Enter the Cat Ch. 08byMygypsy©
Hallo loyal lit. readers
Sorry it has taken me so long to post this chapter. One more chapter on this story and then onto To Love a Stray ch11 part2
A shaft of sunlight that slants down between a couple of trees to hit the ground highlights the pattern in Rosy's coat as she trots through the evening light. In her cat form she is swift and bold, only avoiding the cattle kept for eating when she hunts.
It has become increasingly clear how good of a hunter she is. Rabbits and hares are frequent prey when she travels. Even when some of us only go out for exercise with no intention of hunting, Rosy hunts as she goes. Despite this she is never too laden with food to keep up and easily keeps pace with whichever toms are along.
I grunt softly and she pauses to look my way. I bob my head and trot up beside her with a soft purr as I halt to study the open field ahead. It has been two weeks since Edwin had been forced to leave the clan, and Rosy was learning surprisingly fast how to behave. With no one to mislead her or encourage her towards incorrect behaviour she only needs things explained to her once.
An impatient move beside me and I glance her way to find Rosy waiting expectantly. The first thing Sam and I taught her had been not to rush ahead of the toms with her. Our job was to protect her and if she ran ahead into trouble she was only making it harder for us.
"Why are we waiting?" Jazzy demands impatiently as she trots up between Rosy and me.
Rosy gives her an affectionate nudge with her muzzle before licking a black ear.
"Little sister," Rosy huffs.
"I told her it was my name," Jazzy purrs happily and I glare at her a second before leading the way into the open grass. I will have to have a few words with Jazzy about misleading Rosy.
Steven, Sam and Mikkarl fan out across the field checking for any native wildlife. Rosy stands at the edge of the field watching eagerly. She waits until they are nearly at the far side of the clearing before bolting after them.
Mitchell follows close behind her and I stop to watch her with interest as she races across the ground. She turns sharply just before she reaches Sam to race towards Mikkarl. Her love of running shows in the fluid grace of her movements as she executes a sliding turn before heading towards Steven.
Half way between Mikkarl and Steven a mottled form launches itself from a thick clump of shrubs at the two cats racing towards it. Furious barking fills the air along with the sound of snarls and hisses.
My heart is pounding in my chest as I watch the scene unfolding before me. Mitchell swerves off course, giving in to his instinctive dislike of dogs while Rosy props to an abrupt stop. Her ears are laid back flat on her skull, her back arched up and all of her fur seems to stand on end as she faces the dog rushing after her brother.
Rosy stands her ground but as the dog rushes by her, she leaps high in the air even as she slashes with a front paw and razor sharp claws. There is a startled yelp and the two forms separate. The dog facing Rosy appears old and ragged but that does nothing to calm Jazzy who is beside me huddling close and trembling in fear.
Despite our natural fear of dogs the warriors rush to surround the dog. Both Sam and Steven press close only to jump back as the dog charges forward yapping at them. I am shocked and alarmed when Rosy flings herself on the dog fearlessly.
It is an uneven fight. The dog is much smaller and only has teeth while Rosy has both claws and teeth. Within a minute Rosy is standing over the carcass of her would be attacker; she is still snarling furiously while her tail lashes back and forth viciously.
Leaving Jazzy with Dwayne and Donovan I rush over to sniff Rosy anxiously. She snarls savagely, baring her teeth at me but allows me to examine her thoroughly.
"Silly, silly girl!" I grumble near her ear and she shakes her head as my whiskers brush against her ear. I glance around the toms accusingly but they are all looking uncomfortable and only Steven steps forward to sniff at the dead dog.
Rosy snarls and slaps at his head, driving him away from her kill. She tries the same with me when I step up to examine the dog but a low growl has her moving aside so I can check out the animal.
It is an old dog with a bullet wound high in one front shoulder and a bloody furrow across its back. Either it is a stock killer or more likely, an old dog someone has tried to put down.
She noses the animal but makes no attempt to begin eating it before she moves away. She stops a small distance away and looks back at us before heading back towards Jazzy, Dwayne and Donovan.
What am I to do with her? The toms were meant to protect her not the other way around!
I watch her for a few moments before it dawns on me. If it had been one of the others seizing the chance to despatch the dog it would not have been an issue. Despite the fact she is a she-kitt Rosy is clearly able to protect herself against a dog.
"We were right there ..." Steven starts with a worried look as he halts beside me.
"Rosy isn't a normal she-kitt; she has learnt how to look after herself," I growl without conviction. "We will need to find a suitable compromise."
I glance back at Rosy and find her watching me cautiously. Did she feel she had done wrong? Or was she beginning to think that she might be in trouble?
I make my way back to Jazzy and groom the smell of fear from around her ears. She meows loudly and rubs herself against my side before walking over to Mitchell for more soothing grooming. I take the time to brush my cheek against both Steven and Sam's front shoulders to let them know I am not annoyed at them.
We set off at a steady trot once again and I notice Rosy settle into place between Chris and Malcolm. Occasionally she crowds close to Chris nipping at his front legs or trying to grab a hold on the ruff of his neck; she is in a playful mood. She has become a little more tolerant of being touched while in both forms, the most notable in cat form.
I am surprised when Mitchell goes down end over end, only to leap to his feet with a shocked look. Beside him Jazzy yawns then gives a wide feline grin and I realise I need to keep a close eye on my sister. Mitchell edges away from her as he resumes his place in formation but Jazzy slinks after him craftily. Dwayne slips between them and I pick up the travelling pace a little to keep Jazzy occupied.
It is nearly dark by the time we reach the tree line surrounding the buildings; Rosy hurries ahead to go into the quarters. The rest of us change to human form before walking inside to the lounge room to pull clothing on. We males only bother with jeans but Jazzy pulls a t-shirt on as well.
"I'll start the steaks," Mikkarl says as he heads into the kitchen. Since starting work here, he has happily stepped in to do most of the cooking for the evening meals.
"Rosy, I want to have a word with you," Sam says firmly and I turn around to see him frowning at Rosy where she stands in the doorway looking defensive.
"It's all right Sam; I want to speak to everyone. Come on in Rosy - you're not in trouble," I say meeting her eyes.
"Rosy should be in trouble!" Jazzy cuts in. "Dogs are smelly and dangerous! Oh did I mention how smelly they are?"
"Jazzy sit down," I order firmly.
Jazzy gives me a sad-eyed look with her bottom lip pouting slightly. I have to repress a groan of irritation so I turn my back on her instead.
"Today is clearly not Rosy's first experience with an aggressive dog," I say calmly with a glance at Rosy where she stands just inside the lounge room. I notice the way her gaze flicks around the room uneasily as she takes in everyone's reactions to what is being said.
"But Rosy attacked and killed the dog," Timny puts forward. "One of us should have done it."
"I am capable of looking after myself," Rosy snaps defensively.
"I would have preferred it if one of the warriors had dealt with the dog," I say evenly then cut in quickly as Rosy opens her mouth to object. "But you did right in waiting for more back up than just Mitchell. Please do not go tackling any dogs without several warriors handy and only if they can't get a clear chance."
"So I'm not in trouble?" Rosy asks with a trace of surprise.
"Let me guess: you thought you were preventing someone getting hurt?" I ask as I voice my thoughts.
"Most cats I know run from dogs," Rosy says with an uneasy glance around the room.
I realise she must be trying to work out why no one here ran from the dog.
"Most cats being strays?" Malcolm asks with a grin. "We don't like dogs any more than a stray does but we are not going to leave any of our clan vulnerable to a dog. Jazzy and Donny would have been prime targets if we had run."
"Mainly Jazzy," Rosy says with a shake of her head. "She's the smallest. Dogs pick the weakest, the one that lags behind or the smallest."
I watch as Rosy slowly moves into the room making herself a part of the group. It is not the first time Malcolm has been quick to make a connection with Rosy's way of thinking. He seemed to be able to pick up on her train of thought before the rest of us.
"I don't see why I should reprimand Rosy," I tell those present. "Rosy is a she-kitt but she is different, more self reliant than a clan raised she-kitt. As long as Rosy doesn't go doing anything outright dangerous, we need to be willing to adjust as much as we are asking her to."
"It's not fair!" Jazzy protests. "If it had been me, you would have yelled at me."
"That reminds me," I say with a frown turning to face her. "Tell Rosy exactly what you have her calling you in cat."
"Rosy has learnt some feline?" Mitchell asks eagerly.
I feel my irritation with Jazzy grow as she folds her arms across her chest and lowers her chin mutinously.
"Most everyone calls me it," Jazzy mutters under her breath.
I clear my throat noisily and Jazzy jumps with a nervous glance my way. It is rare for her to try to defy me and I frown as I watch her. I glance at Rosy; she is watching us with interest but doesn't seem upset or disturbed Jazzy might have misled her.
"Little sister!" Jazzy snaps when she sneaks a look my way to find me watching her. "The other day after a run she repeated the words and asked me what they meant. I said it was my name."
"Not everyone calls you little sister," Sam says dryly and I suspect he is looking at his brother as he speaks.
"I didn't think it would matter!" Jazzy cries, jumps to her feet, and runs from the room.
"I'll go talk to her," Dwayne says quietly.
I watch as he follows after Jazzy before I turn my attention back to Rosy.
"I don't remember Jazzy teaching you to speak in cat form," I say evenly, careful to keep any hint of disapproval from my voice.
"It was yesterday morning when Jazzy was supposed to be sitting in the sun room thinking about being cheeky to Sam and Steven. We changed to cat form and she helped me pronounce the sounds right," Rosy says a hint defiantly.
I stare at Rosy for a second lost for words. While neither she nor Jazzy had been forbidden to change to cat form when there was only the two of them, it had not been encouraged.
"Being in cat form and having someone help makes it easier?" I ask curiously.
"A bit," Rosy says with a nod. "But it's not like the other person can tell me in English what they are saying so I can understand. We have to know exactly what to practice before changing."
"We should have thought of this sooner," Steven says with excitement. "One or two of us can change along with Rosy, while there are several others in human form to explain what is being said."
"Names!" Rosy says excitedly. "I want to learn names first!"
"I have to insist on you learning a few basic commands as well. You can be hard to make eye contact with to try to get you to do as I want," I tell her with a smile.
"I hate to interrupt but the food is mostly ready," Mikkarl says coming to the lounge room. "Just the few medium steaks to go."
"Any bacon?" Rosy asks brightly as she looks his way.
"Since we didn't have bacon for breakfast, yes," Mikkarl answers her with a wide smile. "Extra crispy."
"You'll make someone one hell of a wife some day Mikkarl," Rosy says with a laugh as she heads towards him.
I feel the tension immediately fill the room and hear Mikkarl's sharply indrawn breath.
"There's no need to be a bitch to Mikkarl!" Jazzy interjects hotly as she strides into the room.
I see the fire in Jazzy's eyes as she stalks towards Rosy and realise her intent as Rosy turns to face her. Luckily Dwayne is close on Jazzy's heels and manages to grab Jazzy before she reaches Rosy. Unfortunately Jazzy does manage to kick out at Rosy, one foot catching Rosy on a thigh. Rosy snarls sharply and I note in some corner of my mind her hands are clenching and unclenching at her sides.
"Stop it now!" I order in forceful tones.
Steven makes a grab for Rosy but she evades him with a savage snarl as she backs towards the wall flicking uneasy glances around the room.
Dwayne drags Jazzy back to the hallway door out of reach of Rosy so she can't continue her attack.
"Why the hell did you insult Mikkarl like that?" Steven demands angrily as he eyes Rosy where she stands warily with her back to the wall.
"I don't think Rosy realises what she said," I say forcing a calmness into my tone that I am far from feeling. Even as I speak the niggling suspicion starts to form. "Rosy, you just inferred you consider Mikkarl behaves like a woman. Or maybe is only suited to housework?"
"You got no call to insult Mikkarl when you can't even speak like a werecat!" Jazzy yells.
"I didn't say anything like that!" Rosy spits defensively.
"You said I'd be a poor wife some day," Mikkarl growls angrily.
"No, I said, 'you'll make someone one hell of a wife some day Mikkarl,' " Rosy says slowly as if to make sure each word is heard.
"I happen to be a warrior and I will not be bending over for some more dominant tom. I am not perverted!" Mikkarl snaps angrily.
"I never thought you were that way inclined," Rosy protests.
"Well you must think I am only suited to menial house work like cooking and cleaning then!" Mikkarl growls.
"You ... I... oh fuck werecat speech and fuck human speech! Fuck them both to hell and back!" Rosy's voice starts out soft and slightly confused but she soon starts shouting and shaking her head. "I am so over this! Yous always make me the one in the wrong!"
Rosy is trembling as she turns and takes several steps towards the hallway door only to stop and head towards the kitchen when she sees Dwayne and Jazzy in her way. Mikkarl folds his arms over his chest and plants his feet, clearly not intending to move aside. Steven steps forward to back up Mikkarl and Rosy whirls to face him, her eyes seem huge in her face and she snarls menacingly.
"Everyone back off and calm down now!" I yell.
"The food is ready if anyone is hungry," Mikkarl snaps and turns back towards the kitchen. "You might as well eat while it is hot."
I bite back a groan of frustration as Mikkarl lifts a frypan by the handle, looks straight at Rosy, then empties the pan of bacon into the scrap bucket.
"Ha! No bacon for you Rosy. Serves you right," Jazzy snaps. "Maybe next time you'll think before you go insulting one of my toms."
"I didn't insult Mikkarl! Or at least not intentionally," Rosy yells. "When people say it, when humans say someone will make a hell of a good wife -- they mean the person in point has a lot more to offer than most of the same sex."
I see tears glittering in her eyes and feel compassion for Rosy. She is full of defensive anger and struggling to make us understand what she meant.
"Explain more fully for us," I tell her gently. "You mean Mikkarl can offer a girl more then what a male usually does?"
"Yeah, explain yourself," Sam says levelly.
I glance his way and tell with one look he is not happy with the misunderstanding Rosy has gotten herself into.
"Well," Rosy says more calmly. "Most guys, men, have some kind of a job to bring in the money. Mikkarl has a job - he's not scared of work like a few humans can be. And he cooks a lot better than most people, human and werecat, plus he doesn't mind doing the cooking. A lot of women have to work to earn a living and a man who helps around the house is a better boyfriend or partner than a lazy b... sod who sits on the lounge drinking beer and demanding their food cooked and served to them."
I watch as Rosy focuses her attention on her oldest brother as she speaks. Clearly she is feeling uncomfortable about having to explain what she meant. She finishes with a slight shrug and a quick darting glance towards Mikkarl.
"If Mikkarl got a girlfriend, she'd be getting more than most human women get out of a relationship." Rosy adds still sounding slightly defensive.
"You sure that's what you meant?" Jazzy demands and I look her way.
Dwayne still has a hold of both of her arms and he meets my gaze, sniffs near Jazzy pointedly, and then looks straight into my eyes.
"Okay, to the main house for you," Dwayne tells Jazzy. "Someone save me a plate of food would you?"
Jazzy is coming into heat which explained her sudden irritability with Rosy, also her abrupt mood swings with any and everyone the last few days. Suddenly the prospect of hunting most evenings seems like a good plan. It will get Jazzy out in cat form since she is healthy and strong. Let her enjoy hunting with her clan until it is time for her to go into isolation.
I glance around those still in the room. The tension and hostility had lowered and several of the warriors had grins when Rosy glances their way.
"Looks like I have to cook some bacon," Mikkarl says levelly.
I am not sure if Mikkarl accepts the explanation Rosy offered or is simply trying to divert any anger away from him.
* * * * *
I keep a close eye on everyone over the next few days, especially Jazzy, Mikkarl and Rosy. It soon becomes clear that neither Jazzy nor Mikkarl harbour any hard feelings about the misunderstanding of Rosy's remark. Several times I catch Rosy watching one of us but she quickly moves away when she becomes aware of me close by. There seems to be no anger or aggression in her but I am unsure of her exact feelings and thoughts.
Four days after the misunderstanding, Jazzy is confined to the main house after getting overly friendly with Mitchell during a hunt. She's so close to being in oestrous this can't be allowed.
It is after dark when Rosy, Steven and Chris return after Rosy became upset with Mitchell and Jazzy and running off. I watch her closely as the warriors draw her into their conversation and try their best to distract her from her upset with her brother.
I notice how Rosy drinks the alcohol offered to her. She usually drinks sparingly but tonight she doesn't seem aware of how much she is consuming. She begins talking about her time at college when I mention an upcoming Werecat meeting. I realise a lot of her thinking is done as a human, not a werecat and I begin to understand why it has been so hard for her to adapt to our way of life.
I concentrate my attention on her, smiling and flirting with her. My efforts are rewarded and she begins to respond. I gently lead her towards revealing more of her past and it works well until she lets it slip she is more attracted to females.
Rosy's words betray her desperate need to be needed and wanted. Rosy needs more than to be wanted; some part of her demands she is needed. She is distraught thinking she doesn't fit into the role of a she-kitt.
"She liked to go out clubbing and bring home guys with us. It didn't really bother me until she tried to get me to join in with them," Rosy says speaking of the girl who she had lived with. Apparently they had been much more than friends; they had been lovers as Pete Willoughby had suspected.