Warning: Mention of animal cruelty
Pairing: Established relationship- Matt/Becker.
"Becks? Becks, come here, quick!"
Becker dropped his book onto the sofa and raced into the hallway, expecting the worst. Matt had walked to the shop about an hour ago to get more milk and, when he'd taken so long to come back, Becker just assumed he'd found someone to talk to along the way. What if he hadn't? What if he'd been mugged or something and Becker had been sat there reading his damn book when he could have helped?
He paused when he saw Matt holding his bundled up coat against his chest, trying to kick his wet, muddy shoes off without dropping his coat. He didn't look hurt, Becker thought, so that was a good thing, though why his shoes and the bottom of his jeans were wet up to the knees he had no idea.
Matt saw him and held out the coat to him. "Hold this for me, would you? And be careful."
Becker took the coat and only then did he see the two tiny tabby kittens nestled inside it. They were trembling, their fur in wet spikes and, now that Becker moved the coat away from them to have a look, one let out a rather pathetic meow.
Matt hurried past and ran upstairs, returning a few moments later with a towel and a blanket.
"I took a short cut across the park," he told Becker. "And I saw this bloke get out of a car and go dump a bag into the pond. He looked dodgy so I went to see what he'd thrown."
Becker looked horrified. "These two?"
"Yes," Matt said, picking one kitten out of the coat and gently rubbing it dry with one end of the towel as Becker did the same with the other one. "The bag had already started to sink but it was snagged on a branch, leaving one end above the water. I had to wade in and drag it to shore."
Looking down at the shivering kitten in his hands, Becker was once again disgusted by some of the things human beings were capable of. It was the middle of winter, the temperature not even in double figures outside, and the heartless bastard had dumped these little things into water on top of that. If he didn't want them, couldn't he have at least taken them to a rescue centre or a vet, or even given them away.
Becker gently rubbed the kitten's fur dry with the towel before making a nest of the blanket and sitting the kitten, along with its companion, in it to get warm.
"Can you look after them for a bit?" Matt asked. "I need to make a phone call."
Becker listened as Matt called the RSPCA hotline, giving a description of the man who had abandoned the little creatures as well as what he could remember of the registration plate number and the make and model of his car. When he hung up, he looked satisfied.
"I got a pretty good look at his car," he said. It was a habit he'd grown up with, taking note of everything around him with little more than a glance. Back home it had been for survival; here it just came in handy. "We should get them checked out by a vet, make sure they're okay."
Three hours later, the kittens had been given the all clear and were well fed on a bowl of milk with some vitamins that the vet had given them in it. It had taken a while to persuade them to taste it, but once they did there had been no stopping them.
"Becks? I've been thinking…"
Becker knew exactly what was coming next, before Matt even said it. "We work crazy hours; sometimes we're out for twelve hours at a time. We wouldn't be here to look after them properly."
"We can take them to the ARC with us. I'm sure Jess wouldn't mind watching them while we were out. I can get them a little pen so they can't escape." Matt paused, stopping just short of pleading. "I've never had a pet."
As he straightened the side of the makeshift bed that the kittens were currently sleeping in, one of them looked up at him with wide eyes, shuffling closer to get his attention and resting its chin on his finger. He smiled, having to bite his tongue to stop the "Aww," that was threatening to escape his lips. They were cute little things, and Matt was right. Jess would probably love to look after them, and so would Abby or Connor. And he knew he'd feel guilty just passing them off to a rescue centre, abandoning them for the second time in their short lives.
He sighed. It looked as though they were adopting some kittens.
Two days later, Matt and Becker had been called out to an anomaly and the kittens left with Jess. They had a brand new fur lined basket, inside a wire cage that was large enough for the basket and a litter tray.
Jess stood up at the sound of Lester's voice and tried to move in front of the kitten cage while hiding the toy mouse on a string she had been teasing them with behind her back. Unfortunately, the kittens chose that particular moment to start meowing. Lester leaned around her to see inside.
"I believe I missed the memo that said we were now a full time kitten crèche." He peered into the cage, crouching in front of it. "They barely look old enough to have left their mother."
"I don't know if they are or not. Some dic- moron dumped them in the park and Matt and Becker have been looking after them. I'm just watching them for a while," she said hastily. "Matt has been keeping them in his office so they aren't in anyone's way."
Lester scratched one behind the ear as it came to the wire to see him.
"That one is Tiggy," Jess informed him. "Because he's got little tiger stripes on the back of his neck, see? The other is called Chance."
Suddenly, Lester stood, lifting up the cage by the carrying handle on the top.
"Where are you taking them?"
"They can stay in my office until Matt and Becker get back to reclaim them, which means that you can get on with your job without being distracted playing with them."
Lester carried the cage back to his office, setting it on the floor next to his desk. Inside, two little faces stared back at him.
"Don't look at me like that. She wouldn't have got any work done today with you two around."
He picked up a report from the pile and started reading but he could feel them watching him.
Nothing but those unwavering stares.
"Oh for goodness's sake," he muttered, bending down to unlatch the cage and going to close his office door. "You can come out, but if I find one puddle you'll both be staying in the menagerie tomorrow, you hear?"
Obviously the braver of the two kittens, Tiggy edged closer to the open cage door, poking his head out and looking up at Lester again as though making sure he was allowed to leave. Sitting in his chair again, Lester picked up his reports and carried on reading.
He was alerted to the fact that the kittens had decided to leave the safety of their cage by the feeling of needle-sharp claws sinking into his calf as one attempted to climb up his leg.
"Ouch! Little sod," he muttered, reaching down to unhook Tiggy's claws from his trousers and lift him up. Seeing Chance stretch out a paw toward his leg, claws extending as he tried to follow his friend, he picked that one up also and set them both on the desk.
"Now, are you going to let me get on?"
Chance sauntered across his desk top, sniffing cautiously at his stapler and his coffee mug before moving on. On his way past, he knocked over the pen pot, sending biros, pencils and paperclips skittering across the desk and onto the floor. With a happy meow, Tiggy pounced as a pencil slid past, catching it with his paws.
Lester sighed. "I guess that's a no, then."
When Becker and Matt arrived back at the ARC, Jess was nowhere to be seen, her desk empty. So was the underneath. No cage and no kittens. Matt looked around, seeing her heading toward them with a cup of tea in her hand.
"Jess, where are they?"
She pointed toward Lester's office. "I'm sorry. Lester caught me playing with them and took them. I tried to explain…"
Assuring her that it wasn't her fault, the two men hurried to Lester's office, excuses and explanations forming in Becker's mind even as he pushed open the door… and stopped short.
Lester was working quietly with the two kittens on his desk, curled up and fast asleep on top of the paperwork in his in-tray. When he heard the door open, he looked up.
"Please don't-" Chance's ears perked up at the sound of the door and he stretched, disturbing Tiggy as well. "Wake them," he finished with a sigh.
The two kittens stumbled over each other to get to Matt as he neared the desk, meows growing louder until he reached out to pet them.
"Lester, we're sorry," Becker began, but Lester stopped him.
"Jessica explained," he said. "Though I would have appreciated you speaking to me rather than sneaking them in and leaving Jess to look after them. She has a job to do, one that does not include tormenting kittens with toy mice when she should be monitoring the comms of a team out in the field."
Becker lifted up Tiggy, who was getting ready to pounce at him, and stroked a finger down the soft fur on the back of its neck. As he did so, he could feel the faint vibrations against his hand as the little creature began to purr.
"Do you intend to keep them?" Lester asked.
There was no hesitation as Matt and Becker answered together. "Yes."
"Then perhaps you should make alternative arrangements for them during work hours," he said.
Lester looked at the kitten still on the desk as it rolled onto its back and batted at the edge of Matt's jacket sleeve with its paws. They were pesky little things, constantly on the move, knocking things over and he hadn't been able to get anything from his in-tray for the past half hour, but he had enjoyed having them around. And the poor little things had been given a rough start in life…
Oh, what the hell.
"I suppose you could leave them with me when you are out in the field," he said, ignoring the amusement on Matt and Becker's faces. "Until they're old enough to stay at home, that is."
"Thank you, Lester. We'll get them out of your way for a while, let you get on with your work," Becker told him, scooping up the second kitten as Matt collected the cage.
They made their way back to Matt's office, feeling relieved at avoiding a telling off, though slightly bemused at what had just happened. Once they were in the office and the door shut, Becker sat down with the kittens in his lap, stroking them gently.
Moments later, Jess let herself into the office, closing the door firmly behind her to prevent any feline escape attempts.
"Well? Was he angry?"
Becker shook his head. "Surprisingly, no. He even offered to look after them for us."
"Thank goodness!" She smiled as she looked between the two of them, and then to the kittens in Becker's lap. "It's adorable."
"They are, aren't they?"
Jess shook her head. "No. Yes they are, but I meant you and them. Who would have thought that you two would have the whole 'two-point-four kids' thing? Well, kittens, but you know what I mean. Me, Abby and Emily were talking about it earlier; it's so cute," she told them.
When Jess had gone Becker looked at Matt in dismay. "Cute? I'm not cute."
Matt laughed, rolling his eyes. "Hate to tell you this but, when you're carrying those two little fluffballs around, you are." He took the kittens from Becker, putting them on the desk next to the saucer of milk he'd just poured them, and gave Becker a kiss.
"Don't worry, Becks, I still know you're a tough guy."