Jake lay on his bed on his back.
The light on his ceiling in the middle of his room was off, and the room was flooded with the pink light of another MegaKat City sunset.
Another sunset, another day.
It’s not that Jake was sad, maybe just..melancholy. Or maybe depressed. Jake wasn’t his usual self, but he couldn’t face up to the fact he was genuinely miserable.
He remembered the look on Callie’s face: a mixture of confusion and hurt, then anger, but then hurt again.
*”Callie, I’m sorry, but…”*
Jake turned his head to the side as he thought of it. As he did, the door opened. Chance poked his head in and jumped at Jake’s involuntary glare.
“Woah…I thought you were asleep…”
“Nope. Just thinking.” Jake sighed and sat up, forcing a smile. “So, what’s up?”
“Well, this may not be great news, but it’s new…”
Chance walked into the room. Jake saw he was holding a piece of paper and an envelope.
“Oh no…your parents aren’t coming again, are they?”
Chance smiled nervously. “Well…it’s not my parents…”
At this Jake cocked an ear. “Somehow, I think I’m not going to like this…”
“Well…you know my sister, Shasta…?”
“Oh, great. Not her again. How old is she now?”
“She’s only 21, two years younger than you. Anyway, she hasn’t had much luck back home, so she’s coming to the city to try it out here.”
“Try what out?”
Chance shifted his weight to his left leg. “Her band, remember?”
“It’s not a band, it’s a group. They used to sing into vacuum cleaners!”
“She was eight then!”
“Oh, yeah. Last time I saw her she was fourteen and playing the tuba.”
“Well, now she plays rhythm guitar. She’s with a group of two other girls and her boyfriend Jerk-I mean-Jack.”
“I take it you don’t think too much of Mr. Jack?”
“That’s putting it much more politely than I would have.”
“So…is Shasta staying here?”
“No, I already told her that was impossible. They’re staying at the MegaKat Motel, but I’m sure she’ll crash here most of the time.”
“What about if the alarm goes off?” Suddenly, Jake was reminded of Callie, and this put him in an even worse mood.
“Well, I’m sure we can trust Shasta, even her friends…if Jack finds out, it’s the perfect excuse to kill him.” Chance grinned at the thought, then spent a couple of seconds giggling menacingly.
Jake looked up from the floor. “Earth to Chance!”
Chance jumped. “You just ruined a beautiful image.”
“Sorry. When do they arrive?”
“Late tonight, but she’ll probably hold off a visit until tomorrow.”
“Mm.” Jake pulled himself off his bed. “I’m gonna go shower.”
“How are you holding up?” Chance asked softly.
Jake spun around. “Just fine,” he snapped.
Chance held up his hands. “Alright. Just checking.”
Jake’s ears drooped slightly. “I’m sorry…it’s just-”
Chance smiled and patted Jake’s shoulder.
Jake lay across the couch, eyes blinking tiredly, watching Litterbin in the dark. The show that usually had him cracking up was still amusing him, but he couldn’t find it in himself to even crack a smile.
‘What is wrong with me?’ He wondered. ‘She was just a she-kat. A smart, beautiful, sharp-minded she-kat who was as in love with me as I was with her. As I still am…’
Jake felt his sinuses burn and the back of his throat tickle, when suddenly there was an urgent ringing of the doorbell, followed by pounding.
Okay, okay, hold on. Jake got up, scratching the fur of his bare chest and tossing a can of milk into the sink. He reached the door and yanked it open.
A yellow-furred she-kat with brown stripes, blonde hair, and hyper blue eyes pounced at him, flinging her arms around his neck.
“Hey Shasta,” he sighed, patting her on the back and forcing a smile.
“How ya doing, dweeb?” She socked him in the shoulder – hard.
“Nice pad,” she said, pushing past him into the house. Two other she-kats and a tom followed. The first she-kat had white fur, green eyes, and frizzy red hair with a button nose. The other had blonde hair, brown fur, and hard black eyes, with overly-large, pouting lips, and the tom was about 6’3, blonde hair, peach fur, blue eyes, and a sarcastic smirk.
“Yeah..great pad,” he agreed. “It’s better than the one-room we’ve been crashing in, anyway.”
Shasta turned again to Jake. Her blue eyes glowed with a mischief that reminded Jake too much of her brother.
“You’re just as scrawny as you used to be.”
“And you’re just as tactlessly boorish as *you* used to be.”
Shasta grinned. “Harsh…” She stepped forward, grabbed his face, and gave him a great big kiss.
“Great to see you again, Jake.”
Shasta walked off toward the hallway.
Who Jake presumed to be Jack followed Shasta.
“What was _that_ about?”
“Oh, cut it out, Jack. Jake is like a fourth brother to me.”
“I don’t care, I-” Jake couldn’t hear them as they disappeared down the hallway.
The red-head caught a glimpse of Jake’s face. “Don’t worry. They fight all the time. Jack’s always flirting with girls and Shasta’s always beating them up. I guess it’s a role reversal now.”
“So, Jack is gonna beat me up?”
“He might try. But, he’s not as tough as he looks.” The redhead smiled. “I’m Clawrice. This is Bo.” She pointed a thumb toward the scary-looking blonde, who had her head stuck in the refrigerator. She reached up a paw of greeting, but didn’t come up until she had a can of milk.
“I don’t know how old that is…” Jake warned.
Bo shrugged. “Don’ matter.” She popped it open and guzzled most of it down. Jake raised his eyebrows at Clawrice.
She smiled warmly. “I’m the one with manners. I’m the drummer. Bo’s the bassist, Jack is lead, and Shasta is rhythm.”
“What kind of music do you do?”
Clawrice shrugged. “None of the above. We do ‘Anubi’ music. Anubi is the name of our band.”
“I gathered. What does it mean?”
“It’s the plural of Anubis, we guessed. You know, the dog-headed Egyptian god?”
“Very well. Ancient history has always been an interest of mine.”
“Really? What aspect?”
“Ancient warfare and religion.”
“That’s a good balance.” Clawrice grinned warmly, and Jake smiled.
Chance walked into the room with Shasta slung over his shoulder.
“Wait! I wasn’t done looking at all those dirty magazines!” The she-kat squirmed in her brother’s grasp.
Chance threw Shasta onto the couch. Though Shasta was large and muscular, she was only five foot, about a foot shorter than her brother, so she was at a major disadvantage that way.
Chance sat on Shasta and yawned. “I’m glad you’re here, sis, but did you have to wake me up?”
“You’re happy I woke you up.” She pulled herself off the couch, almost dropping Chance to the floor.
“You’re right. I am.” He grinned. “So, you have any gigs yet?”
“Yup. One at a bar tomorrow night. It’s Saturday tomorrow, do you still need to work?”
“Yeah, but I can also squeeze more breaks in if I felt like it. And, I’m positive I could come and see you guys. So, where is it?”
“Jack’s Tomb on Main.”
“Oy. That’s an Enforcer bar.”
Bo looked up from the leftovers she had found in the fridge. “It _is_?”
Shasta looked at Bo.
Bo widened her eyes.
“You knew, didn’t you?”
“It was the only thing I could book!”
Bo’s eyebrows fell till they were nearly covering her eyes, but she just grumbled and started eating again.
Chance looked at Shasta and said lowly, “Why doesn’t she like Enforcers?”
“She just doesn’t.” She gave him a look that said ‘Drop it, it’s a secret, and I’ll tell you later.’
Chance nodded. “Anyone want a drink?”
Jack, Bo, Shasta, Clawrice, and Jake each held up a drink. Chance went to the fridge and took out a can of milk for himself.
Jack yawned and crushed the can against his head.
“Very attractive, dear,” Shasta smiled, and Jack gave her a lopsided grin.
Jake watched painfully as something passed between them as they gazed at one another. Jake sighed and looked at Clawrice, who was studying her paws. She felt his gaze and looked up, startled, them smirked and looked back down again.
“Alright, everyone,” Jack said, scratching the back of his head where his long blonde ponytail was. “Time to go.”
“Who died and made you pharaoh?” Bo said, but walked out of the door anyway.
Clawrice stood up, extending her hand. “It was nice to meet you, finally, Jake. Shasta talks about you all the time.”
“She does?” Jake looked over at Shasta, but she was kissing Jack goodbye. “Shasta, are you staying?”
Shasta looked up momentarily to reply a quick, “Yes,” and then went back to making out with Jack.
Jake felt his hand squeezed and realized he was still holding onto Clawrice. He turned back and smiled, letting go.
“I hope you come to our gig,” Clawrice suggested.
Jake nodded. “I will definitely be there.” He smiled.
“Okay. We’re outta here! Hasta Shasta.” He smiled and she giggled, and then Clawrice and Jack left.
Chance looked down at a rugged purple backpack at Shasta’s feet.
“That all you have?”
“This is my overnight. My wardrobe is in the car.” She picked up the backpack and headed toward the hallway. “Bathroom on the right?”
Shasta turned on the water in the shower. As the mirrors fogged, she looked herself hard in her icy blue eyes. She swallowed back a nauseous feeling she always got whenever Jack took off with the girls. In her heart of hearts, she knew the girls would never betray her, and she was even a little bit sure Jack wouldn’t. But, the feeling that weighed down on her was one of dread. She didn’t trust anyone, and it didn’t help that Jack was the biggest flirt in the galaxy.
She tried to swallow back the feeling, but it was too late. She fell hard on her knees in front of the toilet and threw up until she saw blood. That was happening a lot lately she noticed, but she figured it would go away when her stomach toughened up more. She had been doing this little ritual of panic and purging since she was fifteen, and first going out with Jack. She imagined after all this time of him being loyal she would have quelled her anxiety, but six years later it was still going on.
She flushed the toilet and stood, toppling backward as the blood rushed to her head and her vision was tunneled by black, purpled, and red dots until she couldn’t see anymore. Finally, her blood pressure evened out and she stepped into the shower, her fears of betrayal on the back burner until her next attack.
As Chance walked by the bathroom door, he heard the shower running, and then his baby sister gagging. He listened in horror, even tried the doorknob, but it was locked. He almost banged on the door and yelled, but decided that would help nothing. Sighing, Chance headed toward bed. He told himself he would bring it up tomorrow, but in the six years he knew it had been going on, he had only mentioned it a couple of times, and Shasta denied there was any problem. He was running out of ideas; he thought it would have ended by now.
‘I’ll talk to Jake about it, first,’ he decided, and curled under the covers, turning off his bedside lamp.
Five minutes after Chance began to drift off, the Klaxon sounded.
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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.