oldandnewfirm: (Flapjack / Sad Flapjack)
[personal profile] oldandnewfirm
Fandom: Watchmen
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings: Bubastis, Adrian, Eddie, Adrian/Eddie
Summary: Bubastis is ready to go, but Adrian's not  ready to let her. A HS!AU (by not-the-hs-anon) fill for a prompt on the kinkmeme, sort of.

Adrian woke to the wet, wrenching sounds he’d grown painfully familiar with in the last few weeks. He rolled over and grasped the offending noisemaker behind her forelegs, and had just enough time to sweep her over the edge of the bed and drop her to the floor before her back bunched up and she heaved onto the carpet.

Adrian didn’t watch. He fumbled around beneath the bedside table until his fingers caught the roll of paper towels he’d been keeping there, then the nozzle of the bottle of carpet cleaner. It took a moment before Bubastis finished; when she did, she turned and padded out of the room, smacking her lips and still making little coughing noises well into the hall.

Five minutes later Adrian had removed the worst of the mess, though he left a folded piece of paper towel over the spot in case he’d missed something. He climbed back into bed, got a squirt of hand sanitizer from the little travel bottle that had recently taken residence on his bedside table and, with a sigh, flopped onto his side.

More raspy, unproductive retching sounds echoed from the kitchen. He thought of food going stale in its bowl, of glazed eyes whose owner couldn’t be persuaded to move even with the promise of water fresh from the tap.

It would have to be soon.

__

“Friday.” Adrian said. His cell was propped between shoulder and cheek. One free hand tangled in Bubastis’ fur, while the other scratched at the underside of her chin. He could feel her purrs rattle through her frame.

“What, this Friday?”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t that…soon?”

“She can barely move now. If she eats, she just throws it up again.” Adrian swallowed. “I spoke to the vet about it, and she thinks that it’s probably best, at this point…”

“Oh.”

There was a sharp hiss as Eddie sighed into the mouthpiece. After a moment he said, “Did you decide if you’re doing it at home or not?”

“I want her to be comfortable.” Said Adrian, hesitantly. “She hates car rides. But…”

Another staticy sigh through the line.

“Well…It’s up to you, in the end. If you feel like you're gonna need time afterward, then I’m not sure you should do it at the house.”

It. Adrian isn’t sure what to call it, either. Intellectually he knows, of course, but every time the word creeps into his mind his throat swells and cold plunges through his veins like it’s just burst from a needle. He doesn’t think of it now, even as they talk around it. This was all happening to some other cat, one belonging to a boy who needed it far less than he.

“I’ll decide this evening. She makes house calls, the vet, but she needs at least 72 hours notice.”

“Let me know either way.”

“I will. How are finals going?”

Adrian can hear Eddie’s brief confusion at the change of topic in his voice.

“Finals? Oh, uh, fine I guess. Ed and me started a study group, so I’ve been in the library for most of week. I think this is the first time I’ve seen daylight since Tuesday.”

Adrian laughed and shifted. Bubastis raised her head enough to let out a short, warbled meow.

“Sorry girl, sorry.” Adrian said, and he stroked her back. “It’s all right.”

“Hey, Adrian.”

“Yeah?”

“I gotta go.”

Adrian heard voices in the background on the line, getting closer. Eddie’s study group, he supposed. And yes, there was Ed’s voice in the background, his nasal twang cutting through the noise.

“All right.” Said Adrian. “Go study. And don’t worry so much. You’re going to do fantastically on Monday.”

“That or lapse into a coma between then and now due to sheer information overload. How’d I let you talk me into college again?”

“That was entirely you, Eddie. Although I might have encouraged, a little.”

“‘A little’, huh?”

“I can be very encouraging.”

“That you can.” Eddie's voice was teasing with a touch of husky. A smile quirked Adrian's mouth for the first time in a while.

And then Ed's sharp voice suddenly burst from Adrian's earpiece.

“Geez Eddie, aren’t you done talking to your boyfriend yet?”

“He’s not my boyfriend, Ed.” Eddie said, with the patience of one who's clearly made the same point innumerable times. Adrian wasn't sure how to feel about that yet.

“Hello, Ed.” Said Adrian.

“Adrian says hello.”

“Hi Adrian!”

“Look, Adrian, when you decide on what time you’re doing the—thing—with Bubastis, let me know, all right?”

“I will.”

“Bye Adrian!”

“Ed says--”

Adrian smiled. “I heard him. Bye.”

He clicked the phone off and slid forward until his head rested on the sofa arm, carefully so as not to disturb Bubastis again.

The vet’s office closed at nine. He had an hour.

---

He allowed himself to shuffle through the next few days guided by the comfort of routine. He’d go to classes in the morning, do TA work into the afternoon, and every other evening he’d spend in the lab, poring over case studies and conferring with professors and some of the other graduate students who trickled in and out of his door. He did it all with a smile, and if anyone noticed that he’d started getting pale late Wednesday, or that something like fear passed through his eyes whenever his gaze caught a clock, they didn’t say anything.

Thursday morning between prepracticum and organizational economics, he drove to the little organic supermarket he loved in the trendy part of town. The clerk, Rosalie, beamed when he approached the register, right up until the moment she saw what he was buying.

“Chicken? I thought you were a vegetarian?”

“It’s not for me.” Said Adrian. “A friend of mine is going away tomorrow. I’m making her a goodbye meal.”

“Oh, how sweet! I hope she enjoys it.”

He smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes. “Me too.”

He’d informed his professors that he’d be gone for the next two days. They didn’t mind; Adrian was well known in both the Psychology and Economics departments for his diligence, and there was no question that he’d catch up on whatever he’d miss in class, assuming that he wasn’t well ahead in the coursework already.

The recipe he'd chosen was as basic as possible to avoid upsetting Bubastis' delicate palate. After the chicken had finished cooking he removed it from the oven, carefully de-skinned it and shredded it into a little silver bowl. He tipped the juices from the pan into a ramekin, and placed both it and the bowl onto a serving tray. He entered the living room where Bubastis lay sleeping on her pillow; she woke at the clink of the dishware, and watched him through bleary eyes as he sat on the empty cushion with the tray in his lap.

“Here you go, girl. It’s chicken. Don’t you want some chicken?”

He set a little piece of chicken in front of her. Her nostrils flared.

“That’s a girl. Come on now. It’s good.”

She propped herself up, slowly, until she'd settled onto her belly with her chin resting on her forepaws. She sniffed at the meat some more.

“Just a taste, girl. Come on.”

Her head craned forward. She lapped her tongue over the chicken once, twice, before pulling it into her mouth, and twisting her head side to side until she’d managed to down it.

“There you are, girl. That’s all you needed wasn’t it? No more of that drab, dry food for you. Here, have some more.”

He set another piece on the pillow, and with a little coaxing she swallowed that, too.

“Are you thirsty? Try some of this.”

He placed the ramekin with the stock in front of her. She poked her noise into the dish and lapped noisily at the liquid for a few seconds. Then all at once she crawled back and slumped on the cushions as though she'd spent what little energy she'd managed to muster for the meal.

“Come on, girl. Just a little more. You’ll feel better, I promise.”

He offered her another piece of chicken. She didn’t even raise her nose to it. And when he tried the stock again, she just closed her eyes.

Tonight. He thought. Please, let it happen tonight. Better here, in her sleep, where everything was warm and familiar. It would be painful for him, but less so than seeing-- than ordering-- the deed done himself.

He abandoned the food on the coffee table, and instead pulled the pillow and her into his lap. She didn’t stir, even when he rubbed her head with his thumb.

“Only until tomorrow, girl. You won’t have to feel this way for much longer.”

---

The vet’s office was very nice. It still had the sharp chemical smell that seemed unavoidable in any medical setting, but the furnishings suggested something more comfortable and upscale, like a spa. There was only one woman waiting in the lobby when he arrived; she had a little Pekinese pulled into her lap, and she was stroking its trembling body as it whined. She smiled at Adrian, and tilted her head to see into the pet carrier as he approached the reception desk. Once he’d finished checking in, he sat down in a chair near the door.

“Is that a cat?” The woman asked.

“Oh, yes. She’s a Persian.”

“She’s so good! I’ve got a cat at home, too, and usually they make such a fuss when I bring them here. This guy, too.”

She scratched the Pekinese’s head. It whimpered and cringed into her arms.

“Oh shush precious.” She said. Then, to Adrian, “She looks tired.”

“She is.” Said Adrian. “Very tired, these days.”

“Oh. Well, that’s too bad. I—”

“Mrs. Walker?”

A perky vet tech had emerged from the hallway with a clipboard in hand.

“Follow me, please, and we’ll get Randy all set up.”

“Oh, thank you.”

She turned and smiled at Adrian as she left.

“It was nice talking to you. Bye…”

“Bubastis.” Adrian offered.

“Bye Bubastis!”

The woman waved, and disappeared down the hall. Minutes later the same vet tech reappeared, all her pep from before gone. She fixed Adrian with somber eyes.

“Mr. Veidt? This way, please.”

The lights dimmed the further they went, or maybe it was just his imagination. The same wasn’t true when they entered the exam room, where everything took on the ghastly glow of the fluorescent lights.

“All right, Mr. Veidt. We’ll just set her up here. Come on, Bubastis. That’s a girl. Easy, easy—”

The vet tech gripped the edge of the thick blanket Adrian had set Bubastis on and pulled until she’d towed her out of the carrier. Bubastis rose and looked around. She opened her mouth a few times before finally letting out a short mrowl of distress.

“Sh, sh. It’s all right, girl. Just relax.”

“Would you like a moment alone, Mr. Veidt?”

“Yes, please. Thank you.”

“I’ll be back in a few minutes sir.”

She left.

Bubastis yowled again, and Adrian stroked her from neck to tail until she’d calmed enough to stretch out on the blanket once more. She still eyed the room mistrustfully; she’d always had good instincts.

“So. This is it, girl?” Adrian asked.

She tilted her head into the cup of his palm and purred.

“Sure you don’t have another year left? Ten, maybe? Because if you do, now’s the time to--”

He sniffed so loud he surprised the both of them. He realized he was crying. He realized he didn’t care. And that’s when he buried his face in the soft mass of Bubastis’ fur and wept like he hadn’t since he was a child.

And she’d been there on that day, hadn’t she, warm and reeking of his mother’s perfume in the aftermath of some mishap born of kitten curiosity. He’d clutched her to his chest while he poured his misery into the mattress and she didn’t complain, didn’t even squirm…

A knock drew him from his memories. He saw no one through the glass pane on the door—not that he could see anything, really, tear-blind as he was—but he swiped his eyes with the palm of his hand and blew his nose until he was something like presentable. A moment later the vet tech’s face appeared just over the top of the pane, peering at him cautiously.

“Mr. Veidt?” She said when she cracked open the door.

He swallowed. “Yes?”

“There’s a man here asking for you. A Mr. Blake…?”

Adrian blinked in disbelief.

Eddie's here? Is he allowed back?”

“Yes, if you want him to. I’ll go get him.”

When Eddie appeared he looked around the room with the same trepidation one might use on a minefield.

“Eddie? What are you doing here?”

Eddie shrugged. His clothing was rumpled, and little tufts of hair stuck out of wildly from the back of his head. It was obvious he’d just come rushing from his car.

“Dunno. I figured this isn’t the sort of thing someone should be alone for. And you sure as hell weren’t going to ask anyone to come see you, so…”

“You came all this way just for this?”

Eddie shrugged. Then, gently, he slipped a hand around Adrian’s back and squeezed his arm.

“Yeah, well. She grew on me.”

The door swung open again, this time admitting the vet, Mrs. Farmer, as well as her assistant, the young woman from before. In her hands the vet tech bore a tray of bottles and a large syringe.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Veidt.” She held out her hand.

“Mrs. Farmer.”

“And…?

“Eddie.” Eddie said, shaking her hand when she offered it to him. “Blake.”

“Pleased to meet you Mr. Blake. Mr. Veidt, Natasha and I are going to prep Bubastis for the procedure. We’re going to put her under first to ensure that she’s relaxed and won’t feel any pain from the injections. You can stay with her if you want, or if you’d like a few moments to prepare alone…?”

“No.” Said Adrian. “I’ll stay.”

Bubastis yelped once during the proceedings but otherwise remained quiet. A few minutes later her eyes drooped shut and her breathing slowed until it was barely perceptible.

“All right.” Said Mrs. Farmer gently. “We’re ready to do the injection now. Would you like a few more minutes with her?”

Adrian swallowed past the knot in his throat.

“Better to do it now,” He said. Before I do something selfish like changing my mind. “I’m…I’m ready.”

The vet nodded. She picked up the needle from the tray and stuck it into the lid of the first vial.

Beneath the edge of the table, Eddie gripped Adrian’s hand.

I hope you can forgive me for this, girl. Adrian thought as he let Eddie pull him close. It didn’t help much in the face of everything else, but it did offer some comfort.

Thank you, Bubu. For everything.

Goodbye.

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