Second Chance Sanctuary
The ride home was quiet. Jung said nothing to either one although he did seem to be curious about the hybrid that was riding with her. He was just a driver however; and quiet. >>> doubted anything would come of that. She was going to tell her mother, she was, she just needed some time to figure out how this was all going to go.
The cleaning service had been by while she was gone, and >>> wondered how it would sound convincing enough to have her mother tell her step-father that she needed to learn to fend for herself. Cooking, cleaning, she always did these things on her own and truth be told you couldn’t just get used to someone cleaning up behind you and cooking for you.
Instead, once they got inside and to her room, making room in an extra dresser for all of Suho’s new clothes, she turned to him smiling. “You know, you help me a lot with school. So much so that if I want tomorrow I can sign up to take my finals.”
Suho was still grunting at her over the interaction with the strange feline and merely looked her way before grabbing the bait. “Meaning?”
“Meaning. If I take them early and pass, I can be out of school until graduation. I can stay all the time with you.” She smiled at him, hoping to push the gloominess of his attitude away now.
“Shouldn’t you be at school?” Still not looking at her as he folded his jeans. “Be with your friends and socialize?”
>>> stood up taking the jeans from him. She placed her hand on top of his, forcing Suho to look at her. She knew what was going on, he was feeling left out. He felt like he could be replaced. “Suho, I have some friends but you are my best friend. I would rather spend all my free time, with you.”
He cut his eyes away from her. “Until someone else comes along anyway…” Standing up he went to her door rubbing his stomach. “Let’s eat now.”
>>> rolled her eyes. “Suho, I”m serious. Do you think it’s a good idea? We can get a jump start on all of our summer activities; don’t act like you aren’t excited.”
He was excited, thrilled in fact. He wanted to go to the beach, the library, eat more ice cream, watch movies like they did on the weekends. Grinning, he reached out for her and took her hand in his making his way down the stairs. “I hope you do well, I will help you study.”
That night the anxiety kicked in from Xiumin dissipated and Suho was able to enjoy his night. Food was left in the fridge and as they finished a meal watching Running Man he wondered just what was going through her mind when she said she had an idea. He had planned on being the hybrid in her life, but as easily as she helped others, as easily as they seemed to gravitate towards her made him think.
In bed that night, his back was against hers. He felt her breathing finally even out, the slow expansion of her lungs and the way she moved her foot to curl around his. They had done this ever since he was big enough, her legs wrapped with his own. He had always thought it was a way to know he was still here, the comfort of it. As time had grown on it started to mean so much more to him. Turning over, Suho watched her face. The pink bonnet on her head was near her eyebrows in an almost comical way. The way her mouth was slightly ajar, some nights he imagined himself kissing her lips and wondered if she would wake up.
Laying his head down on the pillow once again, he wrapped an arm around her waist, his nose touching her neck he breathed in her scent. That deep cocoa butter smell of her skin. He’d give anything to hold onto this, to always have this moment. Closing his eyes he fell asleep, wondering about tomorrow.
The next day was the same as always, he awoke before her, setting out her school clothes and heating up rice and meat. He believed meat was a good way to start any day. Waking her up, he pushed her into the bathroom to get ready while he made the bed. They ate downstairs together, and he saw her off to school. He had the house to himself while she was gone, and he mostly spent it reading about hybrids online, or watching television.
>>> said she was going to start letting him go out on his own. To explore and become familiar about where they lived. He was excited about the prospect but not about that fact that he had no money. He wondered if he could find work somewhere, even if it was while >>> was gone.
It wasn’t long before she finally came home, his internal clock just knew when she was coming. His tail wagging of it’s own accord when he heard her coming up the stone stairs to the house. His arms and legs twitching when she finally opened the door and he fairly pranced around her. Asking about her day, and what she did and how she was feeling, and if she was hungry.
“Calm down Suho.” Laughing as she placed her hands on his shoulders. “Did you miss me that much?”
He did of course, and realized what he looked like, holding her school bag, tail slapping the wall behind him.
“He loves you Princess what can you expect?” An unexpected voice said, causing them both to turn around.
“You again!” Suho cried, rushing over to where Xiumin stood eating an apple. “How did you get in here?!”
Shrugging, Xiumin took another bite of apple. “The back door was locked, so I came in through the window.”
>>> tried to think of what he could mean. “The window in my room? That’s on the second floor, there’s nothing to really climb up to it.”
“There’s a pipe, and I’m a cat. Easy. You said you’d feed me, I’m here to make good on that.” He wiped his cloak down that he was still wearing. “And to ask a favor, if you can help anyway. Nice place, your parents are loaded?”
Suho barked. “Hey! This is our house! You can’t just break in and expect to be treated like a guest! No we won’t help you! >>> tell him!” Suho turned around, expecting her to be as angry as he was.
Arms crossed over her chest, >>> sighed. “Suho is right Xiumin, don’t ever do that again. You could have come to the front door. If neither of us was here, there are maids and they would have called the police.”
Suho stared at him, smiling that she took his side, giving a satisfied nod to Xiumin.
“However,” She started. “I did say that I would give you a meal. Now what’s this favor?”
Xiumin smiled at Suho, who stood there mouth hanging open. >>> gently pushed at his jaw to close it.
“If I could shower that would be nice, then a warm meal and finally…if you want to, I know someone you can help.” Xiumin began to take off his cloak, under it he wore a pair of shorts and a crop top shirt that said bad kitty on it.
“Shouldn’t we know about the person first?” >> asked, walking over to Xiumin and taking his hand.
“No, by the time we’re done he’ll go back to where I know he will always be. Right now, I have no clue where he is.” His long soft gray tail brushed against her back. “Now tell me about you, I want to know everything about my new mistress.”
“Wait, wait!” Suho ran past them, standing in the middle of the stairs. “Mistress? We aren’t going to let him stay here right? He’s not sleeping here?”
“Suho…be nice.” She put her arm around Suho’s waist making him walk up the stairs as well. “Can Xiumin borrow a shirt and some shorts from you? Please?”
Suho’s hands covered his face. “This can’t be happening.”
While Xiumin was showering, >>> and Suho were in the kitchen heating up dinner. He was quiet the air around him hot and thick. She wanted to say something, anything but really she had no objections to Xiumin staying here. She had no objections to helping whoever else this was coming. Why did Suho?
“Say something please.” She said, setting out forks on the table.
Suho grunted. “Why? It’s not like you’ll listen to me anyway.”
Placing a cup down a little too hard, >>> turned to look at his back as he spooned kimchi into a bigger bowl. “Suho, stop. Why are you so jealous? This is our house yes but come on, it’s just us. A few more guests won’t bother anyone.”
“I’ll be here with them while you’re at school. They will be here when you come home and we normally play games and watch TV, or I help you with schoolwork. They will be present when we do things together.” Bringing the bowl over to the table he nearly slammed it down looking at her. “Do you understand? It’s always been us, I like it just us.”
She understood. He didn’t like change and he didn’t want to feel like someone else was coming in on their time. She got it. Taking his hand she placed it on her cheek, aware that his tail was wagging gently now.
“Suho…it will always be us. I won’t forget you is that what you think? I’ll always make time for you, I will be there when you need me, but this..I think this is a good thing that we’re doing. This is something I want to look into doing.”
He cupped his fingers under her chin. “Taking in strays?”
“Helping hybrids. Do you think I’ll stop loving you or something? Tell you to leave?”
That was a fear in his heart, one that he didn’t want voiced. He was scared that she would forget about him. “No.”
“Good because I love you.” She reached up, scratching right behind his ear, he loved that.
Leaning into her touch, Suho wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in for a hug. Her fingers digging into the fabric of his sweater, he relished her touch. “I love you too.”
“This is so touching.” Xiumin interrupted, his hands clasped in front of him before he pretended to wipe away a tear.
“Cat.” Suho growled, pulling out >>> chair.
“Dog.” Xiumin answered. “Let’s just put our grievances aside. My name is Xiumin, and I would like to be your friend.” The feline hybrid held out his hand.
It took >>> clearing her throat before Suho answered. “I’m Suho, and yes we can learn to be civil.” He shook Xiumin’s hand before sitting down.
>>> smiled looking back and forth between them. “Now that that is over! Xiumin tell me everything about you.”
He explained to her that he was given as a companion to an elderly woman with way less time on her hands than money. When he was a kitten he’d sit in her lap and she’d stroke his head and feed him sweet treats. Apparently she understood that he was human, but treated him much more like a cat. He wore a collar, ate from a silver bowl, with a fork as he got older.
He lived a pretty good life, and then as he got older he noticed her niece always came back. A young woman with a bright smile who seemed nice enough. She would give him small things to eat, and tell him how handsome he was. Then one day as she was handing him a rice cake, she snatched it back and told him he had to kiss her to get it.
Thinking nothing of it, he did. That’s when it started. She would kiss his cheek, and hug him for awhile, then she would kiss his lips. He didn’t mind, he knew he was a “pretty kitty” and thought she was affectionate. When she closed him a room, and demanded he strip however, that’s when he showed his claws.
He was shut away in a room, only allowed out for a few hours and threatened to be neutered. Then one day the door opened up earlier than usual, but it wasn’t the old woman. It was her niece…she asked him to come out and that he was going to behave because he was going home with her now. The old woman was dead.
He knew what she had in store for him, so when he was walked outside with his belongings, he took the only bag in his hand and ran off. He kept running until he was out of breath, and his legs were tired.
“I’m so sorry.” >>> replied as he finished his story, his cake sitting in front of him now.
Xiumin pushed a cherry around on the top of the cheesecake. “You didn’t do anything, but I’m grateful for your kindness…without any strings attached.”
He looked up at her, his narrow eyes staring at her face, he flashed her a bright smile showing off his canines.
“What about your friend?” >>> asked, standing up to clear her plate and Suho’s.
“He should be there by now and we can go see him. He was a “pet” too.” >>> shook her head. He wasn’t a human, they weren’t humans true but did no one see the wrong in this? He was a sentient, living being. They couldn’t be treated like this!
“A pet? What is it with people?” She dried her hands as Suho came into the kitchen carrying three light jackets with him.
“Some people it seems.” Xiumin answered. “I’m trying not to hold a grudge, besides you don’t seem bad.” He winked at her, making >>> grin.
As the trio walked into the city, neither male said anything, Xiumin had taken the lead, with her and Suho right behind as he lead them down busy streets until they came to a warehouse district near the Han river. It had taken them awhile to get here, and her legs were sore, but Xiumin walked over to a metal shipping crate tapping on the door.
It opened quickly, letting loose a loud creaking noise as a slender oval face appeared in the crack. “Oh Xiumin-hyung! Did you bring me a present?” He opened the door wider, eyes scanning over the two with him. “You brought me more friends?”
The feline male came from the shipping crate, his clothes were still in very good condition, he bowed and smiled shaking everyone’s hand as he introduced himself. “My name is Lay, how are you? Welcome to my new home.”
Xiumin showed them inside, and >>> looked around to see he wasn’t living in such bad conditions. A stack of water on one side, there had been battery operated lights strung up in the carrier along the walls. A small bean bag was used as a bed it seemed, a pillow and a blanket folded neatly on top of each other.
“Lay.” >>> asked. “Is this where you live?”
He smiled, his dimples deep in his cheeks. “Oh yes, I live here now, make yourself at home.”
He busied himself grabbing some water bottles for them, his long black tail swaying back and forth. Handing one to Xiumin and Suho, Lay stopped in front of >>> handing her the last one.
“You are very pretty, Xiumin was right, and he said you were nice. Nicer than my last owner. Does this mean you’ll take me in now?” He moved his hair from his eyes, his expression so innocent.
>>> smiled. “I can’t let you stay here now can I? What happened? Why are you in here alone?”
The look on his face went from one of happiness and contentment to sorrow and pain. He hugged himself, his well made sweater moving up and down his arms. He nibbled his lip, seeming as though he didn’t know what to say.
“It’s ok Lay, we can trust her, we can trust them.” Xiumin told him.
Looking up at >>> Lay grinned, trying to will the tears from his eyes. He opened his mouth and his voice cracked, looking back towards Xiumin who urged him on, Lay wiped his eyes and answered her.
“I wasn’t a very good present anymore.”
Ok so that’s chapter three of Second Hand Sanctuary. I hope you guys liked it…it’s sad I know but the good stuff is also coming!