lot to shift again after losing his arm.
Now that he thought about it, Sakuma wondered what Yuuki’s form was. His yellow eyes certainly looked like feline. How was he even able to transform only one part of his body anyway? Could Sakuma do that too?
Suddenly, Yuuki tapped his pen onto his desk again, disrupting his train of thought.
Sakuma quickly shuffled out of his suit, placing it on the floor by Yuuki’s desk, knowing that they would be hidden while he was gone. He closed his eyes and purred, glad to feel no pain. He stretched, arching his back and shifting from paw to paw.
“Who folds their suits.”
Sakuma opened his eyes and looked up to Yuuki. He was still focused on his documents, but it was obvious that he found his habit amusing. He huffed and jumped onto the desk. Yuuki reached behind him and opened the window.
“This window will be open for you to come back through.”
Nodding his head, Sakuma jumped onto the ledge and looked around for a way to get to the ground. He noticed a few bricks jutting out from the wall and while it looked random, he knew this was probably an emergency escape route. How many did this building have?
Sakuma quickly made his way down, the bricks providing plenty of space for his lithe body. When he got to the last brick, he noticed that there was a fairly long drop down.
So no one could come up, only go down.
Spies and their precautions. The locked window would prevent anyone from coming in. Then again, if someone smashed the window… But the sound would alert the spies? Maybe they wouldn’t be fast enough to stop them from glancing at confidential information. He was sure that Yuuki wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave that around for others to see though. Stealing random documents? How would the perpetrator get back down with their hands full? They could have a bag? But the weight could imbalance them? A second accomplice? The spies would surely make their way to the bottom of the escape route to stop the culprit from getting away and find the other person…
Why was Sakuma thinking like this?
The spies were rubbing on him.
He jumped, feeling himself float in the air for a split moment before gravity pulled him back down. Landing on all fours, he looked around for spectators. Satisfied that no one knew about the escape route, he raced off towards the morning market, wanting to go ask his friend for some fish.
As he turned into the main street, he noticed a familiar shade of grey.
Was Fukumoto shopping again? Curious as to where he bought his ingredients – other than fish, of course – Sakuma decided to follow him.
Easily said than done.
It turned out the spies took everything as a training session; even grocery shopping. Many times, Sakuma lost track on the tall man before spotting him across the road, heading the opposite way. He continued to follow him, determined to keep up with him only to find himself lost again until he spotted his bobbing black hair or his light grey suit.
Fukumoto turned left, heading down another main street. Sakuma quickly followed, turning around the corner, only to hit into something hard. He shook his head and blinked before looking up to see that he had bumped Fukumoto’s shin. The tall man crouched down.
Sakuma’s ear twitched. It felt weird that his childhood nickname was being used so… blandly. By a man he barely knew.
“Thank you for the other day.” His gratefulness coloured his voice, his tone soft. “That was very kind of you.” Slowly, Fukumoto reached out his hand, aiming for Sakuma’s head and he immediately jumped out of reach.
Maybe he didn’t mind them touching him, but touching was different from petting.
Fukumoto blinked. “I won’t hurt you.” He reached out again, but Sakuma growled slightly. He took the hint and his hand retreated back to his side. He stood up straight and dusted off his suit pants before continuing his way down the street.
Sakuma quickly followed him, noticing Fukumoto had slowed down his pace. The two walked side by side, avoiding the foot traffic as they headed to the morning market. Many vendors were yelling, advertising their wares and Fukumoto often stopped to buy their fresh produce, slipping it into the bag that was hanging on the crook of his arm. Sometimes, he would bend down and let Sakuma smell whatever he was considering on buying as if he were asking for his opinion. He would give an obligatory sniff before licking his lips or sneezing, which Fukumoto seemed to take into consideration before making a final decision.
It was oddly domestic.
Soon enough, they made their way to the fish stalls, where he could hear his friend talking to his potential customers about the quality of the sanma he caught this morning. Sakuma crept behind Fukumoto, not sure how he should greet him without being suspicious.
He didn’t need to worry though, because his friend noticed him very quickly.
“You again!” He yelled, raising his fist mockingly. “I thought I told you to stay away!”
Fukumoto shook his head. “I apologise for his behaviour, sir.”
His friend dropped his hand and regarded Fukumoto for a moment. “This cat’s yours?”
“Yes, you could say that.” He replied.
His friend looked down at Sakuma.
“I see.” His tone did not reflect the glee in his eyes. “Then I ask that you keep him away from my stall. He has stolen from me long enough!”
“Of course.” Fukumoto replied. He quickly chose some sanma for breakfast, letting Sakuma take a whiff of it. “Next time you want fish, come to me.”
Licking his lips, he watched as the tall man placed the fish into his bag. He looked back towards his friend; the corners of his lips were pulled down, but his eyes were smiling.
Sakuma looked up at Fukumoto.
“Let’s go home.”
He blinked in surprise before trailing after him, twisting around the legs of other pedestrians until he caught up to where Fukumoto was standing. He raised his head and meowed. The spy gave him a rare smile and they continued their way back to D-Agency.
Sakuma scaled back up the wall – turned out there was a way up – and climbed through the open window. He was surprised to find that Yuuki wasn’t in his office but his clothes were laid out neatly over the desk. How long had it been laying here for?
He closed his eyes and sighed as the background noise disappeared. He never got the chance to learn how to filter out unnecessary sound from his parents; he was too young to know at the time. It also seemed that there were other things he never got to learn, if this morning was any indication of his lack of knowledge on Weres.
Perhaps he could ask Yuuki to teach him.
He quickly shimmied into his suit, fiddling with his tie before smoothing the fabric down, hoping there were no visible cat hairs anywhere. He closed the window before leaving the office, shutting the door behind him and made his way downstairs. He reached the dining area and noticed that Fukumoto still hadn’t started on breakfast.
The spy turned his head towards Sakuma, nodding slightly.
“Is something the matter?”
Fukumoto blinked. “What makes you think that there is?”
“Well…” Sakuma raised his hand and scratched the back of his head. “You haven’t started on breakfast yet.” He paused. “By the time I come downstairs, the rice is normally cooking.”
He received another nod from the tall man.
“Jitsui was tasked to make a specific solution with things found in the kitchen. I want to sanitise the counter before I start cooking.” Fukumoto explained.
“Oh.” Sakuma paused. Should he…?
It wasn’t as if Fukumoto couldn’t deal with the mess, but some help would be appreciated, right?
“Um… Can I help with anything?”
Fukumoto blinked again before gesturing towards the sink. “You could start with the dishes.”
He nodded and shrugged off his blazer, placing it onto one of the dining chairs. He rolled up his sleeves and headed towards said sink. Before he reached in to grab the first glassware, Fukumoto touched his shoulder. He looked up, confused.
The spy smiled mysteriously. “You had some cat fur on your suit, Sakuma-san.” He then went back to the kitchen counter with a damp handtowel.
Sakuma’s jaw dropped. Oh no.
Chapter 3: Odagiri
This is still during the period where Kaminaga is held hostage.
Sorry!! This chapter is actually quite short as will the next one!!!
I'm hoping that the later chapters will be longer to compensate for how lacklustre the next few will be!!
Sakuma entered the office and was met with a clothes hanger on the desk.
He sighed. Was folding a suit such a bad thing?
Carefully, he hung up his clothes onto the doorknob and walked up to the window, opening it. He placed his hand onto its ledge and closed his eyes. He blinked and sat down, stretching his limbs before jumping onto the first brick step. He made his way down quickly, no longer worrying about falling anymore; he’s used this route for quite a while now.
He landed safely onto the ground and ran out to the main street, expecting to see empty tram tracks and the sun rising in the horizon, only for his eyes to land on a green car parked in front of D-Agency. He stopped. It wasn’t long ago when someone had tried to bomb D-Agency to humiliate – Mutou seemed quite upset when they were foiled by the spies – and expose them. Was there someone else out to get them?
He looked around, scanning the scarce crowd for any indication of who owned said car. Noticing no one who seemed likely, he looked back towards the alleyway. It didn’t seem like there was anyone spying on them again.
Was there a guest?
It would explain why Yuuki wasn’t in his office, but he would have told Sakuma if someone was visiting. There were only so many visitors that came to D-Agency.
During the different phases of the spies’ training, many professionals were brought in to personally teach them. As the candidates were continuously culled by Yuuki’s standards, however, their guests went from teachers to criminals.
Sakuma didn’t know how to feel at the time as revered professors and martial artists were slowly replaced by thieves. Perhaps it was because he felt comfortable enough to talk to them whilst the candidates were undergoing their trials. He had plenty of pleasant conversations with them; maybe he could have made a few friends if he didn’t know they were lawbreakers. It made him realise that he was observing these civilians undergo severe transformation and becoming monsters. Even more so than the criminals who were currently behind bars.
As the starting cohort slowly but surely decreased in size, the now vacant dormitory rooms were refurbished for other training purposes. Some became closets filled with casual and formal wear for both sexes. Others contained spy equipment such as listening devices, disguised cameras and lock picks. Sakuma would often move his stuff to another room as the students continued to be dismissed by Yuuki and find the previous one to be filled with guns and machinery the next day. It was almost like Yuuki predicted when he would have a new room free for his own use.
Those who moved the new equipment into the rooms were never seen by him though, so he doubted that those who had been so discreet in the past would deliver new devices in a green car.
He walked up to it and jumped up onto its hood.
The only other types of guests he knew about were Army officials, which Yuuki insisted his presence for. He was never needed during those meetings, but was made well aware of the stigma against the spies because of them. At the start, he agreed with their views on D-Agency’s displays of cowardice, but he soon realised that their reproach was fuelled with more personal vendettas. Maybe Yuuki wanted him to notice that.
He peered through the windscreen to look inside. It was completely spotless.
Sakuma pondered on the idea of a completely unknown guest. Sure, there may be others who have come and gone without him knowing, but would anyone be so obvious as to park their green car right in front of the building? He continued to look into the car and noticed that there was no indication of use at all; it seemed like it was new.
He sniffed around and instead of being overwhelmed by the smell of new leather, he identified all nine of the individual and familiar scents from D-Agency. Huh.
Since when did they own a car?
Before he could go to the boot of the car – maybe he would be able to see more from the back – he heard the front door of the Greater East Asia Cultural Society open. He looked up to see Odagiri, who immediately spotted him and shook his head.
“You need to get off the car.”
Sakuma did the first thing that came to mind.
He sat down.
“You need to get off the car.” Odagiri tried again.
Sakuma stretched out and lay flat on his belly.
He rolled onto his back.
Odagiri sighed and reached his hand out towards his belly, which Sakuma easily batted away with a paw and a warning hiss. The spy paused before retracting his hand and tucking it into his suit pant pocket. He then opened the door on the driver’s side of the car and paused again, waiting to see if Sakuma would move.
He did not. If anything, he was more intrigued that Odagiri was going somewhere today, looking up at him and twitching his whiskers.
“Curiosity killed the cat, Yoru.” Odagiri said as he slipped into the car and closed the door. He then pulled out a car key out of his pocket and pushed it into the ignition slot, twisting it. The engine started to rumble and Sakuma was taken by surprise by how similar it felt to purring. The vibrations in his chest made him feel comfortable and he pressed down further into the car, closing his eyes and softly purring at the soothing sensation.
Odagiri then opened the window, surprising Sakuma and stopped his purrs. “…but satisfaction brought it back.” Odagiri gave him a small smile. “Come on.”
Slightly mortified that a car engine caused him to start purring, he quickly stood up and jumped into the car, avoiding Odagiri’s arms and landed onto the passenger seat. He then looked up at Odagiri and gave a meow in thanks, lying down and situating himself in a comfortable position.
Odagiri just shook his head and started to drive.
Sakuma was suddenly woken up by the door closing and he jumped up, noticing Odagiri had just left the car. He looked around and couldn’t recognise the surroundings. Where were they? He stood up and peered outside, trying to catch a glimpse of anything recognisable. There were pedestrians who noticed him peeking through the window, little children waving at him as their parents led them away from the mysterious green car with a black cat inside. Sakuma immediately ducked back down again, his tail flicking in agitation.
He scanned the car and was fascinated with how pristine it was. Did the spies know how to clean or did someone do it for them? There was definitely no training for that; he oversaw everything with Yuuki. He didn’t even notice the spies used their shared laundry room. They probably dry cleaned, now that he thought about it.
Finding nothing of interest inside the car, he decided to just sit back down again and wait for Odagiri to come back from whatever errand he was set up to do. It took awhile for him to come back though, to which he was met with a curled up Sakuma, tapping his tail against the leather seat impatiently. Odagiri just entered the car and placed a white box down next to him.
“Sorry to have woken you up.” Odagiri said. “I have a task for you.” He gently patted the top of the package. “Don’t let this move.”
Sakuma sniffed the box and couldn’t smell anything unusual; cardboard and Odagiri’s unique scent of pen ink. He shifted, curling himself around the box and looked back up, mewing at the spy to drive. Odagiri looked at him hesitantly before carefully starting the car.
The drive was fairly smooth, so the box was stationary the entire time it was in Sakuma’s hold. He felt really curious as to what was inside and kept sniffing it, trying to catch onto some hint of its contents. By the time they had made it back to D-Agency, he had given up on trying to find out.
Odagiri just smiled at him as he reached out for the box. Gently, he removed it from Sakuma’s cradle and carefully lifted it out of the car. Sakuma followed after him and the door was shut gently behind him.
“Now that your curiosity has been fed, I sincerely hope you stay away from the car. The fur will be a mess to clean up.” The spy patted the top of the box softly and walked back through the double doors.
Making sure that his silhouette disappeared into the building, Sakuma looked left and right, confirming there were no bystanders before climbing back through the window. As he walked past Yuuki, who was behind his desk, he shifted and grabbed his suit from the clothes hanger. When he finished slipping into it, he reached for the doorknob, intending to leave, but paused. Asking couldn’t hurt, right?
He turned back around to see that Yuuki had looked up from his work – was he ever not working? – and was now focused on Sakuma. He swallowed, unsure whether or not to ask before deciding that he may as well go for it.
“I went out with Odagiri today,” he said.
Yuuki nodded. Continue.
“He had a box with him.” Sakuma paused. “I tried to find out its contents.”
“Did you succeed?” Yuuki placed his pen down by a neat stack of papers and folded his hands in front of himself.
Sakuma looked down. “…No.” This was a stupid idea: the box probably contained something confidential. What was the point in telling him that he failed at being the one thing he could never be?
“You know nothing.”
Sakuma’s head jerked up. Excuse me?! He was about to protest, but was stopped short by Yuuki’s yellow eyes. He took a sharp breath; no wonder he was called the Demon King.
“You want to know.”
He swallowed. “Yes.”
Yuuki nodded. “Okay.” He then picked up his pen again.
“Your lessons begin tomorrow.”