JOINING A PRIDE
Chapter 30: Epilog
A week after the kittens birth, Feral found himself reluctantly on a jet heading for the Zubari Pride Compound. They were required to present the kittens to the pride.
He felt uncomfortable about this but couldn't pinpoint why he objected beside the obvious of not wanting to expose his kittens to so many new people this early.
Dubaku had told him that was a natural reaction by a new mother and that it was an excellent sign of just how good a mother Feral was which would go a long ways to making those who thought a male couldn't possibly be as sensitive as a female change their minds.
Feral snorted in annoyance at that. "Why is that so important? Are there some that doubt me?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Not many thankfully, but certainly a few have voiced an objection to your right to raise these kittens." Dubaku said carefully. The reaction he got from that statement wasn't a surprise.
Feral's eyes flared with anger and fury. "They better not think they can take my kittens from me." He snarled a warning.
Tendaji growled his agreement to that statement.
Dubaku raised his paws and said soothingly. "I didn't say that to upset you. Only to inform you of what some of the pride females have been saying so that you would not be blind sided by some of the comments and objections you'll hear when we gather for the induction."
Feral growled and bristled for sometime afterward and wouldn't leave his kittens alone for any reason when they arrived at the compound some hours later.
Tendaji and he went to his family home. Ten's mother and father greeted them warmly and cooed over the new twins excitedly but did not ask to hold them since they could feel the pair's protectiveness showing as they held their kittens rather firmly and bared fangs when anyone got too close.
His parents and sibs took no offense and gave the new parents room to breath and settle in. Jenna had food sent to their room so they wouldn't be disturbed before the gathering later that evening.
Laying on the bed, Feral finally felt able to relax. Ten placed the kittens near their mother. They were fortunately still sleeping but would soon be crying to be fed before very long.
"Rest love. They are going to want you before too long and you're far too tired." Ten said softly.
"Yeah, I feel like I could sleep a week." Feral said with a yawn. He'd undressed down to his underwear and Ten covered him with a light blanket.
He decided to catch a little TV and keep watch over his family.
Two hours later, dinner arrived and the kittens woke to cry for their supper as well.
Eating a sandwich as he nursed his kittens with the help of pillows placed strategically by Ten, Ulysses was able to get some food into himself. He was very hungry. He hated how tired he was despite getting some sleep. The doctor had told him, exhaustion was to be expected after giving birth so a lot of rest and sleeping was expected from a new mother.
He had grumbled about that since it meant he wasn't going back to work for longer than he'd hoped. Ten had been mildly amused. He knew his mate had hoped to go back to work soon but knew better and was wise enough not to say anything to Uly and allowed his mate to discover the fact for himself.
After everyone had eaten and was dressed in comfortable clothes, Ten and Ulysses left the room, each carrying a twin. Ten's family surrounded them and led them as a group to the meeting hall.
The pride was already there sitting and waiting as they entered. Before the King and Queen was a large pad covered in a gold colored silky material. Here Ten's family led the new family and bade them sit comfortably.
Tendaji's family went to sit on cushions not far away then the King signaled the Imamus of the pride to come forward.
A group of six, including Dubaku, came forward and surrounded Ten and Ulysses. A prayer of thanks and an offering of doves were released to fly free was made. The witnesses for the birth came forward and relayed the events leading to the birth in detail much to Feral's embarrassment.
The Imamu's and the witnesses retreated to their seats then the King and Queen stood. The King made a speech welcoming the newest members of the pride. What he said next made Feral tense.
"Now my people. Are there any here who has any objection to the twins being accepted into the pride? Speak now." He commanded.
A small group of females stood. "We object our King."
The King frowned but said, "What is your objection?"
"Your majesty!" One of the female acted as spokesman. "We don't feel a male is an appropriate caretaker of kittens. It has always been the responsibly of the females to take care of and educate our young."
"I can appreciate your reasons but you must understand that this male is both sexes and our rules cannot be applied to him." The Queen spoke up in answer.
"We are trying to understand that our Queen but we still find we cannot accept that this male can take care of a kitten's needs properly." The female said shaking her head, the rest nodded in agreement.
Infuriated, Ulysses stood and snarled. "No one is taking my kittens from me. I carried them for seven months though the risk was greater than it is for you. I heard their heartbeats and listened to their soft murmurs as they grew within me. I feed them breast milk just as you do. I have all that they need though I'm male in appearance. I will hurt badly any who tries to take them away from me." He warned coldly as he held his kitten tightly to him.
The females eyed the male narrowly. His fierce defense was really no different than a father protecting his family. They did not see anything as yet that would convince them this male could care for kittens as a female would. Though the points he'd brought up in his defense were valid ones.
"I am sorry but we remain unconvinced." She said simply.
Feral snarled again and bristled. Ten had also risen and was holding his other twin tightly against his own chest. His raised fur and his bared fangs showed his support of his mate.
The Queen stared at the pair that had suffered much to get this far and made a decision. She turned to her mate and whispered to him. The King eyed the pair as well then nodded.
Clearing his throat, the King looked toward the group of females. "Your objection has been noted and rejected. It is our conclusion that this male is indeed capable of caring for his kittens correctly. He has all the proper motherly instincts and though he also possesses a male's point of view that does not negate his very real instincts to provide and protect his offspring he gave birth to. It is our decision that Ulysses will not have his kittens taken and will have the right to rear them himself. This ends the matter." He declared.
The objecting females nodded in obedience and sat back down.
"Ulysses and Tendaji, hold your kittens aloft for all to see!" The King commanded.
Reluctantly, Ten and Ulysses did so. There was silence then the room filled with the roars of approval and welcome to the newest members of the Zubari Pride.
The sound awakened the twins and set them to crying. Ulysses immediately sat down and hugged the female close and then signaled for the male. Ten handed him over and allowed his mate to coo and cuddle both twins to his chest.
The females who had objected watched the male and was mollified to see his behavior as he managed his kittens fear. This went a long way toward them feeling better about the King's decision.
When the introduction was finished, Feral was glad when they were allowed to leave. He was soo very tired and still upset by the near chance that his kittens would have been taken from him to be raised by others.
Back in their room he turned to his mate as he laid the kittens on the bed.
"Can we leave tomorrow?" He demanded.
Ten's eyes raised in surprise. "Well normally, we attend a feast in honor of our new parent status and the kittens would be greeted by the pride so they gain the scent of their pride mates."
"No! They are too young and I will not have that many people sniffing my kittens." Feral said firmly.
"Well, there is no hard and fast rule that says we must do this now. The only reason we had to come back at all was because the kittens weren't born in the compound as all others had been. If you're that upset my love then I'll get permission to leave tomorrow morning. Alright?" He asked soothingly.
"Yes. I want to leave here. I don't feel safe or comfortable." Ulysses said tightly.
"Alright, I'll take care of it. Rest now. I know how tired you are. I'll lock the room so you'll feel safe and don't worry about getting up, I have a key." Ten sighed in resignation.
"Okay. Thank you!" Uly said relaxing finally and laying down next to the kittens, pulling them close.
"You're welcome, my love." Ten said tenderly then left the room.
He searched for his father and found him in his office. "Father, Ulysses wishes to leave tomorrow morning. What happened at the introduction has made him feel uneasy and unhappy. I don't want my mate this upset." He told him.
His father sat back in his chair in consternation. "But son, you know it is required for the kittens to be greeted by the rest of the pride."
"Nothing says it has to be now, Father. Pride rules allow for kittens to be a little older before going through that." Ten said firmly.
"Well that is true. Very well my son, I will get permission for you from the King. I have a feeling he will grant it rather easily after what went on today. You and your mate get some rest now. I'll see you in the morning." His father said in resignation.
"Thank you, Father. Good night!" Ten murmured in relief, giving his father a hug.
The next morning, Ten and his little family rode back to the airport and were soon in the air returning to Megakat City.
Feral sighed in relief when they arrived back at their remote home and the kittens had been fed and put to bed. He turned and gave his mate a hug and a kiss.
"Thank you for getting us home." He murmured happily.
"I only want what makes you happy, my love." Ten said warmly, kissing firmly in return.
On the heels of their return, Felina told them why Viper had tried to grab her uncle.
"It was the strangest thing. Viper finally admitted that he and Dark Kat had planned to take down Enforcer Headquarters once you were out of the way, Uncle. When Dark Kat was captured, he tried to finish the plan. "
Feral and Ten could only shake their heads at the stupidity of their enemies.
A year later.............
It wasn't until the kittens were just past their first year did they go and do the official greeting. Little Kiara and Byron stood curiously before the large group of adult lions and waited for the ceremony of greeting to begin. Behind them, standing proudly were their parents.
Feral felt much more comfortable this time around and felt vindicated as he proved to the Pride that he was indeed a good mother as his kittens made him proud when they easily greeted each member of the Pride in proper fashion.
He may not have chosen to be a lion's mate but he had finally set aside his resentment when he beheld his kittens shining faces as they were welcomed properly into the Pride. His heart swelled with joy at being so loved by his mate. His life was now fuller than it had ever been.
As for Felina, she and Kunto continued their on-going relationship. Feral was a bit amazed by his niece's change of heart but didn't object since Kunto had proven to be a loyal friend and allie of their family. He wished her luck and happiness. She adored her new cousins and enjoyed babysitting them when asked by her uncles. Maybe she would change her mind about mating but for now she was just happy with the way things were for now.