No warnings, no labels, no nothing–this is purely to offset the file-muncher! If the sloppy all-over-the-place feel of my journal bugs you, go friend/join my master fic list community, ’cause I can only be tidy in so many places at once 😀
Rude sighed, rolling his eyes behind his sunglasses, knowing his partner was too intent on animal rescue to notice.
The red-headed terror had, for the last twenty minutes, been attempting to coax a small gray cat out from behind a dumpster. Considering that this was the same person who routinely put the heel of his boot through people’s faces and laughed when he fried them with his EMR, this animal-sensitive side of him was rather surprising…or would be if Rude had never seen it before. He had no room to point fingers if Reno identified more with animals than people. Rude himself preferred puzzles to others. Everyone had their thing.
“Come on, baby kitty, come out, Reno won’t hurt you,” he coaxed, lilting his voice in a sing-song that might’ve persuaded women out of their panties but did little to budge the rather bedraggled and frightened cat.
Seeing it stir towards Reno’s outstretched, pale white hand, Rude warned, “Reno, you probably shouldn’t—”
“—touch it,” Rude finished, sighing a little as his partner skittered away from the alley and the cat, which had clawed four parallel furrows in his left hand.
Hurt blue eyes flicked up, hoping for sympathy as those furrows filled with dark red blood and welled over, deeper than Rude had expected.
“Not even a ‘how deep is it,’ Rude?” Reno sulked, and brought his hand up to his face.
Rude started a belated warning yet again and sighed in exasperation when Reno sucked on the scratches. Praying for patience, Rude softly reminded his partner that animals—especially feral ones—tended to carry diseases and he should probably wash the scratches instead of licking them…and brush his teeth. Christ alone knew what he’d just lapped up off of his skin.
The little gray cat wriggled out onto the street and twined around Reno’s ankles, doing that about-face that cats were so fond of doing, suddenly completely comfortable with him now that it had scratched the shit out of his hand.
“Fickle little fucker,” Reno said, shooing it, risking his booted ankle in the process. “Scat, puss, you’ve got all the sympathy you’re getting from me, yo.”
“Leave the cat alone, Reno, it probably has fleas,” Rude said, and pushed his glasses up. He started to walk again, casting about to find the house numbers on these rundown and decrepit buildings.
“I am leaving it alone, it ain’t reciprocatin’ yo!” Reno complained, nearly tripping on it when he started after his partner, still nursing his wounded hand. He gave it a scowl and wondered, “Why’s it always the one I need to live? Why can’t shit happen to my right hand? It’s good for fuckin’ nothin’, yo—I even jerk off left handed—”
“1101,” Rude said, peering at the rusted numbers.
“Says Tseng,” Reno observed, and glanced down to find the small cat rubbing against his ankle. “Shoo, yo—you done damaged the goods.”
“Meh?” the cat sassed, looking up at him with expectation, clearly thinking he owed it something. “Mrrrwrow?”
“Whatchu askin’ me for, fucker? I ain’t the one who told you to go in the stupid alley in the first goddamned place—”
Rude took another steadying breath and tried to pretend that he was with a professional—not with his best friend, who was currently involved in an argument with a feline…which the cat was winning.
“This is the place,” Rude said, and turned to find Reno with the cat in his arms, absently rubbing its silky ears. He frowned.
“What?” Reno asked, sounding defensive. The cat butted up against his palm, purring loudly enough that Rude could hear it, one front leg extended stiffly in bliss, its tail lashing in long sweeps that set its poofy fur to floating. “We made up, yo.”
The man’s thin brows rose up in innocent inquiry. It baffled Rude sometimes how someone could be so decadent but so guileless. One of the many incongruities about his partner—cursing angel, carefree killer, naïve slut, clueless conspirator. Nothing about Reno ever made any sense, and Rude doubted it ever would, but he’d have his best friend no other way.
Life without Reno just wasn’t as fun.
“You can’t take the cat in for a hit,” Rude calmly told him.
Reno frowned and nuzzled the cat’s head, apparently forgetting how it had scratched him…or else he lacked the vanity to worry about it marking up his pretty face.
“Reno,” Rude tried again. “Put the cat down.”
“Fine!” he sighed, put out. He kissed the cat on the forehead (Rude silently winced, wishing for mouthwash and the liberty to use it on Reno) and put it down on the pavement where it proceeded to twine and inquire, “Mrrrwrow?”
“Don’t wander off, yo,” Reno told it, shaking a long, slender finger. “You cut and run, we’re all through, no comin’ back—them’s the breaks, puss.”
“Can we just do this, please?” Rude asked, feeling a headache threaten. And why was he surprised that Reno was talking to the cat like he would to a woman? Actually, he wasn’t. And that was probably what was causing the headache—overexposure to nonsense-inducing Renoistic oddities. Perhaps he would write a case study for the Journal of Behavioral Medicine—
“Hey, yo, what the fuck?” Reno asked, impatient to get started. Suddenly. “We doin’ this or what, Rude? Why you starin’ off into space, bro? You workin’ up a stroke?”
It was really all he could do.
The cat, of course, was flopped out in a patch of sunlight when they emerged, blood-splattered and victorious, mission accomplished.
Rude sighed again when Reno scooped it up and got another scratching for his trouble. Unperturbed, the red-head just tossed the little gray cat up on one boney shoulder and fell in step next to Rude.
“You aren’t putting that thing in my car,” he announced.
“Chill, yo, I can walk home from here,” Reno reminded him, his twice-scratched left hand lifted to hold the small feline steady. And he wondered why it was always his left hand—it might help if he could keep that hand to himself once in awhile…
“But, hey, buddy, think you could do me a faaaavor?” Reno wheedled, batting his big eyes at Rude, who just silently wished he were a religious man with the strength of a god behind him. Instead, he gave his partner a flat look and retraced his steps to the car.
“No, serious, yo!” Reno told him, suddenly urgent. “The cat’s gonna need a litter box and food and catnip and—”
“You aren’t putting it in my car,” Rude reminded.
“I know,” Reno said, sounding hurt.
Rude looked back against his better judgment, knowing it was a moot point already. If Reno hadn’t reminded him so much of his little brother, if the young man’s face didn’t fall into such melancholy sadness, if he didn’t have that fucking pout down so well…a million “if’s” and maybe Rude would be able to stick to his guns once in awhile.
“Think you could just drop us at the Pet Mart?” Reno asked, looking contrite.
Rude pushed his glasses back up. He could win if he really wanted to. It was a consoling thought.
“Get in,” he rumbled, and hit the unlock button on his keychain.
“Thanks, pal!” Reno crowed, all traces of moping miraculously gone.
He wound up pushing the trolley at the Pet Mart, something he did with great dignity. Reno yanked it by the front end, but he couldn’t pull against Rude’s greater strength so it wound up being a token guiding on the slim man’s part. He still had the little cat draped over his shoulders, where it seemed content to stay in a very un-catlike way. Every once in awhile it would crane its head around and blink at Rude in assessment, clearly not impressed. It was probably the rudest cat he’d ever had the misfortune to meet. It was no wonder Reno liked it.
He wound up driving them back to Reno’s apartment and unloading the car, and then he had to put in his reluctant opinion on the best place for the cat-box, had to advise Reno about the depth of clay in said cat-box, had to help him take the tags off of the wicker basket-bed and find a spot for it, had to pour the cat food into a special bowl for it. He drew the line, however, when it came to cat bath-time. Not even Reno’s best “kicked dog” look could convince him to take part in a mini-apocalypse—he got enough of those during a regular work day with his unpredictable partner. He simply advised Reno to take it to a groomer, a suggestion that Reno greeted with enthusiasm while the (probably) filthy cat clung to his shoulders like some kind of living, ridiculous stole.
Mission accomplished, Rude left him to it, ready to go home and call Tifa and not discuss the damned cat. He’d had enough of cats.