“Long enough for what??” Inoo asks in annoyed disbelief as Hikaru futzes with the TV, scrolling through a long list of DVR recordings on the hard drive.
“I said, we’re going to be gone long enough for Nyanchan to get lonely!” Hikaru replies poutily, shooting Inoo an annoyed look before settling on an old Meringue no Kimochi episode and pressing the play button. “She’s only a baby! She’ll be sad if her mama and papa aren’t home with her!”
“She’s a cat!” Inoo responds, throwing his arms up in exasperation. “She sleeps all day! She hasn’t moved from the couch since we got up this morning, she doesn’t care whether we’re here or not!” They’ve had this argument many times now; in all Hikaru’s cat-papa ridiculousness, Inoo feels like they spend more time at home discussing their deeply differing ideas about the cat's needs than they do actually cuddling or playing with the cat herself. Hikaru’s insistence that Nyanchan was a ‘baby’ and needed special care had been silly at best when they’d first adopted her, but now that six months had passed and Nyanchan was most definitely a fully adult cat, it was beginning to drive Inoo bonkers.
“If she’s just a baby, you’d better pick a new episode, we talked about sex in this one,” he points out trollingly when his arguments fall on deaf ears, but he immediately regrets it as Hikaru flails, nearly throwing the remote control across the room in his rush to change the recording to something more ‘cat-friendly.’
“I thought you recorded all my TV appearances because you wanted to see me,” Inoo grouses as they sit in the back seat of Inoo’s manager’s car on the way to rehearsal. It had taken Hikaru another twenty minutes and three increasingly aggravated phone calls from Inoo’s manager to choose an ‘appropriate’ recording, and now they’re most definitely going to be late to rehearsal. To Inoo, that’s neither here nor there; he’s late out of his own carelessness from time to time, but somehow, being late due to Hikaru’s obsessive need to pander to some imagined desire of their cat is a thousand times more embarrassing and annoying.
“I told you it was for Nyanchan,” Hikaru pouts back, not looking at Inoo in favor of gazing intently out the window around the curtains. Hikaru has always been a master of avoidance, especially when it comes to feelings— which had been why, when Hikaru had told Inoo he recorded all of Inoo’s TV appearances for Nyanchan, Inoo had assumed that was code for ‘I want to watch them myself.’ That’s often how it was with things that were ‘for Nyanchan,’ and Inoo was happy to let Hikaru use the cat as an excuse for things he was too embarrassed to admit that he wanted himself. All in all, Inoo was happy that Hikaru loved Nyanchan so much, that she had become a part of their little life together, but at times like these, sometimes, Inoo wishes he had just gotten another cat rather than moving in with Hikaru.
But for now, he just sighs and looks out his own window as they inch through the heavy Tokyo traffic, daydreaming. He can still boot Hikaru out in favor of an American shorthair, right?
“I’m back,” Inoo calls out in the genkan, slipping off his shoes and listening for a reply. None comes, and he smiles a little to himself, shaking his head. He’d told Hikaru that his filming was going to run late that night as they’d parted ways at the end of JUMP’s rehearsal earlier in the day. Don’t wait up for me, he’d said, but Hikaru, stubborn as always, insisted that of course he’d wait up, and didn’t Inoo have any faith in him whatsoever? Whatever, Inoo had replied, but he hadn’t been particularly expecting Hikaru to be able to hold up to his promise, and in fact, was rather hoping that he’d get some desperately-needed extra sleep while he could, because, Inoo knew, in a few months, once they got into concert season, things were inevitably going to get crazy.
And so, when no response comes to his greeting in the still apartment, Inoo does his best to stay as quiet as possible sliding into his slippers and scuffing along through the kitchen, pausing only to grab a glass of water to ease his tired throat. As he drinks, he becomes aware of the low murmur of commentary and a studio audience’s laughter playing quietly from the living room; Hikaru must have fallen asleep with the TV on. Inoo shakes his head again with another inward smile; of course Hikaru would be hell bent to stay up and end up passing out in front of the TV rather than going to bed when he felt tired. It was silly, but also heartwarming, and so Inoo puts his glass into the sink and makes his way into the living room, planning to usher Hikaru to bed before washing up himself.
However, when he makes his way into the living room, he’s caught off guard by the face on the screen— his own. Inoo had assumed that Hikaru had been watching late night variety to pass the time, but not only does Inoo know for a fact that he’s not on anything airing tonight, but, as the show continues, he recognizes the video as an episode of Mezamashi TV from a few weeks ago.
Inoo is startled out of his thoughts by the tinkle of a bell and a quiet meow from the bedroom followed by the gentle sound of kitty feet against the hardwood floor; it seems his arrival has awoken Nyanchan from her favorite spot on their bed, and she comes to greet Inoo, purring softly and rubbing against his legs. Inoo on the TV flails, struggling to get the hang of kendama, but Inoo in real time can’t help but grin as he bends down to lift Nyanchan into his arms gracefully, kissing the top of her head as she continues to purr.
“Your Papa is a big fat liar,” he says to her, scratching behind her ears, “What do you think about that?”
But as Nyanchan looks away in indifference, clearly more interested in the scratching than Inoo’s rhetorical questions, Inoo thinks warmly that maybe he’d rather have Hikaru around than another cat, after all.