By Moe Lane


It wasn't one of the better Council meetings.

Dominic was bored, bored, bored: aside from the fact that, for once, there wasn't anything specifically important to his Word on the agenda, there was the fact that Laurence had gotten a bee in his bonnet again about the lack of civil defense. The Archangel of the Sword had many laudable qualities: brevity was not one of them.

It was about then that the Archangel of Judgement felt the now-familiar weight on his shoulder disappear. He swiftly turned, but it was too late. Justinian had wandered off.

In the aide's gallery, Bronwen winced and began heading to the 'floor'.

This wasn't the first time, of course, that Dominic's kitten had gone off exploring. Normally, it wasn't a problem: Justinian always stayed in Heaven, and people that like hurting kittens are pretty much on Hell's reservation list anyway. The absolute worst thing that had ever happened to him was the time that a still-not-identified person or persons dressed him up in a miniature copy of Dominic's cloak, placed him on the front steps of the Tribunal, rang the doorbell and then ran away (very) quickly.

Predictably, the kitten refused to go anywhere without the blessed thing, now.

Anyway, the kitten was safe... but Dominic's dignity was not. Thankfully, Bronwen had adjusted to kitten-catching as quickly as she did everything else, but expecting her to sort this out by herself would be unJust. Dominic got up and started looking, himself.

This was not actually a breach of protocol. The nature of the Council Chambers was such that the concepts of "moving" and "standing still" were meaningless, anyway: the Archangel of Judgement could get away with searching, as long as he was discreet about it and nodded in all the right places (Laurence never varied this particular speech, so doing that wasn't too difficult). Locating one kitten couldn't be that hard, surely.

Twenty 'minutes' later, Dominic wasn't so sure - and he was starting to get mildly worried. Justinian wasn't sleeping in Novalis' arms, cadging treats from Marc or even purring at Jordi (three of the kitten's favorite activities). It was starting to look like Dominic would have to start checking outside. That wouldn't look good: among other things, the second the Archangel of Judgement left, every other Superior would take the opportunity to run off as well, leaving an annoyed Laurence to finish his speech in an empty chamber.

It had happened before. The Archangel of the Sword's perennial speeches were often endurance contests.

All in all, it was a bit of a relief when Bronwen covertly waved her Superior over. Dominic breathed a sigh of relief, moved to join her - and swallowed an oath.

Justinian had discovered Michael. More specifically, Michael's Axe.

It was big, and shiny, and had lots of wood to sharpen one's claws on, and - best of all - there were these strips of leather on the ends to bat around. So Justinian had started batting. Needless to say, the Archangel of War was perfectly aware of this, and was covertly jiggling the strips around. He was good at it, giving the kitten enough of a challenge to keep him occupied while avoiding accidentially flipping Justinian into a wall.

Dominic cleared his throat. Michael looked up guiltily: when he saw Dominic, he gave him a Gee-can't-you-even-keep-track-of-a-_kitten_? smile. Dominic let his cloak fade back far enough to give Michael an equally-nasty My-my-look-at-the-big-bad-warrior-play-with-the-Hyena's-kitten smile. Both smiles suddenly snapped shut as the Truths behind both sunk in.

The two Seraphs tried to glare at each other further, but neither's Heart was really in it. Justinian broke the deadlock by giving the leather one last bat and jumping up into Bronwen's arms. Her face was carefully neutral as she settled the kitten back on her Archangel's shoulder.

Laurence finished his speech, with the usual mixed gratification and suspicion at the amount of applause. Dominic moved back to his usual spot, lifted Justinian from his shoulder, and shook one finger mock-seriously in the kitten's general direction.

"You should be a little more careful about who you play with."

Justinian looked at him solemnly (Dominic wondered again about just how much his kitten understood. He really _wanted_ to speak to The Angel of the Selfless Gift), cocked his head, batted Dominic's finger and protested,


Dominic reluctantly nodded, conceding the point.



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