Jumping ahead again. Sorry. Actually, I'm not sorry.
(Two Years Later)
Chance closed up the shop and set the internal alarms. Feral was paid off. He and Jackie had put in extra long hours at the yard to get it set up as a second base of operations rather than a primary. The salvage yard was actually closer to the city than their house in the country. Because of this, they decided it would be more suitable for repairs if their vehicles were damaged in combat. It was also larger and easier to house a jet. Jackie worked out plans to have remote access to the Turbokat from home. Autopilot didn't just mean 'look ma, no paws' any more. It meant that while they were coming from home, the Turbokat could go through launch sequences and take off on it's own. All they had to do was hit the inconspicuous ramp just outside the back of the yard and the jet would get into docking position. He went out side and got into his new truck. It had been an anniversary present from Jackie. The tow truck was good and all but it just wasn't that great to look at. And the new one was so much easier to retrofit with the Thunder truck's technology. The transition from average extended cab 4 by 4 with a hemi to indestructible machinery was nearly flawless.
When Chance got passed the gates, he got out and went over to a keypad. He punched in a code and the automatic gates slid shut with a hiss. "Business hours are over," he grinned and got back in the cab of the truck. If he was lucky, he'd beat Jackie home and get to see his boys before they got smothered by their mother. Today, he smiled, had been their first day of kindergarten. And, boy oh boy, did Jackie cry when they were ready to go, standing outside with their little backpacks and lunch boxes, looking near identical except for Jake's blonde tipped ears and Corey's ticking, twitching and occasional vocal spasm. His smile widened as he thought about his beautiful kitten with her mother's eyes and his blond fur playing with Melissa until he got home.
Melissa, he decided, had been a lifesaver. "I don't ask questions, Mr. Furlong." She'd said when he'd asked if she'd be willing to be a live in nanny with the promise of never asking why he and Jackie had to leave suddenly sometimes. And true to her word, she had neither asked nor snooped around. And they would know if she did.
Chance's black truck kicked up gravel and dust up the long driveway lined with trees. The old farmhouse was far from any other residential or commercial area. It stood two stories high with just enough rooms for everyone to have their own space, including Melissa. There was a basement that gave way to a fallout shelter some manic had built in the 50's when the world stood on the brink of war. He and Jackie quickly used that to build the new hangar. The property was a sprawling 15 acres, half of which was fenced in. That was were the barn sat, with his project plane. The old crop duster. He hadn't had much time to work on it, but Chance wasn't in a hurry to get it off the ground. It was like rebuilding a classic car. It was more about the journey than the destination.
Melissa's car was there. Jackie's wasn't.
Chance grinned and went up the steps to the large front porch and opened the door.
"Who is it, Marley? Who's at the door?" He heard Melissa say from the living room. Immediately, a blond toddler with her hair in sloppy pigtails, wearing a cute little blue dress came running. "Daddy!"
Chance's grin could barely fit on his face. "There's my angel!" He scooped her up and kissed her on the nose. "The boys upstairs, Mel?"
"They are." The young she-kat was wearing jeans and had her hair tied up in a bandanna. She was part nanny, part housekeeper. With three kits, one needed both.
"Jake! Corey!" Chance yelled up the stairs. "Come on! I wanna know how school was!"
Jake immediately came bounding down the stairs holding a piece of paper. "Hey sport. What'd mom say about running on the steps?"
The kitten jerked to a stop and then finished coming down more slowly.
"So? How was it?"
"Daddy it was fun! We got to finger paint and stuff. And look!" He held up the sheet. In messy red paint he'd written his name.
"This is going on the fridge for mommy to see." Chance took it proudly to the kitchen. Once it was firmly in place he turned back to his son. "Where's Corey? I wanna put his up here too."
Jake bit his lip. "Corey got in trouble."
"He did?" Chance was worried something would happen. They'd tried to explain to the teacher before school began that he had some problems. "What happened?" He laid a paw on the kit's shoulder as they walked back towards the stairs.
"He said a bad word. And he wouldn't draw his name." Jake frowned. "Daddy, some of the other kits were mean to him."
"How were they mean?" Chance stopped and squatted down so he was eye level with Jake.
Jake looked down at his shoes. "This one boy... he called Corey stupid. And Corey got mad and threw his paint at him. Miss Jenkins was real mad. She made him sit in time out."
"Who? Corey or the other kit?"
"Corey." Jake had a frustrated look on his face. "It wasn't his fault."
Chance sighed and stood back up. "Hey why don't you go watch TV with Melissa and Marley? Mommy will be home soon."
Jake nodded and went downstairs. For a five year old, he was really perceptive and a quick learner.
"Corey," Chance pushed open the door to his other son's room.
The kitten was standing in front of a shelf where all his miniature cars were displayed. With a frustrated look on his face, he was rearranging the cars. His shoulder jerked forwards and went slack and his neck twitched. "Whatcha doing, kiddo?"
Corey blinked as he looked up and then back at his cars. Then he looked back up, holding a teal Charger. "This one," he hissed. "It doesn't go."
"Is it broken?" Chance took the car and looked at it. It seemed fine.
"No." Corey threw out a paw and hit the shelf. "Look!"
Chance looked at the shelf and frowned. "Oh." Corey had put all the cars into groups of three based on their color.
"And... and these ones too." Corey pointed at couple other odd colored cars.
"I see." Chance took the other cars too. 'Funny' he thought. 'The rest of his room is a disaster.' "Corey. What happened at school today?"
"What's 'retarded' mean?" He looked up with glittery blue eyes.
"Where'd you hear that word?" Chance barely kept the anger out of his voice.
"Miss Jenkins," he had a strained look on his face, as if he was trying to keep from twitching or making a noise.
"Did she say that to you?"
Corey sat down on the floor suddenly and kicked the bottom of the shelf. It didn't do anything more than rattle the cars. "No. She pointed at me. I think she was mad."
"Why was she mad?"
"I said the," he hissed. "I said the 's' word by accident. A-and I didn't draw what I was s'posed to."
"Can I see what you drew?"
Corey shook his head.
"She took it." His head ticked and he kicked the shelf again. "Daddy? Am I," hiss "Am I re... retarded?"
"No," Chance said sternly. "And that's a bad word. I don't want to hear you say it, okay?"
Corey nodded. "I'm sorry." He whispered, his tears spilling out.
Chance gently pulled the kitten into a tight hug. "It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. Alright? Mommy and I are going to have a talk with your teacher." He heard the door downstairs and Jake shout. She wasn't going to be pleased. Chance carefully picked up the five year old and carried him downstairs.
Jackie had her arms around Jake and was looking him over with worried eyes.
"Mommy I wrote my name!" Jake excitedly pushed himself out of her arms and grabbed her paw. "Daddy put it on the fridge!"
Jackie gasped when she saw the finger painted sloppy letters. "Wow. This is really good, Jake!" Suddenly she had something grasping her around her leg. "Hey Marley." She cooed and picked up the kitten. "Where you good for Mel?"
Marley nodded, her little pigtails bouncing. "That's my girl. How about a snack?" Jackie held the kitten on her hip as she walked to the cookie jar. She pulled out three cookies and gave one to each of her present kittens. She looked at the extra cookie and sighed. "Now where is the other one?" Right on cue, Chance came into the kitchen, carrying Jake's twin.
"We need to talk," he said, his voice laced with anger.
"The problem, Mrs. Furlong, is that he doesn't listen. Everything I told him to do, he started to do but then went off in his own little world. I have to ask, is he medicated?"
"Medicated? Of course he's medicated." Jackie hissed. They weren't able to schedule a time to talk to the teacher until after the first week of school. She'd told Chance to let her do the talking. That he would only lose his temper and make things worse. But Miss Jenkins was being unreasonable.
"Then I think maybe he should be put in a special program. One with other kittens like him."
"You mean something slower?" Jackie narrowed her eyes. "He just has a little trouble picking things up."
"He's the only one that couldn't write his name. He's going to be behind."
"He can write his name," Jackie crossed her arms over her chest. "You have to be patient with him."
"And I have 15 other kittens that all need my attention. If he needs the extra help, he's not going to get it in a regular program." The teacher sighed. "You can take time to decide if you want, but keep in mind that the longer it is before he's in a situation more suitable for his condition, he will continue to fall behind."
"If it's all the same to you, Miss Jenkins, I think Corey is perfectly normal and will be just fine once he adapts." Jackie stood up and gave Chance a near scathing look. "I think we're done."
"Missa!" Marley tugged on Melissa's pants.
"Hmm?" Melissa stooped down and picked up the toddler.
"Eat." She said softly.
"Hungry?" Melissa said.
"Eat," the kitten nodded.
"Not yet. We have to go pick up your brothers."
"Why?" Marley pouted.
"Because it would be rude to eat without them." Melissa slipped on her flip flops and headed for the door. She carried Marley out to the car and fastened her in the car seat. It was a fairly long drive to the school because of how far removed the house was. The school bus didn't even run that far out. Melissa pulled into the pickup area just as the morning kindergarten class was dismissed. Immediately she saw Jake running to the car. But not Corey.
"Hey Lissa!" He panted as he slid into the middle of the backseat.
"Hey Jake. Where's your brother?"
Jake excited smile melted away. "Um..." The kitten leaned over the car seat to look out the window. "He was next to me. I swear, Lissa!"
"Then we better go find him." Melissa got out of the car and got Marley up. Jake scrambled back out and followed her into the school.
After frantically checking classrooms with the help of the principal and Miss Jenkins, Melissa clumsily pulled out her cellphone. First she called Jackie. Barely able to keep the hysteria of losing Corey out of her voice, she told the mother that her son was gone. Then she called Chance. Then she waited.
Jackie got to the school several minutes before Chance. Her tires screeched loudly as she slammed on the breaks. She was out of the car before she even had the engine off.
"We've searched the whole school and the playground from top to bottom," Mr. MacFurson, the elderly principal told her.
"I don't understand. Where else could he have gone? He's five! Are you sure you checked everywhere?" Jackie was well into tearing the principal off a strip for losing her kitten when Chance stormed into the lobby.
"Who saw him last?"
"I did, daddy." Jake said quietly. "I swear he was with me. I'm sorry, daddy."
"Where was he with you?" Chance knelt down in front of his small son.
Jake made a face. He was thinking really hard. "When... when the bell rang."
Sighing, Chance took Jake's paw. "Show me where you were?"
The kitten led him through the school to the kindergarten rooms. "Here," he said softly, standing in the threshold of the classroom.
Chance made a face and looked around. There was door leading to the outside directly across from the classroom. He opened it and looked around. Immediately, his eyes traveled through the playground to the fence. Jackie slipped out the door and followed his line of sight. Just beyond the fence was a shimmering pond.
"You don't think...?" She didn't have to say it. The kittens couldn't swim yet. Jackie darted down the short steps, taking off her heels so she could run.
"Jake, go back to Melissa." Chance took off after his wife, panting as he reached the fence. "Do you... see him...?"
Jackie shook her head, her hair falling loose. She grabbed a hold of the fence, intending to climb over it, when it wobbled. Without much work at all, the broken part slid open just enough for someone really small to get by, barely pulling at the weeds attached to it. It had been opened before.
Chance held the fence portion open enough for Jackie to slip through. Then he worked himself passed it.
"Corey!" Jackie shouted as she ran towards the water, a deep ball of fear tightening in her stomach. "COREY!"
Chance moved in a different direction, towards a small clearing in a group of trees. A splash of color caught his eye. "Jackie over here!" He shouted as he ran towards the figure curled up on the trunk of a fallen tree. At first, he thought the kitten wasn't moving. But as he moved closer, he saw one of his legs jerk and kick against the rotting wood. Then he heard the crying, intermittent with hissing and choked sounding vocal spasms. "Corey?" Chance gently stroked the boy's dark fur. "What are you doing out here?"
He sniffled and jerked his head away from Chance's paw. "GO AWAY!" Corey shouted and curled in on himself.
Jackie ignored the outburst, scooping him up as soon as she reached the tree and holding him tightly. "Thank goodness," she sank to the ground, scratching him behind the ears and rocking him in spite of his kicking and twitching. She was undeterred by his screaming and hissing. "I DON'T WANNA 'hiss' GO BACK!" Corey screamed.
"What happened, kiddo?" Chance situated himself on the ground so that Corey could see him.
"THEY'RE MEAN!" Corey buried his face in his mother's shirt. "Mommy PLEASE DON'T 'hiss' MAKE ME GO!"
"Who's mean to you, baby?" Jackie didn't care that she was sitting on the damp ground in her nice clothes.
Instead of answering, the kitten erupted in another heartbreaking sob.
"Corey," she soothed. "Come on. It's alright. Just calm down and tell me what happened."
"Miss... Miss Jenkins... she... she... she..." Corey's neck ticked and he hissed loudly. "She... she made me miss play time... and...'hiss' and this other boy... he... he said it's cuz I'm... I'm stupid.... and... and then Miss Jenkins was... was... making us read... 'hiss' and then... she... she got mad again.... Mommy I hate it. I hate it, Mommy." He hissed a few more times during his jumbled explanation of the day's events.
Jackie held the boy tightly and looked at Chance.
"Jackie, babe, maybe that teacher's right. Maybe this is too much for him." Chance reasoned.
Jackie sighed. She didn't want to do this. She didn't want to make him feel any more different than he already was. "Maybe. We can talk about it later. Let's go home, Corey." Chance reached down to pick up the kitten and carried him back to the school.
Jackie held one of Corey's tiny cinnamon colored paws in hers as she looked around the brightly colored room. It was smaller than the kindergarten classroom and had only a couple of small round tables with bright red plastic chairs. She gave Chance an anxious look.
"Mrs. Furlong?" A she-kat in a long flowy, bright yellow skirt and a brown tunic with a bright rainbow on it smiled brightly. "I'm Kila Longfur." She held out a small chocolate brown paw. Jackie forced a smile on to her face. "You can call me Jackie."
Kila gave Chance a polite nod and then dropped down to eye level with Corey. "And you must be Corey."
Corey nodded shyly, ducking behind his mother.
Kila's bright smile widened and she pointed to a play area near the window. "Why don't you go over there and play while I talk to your mom and dad."
Corey looked up for permission.
"It's okay." Jackie smiled reassuringly at her son. "Go ahead." She resisted the urge to clamp down on his paw and hold him close. The kitten scampered over to a large plastic bin filled with blocks.
Chance replaced his son's grip with his own and they followed Kila over to one of the tables.
"Have a seat?" The tiny she-kat sat comfortably in one of the tiny chairs.
"You're kidding, right?" Chance looked down at the kitten sized seat.
Jackie chuckled and situated herself in one, folding her legs to the side. Chance awkwardly sat down, his knees awfully close to his chest.
"I know this must be awfully stressful for you two." The teacher folded her paws in front of her and met each of their eyes in turn.
"You have no idea," Jackie sighed.
"Actually," Kila was still smiling. "I do. My son has Tourette's as well."
Jackie blushed and shot Chance an embarrassed look. It wasn't often she put her foot in her mouth.
"It's alright." Kila seemed to read her thoughts. "You should know that it gets easier. It just takes patience." She made a sweeping motion with her paw. "There are only 6 students in my class, 7 if you decide this is what you want for Corey. I've been teaching for fifteen years. And," she rapped her knuckles against the smooth wood surface of the table. "I haven't had a kitten that I couldn't reach."
Jackie winced as Corey hissed loudly and knocked his blocks to the floor with unnecessary force.
"Look, I'm not questioning your teaching abilities. Corey... well, he has a little trouble focusing, and..."
"And he doesn't seem to listen?" Kila finished. "You've probably asked him a thousand times to pick up his toys only to find him drawing on the walls?"
"Important city documents... but that's close enough." Jackie frowned.
"He's not a bad kitten," Chance interjected. "He just... we've tried teaching him on our own. And he seems to get it but then when we come back to it later, it's like we didn't even try." He sighed. "He's got a twin brother that can already say his alphabet backwards and count to a hundred. Jake's reading at a second grade level. But Corey..."
"He's a little behind," Kila shrugged. "It's not that big of a deal. Kit's with Tourette's sometimes have accompanying attention disabilities. My son has ADHD, and it's no so bad now that he's in high school but when he was that young, it took a different way of thinking. We just need to figure out what keeps his focus."
A soft pinging sound reached their ears.
Corey had clearly found a toy piano. For a moment, he pressed the keys, testing each one and hearing its sound. He giggled. Then hissed and ticked his head. A rare look of intense concentration crossed the kitten's face. And he placed his paws at opposite ends of the brightly colored plastic keys.
Jackie and Chance had resumed their discussion with Kila when the familiar song reached her ears. "Is that..."
"... Chopsticks?" Chance finished. Both parents jerked their heads back around to look at the five year old.
Corey stopped playing and looked up. "Sorry," he apologized immediately and kicked the toy away.
"No," Chance got up and went over to him. "Can you do it again?"
Jackie sat in stunned silence. 'Maybe,' she thought. 'This is going to be perfect for him.'
Corey gave his father a nervous look, afraid he was going to be in trouble, as he reached over and pulled the small plastic piano back in front of him. Hesitantly, he slowly played the tune again.
"Where'd you learn that?" Chance gently stroked the boy's head.
"Um..." Corey twitched. "It was on 'hiss' Twistin' Kittens."
Chance blinked dumbly at his son. "On what?"
"That show, Chance," Jackie finally pulled herself from her stupor. "The one with the four kats that wear different colors and they sing a whole bunch of songs; I think there's a pirate and a dinosaur too."
Chance winced. He hated that show. But he put up with it because it kept Corey sitting still for thirty minutes.
It wasn't much longer, and Corey was signed up. When it was time to go, he gripped the toy tightly and shook his head. "Corey," Jackie sighed. "You have to leave it here. You'll be back tomorrow."
"NO!" He wailed. "I like 'hiss' it!"
"Then we'll get you one. But this one isn't yours. Now put it down and tell Mrs. Longfur thank you for letting you play."
Corey started to argue. Jackie gave him a firm look and held up one claw.
"But..." he whimpered, silencing when claw number two came up. Corey looked up at his father. Chance raised his eyebrows, his silent way of saying 'if you don't listen to your mom, you're in a world of trouble.' His shoulder twitched forward as he took the toy back to the bin. Corey squeezed his eyes shut as his face ticked. He made a noise that sounded an awful lot like 'shit' and it got him a glare. He trudged back over to his parents.
"And?" Jackie gave the kitten an expectant look.
Corey looked up blankly.
"What did I tell you to do?" She asked softly.
"To... to put the toy back..." Corey pointed at the toy bin.
"And... and... and..." Corey's eyes darted back and forth in thought. He hissed and kicked the floor. "Um... and to... um...."
Jackie smiled patiently at her son's valiant effort to remember. "Thank Mrs. Longfur for letting you play."
Corey gasped softly. "Thank you Misses Longfur for letting me play." He repeated carefully. Jackie scratched him between the ears, a silent 'good boy.'
"Marley! MARLEY DON'T..." Melissa winced as the toddler dumped her plastic plate of food onto the floor. She glared at the kitten.
"Uh oh..." Marley said innocently.
"Uh oh, my tail. You did that on purpose." Melissa pointed at the kitten in the booster chair as she knelt to pick up the food. As she was on the floor, she caught sight of pieces of food between Jake and Corey. Standing back up, she glared at the twins. "Eat your green beans."
"But we did," Jake whined.
"No you didn't. They're all on the floor." Melissa sighed.
"Where's mommy?" Corey asked instead of fighting the nanny over vegetables. He wasn't going to eat them no matter how mad she got.
"They had to go do something really important." Melissa glared once more at the two year old, trying to dump the contents of her sippy cup.
"What did they have to do?"
"I honestly don't know." Melissa sighed tiredly. "Jake... drop that green bean on the floor and you don't get a cookie for dessert."
Jake gave the bean a disgusted look and dropped it on his plate.
"Razor LOOK OUT!" T-Bone shouted, firing an octopus missile at a creepling.
Razor flipped backwards just as the little pink demon was nailed to the wall. Since the changes made to the city, the only enemy they couldn't seem to get rid of was Dark Kat. The city would need a protective bubble to keep him out.
"You fools," Dark Kat laughed. "You can't stop me." He fired a blaster at the earthen ceiling above the Swat Kats, causing it to cave in.
T-Bone shoved Razor out of the way.
"T-Bone!" The masked she-kat gasped as large pieces of stone and earth fell on top of her partner. With a snarl of anger, she fired several mini baby boomers at Dark Kat, but he was gone. "FUCK!" She swore loudly and started to frantically dig her partner out. "Come on... T-Bone... say something..." She begged for a noise just to let her know that she was close, that he was still alive. The rocks cut her paws as she gripped them and tossed them behind her. Finally, she felt something that wasn't stone or clay. It was fabric. T-Bone had landed on his stomach. Quickly, she removed the rest of the rubble from his body, wincing at the twisted angle of one of his legs. The large tabby let out a groan and started to push himself up.
"ARGH!" He snarled, recoiling from the pain.
"Try not to move. I think your leg's broken." She ordered, but he didn't listen as he pushed himself up and quickly onto one foot.
"Shit," T-Bone swore. "Shit, shit shit! Gah that HURTS!"
Razor looked up at the open sky above them. "I think that's our way out. And you need a hospital."
T-Bone hobbled weakly over to the cavern wall and leaned against it. His fur glistened with sweat. Maybe he shouldn't have stood up.
"I guess... we should use our grappling hooks, huh?"
Razor shot her partner a deeply worried look. T-Bone was usually pretty good at swallowing back the pain. "Let's make this quick. The sooner we get out of here, the better." She waited for him to go first. When he was close to the opening, she fired hers and pressed the button for it to pull her up. T-Bone hung weakly, eye level with the dew covered grass. He took a deep breath and tried to pull himself up. The movement sent a shock wave through his torso. Broken ribs? Check.
"Well shit," he swore. "Now what?"
Razor deftly pulled herself up and onto the grass. "Give me your paw."
"You can't lift me, Razor. I've got at least forty pounds on you."
She smirked. "Well fat weighs less than muscle."
"You just wait. Next time you ask me if something makes your butt look big, I'm gonna... OW!" He shouted as the she-kat started to pull him up.
"Quit yammering and help me!" Razor hissed through gritted teeth.
T-Bone clenched his jaw and forced himself to move through the pain. It wasn't long before he was flat on his back on the grass with Razor panting tiredly beside him. With one arm cradling his ribs, T-Bone reached towards the leg of his flight suit and started to pull the fabric up his rapidly swelling leg.
"You think you can set it?"
Razor scrambled to get a good look at the injury. She winced as she hovered above the battered limb. "T-Bone... this is really bad."
"How bad is 'really bad'?"
She felt a little sick to her stomach. "Can you feel anything?"
"Yes," T-Bone gave her a 'well duh' look.
"In your leg, T-Bone, can you feel anything in your leg?"
T-Bone moved his brain past the throbbing in the rest of his body and his blue eyes widened. "No. I can't."
Razor looked down at the bloody part of his femur jutting out of his thigh. "That's probably a good thing." She felt tears well up in her eyes. There was no way T-Bone was going to be able to get in the jet like this. Her ears fell flat against her helmet. This whole thing was under the radar. The Enforcers had no clue that Dark Kat was hiding out in the mountains. They'd practically stumbled upon him in a routine test flight. Nobody knew they were out here. They needed help.
"I have an idea," she said softly.
In all the years Callie had been on the 'needing' end of the Swat Kat hotline, she'd never thought she'd be on the 'needed' side. Now, as she stared at her pager buzzing in her paws, her eyes widened in shock, worry and fear. Anxiously, she pressed the button.
"Callie?" It was Razor's voice. "I... I need your help."
"You need my help? But..."
"It's T-Bone. We tried to get the drop on Dark Kat and something terrible happened." It was evident to the mayor that, by the sound of Razor's voice, she was crying.
"Is he...?" Callie couldn't finish her question.
"He's hurt. Really bad. I can't move him."
Callie looked out her penthouse window. "Where are you?" She was about to abuse her power.
Razor darted to the Turbokat and dug out the emergency first aid kit. She had to stop the bleeding around the wound. She returned to where T-Bone was laying flat on the grass. Her paws were trembling as she carefully wrapped gauze around his leg, freezing when a large blond paw grasped both of hers.
"I'm going to be okay," T-Bone said reassuringly.
Razor shot him a look. "How can you say that?"
"Because it's just my leg. It's not like I got shot in the head or something."
"It could've been more than your leg. You're lucky that's all you got. That and some cracked ribs. You could've been killed."
"But I'm right here." T-Bone winced and pushed himself up to a sitting position. It hurt to sit up, but he needed to look her in the eyes. "And I'm fine. See?"
"Yeah. You're bone's just sticking out of your leg." Razor said quietly. "No biggie. Just an injury that takes months to heal."
"Hey..." He gently touched her cheek with the back of his paw. "We've been hurt doing this dozens of times. It's just a minor set back."
"A minor set back?" Razor scoffed. "T-Bone... you're not getting it!"
"What am I not getting?" T-Bone gave her a perplexed look. His ear twitched backwards at the sounds of a helicopter. "Please tell me that's not the Enforcers."
Razor shook her head. "I have no idea. Callie said not to worry. She didn't say what she was doing."
As the chopper neared, Razor could make out the large red cross on it and smiled. "Not the Enforcers."
The helicopter landed, it's blades flattening the grass. A familiar blond she-kat ducked out and ran over to the vigilantes, followed closely by two paramedics.
Callie skidded to a halt. "Oh my," she paled beneath her light colored fur. The paramedics urged her out of the way. Razor gave her a torn look. She desperately wanted to go with her husband. But she couldn't leave the Turbokat behind, especially in an area where they'd spotted Dark Kat.
Callie grasped her arm. "You do what you have to do. I'll be with him."
Razor looked between the mayor and her husband. Before they could load him into the helicopter, she ran up to him. "I'll be there before you know it." She tilted her head down and kissed him. "I love you," she whispered.
"Don't crash the Turbokat," T-Bone smirked, drawing a tense laugh from the she-kat.
"Don't let them touch his mask," Razor said to Callie before darting for the jet.
The house was empty when Jackie unlocked the front door and held it open for Chance. Awkwardly using his crutches, he came up the steps and into the house. His entire leg was in a cast. And his chest was wrapped beneath his shirt. "Melissa must have taken the twins to school." Jackie looked from Chance to the long flight of stairs. "Why don't you go sit on the couch?"
"Are you kidding? I'm exhausted." He hobbled toward the stairs.
Jackie watched him slowly take each step until he was at the top. Then she went into the kitchen to get him something to drink before she forced a paw full of pain killers on him. He wouldn't say anything. But she could see it. He was hurting. As she stood at the sink, her eyes traveled out the window past the brightly colored swing set to the sprawling back yard, past the barn to the woods. She could barely make out the tree house Chance had started building for the boys. She thought about what it would've been like to have to explain to her kittens why daddy wasn't there and the glass she'd been filling with water slipped from her paws, shattering in the sink. She was throwing the broken glass in the trash when the front door open.
"Jackie? Chance? You guys here?" Melissa called from the foyer. Marley, who'd been walking beside her, jerked her paw free and ran through the house.
"Right here, baby." Jackie caught the toddler, swinging her up until she giggled.
"What's going on? I saw the car. Shouldn't you be at work?" Melissa watched Jackie balance her toddler on her hip and grab another glass.
"Chance had a little accident."
"But his truck's right outside."
"It wasn't in the truck. It..." Jackie sighed. "He broke his leg." She successfully filled it with water and sat it on the counter so that she could open the pill bottle. Marley reached for the little white tablets.
"No,"Jackie hissed, slipping them in her pocket and taking the glass. "Let's go see daddy."
"Daddy." Marley repeated.
"Yep. Daddy." Jackie smiled at the chubby blond kitten as she went up the stairs and down the hall to the master bedroom.
Seeing her father, Marley squirmed wildly, kicking Jackie in her attempts to get free from the arm holding her in place.
"Daddy!" She squealed and launched herself onto the bed.
"Hey pumpkin," Chance grinned as she stumbled over to him, collapsing onto his chest. He clamped down, keeping the gasp of pain from escaping as the kitten curled up beside him. "You gonna take a nap with me?"
She nodded against him. Jackie felt the smile tug at her lips as she handed him the glass and pulled the pills from her pocket. "Is there room for mommy?"
"No!" Marley giggled.
"Well that's just too bad," Jackie dropped onto the bed and dug her fingers lightly into the kitten's sides, tickling her mercilessly.
Melissa looked at the time. She hadn't heard Marley in hours. It was safe to say she was sound asleep with her parents. She scribbled a note down and stuck it to the fridge. Then she grabbed her keys and went to pick the twins up from school.
Jackie was curled up on her side, her arm across Marley and resting limply on Chance's stomach as it rose and fell steadily in sleep. Her ear twitched at a creaking sound. Then came a shrill mixed scream of "Daddy" and "Mommy" as the door flew open and a rusty colored blur torpedoed towards the bed.
She was up before the two kittens hit them. Chance snorted in his sleep and cracked his eyes open.
"Mommy!" Corey shrieked. "Mommy look!" He held up a piece of paper.
Jackie took the blue construction paper and looked at the brightly colored writing. She smiled. With each letter in a different color, and in almost indecipherable scrawl, it said "Dear Mommy, I love you. Love Corey." Jackie smiled. "This is going on the fridge," she kissed the kitten between the ears and showed the paper to Chance. It took a minute for his drug addled brain to process what he was looking at, but he smiled proudly. "That's my boy." He hugged the kitten.
"Daddy, what happened to your leg?" Jake gingerly touched the cast.
"Daddy had a little accident," Chance shrugged. "So looks like I'm going to be home for a while."
"Does it hurt?"
"A little." Chance scrubbed the kitten's hair. "You have a marker in your book bag?"
Jake still had his bag on his back. He pulled it off and fished around for a little bit, finally pulling up a thick green marker.
"You wanna write your name on it?"
Jake grinned and pulled the top off. He stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth as he carefully drew out his name in large letters. "Nice job, sport." Chance smiled and looked at Corey. "You next, kiddo."
Corey took the marker and studied the rough white surface. Slowly, he drew out a crooked 'C' then an almost too large 'o.' With a little bit of hesitation, he got the 'r' out. Finally he was done. "That's awesome," Chance praised his son and then looked at Marley who was grabbing frantically for the marker. "Alright... alright..." he chuckled.
Jackie took the marker and held it in Marley's paw. She guided the kitten in writing her name. Needless to say, it was much more legible than the twins since it had assistance.
"Alright," Jackie slid off the bed and picked up Marley. "You guys are going to go play." Melissa seemed to materialize right outside her bedroom door, waiting to take Marley from her. With the kittens gone and the room quiet again, Jackie slid back into bed and curled up next to Chance.
"You realize you're going to have to be on top for a while." The tabby muttered, his eyes already closed again.
"After everything, you have sex on the brain?"
He smirked. "Every second we have alone." Chance opened his eyes again and turned his head to look at Jackie. The playfulness slipped away from his face. "You know, when that cave started to, you know, cave in, and I pushed you out of the way. There was this split second where all I saw was Corey and Jake and Marley without you."
Jackie felt him reach out for her paw. "You know I was thinking the same thing... except about you."
He squeezed her paw and pulled her, simultaneously scooting to the center of the bed. Jackie sighed and carefully straddled him. A breeze blew in from the window and tousled her hair. The curtains cast shadows on the wall.
Chance had such an intense expression on his face as he stared up at her. It was difficult to believe she'd had three kittens. Then he looked closer at the fine lines forming around her amber eyes beneath her dark fur. Wrinkles brought on by laughter, crying and stress. There was a small, almost undetectable scar on her cheek from the incident with the tiger. That seemed like lifetimes ago. He ran his paws down her arms as he thought about the pictures in crayon, marker, and paint covering their fridge, the random toys in the hallway and in the living room, all of the tears and temper tantrums, the pillow fights and the wrestling matches. Then he thought about the swing set just outside the back door and the tree house he hadn't had time to finish. "I think..." Chance licked his lips. The Oxycodine gave him cotton mouth. "That it's time we made our lives a little more normal."
"Chance, no matter what we do, our lives will never be normal." Jackie felt his paws move from her arms to her waist and then rest on her hips.
"But we can swing things in our favor a little more if we stayed on the ground." He felt her tail tickle his paw.
Jackie cocked her head to the side. "Did I just hear you correctly? Did you just suggest that we...?"
"Yeah... I think it's time." Chance reached up to brush her hair away from her face. He paused and looked at the reddish brown strands wrapped around his claws. The sunlight glinted off a silvery strand.
Jackie blushed. "I... um..." She chuckled. "Callie gave me the name of her stylist. I've got an appointment to get that covered up."
"No. Leave it. I like it." Chance grinned.
"I hate you," Jackie teased. "You're three years older than I am. If anyone should be going gray, it should be you."
"Except I'm not the one busting my tail for Callie, on top of being the one to get Jake and Corey out of bed and ready for school and then getting them in bed. I mean, Melissa does most of the stuff in between, but you're the one who takes off from work to take them to the doctor, even though my job is less demanding and closer to home. And in between all of that, you drop what you're doing to help me rescue this city. I think you're entitled to one gray strand." As if to drive home his point, there was a crash from downstairs and Melissa shouting "Corey!"
Jackie chuckled. "So what are we going to do with all our free time?"
"What free time?" Chance arched an eyebrow. "I have a tree house to finish. And there's that old crop duster that I've barely been able to work on since we moved in. And I'm laid up here until this cast comes off. Tomorrow, Corey's got that appointment with that specialist, therapist... something 'ist' and that's going to put you getting to work at, what? Noon?"
"Yeah. I know," Jackie rolled her eyes. "Are you sure this is what you want to do?"
Chance put his paws back on her hips. "Yeah. I am. You think Callie will be mad?"
"Callie will understand. You really think the Enforcers can handle it?"
"They handled it before the Swat Kats. Besides, you and Callie are the 'dynamic duo' remember? You guys have cut crime in half without having to even put on a mask." His serious expression twisted into a devious smile. "Besides, that gives me more time with this beautiful body before the rest of it gets covered in gray."
Alright. That's done. Complete. Fin. Hope you all enjoyed it.