We all followed his exit with our eyes, hearing the thick metal door slam shut behind him. I looked up at the corner of my cage and waved at the camera being trained on me. It moved slightly, Doc was letting me know he was watching. The pervert. I turned back to Yasmine who was already growling at the three.
I look across the hall and got a good long look at them. The one closest to me was cute, he looked at me and a shy smile came to his face. I take that back, he was adorable! His eyes were deep sea blue, his hair was a toasted brown, he looked muscular but soft, baby fat, I realized. Yasmine was right, they were young. The guy next to him was pretty much the same age, he kept glancing from Yasmine to me, looking a little bit scared. Poor baby. His hair was lighter than the first one, his eyes widened when he saw me staring at him. I looked at the third guy, and my interest heightened. He was older, nothing but solid muscle, completely blond, harsh lines made up his face and I could tell that he definitely had experience. Yasmine was growling mainly at him. I don't blame her, I feel threatened too. I self-consciously touched the scars on my face, then crawled to the farthest corner. I don't feel up to this, suddenly. I curled into a fetal position and hugged myself.
The big door opened and the smell of raw meat engulfed the room, I stayed where I was. Emily was the keepers' name, sweet little red head going thru her residency here before she became a vet. I heard her go to the big guy's cage and slide him the meat on the metal tray, same with Yasmine and the other two. I heard her pause when she saw me.
"You ok, girl? You feel sick?"
"Go away, Emily."
I heard her sigh and slide the tray into my cage as well. She's a soft touch, she's going to be a fine vet. I heard the door close behind her. I heard the soft squelching sounds of the others eating. I still didn't move.
"Eat, you will need your strength." I heard a deep voice say to me. I looked up at the camera, which was still pointed at me. I got angry all of a sudden, I reached over and grabbed the tray and flung it at the little plastic thing and it broke and hung from the now useless wires. Cubes of meat littered the floor of my cage. Yasmine tisked at me.
"The Doctor will not be happy with you."
"He knows where he can shove it."
"Yes, between your lovely long legs, sweet."
I glared at her and she glared back.
"Stick to your own kind." She hissed.
"I would if you'd stop killing them." I heard the two young ones gulp, the older one chuckled.
"Feisty little wench, aren't you?" He said to me.
I growled at him and he chuckled again. He took a good look at my face and his smile faded. A hard look came over his eyes.
"When did you get turned?" His rumbling voice growled softly.
"Four months ago, by Little Miss Hissy Fit over there." He looked at her and looked about ready to kill her like she looked at him. I groaned and returned to my fetal position in the corner and fell asleep.
When I woke in the morning, everyone else was awake. I suspected that they didn't sleep. Doc came around and examined me thru the chain link fence and bars that separated us. He wrote something down on his little clipboard, mumbling something about extra protein in the next feeding.
I stood and stretched, eyeing him as he paused to look at me. I heard the older male growl. The tunnel back to the main enclosure was open and I shot into it, reaching the other side before Doc had time to react. I was pacing the enclosure when Doc came around the corner and tapped the metal bars to get my attention.
"You're going with me to a lecture at the University of Colorado in Denver. Are you going to behave for me?"
I slinked over to him and stared into his eyes.
"What's in it for me?"
"You get to get out of the Institution for a week. If you're really good, then you don't have to be in a cage the entire time."
"Sure, it's not like I have something important to do."
"We leave the day after tomorrow."
Unlike others in the scientific community, Doc knows that we talk, that we understand. That none of our intelligence leaves when we become these hybrids of human and cougar. True, I look more animal than human because of the thick mane that used to be my stringy hair, the wicked natural nails that can slice open flesh like it was an orange, the heightened sense of smell and hearing, oh and don't forget the tail that's an extension of my natural tail bone and my elongated 'canine' teeth. I looked like an overgrown house cat, green eyes and all.
He nodded and left me to my musings, I leaned against the bars and pondered what it would be like to be out of this hell hole after four months of imprisonment.
Yasmine was there in the other part of the cage. I smiled at her and laid back, leaning against the cement wall.
"Well, Yas, you'll be all by your lonesome in about two days. You'll have those males all to yourself. You are SO lucky." I intoned in a saccharine voice.
"He just wants to use you for your body. He has no interest in you."
I rolled my eyes at her and shook my head. Sometimes I think she's not the brightest crayon in the box. I eye the keeper rolling up the aisle and feeding the males. I can see them trough the tunnel. Eating like it's the best thing in the world. Except the older one, he just sniffs it and sneers at it like it offended him. He looks up and stares at me. I don't look away, his deep blue eyes are hypnotic. I suddenly imagine him over me, his weight an assurance that every thing is real. Kissing my neck, making me moan, enjoying his touch. We have a connection. I blink at him, braking the image from my mind, I turn away from him. I hear him growl and it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, I could almost hear the sexual charge in it.
"Two days, just two days." I mutter to myself.
I managed to stay calm during those two days. I ignored the males, I ignored Yasmine's inane chatter. So I did pretty good. Doc came with the moving team, I groaned when I saw the tranq gun. Please God, don't let them tranq me. It makes me feel like shit when I wake up. I cringe and back up when I see them take aim. Oh, this isn't going to be pretty.
"MROUW!!" I screech when they get me in the shoulder. I hear a loud roar as I sink to the ground, I wedged myself pretty good into the corner. I see the Big guy pace angrily as they enter my cage, right before I pass out.
I wake up in a transport cage, feeling the road beneath the trailer move. We're already on the highway, and if I know Doc, he's up in the cab, with a camera on me to make sure I'm ok.
I sit up and look over at the food and water trays. I'm not even going to attempt it while I'm still groggy. I HATE it when they tranq me. I growl and it echos off the metal trailer. I hear others whimpering. I peer into the darkness and realize that I'm not alone.
They've got Hank, the weretiger. Hank and I get along fine, he treats me like his kid. Which is sweet of him. He's pretty old, if werecougars and weretigers could interbreed, they would have tired to have me and Hank mate, we get along so well. He's smirking at the cage next to him.
Oh, no. It's neurotic Ned. He's a werebear. He's afraid of me for some reason, he never told me why. No one gets along with Ned. He just bugs the shit out of everyone. He's hyperventilating now.
"About time you woke up, sweet thang." Hank said in his old Texas drawl. I love to listen to him talk.
"We were worried they killed you." Ned volunteered.
"They always use too much with me." I crawled closer to them. Ned scooted back but Hank held out a hand to me. I squeezed it and then leaned against the bars. "They think I'm Wonder Woman or something."
"Nah, sugar. They just know how pissed off you could be." Hank told me with his handsome grin. Did I forget to mention that I have a little crush on him?
"They were cursing pretty bad when they lifted you on the trailer. Something about overprotective males?" Ned stuttered.
"They brought the three males from Montana a few days ago. We're in the introduction phase. Yasmine is ready to kill them and I think the feeling is mutual."
"Yeah, I heard they got a 'were' hunter in their ranks. Got attacked while hunting and now is one of them."
"That's interesting Hank, how do you know that anyway?"
He shrugged and smiled at me, leaning close to the bars. "My keeper reads the paper out loud to me, says she like to hear me purr when she does. You were in there too, sweet thang. Doc was talking about this being the biggest venue he's ever lectured at. You're the main event, sugar."
I groan. "Great, as if I'm not a big enough of a freak now."
"Now, now. If you didn't survive the attack, who would talk to ol' Hank? You make me feel young again. If they'd only let us into an enclosure together. You and me, we'd have a wild time."
"You mean if Adaline lets you." Adaline is his 'wife', his mate. His barren mate. He always wanted kids, but poor Adaline was a 'pet' and was fixed before she was old enough to remember.
He blushes and sprawls out in his cage. Ned is giving a little smile. I smile at him and purr, trying my damnest to look seductive. Ned gives me a look, I think it's working. He leans towards me and touches my leg. My back arches, and I purr louder, he has strong hands.
"What have you been up to Ned?" I see him blush and pull away from me. Drat.
"Nothing, they may send me to Washington. Got a lady there who's mate just died. She's pretty young, too." I pout. He adjusted himself and looks uncomfortable, as a matter of fact, so does Hank.
"Stop being such a tease." Hank half growls at me. I give him a kittenish smile and bat my long eyelashes at him. The truck jerks to a stop and the back doors open. Doc's there with a clipboard and jumps into the truck with us. He ambles over to me and peers over his glasses at me. I give him a one fingered wave and he gives me a smile.
Hank guffaws at us and shakes his head. His black and orange beard is stiff and is now gaining gray hairs along with the stark black. It moves with his head, his eyes twinkle at me. Doc checks on the rest of the cages as the forklift is moved into position. Since I was the last one in, I'm the first one out, and by the sound of it, there's definitely press around. The forklift lifts me up and I grab on to the bars for dear life. It's an unsettling experience to be lifted by one of those things. Then the flashes start, I squeeze my eyes shut against the bright lights. I mentally curse the Doc for putting me into this position. But then again, I could have said no and they could have forced me into this cage.
They lift me into a holding area and soon Hank and Ned follow. The flashes are still going when Doc places the curtains around us. I hear Ned breath a sigh of relief when the flashes dulled through the heavy red fabric. I was a photo hog but enough was enough. Still feeling slightly groggy about the tranq, I laid down stared up at the cage top and slowly fell back asleep.