My mother was the one person in my life who I always believed would be there the next day. What I mean is, she was kind hearted, lovely, and was the most selfless and caring person I knew. Even more than my dad. Even more than Chance. My dad was a chemistry teacher at the university, and even in my dreams as a kitten I was convinced something in his lab room would blow up, and he wouldn't be there anymore. Chance could never contain himself away from a fight. He would be in the hospital in no time. That I was sure of.
My mother died in October, a week before my twelfth birthday. She was murdered on a street corner by an orange and black kat, who was never seen or heard from again. She was only thirty years old, too young to die still in my eyes. Every month since then my father and I have gone to the funeral, and when he was bond to a wheelchair years ago, it was me that went and me alone.
That's where the beginning starts. With Mistake one…never go alone, no matter how much knowledge you have, or karate you posses, a gun wins. Will always win. The best thing to do is run. Even if you thing you can take the mugger, just run.
Chance was out on a date, with Felina Feral. Her uncle didn't know, and that was probably for the best. Unless Chance wanted to die early, the best thing was to not tell anyone on the force. They had been together for almost eight months, and he was contemplating on proposing. I was alone in the shop, and work had been slow. Callie would pick up her car in the morning, nothing was on TV, and with much needed groceries and a list waiting on the fridge; I got up from the couch, turned off Littermen, and left with the paper in one hand, and my wallet and keys in the other. My phone was charging:
Mistake two…never leave to go anywhere without your phone. No matter how many game, apps or anything that's on your phone, the basic tool (calling) is the best thing on it. It will get you very far.
I jumped in the work truck and started the engine. I cursed myself for not filling up the gas before. More money spent, more money lost that we desperately needed to fix the leaky pipes in the hanger. The car roared to life and I backed out of the salvage yard and onto the highway that lead to MegaKat Market.
"Let's see, milk cans…check," I pulled the six pack of milk from the shelf and drove the buggy to the next item on the list. "Cheese…check," I grabbed the cheese, the cheapest kind I could find. The more money we saved the better. As I went and got Chance's favorite snack, double stuffed Oreo's, I marked off cheese and "PLEASE I'LL GO INSANE WITHOUT ME OREO'S!" on the list. Another half hour went by, and I got the last thing I needed. Flowers…it had been a month, exactly. I grabbed my mother's favorite, white roses. I sighed as I watched them bob up and down in the cart. Another ten minutes, and I was leaving the check out line and began stuffing the last bit of money in my wallet outside.
Mistake three…put your money back in your wallet right when you get out of the check out line. Waving it around for anyone to see draws attention. Unwanted attention.
That's when things changed. Sometimes your mind starts to remember the oddest things. Sometimes it's also the things that catch your attention the most. It's why I learn by heart all of Chance's fights as kids and how he won them (Usually it was the noggie or the stuffing them into the soccer net). This was one of those randomly remembered moments that I'm almost glad I didn't forget.
I heard loud, fast footsteps coming from my left. I didn't really notice it and didn't at all care as I began putting groceries in the truck bed. I warmed my hands a little. It was fall and starting to get colder, which in turn meant hot days and chilly nights. I had most of the food unloaded from the cart when the footsteps stopped, but they were close to me. That's not what made me immobilize; it was the sudden feeling of cold metal to the back of my head. All my thoughts rushed to me, none were exactly clear but one, there was a gun on me.
Mistake four…never freeze up to anyone. Ever. It's hard, truly it is. But showing someone fear is the last thing you want to do with a pistol hanging on your life. Even as a Swat Kat, you still get scared when a gun is pointed to you. Your heart still races and you blood still goes cold as the pressure of the metal tightens every muscle in your body. Just don't show it.
"Give me your money," a strangely familiar voice demanded. "All of it!"
"I don't have any left," I lied. I saved some for gas money, but hell like I would tell him that. "I do have money, but it's for driving myself to the hospital after you blow up my head!" I thought. Dear God that would suck.
"Don't give me that bull, I just watched you put two twenties in you wallet!"
"Its gas money, my tank is almost empty!" Crap, why did I tell him anyways? I cringed the more I reflected what I stupidly said. Damn, now I'm really screwed.
'I don't care!" he quaked. My fears eased a little, this guy was afraid, like me. He sounded so familiar, who was he? Was he alone? As a hand grabbed for my wallet in my back pocket, I sprung into action.
Back to mistake one. Should have ran…
I grabbed an arm, and kicked him in the gut, knocking him to the ground. The gun rolled, but not far away from him. He was indeed alone, and as the bag I had full of milk and cheese fell to the ground and milk burst, he lifted his head.
Mistake five (which goes along the lines of four)…never let your guard down, not even for a split second. It was Hard Drive, or at least, him with no suit. His blondish, brownish fur was tangled and dirty. His clothes reeked of cigarette smoke and garbage cans. He stared at me in shock, and reacting before I did, grabbing the gun and pointing it at me. He quaked and stammered, which about made it worse than if he would have just shot me and left. It made me feel bad for him; he obviously hadn't done this before. Or at least, not with someone who looked (slightly, I'm a little built) like they could fight back. I got up slowly, arms in the air. I wanted to do absolutely nothing that would want to make him connect that gun to my face. Not a mistake. He rubbed one of his sweaty palms on his jeans, and held the gun with the other. Then he took the hand that was free and stuck it out for my wallet.
I ended pinned to the truck; no way could I run faster than he could shoot. I kept my hands up in defense, and he started slowly inching towards me.
"That's right, just…just hand over the money and it will all be fine," he stuttered. He was scared, sweat came more off of him like he was nervous, and it proved it as the gun trembled in his dirty hand. He came closer; pointing the pistol at me as he picked up my wallet from the ground next to my foot. When he began to come up though, I grabbed his shoulders and kneaded him, he dropped the wallet, but the gun fired…into me.
Last mistake…prepare yourself for the greatest pain in your life, it could happen anytime, or anywhere. The throbbing that came next was unbearable. I was deafened by the sound as my sight faded in and out. I fell to my side; blood trickled from my mouth as I took my hand off my stomach and purple shirt. "My shirt was blue, how was it purple now?" I thought. Almost instantaneously I connected where I was shot, and why my shirt was sticky, wet, and dark purple. Hard Drive was knocked back and gasped, dumbfounded at what he had just done. My life would be over soon, I was still in my twenties; my life had not been fully lived yet! I never got to say goodbye to my dad, or to the one I loved so much, Callie Briggs! I never told Burk and Murray I hate their guts with a passion, and I never told Dark Kat the same! I was never going to tell Chance he was my best friend, and he kept me sane in an insane world of evil villains and cruel fate. Like the one I was facing. I screamed out in pain, but no one but a single soul was hearing it. My abs (if I had any) were burning like fire. It was like... a really, really bad stomach cramp is the best way to describe it. Hard Drive shook his head, and starting freaking out, in turn, freaking the hell out of me. He had by no means meant to really shoot me. That I saw in his eyes; he was merely trying to scare me. It worked too; I was beyond scared out of my mind. I was…not breathing very well, losing focus slowly, and in so much agony. I just stared at the sky, the stars, and the moon. It was getting darker." If it gets darker instead of brighter does that mean you're going to hell, not heaven? Great, this is the taste, and that's hell? Damn…I'll die in there…" I pondered. He crawled over to me and panicked more. He didn't know what to do. And if none of us did anything soon, I wouldn't last much longer.
"I don't know what to do!" he raged at himself. "I never really meant to shoot!" He grabbed his head and pulled some fur out as he sobbed, blubbering and shaking.
"Please, I need help…" I managed. Why would he help? He's was so caught up in self pity I didn't think he would. I was wrong.
"I just shot, shot you! How do I he-help after that?" he quaked. "Do you have a cell phone?" he planned.
"Back at where I live," I heaved out, countering his idea. He cursed at himself. He searched around, no one was there. I could see as he faced the store contemplating on going in there and asking for help, but I also knew that no one would believe him. He grabbed the gun and threw it and my wallet in the car. He swallowed and began picking me up. I cringed as my wound ached even more so than when I was on the ground. He set me in the passenger seat and ran over on the other side to my wheel. He took a few deep breaths and realized when he reached for the ignition, no keys.
"Keys?" he asked me. I cringed, and took them out of my pocket with my blood covered hand. He didn't care at all of the red stickiness as he drove away from the store, leaving the GOT TO HAVE OREO's and rest of the grocery shopping behind us.
"Please tell me you're not taking me to some highway to dumb me off," I sort of joked. Of the list of the people you should not be joking with when you are in the car bleeding to death with, number six or seven would be Hard Drive. One reason being he just got out of a two year term in prison for robbing a bank. Two, he was a criminal and a nut-ball at times. And three, he didn't seem like the kind of person who wouldn't panic and do something totally stupid and dash. That's the main one I was worried about, but apparently, I'm not as good of a character analysis as others like Chance. I clung to my stomach tighter as we hit a pothole.
"To the hospital!" he exclaimed. I closed my eyes and tried to breath, I could imagine Chance was having a good old time with Feral's niece right about now. We made it further and further near, it seemed like it took forever to get there. Maybe that was the numbing pain and me.
"What's your name?" He swallowed, still trying to focus on the road. If we got pulled over, which we certainly might have due to his 80 over a 60 speed limit.
"Jake Clawson," I managed. My head fell back and all I could do was stare up. This was it; this was what dying was like. The world was slowing down more, my senses fading rapidly.
"Shit, Jake! Hold on, I'll have to carry you!" I didn't quite comprehend what he said as I was lifted up into arms. I truly believe an angel was picking me up, until I was flung over his shoulder. Then it was confirmed when I began to bounce, and I moved forward, not up. I dared open my eyes; I was facing (upside-down) a big white building between his legs. Kind of awkward, but the moment, who the hell cared? "I have to carry you a little ways, you needed gas you igit!" Then everything completely left me, feeling of every limb, thoughts, sight, hearing, disappeared like the wind had carried it away.
Meanwhile in an Italian place outside the hood…
"Chance this place is great! Why haven't I ever heard or it?" Felina commented as she took another bite out of mushroom ravioli.
"Daren and Son's Italian restaurant is sort of a neighbor joint. I used to live here, remember? I still won't forget when I brought Jake here the first time. When he first saw Callie and spilt his drink all over her white skirt. How he went to a whole new shade of red when she looked at him, priceless pissed off face!" Chance laughed.
"You know she really likes him now, why do you think she always comes and complains something is wrong with the car when it's just nothing? Or for an oil change she doesn't need? To look at you, cause you ain't much to look at!" she smiled.
"Thanks very much, love you too," he slumped back in his car. "Does she care for Razor too?"
"If she had to choose, it would be him," Chance just smiled as he processed this and took a drink of water. Chance had drooled over the pretty blonde girl across Jake's street all his life. One day Felina saved him from Viper and he realized something, he didn't like to be saved. He did everything he could to save her from then on, to get even. That day came when the Pastmaster reared his ugly zombie head again. He blushed a little as he remember her thanking him and giving him a hug, asking him in a whisper to meet her on the Enforcer's Headquarters' roof at midnight. Their first kiss, he told her who he really was, and it went on from there. He loved her, and always would. He cared for her like he cared for Jake. As family, at least, he wished she could be, soon hopefully. "Chance, are you okay?" Felina asked. He shifted the ring in his pocket, that was another problem all on its own. How to propose and not look totally stupid. What if she said no? I mean, what if she wasn't ready?
"Oh course, why wouldn't I be?" he questioned shaking his head mentally.
"You seemed like you just stared into space and left Earth for a minute there,"
"Just thinking about when I saved your life,"
"After I saved yours?" she mocked. He grinned and they didn't say a word again for a few minutes. They were simply enjoying the company of each other and the delicious meal in front of them. "So what play are we seeing again-" Felina started snickered as Ice, Ice Baby played silently, but enough that she could hear, totally interrupting what she was asking. He shot her a look and then a confused one as he looked at the number on the phone. "Who is it?" she inquired, noticing his peculiar glare.
"The hospital…Jake!" he panicked. He quickly answered and excused himself as he ran outside. Felina grabbed two to-go boxes and hastily paid for the food. She made it outside the restaurant fearing the worse for Jake. Did the garage burn down? Did he go out on his motorcycle and crash? He was smart enough to wear a helmet at least right? His appendix burst last month, was it more health problems? Or worse, was he already dead? Then another thought popped into her head. Was it even for Jake; was it Chance's mother who four months ago had a heart attack? Was it his uncle, Warren, he cared for so much, even more than step-dad? When she made it out the door he had just hung up the phone. He looked scared and his maroon button up had a few darker spots on it from tears. She then feared the worst… she comforted him as he covered his mouth with his right hand. "What happened? Was it your mother, or-"
"Jake," he cut her off. "He was mugged in front of MegaKat Market. Shot in the stomach, someone drove him in the work truck to the hospital. The guy that drove him told the doctor he doesn't know who did it; the poor kat just heard a gun and the guy ran off scared. He didn't even take his wallet. He's in surgery right now, they said a bunch of words I didn't quite understand but basically, he's bleeding to death on the inside and out and he might not make it. The bullet hit important stuff, and it's still in there," he cried. She gasped.
"We have to get over now, I'll drive!" he nodded as he got in the passenger side of her sports car. He was shaking with fear and gridding his teeth. A habit he had once stopped, but manages to sneak into his system when fear overtakes him. It wasn't often, but in a few occasions, like today, it did. She tapped her finger on the wheel and drove as fast as the speed limit would let her to the hospital.
At the hospital…
It seemed forever Hard Drive waited for results. He lied and told them he was walking in front of the grocery store when he heard a gun. He ran to the commotion and found the kat falling to the ground and another cat in a ski mask run off. He said he didn't know who he was and rushed him to the nearest hospital. He sighed; he was still shocked they believed him. But there was something that bothered him, and if it weren't for that, he might not be here. If it was someone he didn't know, a complete and utter stranger, he would have ran. Just like his best friend did when he shot a lady when he was nineteen. He knew Jake Clawson; he was an ex-enforcer with an unmatchable aim. That was how they nailed Hard Drive. He cursed his name the first time he ever went to jail. If the two hadn't grabbed him with a missile, similar to that of a spider missile of the Swat Kats, he would have gotten away. Come to think of it, he thought, he looked a lot like one of the Swat Kats. Razor he thought, was that the Swat Kats name? He was almost certain they were the same person, or at least could possibly be brothers. He never thought before hand about if he had siblings. Or parents…they must all be scared right now. When he found out that him and his partner were fired after almost catching Dark Kat and destroying Enforcer Headquarters, he cheered. Well, he thought, he wasn't cheering anymore. Jake Clawson seemed like a pretty nice kid, one someone would be proud of. In his early twenties it seemed, very keen, sharp, and obviously younger than him. He rubbed his hands threw his hair. He needed a shower, he hadn't bathe since he got out of jail, and that was weeks ago. He hadn't changed clothes, brushed his hair, brushed his teeth or anything in a long time it seemed.
The doors to the emergency room burst opened as a burley blonde tom ran in, Lieutenant Felina Feral in a black dress and heels behind him. The tom was in a maroon button up shirt, black slacks, and he was trembling from crying. So had she. That must be Chance Furlong he noted. He stood up and tensed, realizing what Chance was probably thinking. If he saw him, Hard Drive, evil villain, he would never believe his lie the doctors so quickly did. He gulped as they ran to the desk where a lady pointed them to him. He covered his head, but when they ran to him, he had no choice.
"Is Jake okay?" Felina asked anxiously. He lifted his head dawdling, and both kats were not so much scared anymore, but angry.
"I don't know how he is, they took him away and made me explain what happened," He pleaded.
"And what did happen?" Chance spat. He told his lie, giving every detail he told the others. They took it as the truth, because it was the only thing they had. They spend the rest of their date in the emergency room lobby with him. Chance fiddling with something in his pocket for hours until another kat greatly older and in a wheelchair veered over towards them. "Mr. Clawson!" Chance exclaimed. The other tom was the same red coloring as his son, but with blinding white hair on top and a white fur spot on his left arm. He was in sheer panic mode scanning all of them for anything. When Mr. Clawson's eyes settled on the unfamiliar face of Hard Drive, the dirty tomkat stood up to meet the one he shot's dad.
"Are you the one who saved my son, Jake?" Mr. Clawson begged. Hard Drive nodded and shook his hand he offered. "I'm Fredrick Clawson. I want to thank you so much for saving my son. Do you need a place to stay?" he suggested. Hard Drive refused, taking his hand back and shoving into his pocket.
"Are you alright?" Felina spoke up towards the dad.
"I was woken up at ten o'clock at night from a dead sleep to a phone call from the hospital telling me my only son has been shot by a random robber wearing a ski mask, who ditched and even forgot his wallet. On top of that is in critical condition about to be put into surgery. I had to get a cab to drive me three hours back to Megakat City Hospital from a wedding I was attending the next day. Sorry to be frank Ms. Feral, but I am not alright," It was five hours later when the doctor came back. It was four o'clock in the morning and Felina had fallen asleep on Chance's shoulder. The dad was halfway reading a magazine on the latest stories. The doctor was slim, with solid black fur and no trace of any other color but his blue and velvet scrubs. His name tag read Dr. Niplin. He threw away his rubber gloves while Chance woke Felina up. He approached the quartet, taking a seat across Hard Drive and the dad, right next to the couple.
"He pulled through surgery well," all the kats sighed in relief, "But, we don't know if he when or if he will wake up. He has lost a lot of blood and will be in recovery for a while. The bullet hit exactly half and inch above his stomach, and that was very lucky for him. If it had damaged the organ, well, he might not have been so blessed," the doctor explained. Chance just nodded and Felina never moved. Mr. Clawson had his hand on his chin, the other in his lap taking in the news about his son. Hard Drive took slow, deep breaths as he processed all of it as well. The images of him and Jake fighting right before the blast plagued him. Him shooting Jake would always haunt him, but most of all, the point that if it was anybody else, he might not have saved them. He never fully understood why he saved someone he hated, because it was still someone he knew? He realized that what Jake did was right, he was doing his job. Putting bad guys in jail was what police were supposed to do; he couldn't hate him for that. He understood…
"So when do you think he will wake up doc?" Chance implored.
"Could be next week, could be tomorrow, it could be months before he comes around. No one really knows," the doctor monotonly explicated. "We just have to wait,"
"Can we see him though?" Felina questioned.
"But of course, just prepare yourself," They nodded and followed the doc to room 345. Two weeks had gone by and everyone had visited Jake that he knew. His dad came often, Callie, even Feral came. That was how he found out about Felina and Chance. With a huff he let it be, this was not the time or place for a fight. Jake's dad brought white roses, and after spending five whole days with his son, he had to go back to his teaching job at MegaKat University. Tests were coming up, and he had to prepare his students. Callie took her vacation days and stayed as long as she could. One day when she left, she kissed Jake on the mouth, only Chance saw when he was walking in and hid himself swiftly. He grinned and as Callie left, Chance came in with yet more flowers, the same as everyone else was told to bring.
"Hey buddy, I brought you more flowers. They're roses, I'll just set them down…" he sat them on a table with vases full of the same. "The garage started getting customers again. Yeah I know, the moment you're hurt is the moment I get piled up with a bunch of broken cars. Not that I mind! I mean…God Jake, what do I say? Never in a million years did I picture you getting hurt this way! I never pictured you getting hurt at all, ever! I just, never prepared myself. Jake, I can't lose you! You're a brother to me, one I didn't have. You were there for everything, when we went into the enforcers together, everything! I cant lose you, not this way, not any way! I couldn't take it!" he yelled. "What do I say, your dream girl just kissed you? Yeah, she did! Callie was just in here, holding your hand, and kissed you… on the mouth like you had always dreamed. Don't deny it, you talk in your sleep," he paused. "If you can hear me buddy, know we need you. I need you. I want to marry Felina, and you better be here to help me pick out a ring, and to be my best man, and to help raise my son, Chance Furlong Jr.! I just, want you here, not in a bed, in the hospital, could die at any moment, could never wake up…" he trailed. He grinded his teeth more and stuck out his hand and grabbed Jake's unmoving reddish paw. "Just squeeze my hand buddy, please?"
I heard every word everyone has every said to me in the past two weeks. But I could never answer. When Callie kissed me, I couldn't do anything but mourn in the blackness that surrounded me. Was that ever going to happen again? Probably not. Then Chance's voice came in like everyday. I had his hand, or rather he had mine. I tried so hard to squeeze it like he asked, but it was physically impossible. He let go after minutes went by and my hand had never moved. He heaved a heavy sigh and almost left out the door. "Chance no! Don't leave, please!" I beseeched, but only my mind could hear. I had to do something, anything. Arm, I command you to move! What the hell would that do? I tried again, it took all my willpower and strength, but I managed to move my arm the slightest bit.
"Jake?" Chance turned around. "Come on buddy, wake up, you can do it!" His paw had my hand again, squeezing the crap out of it. Again I tried to do even the least amount of whatever. The more and more I struggled, the more and more it became easier to move. My head was spinning though, I hadn't seen light in a few weeks, and the bright bulb blaring in my face was snow blinding me. "Doctor Niptin! Somebody? He's waking up!" Chance called excited. It made me think of the time where his bunny had babies and he wanted to tell the world. "Somebody, mommy? Mommy? Baxter is a girl, she had babies!" He smiled on the inside. "Jake, open your eyes, please?" he begged. The doctor rushed in, but there were more than his footsteps, someone was with him.
"Jake?" it was Callie.
"Is he okay?" that was Hard Drive; his cowering voice said it all. He was still sorry, and at the same time was still here. He must have lied and told them a different story than what really happened, because if he told them the truth, he would certainly not be here.
"Jake Clawson, can you open your eyes for me?" I tried, but I shut them back due to the lights. "Someone dim the lights on a lower setting please," I could tell the lights were dimming, even with closed eyelids. I once more open my eyes and I saw Chance, a black haired doctor, a female yellow furred nurse, Callie, Felina, and Hard Drive. I was so happy to see all of them a tear rolled down my cheek. I sniffed and wiped it away, chuckling a little. It was all Chance could do not to spring up an attack me with bear hugs. Callie gave me one anyways, and Felina panted me on the back as I tired desperately to sit up.
"You saved my life Hard Drive," I praised. Chance panted him on the back, almost knocking him over. Hard Drive smiled, but I could see it in his eyes, something was bothering him. The doctor put a light in both my eyes and signed off saying I was okay. I would have to stay in the hospital, just in case something did happen. Each day one person stayed with me the whole time. The first day it was Felina, who was off that day from work. The second day, it was Chance for the first half and the nurses the second due to a Viper attack. The third it was my dad. In two days I would be out, I was so glad to , but not happy to start working on cars again. We didn't talk much, and he got hungry a lot, but I was happy to see that he didn't have a complete panic attack and died on me. The nurses brought me food, and we ate together. Then we sparked up conversations about our favorite old cars, ancestors, my mom…then planes and the enforcers. Almost immediately he said something about how the Turbokat flies.
"And that guys aim, man, its out of this world!"
"How do you know it's only one?" I raised an eyebrow. He chuckled.
"How do you know it's not?" he cued for an intellectual convestsation, except he had missed already one important key factor this time.
"The Swat KATS?"
"Alright, alright, you win. So who are these kats, do they have names?"
"Razor and T-bone,"
"No last name? It was strange how yesterday only one came to save the city from Viper," I shrugged. My dad picked up his bottle of water, then turned his head to the side as if an epiphany had struck him like lightning. "Funny, we used to call you Razor for a nickname…for your pitching skills at baseball," it was his turn to raise an eyebrow as he scooted closer to look into my eyes. I drank my milk as I vainly covered my smile.
"Common nickname?" I suggested, after my milk was gone. He shook his head. He smiled and rubbed his temples.
"I can't believe it, my son is a Swat Kat!" he cheered, throwing his arms in the air.
"Are you mad?" I questioned. He gave me this are you absurd look and put his hand on my shoulders. "Son, why on Earth would I be mad? You're a Swat Kat, my own son…a Swat Kat…" his eyes got big as he took it all in. I ate an apple and chuckled. For years I had kept it a secret from my dad. I still kept it from Callie, or at least, until I looked at the door. My face went blank and I dropped the fruit on the floor, smashing it everywhere. It was Callie Briggs. I guess it was better than Feral. Callie wouldn't arrest me, but I don't think she would ever forgive me for keeping such a secret from her. The only reason she came in the first place was because I was her friend and she liked me. Would she still? Oh Lord, I would be cussing myself out for weeks if I screwed my chances up for not watching the damn door. She dropped her fast food bag on the floor and let the contents spill out everywhere. I gulped and my dad lowered his head."Uh, Callie…I can explain…"
"I've known you and Chance for years and you never told me you were the famous Swat Kats?" My dad and I both had our heads lowered like little kittens as she put her arms on top of her cranium.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, it was all I could do. At least I didn't have to keep it from her anymore, but it felt worse knowing how she found out.
"Hey guys, what's going on?" Chance barged in.
"You were a Swat Kat and you didn't tell me?" Chance dropped his flowers he had in his hand for me as his face went to pure nothing. He just stared at me, panicked and a little pale.
'Why didn't you tell me to run?" he mouthed at me, I just quenched my face and shrugged. Then clasping his hands and trying to keep calm in front of Callie, he soothed,"Uh, Callie, we had planned on telling you, just didn't know the appropriate time to…" She was not pleased. She gave both of us the evil eye and we both gulped at the same time. My dad was about to wheel away saying "Awkward…" Then she surprised us by bursting out laughing. We looked up and were in shook!
"I knew the Swat Kats the whole time and was stupid enough not to see it? Holy Kats!" she exclaimed. I sighed of relief and Chance sat down in shock. We started giggling and soon were where all laughing. My dad left soon, tomorrow was test day for his students and Chance left behind him. Just for the sake of me and Callie being alone and the loads of junk Burke and Murray plopped on our doorstep had to be cleaned up by nightfall.
"So you never knew we were the Swat Kats? Never guessed it either?"
"I mean, I guessed it a few times, it's just, it never really clicked. Your dad never knew either?"
"Nope," She grinned at that. "I can't wait to get out of this hospital,"
"Why?" she inquired.
"Because… helping Chance with the cars seems so much fun after this," I blushed, I was a real self-conscious kat, saying I actually wanted to see a movie with her, or even wanted to go out to eat with her was hard.
"Fine, day after you get out of this prison, if your not busy with Swat Kat stuff or being killed, we'll go see the new Superkat movie, it's suppose to be really good. That will get you a little more of a break." I was about to faint, did Callie just set up a movie date? "Pick me up, 7 a clock, Dodson Apartments, Building C, room 213, okay?" All I could do was nod like an idiot, she chuckled. She leaned in for a kiss, and I let her. The longer it lasted, the lower my jaw just dropped like a damn fool. When she was pulling back, I grabbed her arm, it surprised her at first, but she just grinned and leaned in again. I gulped, but took it in, wondering what Chance would be thinking if he saw me. In my whole life, I was never happier. She was the girl I drooled over day in and day out, and here she was, kissing me, for real! I wasn't dreaming, this was really happening! It continued and continued onward before she finally pulled back again, this time I was drowning in so much pleasure I felt like I was high, and I was giving this goofy look that I couldn't stop. She grabbed her food from the floor, which was now cold, and waved as she left. I smacked my head on the bed, did that really just happen? I kept asking myself that until I finally went to sleep, dreaming of her even more.
The last day was Hard Drive, and we had to do some talking. So far, he and Feral were the only ones that didn't know the big secret so far that we remotely cared about. I thought Hard Drive deserved to know at least. Chance said he was giving him a temporary place to stay at the garage. He looked different than the day he shot me on accident. He had bathed for once. His fur was more lightish blonde, than dirty brown the last time I saw him. His hair was combed and teeth brushed, a new clean shirt that must have been one of mine I don't remember. He had clean jeans and new tennis shoes that squeaked, He looked normal for the most part. Except his eyes, his eyes were strangely big, like he was hiding something, or had seen too much in his life. I didn't notice before, or ever. They were brown, dark brown like mud. When he came in I smiled, he only half did. He sat in the chair next to me and tapped his foot on the ground to an invisible rhythm. He was trying to find words to say, but they were lost, gone.
"I need to tell you something, but putting them into words seems a little harder than I though," he explained. I cocked my head to the side. "I know who you are," my heart stopped. He already knew my secret? Chance must have said something, "When you told me your name was Jake Clawson I wanted to stop and not take you to the hospital at all. But at the same time, I knew you and if I didn't, I don't think I would have saved you at all. You were in the enforcers and caught me trying to steel something I can't even remember now, and… I cheered when you were fired. I wanted to say I'm sorry for that. Then I saw you in the parking lot and I knew you from somewhere, but what bothers me is if I didn't know you, I might not have saved you, I would have ran like a friend of mine did years ago,"
"You don't have to hit yourself over it, lots of people are going throguh tough times, Chance and I are. We need money, you just found a way that wasn't right to get it, it was probably the only way you had been used to and were around. But I doubt you would have run, it doesn't seem you," I told him. I was debating if I just flat out lied to him. I seriously thought he would ditch me, only because he was so naive it seemed. Almost like he didn't want to do it, but didn't know what else to do.
"You do have one thing right, I was used to it. All my life I had been around people that stole, got into fights, and did crack and shit. My best friend was one of them, and so was my brother. I lived with my brother and dad in a tiny apartment in the bad side of MegaKat City. My brother was nine years older than me and tough, not like me. He smoked and stole, and was a complete jerk to people. He got tired of the city and "The man", took his motorcycle and left. Last time I saw him, he told me he loved me for the first time in his life. My dad left one day and never came back. He didn't even tell me he was leaving. After seven hours of waiting I called the cops. I was put in a boy's home that reeked of old fat sweaty boys and their unwashed socks. Believe me, those are the scariest places on the face of the earth, even more than jail. They found him sleeping in his car slapstick drunk a hundred miles from here, arrested him for child abandonment. By the time they brought him back, I grabbed what I could, stuffed it into a backpack and lived on the streets. Farmer's markets lined up each morning and I learned how to sneak some fruit. Then, one day I saw a kid about my age stealing a pear. He called himself Cheat, kind of cheesy, but cool to a little kid like me. His hair was spiked, clothes torn, and he smelt like he just rolled out of a pigpen at the dumb. His life was pretty much mine, lived on the streets, staving, and miserable, but at the same time, exciting. He taught me that, and how to pickpocket. I was ten when I pick-pocketed the man who would change my life forever. He was a scientist and grabbed my hand when he felt his wallet moving. I was shocked and Cheat ran over to me to help, fists raised in the air. I didn't need it though. He offered us a place to stay and we took it, mainly because it was going to rain hard and we had nowhere to go. He feed us, taught us what a family was like, and we lived with him from then on. I didn't steal anything from him, but Cheat, felt like he still had to, he was used to it. We both understood, and after awhile, he didn't anymore. We went to school, and started to live normal lives.
Cheat was pretty popular in middle school, and lived up to his name teaching people how to cheat on tests. He was never caught, and neither was I when I did too. In high school it all disappeared. The popularity, the fun, the teasing teachers and they couldn't do anything about it. About sophomore year, the scientist got really sick and had to retire because he developed serious Alzheimer's. He forgot small things at first, and then it turned into bigger things as a few years went by. Cheat was angry all the time and was confused as to why the one person in his life who was good to him besides me was dying. Me, I knew and accepted the facts these things happen. We both waited for the day he forgot who we were, and a week before he died, he asked me who I was. It nearly killed Cheat. We were alone again and needed money. We graduated from school already, but had no plans of college. I had a job at the gas station but the house was to much for us to pay the bills for. Cheat couldn't find work and began stealing again, but this time it was harder than when he was little, this time, if he was caught, he would go to prison. That was his all-time greatest fear, that and killing someone while robbing them. It would seem like a thousand years before that would happen to any normal kat. But to him, it was very valid. A real possibility in his mind. That one, he had to live with. He mugged a lady, about 30 years old and ran from her. He didn't mean to kill her, she just, fought back and so did he. We needed the money and he gave me hers money and drove away. I never saw Cheat again. Or heard from him."
"What color pelt did he have?" I asked causally. What it the same orange and black furred kat that killed my mother? I had to know, with every fiber in my being I had to know!
"Orange. With black stripes, why?" My heart sang, and all of a sudden, I didn't hate Cheat, but the fact Hard Drive's best friend murdered my mother destroyed me on the inside. I thought I would be angry, now that I knew his name I could find him and eliminate him. Call the police to arrest him, or worse, the Swat Kats would take good care of him. All the gnashing your teeth bitter fury I thought would be there though, was just pain. Greif, sorrow, pity, I didn't hate him. I didn't hate Hard Drive, although now he just saw something when my eyes lowered to my hands.
"My mother was murdered by an orange tomcat with black stripes,"
"When?" he gasped.
"I was eleven years old, so twelve years ago,"
'That's when he did it, I was nineteen," he sniveled. "I was packing up what I could in my car before they foreclosed the house. In our adopted father's will, he left everything to us, which wasn't much. He had no kids of his own. So I sold what I could and went down to his lab that he told us never to go in. Cheat was gone so I had to deal with the packing, the selling, etc. I found a lap coat looking thing connected to some wires connected to the wall. As I disconnected them and tried on the coat that happen to just be my and Cheat's size. My eyes got big and I felt the energy pumping throughout me. I started going on a rampage, robbing, stealing, everything I could do that felt wrong n=and totally bad ass. I was so power hungry and in agony about the one person who treated me like I was his own son died. But worse than that, my best friend was gone, I had no home, and the money I stole I spend on gas money, food, drugs, and death sticks. Got me the raspy voice I have now. I was going out of my mind," he paused and looked me in the face. Eyes big like he just realized the meaning of life. "Then you caught me the first time I tried to rob a bank and I hated you, I wanted you to die so painfully by Dark Kat or Viper," he sniffled. I felt remorse for Hard Drive, he was thirty-one years old and life had been so cruel to him. He wasn't a bad person, just forced into bad situations. I smiled, but one question still remained unanswered.
"What's your name?" I queried. He chuckled like that was a stupid question, why ask it?
"Hard Drive," he laughed.
"No, your REAL name," I requested. He thought for a minute, as if he hadn't been asked that question in a long time. He shifted, open his mouth to speak, but seemed confused. I wondered if while he was in jail, they just put freaking Hard Drive as his name. That was almost cruelty to me.
"Keith, Keith Jeremiah Hairsting," he smiled. We just talked about life after that. What we dreamed about when we were kids, favorite foods, and our favorite television shows. Most of ours were close, at least closer than Chance and mine. The day went by fast, and I was sure happy I made a new friend. I don't imagine he would even dream of stealing anymore, I think he learned his lesson. Life throws you suck, you deal with it. You can't get angry at everyone, even whe they di something to you for no reason. I assumed he changed, at least, I can hope he did…
HARD DRI-... KEITH
I walked from the hospital in silence. Jake was okay, and would be fine the rest of his life, at least from the bullet I put in him. Reminding myself of the torture stealing and robbing can do to a kat made me realize I never wanted to do it again. Jake knew how to change my ife, but I wasn't going to let it stop here. I walked to my car, took my serge coat and walked back to the hospital. Jake was asleep, mouth was slightly open and the next day he was going out with Ms. Callie Briggs. I was glad for him, his life was about to get a whole lot better. I dropped the coat in the chair and left, knowing that when he woke up, he would smile and his hope that I was done with my criminal life was true. Jake wasn't a hard person to read, I knew he didn't want to have to put me back in jail. As an ex-enforcer doing his job or as Razor. Which without a word going between us about it, I knew it was him. I made it to my car, and crashed into my seat. A needed a new car, when I get more money, I'm gonna buy an apartment, no…a house. A great, big nice house. An a good car, I didn't care if I was eighty years before then, I was going to get there. First thing in the morning I was going to use the five dollars Chance gave me. I had to buy a pen, a newspaper, and a new life.