The black-haired neko yawned, his fangs showing for a moment before he snapped his jaw shut, smelling something so tantalizingly delicious it made his stomach growl with a familiar hunger. No eating birds. His eyes narrowed, tail lashing back and forth. Thorn could smell the bird from where he lay, almost tracking it as it was brought closer, and closer - it took all his willpower to not move. That annoying chirping and steady rhythm of its fast heartbeat. No eating birds, he repeated to himself. A deep, agitated growl came from the back of his throat as Sera's mom entered the room, a small, colorful bird on her shoulder.
Sera's mother had a teasing look on her face as she reached up, and stroked her chirping bird’s head. “I made pancakes, so come downstairs soon. I expect him to be washed up and ready to eat at the table like a civilized person. Unless he wants me to go buy some wet food and eat on the floor - like a cat.” After that, she nodded to her daughter and went back downstairs.
“Well,” Sera began, getting out of bed and stretching her arms over her head, “I’m gonna get changed. You can go wash your hands in the bathroom, which is just that room over there.” She pointed out the doorway, smiling at him before ushering him out of the room and closing the door.
Do I look like your version of a 'person' to you? he growled in his mind as he walked down the hallway and entered the bathroom. Wash his hands? What part of the fact he was more cat than human alluded these humans? He hated water, and all things relating to it. With gritted teeth and a number of hisses he made himself run water over his hands - for Sera. Thorn wondered what humans even ate. Considering her mother kept birds as pets, he doubted they ate mice, birds, or fish on a daily basis. Perhaps humans kept all three of his preferred prey items as pets? Soap felt weird - everything in this house did, to him. If it wasn't for Sera, that bird on your shoulder would be between my fangs - I've killed birds five times bigger than that. Unlike most nekos, he had to be careful about what he hunted - anything suddenly missing could alert humans who could be monitoring the forest. He was shorter than average and thinner than he should be: he didn't eat as much as he should. In fact, he barely ate at all most days. Thus his kills had to last.
After the torture that was washing his hands, he wandered around aimlessly, every single thing catching his red-brown gaze. Where did all of it come from? He didn't feel safe here without Sera.
Speaking of Sera, she found him and led him into that place with the weird hole-y trees. “So, I’m guessing you’ve never had pancakes. They’re good - well, to humans. Which I guess you’re part human. Anyway, I hope you like them.”
Why did she insist on calling him 'human'? It was sort of like calling a tiger a housecat. Yeah - he looked human...ish, but he wasn't, not at all. One could call him a purebred wild neko. What are these... pancakes you speak of? And why do I smell fish? Whatever the case, he followed her, curiosity compelling him to find out what these 'pancakes' were and if they were as good as Sera said they were.
The scary lady took a seat. "Good morning."
He sat, curling his tail around him so it wasn't in the way, though the very tip of it flicked with discomfort. There wasn't much the neko could do about that - he wasn't comfortable at all, even next to Sera. Wild nekos weren't pets - they were made to survive without human interaction. Yet... Sera's mother obviously didn't like him, and if he didn't play nice, it could very well be game over for him - he was way too young to die. Thorn didn't speak... did she even know he could speak, or did she think he was 'uncivilised' to the point he couldn't understand English... or Japanese?
“Try it,” Sera encouraged Thorn, offering a smile to the neko. “They’re good. Well, they should be good. If you don’t like them we can find something else for you.”
There was that fishy smell again, and it was coming from his pancake. Surely she didn't - the very tips of his claws peeled a tiny bite of the pancake, and with effort he let it fall into his mouth. She did. It was just a small taste but he knew instantly what the scary lady had done. She'd put fish in it, at the realisation made him lick a fang as he ate another bite. Sardines, to be precise. Soon the whole thing was gone and he tasted the sweet taste of fish on his tongue. It wasn't nearly as good as freshly-caught fish... but he liked the attempt ... okay, mostly the fish. Thorn didn't know what to say, and he probably wouldn't if he knew. I'm not your cat, even if I do sleep in your house. You're gonna have to try harder than that if you want my trust.
Sera must not have gotten the sardine pancakes, and her outburst was a little odd. “What was in those pancakes? Do you feel okay?”
I feel like eating that bird alive, the neko thought, though he obviously didn't voice it. How long is she going to taunt me with it? He nodded at Sera's question. "Yeah - why?" I did not just speak in front of her. I did, didn't I? A tiny sigh escaped him. Well... too late now. Thorn didn't say what was in the pancake. He had a feeling her mother would explain it to her. Or not, he didn't particularly care.
Sera’s worried expression eased a bit and she nodded. “Mom?”
“Sardines. He is a cat, after all. I figured he wouldn’t like pancakes without something like that in them. Calm down, Sera - I would never put anything to harm him in his food.” She answered the question. The bird chirped on her shoulder, reaching beneath its wing and scratching an itch.
The relationship between Sera and her mother made him miss the one he had with his own, and his eyes glanced down to his tail as he remembered the time he spent with her. How she could so easily read his expression, knew him like the back of her claws - she was the best (okay only) mother he could've asked for. But the nature of nekos made her leave him, and it's that thought that got him thinking. Was it the same for human mothers? After their children were old enough, the mother simply left and got on with her life? Thorn was an outsider: this wasn't his territory and it certainly didn't help him that a mother with child lived here. Normally he'd be forced from the territory the very second he stepped foot on it. Another question about humans he didn't have an answer for.
“Hmm...” The girl muttered to herself.
“What?” Rachel asked in response to her daughter’s noise, picking up her plate and beginning to wash the dishes from their breakfast.
“Nothing,” Sera responded, leaning her elbows on the table and her chin on her hands. “Anything happening today?”
“Oh, yes, actually -“ her mother began, a sly grin on her lips, “your aunt April is coming over today - and she’s bringing Axel and Summer with her.” Her brown eyes turned to Thorn, and her smile grew. “They love cats.”
Sera groaned, placing her face in her hands. “Great, just great. Thorn, you might want to stay in my room for this.”
Good. He was tired, anyway, and her bed was soft. He'd feel safer there, safe enough he could nap away the visit. Either of them were bound to mention him, he believed, which was good too. His whole Being a Black Neko should be enough to keep the children away from him. Thorn wasn't at all the rabid creature most humans believed he was, but surely April, whoever that was, would keep her kids from getting near.