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Sneeze of Hell

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It’s the perfect revenge, Liam thinks as he looks at his online shopping cart. A giggle escapes him. He throws a look at the little black ball of fluff peacefully resting at the other end of the couch.

 

“What do you say, Purrinator?” He asks the cat. “You up for a little surprise for your crazy mama hen?”

 

Sammy doesn’t argue, so she obviously isn’t against it. Which is great. A few clicks later, Liam has ordered everything they need to make Theo suffer for the horrors that happened two weeks earlier, when their little princess had caught a cold.

 

It’s not about the money they spent because Theo insisted on a proper freak-out just because of a few sneezes and they had to take Sammy to the vet, resulting in the purchase of a dozen different(ly useless) food supplements, each of which she spat out in front of their feet. It’s not about the fact that Theo’s unconditional love for the kitty was even more torturously annoying during those few days than it usually is. (In case anyone's wondering, the usual level of annoyingness can be described with two letters: A.F.)

 

What Liam still hasn’t fully forgiven his boyfriend for is the one time when he made Liam hold her, because ‘a sick kitty needs twice as much love and cuddles as a healthy kitty, Liam’, and because Liam’s objection about two times zero still being zero didn’t count for some reason.

 

“Listen to those cute little sneezes,” Theo had cooed, making his stupid baby voice for Sammy, although Liam has told him multiple times now that it’s absolutely not going to allow her to actually understand the human language.

 

“They’re sneezes, Theo,” Liam objected, “they’re not cute. They’re disgusting.”

 

“Listen,” Theo told him, his eyes full of love and admiration for the cat he’d forced on Liam’s arms.

 

Sammy sneezed again and Theo almost lost it, giggling and smiling and making the most ridiculous heart-eyes at her, acting as if it was the greatest miracle on earth they were witnessing, when in reality, it was a cat with a cold.

 

Liam didn't find it cute at all. In fact, when Sammy tilted her little head and her eyes rolled back, he was convinced there was some supernatural creepshow going on in his lap.

 

Theo swore every living creature had a similar look right before sneezing, but Liam knew better. Whatever kind of possessed bullshit Theo was trying to sell, he was onto it.

 

Still, the bad part of the story came after that.

 

Sammy had settled down, placing her chin on her paws, seemingly asleep in the crook of Liam’s arm.

 

“You two look so cozy together,” Theo said with a shit-eating grin, snapping a picture before Liam could protest.

 

Liam made a pouty face, but on the inside, what he was thinking was that maybe, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to hold a little kitty in his arm and stroke her soft, furry little neck every once in a while.

 

Of course, his thought was punished by the universe immediately. By a full force wet sneeze from the black little goblin. Right in his face.

 

Liam froze, his eyes clenched shut. Horror took over him. His voice was high-pitched and drenched in panic.

 

“Theo!” He shrieked. “What is that on my cheek?”

 

“There’s nothing on your cheek.”

 

“THEO! Oh my god. I have cat snot in my face. I will kill you. I will literally end your life. You and that little Satan here are out to ruin me.”

 

“Don’t be such a drama queen, Liam.”

 

“You better clean my face of any gross goblin snot right now, Theo. I’m not kidding. I hate you. I hate you two so much. You’re the worst. You deserve each other.”

 

The fact that Sammy didn’t feel compelled to leave his arm didn’t make it any better.

 

The pampered little princess got better after that. She’s recovered from her cold, but Liam isn’t sure about the devil possessing her tiny soul. He’s going to keep an eye on that. Theo has been trying to make amends with cuddles (exclusively Liam and Theo cuddles) and kisses. He’s also bought Liam pizza. Liam has to give him credit for the effort, but he still likes to hold onto his grudges, and Theo has had it coming ever since the day Liam came home to a four-legged patch of fur on his boyfriend’s chest, so payback can’t be avoided.

 

How lucky that it’s almost Halloween. Perfect timing, one might even say.

 

***

 

Theo practically has to fight his way through half-grown ghosts, witches, vampires and slutty [insert literally any profession or animal here]s on his way home on the 31st. Work has been hell, and all he wants to do now is to throw himself on the couch with all the candy Liam and he have bought for the trick-or-treating kids but he will now need for himself, then have Liam and possibly Sammy keep him company until his mood lightens a bit.

 

Of course, Theo stumbles over the pumpkin decorating their front porch and almost falls, then has to fish for the keys at the very bottom of his bag. When he finally makes it up eight set of stairs and into the apartment he and Liam share, he kicks the door shut and presses his back against it, letting out a deep exhale. His bag sinks to the ground. With his eyes closed, Theo kicks off his shoes and shrugs out of his coat. He’s made it home. Finally.

 

It smells nice inside the apartment, and it’s pleasantly warm. Liam has probably already made him tea, or even run him a bath. He’ll definitely claim to have done it without the usual extra dose of love, as he always reminds Theo since the cat snot incident, but they both know that not even Sammy’s wet virus attack can come between them.

 

“I’m hoooooome!” Theo calls into the illuminated living room, pushing himself off of the entrance door and making his way to go steal a kiss from the love of his life.

 

Theo doesn’t make it to the living room.

 

A heart attack stops him in the middle of the hallway.

 

Not a literal heart attack.

 

Well, it’s what he imagines a heart attack to feel like.

 

The horror makes him stop dead in his tracks and clutch a hand over his mouth. He takes one step back, then another one. And then he screams.

 

There’s a huge, black spider on the floor right in his way. Not a huge spider as in, a huge spider that Liam needs to catch in a glass and throw out the window. A huge spider as in the spawn of all seven hells, hairy and dark and with glowing yellow eyes, its eight legs so long that they brush the walls at either side as it moves. And it MOVES. And it moves CLOSER. Right towards him.

 

So this is how it ends, Theo thinks. Liam doesn’t even show up to witness his last few moments of life, although it seems highly unlikely that he can’t hear Theo’s death screams. Unless…

 

Yep, that’s the only explanation. The giant satanic spider has already killed Liam. Maybe it’s eaten his face. Or his heart. Or both.

 

“Please don’t eat me,” Theo whispers. He moves further back, but there are only so many steps he can take before he hits another wall, and then he’ll be helpless, depending on the monster’s hunger to be stilled already. It’s not warm inside the apartment anymore, or at least it doesn’t feel like it. A shudder runs down Theo’s spine. The way the hellish creature moves over the floor makes his skin crawl.

 

A dull thud echoes through the dimly lit hallway. Theo stands with his back against the cold, hard wall. There’s no escape. He looks to the right. There’s his and Liam’s bedroom. The bathroom lies to his left, but what are the chances he can actually run, climb out of a window and somehow climb down the facade faster than something that has eight freaking legs?

 

“I love you, Liam,” Theo whispers to himself, or the ghost of Liam, in case it’s listening.

 

Two sharp teeth appear from the middle of the yellow-eyed darkness. Theo feels suffocated. The monster is still hungry, as it seems. He’s trembling all over, pressed against the wall, waiting for the end, praying for a quick death.

 

Theo half expects for flames to escape the abyss that opens in the middle of the creature’s face, or at least two snake-like tongues, or an earth-shattering roar announcing that his final moment has come.

 

What Theo doesn’t expect is what he gets.

 

Which is a meow.

 

A cute, soft, high-pitched little meow, sounding just like Sammy does.

 

“Jesus, Theo,” Liam says as he steps out of the bathroom.

 

Theo has the second heart attack that night.

 

“What the hell are you doing? Why are you looking like that?”

 

Theo can’t answer. Although he knows now that neither him nor Liam nor their precious little princess are in any danger, his poor heart is still beating like crazy, his body still shaking. All he can do is point at the monstrosity strapped to Sammy’s back.

 

Liam’s gaze follows his finger, and then he straight up bursts out laughing. Theo is so offended by his reaction. He was two hundred percent convinced he was going to die just a minute ago, and the shock is too fresh for him to find anything even remotely funny about it.

 

“Oh my god!” Liam presses out, holding his belly. “This is so much better than I was hoping! You should see your face right now! Your face is just priceless!”

 

Theo can’t believe him. All the effort he’s put into their relationship for all those years, and this is the thanks he gets: A tear in the corner of Liam’s eye as he tries to keep himself upright while laughing his ass off.

 

“I hate you,” he mumbles while slowly peeling himself off of the wall. “You can feed your satanic spider sidekick on your own from now on.”

 

“Yeah, right,” Liam laughs right in his face. “As if you could ever resist her hungry little kitty eyes.”

 

“Absolutely. When she’s wearing the double amount of legs than she should be.”

 

“Sounds like fake news,” Liam decides. His cheeks are reddened and marked by tears as he slowly catches his breath. It’s unfair how pretty he looks like this. “Huh, Sammy? What do you say? Are you going to let your daddy get away with this? Come here, Purrinator. Come say hello to your daddy.”

 

As much as Liam usually claims to have nothing to do with Sammy, she still reacts instantly to his soft voice pointing her to Theo, moving towards him, lifeless but furry legs bouncing at either side of her black little body as she walks. Theo still finds the sight a little creepier than he’s comfortable with.

 

“Can you take that…-” He vaguely gestures towards their pet. “-... thing off of her, please?”

 

“That’s her halloween costume,” Liam points out as Sammy comes to a halt in front of Theo, looking up to him with her cute little face. He sighs and crouches down to scratch her little head. It’s not her fault, after all, and Liam might be right a little about Theo not being able to resist her.

 

“Dear Sammy,” Theo says, “my princess, light of my life, fluffiest of all cuddle partners in this apartment.” Liam makes a disapproving noise, but Theo doesn’t let it interrupt him. “Frankly, your outfit it scary… Take it off.”

 

“She’s a cat, Theo,” Liam argues, “she can’t take it off.”

 

“Well, someone can,” Theo answers, rolling his eyes. “ Someone must have put it on her, after all.”

 

“Someone sure did,” Liam replies with a grin. Theo hates the smug satisfaction on his boyfriend’s face.

 

“You deserve every bit of cat snot that’s ever been on your face, you know that?”

 

Liam shrugs. Not even the reminder of the worst sneeze of his life can wipe the grin off of his face. “Maybe, but I think that was worth it.”

 

“Great,” Theo says, “so we’re even now. That means you can take this terrible abomination of a costume off of my precious little baby girl now.”

 

Liam’s smile widens, and that alone scares Theo almost as much as Sammy just did. “Of course.”

 

“What?”

 

Theo is confused. It was too easy. There’s some sort of trick to it, he’s sure.

 

“I said, of course,” Liam repeats.

 

“Yeah, but why?”

 

“Because we need to get her out of this lovely outfit,” Liam explains, “so we can show you all the other wonderful things we’ve got.”

 

“What?” Theo doesn’t understand. “What other things are you talking about?”

 

“Well, all of her other costumes,” Liam replies with a casual shrug. He looks like he’s saying something completely normal, but the sound track doesn’t match the innocent expression on his face at all.

 

“Liam… What did you do?” Theo is slowly but surely getting the impression that finding an enormous spider in his home won’t stay the most terrifying experience of the day.

 

“Don’t worry,” Liam laughs, nudging his shoulder.

 

Theo gets up on his feet and looks him in the eyes seriously. “I am very worried,” he says, “and for the record, you telling me not to worry will never actually contribute to the peace of my mind.”

 

“How about this then?” Liam asks, leaning in and pressing a sweet kiss on Theo’s cheek.

 

“Not sure, try it again.”

 

A few kisses later, Theo and Liam are sitting on the carpet in their living room, Sammy in their middle, only accepting their endless laughter over her because they keep feeding her treats.

 

Outfit number two is a pair of bat wings. Under the light of the headlight and with Liam warning him before putting it on, it doesn’t look scary at all. It’s adorable. Theo takes a thousand photos and edits his favorite shot, adding little fangs to Sammy’s mouth. This time, he finds it just as hilarious as Liam does. Vampire Sammy munches away happily.

 

Outfit number three breaks with the halloween theme. It turns the innocent little cat sitting between them, waiting for another treat into a taco, her head and tail peeking out at either end. It shouldn’t be so funny, but when Sammy rolls over and Liam playfully yells at her ‘Don’t spill the sauce, Sammy!’, Theo can’t hold it in anymore. He’s losing his shit, his stomach hurts, and life is great.

 

The greatest treasure though, is outfit number four. It’s quite obvious that Sammy’s getting a bit annoyed by the time Liam puts in on her. She sends death glares to both her ridiculous daddies through her pretty yellow eyes. The costume is basically just one big, bright green, avocado-shaped cardboard with a hole in the middle where the kitty’s face goes. A perfectly round, black, ultimately pissed off face, a.k.a. the single most precious thing on earth. Uncontrolled giggles make the first fifty attempts of a photo turn out blurry, but the fifty-first one is absolutely priceless, the tip of Sammy’s pink little tongue peeking out.

 

“Our little Avocato,” Liam says to her. “You’re looking so pretty.”

 

“Who knew that Avocato and Grumpy Cat lie so close together,” Theo comments.

 

Sammy seemed way more pleased when Theo was the victim of the mockery instead of her. As soon as the last treat is crunched away and she’s licked both Theo’s and Liam’s empty hands all over, she shakes her head until the costume is gone and then marches off gracefully, probably heading to their bed. They’ll find her spread out over both their pillows later.

 

“I can’t believe you ordered all this shit because I let our cat sneeze in your face,” Theo says with a fond smile on his lips. Liam is the most ridiculous person he knows for sure.

 

“Who says that that’s why I did it?” Liam asks. “Can’t a man simply enjoy putting his kitty in hilarious halloween costumes?”

 

“I guess,” Theo shrugs, “but not this one here.” He pokes Liam’s chest with one finger. “Not my man. The only reason why he would do something like this is to spite me.”

 

“The way you’re saying that right now almost makes it sound like that turns you on a little.”

 

Theo shrugs and smiles. “A little, maybe.”

 

They’re just at that moment right before a passionate kiss when they’re eyes are locked and their breath ghosting over each other’s lips, when a faint noise interrupts them. A wide grin breaks out on Liam’s face.

 

“Goddamnit,” he beams at Theo, “cat sneezes really are cute as fuck.”

 

***

 

“Oh Sammy,” Liam says as he hangs a new framed picture up on the wall in his and Theo’s bedroom. “Wasn’t that a successful Halloween this year?”

 

The little black goblin looks up from her spot atop Liam’s pillow, taking in what he’s doing before sinking back into a comfortable position, pressing her eyes shut. She clearly agrees. And how could she not? The printed out memory consists of four different shots of her in her costumes.

 

“Next year I’ll dress you up as an actual princess,” Liam smiles, “promise.”