Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Defenders of the Earth
Character/Pairing: Jedda, Kisa, mild Rick/Jedda
Challenge/Prompt: whatif_au 20: Sentinel/Guide AU
Warning(s): Slight AU
Word Count: 1,622
Date Written: 26 November 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Rick jumped as a locker door slammed shut beside his head. “Hey! Watch it!” he exclaimed, rubbing his blonde curls. He fell silent, however, when Jedda’s angry eyes shot daggers at him. Clutching her books to her chest, she stalked pass him and kept going.
“What did I do?!” he called after her.
“You didn’t do anything,” LJ commented from beside him. He nodded in the opposite direction from which Jedda had just stormed.
“Oh.” Rick made a face. “That clown.” His hands balled into fists. “I’d like to give him a piece of my mind -- “
“I know,” LJ agreed quickly, his voice quiet and almost soothing, “but you know what our fathers say.”
“Yeah, yeah, no fighting unless it’s to save the world,” Rick grumbled.
Screams suddenly erupted from the front of the school. A black, furry streak bolted through student and faculty alike as the humans scurried to get out of his way. “It looks like somebody didn’t get the memo though,” Rick spoke excitedly, beginning to grin again.
“Should we stop him?”
The great, black cat sprang through the air with lightning speed. Jedda’s former boyfriend screamed like a girl as Kisa pounced on top of him, his long tail lashing out at the air. The panther sharply kneaded the boy’s muscular chest, his mighty claws sinking right through his shirt but carefully not doing any major damage. “Like we could,” Rick tossed at LJ, but he was still grinning. “Besides, he’s only getting what he deserves!”
“You think she called him?” LJ asked.
Rick’s grin suddenly left him. He had not considered that option; after all, he’d never seen Jedda use her bond with Kisa for violence except when they were on missions to stop Ming and save the world. “I . . . “ His eyes darted to LJ’s. “Do you think she would?”
LJ shrugged. “‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’,” he quoted, “and look at what some of the women we’ve fought have done!”
“Yeah, but that’s . . . That’s other women!” Rick exclaimed. “Not Jedda!”
“Rick,” LJ said gently, “you know how serious she was about that guy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Rick agreed, his hands again balling into fists as the teenager in question continued to cry and scream underneath Kisa. He’d been aching to pound the guy himself ever since Jedda had first started making eyes at him. What did he have, after all, that he didn’t? He had a sharp mind when he put it to the task; he just didn’t care enough about schoolwork to really focus on it. He was also a renowned racer; football just wasn’t his sport. It wasn’t exciting or challenging enough.
“Rick?” LJ asked, reaching out to touch his best friend’s shoulder.
Rick turned his back to Kisa and the other guy who was scrambling backwards on the floor and crying to get out from underneath the dangerous, angry panther. “Let him have him,” Rick grumbled.
But it was just at that time that Jedda’s voice rang out. “Kisa!” she admonished sharply.
The panther instantly stopped growling and made a sound far more like a startled kitten. His tail lowered; his claws ceased their kneading. He looked questioningly up at his mistress as though to ask her why she didn’t approve of what he was doing. “Kisa, get off of him,” Jedda commanded.
The panther lowered his head and glowered directly into the pale, squeamish boy’s face. Then he hopped off of him and started to move away. His tail flicked back a single time, however, striking the boy right in the face. The human felt like fainting, but instead he grabbed the moment, while the big cat was off of him, to scramble to his feet and run as though his very life depended on it all the way out of the school and its grounds.
Jedda sighed as she dropped to a squatting position. She held out her hands to her familiar. He came into them, nuzzled her palms, and tenderly licked her skin. The rest of the school, except for her three almost-brothers, watched her and whispered in awe. “I wish I had a panther to take up for me like that when boys break my heart!” one of the girls admitted in a startled voice just above a whisper.
As Kisa continued to lick Jedda’s hands, Jedda looked up at her schoolmates. “I didn’t ask him to do it,” she said defensively.
“Really?” another girl asked in disbelief.
Rick walked forward. “You really didn’t ask him to . . . “ He had almost used the phrase ‘protect her’, but he knew better than to imply around Jedda that she needed anyone’s protection. The last thing he wanted right now was to make her or her cat mad! He cleared his throat and said quickly, “ . . . to do that?”
“No! Of course not!” Jedda exclaimed, looking up at him. “I can fight my own battles, Rick Gordon!”
He held out his hands in a show of peace. “Of course you can!”
“But why fight them,” someone in the crowd asked, “when you can have him fight them for you?”
“Because it’s my place to fight my own battles, not his. And besides, the last thing I want is for people to think he’s dangerous.” She and her father had enough trouble keeping their cats out of the authorities’ attention as it was. The absolute last thing she wanted in the whole world was for anyone to try to take Kisa away from her. She’d go back to Africa to stay for the rest of her life, Phantom or no Phantom, before she ever let him go!
Kisa had already started purring. Now he paused his licking to bump his furry head against her hands. She laughed, though there were tears shining in her green eyes, and stroked his head. She scratched him behind the ears, and he leaned into her touch.
“He’s like a big dog!” one of the guys said.
“Yeah.” Rick grinned. “Just don’t make him mad.”
“You really didn’t call him to come with us today?” LJ asked.
“Not knowingly,” Jedda replied, glancing up at him. “You know me better than that, LJ.”
He sighed and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I guess I do, but if you didn’t call him, why’d he come?”
“That’s easy,” KShin answered for her, walking up to join the group of his family. “He’s like Zuffy. They always know when we’re upset. He figured who had upset her and took action so he doesn’t do it again.”
Rick laughed suddenly.
“What’s so funny?” Jedda demanded, cutting eyes up at him.
“It’s just that he did what we’d all already been wanting to do,” he admitted. For the first time in a long time, he reached down and dared to touch the panther. He stroked his head. “Thatta boy!”
Jedda rolled her eyes, but a smile chased over her lips. “You’re both incorrigible.”
Rick eyed her. “Is that your word of the day or something?”
She rolled her eyes again, but then she laughed. Turning her attention back to her best friend, she held his face in her hands and gazed directly into his eyes. “Thank you, Kisa, for always having my back, but I have this, my friend. I need you to go home -- straight home -- and behave yourself.”
The panther looked steadily, unblinkingly, up into her eyes for a long moment. Then, finally, he nodded his head in acceptance and moved to bump his face against her hands one more time. She laughed and, still smiling, bent and kissed the top of his head. “That’s a good boy,” she murmured. She ran her hands over his length as he turned slowly and padded calmly away.
“What?” she asked, looking up at Rick who seemed to still be staring at her.
He shook his head slowly. “You’re amazing,” he admitted quietly.
She blushed, actually blushed at his compliment. Quickly she gathered her things, which she’d placed on the floor when she’d called Kisa to her. “Come on,” she urged. “We’re going to be late.”
KShin nodded and darted away toward his classroom. Rick and LJ flanked her, but Rick watched her with renewed respect. The woman was beautiful and deadly, kind and forgiving, and had power that she didn’t even try to use. He smiled to himself. She might not have called her familiar to her side this morning, but Kisa had just done what every single guy in their family had been wanting to do since she’d first began to suspect her boyfriend was cheating on her.
“I bet he never cheats on anybody again,” LJ whispered, grinning.
Jedda smiled, a beautiful image that would stay with Rick for a long time to come. “Then it was all worth it,” she said. “As long as Kisa doesn’t get caught,” she added a moment later, showing her concern to the only two humans with whom she trusted all her secrets.
“He won’t be, and even if he is, he’s a Defender. You’re not alone any more, Jedda. None of you are. We’ll help you keep them safe, every one of them,” he added as they stopped just outside their classroom.
Jedda looked up at him. For the first time since he’d originally offered his protection when she’d been new to America, his offer made her smile. She beamed up at him, leaned over, and kissed his cheek. Then, smiling secretly, she walked on into their classroom. His cheek still tingling warmly from her touch, Rick trailed behind her, something he had a feeling he’d be doing for the rest of his life.
LJ grinned broadly and followed behind the other two. Go, Kisa, he thought, grinning, and go, Rick!