To Love a Stray Ch. 09


He rolls onto his stomach and rests his chin on my thigh for several moments before moving out of reach. I lean forward and reach towards him just to run my fingers through his fur again.

"Rosy no! Micah's about to change. Don't touch him," Steven warns and I sit back pulling both hands close to my body.

"I didn't realise," I say and watch in fascinated awe as he begins the changes that will render him human once again. I look away in flustered embarrassment when Micah stands up and faces me and I realise he is once again human and naked. I hear his soft laugh and the whisper of material then the rasp of a zip.

"It's safe to look now," Micah says his voice coloured with laughter. "Mitchell, let me look at that back of yours."

I watch while he parts the fur to inspect Mitchell's wounds pronouncing his approval of their condition before Mitchell moves aside and Micah checks some stitches on Sam's hind leg when Sam moves closer for inspection. Micah turns so Steven can see his side and lifts his arm up standing still for a few long moments.

"How do they look?"

"The top line needs another change. There's still a lot of barely sealed slash," Steven announces.

"That doesn't surprise me. Edwin wasn't mucking around when he got his claws into me," Micah grunts angrily he settles down to sit beside me once again. "Did you guys think to cook extra?"

"Yeah there's some cooked meat on a plate in the microwave. Plenty for when you three have changed back," Timny answers.

"How's the pain? Do you need something," Micah asks Steven.

"Rosy hit me with some of that stuff she has. The pain is mostly gone but I'm still aware not to move too much or too fast," Steven informs Micah.

"And broad spectrum antibiotic," I add. "Claws hold lots of bacteria."

"You're good with the needle and thread," Micah comments.

"Plenty of practise on animals in the vet surgery and quite a few on farms," I shrug his compliment off.

"How do you get close to animals? Most take off as soon as they get a whiff of us," Dwayne asks.

"I stumbled onto a way to hide my scent. Plus I make special effort to be as noisy as a human. No stalking or slinking," I say with another shrug.

"So what's this scent hiding secret," Steven asks casually - too casually.

"I take my personal scent off, fold it up real small and tuck it in my back pocket," I say with a snort of disdain. I still don't trust any of them enough to divulge my secret.

"If you hide your scent how come we can smell you," Justin asks curiously.

"Because I haven't been hiding my scent," I say glancing his way.

"Seriously, how do you do it," Steven asks and I glance in his direction uncomfortably. I shake my head as I get to my feet.

"I'm off to bed, goodnight." I hurry from the room and retreat to the small room that has been converted from a storeroom to a bedroom just for me, even if I do tend to sleep in someone else's bed rather than sleep alone. I can hear the toms breathing and moving occasionally in their seats in the lounge room when I climb into the bed.

"She still doesn't trust us completely," Micah says and I strain my ears to listen to any replies.

"Personally I think Rosy is doing real well to trust us as much as she does," Sam says. He must have been changing back when we were talking and I hadn't noticed. I wonder if Mitchell is still in cat form or if he has changed as well.

"The only way she'll learn to trust us is to stick around as long as possible. See for herself how we treat her," Micah sounds like he has been drinking some of the whiskey, his voice slightly raspy.

"Rosy did admit yesterday that she wants to come back because Sam and I are here," Mitchell comments and I distinguish the sound of a zipper closing.

"I notice she has stopped wanting to rip heads off every time being related is mentioned and you two don't seem so pissed off about her being raised as a human," Chris says quietly.

"It's all quite complicated but the three of us have tried to make our peace about it," Sam states simply.

"Well she's certainly warming up to Micah. Yesterday after he stitched her up and was going to give her that painkiller – which is great stuff by the way – she didn't rip his head off when he mentioned he intends on being able to give her children one day.

And that was after she had threatened him with that tool thingy," Steven says with a soft laugh.

I sit up in bed as I hear that remark and frown. I think back carefully on the previous day and realise that Micah had indeed made that comment but I hadn't taken it in at the time. I had been too worried about whether or not I would be able to avoid getting the needle that would end up knocking me out.

"She was more interested in keeping her eyes on the syringe than anything else. She really seemed freaked out about being vulnerable," Micah says softly.

"I can understand that. I wasn't too keen on the thought of having Edwin and Malcolm in here while I'm laid up like this," Steven admits tightly.

There is silence for a few moments then the toms start talking again but this time it sounds like they are heading outside or into the kitchen and I lay back down again. I lay awake for a long time and hear the toms as they make their way to their rooms. I hear someone maybe Dwayne helping Micah get Steven to their room then the hushed sounds of night take over.

I wake several times during the night with nightmares I can't remember that leave me shaking and crying. I pull my blankets closer and cuddle my pillow miserably because Sam and Mitchell are both injured and I don't want to disturb their sleep.

"Hey Rosy, you okay?" I turn towards the door at the sound of Chris' voice and sit up slightly.

"Can you sleep in here with me," I ask softly. I want, no need, his physical presence even though I suspect he won't touch me sexually unless I make it clear I want him to.

"Bad dreams," Chris asks as he gets into the narrow bed beside me.

"Yeah," I confirm as I cuddle up against his side. He cuddles me close resting his chin against my temple and his hand in the small of my back. I close my eyes and sigh softly with contentment when no unnamed terrors make me look around the dark room.

I wake in the hour before dawn and slip from Chris's arms to enjoy a shower before I remember my own stitches and decide to change. My hip still hurts during the change but I do it slower like Mitchell told me and I am soon walking through the building silently. I pause in the doorway of Micah and Steven's room and stand there a few moments to sniff Steven's scent. It is the quickest way for me to check his health without disturbing him.

I prowl around the kitchen and lounge room sniffing the faint traces of scent left behind from the night before then head outside and trot around in the cool grass for a few minutes before heading back inside.

I return to the bathroom to change before dressing and heading out to the lounge room with tweezers, a small mirror and a suture blade so I can sit on the lounge and

hopefully remove my own stitches before anyone wakes up. I have removed all the stitches and I am running my hand over the site of the wound, checking for any signs that it still needs to heal when I hear footsteps heading my way.

"Good morning," Sam says as he heads for the kitchen. "What are you up to?"

"Removing my stitches," I answer evenly.

"I'm not even going to go into the should you have thing. Want a cup of coffee while I start breakfast," Sam asks.

"I'll make the coffee for both of us, and I changed again so my stitches were to come out. Some should have come out last night, according to Doc, but it got forgotten in everything," I say getting to my feet before heading towards the coffee pot.

"Your leg feel better," Sam asks with a quick glance my way.

"As good as new. The hip joint is slightly tender and my shoulder's fine." I say with a smile. "How are your injuries?"

"Nothing serious, and one change fixed them. Would you mind taking a cup of coffee and two pain tablets in for Mitchell? He'd probably prefer to see you rather than me," Sam tells me with a smile when I glance his way.

"Is he okay," I ask in concern.

"He'll be fine in a day or two. You might take Steven in the same when he starts moving around," Sam mentions.

I return to making the coffee, putting extra cups out to fill before passing Sam his freshly made coffee. I pick up the cup I made for Mitchell along with the pain tablets and head for his room. He is propped up in bed and grins when he sees me.

"Coffee and little white capsules," I tell him with a smile.

"Good, I'll take them and get up in a little while. How's my favourite sister this morning," Mitchell asks with a cheeky grin.

"I'm fine," I say handing him his coffee and tablets before sitting on the edge of his bed. "Can I ask why you got involved in the fight yesterday?"

"Edwin might be a top class warrior but not the calibre of tom that Steven is. Do you understand what I mean," Mitchell asks seriously.

"You believe Steven is the better person ... tom/werecat, call it what you want," I say meeting his gaze levelly.

"Yeah. Steven is just as good a warrior as him, I wasn't saying he isn't," Mitchell makes that clear and I nod. He watches me closely for a minute before taking the

tablets and swallowing them. "What are you thinking," he asks before taking several swallows of coffee.

"I don't know what you mean," I say glancing towards the door as I hear someone approaching on their way to the kitchen or lounge room.

"Okay if you want to play it that way," Mitchell says quietly.

"I'm not playing anything," I say levelly when I look back at him.

"So how are you this morning? I notice you're not limping," Mitchell comments.

"Good, nearly completely better," I say as I ease off the bed. "You coming out to eat?"

"Yeah once the pills kick in," Mitchell tells me.

I leave him to go and check on Steven. I pause in the doorway and look in the room. Micah isn't in the room and I can tell by his breathing that Steven is awake. I head out to the kitchen and make another two cups of coffee before heading towards Micah and Steven's room; I can hear someone moving around in it as I approach the door.

"Hallo, anyone want a cup of coffee?" I ask as stop in the doorway.

"Yeah, come in. You wouldn't have any of the painkillers Doc left would you," Steven asks with a tight smile.

"Sure do," I say as I stop beside Micah who is looking for a clean shirt. "Coffee?" I ask him offering one of the cups.

"You're a life saver Sweetheart," Micah tells me with a smile and I move over to where Steven is sitting himself up in bed. He takes the capsules I tip from the bottle into his hand and follows it with nearly half of his coffee. I climb onto the bed and sit on my legs as I glance between the two toms. Steven grins at me obviously pleased with my presence.

"I changed this morning and took my stitches out afterwards. My leg's all good," I announce.

"Show me," Micah orders. I take a deep breath about to protest then decide against it as I turn my leg and show him the mark. I brush my hand over it and glance between Micah and Steven once again.

"No lumps or soreness," Micah asks.

"It seems all good," I answer.

"Take it easy on it for a few changes. Muscles take longer to heal than skin," Micah warns.

"Ok," I say guardedly, expecting more than this but neither makes any further comments.

"Sam's started breakfast. I'll go help him," I say as I slip from the seat on the bed.

"Let someone else do it. You take it easy," Steven tells me. I smile at him from the doorway and give a shrug before heading for the kitchen.

In the kitchen Dwayne and Timny are helping Sam with the breakfast so I head off to the lounge room with a glass of juice. I'm sitting in one of the chairs when Mitchell makes his way out to the room limping and moving stiffly. Justin and Chris are with him and all three of them take up chairs around the room. I turn my head and listen when I hear the faint sounds that tell me Steven is coming and I watch a few minutes later when he makes his way to the lounge with help from Mikkarl. Micah heads through to the kitchen and I smile at Steven when he sends a strained grin my way as he settles himself on the lounge.

"Food's ready," Sam announces as he comes in carrying a plate of food for Mitchell.

I watch surprised as Micah does the same for Steven, but I remember how I have been told on several occasions that clan members look out for each other. But it is more than that I realise as I remember that Micah and Steven work as partners as do Sam and Mitchell while they work as warriors. I go out to the kitchen with the others and hang back slightly as usual as they grab their first picks of the food. When a few of them step back chewing on food and waiting for others to fill their plates I move forward and quickly fill my plate before heading back to the lounge room. I am sitting in the chair eating when the screen door opens and Donovan and Jazzy rush into the building.

"Hey! Where is everyone," Donovan calls.

"In here," Dwayne answers and the two youngsters come into the room wide eyed.

"Did you and Edwin have a fight," Donovan demands as he stares wide-eyed at Micah.

"That was the day before yesterday. Why?" Micah asks.

"Edwin is all clawed up and in a real bad mood. He wants to come here but Dad won't let him," Jazzy says seriously. "He's being a real arsehole."

"Who, your father," Micah asks dryly.

"Noooo! Edwin," Jazzy answers with a toss of her head.

"Don't use that kind of language Jazzy," Dwayne tells her.

Jazzy walks over and picks up a piece of my bacon popping it into her mouth and chewing noisily, "Hhhmmmmm, that's good."

"Jazzy, " Micah asks, "Did you have breakfast at the house?"

"Yeah, Mum made pancakes," Jazzy answers and takes another piece of my bacon and pops it into her mouth.

"Well then leave Rosy's food alone and let her eat," Micah orders firmly.

"Yeah don't touch Rosy's food. She got real mean the time I wanted some of her food," Donovan says staring at his sister with worried eyes.

"Rosy's a lot more civilised now but that is her breakfast you were eating," Micah says to Jazzy who I can feel staring at me.

"I don't believe you, Donovan Jacob Williamson! Rosy hasn't got a mean bone in her body," Jazzy tells her youngest brother off wagging her finger at him before turning her annoyed gaze on Micah. "And you, Micah Stanley Williamson! You stop being a bossy boots!"

"They're right Jazzy; I was as mean as a stray when I first came here. Remember you weren't allowed near me until ... well you weren't allowed near me," I tell her calmly as I look at her.

"But you're all right now Rosy, 'cause we're friends," Jazzy declares.

"Rosy, eat up." Micah says firmly and I turn my attention back to my food.

"Wow! What happened to you Steven," Donovan asks surprised.

"Don't you worry about it. Now you go take your sister back to the house and tell Dad we'll be ready here in half an hour," Micah says firmly. "Now scoot, I'm going to change and I will want the rest of my breakfast when I'm finished so no food sneaks you pair."

I watch as Donovan and Jazzy leave the room. I hear the now familiar rasp of a zipper and turn my attention down to my plate as I hear Micah start to change. He rubs his head against my knee when he has changed into cat form and walks around the room a few times before returning to his plate and eating what's left in two large bites. I offer him a large piece of steak from my plate and he looks me in the face.

"Go on, I wouldn't offer the food to you if I wanted it," I tell him. He takes the meat from my fingers delicately before turning away and stretching lazily. The half hour is nearly up before Micah changes back, and I am in the kitchen washing up the dirty pans from breakfast when I hear him walk in and stop not far from me. I glance back over my shoulder at him and I am pleased to note he has both jeans and a shirt on.

"You want me to go for a walk while Wade is here," I guess when he doesn't say anything for a minute or so.

"The opposite, in fact. You need to be here. What happened affects everyone who lives in these quarters and unless you plan on leaving soon, you might want to have a say in anything that is decided today," Micah says evenly.

I glance at him surprised but don't say anything. He waits for a few moments before turning and heading towards the bedrooms where the other toms have gone. I am checking that there is fresh coffee brewing when there is a knock at the screen door.

"Micah, we're coming in," Wade calls. I hear the screen door open and Micah and the other toms come into the lounge room. None of them sit down as they all turn to face the doorway. Wade comes in followed by Edwin, Malcolm and Robby.

"We are going to get things straightened out here and now," Wade says with authority.

Micah steps forward so he is in front of the other toms while Sam, Steven and Mitchell move to stand directly behind him. I hear Edwin draw a sharp breath and I am suddenly uneasy by myself in the kitchen so I make my way towards the lounge room. I hesitate when I see I'd have to pass close to Edwin and change course slightly to sneak between the wall and one of the chairs as I go to stand behind Sam. Wade nods as if understanding something.

"I want everything sorted out peacefully here and now," Wade says firmly

"I'm head warrior and I have some conditions I want met," Micah says and gives a brief bob of his head towards his father, "if my Alpha would hear me out."

"I'm listening," Wade assures him.

"Firstly, Robby Inness is gone. I do not want him as one of my warriors. He hasn't been here six months and he turned against me, seriously questioning my authority. If he isn't with me then he's against me," Micah snarls.

Robby swallows nervously and takes a step backwards. "You can't just go breaking up a partnership," he protests as he glances at Mikkarl.

"I don't want a partner I can't trust," Mikkarl states and I glance at him to see him glaring at Robby.

"Secondly, I can't afford to lose any other warriors but I won't have Edwin and Malcolm here. My three top warriors have injuries of some degree or another because of those two, and I do not trust either of them not to start something behind my back against my warriors," Micah says firmly with a glance towards those behind him.

"As you said, we can't afford to lose any warriors," Wade points out.

"Edwin goes and works for someone else or him and I take it outside right now and settle this for once and for all. If you look at the injuries to Steven and Mitchell, you can see Edwin wasn't just going to put them out of commission; he was going in for

the kill. It will be him or me," Micah states coldly. "I will not have him where he can endanger my warriors any time he chooses."

"I sincerely wish it hadn't come to this," Wade says regretfully with a glance at Edwin before looking back at Micah. "What about Malcolm?"

"Before this I have had no complaints with Malcolm. Yes he was involved in the fight yesterday, and he had chances to attack both Steven and Mitchell when they were out numbered. He didn't become involved until I tried to stop Edwin, and then it only involved body blocks," Micah says on a low angry growl.

"Unfortunately I need a warrior. If he goes then half a team is gone. Maybe we can get by with three until I find some more warriors willing to work for us," Micah says tightly.

"What do you have to say for yourself Malcolm," Wade demands.

"I thought Edwin took things too extreme, I didn't want to be involved in such a plan," Malcolm answers contritely. "But I wasn't going to stand by and see my partner out numbered two to one when one of the opponents was Micah. Micah out matches Edwin by himself."

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