Chapter Eight:

By the time Ry'll reached the dorms his curiosity had grown. G'in's tail had swished happily the entire walk and Py and Sinari had only seemed to grow more pleased the closer they got to their destination. Their feelings were infectious and Ry'll felt his mood lifting. He was safe now.Then he heard the loud noise coming from inside. The sound wasn't those that belonged to Inrans who were fighting. There was no discernible hissing or growling coming from inside. Ry'll didn't even hear anyone yelling or shouting. It was just a loud, indistinguishable murmur, like when Ry'll approached town the few times he had went.

Ry'll raised his eyebrows at anyone who was looking and started forward cautiously, tail sticking almost straight out and head lowered. He knew this was supposed to be a good surprise, but he didn't want to risk being ambushed by another shikan. He didn't even know what he was walking into. He had never heard the groups so talkative before.

Someone lightly tapped his arm and he paused, looking over his shoulder.

"Close your eyes, Ry'll," Py instructed.

He turned to Sinari and G'in and they both nodded in encouragement.

He gave them all a suspicious look before slowly shaking his head. "No."

He would have to be stupid to walk into a room filled with shikans while his eyes were closed. It would allow for at least one easy hit or grab on him and he didn't want to allow even that. He knew that the three shikans had his back but he was tired and had already been attacked once today. He didn't understand why they would even ask him to do that after what had happened.

"You're safe," Sinari murmured. "We won't let any of the other shikans near you while your eyes are closed."

He looked at Nencoye to see that the skika had moved to stand close to Lyiu and was almost completely surrounded by his potential mates. His eyes were already closed as the group led him into the dorms. Ry'll didn't understand how the skika could be so trusting. Or maybe he had just been bullied into it. Ry'll didn't know.

He caught a glimpse of colorful fabric before the door was closed.

"I think you will really like the surprise," G'in added, trying to persuade him.

He growled to himself, irritated at the whole situation. He didn't even want to be at the dorms in the first place and now they expected him to walk in without his sight. Worse, Nencoye was already in there without him. The longer Ry'll took out here the longer the other skika was as good as defenseless. He was beginning to learn that truly protecting someone involved more than just using his body as a shield or using his words and fists as a weapon to keep others from hurting the smaller skika. Sometimes it required doing something that he did not want to do, such as closing his eyes in order to get inside without an argument.

"Fine," he grumbled grouchily.

As he closed his eyes he heard Py chuckle softly and he could almost feel the smirk that Sinari must have on his face.

Then an annoyed huff greeted his ears and he bared his fangs in the direction it came from. Shay had a lot of nerve to huff at him when the damn guard couldn't even do his job. He hid behind the Breeding Center rules. He couldn't help Ry'll because it concerned mating? Bullshit! It was also against the rules for Shay to hit him, at least that's how the healer made it seem, but that hadn't stopped Shay. The shikan just wanted him to suffer. To learn his place. Ry'll seethed at the thought. He knew his place and it wasn't here. It was with his mother, it was with a mate who cared about him because of who he was, not for the children he could produce.

"You can go in now, Ry'll," G'in informed. "I have the door open."

Ry'll shook himself, trying to shake off his negative emotions. Soon he would see his mother and they would plan a way to escape. Soon he would be away from here and he would never see Shay again, but right now he had a skika to protect and a surprise to receive. He just had to be patient and focus on the here and now.

Two hands were placed on his arms, one on each side and Ry'll let his two potential mates guide him to his destination.

Ry'll knew the moment that they entered the dorms. Light flooded through his closed eyes and he had to squeeze them tight until he got used to the difference in light. They led him forward and then to the right, keeping him away from the others in the room. The noises were now a little more distinguishable and Ry'll could hear laughter.

The noise intrigued him and he relaxed a little. The surprise couldn't be that bad if someone was laughing.

His two potential mates drew him to a stop and angled him a little to the right.

"You can open your eyes now," Sinari murmured into his ear, sending shivers down his back as the warm air touched the inside of his rounded ear.

Ry'll slowly opened his eyes, blinking in disbelief.

He turned back to Sinari and Py, mouth open but only a squeak coming out.

Py chucked him under the chin before giving him a little shove, encouraging him to explore his surprise. "We designed it ourselves with you in mind. It's sparse, yet comfortable."

Ry'll turned back, soaking up all that his potential mates had done for him. They had made a room just for him, or as much as they could when three other groups were sharing the dorms with them. An expanse of the back and right side wall had been covered with light, billowy fabric the color of the sky and an expanse of the golden floor was covered in a thick brown rug. Ry'll guessed that the fabric and rug marked the perimeter of his room and stepped onto the brown rug, his curiosity kicking into full gear.

His tail started to sway as the soft rug cushioned his feet. He wiggled his toes, enjoying the luxury that was offered to him. In the center of his room were the makeshift beds, a mound of covers for each of them. Ry'll guessed his bed was the mound of deep purple covers surrounded on all sides by four other beds.

He looked back at his potential mates as he gathered his bed covers, waiting for their reactions. He was greeted by confused, almost hurt looks though Sinari hid it better. It wasn't his intention to hurt them though. He silently placed his bed in the corner so that walls would be at his head and back when he slept.

He smiled at the two when he came back to the other beds and grabbed a pile of lighter purple covers, heading to where he laid his bed. He saw realization flash in Py's eyes and the shikan grabbed a pile of matching covers and moved to place them at the bottom of Ry'll's bed.

"I'm only keeping the other two away from my bed," Ry'll explained, in case Sinari still wasn't sure what he had done.

Sinari's eyes brightened before a smirk overtook his face. "The Center officials wouldn't be too pleased if they saw this."

The shikan sounded extremely pleased by the fact and Ry'll shrugged. "The Center officials will just have to deal with it."

Sinari nodded and grinned, but remained silent. Ry'll grabbed one of the five bags resting against the side wall. Inside were the few meager belongings he had.

He put the bag back, not interested in the reminder of all his missing possessions. He turned to his potential mates with a smile. He had been protected his entire life, but no one had done something solely for his pleasure and comfort before. This had been both one of the best, and worst, days of his life. "Thank you. I will be much more comfortable now."

"It was no problem," Sinari replied.

"We enjoyed making a space where you could be comfortable," Py added.

"Okay, I have the antibiotic ointment," G'in announced, walking toward them and interrupting their moment. Ry'll hadn't even realized G'in had left. He had been so absorbed in his new accommodations. "Why don't you sit down and become comfortable while I put this on."

Ry'll plopped onto his bed, the covers cool underneath his warm body.

G'in squatted in front of him, a small jar in his hands. He dipped the tip of his finger into it, coming out with a tiny amount of thick white gel. He smeared the ointment over the wounds on Ry'll's neck.

Ry'll winced, hissing as his skin began to burn and sting.

"Shush," G'in soothed, wiping the excess ointment onto his pants before recapping the jar. "It will keep away infection and help you heal quicker."

Ry'll nodded, rubbing as close to his wounds as he could without touching the ointment. He knew he needed them to stay clean, but it was uncomfortable. "Okay."

G'in stood up. "Why don't you rest for the remainder of the day. I will see you tomorrow."

"Yeah."

G'in began to walk away.

"G'in," Ry'll called. G'in stopped, turning his head. "Thank you."

Their teacher gave him a warm smile. "You're welcome Ry'll."

Then he was gone, Shay following in his steps. A shikan he had never seen before entered after them.

While Ry'll was glad to see his guard leave, he was confused. Didn't Shay say he would always be near, and who was this new shikan? "Where's Shay going?"

Sinari and Py settled in around him, getting comfortable in their beds.

"His shift must be over, or they gave him an early day," Py replied. "Usually the night guard doesn't come in until after we're asleep."

Ry'll narrowed his eyes, taking in the bulky frame of the new guard. He didn't like that someone he didn't know had been watching over him while he slept. Was this shikan worse than Shay? Could he be trusted? The guard met Ry'll's eyes, but remained standing near the door.

"You do not have to worry about him," Sinari said, his tail flopping into Ry'll's lap. "I recognize him. He'll remain where he is."

Ry'll absently scratched the fur beneath his fingers, relaxing a little. "Where do you recognize him from?"

"My father brought me here when I was younger," Sinari admitted. "He always wanted me to volunteer as one of the shikan. He must have thought familiarizing me with what was going on would somehow make what was happening more acceptable to me, that I would gain some understanding that I didn't have before."

Sinari's lips quirked up. "It did the opposite. I hate this place. I did meet Binat though. His sibling was a skika who had just arrived at the Breeding Center. He was extremely protective. His family must be in a seat of authority, or it wouldn't have been allowed. He caused a big ruckus. So he understands your situation. You can rest easy."

Sinari laughed and despite Ry'll's rough day, warmth filled him at the sound. Sinari was usually so quiet; it was nice to hear an expression of pleasure. "I bet he'll even look out for Nencoye despite the skika not being his charge."

Ry'll glanced at his friend. The small skika sat in the corner amidst a mountain of pillows, blankets splayed everywhere. Rather than the two walls being covered in fabric they were covered in a multitude of pictures. Must be photos of their family. Ry'll longed to have such pictures of his mother.

He stopped those thoughts in their tracks, they wouldn't lead anywhere productive. Instead he turned his attention to Nencoye's potential mates. The two nearest his friend were behaving themselves, staring at some hand-held gadget.

The other two though…

They were staring at him.

F'wintr and Amastair, if he remembered right.

He glared at them. Why were they looking at him like that?

Amastair straightened, his golden eyes laughing and his green ears perked. He licked his lips slowly, flicking his tongue tauntingly before it disappeared back into his mouth. F'wintr was more crude, caressing over his crotch before suddenly grabbing his cock through his jeans, roughly giving himself a few strokes. His navy eyes didn't budge from Ry'll's.

His growl of disgust was echoed by Sinari, his potential mate's lips curled away from his teeth. Py was sitting up, alert and ready to attack. But it wasn't necessary.

Binat was in front of F'wintr and Amastair in an instant, glowering down at them. "Ry'll is not your potential mate. You are not to associate with him in any way. Do you understand?"

They grumbled, but turned their attention to their possessions for entertainment.

Binat returned to his post and Ry'll felt comfortable, even happy, with Binat as his temporary guard. In fact, why couldn't he take Shay's place? Ry'll would feel a lot more protected if he did.

"Why are they turning their attention to me now?"

"They are taunting us. Shel't's attack showed you as vulnerable. Why go after Nencoye who has his guard and you in their way when they can more easily have you. In their eyes no one protects you. Easier prey," Py frowned. "You must make sure to never be alone with them Ry'll. They will only get braver until we fight for you."

"But you're not allowed to fight."

"No, we aren't."

Ry'll sighed, feeling exhausted. "I'm not even their potential mate."

"They do not care," Sinari spat, narrowed eyes still fixed on the two. "They have no respect for skikas."

Ry'll laid down, burrowing into his blankets. At least now Nencoye would have less to deal with. Ry'll could deal with them. Ry'll could deal with anything if he needed to. This was just one more obstacle he needed to cross on his way to freedom.

Sinari and Py laid down, close enough for him to feel their presence without them actually touching him.

Ry'll curled his tail around his hips. "Thank you for protecting me."

"You're welcome," Py murmured.

Sinari rumbled soothingly. Before Ry'll went to sleep he silently thanked G'in for choosing Py and Sinari as his potential mates. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to sleep in this place without them.

AN: An update?0.o Yes! I'm alive:) Here's another chapter. No promises about the next chapter because I'm lazy and need to see if I have any notes on the scene I want to start the next chapter with. Hope everyone enjoyed it. Was the surprise lame?