Okay guys, sorry for the long wait with this one, had a few crises in the last few weeks. In summary, My mum went into hospital with a bad back injury, my Nan died, a kitten we were caring for ran away and I've had to take over my Mum's shifts in our bar for the time being. Thank you everybody for your lovely reviews! I really appreciate all the feedback and the fact people are noticing the major differences in the old Pets and the new one. Keep the suggestions coming! Some are quite interesting, and just so you know, Franky's animal is up for debate. Suggestions will be appreciated.
Written by Clarobell & Shiruji-chan
Revised by Clarobell
Chapter 5: Snuggles and Sleep
The cosy house had fallen into a gentle silence, save for the soft sound of Usopp's filter as it hummed in the early afternoon. Sanji had grown tired of his game of tag with Usopp and had joined Nami in her lush cat bed. The two lay snuggled together, as they napped away the afternoon. Nami purred softly as Sanji offered a tongue to help with the monumental task of keeping her long, ginger fur clean and soft.
A soft whine sounded from the old cushion as Zoro stretched and rolled onto his back, front paws curled under his chin. Luffy, woken by the movement, sleepily clambered onto the older cats exposed tummy and flopped across it unceremoniously, tiny claws pumping the air in bliss. Robin chuckled softly from her place beside battered cushion, her body curled around it like a canine shield. The black Labrador dragged her tongue over the smaller kittens back affectionately and nuzzled him with her cold nose. Luffy whined softly and curled into a ball.
"Why do you dote on him so much, Robin?" Nami asked, still settled beside Shanks, as the red haired man dozed on the sofa.
"No, the new one!" Nami huffed, as she arched her back and climbed to her feet, letting her masters hand slide gently to the sofa. "I mean, he scratched you and attacked me!"
"He's had a rough time, Persian-san." Robin answered softly. "You didn't see him when Master-san brought him in."
"He can't have had it as rough as Luffy, and Luffy isn't a monster on four legs!"
"We each react differently to trauma, Persian-san." Robin replied gently, her piercing blue eyes focused intently on the sleeping pair. "Siamese-san told me that when they took you from your mother, you wouldn't eat and scratched any human or animal that tried to get close to you."
Nami's golden brown eyes widened and her head whipped around the spot beside her where the young Siamese cat had just lay. The cushion was now suspiciously empty, and she caught a glimpse of a black-brown tail as it whipped under the sofa.
"He—he what? Oh! That little... when I get my claws on him...!" the Persian-mix growled to herself, as her fluffy tail battered her lush cat bed angrily.
"Don't be too hard on him, Persian-san." Robin chided, amused at the young cats obvious anger. "He was simply recalling his first meeting with you – with pride, I might add."
"Hn." Nami raised her chin snootily as her tail continued to lash about behind her. "It's not like I didn't try to get rid of him. I scratched him to ribbons, but he just kept coming back."
"I expect he always will." Robin replied as she yawned lazily and settled her head on her paws.
"Well, whatever. What I want to know is why you're making such a big fuss of this new guy. If he keeps acting the way he does, Shanks will never keep him."
"Perhaps that's what he wants?" the chocolate Labrador mused quietly, more so to herself than in answer to the cat.
Robin's ears perked up suddenly and her head lifted once again. A few moments later, the tangled mass of cat limbs on the battered old cushion in front of her shifted and Zoro lifted his head. Emerald eyes scanned their surroundings in a sleepy haze, and a soft hiss escaped his mouth when they rested on Robin. The hiss rumbled away into a soft growl though when he recognised the big dog. He still didn't trust her, but he didn't think she was about to chew him up either.
A muffled mewl from beside the dyed cat caught Zoro's attention and his eyes narrowed as he looked down at the fur-ball half nuzzled under his stomach. He stared at the kitten for a long while, distracted only by the sense of another watching him. Emerald eyes lifted to meet brown and the Persian and alley cat glared at one another fiercely.
Nami lifted to her feet, he rise painfully slow and tense as the eye contact remained. Zoro's own tail began to wag angrily behind him as he watched the mixed breed tensely approach him. Her stomach stayed low to the ground, each movement hostile and full of warning as she approached the old cushion warily. Zoro's front paw lifted in warning as she stepped onto the battered material that had served as his bed and a low growl rumbled from his throat; his eyes narrowed to slits as his claws flexed and shuffled back ever so slightly. Nami froze for a few seconds, her own chocolate eyes narrowing angrily before she craned her neck forward and in one swift move snatched her kitten up by his scruff. She trotted away with Luffy and Zoro's growl died down again. With a frustrated exhale, he circled the cushion and once more laid down to rest.
Luffy opened an eye tiredly and yawned, having been woken by the jostling movement. He looked around sleepily and mewled softly, his body curled with Nami's firm grip on his scruff.
"What's happening, guys?" he mumbled, groggily.
"Nothing," Nami replied, as she set him down on her own bed and licked at his scruffy mop of fur. "Its fine, Luffy. Go back to sleep."
The little kitten purred softly at the attention and contently obeyed his surrogate mothers gentle demand.
Sanji, who had been alerted of Nami's movement by the bell she wore on her collar, (she was the only cat in the household Shanks had managed to get to wear one.) curiously peeked his head into the room again and surveyed the scene. He slinked silently across the carpeted floor, belly to the ground to stealthily slip past his beloved (and from what he could tell, very angry) Nami-san. The Persian-mix, too preoccupied with cleaning her adopted kitten, didn't even notice his sneaky journey.
That was until a certain fur-ball foiled his plans. The urge to hiss at the runt was heavy, but Nami glared at him sharply, her puffy tail giving one flick of annoyance, and that was all it took to send the Siamese crawling over to Robin for refuge from her silent rage from his loose tongue.
Sanji rubbed affectionately against Robin as he passed her by, and purred contently as he slipped under her chin with another quick rub. He spotted the green lump snoozing on the cushion and stared at it intently.
"Still not up?" he mumbled, to himself. "Maybe he's dead."
"HE DIED? NO! HE CAN'T!" Luffy cried as he tore away from Nami's unscheduled bath and clumsily scrambled over to Zoro. "He just got here...!"
Nami glared heatedly at Sanji and the Siamese ducked down behind Robin with a pitiful yowl.
"He's fine, Luffy!" Nami insisted, exasperated as Luffy escaped from his bath yet again.
"But Nami!" he cried. "What if he does die? We should wake him up!"
"There's no need to be alarmed, kitten-san," Robin spoke softly, as she nosed Luffy away from the cushion and dragged her tongue over his scruffy fur affectionately. "He's merely tired. Besides, I believe Master-san is waking up, and it's past our feeding time."
Luffy was about to protest Robin's attempt to put space between he and his new friend, but at the mention of food his ear twitched and his head whipped around the Shanks. The red head had begun to stir and the kitten bounded over to him to make sure he didn't decide to have an extra five minutes on his unscheduled nap.
Shanks yelped as tiny claws pierced the fabric of his thin shirt and a familiar weight settled against his shoulder. He smiled warmly and glanced at the kitten in his peripheral vision. Luffy batted at Shanks cheeks and clumsily circled his shoulder as he mewled and yipped impatiently.
"I guess you're hungry, eh?" Shanks' deep voice rang out in the otherwise silent room.
Luffy answered his question by nuzzling up close to his neck. Tiny teeth found purchase on Shanks' earlobe and sucked noisily. The crimson haired man chuckled and reached up. He plucked the kitten from his shoulder and held him up by his scruff.
"Alright, alright," he grinned. "You win."
Gently, he placed Luffy on the carpeted floor and strode from the room. The sound of the kitchen door being shut sounded (it always had to be, as Luffy would often try to nibble from any food he could get to when Shanks was preparing dinner, whether it be cat, dog or fish food) and Luffy stumbled around in circles excitedly.
Sanji rolled his eyes and moved to settle by Nami, gingerly rubbing against her, begging for forgiveness. Nami didn't return the affection, but she didn't push him away either and so the Siamese clawed at the opportunity to get back on her good side and snuggled up close.
"Dinner time," he stated. "The brat's being all weird again."
As if on cue, Shanks walked in the room with several bowls filled with the different assortments of food his animals required. Luffy wound around his feet awkwardly and Shanks almost tripped before Robin padded over and plucked up the little nuisance.
"Ah, Robin." Shanks garbled around a food bowl held between his teeth. "What would I do without you?"
Robin waited until Shanks had placed the bowls before she released Luffy in front of his own and the little vacuum got to work right away. He gulped hungrily at his meaty chunks and paused only to lick his lips or swallow. Satisfied that the kitten would be out of trouble for five minutes, Robin trotted over to her own food bowl and started wolfing down her dinner. An unusual stillness from Luffy caught her eye and the dog lifted her head curiously to watch the kitten. Luffy had turned away from his food and was once again watching the green lump snoozing on that old worn pillow.
"Is everything alright, kitten-san?" she called.
Luffy ignored Robin's call and instead shifted his gaze back to the food, then Zoro, and then the food again. He seemed to contemplate something before he turned back to his bowl and with a great deal of difficulty with his lack of coordination he dragged the food in the bowl over to the sleeping cat. He then proceeded to dig in.
Shanks, who had watched the whole ordeal, alerted (as usual) by Robin's keen senses to something being off, and laughed. He scruffed Luffy's fur before he moved to feed Usopp.
"You seem fond of our new friend, Luffy." the red haired man smiled.
Luffy meowed in agreement, the noise muffled between mouthfuls of food. Nami seemed less enthusiastic to her meal (as she always was) and sniffed at her food uncertainly before she tested a little and deemed it acceptable. Sanji munched away at his own bowl beside her. Luffy cleared his bowl in a matter of minutes and though he was tempted to move on to Zoro's small bowl of food (not far from his own), he didn't want to make his new friend mad again. Maybe they could place when he woke up? That back leg looked pretty sore, but they could play games that didn't need a lot of movement – like beating up that squeaky mouse he left behind the curtain.
Clumsily, the small kitten clawed his way back onto the cushion and smooched against Zoro once more before he curled up beside him again.
I'll take care of you, he promised himself.
That was the last thought on his mind as he snuggled up next to Zoro and fell asleep.