Miracle – Chapter 1

Spike yawned quietly, lazily, as he sat on the steps in the main office of Wolfram & Hart. He’d only been corporeal again for a couple of days, and was still getting used to the fact that he now got tired again. Tired, and hungry, actually. But he didn’t feel like looking for food. He was people watching.

Well, people and demon watching, but it was basically the same thing.

He would find a place he could sit, out of the way of the main traffic areas, and would just watch and listen to the many workers as they went about their business. It was a habit he’d gotten into in his weeks of being a ghost, and he didn’t seem to be dropping it any time soon.

“Tell the Duke that we’ll have to just rewrite the-“, someone was saying below. Boring. Spike’s attention shifted.

“I don’t CARE if they’re carnivores or insectivores, EVERYONE should like a salad. Especially when we’ve gone to the trouble of flying in fresh-” Spike laughed softly. You could always tell which lawyers were… newer to the demon aspect of Wolfram & Hart. He’d only been there a few weeks, and already he knew that you DON’T try to get any ‘client’ to eat something they don’t want to eat. He made a face. Especially salad. Yuck. He shifted attention again.

“I’ll just have to see to it that everything is in place in time. They can’t be expected to-” The bored vampire yawned again. More boring political stuff. What happened to gossip in this place? Talk about how good (or bad) someone’s new boyfriend/girlfriend was in bed? Or other semi- normal stuff? Today didn’t seem to be a good day for people watching. Or eavesdropping, for that matter.

Sighing, Spike started to get up. Maybe a different vantage point would yield something interesting. And that’s when he heard it. It was a quiet sound. Too quiet for human ears to pick up over the din of the office in the afternoon. It was soft. So out of place in the big office building. A gentle sound.

A cat’s plaintive meow.

Curious now, Spike got up and started slowly following the sound. He peered under desks, and inside potted plants, but while the sound continued to get louder, he simply couldn’t seem to find it’s source.

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” he called quietly. “C’mon out…” Suddenly, he saw it. A flash of black tail disappearing down the stairs, toward the labs. “Ah-ha. There you are…” He sped up, but by the time he got to the stairs, the cat was gone. And he couldn’t hear it’s meow anymore. The vampire’s brow furrowed. How had a cat gotten in, anyway? It had to slip in when someone was going in or out the main doors. He shrugged, then started down the stairs. Maybe Fred had seen it.

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Fred was mumbling to herself as she peered through a microscope. Demon blood was always fascinating to examine, simply because it was so… different. Unique. And Fred liked unique things. But something was… blocking her view through the microscope. Since when did demon blood contain large black hairs?

She raised her head and blinked in surprise… because there was a small black and white cat sitting on the table next to the microscope… and a couple of hairs from the tip of it’s tail were resting over her slide. THAT is what she’d seen. Fred smiled immediately. She’d always liked cats. Her parents had several on the farm that were SUPPOSED to be mousers, but Fred had basically adopted all of them and turned them into pets. It had been a long time since she’d seen a cat, though.

“Hello, little kitty…”, she whispered, gently petting the small cat’s head and smiling at it’s instant purr. “Where did you come from?” She blinked. “You aren’t like… some witch or something, right? Because I don’t think you’d let me pet you if you were…” She smiled when the cat simply got up, walked over to her, and nuzzled it’s head against her gently. “Okay. Not a witch. But a very sweet kitty…” She looked up as Spike came down the stairs. “Spike! Look at this.”

Spike grinned instantly. “You found it. Great… I was followin’ that little bugger from upstairs.” He came over and started petting the cat’s back, but his brow furrowed suddenly. “Bloody hell… The little thing’s starvin’… I can feel all of ‘er ribs, and her spine…”

“What?”, Fred said, an upset tone instantly present in her voice. But Spike was right. When you ran your hand down the cat’s back, you could easily feel all her ribs, and every little bump of her spine. “Oh no…” The girl brightened, however, when something occurred to her. “Ooh! That means she doesn’t belong to anyone. At least, not anyone who cares about her.” She grinned at Spike. “Which means we can keep her!”

Spike laughed quietly, but nodded. “Yeah… Look, try to keep ‘er here. She’s such a tiny thing, if she runs off, I might not be able to find her again. I’m gonna go get the guys… See who wants to make a run down to PetCo to get the essentials for the little one.” He stroked the cat’s head and smiled at her purr. “She’s a sweet little thing, too…”

Fred giggled and nodded, scooping the cat into her arms and hugging the little thing gently. “She’s black and white… Like a tuxedo.” A sudden grin. “Ooh! That could be her name! Let’s call her ‘Tuxedo’.”

Spike laughed quietly. “Tux for short. I like it.” He petted the cat one last time, then turned and jogged up the stairs. “I’m sure everyone’ll love her. I mean, how can someone NOT love a little face like that?”, he thought to himself as he went to find the others.

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“What?” The response was a chorus, as everyone from Fred and Spike, to Gunn, Wesley, Lorne, and even Harmony protested Angel’s instant answer to their request to keep Tuxedo.

“I said ‘no’,” Angel answered tersely. “It’s a cat. They shed, and claw, and throw up hairballs all over the place. And I don’t want one in my office.”

Spike stepped forward from the group of shocked humans… and Harmony… and growled at Angel quietly. “Mate, c’mon… She’s just a LITTLE cat. You won’t even know she’s here… We can take care of her.”

Angel shook his head. “I don’t want it anywhere near me, Spike. Take it to a shelter or something. But it can’t stay here.”

Fred looked like she was going to cry, as she cradled Tuxedo to her chest, wrapped in a shirt Spike had offered her to use as a blanket. “But Angel… She’s starving. If we give her to a shelter, they might decide it’ll be too much trouble to nurse her back to health… And they’ll put her to sleep. They’d kill her.”

Angel’s jaw was set, though, and he shook his head again. “I don’t care. It. Is. A. CAT. Get it out of here. Now, Fred.”

Wesley cleared his throat quietly. “If I might offer a compromise?” Everyone looked at the former Watcher. Wesley, for his part, stood straight and addressed Angel directly. “We keep the cat on a trial basis, while WE nurse her back to health. Then, if you still don’t want to keep her, we take her to a shelter. Then she’d at least have a chance of finding a new home.”

Angel sighed quietly, as basically everyone in the room… Tuxedo excluded, of course… gave him their own versions of sad-puppy eyes. He started to shake his head again, then raised an eyebrow when Spike stepped forward.

“Please, mate?”, his Childe asked quietly, pleading with basically his entire body. “It won’t be for too long… And we’ll have saved a life. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doin’ here?”

Angel opened his mouth, then gave a long sigh and rubbed his forehead with two fingers. “It’s a CAT’S life, though,” he muttered under his breath. But Spike could see he’d gotten through. Sometimes it was good to know just how to exploit… that is, to… take advantage… of a Sire’s soft spot for his Childe. “Fine,” the older vampire muttered after awhile. “But keep it the hell away from me. Got it?”

There was a resounding chorus of ‘yes’, and Fred even came over, cat in arms, to give Angel a hug. Angel pulled back however, because she was still holding the cat. “I want to be clear, now,” Angel said quietly as the group calmed down. “It stays away from me. I don’t want to see a single shed hair on anything that belongs to me. I don’t want any of my stuff shredded, or puked on, or any of the other myriad of things cats do to belongings. Keep it away from me, or the deal is off.”

There was another overwhelming agreement… But no one noticed the way the cat’s little eyes almost seemed to burst with love upon getting close to Angel when Fred tried to hug him. Little Tuxedo was in love… And there was no way she wanted to be away from that nice person behind the desk now. She’d just have to find a way.

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Days passed, and it became obvious to the gang that they were going to have quite a few problems keeping their promise to Angel. For one thing, Tuxedo had a tendency to slip away from whoever was watching her. And, inexplicably, she’d almost always wind up in Angel’s office, or his suite.

After yelling at his crew and threatening to ‘skin the little thing’ if she was ever near him again, several times, Angel finally gave up. Nothing he could do could get them to keep the cat away from him. The damned creature seemed to have some kind of attachment to him. Which was stupid, because he hated cats. He’d hated cats ever since he was human. His family had kept barn cats, you see, and one day when Angel was young, he’d had to go into the barn for something. He couldn’t even remember what, now. But he remembered the sight of those evil yellow eyes glaring down from the hayloft, just before the living buzzsaw decided to drop down on him and claw him up like a mouse. He still had a scar from where the cat’s claws had dug into his scalp, just behind his ear. Buffy had asked him about that injury, once. But Angel, being Angel, had just told her that it came from a demon.

And, in his mind, that was true.

From that day on, he’d believed cats were pure evil. Agents of Satan himself, bent on causing Angel as much pain as possible. Every time in his life that he’d run into a cat, something bad had happened. He’d get hurt, or emotionally wounded… Or nearly destroyed by some magic later on the same night. ALWAYS. Never had a cat heralded good things for him. Ever.

Now, day after day, he found himself having to shove Tuxedo off his chair before sitting in it. He had to feed it in the kitchen of his suite, because the damned thing wouldn’t EAT anywhere else, or when anyone else served it’s food. AND, he found himself having to wash balls of cat hair down his sink, and brush off his black pants with a lint roller, just to get the white hairs off of them, Angel KNEW something bad was going to happen. And the longer it went without happening, the worse the bad thing was going to be when it finally DID happen. He knew it.

And if the days kept going like this, he was starting to be sure that this little cat was the herald of an Apocalypse.

Angel would wake up, and find the little thing curled up, purring, on the pillow next to his head. Staring at him with those freaky green eyes it had. He’d go to get something to eat, and TRIP on the stupid cat, because it was trying to wind around his legs. He’d put down food for it, the way Fred had showed him after it became obvious that Tux wasn’t going to eat food put down by anyone else, and the little demon wound practically claw and bite his hand in it’s frenzy to get to the food.

He’d get dressed, and there’d be cat hair all over EVERYTHING in his closet. He’d go to put on shoes, and find a fucking HAIRBALL in one of them. After he put it on, of course. Because when he looked, it was never there. But when he was in a hurry and forgot to look… Of course, that was when he’d find that it had left him a ‘gift’.

And hairballs weren’t the only thing the creature presented him with. He’ll never forget the day he woke up to find a dead mouse in his bed. Put there where there was no WAY he could miss it. That stupid, sadistic feline had put it there on purpose, so he woke up with the tiny corpse only an inch from his nose. It had been a long time since Angel had woken up screaming, but he did it that day. NO ONE wants to wake up with dead rodent eyes staring you in the face. Especially when they’re accompanied by those irritating green ones, watching from that intelligent black and white face, another few inches away.

Tuxedo, for her part, didn’t seem to realize what a royal pain in the ass she was. The mouse was a gift. Her first kill, given to the nice man who gave her food every day. So she’d brought him something she prized in return. Why, when he’d shouted at her because of it, she’d puffed up with pride. He was no doubt trying to express how wonderful a hunter she was, and how much he loved her gift. She’d watched as he picked up the mouse by the tail and carried it off to the kitchen. No doubt wanting to eat in private. She could understand that. Many predators liked to drag the prey off before they eat it.

And she didn’t understand enough about the human world to recognize the sound of a garbage can opening and closing, either.

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Time wore on, day after day. Angel had almost gotten used to the… thing that insisted on monopolizing his bed, or chair, or wherever it was he wanted to be at that moment. The stupid fuzzball seemed to have a supernatural ability to zoom in on wherever he wanted to sit, and get there first.

Tuxedo, for her part, simply figured that if she got where her friend was going, he would touch her. She’d learned that the man she loved so much didn’t like to pet her the way all the other people in the big building did. So to get him to at least touch her, she put herself somewhere that the man would have to move her. Because when he moved her, he picked her up. And when he picked her up, his hand would sometimes slide down her back, or over her head. It was the perfect reward, as far as she was concerned.

But she couldn’t spend all her time with the man. Sometimes he forgot she was too small to open doors, and closed one before she could get into the room with him. This upset her, of course. But there were other people around who would talk to her and pet her. She just had to go find them. And she’d learned pretty much exactly where all of them liked to stay. However, sometimes they were just too far away from her man. So she’d sacrifice her own desire to be petted in favor of staying somewhere where she could watch for the door to be opened. And the moment it was open, she’d zoom in as quickly as possible, and plant herself on the desk in front of her man. She purred loudly when he raised his voice to her. It was a pure form of affection, and she knew it. And, if he’d really missed her, he’d pick her up and move her.

She’d also noticed that, as the days went on, he had less and less of a tendency to put her down on the cold floor. Which was nice, because the floor was sometimes slippery, and very chilly to her warm little paws. Instead, he’d put her on some other piece of furniture in whatever room they happened to be in. She took this as the highest form of love from the man. He wanted her to stay close to him. Higher up off the floor, like he was when he stood up. And it was nice for another reason… Her man had tripped on her several times while she had been trying to express her love by rubbing on his legs. If he put her up on something, he couldn’t trip on her. And she could see him a lot clearer than she could from the floor. That made her happy.

Angel sighed to himself as he, once again, removed the stupid cat from the exact center of his desk and set it on the table that ran behind him. It was too much trouble to bend down and put it on the floor. Especially when he was aching all over from an encounter with a none-too-friendly demon earlier that night. His ribs ached, his back hurt, his neck was twisted, and he’d almost broken a leg in the encounter. So much for the safety of being a CEO.

But he’d filled out the paperwork dealing with the demon’s removal, so now all he had to do was get to bed and take some well deserved rest while he healed. He got up, slowly, trying to ignore the pain radiating from seemingly everywhere, and headed for his private elevator. He didn’t bother glancing back and down… He could hear that damned animal hopping down from the table to follow him. It followed him EVERYWHERE. Even when he tried to lock it out, the first time someone opened the door, it always got back in. But at the moment, his pain was all he cared about, as he got into the elevator, then sighed and pressed the button to hold the doors open, waiting for the little cat. Fred had admonished him the ONE time he’d left her down in the offices and locked his elevator, because the dumb thing had simply sat in front of the cold elevator doors and meowed all night. It had broken Fred’s heart when she’d come in the next morning to find that the cat had almost lost it’s voice, and was obviously hungry again…

Then again, when WASN’T it hungry? He fed it two cans of cat food a day, on top of having the dry food Spike had picked out for it sitting in two bowls… one in the kitchen of Angel’s suite, and the other in the corner of his office. The two rooms the cat was in almost constantly, because ANGEL was in there almost constantly. If the feline had been human, Angel would’ve been convinced that he had a stalker. But, then again, if it was human… or just about ANYTHING other than a ‘cute kitty’, he wouldn’t have been stuck babysitting it constantly.

The vampire sighed as he stepped out of his elevator, absently listening to the padding of little paws as the cat followed right behind his feet. He headed into the bathroom, stripping off his shirt as he went, and examined the purple/yellow bruise on his side that marked cracked ribs. Carefully pushing with his hands, gritting his teeth to keep from growling in pain, he managed to get the bones back in place. Then he grabbed one of the many ace bandages he kept in the bathroom for just such occasions, and carefully wrapped up his own ribs.

Tuxedo hopped up on the toilet’s closed lid, then up again onto the bathroom counter. She was too small to make the jump directly from the floor to the counter, and she gave a worried mew when she saw her man bandaging himself. She understood enough about people to know he was in pain, and that worried her. She sat down, but tried to reach out with a paw to touch the bandage, and purred when her man started talking to her.

“Don’t you dare,” Angel muttered under his breath to the cat. He felt like an idiot for talking to the dumb little thing, but he wanted to take out his pain on someone. And it was the cat’s own fault for not leaving him alone. “Why can’t you just leave me alone? I hate you. You’re a freaking CAT, for God’s sake. I hate your beady little green eyes, and your hair that gets ALL OVER EVERYTHING I OWN, and your stupid swishy tail that keeps tripping me. I hate that I have to refill your damned food bowls two or three times a day, on TOP of having to give you that stinking fish-smelling canned food every morning and every night. I hate that you interrupt my sleep with your meowing or purring, or sticking your damned claws in me.” Angel vamped, then snarled right in the cat’s face. “THIS is what you’re so fucking attached to, cat. If I were the only one here, I’d eat you in a second and be done with it.”

Tuxedo blinked her large green eyes very slowly, and her head tilted to the side as she considered her man’s new face. He had teeth and eyes like a cat… Like her! He was a cat-man. She knew she loved him for some reason. Standing up on her hind legs slightly, but more just rocking back on her haunches, she brought one small, soft paw up and lightly touched the ridges above the pretty gold eyes her man had now.

Angel blinked at the cat’s soft touch. At any other time in his life, all he’d had to do to get rid of any animal he didn’t like was to show it his vampire face, and it would run away. But this cat wasn’t even intelligent enough to run away from something that wanted to eat it. He snorted and pulled back, glaring at the cat through still gold eyes, then shook his head to rid himself of the vampire visage… And winced badly when the action caused his neck to pull painfully. “Ow. Damnit,” he muttered. “Now look what you made me do.”

Rubbing his neck with one hand, Angel turned and headed into his bedroom, sighing and rolling his eyes as he heard the cat again follow him. There was NOTHING he could do to get rid of the stupid thing. He crawled onto the bed and stretched out, laying down, and didn’t even bother looking at the cat when it climbed up the side of the bed… It was too short to hop that distance… and crawled up to try and cuddle against his side. Immediately, Angel shoved the cat away and moved away from it. “Don’t touch me, you brainless thing.”

Tuxedo sighed quietly, and laid her head on her paws. But the moment her man was asleep, she slowly got up and walked over, then cuddled against him once again. It was one of the few times she could touch him for any extended period, and so she made use of it every chance she got. But it was getting harder and harder for her to get up onto the bed at night. She’d been getting heavier, and something deep inside her kept telling her to just keep eating. So she ate constantly, listening to her own instincts. Preparing her body for what was to come.

Maybe somewhere, deep inside, she knew what was happening. And how it would undoubtably end. But she was doing all she could with the time she had left. Maybe tomorrow she’d catch a present for her man. A nice mouse, or something equally wonderful for him. The problem would be getting down to the hunting grounds in the basement of the big building. Stairs weren’t as easy as they used to be, at her new, heavier weight. But she’d do it.

For her man, she’d do anything…

Chapter 2