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Bathing Stinky

"Um… Hello," Dick smiled uncertainly down at the newcomer. "I've heard about you."

"Miaow?" The cat responded, coming to a halt nearly a yard away from the sofa. A low rumble issued from its throat.

"Not that I believe a word Blue Jay says," Dick continued.

The cat meowed again.

"Cat!" Karen exclaimed as she walked into the living room. "Dick, he's not bothering you, is he?"

Dick shook his head. "No, he just walked in, didn't'cha, little guy?"

The cat took a tentative step closer.

Dick wrinkled his nose. "Karen, are your trash cans covered?"

"What? Oh! Stinky!" She scooped up the feline quickly. "I don't know how he keeps getting into them," she said apologetically. "Guess I'd better wash him off," the cat began to struggle in earnest, "or he'll stink the place up while we're at dinner."

"Can I give you a hand?" Dick asked, getting up.

"No, I've got this." She stopped. "Actually, if you wouldn't mind holding onto the shampoo, for me," she said thoughtfully. "I may be able to keep him from jumping out of the tub. He usually does that at least once. And," she held the yellow cat out to Dick, "watch out for those claws, I swear, he hones them when I'm not looking—"

Dick chuckled. "It's okay, I think he actually likes me-OUCH!" He grasped the cat's forepaws firmly. "No!"

Karen burst out laughing. "I'm sorry, but I did warn you! Just, hold onto him a few quick seconds," she said pulling off her jacket. She was wearing a sleeveless tank top underneath. "Okay, pass him back."

"With pleasure," Dick said. "Are those claws laced with adamantium, or something?"

"You really want to know what he dips his claws into?" She shook her finger in the cat's face. "Behave, you." She looked at Dick. "Third shelf in the linen closet has his stuff. Get the shampoo, one of the towels," she thought, "and the nail trimmer, too." She smiled. "My invulnerability will protect my arms, but it won't save the jacket. Thanks for holding him."

"No problem." He followed woman and cat into the bathroom, grabbing the supplies enroute.

The cat was not enjoying himself, Dick noted with some satisfaction, but neither was he putting more than a token effort into his struggles. "Does this happen often?" He asked.

Karen let out a long-suffering sigh. "You have absolutely no idea. Dick, I'm sorry. I know we were going to go out, but if we do now, I don't know what shape we're going to find the apartment in when we get back. If you want to call it a night, I understand.

"Hey," Dick said, "we can order in. You like pizza?"

She hesitated. "How do you feel about dim sum?"

"Love it. You know a place that delivers?"

"Number three on my speed-dial. Shampoo. Just squeeze a glop into my hand?" She held it out. "Thanks. Oh, yes, you know what's coming next, yes you do, 'cuz you deserve it. Don't you hiss at me, you yellow fuzzball!"

Dick watched, laughing a bit as she alternately cooed and cursed at the feline.

"Towel," she said finally. "Thanks. Grab one for me, too?" she added as she got up. The front of her tank top was dripping wet, leaving less to the imagination than her Power Girl costume.

"Be right back," Dick mumbled, hoping that his cheeks weren't as red as they felt. He returned a moment later, in time to hear Karen threatening her pet with a blow-drier and ribbons. The cat, incredibly, was keeping still.

"Thanks," Karen said again. "Let me just get changed, and we'll figure out what to order from the dim sum place. The menu's on the fridge, if you want to look it over first."

"Will do."

When Karen returned to the living room a few minutes later, it was to a scene not unlike the one she'd found some forty-five minutes before: Dick sitting in the green-upholstered armchair, the cat posed a few feet away, vocalizing.

Dick looked up from the menu. "I really think he likes me," he said.

Karen's eyes crinkled at the corners. "Well, maybe. But you're also sitting in his seat."