Matt knocked on the door, probably a bit too enthusiastically, but in his defense he was excited. It had been months since he had seen his favorite idiot. A mop of auburn hair appeared behind the door as it opened, and Matt beamed.
“Benbrolio!!!” He yelled as Neil let out an “oomph” of surprise at being hefted into a bearhug.
“We need to talk about the obscure nicknames,” Neil said, his voice muffled against Matt’s chest. Matt grinned.
“I’m not stopping,” he said, “I’ve spent way too long thinking of puns to not use them.” Neil scowled at him as he pulled out of the hug, but Matt knew him well enough to know there was no real malice behind his face.
Neil led the way into his apartment, pointing out where everything he was going to need was, but Matt’s eyes immediately fell on the couch. Sir was sprawled across almost the whole thing like she owned the place. Matt had only met her once before, as the cats were a relatively new addition after Neil’s graduation, but he already loved Sir.
Neil made his way further into the apartment, Matt following, but Matt stopped when he saw Andrew standing in the kitchen.
Andrew himself in the kitchen wasn’t surprising, seeing how he lived there, but what he was doing was rather odd. Andrew was holding the other cat – King- Matt’s mind supplied, up in front of his face, staring her dead in the eyes.
“We’re only going to be gone for a week,” Andrew deadpanned to the cat, “so don’t be a bastard.” King meowed loudly in response. Andrew frowned. “Don’t give me that tone of voice.” King meowed again. Andrew continued to give her a dead look. Matt stared in disbelief. Andrew was having a conversation with a cat. A cat. Andrew turned his head in Matt’s direction. “Do you need something, Boyd?”
“Nope, I just wanted to let you know I’m here.” Andrew spared one more second looking at him before he returned his attention to the cat. Matt was not going to get over that any time soon.
“Hey, Brobama,” Matt said as soon as he found Neil in the living room with a lapful of Sir. Neil turned his attention to him, and Matt basked in the silent victory of Neil accepting his nicknames. “I just saw Andrew having a full conversation with King. Do you expect me to be talking to these cats?” Neil shrugged.
“You’re welcome to talk to them if you want. They might respond if they’re in a good mood.” Matt stared at him.
“Neil, they’re cats.”
“They’re very intelligent.” Neil smirked. “Andrew says they’re smarter than me.”
“Everything is smarter than you, Josten,” Andrew said from where he had appeared behind Neil. Neil frowned and swatted at him. Neil moved to pick up their bags at the front door, but he turned to face Matt again.
“You know where to find everything, right?”
“Yes, Neil,” Matt answered.
“Are you sure? Because I co- “
“Neil,” Matt cut him off, “I’m not going to let your children die, okay?”
“You’d better not,” Andrew replied. Matt gave him what he hoped was a reassuring smile, but Andrew’s dead stare did nothing to tell him whether or not he trusted him, but Neil seemed to be convinced.
“Good luck,” he said, turning to leave. Matt just waved.
Not two seconds after Andrew shut the door, a ball of fluff barreled towards Matt and he felt something collide with his shins. King meowed indignantly, demanding attention. Matt stared at her, unsure of what to do. King bumped her head against his shins and meowed once more.
“I refuse to talk to a cat,” Matt said to himself. He checked the cats’ food and water and decided King most definitely wasn’t demanding to be fed. She had followed him across the apartment and was still meowing loudly at him. Fine. Matt turned to King.
“What is it you want?” King meowed again and swatted at his legs. Matt’s mind began supplying the worst. What if she was sick? Or hurt? Andrew would literally have his head if the cats got hurt on his watch. Matt scanned the room, desperate to find something to appease the extremely loud lady who was still bumping against his shins.
Then he found it. On the highest level of the bookshelf that the tiny residents of the apartment could easily reach, sat a bag of cat treats. Matt made his way over to the shelf and easily grabbed the bag, but he could imagine Andrew grabbing a stool or climbing the shelf to reach it. The thought brought him more joy than he cared to admit. Matt took a single treat out of the bag and held it up in front of King’s face.
“Is this what you want?” King eyed the treat before eating it right out of Matt’s hand. She licked her lips contentedly before walking off.
That was how it began.
Neil was right- the cats were very intelligent. They quickly figured out that Matt would do anything to make them happy, especially give them treats.
King would bump her head against Matt’s shins. Matt would give her a treat.
Sir would stand on the countertops and yell at him. Matt would give her a treat.
King would bite the bag when Matt forgot to put it out of her reach. Matt would give her a treat.
By the end of the week, the cats could simply look at Matt and he would give them treats. Sir used this to her advantage and came up to him while he was sitting on the couch and gave him those eyes.
“Are you sure?” He asked her, “you just had one twenty minutes ago.” She continued to stare at him. Matt sighed. “Fine, here you go.” Sir munched happily on her fifth treat of the day before trotting off.
A couple minutes later, King came and sprawled herself across Matt’s lap. Instinctually, Matt began running his hands through her fur, but she shifted to stop him. Instead, she swiped her paws across the bag of treats Matt had left next to him, and Matt gave her one without hesitation. Andrew and Neil chose that moment to walk in through the front door. Matt looked up and smiled.
“Andrew, Brodysseus, welcome back.” Andrew quirked a brow at what Matt called Neil but said nothing.
“Glad to see you made some friends while we were gone,” Neil said, his eyes on King, who was still in Matt’s lap. Matt opened his mouth but was cut off by Andrew frowning and walking over to the couch. He picked up the bag of treats and looked inside.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Boyd.”
“What?” Matt asked. Andrew gave him a dead stare.
“This bag was brand new when we left.”
“Matt, that bag is supposed to last months,” Neil said. “How many did you give them?” Matt attempted to count in his head before giving up.
“Fuck if I know, Mr. Math Major,” Matt said, and Neil frowned.
“Basic counting and math are not the same thing-"
“Yes, they are,” Andrew cut him off before he could get started on a tangent. “But that’s not the issue here.” Andrew turned his gaze to Matt. “Exactly how much did you spoil these assholes?” Before Matt could answer, Sir decided to walk into the room and join King on his lap. Matt ran his and through Sir’s fur as she purred contentedly before he smiled at Andrew and Neil.
“That answers that question,” Neil said with a grin.
“It’s not my fault I’m so loveable.” Matt replied. Andrew raised a brow, questioning his statement, but did not comment.
“Next time you catsit,” Neil began, “I’m hiding the treats from you instead of the cats.” Matt just gave him a shit-eating grin.