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Shadow never realized how many stray cats there were in the world until he started looking for them. Once he noticed, he was shocked by their number. Were there this many for everyone else, or were they following him specifically. Sometimes they would stand on fence posts and seemed to mark his progress. They would be gone when he turned back around. In the dark, they were smudges against the shadows, dark shapes that darted across the street. They were fearless in the face of vehicles, ignoring the warning of headlights and engine noise to get from one safe harbor to the next.

Occasionally he would crouch and hold his hand out to them. The wise ones would always turn and run as soon as he started to lower himself to the ground. The brave ones would keep outside of arms reach just to see if he was actually offering them food. But to a one, they always ran if he crossed an invisible line that separated his space from theirs.

She didn't come often, just enough that he was aware she was watching over him. She always came when he was sleeping, and her arrival was always announced by a soft purring that filled his mind like the buzz of bees. He didn't know how she got into his hotel rooms, or if she was ever truly there, but he felt her moving across his body underneath the sheets and immediately became hard at her touch. Her muscles were lean, her skin covered with a soft layer of fur.

Bast pushes the blankets back with a liquid movement of her upper body, a sinuous undulation that leaves them both exposed. She's astride him in a subtle movement and he grips her knees. His cock strains toward her sex, and she rolls her hips so that her vulva brushes against his tip, adding her moisture to his pre-come.

--I'm glad you didn't die at the battle. He knows how ridiculous it sounds, but it's the simplest way of saying what's in his mind. And right now simple is as complicated as he can handle.

--Me too.

He doesn't know if she means she agrees, or that she is glad he didn't die. It doesn't matter. He slides his hands over her thighs to her hips. She's still wearing her stockings, but she's otherwise nude. The black lace of the thigh-highs stood out against the paleness of her skin, which in turn is heightened by the moonlight coming in through the window.

Her pubic hair spreads across her mons, reminding him of the old Penthouses and Playboys he used to sneak peeks at with his friends. Her labia is visible through the untrimmed hair, pressed against the tip of his cock without allowing it entrance. He can see a bead of white on the eye of his cock.

--Is this worship?

--Would it matter if it was?

He decides he doesn't really care one way or the other; he just wants to fuck her. He needs to be inside of her. She doesn't seem to weigh anything as she rocks her hips back, strokes her fingers along his shaft, and moves him against her sex. His eyes roll back in his head, and she sinks onto him. Her lips part for him and he lifts up to push deeper. A part of him knows the danger of this (his mind whispers Bilquis but it means nothing to him) but he doesn't care. If this is how it ends, he's more than happy to let it happen.

She pinches his nipples and strokes his flanks. There are no needle-tears this time and he knows her reasons without her saying: he's suffered enough wounds for one war. He'll come out of this one unscathed.

Her muscles are tight around him, strong as a fist, and Shadow's teeth grind together as he holds back his orgasm. He moves one hand forward, cupping her mound with his hand while his thumb presses through her hair, into her sex, and he strokes her clit. She gasps, her lips parting to reveal thin vampire-like fangs and a narrow, flat tongue.

Shadow has a sense of victory; he's surprised her. She rolls her head back on her shoulders, which has the added benefit of pushing her breasts toward him. Her nipples are dark and erect, and Shadow stares at them as he works his thumb over her clit. When she comes, the grip on his cock is so great that he's afraid of actual physical damage. But then it relaxes, and the relief is so great that he orgasms.

He feels like the mattress underneath him has become a sea, or maybe it's his muscles that have liquefied. Whichever it was, he sinks down. The goddess stretches her body over his, her body moving in a way that human muscles can only match with years of training. She covers him, writhing and stroking, and his cock twitches despite having just gotten relief. She runs the sandpaper surface of her tongue over his nipple and he shivers at the pleasurable pain of it.

She purrs against his throat. He can feel the vibrations all the way through his upper body.

--Remember me, Shadow.

He strokes her naked back and, at some point, falls asleep with her nuzzling his chest.

In the morning, he showers and dresses. He packs up his few meager belongings, stuffs them into a rucksack, and slings it over his shoulder.

When he walks outside, he stretches and looks up into the sky. It's overcast, and an early storm has already left large puddles of water across the parking lot. The sun struggles to break free, giving just enough light for hope of a warm afternoon. Shadow turns up the collar of his jacket and looks toward the dumpsters at the far end of the parking lot.

A silver-and-black cat is sitting on the fence, staring at him. It's amber eyes close in a supremely indifferent blink. Shadow puts two fingers to his eyebrow and snaps off a salute before he walks toward the highway.

When he looks back again, the cat has vanished, as cats tend to do when your back is turned.