Strange Places


Published
2 months, 12 days ago
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2955

Shooting stars are rare on Kyuudou Island and tracked by the elders. When one passes through the sky, Neko watches it from the beach, only to realize that it's not a star, but some sort of ship. A traveler? She realizes quickly that the ship is crashing, and soon sees a boy, floating limply in the waves. There is no question: she must rescue him, and she must care for him. They spend time getting to know each other after the boy, Sora, awakens. Neko desperately wants to run away with him, but will she get the chance?

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Kyuudou is a peaceful island, away from the struggles of heartless and darkness. Neko lives on the ‘human’ side of the island, while ‘beastkin’ dwells on the other side, who are more animalistic than the human side. 


This island may be peaceful for some, but Neko endures abuse on the regular from her family. She covers her body to hide the scars from the beatings. She wishes, more than anything, she could find some freedom and escape, see the worlds for what they really are. But she’s stuck here, with no way to find the freedom she so craves.


Chilling near one of the beaches, Neko narrows her eyes, seeing a shooting star of sorts. Strange. They didn’t get them all too often - they’re a rare phenomenon and considered sacred on their little island. Neko moves to tell the elders, as every shooting star has to be recorded, when she realizes it’s not a shooting star. It’s a ship!


“A ship, here?” Neko questions herself, ears twitching as a confused expression crosses her face. “We haven’t had any come by in… gods, how many years?”


Her outward monologue ceases when she sees there’s a boy on the ship! Eyes blown wide, Neko doesn’t need to guess; she knows he needs help. Running back on the beach and diving into the salt water, she swims towards the strange figure, pulling him out of his ship and swimming back to shore.


Once they’re safe, she takes a good look at him. Definitely from a foreign world - his appearance alone proves it. Human ears, spiked brown hair, tanned skin… Neko takes a guess he’s from some kind of tropical place. But, deciding to worry about the little details later, she lifts him in her arms and bounds towards her mentor, Oji’s, home.


Oji looks up with curiosity when Neko enters his home. “Dear me, Neko, I haven’t seen you so frazzled in a while. What’s wrong?” he asks, then looks at the boy within her arms. “Ah, you picked up a straggler, did you? Set him on that bed there.”


Neko nods, placing the strange boy on the bed her mentor told her to. “He’s from another world, Oji. When’s the last time we had someone come from a foreign place?”


“At least a hundred years,” Oji muses. “Was anyone else with him?”


“No, I just found him by himself… but I don’t think he’d be traveling alone. Maybe we should try to find out where his companions are?”


“If he has any,” Oji remarks. “It’s considered a bad omen if strangers appear from nowhere. You know that as well as I, Neko.”


Oji’s tone isn’t malicious, but it’s placating. 


Neko rolls her eyes, sitting and crossing her legs. “Gee, you don’t think I know that? But we can’t abandon someone who needs help, no matter what the stupid omens and legends say.”


“They’re the backbone of this island. You know this.” A soft sigh slips free from Oji’s lips. “And you wonder why people tend to avoid you, my dear.”


“...” Neko’s ears flatten against her head. “And that’s why my family beats me too, huh?”


“I don’t condone their actions. You know that,” Oji says in a sad tone. “Just try to play by the rules a little longer. Perhaps this boy is your ticket to the freedom you desire.”


“Maybe…” Neko stares at the stranger. His breaths are calm and even, but there’s some bruises and a tiny bit of crusted blood on his frame. “Do you believe everything happens for a reason, Oji?”


“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”


“Maybe… maybe everything that happened up until this point was guiding me towards my freedom. This kid may be the final key I need to get off this blasted place.”


“Perhaps,” is all Oji remarks, and the two sit in silence. 


Neko can’t help herself - she reaches towards the strange boy and takes his hand. It’s so soft. Giving a squeeze to it, Neko hopes he’ll be okay. This whole experience may be traumatizing for him, and Neko resolves to be there for him when he wakes up, to help him in whatever ways she can.


-w-


Two days pass without the boy waking up, but on the eve of the third, Neko’s ears perk when she hears a moan. Leaning over the brunet, her tail swishes when his eyes open - bright, bright blues. “Where am I…?” he questions, sitting up with a wince.


“You’re in Kyuudou,” Neko explains, helping him sit up. “I’m Neko. What’s your name?”


“I-I’m Sora,” Sora introduces himself. “I’ve never heard of this world before. And… you have cat ears?” His eyes widen, looking confused, but at the same, curious. “And a tail?”


“Haha, you’ve never seen people like us before, huh?” Neko giggles, grinning. “I’ve never seen someone like you either, a person completely human. What world do you hail from?”


“Destiny Islands,” Sora responds. “This place… you called Kyuudou? What kind of world is it?”


“Destiny Islands, eh? Interesting. Sounds tropical - I knew you were from some tropical place.” Neko leans forward, making Sora lean back with a smear of pink coloring his cheeks. “We have two types of folks here. The human side, which we’re on, and the beastkin, who are much more animalistic than us.”


“That’s cool!” Sora exclaims, and Neko stumbles back at the outburst. Sora rubs his neck, looking embarrassed at his exclamation. “I mean, I’ve met many people from different worlds, but I never thought I’d meet people like you guys.”


“We’re not that special,” Neko mutters, and Sora can see the sadness hiding in her eyes. Her attire covers much of her form, but Sora notices the outlines of scarring, making him wonder what happened to the girl. 


“What happened to you?”


“Huh?”


Sora jumps off the bed and crawls towards Neko, who laughs and backs up until her back hits the wall. Sora takes her arm in his hands, soft and gentle, and a sorrowful look crosses his features. “People have hurt you, haven’t they?”


Neko balks. She doesn’t know what to say to those words. People have, but as much as Sora is interesting, she doesn’t want to tell him all her secrets. Neko doesn’t want him to run away screaming, after all. Instead, she settles on the word, “Maybe,” and leaves it at that.


Before Sora can question further, Oji walks in the room, and exhales an ‘ah!’ at seeing Sora awake. “We thought you would sleep forever, boy. How are you feeling?”


“I’m fine--wait, did you guys find two other people with me? A duck and dog?”


Neko shakes her head. “No, you were the only one we found. Why?”


“Darn it.” Sora makes to stand, but falls flat on his rear. “Donald and Goofy are my companions. Who knows where they ended up after we crash landed?”


“I thought you wouldn’t be by yourself,” Neko remarks, throwing an ‘I told you so’ look at Oji. “I can try to find them?”


Sora looks hesitant at the thought of Neko leaving. Before either can say a word, Oji says, “I’ll go look for your friends. You seem to feel safe with the young one, so she can stay with you.”


“Um,” is all Sora mumbles at those words, cheeks darkening. Neko giggles, leaning in Sora’s space again.


“Aww, you feel safe with me? I’m grateful. I feel safe with you too.” Before Sora can say anything else, Neko places a kiss on his cheek, making the boy stutter and his cheeks go an even darker shade of red. “Let me know if you find anything, Oji?”


“Of course, young one.”


Oji walks out as soon as he comes in, and Neko leans back on her hands, ears and tail flickering. 


“So tell me about yourself.”


Sora blinks.


“I’m not that interesting.”


“Oh, shush. I’m not either. We can bore each other with our life stories… if you want to, that is?”


Sora looks contemplative for a few moments, then nods.


“Sure, why not! I’m stuck here for I dunno how long anyway,” he says cheerfully, swaying from side to side. “You wanna start or me?”


“I’m intrigued by you, so you go,” Neko replies with a nod. “I’ve never seen any other worlds, but I’ve heard a lot about different ones. Can you tell me about your journey thus far?”


“Oh, yeah, sure! I can tell you about Riku and Kairi too.” Sora looks sad at the mention of his friends. “Although… I haven’t seen them in a while.”


“Friends of yours?”


“Yeah, childhood friends. Riku’s a… bit difficult, but he’s not a bad person. Kairi, on the other hand, is one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet,” Sora explains, a little blush coloring his cheeks at the mention of Kairi. Neko takes a guess he’s smitten with her. “I haven’t seen them since… since Destiny Islands fell to darkness.”


“The worlds are falling to darkness?” Neko questions, eyes widening a little. “And, what, you’re on a journey to restore them?”


“Something like that, yeah!”


“Interesting,” Neko says to herself. Sora’s still blushing, although the catgirl isn’t sure why. “Why are you here, then? This world is normal. There’s no darkness, except the odd heartless every now and again.”


“I’m not sure?” Sora sounds confused. “There’s always a reason I visit a world. Whether to save it or someone else.” He stares Neko down, making her fidget. “Maybe I was sent here to save you.”


“Me?” Neko’s cheeks darken. “I-I’m fine.”


“I’ve seen little glimpses of the scars you bare. This place isn’t good for you, is it.”


It’s not a question.


Sora already knows the answer.


Neko sighs, ears flattening against her head. “Yeah, so? It’s just… nothing.”


“Abuse isn’t nothing!” Sora exclaims, leaning in Neko’s personal space. A yelp slips free as she falls on her back at the suddenness of Sora’s movement. “I can see it, the sadness in your eyes. You want to leave. Well, once we find Donald and Goofy, we can. I’ll take you away from this, from everything. I won’t let anyone else lay a hand on you.”


Neko stumbles over her words, a dark smear of red coloring her cheeks. Maybe Sora is right, maybe he was sent here to take her away. Even though she hoped for it, Neko didn’t want to cling to false hopes, terrified to have them dashed at a moment’s notice. 


“Are--are you sure?” Neko whispers, voice soft, yet hopeful.


“Positive! You can help me save the worlds!” Sora grins and Neko finds herself blinded by it. He’s such a cheerful, happy soul - so different from anyone else she ever met before.


“I don’t know how much help I’ll be,” Neko admits, a skittish smile on her countenance. “But I’ll try my best.”


“Your best is all I can ask for, Neko!” Sora launches forward, tackling Neko to the floor in an embrace. Neko laughs and laughs, wrapping her arms around Sora and nuzzling her nose in the soft skin between neck and shoulder. Her heart hammers in her ears as Sora clings to her, Neko herself doing much the same.


Neither is sure how long they stay embracing one another, only that it feels right to have the other in their arms. Sora pulls back after a while, a blush and grin resting on his features. Neko gives her own smile, cheeks deep red.


“We got off topic, didn’t we?” Sora asks, wearing the same blinding grin with reddened cheeks. “I was gonna tell you about my journey!”


“Oh, yeah!” Sora and Neko get settled and Neko rests her head against Sora’s shoulder. “Don’t leave out any details, I wanna know everything!”


“Haha, yeah, of course!” 


-w-


The sun starts to set when Sora’s done explaining his journey thus far, and Neko finds herself enraptured by the whole thing. Defeating monstrous heartless, protecting the worlds from the tendrils of darkness - she’s amazed one man and his companions can do such a feat. Neko did notice Sora’s tone became more hushed and sorrowful at the mentions of Riku and Kairi, so she hopes, with all her heart, the three of them will be reunited one day.


The two sit in companionable silence for a while, Neko’s head still resting on Sora’s shoulder, except his arm wound itself around her shoulders during his explanations of his journey. Her heart hammers in her chest and pounds in her ears. She’s always been one to develop crushes rather easily - this time is no exception.


Who couldn’t find Sora’s exuberance absolutely adorable?


Blowing out a sigh, Neko and Sora look up when the door opens and Oji stands there. He gives the pair a smile as he says, “I believe I found your companions.”


“Oh yeah? Where are they?” Sora asks. He seems eager to find Donald and Goofy, but also seems content to stay where he is for the time being. 


“They’re on the beastkin side of this island,” Oji explains. Neko groans. Sora looks confused. “The beastkin does not take well to strangers on their turf.”


“I hate dealing with them,” Neko complains. As much as she wants to stay here forever, she stands, taking Sora’s hand and lifting him as well. “But if they’re stuck there, guess I’ll have to face the music.”


“Can’t I go?” Sora questions. Both Oji and Neko shake their heads.


“You’re a strange lad from another world. They would tear you apart before you even set one foot on their side,” Oji says, and Sora pouts. “Neko is a strong girl - she’ll be fine, and bring your companions back in no time at all.”


“Yeah, trust me, I got this!” Neko exclaims, and Sora closes the distance between them to hug her close. “U-Um, Sora?”


“Be safe,” Sora whispers in a hushed tone. He pulls back, giving Neko a smile. “Don’t wanna lose ya after just meeting, you know!”


“Haha, yeah, I got it. I’ll be back soon.”


-w-


Walking onto the beastkin’s turf, Neko isn’t surprised when they all stare and snarl at her. “Take it easy, boys,” she mutters, rolling her eyes. “I’m here to rescue two stranglers who landed here. A dog and duck?”


“Ah, the ones from another world. They’re here,” one of the elders says. “They trespassed.”


“Oh, please, spare me your stories about trespassers. Give them to me and they’ll be out of your hair.”


The elder growls, but seeing the determination in Neko’s eyes, nods and brings a cage forward, then unlocks it. “Keep the strange ones away,” is all she says before they leave.


The dog and duck burst out of the cage, looking frazzled, but fine otherwise. “You two okay?” Neko asks.


“This is why you pay attention to the coordinates!” the duck yells at the dog, who gives a nervous laugh. “We almost were supper!”


“Hyuck, I’m sorry, Donald,” the dog apologizes. He looks at Neko. “Thanks for saving us, miss. I’m Goofy. This is Donald.”


“Pleasure is mine,” Neko says with a smile. “Sora’s worried sick about you two.” 


“Sora’s okay? Thank the heavens.” Goofy breathes a sigh of relief and Donald looks happy as well. “Will you take us to him?”


“Of course.” Neko starts the trek back home, the two following behind her. “Hope you don’t mind me tagging along once we get back, though.”


“Another straggler?” Donald complains. “If Sora’s okay with it, then it’s fine, I guess.”


“Yep! The more the merrier after all,” Goofy says with a grin. “You’ll make a fine addition to the team, um, what’s your name?”


“Neko,” Neko introduces herself with her own grin. “Maybe I’ll be better at handling your ship than you two are.”


Donald bristles and Goofy laughs.


-w-


When the three return, Sora runs out of the hut and embraces his friends. “I’m glad you guys are okay!” 


“You can’t do anything without us, Sora,” Donald mutters, but seems content to be reunited as well. 


“Where’s the ship? We better get moving, there’s more worlds to save!” Goofy exclaims.


Sora looks at Neko, who nods. She turns to Oji, giving him a soft, gentle smile. “Thank you for everything, but it’s time for me to go.”


“Godspeed, young one,” Oji says with his own smile. Neko runs forward and embraces him, nuzzling her cheek against his shirt. “I’ll see you again one day.”


“Yeah, I’ll tell you of all the craziness I got up to!” Neko laughs, then releases him, running towards Sora. “I overheard you calling your group half-pints? Well, I’ll be your fourth half-pint, making a complete two!”


Sora grins, nodding. “Four half-pints together.”


Neko walks towards their ship with a spring in her step. She never imagined she would find her freedom in one strange boy and his even stranger companions. But saving the worlds? She could get used to that.