Almost done with the story! Thanks for reading along and staying with me so far!


"Please be at home, please don't be anywhere else." Tugger pleaded to the air as he ran across the junkyard.

If Quaxo wasn't at his den then he would have no place to start looking. Well, maybe it would make sense to look in Quaxo's den, but something was telling him that Quaxo wouldn't find solace there. There wasn't time to think about it, only time to act.

He was right. As soon as Tugger's den came within earshot he could hear muffled sobs coming from within. Quietly Tugger approached, trying not to startle the cat hiding inside.

Everything was a mess. Blankets were shredded, little trinkets Tugger had collected from the junkyard were smashed and dented, it looked like a wild animal had sought vengeance upon his home. In the middle of his bed was a shivering pile of rags.

"Quaxo." The name sounded wrong. Stubbornly Tugger said it anyways, hoping that it would bring the tom back to reality, if only for a moment.

A moment was all he needed, a moment of clarity, and then surely there was something he could do to snap Quaxo out of the torment he was putting himself through. Because that's what he was obviously doing. There was no one else around, just Quaxo, just Quaxo fighting against himself to such an extent that he would willingly lock part of his own self away to win.

Quaxo shuddered under the blanket. With pained difficulty he managed to turn and whisper.

"Help me." The words mirrored Pounce's previous plea.

Tugger faltered in the doorway, the last shreds of his own self preservation halting his steps. This was his last chance to turn around, go get Munkustrap, and find another way to put an end to the out of control magician. No one would blame him for wanting to save his own skin. Even Quaxo would understand. This was undoubtedly a dangerous situation. Anybody would expect him to make the sane decision.

Of course, Tugger never did what was expected. That was his whole thing.

"Tell me what to do." With little regard for the sparks of electricity flickering at his feet he knelt down next to Quaxo, just shy of actually touching the tom.

"Stop me." Quaxo's claws steadily shredded the blanket around his shoulders. "I'm slipping- I- I can't stay-"

Quaxo's fur wasn't sparkling anymore. It was glowing, giving him an iridescent shimmer that was steadily growing brighter and brighter. The temperature around them was rising. Tugger could feel the humidity in the air, the telltale signs of an incoming electrical storm, and judging by the way his fur stood on end it was going to be a big one.

"It's happening so fast, it hurts so much-" Quaxo grabbed his head and curled in on himself.

All around him the blankets started to glow and become charged with pure magical energy. Dimly Tugger realized that there was no way his den was going to survive whatever happened next. Their best bet would be to get outside in the open where hopefully there would be plenty of space for whatever happened next.

"Tugger!" Quaxo dug his claws into his fur, eyes flickering white. His voice turned into a painful, drawn out whine.

"Stop fighting it!" Tugger reached out to him. "You're hurting yourself, just stop trying to fight- ouch!"

Much like when he had touched Pounce he was immediately bit with a painful jolt of electricity, prompting him to pull his paw back and shake it. Unlike the time with Pounce the electricity didn't leave Tugger, instead traveling up his arm and settling in his chest with an odd tingle.

While the initial contact hurt the following touches didn't, allowing Tugger to move in again and hug Quaxo to him, ignoring the literal sparks arching between them. If it didn't hurt then it could be dealt with later, after he figured out how to help Quaxo fight… well, fight himself.

Himself. Quaxo was fighting against himself.

The presence, the being that he was so afraid of, it wasn't a malevolent entity trying to take him over, it was his own magic manifested through fearful neglect. Quaxo had literally locked part of himself away, tried to control his magic by pushing the overwhelming part to the back of his mind, and couldn't recognize it when that part grew and started pushing back.

Now it was time to put all the pieces back together.

"We have to go outside." Tugger said as the walls began to shake. "We need more room to move."

The cat in his arms let out a choked sob, shaking wildly in his arms. "I'm not- I can't be- I can't-"

"You are. You can. You can handle this. Stop fighting yourself."

"I don't know how-"

"You do. Let me help."

Before the tom could protest Tugger scooped him up into his arms, swiftly carrying him outside to stand in an open area where there hopefully wouldn't be much collateral damage. The sky was black, angry storm clouds rolling above them, the threat of a downpour hanging over their heads.

It was just the two of them out here. Just them and nothing else. Tugger gently set Quaxo on his own two feet, holding him by the elbows to keep him standing.

"You can do this. You know what you need to do." He said, echoing Tantomile's words from before. "You've been practicing all this time with Pounce."

"I'm… I'm scared, Tugger." Quaxo blinked up at him through hazy eyes, voice distant. "I don't want to hurt you like I hurt Pounce."

"You won't." This was where they were supposed to be. Together, just the two of them, with no one else.

"Tugger, I-" Quaxo flinched again, digging his claws into Tugger's arms.

Thunder boomed in the distance. There was no more time to try and convince Quaxo that he could save himself. One more minute and they would both be fried by the chaotic magical energy.

Quaxo flinched again, sending another wave of magical energy through Tugger and briefly making both of their fur glow with sparkling light. It was a pretty neat trick, maybe one that could be repeated in the future if they both made it out of this alive.

No, not if. When. It was important to be confident. If Quaxo needed the confidence boost to perform the magic he needed to save himself then Tugger would become that source of confidence.

"You can do this." Tugger repeated. "I trust you. Trust yourself."

Quaxo nodded and closed his eyes, entire body glowing with barely suppressed magical energy. Then it started to rain. After everything Tugger had seen it wasn't a surprise that the rain didn't seem to touch Quaxo's fur, instead falling all around him, but it was surprising to realize that he too wasn't being bothered by the rain. This time he was included in the moment.

Quaxo was moving away from him. No, not away, around him. With surprisingly gentle touches Tugger was being moved in a specific pattern, a rhythm, directed in a familiar dance to an unheard melody. This was the dance that Quaxo had been trying to teach Pounce, a dance that was not meant for them.

It was a dance meant for Tugger and… and….

Mistoffelees.

The name settled into his mind, finally ready to be spoken. Tugger let go of all rational thought and let his body take over. He always did his best when he improvised. A swing of the hips here, a little swagger there, and he was dancing in between the drops of rain like a pro. His partner, however, was on an entirely different level.

The being was still a cat, still a tuxedo tom, but moved like no one had ever moved before. Gravity and the normal laws of reality did not apply to him as he leapt and twirled and flowed around the space, sending small waves of magical energy through the ground whenever his feet did decide to make contact. Trails of multicolored light followed in his wake, thunder rolled overhead, and little by little the tom settled back into himself.

If he wasn't compelled to dance Tugger could have spent an eternity watching the tom move on his own. Never was there a sight so beautiful until now. But there wasn't time to stand around. Instinct was telling him to draw closer, to reach out and complete the bond that had been steadily growing between them.

Briefly Tugger hesitated, remembering Pounce's wail of agony and the horror in his eyes when Quaxo had tried to bond with him. Just one wrong move and Tugger would end up meeting the same fate. The being he danced with was beautiful but also dangerous. Was it worth it to take this chance?

Yes. It was worth it. Now was his cue.

There would be no gentle touching of paws. Tugger was taking no chances this time. With a flourish he reached out and pulled the tom to him, bending down and punctuating the moment with all the passion and flair he could muster.

It would had been an impressive kiss on its own, but of course the universe decided to add a little extra pizzazz to the moment. An enormous lightning bolt crashed down upon them, shaking the earth beneath their feet and whiting out everything in sight. Everything went silent.

Tugger felt his body seize with the sudden onslaught of pure, unrestrained, wild magic, threatening to burn him from the inside out. Every fiber of his being was immediately overwhelmed, help him, this was too much, this was going to tear him up from inside out, how could he withstand it, he was going to die, how could he handle it alone-

-he wasn't alone. Tugger felt his partner pull away, could sense movement, and suddenly the painful fire coursing through him was a manageable warmth. It was still a little uncomfortable, a little strange, but Tugger no longer wanted to run and hide. Now he could act as a proper catalyst for Quaxo's transformation.

The being in his arms kissed him again. Slowly he felt the warmth fade as the magic receded, coursing through him and back into the being it belonged to. It was a little disappointing feeling the magic leave, knowing that it had only been a temporary bond, but it was for the best. Somehow Tugger knew that while he would enjoy having such power it would eventually consume him. Better to leave the magic to someone who could handle it.

The rain slowed its fall. The dark clouds dissipated, letting the clear light of the moon shine through. A new sort of silence, a more peaceful one, settled around them as all the tension in the air disappeared with the last of the storm.

It was over. They had made it through.

Tugger stared down at the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. The tuxedo tom was smiling, fur sparkling and glowing, full of happiness and wild energy and life, oh, he looked so alive, so complete, it was bewitching how free he looked.

This was who Tugger had been waiting for all his life and he didn't even know it until now.

"Mistoffelees." Tugger purred in his ear, soothing the wild magic and sending a calming tingle through them both. "I'm here."

...

Once again he was in the storm. A storm that, inherently, he knew he was the cause of. A terrible rainstorm of magnificent proportions, called forth from his own inclinations, a storm that threatened to consume not only him but everything around him. Lightning crashed down all around, each bolt blasting a permanent scar into the earth. It was too much to contain, too much to control-

No. It wasn't too much to contain this time. This time he had full control. There was no reason to fear himself or his magical abilities.

So he didn't. He threw caution to the wind and let the magical energy flow through him, igniting every fiber of his being with a wild electricity that made him feel so alive, so free, so himself. He danced freely between the raindrops, fur alight with the white hot magic running along his skin. This was how he was meant to be. No more hiding what he was. No more restraint.

And he wasn't alone. Tugger was with him.

Tugger was watching him through it all, careful to stay out of harm's way but brave enough to stand in the potential line of fire. Tugger's very presence was enough to curb the literal storm around them, offering a loving shelter among the chaos.

Hungrily he reached for the tom. This was all he wanted, all he craved, and without a second's thought he was in Tugger's arms. This is where he belonged, their bodies pressed up against one another, holding each other so tightly it was impossible to tell where one being ended and the other began, he wasn't lost anymore, he was found, he was whole.

Their first kiss was, predictably, as dramatic as possible, but it was Tugger who was involved. Briefly it appeared that Tugger wouldn't be able to handle the transfer of magic, the surge of power he was given, but again, this was Tugger, and stubbornly the tom made it through.

It was enough to help settle the storm within himself and sort out the magic that he had once locked away, pushed out of sight due to pure fear of what he may become if he grew too powerful. Tugger had helped him realize his full potential, had helped him become what he was supposed to be.

Tugger had freed him from himself and now he was complete.

Well, almost. There was one more thing to sort out, a matter of his name, a name that he always knew would eventually be his.

"Mistoffelees." Tugger purred in his ear, soothing the wild magic and sending a calming tingle through his burning limbs. "I'm here."

Mistoffelees. That was his name. It was his name and not the name of some malevolent entity that was trying to possess his mind. It was the representation of everything Quaxo had wanted to be, a being completely free of self doubt, full of confidence and poise and control and life-

Well, maybe not complete control. While every part of his mind and magic had been unlocked and combined back into one being there was still a lot to learn. Magic was a fickle creature that could never be truly tamed. Now it was a part of him again, giving him a world of possibilities that he never realized, a freedom to be exactly what he wanted to be, to reach up and beyond the limits of reality and- and-

And all he wanted right now was to be in Tugger's arms. Again he reached for the tom even though they were already as close as they could physically be. To be held, to be wanted, to be here, this was where he was supposed to be.

...

Tugger was a little sad to see the magical light fade from the tuxedo's fur but was more preoccupied with catching the tom before he collapsed in the surrounding mud. The performance had clearly done its job but also had taken its toll, leaving Quaxo exhausted-

No, not Quaxo. Wait, yes. No? It was Quaxo. It was Mistoffelees. Both of them-

No, not both. There never was two. It was just one. It had always been one.

"Mistoffelees?" Tugger tried out the new name, smiling a little when the cat in question flicked an ear against his fur.

"Sounds..." The gaze that met his own was slightly glazed over.

"Wrong?" Tugger asked.

"No. Sounds right." Mistoffelees blinked. "It's the right name."

"It suits you."

"I suppose. But I'll miss being called Quaxo."

"No reason to stop calling you that as well." Tugger shrugged. "After all, the naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn't just one of your holiday games-"

"Stop." A paw lightly smacked his chest. "I have nothing left to defend myself against your words."

"Sorry, Misto."

"Misto?"

"Yeah, you like it?"

Mistoffelees mulled it over, settling down in Tugger's arms. Tugger took the opportunity to move them both to a less scorched, drier part of the junkyard. Their magic thunder dance really did a number on the surrounding area.

"Better than Sparkles, I suppose." Misto eventually conceded.

"Oh, I'm still going to call you that too. Need to change things up every now and then."

"Wonderful."

"I also might have told Munk and Tantomile that nickname too."

"Fantastic. I can't wait to hear them-" The mention of their names made Misto freeze. "Munkustrap and Tantomile. Where are they?"

"With Pounce."

All traces of relief and amusement vanished at the name. Tugger watched Misto's face crumple in grief.

"Pounce, I- I killed him." Misto stammered, clutching his head again. "Oh, Tugger, I-"

"No, no you didn't!" Tugger hastily interrupted, taking Misto's paws in his own before he could hurt himself. "Pounce isn't dead, he's still alive!"

"What?" The question was a whisper.

"He's still alive. But he's in real bad shape." That didn't even begin to cover it. "He did some weird thing and put himself into a coma, but then… something happened."

"What happened?"

"I can't even begin to explain it." Tugger tried to reconcile the sight of the monstrous tom into words. "Just… he's hurting. Munk and the others are with him."

"Pounce." Misto whispered. "I have to help him."

"You're the only one who can." Tugger confirmed. "Can you make it to Coricopat and Tantomile's den?"

"Yes. Even if you have to drag me."

"How about I carry you instead?" Tugger asked. "I seem to be pretty good at doing that lately."

"We are going to have a lot to talk about once this is over." Misto muttered, easily settling into Tugger's arms once more.

There was a little spark of hope in that statement, a little bit of assurance that despite all the chaos and trauma they had been through there was still a sliver of normalcy in the future. Well, as normal as anyone could get. Tugger never cared much for the mundane.

"Tugger, I'm sorry." Misto murmured as Tugger carried him towards Coricopat and Tantomile's den. "I'm sorry for everything, I know what the others will say-"

"Don't." Tugger held him a little tighter. "We can talk about all this later. Just focus on helping Pounce. I'll take care of the others."

Just how he'd go about it wasn't really clear but he'd cross that bridge when they got to it. Better to just take care of things one step at a time. Tugger could handle Munk and the other jellicles but a potentially monstrous, out of control Pounce was far beyond his abilities.

"Uh, Misto." Tugger said, remembering the bottomless look in Pounce's eyes. "There's something about Pounce you should know."

"What?"

"Something happened."

"What happened?"

"I can't… I don't know how to explain it. Just… be careful." As expected his words did nothing to help the confusing conversation.

Before they knew it they were standing outside Coricopat and Tantomile's den. Tugger lingered outside, savoring the last moments he had with Mistoffelees before they entered.

"Put me down." Misto said, trying to stand tall on his own feet.

Together they listened for any sounds of distress from inside the den. It was far too quiet.

"Ready?" Tugger asked.

"No." Misto whispered.

"Me neither." Tugger admitted. "But might as well see what's going on."

Who knew what would be waiting for them inside. There was only one way to find out.