To Serve and Protect
Playtime

By Wolfy
revised: November 5, 2000

* * * * *

Cat's eyes opened as Tim's alarm clock clicked upon entering the last minute before it was set to go off. She silently crawled on hands and knees, from beside Tim's bed and back to her room.

The alarm went off, rousing Tim from his sleep. He reached over and turned it off. He sat up, swinging his legs over the side. He didn't give any thought to the warm spot on the floor as he got out of bed and headed for the bathroom to get ready for work.

Cat was ready and waiting when Tim came out of his room. They headed off to the station. When they arrived at work, Tim sent Cat into the station ahead of him. She went inside and up to the breakroom to wait as Tim had instructed her.

"Good morning Officers," Cat said as Cash and Phillips came into the station cafeteria.

Brenda gave Cat a friendly smile. "Hello, Cat. How was your weekend with Tim?"

"Fun!" Cat said with a hint of an excited growl.

"Oh? What did you do?"

Cat detailed her weekend with great enthusiasm. "I helped him fix up a room. He took me out to dinner, but I didn't want to go in, so he had them bring it out to us. Then he surprised me and said the room was mine if I wanted to stay with him. I accepted and then..."

Brenda smiled and nodded, trying to keep up as Cat gushed the details of her weekend.

When Cat finished, Phillips took the opportunity to set up a joke on Tim. "Wow, your own room." Phillips said, mocking surprise. "Tim used to let his last partner cuddle up in bed with him."

Brenda punched Greg lightly in the arm. "Greg, that's not very nice."

Cat smiled a little as Brenda scolded Greg.

"Don't listen to him," Brenda said, turning her attention back to Cat. "That's great you had such a nice weekend, Cat."

Tim strutted into the room carrying a handful of assignments for the day.

"Hey Tim," Brenda greeted him. "Doesn't Alicia come back next weekend? Are you going to bring her to the department picnic?"

"Maybe. We'll see." Tim said abruptly before looking toward Cat. "Okay partner, let's go. We've got a lot to do today."

* * * * *

"Settle down, Cat. We're almost there."

"Yes, Sir." Cat said, though she continued to fidget as she looked anxiously out the cruiser window. She had been waiting anxiously all morning for lunch time to come.

Tim grinned at his high spirited partner. "It doesn't take much to make you happy, does it?"

She replied only with her lopsided grin.

Tim pulled into the local park and found a place to park. Cat took off her gear and left it on the passenger seat while Tim pulled a soft frisbee out from under the driver's seat.

They headed over to a clearing where Cat ran off, distancing herself from Tim. She turned and squatted, resting her hands on her knees as she smiled happily, waiting for Tim to toss her the frisbee.

Tim grinned at Cat's excitement as he flung the frisbee in her direction.

Cat waited until the frisbee neared then sprung up to catch it. With a flick of her wrist she sent the disk back to Tim. As they continued to toss back and forth, a curious crowd of children and parents began to gather.

Tim could see Cat was enjoying the attention from the children as she put on a show with every catch. He gave the frisbee a hard toss, forcing Cat to make a run for it. She dove and rolled, coming up in a split with her arms spread wide as she caught the frisbee in her teeth.

"You ham," Tim teased as their audience laughed and clapped in admiration of Cat's theatrics.

Cat tossed the frisbee back to Tim, sending it a bit past him. It landed by the crowd. A small four-year-old boy ran forward to pick it up and held it up for Tim.

Tim smiled at the boy and made a tossing motion toward Cat.

The boy turned to face Cat with a happy grin.

Cat had her complete attention fixed on the boy as she moved closer so he wouldn't have to throw too far. Her ears turned forward, focusing on the child as she motioned encouragingly for him to toss the disc to her.

The boy gave the frisbee a weak toss. Cat caught it and cheered for the youngster, who smiled happily at his accomplishment.

Cat looked toward Tim to see whether he was ready to catch. Tim grinned and nodded back towards the boy, indicating for Cat toss to him instead. Cat smiled and turned her attention back to the boy.

A game of catch quickly formed between Cat and the boy. Their game soon spread to the other children as Cat began tossing the frisbee to a different child each time.

Tim found a bench and took a seat, watching Cat revel in her playtime. He was surprised to see how gentle Cat played with the children, even when the game of catch suddenly turned into tag. She feigned weakening under their assault as they tackled and held onto her legs. She dropped to the ground and was quickly under a pile, laughing and giggling with them.

Cat loved every minute of playing with the children. She enjoyed all of them: the ones that just wanted to pet her, the ones that clung to her and even the ones that wanted to roughhouse. Though, there was one boy that caught her attention. He was around the age of seven, and stood off to the side watching but never making an effort to participate. Cat thought he looked sad as he watched the children playing.

Tim talked casually with a few of the parents who were curious about Cat. A few were perhaps a little uneasy, but after watching Cat playing they became more confident. Tim wondered if it were the gentle care Cat took as she played that reassured them or the expression on her canine face that couldn't be interpreted as anything other than love and affection.

Tim checked his watch; it was time to get back to work.

"Cat," he called, pointing at his watch as her canine head emerged from the pile of children to look at him. "Sorry, folks, our lunch is over."

The parents began collecting their children.

Cat remained kneeling as each of the children said their goodbyes, petting or hugging her.

Tim noticed she returned an equal goodbye to each of the children. Tousling the hair of the children that petted her or hugging back the ones that embraced her.

She watched as the last of the children ran off toward their parents. She noticed the sad little boy she had seen earlier walking away with his mother.

"Excuse me," Cat said reverently as she approached the woman and her son.

"Yes?" she said, turning around and gasping as Cat's appearance caught her off guard.

Cat noticed the woman's reaction and spoke in a shy voice. "I'm sorry, but your son, I thought he looked very sad. I was wondering if there was anything I might do to cheer him up?"

The woman looked at Cat and was again surprised at how well she spoke. "That's very nice of you, but I don't think so. He's become very shy since he got sick and lost his hearing, He only knows how to sign, and many children don't want to play with him once they realize he can't understand them."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Cat said discouraged.

"It's alright, but thank you anyway," replied the woman as she turned and walked away with her son.

Tim walked up to Cat. "What's up, partner?"

Cat smiled at Tim, always happy to see him, but the child's story left her smile weakened. "I just wanted to see why one of the children wasn't playing with the others."

Tim found himself becoming quite adept at interpreting Cat's body language. He could tell she was bothered; her normally bright smile tainted with sorrow. He wasn't sure what he could tell her. "Maybe he'll play the next time."

Cat's smile brightened at the thought of another time at the park as they headed back to the cruiser. The remainder of their day passed quickly and uneventfully.

* * * * *

Cat left her room and walked into the livingroom where Tim was reading.

"May I use your computer, Sir? I'd like to access the library."

"Run out of books, Cat?" Tim teased, causing Cat's cheeks to pull back in her normal grin. "You know how?"

Cat nodded.

"Okay, go ahead."

"Thank you," she replied gratefully before heading off to Tim's bedroom to use his computer.

A little while later, Tim closed up the house for the night. As if reading his mind, Cat had just shut down the computer and was standing to leave as Tim walked into the bedroom. "I'm finished, Sir."

"Find what you were looking for?" Tim asked.

"Yes, thank you," Cat said, looking at Tim appreciatively with her bright blue eyes and a cheerful smile. "Good night, Sir."

"Pleasant dreams, partner."

Cat retired to her room. She waited until she was certain Tim had drifted off before sneaking back into his room. She smiled as she placed a feather-soft lick on his cheek before settling down beside his bed for the night.

* * * * *

Tim watched as Cat played with the children again during their lunch break. They barely were there for a minute before a crowd had started gathering. Cat played as she had the day before, though Tim noticed she seemed distracted as she played. Occasionally she would pause to scan the park. After ten minutes, she must have seen what she was looking for. She stopped and excused herself from the group of children, sending them back to their parents.

She headed over to a woman and child sitting at a bench.

"Hello," Cat said softly to make her presence known to the woman. "Do you remember me from yesterday?"

The woman looked at Cat for a moment, unsure how to address the GESA. "You'd be very hard to forget."

Cat took the woman's words as a compliment and smiled. "May I say hello to your son?"

The woman thought for a moment. "I suppose that would be alright."

Cat squatted down in front of the boy. "My name is Cat. What's yours?" Cat said as she gestured in a mixture of finger-spelling and sign-language.

The boy watched Cat with interest before spelling his name for her.

Cat gave the boy a bright smile as she signed her reply. "It's nice to meet you, Curtis. Would you like to play catch with me?"

Curtis smiled and looked at his mother to see if it was okay with her.

"Cat," Tim called as he headed over to them and noticed the woman's tears. "I'm sorry if she's bothering you."

"No, it's fine," the woman told Tim before turning to Curtis and signing that it was okay for him to play.

Cat handed Curtis the frisbee as they walked few paces away from the bench. They tossed it back and forth a few times before starting to run around.

Curtis's mother watched her son smile and laugh while he played with Cat. It had been such a long time since she had seen him so happy. She wiped her eyes before looking at Tim. "That's a very remarkable partner you have."

Tim watched as Cat played happily with the boy. Cat turned and smiled at him. "Yes, she is very special," Tim replied as he smiled back at Cat. "It seems as if she does something new to amaze me just after I get used to the last thing she did to surprised me."

* * * * *

Tim headed straight to his bedroom as soon as they got home. He changed out of his uniform and into a comfortable t-shirt and pair of shorts. He came out of his room and collapsed on the couch, exhausted from the last half of their day and a few hours overtime spent crawling over a warehouse.

Cat came out of her room wearing a tanktop and shorts. She joined Tim, sitting on the floor beside the couch and resting her arm along Tim's side. She laid her head on top of her arm and looked up at Tim.

Tim could feel Cat against his hip as he rested with his eyes closed. His hand moved unconsciously to her head as he began to stroke her soft fur.

Cat closed her eyes and relaxed, enjoying Tim's gentle touch. She let out a little sigh. Then, Tim stopped abruptly as he pulled his hand away. Cat opened her eyes and looked into Tim's as he looked down at her. "What's wrong?"

Tim looked deeply into Cat's blue eyes. "Sometimes, you seem so human, I feel as though I'm demeaning you when I pet you or treat you like a dog."

Cat placed her hand over Tim's and drew her finger-pads along the back of his hand. "You're not." Cat smiled as she lifted Tim's hand to the top of her head. "You've never made me feel less than I am."

"Really?" Tim asked as his hand rested between Cat's ears, fighting the urge to pet a furry head when one presents itself.

"Maybe it's because I am a dog," she began. She quickly extended a digit and placed it over Tim's lips as he was about to protest. "Or, it is because I know you care about my feelings and mean it in an affectionate way."

Tim gave in and smoothed the fur on Cat's forehead with his thumb.

Cat smiled in return and rested her head back on her arms.

Tim continued to stroke her as he watched her resting. "That boy today, I didn't know you knew sign-language."

"I didn't, until last night."

Tim's eyes widened as he looked at Cat in awe. "You mean you learned all that in just a few hours?"

"Not all; just the alphabet and a few of the more frequent phrases and gestures." Cat said as if it were no effort at all. "There is much more to learn."

"You're amazing," Tim chuckled. "I felt very proud to have you as a partner today. You have a big heart, Cat."

Cat let out a happy whine as she nudged Tim with her muzzle. She felt like bursting as her own pride swelled with the approval of her officer. She let out a contented sigh as Tim continued to rub her head and neck. After a short time, Cat looked up at Tim. "Who is Alicia," she asked softly.

"A woman I've been seeing for some time. She's been off in Europe for the last month."

Cat smiled. "What does she do?"

"She works in the fashion industry. I met her working on an assignment at a show."

"Officer Grrady has a girlfriend," Cat teased. She noticed Tim did not seem amused. "I'm sorry," she said with lowered ears.

"No, it's not that," Tim said as he ran his hand over Cat's head, her ears perking up in the process. "Alicia didn't like Sasha having free run around the house. She's not much of a dog person. I'm just hoping she'll be more accepting since you are so human."

"I'm sure we will get along," Cat said before stretching out on the floor.

Tim rolled over and looked at Cat over the edge of the couch. He rested his hand on her arm and lightly stroked her fur. He fought unsuccessfully to keep his eyes open. He drifted off to sleep, failing to notice that Cat got up, retrieved a blanket and covered him. She laid down in front of the couch and covered herself with the tail of the blanket as she settled into her own peaceful sleep.

* * * * *

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