A Break of Routine
Had a random bout of inspiration, so now you get a little Bustopher fic. I tried to write everyone as in character (and British) as possible, but I’m not so sure if I succeded. Well. I hope you enjoy and all my love to all who read/like/reblog! ♥
Leaving an empty plate and the backdoor of Blimp’s behind, Bustopher Jones already knew that this particular Saturday wasn’t going to continue on in its tidy fashion as it normally would.
He usually didn’t allow a break from his routine, but his whiskers spread out and his ears twitched with the uncanny kind of knowledge that came from instincts that it was necessary just this one time.
And really, Bustopher was nothing if a creature of habit, but a little excitement now and then suited him just fine.
It was good to stay on one’s toes and always keep one eye open for new opportunities, after all.
No sooner had he turned the corner on his way to The Glutton that the cause of his foreboding feeling presented itself.
A kitten was cowering beneath a postbox, trembling and sniffling miserably.
Bustopher stooped down a little to see if he’d recognize the fur pattern, resulting in the poor thing squealing in fear and leaping into the gutter with a small splash.
Worried that the kitten would run into the street and get hit by a car or some youngster on a tricycle, Bustopher waddled to the edge of the pavement and sat down on his haunches, trying to look as unthreatening as possible (which was easy and hard at the same time – he had just too much girth to not look like a towering giant, but when he sat down he looked like someone had put a pair of pointy ears and a tail onto a very fluffy football). Now that he was leaning closer to the kitten, he thought to make out black and pale orange fur, striped hind legs, two black paws on the left side and two white paws on the right. He had to squint a little to detect said white, since it had rained the night before and the gutter was still not much more than a glorified muddy puddle.
“Do come out of the puddle, will you?” Bustopher suggested. As soon as he had spoken the first word, he saw recognition sparking in the kitten’s eyes. Splendid. There went one problem, now if only he would recognize her face… darn his severe short-sightedness.
With a few wet shlorps the kitten climbed back onto the pavement, tail hanging limp and tiny body still shivering like a leaf.
To Bustopher’s surprise, she did not need him to prompt her into saying anything. “Good evening, Mr. Bustopher Jones,” she said, ducking her head shyly and pressing her cheek to her right shoulder. The composed greeting was ruined by the way her lower lip protruded and her breath hitched at every other inhale.
“Good evening,” Bustopher answered. “I believe we have met before…?” It was a stab in the dark, but to his immense relief the kitten nodded.
“Would you be so kind to tell me your name again? I come around a lot, I meet a lot of cats everyday, you know. It is a lot to remember.”
The kitten rubbed her nose on her shoulder. “Electra,” she murmured.
“Electra? What a fine name that is.”
That seemed to please her; her tail wrapped around her paws instead of hanging limply over the edge of the pavement. “Thank you,” she said shyly, staring at his spats.
“Now,” Bustopher began carefully, “how did it come to be that you are here all on your own? Did you lose your way?”
With that, her brave composure fell away and Electra burst into tears.
“I didn- didn’t mean to! I just wanted to smell the flowers and Pounci pushed me and I fell off the coun- counter and the stupid big human took a broom and scared him and Plato away and- and-”
The rest of her words trailed of into a wail, and Bustopher didn’t quite know what to do to calm her, so he opened his arms.
Little Electra surged into his embrace. “There, there,” Bustopher said and patted her head, a little clueless about how to comfort her.
He sighed internally as she dripped mud onto his beautiful white spats, but holding her an arm’s length away wouldn’t help matters right now.
After patting her head for a few minutes, the poor little thing began to purr in an attempt to self-soothe, and Bustopher could have slapped himself for not coming up with that sooner. He joined in and gave his best. His body had enough mass that the resonation of his purr shook the kitten as if she was hugging a spinning washing machine.
(To the untrained human ear, his purr sounded not unlike an opera tenor humming to himself, while the kitten’s purr seemed to imitate the chirp of a cricket.)
“I’m better now,” Electra hiccuped after a while, trying to wipe at her eyes and nose with little muddy paws. Bustopher hastily groomed her face before she could smear more dirt into her fur, making her duck her head once more, her high-pitched purr starting up again.
“Very well,” Bustopher said, surveying his work and patting her head one last time. “I assume I am to escort you back home?”
“Oh, I can find my way back… somehow.”
Bustopher shook his head firmly. “That won’t do. I will accompany you, and I won’t hear anything else about it.”
Electra didn’t seem to be very opposed to that. She smiled, trilled and rubbed her newly cleaned face on his leg, creating a new stripe of half-dried mud on both his shiny black fur and on the side of her face. Bustopher sighed.
“Do you eat all day?”
They had made their way past St. James’s Square, stopping here and there to be hand-fed and petted by immaculately dressed humans who cooed over Bustopher’s new companion. One, who was a waiter at Fox’s, even called the chef from the nearest phone box to tell him that “their” cat was a father now. Bustopher liked the chef very much, he always knew just how much pepper to put into the stew, so he left the waiter’s misconception uncommented.
“Indeed,” Bustopher answered Electra with a healthy amount of pride in his voice, giving her a boost to jump up onto a low wall. “I have put a lot of thought into where I go next so the humans don’t notice me going to rivalling clubs on the regular. I am certain that they would be very scandalized indeed if they knew,” he explained smugly.
Electra looked very impressed. “That’s almost as clever as Mister Mistoffelees!” she exclaimed.
Bustopher pricked up his ears. “Oh?”
“Yeah, remember when he- oh, you weren’t there for that.” Electra bounced a little in excitement. “He- he conjured up Old Deuteronomy, because he was gone, you see, and then he was underneath the red sheet!”
“He was gone…?”
“Yes, because of Macavity,” Electra continued cheerfully, and Bustopher stumbled and almost rolled off the wall.
When Macavity’s name been screamed out shortly after Bustopher’s song at the latest Jellicle Ball, Bustopher had made himself sparse as quickly as possible.
He liked to think that he didn’t want to burden the tribe with him being quite useless at fighting other than sitting on his opponents, but the truth was that he was a little chicken-hearted when it came to Macavity and similar riff-raff, even if it pained him to admit it.
“Macavity took Old Deuteronomy?” Poor old lad. That couldn’t have done his old joints any good.
“Yes, but then Tugger sang Mister Mistoffelees’ song and Mister Mistoffelees brought him back. It was really easy, he said.” Electra’s lower lip protruded in thought. “I don’t think it’s easy. Cleaning the den is really hard, and at least I can see where I put my toys so I can take them back where they belong.”
Bustopher nodded and hummed, even though he was thoroughly confused. Mistoffelees? The very same Mistoffelees? Well, now that he thought about it, Munkustrap had said something about Mistoffelees moving objects without touching them and a trace of glitter following him when he was particularly excited. Maybe he should have listened more closely.
Deep, warm pride rose in Bustopher’s chest when Electra prattled on about how magical and mystical his tricks and how funny his pranks were, ranging from colouring the Rum Tum Tugger’s mane bright green to making poor Alonzo float at every third step.
“Well, I will have to give him my congratulations when I meet him,” Bustopher said, tail lifted high with pride.
There was something that Electra wanted to say, as her squirming and shy glances suggested. Bustopher’s whiskers twitched with amusement.
“Out with it. Never hold back from asking something. You never know who else you might do a favour.”
Electra ducked her head shyly and rubbed her cheek on his hind leg; it seemed to be a habit to reassure herself in that way.
“Why do you always leave so early? You never stay to dance, or for the Jellicle Choice. Don’t you miss it?” There was genuine concern in her voice, bless her little heart.
Bustopher took a moment to think. Well, why indeed? Perhaps he wasn’t strong enough to see all of them dancing so gaily, so free of worries and sorrows, with the certain knowledge that it would be the very last dance for one of them.
Maybe the unruly little row of toms that lined up to be inspected by him and the giggly heap of queens was enough for him to do a headcount, determine who was new and who wasn’t there anymore, then fool around a little with Jennyanydots and Skimbleshanks and leave until the next year, always the small fear lingering in his mind that there would be a new cat in the trio to sing his song next time, to replace the one that had left them for the Heaviside Layer.
Perhaps it was out of convenience. One couldn’t arrive in time for the last shift at the Tomb (and what a fitting name that was) if one was occupied with the Ball until the early morning hours.
Perhaps it was because – how had that American cat from The Drones Club put it again – he was a bit of a “cement mixer”.
He had more than enough reasons to not stay very long, in all honesty.
But as he looked down through his monocle at tiny Electra who glanced up at him through her lashes, ears flattened to her scull with uncertainty, he suddenly didn’t deem them very meaningful anymore.
“Perhaps I shall stay longer next year,” Bustopher said finally, and Electra gave a tiny trill, ears perking up.
“Mistoffelees will be so happy. And Jenny, too! And Munkustrap- have you listened to one of his stories before? He’s great at story telling, he’s our Storyteller after all…”
The latest story was told to him in immaculate details by the very enthusiastic kitten at his side, and Bustopher couldn’t help but regret that he hadn’t seen The Awe-full Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles in person. It certainly sounded grandiose, and since Munkustrap had directed it, it must have been very orderly indeed, brimming with finesse and technique.
The long walk through London felt like it took them mere minutes, but time flies when a good story is told, and Electra thought the Rumpus Cat to be such a good story that she had to tell it three or four times. Bustopher didn’t mind, if the kitten was occupied he didn’t have to think of ways to entertain her or soothe her worries, and that suited him just fine. (It was a very entertaining story, as well. Munkustrap had outdone himself.)
No sooner had they reached the outskirts of the junkyard when a frazzled tom shot over the fence like a ginger bullet and hurried over to them, fur bristled with worry.
“Electra!” he called, his warm Scottish brogue tingling pleasantly in Bustopher’s ears.
“Where in the Everlasting Cat’s name have you been? We’ve been so worried! Oh, good evening, Bustopher.”
Bustopher chuckled and patted the offered forepaws. He did like Skimbleshanks very much. A little too serious sometimes, but he was so delightfully fussy.
Attracted by the noise, a second tom turned around the corner, and this one’s fussiness was second to none.
“Electra, thank Heaviside!” Asparagus Junior fretted, pulled her out of Skimble’s grasp and began to hectically groom the mud out of her kitten-soft coat.
“She got lost,” Bustopher explained, very amused at how windswept the two worry-warts looked.
“Very kind of you to bring her home,” Skimbleshanks sighed, relief rolling off him in waves, bristling fur finally flattening. He lifted a paw to scratch his chest, apparently forgetting that he was still wearing his trademark vest, and his claws got stuck. If cats could have blushed in embarrassment, Skimble would have done so as he tried to free his claws from the cotton wool as discreetly as possible.
“Oh, it was no issue at all,” Bustopher said lightly, mercifully looking away from Skimble’s fight with his vest and observing Asparagus, who had thoroughly checked Electra over and was now purring and grooming her ears, with her head rubbing up under his chin, eyes blissfully closed, finally completely at ease.
“Pouncival has been crying and making a fuss all evening, we better get you to Jenny’s den,” Asparagus told Electra after he had vigorously washed her behind her ears, Electra’s lip protruding again as she lifted a tiny paw to bat at Skimble’s twitching tail.
“Alright. Thank you, Mr. Bustopher Jones!” she said, giving a little curtsy and scampering away, pressing against Asparagus’ side. What a well-behaved little thing she was, Bustopher thought.
Skimbleshanks seemed to know what he was thinking and snorted. “Oh, don’t be fooled by her. She’s a dear, certainly, but she ramps it up for strangers all the more.”
For some reason, the word ‘stranger’ struck him deeply.
To hell with it. What kind of Jellicle cat was he if his own tribe members only saw him as a stranger?
“When will we be seeing you again?” Skimbleshanks asked kindly, obviously expecting him to leave for one of his clubs now that the cargo had been delivered.
“Oh, you know, I just might stay a while,” Bustopher answered, and as he said it, the uncanny kind of knowledge that came from instincts told him that it was the right decision to make.
Skimbleshanks blinked, and then he blinked again. “Pardon me?”
“Why yes, you old dandy. I have been told that the most delightful stories are being told on the daily around these parts, and how could I possibly miss them? You know I’d kill for a good story.”
The gentle smile on Skimbleshanks’ face made him think of younger, easier days. “I do know that. How wonderful! Mistoffelees will surely jump for joy. You just have to see what he pulled out of the hat the other day.”
“I am intrigued.” Bustopher gave Skimble a playful little shove, making the ginger tomcat laugh. “I cannot believe that you all survived so long without me bringing trustworthy advise on how to muck around with the humans. One would think the entire tribe is eating wind pudding!”
“We just might, Bustopher, we just might. Aren’t we lucky to have you?”
Oh, and what a good decision this would turn out to be, Bustopher was certain of that.
A little bit of vocabulary: a “cement mixer” is 1930′s American slang and basically is a synonym for a bad dancer XD And “eating wind pudding” is 1930′s London slang and means going without food! I just couldn’t help myself. Thank you for reading!
Each of the kittens has a favorite adult. Who are they? (Bonus: why)
Electra - Bombalurina
Electra loves Bomba very much, and vice versa. When Demeter and Bombalurina brought her, Plato and Jemima to the junkyard she was afraid of everyone and everything. Although Jenny and Skimble took charge of raising the new kittens, Electra often snuck out of the ‘Kitten Den’ to join Bomba and Demeter at theirs due to them being more familiar. Bombalurina became a sister/mother figure to Electra, and gave her a better sense of confidence. Although Electra is much less afraid of the other junkyard denizens she will still occasionally sleep in the other den with her ‘Auntie Bomba’.
Etcetera - Gus
Although Gus resolutely affirms he has no favorite grandchild, it is very common for him to spend a large amount of company with Cettie when he’s not with Jellylorum. Ever since kittenhood Etcetera has followed after her grandfather with stars in her eyes and would pay rapt attention to his stories. Eventually Gus, while still somewhat aware of himself and not suffering from the affects of old age, taught Cettie all his tricks with acting, and encouraged her to visit his theatre whenever he was busy. Some time later after Gus’s death, with extensive study, Etcetera eventually took on the character Firefrorefiddle to honor his memory. She makes a very good fiend of the fell.
Jemima - Skimbleshanks
Every time Skimble comes back around to the junkyard, you can bet Jemima’s among the first to greet him. Skimble’s first priority of returning to the junkyard is to reunite with his son and daughters, and Jemima is always the most enthusiastic. When Jemima was first taken in by Skimbleshanks and Jenny, she was dazzled by Skimble’s train adventures(made even worse by Rumpleteazer’s enthusiastic embellishing of her father’s train duties), and Skimble was immediately smitten with the sweet kitten unburdened by life’s woes. When she becomes old enough, Jemima joins Skimble on the night train with a little waistcoat of her own.
Victoria - Munkustrap
Believe it or not, Vic loves Munk a lot(in a sisterly way). It isn’t obvious to most due to Victoria’s reserved manner, but when she isn’t around Misto, Plato, or the other kittens, Munk tends to be her go-to comfort person because of his unobtrusive and gentle nature. Although Munkustrap tends to have a father-like demeanor with all of the kittens, he definitely has some fondness for Vic and has become the ‘protective big brother’ type(with some help from Alonzo and Misto naturally). When Vic and Plato eventually spent more and more time together it made him very happy, both because his little sister was happy as well as his Protector in Training.
Plato - Demeter
Essentially his surrogate mama/aunt. He was old enough to recall most of what went on with Macavity’s tribe, and his bio mother was long gone at this point. Largely ignored and mistreated, Plato eventually found some semblance of kindness from Bombalurina and Demeter, and Demeter eventually took on the job of protecting Plato along with Macavity’s other kittens. They became thick as thieves after that, with Plato being the gentle giant with a very short but loving mama. When they dance at the ball, it’s sort of the equivalent of a mother-son dance at a wedding.
Tumblebrutus - Asparagus Jr
What can I say, he loves his old man. Ever since he was little, Tumble was under the impression Asparagus was the greatest cat ever made. He was smart, careful, kind and clever, and always played with Tumble whenever he asked. When Tumblebrutus got older and the rose tinted glasses on every child for their parents started to come off and he realized Asparagus was a cat just like him, his affection grew instead of waned. Although they differed in Tumblebrutus flipping and dancing instead of Asparagus’s preferred singing, Asparagus still loves his son and his hobbies very much, and still takes him on walks to find fish in the river.
Pouncival - Jennyanydots and Jellylorum
Okay I know it said ADULT and not ADULTS but honestly, Pouncival is such a mama’s boy for Jenny and Jelly equally. He was basically the epitome of the kid who would go “Hey ma, watch this!” And do something rather stupid, so Jenny and Jelly had to start keeping a closer eye on him so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Naturally they are very fond of the kiddo, and he always puffs up his chest when Jellylorum tells him his new haircut makes him look so handsome or when Jennyanydots tells him his tap dancing is getting very good.