To Love a Stray Ch. 11 Pt. 01


"There is a parasite that can affect the heart. It's not very common in felines but it is possible," I answer.

"And you would need a blood sample," Doc asks as he comes out of the house.

"Yes, eggs and immature larvae will show up in a sample of approximately five mills. It is treatable and medication would be needed for up to a year to ensure all of the parasites are destroyed," I explain.

"Wade, is it alright if I get a blood sample," Doc asks.

"Yes! Anything that might help Jazzy," Marissa rushes to answer.

"Yes," Wade agrees after several long moments. I roll my head on my shoulders trying to ease some of my stress without lowering my arms. I glimpse Edwin edging a fraction closer and I glare at him.

"I owe you for your attempted manipulations so don't tempt me. My uncle here can attest to the fact I got a most nasty temper when stirred," I tell him coldly.

"Tawny, you know he is trying to get your attention off those behind you," Doc Caruthers tells me and I nod as he glances at me.

"They're not going to let me go Unca," I communicate using a type of single-handed sign language for the deaf. "I have broken a major law in their eyes."

I can tell by the little glances between the toms that no one understands what is being said and they are moving into position to try to stop any tricks and to prevent me from leaving.

"I got the blood sample," Doc says as he comes out holding a syringe with blood in it.

"I need a table or something to set my field microscope up on. And I need you all to take a few steps back so my assistant here can help me. My old eyes aren't as good as they once were," Doc Caruthers says firmly.

"Just set it up Unca. It'll only take me one quick glance with each slide," I tell him quickly.

"You sure," he asks quietly.

"She is the one they're worried about at the moment. They know she is dying and that is disaster for the family," I fall into the sign language again.

"Ahuh," Unca answers as he watches Dwayne easily carry a heavy table out for use. I glance around uneasily as he quickly begins preparing slides before setting up the microscope. I wait for him to prepare a dozen or so before I inch closer.

"Set it up and focus it," I say. I wait until the microscope is set up with a slide in place before taking a careful look around so I know exactly where everyone is.

"Malcolm, Steven, you need to get a bit nearer to Sam and Chris," I tell them firmly. I'm not sure they're going to obey until I catch the slight motion from Micah. The two toms move where I told them to and I motion with the dart gun at Micah, Dwayne and Edwin and they immediately take several steps back.

I take one long suspicious glance around before taking a quick peek in the eyepiece of the microscope. I quickly switch to the next slide as I glance around again. It is on the fifth slide when I glance quickly at Unca and nod towards the microscope. He moves into place to look in the eyepiece and whistles softly.

"I take it you're a Doctor of some kind," Unca says as he looks at Doc. "Come and have a look at this slide. It is exactly what we suspected."

I move aside nervously as Doc moves to take a look and I glance around quickly at all the toms making sure they haven't moved.

"The oval things are heartworm eggs, the thin string like things immature larvae. That stuff that looks similar to skin flakes is the outer husk of dead mature adult worms. It

builds up in the heart along with live mature worms, before breaking down like that. It causes blockages and in severe infestations, death," Don Caruthers explains.

"Can it be treated," Doc asks.

"With felines the blood needs filtering to clean it. Drugs will break down the dead adults, different drugs to destroy the immature larvae and any worms. Continued treatment to kill the larvae as they hatch from the eggs that don't get filtered out," Don Caruthers lists the various individual treatments that will be needed.

"What do I need to get," Doc demands.

"I got enough with me to start treatment and filter the blood but I need Tawny's help and I won't get that while she is expecting to be attacked at any second," My uncle states with a look straight at Micah then Wade.

"How do we know she won't try to run off to escape being turned over to the police for car theft," Micah asks.

"Being turned over to police means being locked up and made to pay for my crime, even if my actions saves her life," I motion quickly with the one hand.

"Would you mind repeating that in English," Wade asks.

"When you speak to my uncle have the respect to look at him so he can see what you're saying. He is profoundly deaf," I say flashing a savage smile at Wade. The sharp slap from Unca catches me off guard and I squeal in surprise as I duck and move out of his reach.

"I always said your Dad should have put you across his knee each week. It would have taken some of that smartness right out of you! You keep a respectful tongue in your head young girl!" I send my uncle a hurt look before glancing around at the toms, indignant that they saw me get hit.

"Well I plead self defence Unca," I motion with my hand...

"Do you promise not to try to run away if we are allowed to treat the sick girl," my uncle asks me.

"Once you're headed home safe and sound, I promise to be a good girl and do as I'm told," I sign.

"In English so you are understood," my uncle tells me.

"Once you're headed home safe and sound, I promise to be a good girl and do as I'm told," I say flatly as I look straight at Wade making sure he knows I understand exactly what will happen once my Uncle is gone.

"Can I see my patient," Don Caruthers asks.

"As soon as Rosy puts down the gun," Micah says looking directly at me.

"None of you are to touch me," I say and glare at him.

"Tawny, just do as you are told so we can help your friend," my uncle says firmly.

"I can't work if I have to keep dodging being touched," I mutter softly.

"No one will bother you. You have my word," Marissa says firmly. "Now can you please help my baby?"

I take a deep breath and put the gun back in the box and place it on the table before grabbing up the heavy vet bag and heading for the door. I can feel fear sweat trickling down my back as I walk past the toms and step into the house, and I know they can smell it on me.

"This way," Marissa instructs and I follow her quickly knowing my uncle is right behind me. Unca gives a soft gasp of awe as he steps into the room and sees Jazzy sprawled out on a mattress on the floor with her head in Mitchell's lap. She rolls her eyes towards us and hisses in fear but I move to kneel beside her and I stroke her side gently.

"We know what's making you sick Jazzy, and this man is my Unca Dunka, Uncle Donald. He knows how to make you better," I tell her softly. Jazzy rolls her eyes towards him again but makes no protest when he comes and kneels beside me.

"Hallo little one. You can call me Unca Dunka too if you like. When Tawny was just a little thing she couldn't say Uncle Donald properly so I became Unca Dunka." His voice is soft and he quickly uses his stethoscope attached to a small dial with a needle that flicks with each heartbeat. He nods as he watches the meter then he looks at Mitchell. "And you must be another of Jeddah's children. You have your mother's eyes."

Mitchell looks from me, to my Uncle and back to me. "Rosy, you should never let a human know what we are. Our very survival depends on it," he looks away before looking down at Jazzy.

"What are you talking about young man? My niece has merely asked me to help some people who have raised an extremely rare exotic cat from a tiny baby. That little kitten is now sick," Don Caruthers shrugs. "I am a vet. I can not let a creature that God has created suffer."

I watch as he turns away and starts getting the blood-filtering machine set up. I move to help him but he waves me aside.

"Start a nutrient drip. You do it just in case having a stranger touching her upsets our little friend there," he instructs me. "Use a shunt so we have a port for later," he adds very softly.

I set about doing as instructed and soon have a drip steadily feeding nourishment to Jazzy's wasted body. I pause to dribble some water on her mouth and she licks at it thankfully.

"I can do that," Mitchell tells me and I leave him to feed the moisture to her slowly.

"Do we have a set of figures on heart rate, temperature and blood pressure to use as a comparison," Unca asks me.

"Dwayne, go get Justin and Donny," Micah orders. I glance up; other than Wade, Marissa, Mitchell, Doc, Unca and myself, he is the only one in the room with Jazzy.

"Unca means cat readings," I inform him.

"Unca, that is Micah, I suppose you could call him a foreman or managing director," I say turning my face to him where he is double-checking the tubing of the machine.

"You will take the observations. I am sure they will be more comfortable with me knowing as little as possible about them," Unca tells me in a whisper.

"No need to whisper, we have remarkable hearing. Cat hearing," I say as I get a second stethoscope, a thermometer and a note pad. We work in silence until we have the machine set up and Unca turns his attention to Wade while I go to the doorway and take physical observations off both Justin and Donny who are in cat form. Micah is standing close by and Steven and Edwin are a little way back in the hall watching me intently.

"This machine will filter any toxins from the blood stream and hopefully it will also filter many of the parasites out as well as the remains of the adults that have finished their life cycle. Hopefully this will relieve a lot of the stress on the little one's heart and we can start treatment," I hear Unca explaining.

"How long will this take," Wade asks.

"Approximately six to eight hours on the machine and then a critical forty eight hour period of treatment," Unca advises.

"You got that long," Wade demands with a look my way.

"I should have a week," I say.

"What do you mean should have? You should bloo should be aware of those things," Micah snaps angrily at me. I look at Unca as he clears his throat noisily. He has a worried frown on his face as his eyes search my face.

"The joys of being a female cat. I am in the process of coming into heat and will need to be kept away from the males," I sign.

"Barbaric," Unca snaps and I laugh.

"English," Micah growls angrily.

"We were talking about a matter in regard to our family, the Caruthers," Unca says with a hard look for Micah. "Now whatever you were harassing my niece about, please leave her alone so she can concentrate on the task at hand."

"I have the right to choose a male, if my hormones drive me to it," I sign rapidly.

"Ahhh, the need for some form of contraception. I wish I had been able to supply it for you," Unca signs.

"Thanks anyway," I make the simple sign.

"English," Micah demands. I hear the low growl starting to build in Mitchell's throat and glance his way to see him. He gives me a tight smile before looking down at Jazzy again.

"We haven't got any plasma or transfusion supply to start ..." Unca looks at me as he realises, and I take a deep breath as I shrug out of my jacket.

"Doc has Jazzy ever had a blood transfusion or blood products for any reason," I ask as I reach into the equipment bag for a tourniquet.

"No, it's not a technology I have," Doc says quietly.

"So go ahead with this," I ask aloud with a glance at Unca.

"Best solution," he agrees and takes the tourniquet. In a moment my blood is flowing into the tubing of the machine.

"We don't have any blood product that I would use for your daughter or any substitute, so we'll use fresh living blood to fill the tubes so your daughter's weak system isn't stressed in any way." Unca says with a kind smile for Marissa. "I am using my niece as the donor since they are both female and in a similar stage of their hormonal cycle. I do not know if it makes any difference but I would prefer to error on the side of caution,"

A few minutes later and Jazzy is attached to the machine as it starts filtering her blood while I sit not far from Mitchell with my arm bent as I apply pressure to where my blood was taken.

"Ma'am, would I be able to inconvenience you for a cup of coffee and perhaps some kind of refreshments for my niece and myself? We haven't stopped for anything to eat since lunch time and I don't want my niece fainting on me," Unca says directing a charming smile at Marissa.

"Oh of course! You should have said something sooner," Marissa exclaims as she hurries towards the door.

"Marissa, Uncle is a vegetarian. He does not believe that a living creature should give its life so he can eat of its flesh. Eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products are fine though," I explain.

Let them make what they want of that, I think exhaustedly as I lean back against the edge of the bed and close my eyes.

"Is there something I can do so you two can rest," Doc asks quietly.

"We will take it in turns. Tawny first because she will need to be awake when the filters need checking and changing. I no longer have the eyesight for such work," Unca says softly and I open one eye to look his way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I watch as Rosy and her uncle, a vet, move around quietly setting up equipment to treat Jazzy. I still can't believe she is here, that she has returned. The love and respect they have for each other is evident as they work together, and in the soft exchanges between them. Often they lapse into that sign language and I watch as emotions animate Rosy's face.

Tight lines of worry have become etched on Wade's face while worry and stress has left Marissa pale and fragile looking. Now hope is burning in Marissa's eyes and I can see the fear that help has come too late in Wade's eyes.

There are hopeful whispers outside the room, it seems all of the toms have gathered in the house. I don't tell them to leave, Jazzy is as important to them as she is to us - her brothers and parents.

The way Rosy's uncle answers questions and phrases remarks show great compassion and wisdom. He seems respectful of our true nature but not intimidated by us. The way he talks softly and soothingly has clearly put Jazzy at ease, as does the fact it is Rosy who puts in a needle to start IV fluids.

I think of the gun Rosy had pointed at us. It is now locked in Wade's office but I still have to repress a shudder as I remember how the fear had rolled off her in waves as she had effectively held us all at bay with the gun. No one had been game to make a move. We hadn't known if it held tranquilliser darts or real bullets. Either way we had had no inclination to try it out.

When normal heart rate, blood pressure and temperature readings are wanted I ask Dwayne to get Justin and Donovan to change to cat form and come to the door so Rosy can get the information. When Rosy moves to the doorway to take the needed reading I notice both Edwin and Steven are close by watching her intently. Edwin doesn't even try to hide the fact he is sniffing the air for her scent but luckily Rosy is too busy listening to Donny's heart to notice.

As she turns back into the room I see the strain on her face and remember she still isn't comfortable around toms in cat form while she is human. She looks away from

me hurriedly; she knows she is likely to be in trouble for what she done. Does she have any idea of how much trouble?

"You got that long," Wade demands tightly. I rouse myself from my thoughts to glance at Rosy.

"I should have a week," She answers.

Ah, they are discussing how much time before she will need the secure room.

"What do you mean should have? You should bloo should be aware of those things," I snap angrily hoping no one noticed my lapse in concentration.

Don Caruthers clears his throat noisily. He has a worried frown on his face as he looks at Rosy. Again they lapse into sign language. Rosy gives a nervous laugh and my irritation with their secretive talk grows.

"English," I growl.

"We were talking about a matter in regard to our family, the Caruthers," he says with a hard directed my way. "Now whatever you were harassing my niece about, please leave her alone so she can concentrate on the task at hand."

There is more signing between them and my patience begins to rapidly wear out. A quick glance at Wade and Marissa tells me they are worried as well.

"English," I demand.

A low growl comes from Mitchell and Rosy glances his way cautiously. Clearly she is aware she is in trouble and expects no help from him.

"We haven't got any plasma or transfusion supply to start ..." Caruthers is talking to Rosy and she immediately takes her jacket off.

There is a short discussion with Doc and then Rosy offers her own arm to Caruthers. I want to protest as the needle slides into her flesh but I bite back my words, it's not up to me.

"We don't have any blood product that I would use for your daughter or any substitute, so we'll use fresh living blood to fill the tubes so your daughter's weak system isn't stressed in any way." Caruthers says with a kind smile for Marissa. "I am using my niece as the donor since they are both female and in a similar stage of their hormonal cycle. I do not know if it makes any difference but I would prefer to error on the side of caution,"

Within minutes the medical equipment is working and Jazzy is receiving the treatment that will hopefully save her life.

Caruthers asks for food and drink for himself and Rosy, his manner with Marissa is both gentle and compassionate. Another time, another place and I am sure I would like the man.

Rosy is leaning against the bed not far from Jazzy and Mitchell, she has her eyes closed and a soft sound comes from her. I walk over to her and lift her into my arms, she opens her eyes and for a moment I am lost in their sleepy depths as I place her on the bed.

"She'll rest better here," I direct my comment at no one in particular. Her eyes flutter open and I reach out to close them gently before stroking her temples. Her lips part slightly and a soft sigh escapes her as she rolls onto her side and pulls her legs up towards her stomach.

"Please excuse me niece, she stayed up all last night researching your daughters ailment." Caruthers says quietly to Wade.

I head out into the hallway and the area becomes alive as everyone gets to their feet from where they were sitting.

"How is Jazzy," Edwin demands.

"They've just started treating her. Baxter, can you take everyone back to the quarters. There's not a lot of room in this hallway." I say quietly. "I'll come let everyone know what's happening once we have some indication,"

"All right, you heard your boss. Back to the quarters," Baxter orders firmly and I am once again thankful he is here to help.

"I'm not going anywhere," Edwin snarls. "Not while Rosy is here and so close to coming into full heat."

"I'll stay and watch Micah's back," Steven says as he moves to stand beside me.

"Come on lads, let's get a move on." Baxter orders firmly.

"I want to stay here," Donny protests.

Baxter walks over and puts an arm around Donny's shoulders, "Anyone ever tell you about the time Micah there knocked Edwin out of the hayloft?"

I watch in silence as Baxter moves everyone away before I turn my attention back to Edwin. He is staring into Jazzy's room and I can't help but notice the way he is staring at Rosy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I come awake with a start as strong arms lift me and I open my eyes to see Micah's face above me as he places me on the bed. I glance at Unca who is checking on the tubes attached to Jazzy.

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