To Love a Stray Ch. 02byMygypsy©
Many thanks to my new editor Wulfgrleditor.
Bile rises in the back of my throat and I swallow hard, my head is throbbing and I can feel a hard cold surface beneath my cheek as I try to work out where I am. I open my eyes slightly and the light makes my head hurt so I close them again with a moan. I hear footsteps somewhere close and cringe, pain shoots through my body bringing memories back with it. The strong pungent odour of strays seems to surround me and I know I am in deep trouble.
"About time you woke up Miss She-kitty catty." I open my eyes and try to lift my head but the world spins on its axis and I find myself falling once again as my stomach rolls and bile fills my mouth. I cough and spit it out as I try to concentrate on my breathing, anything as long as I don't think about what hurts and why.
I hear a metallic click and then footsteps approach me. Terror scorches its path up my spine and I scream in pain as it swells in my head as I shape-shift. Suddenly I am crouching on four furred legs and I turn to face whoever has dared approach me. My surroundings seem to whirl and tilt but I manage to stay on my feet even as I stumble to the side. There is that metallic sound again and I raise my head as I try to focus my blurred gaze on something, anything.
With growing horror I realise I am in a cage not unlike the ones used in the circus to contain lions and tigers and as I take a deep breath I smell the faint traces left behind by one of them in the distant past. There are two dark blurry forms outside the cage and I realise one of the strays is on all fours and changing his shape to a cat as I watch.
I shriek my fury, my anger turning to pain as my head pounds mercilessly from the effort. Terror grows as I realise how weak and defenceless I am. My legs tremble but my anger and indignation are not dimmed as I brace myself to fight when the cat comes into my cage. He is bigger and heavier than me and I am sent flying against the bars of the cage. I mewl in pain and struggle to my feet. He is on me before I can fight back, knocking me against the bars a second time. My cry of pain is louder as his claws rake along my back and I try to twist away from him as he bites my right shoulder.
I lower my head in submission until my chin touches the floor as he stands over me. His muzzle almost touches my ear as he lowers his head and growls menacingly near my ear before nipping it.
"He said shift back," the werecat outside the cage tells me. I glance imploringly at him, I don't know what he's talking about so I creep back several small steps. This is clearly not what is wanted and punishment is swift and harsh as sharp claws rip down my back again ripping through hair and hide. My scream of pain is almost human and he unleashes a flurry of cruel swipes that land on my head and shoulders making me scream in pain again.
I collapse on the floor of the cage and he moves over top of me making me cry out in pain as he moves eagerly. When he finally leaves the cage I crawl to the corner of the cage where I stretch out on my side my flanks heaving as I pant in pain. Thirst burns my throat and hunger gnaws at my stomach but I am too weak to look for the water bowl. I hear the metallic click as my tormentor leaves my prison but I am unable to lift my head to look at him. I close my eyes and let my consciousness drift into the black nothingness that hovers near. I am dimly aware that time is passing as I drift in and out of consciousness but my only time marker is the frequent visits by my torturers as they come and demand I obey their orders.
Noise different to normal brings me awake and I stumble to the corner and turn to face where I know he'll come from. I see blurry shapes moving outside the cage, fighting by the sounds of the noise, and I snarl in fear and anger as I back securely into the darkest corner. Soon the fighting ceases and shapes lay on the floor motionless as I lift my head and sniff fearfully. The intense scent of clan cats reaches me and I cover into the corner terrified.
"Holy shit! I don't believe it! It's a she-kitt! A stranger, I don't know her scent!" The words make little sense to me and I growl as I lower my head and I struggle for balance. I hear the strange metallic click and press back into the corner with a whimper of fear. I've learnt quickly that the sound means someone is coming into my cage. I lower my head and hiss at the blurry tall shape that slowly comes closer.
"Hey there. What's your name? We're here to get you out of here," The voice is soft and soothing. Clan! His scent warns me I am now faced with clan cats, my greatest fear. I didn't buy his reassurances and growl threateningly as he gets closer. I tilt my head slightly as he stops moving but all this achieves is me overbalancing and falling on my side. I brace myself for his attack but it doesn't come as he crouches where he stopped.
"You're sick aren't you and you don't know what's happening. All you know is you hurt real bad," his voice remains soft and soothing. I hiss and attempt to get to my feet. Pain lances along my back and I cry out sharply as darkness dances at the edges of my vision as unconsciousness threatens.
" ...Not going to hurt you, not going to hurt you, not going to hurt you," he croons in that soft voice. Strangely I find the sound of his voice and his presence comforting; maybe it is the lack of aggression and savagery in his scent. I allow myself to sink to the floor when I am unable to hold myself up any longer. My hiss of warning is half hearted and I try to press myself into the floor as his hand hovers above my head or neck. I wait for him to touch me, to hurt me but there is no contact just that soft soothing tone.
"Infected bite, scratches, possible concussion, I think she needs food and water bad ... she's been beaten pretty badly..." his voice drones in that soft tone, "She seems to be suffering from a fever. She doesn't smell as if she's in heat so they must have come across her some other way."
I close my eyes, the light hurts my head and I strain my ears for any sounds of movement. That soft and soothing voice is speaking again but I don't try to follow what he's saying. I just let it wash over me soothing my battered body like a balm. The door of the cage gives its metallic click startling me from a half unconscious state. I try to spring to my feet but over balance and end up on my side. There is movement near me and I screech in fear as I try to get to my feet. I lash out at the blurry figure near me in my panic.
"Get back! Back off!" The soothing voice is gone, replaced by a different voice strong with authority. I whine lowering my head as my whole body trembles, the loudness hurts my head and the light dazes my blurry eyes.
"It's okay, no-one's going to hurt you. Just relax, calm down. That's it just calm down ..." It's not the voice I want and I hiss menacingly. I swish my tail as something stings my thigh but I pay no attention to it; insects are the least of my worries. I lift my head and turn it to one side trying to focus on the figure in front of me. I whine again wanting that soft voice back.
"Yeah, we're here to help you. Just put your head down and take it easy ..." The voice fades away into the distance and I lift my head uneasily. I feel my body sway but it's a weird detached feeling as if my mind is floating free from my battered and bruised body. My sight blurs and I moan as I struggle to work out what is happening to me. My head feels heavy and I am unable to keep it up.
"Yeah that's it just relax. Close your eyes and go to sleep," that soothing voice returns to coax.
I realise with horror that I must have been drugged and I struggle to get to my feet. My injured shoulder hits the cage bars hard and I know it must hurt but even that pain is distant. Everything is lying on its side and I move my front legs but it's me who is lying on my side.
"Don't fight it just go with it," the voice sounds oddly disjointed now. I lay still not even swishing my tail. After a few moments there is a slight scraping sound as someone moves closer. I open my eyes and I can see a man bending over me, my nose tells me he is a clan werecat but I am too weak to worry anymore. A hand touches my injured shoulder but the touch is gentle as around the bite is probed.
"She's not out," a different voice says from far off.
"I only loaded enough to half knock her out. It's okay. No one is going to hurt you. We're here to help you," The strong authoritive voice says.
I drift in and out of consciousness. I am faintly aware of being lifted and being placed on something firm but soft. My mouth and throat are no longer dry from thirst but I can't remember drinking. Soon I become aware of movement around me and my body no longer feels detached from my mind so I open my eyes warily to find I am no longer in the confines of the cage. I flex my claws and find I am on a mattress and I even have a blanket of some kind thrown over me.
I lift my head slowly and look around cautiously. There are four men in the room and I can smell the clan cats in each of them. One glances my way and stops what he is doing to walk towards me slowly. I flatten my ears back against my skull and growl a warning for him not to get to close to me. He seems to understand and stops to pick up a bottle of water.
"Are you thirsty again? Remember I gave you water before?" It's the owner of the gentle voice. He crouches so that he is nearly on eye level with me and I hiss as I look away.
"Do you want to try changing back to human form?" He asks softly. Memories of what has been done to me in human form have me hissing and spitting furiously as I edge backwards.
"You're safe. No one is going to hurt you," he promises. "If you change back I've got some clothes you can wear. You can have something to eat and drink, we can talk and you can tell me your name ..."
"Mitchell come here a minute," one of the men on the far side of the room calls. Mitchell turns away from me and walks over to where two of the others are standing together.
"Why don't you try meeting her on her own level?" One of them asks very quietly, "change and see how she takes it."
"No, I don't think that's a good idea," Mitchell denies and glances back at me with a worried frown. "I'll leave her as long as we can before I decide how to handle the situation if necessary."
I watch the men but they resume picking up things around the room. Even Mitchell busies himself with other work. I settle myself to watch them as they go about their tasks. I find my mind clearing and my strength returning the longer I am awake and I realise my captors must have been drugging me. My head and injuries are still painful but I ignore this as I stretch and flex my legs one at a time. My right front leg is very stiff and the shoulder extremely painful when I move and I am barely able to move it.
A spasm of heat flows down my back ending at the base of my tail then another spasm follows it. I whine and lift my head to look around as I realise I am about to shape-shift back into human form. There is no place to hide so I wriggle backwards attempting to get beneath the blanket that lies across my hips. The flashes of heat are starting to increase in intensity and I settle myself uneasily. I long for the shape-shift to be over so I can hide beneath the blanket and a brief but fierce flash of agony rolls over me.
My hands grip my head, and I can feel the short uneven stubble of my hair beneath my fingers on one side of my head as I try to steady my breathing. I long to reach for the blanket and pull it up over my shoulders but changing has left me too weak to do this for the moment.
"Mitchell," there is warning in the tone and I hear footsteps head my way. I turn my head so I can see whoever is approaching me. It's Mitchell and he has some clothing held in one hand while behind him I notice the others moving towards a doorway.
"Do you understand me? Do you understand English?" Mitchell asks in a gentle tone. I watch as he stops out of reach and squats so that he is not so tall. I can see the muscles tensed in his thighs and realise he is not as at ease as he seems. Just his very presence fills me with fear, as I know what toms like to do with me when I'm human.
"How about if you understand me you nod for yes and shake your head for no. I can understand that you might not want to talk to a strange man at the moment," his tone tells me he truly understands and there is compassion in his eyes. I am silent as he watches me for nearly a minute before he extends the hand holding the clothing.
"Here are some of my things. I know they'll smell like me but I thought you might like something to cover yourself up," he offers a tentative smile. I move slowly and roll to my right just enough to be able to move my left arm and I grimace as my right shoulder pulls painfully then I tense as Mitchell moves. He has tossed the clothing and it lands within reach of my left hand. I look from the clothing to his face and give the smallest of nods before reaching for the clothing.
"I'll move back over near the door and let you put those on," Mitchell tells me gently. I wait until he has moved away before I force myself into a sitting position, I glance his way to find he has turned his back but is clearly listening to my movements. I manage to put the t-shirt on by pulling it up my right arm before I pull it over my head but I am unable to manage the sweatpants one handed and over balance to fall on my injured shoulder. A cry of pain escapes me and my vision turns black with bright sparks shooting through it as bile rises in the back of my throat. I squeeze my eyes shut tight as I pant with the pain. I flinch as I imagine something touching my shoulder and I kick out blindly in my fear-induced panic.
"It's alright! It's all right! I'm not going to hurt you ... I'm just going to help you," Mitchell's voice comes from alarmingly close to me and I try to growl in warning but it comes out as a hiss of pain. I feel the sweat pants slip from between my fingers and my eyes fly open in desperation. Mitchell is kneeling beside me and his touch is gentle as he eases the sweatpants onto my other foot. A look of horror and compassion is on his face as he tries to avoid looking at the dried evidence of rape that clings to my inner thighs. He slips one hand beneath the curve of my hip and lifts me so he can pull the pants up properly. I don't look away as his gaze meets mine and he gives me a tentative smile; I respond with a slight nod. His scent does not stink of lust only horror and compassion. Instinct tells me he is not like the strays that had captured me when Jasper left me after my heat had ended.
"Do you understand me?" He pronounces each word carefully and slowly. I hesitate a few seconds then respond with another slight nod.
"Are you hungry? There's some food if you are," Mitchell offers as he tries to study my head without being too obvious. I give another slight nod and then turn my head so he can see the injury above my right ear where my hair has been hacked short. I can remember feeling stitches being put in behind that ear at some time during the time I've been kept as a prisoner.
"I'll get you that food," Mitchell says softly and stands up. I stare nervously but watch him walk away with hopeful anticipation. My stomach rumbles at the thought of food and my mouth tries to water. Suddenly I hope he remembers a drink as I realise how dehydrated I am.
I don't have to wait long and the aroma of fried chicken precedes Mitchell into the room. I eye the three men who follow him into the room and try to sit up more securely at the same time. Mitchell walks towards me and slows as he nears me clearly he is watching to see if I object to his presence. I glance past him relieved to see that the others have stopped and are well back from me.
"You like chicken?" Mitchell asks with a slight smile and I nod as I eye the plastic bags he carries.
"The others would like to meet you. No one will hurt you I promise," Mitchell tells me quietly when my alarmed gaze meets his. He reaches into one of the bags and pulls out a sports drink and hands it to me. I reach for it with my left hand and hesitate when I realise I won't be able to open it. Mitchell must have realised the same thing and smiles ruefully before unscrewing the lid and handing me the bottle.
"How about you meet the others while you have some of that?" He asks as I raise the bottle to my lips almost frantically. I don't respond as I gulp the drink down thirstily and tense when one of the others approaches to stand beside Mitchell.
"This is my brother Samuel but everyone calls him Sam," Mitchell tells me.
"Hi," Sam says with a wide smile. He seems a bit disappointed when I don't respond but gives a slight nod before turning and walking away. The next guy catches my attention immediately as he walks towards us and I watch him for a few moments before I realise I was mistaken. It's not Micah.
"This is Dwayne," Mitchell says evenly. Dwayne smiles at me with assured calm and squats so he is on the same level with me.
"Hi, do you have a name?" he asks. The very sound of his voice reminds me of Micah and I growl in a sudden burst of fear. Dwayne backs away with a hurt look on his face and stands off to one side as the last guy comes forward for his introduction.
"And lastly Alex," Mitchell motions towards a darker and slimmer version of Dwayne.
"Hi Mystery Lady," Alex says lightly. I glance at Mitchell then back at Alex.
"It's alright, Alex don't mean no harm." Mitchell says reassuringly. I glance back at Mitchell and give the slightest of nods.
"You hungry?" Mitchell asks reaching into the other bag to produce a take-away container. He moves a couple of steps closer and squats to put the container down in front of me. I put my drink down as I watch Mitchell move away before turning my attention to the food. I open the container awkwardly and study the food carefully. Deciding it doesn't appear to have been tampered with I grab a deep-fried wing and sink my teeth into it eagerly. I am full before I eat all the chicken and I try to sit up straighter as I suck the flavour off my fingers. I catch Mitchell watching me with a thoughtful look on his face. Catching me watching him he smiles at me and produces several wet wipes from a container on the floor. When he approaches me I watch him calmly and make no protest when he squats facing me and reaches for my greasy hand. I hesitate for a moment then hold it out to him and watch as he carefully and gently cleans the grease from my skin.
"It looks like you enjoyed that food," Mitchell says softly and I nod.
"Can you remember how you got here?" Mitchell asks gently. I jerk my hand away from him and lean away from him as I avoid his gaze and after a short while he gets to his feet and moves away from me. I watch as the other three move over to him and they begin talking quietly.
"She needs her injuries treated," Someone says, I think its Dwayne.
"I'm still trying to get her to trust me. She clearly blames all males for what those strays did to her," Mitchell replies in little more than a whisper.
"Tranquillise her," Sam chimes in.
"And lose all the progress I've made?" There is anger in Mitchell's voice and he glances towards me as if sensing I was listening but I am closing the take away container one handed and he turns his attention back to the others.
"We're fast running out of time. We've cleaned up here and leave in about an hour," Sam argues in a whisper.
"You think I don't know that? You think I'm not trying to win her trust as fast as I can?" Mitchell demands angrily his voice rising slightly and I look his way nervously. I am openly watching them when he glances my way this time. He turns away from the other three and collects a can of coke from one of the plastic bags the food had been in and carries it towards me.