As it was, she held her post as we fell through the door with my stuff. I cried out her name and in response, she stood up and turned her back on me, pushing her nose into the air in disgust before she sauntered off with displeasure oozing from her every pore. I wasn't having it though. I swooped down and scooped her up into my arms before she could escape. She yowled loudly in protest, but having flipped her onto her back so that I could rub her belly while cradling her in my arms, it wasn't long before the first purrs began to escape.
Bless, she tried so hard not to oblige. Her first purr was very quiet and cut short, but soon, as I cooed and wooed her, she succumbed and was purring like a little steam engine rhythmically pumping its pistons as her tummy rose and fell with her breathing.
"You and that cat, Jen! It's quite sickening the way you mollycoddle her!" Al laughed, screwing her face up in feigned disgust, but as I tipped Beastie into her arms, she too proceeded to rock her like a baby.
I laughed to myself as I ordered up a cup of builder's tea from the replicator. It was a special blend I had programmed in which had proven popular with a number of the other crew members too. Never mind the delicate nuances of Earl Gray or the subtle aromas of your lapsang souchong. Give me a cup of good, strong, mixed blend tea with a dash of milk—not stewed, but toffee-coloured—and never mind your fancy cups. Nothing less than a mug full, but china, not pottery. Tea goes cold in pottery mugs too quickly, but china acts as an insulator helping to keep the tea hot.
With mug in hand, I settled on the sofa and let out a long, deep sigh of satisfaction. Al settled herself on a chair opposite me, spreading Beastie out along her lap so that she lay sprawled, her paws dangling limply in the air. Al cradled her head in her hands and spoke softly to her, rubbing her face against Beastie's.
"Of course, you're not soft with her at all, are you?" I teased.
Al looked up just long enough to stick her tongue out at me and then returned to her feline fussing.
It was lovely to be home and I could have sat there for hours. Sadly, it was not to be. My communicator chimed, as did Al's. It was the captain.
"Cadets Terran and Johnson, please report to my ready room."
Her voice was harsh and officious. We both looked at each other, wondering what we could possibly have done wrong now.