(Thundercats 2011)

Book I – Drogo x Inca

A/N - First thing I want to do is a giant DOGEZA for taking so LONG to get this out. But I will say I have honest excuses. Between writer's block and a couple of really difficult parts to write in this chapter, I think I deserve a little slack. I mean, the document was 27 pages long, so at least I'm giving you a good, long read (the longest chapter to date for me).

Also - I will go ahead and say that this will be (at least for a time) my LAST Thundercats fic. I am hoping to focus on my other projects, including my Mercy Thompson and Dragon Age fics as well as my original work, so this fandom will be on the veritable back burner for a while. I do apologize to my Tcats fans, but I may write more at a later date. I hope you enjoyed what I did write.

I want to thank all my readers, even the ones who did not review. I got your love in the faves and follows. A special thank you to the ones who did take the time to let me know what you thought. Seriously, I felt like a kid on Christmas when I got emails to let me know I had them. I loved to hear what you had to say. You are greatly appreciated!

EDIT 2/6/15 - sexual content mostly removed

To my most faithful readers of this story:

Bronwynn

EzzieSkull

EmperorofRome

XEHX

Ronald Mitchell

You guys ROCK! Thank you! :D

Anyway, thanks again, and enjoy. As always, please read and review! I proofread and made corrections, but I may have missed something, so please let me know. Go grab a drink and get comfortable, 'cause this is a long one!


NAHUATL TRANSLATIONS

Toteotzin – Lord (but for my purposes, Love)

Tatzintli - father

Cihuanton - little girl

Pipiotzin - little chicken

Mochipa nimitztlahzoa - I will love you always

Louco - crazy

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Thundercats or have any affiliation with the creators, producers, etc., nor do I receive any compensation for this work.


Ch. 6 - Reunion

1 week later…

The preparations were complete. Inca checked herself over one last time. She was ready, ready to face the small congregation that had gathered for their ceremony.

Hopefully Leia would be satisfied with the proceedings. Inca was usually shy about being in front of crowds, however small. But Leia was the closest cat she had to a sister while she was away from her homeland, and she wanted to make the event special.

Leia had helped Inca get ready, clucking over how beautiful she was ad nauseum. She had finally left once she was satisfied with the jaguar's appearance. Inca had secretly been grateful.

She certainly hoped her friend would be as diligent when her own mating ceremony to the prince took place. After all, that would be a much more extravagant event to be sure!

A small knock on the door took Inca out of her musings. Who could it be now? she thought irritably, moving to the door. If it's Leia again… She knew how to get to the ceremony hall without an escort, so…?

When she cracked the door, her eyes flew wide.

"T-Tatzintli?"She blinked several times, unbelieving of what she was seeing. How could her father be here? Her confusion must have been obvious. The tall jaguar stared at the daughter whom he had missed so greatly. The way they had parted…

"Hello, cihuanton," he said, his eyes misty. He entered and immediately hugged Inca close, her head, complete with shocked face, fitting just under his chin. His heart was made glad by her familiar scent. His steady purr was a comforting sound against her ear.

"Oh, my little one, how I've missed you." He murmured softly.

Inca was speechless, her throat choked with emotion. It was so overwhelming to see her father again after so long, and on today of all days. She was shocked, excited, and uncertain all at the same time.

Despite those feelings, it felt right to be in her papa's arms again. Pride and shame had kept her from returning, from having the much-needed conversation with her parents.

But now, she had a second chance. Her arms clasped him tightly, and she felt the moisture come to her eyes.

When they finally released their embrace, Horace smiled sadly at his daughter. "I am so sorry for what happened, Inca. I was a foolish idiot, and I did not support you when you needed me the most."

When Inca saw the tears in Horace's eyes, her own began to overflow. He bowed his head, completely contrite. "Please forgive me," he said.

She dabbed at her eyes, trying not to ruin the work Leia had done. "Of course I forgive you, father. I should not have left like I did, in the middle of the night like a thief."

He shook his head. "I understand why you did. I was acting so foul toward you. When I remember the things I said both to and in your presence…" He shook his head again. "I was horrible to you, my dear."

Inca wanted to get past all that, not wanting to relive those ugly feelings. But she was curious. "How did you come to be here?" she asked, changing the subject. Their homeland was a long way away. And for that matter… "How did you even know where I was?"

"It is interesting, really," he explained. "I was just thinking of you that day, wondering where you were, if you were happy, wanting desperately to speak with you. Imagine how surprised I was when I was called to greet a guest, who happened to be the darkest, largest lion I have ever seen, in my home."

Inca gasped. Drogo. Drogo had gone to her father's home all the way in Mazatlàn and brought him here. So that was why he had left her for so long! It took over a week at least to reach their home directly from Thundera, maybe a little less if one hurried.

She smiled fully, grateful to her mate for being so very thoughtful on such a special day. She had to remember to thank him properly when this was all over.

Her father moved to her side, presenting an elbow to her. "I am certain we have much to discuss, but I think someone is waiting for you. And I am much honored to be here, and to walk my little girl down the aisle." His eyes shone with pride. "Shall we go?"

As he led her to the ceremony room, Inca felt the painful burden of the falling out she had with her father leave her. Everything was falling into place, and she couldn't be happier.

That was, until she entered the hall and saw her mother and siblings sitting in the audience as well. Her face split with a smile from ear to ear, especially when her gaze connected with her sister, who had been her best friend growing up.

Maya smiled at her, her hands coming to cover her mouth when she saw her big sister, looking so beautiful in her green gown, for the first time in so long. She couldn't wait to wrap her arms around her!

She wouldn't even mind being called Pipiotzin again.

Her brother smiled, giving a small wave. He always was a shy one. He'd grown so tall, had filled out his lanky body so well. Inca wondered if he had a mate in mind. His age of maturity had come and gone.

She could not wait to pick his brain about it.

Her mother looked on her with gentle, excited eyes bright with tears. Erzine would have wanted to have participated in all the preparations, but the situation was of a special nature, and she was just happy to be here to see her daughter be happy.

When the lion had spoken with her and Horace, showing such a fierce love and protectiveness for their daughter, Erzine had known that he Inca had found someone worthy of her.

That in and of itself had warmed Erzine's heart. She could die knowing her daughter would be cared for.

Horace escorted Inca up to where Drogo was waiting. When Inca finally turned her eyes to him, they were lit up with gratitude and love.

He found he could not move his gaze from hers if he had wanted to. She was so beautiful, and her joy colored her face in a glow he'd never seen before. He certainly wanted to see that look on her face more often.

Her father looked so proud. Drogo was relieved that their reunion had not be a negative experience. He had had his own words with Horace regarding his past treatment of Inca, telling him that she had needed his understanding and support, not his censure.

Her father had been apologetic, too caught up in remorse to be affronted at the younger male's chastisement. He had expressed an interest in seeing his daughter again. The whole family had.

Drogo had informed them that his purpose for coming to Mazatlàn had in fact been to bring them back to see their lost family member.

He had then told them why, that Inca was his mate, and would become so publicly in a ceremony. Horace had been taken aback by the announcement, and Drogo knew that optimally, the older cat would have preferred his daughter mate another jaguar.

But Horace's obsession with advancing his lineage had lessened over the years, especially with what had happened with his oldest. He was now more concerned with his children finding happiness rather than familial duty.

It probably helped that his son Chupa had actually made a successful match with a young jaguaress who had fit the ideal perfectly.

The delight in the situation was that Chupa loved the girl. It hadn't started out that way, but the two had found similarities with one another that had led to a quick friendship and even quicker affection.

Now, two of his children would be mated and happy. Horace couldn't be more pleased, and his face showed it as he handed Inca over to Drogo.

Inca smiled gratefully up at her mate. She was so filled with appreciation and contentment that he was so thoughtful. Never would she have imagined he would go through such lengths to please her.

Mazatlàn was not a short distance from Thundera by any means, and for him to go all the way there to retrieve her family definitely proved his love for her.

She looked forward to spending the rest of her life with him.

Drogo pulled her closer, and as they turned to the shaman the rest of the hall settled in for the ceremony.


The ceremony went quickly, thankfully. Once it was complete, and Drogo had kissed Inca senseless, the congregation moved to the banquet hall for the reception.

Inca immediately ran to her mother and siblings, sharing furious hugs and kisses. Tears were shared all around, and they all went to sit down and talk at the table reserved for the couple and their close friends and family.

Jaga and Jorel approached Drogo, Jorel giving him a friendly pat on his back. "Congratulations, my friend. You've finally settled down." He gave him a poke in the ribs with his elbow. "I knew this one was special when you stayed the whole night with her."

Drogo poked him back, nearly toppling the male over. "Shh! Mentor is standing right here," he whispered derisively. Both cats turned awkward eyes to their leader.

Jaga chuckled, alarming both Clerics. "Please. I was young once too." He set a hand on Ona's shoulder, the healer seeming to have materialized out of thin air. The two walked over to the food table, thick as thieves.

Drogo looked on awkwardly. "Who'd have thought even the Mentor would have someone?" He was shocked when Jorel shrugged.

"Why wouldn't he?" Jorel said. "He is my father after all. Did you think he grew me in a lab? He's been with my mother for years."

"She's your mother?!" The lion cast another glance at the happy couple, his eyes astonished. "I never knew." It hurt a little that his best friend hadn't confided in him about it.

"Yep," Jorel said, his voice uncommonly casual. "We were keeping mum about it for the sake of their careers, but what's the point now?" He'd been drinking since they had come in, which was starting to relax the young Cleric from his usual taciturn bearing.

He smirked. "Obviously Mom has something that keeps him coming back," he told Drogo.

Without another word, Jorel went to join Talli where she was talking with Tessa and Hadrian. Apparently many things have changed, Drogo thought. Or perhaps they never had? He just hadn't noticed them. At least Jorel had had a good reason to keep this from him.

Watching the Grand Cleric and his…mate? select their food before sitting themselves at a table, Drogo decided to stop trying to figure it all out. He shook his head, speechless, and made his way back to his mate and her family.

Inca was listening intently to Chupa as he was talking about his mate, the small, black female seated next to him. She seemed shy. Her name was Nana.

They had met at the Gathering two years before. She had come from a small yet proud clan who had only accepted Chupa's mating offer when their daughter had assured them of her approval.

The rest was history. The young couple was expecting their first cub. Nana's shy smile complemented by rich, intense honey-colored eyes made Inca instantly like her. Her seemingly demure attitude hid a fierce spirit. Her brother had done well.

When Drogo made it to Inca, he wound his arms around her waist, nuzzling his chin against her hair as he pulled her back against him. She was tense at first, but relaxed against him.

They had been working on the PDA thing, deciding on a compromise. Drogo would not be too obviously affectionate, so as not to make Inca uncomfortable, but he explained that sometimes he had to touch her. It was just part of who he was.

So Inca decided that some things were okay. She smiled up at him, and continued to listen to all the events she had missed over the years.

Maya had taken up the musical arts, something she had always professed an interest in. Apparently she excelled at both instrument and voice, much to the delight of their mother Erzine, who was also accomplished in the skill.

The two often spent hours making music, sometimes with one playing while the other sang or both singing or playing instruments. Erzine expressed that she would miss Maya when she finally mated and left their home.

Inca was proud of both of her siblings, of their accomplishments and happiness. She was also sad to have missed them all, having been away for five years. Her sibs were her first friends, the closest ones she had before meeting Leia.

Her heart ached for all the lost time.

The guests looked on as the couple opened their gifts, many of them practical and some aesthetic or fun. The two had a great laugh over the inventiveness and humor of their friends.

After all the gifts were opened, Jorel handed Drogo the gift purchased at the market that fateful day. Drogo had wanted to present his gift to his mate personally, and he prayed she would love it.

Inca opened the rectangular, mint green box, careful not to ruin the beautiful lavender bow. Her mate watched her face, waiting for her reaction.

Her eyes widened as she reached into the box, pulling from it a beautifully-crafted obsidian dagger, its black blade glittering in the light of the room. She looked closer, seeing an engraving at the base of the blade.

"Mochipa nimitztlahzoa," it read.

Inca's eyes watered. "I will love you always," she translated. She smiled up at Drogo, her eyes shining. "Thank you so much," she said softly, trying not to cry.

What a unique and thoughtful gift!

Obsidian was yet another precious commodity found in her homeland. In fact, it was sought after by many, as it was a malleable material that could be used to make light, deadly weapons such as her dagger.

She couldn't imagine using it as a weapon, as obsidian blades were rare and often broke if used wrongly. But they also cut very cleanly, and were dangerous in unskilled hands. She would put it on display in their home, as a reminder of just how generous the gods had been to her.

Drogo looked on as she continued to inspect his gift, a grin on his face. He had hoped she would love the dagger, something that would remind her a little of her home. It would seem his choice had been a success.

He was happy that the idea to put the words on the dagger had come just as he had entered the city with Inca's family. Her father had helped him with the translation. Drogo had dropped the dagger off with the engraver before going home and picked it up a couple days before their ceremony.

It had been a good decision.

Inca embraced and kissed him before placing the dagger back into its box for safekeeping. She placed it with their other gifts as the music began playing. Her hand was immediately taken, and Drogo swept her about the dance floor, other couples joining in.

Tygra and Cheetara had come, along with nearly all the Clerics in support of Drogo and his new mate. The two danced, smiling lovingly at one another, talking quietly. It was nice to see their prince so happy.

Their daughter, Princess Astrid, was being held by her grandfather, King Claudus, who could not get enough of the little one even when she grabbed his mane roughly. His smile was both delight and pain as he played with her.

Inca saw Leia happily dancing with Lion-O, who seemed to have matured greatly since they had first come to this land.

Actually, both of them had. Where Lion-O had at one time been shy, lazy, and seemingly disinclined to be king, he was now more involved, and was even proactive in seeking more responsibilities. Claudus had been relieved.

Leia, once insecure and oftentimes prone to whining when things didn't go her way, now carried herself with the grace and authority of a queen. She would definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

Inca was proud of both of them, and happy that she could now focus on her own happiness.

Said happiness whisked her about like a professional, and as she looked on his face Inca could not help but feel that all was well in the world for her. In his loving gaze she found definite concord.

The party ended shortly after, and it was all the better for Inca and Drogo. They were most eager to be alone. Drogo had whispered of something special tonight, and she couldn't wait to see what he had planned.

They had decided to stay near Thundera, neither really feeling the need to journey too far away. It didn't diminish anything in their eyes. They knew they could celebrate just fine wherever they were.

Drogo had arranged for them to stay the night at an inn that boasted of a hot spring. Inca had never even been to a hot spring, and neither had Drogo, so she was very excited to spend such a new experience together with him.

Once all the guests had departed, the two went to pay their respects to Jaga, who was also readying himself to leave. Drogo was taken aback when Inca bowed alongside him, something she had never done before. That was his Order's way of greeting the Grand Cleric.

What was going on?

"Inca..?" he began, but was cut off. "I wanted to tell you sooner," she explained. "But I think this is as good a time as any. I have been thinking a long time about my purpose now that Leia does not need me as a guard."

Her insecurity about his reaction showed on her face. "I approached Jaga while you were away, and asked him if there was any room in the Clerics for me." She smiled at Jaga.

The Grand Cleric returned her smile. "I was more than happy to accept her. Her skills and knowledge will be a great addition to our Order. Once she has passed my tests, I think she will fit in quite well."

Drogo's eyebrows lifted in surprise; his mate…a Cleric? This was an interesting development.

He had his misgivings, of course. Would they be able to see each other as often if she was on duty away from him or vice versa? Was he okay with the danger her new station could bring?

And when they had cubs…that would open up a whole new set of concerns.

He put those thoughts out of his mind for the moment. They would speak of those things later. And perhaps it would be a good experience for her, now that he thought about it.

He was never one to restrict her, and he would back her up with whatever decision she made. She was his mate after all, and they were in this together.

So he smiled, and clutched Inca close to his side, smiling. "I am happy for you, my love. I know you will do just fine." They finished speaking with Jaga before the Grand Cleric bid them farewell.

The two left for their destination, both excited.

The spring was in a small village not too far from the northern outskirts of the city, situated at the foot of Mount Felis. They climbed off their mounts, both looking at the inn in anticipation.

The innkeeper, an old ocelot, had her staff take in their luggage and see to their Monteracs. She ushered them to a beautiful room at the end of a hall with a scenic view of the mountain on one side and of the city on the other.

Inca sighed as she took in the scenery, the moon high in the sky.

"This is perfect, Drogo!" she exclaimed, content after such a busy, emotional day. "However did you find this?" She relaxed as he came up behind her, wrapping her in his arms and kissing her neck.

"There are advantages to being a Cleric," he murmured, his cheek tickling her ear. "You learn to listen to all the conversations around you. I heard two older females talking about this place when I was out and about one day. They were going on and on, so I asked about it."

Drogo had reserved the inn in its entirety. Inca could not begin to imagine how much that had cost him, but when she had asked him about it, he had told her that she was worth it.

He turned her away from the window so that her rump was resting on the edge of it, giving her a quick kiss. "I came to have a look, and I just knew you'd love it. The view, the springs…" He put his face in her neck, and she felt his hot tongue slide against her heated flesh. "…the privacy..."

Inca was putty in his arms, and gloried in the shiver his skillful hands and mouth caused.

There was no need for words. The mates were on the same wavelength, as they had been from nearly the start of their acquaintance with one another.

All it took was a few caresses, and bits of clothing pulled down or moved aside, and they made love against the windowsill, the moonlight kissing their entwined bodies.

After, the two secured some towels, locked their room, and made their way down to the springs. They shed their towels quietly, neither feeling the need to speak.

The water was pristine, and as the two slipped in, both released sighs of bliss at the perfect temperature.

Inca basked in the heat of the water, gazing at Drogo from under her lashes. She could see him laying back, relaxing against the stone edge of the bath, his eyes closed.

Being as quiet as the water would allow, Inca edged over to her mate, wrapping her arms around his middle and kissing his neck. His chest rumbled as he half growled, half purred, his pleasure at her touch palpable.

His arms came up to caress her back, one of them cupping the back of her head as her mouth worked along his jawline. Her lips and tongue were glorious, leaving love bites down to his chest, where she promptly wrapped her mouth around a nipple, taking it from flat to a puckered bead instantly.

Drogo took a fistful of her hair. It was painful pleasure as he felt her small fangs nip his skin, followed by her tongue swiping after. He pulled her head up, growling as he plunged his tongue into her mouth.

His control was tested when he felt her hands caress him, moving ever lower as their mouths worked.

SEX SCENE

They would love each other many times that night, in the spring, in their room, taking short naps only to wake up to arousal again and again.

Sleep would finally come as the sun crested the horizon, intertwined and perfectly secure in the unbreakable bond they shared.


Back in Thundera, in a dilapidated shanty of a house in the peasant quarter, Tuco sat with his guests. They were speaking of secret, violent things, of a plan to bring someone harm. Planning had been careful, to observe the target to learn habits, favorite places.

He had seen the festivities, watched from the dark periphery, hidden from view. He had seen the prideful father, the complacent, utterly clueless mother, oblivious siblings. He had seen the crowd of friends, their cries of happiness a cacophony to his ears.

And then, he's seen her, the one who should be his, who was still his as far as he was concerned. She had worn an emerald gown that had complimented her golden coloring and shimmering green eyes perfectly.

He had wanted to break his concealment, grasp her in his arms, take her right there on the cold ground, and claim her before one and all. She belonged to him, and despite her delusions to the contrary, she would always belong to him.

But then he had also seen him, the lion…the nuisance, the obstacle blocking his and Inca's happiness together. He needed to be rid of him quickly, permanently. Tuco recognized that the sheer size of the giant cat was too much for him to handle on his own.

That was where his "guests" came into play. He entertained them as best he could, the lot of them lost in the throes of drink. It was a celebration of their agreement, of what he had paid them for.

He reclined in his chair, his mind traveling back to Mazatlàn, to his mistakes. If only he had marked Inca, he would not have had to endure all this trouble. There she had been, limp as a wet rag, and he had ran like a skittish fool before completing the deed!

And not only that, since she had not borne his mark, he had been told that what their loving had been rape! Her blithering snob of a father had spared no one's ears from hearing his account of what had happened to his oh-so-innocent daughter.

The girl had nearly fucked him not 24 hours prior, and he was accused of raping her?!

Tuco scoffed into his goblet, causing some of the contents to spill over. He took no notice, his mind lost in scorn and indignation. All of his problems would have been avoided had he just done what he'd set out to do in the first place.

Had he done, his father would not, upon hearing Horace's overly dramatic stories, have disowned and banished him, leaving him penniless and having to fall back on the family's trade to keep himself fed.

The Tlalocs had not personally sold their wares in generations, the clan having amassed enough wealth to pay others to produce and sell for them while taking in most of the profits.

It had only been recently that they had seen a lull in their livelihood and felt the need to add another powerful clan to theirs through mating to help uplift them.

It was supposed to have happened in their son's mating to a suitable female. But that obviously had not gone according to plan.

Now, Tuco had to lower himself to the rank of a common peddler. He'd even had to resort to thievery at times in order to survive!

He'd had to spend most of his coin to purchase whores for this lot, just to keep them entertained long enough to listen to him and his plans. He'd have to scrounge up enough to pay them later.

He remembered how he had been labeled a disgrace, a predator of females, and promptly run from their village. It had only been through the mercy of a trade caravan headed to Thundera that he had lived.

When he had run into Inca again, he had thought his luck changed.

But then he'd seen the mark, the taint of that lion on her body. Their scents were comingled, practically the same now. She would never be as she was before.

But she could still be his.

Soon…soon they would scourge the lion, who had dared to try and take what was his, from the world.

And Tuco would lay waste to Inca, possess her once more. This time he wouldn't stop until she belonged solely to him, carried his scent and his mark, his cubs.

And he would keep her close to him forever. Then she would love him…eventually.

He felt himself stretching his breeches at the thought. It was too much; it had been so long. He needed release so badly. Unfortunately his hand would have to tie him over until he could have Inca.

He rose from his seat, making his way through the revelry to his tiny room to the back of the house. Some of the couples had already began copulating, having no care for their surroundings.

Tuco paid them no mind, closing the door quietly behind him.

The full darkness was only illuminated by the full moon, her light shining into the tiny window on the wall. At least the true filth of this place was hidden without the sun. How low he had fallen!

Lying on his shoddily-constructed bed with its pathetic pile of dirty rags for bedding, the jaguar eased his pants downward, just enough for the task. As he seized his throbbing flesh in his hand, he let his mind wander, the sounds of lust from several couples filtering in from the outer room.

He could not wait to taste of her again. She had been so good, so tight, so arousing, as she had writhed beneath him, her coy attempts to dissuade him making her all the more alluring.

The heady sensation of conquering her virgin flesh had nearly finished him before he'd started.

True, Inca had resisted at first, as most upstanding females would, but soon she had relaxed and let him finish. And he had never come so hard in his life, the memory of it stirring his groin every time. It had been heaven to have her.

And he would have her again, very soon.

She would lie beneath him every night, taking the thrust of his hips, the spray of his seed. She would bear him strong sons, beautiful daughters. She would be there, by his side, always.

That thought was enough to send him over, and as the viscous heat of his semen shot forth, oozing over his hand, he flung his head back against the thin pillow with a grunt, jerking with his final strokes.

It was as his heart and breathing was returning to normal that his thoughts moved from pleasure and possession to revenge.

Tuco swore the lion would pay for his embarrassment that day in the market, for interrupting his moment with Inca. The fool had cheated him out of his second chance with her, and now that he had help, Tuco was assured there would be no disturbances the next time he was alone with her.

He lay back, gazing up at the ceiling, his now flaccid length lying forgotten against his stomach. The smile on his face accompanied the dark delusions dancing in his mind, painting a picture of his future life with Inca.

Yes, I will have you again, he thought, his smile taking a twisted edge, in the moonlit darkness.


2 weeks later

Drogo put the finishing touches on the scroll he had worked on for the last few hours detailing the conclusion of a Clerical mission. He was eager to finish the report, as the evening was approaching.

He could not wait to go home to see his Inca. He felt the familiar jolt of excitement at the thought of her. It wasn't just his love of her that made him eager.

He had caught the subtle changes in her scent, the slight wistful lilt in her voice that signaled her oncoming heat cycle. She'd also been more affectionate in public, not something she was usually comfortable doing.

He was so excited thinking of the cubs they would make together.

So his movements were hurried as he set all the scrolls back in order and locked the room behind him. He left the Hall, walking past the palace and the formation of Soldiers that was situated there.

Hadrian was putting them through their paces, practicing the drills and techniques all Soldiers were supposed to know. When he saw his brother passing, he called everyone to a halt, allowing the grateful troops to rest in place.

"Drogo!" he called, jogging over to the Cleric. He smiled as he caught up to him and saw the grin Drogo was sporting. "Well, aren't we chipper this evening? Where are we headed, as if I didn't know?"

His brother rolled his eyes. "Which leads to the question of why you would ask then," he said laconically. "I am headed home, of course. If my nose isn't fooling me, Inca should be in season soon, and I definitely plan on being there to offer my services."

Hadrian's eyes widened a touch. "Really? Well I guess you'd better get to it. Man, there's nothing like it. My Tessa…wow. It's like you can't stop, like you have unlimited stamina. It's amazing." The captain's face took on a dreamy expression.

"Well, her pregnancy's a good sign of that," Drogo said sarcastically. "I can't wait to see what our cubs will look like. I imagine spotted with a dark mane or dark and spotted, maybe even black like her mother…so many possibilities!"

Hadrian patted his brother's shoulder. "That there is, Brother. Maybe they won't have manes at all. Who knows? I wish you luck in your breeding endeavors. I know things will go fine. Tell me about it later," he joked, smiling mischievously. "And I want details!"

Drogo huffed at his nosy sibling. "On that note, I'll go. See you later." He continued on his way, shaking his head. It was great to see his older brother back to his facetious ways. It was the best sign that he was happy with his life back in Thundera.

Drogo was happy to have at least one member of his family still near. The rest of the clan had journeyed back home after the mate selection for Lion-O had completed.

Their parents had died long ago, while he and Hadrian had still been very young, having succumbed to a debilitating disease. They had had the siblings taken from the home so they would not fall victim to the same fate.

Drogo hardly remembered his parents, but he missed them all the same.

Despite the Blackmanes' candidate not being selected, it was expected that they would return to see the prince mated as well. It was a gesture of respect.

He was sure Eva would be thrilled with that, the thought making him smile. That would bring her down from her high horse. She deserved no less for being an absolute snob.

He turned down the alleyway he usually took as a shortcut on his way home. The evening was panning out to be mild with a slight, cool breeze. Just perfect for making babies with my hot mate, Drogo thought to himself.

It was because of his mind was focused elsewhere that he didn't sense the coming attack. He had just noticed the scent of another cat when a large body slammed into him from the side, driving him into a wall.

Momentarily stunned, Drogo looked up in time to receive a downward punch to his face, bloodying his lip. Realizing he was under attack, the lion gave his head a shake, stood tall, and prepared to square off with his assailant.

He gave the leopard, a mercenary judging by his appearance, an assessing look. The male was large, nearly as large as Drogo, and wore a uniformly dingy set of brown leather clothing. He didn't seem to be armed until he pulled a short sword from a hidden scabbard.

This was serious.

He realized two things: from the sounds he heard over his shoulder, his attacker had backup, more backup than perhaps even Drogo could handle, though he could hold his own in a fight.

He also saw that this group was not from Thundera. All the citizens knew the penalty for attacking a Cleric, protectors royally appointed.

These thugs obviously didn't care.

He wanted to take an actual look at his attackers, but dare not take his eyes off Shortsword. He seemed nervous, and he knew nervous sword wielders were often the most dangerous.

Sure enough, Shortsword lunged forward, swinging wildly. Drogo was able to both evade his attack and put himself in a position to have all of his opponents at his front.

There were five attackers in all; Shortsword, two big, burly panthers who looked to be twins, a mangy-looking lion, and a small but quick bobcat. All of them brandished weapons mostly consisting of swords and daggers. One even had a club.

Drogo backed up a distance to where the alley opened up a bit, putting a wall to his back. It would not do to be surrounded by this bunch. Shortsword seemed to be the leader, waving them to spread out to try and find an opening for attack.

The Cleric knew he would have to be smart about defending himself, that the best way to come out of this alive was to disarm and disable them as quickly as possible.

He resolved that, if necessary, he would kill. Their intent was obvious, and he reached deep to find his own. Drogo didn't take killing lightly, but the weapons they carried were vicious.

His thoughts filled with Inca, with their possible future, and a growl trickled from him. He swore that all they built would not be ruined by this lot. He would fight for his life, to be here for her.

So he cleared his mind, just as Jaga had taught him, and waited for them to make the first move. For a moment, stillness took hold of all present, each watching and waiting. The tension was thick, tactile, and electrified by the tempers of the combatants.

Finally, Shortsword made a go, thrusting his weapon forward. Drogo stepped swiftly to his attacker's side, bringing one hand downward to grasp the sword arm and push his back with the other, using his opponent's forward momentum to drive him into the wall behind them.

Shortsword hit with a loud thud, and rolled over on his back, grasping his head in pain. Drogo raised his foot high, aiming to bring it down to crush the other cat's throat. But before he could do so he was tackled by Bobcat, who had quickly run at him upon seeing his leader fall.

The two tussled on the ground, snarls and growls loud. The smaller assailant struck the Cleric on the ribs, the slight pain angering him all the more. Bobcat was small, but quick, and it was all Drogo could do to wrestle the club from his claws before kicking him back.

More attacks quickly followed, and when a dagger slashed his arm, then nicked his cheek, Drogo was able to finally subdue one of them, one of the panthers, snapping the cat's neck as he threw himself at him.

His twin snarled in anger. Apparently they had been brothers.

He grudgingly admitted, noting the blood dripping down his face and arm, that he needed help. Perhaps his brother was still out with his Soldiers. Or maybe some Clerics would be nearby?

Drogo had no idea, but he would try. Inca's face flashed through his mind as his cuts began to smart. Brother, please hear me.

It was as the remnants of the group rushed him again, their eyes lit with bloodlust, that Drogo threw back his head and roared.


Hadrian helped one of his Soldiers to properly polish his spear. Some of them were incredibly green, but it made his heart glad to guide them. Many of them would go on to be powerful warriors, fit and strong of heart as well as body.

But the harsh reality of it was that many of them would die as well, and he did his best to see to it that if the unthinkable did occur, it would not be because of the quality of his training.

Each recruit was put through rigorous instruction, and he refused to recommend any for advancement if they did not truly deserve it.

Everyone knew of this, that Hadrian's goals for them were high, but attainable by anyone with the will to achieve it. He had a history of exemplary service and honor.

It was why he was so respected. It was why he had been reinstated by the king himself.

"Okay," Hadrian said, his voice projecting as he addressed his charges. "Make sure that you do not apply too much oil on the metal, or it can cause—" He stopped abruptly, his ears perking. That sound…

The Soldiers watched, confused, as their Captain walked forward a few steps, oblivious to them. He cocked his head slightly, then tore off at a dead run. They looked at each other in bewilderment.

Where could he be heading off to so quickly?


Inca tended the garden outside her and Drogo's home. She had always loved the little vegetable garden she and her father had tended to growing up. Now she could grow her own. It kept her busy, but she was thankful for the distraction.

She felt the first stirrings of her heat cycle coming on. Having gone through many before, she knew the symptoms, and knew what to do in the meantime. Throughout her relationship with Drogo, she had always abstained when a cycle would hit her, to Drogo's great chagrin.

They had always found other ways to occupy themselves, until the cycle dictated they be apart for a bit. Inca had not wanted any pregnancies while she was tasked with protecting Leia and her family.

She also, at the time, had not been completely sure about her ability to trust Drogo, and had had no intention of cubbing for a male she was hesitant about.

But in Drogo she had truly found what she had not even known she had wanted. God knew he was strong. But in addition to all that, he was honest, patient, kind, and he listened. He listened to her and made her feel like she was precious to him.

He was assertive too. Inca knew very early on that she could never be with someone she could dominate. Drogo knew when to let her have her way, but he also knew when to take control and be the big, strong male he needed to be, who she needed him to be.

She loved him so much. And when he got home, she'd…wait.

As a matter of fact, it was a little late. Shouldn't he be here by now? Inca set her tools aside and got to her feet, her face darkened by concern. The evening was going to dim into night soon, and he said he would be here before then.

Drogo was never late.

She went into the house, washing her hands and sitting down for a moment, trying to stay calm. But her gut was screaming at her that something was wrong. She had learned to trust her little intuitions, and she would not ignore them now.

Her gaze fell on the mantle, and just before she left the house, she grabbed the object of her attentions. Then she secured the door and went to look for her mate.


Drogo dragged his claws across Shortsword's face. His weapon was long lost in a drain during his struggles with the Cleric, and now the two grappled hand to hand.

Two more of the thug's comrades were down, one, Mangy, with his own sword shoved through his heart, the other, Bobcat, with his leg broken, having landed wrongly when he was thrown.

There were only two now, Shortsword and the remaining panther twin. Drogo prided himself on whittling the group down, but he was beginning to fatigue. His wounds were still bleeding, and he knew one of his ribs was either bruised or broken.

He had hoped his call would have brought reinforcements, but his heart had dropped when no one had come running. It would appear he was on his own.

His opponent was also tired, but he had caught a second wind while the panther twin had tussled with Drogo first. Now the Cleric was at a distinct disadvantage.

This was proven when the leopard made an elaborate motion that caught an exhausted Drogo off guard, and the lion found himself in a choke hold. He ceased struggling when he felt a blade at his back. He braced himself, fully expecting to feel the bite of steel in his flesh.

No, Drogo thought desperately. I can't die, not now…Inca.

"The boss will want to deal with you himself," the criminal said, his breath a sickly combination with the stink of the street. His cohort chuckled. Drogo wondered just who this "boss" was.

All three cats froze when they heard an accented male voice interject from a location near where Drogo had entered.

"Not so tough now, are you?" Drogo immediately perked up, despite his fatigue. He knew that voice. It was that rapacious bastard from before. He turned his eyes as far as he could in his captor's hold, pinning the approaching jaguar with a glare.

Tuco moved toward them, a confidence in his stride that gave Drogo all the information he needed.

"So it was you," Drogo growled. "You couldn't best me in battle, so you went the coward's path and hired mercenaries." He laughed low and soft. "No wonder Inca didn't want you."

"No! It is because you are in the way!" Tuco screamed, his face contorting in anger. "Once you are gone, things will change." He calmed himself, walking forward. "And then, I will have Inca all to myself."

He pulled a knife from out of nowhere, and it glinted in the torch lights. "I can't wait to remove your foul scent, your touch from her. Your filthy stench has corrupted my Inca! But all shall be made right." He sidled up to Drogo, held securely in the arms of his henchman.

He considered the lion a moment, his face thoughtful. "Where to cut first, I wonder." He gestured with his knife, hoping to scare Drogo. But when he looked back to the lion's face, he found icy green eyes focused purely on his face.

"You really think that you could ever make her forget me?" Drogo said with a smirk, unafraid of the jaguar and his little knife.

"Even if you could kill me, I have staked my claim on her repeatedly, thoroughly, on both her mind and her body. She will forever be mine, even if I leave this world, whereas you hadn't even crossed her mind until that day in the market."

He was glad she wasn't there to hear this conversation. Drogo knew she wouldn't be amused by his possessive talk. But most of it was true after all.

"It is like I said before," Tuco said, trying to appear calm when the growl beneath his voice showed otherwise. "I was her first."

"Yes," Drogo replied smoothly. "You were. But I'm sure Inca was glad to have traded her first for her best." `

Moreover, he really wondered at Tuco's sanity, with his insolence at having raped Inca. How could he possibly think she'd want to be with him after the pain he'd caused her?

Hadrian arrived just as the spotted stranger was talking about how he would kill his brother. He kept gesturing with the knife, and Hadrian felt his anger beginning to seethe within him.

"I think I will cut you here," Tuco purred, pointing to Drogo's abdomen. He was very pleased with himself. "I'll let your guts spill out, watch you die slowly. I will bring Inca here and show her what I've done. Then, she will be mine again."

Drogo kept quiet, his mouth in a grim line. He had scented his brother when he had come, carefully keeping his face blank so as not to alert Tuco. He was filled with relief, having thought that no one would come.

The jaguar's brown eyes lit with some sick, new idea. When his gaze moved to his groin, Drogo felt his heart pound. Okay, Brother, he thought, alarmed. Time to make your move.

"Or maybe this is the place you need a trim most?" Tuco said with a grin. "You seem to be most confident, and I think I know how to change that. What interest will Inca have in you if you're not even male anymore?"

"Now, now," Hadrian finally interjected, surprising Drogo's captors. "I'm sure there's no need to turn my brother into a eunuch." The two thugs were momentarily distracted, giving Drogo the opportunity he was waiting for.

He kicked Tuco in the stomach, making him double over, coughing harshly. He then thrust his head back sharply, catching Shortsword in the nose. This enabled him to escape the now slack choke hold.

Distancing himself from his attackers, Drogo moved to his brother's side, the two squaring off with the remaining two thugs. Tuco had backed off to the side, glaring at them.

"Stop them!" he yelled to his underlings. "Stop them, or you will not be paid!" He backed further up, moving out of the range.

Shortsword shook off the blow to his nose. He decided money was more prudent than common sense and dared to square off against the two lions. He waved the panther forward, and the two advanced.

Hadrian came to the conclusion that the thugs were more brawn than brains. This shouldn't be too much trouble.

That was proven within a matter of minutes when one attacker, the panther, was knocked unconscious, and Shortsword was being cornered by the two lions.

"You could give up, you know," Hadrian said, trying to negotiate. "My men will take you to the dungeon to await trial. You don't have to die."

The leopard spat at their feet. "Please. I already know I'm as good as dead for attacking one of this city's precious Clerics. What do I really have to gain in letting myself be taken?"

Neither lion noticed Tuco sneaking up on silent feet, his attention on Drogo. This was his chance. He could finally remove this obstacle from his path to Inca, forever. He focused in on Drogo's back.

He could penetrate his heart from behind. Even if he failed to do that, he could still puncture a lung, and that was hard to heal. Tuco could not keep a smile from his face at the thought of his greatest enemy drowning in his own blood.

He finally made it close enough. Raising his knife, Tuco sneered triumphantly at his victim as he tensed to bring the sword down…

…and started in shock when he felt first the pain then moisture blooming from his back. "Wha…" he mumbled, shuffling his feet to turn himself around.

There, staring at the blood on her claws, was Inca.

She watched as the liquid trickled down her fingers, dripping to the ground like red rain. She hadn't intended to stab Tuco, hadn't intended to harm anyone, really. She had just wanted to find out where Drogo was, make sure he wasn't in any danger.

But when she had heard the commotion, had entered the area to see the fighting that had occurred she had been shocked and appalled…until she had seen Tuco threatening Drogo.

He'd nearly caught Drogo by surprise. She had seen the knife, had known what Tuco had intended, and she had acted. All she had known was that she would not allow Tuco, her rapist, to take the only love she had ever known.

So she had pulled from her pouch the object she had grabbed on a whim as she had left their home, the obsidian dagger. Her mind had gone blank, and she hadn't even registered moving before she was standing at Tuco's back.

She was without thought as her hands had driven the razor sharp, black dagger through Tuco's flesh. It had slid home like cutting through butter. She was blank, until the wetness of blood had poured across her hands.

Now she stood, looking at it on her fingers, feeling suddenly unclean. She felt her bowels bubble in protest. She had been trained, had been a warrior for years now. But never had she killed, or even attempted to do so.

She'd just never had reason to. All of the skirmishes she had experienced had been minor, easily resolved. But this…

This was someone she knew, someone in whose life she had been involved. And she had killed him. His blood was so sticky on her hands.

She turned away just in time to lose her stomach contents on the dirty ground in that alley, heaving painfully.

Tuco had fallen, the shock of seeing that Inca had been his attacker, his killer, rendering him speechless. He took in his surroundings, resigned that this would be the last view he had of this world.

He saw the dark lion kneeling next to her, next to his Inca, comforting her as she finished being sick. Inca… He must have vocalized his thoughts, because both she and the interloper suddenly looked at him.

"How could you do this?" he thought he asked. Did he? His voice sounded muffled, far away, so he was uncertain. "You belong to me!"

Inca wiped her face, her expression incredulous. She could not believe he was still talking such nonsense. She didn't want the last words they said to each other to be ones of anger, so she let it go.

"I'm sorry, Tuco," she said gently, placing her hand into Drogo's so he could help her up. "But I could not let you hurt him."

"Him?!" Tuco bellowed despite his mortal injury. "Why do you worry for him, when you are mine? I am the one you should concern yourself with. I am the one who has loved you for years!"

"Yes, ever since you raped me?" she replied. Her hands had started shaking. She had not wanted to relive that day. "That was the worst day of my life, Tuco. If you had loved me, why did you violate my trust, my body, like you did?"

Tuco's face displayed no concern whatsoever for Inca's trauma. "You wanted me," he seethed angry at her betrayal. "You met with me at times far later than was prudent. You came to me smelling good, looking good. You knew what would happen, yet you came anyway. You wanted it!"

Inca gasped as Drogo stepped forward, kneeling next to the seemingly doomed jaguar. "Watch yourself, fool," he growled, his eyes hard as stone. "I will tolerate no more of your disrespect of her."

Tuco's mouth tilted up into a smirk, and he scoffed, undeterred by the Cleric's warning. "Please. Why so concerned?" His voice sounded quieter, weaker, but steady. "You should have seen her that night, writhing under my fingers, her sweet voice moaning into the night."

Drogo snarled, grasping Tuco's throat in his claws. "Shut your mouth! I will not warn you again." Inca grasped his shoulder, but he ignored her. He'd had enough.

Tuco kept on, uncaring or perhaps not realizing he was damning himself. "She was soaking wet, ready and willing. That is the one you are so concerned about." He stared at Drogo. "Poor thing, to think the one you have mated was nothing but a common who—"

His sentence ended abruptly with a sound between a wretch and a cough. Then all was silent.

It had been easy to end the disgusting ramblings, all too easy to sink his claws into the throat and pull, tearing the impudent cat's voice box from the column of his neck. Drogo gazed at his stained hand, almost in dream-like daze.

It was so peaceful now. The insulting, fleshy structure was still quivering in his bloody claws when he threw it roughly to the side. He turned to Inca, who was shocked, but her expression was more of concerned for him.

Cupping his face in her hands, she searched his eyes. "Are you alright?" When he did not answer immediately, she drew him closer, rubbing her cheek along his. "Drogo?"

She felt relieved when his arm curved around her back. "I'm fine, love," he answered. "I couldn't let him continue. I am sorry."

"Why are you apologizing? You are not to blame for his words or the actions you took in response to them. I would do the same thing were I in your place." She kissed his cheek, and turned him from Tuco's body; neither wanted to look at him again.

Inca quietly spoke to Hadrian. "Could you take care of this please?" she asked, indicating the dead cat.

Hadrian nodded. "I will have my Soldiers remove him. I will also give my superiors a full report." He watched his little brother, hoping that he was well. Hadrian had never seen Drogo kill before.

"Brother, will you be alright?" he asked, his face drawn with worry. Drogo began walking with Inca, both of them heading home. His hand clung to hers like a life line.

"I will be fine," was all he said. The pair left, eager to be away from the scene.

Hadrian looked at Tuco's corpse. Good riddance, he thought. It had taken all he had not to kill the fool himself, but he was happy it was over. Truth be told, this was probably the best solution.

Tuco had been a very troubled individual.

Hadrian bent down and closed the dead cat's glazed eyes. Inca's dagger lay near, still stained with blood. He would return it to her soon, after it was thoroughly cleansed.

He checked the surrounding area before going to summon help to remove the body. It was pretty late now. He expected no citizens would encounter the body at this time of night.


Back home, Inca ushered Drogo in, sitting him down at their kitchen table. She brought a bowl of hot water and soap, and proceeded to wash his hands, scrubbing briskly.

She washed her own as well, and when their claws were clean, she emptied the bowl and dried them with towels. She then decided to prepare him some tea, but thought better of it, selecting hard ale to help him relax.

Killing tended to keep the adrenaline up, and Inca focused on making him relax. His breathing had calmed down, and he accepted his drink gratefully. They sat in companionable silence for a bit before Drogo broke the silence.

"I am sorry, Inca," he said again, his voice quiet. When she made to speak, he stopped her. "I know that he was the first male you ever had feelings for, and I had hoped it wouldn't come to this. He was someone you knew."

She nodded in agreement, though she really had no regrets. "I am glad that he is gone, Drogo. I suppose I should feel bad, but I simply do not. His comments aside, he was louco. He would have been a threat to us for as long as he lived." She shrugged. "And you did spare him once. It is not your fault he was too much of a fool to stop."

She placed her hand atop his. "You did the right thing, Toteotzin." Her face darkened, anger finally surfacing. "I cannot believe he tried to take you from me, as if that would make me want to be with him. If anything, I would have killed him myself!"

Drogo sipped his drink, feeling calmer with each sip. "He would never have been a match against me in single combat. It was such an obvious tactic, to gather reinforcements. I should have seen it coming."

Inca continued to scowl indignantly.

"It's okay, mate," he said, smiling. "It is over, and we no longer have to worry about him. Now, there is only us." He leaned forward, kissing her softly.

When he pulled back, Inca had a mischievous little smile on her face. At Drogo's inquiring look, she explained. "To be honest with you, it made me feel…happy to see you defend my honor like that. Until now, I have always had to defend myself."

With solitude and the company of her mate, Inca was able to put the events of tonight in better perspective. She was free, free of Tuco and his shadow over her life. She could be with her mate, love him, without looking over her shoulder in fear.

It was a very good feeling, and with it came relief, and excitement.

She stood, walking to the kitchen doorway. Tuco would not haunt them anymore. She glanced at him over her shoulder. "If I am not mistaken, I believe we had business to attend to tonight?"

Drogo's mind was instantly taken back to that fateful day, when he had met himself a smart, sultry, spotted female that had changed his life forever.

That look had drawn him in then, and it had no less effect now. Rising from his chair to follow his giggling mate, Drogo smiled to himself. He wouldn't have it any other way.


Epilogue

Approx. 7 months later…

Drogo cradled his little girl to his chest. Inca had come through the first birth with flying colors, her own will and the Clerical training she had undergone aiding her. Even now, as she was bringing their second cub into the world, she was breathing and pushing through it as though the pain were minor.

He was glad. The nervousness that had gripped him when she had gone into labor was now alleviated. She would be fine, and judging by the strong cries from his firstborn, so would the cubs.

He looked down at the little one in his arms. She was the spitting image of Inca with her spotted markings and fierce, glimmering green eyes. But his parentage was clear in the chocolate brown of her wispy hair.

She grasped his finger in a tight grip as she sniffled. He had managed to calm her down some, but he knew she would be ready to nurse soon.

He walked back toward the bed, where Inca was working hard, breathing in through her nose, and out through her mouth, taking directions from Ona perfectly. The healer had come as soon as she'd heard, the couple having decided to birth their cubs in their home.

Her mother stood by her bedside, wiping sweat from her head as needed and whispering supportive words to her daughter. Leia was also in the room, keeping the hot water and towels stocked.

Inca's family had come from their rooms at an inn for the event. They had traveled up from Mazatlàn a couple weeks prior to be here for the birth. Leia had left the castle to spend the night with her friend, after hearing that she had begun labor hours ago.

The babies were actually arriving a little earlier than they had originally been told. Ona informed them that with twins, it often happened that way.

Hadrian and Tessa had come as well, providing moral support for Drogo and Inca as well as advice for the birthing. The two had a cub of their own, a male named Caspian. He was now 4 months of age, and was getting bigger every day.

The house was crowded. Most of the guests were in the living room, with only Leia, Tessa, and Erzine allowed in the birthing room aside from Drogo, Ona, and of course Inca.

Drogo wondered how quickly the little ones would grow. Would he even have time to enjoy them? His Clerical duties were increasing, as security precautions were being upgraded in preparation for the possible threats scouts had been reporting.

Inca would be able to stay home for a time to care for the cubs. But eventually, she too would be called back to duty. Drogo had appealed to Jaga to keep her with the forces home in Thundera, asking that the Grand Cleric keep that a secret. He didn't want Inca to think he was coddling her.

Now that they had cubs to raise he wanted to at least have their mother at hand should they need help. Leia, the cubs' Godmother, had offered to keep the cubs with her when the Order called their parents away. Inca had been most grateful.

Ona's voice increased in volume, stating that she could see the next cub emerging. Drogo handed off his girl to her grandmother and went to Inca's bedside.

"Ah, Toteotzin. Done enjoying the fruits of my labor?" she panted, smirking briefly. He smiled. At least she had still maintained her feisty attitude. That was a relief.

"Okay, Inca," Ona said calmly. "I think one more great push should do it."

The mother grabbed Drogo's hand, gave one last heave, and out came the second cub.

"You've done it!" Ona crowed, lifting the squalling bundle up to show its parents. "You have a male!" She smiled widely at the couple and handed him off to Tessa to be cleaned.

Drogo beamed down at his mate. "You did it, my love. You did it." He stroked her sweaty forehead before kissing it softly. "I'm so proud of you."

Inca relaxed as Ona helped clean her up. "I'm just glad they're healthy and I don't have to feel them kicking me anymore." She sighed, relieved.

Ona made sure the cub was well cleaned and healthy. Once Inca had had a drink of water, she held out her hands. "Give them to me," she said with a smile.

She had hardly gotten enough time to admire her daughter before her son had begun his entrance into the world. Now she had time to look at both babies.

The two were brought over, and she took them into each arm, inspecting them and taking in their scent.

The girl was already rooting, and was suckling while the boy looked at his mother's face. He had the appearance of being all black, but his little spots could be seen, just a shade or two lighter than his base color. Inca smiled. Her mother's genes were strong.

But so were Drogo's she mused, gazing into the smoky green orbs of his eyes. These were unmistakably their cubs. She guided the male's mouth to a breast, and relaxed as her cubs fed.

Drogo looked on, amazed at how gentle Inca was. Oh he knew she would be a good mother, but her fiery nature was an ever present part of her. It was part of what had drawn him to her in the first place.

But with her babies at her breasts, she was gentle and patient. It was amazing how parenthood could change someone. Even now, he was determined that no one and nothing would harm them.

"So," he began. "What shall we call them?" He caressed his little girl's head. She hardly noticed. She was so focused on feeding, right along with her brother.

Inca considered the babies a moment before answering. "I think for my cihuanton…" She thought a few moments longer. "Tivoli." She nodded, more to herself than anyone. "Yes, she is Tivoli." Drogo agreed. It was a good name.

"And you, what would you like your son to be called?" she asked him. Drogo smiled. "I think Tobias is a nice, strong male name. It was my grandfather's name, and he was a tough, honorable cat. I think Tobias will be proud when I tell him of his namesake."

"Yes," Inca agreed. "I like that name."

The babies completed feeding shortly after. Ona took the sleeping cubs, giving their mother a break. They were laid in a bassinet not far from her.

Drogo ran a hand across Inca's slightly damp forehead. "Are you alright, mate?" he asked, still concerned for her. He knew she was exhausted.

But she smiled at him, meeting his eyes before closing hers. "I am just fine, only tired." A loud growl broke the silence of the room. She opened her eyes again, blushing slightly. "And hungry."

Drogo laughed. "I'll fetch you something." As he went to exit, heading for the pantry, Inca called out to him. "The meat and the marmalade please," she said. It had been something random that she had craved during her pregnancy. Apparently it had left a lasting impression on her.

Drogo nodded with a smile and left on his mission. He passed their mostly patiently-waiting family members, and told them they could enter. When he returned, everyone was in the room, cooing over the newest additions.

Inca's mother was talking softly to her, seeing to her daughter's well being and giving advice. Inca soaked it all in, grateful to have loved ones around to help. Her father was admiring the sleeping cubs along with Maya, Chupa, and Nana, whose daughter was asleep in the living room.

Drogo looked on, not wanting to interrupt. His mind wandered, imagining his babies and how they would look in a year, 5 years, 10 years. Would his son take after him in size and manner? Would his daughter be tall, beautiful? Would he have to kill someone over her?

He smiled at the thought just in time for Hadrian to place a hand on his shoulder. "You did well, Brother," he said. "Congratulations."

Hadrian grinned back at him. "I really did nothing today. Inca did all the work." He glanced at his mate, seeing her mother assisting her in eating the meat he'd brought her. Leia stood by, a grin on her face. "She was magnificent."

"Yes, they work hard to bring our babies into the world," Hadrian agreed. "It's a wonder they need us at all. But there is no place I would rather have been than seeing my cub born. There's no experience like it. I can't wait to introduce Caspian to his cousins."

"They will be good friends, I'm sure." The two lions looked when they heard Jaga's voice. The Grand Cleric entered, approaching Drogo. "Congratulations, my son," he said, shaking Drogo's hand.

"Thank you, Mentor," Drogo answered. He appreciated that the Grand Cleric had made a point to be present despite his busy schedule. "Thank you for being here."

"Of course," Jaga nodded before moving to give his regards to Inca.

Tobias and Tivoli surprisingly slept through the noise of all the family and friends who came to pay their respects.

Later, when all was quiet again, Drogo held his mate close after she had fed the cubs again. He mused on how fortunate he was.

He was mate to a beautiful, feisty jaguaress who had brightened his dismal, solitary existence into a fulfilling life. And now, he had two testaments to the love they had for each other.

I am so blessed, he thought to himself, smiling against Inca's hair. She was his rib, his completion, and he could not believe he had found her.

She snuggled closer to him with a contented sigh. He kissed her hair and moved his mouth to her ear.

"I love you, my Inca," he whispered, closing his eyes as sleep finally took him. Unbeknownst to him, his mate's mouth tilted up at his words.

For the first time in her life, Inca was content. She had known he was special from the very moment she had encountered him deep in thought in the palace that momentous day.

Something about him had just drawn her in, and she had finally gone with what her gut, and loins at the time, had told her.

It was the best decision she had made all her life. The rest was history.

She knew now that all would be well. Whatever trials would come, whatever life threw at her, at them, it would be fine. He would protect her, and their cubs, ferociously and with his life if need be.

Because as long as she was within Drogo's arms, protected and loved, she would be alright.

"I love you too, Drogo," she whispered. "Always."


Yep, I'm a sucker for happy endings. Thanks for reading! *^-^*