Rough and unbetaed, 650ish words of Pete/Patrick.
set before they Got Big
There's a cat that comes around at night – Pete's not sure who it belongs to, maybe the people across the street? It's a really nice cat, and he's pretty sure it's a girl (he checked, but he's no vet, okay?) and he's sort of pseudo-named her Bella, since she doesn't have a collar or tags and she's pretty for a stray. She's fluffy in a dirty way, light gray and white and probably some orange mixed in there somewhere – sometimes she flops on the porch in the middle of the day, but mostly she meows her way around the steps after dark. Pete's mom's started putting out a dish of cat food for her. Pete's never actually seen her eat any, but the dish is constantly empty, so he guesses her owners aren't taking too good care of her, or some other neighborhood stray's bogarting the Friskies.
"Or maybe she's just really greedy," Patrick says one night, running his hand over the cat's fur absently.
"I don't think so," Pete says. "See how thin she is?"
"Maybe she's just a small-boned cat."
"Maybe you're just a small-brained dude." Pete hefts the unprotesting cat into his lap, a semi-heavy handful of purr-machine, and waggles her paws onto Patrick's thigh. "Feed me, Seymour." The cat licks Patrick's jeans. "See? She's desperate for attention."
"A kindred spirit, huh?"
"Fucker." But Pete's smiling.
"Did you guys ask around to see who she belongs to?"
Pete shakes his head – his mom probably will, sooner or later – and releases Bella, who perches for a confused moment, a feline bridge between his legs and Patrick's, and then decides that Patrick's lap is the nicest after all. Yeah, Pete can't really blame her.
They've just finished with the Bigass Illinois-Wisconsin-Iowa Tour, during which time Pete discovered that Patrick's lap pretty much is the nicest for napping and getting absently petted (which Pete sort of loves, which makes him what, like an overgrown cat? He doesn't need to think about what his tactile issues say about him; he can just enjoy Patrick's fingers through his hair, thanks). He plans to claim Patrick's lap again for their upcoming Bigass Illinois-Indiana-Ohio Tour.
Bella's in a total state of bliss, belly-up in adoration sprawled over Patrick's legs, eyes slitted in pleasure. Pete watches the carelessly graceful movement of Patrick's hand over her back and thinks maybe his eyes are slitting too, like, sense-memory or whatever.
The night's as sweetly cool as the van can get fucking hot – it's like day and night, ha ha ha – and Pete's arms are wrapped around his knees and the light from the kitchen window is casting this happy box of gold onto the two of them, haloing them, shining like the sun on the water on Patrick's hair where it peeks out from under his hat. Just sitting on the steps in the nighttime, the neighborhood all around, comfortable and real and feeling like nothing so much as home.
"Your mom could adopt her, maybe, if she doesn't belong to anyone," Patrick says.
"Maybe you could adopt her." The cat's clearly in love with Patrick; she's got good taste. "We could share her. Alternate weekends."
"Joint custody's hard on the kid. We'd have to stay married for her sake."
Patrick smiles from under the brim of his hat, completely at ease and sure of himself, and Pete can feel his chest tighten. He reaches out blindly for Patrick's hand and finds Bella instead, warm and purring under Patrick's touch, and their fingers meet in the silky, gritty fur.
He can hear a mom down the street calling out, time to come in, time for bed. The curl of Patrick's hand is quiet beneath Pete's. The cat lies between them, purring contentedly. He thinks about things he gets to keep, and he keeps his fingers pressed to the steady, constant pulse of Patrick's wrist.