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The Garden of Earthly Delights
My Mind Is My Best Friend And My Worst Enemy
Tell Me That You Want Me (I'll Stay) (girl!TaoSoo) [1/2] 
28th-Sep-2014 10:16 pm
Title: Tell Me That You Want Me (I'll Stay) [1/2]
Pairing: girl!Tao/girl!Kyungsoo, side girl!Lu Han/girl!Chen
Rating: NC-17
Genre(s): smut, romance, angst, fluff
Warning(s): catgirl!Tao, catgirl!Chen, humans (hybrids) as property, slight D/s elements
Word Count: 13,455 overall
Summary: Kyungsoo never wanted a hybrid, but enter Lu Han's meddling and Zitao's sweet smile, and Kyungsoo might end up changing her mind.
Written for Round 2 at femmexo for the prompt kitty likes to dress up all pretty for her mistress.

Part 1 | Part 2

------------------

"Come on, you deserve to relax a little," Lu Han told her, sprawled on Kyungsoo's leather couch with her feet over the back of it.

"I do relax," Kyungsoo defended with a scowl, "On the weekends."

"And how is that?" Lu Han challenged, "With a crossword puzzle."

Kyungsoo glared, "Well, I
try, but then I get interrupted by certain people."

Lu Han grinned like she'd been given a compliment.

"I'm making sure you interact with people who aren't lawyers," she informed her, "It's very important for your mental health."

"Last time I checked, you were a writer, not a psychologist."

"I would have made an amazing psychologist, but whatever."

Kyungsoo rolled her eyes.

"Anyway, my point is, getting a cat would be good for you," Lu Han told her, rolling off the couch and landing on the ground with a thump, "Companionship, happiness,
et cetera."

“Okay,
first of all,” Kyungsoo started, not even bothering to comment on the fact that Lu Han was currently on the floor, "You're not suggesting I get a cat. You're suggesting I get a catgirl. And secondly, I'm not even a pet person.”

“You say that like you're a people person,” Lu Han snorted. Having crawled back on the couch to sit like a normal person.

“Exactly, so why would I want a catgirl when I don't want a pet and don't really like people?”

“Because you clearly don't get proper socialization anywhere else, so it would be good for you,” Lu Han reiterated.

Kyungsoo was not convinced.

“I know you're really happy with Jongdae, but having a catgirl just isn't for everyone, okay?”

Lu Han huffed, clearly disappointed by Kyungsoo's reaction to her suggestion.

But Kyungsoo hadn't asked for advice. She was perfectly content the way she was and that was that.

Except with Lu Han, it was never so simple.

---

Kyungsoo should have known better. She really should have.

Dismissing a conversation with Lu Han didn't mean it was over. It just meant that they'd stopped talking about it for the time being.

Usually, Lu Han would just bring it up again later and bug her.

This time...this time Kyungsoo came home from work and nearly had a heart attack because she could tell someone had been in her apartment. And then there was the fact that she could hear some sort of...crying? (whimpering?
yowling?) coming from her bedroom.

Considering a burglar probably wouldn't be crying, Kyungsoo surmised that she probably wasn't in any danger. But with that out of the way, this reeked of Lu Han. Why had she given her a key to her apartment?

With trepidation, Kyungsoo made her way to her bedroom and peered around the door frame to see...a girl, a catgirl (she should have known), curled up in her bed with the blankets a mess around her, gripping handfuls of the sheet as she cried.

She looked fully grown (so she must have been a year old, at least, in human years- the age at which hybrids matured and started to age at the same rate as humans) and had shiny black hair that came down to her waist with sleek black ears perched atop her head and a matching black tail that was curled around herself.

Kyungsoo imagined that she was probably incredibly striking, but at the moment, all she could focus on was the tears streaking down her face and the way she hunkered down in fear when she caught sight of Kyungsoo.

Opening her mouth to offer some sort of reassurance to the crying creature, Kyungsoo realized that she had nothing and snapped it shut again.

She tried again, "Um...hi. I'm Kyungsoo? I live here..."

The catgirl seemed to relax a little at that. Apparently she recognized the name and at least knew that Kyungsoo wasn't a danger.

"I...I'll be right back," she said, intending to go call Lu Han before thinking of something else, "Do you need anything?"

The catgirl shook her head, sniffling and whimpering quietly.

Kyungsoo mentally cursed Lu Han for bringing this poor girl into her schemes. She'd obviously gotten this catgirl from...somewhere and just left her alone in Kyungoo's home. Her friend had terrible ideas sometimes. Most of the time.

"Okay, I'll be right back, okay?" she said, slowly backing out of the room and trying not to further traumatize the girl even though she had no idea what she was doing.

The catgirl nodded and Kyungsoo hurried back into the kitchen to get her cell phone from her purse.

"What the fuck, Lu Han?" she hissed as soon as her friend picked up.

"Hello to you to," Lu Han scoffed.

"Lu Han!" Kyungsoo quietly exclaimed, "You left a catgirl in my apartment without telling me and you want a proper greeting?"

"Isn't she gorgeous?" Lu Han asked, ignoring the fact the Kyungsoo was obviously not pleased, "When I saw her, I had to get her for you."

Kyungsoo kind of couldn't believe she was having this conversation. But then again, it was Lu Han, so she could.

"Lu Han.
You left a catgirl in my house."

"Surprise!" Lu Han crowed and Kyungsoo wanted to bang her head against the kitchen table.

"What am I supposed to do with her?" she demanded.

"I dunno," Lu Han said, sounding annoyed that Kyungsoo would even ask her such a ridiculous question, "Talk to her, feed her...be nice to her! I think she's sensitive."

Well, no shit.

"Where did she even come from?"

"One of the most reputable breeders in the city," Lu Han told her proudly.

"Give me the number," Kyungsoo said, exasperated.

"Why?"

"I can't
keep her!" she whispered, making sure to stay quiet since she could still hear soft crying from her bedroom.

"Sure you can!" Lu Han insisted, like there was no problem with this at all, "Anyway, Jongdae is hungry. I have to order food."

"Lu Han-"

"Bye!"

Lu Han hung up and Kyungsoo glared at her phone for a minute before remembering that there was a petrified catgirl in her bedroom that she needed to do something with. She could (and would) deal with Lu Han later.

Taking a deep breath, she headed back to her bedroom, peering in at the distressed catgirl again.

She seemed a little calmer now than she had when Kyungsoo had just gotten home, so that was good, but her cheeks were still wet with tears and her tail was wrapped tightly around her waist, fingers still clenched in the bedding.

"I'm sorry Lu Han just left you here alone," she started, slowly making her way over to the bed, so as not to startle the catgirl, "She's kind of an idiot."

Kyungsoo saw a slight twitch of the girl's mouth that might have been almost an attempt at a smile and it sent relief through her. At least they could bond over Lu Han's stupidity.

"What's your name?" she carefully asked, standing at the edge of the bed and trying to decide if she should sit down or not.

The catgirl sniffed and took a shaky breath before replying softly, "Zitao."

She was looking up at Kyungsoo with watery, vulnerable eyes, and Kyungsoo found herself sinking down onto the edge of the bed and reaching out a tentative hand to soothingly stroke her shoulder.

The sudden rumbling purr that sounded from Zitao's throat startled Kyungsoo enough that she nearly jerked her hand back before she realized what it was.

She probably wasn't used to spending so much time alone. Who knew when Lu Han had brought her over? She could have been sitting in Kyungsoo's apartment for hours.

"Lu Han said you came from a breeder?" Kyungsoo asked, trying to get a sense of what Zitao was used to. Sitting alone in strange apartments didn't seem to be on the short list of things Zitao usually did.

Zitao nodded, looking like she was fighting against leaning into Kyungsoo's touch, even as she continued to purr.

"Have you ever been away from there before?"

Zitao shook her head before quietly adding, "Just to go to the doctor."

"Did you usually spend time with other hybrids there?" Kyungsoo asked, getting brave and reaching up to stroke Zitao's hair, scratching at the base of her ears and smiling to herself when Zitao couldn't help herself from bending to give Kyungsoo better access.

Zitao nodded, purring increasing in volume as her tail gradually loosened its hold on her torso to flick back and forth lazily.

It was kind of relaxing to pet Zitao and watch how the tension drained from Zitao too.

"Are you hungry?" she asked and Zitao paused for a moment before nodding again.

"Okay, how about we find you something to eat and then you can sleep. You must be exhausted."

Zitao smiled at her, small and timid, but so sweet, and Kyungsoo was so happy to see that facial expression after all the tears.

She just had to get Zitao through the night comfortably and then she could look into taking her back tomorrow.


---
Kyungsoo could see her phone lighting up where she had it sitting on her chair, safely out of sight of the rest of the meeting's attendees.

She'd told Zitao that she had an important meeting that day with the new company that her firm represented that would take a couple of hours at least. But without even checking her phone, she knew that it was Zitao texting her. No one else would text her eight times in five minutes. Well, maybe Lu Han, but she'd still put her money on Zitao.

Truthfully, she usually sighed at Zitao's excessive texting and calling, but she secretly thought it was kind of cute. Just the fact that she had things she thought were so important that they couldn't wait until Kyungsoo got home made her chuckle to herself.

But she'd never tell Zitao that. Mostly just because she knew that Zitao would just text her even more. And if that happened, she really would be annoyed, rather than endeared.

Watching as her phone lit up again, Kyungsoo brought her attention to the task at hand. She had a presentation to make to the company's president, vice-president, and financial advisers.
Whatever it was that Zitao was so excited about would have to wait.

---

Kyungsoo had intended to set up Zitao in the guest bedroom, but when she'd told Zitao that she meant for her to sleep alone, the catgirl had panicked- fearful eyes tearing and a whimper escaping her throat.

"You've never slept alone, have you?" Kyungsoo had guessed, and Zitao had shook her head, clutching the pajamas Kyungsoo had given her too her chest.

Kyungsoo wasn't really keen on having a stranger in her bed with her, but she couldn't bring herself to make her sleep alone.

So, she'd allowed a grateful Zitao to share her queen sized bed.

It was only temporary anyway, she told herself.

The following day, she called Lu Han as soon as she got to work, intent on getting the number of the breeder where she had gotten Zitao.

But of course, she couldn't get a hold of Lu Han all day- finally getting a text with the breeder's number when she was on the subway on her way home from work that evening at nearly six o'clock.

She didn't even know if they would answer their phone so late in the day, but she still tried after dinner when Zitao was in the living room, splayed on the couch, and watching something on TV.

To her surprise, someone picked up.

"Hello? I'm calling about a hybrid my friend purchased from you yesterday," she told them, hoping that the process of returning Zitao to the breeder wasn't going to be a huge hassle.

"Is there a problem?" the voice on the phone asked.

"Yes. Well, no. You see, my friend purchased the hybrid for me without checking with me first, so I'm going to need to return her to you."

"I'm sorry, but that won't be possible," the voice said matter-of-factly.

"Excuse me?" she asked, dumbfounded. She hadn't expected outright refusal.

"It is against our policy to take back any hybrids after they've been sold."

"But-" Kyungsoo was at a loss, "I wasn't the one who purchased her."

"We cannot take her back," the voice reiterated, and Kyungsoo started to panic.

"I don't need a refund," she tried, because whatever- Lu Han could deal, "I just want to bring her back."

"We cannot take back any hybrids after they've been sold," the voice repeated and Kyungsoo felt her patience snap.

"What am I supposed to
do then?" she demanded, still trying to keep her voice down, "I can't keep her!"

"Then you'll have to take her to a shelter."

"There has to be
something you can do!" Kyungsoo insisted.

"If you need any resources for how to care of your hybrid, please give us a call."

That was a dismissal if Kyungsoo had ever heard one.

She said goodbye hollowly, still reeling.

She'd never imagined that she wouldn't be able to return Zitao. She had been prepared for a lot of paperwork and possibly not being able to get Lu Han's money back, but she hadn't been prepared for an unwavering
no.

The only option seemed to be taking her to a shelter, but...Kyungsoo couldn't do that. She couldn't take this poor girl who'd already been taken from the only home she'd known and deposit her in a shelter, which would, no doubt, be far less comfortable than what she was used to. Who knew how long she'd have to stay there, in a cramped room with just the bare essentials, until someone adopted her? And what if she got adopted by someone awful?

Kyungsoo had a heart, even if Lu Han liked to claim she didn't. She couldn't do that to Zitao.

So that left...keeping her.

Kyungsoo took a deep breath.

She'd never intended to get a hybrid- not now and not in the future. But it appeared that she no longer had a choice in the matter.

She was going to
kill Lu Han.

At least, she reasoned with herself, she could afford to take care of Zitao's expenses and meet her needs.

Maybe she wasn't the best person in the world to take care of her, but she couldn't risk Zitao ending up with someone worse.

She'd just have to figure it out. She'd make it work. She had to.


---

Kyungsoo sat at her desk trying to finish up the paperwork her boss had given her that afternoon.

She'd be able to leave at her regular time, in an hour, if she finished all of it.

Despite the fact that she'd told Zitao that when she'd responded to one of her many texts (one she'd sent after lunch in which she sent a photo of the leftovers she'd warmed up in the microwave for herself, as if Kyungsoo wasn't the one who'd cooked the food to begin with), Zitao was still texting her three hours later. About what? Kyungsoo didn't know because she'd been very pointedly not checking her phone. Not that she didn't want to see how many selcas Zitao had sent her since she'd last looked, but because she just wanted to get her work done so she could go home and see Zitao in person.

Whatever it was, it could surely wait.

But when her phone buzzed six times in one minute, Kyungsoo sighed a picked her phone up from where it was sitting in the corner of her desk.

The most recent three texts read:

When are you getting home?

How's work going? ~~

I emailed you the link to a funny video I saw on youtube ^^


Kyungsoo sighed again, but couldn't ignore the slight, involuntary quirk of her lips.

She could imagine Zitao sitting at home on their couch, wriggling around impatiently and making pouty faces as she texted her and Kyungsoo didn't respond.

Despite the image she presented to the world, she was kind of soft at heart. Secretly. And only when it came to Zitao.

Taozi, she chided via text, I can't watch videos now if you want me to hurry up and get home.

The reply was immediate.

Okay~ Hurry, please~

Kyungsoo smiled to herself. She couldn't help that she found it endearing that Zitao managed to miss her when she'd only been gone for a matter of hours.

But the next text, which popped up before her phone screen had even turned off, had heat rushing through her.

Mistress~

Just one word and Kyungsoo could feel her body reacting.

Some hybrids were made to call their owner master or mistress, but that was not something that Kyungsoo had ever required of Zitao. Behaving like Zitao was a lesser being made her uncomfortable, so the last thing she'd ever wanted was for Zitao to have to call her something like mistress.

And Zitao never had- had never even tried when Kyungsoo had first gotten her.

Then, one day some months after their relationship had evolved to include intimacy and sex (something else Kyungoo had never thought she'd want), Zitao had gasped out mistress in the bedroom with a wicked gleam in her eye and Kyungsoo couldn't help how she'd shivered in response- if only because of the way Zitao managed to make everything sexy.

But because Kyungsoo was so concerned about Zitao thinking that she was lesser somehow, she had asked her about it later. She didn't want Zitao calling her that because she thought she had to or because she thought it would make Kyungsoo happy.

Fortunately, Zitao had been quick to tell her that wasn't the case. Rather, she'd informed her that she'd been thinking (with her hand between her legs while Kyungsoo was at work, more often than not) about what it would be like to have Kyungsoo control her in the bedroom. It was kind of funny because Kyungsoo knew that if she tried to control Zitao outside the bedroom, it would not go over well. So, it was a good thing she didn't have any desire to.

In the bedroom, however, Zitao wanted her to order her around and tell her what she was allowed to do and praise her when she did a good job. It had still worried Kyungsoo a bit because she was so careful to avoid a pet/owner relationship with Zitao. But Zitao had eventually worn her down with lots of persuasive speech making outside of the bedroom and lots of begging with half lidded eyes and breathy moans in the bedroom.

So, embarrassingly, just the utterance of the word mistress from Zitao had Kyungsoo's mind skyrocketing to Zitao looking up at her with her dark hair spread out on her pillow and her lips swollen from kisses.

Kyungsoo took a deep breath. She had more control than to let herself be completely thrown off by one word in a text message. As powerful of a word as it was. Her patience was something that allowed her to keep her wits when Zitao was coming apart at the seams.

Carefully placing her phone back in the corner of her desk, Kyungsoo looked back at the contracts in front of her.

Work now. She'd deal with Zitao later.

---

It had been two weeks and Kyungsoo had done everything she could to make Zitao comfortable, but it seemed that Zitao wasn't getting any more used to living with her.

The catgirl seemed to pull into herself more each day, not wanting to talk and not even letting Kyungsoo pet her like she had the first night. Though she still slept in Kyungsoo's bed, Zitao seemed to want nothing to do with her otherwise.

Kyungsoo was at a loss.

She'd called Lu Han and asked for advice, but Lu Han had just told her to be nicer and that she was probably giving Zitao judgmental stares without meaning to, because apparently, that's just what she did.

As it often was, Lu Han's advice was useless.

Kyungsoo's only remaining option was to talk to Zitao and get her to tell her what was wrong. Maybe she really missed her old home. Or Kyungsoo was doing something to make her uncomfortable.

She just hoped that Zitao would tell her so she could do her best to fix it.

Getting a hybrid may not have been in Kyungsoo's plans, but now that she had one, she was determined to be a good owner.

“Zitao,” she said, carefully sitting down on the couch a few feet away from the catgirl one night after dinner, “Can I talk to you?”

The fear that flashed behind Zitao's eyes took Kyungsoo completely off guard. Was Zitao afraid of her? What could she have done to have instilled that kind of reaction in Zitao?

“I'm worried about you,” Kyungsoo told her honestly and Zitao looked dejected, “It just seems like you're not settling in well and I want to know what I can do to...” she trailed off, “Zitao? Why are you crying?”

Sometime in the middle of that sentence, fat tears had started rolling down Zitao's cheeks and Kyungsoo found herself feeling helpless to do anything. She had been trying so hard to make Zitao comfortable, but it seemed that everything she did just made the catgirl even more unhappy.

“I'm sorry,”Zitao sobbed, “I'll do better. I promise.”

Kyungsoo frowned, “Do better? Do better at what?”

“Anything,” Zitao told her earnestly, “Tell me what you want from me, and I'll try. Please don't send me away.”

Zitao's face crumpled further at the end of her plea, sobs shaking her shoulders as she hiccuped and sniffled.

Kyungsoo was dumbfounded. Had she made Zitao feel like she had failed her in some way?

“Send you away?” she questioned, leaning forward but hesitating to create any contact between them since Zitao had been shying away from her so often.

“I know you don't want me,” Zitao said, voice breaking and breath short, “I know you tried to send me back to the breeder, but they wouldn't take me. I heard you on the phone. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been listening but-” she broke off to inhale shakily- the exhale catching on a sob.

Kyungsoo felt like the biggest piece of shit on the planet. She'd never meant for Zitao to hear that conversation. Because none of this was her fault. It was Lu Han's fault, mostly. And her own fault. Zitao had done absolutely nothing wrong, and yet here she was, sobbing in Kyungsoo's living room because she thought she was inadequate.

Kyungsoo's heart was breaking with every tear that slid down Zitao's cheeks.

“I'm so sorry,” were the first words out of her mouth, “I didn't know you heard that phone call...I don't want you to have to be something for me. You haven't done anything wrong, okay?”

Zitao sniffled in response, not meeting her eyes.

“It's true that I...I wasn't looking to get a hybrid. So, when I came home and you were here, I was really unprepared. But that wasn't your fault!” she assured her, “And so I thought the best thing would be to let you go back to breeder where you'd get to be adopted by someone who could be a better owner to you. Obviously, that didn't work out, but it wasn't that I didn't
want you.”

And despite how angry she'd been at Lu Han and how panicked she'd been to have a hybrid suddenly thrust into her life, she'd never felt like she didn't want Zitao. She'd just felt like she couldn't keep her.

“But now that you're here,” Kyungsoo went on, hoping so much that Zitao would stop crying because she felt like she might just start crying and she
never cried, “I really want to be the best owner that I can be for you. I want to make this work.”

Zitao still wasn't looking at her and Kyungsoo abruptly remembered how Zitao had been avoiding her.

“Unless you don't want to stay here,” she added, regretful that she might have managed to hurt Zitao enough that she would never want anything to do with her, “In which case...I don't know what we'll do, but we'll figure out something. I won't take you to a shelter, or anything. We'll just...have to find another home for you. Somehow.”

“No!”

Kyungsoo was startled by the sudden outburst after Zitao had avoided even looking at her the entire time she'd been talking.

“Please. I want to stay here.”

Zitao seemed to shrink back into herself then, like maybe she shouldn't have said that.
“Okay,” Kyungsoo agreed, eyes wide as she watched Zitao look at her in surprise, “You can stay here. I know I haven't been the greatest owner so far, but I'll do my best.”

“You're a good owner!” Zitao insisted, looking scandalized by Kyungsoo saying otherwise.

Kyungsoo couldn't help but snort, lips quirking sardonically.

“I don't think good owners make their...pets?” that word didn't seem quite right, but Zitao didn't appear to have any aversion to it, “feel like they're not wanted.”

Zitao shrugged and mumbled, “I like you.”

Kyungsoo didn't know how that was possible. She'd caused Zitao so much hurt. But the fact that Zitao still seemed to like her had her feeling warm.

“I like you too,” Kyungsoo told her and Zitao's head snapped up in surprise.

Kyungsoo found herself smiling at how adorable she was.

Before she could think better of it, she held out an arm- an invitation for Zitao to come lean into her side like she'd seen Jongdae do with Lu Han so many times.

Zitao looked cautious, but she scooted over, carefully relaxing into Kyungsoo's side.

It was a bit different than when Jongdae cuddled up to Lu Han considering Zitao was possibly an entire foot taller than her, but the feeling of Zitao's warm weight against her had her relaxing as well.

As she played with Zitao's hair as they watched TV and Zitao purred- rumbling against her side- Kyungsoo felt like they were going to be okay.


---

Letting herself into her apartment, Kyungsoo was surprised when she wasn't immediately accosted by a needy, clingy catgirl.

But Zitao hadn't texted her since she'd responded to Kyungsoo's text that she was coming home, so maybe she'd found something to occupy herself.

"Zitao?" she called out, stepping out of her shoes and hanging her purse from the back of one of the kitchen chairs, "I'm home."

"Don't come in the bedroom!" was Zitao's frantic reply, and Kyungsoo paused, confused.

"...why?"

"I'm not done getting ready!" Zitao yelled, sounding harried and Kyungsoo couldn't help but snort.

What did Zitao have to get ready for anyway?

And it wasn't like they were on a time schedule.

Rolling her eyes fondly, Kyungsoo shrugged out of her blazer and rolled up her shirt sleeves.

"Okay, I won't come in," she assured her, walking over to the freezer in stocking-clad feet to get out the chicken she'd bought the week prior, "I'm just going to start dinner!"

"Okay!" Zitao called brightly, "Be out soon!"

Kyungsoo chuckled quietly to herself. Zitao was definitely...unique. But she loved her all the same.

---

With everything on the table, things started to get better. Zitao no longer avoided Kyungsoo when she was home from work- answering the questions Kyungsoo peppered her with with a shy smile.

As more time went by, Zitao began to be the one instigating their conversations- telling Kyungsoo about the other hybrids she knew from the breeder, about something she'd seen online that day, or asking about Kyungsoo's job- and Kyungsoo wondered how she ever could have thought Zitao was quiet. The way she enthusiastically told Kyungsoo about even the smallest thing made Kyungsoo smile.

The first few weeks saw Zitao hesitantly sitting down next to Kyungsoo on the couch and smiling brightly when Kyungsoo initiated any physical contact. After she became more comfortable, however, Zitao would crowd into Kyungsoo's space regardless of what Kyungsoo was doing and demand attention. She couldn't even count the times when she'd been on the couch with a book and Zitao had draped herself across her lap, squirming around until Kyungsoo began to stroke her ears.

Going from living alone to having a clingy, chatty catgirl trailing around behind her was quite a change, but as much as Kyungsoo loathed to admit when Lu Han was right, she couldn't deny how much happier she'd become since Zitao came into her life.

But just because she felt it, didn't mean she told Lu Han. Because Lu Han was annoying enough.

Still, she found herself talking a lot about Zitao when she spoke with her best friend- the two of them swapping stories about Zitao and Jongdae.

“See, you think Jongdae is just so nice, but she'll suddenly just come out with the most biting remarks,” Lu Han was telling her, “And I swear she's always there when I do something stupid and she'll never let me forget it.”

“I think it's more that you do stupid stuff all the time,” Kyungsoo ventured to guess and Lu Han made a face at her, bringing her coffee cup to her lips.

“You know, it's weird,” Kyungsoo mused when Lu Han didn't immediately jump in with another anecdote, “I know she's part cat, but sometimes I'll forget until she does something really feline.”

Lu Han nodded, so Kyungsoo was encouraged to continue.

“Like, I never even thought about the fact that most cats hate water in regards to hybrids, but Zitao hates showering alone.”

Lu Han's eyes widened at that as her lips quirked, facial expression quickly turning suggestive.

“You shower with her?” she asked, waggling her eyebrows and Kyungsoo kept herself from reaching across the table to punch Lu Han on the arm.

“I sit in the bathroom,” Kyungsoo clarified.

“What good does that do?” Lu Han snorted.

“She's afraid to shower alone so she's talks to me while she does it,” Kyungsoo informed her, brows furrowing, “Jongdae isn't afraid to shower by herself?”

“No,” Lu Han laughed, “She's perfectly okay with showering alone. Of course, that doesn't mean we never shower
together...

“Too much information,” Kyungsoo told her flatly, holding up a hand as Lu Han cackled.

“She's really got you wrapped around her finger, doesn't she?” Lu Han asked, looking supremely pleased with herself.

Kyungsoo blinked at her with as much disdain as she could muster.

“Look, if she's scared to shower alone, I'm not going to force her to and scar her.”

Lu Han shrugged, still seeming smug.

“Is she scared of the dark too? Does she sleep in your bed with you?” she joked and Kyungsoo frowned, “Oh my god, she does!”

“She's sensitive,” Kyungsoo defended, parroting the words Lu Han had told her when she'd first come home to find Zitao in her bed.

Lu Han grinned, but dropped it, going on to complain about how difficult Jongdae had been that morning, unwilling to let Lu Han get out of bed for an hour after her alarm had gone off.

Even so, it was pretty clear that Zitao wasn't your average hybrid as far as her quirks. It figured that Kyungsoo, who typically had no time for anyone's nonsense, ended up with the neediest catgirl known to man. But despite the fact that she could have had a catgirl who
didn't need Kyungsoo to sit in the bathroom while she showered and who didn't walk around attached to Kyungsoo after she'd watched something she deemed scary on TV, Kyungsoo didn't feel any regret that it was Zitao that she'd come home to find in her apartment.

Zitao was needy and clingy and sensitive, but she was
hers. And that thought didn't scare Kyungsoo as much as she'd thought it would.

---

It wasn't until Kyungsoo was halfway through dinner prep that Zitao emerged from the bedroom. And it became clear what she'd meant by getting ready.

Zitao was in a green and black bra made up of lace and mesh. There was an under wire, but no padding, so it was basically sheer. She wore matching underwear that was only lined right at the crotch, so they rest was sheer like the bra. Black thigh-highs cut into the flesh of Zitao's thighs and she was wearing black patent heels with a t-strap and a peep-toe.

Her hair, which was always gorgeous and shiny, looked like it had been blown out- the ends curled in loose, bouncy curls that framed Zitao's flawless cleavage.

Zitao had even amped up her usual makeup look with deep pewter shadow and dramatic liner that had her eyes looking even more feline than usual.

She was a sight to behold and Kyungsoo was amazed, not for the first time, that this woman was hers to kiss and touch, and that Zitao seemed to want her just as much. More, sometimes.

But for as enticing as her visage was, Kyungsoo was just as endeared as she was aroused. The fact that Zitao had spent all of this time getting dressed up for her was really sweet. Kyungsoo honestly could not have cared less whether or not Zitao was in lingerie or a princess costume (that had happened once) or sweat pants or a snowsuit. And she made sure that Zitao knew it.

Nonetheless, Zitao loved to dress up for her and Kyungsoo certainly couldn't complain. At least as long as it didn't endanger anyone (Kyungsoo could recall a particular time when Zitao had insisted on keeping her heels on during sex and nearly poked Kyungsoo's eye out).

"So?" Zitao prompted, leaning against the kitchen table to give Kyungsoo an opportunity to fully take in her get-up.

Kyungsoo raised her eyebrows in amusement, giving the once-over she knew Zitao was waiting for even though she'd already absorbed how Zitao looked from head to toe when she'd stepped into the kitchen.

“You look gorgeous as always, Taozi,” she told her and held back the laugh when Zitao pouted at the response. She knew that Zitao wanted her to drop everything and ravish her that very instant. But Kyungsoo preferred to make her wait, liking to watch Zitao squirm and huff for a while before she gave her what she wanted. Plus, she knew that it would be so much better once Zitao eventually got her way and dragged Kyungsoo off to the bedroom.

“But I've been waiting all day,” Zitao whined and Kyungsoo's lips quirked.

“Then why don't you help me with dinner so it's finished faster?”

Zitao sighed, but came over to stand next to Kyungsoo where she was chopping up some bell peppers.

“You can put olive oil in that pan,” Kyungsoo told her, gesturing toward the stove.

Zitao blinked at the empty pan, ears flicking in discontent.

“Or don't,” Kyungsoo amended, “But if you're not going to, please move so I'm not bumping into you while I'm trying to cook.”

“I'm going,” Zitao muttered, tail swishing and almost hitting Kyungsoo on the arm.

Zitao did, indeed, help. Kind of.

Though the whole time she alternated between sighing and trying to enticingly position her body- bending over and waving her ass in the air or leaning against the counter so her breasts were spilling over the cups of her bra.

But every time Zitao pressed her tits together or stretched her arms over her head to make her waist look smaller, Kyungsoo just looked at her impassively and gave her another task to do- biting back a smile at the ensuing pouts.

As Kyungsoo finished up their meal, Zitao seemed adamant about pressing as much of herself against Kyungsoo as possible. First she melded against Kyungsoo's back, nuzzling into the back of her neck. Then when Kyungsoo had to move away to get the chicken out of the oven, Zitao followed her and latched onto her arm- flicking her tail so it hit the backs of Kyungsoo's knees.

"Zitao, if you don't move, I'm going to end up burning you," Kyungsoo warned her, waiting until Zitao let go with a huff before opening the oven door to get their food.

But Zitao was back with her chin hooked over Kyungsoo's shoulder as she served up their portions and set the plates down on the table.

"Ready to eat?" she asked, not expecting any sort of enthusiasm since Zitao seemed to have only one thing on her mind.

Still, Zitao sat down at the table and began to eat, gaining speed as she went until Kyungsoo was left staring at her in amazement with her fork poised midair as Zitao shoveled food into her mouth.

Zitao had always had a healthy appetite, but this was ridiculous.

"You'll make yourself sick," she chided, cutting another bite of chicken for herself, "Slow down."

Zitao looked at her- cheeks bulging with food and Kyungsoo barely contained the laugh that rose at the sight. For someone who'd spent the last hour trying to look as sexy as possible, she certainly had taken a dramatic turn.

"Wanna finish fast," was what Kyungsoo was pretty sure she said, though it was hard to tell since she was speaking with her mouth full of food.

"I got that," she informed her with a judgmental raise of her brows and a quirk of her lips, "But you're not going to want to do anything if you feel like you're going to explode."

Zitao gulped down her mouthful just to tell Kyungsoo that she'd be fine with a stubborn tilt of her chin before she was eating again and Kyungsoo knew a losing battle when she saw it.

They often had nice long dinners together where they'd sit at the table for hours after they'd finished eating just talking, but today was obviously not one of those days.

Kyungsoo decided to just let Zitao do whatever it was she wanted and eat at her own pace. She couldn't force Zitao to slow down, but she wasn't going to rush through her own dinner and give herself indigestion.

---

Once Zitao had been a part of Kyungsoo's life for three months, Kyungsoo found herself more and more unable and more unwilling to imagine her life without her. She'd gotten used to coming home from work to find Zitao eagerly awaiting her arrival, immediately glomming onto her and telling her some story that it seemed she'd been bursting to tell all day. The idea of coming home to an empty apartment like she had without complaint for so long left a hollow feeling in her chest that she didn't want to think too hard about.

Still, she was aware of the fact that she'd stopped thinking of Zitao's presence as temporary and had started to view her as a permanent part of her life. She was also aware that she owed it to Zitao to let her know that her place with Kyungsoo was something she could be certain of- that Kyungsoo wanted her there and didn't plan to change her mind.

Zitao had become so much more comfortable and open with her in the past few months, but she still caught the brief flashes of insecurity on Zitao's face every once in a while, like she was worried that she'd crossed a line and Kyungsoo might tell her that she didn't want her anymore. She deserved to be able to live with the surety that her place with Kyungsoo wasn't uncertain like she seemed to think it was and that she was welcome as long as she wanted to stay.

Over the course of the past few months, Lu Han had been bugging her to get Zitao a collar or something that symbolized Kyungsoo's ownership over her. Kyungsoo had resisted simply because she wasn't comfortable with owning Zitao like she was a lesser being. But maybe it didn't have to mean that Zitao was her property. Maybe it could be a gesture to show Zitao that she was wanted and that Kyungsoo wanted her as a permanent part of her life.

Her first thought was to buy Zitao a collar as a surprise, but she quickly dismissed that idea. If there was one thing she'd learned about Zitao, it was that she was very particular. When they'd gone shopping for things for Zitao to call her own- clothes, toiletries, shoes, small decorative items for the room she rarely used- Zitao took great care in picking each item out, not hesitating to wave off any suggestions from Kyungsoo that she didn't like. So, Kyungsoo decided it would be better for Zitao to pick out her own collar.

That Saturday, Kyungsoo herded Zitao into the car (after an inordinate amount of time it had taken the catgirl to get ready to go out), telling her that she needed to pick up a few things and that Zitao could get some things for herself if she saw anything she wanted.

Zitao was chattering happily to her as they entered the department store, not even paying attention to where they were headed until Kyungsoo stopped at the small department that sold collars.

Zitao looked at the racks of collars with wide eyes, turning to Kyungsoo with parted lips and a question that she seemed unable to voice.

Suddenly Kyungsoo was worried about whether or not Zitao would even want a collar.

“Since you've been with me for more than three months now, I thought maybe you'd want a collar,” she explained, “If you don't want one, that's fine. But if you want one, you can pick one out. I don't want you to feel like you have to or that it makes you
property, but just know that you are welcome to stay with me for as long as you want to. It can be permanent, if you want.”

Zitao was still silent and Kyungsoo was getting worried that she'd misread her.

She was about to assure Zitao, again, that it was fine if she didn't want to get a collar, but then Zitao made a sound and Kyungsoo realized that she was
crying.

“What's wrong?” she asked, pulling Zitao over to the side of the walkway and away from the prying eyes of the salesgirl.

“I just-” Zitao started, sucking in a shaky breath, “Thank you.”

Then she had her arms full of a teary, warm catgirl- Zitao still murmuring thank you's into her shoulder- and Kyungsoo didn't know whether to be happy that Zitao was so touched or horrified by how unsure she must have been feeling this whole time if this was how relieved she was.

“You don't need to thank me,” she assured her, rubbing her back and feeling a little embarrassed by the attention they were getting from the other shoppers. But still, she didn't let go until Zitao pulled away to shoot her a watery smile- sniffling and wiping her eyes.

They spent two hours in the tiny corner of the department store that was devoted to collars- Zitao seeming to try on nearly every single one before finally settling on a black leather collar with brushed gold studs in the shape of diamonds.

It was a good thing Kyungsoo let Zitao pick her own collar out considering she'd turned down Kyungsoo's basic black suggestions.

As soon as Kyungsoo had paid, Zitao had asked Kyungsoo to put the collar on her- proudly wearing it as they finished their shopping and looking at herself in every reflective surface they passed.

From that day on, Zitao put her collar on every morning when she woke up- claiming to feel naked if she wasn't wearing it. Kyungsoo told her again and again that she shouldn't feel like she had to wear it, but Zitao always looked at her like she was crazy- insisting that she wanted to.

And even if Kyungsoo didn't want to admit it, seeing the strip of black leather around Zitao's throat had her chest feeling warm every time.






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