Characters/Pairing: Neal, Peter; Gen
Genre/Rating: Fluff; G
Word count: 1100
Notes: Written in response to this prompt by love_82 at collarcorner.
There is… not a lot of plot to be found here *gg*
Summary: Neal encounters a kitten.
- o -
"What's that noise?" Neal asked.
"Neal, focus," Peter said automatically — it had been a somewhat trying morning — and then actually registered the words. "What noise?"
Neal shook his head, momentarily frustrated. "I heard it a moment ago — there!"
Now Peter caught it too — a high, faint bleat, coming from near the garbage bins of the tower of offices. "Probably a rat," he said, doubtfully. "Leave it alone."
Neal, however, had never been one to go for the sensible course of action. He was already crouching down, his best investigative expression on his face. "I think it's coming from this shoebox," he said, and flipped off the lid.
Peter had remained a few feet back, not wanting to encounter a face-full of pissed-off rat, but at Neal's surprised exclamation he stepped forward to look.
Inside the box was a kitten.
It didn't look to be more than a few weeks old; a tiny tabby-striped thing staring up with huge amber eyes. Then it opened its mouth and mewed. Neal scooped it up into his hands, making small comforting noises at it.
"It's so thin," he said worriedly. "What do we do?"
"We should drop it off at an animal shelter," Peter said. "Cute thing like this, someone's bound to want it."
Neal was staring at it transfixedly. "Don't you think we should feed it, first? What if it gets detained in processing?"
"It's not going to prison," Peter said, exasperated. Then he looked at the way Neal was cradling it to his chest, his face anxious, and he rolled his eyes. "Fine. We need to head back to the office anyway — you can give it some milk or something there."
Neal beamed like he'd just stolen the moon or something.
- o -
Really, Peter shouldn't have been at all surprised that most of the work-related activity in the office would stop when Neal Caffrey walked in with a kitten curled up inside his hat.
"Thought you were trying to find a loan shark," Jones commented.
"We still are," Peter said, pointedly. Most of his people took the hint and went back to their jobs.
Diana stroked the back of its head gently with her forefinger. "Not that I'm complaining, but what's it doing here?"
"She's hungry," Neal said, slightly defensively.
The kitten lifted its head and blinked at the sound of his voice. Mew.
"Come on," Peter said, and steered Neal towards the break room, his two agents trailing behind them. He was struggling to maintain a stern facade, but someone needed to be the adult in this frankly bizarre situation.
The kitten was found a saucer of milk and it lapped it up quickly, pausing every now and then to look up at Neal, as if making sure that he hadn't gone anywhere. Diana was standing behind Neal and failing to entirely hide a grin behind her hand. Jones was kneeling down on the floor, also watching the kitten with fascination.
"So," Peter said, halfheartedly, "There's this nice shelter in Brooklyn, it's not too far out of my way home."
Neal looked up at Peter with such a beseeching expression that Diana broke down into laughter. "Peter?" he asked.
Peter sighed. "Yes?"
"Can't I keep her?"
Peter raised his eyebrows. "You want to adopt a cat."
"Please?" Neal begged. "She was abandoned. I can't do that to her again."
"Stop being so melodramatic." Peter looked to Diana and Jones for help, but Diana was still laughing silently and Jones merely shrugged. "Doesn't June have a dog?"
"It's okay, he likes cats."
"Of course he does," Peter muttered. "Neal, you can't just go around adopting kittens you find in boxes."
"I'll only do it this once, I promise," Neal said, and his face was so ridiculously earnest that Peter found himself grinning despite himself.
The kitten tiptoed over to nuzzle the toe of Peter's shoe before dashing back to the safety provided by Neal. She mewed again.
"I'm sure this is violating your release terms," Peter said. "And I'll have to hear from June herself that she's okay with this."
The kitten began purring, and Peter had an urge to ruffle Neal's hair to see if he would make the same noise.
- o -
The next day was a Saturday, and Peter made it to mid-afternoon before he gave in to the urge to see how Neal was getting along with his new charge.
Neal didn't seem at all surprised to see him when he opened the door. "I bet you've just been interrogating June," he said.
"Not exactly," Peter said. "Just making certain that she hasn't reconsidered."
Neal didn't look at all perturbed. "There's some beer in the fridge, I think," he said, waving vaguely.
Peter helped himself, and then joined Neal on the couch. On the rug there was a brand-new navy cat bed, one that was obviously expensive, and a bunch of toys. There was also Neal's hat. It was tipped on its side, and a tabby shape was curled inside it.
Peter couldn't stop himself from laughing. "Looks like you two really are suited for each other. You both have the same fashion sense."
"She'll get too big for it soon," Neal said. "But she really likes it, so..."
"She have a name yet?"
Neal laughed. "Vivien — after a lovely but rather morbid poet. Mozzie felt she was insulting him with her cheerfulness." He smiled fondly in the direction of the kitten.
"I just can't believe you've got yourself a cat," Peter said. "It doesn't exactly fit with the suave image you've been cultivating."
As if on cue, Vivien blinked awake. She flicked her tail and cast her head around. As soon as she located Neal she scampered over to him, to be scooped up into his lap. She was already looking much healthier than she had the day before. "Hey, you," Neal murmured to her, and was rewarded with purring. Peter hesitated, then reached out to stroke her. She curled up and rubbed her forehead against his palm.
"She's going to be beautifully suave once she's grown," Neal muttered, slightly indignantly, as if there had no interruption.
Peter grinned, and ignored him to scratch Vivien's neck. She purred louder. "You're a clever kitten, aren't you," he said, "Finding such a nice human with a nice place to live to look after a poor lonely waif like yourself." He let his eyes widen. "Hey, that story sounds really familiar."
Neal pouted. "Stop making bad analogies."
Peter tipped his head to one side. "You're right, she isn't a criminal. Yet." He poked Vivien's nose. "You're going to set a good example to your pet, aren't you?"
Neal beamed. "Peter, of course I am!"
"I wasn't talking to you," Peter said. He grinned some more. "I was talking to the cat. She totally owns you."
- o -
ETA: This story now has a sequel, written by sholio. Read it, it is lovely!
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