The house was silent.
New York was never silent, a constant parade of colour, a cacophony of sound, that was the city which never sleeps. And yet, somehow, the city today seemed quiet. Muted. As if it was holding its breath.
Oliver stood up briefly and stretched, before walking over the kitchen counter to stare out the window, seeing the same quiet ally as ever and resignedly pattering back to his bed on top of the fridge and once again curling himself into a ball.
There had been noise in the morning. The normal sounds of the city swinging into full production, taxis loudly complaining to each other in their familiar but indecipherable honking, planes rumbling by every few minutes and cars passing in the street. All the sounds that a native to New York hardly noticed. Oliver had been far more interested in his breakfast: some cold chicken from the previous night, and then Jenny had been wishing him goodbye as she left for university. Just as had happened every day for the past year since Jenny had moved out of her home on Fifth Avenue and bought this apartment for them.
But then, not much later, things had changed.
Noises which Oliver had never heard before in his thirteen years of life. A great 'boom' louder than any car backfiring he had ever heard. It had shaken the building, scaring him away from the rattling bay window which looked out onto the street in front. A little while later, a second boom, had chased him out of the living room for good — into the familiar comfort of the warm kitchen, with his bed and the familiar comforting sense of Jenny. He had not been brave enough to venture back.
Initially there had been a frenzy of activity outside which had outweighed even the normal post-peak period as he heard cars racing up and down the street and sirens off in the distance. Then a noise which sounded like an earthquake. Or perhaps a large train going by. Either way it had been quiet since then. There had been clouds of dust at once point, but that had long since settled, leaving Oliver alone in the kitchen, waiting.
The person he most wanted to see was Jenny, but she was not due home for hours yet. Instead, he had hoped that Toby would stop by and tell him exactly what had been happening in the city all morning.
Toby was Oliver's favourite of Dodger's sons, and certainly the most reliable. While Charley and Nancy were friendly enough, they were frequently away, and Noah brought along an air of visiting only under extreme sufferance. Toby on the other hand, looked up to 'Uncle Oliver', and frequently dropped around to keep him up to date on the word on the street while he would, in turn, recount the interesting stories of Jenny's television. Still, while the lack of Toby did not necessarily mean anything was amiss, it certainly did not allay his fears any.
Suddenly, breaking the silence, Oliver raised his head at the sound of the front door unlatching. Springing to his feet, he again stretched out his middle aged body and leapt down to the counter top and then to the floor, skittering into the entrance hall. Never mind that it was hours too early, Jenny was home.
"Mraow?" enquired Oliver, wondering just what was happening out there. Jenny was very rarely home early, certainly not without seeming to be a little sick in the morning.
"Oh, Oliver." cried Jenny, latching the door before sweeping him up into a hug and clutching him desperately to her chest. She was tense and smelled of smoke and dust, the normal scents of her clothes partially masked by the new acrid smells. Oliver set aside his own worries for the moment, and purred, curling up into her; knowing that it always made her feel better. "Oh, kitty." she sighed, stroking behind his neck, "It's so awful."
"Meow?" asked Oliver again, looking up into her face. Jenny slowly walked into the living room in a daze and absently turned on the lights before sitting down in the soft armchair, clutching her cat to her as tightly as she dared. Oliver, meaning to find out exactly what was happening, reminded her of his question with a slight bump of his nose to her chin.
"I can't believe it, Oliver." Tears began to glisten in her eyes now, slowly dripping down her cheeks, "Oh, poor mister Fagin. Poor all of them."
Oliver did not know what to say. One did not need to be Einstein, er, or perhaps Francis—may they both rest in peace—to know what had happened. Oliver would miss the old deadbeat. He had taken a shine to Jenny, and though it had taken him ten years to do it, he had cleaned up his act and gone into a legitimate career of investment banking. And through it all, he had been good old 'Uncle Fagin', there for her, when her parents could not be due to their work commitments. Why, only a few years ago, he had been the one to look after Oliver when Jenny went off to college. Not that her parents would not have, of course — but they were both still frequently away, and old Winston was not as young as he once was.
Oliver raised his head and rubbed it against Jenny's face, making her giggle slightly despite her sadness.
"Oh, Oliver. Thank you." she said, "you do always know how to make me feel better, don't you?" She sighed.
"At least Dad wasn't there. I guess there are some advantages to always travelling for work, huh, puss?" Her lip trembled again.
"I should ring him." she said, "I mean I'm sure that Mom has already, but he's probably still worried..." despite her words, she made no effort to get up, instead lowering her head and nuzzling Oliver's ginger fur.
"Oh, kitty, everything is so different now. I was so scared today, I didn't know what was happening... I still don't! Why is this happening?" The young woman's shoulders began to shake as her words were muffled by Oliver's fur.
"...together, that's you," She sang softly, "forever with me," Oliver flicked his ears back; recognition of years past playing on the piano as a little girl showed him the first genuine kindness of his life. Just as that same girl had hugged him during the terror of thunderstorms and trips to the vet, he snuggled with her, lending her his comfort as spots of moisture began to land on the fur on the back of his neck.
"...we'll always be good company, you and me, yes together we'll be."
AN: I just discovered Oliver and Company, and was charmed especially by the relationship of Oliver and Jenny. I wrote this in about an hour, so I'm not sure how good it is really, but I thought I should post it before it got relegated to some distant corner of my hard drive. In case it's not already obvious, this is Jenny of around about 20 (I'm assuming that she was no older than 7-8 in Oliver and Company since she can't read) returning home after being in Manhattan during the 11th Sep 2001 terrorist attacks.