THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Author's Note: Just a quick short story about parenthood and the consequences. Based on my short story 'A Christmas Surprise'. Sort of a what if tale.

"Waaah!" Came a plaintive cry.

"Ulysses!" An exhausted voice slurred poking at her bed companion.

"Uhhh..." Came an inarticulate response.

"Ulysses!" She hissed stabbing him harder in the side with an index finger.

He groaned, "What?"

"Your turn!" She told him groggily.

He lay there a moment longer trying to get his bearings. A persistent cry pierced the air and he groaned again. Shoving the blankets aside he swung his legs out but couldn't seem to stand. As the cry became more strident, a moan beside him made him blink more alert.

"He will only get so upset he won't eat, Uly." She said heavily

"Uh huh, I know." He said tirededly finally rising to his feet and shuffling out of the room and down the hall where the twins were.

The noise was ear piercing and had been joined by the previously sleeping twin. The din was now in stereo and their poor father was wincing painfully from the assault to his ears.

Picking twin number one up, he absently patted its back and made soothing sounds, it quieted a little but was still upset. Reaching over he slipped a paw under the second twin and brought it to his chest as well. Bouncing and swaying with both kittens, he shuffled over to the extra wide changing table and laid them both down.

Humming to them he sleepily changed their diapers then picked them both up again he made his way back to his bedroom. Leaning down carefully, he laid the more upset of the twins beside their mother. Barely awake she mechanically placed the kitten to her breast. After a few more cries of distress it finally latched on and quieted.

He was still holding the other twin and was nearly asleep on his feet when she asked for it. Jerking awake, he leaned down and laid the second twin on her other side. Soon there was blissful silence as both twins nursed.

Yawning hugely he made his way back to his side of the bed and climbed in. Sleep rolled over him in seconds. Only three hours later, his alarm was shrilling him awake. When he'd been single he always woke before the alarm but since the twins birth he was so tired he would throw the alarm across the room and sleep another two hours. It was becoming a running joke behind their Commander's back that he was literally sleep walking when he came into work each morning. They just shook their heads and made an extra effort to protect him since he just wasn't as alert as he should have been.

At times, though, the Commander's chronic sleepiness wasn't amusing. A recent incident brought that home very quickly. Turmoil had blown into town again after having been broken out of jail a few months back.

Battle over the ocean...midday...

"Crud! How did she manage to scrap together another squadron let alone another air ship?" T-Bone snarled as he avoided getting creamed by a laser cannon on the air ship.

"She's obviously got resources somewhere, buddy. Look out, incoming at three o'clock." Razor warned sharply as he fired an array of matchhead missiles at them.

He took out five of the slim jets just as a squadron of enforcer jets reached the scene. Feral had his squadron spread out and go hunting. He aimed for his own target but missed. He had to veer sharply and nearly clipped another one of his own jets.

"Huh! Feral is really flying badly, buddy. He shouldn't be in the air at all." T-Bone growled as he got into position for Razor to take out some more targets.

"You got that right! Let's leave these for the enforcers and knock Turmoil's ship down or we're going to be up here a long time." Razor ordered.

"Right!"T-Bone grunted in agreement sending the Turbokat into a steep dive toward the air ship. He pulled up sharply on the yoke sending the jet screaming across the flight line.

Razor strafed the gun mounts, radio antenna, and laser cannon disabling them. Weaponless except for the few jets left in the sky, Turmoil tried to vamoose. T-Bone swung around to its jet ports and Razor administered the coup de grace by blocking the exhausts with cement. The huge air ship flamed out and headed for the ocean yet again. This time Turmoil didn't even have time to try an escape.

Checking around the airspace near them as they watched the air ship land in the water with a huge swoosh, they saw Turmoil's jets trying to escape. The enforcers were not doing such a great job of stopping them except for one, which they guessed must be Felina. The SWAT Kats gave them a hand and managed to head off the runners and bring them down.

"Thanks a lot guys, we can handle the rest." Came the relieved voice of Lt. Feral.

"You're welcome." T-Bone said to her then called out, "Hey, Commander! Get out of the air and get some sleep for crying out loud. You're a menace in the air."

"Mind your own business, SWAT Kats!" Snarled a peeved Commander.

"Hey! It is our business when you are a threat to your own enforcers! Stay out of the fight zones until you can keep your head about you. Callie wouldn't be happy to lose her husband because he's too stubborn to admit he's not up to snuff." T-Bone growled warningly.

An angry growl was there only response over the comm. T-Bone snorted and shut off the radio.

"Man! He is really stupid right now!" He grumbled as he turned the jet toward home.

"Well exhaustion will do that to you." Razor said equally annoyed with the Commander.

"I don't care about him so much, it's those little kittens and Callie that matter." T-Bone said. "Losing Feral would devastate her."

"Yeah I know buddy." Razor agreed quietly. The cockpit went silent after that.

Back over the crash site of the air ship...

"They are right Uncle." Felina said tightly on a private frequency to the Commander.

"I don't need your two cents right now Felina." Feral groused, smarting from the tongue lashing he knew he deserved from the SWAT Kats. They were the last kats he wanted to have calling him on his less than stellar performance.

Felina wisely stayed silent and surreptitiously handled the cleanup of the scene and the arrest of Turmoil and her crew. After ensuring things were well in hand, Feral returned to base.

Enforcer Headquarters...

It was sometime later, as he was taking care of other reports on his desk that his phone rang.

"Feral!" He barked.

"I just heard some disturbing news!" Came the voice of his wife. "I don't need you dead Ulysses. Put your second in charge and get home now!" She barked angrily. "You need sleep and you are going to stay in bed until you get it!"

"But, love...you need help with the twins at night...how are you going to get any sleep? You're tireder than me!" He tried to placate her.

"I've already asked for help from my cousin. She will be here in an hour. Then we both will get some sleep. I will not have you risking your life because you can't keep yourself alert. Now come home!" She snapped.

"But, Callie...!" He tried to object but the phone just buzzed in his ear. She had hung up. She was really bitchy right now and he couldn't blame her. They were snapping at each other from severe lack of sleep. Who knew kittens could wreck so much havoc when they were barely a week old. Sighing wearily, he called in his second in command and signed out for the day.

As he drove home he remembered how it had been before the kitten's birth. It was over two years from that fateful Christmas Party and he and Callie had explored their gradually deepening attraction to each other. They had soon fallen in love and couldn't seem to keep their paws off each other.

He particularly remembered the times they would grab a quickie in her office, his office, and in his car one evening after taking in a show as well as other strange places. It was heavenly. Then came his proposal and not too soon after the birth of his twin sons. Life was truly good. They just had to get over this period of kitten rearing that was said to be the most trying time of a new parent's life.

He sighed and stifled a yawn, that wouldn't happen to soon for him but he didn't regret a moment of lost sleep. His twin sons were the greatest Christmas present next to his beloved wife he'd ever received. In a happier frame of mind he arrived home.