Finally another chapter for you greedy fans lol, seriously thanks for the support you've all been wonderful. This tale is dedicated to lookforme, without her it would never have gotten written, special thanks to Philliwolf as well for the constant nagging. Lotor, Luna and fuuko I didn't forget you, and my dear reviewers thanks for the encouragement. Buckle up things are about to get messy and dark and smutty, don't say I didn't warn you!


AND WHAT WAS INSIDE...

7 years ago...

His role is a simple one, grueling exercises in weaponless sparring to give the cub prince an outlet for excess energy during his awakening, to coax him into spending pent up aggression that would eventually leave him too worn to engage in fighting or seeking a mate.

It must be repeated daily for the week they are affected as cub's recovered quickly through the pain and fatigue and morning would find many cubs raging over something as simple as saying good morning, stuck in the state of a haze.

It is during a haze, when fury or want reaches its extreme a male is most dangerous and common for male cubs to remember nothing while in it, eyes going dark in conjunction with the mind going somewhere else.

In time most cubs would gain a measure of control, becoming cats that still felt the spell of a she-cat in heat but was not a slave to it.

"Come little prince, you can do better than that. All that fire in you and you're giving me smoke. I expected better."

The cub blinks at the sting of sweat in his eyes and there isn't a place on his body that isn't screaming in pain.

The General circles him in a sort of ambling way, unconcerned of any attack, the hulking cat seems bored and while the cub is wet with perspiration Grune remains unruffled and unperturbed.

Tygra follows the cat with brown eyes that feel too large and stinging, a head rush beginning, growing in his agitation with Grune.

He can feel the edges of his control cracking and bleeding out a maelstrom of emotions.

He feels sick, tired but more than that he feels anger like fire from his head to his toes and the confusion and a dizziness similar to the time he tasted milkweed.

Tygra launches himself with fists and feet the General is ready for, deflecting every move with ease and landing a punishing blow each time for the tiger's efforts.

When Tygra lands on his back hard he's sure his body is broken, pain blaring from his tailbone and leaving his body tingling in aftershock.

He wants to sleep so badly but he boils, he boils all over with rage, agitation and anxiety.

The blow is enough to knock him completely senseless and his ears ring so loudly he's sure he hears the bells of the guard tower knocking back and forth in his skull.

Tygra gives a harsh cough, spitting at the taste of iron as he fixes his opponent in a look that promises murder. A trail of blood dribbles from the cub's mouth to form a puddle on the polished marble of the training center.

General Grune only grins.

Tygra hasn't gained his feet in minutes, rocking on shaking hands and knees before simply collapsing, gaping for air like a fish on his back.

Apparently the tiger prince's teachers had struggled at such a simple task.

He's impressed it has taken this long, he's batted the tiger prince around for nearly an hour before this collapse.

It's perfect.

Tygra had been easy enough to push to extreme fatigue the cub too excitable for his own good.

The hulking sabertooth nudges the striped prince with his foot and it seems to renew some life into the striped prince who's growl bubbles in his chest.

It's a warning that only amuses the general. The cub is spent and broken.

Still he's sure there's fun to be had with the cub.

The general scans the room briefly and glee fills him to find they are still alone.

He kneels level to the struggling prince till he's close enough to cub's ear. He doesn't want the cub to miss a single word.

"I'll bet she's a pretty little thing huh? Sweet and soft," he mocks. "She's got to be special, got you all hungry for a taste of her."

Tygra's only reaction is a flexing of his hands, claws leaving their sheaths and his gaze immediately washes black and empty and Grune is pleased to have his undivided attention.

"And when she's all ripe and ready for the taking like the sword they'll give her to precious baby brother."

He can hear it literally stirring, bubbling, boiling though the cub simply snarls.

"And he'll eagerly take her, like everything else that belongs to you."

Grune pauses just to note his words have triggered the primitive brain well enough that Tygra has progressed quickly back up to a rage, even as his body asks for rest.

"Perhaps they'll be generous and allow this old saber a taste as well."

The force of the cub's spring is enough to land Grune flat and he bellows in pain of teeth and claws ripping into him and tearing at him.

The commotion of Tygra raging is what brings company. It takes four guards to peel the cub from the general and he rages on in a fit of claws and teeth, blood foaming his mouth.

In a wild state of delirium.

Grune finds himself fighting a grin that could betray him.

The cub is quite the fireball.

"What happened?" Lord Claudus demands.

Grune comes to his feet eyeing thoughtfully the blood staining his forearm, where the cub has bitten. "The prince just got the best of me for a moment, quite the virile son you have my Lord."

Tygra lunges clear out of the grips of the guards only to be intercepted by the king who has an easier time of it but not an effortless one. His son is relentless and its clear the wily cub will not calm, cannot calm.

Roaring himself raw.

"Tygra," the king tries.

His son is nearly choking on breath making his rasping growling sound like choking.

Tygra is blind and deaf in his anger to anything but killing the large sabered cat.

"My Lord, let me."

The caracal healer holds carefully her pointed instrument, a bamboo reed stained with a green fluid. The king understands but Tygra is fighting much too hard for neck delivery.

"His hip my Lord," Cara suggests.

That is easier as the cubs limbs are locked well enough by the King's hands.

Cara tugs just an inch or so the prince's clothing to find the muscle of a buttock and Tygra's snarl seems to be one of indignation before immediately letting out a coughing exhale.

"My Lord if you can he'll need to be flat on his side."

It takes a moment for King Claudus to react, his son is making a pitiful wheeze of noise and he feels cold.

"What was that?" the King asks.

Cara coos sweetly to the struggling cub, petting a forelock of his fuzzy mane to ease his distress.

"Foxfoot, he may become nauseous in a moment," Cara warns. "And a bit chilly, it can drop his temperature when it first hits the bloodstream."

Tygra's small paws are like ice but the rough wheezing isn't as desperate. "It's a poor substitute for polluck," the King frowns. "His body is going through enough without foxfoot, he's only a cub."

"Forgive me my Lord but I did not see polluck helping him much. Prince Tygra was on the edge of delirium, very close to overwhelming his body into a shutdown."

"It's his awakening," Claudus explains, knowing already it is probably clear to the healer. "He's been fine with the increased activity for nearly a week."

The cub hacks and hacks and there's a wet gurgling noise just before the cub vomits. A portly little bobcat is quick with a wash bucket, a square of wash cloth pressed to the mess and another clean soft cotton square over the corner of the cub's mouth.

She wears a dark blue blend of cotton linen skirts and smells of lavender, the mark of a palace maid and the small gold emblem of a personal attendee across her left breast, further establishing her as a personal assistant to a young prince.

"Thank you Katill," the King addresses the maid.

Katill nods seeing the prince in the hands of the healer and goes about attending to the sick on the floor but her small grey eyes check often on the prince and her scrubbing seems to take a bit more time than necessary.

Tygra coughs and begins to retch in dry heaves.

"Something must have been different today, I've only ever seen a reaction like that a handful of occasions, triggered by mental duress usually, something that felt to Tygra like intense provocation."

The general has said nothing during her exchange with the King nor seemed overly concerned of Tygra's state is the thought that taps at Cara. The cub had been in serious trouble and she had only caught his eyes a moment but she swears she sees amusement thinly hidden in them.

The prince blinking wearily and finally drifting to sleep is what returns her attention to him.

The king sighs in obvious relief. "Tygra is a stronger and wilder cub than most and with his awakening his teachers have all needed a bit of time to recover, General Grune has been kind enough to continue with Tygra for the time being."

"Then I suppose this question is for you General. Have you not noted any odd changes in Tygra's state of awakening?"

The cleric's tone is a light question that isn't at all accusing but Grune is no fool and those large golden eyes of the caracal are distrustful of him.

He thinks it wise.

"I can't say I have, as my Lord has mentioned the prince has always been wily. It may be common for tiger cubs to be a bit more savage, who could possibly know."

Those golden eyes give the teeniest twitch of movement and he has a thought of what the pretty little cleric would look like with his claws wrapped around her beautiful neck, what it would sound like snapped in his grip.

"With your permission my Lord I could tend to the prince in his chambers better, I'm sure a bed would be welcome given his day."

By the kings beckoning the Prince is gingerly lifted and taken from the throne room.

"Nonsense, I couldn't take you from Jaga's clerisy even for the afternoon, I will alert the palace healer for Prince Tygra to continue his treatment."

"Please my Lord my teacher would most assuredly not mind my absence for the afternoon, especially in regards to one of the princes."

The king's weary look lightens a bit, "if you are certain Jaga will not lament your absence…"

Cara nods. "Thank you my King." She gives a low bow, but like a cat spotting prey in its gaze her pupils sharpen with only the slightest glance Grune's direction before she leaves.

"Thank you General Grune for your efforts you'll have to forgive prince Tygra, he meant none of it. He's fond of you you know."

And likely to remain that way, having such a poor memory recall in awakening was wonderful. Tygra's hatred of the General gone as quickly as it had come and likely to return in the next session.

He does find himself so bored these days…

The sabered cat is all understanding mild nods. "Of course, and I of him, do send for me my Lord when he is well, there's nothing I would want more than to help him through this."

The king nods, "I guarantee I will General, thank you."


Present day…

Cheetara blinks with the realization of her pain ebbing to a tolerable level and her pleasure comes sudden and hard when Tygra's tongue grazes her in a teasing lick.

Her breath catches in this little startled gasp.

Cheetara's looking at him, like a particularly beautiful bird, broken winged and splayed on her back, peering over her still covered breasts at the tiger settled between her thighs, his mouth brushing over pink edges of her seam, such pink glistening flesh opening coyly from beneath the trail of stark white pelt covering her womanhood.

The prince's large hands comes to trail one fluttering thigh, reassuring and encouraging the limb to relax as it is not at rest but holds the same active stillness as a band of rubber stretched long and held there.

His offer is clear from his whispered reassurances and she's relieved, so relieved and so in need and she'd be uttering a prayer of one word: please, please, please, if she wasn't focused so hard on breathing through the sensations.

She's fighting to relax, to surrender beneath him.

She's turned a beautiful rosy pink color, meek and nervous but he has heard the way her heart frenzies in its pace and seen the way she shivers with need. "Tygra, you can't, you shouldn't…"

Tygra pays her words not much mind, a press of his lips again on her sex with the tease of a tongue and her taste is like coming home after years away.

Cheetara tries to quiet her whimper as pain throbs at her, but Tygra doesn't miss it.

"Relax," he purrs, honeyed and soothing. "Not going to hurt you." He finds her ear hidden in her mess of blonde hair and whispers. "Trust me, no teeth this time."

He can see a protest forming over her kiss swollen lips but her eyes darken arrested by his words and she immediately goes slack.

That spotted thigh finally settles flush on the cushion of grasses and open and his nose brushes over her mound scenting her.

He knows something instinctively from her scent, something all male cats recognized from the scent of their chosen in heat.

She's not ready, not completely for mating it would be days before the perfect time to mate but it does nothing to quell the urge, it does nothing to stop a need to taste her, scent her over and over and be one with her right now.

Her middle is all sunken with the force of her sucking in breath and her head pulling back to tangle in the burrs, twisting her spine into a lovely arch, he's able to count the shadow of every rib.

His tongue draws hot across her from navel to beneath her breast before descending down her with eager kisses. He's leaving prickles of moisture from laborious breaths as he goes, his excitement climbing with hers.

He finds himself unable to stop greedily sampling the rest of her exposed flesh, a detour in his duty to temporarily aid her, he'd feel guilty if not for the pleasured noise coming from the cleric.

Cheetara, he concludes, for all her reserved nature is a she-cat that becomes nearly musical at an intimate touch, her pleasure becoming soft, sweet breathy things peppered with high, sharp gasps. He's looking for the ever rare low groan he's only heard twice before that he's learned makes her bite her bottom lip and pitch herself in an impression curve that makes her nipples pebbling through her uniform clearly visible.

He's already torturously aroused but that moment nearly undoes him.

"You're so beautiful," he murmurs against her navel. He nips underneath it and there it is.

That sound that low groan, that nipping of her lip with her teeth.

It's a hair trigger.

Tygra becomes aware of the edge he dances on when a prickling sensation begins and he's hard and twitching painfully. The drag of the invisible knife sharpening in his gut.

He has her, tangling their tongues and nudging her legs even farther apart.

With their kiss still dizzying her she isn't nearly prepared for his tongue snaking around inside her sparking little flames up into her belly that will fast become fire.

Its torture, far worse in ways than the pain. She climbs and climbs and climbs only to face the edge unable to fall, his clever tongue will not allow it.

His cleric lies ready and willing on an altar of pleasure, he wishes her cradled around fine silks and satins in his bed, in a palace that no longer exists, but seeing her cradled in the wildness of the brush has its own appeal.

"More?"

He looks feral and hungry, she's never seen him look so intent on her that way, like a meal. Like he doesn't know whether to eat her or mate with her.

Its perhaps a good idea to stop their tumble down into depravity but her tongue feels like paper, the look of her prince, the scent of him, it is impossible to ignore the call of it.

But she has to.

She shakes her head trying to clear the confusion. "I—

She's interrupted by a sensation like a hammer in her gut.

Tygra's hands are there applying gentle pressure to her navel and the lightest touch of a thumb circling the hood of her clit.

Her relief is instant and the quality of her gasps returns to a soft husky pleasured sound.

"You were saying?" Tygra murmurs.

He's distracted by the slow circling of his thumb against her wet flesh.

He's waiting her answer and she wishes she didn't even look, because he's panting like her and licking at the sheen of moisture on his lips, brown eyes becoming the color of fire and ash and peppering to black boring into her from between her legs.

She should be afraid of those eyes, that slip away from civility, but she only tips her hips offering herself with black lashes dipping in a perfect show of desperate beseeching.

"Please."

The silken glide of his tongue resumes worshipping her, a pause, a kiss of her navel, her thighs and back to his goal.

She'd heard of the tasting of one another during mating, but it doesn't seem the right word for Tygra's attentions it's somehow inadequate. He drinks of her yes and is greedy in it, her scent bewitching him the way she'd heard it could, his nose puffing air across her folds and a reverent kiss to the flesh of them and raking of his tongue grooming the light covering of white pelt around his prize, long flat strokes occasionally brushing that nub where pleasure was piercing.

He's doing more than tasting, she's being kissed there as tenderly and sweetly as if it were their mouths were joining in a familiar embrace of trust and love and then passionately, wet, swirling, his mouth becoming well acquainted with every bit of her.

And with her passion rising, her eyes shut and tremors raking her tiny form, Tygra slips inside her a careful claw to finish her and meets her crying mouth with a brush of lips, a tart sharp favor to his kiss that must be from her.

She climaxes with a little grunt, hips flexing against his fingers, never breaking their kiss.

"Better?" he asks much later.

"Yes," she says the surprise evident in her voice.

Her deep gulping inhale only draws his attention to her long, long legs when she shifts drawing one across the other hiding her nakedness from him but the curve of her rump becomes his next focus and the wound of his bite is visible, forming dark red holes.

He clearly startles her when his hand lightly pauses over the wound, the wound that's still sticky with blood, she doesn't react more than that long line of muscle contracting.

"Did I mention I was sorry about this?" Tygra remarks lamely.

"You didn't but it's alright." She assesses the wound as best she can craning her neck round and thinks it may need to be dressed, it is deep and throbs steadily. "It's a clean mark, it should heal well."

She's right it's definitely a mark, neat holes without a sign of tearing the flesh and deep enough into the muscle a small scar would form, marring her forever.

He's still in disbelief of it himself and more than that the urge to give her a matching set of marks on the other buttock is overwhelming. "I'm sorry I didn't have any right to do that."

"You can hardly help doing what my heat beckons, what your body beckons. And you are wrong you have every right to do such a thing."

It is not the answer he expects. The prince's brows knit. "I do?"

Cheetara nods firmly forgetting her injury to give his confusion her full attention and reassurance. "I'm yours Tygra, I've always been yours. I've wanted to be yours completely for a long time. But…"

Her last sentence is quiet and shy he's suddenly aware of how cruel this whole thing is.

She doesn't have to say it, he knows it will have to wait, she'd be expecting a cub before the spring, well before they were ready for it. And if his traitorous desire has anything to do with it he'd try for many kits with her.

They've barely begun a proper courtship even without the mess of the search for the stones or the threat of Mummra.

"And besides I scratched you," Cheetara remembers. "It more than makes us even."

He wants to argue that is really doesn't because her scratches would fade within a few days to be only a memory.

Cheetara pulls on her breeches but she can feel his eyes on her and feel the energy, their want, crackling in the air. It's electric.

Her hands bunching into the bands of her wristlets she looks as though she's fighting to speak but the words must be of some distress and perhaps better left unspoken.

"What's wrong?"

Everything, is the first instinctive thing that nearly rolls off her tongue. There's nothing she wants more than to answer the call of culmination, the physical symptoms have lessened but mentally she's still slipping down the mudhole into the darkness, into temptation.

She needs more.

She feels much better but the want is still there. She's never been so selfish.

"I've made a mess of things."

Tygra's only answer is a quizzical look that asks for elaboration.

"I felt odd days ago and should have known."

"How could you know? You're a little early you know, it's only summer now."

He's correct. Her heats were always very regular, the 31st day of summer and once more the 25th day mid-winter without fail.

Her blood rushes at the idea of Tygra making subconscious note of her…mating cycle, its half in fear. This cat she's known longer than any, that she trusts with her life and heart she's suddenly apprehensive of, this pursuit being a lot more dangerous than the crush of a lanky tiger cub, he's a large powerful cat now that wants her and has waited long to take her.

She knows him a possessive, jealous cat without her heat to complicate things and it would only magnify with nothing to stop it.

And she's ashamed of those emotions too, the want, the need, the desperation, but none more than the fear. Tygra has handled himself far better than she thus far, easily handling those moments where control became a far off impossible idea.

For all of his emotion Tygra was doing extremely well.

For now, her mind counters.

"I'm throwing you," he realizes. "We've never been this close for this long."

Or done so many things to get the blood screaming, he adds mentally.

"Why does it matter? Us this close?"

She's glad he doesn't look at her as though she's a simple cub though she feels that way to ask it. He seems to know more about 'this' than she does.

She has the thought that she's been under-informed, or perhaps just so. She's sure none of these questions had existed for her before the loss of her old life with the clerics, mating was not a large concern for any cleric she knew, in fact she's sure she didn't know of any cleric that opted for a life with a mate and cubs. It had never been of large concern if she's honest.

"You're 'syncing' with me, your cycle is adjusting because there's a huge opportunity for, you know, mating. Cheetah she-cats, like you, do it often."

She can't recall Cara telling her of any such thing. "We do?"

"Well okay, we can only assume you do, but it's a pattern in smaller clans. Has it ever felt like this before?"

Painful and impossible to resist?

"No, not at all like this," she answers.

"You don't have an intended, so you're usually confined for your safety and a smooth easy passing of your heat. Your hormones remain at mid-levels unless something you like comes sniffing along to boost them sky-high. If I weren't here you'd be fine."

He seems to know as much as Cara would on it and it's strange but impressive.

"How do you know all this?"

He shrugs too easily taking a moment to find his effects with a searching paw amongst the grasses, he begins to wrap his whip in a neat bundle before turning his attention to the energy pistol, sliding back a section at the top of the weapon and locking it with a click into place. "My tutors mostly, you get a bit of it usually in your eleventh season, all the gorier details saved till your awakening, in those lucid moments after sparring till you can't walk you're given sort of a mating education. It's a lot like starving to death and having them describe all your favorite foods you can't eat."

Her eyes follow the movement of his hands and she's positive now, there's a violent tremor as he fiddles with his weapons, and a suppressed whispered exhale and inhale of breath trying to rush. She cannot see his eyes over the mask of his eyelids lowered, but she can of sweat turning his orange pelt brown in small streaks down the side of his neck.

It has started already for Tygra and he seeks to hide it, rather poorly she notes.

He knows exactly how hot she'll flush under him when he takes her, he knows exactly what kind of sound she'll make when his teeth lock onto her throat stilling her for penetration, how she'll rock for balance at the force of his thrusts, how she'll bite a warning if he becomes too demanding, hissing when his claws hook into her…

"Tygra?"

"Hmm?"

"Are you alright?"

Tygra nods a bit too stiffly and he won't meet her eyes. "We'll need to get back to camp before his Highness sends a search party, but we should find some things first we've only got a good hour before dark." He hands her her staff he's found near his whip, she takes it setting it at her side.

Cheetara catches his wrist when he stands, his palms rough but the fur across the back of his hands is nearly as soft as goose down.

He looks down at her coolly but she can feel the tremors starting in the tips of his fingers.

"You're shaking," she points out.

She sees that little scar at his wrist that seems a long ago discovery and licks the wound.

His ears sweep backward and he makes a content little half growl.

"Don't worry about it," he assures her, "if we can find some polluck leaves and foxfoot before it gets too dark I'll be set and we'll have my problem taken care of and…I can help you with yours again."

Cheetara fights flushing against his grin and saucy promise.

Darkness wasn't the real issue and she knows it more to do with needing the herbs before the two of them found themselves in a frenzy again.

"Foxfoot?" she asks.

"I may need them," is all he says in answer offering nothing more.

The soil was too dry here and too rocky nearest the river to find foxfoot, it was a delicate plant that grew mostly in marshes and the hope of finding one was slim. She runs through her mental checklist of any herbs or plants that could substitute his suggestion but she can't find any in those mental banks.

Foxfoot root was not a common plant to be used amongst her clerisy but she is familiar regardless thanks to her medicinal training in herbs and roots, she'd probably never have encountered it unless she was visiting Cara's ward. Its use was far more common in the palace and army stables. Often given to the equuis they keep, mounts of Thundera's army, those to be broken and stallions exposed to mares in heat, a leaf or two causing an instant measure of calm and docility bordering on drunk. A measure taken when an equuis grew out of control, in a braying rage.

"You're going to take it?"

He isn't sure how to answer that, from her tone he'd guess she's familiar with its common usage and he certainly doesn't want to divulge her in a long explanation of why he'd opt for such a potent plant, he's sure he'd have to tell her of the occasions in training his rages had frightened all around him.

Yes, he's sure he will need it.

Something dark and familiar is working in him, something powerful and frightening, so quickly only minutes after a taste of her. He doesn't have the best hold of it and keeping the panic at bay is the hard part.

"We should just be prepared."

She'd heard the stories enough to know some measure of violence was a part of mating especially with young healthy strong males, like Tygra, she also knows that aggression if not released would become explosive.

Polluck was used for emergencies of the sort and foxfoot was nearly four times stronger, what measure of rage she wondered did Tygra find himself in to warrant foxfoot?

Foxfoot was not without a price either, it took days for an equuis to recover and the creatures often suffered nausea and disorientation and thirst that was unbearable. She doesn't want to think about the effects on a Cat and she's resigned in not allowing Tygra to take any such measures.

He feels her light touch against his hip before he hears the lilt of her voice.

"No." He stops her before she's managed to form a whole word.

She hasn't even begun her suggestion of assistance, her offering of turnabout. It was only fair and more than that she wanted to relieve him in any way she could. Tygra's attentions had tampered down the worse of her symptoms if only for a little while, her body still hummed with need but it was no longer screaming at least.

She longs to touch him and she knows now she isn't wrong in her unconscious thought that he'd been resistant and almost reticent anytime her hands strayed so careful to focus on her.

It was probably best not to open doors she wasn't invited into but watching every muscle of his coil and slacken and feeling the heat of his fever radiating off him when he's close is not something she is willing to ignore.

He hisses when her hand cups over the throbbing member.

"Stop."

But it's a weak protest and his heart beat bangs against her hand that's caressing the solid wall of muscle and she won't take her eyes from his own that are large and rich brown, but his pupils are small, strangely unaffected by his present arousal.

It's fear in them and anxiety.

"Shh…"

He whimpers before a loud, mean growl begins just as she slithers a hand beneath his pants pressing against the pulsing organ in her hand. She knows he means not his malice unable to respond with anything but aggression when cornered, a reflex like a knock to the knee.

Her palm and fingers feel on fire and he twitches against the heel of her hand and she adjusts her hold again but it's difficult because she can't encompass the girth of him completely and she's feeling a bit like she's facing a wild equuis, the danger being just as great, Tygra could hurt her just as badly as a stallion could in a frenzy of passion.

"Chee-

He doesn't finish because she gets a grip more firmly sliding her hand down and back up him and she feels like the fire has turned liquid trickling across her hands on the upstroke making him extremely slippery.

Her mouth works at the thick expanse of his neck just under the bob of his adam's apple with kittenish licks tasting the salt of sweat because it seems the right way to calm a violent trembling beginning in his belly.

Tygra's mouth opens in an effort to speak that only makes his quiet panting increase in volume and speed when she sweeps her tongue inside the cavern of his open mouth briefly he's simply too overwhelmed to respond to her sinful kiss.

The next sound he makes seems pained, it's a sharp sucking of air between teeth that pulls the tiger's navel tight and she's sure she's cut into his flesh with the light graze of a claw.

"Sorry, are you okay?" she asks.

She manages not to let him go even when she's knocked to her back by his pounce and he feels like a stone pillar crushing the breath from her and his snarl is murderous but he's still pulsing and dripping on her hand, leaking copiously.

She's only aware she is shaking when he slips from her grip and she feels him against her belly like the threat of a broadsword slick and hot as melted paraffin wax on her belly and he snarls thrusting forward with his claws in the flesh of her thighs spreading her.

He grits his teeth, his eyes shut, cock tracing back and forth the seam of her covered entrance, she's lightheaded and her pulse skips finally really getting a look at him. She's terribly aware of why she's never heard of cheetahs mating with tigers.

She was going to be ripped apart, he is far too large not to, even with the upmost care taken.

She curls her fingers into his thick mane at the nape of his neck keeping quiet the whimpers of pain at the raking of his claws that go burning trails along her ribs.

She doesn't worry long because her petting soothes the storm of emotions.

Tygra has just come from some odd dream, at least it feels that way when his senses regain and Cheetara is lying prone under him, arms spread at the height of her head on either side of her face but her claws give away her worry curled and fighting to relax.

She doesn't look like the cleric he knows, her eyes are far too vulnerable, glossy and wide. A cat doesn't need experience in Tygra's opinion to recognize Cheetara's surrender and the perfume of her arousal is tainted with fear.

He's only scratched her shallowly but enough to leave marks of red nearly glowing under the short gloss of her coat.

Tygra swiftly backs away.

"I told you, I told you don't—

"Stop," she hushes finding the side of his face he's torn from her. "you'll hurt yourself, just breathe."

When he dares confront her expression its soft and sweet and full of so much trust he can't stand it. He swears his blood is on fire and he doesn't know when the fever of it will take him again, and when it does if he'll take her, quickly and brutally in his need.

Cheetara understands, recognizes his primitive brain's response to it being a myriad of emotions, anger, frustration, need even as she worked to sate him, his pleasure that is also his pain climbing.

His navel jumps with his shuddering breaths and the hand over his heart trails to that distressed bunch of muscles petting the tense ridges.

It's a gentle gesture meant to assure him slowing his approaching wildness.

"I don't want to hurt you Cheetara," he says and its nearly mute over the rush of her pulse.

But it's a lie, a horrifying lie because he does. He wants her bleeding, holed with mate marks.

He thinks to himself he's going to be ill.

"I know, I trust you, I always have," she answers.

She kisses him into hazy compliance and he groans when she snakes her grip around his length again.

Tygra doesn't move to stop her this time striped arms braced at his sides and every muscle the prince has is tight with tension and his look is one of stress and fatigue despite his hot, hard length's interest in mating.

"Isn't that better? Isn't this what you want?"

He's sure his knees are going to give out if she keeps cooing in his ear like that and he grunts and growls only in answer, frustrated at his helpless state.

She wants to keep her eyes on her prince but she's slick again thanks to that overzealous flesh in her hand that both evokes fear and curiosity.

At the cleric's gasp Tygra follows her gaze.

"You're bleeding," Cheetara realizes.

He doesn't understand right away until she sweeps her thumb gently over the head of him so soft in fear of hurting him he shudders and sure enough he leaks a startling amount of pink fluid.

His head bows with his back, he's dizzy again and the pain starts to renew leaving him breathless. "Yeah, guess so," he chokes out.

He's impressed he's even managed that, she's touching him in the most intimate, delicious way possible and he's having trouble ignoring how good she smells. He's sure being run through with a sword wouldn't matter right at that moment either.

"I'm okay," he assures her.

It's a rush of breath and his hips flex pushing him into her grip insistently.

He's asking for more, begging but the last thing she wishes for is to cause him further pain and she's looking at him with that look of concern and horror that he's positive she's too frightened to continue now.

"It happens, overloaded nerves and all," he tries explaining but he's more interested in thrusting forward into her grip again. "Nothing serious I promise."

He's a liar, a selfish liar, he doesn't honestly know he just needs and wants and he doesn't care anything about the blood, it isn't killing him but stopping is.

"But—

She doesn't finish because he groans sharply, his belly giving spasms as though on the verge of heaving.

"Please, you're killing me, don't stop, don't-"

He's a mess and she isn't surprised in the least he's loaded full of her pheromones and the tease of premating activity isn't helping.

He doesn't finish and his brown eyes roll up and closed when she tightens her grip. There's an unmistakable flitting from black to brown of his pupils when he finally looks.

"Slow," she murmurs into his ear laving at the length of it. "Breathe."

It's ironic he thinks having to reassure her in much the same way only yesterday and he wonders if she's aware of how well she'd taken the lesson and made it a turnabout that has him undone and needing to be reminded to breathe.

This time when she kisses him he responds following her lead, her dance into tender comfort.

He has to break from her, finding his lips on her collarbone caging every frustrated growl until it's only muffled noise against her skin.

He worries at her collarbone and she's only stung with the points of his canines a few times.

Tygra groans once quietly, chuffing for a few moments as she purrs in answer and then again a low drawn out sound without restraint and he's surging and covering her hand in his seed.

She brushes her lips to his asking for a kiss and he's more than happy to give one grateful to give her anything, though his effort is lazy. He's suddenly tired and even better feeling like he could sleep if he wanted to, pain gone as quickly as it came.

It will likely not last.

Cheetara looks curiously at her hand, covered in his release unsure exactly what to do with it.

His mouth goes dry watching her.

Tygra recovers quick enough to remember their waterskin. "Come here."

"Wait, wait," she protests.

Her tongue flicks out experimentally once, no more than a droplet on her tongue.

He tastes similar to almond oil and something like salt it isn't exactly unpleasant, it somehow is suiting.

She knows well enough it isn't going to hurt her to ingest it and proceeds to lick her paw clean of him. It gives her a sense of comfort, a bit of peace exactly as grooming usually does, but there's a new element of closeness in taking in that part of him she may be imagining, but she licks until there isn't anything left.

She's tasted him as he has her.

"We should get going back to camp."

His words are shaken and he's swallowing thickly.

Cheetara thinks to remind him of their quest for forgotten herbs, however from Tygra's sleepy little look with muzzy brown eyes it's obvious they would not be needing them.

The sky is red with dusk when the cheetah and tiger return to camp wet from a hasty bath in the river.

Kit and Kat seemed to be playing some sort of game with a "coh-can nut" fruit, a thick shelled treat the Berbils had introduced them to. It didn't take long for the twins to discover they weren't just good for snacking on they made great weapons for throwing or launching with a big enough sling in a pinch. A sort of edible trajectory.

A trajectory likely to hit one of them before the night is over.

The two were rolling it back and forth across the dirt, the object of the game seeming to be hurling the fruit with enough force to bruise the other twin's knuckles fisted in the dirt across a few yards. The heavy fruit keeps knocking into nunchunks, the weapon's owner who is strangely absent.

A din of crackling firewood, laughing kits and rumble of rolling fruit is hardly enough cover for the two cats to slink back unnoticed.

The wily twins spot them easily.

"Where have you guys been? We're starving Tygra!" Kat moans.

"Sorry, kids we didn't exactly go hunting today," Tygra responds.

The cubs look with huge glossy eyes absolutely appalled.

"Why not?!" Kit whines disbelieving enough to grab the tiger's dropped bag searching futilely for something to eat.

"Because not everything I do has to do with feeding you, you know," Tygra says emphatically.

He's lost Cheetara for a moment, but her scent leads him to her in no time she's tightening the stakes to their tent then smoothing every wrinkle of the canvas, it's a meticulous sort of fussing she can be seen doing when she's feeling antsy.

He can guess why and he's eager to have a bit of privacy with her once more.

"You're just going to let us starve now?" Kit whimpers taking a hold of his leg.

Tygra feels the edge of his patience being pushed and he pinches the bridge of his nose sighing. "Oh for the love of Thundera, didn't you practice those knots for the fishing nets I showed you?"

"Yes."

When Tygra's eyes narrow into slits the two cubs squirm before admitting, "no."

"Not my problem then," Tygra declares watching Cheetara disappear into their tent.

"Then what is your problem?"

Tygra has to turn to find the young king half hidden in the shadows, sharpening the blade of his sword with some crude bit of rock. His red hair looks aflame and when the firelight catches his eyes they shift into brilliant blue jewels of light.

"Excuse me?" the eldest prince says.

"What is your problem?" Lion-O repeats. He replaced the sword into the claw shield standing. "The firewood? The perimeter checks? How about the supply run? Since hunting isn't your problem one of those has to be. The kids have done your job and Cheetara's all day while you two were off doing whatever you wanted."

Tygra scoffs pulling his bag of supplies from Kit and Kat's prying paws neverminding their whining, his want for Cheetara is quickly becoming a need he hasn't the time for any of the others.

"So we took a personal day a little work never killed any cub and definitely wouldn't kill you your Majesty."

"A personal day," Lion-O grumbles. "You think you two can just disappear all day while Panthro, myself, the kits, do all the work?"

The gall of the young king is enough to stop Tygra cold.

"Why not?" Tygra growls rearing to full height all his hackles raised. "You did it all the time, whenever you could for years."

"Things are different now, we were hardly fighting for our lives then-"

At the rise of angry voices Cheetara has come from her tent and the cubs have quieted shrinking back into the shadow the fire preparing for a meltdown between the brothers.

"We were always fighting for our lives!" Tygra roars. "Wake up! You think just because father died you have any idea about responsibility? About leadership?! You think that sword makes you a king?!"

"You think having her makes you unaccountable?!" Lion-O snarls.

A silence falls over the camp as both brothers stare maliciously at each other but it's clear from Lion-O's expression his words were not meant to be uttered.

The victory is too easy and its an intoxication, Lion-O's despair, his want of Tygra's mate.

Tygra's grin is cruel and his words are low and full of venom. "So that's it. That's what this is about. You just can't stand it can you? That she isn't yours like everything else. That I seem to have taken her right from your grasp?"

Cheetara looks on between them alarmed, "Tygra…"

But he doesn't stop and has no plan to.

"Bet you still think about her, still dream about her all the time," the tiger taunts.

Lion-O doesn't move, but his fists ball and he's growling and tensing as though to spring.

It only goads Tygra. "It's painful isn't it? Wanting desperately what you'll never have…"

Lion-O for his credit doesn't blink, "I guess you of all Cats would know." He fingers the hilt of the Sword of Omens meaningfully.

"Keep the sword and keep your orders. She isn't your property and neither am I."

Tygra turns stalking away and the kits scramble to get clear of his path and they don't stop scrambling disappearing into the open hatch of the tank with Snarf right behind.

Cheetara is left alone where the two princes stood because Lion-O is back at the fire prodding the timber irritably.

She comes as close as she dare, afraid of doing any more damage.

"I'm sorry," she offers. "We both are."

He only pokes harder at the burning wood, flinging another log onto the fire, he's ignoring her.

"He didn't mean it, he isn't himself lately, he's just-

"No," Lion-O interrupts bitterly. "He's exactly himself and you're exactly yourself, the two of you, cruel and selfish wrapped in your own little world."

Its unfair, his accusation, he has no idea their weight, their responsibility, to him, to the company, to their journey, how it has stolen even their courtship, their rights to mating, to possibly a family for who knows how long.

"You know that isn't true," she responds quietly.

"What do you care what I think? What I know?" he turns his back fully to her taking up his sword again. "You should go I'm sure Tygra's waiting for you."

She does as he wishes, for the moment Tygra's erratic state is a bit more important than her King's bruised feelings.

"Tygra!"

His ambush so effective she only scents him first then sees his face twists into a snarl.

Her back hits the trunk of a tree with the force of the nudge.

It's clearly what he wants because he purrs thrusting against her, but something is wrong because its only an interruption, he's growling and gripping her with great force.

The haze has seized him, snapped him into a wild aggression.

Wild aggression is accurate because his claws are digging into her hips the same way his teeth nip hard at her shoulder.

The tree bark digging into her spine, she's sure she'll be peltless and red from the friction.

"Wait! Tygra!"

She curses greed and need because when his cock slides squarely across her clit she pushed forward for more trying not to cry out, its delicious even through their layers of clothing.

She can still see the light of the fire from round the thundertank, they are only at the edge of the trees not even hidden in the darkness, within sight range should any of the other cats come around and within earshot if either cry out louder than a whisper.

Cheetara tries to gain her feet but he won't let her, growling and nipping at her jaw in response to her squirming.

The nips are bloodless but she quiets a hiss of pain regardless, it's a rebuff, a displeasure in her lack of cooperation.

They need to do this somewhere safer but Tygra is lost in his lust, his passionate wanting. The only way she could free herself would be with a bit of force, but she has no desire to hurt him, he's hurting enough already if it has gripped him in such a way.

He mumbles something in a guttural growl and she doesn't understand.

"What? Tygra—"

She whimpers mid-sentence because he only answers by nipping her throat again even sharper.

She catches his eyes an orange brown she's seen before in a fit of rage right before they slip into darkness once more, she understands suddenly.

Mine, he'd growled.

"Yours, all yours," she assures him.

With a swept of her eyes across camp she relaxes, letting her eyes fall shut and wrapping her legs tighter round him, relishing the way their bodies meet and her teeth find his neck using his flesh to muffle her noise the same way he is so fond of with her. Her claws go tangling in the back of his mane, the other squeezing his shoulder to urge him on.

She's sure the whole camp can hear their labored breaths and moans she does her best to keep quiet but no one comes and she stops thinking about it when he thrusts hard enough to get her thighs quivering, the electric shock of it radiating from her core.

His claws find the nape of her neck fisting her strands through his claws before turning his mouth on her throat to lick and suckle at her pulse, his breathe tickles and chills her and he's inhaling her scent in lungfuls and his sex nudging against her belly twitches.

Pleasure sparks at the drag of his sex sliding up and down the whole of hers and she's gushing moisture, what's left of her awareness has her in profound awe and disbelief at her level of want and need, the obscenity of their act.

A larger part of her, a darker part doesn't care, doesn't care about anything but getting more of him. She'd be frightened if she could process more than pleasure humming through her at his contact and pain at the lack of.

It's good, it's better than good even but she wants more, needs more and she's starting to pant again and flush, too hot and the pain of her overshot nerves is gradually returning, knifing through her skin. She finds relief in each push and pull of their bodies she needs him and she wriggles as hotly and unabashedly as she can because she can't help it and she's sure she'll go mad if she tries anymore.

Their kiss is broken and she moans nearly keening when the oak of the tree bites harder into her the same way Tygra's member does as she's hoisted up higher trapped tight between the tree and her lover.

She comes with a little whimper and is promptly released.

Tygra stands over her quivering with unspent energy, unspent release.

"Tygra."

He doesn't answer, a rumble beginning in his chest and teeth flashing.

And his scent, she's near dizzy with the pheromones, it swims thick in the air.

"Tygra, come here, let me help you."

He blares out a warning growl slinking off into the woods, leaving Cheetara panting and shaken.

It will only worsen Tygra's sudden snap, she knows as well as she knows how sated she feels physically would not last, pain becoming more aggressive in the same way Tygra has.

She feels her stomach knot at the thought of Tygra's abrupt shift into wildness, she has damned any control he could hope in her selfish want of his tongue.

"Hey."

Panthro frowns at her adjusting the weight of a roe deer kill on his shoulder. "You okay?"

Cheetara nods wondering how long she's been sitting in the dirt and how Panthro has managed to come behind her from the woods without a sound.

Was she that absorbed in her thoughts?

"Of course," she answered hoping it is enough to persuade the cat to let her be.

"Great," he remarks gruffly. "If you and Tygra are hungry you might want to get him now before those cubs eat both your shares."

She gets no berating for her absence. No attitude for her lack of explanation and doesn't make her feel any better its obvious to her at least the General could care less what any of them do and she cannot help but feel their group's divide.

She looks for the prince for nearly an hour before the tang of blood hits her nose and she follows to find a source, as it seems to be in exactly the same direction as Tygra.

A square of flesh covered in brown black pelt barbed on a bush of thorns, the jelly of some beast's insides forming a trail of pink flesh, a massive animal has been torn, torn to pieces.

Her prince is knelt in the dirt, sticky and saturated in blood from head to toe, claws caked with flesh.

Battle won, loser in pieces Tygra still growls in a fury, wild want and need that will not be cheated and would take eventually what was not given...

Tygra's return from the haze is a quiet one, when he spots her there isn't a fuss, a passionate rut nor even much as far as words, she only wraps him in an embrace he allows in his numbness.

Cheetara doesn't need them to know Tygra's horror she can piece together well enough the events of the killing.

He'd sought a hunting venture to calm him and picked up the scent of a bison, so loud in his step, so deaf to anything but blood in his ears screaming he had not noted walking right into a bear foraging a berry patch.

Tygra had fought not for escape, not for defense, but for power, for dominance, for the kill, for want of a mate he could not have.

He had insisted she let him be to scrub away the blood himself and she does as he asks, he doesn't protest when she strips herself to join him at a distance in the river.

She's quiet and withdrawn wringing out her hair, so lost in thought her claws idly combing wet tangles.

Cheetara finds herself suddenly angry because she wants him again and a dead bear becomes completely irrelevant.

"Tygra?"

The question posed is a delicate askance.

"Behind you," he answers flatly.

She isn't sure how to propose such a thing, how he'll respond.

At the small warm hand tugging at his shoulder he turns and there she is, wet and shimmering with the light of the moon, a spotted arm barred across her chest.

She's too beautiful for words.

"Mate with me."

He isn't sure he's heard her correctly.

"Say again?"

She takes two long strides till they are chest to chest, body to body.

"We can't do this anymore, it isn't working," Cheetara says.

"You want to give up? It hasn't been that long."

"That's my point, it's been less than two days and we're only getting worse, slipping out of control."

"You mean I am," Tygra says.

"It's not your fault, Tygra."

He shrugs off her touch. "It is. I could have helped it."

"You can't expect control, neither of us. It's foolish. It isn't something that can be altered, its nature. Unchangeable and cruel to those who do not accept her gifts."

"You call this a gift? Waiting and being afraid of that moment I take you and tear you apart to satisfy myself?"

"I'm not afraid of you Tygra."

"You are," he insists. "You've been afraid from the moment I touched you. I smell it on you and it just grows."

"Of course I'm afraid, so are you, of what's happening," she clarifies, "I've trusted you nearly my whole life, it's going to take more than a heat cycle to send me running."

"You don't get it, it came like lightning I was so angry and then the bear was- and I let go and let it take over, I hurt you and slaughtered that animal, I just remember feeling good and worse part is wanting to do it again. And the things I want to do to you I'm forgetting why I shouldn't."

He can smell her scent change, piqued with unease.

"See?"

He expects her to look away but she doesn't even blink, her eyes holding challenge. "You aren't paying attention then." She grips her mass of damp hair pulling it over one shoulder, the move is like pulling away a curtain and he can see her nipples, pink and pert in the moonlight and he's breathless despite his despair.

Those breasts press into him and she uses his shoulders to steady her on tiptoe, her throat displayed fully. He wouldn't miss her scent or the way her pulse rushes.

"What else? What else can you smell?"

He looks trapped and hesitant and before long his nose runs the length of her neck.

She's sweet-smelling under the light sour note of fear, a scent he's completely familiar with, she's heavily aroused.

"What are you waiting for?"

"You could cub, you probably would cub," he reminds her.

"I've decided to leave it in the Great Sky Cat's paws as should you, how have we lost such faith in our fate, our destiny that removed our walls and brought us to each other."

"We've lost everything already Cheetara, I can't I want to but I can't, even if I don't slip too badly I'm going to hurt you, I can't help it, not because I want to, but I need to."

Cheetara nods, swallowing a lump of distress. "I know."

And she does know, trying to prepare herself for it is the worst part.

"I know what you're trying to do but you can't, you can't ask me to use you to take the urge away. And a cub born from your pain, your sacrifice? You couldn't be a cleric anymore, not heavy with a cub, and me…the whole journey could crumble, this whole thing…" He closes his eyes sighing. "Maybe there's a reason we've always had walls, maybe we aren't supposed to fit."

She takes his paws squeezing a powerful reassurance into them. "You're wrong. We are all made in the fires of passion, in the loss of reason as intended by the Great Sky Cat in the perfect timing He makes. We fit perfectly, don't ever tell me we don't, it's cruel."

Cheetara gives up anger or sorrow, kissing Tygra with all the hope she can in one caress of lips.

The apology is obvious in his eyes.

"Come back to camp when you're ready, I'll wait."

She leaves the water carefully to avoid slipping on the bedrock leaving Tygra with only crickets and frogs playing the music of the night.

It's well into the night that Tygra returns, the camp is dark and quiet and it comes as a surprise to see their tent has been moved further up river where the water rushing over the rocks.

Cheetara awakens from a restless doze coming to her feet.

"You moved us," Tygra notes.

"It's a bit more private," is her only explanation.

Not an easy task for just one of them in such a short while and in the dark as well.

He takes a moment to take in the rest of their quarters, she's lined the whole floor with what's left of the spare blankets.

Cheetara is not in her usual clothing, wearing one of her simple tan travel cloaks, this one large sleeved and long, falling to her ankles, cinched by three facets of green buttons, one at the neckline, another just at her ribs and another at her navel.

She seems to be looking for some clue of approval and he doesn't say a word for a few moments more, winding a strand of her hair round his claw.

The wind billows the tent flap and he takes a moment to bend pinning it closed. It was going to be a colder night clearly.

His clan was built for the cold, but Cheetara…

"You're going to catch your death you know."

"You're warm enough," she says.

He supposes its his cue to speak. "Okay."

"Okay?" she says in a stilted kind of way that tells him he's going to have to elaborate.

"Mating, we should." He takes her chin tilting it up planting a kiss on her lip, but she barely responds. "I want to."

It's clearly what she wants to hear because she purrs reclaiming his lips.

Just as she gets used to the slow melding of tongues and lips he nips her cutting the plump skin of her lip with his teeth making a short rasping growl.

It's a shallow cut that stings with the touch of her tongue against it.

His claws freeze on her waist and he gains his breath, his eyes regretful even as they try to darken. "I'm sorry see I'm already hurting you."

"I told you I'm not afraid of you." She's all murmured low tones that curl round his belly.

He wants to tell her it's hardly the point, he doesn't want to take her the way his primal nature tells him he should, not her first time bruised and bleeding.

Or worse.

He's a smart enough cat not to suggest she's fragile, because she isn't in most context, but in this way she may as well be antique china.

Tygra takes a deep breath, readying himself to look at her.

He goes to his knees sitting.

"Come here," he beckons taking both her small paws in his much larger ones.

She does as he asks preparing to sit knees to knees with him before he urges her much closer, she gets his meaning sitting on his lap, he pulls her closer so she's nearly flush against him.

The cheetah's nervous hands are intercepted by the tiger.

"No wait, let me."

But he doesn't go for her the buttons of her cloak, hands finding the bottom edge of it, both hands trailing her from knee to hip.

"Pretty confident weren't you?" he sounds amused but that mischievous glint is absent.

She only leans forward to press her lips to his, he kisses her back slowly working through his reluctance.

"Should I go put my clothes on then?"

He makes a low warm sound that might be a laugh trying to form at her attempt to lighten the mood.

Tygra brings her forward tight against him for a more intimate kiss, she's completely relaxed for the moment and it does wonders to put him at ease as well.

He breaks their kiss with reluctance working reverently at the buttons on her cloak, first one, then the other and finally the last pushing it from her shoulders.

When he checks her expression Cheetara's eyes are hooded with wanting and already he picked up the slight quickening of her heart. Her hair he gathers in his claws carefully pushing over her shoulders as well.

Her nipples already stiff atop beautiful full breasts and her breath quickens more under his stare of them, if possible she looks even smaller and more delicate when her little belly tightens as well with nerves.

Tygra evades her questing hands by easing them to her sides.

"You've seen them before," she points out.

"I haven't," he insists, "not like this."

He presses both thumbs along the stiff little points and she can't help her hands flying to his shoulders and her legs spreading to press better against the strain of his sex.

She can't help rocking her hips a little when he begins pinching and pulling lightly at them.

He takes one little bud suckling lightly as he plucks at and caresses the other till switching with a happy hum. He's surprised to note when her claws tighten in his mane and she started her familiar little gasping moans that give him clue she's climbing close to orgasm.

He releases the swollen nipples from mouth and paws seizes her hips when he begins to pant feeling the first flutters of the haze returning. "Sorry to ruin your fun, just-"

She understands, she can hear it, a low grumble like a whisper vibrating in his chest.

Though it pains her, literally, she nods fighting her own tremors of a cheated pleasure. He needs the control and she would more than allow him a moment for it.

It only takes a moment before he's kissing and licking at her breasts again, his hands adjusting to grab her buttock and he thrust just once hard and slow. She quivers biting her lip against the sting of pain against the wound of his mark and pleasure flooding her. She follows the pace he sets but he has to remind her to slow in a wordless way, claws unsheathing to lightly drag across her rump when she try to quicken it.

Its agony, a good ten minutes that feels like eternity on the edge of a cliff called ecstasy.

And when it pulls her closer and closer she doesn't slow her gradual speed up, uncaring of his berate of claws and he begins purring and just kneading at handfuls of taut muscle, the hum of his pleasure tightening her suckled and pinched breasts.

She comes with a sharp abrupt cry seeing stars.

Cheetara is allowed a bit of time to recover and when her eyes open to the world again Tygra is quivering too.

He hasn't released yet.

Cheetara moves to touch him.

"No," he pants. His eyes flicker brown, black and brown once more. "Turn around for me."

Of course, he was probably eager for the mating and she'd be a liar if she protested she wasn't as well.

She slips from his lap, turning away and once on her hands and knees she arches feeling in her blood she has made herself as optimally enticing this way.

And she is, Tygra is sure he's never seen anything more tempting in his life, she's slick and open, soft and firm muscled thighs and buttocks fully displayed and he nearly takes her then and his pain climbs at his refusal.

She hears the rustle of the prince's clothing, the blue and white uniform being taking off and her heart palpates in anticipation

Cheetara expects his powerful paws to grip her hips and enter her, and for a moment nothing happens and just as she convinces herself to turn his paws do come taking her hips and sitting her in a kneel.

Warm wet licks trail the whole length of her spine and she receives a kiss for each brown back spot discovered, her hair pushed back over the front of her shoulder to give him better access.

She feels almost sleepy at his attentions, he's grooming her, and though its extremely appreciated she's confused. Perhaps it's another measure of calm he needs so she'll take it

"Turn around," he tells her once more.

"But," she protests, unable to quiet her confusion. "Don't you want-?"

Instinct tells her she isn't wrong to wonder why her offer is being ignored, instinct tells her position of lordosis had been absolutely correct, absolutely desirable.

"No, not like that, I want to see you." He turns her round and kisses her full and deep. "Is that okay?"

She answers with another kiss at his question and she's laid to rest on her back. Tygra's panting though again and she waits not knowing whether to she's better helping soothe him by her stillness or action.

Cheetara breathes again when he opens eyes that are fierce but still brown, fighting the haze.

"You have no idea what you do to me," he tells her.

She can guess because she's just noticing how swollen he is and nearly purple with arousal, leaking.

Tygra lays a kiss on her mound, spreading her.

Cheetara resists when its obvious, his goal. "Tygra-"

His cock twitches in interest and its hard to breathe around the lump in her throat watching.

"I need to, please don't say no."

She opens for him and he dives as though starving and she comes at least twice more before he's finished.

Cheetara blood is salty and hot on her togue from agitating the bite on her lip and her eyes snap open feeling his organ nudging against her.

Tygra looks truly dangerous now on the verge, every muscle tight, tight and bulging.

"You trust me?" he asks.

Even his voice sounds different, guttural and low.

She nods. "Yes, always."

It seems to satisfy him but he still hesitates.

She licks the length of his face tenderly. "I love you," she adds.

At this Tygra stares at her wide eyed and then hope, relief and love warms his expression. "I love you, I always have."

Their lips meet in a sweet tangle and she eagerly spreads herself for him.

Her eyes go impossibly wide at the moment he breaches her entrance and she can't help the sudden panic breaking her mouth from his. Her claws drive into the muscles of his shoulders, she's gone rigid making quick shuddered breaths full of pain. She's practically vibrating around him shaking so hard and trying to climb away from under him with her claws using the meat of his shoulders as grips.

He can taste blood in his mouth from where his tongue has met his teeth and she's still driving those claws deeper, his hands go firmly to arresting her hips to stop her escape but allow her claws.

She has a right to her weapons against him.

Flesh for flesh.

He wants pain if she has to endure it as well.

Her eyes have never held such a shimmer, dark and corral and he suspects it's the start of tears she won't spill.

His beautiful, brave and stubborn mate.

He pulls an arrayed strand away from where it's fallen across her brow and planting a kiss on the line of her delicate nose in the same instant her shaking begins to calm, not stopping all together but calming.

She's perfect, an unbelievably perfect fit when her walls ease around him still each instinctive pulse of her is like a coiling, a strangling hold that borders pain, he's sure he won't last, she's too tight.

They haven't even begun either.

Something dark takes him once again when he grabs ahold the side of her sweet unmarred throat where her neck meets shoulder with his teeth and cants his hips in a single brutal second.

She is completely caught off-guard when he thrusts powerfully and fully into her and she's vaguely aware it's only the break of her barrier but it feels like being torn apart from the inside.

As if incensed with vengeance she's rending his shoulders and chest and anywhere else she can and muffling her cries with her teeth around his collarbone.

"Tygra, Tygra…"

His name uttered is a litany against her pain, a plea.

He's never heard her sound so desperate for his help, some salvation to come from him. Salvation he fights to give her.

Because the beast roaring inside loves to hear her mewling in that distressed way, an acknowledgement of his power over her and her submission to it.

Proof of both her strength and frailty.

Her tolerance for pain impressive and sweet Thundera her blood is on his mouth buzzing on his tongue.

Cheetara only gets impossibly black eyes as a response and he's lapping at the neck wound he's made. His teeth dig into her neck once more and he makes a little grunting growl preparing to thrust again if the tightening of his hold into her neck is any indication.

She can't hold in another whimper.

The fog clears at the sound of her.

He's hurting her.

Cheetara is relieved to see those deep browns when he immediately releases her neck.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he tells her over and over.

He'd been nearly crushing her but when he moves to relieve her of his weight one leg goes curling round him, heel pressing into the small of his back.

Her expression is of trepidation but she does the same with the other leg, it's a clear offer.

"Stay."

He groans feeling her little shifts drive him deeper and more easily into her.

He feels himself steeling, bubbling with anxiety, need to unravel, an action that he isn't sure where it will lead to but he's positively it's a road he doesn't want and would probably end with his mate deeply wounded.

"I can't, I can't."

"You can," she whispers, "I'm right here, claim me."

He's quivering with the strain of his stillness inside her and she gives another encouraging thrust against him before turning her mouth to pull softly at a bit of his bicep.

She can literally feel the anxiety ebb from him but not power or wildness, his tongue going flat to trail her neck and face and he slides back all the way inside her with only gentleness that's borderline lazy.

He struggles, she can feel it, he wants more than anything to drive deep and hard, she continues to softly murmur encouragement, petting away tensions, soothing his growls, keeping the beast at the door, never to enter.

It seems to daze and satisfy him, purring fully and thrusting, slow, slow, and deep.

It's perfect because she needs his dazed arousal to relax around him, he still feels sharp and overly large but she's beginning to swim with something incredible as he moves trailing bites and licks along her throat.

She arches, breasts meeting the wall of his chest, pink dusk colored nipples lick hot and sharp where they scrape along him and he bows his head to suckle

He trails the whole length of one thigh in a caress before holding it loosely round his hip, he spots the tiniest little black brown spot just a few inches up her thigh and circles the little mark.

Her hiss is a glass shard at his ear, sharp, and he can feel her curling into herself and clamping around his cock in a strangling hold, she's close.

And so is he.

They pant, coming together in a powerful wave of sensation, sleep finally claiming them only minutes after.

They continue mating this way well into the night and early morning.

The next morning...

When Cheetara wakes up its in the warmth of Tygra curled round her possessively, his snoring closer to purring.

She immediately bites down crying out, she feels as though she's been beaten bloody, tender, sore and aching in every bit of her. Its agony to move at all but she manages to get from around the tiger without a sound.

There's blood drying across his shoulders where her claws dug holes into his flesh and a set of teeth marks staining the ivory of his collarbone and another set of deeper bites on his throat, shallower scratches crisscross his chest. He looks a beautiful savage thing completely sated.

She has an urge to wake him that will only grow because she's ready again for mating despite her condition.

She isn't even sure mating again is wise without more time for recovery, her body doesn't seem to care, the thought of pain doing nothing to persuade against it.

She decides on a wash instead, she's a mess.

It's barely light out and there isn't a single movement from the tank in fact its quiet as a grave. She isn't surprised, its much too early for even Panthro to be awake.

With only her travel cloak around her body and all of her clothes spotted with blood or grime it's quite a stroke of luck, she's sure questions would be asked otherwise, awkward questions she doesn't want to answer. Besides that Tygra's scent is all over her, her scent and his mixing in a way that was unmistakable and the blood…

She is slow moving the pain nauseating as she goes past the campsite further downstream where she'll be cloaked well by the thicket of trees, past their bathing area to deeper waters. The water still warm enough for relief to be found for her extremely sore limbs.

It's not at all like the healing pool in the clerisy, she doesn't feel renewed with energy the but familiar pain that throbs for a need to mate asks but does not yet beg. She's more acutely feeling a soreness.

He'd been gentle after the initial wildness, and she finds no blame in him for a bit of roughness, he was only a male with needs to properly claim his female. So he had bitten, clawed, tasted and mated and she too was satisfied.

Very satisfied.

What did it mean now though?

Tygra was her mate. Officially, in the oldest, most primitive way of Cats.

She fingers at the mark on the side of her neck, it would be easy enough to hide with her high collar and hair strategically placed but his teeth had gone deep and purposeful in their placement, missing the cartoid, instinctively avoiding using a killing bite but making a mating one that would heal in time and her short pelt regrow over it but it would scar faintly and sharp cat's eyes would never miss it, it would always be recognized for what it was.

Tygra had been given a similar one, she'd made her own claim on the prince as hers as well.

They belonged to each other fully now but her peace and bliss is clouded with uncertainty.

She wonders if she'd cub and if she wasn't pregnant now, how likely was it that they would need to repeat the mating, or was the insanity of need over now?

A cub with Tygra now in a war torn land was dangerous.

And irresponsible.

Cheetara feels guilt gnaw at her and she's determined to ignore it, mating needs were the fault of no cat, and with the conditions thrown their way she's only relieved Tygra was the one she'd shared it with.

She's so consumed in her washing and her thoughts she misses the gleam of eyes shining from the shadow of an oak near the bank and the shifting of claws in the moist soil.

Cheetara exits the water finding her cloak on the branch of low hanging aspen, right where she'd left it. She knots it with a strip of cloth at the waist and proceeds with washing her clothing as best she can. Its tough going with stubborn blood spots and grass stains but she's rewarded with spotless uniforms eventually.

She wrings and wrings wincing through the aggravation of overworked muscles until the fabric only holds dampness folding them carefully, they'd be hung outside for rest of the morning the sunshine expected for the day she's sure would take care of the rest. The need for sleep, rest from her fatigue beckons her back to the blanket of her mate's body, she misses already the bare press of him against her.

She'd left him bleeding and sleeping soundly and she fills a water skin remembering. She could clean the worse of the blood from him and groom gently away the sting of bites and scratches. She has an overwhelming need to do it she can't ignore.

Cheetara nearly falls backwards colliding solidly with a wall.

Not a wall, a chest.

Her muscle pain flares in her shaky misstep she manages to keep her feet.

"Lion-O," Cheetara greets trying to smile but she's tired, so tired.

She grips her cloak's hood, rumpling the material.

"Cheetara," he says quietly.

He doesn't smile and he sounds…odd, distant even.

"You're up early," he finally notes.

She uncomfortable with the way his blue eyes observe her, noting her appearance, her wet clothes and the cloak that shields her. Something dims his ocean blue eyes till they are nearly cerulean and his slack expression becomes a full frown.

"I am, sleep was difficult."

"I would guess so," and his tone is definitely derisive.

She supposes he still has not forgiven her and she nods, accepting.

"I will see you back at camp," she says.

She mewls loudly in pain, his iron grip on her upper arm.

"How long do you think you're going to play games with me?"

He stares at her through widening pupils, canines bared and he's growling.

"Lion-O, what?"

She's confused but more than that his hold tightens as she pulls away and her heart kicks a warning at the numbness. He's going to break her arm with one powerful squeeze if she doesn't free herself.

Cheetara struggle only seems to anger the lion.

"Don't pretend, you tease, you torment me and I've had just about enough."

"Lion-O let go!"

"You should have been mine!"

Her friend. Her King is hurting her.

She doesn't have a choice when she lands a brutal kick to his chest that should crumple him, the pain is unimaginable with the effort.

He only stumbles and instead of cold blue eyes she gets darkness, the telltale sign of an awakening.

No, it's too early, lions matured much later.

"Lion-O let go!"

It's a horrible irony that Lion-O is what a healer would call a singular, a percent of 2 that did not bend to a tried and true schedule of awakening.

A more likely occurrence of a singular in the constant presence of a male and she-cat courting for mating, their hormones nudging Lion-O's to become active. Another kind of syncing.

Lion-O's lips are rough and demanding against her own.

His teeth chew at her lower lip for entrance and she lashes out with a bite of her own and a scratch that catches his unguarded neck.

Lion-O hisses but releases her and those eyes blink a blue gaze. There's blood dripping down his chin from her bite and red flaring from the scratches across his neck.

He looks about, like coming from a dream and his expression is horror.

His hands shake and he balls them into fists to stop it.

Lion-O goes white as a sheet.

"I'm sorry, I don't know what happened, I didn't mean to—I'd never" Lion-O nearly doubles over, his knees wobbling like a newborn fawn. "What's happening?"

She thinks he may get sick.

He babbles in complete panic and confusion and she doesn't blame him.

"I'm causing it, you're experiencing an awakening."

Its clear from his expression she isn't making sense and she's suddenly angry. It's a mess, thunderanian law, of course he wouldn't know, lions of the royal bloodline were bonded to mates by nineteen seasons, two seasons before their awakening and such a taboo subject is avoided usually beforehand. A female of his own chosen before chaos could occur.

Her king has no intended and his want of her would only magnify, claimed or not, the newly awakened were only blind in their quest. The scent of Tygra still lingers on her skin despite a scrub and his mark still stains her throat, Lion-O had challenged his brother's claim unintentional or not.

There would be consequences.

"You can't be near me, or Tygra," Cheetara says. "It's dangerous." She pauses resigned. "Tell Panthro what's happened, Tygra and I will return in a few days when I've finished."

"You're not making any sense Cheetara—

A sound rattles the trees.

It sounds like thunder rolling, or some great beast bellowing, all rage and fury.

Its Tygra.

His whole pelt standing high in agitation and Lion-O is the focus of an ebony glare.

Her heart sinks to her feet, going cold. And for the first time in many years she's deathly afraid she hasn't had nearly enough time to recover nor the strength presently to separate them.

She'd be useless.

"Lion-O run," she whispers.

He doesn't answer and Tygra's still growling.

The moment she moves forward for Tygra it's as though a thread of hope is severed Lion-O whirls on her snapping teeth at her in warning.

There is not apology in his black eyes.

The action is clearer than words for Cheetara.

She isn't to move.

Tygra snarls in a rage moving forward.

They were going to rip each other apart.