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Day 9: Cheese

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Amidst the shredded silver and blue wrapping paper, in front of the table where the 8th candle in the menorah has barely had a chance to start dripping, Charlie lies on the ground and sobs, “No cat! No cat, Harbey!”

“Did you even know she wanted a cat?” Finn whispers to Kurt and Noah.

Noah shrugs and shakes his head. “No,” he whispers back, and Kurt shakes his head, too.

“No cat,” Charlie continues to wail. “Nobody cats, Harbey!”

Harvey turns and glares at Finn, then at Noah, and then Kurt before turning back to Charlie. “Sorry, Charlie. Sorry.”

“Sorry, Harbey,” Charlie replies, through sniffles, the breaks into a new round of sobs. Harvey glares even harder, and Finn stifles a snicker over the classic Kurt Hummel sneer on Harvey’s face.

“You think we could go put on a cat video or something to calm her down?” Finn asks.

“I guess we’re going cat shopping before Christmas,” Noah says, shaking his head again.

“We have Ennis,” Eliza says to Charlie and Harvey.

“Dat’s Papa cat. He old,” Charlie says, scowling at Eliza.

“Hey!” Noah says, seemingly offended, and Kurt stifles a laugh.

“Well, he is kind of old,” Finn admits. “Sorry, baby. Sorry you old cat.”

Noah makes a pouty face in Finn’s direction.

“You’re going to insist on another squashed face one, aren’t you?” Kurt asks.

Noah scoffs. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“I guess it’s good that there’s at least a few things in this house that aren’t wildly attractive,” Finn says. “I’d rather it be the cats.”

Kurt laughs. “Everyone’s less attractive than the three of us, darling.”

“Nah, our kids are all way better looking than us. Except Charlie. We’re throwing her back!” Finn says. Charlie starts laughing, apparently forgetting that she’s recently stricken with lack-of-cat misery.

“Charlie’s not a fish!” Harvey says.

“I not food!” Charlie adds.

“That’s true. She’s not a fish, but she’s not food, either,” Finn says. “Speaking of food, I think it’s time for Papa to make blintzes. Don’t you think so?”

“Food! Food!” Charlie says, grabbing Harvey as she jumps to her feet.

Two weeks later, Noah makes a trip out to Connecticut, and Finn, Kurt, and Noah spend Christmas Eve trying to figure out how to safely cram two large Himalayan kittens into a box without them suffocating or scratching each other or making too much noise. The orange-ish one keeps yowling, though, so they settle on wrapping the boxes and putting the kittens in right before the kids get up in the morning.

“They can sleep in your room,” Kurt suggests.

“Or they can not sleep in my room, and sleep down in the guest room instead,” Finn counters.

“They might get lonely in the guest room,” Noah says. “All cold in the basement. Clearly you are not a cat person, darling.”

“They have each other,” Finn says.

“Poor unnamed kittens,” Noah says with a sigh, picking up the quieter of the two and heading towards the stairs. Finn shakes his head and picks up the other kitten, the orange-ish one, and follows Noah to the stairs.

“They’ll have names in less than twelve hours,” Finn points. “If we’re being realistic, more like less than eight.”

“And six if we’re unlucky,” Kurt adds.

Finn nods. “We’ll count on six.”

They get the kittens deposited in the guest room, with only a little complaining from the orange-ish kitten, and before Finn, Noah, and Kurt get into bed, Finn sets his alarm for what is hopefully early enough for him to get up and puts the kittens into the box before the kids wake up. The three of them don’t get to sleep quite as early as they probably should, considering the kitten situation and the number of people who’ll be opening presents at the crack of dawn, so when the alarm goes off, Finn hits it with a loud grumble.

“Stupid kittens,” Finn says.

“Poor alone kittens,” Noah mumbles into Finn’s chest, but he doesn’t open his eyes or make any attempt to move.

“Mmmhmm,” Kurt agrees, but he doesn’t move either.

“So, that’s me going and putting the kittens in the box, then?” Finn asks.

“No,” Noah protests, his arm wrapping around Finn.

“Well, either you have to move or you have to let me move,” Finn says. “If the kittens aren’t in the box, you can deal with the Charlie tantrum.”

“Let’s tell the kids it’s not Christmas yet,” Noah continues.

“Eliza can read,” Finn reminds him. “She’ll tell the Peas.”

“Dammit.” Noah sighs and barely rolls off Finn, then stretches an arm across to Kurt, running his finger down Kurt’s nose. “We have to get up, blue eyes.”

Kurt makes a face. “I know.”

“I’ll go down and get the cats. Meet me by the tree with the box,” Finn says, pulling on some pajama pants and a t-shirt. He quietly walks down all the flights of stairs to the guest room, where the quiet brown-and-white kitten is happily curled up on the bed, asleep, and the noisy orange-ish kitten immediately pounces on Finn's foot, digging in its needle-sharp claws. “Ouch. We’re naming you Bamboo Skewers.”

The kitten mews at him, so he picks it and its brother up, holding one in each arm as he walks back up to the main level, where Noah and Kurt have the box ready. Finn plunks the kittens into the box, puts the lid on, and ties the large bow around it, hoping that’ll keep the lid on. Since the lid has holes, there’s really no way to disguise that the box contains live animals, but maybe Finn can convince the kids it’s a lizard or a snake or a duck first.

“Coffee?” Noah says, holding up the mug in his left hand.

“That’s why I love you,” Finn says, taking the mug.

“Guess it’s good I worked at Starbucks for years then,” Noah says wryly.

“Merry Christmas, darling,” Kurt says, leaning his head back on the sofa.

Finn sits down on Kurt’s other side, draping his arm across the sofa back, and closes his eyes. He feels like only a few minutes have passed before little feet come thumping down the stairs and into the living room, followed by Charlie’s loud chant of “Daddydadpapa! Daddydadpapa!”

“Kids are awake,” Finn says.

Kurt laughs sleepily. “I heard.”

“So did they,” Noah says quietly, and nodding his head towards the box of kittens.

“Dads!” Eliza says. “This box is making noise!”

“Dis box for Peas!” Charlie says, pointing to the tag on the box of kittens. “P. E. A. S.”

“Peas’ noisy box!” Harvey agrees, grinning at Charlie.

“Open, open!” Charlies demands, clapping her hands. “Open da box!”

“Guess you’d better open it, Harvinator,” Finn says.

Harvey nods, pulling determinedly on the bow until it unties, then flips up the lid. “Cats, Charlie! Cats!”

Charlie claps her hands even harder. “Oh! My cats! My cats!” She reaches into the box and pulls out the orange-ish kitten, who meows in protest, but doesn’t scratch or try to escape. “He name-a Cheese!”

“Cheese?” Noah repeats in a whisper.

“Dat my cat! He name-a Cheese,” Charlie says, staring Noah down like she’s daring him to argue with her.

“Cheese,” Noah repeats, shrugging a little. “Okay, Char. Is the other one Harv’s cat?”

“Yes. Dat Harbey’s cat.”

“What’re you naming your cat, Harvey?” Finn asks. “Crackers?”

“No, Dad,” Harvey says, picking up the brown-and-white kitten and holding him at eye level and frowning.

“Still no Jack allowed,” Kurt says.

“Cheese Too!” Charlie shouts, holding her Cheese to her chest.

“No, Charlie’s cat Cheese,” Harvey says, still frowning at his kitten.

“You can name him Duck,” Finn suggests.

“Or Cleve,” Noah says with a mostly-straight face.

“What happened to cliche pet names like Fluffy?” Kurt asks.

“Cleve!” Harvey repeats, smiling at the kitten. “Cheese and Cleve!”

“Yay, Cleeb! He name-a Cleeb!” Charlie agrees. “Cheese an’ Cleeb!”

“I guess their names are Cheese and Cleve,” Finn says.

“No one’s going to believe us if we say that Harvey named his own cat Cleve,” Kurt points out.

Noah laughs. “Harvey and Cleve, Charlie and Cheese.”

“Noah and poor old sad, fat Ennis,” Finn says, with a mock sad face.

Noah makes a exaggerated pouting face as Eliza announces, “And no cats for me, because I don’t want a cat!”

“Poor Ennis,” Noah says. “You’re going to make him self-conscious one of these days.”

“That cat’s so fat, it would take him a week to be conscious of his whole self, and he’d have forgotten about it by then,” Finn says. “Merry Christmas, Peas. Eliza, why don’t you open some non-cat boxes now?”

Eliza nods and turns to inspect the boxes, starting to make piles, and Kurt and Noah lean their heads against Finn. Noah laughs after watching the Peas with the kittens for a minute. “Good thing Santa came through when the Armadillo didn’t.”