Note: Written for the contrelamontre challenge on livejournal. Show, not tell: jealousy. And this was the first idea to pop into my head. Whatever that means.

Not You

Nose. Twitch. Whiskers. Quiver. Good smell. Lick.

Twitch. Quiver. Lick. Repeat.

Claws on the blanket's edge. Pull. Up, up, up the foot of the bed. Climb. Quiver. Lick. Strong smells, human smells, not-food smells. Sit. Soft blankets, good nest, very warm. Wait.

Socrates stared at him, deliberate and challenging, from his perch in the palm of Willard's hand. Without taking his eyes off of Ben, he began to nibble and lap gently at the tip of Willard's thumb. Nibble. Lick. Bite. Willard twitched in half-sleep and kicked one leg slightly, barely missing Ben's crouched form.

"Not time to get up yet, Socrates," he murmured drowsily, the reddened tip of his thumb moving to gently stroke Socrates between the ears. After a moment, however, the movement stopped, and Willard was again unconscious in repose. Socrates tipped his head in annoyance. Ear twitch. Wriggle. Sigh.

Ben took another several steps forward in triumph, but was stopped by the look in Socrates' red eyes. Teeth. Jaw. Clench. Blink. Ben sat back on his haunches, prepared to wait.

Satisfied that the advancement had halted, Socrates curled his tail possessively around Willard's pinky finger and pressed his nose into the soft flesh between the man's thumb and forefinger. He waited.

Ben waited.

Clock. Tick.

Ben took another step forward, and Socrates reacted immediately, raising his head and baring his teeth. Ben took another step, ignoring the warning signals coming from the other rat.

Teeth. Gnash. Chatter. Stay away. Not yours.

Ben placed a paw on Willard's forearm and tested his weight. No reaction came from the man. He heaved himself upon the soft, warm body, extending his tail for balance, and began to navigate toward the man's face.

Socrates stood, nearly losing his balance on the yielding surface of Willard's hand, and began to squeak excitedly. Ben gave him a quick look of disdain before turning his attention to his current position at the junction of Willard's collarbone. He studied the smooth, white skin and the gentle mounds and dips of bone for a moment before taking a decisive taste.

At this violation, Socrates began to alternate between loud squeals of displeasure and violent clicks of his sharp teeth. He dug his claws into the heel of Willard's palm and bit the loose skin there, drawing blood. Willard's eyes snapped open.

"What…?" His free hand rose instinctively and encountered Ben's solid mass on his chest. "Ugh!" With a quick heave of his forearm, he pushed Ben off of his body. "Get off! Get away!" In his panic, he dumped Socrates unceremoniously onto his pillow as he shook out his blanket and made blind kicks at the large brown rat who had become tangled within. "Out! Out! Out!"

Dark. Blink. Claws. Dig. Light. Run. As soon as he was free of the blankets, he stopped and turn to look back at Willard, whose black hair was tousled, pajamas rumbled, face flushed, and chest rising and falling in short, quick bursts. They locked eyes for a moment in silence: Ben staring with quiet dignity and Willard in absolute befuddlement and slight fear.

Then sharp, little tugs in the fabric on the shoulder of Willard's night shirt signaled Socrates' arrival. As soon at the white rat reached the pinnacle, he and Ben were the ones to lock eyes.

"Get out, Ben."

He's not yours.

"You belong in the basement."

He's mine.

"With all the other rats."

He loves me.

"This is Socrates' place."

Not you.

Twitch. Quiver. Lick. And Ben retreated, with a vow that they would see who really loved whom.