16: “I assume she murdered him”

Finch had begun training Eartha to do tricks. He called them tricks; Gavin called them acts of terrorism. Finch figured that, so long as he had this cat he hadn’t actually wanted, he might as well make the most of it. Realistically, he’d be making the most of it for the next fifteen years at the least so he was going to teach her to do his bidding. His bidding, as it turned out, was shitting in the toilet so that he wouldn’t have to clean up kitty litter, sitting on command, and attacking anyone he pointed to. Attacking was a strong word for it. In reality, all he taught her to do was hurl her tiny, fur-covered body and lick whatever she could reach. She licked a lot, more than Finch thought cats normally licked. It was incredibly unpleasant. Cat tongues were scratchy and horrible and her taste buds got caught underneath his fingernails when she licked his hands. However, he was using that to his advantage.

“I’m going to stop coming over here,” Robin said when he’d come over after dinner one evening. The moment he’d stepped inside, Finch had pointed at him, thereby ensuring that Eartha would launch herself at his face from her spot on the back of the couch. She missed Robin’s face by quite a wide margin and ended up clinging to the front pocket of his plaid button-down. She held on even as Robin began moving into the living room after kicking off his shoes.

“Whatever,” Finch replied, shrugging with one shoulder, not the least bit concerned that Robin would follow through with his threat. For one thing, Finch baked a lot and Robin loved it. For another, he was very fond of Eartha, even though he pretended otherwise. Robin bought her secret toys that Finch wasn’t supposed to know about. He would sneak them over to the apartment when he came to visit and then pretend like he didn’t know where they’d come from. One time, he’d gone so far as to lie and say that the catnip-stuffed mouse he’d brought had clearly been given to Eartha by Gavin. Finch knew he was lying because he’d chosen the wrong roommate. If he had said it was Gord, Finch wouldn’t even have questioned it.

Gavin and Eartha had a complicated relationship. Gavin hated her because she tried to drink the milk from his cereal while he was still eating it, she was always using the bathroom when he needed to pee, and she tried to lick as much of him as possible at every possible opportunity and her tongue got caught in his hair. Eartha loved Gavin. She loved Gavin more than she loved anyone else. She loved Gavin more than anyone in the world had ever loved Gavin. Finch was actually pretty sure that Eartha loved Gavin more than Gavin’s own mother. He’d known her for years and found her to be a truly terrifying woman. Plus she made this weird clicking sound with her mouth, seemingly unknowingly, and Gord had made many, many comparisons to praying mantises. It wasn’t far off really; she was stick thin and had enormous eyes. Also, it seemed extremely likely that she would tear the head off any man she had sex with. Finch had never met Gavin’s father and they’d been friends for decades. He assumed she’d killed him.

Finch and Robin went to work together for their evening shift, only to return to Finch’s apartment six hours later to find Gavin standing in the middle of the living room without pants on. Eartha was hanging from his forearm, dangling by his thigh, looking perfectly content. Gavin’s terrifying mother was standing opposite him, clicking and looking confused, yet disdainful. She turned her attention on Finch and Robin when they entered, beady eyes blinking rapidly, and Finch felt a shiver run down his spine. She was the only person he’d met that he was genuinely afraid of. He had never said as much to anyone, lest he ruin his street cred, but he found her both chilling and eerie.

“Oh. It’s you,” Gavin’s mother said at the sight of Finch.

“She seems nice,” Robin hissed under his breath.

“I’m Blythe,” she announced, staring directly at Robin. Finch saw him tense up out of the corner of his eye. He was pleased to note that at least other people were afraid of her as well.

“Oh, uh, Robin. I’m Finch’s boyfriend,” Robin answered, but Blythe had already turned away, clearly uninterested. Yet again, Finch found himself wondering where Gavin’s father was. Dead probably.

“Alright, sure,” Robin said as she turned away, looking to Finch for clarification. Finch had none. Instead, he lead the way to the nearest bedroom so as to escape the terror that was Blythe. That bedroom happened to belong to Gord. Finch had planned on just staying there with Robin until it was safe for them to go to his own room. He had been operating under the assumption that Gord was out, but he appeared to be hiding from Blythe as well.

“Hello,” he said, looking up at them from his bed as they barged into his room. He was watching TV on his laptop. All things considered, it could’ve been much more awkward.

“Gavin’s mother,” was all Finch offered in explanation. Nevertheless, Gord seemed to get it.

“She only visits twice a year, but it never ceases to be the worst fucking time ever,” he replied as Finch joined him on his bed, leaving the desk chair for Robin. It was buried under a veritable mountain of plaid shirts, but Robin just chucked them unceremoniously onto the floor.

“Have you ever met his father?” Finch asked Gord out of curiosity. He had begun to think up ways Blythe could’ve killed him. Poison seemed the most likely, but arson and battle-axe seemed like solid options as well.

“I haven’t,” Gord answered. “I assume she murdered him.”

Finch grinned at him and Robin merely shook his head.

Gavin eventually came to get them after his mother had left. Finch suspected he had waited a little bit longer, just to let them suffer, but he and Robin had been having a lovely time with Gord. They were watching TV together, but Robin couldn’t really see the laptop screen from his place on the desk chair so Finch and Gord had taken to describing exactly what was happening on screen. At some point, they had moved far from preciseness and were feeding Robin hilarious fictional stage directions to go with the dialogue.

“Your cat is using the bathroom again, just as I wanted to,” Gavin informed them bitterly. “I have walked in on that cat using the toilet so many times now and it is never not startling.”

“You have to admit that it’s not the worst thing Finch has taught her to do,” Gord pointed out in return. Unsurprisingly, it did nothing to appease Gavin. Finch just laughed.


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