nsync in black and white

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment


The door from his tiny kitchen into the back garden was open, and Chris was singing along with the radio as he stirred the pot of chili, when there was a whoosh of air past his legs as his pug, Buster, hurtled through with all the speed his absurd little body could manage. In hot pursuit, and not at all deterred by Chris's presence, was a large black cat.

"Hey!" Chris bellowed, and followed the fleeing pair into his sitting room. The interloper was sitting upright on the spare chair, looking as though it owned the place. Buster was cowering under the chair, the picture of misery.

"You!" said Chris, sternly. "Out!"

The cat looked at him with mild curiosity. Buster, snuffling, skittered across the parquet floor to his master's legs and pleaded silently for rescue. There was nothing in the world, Chris thought, more woeful than an unhappy pug. He advanced on the cat, which stared at him with wide, untroubled green eyes.

The doorbell rang.

Buster, naturally, objected to this, and was so vociferous about it that Chris decided evicting the cat would have to wait. Though it was probably just the local Jehovah's Witnesses doing the rounds again. Why they thought Battersea was promising territory for converts, Chris would never understand. Or perhaps it was a hazing ritual for tender new recruits.

Not Jehovah's Witnesses. If the fact that there was only one of him hadn't given it away, the tattoos would have made things pretty clear. Skinny guy in sleeveless black, nicely inked arms, dark brown eyes, and eyelashes Chris's sisters would have killed for.

"Er, hi," said the guy. "It's about the cat."

"Is it yours?"

"Not... exactly," said the guy, with a quick smile. "It sorta showed up at my door a while ago, and I've been feeding it, but I saw it come into your place and I wondered if... but it's not yours?"

"No," said Chris. With Buster yapping hysterically it was hardly necessary to note that he had a dog. "Look, come in. You wanna take it away?" He stepped back, and ushered the skinny—gorgeous skinny guy inside. "I think it's giving my dog a complex."

"Hey there." The newcomer bent and offered Buster a hand to sniff. Buster, idiotically friendly as always, indicated that he loved his new human and would very much like to be scratched.

The cat, meanwhile, had made itself comfortable and was plausibly impersonating a cushion.

"Hmm," said the visitor, looking at the cat rather doubtfully. "You're sure it's not yours? Looks pretty much at home here."

"Nope," said Chris, cheerfully. "And I'm guessing Buster here wouldn't be best pleased if it takes up residence."

"No." The visitor grinned. "I think they pretty much established which one's in charge, didn't they?" He gave Buster a comforting pat.

"How come you saw what happened?"

"I live in the top flat opposite, other side of your garden fence. I've seen this little chap playing outside lots of times. Slinky here was down in our garden and suddenly took off over the fence and after your dog. I thought I'd better come round and see what the damage might be. Oh, I'm AJ." He held out a hand. Chris shook it, and gave his own name. "Uh, do I smell something burning?"

"Ack!" Chris shot back into the kitchen and turned off the gas under the rice. He poked around with a spoon, but the damage wasn't too bad.

"Is it okay?" AJ was leaning against the door frame.

"Bit burnt on the bottom, but not too bad. Mostly edible, anyway. I never get rice right."

"I don't even try. I just nuke stuff from Sainsburys. Oh, hello." The black cat was rubbing against his legs. "You know, I'm not the one with the food here," he pointed out to the rumbling animal. The cat stared at him, then advanced upon Chris. It purred, and twined hopefully round his shins.

"I might have some fish in the freezer," Chris said.

"Oh, no, I didn't mean, I just, I didn't mean you should feed him."

"Nah, it's no problem. He'll probably eat Buster's dinner if I don't." Buster, standing in the middle of the sitting room, was looking extremely forlorn. "Uh... do you, wanna try some home cooking? It's just chilli, but there's plenty. It's nice to meet an actual neighbour," Chris explained hastily. "It's not that I don't know anybody in London, but they're all over the place and most of them refuse to come south of the river."

"And whinge about the lack of tube lines, I know all about it. Their loss." The visitor grinned, and that was a pretty sight. "And if you're serious about the chilli? That'd be much appreciated."

A few minutes later the two of them were on the sofa with bowls of really very good chilli and not-too-burnt rice on their laps. Buster was at one end of the kitchen, warily eating his dinner with one eye on the cat, which was daintily addressing a bowl of steaming fish, fresh from the microwave, by hoisting out a morsel at a time with a paw and eating it from the floor.

By the end of the evening, Buster had resigned himself to the presence of the cat, and was tucked firmly against Chris's thigh while the cat draped itself over AJ's lap. Chris and AJ had exchanged views on topics ranging from the desirability of living with a train line at the bottom of the road, to whether Boris should be strung up or merely dropped off Westminster Bridge, to the best place in Battersea to get a tattoo, and had agreed to go and see the new Bond film together at the weekend. Chris wasn't actually sure whether Friday evening would end with some kind of sexual gratification, but his hopes were quite high.


Strictly speaking the goodnight kiss on Friday night didn't count as sexual gratification, although if it had gone on much longer, Chris thought, it might well have done. Still, it led to walking Buster in the park together on Saturday, and then lunch in the pub, and then dancing, and Sunday in bed. Really one of the better weekends of his life.

It wasn't until the following weekend that they compared notes and found that neither of them had been feeding the cat.


Three streets away, ignoring the noise of its surroundings and the chaos of the little kitchen, the cat was looking on impatiently as its new human unpacked the shopping.

"Okay, okay, no need to head-butt me, I got you Whiskas, just let me get—oi, Frank! Where have you silly fuckers hidden the tin opener?"


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