>>…AND A PET CAT::
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
AN: Set sometime after Reanimation.
Fox looked up from his book, and almost laughed. "You really need to start changing at the studio."
"Oh, shut up." Falco rolled his eyes and came into the room fully, still gothed out from his most recent photo shoot. Really, it wasn't a bad outfit at all, a brand named "Slave Gear" had nabbed him almost immediately to be one of their main models. He liked their stuff, even the manacle bracelets he always got stuck in on the shoots. And hell he got to keep the clothes if they fit him well. "I actually wanted to ask a favor."
Falco leaned on the back of the couch, looking down at his commander. "I want to borrow your jeep. It'll only be for a few hours."
"Hauling more boxes?"
"Um, no, not as such… only one box, it's just really something I shouldn't carry on a motorcycle."
"Fragile. Gotcha. Sure." Fox dug into his pockets and passed over his keys. "Just return it with some gas in it."
"I'll tank it up for you." He smiled, messing up Fox's fur affectionately and starting to walk away.
"Hm?" He looked over his shoulder.
"Are you…?" Fox let the sentence die a natural death and prepared to be pummeled. The question had been there the past month, and no one else in the group would talk to him about it. He just figured it was the only real reason Falco wouldn't be smacking Leon for being so clingy.
Falco smiled a bit. "Congratulations Sherlock, you have successfully passed the test. Yes. I am."
"And you were planning on telling me when, now?"
Falco turned around and leaned one shoulder on the doorway. "I don't know. Eventually. It's not an easy subject to just bring up, you know? I mean we lift weights together and stuff, I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."
"What about everyone else?"
"Psh, think about it. Leon and I have pretty much hooked up, Wolf's bi, Peppy knows everything and then some, and I think my sister told Slippy."
"Oh. So I was the only one left."
"Right. I hope it doesn't bother you?"
"Nah, as long as you don't plan on hitting on me."
Falco grinned at him. "Sorry, you're not my type." Leaving it at that, he left the room, strolling back down the hall. Once he was in the docking bay he got into Fox's jeep, cranking the seat all the way back so he fit right as he pulled out his cell phone. It rang about nine times before the familiar voice on the other end answered.
"Hi Falco." Leon sounded harried, and a small clamor carried through the line. "I'm still on shift, what's up?"
"You'll be done in half an hour right?"
"If I have anything to say about it, I've been here ten hours already and I'd be yanking out my hair if I had any. This is good money, but whoever came up with the idea of military medics helping out with the personnel difficulties in hospitals needs to be drug out in the street and flayed repeatedly." Leon sniveled.
"Well I have an idea that'll perk you up. Meet you in the usual parking lot." Falco looked over his shoulder, smiling when he saw the mounts for the carry rig were still attached. Thank you for installing the bike-carry rig, Fox, he thought as he drove the jeep down the Great Fox's ramp and out of the space port.
The ride took most of the half hour, due to traffic, which Falco was long used to by now. Eventually he pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and parked in the visitor's lot, climbing out of the jeep and sitting on the hood, relaxing in what was left of the sunlight. Fall was slowly petering out now into what Corneria City called winter, which was mostly light snows and a lot of rain. Before being stranded, Falco would have been wearing a jacket, but now the late-fall winds didn't even feel cold. Perspective is everything he supposed.
About ten minutes after Falco arrived, Leon straggled out the hospital doors, still in pale green scrubs and with a duffel bag over his shoulder. He felt ragged, he'd pretty much hit the ground running when he'd started his shift, had barely gotten any breaks, and had nearly been guilted into working two more hours before one of the nurses had told him Falco was already waiting for him. That was enough to lift his spirits, and he grinned when he saw Falco sitting on the hood of the jeep, getting his motorcycle and wheeling it over. "Hello love. What's the occasion for the jeep?"
"Just something I said a long time ago, I'll explain." Falco hopped down and took the motorcycle, clicking the cradle down and lifting Leon's motorcycle into it with a grunt. "Something to the effect of two guys and a pet cat, if I remember right." He continued, cranking the hold straps down. The jeep didn't even shudder.
"Ok, I'm a bit confused…" Leon finally said, setting his duffel bag in the back of the jeep.
"Two guys." Falco hugged him from behind. "No pet cat. So I got reliable direction to the local humane shelter."
Leon started laughing, looking at him over his shoulder. "Are you serious?"
"Perfectly serious. Now come on, they'll be closing up in an hour or two."
Leon spent the ride in good humor, leaning over the gap in the seats and with one arm settled across one of Falco's legs. Falco held said hand when he wasn't busy shifting the jeep, smiling back at him. "This mean you're officially settled into… well, us?" Leon finally asked, looking at him carefully.
"Yeah. I think I am. I mean at this point I can't imagine life being much different then it is right now. You're as much a part of me as planes and motorcycles." Falco rubbed his hand over Leon's scalp, as if ruffling invisible hair. "And I realize that didn't come out right at all…"
"It's ok, I understand what you're getting at." Leon grinned at him.
"I told Fox."
"Oh really?" Leon gaped at him. "That's sudden."
"He asked, so I fessed up. I guess it's been pretty obvious lately, for him to take notice." Falco snorted, exiting the freeway. "I love Fox like a brother, but he's Mr. Oblivious when it comes to life. He does his job, dates his girlfriend, doesn't notice the rest of the world at all."
"Hey, it keeps him safe."
"Yeah, he's shutting out details, but he's shutting out bad stuff too." Leon shrugged. "He probably figures if it's bad enough, he'll be hired, the hell with the rest."
"I guess you're right." Falco shrugged. Leon, much like Peppy, always had a supernatural sense of what was going on.
Not long later, Falco had shut the engine off and was eyeballing the building. "Looks like an ok place. Shall we?"
"Let's." Leon took his arm. "Will this be my kitty or your kitty?"
"Yours. I already have one, her name is Katt."
Leon play-shoved him, and they strolled through the doors, him smiling at the receptionist. "Hi there."
"Hello yourself." She sat back in her chair, staring at the pair. "Looking to adopt a pet?"
"That we are." Leon leaned on the counter, tail waving. Falco stayed quiet, shoving his hands in his pockets, realizing just how mismatched of a pair they looked. He was still gothed out, and Leon was still in scrubs.
"Alright then, there'll be some paperwork to fill out in a bit, I'll show you around first." She stood, coming around the counter and gesturing them to follow through a side door. Almost immediately the noise pitched up to a din, dogs barking down the corridor and a few nearby cats meowing. "So, um, are you a doctor?"
"Oh, no, not exactly. I'm a military surgeon, on loan to a local hospital until they can hire in some more staff." Leon smiled at her, stopping by one of the holding cages.
"Looking to adopt a cat?"
"That's the current plan, our apartment doesn't allow pet dogs…"
"She blinked, looking from Leon to Falco and back again a few times."
"Before you ask, yes, we are." Falco replied in a dry voice.
She smiled at him thankfully. "Alright, well, I'll leave you guys to walk around. Just come talk to me if you have any questions."
"Fair enough." Leon smiled at watched her go, then looked at Falco. "She's nice."
"Leon, babe, you think anyone who doesn't slug you upon meeting you is nice."
"I'm allowed to be an optimist." Leon pouted, crouching down and wiggling a finger through the cage bars. The furball with whiskers inside started licking his finger. "Are you particular on a kind?"
"No, but if it's long-haired, you better brush it regularly, fair enough?"
"So, you drag me into this and push it off on me."
"Funny, but I don't hear you complaining." Falco snorted, leaning on one of the cages, then protested when the small Siamese inside grabbed onto his sleeve and refused to let go. "A little help here, please?"
Leon laughed, opening the door slightly and picking up the cat. "I think he likes you." He said cheerfully, shoving the cat toward Falco, who took it reluctantly. "We can always get two, you know, as long as they get along."
"… Why do I get the idea I'm already defeated in this conversation?" He finally asked wearily, the cat having climbed up his shirt and sat on his shoulder, licking the side of his head. "And what the hell, cat? I'm not catnip!"
"The more you hate a cat the more it likes you, it's a rule."
"Oh. Yay." Falco tried to detach the cat from his shoulder, and protested in pain when it climbed up his arm to the other shoulder. "One word, cat: declawed!"
"No. That's cruel." Leon, meanwhile, had let himself into an enclosure and was nearly buried in kittens. "You do know they take off like the entire first knuckle, right?" Leon held up one of his own hands and folded the ends of his fingers down. "Like that."
"Ow, ok, nevermind." Falco stood at the fence and watched, smiling, as Leon finally unearthed himself, holding up a snow-white ball of fuzz with bright blue eyes. "Made a decision already?"
"I think so… one thing, though…" Leon turned the kitten to look at him and snapped the fingers of his other hand behind the kitten's head in a few places, then frowned. "Yeah, I figured that, usual thing. He's deaf."
"And you're going to pick him anyway." Falco said dryly, watching Leon manage to get out of the enclosure without inadvertently taking several more kittens with him.
"Most likely." Leon held the kitten up to the Siamese on Falco's shoulder, who gave a single sniff and then seemed to shrug. "Correction: yes."
"Alright then, let's go." Falco shook his head and led the way out the swinging doors, smiling at the woman behind the counter."
"Made a decision?" She smiled back.
"Or it was made for me, you know how it is."
She started laughing, getting out paperwork.
Half an hour later, they were walking out with two cat carriers and arrangements made to get the kitten fixed later on: the Siamese that had attached himself to Falco was already fixed, oddly enough. Falco only agreed to it because the shelter made them, he knew it was for a good reason, but he was a guy, the idea of the surgery made him twinge with sympathy pain.
"What about food and litterboxes?" Leon asked, climbing back into the passenger seat.
"Picked'em up earlier, but all we have of the kitten food is what you got from the shelter. We'll have to get more tomorrow I suppose." Falco shrugged. "You ok, babe?"
"Yeah. Just surprised that you did this I guess."
Leon watched Falco grab one of the jeep's bars and swing in, landing in the seat and buckling in, turning the engine over and cranking the stereo up. "Trying to figure out why coming out of the closet to Fox would put you in such a chipper mood."
"That wasn't the cause, thanks." Falco rolled his eyes. "Besides, are you complaining about me being in a good mood?"
"Not if you calling me 'babe' is going to be the norm." Leon grinned. "This from the same man who was bitching at me to lay off the pet names."
"Hey, I was bitching about nearly everything around that time. In my own defense I think I was going through an identity crisis." He added the second part thoughtfully.
Leon laughed, reaching over and messing up his feathers, then looking at the stage makeup that had rubbed off on his hands. "You're still wearing your photo shoot makeup, just so you know. So, what are you buttering me up for? Are you buying a bigger amplifier? A Porsche?"
"Dammit, do I seem greedy?" Falco was idling at a light, so he turned and looked at Leon head on, clearly annoyed. "This is starting to sound like when I paid for the tranny job on this thing. Fox threw a fit and demanded for over a month that I tell him what I wanted, he couldn't get it through his head that I was just being nice."
Leon laughed some more, leaning against the door of the jeep and looking at him. "No, you don't seem greedy. You generally throw of the air of a badass, the 'I'll kick your ass you look at me wrong' type. Hell, you've been throwing that air since you were what, fourteen? So kittens do n't fit into that picture too well."
Falco shook off. "Sometimes it's disturbing that I've known you this long. Speaking of that, I need to ask you something."
"Shoot." Leon waited for him to get the jeep back into gear and moving with traffic, still leaning so he could stare at his boyfriend. Boyfriend, how long had he been waiting to say that, to even think that? And the strange thing was, Falco hadn't really changed at all, he wasn't so tense and bitchy all the time now, but the swagger and arrogant grin had stayed, the macho thing Falco had always had.
"Those cards of yours, had I come up in them before we got marooned?"
Leon started and stared at him, hand automatically landing over the hip pocket where the deck was tucked. His tarot deck was always with him, hell he'd had days he forgot his wallet but still somehow had his cards. Slippy had started theorizing they teleported to remain with him. "You, specifically?"
"Right. If you knew the lovers card was us, you can tell when cards mean people, right?"
"So have I come up before?"
"… Yes. You have."
"In what context?"
"Fight premonitions, mostly." Leon thought back, he did tarot constantly and all the reads over the years started to slur after a while, so he tried to pick a few out in his memory, did anything stand out? Oh, the fights did, fighting with Falco back then had always been an adrenaline rush that bordered on a junkie binge. But what about the reads? "Oh shit."
"Ok, back when we first got marooned and I cracked you upside the head, I ran the cards. You were still flat out at the time, and you came up. Knight of Wands, inverted."
"Like I know what that means." Falco blinked once at him, signaling to exit the highway toward their apartment complex.
"Well, it fits a lot of people both of us know, so that card came up a lot." Leon shifted and sat forward to lean on his knees, rubbing his eyes. "The thing is, people would ask me to run the cards, I'd get that card, assume it was someone, and then it wouldn't make any sense. So I'd scrap the setup and tell people the cards were playing around with me. It happens."
The Tower. The Lovers. Ace and Two of Cups. Strength. Wheel of Fortune.
"Did you just have an epiphany?" Falco finally asked. "Or are you wigging out on me? If the latter's the case, there's chocolate at the apartment and I can throw a backrub into the deal if you quit freaking me out."
"I'll take you up on both, but it's the first one. If I'm right about this, you've been coming up in my cards since… hell, maybe a week after I met you."
"I don't know if I'm right, and I can't do it that retroactively. Well I could try but I'd probably get the finger from my deck, so to speak." Leon flopped back in the seat and looked at him. "And IF this is the case, my tarot deck has been trying to tell me for years I love you and probably thinks I'm an idiot."
"Love you too, but ok, your card deck thinks now?"
"Don't mettle, you won't get it." Leon advised, and Falco agreed so he didn't bitch about it. "Or, ok, maybe not love, but has been pointing you out as compatible with me. And half the time, I probably got the wrong idea and twisted the meanings around. Thought someone else was going to get into a new relationship or something."
Falco rapped his fingers on the steering wheel, parking the jeep next to their two motorcycles and staring at Leon for a moment. Yeah, Leon was being serious. Falco had never believed in the occult before, and he wasn't sure if he did now, but he knew Leon's cards had some sort of power. Coincidences didn't play out that well for that long. "I don't believe in destiny or omens."
"Because that would mean I have no control over my life."
"But you're saying that what we have now may have been the plan all along, and someone conveniently forgot to tell us."
"Something like that. Maybe."
Falco looked at him some more, then burst out laughing, leaning on the steering wheel of Fox's car. Leon jumped in surprise, but didn't have long to wait before he was let in on it. "Oh, love of GOD, imagine my dad dealing with that… imagine if so-called destiny hadn't waited… 'Hi dad, this is Leon, he's an opposing gang member, but, umm… can I keep him?!'" Falco grinned at him gleefully.
"I thought you'd be pissed."
"Babe, pissed about what? Who in hell cares about the past anymore?" Falco reached over and brushed his fingers down Leon's cheek, who leaned into the touch with a smile. The cats in the back of the jeep, who were staring at them, chose that moment to start singing, the Siamese's jarring voice cutting the air and almost drowning out the kitten.
"I think we've being given a hint." Leon said dryly.
"Anything's possible." This came out grouchy, Falco taking both cat carriers and Leon slinging his duffelbag over his shoulder. "I'll finish this train of thought later. In the shower, maybe."
Leon, who was leading with his keys in hand, stopped and looked at him. Falco just lifted an eyebrow, smiling a bit. "Alone, or…?"
"Now if I told you, it wouldn't be fun, now would it?"