"Book store looks good, Garrett."
"Free wifi, even. The CIA went all out."
"I'm giving up cats."
Zane looked at Kelly curiously, his bacon cheeseburger hovering somewhere in the vicinity of his lips. Sidewinder's medic looked uncharacteristically dejected. "I...see?"
"The Doc has a love-hate relationship with cats," Digger explained around a mouthful of chicken fingers. "He loves them and they hate him."
Zane lowered his burger back onto his plate as he tried to come up with something to say. "Ah."
"I'm telling you, Jiminy and Cricket didn't hate you! They definitely would have told me," Ty insisted.
The men seated around the table shot him varying looks of disbelief.
"You're cracked, Six, you know that?" Digger said after a moment.
Owen shook his head, snorting softly as he reached for the pepper. "Well, they sure didn't like him."
"Stick a sock in it, Johns."
"Maybe they're just mean animals. You ever think of that?"
Ty let out an outraged howl. "Shut the fuck up! My babies are fluffy clouds of goodness and light."
"They're not mean," Kelly said morosely. "Cats just don't like me."
"You just need to learn to work on your feline communication."
"Have you tried catnip?" Owen snickered. "Maybe you can relate to them better if you're both stoned."
Nick dropped the mozzarella stick he'd been eating and wrapped an arm around Kelly in support. "It's cause you're too easy, babe."
Kelly frowned, turning his head so that his jaw brushed against Nick's shoulder. "What's wrong with easy?"
"Cats are stubborn assholes." Nick shrugged. "They only like other assholes."
Shots fired. Zane bit his lip against the laughter that threatened to bubble to the surface, glancing sidelong at Ty. He'd opted to maintain a hands off approach toward Ty's fur babies, which was easy to do since he avoided them whenever possible and yelled for Ty when it wasn't. He was reasonably happy with the arrangement as it stood, aside from the occasional scratched ankle.
Kelly, on the other hand, looked so put out that Zane felt compelled to offer his support. "If it's any consolation, they've never liked me either."
"Case in point," Nick went on. "Cats love Tyler, and he's the biggest asshole I know."
Ty spat out a mouthful of soda. "Dude, pot meet kettle much? Jiminy was in your lap like two seconds after you sat down!"
"I didn't ask for him to sit there!" Nick protested.
"You never ask for them to sit there, they just do!"
"Lucky has always had a way with cats," Digger mused, and Owen nodded in agreement.
"That's true. Remember those kittens we had back in Jacksonville?"
Nick flushed pink as Digger cackled madly, nearly falling out of his chair. "Oh hell, yeah! They followed him around the fuckin' house! He'd run to his room and lock the door behind him and they'd meow and scratch to get in. They loved his ass."
"That's because he spent so much time running away that's all they ever saw."
Nick flipped Digger and Owen the bird and then gave Kelly an apologetic smile. "Sorry, babe."
"S'ok, Nicko. I love you, too. How can I blame them for that?"
As a chorus of 'Awww's' went up around the table, Kelly seemed to shake himself back to normal, his bad mood sliding off him like water off a duck's back. Within a few seconds he was even smiling, and the twinkle was back in his changeable blue eyes. "Nope, this is it. I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm done with cats. Besides, a cat wouldn't work now with Packrat, anyway."
"Packrat?" Ty asked doubtfully. Zane thought he was still faintly scandalized at the thought of anyone giving up on his kitties.
"I got him last month. He's a rescue. Here..." Kelly withdrew an iPhone from his back pocket, which he thumbed on and turned so that they could see. "See that? He's furry and he likes me."
Zane squinted at the screen. "What is that?"
A look of horror spread across Ty's face. "Oh, hell no!"
Zane raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"It's a ferret!"
"That's like a weasel, isn't it?" Zane asked, glancing at Kelly for confirmation.
"Yep. You ever see a ferret in action, Garrett?" Kelly asked, grinning.
"It's a ferret!" Ty repeated.
"They're twitchy," Nick answered as Ty gave a full body shiver.
"So twitchy," Kelly cooed. "You and Ty should come over for a visit."
"Oh my god!"
Zane stared at Ty for a long moment.
This was the man he'd decided to spend the rest of his life with on purpose. "I don't understand," Zane said slowly, "how a man who has no problem leaping from the upper story of a burning building into a swimming pool can be terrified of a weasel."
"They're scary, Zane!" Ty flailed for emphasis, nearly taking out the ketchup and a salt shaker. "That war dance they do? That's how demons dance in hell!"
"It could've been worse," Nick interjected. "He almost went with a chipmunk."
"Dude, that shit's not funny."
"No. It's hilarious."