Felina's Teeth 2:
Shadows of the Past
by Fur and Fantasy
PG-13 for M/F
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
"Hello, Chance." Commander Felina Feral nodded to the burly tabby that was one of her most valuable Teeth in the field. As unusual as it was, she had not given a clue what this meeting was about in the Tower's most secure command center.
"Commander," the tabby said with a nod, taking a seat. He looked sharp and alert in his black and red uniform, waiting for her to begin the briefing. It was something of a ritual between them, developed over years of working together.
"How are you doing?" She began with a completely out of the blue question.
There was a moment of hesitation, the personal enquiry catching the tom a little off guard, the he smiled a little and shrugged. "All right, I guess. Things have been pretty quiet, so I've had some time on my hands."
"Have you caught the news from Bander City lately?" She asked quietly and very seriously.
"Bander City?" The tabby shook his head. "I didn't think they even had news out there. It's a good distance from the territory that Uly ... that your predecessor had me watching."
"Very little, truly." She inclined her head. "But someone we both know is active again, and I want him brought in."
"Jake Clawson," she watched him carefully with sharp brown eyes.
The tabby closed his eyes and sighed softly. "Is he ... is it Razor again?"
"Not in uniform, but he is in action." She nodded simply. "I want him in my Teeth, if you can handle it."
"You think he'd go for that?" The tabby asked skeptically. "We've been through this once already."
"From the report you gave, and a little nosing around I've had done, his issue seemed to be more about following my uncle." She said gravely. "At the very least I want to make the attempt to bring him in. He would be a very valuable addition to the Teeth."
"And you want me to go and get him," Chance surmised. "Are you certain that's a good idea?"
"Actually I'm sending Sashari to talk to him, but I want you along. If something happens, I do not intend to loose you to get him."
"I'm not planning on going anywhere," the tabby said, nodding. "When do we head out?"
"Good," she nodded. "You leave in the morning, zero six thirty from Cat'n Claw field. It is a small private jet. I would have you fly, but you have a lot of reading I want you to do before you see him again." She paused. "And Chance, this one is your call. If it won't work well, abort the mission."
"I really don't know about this," the tabby admitted frankly, "But I'll see what I can do. Am I going in uniform or do you want us to take a more subtle approach?"
"Bring your uniform, but subtle is likely better." She nodded and handed him a thick folder. "This is what I'm fairly sure you don't know about your former partner." She continued a little more softly. "It's rather amazing what the psychs downstairs can figure out." She paused again, her tone very soft. "And Chance, if half of what I have is true, he still loves you. Be careful."
The tabby gave her an odd look that stretched out for a couple of seconds, then chuckled and shook his head. "Someone's giving you bad intel. It was never like that with us."
She almost said something, then nodded. "Good luck, then."
Chance pushed the chair back, got up, and snapped off a salute. "Commander," he nodded as he picked up the file and turned towards the door.
"Good luck Chance," she said quietly after the door closed behind him. "I get the feeling you'll need it."
"More than you were expecting?" Sashari asked Chance half way through the nine hour flight.
"Hmmm?" The tabby glanced up from the files, startled for a moment before he nodded. "That'd be putting it mildly. I mean you think you know someone and then ..."
"Yes," the regal Lioness nodded. "He is a most secretive Kat without appearing so."
"That's a good way of putting it," the tabby agreed. "I mean I would never even have guessed at half of this.
"I am not surprised," she said softly. "It says a lot for how much he hated Ulysses, and how much he loved you, that he would let you go so easily."
"Great," the tabby sighed softly. "And I thought it was going to be awkward enough as it was."
"Who knows, perhaps it will be a good reunion." She suggested. "If he still cares for you, it could be to our advantage."
"I don't want to have to play on that," Chance said firmly. "Gods, that's the last thing I want to have to do."
"I meant in context of it being better than if he resented you or worse." She explained gently. "I know Commander Felina is adiment about not loosing you to this."
"Yeah, so she said. I'm not quite sure what she's so worried about though."
Sashari smiled softly. "Because she values you a great deal more than just one of her Teeth, and Jake is someone she has wanted among us since well before she became Commander. With how .... unfriendly ... Fate seems to be to the city, she faces concerns she has difficulty countering. This is not just a recruting mission for her. It's something far more important."
"I told her she shouldn't get her hopes up," Chance pointed out. "Jake can be just as stubborn as I can. More even. I'm not expecting his to just leap at the chance."
"I doubt she will think less of you if it does not work." She assured him. "And I do not expect this to be easy either. Our main advantage is that he does not seem to have developed any strong ties yet. That and his son."
"Maybe. As far as I can tell they've never had any contact."
"No, and Miss Briggs has not had contact with him either." She nodded slightly. "But few who care about life would not be willing to visit a place to meet their own kit. It may take time to convince him it is for the best to join us."
"So that's the angle you want to take? Make it about the kit and then backdoor him?" Chance thought about it for a few moments. "Could work. It's better than anything I've come up with so far."
"There is also the straightforward approach," she chuckled softly. "Tell him of the changes in command and how he's wanted and needed. Given the profile, it may be enough."
"Nothing about Jake is straightforward," Chance said, closing the file. "That much I knew even before all this."
The Lioness regarded him simply for a long moment. "He may be more so than you think." She said softly. "Just with different desires than you. That can make him look ... complicated."
"You've read the file. You don't think he's complicated?"
"Not in several very intrinsic ways," she said gently. "What seems to drive him are simple things. To be accepted, to do good, to protect what is his. The brilliance and the city created the rest. What to appeal to is quite simple though, even without brining in his feelings for you, or that he has a son."
"Maybe I should just leave it to you then," the tabby said, shaking his head. "Honestly, I have no idea what I'm going to say to him."
"Perhaps nothing," she said softly. "I'm primary on this anyway."
"And thank all the Gods for that," Chance said with feeling. "I'd make such a cock up of it."
"Perhaps," she accepted. "Perhaps not. Either way, we will get it done."
"There's our target." Sashari motioned to a sun-bleached cinnamon tomkat relaxing in the sun on a popular local beach. Despite the ten years of hair growth, less than fanatic grooming, age and a decidedly relaxed posture, there was no mistaking the identity of the tom for Chance.
"Did you decide how you're going to handle this?" Chance asked, his eyes fixed on his ex-partner.
"Try for the simplest first and work up from there." She nodded easily and scanned the sandy expanse. "He still isn't the socialite at least."
"Right," Chance nodded, scanning the area. "I'll be up there, keeping an eye out in case something unexpected happens."
Sashari gave him a sharp glance, but nodded acceptance and walked forward, her body relaxed and somehow fitting into this sandy place that matched her fur. Jake glanced up at her well before she got close, and the lean tom actually smiled a welcome and waved her over to sit on his beach towel.
Chance's position was on a rise above the beach, between the sand and the seaside concourse that featured food outlets and seaside entertainments. He found a kiosk which he could put his back against while he watched the exchange going on down on the beach. From here it all seemed perfectly amicable.
He knew the instant Jake saw him too, the surprise that flashed across the fit, lean body was unmistakable, even at a distance.
It was only to be expected really. Still, Chance was very glad he wasn't down there with them. It was hard enough just to stand up here and watch, while he was still trying to sort out everything that had been in the Intel folder and just how that related to the Jake he used to know.
It seemed like they were two completely different kats, two very separate lives, but when he thought carefully, he could usually make a possible, if hard to believe, match between what the folder said and what he remembered happening.
It still wasn't a fun process, realizing that he knew so little about the tom he's shared his life with for ten years. It wasn't as if there hadn't been enough mixed feelings already. Damn it all.
All of a sudden movement from the area drew him to focus on what was in front of him. Jake, followed by a smiling Sashari, were coming towards him. His x-partner was utterly unreadable, even if Chance trusted his judgment there anymore.
If Sashari was smiling it probably meant she'd sold him on whatever angle she'd used, whether that was the whole box and dice or just going to visit his son is something he hoped she'd be able to fill him in on before he completely put his foot in it. If he was even able to find his tongue in Jake's presence.
It was a question not long to be answered as Jake stopped near, but not too near, him.
"Hi," the lean tom's voice was quiet, a bit uncertain but definitely not hostile. "Still enjoying it?"
"Yeah," the tabby said, feeling foolish.
"Good," he smiled slightly, an unnervingly close replay of their talk in the prison. "Found anyone yet?"
"I don't ... I mean I haven't ... I've been busy." As so many times before the tabby silent cursed the way his tongue seemed to seize up at inconvenient moments.
"Makes two of us," he said softly and motioned them to come along, a direction that Sashari reinforced for the tabby. "So how's Felina as a Commander?"
He thought about it for a while, wanting both to be honest and to avoid sabotaging the mission by saying the wrong thing. "Different, in little ways. Very confident."
"Still as stubborn as before?" He asked curiously, sounding for all the world like he was making idle chit-chat.
"Always," Chance said, and the faintest shadow of a smile touched his face. "She's a Feral, after all."
"Just saner than the last one, I hope." He nodded, not noticing Sashari's nearly frantic mouthing to Chance not to react.
Chance's mouth thinned unhappily but he managed to keep his tongue. Mostly. "In any case it's not something you'll ever have to worry about."
"If I'm going to be working for her, it does." He shrugged slightly but backed off from what was clearly a sensitive subject. "How's the city doing, with all the new leadership happening?"
"Pretty good," Chance said, glad to be off on another topic. "Enforcers are finally getting a little more support from City Hall at last, it's been almost three months since the last time someone tried to squash us in any serious way. I think that's about as good as it's going to get."
"Not bad," he nodded and led them to a small bungalow near the beach. "What does she have you doing?"
"Everything. Intelligence, special ops, some flight duty ... it never gets boring."
"Nothing is ever boring around you," Jake actually chuckled softly as he made very quick work of putting his few possessions in a worn canvas backpack. "Sometimes I missed that."
"Yeah, well, I missed you too." Chance had never felt more awkward, and he knew it showed in his voice. Just wonderful.
The lean tom stilled and looked up, regret in his expression for the first time Chance could really remember. "I'm sorry for that, for how it went down." He paused, a moment's hesitation not long enough for a reply. "I had to find my own way." He said just as awkwardly.
"Yeah, well. It's a bit late to be going over all that."
"Yeah, it is." Jake nodded and hefted the backpack over one shoulder with the ease of a lot of practice. "Ready to go."
"You're coming back with us now?"
"Might as well." He shrugged. "It's not like I have anything important here."
"Oh." Chance didn't know what to say, and he was certain that anything he might of come up with would only make things more awkward. It was enough to make him wonder what Felina had been thinking, sending him along.
'To make sure you are okay with him joining us.' Sashari signed to him. It was creepy the way the Lioness seemed to be able to read your thoughts sometimes.
Chance just rolled his eyes at her, unable to say what he wanted to with Jake standing right in front of them. Instead he just held his tongue, something he was getting a lot of practice at on this mission.
It was an exchange that wasn't lost on Jake this time, though he didn't ask about it either.
"If you two need some time alone ...." He offered uncertainly.
"No, it's alright," Chance said, before Sashari could give him an opening to make things even worse. "Let's just get home."
Jake shot the pair another quizzical look but nodded and headed out, apparently knowing where to go already.
"Chance," Jake's quietly voice caught him completely off guard as he was changing out of uniform in the Teeth's locker rooms. "Got a minute?"
The tabby started visibly, and grabbed a towel up off the bench. He didn't even think to wrap it around his waist, just held it in front of him to cover his nudity. He seemed to relax as he saw who it was. A little.
Jake just waited patiently for an answer, not in the least bit phased by the nudity or the reaction.
"Um ... yeah ... sure. Could you just give me a moment though?"
He nodded easily and chuckled just a bit as he turned the corner and leaned against a locker, giving the tabby some privacy to dress.
Chance dressed quickly, not difficult when your standard wardrobe is a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. "Okay," he said as Jake heard him doing up his zipper. "What's up?"
"Wondering if I missed something," the lean tom said as he turned the corner, still leaned against the locker. "You've been uneasy as hell since we met."
"It's just ... hard." chance said, not really explaining anything.
It seemed to make a little sense, since Jake nodded. "Do you want to not see me anymore?" He offered quietly, an honest attempt to make things easier for the tabby.
"No. I mean ... it's not like that, you haven't done anything wrong. It's just ..." He stopped and tried to gather his thoughts. "So much has changed."
Another nod, this one with more understanding. "And you haven't had ten years to think about it, about everything." He said quietly. "I'd like to be friends, even if it never goes beyond that again."
"I would too," Chance admitted with a sigh, "I just don't know if I can. I've learnt ... things. About you."
That stopped whatever Jake was about to say in his throat. "Okay ... he started again, now very uncertain. "Like what?"
"Like ... everything." Chance said with a shrug. "Felina gave me a full Intel report on you."
Jake frowned, not sure what could possibly be in there that would make such a difference. "My past makes such a difference?"
"I just ... I thought I knew you."
Jake sighed softly and shook his head. "Yeah, I thought I knew you, before you ... joined the Teeth. It's really that big a deal?"
"I always wanted to be an Enforcer, that wasn't a big surprise, at least it shouldn't have been. You, you just seem to keep all this stuff from everyone."
That got a confused look. "Not intentionally." He said quietly. "Maybe if you were a little more specific?"
"It's not about the specifics. I could pick anything and you'd explaining it and think that that made everything better. I just don't know how to behave around you Jake, you used to be my partner but even then you really weren't the kat I thought I thought you were." The tabby sighed in frustration and shook his head. "I'm not explaining this really well."
"No," he murmured softly. "How about just being yourself?" He suggested a bit uncertainly. "We were partners a long time and we both thought we knew each other pretty well. It was hard realizing how wrong I was, but in the end it didn't really change how I felt about you. I guess, I was just hoping it worked that way for you too."
"Look, about that. How you felt ..."
All of a sudden realization flashed across Jake's face. "*That was in there?" He half choked.
"Thirty pages of psych, fifty of history and movements," Chance said softly. "They were pretty thorough."
"Of all the ways ..." he stammered, clearly shaken. "I didn't ... I mean ..." He took a deep breath and tried again, his gaze on the floor. "I won't say it's nothing, but it's not what ... what I wanted from you, then or now. It's ... just part of the background."
"You see what I mean?" Chance asked. "It takes a bit of coming to terms with."
"Yeah," the lean tom nodded, still a bit rattled.
"I don't hate you, I'm not angry with you, you haven't done anything to upset me. I just don't know how to be around you anymore and it's making things really awkward." When all else failed Chance could always fall back on being blunt.
It seemed to be a good idea, this time, as Jake nodded understanding, a mixture of emotions, mostly relief, vied for his expression. He took a deep breath and tried to accept that he was having a conversation he had long since assumed he'd escaped from for good. "I don't know how to help that one." He admitted quietly.
"Neither do I," Chance nodded. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel bad."
"It's okay," he half mumbled, the heat rising in his cheeks giving lie to his words. "It's just one thing I thought I really had gotten away with not ... dealing with." He let out a breath, cursing himself in ways he hadn't for years now. "Thought I had it better sorted out too."
"We'll figure something out," the tabby said, trying to make it a bit better. "I just don't know what it is right now."
"Me either," Jake sighed in a very rare admission, bringing an awkward silence between them.
A silence that drew on and on. Chance hated the awkwardness of it, but he couldn't think of anything he could say that would make it easier on either of them.
"How's ... I mean what ... I mean, are you settling in OK?" Chance could have crumpled up into a little ball and died. It didn't really help that Jake didn't seem to be in any better shape.
"I guess," he nodded. "I mean, it's not like I had much settling in to do. Still trying to wrap my brain around Justin and Callie and that whole thing. It's ... weird."
"Yeah, must be." Chance nodded. "I know I'd be freaked if suddenly it turned out I had a little tom-kit."
"Have you been around him much?" He asked softly.
"Never met him," Chance shook his head. "At least, not that I know."
"Kit's brilliant," he chuckled softly. "Not ten years old and he's already blown by me in half a dozen fields. He's going to make a hell of an Enforcer soon."
"Did you tell Miss Brigs that?" Chance asked with raised eyebrows. "I mean, things there aren't as bad as they used to be but she might have a word or two to say about that plan."
"She warned me, he told me," he shook his head. "I can't say I'm thrilled with it, but there are worse things for him to get into with that mind besides this job. He inherited her stubborn streak."
"So he's less stubborn than you then?" Chance blinked as the words came out of his mouth. That had very nearly been a passable joke, and it was enough to make Jake chuckle.
"Maybe," he cocked a bit of a grin. "Though she's out-stubborned me more than once."
"I don't even want to think about it," Chance shook his head.
"No," he settled down quickly. "I don't expect so." He said softly.
"That didn't come out right," Chance said with a soft sigh.
Jake chuckled again, though it was mostly nerves. "And here I thought it was because of what it was about."
"Stubbornness?" Chance asked, confused.
Jake shook his head and chuckled. "What she out-stubborned me on. Going to bed with her."
"Well, I figured it must have happened somewhere along the line."
"Yeah," he shook his head slightly. "That was a pretty messed up year, all told." He sighed. "What a mess."
"That sounds like what I remember," Chance nodded.
"At least we're on the same page with something," he smiled weakly.
"Had to happen sooner or later, I guess."
"Mind if I ask something ... kind of personal?" Jake stated uneasily with the one thing he'd never really accepted.
"You've never held back before," Chance said, managing a smile.
"When ... did you stop hating Feral?"
Chance thought about that for a while. "I dunno that I ever really did. I hated not being an Enforcer, and I blamed him for it. It means so much to me, and he was the one who took it away. Then again he was also the one who gave it back."
Jake nodded, accepted it as the truth even if he still didn't really understand. "I guess that's it, then." He murmured softly, more to himself than the tabby so close by. "Anything you want me to explain?"
"I wouldn't know where to start." Chance said with a shake of his head. There was a another one of those painful silences. "Only ... why didn't you tell me?"
"What I felt?" He hesitated, knowing that was what the question was about. He couldn't make himself look at the tabby when he answered. "'Cause I'm still working on accepting it myself." He said simply. "'Cause I was pretty sure you'd either think I was sick for it, or want more than I did if you didn't." He sighed softly. "I was content being partners, why ruin it over something I couldn't explain to myself, much less someone else?"
"You could have ... ah, I don't know what you could have done." The tabby shook his head. "I shouldn't have asked."
"Maybe not, but now you know." He said simply. "I just didn't want to risk what we had, or thought we had. We were good, Chance. We did a good job up there."
"Yeah. Even Uly admitted that, in the end." The tabby's voice was low and grave.
"That ... I wish I could have been here for." Jake murmured without a trace of disrespect. "It sounds like ... things ... changed a lot while I was gone."
"It was a lot harder for him than we thought," Chance said, sitting down on the bench and letting his eyes drift downwards.
"You really care for him." Jake's voice was barely above a whisper, but there wasn't a single negative note in it.
"He did a lot for me," Chance said softly. "He wasn't as bad as you think."
Jake simply nodded, accepting that it was true for Chance.
Silence again. Stretching out more and more uncomfortably this time until Chance had to stand, simply because sitting there and doing nothing for any longer would have been intolerable.
"You're welcome in my shop," Jake stood with him and hesitantly put a hand on the tabby's shoulder as he made an offer not even the Commander had. Just as quickly he was gone.
"So this is where she's got you ferreted away then." The voice came as a complete surprise, knocking the intricate electronic schematics Jake had been working on out of his mind. He turned towards the door, ready to give the interloper a piece of his mind, but that fury faded when he saw Chance standing in the door frame.
"Mind if I come in?"
As the shock faded a real smile of welcome replaced it. "Not at all." Jake set the tangle of pieces and wires he was working on aside to give the tabby his full attention. Something he'd rarely done in the Hanger. "I should have known it was you, when none of the alarms went off."
"I didn't even notice them," the tabby admitted, almost sheepishly. "I guess I just got used to that sort of thing. You know, before."
"Yeah," Jake smiled faded a little as memories came back in a rush. "I did use the same system. As much as I could at least." He glanced up a bit. "How are things going?"
The tabby shrugged. "Oh, about as well as you could expect. I've just gotten back from Tzei-Wei." "She really does keep you going." He raised an eyebrow. "That's a ways away."
"No kidding," the tabby chuckled. "We discovered that there was a lab over there that was making the majority of the Rapture coming into the city. The Commander wanted one of us over there to assist the Divinely Inspired Protectorate."
"The hit go down well?" He asked, trying both for small talk and to get a feel for the kat he wanted to make friends with.
"We got most of the makers," Chance said with a nod, "But not as much of the merchandise as I would have liked. Still, with the source gone it's gotta make some difference."
"At least for a while." He nodded. "Too bad the demand isn't so easy to remove."
"Some kats just don't know what's good for them," Chance said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, and a lot just don't have the help they need when they realize they're over their head." He said softly. "That's one thing I didn't miss about the city."
"We haven't got the resources for that. I don't think anyone does."
"I seriously doubt it." Jake nodded seriously. "Only really small towns have that kind of unity. Not much to do there though." He added with a shrug.
"The city's about as far from a small town as it's possible to get," Chance smiled. "And despite all the problems, I like it that way, really."
"As annoying as it can get, same here." Jake said with a bit of wistful fondness. "All that traveling, I never did find anything that suited me better."
"So what are you working on?" Chance asked, changing the subject.
"Hu?" Jake blinked, startled into looking on the tangle of parts he had been playing with. "Oh, it's a serious remake on the Glovatrix." He chuckled softly. "I'll give her one thing, Felina doesn't kid around when it comes to supplying me." He made a general motion around the shop. "I didn't even know half these tools existed, and they're damn useful."
"Let me know when it's done, huh?" Chance asked with genuine interest. "I've missed having one of those."
"If you want to 'field test' the last generation, you're welcome to it." Jake said absently and went digging in his rejects pile. "I'm not happy with it, but if you don't have anything like it, it does work."
"My old one got busted a while back, and there's no standard Enforcer gear that's quite like it."
"That's an understatement," Jake chuckled softly as he pulled a familiar looking device from the pile. "Though if I can get it to work right, she's planning on changing that."
"Now that would be something to see," Chance said with a smile. "It'd make a big difference."
"So will the new helmets." He smiled with a touch of pride and handed the Glovatrix to the tabby. "They're to go into production anytime now."
Chance smiled as he attached the device to his arm. "It even matches my uniform," he said with a smile. "Almost."
"I did design it with the Teeth in mind." He nodded with a faint smile. "I do have a thing for color coordination."
"I'll let you know how it turns out," the tabby promised, "Although I'm not sure when the Commander will have me out again."
"You don't patrol anymore?" Jake blinked in surprise.
"Not very often," he said with a shake of his head. "There's usually more important priorities."
"I guess so," he nodded, still a bit stunned. "What do you usually do?"
"Whatever she needs at the time," Chance said with a shrug. "Intel, analysis, raids, commando work, special flight runs ... like I said, it's never boring."
"I guess so," he nodded, then looked around at his own workspace. "Pretty different from what I've got going."
"Yeah, well, I can't do what you do."
"I think you'd go nuts cooped up in a workshop all day," Jake chuckled softly. "It's so not your style."
"I'd probably end up breaking stuff," Chance agreed and Jake chuckled.
"Keep me up on what you're doing, 'kay?" He looked up at the tabby. "You never know when I've got something you'll find useful."
"I'd be good to have that kinda backup again," Chance admitted. "You always used to be pulling out some sort of gizmo."
"That much never stopped," he chuckled a bit. "I think the requisitions department is almost used to my weird orders now."
"Nahhh ... they won't ever get used to it," the tabby said with a grin.
"Probably not," he agreed with a snicker. "Particularly the ones involving stuff like 'go to the salvage yard, pile K-3 and bring back the 23in TV and everything in it. It's towards the bottom, behind the car fender.' They actually called Felina about that one."
Chance snickered softly. "And I bet she just told them to go ahead and do it."
"Yap, much to the Sergeant's dismay."
"I'm surprised you didn't ask her to let you work out there," Chance said. "You had a pretty good workshop set up."
"Had," he said quietly. "It, and the one I was working out of while solo, were both fragged before anyone got to them. I wasn't exactly Enforcer-friendly right then. As good as I am at creation, I'm damn good at demolitions."
"Oh," Chance said, not sure what he could say in response.
"I'm kind of surprised you didn't know." He admitted quietly.
"I haven't been out there ... in ages, really," Chance admitted. "The commanders have always kept me busy."
"I'm not surprised at that." he nodded slightly. "You are the best after all."
"You got that right," Chance said with the cocky grin Jake remembered.
"And now everyone knows it," he smiled slightly. "That much was good to see, the few times I caught international news."
"Well, I try not to make too much of a splash," Chance said. "Makes it hard to work if everyone's always watching you."
"Yeah, and always asking questions and sticking their hands where they shouldn't be." He chuckled. "Could be worse, though."
"Well yeah," Chance grinned. "Especially that hand-sticking part."
"Though I'd bet with you, most weren't aiming for your work," he chuckled, amusement bright in his eyes as they flicked over his hansom former partner.
"Somehow they always seem to get distracted by other things," the tabby replied with a smirk.
"Oh, I wonder why," Jake actually laughed and leaned back against his workbench. "Sometimes it amazes me any work gets done with you walking around, distracting everybody with a pulse."
"They had to have these special filters installed," Chance said, very nearly managing to keep a straight face.
"So that's why so many of them wear sunglasses inside. It's tabby protection." He snickered as he regained his breath.
"You're not supposed to let on though," Chance continued in a mock-conspiratorial tone. "They don't know that I know."
"Right," Jake nodded and tried to stifle his amusement with little success. "They won't hear it from me."
"It'd be pretty embarrassing for them if they had to admit that the whole of the Enforcers where hot for me, all the way up to Ul ..." The tabby realized what he'd been about to say and shut himself up, his eyes drifting down towards the floor. "I hate it when that happens," he murmured softly.
"You still miss him, don't you?" Jake said quietly. "A lot."
"Yeah," Chance said, nodding slowly. "A lot."
The lean tom was silent for a while, working himself up to his next words.
"I'm sorry you lost him." He said honestly, his own feelings for the late Commander no longer relevant. "He must have been something very special, that I never saw."
"He ..." Chance began and then stopped, shaking his head. "He's gone. That's just the way it is."
Jake nodded, accepting that. He still hated the Kat to his very soul, but he still grieved that Chance had lost someone so important to him.
Silence fell between them again although Jake was sure that, this time, Chance wouldn't have known what to say regardless of who he'd been talking to.
"Care to go out for a drink?" He finally offered the tabby, not sure if this was something Chance would want to get drunk after remembering.
He was amazed to see the tabby's mouth curl into a smile. "He'd completely kick my ass for it, but yeah. Just one."
"Anyplace in particular?" He offered, relieved to see that smile.
The tabby shook his head. "I don't do that much drinking these days."
"I think I saw The Green House was still open." He said a bit uncertainly.
"Probably as good a place as any," Chance nodded. "When do you get off?"
"Whenever," he shrugged and moved to grab a light jacket. "There are no hours around here, just things to do. Felina knows inventors work when we have ideas and pace when we don't." He chuckled softly.
"Let's go then," the tabby said with a nod, turning towards the door with his former partner not far behind.
"When did you stop drinking?" The question was out of his mouth before Jake could stop it.
Chance didn't reply at once. In fact he didn't say anything until they were in the lift and on their way down towards the ground floor. "It started interfering with my work," he admitted at last.
"Oh," he blinked in surprise. The tabby had always liked to indulge, but never to that extent. Never.
"Yeah," Chance said softly. "Not exactly my most shining moment."
"Sounds like things got pretty bad there for a while."
"It could have been worse," Chance said as he lift opened and they stepped out. "It could have been a hell of a lot worse."
"You could have gotten yourself killed," Jake murmured quietly.
"I could have gotten someone else killed," Chance countered.
"Yeah," Jake flinched. "That's worse."
"It didn't happen," Chance was trying to sound more upbeat, but he couldn't entirely shake the subdued tone. "I wouldn't be here now if it had."
Jake could only nod, not wanting to think too much about how bad that would have been, no matter how the wording was taken. "I'm glad it didn't."
Chance just nodded, silently cursing the fact that he'd managed to drag up two of his most awkward and painful memories in quick succession. "I don't remember you being much of a drinker at all," he said, trying to change the subject.
"It's not ... safe." He murmured. "Even when I don't loose my temper, the nightmares can get pretty vivid." He looked at the ground as they walked in silence to Chance's car. "We're a hell of a pair right now, aren't we?"
"Yeah, sounds like neither of us should really be having this drink," The tabby chuckled. It didn't stop him from getting in the car though, or Jake from getting in the passenger side.
"Probably not," he chuckled a little. "Not the dumbest thing either of us has done though."
"Oh I'm so not going there," Chance said, the shade of a smile appearing on his face. "This conversation's morose enough already."
"And neither of us need to be remained just how brain-dead we've been." He chuckled weakly as the car started. "We get enough of them without the help."
"Oh you've got that right," Chance said as he pulled out into the traffic. "Just wait until Felina finds some reason to chew your tail."
"I'm looking to avoid that experience as long as possible," Jake shook his head with a small bit of amusement. "I get enough of it trying to deal with Callie and Justin. I can not even begin to get a grip on that situation, and she's rather fixed on the idea that I should move in, now that I'm in town again."
"What's he like?" Chance asked hesitantly. "Your kit, I mean."
"Brilliant, creative ... he'll scare the hell out of you if you listen too long." He shook his head with a chuckle and a bit of a smile. "Not ten years old and he's already surpassed me in half a dozen fields with no sign of slowing down."
"You must be real proud."
Jake paused, trying to correlate that to anything he'd done. "Callie raised him." He finally said. "I keep getting surprised he doesn't hate me for never being there."
"Still, he's obviously your kit though," the tabby persisted. "Not everyone's that smart."
"No," he admitted, "no doubt I sired him. It's just so weird to try to think of myself as a father, much less of a nine year old."
"Yeah, must be a bit weird," the tabby nodded, scanning for a parking spot now that they were closer to their destination. "Still, you must have had some idea. Couldn't you tell Miss Briggs was in heat?"
Jake shook his head. "The way she tells it, it started a couple days after I was with her. If it wasn't such a moot point, I'd be studying biology to find out if that's really possible. I know I was pretty out of it there for a few months, but I'm sure I wasn't that far gone."
Chance's mouth was pressed into a disapproving line as he pulled into a parking spot and turned of the engine. "I wouldn't have picked her as one to pull something like that."
"The only part I know is true is that it did start within a couple days." He rolled his shoulders a bit to unwind. "And however it happened, the city is going to be a better place for having Justin running around it. I try not to think about it too much. Reminds me of just how weird my life has been. It'd hardly be the most unlikely event to have happened, after all."
"C'mon," the tabby said, jerking his head in the direction of the bar, "Let's just go forget all about it."
"Best idea I've heard in awhile." He nodded and easily got out, shoving the rest to the back of his mind. One drink or drunk, tonight he was following Chance.
The moment they walked through the door, the tabby was pointing out one of the booths that ran along the wall. "I'll buy. What do you feel like?"
Jake had to pause, a momentary reality check that he hadn't a clue. "Whatever," he answered and sat down. "I haven't had it before anyway."
Chance smiled and headed off to the bar. When he returned he was carrying a double shot of a bright green liquid he remembered from the days when they were partners and two much larger glass mugs.
"It's from Tzei-wei," Chance explained, "Made from honey and apples. They may all have rods up their butts but they know how to make a drink."
"Something has to loosen them up," Jake snickered and accepted it, taking a sip of the sweet smelling liquid.
"'Ain't that the truth," the tabby smiled, then threw his head back and downed the green drink in one swallow.
It was a motion that Jake's eyes followed intently over his glass even as part of his mind started screaming that he was setting himself up for a huge mistake.
If Chance was having the same feeling he gave no indication of it. "Here's to royally screwing up," he said as he lifted his glass. For a moment Jake thought that the tabby was going to try and take the sweet drink down in one gulp as well, but if he'd ever had the ability to swallow so much at one he'd either lost it or decided against it.
"You said it," Jake agreed and lifted his own in reply before taking a swallow. The sweet liquid almost felt warm going down, like a fine syrup. Despite knowing better, he decided he rather liked it, at least tonight.
"So have you decided about moving in with them?" Chance asked, seeming to pluck a subject out of thin air.
"Not yet," Jake shook his head. "She'd be expecting to share a bed. Haven't decided if that's something I want. It's not like I go to my own apartment all that often anyway."
"Yeah, that's one to be real careful about. You'd never know if she was going to get knocked up without telling you."
Jake swirled the light amber liquid in his glass for a moment before taking another drink. "It's not like she has many years for that left, if any." He shrugged. "She's nearly fifty."
"She obviously found a way before," Chance said, breaking the accusation with a long swallow from his own drink. "If she really wanted to she'd find a way again."
Jake looked into his glass and took a swallow before replying. "She would then whether I shared her bed or not." He said simply with a kind of acceptance that wasn't at all normal. "It's not about that at all."
"So what's it about?"
"Just whether I want to be with her," he shrugged. "Or anyone, really. It's not really my thing."
One side of Chance's mouth curled up into an entirely inappropriate smirk. "Rather play the field huh?" He asked, draining the last of his drink.
Unaccountably Jake chuckled, only half way through his own glass. "More like not play at all."
"Well that takes all the fun out of things, doesn't it?" Chance asked, leaning back and resting his hands behind his head. "Damn, I'd almost forgotten how good those taste."
"It is pretty good," he nodded and took another swig, not sure how to respond to the other statement.
"Sure," JAke cracked a bit of a loopy grin and finished off the one he had.
Somewhere in the back of his mind Jake had the feeling they'd said there would only be one drink, but then Chance had already broken that rule. He also remembered saying he'd buy, but the tabby was doing that too It was going to be an interesting night, one he would likely remember very little of, given what he was already feeling. And despite the protests of what was left of his common sense, he didn't really care.
He'd decided he'd follow Chance's lead tonight, and he would.
The tabby came back laden just as he had been before, swallowing the shot with an ease that Jake remembered from back in their Academy days and then letting the sweet drink follow more slowly in the silence that seemed to follow them.
Still, with something to occupy his mouth, it wasn't as bad as before, and it was hard to make things worse when it was quiet.
"So." Chance said eventually. "What're you going to do if you don't move in with your kit?"
The question startled Jake for a moment. "Same as I am." He shrugged. "Got nothing better going."
"And here I thought you were the guy who always had a plan," Chance chuckled, shaking his head. "Just goes to show."
"When there's trouble, yeah." He chuckled and took a swig. "The rest? Just going with the flow of things best I can."
"Somehow I don't really believe that."
"Which part?" Jake asked curiously, his brain already too foggy to make many leaps.
"Just going with the flow. I've seen your file, remember. You've always got your own plan."
"Three or four, usually," he chuckled a bit. "That part's simple. If I don't like it here, I go back to what I was doing, seeing the world and tweaking things along the way. You ... you and Callie are the wild cards."
"Me?" Chance asked, raising an eyebrow. "Oh yeah, you came all this way for me."
"Came, not really," he took a drink and lowered his eyes. "Stay ... yeah. I'd stay here for you."
"Why?" the tabby asked bluntly, setting his second empty glass down with a bit too much force.
"'Cause I love you." The words came out of his mouth far too quickly to be anything but the truth. It was testament to how slowly his brain was working that it took Jake several seconds to realize he'd said it out loud.
The tabby looked like he'd been struck between the eyes with a guided missile.
"I need another ..." he began as he moved to stand, but tripped over something beneath the table and stumbled. He stood there for a moment, propped up more with his arms against the table than by his legs. "I'm drunk," he said, as though he were realizing something horrible for the first time. "We need to get out of here. Now."
Jake was still in the mindset to follow along, and he did. It took him a couple tries, his body decidedly uncoordinated after a glass and a half of the honey-apple brew, but he managed to follow his former partner outside.
Chance got outside and went all the way to the car before clutching his keys in one hand and searing explosively. "Fuck it all! I can't drive like this. I can't drive. What the fuck is wrong with me?"
The uncharacteristic explosion was enough to send Jake a couple steps backwards, almost tripping over his own tail in the process.
"Taxi?" He suggested, not all that sure what was going on.
"Yeah, yeah we've gotta ... I think there's a phone, back in there."
"Right here," Jake pulled it out of his pocket. "Felina insisted, cause I'm never where I should be." He added with a mumble and worked to focus on the small screen and buttons enough to tap in a three digit code.
"Yeah, taxi to ... wherever I am."
"No, no ambulance, no Enforcers, just home. Just a bit too drunk."
"Yes, thanks." He managed before hanging up.
When he looked up again Chance was sitting on the curb with his face buried in his hands.
"It'll be okay," he sat down next to the bigger tom. "I'm sure ... I'm sure he'd understand."
"I can't believe that I could just ..." the tabby's voice wavered and for a horrible moment Jake thought he was about to cry. "I was supposed to be better than that. A lot better."
Jake was at an utter loss as to what this was about, but he was determined to do his best to help, whatever that meant.
"You do your best," he said softly. "Some days it's better than others, is all. I'm the one who invited you."
"I should have known better," the tabby said bitterly.
"Yeah, and you didn't do anything you shouldn't have after." He tried to be supportive despite the haziness of his own brain and being completely out of his depth. "You did what you should have."
"Too late," the tabby accused himself.
"No, too late would have been after that car had moved." Jake said firmly, sure of that much.
But the tabby wouldn't be reassured of his own good nature, no matter what Jake tried to tell him. When the taxi finally arrived Chance drew himself upright and almost tumbled into the back seat, a gray and miserable expression on his face. Fortunately not much was required of either of them. The driver took them to Jake's apartment complex, one of the lower end ones that had more Enforcers per level than most donut shops, without a word, not even asking to get paid as Jake got Chance out of the back seat.
The tabby went without so much as a word as Jake steered him inside the building. Chance had never been this miserable a drunk before, in fact he'd used to be the energetic, jovial kind. Despite himself, Jake couldn't help wondering what had happened while he was away. It seemed like they'd both changed a lot, though he couldn't help but feel that Chance's was maybe for the worse.
Chance came to slowly, even for him, in a strange bed, in a strange place and with a decidedly odd weight against one side. He moaned softly, lifting on hand up to his forehead as if that might do something to ease the infernal throbbing inside his head.
The motion triggered a fast one next to him, immediately followed by a painful moan as the other occupant of the bed carefully lowered himself back down.
The other occupant.
Chance scrambled to the side and rolled out of the bed, his legs supporting him with barely a tremor as he stood. It was Jake that lay on the top of the blankets, still dressed as he had been the night before when ...
"Fuck," the tabby swore softly.
"You 'kay?" the smaller tom mumbled, his loyalty still strong enough to overcome his pounding head to check on his friend.
"Yeah," Chance said with a shrug, "I guess so."
"What helps a hangover?" He managed to get out, his eyes closed and face buried in rarely used pillows.
"Water," Chance said immediately, rousing the lean tom from the bed reluctantly, "Or those sports drinks, if you've got them."
"I think there's glasses in the kitchen." He managed, focusing all his will on ignoring his throbbing head and bloodshot eyes.
"Right," Chance said, exploring almost tentatively until he found the kitchen, and then opening cupboards at random until he found the glasses. He grabbed two of the largest ones he could see, filled them with water and carried them back to Jake, who was now sitting upright on the bed, leaning back against the wall.
"Th'ks," he mumbled and accepted the glass, downing it as quickly as he could.
"This one too," Chance insisted, holding out the other glass.
"What'ta'bout you?" He looked up, but accepted the water without hesitation.
"I'll live," the tabby shrugged. "You need it more."
Jake nodded carefully and closed his eyes. "It always like this afterwards?"
"Mostly," Chance nodded. "You get used to it."
"Good reason as any not to," he mumbled and finished the water before trying to stand with slightly more success.
"Yeah. Well. You'd think so."
Jake was silent for a long moment before he looked up at his former partner, taking in the changes ten years had wrought and not really liking what he saw.
"Sorry I don't have much to offer here," he started awkwardly. "I haven't really been here much."
"It's all right," Chance said, shaking his head. "It's fine, really."
Jake paused, about to say something more before he stopped himself. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault," the tabby said softly. "None of it was your fault."
"Maybe not," he consented, his gaze on the floor from where he was leaning against the wall. "I still regret what's happened."
"Is it always gonna be like this?" Chance asked softly. "The past getting in the way?"
The question, the very fact that it was asked at all, stilled Jake for a long moment.
"It doesn't have to," he said uneasily, moving just a little closer to the tabby. "But it's hard to put it behind you."
"Yeah," the tabby chuckled but there was precious little humor in it. "Tell me about it."
Jake dropped his eyes to the floor, cursing every god and fate he could think of for what was going on.
"Chance ... have you ..." he cut his own voice off, not wanting to think about what his brain was trying to get him to say.
"You know, with the way things have been going maybe it's best you trust that instinct and don't ask," the tabby said, shaking his head. "Where are my shoes?"
"Yeah," he nodded and shoved it away, wondering just what brought the desire on after so long. "Next to your side of the bed."
Chance spotted them, then sat down on the bed to put them on. "Where are we, anyway?"
"Badgeport," he said simply, assuming the tabby would be familiar with one of the highest Enforcer-populated areas around.
"Right," the tabby nodded, clearly thinking about how he was going to get home.
"Good enough to drive yet?" Jake asked quietly, his head responding to the rehydration a bit.
"I think so, yeah, but my car's still back at the Green House." He sighed softly. "I guess I'm going to have to go back there sooner or later."
"I can get it when I'm coherent." He offered quietly. "Probably tonight."
"No," Chance said. "I should do it myself."
Jake regarded the tabby for a long, silent moment and sighed. "You're as stubborn as either of them, you know."
"Of who?" Chance asked, looking over toward the cinnamon kat curiously.
"Your Commanders," he shook his head with a bit of a chuckle. "You're a stubborn as any Feral."
"Like you can talk," Chance snorted and the actually smiled. "They rub off on you after a while."
"Yeah, I bet they do." He nodded and relaxed a bit. "So do you, you know."
"Maybe," the tabby shrugged.
"She says that too, you know."
"No," Chance said. "I didn't."
Jake smiled softly. "Well, she does. Thinks you've done some serious rubbing off on the other Teeth too. For the better."
"I just do the best I can," Chance replied, getting up from the bed.
"I seem to remember that's always been pretty impressive." Jake's voice was soft and he didn't move from his spot. "Just don't be so hard on yourself, okay?"
"That's when things like last night happen," the tabby said firmly. "Can I use your phone? I think it'll be easiest just to get a taxi back to the Green House."
"Yeah," he nodded and waved in the general direction of the empty living room. "It's it the coat pocket."
"Thanks," Chance said simply and walked out of the room, leaving Jake with a mild hangover and a lot to think about that he thought he had put behind him long ago.
Namely that after Callie and the last few weeks, he did sometimes want more than friendship from his old partner.
With a low groan Jake put his face in his hands and tried to make it go away again. Life was just so much easier when he didn't have these thoughts.
That the tabby seemed so deeply wrapped up in guilt and blame only made things worse. It wasn't what he deserved, and there were times that Jake ached to reach out for him. Even so, Chance was still so filled with stubborn pride he may never admit that whatever had happened wasn't really his fault. It'd be all too easy for him, Jake knew, to lay blame upon blame until he just couldn't carry them any more.
It was a pattern he knew from himself, something ten years of walking and soul-searching had almost managed to cure. That Chance was still managing said a lot for the tabby's strength, and for just how bad it would be when he finally cracked.
Maybe, just maybe, Chance would let him be there when it happened.
Maybe he'd make a point of being there anyway.
That train of thought ended as the tabby came back into the room and handed him the phone.
"They'll be here soon." The tabby said. The was another of the awkward pauses that seemed to plagued them and then he found his tongue. "Thanks Jake."
"Anytime, Chance." He smiled and put the phone on the floor, out of the way. Silence descended again, though it wasn't quite as bad. "I'm probably going to stay here, till things stop spinning every time I move."
"Probably a good idea," the tabby nodded. "I'll see you later."
"Good morning, Chance." Sashari surprised the tom as he was emerging from the lift.
"Morning," he replied, once he'd recovered from his momentary shock. "I thought you were still out of town."
"In and out, in and out," she rolled her eyes. "I've bounced around more than you the last few months. How was Tzei-Wei?"
"Same as always," Chance said with a shrug, "Nothing much ever changes over there."
"Still got rods six feet up their ass, hu?" She chuckled softly, her words in strong contrast to her regal bearing.
"Pretty much, yeah," Chance chuckled softly, waving for her to follow as he headed off towards the back of the building. "The Commander wants me down in the Vault today."
"Know what for yet?" She asked curiously.
"Some tedious analysis job, probably. I don't know why, Jake'd be about a million times better at it."
"Probably 'cause she can find you." The Lioness snickered. "That one is as hard to track down in a workshop as Dark Kat is out there." She waved in the general direction of the outside.
"And he doesn't love being interrupted," Chance nodded.
"That too," she agreed. "And the minor fact that half the time he's dealing with something you do not want to have him distracted with."
"Yeah, well, I guess that's what he's here for."
"Pretty much," she nodded. "Though he's listed under sniper duties too."
"Oh as if that'll even happen," Chance snorted. "We've got plenty of sharp-shots."
"Yes, ones that have been proven able to kill." She said quietly. "I've voiced my doubts about that already to Commander Felina."
"It's her decision to make, not ours."
"Of course it is, but giving her the information to make those choices with is my job." She smiled gently. "I'm not one of those brilliant multi-taskers, like you are."
"Oh knock it off," Chance rolled his eyes as they came to a second, less widely used elevator, and ran his ID through the locking mechanism. "If anyone hears you they'll think you want me to go home with you tonight."
"No one who knows me," the Lioness laughed as they entered the lift. "You're a good kat, but you are so not my type for that."
"You think I don't know that?" The lift had only one destination, and no internal controls anyway, so it was only a few moments before the doors closed and they began to descend.
"I kind of expect everyone does, but you've missed that kind of thing before." She shrugged like it wasn't a big deal.
The look he gave her was much more upset than she was expecting.
"Don't start that with me, all right? If you've just got to be a pain in the tail you can go do it somewhere else."
"Okay ...." her voice went quiet. "What did I miss?"
"Nothing," the tabby said with a shake of his head. "Just leave it alone."
It earned him a long, appraising look before she nodded. "So are you game to run the target rage with me when you get off duty?"
"I got drunk last night, OK? Are you happy now?" The doors opened and the tabby strode out of the lift, not able to make quite as impressive an exit as he would have liked as he was brought to a stop relatively quickly by a security barrier.
"Oh," her mouth formed the expression that matched her surprise. It had been a long time since the tabby had even considered drinking, much less let himself get drunk. Only one kat could have been at the center of it too. A kat she would definitely be talking to today.
"Commander?" Sashari poked her head in the door to Felina's office in the main Tower, knowing the crack it was open meant she could get away with it. "Got a minute?"
"That's about all I've got," her superior replied without lifting her face from the file she was reading. "I'm taking reports from department heads shortly."
The Lioness stepped in and shut the door behind her. "Chance got drunk last night."
"What?" Now she had the Commander's complete attention.
"He said he got drunk last night." Sashari repeated quietly. "And from the brief look at the records I took, I'd say it was with Jake."
"I find that very easy to believe," Felina sighed shaking her head. "It's just as well I've got him assigned to the vault today. There's less scope for him to do something unfortunate."
"Given how agitated he was, it is unfortunately likely." She nodded slightly. "I thought you should know, given his history."
"Yes, yes, I'm glad you came to me." She closed the file on her desk and shook her head. "My Uncle and I had both thought this was done with. He's been doing so well, for so long."
"Jake's return has changed things," she said quietly. "It has been a long time since Chance has had to face that part of his life. I remember it did not go well the first time, either."
"This is precisely what I didn't want to see happen," Felina said, her voice lowering until it was almost a growl.
"I know, ma'am." She inclined her head regally. "I do not know what could have prevented it however. They have done well up to now. It may be something that will not repeat, with Jake aware of what happened."
"I don't think Chance would fall into the same hole twice, at least I certainly don't want to believe that of him, but I have to proceed with caution. Not least because he'll be exceeding difficult to be around for a couple of days."
"Yes," she nodded. "I have noticed that already."
"I'll see what I can do about arranging his duties so he can cause the least disruption," Felina said, returning to a more businesslike demeanor. "Thank you for informing my Sashari."
"Yes, ma'am." The Lioness inclined her head again and turned to leave, intent on cornering Jake and finding out exactly what happened the previous day.
"You wanted to see me?" Jake walked into the Commander's office with his customary disregarded for all things formal.
"Last night," Felina said heavily. "Tell me."
"Umm, we got talking, and I offered to buy him a drink." He shrugged, knowing this was not going to be all that pleasant and trying to minimize the damage. "We both had had a few more than that and ended up sleeping it off at my place."
"Oh? Is that all?" There was a false lightness in her voice which told Jake he wasn't getting away with anything.
"Really, that's about it." He told her, not sure what she wanted to know by details, and not real sure of much more than that anyway. "Did something ... happen?"
"Chance hasn't so much as smelt alcohol in several years." Felina said pointedly. "For excellent reason. Somehow I find it very difficult to believe that that has changed, overnight and for no apparent reason."
"I don't know, ma'am." He said quietly with an unusual level of deference. "He didn't say anything till we were already drunk, and that wasn't anything that made much sense."
"I can imagine he was somewhat panicked," Felina nodded. "I still find it very difficult to believe that, given his history, he would simply go out to a bar with you without at least saying something."
"Just that Feral ... Ulysses Feral ... would have kicked his tail for it, but one would be okay." He tried to remember the details of the night, still not sure what he should have seen or heard to have stopped this. "And yes, he was pretty freaked out."
"Just one," Felina repeated with a sigh. "And you had no idea about his history? That he'd been suspended because of his drunkenness? That he endangered not only his career but a series of very delicate investigations?"
The sick, stunned look on his face was answer enough for her, even before he shook his head.
"No, ma'am." He whispered, sick to his stomach. "He said he let it interfere with work, when we were waiting for the taxi, but nothing ..." he shook his head again. "Nothing like that."
"He said that he'd let it interfere with his work," Felina repeated softly, and then exploded into fury. She was just as intimidating as her uncle had ever been, but all the more surprising to have it come from her smaller frame. "What the hell did you think that meant? And what the heel did you think you were doing taking him to a bar when he'd just admitted he'd had enough trouble with alcohol it had interfered with his work. Damnit Jake you're supposed to be the smart one!"
"He didn't tell me that until after the bar." He snapped back after the initial cringe. "After he was drunk. The last time I actually talked to the kat before then, offering to buy him a drink wasn't a problem. I haven't been here the last ten years, in case you forgot. No one told me this crap until it was too late."
"And just how often do you think he decides to share that information with people Jake? You've seen him. Of course it goes without saying that you will not be accepting any more such invitations, and you will certainly not be making them. Am I understood?"
"Yes, ma'am." He nodded simply. It wasn't like he ever wanted to repeat that experience again.
"Very good," she said, the incandescent fury subsiding into something more manageable. "I'm sure you can understand that we can't afford a repeat of what happened. For everybody's sake."
"Very well, ma'am." He stated without reservation. "It is not something I care to see repeated either."
"It may also be wisest if you were to restrain your impulses to see him, at least for the next few days. He's going to be hard enough to deal with as it is."
"I understand," he nodded again, not sure if he was inclined to anyway. "On both counts."
"Then we understand each other. That will be all, Mr. Clawson."
Jake nodded slightly and left in a hurry, eager to be back to his workshop and the sanity it provided away from the rest of the world that kept insisting on screwing things up.
Chance Furlong tried not to let his frustration show as he waited outside the Commander's office. He wasn't sure exactly what she'd called him up here for, but she hadn't sounded like she was in a good mood. Just what he needed, another royal screw up to add to the list from the last couple of days.
"Furlong!" Her voice snapped him out of his brooding with the summons.
Chance stood and went through the door, stepping up to the front of the Commander's desk and standing there, hands clasped behind his back as he took in the woman he now served, her flowing black tail twitching irately and her deep brown eyes sharp and displeased as she took him in.
"Do I need to tell you why I've called you in?" She asked pointedly with her fingers templed in front of her face.
"Commander?" Chance asked, respectfully.
"The night before last. The Green House." She elaborated. "Getting drunk with Jake, who is likely the only one here who didn't know just how dangerous that is."
"Yes Commander," the tabby said stiffly, his face dipping downward towards the floor.
"Just what were you thinking when you accepted?" She demanded, her voice level.
"I ... I suppose I wasn't thinking, Commander."
"Obviously," her tone was dry and disapproving, something well beyond the annoyance he usually heard when getting chewed out. "You know this is well beyond unacceptable?"
"Yes Ma'm. Well beyond."
"What should I do about it, then?" She asked pointedly, turning the tables on him.
"I ... I don't know Ma'am," the tabby replied, his voice wavering for a moment. It wasn't a question he'd been expecting.
"Do you think I should allow you to stay in uniform?" She continued, her dark eyes boring into him.
"I ..." the tabby said again, before his voice tightened into a painful silence, torn between what he thought and couldn't say, and unable to voice it's opposite.
Felina allowed the silence to hang in the air for a painful moment before she striated and leaned back in her chair. "Consider yourself on probation, Chance." Her voice was a touch more gentle but no less an authority. "I will not write you up for this. Do not allow it to happen again."
"No Ma'am," Chance managed in weak reply.
"In addition, you will not fly combat for the next three days." She continued simply. "I strongly suggest taking the time off."
"Yes Ma'am," Chance acknowledged, his shoulders drooping slightly from the unflinchingly square posture he'd been holding. "I ... I'm not actually suspended Ma'am?"
"No," she confirmed with a slight inclination of her head. "What you are is removed from the high-danger missions until I am sure you will not do something that stupid again."
"Is there anything you wish to add?" She gave him the opportunity.
"No Ma'am," The tabby said shortly, face downcast.
"Then you are dismissed."
"Chance," Sandy tensed sharply as she saw her lover sitting on the couch, naked as she'd left him a few minutes before, but staring a liquor bottle from her cabinet like it was the center of the universe.
"If I drink this, I'm not an Enforcer anymore," the tabby said without taking his eyes of the bottle. He rolled it in his hands, watching the way the liquid moved behind the glass.
"Not in uniform at least," she consented and knelt next to him. "It'll never leave you."
"Maybe it already did. The first time."
"Chance ... it didn't." She told him with quiet certainty, very scared she was getting in way over her head and about to completely screw this up. "Messing up once does not mean it's over."
"I want it Sandy," he admitted in a tiny voice. "I want it so badly, and I just can't remember what's holding me back any more."
"Oh, Chance," she leaned forward to embrace him awkwardly. "Because you're a Hero. The city needs you. Commander Feral needs you. I need you." She added very softly.
The muscular tabby tipped his head to one side so it rested on her shoulder, but neither his eyes nor his hands released the bottle. Sandy had been more than willing to indulge herself with that body, but rarely considered how much time it meant he must spend in the gym, and what sort of emotions that effort might be masking.
It scared the hell out of her to realize just how true the last part of the statement was. He really was a huge part of her life outside the Tower and Teeth duties. Yet she barely knew him, for all that she knew his body so well.
And now his entire future ... the very core of what he had always held dear ... was in her hands.
Or, more to the point, in his.
"Maybe I should go," He sighed softly, thought he made no move to stand.
"I would rather you didn't." She said gently and didn't try to take the bottle from him, no matter how badly she wanted to. This had to be his choice and they both knew it.
"I just can't do this Sandy. I can't."
"Chance," she tried to tip his face gently towards her so he could see her. "You aren't alone. Not in this fight, not in any fight. I promise you that."
"No," he said, his voice recovering some volume as he shook his head. "I have to manage." The muscles of his arms swelled as his grip on the bottle tightened, and a sound that was almost like pain escaped his throat.
"You will." She murmured, worried about the sound and the internal struggle, but not sure what else she could do but try to support him in staying clean.
"Get rid of it," Chance said, sounding more weary than anything else. "Take it away and get rid of it."
Sandy nodded and took the bottle, hesitating only briefly before she set it back in her liquor cabinet and locked it, leaving the temptation invisible until she could do something more permanent.
When she turned back Chance was lying down on the couch, his eyes closed. For possibly the first time ever the sight didn't trigger a clenching inside her body. He looked far too tired for it, and after the past few minutes, sex was about the last thing on her mind as she sat down next to him and gently stroked his hair.
"I can't go now," he mumbled numbly. "Can't trust myself."
"Stay for as long as you want, or need, to." She told him gently. "You've always been welcome here, and I'm not about to take that back."
"I just don't know what I'm gonna do."
Felina's Teeth 2: Shadows of the Past
PG-13 for M/F
Het Level is Low Slash Level is Femslash Level is None Herm Level is None
74 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written March 29, 2004 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Vorex
Setting: SWAT Kats
Primary Races: Kat
Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). DarkFic
Blurb: Ten years after SWAT separated under less than pleasant conditions, Chance to Ulysses Feral's Teeth and Jake to who knows where, Commander Felina Feral has found Jake again, but are her hopes for reuniting SWAT under her command a little too ambitious for the trauma-challenged pair?
Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.
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