Ryan and the Question
Macy’s Moonlighters Member Kelly Dyer posted this link to the group: https://www.facebook.com/stlzoo/photos/a.179052672916/10158697723992917/ along with the following request:
Macy Blake, please, please, please write my tiger getting rewarded with meatballs!!! Please!!!! Lol
Here you go Kelly! I hope everyone enjoys.
Ryan tiptoed out of the backdoor of the rec hall then raced toward the woods near the field. He had to have an answer. He couldn’t think of anything else, and honestly, the horror of what his Papa said earlier in the day hadn’t left his mind.
It couldn’t be true. It was the worst of the worst.
He skidded to a stop once inside the safety of the trees and waved to the vampire guards who watched him curiously. He wasn’t trying to escape or anything. Well, maybe a little. No way Mama would have let him come out to the woods by himself for this talk. It was one of those grown-up things. She liked to help him process.
But this? No. He couldn’t, absolutely wouldn’t bring her into this discussion. There were some things a son had to protect his Mama from, and this was one of those things.
The only person who could answer his question skulked behind a tree. Ryan loved the world skulked. Papa taught it to him to describe Alpha Solomon when he was in a mood because people were at the bar talking to Cody. He stood in the corner and pouted like Gus-Gus did when Victor said he couldn’t have a snack.
And the tiger guard in the woods did the same exact thing.
But Ryan knew his weakness. Papa’s special meatballs. And he had a few of them wrapped in foil ready to use as a prize if he got his answers.
The tiger raised his head and breathed. He let out a rumbling purr.
“I brought you something,” Ryan said softly. “But you have to answer my question first, which means you gotta be a person. I know I’m not supposed to ask you to shift, but it’s important.”
The purr turned into a growl, but Ryan wasn’t scared. No one here would hurt him.
“I’ll wait,” Ryan added. Mama always said that when Ryan didn’t want to do something. She gave him time to make the right choices. Papa said he might as well give up and do what she wanted when she said that cause Mama could out stubborn a mule. Whatever that meant.
A minute and a few disgruntled huffs later, a ginormous man stood where the tiger had been.
“Whoa,” Ryan gasped. “You’re as big as Riggs, and he’s a bear.”
Tiger-man huffed. “Ask your question.”
“Right, so…um…” Ryan hesitated and wondered too late if he’d made a mistake. Was it super rude to ask such a personal question? Was he setting himself up for a Mama lecture later? Probably. But he had to know. He had to. “Did someone really pee in your Cheerios?”
Around him, the guards started laughing. Sure, they were hidden in the woods and pretending not to, but Ryan could hear them.
He sighed, long and loud. “I’m gonna get in trouble. It’s a rude question. I should have known. Mama’s gonna give me the look, and then I’m gonna have to go to time out and think about it, but I swear, I had to know. How could someone be so mean to you? Especially if they were the honey nut kind? Those are the best, and how could someone… it’s just the worst.”
Tiger-man moved closer and knelt in front of Ryan. “No one peed in my Cheerios.”
“Oh, thank the Goddess. So, you’re just walking the boulevard of broken dreams, huh? That was what Mama said, and she’s always right. I should have known.”
The guards laughed again. One of them even snorted.
Ryan glared over his shoulder at them. “You’re mean. No nachos for you this week. I’m telling Papa I said so.”
There were several horrified gasps.
Ryan huffed. “Meanies. That’s what you get.”
The tiger smiled. It wasn’t a big one or anything, but it was there. “Thanks for sticking up for me. That’s nice of you.”
“Well, I’m sad for you. Mama said she saved Papa from the boulevard. Then they did the kissy face thing for a while. Don’t worry. Someday, you’ll find someone to kiss, too, and then you won’t be sad or grumpy anymore.” Ryan held out the package of meatballs and smiled. “Thanks for talking to me.”
Tiger-man shifted back into his animal form, and then rolled over onto his back with his mouth open. Ryan laughed and pulled back the foil wrapping. He tossed one of the meatballs, and the tiger caught it in his mouth.
He chewed happily before rolling to his feet and nudging Ryan out of the woods with his head. As they walked back, Ryan continued to feed him the meatballs until they were all gone. Then he got a really gross lick across the cheek as Mama came out the back door looking for him.
Before he could blink, the tiger raced back into the woods.
“Oh no,” Mama said. “What did you do?”
Ryan beamed. “I think I made a friend.”