Keeping in touch.
With Aslan under Hop along’s supervision for the foreseeable future, Samson and his community could get on with living their lives. Since Allie and Samson’s encounter in the control room, where he’d stroked her paws to the pleasure of her and him alike, the male lion and female polar bear would spend many an hour stroking each other’s paws. Samson liked Allie because she was gentle and also for the fact she was a bear, and she liked him because he could give her pleasure which Sam, though invited to do so, refused to give her. Sam, confused about how to pleasure a female polar bear, had to be led through everything by Allie, and this was becoming a strain on their relationship. Allie still loved Sam dearly, and knew he loved her, but his love was visual love, he loved her from a distance, whereas she wanted physical love. Mating wasn’t a problem, Sam could do that, but he hardly touched her, hardly used his paws for anything bar walking. In the early days Allie remembered their love making to be very paws on, but no more. The rot had set in after the births of Orsa and Bjorn. The sight of Allie in labour had obviously turned Sam off mating with her, even though Allie told him countless times that despite her moaning and panting during her labour, she’d actually enjoyed giving birth to her cubs once she had a distraction from her pain. Allie found the birth process fascinating and paw play stimulating. Allie wanted Sam to play with her paws, to stroke her pads and tickle her toes, but he wouldn’t. Samson on the other hand, would play with Allie’s paws until she got bored.
Samson and Allie met for one of their paw play sessions in a room they’d found. It had a camera, and Allie was certain Sam knew of her and Samson’s playtimes, though he’d said nothing yet. Opening the door, they were confronted by Sam, who looked at Allie and Samson.
“You two look like you’re excited about something,” he said. Samson looked at Allie.
“Samson and I stroke each other’s paws,” Allie said shame faced, “I need it Sam, I need my paws touched and stroked!”
“How much have you told him?” Sam asked, more anxious Allie hadn’t told Samson about his and her lack of physical contact and how much it hurt her.
“Nothing,” Allie replied, “Samson just stroked my paws one day after my run in with Theo and I got to like it, as did he.”
“I wondered how it was you were so happy,” Sam said, “you suddenly became lighter on your paws, more the Allie I used to know. I know I’m a lousy physical lover, I just can’t do the paw play thing which you love so much!”
“Maybe Samson could help us there,” Allie replied.
“He can’t teach me,” Sam said, “I know all the moves, I just don’t like it.”
“Well,” Samson replied, “I don’t know what you want me to do then. I can leave now and I promise never to touch Allie’s paws again.”
“No!” Sam said sharply, “I didn’t mean it like that! I, I, we, want you to carry on playing with her if she wants it too. I, I can’t! I know you love bears Samson, and that all you wanted to do that first time when you stroked Allie’s paws was comfort her after she’d been berated by Theo. I saw that, I saw how you two played together. Why do you think I haven’t said anything before this? It’s because I like seeing Allie happy. She loves the paw play so much, and I can’t give her that. If it were another bear giving her the pleasure she craves, then I’d be more concerned, but you’re a lion, so that’s all right. I want you to enjoy yourselves, for it’s only with both enjoying the stroking sessions that Allie gets her playtime. She loves paw play, and so do you, so play together!” Allie saw the intensity and relief on Sam’s face as he expressed his heart felt views. Once the torrent slowed, Allie took Sam’s paw and tried to hold it, but he withdrew it.
“Sam,” she said, “I wanted you to know what Samson’s been doing for me from the start, but I couldn’t tell you properly. I wanted to let you know how the paw play makes me feel. It’s liberating, it’s as if I’m young again when I play those stupid cubbish games. You won’t play those games, and yet all it is is stroking the pads and toes of your hind paws with your fore, and letting the other player stroke them too, then you stroke their paws, and they stroke their paws if they can. We chase each other round and round, trying to tickle the soles of each other’s paws. Then we stroke pads and toes, and that’s it. It’s focused on the paws, always the paws, nowhere else on our bodies. Samson likes me and I like him, but we don’t love each other. Our paws are very compatible though, and that’s good for both of us.”
“I watch you every time,” Sam said, “It looks like you both have a lot of fun, and that’s wonderful. I’m sorry Allie, sorrier than I can tell you that I can’t give you what you want.” Allie impulsively leant forward to kiss Sam on his nose, the polar bear flinching away. Allie’s [pain was clear to see.
“So you want me to play with Samson rather than with you?” She asked.
“Yes Allie, I do!” Sam replied, “I don’t like physical contact, that leads to more intimate things, and then to you in pain while having cubs!”
“I wanted cubs, and so did you,” Allie replied, “I didn’t mind the pain when we controlled it with paw play. Before that it was horrible, but paw play soothed most of the pain, and from then on I enjoyed birthing our cubs. That was why I wanted it filmed, so I could relive my joy of having two wonderful cubs with the bear I love. I want you to realise I didn’t mind the discomfort, the effort and the sweat. I wanted to slow things down for the cub’s sake as well as for my own and paw play did that for me. Now I’m playing with my paws for pleasure. If you say you can’t aid me in that, then so be it.”
“No, I can’t,” Sam replied, “my make up isn’t like that.” Allie looked at Samson.
“You’ve never seen the video of Orsa and Bjorn’s births have you,” she said.
“No,” Samson replied, “but I WILL WATCH IT WITH YOU IF YOU WISH.”
“I’d like you to see it,” Allie said, “I think it would be good to see it and for me to talk you through what I felt.” Sam looked sick.
“Count me out!” He snapped.
“Okay,” Allie said sadly, “ideally I would like to be able to touch you and for you to touch me and for each to give the other pleasure, but that’s not going to happen. I respect your wishes Sam, and am glad you respect mine too. We will go on from here, me loving you as best I can and you loving me as best you can. Please Sam, let me tell you this one last time. If all this is down to the fact you don’t like seeing me in any kind of pain, my labour was painful to begin with, but manageable once Arki got involved.”
“I still can’t stand seeing or hearing it,” Sam whimpered.
“Okay,” Allie replied, “how would it be if I said I actually enjoyed the births of my cubs and it showed me what paw play could be?” Sam shook his head.
“I watched the video once, and to see you squeezing the toes of your hind paws and hearing you groan and pant with pain was bad enough. I won’t make you have cubs again.”
“I wanted cubs, I wanted to have them, and I wanted to remember my labour, that’s why I have a film of it!” Allie yelled, now exasperated, “come on Samson, we’re going!” Allie and Samson walked out, Sam watching them go. Sam left the room, glad he’d aired the subject, even though Allie was exasperated with him.
“At least she knows she can carry on with her and Samson’s paw play sessions.”
Allie and Samson found a DVD player, and Allie soon had the DVD inserted and running. Samson watched everything on the screen, as well as Allie herself. He saw the real Allie stroking the pads and toes of her right hind paw with her left fore, as if she expected labour pain once more.
“Are you sure you like to watch this?” Samson asked, stopping the DVD.
“Yes, it’s okay,” Allie replied, “my paw play is only a subconscious reaction to me seeing another bear playing with her paws, even if it’s me pre-recorded. Seeing the paw play makes me want to play with my paws.” Samson played the rest of the film of the births of Allie’s cubs, and when it was over, he took the real Allie’s free paw.
“That was wonderful,” he mewed, “you did so well!”
“I enjoyed it,” Allie replied, “once the pain was under control, things became easier and I went from fear to fascination, trying to feel everything inside me and outside me too.” Samson began to stroke Allie’s paw, the polar bear smiling and relaxing.
“Stroke my paws Samson, please,” Allie pleaded. Samson did so, examining each of her huge paws with infinite care. His paws, small in comparison, worked over her pads and toes with gentility. Allie sighed deeply as her stress left her. Samson felt her paws relaxing as he stroked the pads and toes of each one. Allie lay down on her side, trying to relax totally. Fleur padded in and watched proceedings, smiling as she recognised some of her own traits in Samson. The urge to massage another animal’s paws was too strong sometimes, and she’d often given in to the plea from a panda or another big cat for her to stroke their paws, which in reality, she’d wanted to do for ages. Fleur grinned at Samson, who looked at her:
“Go on Sammy,” she mewed. Samson smiled:
“How are your paws Fleur darling?” He asked.
“Looking forward to their time for pleasure,” she mewed. Samson grinned, stroking Allie’s left hind paw. Fleur padded forward to watch her mate working. She saw her mate’s toes working over the pads of the polar bear’s paws, the bear herself breathing deeply. Allie curled her toes, bunching her pads, Samson smiling and rubbing the pads in a circular motion, Allie smiling to herself. Allie relaxed her toes, the pads relaxing also. Samson purred to Allie as he worked, the bear smiling at her masseur. Fleur padded from the room, not wanting to disturb them. Allie surfaced slowly, her paws feeling lighter than ever. She wanted more, but knew that to push things too far would end up in a diminishing of the pleasure she got from paw play and massage. Getting to her paws, she raised a paw and touched Samson’s nose with her toes. Samson blew on her pads, Allie laughing merrily.
“Can I stroke your paws Samson?” She asked. Samson smiled, rolled onto his back and waved his paws in the air.
“Come on,” he said. Allie sat down and began to examine Samson’s paws; they were large, but not as large as hers. He had five toes on each forepaw and four on his hind, the toes of each paw having its own pad, and the soles of his paws having three pads just like her own. Allie massaged and stroked Samson’s pads and toes, the lion purring and mewing with pleasure.
“Now I’ve done something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Allie mewed, “I’ve stroked the paws of the king of beasts. Samson smiled at her.
“I loved every minute of it,” he purred.
“It’s all a fresh experience for you every time isn’t it Samson,” Allie said, referring to their paw play.
“Yes,” Samson replied, “and it is for you too I think,” Allie grinned:
“Yup,” she confirmed. Samson picked up one of Allie’s forepaws and began to stroke it.
“I would let you stroke my paws all day,” Allie said. Samson smiled:
“So would I let you do the same for me,” he mewed. Allie embraced Samson in a huge bear hug, gently rocking the lion. Samson purred with pleasure as he felt Allie’s genuine affection for him.
“Allie,” he said, “I wish we didn’t have to do this, that Sam would stroke you and love you like you want him to.” Allie looked at Samson, the lion’s well hidden misgivings about his intimacy with her now plain to see.
“I do too,” she replied, “but he won’t, and I can’t get through to him. Don’t you want to stroke my paws any more then?”
“No, Allie, I’d love to carry on as we are, and I know Sam’s said yes we can, but, but sometimes, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.”
“You are Samson, you are,” Allie said firmly, “if I don’t want you to stroke my paws, I’ll let you know. Right now, I want you to explore my paws from toes to heel pads more than ever! Stroke my paws, rub my pads, tickle and play with my toes, everything like that! Please, within reason, do for me all that Sam will not.” Samson knew what she meant.
“You mean stroke your belly, your ears, your back and your paws, rather than just your paws?” Samson asked. For it were accepted boundaries until then that Samson only had access to Allie’s paws, he unable to touch any other place on her body. Allie had been content with this, but now she was frustrated, and wanted Samson to rub her down with consideration and affection for her.
“Yes Samson, for Sam won’t do it, he doesn’t even let me take his paw or kiss his nose, you saw that!” Allie whimpered, almost sobbing.
“Why stay with him then?” Samson wanted to ask, but didn’t. Allie saw the question in his eyes.
“I don’t know why I stay with him,” Allie confessed, “I’m lonely I suppose, but then again, Sam is lovely to me, even if he doesn’t stroke me.”
“I will stroke your ears, belly and the pads and soles of your paws Allie,” Samson mewed, wondering how it would feel to do this. Would he feel as if he was intruding on Sam’s ground? But then if Allie wanted him to stroke her, then that was surely her choice and not Sam’s, he didn’t own her.
Meanwhile, Nanuq and Brunetta lay together, the previous hour a blur to both of them. They’d mated, that was certain, and Brunetta was happy with that. Brunetta had even joked with Nanuq about, if necessary pulling a cub free from her. Brunetta asked if Nanuq ever got paws on with the births of cubs.” Nanuq replied that he had once before, back a long time ago just before he was captured and imprisoned. A female polar bear had gone into labour, and her cub had become stuck. Nanuq had fought off the other male polar bears who wanted to invade the den and kill the labouring mother. Nanuq had then helped her have her cub by pulling on the cub’s forepaws while she pushed as best she could. To top it all, her second cub was large too, Nanuq helping that one into the world also. The cubs were large, but by listening to the mother and what she wanted, he’d helped her safely deliver her cubs. Nanuq’s eyes filled with tears as he remembered that day.
“The mother heaved and strained to deliver her cubs while I pulled on their paws, then their shoulders when I could reach them. The mother to be let me massage her hind paws between contractions, then it was back to helping the cubs into the world. Once we’d got one cub out, both of us covered in sweat and fluid, for the mother to be kept curling round and reaching down with her forepaws to check on her cub’s progress, we waited for the second cub, it being a long time in coming. The mother delivered her second cub with difficulty, me helping as best I could. The cubs were safely born in the end, and that was wonderful! I never learned the name of the female mother polar bear, though I’ll never forget her.”
“How long ago was this?” Brunetta asked.
“About five years ago, “I’m about eight now. I’ve been here four years.” Nanuq replied. “My imprisonment was brief thank goodness, and now I’m here.”
Allie’s about six,” Brunetta replied, “maybe you ask her if she knows anything, for she was born on the ice. Indeed, she had her first cub in the wild, and she was about three years old at the time. The polar bear mother you helped might be Allie’s mother.” Nanuq gulped hard. If this was the case, it would be a strange thing indeed that he and one of the cubs he saved were living in the same place. Nanuq got to his paws, kissed Brunetta and padded away to find Allie.
Finding Allie in her and Samson’s special place, Nanuq relayed his tale to the female polar bear. Allie thought for a while, then became still.
“My mother told of a huge male polar bear that fought off other males while she was in labour. She said the other males wanted to kill her, and that she couldn’t have her cubs fast enough. We were large cubs, and she thought she and we would die during labour. She said a huge male fought off the hostile bears and helped her have her cubs. She kept a chunk of fur which she’d accidentally ripped from the friendly male polar bear during a particularly fierce contraction where she’d got hold of the bear and ripped at his fur with her claws while in horrendous pain and making great effort to have her second cub. The chunk of fur stayed with her until we left her care. She would periodically sniff the ripped out fur, to remind her of the bear who’d saved her and us.” Allie padded over to Nanuq, and then stopped as his scent filled her nostrils.
“It’s the bear who saved our lives,” she whispered, “I was the second cub born to my mother. Nanuq, dear Nanuq, I didn’t know you were the bear who’d saved me all those years ago! Why remind me of it now? Why not earlier? We’ve known each other for ages!”
“Brunetta and I mated earlier, and we joked about me having to pull a cub from her if she found labour too difficult. I related the story of my only encounter with a mother in labour and Brunetta said you might remember something as you were about the same age as her cubs would be now. I didn’t know for sure you’d be one of the cubs, but you are!” Allie hugged Nanuq tightly, the male polar bear weeping into her fur.
“I wanted to stay with your mother to protect her and her cubs, but she wouldn’t let me,” Nanuq sobbed, “she drove me away when she could, but I never forgot her or her cubs.” Nanuq held Allie tightly, sitting down so he could hug her properly, Allie snuggling up to the huge male polar bear.
“Nanuq, dear sweet Nanuq,” Allie sniffed.”
“What on earth is going on?” Sam asked, padding into the room. Allie, still tearful, told him in a rush which overwhelmed him.
“Slow down!” Sam pleaded. Allie told him again, and this time he understood.
“Wow, what an amazing thing!” Sam exclaimed. Allie clung to Nanuq, Brunetta gasping with surprise as she stuck her head in at the door, searching for her mate, for he’d been away for quite some time.
“So Allie is one of the cubs you saved Nanuq?” Brunetta asked.
“Yes Brunetta, I am,” Allie sobbed.
“Shh my cub,” Nanuq said gently, words which made Allie lose it completely and weep uncontrollably into his fur.
“You never told us about that!” Samson mewed.
“I didn’t consider for one minute that Allie would be one of the cubs I helped into the world,” Nanuq replied, gently rocking Allie in his paws like she was his own cub and soothing cubs was something he’d been programmed to do since birth. Allie calmed down after a while, but the pressure of her toes curled into his fur told Nanuq she was still upset.
“Oh dear,” Allie sniffed, wiping her eyes with her paw, “that’s more than enough shock for one day.” Nanuq looked into Allie’s eyes.
“This is one of the best days of my life,” he said, hugging her hard. Allie kissed Nanuq on the nose, the male polar bear laughing merrily.
“What happened to your mum?” He asked.
“I don’t know,” Allie replied, “when we left her was the last time we saw her. I’ve given birth to and lost a cub since then.”
“She’s also adopted two seals,” Brunetta laughed.
“I know,” Nanuq replied, “they are thinking of returning to the sea though aren’t they?”
“Yes,” Allie replied, “they didn’t like the community life much. I’ll be sad to see them leave, but their lives are their own. For myself though, I’m staying put.” Nanuq rubbed Allie’s back with his paw.
“I love you my cub,” he whispered, making Allie want to cry. Allie looked round her at Brunetta, Samson and Sam.
“Right,” she announced, “I’m okay now.” This elicited smiles all round.
“Has Samson told you he’s a clean freak?” Sam asked. Allie looked at the lion.
“I heard something about you bathing at least once a day,” she said, “but is there more to it I wonder?” Samson grinned.
“I’m kind of, well, addicted to bathing as much as I am to paw massage Allie,” he admitted. Sam looked at Allie.
“So you and Samson are going to bathe each other now?” He asked.
“If you won’t bathe me, then yes,” Allie replied, padding out of the room with the lion leader. Nanuq looked at Sam.
“You won’t even kiss her nose will you,” Nanuq said.
“No Nanuq, you’re right,” Sam replied, “I know it’s not very good.”
“You’ll lose your mate if you don’t try and accommodate her,” Brunetta said.
“I’d not touch her I fear, it’s the possibility we might mate, and that she’ll go through the pain of cubbing again,” Sam replied shamefully, “I can’t stand her being in pain!”
“Labour pain is controllable,” Arki said.
“You had a cub didn’t you?” Brunetta asked.
“I did,” Arki replied, “and with pain control, it was wonderful.”
“How about if when I have my cubs, you watch?” Brunetta asked. Sam stared at her, his eyes on stalks!
“No!” He yelped.
“I’ll get Kalahari to find a book on how the labour process in bears works and he can read it to you,” Nanuq said, “and then you watch Brunetta have her cubs.”
“I will even describe the pain I’m in and what I feel during the birth of the cubs,” Brunetta replied, “you can even touch my paws and, if you’re really feeling brave, touch a cub as it is born.” Sam began to shake with fear.
“I can’t, he said, “but I must conquer this fear if I am to keep Allie.”
Meanwhile, in Samson’s private bathroom, Allie and the lion leader washed each other while chatting.
“Sam’s going to lose me if he doesn’t get over this fear,” Allie said after Samson had talked to her for a long time, explaining how Sam and she could not carry on indefinitely with their current arrangement. Allie held Samson’s paw, knowing he was right.
“Sam must deal with his fear of cubbing then,” Allie mewed.
Samson and Allie, once clean, went back to where Nanuq and Sam were talking. Brunetta lay nearby while she tried to encourage Sam to touch her paws. Brunetta’s liking for physical contact and willingness to let anyone touch her within reason was well known. Brunetta loved physical contact and that was that. She also enjoyed recounting to Nanuq as best she could what her paw massage felt like.
“I can’t touch your paws!” Sam wined, “I can’t even touch my mate’s paws, so how on earth am I going to touch yours?”
“Try it,” Allie said, padding into the room. Sam looked at her, and then sighed heavily.
“All right,” he said gruffly, sitting down and taking Brunetta’s left forepaw in his, exploring it with his paw. Brunetta smiled to herself.
“Nice this,” she said softly, “I feel all light, and the paw you are stroking Sam is the focus of my whole being. I can feel you want to give pleasure to Allie, but you are scared to do so in case that leads to other things. Please, let Allie describe her labour to you. Then you can see me have my cubs, sharing the experience with me. I’m sure Allie would have loved it if you were there during the births of her cubs.”
“I will try and talk to her,” Sam replied faintly.
“Get it from her point of view, warts and all,” Brunetta advised, “then you will be clued up so you can see it for real.”
“You sound like you’re looking forward to having your cubs!” Sam said.
“I am,” Brunetta replied, “I, like Whitie, want to experience it all. I will massage my own paws, but won’t let others massage them unless things get really bad. I want a labour like Allie had.”
“Your labour was horrendous Allie,” Sam said, “you were moaning and whimpering throughout.
“I was yes,” Allie replied, “but some of those sounds were born of exertion, surprise at how a cub emerging felt, all that and more. I’ve wanted to share my cub’s births with you for a long time Sam,” Allie said.
“Share it with me then!” Sam said suddenly, leaping to his paws and running to Allie, “take me upstairs, show me the film of your labour, tell me about it, and make me watch that dam film!” Allie realised Sam was desperate to save their relationship.
“Okay Sam,” she replied, “do you want me to show you what I did to cope with my pain too?”
“How you massaged your paws you mean?” Sam asked.
“Yes,” Allie replied.
“Yes,” Sam replied, “show me all that. I don’t know, do everything but actually give birth to a cub!” Allie smiled.
“We could just settle down together, and then in time, we would be having a cub for real?” She suggested. Sam held up his paw.
“Hang on, not yet!” He cautioned, “I need to know you’re only pretending first, and then maybe later we will try for cubs. For Allie, I want them too, but I wish you didn’t have to go through pain to get them.”
“Let me explain,” Allie said gently “you need to know how it was for me. Let’s go.” With that he took her paw and they left. Brunetta looked at Nanuq.
“Maybe things will be all right,” she said.
Allie and Sam went to their lie up where Allie put the DVD into a player and she and Sam sat back to watch. Sam watched everything. Then they replayed the video, Allie pausing the action to tell Sam what she felt.
“You see here I’m getting hold of one of my hind [paws with my fore?” She asked, “Well that helped because I was thinking about something other than my pain. Arki tells me to concentrate on my hind paw, to focus my world through my paws, which I did. Now moving on,” she pressed play, and Sam watched Allie massaging her hind paws with her fore, the camera showing her sitting face on. The camera focused on Allie’s face, which showed concentration rather than pain, then on her forepaws, the toes of which explored and played with those of her hind paws. Allie clenched her teeth and pressed down hard against her cub, her forepaws gripping the hind paw she held with desperate strength, the toes of her right forepaw squeezing the toes of her left hind paw gripped fiercely in her left fore. Allie opened her mouth and moaned softly, a low sound, full of effort as she pushed down hard. “Here, “the real Allie said, Sam staring at the screen with wrapped attention, “I was pushing against my cubs, it was painful, but I was in control. My paw was something to hold onto and squeeze. It was stroking my paw pads and playing with my toes that gave me relief.” Sam switched off the DVD and went to Allie.
“I’m sorry about all this,” he said, “I wanted to be with you throughout your labour, but I didn’t want to see it, I was too scared. Why should I be scared, when it’s you who are going through it, and you aren’t scared. You were enjoying things when you finally had your cubs, yes you were in pain and trying hard to have them, but you were calm and enjoying the paw play games. Arki and you did a good job together. I should have guessed how in control you were when you started playing with Arki, telling her to do exactly what she was telling you to do.” Allie hugged Sam tenderly.
“I could stroke my paws like I did when I was having my cubs so that when you see Brunetta stroking hers you know what to expect,” Allie suggested.
“We both will,” Sam replied, “you show me what you did, and I’ll copy you.” Allie did so, and Sam was soon pressing the pads of his hind paws against the toes of his fore while pulling back with his forepaws. He even rubbed his paw pads like Allie had in the lull between contractions. While he couldn’t imagine the pain Allie had gone through, Sam could feel the release of endorphins when he rubbed his pads. Pushing with his hind paws while rubbing the pads with his fore. Sam even learned what it was like to play with his paws like a cub would, something he’d never done before. Even that felt good.
“This paw play feels wonderful!” Sam said once Allie had shown him the basics. Allie smiled:
“It’s good isn’t it,” she said, “basic paw play is the foundation of what helped me through labour. I played with my paws, held onto them during contractions, as well as massaged my pads and played with my toes. The main objective of paw play is pain relief through massage and distraction from pain. That way you’re not tensed up all the time and the cubs are born easily. Brunetta will have her own way of doing things, but she’ll play with her paws in a similar way to how we have I think.”
“Will you show her how?” Sam asked.
“No, that’s Arki’s job,” Allie replied.
Indeed, Arki and Brunetta were at that moment playing together, Arki showing the female brown bear various ways to cope with her labour. Brunetta suggested lying on her back and waving her paws in the air while squealing her head off during contractions, but Arki suggested that might not be the best way. Once maybe, but then maybe she’d like to try other methods. That was when they got down to the paw play, which Brunetta hugely looked forward to.
“Contractions are like cramps in your belly,” Arki said, “they will get longer and stronger as labour progresses. I felt like I wanted to relieve myself while bramble was born. Don’t be surprised if you visit the woodland pit more often just before labour starts. We can wash rugs and things, so don’t worry, just concentrate on having your cubs.” Brunetta was reassured by this.
“I like paw play,” she said, “that am exploring my hind paws with my fore, will that work?” Arki nodded.
“Very much,” she replied, “come, let’s play, and I will show you how you might want to bear contractions.” Arki sat down and breathed deeply, pretending she was in increasing pain. While at this, she played with her left hind paw with her forepaws, stroking pads and playing with her toes. When she simulated a contraction by closing her eyes, clenching her teeth and groaning, Arki held tightly onto her left hind paw with one forepaw, the other squeezing the toes of that paw as the contraction peaked and spent itself. As she was coming down from her imaginary contraction, Arki rubbed her paw pads with frantic urgency, slowing as the pain diminished.
“Like that?” Brunetta asked.
“Yup,” Arki replied. Brunetta looked down at her forepaws playing with the toes of her right hind paw. She then cupped her left forepaw around the heel of her right hind paw and gripped hard, feeling her toes digging into her fur. Squeezing the toes of her right hind paw with those of her right fore felt strange, but she was sure it would help during a contraction.
“As the contraction increases, squeeze your toes faster, slowing down as the contraction lessens,” Arki advised. It gives you something to think about.” Brunetta saw the truth in this.
“So paw play and massaging my hind paws with my fore during contractions will slow things down?” She asked.
“Yes, because you are responding to your body, not forcing it to do things it’s not ready for yet,” Arki replied.
“So do what I want to do,” Brunetta replied.
“Yup,” Arki said, hugging her.
“What if my cubs are too big to birth normally?” She asked.
“Fleur has means of increasing contractions, or we could pull the cub if it’s far enough along,” Arki replied, “but relaxing and focusing on your cubs and not your pain does wonders. It loosens everything up. Whitie had a large cub, and all she did to give birth to it was relax. Yes she had to push a bit, but Namir’s fine now.” Brunetta smiled to herself.
“I want to meet my cubs,” she said to Arki. Nanuq, listening to all but not interfering, smiled to himself.
“Hey!” Arki exclaimed noticing him, “you aught to be in on this too! You’re going to be with Brunetta when she has the cubs aren’t you Nanuq?” Nanuq smiled:
“But of course,” he replied.
“Let’s go through it all again!” Brunetta suggested.
“You just want your paws massaged,” Nanuq replied.
“Yes!” Brunetta said, banging her paws on the carpet, “now too!” Nanuq and Arki stroked Brunetta’s fore and hind paws before getting down to business. She showed Nanuq how to encourage Brunetta to stroke her paws by getting her to focus on him stroking his. Nanuq loved this, as Arki knew he would.
“Now try stroking Brunetta’s paws,” Arki suggested.
“This is the best bit,” Brunetta said smiling. Nanuq stroked Brunetta’s paws, and Brunetta was soon curled up with him.
“This is all going wrong!” Arki said exasperatedly, “Brunetta, you’re meant to be having cubs and you’re curling up for sleep!”
“Mothers to be need sleep,” Nanuq said.
“Yes, well, no, not in my classes!” Arki said crossly, “Nanuq, you are meant to be stroking Brunetta’s paws while she is in a comfortable birthing position. Imagine she can’t stroke her own paws, her contractions are too strong and she’s forgotten about stroking her paws to ease her pain. Now you have to do it for her. Brunetta, this involves you too.” Brunetta, tired out, had fallen asleep with her head resting on Nanuq’s shoulder.
“Brunetta!” Arki snapped, feeling dreadful as soon as her words were out, “wake up!”
“What?” Brunetta asked sleepily, “Arki, I’m tired, leave me alone please.”
“You don’t understand!” Arki whimpered, “You are going to have cubs in the next few weeks and I need to teach you how to cope! While I am doing this, you Brunetta, the focus of the whole thing, can think of nothing else but sleeping!”
“Arki, dear Arki,” Nanuq said gently, “Brunetta’s tired, weren’t you tired in the early stages of your pregnancy with Bramble?” Arki thought back to the early days, and yes, she had been tired, and had slept a lot.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry,” Arki said shame faced. Nanuq looked at Arki, and the female polar bear looked so unhappy he gently lady Brunetta’s head down on a folded rug and went to her. Arki was close to tears.
“Hey Arki, don’t cry,” Nanuq said gently, “you haven’t been taught about pregnancy, only birth. Talk to Allie, she’ll know a bit I think.” Arki got to her paws and padded away. Nanuq caught her up and touched her nose with his.
“We all learn,” he said gently. Arki almost choked on her tears.
“I’ve made a bloody ass of myself!” She wailed, “I am meant to be your assistant during Brunetta’s pregnancy and labour and I’m flunking it already!”
“Brunetta is tired, you know how it is, the cubs really take it out of you for the first few weeks of pregnancy, then that wears off and you get sluggish and tired from carrying them inside you. When the time comes for birth, you are exhausted, but need to forget that as you need to put effort into giving birth to the cubs.”
“You sound like you should be taking my job,” Arki said, “you know more than I do. I’ll bet you could help Brunetta on your own.”
“I know the techniques,” Nanuq replied, “I watched yours and Allie’s DVD over and over. Do you realise I watched that DVD without realising I was watching a grown polar bear I knew as a cub having her own cubs?”
You knew Allie as a cub, I remember now,” Arki sniffed, “so you’re sure you know how to help Brunetta?”
“I can’t know for sure,” Nanuq replied, “for she might not want to play with her paws, unlikely, but she might not. I need to be prepared with everything to paw so I can cope.”
“I can’t cope,” Arki admitted, “I’m meant to help Brunetta and bears like her to have their cubs and I screw up the basics! Now, now, it’s you, not me who knows more, and you’re a male polar bear!”
“I learned the basics under a lot of pressure,” Nanuq replied, “I fought for a mother’s life as well as for those of her cubs and also my own. Now I know a lot more.” Arki felt Nanuq’s huge paw on hers and it felt reassuringly warm.
“Thank you Nanuq.” Arki said softly. Nanuq kissed her nose.
“That’s okay,” he said gently, his toes massaging Arki’s. Arki smiled at Nanuq.
“Go back to Brunetta,” Arki said. Nanuq padded away, Arki watching him. He had the biggest paws of any polar bear in the community. Nanuq noticed Arki watching him and raised his right hind paw, wiggling his toes at her. Arki laughed at him, so Nanuq raised his left hind paw and repeated his antics, before turning his head to Arki and raising each forepaw in turn and wiggling the toes of those paws at her. Arki laughed at the male polar bear’s antics, her laughter waking Brunetta, who watched blearily, then began to laugh along with Arki, and even Nanuq saw the funny side.
“I suppose I look silly,” he said. Brunetta and Arki hugged him in turns, Nanuq loving their attention.
Meanwhile, Allie and Sam played with each other’s paws, Sam realising Allie responded to his touch in ways he had never imagined. Her toes curled round his with tender pressure, Sam loving the touch of both Allie’s fore and hind paws. He stroked her paw pads, Allie rubbing back against his touch, sighing with pleasure.
“You see how much I like this?” Allie said. Sam smiled, giving her his left forepaw, which she began to stroke.
“I love you Sam,” Allie said.
“You didn’t need to say that because the touch of your paw told me that.” Sam replied, “But it was nice to hear.”
“Words are cheap, talk is too,” Allie said, “touch though, and that’s sincere, truthful.”
I love your toes curling round mine and holding them!” Sam blurted, “I love touching your paw pads, stroking your belly, all that!”
“I love touching your paw pads and the way your toes curl round mine too,” Allie replied.
“Let’s stroke our own paws again,” Sam suggested.
“Let’s do that very thing,” Allie replied, “do I detect a convert to the cause of paw play?” Allie asked. Sam grinned:
“I am converted, absolutely and totally!” Sam exclaimed. Allie laughed, grabbing Sam’s right hind paw with her left fore and tickling his pads with her right fore. Laughing helplessly, Sam grabbed Allie’s left hind paw in his left fore and tickled her pads with his free forepaw. Laughing helplessly, the two bears released each other’s paws, their pads tingling nicely.
“I love you Sam!” Allie laughed.
“I love you too Allie, and, all through our difficulties I always have!” Sam replied. Allie knew this and hugged her mate hard.
“Enjoy stroking your paws Sam,” Allie said, “take your time, explore your pads and toes, and please try to love your paws!” Sam smiled:
“I will,” Sam replied. Allie watched Sam playing with his hind paws, the male polar bear holding his left hind paw with both forepaws, the toes of his right fore playing with those of his hind paw while his left fore stroked his paw pads. Sam traced the pads of his left hind paw and explored his toes, a huge smile spreading over his face as he settled into the sensations produced by the massage. “This is wonderful, just wonderful!” Sam breathed. Allie smiled and leant forward, kissing Sam’s nose.
Meanwhile, back in the room with Nanuq and Arki, Arki rolled onto her back, playing up to Nanuq, who tickled her paws, Brunetta padding up and setting about tickling her belly. Arki, pinned down by the two bears, wriggled and twisted, laughing hysterically.
“Stop it, stop it!” Arki pleaded as Nanuq transferred his attentions to her hind paws from her fore. Arki squealed with laughter as he tickled her toes.
“Let’s go to the pool complex,” Nanuq said, now stroking Arki’s paws, Brunetta stroking her fore, soothing the exhausted female polar bear. Arki smiled:
“Let’s go,” she said.
On route the bears found Sam and Allie, who in turn, on their own way to the complex, had met up with Tembi and Blanche, the cheetah and her white tiger cub overjoyed at being included in community activities.
Entering the complex, Allie looked into the camera, smiling at those working the control desk. Petra and Simba, in the control room, smiled back at Allie and raised their own paws in greeting, before realising what a silly thing they’d just done, Allie couldn’t see them. Instead, Tigger, in command of the radios, hit a button on the control panel in front of him, and the two white lions spoke to the CCTV commander.
“Hi Allie,” Petra mewed, “how’s the paw massage?” Allie smiled and stood on her hind legs, rubbing her forepaws together, her eyes closed in bliss. Simba laughed merrily.
“Those polar bears are so funny!” Simba whooped, “I saw Sam stroking his paws earlier today, he was teaching Bramble how to stroke her hind paws wile stroking his. Bramble and Bjorn love the paw stroking thing, as do we all here.” Allie dropped back onto all four paws and padded into the complex. Brunetta, following her, thought about where she’d like to give birth to her cubs. She considered a water birth, but then again, maybe not. Brunetta decided to ask snowy if Bianca’s birth had been made easier for her by the water. Padding into the main part of the complex, Brunetta felt the disinfectant spray hitting her paws from the side and below, the sensation ticklish and invigorating all at once. A shower drenching her from nose to tail completed the rinse. Brunetta smiled as her paws were stimulated by the water jets. Nanuq saw this and padded to her, the touch of his paw pads, now damp from his own shower, making her catch her breath. She loved this huge polar bear with his huge paws and gentle manner.
“Have you thought about where you’re going to have your cubs?” Nanuq asked. Brunetta told him.
“A water birth?” he asked, “well, that’s interesting, of course bears don’t give birth in the water, but then again tigers don’t either, not normally anyway, and Snowy did. That wasn’t her choice, but there it is all the same. Brunetta looked at Nanuq.
“I don’t mind if we have the cubs in the wood or in the bathroom, or even in our lie up. All I want is for you to be there. I want you to hold my paw during it all. I want you to be paws on with me Nanuq, touch my paws, stroke me, hug me, let me hug you, all that.”
I will be there Brunetta,” Nanuq replied.
“I think we might have another observer there too,” Brunetta said, “you know you and I were trying to get Sam to touch my paws? Well it seems Allie and he have made things right with one another, and Allie thinks, and I agree with her, that seeing a cubbing before Sam and Allie try for their own cubs would be a great thing for Sam.” Nanuq smiled:
“Allie’s really trying to work this thing out isn’t she,” he remarked, “yes Brunetta, I think it would be a good idea for him to be there, and most likely get involved too. After all, I expect other community members will be in and out all the time in the early stages.” Brunetta looked into Nanuq’s face.
“You don’t mind if Sam gets involved?” Brunetta asked.
“No,” Nanuq replied, “Sam’s not going to learn how to cope anywhere else is he. Brunetta, you’re having the cubs, I’m not. I have no say who is or is not with you during your confinement, as ordinarily you’d be on your own anyway. Sam can get paws on if he wants, and of course if you want too.”
“I want to help Sam and Allie patch things up, and if this is the way to do it then let it be,” Brunetta said. Nanuq smiled:
“Agreed,” he replied, “now, where are you going to have the cubs?”
“I don’t know,” Brunetta mused, “I’ll see what feels right to my paws. If some place feels right, then I’ll have the cubs there.”
“Don’t choose a broom cupboard,” Nanuq laughed. Brunetta smacked his paw playfully.
“No silly!” She said laughing, “I won’t!” Nanuq kissed Brunetta’s nose.
“Let’s swim a bit,” he said. This they did, ending up in the spar pool, Brunetta sprawled on the ledge where Nanuq rubbed her down from nose to now wrinkled paw pads. Brunetta loved Nanuq’s attention, focusing on the touch of his paws and on the sensation of the warm water on her skin, the jets ruffling her fur and the water drumming with a curious but gorgeous rhythm on her paw pads, producing a pleasant sensation which soothed her. Nanuq looked round at the sound of large splashes to find Sam wading into the water with Allie. Seeing them, the two polar bears waded across to Nanuq and Brunetta.
“It’s not long now till your cubs are born is it Brunetta?” Allie asked. Brunetta smiled:
“No,” she replied, “in fact Nanuq and I’ve just been discussing who we want at the birth of our cubs. I know Sam is eager to join us, and that’s fine. Sam looked nervous, but smiled all the same.
“I’ll just watch,” he said.
“Don’t you want to get involved?” Brunetta asked.
“Surely that’s Nanuq’s job,” Sam protested.
“In the wild I’d be on my own, so any helping paws are good,” Brunetta said.
“But I don’t’ know how!” Sam whimpered.
“You know how to play with Allie’s paws don’t you?” Brunetta asked, “How to massage her paws to soothe her?”
“Yes, now she’s shown me how,” Sam replied, “but what works for Allie might not work for you Brunetta.”
“Try it,” Allie encouraged.
“You want me to try and massage Brunetta’s paws?” Sam asked his mate.
“Yup,” Allie replied, “better start learning how when she’s not in labour so you can help her when she is.”
“I can pretend to be in labour if you’d like,” Brunetta said.
“No!” Sam snapped, “don’t’ even think of that!”
“I threatened him with a reconstruction of my labour and he nearly left the country,” Allie laughed. Sam looked sick.
“I want to get involved, but then, then again, it’s not what I want.” Sam whimpered.
“How about if I put it like this,” Brunetta said, “the birth of my cubs is going to be a long and painful struggle, and I want you to help me Sam. I want you there as much as I want Nanuq or Allie. All three of you can help me. I will play with my paws and do everything I’ve learnt from Arki. But I would also like everyone who wants to witness the birth of my cubs to also experience the birth with me as much as they can.”
“I know a lion who’d be delighted to tag along,” Allie said to Brunetta.”
“I know Theo’s mad about bears,” Brunetta said, “and I know he was a birthing attendant for a while. No bear would let him near them or their cubs though, and I thought that was sad. He was quite cut up about missing WEICI’s birth and not being allowed by the pandas to touch the cub, or even get near her. Well Theo can get as close to me as he wants, even help me during cubbing. Theo’s a bear in a big cat’s body, that’s my thoughts. His paws are so gentle he couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone my cubs or me.”
“He would be overjoyed,” Petra said, padding close, “I’ll tell him if you’d like.”
“Let me,” Brunetta replied, “I’ll do it.” Petra nodded and padded away, her shift in the control room ending. Simba trotted past, waved a paw at the bears and was gone towards the house.
“If you’re going to have the cubs with as many as five animals attending,” Allie said, “you wont’ be able to have a water birth, there’s no room!” Brunetta smiled.
“I just want plenty of helping paws and for it to be a wonderful experience for everyone,” she replied, “for I might be having the cubs, but the birth is public knowledge and a real public event.”
“By helping paws you mean paws that will massage you and give you comfort,” Nanuq said. Brunetta laughed:
“Yes,” she replied, “you know me and my thoughts on the subject.”
“You want to be in physical contact with someone at all times,” Sam said, “be it someone stroking your paws, you stroking your paws while another creature strokes your back during a contraction, or even someone stroking your belly while you deliver a cub.”
“I’d really love it if I was being hugged by Nanuq while I delivered one cub,” Brunetta said. Nanuq agreed.
“I’d like that too,” he said.
“So you wouldn’t mind her squealing in your ear during a contraction?” Sam asked, “I heard Allie squealing with pain during the birth of our cubs and that was loud. She made a lot of noise.”
“No,” Nanuq replied, “For we don’t know what she’s going through, only she knows properly, and knows how painful and exhausting things are.”
“I can try and describe what I’m feeling as I go,” Brunetta replied, “I’d like to do that.”
“Concentrate on having your cubs, not on us,” Nanuq advised.
“I can describe labour,” Allie said, “it’s strenuous, painful, exhausting work. But it is also exciting, amazing and the product of labour is amazing. I’d do it all over again too. I want cubs with you Sam.” Sam smiled:
“Okay,” he replied.
“Any tips?” Brunetta asked Allie.
“When things get bad hold on tight to a hind paw and squeeze your toes as hard as you can,” Allie replied, “when things get easier, massage your pads and breathe deeply. Play with your paws, or get someone else to massage and play with them if you feel you can’t.” Allie looked at Sam as she said this.
“You want me to help Brunetta play with her paws?” Sam asked, “But she’s expert in it! I’m not!” His protests were beginning to sound comical. It was clear he wanted desperately to be part of things, but couldn’t express in words what he wanted to say.
“Just get paws on with me and the birth will you Sam!” Brunetta said with mock anger. Sam smiled:
“I’d be delighted to help,” he said softly, “and thank you Brunetta.”
“Would you stroke my paws Sam?” Brunetta asked. Sam looked at Nanuq, then at Allie.
“You don’t have to ask our permission,” Nanuq said, “just make your choice, do you, or do you not want to help Brunetta?” Sam waded to where Brunetta lay on her side, her forepaws tucked beneath her chin, her hind legs stretched out behind her, her paw pads facings am, as her back was to the main pool.
“You’ll have to stroke my hind paws I’m afraid,” Brunetta said, “I’m resting my chin on my fore.” Sam was content with that and began to massage the female brown bear’s hind paws. They were large, but not quite as large as his. Sam traced the pads of Brunetta’s right hind paw first, Brunetta laughing as he tickled her.
“Hey!” She giggled, flicking water at him with the toes of the paw opposite to the one he was trying to explore. Sam grinned at Brunetta as her toes curled round his and held them. Brunetta gently squeezed his toes in hers; they were strong and expressive of her emotions.
“Thank you, the touch said, “thank you Sam and good luck with what you are about to experience. Sam looked down at the hind paw holding the toes of his fore. The sole of Brunetta’s paw was covered in brown fur, her pads hardly distinguishable by sight from the fur between. Though he could detect by touch what was pad and what was fur, which was how Brunetta liked it, or so it seemed.
“Now are you sure I want you to help?” Brunetta asked. Sam blew gently on the pads of Brunetta’s paw, the exhaled air hitting all three pads on the sole. Laughing and squirming helplessly, Brunetta thrashed the water white with her forepaws and free hind paw!
“What did you do?” Nanuq asked as Brunetta, tears of laughter rolling down her nose, rolled onto her back, sitting up in a flurry of kicked up spray, reaching for her hind paw, the toes of which had until a few seconds ago held Sam’s.
“I blew on her pads,” Sam admitted, watching as Brunetta, her eyes dancing with delight, rubbed the pads of her right hind paw with those of her left fore.
“That was unexpected, but wonderful!” Brunetta exclaimed, stroking the toes of her hind paws with her fore.
“You blew on her pads?” Nanuq asked. Sam grinned:
“Allie, please, show him what I mean,” he said. Allie asked Nanuq to lie down where Brunetta had been lying, the Female brown bear vacating her place. Nanuq did so, and Allie told him to relax, even going so far as to massage his hind paws. Once Nanuq was almost comatose, Allie blew on the pads of his right hind paw, the polar bear laughing so hard he snorted up water and sneezed explosively! Whipping round, he rolled into a sitting position and grabbed his right hind paw with both forepaws, his toes massaging the tickled pads.
“So that’s it!” He panted, “I remember that from when I was a cub, “my mum used to blow on my pads, the sensation was just the same. I must say I used to like it then, and I do now. You rogue Allie!” Allie laughed helplessly at Nanuq’s expression, a mixture of shock, excitement and embarrassment at his spoken cubbish memory. Theo padded into the complex, Brunetta seeing him and waving her paw at him.
“What is it?” Theo asked. Brunetta told him in very few words.
“You, you want me to be present at the birth of your cubs?” Theo asked.
“Yes Theo,” Brunetta replied, “I know you love bears, and have wanted to witness a bear cub’s birth for a long time.”
“The bears won’t let me near their cubs,” Theo said, “They say I’ll injure or kill them. I won’t!” Brunetta hugged the lion tenderly.
“I know,” she said softly, “that’s why I’m letting you see the birth of mine and Nanuq’s cubs. It will be wonderful!” Theo felt like crying.
“Thank you,” he said hoarsely, trying not to cry. Brunetta held his left forepaw in hers.
“Want to stroke my paws?” She asked. Theo nodded, and Brunetta stretched out on her side on the tiles, her head resting on one of her forepaws. Theo stroked Brunetta’s hind paws, the brown bear wiggling, curling and stretching her toes as the lion’s toes worked over and between her pads and toes. Brunetta thought drowsily of the birth of her cubs. It would be hard work, painful, exhausting and sometimes frightening, but it would also be pleasurable, because she’d have the support of a friendly and gentle group of animals behind her. Theo’s touch was gentle, as Allie had said Samson’s was, and this reinforced the conviction she had that everything would be all right.
Weeks passed and Brunetta’s time for cubbing was upon her. She’d felt the small contractions start in the early morning. Nanuq, already awake and about began to tell the other invited animals that things were starting to get moving. Allie, Sam, Theo, Petra and Simba all made their way to Brunetta’s den, where she’d chosen to have the cubs. Brunetta was still relaxed, as contractions weren’t heavy, and she could cope with them by breathing deeply. Sam sat down nervously and began biting the claws of his right forepaw, something he’d never done before.
“Stop biting your claws and massage this,” Brunetta said, padding over and thrusting her left forepaw into Sam’s. Sam grinned and began stroking her paw. Hours past, and Brunetta’s contractions got steadily heavier. She withdrew her left forepaw from Sam’s paws at the end of the third hour, gripping her right hind paw with both her forepaws and squeezing her pads and toes while breathing hard through clenched teeth.
“Things are really happening now!” Brunetta said, “I don’t want to push yet, but that will happen soon too I think. Holding her right hind paw with both forepaws, she rocked gently back and forth. Nanuq watched intently. Brunetta got to her feet and started pacing about. Suddenly she squatted and breathed hard through her open mouth, gasping with pain.
“Okay, nearly time,” she panted, her claws dug into the rug she stood on. Brunetta sat down and waved at Nanuq who padded to her and sat down beside her. Brunetta suddenly grabbed hold of him and crushed him in a bear hug, her hind paws scrabbling for purchase. Sam and Theo grabbed one of Brunetta’s hind paws each and began to stroke it, the bear pushing hard into their paws with all her strength. Nanuq heard his mate groaning and panting, feeling the pressure of her paws holding him. Brunetta squealed with pain, yelling and grunting with effort!
“That’s it Brunetta, keep pushing steadily,” Allie said gently, not knowing if Brunetta was still with them or not. The female brown bear wriggled and twisted, |Nanuq, Sam and Theo keeping in contact with her. Then Brunetta’s paws were bracing hard against her mate, Theo and Sam as she heaved.
“Keep massaging my paws!” Brunetta yelled to Theo and Sam, “I can’t do it myself, not now!” She clung to Nanuq, the large male polar bear embracing her with as much force as she was him, both rolling and twisting with Brunetta’s labour. Sam watched all, feeling, seeing and smelling Brunetta’s effort. Her paw was hot and damp with sweat in his, her toes curling and relaxing with the contractions, his toes trapped in hers, his paw pressed hard against the female brown bear’s pads as she curled and braced them against his.
In the fifth hour, Brunetta let out a scream of pain and wriggled convulsively! Sam knew this was heralding something, and sure enough he saw the forepaws and head of a cub emerging, Brunetta straining hard to deliver her cub. Sam felt no fear now, just anticipation as he saw the cub emerging.
“Sam!” Brunetta yelled, “Catch my cub!” Nanuq stared down as Sam did what for him was unthinkable; he caught the slippery body as Brunetta delivered her cub. Sam felt the warm slippery body sliding into his paws, and he held it gently, supporting its tiny weight. Brunetta puffed and blew, the panting releasing the cub’s hind paws. Sam’s eyes blurred with tears as he looked down at the cub in his paws.
“Take it away and clean it up,” Nanuq said to Sam, who, as if in a dream, did as he requested. Theo helped deliver Brunetta’s second cub, with Simba and Petra massaging the female brown bear’s hind paws. Theo realised this second cub was larger, for Brunetta was having to make more effort. Theo looked at Brunetta’s face, the female brown bear was exhausted and carrying on by will power alone.
“Do you want some help?” Theo asked.
“No drugs just paw massage,” Brunetta gasped, “got one more cub to come! Must push, must try!” She heaved, but Nanuq and Theo could see she was exhausted.
“I want to push!” Brunetta yelled, bearing down convulsively. By now even she knew things weren’t moving as swiftly as they had. Theo looked at Nanuq, who looked serious for the first time in eight hours.
“What the hell’s going on?” His eyes screamed.
“I can’t go on!” Brunetta sobbed.
“I’ll get fleur!” Simba said, running from the room.
“No drugs, no drugs!” Brunetta moaned.
“You might not have any choice! If there are drugs, you dam well take them Brunetta!” Nanuq snapped, now furious with worry. Brunetta began to cry, and it was not because of her situation.
“I’m sorry,” Nanuq cried, realising he’d lost his temper with Brunetta for things not of her making.
“I might be able to help,” Theo said gently, his voice soothing Nanuq and Brunetta.
“What with?” Allie asked. Petra looked at her sire.
“If anyone can save this cub he can,” she said.
“But he’s out of practise!” Fleur yelled, catching Petra’s words as she ran in.
“Let me try,” Theo said softly, please fleur?” Fleur backed down, but everyone could see it was difficult for her.
“Now,” Theo said to Brunetta, taking the female brown bear’s paw in his and stroking it, “what you will feel is the worst contractions you’ve ever felt, but don’t worry. Ride with them and you’ll be fine.” Brunetta, exhausted and frightened, just wiggled the toes of the paw Theo held to acknowledge his words.
“Hold onto Nanuq,” Theo mewed. Brunetta did so, wrapping Nanuq in a huge bear hug, the male polar bear cuddling close, tears rolling down his nose.
“Now everyone,” Theo said, “gather round Brunetta. Two of you take one of her hind paws each and massage it. The others just settle down nearby and touch her with your paws. Sam and Allie took Brunetta’s hind paws in their fore and began to stroke them, Petra and Simba touching her back with their paws. Theo released Brunetta’s paw and Nanuq moved away, Brunetta panicking.
“I want him here!” She whimpered.
“there’s no room,” Nanuq replied, Theo needs to lie down where I was to help you Brunetta, please my dear, please let him do his work.” Brunetta looked down into the lion’s eyes.
“I’m going to place my paws on your belly now,” Theo said. He glanced back to see if fleur was looking after the first born cub, which she was, then placed his forepaws one on top of the other on Brunetta’s belly. Closing his eyes, Theo whispered to Brunetta to hold on tight to Nanuq’s paws, which she did. Allie and Sam also felt the toes of their paws gripped by Brunetta’s.
“Quiet now,” Petra whispered to Brunetta.” Brunetta lay still, her heart racing and mind confused and scared. Theo whispered some words which noone caught. Brunetta suddenly screamed with pain, her back arching and paws gripping with a strength noone knew she had! Nanuq screamed as loudly as his mate as his paws were crushed until his toes nearly broke under the pressure! Brunetta’s screams and yells continued for about a minute, Theo throwing himself on top of the bear to maintain his contact. He let Brunetta throw him off when he judged his job done, Brunetta shrieking with anger and pain as she was forced to bear down with strength she never knew she had! The second cub came into the world with steady speed, the speed slow when compared to the noise Brunetta was making. Throwing herself about, Brunetta heaved and strained to deliver the cub’s body and hind paws. Brunetta’s fierce labour was over as quickly as it had begun. She lay exhausted and bewildered on the rug, Petra having caught the second cub in her paws.
“What the hell was that!” Nanuq demanded.
“I don’t’ know,” Brunetta replied, “All I remember is the birth of my first cub, nothing else.” She looked at Fleur, then Petra, “but I have two cubs,” she said dreamily. When did I have the second?” Nanuq looked at Theo, his eyes angry.
“What have you done?” He yelled.
“She won’t want to remember the birth of her second cub,” Theo mewed, “so she won’t. I’m sorry it had to be this way.” With that Nanuq thought Theo left the room, Nanuq too confused to challenge him directly.
“What the hell’s that dam lion on about?” He exploded.
“Eohippus,” Simba mewed softly, “it was she, not Theo who helped Brunetta.” Nanuq looked round, and where Theo had been lying there lay a white mare.
“Trickery and sorcery!” Nanuq yelled.
“No,” the mare whickered, “just me, Eohippus.” The mare turned to Petra.
“Now I will leave you in peace,” she said to the white lioness. Petra kissed the mare on her muzzle and the mare vanished. Theo was back with them.
“Eohippus helped Brunetta,” Theo purred, “You know the tale of Eohippus?” Nanuq didn’t, and didn’t much want to find out either.
“So this mare helped a bear have her cubs,” he snapped, “how she did it I don’t really want to know, all I know is you say she did. What I also know is that Theo, a lion, placed his paws on my mate’s belly and made her go through hell! You will suffer for this!” Nanuq threw himself at the tawny lion! Nanuq suddenly felt a paw hit him across his nose!
“Leave him alone!” Fleur yelled.
“What? Why? He hurt my mate!” Nanuq whimpered, his whole body disabled temporarily by the sharp blow to his nose.
“You will leave him alone because Theo did the same for me, I remember now.” Nanuq stared at the lion he’d nearly killed.
“You saved fleur too?” The bear asked. Theo, his paws covering his face, didn’t answer.
“Leave here Nanuq,” Brunetta said, “leave here and come back when you are calmer.” Nanuq was dragged out of the room by Allie and Sam, for his paws were as useless as Tembi’s were after her life or death dash from Aslan. Brunetta looked at Theo.
“Thank you,” she said softly, her mind still focused on her hind paws which Petra was stroking.
“Where are the two newborn cubs?” Theo asked.
“Fleur had one and so did Sam,” Petra replied, looking anxiously round her. She saw Simba had both cubs. Curled round the two cubs, Simba was feeding them by cupping his paws in a bowl of milk and letting the two blind cubs lap the liquid contained in the bowl created by his paws. Brunetta saw this and the sight made her smile.
“I think that milk isn’t strong enough for them,” she said. Removing her hind paws from Petra’s care, Brunetta struggled to her feet and padded across to Simba. Sitting down beside the lion, she waited for her cubs to finish their rather unorthodox first drink. Once they’d lapped the last of the milk, Brunetta picked each cub up and carried it to the farthest part of the den, where the family settled down. Simba watched them go. Brunetta’s cubs were a contrast to their mother, for she had brown fur, whereas theirs was white. Simba got to his paws and padded from the room. Finding Nanuq padding back towards the den, Simba told him not to go after Theo. Nanuq looked slightly scared.
“No, no I won’t,” he gabbled, his paws shaking. Simba looked into Nanuq’s eyes, and found the polar bear couldn’t meet his gaze.
“I, I was told, told that you, you, you have, special powers,” Nanuq gasped, “you predicted the difficult birth, and told Allie, who in turn suggested to Brunetta that Theo join the birthing party. Did you have those dreams?” Simba nodded.
“I keep quiet about them though,” he said, “unless of course I think anything dangerous is about to happen.” Nanuq took Simba’s paw in his.
“I, I need to, to apologise to Theo for threatening him,” the bear said.
“Just go back to your mate and cubs,” Simba mewed.
Nanuq returned to the den, where Brunetta hugged him.
“Meet our cubs,” she said, lying down and waving Nanuq over to her. Nanuq went to his mate and lay down beside her, feeling one of her cubs touch his paw with its tiny one. Nanuq hugged the cub, realising it was the larger of the two cubs, the one Theo helped deliver. The cub was fat, heavy and had huge paws. Nanuq realised Brunetta couldn’t have delivered the cub without help. Nanuq blew on the pads of the cub’s left forepaw, the cub laughing helplessly.
“That tickles!” The cub exclaimed. Nanuq hugged the cub while Brunetta watched them.
“Both our cubs are female,” she said. Nanuq looked into the eyes of his mate.
“You don’t mind them being white?” He asked.
“No, they’re beautiful,” Brunetta replied. Anyway, Kalahari said they’d be white and probably remain so their whole lives.” Nanuq examined the cub by touch, the large female cub wriggling and sighing with pleasure. Nanuq fell asleep later that day, content with his lot.
Meanwhile, in another room of the house, Allie and Sam lay together talking about the birth of Brunetta’s cubs.
“What did Theo do to Brunetta to allow her to give birth to that huge cub?” Sam asked. Allie replied:
“Made her body do what it could do, not what she could do. He made her body work as hard as it could, harder than Brunetta would have stood. If Brunetta remembered what happened to her she’d die from fright.
“But she squealed and screamed,” Sam said, “Surely she felt something?”
“She did, “but she can’t remember it,” Allie replied. Sam took her paw.
“It wasn’t Theo who helped Brunetta though was it,” Sam said, “He’s got connections to, well, others.”
“Yes,” Allie said. Sam looked his mate up and down, from her black nose to her black paw pads and back again.
“Can I hug you and stroke your paws?” Sam asked. Allie’s eyes smiled into his:
“Please do,” she replied. Allie lay down, letting Sam examine her with his eyes and paws. Sam also smelt her scent, a mixture of polar bear and the oils and scent she used during her last bathing session with Samson. Sam touched her body with his paws, Allie’s fur soft and warm. Her paw pads were tough to his touch, but had been softened a little by massage and oils. Sam examined her from nose to tail, ears to paws, missing nothing, from her black nose, to the black pads on the soles and toes of her paws. Allie breathed deeply, wanting to respond with touch and caress of Sam’s paws, but fighting the urge. She wiggled her toes and nuzzled Sam’s pads as they came within reach, Sam kissing her nose and paw pads as she raised her forepaws to touch him. Sam rubbed Allie down bit by bit, starting with her nose and ending with the toes of her hind paws, Allie curling herself round Sam as he worked, the male polar bear thrilled by her proximity and the feedback she gave him. Sam reluctantly finished exploring Allie’s body with his eyes and paws. He hugged her tightly, nuzzling into her neck, Allie laughing merrily.
“That was lovely!” She exclaimed. Sam, his emotions welling, could hardly speak.
“It was, it was!” He choked, tears rolling down his nose. Allie kissed her mate’s nose and held his paws in hers.
“Let me stroke you Sam,” Allie said softly, Sam cuddling close.
“Stroke me,” he pleaded. Allie did so, Sam fighting tears of joy as his mate gave him pleasure he hadn’t felt before. Allie finished her massage of Sam’s body and paws, Sam breathing deeply.
“Now let’s do something else,” Allie said gently, “let’s bathe each other Sam.” Sam hugged her fiercely.
“Yes, yes Allie, let’s!” He exclaimed, kissing her nose and the toes of her left forepaw. Allie laughed softly.
“Come on then,” she said, getting to her paws. Allie turned away, lifting a hind paw and wiggling her toes at Sam. Sam caught her toes in his left forepaw, holding them tenderly. Allie wiggled her toes some more, Sam blowing on the pads on the sole of her raised paw. Allie laughing and releasing his toes.
“I love that!” She exclaimed, turning on Sam and rolling him over, ticking his belly and the soles of his paws. Sam wriggled and laughed helplessly.
“Let’s go now,” Allie said gently. Sam got to his feet and they walked to the bathtub, fleur grinning at them as she saw them.
“I’ll leave Allie to show you the oils and things,” fleur mewed. Sam grinned:
“She’s already shown me how to enjoy using my paws to play,” he replied. Allie and Sam got into the water and began swimming about lazily. Sam watched his mate closely. He loved the way she paddled through the water, her paws hardly making a splash. While her forepaws paddled with her toes close together, Allie’s hind paws thrust through the water, toes spread to increase her momentum. Sam wanted desperately to tickle the soles of her hind paws, but restrained himself. Allie noticed him watching her and waved her paw at him.
“Go on,” she said, flicking water at him with the toes of one forepaw, “tickle my hind paws if you want.” Sam stared at his mate.
“How did you know?” He asked.
“I knew you wanted to tickle my hind paws because you know I love having my hind paws tickled and stroked. I know you want to give me pleasure, and I want to receive it. You like stroking my paws, and I like having my paws stroked. So we’re even.” Sam looked at Allie’s paws; they were a lot larger than his, with large short toes and huge black pads surrounded by white fur. All four of Allie’s paws had five toes on each, each toe with one black pad. The soles of her paws had three pads each, two on the ball of her paw and one on the heel. These three pads were surrounded by thick coarse white fur. Allie curled her toes, the white fur between the pads on the sole of her paw disappearing in folds of black pad.
“You can stroke my paws Sam,” Allie said gently. Sam guided Allie to a ledge, where she rested her forepaws, letting her hind drift in the water. Sam picked up her right hind paw in one of his and stroked the sole with his free forepaw, Allie sighing with pleasure. Curling and stretching her toes meant Allie sometimes caught Sam’s toes in hers, and when this happened, Sam would blow bubbles in the water just above the submerged pads of the paw he was stroking, Allie laughing at the sensation this produced and releasing his toes. Then the stroking would continue, to the delight and pleasure of both bears. Allie turned her head so she could watch Sam stroking her hind paws.
“I want to see how your paws play over mine,” she said.”
“We could use mirrors,” Sam replied, “so you can see my paws working over yours.”
“Let’s sit in the water and play with our paws,” Allie suggested. Sam sat down in front of Allie, who’d sat up and now rested her back against the ledge she’d been resting her forepaws on previously. The water in that part of the bathtub was shallow, coming up to just below the toes of the hind paws of the two bears. Each bear took one of the other’s hind paws in both their forepaws and began to stroke the fur, pads and toes of their chosen paw. Sam felt Allie’s strong paws working over his right hind paw and pressed his pads and toes into her paws, Allie doing likewise when she felt his forepaws enveloping her left hind. While each explored and massaged the other’s hind paws with their fore, the bears watched each other’s faces. Sam’s eyes shone with delight and pleasure as he worked on ally’s left hind paw, while Allie’s eyes, half closed in bliss showed nothing much, though her mouth smiled with pleasure she couldn’t put into words, though tried to through the way her paws worked on Sam’s right hind paw. Sam wiggled the toes of the paw Allie worked on, Allie rubbing them gently. Sam pressed his toes into Allie’s pads, the female polar bear smiling at him.
“Push with that paw Sam,” she encouraged. Sam braced his paw against Allie’s, the female polar bear bracing her forepaws against Sam’s, the two bears engaging in a trial of strength. The water thrashed white buy their imaginary struggle, the two bears braced their hind paws against the other’s forepaws until they were exhausted. Allie smiled at her mate.
“I love this paw play,” she said, drumming with her toes on Sam’s paws. Sam grinned, drumming on her paws with the toes of his hind paw held in hers. Allie and Sam released each other’s hind paws, laughing merrily at their cubbish behaviour.
“That was wonderful,” Sam panted. Allie smiled:
“That was,” she replied. The two bears washed each other from nose to tail, and then left the pool, wanting to continue their love play on dry land. Allie watched Sam’s paws as he padded away from the bathroom. Sam waved all four of his paws at Allie, the female polar bear smiling. Sam and Arki made their way to their lie up where they settled down together, each taking hold of the other’s forepaws. Rubbing each other’s fore and hind paws, Allie and Sam continued their love making. Sam then passed Allie the mint tree bark chewed by all the community to freshen breath. Chewing the bark for a few minutes, the two bears spat it into a bin provided for that purpose. Then they went back to their paw play, content with their lot. Sam and Allie repeated their paw play, touching each other’s fore and hind paws, and then exploring each others and their own fore and hind paws.
“I love you from your nose to your toes Allie,” Sam said softly, hugging her.
“I love you from your nose to your toes and your paw pads. Bet you can’t top that!” Allie challenged lovingly.
“I love you from your ears to your paw pads!” Sam said with mock desperation. Allie embraced him tightly.
“I love you that much and more,” she replied.
“Let’s stop this and just say we love each other shall we?” Sam asked, his eyes shining.
“Yes,” Allie replied, kissing his nose.
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