Learning Curve 4

A startled yelp woke me.

I could feel sunshine warming part of me, so I knew it was morning; I could smell a scent that I just knew was Tavi, right beside me.

I yawned and opened my eyes halfway. Briefly, it was much too bright, but then my eyes adjusted.

“Sky?” Tavi’s eyes were wide, her lips parted.

“Mmhmm. Feel better?”

“Um, yes. Holy crap. I did that?”

“Well, I didn’t. See anyone else around?”

Silence for a couple of heartbeats, then Tavi laughed and reached over me in a hug. “Right, so practically the first witchy thing I do is turn you into the world’s cutest and definitely fluffiest catboy. What a way to start.”

“Mmhmm.” How could I get her to pet me again? I had an idea. I reached over one shoulder to scratch at my own back, and growled in frustration. “Can’t reach.”

“Where, here?” She dug her fingers into my fur, using her nails to scritch along my spine.

I melted.

“Wait, are you purring?”

I didn’t bother answering, just arched into her hand, writhing to make sure that her nails reached every possible inch.

Tavi laughed and sat up so she could use both hands.

I stopped thinking about anything else. I just wanted her to keep doing that forever. I squirmed around madly, trying to give her access to all of me at once.

She stopped, and I rolled over to glare at her.

“Oh, just hold on,” she giggled, returning to the bed with her hairbrush. “Honestly. I haven’t found a cat to take Ozzie’s place, but I apparently nailed the feline behavioural instincts.”

The brush in my fur made me turn to liquid all over again. How could anything feel so good?

“Oh my god, soooo much fluffiness.” She stopped brushing. “Okay, I gotta try.”

“Try what?”

“Shush.” She cuddled up against me, her back to me, and reached back to grab my arm and drag it over herself. Apparently that wasn’t enough, because she kept wriggling backwards.

She giggled again. “I’m buried in floof! Mmm… sooo warm and cozy… this would be so awesome in, like, February when it’s all cold and snowy and gloomy.”

It was comfy, actually, but she wasn’t petting or brushing me. Besides, new considerations were starting to arise. “I’m hungry.”

“I’m shocked. Well, to tell you the truth, so am I. And it’s a bit warm for this, which is absolutely tragic. Lemme up. Let’s see what we can find for breakfast. I’m doing the cooking. Good lord, the fur that gets in food just having a regular cat around, let alone an enormous and immensely furry one… But first I need to hit the bathroom. Um… total honesty is great and all but I am just not going to ask for details on whatever you manage to figure out about using the toilet. Although if you just can’t, then I guess we’ll have to be flexible. I can’t even just say to pee in the tub and use the disinfectant wipes on it afterwards, because you would never get that stuff out of the fur on your hands. Damn, this changing thing is going to get inconvenient at moments. We might have to just sorta trust each other not to get squeamish, for the sake of getting through this with hygiene intact, even if dignity suffers a bit. ‘Kay?”

“Okay.” I looked down at myself thoughtfully. “Might have to be a little creative to pee.”

“Shame I didn’t make you into a catgirl instead. Okay, let me have the bathroom for two minutes and then you can see if you can figure it out while I take a look for breakfast. Something carnivorish.” She picked up her phone, and sighed. “And at some point I can reply to the messages from my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my brother, Barry, and Bonnie, but not the three from Tim, who is still thinking that the best response to ‘you’re a control freak, get out of my life’ is to try to exert further control.”

I didn’t exactly want to move. The sunshine felt wonderful, the bed was soft and smelled like Tavi, and I was deeply relaxed. On the other hand, I was hungry, and did need the bathroom.

The latter was, to say the least, complicated, what with fur and tail and altered anatomy, and washing my hands was definitely not something I enjoyed. There were serious drawbacks to Tavi’s current creation.

But nothing was perfect.

I wandered out to the kitchen.

Tavi had two frying pans on the stove, and on the counter I saw a carton of eggs and something wrapped in butcher’s paper and a loaf of bread. Her phone was on the table, playing some kind of cheerful pop that I couldn’t immediately place. That was a good sign, since her music choices followed her mood. Maybe cuddling a cat helped.

“I was hoping for bacon, but all I have is breakfast sausages. That plus eggs should do it for you, right? I’ll have toast and I’ll make you an extra couple of eggs instead. Unless you want toast?”

I thought about that, then shook my head. Toast sounded distinctly unappetizing. “No toast, please. Are you okay to cook?”

“I’m feeling pretty normal right now. I want to take advantage of that while I can. I can… I can feel that energy humming inside, and it’s building again, but I don’t think it’s even strong enough that I could do anything with it if I wanted to. I just don’t know how to give it a push unless it’s almost ready to just explode alone. So while we can, let’s have a good breakfast and maybe get that grocery order in so we have more selection, while I’m still able to actually get the door. ‘Cause you sure can’t right now. Nobody else gets to see you all adorable and fluffy. All mine.”

“If I suddenly go missing, my parents are going to point to you first, and someone will wonder about the amount of meat you’ll be buying. Which you probably couldn’t afford anyway.”

“Hey, a strong morph witch can make a ton of money, and it’s kind of assumed that she’ll have at least one TF groupie underfoot. I’ll just keep you around to be cute and keep me warm in the winter.”

“There might be days I’d go along with that. What kind of sausages?”

“Maple-bacon ones. They’re from the farmer’s market, just like the eggs.”


“Out of the kitchen, you. I’ll bring you breakfast. If you think you can concentrate, you can start putting together that grocery order.”

“Um… I’ll try.”

I did try.

But a little brown sparrow landed on the railing of Tavi’s tiny patio, and suddenly the rest of the world stopped existing. I just had to creep towards it, a step at a time, crouched as low as I could.

“Sky, here’s your… what on earth?”

The sparrow spooked at the motion inside and flew away.

“Bird,” I grumbled. “You scared it.”

“This will taste better. Come eat. I’ll put on a YouTube video from someone who makes them for cats and dogs.”

“Um.” I shook myself out of my trance. “Groceries.”

“We can worry about it after.”

“Should do it…”

“Eat before your eggs get all hard and yucky.”

Well, when she put it that way…

Eggs and maple-bacon breakfast sausages were really yummy as a cat.

Tavi soon joined me with her own plate. She sat at her desk, though, and began to do stuff on her computer. “I found your list in the kitchen, it looks pretty thorough. Anything to add?”

“Huh? Oh. Idunno. I don’t think I’m much help right now. I just keep thinking about bacon. And tuna. And things like that.”

“I’m not that surprised. Okay, I am surprised that what I did is having mental effects along with physical ones, because that’s not something all morph witches can do. And boy, did I ever get the felinity right.”

“Should I worry about that?”

“No. That comes with the physical morph and there’s never been a case of it outlasting it.”


“Plus it’s really cute.”

“Oh, well, that’s what matters.” With my food gone, I licked the plate clean, left it on the end table, and stretched out full-length on the couch.

“Of course it is.”

It was really easy to just relax and drowse, not thinking about anything in particular. I did keep track of Tavi, mostly by sound but cracking an eye open any time she moved.

“Order is in, and will be delivered in about two hours.”

“You’ll be okay that long?” I had a sudden vision of asking them to just leave everything right outside the door, and then trying to stealthily bring it in by myself while hoping that the neighbour across the hall didn’t see me. “It didn’t take very long after you had the cookies yesterday.”

“I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine. I messed everything up by refusing to eat so there was some backlash. At least, I think that’s what happened, because it’s building more slowly and steadily now instead of a massive surge all at once. In theory, it should take a bit longer each time for it to build to a level where I have to do something about it.”

“So each time I’ll be stuck as whatever a bit longer.”

“Yes. Although in theory, I should be able to give it an increasing degree of direction, at least generally. I’m a long way from specifics, though.” She left the computer and came over to perch on the edge of the couch, stealing a few inches of my space, but I didn’t mind because she reached over me to scritch along my spine. “You’re doing okay?”

“So far so good. Being a cat is weird but not so bad.”

“That’s a relief.” She leaned down briefly to rest her head on my shoulder. “I don’t want this bad for you. Ever, but least of all when you’re trying to protect me.”

“It’s not. But you can keep doing that.”

She chuckled and obeyed.

“Possibly,” I said, “it’s hard to get upset when lots of things feel so good.”

“Well, I’ll try to make sure you know how much I appreciate it.” She leaned over to get the small keyboard from the end table shelf, and a moment later the TV had my undivided attention. I’d never realized that watching a video of birds of several varieties fluttering in and out to help themselves to a pile of seeds, with occasional drop-ins by grey squirrels, could be so fascinating.

Commercials were jarring, and I felt my ears flatten each time, but Tavi had left the keyboard in reach so I could mute it, at least. Tavi settled herself on the floor, off to one side of the TV. It wasn’t the first time I’d been the subject of her sketches, which made it easy to ignore. It was something that would help her feel grounded and calm, and that was good too.

Her phone notified her about the delivery. I stayed in the bedroom where I couldn’t be seen, but came out to help her put away the groceries. Sadly, the bags were too small to accommodate my urge to dive into one.

Odd as the day was, it was also rather enjoyable: we watched a movie, both of us on the big thick braided throw rug on the floor with all the pillows we could find because Tavi wanted to snuggle against me, and had a catnap because, in her case, she was exhausted and in mine, because cat. We did a sort of photo shoot, so Tavi had reference pictures for future sketches. We had cheeseburgers for supper, although I skipped the toppings and had an extra burger instead of fries.

We hadn’t even gathered up the dishes when Tavi’s expression changed.

“Uh… Sky?” she said faintly. “I’m sorry.” I could see tension in her shoulders and upper spine, and her brows were drawn together, her lower lip caught between her teeth. She tried taking a slow deep breath, but she was only halfway through the second when she spasmed briefly, then collapsed.

She was already on the floor, and there were cushions. She did land in a sprawl that looked uncomfortable, though. I scrambled to untangle her and get her settled in a more sustainable kind of position that wouldn’t lead to any body parts cramping or falling asleep.

“Sorry,” she said, but it was slurred, as she groped for my hand. “Tried…”

“It’ll be okay, Tav. Rest.” I fetched a fleece blanket from the back of the couch to spread over her. “Whatever it is, I can handle it.”

Although, as I watched a very improbable metallic silver spreading up my arms from my now-furless hands, I really had no idea what I was looking at in my immediate future.

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