Unusual Partners 1:
Protector Academy

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"Cadet Clawson, just a moment." The black and white shekat instructor commanded, as Jake was about to leave the classroom. "The Commandant wants to see you in his office. The instructor for your next class has been informed that you will not be attending today."

"Yes, ma'am," he nodded sharply, unconcerned about missing the academic content of a class he was quite sure he could teach better than the instructor.

"Cadet Clawson is here to see you, Commandant." The tan shekat who served as the Commandant's secretary said into the intercom.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. You can send him in." The deep, powerful voice of the Academy commander came back.

"Go on in, Cadet." The shekat nodded toward the appropriate door.

The Commandant was a powerfully built grey and black tabby tom, a little over seven feet tall with intensely intelligent green eyes. He looked up from a stack of paperwork as Jake came in. "Ah, Cadet Clawson. Please have a seat." He said with a firm, commanding voice that left no doubt that it was a command not a request.

"Yes, sir." The lean, cinnamon furred teenager complied, haven gotten that much of his manners well grilled into him by now.

"Okay, we've been through this before so I'm sure you've probably guessed that I've called you here to let you know that your assigned pilot has requested reassignment. As usual it's for personal reasons, so there's no disciplinary issues." He said formally. "Your new pilot should be arriving today." He started before being interrupted by the intercom. "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"Sorry to interrupt you, Sir. But you asked to be notified as soon as Cadet Bashar arrived." The shekat replied.

"Of course, please send him in." He said before closing the line. "This will be your new partner."

The door opened and a muscular red and black Tiger tom entered. He was wearing the cadet version of the dress uniform that Jake had seen around campus occasionally on visiting officers of the Midrashan Air Corps. "Cadet Bashar reporting as ordered, Sir." The Tiger said with a sharp salute.

"At ease, Cadet." The Commandant nodded. "Please, have a seat."

"Yes, sir." He said, and then handed the Commandant a sealed disk case, before sitting down.

"Ah, yes, your personnel file. Commander Khan said he'd be sending that with you." He said setting the disk down, before turning to the two cadets. "Okay, Cadet Clawson, Cadet Bashar. I'm formally assigning the two of you as partners. Cadet Clawson, show your new partner to quarters, so he can get settled in. Any questions?"

Cadet Jake Clawson took the opening to take a quick, though thorough look at his new partner, and was more than a little grateful not to immediately dislike him.

"No, sir." He responded formally.

"Very good then. Dismissed." He nodded to the pair. "Cadet Clawson, you're excused from classes for the afternoon." He added as the Tiger stood with a fluid grace, and waited for his new partner to lead the way.

"Understood, sir." He nodded and saluted sharply before turning on heal to walk out. The moves weren't quite perfect, particularly considering the innate coordination of the tom, but he wasn't called on it either.

The Tiger saluted sharply, and then turned with precision to follow Jake out. The moves were quite literally textbook perfect, more like the instructors who taught them than the cadets. As they passed through the outside office, he snagged his travel bag and threw it over one shoulder in a much more natural move.

"So what's your first name, Bashar?" Jake asked conversationally as they walked through the halls on the way to the cadet barracks.

"Nathan." The Tiger said casually, as his eyes took careful survey of the halls as they walked. "What's yours?" He asked easily.

"Jake," he nodded fractionally, already liking the way this tom took in his environment. "Have you been given much of an overview of things here?"

"A very limited one." Nathan nodded. "Mostly that the military here isn't quite as rigid, as the Midrashan one. There isn't the emphasis on social class." He explained, beginning to think that he liked the smaller tom.

"Definitely not," Jake smiled as they stepped out into the sunshine and he dropped his cover in place on reflex, adjusting it to shield the sun and sit so he wouldn't he reprimanded by the first instructor to see him. "Even without the benefits of education and knowing the way around, even a street kit could become Commander, if they're good enough. At least in theory."

"In practice, there is still probably politics involved." Nathan nodded as he put his hat on with casual ease, but very precisely adjusted. "However, at least here you don't have to keep track of whether another cadet ranks you socially. I'm afraid I never really was very good at that. Military rank is earned, but social rank is just luck of the draw." He said, as his eyes began taking in the campus as a whole, while he mentally took tactical notes.

"Still doesn't pay to piss off a Pelt if you can avoid it, and remember," he advised, both serious and sheepish. "Especially the ones with black ears."

"One of the Pelletiers, yes that wouldn't really be advisable." He nodded. "Though at least here, it's not official. It's a choice you can make, rather than a regulation to be obeyed. Though from what I hear, the Pelletiers are much easier to not piss off, than some of the high-class types back in Midrasha."

"Some of them are downright good kats," Jake said with a real grudging respect. "A lot you'd never know, if you don't catch the nametag."

"Definitely better." Nathan nodded. "So, are there any restrictions on sex between cadets?" He asked from out of nowhere.

"A few," Jake nodded as they walked through the largely empty green. "Keep it willing, don't send anyone to medical and don't get anyone pregnant. Other than that, it's fair game."

"Excellent." Nathan nodded. "Are we allowed off-campus, during our off hours?"

"As long as you don't screw up, sure," he chuckled. "You're expected to behave in a manner that doesn't embarrass them out there just like in here. Don't get drunk or high in public, no unnecessary fighting, break laws ... basic stuff for the most part. If you don't have a furlough, weekend pass or leave, you're expected to be in your room by taps at ten, but they don't check unless they actually want you for something, so you can usually get away with staying elsewhere. They're pretty understanding if you're still in the barracks and your rommie knows where, and you aren't already marked as a troublemaker."

"Reasonable enough." Nathan nodded, his eyes examining the barracks in detail as they approached the building entrance. "How difficult is it to get additional flight-time beyond what's required?"

"Only as hard as it is to talk your partner into it, or finding an empty solo jet if you're certed for it."

"I've got solo certs, on a lot planes, including what the Academy uses." Nathan said easily. "So hard is it, normally, to get you interested in putting in extra flight-time?" He asked in manner that indicated that he was talking about playing around in the air, but actually working.

"Not hard, if you're any good," he cocked a challenging grin. "Did you get the warning lecture about why I'm still getting new partners at this point in training?"

"It wasn't exactly a lecture." Nathan smirked. "More a commentary about a certain roughness in social skills, and a heavy bit of pushiness. I believe it was something about demanding more than any of the instructors ever thought of."

"The instructors are here to let everyone up to a minimum level, and try not to hold those who are better back," he said very seriously. "I may not be great with people, but I'm a damn good gunner, and I don't expect any less of my pilot than I do of myself."

"Well, I won't claim to be great with people myself, and I can fly rings around the rest of the Academy." He said with a calm assuredness.

"Sounds like we're either going to get along great, or be at each other's throats within the week," Jake chuckled with a cocky grin for the significantly taller tom. "I think the last guy got chosen because he was good with people more than flying skills."

"That could be." Nathan nodded. "My previous gunner certainly was more talented in diplomacy than in targeting." He chuckled.

"Well, Graytail could fly," Jake gave him grudgingly. "He just wasn't that serious about being the best. He liked to socialize too much to get in extra flight time."

"It's simply a matter of finding the proper balance." Nathan said easily. "Socializing has its place, but not in excess."

"And not at the price of the skills that keep you alive," Jake added with vehemence.

"That would be excess." Nathan smiled. "Though socializing serves to build unit bonds, which makes for a stronger whole."

"Urph," the lean tom shrugged. "That would be where I get complaints filed." He muttered quietly. "I don't like many people more than work."

"I've had that problem myself." Nathan admitted. "I just happen to know the theory behind why socializing is considered a good idea." He smiled weakly.

"A lot of theory, not a lot of experiance in things, hu?" Jake cocked his head curiously.

"Not socially, no." Nathan nodded.

"You aren't missing much," Jake told him. "Especialy if you like guys in bed."

"I'm not sure I follow you." Nathan said, truly not sure what the smaller tom was talking about.

"The only good part to socializing I've found so far is the sex," he said bluntly. "I like guys and girls, and you've got the looks to make the effort of going elsewhere for it pointless if you like guys."

"Oh." Nathan smiled. "And I thought my last partner was somewhat unusual, in his desire to be partners in all ways. I do happen to like guys, in fact I prefer them. What little I have learned about socializing did show me there can be more than just the sex." He smiled.

"That's worth the effort?" Jake raised a dubious eyebrow, but didn't refuse the notion outright.

"I had my doubts at first." Nathan admitted. "But some of it was fun." He said, though he seemed unfamiliar with the word 'fun'.

"I had my doubts at first." Nathan admitted. "But some of it was fun." He said, though he seemed unfamiliar with the word.

"Like what?" Jake asked, more curious than challenging.

"The theatre was interesting, especially the opera format." Nathan said, thinking through the things he'd enjoyed as opposed to the things he'd tolerated. "The clubs with the exotic dancers were kind of fascinating as well. And simply going out for dinner and dancing was more fun than I expected it to be."

"I can show you around some of the better local spots for that stuff," he offered quietly. "Though be careful with your paycheck around the clubs. Some of those dancers charge for attentions. Some of them are worth their free too."

"Oh, I think you are talking a slightly different dance club than I was." Nathan said simply. "The one I went to, did not permit any significant touching. The dancers were however very talented. This other sort sounds intriguing though."

"Oh, most don't allow touching on stage, but if you like a dancer, you can get most of them to spend time with you off stage where touching is the point. Most charge for it, though."

"Ah, I guess Mizra must have handled that." Nathan smiled.

"Or that's not how it's handled over there," Jake shrugged. "It's how things usually work around here."

"Honestly, I don't know." Nathan admitted. "It never really occurred to me to ask."

"If something you'll want to around here. Dancers shouldn't take offence, if you're even a little polite about it. It's kind of an expected question. They aren't the only ones that will spend time with your for money, either."

"I expect not." Nathan nodded. "But I really don't intend to make a habit of paying for company, or sex."

"I doubt you'll need to," he chuckled softly. "But I'd be a lousy gunner if I didn't look after my partner."

"Much appreciated." Nathan smiled. "I'd only kind of picked up Midrashan culture before I came here. Thankfully, the language is the same though. Having to learn another culture is enough."

"I bet," he rolled his eyes and flopped down on the right hand side bed. "Just the shift to Academy can be a shock to the brain. So where are you from, before Tiger-land?"

"Tanzaria, its a small territory on the far side of Midrasha from the ocean. Its nominally part of Midrasha, but that's only to discourage others from absorbing it. There's no really culture in common." He said as he set his bag at the end of the left hand side bed, before laying down on it.

"Can't say I've heard of it. Politics and Foreign Relations are not my strong suit, subject-wise."

"Not surprising." Nathan smiled. "And about the only subjects it comes up in are Geography or Culture Studies. The Elders prefer to leave politics and foreign relations to the Midrashans who enjoy those games." He chuckled. "I'm not much on those subjects either. More into archaic weaponry and unarmed combat."

"Archaic?" Jake raised an eyebrow as he searched for that word in his mind. "Any age or type in particular?"

"Dark Ages and blades mostly. Preferably swords." Nathan explained. "The rapiers of later ages are acceptable, but I really prefer the weight and feel of the earlier blades."

"Afraid you won't see much of them around here," he chuckled softly. "Though I'm sure a few of the instructors keep it up for the same reason, or family pride. A lot of folks here trace their line way back."

"Not surprising. There aren't that many governments that have been stable for as long." Nathan agreed. "Though some of the other ones were old, when Haven was founded."

"That's always true," he shrugged. "There's always someone older, stronger, faster, better. It's something to aim for," he added predatorily.

"Yep, that's why I was always going for unarmed combat partners who were bigger than I was; the challenge plain and simple." Nathan grinned back, equally predatory.

"Bigger isn't always better," Jake purred dangerously. "I've made my living with that for years."

"That's what I was trying to prove." Nathan grinned. "I'm on the short end as Tigers go, so there's a lot of folks bigger than me in Midrasha."

"Well around here, you're on the big end of normal, so you're on the other side of that logic. Haven is mostly Kats, not Xanith."

"So I've been noticing. However, I've learned not to take smaller opponents for granted, having been one in the past." He chuckled.

"That's good, or this one would have to make a point of it, again." Jake smirked. "And you look like it'd take a serious effort I'd rather not expend."

"Don't worry, the last thing I'm going to do is take you for granted." Nathan smirked to a soft chuckle from across the room.

"I'm more concerned with you taking an unknown opponent not seriously enough," he said seriously, though he chuckled and relaxed back. "It's a good thing to be confident and sure of your abilities, but it's a dangerous thing to become complacent because you're the best. That's one of the few things I really can't tolerate, just for our own safety." He looked at the Tiger with large, piercing amber eyes. "You've seen enough real combat to know that in your soul, though."

"You can't ever be sure you're the best, 'cause there just might be somebody out there who's better. Or maybe not even better, maybe they just know a trick you don't have a counter to yet." Nathan said certainly, though a little surprised by the last comment. "Unknowns have to be taken seriously for just that reason. They are unknown, and they just might be that better person."

"Or having their lucky day, at the same moment you're having your unlucky one." He added, staring at the ceiling. "No matter how good you are, no matter how careful, you can never discount what luck and chance play in things. They will kick your tail if you do. It's their job."

"The fickle hands of fate." Nathan shook his hand. "Yeah, I'm too familiar with those to discount them. However, I don't rely on them. They are something to be wary of."

"No kidding," Jake nodded. "I usually prefer it stayed well away from me."

"As do any who have confidence in their own skills." Nathan shook his head. "Relying on luck is a sign of either laziness, or lack of confidence."

"Or to-the-bone level understanding you are completely out of your depth and can't get out." Jake added quietly from experience.

"Well, that's a little different." Nathan nodded. "That's when you've used everything, and luck's what you've got left." He said quietly, having been there a time or three himself.

"Yeah, and sometimes you get stuck there no matter how careful or good you are."

"Sometimes, things turn to shit no matter what you do." Nathan nodded.

"Yeah, sometimes it does, and sometimes that same luck gets things better," Jake said softly. "Just not usually."

"Not usually." Nathan agreed. "But who knows, maybe we both got a bit of good luck with this assignment." He smiled.

"It's a better start than the last couple," Jake nodded, looking over at his new partner. "Do you have your class schedule yet?"

"Yeah, in the bag." He said turning around so he could get at the bag. "Here it is." He said as he pulled the paper from the bag and handed it over to Jake.

"Ready to get books and supplies?" He asked as he looked it over, gauging the level of knowledge and standing of his new partner.

"Well, I'd better since I'm supposed to start classes tomorrow." Nathan chuckled.

"We don't have to now," Jake smirked teasingly at him. "Bookstore's open til twenty-hundred, and in the morning before your Border Laws class."

"I just figured get it out of the way, so it's done." Nathan grinned, causing Jake to roll of his bed.

"Okay then, let's go." He said simply. "Do you have basic school supplies already?

"Pens, pencils, good scientific calculator." Nathan nodded, as he stood. "Need to pick up notebooks. Did seem much sense carting them half-way 'round the world."

"Not empty ones at any rate," Jake nodded with a light chuckle.

"Only had one that had any real notes in it." Nathan grinned. "And that's in the bag."

"So do you have any hobbies you need supplies for?" He asked conversationally as they headed out.

"Most of my hobbies either don't fit well with dorm life, or I have wait awhile before I can afford them." He chuckled. "Fast planes, fast bikes and I enjoy cooking."

"Can't argue with that assessment," Jake grinned and laughed. "Though the fast bike can be gotten cheap if you're a good mechanic, or can bribe one."

"I've got a lot to learn about the art of souping them up, and getting more out of them." Nathan admitted. "But I can handle the rest."

"Then the bike isn't hard to get, it'll just take some work to get it roadworthy. I got my Skyrunner for fifty bucks and a month and a half of work."

"Sounds like something to look into." Nathan nodded.

"You'd be amazed what people will throw out, because they don't know what's wrong with it, or can afford a new one."

"Having spent time with some of the really rich kits of Midrasha, not much amazes me in that vein anymore." He shook his head.

"Then probably not," he nodded easily enough. "It still floors me sometimes, what I find in the salvage yards."

"Well, I've never seen the salvage yard end of it, but if its anything like the conspicuous consumption end, you could probably furnish a home if you were willing to put in the work."

"That's easy," Jake smirked up at him. "But I don't have normal decorating tastes. You see more of the 'it's broke, get a new one' end of things here, even when the 'broke' is as simple as needing a new battery or spark plugs."

"I very much doubt my decorating tastes would qualify as normal either." Nathan grinned back. "I also saw a lot of perfectly good clothing tossed because it was 'so last semester'." He said in mocking tone of voice for the last three words.

"You're joking," Jake's large eyes went wider as he tried to understand that one.

"If there was one thing a lot of my former classmates were, it was slaves to fashion." He shook his head. "It was part of the whole social status thing, ones civilian clothing had to match ones status, at the very least. I'm told they get much better about the whole status thing about the time they hit thirty, have their first kit, or live abroad for more than a year."

"Remind me not to accept that place as a station," he shook his head in shock. "I would never manage to stay civil long enough to get home."

"The resorts are nice though. Makes a nice vacation spot." Nathan chuckled. "But then again, so does a tent, some supplies and lots of open wilderness."

"Never been camping," he admitted as they stepped into the sunlight again. "Survival training does not count."

"Maybe next long weekend you can show me," Jake smiled up.

"No, it doesn't." Nathan smiled. "But real camping can be very relaxing, assuming you're not a complete technology addict. It can also be a lot of fun, with the right person." He added, as he got some random flashes from his childhood.

"Maybe next long weekend you can show me," Jake smiled up.

"That sounds like a good way to spend a weekend." Nathan grinned. "Should I assume you excelled in survival training same as everything else?" He asked, with a playful gleam in his eye.

"Not my best subject," he admitted quietly, "but I aced it."

"Well, survival is not really the idea behind camping, so don't worry." Nathan smiled. "Can you swim?" He asked, knowing that regular Kats weren't always big on the water.

"Can, yes. I passed that one first term," he nodded, though not that easily. "Like it, not really."

"Okay, just checking. Xanith tend to like water, but I know that's not exactly true of Kats." He nodded.

"It has more to do with exposure, for me." Jake shrugged. "Here was the first time I saw a pool."

"I grew up next to a lake." Nathan smiled. "I can't remember whether I learned to swim or walk first."

"That would do it," he chuckled softly.

"That and there are few Tigers who don't love the water." He smiled.

"I'll remember that," Jake chuckled softly. "I guess I should add pools to the list of things to show you soon."

"They're part of the athletic buildings, right?" Nathan asked. "I wanted to get a look at those anyway."

"Here, yes, I was talking about the ones out in town."

"Oh, I hadn't even thought of those." Nathan admitted.

"I'll start showing you around the shops and yards when you're settled in on campus."

"Settling in, shouldn't take too long." Nathan nodded, as he looked around while they walked.

"Fast adaptor?" Jake grinned.

"Survival trait." Nathan grinned back. "And military facilities are easier than say a city."

"Military family?" He asked curiously.

"Yeah, and military prep school." He said easily.

"Have you ever considered another life?" Jake asked curiously as they saluted a passing officer without thinking.

"No." Nathan said casually, as he made mental note of the officer's name, rank and general appearance. He liked to be able to recognize officers out of uniform, as well as in.

"I guess that makes things easier," he nodded. "Kabrin's an explosives expert."

"Yeah, none of the high school confusion about what to do afterwards." He smiled. "Thanks."

"You'll probably have a course or two with him this year," he added. "He's a good instructor, just don't talk back to him unless you can show you know more than he does."

"I'll keep that in mind." Nathan nodded, looking forward to the class. Given that sabotage had kind of been his specialty, he was interested in finding out more about local explosives. "Any instructors to watch out for, avoid if possible?"

"Depends on your personality and how fast you learn," Jake said with a chuckle. "Though you'd do well to avoid having a whisker out of place around Captain Romear, our flight instructor. Good guy, good instructor, but as my partner, you'll going to catch it from the rows we got into."

"Hey, I can handle it." Nathan grinned. "I take it he's not a fan of your method of handling pilots."

"Among other things," Jake nodded with a chuckle. "He's not a fan of how I tend to speak my mind either."

    "Oh dear." Nathan shook his head. "Between the two of us, we're probably always going to be in trouble. I'm prone to let people know what I think too." He chuckled. "Kind of how I ended up transferring."

"Too stubborn to accept that rank always knows best too, hu?" He grinned teasingly. "I think they'll get an 'at least they're together and not infecting others' from most of them."

"They probably don't want to think what we'd be doing, if we weren't in uniform." Nathan smirked back.

"I know they don't," he laughed softly. "That I'm smarter than nine-tenths of the Kats here doesn't help that any."

Nathan chuckled. "And they just paired you with someone who's probably your closest competition in that department."

"Only kind I can deal with for any length of time," he rumbled softly. "They tried the sweet and placating on me already. I swear that is the closest I've come to seriously contemplating homicide."

"Tried a little too hard to get along, huh?" Nathan chuckled. "They never tried that one with me, though my partner wasn't the problem. It was the rest of the Academy, and the fact that my partner's father didn't approve of how close we were getting."

"I would have pounded his face in for trying a statement like that," Jake rumbled, fully outraged. "Nothing is closer than partners should be."

"Not everybody sees it that way." Nathan said quietly as his new partner bristled defensively. "While I might have been good enough to fly with his son, in uniform, I lacked the social class to be seeing his son out of uniform."

"That is bull, Nathan." Jake couldn't stop the protective anger from flaring hotly.

"Kind of what I thought." Nathan nodded. "Actually, it's the basics of what I told his father. Though I did embellish quite a bit, just for emphasis. Needless to say, the Academy was most distressed that I showed that much disrespect to a high ranking noble."

"And I thought I got into fights around here," Jake's tail lashed hard as the mere presence he was broadcasting cleared a path for them without a word. "You don't have to worry about that with me, or most around here. Even Pelts take in the nameless if one wants to."

"Well, I hear they're more interested in character, than pedigree." Nathan nodded. "But that little incident was pretty much what got me transferred. Officially, it was some kind of foreign exchange program, but unofficially everyone knew it was a permanent transfer."

"I'd hope so," Jake blinked. "I sure as hell don't want to get transferred over there. They'd hate to deal with me for any length of time."

"Somehow, I think between the two of us we'd have an international incident probably in less than a week, definitely in less than two." Nathan chuckled.

"And those who know us would no doubt be very scared what was up if we didn't." The lean cinnamon tom laughed, his mood lightening quickly as they worked into the textbook section of the Academy bookstore.

"Scare the heck out of them? Go over there and deliberately get into no trouble." Nathan snickered. "Nah, as amusing as that might be, way too much trouble."

"Who said anything about deliberate?" Jake smirked at him, though his tone was serious. "I just do."

"Yeah, I seem to find a bit myself." He chuckled. "But it's certainly never boring."

"No, that it isn't," Jake laughed in good humor as they quickly gathered up the Tiger's books. "Much to many an instructor and partner's distress."

"Now the instructors can be twice as distressed." Nathan chuckled, as he added notebooks to his pile. As they passed the art supplies section, he absently added a sketchbook, and an inexpensive set of pencils to his supplies.

"There's much better available in town," Jake nodded at the newest additions.

"Huh?" Nathan said seemingly snapping out of a brief daze. "Oh, I just sketch a bit. I just like to have something available when the urge hits me."

"Just checking," he nodded acceptance.

"If I ever get any good, I'll ask about those better supplies." Nathan grinned, as they headed for the check-out.

"Sometimes those better supplies make playing around fun," Jake chuckled with a bit of a shrug.

"Considering I usually work with a #2 pencil and a sheet of notebook paper, these are better." He grinned. "Maybe we can take a look at the supply places, just to give me an idea what better is."

"Sure thing," Jake nodded, taking a closer look at what his new partner had chosen, then guided the Tiger around. "If that isn't what you're used to, there is better for the money here."

"Which would you recommend?" Nathan asked. "I just kind of grabbed something."

"Seleni and Riverdale for paper, and I swear Frezzi pens and pencils are worth the price." He pointed each out. "Mechanicals pencils are great for sketching too, as well as notes. No tips to sharpen, and they come in colors."

Nathan nodded, and picked up a Seleni sketchpad, and a set of Frezzi sketch pencils, and after a moments thought, picked up a set of colored pencils as well. "Maybe I'll actually indulge the urge to do something other than black and white for a change." He chuckled. "I take it you do a bit of art yourself."

"Some," he admitted. "More schematic looking things and vehicle designs."
"I do those sometimes, bit of architecture, and the occaisional
person." Nathan said, as they headed back to the check-out. "Whatever
happens to come to mind."

"I know the feeling," Jake chuckled softly. "Weird things show up

"Have to be careful though." Nathan smirked. "On one occasion, my >absent-minded sketching got me a little hot water."

"Doodling a daydream?" He purred mischievously.

"Kind of." Nathan chuckled. "The instructor for the geopolitics course I was taking, was a serious hunk." He smirked. "And during a dull stretch of regional politics, I absently wondered what he'd look like without his uniform. I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing with my pen, at least until he broke the daydreaming."

"Oh my," he burst out laughing, though it was purely mischievous. "Did it get you a date?"

"Unfortunately, they had a rule about cadets dating instructors." He grinned. "It's in the notebook, I brought with me."

"Mmm, definitely show me this one," he purred low in his throat. "Can't have too many hunks to think about."

"When we get back." Nathan grinned. "Few people consider geopolitics sexy, but that notebook sure is."

"I bet," Jake grinned. "I'm sure you'll be giving me Tiger fantasies for months at this rate."

"I guess I'll just have to help you with some of them then." Nathan winked playfully at his partner.

"I'm sure that can be arranged," he murred throatily. "Not that you need much help."

"I'm liking this transfer more and more." Nathan rumbled with a grin as he felt Jake's tail brush intentionally across his ass.

"And I've always had this weakness for buff guys with stripes to trace."

"Lucky me." Nathan grinned broadly, as his thicker tail returned the gesture playfully.

"Probably will be," he snickered, purposefully ignoring the looks they were getting from those nearby.

"Definitely something to look forward to." Nathan rumbled as they left the store.

"Perhaps a sampling of local pleasures, before the local food?" Jake purred low in his throat.

"Sounds like fun." Nathan rumbled appreciatively as they walked back to the barracks.

"Hi Clawson." Talbot purred as the lean tom walked past her. Even the finely stripped black on dark grey tabby's conversational voice was sultry, making simple phrases sound seductive. Never mind when she was talking to a tom she found attractive. "See you got a new partner." She observed.

"Oh, yeah," he grinned and licked his whiskers unconsciously. "I like this one too."

"That's good to hear." She smiled. "He's really cute. Even if he is a bit on the dense and naive side." She chuckled, to a raised eyebrow.

"Not that naive, pretty," he smirked knowingly. "Just not into fems. Just ask our neighbours."

"Oh, so there's some truth to the rumors about plaster needing replaced due to excessive rattling?" She grinned.

"And then some," Jake rumbled hotly at the memory. "He is a Tiger, after all."

"Oh, I noticed." She purred hotly. "Never had a male be so oblivious to my making a pass at him." She shook her head.

"I'm sure it'll get him some ribbing," Jake smirked and shook his head with a chuckle. "Either that, or you're really loosing your touch."

"Not a chance, hotstuff." She purred. "Half the guys thought I was talking to them, and the other half wished I was." She smirked. "And a couple of shekats as well. I may not have gotten the Tiger I wanted, but I got all kinds of possibilities."

"Just don't let it spoil your fun," he chuckled softly. "Bashar is a lot of fun, though." He teased her, delighting in the rare opportunity.

"If you like him this quick, he must be." She grinned. "The question is, can you keep this one? Your track record isn't very promising." She grinned, teasing him back.

"First time they gave me a partner with the same track record," Jake chuckled softly. "And a perfectionist streak as wide as mine."

"You're joking, right?" She asked, disbelieving. "He's been through as many partners as you have?"

"Mmm, I don't think that many, but he got here pretty much because of partner relations of one kind or anything." Jake shrugged, glossing over the truth a little.

"Well, either the two of you are going to set new records, or kill each other." She chuckled. "Looks like they had to go overseas to find you a suitable partner. Good thing the two of you are both hot, otherwise that kind perfection would be irritating."

"Hay, who knows, maybe he can have a hot threesome pointed out to him," he grinned, brushing close to her. "And it's hardly our fault we're that good."

"Oh, now that would be fun." She purred. "You're fun enough to start with."

"And if anyone is a good way to introduce him to the fun of fems, you'd be her," he chuckled low in his throat. "Now I have a Tiger to catch for lunch, or maybe as lunch."

"Try not to wear him out on his first day of classes, hotstuff." She smiled knowingly, as she walked away with a swish of hips and tail. "See 'ya round, Clawson." She purred over one shoulder as he headed for the mess hall, decidedly keyed up.

"Hiya, Jake." Nathan said easily, as he walked up to the lean tom. "You seem kind of wound up." He observed curiously.

"Remember talking to a black on grey shekat earlier?" He chuckled and lead the way inside to get their meal.

"The fire control tech? Yeah, she was interesting, was acting a bit strange though." He said, as he followed his gunner in.

"She was hitting on you," he couldn't help but chuckle softly. "Tracked me down to inform me that I managed to get the only tom on the planet that didn't recognize it when she made a pass at him."

"You mean that was all an attempt to get me to sleep with her?" He asked, with an eyebrow raised. "I take it she already knew you then."

"Yes, it was, and likely a very blatant one, knowing her." He chuckled with a nod. "We've been bedmates now and then. She's a lot of fun."

"That would explain why the others were amused." Nathan nodded. "They knew what she was doing."

"And most of them wishing they were the one she was talking too," he add, a bit more subdued out of respect for his pilot, though he clearly still found the entire thing amusing. "She's still interested in a threesome."

"Threesome?" Nathan repeated curiously. "You mean as in her and both of us, at the same time?" He asked, making sure he was interpreting the term correctly.

Jake blinked, honestly surprised. "Yeah, that's how they usually work." He nodded.

"That interesting." Nathan said curiously, clearly pouring over the new idea in his mind as they gathered their food. Jake let him think in silence, and found a relatively private corner of the mess hall to sit.

"You've never heard of a threesome before?" He asked curious.

"Um, no." Nathan admitted quietly, as he nibbled at his food.

"I guess you're going to learn a lot of fun things, if you stick around me," he smiled slightly. "One of the hottest nights I ever had was being bottom to two toms at once. It's seriously intense."

"Sounds like it." Nathan rumbled at the hot mental image. "Sounds like the lessons could be a lot of fun." He grinned.

"Any interest in playing wish a shekat?" Jake queried, now very curious at the drastic shift in reaction.

"I don't think so." Nathan said, with an uncertainty Jake hadn't heard before.

"I'm sure that'll raise more grumbles, but can't say I mind."

"That's good." Nathan smiled. "As long as you don't mind, I won't worry about it."

"I'm hardly going to push your into dating habits," Jake said with quiet seriousness. "I like to play, but it's not that much of my business."

"Thinking about it with shekats, just doesn't get the same reaction as thinking about toms that way." Nathan said quietly. "Actually, no reaction at all. Is that unusual?" He asked, the uncertainty in his voice could be interpreted as either concern or curiosity.

"Yeah, it really is," Jake nodded, his voice soft but gentle. "It's not unheard of, just like some toms don't like toms that way, but you're the first I'm met that was that uninterested in shekats."

"I think it's why I didn't get what Talbot was getting at." He said thoughtfully. "It just never entered my mind. I mean it wasn't like I missed the conversation or something."

"I'll pass that on to her, if you'd like." He offered with an understanding smile. "It won't stop all the female interest, but in the circles Talbot and I hang out in it'll keep things pretty mellow. And now you know the answer to that in the future."

"I'd appreciate that." Nathan nodded. "I don't want her to think I was ignoring her, she seems like a nice person."

"Yeah, if a bit of a nimpho," he chuckled. "She's a blast, even without the sex though. She knows the hot spots in this town even better than I do."

"Well maybe the three of us can go out some time, if she can handle me not being interested in her that way." Nathan suggested.

"As long as you don't mind they Talbot and I are interested in each other sometimes, and she's going to comment on your looks no matter what, it'd be a lot of fun." He smiled and nodded. "She really is good about a no, but she's still playful."

"I don't have a problem with that, it's just not for me." Nathan smiled. "And I don't mind the attention, I just don't take it quite as intended."

"You'll probably get along with her great then, especially if you tease back," Jake chuckled softly. "She enjoys the play at least as much as the sex."

"Tease, I can do." Nathan grinned. "A couple of the guys suggested that was in fact what I was doing."

"I have no doubt, partner." Jake laughed brightly enough to draw a few wary looks from nearby cadets. "No doubt at all."

"Is there a reason the other cadets seem to get nervous when you laugh?" Nathan asked curiously, having noted the behavior before.

"Between a tricker nature, my tinkering and general gift for being at the center of anything that happens, everybody gets nervous when I'm in too good a mood." He snickered. "It usually means something big is about to go down."

"Well, it could mean that, but certainly not right here." Nathan said with a playful wink.

"Oh, my pilot shy?" He purred lustfully, his grin nearly ear to ear.

"Well, if the only options are exhibitionist and shy, then I guess I'm shy." Nathan chuckled. "But I'd rather let them use their imaginations."

"While I have the real thing," he purred softly. "With the incredible roar."

"You bring out the roar like nobody else." Nathan rumbled softly.

"Much to the dismay of those around us," he smirked, chuckling deeply. "They'll get used to it, eventually."

"Yeah, and then the one night we're quiet for some reason, they'll be worrying about what we're up to." Nathan laughed broadly.

"Probably with very good reason, given our combined hobbies." He leaned back and gave into the amusement the thought brought up. "Oh, this is going to be a fun partnership."

"The Academy will never be the same." Nathan grinned, with a bright gleam in his eye.

Jake looked at the time again, it was just after seventeen thirty, and his partner had been supposed to meet him at seventeen hundred for dinner. He looked around the dining area, and saw no sign of the Tiger who at seven foot usually stuck out well above the crowd.

He shifted, agitated, then cursed quietly as he stalked to the last classroom Nathan should have been in to track him down. A steel blue shekat wearing captain's bars was sitting at the desk in the front of the room, correcting papers when he got there.

"Ma'am?" Jake stepped inside, pausing for her acknowledging him. "Do you know where Cadet Bashar, the new Tiger, went after class?"

"There weren't any Tigers in my class, Cadet." She said simply. "However, I did see a Tiger talking with Sargent Decker after the class before mine."

"Thank you, ma'am." Jake nodded slightly towards her before turning to check out the combat fields, hoping his new partner had simply lost track of time sparing with the Sargent.

Nathan wasn't on any of the outside combat fields, but there seemed to be a great deal of excitement coming from inside the physical education building and he made a near-run for it, hoping this was a good thing and trying to catch a look before he had to push his way to the front.

Nathan and the burly grey and gold tabby Sargent were circling each other, each looking for an opening. Both were perspiring heavily, and were completely focused on each other to the exclusion of all else. A large crowd of cadets and instructors had gathered to watch, and the excitement was high as Jake squirmed and edged his way through the crowd to watch, more than a little relieved.

There were several quick exchanges of blows that did little to either combatant, followed by an untelegraphed strike to the tabby's shoulder from Nathan that spun the tabby around. When Nathan moved to capitalize on the tabby's off-balance position, the Sargent swung his leg out unexpectedly and swept the Tiger off his feet. He followed up smoothly, by expertly pinning Nathan.

"Okay, you win." Nathan grinned. "That was move I hadn't seen before."

"Not surprising, its from Drunken Swan style. Which doesn't seem like your style." The Tabby grinned as he stood, and offered the Cadet a hand up, which was accepted even if not needed. "You sure I can't talk you into switch to Special Forces, you'd be one hell of an asset?"

"Thanks for the confidence, Sarge." Nathan smiled. "But I'm happy where I am." He said, and then spotted Jake in the crowd. "Oops, I'm late for dinner." He said sheepishly. "Thanks for the workout."

"Anytime, Cadet." He said, and then looked at the crowd. "I hope you were all taking notes, you could all have learned a few things from that demonstration." He said as he walked to the showers.

"Sorry, Jake." Nathan said sheepishly, as he walked over to his partner. "Lost track of the time sparring."

"I figured as much," he smiled and relaxed. "Want to catch a shower before dinner? You're soaked."

"Yeah, probably should." He smiled and started towards the gym showers. "I'll be right back."

Jake nodded and followed at an easier pace, waiting for the Tiger to emerge as he relaxed again the wall and reviewed the extremely impressive display his partner had made.

About ten minutes later, Nathan was back. "Ready for dinner, partner?" He asked, still riding the fading edge of the adrenaline rush.

"Definitely," he grinned. "Let's get you fed before you crash."

"Oh yeah." Nathan chuckled. "I haven't had that good a workout in years."

"Considering you've probably been at it over an hour, I'd expect so. You really would do well in Special Ops." He admitted. "You've got the moves and mind for it already."

"I know." Nathan said softly. It seemed like he was going to say something else, but he stopped. It caught his partner's attention, and a curious look for a second before the lean tom blinked.

"You left it." He finally said simply, not even making it a question.

"Sort of." He said very softly, to which his partner nodded.

"If it's not going to affect you being my pilot, that's more than enough." He accepted easily, not willing to press out here in the open.

"I don't want it to." Nathan said quietly. "It's what I want to do, for a change."

"We'll just have to do our best to make sure it stays in the past tense then." Jake said with simple confidence.

"Yeah, we will." Nathan smiled, and then impulsively hugged his partner. "Thanks, partner." He rumbled as Jake grinned at him.

"That's what partners are about," he chuckled softly.

"You're better than most." Nathan smiled warmly.

"So are you," he purred with a light grin. "In a lot of ways."

It was around noon on the second day of the camping trip, with Jake observing local scenery in awe-fill fascination and Nathan sketching Jake. The weather had been fairly cooperative, being sunny with a cool sea breeze and no immediate threat of rain. Their attention was distracted by a sudden boom that both of them recognized as being something breaking the sound barrier from above. As they looked up, a fireball came hurtling down out of the sky and crashed into the sea at the base of the cliff they were camped on. The ground seemed to shake momentarily from the violence of the impact.

"That wasn't a meteor," Jake said with disturbed, quiet certainty. "Where's the radio and pistols? We need to call it in before going down."

"That was a spacecraft in an uncontrolled reentry." Nathan said quietly, with complete certainty. "From the fireball, it looked like it came out of hyperspace to close the gravity well." He added absently as he tossed Jake the radio and one of the pistols, as he took the other one for himself.

"Haven Protectors, this is Cadet Clawson. Cadet Bashar and I are near the UFO that just crashed at (coordinates). We are going to investigate."

"Acknowledged, Cadet Clawson. You are to observe only, do not make contact. A first contact team is being dispatched. Command out."

"Understood, Command. Cadets out." He nodded and turned the radio off. "Lets go take a look."

"Right." Nathan nodded, and clicked the safety off on his pistol. "Want me to take point?" He asked as his mannerisms shifted from pilot on the ground, to a much more combat ready stance that Jake hadn't really seen before.

"Go," he nodded, knowing full well his partner was the much better fighter.

Nathan nodded and led the way down the trail that led from the top of the bluff to the beach below. His movements were smooth, with a complete awareness of the surroundings. "I'd be surprised if anyone survived that." He commented quietly as they got close enough to see the wreckage that was in the shallow water at the beach edge. "Design isn't familiar." He commented as he slowly worked closer.

Jake remained silent, his eyes and ears open for everything, and quietly filed what Nathan was saying under the clues he'd gotten here and there that the Tiger was living under a cover story.

There was a sudden shockwave that erupted from the wreck, and washed across the beach to crash against rocks. The sudden force knocked both Cadets down, and when Jake looked up, he could see what looked to some alien about nine feet tall, vaguely crocodile like in appearance and was wearing what looked to be armor of some sort. He wasn't carrying any weapons, but then with the claws Jake saw he didn't really need any. The alien made what sounded like an angry roar and advanced on the two cadets position. Jake could see Nathan shaking his head, trying to clear the blast effect, but he'd been closer.

"Crud!" He snarled under his breath and all but dived for his partner, intent on following orders and dragging the Tiger out of the danger zone if he had to. This wasn't their battle yet. Not if he could help it. "Come on, Bashar! Retreat."

Nathan struggled to his feet woozily, and followed with his partner's aid. The lizard proved faster and beat them to the path that led up from the beach. It's purple eyes focused on Jake, recognizing the leader instinctively and attacked with impressive swiftness with the deadly sharp claws. With a surprising swiftness despite his remaining dizziness, Nathan blocked the strike and grabbed the creature's arms controlling the claws even before Jake could fall back and draw his pistol.

"Leave my partner alone." Nathan growled deep in his chest as their powerful muscles strained against each other. Perhaps the more frightening thing was that he didn't sound angry. It was more a glacially calm voice giving an order, without leaving an option to disobey.

All that passed before Jake's eyes and mind in the scant seconds required for him to roll to one side and draw his weapon to get a clear shot. He didn't hesitate as his aim lined up with a purple eye and fired.

The shot was perfectly on, yet was deflected by an energy field didn't seem to affect the two combatants locked in combat. There was a sudden motion by the alien that broke the deadlock and flung Nathan back. The reptilian started to move on Jake again, but his attention was grabbed by the sudden changing form of Nathan even as Jake continued to fire and try to work around to his partner without getting them both killed.

"I said, leave my partner alone." He growled with a deepening tone, as his form flowed from the Tiger Xanith to a midnight black feline biped that was still a foot shorter than the alien but was faster looking, and more muscular. The face was more primitively feline than a Kat's, and the powerfully muscled legs were digigrade.

The alien had little time to assimilate this before the transformed Nathan was on him, slashing with extended claws. The fight became a brawling match with claws, as the two battled across the beach until the alien finally collapsed face down on the sand, bloodied and beaten.

"Next time I tell you to leave my partner alone, you leave my partner alone." The blood-covered feline growled as he sat down in the sand.

"Nathan, you might want to change back before the First Contact team gets here." Jake covered his shock and the terrified adrenaline rush of his first real action. "They should be here any second."

"Can't. Have to let injuries heal." He said, clearly very tired. "Call HQ. Tell them code Obsidian Tiger, they'll handle it." He said quietly.

"Right," Jake nodded, willing to let it go unquestioned for now as he opened the radio contact again. "Cadet Clawson to Protector Headquarters, code Obsidian Tiger. Repeat, code Obsidian Tiger. Do you copy?" He did his best to keep the strain from his voice.

There was a brief pause. "Acknowledged Cadet Clawson. What is your partner's condition?"

"Injured, conscious, sitting on the beach healing," he said, glancing at the huge, primitive feline biped for anything else.

"Understood. Keep an eye on him, and let us know if anything changes." The voice on the radio instructed. "First Contact has a medical officer and they should be reaching your position momentarily. They're aware of the situation."

"Understood," Jake nodded and closed the line. He kept one eye on the approaching hovercraft before settling near his partner to check the worst of the injuries. "I can see the hovercraft. Medic's almost here."

Nathan nodded, though it was clear he was a bit foggy. His injuries were a mixture of long bruises from the reptile's tail, and long cuts from his deadly looking claws. Despite the amount of blood that was on both combatants and the beach, it seemed that Nathan's injuries were healing faster than expected.

As the hovercraft reached the beach, the team quickly jumped out with most of them seeing to the unconscious alien. A tan shekat in Medic's whites knelt next to Nathan and began examining him. "Are you injured, Cadet Clawson?" She asked Jake as she looked over the wounds that were beginning to heal on Nathan.

"No, ma'am," he shook his head, completely focused on his partner's condition. "Nathan took it all."

"Probably just as well, he's better able to handle it." She said simply. "I don't think he's in any danger, but I am taking him back to Medical for observation. I want you to come as well, get you looked over since neither of you has all the First Contact vaccinations." She said before looking down at Nathan. "Can you walk Cadet?" She asked quietly.

Nathan nodded and stood.

"Good, the two of you come with me. We'll take the hovercraft back. A second hovercraft will be arriving shortly to take the alien."

"Yes, ma'am," Jake nodded obediently and followed her without taking his focus from his partner. Despite knowing full damn well now he was up to his ears in a lot more than he'd signed up for, he couldn't find it in himself to care. He had his pilot, they were perfect from each other. How Nathan came into existence or to his side no longer mattered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ========================= ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Hi, partner." Nathan, still the Panther-morph, said quietly from where he lay the hospital bed around midnight.

"Hi, partner," Jake smiled softly up at him from where he was resting with his head on his arms on Nathan's bed. "Feeling better?"

"Still a little tired." Nathan admitted softly. "But the pain is gone. Blessed Mother, that was one tough reptile." He shook his head. "You okay?" He asked, propping himself up on one arm to look at his partner.

"Yeah, I'm fine." He reached out to grip the black fur of one huge arm. "Scared half out of my mind several times over, but you took the beating."

"Sorry about that." Nathan said quietly as his form flowed back to the Tiger and voice returned to normal. "I could never figure how to tell you about all of this." He said apologetically as Jake blinked, then chuckled softly.

"That was a surprise, partner. Nothing that scared me. Finding out I couldn't shoot it, watching you fight, realizing ... that you might be transferred again, that I might never see you again. That's what's had my gut in a knot."

"No, no transfer." Nathan said quietly. "Not because of this. They knew about it before I arrived. I've finally got the right partner, I'm not giving you up." He said with quiet determination. "I bet you have questions though. Feel free to ask, no more secrets between us."

Jake looked up quietly, realizing just how little he cared about all of it. "What world are you from?" He finally asked quietly.

"It's called Felsinor, and I'm not really sure where it is from here." He admitted quietly. "My ending up here was an accident. It's worked out well though." He smiled warmly at his partner and got one in return as Jake made a single fluid movement to snuggle up with his partner.

"How many forms do you have?" He asked, now curious.

"Five that I've worked with. This one, the one you saw on the beach, one similar to that but with big glider wings, a quadruped Tiger, and my base Felsin form." He explained easier. "I'm not sure exactly what I'm capable of there. My one father could take any form he could imagine."

"When you're feeling better, would you show me the others?"

"Of course." Nathan smiled as his partner nuzzled close to him. "If they'll let me out tomorrow, we can go back to our campsite."

"Hungry?" Jake suddenly asked. "You've been down a good eight hours."

"Now that you mention it, yeah I am. It's been years since I've gone full-bore combat like that." He said quietly.

"It hardly shows," he shivered lightly at the memory and slipped off the bed. "I'll round something up."

"Thanks, partner." Nathan smiled.

Unusual Partners 1: Protector Academy

Het Level is None
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

59 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written March 13, 2003 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall

Setting: Galactic Alliance, Haven

Primary Races: Felsin, Kat

Contents: Furry.

Pairings: Jake Clawson/Nathan Bashar

Blurb: Protector Cadet Jake Clawson has a record of getting his pilots to request transfers by being too demanding. Now a transfer is his new partner, in what everyone hopes will be a partnership that gets both extraordinary Kats to work.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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