One time as kittens, Misto and Alonzo got into a fight, as siblings do. Misto tried to teleport Alonzo up a tree but accidentally teleported himself up a tree. Alonzo had to save his sorry butt.
One time as kittens, Misto and Alonzo got into a fight, as siblings do. Misto tried to teleport Alonzo up a tree but accidentally teleported himself up a tree. Alonzo had to save his sorry butt.
Demeter: I like your shirt!
Alonzo: Thanks *remembers girls like bad boys* I stole it *remembers girls also like nice guys* from an old man I was helping walk across the street
Alonzo x Noilly Prat
Mungo: I just kinda feel like we were meant to be together. I mean, look how fate keeps throwing us at each other
Alonzo: you are literally stuck in the tree outside of my window. How did you even get there?
Mungo: fate, Lonzy, weren't you listening?
I forgot why I did it, but he looks very tense and annoyed
Rude Husband >:(
Rum Tum Tugger: I can’t believe you and Alonzo broke the bed.
Bombalurina: Yeah! You two must have been wild!
Cassandra: Ha ha yeah…
(the night before)
Cassandra: I bet you can’t jump high enough to touch the ceiling.
(From Kelly Donah's Instagram)
Kelly Donah as Rumpleteazer
Devon McCleskey as Munkustrap
Max Craven as Mungojerrie
Vinny Andaloro as Alonzo
when u see cat husband
Stephen Martin Allan as Mistoffelees
George Maniadis (offscreen, recording) as Alonzo
For @welcome-to-the-cattle-dome :]
I'm a man of three fears: integrity, faith, and crocodile tears.
Alonzo’s a burden - he always has been. That’s why he needs to leave before he burdens the cats he cares about most.
TW: For heavy handed mentions of implied abuse, assault and kitten-napping. Nothing happens, but the Mouser’s Palace is a very *very* bad place and Macavity and his henchcats are bad people.
If somecat had told Alonzo this time a few years back that he would have had a part in staging and executing an elaborate getaway from the infamous Mouser's Palace that involved snatching two of Macavity's prized members and a couple bloodline kittens, he would have likely told them to get their ears checked to make sure there was still a brain between them. Then he would have told them, very bluntly he might add, to keep their traps shut before they got them both killed.
How times changed. Even now, it still sounded ridiculous.
Escaping from Macavity's clutches once you were sworn in, once you had spent so much time there no other life seemed possible, once you had lost so much of yourself you weren't quite sure if you were still you anymore, was a pipe dream. A psychological torment of yearning just beyond grasp. Or maybe just a death wish. It was something you thought of while you were clawing at the persistent ringing in your ears and struggling to see straight, wondering if anyone around you was a plant, or wished for late at night as you remembered things said in passing that permanently stained your frontal lobe with echoes and images so horrible that you couldn't even close your eyes to sleep.
And yet, here they were. The fabled Junkyard Demeter had spoken so often about. They had actually made it to the other side, all relatively in one piece. Alonzo had to admit that he'd shied away from the strength of those initial wisps of faith lit in the basements of the Mouser's Palace, fearing the inevitable burn. But those little slivers of hope, collected like so many particles of dust, really had gotten them somewhere. They'd actually managed to get away.
But it still felt off.
To be in a place where Macavity somehow, presumably, wasn't always watching, wasn't always listening...it was a strange feeling. Almost unsettlingly unreal - like it could disappear at any moment. Like it was some kind of twisted, too-good-to-be-true dream.
But it hadn't been an easy dream, that was for sure.
Alonzo gingerly pressed a paw pad to the newest scar candidate on the side of his face, blinking back the sudden sting it brought to his eyes. It smarted, but it had stopped dripping into his mouth and would heal on its own. His nose had probably been broken, too, something he reminded himself painfully of when he'd scrunched it, but he'd dealt with a million of those before. Thesper always had had good aim when he pulled his head far enough out of his ass to do his job, the bastard. Of course he'd choose that night to pick an actual fight. Just their luck really. Must have been slim pickings.
They...the other Junkyard cats - that one silver tom, what was his name again? Mun-something - had tried to coax him into getting patched up, but Alonzo had never liked being looked over too closely for something that wasn't, in his words, "being devastatingly good looking" (and don't think he didn't hear Bombalurina snort behind him). It left him feeling...vulnerable, and you could never quite get that pesky vulnerability out of the fur once it sank its claws in. It stained very easily. Besides, as nice as these cats seemed, he didn't know them. And, frankly, he didn't trust them either. Alonzo liked to think he knew better than that, after all this time. Fool me once and all that garbage. It's not like they'd given him any solid reason to (though not attacking them on sight might have been half of one). He hadn't been thrilled watching the rest of them being whisked away out of sight one by one for the same treatment (which also left him with a few questions), but he wasn't in charge here. Alonzo knew how pecking order worked, and he reminded himself of it further, biting his tongue as he watched after Demeter's retreating form, Jemima trailing after her. That made him antsy. But if they ended up in trouble, well, he soothed himself with the fact that they'd just been in the ring once already - they could always go another round.
Alonzo had been led off himself by that same silver tabby cat, and, after staunchly refusing any medical assistance and ducking out of a remarkably strong nursecat's grip, sat across from their own little council of cats (How cute, he'd thought) and sorted everything out. Well, kind of. Keeping a wary eye on the cats in his blind spot, and carefully picking dirt from his coat, Alonzo answered the majority of the questions tossed his way with a clipped: "Yes" or "No". He hoped he came across as nonchalant and aloof and not as paranoid and nervous as he really felt. They didn't need any details and, anyway, he wasn't the one who needed to provide them. Why they had even bothered talking to him, a complete stranger, in the first place was a mystery. If Alonzo were them, he would have already sent him upstream. Demeter and Bombalurina would be able to answer their questions much better - they actually knew these cats and they, quite obviously, knew the queens in turn.
That left an odd, sour feeling at the back of his throat. But Alonzo had no desire to unpack that - not now or ever. They'd finally dismissed him, leaving him to wander anxiously, and instead, he focused his energy on examining his new surroundings and fruitlessly avoiding the inevitable.
Frankly, this place seemed almost too good to be true. It was so...quiet. Alonzo couldn't remember a time when he hadn't heard the dull edge of whispering leaking from every corner, the odd high pitched whine that never seemed to leave the air, or the clinking of glass and claws ringing against window panes. Especially at night. That's when the Mouser's Palace had always sung the loudest. For better and worse. But here, amidst the trash piles and broken human paraphernalia, aside from the occasional passing car and dripping pipe, it was near silent. And not in a suspicious way, either. Just...a genuinely calm one. Which really offset its rather unconventional setting, he had to say.
Wasn't it ironic that their little dreamland was a literal pile of garbage? Life was funny. But, hell, he'd take it. Not like he hadn't lived in worse places. Pretty things near always seemed to hide more nefarious secrets under their surfaces, at least in his experience. He'd take a junk pile over crawling scratch carpet and high arching ceilings and peeling gold leaf paper and massive colorful windows any day.
What was important to him was that, at long last in however many years it had been, Demeter and Bombalurina were back home. They weren't under the heavy weight of Macavity's claws anymore. Rumpleteazer and Mungojerrie had been cried over by cats who must have been their parents. The kittens were finally safe, like they'd always deserved.
If they were lucky, they'd stay safe. There were never any guarantees in life. But Alonzo tentatively hoped that, perhaps this time, there could be at least one of them. If only for these particular cats.
All in all, it could have been much worse than a few scrapes and bruises and broken parts. They'd made it somehow. He'd done his job. Maybe not the best job, but they were alive. Demeter and Jemima were alive. They didn't need him anymore. Their little charade was coming to an end.
All he had left now was to say goodbye, and, considering what they'd just been through, it was turning out to be more difficult than he'd thought. Hence the wandering. At this point (though he hesitated to admit it for fear of putting the suggestion into the universe) he'd rather have been raked across the face again.
Of course, he could just take the coward's route and leave without a word, slipping into the night on his own. It wasn't too late. Alonzo always had known that route by heart, having traveled it many times before. But this time, damn his conscious, he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
Finding his friends was an easy enough feat, even in vastly unfamiliar territory. In the sea of overwhelming new smells, he'd picked up on theirs almost instantly and followed diligently after. He'd likely never forget that particular mix of smells for the rest of his nine lives. It had become something that, if Alonzo were the sentimental type, would register somewhere as close to home as he'd ever been.
But Alonzo was not the sentimental type.
When he'd entered the nursing den, stomach turning with the sharp overlay of medicinal herbs (and nerves, but he'd blame the herbs if asked), Alonzo felt as though he were suddenly too big for his surroundings. He wasn't a small cat by any means, and he knew that, but there was something about this place that was unusually fragile and dainty. Like if he shifted too far in any direction the walls would come down, or if he stood up straight the roof would cave in. Strange.
Demeter's familiar golden form caught his eye immediately, stretched languidly over the padded cot on the floor, Jemima sitting between her forepaws. Alonzo's heart swelled and sunk simultaneously. They were, miraculously, still awake and whispering between themselves; the familiar nighttime back and forth that they shared, just the two of them. In their own little world. Alonzo had wondered, on occasion, what they talked about so intently, but never got around to asking. He thought it better to leave it between them, content enough to just...watch. Hesitantly just on the outside; at an arm's length.
Bombalurina was curled far enough away to allow the queens their privacy and give herself and Electra their own, but close enough that she could keep an eye on them. He wouldn't have expected any less. Even so, she seemed to have slipped her watch for just a moment, and was sleeping very much like the dead (as though she hadn't slept - hadn't truly slept - in years), Electra fast asleep beside her. Good. At least someone was getting some sleep around here.
Releasing the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding, he ducked farther in.
Demeter noticed him first, looking up at him knowingly through the fan of her lashes. She looked...almost relieved to see him. Maybe even surprised as she nudged Jemima to look as well. "Look who it is."
Jemima turned around quickly, eyes lighting up at the sight of him.
And just like that, it felt like any courage he had gathered up immediately flew off, never to be heard from again. Alonzo practically felt himself deflate. Damn it.
"Hey," he greeted, keeping his voice low to set the example. "You still awake? I figured you'd be out cold by now."
"I was waiting for you, 'cause I have a fantastic tuition," Jemima said matter-of-factly, trying to match the new volume, but just barely succeeding.
Alonzo smiled tightly at the seemingly nonsensical statement. Of course she was. Careful the things you say and all - hadn't he been the one to teach her that?
Nearly every queen of kitten-bearing age in the Mouser's Palace was sent to the basement eventually. Sooner or later. Some stayed on after, finding a sort of comfort in that old shipping warehouse, some did not, and some abandoned their kittens as soon as they could, leaving them mewling and hungry until another cat took pity on them. Or they disappeared. Or the other thing happened. The far less optimistic one.
Demeter, like the rest, had eventually ended up down there as well, and hadn't been permitted to leave, even as the colour had returned to her face and Jemima had started walking. Quite the downgrade from her rooms upstairs, or so Alonzo had heard; he, like most of the other henchcats, hadn't been allowed anywhere near Macavity's quarters. But such were The Mystery Cat's plans of operation, right down to the last well oiled gear. Eventually, they were all disposable, no matter how high up the ladder. It was just a matter of time.
Alonzo never went into Demeter's crate (with its one missing board) even when invited. At least never at first - something about it didn't sit right with him. Demeter got so little of anything to herself those days, and besides, Alonzo didn't want to imagine what would happen to either of them if he was ever caught in there. It wouldn't look good at all. Demeter may have been demoted down below with the rest of them, but she still belonged to Macavity. He had never been shy to emphasize that point, over and over again, with purple blossoms hidden beneath Demeter's collar and rings worn into her upper arm.
But even though he didn't enter the crate, Alonzo sat outside of it when he was able, even stumbling down late at night, bleary eyed, after a conference had gone too long, or a particularly long and grating watch rotation came to an end. That had been the case that particular evening, when one of Macavity's little...rendezvous had gone completely south. He'd been lucky to escape that one with his tail in tact.
Exhausted as he was, it was worth it to give him some semblance of peace of mind, even for a little while. When he wasn't able to make it back for the evening, his skin would prickle and itch with anxiety until the sun came up the next morning. Being away from them felt wrong. It all felt very wrong.
Bombalurina was there, she'd look out for Demeter when he couldn't make it. Hell, she'd probably do a better job. And Demeter wasn't helpless. But it just didn't feel like enough.
It never felt like enough.
There were some cats around these parts that sniffed around the basement crates like they were looking for treasure. And really, the entire basement was filled with it - whatever your fancy happened to be. Crates that weren't littered with other cats were stuffed full of trinkets of all kinds. Getting away with it was easy, too; not like any of the henchcats took serious inventory. And the ones who did often...forgot the odd bauble here and there for report. Macavity wouldn't miss what he didn't know he had.
As for the rest, well - most of the henchcats upstairs ignored whatever noises came from the makeshift mills downstairs, queens and kittens alike. None of their concern. No one who valued their neck would say anything. Looking the other way reaped more reward.
Alonzo didn't like thinking about that. Not in the slightest. Because there was, quite literally, nothing he could do. So he sat. And he watched. And he buried all of his fear deep inside of himself.
But he also sat outside, particularly on nights like that one with the moon full and high, because a certain little friend of his was becoming quite the lone midnight wanderer, much to the concern of her mother. So, without any second thoughts, Alonzo pulled double duty.
Speak of the devil.
"Pump the brakes, little lady," he grumbled, stretching out his tail to halt Jemima in her tracks. He caught her arm before she tripped. "What are you doing awake at this hour?"
Jemima had blinked hard and whipped her head around to look at him, as though snapping out of a trance. She always seemed uncertain when he asked her that question. Almost as though she wasn't sure herself. Alonzo never liked that look on her face. It looked eerily similar to an image burned into the back of his brain that the tomcat wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.
"I had a funny dream," she muttered at last, crawling back over his tail to sit next to him. Alonzo hummed non-committedly, glancing down the corridor. No one was around. He shifted closer to her, just in case. Never knew with this place.
He wondered to ask her what was so funny about her dream, but Jemima rarely blamed her dreams for keeping her awake unless they were unpleasant. He'd figured that out the hard way, and learned it better not to pry unless she needed to talk about it (or he felt like filling the rest of his night with his own round of nonsensical nightmares). Not that he really had the tools to talk her through it like Demeter or Bombalurina did anyway. Try as he might, that just wasn't in his skillset. Instead, he rubbed her ears and hummed again, in what he hoped came across as a sympathetic gesture. Or at least a comforting one. They were still so soft and fragile at this age - like downy little birds fresh from the nest. It was a wonder how they survived.
It was a wonder any of them did.
"Why are you still awake?" she asked after a moment, allowing him to brush the fur away from her eyes over and over, even when it was already flat.
"I was waiting for you," he'd said quickly. That was close enough to the truth that he hadn't felt bad that it technically was a lie. He didn't like lying to her. Alonzo was concerned that "keeping watch" would frighten her, and lead to difficult questions like "Keeping watch for what?"
And Alonzo never could come up with a good enough answer for that one.
Jemima didn't need to know the type of characters lurking around these basements at night. Sure she lived at the Palace, spent most of her daylight hours wandering around the dusty beams of light that squeezed through down there; she saw the diluted glimpses of how bad it was, but she was still just a kitten. Alonzo figured there'd be plenty of time to learn about that later down the line. There was already enough on her plate as it was for such a small thing. It wasn't lying; it was omission. Demeter had taught him that one.
Completely different thing.
"How did you know I was coming?" Jemima had inquired, pressing her face into his ribcage (and couldn't he just feel every bone bumping concerningly against her skull - when had that happened?) and rolling her sleepy eyes upward.
He tapped his temple and winked (though how successful he ever was with that particular gesture was debatable - Bombalurina had told him once it looked more like a spasm). Still, keeping the situation light seemed to usually do the trick, and Jemima wasn't much of a critic. "I have fantastic intuition."
Or, rather, she nearly always wandered out of the crate on nights it was raining, or the moon was full. She wandered when she was happy or sad or had too much on her mind. She seemed to float from time to time, eyes dull and far away. He was almost certain she slept walk and didn't even realize it. He knew her routine like the back of his paw.
All in all, the chances were high. But intuition sounded better.
"I like that word," Jemima mumbled, testing it in her mouth. "It's like bubbles."
"Sure it is, kiddo."
"Can I stay here until morning?" she'd asked, already settling right in. "I want to say goodbye to the moon and I can see it better here."
A bad idea. "Goodbye, huh? You think you can stay awake? The night's a long time."
"Yup," she said quietly, clearly already falling back asleep. "The morning is more brighter."
Out of the mouths of unusually on the nose and cryptic kittens.
"Yeah," Alonzo agreed, tucking her closer to his side in barely fought for defeat, glancing down the dark stretch of breezy corridor again, swearing he saw a flash of light. The night would be very long. "It is."
"A tuition, huh?" Alonzo echoed, dimly coming back to the present. "Well, as always, you've got great 'tuition'."
"Uh huh!" she agreed, looking up at her mom who tried to smile for her.
The tomcat sighed, and crouched down, motioning the kitten towards him.
"C'mere. I got something to tell you."
Demeter glanced up at him again, lips pursed to the side and eyes dull. There was the full look he was fearing - the look of withdrawn acceptance that graced her features far too frequently. She knew what he was doing and had already started steeling herself away. He tried to avoid her glance, but it already was digging its claws into his conscious. Still, she nodded at Jemima, who obliviously and immediately fumbled towards him.
When she stopped in front of him, she motioned for him to come closer in turn. He tilted his good ear towards her, and she grabbed it with her little paw. Only for Jemima, he thought, wincing. Only for Jemima he'd let his ear, whole or otherwise, be pulled or touched or chewed on. Another cat would find themselves scratched before they made it halfway.
"I kept my eyes shut the whole time," Jemima whispered conspiratorialy, glancing over her shoulder at Demeter, who was still watching them closely. She looked sad and disappointed and empty, and Alonzo felt a stab of guilt at keeping her awake like this. But before he could wallow anymore in his own self imposed misery, Jemima let go of his ear and leaned over to catch his eye again. "Did I do good?"
She was referring to their previous escape plan. Or at least her part in it anyway. When it came time to make a run for it, he'd told the kittens to keep their eyes closed. "Keep 'em closed," he'd instructed. "And don't you open 'em until we say it's okay, got it?"
This instruction had been partially to give them something they could focus on so they were more likely to be quiet, and partially because he hadn't been sure what they would see if they didn't. No use scarring them any further than they already were. Electra had nodded and tucked her face into her mother's coat, but Jemima had just stared at him wide eyed, overwhelmed and sensitive to the whirlwind of emotion around her. She had been, quite literally, paralyzed with their fear. Demeter had held her tighter, gently murmuring that they'd be okay, to listen to him, but Jemima had started squirming and shaking her head, insisting that they would all leave when her eyes were closed. It escalated quickly. Alonzo, already choked up on adrenaline, fearing someone would hear her meltdown, had turned back to face her, clamping down on the way his paws shook so he could grab hers.
"Hey, hey, hey, look at me. Look at me."
She stopped squirming and looked up.
"We're not gonna leave you alone," he'd insisted, squeezing her little paw, perhaps a little harsher than intended, but everything felt like too much in that moment. "I'm not ever gonna leave you alone, alright? It's.. it's all gonna be fine, I promise. But you gotta trust me, and keep your eyes shut okay? You trust me?"
Jemima had nodded, sniffling, and with a last long look, had turned and buried her nose against Demeter's chest.
With the meltdown avoided, they'd set off for the last time from that awful old building. Alonzo didn't think too hard about what he'd said, or how it might come back to bite him. He had to focus on sticking to Bombalurina's plan and remembering where everyone was supposed to be. He had to keep track of where Jerrie would meet them, and which direction they were headed, and keeping tabs on whoever would be lurking nearby, and keeping cool headed. There wasn't any room left to regret.
So they'd set off, and Alonzo had put it out of his mind.
And Jemima kept her eyes shut the entire way, silent as a church mouse as they slipped into the night.
"You did so good, hon," Alonzo affirmed, tweaking her whiskers. "So good. What'd I tell you - didn't I promise it'd be okay?"
Jemima nodded eagerly. "Yeah! And I wasn't even scared a little bit."
"Not even a little bit?" The tom made a show of widening his eyes at the white lie. "Man, you're getting to be so tough. Don't even need me anymore, huh?"
"Nope! I'm brave!"
That she was. But she'd have to be braver still. Testing the waters that way rarely worked on kittens.
"Listen, Jem, I -"
"Your face is dirty," the kitten interjected.
Alonzo almost laughed, though how much of it was bordering on dwindling adrenaline tinged hysteria at this point, he wasn't certain.
"I-it is, huh? That's no good."
"Yeah it's yucky." Jemima reached to touch his cheek, but he carefully caught her paw before she smeared any blood around, or accidentally shoved any debris in the wounds. He probably looked awful; no use making it worse. She wrinkled her nose.
"Miss Jenny can fix it for you. She fixed Mama and Bomba."
"I'm sure she can," he agreed, wondering if "Miss Jenny" was the ironclad grip from earlier. "But I think I'm okay."
"She gave me a biscuit after she checked me!" Jemima continued, bouncing on her toes. "And Electra! She'll give you one too, I think. Then you can have a bath because you smell."
That time, Alonzo did laugh, but it sounded more like a forced exhale than any sign of good humour. As unique as Jemima was, kittens were always kittens; abrupt and painfully honest. "Sheesh, you're breaking my heart here. I'm gonna miss you, little lady."
Jemima withdrew slightly, looking suddenly sharp and alert. "Where are you going?"
"I'm...I don't know yet," he admitted. "But it's time for me to go."
"Well, when are you coming back?"
Jemima looked at him uncertainly. "...Me and Mama are going with you?" She sounded slightly disappointed by the idea, having already grown to like her new surroundings. Though he supposed anything was an improvement over shipping crates in a musty old basement. "Do we have to go right now?"
"No, Jem," he corrected carefully. "You're going to stay right here."
"So...you're gonna leave us?"
There it was. And there was that Demeter look on her face
"I'm not...it's not like that. I'm not leaving you, I'm just..." Alonzo huffed. Leaving you, just like you said you wouldn't, his brain supplied.
He tried again. "You'll have lots of new friends here, lots of cats to take care of you, and you won't need me. I gotta go somewhere else where cats need me." Liar, his conscious hissed at him again. No one needs you.
Jemima thought on this.
"I…ah," he tried desperately to simplify the complicated feelings swirling in his chest. How could she possibly understand when he barely understood himself? That he needed to leave because he didn't belong here. He didn't belong anywhere. Belonging somewhere, being tied down, meant things tied to your tail. It meant you missed people when they weren't with you. And if something ever happened to you...or to them...
All he was was a liability at the best of times. They didn't need him taking up space; he didn't deserve their hospitality.
"I don't want to be another mouth to feed, you know? They have their hands full with enough cats."
"You can have my dinner," the queenkit insisted. "I just need a little bit." She pressed the pads of her paws together to show him, and Alonzo wished again he could just be hit across the face - it would hurt less. Hells alive, this wasn't fair - this wasn't supposed to be this hard. Why was he always so bad at this? How did he always manage to make everything worse?
"You're a good girl, Jemima," he forced past the lump in his throat. "Promise you'll keep being that way, okay?"
"I promise," she parroted back immediately, like an instinct, but it sounded empty and lacking any conviction. "But I don't want you to go."
"I know, but-"
Jemima blinked at him, eyes suddenly clear and bright, sparkling unnervingly. The pale blue darkened considerably. If Alonzo weren't so used to her sudden changes in disposition, he would have cringed away. Jemima had a way about her that made everything seem so...big but so small at the exact same time. She looked at you as though she were seeing clear to the other side of the world. Her voice was clearer, older, when she muttered: "You don't want to go either. You're just afraid."
Alonzo had no answer for that, stunned into silence. He didn't even want to acknowledge how deep she'd dug for that one. He felt as though she'd ripped the fur from his body in one clean swoop.
The unnerving ice in Jemima's eyes had melted into tears. Like a switch, she was back to being a regular little kitten. "You have to stay with me. You promised."
"Jemima," Demeter called gently, sensing the escalation. Even now she was coming to his rescue - what a coward he was. She looked so...exhausted. In every way. He needed to leave. He only ever caused her problems she didn't deserve. "It's time to sleep now. Alonzo needs to go."
"You promised you weren't going to leave me ever," Jemima insisted, turning her wobbling lip back towards Demeter. "That's what you said. I heard you. You're a liar."
"Jemima," Demeter said again, firmer this time. "Enough."
Jemima sniffled loudly and balled up her fists, trying to self regulate, but Alonzo was still staring at the space just above her ears.
Electra had woken at the commotion, and was staring silently at them from the shadows, eyes winking in the moonlight. If Bombalurina had woken up to listen as well, she didn't show it. Hell, he wished she were awake, too. The four of them looking at him with thinly veiled scrutiny. Might as well make a whole circus around himself.
He was quiet for a long time, listening to Jemima struggle to keep from crying. The sound hurt him more than he could describe.
"You're right, I did say that. I am a liar," Alonzo admitted, voice quiet and pathetic sounding to his own ears. Shame burned hot on his face, even as reminded himself that he was a grown tom; he wasn't a kitten being scolded for lying. Why did he feel so small then? Like he was making such a big mistake? "But sometimes...sometimes grownups have to do things that are better for everyone. Your ma will explain it to you."
"But it won't be better!"
"Yes it will," he retorted, wondering how this all had slipped so quickly away from him. He felt childish; may as well bicker like one.
"How do you know?"
How do you know what's good for anyone? You don't even know what's good for yourself.
"I just...do," he insisted again, but it sounded weak. Tired. Give up. You don't want to go. You can’t even do that right. "I don't belong here."
"You do!" Jemima insisted, rubbing angrily at her face. "You belong with Mama, and Bomba and Electra and Jerrie and Teazer and me."
Alonzo glanced up around the room. Electra was poised, silently nodding. Bombalurina, having pushed off her feigned sleep to eavesdrop, as suspected, looked...troubled. Demeter looked expectant, as though she had caught a breath to hold and wasn't sure whether to release it or not.
And Jemima, his dear little Jemima, was looking up at him as though he'd hit her, and, more than any other time in his pathetic life, he hated himself for that.
"And...and that means you belong here," she concluded. “You’ll stay with me a-and you'll be my dad. I don’t have a good one of those.”
Alonzo's expression twisted in on itself violently. "Oh, honey," he managed to choke out, voice rough. The frayed edges of panic gripped at his chest as any resolve he had left slipped further from him. "I'm...I'm not your dad."
“But you could be, if you want.” Jemima turned back towards Demeter, as though the issue were simple, like asking permission for a sleepover. “Mama won’t mind. Right?”
Demeter blinked, but a twitching, hesitant smile was threatening to pull at the corners of her muzzle.
"You're s'pposed to be here," Jemima whimpered as a final resort. "I just know it."
Alonzo sighed, long and loud. His mind was reeling a mile a minute. "How do you know it?"
"I just do. I don't know why," she muttered, throwing his words back at him in retaliation, kicking at the floor. "Please don't go away. Stay until the sun comes."
Just until the sun comes.
For Cat's sake, what was he doing?
Jemima curled into his side the moment he'd defeatedly lay down, as though she feared he would try to leave when she fell asleep, her little purr rattling his ribs. He could still feel the delicate outlines of her bones, just slightly too close for comfort. But maybe that wouldn't be a problem so much anymore. Time would tell.
Bombalurina and Electra had turned away and gone back to sleep as the show concluded. Demeter was still looking at him out of the corner of her eye, though the gaze was warm and it felt...different. The golden tomcat stared up though the gaps in the roof, through to the stars and the moon, wondering how exactly he'd wound up in this position. Wondering if he'd ever had the strength to leave, or if he'd always been selfishly hoping he'd stay.
For a moment, he heard Cesare's words echo pointedly in his ears. That slimy bastard was always poking his nose where it didn't belong, and if he never saw him again it would be too soon. But even miles away he still managed to slither under Alonzo's skin.
"You've gone soft, patches."
And maybe he had. Maybe he'd turned to full on pulpy mush in the face of one stubborn queenkit and her equally stubborn mother and their ragtag group of Junkyard cats. It sounded sickeningly saccharine just turning it over in his mind. If you had told him a year ago...But, at the moment, with Jemima's tiny pin prick claws catching his fur and Demeter's tail gently moving to brush his, feeling for a moment - just a fleeting painful moment - that maybe he did belong, he was struggling to recall why that was such a bad thing. Maybe he could get used to this.
Ah, hell, he'd figure it out in the morning. The morning is more brighter, after all.