daylight_darknight: (My Cat)
[personal profile] daylight_darknight
Title: The Kitten Epidemic
Characters: Pete, Myka, Claudia, Steve, Artie
Rating/Warnings: G
Genre: Humour, Fluff
Word Count: 3500
Spoilers: None
Summary: There can always be too much of a good thing, even kittens.

"It's always ultimately death. I mean artifacts never release a plague of tickles or an epidemic of kittens."
Pete Latimer
"Some do. They end badly too."
Jane Latimer
~The Living and the Dead


The Kitten Epidemic
By Daylight



“What is it?” Pete asked staring down at the object on the floor.

“It’s a basket,” Myka replied.

Pete rolled his eyes. “I can see that, but this is the Warehouse. No way is that just a basket. It could be Florescence Nightingale’s basket of bandages or Bon Jovi’s basket of fun times or the ancient Egyptian basket of shiny round things or…”

“Or the Aztec basket of doom,” suggested Steve.

“Exactly.”

The three agents cast slightly wary eyes at the artifact. It was a large wicker basket rectangular in shape with a lid which was currently closed. It sat unassumingly on the floor of Artie’s office but all of them had long ago learned not to trust unassuming objects.

“I don’t know,” said Myka frowning. She did not like not knowing things. “It arrived in a shipment from England this morning but there was no label or note or anything with it.”

“A snag and bag without the tag,” said Pete shaking his head.

Steve walked around the artifact checking every side and even inside and underneath as if there might be some sort of clue to its origins, but there was none. It seemed fairly old, but otherwise it was just a plain, ordinary basket and it was empty.

“Artie probably had it shipped over and forgot to tell us about it,” he said.

“So why hasn’t anyone asked Artie what it is?” Pete asked.

“Because,” said Claudia sitting over at the computer on the other side of the room, “Artie is having some rare, and I mean rare, time off. And anyway since when do we need the old grumps to simply identify an object.” The computer beeped and she added, “Which I, my brilliant self, have just now done.” She frowned as she read the information on the screen. “Crap.”

“What’s wrong?” Myka asked.

“Well, I’ve got a name but some nincompoop forgot to fill in the rest of the file. There’s no history or any information about what the artifact actually does.”

“So, what is it?” asked Pete.

“T.S. Eliot’s hamper.”

Pete’s face scrunched up. Gears moved slowly as he fished around for the information in the back of his brain but he came up empty. “T.S. Eliot?”

The others gave him incredulous looks.

“T.S. Eliot, the poet,” Myka explained.

Pete didn’t look anymore enlightened.

“You’ve never heard of T.S. Eliot,” she said still disbelieving, “writer of “The Waste Land” and “The Hollow Men?”

This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper,” Steve quoted, then turned to Myka and said, “Actually, I can’t say I’m really that surprised.”

“Me either,” she admitted.

“Poetry’s just not my thing,” Pete said with a shrug.

“He wrote ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ on which Andrew Lloyd Webber based the musical Cats,” Myka said hoping in some small way to add to Pete’s scant knowledge of literature.

Pete held up a finger. “Musicals, also not my thing,” he said, and then added thoughtfully, “I have always wanted a kitten though.”

Giving up on her search for more information, Claudia left the computer and joined them next to the basket. “We should probably put it in the ovoid quarantine before it actually ends the world or something. Artie can deal with it when he gets back.”

“I’ll do it,” Steve volunteered putting on a pair of the purple gloves. He leaned over to pick it up but had only raised it a few inches off the floor when he dropped it again and jumped back.

“What’s wrong, Jinksy?” Claudia asked.

Steve’s eyes were wide as he stared down at the basket. “There’s something alive in there.”

Myka shook her head. “Nothing’s in there. We checked.”

“Then what the hell did I just feel scrambling about inside?” Steve demanded.

Claudia waved a hand dismissively. “It’s probably just your imagination.”

Just then the lid of the basket shifted slightly and a scratching sound was heard.

“Oh please, let it not be rats,” said Pete.

“It was empty,” Myka insisted.

“Well, obviously not anymore,” said Claudia.

More scratching came from the basket and it tilted a bit to the side before righting itself again. Everyone took a quick step back.

“One of us should open it to see what it is,” said Myka.

“Okay, go ahead,” said Pete gesturing to the basket.

“Me? Why don’t you open it?”

“I’m not opening it. You open it.”

“No, you.”

“Steve can open it,” Pete declared suddenly deciding on a compromise. “He’s wearing gloves.”

Steve raised his gloved hands and backed away. “I’m not touching that thing again.”

“For the love of…” Claudia said as she walked past them and flipped open the lid.

As one the four agents cautiously leaned over to look inside. Something small and furry looked back up at them.

“Mew,” said the kitten.

A collective ‘awwww’ came from the group.

“And you guys were afraid to open it,” Claudia mocked. “He’s adorable.” She reached into the basket and gently scooped the kitten up.

It was a tiny kitten only a couple months old. Its long fur was mainly black, but it had white on its nose, chin, and stomach. Its yellow eyes stared around curiously as it wriggled about in Claudia fingers.

“That’s my kitten,” exclaimed Pete. He reached towards it but Claudia moved away clutching the kitten close.

“Says who?” she asked.

“Well, I said I wanted a kitten, didn’t I?” said Pete.

Myka’s eyes widened. “Are you saying that the basket grants wishes?”

“Oh, that never ends well,” said Claudia.

“Um, guys.” Steve pointed at the basket drawing their attention back towards it.

There were now two more kittens in the formerly empty basket, one gray with blue eyes and the other orange striped. The orange stripped one clambered over the side of the basket and fell to the floor. It looked dazed for a brief moment, and then began to trot about slightly unsteady on its stubby legs.

“Maybe it’s a kitten granting basket,” declared Pete, eyes alight as he contemplated the awesomeness of such a thing.

“A kitten granting basket?” Claudia said, eyebrows raised. “What the hell is a kitten granting basket?”

“More importantly,” said Steve who had been keeping a close eye on the arifact, “how do we stop it granting kittens?”

From out of nowhere, three more kittens had joined the gray kitten in the basket, a white one, a Siamese one, and one with black and white patches. As they watched, another orange kitten mysteriously emerged from behind the others. The basket was now full of squirming fur and a chorus of mews sounded throughout the room.

“I better go grab some neutraliser before this gets out of hand,” Claudia said.

Before she left in search of goo, she handed off her kitten to Pete who gazed at it with a wide grin on his face.

“I name you Fuzzball,” he declared.

Myka sighed. “You can’t keep him.”

“Why not?” demanded Pete cradling the kitten protectively close to his chest.

“Because he’s not just a kitten. He’s a magically artifact-created kitten. Who knows what that might mean.”

“You kept that ferret,” Pete countered scowling. “Besides he is a kitten. My kitten. Come on, Myks. It’s not like he’s going to turn into a giant slobbering beast if I feed him after midnight.”

“He might.”

“You’re just jealous ‘cause you don’t have one of your own.”

“Well, she’s got plenty to choose from if she wants one,” said Steve.

It was getting hard to count how many kittens there were now. Half had managed to get out the basket and were busy exploring the room. A white kitten had begun attacking one of the threadbare Persian rugs, a gray kitten was using Artie’s favourite leather armchair as a scratching post, a siamese kitten had reached the card catalogue and was beginning to climb up, and an orange kitten was…

“Oh no.” Steve suddenly made a mad dash across the room.

The orange kitten who had first escaped the basket was standing in the doorway leading into the Warehouse, its nose raised to sniff the air as it prepared to cross the threshold. It managed to take a few tentative steps out onto the platform before Steve snatched it up and slammed the door shut.

“I don’t want to think what sort of chaos these kittens could cause if they got loose in the Warehouse,” he said still clutching the kitten.

The orange kitten gave one of his fingers a little nip as if in protest.

“Hey!” Steve cried though the bite hadn’t been that hard. He put the kitten back down on the floor.

“I got it,” said Claudia as she rushed back into the room with an aerosol can of neutralizer. “Wow. It’s kittenpalooza in here. Good thing we left Tray behind at the B&B.” She aimed the spray at the basket and those kittens still inside.

“Should you really be using that on the kittens?” Pete said in protest. “I mean…”

“Pete,” said Myka warningly.

Pete’s shoulders slumped. “Alright, go ahead.”

Claudia sprayed down the basket and what kittens were nearby. Sparks flew and the kittens dashed about like mad, their fur standing on end like they had bad cases of static electricity. The basket was knocked over onto its side and all the remaining kittens escaped into the room.

“I don’t think that helped,” said Steve.

“Well, the basket’s empty now,” Claudia said with cautious hope in her voice. “Maybe that’s stopped it.” She righted the basket and gave it an extra spray for good measure.

The agents stared intently at the basket but it remained empty.

Myka let out a deep breath. “Okay. Now that that’s over, what are we going to do with the rest of these…?” She gestured around the room.

Artie’s office was full of kittens. There were kittens running, kittens jumping, kittens playing, kittens climbing. There were kittens on the chairs and under the tables. There were kittens on the spiral staircase and inside the bookshelves. There was even a kitten on the suit of armour near the umbilical entrance though no one could figure out exactly how it had gotten up there. A cacophony of tiny mews echoed throughout the room.

Pete’s face suddenly lit up.

“We are not keeping them,” Myka said easily reading her partner’s mind.

“Aw, Myka.”

“Fine. You can keep one, but that’s it.”

Pete petted Fuzzball happily.

Myka rolled her eyes. Several kittens had gathered around her feet and were meowing up at her. She took a couple steps away from them but they followed tickling her ankles with their tails as they clambered and tumbled over her shoes

“These guys may be cute,” said Steve carefully removing a black kitten which had been climbing up his leg and putting it back on the floor, “but I’m beginning to think we have too much of a good thing.” Once on the ground, the black kitten immediately began to climb his leg again.

“I think he likes you, Jinksy,” Claudia said with a grin.

“I’d feel more flattered if his claws weren’t quite so sharp,” Steve said wincing as the kitten reached his hip.

“They do say love hurts. I guess that includes kitten love.” A small plaintive mew nearby drew Claudia’s attention and she turned to see a new tabby kitten sitting in the basket. “Crap. I really thought that worked.”

“Uh, Claudia.” Myka pointed at the desk where a tiny calico had begun walking across the computer keyboard.

“No, no, no, no,” Claudia cried dashing across the room. She grabbed the kitten and began checking furiously to make sure it hadn’t messed anything up.

A loud crash suddenly resounded throughout the room as the suit of armour toppled over. Everyone jumped. It seemed to have a domino effect as kittens dashed about causing more things to be knocked over. A lamp fell, its bulb smashing into tiny pieces. A pile of carefully organized papers went flying scattering all over the floor. One of the kittens tried to climb up the map of the Warehouse but only succeeded in yanking it right off the wall and another kitten ran into one of the globes sending the sphere spinning.

“We need to do something fast,” said Pete, “or these kittens are going to tear this place apart.”

“Maybe if we destroyed the basket or dipped the whole thing in neutraliser,” Myka suggested. “Or gooed all the kittens.”

Pete levelled a finger at her. “We are not gooying the kittens.”

Steve, the black kitten now sitting on his shoulder, had been staring at the basket where two new kittens had just appeared. He frowned. “Guys, I think I figured it out. It’s…”

“What the hell is going on?”

Everyone stopped talking, their heads swinging around towards the entrance of the office.

Artie Neilson stood in the doorway staring at the kitten induced chaos, his expression going from shock to fury to tired exasperation.

The others couldn’t do much except stare sheepishly back at him: Myka, her feet so surrounded by kittens she could barely move; Steve, the black kitten on his shoulder now nibbling at his ear; Claudia, valiantly trying to defend the computer equipment from several kittens at once; and Pete, still cradling Fuzzball lovingly in his arms.

“Do I even want to know?” asked Artie with a sigh.

“Artie!” Pete cried, a nervous grin on his face. “Haven’t you ever felt the need for more cuteness in your life? I was just telling Myka…”

“Please make it stop,” Myka pleaded.

Artie’s eyes fell on the basket. “T.S. Eliot’s hamper, of course. The one he used to carry around his cat, Jellyorum. I forgot it was supposed to arrive today.”

“Well, you could have warned us about it,” said Pete. “It’s a real kitten making machine.”

Artie held up his hands. “Don’t say that word!”

Pete frowned. “What word?”

“The ‘k’ word!”

“What? Kitten?”

Artie slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead. “Yes, that word.”

There were now two additional kittens in the basket.

“That’s what I was trying to tell you,” Steve explained. “Every time you say k…” He caught himself just in time. “…that word another one appears in the basket.”

“So basically it’s all Pete’s fault for mentioning them in the first place,” Claudia pointed out.

“Hey!” Pete protested. “How I was I supposed to know what activated this magical cat basket?”

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is,” Myka said. “Just please tell me there’s an easy way to get rid of these kittens. The neutraliser didn’t do anything.”

Artie clasped his hands together. “Oh, that’s because all these… little balls of fur have to be put back in the basket before the neutraliser will work.”

The agents stared at Artie.

“All of them?” questioned Claudia disbelievingly.

“Yup.”

“You have noticed just how many of these balls of fur there are?” said Steve pointedly. “There’s got to be at least…” He glanced around the room. “… two dozen.”

“Well, it’s not my fault it took you so long to figure out the problem.”

“Do we have to get rid of them?” asked Pete. “I mean they’re just babies, really cute, fuzzy babies. Couldn’t we find some nice homes for them or maybe even…”

“We are not keeping them,” Myka repeated quickly.

“They’d look great in the B&B.”

“No.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with Myka,” Artie said. “We don’t exactly have time to run a cattery and the last time this happened all of them grew up to be notorious troublemakers, somehow always ending up in the worst places at the worst possible times. It’s safer if we just return them to the ether from whence they came.” He gave Pete a sympathetic yet stern look.

“Alright, I get it,” Pete said in resignation.

“Great,” said Artie turning back towards the exit. “Now, you guys deal with this while I go see if Leena has started on dinner.”

“Aren’t you going to help?” Claudia called after him.

“No, no, no. This is your problem to fix. Not mine,” Artie replied. “Besides, it’s my day off. And I expect my office to be back to normal when I return,” he added before closing the door.

Pete, Myka, Claudia, and Steve exchanged looks.

“Alright, team,” Pete declared. “Let’s herd us some cats.”

The agents immediately scattered throughout the room grabbing kittens left and right. Kittens were removed from the kitchenette sink, rescued from the top of the card catalogue, coaxed out from underneath the armchair, taken down from the pneumatic tube, retrieved from inside the suit of armour, and even extracted from the harp sitting in the corner.

Each kitten nabbed was placed into the basket, but it was soon established that kittens put in the basket would not stay in the basket. Myka and Steve had to be designated basket handlers and kitten wranglers so that each time the lid was opened to put a kitten in, two more didn’t get out. This became harder to do as the number of kittens in the basket grew. Several made their escapes and had to be retrieved once more.

Finally, all the kittens were in the basket and a chorus of mews was coming from within. Myka and Steve kept the lid closed as the basket shifted about as it were a live thing.

“Okay. Let’s try this again,” said Claudia brandishing the neutraliser. She sprayed the basket on each side doing her best to get every inch of it.

Sparks danced and the agents waited patiently for the mewing to stop.

Nothing happened.

“Drat,” Claudia said. “We must have missed one.”

Everyone glanced around the room hoping to catch a sign of movement or a glimpse of fur.

“Maybe one of them got up into Artie’s bedroom,” suggested Steve.

“No, I checked,” Claudia replied.

“And the doors to everywhere else have been closed so they couldn’t have gotten out,” said Myka. Glancing around, she caught sight of Pete’s face and suddenly knew exactly what had happened to the missing kitten. “Pete…”

“What?” Pete exclaimed trying and failing to look innocent.

Myka put her hands on her hips. “Where is it?” she demanded.

“What are you talking about? I have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean I don’t know anything about…” His voice trailed off as the others stared at him with pointed looks. Sighing, Pete went over to a filing cabinet, opened the top drawer, and removed the black and white kitten he’d christened Fuzzball. “I just kind of hoped…”

Myka reached over and gently took the kitten from Pete who was still reluctant to let it go. “I know, Pete,” she said. “If there was another way…”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Myka approached the basket with the last kitten. “Incoming.”

Steve and Claudia opened the lid though only just enough to let the new kitten in. The mewing increased, and paws and whiskered noses stuck themselves through the gap. As gently as they could, Steve and Claudia pushed them back inside while Myka shoved the kitten through, and then they quickly closed the lid.

“Okay. Try it now, Claud,” Myka said.

Claudia sprayed on the neutralizer. Even more sparks came this time and they had to avert their eyes. When they were able to look again, the basket had gone silent and still. Steve cautiously lifted the lid. It was empty. The agents all let out sighs of relief except for Pete who gave a sad sniff.

“Well, I’m glad that’s over,” Myka said running a tired hand through her hair.

Claudia nodded. “I’ve definitely had my cuteness quota filled for the year. We should take the basket down to the ovoid quarantine before someone accidentally mentions the baby animal who should not be named again.”

“Good idea,” said Steve. He picked up the basket though he held it gingerly as if more kittens might appear at any moment.

“I’ll go with you,” Claudia said. “I think we need to set up some sort of big warning sign nearby so the Warehouse doesn’t end up with a giant cat infestation.”

“Thanks, guys,” Myka called out as the two headed out into the Warehouse.

“No problem,” Claudia replied, and casting a slightly smug smile behind her, added, “Have fun cleaning the office.”

Myka looked around at the giant mess the kittens had caused. “This might take a while.”

Pete didn’t say anything, just remained looking at the floor. His hands were in his pockets and his shoulders slumped.

“Oh, Pete,” Myka said wrapping an arm around his back in a half-hug.

“I’m okay,” he said giving another sniff and wiping at his nose. “They were pretty cute weren’t they?”

Myka smiled. “They were adorable.”

“Especially Fuzzball.”

“Especially Fuzzball,” agreed Myka, and then added, “You know we could go down to the ASPCA tomorrow and…”

“Get a kitten!” Pete exclaimed his face lighting up.

“Why not,” said Myka grinning back. “I’m sure Tray would love to have a new friend around.”

“Can I name it Fuzzball?”

“Anything you want.”





Note: I haven't had to put two dozen kittens into a basket but I did once, while volunteering at the SPCA, have to put thirteen kittens into a two foot square cage so I could clean the floor of the room they were in. Also the black kitten who climbed up Steve is based on a real kitten who did in fact try to climb up me every time I entered the room.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-28 02:54 pm (UTC)
tptigger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tptigger
This is adorable!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-19 03:31 am (UTC)
umadoshi: (kittens - in box)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
Warehouse + kittens = awesomeness. ^_^
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