Cats & Dogs: The Hunt

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Below is the beginning of my Shifters serial story.  Let me introduce you to Len and Gaius.  Two were-panther cousins.  They’re going to get into a lot of trouble together!  This story will have some romance in it (you won’t get to meet Len’s love interest for a little bit!) but it is also meant to be light and funny.  I hope you enjoy it! 😀

My jaw ached and my teeth itched. My muscles throbbed and pulsed. The colors of the world around me shifted slightly. Blues and greens became more intense, but the red of the tulips in front of me became confusing to me. Everything blurred around me. The glasses across the room on the bar became indistinct and blurry. I bit down on my tongue and felt my teeth growing, felt them changing. The shift was overtaking me. The shift was coming.

There was nothing I could do to fight it.

I jerked backward, stumbling away from the dinner table that was set up. I had to get out of the apartment. I had to get out of sight before my boyfriend came in. He couldn’t be allowed to see me change. It was against the rules for humans to see one of us go through the change. It was against the rules for humans to know about us.

I stumbled toward the front door. I heard him call out my name from the bedroom and I managed to gurgle out a response, “For-forgot something from s-store! Be-be back so-soon.”

“Len!” He called from the bedroom and I could hear the sound of his feet on the carpet. A soft little patter that I picked up with my heightened sense of hearing.

Fuck, fuck!

I ran for the front door faster. I didn’t bother grabbing my keys, or my purse, or anything. I needed to get somewhere where I wouldn’t be seen and I needed to get there fast. My legs felt like they were breaking as I ran down the stairs to the front door of the apartment building. My back bowed and I stumbled out onto the street.

I heard a car in the distance and half crawled, half walked to the alleyway next to the apartment building. The night was dark but my vision had gone cat already. Instead of the deep velvet black that I would normally see, the world was a swath of grey. As if a film had been placed over my eyes.

I could see everything in the alleyway, the shadows no longer concealing. I slunk as far back as I could get and dropped to my knees. I heard my clothing shred and rip as my body tore itself a part. Changing it painful. Painful and beautiful at the same time. The rending of my human form is a relief, a release. When the change hits my human body is a suit that doesn’t fit me. It is too tight, uncomfortable. All I want to do is tear it from my body and emerge to what I really am.

A cat.

I dropped to my knees in the alleyway. As my back bowed and my spine popped, I reached back and clawed at the skin on my shoulders. I tried to rip it off. I wanted to peel my skin away and reveal the fur beneath of it. Somewhere in the distance I heard a clicking sound. A soft little whirr and a snapping pop.

I jerked and turned my head, trying to find the source– but then the shift hit harder. I felt my skin tearing all over my body and the beautiful release of it took control. I let out a yowl as my cat burst out of my skin. No longer was I human. No longer would I walk up right. No, now I would stalk on all fours.

I shook away the rest of my human remains and looked down at it. It would dissolve into nothing but goop and likely it would be washed away when it rained next. I stretched my forepaws out and arched my back. I flicked my tail and tested all of my limbs. Yes, this was good.

I needed to get to the park across the street, however, where I could roam and wouldn’t get caught. I slunk toward the front of the alleyway and listened. I could hear a car coming in the distance. I pressed myself back and in the shadows. All black I would blend in just as well. I closed my eyes so stray light couldn’t find them and be reflected back.

As soon as the car passed I broke out in a run, across the street and into the trees of the park. In the distance I heard that weird clicking noise once more but the call of the run was too much for me. I needed to go darkness. Into the forest. Into the night.

As I was running I heard the crunch of twigs in the forest. The soft whisper of paws against the grass. I came up short and lowered myself downward. I lifted my nose and took a deep sniff of the area. The smell of pine and grass was overwhelming, but underneath it came the musk of male cat. So similar to my own smell, but more masculine.

My mouth stretched open in a feline grin and I began to slink forward once more. I let out a soft little yowl. Attempting to lore the male-cat out. Here, kitty, kitty, I thought to myself. Come out and play.

I heard another little crunch of twig under feet. I went still and just sat in the grass, twitching my tail and waiting. He would come he would–

Suddenly there was a blur of black fur and fury running at me. I held completely still and he hopped to the left, so he went in a circle around me. Just before he would have cleared me I reached out and smacked him on the hind quarters with my paw– claws sheathed.

My cousin let out a yowl of terror and went running away from me. He hopped in a panic to the left of me. Scrambling through the forest making all of the noise of a bull in a china shop. He scrambled up a tree and stared down at me. His ears flattened to his skull, and his spine arched, fur up.

Poor panther. Terrified of the big bad girl kitty. I laughed at him. Snickering in my feline manner. He sulked up in the tree. It wasn’t his fault, really. If I had his sister I would be terrified of female cats too. I decided to take pity on him and licked my forepaws. I yowled up at him, telling him it was safe to come down.

It took some coaxing but I finally got him down. I nudged at him with my head and ran away, leading him on a play hunt through the park. I don’t know how long we ran but we lost ourselves to it. We found an owl at one point and chased it through the trees until Gaius tried to catch it.

Of course, he did.

He landed ontop of it and held it in his paws. It hooted in indigence and Gaius panicked again. He jumped back from it. Terrified of the prey. It flapped its wings angrily at him, and he scooted back. It advanced on him once more, hooting in rage. I slunk up and smacked it hard with my paw. It took off into the sky after that.

I twitched my tail at Gaius, telling my cousin he was bad. He was so very bad at being a panther.

We ran for a short time more, coming to the end of the park. I found myself a nice big tree to climb up into and stretch out onto one of the branches of. I let myself go all limp and relaxed. I yawned at Gaius when he climbed up the tree after me. I twitched my tail in warning when he tried to join me on my branch. He leaped off of the tree in a panic and scrambled across to another one.

I snickered at him once more, and closed my eyes.

My nap wasn’t nearly long enough. Gaius woke me up with the sound of his change. I could hear him below. His body snapping and morphing. I leaped effortlessly down from my tree and peered at him. The human was emerging from within the cat. I decided that meant it was time for me to turn back as well.

Changing back from cat to human is always a reluctant thing for me. I prefer my catskin to my humanskin, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, being able to open doors is amazing but I loved to run free as a panther. It took me a moment to coax the woman back out. Finally the change started.

My body shook and then began to change. My vision darkened but became richer. My sense of smell went away completely. It felt like I was losing all of my senses. I couldn’t hear the forest as well as I could before. I couldn’t smell everything around me as well as I could before. My fur fell away from my body, leaving me bare. My paws twisted and broke, fingers growing where there had been claws. My tail simply fell off. My back twisted, my spine broke, and my human form slowly grew where my cat one had been before.

When I was done I was shivering and cold. Before I had been insulated from the fall weather by my fur. Now there was nothing to protect my fragile body from the bite of the chill. I wrapped my arms around myself and my teeth chattered.

“Here.” Gaius said, tossing clothing at me.

Thank his nine lives, we usually kept clothing stashed somewhere in the park. I quickly pulled on the sweat pants and sweater. Immediately I felt a little bit better. Less cold. I ran my hands through my hair and stepped away from the goop that had once been my fur.

I grinned at my cousin as he tried to straighten his black hair. He always looked like a spiky mess after he changed. His green eyes flickered in my direction, lingering slightly as a cat. He grinned at me faintly and said, “Good run, Len.”

“Yup.” I smirked at him, “Nice hunting, Gaius.”

He gave me an indignant look. “Hey! I could have taken care of that owl.”

“Yup.” I said with a small laugh, shaking my head at him. “You sure could have.”

“Len, don’t be like that.” He whined slightly at me, and finished palming his hair back into place. I was structk, briefly, by the paradox that was Gaius. My cousin was a real looker. He was also very capable when he wasn’t thinking too much. It was too bad he was totally terrified of everything. He wouldn’t get a woman this way. Sure, he had plenty of girls he flirted with but his sister scared everyone off before it got serious. Gaius was too afraid her to fight back.

Cassie was a total bitch. She thought she was queen of the fucking world. I loved her dearly. If she was on your side it was amazing, but watch out when her bitchiness turned toward you. Like a house cat that wanted exactly two pets, a third would get you bitten. If you were too nice to her when she was done with wanting nice she’d unsheathe her claws and cut you down to size.

Last week a local dog had been trying to be nice to her. She had all but ripped his balls off and fed them to him. I smiled at the memory. That particular dog was the younger brother of one that bothered me all the time. Lee. The week before Lee had sneaked into my house and rigged my fridge to explode feathers everywhere when I opened it.

It took me two days to clean all of it up. I still needed to get him back.

“Hey, Gaius.” I said, smiling. I had just the thought of what we could do to get him back. “I need your help with something.”

“What?” Gaius asked but before I could answer he then shrugged his shoulders, “Alright, whatever you need, cuz.”

“Good.” I smiled brightly at him. Oh boy, he had no idea what was in store for him. “Follow me!”

He looked a little bit reluctant but I gestured him on and we left the park. We wandered down the street until we got to his place. I got his car keys from him without a problem and we started off down the road. Our destination was only a few miles away.

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