Tinka’s cub’s birth and the return of Kuan-Yin.
While all the merriment went on in the pool complex, Salty and the badgers buried the bodies of blanche and Amber. Tib presided, making sure the job was done properly.
Once the snow leopard’s bodies were buried, Tib led the way back to the house. There she left Salty and the badgers to go their separate ways. Salty padded back to his bed and stretched out on it, thoroughly exhausted. While he was settling down, Tinka and Hop along arrived and flopped down on their rug. They looked very happy indeed with something, but Salty didn’t know what. Had they found the cream? Salty watched the happy couple as they settled down, Tinka now most definitely in cub, maybe it was this which they were so happy about. Salty smiled as he watched Tinka and Hop along stroking each other’s paws, then with more interest as Hop along drummed with the toes of his paws on Tinka’s belly, obviously getting reaction from her unborn cub.
Tinka smiled at Hop along, laughing as he tickled her belly and the pads of her paws.
“I hope our cub feels some of this,” she mewed. Hop along drummed gently on Tinka’s belly and when he felt the cub’s paw pressed hard against his, he tickled Tinka’s belly where he thought the pads of the cub’s paw were. Tinka laughed, and the cub kicked enthusiastically. Tinka pressed her paws into Hop along’s as he stroked her, wishing for a speedy labour so they could meet their new cub.
Tinka’s labour started late one afternoon, a few weeks later. Hop along lay beside Tinka, stroking her paws and belly while talking gently to her and their unborn cub. Even though he talked to the cub, Hop along knew the cub was more concerned with what was happening to it, as they all were. Hop along and Tinka played the paw drumming game, but soon even that was too much for Tinka as her contractions became more frequent and powerful. Soon Tinka was crushing Hop along’s paws, not patting them.
“Just do what you feel like doing,” Hop along said gently to his mate.
Fleur watched from a short distance away, keeping an eye on developments, but not interfering, as she’d told hop along all she knew. the one thing fleur had not done was ask someone like Snowy to re-enact a cubbing, which now she wished she’d done. That way, Hop along could see how his mate might act during different stages of her labour without any fear of problems.
Tinka clenched her teeth, gripping the carpet with the toes of her hind paws, and Hop along’s left forepaw with both her forepaws. Then, taking a firm hold on carpet and paw, braced herself as she bore down against her cub. Fleur heard Tinka’s efforts, and then, saw the cub’s forepaws. Tinka bore down against her cub, and its head and forelegs emerged. Tinka, realising her cub was now very much on its way, pushed harder than ever, the cub’s shoulders giving some resistance as it was a large cub, but then, as Tinka exerted maximum pressure, the cub shot forth, Tinka mewing and pawing at the carpet and Hop along. Tinka knew her cub was almost born, and panting, watched as it slid into the world. One final effort from Tinka brought the cub fully into the light of day, and Tinka lay exhausted on the carpet. Tinka’s labour had been swift, the transition from light contractions into heavy labour lasting only twenty minutes, the cub being born ten minutes after that. Tinka had got her fast labour, but it had been strenuous work. The speed of Tinka’s labour meant she’d had her cub on the living room floor, in full public view. While Hop along had done his best to shield events from the world, it was quite obvious what was going on. Tinka now lay, her strength spent. Her cub, who’d begun crawling about soon after her birth, was soon drinking busily. Tinka, her eyes closed, reached out with both paws and touched her cub, who briefly paused in her drinking to nuzzle her pads. Hop along laughed with relief.
“it’s a lovely cub Tinka,” Hop along mewed. The cub, her belly now full of milk, crawled to Tinka’s head, where she touched her nose with her fat paws, Tinka finding the cub with her own huge paws. The cub worked her way between Tinka’s well padded paws, wriggling so Tinka’s pads traced all over her body, from her nose to the pads of all four of her large fat paws. Hop along stared at the scene in front of him in shocked horror!
“What the hell’s our cub up to?” He asked. Fleur, seeing what the cub was up to, couldn’t stop laughing long enough to answer him.
“It, it, it’s so lovely,” she said, “but looks so funny too! The cub’s showing Tinka what her fur feels like when she touches her. The cub obviously thinks Tinka’s unable to see her, so she’s making sure Tinka gets a good tactile image of her.
“Do you like how I feel?” The cub asked, wiggling the toes of her left hind paw so they drummed on the pads of Tinka’s forepaws, which still held the cub’s tiny paw.
“I do, I do!” Tinka mewed, opening her eyes and looking straight into her newborn female cub’s face for the first time. As well as having soft fur, fat paws and a long thick tail, she was a beautiful cub. Tinka gathered the large cub to her, the cub snuggling into her mother’s hug. Hop along watched his mate and their cub, seeing similarities between them.
“She’s got your tail Hop along,” Tinka purred.
“And your paws,” Hop along replied, “look at them! They’re massive!” The female cub let Tinka take hold of her right forepaw, only to curl her fat little toes round Tinka’s and hold her mother’s paw tightly.
“You taught me to touch,” the cub mewed. Tinka kissed the cub on her nose.
“We both love you,” Tinka mewed. The cub felt a huge form looming over her, then felt a nose brushing her ear, whiskers tickling her as Hop along kissed her. Hop along lay down and the cub let him take her in his huge paws, snuggling up to him and burying her face in his fur. the cub began to tap the pads of Hop along’s right forepaw with the toes of both her forepaws, and Hop along returned her gesture, the cub smiling and enveloping his paws in hers.
“You are lovely little one,” Hop along mewed, “lovely from your nose, to the end of your long tail and the tips of the toes of all your four paws.”
“I like my paws,” the cub said, “I can find out so much with them!” Hop along smiled and touched the pads of his cub’s fat left forepaw. The cub gripped Hop along’s paw in both of her fat ones, holding it tightly. Tinka watched all this, smiling at her cub and mate’s antics.
“I want my paws stroked too!” She mewed. Hop along and their cub crawled towards Tinka, stopping beside her. Fleur crawled up behind Hop along and began to stroke the pads of his left hind paw, Hop along wiggling his toes in thanks to her. Once fleur had finished her work, she walked away.
“Fleur’s wonderful,” Tinka mewed. Hop along grinned and touched her paw.
“Who’s fleur?” the cub asked.
“Fleur’s one of the most gentle cubs we know,” Tinka mewed, “she’s got the softest paws, the gentlest nature, and the most wonderful touch.”
“Does she like her paws stroked?” The cub asked.
“She does,” Hop along replied.
“I love having my paws stroked,” the cub mewed. The sound of large paws coming near made the cub turn an ear towards the sound.
“I do like having my paws stroked little one,” Fleur purred, taking the cub’s paw in hers. The tiger cub mewed with surprise at how warm Fleur’s paws were.
“Could, could I stroke you fleur?” The cub asked. Fleur rolled over onto her side and gathered the cub to her.
“Find my nose little cub, then find my toes,” Fleur said. The cub touched Fleur’s nose, then traced over her body with her paws, until she came to the pads of Fleur’s own paws. Fleur curled her toes gently round the large cub’s as she stroked her pads.
“I like your fur and paws,” The cub mewed, “Fleur, do you like your fur and paws?” Fleur smiled and held the cub’s left forepaw with her right hind.
“I do little cub, I do,” she mewed. The tiny tiger cub traced round Fleur’s pads with the toes of one paw, then drummed on Fleur’s pads. Fleur rolled onto her chest, curled the toes of her left forepaw round those of the cub’s right forepaw and crawled away, guiding the cub to her rug, where she released the cub’s paw, rolled over and embraced her. Tinka and Hop along’s cub snuggled into Fleur’s hug.
“I love you little one,” Fleur mewed. The large cub snuggled as close to Fleur as she could, working her paws into her fur. fleur drummed gently on the pads of the cub’s left forepaw, the cub returning her gesture with practised ease.
“I like that game,” she mewed. Fleur smiled, knowing why. Fleur held the female tiger cub tightly, the cub snuggling hard into her thick fur.
“You have lovely thick fur Fleur,” the cub said. She picked up one of Fleur’s huge forepaws and explored it with hers.
“Your paws are huge too!” she mewed. Fleur purred as she felt the affects of the paw massage.
“Keep stroking Fleur’s paws little one,” Tinka mewed, “she likes that.” The newborn cub smiled and kept stroking Fleur’s pads. Fleur curled her toes round the newborn cub’s, realising she and the cub had much in common, both having fat paws and a long tail. Fleur wrapped her tail round the cub, tickling the pads of her left hind paw with the tip. The cub laughed, holding tightly onto Fleur’s left forepaw with both of hers.
“Can I stroke your hind paws Fleur?” The cub asked. Fleur shook her left forepaw free of the large cub’s and guided her paws to the pads of her left hind paw. The cub began to stroke Fleur’s pads, the huge cross bred cub curling her toes round the cub’s.
“We both have fat paws!” The cub whooped. Fleur smiled, drumming on the cub’s toes with hers.
“We do,” Fleur purred. The cub explored Fleur’s right hind paw with her forepaws, examining pads and toes with infinite care. Fleur had retracted her claws, so she didn’t inadvertently injure Tinka and Hop along’s newborn cub. Fleur pressed her pads against the cub’s, the tiny creature laughing as she felt Fleur’s pressure.
“Those two really have hit it off haven’t they,” Tinka mewed. Hop along smiled as he watched his cub tickling Fleur’s right hind paw, Fleur laughing helplessly.
“That’s enough little one!” fleur said, gently withdrawing her paw, The cub throwing her paws round Fleur’s neck and hugging her. Fleur purred in the cub’s ear, the cub settling down, basking in the warmth of Fleur’s thick fur.
“Can I hug my cubs?” Tinka asked, struggling to her paws. Fleur saw how exhausted Tinka still was.
“Come,” Fleur said, “I’m sorry Tinka.” Tinka hugged her newborn cub and then hugged fleur.
“you are my cub too Fleur,” Tinka mewed, nuzzling her cheek and licking her ear. Fleur purred contentedly, letting Tinka stroke her left forepaw.
“You and my newborn cub do have a lot in common,” Tinka said, stroking Fleur’s paw, “fat, well padded paws, soft fur, long tails, and a love of physical contact.” Fleur and Tinka’s newborn cub tried to hug her simultaneously, Tinka laughing merrily and doing her best to embrace both of them.
“Shall we go to the pool?” Tinka asked. Fleur looked at Tinka and Hop along’s large cub.
“Let’s all go to the pool,” she said, “There we can have a lot of fun.” Tinka went to pick her cub up by the scruff of her neck, but the cub shook her off.
“I want to crawl like Fleur does,” the cub mewed. Tinka looked concerned:
“You’re not old enough for that yet,” she said.
“Can I try? Please?” The cub asked. Tinka looked at Hop along, who smiled at her.
“Let her try,” he said, “that way, if she can crawl all’s well, and if she can’t, all’s well too.” Tinka helped her cub onto all fours, and then Fleur supported her while she tried to crawl. The cub managed a little crawling, but soon her strength gave out and she collapsed onto the carpet in an undignified heap of mewing, spitting fury.
?”Crawling’s not for you yet little one,” fleur purred, “why not let your mum carry you?”
“I don’t want mum to carry me!” the cub protested, “I want to crawl like you do fleur!” Fleur helped the cub up onto all fours again, and she set off once more, managing this time to get her fore and hind legs working in some kind of rhythm.
“Take it Gently,” Fleur advised. The cub, so happy at being able to crawl, overdid things and ended up in a heap once more. This time though, she rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air for joy, much to the amusement of Fleur and her parents. Fleur laughed, caught hold of the cub’s left forepaw with hers, and tickled her pads, the cub playfully nibbling at her paw.
“Let’s go,” fleur mewed, helping the newborn cub up onto all fours once more. The cub stayed on all fours this time, and Fleur took her gently through the process of crawling. Once the cub got the hang of it, she was off, racing fleur, who easily caught her and bowled her over, tickling her belly and the pads of all four paws. The newborn cub loved this, and begged for more. Fleur obliged, tickling the cub’s hind paws until she could take no more.
“Okay, okay!” the cub said, laughing helplessly, “You can stop now! Please stop!” fleur stopped tickling the cub’s pads and hugged her tenderly.
“My paws are tingling!” the cub mewed. Fleur rubbed her pads, and very soon the tingling vanished. The large cub pressed her paws into Fleur’s, enjoying her attention.
“I know another cub who reacts to a paw massage like that,” Hop along mewed. Fleur smiled at him. The female tiger cub suddenly rolled onto her paws and tickled Fleur’s pads until she laughed as much as she had only a few minutes before. Putting an end to the assault on Fleur’s paws, the large female tiger cub crawled away, fleur following. Whitie, who’d been lying a short way off listening to all the goings on, mewed with surprise as one of the large female tiger cub’s forepaws landed smack on one of her own.
“I’m so sorry,” The tiger cub mewed. Whitie, her paw still beneath that of the tiger cub, sniffed slightly. The fat newborn cub’s touch had brought on a rush of emotion which Whitie couldn’t explain.
“Did I hurt you?” the fat female tiger cub asked.
“No,” Whitie sniffed, struggling to hold back tears, “no, you didn’t hurt me.” On an impulse, the female tiger cub felt her way over Whitie’s body, until she got a good idea of how large the snow leopard was, Then, very gently, she hugged Whitie. Whitie’s control on her emotions snapped and she cried into the tiger cub’s fur.
“What’s wrong?” The tiger cub asked. Whitie, still crying, wiped her eyes with her free forepaw.
“I don’t know,” she sobbed. The tiger cub stroked Whitie with both her huge fat forepaws, running them from Whitie’s nose, to the end of her tail, as well as rubbing her pads and toes, anything to calm the weeping snow leopard.
“Your paws are so soft and warm little one,” Whitie choked. She picked up one of the female tiger cub’s forepaws and stroked it with hers.
“You have big paws, with fat toes and thick warm pads, just like mine and Fleur’s,” Whitie mewed. The cub curled her toes round Whitie’s, the snow leopard kissing her on her nose, then kissing the paw holding hers.
“I don’t know your name,” the tiger cub said, “but I think you could do with a hug.” Dropping Whitie’s paw, the female tiger cub enveloped her in the biggest hug she could manage. Whitie felt the cub’s well padded paws enveloping her, the cub’s fat toes curling gently into her fur and holding her firmly. Whitie wrapped her own paws round the tiger cub in an effort to match her hug.
“You do need a hug don’t you,” the female tiger cub purred. Whitie couldn’t answer, for tears nearly choked her.
“Hold me, please!” Whitie pleaded. The large female cub held Whitie tightly, while trying not to dig in her claws. Whitie’s tears dried after a short while, and she released the tiger cub.
“What’s your name?” Whitie asked the cub.
“I don’t have one yet,” The tiger cub replied, “I’m not yet a day old.”
“I thought I heard something going on down here,” Whitie said, “so I came down to see what was going on, and by the time I’d made it, things had calmed down.”
“What you heard Whitie, would have been me giving birth to my cub,” Tinka said.
“It was a pain filled sound,” Whitie mewed.
“That would be it then,” Tinka replied, “I’m a wimp when it comes to labour.”
“This cub is lovely though Tinka,” Whitie mewed.
“I wouldn’t have changed a thing about her birth Whitie dear,” Tinka said.
“What shall we name you?” Hop along asked his cub.
“I don’t know,” the cub replied, “it’s not for me to choose a name for myself.”
“how about the name Pakshalika,” Whitie suggested, “it means “on The Right Path, and is another name for the Goddess Lakshmi.” The cub smiled at Whitie.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to say that,” she said, “but I’ll have a go.”
“Just take it slowly,” Whitie advised, “break the name down into parts, Pak, sha, lika. Now you try:
“Pak, sha, lika?” The cub asked.
“Yup, now run the whole word together,” Whitie replied.
“Pakshalika,” the cub said. Whitie almost leapt for joy!
“You’ve got it!” she whooped. Pakshalika hugged Whitie tightly.
“I love my name,” the cub mewed, snuggling up to Whitie and burying her face in the snow leopard’s thick fur.
“Let’s go to the pool,” Fleur suggested. Pakshalika, Fleur and the two adult tigers padded out of the house and round to the main doors of the pool complex. Placing her paw on the paw print reader, Fleur waited for the doors to unlock. they did, and Fleur led the way into the pool complex. Crawling in, Pakshalika felt the soft non slip flooring beneath her paws, and paused to bounce on her toes as best she could in her current position to feel the springy surface beneath her pads. Tinka watched her cub’s antics, and decided she’d join in, bouncing on her toes and playing up to the others. While she was at this, she saw a large panda padding into the complex, and suddenly she thought she recognised him.
“Kuan-Yin?” Tinka asked, “what on earth are you doing back here? I thought you didn’t like this place!”
“I can’t stand being alone!” Kuan-Yin sobbed, “I’ve been watching your cub’s birth, and then her interaction with you, Hop-along and fleur, I realised I wanted some of that, I wanted my paws stroked, my belly rubbed, all that. Being out in the wood, cold and alone is not my idea of fun. I want to be hugged Tinka! Please!” Tinka hugged Kuan-Yin tightly.
“You will find Yi Jie and Shuang will be very glad to see you back with them.” As she spoke, the scuffing of paws announced the arrival of Yi Jie and her cub. Kuan-Yin turned, saw his mate and cub and ran to them, weeping and throwing his paws round first his cub, then his mate.
“Take me home!” he sobbed. Yi Jie massaged Kuan-Yin’s paws, then guided him to the bath pool, and to Fleur, who, when she saw the male panda, stopped stroking Whitie’s paws, turned and hugged him.
“I feel you are ready to accept our way of life?” fleur asked. Kuan-Yin replied that he was, totally and completely. Fleur stroked the male Panda’s belly and the pads of his paws, Kuan-Yin genuinely enjoying every minute. Fleur worked on the male panda for a few minutes, then turned her attention away, as Whitie had begun to stroke Kuan-Yin’s paws. Fleur turned her attention to Pakshalika, who had swum up beside her. Drawing the cub near, fleur settled her on a ledge and began to massage her belly and paws. Pakshalika held Fleur’s paws briefly in hers while the large cross bred cub massaged her. Pakshalika particularly enjoyed catching hold of the toes of Fleur’s forepaws with those of her hind paws, holding the cross bred cub’s paw as tightly as she could. The female tiger cub also took great delight in kicking hard against the water with her hind paws while they were not being massaged, as well as lashing the water into white foam with her long thick tail. Fleur, choking on the water, put an end to the cub’s attempts to make a mini tsunami by gently placing the toes of one of her forepaws on the end of the cub’s tail, while using the other to tickle the pads of one of her hind paws. This put an end to Pakshalika’s tail lashing all right, for the cub couldn’t stop laughing long enough to lash the water, let alone kick at it.
Got you!” Fleur laughed. Pakshalika suddenly wriggled like an eel and freed herself, sweeping round in a tight arc to embrace Fleur with both forepaws. Fleur rolled onto her side and held the newborn cub against her chest with both her huge fat forepaws.
“I love all this,” Pakshalika mewed, “I don’t want it to end Fleur.” Fleur knew what the cub meant.
“Shall we go on an adventure?” Fleur asked the tiny cub. Pakshalika playfully batted at Fleur’s whiskers with her paw.
“Where shall we go?” The cub asked.
“We could go to the waterslide,” fleur mewed. Pakshalika, now interested, gently took hold of Fleur’s paw and stroked it.
“What’s one of those?” She asked.
“It’s a hill with water running down it,” fleur mewed, “we go down it very fast, and then water catches us at the bottom.” Pakshalika smiled and tickled Fleur’s pads.
“I’d like that,” she mewed. Fleur gently pushed Pakshalika away, rolling onto her paws and letting the cub take hold of her long tail so she could guide her from the water. Once they were on dry land, Tinka approached them and told Pakshalika she needed to eat sometime soon. Pakshalika mewed that she was about to go on an adventure with Fleur.
“An adventure to where?” Tinka asked, suspecting she already knew.
“To ride on something called a waterslide,” Pakshalika replied. Tinka gripped the tiles with her toes to stop herself from flying at fleur.
“No fleur no!” She yelled, “Pakshalika’s too young for that!”
“She’ll be safe, I promise,” fleur mewed.
“No, no, and no again!” Tinka yelled, “Is she my cub or yours?”
“She’s your cub Tinka,” fleur mewed.
“Then what I say goes!” Tinka yelled, “Pakshalika’s too young and too small!”
“but mum,” Pakshalika mewed, “I want to go on this adventure!”
“No no no!” Tinka screamed, stamping her paws! Pakshalika hid her face behind her paw, obviously frightened.
“My anger isn’t at you Pakshalika,” Tinka said gently, it’s at this stupid cub!” Tinka tried to cuff fleur, the cross bred cub dodging her swiping paw with practised ease. Tinka lowered her paw and glared at Fleur.
“Don’t hit her!” Snowy snapped, her voice coming sharp and clear over the loud speakers. Tinka looked up into the camera, which had swivelled to focus on her.
“I hate you!” She yelled, stamping her paws in fury!
“The cameras can see into the slides,” snowy said, “we can keep an eye on your cub as she travels down the slide. Pakshalika will be safe with fleur.” Tinka spat at the camera.
“That’s disgusting,” Snowy said, “that kind of behaviour is beneath you Tinka.” Tinka stormed off.
“You can look after the bloody cub!” she snarled.
“Now that’s horrible,” Theo mewed, “Pakshalika isn’t responsible for this, and nor is Fleur. Fleur is warden of the water, and will look after your cub as if she’d born her herself.” Tinka spun round on Fleur.
“If anything, anything! Happens to Pakshalika Fleur, I’ll rip your paws off, then tear off your tail, then bite off your head!” a sudden roar of rage rent the air, and Theo came bounding into the main pool area, heading straight for Tinka!
“How dare you threaten my cub!” He yelled. Tinka turned and fled, leaping into the pool to escape Theo’s fury! Theo leapt into the pool, swimming fast after Tinka, who splashed across the pool, Theo’s teeth inches from her tail! Scrambling out of the pool, ?Tinka started running for her only escape route, up the sloping passage to the slides. Theo, now snarling and wuffing, increased his speed, snapping at Tinka’s tail! Tinka mewed and cried for mercy, throwing herself down the slide in a final effort to escape Theo’s teeth! Tinka, screaming and yelling, shot down the slide, Theo’s roaring echoing down the tube. Theo left off, satisfied he’d warned Tinka off. Hop along ran up behind Theo.
“I thought Tinka trusted Fleur!” Hop along panted.
“I thought she did too, but it doesn’t seem that way,” Theo replied.
“Tinka’s now left the building,” snowy said, “I’ve locked her out.”
“What about my cub’s food!” Hop along mewed, “I can’t feed her, only Tinka can!”
“Hop along,” Elsa purred, “you need not worry about Pakshalika being fed, for it is not just Tinka who has milk for her cub.”
“What on earth are you on about?” Hop along asked, “surely you aren’t saying others are in milk too? Who’s had a cub recently?”
“Watch the screen in front of you,” Elsa mewed, “what do you see?”
“Snowy, it’s Snowy half tail! What the hell’s she doing in milk! It’s ages since Bianca was born, oh, oh no! There’s going to be a war, a war over the care of a cub! I can see it now! Snowy and Tinka fighting, it’s going to be horrid!” Hop along whimpered.
“Snowy won’t fight Tinka for Pakshalika’s affections,” Elsa purred, “that’s not her way. Snowy will give Pakshalika the same love she gave to fleur, to Whitie, to blanche and Tembi when they were lost cubs. She’s the great protector.”
“This is all too much!” Hop along mewed.
“You’ve heard of the community sticking by its own I hope,” Tigger mewed.
“Well, yes Tigger, I have, but not like this! Does this mean that snowy is in milk whenever new cubs are born to a member of the community?”
“Yes,” Snowy mewed, touching Hop along’s paw. Hop along whipped round, snowy having crept up on him using every trick she knew.
“You little,,, I didn’t hear you padding up behind me!” Hop along growled. Snowy smiled at Hop along and held out her paw to him. Hop along took her paw, feeling her warm soft paw in his. Snowy’s paw was soft, warm and thickly furred.
“I can’t believe you ever had cold paws snowy,” Hop along mewed.
“I had bad circulation in my paws,” Snowy mewed, “but now, now I get regular paw massages, I have no problems with poor circulation to my paws. Hop along kissed Snowy’s paw, snowy smiling at him.
“If Tinka feels too stressed to feed Pakshalika, I will feed her until Tinka feels like she can feed her again,” Snowy said. Hop along kissed Snowy on her nose, Snowy nuzzling his whiskers, purring contentedly.
“You really don’t mind who’s cubs you look after do you snowy,” Hop along mewed, his eyes filling with tears, “you just want to protect all cubs, take them all in your paws and embrace them, comfort them, even love them with all you have.” Snowy smiled.
“I will love your cub as if she’s mine, and so Will fleur,” snowy purred. Hop along buried his face in Snowy’s fur.
Tinka, realising she’d been locked out of the complex, banged on the door with the flat of her paw for some time before giving up. She realised she’d overreacted to the situations she’d been put into, and that now snowy and the others with the technological know-how were having their revenge on her. Tinka knew Pakshalika would be safe, that no harm would come to her, and that if the cub was hungry, someone would find milk to feed her. Tinka knew of Snowy’s loving and protective nature, and reasoned that this could stretch to providing milk for needy cubs. In this she was correct, but to assume others would look after her cub was a grave mistake.
Theo read Tinka’s thoughts, and didn’t like what he saw. If she was so confident in the community’s care for her cub, then why did she go off the handle at fleur when fleur suggested going on the slide? Theo didn’t know the answer to this question, but he was determined to find out.
“Tinka,” Theo said, padding up behind her, Having ran down the fire escape. Tinka turned to see the young lion padding towards her.
“Is my cub all right?” Tinka asked.
“She is,” Theo mewed, “but I know what you were thinking, you knew others would find food for your cub, if you hadn’t known this, you wouldn’t have left the building. You would have fought tooth and claw to stay with your cub, and you didn’t. Tinka, you didn’t fight for your cub, but you were quite prepared to do fleur physical harm if she injured your cub. So it’s all right for you to abandon your cub, knowing others will most likely take her on, but it’s not ok for someone like Fleur to take your cub on a slide, with all the knowledge and cameras in the world to ensure her safety? You freaked out at the prospect of a two minute slide ride, but are prepared to leave your cub in the paws of others?”
“You locked me out!” Tinka mewed, “I walked out to think! You’d just chased me down that bloody slide! How else was I meant to feel, other than frightened?”
“You threatened my cub,” Theo mewed, “I think that deserves retribution, don’t you?” Tinka looked down at her paws.
“Look,” she said, “I’m sorry, “I think of fleur as a
cub, for she is to me, and to Hop along too.
Though he thinks of her as older than I think of her. Hop along, well, he knows things, feels
Fleur’s true age in the way she tends to his injured paw, knows her wisdom,
knows her better than anyone but you,
“Believe me when I say this Tinka,” Theo said, “fleur will let no harm come to Pakshalika. None at all.”
“yes,” Tinka mewed, “I see that now.
“Come back in then, and let’s find your cub,” Theo mewed.
Meanwhile, Kuan-Yin, Shuang and Yi Jie were playing easily in the main pool. Kuan-Yin had been accepted whole heartedly by his cub and mate, both glad he’d come to his senses and realised that the wood was no place for him to be. Now he was being massaged from the tip of his nose to the pads of his paws by Yi Jie and Shuang, and loving every minute of it.
Tinka padded into the pool complex and went immediately to Fleur who glanced at her, then turned her back on her.
“fleur, please,” Tinka mewed, “I know I was wrong, I know you wouldn’t put Pakshalika in any danger. I was stupid, ignorant of everything, noticing nothing of anything. Worse, I ignored what my eyes, paws and senses told me. I knew you’d taken Bianca on the slide when she was young, I knew Jespah had ridden it safely too. I shouldn’t have tried to hit you, or threatened you with harm. What was I thinking! I’m sorry fleur, really I’m sorry!” Fleur knew Tinka’s words to be truthful, her remorse genuine.
“I love your cub as if she’s my own,” fleur mewed, “I wouldn’t hurt her, or put her in dangerous situations!”
“I know, I know!” Tinka mewed, staring down at her paws, “I was dreadful to you fleur, and Theo made me pay for my behaviour! He chased me down the slide!” Fleur looked at Tinka.
“You know Theo wouldn’t hurt you if he got hold of you,” she said, “he’s not like that, but then again, he might, depending. Anyone threatening to tear the tail off his cub won’t endear themselves to Theo.” Tinka miserably rounded up Pakshalika and walked away, leaving Fleur alone. Whitie crawled up to fleur, fleur hugging her tightly.
“From one cub with thickly furred paws to another,” Fleur mewed. Whitie snuggled close to fleur, pressing her face into the cross bred cub’s fur.
“Everything’s okay Whitie,” fleur mewed. Whitie breathed deeply, trying not to cry.
“When, when Pakshalika touched my paw, for, for a moment, it felt like blanche’s paw when she was newborn and used, for a brief time, to love me, I know it sounds strange, but, but there was pure love in her touch, and she even hugged me, and she didn’t know me! It was lovely fleur, that’s what upset me.”
“Pakshalika has a lot of love to give to those who want and deserve her love,” she mewed.
“I can feel that,” Whitie said.
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