AN: Disney owns Atlantis: The Lost Empire and all its characters. Tanya Huff created Claire Hansen, Dean McIssac, Austin, and Diana. You can find them in her books, Summon the Keeper; The Second Summoning, and Long Hot Summoning.
Thanks to alanluver, the biggest Tanya Huff fanatic on the planet, for her help with ideas and dialogue.
Atlantis Summons the Keeper
The giant cruise liner rocked gently on the waves, lulling Claire Hansen into an afternoon nap. The petite brunette rubbed sun tan lotion onto her arms and legs and settled down further into the foldout beach chair. She shut her dark brown eyes under her sunglasses, completely closing out the rest of the world. A strong hand grasped her own and gave it a loving squeeze. As one, Claire and Dean sighed contentedly and began to doze off.
The peace was not to last, however, and Claire awoke with a start as a furry weight jumped onto her stomach. After regaining her breath, she sat up and cried out, "Austin! I'm trying to relax here!"
"Oh, you're breaking my heart," said the cat sarcastically. "Feed me."
"Shh! Do you want someone to hear you?" she hissed. Whipping her head around, she checked to make sure no one was looking at them.
"If it'll get you to feed me, yes." Louder, he yelled, "Help! Help! Animal abuse! She's starving me! Call the A.S.P.C.A.! Hel—Oomph!" Claire clamped her hand over his mouth.
"Fine," she huffed, exasperated. She turned to her boyfriend. "I'll be right back, Dean."
The young man lifted his head, causing sunlight to glint on his glasses. "Is there anything I can be after going to get for you?" he asked in his slight Newfoundland accent.
"No," sighed Claire as she stood up. She carried Austin under one arm back to their cabin, both of them grumbling the entire way. Once they were in the privacy of her and Dean's room, she placed the cantankerous cat rather roughly onto the queen-sized bed. With a scowl that surely meant an imminent lecture, she said sternly, "You're not supposed to be here, you know. I could get in a lot of trouble if the wrong person finds you wandering around on the deck." Austin began licking his tail, a cat's way of flipping someone the finger. "You were supposed to stay at the inn," she continued. "With Diana."
He stopped, looked up at her with his one golden eye, and then sat with his now clean black tail curled around the front of his white paws. "I wasn't about to stay with your little sister and have to listen to her and her girlfriend making out constantly. I'd rather retch up a hairball. And I'm not," he added, "about to leave you alone with him on a vacation."
She huffed again, flaring her nostrils. "I think I deserve a little bit of quality time with Dean after saving the world. Three times. Over the course of only a month."
"Okay," he admitted grudgingly, "maybe you have been working hard, but I don't want to chance you bringing back a souvenir." The last word was spat out with as much disgust as he could manage.
"What are you—" Understanding slowly dawned on her face. "Oh. Austin, you know Dean and I don't plan on having any—"
"The point is you don't really plan on anything on a romantic getaway, now do you?"
With a smile, she picked up the cat and hugged him tightly. "You're my only baby."
In return, he nuzzled her cheek and purred. "Damn straight, and baby's hungry."
"Well, we don't have any cat food. I hadn't exactly planned on you stowing away in my luggage." Austin leapt from her arms and back onto the bed as she began searching through the mini fridge. All she found were five bottles of wine coolers. "Nothing."
"You could call room service," Austin suggested hopefully.
"No, I'm not calling room service. But maybe…" Well, she was a Keeper, which endowed her with certain …abilities. Looking around for something to work with, she spotted an unused ashtray on the bedside table. Furrowing her brow in concentration, she reached into the Possibilities and, with a loud POP, the ashtray transformed into an easy-open can of tuna fish.
"You know," the feline began, "I don't like Chicken of the Sea…" Claire glared at him. "Beggars can't be choosers," he quickly added. After she poured the can's contents onto a small plate for him, he eagerly, and with a great deal of enthusiasm normally reserved for creatures who haven't had a bite to eat in weeks as opposed to a few hours, dug in.
Claire sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm glad to finally get away from Keeper duties for a while," she said wistfully as she stroked Austin's spine.
"I'm glad to finally be fed," he replied around a mouthful of fish.
"I'm sure that the world will be safe for at least a few days. There's enough Keepers around that I can get a break from a Summons, right?" she asked doubtfully.
"Should I answer that or are you talking to yourself?"
She sighed. Cats, as a rule, don't feel guilt or responsibility; therefore they have no clue what it's like, nor do they care to find out. "Hopefully Diana won't bring about the Apocalypse while I'm away."
"Probably not," said Austin as he licked his lips. "But I think I heard her mention inviting the Horsemen over for a game of cards."
"Her and Famine seem to be on a buddy-buddy basis now, don't they?"
"Some kids, you just can't stop them from hanging out with the wrong crowd. Well," he reflected, "you could, but we all know bludgeoning is out of the question." He stretched, arching his back as only cats can. "Back to sunbathing?"
"I'm going back out. You are staying in here." After giving him a good, long scratch behind his ears, she got up and walked out of the cabin. She made sure the door was shut good and tight and then began to walk back to her chair.
Then it hit her, knocking her off balance and nearly causing her to tumble overboard. She grabbed onto the ship's rail, swaying slightly. It was a Summons, one of the strongest she had ever felt.
No, she thought, hoping it could somehow hear her, I'm on a pleasure cruise! Go away! Can't you get someone else? Please?
The feeling lessened and then ebbed away, like a wave leaving a beach.
Nothing, not even Hell itself, was going to ruin her vacation.
At least she hoped so.
AN: Don't worry, fellow Atlantis fans, the lost continent will be coming in the next chapter. Claire's career will also be better explainedlater as well. Oh, and I don't own Chicken of the Sea.