Author's Note: I have been a long time fan of the musical CATS with Mistofolees being my favorite character. Something about the mischievous and mysterious cat sparked my imagination from the first, not to mention that very catchy song! Having seen the show 3 times now, and having had this story in my head for about the same number of years, I decided to leave my regular fandoms and tackle the Jellicle world. Despite the fact that I do not own them, (insert standard disclaimer here - they aren't my property yadayadayada don't sue me) I hope that I have done them proper justice. ~~~~~ Xanthia
The Other Side of Midnight
(A CATS fanfic)
by Xanthia Morgan
Mistofolees ached. Everywhere. Having spent a lot of time making his tricks look effortless, the other Jellicles had no idea how much energy it took to perform magic. Especially magic on the level of what he'd done tonight. He still wasn't sure exactly how he'd managed to pull Old Deuteronomy away from Macavity's clutches but he had. And he was going to pay dearly for it in a couple of hours. The magician groaned aloud just thinking about it.
First would come the aching muscles of a body that had been pushed to the physical limit. He knew the other cats would laugh at that. They thought it was all arm waving and hand gestures. Little did they know that every muscle was taut with the effort it took to control the immense amount of energy that raged through the small tom's body when he used magic. He could always count on a few pulled muscles on top of the general ache. Next would come the insatiable hunger. Ironically, any food he ate inevitably make its own magical reappearance shortly thereafter. His overloaded metabolism just couldn't handle anything stronger than light broth. Finally, "my personal favorite," he thought sarcastically, was the bone crushing fatigue. Most of the time a good long nap would cure the feeling but tonight's work would result in a sleep bordering on unconsciousness lasting at least two full days. He would consider himself lucky if he didn't pass out before reaching home. As it was, his reserve strength was sapping rapidly and all he was doing was sitting on a box, waiting for the others to leave so they wouldn't see him stumbling home.
"Mistofolees." So depleted were senses that the raspy voice startled him.
The Rum Tum Tugger smiled with wry amusement. "Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you."
The tuxedo cat only snorted at the larger tom's apology. It was a rare day that anyone could sneak up on the Magical Mr. Mistofolees and the Tugger was enjoying the moment. "Is there something I can do for you, Tugger?" he asked, trying hard to be polite when all he really wanted was to be left alone.
"Old Deuteronomy asked me to see you home."
The magical cat studied the Tugger carefully but could see no sign that he was joking. Still he, had to ask. "He what?"
"He's concerned that you might have overdone it tonight and wants me to make sure you get home okay." Tugger watched the reaction on the magicians face and cut him off when he saw the denial in the dark eyes. "I know what you're going to say so don't bother. You're a grown tom, yes we all know that, but you stretched yourself to the limit tonight and while others may not realize what it takes out of you, Old Deuteronomy does. And so do I. And the three of us know that you'll be lucky not to fall flat on your face three blocks from the junkyard. Hence, the escort. So you have two choices. You may tell me to go to hell, a trip which I might actually enjoy, and go home alone in which case I will just follow you. Or you can let me help you. Either way, you're stuck with me."
Mistofolees wasn't quite sure what to say. Or do. It might have been his tired mental state, for he was seldom at a loss for words, or it might have been the sincerity in the Tugger's tone. The large tom was actually concerned for him. He knew they were friends, as much as Tugger considered any competition for the queens a friend. But he realized in this moment that the Tugger actually cared. It was heartening if not a bit disconcerting. And there was something else, too. Something that nagged at the fringes of his frayed thoughts. "There's something more," he said, looking at the Tugger with narrowed eyes, trying to open his mind to the thought that was trying to form. At last the synapses found relays. "You think there's danger for me. You think Macavity will try and avenge his foiled plan."
The Rum Tum Tugger nodded. "It's a very real possibility. He can't be terrible happy about what happened. You stole his prize right from under his nose. Old Deuteronomy and I both think it's for the best that you not walk home alone."
The small black tom sighed. He couldn't argue with them. It seemed plausible. "All right," he agreed. "I agree to the bodyguard. But if you tell anyone . . . " he let the threat hang.
Tugger raised his hands defensively. "I know. I know. You'll turn me into a mouse and feed me to Bustofer Jones. You've been using the same threat for a year. You really ought to think of something new."
Mistofolees only smiled and uncurled himself from the boxtop. He stood and swayed, realizing that he had less strength than he thought. He felt Tugger's steadying hand on his arm and was suddenly glad for the company on the long walk home.
"Mistofolees! Mistofolees!" Demeter's voice was edgy with concern. "Can I speak with you for just a moment?"
The magician turned toward her and smiled. "Of course, Demeter. What can I do for you?"
"It's Munkustrap. He didn't want me to say anything," she looked around to be certain she wouldn't be overheard, "but he's still bleeding from one of the slashes Macavity gave him. Could you . . . ?" Her voice trailed off. The tribe had discovered early on in Mistofolees magical career that along with the ability to produce pretty blue sparks, came a slight but latent ability to heal small wounds. Nothing miraculous but those pretty sparks could stop bleeding quite quickly as he had, unfortunately, had to prove more than once. He had sworn long ago that he would use this ability to help anyone who asked it of him so he smiled at Demeter and was about to ask her where Munkustrap was when the Tugger pulled at his arm. "This isn't a good idea, Mistofolees," he hissed quietly so Demeter wouldn't hear. "You haven't the strength. Tell her . . . "
"Tell me what?" Demeter asked, her sharp ears pricking at his whispered words.
"Tell you," Mistofolees said gently with a quieting glance at Tugger, "that you should lead the way."
Demeter smiled with relief and motioned for them to follow her. Tugger glared at Mistofolees but the tuxedo cat ignored him. His displeasure at the older tom's objections did not, however, prevent him from leaning heavily on Tugger's offered arm. He would take strength where he could get it at this point.
It didn't take them long to reach Munkustrap. He was lying in the trunk of a car, leaning against an old pillow that Demeter had 'borrowed' from home several months before. "Demeter!" he said sharply when he saw who was with her. "I told you I was fine."
"I know you did," she said sweetly. "And I'm sure you think you are. On the other hand, I know better so be quiet and let Mistofolees take a look at your side."
Munkustrap protested loudly for a moment then sighed as he caught the look on his mate's face. He wouldn't win this one and he knew it. "Oh, all right," he grumbled. "Just get it over with."
Mistofolees smiled tiredly and examined the long gash. "Hold still, Munk. This won't take but a second." Mistofolees took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He turned his thoughts to the deep place within himself where the magic lay; dormant now, depleted. He took another deep breath and summoned the magic. Sluggishly, it responded. He concentrated harder. Only Tugger noticed the thin sheen of perspiration on the magician's brow as he pulled at the magic, willing it to come forward. Another deep breath and the magic responded, filling him with artificial strength. Blue sparks jumped off his fingertips and he opened his eyes and focused his energy on the oozing gash
on Munkustrap's side. Healing of this type was delicate and required intense concentration and an accurate aim. His dark eyes widened as his mind saw the bleeding veins and capillaries that lay hidden deep in the wound. Mistofolees forced the magic into a razor thin beam and fired.
Blue lightening shot out from his fingertips and Munkustrap jumped and howled as the sparks entered the painful cut. So intent on Munkustrap was Electra and Munkustrap on his own discomfort that only the Tugger saw the grimace of pain that contorted the small tom's face as the magic was released. Only the Tugger saw the small puffs of smoke that wafted off the glittering fingertips.
"Growltiger's ghost, boy! Warn me next time, would you!" Munkustrap gasped as the glittering sparks faded away.
But the magical cat didn't hear him. He was gone.