KITTEN SCRATCH FEVER

By Sarah (winks7985)

ATF Universe / Rated PG

Word Count 3516

 

 

 

“Tye!  Get out of there, now!”

 

The small calico backed down from her assault on the wastepaper basket and sat on her haunches and cocked her tiny head, a perplexed look on her face.  If Ezra didn’t know any better, he would swear she was asking Why?

 

“Go play with your toys, leave that stuff alone,” he swatted at her gently to encourage her away from the trash.  More specifically, away from the used tissues in the trash.  They were apparently the MOST exciting toy EVER.  And there was a basket full of them right there, ripe for her pickings.

 

Because Ezra was sick as a dog.

 

No, he wouldn’t die, but damn it felt like it.  He was pretty sure he knew what the plague felt like.  His nose leaked, but was stuffed at the same time.  His face felt like it was going to explode.  His body ached.  Thankfully he’d had the forethought to get the tissues with lotion in them, so the skin on his nose was faring pretty well in the irritation department.  He had spent the weekend more or less in bed, and now, bright and early Monday morning, he was getting ready for work, valiantly trying to fool himself into believing that he was fine.  DayQuil and NyQuil had been consumed all weekend to try and fight off this plague, and for the most part it had worked.  Of course right now, no dice.  Wonderful.

 

Tye had stayed by his side all weekend, her presence a welcomed comfort.  She slept right on Ezra’s chest when he slept on his back, and the small of his back when he was on his stomach.  On Sunday, she had finally discovered the tissues in the basket and had a field day with them.  There had been shredded tissue everywhere—on every piece of furniture, on the rug, and in his bed.  There was even some in the bathtub.  The odd little creature had pranced merrily and shredded to her heart’s delight as he had fitfully slept.  When he woke up he had tried to clean the mess, but the result was definitely below his usual standard.

At this point Ezra was beyond caring about his housekeeping skills, or lack thereof.

 

Maybe he’d just call a cleaning service or something.

 

*******

 

Arriving at work, Ezra plodded to his desk and put his stuff down.  He sat, resting his head on his hand, thinking about the impending explosion of his skull.  Hopefully it would at least be a good show.  Too bad no one else was in the office at this exact moment; it would be such a travesty if they missed it.  Maybe he should set up something to record it?  While he was at it, maybe he could get his Last Will and Testament recorded on the same tape…

 

He sat for what he thought was only a minute or two, but must have been more than that because next thing he knew, he felt Nathan’s hand on his cheeks and neck checking his temperature.  He lamely swatted the hands away.

 

“So you are alive then?” Nathan asked.  “I’ve been trying to get your attention for the last couple of minutes.”

 

“I’m sorry,” the southerner started, dropping his hand to the desktop and looking up at his friend, “what did you need?”

 

Nathan narrowed his eyes at the stubborn man.  “Nevermind about that.  You feeling okay?”

 

Ezra waved his hand dismissively.  “I’m fine.”

 

“Uh huh.  You don’t look ‘fine’.”

 

Being too tired to put up an adequate fight after an inadequate night of sleep, the southerner relented.  “Perhaps I have a slight case of allergies.” 

 

“Allergies my ass,” Nathan quipped, but his words were gentle.  “You, my friend, are sick.”

 

“I’m fine to work.”

 

“Hey Chris?” Jackson hollered to the open door of his boss.

 

Ezra shot him an incredulous look, one that said ‘Going for the big guns already?’  “Nathan, really…”

 

Chris came to the door of his office, a question written on his face.  “What’s up Nathan?”

 

Turning to face his boss, the ex-medic thumbed back at Ezra, “He’s sick.”

 

“I am not sick!” came the weak protest.

 

The others, who had been absent up to this point, chose this exact moment to trickle back in to the office.

 

“Ezra’s sick?” asked JD, having heard the southerner’s complaint.

 

“Good Lord, does no one listen?  I am not sick!”

 

“Maybe it’s Lupus,” remarked Josiah, a big smile on his face.

 

“It’s never LUPUS!” Nathan replied, a similarly huge smile on his face, going with the big man’s joke.

 

“Lupus?” asked Buck, confused.

 

“That episode of House was on last night,” Vin remarked as he took his seat. 

 

Buck glanced between the preacher and the medic.  He pointed back and forth between the two as he said, “You guys got some damn weird jokes between the two of you.”

 

“You should talk,” Josiah’s baritone answered him incredulously.

 

“Enough,” said Chris.  He sat on the corner of Ezra’s desk and turned serious eyes to his undercover agent. “Ezra, are you sick?”

 

“No!” His nasal voice caused his protest to sound more like a whine.

 

Chris was about to relent and allow Ezra to work even though he was obviously not feeling well.  The southerner was a big boy and could suit himself.

 

Then Ezra let fly a sneeze that must have originated from his toes.  Then another.  Then he was caught in a sneezing fit that had his eyes screwed shut and watering, and he was unable to move in his chair.

 

As soon as the fit dissipated, Chris looked into the red and bloodshot eyes and calmly said, “Go home.”  He raised a hand to stall the protest that was brewing within his stubborn agent.  “There’s nothing going on today.  Go home and rest.  I’ll come by later and check on you.”

 

“I’m not a child Chris, I can take care of myself,” Ezra petulantly answered.

 

“And I would believe that if you had made the adult decision to stay home today.  Go home, go to bed, I’ll be by later.”  With that, Chris turned and went into his office, the matter closed.

 

Nathan faced the southerner, his arms crossed over his chest.  “Do you need a ride?” he asked.

 

“I will be fine.”  He blew out his breath in a huff.  “Thank you Nathan,” he added.  He knew the medic was just looking out for his well being.

 

Nathan nodded as he went back to his own desk, a small smile playing on his lips. 

 

Ezra gathered his things and trudged towards the elevator and home.

 

*******

 

Parking his car and dragging himself up the walkway, Ezra realized that yes, he truly felt like shit.  Why did he always insist he felt well when he so obviously didn’t?  He unlocked the door and opened it, entered his home and shut and locked the door behind him robotically.  The guys had keys anyways.  He dropped his key ring on the small table in the foyer and put his briefcase on the floor as he started to loosen his tie.  He came around the corner to the rest of the living room, now bathed in the mid-day sunlight streaming through the curtains, and saw Tye sprawled out on the couch, looking at him with sleepy eyes.

 

Ezra shook his head in disbelief.  All around the tiny animal, newly shredded tissues, newspaper and magazine bits lay strewn about the living room floor and on the upholstery of the couch and chair.  Tye sat up and cocked her head quizzically, but without an ounce of remorse (as if cats EVER felt remorse).  Ezra swore she was asking What are you doing home? And then the tiny beast let out a giant yawn and stretched out her front legs in an odd type of bow.  Her back legs immediately repeated the action, then continued to stretch out behind her one at a time, relishing the feeling right down to her furry toes.  Afterwards, she jumped up on the back of the couch as Ezra approached, her bell jingling merrily, oblivious to the mess and mayhem she had caused in her Daddy’s absence. 

 

Ezra shook his head again, and reached out and petted the small cat.  Tye, in turn, purred happily.

 

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Ezra remarked as he headed for his bedroom. Tye pranced after him, trilling and meowing in delight at her unexpected mid-day companion.  The mess went unattended.

 

Damn lucky, Ezra thought.

 

*******

 

Nathan opened the door with his key and entered the darkened condo, careful to make sure no tiny ninja cat was waiting near the door to make a daring escape.  Chris followed carrying a brown paper bag, and closed the door securely behind him. 

 

Nathan fumbled for the lightswitch.  Flipping it up, he illuminated the destruction wrought by a two pound fluffball. 

 

“Damn,” he remarked quietly, chuckling lightly.

 

“What the hell happened in here?” Chris asked from behind him.

 

The medic turned and threw a disbelieving look and a smile at his leader.  “You never had an indoor cat, did you?”

 

The blond shook his head.  “Just barn cats.”

 

“They’re a different breed.  Trust me.”  Nathan took the bag from Chris and went into the kitchen.  He unpacked the contents, which consisted of orange juice, Gatorade and hot chicken soup from one of the delis in town.  He put the drinks in the fridge and left the soup on the counter, hoping to get Ezra to eat some.

Chris followed Nathan to the kitchen, stopping at the doorway.  His hands gripped the doorway on both sides and he leaned into the room as he spoke.  “So where is this thing?  I heard she scared the shit out of Buck.”

 

Nathan turned to face the other man, a question in his eyes.  “You haven’t met her yet?”

 

“Nope.  That night with Buck, she had apparently gone to bed by the time I got here.”

 

“Right, I forgot about that.”  Nathan chucked as he spoke again, “Now what Buck said at the office makes sense.”

 

Chris glared at him.

 

“Pack it up guys, call it a day,” Chris said as he walked through the bullpen, returning from his meeting.  There was still technically a half hour left in the workday.

 

No one had to tell Team 7 twice.  A free half hour was a free half hour.

 

“Chris? You still going?” Nathan asked.

 

“Yup.”

 

“Mind if I go with you?”

 

“Sure Nathan,” Chris said as he continued into his office to grab his stuff and shut down his computer. 

 

“Where you guys going?” asked JD.

 

“Check on Ezra.”

 

“He didn’t look too well this morning, did he?” asked Josiah.

 

“No, and I tried to call him at lunch time and got no answer.”

 

“Hell Nathan, he’s probably passed out sleepin,” Vin drawled as he shut down his computer and grabbed his jacket.

 

“Probably with that sweet little lady of his…” Buck added.

 

“What lady?” asked a confused JD.

 

“The same one you were so smitten with,” the mustached man replied.

 

At JD’s continued confusion, Josiah clarified for him.  “Tye, JD.”

 

“Oh! The cat.  Yeah, I knew that.”

 

“That cat had better not be contributin’ to his cold or nothin’,” Nathan said quietly.

 

“I doubt he’s allergic to her or anything like that,” Vin supplied.

 

“I know, but she likes to be up near his face while he’s sleeping.  Won’t help breathing in her fur and stuff.”

 

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Josiah said.

 

Nathan relented.  “I’m sure you’re right.”  He then went off into the kitchenette to get a bottled water from the fridge.

 

“Hey! You know what I just realized?” asked JD.  Without giving his friends a chance to answer, JD pointed to his boss’s office and said “He hasn’t met her yet!”

 

Buck looked at Vin, then over to Josiah.  They were all considering this when Chris came out of his office and shut the door behind him.  Stopping his stride as he realized he was the center of attention, he asked, “What?”

 

Nathan came out of the kitchenette, drink in hand.

 

“Well Old Dog,” Buck said seriously, “we all just realized you ain’t had a fair chance to play with Ezra’s pussy yet.”

 

Nathan spit his water out and choked as the rest of the team roared with laughter.

 

“At least you had the good grace to blush at the comment,” Nathan said through a smile.

 

“Shut up Nathan,” the blond said through a smile of his own.  “So where is this thing?”

 

“I’m surprised she isn’t out here right now.  She’s probably sleeping with him.”

 

Larabee chuckled.  “That just sounds so wrong.”  He turned and stood in the living room, looking towards the hall that led to Ezra’s bedroom, study and bathroom. 

 

A small sentinel now sat in the middle of the hallway, looking curiously at its visitor with appraising eyes.  

 

Tye.

 

Chris couldn’t help the small goofy smile pasted across his face as he turned squarely to face her.  The guys were right, she was cute.  Well, you know, for a cat and everything.

 

Tye twitched her tail.  Her green eyes, which almost matched the gambler’s, were partly closed as she stared at Chris. 

 

Chris unconsciously squinted his eyes to match hers.

 

Tye blinked slowly.

 

Chris blinked slowly.

 

Tye swished her tail.

 

Chris shifted his weight to his other leg.

 

They held each other’s gaze for another moment; just enough for Nathan to get a good look at the standoff and stifle a laugh.

 

Larabee turned to Nathan and simply asked “What?”

 

Laughing as he answered, Nathain replied, “You just busted out your hardest ‘Larabee Glare’ for a stare down with a kitten!  And you lost!”

 

“I didn’t lose.”

 

Jackson pointed to the empty hallway where Tye had been.  “She thinks you did.  You looked away first.”

 

Chris pointed at the medic.  “That was your fault.”

 

“Uh huh.”  Nathan smiled as he brushed past his boss, heading for Ezra’s room.

 

“Shut up Nathan,” Chris good-naturedly muttered from behind him.

 

They reached the southerner’s partially open bedroom door and pushed it back until it hit the wall with a soft thump.  Ezra had obviously come home and gone right to bed, leaving a trail of clothing as he went.  One shoe was off to the left, the other to the right.  His white shirt lay in a crumpled heap where he discarded it on his death march to his bed.  His slacks sat in a pants-puddle next to his bed where he had stepped out of them.

 

The man himself lay face down on his bed, half covered by his comforter, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts and his socks.  His left arm hung limply off the bed, bent at the elbow.  His head was faced towards the door, and his cheeks were squooshed in a sorry-looking sick face.  His left leg lay above the covers, bent at the knee, his sock twisted the wrong way on his exposed foot.

 

It was pitiful.

 

Tye sat proudly on the small of his back, licking her foot to clean her face while she kept an eye on these intruders.  Also on Ezra’s back was his expensive green and blue silk tie, laid claim to by the small calico who sat proudly with her foot staked on it.  Scattered on top of the comforter and on the floor nearby were about a dozen assorted cat toys—fuzzy mice, jingly balls, a small stuffed animal, a slipper… pretty much anything small enough for the kitten to pick up and carry—all nicely presented to her slumbering Daddy, who could care less.

 

“Damn, where’s a camera when you need one?” Nathan joked.

 

“Christ, he looks rough.”

 

The two men entered the room, Nathan going towards where Ezra lay and Chris picking up the strewn clothing and laying it over the nearby chair.  He kicked the shoes over in front of the closet door to prevent a tripping hazard.  Nathan laid his hand on the prone man’s head and neck, feeling for a fever.

 

“He warm?” asked Chris as he joined Jackson next to the bed.

 

“A little, but it could be from being in bed all day.  I’m not worried.”

 

Chris nodded.

 

“Ezra?” Nathan said with a gentle shake of slumbering shoulders.

 

A muffled grunt was the reply.  Tye sat unflinching on Ezra’s back.  She stared and studied the two men who now were so close to her, her grooming forgotten.

Nathan tried again.  “Ezra, turn over on your back.”

 

Another muffled grunt and Ezra started to roll over.  Tye leaned down and grabbed her new favorite toy, her Daddy’s silk tie, and barrel rolled with Ezra as he turned to his back, walking like a lumberjack rolling a log, never breaking contact.

 

Chris chuckled at Tye, and Nathan looked up at the blond questioningly.  Chris pointed at the kitten and remarked, “I’ve seen lumberjacks who can’t do a log-roll as good as she just did.” 

 

Nathan shook his head and returned his attention back to the prone gambler.  “Ezra, how you feelin?”

 

Green eyes blinked several times trying to wake up.  “Nathan?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What time is it?” the groggy voice asked.

 

“A little before six,” Chris answered, coming into Ezra’s line of sight.

 

“Jesus, I slept all day?” he asked.  His voice was raspy from sleep.  Tye walked up his chest as he spoke, picking her favorite spot right in the middle, near his neck, and curling up.  Ezra brought his hand to her and stroked her as she settled.

 

“Looks like you needed it,” Nathan commented as Ezra’s eyes drifted closed and fluttered back open.  “You feeling any better for it?”

 

Ezra settled his hand on Tye’s back.  The kitten’s eyes slowly began to close.  “I don’t know yet,” he said.

 

“We brought you some soup and juice.  You want anything right now?” Chris asked.  Tye’s eyes opened again at his voice, and she looked at him hard.  Then she lay her head down on her Daddy’s chest and sighed.  She started to purr loudly when Ezra moved his hand down her back again.

 

“Maybe just some water?” Ezra asked.

 

“I got it,” Nathan said, and grabbed the travel container from the nightstand and went to refill it with ice and water. 

 

When Nathan had left, Chris reached forward and scratched the little critter’s head.  He smiled at her again.  “So, this is the infamous Tye?”

 

Ezra opened his eyes again.  “I didn’t realize you hadn’t seen her yet.”  He moved to pick her up to ‘properly’ introduce her.

 

“Let her be Ezra.  She’s right where she wants to be.”

 

Ezra smiled and let out a sigh.

 

“If I didn’t know better,” the blond said, “I would swear she was sizing me up earlier.  Like I was being judged or something.”

 

Ezra snorted softly.  “Were you deemed worthy?”

 

“I think so.  She didn’t claw my eyes out or anything.”

 

“That’s a relief.  Because then you would need to get a seein’ eye dog, and I’m not sure she would cotton to that.”

 

“Why is everyone a smartass today?” Larabee asked through a smile.

 

“It’s a good day for it?”

 

Nathan came back in with the refilled water.  “Here you go Ezra.  You need anything else?  Cat need to be fed or anything?”

 

“Thank you, but no.  You gentlemen have done more than enough.”

 

“Ok.  If you’re sure?” Jackson asked.

 

Ezra nodded slightly.

 

“I put the soup in the fridge.  You should eat some when you feel up to it.”

 

Ezra nodded again.

 

“Call if you need anything,” Chris said as he turned to leave.

 

“Tye will take care of me,” drawled the recumbent man from the bed.

 

“Hard to get juice for you with no thumbs,” Chris said as he slowly closed the door, leaving it open a little so Tye could prowl.

 

Ezra shook his head and smiled.  He sighed and drifted off to sleep, his hand still resting on Tye’s sleek back as she lay on his chest.  He started to lightly snore.

Taking one last scan of the room, Tye closed her eyes, letting out a deep sigh herself, and drifting off to sleep on her Daddy.  With her new toy.  A new toy that just wouldn’t rip apart no matter how hard she had tried.  Maybe she would give it another go after her nap.

 

Tye purred contentedly.

 

~end~

 

 

HOME / ARCHIVE

 

Authors Appreciate Feedback. Email Sarah.

 

© Sarah Winkle 2009