To Love a Stray Ch. 09


"They're nearly here," Justin yells running into the room. "They're just outside."

I hear the screen door open and quickly load syringes, ampoules, needles and thread onto a clean paper plate and head for the bedroom leaving Dwayne to bring the water and peroxide.

"I've got the big bed covered," Dwayne says and I hear faint grunts of pain as they make their way towards the room.

I stand by the end of the bed as Steven is helped into the room and I get my first look at his injuries. It is obvious at first glance the fight occurred in cat form.

Steven, Chris and Mikkarl all lack any piece of clothing and I swallow my unease as I concentrate on each separate wound. He has long shallow scratches across his chest and right flank, bite punctures on one shoulder, but the most worrying by far is the bite marks on one side of his throat.

"Any wounds on your back," I ask. Chris and Mikkarl help him turn around and I am relieved to see only several long shallow scratches on his back, but he does have deep claw marks across the back of one thigh.

"Face down so I can do the back of the thigh first to stop the bleeding," I order. "Then I want a close up look at that neck wound."

Faced with stitching up Steven's wounds I block out everything but what I am doing. I work quickly, numbing and cleaning the claw marks before picking up needle and suture thread. I bite my bottom lip before taking the first stitch and easing the edges of the wound together. It all flows back, the countless times I have stitched wounds in my job, and my fingers fly as I quickly work.

"Turn him over and someone grab a towel or something," I mutter as I stand and arch my back. The neck wound looks nasty with puncture marks and a hanging flap of skin. I numb the area and clean the wound before commencing stitching.

Nearly half an hour later, I tie off the last stitch on the long, shallow scratch across the top of his chest. I quickly measure out a dose of antibiotics and half a dose of painkiller. The injection is given before Steven realises what I am about and I move away as I stretch stiffly.

"Everyone else is back. Sam's been stitched up and he and Micah are working on Mitchell. The others have a few wounds each but Wade said unless anything needs immediate attention they can wait for Doc to return," Dwayne tells me.

"Where are they," I demand fear for my brothers filling me.

"Can I have a shower," Steven asks.

"Get someone to go in the room in case you get dizzy from blood loss or something. I don't want to stitch up split heads," I tell him.

"I'll see to it," Mikkarl says.

"What room, Dwayne," I demand as I head for the door with my supplies.

"Out in the kitchen. Mitchell is refusing to lie down while Edwin is in the building," Dwayne explains and I head for the kitchen hurriedly not sure what to expect.

Mitchell is sitting on a kitchen chair leaning on the back of it with his arms crossed over the top of it and his chin resting on his forearms. He stares into the lounge room where Edwin is sitting in one of the lounge chairs, a wad of material held against his ribs.

Sam is putting stitches in long deep claw marks down one side of Mitchell's back while Micah threads another needle. Wade is standing back by the sink watching with a tight face. I spot Robby sitting on the floor by the fridge sporting an array of bruises; I look around and see Malcolm sitting on the floor in the hallway smeared with blood across his chest and one thigh.

"How's Steven," Wade asks.

"I've stitched him up best I can. A lot of stitches but the worst are his neck and the back of his leg," I answer.

"You stitch everything up that needs stitches," Micah asks.

"She's thorough, fast and as neat as you and Doc," Dwayne cuts in.

"Micah, leave Sam to work on his brother while you go get that side of yours fixed up," Wade orders.

Micah puts the needle down and when he turns away from Mitchell I see the three deep claw marks tracing around his ribs for the first time. The fourth one is much shallower and probably won't need stitches. He heads for his room and I follow behind him suddenly uneasy. He is sitting on the edge of his bed when I enter the room and study his wounds for a few moments. I quickly numb around the wounds then set to work cleaning the long slashes.

"Did any of you get to eat," I ask.

"No." His reply is clipped and short. With the wounds clean I quickly thread a needle and set to work stitching. By the time I finish the second slash, Steven has returned from his shower and he grins as he eyes Micah's side.

"How bad did you beat your brother up," Steven asks.

"Mitchell put him down on his back and made him submit," Micah says tightly.

"Mitchell? Holy shit," Steven says getting comfortable on his bed. "You think he's going to go after your spot?"

"I don't think so. Wade tried to break them up but Edwin kept going after Mitchell and Mitchell realized he couldn't turn his back on him," Micah says and glances down at what I am doing. "You can't do continuous stitches like that or they'll tear out when I change."

"I'll cut the connecting threads when I get to the end. Saves picking up the scissors and putting them down again with every stitch," I mutter as I concentrate. Micah grunts and seems about to argue but I reach the end of the slash and turn my attention to snipping each connection. I start on the last deep slash and quickly stitch it taking care to make sure the flesh sits evenly.

"Are these the only ones," I ask as I dismiss the last scratch.

"Want me to take off my pants so you can check," Micah asks with a grin.

"No thanks. I have enough to laugh at as it is," I say dryly.

"Cruel," Steven laughs.

"I'm going to check on Mitchell," I say and head for the kitchen. I find Sam still at work stitching Mitchell's back up and I move around to his side for a better view. There are numerous pink scratch marks and half healed grazes on Mitchell's skin and I realise how brutal the fight must have been.

"You all finished stitching," Sam asks.

"Yeah," I answer quietly.

"Just a few more, Mitch, and I'll be done," Sam directs his comment at our brother.

"A few swigs of whiskey would go down well," Mitchell comments and I hurry to find him a bottle of liquor.

"Hey Rosy, you gonna come stitch me up," Edwin calls invitingly.

I ignore him, angry over the violence of the injuries he has given Mitchell.

"You shut up Edwin! You've caused enough trouble already," Wade orders angrily.

"These darned claw marks over my ribs won't stop bleeding and they've opened up old wounds," Edwin calls back.

"I'll sew him up; sew his damned mouth shut as well," Micah snarls from the door of the lounge room.

"Micah! Back off," Wade orders as he heads for the lounge room. I glance that way to see Micah glaring at Edwin while Wade checks his injuries; Wade makes an angry sound in his throat as he straightens up and glares down at Edwin.

"Some of those injuries aren't that old. Who the hell have you been fighting with," Wade demands.

"We had a slight disagreement yesterday," Micah says calmly in the face of his father's anger.

"What else don't I know about," Wade demands.

"Rosy was spooked and ran from the fight. She got hurt, that's why Doc was here this morning," Micah says evenly.

"As a warrior your first priority is to protect all she-kitts, is it not? You got involved in a fight you had to know would scare Rosy. Is that doing your job? I don't think so! As Alpha I am responsible for all females under my care and you allowed one of them to be hurt!" Wade is outraged and clearly fighting for control of his temper.

"I should have ..." Micah starts.

"A she-kitt got hurt and you didn't see fit to tell me," Wade yells and heads my way. I move closer to Sam and he slips an arm around me as he stops stitching Mitchell's injury.

"Doc cleared Rosy for changing this morning and she's already much better after one change," Sam says quietly.

"Is that why you're limping," Wade demands of me.

"My hip is sore but I'll be better after another change or two. I didn't know changing helps things heal lots quicker," I murmur quietly, scared by his rage.

Wade considers me silently for a few moments and I am sure he knows how scared I am because of the aggression in the two rooms.

"I want to know if there are any problems in the future and I had better hear that Rosy has recovered fully in the next few days," he snaps before looking at Mitchell's back. "Edwin needs stitches in his side now; it can't wait for Doc to get here."

"Doc said he left sedative here last time I run off ... knock him out and I'll stitch his side up," I say coldly.

"Oh come on Rosy, I'll behave for you," Edwin whines at me.

"You got both of my brothers hurt and you think I'm going to care if I'm causing more pain stitching you up than when the pain first hit after the injury," I ask in a deadly voice. Edwin looks at me and wisely keeps silent as I glare at him.

"I'll get the sedative," Micah says and heads towards the bedrooms.

"I am not getting knocked out here! There's no guarantee I'll ever wake up," Edwin denies before Micah reaches the door.

"They weren't just going to make Steven back-off; he was going to put Mitchell out of the picture at least for a while," Micah declares angrily. "This was an outright challenge of my authority and position!"

"Get the sedative, and before you protest again, Edwin, you get stitched up here then taken to the main house. Malcolm and Robby can spend the night locked in the containment room for their own safety. Tomorrow I am going to get to the bottom of all this business," Wade orders, his authority ringing in his voice.

"Let me finish up here," Sam says gently beside my ear and I move away wanting to hold Mitchell's hand, but I know it would be seen as weakness on his part by some of the others.

When Micah returns, Wade takes the syringe from him and goes over to Edwin, making him move to the lounge before giving him the injection. Within minutes Edwin is out cold and I gather what I will need.

"I'm finished here now," Sam says, "I'll give you a hand Rosy."

When I get my first clear view of Edwin's wound, I am glad for Sam's offer of help. The new claw marks have torn open one of the older claw marks leaving a large flap of skin and tissue dangling. I set about cleaning the wound taking special care to clean out beneath the piece of skin and am pleased when I finish this task. I use several dissolving stitches to hold the flap in place before starting to stitch the long gouges.

By the time I am finished stitching I am sick from the smell of blood and aggression that still clings to the toms. I clean my tools and pack them away before heading towards the back door to go outside away from the smells. I barely glance up when Dwayne and Chris carry Edwin over to the main house under the directions of Wade. They return and take Malcolm and Robby over to the stone shed.

"Hey Rosy, Timny and Justin are cooking up a feed. You come back in and join us when you're ready ok," Dwayne says as he stops and squats beside me where I sit against the side of the building. I nod but don't say anything and he gives my shoulder a gentle squeeze before heading inside. I sit outside for a few more minutes before getting to my feet and heading inside so no one would feel they had to come and find me.

Steven is stretched out on the lounge and goes to get up when I walk in the room but I shake my head at him.

"You stay there," I say before heading to the kitchen and washing up at the sink. Dwayne hands me a towel to dry my hands then turns me towards the lounge room.

"You go sit down with Steven," he orders before turning back to help Justin, Timny and Chris finish putting the food on large platters.

Mikkarl comes to the lounge room doorway and I see he is helping Mitchell who is limping heavily on one leg. I can hear Micah and Sam talking in soft murmurs at the

other end of the building but I pull an end table over for Mitchell to rest his leg on when he sits in one of the lounge chairs before I sit on the floor in the middle at the front of the lounge.

"Food's ready," Justin calls as they carry in the platters of food.

Dwayne brings in a paper plate that he hands to me. Micah and Sam make their way out from the other rooms and sit down on either side of me. Micah takes my plate and fills it with food before passing it to Steven.

"I got that for Rosy so she doesn't have to worry about us all eating from the same tray," Dwayne informs his brother.

"Rosy'll be right," Micah tells him.

"We'll look after you," Sam says with a grin in my direction before passing me a large mince patty between two slices of bread. We all eat in silence. Sam and Micah hand me food as we go until I shake my head and lean back relaxing as I watch them all finish the food off.

"I was mighty pleased to see you didn't turn on me Chris," Micah comments as Dwayne hands around several bottles of rum and bourbon.

"I didn't consider it my fight against you," Chris says levelly. "I got no problems with the way things are or were."

"Glad you see it that way," Micah says as he stretches and lays his arm along the lounge behind me. "So has anyone got a problem with me or the way I run things around here?" There is silence for several minutes as he waits for any possible replies.

"Does anyone in this room have a problem with anyone else in this room," Micah asks inviting the others to speak up.

"Yeah, I got a big problem with the way Rosy runs away from us," Sam says flatly. "Point in case: yesterday."

"I wasn't running away from you!" I deny hotly. "It was all the aggression near the food. I could smell it and feel it rolling off Edwin and Micah in waves! It was like having claws rip across my nerves!"

"You kept running and you made that stupid jump," Mitchell shoots at me.

I get to my knees and turn to face him across Sam and Dwayne. "And I was being chased! By cats that had claws and teeth to use if they caught me," I yell at him angrily.

"Why did you stop? Because you were injured," Mitchell demands just as angry as me.

"No! You all stopped chasing me! Stopped scaring me and I could think beyond RUN! I heard you guys calling me! Not just a bunch of cats out to hurt me!" I yell as the tears start leaking from my eyes. "That's when I knew I was safe and not about to be ripped apart," I go to jump to my feet but find myself clasped to Micah's chest. I struggle briefly but stop when his hold merely tightens.

"You want to yell at us some more? We were all chasing you, we were all hoping to catch you before you hurt yourself," Micah tells me.

"Well don't chase me! It's hearing you behind me chasing me that does it," I protest as I try to lean away from him.

There is silence for several minutes before Micah speaks again. "Anyone else with a complaint or problem?"

"Yeah the whiskey bottle is empty," Steven protests.

"Justin grab another bottle, would you, and there's beer in the fridge if you'd like one," Micah says.

"Great!" Justin is quick to comply with the request and I wonder how much of it is the lure of a beer and how much is wanting to get away from my yelling.

"You going to sit down again or are you going to yell at your brother some more," Micah asks. I shake my head and push away from Micah careful not to touch his injured side. I move back to my spot and settle down to wipe the tears from my face.

"I'm going to change to heal these stitches a bit. Anyone else," Micah asks.

"Me too," Sam says.

"I'm in as much pain as I want to handle. I'd prefer to wait til morning," Mitchell grimaces even as he gets to his feet.

"I'll wait. Not disrespecting your needle work Rosy, but I'd like Doc to take a look at my neck before I change," Steven tells me.

"Well you are my first werecat patient ... other than myself," I admit.

"I'm changing here so either run and hide in your room, close your eyes or watch the show," Micah tells me with a huge grin as I turn my head to look at him.

"You just want to get your clothes off around her," Steven laughs as I cover my face with both hands.

"Yeah but it's getting her clothes off that's the point," Micah shoots back with a laugh.

"Well if you want Rosy to change as well you should ask her, not try to blind her," Steven laughs.

"No! I'm not taking my clothes off or changing in the same room as you," I deny before I can be asked. It's hard enough forcing myself to trust they aren't going to hurt me, but to place myself in such a vulnerable position as being naked near them is more than I can handle.

"It's your right to choose," Micah says.

There is silence for a few moments then the first of the sounds that tell me someone is changing. Soon the noises come from several different directions and I slowly turn my head to peek between my hands. A quick glimpse is all I need to tell me all three toms are changing and I close my eyes and cover my face once again. I listen nervously until the sounds stop and I hear a cat yawn. Slowly I uncover my face and turn my face towards them.

Mitchell, the smallest of the three, walks over and begins to rub his cheek on my knee. I gasp and jump then laugh nervously; it is the first time I have been so close to someone in cat form who has not been intent on attacking me while I am in human form. I reach out and touch his head only to jerk my hand back almost instantly. He blinks at me and turns his head slightly onto the side as if he doesn't understand my reactions. I reach out a second time and this time I don't jerk my hand away. I reach behind his ears and scratch remembering how good it feels.

"Your fur feels so silky smoothe," I say in wonder. Something nudges my other knee and I look startled to find Sam rubbing his head on my thigh. I laugh as I place my other hand near his face and he rubs his cheek against the palm of my hand.

"This is cool," I say in amazement as my brothers rub against my hands. I move to kneel on the floor and laugh as Mitchell rubs against my side nearly knocking me over. Sam moves to stand in front of me and I put my arms around his chest and hug him. Mitchell pushes his nose against my side and I hug him as well but I am careful not to bump any place where he might have stitches.

A huge head pushes in against my chest and I run my hands down over Micah's powerful shoulders. I can feel the muscles ripple beneath his fur as he moves and I run my hand along under his stomach. He turns around and I run my hand the length of his tail careful not to grasp it too hard or pull it as he turns to face me. He rubs his head against my shoulder and I find myself knocked back against the lounge as he lowers his head to rub it against my stomach.

Micah lifts his head and sniffs at my face before moving closer, running his cold nose across my collarbone and up the side of my neck to sniff just below my ear noisily. I laugh as I push his head away and sit up straight once again. He turns his attention to my legs sniffing from my knees down to my feet before licking the bottom of my foot making me gasp and attempt to get my foot away from him.

"He wants you to change," Steven tells me.

"No, I don't want to," I deny quickly glancing around uneasily. Micah huffs noisily then lays down beside me his body pressing gently against my leg. I settle myself comfortably once again and sit with one hand resting on his shoulders.

I notice Sam and Mitchell have stretched out comfortably near by and they are busy grooming themselves. I find myself scratching down along Micah's backbone to the base of his tail. He rolls onto his side and when I stroke the soft fur on his stomach, he rolls onto his back with his four legs in the air.

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