Welcome to the final chapter of the story! I just want to say again and again how thankful I am for everyone's support and feedback. This has been such a fun story to write and while I'm sad it's coming to an end, I'm very satisfied with how it turned out. It's been a wild ride!
Thanks again and enjoy!
"Please don't tell me I killed him!"
"Hush, Jer, you didn't kill him. He's still breathin'."
"Where are Tumble and Carbucketty? Lonz, did you see them make it out?"
"I don't know. I only saw that huge henchcat that started the fire get out."
"I'm going in."
"Munk, you can't go back! It's completely engulfed!"
"Lonz, I'm not just going to sit here and- and watch them burn!"
"Help me, Tumble's slipping-"
"Hold on, I'm coming!"
"Bring them here."
"Put Tumble over here."
"Everlasting Cat, I thought-"
"What are you doing here-"
"- doesn't matter, thank Heaviside you were there-"
Tumble's voice broke through the haze of voices that plagued Pouncival's mind. Hazily he opened his eyes. A starry sky tinged with smoke stretched above him.
"Tumble?" Pounce croaked, coughing painfully. A paw landed heavily on his chest.
"Ow!" Pounce whined. "Watch it."
"Sorry." Tumble muttered from his right, coughing in his ear. "Can't move very well."
"Munk, they were hit by Macavity's lightning. I think." Plato's voice came from somewhere behind Pounce's head.
A whimper sounded from near Pounce's feet. Pounce could see Alonzo and Plato pass by his line of sight, headed towards the whimpers.
Munkustrap's face came into view. "How are you feeling? Do you… do you remember who I am?"
"Uh, yeah. 'Course I do." Pounce tilted his head, staring up at Munk confusedly. "You're Munkustrap."
"And do you remember who you are? Your full name?" Munk asked.
"I'm Pouncival. What's going on?"
"Humor me. Who's your brother? What's his full name?"
"Tumble. Tumblebrutus. He's over here somewhere." Pounce gestured, hitting someone furry on his right. Tumble grunted. "There."
"Good, good. Last question." Munk looked off to the side. "What? No, I'm not going to ask him that."
"Fine, let me." Mungojerrie shoved Munk aside and leaned in close, face covered in soot. "Hey, Pounce."
"Hey, Jerrie. What's going on?" Pounce asked.
"Just answer one last question and we'll fill you in." Jerrie said cheerfully.
"Sure." Pounce said, mainly so he could get answers.
"Tell me who you have the hots for. Who you told me you were gonna ask out at the Jellicle Ball this year." Jerrie said, looking deadly serious.
"Wh- what?" Pouncival started coughing again, more out of surprise than from the smoke. Munkustrap helped him sit up.
He was sitting on the pavement near the house that Macavity had used for his hideout. Used being the operative word, seeing as it was currently on fire. Tumble was laying on the ground to his right in an uncomfortable sprawl. Rumpleteazer was gently rubbing Tumble's ears to comfort him. Plato and Alonzo were sitting a few feet away where the whimpering was coming from. Alonzo had someone cradled in his arms, the black and white cat quietly humming to comfort them.
"Who's- who's Lonz got in his arms?" Pounce coughed.
"Answer the question." Munk said, blocking Pounce's view of Alonzo.
"But why? It's not important. I- I told you in confidence!" Pounce pointed an accusing paw at Jerrie, who shook his head.
"Sorry, Pounce, but it's important. Really." Jerrie said apologetically.
"Please, Pounce, just say it." Tumble said. He sounded oddly desperate.
"Fine. But this better not spread. Or I'll… I'll do something. Something big." Pounce sighed.
"Pounce, who is it?" Munk prompted, looking tense.
"Bombalurina. I was gonna ask Bomba to be with me at the ball." Pounce muttered, suddenly wanting to throw himself in the fire.
"Yep, it's the real Pouncival." Jerrie said, beaming proudly.
"Now will you tell me what's going on?" Pounce said.
"Yes, I promise, but it's not safe here. We need to leave before the humans arrive." Munkustrap said. "Do you think you can walk?"
"Yeah, sure. Someone hit my head on the way out but I feel okay." To prove his point Pounce tried to get to his feet.
"Uh, sorry. That was my mistake. Hard to see in the smoke and I was in a hurry." Jerrie said apologetically. "Here, take it easy."
Maybe standing could wait. It was trying not to cough his lungs out that proved to be a bit of a problem. At least he could sit upright.
"Just get it out, Pounce. There you go. We'll have Jenny sort you out in no time." Jerrie said encouragingly.
Pounce took a look around at the group once more as Munkustrap started to mobilize everyone. With Teazer's help Tumble was able to sit up. Immediately Pounce was at his side, throwing his arms around his brother. Or who he desperately hoped was his brother.
"Please tell me you're not Bill. He's fine but I really want you to be Tumble right now." Pounce said hopefully.
Clumsily Tumble returned the embrace. "I promise I'm Tumble. The actual one."
"Right, it's a nice reunion and all, but we should get outta here before we're seen." Teazer said.
"My legs and arms are all tingly." Tumble complained as Teazer helped him to his feet.
"Well, if what Plato says is true you were zapped by Macavity's powers. It's a wonder he didn't just pop your arms and legs right off." Jerrie said, cringing a little as Teazer shot him a look. "Sorry. You look great, Tumble."
Pounce got to his feet. Jerrie and Teazer stood on either side of Tumble, holding him up between them with ease.
"See, Tumble, nothin' to it. We're pros at hauling both Tumbles and not- Tumbles around." Jerrie said proudly.
"Doing what with who?" Pounce asked.
"We'll tell you later." Teazer promised.
"Everyone ready?" Munkustrap asked. He was carrying a kitten in his arms. The kitten's face was hidden in Munk's shoulder but the rest of him looked very familiar. Too familiar.
"Is that-" Pounce's question was cut off by distant sirens.
"Let's go. Before we have to deal with the humans next." Alonzo cut in, walking rather stiffly but quickly.
Alonzo took the lead, followed by Munkustrap. Tumble, Jerrie and Teazer hurried after. Plato and Pounce brought up the rear.
"Plato, are you okay?" Pounce asked. The older cat was staring up at the stars, looking oddly contemplative.
"Yeah, Pounce. I think… I think I am." Plato said quietly. "How about you?"
"Fine. Hungry. Tired." Pounce shrugged. "Very confused."
"It's been quite a couple of days. Even I don't know all of what happened." Plato twitched his tail. "Hey, Pounce, I… I want to apologize."
"For what? You've already saved me and my brother and- and whoever that other guy is." Pounce gestured at the group in front of them. He was pretty sure he knew who Munk was carrying but didn't want to voice it until he could meet the kitten face to face.
"During the first fire, the one at the junkyard, I tried to save you. But I couldn't. A henchcat attacked me. I watched you get kidnapped." Plato said. "And when I woke up and saw who I thought was you back at the junkyard I doubted myself. I knew that it wasn't possible for you to be there since I saw you get taken, but I convinced myself that I was wrong."
"Plato, that's not your fault." Pounce said. "If anything blame Macavity for causing all this- this confusing stuff in the first place. Bill Bailey told me what Macavity's plans were. With two of me and Tumble running around no wonder you were confused. I'm still confused."
Plato laughed, then coughed. "I'm confused too. But I think things are making more sense than they were before."
Bill Bailey couldn't sleep. He was certain that if he closed his eyes he would dream of whatever horrors Tumblebrutus was currently facing at Macavity's lair. Horrors that Carbucketty would also be facing. Despite his exhaustion he couldn't give in to sleep, not when he knew that he would not be dreaming of himself.
Jenny had given him one of the sternest, longest, most colorful lectures he had ever received while re-bandaging his leg before sitting back down in the corner and simply staring at him. If Bill didn't know better he would have almost preferred the quiet solitude of the cell back at Macavity's lair. At least there his jailer didn't stare at him so much.
Jenny had given him more tea. The queen seemed to have an endless supply of it. He sniffed it hesitantly. Never knew when something might be drugged.
"It's not poisoned. It's just tea." Jenny said, voice still tinged with anger. "Despite your frequent attempts to undo all of my treatment I still want to make sure you recover."
Instead of apologizing Bill drank the tea. Jenny's eyes watched his every move. He was about to tell her that this time, for real this time, he didn't have a trick up his sleeve, but before he could speak a peculiar sensation rippled through him. All the fur on his body stood on end.
Something wasn't right.
It was as if someone took a part of him, something deep inside, and violently wrenched it away. The shock made him drop his tea onto the blanket. An involuntary cry escaped him, prompting Jenny to hustle over to his side.
As soon as it happened it was over, leaving him feeling oddly light and… settled. As if whatever was taken from him had previously been crowding him from the inside. Now there was more room for the rest of him to spread out. Whatever that meant.
"What happened?" Bill breathed. He found himself clinging to Jenny.
"I don't know. I swear if you have one more health crisis I'll-"
"Wait." Bill said. The weight that had always been pressing down on the back of his mind was gone. Relief flooded through him. "I'm… I'm fine."
"You are not." Jenny huffed.
"I mean… I mean I'm fine. I don't know how to explain it." Quickly he moved away from Jenny and settled down under the blanket. There was only one way to know if what he suspected actually happened. He closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep.
For the first time in a long time Bill did not dream of being Tumblebrutus. He dreamed of only himself.
Bill's peaceful sleep was not long lived. Voices brought him back to the waking world much sooner than he would have liked. It seemed as if all the cats he knew in the world were trying to talk all at once. And, since his social circle had rapidly expanded over the past couple days, it was impossible to ignore the cacophony of voices that interrupted his dreams.
"Heaviside and Everlasting Cat above, you're back!"
"And all of us are accounted for, don't you worry, just a little banged up and some of us took a bit of a beatin', but nothing really to worry about, isn't that right?"
"Yeah, except that Tumble's all tingly and you banged my head on the door when you rescued me."
"How about we get your brother settled and we just forget about that part?"
"Here Pounce, sit over here- no, not there, over here-"
"- Tumble can lay down here- oh, I'm going to need to get out the beds again, aren't I, why do I even bother putting them away-"
"Jenny, don't fret, We'll help you."
"Thank you, Teazer. Jerrie, Be a dear and grab those cushions. And don't think I don't see you holding your back over there, Alonzo, you're not getting away that easily."
"Ah, Jenny, it's fine. Take a look at the kittens first. Munk, there's room over here for Carbucketty by Bill."
Someone whimpered. The last dregs of Bill's exhaustion left him in a flurry of anxiety. Against his better judgment he threw the blanket off of his head and sat up, the pain in his leg barely noticeable compared to the scene before him.
They were back. And they were alive.
"Buck, where's Buck?" Bill asked, trying to get to his feet. Plato appeared at his side and gently pushed him down.
"He's here, he's alright. Jenny's taking a look at him right now. We're getting a bed set up for him next to you." Plato promised.
Bill stared at him. Plato simply stared back.
"You did something." Bill said. "I don't know what you did but I… I feel…."
"You don't feel connected to Tumble anymore, do you?" Plato asked quietly.
"What did you do?" Bill asked in return. It was true. The connection, the thing that kept him tethered to Tumblebrutus, was gone.
"I found Macavity's book. There was a spell, one that had the power to break the bonds between doppelgangers. He kept it in case he wanted to break his ties to me, I guess."
"And he used it?"
"No. I did." Plato admitted. "Carbucketty drew the circle and I said the incantation. Tumble was with us too. I think it affected all of us, which means it would have affected you and Pouncival and… and Macavity too."
"Oh." That would explain why Bill didn't dream of Tumble's thoughts. Most of him felt relieved but a tiny part of him felt like he had lost something. "That's… that's good."
Plato nodded. "Now you and Carbucketty are free."
"What about Macavity?" Bill was almost afraid to ask.
"He's gone." Was all Plato said.
"We'll go back to look for a body but I doubt we'll find one." Alonzo cut in, helping Teazer lay out a bed for Cabucketty. "Macavity has a funny way of always escaping when you least expect him to."
Munkustrap came over, Carbucketty cradled in his arms. Gently he placed the kitten on the bed.
"Hey, Buck, I missed you." Bill said, scooting as close as he could to his brother.
Clumsily Carbucketty climbed into his arms, curling up against his brother and holding him tightly.
"Missed you too." Carbucketty whimpered.
"He was struck by Macavity's magic." Munk explained. "But he'll be alright. Just needs some rest."
"Tumble was in the way. He protected me." Carbucketty mumbled.
Bill held him close. Munkustrap, Alonzo and Plato left to give them some privacy. Their quiet reunion didn't last for long. A familiar face crouched down next to them.
"Hey, uh, so I know this isn't the best time, but I just-" Pouncival took a deep breath, looking like he was about to explode. "- I wanna see him."
Bill laughed, the first genuinely happy laugh he had in a long time. "Pouncival, meet my brother, Carbucketty. Buck, this is Pounce. Tumble's real brother."
Carbucketty turned around to look at Pouncival, both kitten's eyes growing wide as they took in the sight of one another.
"Whoa." Both breathed, mirroring each other's bewildered looks and speaking in sync. "You look just like me."
"The connection between you might be broken but it looks like you two are still the same." Bill laughed again.
It felt so good to laugh, even if it was probably a little hysterical. Sure, Bill was burned and bruised. Macavity was probably still out there. But he and Carbucketty were free. If they were lucky Macavity would realize that Bill and Carbucketty weren't connected to Tumble and Pounce anymore and would leave them alone.
"Well, this is weird, but not as weird as I thought it would be." Pounce said, reaching out and poking Carbucketty's nose.
"Hey!" Carbucketty batted at his paw.
"Sorry. Just wanted to make sure you were really you. And not some kind of weird dream."
"Of course I'm me. Who else would I be?" Carbucketty looked up at Bill. "Unless… do I have to pretend anymore?"
"No." Bill Bailey said firmly. "Neither of us have to pretend ever again. From now on we will be just ourselves. I promise."
And that was a promise he intended to keep.
"Hey, so, if you're gonna dance at the Jellicle Ball tonight you're gonna need to know some good moves. Otherwise no one will notice you." Pouncival looked down at his former doppelganger, raising an eyebrow. "And what's the point of dancing if no one's gonna notice?"
"There… there isn't one?" Carbucketty asked hesitantly.
"Yes! Good job. I'd give you a cookie but, uh, I ate it. Sorry." Pounce patted Carbucketty on the shoulder. "Here, watch and learn from a master."
"Is he really a master or is he just full of it?" Bill Bailey asked, amused at the sight before him.
"Oh, he's full of it. But sometimes he knows what he's talking about." Tumblebrutus replied, stretching out next to Bill outside of Jenny's den. "Sometimes."
After a full day and night of enforced rest the kittens in Jenny's care had been allowed to go outside so long as they didn't stray too far from her den. Immediately Pouncival had insisted that Carbucketty let him teach him some dance moves. Bill, with Tumble's help, had hobbled outside to sit and watch the show.
The Jellicle Ball was still going to happen that night. Come hell or high water Munkustrap would ensure that the Ball would happen. At the last minute it had all come together, cats coming from far and wide to ensure that, despite all the chaos of the previous couple of days, the Jellicle Ball would go on.
Bill Bailey and Carbucketty hadn't been officially introduced to the tribe but they hadn't been hidden away either. With Bill's permission Munkustrap filled in the adults of the tribe about the events of past three days, leaving the younger cats to meet Bill and Carbucketty on their own.
"Uh oh, who let Pounce teach Carbucketty how to dance?" Alonzo asked, appearing from around the corner. "Poor kid's already got it hard as it is because he looks like Pounce."
"Hey! I am much better looking than you you- you- argh!" Pounce's protests were interrupted by Carbucketty attempting a pirouette and crashing headlong into him.
Alonzo winked at Tumble and Bill before heading off. "See you tonight at the Jellicle Ball. If you can survive Pounce's lessons."
Tumble and Bill both laughed. Pounce tried to salvage the routine he was trying to teach Carbucketty, but the kitten was distracted by a bug. Then Pounce became distracted by the same bug. Both completely forgot the dance to watch the bug in pure fascination.
Another familiar cat appeared.
"Hey, Plato, come to watch the show?" Tumble patted the ground next to him.
"Alonzo didn't seem to want to stick around." Bill added.
"No thanks. I'm busy." Plato looked around the junkyard, clearly nervous about something.
"Uh, you okay, Plato?" Tumble asked.
"Yeah, yeah." Despite his proclamation of being busy Plato immediately sat down. "Have you- have you seen Victoria anywhere?"
Bill raised an eyebrow as Tumble's mouth stretched into a knowing grin.
"Are you finally gonna ask her to dance with you at the ball?" Tumble asked. "You've only been talking about her forever."
"Yeah, well, I was planning on it, but I can't... I can't seem to find her." Plato said lamely.
"Can't seem to find her or you're just not looking for her?" Tumble asked, looking all too innocently at the sky.
Plato gave him a flat look. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Kind of sounds like you're avoiding her." Bill said. "What's she look like?"
"She's got all white fur. Like starlight. Elegant. Beautiful." Plato sighed. "There's no one like her."
"Like her?" Bill pointed across the junkyard. Plato made a slightly strangled sound as he followed Bill's gaze.
"Oh, here we go again. Every time he gets a chance he chickens out." Tumble said knowingly.
There was long pause between the three of them. In the distance Victoria spotted them and waved, heading off to get ready for the ball.
"You know what? I've done much scarier things than this. I've faced Macavity for Everlasting Cat's sake. I'm just going to march right up to her and do it." Plato surged to his feet. "Victoria! Wait!"
Both Tumble and Bill whistled as Plato jogged after the white queen.
"To think all it took was facing his evil, crazed, maniacal doppelganger in a battle of life and death and severing a lifelong bond to finally gather up enough courage to ask a queen out." Bill remarked, settling back in the sun and closing his eyes.
"You say it like it's so easy." Tumble leaned back next to him.
"I wouldn't know. Haven't really had the opportunity to meet many cats before, let alone queens." Bill said it casually but Tumble could hear the resignation in his voice.
"Well, if you come to the ball tonight you will. And… and if you're nervous I'll hang out with you." Tumble tried to sound just as casual. "I probably won't be doing a ton of dancing anyways. My legs are better but they're still a little shaky."
"That's very kind of you. If Jenny lets me out of her den then I would love to come." Bill twitched an ear towards the door. It had taken a lot of convincing to get her to let him come outside. After sleeping for a full twenty four hours he was itching to see the sun again.
"That just means she's adopted you as one of her own. I think you hold the record for the longest lecture though." Tumble said. "How long was it?"
"Uh, I was in a lot of pain at that point, so it's a little hazy. But probably a good fifteen, twenty minutes?"
"Yeah, you definitely win the prize. If there was one." Tumble closed his eyes, basking in the warmth of the sun. If he wanted to he could easily fall asleep. It was so peaceful, so quiet. Perfect for a quick nap.
Tumble twitched an ear. Bill did the same.
"It's too quiet." Both said at the same time, sitting up in unison.
Both Pouncival and Carbucketty were conspicuously missing.
"Where'd they go?" Tumble asked, feeling panic rise within him.
"They were just here." Bill said, voice calm but ears twitching in every direction. He slowly got to his feet, limping heavily out into the junkyard with Tumble close behind.
They needn't have worried. Pounce and Carbucketty had wandered off out of sight in pursuit of the bug, crawling low to the ground, but had been further lulled into relaxation by the pleasant warmth of the sun and had simply sprawled out for an impromptu nap. Both were napping in identical, unashamed sprawls.
"I wish I could say that this is unusual for him, but it's not." Tumble sighed, moving to wake Pouncival.
"Hold on, they might have the right idea." Bill said seizing the opportunity before it vanished. "After all, doesn't the Jellicle Ball last all night?"
"You're right." Tumble realized. "If we're going to keep up with these two we need all the rest we can get."
"Agreed." Bill had already stretched out next to his brother, folding his paws behind his head and closing his eyes. "We're already behind these two."
Tumble let out a snort of laughter as he settled down next to Pouncival, keeping clear of the sprawling limbs. Bill had just started to get comfortable when Tumble spoke again.
"I'm… I'm glad we met. I wish it had been under different circumstances, but I'm glad we met anyways."
"Me too, Tumble. Me too."
Tumble's contented purring was the last thing Bill heard as he drifted off to sleep, the anticipation of the Jellicle Ball dancing through his dreams.
It was time. The junkyard had completely changed over the course of the afternoon. He had first been aware of the beginning of the Jellicle Ball by the voices of numerous cats singing in harmony. It was enough to startle Bill Bailey and Carbucketty into taking refuge in Jenny's den, but soon enough the song drew Bill out of his hiding place. It called to him. And wherever he went Carbucketty would follow.
The moon was high overhead, bathing the junkyard in a beautiful, otherworldly light. All of Bill's hurts and trepidation melted away as he stepped out into the moonlight. Carbucketty bounced at his feet, eyes flitting between one thing and the next, excitement radiating off of him.
There were so many cats. More than he had seen in one place at one time in a long while. Every color, shape and size was represented, and they all looked different from one another. Bill Bailey and Carbucketty were the only ones who looked like copies of cats that were already part of the tribe. Like they didn't quite belong.
"It's a lot to take in, isn't it?" Munkustrap asked, joining the two on the outskirts of the dance.
"Everyone's so in sync with one another. So connected." Bill said, watching as Pounce and Tumble easily followed the routine.
"Well that's mostly thanks to the rehearsals." Munk chucked. "Although some cats are better at remembering the steps than the others. And there are some that would definitely benefit from additional instruction."
"I can only imagine who you might be referring to." Bill said as Pounce did an especially bombastic flourish and almost punched Tumble in the face. Luckily Tumble was more graceful and turned his dodge into a series of flips that made the other kittens stop and applaud, Carbucketty included.
"If you would like to join in you can." Munk said, noting Carbucketty's enthusiasm.
"Honestly, I don't know if I'm able to." Bill admitted. While his leg was healed to the point where he could walk around he wasn't sure if leaping and dancing would do him any good. "But if you want to go, Buck, you can."
Carbucketty wiggled a bit in thought, torn between leaving his brother's side and wanting to join in on the festivities.
"Hey!" Pounce yelled from across the junkyard. "Are you gonna gab or are you gonna dance?"
It was hard for Carbucketty to argue with that. Laughing, the kitten ran off to join his new friends.
"I was going to talk to you after the ball, but it looks like now might be the best time." Munk said, watching as Pounce took Carbucketty's paw and helped him move with the crowd.
"About what?" Bill asked, trying to quash the unwarranted anxiety that rose in his brother's absence. Some habits were hard to break.
"About what you and Carbucketty want to do. Where you want to go from here."
"Oh." Bill tapped his foot along with the beat of the music. "I've been thinking about that."
"I want you to know that if you and your brother wish to remain here, you are welcome to. Sure, things might get a little odd now and then since you two and Tumble and Pounce look so much alike, but with time it should get better." Munk shrugged.
"That is a tempting offer. Everyone's been so nice here. It's like… having a family again." Bill said. "Without your help Buck and I would still be with Macavity."
"In a roundabout way you helped us too." Munk said. "If we hadn't met you we would never have known about Plato being Macavity's doppelganger. I can only imagine what would have happened if Macavity took it upon himself to come to the junkyard and try and take Plato for himself."
"At least we can be assured that Plato broke the bonds between all of us." Bill said. "And that Macavity is likely out of the picture."
Munk nodded. "We can only hope so. But so long as I am capable I will do all I can to protect all of you."
Bill smiled. "Thank you. Thank you for everything. This is more than I could have ever hoped for when I thought of what my and Buck's future would end up like."
"Think about what I said. There will always be a place for you and Carbucketty in the tribe." Munk gave Bill an affectionate rub between the ears.
Both cats turned their attentions to the ball to see Plato and Victoria step into the moonlight. Together they danced as one, Plato easily lifting Victoria in the air as if she were as light as a feather. The white queen gracefully twisted herself into numerous flexible poses as Plato held her aloft, neither of them faltering for a moment. In Plato's arms she was completely secure. Upon Victoria's descent the other cats applauded, crowding in to congratulate the new couple.
Plato locked eyes with Bill Bailey and smiled. Bill returned the smile and nodded, happy to see the other cat completely at ease with himself.
Behind Plato Pouncival tried to lift Etcetera in the same way. She went up gracefully but did not have as delicate of a descent. Tumble and Carbucketty were too busy laughing to be of any help as Pounce fell forward in an ungainly heap. A couple of the other young cats gathered around them, poking fun at Pounce and playing around with Carbucketty, no one seeming to mind that Pounce suddenly had a twin.
"Hey, what are you two up to over here?" Alonzo asked, taking a quick break from the dancing. His fur glowed in the moonlight. "Pounce wants me to tell you that you both have to dance."
"I'm doing my best not to get in more trouble with Jenny than I already am." Bill said, noting that Jennyanydots was watching him from the other side of the junkyard. She seemed happy but she was always watching, always waiting.
"Ah, that's probably a smart move." Alonzo stretched his long limbs and raised an eyebrow. "But is it the most enjoyable thing to do tonight?"
"You're terrible." Munkustrap said, rolling his eyes. Nevertheless he stood and joined the black and white cat in the new dance that had started.
"Bill! Come join us!" Carbucketty shouted, appearing out of nowhere and pulling Bill to his feet. Tumble, Pounce, and a couple other cats were waiting.
It was impossible for Bill to deny his brother his request, especially when the others joined in, sweeping him up in the crowd and treating him just like their own. Together under the moonlight they all danced, no longer individual cats but all coming together as part of a greater whole. Before all this Bill Bailey had been afraid of losing himself, becoming someone he was not, but now he had never been more sure of himself. As long as he was surrounded by a community he would know where he and his brother belonged.
It was in that moment, watching everyone come together, that Bill Bailey realized what he wanted for himself and Carbucketty.
A week later and things had fallen back into their usual routine. Munkustrap and Alonzo had done a thorough search of the area to find any sign of Macavity, but to no one's surprise he had vanished without a trace. Jenny had given Bill Bailey and Carbucketty a clean bill of health and the two had been welcomed into the tribe without a fuss (although there was a general sense of unease about Pouncival taking Carbucketty on as his self proclaimed 'apprentice').
One particular morning Jerrie found himself awake at the crack of dawn. Any cat in their right mind should have been sleeping at such an early hour. But, of course, sometimes Jerrie did things that were a little out of anyone's right frame of mind. Not even he knew why he was up and wandering around at this hour, only that something told him to go, so he simply followed his feet. His feet led him out of the junkyard and to a very familiar part of the neighborhood.
As Jerrie's gaze swept the surrounding area a familiar shape caught his eye, sitting on top of the tall brick wall. Just to be sure he squinted. Yep, it was a patch tabby tom, perched like a statue on the wall, completely drenched in the light from the early morning sun.
"Hey, now this is a familiar sight." Jerrie said as he hopped up on the wall to sit next to the cat. "No, wait, lemme guess. Don't tell me."
Jerrie held up a paw as the cat smiled at him. He could figure this out.
"Hi!" A kitten piped up from below them, scrambling up to sit next to the other cat, nearly knocking them both over the wall in the process. With no regard to anyone's personal space he wiggled to sit between them, beaming happily up at the two.
"Alright, you gotta be Bill." Jerrie said. "'Cause that's Carbucketty there. I'm certain of it."
Bill Bailey laughed. "You got me."
"Finally got it right for once." Jerrie grinned.
"Well done. Much better than the first time we met here." Bill watched as Carbucketty scrambled back down the wall after a butterfly.
"Hey, the first time we met it was rainin' and cold and you were bein' all broody and stuff. Quite rude, tellin' me to go away and all."
"I'm sorry. I was stressed. This was the only place where I could come to think things through."
"Ah, well, water under the bridge." Jerrie waved a paw lazily in the air. "I believe we are good enough friends now to move past such trivialities."
Bill laughed again. "You are so generous."
"Say, what are you doin' up here anyways?" Jerrie asked. "You don't seem to need to brood anymore."
"Well, to be honest, I was hoping you'd show up." Bill admitted. "Buck and I are leaving for a while. We're going to go find our tribe. The one we left behind when… when Macavity took us."
"Do you remember where it is?"
"Yes. I do. It's a ways away but we can make it there." Bill said confidently. "I remember the way."
"We're gonna miss you back at the tribe." Jerrie said. "Especially Pounce and Tumble. Even though you're not related you and Buck are at least kind of like their cousins or something at this point."
"Buck and I will miss you too. But we're leaving now. And we'll be back eventually."
"See you around. I'll keep an eye out for you. You always know where to find me." Jerrie said, waving goodbye as Bill hopped down off the wall to gather his brother.
"Oh, and Jerrie?" Bill turned back to look up at Jerrie.
"Thanks for caring." Bill Bailey gave him a wave goodbye with his tail and he and Carbucketty headed off. With that Jerrie was left alone.
"Crazy kittens." Jerrie muttered, stretching out along the wall to watch the sun rise. It was going to be a beautiful day.
That's the end! It had been a blast writing this and I hope you all enjoyed it. :)