Ignis halted beside his car, keys in one hand, briefcase in the other. He glanced around, trying to locate the cat he’d heard crying.
One, two, three little sneezes followed by a pitiful wail.
It tugged at Ignis’ heart. It sounded distressed. It also sounded very close.
Unlocking his car, he placed his briefcase on the passenger seat, tucking his keys in his pocket, he crouched down and peered under the car.
Iridescent eyes blinked back at him, a black sodden shadow huddled near the wheel.
“Oh, you poor thing,” Ignis murmured, holding his hand out towards the miserable feline. The cat sneezed again, meowing pitifully. “Come now, I won’t hurt you,” Ignis coaxed softly, wriggling his gloved fingers. The cat craned its head forward enough to sniff at his fingertips, then a tongue rasped over his bare thumb. Ignis chuckled, “do I taste nice?”
The cat inched closer, just enough for Ignis to give it a scratch under the chin, which apparently it appreciated, extending its neck, arching its chin higher. It gave Ignis a chance to see it bore no collar. Possibly a stray. And most likely hungry. He withdrew his fingers, just enough that the cat would have to come closer for more. It did, though hesitantly, one foot carefully placed before the other inched forward. When Ignis extended his fingers again, the cat pushed its face into his palm, fur wet but still silky. He could tell that once it was dry and warm, its fur would be soft as sin, fluffy and comforting to stroke.
Ignis sat himself down, keeping his movements slow and cautious, cross legged, leaving a space for the cat to crawl into should it wish, heedless of the mess his trousers would likely end up in. They would wash.
The cat crawled out from under his car, bumping its head against his knee, surveying the spot between Ignis’ thighs, sniffing delicately at Ignis’ hand again. It looked up and blinked lazily, eyes a deep blue and locked on his own of green as if it were trying to see into his soul, or discern his intentions. Ignis smiled encouragingly, patting his lap in invitation. Then waited. He knew if he reached out for it now, the cat would bolt, still too nervous and attentive to its surroundings, ears twitching this way and that, sodden tail swishing back and forth.
“There you go, that’s much better isn’t it?” Ignis cooed as the cat stepped into his lap and padded, turning in a circle as it determined the best place to settle. The cold of its paws seeped through his trousers, the cat giving another miserable sneeze.
Ignis petted it, stroking his fingers through the fur around its ears. It was jet black all over as far as he could tell, barely more than a kitten if he had to guess, its face still holding a kittenish look to it. Small and compact, if a little thin.
The cat peered up at him from its place in his lap, beginning to purr, the vibrations traveling along his legs.
He picked it up carefully, under its front legs, holding it up in front of his face, “would you like to come with me? Do you have a home, my little one?” The cat blinked at him yet again, regarding him with an implacable stare. “Lets’ get you dry and fed, shall we.”
He placed the cat on his passenger seat, shifting his briefcase to the floor. The cat sniffed the seat, curling into a little ball of inky fur, watching as Ignis settled into the drivers seat and started the car. Its ears twitched at the rumble of the engine. The cat was asleep before he reached the street.
He took pictures of the little cat, posting them on a lost pets site. No-one responded and the cat gradually became a fixture in his apartment. It was male, quiet, loved snoozing in sunbeams by the big windows in his lounge, weaving his way around Ignis’ legs while he cooked in the kitchen, proving to be slightly picky about his food. He was a little standoffish at first, simply sitting on his haunches and blinking at Ignis from across the room. So Ignis employed his own version of nonchalance.
It took a week or two, but he warmed up to Ignis and his habits, jumping up onto the couch one evening, curling up close but not too close, within reach if Ignis reached his hand out to stroke his fur. The rumbling purr made ignis smile, his fingers slipping through his fur, finding his new friend particularly liked his ears being stroked, then down his back and along his fluffy tail.
Little things started turning up in Ignis’ apartment, a soft bed that his little friend ignored with disdain, preferring the couch or the spot under the window, toys that he seemed to deem mildly amusing, batting at them with his paw, but only if Ignis played with him. Ignis brought a collar home one afternoon, slipping it around the cat’s neck. He endured it from the look in his furry face when Ignis sat back to admire how it looked. He allowed Ignis to brush his silky fur with a new brush, eating delicately from a special dish Ignis acquired, yet still managing to make a mess on the floor. Ignis simply found a mat to place under it to make clean up easier.
“I should name you,” Ignis said to the cat one evening when he’d been ensconced in Ignis’ apartment for two weeks. “It appears you will be staying and I can’t just call you cat, or puss, can I?”
He received the same blinking stare that he always got from his observations.
Ignis tried out several names, nothing seeming to fit and swore that the cat rolled his pretty blue eyes at some of Ignis’ attempts, stalking off to sit under the window and stare out at the city below.
“What about Ink-pot?” Ignis chuckled, the cat flicking his ears and studiously turning his back to Ignis. “Yes, I know, that was rather ridiculous, wasn’t it? Midnight? Would that work for you?” The cat twisted his head around. “Hmm, something along those lines perhaps.” The cat rose, stretching sinuously, paws out in front, back arched, tail waving in the air. “You seem to like that better than anything so far.” He tipped his head to one side, sighing as he tried to think of something suitable. “Maybe I can find something in here,” Ignis said, pulling a book from the shelf, flicking through the pages.
Silence reigned for several minutes as Ignis perused the books pages, stopping here and there before continuing with a shake of his head. The cat padded back over and settled himself on the couch cushions expectantly. Ignis reached out and ran his fingers through silken fur absently.
The cat pricked his ears up, rolling onto his back, exposing a belly for Ignis to rub. He looked down at the motion, smiling softly, “you like that? What about…” he glanced back down at the page he had open, “Noctis?” The cat rolled again, wriggling against Ignis’ thigh, the closest he’d ever come to climbing into Ignis’ lap since he brought him home. “Noctis,” he said softly, smiling again when he received a purr. “Well, that suits you, I must say, you’re certainly as dark as night.” He blinked in surprise as he received a lapful of purring feline, his newly named friend bumping at his chin, rubbing his face all over Ignis’ in a display of ownership, fluffy tail waving high like a flag.
The cat settled into his lap in a little ball, turning his head to nibble at Ignis’ thumb, tongue rasping over the surface of his skin, his purr loud and content.