: Ryou is prepared to spend another Christmas by himself, but that idea is completely turned around when he finds someone who isn't.Warnings
: Slight angst.Disclaimer
: Usagi no own.
Christmas was one of Ryou's favorite times of year, as well as one of his least favorite times.
It was getting more and more widely celebrated in Japan, and he had to admit, he loved the feeling of 'magic' in the air that the holiday just seemed to bring. Seeing all of these houses strung up with multicolored lights, and children running around throwing snowballs and building snowmen... it made him smile. Everyone seemed so happy during this time of year that it just rubbed off on him, even if he didn't have any particular reason to be happy.
Not to mention, it was in the middle of winter, and Ryou loved winter, if only because it gave him a good reason to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a book. It was also a good time to be in the kitchen making various baked goods - cakes, cookies, breads, and especially cream puffs. If Ryou was feeling especially festive, he'd put little red and green sprinkles in the cream, or decorate them to look like snowballs with icing.
That was his plan for the evening, and the reason why he was out walking in the snow, holding a bag of groceries.
Anyone in their right mind would've taken a bus or taxi if it were snowing, but Ryou actually liked walking in the snow; it gave him a sense of inner peace to see those tiny white flakes floating down to the ground. For him, inner peace had been hard to come by, what with the spirit of the Sennen Ring and all of those events with Yuugi-tachi. Even if they'd long since ended, he still held many emotional scars from those happenings, and snow was one of the few things that could make all of those scars seem nonexistent.
Ryou smiled as he looked up at the grey sky, catching a snowflake with the tip of his tongue. It almost made him feel like a little kid again, when he would play in the snow with his sister...
His smile faded. That probably wasn't the best thing to think of on this day, as most people were spending it with their families, and Ryou... didn't really have anyone to share it with. His father was off on a dig somewhere in Europe; he'd really tried
to come home for Christmas, but there was just so much work to be done in so little time. Ryou understood, of course. It was always going to be that way - his father would promise to come home, but then get held up by things like deadlines. There was no avoiding it; the elder Bakura had quite a demanding job, and sometimes he just couldn't get away from it, even if it was a holiday like Christmas. Perhaps he felt it to be expendable, given that it was still catching on in the country.
... Either way, Ryou was going to spend this one alone again. But he was used to it.
That didn't stop a feeling of sadness from coming over him as he saw a couple walking together with their children, though. The kids ran ahead of their parents, throwing snow at each other; the mother and father looked on with smiles on their faces, hands intertwined. For a split second, in that family, he saw his parents, and the children were himself and Amane...
He turned away from the family and looked down at the ground, trying to focus on the footprints that other people had left, in an attempt to think about something else... or else he'd start crying, which he really didn't want. He mentally kicked himself; nobody was supposed to be sad on Christmas, and here he was, wallowing in his own self pity, wishing for something that he probably wouldn't have.
As he walked down the sidewalk, he passed a small box. Ryou paid no mind to it, as it was probably just trash - however, a quiet noise got his attention, and he stopped short, looking back at the box. That noise had been barely audible, yet somehow he'd managed to hear it... was there something in that box?
He was thoroughly distracted from his own thoughts by now. He took the few steps back toward the box: it was missing one of its flaps, and he pulled the remaining flap back, gasping at what lay before him.
In the box was a tiny white kitten, its ears, paws, and tail tipped with grey. It was so thin and frail that for a moment, Ryou almost thought it was dead. But he could see its little chest slowly rising and falling, and he could almost feel his heart breaking at the sight. This poor little kitten had been left out in the cold for who knows how long, and it just barely seemed to be holding on. Ryou took a quick glance around the area to see if there were any other cats around; unfortunately, there were none.
"Oh, you poor little thing..." Ryou reached into the box and gently stroked the kitten's head. It weakly lifted its head in response, giving another tiny squeak. It didn't look to be that old - only a few weeks at the very most. So it was here and probably starving, without its family to take care of it...
Much like himself, now that he thought about it. Something struck him then; he felt compelled to...
"Come here," he said, carefully picking the kitten up. He frowned as it mewed quietly again. It was probably cold, and frightened, and hungry... he just couldn't leave it out there. Ryou stuffed the kitten into the front of his coat, holding the tiny creature close to his chest. It immediately curled up against him, doing all it could to take warmth from him. Shifting his grocery bags to one hand, he gently cupped his other hand around the small lump the kitten made in his coat, and started walking back to his apartment.
The walk didn't seem to take so long, how that he'd had something important to do upon getting there. He had to make sure that the kitten got some food into its system, and had a warm place to stay... if it didn't make it, he didn't know what he would do. He would feel absolutely terrible, especially if it happened on Christmas. This was a day to be happy and warm, not cold and sad...
Setting his groceries on the kitchen counter, Ryou continued to hold the kitten to his chest as he opened a cabinet, pulling out a saucer. "Don't worry, you're going to be okay now," he mumbled, retrieving a jug of milk from the refrigerator. He poured a small amount of milk into the saucer and set the jug down, before pulling the kitten out from under his coat.
It mewed again as he gently set it down on the counter. It could barely even stand up, it was so weak - but somehow, it managed to hobble over to the dish, and it began hungrily lapping up the milk. A small smile formed on Ryou's face as he reached out, stroking its fur with his fingertips. "So... you're alone for Christmas, too? I know how that feels... it's not a good feeling at all, is it." The kitten looked up at him for a moment, before going back to its milk.
"This is probably your first Christmas, huh..." Ryou crossed his arms, resting them on the countertop. "I'm sorry you have to be alone on your first Christmas. I barely remember mine, but I do know that I wasn't alone..." He sighed and looked up at the ceiling. "I had my mother and father with me. Amane wasn't born yet, but when she was, she had all of us too... I feel guilty about that sometimes, really, because so many others didn't have any families to be with on Christmas."
He didn't know why he was talking to this kitten. Perhaps it was an attempt to console it, or maybe a way of venting his own feelings... "But after my mother and Amane died, my father became more distant and more involved with his job, so I started spending Christmas alone more often. I've... I've gotten used to it, really, but sometimes it still hurts to think about how it used to be. I wish things didn't have to be like that."
Ryou looked down at the kitten again, who had finished off its milk and was now licking at one of its small grey paws. "But maybe... you'd like to spend this Christmas with me? That way, neither of us will be alone..."
The kitten looked up at him, its blue eyes - which had been almost lifeless before - glimmering with a newborn light.
Ryou took that as a yes, and he smiled, picking the kitten up again. Holding it closely, he walked out of the kitchen and into the living room, sitting down on the couch. He tugged a warm fleece blanket off the top of his couch, draping it over himself. "...and maybe, after this year, you can spend every Christmas with me, so we won't ever have to be lonely again."
As if it were agreeing with him, the kitten curled up into a tiny ball against his chest, giving off a soft purr. It seemed that it didn't want to be alone, and Ryou could completely sympathize with that. "Alright, then... you can stay with me. But you need a name..." Gently stroking the kitten's fur, Ryou bit his lip in thought. It needed a special name; one that would remind him of how they came together...
The kitten was mostly white, and he'd found it while out walking in the snow.
"... Yuki," Ryou muttered, smiling down at it. "How do you like that name?" Its only response was a string of louder purrs. "...okay, then. Yuki." Curling up on the couch, Ryou held the newly-named Yuki to his heart, the feeling of spending this Christmas with someone special filling his whole body with warmth.