LOVE IS WORTH A FEW POTHOLES

Author's Note: A little sequel to Trembling on the Edge of Sanity. Warning: Homo relationship but no sex.

His sleep was disturbed by a sound he'd heard far too often now some two years since they had become mates.

A mewing whimper was coming from the other side of the bed. Chance sat up quickly and turned on his light.

His mate's back was to him but he could see it trembling and the sound of mewing came and went with his near frantic panting.

Frightened, Chance got off the bed and went around to kneel before his mate's face. Ulysses was sweating, his eyes closed tight, and, as he watched, the dark tom licked his lips then mewed in distress. The tiger tom reached out and brushed his mate's forehead.

"Crud! You're burning up! Uly can you hear me, love?" He asked, shaking his mate gently by the shoulder.

Ulysses did not acknowledge him or open his eyes.

Gritting his teeth in tension, Chance jumped up and went to his phone and communicator on the dresser. He engaged the communicator first.

"Razor!" He barked tightly.

It took only moments before his partner answered. "What's wrong, T-Bone?" He asked in concern, since it was four in the morning.

"Uly's ill. Get here on the double!"

"Crud! Roger be there in ten." Razor said without hesitation and broke the connection.

Chance picked up his cell phone and speed dialed Dr. Fresco.

It took a bit longer for the doctor to pick up and his voice, when he answered, was thick with sleep.

"Yes, who's calling?"

"Doc, its T-Bone. Ulysses is running a high fever and isn't responding to me at all. He's sweating and mewing in distress. His eyes are shut tight as well and he's panting.

There was a sigh on the other end of the line. This was becoming an all too familiar scenario.

"I'll meet you at the hospital T-Bone." He said without further comment.

"Roger!" Chance said then closed his phone.

He quickly went to get dressed as T-Bone then got a sheet from the closet and got it wet. Going back to the bed he pulled the bedding off Ulysses then draped the wet sheet over him. The tom didn't startle which wasn't a good sign.

Once his mate was wrapped in the sheet, Chance wrapped a blanket around Uly for transport.

He heard a sound in the living area and headed toward it. Razor was coming in the back door of their hidden home in the mountains, rolling a gurney behind him. They had invested in one after making far too many of these trips.

T-Bone helped him take it to the bedroom and with practiced skill they loaded the very ill tom on it, cinched the belts securely in place, then wheeled him out to the waiting Turbokat.

They rolled the gurney up the ramp and into the cargo hold, latching it into the special cleats in the floor to keep it in one place. T-Bone flipped a jump seat down and belted himself in. As usual, Razor would pilot the jet to the hospital.

Within minutes they were airborne. T-Bone reached out a paw to his sick mate.

"Aw Uly, I wish this would stop happening. I'm so worried that you might not make it through one of these bacterial attacks and then where would I be without you?" He asked softly, caressing his unresponsive mate's sweating face.

Over the past year, Ulysses had begun suffering from bacterial attacks more and more frequently. Dr. Fresco suspected the Commander's immune system had not recovered fully from the deprivation Dark Kat had visited on him two years ago.

For a while, it seemed he was okay, except for the occasional nightmare and claustrophobia in enclosed spaces but then he began to get sick and it was never anything as mild as a cold.

The bacterial assault was always something different but the symptoms were distressingly similar and would strike with no warnings.....like now. He'd been fine throughout the day and evening then......bang.......he'd fall ill with a high fever and pain.....unresponsive.......then his lungs would become fluid filled threatening his life. The only reason he survived over and over again, was the quick response of his mate and the doctors.

Still it caused T-Bone fear and heart-rending anguish to see his mate this way time after time. It was growing more worrisome as time passed and the frequency of the attacks rose. The doctors were at a loss as to how they could break the cycle.

His ruminations ended when he felt the jet land. The cargo door began to open as he released his restraints. Releasing the gurney from the floor cleats, he began to roll it forward as the medical staff arrived. They took it and rushed off to the trauma bay with T-Bone in their wake.

No one questioned why the SWAT Kats were transporting the ill Commander. It had happened several times this year, so the novelty had worn off and they'd already learned the vigilantes nor Feral's doctor would answer any questions about what was going on so they just did their job.

Wild conjecture always swirled around the ER after one of these emergency arrivals of Feral, from secret missions with the SWAT Kats being involved, to some illicit arrangement going on, to a relationship between the brawny SWAT Kat and the Commander. None knew the last rumor was the correct one and no one was going to enlighten them any time soon.

Feral was immediately put on oxygen and a chem panel was done to identify what bacterium had come calling this time. The drill was a familiar one, unfortunately, so time wasn't lost in asking questions. Feral would come in suffering severe sepsis and fever and hovering nearby would be the SWAT Kat, watching their every move.

Some ten minutes after Feral had arrived at the hospital, Dr. Fresco swept in and took over. By now, he had the specialist he needed on speed dial and as soon as he knew what specific symptoms he was seeing and the results of the chem panel, he would contact him and get some ideas on treatment and prayed that he could once more pull the Commander through.

An hour later, T-Bone was in his familiar place in ICU. The nurses and doctors were used to seeing him hovering in a corner near the gurney but they never caught him touching the Commander so could never figure out why the big SWAT Kat was staying close to someone who was supposed to be his antagonist.

Ulysses was hooked up to all kinds of medical monitoring gear, IVs, cooling pad, and an oxygen tent.

T-Bone rubbed his face tirededly. Dawn's light was peeking through the window beside him. He stared at it for some minutes before returning his attention back to his sick mate. He was so very tired of this place. He'd always hated hospitals. He and Ulysses were of the same mind on that subject. Even more so after having to be here for Feral's long recovery two years earlier.

Razor had already left and promised to contact Feral's Sergeant later in the morning, giving him a heads up the Commander was once more hospitalized and that Steele was in charge.

'Oh yeah, Fallon's really going to like that.' T-Bone sighed mentally. 'Steele is becoming a real problem. Every time he's in charge he manages to make such a mess that Uly is buried for days trying to correct it. I wish someone would shoot that idiot.'

A moan from the bed caught his attention. He leaned over and touched his mate's shoulder.

Feral shifted uneasily and mewed in distress.

"Shuuu, love.....it's okay!" T-Bone murmured softly. In some fashion, Uly sensed him near and sighed, relaxing a little though his breathing wasn't sounding any better. Unshed tears burned his eyes as the tabby stood in worried silence.

Morning brought Dr. Fresco and an emergency team as Feral struggled to breath and his monitors screamed a warning of imminent heart failure. Keeping himself pressed in a corner, out of the way, T-Bone watched, his heart pounding in fear.

"Chest tube!" Dr. Fresco barked as he preped the tom's right side. A nurse slapped a large piece of tubing into his paw which the doctor began to press firmly into the small incision he'd made in the right side of the gasping tom.

A large bottle was sitting on the floor attached to the tube the doctor inserted and within seconds of being shoved into Uly's side a rush of blood and fluid poured into the bottle and immediately, the sick tom gave a sigh of relief as he was able to take a breath without pain and his blood pressure dropped to near normal levels.

The tabby tom sighed in relief. Uly was out of danger again. Dr. Fresco had heard him and glanced over, offering a wane smile of sympathy.

"He should be alright now. I'm going to leave this in for a couple of hours just in case." He said quietly. He gave instructions to the floor nurse and dismissed the team, they left the pair alone with the now more relaxed patient.

"I wish we could put a stop to these constant attacks. I've sent his history to some of the top specialists on immune system problems around the world and I'm just waiting for their answers. I pray one of them will have some advice for us on how to aid Feral or boost his immune system making him less prone to these constant invasions." He said quietly.

"I hope it's soon. I don't know how many more of these attacks he can win before one of them kills him." T-Bone said heavily.

"Yes, that's my concern as well." Dr. Fresco said sadly.

The next twenty-four hours were harrowing. Feral's organs nearly gave up by the end of the first twelve hours but he rallied by nine that night. Some time past midnight he was finally resting more quietly.

T-Bone was exhausted and allowed his partner to force him to go home while the smaller of the SWAT Kats kept watch now that Feral was once more out of danger.

One year earlier.............

In the BioTech Labs of Enforcer Headquarters, a scientist named Bothwold went to his superior's office in excitement.

"Dr. Konway, sir!"

"Yes, Keven? My word, what's got you so excited." Dr. Konway asked, frowning as he raised his head from a report he was reading.

"I've cracked the code on that strange genetic material we got from Dr. Viper's last attempt to take over the city." The young tom said.

"Really, that's good news. What have you found out?" Konway asked.

"Well sir, ....." Bothwold began, technical jargon spilling out in rapid fire fashion which, fortunately, Konway understood easily.

"That is excellent news. Begin testing this premise in mice immediately. There are many who's very lives could be saved if this works." He said with guarded optimism.

Young Bothwold beamed with pleasure at the compliment and at winning the responsibility to proceed with the delicate and tedious task of testing his theory that this genetic material might help those with compromised immune systems be made strong again.

Present day.................

"Ah, Keven, how goes your research on your Immune System Strengthening Genetics Project." Dr. Konway asked the young scientist some days after Feral had returned to work from his most recent hospitalization.

"Oh, Good morning, Dr. Konway, sir. I was just putting the finishing touches on my final report." Bothwold told him.

"That's good news. Why don't you give me the most important point of your report, if you please." Konway asked quietly.

"It works! The tests on the mice showed the group injected with the material had their immune systems boasted over 94.6% over the mice that didn't receive the genetic improvement. We had the mice subjected to several rather nasty virus and bacterial infections and the injected group either didn't get ill or were very mildly affected while the group not injected had a fifty percent mortality rate." Bothwold said proudly.

Konway smiled widely at his young colleague. "That is very good news. Finish writing up your report and I'll have you present it to the Medical Research Group and see if testing Kat volunteers can be started." He told Bothwold.

The young scientist beamed and nodded quickly and went back to polishing his report.

Smiling warmly, Konway made his way back to his office. He sat down behind his desk and contemplated the phone. 'Should he call him or wait until the report officially came out?' He wondered. 'There is no doubt the one I'm thinking of could use this now but I can't take the accolades of such an important discovery from Keven.' He sat back and frowned. Staring out the window he wrestled with his conscious then came to a decision. 'I'll wait and hope Feral stays well long enough to allow this report to be presented.' He sighed and went back to the work on his desk.

For a little while, it looked like Konway might get his wish. Bothwold's report was to be presented to the Medical Research Group the next day and so far Feral was still well, unfortunately things in Megakat City never go the way one wishes.

Feral was working in his office trying to undo the mess Steele had succeeded in making of his files. He couldn't see how the idiot could make such a snarl of things when he'd only been in charge barely a week.

Sighing in disgust, he dug in and glanced at his watch. It was already after eleven o'clock and he hadn't made much of a dent in his work. It certainly didn't help that his head was beginning to pound.

He froze as that thought completed itself. He raised his head and looked around which just increased the pain in his head. His heart jumped as he realized he was ill again.

"Kat's Alive! Not again!" He groaned, fumbling for his phone and missing as his eyes blurred. He raised his paws to his head and rubbed his temples hard but it brought no relief.

Sergeant Fallon strode briskly out of the elevator and headed for the Commander's Office. He had another stack of reports for his superior to deal with. He wished he could handle them himself since it worried him to see the dark tom so overwhelmed with work when he'd just returned to duty.

Feral's constant illnesses worried him. It was causing problems with morale among the troops as they became concerned about losing the Commander they all respected and admired. It wasn't lost on anyone that Feral was fighting a losing battle and no one wanted his replacement again. Once had been enough. They had nearly revolted when Steele had been in charge for nearly a year while the Commander recovered his mind.

Shaking off his gloomy thoughts, Sgt Fallon pushed opened the huge doors to Feral's office and felt his heart slam in his chest.

Commander Feral was moaning and rubbing his head. He looked bad. Rushing up to the dark tom's desk, dropping the reports on one end, Sgt Fallon gently touched Feral's shoulder.

"Sir? Are you ill?" He asked anxiously.

Feral heard a voice that sent knives through his brain and caused him to mew in pain. "Ohhhh, don't shout! Gods! My head hurts!" He gritted out through clenched teeth.

Sick at heart, Sgt Fallon reached for the Commander's phone and quickly summoned medical assistance then he went to Feral's great coat hanging near the door. Rummaging into the pockets, he came up with the communicator he was far too familiar with.

He flicked it open and waited. "T-Bone here!" A gravely voice said sharply.

"He's sick again. Severe headache. I've summoned medical help." Fallon said briefly.

A groan of anguish came through the tiny speaker causing Sgt Fallon a pang of sympathy for the tabby tom.

"Thanks, I'll contact Dr. Fresco and meet him at the hospital. Don't let them delay getting him to Megakat Trauma." T-Bone growled bitterly.

"I won't, don't worry." Sgt Fallon said quietly then he heard the connection break. Sighing he put the device back in the pocket he'd found it and returned to the Commander's side.

History repeated itself as Feral was packaged up, rolled rapidly through the pilot prep area and out to the waiting troop copter and being rushed to Megakat Trauma.

It was more than two hours before Dr. Konway heard about the Commander's relapse. A grim look crossed his face. He got up from his desk and went to see young Bothwold.

Bothwold saw his superior approaching his work area and was surprised to see a look of concern on the Kat's face.

"Keven. I need to ask a favor of you." Konway said, seriously.

"Of course, sir." Bothwold said earnestly.

"I know your research is to be presented tomorrow but there is someone who needs it now. If his doctor agrees, your breakthrough treatment would be used on its first Kat subject. I wanted to ask if I can call this person's doctor and see if it will be allowed. This patient has suffered much in his life and now unremitting infections have weakened him so much that he could die from the next attack easily. I want to give him a chance to survive. What do you say?" Konway asked carefully.

Bothwold looked at his chief in surprise. "Who is it sir?" He asked while he thought about what he was being asked.

Konway shook his head. "I don't want this to influence you in anyway. This is your moment and I have no intention of taking it from you. It must be your decision without any undue pressure from others." He insisted.

Bothwold blinked. 'Who the heck could it be?' He wondered. 'It's just like Dr. Konway to think of his people first. He would never have asked if it wasn't important yet he was still leaving the choice up to me.' He was silent for several more minutes but really, there wasn't any other choice, at least to his mind. "Go ahead, sir. I give you permission. If it works, that will only reinforce the effectiveness of my research." Bothwold said firmly.

Konway smiled wanly and clapped the young tom on the back. "Thank you. Now I only hope it does indeed work like your research says because I'm afraid this may be this Kat's last option."

"I hope it does too, sir." Bothwold said, honestly.

Konway returned to his office and closed the door. He sat down and made a call to Dr. Fresco.

At the hospital, Feral was writhing in agony. Needles of pain shot through his head, he was panting and his eyes were closed tight. He endured needles in his arms again for IVs, tests and pain relief meds.

It was over three hours later when he was able to open his eyes again without agony blinding him and saw his mate leaning over him. Exhausted emotionally, he reached up wordlessly for T-Bone.

The tabby instantly came close and slid his arms around his mate who buried himself in the brawny Kat's chest.

"I'm so tired of this! Hold me tight, love, please!" He begged softly.

"I'm here, Uly......I'm here!" T-Bone said, his voice tight with emotion. He hugged the dark tom tightly and nuzzled his neck, rubbing the tired back gently.

A soft voice interrupted them. "Your pardon, but I'm glad you're awake because I may have a possible chance to top these attacks on your body." Dr. Fresco said in a rush.

T-Bone and Feral pulled away enough to stare at him in nervous hope.

"What?" They said in unison.

"Just listen and I'll explain." Dr. Fresco said then told them of the unique and experimental research that was just being released for testing on Kats. "I must stress that it is experimental but the preliminary test results look good. I had others in the field go over it as well and everyone is cautiously optimistic about its results. It was suggested that you be offered the chance to try this but you are under no obligation to take the risk." He said firmly then went silent.

"I......I'm not sure. It sounds too good to be true." Feral said hesitantly. He didn't like the idea of being a guinea pig but if it worked? He didn't know what to do.

"Can we talk about it doc?" T-Bone spoke up.

"Of course. Just give me a call." Dr. Fresco said understandingly then turned and left them alone.

Feral looked into his mate's face. "I hate being sick but I also don't like being injected with something no one knows is safe for Kats yet." He said worriedly.

"I don't want to lose you but I don't like this too much either." T-Bone said softly. "However, I also know I can't bear to see you ill any longer and it would kill me if you died.....and love...you're getting so close to that." He murmured painfully.

The dark tom buried his head in the tabby's arms and went silent. T-Bone said nothing, just offered his support and let Uly work through this on his own.

Finally, Feral raised his head and sighed. "I don't like being ill so much either and I don't want to die so let's jump headlong again as we always do." He said with a wane attempt at smile.

T-Bone hugged him tightly. "Alright....I'll be here through it all and praying hard that it works." He said, his voice tight with hope and worry.

Less than an hour later, the two watched as Uly was injected with the experimental drug. The young scientist was on hand to take notes and advise the doctors about what they should see.

Bothwold had been shocked that the first patient to be the subject of his research would be his own Commander. He had swallowed and screwed up his courage so that he wouldn't disgrace himself by fainting as he walked into Feral's sick room.

Now, here he stood as the drug was injected, holding his notebook tightly against his chest. His Commander looked so tired and resigned. Bothwold shivered at that look on the normally powerful and commanding Kat. It hurt to see him reduced to this. He prayed with all his heart that his research saved the brave tom because this city would suffer gravely at his loss.

He was so focused on Commander Feral, he never registered the unusual presence of a SWAT Kat in the room.

According to the young scientist's tests, results should be apparent within an hour. Everyone waited. T-Bone stood back near the window though he desperately wanted to hold his mate through this ordeal but it wasn't a risk they could take. Feral lay trying to rest and not look at all the Kats staring at him.

Dr. Fresco, Dr. Andrew (Administrator of the Hospital), Dr. Konway, Dr. Lansburg (Head of Research for the Hospital) and of course, Dr. Bothwold all waited. The young scientist stood near the head of the bed making notes nervously while his superiors were talking in low voices in a tight cluster nearer to the door of the room.

That was the longest hour either T-Bone or Feral had ever had to endure. Dr. Fresco came forward and took a sample of Feral's blood and handed it off to Bothwold. The youngster, Dr. Konway and Dr. Lansburg went to the hospital's lab to test the sample.

Some twenty minutes later, they returned, a look of triumph was on their faces. It was young Dr. Bothwold who was allowed to give the verdict.

"It worked! Your body is already producing its own antibodies in the quantity it should have been." He said grinning from ear to ear.

Feral's face split into a matching grin of unrestrained joy.

"That's wonderful news!" Dr. Andrew said. The others murmured their congratulations. Dr. Fresco moved to Feral's side and placed a paw on the dark tom's shoulder.

"You'll have to stay in the hospital for another day but you should be able to leave soon after if the next test result continues to show improvement." Dr. Fresco said cautiously but he was smiling as well.

"Thank you so much for all your efforts, especially yours Dr. Bothwold." Feral said quietly.

"Oh you are very welcome, sir. I hope you continue to do well." Bothwold said enthusiastically.

Finally everyone left the pair alone. T-Bone felt tears of joy and relief fall from his eyes and wasn't surprised to feel the same from his mate as they held each other with happiness and the return of hope.

A month later........

Feral received a call as he waded through performance reports on his desk.

"Feral!"

"Hello, Commander. Dr. Fresco here. I was calling to give you the results of your last labs. I'm pleased to say you're disgustingly healthy. More so than you were before your unfortunate encounter with Dark Kat." He said warmly.

Feral grinned happily. "That certainly makes my day. Thank you for calling and letting me know." He said, sincerely.

"You're very welcome. Take care, Commander."

"You too."

He hung up the phone and turned his chair to look at the beautiful day. His heart was light and full of hope. Now nothing should hinder his happiness. He couldn't wait to tell his mate when he saw him tonight. Grinning to himself, he turned back around and went back to work.

Quitting work on time for once, Feral said good night to Sgt Fallon after giving him the good news. Fallon grinned with pleasure and wished his Commander a great night.

He was pleased to see he was first home as he set their take out dinner on the table and went to shower and change clothes.

Chance stretched and yawned as he parked his cyclotron in the hidden garage of his home that evening. He walked through the connecting door from the garage to the kitchen and blinked when he smelled something good.

It was unusual for his mate to be home before him. He made his way through the kitchen and came upon the candle-lit table already laden with food that smelled delicious.

He looked around and didn't see Uly so went on into the living room, a frown of puzzlement on his face. Music was filling the air but still no sign of his mate. He made for the bedroom but before he could reach it a pair of powerful arms wrapped around his waist and a warm kiss was laid on his neck.

"Hello, love!" Feral murmured softly.

"Hey, what's the occasion?" Chance asked as he turned in those arms and kissed the dark tom more fully.

When they parted after a lenghty moment, Feral said softly, "Dr. Fresco called me to say I'm better than before Dark Kat did his number on me and I thought we should celebrate."

"Ohhhh....love that is wonderful news." Chance said joyfully then kissed his mate with even more enthusiasm.

"Hmmm......that was hot......but before we go any further....there's a hot meal waiting for us....shall we go eat first?" Feral rumbled.

"Hehheh! I could think of better things to eat.....but you're right, good food shouldn't be wasted especially since you went to such effort to set it up so nice......come love......chow now.....and you later!" Chance said hotly.

"Sounds like a plan!"

As they sat down to the excellent food, Chance couldn't resist making a toast. "May we have forever now and only the normal dangers in our lives!" He said with heartfelt sincerity.

"We will Chance, what are a few potholes in the road compared to how we feel for each other! I love you!" Ulysses said smiling.

"What a perfect sentiment and so true!" Chance chuckled. " And I love you too!" He said and clinked his glass to his mate's.

~fini~