Two of a Kind Ch. 04

byCia81©

Bashta worked his shoulders, his hands flexing as the white tips of his claws slid in and out of his fingers. The beeping of the machines worked on his nerves. He had a goal earlier and was able to overcome his fear and unease about the modern machinery around him. Now that Merilyn was out of his hands he didn't know what to do with himself. A soft whine in his throat got Cavel's attention.

Cavel's scent surrounded him as his arms wrapped around him. He whimpered again as he shuddered. Bashta turned, sliding his arms around Cavel's waist and burying his face against the strong neck of his mate. Cavel soothed him, rubbing his hands up and down Bashta's back.

Bashta's lips moved almost silently against the skin of his neck. "What if she dies?" he whispered.

"She won't."

"How do you know?"

Cavel's hands slid up Bashta's neck as he leaned back. He stared at Bashta's beautiful eyes that were so full of pain. "Because you're here. The Jaguar wouldn't have sent you to me if the kitlings were going to die anyway. Without you, Merilyn wouldn't have made it to today, much less received the antiserum the doctors could only make from your blood." His thumbs caressed the lean cheeks, wiping away the few tears that slipped from Bashta's eyes.

"She'll be okay," he said softly.

"I don't know if I can believe that right now. I'm afraid this won't work." More tears fell as Bashta nuzzled his cheek into Cavel's warm hands.

"I know. It's okay to be afraid but we have to believe. We have to trust that the Jaguar would not have brought us together if there was no hope. The antiserum will work, the kitlings will recover, and we will put this plague behind us. Then we will be together; I'll take you home and we won't leave our bed for a week."

That made Bashta give him a weak smile.

Cavel smiled back and then kissed him gently. "We just have to trust."

"I trust you. I just keep picturing how my siblings must have laid in their beds, just like Merilyn is now, while I was being cured at the Temple. Except no one could save them, there were no magical cures or shiny machines. Why? Why did this happen to my family and your clan? Why was I the only one spared?"

Cavel hugged Bashta to him. "I don't know, no one does. Maybe the spirits but they don't share their wisdom very often. I'm sorry your clan wasn't saved. I know it's not fair that they didn't have the same chance Merilyn has, that you had. I know how you must feel; the pain you have to feel that our clan will survive while your family had to die."

Bashta shook his head violently. "No, I don't begrudge the chance we have to save your clan. I really don't."

"I know, I know," Cavel soothed. "You just wish..."

"Yeah." Bashta nodded his head. He drew in a deep breath and looked up. "But now I have another chance. A new family and a new home."

Cavel smiled at him. "Yes you do. A new clan to help take the sadness from the one you lost. We will never replace them but our people love and trust you already. Just as I love and trust you."

"I love you too."

***

Saulle led the throng of clan that rushed out of the community center to surround the jeep. They stood silently watching as two men got out. Merilyn's mother and father were surrounded by their friends and family, the smell of fear flooding the air. They rushed up to Cavel, looking at him fearfully in the predawn light. Shadows of the pain they had endured were stretched across their faces as they felt their grasp fail on their last thread of hope.

"Where is my daughter? Why didn't you bring her back, she's dead, isn't she? Where is my Merilyn?" Completely panicked, Merilyn's mother fell into Cavel's arms as she struggled to get to the car behind him. Cavel's head bent down to slowly whisper in her ear, her renewed sobs shattering the stillness as everyone watched silently.

Cavel reached out and put his hand on Shawnel's arm and squeezed. The sympathy on his face made the man blanch. The doctor stood to one side by the car, his face impassive as he held his black medical bag.

"Oh god, no!" Shawnel fell to his knees. "She died!"

"No!" Cavel passed the sobbing woman to Saulle. He was Arenna's brother and Merilyn's rapid descent toward death had pained him as much as watching his own wife and kitling slowly get sicker. Saulle held her close to him and hugged her.

There faint beginnings of hope on his face.

Cavel dropped to his knees beside Shawnel and gripped his shoulders, making him look up and into his eyes. "She's alive!"

Shawnel stared at him, his eyes not seeing him as his mind teetered on a total shut down. Cavel shook him a little. "I swear to you, she's alive and was getting better even as we left."

"She's alive?" Shawnel's breath came in small pants as he struggled to control himself. "She... she's not, she didn't..." His arms came up and latched onto to Cavel's shoulders, his claws tearing his shirt and piercing Cavel's skin in his shock and relief.

"Your daughter is still very sick," Dr. Waddel told the stunned couple, "but she should recover in time. Dr. Pennelst has stayed with her to keep an eye on her recovery and create more antiserum. I trust him implicitly."

Arenna looked over at Cavel from her spot in Saulle's arms. "Where is your mate?" she asked. "We have to thank him for saving our daughter."

"He stayed with Merilyn. He wouldn't leave her alone, not until you could come be with her. He is very... attached to her."

"He is a good man and he will be a great mate for you," Saulle said. "I am glad you didn't listen to me." Cavel looked at him gratefully, nodding over the heads of stunned parents. Their grieving was cautiously turning to hope that what Cavel and the doctor said was true. Saulle helped his sister over to her mate. Shawnel managed to let Cavel go as he stood to gather her in his arms.

"Can we go be with her?"

"Yes," Dr. Waddel said. "The clinic is set up to house parents of the younglings we treat. I understand how much touch affects Carthera patients. Merilyn won't be miraculously healed but I know she wants you."

Arenna gasped. "She spoke?"

Merilyn had stopped speaking before Bashta and Cavel made it home, her happy giggles reduced to pained whimpers and cries. Arenna had given up ever hearing her precious voice again. Shawnel looked to Cavel who smiled at him and nodded.

"She asked for you," Cavel said with a soft smile, "and for her lovey."

Shawnel's wife began sobbing again, her hands clenched in her mate's shirt. He stroked her back and rubbed her neck. "She asked for us, Arenna. She's going to be okay. You don't have to be afraid anymore, Bashta did it. They saved her." Arenna nodded her head, still unable to speak.

"Sometimes a mother has to see for herself," Saulle said gently. "Katrelen can fly you to the clinic."

"And bring Bashta back," Cavel said, missing his mate by his side.

They had only been bonded for a week but it felt as if it had been years. Already he relied on Bashta's presence. Turning to him for advice, comfort, companionship had become essential to Cavel. Without him it was as if the entire side of his body felt cold and the place in his mind where he usually heard Bashta echoed uncomfortably.

Faintly, he felt love come through their bond. Stretched thin as it was, the fact that Bashta felt him and sought to reassure him hammered home the love he had found and how miserable he had been without it.

"Bring him back as soon as you can," Cavel ordered Katrelen in his firmest alpha voice. He was ready to heal his people and put this tragic time behind him, though they still had many questions left to answer.

Still, finding his mate was a source of joy to his soul, even with the traumatic beginning his mating had endured. He was ready for that alone time he had promised Bashta but first he needed his mate.

Saulle smiled and chuckled at Cavel's eagerness. "You heard your alpha."

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