TRIALS OF MOTHERHOOD, Continued
Author's Note: A short story set in The Tiger's Mate world.
He lay on a wide, thickly cushioned divan chair in the warm sunshine that shone through the solarium windows in the indoor garden, Shere had lovingly designed in one wing of their penthouse apartment. Lying curled asleep beside his body in a row were his newborn triplets.
Even as he gently caressed the one closest to him, he was in a daze of wonder at the tiny forms. He had given birth to these little miracles less than two weeks ago and the amazement still had not worn off. He was completely sleep deprived. His head felt as if it was floating and his eyelids were forever heavy. Despite that he wouldn't trade this incredible moment for anything else in the world.
His peace was disturbed by soft footsteps approaching. He looked up sleepily as his mate came in followed by Mayor Manx and Deputy Mayor Briggs.
His mate smiled warmly at him and gazed tenderly down at his brood of kittens.
"I'm glad you are awake, my love. The Mayor and Ms. Briggs wished to see you and the kittens for just a moment. We won't stay long." He assured Ulysses keeping his voice soft.
"Ahh, Commanderrr, they arre the most beauutiful kittens I have everrr had the pleasure of seeing." Mayor Manx said keeping his voice low as well. His eyes bright with delight. "You arrre one very lucky tiger, Mr. Khan." He said, patting the tiger on the back.
"They are soo sweet sleeping like that but I bet they keep you awake a lot right now if your exhausted look is any indication, Commander." Callie murmured, smiling sympathetically.
She couldn't help note how awful Feral looked. His eyes could barely stay open and he looked utterly exhausted. She admired the silk lounging pajamas he wore. He had a pile of comfortable pillows under his head and a soft beige blanket draped over his lower half. The kittens were laying against their mother's body in a row, each only wearing a diaper and t-shirt. Their beautiful tawny and black stripped bodies a clear indication of who their father was and short thatches of black hair from their mother.
"You are soo right, Ms. Briggs. I can't remember what a full night's rest felt like." Feral said ending the comment on a huge yawn he covered with his paw.
"We will leave you to rest, my love. Is there anything you need?" Shere asked tenderly leaning down to kiss his mate warmly.
"No I'm fine, Shere. Just want to sleep now!" Feral muttered, yawning again his eyes closing without his permission. They were too heavy to open again so he gave in and laid his head back down on his pillows, sleep closing over him quickly.
"The little ones drain him a great deal. What sleep he can catch is a blessing." Shere whispered as he led his guests away from his now deeply slumbering mate.
"I'm sure the little darrlings are quite the handful even at this tenderrr age." Manx said sagely as they left the solarium and made for the front door.
The birth of the triplets to a hermaphrodite male was the talk of the town and brought welcome publicity that helped cover the other more destructive occurrences caused by the omegas. The Mayor was capitalizing on that to increase tourism and help beef up the coffers that had been sadly depleted of late despite the new influx of business by Khan Industries.
"Yes they are indeed! Even with the assistance of staff there are just some things Ulysses will not allow and that is anyone else but myself to assist in feeding them right now. Even though it drains him significantly, he is determined to give our kits the best start in life and that means nursing them himself." Khan said seriously.
"But with three kittens, he certainly can't breastfeed them all?!" Callie exclaimed in surprise.
"He rotates each one allowing them to nurse for a little before handing them to me for additional feedings. You are right that he can't feed them completely but he does manage to give them enough to keep them full and growing." Khan said with pride.
"No wonder he's soo tired. That also means he will not be returning to work real soon. Has the doctor said when he'll be allowed to go back to work?" Callie asked.
"Well I realize maternity leave is normally six weeks but the doctor strongly urges Ulysses to stay home for at least ten weeks due to having multiples. The birth process and the ceaserean were very hard on my mate's body. After all, a male was never meant to be pregnant and though most hermaphrodites manage to do so there has been no record of one carrying as many as Ulysses did. So I quite agree with the doctor's caution." Khan explained. "Ulysses is stubborn and thinks he'll return sooner but as you can see, he's far too optimistic on that estimate." He sighed shaking his head at that bit of pigheadedness by his mate.
Mayor Manx's eyes widened, "But that's far too long for this city to be without it's Chief Enforcer!!!" He objected.
"My mate's health and the welfare of the kittens comes first before his job and your wishes, Mayor Manx. Uly's second in command and his niece, Lt. Feral are quite capable of handling things for that long." Khan said coldly, getting a little miffed at the Mayor's attitude.
"You are correct, Mr. Khan. The enforcers will manage without him. Commander Feral's health and well being is of prime importance to us both. Please keep us informed on his progress." Callie quickly interjected to soothe Khan's ire. She tugged on the Mayor to get him to leave and not say anything more to upset the wealthy industrialist.
"Ah, yes of courrse. You are right. All the best to yourrr new family, Mr. Khan." Mayor Manx said placatingly, realizing he'd put his foot in it and hastily stepped out the door of the penthouse to avoid anymore problems.
"Thank you for stopping by. A good day to you both." Khan said his equanimity restored.
"Good day to you sir." Ms. Briggs said in return as she joined the Mayor. She led the way to the elevator, the Mayor following. They heard the door behind them close quietly.
On the elevator, Mayor Manx voiced his concern, "Callie you know Feral's second isn't all that skilled at leading. What if an omega were to strike while Feral's out?"
"Commander Feral took great care selecting his second in command, Mayor. Give him a chance. If we're lucky it won't matter the omegas might give us a break." Callie said with a sigh. Praying that it would be true. Privately, she planned on asking the SWAT Kats to step up their patrols and aid the enforcers a bit more while Feral was out of commission.
Mayor Manx sighed in defeat and said nothing more as they excited the elevator and left the building for his limousine parked out front.
Megakat Salvage Yard a few days later...
"Hey Chance look at the latest Kat's Magazine." Jake called to his partner shoving a magazine under his nose as he was eating his lunch.
"Aww, they look soo cute!" Chance said smiling as he stared at the pictures of Feral's new triplets.
"Yeah aren't they though!" Jake grinned taking back the magazine and studying the pictures more closely. "I can understand why Callie asked us to watch the city a little closer. These little beauties have to be exhausting Feral. You can tell in the picture he can hardly stay awake." He smirked.
"Couldn't have happened to a nicer Kat," Chance said in sarcastic humor. Though he had to admit that Feral had done something brave by carrying triplets and giving birth. The tabby had to give Feral grudging respect for that.
"Well time to get back to work, buddy. Need to get the cars done so that we can get out on patrol." Chance said as he cleaned up his mess and headed back to the garage.
"Yeah, you're right." Jake said agreeably taking a last look at the pictures before dropping it to the table and following his partner out.
Elsewhere in the world...
"Humph where did you get this rag?" Snorted a disdainful voice.
"Doesn't matter, look at the picture." Another voice snapped in irritation.
"What, it's just a picture of a hermaphrodite with triplets. It's unusual I grant you but I still don't understand why it has you so uptight." The first voice said puzzled.
"Look who the sire is you fool!" The other voice snapped again, losing his patience with his companion for his denseness.
"Umm...woah! Shere Khan is the father?!!!" The first voice said in shocked amazement.
"Yes!" Hissed the second voice. "My rival is now on everyone lips! It's bad enough he leads the industry but now this..." He spit furiously snatching the magazine back and tossing it into the fireplace watching it burn with glittering eyes.
"Well I don't see what you can do about it. You're not married and you don't like males. This will lose its appeal eventually." His companion said shrugging his shoulders.
"Yes very true but meanwhile he rakes in the attention and increases his profits at the same time. I must find a way to push past. I'm tired of being number two." He snarled.
"Well unless you can give birth or invent something totally new, I don't see how you're going to." His companion stated plainly and sighed having heard this before.
Sighing in angry frustration, Sultan, CEO of Miniversal Corporation, dropped into his comfortable chair. "I know that. It still rankles that Khan gets all that free publicity. It's indecent." He grumbled grabbing his glass of wine and downing it in one gulp.
His friend just gave a commiserating nod and wisely didn't comment.