Title: Conjuring Pain
Rating: T (PG-13) … just to be sure.
Disclaimer: I do not own Cats and do not make any money with this story. I only own the little plot bunny.
Summary: Everyone thinks to be able to conjure would be great, but Quaxo cannot confirm that. To him magic only means pain, loss and loneliness. It started ruining his life since he was a kitten. Will his broken spirit be mended when Tugger and Munk stumble upon him?
Word Count: 2500
Total Word Count: 35129
Warning: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, but mainly Fluff – a lot of it.
Author's Notes: Thanks to everyone for the reviews and alerts and everything that chapter 18 got. And as promised here is chapter 19 which will also be the last chapter. I considered doing a sort of epilogue but I quite like the ending and think I'll leave it at that. So, I hope you enjoy the ending and once more, thank you to everyone who's read and reviewed this story! You're the best!
Chapter 19: Good Morning
Judging from the pain in his neck and shoulder not much time had passed since Munkustrap had fallen unconscious. Something was licking the wounds on his back and pawing at him carefully.
"Please wake up," a small voice whispered again and again.
Slowly Munkustrap remembered. There had been a Pollicle on the loose and he had stood in its way to protect Quaxo and Plato. His eyes flew open, looking for his charge. Instead they landed on Plato. The young tom looked badly shaken but smiled widely in relief when he saw Munkustrap staring at him.
"Quaxo!" Plato said. "Look, he's awake! Thank the Everlasting Cat! We thought we'd lost you, Munkustrap."
Munkustrap wanted to answer but then dark eyes were looking at him hesitantly. They were red from crying and Quaxo's face was wet from his tears. He touched Munkustrap's face gently. It took the tabby a moment to realize that Quaxo's normally white paw was black and glittering in the sunlight.
"Quaxo-" Munkustrap began.
Tears ran down the kittens face. "I'm so sorry," Quaxo whispered. "I know I was supposed to stay in the den and, and I know I'm wrong and shouldn't be able to do that but you were hurt and I wanted to help and, and, and-"
Quaxo's breathing became heavy. Plato laid a comforting paw on his shoulder. "Please don't be angry with me. Don't send me away," Quaxo finished in a whisper.
Munkustrap's heart went out to his charge and even though it hurt he sat up and opened his arms in invitation. Quaxo did not hesitate. He buried his face in Munkustrap's chest fur and wept. "It's okay, little one," Munkustrap said soothingly. "I'm not angry. That was very brave of you."
"I just want you to be alright." Quaxo's voice was muffled and choked with tears.
Munkustrap held him tighter. "I will be. I promise." He looked to Plato. "What happened?"
Plato shrugged helplessly. "Before I could close the door he dashed out of the den and ran towards you and the Pollicle. I'm sorry, Munkustrap, I was too slow to catch him."
Munkustrap nodded and beckoned for Plato to come closer. The young tom looked as if he were about to fall over. Loosening one arm from around Quaxo he drew Plato into the embrace as well.
"It's not your fault. What happened next?"
Plato's eyes were wide when he said, "Quaxo was what happened next. He- his coat changed completely to black and he started to glitter, much more than he does now. Sparks were shooting out of his front paws and hit the Pollicle until it stopped moving. I think it's dead. It was really amazing and impressive, Munkustrap. You should have seen him."
"My paws hurt," Quaxo mumbled and Munkustrap gently nuzzled his head.
"It's your magic, little one," he explained. "It burns your paws because you haven't learned to control it yet. We'll work on that."
Quaxo lifted his head, eyes filled with hope. "You won't send me away?"
Munkustrap smiled at him. "Why should I?"
"Because I'm dangerous?" Quaxo sniffed.
Munkustrap laughed. "Yes, to Pollicles perhaps. You would never willingly hurt anyone in our tribe, now would you, Quaxo?"
Quaxo shook his head.
"Then I think we're good," Munkustrap said. Beside him Plato smiled.
"Are you sure?" Quaxo asked.
It was Plato who answered. "Very sure, Quaxo. What you did there was awesome! I wish I could do that!"
A small, tentative smile was beginning to form on Quaxo's lips. "You do?"
"Oh yes!" Plato said eagerly. "Just think about it! You'll be the best at hide and seek and scare the other cats out of their minds when you just appear in front of them out of thin air. We're going to have so much fun!"
A change came over Quaxo at that. The glittering of his fur died down and his paws turned lighter, first becoming grey than finally regaining their natural white color. The burn marks were now easily visible on them and despite his own pain Munkustrap's heart ached for the kitten. Quaxo's eyes followed Munkustrap's gaze and he sighed dejectedly. "Guess that means the bandages will be back on?"
Both Munkustrap and Plato laughed. "I fear so, little one."
Quaxo shrugged and relaxed against Munkustrap's chest. "Doesn't matter. I'm just glad you're okay."
"Yeah, about that," Plato began, staring at Munkustrap. "I think we should get you looked at by Jenny. Your shoulder looks bad and those cuts on your back should not get infected."
Jenny. A cold feeling settled in Munkustrap's stomach. "The others," Munkustrap said, looking stricken. To Plato he said, "There were more Pollicles than this one in the junkyard. I told Jenny to hide with the kittens at Jelly's den. You need to check on them and make sure that the others have the situation under control. Tell Jenny to come here. I'm afraid I can't make it to her den on my own."
"Can do," Plato said and off he went, fast but cautious. Munkustrap hoped there were no more Pollicles roaming around the junkyard and that, more importantly, everyone was safe and no one beside him had been injured.
"Munkus?" Quaxo asked quietly.
Munkustrap looked down at him. "Yes, little one?"
"Did my … my mum, did she have magic? Like I do?" Quaxo frowned when Munkustrap affirmed that with a nod. "But, then why did she send me away because of it? I don't understand."
Quaxo looked so pitiful and small und unbelievingly young in his arms that Munkustrap could do nothing but hold him tighter. "Do you remember our talk about magic, Quaxo?" he asked.
"Yes," Quaxo answered.
"Then you remember that I told you that magic can be used for good or bad things," Munkustrap said. "Today, most cats are afraid of magic because most magic cats chose to do bad things with their powers."
Quaxo frowned. "So my mum did bad things?"
Yes, Munkustrap thought, because she left you when you needed her the most. Instead he said, "Not with her magic, no. She knew she had it and most likely never learned to control it. She was afraid of it, Quaxo, just like everyone else. She was scared to use it, scared that the other cats would hate her. So she hid it and ignored it. Until you showed signs of that talent."
"I just wanted her to be safe," Quaxo sniffed. Munkustrap gently wiped the tears away that threatened to fall.
"I know that and it's a good thing, believe me," he said. "But she was very afraid of what you did. She couldn't hide your powers like she hid her own. That's why she left you. Not because you were dangerous or did bad things or anything like that, but because she was scared. She wasn't strong enough."
Quaxo nodded in understanding. "She wasn't strong like you are."
Munkustrap chuckled even though it hurt. "Don't feel so strong right now, kiddo. But yes, I won't ever stop loving you because of your magic, and I'm not scared of it. And you've seen that Plato also isn't afraid of it. As for the other cats – they'll come around in time. Believe me."
"Yeah," a new voice said and Munkustrap saw Tugger walking up to them, with Plato and Jenny in tow. "Just look at them with your big soulful eyes, Quaxo, and they'll eat out of your paw."
Quaxo did just that and stared at Tugger. "Like this?"
Tugger laughed. "Yep, just like that. So, I heard you sparkle and saved my brother, hm? Good going, kiddo." He ruffled the fur between Quaxo's ears before he gently pried him from Munkustrap's arms so Jenny could take a look at him.
"Look at you," she said, shaking her head.
"Is everyone else safe?" Munkustrap asked while she fussed over him.
She nodded. "The rest of the Pollicles were driven back and we suffered no casualties. Admetus was hurt but Plato and Jelly are taking care of him right now. Nothing to worry about."
Munkustrap let out a relieved sign and lay back down on the ground while Jenny worked on him. "When you're finished with me you need to take a look at Quaxo's paws. They're burned again."
"I will, don't worry," she reassured him while she, without warning, popped his shoulder back into place. It took everything Munkustrap had not to scream. Tugger was snickering and Munkustrap glared at him.
"Oh come on, brother," Tugger said. "Don't be such a wuss."
Munkustrap smiled at him coldly. "Let's talk about that once I've dislocated your shoulder, now shall we?"
Tugger grinned at Quaxo. "See? He'll be right as rain in no time."
It did not take long for Jenny to finish the rest of her examination. She disinfected the cuts, foregoing the bandages since they were pretty shallow and should heal up nicely on their own as long as they were properly tended to. After she had taken a look at Quaxo's paws and bandaged them, she told Munkustrap in no uncertain terms that bed rest was in order, for both him and Quaxo.
"But, there's so many things to be done! I need to talk to Old Deuteronomy and-"
He was interrupted by Tugger. "Don't worry, I've got it. I'll fill the old cat in about everything that's been going on and make sure the tribe knows that you and Quaxo will be fine. Jenny's right, you need rest."
Reluctantly he allowed Tugger to help him into their den while Jenny carried Quaxo in behind them. Once deposited among the pillows and blankets and assured that food and water were easily reachable, Jenny and Tugger left them alone to deal with the rest of the tribe. It did not take long for them to fall asleep.
Munkustrap was woken by a light knock on the door of his den. Making sure that Quaxo was still asleep he limped outside. He was surprised to see not only his father waiting for him but also Tugger, Coricopat and Tantomile.
Old Deuteronomy smiled at him. "How are you, Munkustrap?"
"Well, considering I've been almost torn to pieces," Munkustrap replied, having a feeling what this meeting was about.
"And how is young Quaxo faring?" Old Deuteronomy continued.
Munkustrap looked him straight in the eye, daring his father to even consider sending Quaxo away. "He's still asleep," he said defensively. "Must be pretty exhausting, saving someone's life and getting your paws burned in the process."
"Calm down, Munk," Tugger said, sitting down next to him. "Father is not here to take him away from you."
Unsure, Munkustrap looked at his father. "Then why are you here?"
Old Deuteronomy's smile was sad. "Can't I be concerned about the wellbeing of my son and … well, grandson, for all intents and purposes?"
Munkustrap was taken aback. Never would he have expected his father to officially acknowledge Quaxo as part of their family.
"We only mean well, Munkustrap", Tantomile said.
"Quaxo's powers are strong," Coricopat continued.
Together they said, "It is time he learns to control them."
Munkustrap stared first at them and then at his father. "You want to help him? Really?"
Old Deuteronomy nodded. "The tribe has already been made aware of his powers and my opinion on that. No one has spoken against him staying. We are all united in this." He smiled at Munkustrap. "We are not going to make the same mistakes that we made with Macavity. Quaxo will have his place in our tribe and he will learn how to use his powers. I have a feeling he will safe all of us in ways we can't even begin to imagine in the future."
"But he'll be allowed to stay with me, right?" Munkustrap asked.
"Of course," Old Deuteronomy said. "You're his guardian and he may stay with you as long as he wants to. But he will have to train with Coricopat and Tantomile."
Before Munkustrap could voice his concerns about that, the twins reassured him.
"His training will begin once he is fully healed," Coricopat said.
"We will start in a few days with theoretical lessons about magic," Tantomile added, "to which you are invited, of course, should you be interested."
"We will be careful with him, Munkustrap," Coricopat said.
"Quaxo will learn magic through playing," Tantomile finished.
They both smiled at him and Munkustrap finally allowed himself to be happy. Everything seemed to turn out as best as it possibly could. There was nothing left to do but thank the twins and his father.
"You are very much welcome, my son," Old Deuteronomy said and for the first time in years Munkustrap found himself being embraced by his father. "I'm so glad you are safe."
"You have Quaxo to thank for that," Munkustrap said and pulled away.
There was a twinkle in Old Deuteronomy's eyes and from seemingly out of nowhere he held out a black plush mouse. Munkustrap took it, looking at his father uncertainly.
"It's for our hero of the day," he said. Then he grinned and pointed to the underside of the mouse. "It moves on its own when you press that button. I'm sure Quaxo and the other kittens will enjoy playing with it."
Tugger chuckled. "Don't forget Plato. He's going to have a field day with that toy."
Munkustrap agreed. He smiled at Old Deuteronomy. "Thank you, father. I'm sure Quaxo will be delighted."
Old Deuteronomy nodded. He looked towards the sky where the first stars started to appear. "We will leave you two, then. Have a good night, Munkustrap, and take good care of our magical kitten."
"I will, father."
Together with Tugger he watched Old Deuteronomy, Coricopat and Tantomile fade into the shadows. They sat in silence for a while until Munkustrap finally asked, "What happened to Quaxo's mother?"
"She didn't make it," Tugger said. "We buried her body earlier."
Munkustrap nodded. "How are the other kittens? How's Plato holding up?"
"Plato's been dealing with all these shocks today pretty well, actually," Tugger said, licking his paw absentmindedly. "He's already driving Admetus nuts with all his worrying but Admetus takes it in good strike. As for the kittens, they're okay. A bit scared, perhaps, but they didn't witness any of the fighting."
"Good," was all Munkustrap said to that. He stood up, stretched his aching limbs slowly and turned towards the entrance of his den. "You staying the night?" he asked Tugger, knowing that his brother was lurking around for one reason only.
Tugger's answering grin proved him right. "I thought you'd never asked."
Together they went inside. They curled up around Quaxo, one on either side of him, and closed their eyes. Sleep came surprisingly easily for them and was not filled with nightmares. They slept soundly through the night and when they awoke the next morning the sun was shining brightly and Quaxo was smiling at them.
"Good morning!" he said happily.
Live could not be better.