First time in this fandom. O'Malley's view, perhaps slightly Out of Character, but ah, well.

A State of Oddness: To Belong

There was something about this house he never got used to, O'Malley thought, padding on silent feet through the quiet of the hall.

The elderly lady was partaking of her afternoon lie-down, Duchess curled at the end of the bed. The children were napping, save for Toulouse, who was busily swiping with paint at a canvas, putting on the finishing touches, as he called them, before he too gave into the lethargy of the warm afternoon.

Thomas was left to pace through the rooms. They were disturbing, in their own way. Comfortable; well beyond anything he'd known before. Warm and bright and airy. The cats were allowed on furniture, provided with beds and surfaces, and anything else that they might ever want. And all of it seemed too neat to him, enough that it still occasionally prickled his fur on-end, and made him long half-heartedly for the seamy streets he'd ruled not so long ago.

What was he doing here, a big, homely Irish mouser, who'd spent more of his life in boats than on dry land, and had made a living and reputation taking on rats, dogs, and anything else. He was at home in the rougher parts of life, where conflict was solved with hissing and claws, biting and scratching, and food was for the smart and the strong to take. What was he doing in this big, beautiful house, with a pretty little female who gazed at him with all sorts of warm, inexplicable things in her deep blue eyes, with three wonderful kittens who tumbled after him with admiration and hero-worship and the Everlasting Cat only knew what else babbling from their little mouths? It couldn't be right, he though; it certainly didn't make sense.

He was here, he knew, due to a trick of fate. A chance, so slim he'd have missed it if he'd lingered too long on the stroll along the waterway, or been in more of a hurry. If Marie hadn't fallen from the milk truck, if Mousey—alright, alright, Rocheford, he knew it—hadn't come after him.

No, he thought, pausing outside the heavy kitchen door, cracked slightly to allow the circulation of air and wandering cats. Opposite the door lay the heavy black iron stove, the one Duchess and her kittens had so recently been imprisoned in. No, whispered some part of him that was cat, attuned to the stranger depths and heights of the world just beyond corporeal. It might have been fate, but it was no trick.

He belonged here. It was right, it even, almost, made sense. He wasn't an aristocrat, or the feline equivalent, and he never would be, but he belonged just as surely as Duchess's elderly charge.

Tom O'Malley was a scrapper, a ship cat used to eating rats that rivaled him in size for breakfast, able to survive in the feral Paris back alleys, born and bred in rough Dublin, arrived by way of London's stews, Bangkok's docks, and dozens of other ports.

Who better, he wondered now, padding again through the drawing room where the kittens slept, and leaping lightly onto the seat of an overstuffed chair a mere foot from where Toulouse, Marie, and Berlioz slept, to protect these charming, trusting aristocats?

He settled in the softness of the chair, curling tail neatly around folded paws, and let himself doze, waiting until the house woke again, and his other roles—father, lover, playmate, helpmeet—were called upon.

And Duchess, arriving not so many minutes later, smiled to look upon her family, all asleep and cozy in the warmth of the afternoon.