The Alley King's Plan: Part 2

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In his dream, Giles was trapped in the butcher's trashcan, and he couldn't escape. The corpulent human regularly dumped fresh, delicious meat scraps right on top of him, however, so it was actually quite nice. When a barely perceptible breeze tickled his whiskers, and alerted him that someone was coming into the chamber, he awoke in a rather grumpy mood.

Seeing his mate Alice's, dirty, whiskered snout poke up from her tunnel didn't cheer him, either. She sniffed a few times and climbed up beside him, her hot breath whistling through her partially clogged nostrils.

"Where's Jimmy?" she snarled, apparently unconcerned for the other rats sleeping nearby in warm beds of grass and leaves. She shook her body from snout to tail, showering the room with dust and bits of fresh dirt, and then bit into the remains of an unfortunate earthworm.

Giles' goals for the evening didn't include fighting with his mate. She was so much fun to tease, however, that he couldn't resist goading her a little bit. He'd remind her of her place later, when they'd have a larger crowd. If she still chose to disrespect him, he knew a great spot to leave her bones.

"Jimmy's been gone for days," he said in his usual plodding manner. "I assumed you had him down in your tunnels. No? Then, I'm sure we'll find bits of him in a mound of that new terrier's droppings. It''s the same to me either way, but how is it any business of yours? You're not sweet on him, are you?"

"In my ... ? Sweet ... ? You miserable ..." Alice''s fur bristled and she involuntarily squeaked in anger.

Giles rolled to his feet, his tail flicking with pleasure at her reaction. He had only been taunting her, fishing for a reaction, but he seemed to have hit a nerve.

Alice and Jimmy, eh?

"You know I'll rip him to pieces, don't you? Yes, of course you do." He paced as he spoke, watching her reaction. "Then, again, if that thieving plague-rat wants you, maybe I should give you to him. No, not give. I heard he found a fresh human grave beneath those tunnels you've been digging. I'd give ten of you for just a bite of a fresh human. Do you think it still has its heart? That's the best bit."

"Alice ain't sweet on no one, least of all Jimmy. He likes to dig more than's proper for a buck. Digging's doe's work."

The way she always said her own name when talking about herself grated on his nerves. "Why are you so worried about poor, missing Jimmy, kitten? Is he not sharing his find with you after everything you've been through together?" This was too easy. Her ears flattened against her head, and her back was arched, practically in a fighting posture. The other rats looked up their nests to watch.

She took another vicious bite of her earthworm, and then pointed the oozing stub at Giles like a weapon. "Does Alice look worried to you?" she asked in her annoying nasal growl. "It's Jimmy needs to be worried. If he shows his pointy face again, you tell him we ain't forgot. You tell him Alice'll get her due, or he''ll get his!" She ended with a strong, loud voice, looking around to make sure everyone heard.

Giles grabbed the leaky end of Alice's worm and pulled it tight. "You growl at your king like a sunburned badger, little kitten. Shall we find out if you bite like one, too?"

Alice's fur bristled, and she gnashed her teeth a whisker's width from his nose. "Alice ain't no bald little kitten, love, and even if you is still King, you ain't half the rat you once was. Now, let go of Alice's snack, or you'll wish she was just a badger." Her back definitely arched this time. Her hair bristled, and dirty spittle sprayed through her bared teeth.

Another rat looked down from a ledge above Alice's tunnel, and clicked her tongue. "Aw, look, Terry. They're so sweet together, aren't they?" she asked, nudging the rat beside her. "They still care enough to fight. Your lover's spats are always fun, Giles, but all of this squeaking and hissing is making my tail twitch, and the Queen's voice is annoying my fleas."

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