A close encounter between Tigger and Amber

 

Tigger woke slowly, luxuriating in the warmth afforded him by the thick quilt covering him from the toes of his hind paws to his neck.  His whole body was warm, from his ears to the pads of all four of his paws, and he couldn’t have asked for anything more.  Tigger wasn’t boastful of having won his battle with snowy half tail, after all, she’d brought the fight to him, but he was relieved it was all over.  Wiggling the toes of both his hind paws, Tigger basked in the warmth this small action generated.  He felt the warmth spreading all over the pads of his hind paws, and he knew that if he wiggled the toes of his forepaws, the same thing would happen for them.  This was if they were already warm of course, if his paws were cold, Tigger found it a near impossible task to move the toes of the paw, let alone do what he was doing now.  Tigger put his head beneath the quilt and blew hard, the heat from his breath warming his forepaws.  Feeling even better about things, Tigger lay back and enjoyed just lying beneath the quilt.  Amber, lying under the quilt a little way off with her cub Whitie, turned her head and made eye contact with Tigger.

      “We’ve got a good place here Tiggie,”  she said, smiling at the massive Bengal tiger.  Tigger grinned, it certainly felt good to him today, that was for sure.>  Tigger tried not to think of his past life, but sometimes, when he felt safe, he let his mind travel into places where he dared not usually go.  Places which he knew he must visit, places which caused him pain and sadness.  Tigger knew he must try to come to terms with the deaths of his mate and their cubs.  digging his forepaws deeper into the quilt, Tigger closed his eyes and thought about his mate and their cubs.  They had been everything to him, and some inconsiderate human had snatched his mate’s life away, also killing their cubs, which were only a few weeks old at the time.  Tigger knew he couldn’t bring them back, but he wished fervently that he could.  If they’d been able to come to the place he was now, they’d be happy he was sure.  Tigger felt the all too familiar sensation which meant he was close to losing it totally.  Hardly able to breathe, and with his eyes stinging, Tigger tried to keep a lid on his emotions, not to cry, but it was too difficult.  Burying his face in his paws, Tigger gave himself up to weeping for his mate and their cubs.  somewhere along the line, Whitie appeared, and Tigger took her in his forepaws, hugging her to him.  Then, to Whitie’s surprise and then delight, Tigger began to wash and groom her fur from her nose to her tail, missing nothing.  Whitie hadn’t been groomed like this since she was a very young cub, and at first it felt a little strange, but then she began to enjoy it.  Using his teeth and his rough tongue, Tigger nibbled at and licked Whitie’s fur, the snow leopard cub relaxing as the huge Bengal tiger worked his way carefully from her ears to her paws.  When he came to her paws, Tigger examined each paw carefully, holding it gently in his.  Then, satisfied there were no thorns or other problems, he concluded the grooming session by hugging Whitie tightly.  Whitie snuggled into Tigger’s hug, cementing her bond with the huge male Bengal tiger.

 

His eyes dry now, Tigger looked round him, straight into Amber’s face.  The female snow leopard was smiling, and her eyes were shining with delight.  Tigger snapped into full consciousness, his grooming of Whitie having been completed in a semi daze.

     “Amber!”  he gasped, “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have, I really shouldn’t have,,,”

      “I’m sure Whitie loved every minute,”  she said, “in fact, so did I.  it was lovely to see you grooming her from nose to tail.  It was natural, unforced, loving.”  Tigger loved Whitie and her sister with all his heart, and he was glad Amber had seen it.

      “I love your cubs with all my heart Amber,”  Tigger whispered.  Amber smiled and took one of Tigger’s paws in hers.

        “You keep loving them,”  she whispered, “for apart from me, you’re the only big cat who does.”  Tigger knew Stifftail wanted to let his cubs die, and for that he could never forgive the male snow leopard.

      “I will protect them with my life,”  Tigger said.  Amber saw in his eyes that he was deadly serious.

      “you’ve got beautifully soft paws Tigger,”  Amber whispered to the male tiger, “can, can I look at the rest of you?”  Tigger realised what Amber was asking of him.

      “Which bits of me do you want to see?”  He asked.

      “Your face, your body, your paws, everything!”  Amber whispered.  Tigger grinned at Amber and gave her both his forepaws.

     “touch them, stroke them, look at them, embrace them,”  Tigger invited.  Amber looked at Tigger’s face for a long time, then transferred her attention to his forepaws, one by one, then she turned to his hind paws and examined them also.  Embracing each paw, stroking the pads, massaging each paw.  Tigger relaxed, enjoying her ministrations.  Stifftail watched all this, realising his mate was making advances towards the tiger who’d adopted her cubs.  Stifftail realised Amber wanted to have some fun, fun with another animal, with an animal who would play with her, stroke and tickle her paws, all that and more.  Stifftail didn’t much like Amber touching his paws, nor did he like touching the paws of his cubs or even those of his own mate.  Stifftail watched angrily as Tigger and Amber played, though he knew she was getting release through play with the huge male tiger.

 

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