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Sleep Isn't for the Old

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Glittering green eyes shone from the darkness. Danger had not been paying enough attention to realize the intruder had entered the house, and he was in no mood to entertain the watchful kitten.

Likely, it was just a rogue cat that died in the forest. Sometimes those rascals wandered in without permission, especially if those kittens did not know any better. Danger used to be mindful of them, but he didn’t even bat a paw at them now, so long as the curious passerby didn’t cause a ruckus. Disturbing his sleep was a number one offense he would never forgive. Usually, one gruff snarl made that clear.

This wandering kitten did not grasp the strict memo.

Danger curled up on himself further. The radiating warmth from the fireplace warmed his bushy tail, and he covered his eyes with it, trying to ignore that insistent creature. No, he thought, leave this old soldier to his peace. Mistress had gone to bed early, although Danger had refrained from snickering to her that, yes, she would oversleep anyway.

The ancient grandfather clock in the corner shrilled the first ping of midnight. Ping, ping, ping! The floor rumbled. The sound echoed off the walls, the world and magic twisted in fury of the Witching Hour.

When he was a but a kit, Danger would leap at the clock and do battle with it (scratch at its plated glass) until the infernal contraption quieted its mighty roar. Being a familiar taught him to trust nothing and keep all jeopardizing situations at bay with his claws. But Danger was a much loftier cat in his current days.

Now, the strikes of midnight meant good ol’ fashion rest. He had to recharge his batteries for tomorrow.

The dark waves of sleep began to wash over him. He was content, and the obnoxious kitten began to fade from his memory. He would hopefully have a satisfactory dream. He would shine and get the Best Familiar of the Year prize unlike last year when that weak, upstart tabby from down the path beat him to it. He would show that the fierce were the best…

Something sharp scratched at his fur.

It took him a moment to drift back to the waking world. Again, the sharp thing alerted him to a threat, and he opened his eyes. He swatted at the spot in the air with his tail. But his mortal body hit nothing.

“Rar!” the kitten told him and stepped closer. The kitten, white and black stripped with a green aura around it, was all chipper and dead set on bothering him. It raised its paws and waved them in the air. Excitedly, the kitten jumped on the couch pillow that Danger was using as his bed, shaking the couch cushion and the last vestiges of his patience.

Quickly and unimpressed, he grumbled and glared. So that was the kitten’s game. It wanted to cuddle up as though he was a mother nurturing her kits.

Danger didn’t have time for such tomfoolery. The Deadly Rodent Chase of ’54 had kept stale on such nonsense—showing an ounce of leniency to the enemy, like the mice that thought they were safe under rocks or tree roots because you gave them a head start to track down the whole family, lead to cockiness. Besides, he had to wake his mistress up at six in the morning sharp. At that time, the home grown tomatoes in the garden would be fully ripened. A small window during the sunrise (of one full hour) would allow his mistress to pluck the tomatoes while they were at their full magical potential. Mistress got extra cranky when her potions were not top-notch, and Danger quite frankly didn’t feel like listening to her bellyaching about imperfections this and that.

Indeed, he was a busy cat with obligations.

Ignoring the kitten, he grumbled and turned on his side. If things went right, the whipper-snapper would leave him be. Maybe go play in the fire—the fire was warmer than he was. It was not like the kitten could die again, and ghosts tended to be cold. But the presence didn’t leave his side like he wished.

Sudden sadness filled the kitten’s eyes. “Raaaar!” it repeated angrily, more loudly, a plea in its tone. It clawed at a patch of Danger’s calico fur and dug its claws in, attaching itself to his long hair. It didn’t take no as an answer and curled up against him, fitting its two times smaller body against his side. It purred and nuzzled its pink nose against Danger’s spine.

Of all the impediment, crafty things…

Danger was too tired to fight. He pushed himself to his feet, back arching as he stretched his long body, hissing. The kitten persevered and clung onto his side. It sharpened its claws and latched onto the turfs of his fur so tightly that Danger picked the kitten up. Begrudgingly, Danger knew that the hold on him would cause a wound if the kitten were alive.

He gave the kitten some credit, at least. It didn’t quit. Which was a good and a bad quality for a cat.

Danger’s bones creaked as he leapt from the pillow. He landed on the couch cushions and then the floor. Neither did the kitten let go nor its grip on him lessen. He shook himself, irritably, metal skull on his collar rattling. The kitten held on for dear life and started to meow meow for mercy in the cutest way possible.

Was there no end to this madness? Sleeping in front of the cozy fire was his right, not a privilege!

Time to use the big guns. His training had prepared him for this fated day. He would do himself proud.

Danger plopped on his belly. He rolled to the side. The kitten still refused to relinquish itself from him, but he rolled until his belly was exposed (how shameless and careless) and rolled all the way on his back. The kitten yowled at him, but he did it slowly, squashing the kitten in the process. Still, the little fuzz ball went through him. He did not actually hurt the kitten, but Danger was familiar enough with this off-putting method of punishment to know the kitten got the message. Danger hoped. He had to do this a few more times before the kitten’s claws retracted and it lay sprawled on the fuzzy carpet.

Danger nodded to himself. Good. He sat down on his haunches for a moment, licking his paw, deciding where he should go next. Well, the kitten’s body had been freezing against his fur. Now that he thought about it, he was cold down to his bones. Might as well sit in front of the fireplace and get the good brunt of the flickering heat from the flames.

And he did just that. Once again, Danger flopped down, this time directly in front of the fireplace. The fire danced and swayed and the menacing heat warmed up his frayed fur. He curled up on himself against, long hair absorbing it all, comfortable.

It wasn’t too long after that paws scraped against the carpet and the kitten pounced on him again.

Danger peered at it through one slit, yellow eye. The kitten didn’t back down at the vicious warning. It just cuddled up against his side without remorse for its selfishness, the sad or distraught expression he had noticed turning into bliss. Danger… quite frankly, did not know how to beat that. Rarely had he ever been subject to such a happy kitten. Around him.

All the same, he could not exactly complain. Danger wasn’t cold anymore and the kitten was happy. Of course making the kitten at peace wasn’t his job or anything. What was he supposed to do about it a stubborn ghost? Well, he was too tired to argue or continue exerting his aching limbs this late. True to his calling, he didn’t pamper the kitten and wrap it in its tail or even notice it. The kitten did not seem to mind in the slightest. It purred and closed its eyes.

The crackling flames lulled Danger to sleep moments after his guest. One thing must be known. If the kitten wanted to pull this ridiculous stunt the next night, they would have a sit-down talk. This was to respect a decent sleep schedule, mind you—as if Danger would succumb to being too soft.