November 24, 1998
Written by Zhie
Claudus looked up from his work. He scanned what he could see of the hallway through the door. It wasn't completely open, so his view wasn't what he would have liked it to be.
At a glance, there didn't seem to be anyone there. It was also odd that anyone would be wandering around in this particular corridor, due to other circumstances that evening. Unless, of course, anyone also included a particular insomniatic ten-year-old.
He quietly rose from his chair and proceeded to the door. Raising his head to sniff the air, he turned his attention to what was to the left of the door. He made his move, jumping out from the doorway to face the person in hiding. His cape swept around his feet.
Anyone else would have flinched. He towered over most, and even more than did so over her. Yet she just smiled up at him and saluted. "Good Evening, Lord Claudus."
"Good evening, Little One," he said as he crouched down to reach her height. "And why are we still awake at this hour?"
"How can I sleep with all the excitement?" she asked him, her eyes brightly shining, accented by the dark markings around them. "There isn't anyone in there with you, is there?" she said softly.
"No, I'm just catching up on some paper work." he paused, then turned to the adjacent closet and said, "You can come out of there, Snarf."
The door creaked open, and a red and yellow tail swung out, then, the rest of the body followed. "Gosh, snarf, snarf -- lovely evening." Snarf cleared his throat. "I think I'll check on baby Panthro, snarf, snarf." he said, and started off down the hall. "G'night"
"Goodnight, Snarf. Sleep well." the Lion called.
"Same to you, Claudus." Snarf said, and disappeared around the corridor.
Claudus nodded at him and turned his attention back to the cheetah, shaking his head. "Using Snarf as a lookout again." He placed his paw on her shoulder. "I assume you took care not to wake anyone besides him." Claudus said, motioning toward Snarf.
"I didn't wake anybody else. You have my word as a Thundercat." she assured him.
"Well, little girls that don't get enough sleep don't grow up to be great warriors." he told her.
She sighed. "I get enough sleep. I'm not tired." she explained. "Sometimes it's hard, though. Especially when I hear everybody talking, like tonight." she said.
"You weren't eavesdropping on them, were--"
"No!" she shouted, then, "No, I get those voices in my head sometimes. I hear what's going on. Sometimes, it's not so bad, but when they're all talking about the same thing..."
This time, he cut her off. "Why don't you come and help me, Little One." He stood, and extended his hand to her. "Come on. I could use someone like you to keep me awake."
She took his hand and followed him into the office. "You're sure this is okay? Jaga always says that the kids belong in the west wing."
"Well, you came to the east wing without permission, and that means you're not afraid of Jaga, else you wouldn't have made it this far. And besides," he added, sitting her atop the desk, "I'm Lord of the Thundercats."
She readjusted herself so that she would face him when he sat down. His cape flowed down around the chair, billowing around the side of the desk like a cloud. "But Jaga makes a lot of the rules." she informed him.
"Ah -- but I have the Sword of Omens." he said with a laugh, leaning back in his chair. "Jaga is high council leader. I depend on his knowledge to allow things to run smoothly and trust his judgment on matters."
"Kind of like how Snarf takes care of me because my parents don't have time to." she said, nodding.
"Yes, exactly." he said, then paused. "No, no, it's not like that." He set his hands on top of the desk, palms flush with it. "It's not that your parents don't have time for you, it's that they are very, very busy, and they..." he trailed off. "What I mean to say is that they have demanding jobs, extreme responsibility, and..."
"...they don't have time for me." She finished. "I didn't say that they don't care about me and Sahara--"
"Sahara and I." he corrected.
"--Sahara and I, but they do a really important thing, and I know it keeps them busy a lot. That's why I've got Snarf. He does the stuff they can do, but don't have time for."
"Good. That's good. I'm glad you understand. I assumed you did, but...I know how hard it is for children to live in this place. It's very demanding." He drew in a deep breath and lowered his voice. "And just between you and me, it's a little frightening to know there'll be one more here by morning."
"I know what you mean." comforted the child. "I just don't know what I'll do if it's another girl. I'll probably be forced to share my room with her!" she exclaimed, tossing her arms up dramatically.
Claudus smiled. "I don't think it would come to that, Little One. I wouldn't be surprised if you were relocated to the east wing within a few years."
"You don't really think Jaga's going to let you do that, do you?" she asked him.
"I already told you, Jaga helps me make decisions, but I'm still Lord of the ThunderCats."
A cloaked figure appeared at the doorway. Claudus turned his attention to him. "What is it?"
The figure moved forward and spoke. "You said you wanted to be present when the child was born. Temilee tells me it will not be long."
Claudus nodded. "I just need to get the sword from the chamber, and I'll meet you there. Dismissed." The figure stood, unmoving. "Dismissed." Claudus looked up. Is there something to add?"
Jaga narrowed his eyes. "What is that doing here." he spat.
"Silence your tongue." warned the Lord. "That is a future ThunderCat warrior, and at present, and Thunderian Noble. I will thank you to treat her as such"
"She is a child and belongs in the west wing, not in your chambers."
"I asked her to come with me to greet the newest member of our clan this evening. It is necessary for her to learn about her heritage. It won't be long before she upholds the code just as you do." He narrowed his eyes at the jaguar. "And I decide who is and is not allowed in my chambers. Dismissed." he pointed to the door.
Jaga emitted a low growl in the back of his throat. "As you wish, my Lord." he saluted, then left the room.
Claudus turned back to Cheetara. "He didn't scare you, did he, Little One?"
"Nope." she said, hopping down off the desk. "Nothin' scares me."
"Nothing?" he asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.
"Nothing I'm going to tell you about." she smiled.