Chapter 17: Curiosity and the cat

in which a recent lesson is, perhaps, unlearned.

Why isn't she afraid of me?

Jon walked slowly down the alley, lost in thought. Of course, people did not run away screaming when he approached, but she had done much more than just stand her ground. She had played with him as if they were children... except not quite like children. His arms still remembered the heat of her body through both their clothes as he had held her tight for so long. It was as if his skin refused to forget and he could do nothing about it. He was definitely a man now, and his body had its own opinion of her body. But he was not just a man. He was also half demon, and that was something to fear. If he forgot himself even for a few minutes...

He shuddered. She wouldn't have been so playful if she knew that I could suck her soul out of her with a simple touch!

The cat was curled up on a piece of slate heated by the sun. It did not seem to have a care in the world. Well fed, lazy, relaxed, it barely even opened an eye when a car rushed by. Jon stopped a distance away, as he had sometimes done before when seeing cats or dogs along the way. He knew what had always happens in the past. But perhaps it was different now. After all, this girl Marianne had not been afraid of him at all. Perhaps he was no longer creepy or scary. Even Haugtusla, or Anne-Linn as she called herself, she had only been a little nervous and later they had laughed together. He could not remember the last time he had laughed together with someone. Certainly must have happened sometimes in his childhood, but he could not remember now. And yet it had happened now. So much had happened these last few days. Perhaps everything was changed? Perhaps, in this timeline, he no longer...

He moved forward slowly, without any sudden movements, keeping his hands in his pockets. Walking as casually as he could, he approached the cat. It opened an eye. Then it opened both eyes, lifted its head, jumped to its feet, hissed and screeched and ran away in long bounds, it's fur standing straight up. Jon sighed. Nothing had changed, after all.

It had been like this since... well, as long as he could remember really. Cats hissed at him, dogs growled. Somehow they could see or perhaps smell that he was not like other humans. Even if he somehow could fool all the people all the time, he would never be able to fool the cats and dogs. In the way, he was strangely comforted by this encounter. For a few minutes he had allowed himself to dream. Like a drunk beggar would, for a short time, dream about being a rich and handsome prince. In the same way had he, intoxicated by unusual feelings, allowed himself to dream about someone to hold, and someone to laugh with. Each of those dreams was a fool's hope, and to hope for them both was sheer madness.

He straightened his back, squared his shoulders and began once again to walk home to his small, empty house.