Tim slept like the dead that night, with a large furry calico lump curled up by his feet unmoving. He woke up to his alarm the next morning, fumbling groggily to shut it off as he sat up reluctantly and yawned. He blinked sleep crusts from his eyes as he peered down at the still slumbering Abbott.
“Thank God for sedatives,” Tim mumbled as he pushed his way out of bed and staggered off to the bathroom to start his morning ‘wake up’ ablutions.
He took a shower and got dressed before going into the kitchen to make some breakfast. Abbott was still sleeping, but Dr. Freemont had warned him that the sedatives could last for up to twelve hours. The cat was breathing easily and occasionally making little mewling noises, which was normal for him. So Tim left him to sleep off the sedatives, stopping only briefly to pet the luxurious calico coat before he went out the door to work.
He called the clinic at noon, to check whether Dr. Freemont would let Cos come home today. He didn’t want to waste his time driving over there if the vet wanted the cat to stay there for another day. But to his relief, Judy told him that Costello’s incision was healing cleanly, and that he’d be able to pick up his cat when he got off of work. Tim thanked her fervently, glad that he wouldn’t have to drug Abbott again tonight.
He’d left the cat carrier in the backseat of his car, so he went straight to the veterinary clinic as soon as he got off work. Judy smiled at him when he walked in. “Hi, Tim. You ready to take Costello home?”
“Yeah,” he replied, meaning it.
She nodded at the cat carrier he was holding in his hand. “Go into the back, Dr. Freemont’s back there. He’ll help you get Cos into the carrier.”
“Okay,” he walked past her and down the hallway to the recovery room, pushing the door open. He saw Adrian Freemont bending over a cage, talking to the animal inside as he manipulated the little dog’s front paw.
“Much better,” the vet was saying. “You’re just lucky that you didn’t break it, little fellah.”
Tim’s lips twitched. It looked like Adrian was taking to being a small animal vet rather than working with equines. “Good afternoon, Dr. Freemont,” he said aloud, to get his attention.
Adrian let go of the dog’s paw and straightened up. “Hello, Mr. Leilly,” he remarked as he walked toward Tim. “Costello is ready to go.”
“Great.” Tim replied happily. “I brought the cat carrier.”
“Okay. You’ll have to pick him up. I don’t want him to struggle, because he could pull his stitches out. And he still doesn’t like me,” he added dryly.
Tim fought back a laugh. “Cos only likes a few people,” he said apologetically.
“Well, all the memories he has of me are of pain, so I’m not surprised that he hates me,” Adrian remarked as he led the way to the cage where Costello was sitting, the cat meowing loudly at the sight of his owner.
“Cos. Are you ready to go home? Abbott’s missed you so much,” Tim cooed to the black cat.
Costello meowed again, demandingly, and pawed at the cage. ‘Come on, Dad, let me out of here!’ he seemed to be saying silently. Adrian reached out and unlatched the cage, swinging the door open. “Be careful and pick him up just behind his front legs; try not to touch the bandage,” he told Tim.
Tim nodded and very carefully reached in to scoop Costello up, lifting him out of the cage and sticking him in the carrier. The black cat put his ears back and hissed angrily; he hated the carrier. But he was still too weak to fight Tim, and only gave his owner a black stare that promised him retribution later on.
“Come into the surgery and I’ll give you his medication, some cream to rub on the incision so that it won’t get infected, and bandages so you can change them twice a day until you bring him in to have the stitches removed,” Adrian told Tim.
He went with the vet to collect the bottles of medication, including an antibiotic, the tube of cream, and a box of bandage pads. Adrian put them all in a bag for him. “Thank you so much, Dr. Freemont,” Tim said fervently as he hung the bag over his arm and picked up the cat carrier again. “I don’t know what I would have done if Cos had died.”
“You’re welcome, but I was only doing my job,” the vet pointed out. He hesitated, then added: “Why don’t you call me Adrian? I was thinking that we could go out to dinner tomorrow night, since it’s Saturday. We both have the day off, don’t we?”
Tim nodded. “We could go out to dinner,” he conceded. “But…”
“No sex afterward, I remember,” the vet said.
“Right. We’re not dating,” Tim said firmly. “Where did you want to go?”
“Well, you know this part of the city better than I do. Is there anywhere that you like to go?” Adrian asked him.
“There’s this little Italian place called Modreno’s about six blocks from here,” Tim told him. “The food is great, and their prices are reasonable. I go there like once a month to eat. What do you think?”
“Sounds good. Do you want me to come and pick you up?”
Tim shook his head. “I’ll give you the address,” he said, pulling his phone out. “And you can meet me there at seven.”
When Adrian gave him a rather cynical look, he shrugged and turned the screen of the phone so that the vet could write down the address of the restaurant. “Not dating,” Tim repeated patiently.
“I get it,” Adrian said dryly as he wrote down the address. “I’ll see you there tomorrow night. And thanks for agreeing to hang out with me, Tim.”
He laughed rather dryly himself as he picked up the cat carrier and prepared to leave the clinic. “Well, it’s not like I’ve got anything else to do on a Saturday night,” he remarked as he swept out of the surgery. “And yes, I know how pathetic that is.”
He arrived home and hurried up the walk toward his apartment, the carrier in his arms. He couldn’t wait for Abbott and Costello to be reunited. “If the apartment manager won’t fix that window, I’m nailing it shut,” he told his pet sternly. “No more Houdini acts for you, Mister.”
Costello just gave him a dirty look, which Tim ignored. He opened the door of his apartment one-handed, and heard a loud yowl from within. Abbott had definitely recovered from the sedatives. Tim set the carrier down on the floor, opening the little door. Costello tottered out, only to be overwhelmed by a calico whirlwind. Abbott squeaked happily as he rubbed his head so vigorously against Costello’s that the black cat swayed like a tree in a high wind. Tim would have tried to separate them before Abbott knocked his friend to the ground, but the calico finally stopped rubbing and began to lick Costello’s ear instead. He purred the entire time, clearly delighted to have his best friend back.
Tim stood there smiling as his cats had their reunion. Costello didn’t try to fight Abbott’s overly affectionate greeting, being too weak to bother. He just looked disgruntled but accepting as Abbott licked his ears and his head. Finally Abbott was done, and Costello made his slow and careful way into the living room. Abbott walked beside him, looking a little puzzled. He probably wondered why his friend was moving so slowly. Costello reached his favorite perch, a large footrest where he liked to curl up every evening. He stopped and looked up at the footrest, but it was clear he didn’t have the strength to jump up on it, and any movements that energetic would hurt like the dickens anyway.
Abbott meowed in confusion as Costello just stood there. Tim hurried away to fetch the soft lamb’s wool pad at the bottom of a large cat basket that Abbott liked to sleep in sometimes. He carried it into the living room and laid it on the floor right next to the footrest, then stepped away.
Costello looked from the footrest to the pad, but finally came to a decision. He tottered over to the pad and eased his body down on it, rolling so that his belly was not touching it. Abbott walked around behind him and flopped down on the pad as well, and began to lick the back of Costello’s head. The black cat half-closed his eyes and looked content, and Abbott’s loud purring filled the room.
Tim smiled. It was such a cute picture, the two animals sharing the soft pad together. He decided to bring their dinner out here so that they could eat it without Costello having to move, and he also decided to bring the cat litter box into the living room as well so the black cat wouldn’t have to move much if he didn’t want to. He bustled around getting these tasks done, including crushing up the pills that Costello needed to take and cunningly mixing them in with a high-end(and expensive) cat food, a rich beef stew with gravy that the black cat adored. He always ate it fast enough that he couldn’t taste the slight bitterness of the pills, one of the ways that Tim managed to get medication into him when he needed it. Abbott got his favorite of the cat food as well, chicken in a creamy sauce. Tim didn’t want him to feel left out, even though he didn’t have any pills to take.
He carried the bowl of beef stew over to Costello and set it down right in front of him. The black cat’s nostrils twitched, and his head lifted. He thrust his muzzled out and sniffed at the food, but almost immediately began to eat it. Tim set Abbott’s food in front of him as well, and the calico greedily devoured it. He ate so fast it was a wonder he didn’t give himself kitty indigestion. Tim had tried to curb his voracious eating habits, but had finally given up. Abbott was astoundingly healthy despite being overweight, and he hated any kind of diet food and wouldn’t touch it. Dr. Freemont had finally thrown up his hands in defeat and had said that since Abbott was so healthy, he supposed that it was okay that the cat was so big.
Tim ate his own dinner sitting in the living room, just watching his pets. He was so glad that Costello was home, and that he was going to be okay…Both cats finished their dinner, and Costello almost immediately went to sleep. Abbott lazily groomed him for awhile after he’d fallen asleep, looking perfectly content to have Costello home.
After he’d eaten, Tim settled into his favorite armchair and turned on the TV. This was a normal evening for him, much to his chagrin. When was the last time that he’d been on a date? It was truly pathetic that hanging out with his veterinarian was the closest thing he’d had to one in…what…about three months or so? Geez! He was only thirty! Why was he hanging out at home like he was a sixty-year-old man, not one half that age? He adored his cats, but it wasn’t like he could date THEM. Nor could they give him certain things that he needed, like sex or good conversation. He really had to find a human companion soon. Before he turned into that weird cat person who was a total hermit and had dozens of cats in lieu of human relationships. He really didn’t want to become that kind of person. He really didn’t.
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