DISCLAIMER: My story, my characters, no disclaimer needed. A holiday-inspired little tale.
SERIES: Fourth in the desserts series following Chocolate, Vanilla and Ice Cream.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson

It was dark, and she was on the prowl.

She was She-who-laughs-as-she-hides-socks-and-has-very-sharp-claws in her own tongue, but her silly feeder/tummy scratcher/heater/toy provider/bed-humans insisted on calling her Ginger.

She-who-laughs snorted.

Of course, she _was_ a rather dashing ginger-striped specimen, rather tall for a female.... tall, but not fat! No, not fat... she just had big bones! Big bones and thick fur... plus that was just a whole lot of muscles, and nobody had better suggest otherwise, or else.

Anyway, what did humans know? They were rather simple creatures after all, happy as long as She-who-laughs paid them a little attention once in a while and let them pet her pretty fur upon occasion. They were great food and snack providers though, though She-who-laughs could not figure out how they could even hope to hunt something. Ah well, they provided food for her and kept her warm when she wanted them to, that was the important thing.

Originally She-who-laughs had just the one human in her care... but she was sad a lot, and needed a lot of attention from She-who-laughs. So She-who-laughs gave this other human her approval and decided she would take her in as well, because then they would be happy with one another and not demand quite so much time from She-who-laughs. It had the benefit of them getting a bigger den for the pack as well, which She-who-laughs fully approved of, even if it took her a distance away from her usual hunting grounds. Well, it didn't matter, She-who-laughs could easily go there too, plus this new area held quite a bit of interest for her.

New areas to explore, new males to beat and intimidate – she just wouldn't put up with the presence of a male, and quite enjoyed beating them until they all knew to fear and avoid her – new dogs to make fun of, new game to hunt down... yes, She-who-laughs would like it here.

And right now she was out doing just these things. Yes it was cold and wet under her paws, which She-who-laughs didn't like, but she needed to get out and inspect her new turf, to remind everyone that it was hers. Then she could go back to the den and curl up on her humans and force them to pet her, with a sense of satisfaction at the knowledge that she ruled.

It had also been a couple of slow days and She-who-laughs was itching for a good fight. With that in mind, She-who-laughs was on the prowl for a male to beat up on.

Unfortunately, most males in the area knew to stay away from her by now, so it was proving to be difficult to chase one down... and it was just beneath her dignity to scrap it out with a lowly dog. That was when a new scent and a curious noise wafted her way on the cold winter air.

Hmm... the scent of males. Several of them, and those funny boxes where humans threw tasty-smelling bits of food, too. And the scent of a frightened female.

She-who-laughs grinned in anticipation. Here was a fight just waiting for her!

She dashed around the bend, and there they were, three yowling males climbing on those box thingies to get to one small black female who was hissing for all her worth. She-who-laughs did just that and then threw herself at the nearest male, sharp claws at the ready.

It turned out to be a rather disappointing fight, as the male screamed and ran off after She-who-laughs had bit the tip of his ear off, and when the dust cleared it became obvious that so had the other two males. The only one left was the little black female on top of the rickety thing, and she was just to scrawny to fight.

She-who-laughs gave the stranger a warning glance, then set out to go see if she could find those males again for some more fighting. But the little black female jumped down next to She-who-laughs and made as if to go with her.

She-who-laughs scowled. The newcomer was tiny, with big ears and a long tail, and looked at She-who-laughs with huge eyes. Who was this kitten, anyway?

She-who-laughs ran off, intending to go hunting instead, but the stranger followed her, meowing softly. Confused, She-who-laughs stopped to face the stranger, but then the little black female came up to her and nuzzled her head.

She-who-laughs stood perfectly frozen as the little black female cleaned her fur and stroked up against her, purring affectionately all the while. She-who-laughs wasn't entirely sure what to do, but after a while the persistent affection of the other female, she shyly began to clean her fur in return.

A long time later She-who-laughs stood, staring unblinkingly into the eyes of her humans while explaining things to them quite patiently.

'...she has no den of her own, so now I have taken her into our pack and she will live in this den with us. She will help me look after you two, so now you have another to take care and watch over you. Make certain you provide food for us both, now. And milk. And a smelly sock.'

She-who-laughs' second human was petting She-who-is-very-small-and-has-very-very-soft-fur and making strange noises, but both cats were taking that in stride. When the human grew tired of petting and stood, talking to She-who-laughs' first human, She-who-laughs walked over to affectionately, if a bit shyly still, clean her new mate.

"Oh honey, did you see that? Ginger thinks this little one is her kitten." The second human crooned, earning a wince and an evil glare from She-who-laughs. "What should we call her?"

She-who-is-very-small-and-has-very-very-soft-fur politely told the humans her name, again, but to no avail.

"Hmm... she's all black except for those tiny white socks on her front paws... how about Socks?"

She-who-laughs nuzzled She-who-is-very-small-and-has-very-very-soft-fur a little and comforted her. 'Humans are good providers, but they're not very smart... they don't understand anything.'

And with a last, insulted look over her shoulder, She-who-laughs ushered her new friend on into the den to show her the best sleeping places.

The End

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