Notes: The final chapter! I may create more stories within this universe, but that's only a maybe. Suggestions quite welcome as to anything you guys would like to see.
By the time the noise and clatter subsided, Spock had resigned himself to the simple, stark facts: Jim was leaving. It was over: Spock would once more be a stray, and Jim would forget about him entirely. Maybe they even get a new cat - one with all its shots and a pedigree, instead of a mere stray.
So when Bones' hand suddenly intruded on his space and shortly found the fur on his back, he did not bother to retaliate. What would be the use? Whether he scratched the infuriating human or not, the outcome would be exactly the same.
"Oh no," he heard Bones mutter, and the hand felt around a little more, pressing against Spock's side firmly for a moment. "Oh, thank Christ for that," he muttered, and then those fingers buried themselves into the scruff of Spock's neck and he was hauled bodily out of his hiding place.
To his utmost surprise, he was only dangled in the air shortly before Bones clutched him to his chest - inexpertly, and not nearly so comfortably as Jim would carry him, but still. It was better than nothing. The man was warm, and smelled funny - not like Jim at all, but not exactly unpleasant.
"Jim! Jim, I found him!"
Spock dug his claws into the man's sleeves as he stepped down - but murred in uneasy surprise when Bones didn't drop him into the tiled floor as he'd expected. What was going on?
The kitchen door crashed open and Jim barrelled in, face streaked with tears and arms outstretched.
"Oh my God!" he choked, and suddenly Spock was away from the odd-smelling, awkward grip of Bones and cuddled securely against Jim's chest. This was a familiar place, and he relaxed into Jim's arms, sagging into his body heat and familiar smell and that strange drumming inside his chest. It would be the last time; he might as well enjoy it.
But Jim wasn't putting him down, or even carrying him anywhere - he buried his face into Spock's fur and took a deep, hitching breath. His face was uncomfortably damp, and his shaky breathing made the stability of his hold somewhat questionable - and Spock had no idea what was going on.
"Hey," Bones murmured, stepping close to Jim; his hand appeared on Jim's opposite shoulder. "Hey, it's alright. He's fine. Look at him, he's just fine."
"Mhm," Jim mumbled, still not removing his face from the back of Spock's neck. He finally shifted to kiss the top of Spock's head, and Spock was surprised when no protest came from Bones. "Oh God," Jim breathed, moving Spock in his arms to stroke one hand over his flank.
Bones stepped around Jim and pulled him close until Spock was cupped by both of their bodies. Jim's arms prevented Bones from getting too close - and after being picked up by the frustrating creature, Spock was not too impressed at having him in the same room anyway - but he could not deny that the surrounding heat was pleasant. The top of the kitchen cupboards was not a warm place.
"It's alright, darlin'. It's alright. He was just hidin'. We'll get him in the carrier and in the car, no problem. It's alright; calm down now."
Jim removed his face from Spock to plant it into Bones' shoulder. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"Nah," Bones replied, and Spock shifted unhappily when his arm brushed past Spock's face to go around Jim's back in a hug. "The damn animal's important to you. Why do you think I put up with all that damn fur everywhere?"
Jim chuckled. It sounded somewhat off, but the motion of his chest was unmistakeable, and Spock nestled further into him. If Jim was chuckling, then - for the moment - things were just fine in his world. It would not last long, but so be it.
"I'll get the last of the boxes in the car," Bones murmured, then was gone with another bang of the kitchen door. Spock stiffened in Jim's arms; this, then, was it. Jim would put him down - maybe put him out on the fire escape because he surely wouldn't just shut him into the empty apartment? - and go.
"Come on, you," Jim mumbled, his voice hoarse. "Let's you into your own box, huh?"
Spock meowed in disbelief when he was unceremoniously removed from Jim's chest and placed in a strange basket with some kind of wire door on the kitchen table. He was going to be left in a box? But...but that was just cruel! Surely Jim wasn't going to abandon him in a box! He wouldn't!
The box was jerked off the table, and Spock meowed again, distinctly unhappy this time.
"Ssh, it's okay," Jim crooned from somewhere above him. "It's okay. It's only for an hour, at the most. Promise."
It was most definitely not okay. Jim had some strange definitions of 'okay' but this didn't fit anybody's criteria. The box was swaying madly, and Spock had no idea how far off the ground he was. Peering through the mesh, he watched the emptied living room swing by, devoid of anything, and then...
And then they were going down the stairs - and outside! What was Jim doing?
"Ssh, Spock, it's alright," Jim called from wherever he'd gone - Spock couldn't smell him anymore over the city-smell of fuel and rubbish and dogs - and Spock meowed. Maybe if he protested enough, Jim would let him out.
He wasn't let out. Quite the opposite, the box was placed on the ground - Spock hissed at the unpleasant stench that rose off the hot concrete underneath his box - briefly before being lifted again, into another box. A box within a box - quite ridiculous.
The bigger box was metal, and too cold, and was vibrating unpleasantly with an alarming sound, and smelled strange - but on the plus side, Jim was in this bigger box too, arms wrapped around Spock's box and the fingers of one hand tangled in the mesh that made up the door. Spock rubbed his face against the fingers hopefully, but they wouldn't open the door.
"All set, Jim?"
"Yeah," Jim's voice was low. "He doesn't like this."
"Yeah, well, don't think I'd like being shoved in a basket either."
The vibrating rose into a shuddering, before the box jerked into motion again. Spock restrained himself from meowing again - he clearly wasn't going to be released - but pressed into the side of the box closer to Jim's body.
"He's never been in one before, I don't think," Jim said.
"What? How do you take him to the vet - carry him?"
"I don't. I haven't needed to."
"What about his shots?"
Jim's fingers pushed a little further into the box to clumsily pet Spock's face. "I...I can't really afford to. That's why I kept him indoors all the time. So...so he wouldn't catch anything."
There was a pause. Then: "Jesus, Jim. I'll make him an appointment next week. I'm not having a disease-carrying cat in my house."
"He doesn't have diseases!" Jim said hotly.
"And let's keep it like that. Bad enough there's going to be cat hair everywhere without adding hairballs and vomit to things."
"Ew," Jim said blandly, hugging the box tighter. Spock found it a poor substitute for a proper hug, and curled his tail around himself unhappily. He didn't like this - he didn't know what was going on, or where they were going, or why he'd been put in a box.
After some time - a long time, but not as long as the incident with the bathroom and the joanna - the shuddering and the horrible noise came to an end, and the metal box stilled again. Jim's fingers vanished from the mesh and the world swayed for a brief period, before they were...
They were back indoors. It was a different indoors, but it was an indoors all the same. It had different furniture, and smelled different, but Spock had seen many pictures of the indoors that belonged to other people in Jim's newspapers and magazine, and on the television. And judging by the smell, this was most definitely Bones' indoors.
He was left there for some time, able to watch Jim and Bones move Jim's boxed belongings into the indoors and begin to sort through them. For a while, he scratched at the mesh and meowed to be let out, but after repeated, useless croonings from Jim, he gave in and settled down into the uncomfortable basket bottom of the box.
They'd clearly take him to wherever he was supposed to go later.
It took a couple of hours but after finally sorting out at least which boxes were to go where, and unpacking the immediate supplies like clothes and cat food and Jim's allergy medications, the stressful part of the move was over.
Well. The stressful part had been over when Bones had yelled from the kitchen - and with that thought, Jim disentangled himself from Bones on the couch and padded across to the desk where Spock's cat basket sat, its occupant having been quiet for hours.
"Do you want me to cook, or will takeout do?" Bones called after him as he began to fumble with the latches, and a pair of sharp eyes peered at him from the shadowed depths of the basket.
"Pizza?" Jim suggested hopefully. "Are all the doors and windows shut?"
"Fine, just this once. I'll shut the kitchen window," Bones grumbled, stretching and padding through into the kitchen.
Jim turned his attention back to his cat, lifting Spock gently from the confines of the basket and settling the surprisingly heavy feline into his arms, smoothing down the dark fur absently. Spock eyed his surroundings suspiciously, but when Jim settled back onto the couch and set the cat into his lap, Spock ignored the room in favour of rubbing against Jim's hands and emitting a low purr.
"Hey," Jim said, and smiled. "Not avoiding me anymore, huh?"
Obviously, the cat didn't answer him, but the low rumble escalated when he scratched behind those pointed ears.
"Well, this is home now," Jim muttered, glancing about the living room, then back down at the black bundle of fur in his lap, which had looked up at the word 'home.' "Whaddaya think?"
Spock stared back at him, his face the picture of catlike impassiveness. Then he arched his back, stepped gracefully from Jim's thighs, and curled into a tight ball beside his hip, squeezing into the impossible space between Jim and the arm of the couch.
"Yeah," Jim said, quite seriously. "I agree."