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E%actly Impurroper Enough

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One of the reasons they make such good moirails is that he's so very easy to tease. He's so serious! And sometimes, Nepeta admits, she needs some of that to keep herself from wandering off to be feral. But as much as she needs that kind of anchor to hold her down, Equius needs the friendly, helping paw of a moirail to push him off-balance sometimes, too.

He'll come up from his robot lab, bruised and victorious, staggering back to his respiteblock, and Nepeta will be there waiting for him. Perched on a table, completely improper, with a dish of milk that Arthour was kind enough to provide before he made himself scarce.

Equius stops in the doorway when he sees her. "Nepeta," he says. "I don't remember inviting you here."

"Silly," she says. She arches her back, stretching, and takes a deep breath to see if she can smell him yet. Fighting his robots makes him sweat, but only a little. She can make him do it much more. "I just came fur a visit! To see how my furocious musclebeast was feeling today."

His back stiffens a little and he starts to glance over at one of his paintings before he stops himself. "Don't be ridiculous," he says. "I am no more a musclebeast than you are a cat."

Nepeta wiggles, as if she had a real tail she could twitch. That definitely gets a reaction out of him, makes him cough and makes his cheeks faintly blue. "Does that mean you'll play a game with me?" she asks. "There are so many pawsibilities! The fearsome pouncebeast stalks her prey. Or purrhaps the noblest and strongest musclebeast looks after the littlest member of his herd!" She glances over at the pictures on his wall, because they're really detailed and it makes him sweat when she pays attention to them. "I could be a supurrb musclebeast."

"You will not," Equius says. He's definitely breaking out in a sweat now. "We will engage in no such foolishness."

"That's once," Nepeta says. Equius likes to say no to things, but sometimes he also likes it when people don't listen to him saying no, even if he won't admit to that part. She keeps track, and if he says no to the same thing three times, then he really means it and she'll stop.

He doesn't say no again this time, just stands there with his arms folded making a very serious face. Pouncebeasts are never deterred just by somebody frowning at them. Nepeta crouches on the table, leaning forward to lap at her saucer of milk.

Equius frowns harder. "Stop that," he says. "It's indecent."

Nepeta blinks at him, licking milk from her upper lip. She shakes her head slowly and leans down to drink again.

"Nepeta," Equius says. He takes a step toward her, still frowning. Sweat beads on his forehead. You'd think if he got so nervous about indecent things he wouldn't have all those naked pictures on his walls. "You will stop that and get down off the furniture immediately."

"Off the furniture?" Nepeta says happily. He likes to play her games a lot more than he'll ever actually say.

"I used no such ludicrous emphasis," he insists. "And you will do as you are told."

Nepeta pretends to wash her claws for a moment. "The kitty coopurrates," she says, "but only because she feels like it." She shrugs out of her trenchcoat, because it has lots of nice pockets but it isn't good for slinking in, and right now some slinking is called for. She oozes down off the table, front paws first, and as she pads toward him—oh, yes, now she can definitely see him sweating, and when she gets close enough to rub up against his knees she can smell the wet salt of it on his skin.

Equius is holding very still as Nepeta rubs her face against his leg. He's kind of shaking, actually, from trying so hard not to move. "You are extraordinarily improper," he says. "This is inexcusable behavior." His voice sounds kind of funny, like his throat's too tight, like he can barely stand this. But none of those things he just said were no or stop.

Nepeta sits back on her haunches and kneads on Equius's thigh. "I'm never purroper," she says, quietly as if it's a secret. It's not a secret. He's known that for sweeps and sweeps.

"Excuse me," Equius says. "I need a towel."

"No," Nepeta says, "you need a bath." She tugs on the hem of his shorts. "Come down here."

He smells delicious. "Did you...just give me an order?" he asks.

Kitties don't care about orders one way or another, and she knows he knows that. "Purrhaps," she says. She tugs again.

Equius takes a really shaky breath and then sinks to his knees, slowly, completely controlled. If only he really would play with her. He could be the strongest and most majestic of musclebeasts! But he's always careful around her, always trying not to let his strength hurt her by mistake. "You are ridiculous," he says.

"Mmmyes," Nepeta agrees. She can feel the heat coming off his skin as she twines around him, rubbing against the back of his shoulder. She licks his bare skin to taste his sweat. "That's why we're purrfect fur each other." She slinks around in front of him and leans in to lick the side of his neck, catching a bead of sweat as it rolls down.

"This is embarrassing, Nepeta," he says. Nobody else knows how quiet he can be. He's so big and so strong, and usually his voice is, too, but right now he's barely whispering to her.

Nepeta seats herself in his lap, kneading against his chest, nuzzling at his face and licking him clean. "Silly," she murmurs. "It's okay."

"It isn't," he says, but this time his fretting doesn't come with fresh heat and sweat. He's just arguing because he thinks he ought to. Nepeta is good at this by now. First teasing, then reassuring. First playfighting, then grooming. It's what kitties do.

"It is so," she says. "It really is." She leans her head against his shoulder.

Slowly, super carefully, he wraps his arms around her. Not squeezing, just being there. He takes a deep breath, and when he lets the air out she can feel him relax. Nepeta snuggles in closer and starts, very quietly, to purr.