matrixrefugee: the word 'refugee' in electric green with a background of green matrix code (Firefly/Serenity)
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Author's Note: Written for [ profile] comment_fic's "Firefly, Mal + crew, Serenity acquires a cat. Mal doesn't want it onboard. The crew does. Shenanigans ensue!"

Mal wasn't sure where the cat came from in the first place: likely it had snuck in when they were docked on Persephone, either in a crate of goods, or more likely it had just traipsed in on it's own. More likely the latter, the way the grey tabby strutted along the companionways and catwalks of the ship, as if it owned the ship.

Kaylee started calling it Pete, and it wasn't unusual to find the cat purring on her toolbox as she quiddled about the engines or whatever else neede fixing. Inara called it Bast, after some long ago goddess of cats and dancing; the cat would follow her about, playfully batting at the hem of her exotic skirts or curled up next to her on a cushion. Wash would playfully tweak the cat's tail, and the cat would just as playfully nip at his fingers. River would sit for hours on end, staring into the cat's eyed, talking to it, or you'd spot her dancing with it, twirling gracefully as the cat capered with her: maybe the cat wasn't so bad, if it kept her out of trouble. Even Simon would scratch the thing's head when it would head butt his hand.

It was almost comical watching Jayne getting all mushy over the fur ball, which he'd dubbed "Grab-All" on account of the way the cat pounced on the bits of cloth on a string he dragged about for it. Or watching it get up on Book's shoulder to try chewing his ponytail, which the Shepherd would tolerate with an amused smirk.

But the cat overstayed it's welcome when it decided Mal's bunk was a great place to snooze, leaving cat hair under the blankets. Or when it hopped up into his lap to sniff at his food at the dinnertable, and nip at a few choice bites. That was the last straw. The night Pete/Bast/Grab-All took a bite of his food, Mal had had enough; he got up suddenly, dumping the hairball on the floor. The cat let out an irate rowl, glaring up at him. The rest of the crew burst out laughing, which only grew louder as the cat strode out of the galley, tail erect, flipping it as if it were flipping him the bird.

"Afraid of cat cooties, Captain?" Zoe asked, dryly.

"No, I just don't like animals that challenge a man's authority," Mal replied, glaring after the cat. That just brought more hilarity from the crew.

"Poor little kitty-cat was just hungry," Kaylee said, trying to pout sympathetically, but failing because she was laughing too hard.

"Well then, you give him something', I ain't volunteerin' my eats to a stowaway," Mal snipped.

"The cat has been earning his keep: he caught a mouse that was hiding under a cabinet," Simon pointed out.

"There's always traps for that, we don't need a four-legged martinet traipsin' around here," Mal said.

"If I might ask, what's wrong with keeping a cat?" Zoe asked.

"Animals on boats is always trouble, trust me," Mal said, sitting down again, with less appetite than before. "Shipped onna boat where one a' th' crew had a pet monkey. Damn thing used t' screech half the time."

"A cat isn't likely to screech, unless it's calling for a mate," Book argued.

"The cat came back," River said. Mal looked toward the door to the companionway. Nothing there, but a moment later, the cat poked it's head around the door jamb and padded back into the room, non- chalantly, as if it hadn't been sent packing moments ago.
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