Hello again, just popping in with this random fic that showed up in my brain. Written purely for fun and will probably be no more than two, maybe three chapters.
Munkustrap woke to a pounding headache that abruptly wrenched him from his sleep. Alonzo's usual warm, comfortable presence at his side was absent, replaced with a vice holding his arm hostage. Blearily he opened his eyes, surprised to find that he was not resting in his den, which is where he had definitely remembered falling asleep the night before.
He didn't immediately call out for Alonzo, wisely deciding to keep quiet on the off chance that someone had, for some reason, moved him in the middle of the night and chained him for nefarious purposes. As usual his mind went to Macavity, merely because the Napoleon of Crime always was a suspect in strange circumstances.
That sinister line of thought was quickly abandoned, however, as his eyes slowly began to adjust to his surroundings.
Why was he in Tugger's den?
The vice around his arm shifted. He looked down to see the unmistakable furry red figure of Bombalurina latched tightly to his arm. She was sleeping with her mouth wide open, letting out the occasional breathy snore. It was an ungainly sight for the usually sensual queen. Even more unusual was that she was in bed with him. When had that happened, and why?
Munk opened his mouth to finally speak and was immediately treated to a mouthful of fluff. Sputtering, he tried to push it away but realized that it was, in fact, attached to him. For some reason, against all odds, he had sprouted a mane overnight.
Slowly he looked down at himself. For another unknown reason he had abruptly changed color. And height. And everything else.
"No." Munk said in a voice that had also changed, mind suddenly racing. "No."
At his side Bomba snorted and let go of Munk's arm, wiping drool off her face with the back of her hand.
"Shuddup. 'm tryin' sleep." She muttered, rudely kicking him in the side before rolling over.
Munk was too busy trying not to panic to even care that he was in bed with her. He had other pressing matters to attend to. They were in Tugger's den. There had to be a mirror around. In fact, he had just recently lent a mirror to his brother, it had to be somewhere nearby.
Munk's hasty rummaging was loud enough to wake up Bomba, who rolled back over and fixed him with a glare that would instantly sour milk.
"Everlasting Cat, could you keep your noisy noises to yourself Tu- Huh?" Bomba blinked up at him. "How'd you get here?"
Munk was too busy looking in the mirror to respond. The face that looked back at him was not his own. The face belonged to the Rum Tum Tugger.
"No." Munk repeated, because there really wasn't much else to say at that point.
"What'd you mean 'No'?" Bomba rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, then abruptly paused and stared at her paw.
Now, magical happenstances were not unexpected in a tribe of Jellicle cats. At last year's Jellicle Ball Munk had witnessed several events, large and small, that could only be explained by magical means. Coricopat and Tantomile were undoubtedly psychic, not to mention a certain Magical Mr. Mistoffelees, who despite being described as 'vague and aloof' was so painfully obviously magical it almost hurt to look at him.
But this… waking up in Tugger's body, that was a new one for Munk. And he was not having it. If Munk was in Tugger's body then there was a very good chance that Tugger was in his body, and that was a prospect that sent a cold chill down his spine.
"I have to find Misto." Munk said to himself, immediately ending up with a mouthful of fur again. How did Tugger keep from inadvertently eating his mane?
"Wh… why's my fur all red?" Bomba whispered. "Tugger, what'd you do- why do I sound so girly?"
Munk turned to look just in time to see Bomba's paws fly to her chest. Immediately her eyes snapped to his. Slowly Munk put the mirror down on the bed, trying to adopt his most comforting stance despite moving in a body that was not his own.
"What. Happened." Bomba ground out through sheer and utter terror.
"Bomba, I need you to -pft- to listen to me." Munk said as calmly as he could as he shoved Tugger's unruly mane out of his face.
Bomba bit her lip. "Why'd you call me that? That's not my name. I'm-"
It was too late. Bomba's eyes met with her reflection in the mirror. Immediately she began to scream.
Clear on the other side of the junkyard, the Rum Tum Tugger woke after what felt like the best sleep of his life. Contentedly he kept his eyes closed, sinking into the soft blankets and drifting into a doze that could very well last the rest of the morning.
There was a warm presence beside him, stretched out along the entire length of his body with their face tucked into his shoulder. It was a deliciously comfortable position to be in. Now if only Tugger could remember who he went to bed with last night. His mind was slow to remember the events of the night before, bogged down by a slight headache that was lingering in the back of his head.
As if sensing his thoughts the unknown cat slung a black arm over his chest and rubbed up against him in a way that suggested that this cat was done sleeping and ready for a different horizontal activity. Now Tugger was very interested, once he figured out who he was sleeping with. He opened his eyes, finding himself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling.
"I didn't think you'd be awake so soon, not after what we did last night." A voice purred in his ear.
The voice was familiar but not belonging to any cat that Tugger was inclined to share a bed with. Slowly his gaze traveled down the arm to its owner, eyes settling on a distinctive black and white face.
"Alonzo? What's going on-" Abruptly Tugger stopped. The voice that came out of him was not his.
"Very funny." Alonzo retaliated by licking a sensitive spot behind his ear. "The amnesia excuse only worked that one time-"
"No, wait, seriously, why are you here? What happened?" Tugger shoved Alonzo off of him, scrambling away to the other side of the bed. "Is something wrong?"
Alonzo's look of lust immediately was replaced with vague irritation. "I'm fine. What's wrong with you?"
"I asked you first. Why are you in my bed? Did Munk kick you out?" Something wasn't right, something was wrong with his voice, but Tugger could only handle one mystery at a time.
"You're starting to worry me. If this is a joke it isn't funny." Alonzo crawled closer, reaching out to touch him.
Tugger drew back until he fell off the bed. While trying to untangle himself from the blankets he finally got a good look at his arms and legs, notably the silver fur that he was now sporting. His usual magnificent mane was also absent. Had someone shaved him in the middle of the night and dyed his fur?
"What." Tugger stared down at himself in fascinated horror.
"What's wrong?" Alonzo's paw landed on his shoulder.
Tugger yelped and pulled away, tripping over his long tail and sprawling all over the floor.
"Mirror, I need a mirror." Tugger insisted. Alonzo simply watched him as he floundered around. "Don't you have a mirror in here?"
"No, Munk, you gave yours to Tugger, remember?"
"Don't call me Munk!"
Alonzo flinched. "I don't know what's gotten into you but it's not funny."
"You're telling me. This is a little crazy even for me." Tugger pawed through his brother's things in a desperate attempt to find anything reflective. "Please tell me that you're playing a prank. That for some reason you and Munk thought it would be funny to shave my mane off and dye my fur and pretend that I'm him."
"What in the world- are you being serious?" Alonzo stared at him, visibly disturbed. "Are you ill?"
"No, no, I'm fine, I just need to find a mirror. I'm gonna go." Before Alonzo could say anything else Tugger gathered his long legs under him and ran outside.
Immediately he tripped over a smaller cat, sending them both sprawling into the dirt.
"Hey!" Tumblebrutus protested, rolling into a crouch and giving him a sour look. "Watch where you're- oh, Munk, I need to ask-"
"Sorry, buddy, didn't see you there." Tugger rather aggressively patted Tumble on the head. "Uh, you don't happen to have a mirror on you, do you?"
"What? No." Tumble batted Tugger's paws away. "Have you seen-"
"Munk, where are you going?" Alonzo poked his head out his den.
This was getting much more complicated than it needed to be. Tugger took the easiest option available and avoided any further conversation by making a hasty retreat. It would have been easier if he were retreating in a body he was used to.
It also seemed that the silver fur was a beacon for any cat with a problem to come find him. Tugger only barely managed to dodge Jenny, Skimble, Demeter and Asparagus as the four of them converged on him with seemingly inane problems and concerns. Couldn't they see that he wasn't the Jellicle Protector?
Tumble in particular was hard to shake off, the tabby kitten seemingly determined to follow him to the end of the junkyard. Finally Tugger had had enough.
"What? What do you want?" Tugger asked, placing his hands on his hips and staring down at Tumble. "Now is a really bad time."
"Yeah, well, I need to ask you something." Tumble did his best to stand tall but he was still significantly shorter than Munkustrap's body.
"Look, buddy, I'm not who you think I am." The words sounded much more ominous than he meant.
Suddenly Tugger was aware of just how much he towered over the kitten and crouched a little to lessen the intimidation. Tumble grabbed the end of his own tail and started to fiddle with it, a nervous habit that he and his brother both shared. Nevertheless he refused to budge.
"Fine." Tugger sighed. "But first I gotta tell you something. And you're probably not gonna believe it."
"Munk, you're acting really weird."
"That's the problem. I'm not Munk. It's me, Tugger. Someone made me look like him."
Tumble stared at him.
"Tumble, I swear that it's true." Tugger spread his arms out wide. "Do I really look like Munk to you?"
"Well... yeah..." Tumble slowly said, letting go of his tail in favor of slowly circling Tugger. "But you definitely aren't acting like him. Who did this to you?"
"Beats me. I woke up like this in Munk's bed." Tugger cocked his hip out to one side and adopted his usual posture. Tumble's eyes widened.
"That just looks wrong." Tumble squeaked.
"You're definitely Tugger. No one else can stand like that."
"Thank you for noticing. I was beginning to think that I was the only sane one here." Tugger looked down at his fur again. "I mean, yeah, someone shaved my mane and dyed my fur silver and- and did something to my voice, but I'm still me. You can't change my face just by dying it a different color."
"Uh, have you seen your face?" Tumble asked.
"No, I was looking for a mirror but you insisted on following me. Hey, what did you want to ask Munk anyways?"
"You know what, it can wait." Tumble said. "Let's, uh, let's go find a mirror."
Back at Tugger's den Munk had managed to get Bomba's screaming under control, although she had devolved from shrieks to incoherent babbling. Munk wasn't sure if it was an improvement.
"I'm- I'm- what happened to me oh Everlasting Cat I'm all tall and sexy and oh no- no- where's my tail and my stripes and my- my- parts that I'm supposed to have and why do I have Bomba's face-"
"You need to calm down. Right now." Munk tried his best commanding voice but it just didn't sound the same coming from Tugger's mouth. "Just try and breathe."
"You try and breathe! At least you still have all your bits where they're supposed to be! And you're you!" Bomba pointed accusingly at him.
"Well, no, not really-"
"Did you do this? Tugger, what kinda prank are you trying to pull?" Bomba climbed to her feet and looked like she was about to take a swing at him. "How'd you get me to look like Bomba? How'd you do it?"
"It's not a prank!" Munk protested. "And I'm not Tugger!"
That got her attention. "Huh? But you-"
"I'm not Tugger. It's me, Munkustrap."
"Very funny." Bomba scrunched up her nose. "But it's clearly you, Tugger."
"I swear upon all the Heaviside it's me, Munk."
"Oh yeah? Then if you're Munk, tell me something only Munk would know."
"What?" Munk resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. The headache from before was nearly gone but he could tell this conversation was rapidly bringing it back. "Why don't you believe me? You're clearly not who you're supposed to be- hang on, who are you?"
Bomba immediately looked dejected. "You can't tell?"
"No. And you apparently can't tell that I'm not Tugger either." Munk pointed out.
"Fair point." Bomba shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "This is kinda embarrassing. If I told you you'd probably laugh at me."
"I assure you that I'm just as embarrassed as you are."
Bomba remained silent, grabbing her tail and nervously fiddling with it in an eerily familiar gesture. Munk knew he had seen a cat with a nervous tic like that before, but he couldn't quite place who it had been. It certainly hadn't been Bomba. Also, Munk was fairly sure that Bomba spoke a little more... eloquently, even when under a great deal of stress.
"Fine. You don't have to tell me. But you have to believe that I'm Munkustrap. Because I am." Munk gave her a stern look. "And you should believe me since the same body swapping scenario has clearly happened to you."
"I dunno what to believe." Bomba sighed. "But I don't like it."
"I don't like it either. But I'm fairly certain that Misto can fix it."
"Misto? What's he got to do with it?"
"Bomba, he's a magical cat." Munk said. "This is clearly a magical problem."
"Hey, don't call me Bomba. 's weird."
"Then what should I call you, since you're not willing to tell me your real name?"
Bomba remained silent.
Munk sighed again. "Look. You can come with me if you want or stay here. Either way I'm going to find Misto and try and fix this before it becomes even more of a problem."
"I... I wanna stay here." Bomba sat back down on the bed and curled her legs up to her chest. "I don't want anyone to see me like this."
Munk got the impression that whoever it was they were young. Probably one of the kittens then. Judging by how horrified they were by certain parts of Bomba's anatomy they were probably originally male. So one of the male kittens perhaps. That narrowed it down quite a bit.
Before Munk could investigate further there was a rustle from outside. Cautiously he glanced back at Bomba, who was curled up in the bed, before stepping out to see who was making the noise.
"Hi Tugger!" An exuberant voice greeted him as a pair of arms suddenly hugged his leg, scaring the living daylights out of him.
"Argh!" Munk screamed, just barely catching himself before he took a swing at his attacker. "Oh, hello Etcetera."
Etcetera stared up at him, squeezing his leg tightly. She was not alone. Electra and Jemima were with her.
"I didn't mean to scare you." Etcetera said. "We were looking for you. Didja just wake up? Your mane is all messy!"
"Ah, well, congratulations, you found me." Munk's mind whirled as the queens giggled and circled around him.
Should he tell them that he was trapped in Tugger's body? It would be the right, if not extremely confusing, thing to do, but the time spent explaining the embarrassing situation would be better used in finding Mistoffelees. Also, the longer he was in Tugger's body the longer Tugger was in his, and the thought of his brother having such an opportunity to gallivant about causing trouble in his skin was too much to bear.
Gently but firmly Munk pried Etcetera off of his leg. Tugger's leg. Whoever's leg. This was getting complicated.
"Where are you going?" Jemima asked as Munk staggered away.
"Going to find-" Munk had to pause to spit his mane out of his mouth again. "-pft- find Misto."
"Oh, Misto's back at his house with his humans." Electra told him. "He left this morning."
Munk bit back the urge to scream, mainly due to the fact that if he did he would inevitably end up with more fur in his mouth. The frustration must have been apparent on his face because all three queens moved closer towards him with similar expressions of concern.
"Don't worry, he'll be back eventually." Etcetera said, trying to latch onto his leg again. "How about for now you show us some new dance moves?"
All three queens started giggling again, nodding enthusiastically. Munk knew that if he wanted to escape now was the best time.
"Sorry, but I have to -pft- go." Again with the insufferable mane. He was sorely tempted to cut it off.
"But-" Whatever Etcetera said was lost as Munk literally ran away from the conversation, fueled by mild embarrassment and desperation. Hopefully Bomba would stay put and stay out of sight until he could return with Mistoffelees.
With Tumble's help Tugger eventually found a hubcap in a pile of junk that was shiny enough to see his reflection in. It took a long time of staring at Munk's face before Tugger felt like he could comment.
"Well. Guess this is a little more than a shave and a dye job." Even Tugger couldn't figure out how someone could change the bone structure of his face without him noticing.
"Yeah." Tumble nervously shuffled his feet. "Um. So you're really not Munk?"
"No, I swear I'm one hundred percent Tugger. Well, if not in body, then definitely in mind."
"How'd you end up looking like Munk then?"
"You don't seem very upset."
"Well, not much I can do about it right now. Got to keep a cool head until I can find someone to blame." Tugger did not mention that he was on the brink of panic. The only thing keeping him sane was the thought that if someone had done this to him then they could undo it.
"That's... one way of looking at it." Tumble was still giving him a weird look.
"Hey, stop that. I can't help how I look right now."
"Sorry. It just looks really weird for Munk to be acting like you."
"I don't know how else to-" Their conversation was interrupted by a loud, high pitched screech of dismay. Both jumped and whirled around to find Bombalurina staring at them in pure, unbridled outrage.
"B- Bomba." Tugger stammered, taken aback by the open hostility. "What brings you-"
"Hey, you lied to me!" Bomba yelled, pointing at him accusingly. "You said you were trapped in Tugger's body but here you are!"
"What?" Tugger paused, mind suddenly racing. "Did you see my body?"
"I'm looking at it right now. You said you were coming back after things got fixed but I'm still stuck like this. What gives-" Bomba's eyes snapped to Tumble. "Tumble?"
"Hi Bomba." Tumble said, giving her a wary look. "You look... er, lovely today. As usual."
Bomba's face turned an interesting color. "Don't look at me!"
"I mean it! Look away!" Both Tugger and Tumble watched as Bomba tried to cover herself with her paws and tail.
"Whoa, whoa, time out." Tugger cut in. "Bomba, have you seen Munk- er, I mean, Tugger recently?"
"I dunno who I saw anymore." Bomba shook her head, grabbing her tail and fiddling with it. "It's too complicated. I dunno who anyone is."
Tumble made a slightly strangled noise of surprise. Tugger looked at him questioningly but the kitten didn't elaborate.
"Well, there's some weird stuff going on." Tugger said. "But if you've seen my- I mean, Tugger's body, could you tell me where you saw it?"
"Yeah, I guess." Bomba pointed in the direction of Tugger's den. "Back at his den. Cettie and the others were there but I snuck out the back. Didn't want them to see me either."
She sounded so dejected that Tugger couldn't possibly leave it alone. With his usual swagger he sauntered up to her and draped an arm over her shoulders, leaning in to give her an affectionate nuzzle. To his surprise she stiffened under his arm and turned a violent shade of red.
Tumble coughed uncomfortably. "Still look like Munk."
"Bomba, you alright? You're acting a little strange." Tugger asked, ignoring the kitten.
"Everlasting Cat, I'm gonna die." Bomba said dramatically, covering her face with her paws. "I thought Munk- er, Tugger, no, wait, Munk- finding me like this was bad, but now this is so much worse."
"Um, Bomba?" Tumble asked, edging closer to the two. "Can I ask you something?"
"No." Bomba quickly said.
"Did you say earlier that you were 'stuck like this'?"
"No! I didn't say anything!"
"Yeah you did." Tumble crossed his arms over his chest.
"Did not!" Bomba immediately mirrored his pose.
"Shut up, Tumble, I did not!"
To Tugger's horror Bomba ducked out from under his arm and pounced on Tumble, sending them both into a sprawl. Tumble let out a startled shriek and tried to get away but Bomba quickly pinned him to the ground.
"Whoa." Bomba grinned triumphantly. "I'm like, super good at wrestling now. Must be 'cause I'm taller."
"No, I just don't wanna fight a queen." Tumble gave her a suspicious glare. "And there's only one cat that'd end an argument with me by picking a fight."
Bomba suddenly looked nervous. Quickly she got off of Tumble, backing away from him. The tom wasted no time in following her.
"I've been looking for you all morning!" Tumble said. "What happened to you? Why're you all like- like this?"
"Uh, I don't know what you're talking about." Bomba grabbed her tail again and wrung it between her paws.
"Don't try and play dumb." Tumble stomped forward. "I know it's you, Pounce."
Tugger, who had been watching the exchange with interest, felt that this new development was worth commenting on. Unfortunately he was rendered speechless by the revelation and could only watch as Tumble backed Bomba into a corner.
"I'm- I'm not Pounce, I'm- I'm Bomba!" Bomba said. "You're wrong!"
"Oh yeah, then how come you're doing that to your tail?" Tumble pointed. "And I'm pretty sure that the real Bomba wouldn't argue with me, let alone try to wrestle me when proven wrong. Also you talk just like Pounce does."
Dejectedly Bomba hung her head. "You notice too much."
"Well, you're my brother, it's my job to notice." Tumble said.
"Hold on, so you're really Pounce?" Tugger finally asked.
"Yeah." Bomba's face was the perfect picture of embarrassment. "I didn't want you guys to know. It's really embarrassing."
"Well, I'm not Munk, I'm Tugger." Tugger said, patting the red queen's shoulder. "So we can both be embarrassed."
"You really aren't Munk?" Pounce peered at him suspiciously. Now that the truth was out it was very clear to see that while this cat looked like Bomba, she acted and spoke just like Pouncival. It was truly a disturbing sight.
"I promise you I'm not Munk." Tugger confirmed. "But I take it you've talked to him recently?"
"Yeah. He's stuck in your body, I guess. Said he was gonna go find Misto or something. Thought maybe he had something to do with it."
"That makes a lot of sense." Tugger nodded. "If anyone's capable of some outrageous magic it'd be him."
"But how is he gonna get you guys back to normal? I don't want to have Bomba for a brother." Tumble said.
"I don't wanna be Bomba either. I'm supposed to look at her from my eyes, not hers!" Pounce shivered. "'s not natural."
"You're telling me." Tugger said. "At least I know now that Munk is running around in my body."
"D'you think Bomba's... oh no." Pounce whimpered. "Bomba's in my body."
"Oh. Oh no." Tumble whispered. "Oh Pounce."
"This is the worst day of my entire life. My entire existence." Pounce groaned. "Just send me to the Heaviside Layer now. I'm done with this life."
"Hey, don't be so dramatic. Despair is really not a good look on Bomba." Tugger said.
"We gotta fix this. I can't live like this."
"We will. I'm not happy to be like this either." Tugger sighed. "Let's go back to my place and try to come up with a plan. Maybe Munk will be there too. It's better than standing out in the open waiting for someone to discover us."
Ending the chapter there for now but there will be more coming soon!