Fandom: Sky High
Characters: Warren Peace, Layla
Word Count: 2,066
Spoilers: All of the film
Warnings: Extreme Cuteness!
Disclaimer: Sky High is owned by Disney. I make no money.
Notes: This is a plot bunny. It pounced on me demanded to be written. So I wrote it. It’s a stand-alone one-shot, but if you’re reading War and Peace In Mind, this could be put in anywhere after chapter five.
Summary: Layla wrangles Warren into volunteering at an animal shelter. Wacky hijinks ensue!
It was all Layla’s fault. I lay the blame entirely at her feet for this entire fiasco. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t currently have someone in my bed, waiting very impatiently for me to finish my homework so I can join her. It’s distracting! And… also kind of nice. In a weird kind of way.
“So… I’m glad to see the voodoo lily is still alive,” Layla was saying from my doorway.
It was late on a Thursday night, and we had just finished our usual study session at my house. I had been trying to get down the final measurements on the plant before I finally crashed, and had wanted to wait until the rest of the group cleared out before I finished up. The weird-looking tropical plant Layla had given me for Christmas must have been a good three feet tall or so, and I didn’t want my friends horsing around next to it while I worked.
“Yeah, it’s my botany project,” I offered. “Mrs. Thortenson gave us our choice of mid-term projects this semester, this was mine.”
“Um… what are you doing to that poor plant?” she asked with trepidation.
“Seeing if it grows better with different fertilizers. Specifically wood ash,” I explained, keeping my face perfectly straight. Layla giggled.
“Well, I guess you’d have plenty of that,” she offered.
“Yeah. Toss me one of those blocks over there,” I said, pointing to a box of wood scraps.
Layla shrugged and threw one over to me. I powered up to catch it and burn it at the same time, and Layla suddenly stared behind me with a shocked expression.
I don’t know if it was because I was tired, or what, but somehow I had inadvertently powered up both hands. The second of which had been on the plant itself. Which was now burning merrily away. I froze for a half second before powering down and grabbing a glass of water and dousing the fire.
Layla looked horrified, probably a mirror of the expression on my face.
“Oh no… that’s due next week,” I said faintly, looking at the charred plant in disbelief. I was usually so much better at controlling my flames and now… This is ridiculous! Mrs. Thortenson isn’t going to accept this excuse either. “My homework got burned,” was about as much of a lame excuse as “my dog ate it” at Sky High. Particularly with me.
“Warren, if you want, I can regrow it for you,” Layla offered. I was surprised; Layla was just a short step below Ethan in her disapproval of academic fraud, but she was also looking at the plant like I had just killed one of her pets.
“I would seriously owe you one,” I said gratefully.
“Done,” she said, and stretched out her hand to the pot. Within seconds, the lily was back in full bloom, completely at odds with the charred, soaked pot.
“So, will you come with my to the animal shelter tomorrow after school?” she asked cheerfully. I opened my mouth to protest, and then Layla looked pointedly at the plant next to her.
“What do I have to do?” I asked instead.
“Socialize the cats,” she said sweetly.
“Socialize the cats?” I repeated in a strangled tone of voice.
“Sure, I wouldn’t make you clean litter boxes or anything. Besides, cats love you. And the poor kitties at the shelter spend almost all day in their cages. Being played with by the volunteers for a few minutes each day is all the freedom they get.”
Well, ok, cats did seem to like me. Layla had six cats, and every time I went over I seemed to collect at least three. They would follow me around, meowing until I finally sat down, and then at least two would take possession of my lap. I think her mom somehow worked out a rotation between the six, because it was never the same two in a row. Mrs. Evans told me it was just because I was warm. And the cats thought I was quiet and smelled nice. I made her swear to never repeat that in the presence of anyone I knew.
“Will was going to come with me, but his parents have some big thing that he promised he’d help with. Do you mind? It’d be a quick way of clearing your debt,” she added cheekily. I finally nodded reluctantly.
“I’ll just be a couple of hours Warren, seriously, it’s not that bad. Maybe you’ll find a pet to adopt!” I rolled my eyes and finally shooed her out the door.
Layla knew better than to mention anything at school about me having a sudden interest in helping cute fuzzy animals, or at least she did after I shot her a couple of death glares every time she opened her mouth. It wasn’t that I objected to volunteering at an animal shelter. I didn’t dislike animals. I actually rather liked Layla’s cats, truth be told. But… well… I wasn’t a cute and fuzzy kind of guy. It was the same reason I didn’t want anyone to know that I wrote poetry, or drew, or sang in the shower.
Layla picked me up in the afternoon, though I did make her park in the alley instead of the street so I could slip out the back door.
“You’re going to wear your leather jacket?” Layla asked when I got in her car.
“So my shirt doesn’t get fur on it.”
“And they can’t scratch me.”
“I’ve never seen a cat scratch you before anyway. Besides, you’re indestructible.”
“It still hurts,” I reminded her.
“It’s just some cats Warren, we’re not going into a fight!”
At the shelter, I was relieved to see no one I knew. I didn’t think my fragile bad-boy reputation would survive being seen going into the Maxville Humane Society. Layla drew me into the back, and I wrinkled my nose a bit at the inevitable odor of dozens of animals living in very close proximity to each other. My nose would go numb eventually, but these places always smelled awful at first.
She steered me in front of the rows of cat cages and handed me the sign-in sheet. She also tried to hand me a volunteer’s smock and a nametag, but after I crisped the nametag to ash, she just put on the smock herself.
“Just write down which cat you took, for how long, and anything you noticed about them when you played with them,” she said cheerfully. “There’s some visitor rooms over there you can use so the dogs don’t go crazy.” With that she traipsed away to go do… whatever the heck it was she did here.
I looked at the cats. The cats all suddenly uncurled from their beds, stopped their washing, and padded to the front of their cages to stare at me. I suddenly felt like a very large mouse.
This is ridiculous, I said to myself, and unlocked the first cage. The black and brown striped cat sat there for a moment, then suddenly leapt into my arms. I stared at it in surprise, wondering if Layla had managed to slip a catnip mouse into my pocket or something. The cat just looked up at me rather impatiently, and gave me the same look Layla’s cats always did when I wasn’t sitting down. Why aren’t you making a lap for me? the look said, as clear as if I had Mrs. Evan’s powers. I obediently retreated to the visitors’ room and plopped into an overstuffed chair. The cat promptly curled up and purred.
See? That wasn’t so hard. I said to myself. I tentatively petted the cat, and the purring increased in volume. It’s kinda relaxing even…
Two hours later…
“That’s so cute! Let me get a picture, this is just priceless!” I heard someone saying. I knew that voice. That was Layla’s voice. Why would she be saying that? There was a clicking sound and I opened my eyes, a sudden sinking feeling in my stomach.
Layla was standing in the doorway of the visitor’s room, holding her camera phone, two other girls in visitor’s smocks on either side of her. I realized I was somewhat weighted down, and took a second to take stock. There was a cat on my lap, one on each foot, one kind of half-cradled in each arm, one each half-draped over a shoulder, and one half on the top of the chair, half flopped on my head. With its paws dangling in my eyes. And Layla had just gotten a picture of me apparently snoozing, completely covered in cats.
She now needed to die.
But if I got mad and moved, the cats would be disturbed, and I really didn’t want to do that. Yet if I didn’t move, she was going to parade half of Maxville past this room to see how cute I was. Catch-22. I settled for a death glare.
“As soon as I get my hands on that phone, it’s slag,” I threatened.
“But you’d have to get up first. And you’d have to disturb the kitties,” she pointed out. I glared some more. “How did you get eight cats in here anyway?”
“Umm… they just kept showing up. I only took out one!” I protested. I vaguely recalled at least one coming in through the cat door before I must have drifted off.
“The other seven live here, but Trixie is from the first cage,” one of the other girls said.
“Come on, we’ll get them out of here.” In a few minutes they had de-catted me, and I was left with just the original cat in my lap, who was still entirely disinclined to move.
“Aw… I love Trixie,” Layla said with a smile at the cat, kneeling down to scratch the top of her head. “She has kind of a sad story.”
“Don’t they all have sad stories?” I asked. I could see where this was going; she was going to feed me some kind of sob story so I’d feel sorry for the cat and then adopt it. Wasn’t going to happen.
“Well yeah, but Trixie’s is really sad. Her owners divorced and moved to separate apartments, neither of which allowed cats. So instead of trying to find a home for her themselves, they gave her to the shelter. She was just abandoned by the people she loved… it’s so sad. And she’s usually not that friendly with strangers, but you have her all charmed.”
I was glaring at Layla again, but since she was looking down at the cat, the best I could manage was the back of her head.
“You set this up. Damn, will all of you just stop trying to run my life for me?” I said a little heatedly. Layla looked indignant.
“I didn’t burn your plant. I didn’t pick this cat out. And I didn’t fall asleep with a purring cat in my lap. You both must have felt pretty comfortable with each other,” she said evenly. I was a little mollified, and even thought about apologizing, but Trixie chose that moment to stretch up a bit and bonk me on the chin with her head. It was unexpectedly heartwarming, and I found myself smiling back at her, scratching her on the chin. She purred louder and licked my hand.
“Aww… they only do that if they like you,” Layla said, grinning. I wiped the smile from my face.
“I’m sure,” I said shortly. The cat put her paws on my shoulder, looked me right in the face, and rubbed her cheek to mine, purring loudly all the while. Layla was holding back another exclamation of extreme cuteness by a thin margin, I could tell, but wisely didn’t say anything.
“Get me the adoption form,” I growled.
I finally finished my botany report, and printed off a few copies. Trixie watched me from the bed with a long-suffering air, and I finally relented and got ready to sleep. Trixie waited impatiently for me to finish burying myself under the blankets, then carefully arranged herself under them but on top of me, and started purring.
I looked around my darkened room a little before I spoke, mostly out of habit.
“Good kitty,” I whispered to her.
“Mrow,” she agreed.
This is a piece of fanart drawn for this fic by Ihni, from FanFiction.net and DeviantArt. Let her know how much this piece rocks!