Two Squared: 8
Willow gradually came to terms with their status, in no small part helped by Dawn and Rhianon’s counsel, and the regular, ongoing ‘communing’ with them in the astral realm. She gradually became accustomed to the strange composite bodies of her past friends and no longer pressed them to change. Mostly now they simply had the heads of her old friends, though often Xander simply had a composite face of human and tiger, she worried that he was slipping beyond where she might reach him. On two rather astonishing occasions, they sported human torso’s down to their navel (abdominal muscles even Willow could appreciated despite her orientation) and both smiled at their wiccan friend’s obvious distraction.
Spike and Xander were truly happy, she came to know that. It still did not make Buffy’s visit any easier.
Spike and Xander had been at the coven for eighteen months. A new section was being built onto their enclosure and encompassing a number of existing large trees and a new pond, this time not heated. It was far more open to the elements and allowed the big cats to enjoy the outdoors or choose warmth if they wished. It would be ready by the end of the month and both tigers paced in front of the soon to be open fence to the space in anticipation of exploring their new home.
After she picked up Buffy from Heathrow, Willow spent some time on the return trip explaining Spike and Xander’s situation and defending their attempts to bring the boys back and their frustration at not finding the warlock.
Buffy was chatting as they approached the enclosure. Spike’s ears twitched as he heard human voices, but he really couldn’t be bothered changing positions to see who it was.
Spike was asleep on his back in the sun, legs and paws akimbo, eyes closed and the closest thing to a smile on his face that a tiger could manage. Xander was snuggled against his side, head angled to rest on the white belly of his mate.
The slayer gasped as she spotted the two animals stretched out enjoying the afternoon sun.
“Ohhh Wills… look they’re so beautiful… and in the sun… and *no way*! It can’t be them… I mean… It can’t! I mean… are you sure?? And Xan with the two eyes… and the snuggling… and … And three and a half years like that… It’s just so… But… they are so beautiful!”
Willow enjoyed Buffy’s babble incident, but also worried at the tigers’ lack of reaction to their old friend voice.
Xander finally lifted his head as the latch on the rear door of their day enclosure clicked, then pushed up to stand as the two women entered. Spike roused quickly as his friend moved and they stood together as Buffy approached with more than a little trepidation.
They both recognized her smell before they took in her petite form. And they both scented her fear. At some level Spike was pleased that he could finally terrify the Slayer… but then lost the thought as his tiger instincts took over and their nice friend Willow offered treats. They both dropped on command and accepted a handful of sweet lamb mince she offered as a greeting reward.
Buffy was in tears, “But they… th… they can’t be happy like this… Oh God Wills… they can’t be happy!” The Slayer turned to leave as Willow petted the two furry heads as the tigers began to pick up on the distress.
“Wait Buffy … Just wait! That’s the thing… it seems like they are happy I mean… Oh Buff… just … just stay for a bit…!”
Buffy stopped near the door and turned to look at the two big cats now happily nuzzling Willow’s hands. The slayer was uncharacteristically nervous, “Will… What do I do? I mean they know you what if they don’t…”
“Just stand there sweetie, they’ll know you, you’ll see.”
The two big cats wandered toward the petite figure lazily, their winter coats still plush and shining in the spring sunshine.
As the two enormous cats sidled up and brushed against their former Sunnydale friend, Buffy gasped and couldn’t help the “Oh God” that slipped out as they turned to make another pass swishing tails and pausing to lick her palms. She was utterly taken aback however when the yellow tiger reared. She slipped and fell hard onto her backside and was then pushed her onto her back by a series of hefty nudges.
The slayer was lying prone and about to defend herself as two hot rough tongues began to lick her feet and her hands, then (Oh my!) her neck and ears and her denim clad crotch… Eventually, she became rather embarrassingly aroused, and pushed them both off. At the last action Buffy realized that the two really were taking advantage. “Right that’s *it* you two!! You don’t get to *do* that!! And OMG !! I just…. Gahhh!!! No!!!”
They both stopped and looked wickedly unrepentant for a moment, but seeing her genuine distress the white tiger, dropped beside her head down on his paws. An old memory had been sparked that was genuinely distressing… as penance he moved forward to slowly rub his furry cheek against her hand, waiting for her acceptance or rejection.
Buffy slowly sat up and smiled into the pretty, sad blue eyes, “Oh… it’s OK …. Um … It’s really OK sweetie… Hi… You know me yeah? I was just a bit thrown… and um… I’m Hi… You know I’m Buffy? Right?...”
The huge white male tiger shuffled a little closer and gently placed his head in her lap. Xander wandered over eventually, pushing against his mate and accepting a relaxed growl and affectionate swipe. Buffy giggled as a large tongue from the yellow tiger rhythmically licked her sandal clad foot again.
Buffy stayed for almost two hours. Eventually she just chatted to the two big cats and stroked their soft pelts just as Dawn usually did. She didn’t really feel like Spike and Xander could be happy but seeing her friends now enjoying their lazy afternoon, being petted... at some level, she envied them. They were together, albeit ‘pets’ but life was obviously simple, and they had each other and were cherished, pampered even … And as far as having full control over their lives… How much did she? Had she… ever had? She dismissed that thought, even though Giles had pointed out that most humans didn’t have full control over their circumstance… Most humans weren’t caged.
She eased herself up and by the time Giles came to collect her, the Slayer was standing outside the enclosure staring at the pretty image in front of her. Xander pushed his head under Spike’s nose and the white tiger had begun lazily licking his partner’s velvet ears. Giles moved in slowly, his voice startling her a little.
“I’m happy you had the opportunity to meet with then.”
“Yeah … ah thanks… um… They’re really beautiful and together… aren’t they Giles? Just beautiful.”
They had been at the coven for nearly two and a half years when Ahmil’s father arrived for the first time. He had seen pictures of the facilities he had funded, of course, but was suitably impressed as he realized just how far the coven had made the money ‘stretch’. He graciously accepted the opportunity to ride the property with Rupert Giles, both men chatting easily as they sat atop two of Giles’ large warm blood mares.
The proposition was simple. The Sheikh had a friend with a pair of female tigers and wished to introduce his males with the possibility of breeding from them at some point. The females were currently at a large estate in Berkshire and now, at just on five years, were well of age while his son’s pets, at five and a bit years were possibly capable, it was hard to tell. He had agreed, and all being well, the proviso was the Sheikh would buy the cubs and take them back to Dubai, the first of many litters it was hoped.
Umbhala had already spoken to the Sheikh regards breeding from the cats, and to find two fertile females so close by was ideal. Tigers bred easily in captivity and most zoo females were habitually treated with contraceptives – in the longer term compromising their fertility. These two had never been so treated and were of age. Umbhala was thrilled by the prospect, even suspected it might ‘cure’ his charges of their apparent habit of ‘mutual enjoyment’. He agreed that the males should procreate, especially the white tiger. And the Sheikh was determined.
A veterinarian confirmed the ‘season’ for the females who were apparently cycling together and the date for the introduction had been set. The male tigers were of age – just over four years old. It could not be better
Willow was horrified, and Dawn wasn’t sure, and Giles was on holidays, ‘rambling’ somewhere in the Cotswolds.
To date the tigers had only been with each other and humans. It was not difficult to notice that the two male tigers were ‘involved’, some of their behavior definitely new to most naturalists, and according to Willow it was an yearning for their previous lives… their partnership… their *gay* partnership.
It was the first time Giles felt truly frantic. He consulted Willow then they rang Dawn who arrived the following day. Her immediate reaction had been an emphatic *no*, but by the time she arrived at the coven had revised her opinion and admitted that it was she who suggested they really *were* tigers, therefore supposed breeding should be included. It was all so confusing
Willow had spoken to them and they both adored each other *and* wanted family… they were both tigers and had their original feeling for each other… and to date had not been able to act on either.
Dawn worried on two levels, one that Xander and Spike were together and two that they might not *want* to create babies in these circumstances.
Willow was distraught at the idea of ‘breeding’ from her friends. But the Sheikh would not be dissuaded and it was unlikely that an explanation that “They are the tiger forms of her two former friends changed by a magical spell therefore you can’t breed from them” was really going to cut it.
Willow had come to the point where she was able to meditate and speak to them in the astral zone almost at will. So took the opportunity to encourage them not to participate in the breeding process, even if placed with the females.
They were human still in her eyes, and had not considered that their tiger bodies might have drives that needed attention. She was horrified after their last ‘conversation’ that Xander seemed quite pleased by the idea of a little ‘female company’. Despite their obvious partnership and bisexual status prior to the change, the two had been unable to couple since becoming tigers. They were now in their prime and capable of procreating, and simply Xander articulated what they both felt, the drive to breed. That afternoon was the first time both Spike and Xander had reverted to their full feline form before the astral discussion concluded. Leaving Willow shocked by the discussion and seeking solace the arms of Rhianon.
Two tigresses were introduced to the enclosure two days later, both were in heat. The private owner concerned had been thrilled to learn of two new males apparently available for breeding, only worried regarding the pedigree rather than spending too much time fussing about which tiger serviced which. Umbhala was rather more careful.
Spike and Xander were confused. Entering the space after their run, Umbhala handed Xander’s lead to John and he led the golden tiger to a different space in their enclosure and secured the separating gate. Spike was in the new exercise area while Xander had been locked in their regular day enclosure.
Spike moved to the other end of the enclosure, they had taken Xander away, Umbhala never took Xander away unless they needed Dawn to examine them separately, but then she always explained. He sat sulking then caught her scent, and sought out the source
Spike was greeted by a female Siberian tiger, as white as he, blue eyes to match and her smell was utterly intoxicating.
Xander was equally shocked as he entered his area of the enclosure to an unfamiliar scent, but had the same reaction. He flopped onto the ground and ignored the female.
The handlers of the females and Umbhala were utterly at a loss. Umbhala finally suggested that the divider between the enclosures was removed, as it was normally open.
The two males scented then quickly joined each other again.
The female’s wanted servicing, that much was obvious. Driven by an urge to mate they approached the two simultaneously.
Xander and Spike reassured each other but both felt the overwhelming pull of the ripe scent. With a final lick to Xander’s ear, Spike stood and followed the white tigress, Xander doing likewise to the alluring female golden tiger nearest him.
Spike and the other ‘Amilie’ according to the tag on her collar, circled each other, then sparred until he, the heavier and stronger of the two, finally subdued her. He couldn’t be sure if there was any connection emotionally but eventually she moved beside him and began nipping and licking affectionately, so unlike his Xan… but her smell! Through the mental link with Xander he felt lust and was sent mind pictures that summed up the same need to copulate that he now felt.
Spike’s first coupling with ‘Amilie’ was pure instinct and swift. He bit her neck to hold position, and after much snarling and thirty seconds of being joined she bucked him off. Afterward he found himself licking unfamiliar ears for his own comfort then it happened again. There was no triumph in any of the acts, and though Spike’s whole being yearned for his partner, his tiger self also felt protective and connected to the female he was bedding.
Xander found the female who had ‘chosen’ him equally less than ‘welcoming’. After the initial connection she seemed to look at him with disdain and wandered to the top end of the enclosure to flop down dejectedly. As he approached, she snarled. He growled a warning and backed off. Less than fifteen minutes later she began roaring, calling to him deliberately. She smelled *wonderful*, very, very different to his partner, yet utterly enticing. She was aroused and extremely nervous and for many minutes refused his attentions. His instinct took over, he shifted toward her slowly, purring. She made no more aggressive moves, rather, after many minutes of nuzzling and licking, rolled onto her back, then presented herself to be serviced. He began to lick her ears and bit at her neck, gently, catching her pelt and licking to distract until he was standing directly over her. He received Spikes message of immediate lust through the link, and they coupled easily.
‘Fruini’ ended the encounter by rolling swiftly, scratched him viciously, then skidded from beneath him and began prowling, he followed… Xander slipped into pure tiger mode and they ended up sparring again, Xander with the upper hand a few minutes later. A lot of snarling and biting later, he was the victor. She calmed, licked him, then rolled into a submissive position, and he mounted her for a second time. He, like Spike with Amilie, lost all connection to conscious human thought, and as was usual with tigers, completed in his female concubine again and again. She became his focus for the next three days. Both couples copulating forty or fifty times in that period as was expected by their handlers.
Dawn was the supervising vet at the estate who received the reports confirming that the two were to be fathers… There would be between two and six cubs from each of the tigresses. Dawn still felt her friends had somehow been violated, but she had been away at the time of decision and Willow had been adamant that it might be the last jolt that allowed their boys to cross back to human form, and if not it was at least preserving a species.
The females were allowed to remain in the enclosure, though Spike and Xander seemed to be despondent. They divided their time equally between their respective mates and each other, yet both felt they should somehow want more… Their regular inattention suited the females, both now busy claiming their birthing spaces, and close to term at three months pregnant, had definite burgeoning bellies.
As Dawn sat down just inside the door she observed something rather strange. Wild tigers were solitary – even pregnant females. But their four tigers were rather civil to each other, and there was a general air of resignation and silent companionship between the two females which just did not fit. That night she researched the background of the two females, and all but confirmed her suspicions.
Willow and Dawn cross referenced the time the owner had obtained his ‘girls’ and from where. And after a minimum of effort it was more than apparent that Amilie was the missing, presumed dead, female handler from the Paris zoo who had disappeared four years previously; and the other, Fruini, likely to be the veterinarian from a private ‘Big Game Park’ in the Sweden. It was a disturbing revelation but did explain some of their behaviors, and to some extent the events following the births.
Willow discussed the possibility of the cubs having human souls given their heritage, with Giles and Rhianon, but there really was no precedent. They would simply have to wait.
Fruini chose the hollow log in the exercise area and was pacing agitatedly on day ninety six. Dawn knew the signs. Late that night, Dawn and Umbhala watched the tigress as she bedded down and proceeded to lick her vulva determinedly. An hour later she had produced three tiny, blind cubs. She dutifully broke the sack and licked each one clean, then lay back and waited for them to locate her teats. After a series of tiny squeaks and random searching, each little mouth eventually located its milk source.
Amilie gave birth to four little white cubs in a faux cave (purpose built) three days later. Both mothers were ‘adequate’ for the first few days, though Dawn rescued the ‘runt’ of Amilie’s litter and began to feed him by hand before deciding that all the cubs were in danger. On the fourth day Amilie had flopped down, apparently to feed them but as the tiny bodies scrambled toward her warmth, she seemed to change her mind. She stood and stalked out of the den leaving the blind little ones mewling with hunger. She didn’t return.
Dawn and Umbhala rescued the small figures and fed them. With feeds six times a day and massaging to help the little bodies excrete afterwards, it was almost a full time job. But on the third day something wonderful occurred.
Spike had shown only a passing interest in the cubs having been ‘warned’ off by Amilie. After her departure however, on the third day, he entered the cave Amilie had chosen and flopped down on the bed soft straw and blanket that Dawn had provided. Dawn watched curiously then took a chance. She cautiously introduced him to his children in turn… he meticulously licked each one, then simply settled on his side to allow them to snuggle in and enjoy his warmth and comfort. It was uncharacteristic in the extreme, but Spike made a devoted and attentive parent to his tiny offspring. After that Dawn and Umbala’s work became far easier. They simply fed them, and Spike licked, cleaning then and stimulating their bodily motions, and provided the parental comfort they needed, and the babies grew.
Amilie was sent home. Her aggression toward not only her own young, but that of Fruini’s quickly became deadly in its intent. It was decided her task was done.
Xander’s experience was utterly different. His mate was a wonderful and attentive mother, and seemed accommodating, allowing the sire of her children to settle nearby, though he had yet to make physical contact with any of his cubs. Even after a fortnight, the tiny figures seemed to stare into space rather than focus on him. He frequently joined Spike for solace and was surprised by a strange feeling of hurt at seeing Spike attending his brood.
Spike allowed his true partner close and licked the beloved golden and black ears.
As all the cubs grew and began to venture out of the lair however, Xander was allowed time with his offspring. The mother of his children tolerated the interaction and toward the end of the third week, even trusted him enough to wander off to swim, leaving three little squirming, biting, squeaking and growling figures in his care. Umbhala commented that it was most unusual behavior for tigers.
The separation from their cubs was delayed almost indefinitely, by the news of yet another conflict in the Gulf. The Sheikh would not risk transporting the precious animals while things were still ‘hotting up’ in the region. Dubai itself was not under attack, but they would need to transport the animals by road as well as cargo plane and of late both types of transport were being treated as viable targets. The call to the coven was calm and resolute.
The Sheikh spoke on behalf of the other breeder also. He too requested that the cubs remain at the coven. His private holding in Berkshire was hardly at risk, but was of similar mind as he did not have the same husbandry facilities as the coven, so was happy to merely visit on occasion and admire his property. Amilie was reportedly doing well and Fruini would return as soon as Willow saw fit. They would be compensated for their extra trouble and an additional staff member (or two) would be paid for to begin to school the young ones. Spike and Xander’s cubs would stay.
In truth the final offer was the icing on the cake for Umbhala and Dawn. Several of the young wiccans and two final year veterinary students from the London College were more than willing voluntary assistants. Willow suggested the same to the Sheikh who readily agreed to simply give each of the happy helpers a ‘gift’ every few months for their trouble.
Spike and Xander were not privy to any of the negotiations, though Spike felt decidedly happy when Dawn began to explain the arrangements. As they approached their fifth year as felines, he, like Xander far earlier, had begun to drift whenever a human spoke. Being unable to truly reply and often having conversations occurring around and over him that did not have anything to do with his person, he had taken to tuning out. However this situation did warrant attention, their children were to remain for now at least.
He conveyed the news to Xander via their link, simple thoughts of *stay, babies, love, here, long time* and received joyous licking for his trouble.
The little tigers were growing rapidly and after two months and seeing clearly, both sets of babies had begun to eat small amounts of meat and venture out of their respective lairs.
Fruini seemed to pine for her friend Amilie, and was far happier to be left alone despite Xander’s early attentions. She completely lost interest in feeding the cubs after the fourth week as they began to move around independently. They still needed sustenance so more bottles were introduced and Xander like Spike moved into the carer’s role.
Fruini was utterly despondent by the sixth week and took herself off to the farthest corner of the enclosure, refusing to eat for two days. Dawn called her owner who was beside himself with worry as Amilie too had stopped eating. Dawn accompanied her back to her home and was stunned to see the response of the two tigers as they met again. They circled each other then began to affectionately lick each other, chased one another around the enclosure then finally settled against one another relieved and content.
The ‘cousins’ found each other in month two as they ventured out of their respective lairs and played easily. The fine summer weather leant itself to lazy days for the adults while their combined brood of seven little cubs rolled and played for hours. More often than not Xander was found lying against Spike, semi snoozing with his large head cushioned by Spike’s torso, while various cubs took turns pouncing on the two twitching adult tails, or moved to chew ears, or simply used the two adults as climbing frames before tumbling awkwardly after attempts to ambush their small compatriots failed due to lack of coordination or miss-timing.
Willow still worried. She had been unable to contact her friends on the astral plane since the birth of the cubs.
Two Squared: 9