“Hi!” the young man said. “It’s okay! You can just call me Jay.” He smiled down at the carrier. “This is Mr. Twigs!”
“Please, come in,” Sloane said, trying to fix his hair as he opened the office door. He ushered Jay in, saying politely, “So, your roommate is missing?”
“Yes,” Jay said, setting the carrier on Sloane’s desk and opening it up. “Everyone at the department thinks I’m going nuts, and Milo said you would be able to help me.”
“I’ll definitely do my best!”
“My roommate has been missing for almost two days now, and this is not like him at all. He hasn’t been to work, he hasn’t been home, but his car is still in the parking lot. The detectives wanted me to wait before filing a missing persons report, and nobody is listening to me.”
“And you think that Mr. Twigs here might be responsible?”
“I’m Silenced, so you know, no magic for me, but I know the sound portals make. I’ve heard it on a ton of documentaries. I know I heard one right before he vanished, and no one else was home except Mr. Twigs.”
The cat slinked out of the carrier and perched right on the corner of Sloane’s desk, its tail swishing. It was fluffy, black, and it was wearing small round sunglasses.
Loch kneeled down, eyeing the cat suspiciously. They were nearly nose to nose, locked in an intense stare.
“Huh,” Sloane said, blinking slowly. “The cat… wears sunglasses?”
“Oh!” Jay blushed. “I know it sounds crazy, but his eyes are really sensitive to light. So yeah. I tried to take them off and he got really upset.”
“Wait, you didn’t buy them?”
“Oh no!” Jay laughed. “He had them on when I found him. He’s a rescue, and he’s, like, literally the sweetest—”
“He is a foul and wretched creature!” Loch suddenly shouted, spinning wildly and promptly smacking the cat across the room. “Go back to the depths of Xenon, you disgusting fiend!”
“Mr. Twigs!” Jay screamed in horror.
“Azaethoth!” Sloane roared, shocked and furious. “How could you? It’s just a cat!”
“That is not a cat!” Loch argued, his tentacles beginning to unfurl. “It’s a monstrous fiend that just looks like a cat!”
“Owww,” a new voice complained, the fluffy black cat picking himself up from the floor and yowling in complaint. He hopped back up on the desk, his tail lashing as he hissed, “That was super rude!”
“Mr. Twigs…?” Jay stared in awe. He started to reach for the cat but drew back. “You’re… you’re talking?”
“Duh,” the cat replied sweetly. “Now, Jay, why don’t you forget all about this and go to sleep?”
Jay’s eyes rolled back, and he immediately dropped on the carpet face-first.
“What the fuck are you?” Sloane demanded, his hands moving to summon a shield of bright starlight. Loch stood in front of him protectively, his thick tentacles writhing around him and poised to strike at any second.
The cat laughed, transforming into a very thin and very naked young man. He tilted his sunglasses down, grinning slyly to reveal a mouthful of pointed teeth as he teased, “Meow, motherfuckers. Name’s Asta. I’m here to save the world.”