Quickpaw, The College Years #2:

The Gift

By Christian Neumann © 2000


Goldfur, I'm home!" Quickpaw closed the door behind hir. Shi dropped hir bag onto the table and looked around. Shi didn't have to wait long before shi saw hir sister's golden amber head peek out of the door to the nursery.

"Who? Oh, it's you, Quick. Punctual as usual for nursing the little ones." Goldfur grinned.

"Did you really expect that I miss a chance, sis?" Quickpaw replied. Shi walked over to the nursery, already shedding hir halter-top. Shi entered the room to see little Stonefur in Goldfur's arms, drinking greedily. "So, who is left?" Quickpaw winked. A grey whirlwind was the answer dashing towards hir. Quickpaw leaned down to meet the other twin. Shi gently lifted hir niece up and the cub eagerly began hir meal. A smile of deep contentment spread over Quickpaw's face.

"Give my baby sister a nursery full of little ones to feed and you'd just see hir walking around in full bliss with no more needs in the world." Goldfur laughed. Quickpaw smirked at hir older sister.

"Yeah, right. Guess what, sis. I do have other interests, too."

"I know. I just like to tease you with it. Thanks for helping out though. Lupu is doing some shopping for the flight next week."

"So you're still planning to fly to California next week?" Quickpaw asked.

"As a matter of fact, yes. I really want to see Malena and Blaze again. Lupu will also come along this time. She feels it's time that she reclaims the right to be part of her old pack again and the little ones are now old enough to travel."

"Good. I'll come along, too." Quickpaw announced. Goldfur almost stared at hir.

"You want to do what?" shi replied, startled.

"I'll come along, sis. I'm ready for a vacation and school has finished today for the summer holidays."

"And wholl pay for your flight, little sister?" Goldfur asked, getting a big grin from hir sister.

"You!"

"How did you get the idea that Id pay?

"Because you promised me a treat when you all left for Chakona and I couldn't come along because of school, remember?" Quickpaw explained. "You said, that you would take me on a trip when I concluded the semester with high results." Goldfur nodded. Shi remembered that hir young sister had been quite upset when almost the whole family had taken a trip to Chakona for Ember's birth and shi had to stay behind.

"True. I remember. So what are your results, Quick? I won't pay for nothing."

Quickpaw chuckled. "I have the report card in my bag. Three finals with an A, two with a B, one with an A-. Do those qualify for a flight?"

Goldfur slowly nodded. "Yes, they do. But why do you want so badly to come along there? I get the feeling that this isn't just a pleasure trip."

Quickpaw nodded. "Yep, you're right. Ive saved some money. When we're in the Foxtaur village, I'll get me a round trip to New Canaveral. Brightsong told me about the college shi graduated from, and I want to visit it and have a look around. Brightsong also said that it's the best for midwifery." Goldfur nodded in thought.

"I see. So are you planning to enrol in this college when you finish school here?"

Quickpaw nodded. "It's very likely. I've still got to talk to our parents about it, but I want to have my own impression of the place first. I don't think that Ill be able to return home often if I decide to study there. Three years can be a long time."

"I agree, three years is a long time." Goldfur replied. "Okay, Ill try to get you a ticket for our flight."

Quickpaw beamed at hir sister. "Thanks, sis. After this I owe you one." Goldfur shook hir head.

"Nah, I promised you a nice trip and if you can also combine something important with it, that's even better." With that, their talk turned to more mundane matters, while the little ones continued their meal.

*         *         *

One week later they arrived at the foxtaur village. The flight had been uneventful, though the twins had been the stars for the flight attendants. At the airport Quickpaw had checked for the flight shi needed and had booked the ticket. It had come a little cheaper than expected.

"This is great. Now I can even indulge myself a bit while I'm here. I really want to have a look at the tops Forest got at the village," shi announced to Goldfur.

Hir sister chuckled. "Still trying to imitate us, little sister?"

"Oh, you!" Quickpaw started, but then hir expression changed. "You know, I think you're right to an extent." With a vicious grin shi added, "What can I do anyway, when imitating you and Forest at least gives me the little bit of attention I need. Normally you two monopolise all of it." It was Goldfur's turn to start, but before shi was able to voice a reply, Quickpaw stopped hir with a small kiss on the cheek.

"Got you this time, sis. For a change I've beaten you at your own game. Now be nice and admit defeat." shi whispered to Goldfur. Goldfur laughed and that settled the issue.

The welcome in the village had been warm. Malena had been waiting for her mate, little Blaze in her arms, in front of her parents' house. On Goldfur's face was a smile that spoke volumes how shi felt to see hir mate and cub again. Malena placed Blaze on the ground and opened hir arms to Goldfur. They embraced each other tightly in greeting, while Blaze and the twins were sniffing curiously at each other. Lupu and Quickpaw kept a little in the background during this, but were soon included in the welcome.

"Quick! I'm surprised to see you along here." Malena addressed her sister-in-law. "Goldfur told me that Lupu would be coming along, but shi never mentioned you."

"Oh, let's say, shi owed me a vacation. No, seriously. I'm going to check out a college here in California that I might want to go to." Quickpaw answered while giving Malena a greeting hug.

"Oh really? You must tell me more about this later." Then all proceeded inside to greet the rest of the family.

Later Quickpaw was helping Lupu to feed the twins. Goldfur and Malena had excused themselves for the evening.

"So, what's this business about you meeting with your pack again?" Quickpaw asked Lupu. "Goldfur hinted something more serious than just a family visit."

"It is more serious." Lupu answered in her low voice. "It's the first time since I left, that I'll see them again. I left as a lowly bitch with a clouded reputation, but now I'm mated with two cubs. I must re-establish my status in the pack again. To start this process, I must petition the pack leaders for re-entry into the pack. I'm sorry, I can't say more at the moment."

Quickpaw nodded in understanding. After putting the twins to sleep, Quickpaw also went to bed. The next day shi had to get back to the airport early for hir flight. Before shi drifted away in sleep, shi thought about hir future again. Shi had explained to Malena hir plans and why shi wanted to enrol in a college here in the States instead of Australia. Shi had to admit to hirself that Goldfur's tease at the airport was a little bit too close to the truth. Shi really had to try to step out of the shadow of hir sisters and prove that shi was more than a mere copy of them. Shi wanted so much to make them proud of hir.

"The college will be my chance to prove it once and for all." shi told hirself. "If nothing else I'll have to deal with everything on my own, with no backup." Shi sighed and sleep finally caught up with hir.

*         *         *

The college was overwhelming. Quickpaw stood on the plaza in front of the great hall, hir mind still swirling from the impressions. The college resembled more a small town on its own with this plaza as its heart and centre. The hospital belonging to the college had been among the first buildings shi had visited. Hir aunt had been right. This was the place where shi would want to study.

"It's a place that calls to those who have the vocation." Brightsong had said to hir. "When you're there you'll know what I mean." Quickpaw saw now what hir aunt had meant. This place was special.

"Now I've only to find out how I can get in here." shi thought. Shi looked around trying to assess which of the students rushing past hir might be a good one to ask. Finally hir eyes fixed on a young raccoon hurrying hir way.

"Excuse me, sir." Quickpaw addressed the suddenly startled raccoon. "I'm searching for the student's office. Can you direct me to it?" The 'coon blinked several times before he answered.

"Oh, sure I can. You see the great hall ahead? Pass it on the left side, turn left at the next building and the one you run into has the office inside. Just follow the signs at the building to the right door." He stopped and glanced over hir again. "You're a chakat, right? I've never seen one of your kind here before."

"Really? Well, if everything works out, there'll be one around in about 7 months." shi grinned as shi answered. "Thanks for the directions."

He grinned in return and nodded. "I've got to catch my next class. Nice to meet you!" He hastened on. Quickpaw turned again towards the great hall and started to walk in the indicated direction. Shi found out that the raccoon had given hir excellent directions and found the office in the next 15 minutes. A sign next to entrance proclaimed the office hours. To hir dismay it told hir that it would be closed for another 2 hours.

"Damn. What am I going to do for two hours?" shi asked hirself. Shi was wandering aimlessly over the campus when an idea hit hir suddenly. Shi remembered a place where shi could go and have lunch as well. Shi walked over to the taxi stand and named hir destination. A few minutes later, shi was on the way to the Gulp'n'Gallop.

*         *         *

Reaching the small diner, Quickpaw paid the driver and stood before the building. Shi grinned in anticipation of seeing the look on a certain vixen's face. Shi took a deep breath and opened the double doors. The noise of a quite full room stopped hir in hir tracks. What shi saw seemed more like organized chaos and a Quange mare was acting like the director in a stage play.

"Carol. That was her name." Quickpaw thought. Shi moved on to an empty seat and settled hirself in. Since Quange were the main customers, the tables and seats were designed for taurs and were quite comfortable.

"Hey, sugah. What can Ah do for you?" Carol was suddenly standing next to hir. "Ah gotta tell you that we don't serve meat here." Quickpaw nodded.

"I know, even though you did serve some at the Christmas party."

"Christmas? Wait a minute. There weren't that many chakats at that party. Only the special guests of Ketta."

"That's correct. I was among those guests. Goldfur's my oldest sister. I'm Quickpaw."

"So what're you doing here? I thought you guys lived in Australia?" Carol asked.

Quickpaw nodded. "Yes, we do, but Goldfur wanted to check on hir mate and cub in the foxtaur village, and I've some business with the local college. However, the student's office is still closed, so I decided to pay a surprise visit and have lunch at the same time."

Carol laughed. "A surprise it certainly is. So what can Ah bring you, sugah?"

"I've no idea, but Chakats are omnivores, not just carnivores, so you've got plenty of scope. What do you recommend?"

"Ok, Ah think Ah know what ta bring you then. Just wait and see." She vanished up back for the order, leaving Quickpaw at hir table. After a short while Carol returned with a tray.

"Here you go. The Gulp'n'Gallop's very own super veggie-burger. This is the same one Ketta got back then when she first arrived here." Quickpaw smiled.

"Thank you very much. Where's Ketta by the way?"

"Oh, you're lucky. She's going on maternity leave in only 2 more days. She should be here shortly."

"Oh really? Right, I forgot that it should be time for her soon." Quickpaw replied. Carol nodded and left to attend to her other customers. Quickpaw started on hir lunch. When shi was almost finished, a familiar foxtaur vixen entered the diner. Quickpaw watched her go out the back only to reappear with an apron on now. The customers greeted her in a friendly manner. Quickpaw grinned as shi saw Carol motioning the vixen to hir table. When Ketta appeared at the table, Quickpaw concentrated very hard on hir lunch.

"How may I help you?" Ketta started, then stopped and Quickpaw couldn't hide hir grin anymore when shi saw the recognition on Ketta's face. "Aren't you? Oh, Makers! Aren't you Goldfur's little sister? Quick, Quick..."

"Quickpaw, yes, you're right. I'm Goldfur's baby-sister."

"What are you doing here? How are you? You were among the last people I would have expected here."

"If you have the time, sit down and I'll tell you." Ketta threw a short glance to Carol, who only nodded. Then she took a seat opposite of Quickpaw.

"Goldfur is visiting Malena and the little one in the village. I travelled along, because I'd to check on the local college. Since I also had some time on my hands I thought I'd pay a surprise visit."

"It was a big surprise. So Goldfur is in the village right now?" Ketta asked.

"Yes, I'll be returning there tonight. My flight leaves about 6pm. I must go to the student's office before that, but they don't open up until 2pm."

"How long will you stay in the village? Stargrey and I will arrive there in 3 days." Quickpaw nodded.

"Carol mentioned that. Goldfur was planning on staying about two weeks. It depends on Lupu, Goldfur's wolftaur mate, and how long she'll need to deal with her family business." shi replied.

"Then you all will still be there when our cub'll be born. We're looking forward to it so much."

"So will you have a chakat style birthing party?" Quickpaw inquired.

"Not really. My parents will be there, as will the parents of my mate. Since it's the first cub in years for hir clan we wouldn't be able to keep them away anyway." Ketta chuckled. "But no, we're planning to keep it rather private otherwise."

Quickpaw nodded. "I understand. I'm still looking forward to see the little one after shi's born. Call it professional curiosity."

"Oh, why?"

"I 'm going to be a nurse specialist in midwifery." Quickpaw looked at the clock. "Oops! Look at the time! Can you get me the bill and a taxi, please. I must get going or I'll miss my flight tonight." Ketta got up and fetched the check.

"Here, $5.39 with service and tip." she winked. "As for the taxi..." She turned to the centre of the room. "Anyone here who is going by the college? My friend here needs a ride."

"I can take her." a Quange announced "But I'm leaving now."

"Fine with us." Ketta shouted back and turned back to face Quickpaw, who was already getting up.

"So well see each other again in the village." Quickpaw said and gave Ketta a short hug. Ketta nodded and watched the chakat leaving the diner.

*         *         *

A few days later the news spread that Ketta had given birth to a wonderful, little chakat cub, whom they named Nikol. Mother and child were both healthy and doing well.

"Now it's time to make my plan reality." Quickpaw thought. Shi had safely returned from hir trip late in the night. Shi had acquired all the necessary papers and forms to apply for entry to the college. Shi had also told Goldfur about hir visit to the Gulp'n'Gallop and hir talk with Ketta. However, shi hadn't told hir what shi had planned for the new parents. Shi had only thought of it after getting back from hir side trip and thought about the consequences of some of things that Ketta had told hir. Shi found Goldfur in the den shi shared with Malena.

"Ah! Here you are. Did you hear that Ketta's cub has been born?"

"Yes, the village hasn't talked about anything else today." Goldfur replied.

Quickpaw smirked. "Now, don't be unfair. Of course it's an event when another foxtaur-chakat hybrid is born. Why don't you come along to congratulate the new parents. I promise you a surprise." Goldfur thought about it, but finally agreed. Both sisters left for the house of Ketta's family, after they had made sure that someone watched the cubs. When they arrived, they were greeted by Ketta's aunt, Delrosa, who was waiting for them at the door.

"I was wondering when you would show up. They're in the main den." She let the two chakats in and followed them into the house. They were greeted by Stargrey, who was visibly beaming with pride.

"Nice of you to drop by. Ketta is in the nursery, feeding the little one."

Quickpaw gave the other chakat a long hug. "Congratulations for your daughter, Stargrey."

Goldfur nodded. "Yes, congratulations, and now show us to the nursery and the cub, please."

"Hey, I thought I'm the impatient one, who's also crazy about cubs?" Quickpaw knocked hir elbow against hir sister. Goldfur just grinned at hir.

"This way." Stargrey interrupted with a smile and all three went to the next room. There was the proud mother nursing the newborn. Shi had the red markings of hir mother but hir "gloves" and "socks", the tip of hir tail and a tiny mop of head hair were certainly Stargrey's silver grey colouring. Ketta carefully turned the cub a little to show off a distinctive speckle of spots on one flank also.

"I present the proud mother and Nikol, our first child." Stargrey introduced.

"You let Ketta name the cub in foxtaur manner, as I did with Malena," Goldfur noted. "I like it!"

Quickpaw and Goldfur got closer to congratulate the mother, too and inspect the little one. Then they returned to the main den. Stargrey offered them coffee, which they gladly accepted. They talked for a bit about, waiting for Ketta to join them. Finally she came out from the nursery and joined them at Stargrey's side.

"Now or never." Quickpaw thought. Shi stood up and the conversation abated. All eyes came to rest on hir. Quickpaw took a deep breath.

"Stargrey, Ketta. Once again I want to congratulate you for your wonderful cub. I was trying to think of a special gift for a long time. I think I have found the perfect one, and one that is also another step towards closing the rift between our two families." Quickpaw turned to Ketta.

"Ketta, you told me that this cub is the first in Stargrey's clan for a long time." Ketta nodded. Quickpaw turned then to Stargrey, while shi opened hir halter presenting hir breasts.

"Because of this, I know that you haven't been able to get the hormone needed to start your own lactation. You didn't even have a chakat midwife at the birth to be a substitute. Stargrey, I now offer you a drink of my milk. Ever since my sisters' cubs were born I've shared the wonderful duty of feeding them, a joy I don't want to miss ever again. With a drink of my milk you'll be able to share that joy with Ketta as well."

After an initial surprised silence, Stargrey got up and approached Quickpaw. "I don't know what to say, other than thank you for this very special and wonderful gift. Gladly and with joy I accept your offer." Shi leant down and took one of Quickpaw's nipples into hir muzzle. Quickpaw closed hir eyes, pleased with the warm feeling hir flowing milk produced. A gentle purr emanated from hir throat. Stargrey gave hir a long and tender hug after shi had finished. While closing hir halter top shi caught sight of hir older sister who hadn't said anything during the small ceremony and was still sitting deep in thought.

*         *         *

Later on their way back to their home Quickpaw stopped Goldfur and faced hir.

"Are you upset with me, sis?"

"No. No, not at all." Goldfur replied. "You just gave me some stuff to think about. I realised that even now I was still holding a grudge against Ketta. After all her changes and even after the Christmas party, a part of me still..." Shi broke up and looked into hir sister's eyes. "I didn't like what I saw in myself."

"No one blames you, sis." Quickpaw answered.

Shi hugged Goldfur, who whispered, "You made me real proud today, little sister. You did a very right and honourable thing with your offer and gift." Goldfur felt Quickpaw's muzzle moving into a smile.

"Thank you, Goldfur."

"No charge. Now, do you think you have enough milk left for a cub-feeding?" Quickpaw laughed.

"Watch me!" shi said as they continued their way home.

 




Ketta and Chakats Quickpaw, Forestwalker, Goldfur & Stargrey are the creations of Bernard Doove and are used with permission.
Carol & the "Gulp 'n Gallop" are the creations of Roy D. Pounds II and are used with permission.
Story © 2000 Christian Neumann.


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Next story in chronological order is The Admiral & The Chakat #7.

More of Quickpaw, The College Years in QTCY#1.

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