{1}

Peter "Particular" Parrot anxiously hovered over the controls to the Petropolis nuclear reactor. He watched all of the display screens intently, making sure nothing went to critical level. Several times he peered over at the wall clock, willing the minute hand to move faster. Any minute now he'd be getting out of here and somebody else could take over his shift at the most boring job in the world.

Already, Peter led a pretty pitiful existence: he still lived in Mama Parrot's basement at age thirty-five and he hadn't had an official date since high school. If Peter had his way, he'd spend all day watching mindless reality TV, twelve more hours than he already did officially.

His eyes widened when he noticed the minute hand hovering over the 5...Almost, almost-

"Don't say a word," a smooth voice whispered in Peter's ear.

Next thing he knew, Peter had an arm wrapped tightly around his neck and the mouth of a laser gun was pointed at his beaked face. This had happened so many times before, Peter sighed heavily and slumped his shoulders. Another insane Petropolis villain looking to put the nuclear reactor past critical level and flood the city with uranium for some asinine, equally crazy reason.

Of course, the villain started dragging Peter towards the controls.

Three, two, one...Peter looked towards the front wall and waited for it to collapse. Things were silent and Peter started frantically counting off the seconds in his head. With each passing second, Peter started growing more and more unnerved. Where was T.U.F.F.?

"You're going to activate the nuclear reactors to go past critical level," the villain hissed, pressing the butt of the gun gruffly against Peter's head. "Now."

Peter yelped and started reaching out for the lever that would do exactly what the villain wanted-

"He will be doing nothing of the sort!" a loud voice announced.

Peter's eyes widened as a brilliantly executed round house kick sent the villain to the floor. The laser gun clattered to the floor and an orange tomcat in a long brown overcoat stepped into the light. Quickly, the tomcat picked up the nameless villain's weapon and pocketed it.

"You really saved my crackers! Thank you!" Peter pumped his rescuer's hand with the usual enthusiasm he gave every TUFF agent.

Once the official "thank you" hand shake was done, Peter returned to his usual boredom.

"I've never seen you before," he said. "Usually TUFF sends that idiot Dudley..."

"I don't work for TUFF," the tomcat said icily.

"Sorry..."

"And Dudley Puppy happens to be my rival."

"Okay..." Peter blinked, unsure of what to say next. "I'm going home now and continuing on with my bland, uneventful life."

"My name's Kool Kat," the tom said with a sharp, canine-filled smile. "Here's my card."

The tom tossed Peter his card and then disappeared into the shadows.

Frowning skeptically, Peter looked at the card:

Kool Kat

Freelance Agent for Stopping Crime

Maybe he could give Kool a call to attend bridge games with Mama Parrot. Dragging a thirty-five year old son to gatherings of old biddies was definitely a crime...

Kitty sat at the desk in her tiny cubicle, absentmindedly chomping away at a tuna sandwich as she watched the clock on her own wall.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Keswick making goo-goo eyes at a female version of his species that Kitty could swear she hadn't known existed. In the office across from hers, the two bear agents, Mr. and Missy Bear, were really chatting it up. Even the chief had found a girl flea actually interested in him and they were wandering around the base, holding hands...

"We're walking around the base, holding hands!" the chief announced through a megaphone. "We're in LOOVE!"

Kitty rolled her eyes. They just had to brag...

Bitterly, she took another huge bite of her sandwich and cursed the creation of Valentine's Day. It was just an excuse for couples to throw their happiness around and make single people feel jealous and stupid for being unattached.

As if her day couldn't get any worse, Dudley appeared outside of Kitty's office with a pretty French poodle girl on his arm, looking up at him with blue eyes. Remembering the Chameleon's previous shenanigans, Kitty instinctively had one of her hands hovering over her holstered laser gun.

"Hey Kitty! This is Frenchy." Dudley motioned at 'Frenchy' and she gave a small wave. "Frenchy, Kitty."

Frenchy stepped forward and extended her perfectly manicured hand. "Bonjour, Kitty. Il est agrĂ©able de vous rencontrer. Comment ĂȘtes-vous aujourd'hui?" she said in perfect, fluent French.

"Bonne, je vous remercie," Kitty replied.

Had the Chameleon been studying up on French? Kitty wasn't about to fall for the same trick twice. Warily, she leaned in closer to Frenchy, narrowing her eyes and studying the French poodle's gaze. Both of Frenchy's eyes were focused, not moving up and down or with any kind of tic like the Chameleon's did. But Kitty still wasn't convinced.

"I can't understand a word she says!" Dudley said with a laugh.

"Je ne peux pas comprendre un mot qu'il dit," Frenchy said, pointing at Dudley and laughing.

"I love her accent!" Dudley continued.

"J'aime son accent," Frenchy said, pinching Dudley's cheek.

They started looking at each other with big, sparkling eyes. Frenchy was pretty much repeating everything Dudley said in English in French. It kind of touched Kitty that their language differences weren't a barrier in forming a relationship, but she was disgusted as soon as Dudley and Frenchy started licking each other with their long, pink tongues.

Slobber was getting everywhere and Kitty had to duck over her sandwich to protect it from drool splatter.

"Get a room!" she complained.

Dudley pulled away from Frenchy, smiling like an idiot. "That's how dogs kiss in France," he said as if it were some cool, textbook fact.

Clutching her sandwich, Kitty dodged around the happy dog couple and raced to the bathroom. Maybe she'd at least find some peace in there if nowhere else today.