So for this week’s Friday Flash Fics picture, our fearless leader Elizabeth Lister chose the image from that awesome meme making the rounds. It’s a joke, of course, that the man posted about finding a lost cat and washing it after feeding it three cans of tuna, but as Elizabeth noted, there’s a handsome wrist there, and c’mon, how could we not try to write something?
My entry once again returns to Matt and Jace from “Bound” in Not Just Another Pretty Face and Triad Blood and Triad Soul, and makes mention of Taryne, a druid you meet briefly in Triad Soul who runs an animal rescue operation.
“Jace?” Matt called. He hung his jacket on the hook by the front door. Just being in Jace’s small home relaxed him.
“In the bathroom,” Jace said. “Come on up.”
Matt smiled. Maybe there was about to be bathtub hijinks? Jace’s tub wasn’t large, but Matt would give it every attempt. He took the stairs two at a time, and pushed open the bathroom door, ready for anything.
“Don’t freak out,” Jace said.
Jace was shirtless, which Matt liked. But he was shirtless because he was apparently in the middle of washing—
“Lion?” Matt said. He pointed. “Or. Wait. Bobcat?” This wasn’t really his area of expertise. It was a wild cat, though. He lowered his hand when the… feline… looked at his hand in a decidedly grumpy way.
“Hey babe.” Jace poured some more water down the animal’s back, rinsing off some of the suds. He was working one of the big cat’s paws.
“Uh. Hon?” Matt said. “That’s… Why?” He shook his head. “What’s happening?”
“Taryne got a call about this beautiful girl here. I was closer than she was. She’s dealing with a coywolf thing, so I handled it.”
“So… This isn’t… a friend?”
“What? Oh. No. Weres don’t lose mass when we shift. She’s way too small to be a shifter.” He poured more water over the cat’s back. The cat pushed its head against Jace’s palm, and… purred.
“So, you’re giving a wild animal a bath. Do we have these here? In Ottawa, I mean.”
“No, she’s not local. And someone hurt her.”
“What?” Matt took a step forward.
The cat eyed him warily. He stopped moving, but he could see over where Jace was carefully washing the creature’s fur and there were ugly marks across her left flank.
“I can help. If you think she’d let me?”
“Hey,” Jace said. The animal made eye contact with him. “This one? This one’s a friend.”
A warm rush of something passed between his boyfriend and the wild cat. It was almost out of reach, something not-quite-magical, but other enough for it to register to his own magic.
“I didn’t know weres could do that.” Matt took a step forward. The cat looked at him, then leaned more into Jace’s strokes.
“Some of us are better with beasts than others.”
“Good to know.” He eyed the wounds. “Doesn’t look deep. Can you pour some fresh water over it?”
Jace did, and Matt let his magic loose. Water was his element, and he felt the flow touch fur and skin. He nudged it, speaking quiet, calm words of healing. Healing was more an earth magic than water, strictly speaking, but blood and water went hand in hand. All wizards learned how to do what they could. When it came to doing what could be done with water, Matthew Stirling prided himself on his reputation. Magic and water worked to heal skin and staunch the wound. Infection that had begun to take root was washed away. The animal flinched, then relaxed as Matt drove out potential rot.
Matt reached out, flicking the dirty water out from the tub to the sink with a quick nudge of magic.
A moment later the cat’s head was there, pressed against his hand.
Along his forearm, his ink bloomed from a small triangle into images of a wild cat moving through woods, a man with a crossbow and a dog and a crate, and as the vision played out on his skin, Matt took a deep breath.
“So,” Matt said, once his tattoo had collapsed back into a simple triangle. “How do we feel about men who specifically order and hunt wild cats for sport?”
Jace eyed him. “Strongly. We feel… strongly.”
“You’ll probably want to put on a shirt before we go,” Matt said. “But only if you promise to take it off again once we’re back.”