Brother Togo darted around behind the store, into the shadows of the alley behind the strip mall. The cry wasn't originating from there, but he could hear echoes of it from its scrounging inhabitants. He squatted next to a ginger alley cat, her back arched and fur erect defensively.
"What is it, little sister," he murmured to her, offering the outside of his left hand to her.
She bit into it, and though his eyes watered, he didn't pull back. She growled a warning cry, deep in her throat, and he waited patiently.
"You know me, little sister. What is it?"
She growled again, clenching her jaw tighter, and when her neck tightened and jerked, anyone else would have jerked away in fear, he continued to wait. Then she let go, sniffed his hand, and caressed the puncture points with her rough tongue. Though blood welled up quickly and soon dripped from his hand, Maiga smiled despite the injuring and the pain.
"No apology is necessary, little sister. It is but one more scar." Indeed, the meat of his left hand was pitted with many similar patterns of marks. "What can you tell me of the cry?"
In no words at all, only fleeting pictures that flashed through his mind between his affinity to her kind and the blood shared, Maiga Togo found himself drowning. Only when Father Fen-Lei took his arm and helped him stand did Brother Togo realize he'd blacked out. He walked in a small circle, stretching his cramped muscles, before joining the Father in their car.
"How long was I out?"
"Long enough for the ice cream to melt." Before Maiga could offer his own apology, Father Fen-Lei assured, "It's no bother. Your little friends care little about the coldness of their cream, and they were more hungry than our own sheltered creatures."
"Still, Brother Abut won't be happy."
Fen-Lei laughed. "Then Brother Abut can go shopping next time, instead of burying himself in his paperwork."