Quaxo and Tugger
I wrote myself a little fic on the subject of only Tugger knowing Quaxo is Mistoffelees to make myself like the International Tour version a little more.
There was something off about the newcomer.
Oh, he was perfectly polite. Far too polite, for Tugger’s tastes. He had come to the Junkyard the way many did: scurrying after Bustopher Jones’ fluffy pantaloons, far too skinny but belly round from a fine meal. Bustopher had introduced this one with great flair, bragging about him as if he had not just met him a few days prior.
“Coaxed him out from under the dumpster behind The Stage and Screen,” Tugger had heard Bustopher whisper to an attentive Jellylorum and Jennyanydots. “Young lad had some taste in location, at the very least.”
The portly tom had announced his new find as Quaxo.
Now that alone was ridiculous, to Tugger. Clearly this tom did not have a First Name, as he was a stray. Yet Quaxo could not be a Second Name. A Second Name required at least three syllables. Pointing this out to all the others, however, got Tugger nowhere. They were all enamored with the young tom, who was all “yessir” and “please” and “thank you”. They treated him like an innocent kitten, though he was clearly as old as Plato, who was already training to be a protector. Granted, he was a third Plato’s size, so that did not help matters any.
“You’re just annoyed he is not fawning over you,” Bomba accused the fourth — or maybe fifth — time Tugger had complained to her about the matter.
“That’s not true,” Tugger huffed, but the fact that Quaxo never did anything but stare with those big blue eyes when he came around did sting. “There’s just something off about him.”
He smelled the way the holes humans had on their walls to attach cords he Was Not Supposed to Chew did. Tugger would spot him somewhere and the next moment he would be gone. When Tugger watched him for too long, he went blurry at the edges, like the shadows were reaching for him.
“Leave the poor kit alone,” Bomba said, bopping his nose with her paw. “He’s not hurting anybody.”
“He’s not a kit,” Tugger complained loudly, but Bomba had already sauntered off with a dismissive flick of her tail.
So perhaps ignoring her advice all together and following Quaxo was a little extreme. Tugger, however, was a curious cat — huh, he liked the ring of that — and could not help himself. Even if everyone else thought he was being dramatic, there was something different about this newcomer, and he was determined to find out what it was.
It was two full moons before the Jellicle Ball when he discovered that he had been very, very right.
Quaxo would often disappear in the hours before dawn. He would slip out of the little den he had built inside of a discarded suitcase and go somewhere. Every time Tugger had tried to follow him, he had gone a different way, and each time he had given Tugger the slip.
Tugger, however, was more clever than most gave him credit for. Each path Quaxo took all led to the same place. It was the roof of a squat building the humans who managed the junkyard used, though none had come to it in years. It was one of the few wide open spaces the junkyard offered.
Tugger climbed a pile of junk until he had a clear view, hunkered down, and waited.
What he saw was unlike anything he had ever even imagined. Tiny Quaxo scaled his way up the building on a pipe, surveyed the roof, and then shook all the white of his fur off.
Well, not all of it. His cute little face stayed white, and a tuft on his chest. All the rest, however, had turned a beautiful midnight black.
Then, that black started to glow. As if he had somehow started to reflect the night sky above, Quaxo began to shimmer with a thousand tiny stars.
Tugger’s jaw was already on the ground before Quaxo started to dance.
The Jellicle Tribe was full of amazing dancers that could entrance any watcher. This dancer, however, was in a league of his own. The shy cat seemed to disappear, leaving only a brilliant creature of the night in his wake. Quaxo leapt and spun as if he were moments from taking flight. He called light to him, and it pirouetted at his command like a willing partner.
It was magical, both literally and figuratively.
Forgetting himself, Tugger began to purr.
The sound reached Quaxo’s ears — of course it did, Tugger’s purr was as loud as an automobile’s — and all at once the magic stopped. The sparkling vision of a cat shrunk back into the black and white stray that Bustopher had brought them.
“Wait!” Tugger called, afraid Quaxo would disappear. He was certain now the little cat could do it. With an impressive jump, if he did say so himself, Tugger landed on the roof and skidded to a stop beside the puffed up ball of unhappy tom. “That was amazing!”
Unable to contain himself, Tugger circled the smaller tom, his long tail swishing this way and that. “How did you do it? The stars in your fur? Why haven’t you danced like that before? You were making things light up! What else can you do?”
It was only when he realized Quaxo was quivering harder than he had when he had first been inspected by a serious Munkustrap that Tugger slowed down. He paused midstep and then carefully sat. On a second thought, he lowered himself all the way to the ground so he did not tower. He often forgot his own size.
“Did I scare you? I’m sorry.”
Quaxo stared at him as if he had grown pollicle ears. “You’re not scared of me?” he asked in the tiniest of voices.
The very thought made Tugger laugh. “Scared? Why would I be scared?” He sobered as he realized Quaxo’s question has been serious. “Do others normally get scared?”
Slowly, Quaxo nodded. Then, questions of his own started to pour out of him. “Are you going to tell the others? Are they going to make me leave? Please, can you keep a secret? I like it here and I don’t want to leave!”
Comforting others had always been Munkustrap’s realm of expertise, but Tugger had learned a thing or two in his time. He reached out and pulled the trembling tom against his chest and started to clumsily wash his ears.
“No one’s going to make you leave,” Tugger assured him, starting to purr again. “They’ll think you’re amazing!”
Quaxo clung to him, his curled ears flattening under Tugger’s tongue. “I don’t want anyone to know, please!” The terror in Quaxo’s voice broke Tugger’s heart. What kind of place had he been before this, that he was now so scared to share such a wonderful gift? He pulled back to look down at the other tom.
“… if you really don’t want me to tell anyone, I won’t,” he said. All the tension went out of Quaxo at once, only to return when Tugger added, “But will you at least tell me all about it?”
“Why?” Quaxo asked, eyeing Tugger uncertainly.
Putting on his best kitten eyes, Tugger rolled over on his back to be the least intimidating he could possibly be. “Because I’m curious and I’ll die of it if I don’t know!”
Quaxo twitched one now wet ear and slowly cocked his head. “I don’t think someone can die of curiousity.” Tugger could hear the humor in his voice and counted it as a win.
“They absolutely can!” he gasped with all the drama he could muster — which was a lot. He was The Rum Tum Tugger, after all. “Even the humans say so! ‘Curiosity killed the cat!’”
The tiny snort that got out of Quaxo was the cutest thing Tugger had ever heard. “I suppose I wouldn’t want you to die.” Perking up, Tugger wiggled closer, still on his back.
“So you’ll tell me?” he asked.
“If you promise to keep it a secret,” Quaxo answered.
“I’ll tell no one you are a magical cat,” Tugger promised, rolling back over triumphantly. Then he eyed Quaxo thoughtfully. “One more question.”
“I have a feeling you have many more than one more question,” Quaxo said, but he tilted his head in acceptance.
“Is your real name Quaxo?” Ducking his head sheepishly, the small tom shook his head. “I knew it! Then what is it?”
“See, that’s a second question already,” Quaxo pointed out, sheepishly pawing at his ear. “Mistoffelees. That’s my real name.”
Now that was a proper name. A solid four syllables. Tugger nodded seriously to himself, memorizing it. “Mistoffelees.“
It quickly became Tugger’s favorite name. Almost every night he took to joining Mistoffelees on the roof, learning more about his abilities. Mistoffelees was full of tricks, and even more full of sass, something that delighted Tugger to learn. Each dawn, he tried to convince Mistoffelees to drop the act, but his fear was too strong. It was always Quaxo who returned to the Junkyard.
It was not until Munkustrap was telling the story of the Rumpus Cat to the kittens for the umpteenth time that an idea struck Tugger.
“Do you trust me?” Tugger whispered to Quaxo. Quaxo narrowed his pretty blue eyes at Tugger, but slowly nodded. As Munkustrap finished and the kittens started to clamour for an encore, Tugger grinned and hopped forward.
“How about I take a turn telling you all a story?” he asked. The kittens gasped in excitement, their attention immediately fixed on Tugger. Munkustrap looked as suspicious as Quaxo, but Tugger ignored it.
“Let me tell you about a cat even more amazing than the Rumpus Cat!” Tugger began with a grin.
“You’d best not be talking about yourself,” he heard Munkustrap mutter.
“Nope, I’m talking about a cat even greater than me.” Someone in the audience scoffed. Etcetera, no doubt. How Tugger adored that kitten. “He’s small and quiet. Black from the tops of his ears to the tip of his tail. Silent as a shadow. Even if you ever spotted him, you’d never know he was capable of the most amazing things.”
Tugger saw Quaxo start to tense, but he met his eyes. Silently asked again for Quaxo to trust him. Let me show you what they will think of you.
Quaxo did not interrupt, and Tugger returned his attention to his rapt audience. “But sometimes, if the moon is full and you are very lucky, you will stumble across this wonderful cat— the Magical Mister Mistoffelees!”
For weeks, Tugger entertained anyone who would listen with the tale of this magical cat who could pull the stars down from the sky and play any trick in the book. With each excited kitten, each smile from the elders, each hint of curiosity from the adults, Tugger watched Quaxo sit taller.
There had been something very odd about the newcomer, and Tugger could not wait to reintroduce him to them all.