Enter the Cat Ch. 03


"I've lost my clown Micah," Marissa says thickly and sniffs moistly. "Who will make me laugh now?"

"Lost is such a harsh way to think of it Mum," I tell her gently. "You haven't misplaced Alex. He is just in a place where you can no longer physically see or touch him. And I know he's still in your heart, in all our hearts."

The words come to me as I hold her and I give her a gentle squeeze and brush a kiss against her temple before allowing her to ease out of my embrace.

"How did I ever manage to find the most gentle heart and soul to put in such a large and powerful body," Marissa asks with a watery smile. "But then that heart needs a large body to contain it."

I smile at her familiar words and drop a kiss on her forehead before turning towards the door.

"I love you Mum," I tell her before heading outside.

I stop at the work shed to inform Timny and Chris that they need to pack. Timny is holding Donna who is crying and sends an angry glare my way while the other three warriors stand nearby silently. I glance at Donna one last time but she deliberately turns her back on me. I give a slight nod and head for the stone shed where Steven is doing some metal work.

"What doing?" Steven asks as I look at the small gate he is making.

"Wade is taking Marissa and the kitts away for a few days. I'm in the shit with him for breaking up with Donna and a few other things," I admit with a shrug.

"Let me guess," Steven says as he takes his leather work gloves off and half sits on an empty drum. "The few other things all have to do with Rosy."

"Yeah," I acknowledge, "he really does not want me near her."

"He wants better than a stray with no territory rights for his most promising son. You're Alpha material just waiting for an available she-kitt, and he knows it. Every Alpha with a young daughter knows it," Steven says evenly.

I don't make any comment; I know Wade has been subtly giving me Alpha training ever since I became head of the warriors that worked for the clan.

"I've been elected the one to speak to you about something else," Steven says seriously.

I nod but don't look his way. In my gut I know what is about to be asked of me and I know I won't be able to do it.

"Rosy," Steven says quietly and a low growl begins growing deep in my chest.

"We can't leave her like she is," Steven tells me and I turn my head to glare at him in rage.

"I won't be the one," I snarl.

"Micah, she's not crazy yet. At least Dwayne, Sam and I don't think so. But she's not far from it, and if she stays here ..." Steven breaks off and takes a deep breath.

"About an hour ago Mitchell accidentally brushed against her foot. She freaked out screaming at him not to hurt her. It's tearing us all apart, mate. She doesn't sleep more than an hour or two of a night, you and I are well aware of that. She is getting all she needs to eat and yet she guards her food viciously; she has even started watching others eat. She is becoming more animal than human and we wouldn't treat any animal like this," Steven says unhappily.

What Donna said comes to mind and I narrow my eyes as I turn my head to look at Steven thoughtfully.

"Hey!" Steven says abruptly as he gets to his feet and moves well back. "I am just the messenger."

"Wade should be leaving soon so our main problem will be Mitchell," I murmur to myself.

"What are you thinking?" Steven asks quietly but still from a distance.

"If we were discussing an animal I would say it's time to turn it loose and hope it can survive on its own," I say softly.

"Wade wouldn't like that," Steven warns.

"Leave me worry about him," I say remembering Wade's threat. "She would need a good night's sleep before she left so she is rested."

"I think there is some of the tranquilliser Doc left behind, if there was no other way, but still ..." Steven says shaking his head. He clearly hates the idea of drugging her as much as I do.

"The pressure point at the base of the skull," I say unhappily. "If Sam or I can get our hands on her before she thinks of turning cat – that pressure point will have her out in maybe ten or fifteen seconds. Once pressure is applied she won't be able to change."

"That'll only stress her out being touched..." Steven trails off with a frown, and then grins broadly.

"Hey! I bet there's still some of that herbal mixture left from when Justin broke his arm. Doc said it would make him drowsy and he'd sleep soundly after he got his arm set. It worked, " Steven says with growing excitement.

"As soon as Wade leaves tell Sam and Dwayne I need to talk to them. I'll go see Edwin and Malcolm, but I'll talk to them after Sam and Dwayne so no one is left by himself with Rosy. Just in case," I say firmly.

"What about Mitchell," Steven asks, "If he thinks you're going to upset Rosy ..."

"She needs the rest so she doesn't do herself serious damage when she takes the chance to make a run for it," I say flatly. "When he understands the alternative is to put an end to her going crazy ... he'll let her go."

"How will we work it so she takes off," Steven asks. "All of us go hunting leaving her here by herself?"

"No," I deny. "That's too out of character; she'd think it was some kind of a trap if she was capable of thinking. The others can go hunting and you and I can stay here ..." I trail off as I try to think of some reason for leaving Rosy alone for a period of time.

"She curls up, faking sleep a lot," Steven says thoughtfully. "Maybe we can let her think we buy it, and go where she is out of sight and hearing for a while?"

"Well we had better start thinking of something that will give her enough space that she feels secure enough to make a run for it." I say hating the idea of letting her run away but knowing we have no other choice.

* * * * * *

The scent of fear and panic permeate the air in the lounge room as it has the last few days whenever Rosy is in the same room as any of us warriors. I watch as Mitchell places her plate of food on the small end table near the chair along the wall where she sits huddled with up drawn legs.

As soon a Mitchell steps back several paces Rosy snatches the plate. One arm is instantly placed as a barrier should anyone try to touch the plate; the other hand grabs the fork on the plate and she begins eating hurriedly.

I feel relief to see she is using her previously crushed wrist as freely as her other one as she mixes the gravy into her mashed potatoes. The gravy contains the mixture I am hoping will make her sleep soundly so that she is well rested for tomorrow.

She catches me watching her and pulls her plate closer as she eats faster. The smell of her anxiety rises and her gaze darts around frantically. I look away from her and glance at my watch wanting to keep track of the time it should take for her to become very drowsy.

When everyone is finished eating I am worried to note Rosy is still guarding the now empty plate as she glances around almost slyly. A minute or two later she gets to her feet and I hear Sam and Dwayne move back into the hallway as she heads for the door. Her footsteps are rushed as she heads along the sunroom and then the bathroom door shuts noisily.

"Shit!" Malcolm hisses as we all jump to our feet. "She's not going to be sick from that stuff or pass out in there will she," he voices the concern that suddenly occurs to us all.

"Sam," I say tersely, "move to where you can hear if she were to pass out or something." I force myself to sit down once again and watch as Steven, Malcolm and Edwin slowly follow my example leaving only Mitchell standing.

Mitchell heads for the doorway and I hear Sam talking to him quietly. Dwayne comes and sits down in the lounge room and I strain to hear where Sam and Mitchell are. Time passes excruciatingly slowly and then I hear the faint click as the bathroom door opens. There is slight movement from either Sam or Mitchell and then Sam moves into sight.

"She just headed into your room," he tells me. "She was rubbing at her eyes so she might be starting to get drowsy."

The minutes drag by with agonising slowness; Sam moves restlessly in his chair while Steven drums his fingers anxiously on the arm of the lounge. I hear a soft tapping and glance at Edwin to see one of his legs jumping sporadically.

"We should have just used the damn tranquilliser," Edwin hisses.

I clench my jaw as I look away; I went to lengths explaining to him why it was important not to use a drug on Rosy. It was bad enough that I'd even had to resort to a more natural remedy that would soothe her to sleep.

There is a faint noise at the doorway and before I can turn my head I hear the slight scrap of booted feet shifting.

"She's asleep," Mitchell whispers sounding very anxious, "she is curled up in the far corner of your room asleep!"

"You're sure Rosy is asleep," Sam asks in a whisper as he gets to his feet. He is a step ahead of me as I move swiftly from my chair and head for the doorway.

Mitchell heads back towards the bedroom glancing continuously over his shoulder with an anxious frown as he moves up the sunroom. I push past both Sam and Mitchell when they halt in the doorway of the bedroom I share with Steven; I pause just inside the room as I take in the scent in the air.

Traces of fear and anxiety still remain but the scents do not rise higher with my presence or that of the toms behind me. Rosy lays huddled in the far corner, a blanket from my bed clutched in one hand and held against her chest as if for comfort.

"I'm going to put her in bed," I whisper and make sure I move silently as I approach where Rosy is in the corner looking very uncomfortable.

It is easy to scoop her up with one arm beneath her knees and the other arm behind her back. She trembles slightly and makes a faint sound, part complaint part whimper. I turn towards my bed and find Sam is already pulling the bedclothes back so that I can place her where she has been sleeping since he and his team had returned with injuries.

I am relieved when she doesn't stir as the covers are pulled up and over her. I tuck them close to her body to ensure she stays warm before turning back towards the door. All of the toms hover there and I jerk my head towards the lounge room as I reach the doorway.

Mitchell keeps stopping and glancing back towards the room with a tortured look on his face but he doesn't say a word as he makes his way to the lounge room. I thought he would protest the plan Steven and I came up with but surprisingly he had been the easiest to convince this needed to be done.

We all sit around the room in silence. Sam sits on the arm of Mitchell's chair leaning slightly against his brother while Dwayne sits on the floor between their feet. Edwin sits in a chair and Malcolm sits awkwardly on the arm, one foot on the seat behind Edwin while the other leg lies along the length of the arm. Edwin is leaning slightly into his partner's body. It is a long time since I have seen either of them needing comfort. Steven is on the lounge beside me, his back to me as he leans against my side while my arm is stretched out along the top of the lounge.

"Do you think Rosy will sleep all night?" Mitchell asks in a whisper.

"I made the herbs and gravy strong so hopefully she will sleep for a good stretch," Steven says and I feel the vibrations through his back as he talks.

"It's not too late for her is it," Mitchell agonises in a whisper. "She hasn't started to go crazy has she?"

No one answers and Sam puts his arm across Mitchell's shoulders. Dwayne whispers something at their feet and I realise how badly this is affecting Mitchell.

"Mitchell," I whisper and wonder why I am whispering but I don't raise my voice any louder when he looks my way. "Why don't you go keep Rosy company until I am ready to turn in? I'm sure she'll sleep better with you there. Sam, Dwayne, I don't want him alone with her in case she wakes up."

"Taking a chance, aren't you, letting lover-boy near her while she's out to it," Edwin taunts in a whisper.

He is up and out of the chair when I take him down in a tackle that has us both landing on the lounge before rolling off onto the floor. We struggle silently, not really trying to hurt each other despite our anger. I manage to get him onto his back and when I go to pin him down, the weight of a hard body knocks me to the side and then I hear the faint grunts of exertion as Malcolm and Steven join the fray.

Finally I subdue Edwin and glare down at him. We are both breathing heavily and I turn my head to see Steven calmly sitting on Malcolm while they both watch Edwin and me. I let go of Edwin and move to flop out flat on my back beside my brother. I hear movement and Steven crawls over top of us to sit beside me.

I glance at my watch but make no attempt to get up. I'll give Mitchell time to make his peace with the fact that once he leaves my room he won't be seeing Rosy again. I can't risk his distress communicating itself to her in the morning before all of us toms leave to go hunting leaving her by herself. None of us want her panicking and possibly making a frantic dash for freedom.

* * * * *

I grit my teeth as I glance down at my phone one last time before pressing the button that will autodial Wade's number. It has been twenty-four hours since we returned to the quarters to find Rosy gone and I dare not give her more of a head start than this. I have to trust that she has used the time well, travelling away from here at a fast pace.

"Wade speaking."

"Boss," I say formally, "we have a situation here. Rosy has disappeared. I think she has run off headed for where ever it is she used to hide out."

"Shit! Can't you do anything right," Wade yells angrily and I hear murmured concern in the background. I can hear the sound on his footsteps beneath his heavy breathing, the squeak of a door opening then closing and finally a low growl from him.

"Tell me what happened," he demands tautly.

"About an hour and a half ago I sent Sam, Dwayne, Mitchell, Edwin and Malcolm off to hunt. Steven and I stayed here with Rosy. Steven was replacing the last of the copper pipe in the bathroom and Rosy was curled up in a chair asleep. I made the mistake of going to check on how Steven was getting on; I was only gone five minutes at the most. When I went to check on her she was gone. What rags were left of her clothes were in the hallway," I say flatly. "The others aren't back from their hunt yet."

"She can't have gotten far on that injured wrist! Change and go after her," Wade orders angrily.

"Boss, she's been changing two and three times a day. Maybe even more we didn't know about," I say cautiously. "If I didn't know better she has been waiting for the slightest chance to escape as she would believe."

"And you weren't suspicious about the amount of times she changed?" Wade's rage makes his voice hoarse as he shouts down the phone at me.

"Her entire behaviour has been very erratic since she lost the kitts," I say through gritted teeth.

"Get after her!" Wade orders and takes a ragged breath. "I will deal with your incompetence when I get back!"

"Wade, I don't think that is a good idea." I say with a shake of my head. I hadn't orchestrated her freedom only to try to run her to ground and capture her.

"Get after her! She needs care and protection," Wade orders angrily.

"Wade I don't ..." I begin.

"Are you disobeying orders," Wade demands in a suddenly even tone.

I feel an unpleasant shiver run down my spine, I know that tone of voice and he only ever uses it when someone is about to get into big trouble.

"If we chase her and catch her either she is going to turn on us and someone will get hurt or ..." I lose my voice for a moment as I admit to myself what I believe is the more likely outcome. "Dad, it's a real possibility she will go to such extreme lengths to get away. She could end up killing herself."

There is silence on the other end of the phone for a few moments and then I hear a heavy sigh from Wade.

"Is that all," he asks sounding oddly flat.

"I let her go. I planned it all, made sure she would have a chance to run before she totally lost it and lashed out at one or all of us," I admit in an even and firm tone.

"You and I are going to have a very serious meeting when I get back," Wade says sounding tired. "In fact I might leave everyone here for a few more days and come home by myself. You've crossed a serious line Micah. I can't just let this go."

There is no goodbye before he hangs up and I shut the phone when the annoying buzz starts and glance at Steven where he stands nearby.

"He sounds pissed," Steven remarks.

"Well do we do our obligatory chase," Sam asks startling me.

I glance at the hallway door where the others are having arrived back from their hunt for breakfast. I am surprised to see Mitchell behind his brother; he had taken off yesterday when they returned from a morning hunt to find Rosy gone just as we believed she would be.

"She headed north through the national park, keeping to the heavy scrub all the way. I found tufts of rabbit fur several times, so it looks like she is hunting as she travels." Mitchell's voice is thick and I give a small nod at his information.

"Wade didn't say to go after her," I say raising my voice slightly. "We just hope for the best for her now."

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