“Hey! Hey, John!”
John snuffled a bit, stirring from one of his more pleasant dreams and wondering who it was that was trying to get his attention so he could kindly tell them to piss off. He had spent the past three days running mostly on caffeine, take-out, and the occasional nap. He wanted to make up for lost time.
When he heard scratching at his window, he immediately groaned and burrowed further into his duvet. He already knew who it was, and he forgone the “piss off” stage, and just went onto the feigning sleep stage so they would go away.
“John! John! Come on, John, wake up!”
“No…” John groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. “No, no, no…”
“John! John, I can do this all night!”
John really couldn’t find himself to care about that. He probably could just fall asleep, even to the annoying sounds coming from his window.
“You know, I think you’re actually awake, John. And I think you’re ignoring me.”
“Now you’ve got the idea…” John murmured, trying to let his own fatigue lull him to unconsciousness.
“John, I will sneak into your flat and destroy your laptop. I will break the skull to pieces! I will tear your jumpers to shreds!”
“Can always get new jumpers…” John reassured himself as he snuggled in as deeply as he could.
“Please, John! I haven’t eaten in days! You’re the only one I can turn to!”
John let out a deep, resigned sigh as they used guilt to get him up out of bed. Forcing his muscles to move, he sat up and glared at the window, where the scrawny, disheveled calico was perched, stretched up on its hind-legs and staring at him with wide, bright eyes.
This was why John disliked cats. Granted, dislike might be strong, but out of all the animals out there, they were very low on his list of animals to befriend. A lot of animals get excited when they figure out a human can understand and communicate with them, but cats will use this knowledge and milk it for all they could.
He had this… whatever-it-was for as long as he could remember. When he was younger, he appreciated it, and used it often, hiding it the best he could, especially as he got older. In Afghanistan, he did his best to ignore it, focusing more on serving queen and country. After Afghanistan, it was something more of an indulgence; a comfort even, as animals were the few of God’s creatures that he felt he could be honest to. This was how he met Cass.
Cass, who was currently begging to be let inside.
Grudgingly, he pushed himself out of his bed and just glared at the mangy feline as she slithered down into a sitting position, waiting patiently for the window to open. After a short staring contest, he finally sighed, opening the window.
“I really hope you have a good reason for waking me up.” John groused as Cass slithered past him.
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” She purred, hopping gracefully onto the floor and then jumping onto his bed. “I don’t know why you’re so testy. You usually like me stopping by.”
John shut the window with more force than what was probably needed. “I’ve had a rough couple of days.” He murmured, rubbing at his arms.
Cass’s torn ear twitched and she shuffled a little. “Ah, I see. That mate of yours giving you trouble?”
“He’s not my ‘mate’.” John snipped, walking around his bed and reaching for his dressing gown.
“Oh please, you smell of him every time I come here.” Cass said.
John sent her a glare, and she seemed to perform a feline version of a shrug.
“All right, all right. I won’t push.” Cass said, walking across his mattress. “But perhaps you should consider it. You’re quite tense, after all. A good sha-.”
“Cass.” John bit out, pulling his dressing gown tighter across his body.
“Sorry, sorry.” Cass said. “No need to be snippy.”
“Can we change the subject, then?” He asked as she jumped off the bed.
“Will I get food?”
“I’ll see what I can scrounge up for you.”
“Then I would just love to hear about your recent case! Lead the way, mama’s hungry!”
John let Cass lead the way out of his room, down the steps and through the sitting room. He had no reason to worry about Sherlock, who was possibly more exhausted than he was, sitting around, working, playing his violin, or generally being awake. It was a secret blessing of his as he was free to dig up some leftover chicken and milk, putting them in dishes as Cass devoured them on the countertop.
“Was that a head?” She asked between bites. “I thought I saw a head in that fridge.”
“It’s best not to ask.” He said tiredly, deciding on making himself some tea.
“But this food was in there!”
John gave her a look. “You don’t have to eat it…”
“No! No no!” Cass protested. “It’s fine! Just… your friend does know he could store that thing elsewhere, right? Like, oh, not here?”
“What do you think I keep wishing to happen?” John asked as he put a tea bag in his mug, waiting for the water to boil.
“Ah, well, at least the food’s still good.” Cass mused. “So. New case. Talk to me.”
And as Cass continued to pick at her food, John told her about the drug peddlers, about a deal gone wrong, and the days spent trying to locate and arrest them. He talked about Sherlock’s deductions and of Anderson’s shortcomings. By the time he was done, he was halfway finished with his tea and Cass was on her third helping of chicken.
“I wonder.” Cass mused as John hummed around a mouthful of tea. “Does he know about… you know…”
John knew what she meant. “No.” He said. “To be honest, I’d like him to never know.”
“But why?” Cass asked. “I’m sure he’d find it fascinating. Find a way to work it in on his cases. Maybe a few experiments...”
“That’s exactly it.” John said. “I’d rather not be experimented on, and the last thing I need is for Mycroft to step in and send me to the loony bin.”
“Oh, I doubt he’d let that happen.” Cas said. “I mean, what if there’s a dog at a crime scene, and he’s seen the suspect? Don’t you want to be able to tell Sherlock that?”
“Look.” John said. “I don’t-.”
John jumped, looking up to see Sherlock standing at the entryway of the kitchen, rubbing at his face, his bed sheet hanging loosely around his shoulders. His hair was fuzzy, and his eyes droopy, even as he furrowed his brow at John, looked curious.
“That’s your flatmate?” Cass hissed. “John, why aren’t you sleeping with him?”
“Sherlock,” John said, blatantly ignoring the cat on the counter. “Sorry I woke you.”
“I heard you talking.” Sherlock murmured. “Was wondering who you were- Oh!”
Sherlock’s eyes widened slightly as he spotted Cass on the counter, who mewled happily.
“I’m sorry, Sherlock.” John said as Sherlock continued to stare. “It’s just… she was hungry, and I-.”
John cut himself off as Sherlock leaned over, clicking his tongue and motioning Cass over, whom practically sauntered up and purred loudly as he scratched at her good ear.
“No need to be ashamed, John.” Sherlock said. “At least I now know why we keep running out of milk.”
“Cass doesn’t come here often enough for that, Sherlock.” John stated, rinsing his mug out. Because of this, he missed Sherlock’s eyebrow quirking upward.
“You’ve named her?”
John inwardly flinched. “Yeah,” He lied, putting his mug up to dry. “I met her after I came back from Afghanistan, and she’s followed me ever since.”
Sherlock seemed amused as he started stroking the cat, all the way from head to tail. “Usually cats return to a place of residence, not just follow the previous resident from place to place.”
John just shrugged. “Well, I can never shake her off.”
“Hey!” Cass complained, despite the fact that her hindquarters were raised as Sherlock scratched her there.
Sherlock hummed, finally moving to scratch her chin. “I remember how we used to have barn cats.” He said softly. “One year, the female had a litter. I wanted to take one as my own, but Mummy wouldn’t let me. She said I was too irresponsible, and Mycroft thought I’d try to dissect it.”
For a moment, John thought the exact same thing, but he saw the look in Sherlock’s eyes, and his unguarded expression of tired happiness as Cass seemed a bit sympathetic and butted her head against his chin. It was hard to remember that Sherlock was still human, even as a curious child; and every child probably wanted a pet at some point. Even a young Sherlock Holmes probably wanted the company of a cat or dog, one that he wouldn’t want to experiment on. Not in a harmful way, anyway.
“Well,” Sherlock said, as if he finally made a decision. “She’s obviously feral, a very docile one, but she’s never had a real owner. Doesn’t have one now, anyway.”
“Clever…” Cass said, looking at John. “But you already knew that.”
John tried to wrap his mind around what Sherlock was suggesting. “Sherlock…” He started. “Do… are you suggesting that we…?”
“We can look for someone else to take her, if you’re so uncomfortable about it. It’s not like we can really just kick her out again.” Sherlock stated. “Mrs. Hudson would like her. She used to own a cat.”
“Cats are a big responsibility, Sherlock.” John stated seriously, trying to ignore the more pressing problems, like his secret being found out.
“Oh, come on, John!” Cass whined. “At least let me stay for a couple of days!”
“Cats are very independent creatures, John.” Sherlock stated. “She can entertain herself when we’re not around. Even Mrs. Hudson could keep an eye on her.”
“I can be a good indoor cat.” Cass said. “Besides, it can’t stay warm forever, John.”
John looked back and forth from Sherlock to Cass. Eventually, he sighed. “Fine.” He stated. “But you’re helping me take care of her, Sherlock.”
Sherlock just grinned. “Excellent. I knew you’d see it my way. Now,” He said, scooping up a startled Cass into his arms. “She can spend the night with me then.”
“Wha-? But, Sherlock-!” John sputtered.
“It’s okay…” Cass said. “I’m not complaining.”
And as he heard the door shut to Sherlock’s room, he ignored Cass’s chatter and groaned, leaning over the table and resting his forehead in his hands.
Having a cat live with them was one thing. Having one that was as annoying as Cass was another. On top of all that, having one like Cass around with John’s abilities? The ones he tried to keep secret?
“This is it…” He groaned. “I’m royally fucked.”