Of Cats and Other Things
"Come on, kitty."
A low growl could be heard from under the couch.
"Won't you please come out?"
The two luminous yellow eyes narrowed, and the low, menacing sound didn't stop.
"I'll play with you, kitten."
Seeing the pink hoof intruding into her territory, the cat spat and lashed out at the opposing being. She then shot like a lightning bolt from under the couch and promptly leaped to the top, to get on high ground.
"You confounded creature!" Tabby shrieked, leaping up into a defensive position in front of the couch. "You could at least show a little respect towards me, for Pete's sake! It's not like you'd even be LIVING in this extravagant mansion if it wasn't for ME! To think that I gave up Callie in favor of YOU!"
The sleek Siamese stared with annoyance at the pink unicorn. The pink unicorn stared back. Their gazes locked. The tension in the room steadily rose, but neither of them moved a muscle.
"Okay guys, let's break it up," Thomas stood in the doorway, looking slightly amused by the situation before him. "What seems to be the problem here?"
"That cat of yours is obnoxious," Tabby said venomously.
"I see." Thomas turned to the cat. "Sophia, what do you have to say on the matter?"
"Mrow," Sophia said emphatically, equally convincing.
"So you two still refuse to get along." This was made as a statement rather than a question.
Both the cat and the mare swung their gazes towards the stallion and narrowed their eyes indignantly.
"It's Sophia's fault!" Tabby cried.
"MROW!" Sophia argued.
"Sophia, why don't you run along now?" Thomas patted the cat on the head affectionately. "We need some time alone."
Sophia jumped down from her perch and cocked her eyebrows at Tabby smugly as she purred loudly and rubbed up against her master's legs before she sauntered out of the room. Tabby swore that the creature did it on purpose simply to spite her.
"Did you see that? Did you see that?" Tabby shrieked. "She's out to get me, Thomas! I know she's plotting something against me! I know it!"
"That's why you have to make friends with her, Tabby." Thomas took his wife's foreleg and led her to be seated. "Now just calm down and we'll talk about it."
"There's nothing to talk about," Tabby seethed. "Those cats are obnoxious and they hate me and they won't change."
"This is a completely new environment for them," Thomas said logically. "After they adjust to it, they'll come around."
"They don't have a problem with Elaine, either," Tabby went on ranting. "But for me, no! They just bite and claw and hiss and growl–"
"They don't have claws, Tabby," Thomas interjected reasonably. "They can't claw."
"It's the principle of the thing!"
"You've got to give them time, Tabby."
"It's been months!" Tabby protested. "How long will it take, huh?"
"Well?! You've used every generic excuse available and none of them work!!"
"You might try controlling yourself more when you're around them," Thomas said in a rush. "You're too unpredictable and rash, and they don't like to be taken by surprise."
"Oh." Tabby knew she was unpredictable and rash and prided herself on it, so this statement was taken as a compliment. "But why can't they just take me the way I am?"
"You know cats, Tabby. They are obstinate."
"Not that any of this should be a surprise," Tabby sighed suddenly. "There's never been an animal in my life that really liked me."
"Hey, what makes you say that?" Thomas asked softly.
"It's the way it's always been for me, that's all." Tabby turned her head away. "But I wish that once– just once–"
"Don't say that, Tabby," Thomas said gently. "Of course you get along with animals. You've just been working with Pokémon for such a period of time now you've somewhat forgotten your knack for dealing with... other creatures."
"I never had a knack to begin with," Tabby said sullenly.
"You were a fine veterinarian, Tabby. You couldn't have done as much as you did if you didn't have a knack for it... you're just feeling this way now because you've become more used to Pokémon and they are much easier to communicate with."
"Pokémon always were more cooperative for me," Tabby scowled.
"That may be true, and it's very good if it is. But you can still work with animals if you try."
"Even Sophia and Melinda?"
"Yes, even Sophia and Melinda. As soon as you can find that forgotten talent you've hidden, Tabby, I think everything will work out–"
But it was at that moment that Elaine arrived back at the mansion and dropped in to see what was up. (Thomas' sister was currently residing in the guest cottage of the mansion out back.) Tabby and Thomas' discussion was cut short, but Tabby's attention span was also short so she had soon completely forgotten about her problems with the Siamese as Elaine started talking. At this moment, she could care less if Sophia snuck in and slit her throat one night...
Elaine looked rather flustered this evening. "I don't know how anyone could keep that Baby Noddins under control," she declared. "How can her mother keep from losing her mind?"
"Oh? What did she do this time?" Tabby asked eagerly.
"Well," Elaine sighed, "Toby had asked me to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe this evening. I couldn't really turn him down, you know."
"Uh-huh," Tabby urged her on.
"And then..." Elaine's face started to flush. "...Baby Noddins saw us and came over and– oh, it was so embarrassing!"
"Well, what did she say?"
"Ooh," Elaine groaned. "She started off talking about My Little People, I think– but then she asked Toby if he liked me, and he said he did; and then she asked me if I liked him, and I said something– I don't remember what I said– but then Baby Noddins asked Toby if he was going to ask me to marry him, and he said he might if the circumstances were right; and I think he was only joking, but then she asked when the wedding would be and, oh, I thought I'd just die on the spot." Elaine was babbling hysterically by this point.
"Don't take it too hard, Elaine," Thomas said sympathetically. "Everybody knows what Baby Noddins is like."
"But I don't know how I can ever face him again after this," Elaine said frantically.
"Toby?" Thomas questioned. "But you like him, don't you?"
"I suppose, but what if he was actually serious and–"
"He was just playing along with Baby Noddins," Thomas said calmly. "I doubt he really meant–"
"But what if he did? That's the thing. I never want to see him again," Elaine chattered nervously.
Tabby and Thomas both exchanged a glance. "Elaine," Tabby said hesitantly, "perhaps if you calmed down–"
"I... I'm sorry," Elaine said sheepishly. "I didn't mean to– I just– I–"
Tabby stood up and grabbed the younger mare by the hoof, sensing that Elaine was in need of some guidance from a fellow mare. "Would it help to talk about it?" she asked gently.
Elaine met her gaze. "Yes," she confessed. "I think it would."
"Come on, then. Let's go out to your cottage," Tabby suggested, leading her out of the room. "You can unload your soul to me there."
"Hey, is there anything I can do?" Thomas called after them.
"Just play with your cats," Tabby shot back in a lofty tone before disappearing out the door with Elaine.
* * *
"So, Elaine," Tabby said matter-of-factly, sitting opposite to her at the small table. "What's up with you and Toby?"
"It's... it's... I'm just not sure I want a real relationship with him," Elaine said helplessly. "I mean, I like him and all, but not like that... I don't know. Oh, I just don't know what to do!"
"Have you ever had any boyfriends previously in your life, Elaine?"
"They asked you out but you were nervous and skittish and shy and did everything in your power to avoid them, right?"
"Uh... yeah... I guess you could say that... maybe..."
"I see." Tabby nodded knowingly. "You thought Toby was only a friend and had no romantic interest in you until Baby Noddins so tastefully brought it up this evening, correct?"
Elaine looked up with surprise. "I... I guess that might be it," she admitted.
"And now that you've been made aware that he might be looking for a deeper friendship from you, you've been disturbed again and want to stay as far away as possible from him," Tabby stated.
"You know more about me than I do, Tabby," Elaine laughed nervously.
Tabby ignored the statement. "Is there anything else you'd like to add?"
"I suppose it's been quite obvious to everyone that Toby and I have become a 'couple', hasn't it?" Elaine met Tabby's gaze.
"You might say that."
"I didn't mean for things to go this way. I liked Toby's companionship, and he was so nice, I couldn't just turn down his invitations," Elaine confessed. "But now I'm afraid I'm just leading him on."
"Then why don't you tell him how you feel?"
"It would disappoint him so!" Elaine said in distress. "I couldn't stand letting him down, especially after all this time I've spent with him. I just couldn't!"
"Well," Tabby said thoughtfully, "you have two options: dump him or put up with him."
"Isn't there an in between area?" Elaine said nervously.
"Giving him the cold shoulder may be the only way to tell him to slow down," Tabby advised.
"And it's not that hard," Tabby said supportivly. "You just have to... well, turn down his invitations. If he asks you out to dinner, tell him you have other plans. It's easy, really."
"It's easy for you," Elaine pointed out. "You have an inborn talent for acting cold towards stallions. But I don't know how I could do it!"
"Why, then we can have a practice session!" Tabby said brightly. "I'll coach you. Soon you'll be a pro at turning stallions down!"
"You... think this is the right way to go?" Elaine said slowly.
"Your other two options are continuing to lead him on or to tell him exactly how you feel."
Elaine didn't feel particularly comfortable with coming out with her feelings, so she finally accepted Tabby's suggestion. "Well, how are you going to coach me?"
"I'll pretend to be Toby, asking you out," Tabby giggled. "And you'll just be yourself. Okay?"
"Alright." Tabby smiled and sat up straight. "So, um, Elaine. Want to come with me over to the Estate Manor after work?" she said in her best imitation-Toby voice, which wasn't that good at the moment. She felt awkward using voices besides her own.
"Well, Toby," Elaine said, trying to keep a straight face. "I'd really love to, but I'm afraid there are some other things I wanted to do tonight."
"You wouldn't love to," Tabby corrected. "Just say that there are other things you want to do."
"Well, Toby," Elaine started again. "There are some other things I wanted to do tonight, but maybe some other time..."
"Not some other time!" Tabby said forcefully. "That would just be inviting him to call you again."
Elaine giggled. "Okay. Let me try again." She paused while thinking about her reply. "Well, Toby, there are some other things I wanted to do tonight. Sorry." She looked at Tabby expectantly.
"Better," Tabby grinned. "But what if he came back with..." She paused herself. "Well, what are you doing? Is it anything I can help you with? Packing groceries, perhaps?"
"Umm... I can do it on my own," Elaine responded after a short time had passed.
"Then how about tomorrow night?" Tabby, as Toby, persisted. "Certainly you won't be busy then?"
Elaine rolled her eyes at Tabby. "I think I will be."
"And how about we get married next weekend. You can fit that into your schedule, can't you?"
Elaine glanced once at Tabby and then burst out laughing. "Tabby!" she protested with mock indignation. "He would not say that!!"
"You have to prepare yourself for every possibility," Tabby said mischievously before dissolving into a fit of giggles herself. The laughter was contagious, and soon both girls had lost all sense of seriousness.
When they finally regained their senses some moments later and sat trying to regain their breath, Tabby spoke up. "Well, Elaine. Have all your apprehensions melted away? Are you ready to take anything that Toby throws at you?"
"Yes," Elaine promised. "Thanks, Tabby. I feel a lot better now." But as she watched her sister-in-law trot out into the darkness and back up to the mansion, she couldn't guarantee that those apprehensions wouldn't come back.
* * *
The next afternoon, Tabby got home after a rather boring day at the Pokémon Center. Things had been so slow, and Blue Belle was so eager to prove herself responsible in Tabby's eyes that the volunteer had suggested that she go home early and that she would take care of anyone who did happen to come in. Tabby readily agreed to this, as getting home early would allow her some time alone with the Siamese.
She found the two sisters, Sophia and Melinda, napping in a sunbeam that stretched across the living room couch. She approached them cautiously so as not to disturb them and sat down in a chair opposite to them.
Sophia had already opened one eye and was scrutinizing Tabby suspiciously. Melinda looked up as well, but it was with more curiosity than suspicion that she glanced at the intruder to their territory. Tabby thought that Melinda would be more accepting of her than Sophia; but Sophia was dominant, and Melinda followed her sister's orders.
Tabby sat and looked at them from her vantage point. They were beautiful creatures– sleek and elegant seal-point Siamese with piercing blue eyes– that she would sorely like to be friends with. But they hadn't showed any signs of that happening any time soon.
Sophia jumped emphatically to the floor and headed out of the room. Melinda glanced once more at Tabby but, deciding it best to follow her sister's council, left the area as well. Tabby scowled at them as they disappeared.
Left alone to consider her situation, Tabby pondered Thomas' words from last night. Had she lost her knack with animals? She hadn't even been aware that she had such a thing to begin with. But if it had been lost... how could she regain it?
Tabby picked up her PokéBalls and summoned all her Pokémon out, just to reassure herself that they still understood her. Raichu promptly jumped on her back and urged her forward, as if he were her rider. Vaporeon and Jigglypuff got into a singing competition, and Hitmonlee challenged an unwilling Oddish to a kicking competition while Mr. Mime promptly set to cleaning the whole place.
Tabby carefully set Raichu on the ground and addressed the congregation. "Okay, guys. You all think I'm a good Pokémon trainer, don't you?"
"Die! Puff! LEE! Oddish, oddish. Mime, mister mime! Vapor," came the affirmative answers.
"And I'm a good Pokémon nurse, right?"
The consensus showed that she was.
"And I understand Pokémon, don't I?"
They all agreed.
"But what about regular animals? Shouldn't they get along with me, too?"
At this, her Pokémon drew a blank. "Regular" animals were a foreign topic to them, and they could give her no definite answer.
"Hmm," Tabby frowned, and let her Pokémon run free a little while longer before calling them back to their PokéBalls.
At least, she consoled herself, she was still good with Pokémon. But what if she had lost her knack with other creatures? How was she to get it back?
* * *
Elaine entered her cottage later that same afternoon after returning from work to find the phone ringing. She caught it and answered with a breathless "Hello?"
"Hello, Elaine," Toby's cheerful voice came over the line.
"Oh..." Elaine said hesitantly. "Who's calling, please?" Of course she knew who it was, but she thought she'd try using Tabby's advice to– she gulped– brush him off.
Toby let out a short laugh. "It's Toby. You remember me, don't you?"
"Ah... yes," Elaine stuttered, wondering what to add to that.
"So..." Toby sensed a loss of companionship from the mare. "I'm actually called you with an invitation."
"What kind of an invitation?" Elaine said briefly.
"There's a new play being done in town on Saturday. I have tickets... would you like to go with me?"
"I'm... afraid I'm busy that night." Elaine shut her eyes as she said this.
"I see." Toby's mood noticeably dropped. "Well then... perhaps another time."
"Perhaps," Elaine echoed.
"Ah... I guess I've kept you long enough," Toby said uncomfortably. Elaine didn't seem interested in continuing the conversation. "Goodnight, Elaine."
"Goodnight," Elaine said shortly, and hung up the phone quickly. Then she collapsed in a nearby chair and thought about what she had just done.
She hated disappointing Toby like that, but she didn't want to lead him on thinking she was ready for a relationship. But how could she ever say that to him directly? Her cheeks burned at the thought.
This brush-off had been a bit awkward, and she wasn't sure it was quite what Tabby had in mind. And oh, what would she do if she ran into Toby in person? The whole affair was deeply troubling her; and hoping it would just go away if she kept busy, she headed to the mansion to work on preparing supper.
* * *
"Hewwo, Twabby," Baby Noddins said cheerfully, staring up at her role-model.
Tabby stared down at the pest in return. "What are you doing here?" she said bluntly.
"Visitin'," Baby Noddins said innocently, looking behind her into the darkness of the night. "May I come in?"
Tabby threw up her hooves in despair, and Baby Noddins took that as a "yes". The baby pony trotted inside the mansion curiously. "Is Ewaine here?"
"No, Baby Noddins. She's out back in her cottage for the evening," Tabby said shortly.
"Does she really do all the cookin' for yah?" Baby Noddins looked at her expectantly. "Is that why she lives out in the slave quarters?"
"She is not our slave," Tabby snapped. "She just happens to do all the cooking."
"Oh. But I thought she lived in the slave quarters." Baby Noddins peered around Tabby and down the hallway.
"That is the guest cottage, Baby Noddins."
"Is that a kitty?" Baby Noddins questioned, pointing behind Tabby at Sophia, who was sitting on the floor watching the two.
Tabby turned around. "Yes, that's a kitty."
"Can I play with her?" Not waiting for an answer, Baby Noddins pushed past Tabby and knelt by Sophia. "Oh, she's nice, ain't she?" Surprisingly, Sophia permitted the baby pony to pet her without growing agitated.
"Yeah," Tabby scowled. Sophia was behaving better for the obnoxious brat than she ever had for her! "Baby Noddins, is there anything else you wanted to say while you were here?"
Baby Noddins considered this. "Yes," she stated. "Toby said I upset Ewaine the other night. Tamara said so, too."
"You went to visit Tamara, too?"
"She has kitties too, yah know," Baby Noddins explained. "Ewaine ain't mad, is she?"
"No, not really," Tabby sighed. "I don't suppose. She's just disturbed."
"Really?" Baby Noddins abandoned Sophia and peered around the next corner, which led into a huge open room. A grand staircase rose up on each side and led to the second floor. "Ooh, Tabby," she breathed. "You got a nice house! Anyway... what was I sayin'? Oh, yeah. Well, does Ewaine really like Toby? She didn't say when I asked 'em, yah see."
Tabby rolled her eyes. "Perhaps she didn't say anything because she didn't want to reveal anything to you."
Baby Noddins' eyes lit up. "You mean she really does like him?"
Tabby sighed. "Let's talk about something else, Baby Noddins."
"Okay!" she said eagerly. "What you wanna talk about? Say, you and Thomas gonna have a baby yet?"
"Baby Noddins!" Tabby gasped. "Be quiet!"
"Your kids'll have last names, won't they?" Baby Noddins realized. "Can I marry one of 'em, Tabby?"
"Heaven forbid having you as a daughter-in-law," Tabby muttered.
"You mean you'd be my mommy then?" Baby Noddins looked pleased at the prospect. "Cool!"
Tabby groaned inwardly. Baby Noddins was a menace; there were no two ways about it. "Shouldn't you be getting home–"
"Nope," Baby Noddins said confidently. "Can I see the rest a' the house, Twabby? Pretty pwease? Where's Thomas, anyway?"
Where was Thomas, indeed! Tabby wondered to herself. Surely he couldn't expect her to put up with Baby Noddins on her own!
* * *
Baby Noddins was eventually dragged out of the mansion, and life continued on as usual for several days– Tabby was constantly at odds with the cats, and Elaine was trying to mentally justify her intentions of dumping Toby. All-in-all, life was pretty normal.
On this particular occasion, Tabby was trying her best at communicating with Sophia. "Come on," she said pleadingly, stretching her hoof out a little further towards the cat. "Can't you be nice for once?"
Sophia began to growl.
Sophia spat and backed away. Tabby sighed. She wasn't getting anywhere fast, that was for sure.
* * *
It was nearing the end of Elaine's day at the clinic when an unexpected visitor came for her– Toby. "Hello," he said cordially. "I haven't interrupted anything, have I?"
"No, I was just finishing..." The words came out of Elaine's mouth before she could stop them.
Toby jumped at the opportunity. "Well then, could I have the honor of walking you home?"
Elaine fumbled with the files she was carrying. "Umm... well... actually, I've already made an appointment at the Perm Shoppe," she fibbed.
"I see." Toby stared at the floor. "You seem to be hard to get a hold of these days, Elaine."
"Oh... uh... just busy, I guess," Elaine said nervously. "But, I've got to get going, so... bye!" She hurried to the door.
Toby stared after her remorsefully; and Sugarberry, still at the desk, felt terrible for the poor stallion. "Is anything the matter, Toby?" she spoke softly, knowing full well what it was that was troubling him.
Toby didn't answer directly. "The Perm Shoppe is the other way," he murmured aloud before exiting himself.
* * *
Elaine blushed furiously as she strode purposefully home. Toby must really care about me, she realized. I really hoped that he didn't. But... oh... I don't know what else to do! I wish Mom were here, she added miserably.
Not that she didn't respect Tabby's suggestions or anything; but her mother would be the only one she would really trust the most in a matter such as this. Not that Elaine could get through to her very easily, seeing as both her parents had disappeared in a boat wreck several years ago.
Elaine tried to think things out for herself again before she started remembering her mom too much. I'm just too shy for this whole dating thing, she thought remorsefully. Toby's so awfully nice, but I just can't think about him actually being in love with me. Oh, and I'm going to break his heart because of it! I don't know what to do!
Elaine sighed again. She supposed she could go to Tabby again, or even Thomas. But she hardly wanted to bother them with her problems, and she wasn't even sure she wanted to talk about it herself. Things would work out... somehow.
* * *
Though Elaine pretended that nothing was wrong, Tabby was keenly aware that her problems with Toby had not been resolved. She wondered if she should corner Elaine about it again, but decided against it. Elaine might want to work it out herself now. Thomas knew what was going on as well, and Sugarberry had gleaned some information from Tabby (parts of which she was not particularly happy to know); but they too had decided to stay out of it... for now.
But that still left Tabby and the cats. She had decided to give up on them and submitted herself to the fact that she would have to live with two murderous felines for the rest of her life. But neither side knew that something would happen soon that would greatly change their lives.
After being practically pushed out of the Pokémon Center by Blue Belle early once more, Tabby had the house all to herself... again. But as soon as she stepped through the front door, she sensed that something was amiss.
It seemed unusually quiet. Cats generally did not make a lot of noise, but today there was something wrong. Tabby could feel it... only she couldn't quite figure out exactly what it was.
It was then that she heard a frantic and steady thumping coming from the second floor. Tabby was immediately alert and dashed up the right side of the grand staircase. She stood at the top and strained to hear exactly where the thumping was coming from.
"MROW!" an anxious voice reached her ears. She looked down, and saw Melinda walking towards her from out of one of the guest bedrooms. "Mrow, mrow," the cat added urgently.
This in itself was a surprise to Tabby; the Siamese never acknowledged her presence. "What's wrong, kitty?" she asked softly, kneeling down.
"Mrow," Melinda said, walking back to the doorway and looking around at Tabby. "Mrow." She urged the pony to follow.
Tabby realized then the absence of Sophia and was immediately frightened that something dreadful might have happened to Melinda's sister. She followed the cat quickly into the room, almost afraid of what she would find.
Sophia, as it turned out, was still very much alive and also the source of the thumping. While playing with one of her toys in the room, Sophia had chased it behind a bookcase; and while trying to bat it back out, she had succeeded in trapping her paw between the wall and the back of the case. She was now struggling frantically to free herself. There was a panicked look in her eyes.
Melinda perched herself on top of the bookcase and looked endearingly at Tabby. "Oh, poor Sophia!" Tabby cried out. "You're gonna be okay, kitty. Just hang on." She tugged on the bookcase and with a little effort moved it slightly away from the wall. Sophia, finally finding herself free from her entrapment, quickly started to run from the room; but Tabby was quick and, surprisingly, caught her.
"You poor thing!" Tabby said compassionately, holding the struggling cat tightly. "How long were you trapped there? Oh, you poor thing!" The cat's right front foreleg had a considerable amount of fur rubbed off from the struggle, and red irritated skin now showed. "Let me fix you up, okay?" Tabby murmured while trotting back down the steps with her bundle.
Melinda followed Tabby, still in a state of agitation. She watched with wide eyes as the unicorn washed and dressed her sister's wound, and then patted her on the head. "There. You're going to be okay now, you see?" she spoke reassuringly.
Even after the display of kindness, Sophia's only thought was to get away; and as soon as Tabby set her down, she was off. Melinda ran after, concerned for the well-being of her sibling.
Tabby watched them go and shook her head. "I went through all that for them, and they'll still hate me," she mused.
* * *
"Ah... good evening, Tabby," Toby said hesitantly as he stopped at the bottom of the porch steps.
"Hello, Dr. Toby," Tabby said rather flatly, perched on the railing while watching her Pokémon eat their dinner.
"You and Thomas are doing fine, I presume?"
"Yes. So what did you come here for?" Tabby did not feel like exchanging small talk.
Toby sighed. "I don't know. It's not even your problem. I just..." He trailed off.
"Well, what is it?" Tabby persisted, turning to face him.
"Oh, I just want to know why Elaine doesn't like me any more!" he burst out suddenly.
"Sure, just come to me for all your problems in romance," Tabby said sarcastically. "Certainly I know all in that department. Tabby, the one who revels in turning a cute stallion down. Tabby, the one who looks with distaste upon flowers sent to her. Tabby, the one–"
Toby was ignoring her. "We were getting along just fine; but this past week, she's been giving me the cold shoulder!" He said miserably. "I'd just like to know what I did, but she won't give me the time of day."
"Ah, yes. That's what I told her to do." Tabby stopped her ranting and looked quite solemnly at him.
"It's quite simple, really," Tabby said patiently. "You've only scared her out of her wits by paying attention to her."
"What?" Toby repeated himself as a very confused look crossed his face.
"Her emotions are very fragile, you see. She isn't comfortable dealing with flattery, especially from interested stallions." She looked at him pointedly. "It embarrasses her."
"Oh," Toby murmured, still not exactly clear.
"So," Tabby said cheerfully, "I suggested she start turning down your invitations in order to get rid of you."
"Then it really is my fault," Toby said glumly.
"Naturally, yes," Tabby agreed.
"Can I still make it up to her, Tabby."
"Hmm," Tabby considered this. "First, you have to learn to be careful not to praise her or to pay special attention to her. That is what drives her away."
"But... what do you mean, she can't handle praise or attention?" Toby demanded. "They're– isn't it what everyone craves?"
"Yes, but for someone as delicate as Elaine, they also cause squeamishness," Tabby said solemnly.
"Will she ever talk to me again?"
"Yes, I think she might," Tabby reflected. "But be careful in what you say to her. Don't make her uncomfortable. Blushing is a bad sign. Don't make her blush, whatever you do."
"Alright," Toby said a little skeptically. "But how am I even going to get her to listen to me now? Do you think there's still a chance for me, Tabby?"
"How am I supposed to know?" Tabby slanted her eyes and blinked.
"Oh, Elaine... so gentle, and caring, and kind..." Toby had already slipped out of this dimension and was leaning on the railing, staring off into the darkness ahead of him.
"Hey, I didn't mention it, but if you want to get a word in with her, I believe she's taking a stroll up the lane right now," Tabby said calmly.
Toby blinked and came back into reality. "Really?" he said excitedly. "I mean– should I go to her now?"
"Sure. You can win her over," Tabby shrugged. "Just remember: don't make her blush."
"Okay," Toby nodded quickly. "I'll do that... and, uh, thanks, Tabby."
"Don't mention it," Tabby mumbled, calling back her Pokémon who had all been rather quiet that evening. "But that's a fifty jangle fee you've just incurred."
* * *
"Tabby, what happened to Sophia?" Thomas asked upon Tabby's entrance back into the house. He was looking at his cat's bandaged foreleg in bewilderment.
"Oh. I forgot to say anything about that, didn't I?" Tabby recalled. "Yes. She just very nearly killed herself."
"Okay, what happened?"
"She," Tabby said patiently, "got her paw stuck behind a bookcase. I saved her and she doesn't even care."
"No wonder she wasn't around much this evening," Thomas mused. "And she let you bandage her?"
"No, she didn't let me, but I did it anyway," Tabby said flippantly.
"I see." Thomas looked from Sophia to Tabby. "Perhaps–"
"And no, my knack isn't returning, because I never had such a thing to begin with," Tabby said stubbornly before breezing up the stairs to check the auctions she was currently high bidder on.
* * *
By Elaine's mood the next day, Tabby judged that things had gone well with Toby last night. She supposed that this was probably a good thing, even if she had to put up with Toby staring off into space whenever Elaine was mentioned.
Tabby was having more problems, however, getting increasingly annoyed by Blue Belle's behavior. You'd think she could be a little more discreet about it, she sulked after virtually being evicted early from the center once again. Blue Belle's words echoed in her mind: You go on home, Tabby. I can take care of everything here. You've been working so much lately as it is.
"She thinks she can just come through and take over the whole place," Tabby muttered to herself. "I ought to fire her. Except that she's just a volunteer." Blue Belle was really only trying to get on Tabby's good side and wanted to show her superior that she was a capable pony; but all she was succeeding in doing was making Tabby feel that her position was threatened.
Tabby was rather bored, and had nothing to do being home alone. Seeing Sugarberry's latest novel laying on the coffee table, she picked it up and began to read as there was nothing more appealing to do. Of course, she'd already read the thing about two million times before; she had read over Sugarberry's shoulder when she was still typing it on the computer and had always harped on her friend to write more.
Getting into the book, Tabby found herself once more rooting for Dreamy. She didn't think that was what Sugarberry had hoped to inspire in her readers, as this particular reporter was ridiculing the police chief, who just happened to be the brother-in-law of the main character. But, for some reason, Tabby didn't particularly like the police chief.
Tabby's mind then began to wander off the actual content of the book. Woodlawn... that was the town Sugarberry was writing about. The real Woodlawn was also Vanguard's hometown. Of course, Sugarberry had started writing about her Woodlawn long before she'd met Vanguard. Tabby thought it to be rather interesting. Those two must have been destined to be together, or something like that.
The sunbeam she was sitting in began to deaden her senses, and she next began to think about Vanguard's situation over in Italy. So it was because of a cheating scam he'd run off like that. Couldn't he still have proposed to Sugarberry before he left? As it was, he'd left Sugarberry as easy prey for stallions such as Wigwam and Giorgio and Toby. Sugarberry was a sucker when it came to stallions with sad stories.
Next on Tabby's train of thought was how many drastic changes there had been in couples over the past few years and how interesting it all was. First there had been Quarterback and Sugarberry; Tex had always been there pining for Tabby; Thomas came to town, and Tiffany was hung up on him; but then Tiffany fell for Toby, and Tabby got Thomas...
Tabby soon found herself nearly asleep, and the book dropped to the floor as she leaned back into the corner of the couch. And then, she calculated drowsily, Sugarberry met Vanguard and Quarterback got in good with Merry Moments, and Tamara hooked up with Tex...
On the floor, two Siamese were watching her with interest. Sophia looked from her bandaged paw to Tabby; and hesitating for only a moment, she leapt gracefully up onto the couch. Her sister followed soon after. Both made themselves comfortable next to Tabby.
"Nice kitties," Tabby mumbled incoherently. "Then Tiffany took Guido, and Clare was left with no one but Vanguard which might spell bad news for Sugarberry..." With the relaxing presence of the cats next to her, Tabby could soon no longer keep her eyes open and fell asleep mumbling names to herself.
Sophia looked at her as if she were a lunatic, but a lunatic that perhaps was not so bad as she had thought. She tucked her head back down into the furry coil she made with her body and soaked up more of the life-giving beams of nourishing energy... or sunbeams, as non-felines called them...
And that was how Thomas found them when he arrived home. It was a nice scene and one that he would remember for a long time. "You did find your knack, Tabby," he said quietly to the room. "I knew you had it in you." And bending down, he kissed her gently.
Sophia opened her eyes, stretched, and leaped down to the floor, her actions conveying that nothing spectacular had happened. By her feline reasoning, her dominion remained intact. After all, she had just gained a new and obedient slave to do her bidding.