It was only days ago the sun was an abrupt but welcome presence stepping out of the forest. Open fields and high tall grass had always been the kind of terrain she was most comfortable in, it was just another gift she smiled inwardly at, if she closed her eyes and took in a long, deep inhale she wouldn't just smell the soil, the sweet grain or the stream that lay just a quarter mile to the east, she'd breathe in the fading scents of all others that had passed here, lingering long after footsteps had faded.
"Which way is this stream again? I can't see!" WileyKit whined. She cursed her small stature in the long grasses, she couldn't see a thing and her neck was getting sore from craning it to pinpoint the two older cats.
A head of wild hair bobbed along next to the kitten until her brother had managed to make a large circle round Kit, her large green eyes seeing only the grass shift around her as he moved about.
"Probably not too much further," Cheetara responded taking leisurely but long steps ahead.
"We'd better hurry, looks like it'll be getting dark in a few hours," Tygra observes.
She'd almost forgotten he was behind her, he hadn't said much on their trudge through the grass and the only indication of his presence was the occasional crackle of dry grass under his feet. He was usually soundless and now he's nearly dragging, it was very hot and she'd learned quickly unlike her Tygra didn't seem to tolerate the heat well.
He was a cat more adapted for snow and wind and rain, his denser coat working against him in the hot dry weather and she could tell he was a bit uncomfortable, almost sluggish as shade had been hard to come by all day.
He'd wanted to come along to search for water, needing to stretch his legs he said, though she's sure he just wants to be near her and she's more than okay with that.
He probably regrets it and Cheetara seeks some way to take his mind off of it.
"Don't tell me you're afraid of the dark?" the cleric teased.
A humid breeze stirs her hair and she tugs the errands strands back, Tygra's stomach does an odd but pleasant flop at the playful glint in the cheetah's eyes. "Of course not, just harder to keep track of those two in the dark out here."
From somewhere in the grass a few paces behind the two of them Kit and Kat had mostly vanished, if not for their long tails waving like a white flag.
"They'll be along they've never had a hard time following before especially with you here."
She knew she sounded dismissive, under normal circumstances in this dangerous world outside of Thundera she wouldn't dream of turning her back on two kittens their age. But WileyKat and WileyKit were not the average kittens.
"Especially with me here?"
She nods using her staff as a sort of walking stick as she trudges uphill. "They'd follow you anywhere; it's even hard to get away from them when you're around. You're a package deal."
Tygra grins at her, "jealous?"
Cheetara just bites back a smile refusing to feed his ego.
She is relieved to see the stream they'd trekked for visible in the distance. "Looks like you were right, water."
He shrugs, "figured with the animal tracks heading west and the lower valleys that direction we'd run into water eventually, didn't think it'd be this soon."
The edge of the stream is sandy and the terrain cool cloaked with the bank of evergreens, the water runs clear as a crystal and she drops to her knees to cup her hands and drink as does Tygra and they both sigh in relief for their parched lungs.
Tygra lifts his head noticing Cheetara's eyes upon him. He smiles fondly at her, "what?"
She shrugs, "nothing."
He only grunts with the tug of a smile both content in the peace and solitude of only the other.
The clamor of the two cubs breaks the peace of the two cats' moment as they thunder to the water's edge plunging their faces in.
It doesn't seem to be enough as the twins begin to wade in it till it's up to their shoulders.
"Finally water, thought we were gonna burn alive! All that walking!"
"Feels so perfect! It's soooo hot!" Kit chimes.
"We've only gone a few miles out from our camp; don't tell us you're winded from a short little walk?" Cheetara asks beginning to free her pack from her shoulders searching for her water skin.
"Short? It felt like a million years in this heat!"
Cheetara hands Tygra a now full waterskin and he takes it stuffing it into a pack. "Well come out of there, we'll need that water for drinking, baths and swims downstream in the still water," the tiger commands.
The kits grumble waddling out of the rushing water and Tygra hands Kit a full bottle and she greedily seizes it.
"Share with Kat, there's only so many," he reminds her.
Kit makes a face but doesn't protest.
Tygra is looking off into the trees, there's a hardness to his brow that she recognizes as the beginnings of his thinking face.
"What are you thinking?" Cheetara asks hoisting the bag to one shoulder.
"Going to be cooler here than the hillside, I think we should make camp here for the night no sense in a hot uncomfortable night in the hills. Plus we have a pretty large water source right here for bathing and drinking."
She agreed it was probably best, at least then the kits wouldn't keep them awake half the night complaining about the heat and everyone in general was less likely to be as surly with a good night's sleep before they journeyed on.
They'd have so little time alone, which had at first been heavenly stealing kisses under the stars and quiet conversation but in recent days her feelings were shifting, evolving to something else and there was churning within her, something deep and primal that was building. She can tell he's being careful with her and slow in their courtship and she's more than grateful and impressed with him understanding without her awkward explanation of this being wholly brand new for her. She'd never been touched before, never kissed and when he does she reminded of why she's always wanted this with him and her mind becomes a pleasant haze.
But she's having thoughts lately and feeling strange things, like she's raring to run in a race, blood roaring in her ears every time he's around her. An excitement that differs from the fuzzy warmth, it's…darker somehow and even though Tygra treats her with the same gentle reverence it niggles setting her nerves on edge.
She blames her newness at this whole thing and seeks mediation to center herself a few hours at a time when she can and Tygra seems to know she needs her space as he isn't seen much during that time.
She's glad more when they come together after some time apart even for routine things like water runs.
"We'll have to get back to Panthro and Lion-O and see what they think; I don't imagine either will be too happy about packing up or resetting camp."
"Like it or not its our best option if we're going to rest in these parts a few days, we all need it. Why don't you and the kits go back to camp let them figure out what we're doing, I'll catch up."
He watching the rush of the stream and she kneels to fill the last bottle. "And…where are you going?"
He seems to pause before answering, "Figured I'd scout the perimeter, check and see what food can be gathered, hunting or foraging is gonna be best around a water source. If I don't see you back when the sun starts to set I'll head back with what I find."
Tygra's words make all the sense in the world but it doesn't mean she likes them, she knows she's being silly to even be concerned as Tygra was more than capable of handling himself and that it would only be a few hours at best and he often hunted solo anyway.
"If we aren't back an hour before dark…" she starts.
Tygra finishes, "I'll head right back then."
She'll take it and the three cats head off with their packs of supplies.
Both kits immediately resume their grumbling about the heat and Cheetara is grateful for the background noise as they go along, she's just ahead of them taking long strides that are easy enough for a long-legged cat like her but the kittens do their best hopping along in the tall grass.
They laugh uproariously stumbling upon a gathering of grasshoppers, startled by their jumping on ears and faces.
She watches them for a moment as they can afford a small stop, they are making good time. The poor cubs needed a bit of fun, besides it would take their mind off of carrying the heavy waterskins.
Cheetara frowns noticing only two packs, her own and Kit's bouncing she hops along.
"Kat where's your pack?"
He doesn't hear her, shoving his paws out to his sister who's doing her best to avoid whatever is cupped in them.
"What?" he calls.
"Your pack," she tries again.
Kat frowns with big gold eyes looking sheepish, "guess I forgot it."
Both kittens turn expectant large eyes up at the cheetah neither willing to walk the distance back.
They've reached a half way point and walking back with two kittens would only take more time than necessary to retrieve the bag, it'd be easier to just grab it on her own and it would only take a minute, less even for her.
"Wait here, I'll be right back."
She's off like a cannon blast and her run is all too short before the rush of the stream reaches her ears.
Cheetara finds the lonely green canvas bag right where it was left at the river's edge.
A dragonfly zips past her nose and she notices just a flash of motion further downstream where the water is mostly still but for the bob of movement just below the surface.
She hopes Tygra is nearby, fish would be much easier to come by than hunting for game and she swings the bag onto her hip before heading downstream.
Cheetara passes quietly through the thicket of trees and river rock keeping in mind Tygra may already be in the middle of a hunt or catch.
The cleric stops where she is just at the edge of the trees with the splash of the water's surface breaking and there's Tygra.
Her breath is suddenly frozen in her lungs because she can see him clearly now and every stripe he has is on display and everything else he has.
He's completely nude and up to his knees in water raking both sets of claws through his wet mane oblivious to his audience and she's sure she can't move.
In her 20 seasons she's never seen a nude cat before, well she-cats yes, as there was no sense in modesty amongst gender mutual peers, but never a male.
He looks carved from stone, or marble, unlike a she-cat he doesn't have soft curvatures anywhere. And each hard plane ripples with movement, even the simple inhale and exhale of breath causing sensuous contracting of lower abdominals where water droplets pool in the hollow of his navel.
Despite the coolness and her level of hydration being good Cheetara feels her throat dry.
She knew all about male anatomy, a cleric was greatly familiar with all forms of animal anatomy for the sake of combat even cats, especially toms. Anatomy texts and scrolls failed to illustrate anything like the large organ dangling between the tiger's sculpted thighs and her pulse pounds and her skin goes hot.
He is…a beautiful cat.
Its only seconds and the prince's striped figure disappears into the water with a graceful arc and the cleric finds herself running, nearly bolting away with the prince none the wiser.
It is hours later at the stream's edge with the relocated company that Cheetara is still thinking on it. They had returned an hour later after both the lion and the panther's approval, the cheetah riding along in the tank after unhurriedly helping pack and then reload.
She feels…uncomfortable and doesn't know what to make of how hot the air around her seems, hotter even as the sun goes down and she wonders if she's imagining things or simply broadcasting physically her guilt.
Lion-O is watching her, perhaps with some misplaced concern as she knows she's very flushed, but he says nothing, just as he has for most of the day. He'd been just as quiet as she and Tygra, and Panthro, in fact all of them were, groggy and quiet in the humid day and she doesn't fault him for his silence.
But there's more than that, there's an air about Lion-O that's more than moody and she can't put her finger on it.
Tygra is standing at the river's edge upstream, arms folded, waiting for them. She notes his fur is dry and his armor perfectly arranged, with no evidence of his swim.
"About time," is all he says addressing Panthro who simply grunts.
"It's hardly sunset," Lion-O replies dispassionately climbing out after.
Cheetara wonders if she's imagining Tygra's gaze darkens following his brother's movement past him before his expression shifts with his eyes finding her.
She swallows down a lump in her throat before approaching because her heart is still pounding with her secret fresh in her mind. "Did you happen to find us anything to eat?"
He grins easy at her, "of course, you're not going hungry on my watch."
He had fished and their fire continues long after dinner is cooked with Panthro doing the honors, she sits with both a full belly and a full mind next to Tygra who hasn't eaten much and if she thinks about it nor has Lion-O.
The crackle of fire catches her attention and Panthro is towering over the seated cats.
"Best we camp in the tank tonight, all this forest can't even see the moon out and our fire won't hold up for the night, conditions are too windy."
The panther is right, the night was going to be pitch-black and no cat would even be able to see their paws in front of their face soon.
The advice is good but more than anything doesn't wish to spend her night inside the tank again, she's still flushed and hot since they arrived, the shade and nearness of the water doing nothing to help. She's not sure she can take another night in there crowded and hot enough to crawl from her skin.
"I'll take a tent," Cheetara decides, "I need the fresh air."
"No. It's too dangerous for you to be alone out here, everyone will sleep in the tank, one more cramped night won't kill any of us."
The king's words are dismissive and resolute, leaving no room for debate and she knows she's being commanded.
"I'll stay with her," Tygra offers.
And just like that there's tension in the air.
Lion-O turns his eyes to Tygra with a scowl biting his words out with fangs, "I said it's too dangerous and I mean for any and everyone."
Cheetara nods, unwilling to display her disappointment.
As her king commanded and she's very tired and sure she won't be sleeping.
Tygra bristles at the whole exchange and she swears she hears him growling low in his throat but she isn't sure because there's the guttural sound of Panthro loudly clearing his throat.
"Sleep outside then. Perfect I can get some sleep without you two mindlessly locking horns tonight." The panther is entirely dismissive as he hands Tygra the rolled canvas. "It's going to get cold, stay together and stay close to the tank."
The huge cat had practically kicked them out in a hurry.
They are alone with only the dark and a dying fire as the tank whirls shut, Tygra grins wolfishly, "well looks like just you and me."
When Cheetara awakens Tygra is already gone and she lies between sleep and waking letting her mind wander to her company and its present state.
Tygra, Lion-O and this thing that seperates them and she wonders if she's to blame for this new thing.
She'd thought they were over this hurdle, this confusion she'd not meant to contribute to and had regardless. She'd seen the way they'd postered the previous evening over her want, her need to sleep under the stars and it exasperates her that their conflict still refuses to be buried.
Tygra had clearly refused what was an order simply for her sake and she wonders if she's wrong in believing the brothers could have come to blows, their dance had been exactly the same as she had seen a hundred times before but there was a quiet, a stillness that only follows an explosion she had seen in them.
Tygra's mood had lifted the moment they'd found themselves alone, but they simply pressed close and he'd slept before she'd a chance to speak with him curled round her possessively and the open tent flap helps as she feels her temperature climb.
And she's still thinking on her intrusion to his private swim and she feels a tingle and itch as she trickles with sweat and moisture and it's all so overwhelming, everything.
She searches briefly for her last waterskin, knowing she's been going through them very quickly lately.
And she's lost her own supply pack.
She sighs, of course.
Cheetara has barely stepped outside her tent, noticing it is later in the morning than she realized and she's still a bit tired.
Tygra presents her tiny travel bag out to her with flourish and a grin. "Looking for this?"
Her ruby red eyes light in wonder and a surprised smile graces her face. "You found it."
"By the river this morning, you must have dropped it when you left," he says proudly.
Her stomach drops and she steals a glance at his expression, but he seems truly none the wiser to the real reason the bag was so easily forgotten at the river. It doesn't make her feel any better if anything she feels even worse.
She had come to find him to discuss the two brothers in hopes to figure out what was going on with the two of them.
Clearly it would have to wait as her paws were not exactly clean either.
And she dreaded it.
Tygra notices her joyful expression drops in an instant.
"Thank you," she murmurs in an almost mechanical way.
Her eyes will not meet his and her ears pull back and seem to wilt with her whole body. She looks anxious and awkward; he thinks it is a beautifully sweet but worrisome expression he's sure he's never seen before on her.
His large paw cups her delicate face and her eyes are wide with some strange inner struggle.
She's sure she'll feel much better just confessing and apologizing for behaving so dishonorably.
Her own hand reaches to join his at her cheek. "I was spying on you."
There. The knot of guilt in her belly untwists and she feels like she can breathe again.
His expression is one of great puzzlement, as though asking her to clarify and the knot tightens again in anxiety.
"At the river after we left to run the water back."
She watches his brows rise in shock. He blinks as though trying to clear his vision of something.
Tygra isn't sure he's heard her correctly or if in fact he is even awake right this moment. It's too strange for it not to be some dream he can blame on bad rajh root they'd used to season their fish catch the previous night.
Or it's her idea of a joke. A confusing and bizarre one, but the cleric is full of surprises, usually some greater wisdom or magic but never mischief, especially anything so suggestive. If the goal of this experiment of hers is to pique his interest it definitely has and he wonders what she's up to and if he even knows her at all to pull such an uncharacteristic prank..
He just stares at her dumbfounded by her confession and its implications, watching his beautiful companion's cheeks color.
So… Not a joke.
He remembers taking a swim in the group's absence, the heat being too much and seeming to follow him well into the night despite it.
Cheetara watches Tygra's expression shift and a smug and absolutely wicked grin lights his face and seems to get wider as he watches her struggle with her embarrassment. She's sure it isn't possible for a cat to look anymore self-inflated than he does.
"You were watching me wash?"
He doesn't need her confirmation as much as he needs to voice it aloud to believe it.
"Yes and for that I am sorry."
He doesn't say anything else for several long moments, unsure what exactly can be said and she seems to be waiting for some sort of berating from him that will not come. He cannot exactly find anything but flattery and surprise stirring around in his mind and interest in his loins.
A deep interest that has been hard to ignore.
"Why?" he wonders.
He's not sure if he's asking why she feels the need to be sorry or why Cheetara was acting so out of character in the first place.
That pink to her cheeks only becomes more vibrant till it seems to blend well into her eye markings, becoming a part of them. She looks cornered and almost scared and he can't quite figure out why.
He just knows she's seems to be having a hard time with the question, it looks almost painful for her to try to flounder her way through an explanation.
Tygra has seen her squirm long enough, he has no interest in seeing her completely uncomfortable.
"No harm done," he replies smoothly. He gives her a smile that he hopes is reassuring but he's pretty sure his eyes aren't able to lie about his interest. "And no crime in being curious."
Cheetara nods, taking a step backward to dismiss herself but Tygra is quick to catch hold of her arm and she nearly jumps from the sudden flash burn of contact.
His hand easily wrapping round the whole circumference of her upper arm and he has a fleeting thought of her light and thin bones being easily broken, being a cheetah, her anatomy makes her bones much more delicate than most cats.
It's an odd thing, her being so capable of soundly defeating him black and blue and he's worried about crushing her bones.
Still he loosens his already light grip of her limb but doesn't let her go.
"Cheetara, is everything okay?"
She nods again with that look that says she's anything but her usual self.
Tygra lightly strokes her captured arm with his thumb before letting her go completely. "Okay."
His response is relenting, perhaps she would benefit more from not being pressed, the last thing he wants to do is smother her.
She says something about going to scout the perimeter before she's off and he's left standing there no less confused than before.
What was that all about?
With the afternoon sun rolling in there was still plenty to do about setting up camp, he could ponder in peace while he worked. After all he always thought his best when he worked and he was edgy, the activity would do him plenty of good.
They had traveled nearly two days straight and Tygra found he was quick to stretch his legs and volunteer to see what quarry could be caught for dinner. He got restless and irritable without some sort of physical activity daily and sleeping in a cramped tank nearly piled atop each other was more than enough to drive him insane.
The only plus side he could come up with was Cheetara, she seemed to deliberately settle close to him late in the evening when the only sounds of the night was the dull whirling hum of the tank and occasional snores from the others. He himself was often already asleep when a press of her head into his neck and shoulder would stir him conscious and she would still as if caught in some crime before he relaxed. When she seemed assured he has drifted off once more she nearly burrows herself into his warmth and it isn't long at all before he follows.
Strangely when he awakens she's usually back to being at arm's length as everyone else stirs with the rising of the sun.
Her need for propriety he'd once thought only a symptom of newness, compounded by Lion-O's own hurt feelings she seemed careful to protect, he thinks on a bit more after this morning.
He wonders now in the months passed if he's wrong in his presumption that the two of them have long reached a precipice. They are often sneaking away from the eyes of the others who seem to be everywhere and paying far too much attention to them just to steal quiet conversation or share affection.
He's careful with her, careful to restrain himself, to carefully measure kisses and watch where his clawed hands want to wander, cleric or not she was worth a long courtship and this is very new to them, to her.
It's a bittersweet kind of torture.
Because he's still just a cat, a tiger at the peak of his health and according to awkward lessons by tutors of Thundera's royal court, at the peak of his hormones, the urge to procreate coming to a boil sometime between 15 seasons and 29, driving males to constant distraction with their females and making resistance impossible and painful when exposed to females in heat.
He had scoffed then as a very young cub at the idea of being ruled by such a savage need, convinced himself only weaker cats became slaves to such urges.
By the time he was only thirteen he wasn't scoffing. And he was certain whether he wanted to or not he'd noticed every she-cat within a mile of him, some of them at least three times his age. Their sweet scents so much more noticeable as he matured bringing everything into sharper focus.
No scent more appealing than hers that had changed as she grew.
Only half a season after his thirteenth birthday did something hit him like a ton of boulders, and it came in the middle of a warm night when his window stood open. A need, an urge, an itch that his body seems to instinctively know just how to scratch. He'd felt possessed slinking out of his room late nights and early mornings just to catch her scent in the air in the palace gardens outside the walls of the cleric's temple, unable to do much but simply breathe traces of her in, especially those times of the year when her scent became something new and alluring. He'd find himself pacing for hours at the wall unable to help aching and throbbing when her powerful scent flared his nostrils and tingled on his tongue.
When she was in heat he could almost taste her and the desire to mate with her became stronger than anything he'd ever known.
He rarely managed even a glimpse of her in those days as Jaga often made his rounds through the connecting garden and Tygra was quick to disappear lest the elder wizard catch him climbing trellises of day astrids for a good vantage point.
His sword and defense lessons were increased to a grueling physical pace only days later, the physical activity left him too worn and pained to do much more than wince through every step walking back to his bedchamber at the day's end and he suspected his father and Jaga had much to do with making him all but incapable of venturing out and seeking mating with her or any female.
He'd fought hard in his long lessons and control often slipped away and it had felt good, better than good even, especially when he'd beaten back his usual teachers in savagery and after a few days he is surprised to see it is only General Grune who braves him.
The General's methods were different where his usual teachers blows were measured and calculated and sought only to outlast him Grune poked and prodded him physically and mentally. The colossal sabered cat every day goading him to higher heights of anger as he dodged a spindly cub's attacks. He had teased, he had taunted, urging Tygra to what he called real savagery with tough and sometimes cruel words to get his energy spent, cruelly made implications of a kitten with not the power to claim his throne, nor the mate he sought. Before he had known it he tasted blood in his mouth and felt flesh under his claws and his father has arrived at the sound of his roar of fury and Grune spattered with lacerations of teeth and claws only laughs heartily and congratulates his father on such a virile son.
He doesn't want to think about Grune and what a cub he was to have not known it to be no more that instigation into brutality.
It is years later before the beckoning of her bi-annual heat no longer holds him prisoner and through every ounce of willpower he partakes of other activities that do not include stalking the perimeter of the clerisy nor fighting like a feral.
He'd done well in avoiding inappropriate behavior expected of him such as mating but he had been a normal teenage cub and had sought the company of she-cats from time to time to tamper down what no amount of physical activity could.
Tygra halts mid step and is sure he suddenly understands.
He couldn't possibly pretend to know what exactly a cleric did all day, he was only a prince and as such was mostly forbidden to even step foot inside the clerisy, though it didn't mean he hadn't dared such, he still didn't know much about her life inside of it. But if he had to guess he's sure he can safely conclude a life devoid of romance or any kind of courtship.
Cheetara had been bold that night in the Elephant's Village when she kissed him sweetly and chastely, and she had nearly froze when he sealed his mouth more firmly to hers and traced the seam of her lips with his tongue seeking entrance.
The breathy little groan she'd made with that first caress of tongues was more than enough to tell him she'd been overwhelmed with sensation and he'd guided it into an easy tender meeting that allowed her to relax and just enjoy.
He'd found her to be a quick study and she had quickly become an expert at such kisses that left him purring, but he's always been a greedy cat and wants more than light sweeps of tongues touching, it's become almost a cruel tease when he wants to devour her whole and touch her in ways she's probably never even imagined.
He casts those primal thoughts away often but after today he isn't so sure his want is entirely one-sided or unreasonable. He'd seen desire bright as the stars in her flushed expression and thinks perhaps they are both behaving a bit too cautiously.
She's curious and he's more than willing to help her work through it.
He finds her in her tent that same evening long after the other cats have retired to the tank, her eyes are closed and her claws are resting on each knee as she sits cross-legged, the bright light of the fire he has going just a few feet outside creating blotted shadows inside the cozy shelter.
The tent's warmth blankets him as soon as he steps in, the light dim but he sees her fine.
It's almost too perfect.
She opens her eyes at the rustle of her tent flap and he gives her a small smile. "Can I come in?"
Cheetara assesses him for a long moment, surprised he is without his usual armor, instead he's taken to donning his royal blues from Thundera, this alone gives her pause, but if she's expecting an answer he doesn't offer one. It nearly takes her breath away the reminder of a time and place that seems long gone.
Not to be missed either is the way the lighter, thinner material fits the tiger's frame and highlights his musculature as well as his leanness, her notice only resolves her will to focus on her mediation as soon as possible.
Tygra has not missed her questioning look, or the flicker of interest in said look, further confirming his theory.
But she nods and moves over to allow him entrance, he sits across from her with this easy expression that nearly makes her squirm, like he knows something she does not.
By the way she raises one short blonde brow and ever so slightly tilts her head his direction he knows he's caught her attention which is better than hours ago when she didn't even want to look at him.
Good. He wants that attention undivided.
Tygra shrugs easily. "You're just curious. It's not a crime Cheetara," he reasons. "No need to beat yourself up over it just means you're paying attention, even better you're paying that kind of attention to me."
She clearly doesn't want to discuss it by the way her shoulders tighten minutely.
"Too much attention," she quietly refutes, "I'm a cleric Tygra and I'm sworn to protect my king and my prince, from harm and honor them, I've failed in the latter."
"Says who?" he argues. "What silly cleric tradition says it's a crime to indulge in passions and impulses from time to time?"
Tygra knows he's needling her a bit, but he needs her to talk and knows triggering her emotions is a sure fire way to get some kind of response besides her quiet guilt.
Something is wrong that he can't pretend isn't, it's in the air between them and he's done ignoring it.
She glares hard at the words 'silly cleric tradition' but he knows her expression is not a truly loaded one. "All of them. What you say does not change my actions or violation of your persons. A cleric should know better."
"Maybe a cleric should," he gives her, not wholly agreeing, "but I promise you your attempt to 'punish' this out of your system won't help you. It's got nothing to do with discipline or honor. It's all about instincts and my guess is yours have been buried too long."
Her pretty pink mouth sets in a thin line at his words, it's a dead giveaway that she is annoyed with him, and he's reminded of that proud little kitten she used to be and is satisfied to know is still inside.
She means to go back to her mediation session without another word to the tiger, she knows she's being unfair avoiding him after her confession, but she can't stand that she's sure he's finding it all so very amusing.
But so far both his expression and his words seem sincere; she slips one long slender leg out from underneath the other to sit on her shins.
And there's that curiosity again burning bright in her expression.
Tygra nods and pauses wondering how to level with her in a way that won't bruise her feelings causing her to reject any assurances and suggestions he had, she was like him more than she knew though she'd never admit behind that placidity she was nearly as proud as him.
"You're a cleric, being driven by impulse and reflex isn't new is it? Sometimes it's all you've got to work with and your best weapon. What's driving you to be…" He searches for a word deciding on: "distracted is just instincts, hormones pushed to the front of your mind more and more since we started this thing. You might be a cleric but you're perfectly normal when it comes to being curious and wanting to satisfy it."
She doesn't answer but it's clear she's still his audience.
"If anything," he purrs, "might surprise you how much better going with those instincts will ease your mind."
She doesn't miss the way the suggestive hint rolls off the tiger's tongue his tone darkening his voice to a deep purr that makes her insides flutter.
Sometimes Cheetara wonders how he can go from understanding and mature to positively wicked in no time at all and even more daunting is the way she unconsciously responds to him when he does so.
She's sure she's slowly being seduced with her eyes wide open.
"Well I've sworn off tiger watching from now on," she promises.
He picks at imaginary dirt from underneath his claws before answering, "wouldn't help, in fact I'm guessing you need a more hands on approach. How about a little exercise?"
The last time they exercised anything was a typical sparring lesson but something told Cheetara this "exercise" would have nothing to do with sparring.
"An experiment if you will. You came, you saw, you peeped and what happened? How do you feel honesty Cheetara?"
Her mouth twists trying to frown as she works through her thoughts. She's felt strange and uncomfortable since then and perhaps it is not the heat after all poking at her.
"You're not satisfied because you haven't gotten what you want."
She's wary but she needs an answer for her feelings and he's right for the first time meditation is not helping.
"And…what is it that you think I want?"
The tiger smiles, and it's a secret smile but it's less roguish than she'd expect from him bordering on gentle.
"Guess we'll find out. I'm yours, whatever you want, free rein all access. Its touch you crave and touch you'll have."
"I don't—she started but falters. It would do no good to pretend she didn't want to, didn't need to.
She hasn't been able to stop watching him all the time during the day or waking in the night over sensitized and ready to crawl from her skin. A beautiful ache that she can't seem to relieve is driving her crazy.
Cheetara is sure she isn't in heat, as her heat cycles mostly made her uncomfortable, irritable, and driven to distraction by males. In the past sparring more and meditation had curbed any unwanted thoughts or ideas quickly, like the other she-cats within her order she was relieved of duty and sworn to remain within the safety of the clerisy.
"And what about you?"
He can tell she's apprehensive, the cleric may be inexperienced but she's a smart enough she-cat to question forbidden fruit.
Seigro fruit that grows in roping vines on large rock faces is what comes to Cheetara's mind.
Rich orange and ticked with black pigment, she wonders if it's a coincidence that her favorite fruit is the same color as her prince, it's even stranger and more awing is that whenever he kisses her he tastes just as sharply tart and spicy-sweet.
And whenever his snarky tongue is gently parting her lips and slipping inside her mouth there's a blinding urge to suckle and nip him.
"I'm just your canvas."
"Canvas?" she echoes not understanding.
"Your parchment? Your clay? Mold me."
Ah. And there again is the Tygra she's most familiar with, teasing her with a dare, a tantalizing coax into danger with the way his silky tongue caresses 'mold me'.
Just as fast as he comes a bit closer his amber brown eyes are dark and serious and he is quietly waiting her rejection or acquiescence. She had expected more amusement, some smug presumption and even desire, but if he's feeling anything like that he is hiding it better than she'd expect.
"And you'll just sit there while I used you to satisfy my own desires to 'paw' you?"
Her response is airy, in fact too airy to convince him she's unaffected.
Yes. He was definitely in trouble. His blood is nearly boiling and she hasn't even laid a claw on him yet.
Too late to rethink it.
"Still as stone," he promises.
"And if I make you uncomfortable—
She doesn't finish because he seems to be fighting a grin, obviously her words are amusing him. "Nothing you do could make me uncomfortable. Whatever you want."
She edges over until she is nearly nose to nose with him; his expression schooled in what he hopes is placidity and patience. He itches to steal a kiss from her but quells the temptation, after all a promise is a promise.
Her small paws lightly meet his chest and press slightly until they are flat against him; she can feel his heart tapping against her palms in a quicker rhythm than normal and she's surprised to see his expression hasn't changed, if anything he looks completely relaxed and lazy.
It reassures her for some reason, his feigned coolness.
She follows the line of his broad shoulders with a long light caress up and out onto well-developed biceps, marveling at the hardness of them with the sheath of softness his short, dense fur creates around them, to his large white paws that like her own are lethally clawed. She picks each up examining them, palms and pads of his fingers rough from what she'd guess is years of whip, sword and other weapons work.
There's a small scar that runs down the side of his wrist nearly invisible if not for the sparseness of fur that barely covered it, she thinks to ask him about it and a few of the others but she's too absorbed into her exploration to pause long enough. Another time would come for questions.
Her soft soothing appraisal has his heart rate slowing to a languid pleasurable rhythm until those wandering hands move up passed the point of his hip bones to rest against either side of his navel beneath his clothing.
He's suddenly wide awake and those little paws are still moving tracing every ridge and outline of the muscles of his chest and belly, stopping every so often to caress back down. In an instant he finds a new kind of pleasure trickling in his belly.
He's watching her and that serene expression she usually wears is gone to be replaced with something else that has her black pupils dilated, but her long blonde head of dappled silk falling forward past her shoulders has hidden her before he can assess it further.
She has ahold of the edge of his garment and grips it firmly in askance daring to meet his eyes, Tygra's only answer is a playful light in his brown eyes and he doesn't budge.
He's teasing her.
A blush has stained her cheeks and she looks away but she does not relent her hold, she's always been able to meet anything head on and she refuses to allow this to be any different.
There's a visible tremble to her hands and he nearly takes them into his own to kiss a reassurance sorry to have spooked her. But he had promised to remain still and that would perhaps help more than anything his touch had to offer.
He's sure as well with his involvement this would quickly become something of his desire when this exercise belonged to her and would only be what she made of it.
He finally complies lifting his arms to allow her to slip it off of him.
He recalls this is the second time she's partially undressed him, once for the sake of patching his wounds, she was all playful and mothering but now faced with the same exposure to him she's gun-shy with nothing to do but fully confront his state of undress as something to be desired and he expects it's a bit daunting for her.
But she's taking to it, slowly but fairly well.
She's become distracted by just the simple act of Tygra's breathing, well she supposes its more the way his muscles just under and above his navel seem to contract to even sharper points with each simple exhale.
Tygra is right, her problem is she's curious and beyond that.
Cheetara gets the same reaction, the contraction from his muscles when her hands ghost over his navel and he makes a noise low in his chest and it makes her insides flutter.
When she chances seeing his expression it looks almost dazed.
And she repeats the caress and gets the same rumbling noise its tone too dark to completely be a purr and tightening of those muscles, his eyes are closed and one pointed ear swivels backwards, a sign of content.
She watches him for a while as her fingers slip through the silk of his pelt tracing higher then down again, she likes the sounds he makes and the way his body responds, muscles making a ripple through his skin wherever her hand moves, he purrs muzzily when she reaches his chest but that noise deepens and darkens with every time her hand descends.
This, Cheetara realizes, is much better than spying.
Tygra hazily realizes the new pressure on his hips is his beautiful cheetah carefully perched atop him, her face pressed into his neck, and she's nuzzling.
He wasn't at all unfamiliar with the act but it never failed to stir something deep within him and his nose meets the other side of her slender throat to scent her as well before nuzzling. It was the first time that he could recall returning the gesture for anyone. It was more than an embrace, a kiss, even a caress it was a raw kind of intimacy, carnal in its suggestion but also a deep affection.
Clearly she hadn't lost all of her instincts.
He wants badly to wrap his arms around her but he seeks to keep his word throughout this experiment.
Cheetara breathes pulling in his scent through her nose, filling her lungs with him, but she is far from satisfied.
Tygra was wrong.
That desire tickling her belly is only growing, gnawing at her insides…
She inhales again and again her nose buried in the nape of the striped cat's neck, his short pelt tickling her nose.
He smells…heavenly, so sharp and masculine and she wonders why she'd never noticed just how addicting his scent is, how inviting, and the line of his pulse makes her teeth itch to set into it.
When she raises her blonde spotted head, she's a bit flushed but looking right at him and she hasn't moved from her nearly hovered careful position on his lap and he can't help the grin he gives her.
"See? No harm done."
She doesn't respond immediately burying her face back into the juncture of his neck and he chuckles at her meekness. It's an endearing and funny little change from her usual demeanor.
Cheetara boldly lays a long lick upon that striped flesh in reward for his jest and she feels his breath catch and hears the purring exhale from her tiger prince and she's only vaguely aware that the line they are walking is narrowing and her balance on it has been greatly compromised with one little lick of her tongue.
Tygra's eyes snap open only to slide half shut when the warm wet slide of her tongue strokes the back of his ear this time and her sharp canines nip lightly at the pointed tip leaving a prickle that knifes straight down his body and stirs his sex completely awake.
It's ironic, he thinks, he's learned something too, he's never had his ears licked before or nipped and he's finding they are much more sensitive than he'd ever thought.
Tygra barely has time to recover when the cheetah dares to press her palm against the bulge between his thighs and she nearly jumps back as though burned when she feels movement underneath her hand.
He's not at all ready for the feel of her small hand closing around his phallus and squeezing experimentally and he has to open his eyes to make sure he isn't imagining things and sure enough the cheetah's hand has disappeared beneath his pants and she's still wearing that rosy flush that had spread to her chest.
He's now actively panting and has to close his eyes to the world around him to center himself, but when he opens them Cheetara's stunning coral eyes are smoldering with red flame focused on where her hand has ventured and that doesn't really help matters that she hasn't let him go.
A strange chain reaction occurs as she tries her best to encircle all of him in her hand, her heart hammering in awe and fear of his maleness, as it twitches and…pulsates and her core does the same in sympathy.
Went they finally met eyes the two cats blink with half-lidded gazes, peering into one another, watching just as much as listening to the rise and fall of breaths, Cheetara notes Tygra doesn't look relaxed anymore, in fact his brown eyes look orange and wild and she's tingling in that heated stare.
She's still hot and it's spreading, especially between her thighs and the awkwardness she'd felt before rears forward.
Her thighs want to clench and squeeze together to relieve an insistant pressure and hide herself.
His nostrils flare just as she releases his turgid flesh to make a hasty retreat from his lap and he knows in that moment he's going to have to break his promise to her.
Cheetara's eyes go wide the moment his large hands seize her by the hips and she's locked in his grip. He's not hurting her and she knows offhandedly just about a hundred different ways to free herself despite his greater strength but her heart rate spikes and her body rushes with adrenaline anyway. She's sure she can't remember why she'd want to be freed anyway.
"You promised," she reminds him utterly confused as to why he'd deceive her.
Tygra's too busy watching something else to even look her in the eye and it takes her a moment to realize it's her breast heaving and she swallows doing her best to control her breathing.
An eyebrow quirks and he smiles brazenly, "I'm adjusting the rules just a bit. Don't go, it's okay. You smell delicious."
She sways unsteadily, floating on his licentious praise and she needs something to hold onto, one hand finds a broad shoulder and she needs the other one to stop from falling.
Tygra has it kissing the palm lightly.
"Let's give you what you want…"
Her long dark lashes dip in another slow blink as she raises her eyes to his.
The first thing he notices when he holds her there firmly is how soft and pliable and small she is, softer than he'd think possible for a warrior, even more so a cleric, the only sharpness of her the jut of her hip bones, both points directing his eyes to the lower bits of white pelt beneath her navel that he's very fond of, she has a soft indent of musculature just there and he's longed to lick it.
Tygra nearly has a mind to let her go when she squirms but he's already smelled her arousal, felt the evidence she longs to keep from him, and he's all but hypnotized. It drives him to pull her forward and fully against the press of his member.
"Tygra-don't- she manages to gasp trying to warn him.
Her tone is pressing but it is far too late, when her center mets and throbs against the heavy press of his she's no longer trickling moisture but flooding with it ruining his royal garb.
Tygra doesn't recoil as she'd feared, nor shudder in disgust as her wetness continues to spread and the smell of it grows thick in the air. He purrs and it's a wicked, unapologetic rumble as he inhales snatching up her scent and the small amount of blood that wasn't in his groin is heading there now.
She's so hot she nearly scalds him, saturating both of their clothing and giving the impression of zero barriers between them. His rigid and considerable sex is smothered against her covered and still palpable leaking folds and it's so sharp, so good, he hisses and it's almost too much.
Cheetara bucks in aftershock of her movement, starting like a wild mare.
"It's okay," he assures her running a soothing hand down her belly before pulling her forward again.
The cleric gasps, and it's a breathy helpless little noise that must be repeated. Her gasp comes again this time her open mouth exposing the points of her tiny fangs.
Before she can cry out again at the drag of his sex against hers he's covered her mouth with his own and it's all but a blur, a tangling of tongues mating the way their bodies strain to do, in rhythm together.
He has his claws snarled in her hair at the nape of her neck and the other spanning the small of her back and she has to come up for air at a particularly hard thrust.
The blonde haired cleric's eyes are half-lidded and locked onto his dark ambers as he tightens his hold on her to a slower lazy rhythm, her claws finding his striped biceps and digging harshly. He growls only dragging their sexes against each other even slower.
"Please," she finally manages to whimper and she isn't sure if she's asking for him to stop or continue. "Tygra-
She can't seem to make up her mind and her body continues to betray her instinctively moving with him in that same slow undulation. She's lost and she's beautiful rolling against him.
"That's my girl you're doing so good."
Cheetara's rhythm breaks as she squirms hard mashing them together brutally her claws retracting fully into his shoulders and they both hiss flashing fanged teeth.
She's trying to make sense of her body overwhelmed and still wanting, needing retreat and still begging, she's never been more confused and at war, it's too much.
"Just tell me to stop," he murmurs in her ear. "Just say it and I will. Whatever you want."
Cheetara's panting and even through her clothing he can see the clear pebbling of her nipples as her chest heaves and her eyes squeeze shut, her thighs flexing as she builds towards something that she can't understand.
She moans and rolls herself against him eagerly, blindly seeking an end to her torment.
And he understands and he wants to give it to her but not like this.
It's too much for her and watching her may be too much for him.
He's going to have to go slow and ease some pressure from the both of them.
She is shifted from his lap abruptly without a word of explanation. With the spell momentarily broken she had a mind to weep in frustration until she feels him behind her and securing her flush against him with an easy pull.
"Miss me?" he soothes roaming a hand down her hip that bunches in response to his caress. He licks the back of her ear before working his hand up her navel circling it with a roughened thumb. "Relax."
It's difficult as she can still feel the hard thickness of him straining against her rump, her throat is bared with the brush of his hand and his mouth whispers over her pulse.
That hand slithers down and beneath her navel where she's never been touched before, warm paws make faint contact before truly touching, a petting atop her sex and every muscle in her shoulders, neck and back take on a rather hard and strained appearance at the first brush of his fingers moving just a hair down further.
Cheetara makes an odd squeaking sound the moment he parts her with deft fingers careful to retract his claws. It wouldn't do to cut her fragile flesh.
His tongue and teeth continue to worry at her pulse point as his questing fingers contine to soothe her anxiety and coax more wetness and cries from her and she can feel just as much as hear Tygra's dark purring and she starts with the new shock of a roughened palm from his other hand sweeping across her nipple.
She'd become so dizzy so pliant she hadn't even felt the zip pulled down releasing her breasts.
The tiger beats her to her attempt to cover herself refusing to release her from his teasing even when her claws bite into the flesh of his forearm.
She's overwhelmed and overstimulated and still hungry for more her body languidly parting her thighs and arching her rear and it earns her a dangerous growl and a sharp prick of fangs on her shoulder.
She feels…woozy and she's sure she's going to buckle over from her kneeling position against him but she's still held fast and easy.
And she's so beautiful, gasping and panting and his favorite a high mewling when he carefully sweeps his fingers across her clit before finally dipping inside her.
She groans prettily at the slide of entrance but she's tensing.
The spongy sheath yields slightly in seconds. "Shh, easy, slow, nice and slow…"
Cheetara's only answer is a surge of her hips back against him trying desperately to soothe her ache and a surge forward to escape her torment, afraid of the build climbing inside her as he slides a digit in and out of her just as he promised slow and easy.
She hisses and she's sure her mind and heart is going to explode when he sweeps across her swollen bud again, she grips his wrist digging connecting to his hand that is punishing the most as she makes that whimpering mewl he's in love with.
They must be quite a picture, panting and pulsing pressed together, a simple shift of her upper body to the ground and a slide of her garment off and he could have her in a perfect lordosis position and commence with want he's dying for.
His teeth nearly break the flesh of her throat with the thought and harder dismissal of it.
Cheetara would not protest but he refuses to break her trust and violate her trust.
What they are doing now would have to be enough.
He's building her achingly slow though, she's never been touched this way and she needs to be handled with gentle care just as much as passion. He doesn't ever want her to forget this moment, his touch and how he alone brought her such pleasure, her first pleasure like this.
And the last, he vows scraping his teeth along her neck again before lapping at her pulse.
Tygra's instincts tell him to bury his fangs into her neck as she writhes and he's annoyed that its even harder to banish that thought.
And those sounds she makes and the way her backside slides against him make it hard for him to remember why not, he's so hard he hurts. He winces and growls continuing to lay open-mouthed kiss behind her ear caressing the span of her body that's gone taunt as a bowstring.
She's gasping in great lungful of air as she's stretched more fully with the slide of now two fingers moving in and out of her sending shockwaves to her core and he's moving them within her slick inner walls in tandem to flicking her clit with his thumb.
"Slow," he reminds her. That hand torturing her nipples slides down her belly pushing back against her navel before gradually releasing to show her what he wants from her.
"Breathe slow, in and out."
Her core squeezes around the hot slide of his fingers inside her just as her heart feels squeezed and pounds faster.
The intensity climbs to a point of almost pain as she does her best to slow her breathing, she manages a series of staccato gasps as he touches her. Its agony and she's damp with sweat from the effort even as she spreads herself wider and her long hair is a wild tangle falling away from her throat to tickle her thighs and she's the sexiest creature he's ever seen.
"That's it, slower. Very good."
He scrapes a claw against her nipple and she nearly screams.
Cheetara whimpers between her breaths before it shifts to a moaning that pitches higher and higher before she gives a final strangled cry as she climaxes powerfully.
Her vision dances with spots and she's only vaguely aware of being lowered to rest on her back.
When she opens her eyes Tygra's still sitting across from her but itswhat he's doing that makes her tender sex ache all over again even though she's sore after her strong climax. He's calmly licking the back of his hands, then his fingers and palm, slick with her essence, purring in content.
"Feel better?" he asks between licks.
She can't answer of even swallow watching him.
And Cheetara notes his ruined attire and is suddenly extremely self-conscious of the mess she's made and that she can still make out his large straining member.
He cannot be comfortable.
The cheetah rolls to her side and he finally notices her concerned expression.
"I'm fine," he promises.
She looks doubtful and sympathetic, sweet, even barebreasted and damp with sweat and her release. When she notices his eyes she's moving to cover herself but she isn't blushing as hotly as usual and it's a start.
He licks again his palm and feels a tingling and a need to salivate.
Tygra licks again and again all traces of her from his skin still wanting more and he feels that familiar drive of years ago to claim her and he can't stop licking loving the taste and that tingle.
She sleeps and he lays awake surrounded in her scent, awaiting and ready to protect what was now his with his life against all others. His hand has reddened a bit from the rough assault of his tongue and still he licks.