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Rockit's Story

She was found in an outer trashcan by Bombalurina when she was a mere few months old. No one knows where she came from. This is Rockit's story.

The little kitten bounded into the junkyard and swiped at Demeter, who was sitting waiting for Bombalurina to appear from her morning walk.
"Who's this?" Demeter asked Bombalurina.
"No idea. She's got a tag. I couldn't read it clearly."
Demeter held the frisky kitten still and tried to read the scratched tag. "It says 'Rockit'. Is that your real name or your ineffable name?" She asked the kitten.
"Real. It's certainly not my secret name. No one knows that!" Rockit mewed.
"Welcome then. Are you injured?" Demeter looked the kitten over.
"I'm fine. I'm just hungry." Rockit mewed. She looked up at Demeter and Bombalurina. "Are you going to be my new Mommies?"
Bombalurina and Demeter looked at each other and Demeter giggled. "No, little one," Demeter stroked the kitten's soft fur. "You'll have to go to Jellylorum. She looks after the kittens."
"I don’t know, Demeter, maybe we should look after her. I mean, we are old enough, and Jellylorum would appreciate it if we helped out for a change. She always says we're a bad influence."
"You mean, you are, what with the toms!" Demeter returned smoothly.
"You know who the heavenly body is reserved for!" Bombalurina replied, preening.
"Heavenly? Gimme a break!" Demeter scoffed.
Rockit, listening to them loudly discussing their businesses, got bored, and so she rolled over, caught her tail, and played with it for a bit. Then she sighed, got to her paws, and padded off. So it was that Demeter and Bombalurina didn't see her go.

"Hehee!" Jemima squealed, running from Jellylorum, who was helping Jennyanydots were trying to catch the kittens for their weekly bath.
"You'll never catch me!" Electra dodged Jenny, and ran smack into something.
"Well, well, well, who's this?" Jellylorum edged up to the furry red and white kitten and picked her up in her mouth by the scruff of the neck. Rockit yowled and stuck her claws out, but Jellylorum was used to kittens' claws. She simply ignored the pain and carried the kitten off to Munkustrap, leaving Jenny in the charge of the other kittens’ baths.

"Tugger's getting worse," Munkustrap remarked to Cassandra. "He's flirting with Victoria. Plato won't be pleased."
"How come?" asked Cassandra, smoothing her too sleek fur.
"Cassandra, don't you notice anything?"
"Not really. No." Cassandra replied evenly.
Munkustrap sighed. Sometimes Cassandra could be so...
"Munkustrap?!?" Jellylorum's voice wafted over the tyre.
"What is it, Jellylorum?" Munkustrap called back, recognising the voice without turning.
Jellylorum came up, appearing over the junk. She dropped the bundle of kitten in front of Munkustrap. The bundle unfurled itself, yowled, and skittered off before anyone could react.
"What was that?" Cassandra looked round for the furry object, expecting it to reappear.
"That WAS a kitten.." Jellylorum called to Cassandra, and began to hunt for the kitten, walking in the direction Rockit had scampered in.
Rockit scrambled into the corner of the junkyard, up into a corner where it was dark and lonely. She didn't want anyone bossing her about! She wished she hadn't left that red queen that had found her. She had been chased, had chased her food, and sometimes lost it to other, more powerful cats. She was tired too. She curled up, and napped peacefully.

Demeter and Bombalurina, meanwhile, had come to miss the little kitten. After several vague callings of "Rockit" and "kitten" they had started wandering the junkyard looking. They spied a frivolous (and now clean) Jemima and Electra playing under the watchful care of Jennyanydots, and went to ask if they had maybe seen the kitten.
"There was a furry red and white tabby here," Jenny said, thumbing over her shoulder. "Jellylorum carted her off to Munkustrap."
"On the tyre?"
"Yes. She should be there by now."

Rockit awoke with a jump at the sound of 'zaps' and sparks cracking nearby. She peeped out of her hidey-hole. Then with a little shake, she jumped out of the dark spot and bounded towards three cats below.
Mistoffelees was trying to impress Tantomile and Coricopat with his brand new trick. To make things appear from nothing. After hours of practise, he had thought himself ready. But apparently not so. It just would NOT work...
"Okay, one more time," warned Tantomile.
"It won't work," Coricopat whispered to his sibling mate.
"I know. Just pretend to be interested and keep a straight face," Tantomile whispered back.
Misto took a deep breath and zapped the ground beside him to his left......just as Rockit walked around behind him and came to sit on the floor, and she looked up at him with bright eyes.
All in all it was an extremely good looking illusion...and Coricopat and Tantomile applauded Misto, actually believing that the kitten really had appeared from nowhere!
Misto stared at the kitten, not believing what had happened! Finally the trick had worked!
Rockit looked back at Misto. Then she looked at Tantomile, and Coricopat...then she flicked her tail and pounced on Misto. She didn't mean to tickle him, but Misto was incredibly sensitive. Tantomile and Coricopat chuckled at Misto's laughter and cries for help, leaving the tux cat to squirm with giggles and just looked on.

Demeter and Bombalurina had by now met up with Munkustrap, and the two queens were anxiously asking for information on the lost kit.
"Yeah, she scampered off. Jellylorum tried to find her but she had disappeared."
"Oh no!" Demeter quivered. "What about.....?" The name didn’t leave her lips but Bombalurina’s ears pricked. "Don't worry," she soothed Demeter. "We'll find her."
"I'll help," offered Munkustrap graciously, and the three cats slid off into the junkyard.

Rockit padded up to the nest Misto had in the junkyard. Mistoffelees had offered to keep her safe for a while, so she could rest. The nest was never really used, except for when Misto's owners were away on holiday, or out at work and play.
Rockit went in and saw all the cosy blankets, and gave a little squeal of delight. She had never seen such a nest! She bounded up to the highest section of the pile of blankets, and Misto watched, leaning against the [door] opening of the nest, a little smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Rockit found the cosiest spot possible, and cuddled down, a blanket wrapped over her head. Misto kept his eyes on her till she was certainly fast asleep, and then curled up at the entrance of the nest, and guarded the sleeping kitten, ears pricked.

Tonight Demeter was alone. Although she was sleeping near to Alonzo and the Tugger, she knew only Alonzo would come to her aid, should Macavity happen to try and harm her. She still couldn't sleep for fear of that still. And Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer - who seemed to have been accepted into the tribe more recently - were painful memories.
Demeter yawned and rose, beginning to creep through the yard. In truth tonight she looked like a scared kitten, despite being a near adult queen.

Misto sensed something skulking about nearby him. His ears pricked up in his half-sleep, and he caught a faint patter of feet, followed by a few assorted noises, not too far away. He got to his feet, now alert. He didn't care who was making the noises. He needed to go and check that the others in the tribe were okay.

Not five minutes after Mistoffelees left the nest's entrance, Rockit awoke. She looked round, and her eye vision adjusted to the middle-of-the-night black that surrounded her. She came down from the blanket pile, and stood at the entrance of the nest, stretching and yawning. At first she was sad that the black and white cat that had been so friendly had disappeared. Her eye was caught by some nightly activity across the way from the nest. She decided to investigate it further...

The night activity was taking place between Munkustrap and Bombalurina. They had never really been this close. But today's episode with the new kitten had reminded Bombalurina of Demeter's arrival. Although Demeter had not been an orphan the way the new kit was.
Sitting huddled up in the cold night air, Munkustrap's paw found Bombalurina's. It seemed over furry. "Are you letting your fur grow Bombalurina?" he asked sleepily.
"Munkustrap!" Bombalurina said loudly and indignantly. "How dare you! Telling me I don't keep my fur neat and tidy and clean and short....! I'll have you know, I'm no flippin' angora!" Bombalurina turned herself away from the confused tom slightly.
"Well then what...?" Munkustrap stopped short as something rubbed his leg. Something small, furry...and red and white. Munkustrap smiled. Bombalurina turned as Munkustrap tapped her on the shoulder, and smiled at the sight of the kitten, now huddled between them.
Bombalurina, now quite relieved, pulled the kit onto her lap, and rested her head on Munkustrap' shoulder. The kit curled up, and soon both she and Bombalurina were fast asleep. Munkustrap sat, keeping guard over them both until the morning light, much as he did Demeter when Macavity was thought to be near.

Demeter knocked a stray can with her front paw. A little blood came from the small jagged wound it made, and Demeter winced, and licked it, muttering a insult under her breath. She kept on padding forward…until she whacked into something ahead.
In the half-dark she made out the outline of a cat, and she got ready to scream for all she was worth, like she had taught herself. Then her cat vision adjusted some more and saw it was only Mistoffelees. "Demeter!" Mistoffelees said, surprised. " Was it you making all that racket?"
"Yeah. Did I scare or wake you?" Demeter drew back. "You didn't scare me. You woke me." Mistoffelees replied with a impish grin. "Did I scare -you-? "Yeah....I thought you were....."
"Macavity?" Mistoffelees finished.
"Mmm...." Demeter agreed. She stood awkwardly on the wounded paw, and winced. Mistoffelees noticed. "What's the matter?"
"Oh, its nothing, just....cut myself...on a tin back there." Tears filled Demeter's eyes. In truth she had been so scared, she hadn't been watching what she had been doing.
Mistoffelees blinked, hearing her suddenly sob. "Hey hey hey....what’s all this in aid of?" he whispered as the golden queen sank to the floor sobbing. "Come on. Forget....him."
"I can’t, Mistoffelees!" Demeter sobbed. She hardly ever spoke to Mistoffelees, let alone anyone else, but tonight she couldn't bear it any longer.
"Shhh Demeter, it's okay," Mistoffelees knelt besides the queen and took her in his arms as she cried, great gasping sobs, that rocked her petite body. She calmed down eventually, adding, "I'm sorry.".
"Don't be."
"Yeah?" Mistoffelees was surprised by the affectionate way she said the nickname.
"Thank you....don't tell will you?"
"Course not." Mistoffelees gave another impish grin, and Demeter smiled weakly back. But her eyes were vivid. Mistoffelees noticed.

Mistoffelees and Demeter were still in the junkyard a few hours later, playing around with their thoughts, and several leaves that Mistoffelees was trying to make spiral. It didn't work (on purpose, Mistoffelees was trying to make Demeter smile again) so when Mistoffelees eventually gave up, Demeter took the leaves, and started to make patterns with them. The first one was in the shape of a fish, the second in the shape of a bird. Then she made a pattern in the shape of a cat. And Mistoffelees remembered the kitten.
He got up, and Demeter looked sadly at him. She'd got to know and like him now. She arranged the leaves into a sad face and Mistoffelees looked at her own sad face. He didn't want to leave either, but the kitten...
"I have to go Demeter." Mistoffelees seemed to need to explain. "I need to find someone..."
"Who?" Demeter looked at him. "Tugger?"
"No. I was looking after this kitten. I magicked her up."
"Oh? One of your new tricks?" Demeter enquired.
"Yeah. Pretty little tabby. Like yourself." Demeter looked at him, and Mistoffelees clapped one paw over his mouth. He hadn’t meant to let that slip!
But Demeter's attention had actually been caught by the mention of the tabby kitten.
"Tabby? What colour?"
"Red and white."
"Mistoffelees..." Demeter caught herself. Mistoffelees really wouldn’t be happy if she told him the kitten hadn’t 'appeared'!
"What?" Mistoffelees looked back at her.
"I'm....I'm sure she's really pretty. Would you take me to see her?"
"Sure." Mistoffelees came over and helped Demeter up, and a little spark ran up Demeter's arm, as if Mistoffelees had zapped her.
Rockit ran ahead, Munkustrap and Bombalurina following her, paw in paw.
"She's such a lively little thing." Munkustrap marvelled.
"Yeah. I would have thought she'd been worn down from everything she's been through." Bombalurina commented, then looked back at him. Suddenly something welled up inside her soul. It only happened recently, but she and Munkustrap had been spending a lot more time together, and she was getting used to him.
"Stop it!" At first Bombalurina thought Rockit could read minds, but when she snapped back to reality and looked at Rockit, she first realised Rockit was looking at her and Munkustrap together, and that Munkustrap was actually a lot closer to her than she remembered. She took a hasty step back.
"Sorry," she apologised. She heard Munkustrap sigh, and looked at him. He looked pretty annoyed.
"Over here..." Mistoffelees led Demeter to his den, and she peeped inside.
"I don’t see her." Demeter said, referring to the kitten.
"That's because she's up here, huddled under the covers," Mistoffelees jumped up on the bed-like creation in the centre of the den, and Demeter followed him. Together they pulled back the covers.....but no kitten was to be seen.
"Oh noooo!" Mistoffelees covered his face, then peeped out. "Kitten!" He called. "Fun's over."
No response.
"Heavisides Mistoffelees," Demeter said. "If -he's- got her, you're for it!"
"Demeter, he wouldn’t come here."
"How do you know?!" Demeter cried at him. "She's now lost! And it's your fault."
"Hey! If you hadn’t made all that noise, I wouldn’t have checked the area out, and then you wouldn’t be here at all!"
Demeter stared at him, biting her lip. "Sorry." "Let's do this properly. Let's try finding her instead of finding someone to blame."
"K." Demeter looked at him. "Where do we start?"
"We find Munkustrap, of course." Mistoffelees jumped down from the pile. “Cmon, quick.” Demeter jumped down, and they went out of the den together.

"I darent say anything." Munkustrap looked at Bombalurina. "She'll hear every word."
"No I wont!" Rockit called back from a little way off, foraging in a bin, and Bombalurina started laughing.
Munkustrap frowned. He rarely got annoyed, but the kitten was bugging him a bit.
"We cant have private convos Bombalurina.."
"Yes you can!" came Rockit's voice from the bin.
"No, we cant!" Munkustrap called back.
"Yes you can!"
"Munkustrap, stop it." Bombalurina caught his paw. A electric bolt shot straight up Munkustrap's arm and his head snapped round to see her concerned face looking at him. "What is it you want to say?" Bombalurina asked delicately.
"I want to say how I feel." Munkustrap thought. "I don’t know."
"Then why are you talking about private conversations?" Rockit's voice floated to Munkustrap's ears.
That did it. Munkustrap stood up, and yelled "Shut up!"
"Munkustrap!" Bombalurina stood up too. "What's the matter with you?"
"I cant do this Bombalurina. I don’t care if that kitten's listening. I love you."
"What?" Bombalurina was totally shocked, staring at him for a moment.
"You heard me." Munkustrap grabbed her shoulders as she went to move away. "Don’t go Bom...hear me out..."
Bombalurina just stared at him. Rockit meanwhile, had come out of the bin, and was watching the scene. "Munkustrap, why didn’t you just say?"
"I was scared you wouldn’t want me. After Tugger and all."
Bombalurina thought about Tugger. "Yeah, so he rejected me. So what?"
"I thought you....were off toms for a while.."
Bombalurina looked into his eyes. "Never."
Giggling, she sank down onto the place where they had been sitting, and pulled him down beside her. Rockit watched sadly as the silver tom and the red queen kissed, forgetting about her, and she slid off, and wandered off into the junkyard once more.

Running up to Jennyanydots and Jellylorum, now watching Victoria and Etcetera, Demeter asked if they had seen Munkustrap. The response was no.
Mistoffelees asked Alonzo and Tugger if they had seen Munkustrap. Still no, and coming from Munkustrap's own brother as well, that wasn’t a good sign.
In fact, the two cats asked every single Jellicle in the yard. Then Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer happened by, and Demeter ran up. They were, by chance, the only two Jellicles who hadn’t been asked.
"Yeh, we s'w 'em," Mungojerrie said. "Di'nt we Rumple?!"
His mate nodded. "Yeh, they 'ere over by the entrance to the 'unky'ard. Not ta b' di'turbe' tho' Demeter."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Demeter asked Mistoffelees, who had heard just about every word.
"No idea. Come on." Mistoffelees tugged at her, and she followed him in a daze.

When they reached the entrance, Demeter clung to Mistoffelees and stared. Mistoffelees stared too. Bombalurina and Munkustrap...together...
"Whoa!" Mistoffelees breathed. "No wonder Rumpleteazer was saying that stuff."
Demeter could only watch Munkustrap. She never thought he would be all over Bombalurina like that.
"Demeter, stop looking." Mistoffelees tugged at her again.
"I cant....he isn’t caring about anyone but himself."
"He does."
"Who does he care about apart from himself then?"
"Not including her."
"All the Jellicles."
"Yeah. So where’s the kitten?" Demeter glared furiously at Mistoffelees, then looked back at Munkustrap and Bombalurina.
Mistoffelees took her paw. "Look Demeter, we'll find her. I promise."
Demeter looked at him. "Can't you magic up something?"
"My powers aren’t all that Demeter. I have to wait and work on them."
"You're no use then are you?" Demeter was angry. "What are we going to do?"
"Just calm ourselves down first," Mistoffelees sat down on the floor and took her in his arms. "Come on," he whispered, hugging her. "It'll all be fine.
We'll just wait for a while, and then go and ask if anyone's seen her. Get a nap. You need it. I'll stand watch."
Demeter broke from Mistoffelees's embrace, licked him on the cheek, then curled up next to his feet. istoffelees touched his cheek, entranced by the gold-black queen.

He must have gone to sleep himself. Munkustrap woke up a little while later to discover Bombalurina in his arms, snoozing peacefully...and it hit him. He had just gone with the flirt of the junkyard, the one who wound all the toms up until they couldn't take anymore. He felt a little sick. Had she deceived him? As he looked round, he felt her shift and move a little bit, and he watched her for a second before sliding off his spot. Quietly, he padded away.

Mistoffelees looked at his paws, to the queen beside him, and then back at his paws. He wondered if that brand new magic spell he had learnt recently would work.
He had found it at the back of a magic book that he had borrowed from Tantomile, and had been trying to memorise it. But as far as he could remember, the spell called for the male to be handsome, and beautiful if she was female.
"Well, I got beautiful, that's fine," he thought, looking at the sleeping queen to his right. Unable to stop himself, he ran one paw through her head fur softly, and she yawned and stirred slightly. Moving his paw away, he peeped out from where he and Demeter were hiding. He looked towards Munkustrap and Bombalurina. Then rubbed his eyes and stared. Where on EARTH had Munkustrap gone to? Only Bombalurina, the red queen, lay there sleeping.
Mistoffelees looked at his paws, wondering if maybe he had some leak in his magic that had made Munkustrap disappear. But there wasn't much more time to worry. Bombalurina, at that precise moment, stirred and awoke, and as Mistoffelees watched her, she put out one arm to touch the spot where Munkustrap should be.
But of course, he wasn’t there, and Bombalurina sat up with a jump, looking around. Mistoffelees couldn't help giggling, as he realised that Munkustrap's disappearance, however it had happened, had completely confused the queen. It almost seemed as if Munkustrap had got one over on Bombalurina!

Mistoffelees covered his mouth with his paw, trying to stifle his giggles. Bombalurina, by this point, had got up from her spot, and was looking around frantically for the silver tom, wondering where he was. Mistoffelees nearly burst giggling as Bombalurina started looking under rocks and plants, and wished he HAD made Munkustrap vanish. That would have been one to rival Pouncival's attempts at greasing Tugger's comb. He smiled, remembering how Tugger hadn't been able to hold the comb, and had spent several hours washing said comb and then finally being able to groom himself. And by that point, it was dark and all the queens had gone home.
Bombalurina appeared around the rock, and saw Mistoffelees giggling. She eyed him, then spotted Demeter curled up next to him. She winked at Mistoffelees.
"Nice going, short stuff," she smirked at him.
"What? No, Bom, it's not what ya think!" Mistoffelees called after the retreating queen as Demeter started to rouse herself.
"Sure it isn't," Bombalurina called back, and waltzed off.
"What was all that about?" Demeter asked the tuxedo cat sleepily.
"Nothing. She saw us together." He covered his mouth. "Oh no! I hope she doesn't go around and tell everyone....they'll think we..."
Demeter glared at him. "They'll think we what?"
"Ummm.....ya know...."
"They better not," Demeter looked him up and down.
"What's that supposed to mean?" He glared back. "Nothing."
"Like hell it doesn't."
"It doesn't, I swear."
Demeter eyed him, then looked after her sister's retreating figure.
"Say Demi…" began Mistoffelees.
"It's Demeter. Short stuff."
Mistoffelees looked at her, opened his mouth to speak, and instead burst out laughing.

Bombalurina waltzed happily up onto the tyre, and sat down next to Munkustrap. She thought she might find him here. And just wait till she told him.
"Hey Munkustrap, I was wondering....did you know...?"
"Not now Bombalurina," Munkustrap got up, and walked off, not looking at her.
Bombalurina sat there, and stared after him. What had she done? And after last night, too. Oh well. There were plenty more cats she could tell. She slipped off the tyre, and wandered the outskirts of the junkyard, looking for someone.
She spotted Etcetera, the notorious gossip. And with her was Jemima. And they were walking her way. Better and better. Bombalurina picked up her courage, and went over. "Hey you two!"
"Hey Bombalurina," Etcetera called, not looking up.
"Hi Bom," Jemima said, glancing at the red queen.
"Did you know that I...?" Bombalurina began.
"That's nice," Etcetera said.
"Mm...I'm so happy for you," Jemima added.
But they kept on walking! They hadn't even let her start, let alone finish! She raised a paw, looking after them, and dropped it again. It was no use, she thought, watching them go, and raised her brows. There had to be SOMEONE to tell.
"Oh why didn't I think of that first?" she wondered, racing off back to the inner junkyard.

"Victoria, my pretty, no one grooms as much as you do. Not even me," came the distinctive low growl as Bombalurina climbed the small junk pile that separated Tugger's haunt from the rest of the yard.
"I don't groom. I preen." Vicki's snobby little voice came.
"Whichever," growled Tugger. Bombalurina sat, one paw tucked under her on the junk pile, and closed her eyes. That sent shivers down places that she didn't even know she had places.
"You are so....stubborn, Tugger." Vicki's voice came breathily, and Bombalurina nearly retched. “Time to save the poor sod,” she assumed, and slipped into Tugger's haunt.
"Hey Vicki," she called to the white queen, who was doing her nails on the tree stump in the middle of the area. "Hi Tugger.." she crooned sweetly, not waiting for a reply from the queen.
"Bombalurina," Tugger looked at her. "Boy you're looking good today," he thought.
"Well, if you'll excuse me," Victoria came down off the tree stump, and Bombalurina slipped into her place, just as Tugger was about to take the seat.
"Oof!" Tugger got about halfway into a seating position, then found he had to return to standing so he didn't sit on the red bombshell.
"Thanks Tugger," Bombalurina made herself comfortable. She waved to Vicki, who waved back and disappeared over the junk pile. " know Demeter?"
"Sure. Who doesn't?"
"Well, do you think she'd be upset if..."
"What? Me and Vicki? Nah, Vicki's just a fluff ball." He glanced round. "A over preened fluff ball," he added.
"No, not you Tugger. You see..." Bombalurina tried to continue but it was useless.
"Why not me?" Tugger fluffed his mane, and studied himself in a shard of glass.
Bombalurina sighed. "Look Tugger, it's about your brother. And me."
"Alonzo?????" Tugger looked round. "Why Bombalurina, you sly ol' fox....I mean cat...and forget the ol'....." he mumbled.
"No, not Alonzo." Bombalurina hoped that would get through to him.
"Hm.....could you mean my other brother? Ol'-mustn't-go-with-the-queens-I'm-a-leader-type-cat?" Tugger fluffed himself a bit more.
"He's not like that."
"Oh he is." Tugger examined a bump on his forehead. Good heavens, was it a spot? He pressed a finger against it.
"How so?"
"He forever throws his weight around." Tugger looked at Bombalurina.
"He...Tugger....? What are you doing?" Bombalurina looked at Tugger, who still had one finger over the 'spot'.
"Erm, nothing." Tugger turned back to his mirror.
"So you think Demeter would mind?"
"Demeter? Why would she mind this disaster of a lump?"
"Tugger! Not your......oh forget it!" Throwing up her paws in rage, Bombalurina slid off the stump, and walked off in a huff.

Etcetera was bored. She sat quite still, waiting for something to happen. But of course, the junkyard was still, and she hated it. She put on her best bored face, and gazed round listlessly. She'd been talking with Jemima for a while about Alonzo, and how much Jemima adored him. She grinned. Jemima and Alonzo. No chance.
She sighed, stretched, her eye caught. She looked at the small green bush that the kittens played hide and seek around. No, it was impossible. She looked away, but it caught her eye again. She glared at the bush, mentally telling it to stop it, but of course it didn't listen. It rustled it's leaves again, and moved a little, and Etcetera gave a squeal.
Not one to be scared so easily, she watched it for another few minutes before deciding the area was clear and safe, and padded down to the bush in curiosity.
"Hello?" She called. Nothing.
At first Etcetera thought her eyes might have been playing tricks on her after all, but then as she turned away, the bush rustled some more, making Etcetera jump.
Then a face popped out from the greenage, and Etcetera scarpered away a little.
"Hey!" the face said.
"Hiii..." Etcetera made her voice go shaky, and the face laughed.
"Don't be scared of me." There was a further rustling, and the face removed itself from between the leaves, and appeared from around the back of the bush.
Etcetera stared. It was another kitten, white with red patches all over.
"My name's Rockit," mewed the kitten to Etcetera, who went over to sniffle this newcomer.
"I'm Et-cet-tree-er," said Etcetera, pronouncing her name quite liberally so the kitten could understand.
"Et-cet-tree-er," Rockit giggled, and nudged Etcetera. “TAG! You're it!" Rockit gave another giggle, and dashed behind the bush again.

Misto and Demeter were walking down the side of the junkyard, on the area that was liberally dotted with plants and trees. Every now and then Demeter would bump into Misto by accident, and he'd feel himself blush. He kept glancing over, and she would catch him looking, turning away sometimes, other times she wouldn’t even notice. Misto dropped his gaze the next time he glanced and she wasn’t looking, and stopped to play with a few leaves on the ground. Noticing him stop, Demeter turned, going over to him. She cocked her head on the side. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." He didn't look up, he was afraid if he did he would go crazy.
"Misto? You don't hate me?" The soft voice reached his ears, and he shook his head.
"No Demeter, I don't."
He didn't see her smile, but he heard her whisper, "Good. Cos I don't hate you either."
He looked up then. "You don't?"
She smiled, and his heart fluttered at the pretty sight. "Course not, silly."
He was about to open his mouth to say something, anything to her, but his ears pricked, and he sat there listening....he tilted his head to the left, listening, and looked over.
To his right he saw Etcetera, and another kitten....strange, that kitten looked almost familiar, red it wasn’t, it couldn’t be...he just sat and stared, and Demeter noticed.
"What is it?" she touched his shoulder gently, ignoring the shiver she felt running through her as her paw gently brushed his fur. She looked in the same direction as Mistoffelees, and gave a little gasp.
"It's her! It's the kitten!" Demeter's mouth dropped slightly, and she ran over to catch the kitten and take her from her playmate.

"Over hereeeeeeeeee!!!!!!" Rockit called, and Etcetera giggled, bounding after her. Rockit hid behind the bush, laughing, and squealed at Etcetera appeared through the bush. Bouncing back to the front of the bush, she spied Etcetera’s tail poking through the side leaves, and picked it up, pulling it as she heard Etcetera squeal again.
"Ow, gettoffa me!" The white and striped kit pulled herself through the bushes, and disappeared. Rockit was about to bound back round the bush to pounce Etcetera behind the bush, but her paws wouldn’t touch the ground to run. In surprise she found herself being picked up by the scruff of the neck in something's teeth, and below her she saw the four paws of the black creature as it padded off with her in it's mouth.
She looked and saw Etcetera padding alongside the creature she was being held by, pleading with it to let her go. Then Rockit landed with a bump, and she yowled pitifully, rubbing her rump, and looked up. And there, standing over her, was one of the nice queens she'd met at the start of her life here, and the little black and white tux cat who'd been so nice to her and let her share his blankets. And her playmate. Et-cet-tree-er. Rockit smiled.

Time passed. Old Deuteronomy was weaker these days, and now he was not so regularly at the junkyard. Jellicle Balls came and went, and one by one all the kittens were introduced and inducted into the tribe. All except for one. At one and a half years old, and now the youngster of the batch, Rockit was still to be inducted. But the next Jellicle Ball was only a few days away, and everyone looked forward to finally having the tribe complete, and that Old Deuteronomy would have his grandest wish, to see the tribe all together and bound before he died.
This years Ball, unlike many others, was a special Ball. This year, because the tribe was fully intermingled, now breeding and mating could take place and each cat would take it's mate. Rockit was shy of this, having been told this by Old Deuteronomy, and she wondered who she should make her partner.
She thought of all the toms. Skimbleshanks? Alonzo? Mungojerrie? Munkustrap? Mistoffelees? Pouncival? Tumblebrutus? Plato? Admetus? Coricopat? Tugger? She paused. Not Skimbleshanks, he was too old, and the other kittens were basically all taken by one or other of those toms.
She mused a bit more. Wasn't Coricopat basically taken by Tantomile? She sat down with a flump on the floor, watching him from afar with a grin. He was a okay-ish tom, but.....too mystical and stuff....she looked in a different direction, and sighed. Everything was gonna be so confused until she got this worked out.
"Hey Rockit!" Etcetera, her best friend for over a year now, sped up to her side with a giggle. "Picked a partner for the ball?"
Rockit shook her head. Etcetera bounced about. "Guess who asked mmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee?" She grinned.
Rockit shook her head again, and Etcetera giggled, "Tumblebrutus did."
Rockit's mouth dropped open. "Never!"
Etcetera nodded, "Yup he did he did!" She hugged herself. "He wants me to be his life mate!!"
Rockit rolled her eyes and stood up. "Oh boy. Great, all we need. A bunch of tumbling giggling kittens everywhere."
"Brown with white stripes." Etcetera added.
"You mean white with brown stripes." Came a voice.
"Yeah, either.." Etcetera began, then stopped, wheeling round to see Tumblebrutus behind her with a shy grin on his face.
"Tumble!" Etcetera squealed, and pounced on the tom with a giggle, rolling him over and over.
Rockit watched a little sadly as the two cuddled and kissed softly, and padded away for more quiet thinking time.

By nightfall she still hadn’t worked it out. Though she'd gotten some handy, if somewhat sad to watch and listen to, pointers.
She'd seen Plato and Victoria curled up together on a old mattress that afternoon, and had discovered Alonzo and Jemima in each others arms, which surprised her. Pouncival was to be found snuggled with Electra someplace round the river, and she'd seen Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer in the company of each other all day, sneaking about giggling, and looking extremely cosy. Tantomile and Coricopat had retreated to someplace east of the junkyard where they often sat talking and such. Rockit had no doubt they were sleeping by now.
She wandered across to her den that night, and noticed Jellylorum cuddled into the arms of Skimbleshanks, and she smiled wryly. Those two had been together at every ball she could remember or had heard of. It was only right they stay together now, as mates.
Slipping into her small den she found she was alone tonight. Etcetera must obviously have run off to share a nest with Tumble. She softly sighed and lay down, draping a blanket over her. She couldn’t sleep for worrying. What if there was no tom for her?
She ticked them off on her fingers, and realised with a start there were five queens left, including herself, and only three toms! She groaned and buried her face in her pillow. "Great. My induction and there's not gonna be anyone there to induct me!" She curled up tightly, suddenly feeling very cold and alone, and mused over the three toms left. One of them HAD to notice her. She'd make sure of that. Tomorrow.
Rockit awoke the next morning to the sound of muttering and pacing outside her den. Sniffing, and pushing strands of long fur out of her face, she poked her nose out and discovered Cassandra there, looking very stressed. Something that was unusual for the brown queen.
"Cassandra?" Rockit mewed meekly. "What's the matter?" Cassandra ceased pacing and looked round at the red and white kitten with a grin. "Aw, it's nothing." She lowered herself to the ground, so she was at Rockit's height. "I was just thinking to myself."
"Thinking what?" Rockit crawled out of her den and flopped next to Cassandra with a curious expression on her face.
"About the mating."
"What about it?" Rockit perked a ear.
"I can't believe how serious everyone's taking it."
"Why not?" Rockit was rapidly becoming confused.
"Have you seen my fur? This sleek sensual coat? Breeding would muck it up. Not to mention ruin my figure!" Cassandra grumbled.
"So....?" Rockit tilted her head.
"So...I think I'm going to take a back seat for this year's Ball."
"You are?" Rockit's heart leapt into her throat. That would mean four queens, and three toms! Cassandra looked at her, and Rockit gulped.
"I mean, wow....Cassandra....I didn’t think anyone would want to."
Cassandra shrugged. "Ah well. It's not all that important. Besides I'm not the star this year." She pinched Rockit's cheek and smiled gently. "You are."
Rockit blushed. "Aw, Cassandra. I dun think I'll be inducted."
"Whyever not?" Now Cassandra's ears were seen to perk.
"There's not enough toms."
"Fiddledede." Cassandra brushed off the remark. "There's plenty.
"And all taken." Rockit interjected.
"All of them?"
Rockit sighed. "Well....not quite all."
Cassandra smiled. "Go on."
Rockit shrugged. "There's three toms left. Mistoffelees, Munkustrap, and Tugger."
Cassandra grinned broadly. "There. Plenty to go around. I suggest you muse over them. And then find out which one you'd like to have a life mate the most." She winked. "Have fun choosing." She stood up and stretched out languidly, "And now, my dear, I must go....speak to you soon." And with that she swished off, swinging her tail lazily behind her.
Rockit still sat there, staring after Cassandra, a smile coming over her face. "Of course I'll be inducted.." she whispered, "Of course I will."

Rockit didn't know it, but her thoughts of love and mating and the forthcoming Jellicle Ball were to be temporarily suspended. For that afternoon Old Deuteronomy's health took a turn for the worse. It had been quite a simple thing for any cat, but Old Deuteronomy had lost some of his senses, including the one of balance. He had been walking along the brick wall close to where the junkyard was, in order to reach it and help with the preparations for the mating dance, before going back home to get some rest. Then he was to return a day or so later to announce the Ball.
But he lost his balance on the junkyard wall, and fell with an ominous thud to the floor. Weakly he began to croak for help, wounded, his legs trapped under him, and he could not get up at all.
It was Rockit herself who found him. She'd been wandering the outside of the junkyard for some time, wondering which of her three toms on her list t approach first. She spied the cream colour of Deuteronomy's fur, and raced closer to inspect. Hiding behind a tree, she peeked out, and realised who it was. She panicked. She needed help...but who....where?
Then a familiar whistling sound made her ears prick, and she turned, to see Tugger strolling into the junkyard. Rockit turned on her heel and fled, scurrying towards him and leaping to grab and restrain him. Tugger looked down at the white and red fluff ball clinging to him and laughed softly, patting her head.
"Rockit, babe, pleased to see m-" he started, but Rockit began to gabble mindlessly. Tugger blinked, bending down to pick her up and held her up to his face height.
"Babe. Slow down. I don't understand."
"Old Deuteronomy! Hurt! He...over there!" Rockit pointed in the direction she'd run from, and Tugger's eyes widened.
"Hurt?" He put her down, "Go and find Munkustrap. He's by the river with Mistoffelees. They'll be able to help. Get Jennyanydots and Jellylorum too...they're in their den. And grab a couple of the older queens for me." He winked, and ran off.
Rockit blinked after him, then without a word, ran round the junkyard, and headed for the river.

Mistoffelees sat in the sunlight by the river, his tail swishing, his eyes rolling as he regarded the silver tabby, who was pacing around muttering.
"Do you think that sounded alright?"
Mistoffelees looked up. "Huh?" He had been far off in his own thoughts.
"That speech. Think she'll fall for it?"
Mistoffelees blinked. "Oh. Yeah. Sure she will, Munkustrap."
Munkustrap sighed. "You weren't listening. Am I boring you?"
Mistoffelees shook his head. "No, but I think you're going about it the wrong way. A queen like her doesn’t need anything fancy...she's too...too..."
Munkustrap regarded Mistoffelees, waiting for him to finish, but his ears pricked at a shout.
"Munkustrap!" Rockit hurled herself into the area, panting for breath, and flopped in front of him, "Old...Deuter....Old...Deut..." She gasped, trying to calm down...
"Old Deuteronomy's here already?" Munkustrap looked surprised, but Rockit shook her head.
"Fall. Wall...hurt....Tugger..." she gasped.
Mistoffelees jumped up. "Everlasting Cat! He's injured...!?"
Rockit could only nod, still gasping. "Jellylorum....Jenny..." she started to try and get back up, but Munkustrap stopped her.
"No. Mistoffelees can go and get them....Rockit, you need to show me the way, come on..." He lifted her into his arms. "Just point me in the direction..."
Mistoffelees nodded at Munkustrap's words and vanished, having teleported himself. Rockit blinked. After a year or so if knowing the tux cat she still wasn’t completely used to his magic. As Munkustrap carried her off, the small queen wrapped her arms around his neck and promptly blushed. Fortunately for her, Munkustrap's mind was on something else entirely.

Mistoffelees’s teleportation took him to the shadows of the junkyard. He landed safely, but on standing up he whacked his head on something.
"Ow..." he muttered, rubbing his sore noggin. "That smarts..."
A face popped out from above, and Mistoffelees smiled at the sight of Bombalurina. "Hey Mistoffelees." She grinned. "Playing hide and seek? Well, if you did, I found you."
Mistoffelees rolled his eyes. "No, Bomb. I just teleported here. I'm looking for Jenny and Jellylorum. You seen them about?"
Bombalurina thought, then dropped from the junk piles above lazily. "Nope." She bit her lip and wrinkled her nose... "Actually, tell a lie."
Mistoffelees' thoughts went to the injured Deuteronomy. "Bom...this is kind of a emergency, so if you wouldn’t mind getting on with it..."
Bombalurina tilted her head curiously. "Alright....short stuff. They took Demeter off for some sort of chat, if you like."
Mistoffelees nodded. "Took her where?" His voice becoming slightly more desperate.
"One of their dens, I guess. I think most probably Jenny's."
"Great! Thanks!" Mistoffelees took off towards the other side of the yard, Bombalurina looking after him curiously. Then, stretching, she sauntered after him, her inquisitive nature taking over.

Demeter was curled up on a old chair in Jenny's den. It was made from wood, with fabric and pillows all over it stitched together, and was very comfortable. In fact, so comfortable, she wanted to fall asleep. Added to that the droning of Jenny and Jellylorum talking to her about various matters, her eyes were in fact half closing. She jerked awake again at every question, nodding, or giving a short reply, which seemed to satisfy the other two queens. Thank goodness they were so caught up in their latest cross stitch project that they weren't taking much notice of her.
They stopped talking after a bit, trying to sort through various threads hanging from the stitching design, and Demeter curled up cosily, about to fall asleep...
"JENNYANYDOTS?!?! JELLYLORUM?!?!?" A yell sounded from outside. Demeter awoke at once and looked around as Misto appeared in the den entrance.
The two older queens dropped their needlework in fright. "Mistoffelees! How dare you come in here, yelling and-" Jenny began, wagging a finger in his direction, but Mistoffelees wasn’t listening.
He began to gabble in panic, "OldDeuteronomyfelloffawallandisinjuredandweneedyourhelpsocouldyoupleasehurryup?" He stared at them, his black-brown eyes unblinking.
"Everlasting Cat!" Jennyanydots jumped up. "Take us right to him!" Jellylorum, meanwhile, exited the den, yelling back faintly that she was getting her first aid kit.

Later, all the cats sat around in the junkyard, talking quietly. Munkustrap was on the tyre, keeping watch, as Jennyanydots and Jellylorum continued their first aid on Old Deuteronomy. They’d been in there forever, or so it seemed. Noticing how sad their leader looked, Bombalurina slipped from the crowd to join the silver tabby, who was startled initially but moved along a little to make room for her.
She nuzzled him briefly, a little purr rising in her throat, and Munkustrap turned his head away. “Not now, Bom.” His tone was heavy, not only with annoyance, but with worry.
“Sorry.” Bombalurina blinked, drew back, and clasped her paws on her lap. “I just wanted you to know we all care about him.” She sniffed and Munkustrap turned back. When he next spoke, his voice was soft. “I know, Bom, I appreciate that…but…his dearest wish was to see the tribe complete and happy. I just want him to see that. Then I can take over and have as few worries as possible.”
“Munk.” Bombalurina grinned and side glanced, “I think this tribe is quite happy at the moment. Look at everyone, in pairs and such.” She smiled. “All except some of us.”
Munkustrap nodded. “Yeah. I don’t think anyone offered to initiate Rockit yet. Shame, really.” “Don’t worry about Rockit. She’ll find someone last minute, you’ll see. Anyway…I expect you’ll want to postpone…for Old Deuteronomy’s sake?”
Munkustrap nodded. “I want to. Don’t know how it’ll be received.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Everyone will understand. We all care for him. You know that.”
Munkustrap sighed and looked at Bombalurina. “Thanks.” He gave a tired sigh, and shook his head, closing his eyes. He reopened them at the feelings of a soft nuzzle, and purred, returning the soft touch of the red queen. He suddenly got a overwhelming desire to hold her close, but resisted. Not in front of the others. Not now. Not here.
He heard her sigh as he pulled away, “I’m just going to go and check on Deuteronomy,” he whispered, allowing himself to nuzzle Bombalurina one more time, then turned and walked to the cavelet, feeling her eyes boring into his back.

Rockit was outside the junkyard. She’s been there ever since Munkustrap and Tugger had been tending to Old Deuteronomy and had carried him off into the yard. She seemed to be in the way, all the adults busy and no time to listen to her explanation of what she saw. They were obviously, rightly, concerned for the leader, and how it would affect the Ball. Her mind was blank, as she stared into the darkness, pressing a paw into the ground. She still hadn’t decided which tom to ask to induct her. It was hopeless. She knew it. She looked up at the stars far above, and prayed for a miracle, turning to walk away.
Smack. She’d walked into something.
Rockit’s eyes widened. “W…who…who’s there?” She called softly, taking a step back, “Who is it,” she whimpered, stepping back even further as something shadowy moved towards her.
She wasn’t expecting anyone from the yard to be out here. Not with Deuteronomy ill. They should all be together, mating, or something, shouldn’t they?
“Who are you?” Rockit’s tail swished, her claws extracting for a moment, deciding whether to tackle this strange being.
“Hey, hello to you too, Rockit. Name’s Quaxo.”
Rockit blinked. “You’re lying. I don’t know anyone from the yard called Quaxo.”
“Sure ya do.”
“Do not.”
The shadow made a shrugging gesture, and moved out into the half light. Rockit blinked. “Misto?”
The tom rolled his eyes at her. “You’re good.”
“Misto?!” Rockit’s eyes were wide. “What are you doing sneaking about and stuff outside the yard and then pretending to be someone else?”
“Oi, watch it, you. I am not lying.”
“You just said you were Quaxo.”
“I am.”
“So what about Misto?
” “Yeah, that’s me.”
“Uh….no, it isn’t.” Rockit hit back.
“Gimme a good reason.”
“Well…if you had two names I’d know by now.”
“Rockit, does anyone know your ineffable name? No.” Quaxo continued without waiting for her to finish. “So don’t come to me telling me I don’t have two names when I do. And I’m the only one who knows it, so keep it quiet, okay?” He patted a paw on her mouth.
Rockit looked at him, then shrugged. “Whatever. So. Explain your presence.”

**To Be Continued**

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