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Waif and Stray - 1. The Rescue

Thanks for reading! This is set in a contemporary but alternate universe, mainly so the religion used can be made up (and y'know, neko can exist). Anyone under 25 is considered a minor, and corporal punishment is commonplace.

This is a slow burn - the setup of the main characters' safe space and caretakers are established first. Hope you enjoy!

Charlotte juggled the bundle of blankets as she fumbled for her house key, the thick snow and numb fingers making it enough of an operation without having to keep her cargo balanced on her hip. At last succeeding, she shut the winter storm outside behind her and allowed herself to breathe properly for the first time since the argument with her oldest brother. She knew he meant well, but at nearly 21 and living in her own home quite frankly it was up to her if she took this little guy home, and well within her capabilities to care for two neko at once. Wasn't that why she'd been there in the first place?

Sighing, Char dropped her bag and, looking back up, was greeted by the large, light blue-grey eyes of the biggest obstacle remaining in the way of operation save-the-cute-neko-boy. Her nemesis regarded her through the railings of the bannister, where her bedroom was snuggled into the loft of the small cottage. Two raven coloured ears atop the catgirl's head fixed her like satellite dishes, fine black shoulder length hair framing an angular, alabaster face, flawless but for a smattering of freckles across the bridge of a slightly upturned button nose. The neko was nude, objecting fairly violently to the restrictive feel of clothing like most of her race - it interfered with the pheromone communication they relied on too. She was currently watching emotionlessly, but given how good the average felis sapiens nose was, Char didn't doubt for a moment she knew exactly what had just been brought into her territory.

"Hey Jinx, you OK? Wanna come help me with this little fella? Trust me, he's having a worse day than you."

Their eyes locked for a long moment. Char was honestly sweating, and not just because she was still wearing her heavy winter coat; if Jinx didn't take to the idea of a new pack member, this would be next to impossible. Charlotte actually felt pretty guilty for springing it on the immature catgirl, but this hadn't really been planned. Jinx slowly drew herself gracefully up to her full four-and-a-half feet (the tallest she would probably get) and imperiously announced her decree.

"Bath."

It wasn't really open to interpretation, nor to debate. The blanket bundle absolutely stank to Char's nose, and must have been horrific to poor Jinx's rarified senses; she'd found the catboy in the lowest of three tiers of cages, the victim of his vertical neighbours' wastes dropping down onto him with little room to avoid it. That wasn't the worst of what the kitten had endured by a long shot though, and she wanted Jinx prepared a bit better before seeing the plight of the youngster.

"Come down here then sweetness. Your uncle Mikey took me along to help him stop some bad men who were treating neko badly."

Michael was a police sergeant, and currently worked on bringing down illegal kitten farms; Charlotte was studying Neko Psychology and History and had convinced him to take her with him. This hadn't been her first ride along, but it was by far the worst.

Jinx had started to pad gracefully down the stairs, but froze at the mention of bad men. She was a rescue kitten herself, and had her own memories she had spent years trying to forget. Her brow furrowed, worried at where this was going.

"They hit him, Jinx, very badly. He's gonna be really scared til he works out he's safe."

Glassy pale eyes went wide, slitted pupils thin in the well-lit hallway. "Spanked bad?" she whispered, her hands unconsciously drifting to protect her bottom against the imagined punishment.

Char shook her head. "Much worse. Help me get him ready for the bath and you'll see."

Concern and curiosity about the bundle flooded Jinx's mind. Her nose gave her more information than was available to the human, though it didn't actually occur to share it - Char always knew best. Fear and anxiety seemed to radiate from the blankets, as well as a healthy dose of confusion, and whatever the catboy had been eating was definitely not good for him. She followed into the bathroom, where Char gently deposited her charge in the empty bath, deciding the shower head was the best way to tackle the problem at hand. The coverings were gently withdrawn, and Jinx got her first clear look at the contents.

The naked creature was emaciatedly thin, unhealthily so even for a neko. A matted mess of hair that looked a filthy blond sat atop a lightly olive shaded face, set in which were the kit's most striking features - large, mismatched eyes, one so dark brown it seemed black, the other a piercing emerald. In a neko of around 4, the approximate equivalent of a mid-teenage human, they looked even larger than in Jinx herself who had a few years on the kitten. He shared the high cheekbones and sharp little pointed chin common in his race, but exaggerated by his general malnutrition, giving an almost elfin cast to his delicate features. He was currently trying to stabilise himself on the slippery enamel of the bathtub, which involved leaning forward and giving those present a view they would be hard pressed to forget.

Jinx gasped audibly when she saw the adorable little kitten's back. A latticework of yellow and blue bruising criss-crossed the skin, stretching from the catboy's shoulders down to the backs of it's knees. It obviously wasn't fresh - a week old at least - but must have been a thunderous beating. She turned to Char, anger flashing impotently in her eyes.

"Why?" she whispered through gritted teeth.

Charlotte just shook her head sadly. She couldn't bring herself to tell the girl the whole story, how she'd seen the trestle the breeders had strapped neko down flat upon, seen the varnish on the wooden table blistered and rotting from the sheer number of little bladders spilled mid-thrashing, and known the pain a kit that age would have felt just from their as-yet still curved young spines being pulled to get them in a lying position. The horrible truth of it was that this kitten had probably done nothing more than be a runt, worth so little it was more use as an example to keep the more valuable neko in line.

"I don't know sweetheart. I don't think he could have done much, he was kept in a cage. Don't be upset," she wiped a tear from the young catgirl's face. "We're going to look after him here, and he'll never need to be that scared again."

Jinx closed her eyes briefly and gave a vehement little nod, fists balled at her sides. The kit, for his part, watched everything with the same look of startled curiosity, his delicate mouth in an almost perfect 'o' of surprise. How much he was actually taking in was limited - even what he did understand was lost in a flood of new smells and sensations. Everything the two females did brought more questions, and the only thing he felt he could truly trust was the smell of the other neko. She was, in general, happy and content. This overwhelming truth, that such a thing was possible, was the reason for his continued placidity. For the first time in his short life, the kitten who like all the others where he came from answered only to the name of 'boy' felt hope.

~☆~

Char had to admit, the little guy had some grit. She had expected bathing him to be far more arduous than it had turned out to actually be; between Jinx trying to show off to hold the kit's attention and his finding the warm shower a rather pleasant sensation, dirt began streaming off the small body in rivers, resulting in a surprise for Char. She had underestimated just how caked in filth the neko's hair had been. Far from a dirty blond, three full washes with no-tears shampoo revealed a glorious pristine white, a shade shared by his little triangular ears. Char was genuinely shocked - white haired neko were rare, rare enough to be expensive. Even a runt, which this obviously was, should be worth too much to be treated so badly. It was vaguely concerning, given it could mean he had another potentially expensive health issue of some kind that hadn't gone in his favour, but Char put it out of her mind for now. There weren't even any major objections when she gently washed clean his poor back, bottom and thighs, just a few barely audible gasps.

Once Jinx had helped her gently towel the critter off, Char carried his naked form into the living room and set him down on a huge faux sheepskin rug. Delight lit up his face as he pressed himself into it, the sensation of something so soft and fluffy against his skin utterly beyond his realm of experience. Jinx giggled at the antics, a silvery peal of laughter that was just one of the reasons Charlotte loved the naughty neko girl so much. Good, she was in a reasonable mood. Still, this would have to be played just right...

"So, if we're going to be looking after our new little friend here, I'm going to need a lot of help from you Jinx."

The neko nodded agreement firmly, as if to assure the human that she could be counted on, then frowned. "Name?"

"I don't think he has one yet."

The frown deepened. In Jinx's (admittedly limited) experience, everyone had a name. She squatted down near the kit, gracefully as ever. Never having seen another neko even so much as able to stand before, let alone move as this ethereal creature did, the catboy looked on in quiet awe. "What you called?" Jinx squinted at him. He replied a single whispered word that Char couldn't quite catch, but she saw Jinx tearing up immediately.

"Well?"

Jinx looked up with watering eyes and a trembling lip. "Said..." she paused and took a deep breath. "Said boy."

"Well that won't do, will it? Everyone needs their own name. Maybe you should have a think about a good one for him?"

Jinx's eyes widened as she absorbed the terrible responsibility she now held, and nodded.

"Think."

"So," Char continued, "I'll need your help to teach him everything he needs to be happy."

The catgirl's chest puffed up, almost ready to burst with pride at being trusted with such an important job.

"It won't all be fun mind. Lots will, but you'll have to help with the embarrassing and mucky bits too. Can you do that?"

Jinx was too immature by far to see the trap she was leaping headlong into, and again nodded emphatically. Char took a deep breath. There was a way to encourage a pack bond from the cub to Jinx, similar to the one that the catgirl's nascent maternal instincts were already creating toward the kit. She just wasn't going to like it.

"Then I need you to show him something for me."

A more suspicious nod from Jinx.

"Like a big girl."

Jinx's entire demeanour shifted to absolute indignation. How very dare she?! That particular instruction hadn't been uttered to her in over two years - at least half of eternity ago in the neko's mind. To suggest she needed to be told any more... and right now! In front of the new kit and Char! She was developing some very definite ideas of what was Dignified recently, and this request was the furthest thing from Dignified she could think of.

Seeing the horror in the catgirl's face, Charlotte went for damage control. "How else is he supposed to learn? He has to see."

Jinx glared coldly, then glanced at the kit, who was currently discovering all there was to know about the feel of fluff against bare skin. She sighed. It did sort of make sense. Pausing only to shoot a look that could curdle milk at Charlotte, the pretty female neko stood and slinked toward the litter tray in the corner of the room. Keeping her back religiously to the other occupants of the room, she sniffed, blushed a deep crimson, and squatted.

Charlotte did actually have a good reason for the request. Neko added pheromones to their scat - a complex scent message that conveyed information to pack members. For a kit as young as the boy, the urge to bond with an older female as a pack member should be overwhelming, especially since he was currently without a pack in his mind. As expected, almost the moment Jinx's droppings left her body, the catboy's head snapped toward her. Knowlege of Jinx, from her favourite food (fish), to how often she ate it (a lot). That she was healthy and content, despite sometimes being punished. A thousand nuggets of information (including a good few Jinx herself would rather not have shared, like how recently she had pleasured herself) spilled through the battered, tired psyche of the catboy. Almost overwhelmed, when the adolescent female stalked back to the sofa after wiping herself and cleaning her hands with a moist towelette, he followed, crawling up onto her lap when she sat down. Jinx was jolted out of her pout at having to 'perform' for all and sundry by the kitten's actions. She froze as the diminutive catboy, a full foot shorter than her and far skinnier, snuggled up close and gently began to cry, head pressed against her chest. Shocked, she looked at Char, who had crept over and knelt down next to the neko, lowering a blanket over them.

"Hug tight Jinx. That's probably the first cuddle he's ever had."

This revelation was simply too much for the pale catgirl. She sobbed, holding the kitten close and swearing to herself that she'd make up for it with hugs every day. By the time Char was back from emptying the litter tray and pouring a well deserved glass of wine, the neko were fast asleep in each others' arms.

Copyright © 2022 AlreadyForgiven; All Rights Reserved.
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Great first chapter. The boy having been so traumatized is difficult, but gives us a basis for the future behavior.

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8 hours ago, VBlew said:

Great first chapter. The boy having been so traumatized is difficult, but gives us a basis for the future behavior.

The little guy has been through a lot, I'll admit. Thanks for reading!

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