This came about when I discovered that the Marquis de Carabas was the name of Puss in Boots's master, and came to the natural and perfectly logical conclusion that the Marquis was a cat. Maurice is also a cat. It had to happen.

* * *

Pussyfooting Around
by afrai

* * *

"Opposable thumbs, huh? So how's that working out for you?"

The Marquis gave Maurice a disdainful look. He was good at those, even with a human face.

"Well enough," he said.

Maurice was actually pretty relieved that he hadn't wanted to fight. It wasn't that Maurice objected to fighting; he was good at fighting. Some of his scars had scars. But he wasn't sure how he would have come off in a fight with a human-sized cat, especially a human-sized cat with de Carabas's smile.

Not well, Maurice thought. All for the best, really.

He jumped up on the bed, and prodded the sleeping human in it with a paw.

"The stupid-looking kid gag," he said approvingly. "Good one. I ran through three of 'em before I gave it up."

"This one isn't for -- gags," said the Marquis. He bared his teeth. He wasn't smiling. "This one I own."

"Ah. Risky, but I'm sure you know what you're doing," said Maurice.

"I always do," said the Marquis.

Maurice looked at the stupid-looking kid. As an expert at humans, Maurice could tell he was a little old to be a kid, but there was something boyish about the lines of his face. Bit of a hero, this one. You never could account for tastes.

"So you never use him in, hmm, negotiations?" said Maurice.

The Marquis was silent, and Maurice almost thought he had offended him. Maybe the Marquis had spent too long in human form. . . .

"Sometimes, perhaps," said the Marquis carefully. "Once in a while. Only when it's absolutely necessary."

"I'm sure," said Maurice politely.

"Why did you give it up?" the Marquis asked.

"What? Oh, the stupid-looking kids. Some rats gave me an offer I couldn't refuse," said Maurice vaguely. "Anyway, I was getting a bit sick of it after the third one settled down with a girl and lived happily ever after."

"Mine thought of doing that, too," said the Marquis. He bared his teeth again, and this time it was a smile. "The trick is to eliminate the girl from the equation."

"Yeah?" said Maurice. "How'd you do that?"

"I called in a few favours." The Marquis tapped his fingers.

"Yeah, well. I wasn't feeling like keeping it up anyway," said Maurice. He jumped off the bed, curled up on the floor, and started grooming himself.

"I mean, I'm thinking of starting something new," he said, his voice slightly muffled by the tail in his mouth. "I haven't got as many lives as I used to. It's time for a change, I'm thinking."

"That's why you've come to me?"

"They told me you'd know how to effect a . . . lifestyle change," said Maurice. "Seeing as how you've done it yourself."

The Marquis was silent for a while. He folded his hands precisely.

"It will be difficult."

"I'm up for a challenge," said Maurice.

"You'll have to owe me a really big favour," said the Marquis, gazing at the ceiling. The thought seemed to please him.

"Yeah, all right," said Maurice warily. He wasn't sure he could trust the Marquis, but he thought he could figure a way out of any trouble agreeing to this might land him into.

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe," said the Marquis. He scribbled a few lines on a piece of card and tossed it at Maurice, who caught it in his mouth.

"That's her address," said the Marquis. "Good hunting."

"Fanks," said Maurice.

discworld | neverwhere | fanfiction | mail