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Coming of Age 7/?, Pt. II [CATS, Tugger/Jemima]

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May. 20th, 2007 | 06:26 pm
mood: chipperwordy
music: Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore - REO Speedwagon

Title: Coming of Age
Author: cooking_spray
Fandom: CATS
Pairing: Tugger/Jemima
Genre: Drama/Romance/General
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 11,119
Status: Ongoing
Summary: Adolescence is coming to an end for the kittens. With Jemima as the oldest of the group, she feels her affections for the Tugger metamorphosing. . . And she isn‘t the only one struggling with her emotions, as well as the complexities of life itself. Now 100% more existential! This chapter: A séance is held, Jemima and Tugger have a run-in with a jilted Queen, and a lonely Electra finds company in Tumble while Admetus is at a family meeting.



Coming of Age

by Cooking Spray


~*~*~*~*~


Chapter Seven, Part II:

In Which an Incidence of Life and Death Must Occur


~*~*~*~*~


The night was still outside the nursery - still and cold, like most winter nights tend to be. Since the moon had only just risen a few hours ago, the temperature was not yet unbearable, but it was slowly getting there, as the lone Princess in the Yard's center was beginning to feel.

Electra sighed, smoothing her rusty, tortie-patterned coat (affectionately described as "toffee", because sweets were a much preferable analogy than the shade of corroded metal), on end from the chill. There were only two good things to do on such a night - stay in, curled up nice and cozy away from the harsh outdoors, or find a friend and a fun way to keep moving so that the weather never caught up. The Toffee Princess, however, was finding herself at a loss for either, something that irked her greatly.

She sniffed disdainfully as she heard Etcetera's squealing echo in the distance - Pounce had been waiting for her by the door earlier, and the White Tabby Princess had ran off with him shortly thereafter, with only a short "Bye, 'Leccie!" thrown after her as she bounded away. Electra might not have minded so much, had Admetus or even Jemima been there to keep her company - but, it was just her luck that both had picked that night to have "prior obligations". At least Addy's "family business" was a bit more forgivable than the lack of an excuse Jemima had given to her. The little minx had vanished before either she or Etcy had even awoke, but Electra had a good notion that she could've found her waiting outside the fence for Tugger. All of her usual female company had deserted her in favor of chasing after Toms, and the only reason she was bitter was because she could not follow suit.

The Toffee Princess shifted off her side, now sprawling moodily across the tire. She supposed her pouting wasn't very becoming, especially when she was due to enter Queenhood in a couple of moons, but she gave into it anyway. Boredom did not suit her, and being a victim to it was putting her into a very apathetic frame of mind. Thinking of Addy, warm in the den that Mother Jelly shared with Gus, almost made her regretful that she, too, did not have a family of her own that required her obligations. This was silly, and she knew that she was only having such absurd urges because of her own temporary solitude. Most of the time, Electra took pride in her freedom, and perhaps even thought that being a stray was the slightest bit endearing. The fact that she had stood alone for most of her life was an indication that she was not unafraid to do what was necessary to support herself in the future - something that had been entering her mind a lot recently.

Just then, there was a shuffle to the left of her, and Electra sat up, ears swiveling themselves toward the source, listening for further noises with interest. Perhaps she had a visitor? Maybe it was the Guardian, making his nightly rounds. . . She wouldn't mind that, as the Toffee Princess had always had a little crush on the silver tabby, which had only deepened into a great admiration and respect as she had grown older. This was unlikely, though, as word had gotten around that morning that he had taken Lady Demeter as his Intended. Surely the tribe's second-in-line had better things to do now than stalk about the Yard, striking up happenstance conversations with lonely Princesses.

A few more scuffling noises were heard, but when no one presented themselves, Electra's hopefulness began to diminish. It was more likely that her caller was a rat that had wedged its way into one of the junk heaps rather than another Jellicle - that, or just Jerrie and Teazer, making yet another quick getaway. Glumly, she lowered her head onto the tire again, mood even more foul. Where was a handsome Tom when a girl needed one?

As if in answer to her frustrated ponderings, the loudest of the previous racket sounded, once again startling Electra into a more alert posture. Before she could get a better panorama of her surroundings, to determine just what could be making such awful ruckus, a brown-spotted Tom burst into view a scant distance away from her. No longer expecting company, Electra's first impulse was that of panic - and, acting accordingly, she screamed.

Tumblebrutus' ears flattened in an instant, both at the offensive pitch and the shame of being a cause for fright. Trying to mediate the situation before Jennyanydots came out to investigate and accused him of some wrongful intent, he rushed forward, where the moonlight hit him more directly. As soon as the startled Princess recognized that she wasn't staring into the eyes of some strange creature of the night, or, worse, one of Macavity's henchcats, her jaws clamped, and the screaming ceased.

“Oh, Tumble. . . it’s just you. . .” Electra placed a relieved paw to her chest, against which her heart was still thudding madly.

Tumble, although now determined not to be a threat, still hung back, a bit hurt that Electra would mistake him for someone of ill-intention, especially considering how long they had known one another. Ears drooping further, he offered apology. “Sorry to, uh, scare you. . . I just came back from the alley, and saw you, and thought you might, well, want a little company. . . if you don’t, that’s okay, though.”

Now was Electra’s turn to feel rotten. Ever since Jemima had first started moping about, it seemed like Tumble had become a bit more reserved about playing the usual games, himself, so it hadn’t even occurred to her that he might be alone tonight, too. That, and no matter what sort of delusions Jemi was having about the Tugger, the Toffee Princess still thought that the pair might make a good match. The conversation the three of them had shared in the TSE1 that night had given her the idea, but now she was beginning to rethink herself. Maybe Tumble really wasn’t interested in Jemi, after all. If he was, wouldn’t he be looking for her, instead of standing here?

She shook her head. “No, no, I’m the one who should apologize. I just overreacted a little. Sorry.” She grinned, trying not to seem glib, and then sat up and patted the space on the other side of the tire. “Here, you can sit, if I haven’t scared you away.”

Still a bit apprehensive, but at least temporarily eased by Electra’s sincerity, he climbed over the tire and sat where she had motioned. The Toffee Princess smiled at him again, some sheepishness still lingering in her features, and he relaxed. It was good to know that he wasn’t the only one who was still embarrassed.

As was commonplace in such scenarios, a bit of an awkward silence followed. Electra had gotten her wish, and even if it wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, Tumble’s presence was more cathartic than she had anticipated. She had gotten far too used to having Admetus for company - with him, there was never any sitting down, although Electra usually liked to be kept on the move anyhow. The change of pace was nice, though. The young spotted Tom, with his honest and reserved manner, somehow put her at ease too, even though he had given her a fright just moments earlier. Suddenly, spending an evening like this didn’t seem too terrible.

“It seems like everyone besides us is out having fun, huh?” Tumblebrutus looked up to see Electra turning her eyes to the stars, looking a touch wistful. He tried not to stare, but couldn’t help himself - lately, the Toffee Princess struck him as gorgeous. Unfortunately, however, he was not the only young Tom to think so. Admetus had always been quicker to act upon his feelings though (or rather, had always been the more charismatic one), and seeing how well the two seemed to compliment each other had thusly discouraged him from doing likewise. It really wasn’t fair - Tumble knew Addy was still attracted to Jemima, too, even though she hadn’t paid anyone besides the Tugger romantic attention. He had it in his head that the Curious Cat was just a phase that all Princesses go through, and that Jemi just hadn’t passed hers yet. The more Tumble watched her, the more he didn’t agree, though, and thought that Jemi’s feelings deserved more merit than that. In a way, he thought he understood them. It was only in times like these, when everyone else had better things to do, that he could capture Electra’s full attention.

Electra turned to him again, and met his eyes - he wondered if she had noticed his staring. If so, it didn’t seem to bother her. “You don‘t mind being alone, do you? I mean. . . when the rest of us off together, getting up to the usual mischief, you seem to hold back sometimes. I hope it’s not because you feel excluded, but. . . Most of the time, you look like it doesn’t bother you.”

Tumblebrutus was inwardly surprised that she had paid enough attention to him to notice such behavioral quirks. Perhaps he hadn’t given her enough credit - or, more plausibly, he had dismissed his chances too hastily. Whatever the case, it was cause for a smile. “I’ve always kind of been the odd one out. It usually doesn’t get me, although it did sometimes when I was littler. I gotten used to being alone, though, and decided I liked it. It gives me time to think, and I don’t think a lot of us give ourselves time to do that every once in a while. Once I got time to stop and consider things, I came to the conclusion that maybe the reason why I always allowed myself to get left behind was because I was the type of cat who actually needs to be alone every so often.” He realized he had rambled, and looked down, cheeks growing heated. “Sorry. That’s probably more than you wanted to know.”

Once again, to his awe, Electra actually seemed intrigued. “No, it’s fine. It’s just that I’m not usually like that. . . At least, I don’t think I am. I feel best when I’m with friends, having fun. When I’m all by myself, I get depressed. I think Jemima is a little like you, too - it always confused me when she went off by herself. But now I know what the both of you do when I think you’re being unsociable!”

Tumble smiled, amused. “You’re an extrovert - you like to be among people, and socialize. Jemima and I are both introverts - we don’t mind socializing when the time is right, but we need to be alone, too.” This was an observation he had already made long ago, but it was still true.

The Toffee Princess giggled. “You sound like Misto. He always uses the perfect words like that, to describe a cat. . . I wonder how the both of you got so smart. When I want to describe something that way, it always comes out all jumbled together.”

Although it was indirect, Tumblebrutus flushed again at Electra’s compliment. How did Humans exist, without fur to mask their embarrassment from the world? “Well, if it’s any consolation, I can understand you just fine.”

“Aw, that’s such a sweet thing for you to say!” Electra beamed at the spotted Tom, genuinely pleased. If Admetus were here, rather than Tumble, they probably would’ve already fought twice over some careless remark he’d made. She found herself not unwelcoming of the change of pace. Why was it that she and Tumble had never talked this way before?

Doing the only thing she could think of to properly show her appreciation, the Toffee Princess leaned across the tire, and kissed him on the cheek. She sat back, looking quite pleased with herself, and especially the spotted Tom’s incredulity as one paw found the place her lips had graced seconds before. This gave her a feeling of warmth, to have been given a compliment and returned it, in her own way. It was a different kind of warmth, too, unlike the variety that Admetus sometimes made her feel, with a paw around her waist or even on her hip, ever so briefly. This warmth inspired a feeling of safety, security. She couldn’t differentiate between the two more exactly in words, even though Tumble probably could. Electra did not want to ask him, however. Somehow, this seemed like something she should keep to herself for a while. She couldn’t properly explain this, either, but knew at the same time that it was the best thing to do.

“Th-thank you. . . ?" It was all that Tumble knew to say. Electra’s openness, while not exactly unknown to him, sometimes still came as a shock. Then again, her spontaneity was one of the traits that made him admire her.

“Oh, no need for thanking.” She winked, liking the adorable effect her coyness seemed to produce on Tumble. “I’m just paying you back. I can’t give you pretty words like you introverts can, but I can give you the next best thing I have to offer: a smack on the cheek, courtesy of ‘Leccie!”

Tumblebrutus shook his head, grinning in spite of himself. “I’m sure you have other talents. Don’t undersell yourself.”

Electra was both surprised and delighted as she heard Tumble actually playing along. “You’re right, that’s not the best I have to offer. . . but you only get to see the rest if you promise to stop thinking and start hanging out with us again once in a while. It’s not fair play to go all broody for a week.”

“Maybe I’ll have to take your advice, then.” The brown-spotted Tom’s grin expanded, and he even quirked an eyebrow. He almost looked like that same Tom who had helped Addy pin her for a tickle attack, on a not-so-faraway moon.

The Toffee Princess sported a grin to match his, and teasingly nudged his knee with her own. “Just ’maybe’?”

“Alright, must.”

As the two looked fondly upon one another, Electra’s good spirits restored and then some, Admetus was the furthest thing from their worries.

It was safe to say that they were the furthest from his, too.


~*~*~*~*~



There are cats whose specialty in life is to look out for others, offer guidance, protection, and unwavering support. There are also cats whose specialty is to See, to Know, and to forewarn. And then, there is the third category - the entertainers, who feel most alive in the center of things, always seeking to garner appreciation. Their numbers and talents are many, and always the most oft-remembered, through the persona they create for the stage of life.

Gus belonged to this third category. He was an actor, a story-teller - before he was even weaned, he found ways to make up stories about things, from the magic machine (later revealed to be a lorry) that whisked his family away every morning, in the garage where he and his mother and siblings were confined, to the strange Human children who always wanted to coo and pet him, never understanding his wishes to explore on his own stubby legs. And as he grew older and more wizened, his love for stories only expanded - he was introduced to acting, and the joys of a stage and a script. These were things that had not deserted him, even in his most elderly years. Even when you become too feeble for performing, there are always constants in the life of an entertainer that will never leave - a love of life itself, and the ability to tell about it, for even those beyond the realm of your experience to appreciate.

Those who share that life with you, though, can often be the most difficult to comprehend this compulsion to live for others, rather than merely yourself. Especially when you've reached the end of your path, and have only these stories left to tell, knowing that all new ones that will be created will be done so without you. It is hard even for the storyteller to accept this; that stories will still be told, even without the storyteller there to tell them.

Gus knew his days were numbered - he was old, and he was lucky to have had the privilege of living richly in his time on Earth, to have met so many wonderful felines such as himself and touched their lives. He was lucky to have had a family, what with the inconstancy and roam that his lifestyle usually required, a beautiful Queen and a son who shared his passion. And he was lucky to be able to pass on not alone, but surrounded by friends, and to have the promise of the Heaviside Layer stretched out before him.

This was why he had called the family meeting, even though he had never in the history of all their days together cared for such a formal thing - but now, there was a necessity for it. It was the final act of his life, and it required some solemnity and recognization before everything that had transpired thus far could be celebrated.

Propped up among the cushions, with Jellylorum on one side and Admetus on the other, they sat together quietly, waiting for Gus to speak. The Matron had one of her Mate's paws in her own, and was stoking his arm. Addy was looking down into the folds of the blankets, expression intense and unreadable.

"Family," the Theatre Cat said finally, in a rich and emotive voice that had only been made slightly rickety by age. "Both of you - my beloved, my son - know what I am about to say. And even though I am usually excellent at saying things, especially to such a small audience, this is something that even fail to find the words to express."

Tears began to well in Jelly's eyes, but Gus shhhed her and wiped them with his paw, preventing their descent. "I know you will not be able to help missing me, just as I will not be able to help missing you. So, let us spend the time together, as if it is the last we have - and let there be no tears. Save them for later, for when the time comes, I'm sure you will have plenty."

The elderly Tom gripped the paw that his Queen had already taken hold of more tightly, and then looked to his young son, offering him the other. Admetus looked up and met his gaze, expression almost unreadable, and accepted it. His mother reached for his paw as well, and together the three of them formed a circle on the floor of the den, silent with sorrow.

"Remember that these incidences of life and death must occur," Gus whispered, facing his only child. "You will be no stranger to them as your own life progresses; your mother has seen many in her own time. Some will affect you more than others, but you will never forget the first that you encounter, because it will awaken you to the fact that your days here are limited. Live fully, as I have - don't let death trifle you unless it has to."

Jellylorum had started trembling at the words, and Gus rested his head against hers, giving her strength. "You knew that this part would be the hardest, Jelly-love. And you have kept by my side even in spite of this."

He looked to Admetus again, squeezing his hand, gaze firm. "You're young yet, Admetus. I gave you a strong name, because I knew that you would take after me, and that you would need the importance of a sturdy title to remind you of your place in the world, should you ever get lost. I know that right now, you are still a kitten, and the things that preoccupy you are the things that preoccupy all youths - and although you will soon become a Tom, I will only get a glimpse to the kind of person you will turn out to be. However you live, Admetus, live fully. I cannot ask you to live for me, because you must follow your own road, but do look after your mother. Neither of you deserve to be alone."

The rust-calico Tom nodded shortly, and tightened his grip on his father's hand. There was a tense silence, through which the wind predictably whistled, and then Gus smiled again.

"No more talk of grim things, now. Remember what I've said - but for now, I still have time left, and out of all the wonderful cats I've met in this glorious country, you're the two I'd most like to share it with."

The Theatre Cat drew both Mate and son closer, and neither protested. As the weather built into a tempest outside, howling and thrashing, the trio stayed warm, one last time, together.


~*~*~*~*~



Chapter seven is, finally, complete. I started it some time in February, and finished in May. . . how truly pitiful is that? But never to fear, summer break is on the way in two glorious days.

Thoughts on this chapter. . . Well, the Cassie/Cori element may've come as a surprise. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I've been entertaining the idea of them together for a while, partially because Cassandra is a very seductive character, and I can entertain the idea of her with anyone. XD Coricopat is rarely written, though, so I thought I'd find a way to give him a small role in the grand, sprawling thing this little ficlet is turning out to be. This is what happens when CS sits down to write the humble beginnings of "a realistic 'Tugger falls in love' story with Jemima". . . full blown fiction warfare. I don't do things on a small scale, no. This is why all of my one shots can't be kept under seven pages, and why these author’s notes keep stretching themselves into ungainly proportions.

Anyhow, I have to say that the scene with Tugger, Jemi, and Bomba was my favorite to write. It went through countless minor revisions, since I composed it over such a long span of time, but I had too much fun. It also may or may not sound like it’s on acid, considering I was inspired by at least five vastly differing prose styles that I was reading at the time. XD I really wanted to expose some things about Tugger's character, to make some of his behavior more dimensional, and I did this while concentrating more on Jemima's perceptions rather than his (which are not always exactly reliable, you must understand). I'm proud of the result. Bomby and the tiara has to be one of my favorite bits, too. And Tugger knows his pick-up lines are corny, but he also knows that the Queens will love him no matter what he says. XD

Also, we have this new Tumble/Electra/Admetus love triangle thing broadening. . . It was alluded (well, more than that, really XD) to from early on that they both wanted monopoly on her affections, but that Addy was the more forward of the two. In order to make Leccie's indecision plausible, though, I gave her and Tumble this neat little scene all to themselves. Just in case, y’know, Tugger and Jemi didn’t quite deliver with the sticky-sweet romance (it’s the genre, so I have to get my quota in!). Tumble went through some personality re-evaluation, though, methinks. . . The bad aspect of writing things over a span of time is that as you and your writing evolve, so does continuity. In chapter three, if you’ll rummage through the lowest dirges of your memory, he was arguing with Addy and tackling Pounce - and now he’s playing Mr. Sensitive. I did try to justify it. . . lamely. XD Oh well. We all know how differently boys behave around other boys, correct?

And lastly. . . the Gus. No one writes about him! I suppose that it’s because he’s older, and thus unappealing to most of the fan fiction-composing demographic. . . That, or everyone fell asleep during John Mills performance, and forgot him entirely. This was a necessary inclusion, though, partially because it will have special plot relevance (guess, guess!) later, and because it’ll do some things for Addy that will in turn do some. . . other things. You’ll see!

I’m leaving this one on that note. Until next chapter (of which I already have seven whole pages written! Go me and my fore-planning!), you can, er, read all of the previous ones and remember what in the hell happened up to this point in the first place. XD Yeah!




Previous Chapters:

1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6

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Comments {1}

brigitte

(no subject)

from: scullyish
date: May. 21st, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
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yet again, this is awesome. you put so much detail and thought into this. as i said, lovely!

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