“Oh, Xana, look at this one.”
Gabriel gently raised a finger to the glass, without tapping it. On the other side, in a small elevated room on the second shelf, was a kitten, barely ten weeks old. They had grey-and-black patterned markings and slender, short fur. Gabriel knew this breed was called an Egyptian Mau, but never felt quite right referring to it that way; after all, she’d been in that country long before the breed was ever popular.
“Hummm.” Xana looked the cat in the eyes, meeting its gaze for a moment and then not breaking her stare even as it turned its head away to eat the kibble in its little bowl. “They’re really cute, but I don’t want to adopt one.”
“Why not?” Gabriel asked, a placid smile still on her face. “You’d only have one pet. It’s hardly the challenge that owning two of each would be. I’m sure you could do it.”
“If I’m not going to do it well, what’s the point?” Xana asked, still looking a bit askance at the adorable kitten. “You need to pamper your cat and give them whatever they want. I don’t have time for that.”
“I could help you, you know.” Gabriel offered. “God loves all of His creations. I do feel a little pity myself, seeing these animals waiting for homes.”
“Mmmmmm.” Xana continued to make throaty noises, but she did respond in more detail. “Besides, they love it when you talk to them in cutesy voices. I don’t do cutesy voices.”
Xana furrowed her brow. “Of course not. Who do you think I am?”
Gabriel’s smile broadened as she decided to let that subject drop. Turning her full attention back to Xana, she crossed her arms in front of her chest, hands over forearms. “Well, I suppose Shiori-san already owns a cat of sorts… But would you not consider a fish? They are very easy to take care of.”
“Then there’s no point,” Xana retorted. “Cats are amazing. They’d do all kinds of interesting things and get rid of the bugs in the hideout. But I’m not going to adopt one. What does a fish do? Swim?”
Gabriel couldn’t help but laugh, hand in front of her face. If she had one of those Eastern fans on her person, it would be open and in front of her mouth. “Yes, I suppose I can see why you’d say that. But, please, give a little more credit to the humble fish. Had God not made them, this world’s waters would be in disarray.”
“Oh, good point,” Xana said impassively. “Thanks, fish, for turning into delicious food. Amen.”
As per usual, that was just good enough for Gabriel to take no offense. “Yes, I suppose that was one of their purposes. Especially for the bears and cats of the world.”
If Xana noticed Gabriel’s continued comparison of her to the felines in front of them, she was giving no sign of it. Rather, she had turned to the other side of the aisle, where cat and dog beds of various sizes and trims were laid out on bare metal shelves.
“Oh, looks comfy.”
Incoming links: a trial of love and hate