Rodney makes a new friend and shares it, willing or not, with the rest of the floor. Rodney, Daniel, Sam, Elizabeth, and Jack, guest starring other elements of the Stargate
universe. Shared credit for ideas herein goes to my LJ-lurking sister.The One with the Kitten
Rodney knocked on the door of apartment 320, casting anxious glances at the stairs and trying not to jostle the bundle in his arms. He knocked again, more firmly.
Finally, Sam opened the door. "Rodney! What's wron - is that a kitten
?" she gasped, eyes fixing on the tiny grey head poking out of Rodney's bundled jacket. She snatched the kitten, jacket and all, from his arms, and called over her shoulder. "Liz, come here! Rodney's got a kitten!"
Rodney had never before realized that kittens caused girls to move faster than light, but Elizabeth was at her roommate's side practically before the words were out of her mouth. "Oh, it's so cute!" she squealed, and both girls were off.
As nice as watching the furball poke further out of the jacket to explore the new territory in front of it was, this wasn't why Rodney came. "Yes, yes, it's very cute, but can we go inside? I...need a favor."
They didn't look up from the kitten, waving Rodney inside after them. He took one last, nervous look at the stairs, then shut the door behind him and joined the girls in the sitting area, where they were dangling a shoelace for the kitten to attack. The kitten was a skinny thing, older than it looked, but surprisingly not skittish. And apparently it had great powers. Rodney watched in amazement as two supposedly mature, intelligent women babbled and cooed more nonsense than he'd ever heard from Daniel.
Which reminded him. "Right, so."
Sam emerged from the kitten-induced fog. "You needed something?"
"Yes. See, I was walking by that shelter, you know the one on thirty-fourth, and, well, the details aren't important - "
Elizabeth snickered. "Love at first sight?"
"How touching," Sam commented.
"ANYWAY!" Rodney put on his best serious face and was gratified that Elizabeth at least didn't laugh out loud this time. "I took it home. But the problem is, Daniel's allergic to cats."
"How allergic?" asked Sam.
"Really allergic. He claims that a close encounter once sent him to the emergency room, and frankly, I'm way too busy to deal with that. But I figure if I keep it in my room, he'll just think it's his hay fever acting up."
Sam looked skeptical. "How can you make sure of that? And what if he hears it?"
"Mew!" squeaked the kitten, as if to prove the point.
"That's what I need your help for. I can soundproof my room, but I can't always keep it in there, and what if I'm away for a conference? I was hoping you guys would take it sometimes. I'll provide all the supplies."
For once, it seemed, he'd reached into the female mind and guessed right. Elizabeth and Sam barely had to glance at one another before enthusiastically nodding.
He jumped up. "Great! Well, I still need to get food, litter, all of that, so if you wouldn't mind watching him for a bit, I'll be back soon." He leaned over to scratch the kitten, who'd just finished scaling the couch, on the chin. "Soon, okay?" The kitten meowed softly, so he figured it would be fine.
Sam's voice stopped him halfway to the door. "Rodney, did you clear this with the manager?"
"Not...exactly. He'd want to check with my roommate about it, wouldn't he?"
"Not to mention pets outside of a small tank just aren't allowed," added Elizabeth.
"Well, yes, there is that. But come on, would you put this little guy back in a cold, lonely shelter?" It was a dirty tactic, he knew, but very effective. Both girls looked at the kitten flopped on the couch, licking a leg raised straight into the air. There were no further objections, so Rodney took another step.
"Wait!" Sam said.
He groaned. "What now?"
"Does it have a name?"
"No. I'm going to come up with a list and see what one gets the best response from him."
He left the apartment to the sounds of names being rattled off.
"I've always wanted to name a cat Schroedinger..."
"I'll add them to the list," he grumbled, and shut the door.
Having a secret cat wasn't as easy as Rodney thought it would be. Sure, Daniel didn't hear a peep from it when they were both home. He didn't even seem to notice taking more anti-histamines than usual. "Must be something blooming," he'd mumble, shutting a window. He had no problem with Rodney's explanation of a sensitive project in his closed room, not even to question why he wasn't doing it in his lab at the university.
Which was the real problem. Feeling bad for the cooped up kitten, Rodney liked to let it roam free in the apartment when Daniel was out. Unfortunately, that meant that he was either tied to the apartment, or that he had to make sure to get home first and clear away any evidence of cat. As often as that actually worked out, he had as much tendency as Daniel to get engrossed in a project at the school and forget that life existed outside of it.
So there was a lot more working from home. He'd made a thousand apologies to his professor, who didn't seem all that perturbed, to be honest, but the phone calls from the Master's students and undergrads who worked for him were getting tiring. His cat-sitters were all too happy to help, but smuggling the kitten and all its accessories from one apartment to the other was a lot more work than he'd expected. Daniel was generally oblivious, but Rodney could never tell when he'd pick up on some obscure detail to throw back at him later.
Even his allies had turned against him. Sam was pestering him to confess it all to Daniel. She'd been in the middle of such a lecture, in fact, once when he was dropping the kitten off with her and heard familiar footsteps on the stairs. He didn't think
Daniel had seen him do a flying dive, kitten and all, into the girls' apartment, but then he caught Daniel giving him an odd look that evening and wasn't so sure anymore.
This called for damage control. Plus, he needed to figure out some way of getting the kitten back to his room tonight. Both girls had told him expressly that they weren't going to be around tomorrow at all, and, well, it wasn't that he couldn't
sleep without the little furball. He just felt better knowing it was safe beside him.
He plopped down in the chair opposite Daniel's. "Hey, buddy," he started.
"'lo," Daniel replied around a mouthful of ramen noodles.
At least he was responsive. "So, I was thinking, I'm going to be working in my room, but why don't you tell me when you're going to bed? I know you don't like being disturbed."
Daniel shrugged. "It's fine. I don't seem to hear much of anything from your room, actually. Could you hand me the tissues?"
Rodney did, hoping Daniel wouldn't notice his wince and the way he leaned slightly further away afterwards. "Well, tonight might be a bit louder. So you can just let me know when you're down for the night, and I'll stop then, okay?"
Daniel tossed his used tissue into the trash; it ricocheted, but landed in the can. Which was good, because Rodney would have to be grossed out otherwise, and that would distract from his purpose. "Okay, I guess, but I was planning a late night. My morning lecture was canceled, so I'm going to get ahead on reading. You've got that eight AM, don't you?"
Rodney sunk down in his chair. "Yes. Yes, I do." Goddamned undergrads.
"So you'll be heading to bed earlier than I will, anyway." Daniel got up and placed his bowl on the growing pile in the sink, then went back to the couch with the box of tissues and picked up a very thick volume.
"That's what you think," Rodney mumbled. Oh, Sam was going to kill him when he showed up at who-knew-when in the morning to pick up the still unnamed cat. And the last time he'd taught a class on little sleep and too much coffee, his students had performed dismally on that portion of the exam and he'd been subject to a very unpleasant meeting with his adviser.
But Hercules-Thaddeus-Boba Fett-Isaac-Cthulhu's face when he picked him up, at past three in the morning, was so grateful, that even Sam slamming the door in Rodney's face when he suggested she just give him a key for these odd-hour pick-ups didn't bother him so much.
Two and a half weeks into the great kitten experiment, Rodney thought he was getting the hang of it. And now he had a glorious weekend before him that had sent Daniel off to some annual dirt nerd camp and left him and the kitten with the run of the apartment. With that news announced, Elizabeth and Sam were eagerly helping him get the last of the cat supplies back to 310.
Elizabeth kicked the litter box through the door and jumped inside behind it. "Jeez, Rodney, what've you done to this thing, anyway? It weighs a ton."
"It's a self-contained cleaning and deodorizing system," he replied, setting the cat bed and bag of toys down on the coffee table. "I'm still working out the tweaks."
"You know, most people just buy better litter."
"Most people aren't geniuses," he replied matter-of-factly as he snatched the kitten from Sam's arms. "Yes, we're home now, aren't we? Yes, we are."
"Rodney? Good, you're back just in time. I wanted to remind you before I go about - is that a cat
?" Daniel's duffel bag landed with a thump
at his feet, just outside his bedroom door.
After a moment of stunned silence, Rodney exclaimed, "What are you doing here?"
Daniel tilted his head. "I live here. That's a cat."
"No, it's not."
Sam snorted. "Nice."
"Rodney, you know I'm allergic."
"It's not mine, it's theirs!" Rodney waved in the general direction of the girls. Daniel looked between Sam and Elizabeth who both rolled their eyes and shook their heads. "Traitors," he grumbled.
The kitten squeaked to be put down, so he set it on the floor. It immediately jumped on the chair Daniel usually sat at to work.
"This explains a lot," said Daniel, nose twitching.
"All right, yes, it's my cat, and I've been hiding him from you, and I'm sorry, but I can't give him back."
"Well, it can't stay here!"
There was a knock on the door, and without further preamble, Jack O'Neill let himself in. "Howdy, neighbors!"
"Oookay," he said, coming inside. "I was just coming to tell you about some work being done next week."
"Great, thanks," said Rodney in a rush. "Email's good, too. Nice seeing you, bye!"
But Jack's attention was no longer on his tenants. "Nice
chair!" He beelined over to Daniel's chair, whose back was turned to the door. "What is that, Brookstone?" And without further ado, he hopped on - and immediately jumped up at the emphatic "MEW!"
"So screwed," mumbled Rodney.
"Toast," agreed Sam.
"McKay," said Jack, staring at the kitten with its back arched and tail in the air, staring straight back at him. "Care to explain?"
"I...well...you see...it's a cat. Sir."
"Yeah, got that."
Daniel sighed, long-suffering. "Look, don't blame him. I mean, it's his fault, but you would never have known about it if it weren't for me throwing a fit."
Elizabeth stared. "Daniel, that is some seriously screwed up logic."
Rodney's head whipped around. "What, you want the cat to get thrown out on the street?"
"Of course not, no!"
"Rodney, that's not fair. And it's my fault, too," said Sam. "I've been helping him hide it. I'm sorry, Daniel, I should've made him tell you."
"I'm not mad. I'm just - " Daniel interrupted himself with a grand sneeze. Taking his handkerchief from his pocket, he finished, "Yeah, that."
Rodney sighed. "It doesn't matter, anyway, since cats aren't allowed. Right, Mr. O'Neill? Mr. O'Neill?"
Everyone turned to see Jack comfortably settled in Daniel's chair with a furry grey ball in his lap.
Jack cocked his head but didn't look up from his new friend. "Maybe a pet deposit."
Rodney gasped, eyes wide. "Really? Thank you so, so much." He turned to Elizabeth and Sam, whose mouth was twitching upwards. "Look, I know it's a lot to ask, but I guess he can't stay here anymore, and..."
"Yeah, we'll take him. And you can visit whenever you want," said Elizabeth. "But you're paying the deposit."
"Of course, yes, and all of his shots and things. Maybe you should give me a key, too, so I can check up on him..."
"Oh, you can just borrow mine," said Daniel, noticing too late Sam's glare and the slashing motion she was making across her neck. "What?"
Rodney looked back at Sam. "He gets a key, but I don't?"
"It was for emergencies," she said weakly.
"Sorry," Daniel said through another sneeze.
Jack piped up. "They make pills for that, you know."
"Clearly, you've never lived on a grad student's salary."
"Thank god for that. So, what's this guy's name?" he asked.
"Ah, well, it's still something of a work in progress."
"Schroedinger!" Sam said brightly.
"Yes, yes, it's terribly funny, we all get the joke, but that's not his name," Rodney said irritably. "It needs to be something...strong. Heroic, and dare I say, godlike."
"How about Thor?" said Daniel.
Rodney paused and watched the kitten pounce on Jack's wrist, clinging to it with all fours while Jack gently lifted his arm into the air. "Huh. That works."