I have a good friend of mine to credit for this fic. There's clearly not enough Alonzo/Munkustrap or Mungojerrie/Rumpleteazer stuff around, so here's my contribution. Hope you enjoy this... whatever it is!

A certain black and white Jellicle cat slunk his way through the alley, stepping around puddles and gliding through the shadows with the grace he was well known for. Normally he would have stayed inside on such a gloomy day but Alonzo was on a mission. With ease he navigated his way around a large pile of trash bags and climbed up onto the roof of a nearby home, taking a moment to collect himself before pressing on.

In just two days Munkustrap would be home after spending a week away discussing the upcoming Jellicle Ball with Old Deuteronomy. The silver tabby's absence was slowly driving Alonzo up the wall but he knew he could hold on until then. Sure, the nights were lonely and it was impossible to sleep now that he had grown accustomed to having his mate sleeping by his side, but it wasn't anything Alonzo couldn't handle. When had he last gotten a good night's sleep? He could catch up on sleep once Munk was back. No problem. Sleep was overrated anyways.

There it was. Growing from the vines that curled around the gutters was his prize. A small smattering of flowers, the same rich, tranquil green as a jade stone, were blooming just out of reach. It had taken him forever to find this particular type of flower but the search was worth it. Now it was just a matter of walking along the gutter and picking one.

Alonzo confidently strutted along the edge of the roof. He was one of the most balanced cats in the tribe, both figuratively and literally. It took a lot to knock him off his feet.

Sure, the roof was a little more slanted than he was used to.

Sure, the gutter he was walking on was a little more rusty and brittle than he would have liked.

And sure, the flower was growing at an awkward angle that would require him to perhaps reach a little further than he would like. But this was important and there was no time to lose.

Unfortunately the gutter he stepped on did not understand the importance of the situation. The rusty metal snapped under his weight, and he was falling into the air.

The ground rushed up to him. Everything blossomed into pain. The world went dark.

Time passed. Hazily the world came back to him. What happened?

A warm, comforting presence was huddled against his back. Right. He was back home. Munkustrap was with him. Nothing was wrong. Alonzo smiled, nestling backwards against his mate and letting out a pleased trill.

"Well hey, Lonz, good to see you're back in the wakin' world. Gave me a bit of a fright there." Someone said in his ear, someone who was decidedly not Munkustrap.

Alonzo hissed, trying to scramble away from his foreign cuddle partner. Every part of him exploded in pain, traveling straight from his toes to his ears, particularly on his left side.

"Hold on, big guy, stay down, stay down. Don't go gettin' up and about just yet." A pair of paws gently yet firmly pushed him back down. "You've had a bit of a fall."

The voice was familiar. If everything wasn't spinning so much Alonzo was sure he would be able to figure it out. It was a male voice, that he knew. And whoever it was had curled up next to him while he slept, keeping him warm and feeling secure. It was rather nice. And he thought he could make out… stripes?

"Munk?" Alonzo groaned, squinting in the darkness. The mystery cat laughed.

"I'm not your knight in shinin' armor, I'm afraid. Although I don't mind bein' mistaken for Munk. He's a handsome fella."

There was a shuffling, the comforting presence left his side, and suddenly a small amount of light illuminated the area, flooding directly into his face. Even though it was barely brighter than before Alonzo still flinched and shut his eyes.

"Sorry, sorry, here." The cat shuffled around again and the light dimmed to an acceptable level.

Alonzo cracked an eye open. The unmistakable figure of Mungojerrie grinned by his feet. They were sitting inside a slightly damp cardboard box that was barely big enough to fit them both. Well, Jerrie was sitting. Alonzo had been unceremoniously shoved in the corner, squashed up on his side against the cardboard.

"Where are we?" Alonzo asked, trying to move away from the damp wall that had replaced Jerrie's previous presence at his back. Every muscle in his body painfully protested against the movement.

"Easy, easy. Don't move around too much. Doesn't look like you broke anythin' but I wouldn't be surprised if you're bruised somethin' awful." Jerrie helped Alonzo shift into a more agreeable position, gently nuzzling the tom until the pain faded. "I'm no doctor but I'd say you were lucky that pile of trash was as high as it was when you fell in it. Otherwise we might not be havin' this conversation."

"Excuse me? Did you say 'pile of trash'?"

"Don't remember much, eh?" Jerrie grinned. "You fell off the roof and landed in the trash heap. Helluva fall but you had a cushy landin' in the garbage. Lucky for you I was around to fish you out."

Alonzo sniffed the air. There was a faint smell of rotten food and refuse hanging about, and there was no doubt it was emanating from himself. Great.

"Thanks for getting me out of there." Alonzo said, trying to regain his dignity. "Where are we now?"

"Just a small spot I found in the alley to keep us out of the weather." Jerrie said. "It's been rainin' pretty hard up until now."

That would explain why everything was slightly damp. Alonzo sighed. This was not how he had anticipated his day ending up.

"So what were you doin' all the way up there on the roof?" Jerrie asked curiously.

"Nothing." Alonzo said rather quickly.

"Uh huh. And I'm sure that same nothing was worth you almost fallin' to your death there. You're very lucky I happened to be walkin' by and found you before someone less… charitable came along. These ain't the most respectable of parts."

Alonzo sighed. "I guess I owe you."

"Too right you do. I've been waitin' for hours for an answer."


"Well, nah, not really. After I made sure your head was alright and you weren't gonna die you decided to take a nap. Told me and Teazer right off when we tried to keep you awake." Jerrie gave Alonzo a pointed look. "Which is another question: how long have you been awake before now? You look like something a pollicle dragged in."

"Which question do you want me to answer first?" Alonzo asked, rolling his eyes.

"Ah, I'm not choosy." Jerrie fiddled with the flap of the box so it remained partly open, letting in the cool, fresh scent of the air after a good rainstorm.

Alonzo groaned and tried to sit up again. Nope, that wasn't going to work. Everything hurt. Jerrie helped him lay back down.

"You mighta done something to your hip there." The striped tom said helpfully.

"Thanks, I think I've realized that for myself."

Someone rustled at the entrance to their box. Automatically Alonzo bristled.

"Jer, I swear, if you're in here having a regular conversation with yourself while I'm out here keepin' watch and freezin' to death then- Oh hi, Lonz, good to see you're finally up." Teazer squeezed her way into the temporary shelter, comfortably wedging herself under Jerrie's arm.

"Hi, Teazer." Alonzo tried to shuffle out of the way. It was very cramped with the addition of the mischievous queen.

"Anyways, I came in to say we gotta move on. I can smell a pollicle hangin' about." Teazer said, voice breezy despite the unease that was settling in around them.

"Right. Think you're up to movin' around a bit? Teaze and I can help you back to the 'yard." Jerrie said, sliding back over to help Alonzo sit up.

With both Jerrie and Teazer helping him Alonzo managed to get out of the box. It wasn't a graceful exit but at least he didn't fall on his face or hurt himself further. Every inch of him was sore from his fall off the roof, and while nothing seemed broken he heavily leaned on the two cats as they slowly made their way down the alley. Briefly he considered asking for help in retrieving the flower he had almost grievously injured himself for, but as they hobbled farther away he gave up. Better to leave it than have to explain himself.

It was an extremely uncomfortable walk.

While Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were strong, the height difference between them and himself was too great. Trying to walk all the way back to the Junkyard while hunched over put too much pressure on his back and hip, both which flared in sharp, painful bursts that threatened to bring him to his knees. If Teazer were a bit taller then maybe it would have worked, but as it was now every step was nearly agony.

"I- I can't go further. It's too much." Alonzo finally had to give in. Every step made his left hip scream and his back hurt so much it was going numb. To make things even worse it had started to rain again.

"Hang on, Lonz, we're almost to Victoria Grove. You can hang out in there while we figure out what to do next." Teazer said soothingly.

Alonzo could only hold on and hope she was right. It was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other. Finally they rounded a corner and stopped in front of a large house surrounded by a brick wall. The three were able to sidle through iron gate with little difficulty, but the main door proved to be a problem. The three took refuge behind a well manicured bush next to the door to figure out their next course of action.

"Now, normally we'd just jump up and go through a window…." Teazer trailed off, giving Alonzo a comforting nuzzle when the taller cat winced at the thought. "Nah, didn't think you'd be up for that. Don't worry, we've got somethin' else we can do."

Jerrie seemed to understand what she meant, which was good because Alonzo was completely lost. Suddenly all of his weight was transferred to Jerrie as Teazer darted out in front of the door.

"Where's she-" Alonzo started to ask.

"Hush. Watch the master at work." Jerrie shushed him.

Alonzo could only watch as Rumpleteazer took a moment to compose herself, stretching a bit before laying down in front of the door. With her wet, ruffled fur and odd angle she was laying at it looked like she had barely been able to drag herself up on the doorstep. She started up a small whimper, pawing at the door rather pathetically.

"What is she-"

"I said hush!" Jerrie shushed him again.

Nothing was happening. Teazer gave a dissatisfied huff and started to yowl, scratching and kicking at the door rather violently. The racket was enough to make Alonzo flinch and pin his ears back.

"Ain't she great?" Jerrie grinned, completely unaffected by the howls coming from his mate.

The door flew open, revealing a disturbed human. Their eyes immediately locked on to the wailing cat.

"Oh, no, you poor thing!" The human crouched down to help, but Teazer was much faster.

Like a streak of lightning Rumpleteazer shot between the human's legs, disappearing straight up a large staircase in the background. Somewhere in the distance there was a distinctive smash of something that sounded very valuable. The human screeched and ran after her, calling to the other humans inside.

"Which one was that?"

"I don't know!"

"It's that horrible cat!"

"Not the Ming vases!"

In the human's haste the door had been left ajar. Jerrie confidently strutted across the doorstep, hauling a bewildered Alonzo along with him.

"See? Nothin' to it." With his free arm Jerrie gestured to the grand hall in front of them. "Welcome to Victoria Grove!"

The ache in Alonzo's side was momentarily forgotten as Jerrie helped him down the hall towards a back room. Everything in the house was quite fancy and looked very expensive. It even smelled expensive, and Alonzo was very much aware of how damp his fur was and how distinctively he reeked.

"Do you… live here?" Alonzo grunted, slightly distressed at the mud and water he was trailing on the carpet.

Jerrie herded them into a lavish bedroom that was bigger than any place Alonzo had been. Everything from the carpet to the curtains was plush and luxurious, and a large portion of the room was occupied by an enormous four poster bed.

"Yeah, in a way. This is more of our center of operations. Can't linger too long, otherwise it gets boring. You know, you've heard the song. 'Incurably given to rove' and all that." Jerrie said casually as they made their way over to the bed.

Instead of making Alonzo climb up on top (which the black and white cat seriously doubted he could do at the present moment) Jerrie instead sat Alonzo down out of the way, jumped up on the bed, and none too graciously kicked and dragged the copious amounts of blankets and bedding down to the floor under the window.

"Here, this should be comfy enough." Jerrie said, helping Alonzo settle down into the makeshift nest.

"Thanks. So you really live here?" Alonzo asked again. It just wasn't sinking in. It wasn't as if Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer weren't worthy of living in such a place, but they didn't give off the impression of being so… so posh. Victoria he could see lounging in such luxury, but these two….

"Hey, don't be lookin' at me like that. Teaze and I have done very well for ourselves. 'Course, it might help that the humans here are rather, ah, bewildered by our activities. They have a hard time tellin' us apart and keepin' track of who's who, which works out fine for us. Can't place proper blame or kick us out if they're not sure who might or might not have done what."

"Oh." There really wasn't much Alonzo could say to that. He settled for letting himself sink into the blankets, marveling at how soft and cozy they felt.

"Hey, if you wanna take a quick nap you can." Jerrie said. "I'll keep an eye out for any, er, unwanted guests. The humans never come in here anyways, so no worries about bein' discovered."

Alonzo desperately wanted to just close his eyes and sleep until this ordeal was over. He stank, his body ached, and while the self proclaimed 'notorious' couple of cats went above and beyond to help him he just wanted to be home. Home with the one cat that wasn't around.

This was driving him crazy. He was a grown cat, for Everlasting's sake! There was no reason why he couldn't handle Munkustrap being away for an extended period of time. They hadn't even been mates for a terribly long time. So why couldn't he settle down and sleep?

Some small part of him whimpered. He hurt in more ways than one.

"Somethin' on your mind?" Jerrie asked, much more perceptive than he let on.

"It's hard to sleep without Munk around." Alonzo said, trying to appear indifferent.

"I can understand that." Jerrie said offhandedly.

"You can?"

"Oh, sure. Anytime Teazer's out havin' a girls night or visitin' the 'Yard on her own I can't get a decent night's sleep for the life of me. Feels wrong, not havin' her next to me."

"The den just feels so…." Alonzo sought for the right word.

"Empty?" Jerrie offered.

"Yes. Empty. Which doesn't make sense, since I've spent most of my life alone."

"Ah, but you're not alone. You've got Munk now." Jerrie gently nudged him.

"But I know he'll be back soon. And he's only off seeing Old Deuteronomy. It's not like he's missing."

"Doesn't matter." Jerrie shook his head. "Still'll be an empty den until he comes back."

Alonzo sighed. "This… this sucks." There wasn't a better word that came to mind.

"That's love. Not much you can do about it." Jerrie coughed. "Anyways, enough with the sappy confessions. Won't do much for my fearsome reputation if I keep waxin' poetics all over the place."

Teazer chose that moment to return, looking a little out of breath but very pleased with herself. She gave a happy trill and rubbed up on Jerrie, flashing a huge grin at Alonzo.

"What a rush! For a hot second I thought they might've caught up to me but then they all stopped when I took out the vase. Gave them slip near the kitchens. By the way, it's roast pheasant for dinner. Might have to pay the kitchen a visit later." She purred happily.

"You're the best, Teaze." Jerrie purred back, rubbing his body alongside his mate's in a way that was definitely more than just a friendly cuddle.

The two seemed to momentarily forget Alonzo's presence. While it was heartwarming to see the two cuddle and purr on each other, it was doing nothing for the loneliness that was worming its way into Alonzo's chest. And, judging by the rising pheromones in the air, the two cats in front of him were just getting started.

Delicately he coughed to remind them that he was still there. That was a mistake. He couldn't help but groan as all the sore muscles in his body flared painfully.

"Aw, sorry Lonz, got a little carried away there." Teazer giggled, breaking away from Jerrie to gently nuzzle the spot between the black and white cat's ears.

Jerrie settled down behind Alonzo's back again like he had done in the cardboard box, starting up a rumble of purring that soothed the injured cat's hurts. It was just enough to relax him into a light doze.

He hadn't been asleep for long before whispering brought him back to consciousness. With a small sigh Alonzo nestled further into the blankets, keeping his eyes closed in the hopes that he would drift off again.

"It ain't gonna work out, Jer. We can't get him all the way to the 'yard with just the two of us." Teazer said in a loud whisper.

"Don't have to tell me twice. Thought the poor bloke was gonna faint on us and take us out with him. Lucky we got here when we did." Jerrie replied. The striped tom was still cuddled up against his back. It wasn't the same as having Munk around but it was comforting enough to keep him relaxed.

"What do we do?"

"We need someone taller. No offense, Teaze, you're perfect as you are, but-"

"I know, I know. Lonz is just too tall for his own good." Teazer sighed. "I suppose one of us'll have to go get someone else. Plato maybe? He's gangly enough. I saw Pounce ride around on his back the other day so he should be plenty strong."

That was not a mental image Alonzo wanted to have in his mind.

"I'm not riding Plato like a horse." Alonzo muttered. Behind him Jerrie jumped.

"Oh, you're awake again." Teazer said. "We were just discussin' what we could do with you."

"Course, you're welcome to stay here until you're better, but that might take a while." Jerrie added, settling back down again.

"I appreciate the offer but I'd rather be back in the Junkyard." If Alonzo missed Munk's return because of injuries he sustained while trying to acquire him a welcome back flower he would never forgive himself.

"Thought so." Teazer stretched and stood. "So that's why I'm gonna go get some help to bring you home."

"You sure, Teaze?" Jerrie asked, twitching his tail uncertainly.

"Yeah. Better if you stay here and keep an eye on Lonz. You'd be able to move him on your own better than I could if trouble shows up. Not that it will, of course." The last part was hastily added for Alonzo's benefit.

"Alright then. Take care, love." Jerrie stood and nuzzled her before following her to the door.

Alonzo took the quick moment of solitude to try and take stock of himself. A quick wiggle of his fingers and toes reassured him that he wasn't paralyzed. He could bend his knees to a certain degree and move his tail as well. The main source of his pain was his left hip and, by extension, the muscles on his left side, which probably the main part of his body that took the brunt of the blow when he fell off the roof.

Alonzo shook his head in self disappointment. Couldn't even land on his feet.

"So." Jerrie said, returning to join Alonzo in the makeshift nest. "You never told me why you were up gallvantin' around that roof in the first place."

"I was…." Alonzo felt himself start to turn red. Luckily Jerrie had turned his attentions to a loose string on the quilt they were laying on and hadn't noticed. Hopefully. "I was trying to get a flower. For Munk."

As soon as he said the words he regretted it. Jerrie's smile was so wide it threatened to stretch off his face.

"You-" Jerrie started gleefully.

"I don't want to hear it." Alonzo said shortly.


"Jerrie, I swear if you tell anyone-"

"This is too great. You, the self-assured, smooth, graceful cat fallin' off a roof pickin' flowers for his boyfriend's return-"

"I said I don't want to hear it!" Shouting made his side hurt too much. Alonzo winced and closed his eyes again. Jerrie must have noticed, for when he spoke next his voice was much quieter and more gentle.

"Sorry, Lonz. Didn't mean to upset you. Just… it's funny, thinkin' that you're such a romantic for our fearless Jellicle Protector."

"Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. That knd of flower's his favorite one." Alonzo muttered.

"Is it now? That's a bit of interestin' trivia. Happens to be Teazer's favorite too."

The sat in contemplative silence for a while. The rain drummed against the window.

"Jerrie?" Alonzo said, mind slowly forming a question.


"What were you doing in that alley when you found me?"

"Ah. Well, I suppose I can tell you since you told me your embarrassin' secret."

"It's not embarrassing and it's not a secret." Alonzo insisted.

"Yeah, sure. Anyways, I may or may not have been about to climb up on the same roof to perhaps nick a flower myself to give to Teazer…."

"What?" Alonzo furrowed his eyebrows at Jerrie's smile. "You just gave me a hard time for the exact same situation you were about to put yourself in you d-"

"Hey, hey, it wasn't gonna be the same situation. I wouldn't have fallen off the roof." Jerrie cheerfully ignored the sour look Alonzo was giving him. "'Sides, they're very nice flowers."

"What's the occasion? Gone a week without stealing something?"

"Oh, that's a very low blow, Lonz. I'm wounded." Jerrie clutched at the imaginary shot to his heart. "I'll have you know that it's me and Teazer's anniversary comin' up in a few days. I already got her pearls so this year I'm tryin' to go in a different direction."

"Congratulations." Alonzo said, sincerity clouded with a small realization. "Wait, I thought Teazer stole those pearls."

"Where'd you hear that?"

"It's literally in the song you sing every year at the Jellicle Ball."

"Oh, well, that's an embellishment. I nicked 'em for her a long time ago." Jerrie got a little misty eyed at the memory. "Those were the days… still are, actually."

"…. you do realize that I could tell Munk about the theft."

"Yeah, but will you? 'Cause then I could turn around and say I told you while you were lyin' injured 'cause I saved you after you fell offa roof tryin' to get a flower as a sappy welcome back present for him."

It took a minute for the words to pass through Alonzo's brain. When it finally made sense he had to admit that Jerrie had a point.

"Fine. Nevermind."

"That's the spirit." Jerrie jumped up on the windowsill and took a peek outside. "Rainin' again. Teaze's gonna be mad. She hates gettin' wet."

"I appreciate her efforts. Yours too, Jerrie." Alonzo said quietly. "I really would have been in trouble back there if you hadn't helped."

"Don't mention it. You and Munk would've done the same for me or Teaze if it had happened to us." Jerrie hopped back down from the windowsill.

"Hopefully it doesn't happen again. I certainly don't intend it to." Alonzo said, yawning widely. "I'm content to leave the garbage to more unscrupulous folk."

"Couldn't have said it better myself." Jerrie laughed. "Get some rest, Lonz. I'll keep an eye out for anyone with questionable scruples."

Jerrie rubbed up against his side affectionately before settling down to keep an eye on things. The tom's tail rested comfortably over Alonzo's side, the casual contact easing a little of the loneliness that had kept Alonzo from getting proper rest. Within minutes the black and white cat was out again.

For the first time in a week Alonzo finally felt somewhat rested. All it took was falling off a roof, landing in trash, and having his aching body dragged through the street to get his mind off of his absent mate.

Everlasting Cat, Alonzo missed Munkustrap. It was embarrassing how much he missed the silver tabby. Even now just the thought of his mate brought the memory of the silver tabby's scent to his nose. He could practically feel Munk sitting next to him, gently purring to soothe away any lingering distress. When he thought about it he could even feel the silver fur beneath his paws-

Wait a minute. Alonzo opened his eyes.

Munkustrap lay in front of him, fur practically glowing in the fading light of the sun.

"Wait… are you real?" Alonzo asked, squinting at what was surely a hallucination.

Munkustrap laughed, bringing a flood of warmth to Alonzo's chest. "Yes, I'm real. How are you feeling?"

"Achy. Tired. Smelly."

"Ah. None of those are pleasurable, I imagine." Munk slowly sat up, careful not to jostle Alonzo any more than he had to.

"It could be better." Alonzo was almost content to live in a trash heap if it meant Munk stayed with him. Almost. "Could be worse."

"Teazer told me about your, er, 'adventure'. She said she was headed back to the Junkyard to find someone to help carry you home. A bit serendipitous that she ran into me, isn't it?"

"You could call it that." Alonzo felt an enormous amount of relief at seeing his mate. Suddenly everything that had happened before didn't matter as much anymore.

"See, Munk, what'd I tell you, Lonz is perfectly safe and sound." Teazer's voice floated into the room from the doorway. "Jer had everything under control."

"Didn't hurt that he spent most of the afternoon sleepin'." Jerrie's voice came from up on the windowsill. The striped tom jumped down onto the blankets to join them. "Lonz conked out as soon as you left."

"I'd appreciate it if we stopped discussing my sleep schedule, thanks." Alonzo muttered.

"To be honest I could use some sleep myself." Munk admitted. Over his shoulder Alonzo could see Jerrie's knowing grin. "The sooner we head home the better."

Alonzo dreaded getting back up and walking all the way back to the Junkyard at night in the rain. Sure, Munk would be there, but the journey would still be a slog. Luckily Teazer came to the rescue.

"Not to question your judgment, Munk, but might be better to spend the night here instead of draggin' poor Lonz out in the streets at night. Some shady individuals lurkin' around these parts under the cover of night." Teazer said, not unkindly.

"'Sides, we got plenty of room here. And I'm sure Teaze and I could rustle up some grub for us." Jerrie said.

Munk took another look out the window and sighed. "You're right. It would be better to stay here for the night."

"Honestly, I don't think I can move." Alonzo admitted.

"We'll have to have Jenny check you out when we get back home." Munk said, frowning.

"I'll be fine. I'm not dying, just sore. And tired. And-"

"Smelly, I know." Munk nuzzled him all the same. "Alright. We'll stay here tonight and head home tomorrow."

"Great! We'll get some food. Don't go anywhere. Or do anything you wouldn't want us to walk in on." Teazer said, winking as she sauntered out the door. Jerrie followed, chuckling at the slightly mortified expressions on the other cat's faces.

"Munk, as much as I love you, I don't want to chance it with those two around." Alonzo said slowly.

"Agreed. We can make up for lost time later." Munk carefully rubbed his cheek along Alonzo's shoulder, doing his best to avoid his mate's sore spots. "Once we get you sorted out."

Alonzo purred happily, wincing a little when Munk prodded his sore hip. "Ow."

"Sorry." Gingerly Munk parted the fur on his hip to take a look. "You've got an impressive bruise forming here."

"I can feel it."

"Teazer told me you fell off a roof."

"I did." Alonzo thumped his tail nervously.

"What were you doing up there?"

Alonzo sighed. He couldn't lie to Munk no matter how much he wanted to. "I was trying to pick a flower for you for when you came home. Clearly I have no business ever trying to pick flowers again."

Munk's smile was worth the bruises to Alonzo's body and his ego. "That's very sweet of you."

"Well, hopefully it's the thought that counts. Because I doubt you're going to let me try for round two."

"You are right about that." Munk stopped his search for bruises and finally got around to administering a proper cuddling.

Alonzo settled back into Munk's embrace and closed his eyes. Moments like this was almost worth being apart for so long. And to think he was going to have to wait two more days for this.

"Wait a minute." Alonzo said. "I thought you were going to be gone for another two days."

"Well, yes, that was the plan." Munk shifted a little against Alonzo's back.

"So what changed?" Alonzo couldn't see Munk's face but he could feel the embarrassment radiating off of the cat.

"I… I missed you too much." The words were uttered directly into Alonzo's fur.

"You… what?"

"I missed you. I couldn't get a wink of sleep without you near me. Old Deuteronomy kept giving me this knowing look after the third day and eventually said that we could meet up in the Junkyard to discuss the upcoming Jellicle Ball." Munk sighed. "I was planning on surprising you."

"Well, I'm definitely surprised." Alonzo said. "And I have to admit I had a terrible time trying to sleep without you around too."

"Aren't we both a mess." Munk shook his head against Alonzo's shoulders.

"But we're just the right mess for each other." Alonzo insisted.

"Oh, absolutely. There's no one else I'd rather be a disaster with." Munk raised himself up so Alonzo could see the exaggerated seriousness on his face. "It's a high honor to experience me like this. I don't just let anyone know these things about me."

"I am honored." Alonzo laughed.

"Good. Because if you weren't I'd have to do something about it." Munk settled back down with a playful growl, holding Alonzo close to him. "After we both get some proper sleep for once."

"Yes. After-" Alonzo yawned. "- after that. What you said."

By the time Jerrie and Teazer returned with the stolen dinner both of the toms were fast asleep.

Morning came swiftly. Alonzo woke feeling pleasantly refreshed, if not a little confused. The previous day's events came back to him, sending him upright in a flash.

Big mistake.

Alonzo's hip and side screamed at him, causing him to let out a whimper of pain, alerting the cats to his distress. Immediately Munkustrap was at his side, purring and whispering comfort to him as the pain abated.

"Well, that certainly was a way to ensure we all got up at once." Teazer yawned from her perch on the bed, Jerrie anxiously peering over her shoulder.

"Sorry." Alonzo said through gritted teeth. The shock of the sudden movement startled him more than the pain, and with Munk's help he was able to sit up without too much trouble.

"Are you alright?" Through years of experience as the Jellicle Protector Munk had developed the ability to take any panic and worry he had and mask it within a calm, collected exterior, but Alonzo could feel him vibrating with concern.

"Yes, it's better now. Just forgot it hurt." Alonzo insisted. "I can head back home."

"If you think you're up for it, I'd like to head home too." Munk said, still hovering.

"We'll help you back home, no worries." Jerrie said as he and Teazer joined them on the pile of blankets. "After some breakfast we can head right out."

Breakfast ended up being leftovers from dinner (which Munk and Alonzo had slept through) along with the addition of some eggs and bacon pilfered from parts unknown. Once he ate and had time to get used to the soreness Alonzo was pleased to discover that while he still ached, he didn't hurt nearly as much as the day before.

Even so, Munk and Jerrie took a great deal of care in helping Alonzo to his feet. There was still a bit of a height difference between the toms, but it wasn't nearly as uneven as the day before. Experimentally Alonzo shifted his weight from foot to foot.

"How do you feel?" Munk asked, carefully holding him up on his left.

"Yeah, any pain?" Jerrie piped up on his right.

"It's a little sore." Alonzo admitted. "But not nearly as bad as yesterday."

Now it was just a matter of getting out the door without the humans seeing them.

Teazer took off like a shot, disappearing back up the stairs. There was another almighty crash and the thundering of feet as every human in the house rushed upstairs to see what had been smashed. Quickly the three toms headed for the door. Jerrie expertly opened it and they hurried outside, hiding on the other side of the brick wall to wait for the rambunctious queen.

"Aren't you worried that she'll get caught?" Alonzo couldn't help but ask.

"Nah. She's a pro. Always knows what she's doin'." Jerrie said proudly.

Munkustrap may or may not have rolled his eyes. From his position Alonzo couldn't quite see.

"Right, I think it'd be best if we hang out in the 'yard for 'bout a week. Maybe two." Teazer said, appearing behind them in a hurry. The humans were screeching from inside the house.

"Yeah, no arguments here." Jerrie said, adjusting his position under Alonzo's shoulder.

The four wasted no time in leaving Victoria Grove behind. Vaguely Alonzo wished he could have spent more time there when he wasn't under duress. Seemed like an interesting place to explore.

It was about an hour's journey to the Junkyard. Unfortunately, despite the help of Munkustrap and Mungojerrie (along with Rumpleteazer's encouragement), Alonzo made it about forty minutes in before he had to stop. He had tried his best but the ache in his hip had grown steadily into a piercing pain that prevented him from taking another step.

"I- I have to stop." Alonzo finally gasped, involuntarily digging his claws into Munk's and Jerrie's shoulders. "Sorry."

"Don't apologize." Munk said as they carefully lowered Alonzo to sit up against a handy fence.

"Yeah, you made it much farther than last night." Jerrie pointed out.

Munk gently rubbed Alonzo's shoulder. "We can take a break until you can continue."

"That's the problem. I don't know if I can." Alonzo said, voice barely above a whisper. It was so hard to admit it with Jerrie and Teazer staring at him.

As if reading his thoughts the two cats made a big show of suddenly becoming interested in a shiny object that just happened to be out of earshot. They vanished up the street, politely turning their backs on him to give him some privacy.

Munk settled down next to him, leaning up against his right side. "We'll figure it out."

"Sorry." Alonzo apologized.

"Don't." Munk gently warned. "It's not your fault. Besides, I know what this is really all about."

"What?" Alonzo asked, genuinely confused.

"Oh, you think you're so sneaky, but I can see through your conniving ways." A sly smile overtook Munk's previously worried expression.

"I seriously have no idea what you're talking about."

"Don't try to deny it."

"Munk, what are you-"

"If you wanted me to carry you, all you had to do was ask."

Alonzo stared at the silver tabby. Then it clicked. Munk knew that he would be too embarrassed to ask for that degree of help even if it was offered, so he was being given a humorous way out. Seeing Munk crack jokes would be bizarre for just about anyone else, and it was only a matter of convenience that Jerrie and Teazer missed the exchange.

Alonzo sighed, halfheartedly rolling his eyes with a smile. "You got me. I surrender."

"Well, since you admitted it, I guess I have no choice but to submit." Carefully Munk bent down to scoop Alonzo up into his arms.

Instantly Alonzo knew it was a mistake. The way his hips and side shifted immediately brought the pain back, and he nearly threw himself to the ground to escape the painful grasp.

"I'm so sorry-" Munk started to say, but Alonzo violently shook his head.

"No, no, don't. It's fine. I think- I think I'm going to have to…." It was so embarrassing to admit, and he wasn't quite sure why. Maybe because it was an undignified position. "You're going to have to carry me on your back. It's the only way my side doesn't get scrunched up."

To his credit Munk didn't even hesitate. Within moments Alonzo was delicately arranged on the silver tabby's back, being easily lifted as if he didn't weigh a thing. It would have been attractive if Alonzo didn't feel like a sack of potatoes.

"How's this?" Munk asked.

"Better." Alonzo said, resting his head on Munk's shoulder.

"Alright then. Let's get going before Skimble sends out a search party." Munk headed towards the two cats waiting for them.

"Well hey, you didn't get to ride Plato like a horse, but you did get to ride Munk." Teazer said, bursting immediately into a very unladylike cackle. Jerrie almost fell over laughing, holding on to the fence to keep himself upright.

"What is this about Plato?" Munk asked, deeply disturbed.

Alonzo groaned and hid his face in the back of Munk's neck. "Don't ask. I said something stupid earlier and they won't let it go."

The giggles lasted the last twenty minutes to the Junkyard. Alonzo distracted himself by closing his eyes and focusing on Munk's scent and the feel of his mate's body up against his own. If only they were alone and his hip didn't try to kill him, he would be much more interested in the possibilities of the position they were in.

He must have drifted off at some point because the next thing Alonzo knew he was back home in his and Munk's den. And, importantly, they were alone. And, perhaps even more importantly, he didn't hurt anymore.

"Welcome back." Munk said, sounding relieved. "I thought you were going to sleep for a week."

Alonzo cautiously stretched. There was a small twinge in his hip but nothing nearly as painful as before.

"Jenny stopped by earlier. You slept through her examination." Munk said.

"Oh. What a pity." Alonzo said, completely fine with that fact. "I guess I'll have to talk to her later."

"Later." Munk agreed.

"Come here." Alonzo said, pulling his mate to him, determined to make up for lost time. "For now, this is all I want."

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!