The arrival of Ellie’s second cub.

 

Clarence was anxious.  Ellie’s cubbing was drawing near, and he wondered if she’d be okay.  He remembered how she’d been keen to discuss everything cubbing related when Leo and Theo had first arrived in the community, but now he could tell she was not so confident.  In fact he could tell she was dreading the impending birth of her cub.  Clarence knew fleur would help Ellie if she needed it, but he wondered whether the cub would be bullied by some of the community as it was formed by the union of two different breeds of big cat.  Also, what would the cub look like?  Would it be persecuted because it looked strange?  Clarence knew all he could do was wait and see.

 

Ellie’s labour began one afternoon.  She was lying in the bathtub when her contractions started.  They were strong from the outset, and Ellie was soon mewing and panting in an effort to control her pain and rising panic.  Ellie wriggled and twisted as Waves of crushing pain overcame her as she lay in the now empty bathtub, she having pulled the plug out with the toes of one of her hind paws while fighting a contraction. Ellie closed her eyes, concentrating on curling and relaxing the toes of all four paws as contractions increased.  Suddenly Ellie screamed for help as another pain, worse than the ones before, gripped and held onto her.

      “What’s going on in here?”  Tigger mewed.

     “I’m having my cub!”  Ellie yelled.  Tigger fled to get fleur, who’d already heard Ellie’s scream for help and pounded past him.  Leaping into the bathtub with the labouring female lynx, fleur held Ellie tightly as the female lynx moaned and panted, scrabbling at Fleur’s fur with her paws.

      “I must push!”  Ellie wailed, catching her breath and straining to deliver her cub.  Fleur stroked Ellie’s paws.

      “Don’t push hard, not yet,” fleur said gently, “you’ll tire yourself out before you really have to push to deliver the cub.  Just let it come naturally.  Breathe through the contractions Ellie, don’t push at your cub.”  Ellie whimpered with fear.

      “It’s going to be all right,” Fleur mewed, gently squeezing Ellie’s paw.  Fleur turned her attention to the taps, turning them on and filling the tub, the water rising around Ellie’s paws.

     “The bath’s filling up,” Ellie mewed, trying to take her mind off the contraction building in her.  Ellie, the toes of all four paws clenched, shrieked and wailed with pain, trying not to push against her cub.  Now the water was deep enough to have some affect on Ellie’s pain, and she calmed down a little.

      “I can feel the cub moving down!”  Ellie sobbed.

       “That’s great,” fleur mewed.  Ellie switched her tail from side to side, pressing the toes of both hind paws against the bottom of the bathtub as another contraction, lower down this time, tore its way through her.

     “I must push fleur!”  Ellie screamed.  Fleur patted her paw.

      “Push down gently,” fleur said gently.  Ellie needed no prompting, bracing her paws, she bore down against her cub, fleur watching her.  Ellie’s tail strained backwards as her cub entered the world.  Fleur saw a tail, and then Ellie squealed as the cub’s hind paws stuck fast.

      “Breach cub!”  Ellie yelled, “I can feel it fleur!”  Fleur stroked Ellie’s paw.

      “Just relax,” she encouraged, Ellie splashing and mewing.

      “Do what you have to do,” Ellie panted, answering Fleur’s next question.  Fleur gently felt for the cub’s hind paws with one of her own paws, touching its tail, then the cub’s toes and then the pads on the sole of its large left hind paw.  The pads on the sole of the cub’s paw were uppermost, its toes and claws able to jam tight and restrict the cub’s passage into the world.  Fleur knew this meant the cub was coming into the world backwards.  As she touched the toes of the cub’s paw once more, it curled them round hers, holding tightly to her own.

      “Fleur’s eyes widened as she felt the strength in the cub’s paw.  It was a strong cub!  Fleur gently covered the sole of the cub’s paw with her own left forepaw, while using her free right forepaw to cradle, then enfold the cub’s paw and guide it into the world, lifting the large paw slightly so it rested on the pads of her own paw, the claws on the cub’s toes towards and touching her heel pad, and unable to do any damage to Ellie.  Fleur noticed the cub had pinkish pads on the soles of its hind paws.  Cradling the cub’s other hind paw in a similar manner, Fleur gave Ellie the go ahead to begin pushing gently.  Bit by bit, Ellie’s cub emerged into the world, fleur seeing first its tail, then hind paws, then its back, then, as Ellie sensed victory and began pushing really hard and long, the cub exploded into the open, Ellie whimpering and mewing while pushing down hard.  Fleur caught the cub, Ellie crying with fatigue and pain.

     “All done Ellie,” fleur mewed, Ellie gasping and panting.

     “Thank Eohippus for that!”  She mewed.  Fleur cleaned the cub up and then looked at Ellie.

      “One healthy cub!  Fleur whooped.  Ellie looked round, and even though the cub looked strange as it was fat, with long leonine mane like fur all over and a lynx like face with fat lynx like paws, she thought it the most beautiful thing in the world Ellie smiled at her cub, reaching out with her paws and embracing it tightly, the cub mewing softly, sighing with pleasure and snuggling up to her.

     “Let’s go from here,” Ellie mewed, fleur smiling at Ellie and the newborn cub.

 

“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!”  Someone mewed.  Ellie looked round and saw Sally standing in the doorway.  Anger flared in Ellie.

      “How dare you watch!”  She screamed.

      “I couldn’t help it!”  Sally mewed, “I didn’t mean any harm!”

      “Look,”  Ellie said faintly, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you.  I’m glad you saw the cubbing.”  Sally smiled and approached Ellie, Stretching out a paw to the newborn cub that, when it felt her touch, reached out with a paw and touched Sally’s.

      “Would you like to hug him?”  Ellie asked.  Sally’s eyes widened with surprised delight:

     “Could I?”  She asked.

      “He’d love it I’m sure,”  Ellie mewed.  The cub, hearing this, crawled over to Sally, Sally taking in the cross bred cub from nose to paw pads.  Lying down, she enfolded him into a huge hug, the cub clinging to her with his huge forepaws.

     “Welcome to the world little one,”  Sally mewed.  The cub snuggled up to her, working his paws into her fur.

      “My hind paws are cold too,”  the cub mewed.  Sally smiled and curled herself round the cub, the tiny creature smiling as she wrapped his hind paws up in her tail, having just enough to tickle the pads on the sole of his right hind paw with the tip.  The cub laughed and curled his toes round the tip of Sally’s tail.  Sally smiled and embraced him with her forepaws.  The cub snuggled into Sally’s hug, wanting her to stroke his ears and paws.  Sally did so, the cub purring contentedly throughout.

     “Hadn’t you better come and drink some milk little one?”  Elle asked.

     “Later mum,”  the cub mewed, “this paw massage is lovely, just too lovely to let go right now.”  The cub wiggled the toes of the paw Sally was stroking, pressing his pads against hers.

     “But if you don’t drink milk, you won’t be able to enjoy having your paws massaged little one,”  Ellie mewed.  The cub reluctantly withdrew his paw from Sally’s and crawled over to his mum, who lay down and fed him.  Once he’d drunk all he could, the cub examined Ellie with his paws, from her whiskers, to the pads of her hind paws.  When he came to her paws, he took the time to examine them carefully before stroking and massaging them.  Ellie couldn’t help being relaxed by the cub’s massage.  The cub felt his mother relaxing, and kept steadily stroking her paws, which were hot from her exertions, and damp from the water.  Once her cub had been at this pastime for ten minutes or so, Ellie reluctantly put an end to the paw massage.

      “We need to go home,”  she mewed.  The cub crawled to fleur and hugged her as best he could, then went to Sally and embraced her.  Once he’d said his goodbyes he crawled after Ellie towards the living room.

 

There they met Clarence, who stared at the cub following Ellie.

     “That cub’s newborn!”  He exclaimed.

     “He’s your cub Clarence,”  Ellie said.  Clarence padded towards the large fat cub, lying down and taking him in his paws.  The cub snuggled up to the huge lion, burying his fat paws in the lion’s thick mane.

     “I feel close to you,”  the cub mewed, “as close to you as I do mum.  I know you are not like her though, but then I’m not like her or you, well bits of me are like you, and bits of me like mum, so I must be a cross between the two of you, while being me of course.”  Clarence smiled:

      “We both love you little one,”  he mewed.

 

Snowy burst in then, very much distressed.

      “I can’t cope any more!”  She yelled.

      “What’s the matter snowy dear?”  Salty asked.  Snowy, tears rolling down her nose, waved a piece of paper at the room in general.

     “It’s this!”  She sobbed, “I, I, I found out something about my breeding today, something which confirmed everyone’s views about me!  White tigers aren’t naturally occurring in the wild, there are pale skinned tigers, but not white!  I’m a highbred, a highbred of a light coloured Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger!  No wonder I had so many problems in my early life!  Always unwell, always picked on!  Now I know why!”

      “Hang on a minute!”  Hop along mewed, holding up a massive forepaw, “where did you learn this?”

      “I used the computer in the control room to access the internet, and I wish now that I hadn’t done so!”  Snowy sobbed stamping her huge white paws in anger and distress.

     “I’m a cross bred cub, just like you were once,”  Ellie’s cub said to the weeping tigress.

       “Who’s that?”  She asked waving a massive white paw at the cub.

      “He’s my cub,”  Clarence replied, “mine and Ellie’s that is.  She had him only an hour ago.”

       “He, he’s a lovely cub,”  snowy mewed, padding forward and lying down so she could take the cub in her paws, something the lynx lion cross cub was only too willing to let her do.  Snowy embraced the cub with desperate paws, trying to rid her mind of the shock she’d felt on reading of the way she was created.  Snowy cradled the lynx cross lion cub in her huge paws, the cub enjoying the attention from this strange big cat.  Snowy’s initial shock at learning of how she was born lessened with the passing of hours.  Snowy had torn up the paper on which she’d printed out the information soon after she’d entered the room, leaving it scattered in pieces all over the carpet.  Now snowy lay with Ellie’s cross bred cub, the cub exploring her with its paws from her nose to the toes of her large fat paws.  Relaxing, snowy smiled despite her distress.

     “You’ve got large, fat extremely soft paws,”  the cub said to snowy.  Clarence looked uneasily at Snowy’s face for her reaction to his cub’s words.

       “My paws are large and fat,”  she said, “that I can’t deny.  I’m glad you find them soft too.”  She curled the toes of one forepaw round those of one of the cubs.

     “Snowy’s got blue eyes, and is white from just above the tip of her nose to the tips of her toes little one,”  Clarence mewed, “she’s got brownie black stripes overlaying the white undercoat.”  The cub smiled, running his paws all over Snowy’s body once more, but slower this time, from her nose to the end of her tail, missing nothing.  Snowy began to purr with pleasure, gently embracing the cub’s forepaws with her own fore and hind when they came within reach, the cub smiling and patting her paws before she embraced his.

     “I like you snowy,”  the cub mewed, “you are so gentle, you’re lovely from your nose to your paws.”  He gently squeezed Snowy’s left forepaw, though he could only squeeze her toes, for they were all he could take in his paws.  Snowy smiled and kissed the cub on his nose.

     “Thank you little one,” she mewed, her voice cracking slightly and eyes filling with tears.

      “I’m sorry if I upset you snowy,”  the cub mewed.

       “You haven’t upset me little one,”  snowy replied, “You’ve made me very happy indeed.”  The cub tried to throw his paws round Snowy’s neck, but he couldn’t reach.

      “Just take her paw in both of yours and stroke it little’n,”  Leo said, “that will tell snowy how you feel.”  The cub did as Leo suggested, and snowy pressed her paw into the cub’s, their pads touching and toes entwined, the cub smiling at how warm Snowy’s paw was.  Snowy breathed deeply, trying to forget the words she’d read on the computer screen.  The way light coloured tigers were bred together until white cubs of opposing genders were produced, then the way those cubs were interbred to make more white tigers haunted her.  She knew she was indeed what the uncharitable animals in the community called her, namely a genetic misfit.  Snowy concentrated on the cub’s paw tightly holding her own, trying to block out the visions of tiger cubs discarded and left to die, or killed at birth, for the sole reason that they were not white, so not wanted.

     “They kill all cubs who are not pure white,”  snowy mewed.

     “Ay?”  Hop along asked.

      “I’m not, not endangered, I’m a human construct, white tigers are a human invention, light coloured tigers interbred until they have white cubs of apposing genders, then those cubs when they are adults, providing they get that far, are interbred again, brother to sister sometimes.  So it makes a weak genetic pool, as well as causing genetic problems.  This explains why I was so ill, before, before Eohippus gave me a new lease of life so I could give birth to Bianca and learn what it was to live normally.”  During Snowy’s speech, the lion lynx cross cub had released his paw from Snowy’s and taken hold of her right hind paw, before stroking her pads.  Snowy purred contentedly, occasionally wiggling her toes to let the cub know she was enjoying his attention, the cub patting her paw reassuringly every time he felt her touch.

 

“You’ve really hit it off with snowy I see,”  Ellie mewed, coming into the room.  |her cub smiled and replied:

     “Yes mum, but Snowy’s upset, I can feel it when I touch her paw.”

      “Snowy?”  Ellie asked, “What’s wrong?”  Snowy told her all about what she’d read on the internet.

     “But, but that’s, that’s dreadful!”  Ellie mewed.

     “It’s true,”  Snowy replied, “I’m a genetic freak of nature, I shouldn’t be here!  I should have let my mother have her way.  Of course, when I was young, me and my brother and sister accepted each other, they were Bengal tigers, and me a white tiger.  Now, now I know why my mum wanted me dead!”

      “But you gave birth to your Bengal tiger sister’s cub,”  Ellie mewed, “you are loved by Bianca and by many here, including me and my cub.”

     “I know I’m loved here,”  snowy sniffed, “but, it’s like being told you are nothing more than an experiment!  To be discarded if the right outcome isn’t achieved!”  Ellie’s cub stopped rubbing the pads of Snowy’s paw and crawled round to her head.  There he tried to hug her with his paws.

     “Take hold of Snowy’s forepaws little one,” Salty mewed.  The cub did as Salty advised, and Snowy purred contentedly.

     “Thank you little one,” snowy mewed, kissing the cub on his nose.

 

The cub curled himself into the space between Snowy’s forepaws, the white tigress embracing him in her fat paws.  Snowy knew the community loved her, but she was still shaken by the knowledge she’d gained.  Snowy felt Ellie’s cub take hold of her left forepaw and begin to stroke it, then someone else took her right hind in their paws and also began to stroke it.  Snowy knew the forepaws holding her own hind paw very well indeed.  Tigger stroked Snowy’s paws with infinite care and consideration, snowy closing her eyes to think hard about the tiger whom she’d grown to like, and then quickly to love.  Snowy hated herself for the way she’d treated Tigger in the early days of his life in the community.  Pressing her toes into his pads, Snowy breathed deeply,  her mind clearing of the things which she’d read on the computer and filling with the pleasure from the massage of two sets of forepaws, one set tiny in comparison to her own, and one set around the same size as her own.  Ellie’s cub left snowy to return to his mother, Tigger took the chance to get closer to Snowy, lying down beside her.  Snowy felt his paw touch hers, and his touch brought tears to her eyes.

     “Hey Snowy, snowy,” Tigger mewed kissing her on her nose, “It’s going to be ok Snowy my dear.”  Snowy, close to tears, clung to Tigger with desperate paws and replied:

     “No Tigger, it’s not, not when you find out the truth about what you are.  That you are indeed what some of the community have been saying about you.  I’ve been called a genetic misfit for years, and now, now Tigger, I find that I am!  It’s true!  I, I, I don’t know if I can stand it!”  Snowy buried her face in Tigger’s shoulder and burst into tears.  Tigger kissed Snowy’s nose and stroked her ears and paws while she cried.  Snowy was grateful when Tigger took her in his paws and held her close.

 

Snowy remembered the way she’d treated him when they’d first met, and now she knew what she really was, and that they were more closely related than she could have ever imagined, Snowy felt dreadful and wished to apologise to Tigger.

       “It’s okay snowy,”  Tigger mewed, “that’s all over now.”  Snowy looked at him.

      “What’s all over?”  She asked.

     “All that stuff which took place when we first met,”  Tigger replied.

      “But how, how did you know I was thinking of that?”  Snowy asked.

       “Don’t worry about how I knew,”  Tigger replied, “for I don’t know how I knew.”

      “It’s like Theo isn’t it,”  snowy said, “you can read the minds of other animals.”

      “I don’t know if that’s it,”  Tigger mewed, “but my point still stands, there’s nothing to be sorry for now.”  Snowy embraced Tigger tenderly, wanting to curl up with him for ever.

 

Sally watched Tigger and snowy, still not understanding the reasons for the white tigress’s distress, but totally understanding the rest of the going’s on.

      “I think those two have a bit of a history,”  she thought, smiling to herself as Tigger used his huge paws to rub Snowy down.

 

Pakshalika padded up to Sally, the older cub looking at the younger one.

      “You new here?”  Pakshalika asked.  Sally glanced at her.

      “I came here with my mum and brother,”  Sally mewed, “a few days ago it was, though it seems like a lifetime now.”  Pakshalika smiled, rubbing her nose with one huge forepaw.

      “I was born here,”  she replied, “oh, where are my manners, I forgot to ask your name?”

     “Sally,”  Sally replied, “and yours?”

      “Pakshalika,”  Pakshalika replied.  Sally studied Pakshalika from her nose to the soles of her fat paws, something which the older cub didn’t’ seem to mind.

      “You’re a beautiful cub Pakshalika,”  Sally mewed.  Pakshalika smiled.

      “Thanks,”  she replied, “and you’re a beautiful cub yourself.”  Sally grinned and tried to take Pakshalika’s paw in hers, Pakshalika rolling onto her back and inviting Sally to tickle her belly and the soles of her paws, which, laughing merrily, she did.  Pakshalika laughed, squirming and pretending to pull her paws away, but all the while letting Sally have full access to them.  After a few minutes of this, Pakshalika rolled onto her paws and, snarling with mock ferocity, chased Sally up the stairs to the main bedroom.  Thinking their game had gone sour for Pakshalika, Sally ran for her life!

 

Brunetta, dozing peacefully stretched out full length on the quilt, woke suddenly to find Sally charging blindly towards her, the cub more concerned with getting away from Pakshalika, than looking where she was going.  Brunetta had no time to move, so she rolled over and caught sally in her huge paws as the tiger cub quite literally fell over her.  Panicking, Sally thrashed about wildly, her forepaws whacking brunetta about her nose, the toes of the cub’s hind paws scrabbling at Brunetta’s belly fur.

     “Its okay, it’s okay!”  Brunetta gasped, half the wind knocked from her by Sally’s crashing arrival.  Sally mewed and spat in fear, her forepaws still slapping, and hind toes still scrabbling for freedom.

 

Hearing the commotion, Rani and Raja burst into the room, saw the goings on and tried to calm Sally down.

     “Brunetta won’t harm you Sally!”  Rani said gently, “you’re safe with her.”  Sally calmed down then, for she knew her mother would not leave her in danger.  Raja looked at Pakshalika, who stared at her paws in shame.

      “I know you and Sally were playing,”  he mewed, “but Sally’s new here, she doesn’t realise straight off that you’re playing with her.  A little gentler maybe?”  Pakshalika realised it was she who’d let Sally tickle her paws and belly, and that her suddenly changing tack and snarling at Sally before chasing her might have seemed to signify anger at her, whereas it was nothing of the sort.

     “I was only playing! I’m sorry!”  Pakshalika mewed.

 

Meanwhile, on the quilt, Sally was finding that the creature she’d fallen over in fact wasn’t out to eat her, but was wishing to hug her in its huge warm paws.  Sally knew what a bear was, but in her panic she’d not registered that she’d quite literally fallen into the paws of one.  Brunetta examined Sally from nose to tail, and then stroked her from her nose to her toes.  Brunetta realised that while there had been a good deal of slapping from Sally’s forepaws and scrabbling at her fur with the toes of her hind, the tiger cub had never thought to use her claws to inflict damage.

      “You never used your claws once little one,”  Brunetta said to Sally, kissing the cub on her nose.

      “My mum taught us never to use our claws,”  Sally replied, “She never uses hers.”  Raja, overhearing this, made a mental note to ask Rani why she never used her claws, and taught her cubs never to use theirs.

      “I like you,”  brunetta said gently to Sally, while embracing her tiny left forepaw in both her huge ones.  Sally felt Brunetta’s paws warming her own, and it felt wonderful.  Relaxing totally, sally lay back in the curve of Brunetta’s curled body, her paw still in those of the brown bear.

      “I’m all yours,”  Sally mewed, “my belly, paws, nose and tail are yours to massage, please.”  Brunetta smiled, embracing Sally tenderly as she would her own cub.

      “Are you sure you want me to stroke you?”  Brunetta asked.  Sally smiled sleepily.

      “Yes, please,”  she mewed.  Sally hadn’t realised she’d not asked the huge bear her name.  Indeed, this detail was far from the cub’s mind.  Curling herself tightly into Brunetta’s warm fur, Sally let the brown bear run her huge paws over her body, from her nose, to the end of her long tail, and from her ears to the soles of her paws.

 

Seeing all was peaceful for the moment, Raja and Rani returned to their rug.  Raja lay down beside his mate and took her paw in his.

      “Sally never used her claws once during all that,” Raja mewed, “she was terrified, but never thought to use her claws against Brunetta, why did she not use her claws against Brunetta??”  Raja asked.

      “That’s partly my doing,” Rani replied, “I was taught by my human handlers never to use my claws, had it quite literally beaten into me.  I suppose my cub’s saw me with my claws sheathed, and followed my lead.”

     “I love you Rani,” Raja purred, kissing her on the nose, “I love your paws too.  You’re lovely from your ears to your paws my dear Rani.”  Rani smiled and returned Raja’s kiss, making the male tiger smile with pleasure.

      “I love you from your ears to your paws too raja my dear,” she mewed.  Raja embraced Rani in both forepaws, the tigress snuggling up to the love of her life.  Rani knew Raja would love and protect her and her cubs.

 

Meanwhile, back in the main bedroom of the house, sally and Pakshalika had resumed their play, the chasing incident forgotten.  The sound of tiny paws entering the room made them stop their play and look round.  Ellie’s cub padded into the room, all long leonine hair and fat paws.  Sally stared at the cub and was about to say something when Pakshalika’s paw tightened on hers.  The cub padded towards the quilt, where Nick lay.  Nick, hearing the sound of the cub’s tiny paws approaching him, looked up and instantly guessed whose cub he was looking at.

     “Hello little’n,” Nick mewed, gathering the hairy bundle of life to him.  The cub, feeling as he had with snowy that this stranger wasn’t going to hurt him, let Nick take him in his paws and embrace him.  Nick’s paws were large, fat and very warm, and the cub found he enjoyed the large lynx’s attention.  Nick found he felt no hatred towards the strange cub; in fact he had to admit he quite liked Ellie’s cub, who was more of a shaggy bundle of fur at that moment in time.  Nick gently stroked the cub’s paws, the cub purring contentedly.

     “Hey Brunetta!”  Ellie called coming fast into the room, “have you seen my cub?”  Ellie stopped dead when she saw her cub asleep in Nick’s paws.

     “Oh, um, right,” she said, not knowing how to handle the situation, “you two have met then?”  Nick smiled.

      “You’ve got a lovely cub here,” he said, stroking the cubs back with one huge forepaw.

     “I thought you would hate my cub,” Ellie mewed.  Nick embraced the cub tenderly.

      “Why should I hate a cub that has done me no wrong?”  He asked, “His breeding isn’t his fault.”  Ellie looked at Nick.

      “He seems to have taken to you,” she said, “that are great news.”

      “Regretting your actions now are we Ellie?”  Nick thought, “I thought you might sooner or later.  Now you’ve lost everything but your cub, Clarence isn’t interested in you, and I’m not letting you back into my life.”  Ellie looked at Nick, wishing she’d never parted from him, but knowing he’d never get back together with her again.  She examined him from nose to tail, taking in everything from his whiskers to the pads on the soles of his huge paws.  Nick slightly curled his toes as if involuntarily, making his pads bunch together, something which he knew would torment Ellie.  He saw what affect the tiny movement in his paws had on Ellie.  Ellie, remembering how much she’d loved those times when Nick used to slightly curl his toes to envelope her paws while she massaged his paws, turned and fled, her tail between her legs.

    “What made mum run off like that Nick?”  Ellie’s cub asked.  Nick sighed heavily.

      “I loved your mum; still do if I’m honest with myself.  She doesn’t love me any more though, and she ran away with a lion.”  The cub hugged Nick tightly, moving the large lynx close to tears.  Then the cub said something which made Nick lose control totally.

     “That lion doesn’t care for me like you do.  He likes me, but doesn’t really want me.  You do want me here, like mum does.  I want to stay with you Nick.”  Nick sniffed hard, trying not to show how upset the cross bred cub’s words made him.

      “Clarence didn’t really want a cub,” Nick sobbed.

     “But you do,” the cub said, “I can feel it in your paws when you hug me nick.”  Nick buried his face in the cub’s fur.

      “You’re really soft and gentle Nick, I want to stay with you forever!”  The cub said quickly.  Hugging the cub in both paws, Nick burst into tears.  Ellie found Nick like that five minutes later.

     “Nick, please,” Ellie pleaded, almost begging, “would you, could you please, please help me look after my cub?  Clarence doesn’t want to know him, but I get the feeling you do.  I won’t ask you to love me like you used to, but for the sake of a tiny cub, please, would you help me and my cub?”  Nick looked through his tears at Ellie, Seeing a female lynx who knew she’d done wrong, and most of all, was truly sorry for what she’d done.

     “I will help you look after your cub Ellie,” nick said.

 

Meanwhile, Sally, having woken from deep sleep, lay chatting to Brunetta, while the female brown bear stroked her body and paws.

     “I would like to stroke your paws sometime Brunetta,” Sally mewed, “it seems to me that you might like it.”

      “I might,” brunetta said, “I think you’ll have to try it sometime too, and soon I hope.”  Sally knew Brunetta’s forepaws were warm and soft, were her hind paws soft too?  Sally stroked Brunetta’s belly and then the pads and toes of her hind paws, the brown bear briefly curling her toes so her hind paws gently enveloped Sally’s tiny forepaws.  Sally smiled and drummed her toes on Brunetta’s pads, the bear grinning at her.  Brunetta wanted her paws stroked more often, and Sally knew how to stroke paws.  Drifting in a dream, brunetta focused on what her hind paws were telling her.  Pressing her pads and toes into Sally’s paws, Brunetta basked in the warm feeling a paw massage always gave her.  Before brunetta knew it, Sally was stroking her forepaws once more.

 

Meanwhile, Rupert and Rani were having some quiet time together.  Rani knew her male cub had taken life at the circus very hard indeed, and wanted to reassure him she’d not be going back there herself, or would ever think of taking him or sally back there.  Rani and Rupert now lay curled up together, Rupert curled up tightly in the curve of Rani’s body, his paw in hers.  Rani massaged her cub’s paw from time to time, Rupert mewing softly with pleasure whenever he felt her paw stroking his.  Drifting in a warm haze, Rupert felt his body relaxing more than it had done since he could remember.  He’d never felt his paws relaxing totally, and noticed his toes ached as his body let go of all tension.  Rupert hadn’t realised he’d been constantly flexing his toes, curling them hard before forcing them straight again, stretching his toes as far as they’d go.  Rupert remembered consciously doing this as stress relief, but then it had become more sub conscious, and by the time he and his family had escaped from the circus, he was at this game all the time.

·             “No wonder my paws are always tired,” he thought.  Looking down at his forepaws, Rupert was shocked to see he was still at the same game of curling and relaxing his toes.

·              “I must try and stop this,” he thought, taking hold of his mum’s paws so that when his own paws went into their now involuntary curling and relaxing routine, at least she’d get a paw massage from this useless game.  Rani realised her cub was uncomfortable with his nervous paw play and, gently shaking her forepaws free of his, but letting him hold the toes of one of her hind paws in those of one of his, hugged him in both forepaws.

·             “I know you’re concerned about your habit of curling and relaxing your toes, but it’s all right Rupert dear,” Rani mewed, “it will be okay, I promise you.”  Rupert felt his mother’s forepaws embracing him, the toes of her hind paw which was in contact with his curling round his own and squeezing them tenderly.  Rupert took one of Rani’s forepaws in both of his and began stroking and examining it.  Rani relaxed her paw, enjoying her cub’s attention.

 

Meanwhile, Ellie and Nick lay curled together, Nick embracing Ellie in his huge paws.  Nick knew the female lynx had been very stupid, and had learned her lesson the hard way.

     “If it was cubs you wanted, we could have had a cub Ellie,” Nick mewed, “I love cubs, you know that.”

      “No, I didn’t go with Clarence because I wanted cubs, sure I had one with him, but that wasn’t the reason.  I went with him because I couldn’t tell you how I felt about you going on patrol like the rest of them.  It didn’t seem fair that you patrolled like the others, not after what you’d gone through.  I wanted you there all the time, and because you weren’t there, I chose to get at you by playing away as it were.  I lost everything, including you Nick,”  Ellie replied.

     “I love you Ellie,” Nick mewed, kissing her on her nose, “I love you so much.”

     “Even after what I did to you?”  Ellie asked.

     “Even after that,” Nick replied, almost sobbing, “I might have said that I didn’t love you, even tried to convince myself I didn’t, but I do love you Ellie.  I love you from your nose to your toes.  I wish I’d been there when you had your cub!”  Nick sobbed.

      “I wanted you there Nick,” Ellie mewed, “deep down I wanted you with me.”  Nick clung to Ellie, Ellie purring as he embraced her.     

     “Please, tell me about the birth of your cub Ellie,” Nick said.  Ellie did so, missing nothing, even describing how fleur had helped bring their cub into the world.

     “Thank you Ellie,” Nick said gently, embracing her tightly.  Ellie smiled:

     “I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time,” she purred.  Nick looked at the tiny cross bred cub Ellie had given birth to.  Sensing this, the cub crawled forward and felt for one of Nick’s huge forepaws.  When he’d found one, he held it tightly in both of his.

    “Despite how I was made, I am more lynx than lion,” the cub said, “I can feel it.”  Nick smiled and kissed the cub on his nose.

      “I like it when you do that,” the cub said.  Nick enfolded the cub in a huge embrace.

 

Allie watched Ellie, Nick and their cub, Glad the two adult lynx had got back together.  She knew her and Nick’s relationship wouldn’t have lasted long, and also knew it would never work in the long run.  They were both desperate for fun, and they’d had fun.  Now it was down to serious business for Nick and Ellie, like bringing up cubs, and maybe having more cubs too.  Allie knew her place was with the bears, not the lynx.

 

Clarence felt huge relief when he heard the news of Ellie and Nick’s reconciliation, and further more that Nick was prepared to look after the cross bred cub.  Clarence, while not hating the cub, hadn’t wished for a cub in the first place.  He’d been shocked when Ellie told him she was pregnant, and as fleur and Theo didn’t discuss, let alone practise  such things as pregnancy termination, Clarence couldn’t discuss that with Ellie.

 

Meanwhile, Rani, Raja and their cubs, along with Nick, Ellie and their two cubs, had met up in the cubbing den.  The den, now used as a place for relaxation as well as for cubbing, had recently been extended, the boss installing more cushions and non fibre producing rugs for the four pawed community.  Petra wandered in soon after, and Sally went to meet her, the white lioness hugging the tiger cub in her huge paws.

      “We’d better name our newborn cub,” Nick said to Ellie, “what name do you suggest?”  Pipin and  the cross bred cub played together, Pipin tickling the cub’s paw pads while the cub laughed merrily.

     “How about if we name you Tony?”  Pipin suggested.  The cross bred cub smiled at him, managing to free one paw from Pipin’s possession and tickle Pipin’s pads, Pipin laughing merrily.

     “Tony it is then,” Ellie mewed, smiling at her cub.

 

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Martin Wilsher © 2006

 

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