Kris’ Note: Aiy! It certainly took long enough to get this one out. But, Sage and I have both been off spending some time in our other, personal series. Anyways, here it is, and, as Sage assures you below, most of the next chapter is also done, so it’ll be following soon! As always, thanks to everyone that’s read this series, to Worthy/Cybra for her works based on our series, to my mother for proofreading some chapters before posting (and post-posting, I’ll always update with the corrections), and to CL Furlong for his awesome picture based on “Reunited!”
And, always, “t’ankies” to Sageums, my favorite fiend… and infidel!
Sage’s Note: I suggest you listen to calm and/or moving music along with this one. Quite frankly, this is one of the few times I’m ever close to tears whenever I finish writing anything. ::grins:: Note to all those of you asking when the next chapter of “The Light that Shines in the Darkness” will be out, we just want to let you know we’ve got the majority written. Just give us time and we’ll have it out when you least expect it. ? Once again, our many thanks to our readers and the wonderful reviews. Worthy/Cybra, thanks again for the image song and for keeping up with the progress of these series. C.L. Furlong, thanks again for the moving picture on “Reunited.” We appreciate it!!! ?
And, of course, how can I not thank my co-author, who’s put up with me all this time. ? ::huggles Kris muchly:: Thanks, mi amiga!
God grant me the Courage to change the things I can change, The Serenity to accept those I cannot change, And the Wisdom to know the difference. But God, grant me the courage not to give up on what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.
~Anonymous, Serenity Prayer
It’s quiet. Except for the sick squish of our wet, bare feet against the polished stone floor. Our combined heavy breathing. They seem to be the only sounds as I help an exhausted Chance into the cathedral. Thank goodness the door was open – I guess it always is so people can stop in to pray.
As we stagger toward the sanctuary, I let my eyes search the cavernous entryway. I know it can’t be that old, but this place seems ancient.
Gradually, I realize there’s a slight hum in the air. A melodic hum. As we move to the sanctuary, I see that the choir is practicing. I recognize the tune, but I can’t place it. Still, the familiar melody is comforting. A sound I remember from long years ago. When I was a kitten sitting in church with my parents.
But, the melody is the only thing I find familiar in this massive room. I’ve never been in a cathedral before. My home church out in the suburbs was much smaller, simpler.
Beside me, Chance staggers, bringing me back to the present. Holding onto the back of one of the pews for support, he sucks in a deep breath… and winces. I know he’s in pain. And, he’s been getting progressively weaker. He’s gradually been leaning more and more of his weight into me.
Quickly, I move to help him along. “Easy, Buddy…” I whisper as I help him slide into the rearmost pew, glad to see that the room is empty save for the choir.
Chance takes in a deep breath as he settles onto the pew, holding his burned stomach protectively. Then, he suddenly looks up to smile at me.
“I’m okay. Thanks, Jake.”
I smile back as I sit beside him. “Anytime.”
I watch my friend as he sighs softly, sitting back and seemingly relaxing. I watch as his eyes scan the room. His face is thoughtful.
“We made it through…”
“Yeah…,” I answer, looking around again. Then, I look up to find the vaulted ceiling. The sanctuary is tremendous, beautiful. I look down. I’m not sure what comes now… And, equally not sure about my feelings on being in a church again… As a kitten I thought of church as a safe place, a familiar place. Now,… it makes me feel guilty. I went against everything my parents taught me, everything I believed in, nearly sacrificed everything I held dear.
Chance interrupts my thoughts with a gruff murmur.
“It’s been years… I haven’t been here in… who knows how long.”
He gulps a tad and shakes his head at what I guess are his own kittenhood memories.
My friend nods, looking around the cathedral as he does. And, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he seems nervous.
Nervous? About what?
I’d understand if it were over what recently happened to put us on the run like this. But at the moment, we’re in a temporary sanctuary. No one can hurt us in here. Here they may not hear us out, but, if we ask, they will provide us with medicine or whatever is at hand until the authorities come and pick us up.
Finally, I settle my eyes on my partner after watching him askance.
“You okay, Bud?”
Jake continues to look. “I just… S’been a long time since I was in a church…”
I look down at that and reply softly. “It’s been too long for the both of us then…”
And, it’s true. The last time I ever came to this cathedral was back before I even joined the Enforcers. Back before my parents… left the world. Back when I had to pray to keep me from letting go of my dreams… to be strong.
I wince at the wound on my arm. I’d forgotten how much it hurt until we finally stopped to rest. And, my stomach aches.
Jake looks at his weak effort at bandaging my arm as he murmurs a “Yeah…”
Sighing, I ignore the pain again and concentrate on the interior of the cathedral, my eyes focused on the altar.
“All I know is… we were being watched as we made our way over here,” I say softly.
“Before that too,” Jake adds, “When the jet blew up…” He looks down at that. “And, here I thought He’d be through with me by now…”
Hearing this, I weakly lay a hand on his shoulder.
“I had the same thoughts, Jake. But, I’m pretty sure He believed we deserved another chance…”
I never doubted the fact that there *was* Someone watching me all this time. Watching my actions, trying to get me back on my feet, trying to make me realize that I had to go back down the right path. But, during the years that I was working for Dark Kat, I somehow lost touch with Him. Now, as I sit in this pew, I cannot reject the fact that He never lost touch with me.
“And, I’m grateful for it,” I tell Jake. Then, with a smile, I add. “I’m still alive… and I got my best friend back.”
I can only smile back at him. I got my best friend back too.
And, yet…. “Yeah… But…. what now?” I ask.
Where can we go now? What do we do? We have nowhere to go. The Salvage Yard isn’t safe, and I refuse to ask my parents to harbor fugitives.
We need to turn ourselves in. But, what about Dark Kat…?
The same thoughts sober Chance as well. He looks back down as he says, “I don’t know, Bud. We managed to get away from all those guys… And, we can’t stay in here forever… We need to find another spot…”
“Yeah…,” I agree reluctantly. “And, we need to get you looked at….”
I can almost sense him paling under his fur; it worries me.
“The Enforcers come to mind…,” Chance begins. Then, he sighs heavily. “The question is… would Feral be willing to help us…”
He sounds doubtful, as doubtful as I feel. Feral would get us medical attention. But, he’d find our story about Dark Kat trying to kill us just that. A story. A lie to get out of Alkatraz. A way to get us some place where we could escape.
Feral has no faith in the words of criminals. And, he considers us among the worst sort… Not that I can blame him. Not after what we did. And, what we tried to do. Even though they never proved the bomb…
But, this time,… it *wasn’t* our fault. But, they all say that.
With effort, I break out of those thoughts and nod to Chance.
“Well…,” I start hesitantly. “Before we think on it more…” I’m not sure what I’m trying to ask. “You think…” I collect my thoughts quickly. “Could we stay here long enough to say a prayer?”
Yes. Something in me needs to do that. It’s what’s been nagging me ever since we came in here.
A smile parts my friend’s lips. “As long as we have to.”
With that, he kneels onto the pew in front of him to say his own prayer.
I opt for bowing my head and praying where I sit. But, as I start, I find myself pausing, unsure where to begin. What do you say to your Creator when you feel like you’ve broken just about every rule He set before you?
At last I start with the first thing that comes to mind. The easiest thing. The model for a prayer I learned in some long forgotten Sunday School class.
<Our Father which art in Heaven….>
<Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven…>
<Give us this day our daily bread.> <And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors….>
There I finally manage to start modifying the words into my own personal prayer. I have a lot of “debts” that need forgiving. And, I spend what feels like an eternity faltering through each one, every last thing I did… and asking forgiveness for each, one by one. Then, I fumble, crying uncontrollably.
I messed up so bad.
I hurt Chance. I hurt Trina. I hurt my parents. I hurt everyone.
Finally, shuddering with sobs, I suck in a deep break and pick up the prayer again.
<And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…. Oh please… God in Heaven, deliver us from evil.>
At last, I feel like I’ve said all I can say. Then, I pause.
One last thing.
<And, please…. Show us where to go now…. Someplace where Chance can get looked at…. Someplace safe…. Please…>
‘Our Father, who art in heaven…’
The Lord’s Prayer is the first thing that comes to mind the minute I kneel on the pew in front of me, my hands clasped together tightly. Upon reaching the end of the prayer, I start asking for forgiveness, repenting, asking to be helped…. and seeking forgiveness from those I’ve hurt in the past.
Jake. Him both physically *and* emotionally… my unconscious and unreasonable fury when I tore his ears apart. My sharp words, my insults, my breaking him apart in more ways than I could ever imagine just to let out whatever was bothering me.
I shudder a bit at that, and then, when it seems like forever, I feel like I’ve poured out everything I’ve meant to say. In a thankful and wholehearted tone, I whisper the final, “Amen,” and sit back down beside Jake.
As I lean back against the pew, I blink back my tears. Pouring out everything I needed to say to Him made me feel a whole lot better now. Emotionally, my being here has helped me gather more strength. Now I can continue.
Jake glances over at me as he opens his eyes, wiping his nose on his sleeve like a messy child. With a smile, I put my injured arm around my partner, ignoring the pain as I do.
“He heard every word, Bud.”
Jake nods and, looking up briefly, replies softly, “I know.”
That said, I decide it’s time we took our leave. “I think… we better get going, Bud…”
“Yeah.” Jake stands, reaching out to help me up.
Accepting the offer, I head out of the cathedral, turning to give a final, “Thanks,” towards the altar.
As I step outside, I notice it’s nighttime. The streets are rather quiet, and dark. Even better. We won’t be as easy to spot.
I carefully look up and down the street before heading out along the sidewalk, helping Chance along. Can’t risk being seen. But, the streets are deserted for the most part, just a few distant, shadowy figures ambling along. Good.
Chance seems lost in thought. As though he’s trying to decide which way to go.
“Bud?” I ask as he gives me a nudge to head right.
“I think… I found the place,” he answers. He sounds uncertain… or unwilling to say more.
What’s he thinking?
“Bud….” His voice is gruff. It’s his serious and/or worried tone. “This is gonna be hard… but it’s the only place now… We’re heading for the Bureau.”
The MegaKat Bureau of Investigation. Where his cousins work. Where Trina works.
I almost stop. I almost say no. Then, I look at my friend, seeing again all the wounds. He needs help. His cousin Jason, captain of the Bureau, will have him treated quickly. Probably before he even calls Feral. Good. Maybe Jason will even listen to Chance… after he’s through beating the snot out of me.
But, that’s okay. So long as Chance gets medical attention.
“Alright,” I agree huskily.
I don’t know if I wince at my friend’s quivering and doubtful tone of voice… or at the needle-sharp pain against my abdomen as we make our way down the streets.
I know what he’s thinking. I know the fear that’s building up within him. I know that he’s not prepared… but I can’t let him turn back now. We’re both in need of help, and he knows it.
With a sigh, I look up at the skies briefly. <Please>, I beg, <Give him strength now. Give him the confidence he’s lost, and give me some strength to go through with this. Please.>
As though reading my thoughts, Jake helps me down the street in silence, the moon guiding us as we go. However, I can’t help but think a final, worried thought.
<I know it’s not the best idea, Jake. I know it’s not the best idea, Buddy… And, I’m really sorry.>
“Cymbeline” – Loreena McKennitt, “The Visit” “Dante’s Prayer” – Loreena McKennitt, “The Book of Secrets” “La Serrenisima” – Loreena McKennitt, “The Mask and the Mirror” “Prospero’s Speech” – Loreena McKennitt, “The Mask and the Mirror” “Stand Here with Me” – Creed, “Weathered” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” – Traditional, arranged by Mannheim Steamroller
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