Slave to Dreams: Pet Hee-chan - Petshop Boy
"It's been three months since you had to stop and look," I said with a groan as Wufei stopped in front of a petshop. "What happened? Did you get tired of that little cat of yours?"
Wufei smirked. "Not at all."
"Well at least he's behaving well enough that you can at least leave the house and do something with me once a week," I said, fighting down a familiar tickle of jealousy. Wufei and I used to hang out at least three times that often before he decided his apartment felt empty and he needed a pet.
"Gorgeous, isn't it?" Wufei said, nudging me and pointing at the glass.
"Yeah, sure," I replied, and stuffed my hands deeper in the pockets of my jeans. I wanted to go home, not stand around in the freezing cold when I hadn't worn anything heavier than a sweatshirt.
Wufei's elbow dug into my side with more force. I sighed and took an obligatory glance at whatever stupid animal had caught my friend's eye this time around. When I spotted what he was pointing at, my breath caught in my throat. Through a break in the curtains that hung behind the cages lining the window, I could see a small, exotic fox curled up neatly on a pillow of gleaming black satin. Tiny pointed ears pricked up from the fiery orange ball of fur and it lifted its slender head to regard us curiously with brilliant blue eyes.
"Hey, it's looking at us," I breathed, and with some difficulty I kept myself from pressing my nose to the glass. "Don't you think it's against the law to sell one of those?"
"Probably," Wufei mumbled in reply.
"I guess I've seen other stores here in Chinatown carry illegal stuff. Still, that thing must cost a fucking fortune," I said and turned to look over at Wufei, but he had vanished. I blinked stupidly for a moment until I heard the faint ring of the shop's doorchime.
I rolled my eyes and followed him in. It was warm inside the shop, almost too warm, and a shiver ran through my body as the heat began to seep in.
I glanced around the place. It seemed nice, and by that, I mean expensive. I had expected the place to smell like, well, a petshop, but the pleasant scent of incense hung in the air. One wall was held nothing but glass-faced cubicles (reptiles?), the opposing was stacked floor to ceiling with gently bubbling aquariums, and the rest of the space was taken up with gilded bird cages and free-standing pens.
Wufei was speaking with a tall, slender figure in a midnight blue, satin dress. In most cases, the dress would suggest Wufei was speaking with a woman, but in this city, one didn't make assumptions. I was usually pretty good at pinning down gender, but this time I was hard pressed to make a solid guess. Based on the set of their shoulders, I decided arbitrarily that the person was a man.
As I came to stand by them, Wufei turned to include me and gestured, "This is my friend, Duo."
Just above the embroidered mandarin collar of his dress, the man's glossy black hair fell in a neatly trimmed line. Half-hidden behind that inky curtain, the proprietor's gaze shifted to me. His heavy-lashes lowered as he offered me a pleasant smile and bowed his head. "Welcome to my petshop," he said.
He spoke softly, but his voice was definitely male. It was also disturbingly familiar and sent a strange feeling up my spine. Had I met him before? I was fairly sure I hadn't. I saw my fair share of unique people from day to day, but trannies with one blue eye and one brown were bound to stick in my memory.
I forced myself to stop worrying on it and nodded politely.
"Is your friend looking for a special companion?" the proprietor asked. His strange, bi-coloured eyes remained fixed on me.
Wufei glanced over at me quickly and shook his head. "No," he said and his demeanor shifted. He took hold of the man's elbow and gently guided him away from me. I didn't know why Wufei wanted to be out of earshot, but it didn't matter because, too bad for him, I could read lips. I wandered over to a pen filled with shorthaired kittens and reached down to scratch one soft, striped head as I discreetly kept an eye on my friend and his peculiar behavior.
"I wanted to know about that fox," Wufei told the shopkeeper. The man's hair and the angle of his stance kept me from reading his reply, but I caught Wufei's next remark. "My pet frequently gets bored. I was hoping to find him something to play with when I'm away."
"Not that sort of companion," Wufei said. He furrowed his brow and glanced over at me again. I continued to pretend to be entirely absorbed in the antics of the little furball trying to gnaw my finger off. "Unless you think it might help him calm down a bit."
"I can't, not with my friend here," Wufei said. I burned with curiosity wondering what the shopkeeper had asked.
The slender man turned his head to look at me and caught me watching. I felt stripped naked by his gaze. "Are you sure about your friend? As you know, the reward of owning a pet far outweighs the cost," the man said to Wufei. I had no doubt he knew I was reading his lips. "And he looks lonely."
I scowled at that, and didn't mind one bit when Wufei gave a denial on my behalf.
Who did this guy think he was? Me? Lonely? Pfft.
After almost four weeks of no contact with any friends outside of work, I finally had to admit the crazy Chinese guy in the petshop was right. I was lonely. Wufei had gone back to that place without me and bought something to keep his precious darling "Cat" (stupidest name ever) occupied when he wasn't at home. Only, it seemed he ended up being the one occupied all the time.
How much fun could a stupid cat be anyway? From everything I had ever heard they were pretty boring animals; of the "feed me, pet me, now clean up my shit" type.
I walked around Chinatown for two hours, stopping in two bookstores, three jewelry shops, and a cafe before I broke down and decided it wouldn't hurt to just take a look at the petshop. That kitten I'd played with a month ago was probably gone, but the little thing had been cute, maybe having a cat wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
I pushed the door open and squinted. My eyes were used to the midday sun, and what little I could see of the shadowed interior was tinged heavily with green afterimages. I blinked them away as quickly as I could.
"Welcome back to my shop," the proprietor said. This time I saw his lips were painted a dark burgundy. It didn't make him look less androgynous or more feminine; it just drew attention to the lines of his smoothly tapering chin.
"Hey," I said, holding the door open with my elbow and not quite taking a full step inside. I held up my bag from the cafe. "Is it all right if I bring food in with me?"
"Of course," he said, beckoning me in with a slim hand. He had painted nails too, I noticed. Too bad he wasn't my type. I liked pretty guys, but ones that looked a little more athletic and less like high-maintenance drama queens.
"Don't suppose you want an ?clair," I said. "The lady gave me a couple extra."
The man's eyes lit up and he clasped his hands together excitedly. I felt a smile tug my lips. This guy was definitely high maintenance.
He pulled back a beaded curtain. "Please, come this way, Mr. Maxwell," he said cheerfully. "Let's discuss what sort of pet would best suit you over a hot cup of tea."
As I was ushered into a small, private sitting room, a voice in the back of my head wondered when I had told him my last name.
Before long, I had a hot cup of ginger tea in my hands and a proper name to call my host by.
"So, D, did Wufei talk you into letting him buy that fox?" I asked.
"No," he replied, as he poured himself a cup. "They weren't suited for one another."
"What about me?"
D shook his head. He sat down on a chair opposite me and started spooning sugar into his cup. "I think you would be unhappy with such a... high-maintenance companion," he said.
I almost spit out my tea. Count D smiled slyly.
"Regardless, the fox is no longer for sale. He was taken home just this morning by Mr. Peacecraft."
"Peacecraft?" I said. "Like the actor?"
"Yes," D answered. He sighed wistfully and reached for his ?clair. "I hope Milliardo and his new pet get along well."
I whistled under my breath. Milliardo Peacecraft, Zechs Merquise, M.D. himself bought something here. I was suddenly worried about just how much the animals in this shop sold for. I made a healthy chunk at my day job, at least as much as Wufei, but....
Count D neatly interrupted my train of thought with that strangely familiar voice of his. "Tell me, Duo," he said. "What sort of companion are you looking for?"
Once I had stammered out a general idea of what sort of pet I was hoping to take home, D set down his tea and led me into the "back room". Damn, the place was a hell of a lot bigger than it looked on the outside. We passed door after door until he stopped at one with a shiny number 21 on it.
"Remember," D said, as he put his hand to the latch, "you may return a pet to the shop, but those who cannot choose wisely the first time are rarely satisfied with a second."
I nodded and Count D stepped back. My throat was dry with anticipation as the door swung inward.
I should have been shocked when I found myself staring at a dozen half-naked young men, but instead, a pair of intense blue eyes met mine and I was too enamoured to care.
"His name is Heero," D told me.
"I'll take him," I said.
I heard the fabric of Count D's dress rustle as he executed a bow. "Although I would very much appreciate your discretion regarding your purchase, you must agree to only one thing before you take him home: should he ever say he does not want you for a master any longer, you must not hold him by force."
With my proclivities, I'd dabbled in the fetish scene, so I knew consent was the name of the game. "Of course," I said quickly.
And then Heero was mine.