<VPA Alpha Stream> Lions and Leopards

  • From: Anna <tkilyle@xxxxxxx>
  • To: alphastream@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 03 Oct 2010 08:13:52 -0400

_Lions and Leopards
_by Sher, Lady Rex; Fintan McKeown; Luca, Nimir-Raj; Joseph Bongani, the Elephant king; & Richard Zeeman, Ulfric

/"Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: / I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them."/

"It's been a very long time since the lions have deigned to offer us a woman as their council representative." The tall, elegantly dressed, dark haired and eyed man had to barely look down to meet the blonde woman's eyes as he lead her and her second, another dark haired man, through into the council chambers. It wasn't that she was as tall as Luca, but the four inch spike heals raised her medium height up until there were barely two inches between them. "You must have tremendous power," Luca observed as he met her stunning, cerulean blue eyes, "or your supporters do."

Sher stared all around, quietly awed by the sheer size of the building. They were in a glistening sky scraper in the downtown area of Johannesburg, South Africa. The heat pressed down on her back, baking her, making her press back with her swirling power. She stared up and up at the place until she had to strain her neck to see the top. Then her attention suddenly snapped back down to Luca and she moved so fast it was a blurring of limbs, her fingers wrapped around his neck. "I have my power," she purred, her voice dripping with a rolling local accent.

Grinning widely, Luca traced down her cheek and stared into eyes the colour of the sky above them. "So I see. I'm impressed," he whispered, his voice low and intimate. He caught the look she gave her second as she pressed herself to him, her hand sliding from his neck, down his chest. It was teasing and seductive and meant to spurn the man. "Come, I want to show you the debating hall before I take you to your office. There's no pressure to use it, you can stay with your pride if you wish, but it helps to conduct council business in a neutral place."

Fintan barely held back a growl. It would have been misinterpreted as a challenge. He hmmphed softly to himself: then again maybe it wouldn't have been. He obeyed Sher, she was the pack leader even if Luca's comment about her gender did get under his skin. Who the hell ever heard of a lioness leading a pack? Even among their feline namesakes in nature, it was the males who lead, who defended their homes and families. But, so be it. Sher had ascended to alpha, through Fintan's help or through his lack of strength and/or desire to fight harder, and he trusted in her ability.

He just wished he could refrain from wanting to rip Luca's head off. Not all of it was the Leo male pride. A good deal of it was the pride of Fintan McKeown, who was decidedly born under the sign of Scorpio. What he wouldn't do to have Sher pressed against him so willingly, to have the nerve to take it further. You're a spineless man, he told himself, his brogue thick even in his thoughts.

Luca lead them in, the entrance hall almost icy with air conditioning, a blast of Arctic air from the dry heat outside. He smiled as he let it engulf him then nodded up to the decorations, tribal designs curled with the native designs of all of the cultures represented by the council. "We take pride in our diversity, Lady Rex."

"We take pride in all things," Sher smirked as she ran a hand up Luca's arm, her eyes still fixed on her second, "Don't we, Fintan."

"That we do, Sher," Fintan agreed easily though there was a tightness to the corners of his eyes. Bad enough he was being taunted (and damn but if it didn't feel good) but council meetings made him tense. His nose twitched at the scent of a meal, one he knew was forbidden by truce. His dark eyes settled on Luca's. "We are leonine in many senses of the word."

"I had always thought that you would take the Rex position, Fintan," Luca observed ruefully.

"We didn't know you kept such a close eye on Lion politics," Sher snorted.

"I am a student of the lupus, I keep a close eye on all of our people," he said with a shrug. "Come, let me show you the chambers. I think you'll find them comfortable even if sometimes you'll have uncomfortable discussions in them." He lead them up to an elevator, his hand stroking over Sher's, making a show of it for her, knowing she was testing her young man, pushing him to see what he'd do. Besides, to be with a powerful woman was a nectar he rarely allowed himself. The lift doors slid open at their approach and he lead them inside, drawing Sher into his arms as he did. "Perhaps, when we are done, you would consent to leaving your chaperon here and joining me in my rooms."

Sher glanced at Fintan, her eyes sultry as she said, "Perhaps."

"I had no idea," Fintan said idly, his voice casual even if he posture said otherwise, "that your kind kept a pride as we do." He longed to wrap his arms around her, to even touch Luca for being lupus as they all were, but he held himself away. It was too much. He could practically smell Sher and Luca together and it was driving him insane.

"We call ours a pard," Luca explained in a tone normally reserved for explaining to small children. "We are family, just as you are with your pride. I am their Namir-Raj, as Sher is your Rex. It is a simple case of semantics."

"But you knew that, didn't you, Fintan," Sher teased. "Don't act the fool in front of the leopard council member, do not embarrass me like that."

"Never a fool, Sher," Finatn said, his smile suddenly sweet and sincere, "only pride." He moved subtly closer, his arm brushing against her slowly, the white silk of his shirt doing nothing to keep him from feeling her warmth. "Excuse a fool for being Leo-centric."

Perhaps he did still want her, perhaps her rise to power hadn't turned him away completely, but she was still unsure enough to stay close to Luca even as she reached out to stroke his cheek fondly. "You're excused, my lion. You're still learning, as am I."

He couldn't help the purr that rumbled from deep within his chest as he rubbed his cheek, covered with the stubble that he couldn't decide to keep as a beard or to shave because it annoyed him in the heat, against her touch. Alpha or not, he hoped it pissed Luca off. The man had no right to question why Fintan had not taken alpha himself. Ag fein truaillaithe Tuilli, he snarled inside. I ought to take your head off. "And the bloody heat drives a man insane in many ways."

"Hmm," Sher mused, her eyes flicking over his handsome face as she stroked it. "I've grown up with this heat, it's good, clean heat, dry and hard. It's purging and I like it."

"I prefer a little humidity with my heat," Luca said simply though there was a prickle to his voice. He slid his hand along Sher's arm, drawing her hand away from her lion and to his own cheek, turning her head so he could stare into those stunning blue eyes. "I could show you one of my homes, it's in Roma, and during the summer months it's so drenchingly hot, it's pure bliss." He leaned down slowly, making sure the other man was watching as he kissed her full and deep.

That she turned from him struck Fintan like a blow. Unbidden, his fingers arched at his side as if they were the razor sharp claws he had in his lion form. No true lion would take such a blatant threat to his pride, such a threat to his dominance. The flush on his face had nothing now to do with the long gone heat outside. It went straight to his hairline and stayed as his eyes stared daggers at Luca. "I'm Irish," he said tightly. "Only in my other form do I find this weather delightful."

"Is that what the accent is?" Luca sniffed in amusement. "It's very... thick isn't it."

The insult bristled against her skin and she pushed at Luca until he left her go. Sher had always loved his voice, finding the soft brogue soothing and intoxicating as they made love. "It's softer than some I've heard," she said as she stood back from both men.

"Of course it's thick," Fintan said, his eyes narrowing. "I'm born and raised there. Just because I know what I am doesn't mean I forget where I was. I've no need for airs." His arm snaked toward Sher to brush down her arm. Ah but his lady's skin was so soft, as was the fur of her lioness pelt. "A Leo man knows what he is. Self pride as well as pride for our own after all."

"You find it attractive?" Luca asked, his eyebrows raised. "It's so... colloquial, so..." he waved his hand as if he didn't quite know the right insult to use.

"Soothing," Sher finished with a snarl. She took Fintan's hand, curling her fingers around his, though she didn't move to mould herself as close as she had to Luca. Her lion had still not proven he wanted her, he still wished for her to be only his.

"Be at peace, Lady Rex," Luca purred, dipping his eyes in a show of remorse and submission as he acknowledged her as superior in this battle. If he'd stood ground and forced her to attack, he'd have been outnumbered so it was simply good sense. His hand drew hers away from Fintan again and he knew she'd let him. He kissed it softly, running his tongue over her fingers. "My apologies to your Pride."

Fintan could feel his arm trembling with barely contained rage. Oh even before he became what he was now, his family had said he'd had a temper. 'Shoulda had yerself red hair, boy' his grandfather used to tell him time and again after one fight at school or another. Only introduction to the pride, under the one who was alpha before Sher, had saved him from imprisonment or worse. He stepped forward, moving closer to Luca, his hair almost bristling as his eyes watching the other man's tongue. "Don't like my sort, do you?"

"I don't like idiots who can't stand up for what they want," Luca said, his dark eyes glittering with amusement and condescension. "If you don't want her, there are those of us who will fight for a chance to be with her. Stand back, cub, and let a man be at her side, not a child." He pulled Sher hard against him, feeling her pause and then mould to him, knowing her gorgeous eyes were on Fintan, feeling her vibrate with the need to be with him. It puzzled Luca a little that she seemed to interested in that young cub when she could have someone as powerful as he was, but if the cub didn't claim her, he'd be happy to.

"Tigh trasna ort fin," Fintan snarled his string left hand whipping out to grab Luca's head. He pulled the older man away from Sher then yanked him close enough that Fintan could smell the sweat and lust. "Yer mistakin' respect for cowardice and you're wrong. You're very, very wrong."

Luca snarled, his lips turned up to reveal teeth shifted to sharp fangs. He lifted the boy up and slammed him against the wall of the lift just as the doors slid open. "Idiot boy," he growled, "You want her, claim her, or get the fuck out of my way."

Sher glanced up and met the dark dark eyes of a man with at least half a foot on Luca. Skin so dark it had purple highlights in the artificial light glistened with a glow that emanated from deep within him. He was broad, built like a wrestler, but there was a grace to his movements that made him elegant rather than brutish. Those dark eyes shone with the light of the pale yellow moon and he seemed to be smiling.

"Language, Luca," the man said in a voice so deep it vibrated along their skin. "Be at peace, feline boy, this is a place of communion, not war."

"Stay out of this, Joseph," Luca growled as he slammed Fintan again. He pressed his face close to the lion's and growled loud and deep. "Do you want her?! Will you fight me for it?"

The scent of another dominant male warred with Fintan's common sense and the common sense lost. He'd be damned if he'd put up with such insults any longer. "Go ahead," he growled, his lip curling in a snarl even as stars danced in his vision. That slam had hurt but he'd live. "You're the one who's holdin' back."

Luca lifted him above his head and threw him out of the lift to skid along the marble tiled corridor. "Not any more," he roar as he leaped out after him.

Joseph turned to Sher and lifted his eyebrows. "Here five minutes and you've got two men after you."

But Sher ignored him, he smelled of the plains, the savannas, but she wasn't interested in prey or predator right now. Right now she wanted to see if Fintan truly wanted her or if it was simply to defend his pride. "Do you fight for me, Fintan?" she called as she prowled closer. "Or is it ego?"

Fintan cracked his head when he hit the floor but he leapt to his feet, shaking off the daze as he rolled out of Luca's way. Dark eyes, usually alight with mischief and pride, blazed with fury. "You're mine, damn it. You are my queen in many ways, Sher, and this one needs a beating. He treats you wrong, not like I would."

Her heart blazed and she was instantly on them, pulling Luca from the fray and tossing him aside like a doll. She moved smoothly in her four inch heals, as if she didn't even notice them. "He is mine, Namir-Raj, not yours. He has chosen and so have I," she said as she dropped to her knees and crawled to Fintan. "How would you treat me?" she purred.

Joseph smirked as he watched the cats play their power games, his wide arms folded over his massive chest. "Come, Luca, I think the Pride has its own problems without throwing our own in for debate."

She was a female and thus beneath him yet she was alpha and his queen. Fintan compromised. He dropped to his knees, not as gracefully as he might have liked since his head was pounding, and held out a hand, drawing her close. He rubbed his cheek against hers, inhaling her scent. "I didn't fight you for alpha because, female or not, you were the better choice. More than that," he said, his voice both a purr and a growl, "you are a lioness worthy of the Pride. You are all that can be said of us. You are perfection and I have never thought less than that."

"You didn't fight me because I'd have killed you," she said simply, a true smile touching her lips as she rubbed against him, pressing tightly to him. "You need a shave," she whispered in his ear before she pulled back and stared hard at him. "If you do not act like the second half of a mating pair, I will find someone who will. I am queen but I am also a female, I need a strong mate. I want it to be you but you must show me you're worthy of it."

"Can I finish the fight then? I would happily slice his head off," Fintan said, the mischief returning somewhat even as he leaned into her touch. He licked her cheek, not giving a damn if Luca were watching. She was his queen, damn it, not that damned leopard's. ""Or d'you suppose it'd wreck the council?"

"I think I'd hate to have the lions thrown off for breaking the council law of killing another pack's representative," she said though she laughed bright and clear. She kissed him hard, almost climbing onto his knees to do it.

"Hmph," Luca huffed, padding over to where Joseph was leaning. He touched the back of his head and came away with blood from where he'd smacked it off the floor. "I'm glad the tiles are reinforced."

"Be glad she didn't pull your head from your shoulders for hurting her mate, leopard king," the dark man laughed.

His fingers nearly dug into her back as he returned the kiss, tugging at her lip almost hard enough to taste blood. "Then I won't kill him. For you, I'll even be civilized," he purred. He licked her cheek again then rubbed his forehead to hers. "D'you really want me t'shave? A lion needs his mane and I could settle for shaggy hair."

"Shave or grow it out," she said softly as she rubbed against him. He felt like pure bliss. Luca was attractive enough but Fintan had always been her ideal, she'd even thought she loved him until they'd stopped being together when she became Rex. He was her bodyguard as well as her second but she'd missed him in her bed.

He laughed brightly then hugged her so strongly that, if she were a normal Human, he might have caused actual harm. "Oh, I've missed you, Sher. Maybe I am a fool as you said before, I should've said my piece earlier."

"I've missed you too," she said as she gripped him. "Perhaps later we can discuss what we're going to do with our Pride and each other."

"For now," the deep, rumbling voice of the dark man, "I've been left to finish your tour. I believe the leopard's ego is too bruised."

"So's my head," Fintan muttered, slowly standing up, his arm still around Sher. Nuzzling her neck once more, he then turned a smile onto Joseph. "Let me know if I bruised anything else on 'im."

"I think your Rex did more damage," Joseph chuckled. "I am Joseph Bongani, I'm a council representative."

Sher kept her arm around Fintan but pulled him so that they prowled up to Joseph. She let her mate go for just a moment as she leaned in close to Joseph and sniffed him deeply. "You smell of the plains," she purred.

He smelled of lunch Fintan told himself but not in the same way the rabbits and prey creatures did. "Fintan McKeown," he offered, dark eyes studying even as he held out a hand. He watched Sher closely but this time the jealousy didn't flare or not yet in any case. "She's right. You smell of where our kind comes from."

Joseph took the offered hand and held it firmly, his strength and power rippling down his arm. "I am," he said simply, his black eyes glittering with wisdom.

"Prey but a powerful foe," Sher said as she slid around him, sniffing all the time. "One that has taken as many of our kind as we have taken yours." Suddenly, she stood back, awe and a touch of fear in her eyes. "Elephant."

Joseph swept out a deep bow but he came up laughing, his deep voice rumbling with mirth. "The king of the elephants, at your service. You are part of the cycle of life to us, we respect the lion as the lion respects us."

The part of him that was a small boy visiting a zoo with his grandparents was deeply awed. The animals of the African plains had always been Fintan's favorites even from that age. Now, he regarded the man with the eyes of both lion and the consort of their pride's queen. "They chose well," he said after that appraising look. "I'm impressed."

"Thank you, boy," Joseph chuckled, his African accent thickening his words. "They had little choice. It was between me and the ancient one but he is old now, too old for the politics of the council."

Fintan nodded. It was the way of their kind but one hardly ever saw elder lions. If they lost challenges, they generally lost their lives or left the pride in which case, in his opinion they may has well have lost their lives. His grip on Sher tightened unconsciously. He needed the pride. "I don't know him but may he continue providing his wisdom as fate allows," he said simply. "Long live the king as they say."

"And long live the wisest of us," Joseph nodded, his dark eyes sparkling brightly. "For you it is survival of the fittest, for us it is serve until the time comes to move on."

Sher pulled Fintan even closer, kissing his cheek as she cuddled him. "We fight and die but the memories live on. Do they for you?"

"We take our dead to the graveyard, the ground consumes them and we consume what the ground produces. We remember their lives as we eat the vegetables that their bodies help grow."

It would have nauseated or, at the least, horrified those who were not lupus like them but it made sense to Fintan. Life gave back to life unless the one lost was not worthy of being continued or if the life was lost far from the pack. He'd heard of such a thing that had happened among the jaguars but he wouldn't dare ask Ixchel, their queen. She often got very angry whenever that subject came up and lashed out at the asker. The feel of Sher pressed to his side damned near distracted him but it was safe for the moment. This one was not foe in the sense that Luca was.

"Do you know how many species of animals are represented here?" Joseph asked as he lead them through the corridors. The decorations around them were tribal, very African, but the wide door at the end had the air of a castle to it.

"One hundred and thirty two," Sher replied with a smirk. "I have read the papers, remember."

"Of course," Joseph chuckled. "But let me ask another. Why, if there are over three hundred different species to the lupus, are there less than half represented here?" He said it as he pushed open the door, revealing a vast, cavernous space. It contained hundreds of rows of chairs, tables and desks. At the centre was a raised platform, the symbol of the lupus set down in the surface of it.

Sher's eyes were wide as she stepped through. The space was vast, more than big enough to house all of the species, but she knew that answer as well. "Only a group with more than ten members can register a representative. Those with fewer numbers must find an ally who will speak for them."

"If I were a scientist, the statistics of our numbers would give me a headache," Fintan snorted as he surveyed the room. Automatically, he looked as to how he would defend his alpha as the males of the pride were meant to do. "Imagine how rare we are and then to be rare within the species? Pah, the poor buggers need help even with the truce."

"There are some council members who speak for three or four other species," Joseph noted. "We elephants speak for our own and gazelles. Traditionally, the lions would speak for the tigers but that will be entirely up to you, Lady Rex."

Fintan was feeling just a bit silly after his fight with Luca and couldn't hold back a chuckle. "Too bad the bears've got their own," he said with a decided twinkle in his eyes.

"Forming an army?" Joseph chuckled.

"Ah, nah," Fintan told him. "Tis nothing more than a joke based on an old tale my folks used to read me as a boy. I quite like bears actually and we lions aren't army sorts. We keep our territory and our own til where we are has used itself up."

"I know the ways of the lion, boy," Joseph snorted. He picked his way through the seats until he'd lead them to a set near the front. The symbol of the lions was engraved on the chairs and there were about a dozen of them huddled together. "For your entourage."

Sher prowled round, finding the central seat. She sank down into it, arranging herself like a queen on a throne and grinning to herself. "Who are ahead of us in the ranking?"

"The wolves, jaguars, leopards and swans," Joseph said, pointing each group out. "We have equal ranking with you at the other side. I believe the swans are vying to bring us equal but only because they are the only prey animals on the inner circle."

It was starting to irk Fintan that the others kept calling him 'boy', as if his rank implied he was merely a cub and not a full grown male and his queen's chosen one. He bit that thought back and instead allowed his eyes to wander toward where the bigger man was pointing. He then knelt close to Sher, putting his mouth so close to her ear that his breath must have tickled the skin. "I've got barbecue sauce if you want a decent medieval roast swan, Sher," he purred.

"We could all enjoy roast lion as well," came a bellow from across the council chambers. A man, tall but not as tall as Joseph, strode forward. The air shimmered with his energy, his deep brown hair curled around his shoulders and his blue shirt strained above a wide, strong chest. Richard Zeeman, leader of the wolves and the whole council, grinned at them, his brown eyes pure and deep with amusement. "Never forget we can all hear you, even if you whisper."

"We're too tough and not all of us are sweet," Fintan said with an amused smile of his own. "Besides, I wouldn't break the truce here. Call it carnivore humor if you'd like."

"Carnivore humour," Richard snorted. He leaped down to land right in front of them, his otherworldly energy swirling around all of them.

Sher rubbed her hands up and down her arms as she reacted to his energy with goosebumps. "Why are the lions not so high?"

"The lions have never been powerful enough," Richard shrugged. "Your previous Rex refused to make enough alliances to be strong in the council. He always considered council business as less important as pack. We are all pack, Sher-Rex. You are pack to me as I am pack to Joseph. We must have a united voice or we will never be heard."

Fintan edged closer to Sher, even from his kneeling position, his eyes watching the council leader as he smoothed his hands down his lady's arms as if to comfort her. "Except for certain personal matters, I would agree," he said in a soft rumble. "We are all too rare and the rarest of us need protection."

"Then you know what you're charged with," Richard said, his smile wide and making his stunning features ever more handsome. "We are the council, we stand between the pack and the abyss."

"I think you'll find my Lady Rex will be a fine replacement for her predecessor." Fintan stroked her cheek with one finger. "She's wise as well as fierce."

Sher didn't lean into Fintan's touch but she didn't move away either. She sat and watched the wolf, her whole frame held regally. "We will do all that we can for the council."

"That is all anyone can ask," Richard said with a nod.

Fintan stood up then an offered Richard a slight bow, the respect of a member toward the leader of the entire pack. "Will the jaguar's alpha be joining us? The last I heard, Ixchel was a bit put out that one of her cubs was misbehaving at council."

"As far as I know but council doesn't meet for another day. We have sessions three times a week then private meetings for as long as we wish. I live out here, my pack is taken care of by my second. I have complete faith in his abilities," Richard told them.

Fintan nodded. Internal politics of a pack varied from subspecies to subspecies but caring for the pack, even at the lowest level, was each member's responsibility. "The werejuaguar she let join Starfleet has something of a snappy tongue, Sher. I quite like him but he doesn't always know when to shut up."

"I remember him," Sher said with a sniff of amusement. "I am not a complete cub here, Fintan, I have been observing pack politics for as long as you."

His hand caressed her hair as he hmmphed softly. "Then you'll recall what a cranky bugger he is," Fintan said simply. "I don't know how you feel about other female cats but it may help that he and I get on well enough." He snorted softly and offered Joseph and Richard a smirk. "I am so much more levelheaded."

"Most of everyone is," Joseph snorted. "When the meetings are in session, you will have a chance to meet my new second, Peter. He is another from your part of the world, Fintan, though his accent is quite different. A place called Dudley, he said middle England."

"Close enough," Fintan said with a shrug. "Years ago, the humans'd fight over that, calling it a slight. Here, we're blood and he's kin of a sort. I look forward to meeting him."

"I have only visited his family once, I know little of it, except that they are kin to me, separated by generations," Joseph explained. "I have taken the boy under my wing, I guide him through his changes and in the ways of the plains."

"As my lady's predecessor did for me and many others. Believe me, it's harder when you're born some place so different than where the other of you belongs." Fintan nodded toward the windows, toward the bright sunshine outside. "The bloody heat's killer on me like this. My otherself...ah, I could take it all day."

"If you ever want to see the plains as we see them, come out with me, meet my tribe," Joseph offered, his dark eyes flicking to Sher. "Lady Rex also. Not all of us are elephants but many, enough that we're revered."

Sher inclined her head with a slight smile. "Perhaps. We will see. First I still have to shore up my own power base."

Fintan bit back a scowl, knowing there were probably more males in their pride that felt Sher shouldn't be alpha simply because of her gender. He'd felt the same way (and sometimes still did) but he'd deal with them. He'd even be diplomatic about it though them, he told himself, he'd be able to pound sense into. The prey creatures he would have to be much nicer about. "And that'll happen if I have anything to do with it."

In one smooth moment that was faster than most eyes could follow, Sher lashed out and grabbed Fintan around his neck, squeezing just hard enough to let him know she was serious. "Do not undermine me," she snarled, her voice low, vibrating with a lion's growl. "I am Rex, not you. I lead, I command and I punish as I see fit."

Even as he raised his hand in the natural instinct to strike back at an attacker, Fintan's eyes widened. Dark eyes ignored the others and stared at her as he simply stood stock still, not struggling at her clawed grip. "As you wish, my lady," he said in a choked calm. "I meant simply to support you. I'll ask next time before I do."

"I know your heart in this, Fintan," she said softly, her voice still deep, her fingers still clenched around his throat. "I know I am not man enough for you. Your sexism is a stench across your skin, the sexism of the Pride is suffocating. We will move forward, even if I have to kill all who stand in my way. Will you stand in my way, Fintan? Will you let your heart rule your head?"

"I said I wouldn't and I won't, Sher," he gasped. "Tis hard to change thousands of years of thinking so fast but I'm tryin'. More than that's not possible."

She eased off her pressure then spread her hands across his shoulders, pulling him gently to her. "I believe you," she said softly, holding him so gently.

He rubbed his cheek to hers then very gently licked it. "I'm glad. I'm a stubborn and moody bastard but I'm not given to lies or deceit." He flowed into her touch, needing his alpha's approval as much as he simply wanted Sher's hands on him. "I'm a loyal man, Sher."

"I know, my lion," Sher said with a soft smile only for him.

Richard smirked as he stared down at the two of them then he turned on his heals and disappeared through the far door, only Joseph's eyes on his back.

"If you're happy, I'll leave you," the dark man said. "If you need anything, just ask."

Fintan shrugged. It wasn't for him to say though he did wonder what was eating Richard for the man to leave so abruptly. "So long as my Lady Rex finds things to her liking, I'm fine."

"We'll be fine, Joseph, thank you," she said, her head inclined.

"Please feel free to wander, we have no secrets here." Then the tall, broad man brushed past them to pad out of the chamber.

After they were alone, Sher turned to Fintan and smiled. "What do you think?"

"If you mean about this place, it's a bit overdone but then it ought to be I suppose." He offered her a smirk then. "If you mean about any of them," he continued, waving his hand in the direction the others had gone, "be wary of Luca. I don't mean just because I'd like to tear his head off either. Joseph...now that's a man a person would want as an ally. Prey maybe but not prey when you consider one could stomp a smaller creature flat easily."

"Our brothers of the plains," Sher nodded as she absently trickled her fingers through his hair. "And the chairman? Richard Zeeman, what do you think of him?"

He almost purred at her touch, happy that she still wanted to touch. "That's a man you can feel power off of, that's certain. From what I see, he wields it well but he's a bit touchy t'me. Left without so much as 'see ya later'."

She leaned down and kissed Fintan's forehead. "A bit rude, do you think?" she purred.

"Perhaps tis heavy the head that wears the crown so to speak but, otherwise, I'd agree with you," he murmured. "He didn't disrespect you at least."

"No," she whispered as she kissed him softly. "We are small fish here, Fintan, we need to be bigger fish."

"And more of us too," he agreed. God but she tasted good, a mixture of Sher and the pure lioness queen she was as well. ""I curb my mouth and attitude for you, Sher. You've got my word."

"...and I had done nothing...but shoot an unarmed Cardassian in his 
underwear."-Li Nalas

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