The human's were up to something, he just wasn't quite sure what. He tried to get in the backdoor but the male human shoved him back out with a foot. Dusty danced back and away; the male was known to follow such up with a real kick sometimes. The soft smoke-cream cat circled around to see if the female human was about, he could scent and hear her well enough.
"We could sneak him in.." she was saying.
"No, we couldn't." The male said, using that angry tone he used so often. "Besides, we'd just get evicted if they found him. I'm not losing the new place 'cause of a cat."
"But.." she protested.
He overroad her, "He's a cat, he can take care of himself just fine. Plenty of cats do." He looked out the door to see Dusty looking around and slammed the door shut, "Use the front." the male said, voice muffled.
Dusty meowed at the door hopefully a few times, pacing back and forth before meowing a bit more plaintively. He jumped down from the steps and padded around to the front of the house where that door was open. He knew better than to approach it, the male got very angry if Dusty came in through that door. Dusty wasn't quite sure why, the male had some very strange rules.
He watched the humans for a while as they carried things in and out before yawning an impressive display of teeth and flomping down in the weed filled grass for a nap.
A crack of thunder woke him up. He looked around but the humans were gone, the door closed. They came and went regularly, they'd be back. He stretched and shook his head and was making a casual stroll when a fat plop of rain hit him square in the middle of the head. A mreow of irritation and he high tailed it back to the porch.
His bowls weren't there, he looked around to see if one of the small two foots had knocked it off again, but all there was beside the steps was a pile of kibble and an old plastic pail that was cracked and missing a chunk at the top, holding water. As there was plenty of water falling from the sky and he didn't particularly want to be coated in the stuff, he curled up where the mat used to be and waited out the deluge.
He woke up again to a struggling sunset. A yawn and stretch to warm up the muscles and he looked down at his pile of food once more, hopping to the ground. It was rather soggy from the rain, but still edible. Not as good as when the female snuck gravy onto his kibble, of course, but not bad. He took some licks from the water, a flick of the tail at the rain flavouring before walking back up to the door to be let in for the night.
He paced a few times, apparently his humans still weren't home.
With a resigned sigh he walked across the yard to his favourite tree and scrambled up. The bark was a bit soggy but the leaves would at least would block some of the wind that was picking up. Not particularly tired but incredibly bored, Dusty stretched out on the tree and eventually fell asleep once more.
* * *
The days that followed had the same pattern, he'd go up to the door and meow for his humans to let him in, but they never answered. The food pile hadn't lasted long, the second rain storm had made it inedible mush. At least the water bucket refilled from the sky even if it tasted kinda yucky. He'd learned if he was stealthy enough that he could steal some food from the other cats in the neighbourhood. He was chased off more than once by the well fed cats who were justifiably protective of their food and luxuries. Each night Dusty retreated to his tree, watching the house before falling asleep, tummy most unhappy with him.
After a while, some of the neighbourhood humans started leaving food out for him, but none would let him in their houses. The other cats just started ignoring him if he stayed away from THEIR bowls. Occassionally the small two feet would pet him, one lady spoke to him at length while petting him, but they didn't take him inside either.
It was a sunny day after a stretch of sunny days when the house finally made noises. Dusty's ears perked up in his sleep before his eyes opened. His humans were home! He could even hear his little two feet! He bounded down the tree and to the back door that was finally open and went into the house. His bowl wasn't where it should be, yet. But that's okay, his humans were back!
He sniffed around, the place smelled stale, but the humans smelt wrong. A female human, smaller than the last one, stopped as she walked into the kitchen and lookd down at him. "Mike? Did you order a cat?"
"What?" Came the irritated sounding reply. The male didn't sound as angry as the previous male, but Dusty had been taught to be wary. There was a thud and the male came into the kitchen. "Nice cat, whose is it?"
Dusty knew the words 'nice cat', that meant a treat was coming soon! He sat up, pawing the air as his female had liked.
"Okay, that's cute." The female said, putting the box down on the counter. "Joe, grab the cooler will you?" she called down the hall.
Dusty dropped back to all fours and meowed as he heard the running of a little two foot, dragging one of those soft cold-bags behind him. "Here!" he said hauling it over to the female.
"Are you giving him our lunch?" The male asked sounding more amused.
"Well, part of MINE anyway." The female said, digging through the bag and pulling out a delightful smelling thing surrounded in bread. She opened the bread to reveal tuna! "I don't have a bowl.." She walked past Dusty and out onto the step, "Make your mess out here, cat."
The male sighed, "Are we keeping him? I'm allergic.."
"Nono, just feeding him. Looks like he hasn't eaten in a week!" The female replied, digging green bits out from the yummy smelling stuff before putting the yummy down. "Mayo won't harm him, will it?"
"Better hope not," The male observed, sounding even more amused still, as Dusty wolfed down the tuna.
"Mmm." She pet the fur and gave him a scritch behind the ear, "Well, we'll find your owner." She told him, leaving him to his treat as she went back to carrying things. One of the small two foots came out to pet him and tell him he was a pretty kitty. Dusty liked the small ones, they tended to have interesting things to lick off their hands. Well, the not-mean ones anyway.
With a full tummy, Dusty retreated to his tree for a nice long snooze, happy that even if his humans hadn't come back, some nice ones had taken their place.
When he awoke the next morning there was a bowl of kibble and a bowl of water waiting for him. He pounced on it, purring happily. He saw the female looking out the back window at him, seeming happy. "We're not keeping him!" the male announced.
"I know." Said the female, a little wistfully.
Dusty flicked his ear as he listened to the muffled conversation. Then the door opened and a different small two foot came out. "Cat!" and started to pet him before fetching a piece of paper to ball up and bat with him. Dusty played until he was yawning and tried to come in. "Mom says no, allergies and all that." the small one explained as he pushed Dusty away.
"Wash your hands before you touch your eyes!" the female human ordered.
Dusty let out an internal sigh. He missed his house and his soft bed but dutifully retreated to his tree.
The next few days followed the same pattern. Sometimes the humans would come out to the back and let him sit with them in the evenings, sometimes they'd play, but there was always food and clean water. One morning the female human was waiting for him with a yummy smelling something. "Since you probably have worms, Mr Scrawny Cat." she said and held up a thin tube. He was more than happy to lick the pink stuff out of it. He didn't know what it was, but boy did it taste good!
She then dabbed his fur in several places. "And that should take care of fleas." She gave him long strokes of petting as he purred and rubbed against her. "I'm only doing this so you don't transfer your parasites to the boys, if Mike asks."
Dusty didn't think the male human, who would sneak him as many treats as the rest of the new two foots and claim dislike, would ask him much of anything but meowed an agreement anyway.
She pet him again and stood up, "And I suppose I better go be a responsible adult." she muttered as she went in. Dusty knew better than to even try for the inside now. He sat on the doorstep for a while, but it seemed everyone was too busy for him, so he hopped off the steps and decided to go visit the neighbours. Some of the cats, now that he had his own humans again, were being much friendlier since he was no longer a threat.
A week turned into two, and as the weather started getting cooler, a little house appeared on the back porch, with a pillow inside. He heard the female and male discussing it, both claiming no association with a house or the pillow that had appeared in it. Dusty was more than happy to curl up inside. At some point, a small teddy bear that smelled of one of the small two foots also appeared for him to use as a pillow.
It was a nice sunrise when he left his house with a yawn and long stretch, moving to wait patiently by the door for the female to come pet, play with, and feed him. She still didn't let him in the house, but she'd come a long way. He still had hope that she'd get trained yet.