Dragged down by the growth of his winter coat and the current, Alonzo gasped for what he was sure would be his last breath of air before going under entirely. So this was it? This was how the king of the streets would meet his maker? Forever remembered not as a victim of the ginger monstrosity his patrol chased out of the territory, but as a victim of his own rash stupidity and mutilations... The harlequin decided he'd lived a fair life for a feral, he had five kits to continue his blood line and knew what it felt to be loved by the full heart of a queen, something so many ferals denied themselves with their classical loner nature.

Tattered ears twitched to the warnings of the others before his dive into the murk.

"No, Daddy! You could drown!" George wailed, tiny white paws pushing into his stomach, desperately trying to stop him.

Coricopat snarled,"Don't be an idiot, you can hardly walk on that paw, how do you expect to swim? Let him go!"

"Lonzo, think about Cassie, your new litter, what's happen to them if you were gone? Think Lonz, you can't risk leaving them!" Munkustrap tried, forever the worrisome family cat.

Alonzo pushed them away, "I know the risks, but didn't you see? He had a kit! What kind of cats would we be if we let Macavity go with a child? Who knows what he'll do with it! I have to try, let me try!"

Munkustrap reluctantly stepped aside, cobalt blue eyes drowning Alonzo with their constant look of worry. The feral moved away from the pets, launching himself towards the water's edge.


"Daddy! Dad!"

Alonzo opened his eyes, weakly paddling against the current, trying to pull himself back to the surface of the water, the muffled cries of his terrified kits sparking the old flame for survival in his weary bones. His lids grew heavy, joints cold and stiff. It was foolish to fight it, there was no escaping the hungry depths. Something tugged at his nape, pulling him from the darkness. Ha, take that Bast! You can't have me yet! Alonzo closed his eyes, kicking down the black water to aid his rescuer until his limbs gave to his exhaustion and stopped working entirely.

Munkustrap dug his teeth deeper into the nape of his slipping bi-colored friend, "Bast you're heavy," he grunted, sinking further below the water, it took everything he had to keep their heads out of the water. Finally, his claws scrapped the bottom of the river, soon his pads could lay flat against the rocks and sand, but he refused to let his grip on Alonzo's limp body to slack until they had reached the shallowest of the shallows. Shaking out his ears, the silver tabby looked down at him, murmuring, "Lunatic..." he hit him in the ribs, knowing water had replaced the air in the lungs of the feral.

Plato and George barreled over, "Daddy!" they cried, jostling the lanky Coon mix out of the way.

Plato pressed his nimble paws into his father's ribs, "Daddy? Daddy wake up!" he sniffed, shaking him.

Nuzzling his nose into his cheek, George looked up at Munkustrap, "M-Mr. Munk Dad isn't waking up..." the eldest of the pair lowered his ears, distressed but trying to be brave for his little brother.

"You're father's fine, I promise. I just need to get the water out of him and he'll be right as rain," Munkustrap purred, uncertain as he nosed Plato away from the body.

George coiled around Plato, combing gentle claws through his spiky head fur, "Mr. Munk said Dad will be okay, don't worry," he hugged his red mantled brother, watching Munkustrap work on their father.

Sputtering water onto Munkustrap, Alonzo opened his eyes, just barely able to make out his surroundings.

"He's waking up," the Protector said softly, crouching to eye level with the tom, bracing himself against the kits inevitable scramble to greet their father one he was fully conscious.

George slammed into the classic tabby, "Hi Dad!" he chimed with a grin.

"Nugh...hi George..." Alonzo rolled onto his belly, flattening his waterlogged ears and spitting up the last of the water caught in his lungs, "Where-" Plato jumped onto him, hugging him tightly, "-where's the kit? Did he? Does...Everlasting, did I fail?"

Munkustrap nuzzled his cheek, "Don't worry, Cori's got him."

Shifting under the weight of his kits, Alonzo's emerald eyes scanned the bank for the Rex tom. He spotted the curly coated psychic shaking off dainty paws with step in the ankle deep shallows, tiny black bundle of fur held tightly between white jaws. Winding his way back to the waiting patrol, Coricopat shot Alonzo an icy glare, vainly flicking water from gradually curled ears. Coricopat placed himself firmly beside the other adults and dropped his cargo, quickly shaking his already drying fur out.

"Next time you decide to go for a swim, don't. I'm all wet now," sniffed the Rex indignantly.

Alonzo rolled his eyes, forcing himself to his feet, staggering were he stood on three legs, "Oh, I'm so sorry, here I'll trade you one bad paw for your wet pelt."

Coricopat sneered, pinning his ears and turning his head away from the mangled fore-paw shoved in his face, "Tis your own fault for messing around with a Doberman," he picked at his claws boredly.

"Rrrr, I wasn't messing with it! I had- I was doing my job!"

"What job was that? Second Protector or rover?"

"Wh-what? Mind repeating that, soft paws?" Alonzo rounded his shoulders.

"I never repeat what I know has been heard," stated the lean tom, looking to the still black ball at their feet, "Is it alive?" he asked Munkustrap who was busily grooming it against the fur.

The First Protector didn't reply, too focused on his task.

George looked up at icy eyed adult, "I think so...Mr. Munk is restarting his lungs, I think..." the grey and white harlequin turned to Plato who merely shrugged in return.

Four pairs of expectant eyes watched their patrol leader, some nervous, one could have really cared less for the strange smelling runt. There was something wrong with it, Coricopat could sense that it wasn't a normal everyday kit, however, as long as he was separated from his sister, his powers were only at half their capacity disallowing him to discern just what was off about the kit.

"Mew..." the kit coughed, rubbing its cheek against Munkustrap's dark paw.

Smiling, the tabby brushed his crooked nose over its fragile frame, "There you go little buddy, that's what we like to hear."

"Are we taking it back to the Yard or are we going to look for its mother?" Coricopat asked, hoping for the latter.

"We're taking him to the Yard, aren't we Daddy?" Plato asked.

Alonzo sighed, "That's up to Munk, Plats."

"So...we're bringing him back to the Yard?" George asked, pupils expanding til his eyes were black pools.

Munkustrap rose to his feet, "Yes kittens, we're taking him back to the tribe," he knew the chances of finding the mother alive were slim and he wouldn't risk handing him over to the first queen to claim maternity of the kitten and risk him going into the the kitten trade, who knew where he'd end up then. With his ears pinned against the excited exclamations of the youngest members of the patrol, he took the runt up in gentle jaws, leading the way back to the safety of the Yard.