By the Anchorite
Twitch saw the imposing figure of the Warrior Cat’s human form, powerfully built with close-cut tawny hair at severe angles. The Warrior Cat did not look at intimidating as usual because he held a young girl by the hand. She had blonde hair with a more golden, lustrous hue than her chaperone. In the hand not buried inside the Warrior Cat’s massive own, she held an ice cream cone that she delightedly ate.
Twitch and Ting Ting approached the Warrior Cat to greet him. Since he spent much of his time out on the field, they did not see him too often at the office. Ting Ting curtsied and smiled at the young girl.
“What a delightful young lady. My name is Ting Ting. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Ting Ting and Twitch.” The warrior cat addressed them. “This is Stacey.” The young girl beamed at them and continued eating her ice cream.
“She’s a little cutie.” said Twitch. “Is she your daughter?”
“No Twitch, she’s my human.”
Twitch immediately clamped his mouth shut in a vain attempt to not burst out laughing, but he could not hold back the flood of chuckles.
“Oh man, this is priceless. The big bad Warrior Cat has a little child as his human.” Twitch could barely complete his sentence through the laughter.
“I’m not a child. I’m eleven!”
Ting Ting nudged her elbow into Twitch’s ribs.
“Stop that Twitch, it’s not polite.”
“I can’t help myself, babe. The almighty Warrior Cat is a young girl’s little kitten.”
The Warrior Cat rolled his eyes and visibly restrained his ultra-violent instincts.
“See Twitch, this is why I don’t tell you anything.”
Stacey frowned at seeing Twitch laugh at her cat’s expense, so she casually strode over to Twitch and kicked him hard in the shins. She then ran back to the Warrior Cat, clutching his leg with one hand while he wrapped a protective arm around her shoulder. Stacey stuck her tongue out at Twitch and then continued eating her ice cream.
“Ow! It’s on now, shortie.”
Ting Ting quickly grabbed Twitch’s elbow and chided him.
“Stop it, she’s only a child.”
“I’m a pre-teen! I’m going to middle school next year!”
“That little brat attacked me, Ting. I’m not letting that go."
He faced Stacey who stuck out her tongue at him again.
"I take back what I said about calling you a cutie, you hear?”
The Warrior Cat addressed Twitch with a bemused expression.
“I wouldn’t recommend that, house cat. I taught Stacey how to use a switchblade and a garrote like a professional. Quit while you’re ahead or she just might carve and truss you up like a turkey.”
Stacey’s gap-toothed grin showed pride in her cat’s words.
“Do you have this under control, B?”
A rumbling bass voice interrupted the scene. Twitch and Ting Ting turned around to see a group of four tough-looking men walk in. By their bearing, Twitch could tell that they were cats in human form. Stacey’s words confirmed his observation.
“Yay, it’s my favorite kitties!”
The speaker was a large black man with a hulking frame that towered over even the Warrior Cat and midnight skin darker than Twitch’s. The Warrior cat spoke.
“Ting Ting, Twitch. I’d like to introduce the cats I grew up with, my best friends since we were kittens. This handsome fellow is Licorice and I suggest that you don’t laugh this time, Twitch.”
The Warrior Cat continued the introductions. He gestured towards a man as large as the Warrior Cat with curly red hair tied into a pony tail wearing a tailored suit with a dress shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest.
“This is Peaches.” The redheaded man nodded. The Warrior Cat next gestured at a heavily tattooed man with a shock of blond hair flying in several directions. “This fine gentleman is Fluffy.” Warrior Cat then motioned towards a diminutive man of a height with Ting Ting, wearing thick glasses with a stylish horn-rimmed frame. “Last but not least is Pipsqueak, the smartest cat I know.” I could take him, thought Twitch.
Twitch saw that Pipsqueak held a silver tray with several glasses. The glasses held a smoking, volatile looking liquid as viscous as used motor oil and a smell as caustic as industrial solvent. In the middle of the array of glasses sat a child’s sippy cup. The fumes from the glasses made Twitch’s eyes water and Ting Ting looked like she fought against vomiting. Licorice said in a booming voice,
“It’s not for the faint of heart, sweetie.”
The Warrior Cat spoke to Twitch.
“You’re just in time to witness our grand tradition. What you see before you is Big Cat Brew, a secret recipe taught to us by our mentors. When we get together we brew a batch in honor of our Big Cat mentors. They were the fathers we never had growing up, who taught us what it meant to be an alpha male cat rather than some coddled domestic pansy – no offense, Twitch. We gained the full acceptance of the Big Cats when we downed the Big Cat Brew and proved that we could handle it. In their memory, we have the tradition to drink until none of us are left standing.”
Twitch noted that the four other cats solemnly bowed their heads while the Warrior Cat spoke. Ting Ting held a handkerchief over her nose, but she still appreciated the genuine respect and affection behind the story. That, thought Twitch, or these fumes are also burning her eyes out of their sockets.
“I see that Pip was kind enough to bring an extra glass. Ting Ting, you are excused, but Twitch if you’re cat enough to be one of us there’s a glass of Big Cat Brew waiting for you. Bottoms up, big boy.”
Warrior Cat deftly plucked the sippy cup from the tray and handed it to Stacey, who had just finished her ice cream cone.
“For you, my precious human, the bar made a special Big Cat Brew Lite that has all the caustic ingredients of the regular drink, but without alcohol. You’re one of us so drink up!”
“Yay!” Stacey chugged the entire sippy cup in one gulp, much to the amazement of the gathered cats.
“Look at that Twitch, she drank it all with a big smile on her face. You’re not going to let a little child outdo you, are you?”
“Give me that!” Twitch took a glass from the tray, held his breath, and took a sip.
“Oh my god, it burns! It burns!”
Twitch felt the room spin around him as the laughter of the five cats distorted around him, punctuated by Stacey’s high-pitched “hees!” and Ting Ting repeatedly muttering “oh dear” like a mantra. The sounds blended together into a hazy fog, which was the last thing he felt before he blacked out.
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