In which the impossible happens, and a familiar face is temporarily replaced with a new.
"Just five minutes more!"
Kurt is used to being nuzzled awake – it is more or less a daily ritual, and overall preferable to an alarm clock – but today there just is something strange about it. He opens his eyes... and is suddenly very much awake. Although for a moment he cannot move, the impossibility of what he sees too much for his sleepy mind to absorb. The face close to his is not the small furry one of yesterday, but that of a young boy. A complete stranger, pale with jet black hair and white bangs. Large dark eyes gaze into his own.
His heart restarting, Kurt jerks back and jumps out of the bed, looking for something that could be used to defend himself. But the next sweep of his eyes show that this will probably not be needed. The stranger is younger than him, seemingly by a couple years, and slender. He is also completely naked, and looks nearly as startled as Kurt feels.
"Who... who are you? What are you doing here?"
"Kurt? It is me!"
That was not very enlightening. Kurt quickly sums up his last memories: He turned 19, spent the whole evening in town with old friends from high school, and Uwe drove him home. This is not Uwe, not to mention the Uwe would be highly unlikely to be found naked in another boy's bed. Then again, neither would Kurt. Unless a lot of time has passed and he has lost his memories. Even then, he has a hard time believing that he... that they... NO WAY!
"Me is not a name! Tell me who you are before I call the police!"
"Kurt... I don't understand. I woke up like this. I thought you had made it happen. I thought you wanted it."
"Wanted what?" He dreads the answer. There is no way he would want THAT!
"Wanted me to be human."
"Slow down a bit. Of course you are human. What else would you be?"
"A cat. I was a cat when I fell asleep. Now I am human like you."
"A cat? Light, no..."
The stranger looks at his hands, as in wonder.
"You can call me Prince."
"There is no way you can be my cat." Perhaps he hoped that saying it out loud would make it real. But it doesn't. The way the boy is mystified by the process of putting on clothes proves it. If he is not PawPrince, he is delusional enough to absolutely believe it. There is no other way a boy would try to put his boxers on the wrong way. Kurt's boxers, in this case. Whoever he is, he has no clothes with him. Kurt finds the last pair of trousers he grew out of before growing up. They fit the boy better. Good thing he had not yet taken the time to pack them off to the Salvation Army.
"Why do you wear these indoors? They are stiff and strange to move in."
"It is part of being human. Humans wear clothes."
"I will! I have always wanted to be human like you. But they are stiff."
"I never knew that you wanted to be human. Look, how can I know that it is really you?"
"Of course it is me! We have lived together every day. Every morning I woke you up and you fed me yummy food." The boy suddenly smiles widely. "Now I can feed myself!"
Not waiting to put on his shirt, the boy bounds out of the room and tumbles down the stairs. When Kurt catches up to him, he is in the kitchen, reaching for the cat food in the cupboard.
"OK, I guess you really are him."
To see a boy eating cat food is just plain disgusting, but Prince seems to enjoy it. Kurt has no idea whether the cat food is healthy or not for the human digestion, or even whether Prince has a human digestion. He sure looks like a human boy, and a pretty one at that. Not that Kurt considers himself an expert on male beauty, of course! But he is quite sure that he didn't look that good at that age.
"So do you have any idea at all why you suddenly turned into a human?"
"I thought you did it. You do many things that I don't understand."
"Nobody can change a cat into a boy. It has never happened. It is impossible!"
"But I am here! I am in your kitchen, eating your food."
"You said you wanted it, earlier?"
"Yes! I want to be human! I want it very much! To be human, like you!"
"But why? What was wrong with being a cat?"
"I want to be like you. And I want you to pay attention to me, like you do to the girl. Always the girl comes and does whatever she wants, and you listen to her, and you talk to her, and you look at her. When she is here, you don't look at me. You forget me, because I am not human like you and the girl."
"But you are always with me..."
"Not when the girl is here, then I am nobody. It makes me feel sick inside. She does what she wants in your house, just because she is human. But now I am human too. I can talk to you and you will look me and we will always be happy together."
"Well... if you want to be human, you should really start by learning to eat with a spoon or fork, instead of dipping your face in the food bowl."
Of course, that is the least of their problems. As it slowly dawns on Kurt that this may be real (some discreet pinching of self involved), the worries come drifting and settle on him like two-pound mosquitoes. What will people say when they discover Kurt here? Bodil will of course be here any random day as usual. She has not been away for a week since high school, except a couple times on vacation with her family. She is certain to make the news very public, probably contacting the National Academy of Sciences or something.
"Look, Prince, we can't let people know that you have been a cat."
"Cats are not supposed to become people. If anyone finds out, there will be all kinds of people swarming the place, taking you away from me and probably cutting you open to see if you are still a cat inside!"
"That's why if anyone shows up, you are NOT a cat. You are ... my cousin, on my father's side. You have finished high school and have come here to study the language."
"But I am not your cousin!"
"I know, and you know, but we have to fool the people who would come and take you away. If anyone sees you and realizes that you used to be a cat, we are both in big trouble."
"I am your cousin and I have come to learn the language."
Teaching Prince to eat with a spoon is pretty messy. Kurt is just glad he didn't start with a fork, because the boy would probably have stabbed himself repeatedly in the face. It is remarkable how clumsy he is with a spoon, considering that he can about the walk and talk without any training.
"Say, how come you can talk even though you never did before?"
"It is what humans do! You talk, the girl talk, mother talks, grandmother talked, the humans in the box talk."
"I guess you have listened to a lot of human talk over the years."
"Talk, talk, all the time talk except you when you read a book or walk your fingers on the clickies in front of the other box."
"Oh, you mean the computer!"
"Yes, the computer. You click with your fingers and stare at the screen and forget everything."
"It's called a keyboard. I use it to write."
"And there are small people who make lots of noise but they don't talk much."
"That's a role playing game. The small people are characters. I control one of them and others control some of them, and the computer controls others."
"You look like you have fun when you do that."
"I do. Perhaps you can try it now that you are human."
"I would rather be with you."
"We could play together. You could be my sidekick."
"I don't want to be kicked!"
"A sidekick is like a junior partner. Eh, that means, you would be someone younger than me who helps me."
"I would want that!"
"But first we have to find out if you can read."
No such luck. The magic or whatever does not go that far. Talking is human, and Prince has listened to it since he was just a little kitten. Truth to tell, he still does not speak as well as a boy his age. Of course, he speaks quite well for his real age. But he has no idea what reading even is, just that people stare at books and forget him. That is not a very deep understanding of the art of literature.
It is also at this point that another problem surfaces.
"Prince! You can't sit on my lap!"
"But I always do!"
"You are a boy now. Boys don't sit on boys."
"But I am still me!"
"It is just not done. Besides, you are too heavy."
"I am not heavy."
"In any case, it is a known fact that boys do not sit on boys. It is not the human way."
"But it feels good!"
"Not when you are a boy it doesn't."
And this was only the beginning of the troubles. Prince would study the letters for perhaps five minutes, then he would lie himself across Kurt's lap and want to be rubbed on his back. "Boys don't rub boys!" did not make him move on his own, Kurt had to physically drag him off. It was all too clear that the concept of being human was still a bit diffuse to his former pet.
"Look, do you ever see Bodil lie in my lap?"
"She would if she dared to. I see it in her eyes."
"That's rubbish and you know it!" Dear sweet mother of pearl, the cat must be making this up.
"Would too! She is always trying to get close to you. But she is just a girl. I am yours. I love you always. I will always be with you. Every day, every night."
"Uh, about our sleeping arrangements from now on..."
"Eow! It hurts!"
"Something is ... I feel strange..." The cat-boy stands up, clutching his head.
"Eeeeoooowww! Eeeeoooowww! Meeeooowww!"
Before Kurt's very eyes, Prince starts to melt and dissolve. Unable to speak a word, or even breathe, Kurt sees his newfound friend collapse in a formless heap on the floor, a bundle of empty clothes.