Chapter 7 – Backstories Aside
I finished opening the can and set it down on the floor beside the kitchen table. “It’s about time,” Demetri grumbled as he buried his face in the tuna.
I looked over at Yuki with concern. He was eyeing me and the cat suspiciously. “So he really talks?”
“Yup,” I admitted. I held out my hand to help him up. He eyed it cautiously before taking it. “I’m still the same Jordan you know and love. I just happen to have a talking cat now.”
Yuki stood up slowly and pulled me to stand behind him. “Are you sure he’s safe?”
“Why are you getting all protective now that I have fed him? Shouldn’t you have done this prior to sitting on the floor in shock?”
He turned his head and glared at me. “I’m sorry that my first reaction upon regaining my senses is to make sure you’re safe. You know, some women would think that’s chivalrous.”
“Let them be impressed,” I shrugged, pulling myself free of his grip and stepping around him. “He’s just a cat. A cranky, tuna-demanding, talking cat.”
Demetri sat back and pinned me with a look as he used his paw to clean the last of the tuna juice off his face. “I am not just a cat. I was sent here to find you and bring you back to Japan with me. You are just choosing not to cooperate.” The cat slid his attention to Yuki. “You, human! You seem mildly familiar, have we met before?”
Yuki looked from me to Demetri. “That depends, did you talk when we met before? If we did, then it wasn’t me. If you only made cat noises, we might have met before.” Yuki seemed to be relaxing and moved closer. “Why is it so important she goes to Japan?”
“She has a destiny to fulfill. We have a plan for her,” the small furball declared.
“I don’t buy into the whole destiny crap,” I said flatly.
Yuki looked back at me in shock and amusement. “Maybe you are some long-lost moon princess sent here to save the world in a time of crisis,” he mused.
“I doubt that. It’s probably something lame, like I have the power to pick out the best can of tuna from the shelves and talking cats everywhere want to make me their goddess,” I joked.
Yuki laughed. “You spin around and point at cans at the market saying things like, ‘Blue label select, I choose you!’ or sneak up behind displays and tackle them to the ground…” His laughter was infectious and we were both overtaken with a fit of giggles.
Demetri sat and stared at us disapprovingly. “If you two are done?”
“Wait!” I yelped, throwing up a hand. “They need me to pilot a giant robot against attacking space pirates.” Further laughter ensued.
Demetri cleared his throat. “What if I told you the stories about moon princesses, giant robots, space pirates, and magical cards were all true?”
“I would say bullshit,” I answered with a nod.
“Up until very recently, neither of you believed in talking cats, but here we are,” Demetri argued.
Both of our laughter trailed off as we exchanged glances. Talking cats were impossible…. as impossible as magic, demons, and space aliens. But there he was, right in front of us, making snide comments and lashing his tail.
As the shift in my reality sobered me up, I asked the big question. “Why me? Why specifically me? I don’t want some non-committal, detail-lacking answer. Destiny and fate are BS. If you need me that bad, there is something specific about me that makes me the girl you are looking for.”
“We believe you have the ability to see things that exist around us that most people can’t see. What’s more, we’re pretty sure you can interact with, create, and destroy those unseen things. This gift makes you special.” Demetri hopped up on the table.
“Who is we?” asked Yuki.
Demetri huffed. “I work for an organization that oversees the gates between existences.”
“So why do you need me to go to Japan? Can’t I just fight here?”
“You know how Japan is an island?” the cat asked. We both nodded. “Think of it more like a lid. It’s out there in the water serving as a lock, or a lid, on a bunch of different gates. We had no clue humans were going to settle on it and build a civilization.”
Yuki looked at me. “Great, you know what this means?” I shook my head. “Space cats!” We both burst out laughing again.
His angry hiss snapped us back to reality. “Sorry,” we mumbled in unison.
“What’s the story with you two?” Demetri finally asked.
“What do you mean?”
“He means we seem really close and he wants to know why,” Yuki explained.
“Oh, the parent trap question?” I clarified and Yuki gave a nod. “Should I handle this?”
“He’s your cat…”
I took a deep breath before I began. “My father is a chef, and after he had completed the first half of his training in France, he went back to Japan. He worked as a Sous chef in a small western-style restaurant in Tokyo. My mom was an English teacher in Japan at the time. She was supposed to be on a date, but the guy stood her up. Everybody at the restaurant was too afraid to talk to her since she was a foreigner, so a member of the wait staff went and got my dad from the kitchen, knowing that at the very least his French was pretty good.”
Yuki pulled out a kitchen chair and motioned for me to take a seat before he, himself sat down. “I love your parents’ story,” he said with a gleam in his eye.
“Anyway, Dad went out to talk to her and found out she was stood up. He needed her to leave so they could free up the table, or to order something to eat. He felt pretty bad about what had happened, and being a nice guy told her she should order something and he would pay for it. When she didn’t know what to order, he asked what she wanted and she said ‘grilled cheese and tomato soup’, which he made special for her. After that, they would get together once a week under the guise of helping my father with his English so he could train more in North America. Eventually, my mom was moving back, and my dad decided to go with her, and they got married.”
“Ok… but how does this explain you and pointy-hair, pretty boy?” Demetri prompted.
“Aww, he thinks I’m pretty,” Yuki cooed.
“My dad was able to get a job at a fusion restaurant in Hartford. When we moved into the suburbs, there were only two other Japanese families in town. One was an older couple whose kids had already grown up, and the other family was the Takahashi family, who had twin boys a year older than me. My mom didn’t have problems making friends, but my Dad worked really long hours and still hadn’t mastered English, so he welcomed having a set of friends his age that spoke his native language. Since they were my parents’ friends, it only made sense that Yuki, Itsuo, Nate, and I would all grow up together as friends too.”
“Wait, so you’re a twin?” asked Demetri, turning his attention to Yuki. “There are two of you?”
My heart beat heavily at the cat’s question, but Yuki took over. “There were two of us until eight years ago. Jordan and my brother were in an accident with a drunk driver. Jordan survived but Itsuo didn’t. When we were growing up, Itsuo and Jordan were much closer than she and I were. My brother and I were really close, but we weren’t much alike. Itsuo was more outgoing, and believe it or not, I was pretty quiet.”
Yuki’s voice cracked and I reached over and took his hand without a second thought. “When Itsuo died Yuki and I became closer because it felt like each of us was missing our other half. We tried dating, and it didn’t exactly go so well. He drove off with my purse and left me stranded in California.”
“After she got drunk and made out with a couple different people, then refused to apologize for it,” Yuki added.
“I can’t apologize for something I don’t remember,” I bit back.
“Children, focus!” snapped the cat. “Anyway, I think I get the picture. You’re still friends but at times it is a little… strained?”
“Exactly!” I was quick to agree.
Demetri gave us a look that felt a little judgy but said nothing else on the subject. “Yuki here thinks you going to Japan is a good idea. You trust him, so why not go?”
Yuki cut in. “Actually, I thought it was a good idea until I heard about the giant robots, space pirates, and monsters.”
“I never mentioned monsters,” Demetri retaliated.
“Are there monsters?”
“Of course there are…”
“Yeah, I’m leaning more towards no now that I have all the details,” Yuki said firmly.
“Look, I’ve gone to great lengths to bring her back to Japan with me on good terms. She can go willingly, or the next guardian who comes won’t be as nice,” the cat said. “Just agree to it and pack up. This way you get to do a job you want to do.”
“Can I at least think about it?” I finally asked.
“I have to give a status report by Friday. You can have until then. After that, it will be out of my paws.”
Yuki and I exchanged glances. “Would you run away with a talking cat?” I asked.
“Is that an invitation?”