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“Mr. Reese, we may have a problem,” Finch’s voice says in John’s ear.

John frowns and turns away, letting Larry Duquesne (32, accounts payable, bad speller) slump to the ground and continue crying. “Are you all right?” Today’s number was a fairly straightforward case of blackmail. Finch was supposed to be out walking Bear in the park and well away from any of the action.

“I am in no imminent danger,” Finch says. “I... it’s probably easiest to show you. You’ll see when you get back to the library.”

When John gets back to the library eight minutes later, short of breath and with one hand on the butt of his gun, Finch is sitting at his computer even more stiffly than usual with his gaze fixed on the far corner of the room.

“Bear has adopted a friend,” he says, his tone excessively neutral in that way that only he can manage it.

John edges around the corner of the table and peers cautiously over at Bear. The dog is wedged between the file cabinet and the wall, staring back at John and Finch with his hackles raised. There is a dirty ball of fluff between his front paws.

As John watches, the dirty thing moves and reveals itself to be a kitten. John feels his eyebrows climb.

“He carried it back in his mouth,” Finch says. “He won’t let me come any closer. I was hoping you’d have better luck.”

John eyes the kitten dubiously. It is, as far as he can tell under the dirt, kind of mottled in color, with a white (grey?) chest and either grime or stripes tossed into the mix as well. It’s sitting up now, licking itself with a kind of primness that shouldn’t be possible on an animal. It notices John watching and gives him A Look.

“Hey!” John says, impressed. “Bear found himself a Finch!”

He can hear Harold pull himself up in affront. “He most certainly did not!”

John points. “It’s giving me your look, Finch. It even limps.”

“Of the two of us, I was not the one who was homeless and disreputable when we first met,” Finch says icily.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

By the next morning, the kitten has cleaned itself up enough to reveal its fur to be tweedish in color with a white chest and a faint smudge on one side just where a pocket square would be. It even has markings around its eyes that look, with a little imagination, like glasses. Finch is distinctly unamused.

He is even less amused when it turns out that the kitten’s favorite place to sleep, if Bear is unavailable, is not in Bear’s bed or on the blanket they keep for emergencies. It’s on top of Finch’s keyboard.

“Bear did not go out and find a cat version of me, Mr. Reese!” Harold snaps when John points and raises his eyebrows wordlessly. He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Unfortunately, since Bear seems to be irretrievably attached to it, I suppose we’ll have to come up with a name.”

This is a problem. Neither Harold nor John are very good at naming things. Harold once built the most advanced machine known to man and named it ‘The Machine’, and most of the identities he’s built for himself since the 1970s have started with flipping open The Field Guide to the Birds of North America to a random page and pointing. 95% of John’s aliases start with ‘John’ and the rest, if he’s feeling whimsical, are from stolen credentials.

Consequently, the cat remains ‘kitten’ for several days, or occasionally ‘that cat’ and once, memorably, ‘@*%$&^$#$!!!!’, which John had never realised could be done in spoken form.

At the end of the week John’s taking care of a number across town when inspiration strikes. The job itself is pretty easy - a standard stalking case that is solved by unleashing Carter on the stalker and then allowing the stalkee twenty minutes of yelling at her ex-husband over the phone in increasingly insulting Arabic. It does, however, have the unforeseen complication that for those twenty minutes Miss Abusaab’s preschool class becomes John’s responsibility.

“So!” John says, faced with twenty-four tiny pairs of eyes and no violence in the offering, “I need some help. Can one of you think of a good name for my kitty?” He cues up a relevant photo on his phone and holds it out.

The class digests this solemnly.

“Popsicle,” says a boy in overalls.

“Darth Vader,” says a girl with about thirty bright pink barrettes in her hair.

It goes downhill from there.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“We are not naming the cat... that word,” Finch says when John finally manages to drag himself back to the library. Despite his best efforts, the class had indeed absorbed some very situationally specific bits of the Arabic language.

“Noted,” John says, trying to collapse on the couch in a way that will allow him to conceal just how badly the fingerpainting had gone.

“I asked Bear’s vet for advice,” Finch says. “She says that cat names often end with an ‘ie’ or a ‘y’.”

John considers this. “‘Kitty’?” he offers after a moment.

“That’s all I could think of as well,” Finch says, shoulders slumping. “Perhaps a baby names book would be of use. I’m sure I’ve got one somewhere.”

John frowns and calls Carter. “What would you name a cat that looks like Finch?” he asks without preamble, ignoring Finch’s glare.

There’s a long silence on the other end of the phone. Finch cues up the feed from Fusco’s desk; Carter is staring at her phone in narrow-eyed suspicion.

“Uh,” she says after a moment. “Besides the obvious? I don’t know. How did you name Bear?”

John hangs up, disappointed. Bear ate bearer bonds. The kitten eats kibble and once made a decent effort at gnawing on one of Finch’s computer cables, but ‘USB’ doesn’t really roll off the tongue. He eyes the disapproving line of Finch’s back for a moment. Finch would probably catch on if he suggested a bird name.

So... what else does the kitten do? It sleeps (on Bear), plays (with Bear), and cleans itself (and then Bear). ‘Bear’ is already taken.

Wait. There is somewhere else the kitten sleeps.

“Keyboard!” John crows. “No, wait - Qwerty!”

Finch freezes. “Actually, that’s not bad.” He turns until he can see the kitten. “Qwerty?”

The kitten looks up at him. John and Harold beam at each other.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“So,” Fusco says several days later, “Is there something going on with a cat? Carter was really unclear about it.”

“Bear adopted a kitten,” John says nonchalantly, as though it hasn’t been A Thing for two weeks now. “We named it Qwerty.”

“What the hell kind of name is that?”

John looks at him.

“It’s a great name,” Fusco says, backing off. “Wish I’d thought of it.”

John nods, vindicated. He and Harold are great at naming things.