Two Squared: 10
Ahmil usually visited every second weekend but with news of the theft and recovery of the cubs (edited severely by Dawn), he managed to visit his pets four weekends in a row.
Each Friday, the now rather lanky teenager raced to the enclosure and sat just inside the door until his friends noted his presence. His joy of late had been the response of the fast growing cubs. At four months they were both boisterous and affectionate and warned off by parental growls any time they ‘overstepped’ the mark’.
The littlest one Ahmil had named Nadir (‘precious’). He had been so much slower than the others since the kidnappers injured him in their hurry, but Ahmil was now thrilled to see him free of bandages and moving a little more easily than over the past weeks.
For the last month, the smallest of Spike’s litter had his rear left leg and pelvis strapped tight in an effort to allow the realigned hip and damaged ligaments to heal. The dear love had stoically put up with the limited movement, along with being prodded and poked daily by Dawn, stuck with needles, and had hurt as painful limbs were moved, apparently to aid recovery.
His physiotherapy had included some tethered paddling work in the heated *human* spa in the main garden of the coven. Nadir had come to enjoy that part very much, especially when either Dawn or Ahmil was present. He still ached in the pool but the pressure was off, and he loved the feeling of paddling toward either of the two humans who gave him so much affection.
Ahmil noticed this visit. Even though Nadir was much improved and bandage free, the little animal still waited rather timidly for the others to finish their greeting, the dreadful pain incurred by an enthusiastic bump from a sibling or cousin over the last month making him patient.
The littlest tiger gave his two fathers time to receive their customary caress, then finally Nadir padded up to the young man and rubbed his downy cheek affectionately against the boy’s leg. He was pulled up by the front legs with care and given a gentle wrestle as Ahmil fell back to enjoy the playful growl of an almost healed friend. The young tiger licked his friend’s face liberally and swished his tail with enjoyment. He and Ahmil eventually lay side by side on the soft woodchip covered ground.
Xander and Spike watched on, Spike particularly thrilled that his son was on the improve. Xander licked his partner twice under the chin in sympathy. Nadir had never had an easy time. And Xander had lived his partner’s concern. He nuzzled then licked Spike again reassuringly, perhaps now all would be well.
Within months of the fright with the cubs, the Sheikh had insisted on upgrading their security system, and yet another *secure* extension to their enclosure, particularly in light of the cubs increasing size.
He also proposed a viewing area, the idea of outsiders, even investors being able to view the beautiful animals, the publicity, brought safety. Immediately following the drama he had purchased the cubs from Fruini and Amelie’s owner, and intended to eventually move all the tigers back to Dubai. Ahmil heard of the plan, and with at least a year and a half more of school and undoubtedly university in England, wouldn’t have a bar of moving his two original pets… and also requested that Nadir stay at the coven. The others, however, were to move, and the Sheikh was speaking of breeding the tigers again.
Willow was standing staring sadly into the now rather crowded, nighttime sleeping area.
Giles stepped up behind her, “Penny for your thoughts, or are they worth a pound these days?”
“Oh Giles look at them, all of them…”
The cubs were all now three quarters grown at just over a year. The tiger habit of solo existence seemed only to apply, in the case of this family, only at some times during the day. In the late evenings, after everyone had eaten, they all still chose to sleep close together.
The role model was strong. Xander and Spike were continually in contact when they snuggled down. Xander, inevitably, gently caressed Spike’s ears with a large rough tongue while Spike licked the paw or other appendage of his friend.
“We’re losing them Giles… They’re beautiful and they are happy but we’re losing them… Last time I tried to contact them… they um… well they just didn’t seem to want to talk at all… and they are in full tiger form every time now… It used to be that at least their faces sort of come through, and sometimes even their human forms were still there… but now… Oh Giles!! The cubs are going to be gone… and I don’t even know if they understand?!”
“We’ve had this discussion before. What do you want me to say? That we should change them back for an hour or two’s respite as human/vampire? Or that we put them out of their misery? Or would you be willing to experience what they are feeling?”
“I don’t know… I don’t know Giles!! But the cubs are going to be taken!... And we can’t let that happen unless we know … at least we know that *they* know why! And where! And oh Goddess Giles … Ahmil’s father wants them to have more… and look at the little love… Nadir… Just look.” Ahmir and Nadir were lying together with Ahmir grooming the young tiger firmly with a horsehair brush, the still rather underweight tiger purring loudly. “They can’t lose their children again… we… we can’t ask them to… to… look at him Giles?! Spike’s loved boy… and……….. Oh it’s all so confusing! Giles *change me* OK If we can’t do them then do it… Change me!”
“Oh my dear Willow I don’t know that that is the best course of action… What of the side effects? If we fail to reverse the spell… You too will be … altered for all time! I simply must insist you don’t follow that course of action.”
“But I have to Giles! They have to understand and I will try … perhaps at least with the change we can talk!”
Giles sighed and rubbed his glasses, but looked in on the happy family and understood her concern.
He spoke to Rhianon
Two Squared: 11