I Give You…
Quaxo crawled into his pipe and flopped down with a sigh. He gazed up at the night sky and found constellations with ease. Secretly he envied the stars. They were so beautiful in a mysterious, cold way. And the way they shined always made them look as if they were happy about some mysterious cosmic secret. Meanwhile, down on Earth Quaxo was just another cat in the Jellicle tribe. He was a face in the crowd, nothing more.
His coat was primarily black. A rather ugly type of black to boot. It was flat, not shiny like the black on Alonzo, or Rum Tum Tugger. He had a few white patches, but they were almost gray. Had he bothered to really groom them more, he might have had a passable tuxedo pattern started, but frankly his low self-esteem always left him with a "why-bother?" mentality about it.
Quaxo was just out of kittenhood, a new adult in the tribe. Well, that's what some of the others would tell him, especially when he was getting some work dumped on him. Whenever he wanted to participate in the goings-on of the tribe, he was usually humored and coddled, still treated like a kitten. He supposed that was simply because of his size. Standing at full height, he was only as tall as some of the queens, nowhere near the height of the other toms. In fact, some of the younger kitten toms were taller then him. It was common knowledge that nothing irritated Quaxo more than Pouncival or Tumblebrutus using him as an armrest. He was also very slim. Had Quaxo been human, one might think that he was a dancer. However, in the Junkyard, where toms were expected to be the ones who protected the tribe in the violent clashes against Policles, Pekes, and Strays, Quaxo's light frame was more of a hindrance. His vague and shy manner, which many cats took for anti-social behavior, or just plain arrogance, combined with everything else, made other toms regard Quaxo as downright effeminate.
The stars continued to dance around in the sky, apparently without a care in the world, and as wonderful as ever.
As he gazed across the Junkyard, Quaxo saw Rum Tum Tugger appear with his normal flock of queens around him. Electra, Etcetera, Jemima, Victoria, Bombaluriana, and tonight Cassandra and Tantomile joined the others in giggling admiration for the most outrageously flamboyant Jellicle in the Junkyard. Sometimes Quaxo wished he could be more like him. Tugger always seemed to know how to get along with people. It seemed as if every unattached queen in the Junkyard was his to do with as he pleased. Even when he got in trouble with Munkustrap or Jennyanydots, he always managed to sweet talk his way out of it. Quaxo counted himself lucky if he was able to get out one sentence to the more senior Jellicles without stuttering, or blanking totally.
Tugger was only a few years older than Quaxo, and prided himself on his looks and his reputation as a "curious cat." Curious cat is right. Quaxo thought to himself. Most of what Tugger did both confused and intrigued Quaxo. He supposed it was because the other tom was just so different from himself. Exciting, popular, good-looking, and with an easy personality that everyone loved. Contrasted with Quaxo's plain looks, and social awkwardness.
Quaxo sighed and rolled onto his back and closed his eyes, once again lamenting his situation. An entirely unexceptional cat in every way, way to go, Quaxo. That has got to be some sort of record. He thought bitterly to himself. About the only thing he was good at was blending in. He wished that he had something that he could contribute to the tribe. Maybe then the others would finally treat him like a real adult.
But what? He thought to himself. I can't fight. The Everlasting Cat knows that the others have shown me that time and time again. I sing as well as any of the cats, but that's only good during the Jellicle Ball, once a year. He knew he could probably out-dance any of the toms, but that only would go to further the idea everyone had of him anyway.
Laying on his back, Quaxo opened his eyes and found himself looking right up at Rum Tum Tugger and his ladies looking down at him. Quaxo's eyes narrowed. He didn't feel like being disturbed right at that moment. "Can I help you?" he asked coldly. Tugger grinned.
"Just wanted to see what the life of the party was up tonight." He answered in his usual cool manner. The girls giggled. Quaxo was not finding any humor in it.
"Then why are you asking me?" He snapped back.
Tugger smiled. That only caused Quaxo's frown to grow. Tugger's upbeat manner and the giggling of the girls were only causing his depressed manner to grow. "Just trying to let you join in the group, Quax! You're by yourself too much. You have to have some fun!"
"And what if I don't want to have fun?" Quaxo grumbled as he rolled over to look the other tom in the face. Using that damn nickname… Tugger's grin only grew.
"Well, if you're going to be stubborn, then we're going to have to socialize you by force." As if on cue, the girls darted forward and grabbed Quaxo, dragging him out of his pipe.
"H… hey! Let me go!" Quaxo yelled. The girls just giggled again.
"Quax, chill out." Tugger said.
Quaxo struggled and thrashed around as much as he could. "I will NOT chill out! Let me go!" Eventually the violence of his thrashing got to be too much for the queens and Quaxo fell to the ground, landing hard on his rear. He fumed inwardly as the queens' giggling broke out into full-fledged laughter. He scrambled to his feet and dashed off into the jungle of the Junkyard, trying to get away from it.
"Girls, girls, you just lost us a playmate." Tugger playfully chided them as he watched Quaxo vanish into the black of the night. His coats obscuring him entirely before he was all the way out of the Junkyard.
"Awww, but he wasn't being any fun!" Electra and Etcetera said practically in unison.
Bombalurina slid up to Tugger's side and let her tail wrap around his leg. "You know, we could ditch the others and have some real fun." She whispered into his ear.
Tugger waved her off. "Nah. Actually, I think I'm going to head back to my den and get some shut eye." The girls awwwwed and protested, but Tugger waved his hands at them and started back to his den. "Come on, ladies. I gotta keep myself looking good for you all." The kittens started to giggle and left for their den next to Jennyanydots'. Tantomile returned to her normal reserved state and went in search of her brother, while Cassandra went in search of Alonzo, her more stable boyfriend. Bombalurina fumed for a minute, but then spun on her heel and went in search of one of the free toms.
Tugger laughed quietly to himself. Those girls were really a trip sometimes. They were a lot of fun to be around, but they were so clingy sometimes. Not that you never lead them on… A tiny sarcastic voice in the back of his mind peeped.
Quaxo, on the other hand, was something else. Tugger wasn't sure what it was. He wanted to see the little come join the others. He was fairly certain that Quaxo wasn't as arrogant as the others thought him. Some nights Tugger had seen the younger tom sitting out, looking at the night sky with a melancholy look on his face that indicated that there was something that was unseen by the others. Tugger knew the opinions most of the cats (especially the toms) held about Quaxo. He might have had the same labels himself had he not gone out of his way to play himself up as a ladies' cat. But unlike Quaxo, Tugger did have the advantage of height, muscles and a fairly intimidating mane-like ruff.
Quaxo, on the other hand, when he didn't know you were looking at him, had a faint haunted expression. Tugger wondered if the other tom even knew that. He never seemed to. Another thing puzzled Tugger. Occasionally Quaxo would simply stare off into space and have no idea anything had happened. Unfortunately some of the other cats would take that opportunity to do mildly embarrassing things to him, like putting his paw in warm water. Tugger winced at the memory. Even he had found that rather mean.
He looked back at the shadows Quaxo had vanished into and frowned. The Junkyard could be dangerous at night, and Quaxo wasn't very good at much but running. He hoped that he would be all right. Ahh, he'll be fine. What are the odds of something actually happening?
As if in answer, he heard a loud, terrified yowl from the shadows.
And it sounded like Quaxo…
Looking around, Tugger didn't see anyone else. He scowled. It was times like this that he regretted making his den so far from the others. He didn't have time to go for help if Quaxo was in real trouble. He paused for a moment, trying to decide the best course of action. Then he finally decided on the only course open to him.Tugger dashed into the shadows full speed in the direction of the cry.