Salty makes his mark.
Salty tried to keep calm, there were so many animals round him, some of whom he’d never encountered or heard of before. Some of the animals had webbed feet, but were not birds. Salty heard them referred to as otters. Salty lay down, trying to sleep. The animals around him watched Salty trying to sleep. Leo looked at Salty.
“You can sleep soundly tonight Salty,” Leo whispered. Salty closed his eyes, trying to sleep.
“I can’t relax!” Salty whimpered. Leo crawled over to him and began massaging his paws. Salty breathed deeply, trying to relax.
“Warm paws,” Salty murmured, “must try to get into warm paws.”
“Just let the warmth spread all over your body,” Leo whispered. Salty struggled to relax, despite Leo’s entreaties. Soon Salty had no choice but to give in, his body telling him he was too exhausted to carry on. Salty let Leo curl round him, the lion making his fur into a warm cocoon for the snow leopard to snuggle into. Snuggle into it Salty did, soon falling asleep. Leo purred contentedly, this sound making Salty relax even more. Leo felt the paw he was stroking relax, the leopard finally submitting to the inevitable. Feeling his paws becoming warmer and warmer, Salty closed his eyes.
“that’s it Salty,” Leo purred. Salty let himself drift to sleep.
Leo let Salty rest his head on his shoulder.
“One very nervous snow leopard,” Leo thought, “I wonder what happened to him before he came here?” Leo felt Salty’s nervousness, for Salty’s paws were damp with sweat, his paws shaking uncontrollably throughout the massage. This leopard was one anxious cat.
Salty slept fitfully, stirring at the slightest sound. The next morning, he was exhausted, having not slept at all well.
“What a night,” Salty complained to Leo, “I was woken by thumps, bangs and other carry on, plus one of the cubs took hold of my paw! Tell them cubs to bloody well leave my paws alone!”
“I’m sorry Mister Salty,” Portia said, “that cub who took hold of your paw was me. I thought I might be able to help you.”
“Well you didn’t!” Salty yelled, losing his temper, “you ruined my night!”
“I’m sorry,” Portia replied, “I won’t do it again.”
“Make dam sure you don’t!” Salty shouted. Very upset, Portia crawled away.
“Portia was only trying to help you Salty,” Leo said, “she meant no harm.” Salty looked at the tiny female lion cub, his anger subsiding into sadness.
“Portia,” Salty called. The cub looked round at him.
“Please,” Salty pleaded, “Portia, please come to me.” Portia crawled towards Salty, until her forepaws were inches from his.
“May I?” Salty asked, taking Portia in both his forepaws and hugging her.
“I’m sorry Portia,” salty mewed, stroking the cub’s ears and forepaws, “I didn’t mean to get angry with you. I’m so confused about everything here, I don’t know if I’m safe, if the animals here are friendly, any of that. I go to sleep, and wake to find my paw in that of a tiny cub, and it scares me! I’ve never known cubs to be as forward as that.”
“I meant you no harm mister Salty,” Portia replied. Salty smiled, giving Portia his left forepaw.
“Please Portia, stroke my paw,” he said. Portia looked at Leo for guidance.
“I know you massage paws Leo,” she said, “and you said you were going to teach me how. Now I need to know how.”
“Right,” Leo said, “take Salty’s paw in both of yours. Then, with your claws sheathed, stroke the pads of his paw gently with the pads of your paw.” Portia did as her sire instructed, and Salty, feeling warmth creeping up his leg from the paw Portia was stroking, settled down on his side.
“You can massage all four paws little cub,” Salty purred. Portia continued stroking Salty’s paw, and accidentally rubbed the toes of his paw with her pads. This caused Salty to give in totally to the affects of the pleasurable paw massage. Relaxing totally, salty drifted into a deeper sleep than he’d known since he was a very young cub.
“That’s it,” Leo said to Portia, who grinned at him. Salty slept on, his body and paws now relaxed and his mind having the best recuperation it had experienced in weeks. Portia hugged Salty, the huge snow leopard unconsciously snuggling up to her.
“Mister Salty’s one handsome snow leopard Leo,” Portia said. Leo smiled at his cub.
“Am I?” Salty asked, having woken and heard Portia’s remark to her sire. Portia looked down at her paws, embarrassed Salty had overheard.
“You weren’t meant to hear that mister Salty,” Portia mewed. Salty took the female lion cub in his paws and hugged her.
“I’m glad you think me Handsome Portia,” Salty said. Portia smiled, enjoying Salty’s attention.
“Can I groom you Portia?” Salty asked. Portia always liked to be groomed, but she wasn’t sure what Leo would say.
“Go On Salty,” Leo said, “I know Portia would be delighted.” Salty smiled at the tiny cub.
“Portia,” he said, “please, about this mister Salty stuff, I’m just Salty, okay?”
“Ok mister,,, I mean Salty,” Portia replied. Salty smiled and began grooming Portia from her ears to her paws.
Leo watched, glad his cub had found a potential friend. Portia purred as Salty worked on her fur.
“You’ve got the softest fur I’ve ever felt on a cub Portia,” Salty said. Portia, half asleep, roused herself slightly:
“Have I?” She asked.
“yes,” Salty replied, examining Portia’s left forepaw, “you’ve got the softest paws too.” Portia smiled as the paw massage Salty was giving her had its full affect.
“You’ve got large soft paws Salty, and I like that,” Portia mewed. Salty smiled.
“I had paws as small as yours once,” he said, “long, long ago when I was a cub.” The scuffing of tiny paws on carpet made Portia look round. Whitie crawled into the room.
“Hi Whitie!” Portia mewed. Whitie crawled towards the female lion cub, and it was only when she was a foot off his left forepaw that Salty looked up from his work on Portia’s right forepaw. Forgetting his work, Salty froze, Portia’s right forepaw in his massive left.
“A snow leopard cub!” Salty exclaimed, “a tiny snow leopard cub!” Salty stared at Whitie, who’d stopped at the sound of his voice.
“Who is this Portia?” Whitie asked.
“His name’s Salty, he’s a snow leopard Whitie,” Portia replied. Whitie stretched out a paw and touched Salty’s.
“You have huge paws Salty!” Whitie mewed. Salty grinned.
“Would you like to feel how good a massage is from those paws Whitie?” Salty asked. Whitie traced round Salty’s massive left forepaw with her tiny paw.
“yeah, okay,” she replied. Salty smiled:
“When I’ve finished working on Portia, then I’ll work on you, okay Whitie?” Whitie smiled and nodded. Salty stroked Portia’s paws, the female lion cub drifting into deep sleep. Once Salty had finished massaging all four of Portia’s paws, he turned his attention to Whitie.
“Lie down here Whitie Cub,” Salty said. Whitie, recognising the familiar form of endearment used by all snow leopards, settled down, rolling onto her side to let the huge snow leopard have access to all four of her tiny paws. Salty began to stroke Whitie’s paws, stroking and rubbing her pads. Whitie purred and snuggled up to the huge leopard. Working her paws into Salty’s, Whitie relaxed totally, letting Salty do his work. Whitie purred contentedly as Salty worked his magic over each one of her tiny paws.
“I’ve never felt anything like this! This is amazing!” Whitie mewed. Salty licked Whitie’s ear. Salty continued his work, transferring his attention to Whitie’s left hind paw. Whitie wiggled the toes of her hind paw, pressing her pads into Salty’s. Salty smiled:
“You are one happy snow leopard cub Whitie,” he purred.
Leo and Theo watched Salty tending to Whitie.
“Salty’s relaxed properly for the first time since he got here,” Theo said. Leo grinned at his brother.
“I think he’ll settle down here well,” Leo purred.
“Salty’s so good with the cubs!” Theo mewed, looking with envy at Whitie, who was now sound asleep. Salty looked at Theo.
“You want some of this?” he asked, waving a huge forepaw at Theo. Theo looked down at his paws, ashamed his intentions were exposed. “I’m sorry,” Theo mewed, “I know paw massages are only for cubs.” Salty grinned at Theo.
“Why not show me your paws?” the huge snow leopard said. Theo rolled onto his side, waving all four paws. Salty went closer, picking up one of Theodore’s forepaws in his and examining it. Theo pressed his paw into Salty’s, Salty smiling and gently stroking Theo’s paw. Theo drifted away into a dream, Leo watching him. Salty smiled at Leo as he worked on Theo.
“One happy customer I think,” Salty said. Leo wanted some of what Theo was getting. He knew Snowy did a fantastic massage, but he wanted to feel Salty’s brand of massage. Raising his right forepaw, Leo looked at Salty in mute appeal, unable to voice his thoughts.
“I think Leo wants a massage too Salty,” Portia said, “but he can’t bring himself to ask you.” Salty looked at Leo.
“Okay cub,” he said, playfully tickling the pads of Leo’s raised paw, “I’ll stroke your paws in a minute. Leo flinched away as he felt Salty’s paw tickle his.
“You weren’t expecting that were you,” Salty said.
“No!” Leo replied, “now if I wasn’t so laid back about things, I’d have bitten you for doing something like that!” Salty grinned at Leo as he finished Theo’s paw massage.
“I don’t know who’s the bigger cub,” Salty said, “Theo or Leo.” Salty hugged the huge lion, Leo snuggling up to him.
“He just wants physical contact,” Portia said, “my sire’s a real softy under all that fur.” Leo swiped at his cub with mock aggression.
“Don’t you say that about me,” he growled, though everyone, including Leo, knew the truth of Portia’s words. Working his paws deep into Salty’s thick fur, Leo felt real warmth envelope him.
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