Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Chapter 25: Observations

When Kelly finally moved toward the door, she was rewarded with Tigger’s vibrant purring. Kelly was barely inside the door, in fact, when Tigger surprised even her with a magnificent leap of almost ten feet, from Kelly’s shoulder to land squarely on Clark’s chest.

Shocked out of his internal litany, Clark stared down at the tiny cat in amazement as it began to paw at his chest, sometimes digging into the skin making him wince as it rumpled his hospital gown.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Kelly was almost abashed by Tigger’s surprising jump, but decided that the cat had correctly diagnosed the young man’s need to be jolted back to reality. He certainly seemed more responsive than when she had washed him earlier.

“She has never done that before,” Kelly assured him before starting into her and Tigger’s well practiced routine of hide and seek that sent the tiny cat up and down Clark’s blanket covered legs until she finally evaded Kelly by darting up his shoulder to perch by his cheek, purring loudly as the cat rubbed her face against him.

Clark, of course, tried to reach up and help Kelly catch the fugitive, but while the cat wrapped itself around and around his hands—petting him, she easily evaded his gentle attempts to corral her. When Kelly finally felt there had been enough of a show to distract Clark from whatever maudlin thoughts had kept him up, she shrugged and said, to the still speechless Clark, “leave it be. Tigger seems to have a mind of her own tonight, and until she’s decides to change it… well, there’s no swaying her.”

As if the matter was decided, Tigger clambered down his shoulder, sat on his chest, and bumped her face up into his chin. Reaching up to stroke the tiny cat, with a bemused look on his face, Clark finally found his voice.

“Is that really a cat? I’ve never seen quite like it.” He said, studying Tigger curiously as she climbed further up on his chest to rub her cheek against his.”

“She sure is.”

Mesmerized by the quirky little cat, Clark carefully slipped his hands under her stomach and picked her up to inspect her. He stroked her carefully, occasionally rubbing her fur against the grain to peek at her soft grey undercoat.

Looking up at Kelly as he spoke, Clark murmured, “She’s amazing. She can’t weigh three pounds: she’s so tiny, but I’m sure she has the muscle structure of a full grown cat. And, I’m almost certain that she has at least six different shades of grey in her undercoat from a downy-grey to a charcoal. Then, there’s her orange spot’s… they aren’t really quite orange, more like a rust… but they look almost like leopard spots. And, her tail, it almost looks like a squirrel’s tail. Is she a mixed breed?”

Kelly shook her head at his enthusiasm and farm bred eye for detail as well Tigger’s preening beneath his inspection. In response, she answered, “Yes and no…” hoping to pique his curiosity further, “She’s pure to her species, but she’s not a cat breed.”

“She isn’t a cat; but I thought you said… I don’t understand?” Clark questioned with a diffident embarrassed smile.

“Only to the same extent as a lion or a lynx… she’s simply another variety of an undomesticated/wild cat.” Kelly answered with amusement.

“In Smallville? I’ve never heard or seen a cat like this around here?”

Intensely pleased with how deftly Tigger had distracted the young man, Kelly began to tell him how the little cat’s mother had made it all the way from Kashmir, India by hiding and switching places among her father’s bags and how her father had finally given in to the little cat who had managed to make itself scarce through each and every checkpoint, bag check, and custom’s inspection only to show up the next time her father had any food to share. As she finished the tale, as if on cue, Tigger emulated her mother’s hide and seek antics- scrambling down Clark’s arm and disappearing behind him.

“Where did she go?” he asked, both startled and bemused by her quick disappearance.

Putting her fingers to her lips in a ‘shh’ gesture, Kelly reached over to the cookies, snapped one in half and handed it to him, asking “Would you mind? I’m allergic to her favorites.”

Clark hesitated a second then shrugged and took a loud, crunchy bite of the cookie. Immediately, Tigger’s head popped up from under the covers between his feet, quickly snaked her way up to pop out right by his hip, and ran up his chest to sniff his mouth. Kelly handed him the other half of the cookie to give to Tigger and asked if he would mind watching the little cat while she went out and caught up with her friend.

Clark’s quick acceptance, as he started to feed Tigger, satisfied Kelly that his diversion would be well taken care of in her absence. So, after nodding to Tigger, she thanked Clark and left.

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