Angel, engrossed in the book he was reading, reached out and felt for the cup of blood on his desk. Unable to locate it by instinct alone, he lowered the book just enough to see over it.
"GAH! What the...?"
The creature was sitting, motionless, on the edge of his desk, and it was staring at him. Where had it come from? How had it gotten in there? The vampire leaned in, examining it closely. It was very small, yet oddly disturbing. It didn't seem frightened of Angel at all.
"Get out! Shoo! I don't want you here!" Nothing worked. He was not about to touch it. Angel put his game face on, and leaned in close again, allowing a soft growl to rumble from his throat. The creature merely batted lightly at his fanged face, with its sharp claws, and tilted its head to the side, as if it were checking him out. "Y'know, I've eaten rats that were bigger than you. You'd better get out of here before I get angry...or hungry."
*Mew* was its only reply.
A voice, calling faintly from the other room, drifted into the office, and Angel immediately perked up his ears, listening.
"Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Where did you get to?"
"WESSSSSLLLLEYYY!" Angel bellowed.
"Here ki..." Silence from the lobby now. Angel waited for the brown haired, bespeckled head to pop into view, drumming his fingers impatiently on the desktop. The long-haired, multi-colored kitten, seeing this as some sort of new game, gleefully leapt at each of the moving digits, nipping and batting playfully, until Angel pulled his hand back and stuffed it into his pocket.
"Er....Angel? You called me?" Judging from the guilty tone in his voice, Wesley knew exactly why Angel had been hollering for him, yet he was attempting the innocent act all the same.
"What is this, and how did it get in here?" Each word was enunciated to perfection, causing the hair on the back of Wesley's neck to stand on end. Facing his employer's displeasure was something akin to waiting outside the Headmaster's office for a caning, back in public school. Seeing no way out of the situation, Wesley did what he did best...he played dumb.
"It's a cat, Angel...a kitten actually."
"And it's sitting on my desk, in *my* office because...?"
"...it must have gotten out of the kitchen when I came in to feed it," Wesley finished, weakly.
Angel sat back in his chair, his arms folded across his chest, and waited for the explanation he knew would be spilling forth any moment now.
"You see, Angel...I found it outside the other day, and it was all alone, and hungry...and hopeless, yes...a-and helpless, and...a-and I can see you don't really want it here, so I'll be getting rid of it. I only hope it's not too small to survive out there all alone." The tall man's shoulders sagged, his head ducked down, in the patented Wyndham-Pryce sulk. Angel had to admit it, Wesley was good.
"Oh, all right. You can keep it...but he...she...it...had better stay out of my way, understand?"
The swiftness with which Wesley's frown turned into a satisfied grin, caused Angel to do a double-take. His eyes narrowed, as he studied the Watcher carefully. If he didn't know any better...if it had been Cordelia...he would swear he had just been played.
"It's a girl, Angel." Ignoring the exasperated look on Angel's face, Wesley continued the lesson. "All calicoes are female...a genetic anomaly of nature...." He was stopped by the cold fury emanating from his friend, and reached out to gingerly disengage the claws of four small paws from the front of Angel's sweater. "I'll just take her away now, shall I?" He retreated quickly out the door, kitten in hand, before Angel could find his voice again.
(one week later)
Wesley crawled around on the floor, behind the front desk, searching in the dark cubby holes. "Where are you now? Angel is going to kill me if he finds I've let you escape again. And I mean that literally."
"Talking to yourself now, Wesley? It's sad when dementia sets in so early."
At the sound of Cordelia's unexpected voice, Wesley tried to leap up, banging his head on the overhanging desktop as he did so. "Ouch! Cordelia, must you sneak up on a person like that?" he snapped, rubbing at the new bump, ruefully.
Ignoring his complaints, the girl went to her desk, dumped her knapsack on the floor, and began to leaf through the pile of mail. "Is Angel upstairs?"
"I would suppose so...it *is* the middle of the day."
She smiled sweetly at her co-worker. "Well, why don't you go upstairs and see if he's up. It's Friday, and I'd like to get the paychecks signed ASAP."
"Gee, I don't know, Cordelia...maybe because the last time I woke him up he tried to choke me."
"Sarcasm is *so* unattractive, Wes. I think you really need to work on that. Now, why don't you run along upstairs and get Angel for me, there's a sweet boy." She actually patted him on the cheek. His mouth fell open, and his eyebrows shot up.
"Wha...? You...I...Damn!" Unable to come up with a snappy comeback, he had no choice but to stomp off towards the stairs, in a huff. A sly smile swept over Cordelia's face, as she watched him go. [He is sooo easy.]
Arriving at Angel's door, Wesley was about to knock, when he noticed the door was slightly ajar. Puzzled, the curious research assistant swung the door open, just enough to peek inside. Angel was sound asleep on his bed. Wes was about to quietly close the door again, when he noticed a small lump lying curled up on the vampire's chest - a small, multi-colored, furry lump. He froze, a quiet groan stuck in his throat.
"Oh no." Panic raced through him, as he tried to figure out how he was going to remove the cat from Angel, without waking him. Just then, Angel shifted, his hand lazily reaching up, to scratch at the offending creature behind her ears. Realization dawned, and Wesley couldn't restrain his delighted smile. The cat wasn't an unwelcomed interloper...she was an invited guest. Not wishing to get caught spying, nor to cause the vampire any embarrassment, Wesley crept back out the door, leaving it just the way he'd found it, and trotted back downstairs, prepared to face the wrath of the Almighty Cordelia.
(a few days later)
Wesley pulled his motorcycle up to the curb, behind the Hyperion Hotel, just as Cordelia was slipping out from behind the wheel of Angel's convertible. She did not look pleased, as she waited for him to join her.
"Do you have any idea what's up?" she demanded.
"No, I only received a '911 page'. I was out...uh, shopping."
"Uh huh, stocking up on your tea and crumpets, no doubt. This better be important."
"Well, I'm sure Angel wouldn't have paged us this early in the morning, unless it was an emergency."
"I dunno, he's been acting kinda wacko lately."
"How do you mean?"
"Sometimes, when he's alone in his office, I swear I hear him talking to himself," she confided.
They entered the back door together, and nearly ran head on into a pacing Angel. He looked positively frantic. "Oh good, you guys are here. I really need your help. I must not have closed the door securely, when I came home this morning...I came back here to get something out of my coat pocket and found it open a crack. I can't find her anywhere...and I've been searching for an hour...she would have come out by now...I can't go outside to look...you gotta help me find her." He was rambling and sounded desperate.
Cordelia was trying to make sense of it all. "Who? Angel, who's missing?"
The vampire stopped his pacing long enough to answer her. "Priscilla," was all he said, as if that explained everything.
"Who the hell is Priscilla?" The girl looked first at Angel, then at Wesley, waiting for someone to fill her in.
Wesley had taken in the crumpled packet of kitty treats, clutched tightly in Angel's hand, and put two and two together. "I believe, Priscilla is Angel's cat," he stated simply.
The pacing stopped, as Angel tried to deny it. "My wha...no, she's your...."
Cordy interrupted, with a snort. "Have you lost your mind, Wesley? Angel doesn't own a cat...like he would ever...."
"He's right," the vampire finally admitted, softly. "I guess she is...mine, I mean."
Before the girl could open her mouth again, Wesley had put his hands on her shoulders, steering her out the door. "Yes, well, we'd better find her then."
"Cordelia, if you're going to keep muttering like that, you're probably going to scare her away." Wesley moved yet another cardboard box, to look behind it.
"I just can't believe this...Angel - the vampire known in his day for his mistreatment of small animals - gets a cuddly pet kitten, and you knew about it, and you didn't tell *me*!"
The ex-Watcher sighed. She wasn't going to let this go, easily. "It's a long story, Cordelia...one that can wait until after we've found said pet, alright? I don't want to go back in there, and tell him we haven't found her....do you?"
"No," she growled, under her breath, as she picked through the garbage lining the alleyway. Wesley bumped up against the dumpster, and a tiny, hollow *meow* came echoing from inside it. Both searchers stopped, looked at each other, and listened.
*Mew* came the plaintive cry again, from deep inside the metal container.
Wesley's air of triumph, as he walked into the delivery entrance carrying one filthy, shaken calico kitten, might have been more convincing, if he hadn't been covered head to foot, with the very same filth. Climbing into the dumpster had been easy enough. Extracting himself from the same dumpster, while slipping on bags of garbage and holding a terrified kitten with razor sharp claws, had been considerably more difficult. Not that Angel even noticed; all he saw was his beloved Priscilla, safe and sound, inside again. Practically snatching her from Wes' hands, the vampire cooed over her, smoothing down her ruffled fur with his large hands, tickling her beneath the chin, until she curled contentedly in his arms and began to purr. Only then, did he become aware of the amazed stares of his associates. Clearly embarrassed, he turned and fled, heading towards his office, only to find two shadows trailing after him. Once he reached the lobby, he stopped again, and turned to face them.
"Thanks," he mumbled, sheepishly. "I guess I was acting like a real idiot."
"No," Wesley smiled gently. "You were acting like a very caring man."
"...not that we didn't already know you were," Cordy chimed in.
Feeling their warmth and sincerity, Angel relaxed a little, and even allowed the edges of his mouth to curl up, in a shy smile. The only sound in the room was the rumbling purr, emanating from the sleeping kitten, balled up in the crook of the vampire's arm.
"Angel, I do have one question," Wesley couldn't resist asking. "Why Priscilla?"
"Uh...well...I...I just thought it was...pretty." He shrugged and disappeared into his office, shutting the door behind him. Wesley and Cordy looked at each other, shrugged, and turned to head back to their respective homes, leaving Angel and Priscilla to their own private reunion.
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