To Love a Stray Ch. 16byMygypsy©
"I'm gonna go curl up on your bed," I tell Micah and he gives a nod before returning to the conversation with the others. I make my way to the room we share with Steven and crawl onto Micah's bed, I use pillows to make myself comfortable as I cuddle one before closing my eyes with a contented sigh.
* * * * *
"Rosy! Rosy wake up," Steven tells me and shakes my shoulder firmly bringing me out of a sound sleep. I frown as I blink dazedly then turn my head as the sound of Sam's angry voice reaches me.
"What?" I ask as I force myself into a sitting position.
"Lotty has gotten engaged to someone else. There is to be a wedding almost immediately," Steven says with a glance at my stomach and I catch on to what he means. Lotty has gotten pregnant by some other tom.
"Sam is talking about leaving the pride. Micah and Dwayne are over at the house. They don't know yet. Mitchell is trying to talk to Sam but he's hit Mitchell several times and just keeps pushing him out of the way," Steven explains quickly.
"Sam can't leave," I protest as I climb from the bed. Steven grabs my upper arm to help me and stops me for a moment.
"He's hurting real bad Rosy," Steven tells me soberly. "Not many will be willing to take him into their Clan after the beating he handed out to Edwin."
I hurry out towards where I can hear Sam in his and Mitchell's room and pause in the doorway before walking over to where he is throwing his clothes in two large duffel bags. I immediately begin to throw the clothes back out tossing them onto the floor behind me before tossing one empty bag out the door.
"What the hell?" Sam snarls as he turns around and hesitates a moment as he sees me. "Get out of that!"
"No! I won't let you walk away from us Sam," I tell him.
"I have just lost everything that matters to me! Everything! I have no future anymore! Some other tom has my future," Sam yells at me.
"Well make something new from what you have left! Lotty is not worth you throwing everything away for," I tell him angrily.
"Don't you even say her name! You're nothing but a nasty little bitch intent on drawing every last drop of blood from anyone who gets near you." Sam yells at me and I am shaken by the fury in his voice.
"Sam," Steven growls in warning and I hear movement in several places behind me.
"You can't even take responsibility for your own actions! They are what got you locked in the cage with Edwin! But no! You blame us! Reckon we tricked you into it! You fucked up and got caught for it! At least have the guts to admit it and stop blaming us for what happened to you." Sam yells at me angrily.
I am stunned into silence for several seconds before I lower my head slightly as I glare at him.
He wants to make this personal does he? He thinks he's the only one ever to be betrayed and hurt?
"Oh, I knew what would probably happen when I came back to help Jazzy but I came back anyway! I didn't have to! I could have stayed away and she would have died! But that is not me! And running away is not you! You have family who care about you here! Not to mention your fellow warriors! Yes, you lost a lot losing Lotty but there is other stuff you can fill your life with." I snarl back at him.
Sam moves so fast I am not aware of my danger until he has hold of me by the upper arms and gives me a short hard shake.
"Sam," I'm not sure which toms roar at him but I know that at least Mitchell, Steven and Donovan are drawing closer. I keep looking into his eyes refusing to look away as he glares down at me, his fingers biting into my arms viciously.
"If I could rebuild my life when I was only twelve after having everything ripped apart and turned inside out then, you can rebuild your life now. You still have everyone who loves you enough to stick by you," I tell him softly.
"Everything I had planned for myself included Lotty," Sam denies.
"And everything I had planned centred around the fact I believed I was human! I had no-one to help me those first few weeks but we are here and willing to help you if you let us Sam," I tell him desperately. I don't want my brother to walk away from me -- it seems like I only just found him and got to know him.
"You don't know what it's like to have someone you love turn their back on you! Betray you! So don't give me some crap," Sam says as he shakes me again.
His words touch something deep inside me, something I have kept hidden and guarded from exposure. To think about it, to remember, only brings back the pain. Now that pain fuels my desperation and colours my words.
"Poor god damned Sam! He's the only one who has ever had someone walk away from them. The only one who knows what it's like to be betrayed? She didn't just walk away from you she took your balls," I snarl back at him. "You two weren't married. Hell yous weren't even engaged. Did you ever care enough to ask her?"
"What the hell would you know about it? By your own admission you had spent your life running from everyone, even humans, for years before we found you," Sam yells at me.
"I wasn't always alone. I wasn't the only one who ran from other cats," I tell Sam in a tight voice. "And if there's one thing I have learnt Sam, is you can't run away from the shit life hands out. Because, no matter where you try to hide, it will find you and is always worse the second time around."
Sam's grip tightens on my upper arms and he moves so close I can feel his breath wash over my face as he glares down at me. I can even smell his inner cat he is that angry but I refuse to look away from his intense blue eyes. He is angry and hurting but so am I, and I have had much longer to hoard my pain.
"Steven ..." I take a deep breath and release it before continuing. "In my side of the wardrobe there is a small wooden chest that has a padlock on it. Could you get it for me?"
"I'm staying right here unless Sam lets you go," Steven growls low in his throat. "Justin or Donny can get it."
"Someone had better do something because I am sick of her trying to interfere in stuff she knows nothing about," Sam growls low and savagely as his grip tightens convulsively. "You know nothing about what I am going through and once you realise that, you are going to wish you had kept out of this."
"Let me go Sam," I tell him firmly. My hands are twitching unintentionally from the force of his hold on my arms as he compresses nerves in my arms.
"As your brother I have every right to discipline you if you step out of line and believe me you have jumped way over the line this time," Sam snarls and I suddenly realise he wants to lash out and make others hurt as much as he's hurting. I lower my head and turn it slightly as I narrow my eyes making it impossible for him to read my expression.
* * * * *
I leave Chris behind as I race for the quarters. Chris' breathless message has my heart pounding in fear. Sam has just found out Lotty Inness has to marry someone else and he is tearing his room apart in a rage as he packs his belongings. And Rosy is trying to stop him leaving. Rosy is in a room with a very upset and hurting werecat.
The screen door offers no resistance as I wrench it open. Behind me it slams noisily and makes a sound as if it has actually come off one of its hinges as I race through to the bedrooms.
My heart nearly stops beating as I take in the scene with one glance.
"Someone had better do something because I am sick of her trying to interfere in stuff she knows nothing about," Sam growls low and savagely. He has Rosy by her upper arms and is snarling the words down into her face.
"You know nothing about what I am going through and once you realise that, you are going to wish you had kept out of this." He informs her.
"Let me go Sam," Rosy says firmly without flinching even though I can see her hands and arms twitching from his savage grip on her arms.
"As your brother, I have every right to discipline you if you step out of line and believe me, you have jumped way over the line this time," Sam snarls in an enraged, hoarse rasp.
"Get your hands off Rosy or I will rip your arms off," I snarl savagely in warning. If he hurts her I will make him pay.
"You told him yet Rosy? Told him what made you lose control?" Sam demands sounding almost pleased. "Our little stray here, she doesn't like the idea of getting married. When I let it slip you'd be asking her, she ended up going ballistic. Totally lost it. Seems you're not good enough for a stray, Micah," Sam taunts.
The pain his words cause is unbelievable as I catch the pitying glance he sends my way. I grit my jaw and grind my teeth as I swallow the cry of pain that wants to rise in my throat. I see the shadow of guilt that flickers across Rosy's face.
"Ok Sam, you just had your pound of flesh. Hell you managed to get several of us with that little gem without a doubt," Rosy hisses venomously at him.
"I am sick of you pushing me away when all I want to do is help you and now you figure you've pushed me into a corner where I'll just sit down and shut up and take my medicine for daring to interfere? My only regret is what I am about to do is going to hurt probaly everyone in this room ... you and your damned Clan mentality, Sam. You're hurting. I hear that but don't you ever sharpen your claws on me again," Rosy snarls up at him even as she hits him in the centre of his chest with both clenched fists.
She takes several steps back before holding out one shaking hand to the side.
"Whoever has that chest had better give it to me," Rosy says between gritted teeth.
I watch as Justin pushes a small wooden chest into her grip and she cradles it almost gently against her chest for a moment before I hear the metallic click of a lock opening.
Rosy glances back towards us all watching before she lowers her gaze to the floor and reaches into the box. She passes Sam a dog-eared piece of paper before reaching into the box again to retrieve what might be a photo. Rosy hesitates a moment before holding it out towards Sam with a shaking hand. She looks like she might grab it back when he fails to take it from her hand. He is too busy studying the piece of paper with a stunned expression on his face to take the photo.
"You're already married," Sam explodes as he looks up from the piece of paper.
"Try widowed, brother dearest. We were living very separate lives for a couple of years because he had betrayed me in a way I could never forgive. And as I'm sure you can testify - just because they hurt you, you don't stop loving them," Rosy says bitterly as she slaps the photo to his chest.
"Pass it around," Rosy sneers at Sam. "Share the joke. Now tell me why clan cats are so much better than strays. And start with this clan!"
The photograph flutters to the ground to land picture up and I can see the two figures on it clearly. One is Rosy, looking up into the face of the guy holding her. The expression on her face wrenches painfully at me as I see the way she is gazing enthralled at the stray called Jasper, a stray that died at the hands of this clan.
"Oh shit!" I hear Steven mutter and there are slight sounds of movement.
I can only watch as Rosy turns away from Sam and pushes past several toms to get to the bedroom door.
"Why is Rosy so upset?" I hear Donovan ask with dread.
"Show me that damned picture," I demand as Sam picks up the photograph.
I hear the faint shuffle of feet as Sam hands me the photo. I stare at it hoping the faces will have changed, that it isn't Rosy looking at another tom like he is her entire world. His face stays the same, still that of the stray who died in a pool of his own blood after being caught and hauled back to the compound for disciplinary action.
"I killed Rosy's husband," Timny says in a hollow sounding voice. "And it's my fault her and Donny were snatched by those strays."
I hear the screen door grate protestingly and I look around as I realise Rosy has left the room, maybe even the building.
"Show me that damned piece of paper!" I demand as I stalk towards Sam. He releases his hold on it when I grab it and pull on it.
There is a roaring in my ears and the words on the paper waver in my vision as I recognise one of the signatures at the bottom of the document. I have seen Rosy sign her name like that several times and I take a deep breath as a strange feeling begins to grow inside me.
Emotions churn inside me and impotent rage boils to the surface as I lift my chin to glare at Sam. I feel the urge to tear into him, rip him apart but I grit my teeth as I turn away. Savaging him won't change the fact Rosy belonged to another tom.
It hits me -- belonged. Past tense. They were no longer together when he died! My satisfaction is short lived as I remember the pain in her eyes and in the tone of her voice.
And, as I'm sure you can testify, that just because they hurt you, you don't stop loving them.
Rosy's words run through my mind and I turn away from everyone as I look for something inanimate to hit. My fist goes through the wall near the doorway and I am dimly aware of several toms moving away from me.
"What the hell is going on here?" Wade's voice pulls me from my dark thoughts and self-pity as I turn towards the doorway to face him. "I saw Rosy running off towards the tree-line by herself. She seemed upset so I sent Donny and Mikkarl to follow her at a distance,"
"You what?" I demand angrily. "You are no longer in a position to go around giving orders!" I growl aggressively as I take a step towards him.
"Micah! Wait!" Mitchell orders sharply and I turn my head towards him to eye him with a mixture of anger and wariness.
"We need to sit down calmly and discuss this," Mitchell says evenly and I realise what he is saying is true.
* * * * *
At the swimming hole, I sit against the trunk of a tree in the shade cast by its leaves and stare out over the water. I'm not surprised when a black cat steps from the trees on the far side of the swimming hole and walks to the waters edge to lap thirstily. It only takes me a few moments to recognise Donovan by his gangly appearance and I realise he will probaly get nearly as large as Micah before he finishes growing. A second cat appears out of the trees and stands beside Donovan for a few seconds before drinking as well. His tail twitches as he drinks and I see the little kink halfway along his tail that tells me it is Mikkarl. Donovan lifts his head and calls to me before watching me hopefully but when I don't respond other than to look away, he whines faintly and returns to the tree line to lay in the shade.
I feel raw inside and there is an ache in my chest. The baby moves restlessly and I keep one hand against my side where he kicks intermittently. Donovan calls to me at intervals but I have no wish for company and don't respond to him or react when Mikkarl moves into sight at times as he moves around.
It is nearly dark when I get to my feet and head into the trees looking for a place to relieve myself. I hear Donovan call to me several times urgently and realise he has lost sight of me. I am nearly tempted to call back to him but I need my own space, and if I answer, I know he will think it is an invitation to join me.
As the sunset paints the sky a kaleidoscope of colours, I realise how cool it is becoming and decide that heading back to the compound would be a good idea. It is silent except for the faint noises of the night creatures. I stop and listen hoping to hear Mikkarl and Donovan but there are no sounds from them and I realise they must have headed home. I have to slow down to be able to walk without stumbling over anything in the darkness under the trees. When I finally reach the tree line around the compound, I breathe a sigh of relief. I lengthen my stride as I walk over the smooth even ground and I am soon close enough to hear the muddle of voices coming from the quarters.
"Calm down! One at a time," I am uneasy to hear Wade's voice coming from the quarters.
"We can't leave Rosy out there overnight! She needs to eat and keep warm," Mitchell protests.
"We can't force her to come back. I don't think any of us want to chance her accidentally getting hurt because we all know that if she gets chased she will run," Malcolm says.
"I'm taking food and warm clothes out to the swimming hole and one or two other places," Micah announces.
"We put them up out of reach of normal animals. We all know Rosy climbs. I think she'd find them if she's still around." Steven puts in.
"I should have followed her but I thought she was going to the toilet. I didn't think she was going to run away." Donovan says sounding very close to tears.
"It's not your fault Donny," I hear Micah say as I ease the screen door open carefully. "We all will do whatever we can to try to make sure Rosy is okay."
"Rosy knows how to look after herself and I am sure she won't take any chances with the baby. She seems to want it, really want it." I am relieved to hear Sam's voice.
"I wish I hadn't woken Rosy this afternoon. We should have just knocked you out and tied you up," Steven mutters. I've heard enough and don't want to hear anymore so I make the screen door squeak and rock my foot on the loose board before heading down the hallway.
"Rosy! I bet it's Rosy," Donovan yells and races out the lounge room door to stand in the hall. He stares at me as if he's afraid to believe his eyes for a moment then grins widely. "You came back!" He nearly knocks me off my feet but catches hold of my shoulders and steadies me.
"Steady on there Donny, don't get too rough with Rosy," Micah cautions from the doorway. I hesitate a moment before easing away from Donovan and heading into the lounge room. Micah moves aside for me at the doorway and I walk by already looking for Sam. I spot him by the far end of the lounge and walk up to him to wrap my arms around him and rest my head against his chest. His arms go around me and I breathe a soft sigh of relief as he rests his cheek against the top of my head.
"You should have told us Spotty One," Sam tells me gently.
"At first I was too scared I'd get kicked out or something worse. Then later, I just didn't want to talk about it," I tell him quietly as I rub my face against his shirt.
"Life's given you more than your fair share of hard knocks," Sam commiserates softly.
"Yeah, it removed Jasper from my life so I could finally move on. Gave me two brothers, a clan, a second father and this baby ... get past that first hard slap to the side of the head and you're generally too dizzy to notice the pain," I tell him as I pretend to grind one of his feet beneath mine.
"But that first hard slap is the kil ... kicker hey," Sam says and eases me away from him. "You eaten?"
"Not yet. I didn't feel up to changing," I admit.
"Sit down and I'll get you some food. There's plenty left," Sam orders.
"Where's Jazzy?" I ask. All of the toms are watching me almost warily and I suddenly feel as if I need moral support.
"Jazzy is making use of the secure room," Dwayne informs me and enlightenment dawns on me as I realise she would be coming into heat. I nod and make my way to the lounge and sit in the centre of it. The room seems unnaturally silent with the TV off and no hum coming from either playstation. Donovan settles himself at my feet and leans back to look up at me while Wade makes his way to Micah's favourite chair to sit down. I dart several uneasy glances his way as I keep track of where he is in the room.
"Next time you go off by yourself, you are to be back before dark," Mitchell tells me firmly. "And there'll be someone not too far away making sure you're all right."
"It was Donovan and Mikkarl today," I say levelly with a glance their way. "Thanks for giving me my own space."
Mikkarl gives a brief nod and Donovan grins up at me. Mitchell sits down on one side of me while Micah sits on the other side. The rest of the toms, except for Sam, make themselves comfortable around the room. It isn't long before Sam comes in with a plate of warm food and I take it eagerly as the aromas remind me of how hungry I am.