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Pet Therapy

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“Division 3 has a what?” David asked, certain he heard Kerry wrong.

“A pet therapy day,” Kerry tells him again, and tugs on his arm. “Hurry up, you’re gonna make us late.”

David doesn’t really have a choice, but he lets Kerry drag him into the lounge anyway. And it turns out Kerry was right. They’re the last to arrive, and the sight that greets them—

David can’t remember seeing Clark smile before, much less baby talk a very fat puppy. Ptonomy is petting an extremely relaxed calico, and they both wear the same contented expression. Even Melanie has cheered up, because really it’s impossible to be gloomy when a cockapoo is licking your face.

“I found him,” Kerry tells Syd. “He was moping.”

“I was not moping,” David lies, offended. He was totally moping.

Syd’s holding her cat, Matilda, but Syd’s gloves are on so David doesn’t think he has to worry about talking to the wrong body. “We saved a box for you.”

“A box?” David asks, confused.

“Oh yes,” Cary says, bringing over an open file box. And inside—

It’s a litter of the most adorable kittens David has ever seen. And they’re trying to climb out. Cary thrusts the box into David’s arms just as the kittens reach the top, and then David is swarmed by mewing kittens with needle-sharp claws.

It’s possibly the best — slightly agonizing — moment of his life. He’s afraid to move in case he hurts a kitten, but Kerry tugs him into a chair and starts plucking kittens from his shoulders and putting them into his lap.

“They’re hungry,” Syd points out. “You have to feed them.”

“Um,” David says, but then Cary gives him a small bag of kitten treats. The kittens smell it even before he opens the bag, and he has to hold the bag high so he can feed them one at a time.

Many exciting minutes later, the kittens decide to pile into his lap and all nap at once. David might never move again.

“Feeling better?” Syd asks, amused.

“Yeah,” David admits. “Since when does Division 3 have pet therapy?” It doesn’t really go with the whole brutalist military aesthetic this place has.

“Matilda,” Syd says. “She’s a therapy cat. When I got her, everyone kept stealing her. Turns out this was a regular thing at Summerland. So we started it back up.”

David can’t help but give Syd a sappy smile. She gives a quiet smile back.