Title: The Cat's Meow
Character/pairing: France/Canada, Francat/Canacat, USUK, Americat/Englandcat.
Summary: Francis' cat takes an interest in Matthew's cat, which leads to Francis finally noticing the cute and shy neighbor who's loved him all along.
Author's note: Franada winter exchange: prompt was about the same as the summary.
Montrachet 1978 is one of the most expensive wines in the world.
Thanks to Melly for encouragement, happyfacing and randomly listening to be babble.
Lafayette was a glorious cat, and he knew it. He was also a spoiled cat, one who settled for nothing but the best and shared the same tastes the human who fed him. To dogs, they were "masters"; to birds "flock members"; to him, his human was tolerated, even liked at times, but still that - simply a human. Not quite up to being a cat, nor of higher rank than himself.
Lafayette loved to sun himself, and took to the more peaceful pursuits of wooing the neighborhood cats, rather than fighting anything that moved, like Gunther. He wasn't a pushover, being a large cat, even if more fur than bulk, but it was just so tedious. He didn't want to end up ears with nicks in them; his ears were much too pretty for that.
There was one cat in particular he was intent on wooing, exactly the sweet girl he was off to visit. He let out a few caterwauling meows as he went up the fire escape. He jumped in a neighbor's window, and found his way following a tall quiet man with a glasses and a scary expression. He lucked out when he left for a food run for the other flatmates, and lucked out even more when one of the humans from the neighboring apartment he was trying to get into came out. He was an busy listening to the portable noise machine, with a lively beat he was doing that shaking the bottom thing – dancing, his human called it.
He was the more oblivious of the humans, so it was that Lafayette snuck right in the door.
Right in to Maple.
She was curled up on the couch in a patch of sun. Maple had a fluffy coat, slightly more so than her litter mate's. They were similar in size, except that she was a bit smaller, and had a more lithe body than Hamburger who would eat anything, and it showed. She had a little orangish leaf-like marking on her haunch, and a eyes of the shade he'd never seen in another cat. She gracefully licked herself, lifting a paw to clean with her pink tongue. The minute he had first saw her, he had already planned on being the cause of many, many of her kittens. As of yet it hadn't happened, but he wasn't about to give up.
"Meow, ma cherie," Lafayette said . He approached her slowly, his magnificent white tail up proudly as he walked.
She looked up, surprised by his arrival.
"La-Lafayette..." She looked to the side for the presence of her fellow cats, two who weren't exactly fond of him.
"Did you miss me?."
"I–" She began.
The potential moment was ruined by a pounce from above.
Hamburger bit and scratched and pawed at her, always too hard, as he was unaware of his own strength. She let out a discordant, annoyed meow, and dug in with her back claws.
Lafayette sniffed, flicking his tail in irritation. He hated having the spotlight stolen from him. He sat there, looking irritated and far too mature for this while the litter mates wrestled, with Maple whining a shrill let me go, you doof! and Hamburger yelling not until you say uncle!
It was only the door opening, keys clattering, with the sound of crumpling bags, and a greasy, meaty scent that diverted his attention. Personally, Lafayette preferred steak, medium rare.
"Cheeeeesebuuurrrgers!" Hamburger was off like a shot towards the door where he tripped up his human's feet.
"Whoa there, cowboy," his human said.
"I can has? I can has?" Hamburger meowed loudly.
"Stupid kit. You could wake the dead," Iggy growled.
"Hey Iggs," the human said. He scratched Iggy reluctantly behind the ears.
"Ffft, old man. I wouldn't be surprised if you were already dead," Hammy said. He stuck out his kitty tongue for a moment. Iggy would've flattened his ears, but they already were, and were in a state of perpetual flatness, which might've been his problem.
"Old and decrepit as ever," Lafayette said. He sauntered in, and sat smugly with his fluffy white tail curled around him.
"Say that again, frog and I'll scratch your eyes out!" hissed Iggy.
"Fff, as if," Lafayette retorted.
"Hey, Matt, did we get another cat?" the human stuffed food into his big mouth, and glanced over curiously at the other human from the same litter.
"Nope," said the other human. Lafayette liked this human. He often would lean down to pet him, and had shared his food on several occasions. Maple, the current cat on his mind adored him best. She nuzzled up to his legs, and he petted her. All the while she looked a little shyly back at Lafayette. He winked at her, and she hid behind the human's legs.
"These two sure don't get along. Always one to make enemies, huh Iggy?" Hamburger's human said. Iggy looked sourly up at him, as if to say what do you think, idiot?
"For the last name, his name is Ignatius Kirkland the Third. Not Igs, Iggy, or Iggypop. Not Ziggy Stardust either."
This was the human his human didn't like. Or to be more precise, liked to not like. Lafayette had to agree with his human: his eyebrows were an affront to nature. Lafayette's tail jerked in indignation at the ugliness that was his tartan pullover. If it was in his house, Lafayette would've left hairballs on it.
"He's Francis' cat," the human said, almost dreamily. His expression grow soft, his thoughts far away as he looked to the window, as if to catch a glimpse.
"Oh, cool," Hamburger's human said. "You can take him back, then. Hammy and Iggy have enough mortal combat as it is without bringing that cat in here."
"I—er— h-he can just find his own way back. He always does," the human said. His cheeks turned a rosy shade, and he turned around quickly to hide it. Not that Hammy's human noticed, as he had already put one of those overly greasy 'Cheeseburgers' Hamburger was always raving about in his mouth.
He leaned down and petted him just like Lafayette liked. He was too dignified to do the dog-like rub my belly! belly roll Hamburger was so prone to doing. Though in truth, Hamburger resembled a dog in most actions. He was cheerful, lacking in the aloofness cats were known for, and a messy eater.
That wasn't to say that Lafayette despised having someone rub his belly. It was just certain people he allowed that honor. Perhaps when he was alone, and his human was spending a night in, he'd casually sit by his human while he smoked and listen to those large cut circle things which made noise. And then he'd look disinterested, as if he couldn't care, really, but he was bored enough that he might deign to let his belly be rubbed by the human.
Lafayette came in through the window left open for him. He knew his way around the fire escape, and found it a nice change from the indoor stairs. He could smell all sorts of alley smells there. There were the loud noises of the city outside, the scents of other tomcats who had marked their territory here, or lost some fur in a scuff – usually against Gunther, for that matter.
He sauntered into the kitchen where his human was pouring himself a glass of that red drink he liked so much that smelled of rotten fruit.
"Catting around, mon ami?" His human considered him, and smiled. He was rather fond of his human. He allowed him space, fussed only when necessary, refused to resort to the cruel act of 'fixing' him like so many other cats had been. In fact, he had promised that he would never 'fix' Lafayette, for such a thing would be inhumane in his eyes. He was treated more like a roommate than pet, and that was just what he deserved.
His human was humming, which Lafayette knew meant he must've gotten a little tail of his own. If Lafayette was capable of brofisting, he would have brofisted his human.
"So, you found any pretty young girl cats to chase? Boy cats?"
Lafayette tilted his head, his eyes in a narrowed perhaps I'll care enough to pay attention to you look.
"Me, ah, I'm a little bored, I suppose. Tonight's girl wasn't too bad...certainly not, but hardly a challenge," his human said. "I suppose that's the curse of being so beautiful and talented and charming." He sighed, and took a sip of his red drink.
"I just want someone with a great bijoux de famille, who speaks French, who loves sex, wine and Edith Piaf as much as I do," his owner said. "Apparently, the only way I'll ever get this is with a mirror."
But there's a human right next door, Lafayette thought. He'd heard Maple's human muttering angrily the same way his human did. He'd heard the same noise that his human liked.
He had a plan. It circumvented with his plan to seduce Maple, and thus was not only convenient, but useful. Maple was a sweet thing, and would actually care about the happiness of her human. Also, Maple's human gave out free tuna, which was also relevant to his interests. As far as he was concerned, everyone would be happy.
The next day, after his morning turkey breast – for anything less than the choicest cuts were beneath him – he left for the place two floors up. He followed a cranky human with his demure litter mate. She bent to pet him and murmured a how pretty and the human gave him a look as if to say scratch her and I swear I will turn you into a fur pelt. Lafayette felt rather offended by that. He was a genial cat straight from the city of love. He didn't scratch anyone, unless they really deserved it or were into that sort of thing. He left them, indignant and hopped out the open window to the fire escape. He could smells the scents of the street below. Gunther had been here recently, marking the place as his territory. Garbage which other cats found appealing, but Layfayette wouldn't deign to touch such things (much to his human's appreciation.)
He leaped up, peering from window to window, looking in until he found exactly where he wanted. Maple was lying on the windowsill, sunning herself. Sometimes just looking at her made him sigh in dreamy happiness. They'd make such pretty babies together.
"Maple~ Ma chere~" he called.
There was only the clear barrier of the window pane in between them. She was so very close, and Hamburger and Ignatius were even out of the room. He meowed indignantly at the window and batted it with his paw. It should be called window pain with all the cockblocking it was doing him. She looked shy, and a little sad. She put her delicate white paw to the window so it was almost like they were touching.
"Maple, what are you doing?"
Maple's human came in, and peered through the window. He pushed up the metal things he wore on his face. Lafayette tried to look as pitiful as possible.
"Maybe he's hungry..." Maple's human muttered. He lifted up the window, and he was in!
"I'll go get you some tuna," he said.
Tuna! Oh, he loved Maple's human. He really did. Maple followed after. "Oi, cherie! Wait a moment! This is a moment alone!"
"O-oh, sorry," she said. "Tuna, you know?"
"Oh yes, cherie. Besides, I can smell Hamburger and Ignatius in the kitchen," Lafayette said. He stepped forward and touched his nose to hers. She didn't shy away, though if cats could have flushed in that abashed way Maple's human did, she would have.
Maple's human bent down and put a little glass plate of tuna.
As tempted as he was, he could still be a gentleman – especially when it involved getting a little tail.
"You first, cherie."
"No, no, you first."
Maple's human solved the problem by pouring just a little more the dish to solve the problem.
"There, so no one has to fight," he said.
Oh, he loved the boy. He really did.
He leaned down to pet them as they ate. At this point, curling up in his lap and demanding pettings was looking about as appealing as seducing the lovely Maple.
"Do you think he likes me? I mean, really likes me?" Maple's human sighed.
Maple licked her lips and looked up at him. Lafayette tilted his head, in regal manner.
"Oh, man...I'm turning my cat into a therapist. I need to get laid," he sighed.
"Yes, yes you do," Lafayette and Maple meowed in unison. However good Maple's human was, he still wasn't perfect. He didn't get the message at all, and instead stood up.
"You guys want some more food?"
Then again, he was pretty damn close.
Now the idea of pairing Maple's human with his was even more appealing. Double the pettings, double the food. Maple's human would probably lavish even more attention to him once he was regularly getting tail from his human. Because really – the boy needed it. Bad.
He told her of the plan the next day. He had convinced her to walk the halls with him – for she was a little shy outside, and her human seemed to not give her the freedom his did, lest she get lost. He convinced her that walking up and down the hallway wouldn't be such a problem, though, and she walked in stride with him, curiously looking at every nook, every cranny and secret that might be hidden there. Lafayette was quite amused by her naivety, her gentle curiosity. He wondered how she'd look seated proudly next to him next time his human had one of his famous gatherings. They'd be glorious together. Sitting there, chic and disinterested in the crowd, except when a morsel of food was laid before them.
He rubbed against her, and purred. She nuzzled back as they walked on, and he whispered his little plan to her.
"Ma cherie, it's easy. All we have to do is work together."
And he explained it too – how his human and her human would be a good match, and that would allow for lots of time alone together, without disturbances from Ignatius Eyebrows and Hamburger. Also, he mentioned that it would make her human happy. Maple was one of those rare kind cats, who actually had quite a bit of rapport with her human other than 'feed me, slave' that was the usual cat response to their human. He found it endearing, as he found most of her traits.
And so it was they put their plan into action. They didn't have to wait long – as he had planned out as well – for both their humans would come out around this time. Maple had informed him that this was the day her human brought home the mythical noms for them, thus always arrived late.
Two perfectly innocent humans – ok, scratch that. One utterly crafty, perverted, but not attuned to their plan human, and one human distracted by groceries walked on. They might have, in fact, simply walked by each other, with Maple's human blushing and squeaking and hiding behind his bags, while his human paid no attention to the apparent living bag of cat food and baked clams walked by.
"Now spring on my call. Un...deux...trois!"
Each sprung towards Maple's human's legs, sending him sprawling right onto Lafayette' human. The bag fell, but Lafayette' human caught him.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry—"
"Oh, hello," his human said.
Maple's human bent to pick up the cans, his face burning. Lafayette' human bent to help him.
"I don't believe I've seen you here before," he said.
"I, um. Live right up the next floor. Er. Floors."
"Oh, you live in the apartment with the loud fights and all the loud sex?" Lafayette' human smiled.
Maple's human blushed. "Y-yeah, that'd be it. I'm sorry if my brother and his boyfriend are keeping you up. They do that."
"It's good to know someone is enjoying their love life," Lafayette' human said.
"'Enjoy' might be too strong a word," he said.
"Oh? So them sounding like a pair of cats in the alleyway was because they were unhappy with it?"
Maple's human shook his head. "Um. I try not to think about it, really. I just put on my noise canceling headphones and try and get some sleep."
"I see..." Lafayette' human leaned in. "But tell me, who is warming your bed, hmm?"
Maple's blushed to the roots of his hair. "Uh..."
"I'll take that as you being free?" Lafayette' human said.
"Well, er, yes..."
"Good. Oh, and really, you should give me your number, in case my troublesome cat comes over. We should have an exchange, non?"
Maple's human looked through his pockets, in a flustered manner as he tried for his phone.
"It. It's a new phone. I haven't memorized the number yet..." he explained. "I could swear it was just here..."
"Mmm. Perhaps I should...help you look for that?" Lafayette' human slipped his hand into Maple's human's jeans. First slowly to his back pockets, close enough that his whiskers almost brushed Maple's human's face. Maple's human's eyes were wide, and his lips parted for a little moan as his human moved to the other pockets, searching each one in a slow way. He practically had Maple's human pinned to the wall, and was certainly taking his time in touching him. Eventually, he located the device in question in the coat Maple's human was wearing.
His human, who was quite the smooth player stepped back only to input his number in the device.
"Feel free to call me. Anytime, whatever hour. If you need me, then wake me up. Though I may demand coffee as payment...or other things." He winked. "Until later, d'accord?"
"U-um, yes," Maple's human replied.
Maple's human watched him disappear, and after several breaths, leaned against the wall. He rubbed at his red face and pinched his cheek. Then he opened up the metal contraption. He sighed again, dreamy and held it to himself.
"I believe, cherie, we have a success," Lafayette said. He winked at her, and followed after his human, who was whistling now. Always a good sign.
Lafayette and Maple were on his couch, and Maple was giving him a tongue bath, to which Lafayette had simply closed his eyes and sat back to enjoy. One eye opened when the door closed, and his human came in with shopping bags and the scent of freshly sliced meat. He let out an appreciative meow.
"My, my, like a pair of naughty teenagers making out on the couch," his human said.
Lafayette smirked, as if to say don't you wish you were in my situation, non? Maple didn't look up from her task. She was still a bit shy about his human, though Lafayette knew she had a secret fondness for him. She just seemed a very shy cat in general, as opposed to her brother who didn't know the meaning of the word.
"I have asked Matthieu to coffee," his human said. "In fact, I'm going in a moment, right after your dinner. I'll have to let him know Maple is over here. You're being a terrible influence on her, you know."
Lafayette smirked as if to say you haven't the half of it, human. Wait until you see my plans.
Francis gathered his needed things, put on a bit of that smelly thick scent called 'cologne' and waved to them.
"Play nice, you naughty kitties," his human said with a wink, as he made his way through the door.
"Oh, it will be quite nice," Lafayette meowed. But his human as always, didn't get the wit, and simply went off out the door, whistling all the while.
"What is it with the human habit of going out for those drinks?" Maple sighed. Her human had been in a state of bliss, which somehow lead to him running into a lot of walls.
"It is their courtship. I believe my human often offers to go out for something called 'coffee' or 'a drink' and brings up the person later."
"Oh, that makes sense," Maple said. "My human couldn't make a day without this 'coffee'. He's utterly useless in the mornings until he gets it. I have to sit on his face and meow at him to get him to feed me."
"Yes, indeed," Lafayette said. "Things are going well, but to keep them on track, there's just one more thing we have to do, but it will take some finagling. Do you think you can handle it, cherie?"
"I'll do my best," she said. "I want my human to be happy. He desperately needs some tail."
"I know, right? That boy..." Lafayette' tail twitched. "He needs to be locked in a room for a week and only let out when he can barely walk."
"And he will, once the plan is in place?" Maple asked.
He buried his nose against her fur, breathing in that lovely scent of her.
"Yes, very soon," Lafayette replied.
Lafayette waited until two of these 'drink meetings' had occurred. Obviously his human was taking it slow, just as he had with Maple. He approved, and thought his human quite astute. But soon enough he grew ansty, for if he waited too long, his human might tire of Maple's human before the plan was even to take place. So it was, one day bright and early that they set out.
She followed after him. Unlike Lafayette, Maple had never been out in the world of humans.
Some of the other cats made some catcalls at her, but Lafayette simply gave them a look and a growl. He was quite a big cat, never mind that he was mostly fur, and he hung out with Gunther, and no one wanted to be on Gunther's bad side.
Maple for her part, hissed right back and fluffed herself up. When she walked, it was with an indignant air that these lowlives would even think to try and court her. Ah, he was rubbing off on her already. He loved it.
They both walked without a care as they went down the noisy street. Sometimes humans stopped to remark over them, but Lafayette never stayed long to preen, even when there was scent of fish on the air. Where they were going would have plenty of fish.
Maple followed after him with such a trusting air, despite her innate fear of the loud noises and people. She wasn' t quite so shy as to hide under the couch whenever company came over, but she had never been around the humans much, other than the few who had lived in their little apartment.
There were noisy street vendors, and people on those strange contraptions they put to their ears and then talked to themselves with. People walking the hated dogs – one little white yappy monstrosity which tried to come near Lafayette. Maple reached out and batted it with her paw, claws out. It seemed the girl had spunk in her after all.
It was some period of time that they reached the building and climbed up the fire escape. It was a lesser building than theirs, in a more crowded neighborhood with meaner cats, but as it was, it was simply a place his human and the others he hung with kept for certain reasons. Something about his human being tired of his apartment being ruined in their parties.
The window was partly open, and they both jumped in and came into the plain little room, just in time as one of his human's friends stumbled in, groaning. This was Gunther's human, the loud one who always smelled of wurst. He stumbled in and muttered fucking window before closing it. He stumbled out, groaning all the way. All the humans got like this after the nights where they would trade around drinks. His human often left the drink out for him. It was a bitter drink, but sometimes he felt like having a bit. The same with the rich brown drink his human drank on days after.
"That was close.." Maple said.
"No, he's too sore to notice," Lafayette said. "Soon he'll be off, and we can raid the food he leaves for us."
"That's good...I'm hungry. Are you sure this will work?"
"Don't worry, cherie. Everything is going as planned."
Maple shared a trait with her human, mainly the fact that they were unnoticed, and often it would take people some time to notice their absence. In fact, Matthew could go out for hours, get all the groceries, to laundry and come back when it was quite late, only to find that Arthur hadn't even realized he was gone.
To be fair, they both shared the problem of having very loud, enthusiastic brothers who at times unintentionally and intentionally took away all the attention. So it was that after a long, usual day, Matthew came home to find only Hamburger greeting him at the door.
He petted Hamburger, but looked concernedly around for his cat.
"Hey Al, have you seen Maple?"
Crunch. Munch. "She'z pro'bly jus' sweepin' 'omwere."
Matthew didn't bring up the talking while eating thing. Arthur could nag about him if need be, but at the moment, he was too busy putting away milk and bringing up things. It took thirty minutes in all, and when she still hadn't appeared, he began to look room to room to find here, making calls.
"Why don't you just put some cat food out? You know she comes running whenever she hears it," Al suggested when Matthew asked again.
"You're right," Matthew said. "I'll give that a try, she's sure to come out from wherever she's hiding."
But two cat food cans later put on the automatic can opener, it was only Hamburger and a cranky Ignatius who deigned to grace them with his presence.
"She's never missed a feeding before..." Matthew said.
He went back to searching the house.
Francis was just wondering if he should go call his friends for a wild night out. He wasn't sure he wanted to deal with the hangover the next day. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his cellphone. He lifted it up, and grinned at the read out. Before he could even say 'hello', Matthieu responded with a torrent of words and sentences said so fast Francis could barely catch him.
"— I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bug you but I had to—"
"Shh, Calme-toi. Now tell me from the beginning what happened?"
He took several deep breaths. "It's Maple. She must have gotten out, and I'm just so worried about her. She's always been an inside cat. She could get hit by a car, or get lost—"
"Shhh, Have you checked your house? Cats are fond of curling up in dark places and sleeping."
"Not Maple, though. She tends to stick to specific spots, and I've checked all around. I even called through the rooms and used the can opener. Nothing. Also, the window was slightly open — I must have accidentally forgot—"
"I'll be right over," Francis said.
"No, it's ok. Arthur is here. Just, is she there? Maybe she was just running with Lafayette again?" Matthieu asked hopefully.
Francis took a cursory glance. "I don't see that cat of mine, but he's allowed to wander a little. He never goes far, so I don't worry."
"All right, I'll keep looking—" Matthieu said, sounding disappointed.
"You won't be able to do anything in this state. First you have to calm down so you can have a clear mind. Otherwise you'll put yourself into a state of panic," Francis said.
"Too late," he said ruefully.
"Come over for a while. In a bit, we'll go looking for her together when you're calm again."
"All right...I'll be right down."
The main room was still being renovated, but it was warm and safe. Sometimes his human brought him here, and there were always plenty of dry cat food and water in a container special made to keep it fresh for when the humans were away, so that the other cats like Gunther, Enrique, Tomato or Pasta could nose the little pink door and get the food.. There was also small packets of his favorite treats which weren't hard to dislodge from their spot on top of the fridge (which was if anything, a challenge directly to Lafayette's skill as a cat – one he gladly accepted.) The packs would easily give way to sharp claws.
He and Maple dined well, taking a pack each. After that they went to the sole couch and curled up together on it.
"What do we do next?" Maple asked.
"We wait a while," Lafayette said. He yawned and stretched out against her. She hadn't quite calmed down from her trip yet, and looked around anxiously.
"I've been feeling weird lately," Maple confessed. "You don't think I'll have to go to the v-vet, will I?"
"Don't worry, cherie. I'm here," Lafayette said. He began to lick her clean, and she closed her eyes and finally began to relax.
"Here, something to calm you down," Francis said. He had pulled out his finest wine for this, and he'd been saving that for a truly epic seduction – a president's daughter, an actress, or a singer. But he wanted only the best for Matthieu, as it was. The music too, was set for romance. It was Edith Piaf, played so often he thought her an old friend to him, even if she'd died long before he had been born, he still felt camaraderie through her music.
Matthieu's eyes were closed as he listened.
"Whenever I'm sad, she comforts me," Francis said.
"I love Edith Piaf," Matthieu sighed. He leaned back in his chair. "She's my favorite singer of all time, I think. She just put such emotion into her work...every time I hear Hymme á L'amour I just want to weep." He took a sip of the wine Francis had given to him and turned to look appreciatively at it. "This is really good wine, by the way. I'm really surprised you'd bring out a Montrachet 1978 just for me. I mean, I'm very thankful, but..."
And it was that moment, just looking at that sweet, shy smile that something came over him. He choked, and couldn't even comfort the cute boy, as he had planned, as he had been planning for weeks. He could just feel a little awed that exactly what he was looking for had well, run into him.
"You're...extraordinary," Francis said.
Matthieu blushed. "R-Really, you're too kind. I'm very plain..."
"No, truly. I can't believe I've never noticed you before, and to think, you lived in the same building...it's just..."
"Just?" Matthieu asked.
"Surprising," Francis said. "But I'm glad I met you."
"Me too..." Matthieu said. He looked up, still shy and blushing, yet happier, and even hopeful. It was such an endearing look, it made Francis want to kiss him.
"Bottoms up," Francis said. He lifted his glass, and winked, leaving little doubt that he was referring to more than just the drink. Matthieu sipped like a pro, and Francis didn't even have to pat him on the back as he coughed, like he had feared. Which was good, because you just did not guzzle Montrachet 1978.
"I'm sure we'll find her," Francis said in a soothing manner.
"Yeah... I hope so," Matthieu said.
"Regardless, we should go look for her after this drink is done. We don't want to be stumbling out there drunkenly while we look for her."
Matthieu nodded and sipped away. He'd fallen silent and Francis let him be silent and let him worry. He'd let finding her be his comfort.
They went outside and searched until it was sunset. Francis refrained from pushing Matthieu into the nearest alley and kissing him silly, which was quite a feat of self-control, considering. Truth be told, he was worried about little Maple as well. The way Matthieu's cute face was drawn in worry made his heart clench. They called until their voices were hoarse, but no sign of her. Matthieu was so dejected as he went back to his apartment, and Francis felt melancholy right with him. He turned off the phone and let Gilbert's demands for him to come party go to voicemail.
Instead, Francis stayed up late looking through every nook and cranny of the apartment complex he could, hoping to bring a smile back to Mattthieu's face.
He did give in for Gilbert's requests to go party eventually. He hadn't had sex in a whole week and had spent the whole time drenched in his lust for Matthieu, mixed with worry, with new feelings he didn't even know what to do with. Sex was cathartic. When he was angry, he had sex. When he was bored, he had sex. When he was sad, he had sex. In all these instances, the mood was lifted and he was left calm. Then the lady or man of that night would go their separate ways, and he'd go back to his regular life.
It had gone pretty much like any other pickup. She was a blond, medium length hair, a cute smile. He thought she'll do.
But when the lady of last night had gone, she left him with a new bruise on his cheek. In retrospect, calling out Matthieu's name hadn't been the best idea, though it hadn't exactly been a logical response. His body had simply reacted, and that was the name he said. The woman didn't see it that way, however.
He stumbled out of bed, tangled in sheets. For the first time, he felt somewhat awkward about the situation. Usually he would've laughed it off, taken it as an anecdote to trade with his friends. Now all he could think was that here he had been sleeping with a girl who couldn't even understand romance when he could've been sleeping with Matthieu. He wondered what kind of mornings they'd have. Perhaps coffee, and kisses stolen, and soft French music played in the background. Much better than a high-heel thrown in his face.
Days went by with no sign of her. Francis had admirable restraint, and hadn't comforted him manually, despite his growing need to have Matthieu in his bed. Matthieu was so worried about her that Francis just would turn on some Edith Piaf and sit there on the couch, arms around him. Matthieu didn't cry, but he'd lay his head on Francis' chest and Francis would stroke his hair. Francis resisted the ever growing urge to kiss Matthieu, though Matthieu wasn't making it easy for him. He bit his lips when he was anxious, he licked them and wetted them. All it did was highlight how utterly kissable and adorable he was and made Francis want to pull him into his bed all over again.
He'd only known Matthieu a few weeks, but d already all that Francis could think was that he wanted to know Matthieu more, know every little thing about him. The places he liked being kissed, how he took his coffee, the way he looked when he came.
But he wouldn't push Matthieu. He wouldn't use pickup lines or manipulate him out of his pants.
He was sure the disappearance had something to do with Lafayette. What a naughty cat he was. He had never worried much about Lafayette wandering. Usually he just popped up at the other apartment, which he had somehow learned how to walk to. Lafayette hated getting his coat dirty, so he didn't just sleep under bridges or hang with mere alley cats.
Francis' eyes popped open wide. The other apartment. Could he have lead her away there? Oh, what a naughty cat indeed. Francis gently untangled himself from Matthieu. Matthieu looked up, confused. "Was I too heavy? I'm sorry, I'm imposing on you–"
"No, no– I think I know where she might be," Francis said.
Matthieu's eyes widened. "What? Really?"
"Yes. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to see if my hunch is right. Wait here."
Matthieu looked so hopeful, so happy – oh, Francis hoped those troublesome cats were there. He didn't think he could take Matthieu's heartbroken expression if they weren't. On impulse, and how far he'd pushed his self control, he leaned in an stole a kiss from Matthieu. He looked so tender then, so fragile that Francis stroked his cheek and leaned in for one more kiss before he left.
There she was, right there sleeping on his cushion. At first he mistook it for Lafayette, but then he saw there was no lovely beard, just her little ruff and maple marking. He rubbed at his eyes, but she didn't disappear.
"Bonjour, cherie," he murmured. "You're a naughty girl to give Matthieu such a scare, but I must say I'm thankful."
He reached for his cellphone, and dialed Matthieu's number. He made a mental note to put him on speed dial.
"Matthieu," he said breathlessly. "I've got her."
"What? Really? Oh..." he sighed in relief. "I'm–I'm coming. I'll be right over."
"What are you talking about?" Francis said with a laugh. "I'm coming to you."
"Oh...I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking—"
"Hush, you're just fine. I'll see you in a bit," Francis said. He closed the phone, feeling utterly relieved as he stroked Maple's fur.
"You bad cat," Francis admonished, but there was no true anger in it. If anything, he sounded more proud and amused.
Lafayette smiled smugly and curled up next to Maple on the window seat.
Francis carried two big white kitties through the door. Matthieu was bursting in and plucking her up. He held her close, his head resting on her head.
"Oh, Maple! Don't ever do that again, sweetie. I was really worried," he said. He kissed her forehead, and snuggled her a bit closer.
"Let her be a little wild, cher," Francis said.
"I think I'll leave the wildness to Lafayette," he said. "But...I'm really grateful for everything you did. Thank you." He put Maple down, and leaned in a kissed his cheek. Before he could draw away, all cute and shy, Francis caught him and kissed his lips.
There was wonder in his eyes, surprise as Francis pulled him closer, touching in ways he hadn't allowed himself before, feeling under the hoodie and beginning to undo his belt.
"Chéri..." Francis murmured. "I've wanted you so much."
"Oh Francis," Matthieu moaned. "I...I can't even say how long I've wanted you—"
He was cut off as Francis brought their lips together again.
He stepped out to the cold floor, nearly tripping as he pulled on some jeans which had been on the floor the night before. Usually he wasn't this messy, but he'd had a rough couple of days, and Matthieu had taken them off him last night. He'd unzipped the zipper with his teeth. He'd never look the same way at the boy again. He couldn't say it was the best blowjob in his life, but it was certainly the sweetest. Matthieu hadn't just sucked him, he'd nuzzled him, made love to his cock like sucking him off was an honor. He wasn't exactly skilled, but he was gentle and kind, and Francis was sure he could train him.
Francis laid back, in that post-coital dreaminess. He hadn't though Matthieu was so strong. After convincing him to leave the couch – which was white, and sex was banned from unless a cover was on — he'd scooped Francis up and carried him into the bedroom, only to apologize and push him up to a wall to steal a kiss. Matthieu's shyness and habit of slouching and wearing nothing but loose hoodies and carpenter's pants hid the fact that he had quite a nice physique.
However, he wasn't sure where Matthieu was. He felt a little sad at this. Usually, he'd be relieved to see the person had guided themselves though, but he had been hoping for a morning round. He hoped Matthieu hadn't gone for a walk of shame up back to his apartment. He didn't want him to feel guilty about this. Last night had been far too good a time for Matthieu to feel anything but proud, and pleasantly satisfied.
And then, in came a very nice sight indeed. Matthieu was wearing Francis' shirt, and only that. He looked up, with a shy smile and murmured "Good morning..."
And then he noticed the pancakes Matthieu was holding out for him. "I thought you might be hungry, so, I made you breakfast. They're my specialty," Matthieu said.
And all Francis could think was where have you been all my life? Francis groaned and pulled Matthieu closer, snuggling against him. He couldn't decide if he wanted to jump Matthieu first or eat, so he settled for a compromise.
"Does this mean I get to eat them off you?" Francis began to unbutton the buttons on his shirt.
"If you w-want?" Matthieu said. He was still quite shy, and Francis wasn't sure if he just wanted to bask in this cuteness, or fuck him senseless until he was completely and utterly corrupted. He'd have to think on it a little more to see.
Several loud German curses broke out as the door in the other room burst open. "Holy shit, pancakes! You're holding out on us, you French bastard!"
"...Chéri, you might want to put some pants on. I believe that would be Gilbert."
Matthieu nearly spilled the pancakes in his hurry to get his jeans on. Francis took the plate from him, saving it just before it tilted over.
Francis sighed. "Knowing him, he'll not let us a moment alone until he's had some."
"I don't mind cooking for more than one...I mean, as long as by cooking you don't mean t-the kind of cooking we were about to do."
"Of course not," Francis said. "Not unless you wanted to."
"I don't," Matthieu said. "I-I'm not into that stuff. Orgies and all. I'm a one man man."
Francis took his hand and kissed it. "I'm not sure I want to share you, regardless."
"Francisss! Get the fuck out here!"
"My uncouth friends call," Francis said, with a shrug. He stole one more kiss, and left out the door, with Matthieu close behind him.
Francis savored a bite as he walked out. Francis didn't get as orgasmic about pancakes as Gilbert did, but he had to admit that these were some damn fine pancakes.
"Er," Matthieu said, looking from Antonio to Gilbert. "W-what do you prefer on your pancakes?"
"Maple syrup, and lots of it. And not this fake shit. Real maple syrup," Gilbert said.
"I'd never use that stuff. The fake stuff, I man. It's a travesty to call it maple syrup."
"Fuck yeah. That shit tastes like motor oil. And yes, I know."
Matthieu looked to Francis with a confused expression.
"No, cher, you don't want to know," Francis said absently. Matthieu had even brewed him some coffee in his expresso machine. The minute he got his loudmouth friends out of the way, he was screwing Matthieu senseless on the table as a thank you.
"Ah...but I could make blueberry pancakes, or chocolate chips, or regular..." Matthieu said.
"All of the above, with triple helpings," Gilbert said.
"Ok...I might have to send one of you to get extra mix from my apartment. I always keep a ton on hand for Al," Matthieu said.
Then Matthieu looked from one to another. Each one of the trio had a personal feud with Arthur at one point.
"Maybe I'll just get the mix myself if it comes to that," he said.
Matthieu turned away and went and put another batch of pancakes on the griddle to cook.
All this time, Antonio had done little more than grin and mess with his cell phone. He had been as quiet as Gilbert had been loud.
"You'll have to excuse Antonio. He isn't ignoring you, he's just in love," Francis said.
Antonio looked like he was about to protest.
"In love with his new iPhone, that is," Francis drawled. He turned to Matthieu and winked, a secret between them.
"Oh," Matthieu said. "Sounds handy."
Antonio grinned. "It is! You wouldn't believe all the messages I can send, and the aps, there's an ap for everything!"
"Yes, his love affair with 'the phone' is quite epic. It's the kind of thing poetry is written about," Francis said. He had provided the quotations around 'the phone' with his fingers.
"Sounds like Al's love affair with his high-def flatscreen. Half the time I expect Arthur to accuse him of cheating," Matthieu said.
The trio laughed. Gilbert wiped away a manly tear of laughter. "Oh man, Arthur you suuuck." He chuckled once more, and before Francis and Antonio could do little more than nod, he hijacked the conversation.
"So like last night, you missed the most bitching concert," Gilbert began. "Seriously, it was like. The freaking bomb of awesome."
"You know my opinion on Ramstein, Gilbert," Francis said in a bored manner.
"Ramstein could kick Edith Piaf's ass," Gilbert replied.
"Oh, you did not just go there," Francis said.
"I did. Whatcha going to do about it? Wrestle me for the right of awesome music?"
"I may have to accept that challenge in the name of Edith's honor," Francis said.
"Um, guys? Can we not have any mortal combat in the middle here?" Matthieu asked.
"But what about Mortal Kombat?" Gilbert said.
Antonio looked up from his texting at the same moment Matthieu looked back. At the same time they both said Finish him!
And before Francis and Gilbert could recuperate from this shock, Matthieu laid down a whole heap of pancakes in front of him. There were blueberry and chocolate and original, and it was utterly smothered in real Canadian maple syrup.
"Ok, if you ever let this one go, I'm punching you," Gilbert said. He took a bite and just faded into the joy of pancakes. He raised a finger as he took several long bites before he finally swallowed. "Make that punching you hard. Can we make Morning pancakes a tradition for days that end with y?"
"Uh, sure?" Matthieu said, looking taken aback.
He crooked his finger in a come hither gesture. Matthieu bent in, as if to hear a secret. His cheeks were flushed from all the attention – he was a shy thing, after all – Francis stole a kiss. He pulled Matthieu into his lap, coping a feel as he did. Antonio was even able to stop texting his true love long enough to add to the chorus that these were some damn fine pancakes.
"I'm not letting him go anytime soon," Francis said.
Cats didn't keep track of time like those silly humans. They were never late, never hurrying to an event. So whether it was years, days or months, Layfayette couldn't have said. Maple's human was the only one who noticed Maple's odd recent behavior, but he was too blissful by his time spent with Layfayette's human to do much more than snuggle her once and wonder if he shouldn't take her to the vet. However, she did not seem to be ill, to lose her fur or lack the will to eat, so those wonderings never lead to much. Hamburger and Ignatius' humans were always too caught in each other to notice anything else.
So it was only the day that she didn't come for breakfast that they began to worry. They searched the apartment, high and low, and finally found her in the room Hamburger and Ignatius' human shared. It was in the back of a closet, nestled up with six little white kittens with fur that promised to be very fluffy indeed.
Lafayette sat on the edge of the room, watching over his kittens with pride. Cats weren't fatherly by nature, but they were his progeny, and he wouldn't let anyone lay a paw on anything that was his.
Iggy's human sighed. "I wish she hadn't had them all on my good shirt." He leaned in to study them. "Somehow, it's not surprising that it's the damn frog's cat who knocked her up. I wonder if Ham or Ignatius fathered any."
Lafayette meowed indignantly. As if his glorious locks could be mistaken for Ignatius Eyebrows!
"I think that's a no," Maple's human said. "Also, he has a name, you know, and it's Francis. He's going to visiting here more often, so you'd best remember it."
"Looks like his cat wasn't the only one doing sniffing around here," Iggy's human said.
"But at least he knock Matt up. ...I mean, he can't, right?"
"No, he can't, you idiot," he muttered.
"Hey, I was just making sure!"
"Six? You were busy, mon ami," Lafayette' human said. Lafayette looked smug, and began to preen. He scratched behind Lafayette' ears, and Lafayette regally allowed him to.
"Hey Francis," Hamburger's human said. "No hard feelings, but you break his heart, I break your arms."
"Understood," Lafayette' human said. He leaned in to press a kiss to Maple's human's cheek, and wrapped his arms about his waist. "I haven't an intention of ever breaking his heart."