Thud rustle clatterclatter scrape. Rustlerustleclatterclatterscrrraaaapppe. Thud.
Reverberating through a deserted parking garage, these are noises most people move away from. Dean Winchester was not most people.
He moved towards the approaching sounds with cautious confidence. The noises stopped as soon as he eased past the blind corner.
There was no one visible.
He waited. Maybe just a rat, but those weren't rat noises. Running rats were quiet. Stationary rats were usually gnawing on something.
Thudthudthud scrrraaaapppe. A flicker of movement near the Thunderbird that squatted on four rotted flats. Curiosity won out over aversion to rodents. Dean crept closer, ready to bolt or stomp.
He laughed instead, and reached down to capture the small furry creature. "Hey there-- got yourself in a fix, huh?"
The kitten wriggled in his hold, the plastic cup on its head knocking against his hands as it tried once more to paw it off.
"Here... hold still."
A gentle twist and tug released the kitten's head and a strong scent of vanilla. It panted, its blue-tinged nose and tongue turning pinker with every breath.
"You're down to eight do-overs now, squirt. A few more minutes and you'd be a goner." He glanced around, and seeing no one in sight, Dean lifted the little cat up eye to eye. "Christos!"
The cat blinked at Dean like he'd just sneezed in its face.
Dean shook his head at his own paranoia. "Ok. That's out of the way. What I am gonna do with you? Can't just put you down and walk off. You're lucky you made it this far without getting turned into a grease spot out on the road. Guess you can stay the night. I'll take you to the Shelter tomorrow."
The kitten mewed and settled into his hold as if agreeing to that plan.
"You're getting a bath, though. Pudding makes lousy hair-gel and I don't want you givin' Sam and George fleas." As he pushed the button, he glanced back down at the fluffy little ball in his hand. "I'm talking to a cat... I'm officially a washed-up geezer at thirty-three."
Big blue eyes blinked up at him. The kitten licked clinging pudding off its whiskers. When the elevator doors squeaked open, it hissed and bolted up his jacket sleeve to perch on his shoulder.
Dean left it there for the ride up. "Don't smear that mess on my hair."
The little cat made itself comfortable and purred in his ear.
He opened the apartment door to familiar greetings: the smell of cooking, the jingling of George's tags, and Sam's cheerful "Hey, Dean!" from the kitchen. Everything veered off the comfortable domestic script after that, because instead of jumping up to get his evening ear-scratching, George skidded to a stop and exploded into shrill barking.
Dean yelped and grabbed for the cat as it clawed its way from his shoulder to the top of his head. Sam's cane thumped quickly against the floor, then he leaned against the living room doorway and laughed at them.
"So not funny!" Dean held off the ravening ferocity that was George with the side of his boot and peeled the kitten off his scalp one claw at a time.
Sam was no help. He was losing his breath.
"George, cut it out! Ow! OW! Geez, cat! Sam! A little help here?"
"George," Sam managed to call. Barely.
George ignored him for once and jumped up again as if to rip the kitten out of Dean's hands.
Sam limped over and grabbed the dog. "George! Hush. It's just a kitten."
George subsided in Sam's grip, but he still glared and growled.
Sam grinned at Dean. "Why do you have a kitten on your head?"
"It wasn't there when I came in." Dean held the hissing little scrapper in one hand and swiped at a trickle of blood making its way down his temple with the back of the other. "We have some peroxide?"
"Under the sink in the bathroom," Sam answered. "Ok, why do you have a kitten anywhere on your person? And why does it smell like vanilla?"
"The answer to both questions is a pudding cup," Dean grumbled and closed the bathroom door against George's attempt to elude Sam's grip. "It had its head caught in one, almost suffocated. I figure I'll take it to the Shelter tomorrow, or hey, you could give Robin a call, see if she wants it."
"She might. She was saying today she that she's thinking about adopting another cat."
"Cute kitten like this, with a big bow around its neck? You're gonna score some major points, dude," Dean teased then muttered something that sounded like a mild profanity aimed at a small feline who sunk claws into his flesh again.
"Yeah, sure. Dinner's ready when you are."
George gave one last gruff "woof" to the bathroom door then scurried after Sam.
Sam turned the heat off under the pots. "I wonder where we can put the litter box?"George flopped spread-eagle onto the linoleum and dropped his head onto his forepaws with a put-upon snort.
When they emerged from the bathroom, Dean had a few scratches on his hands to go with the ones on his head, the kitten smelled like Dial soap instead of vanilla pudding, and both of them were damp around the edges, but they were on good terms again.
Sam snapped his fingers and frowned at the first hint of a growl from George.
"For your information, Cujo, I did check her before I brought her home," Dean told the dog. "She's just a regular kitten, so chill out."
George dropped his head and slunk off into the living room. They settled in at the table, the kitten dined on canned salmon on the seat of the extra chair, and George pouted out of sight for half the meal.
Sam and Dean ignored him as he paced in and out of the kitchen. He was ignoring the cat, and that was good enough for now. About the time Dean was wiping his bread across his plate, George let out one of his 'look at me!' barks.
They both glanced over. George stared at them, a wobbly message laid out in front of him with his letter blocks. BADCATGO"How is that," Dean pointed to where the kitten was licking her paws, "a bad cat? More like you're being a bad dog."
George huffed and pawed the B, A, and D over onto their picture sides. His way of erasing a word.
Sam hid a chuckle behind his napkin, then told the dog, "Tomorrow, buddy. You can put up with a guest for one night. Be nice."
George flipped all his blocks over to their non-communicative sides. As if he were sneaking up on a coiled rattler, he eased up to the kitten.
She drew up into a fuzzy arch and hissed, tail straight up like an exclamation point.
George didn't read that message. He stuck his nose closer.
She slapped it.
George yelped and shook his head, then tried again.
She yowled and whacked him with a lightning combination like his muzzle was a speed-bag.
George took off, tail between his legs, the kitten in hot pursuit.
Dean almost strangled on his beer. "Dude, your dog's a wuss!"
"Your cat's a menace," Sam shot back, and laughed as George barreled back in and made a flying leap for the security of his lap. "Gah, George! You're gettin' too big for this, boy."
George hooked his forepaws over Sam's shoulders and peered down at the kitten. She considered her empty dish more interesting.
"Where's all that legendary inugami courage now?" Dean teased.
"Maybe he's ailurophobic," Sam shrugged. He set George back on the floor. "Go make friends, you goof."
George gave Sam a look over his shoulder as if Sam had told him to go check out a firing squad. He edged up to the kitten again. She studied him, then rolled over onto her back and waved her paws. George snuffled at her belly.
She wrapped her forepaws around his muzzle and pretended to chew off his nose. George sneezed and hopped back. The kitten bounced towards him, stiff-legged. George woofed and took off again, this time with his tail in a merry curl.
When they made the circle back through the kitchen, George was the chaser. They played tag the rest of the evening.
Sam and Dean found themselves serving mostly as hurdles and speed bumps.
The next morning, Sam caught a glimpse through Dean's half-open bedroom door as he went down the hall. His brother was lounging on his back with a grin, swinging his medallion for the playful kitten perched on his chest. Sam heard Dean's throaty chuckle and an affectionate murmur of "Hey, Puddin', you hungry?"
Sam smiled as he went on into the kitchen to start the coffee. Robin would have to choose a kitten on her own. Puddin' had already claimed her human.
-oOo- Finis -oOo-
The inspiration for this fic came from a lovely drawing by Petite-Madame, called "Bad Company."
You can see it here: http://petite-madame.livejournal.com/