Cat cracked her eyes half-open, emitting a cranky little noise. Her legs were all tangled up in the sheets, and some damn thing was pressing into her side just painfully enough to keep her on the edge of sleep. "Dammit," she muttered, shifting into a sitting position, only to slam back down again as her head made contact with the… arm of the sofa?
"Well," she growled as her sleep-addled mind processed just how she'd ended up on the living room floor, "at least I'm not dead." But, she thought, dead might well be preferable to how she actually felt. Sure, she'd healed up some, but spending the night blacked out on the living room floor had a way of reviving those aches and pains. Getting up off said floor was a daunting prospect. It took several groaning tries before she was fully upright. Even then, she stood clutching the couch arm while she waited for her legs to get with the program; small wonder they'd fallen asleep, tucked under her like that all night. Smith must have just left her where she fell.
Smith. Now that name just begged a couple of questions this morning, not least "Why am I not actually dead?" God, his eyes… Forget romance novels where the heroes always had eyes like ice. After a firsthand encounter… Well, icy eyes were anything but romantic. She shivered a little, remembering, then winced as her flight of fantasy jarred more tangible hurts.
She couldn't contain a bitter snicker as she spied Drew out the window at just that moment. "Like the goddamn fairy of abused housewives," she muttered. "You say 'ouch,' and up he pops." She was sure she had a nice new ring of fingermarks around her throat that, knowing her luck, wouldn't escape her neighbor's well-meaning notice.
A knock, and then Drew's head peeped through the open door. "Cat?"
She snorted. "We just get closer every day, you and me. Now, you've got a standing invite to come on in."
"Yeah," Drew said, ducking his head and coloring a little. "I guess chivalry really is dead, huh?"
"Not that I really mind, or anything," Cat said, taking pity on him. He seemed to mean well, and a minute talking to Drew was a minute not spent dwelling on what the hell Smith's deal was. "Anyway, as a Suburban Hostess, I must clearly make you feel welcome by adopting your customs. You need a haircut. And what are you doing here anyway?"
Drew giggled, drawing a grin from Cat; she could get used to a man who giggled, and that was a weak joke at best. Correction: that was downright lame. Maybe her verbal skills were in the brain cells Smith had killed when he cut the oxygen off to her brain.
Shit. Drew was looking at her like he expected an answer. Guess the inner monologue drowned him right out, Cat thought. "Uhm, come again?" she asked.
"I said, I have to run to the hardware store, and I wondered whether you needed anything. You know, so you guys can start to settle?"
Cat forced herself to smile at him. No, Drew was not being condescending. He was being nice. It's not like he was thinking, 'Oh, poor little abused girl. I wouldn't look at her twice otherwise, but now I'll come to the rescue by building things and scaring away the big bad husband.' He was just asking her whether she needed nails to hang pictures with, for God's sake. And she couldn't afford to make him suspicious anyway. Just the thought of him calling in to the police made more fear pool in her stomach, made her realize she'd been afraid all this time. Now that she also had to fear Smith… Not that she hadn't always, really, but last night…
Drew looked more than a little impatient as she again failed to respond. God, she thought, where is my head today? That's right, barely still connected to the rest of me.
She shook her head a little, biting her lip to avoid wincing where Drew could see her. "Sorry about that. I'm sort of recently awake. Anyway, it's sweet of you to offer, but I wouldn't know what to ask for just yet. I haven't so much had time to look the place over."
Drew was looking at her doubtfully, and Cat squashed the urge to flatten her hair down over her neck. It throbbed enough that she was sure there were marks. Maybe he'd think they had always been there? God, he was talking again. She'd better pay attention or he'd think she'd run right off the deep end. "…welcome to come with, if you'd like. I mean, there's a Linens 'n' Things right next door to the hardware store."
"I mean, if you're not feeling up to it…" Drew squinted a little. Shit. Those damn throat marks…
Cat tossed her head just enough to make sure all of her hair lay next to her neck. Say something, act normal… God, this was hard. "I was just thinking, it'll take me a little while to get ready to go anywhere. I mean, I know pajamas are a statement and all, but I'm not sure it's one I want to be making."
"You're feeling better, then?"
Cat gritted her teeth, staring at a point beyond Drew's shoulder. "Loads better. Tons. Infinite betterness. Look at completely unbeaten me, Mr. Suspicious."
She sighed, knowing that kicked-puppy look was all her fault. God, her damn temper was gonna get her in trouble one of these days. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap. It's just…"
Shit, she thought. Shit, shit, shit. She was going to start crying again, and then Drew would think the worst for sure. Get it together, she urged herself, taking what should have been a steadying breath but was really more like a hiccup.
"It's just what?" Drew asked, voice gentle, eyes soft, reaching out a hand to stroke her wrist.
Cat caught her lip between her teeth. It had been so long since someone had looked at her like that. Like they cared whether she was alive or dead. God knows Neo and Trinity could hardly be bothered to notice her. And Smith? Her lips twisted into a bitter smirk. Who knows where he stood on that score? Talk about blowing hot and cold. Choke a girl, then leave her on the floor instead of finishing the job.
Drew's look of mild alarm snapped Cat back to the present. "Sorry. I am kind of a head case right after I wake up." She giggled nervously, dropped her eyes to the carpet. That should be safe, right? No nasty reminders there, unless, Cat thought, unless you counted the floral pattern that was just nasty in its own rite… God, focus! "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but you're making this awfully hard…"
The fingers that had been stroking her wrist stilled. "What, now?"
She shook her head, still focusing on the carpet. A little truth, maybe, just for a change of pace? "It's just, I had a really nasty accident a couple of days ago, and you come over, and I have to pretend I'm fine and nothing hurts or you're going to call my husband and get him thrown in jail…" She shook her head as he tried to interrupt… "Well it does hurt, but not because my husband is abusing me, but because I had a really nasty accident the other day, and here you are, making me pretend everything's OK, and being all nice, and I'm all bruised and hideous…"
God, she thought, here I go again, with the tears and the hysterics. So much for getting a grip. But it felt so nice to have someone hold her like Drew was now, stroking her hair and muttering soothing things. Her sobbing intensified. There was no sense pretending she could ever have a nice, normal friend like this guy. No, that chance was long gone with the blue pill, and now her world was full of cold people who knew they were bound to die sooner rather than later. I mean, even Trinity and Neo, with their undying love schtick… Where, exactly, was that love? They hardly seemed to speak to one another beyond the sort of necessary talk of warriors, and it was much easier to pick up on a sort of hard-edged desperation between them than anything Cat would call affection. Of course, they were a veritable love fiesta when you compared them to her 'husband…' and oh God she'd done it again, let her mind wander into crazyland while Drew stood there taking notes. He'd be phoning the police for sure, now, after that little display of domestic stability.
Cat forced herself to take deep breaths, calming down enough to stop sobbing. Damage control, she told herself. NOW. Next step, unclenching fingers from Drew's shirt. She pulled away, mortified by the big wet blotch where her head had been, and the shiny patches that could only mean her nose had run as hard as her eyes did. "Uhm…"
Drew ran a hand through his hair, an abashed smile creeping onto his face. "Wow. I guess I didn't see that coming."
"Yeah," Cat sighed, "Me neither, if it makes you feel any better." She giggled wetly. "Look, I'm sorry…"
"No, that's really my line. I didn't even think about what it would be like, with all of this new pressure on you to fit in here, and me adding a nice layer of threats to top things off. I'm a presumptuous bastard…"
Cat dredged up a small grin for that. "Well, a really well-meaning presumptuous bastard. I really didn't mean…"
"No, really, it's OK. You know what they always say, don't bottle it up…" He paused when Cat sighed a little. "OK, I get it. Enough with the amateur psychology. But really, it's a-ok. I didn't mean to push you into that, but, you, um, welcome to talk to me whenever. Or, you know," he pinched the shirt near the wet spot pulling the damp part of the fabric away from his chest, "sob on me, if that's what works for you."
Cat giggled a little bit, prompting a loud snuffle. "God, could I be any grosser?" she muttered.
"If you really put your mind to it, maybe," Drew quipped, eyeing her scruffy pjs. "But, you know, I'm trying to collect the whole set, and I still need a gross friend."
"I guess it's your lucky day," Cat said, passing a wrist under her still-dripping nose.
Drew fished a tissue out of a back pocket and handed it to her. "No need to take the persona too far," he said, grinning. Cat laughed, and accepted the tissue, dabbing at her sticky cheeks. "Anyway, I think that there's a rule someplace that if you make a woman cry you have to buy her ice cream to make up for it. Tell you what, we'll still go on my errand, but we'll go via Baskin-Robbins. Deal?"
"Now, ice cream is an offer I can never refuse," Cat said, hiding her grin behind the tissue. Maybe that outburst hadn't been so monumentally stupid as it seemed. Drew didn't seem to inclined to run to the nearest police call box, after all. And what harm could there be in a little ice cream? It was just to keep the suspicious guy happy, right? "But now I really, really need to get cleaned up."
"Would it be indelicate to say I could use a change my own self?" Drew plucked at his damp shirt again.
"I'm gonna need an hour or so before I even approach presentable." Cat frowned down at her decrepit pajamas. They'd been new, what, three days ago? "Is that too long?"
"Nah. Why don't you pop on by when you're finished?"
Cat gestured at the crutches. "Uhm…"
"Right, then. Or, I'll stop being a moron and bring the car by in an hour or so."
"Ladies and gentleman, an official plan," Cat said, grinning. "Now, shoo. If you can let yourself in, you can let yourself out."
"Yes, ma'am," Drew drawled, mock-bowing as he backed out the door. Cat released a breath as it shut behind him. Sure, he was a nice guy, but Jesus. Dealing with the general public had not been on the menu this… morning? Or was it afternoon now? Cat shook her head. Irrelevant, again. God, she was rattled. Can't even focus on figuring out why the hell Smith went all medieval on me, she thought, eyeing the stairs. She sighed, gearing up for the painful climb. Getting up to the shower was tantamount to going medieval on herself, no suddenly psycho robot-man required.
Somehow or other she creaked up to the bathroom, the pain driving everything else out of her head. It was almost a welcome break from the thoughts that were chasing each other around her skull. "I'm even more of a moody bitch than usual today," she muttered to herself, using both hands to pull a stiff knee over the lip of the tub. She twirled the water taps, hissing as the first frigid spray hit her back. Not exactly comfortable, but a hot shower would make bad swelling worse. Still, the stinging spray was a nice distraction. Cat sighed, burbling as she got water in her mouth for her troubles. She really shouldn't avoid thinking about Smith like this, but she couldn't get her mind around what in the hell could have possessed him the night before. The eerie silence, the violent outburst… God, her purred as he choked her into unconsciousness. PURRED. Who the hell purred, ever, let alone while committing cold-blooded acts of violence? She poked gingerly at her throat, hissing as the pressure, predictably enough, revitalized the throbbing there. At least the ache in her arms as she lifted them to work some shampoo into her scalp distracted from it.
She hustled through the rest of her shower, giving up on drying herself off because it just hurt too damn much to do all that bending. Hey, she thought, here I am, walking around naked in a dead old lady's house waiting for the program that tried to kill me to come back and do it again. Not to mention wondering what in the hell she could put on that wouldn't get her laughed out of Linens 'n' Things… She wasn't so clear on how the pajamas had made it from the hotel room to this house, but maybe there was more where they came from… At least she hoped so; her only other clothing option was the pantsuit she'd been wearing while Smith and Johnson had been taking turns totaling her, and even the ragged pajamas were a step up from that.
She bent painfully to open the drawers of the little bureau in her room. Zip. Not so much as a stray pair of underpants. Although the thought of Smith touching her underpants, even to pack 'em… Bring on the shudders.
God, it hurt to stand up. That was a mixed curse, if there was such a thing. Of course, thinking of how the pain made her not think of Smith and how she had no idea what the hell she was going to do next let alone what the hell he would… Well, she thought, I guess thinking that prettymuch pokes a hole in the original theory. Great. Pain and panic all at once. Next step, deforming boils or something itchy or… God, what is in my head these days, she thought. Keep it together, Cat. "Or at least," she muttered, "open the goddamn closet door while you prattle on in your own mind."
"Jackpot," she hissed, staring at the little box tucked behind an ironing board in the closet. Left behind, just like the floral curtains and the overpowering scent of gardenias. The last person who had touched this must have been ninety-five. "I am not thinking about the fact that the person who these illusory clothes belonged to, and how she has been reconstituted into nutritious goo," she said, more to fill the suddenly creepy room than anything. Her mood was practically a pendulum today, running between blind terror and irritation and insecurity and god knows what. Why not superstition? The ghost of old ladies past might be a relief. But first things first. That was definitely fabric poking out of the box. Wrap skirt possibility at the very least.
She shook out what must have been the old lady's good suit, wrinkling her nose as the moth balls hit. She absolutely positively had no reason to feel fat because it wouldn't fit her if she was cut in two, because old ladies are supposed to be tiny, anyway. Hence "little old lady." They were… withered, that's what. Ok, no suit. Definitely no pencil pants with retro detail that was probably less retro and more the real thing… One item between her and the box bottom, not to mention total humiliation.
"Oh, god," she muttered. Well, better this than blood-soaked pants. Not much better… But she could tell Drew it was because she had abdomen wounds, right? Now, was it grosser to wear underwear for the third day running, or none at all? Under a mumu… "Gross, thrice-worn panties it is," she muttered, grabbing the jungle-print thing she was reluctant to call a garment and shuffling back to the bathroom to retrieve the bra and undies that had really seen better days. As in the days before she plucked them off the store shelves.
She supposed there was some kind of cosmic justice that would make it hurt to put on a mumu. Sort of like electroshock therapy for fashion insanity. Of course, the average mumu wearer wouldn't have to wedge herself into the damn thing. That was the whole point of the mumu experience. Cat cringed as she looked at herself in the still-steamy mirror. She had to be the only person in the history of creation to wear a mumu that clutched in the middle. She turned to the side. God, it outlined The Belly in gruesome detail. She could see the hollow of her belly button no matter how hard she sucked in. That old lady must have been heavy on the little, because if this was meant to be loose-fitting…
"Not. Thinking. About. It," Cat growled at the mirror, beginning to apply the makeup she'd happened to have in her purse when forced to flee her nice, cushy hotel room filled with clothes that fit, thankyouverymuch. She drew breaths through gritted teeth. She had been an operator for years, she reminded herself. You don't stay in that chair if you can't be cool under fire. So what if fire didn't so much come in the form of really ugly clothes and well-meaning neighbors? Holding it together was life and death, so she was just going to consider it held. Maybe a really knockout hair-and-makeup job could distract from the unholy mix of leopard and giraffe print that might give out and leave her exposed to the nice, well dressed housewives of the world at any minute if the straining seams were any indication. Cat couldn't suppress a snicker. If Trinity could see her now… "Out of the catsuit and into the fucking fire."
There. Cat was, in her considered opinion, as close to presentable as she was likely to get. Nothing to be done about the bruises, really, but her hair was combed, pinned and hairsprayed to within an inch of its life to hide her neck, and she was wearing mascara. Not bad, for the victim of a tragic accident a couple of days ago. Maybe Drew would let her borrow his jacket, and it would cover up the unpleasant spectacle of flab encased by thin cotton. "Could be way worse," she muttered, giving her head one last coating of hairspray just in case.
She froze as she heard the door slam. Drew, or…? She toddled out of the bathroom onto the stairs, just in time to catch a glimpse of a suit-clad shoulder. "Is way worse," she whispered. God, there was no way she could run from him under the best of circumstances, and certainly not now… But he hadn't killed her, he easily could have… Maybe he had no plans to. Maybe he wanted her to be conscious when he did it. Oh, God. Her left hand flew to her throat, causing her product-stiff hair to crackle. But Drew was coming… When was he coming? Less than an hour, he said, and it must have taken her nearly that long to get showered and dressed. God, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Drew did bring Johnson down on their heads. The newer Agent would distract Smith, and she could spend the rest of her time here holed up somewhere where nothing electronic even thought about existing to give her away. She was too unimportant for anyone to look too hard for her if she didn't give them as easy signal to trace. That is, if Smith didn't have his own weird method of tracking her, and didn't want her dead out of sheer spite and oh God, there he was at the foot of the stairs.
"Look," she babbled at a frantic pace, "I dunno what I did that set you off, but you just tell me and I'll never do it again, I swear, and Drew, he's coming over, I convinced him you don't hit me, or at least I think I convinced him and…" She went silent and chalk-pale as Smith's eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened an all-too-familiar signal of his irritation. She stared at him round-eyed, waiting for him to give her an order, an insult, something… She repressed the sudden urge to giggle. His face had relaxed and he looked almost… puzzled. He hadn't expected her to shut up so easily, most likely.
"Ms. Thompson," Smith said, and Cat almost missed the usual seething malice that would have livened up this creepily flat tone, "I find no further benefit in continued association with you until such time as the Oracle becomes available. You will remain on the upper level of this building from the hours of eight pm to nine am each day."
Cat suppressed the urge to say, "Or else?" At least I'm learning something, she thought. An in any case, maybe this wasn't such a bad development. She could hide upstairs with the door locked all the time, no more worrying about when she'd set this volatile machine-man on a choking rampage. Screw the mission. It wasn't like she was an extraordinarily successful spy anyway; all her attempts to gather information had ended in violence of one kind or another, if only to her psyche. But then Trinity might very well think she was entirely useless and send her right back into the nasty metal tunnels of the promised-land-my-ass Zion…
She was saved from decision-induced paralysis by the rumble of a familiar-looking SUV further up the street. "Shit," she said, "that's Drew coming to get me, and if he thinks we're having another fight he'll call the police for sure and bring Johnson down on both our heads." She gestured as if to grab Smith's wrist, then flinched away violently. Yeah, she thought, I'm learning, all right. "Come on. We'll sit on the couch and turn the tv on and look like a normal, non-abusive couple and deal with the whole no-contact exile thing in a minute, OK?"
Smith's eyes were narrow again, but he seated himself on the couch ramrod straight as Cat fiddled with the cable box. What did normal, stable couples watch together? Not a comedy, none of those violent HBO dramas – wouldn't do to give Smith too many ideas. Ah, Jeopardy. Always a safe bet.
She eased down on the couch next to Smith, staring straight at the tv. But, she mused, out of sight, out of mind didn't work so well if you could feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise from the creepy presence of your couchmate. So this is what it actually feels like when your skin crawls. Cat clutched the hem of her mumu with hands that had already started to shake, willing herself to relax. It wouldn't do to look as though she were afraid of her husband in front of Drew, even if she wanted to pee her pants now that she'd put herself within easing throttling distance. "Not so rigid," she muttered, eyes fixed on the carpet. "We have to look happy. He already suspects something, so we have to calm him down or you'll catch it as well as me, with no place left to run to and make new legions of Smiths. Normal, happy, married couple, that's us."
Cat tried to contain her flinch as Smith dropped a hand on her shoulders, arm around her as casually as any boy at the movies with his teenybopper girlfriend. If, Cat thought with a snort, said boy was in the habit of wearing expensive suits. Good, this was good, she'd distracted herself enough to lean back to rest her head on his arm without increasing the mortal terror levels too much. The slam of a car door in the driveway sent her jackknifing back up again. Jesus, enough with the jumpiness, Cat told herself, relaxing back down into Smith's hold. That is, until his hand clenched on her shoulder and wrenched her around to face him. Rigid, panting, heart thrumming a million miles an hour as she stared into his cold, cold eyes, she thought, this is it. I'm going to get killed with witnesses.
She opened her mouth to scream but all that came out was a strangled squeak as Smith wrenched again, and all of a sudden her mouth impacted his, her lips mashing painfully against teeth. Her mouth, still open from that half-scream, suddenly played host to Smith's plundering tongue. Cat was dead sure that she was going to throw up from sheer fright, but hell, she'd kill anyone who threw up into her mouth and Smith was liable to be a little quicker on the trigger. There was more pressure on her shoulder and she found herself splayed awkwardly in Smith's lap. What in God's name… Look like a couple, she'd said, not an adult video… Where in the hell had he picked this up? Shit, he must have learned this from skeezoids in the park, where she'd foolishly told him to scout out human behavior days ago.
Ok, Cat, look natural, she told herself. Drew is in your driveway and he'll see you looking like you think you're about to get your head ripped off, which is an increasingly unlikely possibility. Ok, natural. As in, not sitting here like a board, she thought. Drew could probably see their little floor show, but Smith's bruising grip meant she wasn't going anywhere. Well, no choice but the "caught up in the moment" look, Cat thought. She snaked one arm around Smith's side and dared to bury the other hand in his surprisingly silky hair. From there, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to tentatively prod Smith's invading tongue with her own. Oh… OH!
How had she come to be smashed so tight up against him, not to mention the straddling…? Oh, God, Agents were definitely anatomically correct. Well, in the interests of scientific curiosity and keeping up the disguise… She ground herself in Smith's lap, and the contact drew a groan from her but Smith didn't bat an eye. Not a programmed to respond, then? But he was definitely hard… Maybe it was just his usual inscrutability? Or maybe… She shoved a hand between then and teased and squeezed. Was that a hiss? Whatever it was, it fled from Cat's head as Smith fastened teeth and lips onto her neck. She moaned, leaning back so that she was only anchored to Smith by a hand clutching his head in place and the spot where their groins rubbed. She began to writhe in Smith's lap, tossing her head back to encourage further exploration. Smith's tongue flicked into the hollow of her collarbone; she gasped, her eyes flew open… and in the corner of her field of vision… "Drew?"
Drew had stuck his head through the door and seemed to have frozen in place. His face was, unsurprisingly, deep red, eyes huge and mouth hanging open. "Cat… Uhm… You might want to… uhm… close the curtains…"
She tried to clamber out of Smith's lap, but his hands held her too hard for comfort at a hip and shoulder. She spared a moment to glare at him and was nearly startled into giggling. Smith was smirking at Drew, a territory-claiming Grin of Testosterone if ever there was one. Jesus, Cat thought, he must have learned his "couple behavior" from some kid on a motorbike with an attitude problem. Mmmm… Smith on a motorbike… FOCUS, Cat she told herself, turning her face to Drew. "And you might want to actually, you know, knock."
Drew ducked his head, stammered, "Sorry… I… uhm… I'll come back at a better time," and disappeared behind the closing door. Cat tried to disengage from Smith again, but he was still holding her hard, smirking at something beyond her shoulder. Cat turned to look and there was a rattled Drew, fumbling his car keys and trying with only partial success not to stare back into the living room. Cat couldn't help herself. She threw back her head and laughed, releasing all of the nervous energy and adrenaline she'd locked up, giddy with a heady cocktail of arousal and the sharp knowledge that Smith might decide to pick up where he'd left off on her throat at any moment. And God, didn't that have connotations beyond "squeeze the life out of me" now…
Her laughter came in short, barking gasps and Cat knew she'd passed into hysteria a while ago, but really, who could blame her? Smith's growl brought her up short. "Ms. Thompson. Remove yourself." She stared down and realized she was hanging on Smith by one arm looped round his neck and a hand shoved down into his very rumpled suit pants. God, she didn't even remember putting her hand there in the first place. She launched into fresh gales of nervous laughter until Smith gripped the wrist just above his waistband with bruising force. "Remove yourself," he said, jaw as tight as she'd ever seen it and then the familiar wash of gut terror replaced the more confusing sources of adrenaline. She scrambled off Smith's lap and began to flee for the stairs, jerked to a full stop that jarred her bruised shoulder hard enough that she couldn't suppress a scream. Smith still had her wrist in that crushing grip. She turned back to him, breathing hard, and was greeted with a rictus smile that made her want to throw up all over again. Smith yanked on her wrist, then patted the sofa next to him in a parody of courtesy. "We have things to discuss."
So, I am bad at life and decided to overhaul this chapter quite a lot after the first beta. I think it's the better for it; it's certainly longer. This does mean the wait was more like two weeks than two days. I hope to do faster than that, but maybe take this as standard. Also, the newly raised rating is for language and, well, yeah.
Second… Well, I suppose every forgetful author half-imagines that she will have a Triumphant Return to fandom when she does begin to write again. I knew that was not in the cards… But… well… I would really appreciate it if you would take time to drop a review, even if it's just like, "FUN" or "YOU ARE STUPID." In particular, though, I'd be really excited about some constructive criticism. Do you wish we'd spend less time with Cat when Momentous Events aren't happening? More Smith POV? I'd like to hear what you think, and while I can't promise I'll follow all suggestions, I'll think about it. And if nothing else, it's super encouraging. For instance, I was puttering around, tinkering and making teeny editing changes to this chapter, and I finally just decided that enough was enough because AgentBach prettymuch made my day. And no, this is not me attempting blackmail. I'll keep on posting at roughly the same pace no matter what.
For you all who did review:
SB: Well, the "MUWHAHA!" will not be resisted. In fact, I sometimes quite involuntarily do it myself, when I'm a little on the malicious side. My roommates are fond of this habit. But I would totally get killed, were I dominating the world and then stopped to think how pleased I am with myself. Lives are goodness; I kind of have one too, but work equals downtime equals fanfic, so here we go.
Aldana: Yay! I am so glad you're enjoying. I really appreciate the review. And, well, here's some more Cat-y goodness for you. Do let me know if you like, or if you have any suggestions.
AgentBach: Well, here's the update in question. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for helping jar me out of my cycle of perfectionism.