Gabriel had never been a cat person.
Not until he met Creamsicle anyway. He still couldn’t figure out how his cousin Balthazar had tricked him into holding the flea ridden, dirty mess of a kitten they found huddled with his two sibling under his aunt’s deck, but from the moment Gabriel touched him, that cat had wrapped him around his little finger.
Maybe Gabriel had sensed that Creamsicle as he would come to be named, shared a kindred spirit. He was never a cat that Gabriel would keep in the house, even as a kitten. He’d claw, and make a ruckus until Gabriel opened the door. He didn’t mind, it saved him from having a stinky litter box to clean.
The first time Creamsicle went missing, Gabriel panicked. He put up posters, and called all the local shelters, the whole nine yards, but a week later, Creamsicle strode back into Gabriel’s house like he’d never left.
Gabriel got used to it.
Sam had never been a cat person.
He’d wanted a dog for as long as he could remember but between his brother’s allergies and their small apartment, and then his own, he could never had one. He was adamant that he didn’t like cats, until a bedraggled orange mess of a cat had plopped itself down in his lap and started purring.
Sam liked to say that Toffee, as he would later be called, was a dog in a cat’s body. He slept on Sam’s pillow, and in his laundry basket, covering all his flannels in orange cat hair. He came and went as he pleased, often disappearing for days at a time, but he never failed to return.The first time, he’d been gone for two weeks, and Sam thought that was it, that the cat had exited his life in much the same way he had entered it, but he was wrong.
He came home from work one day to find Toffee curled up on his bed, purring loudly in his sleep.
Sam couldn’t help but smile.
When three weeks had passed without hide nor hair of Creamsicle, Gabriel began to get worried. Two weeks was the longest he’d ever been away, and Gabriel was starting to fear the worst. He hadn’t seen any cats of the side of the road, and he kept a tab on the missing pets social media posts in his network, nothing. He finally decided to take a trip down to the local shelter to see if anyone had picked Creamsicle up thinking he was a stray. Gabriel wouldn’t blame them, Creamsicle had a way of looking like a pitiful creature, especially when he wanted food.
His friend Charlie often volunteered at the shelter, and she was sitting at the desk when Gabrel arrived fifteen minutes later.
“Hey Charlie!” he greeted her, leaning his elbows on the desk. “Can you let me back into the cat room?”
Charlie raised an eyebrow at him. “I didn’t know you were in the market for another cat, Creamsicle seemed like enough for you.”
Gabriel laughed. “He is, but the little monster has pulled a disappearing act, and I was wondering if he was here.”
“You’re the second person whose come in here looking for their cat today, Sam’s still in there,” she told him, leading him back. “But feel free to take a look.”
Gabriel followed Charlie back to the room where they kept all the rescue cats. After he’d gotten Creamsicle, he’d spent a couple hours back here, happy to offer a helping hand to his beloved pet’s more unfortunate brethren.
Inside, there was the tallest man that Gabriel had ever seen, with long dark hair, wearing a green flannel shirt. He was handsome, with green eyes and if Gabriel had been anywhere else, Gabriel would definitely try to flirt with him, but not right now. He was looking in the cages with interest.
“Looking for someone?” Gabriel asked, offering a smile.
The man looked at him. “Yeah, actually, My cat Toffee, he’s been missing for a bit, and I got worried,”
Gabriel nodded. “My cat too,” he told the man, looking into the cages. “Creamsicle is a bit of a wanderer, but he always comes home,”
They both busied themselves looking, Gabriel starting on one end and the man starting on the other. One by one, they looked until they came to the middle, and Gabriel breathed a sigh of relief.
Creamsicle was sitting in the middle cage, looking at Gabriel with a smug cat smirk from through the metal bars.
“There you are,” Gabriel said. “Creamsicle”
Gabriel started up at the man as he got closer. “What?”
“That’s my cat, Toffee,” the man said again, giving Gabriel a confused look.
Gabriel shook his head. “No, you got that wrong, buddy. That’s my cat, Creamsicle.”
“I think I would know my own cat,” the man sniffed, his face settling into the most epic bitch face Sam had ever seen.
“Watch this,”Gabriel said. He turned to the cat. “Creamsicle knows his name, right buddy?” He put on his best baby voice. “Creamsicle!”
The cat meowed, and Gabriel smiled.
The cat meowed again.
Gabriel frowned. The cat sitting the the cage before him was his cat, he was sure of it. “When did you get Toffee?”
“He just wandered into my apartment,” the man told him. “He sat on my lap and started purring, he looked starving.”
“I’ve had Creamsicle since he was a kitten,” Gabriel protested. “He has freckles on the inside of his lip.” Gabriel opened the cage and took Creamsicle into his arms. Giving the cat a quick chin scratch, he opened his mouth, showing the man the little black dots on the cat’s inner lip. “See?”
“Toffee has those too,” the man replied.
Suddenly Gabriel had a realization. “Say, where do you live?”
“Shoemaker Road, why?”
Gabriel began to laugh, petting the cat’s head fondly. “I think we’ve both been had,”
The man looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“I live on Shoemaker too, in the house next to the apartment building,” Gabriel explained as the cat began to purr in his arms. “I think Creamsicle and Toffee are the same cat. The little monster has been conning us,”
The man began to join in on Gabriel’s laughter, and he reached over to pet Creamsicle-Toffee. “You little bastard,” he told the cat, who had the balls to look happy about all of this. “I’m Sam by the way,” he held out his hand and Gabriel took it.
“Gabriel,” he told him, a rush of courage overtaking him. “So I think we should probably talk over a custody agreement, say over dinner?”
Sam opened his mouth and then closed it again, his lips curling into a grin. “I’d like that.”
They didn’t know Charlie was behind them until she told the story at their wedding two years later.
Creamsicle-Toffee Winchester-Novak, served as their ring bearer.