If he was honest Magnus hadn't had the best of days. For a start he’d had to battle with city planners and contractors over the plans for his latest project and in the end had to agree to modify his design, which in his opinion was perfect, and that always grated. The extra work on top of his usual schedule meant that he ended up leaving the office late and by then the heavens had opened and of course it was the one day he couldn't find an umbrella. By the time he reached the bodega near home he looked more like a drowned rat that the award winning architect and style icon he actually was.
Magnus brushed his damp hair out of his eyes as he unpacked his shopping and it was only when he reached the bottom of the bag that his mood improved. It was silly really, but the just the sight of the box of cat food made him smile. The reason was simple, ever since he’d moved into his penthouse apartment six months earlier he’d been trying to win over a stray kitten that had been living in the alley behind the building.
Recently things had been going well, despite the setback when he had to take the cat, who he named Chairman Meow, to the vets for neutering. Chairman had studiously ignored him for pretty much a month after that. Now though the little cat seemed to be getting his confidence back. Whatever time of night Magnus finally made it downstairs he’d find Chairman peeking round the side of the dumpster and in the last few weeks he’d even allowed Magnus to stroke him while he eat. Last night he purred and Magnus only could've danced with joy at the sound. Magnus was quite sure it would only be a matter of time before he won the kitten over and persuaded him that living the life of luxury in a large apartment with comfy sofas was far preferable to sleeping in a gutter.
Carefully Magnus sorted through the box of food before picking out a tuna flavoured one. It was Chairman’s favourite and quite frankly with the horrible weather the little cat deserved some spoiling. As the lightning flashed outside the window Magnus made a mental note that he really must invest in a waterproof kennel for Chairman before heading out to the elevator carrying the little cat’s freshly washed food bowl and pouch of food with him.
By the time he made his way downstairs the storm was in full force and Magnus mentally gave himself a pat on the back for remembering to bring an umbrella with him. As he stepped out into the alleyway scanning around to look for Chairman the first thing he noticed was a large cardboard box covered with what looked like a sheet of tarpaulin.
The box was between the two large dumpsters on the other side of the alleyway and it was only as Magnus approached that he noticed that someone had carefully cut a square out of the front. There was still no sign of Chairman, which was odd, but as he got closer he realized why when he saw a pair of green eyes looking at him from the back of the box.
Crouching down he saw Chairman curled up in the back on what looked to be an old black jumper and at the front of the box was an empty saucer with some remnants of tuna dried onto it.
If he was being honest Magnus was torn, on the one hand he was glad that someone had provided a shelter for the little cat but on the other hand well, that was a side of himself he wasn't really proud of because Magnus was a little annoyed. Over the past few months Magnus had got very attached to the little cat and he’d practically started to think of him as his. It was silly really, but the thought of someone else trying to win Chairman’s affection made him, well, jealous.
Magnus glared at the saucer as if it would give him a clue as to who could be feeding Chairman but it was just plain white and it didn't give him any hints at all. He was so busy trying to work out who the little cat’s mystery benefactor was that he didn't even notice Chairman emerge from the box and ended jumping when the little cat headbutted his knee.
“Oh sorry Chairman, I was miles away.” Chairman looked at him wide eyed before blinking slowly. That was a good sign right? Magnus vaguely remembered reading somewhere that slow blinking was cat’s way of showing they trusted you.
Chairman meowed loudly as if annoyed Magnus was taking so long with his dinner and Magnus chuckled softly.
“Fine...I get the message…” Holding the umbrella with one hand Magnus placed the bowl on the floor and tore the pouch open with his teeth. As it turned out it really wasn't that easy to feed cat one handed. Who knew?
With Chairman occupied with his food Magnus’ eyes drifted back to the box. It was childish he knew but he really wanted to work out who had left it there so carefully he reached inside and pulled out the pullover hoping it would give him some clue. At some point it’d been black but now was a dull gray and littered with holes, the size and appearance would make it a man’s jumper, the kind of thing owned by a middle aged man. Magnus smiled in satisfaction, he was pretty sure he had a good picture of who’d left it, in all likelihood some bored housewife who decided to get rid of her husband’s old clothes.
Well petty though it was Magnus was determined to stake his claim. Reaching in his pocket he fished out a marker pen, grateful that because of his job he always had writing equipment stashed somewhere. The cardboard was slightly damp due to the rain but Magnus managed to finish his task without damaging it too much.
By the time he was done Chairman had already finished his dinner and retreated back into his box, licking his paws contentedly. Magnus smiled softly to himself as he looked at his handiwork. Written in large letters on the box were two words... Chairman Meow.
As he stood up, dusting down his pants he winked at Chairman. At least now it was quite clear that the little cat wasn't exactly a stray and someone, namely him, was looking out for him.
If Magnus had hoped that decorating the box would've made a statement the next week made it clear he was wrong. The very next day when he went to feed Chairman someone had scrawled in biro just underneath his writing. The words ‘a cool name for a cool cat’ seemed to be taunting him. Again the saucer was there and again evidence that it had been filled with food that Chairman had polished off.
Whilst it was still damp that evening the rain had stopped so Chairman was out and about and came scampering up when he heard the distinctive sound of Magnus opening his food. The little cat seemed to be getting friendlier everyday, rubbing himself against Magnus’ hand and now purring loudly. Magnus knew he was making headway and he was damned if he was going to let some phantom cat feeder win this battle. That very night he ordered the plastic kennel he’d been thinking about and added a catnip mouse for good measure.
From there things deteriorated. The day after he’d set up the kennel he went downstairs to find a fluffy cat bed in there and just the very sight of the pawprint fabric was enough to make his blood boil. Of course he could've risen above but instead he ordered a high end cat bowl emblazoned with Chairman’s name. Quite frankly as the week progressed Chairman was getting so much food and so many presents that it was a miracle he could still fit in his kennel.
The final straw was when he went down to find a new cat bowl practically overflowing with kibble. Enough was enough, Magnus was determined to find out who the phantom cat feeder was.
The trouble was it just wasn't that easy and it seemed as though the wanna be cat stealer was elusive to put it mildly. First of all he tried checking in on Chairman early morning on his way to work. By the time he arrived at 6 am his cat feeding nemesis had already been and gone judging by the freshly refilled feed bowl. He tried late at night and even once at midday but still he couldn't find who was trying to win Chairman’s affection.
It all came to a head one night when he was out for drinks with his good friends Catarina and Ragnor. In Magnus’ defence he had had more than a few martinis by the time the topic of his latest obsession came up.
“I swear whoever they are they’re like a ghost..and annoying cat feeding poltergeist.” Magnus ranted waving his arms around frantically. “Maybe they’re a feline stealing ninja..”
Catarina laughed and Ragnor just frowned .
“Please tell me he’s not referring to that mangy kitten in the back alley.” Ragnor rolled his eyes as he looked at Cat who just laughed in response.
“Chairman Meow is not mangy. The vet said he was very healthy and I’ll have you know he is very handsome.” Magnus pouted.
“Still a cat though.” Ragnor muttered.
“Ragnor you wound me.” Magnus held a hand dramatically to his chest. “Chairman is like a child to me..”
Magnus pointedly ignored Ragnor muttering under his breath something that sounded a lot like ‘for the love of god’
“And there is no way in hell I'm going to let some frumpy housewife steal him from me...you know what I'm going to stay in that damn alley until the mysterious feeder arrives…” Magnus continued on with his diatribe.
“Magnus honey don't you think you're getting a little, well, obsessed.” Catarina said kindly.
“Obsessed! I’ll show you obsessed.” Magnus grabbed his coat and jumped to his feet.
“What in hell do you think your doing..” Ragnor grumbled.
“I'm gonna catch the cat stealer red handed.”
“But it’s 2am..” Catarina tried her best to calm him down but to no avail.
“Well it’s as good a time as ever...I've tried everything else.” Now the idea was in his head there was no dissuading him. In fact Magnus would go so far as to say he was certain tonight was the night he was going to catch the phantom cat feeder.
“We’re going with him aren't we?” Ragnor grumbled
“Of course we are..” Catarina laughed as the pair followed a determined Magnus out of the bar.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, Magnus’ building was only a short walk from the bar and by the time they arrived Magnus was still fueled by alcohol and a healthy dose of righteous indignation.
As he rounded the corner into the alleyway there was no mistaking someone bending down by Chairman’s kennel. Finally Magnus had caught them.
“Ah-ha...caught in the act.” Magnus declared loudly making the figure spring to their feet and when they turned round they were not what Magnus was expecting. Not at all.
“Now who are you?” Magnus murmured as he was faced not with the frumpy middle aged housewife he’d expected but over six feet of literal perfection.
The man stared at him wide eyes, his bright blue scrub top riding up a little as he ran his fingers through his dark hair nervously. He was, in Magnus humble opinion, the most beautiful man he’d ever seen.
“Alec?” Catarina stepped past a frankly stunned Magnus and the man broke into the sort of smile that made Magnus weak at the knees.
“Cat?” Alec replied as Cat burst into delighted laughter.
“Ok would someone like to fill me in on what’s going on here?” Ragnor grumbled.
“Well it would seem that Magnus’ cat feeding nemesis is our new surgical intern Alec.” Catarina was almost beside herself with amusement.
“Wait, what? Nemesis?” Alec frowned in confusion as Magnus stepped forward having regained some of his composure.
“Oh ignore them. I was just wondering what kind person was helping out with Chairman and now we’ve met I can't help but feel it’s a terrible shame we’ve been missing each other for weeks.” Magnus ignored the indignant splutter from Ragnor as he stepped forward. “I take it Alec is short for Alexander? I'm Magnus I live on the top floor.”
“Um yeah but everyone calls me Alec. I just moved into 3B..” Even in the dim light of the alleyway Magnus could see that Alec was blushing and he was pretty sure it was the most adorable thing he’d ever seen.
“I think that’s our queue to leave.” Catarina stage whispered to Ragnor
“About bloody time.” Ragnor replied.
Magnus barely even noticed them leave too busy gazing in adoration at Alec.
“So the nemesis thing?” Alec asked a lopsided smile on his face.
“Ummm well, it a funny story really..Let's just say it’s possible I may be a little competitive.” Magnus shrugged, smiling delightedly when Alec laughed.
“Yeah me too..” Alec admitted almost sheepishly.
It was at that point that Chairman made an appearance, winding his way through both men’s ankles.
“Well I don't think Chairman minds to much..” Alec laughed. “Maybe we should, um, grab a drink and discuss visitation rights. I mean if you like.”
“Darling, I would love that.” Magnus grinned.
Of course as it turned out, after all the drama of those few weeks, who had ownership of Chairman didn't matter in the end. By the time they’d finally won over the little cat six months later there was no doubt where he’d live. No by then it was obvious, Chairman Meow naturally became the latest resident in Magnus and Alec’s shared penthouse.