Red grumbled to himself as he stalked out to the garbage bin on the side of the garage. Tomorrow the trash collectors would be by and the bin needed to be out on the curb before 4AM or else they wouldn’t pick it up. Not like that mattered, for one Edge would be awake in plenty of time to do it himself, and for another the bin was not quite half full. Just like it wasn’t every week, if they missed one week they wouldn’t even notice. But no, Edge insisted they take part in this stupid weekly ritual anyway.
There was a cat just lounging on the lid of the bin. A white, fluffy cat with one bright blue eye and one golden eye, and a puke green collar.
“Scram, ya nuisance.”
The cat just sat there and stared at Red.
He put a hand up to touch the cat, but rather than run off like all the other cats he’d encountered so far this one didn’t seem to have any survival skills and just… let Red touch it. Then it started purring.
This goddamned cat was purring and leaning into Red’s touch, like he didn’t have any LV or claws and fangs he kept razor sharp or any other reason for this cat to be running scared.
Red glanced around, not that he expected anyone to be spying on him but better safe than sorry. Satisfied no one was around, he started petting the cat. The purr kicked up a notch, though it cut off completely when his claws snagged on a tangle of fur. Now that Red was looking he realized the cat’s fur was kind of dirty and matted in several spots. Red grabbed the tag attached to the cat’s collar.
“Fluffy? What a godawful name.”
The cat meowed as if in agreement.
Red turned the tag over, there was an address he didn’t recognize and a phone number with a different area code. Well that wasn’t good. “C’mere, ya furball.” Red picked the cat up, who just hung limply in his hold. Then he went inside, where Edge was wiping down the kitchen. “Hey, Boss, ran into a bit of a snag taking out the garbage.”
Edge turned around and glared at the cat in Red’s hands. “Why on EARTH did you bring that dirty, mangey, flea bitten furball into MY clean kitchen?!”
Red shrugged, “Think “Fluffy” here is lost, it’s got a collar on.”
Edge sighed and held out his arms, “Give them here.”
Red did as he was told, handing the cat over to Edge, who adjusted it to hold like a baby and looked at the collar.
“Good, a phone number. I must call the owner and berate them for letting an animal in their care be in such poor condition.” Then he looked back up at Red, “Did you finish taking the trash bin to the curb?”
“Then you better get back to it!”
“Fiiiiiiiine.” Red grumbled to himself as he went back outside, he continued to grumble as he took the bin to the curb, then he grumbled on his way back inside. The scene to greet him wasn’t in any way surprising: the cat was lounging on the couch just as carefree as it had been lounging on the bin while Edge stood rigidly in place and screamed into a phone held in front of him, pointing at the phone like it personally offended him. Red sat his ass down on the next cushion over and let Edge’s angry screeching just wash over him.
The cat stood up, stretched, then flopped itself across Red’s lap.
“Heh, ya really ain’t got any survival instincts, do ya, Fluffy?” Red started scratching the cat’s chin, judging from the way Edge was shrieking little Fluffy here was about to become their problem.
“... and I expect you to brush and feed him while I’m gone too.”
“When exactly am I s’pposed to get all that done?” Red asked in exasperation.
“You just laze around the house all day, I’m sure you’ll find the time.”
“Just ‘cause I’m workin’ from home don’t mean I ain’t workin’, Boss!”
“I hardly call what you do work. Now, I expect Doomfanger to be in pristine condition when I get home.”
Red looked down at the furball winding his way between Red’s ankles, he certainly looked a lot better after a wash, a haircut, and thorough brushing, but Red wouldn’t call his condition pristine what with the chunks of fur that had been cut out to get rid of the mattes. “Ya want a million gold an’ the king’s personal approval while yer at it?”
“Stop being ridiculous Red. And you!” Edge bent down and gave the newly renamed Doomfanger a few good pets, “Watch over Red while I’m gone.”
Red would have argued, but he knew Edge would just hang around to argue back and it wasn’t worth it. Instead he just let Edge leave, then sighed when he was finally out of the house. “Goddamned bossy little squirt,” Red grumbled, then headed upstairs to his room. He hadn’t realized the furball had followed him until he’d sat down at his desk and the cat goddamned jumped into his lap.
“The fuck’re ya doin’? I ain’t gonna play babysitter for ya all day.”
The cat just kept his furry ass where it was, even curled up and looked like he was about to take a nap in Red’s lap. Well if that’s what he wanted to do, Red just shrugged and scooted himself into place before waking his computer up and getting to work.
For a while Red forgets about the warm little weight in his lap and gets sucked into the current project and coordinating with the whole team to make sure it stays on track. He was in the middle of typing an angry email to Richard for being a damn idiot AGAIN when Doomfanger finally moved and crawled up to Red’s sternum to loudly meow at him.
“Waddya want? I’m workin’ here.”
Doomfanger just meowed again more loudly this time. Red moved his chair back and pushed the damned cat away. Amazingly he actually hopped down and sauntered over to the door where he started meowing again.
“Ugh, fine!” Red angrily got up and stomped over to the door, yanking it open for the cat then stomping back to his chair.
Doomfanger meowed again.
“Seriously? The fuck do ya want?”
The cat just continued to meow until Red followed him. Curious now, Red followed the furball out the door, down the stairs, and into the kitchen where the cat sat by his food dish and looked expectantly up at Red.
“Oh my god, are ya fuckin’ serious?” The cat was hungry, of course he was. And as stupid as it was he knew Edge was very serious about that many small meals throughout the day nonsense cats apparently needed, and he would somehow know if Red didn’t do as he was told. “Fine, have it yer way.”
Red went about pulling out the pre-portioned mini-meals Edge had already prepared and plopped it into the cat’s dish, screw Edge’s instructions to nuke the little prissy prince’s food first, if he didn’t want it cold he could wait until it warmed to room temperature.
Then Red paused, while he was in the kitchen he may as well get himself a snack, or a soda at least. By the time he got back up to his computer, sipping on a freshly opened can of ABT Brand Sparkletastic™ Sparkling Soda, that email to Richard didn’t seem quite so important anymore, certainly Richard’s bullshittery wasn’t worth the write up he’d get for sending something so “profanity laden” to a coworker. Humans were damn weird about their “work appropriate” notions. Red just deleted the whole thing and instead wrote out a short message to their direct supervisor basically throwing Richard under the bus and then went back to actually getting some goddamned work done.
Edge was brushing Doomfanger (the fuck, why did he demand for Red to do it if he was just gonna do it himself?) when his phone rang. “Here, take over for me.” Edge quickly handed over the cat and brush, then stood up stalked into the next room to answer the phone.
“Yer such a spoiled princess,” Red grumbled as he started brushing the stupid cat that stupidly purred and stupidly rolled onto his back like he never did for Edge. He spent a while just running the brush through the cat’s fur and idly wondering what that phone call was about.
Edge eventually walked back into the room with Doomfanger’s carrier in hand. “Well, that was certainly an interesting phone call.”
“What happened? That the vet or somethin’?” Red eyed the carrier warily, maybe one of the tests they’d run on the furball had come back with bad news.
“No, that was actually the microchip company. It seems when we changed all the information over to ours the old owner also had them change the information on another cat. Their name is, ugh, Whiskers and they’re at the downtown pound, you’re going to go pick them up while I go pick up the extra supplies our new pet will need.”
Doomfanger perked up.
“You fuckin’ serious?”
“Of course I’m serious, I don’t just hand out orders as a jape, Red!”
Doomfanger got up and dashed around the room excitedly, it was honestly the most energetic Red had seen the cat outside of Edge’s play time, and even that seemed somewhat unwilling on Doomfanger’s part.
“There, see? Doomfanger is excited about his sibling being found, now go pick them up.”
“Alright, fine, geeze.” Red took the carrier and did a quick search to find the pound. “Ugh, what a ways to go. I’m gonna be a while, need to take the goddamned bus to get there.”
“That’s fine, it’ll give me time to go purchase the new necessities and have them set up before you return. Now hurry up, the sooner you go the sooner you’ll get back.”
“Fine, whatever.” Red took a side step through the void and came out in an alleyway in the middle of downtown. It was the closest spot he had a concrete image of and could reliably use for a shortcut. Conveniently the bus stop he needed to get on at was just up the street a few yards and was scheduled to be there shortly, so hopefully he wouldn’t have long to wait.
Eventually, after a too long bus ride that was awful but still better than fucking WALKING all the way there, then having to explain the situation to the receptionist, then explaining again using more and smaller words, they finally brought out the damned cat, now sitting in Doomfanger’s carrier.
“Well he sure seems to know you, went right into the carrier without a single fuss,” the receptionist said happily as they set the carrier down on the counter.
“He probably smells Fangsy all over it.” Red crouched down to look inside the carrier. A pair of bright blue eyes that were a perfect match to Doomfanger’s one blue eye stared back, surrounded by a halo of dirty white fur. Lucky them, the cat’s weren’t entirely identical. “Wow, these two might actually be brothers.”
“You think so?” The receptionist seemed interested in Red’s weird story about abandoned cats and somehow inheriting an extra one they didn’t even know existed.
“White, long fur, blue eyes. Though the other one has one blue an’ one gold eye, so at least they ain’t completely identical.”
“That is lucky! Well, I’m glad that at least these guys are going to a better home now, good luck.”
“Sure, whatever.” Red picked the carrier up and walked out the door, then side stepped right back into their living room. Like hell he was sticking around any longer than he needed to. Doomfanger came running over and stood up on his hind poaws to look in, meowing loudly while he was at it. Whiskers meowed back, it quickly got far too loud in the living room. Red set the carrier down but before he could reach down to let Whiskers out Doomfanger was already all up in his grill, sniffing furiously at the other cat and still meowing loudly.
“Get out of the way, damnit.” Red managed to get his fingers on the door.
Edge came running into the room, “Wait!”
“What?” Red asked as he looked up from where the two cats were already licking each other like a pair of furry lollipops.
“God damnit, Red! Catch him! He needs a bath!”
Well shit, Red hadn’t thought about that. What followed was a weird chase where two grown monsters were outmaneuvered by a cat that seemed to literally bounce off any surface he touched, all while Doomfanger watched from his spot loafed up on the back of the couch.
“Aha! I gotcha! Nothing can escape the Great and Terrible Edge! Nyeh heh heh.” Edge proudly held up the squirming bundle of fur. “You can squirm all you like, but you can’t escape my iron gri- goddamnit!”
The furball squirmed out of Edge’s grip and made a run for it.
Red had had enough, he shot up a ring of blue bones around the living room, then grabbed the runaway cat with blue magic and tossed him in Edge’s general direction.
“Ah ha! Behold our undefeatable teamwork! Good job, brother!”
Red couldn’t help the way his Soul fluttered at the praise, he had to look down and away as he dismissed his attacks. “Yeah, whatever, just go get the fluffbutt washed before he pulls another escaping act.”
“Of course!” Edge practically sprinted from the room, pounding up the stairs to where he presumably had a bath waiting for Whiskers. And god, Red hoped Edge came up with a new name during the bath. Doomfanger may be a ridiculous name but at least it’s ridiculously cool, not boring and lazy like Fluffy or Whiskers.
Red moved the carrier off to the side, even taking the door off like Edge scolded him to when they first got Doomfanger, then stood and stretched his back. To his surprise Doomfanger pressed up against a leg. “Waddya want?”
Doomfanger just rubbed his face against Red’s ankles, purring like an old jalopy.
“Yeah well, go thank Edge, if it were up to me ya’d both be in a pound somewhere and not my problem.”
Doomfanger just purred louder.
Red sighed, then sat down right there in the middle of the living room and started petting the stupid cat.
Edge pouted from his spot in their one armchair while Red lounged on the couch, both cats laying on top of him. “It’s not fair,” Edge ground out.
“What ain’t fair?”
“Why do they like you better when I’m their owner?”
Red shrugged, causing Deathclaws to shift and change position before settling back into his nap. “Maybe ‘cause I spend all day with them? Or maybe it’s ‘cause we’re nap buddies?” They’d even ganged up on him ever since he brought Deathclaws home, both bothering him until he laid down and took a nap with them. Red had to admit, it was pretty nice.
“But I feed them, I brush them, I play with them!”
Red quickly counted up their meals in his head, he’s pretty sure by sheer volume Red’s actually giving them a few more on a weekly basis. But Edge was right about the rest, Red stopped bothering to brush them since Edge did that every evening anyway, and Red thought playing with them looked exhausting. “So play with them now, Clawsy’s always got way too much energy anyway.”
“I will NOT, their play time is scheduled for later this evening.”
“So? It’s the weekend, give them some extra attention.”
“They’ll expect a meal when they’re done, Jackson Galaxy says-”
“You can give them some treats, ya know. Hell, they might even like ya better fer it. And if I never give’em treats they’ll like ya even more.”
“I will not stoop to BRIBING my own cats!”
Red shrugged again, not his problem if Edge wants to be stubborn and ignore his good advice. Again. “Suit yerself.”
Doomfanger slit his eyes open and glared at Red for daring to disturb his nap again. Deathclaws seemed to decide his nap was over, he stood and stretched, then hopped off the couch and started racing around the living room before bolting into the kitchen.
“See? Clawsy’s up an’ off to the races, just go fuckin’ play with him and maybe his next nap will be in your whiney lap.”
Edge huffed and puffed, but he closed the book he’d been holding but not reading, got up, and stalked over to where the cat toys were kept. Red couldn’t help grinning to himself as he watched Edge play with Deathclaws. Edge was smiling like he always did whenever he played with the cats, Deathclaws frantically running this way and that after the fake bird Edge was flinging around.
“Look at him go! Who’s my strong little hunter? You are, yes you are! Perhaps I should do clicker training next, such a vicious hunter would make an excellent guard animal.”
“Sure, why not? I hear cat bites are pretty dangerous to humans, something about a uh… a fever?”
“Really? A fever?”
“There’s a song about it,” Red trailed off as he thought about it, then hummed a few bars. “Cat scratch fever,” he sang, then trailed off again.
“Well cats are the perfect hunters, it makes sense even a scratch from them would be full of enough killer intent to make even humans feel it.”
“Heh, guess so.” Red started petting the cat sitting on his chest, Doomfanger gave a great yawn, then started leaning into the attention while his paws clenched and unclenched. Vicious killers indeed, not to anything that didn’t have feathers or squeak.
Red was typing furiously, phalanges practically flying over the keyboard as he muttered expletives under his breath. Richard had gone too far this time and he wasn’t going to let this bullshit slide any longer. Oh no, not by a longshot. And after his major fuck up Red wasn’t going to just put Richard on blast about what a colossal moron he was, he was going to do it in front of the whole team! Everyone’s names were already CC’d in and he was not holding anything back. He’d even already attached some receipts because like hell was Red going to do something he was pretty sure would still get him in trouble without proof to back him up. Red may get in trouble, but goddamned Richard was going fucking down!
One of the cats meowed loudly and pressed against one of his legs. Damnit, not right now. A quick glance at the time and yup, it was just about time for their afternoon snack. “Gimme five more minutes,” Red grumbled as he kept furiously typing.
Now there were two cats meowing loudly and winding about his chair for his attention. Deathclaws even hopped into his lap and climbed up his sternum while Doomfanger stood on his hind paws and stretched to be as tall as possible, leaning on the chair for support.
“Just a minute, I’m almost done.”
The weight in Red’s lap shifted and suddenly there was a skeleton with bright blue star shaped pips staring him in the face.
“What the fuck?!”
A pair of bony arms wound around his rib cage from behind. “C’mon,” a deep, soft voice said in his acoustic meatus, “you’re being hangry again.”
“You always get like this when you’re hungry,” the skeleton in his lap said with a pout, then their face lit up. “So we’re going to make sure you get a snack and a nap, just like usual.”
“What?” Red blinked in utter confusion, who the fuck? What the fuck? What?!
“Sans,” the one in his lap said cheerfully, “pull the chair out a little, let’s get him away from this thing.”
“Sure.” The chair was pulled away from his desk, and out from under the desk emerged a white, fluffy tail attached to the skeleton in Red’s lap. Red leaned back as far as he could, which wasn’t far with the skeleton clinging to him the way they were, and looked the other up and down. There was a familiar black collar on his neck, and white triangular ears attached to his skull.
“What the fuck?!?!”
“Alright, time to get up.” The skeleton (Deathclaws?!?!?!) got up and tried to pull Red out of his chair by his arms, but he didn’t budge.
“Seriously, the fuck is going on? Did I have a fuckin’ stroke?!”
Deathclaws put his hands on his (naked, exposed) hips and huffed, “Really, must you both curse every other word? It’s unseemly!”
“Aw, don’t be like that, Blue. You know they’re just in foul tempers.”
“I swear they’ll feel like better people if they cleaned up their acts.”
“Oh my god, I’m havin’ a fuckin’ stroke.”
“Help me pull him up.”
With that the pair of cats? Skeletons? Shape shifters? Both took an arm each and hauled Red out of his chair, then started walking him down to the kitchen. And now Red got a good look at the other one (Doomfanger?), he looked almost completely identical to the first skeleton, the only different being his softer grin and the white pops in his eye sockets.
Deathclaws started bouncing along happily as they walked down the hallway, “It’s so funny just how short your temper gets when you’re the least bit hungry, and then you just sit there and refuse to do anything about it!”
“And here I thought I was a stubborn one,” Doomfanger said with a chuckle.
“It’s a good thing you have the Magnificent Blue and the Slightly Less Magnificent Sans here to help take care of you!”
“Gotta say, love the names your bro gave us, very imaginative.”
“That they are! Way more imaginative than Whiskers and Fluffy,” Deathclaws, no wait, Blue said acidically. “Anyway, it’s time for your snack, and then a nap.”
“I honestly don’t know why you don’t nap more, both you and your brother work too hard.”
“You really do, it’s not healthy to try working like humans do. And it’s so silly, monsters don’t need jobs or mortgages or taxes.”
Yup, Red was for sure having a stroke. Was that impossible without blood vessels and a physical brain? Absolutely. But it was also the only way to explain this sudden nonsense. Because there was no way neither he nor Edge ever noticed that the two cats they brought into their home were actually monsters this whole time, monsters that had been mooching off them. No way! Not possible.
Edge wasn’t paying much attention as he opened the front door, finally home after a long day’s work. Perhaps he’d gotten soft living on the surface, perhaps it was the knowledge Red was home to keep an eye on the house, perhaps it was the cats he’d seen absolutely shred things far sturdier than a theoretical human intruder’s skin, but the long and short of it was that his guard was down and he wasn’t paying full attention as he opened the door.
Edge looked up, suddenly on alert at the slightly desperate note in Red’s voice. There Red was, sitting on the couch stiff as a board, two strange, naked skeletons with white fluffy ears and tails draped all over him while Red’s hands were resting on their skulls. Then Edge noticed a pair of familiar black collars around their necks.
“What the fuck?”
“Boss!” Red said again, his voice sounding hopeful.
One of the skeletons nuzzled into Red’s hand, “More pets.”
Edge backed out of the house, quietly closing the door behind him.
Edge turned around, perhaps he should go make a visit to Brimstone’s new restaurant for old time’s sake, or the club Abatton had just opened, or even that spider’s weird café for some spiked tea. The point was he desperately needed a drink at the moment.