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The Cupboard Underneath

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If there’s one thing Kouda has learned, it’s that when multiple species and biological orders are involved, morality is relative. Carnivores don’t cry over their food, herbivores are resigned to a life of avoiding being food, and every species has social and behavioral practices that would be horrifying if humans had equivalents. He’s used to it.

That said, one thing that will never fade for him is that cats are Just Plain Weird.

Mika-chan, for all that she’s a cute cat with a soft coat and the purriest meow Kouda has ever had the pleasure of hearing, is no exception.

She’s what’s called a dilute calico; her colorful patches are gray and yellow instead of black and orange. Her left eye is missing. Her favorite people, she says, are Midoriya, Todoroki, Aizawa-sensei, and Kouda, in that order, though in cat language her names for them are more along the lines of “My Person,” “Warm Person,” “Nap Person,” and “Talking Person”.

That’s not the exact order, though. She also talks about someone she calls Quiet Person, and Kouda hasn’t been able to figure out who that is. As far as he knows, he’s the quietest one in class, but he’s already Talking Person, which is sort of the opposite of that. In fact, Mika talks about a lot of things that Kouda doesn’t quite understand.

Not that that’s anything new; all cats are like that. It’s sort of discouraging, like they’re all in on some big secret that no one told Kouda about.

Mika seeks him out if she wants to chat, and on this particular Saturday, she finds her way into his room, licks Ame the rabbit between the ears as she passes, and settles into his lap.

My Person is busy, she tells him. And so is Warm Person. That’s a shame. I like napping on Warm Person—no one shoos me away like when I nap on other warm things.

And that’s true, Kouda has to concede. Mika’s gotten into trouble for sleeping on laptop keyboards, sunny patches that just happen to be right underfoot, and Shout Person’s things (Shout Person is Bakugou, Kouda has gathered. She doesn’t mind being chased away from his things, though. Shout Person is so low on her list of favorites that he might as well not be on it at all.) But no one gives her grief for napping on Todoroki’s left side—least of all Todoroki.

“You aren’t getting lonely, are you?” Kouda asks.

No, she says. It is never lonely here. Ever since My Person came to get me, I have never been alone. I had to be alone when I was with My First Person, but that was not her fault.

“Your first person?” Kouda asks. “Did you have an owner before Midoriya?”

Yes, she tells him. My First Person was kind, but very busy, and besides me she was alone. She had to leave me almost every day, but it was all right because she came home in the evening and we were together until the next day.

“I see,” Kouda says.

And then one day, Mika tells him. One day My First Person did not come home at night. I waited and waited for her to come, but she did not. And then the next day I waited again, and the day after that, until I was very hungry and very thirsty.

“That’s awful,” Kouda says softly. His chest hurts at the thought of anyone leaving Mika all by herself, without any food or water.

It was awful, she agrees. But then, My Person came and found me. And, and, he brought My First Person with him! And he fed me and gave me water and I said hello to My First Person and I was very happy.

If Kouda breathes a sigh of relief, he can hardly be blamed. “Where’s your first owner now?”

She could not stay, Mika replies. She had to go away, far away, somewhere I couldn’t go with her. She asked My Person to take me to the cages, and he did. There were people there, and I was never hungry or thirsty again, but it was lonely. I was there for a lot of days, and then My Person came back for me. And he has been My Person ever since.

“That’s good.” Kouda smiles. “I’m glad Midoriya’s so nice to you.”

He is very good, she says primly. I love My Person. He brought me to Warm Person, too. And you, and Nap Person. And all the other Persons. And I get treats and scratches. I like it here.

“Except Bakugou,” Kouda murmurs. “Um, I mean Shout Person.”

Shout Person is awful.

“He’s not… that bad.” Kouda’s not sure why he feels he needs to come to his classmate’s defense; it’s not like Bakugou would care about a cat’s opinion of him. “How come you don’t like him?”

He is loud and does not like me, because of My Person, Mika says indignantly. He is cruel to My Person.

“He’s like that with everyone, though,” Kouda points out.

No, not everyone, Mika argues. Quiet Person told me so. Shout Person did something terrible to My Person, a long time ago before I was born, when I was not there to protect him. But she said not to tell, so don’t get me in trouble.

“My lips are sealed,” Kouda murmurs, but in his mind he thinks, What’s this about? “Wait, so… Quiet Person knows Midoriya?”

Of course she knows him, Mika says. She is his best friend.

His first thought is that perhaps Quiet Person is Uraraka. But that can’t be right—Uraraka is not quiet, and Mika already calls her Float Person. It can't be Todoroki either, because he's Warm Person.

She must be a friend of his from middle school, or grade school even. Maybe it’s someone none of them have met before.

But still, Mika continues. Shout Person is not the worst. I can tolerate him. Hot Person is the worst. If he comes near me or My Person or anyone else, I will bite him, no matter what.

“You shouldn’t bite people,” Kouda says, though he doesn’t phrase it like an order. “Who’s Hot Person?”

I don’t want to talk about him. I hate him and as long as he is not here, then here is a good place.

She settles down in his lap, kneading as he continues to stroke her. She’s an odd, fickle creature, and sometimes what she says makes no sense. But she loves her owner, and she’s fond of his friends, and that’s good enough for Kouda. He is left with curious questions, but a soft, purring cat in his lap more than makes up for it.