Done for the 2011 Spring Fever Fanworkathon over at the livejournal community usxuk for the prompt: 'Arthur is a mean-spirited man who has become bitter with the world, he gets turned into a cat as a punishment, Alfred finds cat!Arthur and takes him in. You can go anywhere with this all I ask is for a happy end please.' Also, I'm an unapologetic Jazz fan, and couldn't resist adding something about the old classic Jeepers Creepers because Arthur really does have some pretty eyes.
"Hey there, peepers," Alfred called as he walked in and Arthur almost turned right back around to return to the still unmade bed in the master bedroom. But then Alfred sat his food dish down and Arthur saw that Alfred had once again sprung for the good, expensive food. This most likely meant that Alfred hadn't bought the candy that he usually did, which for Alfred was a major sacrifice. It would be a waste to refuse the meal, so Arthur reluctantly padded forward to eat his food but swatted at Alfred's ankle with his paw as the American tried to scratch his folded ears. "Well, good morning to you too, sweetheart. What, did you miss me when you woke up to find me already gone?"
He had actually, but Arthur wouldn't have admitted that even if he still could talk. There would be a lot of things he would say if he could; things like 'your snores could register on the Richter scale', 'clean up the bathroom already', 'My name is not peepers, little buddy, Sylvester, or Garfield', or 'try eating something green and leafy for once, you're a heart attack victim waiting to happen'. But saying something like 'I like it when you scoop me up for a cuddle', 'you smell like old leather and the wind', or 'you're the only person to put up with me for longer than a week'… Well, to be honest, he wasn't sure if he would prefer to remain a cat rather than say those things, but he certainly wouldn't have volunteered that information.
Not that he actually liked being turned into a cat, mind you. The whole transformation was rather painful and the results horrifying enough, never mind the terror and stress he'd felt when no one would help him (not that he had anyone that knew him well enough to recognize him as a cat) or the crippling hunger pains that nearly killed him.
Alfred hummed 'Jeepers Creepers' again, no doubt thinking himself very funny for trying to tease an animal that didn't know any better. Well, Arthur did know better and if Alfred knew better, he had better stop before the false cat decided to scratch that exposed ankle.
"-gosh oh, git up, how'd they get so lit up?" Alfred started to sing, bopping along to his imagined beat as he got his own breakfast of some sugar laden cereal. "Oh, those weepers—they hypnotize!" he belted before reaching down to scratch Arthur right on the middle of his spine, the spot that could have made him shiver even when he was a human. "Heh, and you do have pretty eyes, dontcha?"
Arthur restlessly returned to eating; it was hard getting used to the frequent compliments after going so long without. It certainly didn't help stop his growing curiosity of wondering what Alfred would say about what he looked like as a human. He had laughed at Arthur's eyebrows—still prominent, even as a cat—until Arthur literally hooked his claws into him, but he seemed fascinated with the rest of him, from his folded ears, to his tiny toes, and especially his eyes. What was it with Alfred and his eyes that made him coo so? It wasn't like anyone else liked them, Arthur included. When he was ten, his entire class called him Medusa since he had such a piercing stare they claimed he could make anyone freeze. And also, they jeered, he was just plain ugly enough to turn anyone to stone.
Meal finished, Arthur sat down to properly clean himself. At the table, Alfred could have used a reminder himself that hygiene was important. He had milk spilling down over his chin, for god's sake. Making an unhappy noise instead of the 'harrumph' he wanted, he wandered over to Alfred and sat down to properly glare up at him. With a loud meow to catch the man's attention, Arthur pointedly licked his paw and drew it across his mouth.
Alfred stared for a moment before laughing and plucking a napkin from the centerpiece to wipe his mouth. "Geez, Sylvester, for not talking, you sure do nag me a lot."
Someone has to, he grouched before Alfred reached down to set him in his lap. And don't call me that, git! He nipped at the hand that came to scratch his chin, but Alfred only chuckled at the gentle bite.
"Aw, aren't you a cute kitty, all curled up on my lap, huh?" Oh, god, the baby talk. Arthur swatted Alfred's hand again; if he didn't stop him now, Alfred would spend the rest of the morning cooing at him like that. "Oh, feisty! Hey, take it out on the mice, pal; that's what I thought we agreed on."
Arthur flicked his tail but turned his head so Alfred could go back to scratching his chin.
"Speaking of that agreement, didya know? It'll be six months tomorrow since I found you. Whatcha think about that, huh, green eyes?"
Arthur twitched, memories surging back of that awful, fetid alleyway where he had collapsed from hunger. He had wandered and tried to get someone to help him, but in the end no one even bothered to spare him a scrap of food. He didn't even know how to hunt mice properly, so he hadn't eaten in days. At last, he'd just fallen over against a trash can; with no strength to get back up he'd finally given in and tried to sob, though only weak mewls came from his throat while the rain beat down on him.
And then, somehow, Alfred had been there, staring down at him with wide eyes, asking him softly if he was still alive, as if Arthur could have answered him. He tried, nonetheless, and something in the American's expression solidified. The next thing he knew, Alfred was gently lifting him up with one arm while he unzipped his coat with the other. Then he slid the sopping wet cat into his coat without so much as a grumble and held him there before zipping the coat back up. Had he not been so exhausted, Arthur would have savaged Alfred for the manhandling as he raced down the street, but then Alfred's stomach and chest were so warm that he was lulled to sleep instantly. When he awoke next, he found himself in a warm nest of blankets with Alfred shoving an open can of tuna under his nose insistently.
Arthur nearly pounced on the food and entirely missed Alfred's happy exclamation at his sudden alertness. "-hope that means you'll be alright after all," he'd grinned, running his palm against the dome of Arthur's head. "I'm not supposed to have pets, you know, but how about a deal? You take care of the mice around here, and I won't tell the landlord about you. That cool with you?" Of course the boy was being entirely rhetorical but Arthur forced himself to stop eating in order to match gazes with the human and nod. Alfred had stared but then laughed delightedly, reaching out to scratch his ears. "Oh-ho-ho, I got a smart one on my hands now. Heh—well, don't you worry, little buddy, I'll take care of you."
And he had—Alfred bought him food and toys, and even a bed that he didn't use very often, since Alfred liked to hold him all the time. Having looked after himself since he was eight, Arthur hadn't been quite sure what to do with all the attention that was being so lovingly heaped on him. What troubled him far more was how much he enjoyed the attention. Should he ever manage to turn back to his rightful form, going back to his old, empty apartment was going to be murder. Not that he was going to tell Alfred that. Actually, he probably didn't even have that apartment anymore. It wasn't like he could have kept up the rent.
Bollocks, he grumbled as Alfred rubbed one of his ears. If I ever do find a way to change back, things are going to be such a mess.
"Well, I got to get to class," Alfred announced before picking Arthur up to set him back on the floor. "English Lit test today—pray for me, peepers!"
Arthur twitched his tail and wondered what Alfred would say if he told him he could have aced an English Literature test any day of the week had he still been human enough to hold a pencil. Oh well. He walked over to his cat bed and settled in to watch as Alfred hurried through the rest of his morning routine before running out the door. After a few minutes, Arthur got back up and padded over to the coffee table so he could jump up. He wandered to the tv remote and clicked the Power button. At least Alfred's tv could get the BBC; he shuddered to think how dull his days would have been had he not been able to watch his telly.
The rest of the day passed in tedium; Arthur would have chewed off a paw for a chance to read something actually stimulating. The best books Alfred had to offer where either sports magazines or the collected edition of Calvin and Hobbs, and Arthur had read that six times already.
Seven o'clock finally arrived with Alfred dragging his feet in through the door just after Arthur switched off the television. "Why did I take on English Lit and Jazz history…?"
Because you couldn't get into the rock n' roll class, Arthur wished he could remind him. And don't try to tell me you don't like Jazz.
Alfred's exhausted expression quickly morphed into delight as Arthur walked over to him. The compliments were one thing, but Arthur doubted he'd ever get over seeing someone light up so much just over his existence. Arthur didn't struggle while Alfred scooped him up too fast, but instead let his body relax in Alfred's arms as the student cooed and nuzzled him.
"How was your day, sweetheart? Catch any mice?" Alfred crooned with a grin. Damn him—he knew Arthur hadn't caught a damn thing besides a cold since Alfred first took him in. "Yeah, rough day for me too. How about I stay in tonight and you can help me veg out on the couch, huh, buddy?"
Oh, Arthur was all for staying in and laying around on the couch if it was with Alfred. If only he could lie there on top of Alfred as a human though, and properly snog him, that was the only thing that Arthur could have liked better.
Alfred's grin disappeared momentarily when he flipped on the television to see it was still on the BBC. Whoops.
"How on earth-?" he began before raising his eyebrows down at Arthur. "Hey, Garfield, were you playing with the tv?"
Arthur tried to not squirm guiltily and instead butted his head under Alfred's chin, the closest he could manage to an apology.
"Aw, with loving like that, I don't think I mind if you did," he chuckled as he plopped down on the couch. The rest of night went on like that until Alfred fell asleep in the middle of some show about dinosaurs. Arthur had to jump on him twice to wake him up.
Alfred grumbled but patted his head anyway as he got up. Staring at the clock, he sighed and left Arthur to grab his book bag and slung himself at the table to do his homework. Rather than curl up in the warm spot left by Alfred's body, Arthur hopped down from the couch and walked over to Alfred's side. After a few insistent meows, Alfred put him in his lap and Arthur curled up there while the American did his homework and scratched his ears.
He had done nothing all day except watch television, hadn't done anything constructive at all in ages, and Arthur still couldn't help but think that it was still twice as enjoyable as any of the days he'd spent before six months ago. At least he had Alfred now to pet and love on him.
To love him.
Arthur shivered at the thought and bolted from Alfred's lap, despite the boy's surprised cry. There's such a thing as enjoying yourself too much, Arthur, and you're doing it. Damn it, how can you be so happy when you don't even have opposable thumbs? He went and hid beneath Alfred's bed, ignoring the man's pleas for him to return until Alfred finally gave up and went back to his homework. It was for the best, really. The way he was going, Arthur probably was going to start wishing he'd never turn back, if only to stay with Alfred.
Arthur glared at his whiskers. You're going soft, old boy. Next you're going to want to play domestic and wear fluffy aprons while cooking and cleaning.
Alfred didn't try and coax him back out again for another hour, once he'd finished his homework. Still, the former man remained under the bed until Alfred gave in and left him to take a shower. The shower thundered to life—Alfred should have gotten the thing looked at, but then Arthur would have had to hide for ages if he had, so the student kept letting it slide—and after awhile Arthur dared peek back out. No sooner had he poked his head out then did the shower shut off, so he backed up, waiting for Alfred to come out.
However, when the door swung open, Arthur scrambled to dive back deeper under the bed. Alfred had forgotten to do towels again, or at the very least wear one.
"Sylvester? Little buddy, you okay under there?" Alfred called to him, getting down on his knees to try to see him. Thank god there was so much trash beneath the boy's bed; at least Arthur could hide his face, not that Alfred would have seen a blush. Perhaps one of the few perks of being a cat, really. "Hey, hey, come on, what's wrong? Did I spook you or something?"
Please, just get dressed, he pleaded, burying his face into the backs of his paws. I might be a cat at the moment, but you're still very distracting.
Alfred sighed and got up. "Okay, you can cower under there if you want—but that's totally not cool and really ungrateful, peepers."
Like I could be cool for you. Then again, you would think turning into a cat was cool. Silly twat.
Arthur glanced out as he Alfred fell into bed, flipping off the lights before settling in. "Goodnight, buddy—and happy anniversary, I guess."
An anniversary. He could have choked on the sap if it didn't make his heart flutter.
Flicking his tail in irritation, Arthur slowly began to inch out. How completely stupid. If anyone had told him that one day he would be cowering under a bed while the stupid, sweet boy who had saved him wished him a happy anniversary, Arthur wouldn't have hesitated to call them a nutter even if they hadn't mentioned he'd be a cat. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, eh, Arthur? He could almost imagine the smug face of the fae who'd transformed him in the first place, grinning at him while he moped.
Once he crawled out, Arthur paused to look up at the side of the bed. Alfred would be up there, waiting for him. He would chuckle and pull him over to cuddle, tease him about blowing hot and cold, and then practically pass out.
And to be perfectly honest, Arthur realized with a sinking heart, that was really all he wanted to do. Except he wanted to do it as a human. He would gladly wait around all day to cuddle with Alfred anywhere the boy wanted, endure any amount of boredom, and take all the teasing Alfred could dish out, just as long as he could have done it as a human.
Crouching slightly, he launched himself onto the bed. The moment he landed, Alfred indeed chuckled and reached for him. "Hey," he murmured sleepily as he pulled Arthur to his side, "you finally give up and return, sweetheart?"
Yes, you tosser. I hope you're happy, because god knows, I actually am with you. More or less.
Alfred chuckled again and promptly fell asleep, even faster than Arthur had thought he would. He hadn't even managed to remember to close the blinds, so the moonlight danced upon his features, making them practically shine in Arthur's sight, not that he needed the extra light with his vision. Sunlight really made Alfred handsome, but the moonlight certainly didn't detract from his appeal at all.
Arthur huffed quietly. The alarm clock's display read 11:59 PM. One more minute and it really would be six months to the day that Alfred had saved him.
Thanks for everything, you wanker, he thought with a shiver. I actually am thankful, I guess. Happy anniversary.
Although he didn't have lips any more, Arthur still pressed his mouth against Alfred's lips before hopping away to bury his face against Alfred's side in embarrassment. No sooner had he curled up, Arthur found himself drifting off into the most peaceful sleep he'd had in months.
The alarm clock blared that awful, wretched noise. Arthur groaned and wished Alfred would hurry up and turn the damn thing off. He sighed in relief and curled up tighter into Alfred's side as the American finally swatted the clock with a groan of his own. Did it have to be morning already?
Ah, but today was special, wasn't it? "Our anniversary…"
Arthur froze and he felt Alfred do the same. That wasn't Alfred's voice. He opened his eyes slowly and looked down.
Fingers. He had fingers—ten of them even.
Slowly, he raised his hand up and stared it. A hand. A hand and a wrist and damned if there wasn't a whole arm there as well! Arthur couldn't help but laugh in delight as he wriggled his fingers.
Alfred's breath hitched hard enough to jolt Arthur. Without thinking, Arthur turned his head around to look up into his very own hero's face.
Who was now staring at him, white as can be except for the blush staining his cheeks, because Arthur realized suddenly that he was very naked and still spooned up against Alfred's side.
"Who the fuck are you?" Alfred spluttered.
Arthur couldn't help but stare back. Without giving it another thought, Arthur reached up and snatched the face of the man before him and pressed against his mouth the most deliriously happy, relieved, and terrified kiss he'd ever given.
This was going to be one hell of an anniversary. Hell of one to explain as well.