Length: 616 words
Notes: For glorybox, seeing as she requested Herbert/Dan, though I doubt this is what she had in mind. Dear god, humor. But it was the only idea making itself known, sooooooo... And, yes, this was supposed to be 100-500 words. It's... not. It just kept going. Is that a bad thing?
Three Days Late
“Daniel…?” There was a clumsy tug down by his ankles and suddenly the world seemed much, much colder. “Daniel, are you awake?”
“Wstfgl,” Dan Cain murmured into his pillow as he made a blind grab for the covers. After a brief moment of failure, he flopped heavily onto his side. “Go away, West.” He thought for a moment, then added, “And give me my blanket back.”
There was a pause and then a soft thump of thick wool landing on the mattress; Dan snuggled happily, recreating the cocoon that had been so rudely disturbed. “… Daniel…”
“No, Herbert, no. Shhhh.” Eyes still closed, he brought the blanket up over his head.
“But you were doing so well! And now this is the part where you leave my room and don’t come back until it’s no longer morning.” He paused to fluff his pillow into a more appeasing shape. “In case you needed a hint.”
“Daniel…” Herbert’s voice trembled slightly as he stopped to take a deep breath; Dan groaned inwardly. “I am well aware, of course, that I am three days late, because, as you know, the date today is December 28th, and it is—” The steady drone of his voice broke momentarily as he checked his watch. “—10:37 am. …”
“On one of the few days I have left to sleep in…”
“And, of course, Christmas Day was the 25th… then again, we had elected not to exchange presents due to monetary concerns and the sentiment you expressed about not being able to find anything suitable to purchase for me…”
“Look, whatever it is that’s bothering you, can’t it wait until…” A small cry caused Dan to trail off, puzzled. Slowly, he pulled the blanket away from his face and peered out, blinking blearily. Two huge, dewy, crossed blue eyes peered down at him; an inquisitive tap at his cheek followed, supplemented by another plaintive mewl. “You… you got me a cat?”
Herbert’s face had softened slightly from its customary scowl of thoughtful defensiveness. “Yes. A Siamese.” He hesitated slightly. “Her name is Lucy.”
“Lucy,” Dan repeated as he sat up and reached to take her from West’s outstretched hands. “And you’re… not going to kill her and try to bring her back to life, are you?” Herbert’s brow furrowed, and he pulled the tiny ball of fluff just out of Dan’s grasp.
“That was not the purpose I had intended her for, no…”
“So her intended purpose is…?”
“To be your cat!” Herbert punctuated his exasperated exclamation by dropping the bewildered kitten into Dan’s lap. “And your Christmas present!” He huffed slightly, pushing his hair off of his forehead and brushing cat hairs from his white shirt while Dan watched, unsure whether he should be shocked or amused. “Merry Christmas,” Herbert finally added grudgingly, his tone toeing the line of sarcasm.
“I… uh, I…” Dan shrugged helplessly. “I didn’t get you anything,” he finally added, embarrassment finally catching up to him. “I mean, I could… er…”
“Are you happy?”
“Are you happy?” Herbert repeated, voice and face completely wooden. Dan nodded.
“Yeah, I… I guess I am.” He lifted Lucy up to his chest and felt the rumble of her purr vibrate in his throat. He nodded decisively. “Yes. I’m happy.”
“Then that’s enough.” Herbert turned to leave, but paused at Dan’s bedroom door, one hand resting lightly on the frame. “There is some cat food in the kitchen. No doubt she’ll be hungry soon.”
“No doubt,” Dan repeated, absently massaging the soft fur behind the kitten’s ears while she dug her claws happily into his leg and reveled in the attention. “Herbert?”
“… Merry Christmas, Herbert.”