Tristan liked being a firefighter. He liked the guys he worked with, he liked the helping people, and he liked that he got to deal with fire without being considered a pyromaniac. Granted, it took a long time and a lot of explaining before he was able to get his family to understand why a first-rate Hellhound was out being a firefighter instead of a bodyguard, business 'Escort', or attack-dog trainer, but eventually they just accepted it as one of his quirks. They even encouraged him after his second year, acknowledging that he was setting a good example, and that hey-being fireproof and being a firefighter really did work out for the best. It was an odd family anyway, what with his father's sister having married a Kappa. Locations for their annual family reunion had to be very properly prepared.

So Tristan was a firefighter who loved his job, barring one, tiny little detail that cropped up way too often for his liking.


It was inevitable. You were a firefighter-eventually you got a call from some kid because some stupid cat had gone and decided to be stupid and climb up some stupid tree and get stuck there, only able to meow its distress. Stupidly.

It always, always managed to happen when Tristan was on duty. And of course, since he was the one who had the easiest time with climbing things, it was usually him who got sent up the tree. Stupid cats.

"Tristan! Come on, we're heading out!"

He sighed heavily and climbed into the truck. It was just as well that they were needed for these things more often than they were needed for fires, really it was, but that still didn't change the fact that he really. Hated. Cats.

They pulled up into a nondescript subdivision full of yards practically bursting with trees.

It's like a stupid cat playground or something Tristan thought mutinously to himself, getting the ladder out as Mike, his fellow fighter, approached the man standing on a lawn ready to greet them. The man talked to Mike for a second and then pointed to a tall evergreen.

Tristan muttered a curse, but moved to set the ladder up against the trunk. Evergreens were annoying, even more annoying when stupid cats where hiding in them. They had way more branches than trees needed, and the spiky prickles did not help. He sighed again and moved to begin the climb. Might as well get this over with.

"Excuse me-wait!"

Tristan turned away from the ladder to suddenly find that the owner was less than a foot away. "Um...yeah?"

The man, a tall blond with glasses who looked like he probably taught History or English, snuck a quick glance at Mike before quietly saying, "I think you may want to know what you're going up to get. You see, they-"

"Wait, there's more than one," Tristan asked, the question probably sounding a little more irritated than it should have. The man nodded and looked as if he was going to say something else, but Tristan just wanted this over with. Stupid cats! "Look, don't worry." He tried to flash what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I've got a lot of experience with...this. I can handle more than one."

"Yes, but-"

But Tristan wasn't listening anymore. He had already started to climb. When you've got a face full of pine needles, you don't tend to pay attention to speaking.

Halfway up the admittedly tall tree, Tristan still hadn't seen any sign of the cats and was desperately fighting with his growing urge to just set the tree on fire.

"Stupid frigging cats with their stupid little claws and meows and, oh, wait, nonono, make that sound again, come on." He held very still, trying to pinpoint where the noise had come from. It had sounded weird, even for a stupid meow-more like a squawk really, but there was nothing else up here so it had to be the cats.

There! Following the noise, Tristan craned his head up just a little-maybe one branch higher. He squinted, searching, hoping that the two stupid things had at least stuck together on their great tree adventure and-yes! He could see two tails -weird ones for cats, but tails just the same- dangling from the branch. Moving quicker now, looking forward to the job just being over with, Tristan hauled himself up and the moved to grab the two-

...not cats. Most definitely not cats.

He stared at the two baby griffins for a good minute before shaking himself out of the stupor. Oh. Okay, so that's what the guy had been trying to tell him. But wait-why? He looked ordinary! Mumbling about weird people knowing way too much, Tristan gingerly scooped up the two griffins and carefully made his way down the tree.

The way the owner's eyes lit up upon seeing the two griffins safe almost made the whole thing worth it. Almost. Not really sure what Mike was going to see, Tristan handed the babies to their owner and then just...waited.

"Thank you very much!" The man was saying to the both of them. "I really appreciate it."

"No problem," Mike replied, sounding a little dazed. Tristan shot professor-guy a look at that, but the man seemed to miss it. "Tristan, I'll wait for you in the truck."

"Wait for me, what the hell are you talki-" Mike didn't even wait for him to finish, just turned and walked back to the firetruck.

Now confused and more than a little annoyed, Tristan turned the man who was carefully cradling the baby griffins. "okay, you've got twenty seconds to start filling me in. Who are you, why d'you have those, what the hell did you do to my partner, and how come you know who I am?"

The man smiled, completely unfazed by the tone. "I'm Richard, and these two were given to me to raise by a dear friend. Your partner's just under a little spell so that he didn't notice exactly what kind of animals you were rescuing for me. Mark and Mandy actually have charms that make people think they're ordinary housecats, but I found those lying at the base of the tree." He shook his head. "Really do need to think up a way to make it more permanent."

"Whoa, okay, back-up. You still didn't tell me what you are then." A tiny pause. "Mark and Mandy?"

Richard looked down his nose at Tristan. "Yes," he said with dignity. "After their grandparents." He continued on before Tristan even started to wrap his mind around that. "And for your information, I'm a Grimalkin."

That made Tristan stare. "...aren't Grimalkin's female?"

Richard raised an eyebrow. "Aren't Hellhounds supposed to be guards?"

Tristan sighed. Everyone thought that. "No, actually," he said. "Some make good dog trainers. And I'm a firefighter."

"And I'm a male Grimalkin."

"...of course you are." Figures. Even when he didn't have to rescue them from trees, he still found himself dealing with cats one way or another. He rubbed his face. "So what, you've got all the witch powers and everything?" Richard nodded. "Combined with the cat thing." Another nod. "But you just happen to be male."

"Last time I checked, yes."

"Okay. Right." He sighed. "How long till my partner comes out of it?"

"The spell'll fade as soon as you turn the corner," Richard replied. If he was surprised by the sudden conversation change, he didn't show it. "It's only so that he doesn't recognize Mark and Mady for anything other then housecats."

"Fine," he muttered. "Guess that means I'm driving then. Anyway, it was...nice to meet you."

Richard smiled at him. "Same. And thank you again. I know how annoying pine trees can be."

Tristan waved that away. "Just keep them out of it. And don't forget-you've got to register them if they grow larger than 30 pounds before they start mentally maturing."

"I know, don't worry."

He walked back to the truck and got into the driver's seat, thinking hard all the way back to base. Okay, so a Grimalkin acting surrogate-father to a pair of ridiculously-normally named griffins. That liked to get themselves stuck in pine trees. All in a day's work. Sure.

It just figured that Richard was a cat.