daisysusan: (stock: almost the winklecats)
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Title: Purr, Purr, Purr
Author: [livejournal.com profile] daisysusan  
Fandom: The Social Network
Genre: Gen, humor
Characters: Chris, Dustin, Mark, Eduardo
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1560
Summary: Dustin turns into a kitten.
Notes: (1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, [livejournal.com profile] opheliahyde! (2) Unbetaed, but many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] scorpiod1 for her help. (3) This is twice as long as I really meant for it to be. Whoops. Also, because it bears repeating, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HEATHER!

Purr, Purr, Purr

It takes Chris a moment to figure out what he's seeing. He squints drowsily across the room—why weren't 8 AM classes considered cruel and unusual punishment?— and tries to figure out if there's some reason Dustin might be up at 7:15, despite not having class until noon.

Because his bed is definitely empty. The covers are lying flat except for a few lumps, and Dustin isn't on top of them.

On a weekend, maybe, Chris wouldn't be quite as concerned, but it's Tuesday morning and he distinctly remembers Dustin crawling into bed around 1:30 last night. He'd mumbled a good-night to Chris, who was already half-asleep, and promptly curled up under the covers.

And now he's gone.

Chris hauls himself out of bed and rubs his eyes as he crosses the room to further examine Dustin's empty bed—and that's when he sees it.

Curled up again the pillow is a tiny orange kitten. It's purring softly, and is possibly the cutest thing Chris has ever seen.

Unconsciously, he reaches down to pet it.

The kitten snuffles softly and shifts minutely towards Chris’s hand, and he scratches the soft fur behind its ears. When it yawns and rolls over onto its back, he’s completely charmed. Sitting down, he rubs gently at its stomach and listens to it purr loudly.

And then he remembers two things. First, Dustin is still MIA and second, pets aren’t allowed in the dorms.

Chris picks the kitten up and curls it against his chest and, still petting it absently, walks into the common room. There, Eduardo is lying on the couch, sound asleep with a textbook on his chest. When Chris accidentally trips over someone’s shoes strewn haphazard on the floor, the kitten mewls loudly and Eduardo jerks awake.

“Huh?” he says.

“Good morning,” Chris whispers. “You fell asleep on the couch.”

“Oh,” Eduardo says, frowning. He stretches briefly and turns to look at Chris, at which point his mouth drops open and his eyes go—wider. “Are you holding a kitten?” he asks loudly.

Looking down at the fluffy ball of orange fur that’s still purring against him, Chris answers, “Well, yeah.”

How did you get a kitten?” Eduardo says, clearly completely dumbstruck.

“I don’t know,” Chris says. “He was asleep in Dustin’s bed when I woke up this morning.” He pauses for a moment, and then adds, “And Dustin wasn’t there.”

Eduardo stares at him blankly. “Do you think that Dustin turned into a cat or something?”

“What?” Chris says. And then, when that doesn’t seem to express his confusion enough, “What?”

Laughing slightly, Eduardo says, “I’m still half-asleep. I have no idea what I’m saying.”

Right then, the kitten starts squirming against Chris’s arm, claws working into his skin, and Chris drops it in surprise.

Predictably spry, the kitten lands on its feet and scampers off across the room.

“It is a cute kitten,” Eduardo says, smiling slightly.

“And cuddly, too,” Chris adds.

He clearly needs to drink a lot of coffee, because the next thought that comes through his mind is that Dustin’s hair looks a little bit like the kitten’s, and Dustin is pretty damn cuddly, and maybe Eduardo was onto something when he said that Dustin could have turned into a cat.

It is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thing Chris has ever thought.

Except that maybe it isn’t. Because if Dustin were to be a kitten, Chris’s pretty sure he’d be exactly like this one, purring every time someone touched him and flopping over to get his stomach rubbed and completely captivated by anything exciting that he could play with. (Right now, the kitten-who-definitely-cannot-be-Dustin-because-that-is-impossible is attacking a piece of paper that got left on the floor. It flutters every time he pounces on it, and he’s completely fascinated by the motion.)

But Chris actually does have an 8 AM class and he isn’t exactly dressed or fed, so he says, “Hey, Eduardo, can you watch the kitten for a couple hours while I go to class?”

Eduardo, because he is really a very nice person, answers with, “Yeah, sure, no problem,” even though it probably is a problem. Chris feels slightly guilty for that, but the illegal cat wasn’t his fault and he just wants it to be taken care of. It’s not worth beating himself up over.

Besides, when he gets back from class, he finds the kitten curled up in Eduardo’s lap in front of the econ textbook propped there, sound asleep while Eduardo pets him absently.

Shortly afterward, probably roused by the slamming of the suite door behind Chris, Mark stumbles into the common room. He flops down onto the other end of the couch and promptly does a double take on Eduardo.

“You have a cat,” he says, voice completely flat.

“Chris found him this morning,” Eduardo deflects.

“He was asleep in Dustin’s bed!” Chris protests, because Mark will probably disapprove of the cat’s presence on the grounds that it’ll disrupt his coding or something equally ridiculous.

Instead, Mark says, “Did you feed him?”

“Shit, no,” Chris says.

“Give him some of my tuna,” Mark says, surprisingly astute and thoughtful, especially considering he just woke up.

Chris does just that, smiling as the kitten curls endlessly around his ankles and clearly excited at the prospect of tuna. When he puts the bowl of drained fish on the floor, the little thing nearly squeaks in excitement, and tries to eat it so quickly he makes a huge mess of it.

Eduardo has to go to class after that, but the now-fed orange fluffball settles down next by Mark and sprawls across his laptop, nosing at the moving cursor and Mark’s flying fingers. Whenever Mark tries to edge him out of the way, he meows petulantly and goes straight back to pouncing on the keyboard.

It is, without a doubt, something purely Dustin—the silliness, the deliberate aggravation of Mark, the playfulness.

“I think Dustin may have turned into that kitten,” Chris says, the words measured.

Mark looks down at the hyperactive orange animal that’s still watching his fingers intently, and then up at Chris. “The cat definitely acts a lot like Dustin,” he says cautiously. “And no one has seen him today.”

“Yeah,” Chris says. He bites his lip, and reaches down to scratch the cat’s ears. “Maybe we should just see what happens tomorrow?”

In reply, Mark nods, and then says, “Can you at least get him off my computer? I’m trying to code.”

Chris pulls the kitten into his arms and nuzzles him a little. In response, he purrs loudly and snuggles closer. “You are just the sweetest little kitten, aren’t you?” Chris coos, though he’s slightly embarrassed when Mark looks over at him.

“Shut up, he’s adorable and you know it,” he grouses.

And Mark does know it, because he willingly watches the kitten when Chris has a couple of classes in the afternoon, and Chris gets back, clutching some extra chicken from the dining hall, to see them snuggled together and Mark speaking softly to the purring animal.

“I knew it,” he says, and Mark looks up.

“You were cooing. You have no ground to stand on.”

“Whatever,” Chris snaps, but there’s no viciousness behind it.

He spends the evening pretending to study and actually watching the kitten pounce energetically around the room, chasing after spots of light and flecks of dust. By the time he’s about to fall asleep on the couch, the kitten (whom he refuses to think of as “Dustin”) is sitting on the floor, looking drowsy.

Chris scoops him up on his way into his room, and lets him curl up against the pillow of his bed. Shortly after, he crawls into bed himself and falls asleep snuggled with the purring kitten.

The next morning, he wakes up entirely too close to the edge of his bed for his comfort. When he opens his eyes to investigate the reason, he realizes that Dustin is squished between him and the wall.

And naked.

In his hurry to get away from the mysterious naked Dustin in his bed, Chris does actually fall on the floor, but at least he’s not groping his roommate or anything.

The noise wakes Dustin up, and he squints down at his chest, poking it tentatively. “Why am I naked and in your bed?” There’s a pause, and then he says, “Did we have sex?”

Chris flushes horribly—he can feel his face turning red—and says, quickly, “No. No no no no. We definitely didn’t have sex.”

“Oh,” Dustin says, “Damn.”

“Um,” Chris begins, trying to decide how crazy Dustin will think he is, “You were kind of a kitten all day yesterday.”

Dustin’s eyes go wide, and he says, “What?”

“Yeah,” Chris says. “You were tiny and orange and fluffy and tried to chase Mark’s fingers while he was coding. It was disgustingly adorable.”

At this, Dustin grins. “I always knew I would make a cute kitten.”

Chris rolls his eyes. “You also talked a lot less. It was kind of nice.”

And then, rather unexpectedly, Dustin looks crestfallen. “Do you really like me better as a cat?”

Taking in his hurt face, and also how weird it had been to spend a whole day in the suite without Dustin's open chatter, Chris says, “Not even a little bit.”

The answering smile on Dustin’s face is painfully wide.
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April 2013

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