5 A New “Pet“
"I'm home!" Rei announced as she opened the door and walked into her house. She was taking off her shoes when Daisuke and Ruka appeared in front of her.
"Welcome back, Rei," Daisuke greeted. "Tonight's dinner is tempura and miso soup."
"That sounds good, thank you, Daisuke."
"And now please explain why that thing is here?" Ruka asked, looking down at the fox wiping its paws on the doormat next to Rei's feet.
"Well, this is Inari-chan," Rei started.
"Oh, good, you named it as well; and an uncreative name too," Ruka deadpanned.
"He was my first client," Rei added. "Technically, he was looking for Shuichi-san for help. Apparently, he knew the Ohtori family from when they were tending to the temple next to his."
"So he's one of the guardians at an Inari shrine?" Daisuke asked, kneeling down to pet the fox.
"Why is he here then?" Ruka asked.
"Well, I got bored out there by myself," Inari said easily, stepping up onto the floor after wiping his paws clean. "And plus, I get more regular supplies of snack this way."
"We don't really have that much snacks," Ruka said with a sigh. "Rei isn't a snacker."
"I'll buy some," Rei said, petting Inari together with Daisuke. "Now come on. Don't scratch the furniture."
"I'm not a cat," Inari said indignantly. He trotted off to the living room and settled down on one of the couch cushions. "Ah, this is nice. Come on, Rei. Eat your dinner and then come sit with me."
"Why is he such a needy pet?" Ruka asked. "Can't you shove him off to Ohtori?"
"Shuichi-san suggested that Inari come with me," Rei said, walking over towards the fox. She picked it up and squeezed it tight. "Inari's so cuddly, see?"
"So he's to stand in for a stuffed doll?" Ruka asked disbelievingly.
"Not really, but Inari brings good luck, remember?" Rei asked. "The god Inari, not this Inari specifically."
"Sure, keep him, but he's your responsibility," Ruka said with a sigh. "I've had my hands full with your first pet."
"I'm not a pet!" Daisuke complained.
"Oh, why are you so sure I was talking about you then?" Ruka teased.
"Ruka, play nice…"
"Good morning!" Nagisa greeted as she walked into the Kurosaki residence. Rei finally decided to give her a spare key because she dropped by every morning so she could walk to school together with Rei.
"Good morning, Nagisa," Rei greeted. "Oh, good morning, Shuichi-san."
"Morning," Shuichi greeted with a smile.
"Do you have morning practice now?" Rei asked.
"Yes, the mats have dried quicker than we thought," Shuichi replied. "How is Inari?"
"I'm fine!" Inari exclaimed cheerily. "Daisuke is a good cook! Human snacks are good as well."
"I'm glad you're enjoying your stay here," Shuichi said as he smiled at Inari. "So look after Rei, okay?"
"Sure!" Inari agreed, then returned to eating his breakfast porridge.
"So, I'm assuming your first case went well?" Nagisa asked.
"It wasn't really a case," Rei replied. "A monkey stole Inari's offering and we caught the monkey. It was released back into the woods, but now Inari is staying with us."
"Well, at least it's not lonely, right?" Nagisa asked with a soft smile. "Now you have a lot more friends than just us."
"Yeah," Rei agreed. "Thank you."
"Let's go then," Nagisa said, grabbing Rei's hand. "We're off now. Be good at home!"
"See ya!" Daisuke and Inari exclaimed as they waved at the three.
"Have fun at school," Ruka said as she patted Rei's head.
"Thanks," Rei said. "I'll see you guys tonight."
Nagisa and Rei walked off, and Shuichi glanced at Ruka.
"Thanks for looking after Rei."
Ruka huffed. "I was there before you," she said indignantly, then stared at Nagisa and Rei. "It's not like I can leave that girl alone."
"True," Shuichi said. "Well, I better catch up with them now."
Ruka watched as Shuichi walked off to join Nagisa and Rei, and sighed. "Those two kids…"