Corporate Pride





            As the lioness in front of me shuffled in to be interviewed and the lioness who had been in front of her shuffled out, I once again looked over the sweat-soaked newspaper clipping I was clutching.  There was nothing there that suggested the job opening I was trying for was restricted to female lions, but the three applicants ahead of me were all lionesses.  I guess it could just be coincidence, but still... lions aren't all that common in the States, and for three to show up for the same job stretches the limits of credibility.  I picked up the magazine I'd been re-reading for the fourth time, and waited for my turn. 


            Finally, as I was beginning to wonder if I'd be interviewed  today or have to return tomorrow, the last lioness walked out.  I stood up and straightened my clothing before moving toward my interview, and, hopefully, a job.


            Those hopes took a nosedive as I opened the door and saw the pair who would be interviewing me.  Two lionesses looked up, surprised, as I stepped in.


            "Can we help you, sir?" One asked.  I resisted the urge to bolt away from her predatory gaze, and nodded.


            "I, uh, I'm here about the job." They looked at each other.


            "Which job is that?" I held out the tattered ad from yesterday's paper.  "Oh, that... That position has already been filled.  But thank you for applying."  God damn it, I was NOT going to let her intimidate me.  People had done that to me for years until I decided to put an end to it, and I'd be damned if I was going to let some oversized kitty look at me like I'm something she might consider pouncing.


            "May I at least interview for the job?  I am highly qualified."  I added, shuffling my resume.


            "I really don't think that will be necessary, I don't think you have the qualifications that we're looking for."


            "You mean because I don't have tits and a tail?" I asked, finally losing my temper.  "I don't know what kind of outfit you're running, but if you don't at least hear me out, then you'll have a reverse discrimination suit on your hands faster than you can pounce a rat!" Her eyes widened as I slammed my hefty resume file down in front of her.


            "What do you mean?" She asked.


            "How many syllables does it have to be in?  Re-verse Dis-crim-in-ation.  You're refusing to consider me as an applicant simply because I'm not a lioness."


            "And what makes you say that?" She asked.


            "Let me think..." I paused sarcastically, ticking things off on my fingers, "One... of the three applicants I've seen, I'm the only one who wasn't a lioness.  Two... of the three people in this room, I'm the only one who isn't a lioness.  Three... I'm the only one you've refused to consider, and I'm the only one who isn't just like you.  So you tell me, sweetie, what do you call that?" Damn it, I was bordering on flaming again.  Hopefully, they hadn't noticed my slip.  Verbal, that is.


            "Listen, why don't you..."


            "Why," The other lioness, who had to this point been silent, asked, "Do we not simply consider his case fairly?  Surely that isn't unreasonable?"  The one who had been doing all the talking clammed up then, and just nodded.  "Have a seat, sir.  Would you care for some refreshment?  I'm sure you've had a long wait."  I shook my head, and took the offered seat.  They

read through my resume in silence, which gave me time to calm down and regain control over my temper.  "Impressive." She finally said.  "You do have superior qualifications, and an extensive list of references.  My only real question is this; Why are you seeking employment here?"


            "Because I need the money." I answered, "Bills to pay and all that."


            "Yes, but there are other jobs, which promise more money, and you are more than qualified for them."


            "I..." How to explain my situation?  "I'm looking for a smaller company, like yours.  One that I was hoping would be more... open minded than older, larger companies."  They considered that.


            "What do you mean by 'open minded'?" The first lioness asked.  I turned to face her to answer.


            "My methods and my personal habits tend to be unconventional." I explained, "I'm not really a suit-and-tie kind of person.  In point of fact, I feel like I'm strangling right now."  The two lionesses looked at each other, and the quiet one nodded.


            "Despite our initial reservations, I believe that you will do quite nicely." She said.  My heart leapt, and I broke into a smile.  "We are, in fact, rather open minded, and we will ask that you be likewise with us.  We, also, have our own... unique methods and ideas, and if you respect those, then we will respect you.  When can you begin?"


A few days later, I started work as the new system administrator for Pride, Incorporated.  The first thing I had to do was to go through the ordeal of orientation.  Their organization was fairly ductile, and there were very few hard and fast rules to be learned... I was given the nickel tour, shown the copier/fax/printer, the commissary, the storeroom, all the relevant details of office life.  I was something of an old hand at this sort of thing, and by the end of the day I was comfortably ensconced in my own cubicle.  Their old administrator had apparently died, and the work had piled up ever since... I began to tackle the mountain of bugs and file reallocations that lay before me.  I worked well into the night, noticing the general pattern my coworkers fell into... they seemed not to follow any set schedule, but came and went as it pleased them.  I reflected that, when my own backload was cleared, I'd probably enjoy such a policy, but for now, late nights and early mornings would likely be the order of the day.


The work, however, wasn't really the problem... the problem was with my coworkers.  I tried to reach out to them and make friends, but no matter what I tried, they shut me out.  I talked to my supervisor, the quiet one from the interview.  She explained that it would take them a long time to get used to me.  The person I had replaced was dearly loved by all, and some felt that associating with me would somehow tarnish her memory.  Then, also, I was a male in an otherwise female only workplace.  That last, at least, I could try to deal with.  I finished up what I could for that day, and left to go shopping. 


I felt like every eye was on me as I walked into work the next morning, my heels click-clacking noisily on the tiles as I strode purposefully to my cubicle.  In point of fact, they probably were.  I sat down at my desk and hung the sign I'd brought from home above my computer, and sat down to start typing.  I'd decided to dress conservatively my first time, choosing a nice dark skirt to go with my silk blouse.  I was slenderly built, and of a feminine cast to begin with (don't get me started on how much trouble THAT'S caused me), and with a very little make-up, the transformation was complete.  This was one of the things I couldn't explain to them during the interview... but it looked like this time it might work to my advantage.  I hadn't been working for more than a few minutes when Misha knocked on my cubicle wall. 


"Just what do you think you are doing?" She asked when I looked up.


"What you hired me to." I answered, allowing my voice to fall into its natural range.  It felt good to be out in the open here, at work.


"I mean, why are you wearing women's clothing?"


"I told you some of my... habits were unusual.  Besides, I thought that things might go more smoothly if we made it an "all girl" work environment again." She started to comment, but saw the sign over my computer, and smiled.  The sign, in case you were wondering, read "No Boys Allowed."


"Perhaps you are right." She said, "Carry on." She turned on her heel and left.  When I went to the commissary, I was invited to sit with three of my coworkers.  They did their best to include me in their conversations, and, once I relaxed a little, I fit in splendidly.  They apologized for being so standoffish before, and I assured them that it wasn't a big deal... I'd gotten the same reaction for pretty much the opposite reasons everywhere else I'd worked.  We all shared information about our lives outside of work, but they all seemed to freeze up whenever I mentioned anything about children, or boyfriends, or anything that came too close to those subjects.  I thought they might be nervous about my own orientation... I couldn't see why, I'd assured them that as far as I was concerned, I really was "just one of the girls," but still, they avoided the subject as much as possible.  I chalked it up to a species difference, and left it at that.


A week later, I was buying a drink from the vending machine when I sensed a large presence behind me.  I turned around and saw this vast male lion in a business suit walk by.  He glanced briefly in my direction and did a slight double-take.  He came over to investigate me further.


"Hello." He rumbled, "I am Timothy.  I don't believe we've met Mrs...?" I was about ready to melt into the floor under that stern visage.  God, the size of him!  And his smell... it was an odd mixture of a musk that was 100% male... and another scent just under it that was so at odds

with it that I almost doubted my senses.


"Uh, Um... Gond, sir." He nodded, as if satisfied.


"I usually make it a point to know all of my employees, but I must confess that I've not seen you before.  You are new here?"


"Y-Yes, sir." Oh, please, get me out of this situation before this executive realizes he's hitting on a male human! "I started a few weeks ago."


"Yes, I believe Misha mentioned hiring a human..." There was a low rumble in his throat, and I thought, for a moment, that I was about to die.  Then he took on a puzzled look, and inhaled deeply.  "Yes, you are a male, aren't you?"  His hands flexed, as though by instinct, and even

through his suit, I could see his muscles tense.  "I think it would be wise if..."


"Timothy!" Misha's voice carried extremely well.  "I believe you should be elsewhere, shouldn't you?" His face underwent a startling transformation as I watched, and when he turned to face Misha, he was anything but fierce.  I half expected her to grab him by the ear and lead him away, but she merely took his arm and led him off.  I found a chair and collapsed into it.  God, such a man!  And unless I misread the entire scene, he'd nearly killed me.


"Mike?  You okay?" Jackie came in and sat down next to me.  "Jeez, you look like you've had it rough!  Did you get into it with Misha?  She can be harsh, you know, but really, she's okay, it's just..."  I felt the urge to cry evaporate, and I managed to shake my head.


"There was a... lion..." I finally got out.


"OH! You met Timmy, uh, Timothy, huh?" I nodded. "Nobody warned you, did they?" I shook my head, "Yeah, I guess none of us thought about it, really... I mean, you're a male, and all, but you're not, you know, MALE."


"That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me." I managed a weak smile, which she returned.


"Really, though, Timothy's okay, too, once you get to know him... but he is a lion, and you are another male... it'll take him a while to get used to you being around."


I nodded.  "It'll take a while for me to get used to it too, I guess.  God, he's huge!" I added before I thought about it.  Jackie gave me a surprised look.  "Sorry, I didn't mean to..."


"No, honey, that's ok.  He is a hunk, isn't he?" I nodded, and we shared a giggle or two before we went back to work.


Things went well for a while, though I still had this nagging feeling that something was going on behind my back.  I thought it would pass... but instead, it got worse.  Oh, they were nice, certainly, and for the most part they treated me equally... but there were a lot of times that conversations would stop, or spontaneously change as soon as I walked into the room, and whispers with sidelong glances abounded in the commissary during lunch.  What little I did hear involved some "schedule" or "rotation", depending on who was talking.  I tried every way I could think of to pry the information politely out of my coworkers, but to no avail.


Finally, I decided that I'd had quite enough.  I cornered Jackie after work and laid into her.


"Alright, what's going on?" I demanded.


"Wh-What do you mean?" The petite feline asked.


"There's something you're all keeping from me... I don't like people having secrets that affect me!"


"Oh, but Micky, it doesn't affect..." She clapped her paws over her mouth.  Keeping secrets was never Jackie's strong suit, which is one of the reasons I'd picked her to interrogate.


"Aha!  Out with it!" She looked around nervously like a cornered animal, and I backed off a little... Morphs are called civilized, but still, one never knows just how far you can push someone, and her claws would do a lot of damage if she chose to use them.  And I bruise easily, anyway.


"There... There's a cub we're taking care of, all of us... you see, that's how all of this got started."  I opened my car door and motioned for her to get in.


"I'll be your ride home tonight, dear, and you can explain it on the way."


"Well," She started once we were on our way, "Misha and Tanya met at a Morph's support group back when all the trouble was just starting to really settle down, and they just naturally took to each other.  You know our species is pretty rare in this area, and they figured they had to look out for each other.  Well, they got a job at the same company, and one day they found out about this little orphan lion cub.  It was obvious to them that they had to adopt it... so they did."


"Two unmarried females got custody of an orphan in THOSE days?" I wondered aloud.  Following the Morphs' introduction and the turmoil the Pandora virus caused, there'd been a huge resurgence of old-style values.  Add that to the natural prejudice the system had toward Morphs... it made for pretty long odds.


"Well... it wasn't really easy, but yes.  There were circumstances that made it desirable to place the male.. the child with those of his own species."


"Ok, so they adopted."


"Right.  Then they left the company they were working for and founded Pride, Inc.  It wasn't like this back then, but as people left and new people hired in... Listen, you know how the Pandora virus works, right?"


"Of course." Any schoolgirl could tell you that much, how a terrorist raid on a genetic research facility released an experimental agent into the atmosphere.  The terrorists thought they'd found typhoid or bubonic plague, but in a way, what they'd found had a much darker impact on society.  People began... changing, growing fur or scales or feathers.  Animals were the carriers, they took the virus into their bodies and let it fester, let it copy bits and pieces of their genetic material into its own, and then the virus would pass into its intended target: humans.  The virus spread through the body, and the world, like wildfire, remapping human DNA and the course of our history.  The result was pure chaos, as nations which had only begun to cope with racial and sexual diversity were suddenly faced with hundreds of new species, all of whom claimed equal rights and equal consideration.  The jury is still out on to what extent these new beings are animals, and what degree of humanity they possess, but for the sake of preserving the fragile peace, their rights were finally acknowledged.  But it didn't come easily, nor was it without a price.


"Well... don't tell anyone I said this, but there are... instincts that you just have to follow.  Things that just seem right, and to hell with what society says.  Do you understand?" I looked down at my skirt and thought of the lace I wore beneath it.


"Oh, I think I understand."


"Well, I need to be part of a close community... a pride, in other words.  Word got around about Pride, Incorporated, and after a while, the only applicants we got were lionesses."


"Guess I must have missed the signs on the way in." I noticed.  She patted my hand.


"And I'm glad you did.  Anyway, raising a male cub isn't a job for just one lioness.  They used to say it takes a village, but..."


"I get the idea.  So you take turns with him?  An experiment in communal parenting?" She nodded.  "And I'm out of the running because I'm gay, male, human, and anything but a lion, I presume?"  She looked away.  "I thought so."


"We didn't think... We thought that you wouldn't... that you would,"


"That I'd what?" I demanded.


"That you wouldn't approve." She finally said.


"The only thing I don't approve of is my coworkers... my friends, keeping secrets from me.  When do I get to meet him?"  She blinked at me a few times.




"The cub.  I'd like to meet him.  When does your turn come up?"


"Uh... Since Tanya died, I've been taking over for her until we could find someone to fill her slot on the rotation."


"Sounds like quite a handful for you." She nodded.


"Well, yeah, it does kinda put a crimp in my social life, but..."


"You know, I'm really very good with kids... why don't I come over and give you a hand with him?" She had that cornered look again.


"Well, I, uh..." We pulled up at her apartment.


"When's your next turn?"


"T-tomorrow." She stammered. 


"Wonderful!  When should I come over?"


"Uh... I guess around six or so... after he's had his dinner, he's, um..."


"Oh, you don't have to explain, dear, I know how children can be. How old is the little tyke?"


"Uh, old?  Um... about three, I guess."  She shut her door and retreated into her building.  Three?  She guesses?  I shook my head and drove home, still feeling as thought I wasn't filled in on everything.


The next day at work went much better.  Everyone commented on what a good mood I was in.  I just replied that I was happy to have such good friends.  Jackie avoided me all day, but I'd mostly expected that.  Work flew by, and I swung home to eat and change into something more casual before heading over to Jackie's place.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous as I climbed the stairs to her door... despite my assurances that I was good with kids--and don't get me wrong, I AM good with kids--I wasn't sure how that would translate to a toddler lion.  I knocked, and after a brief wait, Jackie answered the door.


"Oh, uh, Hi, Micky, um..."


"May I come in?" She leaned across the doorway.


"Listen I've been thinking that maybe this isn't such a good idea, I mean, he's.."


"Mommy Jackie?" I heard a familiar rumble from inside the apartment, "Who's at the door?" I stared in shock at my coworker, who just nodded.


"Then again, maybe you should come on in."  She let me in and led me back to her dining area.  Nothing could have prepared me for the sight that was waiting for me.  Could this really be the same lion who'd nearly mauled me the last time I saw him?


He was seated in a modified high-chair... in this case, the term "low-chair" might be appropriate, since it was sized to put his head at an ideal height for feeding... wearing a white T-shirt, which, despite the bib tied through his mane, had still acquired some of the same colorings as the food laid before him.  His eyes widened in shock as he saw me come in, and I finally recognized the scent that had confused me when we'd met before.  Somebody had a wet diaper, and I think it was obvious who. 


"Jackie?" I asked, looking from lion to lioness.  She just shrugged.


"What I told you was pretty much the truth... except that the cub was Timmy.  I told you, there are some instincts... they go deep."


"What's she doing here?" Timmy said in a tone of voice more suited to his business suit than his current attire. 


"Now, now, Timmy, be nice, or Mommy Jackie won't let you have your desert."


"But SHE... HE! Isn't supposed to be here!  I don't care how he dresses up, he's still a man!"  Jackie strode over and towered over him, her hands on her hips and looking more formidable than I'd ever seen her.


"You apologize to her RIGHT NOW, little boy!  I told her you were a big three year old, and here you are, acting like a spoiled little baby.  Do you hear me?  Apologize before I change my mind and decide you aren't old enough for desert!"  He looked about as shocked as I felt.  He searched her face for any hint of wavering, but found none.  He hung his head and mumbled into his food-streaked mane.  "Where she can hear it, baby!"


"Said I'm sorry!" He spit in my direction.


"Say it like you mean it.  Don't push me!" Jackie warned.


"Yes, ma'am." He looked up at me. "I'm sorry."


"For what?" Jackie prompted.


"For being rude to Mommy Jackie's guest."


"Alright then." She motioned me over. "Baby Timmy, I'd like you to meet Aunt Michelle.  She came over to help me take care of you.  I THOUGHT that I wouldn't need her, since you were being such a good, big boy, but now it looks like I'll need her help after all.  I expect you to obey her and show her the same respect you show me.  Am I understood?"  Timmy nodded, but glared daggers at me.  I saw that winning his trust would be a challenge.  Then again, so was fitting in at work, and I thought I'd pulled that off well enough.  "Come on, little Timmy, let's get you out of that sopping diaper." She unlatched the tray from his chair, and had him climb down onto the floor.  He wasn't wearing much aside from his T-shirt, just a pair of plastic pants which were presumably covering the wet diapers I'd smelled before.  She led him into the bedroom, which had a collection of furniture which looked to have been custom crafted for just such an over-sized infant.  At her direction he climbed up on the changing table, and she motioned me over.


"Come on, dear, if you want to help out with the baby, you're going to have to learn how.  Have you ever changed a baby before?" I nodded.  "Well, this one's just a little different." She had him lift up a little so she could pull the plastic pants down.  The diaper lay heavily against him, and I felt my heart speed up as I saw his penis pushing its way up against the folds.  Jackie was obviously expert at this, and she paced herself so I could watch.  She unpinned the sides, chattering as she went.  "Timmy here's been our baby for a long time.  He was pretty high up in the company Misha and... at the old company, and he was under a lot of different kinds of pressure, both at work and otherwise.  Misha found out..."


"Uh-uh, it was M-Mommy Tanya." Timmy put in, a tear in his voice, if not in his eyes.  Jackie stopped what she was doing and gave him a comforting hug.  She popped a pacifier into his mouth and attached its ribbon to the table so it wouldn't get lost. 


"As I was saying, they found him out one day... his little stash of diapers and bottles and even a couple of cute little T-shirts.  He was terrified by the thought that they'd tell his little secret, but they both loved him so... and besides, he IS cute, isn't he?" I couldn't disagree with that.  "So they started letting him be a baby sometimes, and they shared him.  The rest happened pretty much as I told you.  We all take care of him... we all love him so much."


"But what about work...?  How do you all manage?" I asked.


"Oh, it's not that hard." She shrugged, "When we're at work he's pretty much allowed to act like an adult... it'd be hard for him to manage otherwise.  Of course, he still has to wear these," She indicated the diaper she'd just slid out from under him, "Or he'd get the office furniture soaked."


"So he's...?" She nodded.


"Yup.  Completely incontinent." It felt odd to be talking over him like that, especially discussing something so personal.  Jackie noticed my discomfort and put her hand on my forearm, "No, dear, it's ok.  He doesn't mind at all, do you little one?" The lion shook his head as he contentedly sucked his pacifier. "He's pretty much used to it by now.  Anyway, except for that, and having to respect our authority, he's pretty much like any other executive.  Ever been to the HR restroom?"


"Can't say that I have.  Why?" She patted the changing table.  "At work?" I asked, surprised.


"Well, somebody has to change him, and I'm not going to ruin my back trying to change him on the bathroom floor.  Besides, we were able to get away with making it unisex.  It has all the features of a handicapped stall, and then some.  When he needs to be changed, he just has to find one of us and get us to take him there." She opened the box of wipes and began cleaning off her charge, who closed his eyes and rumbled softly.


"Sounds like he likes it." I noticed.


"Well of course he likes it, silly!" Jackie giggled, "We wouldn't be doing any of this if he didn't!  He may protest occasionally, but he wouldn't give this up for the world.  Would you, Timmy?"  The lion shook his head and squirmed as she tickled his tummy in the middle of getting him clean.  "He's free to give all this up whenever he wants...  Of course, he'd need to be potty trained first, and that's a doomed project." 


"What do you mean?"


"Oh, one or two of the girls got tired of changing him, and they did their best to train him... they failed miserably, and when they started being mean about it..."


"They were fired?"  She looked shocked at the suggestion.


"I should say not!  We took their names off the contract and after a while they left... there were no hard feeling on either side.  They weren't really that into the idea in the first place, which is why they wanted him potty trained."


"Contract?" I asked, curious.


"Uh... Yes, there's that.  Did I forget to mention it?" I nodded, "Well, we're all signatories to a contract they drew up at the beginning.  Essentially, he's signed himself over into our custody, and the contract binds him to respect us in certain ways.  It's halfway between being married and being an adoptive parent."


"Makes sense, I guess.  So he got himself declared incompetent?"


"Oh, no, not at all!  It just voluntarily reduces some of his rights to those that a child would enjoy... it lets us act freely in his best interests.  The contract can be broken at anytime anyone wants to end their side of the agreement.  I swear, none of this involves taking advantage of him, or doing anything that would hurt him.  I told you, we all love him too much for that."  She retrieved a clean diaper from a stacker hanging beside the table, and had Timmy lift up so she could position it under him.  When she had him properly centered, she took the lotion and powder from their shelf and began applying them to his diaper region.


"You said it was also like being married.  Does that mean...?"  gestured at the organ in question, which was currently being slathered with lotion, and was therefore quite erect.  In point of fact, I wasn't much less so; I was thankful my skirt hid my arousal.  Jackie nodded in answer to my question.


"Oh, yes, we're all free to do that anytime we want."  Timmy opened his eyes and nodded vigorously.  Jackie laughed.  "Not right now, silly thing!  Aunt Michelle's learning how to get you changed now.  There'll be plenty of time for that later on... it's not like you won't have to be changed again before bed, is it?" He shrugged and squiggled again.  If one could somehow ignore his outstanding maleness, he really was adorable.  I felt better knowing that he was still treated as an adult in that way, if in no other... I'd felt uncomfortable thinking of him as a child while being so attracted to him; I'm a lot of things, but a pedophile isn't one of them.  Still, best to keep things innocent.  Jackie was trusting me with something very dear to her, to all of them, no matter the fact that I'd coerced her into it, and I was determined that I would not betray that trust.  "Anyway, that's about all there is to it.  If he acts up a little, just give his hands something to do and give him his pacifier.  If he's really being naughty, a light pop on his hip will generally be sufficient.  Anything more than that, and you can tell me about it.  I think we ALL know what that means, don't we?" That last was directed at Timmy, who nodded his understanding.  She sprinkled him liberally with powder, and pulled the diaper between his legs before pinning it in place.  "There we are, all snuggly and dry.  Isn't that nice?" Timmy murred and nodded.  At her direction, he lifted his feet and was threaded into his plastic pants.


 She patted her side, and he climbed down and threw his arms around her waist in a massive hug.  Jackie suggested that we retire to the living room, and Timmy crawled after us, the pacifier's ribbon having been transferred from the table to a pin on his shirt.  We sat on the couch and chatted while Timmy played around near our feet.  His play was interesting, somewhere between feline pouncing games and babyish tomfoolery.  Jackie offered me tea, and I accepted.  She went off to fetch it, which left me alone with Timmy.  He was batting a ball around at the moment, letting it dart away and then pouncing on it.  He misjudged a swipe, and the ball ricocheted just past my face.  Old reflexes kicked in, and I plucked the ball out of the air, tossing it back to Timmy.  He crawled over and sat down in front of me.


"You catched it good." He said gravely.  I nodded.


"I played baseball when I was little." I explained.  Timmy giggled, and looked at me oddly.


"That's silly.  Girls don't play ball!" He protested.


"And why not?" I asked, "Nothing says a girl can't play ball."


"But they don't!" He persisted.


"Maybe they don't usually, but I certainly did.  I was pretty good at it, too.  Want to play catch?" He nodded, then frowned.


"Not allowed to.  Not inside."


"Well, I'm sure we'll do it some other time, then." He shrugged.


"Uh-uh, I big boy when goes outside."


"Always?" He nodded.




"So you've never, ever been to the park to play?"


"He refuses to be even mildly babied outdoors." Jackie explained, bringing in a tea tray. "Purrrsonally, I think he's just being a fraidy-cat.  You want to give him his bottle?" She asked, offering me the vessel of creamy fluid.  I looked at Timmy, who seemed at best uncertain.  I



"Why not?" I took the bottle and patted my lap.  Timmy stretched out on the couch, and I cradled his head in my arms.  He was tense at first, but the second the nipple touched his lips, he relaxed, and melted into my arms as trustingly as any other infant.  It felt wonderful to hold him, to feel his living warmth pressing into me, to feel him breathing, knowing that he trusted me.  I rocked him slowly back and forth, humming softly a sweet lullaby I'd thought I'd forgotten, and watched the level of the liquid in his bottle slowly drop.  I knew it then, for the first time, that I could never let him go.  His smell filled my lungs, the smell of a baby, of talc and lotions and the faint, not-unpleasant hint of newly-wetted diapers, and underlying it all, that scent that promised everything male, everything desirable, everything I'd ever wanted.  I looked up momentarily from Timmy to find Jackie sitting there with tears dripping from her fur.


"Oh, don't worry, silly, I do this every time.  I'll talk to Misha tomorrow, and we'll get you put on the contract."  She padded over and bent down to kiss me on the cheek.


"What was that for?" I asked softly.


"Just greeting my new sister." she explained, "You're one of us now.  I can see it in your face when you look at him."  I laughed, as a new scent, one not quite as pleasant, began to fill the air.


"Then what do you say we change him again?  I think someone had an accident."  She shook her head.


"No, let his stay there for a while.  Look, he's asleep."  She was right, of course, he'd fallen asleep before his bottle was half finished.  "It won't hurt him to be a messy baby for a little while, and he's so absolutely adorable when he's sleeping."


"He is, isn't he?" I agreed. 


We talked about this and that while Timmy slumbered, and most of the conversation revolved around him.  I learned the names of his stuffed animals, and which ones he wouldn't go to bed without, and she let me know about which foods he'd eat and which would I'd end up wearing.  She bluntly told me that as far as she was concerned (and she was fairly confident that she spoke for everyone), I was just as much a mate and mother to Timmy as anyone else, so what happened while Timmy was being changed was completely between me and Timmy, within reasonable bounds.  I'd be taking over Tanya's slot in the rotation, which brought us to another subject.  Her.  It seemed that Timmy had been very close to her, closer than he'd been to anyone else.  She was the one who'd discovered his stash of baby things, and she was the first to diaper him, the first to hold him and rock him and make sure he understood that nobody was angry with him for being what he was, that she loved him, all of him.  Misha had gone along with it easily enough, but Misha was Misha... quiet, distant Misha, loving but not the same.  She'd come to love that side of him, in time, but Tanya was the one who had accepted it immediately, who had indulged him without question.  He was shattered when she died, and he still wasn't really acting himself.  They all avoided mentioning her as much as they could, to try and avoid causing him any more pain.  I could understand, now, why they had seemed to resent my presence at work at first.


"Everyone loved Tanya," Jackie finished, "She was the kind of person you couldn't NOT love, if you know what I mean." I nodded.  "But none of that is your fault.  Just try not to bring the subject up around little ears and you should be fine.  Anything else you need to know?"


"Is there anything in the contract  that says he CAN'T go outside as a baby?"  I asked.  She thought about it.


"No," She replied hesitantly, "I don't think there is.  Mostly he just doesn't want to, and we aren't going to force him to do something he doesn't want to."


"No, of course not.  I was just curious."


"Curiosity killed the cat." She said with an evil grin.


"Yes, but satisfaction brought her back." I added, with a smile of my own.  My new infantile charge shifted and began to stir lazily from my lap, his nap apparently over.  We led him back to the changing table, and he obediently hopped up on it.


"Do you want to do it this time?" She asked, doubtfully, "I mean, he gets pretty messy..." I just laughed.


"I think it's my turn, anyway, and I have to get used to changing him, don't I?"  She shrugged.


"If that's the way you want it, go right ahead."  Timmy was paying close attention, and I think he might have been a little nervous.  To be honest, so was I.  I spent a couple of minutes tickling and playing with him before getting started, and we both relaxed a little.  I had him lift his legs so I could slide the plastic pants off of him, and they revealed a yellowish-white diaper with a wide streak off brown around the seat.  She wasn't kidding when she said he was a mess to clean up!  Oh, well, nothing for it but to get it over with.  I had him put himself back down, and undid the pins on either side.  Taking a quick breath, I brought the front of the sopping diaper down off of him and laid it down, exposing his mess.  It wasn't as bad as I'd been expecting... it wasn't a field of roses, but it wasn't that bad.  I used as much of the diaper as I could to wipe him clean, then started in with the wipes.  They were a fairly new innovation, developed specifically for morphed infants, so they did a much better job of cleaning his fur than I had expected.  Several wipes later, every inch of his diaper area had been cleaned, and he lay there awaiting a fresh diaper.  He lifted so I could put the diaper under him, and lay back while I lotioned him.


Perhaps I hadn't mentioned, but this wasn't the first time I'd applied lotion to a grown male.


I took my time about it, being soft and slow and gentle.  He knew what I was doing, and when I asked him if he wanted me to continue, he looked at Jackie for permission.  She nodded, and mentioned that she had a few things she had to do.  She left the two of us to finish up.  In mere seconds, I had Timmy writhing.  I'd never held anything so massive in my life.


"Little one likes getting changed, doesn't he?" I asked, rhetorically.  I considered what I was going to do when he climaxed...  probably best to be practical about it.  I reached over and grabbed a small towel, and spread it over his belly in anticipation.  Long, hard strokes, now, and his back arched with each.  He'd been well trained, and didn't try to force things by thrusting.  I'd known submissives, but never had I met someone who was willing to be so passive during sex.  "Does baby know how to talk?" I cooed at him, trying to break his silence.  He murred in the back of his throat, and I rewarded him with a faster pace.


It was as if that one sound broke the dam.  He gave voice to his pleasure in baritones and rumbles that no human could reproduce, snarling like the wild thing whose guise he bore, roaring at his climax with a force that reverberated through me to my very core, an intensity that seemed to carry his pleasure with it.


I cleaned him off while he lay there, basking in the warm after- glow, and had him powdered and diapered in no time at all.  It wasn't until I had his plastic pants on him and Jackie had returned that I realized that I might have stolen her thunder.  I tried to apologize, but she just laughed.


"Oh, don't worry about it." She came over and patted Timmy on the front of his diapers, earning a quiet "erf" from the oversized cub.  "There are advantages to being a lion-morph... He's quite insatiable."  Oh, God, that was ALL I needed to hear.  "Why don't you go home, dear?" She suggested, seeing my state, "You've have quite a few surprises, you've helped me with the baby... You've adopted a new cub.  I think that's enough for one night, don't you?" I nodded.  I stayed long enough to help her get Timmy into his PJ's and off to sleep, curled up in his crib with yet another bottle, then drove myself home.


I walked though the door, and nearly collapsed.  What a night!  I felt my penis still resolutely pushing against my panties, and, giggling, I traipsed into the kitchen to fix myself a drink before bed.  As I sipped my drink, I let my hand slide down to my crotch, and idly began to stroke myself, thinking of Timmy as I did so.  I wondered what to do about him, for a while, anyway, but then I got a little wrapped up in what I was doing, and decided to retire to the bedroom to finish.


There was an impromptu party at work the next day as I signed the contract with a flourish.  Jackie wasn't the only one with tears in her eyes, and I'll admit that my own cheeks were slightly damp by the time everyone was finished congratulating me.  Timmy was there, though he was dressed for work.  Since it was about lunchtime, and nobody but us lionesses were around, they gave me the honor of feeding him.  I cut his meat up into tiny bites (in proportion to his mouth, that is... they were still huge by my own standards) and fed it to him piece by piece, then started in on the mashed potatoes.  Then, of course, I had to clean the white streaks out of his mane before he got sent off to work.


I returned to my own work after the party, but I kept being interrupted by my coworkers, who insisted on regaling me with this or that story of life with Baby Timmy.  I finally gave up on getting anything accomplished, and spent the rest of the day chatting.  One of the nicest bits of it all was that I'd been given a place in the rotation, as well as a voucher for furniture and expenses related to Timmy.


"This isn't a company expense voucher." I noticed, when they handed it to me.


"Of course not, silly." One of the girls giggled, "That'd be illegal.  It comes from Timmy's paycheck."


"His paycheck covers all this?" They shrugged.


"He IS an executive, after all, and he doesn't exactly need it for anything else, does he?" My turn in the rotation came up at the end of the month, which gave me almost two weeks to do all my shopping.  I wondered where I'd ever find such exotic furniture (or rather, such mundane furniture in such an exotic size), when Misha dropped by my cubicle with a booklet.  She looked at the three of us who'd been chatting, and I blushed guiltily.


"That's alright Michelle, I didn't expect them to let you work today." She assured me, "This is a list of the people we generally do business with.  You aren't required to use it, but I thought it might be helpful."


"So my furniture will be about the same as everyone else's?" She shook her head.


"Not at all.  You can order a copy of what someone else has if you like, but for the most part all of the furniture is custom made... you can have it done in any style you care for." She handed me the booklet and left.  She ducked back in a second later, and gave the two lionesses who'd been chatting with me the icy stare she was famous for.  "I said that I didn't expect Michelle to get anything done today.  I don't believe I included the two of you in that, did I?" With near-identical gulps, they rose and left to return to their duties.  "Oh, Michelle, I just want to congratulate you again.  Welcome to the family." With that, Misha left me alone to peruse the booklet.


I went window shopping at the mall that evening, checking through all the children's stores to see what I might need for my new child.  There was the obvious, of course, diapers and bottles and such, but I thought it might be nice for him to have some play-clothes, and I definitely wanted to buy him something to play with.  I ended up making a few purchases at the mall anyway, despite my self-assurances that I was only looking.  Once I started walking down the aisles of the toy stores, my resolve went out the window, as I imagined how much fun Timmy would have playing with some of the things I found.  I ended up getting toys ranging from stacking rings and blocks to those intended for older children.  Of course, I'd have to watch him and make sure he wasn't inclined to put them in his mouth first, since even the toddler toys that were designed to prevent choking weren't made with a grown lion-morph in mind.  Still, from what the others had told me I shouldn't have to worry.  He may be orally fixated, but he still retained his self-preservation instincts.


I made a list when I got home, and started choosing vendors when I got home, after I packed away all of Timmy's new toys.  Actually... I have to admit that Timmy got some of the toys slightly used.  The toys were just so neat, though, that I couldn't resist taking them out and trying them. I'm sure Timmy didn't mind.


At any rate, I started making my calls the next day after work.  They didn't seem at all surprised at what I wanted, and they promised that they'd deliver well before my turn rolled around.  That left me wondering where I was going to put it all once I got it.  I figured that for the moment I could set the crib up in my computer room, but I realized that I was going to need more space soon.  I'd have to look at moving into a bigger apartment, which wouldn't be that much of a problem, since my complex had units available in a wide range of sizes.


Speaking of a wide range of sizes, I needed Timmy's measurements so I could get started fashioning him some appropriate clothing.  It took some tracking, but I finally found someone who knew them.  It seemed that most of Timmy's 'mommies' were comfortable letting him run around in just his diaper inside the confines of home.  That was all well and fine, but I knew that a cute outfit could make a world of difference in attitude.  A visit to my favorite fabric store would be in order... I'd noticed several wonderful bolts of material that I thought I'd never find a use for, not having many friends with children.  Little had I guessed I'd end up with a child of my own!


Between ordering furniture, stocking up on bottles and supplies, receiving a huge box full of fluffy white diapers and colorful plastic pants, and tackling a mountain of sewing, the weeks passed rather quickly.  I only saw Timothy a few times at work, and then only passing him in the hall, but there was no repeat of that first uneasy meeting in the break room.  He seemed grim and serious, but I'd been warned that he was always like that at work, a total contrast to his babyish self.  The only exception was when he was being changed in the HR bathroom, an experience I hadn't yet been privy to.  I thought perhaps he was avoiding me for some reason, but I quickly learned that when it came time to be changed, Timmy generally didn't play favorites, but asked the first of his 'mommies' he ran into.  And since he was usually in a different department... it made sense that I wouldn't get the opportunity to change him at work that often.


The night finally came, and I was so nervous as I waited for Maria to drop Timmy off that I thought I might need a diaper myself.  I was checking to make sure I had everything I needed for the third time when I heard a strong knocking on my door.  When I opened the door, I found Timmy fidgeting nervously behind Maria, still dressed in his business suit from work.  I invited them in, but Maria begged off, glancing over her shoulder to where her car was parked, still running.  To my surprise, there was a man behind the wheel, watching us.  Maria handed over Timmy's overnight bag, and patted him on his rear, telling him to be good for me.  Timmy mumbled something to the affirmative, and Maria flounced off back to her car, which sped off as soon as she closed the door.  Timmy watched her leave, and I thought he might burst into tears.


"Well, come on." I said in the most motherly voice I could manage, "You can't stay out here all day, can you?" He followed me inside, and I led him to the living room.  "Come here and sit next to me."  He did so, but he seemed uncomfortable.  "Timmy, I'm not going to bite you." I admonished.  "What's the matter?"


"Well, I.." He rumbled uncertainly, "I'm not sure." I shook my head.


"While you're thinking about it, we might as well get you out of that suit.  Have you been dressed like this all day?" He nodded. "Even at Maria's?"


"She said I could wear it until we came over here.  She didn't want to have to get me dressed again so soon." He explained.


"Well, now you're here.  Let's get it off of you." I started to unbutton his jacket, but he pulled away.  I sighed.  "Look, Timmy, I've changed your diapers, remember?  I think I'm qualified to get you undressed. Now come here."  He still sat apart from me.  I couldn't understand what had come over him.  I shook my head.  "I'm not going to force you into this, Timothy.  I thought you liked being a baby."


"I do." He affirmed, "But.."




"You're... um..."


"I have a penis, Timmy." I was as blunt as I could be, "But that doesn't mean much.  Now, I'm not expecting anything from you.  If you don't want me to play with yours while I change you, I won't.  All I want right now is to be your Mommy.  And that's just what I'm going to do.  Now come here and let me get you out of that suit." He allowed me to undress him, and soon he was left in nothing but his diapers and plastic pants.  A quick prodding proved what I was fairly sure of, namely that he was soaked.


I was true to my word, and I changed him with a minimum of fuss, cleaning him off and coating him in lotion and powder as non-erotically as that can be done.  Once he was diapered again, I decided to put him in one of the rompers I'd sewn for him.  He was surprised when I brought it out, and put up a little bit of a fight, but once I wrestled him into it and showed him his reflection in a mirror, he obviously fell in love with it.  That was the end of his awkwardness towards me, as he dove straight into infancy and stayed there for the rest of the night.


"Did Maria feed you dinner?" I asked when I had him dressed and comfortable.  He just looked up at me with wide, innocent eyes, and I decided to rephrase the question, "Has baby had his din-din?" I cooed, and he chortled and giggled as he shook his head.  "Well, then, let's get you fed, shall we?"  I led him into the kitchen and settled him into his high-chair as I set about making dinner.  I gave him a couple of toys to play with and he babbled and gurgled at me until the food was ready.


Feeding him was every bit the challenge I was warned it would be.  Only half of the food on his spoon made it to his mouth when he tried to feed himself, and of that, only half stayed in long enough to be swallowed.  I was glad I'd thought to order his bibs even larger than the ones I'd seen Jackie put him in.  After letting him feed himself for a few minutes, which the others suggested I do, mostly just for my own amusement, as it made him look absolutely precious, I took the spoon and did the job myself.  Of course, he still managed to make a mess, mostly because he wouldn't open his mouth unless I did the old "airplane" bit.  I debated for a few moments whether it would be wise to give him his bath right after dinner, since he'd definitely be in need of one, to get the food out of his mane.  I knew, though, that if he really was completely incontinent, he'd probably be messy within a few hours of feeding, and I decided it would be better to bathe him then, to keep him as clean as possible for as long as possible.


So, when dinner was finished and I'd cleaned his face and mane as well as a wet wash-cloth can manage, I took him back to the living room and spread out a blanket for him to play on.  He explored his new toys and I sat on the couch, watching him as I read a book.  As I'd expected, within the hour a certain familiar smell began to fill the room, and I smiled knowingly at Timmy as he looked up at me bashfully.


"Does you have a messy diddy?" I asked playfully.  He nodded, sucking on his lower lip.  "That's ok, sweetie, go climb up on the changing table."  He crawled off with me in close pursuit, and in short order, I had his diaper off and his bottom as clean as I could manage.  "Guess what?" I prompted as I plopped his diaper into the waiting bucket.  He looked up at me questioningly, and I continued, "It's bathtime!" He grinned and kicked his feet, and I led him into the bathroom and had him climb into my tub.


Washing a male-lion in a tub designed for a human was an interesting experience, to say the least.  I got him shampooed all over, then realized I didn't have any real way of getting him rinsed, since the water in the tub had long since turned a dingy dishwater grey.  I ended up turning the showerhead on him, giving him a sort of sitting-shower, which he apparently thought to be great fun, to judge by his giggles and squirming.  Of course, I was at least as wet as he was by the time the whole thing was over, and I toweled the both of us dry as he got out.  Four towels later, I gave up and started blow-drying him.


He was really enjoying the attention, and I could practically hear him purr as the warm air drew the moisture out from around his skin.  I was about half-way finished when he gave an embarrassed little squeak and I heard the patter of water streaming onto the tiles.  He looked up at me as though expecting me to be angry.  I just shrugged and continued drying him.  There was already an inch of water on the floor anyway, I didn't think his contribution would make that much of a difference.  I'd just have to mop it up when I was finished with him.  When he was dry and fluffed, I had him get back up on the changing table, and I got him snuggled into his diapers and a cute pair of footed pj's, which looked positively priceless with his recently fluffed mane flowing over it.


I decided now was probably as good a time as any to get him into bed.  He protested, of course, but he knew better than to fight as I tucked him into his crib and raised the side up, closing him in.  With him secure in his crib, I left to make the rest of my preparations for bed.  When I came back in, he was blinking sleepily and I was dried off and wearing one of my favorite nightgowns.  He opted to hold his own bottle when given the incentive of a story, and by the time his bottle was empty and I was just getting into the story, he was fast asleep.  I settled his blanket around him again and kissed him on the forehead, and left to clean up the disaster that was my bathroom.  When that was finished, I decided to head to bed myself, though it was still fairly early for my habit.


I woke up in the middle of the night, with the clock glowing three o'clock at me, and decided to check in on my baby.  He was still asleep, of course, and a quick check proved that he was wet, but that was to be expected.  I gave him the bottle I'd prepared, and stood there holding it for him for several minutes, just watching him sleep.  Finally, I propped the bottle up, and went back to bed.


He was awake when I came in to check on him in the morning, but he didn't act fussy or uncomfortable, so I let him stay in his diaper for breakfast.  While I was feeding him, I talked to him, as seriously as I could manage while coaxing him to open the tunnel for the choo-choo, about my plans for the day.


"How would you like to go play in the park today, Timmy?" He mouthed his oatmeal for a moment before answering.


"I don't wanna.  Don't wanna go outside." I was pretty much expecting that answer.


"Sure you do.  Do you want to play ball, and toss the frisbee?" He nodded.  "Well, you know you can't do that inside, right?" He nodded again, looking glum.  "Don't worry, Timmy, I don't plan to take you outside in your baby clothes."


"But I can't wear a suit to the park." He pointed out, momentarily reverting to his adult voice.


"That's why you need something in-between, silly.  When we get done, I'll show you, and then you can decide, ok?" He nodded, just as I was trying to get another spoonful of oatmeal into his mouth, which managed to smear it from his cute triangle of a nose to the bottom of his chin.  I just took the washcloth I had handy and dabbed it away as best I could before giving him his bottle for a few minutes, to wash down the oatmeal.


After breakfast, I led him back to the changing table and got him into a clean diaper, which he was definitely in need of.  I noted the level of diapers in the bucket, and realized that I'd need to have them laundered fairly soon.  For the moment, though, I just let the lid drop back down and had Timmy climb down onto the floor while I dug out the outfit I wanted him to wear.


Timmy was amazed by what I pulled out for him.  I wanted him to have fun and be himself outside, but I didn't want to put him though the humiliation of being taken outside in diapers and a T-shirt, or even his romper, so I'd had some play-clothes made for him.  They weren't terribly obvious, a T-shirt in colorful dinosaur patterns, and a pair of slightly puffy blue shorts.  The shirt was obviously childish, but nothing that you couldn't get away with, and the only thing that was obvious about the shorts is how much volume they had... a necessity for fitting them comfortably over his diapers.  I had him lift his arms and down came the shirt, followed by him rolling onto his back and kicking his feet in the air so I could pull the shorts up.  A pair of powder blue ankle-socks and sneakers that I'd sown toy truck decals on completed the outfit.  He was as cute as cute could be, but not so obvious that anyone would give him a hard time about it.


"What do you think, Timmy?  Should I take my little diapered boy to the park to play?" He looked up at me and grinned with those sabre-like teeth of his, a sight that would have been frightening only a month ago. "Well, come on then, kitten, let's go pack, shall we?"


About an hour later, we were in my car and on the way to the park.  I could tell that Timmy was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but after just a few minutes of driving, he had drifted off to sleep, lulled by the rumble of the engine.  For the first time since I'd gotten it, I was really glad that I drove a station wagon, because I knew he'd need to be changed almost as soon as we got there. 


He woke up when I opened his door to unbuckle him, and looked up at me with a fuzzy, drowsy smile.  I checked him, just to confirm what I was already sure of, and found him to be thoroughly soaked.  I left him where he was, and began converting my vehicle into a changing table.  First, the back seats went down and clicked into place, then the front seats went forward as far as they would go.  I put down the armrest in the middle of the front seat to allow room for his head, then began drawing the shades in the back.  A sunvisor across the windshield, and we were now nicely hidden from prying eyes.


He obediently followed me around and climbed into the back of the station wagon.  I guided him into the only possibly comfortable position, and managed to close the back gate without catching his feet.  It was a little cramped, but it would work, I decided, pulling a clean disposable out and working a changing pad up under him.


When we were done, he climbed back out, his diaper rustling all the way, and I handed him the diaper bag and picnic basket.  Timmy was a bit subdued as we looked for a good spot to spread out blanket, especially when we passed other people.  Nobody commented, though, and aside from a few strange looks, we didn't have any problems finding the right place.  I spread out our blanket, had Timmy set down the diaper bag and basket, then dug around in the basket until I found the gloves and ball I'd stashed in there.


Catch gave way to frisbee, which in turn, led to lunchtime.  I'd carefully chosen foods that Timmy wouldn't have too much trouble with, so he didn't look too terribly babyish when he finished eating.  Of course, lunchtime became naptime fairly quickly, with a little help from the soft, warm grass he was lying on and a nice bottle-full of chocolate milk.  I sat and enjoyed the beautiful day, checking on Timmy every now and again, when he'd mutter and turn over in his sleep.  A few people waved as they went past, but for the most part, we were isolated.  This was not by accident.  Timmy was going to need to be changed, and I didn't feel like taking him all the way back to the car to do it.


Timmy woke up after his nap ready for more playing.  I let him romp around the glade on his own for a while, then tossed him a soccer ball.  With a playful "rar" he leapt on it, causing it to bounce away.  He was as absolutely adorable as could be, crouching low, his tail waving behind him, his padded bottom sticking up, waiting to pounce on the ball as soon as it came to a rest.  Satisfied that he'd be kept busy for a minute, I began getting out all the things I'd need to change him. When he left his ball and came over to me with that bashful look on his face, I was ready.


"Did my baby get his diddies messy?" He nodded, and I took him by the hand and led him to where I wanted him.


I had him lay down on the changing pad I'd spread, which was hidden from view on one side by a conveniently placed bush and on another side by the tree we'd been sitting under.  Now all I had to do was listen for approaching footsteps, and we'd be safe.  I pulled Timmy's pants off of him, which occasioned much squirming and looking around.


"Oh, be still, Timmy.  I want to make this as quick as possible, and I think you do, too, don't you?" He nodded, and behaved from then on. I untaped his diaper and pulled it away, then had him lift up so I could wipe as much of him off as possible with the back.  Several wipes later, his rear was clean, and I had him lay back down so I could clean his front.  If I hadn't known better, I'd have sworn Timmy was enjoying his little bout of exhibitionism, at least, that's how it looked from where I was sitting.  But there wasn't time to do anything about that at the moment, even if he was willing, so I just got him cleaned, lotioned, powdered, and back into a nice clean diaper again.  I was half tempted to send him back out to play as he was, but I knew it would be cruel, even if nobody was around just then.  I pulled his shorts back up from his ankles and over his diaper, and sent him off again with a firm swat on his rear.  He went back to pouncing his ball while I got everything cleaned up again.


A nearby rustling woke me, and I realized that I, too, had been lulled into napping by the gentle warmth of the afternoon.  Standing over me, near enough that I didn't dare to move, were two young men, both of disreputable appearance.  A butterfly knife appearing in hand, as though

by magic, confirming my prejudice.


"Your purse." Was the answer to my unspoken question, and I handed it over soundlessly, praying that they would leave it at that.  Not for the first time I regretted the frail nature that made my deception possible, but also left me at the mercy of vagabonds such as these.


Their idiot grins left no doubt as to their intentions, as they leered down at my legs.  What they had in mind was terrible, but I could only imagine what action they would take when they discovered my little secret.  I doubted that I would enjoy it, whatever may come.  I gave vent to a terrified shriek as the blade flashed and I heard my skirt rip.  I felt a strange warmth at my waist, where the cloth had been parted, and realized that I'd been cut.  It was the strangest sensation, stinging a little, but not really painful.  The fellow with the knife handed it to his friend, who was busy ransacking my purse, and began to unzip his pants.


"Go ahead, little girl, scream all you like.  Ain't nobody gonna hear you."  The very seclusion I'd chosen this spot for was now proving fatally convenient.  He jerked my skirt down, and just stared for a moment at what was revealed.  "You.. you fucking perv!" He backhanded me across my face, and I tumbled to the side, rolling with the momentum as best I could.  "I'll fucking kill you, queer!"


He didn't get the chance to make good on his threat, however. 


"Mommy?" Timothy inquired, "Are these gentlemen bothering you?"  The contrast between his appearance and his voice was almost as great as between his words and his face.  He stood there, quivering with a barely contained rage, speaking in a voice I'd only heard once before, when he'd cornered me in the break room that first time.  He sounded then as he did now, like a male lion about to savage a challenger.


"Timmy, get out of here," I ordered, doing my best to hide the fact that I was bleeding, "One of them has a knife!"


"Yeah, shitty-pants, better listen to your Mommy." The knife-wielder menaced, "It'd be a real shame to get your cute little sissy self all cut up." The other, being perhaps the more intelligent of the two, chose to put faith in Timothy's leonine nature, rather than his obvious childishness.


"Listen man, let's just get out of here, ok?" He suggested to his partner in an anxious whisper, "I mean, we got the dude's money, so let's just go?"


"Are you nuts?  I ain't backin' down from no pissy-pants queer-fuck like him!  They're just a couple of pansy fags!"  In an unbelievably swift motion, Timothy rushed forward, body-checking the knife-bearer into a tree the way I'd seen hockey players slam each other into the rink.  He splayed his claws across the punks face, digging them into his flesh, causing five tiny rivers of blood to flow like tears down his face.


"You have a knife." He admitted, "But I have five on each hand.  Want to see the rest?"  The knife fell from nerveless fingers.  Timothy pulled the man away from the tree, and twisted him into an armhold, facing him toward me.  "You will apologize to my Mother."


"You're fucked, man.  That ain't a woman." Timmy pulled the man's arm higher up his back, and his scream almost covered the sickening sound of his arm pulling out of its socket.


"I didn't ask for your opinion.  You will apologize."  If Timmy was this determined in the boardroom, it was no wonder that he was so successful.


By this point, my assailant could barely string three words together, but he managed to choke an apology out between his bleeding lips.  His body spasmed, and he coughed up blood, staining the leaves a color premature for this late summers day.  Timmy released his grip, and the man sagged to the ground.  My savior turned to the other, and held out his hand.  Wisely, the boy, for I saw now that I was no longer in the grip of terror that neither of them could be older than twenty, returned my purse as well as the money he'd taken from it.


"You should get medical attention for your friend.  I wouldn't mention any of this to anyone though... should the matter come up in court, I happen to be a competent lawyer as well.  When I finished with you in the courtroom, you'd wish I'd just mauled you, do you understand?" The boy nodded, and ran off, leaving his injured friend behind.  "Are you alright?"  He finally asked me.  I nodded, and tried to stand up.  The world went blurry, though, and as I hit the ground, the world just seemed to fade to white.


"Mr. Gond?  Michael, can you hear me?"  Reality came back into focus rather slowly.  A man in a lab-coat gradually became clear to me.


"Where?" The doctor smiled.


"You're in a hospital, Mr. Gond, but you'll be just fine.  You lost a good bit of blood, which we replaced, and we managed to sew up the knife wound.  You'll be just fine." He repeated.


"What about..." I realized that it was probably a good idea to avoid saying anything until I knew what had happened.


"They arrested the two boys who did this to you.  One of them was in pretty bad shape... do you have a black-belt in something?"


"I... um, no." He smiled.


"Well, you just lay there and rest, and you'll be ready to go in just a few hours.  You'll need to take it easy... you _did_ loose a lot of blood... but otherwise you'll be fine... just fine."  He started to walk out, and I closed my eyes again.  "Oh," He interrupted my reverie, "There are some people out here who would like to see you."  He opened the door, and Misha walked in, followed by Timothy, who was dressed in his office attire.


"I hear you had quite an adventure." Misha noted with a wry twist to her muzzle, "There are a couple of police officers outside who would like to ask you a few questions."  Timmy and I exchanged looks, and I nodded.


"That's odd... I can't remember anything about it.  It's just a huge blank from the moment my skirt was ripped... I tend to faint at the sight of blood, you know." Misha smiled.


"Well, just try to tell them anything you DO remember.  Timmy is staying with me for the moment, but when you're feeling better, you can take some of my time to make up for it." They left then, to allow the police to come in and ask their questions, and Misha ducked her head back in, as she had a habit of doing, "And do be more careful, my dear.  A young woman such as yourself shouldn't go about alone these days."   With a final  encouraging smile, she left.


The police were very gentle in their questioning, and when I related my abbreviated story to them, they didn't push the matter, though I could tell that they didn't quite believe me.  They left with their mystery unsolved, but I wasn't terribly worried.  I was certain that, whatever else might be said, at least one of the two wouldn't be threatening anyone for a long time.


The doctor sent me home shortly before midnight, with instructions to rest.  I had every intention of ignoring his advice, but when the taxi dropped me off at my apartment, it was all I could do to make it up the stairs and into bed before I collapsed from exhaustion.


Work went by in a kind of haze, and when Misha dropped in and suggested I go home, I didn't argue.  To my surprise, Timothy was waiting for me at my car.  He held out his paw, and I handed over my keys, knowing that it would be far safer for him to drive in the event that I should pass out on the way home.  My lethargy had increased to a point where I imagined I could feel the effort of keeping my heart beating, and when Timothy lifted me out of my seat and carried me in, I didn't have the strength to object. A glass of orange juice was pressed into my hands, and I found the will to raise it to my lips and drink.  It was thick and pulpy, with a distinct bitter tinge.


"It's dissolved iron, for your blood." Timmy informed me, guessing my question.  The difference it made was amazing, and almost immediate.  I felt a measure of strength surge through me, and I staggered to my bed with no assistance.  I lay down to rest, and Timmy pulled up a chair.  In the back of my mind, I thought to wonder about the state of his diapers, but I realized that I not only lacked the strength to change him, I couldn't really get up the urge to bother to check him.  So I just lay there, and after a  few minutes of looking uncomfortable, Timmy spoke up.


"I want to apologize for the way I acted when I first came over here.  I've been playing at being a baby for so long, some things are second nature to me.  One such thing is accepting what I'm told by my "mothers" as the gospel truth.  Maria... had a few things to say about you, about... the way you are.  She told me that it was a sin to allow you to..." I nodded.


"Timmy, I have a male body," I began to explain, but he shook his head.


"I don't care anymore.  If my lifestyle was going to in some way  upset God, I think it would have done so by now.  The fact that you're male in body is no more relevant than the fact that I'm physically an adult.  It's awkward, at times, but not really important when it counts.  I've talked to Misha about this, and she agrees that if Maria can't accept that, if she  can't take you as a sister as she's taken me as a child, then we'll ask her to take herself out of the contract."


"That means she'll have to leave work, doesn't it?" I asked.  He shook his head.


"Not in so many words.  She could remain, if she wanted."


"Has anyone ever stayed after being taken out of the contract?"


"Not that I know of." He admitted, "But that'll be a matter of her choice." He checked his watch, and frowned, "I'll need to call someone to take me back to work soon.  You stay here and rest.  Take the next few days off."


"Is that an order, Mr. Executive?" I smiled.


"Sure is... Mommy."


"I'm sorry our day at the park turned out this way." He shrugged.


"I had a good time.  I look forward to the next time I get to stay with you."  He came over, and ran his hand up my leg.  "And next time, perhaps we can be more... comfortable with each other."  I looked up at him, surprised.  "You're my mate, as much as you are my Mommy.  I realized that when they attacked you.  Once I accepted you as female, despite your outward appearance, it was really only a matter of time.  I'm yours now, just as you are mine."


And there it was, the simple truth.  He possessed me, in a way no other man ever had, by allowing me to own him so completely.  So what if I had to share him?  He was mine, and I his, and thus it was and ever would be.