BIRTH, DEATH AND NEWCOMERS.

 

 

Bruin watched Kamchatka and the lions.  Turning to Nanuq, he scoffed at the grizzly bear.

        “Kamchatka’s a silly bear,”  he said, “cuddling up with lions was not what bears were put on this earth for, and now she’s gone and ingratiated herself with a pride of lions!  Who the hell does she think she is?”

      “Just because you wish you were there,” Nanuq said, “Bruin, you’ve withdrawn from this community more than any bear here!  We work together; Kamchatka loves the spirits of the lions, not just their physical form!  You are not looking at the whole picture Bruin.”  Bruin got to his paws, intent on teaching Kamchatka a lesson.  Storming out of the lie up, he barrelled along to the lion’s den, bursting in and flying at Kamchatka, who was playing with the lion cubs.  Sensing danger, the cubs fled for the security of their parents, Bruin attacking Kamchatka with terrible force!  Kamchatka rolled over, launching herself at Bruin, flattening him.  Bruin, overweight and unfit, hit the deck like a sack of potatoes.  Kamchatka was aboard him and subduing him before the cubs had hidden properly.  Bruin, pinned down by Kamchatka and realising she was really pissed off, began to beg.

      “It was only a joke; I didn’t mean to harm you!”  He pleaded.  Kamchatka snorted and leant harder on her forepaws which were clamped around Bruin’s neck.

       “You chose the wrong bear to attack,” Kamchatka said softly, “now, now I’m going to finish you off!”  Bruin began to cry.

        Right,” Kamchatka said, “I’m going to let go of you now Bruin, you will stay on the carpet and get up when I tell you.”  Kamchatka let go of Bruin, stepping back, unable to avoid stepping on him.  Bruin wailed with pain and humiliation.

         “Now get to your paws, slowly, slowly,” Kamchatka said.  Bruin complied, seeing Samson arrive on the scene.

     “Now walk towards me,” Samson said.  Bruin took his chance and ran at Samson!

      “You’re dead Samson!  Bloody dead!”  Bruin yelled.  Samson looked scared!  Kamchatka leapt at Bruin, landing on his back, the bear collapsing beneath her!

      “Out of my way Samson!  Get down and stay down!”  Nanuq yelled, shoving the lion leader hard to the floor and scrambling over his body, before beating Bruin into submission.  Samson lay on the floor, rapidly getting used to the idea he’d just been saved from a steamrollering by a brown bear and been run over by a polar bear in the space of ten seconds.  Kamchatka and Nanuq carried Bruin out of the lie up, the angry bear groggy and tied up.  Kamchatka dumped Bruin onto a trolley and pushed him into a lift.  Hitting the down button, she and Nanuq rode with Bruin, now begging for his life, to the ground level.  Shovelling Bruin out into the garden, Kamchatka and Nanuq made sure he was well into the wood before releasing him.  By this time Bruin was convinced he was about to die.

       “You thought you could attack me just because you hated my way of life!”  Kamchatka screamed, slapping Bruin across his face, “I love those lions, and that means I will protect them with my life!  Now piss off into the wood and leave the community if you can’t cope with how I am!  Go on, get lost!”  Samson bounded into view.

       “Nanuq, Kamchatka,” he panted, “is, is Bruin secure?”  Bruin swore at Kamchatka, then at Samson.

      “I think a spell in the wood would not be a bad idea,” Samson mewed, “and Nanuq, thanks for saving me from a kicking.”  Nanuq grinned at his leader.       “No problem,” Nanuq replied, “sorry for the aggressive stance, but I needed to get to Bruin before he got to you.”

        “You nearly steamrollered Samson Nanuq!”  Kamchatka said.  Nanuq shook his head, smiled, and then launched himself at Kamchatka, bringing her down, keeping her down and scrambling over her like he’d done Samson.  Kamchatka felt sudden and heavy pressure, so brief she hardly noticed it, but she was in no doubt as to what Nanuq wanted her to do.

      “So that’s how you did it,” Kamchatka said, “how would you cope with cubs?”

       “Drag them away,” Nanuq replied, “they can’t be treated like that.  In this instance though, the cubs weren’t in danger.”

      “I think a spell in the concrete prison would be a good idea,” Samson said, “noone attacks, then swears at me and gets away with it!”  Bruin got to his paws, squaring up to the lion.

       “Come on pussy-boy!”  Bruin challenged, running at Samson, “You’re dead meat!”  Samson knew when he was out gunned, turned and fled!

         Run away puss! Puss! Puss! Puss!  Pussy-boy, Pussy-boy Samson!”  Bruin yelled.  Samson’s paws could not take him into the house fast enough.  Really frightened for his own life, Samson ran into his lie up, his whole body shaking!  Meanwhile, Kamchatka beat bruin up, Nanuq lending her a helping paw.

       “Shall we kill him now?”  Kamchatka asked.  Nanuq looked down at bruin.

       “Yes, for noone goes after our leader unpunished.  Bruin meant to kill Samson!”

        “He would have done if we’d not stopped him,” Nanuq replied.  Kamchatka looked down at Bruin, the brown bear knowing he was about to die.

        “What happened to time inside?”  Bruin asked.

      “Time inside for attempting to kill our leader is too easy for you,” Kamchatka replied.  Then she knocked Bruin down, slapped him across his face and on the soles of all four paws, Bruin screaming with pain!

 

Meanwhile, Samson lay in his lie up, crying into Fleur’s fur.  Fleur had watched the video of the confrontation with Bruin and cradled her mate’s head as he wept.

        “Bears aren’t good news when they’re angry,” Fleur mewed.  Samson, crying like a cub, wiped his eyes with his paw.

       “I want him locked away,” Samson sobbed, “Keep him away from me!  Keep him away from me!”  Fleur stroked Samson’s paws and kissed his nose, trying to soothe him.  Samson choked on his tears, actually vomiting onto the rug.  Fleur cradled him tenderly, the lion shaking with fear.

        “It’s okay Sammy, I promise it’s all over,” fleur mewed.  Samson closed his eyes, but could not dispel the image of Bruin running at him.

      “I should have faced him down,” Samson mewed, “but I have a mate and cub, and I can’t leave you!”

       “You won’t be seen as weak for running from danger,” Fleur mewed, “for you have a family, and are not stupid.  Bruin is stupid, for he doesn’t hold his life as dear.  He needs to learn a lesson.”  Samson looked down at his vomit covered paws.

      “I’m sorry for vomiting,” he mewed.  Fleur shook her head.

      “Let’s get you cleaned up, and then we’ll see what happens with Bruin.

 

Samson let fleur wash him, and then she cleaned the lie up.  Kamchatka padded into the lie up soon after, having thrown bruin into the concrete prison.

       “How are you Samson?”  She asked.  Samson looked down at his paws.

       “I am feeling embarrassed and weak,” the lion admitted, “I should have faced Bruin, but, but, I have a cub Kamchatka, I can’t leave him or fleur if the worst happens.”  Kamchatka smiled at the lion, padded up to him and hugged him.

       “I love you Sammy,” she said softly, Samson burying his head in Kamchatka’s shoulder, crying into her fur.

        “Nanuq saved my life,” he sobbed.  Kamchatka rocked Samson gently, the motion soothing the lion.

       “Noone blames you for running away,” the bear replied, “You have a cub to think of, bruin doesn’t, so he has nothing to lose.  I have cubs to think of too, but I know I can break Bruin under my paws.  Nanuq was a great help though.”  Nanuq padded into the lie up and hugged Kamchatka before hugging Fleur and Samson.

       “What’s next,” he said, “ah yes, I suppose we’d better go find older Leo and Petra, they’re probably worried about us.”

 

Indeed, Leo and Petra were worried, trying to comfort their cubs, which had just been through a horrendous time.

       “Nanuq and Kamchatka will be back as soon as they’ve finished with Bruin,” Petra mewed.

        “But Samson was nearly killed!”  Little Theo mewed, “if, if that bear hadn’t forced him to the floor, I would be without a sire now.”  Petra was aware of that, and stroked her Son cub’s back.

      “Nanuq’s a good bear, as are most of the bears here,”  she mewed, “Bruin’s a bit of a loose cannon,”  she mewed, “he’s going to be sorted for good now though.  He’s not coming back.”  The sound of heavy padded paws entering the lie up made Petra and Leo leap to their paws, growling and snarling.  Kamchatka got to her hind paws and held her forepaws in the air in a theatrical manner.

      “I’m weapons free!”  She declared.

       “Weapons free would mean you had your claws and teeth removed,” Leo mewed.  Kamchatka grinned and dropped onto all four paws once more.

      “Come and give us a hug,” Leo said to her.  Kamchatka crawled to the lions, Petra and Leo lying down again.  Theo and Elsa crawled to Kamchatka’s hind quarters and, taking a hind paw each, rubbed the pads on the soles of her hind paws with their forepaws,.  Kamchatka wiggled her toes, and then curled them round those of the cubs, Elsa and Theo smiling and kissing her paw pads.

       “She’s soppy,” Theo mewed.  Kamchatka released the tiny toes of the two cubs, the cubs crawling to her forepaws and touching them, feeling them holding Petra’s right forepaw and Leo’s left fore.

       “I love you all,” Kamchatka said.  Petra and Leo kissed Kamchatka’s nose in turn, Petra’s eyes telling the grizzly bear she loved her.

      “It might be generally held that grizzly bears are the most aggressive bears about,” Leo mewed, “but Kamchatka isn’t one of them.”

       ”And so say all of us,” Petra mewed.  Nanuq padded into the lie up, the cubs and adult lions leaping on top of him and kissing his nose and paws.  Nanuq rolled with the lions and cubs, loving their attention.

 

Meanwhile, back in Samson’s lie up, Nuru and Samson were having an intense discussion about Bruin.  Samson showed Nuru the camera footage of the goings on in the lie up, asking Nuru to give his opinion on it.

      “Bruin wanted to kill you Samson!”  Nuru mewed.

       “For that he should be killed,” Samson replied, “but I can’t do it.  I can’t kill that bear, for he’s too dam big!  I’d be killed, and that’s what he wants.”

      “Bruin’s violated our laws just because he thought Kamchatka was silly for playing with the lion cubs,” Nuru mewed, “that’s awful, then, to attack the leader of the community too.  I will kill him Samson!  Give him to me!”  With that Nuru ran from the lie up, charging along to the concrete prison.  Finding Bruin there, Nuru burst in, flattened the bear and killed him, no emotion, nothing except pure aggression and hatred for the bear that’d attacked his leader.  Bruin had paid the price for attacking Samson.  Nuru won where Samson would have lost because he used outright aggression and surprise, the bear not knowing where to turn.

 

Nuru padded back to the lie up and told Samson what he’d done.

       “You are braver than me,” Samson mewed.

      “No Sammy,” Nuru replied, “your thoughts were for your cubs, mine was all of how I hated Bruin.  I wanted him dead more than anything in the world.  You dear Sammy are as soft and gentle as a cub, you can kill food etc, and you can fight your corner, but if noone’s wronged you personally, you hold out the paw of reconciliation, and bruin wanted meat, not to shake paws.  Sammy you are becoming what Theo was, you talk a good fight, but you can’t fight really.”

       “I just didn’t want to be crushed under the paws of a huge and very pissed off bear,” Samson replied, “I have a cub here Nuru, a very newborn cub.  You don’t, maybe that was your edge on me.  Little Tess is no longer so little, and you know she’s safe without you.  Little Clarence though, what would he do without me or fleur?”

      “Good point,” Nuru mewed, “Okay Sammy.”  Samson smiled at Nuru and kissed his paws.

       “Kamchatka is lovely to Leo and Petra’s cubs,” he mewed.

       “Little Theo is your cub Samson,” Nuru reminded him.

      “I know,” Samson replied, “but it’s easier if I keep paws off, let Leo do it all.  He’s Petra’s mate after all.”  Nuru didn’t question Samson, for it was not his to question.  Samson looked at Nanuq, the huge polar bear now sitting in the lie up as if he’d been resident there.  Indeed, the bear was so relaxed, he’d even picked up his right hind paw with his right fore, and started playing with the toes of his right hind paw with those of his left fore, just like Brunetta or Kamchatka did when they were relaxed.

      “Is paw playing the newest craze?”  Samson asked.  Nanuq smiled at the lion.

      “If only you cats could play with your hind paws like we bears can,” Nanuq replied, “that’d be so cool.”  Samson grinned.

       “I wish I could,” he replied.  Nanuq patted the sole pad of his right hind paw with the toes of his right fore.

       “That’s nice isn’t it,” Samson said.  Nanuq smiled.

       “Can I stroke your paws Nanuq?”  Samson asked.  Nanuq grinned:

       “I wondered when you’d ask that,” he replied.  Nanuq crawled over to his leader and lay down beside him.  Nuru looked uneasy, for He’d not been as close as this to a polar bear before, and the bear was enormous!

      “You have big paws Nanuq,” Nuru mewed, shrinking from the sight of the bear’s enormous forepaws which lay relaxed within Samson’s reach.

       “Fore or hind paws first Sammy?”  Nanuq asked.  Samson took Nanuq’s left forepaw in his and began to stroke the bear’s pads and toes, Nanuq unable to hide the pleasure this gave him.  Cuddling up as close to the lion as he could, Nanuq closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation Samson’s paw massage was giving him.  Nuru watched this:

     “Which paw is you’re most sensitive?”  He asked Nanuq.

      “My right hind,” Nanuq replied dreamily.  Nuru had never massaged a bear’s paws before, but taking his life in his paws; he reached for Nanuq’s right hind paw and began to massage his pads and toes, the bear pressing his toes into Nanuq’s paws.

         “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve two lions massaging my paws, but it feels wonderful!”  Nanuq said softly.  Nanuq pressed his right hind paw hard into Nuru’s forepaws, the lion smiling and releasing his hold, then kissing the sole pad of Nanuq’s hind paw.  Nanuq grinned as Nuru’s paws recommenced playing with the toes of his right hind paw.

       “You like playing with my paw don’t you Nuru,” Nanuq said softly.  Nuru smiled:

       “That I do,” he replied, lightly stroking the large black, rough and rather wrinkled sole pad of Nanuq’s paw.  Nanuq curled his toes, the pad bunching under Nuru’s.

      “You’re tickling my paw!”  Nanuq laughed.  Nuru looked shocked, and then began to rub the pad furiously.

       “Now paws off for a minute,” Nanuq said, “come on Nuru, take your toes off my paw.”  Nuru did, and Nanuq sat up, took his right hind paw in his right fore and began to rub the sole pad back to normality.

       “I messed that up,” Nuru said miserably.  Nuru wiggled the toes of his left hind paw.

       “Have a go with that one,” he said, “go firmer this time, no tracing the pad with light touch, trace it, but with a firm touch.  That way you don’t tickle my paw.”  Nuru saw a sudden light in Nanuq’s eyes.

      “Here, let me have one of your paws, and I’ll show you where you went wrong if you like Nuru,” Nanuq said.  Nuru looked at Samson, who shook his head.

       “Better do what Nanuq says,” the lion leader said, “for you tickled his paw.”  Nuru reluctantly let Nanuq take his feline right hind paw in his huge padded bear like paws.  Nanuq, cradling Nuru’s right hind paw in his left fore, gently touched the pads on the sole of the lion’s paw with the toes of his right fore.  Nuru knew what was coming and clenched his teeth.  Nanuq gently traced the pads of Nuru’s paw, the lion curling the toes of all four paws and trying not to laugh.

      “That’s how not to do it,” Nanuq said, “Now try this.”  With that he rubbed his toes firmly over Nuru’s pads and toes, the lion soothed by the massage.

       “I’m not rubbing hard, I’m just committed, and definitely not tickling your paw,” Nanuq said smiling at the lion.  Nuru knew now where he’d messed up.  Nuru relaxed totally, the polar bear’s paws working their magic on his right hind, and then left hind paws.  Resting his head on his forepaws, Nuru concentrated, but not too hard on what his hind paws was telling him.  Now Nanuq’s toes were touching the pads on the sole of his left hind paw, now they were touching the toes on the same paw, the bear’s toes gently playing with Nuru’s.  Nuru couldn’t remember the last time anyone had played with his paws, but he knew he had missed the sensation, so he must have had his paws played with before, and liked it.

       “Feels good doesn’t it,” Samson said.  Nuru smiled with cub like pleasure.

      “”it does,” he mewed.  Samson smiled, thinking of how Allie had played with his own paws only the previous night. 

 

Their paw play had been wonderful, it was his turn to start the game, to play with her paws, first her fore, and then her hind, for the bears seemed to enjoy having their hind paws played with more than they did their fore.  Maybe it was to keep their forepaws free to massage the fur of whomever was massaging their paws, Samson didn’t know.  But he remembered touching Allie’s forepaws with his fore, and her hind with his hind.  Then she’d taken his hind paws in her fore, and he her hind paws in his.  The paw play was a time when Samson could let go and play like a cub, much as he could with Fleur when she wasn’t working, which wasn’t often these days.  Samson was determined not to be caught out like Simba was.  His job would never come before his family, Samson was adamant about that.

 

Nuru pressed the toes of his hind paw into the rough wrinkled sole pad of Nanuq’s forepaw, loving the sensation of rough pads against his.

        “You can really play with one’s paws,” Nuru mewed.  Nanuq smiled and patted the pads on the sole of the paw he was playing with.

       “Want to try massaging my paw pads again?”  The bear asked.  Nuru hesitated:

       “Can I try playing with the toes of one of your hind paws first?”  He asked, “Then, well, then, and only when I get it right, I might try touching the pads on the soles of your paws Nanuq.  The thing is, you’ve had years of practise at this paw play thing, I haven’t, for in my previous life, paw play never came into my head.”  Nanuq was content with that.

      “I’ll just sit down, and you pick the paw you want to play with, okay?”  Nuru smiled:

      “Hind paws only, right?”  He asked.  Nanuq smiled:

      “Yes, please,” he replied.  Releasing Nuru’s paw and sitting back on his backside, Nanuq closed his eyes, waiting for the touch of Nuru’s forepaw on the toes of one of his hind.  Nuru, scared now, gently took hold of Nanuq’s left hind paw with his right fore, then began to play with the toes of the bear’s paw with his own left fore.  Nanuq’s toes were large and strong, with long claws.  Nuru, now up close to the bear, was surprised that Nanuq’s scent was hardly noticeable.  The bear smelt unlike a bear, but of the same herbal stuff they all used to wash their fur and paws.  Nuru knew the bears took as many baths as Samson did, which were very many indeed.  It seemed to him the bears liked the water, staying in it until their paw pads became wrinkled like prunes.  Nanuq smiled encouragement to Nuru as the lion stroked his toe pads, then without thinking, began to massage the sole pad of the hind paw he held.  Nanuq relaxed, and Nuru felt it.

      “I’m doing okay now?”  The lion asked.  Nanuq curled his toes round the lion’s, holding them tight against his bunched pads.

      “Does that tell you what you want to know?”  Samson asked, watching all.  Nuru sighed with relief.  Nanuq smiled and released Nuru’s paw.

       “A lion stroking a bear’s paws is not so strange then,” Nuru mewed.  Allie padded in then, waved her paw at Nanuq and then crept up to him, whispering into his ear.  Nanuq’s smile told the two lions she’d told him something which either amused or delighted him.  Allie padded away, lifting a hind paw and wiggling her toes at Nanuq in a kind of good bye signal.  Samson recognised the raised hind paw and wiggled toes as a throwback from the wild times, a time when to have eyes peeled for danger meant a bear could not turn his or her head and raise a forepaw in farewell.  Nanuq raised a massive forepaw to Allie and wiggled his toes back at her, a brief smile from the female polar bear visible as she disappeared down the passage.

       “What did she tell you Nanuq?”  Samson asked.  Nanuq grinned and put his paw to his lips.

       “All this subterfuge,” Nuru mewed.  Nanuq grinned, just as Allie, who’d been listening all the time, padded into the room, stood on her hind paws; spread her forepaws wide, her eyes shining.

      “I’m in cub again,” Allie said.  Samson wanted to run to her and hug her, but restrained himself.

      “That’s wonderful!”  He said, curling his toes into the rug to stop himself from running to her and hugging her.  Allie dropped onto all four paws, then went to Samson and let him hug her, Samson embracing her with all the love he felt for her.

        “Sam?”  He whispered.  Allie nodded, and then squeezed his paw.  Samson smiled:

       “Did he?”  The lion asked.  Allie grinned:

      “All the paw contact and hugs I could ever want,” she said.  Samson waited for Allie to release his paw, and then he embraced the huge polar bear’s paw which had held his in both his forepaws.  Samson squeezed Allie’s paw tenderly, his eyes filling with tears.

      “I’m so glad for you,” he mewed, his voice cracking.  Nuru and Nanuq smiled at Samson and Allie, Samson kissing Allie’s nose, wanting to embrace her properly.

        “Come on Sammy,” Allie said, “hug me, just like you want to.”  Samson dropped Allie’s paw and Allie lay down beside Samson, on his other side to where Nuru lay.  Samson turned and embraced Allie with his forepaws, wrapping his paws round her neck as far as he could, kissing her nose and paws, as if he were the sire of the cub.  Samson glanced up as Sam padded into the lie up, the male polar bear grinning at his mate.

       “I knew he’d be as pleased as us,” Sam said.  Samson kissed Allie’s nose unashamed of his feelings for her.  Fleur, padding in, grinned at Samson and looked at Sam.

      “Allie and you are big news all over the community,” she said, “I’m so pleased for you both, and so is Samson, though I don’t need to tell you that.”  Allie laughed merrily; cuddling up to Samson and kissing his nose and paws like he’d done hers, then getting to her paws and dancing on her toes.  Fleur, Sam and Samson laughed helplessly.

      “One happy she polar bear,” Samson said.  Allie rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air.

        “Allie, Allie, you, you’re so funny!”  Fleur mewed.  Allie sat up and took her left hind paw in her left fore, beginning to massage her pads and toes with her right fore., Allie’s smile telling Fleur how much the paw play gave her pleasure.

 

“Right,” Sam said, “now the news is out, what do we do?”  Nanuq looked at him.

       “I don’t know,” he said, “play with our own and each other’s paws?”  Sam laughed.  Lion Leo and Petra padded into the lie up, carrying a cub each.  The lions gently lay down the cubs, the cubs crawling towards Samson for a huge hug.  Samson rolled over and embraced each cub in turn, the cubs pawing at his paws and face as he kissed their noses.  The two lion cubs were soon clambering all over Samson, tumbling off him and rolling onto the carpet.  Nanuq and Allie caught the cubs, playing with the lion cubs as if they were their own.  Samson got to his paws, padding from the room.  Entering the kitchen, Samson looked round at the spotless worktops, the room deserted, almost deserted.  There was a strange creature with its back to him, eating something.  The creature was sitting down on the tiles of the passage leading from the kitchen to the passage into the bathroom and towards the back door.  Samson crept towards the creature, his claws retracted and mind in full hunting mode.  It was clear this creature hadn’t seen him, and suspected nothing.  Samson thought he recognised the rear profile of the creature from his wild days, but couldn’t be sure.  Fur standing on end, Samson approached the creature, hardly daring to breathe.  Samson got within pouncing range, and then sprang!  A scream of surprise mixed with Samson’s angry growling and snarling.  Samson roughly turned the creature towards him, the corn on the cob it had been eating flying from its hands.

      “What the hell is a baboon doing here!”  Samson yelled, apoplectic with rage.

      “My name is Babi, and I’ve got a friend, Ratty!”

       “Someone like you would have a friend named Ratty!”  Samson screamed, “What kind of a name is? Babi anyway?”

      “It’s the name of an Egyptian baboon god,” the poor baboon whimpered, “me, Ratty and I, we came into this house through an open door, and, and, Ratty’s not a rat, she’s a ratel!  A honey badger!”

        “Oh shit,” Samson groaned.

        “We wont’ are any trouble, I promise!”  Babi wailed, “We will keep out of your way!”

       “How did a baboon and a ratel come to be within the wood, let alone the house?”  Samson asked.

        “Panja told us of this place,” The baboon gabbled, “he attacked me and Ratty, and, and we held him hostage until, until he, he told us of this place!”

      “Panja, I’ll kill him!”  Samson growled.

       “Ratty and I, we just want a home, we won’t harm anyone!”

        “Babi, you are a baboon, the Bain of the lives of lions,” Samson snarled, “You will keep your hands off our cubs and adults.  Babi nodded:

      “I will, I will!”  He exclaimed.  Samson looked the baboon over from nose to the soles of his feet.  He knew this was a primate, and the closest creatures in intelligence and dexterity in the community he knew to rival the baboon were the bears.  Samson saw the way Baby’s hands gripped his paw.  The baboon’s strong fingers gripping his toes with strength.

        “Where have you come from?”  Samson asked.  Babi was about to answer when Nuru padded into the kitchen.  The huge lion looked at the Baboon, ran to him, and almost swept him up in his paws.

       “Hello Nuru,” Babi said, Samson confused and becoming angry.

       “You know each other?”  He asked.

      “Yes, Baby’s from the safari park I once existed in, and so is his friend Ratty.”

       “So you two came into the wood, then Panja attacked you, you held him hostage until he told you of this place?”  Samson asked.

     “Yes, look, I’m sorry!”  Babi protested, “I’ll go, and so will my ratel friend.”

      “No,” Samson growled, “You won’t go, Panja will, the stupid snow leopard should know better than to attack wandering creatures!  Inform security yes, but not attack.  What did he do to you?”  Babi held his hands up, the palms deeply bitten and scratched and nails broken.  He then showed Samson his right hind foot, the lion seeing deep puncture wounds on the sole and toes of the baboon’s foot where Panja’s claws and teeth had scratched and bitten him.

        “Let me investigate this,” Samson said, “Nuru, go get Panja!”  Babi looked scared:

       “How will you investigate the fight?”  The baboon asked.

       “We’ll check to see if our cameras saw anything first,” Samson said, “then, if not, we’ll get Panja to show us his claws and teeth.  We can match up the potential bite of Panja’s teeth to the wounds on your fore and hind paws Babi.”

      “Fore and hind paws?”  He asked, “Is that what you call them?  Samson, I know them as my hands and feet.  My forepaws are my hands, and my hind paws my feet.  You have fore and hind paws, but we primates don’t, well not like you do.  Ratty has fore and hind paws too, and she gets confused with it all.”  Samson picked up the kitchen phone and had Kodiak check the backup discs for any activity in the wood.  He saw everything.  Samson asked him to relay everything to his lie up, and motioned to Babi to follow him.  The baboon limped along, his fresh injuries giving him hell.

      “Get on my back,” Samson said quickly, wondering how on earth he’d come to giving a baboon a ride.  Babi clambered aboard, trying not to dig his fingers and toes too hard into Samson’s fur.  Samson padded to his lie up, and lay down, the baboon sliding off his back and flopping onto the rug.  Samson quickly viewed Panja’s attack on Babi and the ratel who the baboon called Ratty.  Samson was determined to think of another name for the ratel, from what he was viewing on the screen, he thought torus might be a good nick name for the honey badger, as she went at Panja like a bull in a china shop.  Indeed, it was only when Babi, bitten and bleeding, had tied Panja’s paws together that the badger gave up biting and clawing at him.  Panja came in looking very shame faced, plain to all he’d just been released from Baby’s trap in the wood.  Panja spat at Babi and was thrown to the rug.  Kamchatka and Nanuq tied Panja’s paws, Samson turning to the snow leopard.

      “I understand by your reaction to Babi that you’ve met him before Panja.  Panja spat at Samson.

        “Just piss off and leave me alone!”  The snow leopard snarled.

       “Now now, come, we don’t need that kind of talk,” Samson said, sounding like anyone’s favourite uncle, “all I want to do is to confirm where Babi got his injuries.  Panja, extend your claws, please.”  Panja knew Samson could do things that would make him comply, so he did not resist.  Babi got himself into a position where Samson and fleur, who’d padded in on hearing of a medical case, could see the soles of both his feet.  Fleur made the connection instantly between the marks on the soles of the baboon’s feet and Panja’s claws.  The marks on the baboon’s hands were from the leopard’s teeth and claws.  Panja swore viciously.

       “He attacked us!”  Ratty yelled.  Kamchatka looked at the honey badger.

        “She looks mean,” the bear thought.

       “We can see he attacked you,” fleur said gently, “now it’s time for us to get, um, Babi is it?  Treated.”  Ratty ran after Brunetta and Kamchatka as they carried the baboon into the bathroom.

     “Wait for me!”  The ratel yelled, her paws skidding on the tiles of the passage.  Falling over her own paws in her haste to follow her friend, the honey badger ended up rolling most of the way, to Samson and Nuru’s huge amusement.  Nanuq looked down at Panja pinned beneath his right forepaw.

       “Tear him apart,” Samson said, “I don’t want him here any more Nanuq.”  Nanuq gripped Panja’s head in his forepaws, brought a hind paw forward to place on the leopard’s body, and broke Panja’s neck.  With that, Nanuq slung the dead snow leopard over his shoulder and walked out of the lie up to bury his remains.

      “So much death,” Kamchatka remarked as she padded back into the lie up from delivering Babi to the bathroom.

         “I’m sorry,” Samson mewed, “really I am Kamchatka, but we can’t have Panja doing things like what he did to the baboon and ratel.  They did him no wrong, just asked him if he knew where they could sleep in safety.  Instead of answering their question, he attacked them.  That’s not on now is it.”  The bear agreed.

 

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Ratty ratel was looking rather rattled.  She’d never seen bears working for the good of baboons before, and there had been two carrying Babi and now just the one, a huge brown sow bear, who was busy tending to his wounds with gentle care.  The ratel, whose real name was Nyegere, looked at Babi’s face as the baboon’s wounds were treated.  The bear began to stroke the sole and toes of Babi’s right foot, the baboon relaxing into the water.  Nyegere wanted a paw massage too, and told Fleur as much.  Fleur grinned and helped the honey badger into the water, beginning to massage Nyegere’s paws.  Laughter from the baboon told Nyegere that the bear had begun to tickle Babi’s toes.  After both Baboon and honey badger had been washed from nose to tail, the two friends splashing from the water with fleur and Brunetta, the Ratel and baboon quickly dried by Brunetta and Nanuq.  Nyegere realised the brown and polar bears were mated, and the realisation made her smile.

        “This is a very strange community,” Nyegere said to Babi as they were led down the passage from the bathroom to a place where they could get food.  Babi, having entered the house from an open door had explored a little, so knew the ground floor quite well.  He was sure the security team had left the door open on purpose, for all he’d had to do was open it and he was in.  Nyegere had followed soon after, hiding away while Babi loitered in plain view eating his sweet corn and waiting to be discovered by whoever came near.

 

The truth was, Allie had been watching the goings on in the wood, and had left the door open for Babi and Nyegere and noone else.  Once the two were inside, Allie had locked the door and noone unknown to the community had been allowed in.

 

Babi and Nyegere were fed and settled in their own lie up next to Nuru and Androcles den.  Babi and Nyegere settling down comfortably.  It was then that a huge bear came padding into the lie up with something in her paw.  It was a jar full of a cloudy substance.  Opening the jar, she left it on the rug and left.  Nyegere’s nose started twitching.

       “I think this is a treat for us,” she said.  Babi sniffed at the jar, and then grinned at the honey badger.

       “Just don’t eat it all at once, leave me some,” he said.  Nyegere touched the jar with her nose, it was slightly chilled, the contents slightly hardened.  Dipping her paw into the jar, she scooped up a paw full of her favourite food.  Samson, watching on the screen in his lie up, grinned as he saw the badger getting into the jar of honey Kamchatka had provided.  Samson had never seen, or even heard of a honey badger, but Kamchatka had given him a quick rundown on them while digging out a jar of honey from the food stores.

 

Babi and Negara finished off the honey then settled down to rest.  Negara looked up at a screen on the wall, the screen showing images of Kamchatka’s lie up, where the grizzly bear was in a world of her own, holding her right hind paw in her right fore while massaging her toes with her left fore.  Nyegere nudged Babi.

      “|Look at her,” the honey badger said, waving her paw at the image of the grizzly bear.

       “She looks at peace,” Babi said.

      “But what is she doing to her right hind paw?”  Nyegere asked.

      “Massaging the sole of her paw and playing with her toes,” the baboon said, “bears like doing that, in fact I used to play with my toes when I was young.  Now here’s a secret, I sometimes still do what Kamchatka’s doing there.  I reach for one of my feet with my hands and pick it up, hold my foot with one hand and play with my toes with the other.  It feels good, that’s why I do it, and probably why the bear does it too.  I’ll bet other bears play with her paws and she plays with theirs, its bonding you know.  I’ll watch out on the screen for the bears playing with each other’s paws, but I think it goes on here more than we’ve seen.”

 

Nyegere and Babi settled down quickly, the other community members accepting their presence without much comment.

 

Kamchatka and her lion family settled down after the run in with Bruin, Kamchatka returning to the lie up after carrying the baboon to the bathroom.  When she entered the lie up, Petra had to gently pin the cubs under her paws to make sure they didn’t ambush her until she had sat or lain down.  After drinking deeply from a bowl of water Petra had ready for her, Kamchatka lay down finally, Petra releasing the cubs who pounced on Kamchatka, the bear letting them clamber all over her.  Lying placidly on the rug, Kamchatka felt the cub’s tiny paws on her fur, their toes gripping for purchase, something she didn’t mind in the least.  Kamchatka gently rolled onto her side, the cubs tumbling off her back and landing on the rug.  Kamchatka rolled onto her chest once more and awaited developments.  Crawling to Kamchatka’s head, the cubs held their paws close to Kamchatka’s face, feeling her breath warming their pads.  Little Elsa put her paw over Kamchatka’s mouth, the bear suddenly opening her jaws and taking the cub’s paw between her teeth.  Elsa squealed with fright and was about to pull away when Kamchatka’s paws wrapped themselves around her.  Elsa knew then not to move.  Kamchatka released Elsa’s paw and kissed her pads.

       “Don’t put your paw near a bear’s mouth Elsa dear,” Kamchatka said, kissing the female lion cub’s nose.  Elsa knew her actions were stupid.

      “Play with my paws, but don’t put your paw over my mouth,” Kamchatka said gently.”  Little Elsa took her advice and played with her left forepaw.  Kamchatka smiled as little Theo took hold of her right hind paw and began to explore her pads and play with her toes.  Kamchatka played with the two cubs by wiggling the toes of the paws they held, plus curling her toes when their tiny toes were touching the sole pads of her paws, the cubs laughing at her antics.  Older Leo looked at Petra.

       “Playing with the paws of a grizzly bear no longer seems strange to me,” he said.  Petra smiled:

      “It’s lovely,” she replied, “and even better when Kamchatka plays with your paws.”  Leo grinned as Petra took his paw in hers and began to play with his toes.

       “I love that,” Leo mewed, kissing Petra’s nose.

 

Kamchatka played with the cubs while lying quietly, her large paws playing with the tiny paws of the two cubs.  Little Theo, cradling the bear’s right hind paw in his left fore, gently stroked the toes of his right forepaw down her large sole pad.  Kamchatka smiled broadly as his massage sparked pleasure in her.  Little Elsa backed away, releasing Kamchatka’s right forepaw, Theo letting Kamchatka roll onto her back and sit up, gently holding the bear’s right hind paw at all times, feeling it turn in his paws.  Kamchatka pulled her right hind paw towards her, the white cub crawling after the withdrawing paw, until Kamchatka’s forepaws wrapped around him.  Theo wriggled with pleasure holding tighter onto her paw.  Kamchatka gently wiggled her toes until Theo lost his grip, the cub mewing in protest, then she lifted him up to her eye level and kissed his nose.  Theo pedalled the air with his paws, his toes scrabbling at the bear’s belly as she held him close.  Theo curled his toes into her thick warm fur, pressing his pads against her belly.  Kamchatka smiled and held him closer, pressing his paws hard against her belly, holding him in her forepaws with firm but gentle pressure.

        “You are so gentle Kamchatka,” Theo mewed.  The bear bent her head and blew on the toes of Theo’s hind paws, the lion cub laughing and releasing his hold on her belly fur, the bear placing the cub on the rug and rolling him onto his back.  Taking hold of one of his hind paws, Kamchatka blew on the sole of Theo’s paw, her breath playing over the cub’s pads and toes, Theo shrieking with laughter.

       “I wish I was as big as you and you were a cub, then I could get you back!”  Theo yelled.  Kamchatka smiled, lay down on her back, and said:

     “Come on both of you, get hold of my hind paws and blow on my pads if you want,” Little Elsa and Theo did just that, Theo letting little Elsa control Kamchatka’s right hind paw, and when she had as firmer hold of it as her tiny paws could get, Theo blew on the bear’s sole pad and toes, Kamchatka laughing merrily.

       “You two are so funny!”  The bear laughed.

 

Meanwhile, in Nuru and Androcles lie up, Younger Tess was playing with Androcles, the lion’s massive paws giving the young ligeress a good target to tickle and play with.  Androcles loved it when anyone played with his paws, for he was as tactile as they were, enjoying lots of paw contact.  Younger Tess tickled Androcles fore and hind paws in turn, the lion squirming and rolling about, the ligeress not letting his paws out of her reach.  Snarling and growling in mock anger, Androcles crawled and rolled attempting to get away, but the ligeress had him pinned down, and would not leave his paws alone, much to Androcles delight of course.  Once she’d thoroughly tickled, stroked and explored his paws twice over, it was Androcles turn to play with younger Tess’s paws.  This game was not so much a game of chase as before, for Androcles encouraged rough and tumble games, but the ligeress made sure her paws were always accessible to the lion, not quite trying hard enough to keep them out of his reach.  Androcles ended the game by stroking younger Tess’s fore and hind paws, his toes working over the soles and pads of her paws.  Younger Tess loved this, and often curled her toes round the lion’s, holding them tightly against her paw pads, pressing his pads hard against hers, the lion often helping by putting pressure on his trapped paw and moving the heel of his paw in circles, massaging her pads.  Younger Tess loved all this, mewing and purring with pleasure.

        “Your paws feel lovely pressed against mine,” the ligeress mewed.  Androcles smiled and kissed the toes of the ligeress’s forepaw holding his forepaw.

      “I love the feel of your paw pads under my paw,” Androcles mewed, kissing Tess’s nose.  Younger Tess smiled, for she could see the cub in Androcles, even though he was much older than she.

        “If I let go of your paw, would you take the toes of my paw in yours?”  Tess asked.  Androcles smiled:

       “Try and stop me,” he mewed.  The ligeress released the lion’s paw and Androcles curled his toes round Tess’s hind paw.

      “Hold my toes tightly, go on, please!”  Tess mewed.  Androcles did as she asked, and the ligeress pressed her paw hard against his.

       “I would like more of this, much more of this paw play!”  Tess mewed.  Androcles was up for that, and he thought Tess already knew it.  Androcles kissed younger Tess’s nose, then the pads of her fore and hind paws, finishing off with the paw he held in his.  He gently released his hold, the ligeress mewing in distress, as if his paw was her lifeline.  Once her toes were free, Androcles removed his paw by sliding it backwards, his toes running over younger Tess’s toe pads and the pads on the sole of her paw right to her heel pad.  The ligeress smiled and relaxed as Androcles kissed the toes and pads of her right hind paw which had been covered by his left fore.

        “I want, no, more like  need paw contact Androcles,” younger Tess said, “it’s like a drug, I had it, then I wanted more, but now I need it so much!”

      “An addiction to paw contact never endangered anyone to my knowledge,” Androcles replied, “so you can have all you want dear Tess.”  The ligeress smiled broadly.

       “What of your feelings in all this?”  She asked.

       “Follow your paws my dear,” Androcles replied, “they’ll tell you my feelings on the matter.”

       “Yes,” Tess said, gently touching the toes of his left forepaw with her right fore, then kissing the furry top of his left forepaw.  Androcles returned the kiss to the toes of her right forepaw, the ligeress sighing with pleasure.

       “I feel so happy, so secure,” younger Tess said, “my small rather thin paws like your large soft paws holding them.”  Androcles smiled:

        “Your paws will guide you Tess dear,” he mewed.  Younger Tess, now a year old, smiled at Androcles.

         “We can play like cubs,” she said.  Androcles grinned.

        “I never had much of cubhood,” he said, “so yes, we can play like cubs.  Stroking paws, tickling pads and toes all that.  Rolling on the rugs, fighting to get at each other’s paws sounds the most wonderful pass time in the world.”  Younger Tess grinned:

       “It is,” she replied.  Androcles drew Younger Tess close, really close, and the ligeress cuddled up to him, pressing her body against his, gripping his left forepaw in her right fore with desperate strength.

         “I’m so excited I don’t know what to do!”  Tess said.  Androcles smiled and waved his free paw.

      “How does tickling each of my paws and playing with my toes sound?”  He asked.  Younger Tess looked at the paws under discussion:

      “They look ticklable,” she said, “and feel Strokable too,” Androcles grinned and kissed her nose:

      “How about it Tess?”  He asked, “Are you scared of my paws?”  Tess kissed Androcles left forepaw which she held in her own right fore.

        “Hi you two,” Nuru said padding into the room.  Tess looked up at her sire.

         “Hi Nuru,” she said, “Androcles and I were just playing, just playing.”  Nuru had seen everything and understood the play for what it was.

         “I’d recommend trying paw massage in the bathtub next time,” he mewed.  Tess was embarrassed.

        “I know Androcles is older than me Nuru,” she said, “but his paws feel so lovely when our pads touch.  I’m addicted; I can’t get enough of it!”

       “It’s no issue,” Nuru said, “age doesn’t matter.  Androcles is a big cub really.  Touch his paw and you find a cub inside the body of a half grown lion.  Androcles would love nothing more than to roll onto his back and wave his big fat paws in the air.”  Androcles smiled and hid his eyes behind a massive forepaw.

        “Don’t hide away,” Nuru said, going to Androcles, grabbing his paw and pulling it down to the carpet, “show us Androcles, come on!”  So the lion did.  Smiling, he rolled onto his back and waved his paws in the air, Nuru and Younger Tess smiling highly amused.

       “Go for it Androcles, kick the air with those paws!”  Younger Tess mewed.  Androcles smiled and increased the pace; putting his soul into thrashing the air with his large well padded paws.  Within five minutes the lion was exhausted.

      “Can’t thrash the air any more,” he gasped, “I can massage your paws forever Tess.”  Nuru smiled at Androcles and took hold of his right hind paw, tickling his pads and toes, Androcles laughing helplessly.

 

Meanwhile, back in Petra and Leo’s lie up, Kamchatka was getting her paws thoroughly tickled and stroked by two lion cubs and their parents.  The bear loved everything about the lions, and her paws were theirs to do with what they wished as far as she was concerned.  Now though, she wanted a change of scene, so withdrawing her paws from reach, Kamchatka got to her paws, thoroughly bored with the thought of walking on them that seemed so mundane after what she’d been using her paws for recently.  Kamchatka padded from the lie up, the adult lions picking up a cub each and following.  Kamchatka led them to the pool complex where she slipped into the water and swam a length of the rectangular main pool.  Scrambling out, she padded damply to Leo’s side and placed a wet paw on his nose, the lion snorting with surprise and placing Theo on the tiles before Kamchatka did something like push him into the water.  Kamchatka grinned at the lion, Leo returning her smile.

       “Let’s get these cub’s paws wet.”  She said.  Theo, now nearly two weeks old, crawled towards the sound of the water.  Before Petra knew what he was doing, he’d fallen in the water!  Kamchatka calmly reached in with a paw as Petra went crazy!

      “Theo can’t swim!”  She screamed.  Kamchatka fished Theo out of the water, the cub coughing and mewing about something to do with his eyes hurting.  Kamchatka rolled onto her back and held the white cub in her paws until he’d calmed down a little.

       “Your eyes have just opened for the first time,” Kamchatka said to the lion cub, who’d tightly shut his eyes, “Open your eyes again Theo,” Theo did, and saw Kamchatka for the first time.  She was enormous!  Her paws were huge!  Everything about her was super sized!  Theo looked round; to see his mum, the white lioness screaming about him getting wet must be his mum.  Theo could hardly believe his eyes; she looked so big, as did older Leo.  The cub knew he was small, as everyone else, excluding Elsa, was so big!  Theo looked down at his paws, they were tiny.  Wriggling frantically, Theo was put down on the floor.  Crawling too little Elsa who’d been dropped unceremoniously by Petra, he dragged her towards the water, pushed her in and ducked her, much to the cub’s disgust.  Coughing and mewing, Elsa, screaming about her eyes, was fished out of the water by Kamchatka.  Soon Elsa and little Theo were on dry land, staring at each other.  Little Elsa reached forward and touched Theo’s paw.

       “Everything’s so strange,” she said.  Little Theo hugged her hard.

       “We’re safe here,” he mewed.  Kamchatka looked at the two cubs.

       “I’m going to the slide, anyone joining me?”  The two cubs crawled quickly after their ursine friend, Scared, Petra ran after them.

      “You’re too small to be riding the slide!”  She yelled.  Kamchatka turned at the top of the slide and waved her paw at Petra to stop her.

       “I’ll carry one cub at a time,” she said, “they can ride with me, or, or you can use a raft.  Petra had forgotten about the rafts.  Dragging one out, she sat Theo in the raft in front of her, Kamchatka pushing the inflatable raft to the top of the slide and holding it there while they waited for the green light.  The light went green, and Kamchatka let the raft go down the open slide.  Little Elsa watched the white lions disappear, and then looked at Kamchatka.

       “So we go down the other one?”  She asked.  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.  Sitting down in the flowing water at the top of the slide, Kamchatka motioned to little Elsa to join her, just as older Leo arrived.

       “You’re taking her down, good,” he mewed.  Kamchatka smiled and held Elsa tightly in her forepaws, leaning back and letting the water take her.  The bear and lion cub shot down the slide and were stopped by the water break.

 

Petra and her cub fell out of the raft as it hit the water, Petra letting Theo clamber onto her back and swimming to the pool’s edge.

      “That was wonderful!”  Theo mewed.

      “Hang on tight,” Petra replied, as she scrambled from the water.  Kamchatka and little Elsa scrambled from the water soon after, and Kamchatka dragged the raft from the water.  The bear looked at the lions.

       “I don’t know about you,” she said, “but I’m going for a shower.”  Petra, seeing the mystification on the faces of the two cubs, led them after Kamchatka, the bear leading them to the shower room.  Once in there, Kamchatka stood beneath the shower, the water soaking her back and running down her legs.  Kamchatka soaked herself, rolling onto her back to wet her belly and the soles of her paws.

       “You cubs would find this a lot easier than having a bath,” Kamchatka said.  Putting a paw up to a nozzle on the wall, Kamchatka got some shampoo and began rubbing it all over her fur, from her face to the soles of her paws, the cubs watching her.

        “That looks nice,” Elsa remarked to Theo.  The cub nodded and smiled:

       “I’d do anything to get the horrid smell of whatever they use in the pool off my fur,” he mewed, “it smells disgusting!”

       “That’s chlorine,” Petra mewed, “it smells horrible, but keeps the water clean.”  Kamchatka rinsed the soap off and then helped the cubs to get into the shower and wash their fur and paws, much to Elsa and Theo’s delight.

       “Would you wash me too?”  Petra asked, only half joking.  Kamchatka grinned and told the cubs to stand outside the range of the shower while she got to work on Petra.  The lioness let Kamchatka do what she wanted with her, the bear gentle in her ministrations.  First Kamchatka rolled Petra onto her back, the working her paws over the white lioness’s belly and paws, making sure the shower soaked her from nose to tail.  Petra loved the touch of Kamchatka’s paws on her own paws, and had to stop herself from curling her toes round the bear’s as they came within range.  Kamchatka rubbed shampoo into Petra’s fur, massaging it deeply into the lioness’s belly fur.  She then rubbed it into Petra’s paws, between her pads and toes and over the furred tops of her paws, the water tickling the lioness as it ran down her legs.  Kamchatka then rubbed the shampoo down Petra’s legs.  This done, Petra got to her paws, the bear attending to her back and head.  Kamchatka asked Petra to close her eyes, and then rubbed shampoo into her facial fur, rinsing it off quickly.  Then it was time for neck and back fur to get the same treatment.  Once Petra was cleaner than the day she’d been born, Kamchatka let her go.

      Petra?”  She asked the lioness not moving.

       “Oh, um, Kamchatka!”  Petra exclaimed.

       “You were in another world,” the bear said, kissing the lioness’s wet nose.

      “I, I’m sorry,” Petra stammered, “I suppose, well, I suppose I was in another world, oh, oh dear.”  The bear hugged the lioness with tenderness which was plain for the cubs to see.

        “She really loves us you know Elsa,” Theo mewed.  Elsa smiled.

        “There you are,” older Leo said, padding into the shower room.  Kamchatka smiled and released Petra.

       “Do you want a wash too?”  The bear asked.

        “Um, okay,” Leo replied, uncertain what would happen if he refused.  Once Kamchatka got to work on his fur, Older Leo forgot all about his hesitation.  This felt wonderful!  Petra smiled as she watched her mate getting the treatment she’d just had, and knew what he must be feeling at every step.  Older Leo mewed and purred with pleasure, just as Petra had, though she couldn’t remember much other than a time of pure extract which like paw massage, was mostly due to the commitment of the masseur as to whether Petra had a good time or not.  Petra’s paws still tingled from the attention they’d received, and Petra knew she’d remember this day for a long time.  Soon Leo was standing beside her, dripping water.  The lion looked sadly at Kamchatka as she hosed down the shower.

        “Why the long face?”  Petra asked.  Leo looked at her.

       “That was amazing!”  The lion mewed, “I’m just sad it’s all finished.”  Petra grinned and hugged him.  Kamchatka led the group to the drying room where they all stood for a while, the cubs laughing as their paws were tickled by the warm air circulating round the room.  Once they were all dry, Petra led them back to her lie up, where Kamchatka moved to get the lion’s their food, when older Leo stopped her.

      “You’ve done enough here,” he mewed, “come, lie down, we’ll ask Brunetta to get us some food.”  Brunetta was contacted and soon arrived with food.  Grinning at Kamchatka, Brunetta set down the grizzly bear’s food, and Kamchatka motioned to her to stay a while once she’d sorted the lions.  Brunetta sat down, and the two bears shared the food.  Once they’d finished, Kamchatka hugged Brunetta, who’d been working with fleur all that day on pool patrol.  Brunetta was ready to drop.  Kamchatka’s warm paws enfolding her made Brunetta want to sleep long and deeply.  Kamchatka smiled as Brunetta snuggled up to her.

       “Sleep for a while,” Kamchatka suggested gently, her forepaws drawing Brunetta closer into a huge warm bear hug.  Brunetta cuddled up closer to the furry grizzly bear who had more fur than she did, warm, soft fur.  Brunetta felt her eyes closing, her paws becoming warmer and warmer and her whole body relaxing.  Kamchatka lay down on her side, Brunetta going with her, the grizzly bear embracing the brown bear with tender paws.  Brunetta snuggled close to Kamchatka, letting the grizzly bear hug her tightly.

 

The bears slept late into the next morning, not rising until lunchtime.  Padding out of the lie up, Kamchatka and Brunetta nearly tripped over Little Clarence and Elsa, who were playing in the passage.  Kamchatka, seeing Clarence had his eyes open now, held up a massive paw and barked:

      “Stop!”  Elsa screamed with fear!

        “We’re sorry!”  Clarence mewed, trying to run away.  Kamchatka circled round, drawing the two cubs towards her.

       “You’re sorry for what?”  The bear asked.  Clarence, seeing the bear’s angry eyes, shivered with fear.

       “Sorry, sorry for playing in the passage!”  Elsa mewed.

        “You know that’s not allowed!”  Kamchatka growled.  Clarence squirmed with shame.

       “We’ll go,” he mewed, “we’ll leave here now and play in my lie up!”  Kamchatka let the cubs go, and they fled as if their paws were on fire.

       “Fleur and Leo tell those two time and time again not to play in the passages and they’re always at it,” Brunetta confirmed.  Kamchatka grinned at her.

       “There’s nothing scarier than an angry grizzly bear,” she said, her eyes shining.  Clarence ran into his lie up, burying his head in Fleur’s shoulder and crying.

       “What’s the matter?”  Fleur asked.  Clarence told her everything.

      “I told you not to play in the passages,” fleur mewed, “Kamchatka was right to get angry with you.  It’s all over now I’ll bet.”  Clarence sniffed and wiped his eyes with his paw.

        “She was angry, really angry!”  He whimpered.  Fleur nodded, for she’d seen everything on the screen on the wall of the lie up.  Kamchatka had seemed angrier than she actually was all sound and not much fury.

      “She’s forgotten it now,” fleur said gently, “but remember her warning, don’t play in the passages.”  Clarence promised her he’d never forget that.  Little Elsa cuddled up to fleur, the cross bred cat touching the female lion cub’s paw with hers.  Fleur looked down at Elsa, loving her.  Clarence looked at the sole of Fleur’s left hind paw, for his mum was lying on her side and he could just see it.  The mud brown fur between her pads had spots on it.  Fleur seeing him looking curled the toes of that paw making the spots vanish in furrowed black pads.  Clarence grinned hugely.

      “I love your paws mum,” he mewed,” fleur smiling at her cub.

        “Maybe you can teach me to love them too,” she thought.  Clarence saw the expression on his mum’s face change from amusement at his interest in her paw to sudden sadness.

       “What’s up mum?”  Clarence asked.  Fleur swallowed hard.

        “Nothing.”  She mewed.  Clarence touched the pads of his mum’s left hind paw, Fleur relaxing her toes to let her cub touch them.  Once his toes were in contact with hers, she curled them again, holding Clarence’s paw tight against her own.

       “Soppy mum,” Clarence mewed.  Fleur smiled sadly.

       “I don’t really like my paws,” she said.  Clarence smiled at her.

       “Your paws are beautiful mum,” he mewed.  Fleur increased her grip on his paw, Clarence smiling broadly.

      “I like that,” Clarence said gently kissing Fleur’s toes as they held tightly onto his.  Fleur smiled and released her cub’s paw.

        “You two are so funny!”  Elsa mewed.  Clarence kissed his mum’s nose, fleur feeling her cub’s love for her.  Samson padded into the lie up, Elsa turning and looking at him.  Samson’s long flowing mane covered his eyes and hung down over his neck.  Smiling at the large lion, Elsa padded up to him and touched his paw with hers.  Samson looked down at the cub’s paw on his, noticing how small her paw was compared to his.  Samson leant down and kissed Elsa’s paw, the female lion cub smiling at her leader.

       “Clarence and little Theo are wonderful to me Samson,” Elsa mewed. Samson smiled:

       “They are wonderful,” he mewed, his eyes shining with pleasure at her words.

 

Meanwhile Arki and younger Arki played together in Arki’s lie up.  The two polar bears rolled about on the floor tickling each other’s paws with enthusiasm and huge enjoyment.  Younger Arki loved having her paws touched and tickled, her older namesake only too glad to indulge her.  Younger Arki loved massaging and playing with older Arki’s paws, the older polar bear enjoying younger Arki’s attention as much as the younger bear enjoyed hers.  Arki and younger Arki crawled round the lie up, each trying to tickle the other’s hind paws, both enjoying the game.  Then they sat down and each played the trapped paw game, each pretending their left forepaw was trapped by the toes of their right hind paw.  Arki and younger Arki encouraged each other to pull their forepaws free of their suddenly grasping hind paws.  Finding, they could not free their forepaws, each shuffled over to the other and used their free forepaw to stroke the pads of the hind paw trapping their forepaws, wrung was the objective all along.  Laughing merrily, the bears finished their games and put their paws to their proper and, as far as they were concerned, more mundane use, padding to Samson’s lie up.  The bears playfully rolled Samson over and tickled his paws, the lion roaring with laughter.  Once Samson regained control of his own paws, fleur and he got the bears back by tickling their paws until they were as exhausted as Samson had been.  Arki and younger Arki let Samson stroke and tickle their paws as much as he wanted, most of which time he spent stroking and massaging their pads and toes, much to the delight of the two BEARS.

 

Fleur and Samson’s cubs watched all laughing at the antics of the bears and lion.

      “Samson wants to be a bear,” Clarence mewed.  Fleur smiled and nodded.

       “I think he does,” she replied.  Samson hugged each of the bears and returned to his family.  Arki got to her paws and danced a little on her toes, much to the delight of Clarence, Elsa and little Theo, who’d crawled in shortly after Samson had been flipped onto his back by the polar bears.  Theo crawled to Samson and took his sire’s huge left forepaw in his tiny ones.  Samson looked down at his son cub feeling a rush of emotion which he expressed by kissing Theo’s nose.  Theo smiled and nuzzled Samson’s whiskers.  Samson lies down and let Theo clamber onto his back, carrying him out of the lie up.  Samson carried Theo to Nuru’s lie up where Androcles was playing with Younger Tess and Younger Leo, the two younger cubs using their adopted brother as a climbing frame, much to Androcles obvious delight.  Androcles saw Theo and Samson and shook his brother and insister off him, getting to his paws to greet his leader and pride leader’s cub.

       “No need to get to your paws Androcles,” Samson mewed, “I’m not worth you stopping your play.”  Androcles looked uneasily at Samson.

      “But how do I show respect to you then?”  He asked.

        “You show me respect by treating me like any other lion,” Samson mewed, “you didn’t see what Arki and younger Arki did to me did you?”  The long manned lion asked.  Androcles grinned:

     “Picked you up and flipped you onto your back before tickling your paws?”  He asked.  Samson nodded.

       “I saw that,” Androcles replied, “and there was only one reason why they could do what they did.  They knew you trusted them and they could trust and rely on you.  They respect your position as leader, but also knew you wanted to play, so they played with you.”  Samson smiled.

       “I loved having my paws tickled by them,” he mewed.

 

Meanwhile, Kamchatka sat in Petra and Leo’s lie up, relaxing after preparing the day’s food.  Petra smiled as she watched Kamchatka playing with her right hind paw, holding it in her right fore and stroking her pads with her left fore.  Petra watched how the bear’s toes curled slightly her pads bunching as she massaged the sole of her paw.

      “What got you into playing with your hind paws?”  Petra asked.

       “I don’t know,” Kamchatka replied, “I suppose I learned as a cub to examine my paws for thorns and damage, from there I found the experience pleasurable and extended examination of my paws to playing with my toes and stroking my pads.  Now I’m addicted to it.”  Petra grinned:

       “You and Brunetta would be a real couple then,” she mewed, “Brunetta’s as mad on paw play as you are.”  Kamchatka grinned.

       “I know,” she replied, “Brunetta and I have played with each other’s paws quite a bit.  We love it.  I’ve even played with Roxanne’s paws and she with mine, though her forepaws are so tiny she can’t hold my hind paws that well. She enjoys playing with my hind paws and me playing with her hind paws too.  It’s harmless fun really.”  Petra smiled, for she knew how much the bears enjoyed playing with each other’s paws.

 

Meanwhile, Allie sat in her lie up playing with her own hind paws, contractions had suddenly started earlier that day and now she was in real discomfort.  Determined to have her cub unaided, she fought to control her breathing and concentrate on playing with her toes and stroking the pads of her hind paws.  She coped well until a particularly fierce contraction gripped her and she squeezed her right hind paw with forepaws, groaning and panting with pain.  Crawling from her lie up, she made her way to the nearest lie up, unable to walk due to increasing contractions.  Crawling into Petra’s lie up, Allie saw Kamchatka and Petra sitting together.  Kamchatka looked at the labouring polar bear and went to her, embracing her tenderly.

       “Your cub’s on its way I see,” Kamchatka said gently.  Allie moaned and gripped Kamchatka’s right forepaw with desperate strength!

       “It started suddenly, so suddenly!”  Allie panted.  Kamchatka let Allie hug her, letting her crush her in a huge bear hug as a contraction tore through her.

      Ahrhrhrhooahahah!”  Allie whimpered, curling the toes of all four paws and clenching her teeth.

       “Do you want me to massage your hind paws?”  Kamchatka asked.  Allie growled with discomfort and then released Kamchatka, sitting back and thrusting her right hind paw towards the grizzly bear, who sat down opposite Allie and took the polar bear’s hind paw in both her forepaws, resting the heel of Allie’s right hind paw on her own left hind leg before beginning to play with the polar bear’s toes and stroke the pads on the sole of her paw.  Allie tried to help herself by playing with the toes of her left hind paw, panting and squealing with pain and effort.

      “keep playing with your left hind paw Allie,”  Kamchatka advised, the polar bear picking up her left hind paw in her left fore, before frantically playing with the toes of that paw using those of her right fore, massaging her pads and playing with her toes during the lull in contractions.  During the contractions themselves, Allie moaned and grunted, pressing her right hind paw into Kamchatka’s forepaws with all her strength while wriggling and bouncing on her backside.

         “I need to push!  Want to push!  Must push!”  Allie screamed, screwing up her face, curling her toes and straining hard.  Kamchatka calmly massaged the pads and played with the toes of Allie’s right hind paw throughout all this, feeling the polar bear’s toes curling and pads bunching beneath her own toes.

      “You’re doing well Allie,” Kamchatka said gently.  Allie puffed and blew through her nose as she came down from contractions, her teeth clenched and forepaws scrabbling at the pads and toes of her left hind paw, all four paws now slippery with sweat.  Allie screamed in rage as her forepaws slipped on the pads of her left hind, panting and yelling with anger before gripping her left hind paw with renewed purpose.  Hours passed, and then there was a change in Allie’s attitude.  Bouncing on her backside, Allie tore her right hind paw from Kamchatka’s grip and leant back against the wall of the lie up.  Allie braced her hind paws against Kamchatka’s and bore down hard against her cub.  Seeing the cub’s head emerging, Kamchatka told Allie to reach down with her forepaws and catch her cub.  Allie reached down between her hind legs and caught the cub’s head in her paws.  From then on, each screaming, groaning, straining effort Allie made was rewarded by the feel of her cub coming into the world.  Kamchatka pressed her hind paws hard against Allie’s, giving the female polar bear a firm foothold on her hind paws, Allie’s toes curled round Kamchatka’s.  The female polar bear bracing her hind paws hard against the grizzly bear’s.  With Kamchatka encouraging Allie to brace her hind paws against hers, Allie pushed and strained a bit more, then, with a yell of triumph, she gave one last tremendous heave, and the cub’s hind paws slid into the world.  Kamchatka immediately took hold of Allie’s right hind paw and began to massage her pads and toes to help her down from her labour.  Allie panted and grunted slightly, her cub cradled in her forepaws and the toes of her right hind pressed into Kamchatka’s forepaws.

       “Massage my hind paw Kamchatka, please!”  Allie panted “that’s it, thanks!”  Kamchatka’s whole world was focused on playing with Allie’s right hind paw.

        “You’ve got a beautiful cub,” Rowena remarked, having padded in and seen the whole thing after Petra had alerted her to Allie’s sudden labour.  Allie smiled and laid the cub aside to hug Kamchatka, who was still playing with her right hind paw.

       “You can let go of my paw now Kamchatka,” Allie said, “thank you for all your help.”  Kamchatka smiled and released the female polar bear’s hind paw.

       “Your cub has large pads on the soles her paws, just like you do,” Kamchatka said, as the cub had rolled onto her back and was waving four large paws in the air, black pads on the soles and toes of all four paws visible to the assembled bears and lions.  Allie smiled and motioned to Kamchatka.

      “Go on Pick my cub up,” she invited.  Kamchatka gently picked Allie’s cub up, the tiny form warm and cuddly.  Kamchatka hugged the cub to her, the cub gripping her fur with its large forepaws.  Kamchatka looked down at the cub and then kissed her nose and the pads of a forepaw the cub lifted to touch the grizzly bear’s nose.

        “Me and your mum love you little one,” Kamchatka said softly.  The cub gripped Kamchatka’s fur harder, lifting herself onto her hind paws, resting her fore on Kamchatka’s chest, pressing her hind into the grizzly bear’s forepaws, grunting with effort, the cub pushed hard against Kamchatka’s forepaws with her smaller hind.

        “Go on little one, push against my paws!”  Kamchatka urged.  The cub grunted, panted and pushed some more.

       “I can guess where she got that from,” Allie said laughing, “you encouraged me to push against your forepaws with my hind during contractions Kamchatka, and the cub is imitating me.”  Kamchatka laughed and gently set the cub down, massaging her hind paws with one forepaw, the cub smiling, now released from her effort.

      “That was fun!”  The cub enthused.  Kamchatka grinned and passed HER to Allie who fed her for the first Time.  THE CUB DRANK HER FILL OF MILK THEN CURLED UP TO SLEEP WITH HER MUM.  Kamchatka got to her paws and left the lie up with Petra and Rowena.

       “Allie came to you when her labour became too much to cope with,” Rowena mewed.

       “Yes, yes she did,” Kamchatka said, wiping her eyes with a paw, for the emotion of the last few hours was getting to her now, “I don’t know if she came to me because she could crawl no further, but she came to me all the same.  I loved helping her Rowena, I really loved helping her.”  Rowena touched the grizzly bear’s paw with hers.

        “You did a wonderful job,” the lioness said, “you were gentle but also encouraging too. Getting Allie to help her as well as you helping her.”  Kamchatka smiled:

      “All the time I spent playing with my own paws was to be put to good use,”  she said, “for I had some idea what would soothe Allie when I played with her paw.”  Rowena smiled.

       “Would you play with my paws sometime?”  The lioness asked.  Kamchatka nodded.

      “When would you like me to?”  She asked.

        “Whenever you feel you want to,” Rowena mewed, “and, well, could I explore your paws?”  Kamchatka looked down at the lioness’s large white paws.

        “I’d enjoy that I think,” the grizzly bear said.  Rowena hugged Kamchatka tenderly.

       “You did very well today,” the lioness said.

       “Agreed,” Allie said, emerging from Petra’s lie up, carrying her cub on her back.  Kamchatka kissed Allie’s nose then returned to her own lie up with Rowena in tow.  Rowena lay down in Kamchatka’s lie up, the bear settling down beside her.

        “My paws are yours Kamchatka,” Rowena said.  Kamchatka knew the lioness wanted to be treated like any other lioness who wanted her paws massaged and played with.  Kamchatka looked into Rowena’s eyes, the lioness realising her dilemma and resolving it by rolling into her back, waving her paws in the air and mewing like a cub.  Kamchatka smiled and caught Rowena’s right forepaw in both of hers, holding it tenderly.  Rowena relaxed completely, letting the bear do what she wanted with her paws... Kamchatka had hardly got on with the massage when Sam burst in.

      “Allie just told me she had her cub!”  He yelled, “Noone bloody came to get me when she went into labour!”

       “She wanted to have the cub alone I think,” Kamchatka replied, “and only came to me when things got too intense for her.”

      2You helped her?”  Sam asked.  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

      “I suppose you could say that,” she replied.  Sam ran to Kamchatka and threw his paws round her, hugging her tightly.

      “Thank you, thank you thank you!”  Sam cried.  Kamchatka smiled at the bear, then rolled him over and tickled his paws, Sam roaring with laughter.

        “Leave my paws alone!”  Sam whimpered theatrically, though it was clear he’d enjoyed Kamchatka’s attention.

       “I understand the cub braced her paws against your forepaws Kamchatka,” he said.  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

      “She heard me encouraging Allie to brace her hind paws against mine while she pushed, and the cub wanted to do the same against my forepaws.”  Sam smiled and sat down opposite Kamchatka pressing his hind paws against hers.  Kamchatka massaged Sam’s hind paws with hers, then took his right hind paw in both of hers and rested the heel of his paw on her left hind leg, massaging and playing with his toes and stroking his pads with her forepaws, Sam enjoying every minute.  Rowena’s eyes shone as she watched the bears, for she loved seeing those playing with each other, and these two were definitely playing together.  Sam suddenly tugged his paw from Kamchatka’s grasp and braced his hind paws hard against hers, both bears pushing against each other’s hind paws with attendant growling and snarling of mock effort and anger.  Then each took one of the other’s hind paws in their forepaws and massaged and tickled their pads and toes.  Kamchatka and Sam laughed helplessly as each tickled the other’s hind paws.  Then they kissed each other’s noses and released each other’s paws.

      “That was wonderful!”  Sam said.  Kamchatka smiled.

       “Go play with your mate and cub now,” she replied.  Sam got to his paws, his face showing boredom at using his paws for their natural purpose.

        “Walking on your paws is boring after that isn’t it,” Kamchatka said.  Sam laughed, danced on his toes, and turned lifting a hind paw for Kamchatka to touch with her forepaw.  Instead, she blew on his pads, Sam giggling cubbishly.

       “He liked that,” Rowena said as Sam’s rear view disappeared down the passage.

        “I know,” Kamchatka replied.

 

Meanwhile, Sam found his way to Allie’s lie up, his right hind paw still tingling from where Kamchatka had blown on his pads.  Entering the lie up, he was abashed by his newborn cub, the tiny creature clambering all over him her paws holding onto his fur with amazing strength.  Sam lies down and let the cub use him as a climbing frame, enjoying himself hugely.  Allie watched her mate and their cub as Sam rolled onto his back, the cub crawling over his belly and touching his paws with hers.  The cub sat down opposite Sam and braced her tiny hind paws against his huge ones.

      “Push against my paws!”  She encouraged, Sam pressed gently against her paws, the cub pressing back with amazing strength for a cub only a few hours old.  Sam felt her pads against his and watched as she put everything she had into pressing back against his paws.  Sam curled his toes and grunted with imagined effort, to the cub’s huge delight.

      “You can’t push back against my paws can you?”  She asked.  Sam suddenly withdrew his paws, the cub crawling after his right hind paw and taking it in her forepaws.

      “I win!  I win!”  She whooped.  Sam lifted the cub up to his eye level the cub letting go of his hind paw.  He then kissed her nose.  Sam’s eyes filled with tears as he gazed at his newborn cub.

     “I name you Alaska,” he whispered.  The cub cuddled up to her sire.

 

Allie smiled at her mate and cub.  She gazed at Sam and Alaska, marvelling at the process that had brought Alaska into the world, all that pain, effort and sweat she’d endured was all worth it.  Allie looked down at her paws, finding she’d taken hold of her right hind paw in her right fore and was playing with her toes with her left forepaw.  Grinning at her innate need for paw play, she massaged the pads of the paw she held, smiling at the sensation massaging her toes produced.  Sam looked at his mate.

         “Lesson one in life,” he said smiling, “how to play with your paws.”  Allie laughed merrily.

      “I’m sure Alaska will learn paw play very soon,” she said.  Younger Arki ran in and stared at Alaska.

       “So you had your cub mum?”  She asked.  Allie grinned hugely.

       “I did,” she replied, “I think it was caught on camera too, so you can see it all.  Younger Arki, your sister’s name is Alaska.”  Younger Arki padded over to Alaska and touched her with her paw.

        “Hi little sister,” Younger Arki said.  Alaska reached out to her older sister with her forepaws, Younger Arki taking the cub’s tiny paws in both of hers.  Alaska had such tiny paws compared to Younger Arki’s that the younger cub’s paws were lost in those of her older sister.

        “Would you hug me?”  Alaska asked younger Arki.  Younger Arki embraced her newborn sister tenderly, the younger cub cuddling close.  Younger Arki found herself rocking Alaska gently in her paws, the younger cub relaxing.

       “Your paws are so tiny Alaska, 2 Younger Arki said.  Alaska smiled at her older sister and slid to the floor, feeling for Arki’s hind paws.  Finding her left hind, Alaska measured her own right hind paw against her older sister’s left hind paw, finding that her toes barely reached half way up the large sole pad of younger Arki’s hind paw.  Alaska drummed her toes on Younger Arki’s pads, Younger Arki reaching down with a forepaw and pressing her younger sister’s hind paw gently against hers.  Alaska explored Arki’s forepaw which covered her own much smaller hind, then, exploring more with her forepaws, she found she could work her toes between the pads of Arki’s fore and hind paws and if she stretched her toes, she could touch the claws of her own hind paw which was covered by her older sister’s much larger forepaw.  Alaska felt her way with both her tiny forepaws over the toes of younger Arki’s left hind paw, the older bear laughing as Alaska’s questing toes tickled hers.

       “I like this paw play,”  Alaska said, Arki curled the toes of her right hind paw, holding onto her younger sister’s tiny forepaws, the cub smiling and leaning forward to kiss the back of Arki’s forepaw, the older bear’s eyes filling with tears.

       “I love you little sister,” Younger Arki said.  Alaska wiggled the toes of her forepaws until Arki let go of them, then the tiny cub took hold of Arki’s left forepaw and pulled it away from covering her hind paw.  Taking her hind paw from Younger Arki’s and rolling onto her chest so she could reach the older bear’s hind paw more easily, Alaska kissed the pads of Younger Arki’s right hind paw, then the pads of her left hind.  Arki, her forepaws covering her face to hide her tears, watched the cub.

       “You have four paws I think, just like me?”  Alaska asked, “where are your forepaws Arki?”  Younger Arki gave Alaska her forepaws which the cub kissed as she had her hind.  Alaska cuddled up to her older sister, working her paws into younger Arki’s fur.  Younger Arki held tightly onto Alaska, finally lying down with her and running her forepaws all over the cub’s body, from her nose to the toes of her hind paws, something the nearly day old cub enjoyed hugely.  Alaska made quite sure her fore and hind paws got a good massage during her rub down.  Then, when it was over, Younger Arki let Alaska crawl all over her, to rub her down with her tiny paws.  Alaska used all four paws to massage her sister, using her fore and hind paws to great affect.  Younger Arki loved every minute of her sister’s attention.  The touch of Alaska’s tiny paws on her fur and [paws soothed younger Arki, who relaxed completely.  Alaska smiled as her paws did their work, feeling her older sister’s body relaxing.  Alaska worked her toes into Arki’s fur, gently raking her claws through her sister’s thick fur.  Arki smiled to herself as Alaska’s paw pads touched hers; the cub’s tiny toes curling round her larger ones,

 

Arki cuddled Alaska, the cub enjoying her attentions.

 

Meanwhile, Kamchatka swam in the main pool of the pool complex, her large body propelled through the water by her massive paws.  Kamchatka got out of the pool and sat down in the bubble pool feeling the water jets ruffling her fur and tickling the pads on the soles of her paws.  Grinning she thought back over the experience she’d had with Allie.  Smiling to herself, she took her right hind paw in her right fore and began playing with her toes with her left fore.  The sound of noisy padded paws approaching announced the arrival of Petra who, seeing Kamchatka, increased her walk to a trot, then splashed into the spar pool.  Petra smiled broadly at Kamchatka as she reached down beneath the surface of the water, grabbed the grizzly bear’s left hind paw in her forepaws and began to stroke and playing with her pads and toes.  Kamchatka laughed merrily at the lioness’s actions.

         “You love my paws almost as much as I do,” the bear said.  Petra kissed her nose, then released Kamchatka’s paw to hug the bear with her forepaws.

        “I love their owner very much too,” Petra mewed.  Kamchatka kissed Petra’s nose.

      “Allie’s labour was magical Petra,” Kamchatka said.  Petra kissed the bear’s right forepaw and left the pool.

        “You did very well helping her,” Petra mewed.

       “So say all of us!”  Allie, Sam, Younger Arki and Alaska said, padding, or in Alaska’s case, riding into the pool complex on Allie’s back.  Petra padded away, leaving Kamchatka with her arsine friends.  Kamchatka was joined in the pool by the four polar bears.  Sam found himself sitting opposite Kamchatka, the soles of their hind paws touching beneath the water.  As was her way when another bear’s paws touched hers, Kamchatka began to massage and stroke Sam’s hind paws with the pads and toes of her OWN hind, the male polar bear loving every minute of HER ATTENTION.

 

Younger Arki and Alaska were also playing together, each splashing the other.  Allie watched them, her smile telling others how proud she was of her cubs.

        “Got to love those cubs,” she said.  the sound of scampering paws and laughter heralded the arrival of younger Tess and Androcles, the lion cashing the liger into the pool complex, Younger Tess throwing herself into the main pool, Androcles following her. The two big cats ducking each other in play.  Kamchatka let go of Sam’s hind paws and turned to leave the pool, lifting her left hind paw, which Sam caught in his forepaws, holding it in his right while tracing Kamchatka’s sole pad with the toes of his left fore.  Kamchatka smiled at Sam, looking sideways at him.

       Kamchatka likes having her hind paws stroked and tickled,” Allie observed.

      “Oh you don’t say!”  Sam scoffed.  Allie playfully slapped him with her paw.  Sam released Kamchatka’s hind paw and the bear turned to him, splashing him with a forepaw.

        “Kamchatka,” Allie said, “thanks again for your help during Alaska’s birth.  Kamchatka smiled, padded damply along the side of the pool to where the little cub sat in the water, and picked her up in her forepaws, placing heron the tiles.  Alaska lay on her back, her paws in the air.  Kamchatka blew across the pads of the cub’s tiny right hind paw Alaska laughing helplessly.

      “I like that!”  She said.  Kamchatka grinned at her.

        “I love you little Alaska,” the huge grizzly said.  Alaska smiled:

      “My sister’s hind paws are a lot bigger than mine!”  The cub said.  Kamchatka smiled and sat down on the tiled floor.

      “Feel my hind paws Alaska,” Kamchatka invited, “I’ll bet mine are biGG than younger Arki’s.”  In this Kamchatka was wrong, the female polar bear had bigger paws than she, and Younger Arki was about to prove this.  Scrambling from the water, she sat down hind paw to hind paw with Kamchatka and the grizzly bear saw Arki’s hind paws were longer and wider than her own.  Kamchatka’s reaction to this was to grab hold of Arki’s right hind paw in her forepaws and tickle her toes.  Arki screamed with laughter, jerking her paw out of Kamchatka’s grasp and grabbing the grizzly bear’s left hind paw, tickling her toes until Kamchatka was exhausted from laughing.  When the grizzly bear had recovered, she hugged younger Arki in her huge warm paws, the female polar bear loving every minute of her attention.

       “You are a very special bear Kamchatka,” Younger Arki said.  Kamchatka kissed the female polar bear’s nose, Arki feeling the grizzly’s warmth towards her enveloping her from nose to the pads of her paws.  Kamchatka kissed the pads of all four of younger Arki’s paws, the female polar bear gulping back tears as she felt a sudden rush of emotion.

        “I love you Arki,” Kamchatka said.  Arki smiled shyly.

         Kamchatka loves both of us Arki, isn’t that wonderful!”  Alaska said.  Arki grinned.  Kamchatka hugged both younger Arki and Alaska then got to her paws to leave the pool complex.  Androcles left the water and padded up to Kamchatka, hugging her tightly.  Kamchatka took the lion’s right forepaw in her left and squeezed his toes, Androcles smiled and kissed Kamchatka’s nose.  Allie and Sam laughed at Kamchatka and Androcles antics.  Kamchatka and Androcles walked away, the bear’s face buried in the lion’s mane.  Sam grinned at Allie, touching HER paws.  Younger Arki laughed at the lion and bear.

        “Two lovers?”  She asked, waving her paw at the bear and lion.  Androcles and Kamchatka turned to the bears and kissed each other theatrically, making the bears laugh merrily.  Holding each other’s forepaws, the lion and grizzly bear laughed helplessly.  Kamchatka pushed Androcles into the main pool, and then bombed in after him, the resulting splash covering Allie and the other polar bears ten feet away from the main pool.  Androcles swam with Kamchatka to the other side of the pool and they clambered out and went to the water slide where they grabbed a raft and hurtled down the open slide and got flung out into the main pool.  Swimming to the pool’s edge with Androcles holding onto her hind paws and helping her to swim by padding with his hind paws while she paddled with her fore, the two friends got themselves onto dry tiles.  Shaking their fur dry, the two unlikely friends padded from the pool complex, Androclies            waving his paw at younger Tess, who grinned and shook her head, for she was playing with younger Arki.  Androcles and Kamchatka found their way to the grizzly bear’s lie up, Androcles dancing on his toes, mewing his paws were desperate to be massaged.  Kamchatka laughed merrily and danced on her toes rubbing her paws on the carpet, in an attempt to massage her paws.

        “Let’s play with and massage each other’s pads and toes,” Androcles suggested, Kamchatka laughing merrily.

       “Let’s do just that,” she replied.

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