In The Family Way
By Jade F. Callan
(Dedicated to the original Janine – one of the sweetest women in the universe, and someone I love dearly)
Janine waited patiently in Commander Feral’s office, though her patience was beginning to wear thin. When she had first arrived, he had been putting on his coat, and she was afraid he had forgotten their meeting. Feral had explained that he hadn’t forgotten, but there was a situation up on the roof that needed his attention, and he would be right back. Apparently, they had different ideas on what right back meant, since Janine had been waiting almost an hour.
Finally, she felt the need to stretch her legs, and got out of her chair. Walking around the large desk, she caught sight of something she hadn’t noticed before. It was a tri-fold picture frame and Janine leaned over to look at the pictures in it. The ones in the middle and on the right were of Felina, Feral’s niece. The one in the middle, she finally realized, was also of Felina, but as a kitten of about five or six.
“Find something interesting?” Feral’s low voice reached her from across the desk.
“Something new,” Janine said, mainly to cover her embarrassment at being caught snooping, “The photos of your niece are nice.”
“Mmmmm,” Feral answered, walking around to stand next to her, “Kats usually do have pictures of their children around.”
“Children?” Janine returned to her original seat.
“Do you remember when I found out about Felina being pregnant, about two months ago?”
“Well, her parents and I had quite a scene,” Feral briefly described the fight with Helen and Menelaus, and the outcome.
“Felina is lucky to have you,” Janine observed.
“I suppose she is,” Feral’s tone became more serious, “But it’s high time we get down to the matter we came here to discuss. I appreciate you coming back after hours, and apologize for making you wait.”
“It’s all right, Commander.”
“Now,” Feral sat down in his chair behind the desk, “What have you found out the last few days?”
Janine laid a familiar manilla folder on the desk, and pushed it over to him, “I’ve narrowed it down to five possible kats.”
Feral took the folder, opened it, and scanned the list of names, “Interesting. The last four I can understand, but why the first?”
“Well,” Janine shifted in her chair, “Some of the evidence could point to him……”
“In other words, it’s a gut instinct.”
He closed the folder, “What do you think our traitor will try next?”
“I’m not sure. He seems to be getting more careful.”
“Do you think he knows he’s being observed?”
“Possibly, but I doubt it.”
“Is he still using Mike Callahan’s old accounts?”
Janine nodded, “And he’s accessed Lieutenant Feral’s private e-mail on a couple of occasions, until she changed the password.”
This information caused Feral’s eyebrows to arch, “Does she know?”
“I don’t think so. He does seem to be stepping up the campaign against her, though.”
He gave Janine back the folder, “Keep on top of this, and put that list in the vault, or better yet, burn it. We can’t have it seen by anyone.”
“Yes, Sir. Anything else?”
Feral was quiet for a few moments, then finally spoke in a soft voice, “Yes, Janine, there is something else.”
She had a feeling about what was coming next, but kept silent. She set the folder back down on his desk, and watched his face.
Feral looked at her, then got out of his chair and walked over to the windows on the far wall behind him. Janine heard him sigh heavily, and she got up and went over to join him, standing to his right. She placed her paw lightly on his shoulder.
“Putting it off won’t make it go away,” Janine told him, “What is it?”
He turned towards her, and took her paw off his shoulder, holding it in his own, “It’s this, Janine. What’s happening between us.”
She nodded at him to continue.
“I’m just not sure it’s right. I mean you’ve been my secretary for years, and……”
“It’s a cliche?” she tilted her head at him, and he could see the sadness in her eyes.
“No, damn it, it’s not that,” he held her paw tighter, “I…..we…..”
Janine put a finger on his lips, and Feral trailed off. She then moved her finger and spoke, looking into his eyes, “I embarrass you, is that it?”
“Hell, no. This is just not the ideal situation for me, Commander of the Enforcers, to be in.”
“Kissing your secretary, you mean?”
“It goes further than that,” Feral said, “I’m afraid I’m starting to……. have deeper feelings for you than I should.”
Janine removed her paw from his, and took a couple of steps back, “Do you want me to quit?”
“No. Actually, I’m not sure what I want anymore,” Feral growled.
Janine studied him for a moment, then turned and walked back to the desk to get her folder. She faced him from across the room, “When you figure it out, let me know,” she headed for the door, “I may still be around,” the door clicked shut behind her.
“Damn,” Feral hissed into the empty room.
Jake watched Sami as she walked back into the living room carrying two glasses of wine. She seemed to get more beautiful every time he looked at her. She also continued to surprise him, having moved out of Enforcer Headquarters just a week after graduation. Not that he minded.
“Are you still with me, Jake?” Sami’s voice broke into his thoughts, and she waved a half full wine glass under his nose.
“Sorry, babe. Just thinking,” he took the glass.
“Probably about some carburetor you still have to fix,” Sami smiled as she sat next to him on the couch.
“Not quite,” Jake sipped his wine, “So, mind if I ask a nosy question?”
“How’d you get the money to move and buy all the stuff for this place? I mean, this is a great apartment,” he gestured around the large, well furnished living room, “You only graduated two months ago, and even then, Enforcers don’t make that much money.”
“Actually, it’s because I’m a spoiled brat,” Sami giggled.
“I’m an only child,” she explained, “So my parents have extra money. They usually spend it on me. When I mentioned that I wanted to move, they jumped at the chance to help me.”
“I can see that.”
“And aren’t you glad? It was uncomfortable for you at Enforcer Headquarters, after all.”
“How did you know?”
Sami only smiled at him before changing the subject, “How’s Chance? I haven’t seen him in a while.”
“If you came over to the garage more often, you would,” Jake pointed out.
“Then tell Felina to stop working me so hard.”
Jake grinned, “Chance is fine, give or take a few bouts of nervousness about his impending fatherhood.”
“He’ll be a great father. Didn’t you say he comes from a large family?”
“Yeah,” Jake set his now empty wine glass on the coffee table in front of the couch, “He’s the oldest of seven.”
“Wow,” Sami’s glass joined Jakes’, “I can’t even imagine that.”
“Me neither. I only have two sisters.”
“When do I get to meet them?”
Jake made a face at her, “Some day, when I’m sure they can handle it.”
Sami let it go for now, and again changed the subject, “It’s getting late. Do you have to go?”
“Do you want me to?”
“No,” Sami smiled, “That’s another reason I moved out of Enforcer Headquarters so quickly.”
Jake reached over and plucked the large clip out of her hair, sending golden waves cascading down her back. Running his fingers through her silky hair, he pulled her to him with his other paw, and kissed her deeply. She returned his kiss, then slowly disengaged. Without another word, both kats rose off the couch, Sami taking his paw in hers, and walked towards her bedroom.
Big Al leaned against the mailbox on the corner and surveyed the dark street. In some of the older sections of town, like this one, they weren’t too quick about replacing the burned out streetlights, so Al had plenty of darkness to work with. That made his job that much easier.
Waiting a few more minutes, to be sure the Enforcer patrol had passed, Al carefully glanced at the entrance to the jewelry store across the street. White hot anger filled him when he remembered how his sister had been evicted from the building so the landlord could rent it out commercially. It was time to teach the kats around here a lesson, and Al was just the tom-kat to do it. Glancing down at his watch, Al realized the patrol was gone, and he started walking down the street, keeping an eye on his objective.
Chance awoke when Felina sat up next to him in bed. He looked at her with bleary eyes, “What is it?”
Felina put her paws on her protruding belly, “Your kitten just drop kicked my kidney.”
“Our kitten,” he corrected, “C’mon back down here.”
Felina lay back down, and rolled onto her side, her back to Chance. He reached over and drew her close to him, then began to rub her belly.
“Why does he always settle down when you do that?” she asked, snuggling against him.
“Because she knows how much I love her, and her mother,” Chance replied.
“Still think it’s a girl?”
“Still think it’s a boy?”
Felina smiled, “Want to bet on this?”
“Sure, but won’t the doctors tell you what it is at your appointment tomorrow?”
Chance grinned, “You’re on. What do you want to bet?”
“How about which one of us tells my uncle about you?”
“Still can’t tell him yet?”
“I’ve tried,” Felina confessed, “but, somehow, I can never seem to find the right time, or the right words.”
“Maybe it’s me that’s the problem,” Chance’s voice was very quiet.
“Don’t start that again, Chance,” she warned, rolling over to face him, “I’m not ashamed of you, just afraid of what my uncle might do to you once he finds out. After all, you are still technically an Enforcer.”
“I know,” he sighed, “But you’re taking your time with this.”
Chance felt her body begin to tense, and pulled her close, “As long as you still want me, it’s ok.”
“I’ll tell him, I promise.”
“We still haven’t decided on the bet.”
“Hmmmm,” Felina lay against him, “How about a back rub?”
“Sounds good to me,” Chance said.
“Should we ask Jake and Sami to place bets as well?”
“I don’t think we should disturb them.”
Felina giggled, “I never thought I’d see the day Jake Clawson spent the night at a she-kat’s apartment. I figured he was too shy to even kiss her until they had been married six months.”
“Nope. Believe me, he’s no monk. He was just waiting for the right girl to come along.”
“I’m glad they found each other.”
“So am I,” Chance began to kiss her neck, “And I’m glad I found you, even if you are a Feral.”
“If you weren’t kissing me, I’d have to slug you for saying that,” she moved closer.
“Felina?” he whispered.
“Yes?” she purred.
“Stop talking and c’mere.”
“I’m telling you, Trent, I heard something,” Harry Snow said to his partner as the pair moved to the back of Flemings Jewelry store.
“I think you’re going soft, Snow,” Trent said, leaning against the wall of the building, “I didn’t hear anything.”
Snow unclipped a flashlight from his belt as he rounded the corner. Flipping the switch, he moved the beam of light over the dark alleyway. The only thing he saw, however, were a few abandoned garbage cans.
“Well?” Trent slowly came around the corner, “Find anything?”
Snow snapped off the flashlight and returned it to his belt, “No. Let’s get back to our patrol.”
“Maybe you better lay off the doughnuts,” Trent advised, as the two made their way back to their car.
“Yeah, maybe,” Snow got in the car, still convinced someone had been nosing around that jewelry store. He was going to put it in his report, no matter what Trent said.
A strange silence settled over the day room when Felina entered, and she surmised that she had been the topic of conversation once again. Even with all the support shown at the graduation ceremony, there were still some Enforcers who didn’t approve of her being pregnant and single. That didn’t even count those who thought she got special treatment as Commander Feral’s niece. Ignoring some of the looks aimed at her, Felina went over to the terminal to sign in. After punching in her code, she was notified and pleased to see that Sami was already logged in. She looked up, and spotted her partner across the room. Getting up form the terminal, however, Felina almost got caught on the edge of the table, but gracefully avoided disaster.
“Smooth move,” Sami grinned as Felina came over to sit next to her.
“Thanks. I take it there must have been an interesting conversation going on in here before I arrived?”
“Mmmmm,” Sami sipped her coffee, “They didn’t see me back here. The walls have ears.”
“So, am I to be stoned?”
“Nope. Just dumped out of a chopper over the bay to see if you float or not.”
“Oh, is that all?” Felina smiled in spite of everything.
“Something like that.”
“You shouldn’t worry about such things,” Sami said lightly, “It’s just more of the same. Ignore it.”
“You’re right,” Felina sighed, “I just want to make sure I can depend on my fellow Enforcers.”
Sami was glad to see more than a few kats at the nearby tables with embarrassed looks on their faces, “You can depend on me. You know that.”
“I know. And thanks.”
“Sure. How’re you feeling?”
“Like a beached whale,” Felina patted her midsection, “And this new uniform is huge.”
“Well, what did you expect?” Sami laughed.
“At least the morning sickness has passed. Only three more months to go.”
Sami finished her coffee, “Is it a boy or a girl?”
“Dunno. I’ll find out today. Want to bet on it?”
“I don’t think I’m allowed to bet with a superior officer.”
“How about with a good friend?”
“In that case,” Sami leaned back in her chair, “I’ll bet you lunch it’s a girl.”
“You’re on,” Felina got up, “Now, we better move. We have to stop up on the roof and run some systems checks, then be down at the Commander’s office. Tight schedule today!”
“As always,” Sami stood and followed in Felina’s wake, marveling at her friend’s energy.
Phineas looked up and smiled as his girlfriend, Jocasta, walked into his art gallery. He took in her pink dress, upswept brown hair, and soft green eyes, and quickly mad his way over to her.
“Ready to go?” she asked, “Unless you’ve changed your mind, that is.”
Phineas shook his head, “I’m not crazy. Give me five minutes, and I’ll be ready. What’s with the dress?”
“Well,” Jocasta blushed slightly, “It’s not every day a she-kat gets engaged.”
Phineas’ smile widened, “I called over to Flemings. They’re going to have some bracelets all ready for you to look at,” with that, he kissed her lightly, then hurried off, calling to his assistant.
Jocasta watched him go, smiling at the spring in his step. After hearing what had happened to his sister, Felina, she had been concerned he might want to take a step back from their relationship. She had been quite surprised when he had proposed, and had said yes immediately. Seeing him today, she knew she had made the right decision.
Janine realized she could put it off no longer. The set of orders she had typed needed Commander Feral’s signature. Slowly, she got out of her chair and approached the office door. When she knocked, it sounded louder than normal.
“Come in,” Feral called.
Janine opened the door and entered the room. After taking a lot of time closing the door behind her, she finally turned to face him. He seemed to be studying her. The tension in the room hung over them like a blanket.
“I brought these orders in for you to sign, Sir,” she advanced on his desk, the papers held in front of her like a shield.
“Fine,” said Feral, watching her as she walked towards him. When she finally reached him, he took the papers, scanned them, then picked up a pen and scrawled his name across the bottom. He gave the papers back to her, then looked at her again, “Is that all?”
“Yes, Sir,” Janine replied, drawing herself up, “Sorry to disturb you.”
“You’re just doing your job, Janine,” Feral noted she flinched slightly when he said her name.
“You’re right, that’s all it is,” she turned and headed for the door, “I’ll be at my desk, Sir.”
Feral watched her until the door closed behind her. It was only when he looked down that he noticed his paws were shaking.
Maria Clawson lifted a paw to her dark red hair, tucking a lock back from her face. She was happy with her new short hairstyle, but the wind was making a mess of it. Her cool gray eyes scanned the kats moving up and down the sidewalk in front of her.
She turned at the sound of her sister’s voice, and finally saw Evette moving quickly in her direction.
“Sorry I’m late,” Evette panted, stopping in front of her sister, “I was working on some projects for the kittens in my class, and time got away from me.”
“I see,” Maria sounded vaguely annoyed, but was used to her little sister’s tardiness.
“Oh, come on, Maria. Being a teacher is not as precise as being an engineer at Pumadyne.”
A slight smile crept across Maria’s face, “OK, you’re off the hook. Any ideas on what we should get Mom for her birthday? Flemings has some nice pins.”
“Fine by me. Should we ask Jake to pitch in, too?”
The smile disappeared, “I don’t think he could afford it.”
“He’s our brother, Maria.”
“Don’t remind me. He let that Furlong idiot ruin his career.”
“Look, let’s just drop it,” Evette said, “C’mon, the jewelry store is over there.”
Without another word, the two sisters crossed the street and entered Flemings Jewelry Store.
Tony Furlong looked up at the street signs, wondering when they had been last repaired. One was bent almost in half, and the other was so rusted, you could barely see the lettering. No matter to him, he knew his way around this part of town, but still it would be nice if the city took care of things like that. Making a right at the next corner, Tony made his way to Flemings Jewelry Store, and went in. He stool sill for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the dimmer light inside.
“May I help you?” a young she-kat behind the counter asked.
“Hi, Doris,” Tony greeted her.
“Tony? I never expected to see you in here,” she responded as he stepped over to the counter.
“I thought you were getting married this week?”
“Next week, silly.”
“Oh,” Tony grinned, then fished a claim ticket out of his pocket, “my brother Chance has something on layaway. I’m here to make the final payment and pick it up for him.”
Doris took the ticket and scanned it, “This is a nice piece. He must really love her.”
“How do you know it’s not for our mother?” Tony raised an eyebrow at her.
Instead of answering, Doris simply laughed, and headed into the back of the store to get Chance’s purchase.
Tony turned and looked around the store. There were only five other kats there. One other clerk, two she-kats looking at pins, and a couple examining engagement bracelets. At the sound of a tiny silver bell over the door, Tony glanced over to see one more kat enter the store. Before he could get a good look, however, Doris returned from the back room.
“Here you go,” Doris opened a long black velvet box to show Tony the contents.
Tony looked down into the box. Inside lay a delicate silver chain. On closer inspection, he realized the links were actually tiny letter f’s. He shook his head, and dug into his pocket for the money Chance had given him yesterday.
“I told you it wasn’t for your mother,” Doris smiled as she took the money from Tony, “Just sign this receipt, and it’s all yours.”
“You’re too sharp for me, Doris,” Tony informed her as he scrawled his name on the bottom of the form. As Doris separated her copy of the receipt from his, Tony glanced again at his brother’s gift for Felina. He had to admit, Chance had good taste. Snapping the box shut, he tucked it into the inside breast pocket of his jacket, and looked again at Doris, who was having trouble separating the receipts. He was just about to offer to help her when another voice spoke.
“Nobody move,” intoned the big tom-kat who had recently come in, “I got some different kind a business here.”
Tony glanced into the mirror on the counter, and could see the big kat behind him. He could also see the large gun in the kat’s paw.
“Now, all of you, come out to the center of the room. No tricks. I’m watching you….”
Tony looked at Doris, then shifted just enough for her to step on the silent alarm at her feet without the gunkat seeing her.
“C’mon, move! Get your paws in the air!”
Tony slowly raised his arms, then turned to join the others in the middle of the store. He walked over to stand next to the young tom-kat who had been looking at engagement bracelets. Doris came out from behind the counter and stood next to the other clerk.
“That’s it……nice and cozy…..”
Tony studied the gunkat closely. He was bigger than Chance, and muscular, not to mention in possession of a rather large gun. Tony only hoped that the alarm Doris had pressed worked, and The Enforcers showed up before someone got hurt.
Felina shifted slightly in her chair as she and Sami waited for Commander Feral to finish signing more paperwork Janine had brought in. The meeting had been going fine, with Feral reviewing Sami’s performance in her first two months as an officer, when Janine had brought in some things to be signed. The tension between Feral and his secretary was almost visible.
“You OK?” Sami whispered.
Felina nodded, placing a paw on her stomach, “He’s just jumpy.”
Finally, Feral gave Janine back the pile of papers. Felina noted they didn’t look at each other, and carefully avoided letting their paws touch. Janine had just started towards the door when there was a loud knock.
“Come in,” Feral growled.
Paul Lynx, breathless, plowed into the room, coming to a stop in front of Feral’s desk.
“Yes, Lynx?” Feral raised an eyebrow at the tom-kat.
“Commander Feral, there’s a hostage situation at Flemings Jewelry Store, downtown,” Lynx blurted out, “The alarm system went off, and our patrol was nearby. One of the officers has been talking to the gunkat for some time now.”
“How many perpetrators, and how many hostages?”
“One gunkat, seven hostages.”
“Any idea who the hostages are?” Felina cut in.
Lynx looked at Commander Feral, who nodded for him to answer, “The two store clerks, Doris Newland and Eddie Smitts. Two sisters, Evette and Maria Clawson……”
That produced a gasp from Sami, and Felina reached over and touched her friend’s shoulder reassuringly.
“……..a tom-kat, Tony Furlong,………”
Felina’s eyes widened. She hoped Chance was home, so she could call him as soon as possible.
“………and one other couple…….”
“Who are?” Feral prompted.
“Jocasta Achilles and……..Phineas Feral.”
“What?!?!?!” Felina leaped to her feet faster than anyone would have thought she could in her state, “Phineas?”
“Lieutenant, sit down,” Feral ordered, looking at her sternly. After a moment, Felina sat, but on the very edge of the chair. Feral then turned back to Lynx, “Are the hostages all right?”
“What does the gunkat want?”
“It seems to be some sort of revenge motivation, Sir.”
“Seems the landlord evicted the gunkat’s sister.”
“I see,” Feral stood up and put on his coat, “Lieutenant Higgins, it’s your job to watch Lieutenant Feral. Lieutenant Feral, you are ordered to stay at Enforcer Headquarters until further notice.”
“Uncle, you can’t! Phineas is…..”
“In danger. And I will do what it takes to get him out of it,” Feral cut her off, “I don’t need you endangering your kitten. Stay here.”
Before Felina could protest, Feral was almost to the door.
“Commander,” Janine called.
He turned reluctantly, “Yes, Janine?”
“In his report, Officer Snow made reference to hearing someone sneaking around that jewelry store last night.”
Feral looked at her for a long moment, “Get him, and tell him to meet me at the scene.”
On the fifth ring, Harry Snow finally managed to snatch the phone from it’s cradle. He raised it to his face and mumbled into the receiver, then realized he was holding it upside down. Harry sat up and turned the phone around, “Hello?”
“Officer Snow?” Janine Hayes’s voice came over the line, “Commander Feral wants to see you at a crime scene.”
“What?” Harry woke up a bit more, “I’m not on duty. I’m on the night shift this week.”
“Yes, and according to your report, you saw some suspicious activity in the vicinity of Flemings Jewelry Store last night.”
“There’s a hostage situation unfolding there right now.”
Harry got out of bed and reached down to pick up his uniform from off the floor, “I’ll be right there.”
“Hey, Chance,” Jake said, leaning down to where the bottom half of his partner was sticking out from under the car they were about to tow, “I think something’s up.”
“What?” Chance slid out from under the car, having finally gotten the tow cables hooked up.
“Dunno. There seems to be some sort of excitement a couple of blocks over.”
“Wanna take a look?”
“Might as well,” Jake helped Chance to his feet, “I saw some Enforcers heading up that way,” Jake pointed off to the right.
“Hmmm, that’s a commercial district,” Chance told him, “Something must be up. Let’s go check it out.”
Locking the tow truck, the two tom-kats headed for the center of attention a couple of blocks over.
Tony sat with his back against the wall, in the middle of the row of hostages. Their captor, Big Al, insisted on putting him in the middle, to keep and eye on him. That only made sense, as Tony was tho only kat close in size to Big Al. Tony was between the two sisters, whom he had heard give their names as Evette and Maria Clawson. He glanced at the two. Maria just looked angry, but Evette looked frightened.
“You doing OK?” Tony spoke to Evette in a low voice.
“Yeah,” she whispered back, looking over at him.
“Aren’t you Jake’s sister?”
Evette’s eyes widened, “Yes. How do you know Jake?”
“Chance is my brother.”
A hiss came from Maria, “You’re related to that hothead? He ruined out brother’s career.”
Before Tony could defend his brother, Phineas, on the other side of Maria, broke in, “Can we save the family feud for later, and concentrate on getting out of this?”
Tony nodded, “OK, what do we know about the situation?”
“He’s on the phone with The Enforcers,” Maria nodded towards Big Al, who was being the counter, a phone to one ear, “So they must be outside.”
“And I heard him say something about revenge on the landlord,” Jocasta, on the other side of Phineas and closest to the counter, put in.
“So, it’s safe to guess none of us are a target,” Tony mused, “Just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“But how do we get out of here in one piece?” Evette wondered.
“I think we’ve gotta try to talk to him,” Tony glanced at the gunkat.
“He doesn’t look like a talker,” Jocasta observed, “but I heard him say his name is Al.”
Tony nodded, then set his brain to figure out how to talk to Al, the big kat with the big grudge and gun to match.
Commander Feral surveyed the area, satisfied that his Enforcers had managed to block it off safely. His attention was diverted by the sudden appearance of a certain head of blonde hair next to him.
“Higgins, what are you doing here?”
“Following your orders, Sir,” Sami told him, pointing off to the right.
Feral looked over and saw Felina standing near the communication station, where a hostage expert was talking to the gunkat via telephone. Setting his jaw in a hard line, Feral stalked over to his niece.
“You really didn’t think I was going to sit around while Phineas was in danger, did you?” Felina spoke before Feral could open his mouth.
“Felina, this is no place for a she-kat in your condition. I order you to return to Enforcer Headquarters immediately.”
“No, Uncle. Besides the fact that my brother is in danger, I took an oath to protect the city, just like you did.”
Feral pondered her words for a moment, then replied, “Very well. Just stay back, Lieutenant.”
“That won’t be a problem,” she nodded to something behind him, then slipped further back, away from the communications stand.
The Commander turned to find himself confronted yet again with one of his worst nightmares, Helen and Menelaus Feral.
Jake and Chance finally made their way to the front of the crowd, only to be confronted by a group of firefighters and Enforcers blocking off the street.
“Can you tell what’s going on?” Jake asked, craning to see around the roadblock.
“Nope,” Chance replied, “It seems centered on Flemings Jewelry Store, though. I……Hey, Joey!”
A young firefighter turned at the greeting, and Jake realized this was another of Chance’s brothers. Unlike Tony, however, Joe didn’t seem happy to see Chance.
“Just get back, Chance,” Joe said as he came over to them, ‘You’re not an Enforcer anymore, remember?”
“No kidding,” Chance returned “What’s going on in there?”
“None of your business,” Joe snapped, “Now, go on back to the garage, where you belong,” with that, the young kat turned back around and stalked off.
“C’mon, Jake,” Chance moved off to the left, “I hear Feral over this way. We can get some information just listening to him yell.”
Chance had turned quickly, but not so quickly that Jake couldn’t see the hurt in his eyes at Joe’s words. Silently, he followed his friend, wishing there was some way he could make up for Joe’s sharp words.
Felina was backing away from her parents’ timely appearance when she ran smack into Harry Snow. The extra weight of the kitten she was carrying caused her to stumble, and she would have fallen had Harry not caught her.
“Thanks, Snow,” Felina said as she regained her balance, “Sorry I bumped into you.”
“It’s OK, Lieutenant,” Harry smiled, “How’re you doing?”
“With the kitten, fine. With this,” she gestured to the crime scene, “Not so good.”
“What’s the matter?”
“My brother and his girlfriend are two of the hostages.”
Harry’s eyes widened, “What? I knew there was someone prowling around here last night. I need to talk to someone about what I saw.”
“The comm stand is over here,” Felina led him forward. After getting Harry settled, she turned and, unfortunately, stumbled right into the middle of an argument between her parents and her uncle.
“Listen, Ulysses,” Helen snapped, waving her finger in his face, “I insist you get my son out of that place immediately!”
“And just how do you expect me to do that, Helen? There are several lives at stake.”
“Your nephew should come first,” Menelaus put in as he gave Felina an ugly look, “And get your daughter out of here. She’s an embarrassment.”
“Don’t tell me my job, Menelaus,” Feral’s voice dropped to a dangerous tone, “Nor insult my Enforcers.”
“He’s right, Ulysses. She is an embarrassment,” Helen refused to look at Felina, “All the trouble in the family has been her fault.”
Felina felt her ears and cheeks burn with anger, but managed to hold her tongue. Blinking away tears, she turned to go, but felt her uncle lay a paw on her shoulder.
“Enough!” Feral thundered, “I’ve had it with the both of you!” He turned slightly to his left, “Carson! Escort these two to Enforcer Headquarters, and tell Janine to keep them updated on the situation here. Have her put them in one of the conference rooms.”
“Yes, Sir,” an Enforcer saluted, then approached Helen and Menelaus.
“You can’t do this!” Helen protested.
“That’s our son in there! We have a right to be here!” Menelaus added.
“Do you want me to arrest you?” Feral inquired coldly.
Meekly, Helen and Menelaus allowed themselves to be escorted to a waiting Enforcer vehicle. Both Commander Feral and Felina breathed a sigh of relief as the pair were driven away.
“Are you all right, Felina?” Feral tightened his grasp on her shoulder, and felt her relax slightly under his touch.
“I’m fine, Uncle,” she replied, turning to smile weakly at him, “but if you try to send me back to Headquarters with them there….”
“I won’t. Help keep this crowd under control, Lieutenant.”
Feral watched her go, then turned to the comm station. As he approached, he saw Harry Snow had finally arrived, “Well?” He grumbled at the so-called hostage expert.
“He hung up. We got an ID on him, though. His name is Alphonse Henry Tetrazelli. He’s called Big Al for short.”
“Does he deserve the nickname?” Feral wondered why this kat got paid so much money for getting such lousy results.
“We’re waiting for the file to arrive,” was the answer.
“Well, while we’re waiting, I’m gonna try talking to Big Al myself,” Feral motioned for him to vacate the chair, and the negotiator did so. Sitting, Feral took a moment to talk to Snow, “What did you see last night?”
“Not much, Sir,” Harry shifted his feet a little. Commander Feral, with his direct gaze and manner, always made him a little nervous, “I just got the feeling someone was lurking around here, that’s all.”
“I see. Let me know if you think of anything else.”
Phineas and the other hostages watched Big Al pace the floor in front of them. A few minutes before, he had slammed down the phone with a dark look on his face. Now, he was muttering something about useless Enforcers.
“Problems, Al?” Phineas asked, as the others tensed at the sound of his words.
Big Al stopped pacing, and turned to look at the tom-kat on the floor, “Yeah. Those stupid enforcers just don’t seem to get it.”
“I was never too fond of them myself,” Tony put in.
“You be quiet,” Al pointed his gun at the Tony in a rather threatening way.
“What don’t they understand, Al?” Phineas tried to soothe the big kat, least his gun go off.
“This ain’t about money. It’s about justice,” Al’s attention swung back to Phineas, and he lowered the gun, much to everyone’s relief.
“Yeah. The creep who owns this building owes me and my sister big time.”
“Why don’t they get it?”
“They’re stupid!” thundered Al, again waving his gun.
“Maybe you should tell them again? You could write it out first, then read it to them,” Phineas suggested, trying once again to get Al to lower the gun.
“Write it down? Why would I want…….” Al became still for a moment, and the gun was lowered once again, “Not a bad idea, kid. You,” he turned to Doris, “Where’s some paper in this place?”
“Over there, behind the counter,” Doris nodded to the left.
They all watched as Big Al crossed the store, went behind the counter, and got out the paper. Fishing a pen from his pocket, he began to scribble furiously.
“Think that was a good idea?” Tony whispered to Phineas.
“Better than getting shot.”
Big Al scribbled for a few more minutes, then paused to review his words. Nodding in satisfaction, he put away his pen, folded up the paper, and came back around to the hostages. He walked over and pointed to Maria, “Get up, Red.”
Maria complied, getting up as best she could with her paws tied together in front of her.
Al untied her wrists and gave her the folded note, “Take this to that idiot Feral. And take him,” Al gestured to Eddie Smitts, “with you.”
Maria nodded, and Eddie rose and followed her. The two headed slowly to the door of the shop. As they left, the phone began to ring once more.
Felina walked along the front of the crown, taking care to watch for straying kittens. Civilians at a crime scene made her nervous, and this one even more so, with all the unpredictable elements at work. She glanced over to where her uncle was on the phone with the gunkat, hoping some progress was being made.
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a uniform like that?” a familiar voice growled playfully on her left.
She turned quickly, “Chance! Jake! You heard about…….” she trailed off as confusion crossed their faces.
“We just came to see what was going on, Lieutenant,” Jake told her, stressing the last word as a warning to both her and Chance.
“You mean, you don’t know?” her eyes widened as she looked at their blank faces.
“Know what, Fel…….Lieutenant?” Chance caught himself just in time.
Felina beckoned them forward, and the two followed her to a spot a few feet away from the crowd.
“What is it?” Jake wondered why Felina had drawn them aside.
“There’s a hostage situation in the jewelry store over there,” she explained.
“And?” Chance prompted.
“Your brother, Tony, and both Jake’s sisters are among the hostages,” she finished. Both tom-kats simply stared at her for several moments, stunned. Finally, she spoke again, “Sorry, but I had to tell you before you found out some other way,” Felina muttered, mentally kicking herself for being so tactless, “My brother is in there too.”
“What’s going on in there?” Chance demanded, his eyes narrowing.
“It seems to be some sort of revenge motive,” Felina explained.
Chance turned to Jake, “We better go get the jet, bud.”
“I’m not leaving. Besides, it would take us forever to get back to the truck.”
“You couldn’t do much with the jet anyway,” Felina pointed out.
“I could do a lot with my fists,” Chance countered.
Felina was trying to figure out how to calm Chance when she heard Jake gasp loudly. The other two turned to see what had startled him, and saw a red-headed she-kat and a thin tom-kat walking towards Commander Feral.
“That’s Maria,” Jake whispered, moving forward.
Chance and Felina followed him, and found themselves joined by Sami as she came over from the left. The four gathered behind Feral as Maria and Eddie approached him.
For his part, Commander Feral gave the phone to the so-called expert and stood up, coming around the table to meet Maria. He called for the other Enforcers to stay back, and motioned Maria and Eddie towards him.
“Are you Feral?” Maria demanded as she approached, an angry look on her face. Eddie hung back, and was approached by another Enforcer to give his statement.
“Yes,” Feral replied.
“This is for you,” Maria held out a folded piece of paper, “Now, what the hell are you doing to get the others out of there?”
Feral took the paper from her, “Everything I can, I assure you. I take it you are unharmed, Miss….?”
“Clawson. Maria Clawson. And you need to do better.”
He unfolded the paper and scanned it carefully, “Please stay here, Miss Clawson. Our hostage expert will need to speak with you, as will I.”
“You think I’m going to entrust my sister’s safety to you? I’ll be here.”
Feral took the note over to the comm table to confer with the kats there, trying very hard to hide his annoyance with Maria.
“Maria,” Jake called, rushing to her, “Are you all right?”
She drew herself up, as if daring him to touch her, “I’m fine.”
Jake stopped short, and lowered his outstretched paws, “I’m glad you are OK,” he mumbled, “How’s Evette?”
“Apart from being held hostage, she’s fine.”
Sami, standing behind Jake, placed her paw in the middle of his back, to let him know she was there for him.
“Look, Maria, Jake’s just concerned about both of you,” Chance broke in, unable to stand seeing his friend hurt.
Maria’s eyes widened as she turned to face Chance, “Excuse me? What would you know about concern for anyone?”
Sami heard Felina growl behind her, and she gave the Lieutenant a warning glance. Feral was not too far away, and would see and hear everything if Felina attacked.
“I know it’s wrong to treat Jake like that,” Chance shot back, his temper getting the better of him.
“And how did you treat him? It’s your fault his career was ruined, not that being an Enforcer is much of a career. Flying was all Jake cared about, and you shattered his dreams and his reputation, simply because you couldn’t control your temper!”
“Enough, Maria!” Jake stepped inbetween his sister and his best friend, “Take your poison words elsewhere. Chance is one of the few kats to treat me decent no matter what happened. As for blame, it rests with us both. Don’t blame him for something I was part of.”
Brother and sister glared at each other for a moment, until Maria finally turned and walked over to Commander Feral. The four others watched her go, relieved.
“Sorry, Chance,” Jake muttered.
“It’s OK,” Chance replied.
“You two better come with me,” Sami spoke at last, “You can wait over here.”
“Chance, I……” Felina began, but he stopped her.
“I know, you’re on duty,” his eyes were sad, and she knew he needed her.
“Just stay put. I’ll get them out,” Felina mentally kicked herself once more, this time for not being able to comfort him.
Chance nodded, then moved to follow Jake and Sami. Felina stood still for a moment, then set her jaw in a stubborn line and moved around to the edge of the crowd. When she thought no one was looking, she slipped into an alley, moving silently.
“So,” Phineas spoke as they watched Al talk into the phone some more, “What do you think he wrote in that note?”
“Dunno. I’m just glad he let those other two go,” Tony replied.
Phineas nodded, then smiled slightly, glancing at Jocasta, “What a way to celebrate an engagement.”
“I saw you two looking at engagement bracelets. Congratulations.”
“Thanks. What were you doing in here before all hell broke loose?”
“Picking up something for my brother, Chance,” Tony explained, “He got his fiance a gift. She’s been feeling down lately, and had a bad time with morning sickness.”
“She’s pregnant, about four months along. I don’t know how she keeps up at work.”
“Pregnant?” Phineas studied Tony, “What does she do?”
“She’s an Enforcer. In fact, knowing her, she’s probably outside right now.”
“I see,” Phineas said carefully, remembering that Tony had spoken about someone named Chance, “And your brother works with her brother?” he nodded to Evette.
“They work in the military salvage yard, and run a garage on the edge of town,” Evette whispered.
Phineas had more questions, but before he could give them voice, Al hung up the phone and came around the counter.
“You,” Al pointed at Jocasta, then at Doris, “Get up.”
“What do you want with them?” Phineas demanded.
“I just traded them for some transportation,” Al snapped, “Now, get up!”
Jocasta glanced at Phineas, “I don’t want to leave you.”
“It’s OK, honey,” he soothed her, “Go on. I’ll feel better knowing you’re out of this.”
The two looked at each other for a moment, wondering if they would see each other again. Then, after a few terse words from Al, Jocasta stood up and walked over to the door to join Doris. Al untied their paws, then looked out the window to see a large sedan pull up. An Enforcer got out of the car, held up the keys, then tossed them to the door of the shop. Al instructed Jocasta to get the keys for him, as Doris walked towards safety. The door opened, and Doris stepped through. Jocasta followed, then leaned over to pick up the keys. Instead of going back inside, however, she darted to the right, running as fast as she could.
“Damn her!” Al howled, taking aim through the window.
“No!” Phineas was instantly on his feet, charging towards Al. Tony was right on Phineas’ heels.
“What the…..?” Al swung around, but he was too slow. Phineas crashed into Al as he brought the gun up, and the shot went wide. Unfortunately, the bullet plowed into Tony’s left shoulder, causing the big kat to stumble backwards.
Al threw Phineas off, then pointed the gun at the young artist, “I oughta blow your head off,” he snapped, “Now, get back against the wall.”
Phineas slowly got up, shaking his head to clear it. He wasn’t badly hurt, but wondered if anyone had been hit by that stray shot. As he turned, he saw Tony’s bloody shoulder and realized what had happened.
“I’m all right,” Tony anticipated Phineas’ question, “Just a flesh wound.”
“I’m sorry,” Phineas helped Tony up, “I was just trying to protect Jocasta.”
“Not your fault,” Tony said, as he sat down heavily next to Evette.
Evette, who had remained silent throughout the whole incident, leaned over to look at Tony’s shoulder, “It doesn’t look too bad, although I haven’t had a lot of experience with gunshot wounds,” Carefully, she took the scarf from around her neck and, folding it as best she could, placed it over the wound, tying it carefully.
“Thanks,” Tony smiled at her.
“You’re welcome,” Evette smiled back.
Phineas, on the other side of Tony, watched Al warily as the big kat angrily stared out the window at the car in front of the store.
Felina crept down the alleyway, and slowly came around across the alley to the back of the jewelry store. She could see the large padlock on the back door, but was reasonably sure she could blast it open with her gun. She stood still for a few minutes, trying to plot her strategy. The sound of a gunshot from inside the store, however, broke through her thoughts, and she drew her own weapon and started towards the store. Before she had taken five steps, she found herself grabbed from behind and thrust against the wall. Angry, she looked up……and into the face of an equally angry Chance Furlong.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Felina?” chance demanded, holding her shoulders against the wall.
“There was a shot, Chance! Someone could be injured! My brother could be dead!” Felina protested, struggling.
“Stop it. You are in no condition to go charging into a dangerous situation,” he told her.
“It’s my job!”
“And you are carrying our kitten! Doesn’t that count for anything, Felina?”
Felina stopped struggling as his words sank in, “Of course it does, Chance. I’d never do anything to endanger…..”
“Like running blind into a situation with an armed hood?”
She lowered her eyes, “You’ve made your point.”
“Have I? Look me in the eye and tell me you won’t endanger our kitten.”
Looking up, her brown eyes met his, “I promise, Chance. I’m sorry, I was only thinking about my brother.”
Slowly, Chance took her into his arms and held her gently, “I knew what you were up to when I saw you slip into the alley. Please, Felina, try to remember you are responsible for two lives now………ones that are more precious to me than anything else in the world.”
Felina put her weapon away and slid her arms around his neck, “Chance, I’m so sorry. I promise to be careful.”
He held her close for a moment, then released her and stepped back, “C’mon, let’s go back around to the front. I want to know what happened, and if anyone was hurt.”
The pair turned and walked back down the alley. It never occurred to either of them that they might not have been alone behind the jewelry store, and neither one felt the pair of eyes that watched until they were out of sight.
“I want to know what’s going on in there!” roared Feral, as the hostage expert frantically dialled the phone.
“He won’t answer, Sir,” the expert said timidly.
Feral walked away from the table, to the front of the cordoned off area.
“Uncle?” Felina came up on his left, “What happened?”
“We don’t know yet.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Something, Felina,” he drew his gun, and stared at the front door of the jewelry store.
“A distraction,” Tony mumbled under his breath as he watched Al pace once more.
“What?” Evette whispered back.
“All we have to do is distract him, and we could get the jump on him,” Tony said in a low voice, “After all, we already got these damn ropes loose.”
“Ah, he’s the one with the gun,” Phineas pointed out.
“There’s three of us, and only one of him,” Tony countered.
“Shut up!” Big Al boomed at them, waiving the gun.
The three fell silent, but, when Al’s back was turned, they carefully moved around so they could get up quickly when they needed to. Tony looked at Evette, who nodded, and then at Phineas, who did the same.
“Tony, look,” Phineas took a chance and spoke, nodding towards the door.
Tony turned to see what Phineas was talking about, and could just make out a rather large shape moving towards the outside of the front door.
Al also saw the movement, and pointed his gun at the door. Before he could fire, Commander Feral’s broad shoulder forced open the door.
“Enforcers!” Feral yelled, as Al fired at him. The bullet hit Feral near his collarbone, and he fell to the floor.
That was all the distraction the other three needed. Phineas reached Al just as Feral fell, and again ran into him. This sent Al stumbling across the floor. As he passed Evette, she stuck out a foot and tripped him. Finally, it was Tony’s turn.
“This is for the slug in my arm, creep,” Tony said, nailing Al with a fierce right cross. As Tony’s fist connected, Al dropped the gun.
“Freeze! Enforcers!” Felina’s voice rang out as she trained her weapon on Al, “Uncle, are you all right?”
“No, but I’ll survive,” came Feral’s voice from behind her, as he rose off the floor. There was blood spreading across the front of his coat.
The store began to fill with Enforcers. Sami cuffed Al, and she and two other Enforcers led him away. Harry got a medic to look at Tony’s shoulder.
“Phineas!” Jocasta cried as she ran into the store, and threw her arms around him, “Are you OK?”
Phineas smiled, and held her close, “I’ve never been better, honey. Especially since you are OK.”
Both Chance and Jake had finally managed to force their way into the shop, and were looking for their siblings among all the Enforcers.
“Chance, over here,” Tony called.
“Hey, little bro,” Chance came over. When he saw the blood on Tony’s shirt, however, his expression turned grim.
“Just a flesh wound,” Tony noted the concern on his brother’s face, “Just gotta go to the hospital and have them dig the slug out.”
“Want me to drive you?” Evette offered before Chance could reply.
“You don’t have to, Evette,” Tony turned to see her and Jake off to his right. Jake was hugging his sister even as she spoke to Tony.
“I want to,” Evette told him as she returned Jake’s hug, then disengaged from his arms, “It would make me feel better.”
“OK,” Tony nodded, then turned back to Chance, “Oh, before I forget,” he reached into his pocket and produced the black velvet box, “I picked this up for you. Pretty nice.”
Chance took the box and slipped it into his own pocket, “Thanks, Tony. You sure you don’t want me to go with you to the hospital?”
“I’m sure. Evette’ll take good care of me,” Tony smiled.
“We’d better be going,” Evette came over to him.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Chance,” Tony and Evette left the store.
Chance looked at Jake, “Do you think there’s more to that than meets the eye?”
“Could be,” Jake mused, “Your brother better be nice to my sister.”
“He will be. He’s a good kat,” Chance looked around, “Hey, where’s Felina?”
“She, her brother, and his fiance took Commander Feral to the hospital,” Sami said quietly from behind them.
The two turned around to her, and Jake smiled.
“I’m just glad this is finally over,” Sami sighed.
“Me, too,” Chance murmured.
“Me, three. Unfortunately, we still have a car to tow,” Jake reminded his partner, “C’mon, Chance.”
The two began to head out the door, when Jake stopped. He turned back around, walked back over to Sami, and took her in his arms, kissing her gently. She put her arms around him and returned his kiss, then smiled up at him.
“Come by after work?” he whispered.
Sami nodded, then released him. She watched as the two tom-kats headed out the door.
“Interesting choice of boyfriends, Lieutenant,” Harry Snow piped up.
“Oh, shut up, Harry.”
Commander Feral leaned back in his hospital bed. After his niece, nephew, and Jocasta had taken him to the emergency room, he had sent them away. Felina had gone to see her own doctor, and promised to be back later. The emergency room doctor had looked at him, and discovered the bullet had flattened on impact., and had not done much damage. After digging the bullet out, the doctor had stitched Feral up, given him some pain killers, and said he could go home after a few hours of observation. Feral was just contemplating calling someone to bring over some paperwork when there was a knock at the door, “Come in.”
Felina pushed open the door and entered, coming over to sit on the edge of his bed, “How are you doing, Uncle?”
“It hurts, but I’m fine,” Feral replied, “I’m guessing you bullied the nurse into showing you my chart.”
She smiled, “You know me too well, Uncle. I confess. But I was worried about you,” she laid her paw on top of his.
“Occupational hazard, Felina. Why do you think I ordered you to stay out of the area?”
“Speaking of which, I have a surprise for you,” she squeezed his paw.
“Would you rather have a grandniece or a grandnephew? Or should I say granddaughter or grandson?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Feral told her, “as long as he or she takes after the mother.”
“How about both?”
His eyes widened, “Twins?”
“Yep. One boy, one girl.”
“What did your fiance say about that?”
“He doesn’t know yet. I wanted to tell you first.”
“Then you had better go tell him, Felina. I’ll be fine. As a matter of fact, I’m going home soon.”
Felina nodded, “It was on your chart. How are you going to get home? Janine?”
“I doubt it,” Feral looked away.
Felina studied him for a moment, then spoke, “If you asked her, I’m sure she would, Uncle. No matter what you said before,” she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, then slipped out of the room, leaving him to ponder his options.
Chance and Jake had just finished dinner when someone knocked on the door.
“Sami’s early,” Jake said, his paws full of dishes.
“I’ll let her in, bud. I gotta go check on Tony at the hospital anyway,” Chance got up from the table and walked over to the door. When he opened it, however, he found a young tom-kat on the other side, “Can I help you?” Chance couldn’t help but notice he looked familiar.
“Are you Chance?” the tom-kat asked.
“Then this is for you,” the tom-kat cocked back his arm and sucker punched Chance with a sharp right hook.
Chance’s head rocked back as Phineas’ fist struck him, and Jake, hearing the noise, dumped the dishes he was holding into the sink and rushed out.
“What the hell?” Chance growled, his face darkening.
“That’s for what you did to my sister,” Phineas told Chance as Jake stepped inbetween the two.
“Let’s calm down,” Jake tried to soothe the warring tom-kats. Giving Chance a warning look, he turned to the stranger at the door, “Now, what exactly do you think Chance did to your sister?”
“What do I think? She’s four months pregnant, and he’s responsible!” Phineas fumed.
“Four months….” realization began to dawn on Jake, “I’ll take a guess that you are one of Felina’s brothers.”
“Why don’t you come in,” Jake motioned for Chance to move back, “and we’ll all talk about this.”
“Depends on what he’s gonna use to do his talking,” Chance replied, bringing his fists up.
“That’s enough!” Felina’s sharp voice came from behind Phineas, “Knock it off, both of you!”
All three tom-kats turned in surprise to find her glaring at them. It was Jake who was finally brave enough to speak, “When did you get here?”
“Right after Phineas did,” she still glared at them, “And I heard everything.”
“Look, Felina, I’m just trying to…..” Phineas began, but she cut him off with a look.
“Defend my honor? Phineas, shut up, settle down, and go have a seat on the sofa before I let Chance take a swing at you. And, believe me, he’s much bigger than you, it’ll hurt if he gets to you.”
With one last glare at Chance, Phineas stepped around Jake and went over to the couch, sitting down tensely.
“Felina, what the hell?” Chance looked at her, “Did you tell him?”
She shook her head, “No, I didn’t. He probably figured it out somehow. Maybe Tony let something slip.”
“Maybe,” Chance mused, “What’re you gonna do?”
“I’m going to talk to him,” Felina stepped into the room, “Can you two leave us alone for a few minutes, or do you want us to leave?”
“We got dishes to do,” Jake told her as he shut the door and pulled Chance into the kitchen.
Felina watched them go, then went over to sit beside her brother. She waited until he looked at her to speak, “So, how’d you find out?”
Phineas shrugged, “I asked Tony and Evette some questions, then put two and two together. It wasn’t that hard.”
“Indeed. And have you shared this with anyone?”
“You mean, have I told Uncle Ulysses? No, nor anyone else.”
She breathed a sigh of relief, “And do you intend to?”
“You can’t keep him a secret forever, Felina.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
Phineas looked away, “I don’t know. I mean, it seems to me our uncle should know, at least.”
“Well…….I don’t know. I just don’t like the idea of you keeping secrets from him. I mean, what if this bum mistreats you? He already got you pregnant,” Phineas turned back, only to see hurt and anger in his sister’s eyes, along with a little sadness.
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you, Phineas Ulysses Feral. You, of all kats…..Chance is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and he would never abandon or mistreat me. That’s our parent’s weapon, remember?”
He swallowed hard, “Felina, don’t blame me for being concerned about you. You’re my only sister. I don’t want anyone to hurt you.”
She nodded, her eyes softening a bit, “That doesn’t excuse you thinking Chance would mistreat me. You don’t even know him.”
“Because you have been keeping him a secret. I mean, other than the fact that our parents would hate him on sight, what’s the big deal?”
“Chance is still technically an Enforcer. I’m not sure what Uncle Ulysses would do to him if he knew about us,” briefly, she recounted Chance and Jake’s accident while chasing Dark Kat that led to their exile to the salvage yard, “Do you understand now?”
Phineas nodded at her.
“And are you going to tell anyone about us?”
“Get him back in here,” Phineas said, rising to his feet. Felina also got up, and called for Jake and Chance to come in.
“What’s going on?” Chance asked, coming over to her.
“Phineas has something to say,” she responded.
“Yes, I do,” the young tom-kat looked at Chance, “If you ever hurt my sister, in any way, I’ll reveal you are the father of her kitten to our uncle.”
“It’s our kitten,” Chance pointed out, putting his arm around Felina, “And I would never hurt either of them. Ever.”
“See that you don’t,” Phineas returned, then shifted his gaze to Felina, “If you ever need me, let me know.”
Felina nodded at him, “Only if you lose the tough guy image. It doesn’t suit you.”
A smile crept across his face. Without another word, Phineas turned and left the apartment. The other three listened as his car left the yard.
“Think he’ll tell?” Chance finally broke the silence.
“No,” Felina answered, “Now, come on. Sami’s waiting in the car downstairs for us to leave so she can come up.”
“I need to check on Tony,” Chance said, reaching for the phone.
“I already did,” Felina stopped him, “Your brother is fine. It was a flesh wound, like he told you. They dug out the bullet and sent him home.”
“How’d you find out?”
“I saw his chart.”
“Aren’t those supposed to be confidential?” Jake grinned at the thought of a pregnant Felina terrorizing some nurse.
“Ask Ann Gora,” came her reply.
“C’mon, let’s go,” Chance smiled, taking her paw in his, “We had better let Sami up here, before her curiosity runs rampant.”
“See you two later,” Jake called as they headed for the door.
“Good night, Jake.”
“See ya, bud,” Chance followed Felina out.
Commander Feral had just finished changing into the clean uniform that had been sent over when there was another knock at the door of his hospital room. Buttoning his coat, he called for whoever it was to come in, fully expecting it to be Felina or Phineas.
“Glad to see you are all right,” Janine’s soft voice announced her presence.
Feral looked up, “Janine? What are you…..?”
“I thought you might need a ride home. Unless you’d rather take a cab?”
“No. But I thought you said not to call you,” Feral leaned back against the bed, not quite ready to believe she was really there.
“That doesn’t stop me from worrying about you,” Janine pointed out, “Or from loving you.”
“Yes, Ulysses,” she crossed the room to stand in front of him, looking him squarely in the eye, “I love you. I have for quite some time now. And I didn’t want to quit without telling you.”
“Quit? You can’t quit, Janine,” Feral swallowed hard, “The Enforcers would fall apart without you.”
“What about you?”
He looked away, “I’m not sure. Maybe you picked the wrong kat to……be involved with. I’ve been told I’m married to my job.”
“By whom? I know you, Ulysses. I’ve seen you drop everything when your niece needs you. There’s a heart under there. But I won’t push.”
“Janine, I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Come on, let me take you home,” she reached out and took his paw in hers.
The touch of her paw was too much for him. Feral turned and looked down into her eyes, then pulled her close, kissing her. She willingly returned his kiss, wrapping her arms around him. Feral pulled back, but kept his arms around her, “Janine,” he whispered, “Don’t go. Please. This is difficult for me. I’ve been alone a long time.”
She seemed to consider his words, “If you really want me to stay, I will.”
“I want you to stay.”
“All right,” Janine smiled at him, then stepped back, “Now, let’s get out of here. I hate hospitals. Besides, you need your rest.”
Feral nodded, standing up straight, “I am tired of this place.”
“By the way, I found your brother and sister-in-law very…..interesting.”
“Don’t worry, I’m nothing like him.”
“I know. And I’m glad.”
Felina watched Chance stare out her living room window. The ride over had been quiet, and she could sense he was moody. With a sigh, she walked over behind him and slid her arms around his waist.
“Hey, Beautiful,” Chance mumbled as he felt her arms encircle him.
“What’s the matter, Hotshot? Worried about your brother?” she rested her chin on his shoulder.
“You gonna call him?”
“No, I’ll let him call me,” Chance covered her paws with his.
“What else is wrong? What Jake’s sister said to you?”
Chance swallowed hard, “It was mostly my fault. She’s right.”
“Shhh. Jake doesn’t see it that way. And neither do I.”
“Chance, don’t beat yourself up about it. You and Jake have managed to move beyond that whole incident. Don’t backtrack now.”
“It’s tough. Especially with so many kats there to remind me,” Chance closed his eyes, “But I will be OK.”
Felina let go of his waist and came around to stand in front of him, “Listen to me, Chance. I don’t’ care what other kats say. To me, you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Chance opened his eyes, and Felina saw the sadness there. A small grin crept across his lips, “Thanks. It’s nice to have someone on my side.”
“You have Jake too, you know.”
“Yeah, but I can’t help feeling I put him in this situation.”
“Let him be the judge of that,” Felina took his paw in hers.
“I’ll try,” Chance promised, squeezing her paw lightly, “Now, I have something for you,” he released her paw and reached for his jacket on the chair behind him.
“What is it?”
“Close your eyes,” Chance insisted, finally finding the right pocket. After making sure she had really closed her eyes, he took out the box and led her paw to it.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
Felina opened her eyes and looked down at the box under her paw. She instantly realized it was from a jewelry store, and looked back up at him, “What did you get me?”
Chance chuckled, “Well, open it! I’ve been paying on it for months.”
She turned the box around, lifting the lid. Delight filled her face when she looked inside, “Oh, Chance, it’s beautiful!”
“Glad you like it.”
“Like it? I love it!” Taking the chain out of the box, Felina set the box on the window sill and fastened the chain around her neck. It came to just below her collarbone. She touched it lightly, “How does it look?”
“Not half as beautiful as you, but it looks fine,” he informed her.
She moved closer to him, and kissed him gently, “Thank you very much, Chance,” her arms slid around his neck, “That was very sweet, and thoughtful. And now, I have a surprise for you.”
“This,” she released him, then took his paws and laid them on her belly, “You remember our bet?”
“About whether it’s a boy or a girl? Sure I do. Let me guess, you won, right?”
“We both did.”
“We’re having twins, Chance,” Felina said, “A boy and a girl.”
“Twins?” Chance looked a bit dazed.
A real smile finally crossed his face, and he pulled her into his arms again, “I can’t believe it,” he held her close.
“I can. Who do you think has been carrying them around for the past four months?” Felina replied, laughing.
“Then allow me to help,” Chance scooped her up into his arms.
“And just where do you think you are taking me?” she wondered.
“Where no one and nothing can touch us,” Chance whispered as he moved towards the bedroom, “I love you, Felina.”
“And I love you, Chance. Don’t ever forget that.”
“I won’t, Beautiful.”
Sami moaned as Jake rubbed her back, and she stretched contentedly. Turning her head, she looked up at him, “This has been one hell of a day.”
“For me, too. But it ended well.”
“Making love to you is definitely an improvement.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“You know what I mean,” Sami giggled.
Jake stopped massaging her and slid back under the covers beside her. He reached out and pulled her close, “I’m glad you’re here. I needed you.”
“I’m always here for you, my love,” she whispered, “Your sister really got to you today, didn’t she?”
“Maria knows all the right buttons to push,” Jake replied.
“I noticed. For both you and Chance.”
“Yeah,” Jake sighed, moving back a bit so he could look at her, “Poor Chance. He was really hurting. I could have strangled Maria. I just hope Felina can help him feel better.”
“I’m sure she will. She has some great news for him,” Sami idly ran her fingers through his hair.
“She’s having twins.”
“You mean we have to squeeze two kittens in here?” Jake laughed.
“Chance’ll be over the moon.”
“I hope so,” Sami answered, a troubled look on her face, “Jake, why is your sister so mean?”
“Maria? She’s not mean. Just difficult. In her own way, I know she loves me,” his fingers traced the vertebrae in the small of her back.
“She has a funny way of showing it,” Sami observed.
Jake nodded, “I know. I’m sorry, Sami.”
“Don’t apologize for her,” she continued to stroke his hair.
“Can you forgive her?”
“I guess. I still don’t like her being mean to you, though.”
“As long as she doesn’t hurt you,” Jake pulled her close once again, “Sami, you are the most precious thing in my life. I love you.”
“I love you too, Jake.”
“Stay with me tonight?”
“Tonight and always, my love.”
Navigate This Author's Stories
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.