Authors Note: Merry Christmas! And thank you to everyone who has added this story to their subscriptions. It really means a lot to me! I hope you enjoy this latest chapter.
"Jemima! Where have you been!?"
Jemima cringed. That was the voice of a very annoyed Victoria who was sprinting across the junkyard toward her, a cross look on her face. Jemima turned around sheepishly.
"Around," she answered guiltily.
"I feel like I haven't seen you in ages!" the white cat said exasperatedly. "You've been with them," she gestured over towards Grizabella and Bombalurina who were sharing a meal together.
"Well yeah, they are my relatives," Jemima said. She knew were this conversation was heading.
"I wish you would introduce me!" Victoria said in a fierce undertone that was tainted with jealousy.
"Why don't you just go and talk to her yourself," Jemima said, annoyed. "She's not that hard to talk to, really."
Victoria's eyes widened at the suggestion. "I cant just do that! She's the Glamor Cat."
Victoria was mute in response to that comment. She sighed. "Well, can you at least tell me what you've been up to the past few days?"
"Oh yeah," Jemima started. "Remember that cat that they brought into the junkyard, the crazy one?" Victoria nodded. "Well, I've been assigned to take care of him."
Victoria's eyes widened in shock. "Really? Well, do tell! What's happened so far?"
Jemima laughed inwardly. "He was unconscious for about half the night, and then randomly he wakes up. Boom, just like that, he goes crazy. Starts freaking out about absolutely nothing! You would have thought that I attacked him or something. Then this morning, he didn't remember anything from the previous night at first, but when I mentioned it, he says he remembered. He's confused," she added to the look on Victoria's face.
"I'll say. Did he happen to tell what his name was?"
"No. But I called him 'Stranger' last night, and it sort of stuck. So now we're calling him 'Stranger'". He's in Grizabella's den now, resting. He's got a nasty cut on his head, but he doesn't remember how he got it. He doesn't remember anything, for that matter." Jem trailed off sadly.
"And? What do you think of him?" Victoria asked in a tone that said plainly, 'Do you fancy him?'
Jemima laughed. "He's insane! Completely crazy. It's hard to have any opinion of him," but that wasn't really completely true. Sure the young cat was insane, but something about him pulled Jemima's heart. She willed with all her heart that he would get better. She was sure he'd have quite a story to tell.
The next few days continued without incident. The gray tom continued to stay in Grizabella's den. Jemima was relieved of her night-time watch duties once the tom knew his way around the junkyard. She still however, continued to care for the tom during the day. He needed a friend, the poor fellow.
The gash on his head was beginning to heal, and his fur that had been so unkempt at his arrival was finally sleek and shiny. He was still thin, but days of good food had begun to take the sharp edge off of his bony features.
All the female kittens wanted a glimpse of him. They would giggle when he passed, and follow his paw prints everywhere he went, hoping for a glance from him. Of course he noticed them, but it seemed that he had eyes for none but Jemima, for he stuck to her like glue.
Not that Jemima minded. Now that he was familiar with the faces of the jellicle clan, he was quite calmer than normal. He was quite pleasant to carry on a conversation with, and surprisingly easy to talk to, now that he wasn't trying to rip anyone's fur out.
This morning was no different that the others. Jemima awoke in the house of her humans, and went to the junkyard to meet Grizabella and the others.
The minute she arrived, Stranger trotted up to her, as he had been doing for the past few mornings. "Good morning, Jemima," he said deeply.
"Good morning Stranger," Jemima said, holding back a laugh at the tom's mature attitude. "Have a good night?"
"The best," he said, "As usual. Grizabella is very kind to let me have her den."
Jemima nodded in agreement. "Shall we find something to eat?"
Once the two sat down, all formality was lost. Soon they were gossiping about the latest tribe news.
"Well," Stranger said. "I heard tell last night that Bombalurina is expecting another kitten."
Jemima shook her head disbelievingly. "She can't be! I would have been told. Besides, I thought she couldn't have kittens anymore."
Stranger shrugged. "You know best. That's just what I heard."
But Jemima's curiosity was spiked. "Who's the father?"
Stranger gave an impish grin. "Well, I heard that her and Rum Tum Tugger got it on pretty good the other night."
"Stranger! Don't talk of such things so loudly!" Jemima reprimanded him sharply. Then she giggled. "But yeah, that is probably true. They've had a little thing for years. What else is new?"
"Old Deuteronomy is sick, supposedly."
Jemima was shocked. "Everyone failed to mention that one," she said numbly. Old Deuteronomy was, well, quite old. He's been leader as long as anyone could remember. The news that he was ill was not good at all.
"I suppose your father is trying to hush it all up," Stranger continued. "Doesn't want the tribe to worry."
"That sounds like the sort of thing he would do," Jemima said faintly. "Munkustrap is the tribe protector. That's his job: to ensure peace and calmness."
"Still, the tribe should know," Stranger went on, his brow furrowed. "These cats are not so dumb that they need to be sheltered from the truth. I would think it would be better for them to be warned now, that way they'll be ready if Deuteronomy decides to turn up stiff one morning."
"You are so crude," Jemima said rolling her eyes.
"Hey," Stranger said. "I'm only half serious. I like Old Deuteronomy, and I wouldn't wish bad fortune on him. He is a very kind tom. I'm just saying..."
He had a point, Jemima thought. "Maybe you should voice your opinion more often. You turn out to be right sometimes."
Stranger grinned. "Thanks," he said, and that was all that was needed. Jemima suddenly saw a different tom, one with bright blue eyes that sparkled in the morning sun, with steel gray fur that gleamed with good care, and a smile that spoke louder than words. She was in love.