The Rum Tum Tugger was bored. Bombalurina had been in a foul mood today and if he was honest Tugger was getting fed up of being dropped by her whenever the mood took her. It may have been the other way around in his signature song but life didn't always impersonate art. Besides Bomba was starting to get jealous of Demeter and her kitten and Tugger could sense she was starting to look for her soul mate. Both Jellicle's knew they weren't soul mates but that never stopped them having fun until the right Jellicle came along.
Tugger's boredom was further increased by the lack of attention from the kittens of the tribes. They all missed Pouncival terribly and spent most of their time moping. Tugger couldn't blame them but it was still annoying.
Pushing these thoughts aside Tugger put on his best smile and strutted out of the yard to go home, you never knew when a new pretty queen would turn up so he was always prepared.
Engrossed in his own ego filled thoughts Tugger almost missed the sight of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer turning into a side ally on the street they all shared. As a naturally curious cat it had been driving Tugger mad wondering where the tiger twins spent all their time. He had tried to ask Rumpleteazer a few times when walking her home but she would quickly change the subject. He'd never had the chance to follow them before either. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were early risers, something the Rum Tum Tugger most certainly was not. Knowing he'd probably never get another chance Tugger put on his stealthiest walk and followed the couple.
When they reached a fairly rundown area of town Tugger risked getting close enough to Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer to hear what they were talking about.
"Oi'm telling you luv, this is tha start of a big family fer us. We'll 'ave a whole mini troibe of ur own."
"Oh really, well yer can carry the nex' one. Oi've never been so uncomfertabl' in moi life!" Rumpleteazer was visibly waddling at this point. Jerrie had impersonated her once and felt the back side of her paw; he hadn't dared do it since.
Tugger suppressed a laugh. It was good to know Jerrie and Teazer we as close as ever. They reached a dead end. Tugger stayed at the end of the ally so he could stay hidden. But he watched as Mungojerrie held open a make shift Jellicle sized door for Rumpleteazer to waddle through before following her with his normal cheeky grin. He snuck closer, hoping to find an accessible window to have a look through but instead found himself confronted by two Jellicle's he didn't recognise.
"I have the honour of meeting the infamous Rum Tum Tugger." The queen spoke softly so as not to sound threatening however Tugger was concerned that she had said that as a statement rather than a question.
"And I have the honour of meeting two complete strangers. How thrilling." Tugger kept it clam and added a signature smile.
"Forgive me. My name is Mana, this is my mate Darkness." She gestured to the black tom who was about the same height as Tugger. He noticed that despite standing perfectly still Darkness looked like he could pounce at any moment.
"Just because I know your names doesn't mean you're not strangers." Tugger took a slightly defensive stance. He didn't like the look the tom was giving him. Mana looked at Tugger and then at Darkness.
"You'll have to excuse my mate, he doesn't say much, he just weighs Jellicle's up in his mind" Darkness made a barely perceivable move that gave him the appearance of being at rest and no longer ready to pounce. "You are in no danger but we cannot let you in."
"Why not?" Tugger didn't let up his defensive stance. "I want to see my friends. What are you hiding in there?"
"Jellicle's who need to hide." Darkness said this. There was no hint of emotion or mystery in his voice. This was a simple fact. Mana stepped in to explain.
"The Jellicle's here have all done things in their lives that they are ashamed of but they all want to put their old lives behind them and move on. Unfortunately very few of them would be accepted into a normal tribe. We don't mean anyone any harm, not any more; we just want the freedom to live whether it be alone, with a mate or with a family." Mana looked lovingly at Darkness. "Everyone deserves a second chance." Darkness stroked his mates cheek gently.
"You may be interested to know that Pouncival is here." Mana announced.
"Pounce? What's he doing here? Everyone's been worried sick. Tantomile and Coricopat have been telling us he's ok but nothing else." Tugger forgot his defensive stance and stood bolt upright, his ear flat in concern.
"Pouncival found us when he was badly hurt no thanks to some human kittens. Our healer has been looking after him and helping him make a full recovery. He's really well enough to go home but he has grown increasingly close to a young queen called Eclipse. And I'm pleased to say she returns his affections." Mana smiled, thinking of love always made her smile. Even when she was at her lowest in Macavity's services love could always brighten her day. Tugger also smiled, although his was a less controlled smile.
"Pounce has a queen? No wonder he doesn't want to come home. Good for the little fur ball." He paused for a moment, letting this wealth of new information settle in his mind. "And there's no chance you'll let me in? Just to see my friends?" Mana put a gentle paw on Tugger's shoulder.
"Not yet. It was important that you found the hotel today but this is as far as you go today Rum Tum Tugger. I realise you have no reason to but please trust me on this. I have seen how things must be and your time with us doesn't start yet."
"She's never wrong." Darkness put an arm around his mate, still looking at the maned tom. Tugger looked briefly at both of them and let out an exaggerated sigh of defeat.
"Fine. I'll go. I suppose I'm just wasting my good looks and charm here." He winked at Mana, turned away and started to strut off.
"One more thing." Darkness let go of Mana and stepped forward. "You can't tell anyone about this place. It won't end well if you do."
"Is that a threat?" Tugger stopped, looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow.
"No, Just a fact. I've heard about you and your fan club from Mungojerrie. I doubt even I could defend myself against them If I dented that pretty mane of yours." Darkness let a tiny smirk dance on his lips for a moment. Tugger let out another laugh.
"No I don't suppose you could, they are very loyal. Don't worry my dears; if there's one thing Tugger likes its knowing a secret. I'll keep my mouth shut. Although, I should mention" Tugger turned around and pulled himself up to his full height and put on a serious face. "If anything happens to Teazer, Pounce or even Jerrie I will lead my tribe here and Everlasting Cat help anyone who laid a paw on them. I don't know what it's like in your hotel but at the Junkyard we're a family, you hurt one you hurt all of us. I'd wager that despite everything that has happened the majority of them will still stand up for Jerrie if they had to. I know I'd be here in a shot. We've all done things we're ashamed of, some more than others. Jerrie's proved his worth a hundred times over in my eyes. Shame I'm not the tribe leader or things would have turned out differently." Another smile was let loose. "Now that one was a threat." And with that Tugger turned and strutted home.
A week passed. Tugger kept his word and kept his mouth shut. He was lounging on the car boot watching Tumblebrutus, Admetus, Etcetera and Gus play a half hearted game of tag, well the toms were half hearted but Etcetera never did anything by halves. Electra and Jemima were watching from the sidelines, neither of them really felt like playing.
Rumpleteazer walked, or waddled into the Junkyard. She knew this would be her last trip to the junkyard before the kitten was born. She and Mungojerrie had decided she would have the kitten at the Hotel. Didi would be there if, Everlasting Cat forbid, anything went wrong. They trusted Didi over any human vet and as much as they loved them they didn't really want their humans involved. Teazer would be at the Hotel now if she could, but she knew Jellylorum and Jennyanydots had been fretting over where she was spending her days and would never let her live it down if they didn't give her at least one last check over.
"Now really Rumpleteazer, we would much prefer you to stay here to have the kitten. Don't you trust us?" Jellylorum was arranging her pillows so Teazer would have somewhere comfy to lie for the examination.
"Course oi trust yer Jelly. But oi wan' my Jerrie wit me. You an oi both know Cassie and Lonzo would skin 'im before 'e got 'alf way across the yard. 'an oi don' really loike tha looks they've bin givin' me if oi'm 'onest wit yer. Oi'll be foine. Do yer really think Jer would let me come to 'ny 'arm?"
"We know he wouldn't. I wish you would at least tell us where you've been going. It really would put our minds at rest if nothing else." Teazer very ungracefully sat on the cushions.
"You know oi ain't gonna tell yer that Jelly." She spat out her tongue at the older queen before bursting into a trademark giggle. Jellylorum tutted.
"And to think you're about to become a mother, such manners." Jelly also let out a small giggle before proceeding with the examination. Jennyanydots walked in just as Jelly was done.
"How is our cheekiest patient then Jelly?"
"She's fine…" Before Jellylorum could finish her sentence Rumpleteazer shot into a sitting position.
"Ow. Jez kit, theres no need fer that now is there" Another pain shot through Rumpleteazer. Jenny was instantly at her side while Jelly went straight into doctor mode.
"Rumpleteazer, what's wrong?"
"Oi dunno, something 'urts." This time she let out a small scream. "Should it be doin' tha? What's goin' on?" Jenny looked to Jelly for confirmation, which she gave with a small nod.
"Rumple dear, it looks like your kitten wants out. You're in labour." Rumpleazer screamed again before looking at Jenny, eyes full of fear.
"Bu' oi thought oi 'ad another week. This isn't roight. Oi need to go, oi need my Jerrie." She tried to stand up but expert paws held her gently down.
"It's going to be ok. Me and Jelly have delivered more kittens into the world than we care to remember."
"Oi don' care. Oi need my Jerrie! 'E promised 'e'd be there! Oi can't do it without him!" Another attempt to stand up was halted by another labour pain. "Please, someone get 'im. Oi need my Jerrie." Jenny comforted Rumpleteazer the best she could as the young queen started to cry. Meanwhile Jellylorum was getting everything in place that they would need. Jenny was always better at the comforting side of things. Jellylorum could be comforting but since her uncle, Gus, has died she found it a bit harder to do. She had put all her emotions into looking after him and loved him more than a father. She always felt a part of her died when Gus went to the Heavyside Lair.
Rumpleteazer jumped with another pain, this one leading to a bigger scream. A few Jellicle's looked in, curious as to what the commotion was. When they realised what was going on the word spread across the junkyard like wild fire until it reached the Rum Tum Tugger. As Etcetera excitedly announced the news to him Tugger heard Rumpleteazer scream, even louder if that was at all possible. But this scream was for her mate. She screamed him name with more passion than anyone thought possible. Tugger leapt of the trunk and dashed to Jellylorum's lair. He pushed his way through a small crowd and saw Rumpleteazer desperately trying to get up and crying out. She was hysterical at the thought of giving birth without Mungojerrie there and it was making it very hard for Jenny and Jelly to do their jobs. This wasn't even the hard part. Tugger crouched in front of Rumpleteazer and tried to make eye contact.
"Teazer, Teazer, Rumpleteazer! Look at me." Watery eyes locked on his. "It's going to be ok. I'm going to get Mungojerrie. He wouldn't miss this for anything."
"'E's not at 'ome."
"I know Teaz, I know where he is. I'll get him." He held her paw in an effort to comfort her. "Trust me."
"You can't seriously be suggesting bringing him here?" said Cassandra sharply from the door way. Tugger's head shot round to face her.
"Right now Rumpleteazer needs her mate. She's about to give birth. Despite everything I think he has a right to be here for that, don't you?" Cassandra said nothing and stormed away. Tugger turned back to Rumpleteazer. "Think you can hold on for a bit? I'll run as fast as I can." He winked at her out of habit more than anything else and ran for the exit.
At the hotel Mungojerrie was sitting on the padded bench top and watching daily life in the tribe. Didi had just finished checking up on Pouncival, who everyone knew was better now, and was going back to her area behind the counter to rest. Eclipse and Pouncival were now sharing a quiet shy conversation and edging closer to each other as it went on. Ellipsis was sitting a way away watching them with a pout on his face. Eclipse and Pouncival were the only ones in the tribe close to his age and they were only interested in each other. He was very bored. Breeze was flirting with a new queen which was annoying Candi immensely. Mana and Darkness were sitting in the window keeping watch as normal. Had Mungojerrie been looking at them at that exact moment instead of at Candi who was about to throw a world class hissy fit, he would have noticed Darkness sit up to attention before Mana placed a paw on his knee. A few seconds later a large maine coon came crashing through the Hotels door way, pausing briefly to get his bearings before bounding over to Mungojerrie. A few of the Jellicle's got ready to attack the intruder but Mana sent a psychic message to everyone telling them to stand down. Mungojerrie jumped up as he realised who the intruder was.
"Tugger! What the Everlastin' Cat are yer doing 'ere?" Tugger took two large gulps of air. He hadn't stopped running since he left the Junkyard.
"Jerrie, no time for chat. Teazer's in labour at the yard…" He had barley finished his sentence before Mungojerrie had leapt off the padded bench was already half way across the Hotel floor. Tugger took a few more deep breaths before setting off after him.
Back the yard Rumpleteazer had calmed down briefly but more labour pains had set her off again.
"Where is 'e, can yer see 'im?" She cried out to Demeter who was standing in the door way holding her kittens paw.
"Not yet Rumple. Don't worry he'll be here. Tugger always keeps his word."
After what felt like an eternity to Rumpleteazer she heard a commotion outside. There was hissing coming from Cassandra and Alonzo. If she could have looked outside she would have seen Munkustrap and Bombalurina firmly holding the two Jellicle's in place. Mungojerrie passed them without even a first glance. His eyes were firmly set in the direction of his mate. As far as Jerrie was concerned there was no-one else there. He burst into Jellylorum's lair and pulled Rumpleteazer into a desperate hug.
"Jerrie, thank 'evans' yer here. Oi can' do this without yer." Tears continued to pour down Rumpleteazer checks.
"As if oi'd let yer. Oi promised yer oi'd be 'ere, 'ave oi ever let yer down?" Before she could answer she had a contraction. With her mate there Rumpleteazer was a lot calmer, allowing Jellylorum and Jennyanydots to get on and help bring another kitten into the world.
Outside Tugger was sitting on a box and catching his breath. He was a fit tom but that was quite possibly the longest and fastest run he had ever had to do. Demeter stayed in front of the door way. Partly to keep prying eyes out but mostly to ensure Alonzo and Cassandra didn't do anything stupid. She couldn't even begin to imagine what was going though their minds, knowing their loved ones were murdered and then discovering they had been sharing a yard with the one who had done it. She knew they wouldn't risk hurting her or her kitten to get to Mungojerrie. Still holding onto Alonzo, Munkustrap turned to Tugger.
"How did you know where Mungojerrie was Tugger?"
"I can't tell you Munkus, I made a promise."
"Did he go crawling back to Macavity?" Tugger had never heard Alonzo speak with such venom, he all but spat at Macavity's name.
"No Alonzo. I can promise you he hasn't gone back to Macavity. But I can't tell you anymore. You can ask all you want but I won't say." Munkustrap wasn't impressed.
"Sorry Munkus. Just trust me. I get the feeling it will all be revealed eventually but now isn't the time, and I'm certainly not the Jellicle to do it."
"You're impossible Tugger." Said Bombalurina.
"As if you'd have me any other way babe."
Hours passed and most of the Jellicle's got bored and wondered off. Cassandra has stormed off to her human home declaring she wouldn't set foot in the Junkyard until Mungojerrie was gone. Alonzo had also gone. He didn't have a human home to go to but he couldn't stay in the yard. By now only Munkustrap, Demeter and the Rum Tum Tugger remained. They'd heard plenty of screams coming from inside, and not all from Rumpleteazer. It sounded like she was getting a bit of revenge on Mungojerrie by making him suffer almost as much as she was. Eventually they heard the cry of a new born kitten. Jennyanydots popped her head out of the door way to announce that it was a tom. After a few minutes they were allowed in to see the newborn.
"'E's called Razi. Moi son, Razi." Mungojerrie was beaming more than usual. He has an arm around an exhausted looking Rumpleteazer. She showed them the tiny tiger tom. His markings were the spitting image of his parents except for a large black mark over his right eye which flowed through from his mane.
"It took a while, but he's perfectly healthy." Jellylorum stroked the kittens head briefly. "Could you keep the visit short, Rumpleteazer needs her rest." Jenny and Jelly set about cleaning up.
"He's beautiful. Well done Rumpleteazer." Demeter smiled at the queen; she knew exactly what Teazer had been through today. She looked down at her own kitten who was sleeping peacefully in her ams. "I should get this one to bed. Congratulations." Demeter left after giving Munkustrap a kiss on the cheek. Munkustrap was next to speak.
"Congratulations you two. Mungojerrie, could I have a quick word?" Jerrie reluctantly left Teazer's side, but not before giving her a kiss. They stepped outside leaving Rumpleteazer thanking Tugger while he fussed over Razi.
"Mungojerrie, I know this is awful timing but I need to make it clear you can't stay here long. You can stay until Rumpleteazer is ready to go home but can I ask you stay inside. The feelings among the tribe towards you are mixed and I don't want there to be any incidents. Do you understand?"
"Oi get yer Munkus. Oi don' want ter cause any trouble. Oi'll be gone before you know it." Jerrie sighed. "It nice ter be back tho. The smells, the feelin's, it feels…loike home." He looked towards the tire and the clearing, memories flooding over him. "Oh well, oi'll jus' 'ave to make a new home fer me family."
"I don't suppose you want to tell me where this new home is?"
"Not a chance mate. Now if yer'll excuse me, oi've got a son to fuss over." The grin returned and Jerrie all but skipped back to Rumpleteazer.
A week later Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer and Razi were back at the hotel. Jellylorum and Jennyanydots wanted Rumpleteazer to stay longer in the yard but she could tell Mungojerrie was feeling uneasy and wanted to leave.
Razi was already popular with the Jellicle's at the hotel. It amazed Mungojerrie that a tiny kitten could cause even the biggest toms to slip into baby talk.
They hadn't taken Razi home to the humans yet, and Mungojerrie knew they were worried. But they would have to wait.
Another week or so went by and Razi was trying to stand up on all fours, but he wasn't having much luck.
"Oi think 'e's inherited yer grace Jer." Rumpleteazer giggled gently as Razi fell down again. Razi smiled at his parents. They were on the padded bench top so he wouldn't hurt himself.
"'E'll get there." Razi fell again but didn't like it this time. Mungojerrie could see tears welling up in the tiny eyes so he picked Razi up and held him close. Rumpleteazer stroked the kittens back.
At that moment The Rum Tum Tugger walked into the hotel. He headed straight over to the family. Out of the corner of her eye Rumpleteazer saw Pouncival quickly hide.
"How's my favourite family doing? Don't worry I've come alone, your secret's still safe with me." Tugger sat down on the edge of bench top.
"We're doin' perfect Tugger. We were 'oping to see you again soon." Rumpleteazer looked at Mungojerrie before carrying on. "We've got sumthin' we wanna ask yer. Oi dunno 'ow well yer know human religion, but in one of em they have sumthin' called a god parent. It's sumone who the parent's trust ter be there for the kit, sumone to look after the kit if 'nythin' 'appens to em. There isn' a Jellicle version but we're creatin' it and we'd loike yer to be it." Tugger was speechless, for once. Mungojerrie continued.
"Yer came and get me so oi could be there for Teazer even tho you didn' need to. You've always been a good friend to me and Teazer, even wit everythin that's gone on." It took a few moments for Tugger to talk.
"I'm honoured; I can't believe you trust me enough for this." Tugger very discreetly held back some tears, he has a reputation to up hold after all, and tears were not part of the Tugger persona. "I've love to be god parent to Razi. I'll be the coolest god parent this world has ever seen. Can I hold him?" Mungojerrie nodded and passed the kitten to Tugger. "It's you and me kid, whatcha say when you're older I teach you a few tricks of the trade?" Razi looked at Tugger wonderment that can only come from a child. And in reply to Tugger question he grabbed a chunk of Tugger mane and pulled as hard as his kitten arms could. Tugger yelped in pain, but to his credit didn't drop Razi. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer on the other hand fell on each other laughing.