Admetus lay on top of a mailbox. He slowly exhaled as he took a swipe at the reflexion from the sun bouncing off the windows in the passing cabbies. He knew very well he'd never hit it, since he'd learnt when he was twelve weeks that sun reflexions never let themselves be caught, but still he kept swatting the red metal where it appeared over and over again. The grey and brown tom cat was bored out of his wits. Munkustrap'd said he'd go fetch Rum Tum Tugger and then come back for him. The grey tabby had said he knew exactly where to find Tugger. He had promised to be back in a half hour for Admetus. That had been almost five hours ago. Admetus had reached the point where he was hardly angry anymore, but simply lay pondering the different possibilities of revenge.
"Maybe I'll simply leave and then they'll have to look for me when they get here," he muttered to himself.
"No, that was something I could've done for revenge two hours ago, he then scolded himself. They're not getting away that easily now..."
"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," a voice crooned. The tom turned his head to see an old human who was about to put her mail in the box. Smiling, he gave her the benefit of a purr. Anything to break the monotony. "And a good day to you too," the speckled tom greeted her and allowed her to stroke his head. Then he frowned at her.
"What do you think?" he asked her. "You think I should simply leave and head for the junkyard, where I'll probably find Plato or Mistoffelees or Pouncival or someone else to play with, or do you think I should wait here until hell freezes over and spend my time coming up with the most excellent vengeance-plan in the history of cat?"
"Yes, you are! Ooooh aren't you a little darling!"
"Forget it, all right?" Admetus sighed. "I can see you won't be of much help..."
And he gently batted at the human's hand to get her to leave him alone.
"Everlasting cat, give me a sign," he groaned. Most of all he wanted to wait until the two other toms arrived and then pounce them senseless, but he knew that was an impossible dream; Munkustrap had withstood Macavity for almost two minutes, and even though Rum Tum Tugger kept telling everyone he wasn't much of a fighter, Admetus had no wish at all to attack someone who'd grown up around the ginger one.
"It would've been fun, though," the speckled cat murmured to himself as his imagination came to life. Everyone would've been so shocked! They all thought he was the gentlest tom in the tribe, that he would never hurt a fly or even hiss at human children if they got rough. As he thought it through, he couldn't disagree completely with them. Beside the fact he hardly ever crossed anyone; every time he pulled a prank, either Plato or Tugger took the blame and Jellylorum's nagging tirades, and hence left the "Admetus' reputation" untattered. The young tom suddenly got annoyed again. What did they think, that he couldn't be mean, or have tantrums, or even take a swipe at someone?
"Time I change things," Admetus concluded, stifling a yawn, as the sun and the warm metal made him drowsy. As he stretched, a movement below the mailbox caught his attention. Looking down, he met the gazes of two kittens, sitting right under him. Well, maybe not kittens, they seemed to be a year or older.
"Hello?" the brown and grey tom said with a slight smile. The kittens glanced at each other, and then back at Admetus.
"Hello," the white tom with brown patches answered. The speckled, mostly white kitten next to him was silent.
"Are you here to send someone a greeting, or do you want to tell ME something?"
The kittens looked at each other in confusion.
"What?" the speckled kitten with the curious erratic strands of fur sticking out around his chin said.
"This is a mailbox; humans send greetings to other humans with its help."
"Huh?" the patched kitten said.
"Oh, forget it," Admetus winced. Apparently, this was going to be one of THOSE days.
"We're new in the neighbourhood," the speckled kitten said.
"No kidding," Admetus muttered under his breath.
"I'm George, and this is Victor," the brown and white kitten said.
"A pleasure, I'm sure. I'm Admetus. You're in Jellicle territory."
"What?" the tom kitten Victor asked.
"Of course you've never heard of the Jellicles..."
"Yes we have," George objected. "A nice cat mentioned them to us this morning."
"Really?" Admetus replied, thinking of how he would be able to get rid of the kittens as fast as possible.
"He warned us about them," the kitten Victor nodded.
"Really?" Admetus asked, the words sparking an interest in him.
"Yes, he was very nice. He showed us around town, and he told us the Jellicles were dangerous for kitten morals, and that we should stay away from them," George explained.
"Reeeally..?" Admetus mused while holding back a smile. "This nice cat, was he a thin ginger stray?"
"Yes! Have you met him?" Victor chirped happily.
"I've had the privilige, yes," Admetus murmured.
Apparently, Macavity'd had a field day with these two kittens. Munkustrap would get furious, as usual when an issue involved the ginger one. And Tugger would probably laugh so hard he'd choke.
Admetus blinked. "I ask forgiveness, Everlasting Cat, for being so slow..!" he breathed. "Thank you!" Then he leapt to the ground and put on his most angelic smile.
"George and Victor, you have been very lucky," he said. "You could easily have bumped into one of the high ranking Jellicles instead of the nice ginger tom."
The kittens gasped as they looked at each other.
"Yes, they rove this area frequently," Admetus nodded solemnly, and was rewarded with another gasp.
"The nice cat told us about some of the things the Jellicles have been responsible for," George said, eyes wide. "We could have gotten into so much trouble!"
"You're safe with me," Admetus reassured them, and the looks of gratitude he got almost made him shudder. "The Jellicles are unpleasant cats, but there are two that are worse than the others. If you meet them in an empty street, you'd better run."
"Who are they?" Victor almost hissed, moving closer to George.
"One is the leader among the Jellicles. His name is Munkustrap, and he's a silver tabby with glowing green eyes, and there's not a Pollicle nor a stray in the entire city of London who doesn't wear his mark, carved deep from his sharp claws..."
"And the other one?" George urged.
"He's easy to recognize. He's a large, lanky tom with black coat, spotted paws and golden face and eyes, and his trademark is his mane-like neck-fur and his walk..."
"In his childhood home, there was a dreaded red cock who used to terrorize the entire area, and this character, who goes by the name of Rum Tum Tugger, studied the cock, and not only copied its walk, but its personality. Many a cat's eyes were pecked out by that cock..."
"It's even worse than what the nice ginger tom told us," Victor wailed.
"Well, you get used to hiding after a few weeks," Admetus sighed and shook his head with a look of sorrow on his face. "Look at me, I've managed to survive for more than two years..."
"I don't think I want to live here," George hissed to Victor. The bearded kitten didn't answer, as his gaze was attached to something behind Admetus' back.
"L-l-look..!" he stuttered. Admetus and George followed his gaze, and George shrieked.
"It's them, isn't it? It's them?"
Indeed, Munkustrap and Rum Tum Tugger had just turned around the corner and were heading towards the mailbox. Admetus smiled grimly.
"So it seems," he agreed.
"We have to flee, Victor!" George howled, and spun around and bounded down the street faster than Mistoffelees lightning bolts, with Victor right behind them. At the sight, Admetus collapsed in hysterical laughter, while his two friends reached him and looked at each other, and then at him with querying looks.
"You try and talk to Admetus, and I'll go fetch those kittens I think I saw disappearing in the distance," Rum Tum Tugger suggested to the grey cat, who nodded his approval. At the nod, the lanky tom dug his paws into the asphalt to catch up with George and Victor, swooshing around the corner the next instant. Munkustrap sat down patiently, his usual bland expression on his face. As the grey and brown tom started gasping for air, he reached out a black paw and poked at Admetus.
"Want to share the joke?" he asked gently.
"Oh- it's-really... nothing- YOU- would- appreciate," Admetus managed to get out.
"Really? And I always thought myself to be an open-minded cat with a good sense of humour," the tabby murmured and blinked with his green eyes. "Tell me, Admetus, why were those kittens so scared of us?"
"Oh- no- reason- maybe- by your- sudden app- earance..?"
"And yet we turned a corner more than five metres away and sauntered up to you..."
"Yeah- well- you know; -kittens-"
"Mm, mm. Easily impressed and easily mislead... What ever did you tell them?"
"You left me waiting- for FIVE HOURS- grey one-"
Munkustrap looked surprised at Admetus sudden outburst, and widened his eyes slightly at the speckled tom's glare.
"When Tugger calls me that, he makes it sound like a nickname," he gently scolded Admetus, his eyes narrowing at this unknown side in the younger cat.
"Give me a really good- excuse, and I'll consider- taking it back," the speckled tom muttered, himself slightly shocked at yelling at his leader.
"I'm sorry we let you wait for so long," Munkustrap said after a moment of silence. "My only excuse is that I had a hell of a time finding Tugger. It's not really a good excuse, unfortunately. I should have sent someone for you. It was negligent and inconsiderate on my part to let you wait here for that long, and-"
"All right, shut it, Munkustrap," Admetus groaned. "Do you have to be so darned good at apologizing? I forgive you."
Munkustrap grinned broadly at him and leaned over to give the younger tom an affectionate nuzzle.
"You're a nice cat, Admetus," the large tabby smiled.
"Too nice," Admetus sighed, but couldn't resist smiling back.
"The curiosity's killing me, though; what in the world did you tell those poor kits?"
"I didn't tell them anything!" the speckled tom squirmed. "It was really all Macavity's fault."
"Macavity?" the tabby asked in a low voice, crouching slightly at the name.
"He warmed them up. All I had to do was to add a little..."
"A little what, Admetus?"
"Hmmm, I suppose the word is, eh "lies"..."
"Please continue," the tabby said in a calm voice, a frown forming on his brow.
"Well, I was lying around here, quite upset with you and Tugger, and I was going through different retaliation schemes, and then those two, George and Victor, appear and tell me they've been warned by this nice ginger cat to stay away from the daaangerous Jellicles... I think Macavity's sending you a little greeting; he said you were a hazard to kittens' morals..."
"I truly hate that cat," he muttered under his breath. "Go on."
"There's not much more to be told, except perhaps I added a little... spice... to the ginger one's tales," Admetus explained in a lame voice, peering at the grey tom's expressions, not sure how the tabby would react after the mentioning of Macavity. Munkustrap was silent for a few seconds, which made the younger cat slightly nervous.
"Uhm, Munkustrap..? Are you gonna beat me up badly..?"
"Hm? What? Don't be preposterous, Admetus. Tugger does much worse things, and I don't ever beat him up, now do I?"
"Actually, I very clearly remember Tugger walking around with scratches for several weeks this spring..."
"It was Pouncival, wasn't it? I knew he wouldn't be able to keep his mouth shut!" the tabby almost fumed. Admetus grinned.
"No one told me, I figured it out by myself," he revealed. "Macavity has much larger paws than fit Tugger's scratches, and then add the fact you seemed very timid for some time around him, and the fact he could barely hide his smirking was enough evidence for me. Don't worry, no one else knows..."
"I keep underestimating you, don't I, my friend?" Munkustrap winced, but then he too smiled.
"And here comes Rum Tum Tugger with the kittens," Admetus said, squinting at the three cats that were slowly making their way towards them. "How in the world did he make them to come with him? I thought they'd run until they dropped dead..." The speckled cat giggled slightly at the memory of the speed the kittens had left in.
"You have to apologize to them, Admetus," Munkustrap scolded him.
"And about Tugger and kittens; you know after knowing him for two minutes they walk through fire if he asks them..."
"It's strange, isn't it?" Admetus mused with an innocent face.
"And you're one of those kittens..."
"Please, Munkustrap, let me at least pretend I have some shreds of dignity, will you?" the younger tom begged. Meanwhile, Rum Tum Tugger and the two young toms had almost reached them. The kittens looked exhausted and were wearing somewhat sheepish looks on their faces, while Tugger grinned like a Cheshire cat.
"I finally caught up with them by the pigeon square," the lanky tom laughed. "They took me for quite a ride! Admetus, you're a real brat! Me and the red cock, alike?" The large cat hit the speckled tom over the head with a velvet paw.
Admetus made a face at him. "It's your fault I had to wait on top of a freaking mailbox for five hours," he complained.
"Well, why didn't you simply call me telepathically like Coricopat and Tantomile do all the time; I would've been here in a split second," Rum Tum Tugger chaffed him.
"Admetus..." Munkustrap nodded towards the two kittens who were sitting very still and quiet, slightly closer to the Tugger than the two other toms.
"Victor, George. I used you to get back at Munkustrap and Rum Tum Tugger, and that was wrong of me. I ask your forgiveness," the brown and grey cat murmured in a humble voice, while casting a glance at Tugger through his eye-lashes. The golden-faced cat didn't twitch a muscle, but somehow managed to look sarcastic anyway, obviously not falling for the humbleness-act one bit. As Admetus moved his gaze to Munkustrap, he could make out the tabby rolling his eyes ever so slightly. George and Victor looked overwhelmed.
"That's perfectly all right, Admetus," George assured him after a few seconds of stunned silence, and Victor piped in:
"Absolutely. We get scared all the time, but no one's ever apologized to us before."
"You're not upset with me then?" the speckled tom asked and let a broad smile slowly spread across his face, the response making Tugger wrinkle his nose.
"Tugger explained everything to us," George grinned.
How had the Tugger had time to do that, Admetus wondered to himself, but then shrugged. He was going to follow Munkustrap's lead on the don't-try-and-understand-Tugger policy.
"Well, anyway," Rum Tum Tugger interrupted the younger tom's thoughts, "Victor and George tells me they're probably going to stay around for a while, maybe their human even decides to make the stay permanent, so, I was thinking I'd take them to the junkyard and introduce them to the gang. See you later!" And the mostly-black cat cocked his nose for Victor and George to follow him.
"But-" Admetus started saying.
"Wait a se-" Munkustrap started saying.
Rum Tum Tugger and the two young toms had already crossed the street and were out of ear-shot.
"Now I'm really upset," Admetus growled as they both stared at the lanky tom disappearing out of sight with the two kittens trailing behind him.
"I have to admit that kind of upsets me as well," Munkustrap said, letting out a gush of air.
"Did you tell him you'd been looking for him all day?"
"Yes, but you know Tugger, sometimes he's thinking of something else completely when you're talking to him," the tabby muttered, irritated but obviously trying to surpress the feeling.
"Back to scratch, then," Admetus concluded. "And if you tell me you'll be right back, I swear I'll tear your ears to pieces, Munkustrap."
"No, I wasn't planning on doing that," the tabby laughed. "I propose we leave Rum Tum Tugger to his two latest additions and go fetch Alonzo to fill in. We really should be at least three toms if we're going to be able to check the new Pollicle out thouroughly..."
"I agree on that. If it's as bad as Mungojerrie says it is, I want someone reliable for backup," the speckled cat nodded.
"I know exactly where to find Alonzo," Munkustrap continued.
"And I'm coming with you looking for him," Admetus grinned.