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A Cat For the Flat

Guest emmasi

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Topic Title: A Cat For The Flat

Topic Description: Mattie, Lucas, Robbie, Kim. Rating: T(SC)

Type of story: Longfic

Rating: T

Main Characters: Mattie, Lucas, Robbie, Kim. Rating: T(SC)

Genre: Comedy

Warnings: SC, slash...

Is Story being proof read: Yes

Summary: Mattie and Lucas bring home a cat.

A Cat for the Flat


“I want that one!” squealed Mattie, pointing to the fluffy white kitten behind the glass of the pet shop window.

“You can’t get a cat,” said Lucas.

“Why not?”

“Because we don’t need a cat.”

“So? I want it! It’s so cute!”

“You’re not the only one who’s going to have to live with it.”

“You don’t like cats?” asked Mattie, heartbroken. “You’re a cat-hater?”

“I don’t hate them,” said Lucas, “I just prefer dogs.”

“Well we can’t get a dog,” said Mattie. “There’s no room in that tiny apartment.”

“I know,” said Lucas sadly. “Maybe when we’re a bit older and we have a place of our own…”

“Robbie likes cats,” said Mattie, changing the subject back to getting her own way. “We could get it for him.”

“Yeah right,” said Lucas, “And what’s going to happen when ‘Robbie’s’ cat starts following you around everywhere and sleeping on our bed instead of his? And I’m not saying I’d let it sleep on our bed,” he added as Mattie’s eyes lit up at the thought.

“Well,” Mattie reasoned, “Animals are a good judge of personality. I won’t be able to help it if the kitten likes me better.” Lucas laughed. “What?” Mattie scolded him, “You don’t think I have a good personality?”

Lucas began to realise that he wasn’t going to win this battle.


Lucas sneaked into the apartment. He looked around to check that the coast was clear. It was. Or it had been…

“Hey Luke,” said Robbie, walking out of his bedroom.

“Oh,” Lucas stumbled, quickly closing the front door behind him. “Hey Rob.”

Robbie gave him a strange look. “Mattie with you?”

“Oh, um, yeah,” Lucas stalled. “She’s just, um…”

There was a knock at the door. Lucas was still leaning against it. He looked up at Robbie, and Robbie looked back at him.

“You gonna get that?”

Lucas hesitated.

“Luke!” Mattie called from behind the door. “Lucas, what are you doing? Let me in! She’s getting scared out here.”

“She?” Robbie asked, suspicious. Lucas shrugged as if he didn’t know (even though it was pretty obvious that he did). Robbie grimaced and stepped forward. He grabbed the door handle behind Lucas’ back. Lucas reluctantly stepped aside, and Robbie opened the door to see Mattie standing there, cradling a tiny kitty to her chest (the open carry cage lay abandoned at her feet).

“Oh Mattie you didn’t…?” asked Robbie slowly.

“I know!” said Lucas. “I tried to stop her, but-”

“It’s so cute!” Robbie reached out to take the kitten from his sister’s arms.

“I know,” grinned Mattie, handing the cat over to him. “She’s great, isn’t she?”

“Yes she is,” said Robbie in a high, cutsie voice. He brushed the kitten’s fur against his cheek. “Hello beautiful,” he greeted her.

“So…” Lucas began cautiously, “You don’t mind then?”

“Mind? I’ve wanted a cat for ages! Dad wouldn’t let me have one on the farm – said they weren’t practical. And then I was away at boarding school, and when I came back, Mum said that looking after me again was enough trouble without having another dumb animal around…” He shook his head. “Anyway, I’ve got one now and-”

Mattie cleared her throat.

“Right,” said Robbie, “You’ve got one. But it’s living in my apartment.”

“Our apartment,” Mattie corrected him.

“I own it. You just pay rent.”

“You do not own it, Tasha does! The only reason you even live here is because she felt sorry for you after she left you and let you keep it.”

“She did not leave me, she left town. Our break up was totally mutual.”

“Sure Rob, keep telling yourself that.”

“Do you want me to evict you?”

“Guys,” Lucas decided to step in, “Are we going to do something with the cat, or are you two just going to stand in the doorway and fight all day?”

Robbie and Mattie glared at each other. Robbie shrugged and carried the kitten inside, finally allowing Mattie to enter the apartment.


It had been a bit of a hassle, getting the apartment back off Robbie’s grandfather. Amanda hadn’t wanted to give it up, but when Beth had pointed out to Graham that she would never speak to him again (and meant it) if he didn’t sell the apartment back to the kids…well, Graham started to see things their way.

The sad thing was that, even though they tried, Robbie and Tash couldn’t make their marriage work anymore. They’d made such an effort to get over everything that had happened with Jonah and the Believers, but the truth was that Robbie and Tash had just grown too far apart. If they were honest, they’d both felt it long before either one of them had ever heard of the Believers.

Eventually, they decided to end it. Tasha felt that, without Robbie, there was nothing keeping her in the Bay anymore. She went to live with Dylan in the city, and left the apartment in Robbie’s care. So Mattie was right, it did still belong to Tasha, legally, but for all intents and purposes, Robbie owned it. Had done for almost two years. And when Mattie and Lucas had announced that they wanted to move in together, Beth insisted that they take the spare room in Robbie’s apartment. She had foolishly believed that having Robbie there would keep the pair in line. Did she know her son at all? He was worse than they were (maybe Beth had sent Mattie there to keep him in line too).

Not too long after Tasha’s departure, Robbie began to have feelings for Kim, and vise versa. Sure, it took some getting used to (Beth and Barry freaked when they first found out about it), but everyone was more or less cool with it now. They supposed there must have always been an attraction there, but with Tasha around to keep them from pursuing it, it had gone unnoticed. Now that wasn’t the case, and it was only a matter of time before Kim became Robbie’s permanent ‘house guest.’

“So what are you going to tell your boyfriend…” Lucas grinned as Robbie set the kitten down on the loungeroom floor, “When he finds out you’ve got a new love of your life?”

Robbie put his fingers within striking distance of the kitten’s claws and teeth. He was waving his hand around, hoping that she’d play with him, but she just looked at him, wondering what it was he expected her to do.

“Don’t worry about Kim,” Robbie finally acknowledged Lucas, “I’ll take care of it.”

“Take care of it?” asked Mattie, anxiously. “What’s to take care of? Oh God, he’s not a cat-hater is he?” She half-glared at Lucas. Lucas didn’t see why she should – he bought the cat…

“He doesn’t hate them…” said Robbie. Lucas recognised that speech. “He just doesn’t realise he’s a cat person yet.” That part was new. “Don’t worry, I’ll work on him.”

“You’ll work on him?” asked Lucas, not quite understanding how Robbie planned to do that. Robbie smirked. Lucas recognised that slightly evil look in Robbie’s eyes and quickly withdrew the question; “I don’t want to know.”

“I might,” said Kim.

Everyone turned to stare at him as he walked into the room. No one remembered hearing the front door open. But then, no one remembered closing the door to begin with.


Kim looked down at the ball of fluff on the carpet. “What is that?”

“It’s a cat,” Robbie informed him meekly. The kitten meowed under Robbie’s hand.

“Oh good,” said Kim. “Why is it here?”

“Mattie did it.”

“Lucas!” Mattie yelled at her snitch of a boyfriend.

“She made me buy it for her,” Lucas kept going. “I didn’t want it either, but then she said that Robbie wanted one as much as she did – and he does – and I wasn’t like, damn opposed to the idea…”

“Yeah, well, I am,” said Kim. “It’s not staying here. Take it back.”

“Typical,” mumbled Robbie. Apparently he thought that no one had heard him, because he seemed shocked when Kim called him on it. “Well you always think that your word is final!” Robbie defended his little outburst. “The way I see it, we’ve got two people for the cat, one against, and one who’ll do whatever his girlfriend tells him.” Mattie nodded at Lucas to confirm that. “So that means it’s three against one, Kim. You lose.”

For a moment, Kim didn’t say anything. He just tried to stare Robbie out, but Robbie was standing his ground…or at least sitting his ground, while keeping the kitten from wandering off.

“Okay,” said Kim. “Fine. Keep the cat. But don’t expect me to feed it or clean up after it or pay for the repairs to the carpet and furniture and curtains…”

“Fine,” said Robbie.

“Fine,” said Mattie.

Lucas didn’t say anything. Mattie hit him. “Oh…fine,” said Lucas.


It was a long night. Whose idea was it to put the kitten in the bathroom, where all it’s lonely meowing was magnified and reverberated ten times over? It was all any of them could hear. Robbie pretended to sleep though it, but Kim didn’t buy it. Robbie never kept that still when he was actually asleep. Kim made a point of sighing loudly every now and then, just so that Robbie was aware of his annoyance. Robbie, of course, didn’t respond…he was ‘asleep.’

Mattie on the other hand actually was asleep. Lucas didn’t know how (he was just about as crazy as Kim was). He kept checking her to see if she was faking. She wasn’t. She just had this serene smile that tugged the corner of her mouth whenever the kitten gave a particularly loud meow. She seemed comforted by the sound of her new baby filling the house with its adorably sweet voice.

Lucas couldn’t take it anymore. He got out of bed, without waking Mattie, and went into the bathroom. The kitten meowed at him loudly, and cowered beneath the sink.

“Hey,” he said gently, crouching down to her level. “What’s up?”


“You’re going to have to be quiet,” he told her. “You’re keeping everyone awake.”

Lucas sat down on the tiles. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to sleep if she kept this racket up anyway. He reached out his hand to her. The bathroom was so small that he was able to touch her back easily from where he was. She shivered under him. “It’s alright,” he said softly. She meowed, more quietly than before, and he picked her up. “Come here.” He carried her to his chest in one hand while stroking her head with the other. “There you go. You’ll like it here,” he said. “I like it here. Mattie likes it here. Robbie and Kim…” he began, but changed his mind. “Well, not so much Kim at the moment…but he’s just got to get used to the idea of having you around. And you’ve got to get used to having all of us around, okay?”

The kitten turned in Lucas’ arms. She rubbed her head against his shirt. Lucas noticed the short white hairs left clinging to the material. The kitten settled down and purred. Lucas held her, afraid to move and disturb her. But they were both tired. Eventually they, and everyone else (thankful for the lack of noise), fell asleep.



He woke up. Mattie was shaking him slightly. He was on the floor of the bathroom, half-slumped against the wall. The last time he’d woken up like this, it had been after a big night (which he only partly remembered) at Noah’s with Robbie and Kim.

“Just leave him there,” said Robbie, playing with the towel around his shoulders. “I don’t mind.” Mattie and Lucas both stared at him as he pulled back the shower curtain. Robbie stopped and looked back at them. “I’m kidding! Jeez, you two are about as much fun this morning as Kim.”

“Well excuse me if I’m not a bouncing ball of sunshine,” grumbled Kim as he passed the bathroom on his way to the kitchen. “The only way I’m going to be able to function at all today is with a dangerous intake of caffeine after that little powder-puff kept me awake all night.”

“Robbie,” said Mattie, “Were you snoring again?” Robbie narrowed his eyes.

“He’s talking about your cat.”

“Where is she?” said Lucas, looking around the floor as Mattie helped him to his feet.

“ROB!” Kim yelled. Robbie cringed, knowing that couldn’t mean anything good.

He reluctantly walked out of the bathroom and towards the kitchen. Mattie and Lucas followed him. Lucas thought he saw a hint of white paw sticking out from under the lounge as he passed it.

“Yes Kim?” said Robbie sweetly (as if that would save him). Kim didn’t answer. He just stood in the kitchen, staring at Robbie, and pointing to a spot on the linoleum. Robbie looked down at it, and noticed it wasn’t empty… “Oh…yeah,” said Robbie nervously, “I guess the cat hasn’t learned about kitty litter yet…”

Kim glanced over Robbie’s shoulder at Mattie and Lucas. He still didn’t say anything, even though they seemed terrified that he would. He looked back at Robbie, almost threateningly, but not quite, and stole the towel from Robbie’s shoulders.

“I’m having a shower,” Kim announced, leaving for the bathroom. “And that,” he pointed back into the kitchen, “Better not be there when I get out.”

Robbie, Mattie, and Lucas exchanged worried glances. Apparently getting Kim to be a cat person wasn’t going to be as simple as they’d hoped.


Two weeks, thought Kim. Two weeks of living with a damn cat. Two weeks of being woken up at 5am every morning because it wanted to be fed. Two weeks of being subjected to the sights and smells of the feline digestive system (which was not always a one-way track). Two weeks of not having anything to wear that wasn’t covered in white fur, because god knows you couldn’t sit on a chair, or lay in a bed without picking up what ever stray hairs the sweet little angel hadn’t licked up and subsequently regurgitated on the carpet…

Kim’s views on cat ownership hadn’t changed. Mattie was still hugging ‘Fluffy’ (or whatever the hell she called it – Kim hadn’t been paying attention) at every opportunity she got. And yet she had the uncanny ability to be mysteriously absent whenever the litter box needed to be emptied.

Lucas had obviously warmed to having the cat around. Mattie was almost jealous of it (both of the attention Lucas gave the cat and the attention the cat gave him in return), but mostly she was happy that he was dealing with the fact that it wasn’t a dog. Even so, Lucas and Robbie had been trying to teach the kitty to fetch, but she wasn’t really co-operating. She had the chasing part down, but instead of bringing things back, she’d just pick them up, run away with them, and tear them apart. Well, it was still fun to watch at least.

So when the cat was with Lucas, Mattie, or Robbie, everything was fine. But as soon as Kim got involved, everything was tense. He still refused to accept the animal as part of their little family. To him, it was just a nuisance.

One morning, Kim was alone in the loungeroom, attempting to watch TV. That was becoming increasingly difficult with the persistent meowing that was coming from somewhere around his ankles.

“What do you want?” said Kim gruffly. The kitten looked up at him and meowed again. “I don’t speak Cat,” he told her, unwilling to move from the lounge (and he suspected that’s what she wanted him to do, for one reason or another).


“What, are you hungry or something? Cause I’m pretty sure Robbie fed you like an hour ago…”


“God, It’s worse than a baby…Do you want me to burp you?”


Kim sighed. Why was he talking to a cat?

“She’s bored,” said Lucas, appearing in the doorway. “She wants to play.”

“So take it somewhere and play,” said Kim. “Just get it away from me.” He looked curiously at Lucas, who was leaning his head tiredly against the wall. “What are you doing home anyway? Don’t you have school?”

“Don’t feel so great,” answered Lucas, “Taking the day off. And she doesn’t want to play with me, she wants you. She likes you.”

“Yeah, well, the feeling is NOT mutual.”

The kitten jumped up onto Kim’s leg, causing Kim to jump as well. To his credit, he didn’t try to throw her off. He just watched, paralyzed with confusion, as she clawed her way up his tracksuit pants.

“What the hell…?”

The kitten hoisted herself over Kim’s knee and settled there, looking up at him.


“Told you she likes you,” Lucas smiled groggily. “See? She jumped right into your lap.”

“Hm, you should have named it Robbie.”

Lucas laughed. He dragged himself away from the wall to take a seat next to Kim. “Well she has a name. You just haven’t bothered to learn it, have you?”

“Don’t see why I should,” Kim shrugged, looking down at the cat. “I’m only going to have to forget it again once the novelty wears off and you lot take this thing down to the nearest RSPCA.”

Lucas rolled his eyes at Kim’s resistance. He reached over and took the cat from him. Kim made sure not to move while Lucas did this; he didn’t want any of those sharp little kitten claws clinging to anything they shouldn’t.

“Thanks,” said Kim awkwardly. “So…what is its name?”

“I thought you didn’t care?”

“Well I ought to know what to yell at it…”

“It’s Belle.”

“Bell? What, like on her collar?”

“Well, I think that’s why Robbie went with it,” said Lucas thoughtfully. “Easy to remember. Plus he likes that he can hear when she’s around, by her bell. But Mattie named her Belle because it means ‘beautiful’ in French. You know how she is about French things.”

“Yeah right,” said Kim. (As it turned out, he really didn’t care.) “So…” he said to Lucas, “You’re not feeling well?”

“It’s just a cold or something. I’ve had it for a few days, actually, but this morning I just woke up and felt like crap.”

“Yeah, looks like it,” said Kim.

“Thanks…” said Lucas.

“I didn’t wake you, did I? Talking to ‘Belle’?”

Lucas shrugged. “Had to wake up some time.” He kept the kitten on his side of the lounge, running his hands over her roughly, trying to distract her from Kim, who she still had her eye on. Kim stared back at her, not blinking, in an attempt to psyche her out. She wasn’t looking away (except to meow at Lucas who was, indeed, very distracting). “Might go back to bed in a little while though. Use the time off properly. I’m a bit ahead of the rest of my class anyway. I figured I could afford a day to rest up. And besides, this way I get to keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t try and sell this little girl back to the pet shop or something.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” said Kim. “Way too much effort. I’d just let her go out onto a busy street…”

“Kim…” said Lucas, disappointed in his attitude.

“I’m kidding,” Kim assured him. “No, what I’d really do, is put her in one of those postal boxes and mail her back to Siam. Do you think Robbie and Mattie would notice?”

“First of all, she’s not a Siamese cat, so that makes no sense. Second, they don’t allow you to mail live animals because it’s cruel,” he emphasized that point, “And thirdly, Siam doesn’t even exist anymore – it’s Thailand. She’d get lost in the mail.”

“Even better.”

“Yeah, well,” said Lucas seriously, “I think Robbie and Mattie might notice. And so would I.” Lucas turned Belle around to look her in the eyes. She finally paid attention to him instead of Kim.


“She’s a good cat,” said Lucas. “And she makes us all happy. You should give her a chance.”

“I am giving her a chance.”

“No you’re not. You’re bitching and moaning about every little thing she does. How’s she supposed to learn what’s right and wrong when everything you do, no matter what, tells her she’s wrong?”

Kim looked away.

“I don’t like cats, okay?”

“No, not really. I mean, I don’t think it’s a good enough excuse. I don’t love them either, as a rule, but it’s not like Belle is out there killing the wild-life. She’s an indoor cat. And as far as all the little accidents and things go, well, she’ll stop that eventually. She’s just a baby. You wouldn’t expect a human baby to be clean and quiet 24 hours a day, would you? There’s no logical reason I can find why you shouldn’t at least try to get along with her. No offense Kim, but it just seems really selfish.”

“I thought you were sick,” said Kim, “Where’d all this energy to attack me come from?”

“I didn’t meant to attack you…I just don’t understand you. This cat makes Robbie really happy,” he stroked Belle’s head. “And as Robbie’s boyfriend, shouldn’t that make you happy as well? Seeing him like that?”

Kim didn’t answer. He just stared at the TV, avoiding the issue.

“Anyway,” said Lucas. “I’m going back to bed. I’ll keep Belle in my room, if you want. Just think about what I said.”

Lucas got up off the lounge and carried Belle away. Kim kept staring at the TV. He glanced in the direction of Lucas’ bedroom as he heard the door close. What did Lucas know about it? He was just a kid. But maybe…the kid had a point.


Kim walked through the front door. Another long day at work, over. Well, almost a long day. He had meant to stay until the end of his shift, but there hadn't been much going on. He closed the Gym an hour early. Not entirely ethical, but he was the majority owner, so...

He started up the hallway to his bedroom, but stopped when he heard Robbie talking to someone.

"Stop it!," laughed Robbie. "That tickles!" Kim stopped in his tracks and listened at the door. Whatever was happening in there, Robbie didn't exactly sound like he wanted it to stop. "Come on," said Robbie, "I'm serious now. I have to get you out of here before Kim gets home. He'll kill us both if he finds you in here." Kim really didn't like the sound of that. And yes, he thought he probably would kill Robbie and whoever he was with, but first he needed to process what was happening. "Come on, get off the bed," Robbie ordered. "Off!...No, licking me isn't going to change my mind...Oh alright...I love you too..."

That did it.

Kim flung the door open. He glared angrily at Robbie, who was sitting up on the bed looking very alarmed.

"Kim! What are you doing home? I thought you were - "

"Where is he?" demanded Kim, seeing that Robbie was alone. He was also grateful to see that Robbie was dressed.

"He? What...?"

"Don't play dumb with me, I heard you talking to him!" Kim stormed over to the closet and looked inside it.

"Kim..." Robbie tried to talk to him, but Kim had dropped flat on his stomach and was now checking under the bed. Robbie rolled his eyes and pulled the quilt up so that Kim could see clearly that there was no one there. Kim looked up at him suspiciously.

He pushed himself off the floor and stood up to accuse Robbie again. "I heard you talking to someone..."

"Yeah, I was," said Robbie, almost as angry as Kim was. He reached behind his back and brought Belle out of hiding. The kitten meowed, looking up at Kim from Robbie's arms. "I know you don't like her being in our room, so I was trying to get her out before you got home."

"Oh," said Kim, embarrassed.

"Yeah, 'oh,'" said Robbie. "And don't worry," he added sarcastically, "I'm not offended that you thought I was in here with another guy or anything..."

Kim sighed and sat on the bed beside Robbie. "I'm sorry." Robbie ignored him, pretending to be more interested in patting Belle. "You can't blame me for getting jealous," Kim reasoned. "Just the thought of someone trying to steal you away from me..."

"Is that why you hate Belle so much?" asked Robbie bluntly. "Because you're jealous?"

"Rob, she's a cat. Unless you make some very wrong lifestyle choices, I think my position as your boyfriend is pretty safe."

"Then what is it?"

"Man, you're as bad as Lucas. Where's all this coming from?"

"From the fact that I have to sneak around in my own house, with my own cat, just so my own boyfriend doesn't get mad at me!"

"I told you," snapped Kim, "I just don't like cats! Can't anyone in this place accept that?"

"Okay," said Robbie, "Why don't you like them? There has to be a reason."

"It doesn't matter."

"Yes it does. If you're going to keep being a jerk, you should at least tell us why."

"So I'm a jerk now?"

"You are about Belle."

Kim really couldn’t argue with that. "Just leave it, alright?"

"Kim," Robbie could tell that something was up with him, "If there's really a problem, you know you can talk to me."

"Rob,” said Kim defensively, “The fact that I like boys doesn't make me a girl. I don't want to 'share my feelings' or whatever."

"But you admit you have feelings,” noted Robbie, curiously, “Something you're not telling me?"

Kim didn't answer. Belle was sitting in Robbie's lap, purring as he stroked her back. Robbie stared at Kim, waiting for his response. Kim felt like he was being interrogated by an evil genius.

"You wanna know what my problem is?" asked Kim gruffly.

"Yes," answered Robbie, unfased.


Kim hesitated. It wasn't fine. It wasn't fine at all. But he pushed himself, taking a deep breath, to talk to Robbie anyway.

"Rob, you're my boyfriend and I love you and I trust you," Kim rambled, "So I expect you not to tell anyone about me and my stupid emotions, got it?"

"Got it," said Robbie. (He couldn't help but smile a little at the 'I love you' part.)

"Alright...When I was a kid, my dad and I used to live next door to these people who had a cat."

"Let me guess, it bit you?" Kim didn't look very impressed about being interrupted. "Sorry," said Robbie. He went back to quietly stroking Belle.

"It was a good cat," Kim continued. "I mean, I thought it was a good cat. Leo. He was always hanging out in our yard and letting me play with him. I thought he was so cool. I wanted one of my own but Dad said they took too much looking after, and he didn't want it inside the house."

"Sounds familiar."

"Yeah, well, I was pretty happy hanging out with Leo anyway. I reckon he was over at our house more than he was at his own," Kim laughed for a second, but his mood quickly darkened. "I still wanted a cat of my own.

"This went on for a couple of years, me bugging Dad about it. He finally caved on my thirteenth birthday and got me this little black kitten. Thirteenth, black cat, he thought it was funny." Again, Kim smiled, but it didn't last long. "Anyway, I took the kitten out into the yard a couple of days later so that Leo could meet him. I left Slater - my cat - outside with Leo for a few minutes...”

“Why ‘Slater’?”

“Kelly, Christian...”


“I liked his acting...”

“Sure you did.”

“Anyway...” Kim returned to his story, “When I came back out to the yard to see how Leo and Slater were getting on...Leo was standing over Slater...and Slater wasn’t moving."

“Oh...” said Robbie.

“Yeah,” said Kim darkly, “Oh...”

Kim looked at Belle. Even though she looked the complete opposite of his ill-fated kitten, Kim couldn't help but be reminded of him. And of Leo.

"I learned the hard way that even the nicest, coolest, friendliest cat in the world will turn around and be a vicious killer if you give them the chance."

Robbie looked sadly at Belle. "You really think that's how Slater would have turned out?"

"If he'd had the chance," repeated Kim.

"Maybe Leo didn't mean to kill him," said Robbie. "Maybe he was just playing with Slater and got a bit carried away."

"Yeah right," sniffed Kim. "Leo knew what he was doing. Didn't want any competition, did he? Cats are evil, Rob. They trick you into taking care of them and getting attatched to them, and loving them, and then they just turn for no God-damn reason. You watch, Belle will be exactly the same. And when she turns around and rips your throat out some day, don't say I didn't warn you."

"If she rips my throat out, I don't think I'll be saying anything." Robbie scratched under Belle’s chin. He could feel the vibration of her purring in his fingertips.

Kim sighed.

“Rob...I know you think I’m being stupid and selfish (everyone else does), but I don’t like seeing you get sucked in like this. She’ll only hurt you.”

“I thought we established that she’s not a prospective girlfriend, Kim, she’s a cat; an animal, you know? Forgive me if I don’t think that she’s quite capable of plotting an elaborate scheme to use me until the Whiskas runs out, and then kill me for fun. And what do you mean ‘everyone else’ thinks you’re selfish. Who said that?”

“Lucas. I guess he was kind of right. I have been making things difficult for you guys.”

“Honourable as your intentions may be,” agreed Robbie. He put his hand on Kim’s shoulder to show that he was being sincere. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do Kim, but you’ve gotta understand that Belle is not Leo, okay? She’s not some perfect, Egyptian-God-like figure that we’re all going to be disappointed in when she turns out to just be a normal cat who does normal – not evil – cat things. And even if she does the cruelest thing of all and dies on us, we’re still gonna be okay, alright? You don’t have to worry about us getting hurt. YOU don’t have to worry about getting hurt.”

Kim nodded his understanding. Apart from Leo’s treachery, he supposed he had been angry at himself, too, for caring about Slater and wanting him so much, only to feel like a fool when the little cat had died and all his happiness abruptly ended. Funny, how he needed Robbie to point it out for him.

“So are you going to try and get along with Belle and treat her like part of the family?” asked Robbie. “Really try?”

Kim nodded again, feeling slightly convinced that Robbie knew what he was talking about; it was time to leave the past where it belonged and give the present a real chance.

“Good...” said Robbie happily. He hopped off the bed and took Belle to the doorway. He dropped her out in the hall, and shut the door behind her. He returned to the bed and crawled over to kiss Kim, taking Kim a little by surprise. Robbie grinned, “Because there’s nothing sexier than a man who likes animals...”


Mattie and Lucas laughed to each other as they strolled along the hall to their apartment. Their dinner at the Diner had been quite amusing, as Matilda pointed out.

“The look Colleen gave you when you knocked your milkshake over…” she snorted.

“Yeah, well,” defended Lucas, “When you said ‘How about some dessert?’ I was expecting cake or something, not…dessert.”

“Oh come on, I didn’t do anything.”

“You dropped your fork under the table,” said Lucas, “Which you were already done eating with…”

“So?” Mattie shrugged, “I’m clumsy.” Her lying eyes caught Lucas’ and she smirked.

“And then you…” He blushed. “Well you know what you did.”

“What?” asked Mattie innocently. “I was just looking for my fork…”

“Yeah? Well that wasn’t it…”

“What can I say? My hand slipped.”

Lucas grinned; Mattie was unbelievable sometimes.

“Next time your hand 'slips', can you make sure that Colleen Smart isn’t there to watch me spill my milkshake?” He paused. “That sounded wrong…”

“Yes,” Mattie agreed, stopping at the door of number 14. “But Lucas,” she took her key out, “You can’t always do the right thing your whole life – where’s the fun in-” She went to put the key in the door and saw that it was already ajar. “That’s weird…”

Mattie and Lucas stepped carefully into the apartment. Kim’s gym bag was lying in the hallway. “Kim never leaves his stuff out,” said Lucas, suspicious.

They took a quick look around. Nothing seemed to be missing, except…“You don’t think something’s happened to Robbie and Kim, do you?” Mattie worried. Lucas sort of shrugged, but was sympathetic about it. He knew how much Mattie cared about her brother, despite their constant bickering. He brushed his hand over he arm and went to Robbie and Kim’s bedroom door.

He knocked – “Hello? Guys?” – No answer.

“Oh God,” Mattie began to panic, “What if something has happened to them?”

“Mat…” he said in a reasoning tone.

“Then why was the door open!? Why is Kim’s bag out here!? You know how much he hates it when we leave our school bags in the loungeroom!”

“Calm down, okay? Maybe they just didn’t hear me.”

“Ugh,” said Robbie, opening the door, shirtless and groggy. “We hear you…We were trying to sleep, but you know, thanks for the wake-up call.” Despite her brother’s sarcasm and her hatred of him right now for scaring her like that, Mattie couldn’t help but be reminded of how grateful she was to Kim, for finally making her geeky brother get rid of that horrid green nightshirt. The trademark trackies were a much better look.

Nevertheless, she remained fiercely annoyed.

“You were asleep, and seven-thirty PM, with the front door wide open!? We thought you’d been kidnapped, you jerk!”


“Well, we didn’t think that,” Lucas corrected her. Mattie glared at him.

“No,” Robbie shook his head, “What do you mean the door was open?”

“Um,” Mattie spoke slowly and clearly so that he could understand, “The door…was open.” Robbie narrowed his eyes at her.

“Kim!” he called back into the bedroom. “Did you leave the front door open?”

“What?” Kim mumbled tiredly. “No…Oh…Wait…Yes…” Robbie rolled his eyes and hit his head against the doorframe.

“You didn’t think that someone might come in?” he asked Kim.

“I already thought someone WAS in…” Kim retorted.

Robbie shook his head; Kim was an idiot. Why the hell would he think that Robbie would cheat on him? More likely the other way round, thought Robbie, but he digressed.

“You didn’t think that Belle might get out?”

“Belle?” Kim questioned the name that he could have sworn he’d never heard before. “Oh,” he remembered, “The cat…No.”

Robbie sighed. “Why are the pretty ones always so dumb?”

“Wait a minute,” said Lucas, “You’re telling me Belle’s outside somewhere?”

“Check the flat first,” yawned Kim, getting up out of bed to stand behind Robbie. “She’s probably just under the lounge or something.” He hugged Robbie and kissed his neck.

“Sleeping, huh?” Mattie inquired. Kim smirked, looking down at Robbie’s back. Robbie made a face which suggested that Mattie should mind her own business.

“She’s not here,” announced Lucas. Mattie hadn’t even noticed that he had gone anywhere, and seemed about to challenge him when he repeated, “She’s not here– I looked in all the places she usually gets to.” He stopped and stared up at Kim. “You did this on purpose, didn’t you?”


“You let Belle out on purpose! You wanted her to get lost or – or KILLED!”

“Luke, man,” said Kim, “Calm down.”

“Let her out onto a busy street,” Lucas quoted him, “Isn’t that what you said?”

“I was joking.”

“Well it’s not funny!” Mattie piped up.

“Did you really say that?” Robbie asked him.

“Well…yeah…but it was before…” Kim didn’t want to mention the overly-sensitive talk he’d just had with Robbie, in front of Mattie and Lucas. “I didn’t mean it. I swear.”

“Bit of a coincidence that you’re the one who wants Belle out of here,” Lucas still accused him, “And YOU’RE the one who leaves the front door open for her to run away!”

“Well if she ran away,” Kim couldn’t help retaliating, “I guess that means she doesn’t want to be here, doesn’t it?” He earned a slight elbow in the ribs from Robbie.

“I’m not surprised,” mumbled Mattie. “The way you treat her…And god knows what kind of…noises you two were making to scare the poor little thing away.”

“How long ago did it happen?” asked Lucas. Robbie and Kim looked at each other, sheepishly. Lucas huffed impatiently. “The door – how long has it been open?”

“Oh,” said Robbie, “Um…” He checked his watch. Mattie sighed inwardly; same old pink-faced analogue (Kim hadn’t cured her brother of bad fashion completely). “About two and a half hours,” Robbie answered. “Maybe…”

“We’re wasting time standing here,” Lucas decided. “You guys do a search of this level – knock on doors, if you have to. She’s probably still around here somewhere but I’ll check the other floors just in case.” He glared at Kim as he left the flat, “She can’t have gotten far.”

Mattie, a bit shocked and impressed that Lucas was taking command like this, made a move to follow his orders, but stopped herself to advise Robbie and Kim: “You might want to put some clothes on before you go wandering around the building. You’re trying to find a cat, not get arrested.”

Mattie left before Robbie could say anything to her. He turned to look at Kim, who had been watching him for a few seconds now.

“Rob,” Kim said seriously, “I swear I didn’t do it on purpose.”

Robbie smiled. “I know.” He let his hand slide over Kim’s chest as he went back into the bedroom. He returned to the doorway almost instantly with a pair of shirts and handed one to Kim. “Come on. We’ve got a cat to find.”


The door opened.

“Hi,” said Robbie, “You don’t know us but we’re looking for our cat. She’s white and fluffy and about this big,” he mimed holding Belle between his hands. The man in the apartment looked at him and Kim.

“A cat?” he said unsympathetically. “Are cat’s allowed in this building?”

“Uhm...” Robbie tried to remember, “I don’t think we ever checked.”

“Look,” said Kim, “We just want to find her. Have you seen her?”

“So,” said the man, “You two boys are looking for a fluffy white cat...”

“Yeah,” said Robbie. He almost pointed out the fact that they’d said that already, but he didn’t want this guy to get offended and leave, particularly if he’d seen something.

“You wouldn’t happen to be the two boys that live in number fourteen, would you?”

“Two of the three,” said Kim. He had a sudden dislike for where this was going.

“And my sister’s there too,” added Robbie.

“Sorry,” said the man smirking, “I haven’t seen anything. Thank God,” he mumbled as he closed the door on them.

Robbie and Kim stared at the wood veneer. “That went well.”

“Maybe we should split up,” Robbie suggested. “We can cover more ground that way.”

“And run into less jerks,” Kim agreed.


Lucas had scoured all six floors of the building. Nothing. He’d been up and down every corridor – some of them twice – and still Belle had managed to elude him. What if she’d slipped past him when he wasn’t looking? He’d knocked on at least seven peoples’ doors. One guy seemed more amused at the fact that Belle was missing, rather than concerned. Lucas had almost snapped at him, but decided he didn’t have time; he had to find Belle.

A horrible thought struck him as he descended the stairs to the first floor again. What if Belle had gotten out onto the street, just like Kim wanted? God, if anything had happened to her...Lucas began planning the many vicious ways he would exact his revenge.

“Excuse me,” Lucas called to a woman who was heading out of the building. She looked like she was in a hurry, but this wouldn’t take too much of her time. “Have you seen a white cat anywhere around?”

“What? No! Get out of my way!” Lucas hadn’t realised that he’d positioned himself beteween her and the exit.

“Oh...sorry.” He stepped out of her way. “Thanks.” For nothing.

He watched the glass door close behind her. All these busy people rushing out to dinners or wherever it was they had to be. Would they notice if a tiny little cat wandered out that door with them?


Back at the apartment, Lucas had decided there was nothing else for it; he would draw up a poster of Belle and offer a cash reward for her safe return. It was times like this – well, not exactly like this – that he wished his father would give him more than fifty dollars a week to live on (not including rent). Tony had said that if his youngest son wanted any more than that, then he would just have to earn it for himself.

Right, get a job. With his HSC studies eating up all of his time and barely enough left over as it was, to prove to Mattie that he was still a fun and loving boyfriend. Great idea, Dad.

If Lucas were going to get a job, it certainly wouldn’t be as an artist. He surveyed his vague interpretation of Belle’s form and features. He felt certain that someone would probably present him with a longhaired guinea-pig and demand to be paid for it. Damn it. Why hadn’t Mattie gotten those photos developed yet?

He screwed up the piece of paper and tried again. Four legs, a head, and a tail – that wasn’t so hard was it?

He spun around hopefully in his chair as the door of the apartment opened. It was Kim. And he didn’t have Belle. Lucas glared and returned to drawing.

“Given up already, have you?” he muttered to Kim without looking back.

“I got hungry,” said Kim, walking into the kitchen and feeling very much like he shouldn’t have to explain himself to Lucas. Robbie followed him in a second later.

“Luke!” Robbie was surprised to see him sitting at the table. “We didn’t think you’d be back yet. We were just going to stop in and get something to eat – never got around to dinner earlier,” he winked at Kim. “We’re going back out to look for Belle straight after. Unless you found her already?”

“No,” said Lucas, barely looking up from his drawing. “I didn’t.” He pressed his pencil harder against the paper, feeling it scrape against the wood beneath it.

“What are you doing?” asked Robbie, leaning over him curiously. He saw the shaggy creature emerging beneath Lucas’ moving hand. “Is that a guinea-pig?”

Lucas huffed and screwed that drawing up as well. He threw it in a crumpled heap to the floor beside the other one. Robbie stood back, a little scared.

“Um...so it wasn’t a guinea-pig...?”

Lucas ignored him and got a fresh piece of paper to inevitably destroy.

“It was Belle,” he grumbled darkly. “I’m trying to draw Belle so people will know what she looks like.”

“White cat,” said Kim taking a beer from the fridge. “How hard is it?”

“I’m making up posters so that people will know we’re looking for her. Or some of us are anyway.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Kim.

“Hey, we were looking,” Robbie cut over Kim, offended.

“For Belle or at each other?”

“For you’re information, me and Kim weren’t even with each other! We only just met up on the stairs!”

“We had to split up because no-one who knew who we were would talk to us – not without making some kind of smart-arse remark, anyway. So lose the attitude, okay Luke? We got enough of it from the rest of narrow-minded bigots in this building.”

Lucas didn’t say anything. He didn’t apologise – why should he when all of this was Kim’s fault, and Robbie was taking his side? But he didn’t press the issue either, particularly since he hadn’t meant it...he didn’t think.

“How did they even know we were together?” asked Robbie, as the thought suddenly occurred to him as being strange.

“With Madge Wilkins living across the hall,” said Kim, “I bet everyone knows everything we do.” He took a large swallow of his drink.

“Scary...” thought Robbie aloud.

He looked down over Lucas’ shoulder to see what he was drawing now. This one looked more like an English sheep dog, wearing two pointed party hats over its ears. “Better,” Robbie appraised him, “But Belle’s not quite that fat around the middle. And her tail’s longer. Also...”

“Do you want to do it?” snapped Lucas. Kim shot a small smile at Robbie behind Lucas’ back and passed him a beer. Robbie took it gratefully – he was going to need it if Lucas was determined to keep acting like this.

Robbie sat down at the table and took a sheet of clean paper from the pile that Lucas had set out for himself. He took one of the pencils, which had been neatly arranged in a metal tin, and put the lead to the paper. Lucas glared, sulking in silence as Robbie produced a perfect 2D replica of their way-ward cat. Robbie took a satisfied swig from his bottle to reward himself.

“That’s...” Lucas didn’t want to praise Robbie when he was this angry, but he couldn’t deny it. “That’s really good. I didn’t know you could draw like that.”

“Yep, he’s a regular little Picasso, this one,” said Kim, proudly ruffling Robbie’s hair.

“If I drew like Picasso, the only way someone would see a cat here is if they were looking at road-kill.” He realised too late how insensitive that comment was, seeing as how Belle very well could have been... “Sorry,” he apologised to Lucas.

“He draws naked pictures of me all the time,” Kim thought to mention.

“Once,” Robbie defended himself. “And it was for a class.”

“Please,” said Kim. “I’ve seen that sketchbook you’ve got ‘hidden’ in the bottom of the closet.” He smiled to see how uncomfortable Robbie was. “Most guys buy porno mags, Rob, you just make your own. And I tell ya, it’s a good thing I’m not the jealous type” - Robbie sniffed into the beer bottle, making a little hooting sound of amused disbelief – “Or I might have to have words with Johnny Depp.”

Robbie blushed, despite his attempts to appear totally cool in the face of this shameful embarrassment. He consoled himself by concentrating on the thought that his artistic talents must be improving; at least Kim recognised who the pictures were meant to be of.

He took another sip of beer and drew attention back to the drawing at hand. “It’s not perfect,” Robbie said of the feline, “But it’s a start. That front leg’s all wrong, for one thing.” Kim and Lucas began to critically analyse the piece as well.

“Is Belle’s head that big?” asked Kim, looking a bit confused. “I don’t remember Belle’s head being that big.”

“And I think she’s got more fur than that,” offered Lucas.

“And the eyes are all wrong,” added Mattie. Lucas, Kim and Robbie nodded their agreement. Belle’s eyes’ were much wider, now that they thought about it.

But Mattie hadn’t been there at the start of this discussion.

They looked up. She was standing behind Lucas, cradling the fluffy while ball – complete with wide, bright eyes.

“Belle!” Lucas stood up and reached out to take the cat from Mattie’s arms. She grinned and handed it over to him. Belle clawed at Lucas’ neck and shoulders as he squeezed her more tightly than she was used to. “Don’t you ever do that to me again!” he demanded of the little cat. He parted the fur atop her head and kissed her, appreciative that she had come back.

Robbie smiled up at Lucas. He had a feeling that this would all work out. Kim caught his eye and smiled as well. In spite of Lucas’ recent behaviour, Kim was happy for all of them to have their cat back.


“Where did you find her?” asked Lucas, rubbing his cheek against the back of Belle’s neck. “I looked all over the building and no one had seen her or anything!” Belle purred loudly, but the squint in her eye said that she was not entirely comfortable with being handled so enthusiastically.

“Me and Rob were all over the place too,” added Kim. “How come you found her and we didn’t? We didn’t even see you out there.”

“Well I think that says a lot for your observation skills, don’t you?” Mattie turned her nose up smugly and scratched Belle behind the ear. “See, while you three were out panicking, I stayed calm and took the time to really think about where a cat might wander off to. I got inside her head.”

“That doesn’t sound comfortable for either of you,” mumbled Robbie.

“So where did this cat mind-melding take you, exactly?” asked Kim, ignoring Robbie as everyone else did.

“Across the hall.”

“What?” Lucas was so stunned that he relinquished his near-death-grip on Belle. She slipped out of his arms and hopped up onto the table, where her freedom was short-lived. Slipping on Robbie’s discarded drawing, she was unable to resist as Robbie wrangled her towards him and hugged her to his chest. She may have rolled her eyes at all this attention if she knew how to. “You’re telling me,” deduced Lucas, “That she’s been with Madge Wilkins this whole time?”

“Yep. Apparently she came scratching at Madge’s door, wanting to be fed at around six.” Mattie raised a disapproving eyebrow at Robbie and Kim. “I guess you two forgot about that?”

“We were busy,” said Robbie sheepishly. Kim grinned.

“You guys are hopeless,” said Lucas, much less sharply than he would have ten minutes ago. He reached out to pat the tip of Belle’s tail, which was flicking back and forth from beneath Robbie’s arm.

“Why didn’t Madge bring her back over here?” asked Robbie.

“I guess she didn’t want to interrupt you,” said Mattie coldly.

“Well why didn’t you bring her back?” asked Lucas. “Kim’s right, I didn’t see you out there looking either. You must have been with Madge for ages.”

“Yeah, I was. That woman could talk the ears off an elephant. Oh God, I’m starting to sound like her.” Mattie shuddered. “I’m guessing that’s why none of you bothered to check her apartment?” No answer. “But she’d looked after Belle so well – she fed her mince and everything – I thought it’d be rude if I didn’t stay and chat for a while.”

“Well the important thing is,” said Robbie, “That Belle’s home safe and we can all stop worrying about her.” He gave Belle a tight squeeze and kissed her head. Kim questioned whether this was sanitary. Belle looked up at him with wide eyes.


“I think she wants you to let go, Rob,” he interpreted. Robbie pouted and put the cat back on the table. She shook herself free of any lingering people germs and stalked over to the corner closest to Kim. She laid down in front of him, tucking her paws beneath her chest. Hopefully they would all get the hint that she did not wish to be disturbed.

“I don’t get why she likes you so much,” said Mattie. “All you ever do is abuse her.”

“I don’t abuse her,” said Kim defensively. “I just don’t obsess over her like the rest of you.” He gave her a quick scratch on the side of her neck. She squinted again. “I think she respects that.”

“How can she respect you?” asked Lucas. “She’s just a dumb cat.” Kim knew what Lucas was doing – some kind of reverse psychology.

“Yeah well, for a cat, she’s pretty cool.” Mattie and Lucas were shocked to hear him say that. Robbie, of course, knew that Kim’s position on Belle had already softened.

“Are you saying that she can stay with us, Kimmy?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Kim played along. Robbie stood up and threw himself at Kim dramatically.

“Please?” he begged.

“Hmmm…” Kim stalled.

“Pleeeeeeease?” whined Robbie, more desperately. He pressed himself closer to Kim, rubbing his head against Kim’s chest as if he himself were a cat. “Please please please please please?” Kim made a slight move to control him, laughing, but Robbie twisted feverishly in Kim’s loose arms, looking like he was on heat. It might have been sexy if it wasn’t so damn annoying. Mattie and Lucas soon realised that this charade was for their benefit, and Kim’s mind had indeed been made up long ago. They laughed too and waited for Kim’s inevitable answer.

“Okay, okay!” Kim said, finally getting Robbie to stop. “She can stay.”

“Yes,” hissed Lucas triumphantly as Mattie clapped.

“Not that you guys would have listened if I’d said no.”

“Not at all,” confirmed Mattie.

“But at least this way we’re not going to be fighting about it anymore.”

“That’s got to be a plus,” said Robbie, settling back into Kim’s embrace. Kim kissed the side of Robbie’s head. Robbie turned into it and let Kim kiss him properly.

“Guys, please,” said Mattie, “Gross.”

“You’re just jealous,” said Robbie, breaking the kiss.

“Yeah,” Mattie sarcastically agreed. She leant over and threw her arms around Lucas’ neck, “Real jealous.” She kissed him as well and Lucas kissed her back.

“Ugh,” mocked Robbie, “Gross!”

Mattie glanced down at the table, and to the little cat lying there all alone. “Hey, maybe we should get a boyfriend for Belle.”

“Or a girlfriend,” said Robbie. “Let’s not assume.”

“At least we wouldn’t have to deal with more kittens that way,” said Kim.

“Are you saying that two gay cats couldn’t have a kitten if they wanted to?” asked Robbie suddenly.

“Uh…” Kim was not expecting that.

“Because I think they could,” said Robbie, “If they were ready for it and it’s what they both really wanted.”

Kim stared at Robbie, knowing that they were no longer talking about cats.

“I think if that was the case,” he answered, “Then yeah, two gay cats could totally have a kitten together.” He smiled and kissed Robbie again.

“Just as long as the kitten doesn’t keep everyone up all night and make a mess everywhere,” interrupted Lucas. Kim checked him for spite, but there was none, just friendly irony. Apparently Lucas’ sense of humour had come back with Belle.

“Great!” Mattie cheered. “So now that everyone’s kissed and made up, we can get back to being one big happy family.”

“I didn’t see Kim and Lucas kiss,” said Robbie hopefully.

“My lips are occupied,” said Kim coolly. He employed them again on Robbie. Lucas felt he could officially forgive Kim for Belle getting out, now that Kim had saved him the awkward task of weaseling out of Robbie’s request.

“Besides which,” said Mattie, “Luke is all mine. You two can both keep your lips and anything else away from him, thanks.”

“Oh come on,” Robbie teased her, “It’s fun to share.”

“Yeah Mattie,” Kim backed him up, “Like if Lucas shared you with me, that’d be heaps of fun, wouldn’t it?” Robbie shot him a fiery glare. “I’m kidding you idiot.”

“You better be.”

They continued like this, making dumb jokes with and about each other until no one remembered that they been fighting about the cat at all. Belle stayed settled in her spot on the table, occasionally letting herself be harassed by her flat mates’ displays of affection, until they moved into the loungeroom, where she took a seat between Kim and Lucas.

When everyone went to bed, she followed Lucas and curled up on the covers at his feet. Mattie, herself curled around Lucas, watched the cat fall asleep in contentment and then she did the same. Lucas brushed her hair back gently and kissed her forehead.

It was a nice thought: ‘one big happy family.’ That’s what they were now, Belle included. And with Robbie and Kim talking about ‘kittens’ the way they were, maybe their family was going to get even bigger some day. Maybe some day he and Mattie would add to that number again. He smiled at her.

He closed his eyes and listened to Belle’s soft and distant purring. Although the sound was still relatively new, it felt like it had always been there. Lucas couldn’t imagine this place of people he loved without Belle in it.



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