To Love a Stray Ch. 05byMygypsy©
"You got any more strawberry milk?" I ask as I tilt my head to the side
"Yeah," Steven says. I wait expectantly for him to offer me some but there is no offer made and I frown as I think about this turn of events. A few minutes later Steven puts a plate of scrambled eggs with toast in front of me and I pick up the fork on the plate hungrily and begin eating. Soon the three others are sitting down with cups of coffee and I start surprised as Edwin reaches over and drops several pieces of crisply cooked bacon on my plate, I clutch my plate uneasily for a few moments before giving a faint nod.
"Thank you," I say faintly.
"Wow, a thank you instead of a growl and an attempt to detach my hand, I'm impressed." Edwin says and I glance at him to see him smiling.
"Not used to being around werecats," I mutter as I turn my attention back to my food.
"I remember how jumpy you were at Pete's and even at your own place," Steven says evenly.
"All three of yous smelt like clan cats! And clan cats ..." I break off what I am saying and take a deep breath.
"So you ready to believe what you've been told might be wrong?" Steven asks levelly. I give a slight shrug as I'm not about to mention the fact that I have come across several dead strays that smell of clan cats. Nor do I want to mention Jasper who I am sure has been killed.
"I hope someone has put the coffee on!" Malcolm calls as the door bangs noisily. I turn my head and listen as several lots of footsteps move through towards the kitchen. The first into the kitchen is Donovan and Justin who hurry over to claim seats near me, Malcolm, Timny and Micah follow them.
"Coffee is ready," Edwin tells Malcolm who immediately pours himself a cup.
"Can we go hunting with yous today?" Donovan asks eagerly.
"Yeah," Malcolm agrees.
"Can't see why not," Edwin puts in.
"You two should be able to manage a goat between you," Chris tells them.
"You want to come along as well Rosy?" Timny asks.
I shake my head, "My wrist hasn't healed enough for me to be able to walk on all four paws," I say uneasily.
"How about they hunt while you go on two feet, then you shift and have a feed of fresh meat?" Micah asks.
"No! No! I'm not touching someone else's kill!" I refuse nervously. I hear Micah take a deep breath.
"What ever makes you feel comfortable," he says evenly.
"Give her a bit more time," Edwin says lightly.
"Rosy can have my kill if I make one," Donovan offers.
"I'm right with my bacon and eggs," I say evenly with a glance his way.
"What no pancakes today?" Micah asks as he moves to the stove. Soon the smell of frying bacon fills the air and I notice everyone but Micah and Steven finishing their drinks and getting to their feet. Soon it is just Micah, Steven and I left in the kitchen and I put my fork on my empty plate before pushing it away with a contented sigh.
"Strawberry milk?" Steven asks.
"Yes please," I answer flashing him a nervous smile. "Where's Pete?" I ask as Steven gets up to pour me a glass of flavoured milk.
"Wade sent him back to his place. Wade's more than a bit pissed off with him, he believes Pete knew about you for some time and didn't report it," Micah tells me with a level look.
I shake my head as I look away, "I made sure he never saw me change or had a chance to smell me," I say unhappily.
"He was real quick to make sure we didn't try to get too close or touch you," Steven points out.
"Are yous trying to make me hate yous?" I ask between gritted teeth as I get to my feet and walk away from the table leaving the glass of strawberry milk where Steven had sat it on the table. I curl up in one of the chairs in the lounge room and sit staring out the large window, outside it is bright and sunny and I long to be outside not stuck inside with two large irritated and irritating toms.
I am still there by myself when the others return from hunting laughing and in good spirits after what was obviously a successful hunt. I close my eyes faking sleep and they sneak past me to head to either the shower or the kitchen, I wait until none are close by before getting to my feet and leaving the building silently. I find a nice shady spot under a vine covered trellis and sit on the ground making myself comfortable, after a short while I hear the toms moving around and calling my name.
I watch as Wade goes down to the quarters and talks to Micah just outside the door and I unashamedly strain to eaves drop even from this distance. I hear enough to know that they are concerned about my apparent disappearance but I have no desire to let them know I am so close. I remain motionless and watch as everyone moves about searching for me until finally I grow bored and stretch out on my back on the warm ground, I close my eyes and find myself drifting off to sleep. I wake with a start and lay motionless for several moments as my body slowly looses its tension, I must have had a bad dream I realise as I sit up and look around. It is mid afternoon and I realise I am hungry, I get to my feet and head for the quarters and grimace as I realise not only am I hungry I also need to use the toilet.
I ignore the faint sounds of two people talking in one of the bedrooms as I make my way to the toilet being careful not to make a sound. I know the sound of the toilet flushing will probably draw attention but I am quick to wash my hand and head for the kitchen even as I hear someone exiting their room.
"Hey Rosy!" Steven calls behind me but I don't respond as I continue towards the kitchen, "We've been looking for you, where were you?" he demands. I turn to face him angrily, my head is slightly lowered and my good hand is clenching and unclenching at my side. I feel hounded and hunted and I don't like it.
"Obviously I was somewhere else," I growl in a low voice.
"I'll go tell Micah she turned up," Timny says from behind Steven and I glance his way angrily.
"Where were you?" Steven demands as Timny leaves. I stand silently watching him, I can feel my temper rising. Why should I answer to these cats I don't consider part of my clan.
"Where were you?" Steven demands again lacing his voice with authority. My growl starts as a low rumble deep in my chest, it's not only me who's angry but my inner cat as well, as we both begin to feel threatened.
"I do not answer to you or anyone," I say my voice gravely with my growl.
"That's bullshit, as part of this clan you answer to our Alpha as well as the warriors who lead each team," Steven growls back. I tremble as I feel my cat fighting to be let loose on this impertinent tom, I grit my teeth and take several steps to one side as I try to control the urge to begin to circle him.
"I am not a part of the clan. I am a solitary cat and I will fight if necessary to remain so," I warn.
"It doesn't work that way. As a she-kitt you need the protection of the clan toms," He tells me. I can't control the snarl that escapes as I circle around to one side of him. The sound of the outside door slamming has me dividing my attention between Steven and the doorway edgily.
"She's back! Good!" Wade says almost distractedly before he turns his full attention to Steven who doesn't take his eyes off me. "Dwayne's bringing the team back. He's driving and he's injured," My full attention switches to Wade and I notice that his scent is mixed with fear and anxiety.
"Any casualties?" Steven asks quickly.
"He didn't say. He rang from a phone booth and just said they were racing home," Wade tells him.
"Sh ... I'll start preparations here, Doc been alerted?" Steven asks in concern.
"I've left him a message on voicemail; he'll come as soon as he gets it." Wade said firmly.
"What's going on?" I demand tightly, "Is Mitchell all right?"
"I don't have any details but we will prepare for injuries," Wade tells me in a tone meant to be comforting. He turns his head slightly and I can hear hurried footsteps and then the door slams again.
"Timny said Rosy is back ..." Micah says as he hurries into the room. I am aware of several others behind him.
"You think something is wrong don't you?" I demand of Wade.
"No use in jumping to conclusions Rosy," Wade soothes carefully. My rage re-centres itself on the fact that something has happened to my toms and I growl angrily as I circle out wide around Wade and Micah.
"Stay here Rosy, don't go running off!" Micah orders and I turn towards him with a savage snarl.
"Do not order me around!" I yell angrily and turn away as I head towards my room barely noticing the other toms as they move out of my way.
"You will stay here Rosy!" Micah commands and I turn around with a savage snarl, my entire body shuddering with the threatening shift. I am dimly aware of several of the toms backing out of sight and then the sounds of others changeing reaches my ears, still I am aware I can still change before they finish and I growl as I turn away and head for Mitchell's room. I slam the door behind me and give in to my shift, fire races up my spine and I scream as pain explodes through my body savagely. I tear at the bandage around my throbbing pastern and easily rip it off with my teeth before limping around the room, I am able to put weight on my injured leg but it is still not very strong.
"...if you can't make her see sense ..."
I roar my rage and all other sounds cease for a few seconds, I begin scratching at the bedpost on Mitchell's bed leaving my scent mark on the bed before skidding around the room in short dashes. My anger burns for a long time before I begin to calm down, I jump up onto the bed easily and stretch out on my stomach with my forelegs stretched out in front of me. I am busy grooming my injured leg when the door opens a crack and Steven looks in cautiously.
"I thought you might be hungry," he says and shows me two plates each with a large steak on it, one is raw and the other one cooked medium rare. He places the plates on the floor and pushes them toward me before shutting the door and moving away from it. I lay listening intently for several minutes before I get off the bed and pad over to the food. I take my time eating the steaks and licking the juices off the plates before returning to the bed where I stretch out on my left side before rolling onto my back and lying with all four legs sticking up into the air.
It is after dark before I wake and get off the bed, I can hear the muted whispers of the toms in different rooms through the house. I take a deep breath and concentrate and I am surprised when I change with no trouble, I grab a t-shirt of Mitchell's and a pair of drawstring waisted pants that I quickly pull on before heading for the door. Steven, Malcolm, Edwin and Micah are in the lounge room talking quietly beneath the cover of the TV set when I walk through the room on the way to the kitchen and Edwin gets to his feet and follows me.
"Feeling better now Rosy?" He asks lightly. I pause in the act of putting the plates in the bin, decide against throwing the paper plates at his head and give a slight nod.
"Want to come in and sit with me?" He coaxes and I shrug as I turn away from him. "Come on. No one wants you to be upset," he tells me lightly.
"Well frankly Edwin how I feel or what I want is being totally ignored or I would be back at my place, in my house with my job not stuck here in the middle of clan territory." I say coldly.
"Rosy, that's not true and you know it," Edwin scolds gently and I look away from him and the toms in the lounge room as I cradle my injured wrist across my chest.
"Leave me alone," I growl but my growl lacks conviction.
"Come sit with us while we wait for the others to get back. I'm sure you're just as worried about Mitchell as we are about all of them," Edwin says softly. I hesitate for a moment then nod reluctantly. I don't want to be alone while I wait for my toms to get home. My unrestrained imagination would be free to give me horrifying nightmares while I am awake. I follow Edwin to the lounge room and curl up in a chair away from the others.
"They should be back soon surely," Malcolm says with a glance at the watch on his wrist before looking my way, "So tell me Rosy, what do I have to do to get you to let me close enough to ask to touch your belly?"
I look his way and quickly look away again when I see him watching me, "You asking?" I say slightly uncertain.
"Well I wouldn't mind being able to be in the same room as you and not having you hissing and snarling at me," Malcolm says lightly.
"Don't make me feel threatened and I won't hiss, snarl or growl!" I snap.
"And I know your claws and teeth are sharp, I've got several scars from when you stood your ground when I chased you in cat form," Malcolm says with a smile in his voice.
"Good! It'll teach you some manners," I tell him without looking away from the TV.
"So what can I do to get on your good side?" Malcolm asks and I have to smother a smile as I realise he is using my own phrase against me.
"Promise to cook you breakfast in the morning? Wrap your arm for you again? Offer to give you a foot rub? How about a back massage? Nothing above the neck or below the butt cheeks and nothing past the side of the ribs? A neck massage maybe? Or a massage of your injured wrist?" Malcolm offers. I glance at him starting to get annoyed but the expression on his face tells me he really wanted to be able to touch me in some way like I was letting some of the others. I look back towards the TV as I feel a softening of my anger towards all of them and a softening in my desire to leave this place.
"If I let you give me a foot rub will that shut you up?" I demand but my voice lacks bite even to my ears.
"For half an hour," Malcolm tells me and I can hear the hopeful thread in his voice.
"Okay. A foot massage but you keep it below the ankles," I growl. Malcolm collects lotion before settling himself in front of me and lifting one of my feet gently onto his lap, he slathers the lotion on thickly before starting to massage it in. I almost groan at his gentle touch and I frown but can't work up a complaint as his strong fingers search out the sore spots in my feet. When he's finished the second foot, he puts the lid on the lotion and is about to get to his feet before I speak.
"You can put your hand on my stomach as long as you don't try to put it under my clothes," I say without taking my eyes off the TV screen. His hand is large and warm even through the t shit I am wearing and I glance at his face but he is staring at my stomach where his hand rests entranced. The distant sound of a vehicle engine catches my attention and I push his hand away as I get to my feet.
"It's them!" I exclaim with a glance towards the others. They listen intently for nearly ten seconds before they suddenly start to move.
"Damn you got good hearing," Steven comments as they head outside.
"As little Red Riding Hood told the Big Bad Wolf - 'All the better to hear you with,'" I say even though I know I have mutilated the fairy tale. I follow the toms outside and wait impatiently for the van to drive into sight. I hold my breath as the van comes to a halt and Dwayne gets out from the drivers seat stiffly, even on the opposite side of the car I can see the ragged and blood stained state of his shirt on his right arm from shoulder to elbow. The back of the van opens and Mitchell climbs out, his face half covered by a bloody bandage over one eye and cheek. Blood stains his shirtfront and there are tears in the shoulder of his shirt on the same side as his mauled face.
The strong pungent odour of blood hits me as I edge closer to look in the van. Sam is sitting propped against the far side of the van, his near side covered in slashed clothing with blood soaked material. The leg of his jeans has been cut off and his thigh has been bandaged from groin to knee. But it is Alex who holds my attention where he lays on the back seat so pale his skin is nearly see through, the front of his shirt is covered by several towels between his lower ribs and belt. Blood has soaked through the material and seems to cover the entire seat.
"The bastards gutted him," Dwayne chokes.
"No!" I scream and I am in the van before I am aware I intended to move. I look down at him as his eyes flutter weakly and his lips move soundlessly. I inhale deeply searching for scents I have learnt to identify as a vet assistant, my head spins as I take a second deep breath and filter through the smells.
"There's no gut smells! That means no intestinal damage!" I cry as I turn to look at the others behind me. Hands take hold of my waist and I allow myself to be lifted from the van.
"Get him inside!" I order, "I might be able to stop the bleeding until Doc gets here!"
"Go inside," Micah orders and I nod before hurrying inside. I wait out of the way by the lounge room door and watch as Mitchell and Dwayne are helped inside before Malcolm carries Sam in.
"It's going to take us some time to ease Alex onto something so we can carry him inside," Malcolm says gently to me. I turn and hurry to Mitchell and Sam's room to find Timny in there helping to get Sam settled on his bed which is covered by a thick plastic sheet under an absorbent sheet of paper.
"We need boiled water, disinfectant and clean bandages," I tell Timny as I survey the bandage on Mitchell's face. "Did it get your eye?" I ask.
"No it didn't but you won't think he's such a pretty boy anymore. Even if Dwayne has managed to sew him up fairly neatly." Sam says with a pain filled grunt from his bed.
"What damage has been done to you?" I ask as I eye his shredded shirt.
"Take a look," He says with gritted teeth and I gently pull the ruined shirt open to reveal eight long slashes of varying depth, all of which have already been sewn up even if very roughly.
"And your leg?" I ask.
"I need Doc to sew it up. There's a lot of muscle damage," Sam grunts.
I make my way to Dwayne and Alex's room and find Dwayne sitting on the edge of his bed his head in his hands. Without hesitation I walk over to him and gently press his head against my body with my good arm, he wraps his arms around me and holds me tightly as he begins sobbing against my stomach. I stroke his hair gently and rest my injured arm on his shoulder, after several minutes he pulls away from me and pushes both his hands under my t-shirt to run them over my lower stomach. We are still like that when Alex is carried in on some kind of a stretcher and Dwayne pushes me away gently.
"He kept muttering about you and the babies," Dwayne tells me and tears start falling from his eyes once again as he pushes me towards the bed. I push Steven aside to crawl onto the bed and stretch out beside Alex close to him but not actually touching him.
"Rosy?" His voice is very faint and I grasp one of his hands and press it to my face.
"What did you think you were doing getting all scratched up Alex? I need all four of my toms," I whisper to him.
"The bastards ambushed us. They were all in cat form while we were on two legs. They went after Sam and Alex first, done most of the damage before Mitchell and I could reach them," Dwayne says.
"Do you know who they were?" Wade asks and I look over my shoulder to see him sitting beside Dwayne with an arm around his shoulders.
"No, it happened too fast but I'll know them if I ever smell them again," Dwayne announces fiercely.
"You others see if you can identify the scents left behind on the wounds," Wade says tightly and I hear several lots of footsteps retreat from the room. I turn my attention back to Alex and notice him trying to lick his dry lips.
"Someone get me some water!" I order angry that Alex is suffering from thirst. A few moments later a cold bottle of water is pressed against my injured hand and I turn to reach for it with my good hand, I open it using my teeth and take several swallows before turning to Alex and carefully dribbling several drops onto his lips.