Chapter 16: Returning Home

It was several days before Feral was released to Aras' quarters. During that time, his blood pressure was monitored and he and Aras were taught how to manage their kitten's needs under the guidance of a nurse.

Taking care of a new born kitten was a bit intimidating but both parents were fast learners. Now in their quarters, they finally had some privacy but sleep was something they were learning to catch in snatches between feeding times.

Feral, of course, felt the brunt of these times and trying to cope with recovering from giving birth. He felt wrung out and tired all the time and it made him very crabby. Aras tried to be as understanding as he could but every now and then he felt the need to slip out to take a break.

On one such escape, he had wandered to the community center where the cafeteria and shops were located. He was stopped frequently by agents congratulating him on being a father. He smiled and thanked them then managed to find a private spot where he could enjoy a little peace.

He had made sure to report in to his former boss the day after his son, Lancer, was born.

Orchid greeted him warmly, giving him a hug.

"Congratulations Aras. I hear it's a tom?"

"Yes and we named him Lancer," Aras said proudly.

"Oh, what a wonderful name. Is the Commander doing well?"

"He's exhausted but recovering quickly."

"That's wonderful, well he's waiting for you......go right on in," she told him, pressing the door release button. He gave her a cheery nod then walked through the door.

Saberforth stood up immediately and extended his paw to Aras. "Congratulations, Aras. I've heard from rumor central it's a little tom. How's your mate holding up under the never ending demands of a newborn?" He asked, smiling knowingly as they both sat down.

"He's exhausted and very crabby, sir. I do my best to be supportive and help as much as I can but I know neither of us realized just how demanding a kitten can be," Aras said ruefully.

Saberforth chuckled. "It is certainly a shock, I know by experience but the rewards are well worth the lack of sleep. What's your son's name?"

Aras couldn't stop the ear to ear grin he was sporting as he responded, "We named him Lancer, sir."

"A strong name that is." Saberforth smiled warmly at his former agent. "Being a father is very rewarding but in the beginning, you're going to wonder if you've permanently sacrificed sleep for the privilege," he chuckled again.

"So I've heard, sir and have already begun to experience that aspect," Aras said ruefully.

"I don't doubt it. So, how long does the doctor say the Commander will be confined to medical?" Saberforth asked.

"At least a few days. They want to keep an eye on his blood pressure to ensure it remains normal and that the healing process from the hard birth is continuing. We're also receiving lessons on kitten care. Despite all my reading, I seemed to be still ignorant of all the things one needs to know," Aras sighed, shaking his head.

"Ah yes, well....I found out that all the book reading and lessons were still not enough. Only the experience itself could teach you what you need to know about your particular special kitten," his former boss advised. "Well, you are welcome to stay as long as need be until the Commander has recovered enough to go home. You are returning to Megakat City, correct?" Saberforth asked.

"Yes sir. That is my new home now," Aras nodded.

"Of course," Saberforth said noncommittally. "But I wish to impress upon you that even though you've retired from service, you are still bound by its rules. I will certainly do my best to keep our business from you but......well, a lot was invested in making you the best agent we have. There may come a time when I must call on you. Understand?" He said gravely.

Aras' expression turned grim. "Yes sir, I do understand. But, don't take this wrong, I hope it doesn't happen for a long time.

"None taken, Aras and I hope for the same," Saberforth said quietly. "Well, I won't keep you from your mate. He needs you more now than ever."

"Yes sir, thank you for allowing us to stay," Aras said, standing and preparing to leave.

Saberforth just gave a nod and a wave of his paw before returning to his desk full of work.

His former superior was soo right. He was rather unprepared for the demands of being a father despite his lengthy studies on the subject and was very glad they were here where he could get advice on kitten care from the experts and extra help during these crucial first few days.

Feeling he had played 'hooky' long enough, he made his way back to the medical center. Stepping into his mate's room, he was relieved to see Ulysses napping and Lancer snoozing peacefully in his bassinet.

He walked quietly across the floor and stood next to his son's bed and stared down. His son was sleeping on his stomach, a tiny paw pressed against his mouth. He looked like a small ball of fluff, with his mother's longer fur and dark hair in an unruly thatch on his tiny head. From his father, Lancer inherited the beautiful golden colored fur with dark tips. Right now it was too early to know what color his eyes would be. To Aras, Lancer was the most beautiful thing in the world.

The peaceful interlude ended when Lancer stretched, yawned and began to jerk his limbs around, a soft querulous sound indicating his desire for someone to tend to him.

Smiling, Aras picked his son up and took him to a changing table. Lancer was a little louder with his demands to be fed by the time his father had him in a clean diaper and was carrying him to his mother who hadn't awakened.

He looked down at his mate with sympathy. Ulysses looked so wrung out still and he was loathed to wake him. He reached down with one paw and gently pulled on the bedding hiding the dark tom's chest.

Feral suddenly jerked awake, tired gold eyes quickly focusing on who was disturbing him. It was his mate and kitten standing before him. He groaned but shoved the bedding down and opened his nightshirt, flipping his bra flap down.

Aras lowered Lancer until he was comfortably settled in his mother's arms and latched onto a nipple, sucking hard. Ulysses groaned a little in pain at the kitten's forceful pull on his tender but full breast then sighed as his eyes began to drift closed once more.

Aras had learned very quickly not to disturb his mate with conversation when he was this tired. Sighing himself, he moved away from the bed and stretched, reaching his fingers toward the ceiling until he felt his spine pop, easing the tension he hadn't realized he had in his back.

Deciding to watch a little TV, he kept the sound low and settled down in a comfortable over stuffed chair. Some thirty minutes later, he got up to check on his son. Lancer was sound asleep, Ulysses' nipple just inches from his milk coated open mouth.

Tenderly, he lifted his son from his mate's slack arms. He laid his son against his chest and used his fingers to gently tap the kitten's back to release any bubbles. Moments later, he laid Lancer in his bassinet, covering him with a light blanket.

Going back to his mate's side after grabbing a clean, dry breast pad on the way there, he gently removed the wet one from Ulysses' bra, replaced with the new one then snapped the bra closed, pulled the shirt back in place then the bedding. At no time did his mate stir.

Tossing the wet pad then washing his paws, Aras returned to the TV to relax and perhaps nap before dinner was served.

A week later, Ulysses and Lancer were strong enough to travel. Aras had spent the day of their release to making their travel plans and packing their bags. The day before they were to leave, his former fellow agents put on a kitten shower and farewell party for them.

It was a grand party with lots of food, champagne, speeches, and lots of useful gifts for the kitten. Their leader, Saberforth offered more words of wisdom and a wish for happiness for the three back in Megakat City. Two days later they boarded a special jet and were finally on their way home.

Lancer slept the whole way and, Feral, much to his dismay, couldn't help but nap part of the way as well, as he was still recovering from giving birth. That made him really annoyed and he said so to Dr. Snow who had given him his last postpartum checkup.

"I'm sorry, Commander but that is just how it is for all she-kat's that give birth. Your body has undergone a major upheaval and you must allow it time to recover or you'll end up in the hospital from overwhelming exhaustion which will set your recovery back even more. Do what I've instructed and you'll back to duty in about three weeks. Whether you like it or not, you must listen to your body if you want it back to its former fitness. There are no shortcuts," Dr. Snow said firmly to his stubborn patient.

"Damn. I have so much work waiting for me and being on my backside is really getting tiresome," Feral growled unhappily.

"Can't be helped. Have a safe trip home. If you need any questions answered, Aras knows how to get a hold of me," the doctor said by way of dismissal.

Aras sighed and stared out the jet's window at the passing clouds. Ulysses was going to be a real pawful when they got back. He could see himself constantly reminding the tom to rest and he knew he would end up being the primary caretaker for their son but he knew that would be the case in the first place so he had no complaints.

The arrival in Megakat City was unheralded just as Aras hoped. They had no desire to be mobbed by the press. They took a taxi to Ulysses apartment and with the assistance of the taxi driver and the apartment's security guard, they managed to haul all the things they had been given upstairs and into the apartment.

Aras gave both a hefty tip before closing the door firmly behind them. They were home again at last. He took their son from his mother who was already flagging on his feet from the long trip.

The golden tom was glad he had called ahead to have Sgt Fallon install the new bassinet he had ordered and outfitted with bedding so it was ready for the kitten's arrival. Also, it appeared the old enforcer had stocked the fridge, aired the apartment and did a little housework in anticipation of their return. He would have to thank Fallon for his thoughtfulness when he saw him next.

He laid their still sleeping son into his new bed, went to pull down the bedding on their master bed, then went after his mate who was attempting to move some of the things stacked in the foyer to put them away.

"Leave that be, Ulysses. Come on and lay flat for a few hours. I'll take care of that stuff and order dinner," he ordered his mate, steering the dark tom toward the bedroom.

"Uhmph........alright, though it seems like I've already slept away the day," Feral rumbled irritably.

"Yeah, travel will do that," Aras agreed, glad his mate wasn't fighting him as he held Ulysses by the waist and walked him to the bedroom.

He helped the tom strip off his travel clothes and, in his underwear and bra only, Feral collapsed onto the bed gratefully. Smiling tenderly at his mate, Aras pulled the covers over the exhausted tom and left the room to put things away.

For the next couple of weeks, Aras felt like pulling his fur out. His mate was like a grouchy bear trapped in a cage.

Feral loved his son dearly but was hating being confined and his mate was bearing the brunt of his ire. The only thing that made any of it bearable was having access to his laptop and Sgt Fallon's regular visits with documents, reports, and news of the doings at Enforcer Headquarters.

At least twice, Aras had to forcibly confine his mate when an omega attacked. On those two occasions, Ulysses was furious at the golden tom for his interference but Aras would not back down and in both cases the enforcers and the SWAT Kats got the job down with few casualties and property damages.

Aras had done a good job of keeping their presence in the city a secret. Only certain individuals as well as Sgt Fallon knew Feral was even back in town. Aras absolutely did not want the Mayor's office nor the omegas to know the Commander had returned so that Feral would be completely recovered to handle the stress.

'You would have thought he'd been shot from a cannon,' Aras mused as he watched his mate rapidly get ready for work, three weeks to the day of their return to the city.

The dark tom had finally been given the green light to return to work without restrictions. Little Lancer was growing fast and was beginning to spread his need to be fed to longer periods allowing Ulysses to sleep better at night. Having pumped enough milk over that last few days, Aras would be able to meet his son's needs while his mother returned to work.

So it was, a happy and anxious Chief Enforcer, was giving his mate and son a quick, warm kiss before heading out the door at nearly a run. Aras shook his head in amusement as he shut the door.

"Well, my son, its just you and me now!"

Lance gave his father a milky grin. Smiling, Aras slipped his son into a sling carry and began the housework. They had been told their son would tolerate his mother's absence much easier if he spent long periods carried around. So Aras had picked up a sling device meant for that and today he would be getting used to carrying his son around.

Their lives fell into a comfortable routine. There was a spat of news on Ulysses when it was learned he had returned, that he was the mother of a son and that he was back on duty. The fervor died down after a few weeks which allowed Aras to be able to get out of the apartment and go places with their son. He took trips around the city, went shopping, the library, and looked into starting his own consulting business.

Feral found, after finally getting back to work, that he wasn't as stressed in his job as he'd once been. He wasn't sure exactly why, though Aras seemed to think it was because he had a home to go to where he could drop his cares and just be. Feral wasn't certain if that was it but he didn't obsess about it too much. All he knew was he was happy. Even the SWAT Kats had a kind word for him the first time he encountered them when he'd returned to duty.

"Congrats, Feral. Heard it was a son. Way to go guy!" T-Bone called out to him as Feral was giving out orders to have his troops clean up a mess made by an invention from Pumadyne that had run amok.

Feral turned his head toward the burly SWAT Kat who was getting ready to start his jet engines but was giving him huge grin and thumbs up as was Razor. Surprised at himself, Feral simply nodded and smiled back before returning to his work. Behind him the Turbokat rose from the ground and roared off across the sky.

He found he tolerated the pair better than when he had left. They had done a good job keeping his city safe while he was gone so he couldn't hold the fact that they were vigilantes against them as much as he had before. Life was just too good lately for him to be upset by their antics anymore.

Whistling to himself, he made for his sedan and drove back to his office. He never stayed late any more since he had a kitten and mate waiting for him at home. That thought made him smile. Yeah, life was good.