Everybody is somebody else's baby. The older one always tried to comb his fur or clip his nails, but the girl always shooed her away, leaving the tangles alone

"He's perfect just the way he is," she told her mother, placing the dish on the tile for him. "Cats do as they please, so leave him be." This girl was the only reason he came back to this house, aside from the free food and the warmth in the winter. This girl treated him as a cat should be treated, with dignity and free reign. When he wasn't making mischief, he curled up in the crook of her leg as she read. She would stroke him occasionally and kiss the top of his head when she got up. She was proper and let him be himself in return for the love he occasionally gave her.

He did not like to come back to the house after a fight, because he knew it would upset her. He would return a day later, his cuts fresh healed and she would worry momentarily on the newest scratch before saying with pride, "My boy is a brawler."

The mother had scoffed, muttering something about diseases, but the girl gave him a beaming a smile and he purred to show his love of her. On the street, he was foul tempered and mean, but for this girl, he played housecat.

She snuck him into her room one night, violation of her mother's strict rules. "It's too cold. You can't stay in the kitchen," she rationalized to him, but he didn't care. In her room, he curled up next to her head, nudging her with a paw as she slept. He could have taken one of the shiny chains she never wore or made off with several of the coins on her dresser, but he didn't because she was so dear to him.

One night, he was careless. He had won the fight, but come away with a nick in his ear, a gouge in his shoulder, and a slice under his eye. He wanted to slink under the couch and take care of himself there, but the girl saw him as he entered the house. Her face sank and she snatched him up before he could dash away.

"Who did this to you?" She asked, knowing she wouldn't get an answer as she cradled him to her chest. He wanted to lash out, slash her arm to drop him, but he could only bring himself to squirm.

"This might hurt, but I'm going to fix you," she told him, locking them both in her bathroom. He was not one to be petted and tended, so he yowled, striking out when she didn't have him pinned to her chest. She wiped away the blood, patting on gobs of salve, all the while muttering sweet reassurances and keeping the sadness from her voice.

That was what threw him, the tears he saw when she loosed him from her arms and began tending her own scratches. Little dotted lines of crimson streaked her forearms and hands and he felt almost sad that he had to do that to her.

She opened the bathroom door and he bolted, hiding as her mother threatened to skin him if he ever scratched the girl again.

That night, she left the door to her room ajar and when he climbed onto the bed, she smiled lovingly. "Come here, baby," she said as he took his place on her pillow. He could stand being somebody's baby, as long as he was still a terror to the Jellicles. He could stand being 'Billy', as long as he was still Macavity.