“You shouldn’t stalk your ex,” said Gweniveer. “It’s just not healthy, take it from me. Even if she’s some dangerous soldier, that’s not what I mean.”
Gweniveer had pulled up to the curve just as Rulash was walking home from Willow’s house again. She hadn’t been home. Again. Gweniveer had dumped a stray kitten in Rulash’s hands and walked with him towards the shelter, the fur ball rolling and hissing in his hold. Gweniveer had found it beside her office.
“I am not stalking.” Rulash dangled the kitten in front of his face. “More like concerned prowling.”
“You’re not a cat. You have to respect her space. It’s her choice. You should be taking in all your options, which would be plentiful if you opened your eyes to the possibilities.”
“Such as working with Willow on whatever’s keeping her away from her house at odd hours?”
“No,” deadpanned Gweniveer. “You’re living with one of the most popular drag queens alive and the thought hasn’t crossed your mind? Sam, my man."
"I’m not going to stalk Sam,” Rulash said, exasperated. “Why would I?”
“He’s like a slice of watermelon: straight on one side, curved on the other.”
“I don’t understand what you mean by that,” snapped Rulash. The kitten mewed, and Rulash hissed at it.
“He’s bisexual,” Gweniveer stated, amused. “Jayzus.”
“You’re still incomprehensible. Go talk with Sam. He’s in the back. He’ll enjoy your jabber.”
“I just came to drop off the kitten.”
Rulash opened the door to the shelter with a nudge and the new bell jangling. The warm smell of animal fur and that pine cleaner Sam used filled his nostrils, and he paused to to draw a little x on the calendar in the sitting area. Gweniveer sighed at him.
“I am worried about her,” said Rulash to himself, the kitten mewing and squirming in his hand.
He dropped it in a basket by a register and told it to stay put. Its ears flattened, but the kitten curled up in the basket as stared up at him.
“That never happened with me.”
“Of course not. You’re not me.”
Gweniveer was preparing to stomp on her admiration of his arrogance—and she thought she was unrivaled when in character—but just as she straightened her tie and opened her mouth, the pair heard Sam talking down the hall.
Rulash couldn’t make out the words, but Sam’s voice was quiet. Uncertain.
Which was strange for the strange man. He crept down the hall, and after a puzzled beat, Gweniveer followed him, tiptoeing as well. They stopped beside Sam’s office, their backs pressed to the wall.
As silence stretched in the office, they tried to communicate with hand gestures, but neither understood what the other was trying to say, and it ended in a lot of hands wringing in frustration.
Sam spoke into an old phone, sounding small as the kitten in the lobby. Rulash’s eyes widened.
“No, I didn’t mean that,” said Sam. “I just… I was hoping to come home for his birthday.”
Someone murmured through the receiver. Gweniveer and Rulash leaned towards the door.
“Mom, we’re not going to talk about this now. I told you, my… act has nothing to do with my love life. I’ve gone straight.” Sam’s voice cracked on the word. “There’s no connection. It’s just for fun.”
Another long, agonizing pause.
“Okay,” he said softly. “Maybe Christmas then… I love you.”
Gweniveer pantomimed backing up, back down the hall towards the lobby, and miraculously, Rulash understood. The fairy king and the drag king tip-toed back towards the lobby. Rulash occupied himself with the kitten, quietly, and Gweniveer lowered herself into an armchair, also quietly.
Sam stepped into the hallway, his hands knotted in his hair. He spotted the pair in the lobby and jumped. “I didn’t realize you two were here.”
Sam’s eyes were red. Gweniveer pretended not to notice. “I found a kitten under my office window. I can’t take another stray in, no matter how big and adorable your eyes are when you beg.”
“Okay, sure.” He turned around, distracted. “Where is it?”
Rulash picked up the kitten from the basket, and Sam’s face fell in dismay. “I kept fruit in there!”
Rulash held out the kitten. Sam shook his head.
Rulash continued to hold out the mewing fur ball. “Take the kitten.”
A beat. Then, “Okay,” sighed Sam. Rulash handed him the kitten, and Sam petted its head as Rulash looked on with approval.
“I ship it,” Gweniveer said.
“You can’t ship real people, Gweniveer,” said Sam, tiredly. “We’ve been over this before.”
“What is real?” began Gweniveer. “What if we’re just within—“
“No,” interrupted Rulash, returning his room. “No.”
“No,” Rulash repeated. “If I wanted this ridiculous, self-intellect-stroking nonsense, I would have stayed home and actually listened to Leggy.”
“Leggy?” She waggled her eyebrows as Sam suffered in silence. “Leggy… Is this a he or a she?”
“An insufferable idiot. Quell your breeding urges.”
“Keep rocking your thing, Rulash.”
“Same to you,” answered the fairy king dryly.
“Sam, I’ll see you later.”
The two men—sort of men, one was a fairy—stared at the door seconds after it closed.
“I’ll find a spot for the kitten,” said Sam finally. “Someone will adopt it. Kittens… kittens always find good homes.”