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Third Time's A Charm

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        She sat in the corner of the hospital's waiting room, surrounded by loving family, as she cradled a hefty baby in her arms. She shifted his weight slightly and readjusted the bottle. He grasped it eagerly with clumsy hands and drank thirstily. She smiled at the satisfied grunts that came from deep within his throat but then frowned as another of her children coughed and the daughter perched on top of her head sneezed. A moment later, a small, weak voice called, "Polly wanna tissue?"

        As a raccoon scrambled up the woman's body to give the sick parrot a Kleenex and help her clean up, Kat turned her gaze to the receptionist. She paid the other two-leggers in the room scantly enough attention to send a silent snarl of warning in their direction. They were clustered on the other side of the room, their beady eyes glaring holes into the small group of her family, and though she would have loved to burn the human lot on the spot, she focused instead, out of respect both for the animals attached to their so-called masters and for the establishment itself, on the curly mophead of the blonde at the desk. "What's takin' so long?" she growled the question on all their minds.

        The blonde paused in chewing her gum to roll her eyes and state in a snobbish voice, "I've already told you, Ms. O'Hara, the doctor is busy with an emergency patient."

        Kat turned worried eyes to the wicker basket on the floor beside her. Her emerald eyes met the big, chocolate eyes of the yellow Lab who kept watch over the basket's inhabitants. The dog whined softly, her tail tucked between her legs, and Captain meowed quietly into his best friend's ear. "The bandage is nae goin' tae hold much longer."

        Kat closed her eyes briefly. She had already known that the blood of her latest rescue would soon start pouring again; he had only confirmed her suspicions. Her green eyes popped back open with renewed determination. The bear cub cried and waved his furry paws in his attempts to hold on to her and the bottle as Kat placed him in the arms of the racoon and beaver who sat beside her. She gave the bottle to an orange cat, who immediately began to feed the cub again, and stood with only the slightest fluttering of the parrot's wings to warn of her change.

        Kat spoke to the tiger sprawled between the basket and the other chair; the volume of her whisper did nothing to hide the danger of her words to him. "Let nae one come near 'em, Jacob."

        The tiger answered her in a deep rumble, his head resting on his massive paws as his eyes turned to gleam at the humans whose fear wafted to him in a disgusting aroma. "{{{I shall guard them with my life, Mom.}}}"

        "I knae." She swept a hand quickly over his furry head in a reminder of her infinite trust in and love for him. Trusting Jacob to protect the rest of their family, Kat lifted the basket and turned to the door that led back to the operating area. She strode toward it with fire dancing in her emerald eyes.

        "Ma'am, ma'am, you can't go back there!" The receptionist hurried to try to block her, but the redhead's next words stopped the blonde cold in her tracks and stunned her so that her gum burst over her face.

        "Gi tae Hell, bitch. I gi where I want tae. Try to stop me, an' ye'll end up in an early grave. Did nae Cat warn ye nae to piss me off?"

        "Who . . . are . . . you?" the dumb-founded blonde asked from around her spattered wad of gum.

        Kat rolled her eyes at the temp's ignorance. "Detective Kat Tregarde." She heard the girl's sharp intake of breath as she kicked her way through the closed door. "Next time read the damn sign in sheet, idiot." She dismissed the blonde's startled, weak reply of "Yes, ma'am," as she continued on in her search for the doctor.

        When she found her, Cat was covered in blood up to her elbows as she fought to stop the massive bleeding of a bull elephant who'd recently had a tusk removed. Kat nearly dropped the basket in her surprise, and then her mouth fell open as she caught a clear shot of the scrawny man who was helping her. He was covered in even more blood than the doc, his Hawaiian shirt and striped pants stained a deep, dark crimson. He caught a glance at her at the same time. "What th' Hell is he doin' 'ere?" Kat demanded as he simultaneously asked the same question about her.

        Catalina Tregarde looked to the startled pair with slyness tingeing her blue eyes. "Same as you, Kat: saving an animal. He was a bit late with this beg fellow here, but we'll get him through, especially now that you're here to help."

        "She's going to help?" the man questioned even as Kat set the basket down and hurried forward.

        "Yes, Ventura, if you want him to live."

        Ace hushed but watched the strange yet beautiful woman the entire time they worked vigilantly to save the elephant's life. He was amazed by the way even her tabby cat did his best to help. By the time they had stopped the bleeding, all four were soaked with blood but none let it bother them or even slow them in the least.

        When at last the elephant slept soundly, Ace stuck his blood-covered hand out to the gorgeous redhead. "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective."

        Kat stared long and hard at the man who seemed to have electricity coursing through his veins, judging from the bolts that had shot through her the few times he had brushed against her. She then turned her back to him, leaving him with his hand still extended, and refocused her attention on Tregarde. "I've got an injured wolf an' a parrot wit' a cold. Samson's neeedin' his checkup, an' Jacob needs his annual eye exam. Where ye want us?"

        Cat stifled a sigh as she reached out and gently touched Ace's hand as it curled defensively into a fist. She knew it would do no good to try to convince Kat of Ace's goodness and many other fine attributes, even though the doctor knew the two were made for each other and had been looking forward to their meeting for a long time now. "Let him rest for now, Ace. I'll be back shortly." She walked away, wishing that Kat would ask at least half the questions about Ace that she knew he would about her. She could see his new love clearly in his eyes, but she knew, to Kat, he was just another human who she would never be convinced laid his life on the line for animals, out of love for them with no thought to money, just as much as she did.

        Ace lingered behind in the huge operating room, feeling awfully small, his eyes still glued to the spot where he had last seen the magnificent Irish beauty called Kat long after she had vanished from his sight. Spike finally came out of hiding and clambered up his shoulder. Ace raised a hand to his little friend as he asked dreamily, "Did you see her?"

        The monkey chattered back at him.

        "I know you're right. She is dangerous," he lamented. "But wow, what a woman!"


The End

This Ace Ventura moment brought to you by Kat Lee.