Title: The Kittens Arive
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Date in Calendar: 21 June 2010
Fandom: LWM/CSI/The Division/ER/Mad About You
Pairing: Dace/Catherine/Sara. Joan/Sandy.
Word Count: 3506
Summary: Actually, I covered that in the title below…
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Disclaimer: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Alliance Atlantis, and CBS Productions. All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of Lifetime Television, Kedzie Productions, Viacom Productions, and Paramount. "ER", the characters and situations depicted are the property of Warner Bros. Television, Amblin Entertainment, Constant C Productions, NBC, etc. "Mad About You", the characters and situations depicted are the property of In Front Productions, Nuance Productions, TriStar Television, and NBC. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with these series, their owners, or any representatives of the actors.
Author's Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah. It's LWM, duh.
Author's Notes: This was originally a prompt from a lost friend of mine and I decided that I would expand on it to get more detail on the birth of the triplets. This first part is my poor translation of Rose's thoughts as she goes through the most important event of her life. Not easy with a child only seventeen months old! The first draft of this was finished New Years Eve, 2009, about 840 pm.
Author's Notes 2: Notes: All words in italics are phonetic foreign words, usually Greek, but this time, we have French!
++ Rose ++
Things changed tonight. Since I left the big water and came to the big sand, I have watched Unca Dace's body change and listened to the murmur of their little voices in my head. Louder and louder they talk to me as the moon goes from dark to light and back to dark again. There are no words, just pictures and feelings and soft sounds like the big kitties on TV make. Unca Dace hears them too, and she talks back to them like I do; only she makes the big kitty noises that make all of us so happy. Even when Unca Dace and Maman were mean to each other and her kitty noises were scary, I wasn't scared.
'Cept… I'm scared now. 'Cause Unca Dace was hurting when the sun was falling, but none of the grown-ups are worried. I am confused, because they always worry when I hurt, so why is Unca Dace's hurt different? I can taste that something is happening, something different than before, and I can't be a good girl and stay where Mama told me to. I hafta know.
Being kitty-sneaky, I follow Aunt Kerry as she rushes to the building above Auntie Alexis. It is lucky that I wore my dark jumpsuit today. I am like the ninjas from my favorite videogame, and Aunt Kerry does not even know that I am here.
Unca Dace is growling a mean-sounding growl that is more annoyed than scary. She sounds tired and grouchy and I want to help.
"Hey Boo," Unca Dace purrs as I creep around the edge of the door and now I understand.
"The babies are coming?" My voice is squeaky because I am so excited.
"Yep. Come over here and give me hand, won't you?" This is what I wanted, and Mama looks surprised as I bounce over and jump on Unca Dace. She is all sweaty, but smiles as I hug her around the neck, hard. "Hey, no strangling the new mom," chuckles soft into my hair and I stop squeezing so hard. "Do you want to say hello to the boy? Aunt Sara has him, right over there."
Suddenly, Unca Dace hisses, and growls, and her whole body goes stiff, teeth showing like a mad cat. It would be scary on anyone else, but she doesn't do more than squeeze me just a little bit too hard.
"Soon now," she purrs. "Our girls are getting impatient to get to us."
And Unca Dace is right. Just three more pushes, where her arm tightens and relaxes around my small body, and Doctor Joan catches a messy bundle. This really is like a TV show, where there is blood and growling and danger.
A burst of thought energy attacks me and a shriek makes all the little teeny hairs on my body stand up and tickle. It's her! Well, one of them anyway. Reaching out to where the grown-ups are fussing over the baby, I wait as Unca Dace tenses up again.
"One more," Aunt Catherine chuckles, and Unca Dace growls something naughty at her that makes me giggle. "Come on, Big Cat."
I can't stop myself from giggling more, even as there's another contraction. That's what Doctor Joan calls them. Then Mama is suddenly right next to me, and I see the little baby in her arms, sniffling and grumbling.
"Would you like to meet the first of your Sentinels?"
I hardly hear her, as bright blue eyes open and I see Katie, 'cause I just know it's her, for the first time. "Oh Mama, she is so beautiful."
Unca Dace hisses and gasps one last time, and Sandy's squall is even more shrieky than her sister's. Yay! They are both here and now I can get to know them the right way. I meet Katie first, but it's Sandy that I touch first, my fingertips on her soft head even as Doctor Joan is cleaning her off. She is all goopy, but I don't care, and I pet her round head until Doctor Joan wipes off her squinchy face and the matching blue eyes to her sister open slowly.
Pretty soon, the twins are resting on their mommy's chest, eating happily, and Aunt Catherine and Sara are feeding Jimmy with a bottle. My Mama has let me stay close, touching the little bodies of my Sentinels, feeling the vibration of their energy up close finally, not part hidden by Unca Dace's body. And the big kitty strokes my head as much as she strokes the new kittens as she purrs softly to make us feel good.
Very soon, I am too tired to stay awake and must sleep. But Mama gives me a hug and promises that I can stay with the new babies for as long as I can. Even if Maman doesn't always want to understand, she does, and lets me stay, kissing my head.
I am complete.
++ Dace ++
It's a vivid dream firing along my nervous system from the grey matter out. A familiar verdant landscape tinged with green like a filmmaker's camera filter. Slinking among the scrubby evergreens and their towering cousins, keeping to the flimsy undergrowth to provide me with cover, I slink through the twilight between day and night. But it's not the urge to hunt that drives me tonight, but an even deeper need than hunger.
Deep in a ragged cliff face of tumbled boulders and trunks and roots of trees, hides a cave. Furtively casting my senses about, I sense no foreign presences and slink my sinuous way through a chink in the wood and stones.
Deep in the warm, dark interior of the hidden cave lay my cubs. Indistinct little masses of fluff and need, they mewl almost soundlessly and scuffle ineffectually at the dirt. Each smells distinct and healthy and they reach for me as best they are able. Two girls, so similar that even I have trouble telling them apart, and their runty brother, whom I clean roughly while his sisters feed.
My content purr is echoed in the kitten's small noises of peacefulness.
Jerking awake, I'm startled by Catherine hovering beside me and startle her in turn. "Hey, hey, it's just me, Dace."
Disoriented by the dream, I pause and take stock, my two realities blurring together at the edges. Slowly, the cave and the smells and the sensations of fur and a tail fade, but not the pull of my girl cubs at my body. Startled again, I stare down at their tiny bodies pressed to my torso, feeding peacefully. Rose blinks sleepily at me where she's been curled up at my hip and I can see the boy stirring in Catherine's arms.
"Must have been some dream," Catherine smiles and I can see the coyote in her. Without a word, she responds to some need I can't seem to articulate and stands to lean over me. He's a beautiful child, blinking open squinty eyes to regard me soberly.
"Hey Jimmy," I whisper and breathe a purr over his tiny face. Catherine settles him on my upper chest so that his sisters can keep chewing at me. "Nice to finally meet you, buddy." His little fist settles on my chin and I grin, delighted when he yawns expressively.
"How do you feel?" My mate asks me softly and rests a gentle hand on my solar plexus.
"Surprisingly decent, actually," I marvel and touch Jimmy's face just because I can. To my sweet delight, he's drifting off with his ear right over my heart. "I guess they really are like kittens in that they can sleep anywhere."
"Can I come in?" Sara asks softly from the doorway and I smile lovingly at her.
"Of course, Sar. Aren't they gorgeous?"
"I have no words," she agrees, her sappy expression warming me as much as her presence. As the girls tire, first Sara then Catherine scoop up the tiny bodies so that I can snuffle them over. Subconsciously, I registered their smells as they were birthed and cleaned up, but making a ritual of this soothes the animal part of me. Once I've sniffed each of the twins over, she is tucked against my skull and neck so that I am surrounded by the babies I've carried for so long.
Awed and content and humbled, I bask here in this primitive place with my children. Tiny hearts beat, small lungs push and pull the air, fragile skin is warm and silky against mine. Rather than disturb my awe, Cath and Sara sit quietly, reaching out periodically to stroke me or the triplets, staving off any zone-outs.
Beneath the loving and watchful attention of my packmates and Rose's warm, comforting weight against my ribs, I once more drift into sleep.
++ Catherine ++
It took a surprisingly long time for Dace to relax into true sleep, but she's completely out now. Joan drafted Sara and I into getting the place cleaned up, ridding the room of the smell and sights of the birthing. Only then do I dare to carefully maneuver Sandy's tiny body away from her mother's skull to get cuddled.
Like any newborn animal, Sandy squirms and snuffles in both curiosity and alarm as her reality tilts around her. "Hey baby," I croon softly, cradling her close to my body. "It's nice to finally meet you." Hazy blue eyes squint up at me and she grasps the finger I tickle her palm with. Years ago, a lifetime it seems like, I held Lindsey like this, so tiny and helpless and sweet. She was larger than these minute creatures, recently packed in so tightly within Dace's body. I could easily cup most of Sandy's body in even my small hand.
In fact, I bet I can hold at least two of them if I'm really careful.
As though I'm handling volatile nitroglycerine, I gather up Katie as well, tucking them along my left arm and settling onto the comfy overstuffed chair beside the bed. Talking sweet nonsense to the infant girls, I cuddle them close together against the curves of my arm and breast, stroking their silky soft cheeks and downy heads.
"Aun'nie Cat'rin," Rose sleepily mauls my name and I grin at the sweet girl. Like a puppet with her strings cut, she slithers off the bed and wearily flops down onto my body, making me laugh softly. I'm completely buried now, with her toddler body draped over my torso, her ear over my heart and her face tickling at the babies. "Wanna be close."
"I know, baby," I croon and alternate my feather light strokes between her and the twins. After a couple minutes, I realize Rose hasn't fallen back to sleep, despite her limpness. "Do you remember their long names?"
Making a negative mumble, Rose shakes her head against my curves. "Will you tell me again?"
"Of course, sweet girl. Your Kitty wanted to make sure that the babies had special names that were theirs alone, but also to honor people special to her."
"You were named after your great-grandmother, right?"
"Yes, Mama tells me stories about Gramma Rose sometimes."
"I bet she was a neat person. So, Dace did not get along with her mom, but she used to work with a really wonderful lady back in San Francisco whose name is Kaitlyn."
"That is Katie's name," she says happily, unerringly reaching out a gentle hand to touch the correct twin.
"Got it in one, you smartie," I congratulate. "And her special middle name is Olivia, because your auntie is one of Kitty's best friends."
"My middle name is Marie," Rose says proudly and I smile.
"I don't have a middle name; not everyone does. And Sandy got her name from the boy Guide that you did not meet, but I did. Just like Jimmy got his name from the boy Sentinel."
Face squinched up in concentration, Rose's busy mind searches for information and she says tentatively, "an' Sandy's middle name is Kryn's real name, Karen."
"Absolutely right. See, I knew you could remember. With time we'll all remember better, right?"
Both of us Guides jump as Dace abruptly startles awake and we both reach out with our unearthly bonds to calm her. Jimmy jerks his frail little limbs and makes an alarmed squeak that has Dace's scarred hand immediately cradling him even as she sits up with a growl.
"Down girl," I demand with implacable authority, wondering when her instincts will settle. Probably not until the cubs are more autonomous, unfortunately.
The growl dies down at my fierce, dominant glare and Dace relaxes minutely, glowering about the room to ensure the safety of her babes. With wise instinct, Rose remains perfectly still where she lies on me, the brown eyes watching the drama intently. Still grumbling, Dace rakes her free hand through her bedraggled hair and gingerly stands up. There's a flinch or two, after all she did just give birth, but she's up and steady from what I can see.
"I," she tries to speak, voice cracking like a teenage boy. "I seem to be having some trouble roping in some of my more base instincts."
Looking at how she desperately, but gently, clutches Jimmy's helpless little body to her chest, I nod empathetically. To my surprise, she actually jumps a bit when I manage to wiggle my arm out from under the girls to stroke her thigh. "Be patient, love. This is a big transition you're going through. We'll keep visitors to a bare minimum okay?"
Nodding jerkily, Dace starts to relax, cradling Jimmy instead of clutching him and reaching down to stroke Rose and the twins. "Sorry Boo," she whispers. "Being a mama cat is… weird."
The child dimples prettily and pets Dace's knuckles before snuggling down once more to sleep. She understands this big golden predator as well as I do and knows that there is nothing more to fear here.
Right on cue, Sara appears in the doorway. "We'll keep guard," the brunette says quietly and with absolute conviction, at last completely easing Dace's stress for now. With our pack complete, there is definitely nothing to fear.
++ Joan ++
This has been the strangest job of my life, bar none. What with people with magical powers like something out of a fantasy novel, this great and diverse clan of women and this endless desert. Grumbling softly, my Sandy snuggles more snugly into my much larger body and settles once more into sleep.
The blow to the head from the maddened Snake-Eyes fundamentally changed my lover, altering her in ways that we're still discovering. Damaged beyond complete recovery, she has good days and bad days. Though, this desert has helped enormously. There is so little stress here away from the chaos of city life and extreme weather, except for the heat of course, that Sandy has a remarkably normal life. Even better, there is plenty of things that she can do to stay occupied and not feel like an invalid. There are children to care for and Alexis who loves her company as long of both of them are having good days!
It's been nearly a month we've been here and we both feel very much at home. Could we make a permanent go of it here? Would they let us stay? Everyone seems to like us just fine and vice versa, but a live-in employee and a clan-mate are two very different things.
"I can hear you thinking," Sandy suddenly chuckles and startles me.
"Thought you were sleeping," I yawn and snuggle into her compact frame, hugging her close. It gets a rolling chuckle and the embrace returned as we lie there in the heat of the growing Vegas summer.
"Do you want to stay?" The question catches me completely off guard and I make some idiotic noise that makes Sandy crane her neck to look me in the face, her expression sober. "I like it here and so do you."
We talked more, which led to a cool shower and some hanky-panky and an excellent mood as I stride purposefully along my way around the Ranch's big loop of buildings. It's warm enough that everyone has been driven indoors or is part of the commotion I can hear over at the pool. But that is not my goal, but the large two-story building at the mouth of the complex.
These triplets have been a shock to my preconceptions of newborns. Honestly, I could write a paper and get awards, they are so different. For one, they are unusually well developed for triplets and were carried far longer than I would have ever believed. Oh, they're still tiny, after all there was only so much room in Dace's lanky body, but I have never seen children of a multiple birth so reactive. They are delightfully grabby and have their eyes open frequently, react to most sounds and in general are uncannily aware of the world around them even with their limited newborn senses.
"Good morning everyone," I announce to the building at large as I enter after tapping on the door. Sara is all smiles, Dace more of a combination of pleased and irritated with me, the usual state of affairs since the birth. She doesn't like my rules, but she obeys because I'm the expert after all.
"Hi Joan," Sara greets me and gestures in my general direction with a carafe. "Coffee?"
++ Sara ++
The towering doctor is in high spirits today, her step jaunty and her face animated. It's making Dace pissy, to the great amusement of everyone else in the room.
"Thanks Sara," Joan grins happily at me when I hand over a mug, prepared just the way she likes it. I've had a ton of practice over the last month. "Take me to your kittens, Big Cat."
Caught up as always in the dynamics of my unusual family, I follow quietly into the master bedroom to observe. Catherine is still asleep, though she stirs at the presence of our three bodies in the room. Her blue eyes flicker open to observe, but her body remains languid in the sheets. So I mince over to join her as Joan leans over the padded round pen that acts as the triplet's bassinet.
"Come on, miracle kittens," Joan greets them softly and one of them makes an animal sound in response. "Time to see the doctor."
It's Katie, her jumper trimmed in yellow for easy identification to anyone but her mother, who can smell them apart, and of course, Rose. Cradling the infant on her forearm, Joan walks to the window to get a good look, talking nonsense and smiling at Katie's kittenish sounds. Dace hovers anxiously; I can almost see her tail lashing in the still air, but she remains still and quiet. Too many presences agitate her easily and Catherine has already had to turn away any and all visitors, including the very disappointed Colorado clan.
Katie's snuffling squeal makes Dace tense further, frail little arms waving aimlessly in the sun through the mini blinds. "Oh hush, you dramatic thing," Joan chortles and strides over to the bed to place Katie reverently aside Catherine's body for comfort. Jimmy's next and he is characteristically more placid than his active sisters. After the cursory visual exam, I get to hold him as Sandy's turn comes up.
It's amusing and sweet and alarming to watch Dace fight her instincts as Sandy cries pitifully in the blazing shafts of sunshine that disturb her. Joan only smiles and tenderly shushes the baby, telling her that she's being silly. With a blunt fingernail to suck on, Sandy quiets, but is even happier to be handed to mom for breakfast.
There's a big scoop of a chair, woven from bamboo, that Dace calls a papa-san. I think it looks like a giant wok lined with a squishy cushion. This is her nest to feed the ravenous trio and where she now curls up with Sandy. Katie snuffles and makes Catherine laugh softly by making that sound that is almost a growl. "Bossy thing," she compliments, tickling the soft little belly and making Katie squirm. "You'll eat next. How's the boy?"
"Peaceful," I answer truthfully, enraptured by his hazy blue gaze only just visible between feathery near-white eyelashes. When my trailing hair tickles his hand, the tiny fist is strong, stronger than I can believe for such a tiny, helpless creature. Still clinging to my errant lock, he gets that fist near enough to his mouth to suck at it, charming me with the primitive gesture. He reacts with confusion to the tuft of hair, flailing and making that near-growl that Katie has already mastered. But he quickly calms at my caress to his small torso.
I like these new additions to the pack. Oh sure, they're disruptive and chaotic, but they speak to something so visceral in each of us.
For they are our future.