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Basement cat has infiltrated heaven

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~

There was an unkempt, fluffy, obnoxious black cat in Atlantis. The first few times he'd seen it, Rodney thought he might be hallucinating. Those first few days had been an enormous amount of stress, stress that made the whole thing with Teal'c seem like a walk in the park. It hadn't been the first night they were there; more like the sixth or seventh. Rodney figured he was just missing his cat, so he ignored it, rolling over and going back to sleep.

The cat came back the next night, and the next. Rodney was seriously starting to doubt his sanity at that point, so he kept his eyes shut and ignored the beast. It was a good sized cat, too, a big messy-haired tom that stared at him like Rodney owed him something.

The cat had never stuck around until morning, so Rodney'd kept wishing for it to go away, and after the first three nights, it had.

Rodney was glad his sanity was safe, but a small part of him regretted it just a little.

~

Two and a half weeks later, the cat was back. It was the night Sheppard had died in the jumper and, thank god, been brought back to life. Rodney was freaked out enough to try and call it over. He thought petting a cat might just be the sort of pick-me-up he needed. Even an imaginary cat.

The cat took its time wandering over to him, rubbing up against his legs before deigning to sniff Rodney's hand and then allow petting. "Well, aren't you a princess," Rodney muttered, and it meowed at him.

The fluffy fur was really soft. And, no matter how much petting Rodney did, it still stuck up all over the place. Eventually Rodney calmed down enough to go to bed. The cat sat in the center of the room and watched him change and brush his teeth and eventually crawl into bed and turn the lights out. He waited, not calling – not yet, but Princess didn't jump onto the bed. In the morning, he was gone.

~

There was absolutely no pattern to the cat's visits. Sometimes it was a one-off, especially if something really bad had happened, like losing Ford or Gaul or Grodin. Sometimes it was a three night stint, and Princess seemed a little miffed, usually grooming himself for a while before allowing Rodney to pet him. Every once in a while he thought about tracking its appearances, but it seemed stupid to put so much effort into something that was a simple pleasure and only had a positive effect on his life in Atlantis. Occasionally he worried for his sanity; mostly he de-stressed and enjoyed Princess's tiny nigh-inaudible purr.

~

By their third year in Atlantis, Princess started to curl up next to him when he climbed into bed. Rodney would try to pet him, but he'd always been one to fall asleep the minute his head hit the pillow. He dreamed about the tiny purr sometimes, or the way the soft fur tickled his nose.

When the Ancients reclaimed the city and he had to go to Earth (no, not exactly home anymore), he was surprised to find it was missing the fluffy fur and whisper of a purr that kept him from sleeping and not the lack of the ocean, like he'd thought it would be.

When they got the city back, Princess curled up with him and purred like a lawnmower. Rodney fell asleep smiling.

~

The first rough patch with Princess happened when Rodney got serious about Katie Brown. He hadn't really thought much about it; he'd forgotten about Princess, if he had to be brutally honest with himself. He was probably lonely – it was all well and good to have a cat to sleep with on occasion, but a woman was a hell of a lot better. Or at least so he thought, until it had been a couple of months and Katie'd broken up with him over the whole quarantine thing, and there was no Princess to pet to make him feel better.

Not too long after that, Sheppard went missing for twelve days, and Rodney missed the comfort of having something warm and fuzzy to pet like an almost physical ache.

~

The night Sheppard got back from the future, Princess showed up in his room. He petted the cat, and it rolled over to show its belly, and Rodney patted that too. There were tiny white patches here and there in the thicket of underbelly fur, and a thin white line in the fur on one side of its neck and one foreleg. Princess curled up next to him on the bed, his purr nearly audible for once.

~

The three night stints came back shortly thereafter and on the new planet, suddenly it was so obvious – the three nights were in relation to the full moon. Each of the moons had its own cycle, one that was nearly three months and the other that was every forty-one days like clockwork. Princess showed up all three nights in all the full moons, and Rodney thought he might have finally worked it out.

~

And then there was Jennifer. Rodney noticed Princess's absence on the first full moon after they started getting serious, and then Princess was just… gone. He didn't know why Princess was so against him having a girlfriend, but he stayed pissed off enough about it to not mourn the loss of the fluffy fur for a good eight months – all through their time on Earth. When they finally got the go ahead to go back to Pegasus, Rodney thought maybe Princess would suck it up and come to visit; no such luck.

When they were in transit to Pegasus, Rodney finally told Sheppard about his extremely adult no-fault breakup with Jennifer. It was the most civil break-up he'd ever been through and for some reason that made it even more miserable. Sheppard took him out for beer on the pier that night, and, to his great delight, Princess showed up in his room after he'd crawled into bed. He kneaded the blankets, only poking Rodney with his claws a little, and settled down to sleep on Rodney's back.

~

It took a year to get up the courage. There was only one moon on their new planet and it had a twenty-nine day cycle. It was nice to know exactly when his furry visitor would be showing up. Rodney was beyond guessing, he knew exactly what he was doing, and he'd come to terms with all the parts of it that made him feel uneasy. When Princess showed up in his room, putting one paw on top of Rodney's hand to let him know he was there, Rodney scooped him up and climbed into bed, pulling the covers over them both.

"John Sheppard," Rodney said, and Princess bristled but didn't try to break out of his arms, "if you're not here tomorrow morning when I wake up, I am going to take pictures of you, make them into lolcats, and post them on Atlantis's server."

~

Rodney woke up the next morning with an armful of naked John Sheppard, still with unruly black hair to pet. He took pictures the next night anyway. Atlantis was sorely lacking in lolcat contests.

~