Even in the dead of night, the city of Jerusalem was quite alive. Guards walked their patrol routes, and night-owls were about, either wanting some company for the night, or stumbling home after a good drinking session. Other than people, there were also the little pitter-patter of rats and mice crawling about in the alleyways. And every once in awhile, the bay of a stray dog ripped through the air, only to be swallowed up by the silence of the night.
But it was a strange mewling sound that woke Malik up from his slumber. For a moment, he stared at the dark ceiling, wondering if the sound came from his dreams. It wasn't until it sounded again, that he realized that it was originating from somewhere within the Bureau. What in the world
? With a sigh, Malik sat up, pushing the bed sheets off of his body. It was the first time in a long time that he had managed to get to sleep peacefully.
But the damned mewling cut that short for him. Standing up, he grabbed a throwing knife from the other side of his room, before walking into the Bureau part of the building.
The desk and shelves were the same as they were when he left them nearly two hours ago. The incense burner on the desk had been put out, though the slightly musky smell still remained in the air. An unfinished map lay across the desk; something that he was going to tackle first thing in the morning. The shelves behind the desk were neatly placed, with only a small handful of books being out of place. He twirled the knife around in his fingers, as he entered the resting room.
The light from the full moon shone through the open roof, making it very easy to make out everything that was in the room. The cushions, the plant, the carpet, and the small waterfall which was trickling softly against the opposite wall. The mewling sounded again, and this time it was louder. Stepping further into the room, he immediately noticed the source and couldn't help but stop and stare for a moment.
Curled up on one of the cushions in the corner, was a small kitten.
Malik was surprisingly used to unwanted intruders in the Bureau. Excluding the usual human suspects (aka Altair), there were plenty of times where the intruders were animals. Mice and rats often found their way in, and were easily taken care of. However there had been a time where there was an infestation of rats, which Malik found out was good for knife throwing practice. The corpses of the fallen rats were then delivered to an alleyway a couple roads down from the Bureau. The alley cats there were extremely happy. Other times, carrier pigeons often found themselves stuck within. They were either completely new to the trade, or had been spooked in by either an eagle, or a group of mischievous children. Malik found out easily that spooked pigeons were not easy to catch. And those that died from running too hard into the walls were once again fed to the alley cats down the road. And there had even been a rare moment, where an eagle had crash landed into the Bureau.
Malik didn't like recalling that event. Altair easily learned the hard way not to drop in unceremoniously on an exhausted, pissed off Dai who had spent the evening wrangling an eagle
and had the wounds to show it.
The small kitten stopped meowing and instead stared right up at Malik, its bright green eyes almost humorously large for its small size. Neither of them moved, which Malik found strange. Stray cats often found their way into the Bureau every now and then, but usually ran at the sight of him. However, this one seemed completely content with just staying on the cushion and having a staring contest with him.
Finally, the kitten meowed softly, as it got off of the cushion it was so comfortably laying on. It then slowly started walking out of the shadows, towards Malik. Malik squinted slightly, seeing that the kitten was hobbling slightly, like its paw was injured. But once it came into the moonlight, the Dai then saw why the kitten was moving so slowly
and felt his breath hitch slightly in the back of his throat.
The kitten was missing an entire front leg. Its left leg, to be exact. The fur around the stub seemed matted with either dirt or bloodMalik couldn't tell from this distance. His own missing limb throbbed slightly at the sight. A soft sigh left his lips, as he gently laid a hand on it, his fingertips massaging slightly to ease the throbbing sensation. The stump rarely pained him nowadays; only when the weather changed drastically or when his memories of the past caught up to him.
"You poor thing
" he whispered, as he kneeled down. The kitten paused for a moment, watching him move, before hobbling towards him again, mewling once more. Now that the kitten was closer, Malik could see that it was indeed tiny. The kitten could've easily called the hood of Malik's robe home. Black fur covered its body, except for a single white spot on its forehead. However, the kitten was extremely skinny, and seemed starved. It probably wouldn't have lasted the night.
Once it got close enough, Malik held out his hand for the kitten to sniff. It froze for a moment, before straining its neck forward. It sniffed Malik's fingertips for a few seconds, before rubbing its head against them. Malik smiled softly, as he let his fingers glide over the kitten's head and over its back. It arched into his touch, and the Dai could feel every single vertebrae in the kitten's back. It turned around, rubbing against Malik's hand again, this time purring loudly.
"You're not afraid of me, despite what you've gone through
" said Malik, gently lifting the cat from under its stomach and bringing it to his chest. The kitten's claws dug slightly into his shirt, but its happy purring continued. Its thin tail swayed from side to side, as it continued to lean into Malik's touch.
"You need something to eat and drink, or you're not going to last the night." he said, as he stood up, gently holding the kitten to his chest. He felt its tiny claws dig in slightly, but nothing to cause pain. The kitten, who had its eyes closed while being petted, now had one open and was staring right up at Malik, still purring. Malik couldn't help but feel a little
odd. He had never really been close with animals before. Sure, he had a favorite horse while training at Masayf, but that was the closest he had to a pet. Cats were just creatures that roamed around and killed mice and rats. He never saw himself as keeping one.
What am I thinking? I'm too busy to keep an eye on a cat, much less than a kitten. Still, Malik knew that it would weigh too heavily on his conscious if he left the kitten to die in an alleyway. With a sigh, he looked down at the kitten again, "Before I even start thinking about whether or not to keep you, you first have to live through the night."
As he got into the back room of the Bureau to see if he had anything leftover to the kitten to eat, he realized that he wouldn't be able to search through the shelves, unless he set the kitten down. However, looking around, all he could see were crates to set the kitten down. That's not very comfortable
he thought, looking down at the kitten, who seemed to be falling asleep right against his chest. Without hesitation, he walked back into the resting room, took one of the smaller cushions, sat the kitten down on it and took both back into the back room, setting the kitten down; now having a cushion underneath of it, so it could still feel comfortable.
"I can't believe I'm doing this
" muttered Malik, running a hand through his hair. He stared at the kitten, who just lazily stared back. With yet another sigh and a shake of his head, he set off to search through the shelves, hoping he had at least something to give to the poor kitten.
After about half an hour of searching and shuffling around, Malik found some dry pieces of meat that he could cut up for the kitten to eat. He had hoped that he had some milk, but the only liquid he could find was a bottle of wine that he had gotten awhile ago as a gift. I don't think alcohol and cats go well together
Instead, he got a bowl and went to the fountain in the other room and filled it up. Going back into the back room, he set the bowl of water by the kitten, before going to a different crate and taking the knife he had before and cutting the dry meat into tiny pieces.
For a moment, he thought that the kitten wasn't moving towards the bowl. A split second later, he heard the soft sound of water splashing slightly and glanced over to see that the kitten was standing over the bowl, its rough tongue flicking out of its mouth and gulping down the water. It was quite thirsty. Malik finished cutting up the meat and set it by the kitten, who immediately started devouring the tiny pieces. Malik watched the kitten, and started once when the kitten starting coughing after eating several pieces of meat really fast. Thankfully, it didn't choke and went to take a drink, before going back to eating.
Malik didn't know how long it took the kitten to finish its meal, but it truthfully didn't take that long for it to finish off all the meat, and drinking nearly all of the water that was in the bowl. The kitten was licking its paws clean, before glancing up at the Dai and meowing softly.
"Hopefully that'll keep you alive tonight." said Malik, as he petted the kitten, who arched into his touch once more and starting purring. Exhaustion was finally starting to set in, and he wanted nothing more than to go to bed. I'll clean up in the morning
he thought, as he started to leave the room. However, the kitten's soft mewling stopped him. He hesitated for a moment, before going back into the room and picking up the kitten. It purred happily against his chest, its tiny tail swaying again.
You're going to become extremely spoiled." muttered Malik, as he walked out of the back room and right back to his bedroom. As he laid back down in his bed, he thought for a moment. He couldn't recall the last time he slept with a kitten. And with this one being so small, would he crush it if he accidentally rolled over onto it? It's so small and skinny
But just as Malik laid down, the kitten crawled onto his chest and spun around once, before curling into a ball and closing its eyes. It purred softly, but within a minute the purring came to a stop, as the kitten finally fell into a deep sleep.
What I wouldn't give to fall asleep like a kitten
he thought with a smile, as he gentle petted the kitten once more, before relaxing against his pillow and closing his eyes.
Though he took a bit longer than the kitten, Malik eventually fell back into a peaceful sleep.