Feli took a deep breath through her nose, stretched and yawned. Opening her eyes slowly she watched the sun crawl just over the horizon and touch the bed with her first rays of light.
She smiled softly, it really was a good idea to set up the sleeping area in the corner where the sun came up, and now that they were done moving she felt like they could fully enjoy their new home. She heard Mami stir first, then Avia started to wake up followed by Guy who woke up from all the movement against and on top of him. She chuckled at the way he must feel under all the weight of his harem, but he never had any complaint about it. He even once said he wouldn't have it any other way anymore.
Guy smiled at her and she realised she had been staring at him. She chuckled and gave him a big kiss.
'And good morning to you too.' Guy said after she pulled back.
'Me too!' said Cani and kissed him long.
He chuckled after she pulled back. 'I love waking up like this.' he said and kissed Ara, Avia and Mami before they all snuggled up close again and watched the sunrise. 'I think I never want to leave this bed again.'
'Even if we all left?' asked Ara, grinning deviously.
'Hmm..' said Guy. 'Since I can't be without you for long, I don't have much of a choice.'
'Thought so.' Ara said.
Guy nodded. 'I'll just have to tie you up or cuff you to the bed.'
It didn't take long for the girls to pummel the laughing Guy into submission by pillow.
As punishment Guy had to thoroughly wash each girl's fur in the wide bath, although they knew he didn't mind at all. The day was warm and they took advantage of it to eat breakfast on the private roof and dry in the sun while sitting on the grass.
'Are you going to write today again?' asked Avia of Guy while she gave him a fresh piece of bread with jam.
'Yes.' he said and caressed her wing as he took the bread. 'I want to finish the short thriller and send it to the guys at Midnight Meeting for publication on their grid before we visit the capital in a few days. What are you all going to do in the meantime?'
'I'm telling the kids at the kindergarten popular stories from my country.' said Avia. 'And then we're going to make drawings based on those.' She smiled softly. 'Mrs. Ghazo thought of that when I asked if I could tell her those stories. She asked me to be a model for the kids to draw.'
'Nice.' said Ara, taking another slice of juicy beef. 'I'm still busy weaving the nets for the local vegetable gardens to protect their fruit from birds, should be ready before we leave.'
Cani turned to lay on her back with her head on Guy's lap. 'I'm going to read the book I found recently about a famous and fierce feline warrior and a human military medic who each survived a crash of their ships during battle around a strange planet.' she said and smiled when Guy stroked her cheek. 'She tries to kill him and gets wounded, but he helps and treats her instead and a romance builds up over time while they try to survive together. And that's just the beginning.'
'Sounds like a popular book.' Guy said. 'Maybe I'll read it too after you're done.' He looked at Feli and Mami. 'Your plans?'
'I'm going to the stores today.' said Feli and stretched to chase away the last sleep out of her body, smiling softly at the sight of Guy appreciating her curves. 'Buy a few things to put on the shelves in my corner. And there's a little family business dad asked me to look at.'
'I'll be catching up on a little history after my shift at the park today.' said Mami, picking a few berries. 'Grandma sent me some books on the family which I'd better read before we visit there.'
Guy nodded. 'You should tell us what we need to know too.' he said. 'Before we do something silly.'
Mami grinned. 'Oh, I'm sure that'll still happen.' she said. 'Especially with a certain someone who quickly thinks things are cute.'
'Hey.' said Cani and grinned. 'It's your fault. You keep Mouse in her own chair and I've seen you hug her often when you sit behind your own desk. Anyone finds that cute.'
Mami pouted and looked away. 'You're just seeing things. I'm only taking care of her because Guy neglected her for so long.'
Guy chuckled. 'I'm just glad she found such a good friend.' he said and poked Cani's nose. 'So no teasing.'
Cani playfully bit at his finger. 'It's true though.' she said and chuckled.
Avia and Guy were cleaning up the kitchen when Feli kissed him before she went out. 'See you later, darling.' she said.
'Later, pussycat.' he said. 'Hope you'll find what you look for.'
She nodded. 'I think I will, had a look at the store during the festival.' she said and gave Avia a wave. 'See you later, Avia.'
Avia gave her a nod while she dried a plate. 'Later, Feli.'
Feli took the stairs down, watching the backs of the other buildings through the vertical windows. At the ground floor she greeted two men working at one of the offices while she went out the front door. She chuckled as she wondered if the people working here thought they'd suddenly started working near a zoo.
The store she wanted to visit was around the corner of the street and she had a look at the window full of toys before she stepped inside. The section that had caught her attention during the festival was the corner full of plush animals and dolls. There were all sorts and sizes, from hand sized white and grey kittens to a big purple and blue dragon.
Feli grinned a little at the sight, unable to keep her glee and swishing tail completely in check. She wanted to hug each and every one of them.
'Oh, hey, welcome.' said a voice behind her and she turned to see a familiar young woman.
'Ah.' Feli said. 'Aren't you..?'
The woman smiled. 'The one with the little girl who wanted to pet you at the park.' she chuckled. 'Yes, I'm afraid so.' she held out her hand. 'I'm Aada. My daughter is Sade.'
Feli shook her hand. 'She was cute.' she chuckled. 'She's at school now?'
Aada looked a little sad. 'No, she's upstairs.' she said and straightened a blonde doll in short jeans dress. 'She's going to have a minor operation to her stomach in a few days. Nothing serious, but she's nervous about it. And about spending some time in the hospital.'
'Oh.' said Feli. 'Sorry to hear that.'
Aada gave her a smile. 'She'll be fine.' she said. 'She has a big collection of plush toys that comfort her and I'm thinking of making a new one for her.'
'You made these too?' asked Feli, noticing none of the plushes and dolls had labels on them.
'Yes.' Aada said, stroking a giraffe's neck. 'I learned to make these when I was little from my grandmother, and later when I met my husband Lev, who just started this store, I made it my profession.'
Feli picked up one of the kittens. 'They're very good.' she said. 'I'm looking to get a few plushes for my own little corner of the apartment but it's so hard to choose.'
Aada chuckled. 'I know what you mean.' she said. 'Which is why it's hard to think of what plush to make for Sade since she can't choose either. When she saw all of you during the festival she kept talking about you and how she liked all of you. If she could she would have taken all of you home. She has drawn many pictures of you all.'
Feli smiled and stroked the kitten's nose. 'I can imagine.' she said. 'Guy says we're all plu-.' She paused, then looked at Aada. 'I have an idea.'
'What is it?' Mami asked Guy when she saw him frowning a little at the round clock hanging above the double door of the small hallway.
'I had expected Feli to be back by now.' he said.
'Maybe she's just held up by something she finds interesting.' said Mami. 'I can have a look since I wanted to get a few binders anyway.'
'Thanks.' he said and kissed her. 'Don't be gone long too.'
She poked his chest. 'No promises.' she said. 'Maybe there's something very interesting indeed.'
He chuckled, opened the door for her and bowed. 'Milady.'
'Milord.' she said with a curtsy and went out.
The book store she went to was next to the toy store and one look inside was enough to see Feli acting excited with the woman inside at a table at the back. She walked in and they both looked back at her.
'Mami!' Feli said. 'Perfect!'
'You've been here all this time?' Mami asked.
Feli looked at the clock in the store. 'Oh!' she said. 'It's this late already.'
Mami walked up to the table to see different fabric samples, several plush toys and several drawings lying on it. She had an idea what it was about when she looked closer at the drawings. 'Are these..?' she asked Feli.
Feli nodded. 'Wait till you hear what we have in mind.' she said with a big smile.
Mami smiled as she walked out of the toy store later with some fun news to tell the rest. She walked back along the wide foot paths at the back of the buildings when she heard a boy calling out.
She went around a corner when a young boy almost ran into her. 'Careful!' Mami said.
The boy gave her a nod. 'Gomen!' he said. 'But have you seen my dog?' He held up his hand to his stomach. 'He's this high and has light brown fur and a red collar and his name is Yeruslan.' The boy's dark blonde hair was a mess and his black shirt and blue pants had dirty smears all over.
'No.' Mami said and combed his hair with her fingers to fix it a little. 'You've been looking for him a long time?'
The boy nodded. 'He went missing yesterday.' he said. 'Mom and dad went looking with me but we couldn't find him. Dad said he'd probably show up on his own again since there had been no report of an accident with a dog.'
Mami nodded. 'That's at least a good sign.' she said. 'You've looked all over the neighbourhood?'
The boy pointed in the direction Mami was going. 'I haven't searched that side yet.'
Mami gave him a smile. 'I have some free time. How about I help you look?' she said. 'Then it'll be done quicker.'
The boy smiled wide. 'Arigatou!' he said.
'Let's go then.' she said and walked with him along the path. 'What's your name?'
He looked up at her. 'I'm Aeron.' he said. 'You're Mami, right?'
Mami nodded. 'You already know me, eh?'
'Everyone in school knows about you since the presentation.' he said.
'Oh, right!' Mami chuckled.
'Just wait until I tell the others you helped me look for Yeruslan.' he said, his face filled with pride.
Mami smiled, peeked in a side alley while they passed it and saw a brown dog at the end. 'Wait!' she said and took Aeron's shoulder. 'Is that him?'
Aeron peered at the dog just before it went up the street and he almost jumped for joy. 'Yes! That's him!'
He ran towards his dog followed by Mami. When they reached the street they saw Yeruslan sneaking closer to the fish shop.
'What's he doing?' said Mami, then saw Yeruslan sprint, jump up at the fish on display at the front of the store, grab a big one and ran off while mister Morrison, the shop owner, cursed.
'Yeruslan!' shouted Aeron and ran off.
Mami ran after him but stopped at the fish shop when she overheard mister Morrison shout about the dog stealing again from him. 'Excuse me,' she said. 'He stole before?'
Mister Morrison frowned. 'Yesterday he stole another big fish.' he said. 'You know that dog?'
'Sort of.' said Mami. 'I just met the boy whom the dog belongs too. He's been missing since yesterday.'
'Then he owes me two fish already.' mister Morrison said. 'You'd better catch him before he steals more.'
Mami nodded. 'We're going to try.' she said and ran off after Aeron who ran into another small alley. She caught up with him at an intersection with another small alley. 'You lost him?'
Aeron nodded. 'He was gone when I came here.' he said. 'Can you do something?'
'Maybe.' Mami said and examined each direction. The hard ground didn't leave any tracks to follow but to her relief there was a puddle of water further up one alley and she thought she saw wet paw prints behind it. 'Come, this way.' she said and hurried with Aeron towards the puddle.
The water came from a leaking faucet and had spread far enough on the ground to have caught the dog's paws as he ran across the puddle. 'That must have been him.' said Mami. 'The prints are fresh.'
Together they went further up the alley until they came upon a recessed door with a stack of cardboard with a crate on its side on top of it in front of the door. Yeruslan sat on one side of the recess and the fish laid in front of the crate. Inside the crate Mami and Aeron found a cat with three kittens lying on an old blanket.
Mami chuckled. 'So that's what's going on.'
'Yeruslan!' said Aeron, sitting down on his knees in front of the dog. 'You've been taking care of them?'
Yeruslan gave Aeron a lick on his face and wagged his tail.
'Well, mystery solved.' said Mami and took a few pictures with her mobile. 'He stole the fish so she wouldn't have to leave her kittens alone to find food.'
Aeron looked back at her. 'But what now?' he asked. 'Yeruslan can't stay here. But I don't want to leave them alone either.'
Mami watched the kittens suckle with their noses deep into their mother's fur. 'The alley is quiet, which is probably why she chose to have her kittens here.' Mami said. 'She needs a quiet place until her kittens are grown up more.' She held out her hand to the cat so she could smell it and smiled when the cat didn't perceive her as a threat. 'Let's go explain this to the shop owner first. Then we can think of what to do.'
Aeron nodded and they took Yeruslan with them to the fish shop where mister Morrison frowned as he saw them coming. 'So, you've caught the thief.' he said and crossed his arms while he looked down on Yeruslan.
Yeruslan held his head down and his ears flat.
'Gomen!' Aeron said. 'He won't steal your fish again.'
Mister Morrison hummed. 'And who's going to pay for the fish he stole?'
Aeron fumbled in his pocket and held out the change he had. 'I've got more in my allowance jar in my room.' he said. 'Yeruslan had a good reason to take the fish.'
Mami showed mister Morrison the pictures she had taken of the cat and kittens.
'Ah.' he said and nodded. 'So that's why.'
'Why what, honey?' asked misses Morrison coming out of the back of the shop.
He pointed at Mami's phone. 'That dog stole fish for a cat and her newborn kittens.' he said.
'Oh, let me see.' she said and Mami showed her the pictures.
'We want to find a better spot for her and maybe we can get her more food until the kittens are older.' Mami said. 'But we don't know where yet. Our roof garden would be nice but would be too dangerous for the kittens.'
Misses Morrison gushed over the kittens. 'They're adorable!' she said to her husband. 'Let's adopt them!' Mister Morrison raised his eyebrow. 'You know how I miss Sharky.' She turned to Mami. 'Sharky was our cat until he died a couple of months ago. I've been thinking about getting another cat again.'
Mami nodded and misses Morrison looked at her husband again. 'We can put the crate in the open shed at the back. They'll be safe there and we can feed them the fish leftovers.'
He sighed and looked at Aeron. 'Let's see what you got there.' he said and leaned closer while Aeron held up his money again. He took two coins. 'That's enough for the fish.' he said. 'We'll take care of the rest if you bring them here.'
His wife hugged him and gave him a kiss on his cheek.
Aeron's face brightened. 'Arigatou!' he said and hugged Yeruslan. 'The kittens and their mom will be okay.'
Yeruslan pricked up his ears and wagged his tail energetically.
'Arigatou.' said Mami to mister and misses Morrison. 'I'm happy to see them get a good home.'
'Go get them and we'll be at the back to clear a space for them.' he said with a little smile.
A little later Mami arrived with Aeron and the crate in her hands, walking carefully. She placed it in a corner of the shed and the cat sniffed around but stayed in the crate.
'Looks like she approves of this place.' Mami said.
'I hope they'll stay when they grow older.' said misses Morrison. 'It's nice to have a pet or two around the house.'
Mami and Aeron said goodbye to the Morrisons and went home.
'Well, I'm glad everything got resolved.' Mami said when they reached the office building. 'Go home quickly and clean yourself up. You're covered in dirt.'
Aeron grinned. 'I will.' he said. 'Can't wait to tell mom and dad.'
He waved back at Mami before rounding the corner at the foot path and Mami smiled as she went up the stairs with two good stories to tell now.
Aada put her daughter on the hospital bed where she'd get her operation. 'How are you feeling?' she asked, stroking Sade's hair.
'A little scared.' Sade said, fumbling with the front of her hospital gown.
Aada took Sade's hands in hers. 'It's normal to be a little scared.' she said. 'I am a little scared too, even when I know there can't go anything wrong with what the doctor is going to do to make you better.'
Sade nodded. 'I'll try to be brave.' she said.
Her mother smiled and hugged her tight. 'There are also a few friends who came to wish you well.' she said and sat back.
Sade looked at her. 'Who?'
Her mother nodded at the door and her eyes went wide when she saw Feli standing in the doorway.
'Hello Sade.' Feli said as she approached the bed and hugged her. 'I heard you're a big fan of us.' Sade smiled and nodded quickly. 'So, when I heard you needed to have an operation and stay here a little while I wanted to visit you to wish you all the best. And not just me alone.'
Sade's eyes went even wider, like her smile, when Cani, Avia, Ara, and Mami came into the room.
They all greeted and hugged her, wishing her luck and courage. Aada smiled at how happy her daughter looked while she explained and showed on her stomach where the doctor would operate on her. 'Arigatou.' she said to Guy who had sneaked in and stood next to her. 'I can't tell you how much it means to me.'
Guy smiled. 'No need.' he said. 'She's a good kid, and why not give her something to face the operation with?'
'Now,' Feli said to Sade. 'we can't stay too long here with all of us, but we helped your mother to make something so you won't feel alone here.' Sade looked curiously up at her and Feli pulled out a plush doll of herself in mini skirt suit from her back.
Sade's mouth fell open at the sight of the doll. Feli handed it over and she hugged the doll which was the size of her upper body tight. 'Arigatou!' she said, her eyes shining with happiness.
'But she's not the only one.' said Cani and held a plush of herself in front of her. 'We're all here.'
Sade's excitement couldn't be bigger when she saw the dolls of each of the girls. Cani and the rest attacked Sade with their dolls while she laughed out loud.
Guy smiled when he saw Aada wipe a tear from her cheek.
When the nurse came to talk to Aada, Guy and the girls said goodbye to Sade who sat back on the bed covered in the dolls. She said she would come visit after the operation and show her scar.
They smiled and waved as they left the room and were in the hallway when Aada caught up with them. 'I just wanted to thank you again for what you did.' she said and held out two large bags. 'This is for you. Have a look when you get home.'
She went back to Sade's room before they could thank her and went to the car with some curiosity as to what the various soft packages in the bag contained.
At home they went to the living corner and emptied the bags.
'She wrote our names on them.' said Ara and handed Cani her package. 'And this big one is addressed to you, Guy.'
He raised his eyebrows. 'Oh?' he said and took the large package from Ara. 'Why would she give me anything when it's you guys who worked to make the dolls with Aada?'
'Maybe it's for the coffee and sandwiches you brought?' Mami chuckled.
'Oh, there's a letter in the bag.' said Ara and read it. 'Dear friends. As thanks for giving Sade a wonderful surprise I made a few dolls more after watching you work hard and overhearing enough to understand how you live together. I thought I'd give all of you something to add to your personal corners. Sincere, Aada.'
'Okay,' said Guy. 'Let's see what surprise she made for us.'
Everyone opened their packages and chuckled at the contents.
'He does look like you.' said Cani, holding up the doll resembling Guy in shorts and t-shirt she was given together with the doll looking like her.
'Cute.' grinned Mami as she looked at her doll of Guy with different coloured clothing.
Avia nodded and hugged the pair of Guy and herself. Ara grinned at the piece of string webbing with her pair and wrapped it around Guy's doll as if he was prey.
Guy felt embarrassed and opened his package quickly to find each of the girls and himself in it. He chuckled. 'I'll have to make room on my desk to fit you all.'