Invalided home from Afghanistan, John ends up buying a cat hybrid. As both owner and pet navigate the waters of their new relationship, they learn things about themselves and each other.

Author's Notes:

I was in the mood for some cat!lock where John comes to own Sherlock who was abused by previous owners, but found surprisingly few. So off I went to write my own, and here's the result.

Lots and lots of hurt/comfort and fluff, that was the main reason for writing this. Also a dash of angst to spur more hurt/comfort and fluff. Eventual smut between our Sherlock kitty and his owner.

I didn't worry too much about keeping them in character, John's definitely a lot more touchy-feely and forthcoming with his emotions here than in the actual show, but considering Sherlock's trying to get past abuse a non-communicative John would have just made things far too difficult.

I have no outline for this story, no long term plot mapped out, so it's just whatever I feel like. If you have any ideas, situations you want to see the boys in, feel free to let me know and I'll see if I can work it in!

So, if you're in the mood for (mostly) fluff and cat ears/tail, then enjoy~!

**Everything's non-beta'd. If you notice any mistakes, feel free to point them out and I'll fix them ^-^

The Hybrid

John sighed as he wandered between the rows and rows of cages, ignoring the mindless babble of the people around him. This was not how he had imagined he would be spending his birthday this year, nor any year for that matter. In fact, John had gone out of his way to avoid this place, or places like this, his whole life. Yet here he was.

The man walking beside him gave him a nudge, talking loudly into his ear to be heard over the voices of others.

"Buck up, John! This is the biggest hybrid market in the UK, surely you'll find something here you like."

John gave him a halfhearted smile as his eyes swept over the scene before him.

They were inside a large warehouse where thousands of people mingled about. It looked like a convention, except instead of sellers showing goods in booths and stalls, there were cages of all shapes and sizes. Inside them were what appeared to be humans...or what would be humans except they all contained certain animal characteristics.

Some had wings on their back making them appear like angels one might see in fairy tale books, others were adorned with antlers and a short tail, like the deer in the forests, John even saw a few in large fish tanks, sporting tails that made them appear like mythical mermaids.

The success of introducing animal genes into human DNA had spurred an era of mass experimentation before laws caught up to practice. People mixed DNA between animals and humans like one might mix and match clothes, curious to see the results. Initially the results often ended up grotesque, disfigured, and died quickly from organ failure, but as technology for the practice improved more and more of the experiments survived to full adulthood.

People started selling these hybrids, as they became known, as exotic pets and soon everyone was storming the markets in demand for one. Some were priced in the millions, custom designed for the owners who could hand pick what characteristics they wanted. Others were sold for the same price as a common house cat. Some were given all the functions a human being would have, others were created with certain abilities disabled, unable to feel pain, blind, deaf, some were rendered unable to walk upright, only capable of crawling on their hands and knees. By now nothing surprised John anymore.

The short haired man had never been interested in obtaining one for himself. As a military doctor John had neither the time nor finances for such an investment, but upon being invalided back from the war his days had become tediously free. Concerned for his friend, Mike Stamford had dragged John out to the hybrid market place on his birthday, suggesting that maybe, just maybe they'll be able to find a companion for him. A hybrid that can talk and listen to him, more useful than an animal pet. John had tried digging his heels in but it's hard to say no to Mike who was so easy going and, if John were forced to admit it, one of the few people he actually didn't mind the company of. Besides, it's not like he has to buy anything, just look.

So here they were, checking out the merchandise and yet John couldn't help grimacing at the sight. Despite the various animal-like traits, these hybrids looked distinctly human, and in some of their eyes John could read fear, pain and despair to match some of the leering, hungry looks sported by some of the patrons.

Mike tugged him along, looking through the pamphlet that introduced each of the sellers, stopping now and then to look over a hybrid that caught his eye. John did his best to keep engaged, but the endless chatter was starting to give him a headache and he started wishing he was back at his flat where there was nothing but silence all around.

A sharp cry broke through John's thoughts as he quickly turned towards the sound. His eyes locked on the source, a hybrid that had been brought out from his cage to be shown to a potential buyer a few stalls away. Even from here John could here the hissing followed by a sharp reprimand and he took a few steps closer, curious as to what the commotion's about.

The hybrid in question had cat ears and a long tail to complement them. His torso was bare and he wore only a pair of dark trousers, not even any shoes. He was leashed by a chain that looped around his neck, the other end being held in the hands of his seller. He looked pale, lean, and John judged he was fairly tall even though at the moment he was on his hands and knees. His hair was a mess of dark curls, contrasting sharply with his skin and along his naked back John could see the faint lines that marked scars, probably being covered up by makeup. Unlike the other merchandise who appeared no older than twenty years old, this one seemed a bit older, and more subdued. He stayed where he was, unmoving, head lowered as he was inspected.

John felt a presence beside him and glanced over, finding Mike there. The man looked at the pamphlet to see who this seller was and pointed it out to John.

"Let's see, it says here that this seller sells second hand hybrids, previously owned."

Ah, that explains the age and scars then. John looked back at the scene before him, feeling distinctly uncomfortable when the potential buyer, a man probably in his forties, tall with short brown hair and a sarcastic smirk, placed a hand under the hybrid's chin and tiled his head up, pulling back his lips to check his teeth. The man ran a hand over the hybrid's side and John noticed him jerk a bit when his ribs were touched. Bruised? Without warning, the man grabbed the base of the slender tail and lifted it, tugging on it and chuckling along with the seller as the hybrid mewled in protest, lowering his head.

John felt his blood start to boil. These men were toying with the hybrid, reveling in his discomfort.

"Hm, I don't know. It seems pretty used up, no fight left in it at all," the brown haired man mused, standing up to talk to the seller.

"Oh but I assure you, sir, it will serve your purposes well, and it's very cheap too."

John's eyes narrowed, wondering what those "purposes" were.

"Well, it is quite beautiful, I'll admit to that. And you say it's experienced?"

The seller nodded eagerly.

"Yes sir! Its previous owner had it professionally trained for the bedroom, it can satisfy whatever needs you have. You said you needed a few extra hybrids for a night party? This one is perfect for such a situation, I guarantee it."

The soft whimper that fell from the hybrid's lips didn't escape John as he felt a coil of disgust clench in his stomach.

"I still think your asking price is too high. It's much older than the average hybrid being sold here. How about 200 pounds?"

The seller looked affronted at the offer.

"Sir! Please! It's worth more than that! I'm afraid I can't go lower than 400."

"250 then, I'll pay cash."

"350, and I'll throw in the cage."

"300, I'm afraid that's all I can spend on it."

Just before the seller could reply, John stepped into their line of sight, catching their attention.

"500 pounds. And you can keep your cage."

The doctor could feel the eyes of the people that had gathered around to watch all fall on him, some in astonishment, others in confusion. Behind him, he heard a startled gasp from Mike, who took a moment to comprehend what was happening before he hurried to step up to John's side. Discretely, he gave the sleeve of John's jacket a tug, silently asking him what the hell he was doing, but John ignored him.

The hybrid's ears flicked at the sound of John's voice, his head turning just a bit so he can see the man in his peripheral vision.

Clearing his throat, John stepped up next to the two men who were negotiating, keeping his eyes on the seller. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, flipping to his credit card and holding it out.

"500 pounds," he repeated as the seller glanced nervously between John and the other man. Clearly he was tempted to accept John's offer but feared offending the other customer.

"Hey! You can't do that! I saw it first!" The brown haired man barked in anger, giving John a shove.

The doctor stood his ground, widening his stance as he frowned at the man.

"If you want HIM, top my offer," John emphasized the 'him', feeling angry at the insistence of these people to refer to these creatures as things.

The man sputtered and glared down at the hybrid. For a few tense moments nobody moved or made a sound before finally, the irritated man huffed and turned on his heels.

"Fine, whatever. Waste your money on that hybrid, it's completely not worth it."

John ignored him as the man disappeared into the crowd, turning back to the relieved seller who happily accepted his card.

"Good sir, you won't be disappointed with your choice I assure you! It's been health checked and vaccinated against all the common diseases, here are all of its documents, dental check, health records, birth certificate and certificate of ownership. I will go run your card through, please wait here," the seller rambled as he shoved a thick stack of papers into John's hands, handing the chain over at the same time as he scurried back with John's card to put the transaction through.

John was barely listening to the seller by now, he turned to look at the hybrid who was still kneeling on the floor, keeping his eyes trained on the ground. Mike hurried up to him and gave him a little shake.

"Are you sure about this, John? A second hand hybrid trained for the bedroom isn't exactly...a top choice for a first hybrid. What are you going to do with him?"

John shrugged but kept his eyes on the curly haired hybrid.

"I'll figure out the details later."

Truth be told, even he's not too clear what he's doing. Something about this particular one seemed to draw him in. Listening to the exchange between the two men earlier had made him feel sickened to his stomach and the thought of this creature ending up in the hands of that disgusting prick made John's blood boil.

The seller came back with John's card, the receipt, a leash and a collar that had a tag on it. He handed the card and receipt to John.

"If you'll just sign here, sir. I'm afraid since this hybrid is second hand you won't be able to return or exchange it."

John signed where the seller pointed to and gave it back to the man, putting his copy of the receipt and his card away. He handed the stack of documents to Mike who was still watching somewhat skeptically before he held out his hand for the collar.

"That's fine."

The seller was almost ecstatic at the sale, putting the collar and leash in John's hand and moving to take the chain away from around the hybrid's neck. John was faster and he practically shoved the man out of the way, not wanting him to touch what was now his. Carefully, he loosened the chain from around the slender neck. He frowned at the slightly reddened marks indicating that the chain had been too tight. Gently, John wrapped the collar around the pale neck making sure to leave plenty of room, but he didn't bother with the leash, putting it in his pocket. John's fingers lightly brushed over the hybrid's now collared neck and jaw and he felt the slender body trembling. A wave of protectiveness washed over him and he blinked in surprise.

"Can you walk?" John asked as softly as possible, leaning down as if to shield the hybrid from the eyes of onlookers.

The cat ears twitched and he lifted his head, cautiously meeting John's eyes. The hybrid nodded and tried to stand, stumbling since he had been on his hands and knees for so long. Without thinking, John reached out and steadied him, letting the tall hybrid lean against his smaller frame until he could manage to stand on his own. Inquisitive eyes glanced over him but the hybrid was clearly too nervous to stare, keeping his head lowered and eyes downcast as much as he can. John took the hybrid's hand in his, giving him a smile when he blinked at the doctor in surprise. Most hybrids were kept on leashes when outdoors but John was having none of that. He caught Mike's eye and tiled his head to the exit.

"Let's go."

Mike nodded and followed, wearing an amused grin. John was always a little different than most people, and if he's taken a liking to this hybrid, well, Mike figures it couldn't hurt. But he could tell from this one's eyes that he's been through a lot, John's going to have his work cut out for him, but maybe that's what he needs now, someone that needs his attention and his healing hands.

The three of them walked out of the market place without looking back and John couldn't help the soft sigh of relief he breathed when they made it outside. It had felt suffocating inside, and the fresh air outside was a welcomed change. He felt the hybrid's hand gently squeeze his, pressing closer to him. The doctor swept his eyes over, watching as the slim body almost curled in on himself as if to hide from everything around them. Guessing that the hybrid probably feels slightly more nervous out in the open, John gave his hand an answering squeeze and smiled when the cat ears twitched, the beautiful pale blue eyes peering up quickly at his new owner. John he looked down and frowned a bit, the hybrid's bare feet reminding him that he had no shoes to protect his feet. Looking around, the short haired man cut across the grassy lawn to the road instead of taking the cement path, hoping the soft vegetation will be easier for the dark haired hybrid to walk on.

"Well that was interesting," Mike mused beside him.

John gave his friend a half grin, looking a bit uncertain himself now that he's back in the real world. Inside the market with so many hybrids everywhere it had seemed almost like a fantasy land, but now with the smell of grass and asphalt, the sounds of cars racing by and people walking briskly as they went about their business, John felt like he's being woken from a dream. A dream that he had managed to bring a piece of back into the real world.

"I guess I should be heading back then," John's mind was already whirling as he tried to think of the next logical step.

He'll have to clean the flat up a bit, and luckily Mrs. Hudson had that spare bedroom the hybrid can use. He'll also need time to go do some shopping for clothes for him, and basically figure out what the heck he's planning to do now that he owned another life.

Mike smiled and nodded, handing over the documents he had been holding.

"Right. Better get him settled in. Let me know if you need any help with anything, and let's go out for a pint sometime."

John nodded in agreement, flashing the man a grateful look. Mike was more familiar with owning hybrids, his family having had one back when they were in university together. The two men exchanged goodbyes and promised to have a real get together sometime soon before John hailed a cab to go back into the city. He released the hybrid's hand, opening the door and waiting until the tall hybrid slid in before getting in himself, giving his address to the driver.

In the semi privacy of the backseat, John took his time and really looked at the hybrid. His dark curls were tinted brown when the light hit, falling gently over his forehead. His ears were the same colour as his hair on the outside, the fur looked soft and sleek. The inside were slightly lighter in colour, almost beige and John suddenly felt an urge to reach out and feel them. He swallowed the desire, lowering his gaze to the hybrid's face. His eyes were downcast, trained on his lap, but even so John could see the sliver of blueish green framed by long lashes. His cheekbones were possibly the most defined John has ever seen giving his face a sharp appearance enhanced by his strong jawline.

Suddenly, one of the triangular ears twitched and John caught the sharp eyes flickering to him and he realized he had been caught staring. The hybrid didn't say anything, quickly returning his eyes back to his lap where his hands rested.

"What's your name?" John ventured to ask.

The hybrid looked over once more, eyes wide as if the question had caught him off guard. He blinked at John before clearing his throat.

"I...I don't...the owner..."

His broken answer jolted John's memory and he recalled that owners generally chose the name for their hybrids. John pondered for a bit, he was rubbish at names but he can't call the hybrid 'you' forever. The doctor flipped through the papers he had been given by the seller and pulled out the birth certificate, hoping to find a name there.

"Sherlock..Sherlock Holmes."

The long tail flicked and John noticed him swallow, biting his lip as he heard the name.

"Do you like that name? We can use that one if you want to."

Once more, the hybrid turned incredulous eyes to John. Slowly, he nodded, letting his own eyes sweep over the shorter man sitting beside him, his new owner. Short hair, military cut, eyes tired, sleep deprived, fingers restless, constantly tapping against whatever surface they happened to be resting upon, movements sharp and confident. He bit his lip, tapping down on the urge to voice his deductions. They always got him into trouble and more than once he had gotten beaten for them. Instead he ventured to ask a question that had been plaguing him since the man had stepped up in the market place.

"Why did you buy me? You don't seem like someone with a lot of extra money to spend, and for the amount you paid you could have gotten a new, unused hybrid."

John was silent for a few minutes, thinking over how to answer. It had been a spur of the moment decision and he didn't know how to explain that to the hybrid...Sherlock.

"To be honest I'm not sure myself, I hadn't even planned on purchasing a hybrid, I was just humouring my friend going to that market with him."

"He's concerned for you because of your PTSD," Sherlock's mouth moved before he could stop himself.

John froze and stared slack jawed at the cat eared man. Aside from his therapist he hadn't told anyone about his PTSD, how had Sherlock managed to figure it out? The hybrid gasped softly as he realized what he had said and quickly tried to backtrack.

"I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean...I just...please, I won't do it again, please, sir.. " his panicked eyes darted around the car, trying to explain.

Trying to calm him down, John reached over and laid a hand over Sherlock's.

Sherlock physically flinched when he felt John's touch as if he expected it to hurt. Unconsciously he pressed himself to the side of the car trying to put as much distance as he can between himself and his owner. His ears had lowered to press against his head and his body language screamed that he expected to be hit.

John frowned at the response, wondering what Sherlock had gone through to condition him like this. Gently, he rubbed his thumb over the back of Sherlock's hand, trying to show that he's not going to hurt the hybrid.

"Hey, it's OK. I'm not mad, I'm not going to hurt you. But how did you know?"

Sherlock dropped his gaze, not trusting the words. He's had owners before that sweet talked him when their moods hit, and usually when they turned nasty they were the worst. But he had been asked a direct question, and not ignoring one's owner usually didn't end well.

"Your...hand. Your fingers are always tapping, you're nervous and unconsciously preparing to spring into action at a moment's notice. Recently back from abroad from the look of the tan lines around your wrists and neck, discomfort among civilians, the way you hold yourself, the way you talk all suggest military, although . That plus the fact that you're not sleeping well, it's not difficult to link together why," Sherlock's voice was soft as he listed out what he observed.

He silently resigned himself for a scolding when he heard the sharp inhale of breath from his owner. People didn't like it when he snooped, it made them feel vulnerable and frightened that he could see through their secrets, and their way of reacting was usually to invalidate his observations by beating him down.

"That was...brilliant."

The soft exclamation almost went unheard, but Sherlock's sharp ears didn't miss much. He furrowed his brows and glanced over in confusion. Instead of the anger and scorn he had expected, his owner was looking at him with eyes wide in amazement. Sherlock frowned, that's not a usual reaction.

"That was, absolutely amazing."

This time his voice was stronger and a smile broke over John's face. Sherlock blinked, feeling an unusual feeling creeping through him. Confusion, confusion at his owner's reaction. He opened his mouth, then closed it before opening it again, lost for what words to use.

"Wh-what? But you..I..."

Shaking his head to clear it, he straightened a bit in his seat, tail twitching slightly as a sense of curiosity washed over him. This man is starting to intrigue him and that doesn't happen often when it came to humans.

"Do you...really think so?"

John laughed as if the question was ridiculous.

"Of course! Of course I do!"

Feeling somewhat proud of himself, the corner of Sherlock's lips tilted upwards in a small smile.

The doctor shook his head in amazement. He felt something soft and furry sliding over his wrist and looked down to see that Sherlock had wrapped his tail loosely around it. His smile widened, feeling like he had won at least some of the hybrid's trust with this simple gesture.

"By the way, my name's John Watson, and you're right, I was in the military as a doctor. Came back just three months ago. My friend, Mike, he was trying to convince me I needed companionship and thought a hybrid might help, hence why he dragged me to that market today. I have no idea what I'm doing since I've never owned a hybrid before."

Sherlock nodded having already figured all that out. He had bought Sherlock without doing any inspections, without asking his skills, he didn't even ask his age or about his previous owners, standard things that any seasoned owner would know to inquire about before a deal went through. The short haired man had been uncomfortable with the leash, choosing not to use it, and even when he had put the collar on Sherlock his hands had been hesitant as if he wished he didn't have to, but all hybrids had to be collared by law, with the tag indicating basic information regarding the hybrid. Otherwise they risked getting carted off to the pound if the police found them wandering the streets without a collar and tag.

The slim hybrid turned in his seat so he can face John better. He doesn't know if John will regret his impulsive purchase once he has time to think it over later, but he finds himself hoping not. So far the doctor hadn't caused him any pain and spoke to him normally, something his previous owners had never done. He hadn't made Sherlock crawl behind him, or kneel at his feet, he had even allowed Sherlock to sit in the car with him instead of putting him in the trunk as many owners do since cabs didn't charge for hybrids being transported in the trunk like luggage.

"I'll be good, sir. I can be useful, I won't cause any trouble for you."

John felt a sharp pain in him at Sherlock's words. The look in the hybrid's eyes was pleading for John to give him a chance. He lifts his hand from where it covered Sherlock's, fingers lightly brushing over the collar and the tag. It seemed so deplorable that someone so clever and brilliant was reduced to begging when he's clearly more intelligent than the vast majority of the human population John's come into contact with. Trying to smile reassuringly, John moved his hand over the slender neck, letting his fingers wrap around the back, feeling the soft curls tickling his fingers. He gives a gentle tug and pulls Sherlock against himself, hugging him close. The hybrid froze in the embrace, unsure what he's suppose to do, but John didn't mind.

" me John, Sherlock. You never have to call me 'sir'."

Hesitantly, Sherlock allowed himself to relax into the embrace. He was still too scared to return it, but he leaned against John, resting his head on the man's shoulder. The doctor's body was warm, the hug soft and in no way demanding. The hybrid nodded and dared to bury his face a little, sniffing out John's scent.

"Thank you...John."

Chapter 1 END

Thank you for reading! All comments and reviews appreciated~ \(^O^)/

If you'd like to see a picture of Sherkitty, go here (this website is crap at posting URLs, please remove the underscores for the link to work)!