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Kitty Cornered

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(If you are reading this on any PAY site this is a STOLEN WORK, the author has NOT Given Permission for it to be here. If you're paying to read it, you're being cheated too because you can read it on Archiveofourown for FREE.)

Steve wasn't exactly starving in a garret. WPA poster work kept him fed and his landlady kept 'accidentally' making a little too much dinner. He'd given up telling her that no amount of pasta or frank and beans casserole was going to make a bit of difference to his physique. It was easier, and kinder, to accept the neatly wrapped waxed-paper packets that he really didn't want.

He sneaked the latest offering out of the tenement and across the street to an alley near a park, unwrapping it and laying it down on the sidewalk. He moved back a few feet and flipped his sketchpad to a clean page. He justified the waste of feeding strays by using them as models. The army liked lean, mean dogs on their posters.

He sighed as a skinny black kitten, totally unsuited to scaring the enemy, skittered between garbage cans and began gulping down hot dog pieces, but he didn't have the heart to chase it away. He started sketching it. Maybe he could sell it for a greeting card. It did have pretty blue eyes. He could just... fatten it up a bit, add a ribbon. Maybe an adoring child with a ball of yarn.

He was concentrating on his drawing when a dog rushed past him. It was a mean, snarling, muscular mongrel, just the kind the army liked. It went for the poor little kitten. Steve yelled, "Hey! Cut that out!" as they rolled over and over, spitting and snarling while fur tufts went every which way. He picked up a stick. "You big bully!" He threw the stick, hitting the dog on the side with possibly enough force to knock a flea or two off.

The combatants separated for an instant. The kitten lashed its tail, fur bristled to make it look larger, but it still would have easily fit in a cigar box. The dog backed up a step, warily looking at Steve who was getting another stick. The way was clear for the kitten to escape and Steve relaxed slightly.

"PSSTT!" the kitten hissed as it ran straight up the dog's back, landed on its head and began clawing with all four legs at once. The dog screamed and whirled around in a circle, tail between its legs, before trying to escape. The kitten jumped off and watched the dog run down the street, kiyi-ing shrilly.

Steve picked up his sketchpad. "Maybe a cat's not such a bad subject for the army."

The kitten blinked at him, limped back over to the strewn food and resumed eating hot dog bits while he sketched. When its stomach was visibly rounded it stopped eating and began licking one paw. Steve moved closer to it, expecting it to run. It paused in its washing, pink tongue hanging out, paw still lifted, and growled at him, the menacing sound ending in something like a breathless squeak. He laughed and the kitten's ears flattened, blue eyes doing their best to look menacing.

"Oh, you're a tough guy, all right. Tough little Tony, that's you." Steve was unutterably charmed. He moved suddenly, and grabbed the kitten by the scruff of the neck. It went instinctively limp and he held it up to give it a good look over. "How about you come home with me. Just until your leg's better?" He stuffed the kitten into his coat pocket and buttoned it shut.

There was an indignant 'mew!' followed by a few seconds scrabbling about. Then the kitten began purring. Steve laughed, and headed back to his apartment. His mother had told him that black cats were lucky in England. Now that he had a mascot, maybe he'd go back and have another try at enlisting.