STAGE 2

STUFFED ANIMALS

It had been about a month since Tanta was shot and she had bounced back like nothing had happened.  She would always have a scar but she treated it like a souvenir from some grant adventure.  One good thing that came out of that whole mess was the new friend she had made; Jane came over at least once every other day to check on her and to chat with her.  Sometimes this would cause a slight panic as Jane would show up when Tarzan was there but with the extensive gardens it wasn't that hard to hide him. 

Tanta loved the stories Jane would tell her about one scrape or another Tarzan would get into while protecting her.  Of course, Jane never used his name, not even the dreaded John, but Tanta recognized who it was just the same.  Especially, since she usually had just heard the same story from Tarzan's side. 

Tanta chuckled to herself yet again as she compared the two latest stories.  Jane had come by yesterday complaining that Tarzan had stuck his handsome nose in where it wasn't wanted, again, and then spent the rest of the visit lamenting the fact that she was a New York City Detective, duly trained, and not some helpless damsel in distress that constantly needed rescuing.  And did he have to be so blasted sexy, with the smirk and the sniffing and stuff.  Tanta had just sat there making sympathetic noises and nodding sagely in the appropriate spots while trying not to offend the young lady by cackling like a demented loon. 

Later that same night Tarzan appeared right on time to give Tanta his version of the tale; he, of course, bemoaning the fact that if Jane would just quit putting herself in such dangerous situations he could quit having heart attacks.  Tanta gently suggested that Jane could take care of herself since she was a cop and not some helpless damsel, which earned her a who's-side-are-you-on-anyway glare and an explanation that since Jane was his, it was his rightful duty to protect her, whether Jane liked it or not.  That last bit earned HIM a whap upside the head and a lecture on the proper attitude one has around a 21st century lady.

Now Tanta was settling into her chair on the patio to wait for Tarzan and news on his newest romantic endeavor, as they hadn't had that much time to really talk about it.  'And here he comes.  Right on time,' she thought to herself as she noted the rustling he deliberately made so he wouldn't startle her.

"Hello, Tanta.  How are you feeling tonight?"  Tarzan greeted as her leaned down to give her a gentle hug and kiss on the cheek.  He settled down at her feet a little gingerly and laid his head on her knee.

"What's happened now, child?  Has she finally figured out you're the one leaving her the flowers and gave you an earful you didn't want?"  Tanta asked softly as she stroked his hair, it always seemed to comfort him when she did it.

John settled in a little more and sighed.  "No.  At least, I don't think she's figured it out.  She just doesn't seem to be as delighted as she was when I first started."

"Well, maybe it's time to do a grand finale on the flowers and switch to something else?"  She suggested, smiling a bit at how snuggly he was tonight.

"Okay.  But how and what?"  He replied with a bit more life in his voice as he brought his head up to look at her properly.

"Let me tell you about a Valentine's Day present my sweet Remy left for me one year…." Tanta started as she brought their heads together in a conspirator's huddle.

The next day John slipped into the apartment through Jane's window and headed straight to the dining/living room looking for Nikki.  He found her working diligently on a report her head bopping to the music blasting from her headphones.  John gave into an evil impulse and silently glided up just out of her line of sight and tapped his hand on the table just under her nose.  He let a grin of pure mischief slide across his lips as she jumped sky high and gave a shriek that would have woken the dead. He quickly changed it to his most innocently befuddled look as she spun around to glare at him.

"Damnit, John!!!  How many times have I told you not to do that?" Nikki abolished barely remembering to lower her voice.

John added a bit on contriteness to his expression and replied, "I'm sorry.  I made noise."

She sighed, "It's alright.  I probably shouldn't have had the music playing so loud.  So, what's up?"  She asked as she picked up the chair she had knocked over and pulled out the other one so they could sit.

"What kind of animals does Jane like?" John asked abruptly.

"What kind of….?  Well, she likes the big cats, like lions, panthers, and tigers.  She also likes dolphins and seals and elephants.  Oh, and hummingbirds.  Why?"  Nikki informed him thoroughly confused.  Just as John was about to answer they both heard Jane's key scrape in the lock and looked to the door, by the time Nikki turned back John was long gone.

Later that night after Jane and Nikki had come back from a movie they had decided to see and saying good night to each other, Jane turned on her bedroom light and gasped.  There, in the middle of her bed, were hundreds of rose and orchid petals spelling out the words 'Sleep Sweet'.  As she came closer her eyes moved to the head of the bed and she gave a slightly smaller gasp because lying regally on her pillows was a beautifully made large, stuffed bangle tiger.  Jane reached out and picked him, as she gave him a hug she noticed a note had been under one paw.  She shifted the tiger to one arm, which was a bit tricky, and picked up the note and read:

His name is Rajah.  May he guard your dreams well.

Jane looked at the tiger and said softly, "So you're Rajah, uh?  Well, you can sleep with me as long as you don't try to steal the covers or snore."  With that she put him back down on the pillows; careful scooped all the petals into a bag to do something with them the next day, finished getting ready for bed and, wrapping her arms around her newest protector, fell into a dreamless sleep.