Summary-Chance learns a bit about Streak, and Feral gets punched. Again.Oo oo oo…and we find out why Streak ain’t gonna wind up with one of the guys…
I love Jackie Chan. Don’t you love Jackie Chan? Peachfully remains- Cheese “Kit/Tigra/Aaron…we need your man-nipple!”
Jake and Chance sit in front of the television late Saturday night. They both look up as Streak walks by for the front door, still dressed in a mechanics jumpsuit.
“Ms. Phillips!” Jake calls.
Streak turns on a fighter’s heel, making Jake think she’s about to pounce on him. She just looks at him with her regular attitude: the world is dead, but I’m not and I wish I were.
“Where are you going?”
Streak doesn’t answer for a second and Jake thinks maybe she’s ignoring his question. Finally, with burning throat, Streak answers. “I’ve got to go see someone.”
Jake screws up his face. “You can’t walk out there alone.”
“Wanna give me the keys to the truck? I don’t have a license, but-”
“How ’bout I drive you?” Chance offers.
Streak shrugs and Chance pulls himself off the couch.
“So how far away is this place?” Chance asks, hopping into the truck. Streak pulls herself in, and immediately slouches down, putting her feet on the dashboard.
“It’s on the outskirts. I’ll give directions as we go.”
Backing out of the driveway, Chance side-glances Streak. He hopes he won’t become an accessory to illegal activity tonight. After almost half an hour of driving, Streak tells Chance to pull into the parking lot of a convenience store. Chance holds his breath as Streak goes in, and lets it out as she exits.
Maybe I’m judging her too harshly. Maybe she didn’t know she was trespassing that night….
Chance watches Streak climb gracefully back in. That’s pretty much how Streak does everything. With an aggressive grace that is the trademark of a do-or-die fighter. Once in, Streak opens a bag. It contains a pack of cigarettes, a comic book, and a single pink rose. Chance takes off and Streak takes the cigarettes and stuffs them in her pocket.
Streak sighs and slumps back into her seat. “Please call me Streak. It’s not like I’m going to go after you if you say my name or something.”
Chance glances over at Streak, who looks sadder than usual. “Who are you going to see?”
Streak again pauses and rubs the bridge of her nose slowly. Just when Chance considers asking again, Streak answers. “A sister of my friend Gina-” she nearly chokes the last bit out, then recomposes herself, sitting up and clearing her throat.
“It’s about time I paid another visit. After all, I’ve known her sister since before I-” Streak stops short.
“Before you what?”
Streak takes a deep breath and lets the sentence out with it. “Since before I started Cage fighting.”
Chance chokes on his saliva and almost swerves out of their lane. “You’re a Cage fighter?”
Cage fighting is one of the most illegal -and popular- gambling events in MKC. Her shooting now starts to make more sense…
“Wait! Here it is!”
They turn left- “Fourth house down” -and come to a stop.
“You gonna wait in here?”
Chance can tell its more of an order than a question. “Yeah, I think I’ll be fine in here.”
Streak smiles and that look of understanding passes between them again. She grabs the bag and heads up to the door.
The neighborhood is lower middle class, but this house is pretty nice. There are flowers in the front window, the grass-if not dark brown and dying-is keenly mowed, and there is a tricycle in it. Streak reaches the front door and knocks. Chance sees it open, and a brown furred she-kat with pumpkin coloured hair, wearing a waitress uniform and holding a cigarette in her thin hand appears . Her hollow-cheeked face immediately brightens, and she throws her arms around Streak.
Just then a little male kitten runs out the door and grabs Streak’s legs. The brown furred, black haired boy looks about six or seven. Streak smiles brightly at him, and pulls the comic book out of her bag. Even through the car, Chance can hear him squeal happily as he runs back in. Streak’s face gets serious for a moment as she exchanges a few words with the woman, but then she reaches into her bag and pulls out the rose. The woman cracks up.
“Must be an inside joke…”Chance mumbles. He watches as they both go inside, the window on the door reflecting an orange image of the dying sun.
Chance awakens to the sound of the truck door opening. He feels his shoulder being shaken, and opens his eyes. He finds himself gazing into Streak’s. For once they seem to have a dancing spark of life. But they look concerned.
“Mr. Furlong, can I ask you and Mr. Clawson a big favour?”
“Your house is kid-safe, right?”
Chance opens his mouth to reply, but is interrupted.
“It’s only for tonight, I swear. I’m so sorry, but please?”
Chance sighs. “I’m sure Jake won’t mind. He loves kids.”
Streak’s face brightens. “Thanks, Mr. Furlong.” She slaps him on the arm, a little hard.
“It’s Chance,” he says, but the truck door slams shut.
Streak walks back up the walk way halfway, but is met there by a flash of brown fur. Streak opens the door and places a backpack in the floorboards. A pair of bright blue eyes look over the seat at Chance.
“Who’s he?” the kitten asks, glancing at Streak, then back at Chance.
Streak lifts the kitten into the truck, and he crawls to the center, still staring at Chance. Chance grins, but the kitten looks away.
“This is Mr. Furlong. He’s a very nice man.” Chance watches as the old junker of a car in the driveway starts up and backs out, driven by the orange-haired she-kat, who now has on bright red lipstick and blue eyeshadow.
“That’s what mom said about Frank.” The kitten objects.
“Well,” Streak sighs, “Mom was wrong, Brent. But I’m never wrong.” Streak grins at the kitten, who just laughs. Streak reaches around and does his seat belt.
“Mr. Furlong, Brent. Brent, Mr. Furlong.” Streak, for once, buckles herself up.
Chance grins down at Brent again and starts the truck.
“Buckle up, Mr. Furlong!” the child gripes.
Chance laughs and does so. As he gets the truck moving, he casts an amused look at Streak, but she is too busy gazing down at Brent with pride. She strokes his hair, and bends down to kiss his forehead, the kiss being immediately wiped away.
Chance smiles and drives them home.
Feral breathes a sigh of relief as he closes the door behind Deputy Mayor Briggs. She means well, loves the city, but is sometimes too involved. She had gotten him to agree to put more troops into the search for Jaque-Tabby, which he was going to do anyway so all in all, the meeting was a success.
Feral walks past Gina’s room and looks in the door. She is still asleep. He then proceeded to the couch, throws himself upon it, and flips on the television.
“This is Ann Gora, Katseye News, at what used to be the old Megapolitan Mattress warehouse. But, as you can see-” she steps aside, waving her arm for affect “-it is now simply ruins.” Feral sits up, a growl beginning within him.
“It turns out this had been the headquarters of the infamous Cage fighting ring of MegaKat City. There were no survivors, making at least thirty casualties. As the search through the still-smoking rubble continues, two bodies have been identified. They are those of Riker Linleus, the leader of the Raider Linleus gang, and Hima Laeonn, a former employee of Pumadine. This incident, because of the particular target, may have been linked to the recent confession of a Ms. Virginia Lynx, direct descendant of the Red Lynx, who is currently being-”
Feral throws the remote at the television. It bursts through the screen and the appliance explodes. As he dials Enforcer HQ, he watches the flames inside slowly die.
“Get me Pennloiz!” Feral roars.
A second later- “Pennloiz here.”
“How did that get out?!” Feral roars.
“I don’t know, we’re working on it…”
“I want you to grill everyone, I mean *everyone* at HQ. No janitor, receptionist, or repairman is to slip through the cracks. Is that understood?”
Pennloiz gulps. “Yes, Commander.”
“Furthermore, why was I not informed of the huge bombing?!”
In the other room, Gina heard the explosion and is now venturing out of bed. She can hear Feral screaming wildly into the phone.
“With all due respect, sir, Lieutenant Feral is the acting Commander, and you’re assigned already, so-” Feral doesn’t let him finish his sentence. He just hangs up the phone. After a second, he roars again and throws the phone into the television, which topples forward and lands on the floor with an amazing crash.
Out of nowhere, a frail and sickly looking little she-kat strides across the room and yanks the television plug out of the wall before it explodes. She shakes it at the Commander, then throws it at the poor, crushed television. She glares up at him with fiery, livid blue eyes.
“Just what in *hell* is your problem?!” She shouts hoarsely.
“Ms. Lynx, this is none of your concern!” he shouts back.
Virginia squares her jaw. When she speaks again, her voice is three octaves lower. “You did not just yell at me.”
“Look, I’m so sorry to ruin your little tantrum here, but how is destroying your home-my home-going to solve anything?”
“I just-” Feral glares again. “Why am I explaining myself to you? If it weren’t for me you’d be in jail right now!”
Virginia steps forward, hisses, and punches Feral across the right side of his face. The small she-kat has amazing explosive strength, and Feral topples sideways. He looks up incredulously at her.
“Are you still mad?” Virginia yells.
“Of course I’m still mad, I-”
“See? Violence never solved anything. I think I’ve learned that most of all. Of all the hits Benny accomplished, he still wound up with more enemies. Violence solves nothing, and neither does getting so angry.”
Feral rubs his cheek, which is starting to swell.
Gina’s gaze softens. Her voice comes out in a near whisper. “I’m sorry, let me get you some ice for that. Or peas…do you have any frozen peas…” Gina walks off into the kitchen, and Feral follows her. She starts digging through the freezer.
“Please, it was my fault, I got myself into it. Don’t care about me. Please.” Feral tries not to move his mouth, as it jars his cheek.
Gina continues to rummage.
“Commander, we got ourselves into the exact same sort of situation. If I deserve you watching-ah ha!-“she finds the peas “-you watching over me, you most certainly deserve peas.” Gina holds up the bag and smiles.
Feral laughs, but then cringes. “Ow..”
Gina hits the bag on the counter a couple times, then places it on Feral’s face.
“I’m sorry,” she apologizes again.
“What were you getting so mad about, anyway?”
Feral pauses. She’ll hear it on the news anyway, he thinks.
“The Megapolitan Mattress Warehouse was bombed, we think by the Jaque-Tabbys.”
Gina nearly drops the bag. “What?! Was everyone alright?”
Feral swallows hard. “There were at least thirty casualties.” He sees the horror in Gina’s eyes.
“It’s doubtful Benny was in-”
“I don’t care about Benny.” Gina shakes her head, her face beginning to streak with tears. She lowers her head to Commander Feral’s chest and begins to sob.
Feral is puzzled, and he finds himself biting back tears of his own. Blinking, he places a hand on the back of Gina’s head, running his fingers through her hair. So soft, delicate, fine…like an angels… The sixteen-year-old band of pain around Feral’s chest suddenly begins to loosen.
Chance picks Brent up from the seat gently, and Streak grabs his backpack.
Hearing the door open and shut, Jake calls from the kitchen. “You guys home?”
“Sh!” Both kats hiss.
Jake walks into the front room, sees Brent, and blinks.
“I didn’t know you guys had been gone that long,” Jake muses.
Streak smirks and slaps his shoulder. The smaller kat rubs his shoulder painfully, and Streak takes a half empty pack of cigarettes out.
“Could you set him down on my bed?” she asks Chance softly, putting a cigarette between her lips. “I’m gonna step out for a second.”
She steps out, and Chance takes Brent and lies him gently on Streak’s bed, putting a cover over him. Glancing out the window, he sees a lean, amazonian silhouette hunched over on the curb. Streak stares at the moon, not thinking much of anything. She looks up as Chance walks out.
“You didn’t have to come out here to do that,” he says, pointing at the cigarette in her paw.
Streak lights it and nods. “Yes, I did. Smoke is bad for a young kitten’s lungs. Hell, it’s bad for me…” She smiles and coughs lightly. She takes a long drag, the embers at the end flaring into bright orange coals. She begins to speak again, the words light blue smoke trails crawling up to the full summer’s moon.
“Lee-lee just isn’t the best about things like that…I worry…”
“Who’s Lee-lee?” Chance asks. He rolls up his sleeves. It’s another hot MKC summer night. The pavement, though it’s been dark for hours, still lightly blisters the pads on his feet.
“Lee-lee is Louisianna, Virginia’s sister.” An inflective melancholy washes over her face, and she throws the finished coffin nail at the black, slick pavement. She grinds it in with the heel of the sneakers Jake loaned her.
“So what was with the pink rose?” Chance inquires.
Streak laughs softly and lights another cigarette. “That was how Lee found out Gina and I were dating.”
Chance nearly chokes. “Dating?”
“Yeah…It was a phase for her, I guess…” Streak looks sad, but then smiles melancholically. “She’s always trying to improve herself… I guess by doing so she had to get rid of me…”
Streak’s eyes glaze with tears. “It was best she did…but I still wound up ruining her life, if she’s even still alive…” Streak tries not to sob hysterically.
“What happened?” Chance asks, venturing an arm around Streak.
She lies her head on his shoulder and tells him about the fight, the bet, and her last meeting with Benny, how he had another girl.
“Benny doesn’t dump or get dumped. When he’s through with you, he kills you.” Streak sobs into Chance’s chest. “I knew about the bet…but I just had to win…it’s all my fault!”
She mutters incoherent things, things Chance is sure are just more self-accusations. He just wraps his arms around her and lets her cry.
Without knowing it, Feral pours his heart out to Gina. They had moved from the kitchen table to the couch. As the Commander finishes his tale, Gina takes his head in her small hands. He lies his head against her soft chest, and continues.
“She…she was my entire reason. She was the only one who could make me laugh…make me smile. She reminded me of my mother, I suppose. So good, kind, pure, innocent…. beautiful…” Feral fights back the burning tears.
Softly, Gina ventures, “Why haven’t you cried about it?”
Feral begins to answer, one he has convinced himself with, but is left speechless.
“Lis….you’ve got to cry, Lis. The mourning always has to come. It chases away the darkness, like the morning sun to the night.” Gina begins to stroke his cheek softly.
“Because no matter what, Lis, she’ll always be gone. Except in your heart. And if you don’t let the tears out, there just won’t be room.”
Feral picks his head up and opens his mouth to answer, but Gina places a soft paw on his lips. As he searches the depths of the liquid of the she-kat’s denim eyes, Commander Ulysses Feral breaks into sobs, for the first time since his mother died thirty-two years before.
He weeps for her, he weeps for Anna, for Gina, for all of the tragedies, hardships, frustrations he’s forced into a dark corner of his mind since the age of ten. For Felina, for being so hard on her. Clawson and Furlong, for his part in their exile. And for once, for himself. He engulfs himself in self-pity, because, after all he’s done, who is there to cry for him but himself?
As she rests her head upon the Commander’s, Gina cries for him.
Four Days Later….
In the morning, or more accurately, in the afternoon, Chance wakes up. He goes downstairs.
“Where’s Streak?” he asks.
Chance worries for a second, but then flops onto the couch, flipping on the set. Meanwhile, an in-depth discussion goes on in the kitchen.
“Well, because…do you really want me to go into this?”
“Yup. All we’re learning in school is dumb stuff like multiplication.”
“In the first grade?”
“Well…they moved me into an advanced second-grade class, but they said any higher than that an’ the other kids’d start picking on me.” Brent slaps his pancake down onto his plate.
Jake leans over it. “Who’s it this time?” he inquires.
Brent rolls his eyes impatiently. “Spider-Kat.”
Jake looks at it and nods. “Yes. Uncanny.”
“Jake!” Chance calls. “Look!”
Jake’s gaze moves to the tellie.
“-Gora, Katseye News, reporting live from the scene of a hostile-”
All of a sudden, from the garage, a loud klaxon sounds.
Chance and Jake look at each other once and run for the locker room.
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