Adam couldn’t afford two cats.
He knew that. He told himself that every time he walked past the box that the little ginger kitten had been left it. Sometimes it was chasing its tail, other times it was trying to catch old candy wrappers which fluttered down the street. Once or twice it had been asleep, curled up in its cardboard box and purring loudly.
Adam already had a cat and he didn’t think Sam would take to well to him bringing home a friend for him.
Sam was some sort of huge crossbreed that Dean had found sitting under one of the cars at the garage. No one had ever come to claim him so eventually Dean had given him a good home with Adam. Dean was really Sam’s owner, with the amount of money he spent on him buying treats and toys and the attention he paid to Sam when he visited but Dean’s apartment didn’t allow pets whereas Adam’s did so Sam was officially Adam’s. He’d cost a lot in vets bills because he’d eaten something noxious when Dean had first found him and he’d had to have his stomach pumped. He’d lain on the couch when Adam had bought him home, eyes half closed, and Adam had slowly nursed him back to health. Now Sam was boisterous, although still on special cat food, but Adam was still paying off the loan he’d had to take out to help cover his part of the bills.
He couldn’t afford to take in the little ginger kitten, although it was growing obvious every day that no one else was going to.
When Adam found the kitten licking the inside of any empty hotdog wrapper and mewling pitifully he didn’t really know what came over him but he’d scooped the kitten up in his arms, carried him inside and before he even made it into his apartment he’d named it Gabriel.
Gabriel, as it turned out, had fleas and he managed to give them to Sam within a day of moving in so both of them ended up covered in cat shampoo and in the shower with Adam wearing rubber gloves and trying to stand well back. Sam seemed to enjoy baths and he especially enjoyed the time afterwards where Adam combed through his fur and paid him extra attention and called him handsome. Gabriel tried to bite his fingers.
Adam let Sam sleep on his bed where Sam always ended up sprawled over him and crushing his chest because Sam was a big cat. He’d meant to keep the kitten in the bathroom but Gabriel had had other ideas and the second Adam opened the door he’d dashed between his legs, scaled the side of the bed and pounced on to Sam’s back. He’d bitten a great mouthful of fur, growling playfully until Sam rolled over and squashed him underneath him. The kitten, undaunted, had crawled out from underneath him and jumped onto his stomach instead. Round and round they went in a ball of orange and black fur until they managed to topple off the bed.
Adam fished Gabriel out from underneath the bed, looking at him carefully and then sighed.
“We’ll have to book you into the vets.” He said, poking Gabriel in the stomach and Gabriel batted him on the nose in retaliation. Sam heaved himself back onto the bed, casting a reproachful glance towards Adam and the kitten and went to settle himself on Adam’s pillow.
Adam didn’t got a lot of sleep that night between Sam huffing angrily in his ear all night and Gabriel running up and down his stomach under the blanket. He fell asleep in the middle of his lectures and ended up having to borrow notes. He came home to find Gabriel had discovered how to open the cabinet where the cat food was kept and the bag was now emptied over the floor with both Sam and Gabriel tucking into what amounted to their suppers for the next two days.
Dean came round, took one look at the kitten, announced that he was “definitely trouble” and got bitten on the foot. Sam cuffed Gabriel round the back of the head and Adam tried not to feel disheartened that Sam still preferred Dean to him. Sam was a cat after all, not a person and his preference for Dean was most likely due to the new catnip mouse that Dean had in his pocket. Sam drooled over it happily and kicked it to death with his back paws while Gabriel hid under the couch, growling and occasionally worrying Dean’s socks with his sharp little teeth.
The next day Adam came home from his lectures to find the two cats asleep on the bed together. Sam was curled up around Gabriel who was so small he was only a flash of ginger fur amongst Sam’s dark. Sam was licking his ears while Gabriel purred loudly and happily and he looked up when Adam came in. Adam almost felt like he was intruding and then Sam proudly gave Gabriel another lick. Obviously he thought Gabriel cleaned up nicely. As they’d eaten most of their dry food they had tuna for dinner. Normally Sam wolfed this treat down but this time he ate half of what he had and then let Gabriel finish the rest. Gabriel ate with gusto and then tried to steal the peperoni topping from Adam’s pizza.
Adam worried he might have worms because no matter how much Gabriel ate he never seemed to put on weight. After dinner the two of them curled up in the sink to prevent Adam from doing any washing up and he came in a little later to find Gabriel licking the cheese and tomato smears which had been left on his plate while Sam experimentally jabbed a large black paw at the tap and then hissed when water came out.
They seemed perfectly content with each other apart from when Gabriel jumped at Sam or when he attacked Dean. Those were the only times that Adam ever saw them fight. Otherwise Sam seemed a little besotted by the kitten – bringing him presents; odd socks he fished out of the washing basket or one of his favourite toys and grooming him when Gabriel allowed it. Gabriel likewise seemed utterly delighted by Sam who was always ready to play with him and Adam could always tell when they were curling up and ready to go to sleep because Gabriel’s deep, loud purr would rumble round the apartment. It always seemed strange that such a little thing could make such a lot of noise but Gabriel was full of surprises.
Eventually Dean found another apartment with a landlord who was a soft touch where Dean was concerned, and who didn’t mind if Dean bought Sam with him. Adam tried to box Sam up but the cat who was usually a gentle giant scratched his hand and hid under the bed, joined by Gabriel who yowled at the thought of Sam going anywhere without him. Dean tried to grab hold of Sam only to get a nip from Gabriel and the two cats remained completely unfazed by plates of tuna or catnip mice. They stayed together, two pairs of glowing eyes in the darkness, daring Dean or Adam to try and get them.
“You’ll have to take them both.” Adam said finally. Dean sighed, running a hand through his hair. He and Gabriel still didn’t see eye to eye despite the fact that Dean normally bought kitty treats with him on his visits. Gabriel would eat them grudgingly and then initiate another round in his on-going fight with Dean’s foot.
“Or they can both stay here.” Dean said, glancing under the bed again. A large black paw came out, patting him gently on the cheek and Dean sighed again. “I think they’re staying here.”
Adam tactfully avoided drawing any attention to the stoop in Dean’s shoulders or his unhappy expression when he left the apartment carrying the empty cat box. Adam couldn’t exactly claim that Sam and Gabriel liked him more. They liked each other. As soon as Dean had closed the front door they were out from under the bed and chasing each other over the furniture, calling to one and other and eating the forgotten plates of tuna. Adam almost felt angry with them, especially Sam, since he wouldn’t have had a home at all without Dean but Sam was a cat. They obviously didn’t feel guilt or gratitude in the same way people did. When Adam got into bed that night and Sam and Gabriel snuggled up together at his feet, grooming each other, Adam knew they wouldn’t have been happy apart. It hadn’t even been something he’d thought about when he’d picked Gabriel up off the street, what Sam’s reaction would be, but he’d never thought that Sam would fall in love with the little ginger kitten. He reached down to scratch Gabriel behind the ears and heard that window rattling purr again. Both he and Sam had fallen in love with Gabriel. Adam hadn’t wanted them to leave either if he was honest. The apartment would be lonely without the two of them, being infuriating and getting their hair everywhere, without Sam trying to join him in the shower while Gabriel provided a running commentary from outside the bathroom door, without the solid weight of the two of them on the bed.
It didn’t come as very much surprise to Adam to find out later that Dean had related the whole sob story to his landlord when he’d come back without a cat and that Dean was now sharing his bed with a decidedly non-feline form. Dean did eventually get a cat. A grey, mangy thing that had seen its fair share of fights and was lame in one paw. It went by the name of Bobby and ruled over Dean with an iron fist.
As for Adam he found out he could afford two cats. Gabriel, once he’d had a full check over and an operation that was imperative to prevent the spread of little versions of Gabriel if he ever got out, was pounced healthy but due to his early life of malnourishment it was likely he’d never grow to be a big cat. He still ate both his own food and most of Sam’s and Sam still let him. They still burrowed into the bed with Adam and they still curled up around each other at night. Sam was still a little besotted with Gabriel and Gabriel still bit Dean when he saw him.
They were maddening, imperfect and completely loveable cats and they wouldn’t have been without each other and Adam wouldn’t have been without them either.