Disclaimers: The concept and characters of Highlander:The Series belong to Davis-Panzer Productions, Rysher, and/or Gaumont. If it makes any difference, I make no money from this.
Dedicated to my cat, Nike, the inspiration for the OFC. Any resemblance to other cats or kittens, living or dead, is probably not coincidental, but likely a result of certain universal characteristics of the tribe.
This story, while not part of a series, exactly, is one of four stories I have written set during the time Duncan MacLeod was missing before the final battle with Ahriman. The story that is sort of a sequel to this one is called Get Well Soon, and I will post it soon. The other two stories are sidebar stories, one-shots from Duncan's POV. They are Desert Mirage and Empire of Dirt. I'll post them eventually, as well.
The Three Pound Eight Ounce Warrior
by Teresa C
The kitten was cold. She hated being cold. She was damp, and she hated that, too. She was hungry; she was frightened, but most of all, she was lonely. Gone was the comfort and warmth of mother and milk and furry, squirming siblings. She squatted, for a moment, between a building and a bush, and let herself remember. Then she returned to cold reality, put her early life behind her and formed a plan. Ancient instincts awoke, telling her to hide and to hunt. She listened to her instincts, understanding their message, but she chose to adapt it. Her plan would be based on experience – all the experience of four months of life. She would hunt, but she would hunt a human.
Not just any human would do. She crouched nervously atop a low wall, watching a major human thoroughfare. She smelled the traces of two cats who had recently laid claim to this portion of wall, but she did not heed the aromatic warning. She needed this vantage. Which human, which human? She ignored the growls of her stomach. She would not make the decision in desperation.
It became dark and colder. She had licked most of her fur dry, but she couldn't keep her paws warm. With the dusk, she somehow knew, came an increased danger from the local cats. Fewer humans were passing by. Would the right one never come?
Then she saw him. He came out of a building and turned his back to her to do something with the door. Tall and thin, with a prominent nose and short fur on his head, she also sensed he was strong and gentle. She knew him to be kin. To her, he was milk and food and warmth and purring tummy. Her tail twitched. He was now prey.
He started to walk away. She leaped from the wall to land again in cold slush, and darted into the street. She was not unaware of the danger of the whizzing cars, but she dared not lose the right human now that she had found him.
The crossing was harrowing. Her own speed saved her from being crushed by the first car, but that shot her into the path of the second. The kitten flattened herself to the ground while she assessed the path of the squealing, swerving machine bearing down on her. Then she darted to the sidewalk and raced after the man, her heart beating wildly. Loud sounds hurt her flattened ears.
The man stopped and turned, his long coat swirling around his legs. The kitten stopped. Cold, hungry, and wet, she knew this was her chance. She lifted her tail and tipped her head back and yowled. This had always worked with her mother. C'mon, c'mon. Pick me up; hold me, warm me, feed me. She couldn't see his hands, but she imagined them being large and warm.
The coat swirled again. The man was walking away! Outrage warmed her, followed by determination. Her prey would not escape. She dashed ahead of him and swerved into his ankle.
The man shifted his weight and stepped effortlessly over her. But he did stop. The kitten tipped her head back to look up at his height. She mewed again, demanding.
"Careful there, little one," he said with a rumbling low voice, which sounded close enough to a purr, for her. But then he walked away again.
She repeated the move, this time angling more sharply in front of him. Again he avoided her gracefully. This would not do. Distasteful as it was, she plopped down in the slush in front of him, and rolled, belly up.
"Now you're all wet," he sympathized. He reached down to pick up her up. She had been right about his hands. They were large, warm, and dry. Unable to manage a purr, the kitten wriggled happily in his grasp. Now snuggle me up to you and take me where the food is.
"All right, I'll let you go."
Nooo! He set her in the shelter of a doorway, and strode away. The kitten was beginning to worry that her chosen human was not too bright. Well, that just meant that he needed her. She chased after him.
She followed him for a long ways. Hungry and tired, she had to fight the temptation to rest and lose him. Finally he came to a door.
The kitten knew about doors. They were bad things. They isolated her from where she wanted to be, or from whom she wanted to be with. She gathered her strength and sprinted to catch him. She leaped on him from behind and managed to catch his coat with her claws. She clung, swinging, and considered her chances of climbing up his back. But before she could decide, the man reacted. He spun and stepped, slamming her against the wall just inside the door. The impact shuddered through the kitten's frame, hurting everywhere at once. Stunned, she still clung to the coat.
"What the ...?"
She was dimly aware of the man shifting the coat, swinging her around to his front. Gasping in a breath, she let out a cry which should have been a reprimand, but came out as a whimper.
"Oh!" he rumbled. "It's you!" Strong, the kitten's fragmented thoughts limped back to observe. Not smart, but very strong.
His warm hands wrapped around her again, and he tried to disengage her from the cloth of his coat.
"Let go. Let go."
Her claws came free without her consent. She still hurt.
"You are a tenacious little thing."
This time the man held her close against his body, in the corner of his arm. His other hand closed the door, and then he carried her into a flat, talking. The kitten didn't understand the words, but she understood the tone of apology. Still in some physical shock, she curled slightly to protect her belly.
The man set her gently on a chair and removed his coat. The kitten had recovered enough to notice that she was warmer. She saw the man draw something very long and hard out of his coat and set it by the door. Suddenly wary, she remained very still. But when the man started toward the places which the kitten recognized as likely to have food, she abandoned caution, jumped to the floor and followed his feet closely. She yowled.
"Yes, I know. Give me a minute."
He opened the refrigerator, and food smells assailed her. She climbed in, only to be plucked back out.
"You don't want to get caught in there."
He set her on the floor, and she immediately climbed back in the refrigerator.
"Hey! Didn't I explain this to you?"
She was removed again, and he shut the door. She yowled. Food, now!
"I know, I know."
He took an interminable amount of time doing something on the counter. She could smell fish. She judged the counter to be too high to jump to. What if he forgot her?! She reminded herself that he was not very bright. She cried again, and kept crying. For good measure, she wove between his legs. Finally he placed a portion of a fish and milk in a saucer on the floor. Food! Food!
The man watched while she ate. She peeled the succulent portions of the fish away from the bones with her claws and teeth. She may have been starving, but she still preferred her food properly prepared.
"You're supposed to eat it, not autopsy it," the man said. The kitten paid no attention to him. She dedicated herself to eating every last morsel of the fish.
"If you are done with your forensic examination, Doctor …" The man picked up the plate as the kitten turned to the milk. When she finally looked up again, licking milk from her whiskers, the man had moved into the other room.
With hunger, cold, and thirst banished to memory, she was still damp and lonely. She intended to solve both at the same time.
She found him sitting – a perfect position for her purposes, but his lap was too high for an easy leap, so she climbed.
Her world became briefly chaotic as his leg kicked, she was grabbed, and something wet poured on her. She did achieve his lap, however, just not in the way she had intended. And she was wet with something which wasn't water. Too fatigued to decide which she wanted to deal with first, she alternately purred, mewed protest, licked her fur, and rolled in his lap. He was forced to move a magazine out from under her, and he set a glass down on an end table.
"Now, look ..."
He tried to pet her, but she was too excited to stay still. And the liquid she was licking off her fur had a strange and distracting taste. Some of it rubbed off on his clothes as she rolled, so she sniffed and licked it there. The glass on the side table held more of it, so she perched on the chair and sniffed toward the glass. The man pulled her back onto his lap.
"I am not sharing my beer. Get your own."
She tried again to taste his drink. Again, he pulled her back. She began furiously licking it off her fur, and waited for an opportunity.
"What am I going to do with you? I can't keep a kitten."
The kitten liked his purring voice; she wanted to be closer to it. She climbed up his chest and tried to nestle against his throat. She needed her claws to stay in place. For some reason, he plucked her away from his neck.
"Now listen. I am not naming you or anything. You can't stay here."
Suddenly very sleepy, the kitten yawned and curled into his warm lap. She could explore her new home later.
A/N: Yes, I know, total icky cuteness. It gets better, really.