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Here, kitty-kitty...

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BAZ

 

If I can take anything from this situation, it’s the reaffirmation that I am, really, more than anything, a fucking tragedy. A hopeless disgrace.

 

I shouldn’t be acting like this. It’s absurd. Comical, even. Laughable. Everything’s… blurry. Not at all an appropriate reaction to this situation.

 

To make it simple: Simon got a cat. Rescued it. I don’t know the details – I couldn’t make out the details –, but he found it on his way back home from the bakery. Hurt, in a box, or something.

 

You can take the magic out of Snow, but you can’t take the heroic mess out of him. How stupidly kind do you have to be to randomly take a stray cat home, without telling your roommate or your partner, and spending half of your savings on cat items – for a cat you don’t even know if you’re going to be able to keep?

 

(I wish I could at least say he could’ve asked me for the money, but I don’t think I’d be of much help, if my current state is any indication.)

 

I don’t know what I should be feeling. Maybe hurt for being left out of such a decision? It would make more sense than this ridiculous reaction. A fucking kitty shouldn’t make adult men have breakdowns, yet here I am. I can barely talk. I can barely breathe. This is unbelievable.

 

Snow’s new pet has made me react almost as strongly and desperately as when I wake up in the dark and I’m back in the coffin. When I dream about the Humdrum – Simon – pushing his emptiness into me, with fangs and hunger and the void consuming me. It’s a cat

 

I’ve faced countless horrors, and a kitty makes me freeze in desperation. I hate this (both my reaction and the cat). How fucking pathetic.



SIMON

 

Maybe adopting a cat out of nowhere wasn’t my smartest idea.

 

I could imagine Penny being annoyed over having it on the flat, and giving me a lecture about the money I “wasted”. And Baz would probably call me stupid. But freaking out like this? I’d never, in a billion years, imagine that would happen.

 

Ollie (that’s the cat’s name) (I named him) is pretty adorable. He was probably abandoned by a previous owner, according to the vet. He’s calm and sweet, and didn’t look like he’d been in the streets for a long time. But he didn’t have any information on him.

 

It was the first thing I checked when I found him. Took him to a vet to see if he had a chip, then Googled “What to do when you find a stray cat”, called the local shelters, checked lost cat reports. Nothing. So I got him home. 

 

It felt a little bit like destiny. Me, taking in an abandoned pet.

 

And he was so cute and friendly. Just… lovely. I’d had him for less than a day and he already felt right. We got along, he and I. It seemed like we could be a family.

 

So of course Baz hated him. I don’t know why this even surprised me. I found something – someone – I liked and got along with, everything between us just clicked. That’s basically an Anti-Baz.

 

I mean, sure, we’re together now. We like each other, we’re constantly around each other. But it’s not... easy. It’s not- effortless or unchallenging. It’s a dream, yes, it’s perfect, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted, I can’t imagine my life without Baz, but I don’t know if we’re ever going to get to a stage where it’s simple, or just not demanding and exasperating. And, honestly, I don’t think it would be us if this wasn’t confusing and inflamed. It can be comfortable, and beautiful, and safe, and it’s enjoyable, but it isn’t anything other than complicated.

 

With Ollie, it’s easy. Not just having a cat, but him, specifically- It’s its own kind of right. That’s something I’ve never had before – everything in my life was always difficult and… This isn’t. This wasn’t.

 

I almost didn’t understand what was going on when I introduced them to each other. Baz had no idea we had taken Ollie in, so I told him quickly that I’d “ kind of rescued a pet”, and when he saw a cat standing there, next to us… He just froze. I don’t think he was even breathing. When Ollie walked closer to him, curious and gentle, he immediately stepped back, face like stone. He looked stricken.

 

He quickly recovered, though.

 

— What the fuck. That thing is horrendous.

 

Baz! — of course I complained.— How dare you talk to my baby like that!

 

— Your baby? — I’d think he was just teasing and being an arse for fun if he didn’t look so upset repeating it back to me.— That’s the most grotesque cat I’ve ever seen in my life. It looks atrocious. Where the hell did you get that?

 

And then he just left. Exited the room, just like that. After gratuitously insulting my (very pretty, if you ask me) kitty.



BAZ

 

Worst of all? That cat is cute. I’d even dare to say it’s adorable, actually. Luckily, I’ve had enough practice on pretending to despise someone I actually loved with all my heart and soul – I can lie about a fucking cat being ugly.

 

I need a glass of water. This is going to drive me mental.

 

And the way it just walked up to me- Does this cat just not have intuition or what? At least I won’t have to lie about that, trust Snow to find the stupidest cat alive. It doesn’t surprise me, though – Simon’s always been especially idiotic when it comes to my vampirism, it’s no wonder his fucking cat would have no instinct for self-preservation.

 

No, not self-preservation.

 

Survival.

 

Survival.

 

Fuck.

 

I can’t believe this. It’s Fifth-year insecurities all over again. I see Simon Snow every day and I’ve yet to slaughter him, why wouldn’t I be able to control myself around his cat?

 

Because you couldn’t, before.

 

Because even if you’ve grown, you’re still a bloodthirsty monster.

 

I’m dizzy. I’m pretty sure my hands are shaking. Aleister Crowley.

 

There’s a reason no one around me has even thought about getting a pet in the past few years. But, naturally, Snow wouldn’t know better.

 

I don’t even think he knows about…

 

We don’t talk about it. That’s the deal. No one talks about it. 

 

He should know better, though. Even without the full story. He knows how I feed. He knows what I feed from.

 

The cat followed me to the kitchen.

 

The fucking cat is in the kitchen with me.

 

Absolutely no basic surviving skills.

 

— Merlin, just go away.— I’m talking to a cat. Amazing.— Don’t you see my state? I cannot deal with you at this moment.

 

It just stares at me, and walks closer. I know exactly how it would taste.

 

Breathe.

 

This cat must be insane or something, because it starts to rub up against my legs, purring. Marking me. I’d do something to scare it away, but even thinking about doing anything remotely predatory right now only makes me feel sicker.

 

I wish this was just about the thirst. If I were hungry, and my fangs were threatening to pop, and I was paralyzed and salivating with the animal response, it would be easier. I could just drain something else. I could...

 

This isn’t about thirst. This is about fear.

 

This is about the countless here kitty-kitty s. It’s about the dead piles of rats in the catacombs and running away from Snow. About fire and bloody fantasies.

 

But also it’s definitely not about any of these things. This isn’t about the desperation, this isn’t about not having control.

 

This is the fear of losing it.

 

I am in control. That I know for sure. I’d be fooling myself tremendously if I somehow thought that I’m not in control. I am in control. I am.

 

But what happens if I’m suddenly not?

 

What happens when I wake up in the middle of a normal summer night and there’s blood all over me?

 

My vampirism was also under control back then. The thirsty hadn’t struck. I thought I was safe.

 

And now... I am safe. I learned to deal with it. I’m in control. And everyone around me is safe.

 

Until they’re not.



SIMON

 

When I go into the kitchen, I can tell Baz is more than simply annoyed. His expression is so... broken, I don’t know what to do.

 

— Snow,— he’s breathless.— get this pest to stop rubbing up on me. It’s infuriating.

 

I look down to see Ollie head-butting his legs, circling them. He’s so adorable. I don’t see why Baz couldn’t just pet him, or, I don’t know, just walk away instead of behaving like this.

 

(If Penelope were here, I'm sure she'd say something about a cry for help.)

 

You’re infuriating.— I try to pick Ollie up and keep him in my arms, but he doesn’t like it. We’ve been experimenting, but apparently, he likes it better if he can just stand next to you, or lie down by your side, instead of actually being in people’s arms or laps. Once I put him down again, he walks away, and Baz, tense as he still is, exhales.— What’s your problem with him anyway?

 

— I hate cats.

 

— No, you don’t.

 

— Well, I hate this cat.

 

I sigh. I've been sighing a lot lately. It's easier than talking.

 

I can’t read his expression anymore, now that he’s composed himself.

 

— You met him for two seconds and ran away, there’s obviously something going on.— I step closer carefully, watching his reaction. He doesn’t do anything to indicate that I should keep my distance, so I walk to his side.— Just tell me why you’re acting like this.

 

— I just don’t like your cat!— he lets out an incredulous, breathy chuckle. I can tell it’s not genuine.— Is that actually so hard to believe? That from one look I’ve decided I dislike this cat?

 

— Yes, it is!— I don’t mean to say it so loudly, but once it’s out, it’s out.— You’re clearly going through something, and I want to know why you’re so certain you hate my bloody cat! He hasn’t even done anything to anger you, he’s been an absolute sweetheart!

 

— That’s the whole fucking point! — Baz actually shouts, and I’m taken aback a bit. I think we both flinch, but he keeps talking in a tone I’m sure none of us appreciate.— It’s supposed to be afraid! Run away from me, or something! I’m a fucking vampire, for Crowley’s sake! It’s not supposed to be a bloody sweetheart, Snow, it’s supposed to be scared of me!

 

That’s what this is about? This is ridiculous! Of course he’s not going to be scared of you, you’re not an- an uncontrolled monster or something, you’re Baz, you’re bloody Baz! You’re- you’re fucking lovely and gentle, of course he’s going to like you!

 

— Well, it shouldn’t!— he’s still loud, but he’s getting choked up.— And if you knew anything, you wouldn’t either! And you wouldn’t let your pet just rubbing up against me!

 

I stop to breathe. Now that I know this is where he’s coming from, I know objectively that I have to act calm about it. This isn’t going to get anywhere if we just yell at each other, as familiar as that is.

 

Baz is still pretty insecure about his whole vampire thing, even if now he is more in control. He’s started to act more casual about eating around me and going hunting, and he’s learned to deal with his fangs better, but it’s still not something we can talk about lightly. 

 

I wish we could. I wish he would show me more of that side of him. I feel like it’s a whole part of Baz that’s closed off, and I can’t really know, as much as I’ve seen. And I want to know all of him, not just the pretty parts. So I need to be delicate.

 

— Baz...



BAZ

 

I don’t want to hear it.

 

If we talk about this, I’ll have to tell him. I’ll have to tell him. And then-

 

Well. Then it’s over, isn’t it? He’ll understand, actually understand, what I’ve been on about for all these years. How disgusting and- monstrous I really am.

 

Don’t.— I catch myself saying.— Just keep your cat away from me, I don’t like it.

 

— Are you sure you don’t like him?— he touches my arm, and I try my best to not look terrified.

 

— I don’t. It’s a stupid cat, without basic survival instincts. And the way it acts- I hate it.

 

I’m pretty certain I already love that cat. It reminds me too much of Simon.

 

— I don’t think you do. I don’t think you hate him.— Simon moves his hand down slowly, to hold mine. I let him.

 

— You can think whatever you want. It doesn’t change how I feel.

 

He lets go of my hand to rub at his temple, and lets out a sigh.

 

— Baz...— he doesn’t look me in the eye, nor does he reach out for my hand again.— Can we go to the living room sit and actually talk about this as grown-ups? I literally can’t speak to save my life, so if I think we need to talk, it’s probably something really relevant.

 

No. No. No.

 

It’s stupid, Simon. We don’t have to.

 

He rolls his eyes so dramatically I can almost hear it.

 

— You called me Simon. It’s obviously not stupid.

 

He’s right. Both about it not being stupid, and about me calling him Simon because of it. I’m so distressed I didn’t even notice I had slipped.

 

— Come on.— he tugs at my shirt, and walks off to the living room. I follow him – I’d follow him anywhere. I’d follow him to the end of the world. I really don’t have anything else to do, if not to follow him.

 

We sit on the sofa and he stares at me, waiting for me to start talking.

 

I don’t want to. For once in my life, I feel as I’m in Simon’s shoes. Talking… How could I ever tell him everything I’m thinking?

 

This time, he does reach out, and takes my hand in his.

 

It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not know how to start.

 

I take a deep breath.

 

— For starters, I actually don't think I hate your cat.— he smiles at that.— I’m sorry. It was kind of a… Simon Snow situation. If you get what I mean.

 

He nods. He really wants me to keep talking, doesn’t he?

 

Merlin. I’m actually going to say it. All of it.

 

Another deep breath in.

 

I can do this. I can do this.

 

— Back when I was fourteen, we had a dog.

 

He seems surprised by that, but doesn’t really react.

 

I’m going to pass out. (I’m not. Not right now. This time, it’s just me being dramatic; but let’s see how this conversation goes.)

 

— Go on.— he squeezes my hand lightly.

 

— When… After I came back home for that summer… It was when the thirst really set in. No one really knew what to do. No one would even dare to acknowledge out loud that I was a vampire, let alone talk about ways to help me cope with the pain and the bloodthirst.

 

Snow is barely breathing, like he sees where this is going, but is too scared to confront it.

 

— I thought that maybe… If I’d ignored it… It could just go away. I didn’t want to act on it, I’d never hurt anyone because of it. I figured, as long as I was feeding on normal food properly… It shouldn’t be a problem. So...

 

I can’t do it. I can’t look at him.

 

— I didn’t do anything about it, not at first. I’d cry myself to sleep and feel all the pain that came with… I don’t even know, it was like I was Turning once again. Except now, when my father would walk into the room, I could tell before, from hearing his heartbeat. When Mordelia would come to me, I could feel her blood flowing around her body. When Daphne would bring me my meals, once my fangs had popped and just wouldn’t go back, I would smell her and go mental imagining how her blood would taste.

 

I’m not going to cry.

 

— But of course, that couldn’t last as it were. It was physically painful for me, not to feed. I can barely go a few nights without getting blood now. So… one night…

 

I’m not going to cry.

 

— I just ran. Off to the garden, to the woods. I needed to find something, anything to drain. I had no idea how I’d do it, but I was going insane with the thirst- I acted on pure animal instinct. And… she was there. The family dog. Out in the garden. She… saw me, and, I don’t know. Got worried, followed me? Or just wanted to play. I’d barely seen her the past couple of days, because of… Well. All that was going on.

 

Merlin, Baz...— I think he wants to hug me. I don’t let him. I need to get this out, and then never talk about it again.

 

— When I realized what was going on, I was out in the woods, covered in blood from head to toe. It would always be so nasty and messy when I was first figuring out how to feed. And that first time… I wasn’t figuring it out. I was acting on instinct, barely aware of what I was doing.

 

I only realize I actually am crying, and not only holding back the tears, when Simon cups my face in his hands.

 

— Fuck, Baz, I’m so sorry. For all this happening to you, of course, but also... I’m sorry I said the way you reacted was ridiculous. I- I can see, now, what drove you to that. I’m really sorry-

 

I cut him off by hugging him. This is truly all I need, not an apology. Just- being held. Being comforted.

 

I don’t know for how long I sob with my face hidden in his shoulder, but once I’ve stopped, his face is wet, too.

 

— They never talked about it, you know. Everyone pretended they didn’t notice when she… disappeared. I’m pretty sure they even cast something to make Mordelia forget we ever even had a dog. This is why we don’t do pets, Simon. No one around me does.

 

He nods. At least that’s sorted out.

 

— But, you know, you’re not that boy who doesn’t have any idea of what’s happening to him and doesn’t know how to control himself. You’re so strong, Baz, and you’re in control now. You know more about what’s going on. You have people that can help you. You can trust yourself. All of us do. Even Ollie.

 

I shake my head and put some more distance between us.

 

— Your cat has a death wish. It doesn’t mean I’m not a threat.

 

He sighs and gets up.

 

— Just give it a chance, okay?

 

I don’t have time to argue before he leaves the room.

 

If I make a run for it, could I get to my car before Simon catches me in the act?

 

He comes back before I can finish the thought. He has the cat dangling from his hands.

 

— Hey, Ollie, I think you two started on the wrong foot. This is Baz.

 

Simon and the cat are on the couch with me. It stretches its arms out before it comes to my side, staring.

 

— Hi, Ollie.— and there I am, talking to the cat. Again.— Sorry I said those nasty things to you. I don’t actually hate you. Can we be friends now?

 

I reach out my hand to touch its head, and Ollie leans into it.

 

I feel like I’m going to combust.

 

— Good. Friends, then.— my voice’s a bit choked up again.— Do you mind if I keep drinking from cats? Nothing personal.

 

Simon pinches me playfully – even though we're not exactly on the joking stage of my relationship with vampirism, he knows I’m joking – and sits a bit closer to me. That makes Ollie come into my lap, and rest its head on my crossed legs. Simon’s gasp is the loudest I’ve ever heard – and he says I’m theatrical.

 

— Son of a bitch- He doesn’t lie like that on anyone!— by his tone and his words, he’s complaining, but I’m sure Ollie doesn’t catch the bite in it, since Simon is stroking it behind its ear and it's purring like the feeling is heaven.— Jesus. Trust my cat to like you better than me, alright.

 

I chuckle, and try to appreciate the feeling. No fear. Only Simon, by my side, and Ollie, lying in between my legs.

 

Until, of course, the bastard hugs my ankle, and digs its horrendous claws into my skin. I immediately catch it in my hands and throw it at Snow, who’s laughing his arse off.

 

— I take it back. I hate your fucking cat.