Quite suddenly Irony had decided that Crawford belonged to her, despite his feelings about the whole matter.
    Schuldich did his best to frighten her, and Nagi kept trying to pick her up when she would rather he didn't. Farfarello ignored her. But Crawford pet her.
    Of course, he only did so because it was that or deal with the challenging one-eyed stare of the Berserker, but Irony didn't know that, and she didn't care. All she knew was that someone was finally giving her at least a little bit of attention, and what little of her world wasn't currently revolving around the food dish and the macabre toy Farfarello had made her suddenly and irrevocably became centered around the displeased American who offered her such grudging pets.
    It was Nagi who finally went out and purchased a cat dish and a small bag of kitten food without consulting the others. When Crawford discovered the dish on the floor and the happily munching cat attacking the contents, he had rather reluctantly decided against a reprimand. At least food in the bowl meant no more begging at the dinner table. He could always deposit it in the dumpster later, along with Irony's broken little body when Farfarello finally grew bored with the game and put his hands on her.
    In the meantime, he ignored her as best he could, learning to tune out the less piercing wails for attention. He was forced to purchase an ungodly amount of lint rollers, as black cat hair suddenly appeared on absolutely everything; that in itself nearly drove him to put an end to the animal's life himself.
    She had taken to following him hopefully around the apartment, crying for attention and rubbing against his ankle. He would ignore her as if she wasn't even there, concentrating on his work, until Farfarello inevitably tracked them down. Then he would at last drop his hand down to give the thrilled animal a perfunctory scratch under the chin or a stroke down her scrawny back. Someones Farfarello would watch impassively for a moment before wandering off again. Other times he would scowl, as if Crawford's grudging adherance to the game annoyed him for some reason.
    Crawford had quickly given up trying to figure out what the hell went through Farfarello's twisted brain or even what the "rules" were in this imagined game. He had learned that showing any sort of attention to Irony in Farfarello's presence kept the other man docile and headed off any bizarre conversations. And without his even noticing, a habit slowly formed.

    Within two weeks, Irony discovered all she had to do was rub herself against his ankle or calf, and viola, a hand would lower absently to give her the attention she craved.
    Now that she had finally trained him in this respect, she stubbornly began the next step in her plan of ownership. She started off strong, like clockwork. Every single time the American sat down-- whether it was at the dinner table, on the couch, or at his desk --she was there, scrambling up with sharp little claws to perch on his lap.
    She had to be quick-- he didn't seem at all pleased with these stubborn signs of affection, and would promptly scoop her up in one big hand and drop her back to the floor. That was a bit fun in and of itself at times, so sometimes she would do this up to four times in a row until she sensed his temper at a breaking point. Then it was off to find a dustball or piece of string to play with until he'd forgotten about her, and the cycle repeated itself.
    Then came the triumphant day when she finally wore him down.
    She clawed her way up the side of the couch and slipped onto his lap. He was distracted and didn't react quite quickly enough; by the time his hand fell on her, she was laying flat against his leg and clinging on for dear life. The first tug dragged sharp little claws against the flesh underneath the cloth, and her little heart sang with triumph when the hand retreated in defeat.

    Nagi glanced up in surprise as Irony's raspy but surprisingly loud purr started up. He stared first at the contented little horror stretched out in Crawford's lap, then up at the man's face. His eyes were still on the television, and he was making no further move to rid himself of his unwanted lap ornament. Smothering a smile, the telekinetic quickly returned his attention to his homework.
    Crawford didn't realize he was absently smoothing his hand along the kitten's back until there was a commercial break.