by Hanashi Aino (はなし愛乃)
Thomas Elytherion, mage, lived alone in a large house full of books and spell equipment, and he was quite happy that way, thank you very much. Having other people around was nothing more than an annoyance, he said; they’d only try to interrupt him when he was working on something or put things in the wrong places or otherwise disrupt the pattern of life with which he was comfortable.
Therefore, it was not out of any desire for companionship that he took in the cat. He’d found the thing, a scrawny bundle of brown fur, frozen half to death on his doorstep one winter night and brought it inside out of pity. His intention had been to give it a few meals, let it thaw out a bit, and turn it out again once the weather was nicer and the cat a bit healthier.
By early spring, the scrawny bundle of fur had become a sleek and muscular tomcat, and the weather was fairly pleasant for the time of year, so Thomas decided that perhaps it was time to get rid of the cat. (He was certainly not reluctant at all to do this- he was really quite glad.) The cat, however, had other ideas. When he threw it out the door that first time, it was back by that evening. He tried again several times, with similar results, and eventually gave up altogether. It simply would not leave. Instead, it spent most of its days following him around- well, perhaps “following” wasn’t quite the right word. It was more that it just happened, casually, to be wherever he was, watching him. He never really saw it move from place to place- if he hadn’t known better, he’d almost have sworn that it was teleporting. Every now and then it disappeared to do whatever mysterious things cats do when no one else is looking, but within a few hours it would be back, watching him again. It was a little unsettling, but Thomas supposed it could be worse- at least the cat didn’t demand conversation or try to talk to him while he was working, and it wasn’t capable of putting things back in the wrong places (although it did show a distressing tendency to want to sleep on whatever book Thomas was reading at the moment). As company went, Cat- as Thomas had taken to calling it, not being particularly imaginative- was fairly unobtrusive, and he grew rather accustomed to its presence. He even began talking to it, carrying on one-sided conversations that were really quite pleasant, although he took them afterwards as signs of impending insanity. Eventually, he had to admit to himself that he almost enjoyed having Cat around.
Until, that is, the day Thomas awoke and went down to the kitchen to find a naked man lounging casually against the table.
Thomas stood there for a minute, blinking, words refusing to find their way to his mouth.
“What- who are you?” he managed finally, looking embarrassedly at a spot above the strange man’s head and a bit to the left.
“You don’t recognize me?” the man replied. His voice sounded odd in a way that Thomas couldn’t quite put his finger on. “I think I’m hurt.”
The man, Thomas decided, was most probably insane. He wondered what he should do about it. If anyone had ever told him what to do when an insane naked man showed up in his kitchen, he hadn’t been listening.
“After all,” the strange man continued, “I’ve been living with you for months.”
“I- you- what?”
“Over half a year, in fact.”
“I most certainly have not,” Thomas said, still resolutely not looking at the man, “been living with anyone for over half a year, much less a m- much less you. Now, kindly leave my house, or I shall have to remove you forcibly.”
“You tried that already.”
“Yes, back in… March, was it? It didn’t work.”
“Aha,” said Thomas faintly. A horrible realization was beginning to dawn on him.
“I didn’t want to miss dinner, you see. A shame no one ever told you not to feed strays.”
“Aha,” said Thomas again, as his brain was not working quite well enough to come up with anything else.
“For you, anyway. I, on the other hand, was quite grateful for it.”
“You- you couldn’t possibly be-”
“I didn’t much appreciate the collar, though. I’m not a house pet, you know.”
“- not the cat?”
“I see you’ve figured it out,” said the former cat, a bit smugly. “It did take you long enough.”
“I- what- this- this makes no sense at all! I knew I was losing my mind.”
“You of all people should know that things like this aren’t impossible.”
“Well, no, not in theory, of course, but- but you’re a cat! You shouldn’t be able to do things like this by yourself!”
“I watched you work. And besides, you’re a mage- magic is easier to shape around you.”
“Well, all right, but- why?”
“So that I could do this,” Cat said, and before Thomas could ask what “this” was, Cat had, in one fluid motion, leapt up and pinned Thomas against the wall, and his tongue was in Thomas’s mouth. Some distant part of Thomas’s mind wondered where in the names of all the hells someone who had, as of yesterday, been a cat had learned to kiss like that, but he couldn’t exactly ask at the moment.
Once the surprise wore off, however, he shoved Cat away. “Look, this is just wrong, it’s- could you at least put some trousers on or something?”
“What would the point of that be?”
“You are not- we are not- just go away, will you?”
“Fine,” said the former cat, stalking out of the kitchen.
But when Thomas went to his study later that morning, Cat was there (now dressed rather awkwardly in some of Thomas’s spare clothes- it looked as though he hadn’t really been sure how to put them on), perched on a chair and watching him as usual. Throughout the day, Cat continued to follow him, just as he had when he was actually, well, a cat. Thomas tried to ignore him, but it was even more difficult than it had been before. One night during supper, after several days of total silence, Thomas turned to Cat and said, “This has got to stop.”
Cat, who had been attempting to surreptitiously lick his plate, looked up nonchalantly. “What has?”
“This… thing that you do where you follow me around and stare at me. It was one thing when you were a cat, but you’re a person now, and it’s just… odd.”
“Sorry,” Cat replied, in a tone that implied that he wasn’t really.
“Look, can’t you just… go back to being a cat or something?”
“I like this form better,” said Cat, and returned to his dinner. The conversation ended.
For several more days, Thomas thought. There were spells he could use to bind Cat in his original form, and other spells to make sure that Cat left his house and never returned. They weren’t terribly hard (at least when it was cats or people that were involved rather than, say, demons) and wouldn’t take too much preparation. It would be next to no trouble to do one or the other and be rid of the problem entirely. Yet somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to do that.
And so, having reached something of an impasse, the two went on as they had before, Cat following Thomas around and Thomas doing his best to pretend that he wasn’t.
Over time, however, Thomas began to become accustomed to Cat, just as he had before. He found himself talking to him again, and taking an odd sort of comfort in the other man’s usually silent presence. Although Cat seemed interested in Thomas’s work, he still didn’t ask questions when Thomas was in the middle of researching or spell-casting or try to start conversations with him when he was otherwise occupied. So Thomas found that he didn’t mind having Cat there as much as he’d thought he would. Before he knew it, he was asking Cat to fetch things and hold things and whatnot while he worked. It was nice to have the help, he thought.
And so, almost without noticing it, they fell into companionship.
Then one morning, Cat said suddenly, “Perhaps we should give it another try.”
And before Thomas had a chance to ask what “this” was, Cat had leapt up and pinned him to the wall, and his tongue was in Thomas’s mouth.
Thomas gave in for a moment, this time, but then pulled away again. “We can’t do this here,” he said, his voice sounding oddly distant to him.
“Why not?” asked Cat, kissing him again, and Thomas found that even if his mouth had not been occupied, he couldn’t have thought of a good reason.
After a while, Cat took his mouth off of Thomas’s, and Thomas was almost disappointed until he felt Cat’s hot breath on his neck, Cat’s teeth lightly nipping his ear. As Cat worked his way slowly down Thomas’s neck towards his shoulder, Thomas felt his cock begin to grow hard, and felt Cat’s begin to harden too through the thin fabric of his trousers. They were such a nuisance, trousers, Thomas thought. Getting in the way like that. He began fumbling with the buttons of his, and eventually, somehow, managed to get them off. Meanwhile, Cat seemed to have gotten rid of his clothes, too. Fishing in a pocket of his discarded trousers, Cat produced a small jar of something cool and slippery- so he was planning this, Thomas thought vaguely- and began to slick himself with it as Thomas watched, his hand moving slowly on his own erection. Thomas let out a slight moan, and Cat grinned predatorily as he moved around behind Thomas, his cock pressing insistently against Thomas’s opening. As he entered Thomas, one hand slid down over Thomas’s chest and found his cock; grasping it, he began to stroke it in time with his thrusts, slowly at first and then faster and faster and all Thomas could think of was the sensation and he barely even noticed the coldness of the floor tile beneath him and Cat went faster still, building and building until-
Cat came first, spilling all over Thomas, his hand tightening reflexively on the other man’s member; Thomas followed moments later, making a mess of the kitchen floor. They lay there for a while, side by side, catching their breath.
Finally, Thomas got up, cleaned himself off with a quick spell, and retrieved his clothes. He had things to do, after all.
Cat grinned up at him lazily from his position on the floor. “Are you leaving already? I was thinking we could try that again in a bit; it was fun.”
“You’re infuriating,” Thomas said, but there was no real venom behind his words- he couldn’t help smiling back before he left the room.
Thomas Elytherion, mage, no longer lived alone, and he didn’t mind it nearly as much as he’d thought he would.