And now, a short two-part story written for DonttBeAZombie. This one features Mistoffelees and Skimbleshanks- a pairing I've never thought of before, but that I've really come to like. Enjoy!
Warnings: This story will contain eventual sexytimes and *whispers* mpreg.
With a weary sigh, Skimbleshanks shuffled about on the railway platform, debating whether or not to hop on the next Midnight Mail. It would be so much easier to leave for another few days, but then again, this was the longest he'd ever spent away from the junkyard, long enough for summer to have faded and brought the first chill of autumn. Despite everything, despite the pain and sadness that he'd left behind, he missed his second home. Well, scratch that: he didn't miss the place itself, but he missed one very important thing that he'd had to leave behind.
The Midnight Mail gave a shrill whistle and began to chug along the tracks; too late now, Skimble mused. To the junkyard it was. Leaping off the platform, he avoided the legs and curious hands of the passing humans and began the trek towards the yard.
Normally, he would have balked at the thought of staying away from the junkyard for so long, but lately he'd managed to find trips and travels to go on that took him away from London for days at a time, looking for any excuse to extend his time away.
By the time the junkyard was in sight, a heaviness began to settle in Skimble's chest. By the time he crossed the entrance beneath the loose wooden planks, the heaviness turned into full-blown anxiety, leaving him scared of the reactions.
He ran into Alonzo first, who had come out to investigate the new arrival into the junkyard. When he saw that it was Skimble, he relaxed, but only barely.
"Skimbleshanks," the patched tom coolly said. "You have good timing."
Skimble frowned. He was weary from the long trips and nervous about being back in the junkyard after so long, and Alonzo wasn't making sense. "What are you talking about?"
Alonzo shrugged. "You'll see."
The icy welcome was hardly a surprise. Unwilling to argue or discuss any further, Skimble began heading to his den, glancing furtively around to make sure he wasn't about to run into any more cats. He couldn't avoid Demeter, who started when she spotted him and stared at him in surprise.
"Skimble! It's… been a while."
"I felt it good to stay away for a bit of time," Skimble said. "I imagine you understand why."
Demeter continued to stare at him for a few more seconds, her expression unreadable. "I suppose you'll be going to see Misto."
At the mention of the young tux's name, Skimble's anxiety bubbled again. "I don't think that would be wise. I was about to get myself a cup of tea and get some sleep. So if you'll pardon me-"
He began to edge past the queen, only to have her firmly grasp his arm. "Skimble—I really think you should go see him."
"You were all singing a very different tune not so long ago, weren't you?" Skimble said, gently prying his arm free. "I'll consider it. Now good night."
He continued in the direction of his den, a hollowed-out desk that was not very big or very comfortable, but was good enough to serve as a home. He had previously shared a den with Jenny, but after the relationship soured, he let her keep the spacious den and sought out his own. It was a small home, but he made it as comfortable as could be, though he would have preferred something nicer for himself and Mistoffelees.
Skimble shook his head. Why was he still thinking like that? It didn't matter anymore.
He thought of the small tom and hesitated as he reached his desk den. Should he double back to see Mistoffelees, if only to say hello? Demeter had seemed oddly insistent. He'd left the young tom sad, but not devastated, so why was it so vital that he go see him now?
Tomorrow, he resolved. Maybe. Right now, he was tired, and he couldn't imagine Mistoffelees needing his attention right at this moment. And it wouldn't be proper anyway, considering…
He stood hesitating for a few seconds, one hand poised on the entrance to his den, and doubled back with a sigh.
Damn it, Skimble old boy. You never could let anything go, could you?
There was no need to be surreptitious now, since all the Jellicles would know soon enough that he'd returned from his self-imposed exile. It wouldn't look proper for his first order of business to be sneaking off to see Mistoffelees, but…
He remembered Mistoffelees' den, with the narrow pipe serving as its entrance. Quietly, Skimble crawled inside, part of him hoping that Mistoffelees would be asleep, leaving him to avoid a potentially awkward conversation until morning. He did want to at least see the small tom, smell him, make sure he was all right. The time away had done exactly nothing to quell his feelings. Would Mistoffelees feel the same, he wondered?
Mistoffelees was there when Skimble crawled in. He was not asleep, as Skimble had half-hoped; he was sitting up on his blankets, idly picking at the pages of a book. And he was…
… he was…!
Skimble's eyes widened.
"Oh, Misto!" he breathed.
Mistoffelees started at the sound of his former lover's familiar voice. For a few seconds, he blinked in shock, and soon was blinking tears out of his eyes. "Skimble! I-I didn't think… you came back!"
"I did," he said, gathering up the tux in his arms. "And I'm not leaving again. You hear? I'm not leaving you, not now. I only wish you'd told me before I left!"
"I didn't know until after you left…"
"I would have come back to take care of you!"
Mistoffelees gave a trembling shrug, wrapping his arms around the orange tabby. "I'm not a kitten," he whispered. "I can take care of myself."
"I'm not a kitten."
Skimble would never forget the first time he heard Mistoffelees utter those words. It was hard to forget, especially with the way they were accompanied by a seductive purr, and a gleam in Mistoffelees' eyes that was anything but kittenish.
They were sitting on a wooden crate on platform number five, watching the passenger trains leave for their daily journey. It'd surprised him to learn that Mistoffelees loved trains, that he loved the hustle and bustle of the station. It made Skimble smile to see the joy in the young tux's face; such a simple pleasure, to watch the trains go by, and yet Skimble hadn't found anyone else in the junkyard who shared this love of his. Sure, Jenny had feigned interest early in their courtship, but it was obvious that her heart wasn't in it. None of the kittens they'd had together had ever wanted to come to the station with him, and watch him leave on the Midnight Mail, or just sit and watch the humans go about their day. Not a single Jellicle had ever been interested.
Except, of course, for Mistoffelees.
He'd never paid all that much attention to the young tux while he was growing up, too concerned with his own rambunctious kittens. He seemed well-liked in the junkyard, popular with the queens, though he'd never seen Mistoffelees involved romantically with any of them. Maybe, Skimble wondered, he was still too young to worry about that sort of thing. Queens, and mating, and starting families could cause as much as pain as they could cause joy, he thought ruefully.
Once his and Jenny's kittens had grown up, the queen seemed to grow distant. She'd all but lost interest in mating, which was something Skimble could have dealt with, but she also seemed to lose interest and patience with anything to do with her mate, preferring instead to sit and crochet and gossip with her friends. Jenny hadn't seemed all that heartbroken when Skimble finally requested to end their union.
It freed him from the burden of an unhappy mate, but it also left him rather lonely. Skimble was nothing if not a sociable cat, one of the main reasons why he'd loved taking on such responsibility on the Midnight Mail. Attention and food and love from the humans were all well and good, but he still craved affection from his fellow Jellicles.
So when Mistoffelees came to him one day and shyly asked if he could come along to visit the train station, Skimble had been surprised, but pleased to have such company.
He'd found a surprisingly enjoyable companion in Mistoffelees, mature yet kittenish at the same time. The tux didn't have the cynical weariness of the older cats, and he certainly knew how to laugh and how to enjoy life, whether it was listening to a funny story of Skimble's or showing off a magic trick for the older cat. It was nice to have a companion who appreciated his sorry jokes and who whole-heartedly listened when he explained how the trains came and went.
It was nice, for a cat like Skimble who was physically affectionate, to have someone like Mistoffelees who casually leaned into him and purred while they sat and watched the trains go by and watched the humans go about their business. Skimble had even skipped one shift on the Midnight Mail in favour of sitting with Mistoffelees.
He had to admit the young tom was easy on the eyes. Skimble often watched him dance back in the junkyard with effortless grace and flexibility, making him smile wistfully for the long-ago limberness of his own youth. As much as his body moved easily, Mistoffelees smiled just as easily, and his cheeriness was contagious. More than once, they'd made each other laugh over some silliness or another, and on more than one occasion, Skimble found himself surprised by thoughts of kissing that smiling mouth.
When Skimble caught himself thinking 'oh, if only he weren't so young…' it was really only because he doubted the young, lovely tom would ever be interested in an old cat like him.
Imagine his surprise on one particular night. Mistoffelees had always been cuddly and affectionate, so Skimble thought nothing of the way the tux would usually lean into him, get comfortable, and purr lightly as they watched the trains roll by. He would often place an arm around Mistoffelees' shoulders and nuzzle him once or twice, enjoying the closeness he'd never really had with his mate or his own friends.
It was only when the purring and cuddling got a little less innocent and a bit more suggestive that night that Skimble began to wonder.
Settling in for an evening of people-watching, Mistoffelees had casually thrown one leg over Skimble's, resting his head on an orange shoulder, claws idly playing with the buttons of his vest. He'd been terribly casual about the motion, but Skimble could swear his purr sounded a little nervous tonight.
Skimble's arm naturally came to rest around the tux's shoulders, as it always did. Tonight's unusual closeness bolstered him, and soon enough he was gently stroking the black fur beneath his hand.
He'd forgotten all about watching the trains and watching the humans as Mistoffelees' purr intensified and he shifted about under the touch, so that he was not leaning so much as lying on top of Skimble.
And Skimble liked it. Oh, did he ever like it, maybe a bit too much, and he had to put a stop to this before he lost control and let Mistoffelees find out how he really felt.
"Careful there, lad," he said. He made a weak attempt to nudge Mistoffelees off his chest. "Or innocent passerby might get some not-so-innocent impressions."
Mistoffelees' purring stopped. He nervously picked at one of the vest buttons with a claw and said, "And what if they do?"
Skimble laughed. It was more than a bit forced, and a bit nervous, because Mistoffelees couldn't possible be serious, could he?
"Imagine the scandalous gossip," Skimble joked. "If others thought you and I…. as if tongues don't already wag in our little junkyard!"
Mistoffelees shifted about, not moving away from where he was cuddled against Skimble's chest, just enough so he could finally look up at the older cat. He bit his lip with a timid look. "They can wag all they please. I… I don't care. I mean… I don't care if you don't care."
Skimble blinked for a few moments, wondering if Mistoffelees could feel the sudden pounding of his heart. "Misto… you're not serious, are you lad?"
There was a fleeting look of dismay on the small tom's face, as though he just realized he'd guessed wrong about his friend's intentions. Unable to bear seeing that look of heartbreak, Skimble gently ran one paw against Mistoffelees' cheek. The gesture was incongruous with his words, but seemed to comfort Mistoffelees.
"I like you, Skimble," Mistoffelees said, with a quick purr at the caressing hand. "I've liked you a while, I enjoy being with you… and I-I thought you also…"
"Misto," he sighed, elated and conflicted all at once. "You don't think… I'm a little too old for you?"
"Says who?" Mistoffelees said indignantly. "I'm not a kitten. Skimble… no one gets to make my decisions for me. I get to decide who I love."
"Wouldn't you prefer a nice tom closer to your age…?"
"I don't care for the toms closer to my age. I can't talk to them. All they want is to talk about queens and how well they can fight with each other. They don't like the things I like. They don't make me laugh. But… you do. I want to be with you."
There wasn't a thing Skimble could think of to contradict that. To tell the truth, had their positions been reversed, he would have been making the same points—he didn't care much for the stale, boring conversation and interests of the older cats. Jenny had often accused him of being a tom-kit at heart, and Skimble wore the insult with pride. But that didn't mean he had to start looking to kittens for romantic companionship.
But Mistoffelees wasn't a kitten, Skimble had to admit. He was, in fact, a lovely and handsome tom who liked to sit and have fun with him, and who was presently looking up at him with wide, expectant eyes. When Mistoffelees blinked slowly and leaned in for a kiss, Skimble recoiled slightly, instantly regretting the move.
"Don't push me away," Mistoffelees softly said. "Why are you afraid?"
"The other Jellicles…" Skimble began, knowing how feeble his protest sounded. "They won't think this looks entirely proper."
The tux nodded slowly. Still half-draped over Skimble, he idly picked at the pocket watch chain peeking from the vest pocket. "I figured they wouldn't. We'll deal with it."
"We'll… need to be careful."
"Then we'll be careful. Can I kiss you?"
Skimble's answer was a nervous chuckle, and thankfully Mistoffelees heard it for the giddy excitement it was meant to convey. When Mistoffelees leaned in again, Skimble met him halfway and they kissed for the first time.
It was a bit quick and a bit chaste, the product of Mistoffelees' inexperience. The tux still purred uncontrollably once they pulled apart. "That was so nice. I knew I liked you for a reason."
"It gets even better."
"Does it?" Mistoffelees said, flashing him a cheeky grin that made Skimble chuckle. "Then I can't wait for you to show me."
They kissed again, forgetting all about the trains coming and going, and suddenly Skimble couldn't remember why he'd felt apprehensive about this.
The next few weeks were bliss, pure and simple. Skimble had forgotten what it was like to be so thoroughly happy with a mate. Of course, they had to be careful, giving the appearance that their relationship was still nothing more than friendship. They still talked like good friends while in the junkyard, and still met for their late-night trips to the train station—though once there, they were free to cuddle and kiss as they pleased. And it was a fact that Mistoffelees was getting better and better at kissing.
A few times, they'd clambered down to a cubby-space behind the wooden crates, where they could kiss and roam paws over each other's bodies away from curious eyes.
He could tell that it hurt Mistoffelees, sometimes, that they couldn't touch or nuzzle each other while under the scrutinizing eyes of the junkyard. He'd tried his best to explain to his young lover that he wasn't ashamed (and he truly wasn't) but several of the older generation had some very old-fashioned ideas about what was proper. Maybe that was another reason why he'd found Jenny so exasperating at times.
Still, he and Jenny were not on bad terms, and in the interest of keeping the peace, Skimble often met her and Jellylorum for tea and conversation. More often than not, the conversation would turn to gossip between the two queens, leaving Skimble to stare at his tea and wish he'd remembered to sneak a small bottle of Scotch with him.
"… and if you ask me, she's not getting any younger!" Jenny was saying. She was crocheting an undetermined piece of something, really an excuse for something to do with her hands rather than an effort to crochet something practical. Skimble knew from experience that she would unstitch the cloth at the end of the day and start anew during the next teatime.
Jellylorum blew on her tea and nodded vigorously. Skimble made a vague sound of agreement; he hadn't even noticed who they were talking about.
"Oh dear, speaking of not getting any younger…" Jenny casually said. "I heard an interesting rumor. Our little Mistoffelees has found himself a companion."
"Is that right?" Jellylorum said, eyes big and round. "I don't dare hope he's found himself a nice young queen…?"
"If only," Jenny sniffed. "You were right about Mistoffelees'... tendencies. But that's not even the worst part!"
Skimble shifted uncomfortably, terribly interested in his teacup.
"From what I hear, he's taken up with an older tom. A much older tom."
"You don't say! How did you come to hear that?"
"Oh, I have my sources."
"How shameful," Jellylorum clucked. "And he seemed so wholesome, didn't he? Now look at him, being awfully promiscuous for such a young kitten. But that's the young generation for you. No sense of propriety at all."
"He's not a kitten," Skimble muttered. Jenny only raised a poised eyebrow at the sudden interruption. "I'm sure he's perfectly capable of making his own decisions."
"Oh, that's what they all say, don't they?" Jenny scoffed. "And look at young toms like that Rum Tum Tugger. Someone should still be making his decisions for him, if you ask me."
"And we have to worry about poor dear Misto," Jellylorum sighed. "Who knows what sort of elder tom he's taken up with? I hope it isn't some dangerous alley cat."
"Now see here," Skimble said. He set his teacup down a little more forcefully than necessary; warm tea sloshed from the rim onto his paw. "Have a little faith in the lad, will you?"
The two queens stared at him haughtily until Jenny spoke up. "I wonder, Skimble, why you're so interested in defending him."
"I-I'm not… that is to say—I think you're both being unfair," Skimble stammered. He rose to his feet, giving his vest a quick tug, hoping the agitated lash of his tail wouldn't betray his anger. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to be at the station."
"Oh, by all means," Jenny said. "Which reminds me—my friend Agatha saw something quite interesting at the train station the other day. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you Skimble dear?"
He froze in his tracks, fur twitching and bristling as he turned back to look at the gossiping queens. "Jenny…"
The yarn and crochet needle had been abandoned. "I wish you'd told me earlier that you liked tom-kits, Skimble. I wouldn't have wasted your time all these years."
"Jenny…. Everlasting… that's not how it is! Misto and I, we…"
"Oh, does it matter how it is?" Jellylorum interjected. "It isn't right and it isn't proper. Do you know what people will think? And you have to protect yourself, Skimble! What sort of a young harlot willingly takes up with older toms like that?"
"Don't talk about Misto that way!"
"I've seen the way Rum Tum Tugger's looked at him before. A pretty little tom like Mistoffelees probably jumps into the blankets of whoever's got their eye on him."
"Enough of that!" Skimble gaped. What the queens were saying wasn't true, and worst of all, he knew that the queens knew it wasn't true… they were only saying such things to rile him up, to bother him. And bloody hell, it was working.
"Do not call him a harlot ever again," Skimble growled. "And do not have this conversation around me, or around Mistoffelees, ever again, or else. Am I clear?"
Jenny blinked coolly at him. "I'm only worried about you, dear. You know I care about what happens to you."
"Don't be," Skimble said. "And don't be worried about Misto either!"
He had nothing to add that wouldn't be needlessly aggressive or laced with foul language. Without giving either queen a chance to reply, he whirled around and stomped off, out of the junkyard, and to the station. He needed the long walk to clear his mind.
I suppose the secret's out now, Skimble sighed to himself.
The second part will be posted shortly. Thank you for reading!