Characters: Ianto, Cat, Jack.
Word Count: 2180
Summary: Ianto is gradually adjusting to having a feline houseguest. It’s an… experience.
Written For: Challenge 298: Cat at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Three weeks into his unintentional cat ownership, Ianto thought he was more or less getting the hang of it. He provided food and water, shelter, and warm places for napping, and Cat basically did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, up to and including sleeping draped half over Ianto’s head if Jack was being too fidgety in bed for Cat to lie comfortably in his favourite spot, snuggled up between them. It hadn’t taken Ianto long to figure out that cats made their own comfort their first priority and everyone else was just expected to deal with it.
Not that Cat appeared unappreciative of his efforts; Ianto was always greeted affectionately on his return home from work, no matter what hour of the day or night that might be, life as a Torchwood agent making for somewhat irregular hours. He purred contentedly when curled up on Ianto’s lap in front of the television, or when they went to bed, or when he was comfortably ensconced in the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter while Ianto fixed them both some dinner. Ianto found he rather liked the purring; it was a pleasant sound, if sometimes loud enough to be mistaken for a lawnmower, or a motorcycle revving up.
All in all, living with a cat wasn’t so bad. Yes, cat hair did get everywhere, messing up Ianto’s immaculate suits, but lint rollers were proving very effective for dealing with that, and Cat didn’t object to being vacuumed whenever Ianto ran the Hoover over the carpets and soft furnishings. In fact he genuinely seemed to enjoy the experience and as a helpful side effect, it served to reduce the number of fur balls deposited in conspicuous places.
There was also a certain amount of scratching of furnishings, which Ianto considered more of a problem than the cat hair, but the proprietary sprays designed to deter such behaviour appeared to be having the desired effect and Cat was mostly restricting his scratching to things that didn’t matter too much, although Ianto had soon learned never to completely close the doors to the lounge or his bedroom. The carpets on both sides were slightly the worse for wear from Cat wanting in or out of said rooms and apparently attempting to dig his way past the obstruction.
Ianto sometimes got the distinct impression that the cat was training him rather than the other way around. He wasn’t sure what it said about him that it seemed to be working.
“I suppose I’m becoming a cat-approved human,” he said with a sigh one evening as he attempted to do some work on his laptop while most of his lap was occupied by a large, purring bundle of cat, leaving only a scant few inches to balance the computer on. It looked like he might have to get some sort of small computer table he could pull close to the sofa if he wanted to be able to work at home; either that or he’d have to sit at the dining table, which wouldn’t be anywhere near as comfortable as relaxing on the sofa. In the meantime, he’d either have to stop working or try to balance his laptop on the sofa arm, which, when he tried it, proved equally precarious not to mention awkward. In the end he gave up, watched TV, and stroked Cat instead, which was most likely exactly the way Cat had planned it.
The following day, Cat apparently decided Ianto was now behaving well enough to deserve gifts. He woke to the by now familiar weight of Cat sitting on his chest, but there was something a bit muffled about the tabby’s usual morning greeting. He found out the reason for that the moment he opened his eyes; Cat was lightly gripping a wood mouse in his jaws and as soon as he saw Ianto was properly awake, he dropped the mouse on Ianto’s chest. Since it was still very much alive it didn’t stay there long, instead diving for safety beneath the covers.
Ianto wasn’t afraid of mice, and in fact he quite liked them provided they didn’t invade his home. Having a mouse in bed with him, however, was not his idea of a good time; he didn’t think he’d ever got out of bed faster. Less impressively, especially considering the number and variety of aliens he’d helped to round up over the years, it took him a good three hours, with Cat’s helpful ‘assistance’ to corner the poor mouse so he could put it back outside where it belonged. He had to call Jack and tell him he’d be late to work, thanks to his unhelpful houseguest and the unexpected gift.
With the mouse finally evicted, Ianto stripped and remade his bed to get rid of any lingering essence of mouse, put the bedding in the washing machine, put Cat firmly out in the back garden, and locked the cat flap so he wouldn’t come home to any more uninvited guests.
Cat was clearly very smart and understood that Ianto had not appreciated his ‘gift’ so two days later, he brought Ianto an early morning frog, again very much alive. That was no more appreciated than the mouse had been, although it proved a little easier to catch and evict, thanks to some quick thinking on Ianto’s part, and the use of his bedroom waste bin, with a file folder placed over the top, as a temporary frog holder so he could pull some clothes on before venturing out into the garden. Thankfully, the frog had failed to get into bed with him, but then again, it had looked a bit too dazed to try.
Nevertheless, once again Cat found himself locked out of the house all day, with dry food and fresh water left on the patio, and the door to the tool shed wedged ajar so he could find shelter in case it rained. Ianto might be annoyed about having his bedroom turned into a nature reserve, but he wasn’t unkind.
If Ianto thought he’d persuaded Cat that he didn’t want gifts, he was wrong. A few days later, he was proudly presented with another one. His whole body tensed up when the heard the already familiar muffled ‘Mrow’, immediately dreading what poor creature Cat might have brought him this time, but it was no good putting off finding out. He slowly opened his eyes…
The pigeon went out the bedroom window, somewhat ruffled but still able to fly, the feathers went in the bin, and Cat went out the back door in disgrace. Not that Cat would see it that way. Ianto was slightly impressed that Cat had managed to catch something as big as a woodpigeon but he didn’t let on, not wanting to encourage a repeat performance.
The following day, the grass snake went straight out the window too. Until that moment Ianto hadn’t been aware there were grass snakes in Cardiff; he thanked his lucky stars Cat hadn’t brought home an Adder.
For a few days after the Grass Snake Incident, no more ‘gifts’ were presented and Ianto dared to hope Cat had finally got the message. His hopes were soon dashed. On the plus side, Cat at least seemed to have given up making live offerings to his human.
‘Mrow!’ Once again Cat’s morning greeting was a bit muffled and Ianto cautiously opened his eyes to see his houseguest peering at him past the white feathers of a shuttlecock, which was promptly dropped on his chest. It was a bit damp, but otherwise a definite step up from having something living and disgruntled dropped on him. Ianto picked it up.
“Wherever did you find this?” Was there perhaps a secret Badminton player in the neighbourhood?
Cat just gazed at him inscrutably. Cat was better at being inscrutable than Jack, or even Ianto himself, which was saying something.
This being a much more acceptable kind of gift, Ianto was lavish with his praise. In retrospect, maybe he overdid it just a bit because his approval opened the floodgates and the gifts just kept coming.
“My cat is a kleptomaniac,” he told Jack wearily one morning.
“Really? I thought you said it was a silver tabby.”
Ianto shot his lover a withering look and Jack deflated.
“Okay, not in the mood for jokes then. What’s happened now?”
“You remember me telling you about the shuttlecock a couple of weeks ago?”
“Yes, and we still haven’t had a game with it!”
“Haven’t had time have we?” The Rift had been in one of it overactive phases and the whole team had been so busy there’d been no time for indulging in recreational activities. “Anyway, we don’t have racquets, and even if we got ourselves some, I don’t think my garden’s big enough. One of us would probably end up in the pond. That’s beside the point. I now have three shuttlecocks, four screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, a hairbrush, a garden trowel, two potatoes, a bag of daffodil bulbs, an egg timer, five assorted balls of wool, a bra, and two pairs of ladies’ knickers. I’m beginning to think it’s not a real cat at all, but the Rift in cat form.”
“The vet told you it was neutered tomcat,” Jack reminded him. “I’d think she’d be able to tell the difference between a real cat and a fake. Even shape-shifters can’t fool a thorough examination.”
“That’s possibly the only point in Cat’s favour,” Ianto muttered, not entirely sure what he meant by that.
“Maybe it’s a home delivery Cat-alogue.” Jack beamed at Ianto with his ‘aren’t I clever?’ look on his face.
Ianto gave Jack his unimpressed look.
“Okay, so still not in the mood for jokes.”
“Would you be? I’m being inundated with other people’s property, I have no idea who any of the items belong to, and my home is beginning to resemble a bring and buy sale.”
“So what are you going to do? Get rid of the cat?”
“No!” That idea had never crossed Ianto’s mind; he might not be enjoying all the gifts Cat was presenting him with, but despite his initial reluctance in letting it stay he’d grown used to having someone waiting for him whenever he made it home. It was nice. “Re-homing Cat probably wouldn’t work anyway,” he added. “He’d just come back. Once he makes up his mind about something that’s it. He decided he was my cat, whether I wanted a cat or not, so I suppose he’d better stay. Besides, I sort of like having company on the nights you have to stay at the Hub. I’d hate to think all the effort he’s put into training me was going to waste.”
“Perish the thought,” Jack agreed with a smirk.
In the end, Ianto decided the best course of action was to advertise, so just as when Cat had first insisted on moving in with him, he put up a notice in the window of the corner shop, and hung flyers on lamp posts and telegraph poles around the neighbourhood, explaining that his cat had embarked on a career as a cat-burglar and started bringing home other people’s property.
‘If you’ve noticed anything missing from your home or garden, please contact me by text or email with your address and a description of the missing item(s). If my cat has found them, I’ll see to it that they’re discreetly returned to you.’
He included a phone number and email address at the bottom, but omitted his own name or address. The last thing he wanted was to have irate neighbours showing up on his doorstep at all hours demanding their property back.
Jack read through one of the flyers. “Does this mean we can’t keep the shuttlecocks?”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Of course that would be your first thought. If they’re claimed they’ll be returned.” Then he shrugged. “Doesn’t mean we can’t buy some of our own, and the racquets to go with them. We could always take them to the park for a game, assuming we can ever find the time.”
“Or we could play at the Hub; there’s plenty of room on the firing range.”
“We’ll see. Right now I’m more interested in dealing with my cat’s ill-gotten gains.” Ianto smiled ruefully. “As annoying as Cat’s kleptomania is, it still beats having a mouse or a wet frog dropped on my chest at six in the morning. There are some wildlife encounters I can do without.”
“So you’re just going to secretly return items every time Cat brings them home?”
“What else can I do?”
Jack suddenly started to laugh and Ianto narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
“What’s so funny?”
“I just got this image of you wandering the streets in the dead of night, dressed head to foot in black, posting shuttlecocks, potatoes, and underwear through your neighbours’ letterboxes.”
Ianto’s shoulders sagged. “And I thought my life was weird enough before I acquired a pet.”
“You can’t say owning a cat isn’t entertaining.”
“They’re certainly full of surprises,” Ianto agreed.