Title: And Then There Was Quark
Author: Keira Marcos
Series: What Might Have Been
Series Order: 2.5
Banner Art: FanArts Series
Rating: PG (I have a very foul mouth)
Categories: Slash, Established Relationship, Alternate Universe, Contemporary
Summary: John comes home to an alien cat-thing invasion.
– – – –
John jiggled his keys in his pocket as he walked up the sidewalk. There was a Marine on the front porch of McKay’s house with a handful of tissue and red eyes. Sheppard suppressed a grin as he came up the stairs. “Please tell me he didn’t make you cry too, Corporal.”
The Marine sneezed loudly and took a big deep wet breath that made John grimace. “No, sir. Your… Dr. McKay found a cat on the side of the road on the way home and insisted we stop and pick it up. It’s… huge, sir. I tried to convince him that it could have diseases or maybe it isn’t even a cat but he wouldn’t listen to me.” The Marine sniffled again. “I came out here because I’m allergic. Drake is inside.”
“A cat?” John repeated. “You let him pick up a stray animal off the side of the road?”
The Marine blushed. “I tried to drive past it, sir but he threatened to maim me for life if I didn’t turn around for the animal.”
John swallowed back a laugh and shook his head. “Yeah, okay. I’ll send Drake out and you two can head back to the base.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He found McKay on the second floor in the hall bathroom. He was sitting on the floor with a lapful of wet, furious orange cat-thing. The animal was actually growling and John hadn’t thought cats even did that. His fingers clenched on his thigh and he flushed when he realized he’d actually reached for the weapon he kept holstered there off world.
Rodney looked up from his task. “He needed a bath. He’s not happy with me right now but he’ll get over it.”
John leaned on the doorframe. “That’s… what the hell is that?”
“A cat,” Rodney said with a sincere frown. “You’re the fourth person to ask me that.”
“Yeah, I made the Marines take me to that pet store downtown that has the twenty-four emergency vet. I don’t have a regular vet here because I haven’t had a cat in years. She says he’s healthy but he’s probably been on his own for a few weeks. I had him chipped and got a referral for a regular vet.” Rodney patted the cat’s gianormous head gently before he started briskly drying him with the towel.
John huffed a little. “You got his shots right?”
“Yeah, just to be safe. I figure that someone bought him for their kid for Christmas and didn’t realize what his breed was.” The cat rolled over in Rodney’s lap when prodded and allowed his belly to be dried. “He’s still a baby. Maybe not even six months old.”
John’s eyes widened in shock. “McKay, that thing has to weigh fifteen pounds.”
“Sixteen pounds, four ounces,” Rodney corrected as he reached into a basket John hadn’t even noticed until that moment and pulled out a comb. “Main Coone cats have been known to grow as large as thirty-five pounds but that’s pretty rare. I think he’ll be close to breed standard by the time he’s five years old. Which is about twenty-five pounds and sixteen inches tall.”
John frowned. “What if he belongs to someone? You shouldn’t get attached.”
Rodney offered him a mild glare. “He does belong to someone. Me. Who ever had him before left him to fend for himself in the winter in Colorado for weeks so they’d better hope I never find out who they are.” He plucked a leather collar out of the basket and fastened it around the cat’s neck with another glare in John’s direction. “His name is Quark.”
John figured that worked because the cat definitely looked like an alien who might attend bar and rob you blind if you turned your back on him. “Okay. Quark it is.” The cat looked at him from his place in Rodney’s lap and leaned his big body back against his owner. He glared at John and Sheppard glared back at him. “Did you set up his litter box?”
“Yes, he’s all squared away.” Rodney sat the cat down in front of him on the rug and dropped the comb in the basket. “Did you have a good day?”
“Better than expected,” John admitted and offered him a hand.
Rodney accepted the offer and gratefully pulled himself up off the floor. “I should’ve made the vet bathe him. I just figured he would be more comfortable with me. He didn’t like her much.”
John urged McKay close him and kissed his mouth. “Was she mean?”
“She suggested that I drop him off at the Humane Society,” Rodney admitted and leaned in for another kiss. “Right in front of him.” He looped his arms around John’s neck. “Sorry I didn’t wait until you were done to leave today—I just had to get out of that place. Those people were driving me fucking insane.”
John grinned. “I heard you sent six people home in tears in an hour. Radek said it was a record for you.” He let one hand drift to rest on Rodney’s hip and sighed. “What do you want for dinner?”
“I bought some food for Quark but I want to order some good stuff from this online place. I didn’t like the selection at the pet store and your Marines were giving me a hard time about my impromptu shopping trip being a security risk. They’re a genuine pain in the ass.” Rodney leaned on John with a frown. “Can’t I get rid of them or something?”
“You got kidnapped and thrown in a hole,” John reminded with a frown. “So, no, you can’t get rid of them. In fact, I wanted to talk to you about the trip to Chicago.” He sighed when Rodney stepped back. “Don’t be that way. You know you can’t travel without security.”
“So, I have to travel with strangers instead? That sucks, John.”
“You know Jimmy Martinson.” John followed him when Rodney slid completely out of the bedroom and walked down the hall. “And… well… you know that kid that tried to hit you? Ian Wilkes?”
Rodney stopped, turned, and quirked one eyebrow at him. “It would be difficult to forget someone that pretty that wanted to knock my head off.”
John laughed. “Well, he volunteered today for the Chicago trip.”
“Huh.” Rodney plucked Quark up off the floor as they reached the stairs. “Is my big baby hungry?” He rubbed the cat’s head as he walked down the stairs. “I bet you are.”
John frowned after the two of them for a few seconds before he followed. “That thing isn’t sleeping with us, McKay.”
“Of course he isn’t,” Rodney agreed as they entered the kitchen. “You might roll over in your sleep and hurt him.”
John watched flabbergasted and a little jealous as Rodney puttered around the kitchen all in an effort to feed the newest member of his household. The cat got a can of tuna with a little dry food mixed in. There was already a little water fountain bowl bustling in the corner. He felt really unnecessary and if he were honest he’d sort of gotten used to being the center of Rodney’s attention when they were at home.
Rodney sat cat, bowl down by the water fountain, and turned to look at John. “I ordered us some pizza. After the shopping and stuff—I just didn’t feel like pulling anything out to cook.”
“That’s cool.” John rubbed the back of his head. “We could’ve gone out.”
“No,” Rodney glanced at Quark. “I’d rather not leave him alone so soon. I figured I’d work from home tomorrow and Teyla is going to come by the afternoon to go over the books for the bar.” He traced a pattern on the counter. “I’m thinking about giving her the bar after her baby is born. What do you think?”
“I think she’d probably like to buy it but she’d try to refuse if you just try to give it to her.”
“Oh,” Rodney started with a wave of his hand. “I have no intention of asking her in advance. I’m just going to give it to her.”
John snorted. “Warn me in advance and I’ll double your security for that conversation.”
Rodney grinned and walked toward him. “The cat is freaking you out, right?”
“I’m sort of a dog person,” John admitted roughly. “But if you’re obviously already very attached to him and I’m not allergic or anything.”
Rodney grinned and leaned in to kiss him. “Good because I should’ve asked because that would’ve sucked.” He brushed their mouths together and moved closer for another kiss. “Pizza will be here soon. Why don’t we take it upstairs and watch some TV in bed?”
“Sounds good,” John agreed and pulled him close. “And then we can take off all of our clothes and scare the cat.”
Rodney laughed and they both turned to look at Quark who was standing by his bowl starring at them with dark, serious eyes. His whiskers twitching a little in left over ire from his bath. “Something tells me that might take some work on our parts.”
John just laughed and went to answer the door. “You need a new door bell.”
“No, I don’t.”
“It barely dings,” John complained as he approached the front door.
“Because I fixed it when I moved in. Would you believe the people before me had that damn thing playing the fight song for the Denver Broncos?”
“Actually, I totally would.” John shrugged. “White house, navy blue shutters, and a big cast iron horse on top of the mail box?”
Rodney glared. “I was going to take it down until I realized I was using that damn horse as a geographic marker. I’d probably miss my own drive way every single time I came home if I took the fucker down at this date.” He snapped his fingers suddenly. “Wait, is that why all of the flowers in the flower beds are orange?”
John just snickered as he accepted the pizza and passed the delivery guy some money. “They’re all orange?”
“Yeah, I called a landscaper last year about digging the whole mess up and doing something different and he told it would be sacrilegious and refused to touch a single one. I never got around to calling another one.” Rodney frowned at him. “That’s just sick.”
John grinned and shrugged. “So says the man who just adopted a fat orange cat.”
“That’s just not funny,” Rodney hissed and glanced towards the kitchen. “And don’t talk about his weight like that you’ll give him a complex.” He took the pizza. “Get us some beer.”
John watched Rodney stomp up the stairs with a grin. “Hey McKay!”
“What?” Rodney demanded from the top of the stairs.
John looked him over with an unrepentant grin. “I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the universe. You know that, right?”
McKay’s gaze narrowed even as he blushed. “Of course you wouldn’t.”
John shook his head and went into the kitchen for beer and napkins. The cat was batting at his water fountain intently when he entered. He retrieved the beer, opened both bottles with an opener from a hook on the frig and grabbed a fist full of napkins. “You know, he has a habit of picking up strays and keeping them.” John leaned on the counter. “He picked me up first so, ya know, I can understand how you might think you’re a pretty lucky bastard right now.”
Quark stopped batting at his water and turned his head slightly to look at John.
“Just don’t get out and run away or anything. It would hurt his feelings and he’d probably make me send out the Marines to find you. You don’t want those big guys running you to ground in the woods. It wouldn’t be pretty.” John inclined his head. “Come on then. He won’t be able to enjoy his food if he was worried about what you’re doing down here.”
The cat gamely trotted through the open the kitchen door ahead of John.