"Mrowr." That's all the warning John got before Ronon started pulling at his lead with all the delicate gentleness of a freight train.
"Okay, buddy," John said, picking up his pace. "You're the boss."
Ronon flicked his tail in acknowledgement and kept walking.
It was a nice day - nearly warm and almost spring-like, though John had long since stopped trusting New York winters. There could easily have been a crapload of snow hiding in the near future, and as much as Ronon disliked walking in the rain, he loathed walking in the snow.
But, still - nice day. There was an easy breeze, the sidewalks weren't too crowded, and the city seemed poised on the edge of something. Nice day, nice walk with the cat, upcoming weekend with Rodney - everything was great. Everything except the fact that he'd utterly fucked up his life and kind of wanted to throw himself under a bus.
It mostly came down to law school. Fordham was a beautiful campus with an excellent program - many of the country's top lawyers were on the faculty. It was fantastic. John hated it. He hated it from Monday morning to noon at Friday, when his last class let out and he made his way across town to Rodney's place. His class load meant that he couldn't walk Ronon every day, but he always made it on Friday. If it was a flying weekend, he'd walk Ronon and try to have lunch with Rodney before heading to Monmouth. If it was a Rodney weekend, he'd walk Ronon and then generally sprawl naked across the bed until Rodney came home from the lab.
Each kind of weekend had its advantages.
Flying weekends had the sky, but Rodney weekends...well, Rodney weekends had everything else.
On flying weekends, he braved the bus-train-bus-bus trek to get to Red's house, had dinner with the family and crashed hard in the tiny guest room at the top of the stairs. He'd spend all day Saturday and Sunday either in the air or working on the planes and helicopters at Red's school, stopping only to eat and sleep. He'd reverse the long ride home to Brooklyn, then buckle down for another endless week of school.
On Rodney weekends, he left Lincoln Center at best speed, feeling a huge weight lift as he stepped over the threshold of Rodney's house and braced himself for Ronon's enthusiastic greeting. Later, he'd brace himself for Rodney's enthusiastic greeting and they'd loll in bed until hunger chased them to the kitchen. At first, John had left on Sunday afternoons, then Sunday evenings, then nights, and then, finally, he'd switched to staying until Monday morning, leaving with Rodney and parting ways at the train station.
So, the weekends were awesome - it was just the weeks that were killing him. Rodney had been patient. Well, patient for Rodney, but he was starting to ask John leading questions like, "What do you really want to be when you grow up?" and he'd left a brochure for NYU's Aeronautics program on the bedside table the previous weekend and the FAFSA website on the monitor of his third-favorite laptop, the one John used when he was in residence. He'd also dropped oddly shy hints about John moving in with him, rapidly changing the subject if John seemed interested.
It was things like that that made John pretty sure he was going to break the Guy Code one day very soon and tell Rodney just how hopelessly in love with him he was.
Lost in thought, it took John a few minutes to realize that Ronon had stopped walking. He looked up to see that they were standing in a small alley between two apartment buildings and that Ronon was sniffing at a drainpipe too small to get his head into.
"Mrowr." Ronon said, and John gave an exasperated tug on the leash.
"I don't speak cat and you know it," he said, pulling a little harder.
Ronon dug in his heels and John immediately surrendered. Ronon was the original immoveable force when he wanted to be. John made a small noise of surprise when Ronon tugged him forward. John leaned down to look at the pipe, expecting to see some kind of gross discarded food or a kid's toy. He did not expect to see a very small, dark paw. The paw was followed by a pink nose. Ronon leaned in and very gently sniffed. The tiny nose sniffed back before John heard a small, "Meep!"
"Oh, fuck," John said, glaring at Ronon. "I'm a dog person!"
Ronon shot him a scathing look over his shoulder and then turned back to the drainpipe, from which emerged a very small, very cute Siamese kitten. She - John thought it was a she - rubbed herself against Ronon's leg and John almost let out the "Aww!" that was building on the back of his tongue.
He looked down at Ronon, who was licking the kitten's head, then looked up at the clear, blue sky overhead, watching a couple of clouds float serenely by. Ronon bumped against John's leg, and he stooped down to gather the kitten close. He'd knock on a few doors, see if he could find the owner, but he had a feeling that she was coming with them. John calculated that Rodney would manage to hold out for a maximum of sixty seconds. He overshot by half.