Dragon Child VI : Ninja Cat

by: Firecatt and MavenAlysse

Dragon Child leapt up on the kitchen table as her pet set down his mail. A small box wrapped in brown paper caught her attention. Peter Cane flashed a smile at the kitten. "Hey darlin, how was your day?" He scratched her behind the ears for a moment, her purr of pleasure filling the silent room.

Dragon Child reached a paw out, batting the box once before Peter picked it up, shaking it near his ear. "Humn. I wonder what it could be? It's light, whatever it is." Her pet frowned thoughtfully, pushing brown fur out of his eyes as he examined it. The box was thin and long, spanning the length and width of his hand. "No return address. I wonder … " he trailed off.

Dragon Child gave an inquisitive mew.

Peter chuckled. "Guess I won't know till I open it, huh?"

Shreds of brown paper drifted down upon the table and Dragon Child as Peter ripped into the package. The small kitten pounced upon the strips of paper enthusiastically, batting it with her paws. She took great delight in the crinkling sound it made.

Her eyes widened as the brown was replaced by a riot of color, the strips of paper taking on a different texture, slicker and with a different kind of crunch to it.

Peter almost had the package open. The box looked like the ones that usually housed expensive wristwatches, a plain white with a gold embossed leaf upon the lid. "Looks like I've got a secret admirer." Peter grasped the lid with one hand, then let out a disappointed sigh as the telephone rang. "I'll be right back," he told Dragon Child. "Don't run off with it," he joked as he gave the black kitten a loving rub between her ears before heading into the living room.

Dragon Child stared in fascination at the small piece of blue and green paper still stuck to the box. It fluttered slightly in the faint breeze from the air conditioner. She watched it intently, then pounced. The force of the blow caused the package to tumble to the floor, the lid flying off.

A small reddish brown creature scrambled out of the box, it's tail curled over its back and quivering in agitation. It's two front claws weaved from side to side, snapping. Dragon Child sprung lightly down to the floor, her interest peaked. The creature took a few jittery steps sideways. Dragon Child followed, her tail lashing as she stalked it.

As it took another step sideways, she pounced, her two paws nearly engulfing the creature's body. It waved it claws in vain, unable to reach its attacker. Dragon Child, having never seen a scorpion before, batted the creature with one paw, narrowly missing being stung by the tail.

The creature slid a couple of feet across the floor before it caught its balance. It faced her, its legs curled underneath it, claws forward, tail up and ready. Dragon Child knew an offensive posture when she saw one and she responded in kind. Some instinct told her that this creature was not quite prey. Haunches wriggling, she launched herself at the creature. This time, she felt a sharp pain in her side as the creature's tail lashed forward at her.

Growling low in her throat, hackles raised, she extended her claws, and attacked once more. She found a niche in the animal's natural armor. Once latched on, she began prying at the armor until she had ripped the creature open. It twitched once, the tail almost striking again, before it died. Dragon Child gave it a final shake then dropped the carcass, still growling.

The pain in her side spread, fire and ice raced through her veins. She gave a plaintive mew as she laid down on the kitchen floor.

"That was Mom. She wants us to come over for dinner …" Peter's voice trailed off and he felt his face drain of blood at the sight of Dragon Child lying in a pathetic heap on the linoleum. As he rushed to her side, he noticed the dead scorpion and the now empty box. A portion of his mind - the cop side of him - filed the information away under "Attempted Assassinations" ( the file was getting a bit too big for his liking). The rest of his mind was focused on Dragon Child. Grabbing a towel from a nearby drawer, Peter gently wrapped the injured kitten up.

Using the lid of the box, he angrily shoved the scorpion back into the box. 'Lo Si might need to know what kind it is in order to treat her.'

Tenderly, he picked up the bundle, anxiously noting the rapid, shallow breathing. He raced for the door.

Part Two :

Lo Si was puttering with his herbs when he heard the screech of tires outside. Turning, he waited patiently, listening to the thunder of footsteps race up the stairs.

The door burst open, Peter entering in a whirlwind of panicked and breathless explanations. In the rush of words, Lo Si could make out the pertinent information. " ... Dragon Child ... dying ... scorpion ..."

Before Peter even caught his breath, Lo Si had whisked both bundled kitten and boxed arachnid into his work room. Peter followed, still gasping for breath. With care and the ease of long practice, Lo Si unwrapped both animals, making quick and decisive conclusions and a diagnosis. He began pulling various herbs out of jars and pouches.

The ancient apothecary directed Peter to prepare some water for a tea. While they waited for the water to boil, Lo Si, using a razor, carefully shaved around the wound in the kitten's side. He lanced the wound with a steady hand and a clear liquid seeped from the cut. The Ancient leaned down and placed his mouth around the wound, sucking the poison out and spitting into a bowl with careful deliberate motions.

To keep himself busy, Peter prepared the medicinal tea, aware that his hands were shaking. Done, he could do nothing but pace in agitation, back and forth across the room. His gaze never left the small bit of fluff on the worktable.

Lo Si worked quickly to draw as much poison from Dragon Child as he could. Finally, it felt like years to the anguished detective, the apothecary sat back with a sigh. Using the same herbs he had set out for the tea, he assembled a poultice and placed it on the swollen wound. He wrapped soft gauze around the cat's middle to hold it in place. He lined a nearby box with a soft towel and placed Dragon Child in it to keep her still. Taking a tiny spoon, Lo Si fed the tea to the kitten a few drops at a time. Once she had finished the last of the brew, the ancient apothecary spoke. "Now we wait, young Peter."

"Will she be okay?" Peter managed to choke out.

Lo Si turned and gazed into Peter's tear stained face. "You must have faith, young Caine. Her destiny has not yet been fulfilled."

Peter managed a slight smile at Lo Si's typically cryptic "encouragement." He moved over to Dragon Child's makeshift bed and stroked her soft fur. "You have to get better, baby," he murmured softly. "Please get better."

Lo Si left the young man alone in order to prepare another batch of medicine for the convulsions he knew would be coming later that night. He didn't want to tell Peter, as he knew the detective would need a clear mind while at work, but not all the poison was gone from the kitten's system. The medicine would help, but there was still a chance that the cat would not survive the night.

Lo Si returned to the room and gazed sorrowfully as Peter murmured assurances to the black kitten. He cleared his throat as he walked in. "Dragon Child will stay with me overnight. I will watch to make sure she is recovering well. You," he stabbed a finger at Peter, "will go to work with a clear mind. There is nothing else you can do and she will be fine with me."

"Yeah." Peter ran a shaky hand over his face. "I trust you, Lo Si."

The old priest winced inwardly.

Peter kissed Dragon Child's forehead and whispered, "Bye, sweetheart."

Lo Si shooed Peter out of the apartment and looked wearily over at the tiny cat. "It's going to be a long night."

Part Three ::

"I need you to find out anything you can about this box."

Detective Kermit Griffin raised a brow as Peter Caine came barging into his office, tossing a box on his desk.

"And why, oh impatient one, should this take precedent over the investigation into any one of many other Chinatown crimes?"

Peter stopped his pacing, his expression serious. "That package was sent to me today - no return address - containing a scorpion. I want to know who the sick s.o.b. is."

Kermit instantly came to attention, sitting up in his seat. "Explain."

Peter ran a shaky hand through his hair. "I got the package, but got a phone call before I could open it completely. Somehow, Dragon Child got it open. She killed the thing, but not before being stung. She's at the Ancient's now. I wanna know who did this."

Kermit grimaced inwardly at Peter's set expression. 'Someone's in for a world of hurt.' He grinned evilly as he reached for the box. 'Let's see who the lucky winner is.'

Examining the box, he scanned the emblem into the computer. "I'll do a global search, see if this shows up anywhere." Before he opened the box he shot Peter a look over his green shades. "The arachnid in here?"

Peter shook his head. "Lo Si has it."

Kermit lifted the lid and pulled the white padding out. Nestled at the bottom of the box was a card. "Hello. What have we here?"

Peter leaned over the desk, craning to see. "What did you find?"

"Looks like your mystery person left you a love letter." He flipped the card open.

"Humn. All it says is 'Happy Anniversary'."

"Happy anniversary?" Peter frowned, hazel eyes narrowed in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"

The computer's insistent beeping caught Kermit's attention. "Hold that thought. We'll get back to it. Looks like we've got three matches to that emblem." Kermit clicked on the first match and stifled a smile. "It's used as the signature for the Oakleaf, Minnesota Cub Scout Troop #124. I think we can safely check them off our list of suspects."

"I dunno, Kermit," Peter weakly joked. "Those cub scouts can be real deviants."

"Sure. I mean, look how I turned out," Kermit deadpanned. He clicked to the next suspect before Peter could splutter a reply. "Golden Leaf Tours up in Aspen."

Peter shook his head. "I don't think so. What's our last choice?"

"Golden Leaf Imports. Looks like they're a franchise jewelry store. They've got stores just about everywhere, even overseas." He scrolled down and clicked his tongue. "Well, well, well. It seems that Golden Leaf Imports once had a store here in town. Closed down a few years ago and the company never reopened it."

"Golden Leaf. Golden Leaf ..." Peter muttered. "That sounds familiar." He chewed his lip for a while, then headed for the door. "Hang on a sec. I'll be right back." The young man dashed across the squad room and down the stairs.

"Sure. I'm not going anywhere." Kermit shook his head, resigned to waiting until Peter returned. He tried to find more information on Golden Leaf Imports while he waited.

Lo Si made a new batch of medication. He settled on the floor, cradling the shaking kitten gently in his lap. Patiently, he spooned the medication down the kitten's throat. "Come on Dragon Child. You can fight this. You are strong and Peter needs you."

The black ball of fluff shuddered as another spasm wracked her small frame, but Lo Si was heartened when he felt a tiny lick upon the palm of his hand.

Fifteen minutes later, Peter reentered the office, a file clutched in his hand. "I thought Golden Leaf Imports sounded familiar. They were involved in one of my first cases with Kira."

Kermit took the offered file with a faint scowl. "Why wasn't this in the computer system?"

Peter shrugged. "They're so backed up down there. There's still a lot not committed to computer, yet."

"I'll have to see what I can do about that," was the vague threat. Kermit flipped open the file and began reading it.

As he read, he felt himself slip from a deep anger to an icy rage. The delivery of the scorpion had just moved from "harassment with intent to do harm" to "attempted murder." Kermit felt his mercenary instincts kick in at the threat to his friend, and he closed his eyes briefly struggling to control his emotions. He looked up at Peter, glad his shades hid the rage his eyes from the young man. "I didn't know you were allergic."

Peter nodded, his eyes on the floor as he continued his agitated pacing. "Yeah. Found out when I was still in the Temple. Pop and Ping Hai cured me then." He jerked his head in the direction of the file. "One of the perps had crashed into a tank of scorpions that were kept on the premises as some type of pet or mascot or something. When Kira and I attempted to apprehend him, he tossed a few at us, trying to keep us at bay." Peter's manner was detached. Kermit could tell that the incident had really shaken his young friend. "I got stung. Luckily, I was able to tell Kira what was wrong before I collapsed. Fell into a coma."

Kermit glanced over his shades at Peter. "How long?"

"Three days. Scared Paul half to death. See, I'd forgotten I was allergic, so he never knew. Kira's fast action was all that saved me, and even then it was a close thing."

The incident had been before Kermit had joined the police force, and his blood froze as he realized how close he had come to never working with the young detective. He swore to himself that they would find the s.o.b. that had done this.

The exhausted apothecary changed Dragon Child's bandages once again and was relieved to find them clean. 'At last. All the poison has been drawn from the wound. Her system is cleared, but I must watch that shock does not set in.' He wrapped the now sleeping kitten in a warm blanket and placed her in the bed he had prepared for her. 'Now we wait." He sat beside Dragon Child, petting the soft fur between her ears and listening to her breathing.

"The two men involved, Marcus Jorge and Anthony Tullis, are both still in prison for diamond and drug smuggling. But it seems Tullis has a brother on the outside." Kermit went through the police records and gave a low whistle. "Daniel Tullis has quite a rap sheet himself. Drug trafficking, fencing, and some forays into exotic wildlife."

"That would explain the scorpions. Let's give him a visit, shall we?"

Kermit pulled his weapon from the desk drawer and holstered it. "Oh, yeah."

The address they had found was to a low rent apartment complex on the low end of town. Kermit pounded on the door, but received no reply.

"Think he knew we were coming?" Peter bounced on the balls of his feet, looking ready to break down the door.

"Excuse me?" A voice behind them caught their attention. An older woman was peering at them from the apartment across the hall. "Are you looking for Mr. Tullis?"

"Yes, ma'am." Kermit flashed his badge. "We're with the 101st Precinct. Have you seen him recently?"

The woman relaxed her grip on the door, nodding her head. "Ambulance took him away early this morning."

Kermit and Peter exchanged glances. "Do you know what happened?"

"Not exactly. But they did have pest control show up soon after. Said something about scorpions." A phone rang somewhere in the depths of her apartment and she gave an apologetic shrug. "If you'll excuse me."

Peter blinked as the woman shut the door. "Scorpions? You don't think...?"

"Only one way to find out." Kermit lead the way back to the car.

The ambulance that had picked up Tullis had delivered him to the County Hospital.

As the two detectives entered the hospital, Kermit noticed a few nurses take one look at Peter, blanch, and head off in the opposite direction. "Interesting reaction you get, Pete."

Peter just rolled his eyes.

"If'n yer not injured, Detective. I'd like ta know why yer scarin' my staff." A diminutive red head came striding up to them, her green eyes flashing with a combination of annoyance and humor.

Kermit watched in amusement as Peter came to a dead stop, hands behind his back and rocking slightly on his heels, for all the world looking like a schoolboy being called to the carpet by the principal. "Kermit, I'd like you to meet Dr. Margret O'Conner. Maggie, this is my partner, Detective Kermit Griffin."

The woman looked him over then stuck out her hand, a smile upon her face. "It's a pleasure ta meet ya, Detective. I trust ye'll be able ta keep the lad in one piece. He canno' seem ta do it on his own."

Kermit grinned in reply. "I do my best."

She turned to Peter. "Now, since I don't see any holes in yer hide and ya don't look like ya've got a fever. D'ya mind tellin' me what brings ya to my neck of the woods?"

"Daniel Tullis. He was brought in earlier today. He's needed for questioning."

The doctor's smile faded and a sadness dimmed her eyes. "Ah, lad. I dunno how ta tell ye. The poor man came in, victim of massive scorpion stings. Seems his pets escaped their cage. I couldn't do anythin'. He'd been too long without medical attention. Died a few minutes after arrivin'."

"You sure it was Tullis?"

A brief flash of ire entered her eyes. "O'course I'm sure. One of the wee beasties hitched a ride inta the hospital. We nearly had a riot as everyone tried killin' it. Daniel Tullis died twenty-three minutes later."

Peter smiled a lopsided grin in apology. "Sorry, Maggie. Thanks for all your help."

She stared at him a moment, then her gaze softened. "Apology accepted, Caine. Just see it doesn't happen again." She shook hands with the two detectives. "I have me rounds ta attend do." She waggled a finger in Peter's face. "I don' want ta see ye in here again. Understood?"

Peter saluted. "Yes, ma'am."

She nodded curtly, smiled, and returned to her duties. Peter took a breath. "Guess that's that, then."

Kermit non-committedly grunted as the two left the hospital.

With a resigned sigh, Peter opened the car door. "I was really looked forward to hurting someone." He firmly shut the door.

Kermit walked around the car and softly agreed. "Oh, yeah."

Lo Si finally relaxed. Dragon Child was now truly out of danger and on the road to recovery. "I knew you would pull through, little one. You still have a long journey ahead of you and a destiny to fulfill."

Dragon Child opened on emerald green eye and regarded the small human as if to say, "Of course."

The End ( for now.)

Yes, we know that it's a bad idea to suck poison from a wound, but for the sake of the story... Oh and we did apply for and recieve a Creative License so don't flame us. VBG