A completely inane and rather unconventional fic - set at some point in the third season.

She Doesn't Want A Cat

by Ossian

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She doesn't want a cat. She has never wanted a cat. Cats are a bad idea. She doesn't have time for it, can't possibly look after it. She doesn't think that pets are allowed in the apartment anyway.

The dirty yellow creature sitting on her slip of a patio doesn't seem to care what she wants or doesn't want. And it certainly isn't concerned about the landlord's rules. It has been there for two days. It has no collar and is so skinny that she can see the outlines of its ribs. She refuses to feel sorry for it. She has no sympathy to spare these days. It can go beg somewhere else. She tries to shoo it away as she heads off to work. It merely looks back at her indifferently. She shakes her head. No one listens to her anymore.

She arrives home late and the cat is nowhere to be seen. There is the gift of a dead lizard on her doormat though. Charming. When she opens the door something brushes her legs. Looking down, she sees nothing. Looking up again, she sees the cat inspecting her living room. No, she tells it. This is not going to happen. It ignores her and goes to examine the kitchen. She sighs as she puts away the groceries. The cat keeps sticking its head into cabinets. It stalks the paper bag and she can't help laughing. It gives her a mildly offended look and she snickers some more.

She doesn't know what to feed a cat. She makes herself a tuna sandwich. The cat wolfs down the rest of the can. She takes her sandwich into the living room to watch the evening news and the cat follows. She half-expects it to beg, but it doesn't. It curls up at the far end of the couch and goes to sleep. She ought to put it out but it looks so comfortable that she relents. Maybe in the morning. Definitely in the morning.

In the morning she wakes to find the cat sitting on her pillow. It stares at her patiently. She gets out of bed just to make it stop looking at her like that. There isn't any more tuna so she feeds it milk and toast. She fully intends to put it outside before she leaves. But it begins to rain. The cat has already decided to use her house plant as a litter box. She can't imagine that it will do much more damage while she is gone.

She realizes upon her return that she has been naïve. Her new vase is in the floor. In several pieces. It is the vase that Marshall brought her flowers in when she… came back a few months ago. The cat comes to inspect the fragments with her. It pokes the shards curiously with one paw, acts innocently as if it has never seen this mess before. She shouts at it in frustration. It gives her an unconcerned look and goes to stare out the window. She throws open the door and orders it outside. The cat yawns and stretches then wanders into the bedroom instead.

She closes the door again and sinks down beside the broken vase. It is irreparable; it is in too many pieces. She doesn't know when she starts crying. Or remember how long the cat has been sitting in her lap before she notices it. Stupid cat, she tells it. It doesn't seem to take any offense.

The rain has stopped by morning, but it still looks cloudy. She leaves the cat stomping around on her bed instead of putting it out. As she drives to the office she wonders absently what it will break today. It might decide just to sleep while she is gone, but she has learned not to be so optimistic. At the end of the day she is relieved to discover that the destruction has been limited to the bathroom. The cat has amused itself by unrolling all of the toilet tissue. Once again it helps her study the wreckage as if seeing it for the first time. She tells it that she isn't buying the act. It looks up at her guilelessly anyway.

She intends to put the cat out. Every morning. One day it is raining again. One day she is running late. One day she just can't find it, refuses to crawl under the bed to look. One day she forgets that she wants to get rid of it. It is housebroken by now. And it has already broken everything that she hasn't put away.

When Eric comes to visit, he brings a pizza. Hey, he says. You have a cat. The cat twines its way around his legs. He bends to pet it and yelps in surprise. Your cat is insane, he tells her. It wanted me to pet it just so it could bite me. Don't be ridiculous, she admonishes. He's a sweet cat. She doesn't mention the vase or the toilet paper or the blouse that she left lying on the bed one morning.

Why is it staring at me like that? Eric frowns at the cat as they sit on the sofa. She shrugs. You're in his space, she says. He looks down at the couch in puzzlement. But it's been staring at me like that ever since I got here. She laughs. I think he's decided that the whole apartment is his space. Cats are like that. She is surprised when it leaps into her lap. It is not ordinarily so affectionate and its defensive posturing amuses her.

She sets the cat on the floor when she goes to pour their drinks. Get down, she says as it jumps onto the coffee table. It sniffs at her disdainfully and resumes glaring at Eric. I don't think your cat likes me much, he says. He's just not used to other people, she defends it. He'll warm up to you. Right, he mumbles through a mouthful of pizza. The cat doesn't budge.

They turn on the television and try to find a good movie. They both jump when the cat bats at Eric's glass. Soda spills everywhere. She utters a sharp exclamation at the cat and hurries to the kitchen for a towel. When she comes back, Eric and the cat are still eyeing one another warily. Or rather Eric is eyeing the cat. The cat is washing one of its paws and studiously ignoring the man on the sofa.

Sydney, Eric says with a note of concern. You named the cat Sark.

I didn't, she says. But her voice trails off as she realizes that he's right. She tries to remember when she first started thinking of it by that name. She can't recall. She shrugs helplessly. It just fits, she tries to explain. She supposes by his look that Eric is beginning to suspect she is as insane as the cat.

They try to watch the movie, but Eric spends more time watching the cat. The cat has taken up residence in her lap again and has resumed staring at the man sullenly. She isn't thinking about the movie either. She is trying to figure out why she has given the cat such an improbable name.

As she gets ready for bed that night she is still thinking about it. She doesn't want a cat. She has never wanted a cat. Cats are a bad idea. It is wandering around on the bed looking for a place to sleep and keeps stepping on her. It finally settles at her shoulder, bumping its head beneath her chin. She strokes it out of habit.

She doesn't want a cat.

A cat isn't what she wants.

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fin