You Will Grow Up

By MistyBom

Amanda Ferran stomped about the room, angry. She’d lost one of her stars already, and now another was pregnant and wouldn’t be able to perform. What luck, what rotten, horrible luck. And still she had to put on a show by the end of the week. She couldn’t very well cancel performances. Her father would have a fit. He’d rant about how he would be unable to feed the animals, take care of the animals, if she didn’t put on performances every single week. As if she didn’t know that she was supporting all of daddy’s little side experiments that his backer hadn't funded, or exactly knew about. She’d have to transfer the understudy. He was too young, much younger than the others had been, but necessity demanded it. But she had wanted to bring in a new Demeter also. She shook her head, what to do, what to do? The problem with Tantomile and Coricopat would be easy to deal with, just remove the role of Coricopat until Tantomile had delivered…, whatever they were, and then reinstate them both. She sighed and sank into her chair, a hand clutching the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off a headache.

*Come, come, Tabby always said you worked everything up to something bigger than it was.* She reprimanded herself mentally as she remembered her private teacher, the one who’d stayed with her all her childhood, while daddy was away. The one who’d taught her to dance. The one that had helped her save the cats from destruction, and save her father from having to explain some of his more creative funding habits. She sighed again, and decided to bring both in. It wasn’t something she normally did, except in the case of the Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer replacements, which she thought needed to stay together, since they were a team and they needed to work together. She agonized about teaching two cats their roles. *Fool! They know their roles! You’ve had them practicing since you chose them for the dance class.* Her mind reprimanded. She smiled. Still that meant two kittens to watch over during afternoon pract…she caught herself, there wasn’t a Mistoffelees to replace. And she doubted the kitten would be ready by the end of the week. Maybe if she transferred Bustopher to play half the time? Yes, that would work, the young Demeter and Bustopher in the morning, and the regular Demeter and the new Mistoffelees in the afternoon. She’d only have to watch one kitten at a time and both got practices in. She could have her cake and eat it too. She smiled, finally seeing the light. She stood, headache gone, and headed for the trainees practice room.

*O*O*

Lilly giggled happily as she pinned down Hardy and nipped his ears in triumph. They had been playing a game of pounce, and using her height and strength against him, she had won. She knew that she was too old to be playing kitten games, but she couldn’t resist. Eventually she let up on him, and he gave her a goofy smile, as he stood. They were about to start again when the door swooshed open. They turned to see the dance instructor, who’s hair, for the first time was down. The whole room was frozen as she entered. She walked up to them, her presence like Goliath was to David, despite the fact that some of the kittens were taller than the instructor. Lilly focussed her copper eyes on the blue, and awaited nervously for what she had to say.

"You two are to come with me." Hardy looked at her, his slitted green eyes confused. Lilly and Hardy nodded, and followed her. They had not gotten far when a bulky guard stopped them.

"Miss, I don't think it would be wise to move them yourself. They could attack you in the halls, who knows what they are capable of. You saw what the ‘other’ one did." Amanda sighed. He was right, she had been to easy on her animals, and that was why Mistoffelees had escaped.

"Fine, come with us. They are going to the troupe room." She said with disdain, then marched on. Hardy and Lilly looked at each other. They were to join the troupe? It had only been a little while since Ace and Circuit had joined, and it had been a long while after Brave was, and a long while before Fire, Pretty, and Timid had gone, of course separately. They didn’t understand, but went along with it anyway. They must have done something right that they would be promoted early, they thought as they were dragged down the hall.

*O*O*

Amanda waltzed in during the Jellicles lunch break. Although they were done and were either sleeping or playing, they were still on break. She motioned the guards to bring the two new members. All attention was focussed on her.

"These are the new replacements." She motioned to the tom. "He will be playing Mistoffelees." Then to the Queen, "And she shall be the apprentice to Demeter. Bustopher will also be retaking a part time role as Mistoffelees." She nodded, then departed, the guards behind her. Hardy didn’t understand the meaning part-time and was confused. Why would Bustopher be playing Mistoffelees? Bustopher was the fat one. He started to giggle, but bit his lip to prevent it. It would be rude to laugh at him, even though the idea of a fat cat doing a toe touch was rather humorous.

As soon as they had left the tribe swarmed around the new members. Brave however, hung back. His eyes were…erm…glued to the new Queen, the one he’d known, just before he left as Lilly. Back then she was thin as the dance instructor’s wand, and now she’d filled out becoming one of the most beautiful queens he’d ever seen. Her golden and black fur glistened in the harsh lights, as did her copper eyes. He felt a strange feeling in his chest and he knew immediately he was in love. Head over toes in love with the soon to be Demeter. He gulped. But how to act around her? He knew very little of love, except from what he’d learned from the play. Okay, so in Tugger’s song he acted all cool and never admitted any true emotion. Sometimes Tugger would say, "Hey baby," and they’d fall all over him. Maybe this would work. He hoped it would. But when would be the right time?

*O*O*

More of the attention from the elders like Deuteronomy and Munkustrap, was focussed on Hardy. He was too young, they knew that. But he’d been placed into the troupe, and so obviously he was to be Mistoffelees, replacing the still newly dead one. There was much a buzz about the new one, most stating how young he was. They didn’t know if he could accomplish his duty, and they certainly didn’t want him to get transferred.

"I suggest we just treat it like we normally would." Bustopher suggested, holding on to Munkustrap's arm. "I’ll be taking on Mistoffelees again anyway. We don't need to tell him... that... yet. And what would he know of how we run it here? He’s just come from the dance class, we’ll just tell him that I started the same way." Munkustrap nodded. He'd been debating inwardly over what to tell the young Mistoffelees, since he would most probably catch on that he was the youngest, and want to know why. They didn’t know if they should repeat such a horrible incident to a young kitten. He might blame himself.

Deuteronomy thought it over. "I agree."

"Yes, it will have to do. Do you think you can still pull off Mistoffelees, Bustopher?" Bustopher nodded.

"Yes, I’ve still got it in me, it hasn’t been that long." Bustopher said with a wink. He didn’t know what to think about his original replacement, so he chose not to at all. Deuteronomy stood and walked over to the two kittens, Munkustrap, Demeter and Rumpelteazer at his side, Bustopher taking up the back. He smiled at the two kittens, who were being ooohed and aahhhed at by the rest of the troupe. The kittens smiled shyly back.

"Welcome kittens. I am Deuteronomy, this is Munkustrap, and his mate Demeter, and my mate Rumpelteazer." He said kindly, placing his paw on each of their heads as he said their names. Bustopher cleared his throat behind him, and then stepped up to the front.


"And I am Bustopher, filling in until you, young Mistoffelees grow into your role." Bustopher said cordially. He didn’t want the kitten wondering about his role as Bustopher playing Mistoffelees. Because wondering lead to questions, and where there were questions, there almost had to be answers. Hardy, or as he should now be called, Mistoffelees saw that Bustopher was thinner than he expected. A lot thinner, he looked like everyone else.

"Yes." Deuteronomy said, clearing his own throat. Bustopher had made a quick save, and one for which he was thankful for. "Now, Mistoffelees, Bustopher will be your keeper and you are to obey him at all times." Hardy nodded in understanding, but still wondered why they all stared at him with concern. "And Demeter shall watch over you, young queen." Lilly too accepted this. Before they knew it, they both were dragged off by their respective care givers.

*O*O*

Demeter didn’t know what to think of her replacement. It was odd to know that one day she would replaced and her role would be filled by the queen behind her. It was like staring in to the future. And then one day she would look into the face of her future, and the same would happen to that future, and so on. She stopped when she reached a quiet corner before getting a better look at her. She was trim, but with somewhat generous curves filling around her breasts and hips. Her face was a stark white as was her chest. On her head generous mess of red fur, sticking out everywhere, blending in her ears. Her copper eyes studied her with equal fervor. Demeter smiled. She remembered when she had looked very much like that. Only she had no one to look up to her, to guide her.

"Well, I suppose you know that I am Demeter." The kitten nodded.

"You can call me Lilly." She said softly. Demeter quirked an eyebrow, she had a name?

"The dance instructor named you?" She said with curiosity. The kitten, who had requested to be known as Lilly, shook her head.

"No. We all name ourselves in the dance class. Sometimes, if we can’t think of one, which most of us couldn’t, we’d go to Ace and Circuit, and they’d come up with a name for us. They gave me Lilly, and Hardy…well…Hardy." She said as she pointed to the tom that had come with her. "But we quit after Ace and Circuit left. We couldn’t come up with any more names for the new kittens, and the dance instructor was catching on." Demeter shook her head. She hadn’t heard of any two Jellicles called Ace and Circuit.

"There isn’t an Ace and Circuit." Demeter said with an apologetic tone. Lilly looked at her as if she were insane.

"No they're here. See that’s them over there." She said as she pointed to the brown, black and white tom, and the orange, red, black, brown and white queen, the replacements for Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.

"Oh, I see. Well your naming thing will have to remain between us." Demeter said. Lilly looked offended.

"But then what will they call me? Lilly’s my name." She said with determination, demanding an answer. Demeter took her by the hand.

"Well, here you don’t have a name until you have a role." Lilly looked crestfallen. "Until you have a role, you’re called kitten."

"Oh." Lilly said softly. She didn’t like the idea of losing her name, but these were the rules, so she went along.

"So…" Demeter said, trying to bring up her spirits up. "Tell me about yourself." Lilly smiled and immediately started speaking. She talked of her times in the dance class with some funny little anecdotes about some of her class mates.

*O*O*

Hardy looked around at all the taller cats, then back to Bustopher. Bustopher smiled at him, as he presented him to a slim black queen with gray stripes streaking through her coat, and a gray face. "This is my mate Grizabella." He said kindly. Hardy smiled back. He studied her eyes, she seemed very sad about something. But he made no comment.

Grizabella studied the new Mistoffelees. No, he couldn’t be her boy. His markings were different. She sighed, and forced a happy smile on her face. Bustopher, noticed his mate's look, and he wanted to comfort her. But what to do with Mistoffelees?

"How about you go and talk with some of the others, I think you would know those two over there." He said as he pointed to who Hardy had known as Circuit and Ace. He nodded, and left, eager to meet his former classmates.

*O*O*

Lilly was freed to associate with the others later that day. A chance for which she was glad. She liked Demeter, but she was also eager meet up with some of her old classmates. The first one she met was Brave.

She smiled and waved to him.

"Hey Brave, how ya doin’?" She asked casually. Brave turned to her, and puffed up his chest and put on a suave smile.

"Hey baby, how abouts you and me get together sometime?" He said in a low and suggestive voice. Lilly was completely and utterly disgusted. Who did he think he was Rum Tum Tugger? She didn't need another fan. Sure, all the toms in the class, had been younger than her and therefore not really her idea of potential mates, but they adored her almost constantly. And from the look that Brave had in his eyes, he'd just joined them in annoying adoration. She was glad that Hardy wasn't that way, she might have gone crazy. Normally, with the younger toms, she told them politely that she wasn't interested, which worked most of the time. But Brave? Brave should have known better, he was older, not much older than her, but still older and should know how to treat a girl, what with all the mates in the troupe wooing each other. She decided she'd have to get some payback. Payback for all the times she'd had to tell her glassy-eyed minions to back off.

Unfortunately for Brave, he thought it was working perfectly. He came closer to her. Surprised Lilly pushed him away roughly, causing him to fall on his rear to the floor.

"Get off of me!" Lilly squealed. "What were you thinking?" She growled. Brave shrugged.

"Well since I'm going to be Munkustrap, and your going to be Demeter, it's like we HAVE to be mates, because that's the way it works." Brave replied simply, after all Munkustrap had always been Munkustrap and his mate was Demeter, and she was always Demeter, so why shouldn't the new Demeter be his? To say that Lilly was unhappy, would be an understatement, a much better one would be she was furious.

"I will choose who will be my mate, not you and not anybody else." She hissed before disappearing into the crowd. Munkustrap shrugged and figured that she was playing hard to get, and went off to find Ace.

*O*O*

Things went well for the troupe, even though the instructor had gotten stricter and had shocked them more often then they could count. Except for Bustopher and Mistoffelees whom she left alone. The only reason the rest of the troupe could figure was that she needed both of them in peak condition to perform, and that when Mistoffelees was old enough to take his role on full time, that it would change, but it didn’t prevent the feelings of jealousy because of it. In fact after rehearsals things were peaceful, except for when Lilly would shout and knock down Brave, whom they could see was in love with her. They also knew that she taunted him, and played with him, before knocking him away again. They did nothing to intercede, for either Lilly would calm down or Brave find someone else. Although it looked like neither would change anytime soon.

*O*O*

Bombalurina awoke with a groan and began to brush her fur, noticing that it was fading from it’s normally bright red and dulling too. Time to be dyed again. She sighed. It wasn’t the most pleasurable of experiences but it kept her from being transferred, and so she lived with it.

*O*O*

Amanda entered the practice room, and the first thing she noticed was the faded Bombalurina and Mungojerrie. She had planned dragging the young Mistoffelees in to be dyed today to correct his black muzzle, hands, and feet and fitted tomorrow, since Jennifer was in today, and the seamstress would be in the next. She decided that Mistoffelees wouldn't be the only one getting a coloring. She studied the replacement Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer for a moment. They’d shown great improvement and adaptation skills since she’d introduced them a few months ago. Maybe now they should be introduced? The original duo wasn’t getting any younger. Nodding to herself, she stood in front of the group.

"It is my decision the apprentices to Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer are old enough to take on their roles. That means they’ll be dyed. Bombalurina also needs touch up and Mistoffelees needs a lot more than that. Come with me." She said quickly. Ace and Circuit looked to each other. That was it, they were now Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, and their overseers were now nameless? Dazed they followed Teacher out, wondering what she meant by dyeing. Mistoffelees followed hesitantly after much urging from Bustopher, also nervously curious about this ‘dyeing’.

*O*O*

They entered the large room with three long tables with straps on them and a large woman playing solitaire on a cluttered desk. She snapped to attention when the instructor cleared her throat.

"Hello Ms. Ferran, regular dye job today." It was then that she got a good look at Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer. "Oh, these are the new ones eh?" She then caught sight of Mistoffelees hiding behind them, using his size to his advantage. "And a new Mistoffelees too. Well we’ll fix them up real nice." She smiled to Bombalurina. "And of course our regular, Ms. Bombalurina would you please go to the shower, thanks love." She said, ushering her into the shower and starting the water. Amanda rolled her eyes at such politeness to animals, but made no comment, yet.

Bombalurina didn’t mind Jennifer, the dye woman, as much as she knew she should, she thought as the water soaked her fur thoroughly. But she was so nice, and kind, she didn’t treat her like an animal, and actually talked to her like the humans did to each other, even though she wasn’t allowed to respond. Bombalurina stepped out and wrapped a towel around herself as she waited on the mat patiently while Jennifer mixed the bright red mixture in a bowl. Jennifer motioned her over and Bombalurina lay down on the table, towel abandoned on the floor.

Amanda cleared her throat. "Jennifer?" Jennifer looked up just as she was about to put the first brush of dye on her living canvas. "Do you think you can handle them?" she said impatiently motioning to the three behind her. Jennifer chuckled.

"Oh, they look to be a troublesome lot, but I think I can handle them." She said lightly, walking towards them. Amanda rolled her eyes and walked out of the room. Mungojerrie, Rumpelteazer and Mistoffelees stared at the woman blankly as she looked back at them with a wry grin. "Well, I’ve got to do Bombalurina first, but I’ve got some cards you can play with until I’m done. Bombi’s an old customer of mine, so she won’t take long. Then I’ll teach you guys the routine." She said. She walked over to a cluttered desk, and pulled out a red deck of cards. She tossed it to them, before returning her attention to Bombalurina. Mungojerrie stared at the strange red box in wonder along with his comrades.

"Thanks..." He said softly before all three dashed to a corner

*O*O*

Mungojerrie, Rumpelteazer, and Mistoffelees stared at the cards in awe. No human had ever given them anything except food. Slowly they opened it and sat on the floor in a circle. They knew nothing about playing cards, so instead stared at them. Mungojerrie then pulled out an ace. He stroked it, before carefully concealing it in his shorts. Both Rumpelteazer and Mistoffelees glared at him, and Rumpelteazer went as far as to slap his hand like a disobedient child. Mungojerrie didn’t care, he would no longer be called Ace, and those cards would serve as a remembrance of who he was before and after he was Mungojerrie. Soon he had pulled out all four of the cards and had them safely tucked in his pocket. He didn’t know why he wasn’t fearful of being caught, he just wasn’t.

*O*O*

As Jennifer had said, Bombalurina's dye job went quickly and soon it was their turn. She asked Mungojerrie to strip first, which surprised him, but he complied. She shoved him in the shower and started it. During that time the cards had been knocked out of his shorts. Jennifer noticed, and shoved them back in. She didn’t mind, after all they were just playing cards, and she had a ton of them at home. And it wasn’t as if Mungojerrie could kill someone with them either. So she let it slide. She lead him to the table and began her artwork, occasionally looking to Rumpelteazer for where to paint next and what color. Mungojerrie hated every minute of it, but suppressed a growl. Soon it was finished, and he was relieved, although he would be happier when he could wash it off. Jennifer then pulled Bombalurina back into the shower and hosed her down. When she came out she looked like she normally did, a bright fire-like red. A guard came in and picked her up and they disappeared down a corridor. She smiled to Mungojerrie, before shoving Mistoffelees in the shower. She ripped him out five minutes later and placed him on the table, studying him carefully.

"We’re going to have to bleach you, or that white won’t show at all." She clucked, before pulling out a jar of clear stuff. "I suggest sweetie that you don’t move, this stuff burns." She looked to Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer. "You two better keep playing with those cards, this is going to be awhile." She paused and grinned. "And please don’t take any more of my cards without asking, I know you can speak." Mungojerrie’s jaw dropped, and Jennifer laughed before refocusing on Mistoffelees. She applied the bleach gently, and Mistoffelees felt it burn under his fur, but didn’t move. The smell was revolting and he wanted to puke, but to do that, he would have to move, and if he moved, he’d get burned. So he’d have to hold it. He decided to focus on something else. Like why such a nice human like Jennifer, would work with people like the instructor and her servants, the guards and the scientists. "You’re probably wondering how I got mixed up in all this." Jennifer said, reading his mind. "I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I used to be a hairdresser down on earth, a place far from here, where my habits are tolerated. Well I came here with my soon to be husband, but he left me, and I found myself with no way to get back. I got a job near here, but they didn't like my addictive card playing, and they gave me the boot. Then Ferran found me, and got me a permanent job here. I suppose I should be more thankful to the old crotchety spider, but I don’t like his attitude. There’s just something that’s wrong with him." Mistoffelees listened patiently, understanding one word out of ten, but enjoying listening to her voice, distracting him from the bleach. Soon she was finished and she put him back in the shower. He suprised her by starting it himself and let the water wash off the awful smelling stuff. It was when he looked down he saw the affects. His fur was a golden color where she’d applied it. He opened the door totally confused. He was Mistoffelees, and Mistoffelees was black and white, not black and golden brown. Jennifer laughed then ushered Mungojerrie in and started the water.

"Don’t worry, I’m gonna paint you white later. Come on out Mungo, you should be done." Mungojerrie came out and looked down to find red and gold stripes all over him, matching him to Rumpelteazer. He looked at her then to himself in amazement. Mistoffelees giggled. Jennifer smiled. "They do look like twin sisters, don't they?" she asked the giggling black and white tom. Mungojerrie looked agape at Mistoffelees, before shaking himself dry, purposely trying to get Mistoffelees wet, even though it didn’t matter, since he was soaked already. Jennifer laughed. "Don’t take it personally Mungojerrie. Go towel yourself and a guard will take you back." Mungojerrie nodded, grumbling mentally as he dried himself deftly. Rumpelteazer kept staring at him, which made him nervous. When they were escorted through the hall, Rumpelteazer leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"They’re right, you look my sister." Mungojerrie blushed in humiliation. He had considered finding a way to get it removed, but while he had them on, then he could dance with Rumpelteazer, and he reasoned that he could put up with the stripes if he was allowed to dance with her.

*O*O*

It had been several weeks since Mistoffelees had been in for his first dye job. He was glad that the dye would last awhile, so he wouldn’t have to put on anymore, but he was sort of sad that he wouldn’t be able to see Jennifer again. In the meantime he had to entertain himself. Everybody else was getting romantic. Bustopher was with Grizabella, Munkustrap with Demeter, Deuteronomy and the former Rumpelteazer, and Brave was chasing Lilly who was taunting him. Personally he didn’t mind, but there was no one for him. Everyone already had a mate. So he decided to try to revamp his dance. An extra turn there, a more natural step there, and a different jump here wasn’t so bad he thought. After all Bustopher, the ORIGINAL Mistoffelees had done the same dance, and he didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again.

*O*O*

Bustopher watched from his bunk as Mistoffelees danced on his own. Deciding he had kind of neglected the kid, he left Grizabella and walked over. Mistoffelees paused in his dance and looked up.

"Hey, Mistoffelees. What are you doing?" He asked out of curiosity. The smaller black and white tom shrugged.

"I was kind of bored with my regular dance so I decided to change it." Bustopher was aghast. Mistoffelees cocked his head at the reaction. "Is that a problem?"

"Don’t be getting any big ideas about changing the dance. To the instructor, she owns the dance and she owns you, and if you don’t do it correctly she’ll have your fur for a robe." Mistoffelees shuddered, but remained internally defiant. Bustopher probably didn’t want anything to change. And he was sure that the instructor wouldn’t mind at all. But as they say: Fools rush in where wise men do not wander.

*O*O*

Lilly giggled as she lured Brave closer with a seductive wave of her hips. He followed her numbly, as she beckoned him closer, before kicking his feet out from underneath him. He landed with the usual thud. She laughed and pointed, before falling on her rear herself. Brave then started laughing and pointing to her. Lilly looked up to see a very stern looking Demeter.

"Lilly." She said tersely in a tone that meant business. "Quit messing with Brave. He can’t help that he’s attracted to you, don’t be so mean." Demeter said, using Brave’s name. Her talks with Lilly had revealed much of the world through the kitten’s point of view. She glared at the both of them before rolling her eyes and walking off. Lilly pouted, angry that she’d been deprived of her victim. He was just so annoying at times with his adoration, but she had to admit that he was kind of cute.

Brave however was embarrassed by Demeter’s comment and slunk off to Deuteronomy. As he approached he saw him picking at something white with his claws. He sat down at his feet and watched with fascination.

"What are you doing?" He asked softly. Deuteronomy looked up and smiled.

"Well hello kit. I’m carving this soap." He said as he affectionately carved out strands of fur.

"Of who?"

"This shall be in remembrance of the Mistoffelees we lost." He said softly. He then pulled out from the bedding a second sculpture that looked like Tugger. "This one was for one of our Tugger’s. Hopefully when I’m gone someone will continue this. We must remember those we lost." He placed a few more grooves in the sculpture before holding it back and smiling. "There, finished." Brave stared in awe.

"Wow. Would you teach me?" He said hopefully. Deuteronomy laughed and pulled out another bar of soap he’d hidden incase he broke one of them.

"Sure, just use your claws to trace out a pattern, then…"

*O*O*

Amanda growled as she watched Mistoffelees dance a completely different dance than the one she’d taught every Mistoffelees. What was he thinking? She’d had him doing it since he was eight years old, he couldn’t have forgotten it, it should have been second nature by now. Obviously he had decided he knew better, an insult she resented. Slamming the music off, she marched up to him, anger making her appear fearsome, even though he was two inches taller than her. He looked at her blankly.

"What…do you think you were doing?" She hissed. "That…was not the dance I taught you." Mistoffelees blushed and looked to the ground. "Do you think you know better than me?" Mistoffelees shook his head. "Good because you don’t. If I ever see you doing something different than I’ve taught you then I’m gonna shock you until you’re completely white." she snarled before stomping back to her seat. She sat down and rewound the Mistoffelees number. "Now do it correctly." Completely embarrassed, Mistoffelees nodded and began again, hoping that the heat in his face would go down soon.

*O*O*

Mistoffelees came off the stage after the end of the first act, completely winded. He sat down on the benches lent to them. He fanned his face weakly with his hand. He tried to stretch but everything turned black when he did. It was extremely hot inside the theatre, his thick fur and the large stage lights didn’t help the matter. He tried standing, but fell back down. Everyone was lining up, and he had to go on, he knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t. He stood and took a few halting steps forward before falling to the ground in darkness.

*O*O*

Bustopher looked for Mistoffelees to find him on the floor, from the looks asleep. Of course it was boiling backstage, making even him, a seasoned performer, a little sluggish. He ran back as the others began to enter to check up on him. But the dance instructor blocked his way and told him to play Mistoffelees. He nodded and crawled on his knees on stage as if everything was normal.

*O*O*

Amanda cursed as she put Mistoffelees knees up, trying to bring the blood back to his head. It was reaching 95 degrees outside of the theatre and onstage it had to be 113 she figured. And he’d passed out. Fortunately she had back up.

*O*O*

The rest of the play passed quickly and Bustopher acted like he did in his youth as Mistoffelees, sprightly and giddy. He disappeared as he normally would during Skimbleshanks’ song, and put on previous Mistoffelees’ lighted jacket, and climbed up the cat walk. Mistoffelees still hadn’t woken up, and he was worried, but he had a job to do. He steadied himself on his rope and waited for his cue. Rum Tum Tugger opened and the rope began to go down into the darkened stage. The coat lit up automatically, and he smiled and waved to those below him and out in the audience. He heard the feigned gasps of the troupe, as well as the amazed gasps of the audience. He smiled and began dancing. Everything went according to plan, exactly as he remembered it, only the faces differed slightly. He waited until Deuteronomy turned his back to Rum Tum Tugger before jumping into his arms. He leaped and they stumbled backwards into the scenery; Bustopher landing on top of Deuteronomy. An ugly crack sounded as the two hit the metal boxes, which were much sturdier than the flimsy cardboard they were made to resemble. Quickly rolling off of the gray cat, Bustopher could see that the middle of Deuteronomy's spine had landed on the corner one of the boxes. He looked to Deuteronomy, who’s face was warred with pain and confusion. The gray cat must not of planned on it being him, and he was prepared for the much lighter Mistoffelees. Bustopher jumped up and distracted the audience as Deuteronomy’s mate and Tugger pulled the injured Jellicle leader to the side.

*O*O*

Amanda cursed as she saw what happened. Deuteronomy hadn’t been prepared. He was having trouble standing, even though he was being supported by two other Jellicles, and his eyes were beginning to glaze. She called a couple of her assistants over. Thinking quickly she sent one for talcum powder and the other for Munkustrap's apprentice. She dropped the curtain, and told the conductor to cut. Sizing up Deuteronomy's injury took her only a moment, he was of no use to her now, he’d never be able to do the same as he had before, he was a liability, and one she couldn’t afford. She unzipped the furry coat, then ordered her returning assistants to take him away. All the Jellicles had gathered backstage fortunately. She grabbed the Munkustrap and forced Deuteronomy's costume on him. Then grabbing the talcum powder she covered the black stripes on his forehead. "You’re Deuteronomy, and you’re promoted to Munkustrap. The original Deuteronomy has been transferred. " She whispered harshly at the two gray cats who looked anxiously as the ailing Deuteronomy was dragged away. Rumpelteazer looked up to the queen who had been her best friend and predecessor close to tears. She began to sniff, feeling tears welling up in her eyes. In fact it looked like everyone was close to tears, even the new Deuteronomy. Amanda made the call to the conductor to begin again and raised the curtain. The Jellicles, pranced out flaunting a happiness they did not feel.

*O*O*

Demeter watched nervously from the sound booth, where she and Brave had been singing into the funny foam circles and watching the others dance about on the screen to the side, along with the former Mungojerrie, Rumpelteazer, and, of course, Macavity. The older cats had bolted and told the two kittens to stay put as they saw Deuteronomy disappear off of the stage. Now she was the only one in there. They had taken Brave, and she wondered what was going on. Something had happened, she could tell, but she was on the other side of the stage and could not see anything really well, let alone hear what they were saying. She did not have to wonder long for the performance ended and a guard grabbed her by the arm and dragged her into line with the rest of the troupe as they walked off stage, their faces somber. She didn’t see Deuteronomy. Panicking she ran up to Brave.

"Where’s Deuteronomy, Brave? Where is he? I don’t see him!" She said desperately. Brave looked down, trying to hide his tears.

"He’s been transferred. I’m playing Munkustrap now." He said softly. Demeter nodded slowly, biting her lip, trying to prevent the tears that threatened to spill. Deuteronomy had been one of her confidants. He was so nice to everyone. It was hard to believe that he was gone.

"Well, that’s nice. I’m happy for you…" She said, before breaking into sobs. Her knees failed at the threshold of the sleeping room of the theatre, but Munkustrap caught her. He held her in his arms as he dragged her to an isolated corner. He sat with her, tears streaming down his face as they held each other and rocking gently back and forth. Lilly felt guilty that she’d treated Munkustrap so badly. He really was nice, she thought as she felt his tears hit her ears. He should be happy that he’s been promoted, it’s what he’s always wanted, and she’d treated him so rotten and here he was comforting her, when it wasn’t even his responsibility. She sniffed and shook her head. "I’m s…s…sorry I’ve been treating y…y…you so bad. I th…thought you were l…l…like every other tom, and y…you didn’t m…make t…the gr…greatest impression when w…we first met." She stuttered as she looked at him, stroking his cheek. An emotion she hadn’t ever felt before burned inside her as she looked athim, urging her to rub him affectionately. Easing up slowly she rubbed him gently on the cheek, fearing his rejection. She knew now that he was the one she wanted. To her pleasure he rubbed her back. They broke off, a smile on their lips even though tears still streamed down their faces. "So truce right?" Munkustrap nodded. "Deuteronomy would be proud." She said softly as he put his arms around her waist and she gladly returned his warm embrace.

*O*O*

Later that night, after they had been returned home, a dark figure disappeared into the shower, coming out with a small object in his hand. Slowly he walked over to his bunk where a petite queen slept peacefully. He gently put it under a tile in the floor, before getting in the bunk, nuzzling the queen’s head and going to sleep.

The End

 

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