“No.” Ed’s hand clenched tighter around the handle of his umbrella as he stared down at the tiny thing with big eyes and tiny sharp claws. “No way in hell.”
Rainy days fucking sucked.
Okay. Fine. Not all rainy days sucked, the first one they had after Al had gotten his body back was pretty sweet. Except for the whole worrying about if his still too thin brother was going to get pneumonia from it. But still, the way Al’s eyes had lit up like a fucking fireworks display when he realized he could feel it, that he could feel the rain and brother, it’s cold! That, well, that probably saved all rainy days in Ed’s opinion. Anything Al loved that unrestrained could be saved from Ed’s ire.
So, okay, not all rainy days sucked, but it was damn near close. And today sucked most of all because not only was he out in a torrential downpour that had near completely soaked Ed despite his umbrella, and not only did he grab Al’s umbrella instead of his rightfully bad-ass gargoyle themed one and was now stuck with a pair of cat ears and a painted on cutesy cat face, and not only did his automail ports ache and twinge like nobody’s business, but today, Al was sick.
As if that wasn’t enough, seeing his brother miserable and coughing and sneezing and peering longingly outside at the “wonderful” rain he couldn’t enjoy, now Ed was stuck, halfway home from the store, medicine clutched in one hand, umbrella in the other, staring down what was sure to be the bane of his existence.
It was a cat.
Because of fucking course it was. The little fucker probably wasn’t even halfway to adulthood, if barely weened. And it was staring up at Ed, grey and white patched fur soaked down to the bone, mewing pitifully.
It should be hiding somewhere, beneath a dumpster or an alcove, out of the rain and less miserable. But no, here it was, having heard Ed’s grumbling from down the street and ran out to see him, now mewing pitifully at Ed.
It was malnourished, too skinny in a way that painfully reminded him of Al, as if he didn’t need another thing stacked against his will to not take it home.
Why shouldn’t he take it home? Because his bastard father told them they couldn’t? Because keeping Al and himself alive on the road was hard enough without having to try and carry around a cat from town to town?
Fuck that. His bastard father wasn’t here, they were grown, and they weren’t chasing after Al’s body and on the run for their life more often than not. They had a home, Al was almost his normal body weight, they weren’t dodging serial killers and homunculi every other day and they could damn well take care of themselves plus whatever scrap of fur that needed someone.
And that was what it came down to, wasn’t it?
Sure, Al and him loved cats, but that’s not why it was hard to let go every time they found a stray. That’s not why it hurt to leave them, shivering and alone without anyone to take care of them, forced to try and survive somehow on their own. It wasn’t just the big eyes and soft fur and sharp claws that did them in. It was because-
Ed’s face twisted, frowning.
Al’s sentimentality was wearing off on him.
He was just taking the cat home because it had no where else to go and because Al would love it. That’s all. He’d probably even bitch about it when he brought it in.
Bending down he held out a hand for the cat to sniff.
Although the kitten had been mewing at Ed pitifully and hopefully, it approached him hesitantly. Eyes flicking between his hand and Ed’s whole body.
Whatever Ed smelt like must have been deemed acceptable because the kitten’s muscles loosened from their tense readiness, though the faint shivers still thrummed through the kitten’s body. Ed frowned at that, wondering how long the poor thing had been caught in the rain but unwilling to move and suddenly startle the kitten. Apparently, the kitten was either desperate or extremely trusting because after the hand sniff, it immediately moved in under the protection of Ed’s umbrella and started rubbing up against his crouched legs.
A small smile snuck onto Ed’s face unwillingly, and for a few minutes he just stayed there, petting the soaked kitten.
When the rain started to pick up some more and Ed figured the kitten trusted him enough, he carefully scooped it up into his arms. Shifting the kitten to the crook of one elbow so he could better juggle the medicine, umbrella, and kitten, he frowned as the kitten continued to shiver.
Nevertheless, tucking the kitten into his chest helped lend some heat and the petting only made the kitten purr brokenly, as if it hadn’t quite figured out how to purr entirely.
Doing a final sweep around the alleyway revealed that no, there was not any parent cats or kitten siblings that wanted their sibling back, and yes, the kitten was completely alone.
Accepting his fate, he trudged back home in the torrential downpour, the kitten held against his chest to protect it from the worst of it.
Jerking their front door open and slamming it shut against the wind and rain brought the heated air slamming into his face, and the sound of coughing slapping against his ears.
Fighting against his immediate impulse to drop everything and run to Al, he listened closer and carefully shrugged off his coat and threw the umbrella in the stand by the door. Al wasn’t in danger of dying, he just had a bad cold, there was no need to get overbearing and overprotective of him now. Ed had to give him his own space. It was just hard, after years to trying to do right by Al, and with Al having a metal body that made him invulnerable to sickness and injury. Ed still wasn’t quite used to how vulnerable his brother was, now in his own human body.
But the cough didn’t sound too bad. Nothing like it had yesterday and that was an improvement, even if it still didn’t sound any better than it had at 4am this morning. The medicine would help. And so would Ed’s furry surprise.
Veering into the kitchen as Al’s coughs subsided, he filled a glass of water and toweled the kitten dry . Grey and white fur poof ed spectacularly, wrench ing a grin onto his face. He knew just what he was gonna call the kitten and since he found it, he got to name it.
Grinning at the face Al would surely make, he made his way up the stairs, keeping the kitten hidden for now in the towel. It kneaded lightly at his arm, making soft disjointed purring sounds, and apparently was quite content.
Pushing open his brother’s bedroom door his his foot, he stuck a head in, grin inevitably softening to a smile at the sight of his brother, “Hey Al.”
Immediately Al perked up, “brother!” a bright smile lit up his pale face and he set the tissue box he was holding to one side. “Oh! You got me water,” he reached for the cup gratefully as Ed crossed the room to give it to him. “How long have you been out?” a pause and then a horrified, “you’re drenched! ”
Ed gave him a shrug with one shoulder, “eh, it’s raining pretty hard down there. I’ve only been gone for a few.” Well, probably more like a half hour but Al was asleep for that so it didn’t really matter. “Got you medicine and sumthin’ else.”
Al made a face at the medicine but dutifully sat up and accepted the bottle unlike a certain someone else in the room would have.
After that was done Al eyed the bundle of towel in his brother’s arm suspiciously before asking, “I’m not sure, but do I even want to know?”
Ed grinned at him, “hey, you’re gonna love this one!”
“Oh yeah?” Al challenged, not convinced and raising an eyebrow, “just like I was going to love that prank you pulled on Captain Dwight?”
Ed snickered at the memory of Captain Supreme Asshole with freshly dyed pink hair and mustache. “He was an asshole and totally deserved it!”
“We had cleaning detail for a month!”
“Eh, it was worth it.”
Al favored him a strong look before deadpanning, “brother, I ended up doing most of the work.”
“Oh, right. Uh, sorry Al,” sheepishly he ducked his head, embarrassed a little before stepping up close to the bedside and flashing his best grin to his brother, “but you’re gonna love this one Al, I swear!” And then he carefully plopped the bundle of towel hidden kitten into Al’s lap where it immediately squirmed.
All at once Al’s attention rubber-banded to the moving bundle and if Ed wasn’t seeing things wrong, then Al’s hands definitely shook slightly as he pulled back the towel and a kitten head popped out. It blinked a few times, the light brighter without the towel blocking it, and then mewed curiously up at Al and Ed.
Stunned silent, the only thing Ed had to go off of to make sure he hadn’t seriously misjudged the whole fucking thing was that a smile bloomed on his brother’s face. Bright and full, taking over his whole face with joy.
Carefully as the kitten wiggled out of the rest of the towel Al ran a finger down it’s head and back. When the kitten wiggled closer, little paws slipping and righting themselves in Al’s lap, he let himself pet them with his full hand, a look of wonder and joy in his eyes.
Pleased, Ed couldn’t keep his own smile off his face as he turned and grabbed the chair from the corner and drug it over to his brother’s bed. Sitting down he watched as the kitten climbed up Al’s chest, mewing insistently when it wasn’t attempting to purr, and rubbing itself against Al’s chest, neck, face and hands.
“Glad you like it.” Ed’s voice was gruffer with love than he had meant it to be, and the offhanded comment came off as anything but. He supposed that didn’t matter much though, because Al turned his head then, to smile at Ed and Ed would give anything in the world for his brother if it meant having that smile directed at him.
“You really mean it? We can keep her? Him?” His eyebrows furrowed in thought.
“Yeah. Wouldn’t have brought the little furball home if I didn’t. Dunno if it’s a girl or guy.” Ed shrugged.
Al stared at him for a moment before sighing heavily, “you named them already, didn’t you?”
“Hey! What’s with that sigh? I always pick good names!”
Al stuck his tongue out at him, “no offense but you pick the worst names, brother.”
“How am I not supposed to take offense to that?! My names are the best! They’re bad-ass! For all I know you were gonna name it somethin’ lame like Whiskers or Smokey.”
“Those aren’t lame! They’re perfectly normal names for a cat!”
“Sounds lame to me!”
“And what, pray tell, did you name the poor cat?”
Ed grinned. “Gargoyle.”
Al blinked, his face falling completely blank as he repeated, deadpan, “ G argoyle.”
“Yeah! A bad-ass name for a bad-ass cat!”
“Gargoyle?” His brother tried again, a hint of exasperation and pleading entering his voice.
“Well, they’re mostly grey and they were strong enough to make it on their own even in this shitty storm and city. Figure that’s bad-ass enough for a bad-ass name.” He shrugged.
Al’s look changed and not wanting to figure out what the thoughtful look on his brother’s face meant, Ed abruptly turned his attention to the kitten, reaching out a hand to pet them with. After a moment Al’s hand moved again, petting the cat with Ed and softly said, “Gargoyle it is then.”
When Ed chanced a glance at Al’s face, there was a soft smile and he wasn’t looking at the cat, but at Ed. Cheeks flushing Ed quickly turned his attention back to the cat with a mumbled, “glad you like it, Al.”