In which we begin to see a pattern, as well as alien retards.
PawPrince is playing with the bird toy when Kurt comes home. He does seem bored, but not overly distressed. And Kurt wonders for the first time if he imagined it all. He has experienced some unusual things today, but nothing on the same scale as a cat turning into a young boy and back. Could it be a false memory, a vivid dreamlike hallucination caused by lack of oxygen when he almost drowned? Everything seems so normal now...
As usual when Kurt returns late, PawPrince takes some interest in him until the novelty wears off. Kurt has to wonder, though: Would someone who has been a teen boy, find amusement in chasing a finger? He would like to think not.
He tries to read some course books, but his head is too full of strangeness from the day. He cannot concentrate on any hard work tonight. Instead he picks up a novel he has borrowed from Bodil (actually Bodil brought it along and left it here). Sugar High School is a weird teen romance novel about a brother and his sister who both love the same boy, a quarter-angel who is the prettiest boy on Earth, plus he is kinda sin-free and does miracles without even trying to. A bit over the top in Kurt's opinion, and the boy love thing, although extremely tasteful, is just reminding him of what he does not want to be reminded of, not tonight of all nights. He puts it away and watches an episode of Ah! My Goddess! Instead, a classic anime about a young boy who by seeming coincidence gets to live with a goddess. Totally unrealistic, of course. You don't even get to live with normal girls by coincidence. But at least there's no boy on boy or girl on girl loving.
After washing his soul in the cute and innocent anime, he goes to bed early. He will study tomorrow. For some reason, PawPrince curls up at the foot end of the bed tonight. Could it after all be that he has some weird memories too? Or is he just reading Kurt's body language? Despite his speculations, Kurt soon falls asleep.
When wakened by loud meowing the next morning, Kurt feels an irrational flood of relief. In a way it is rather disturbing that he has imagined his cat turning into a naked boy. But it is still small fry compared to it being true. He has no idea what he would have done if it happened again. He gets up immediately and goes through the house ritual of cat breakfast. It might have made sense to use dry fodder and set it out before going to bed, at least on weekends when he does not need to get to school early. But there is something oddly comforting about this ritual, a feeling of still being a family of sorts, even though one is eating cat food and one cereal for their breakfast.
After breakfast, Kurt busies himself with everyday things. First of all, cleaning: The clutter from a week of busy studying needs to be tidied up, then the floors vacuumed, sinks scrubbed, stuff like that. It is a good habit, but more than that, it is a way to avoid disaster. If Bodil comes over and something triggers her sense of order (which tends to pertain to other people more readily than to herself), she might do something rash. Like try to vacuum, which is bound to knock over furniture at best, break things at worst, not to mention get her feet caught in the cord. Better to do a little extra when he has the time.
Next is time to shop groceries before the families show up for Saturday shopping and fill the place to near bursting. As a single, he does not need huge quantities of food, but Saturday before noon is his weekly shopping day unless he finds a special offer some other day. So he is still carrying a few bags home.
Saturday is ideal for making a real dinner. Even though he still has the healthy appetite of youth, it would be a waste to make enough only for one day, so he has the same dinner for Sunday as for Saturday, and typically leftovers for another day or two, ready to heat. While he does not exactly enjoy peeling and chopping vegetables and such menial work, it does not bother him either. And he gets to make his dinner exactly how he likes it. There is a certain luxury to that – not even a restaurant is likely to know your taste like you do. And he is not a man who loves surprises. When he has found something he enjoys, he can enjoy it for years. He has of course a number of recipes to choose from, but not all that many.
After dinner he likes to relax a little, perhaps even nap for a while if PawPrince lets him. He must do the dishes before too long, too. If Bodil had been here, he would have done them first, lest she get any ideas and try to help. He has lost more than a few pieces of china that way. But today he finds himself wondering if she will even show up again at all. Ever. After he told her that he knew of her secret... if she has hidden it even from her own mother, she may be too embarrassed to talk to someone who knows. Despite their assurances that they are still best friends, will really nothing be changed? He finds that hard to believe, and there is a sadness deep inside him that he has a hard time explaining even to himself, a sense of loss, a loss of something he did not even know he had.
In the afternoon and early evening he takes some time to go through notes from the week, and check out things he has been uncertain of. Looking up in textbooks, dictionary and Google, he fills any holes and clears up any misunderstandings. When he feels finished for this time, he spends some time online browsing message boards and such semi-social places. Finally he watches some more anime before going to bed. A deceptively normal Saturday, all in all.
They are lying in the big bed at the hotel, when suddenly Bodil starts to pull off her clothes. "What are you doing?" he asks. "I love you" she whispers, and continues to take off her clothes. Somehow he has also taken off most of his, without even thinking. "I love you too" and he reaches out to wrap his arms around her. It feels weird, even wrong, but he does not seem to be able to stop it. Why are they doing this? It should not be like that... She snuggles closer to him, and he feels his body react to the warmth of her. She rubs against him and purrs softly.
With a desperate gathering of all his willpower, he pulls back and gasps for air, forcing his eyes open. They confirm what he already feared. The boy formerly known as PawPrince is rubbing his naked body enthusiastically against him, purring like a 6-cylindered car engine.
"What the ecchi are you doing, you crazy cat?"
"Sleeping under the sheets like a real human!"
"Have you ever seen me doing THAT under the sheets?"
"I've seen it in the box." He probably has, at that.
Kurt is turning even redder, if possible. "Boys do not rub boys in bed!"
"But it feels good!"
"Not for me."
"Auuu. You liked it too first."
"That was because I was dreaming. I liked my dream, not ... this."
"You did not act like a dream."
"It was a dream, I tell you. What do you know of dreams anyway? Do cats even dream?"
"I dream of hunting. Always hunting. Running, jumping, claws, teeth, blood. My heart pounding. Hair or feathers in my mouth, and blood, so much blood. Warm blood. The smell, the taste."
"Uh. OK, I got it. I really don't think you should sleep in my bed when you are human."
'When you are human.' Just like that. Has he accepted it that easily? Well, truth to tell, he never completely swallowed the idea that it had been a dream or hallucination. He is just not that kind of man, to have hallucinations like that. He tends to trust his own memories. Deep down he always has. No matter how crazy these memories were, they were his, and in truth he always believed in them, deep down.
Prince is understandably skeptical of clothes after the event last time, where he was almost stuck in a shirt after transforming back. Kurt manages to convince him to wear pajamas at least only after threatening to lock him in a room alone if he stays naked. Because, as he should have noticed from a lifetime of observation, humans don't walk around naked. It is admittedly a short lifetime, but Kurt is pretty sure the cat has very rarely seen him naked, and never while walking around the house.
Unfortunately it becomes clear that Prince, while in a human body, is still a cat at heart. Not only does he enjoy cat food (perhaps it isn't all that bad?) but his interests are strictly limited to eating, playing, cuddling and napping. Despite repeated attempts to teach him the letters, he loses concentration after a couple minutes and runs off to play with a ball, or starts rubbing up against Kurt, or tries to curl up in his lap with his eyes closed. If he's not still a cat inside, he is at he very least a retarded boy. This is not good news for Kurt's career, he realizes. Rather than gaining a new companion, he has got a dependent...
Wait, there is something eerily familiar about this. First a pet, then a retarded boy... it is like Jim the alien high school god from Godpole! The crazy novel about a high school boy who was 44 years old, because he had first spend 12 years as a dog, then he started over as a retarded human, and this was his third life on Earth, without even dying first. In the end, perhaps hundreds of years into the future, he expects to be a being so far above human as we are above tadpoles, but the growth is painstakingly slow. The novel was full of weirdness and was clearly intended to be humorous. But the parallel is still striking. Could there be a core of truth in it? Are there creatures living among us who look like animals or humans, but are actually aliens?
Seeing Prince getting his butt stuck while trying to crawl under the sofa after a toy instead of learning the letter F, it does not seem really likely that he is some kind of more advanced species. Kurt sighs. Still, it would be nice. To have someone thinking back, a thousand years from now, and remembering him fondly. Of course, the "fondly" part may be in doubt if it continues like this for some years. Or even days. He can see his sanity funds dwindling at an alarming speed.
"Yeeeooowww! It comes again!" Kurt jumps to his feet. The fear in Prince's voice is quite real, a sense of panic and pain. "Eeeeeee!" And then it does indeed happen again. Prince's body twists, shrinks, and in seconds revert to cat form. Now that Kurt knows what to expect, he is not quite as shocked, but it is still something so impossible, so unnatural that the hairs on the back of his neck scrape against his collar. It is as if reality itself is in flux, and you cannot know whether your chair really is there when you sit down in it. He kneels beside the meowing form and quickly helps him out of the pajamas, which luckily seems easier to escape from than his ordinary clothes. And then the doorbell rings again.
A glance out the window shows that it is the same person as well. Not that anyone else is likely to suddenly show up here. He opens the door. PawPrince is hiding under the sofa, hissing, but he does not seem to be in pain anymore at least.
"Apple pie for you! I bet you are starving!"
He is not, of course, and in any case he has dinner from yesterday, ready to heat. But as his eyes move from the box which presumably contains the apple pie, to the girl holding it, something in his mind slips. And for a dizzying moment he sees not the usual boyish clothes but the undressed girl from his dream. It is just a moment, not even a second, but it still makes him feel ill at ease. How could he have dreamed such a thing? And why about her? It's not like he has not dreamed about girls before, and come further than he did in that dream, but they were all strangers, faceless, generic girls like the pictures on Internet, curves without a soul.
"What? Did I come at a bad time? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I am not! I mean, it just happened!"
Bodil looks around. "Is this in any way connected to the pajamas by the sofa there?"
"Uhm, we just, that is, I just, eh..."
"Uh, if you have company, I can just leave this here and come back another day." Bodil seems slightly flustered.
"No, no. There are no one here except me and PawPrince. You know, the usual."
"Well, you ought to know." She marches into the kitchen with the pie. "Look" she says from the kitchen, "I would not mind. This is the 21st century after all. A little boy and boy action never hurt anyone as long as they take precautions. I mean, it's not like I would be jealous or anything. We're just old friends, right? But I can see how it would be embarrassing if I just walk in on some hot boy on boy action."
"What? I'm not like that!"
"You seem to have forgotten something."
"But to be perfectly honest, I can't imagine you having a boyfriend."
"You are simply too shy. No, that's not the right word. Introverted, I think. You are just asocial. You study, you get top grades, and that's all there is to it. You don't go out to dance or sing karaoke or whatever boys do beside drinking beer. Perhaps drinking beer is enough, for all I know, but I'm pretty sure you don't do that."
"I hate beer."
"Who wouldn't? It tastes like yeast in water. But drinking it is an excuse to meet people. Get out from under the bed where you're hiding."
"Meow!" PawPrince comes out from under the sofa where he was hiding. He glares angrily at Bodil, who has returned from the kitchen.
"Aww! Is it the piddly widdly kitten who has played with daddy's pajamas? Come get hug!"
Kurt inspect the pie and sees to his great relief that it is one of the perfect pies made by Bodil's mother, not an offense against culinary nature such as Bodil herself might have produced. Not that she would be likely to be allowed near the kitchen at home, he suspects. But you never know... she is probably as large as her mother now, and no doubt stronger. She might force her way into the kitchen, if she acts anything at home like she does outside of it.
"Say, aren't these pajamas on the small side for you? Not that I would know, never having seen you in pajamas, I think. They just don't look as big as you do."
"They are mine! Really! They are just a few years old, from when I started high school. Just before I was fully grown. It's the last pair before I got the size I use now."
"There is probably some good reason why a pair of jammies that you outgrew before I met you are now lying on the floor of your living room."
"There is, but you would not believe me if I told you."
"Try me, why don't you?"
"Have you ever read the novel Godpole?"
"No. And I sincerely that is pole as in south pole or magnetic monopole, and not some exceedingly graphic gay erotica."
"Actually it is pole as in tadpole. The main character is on an early stage in his development toward a godlike being."
"Aren't we all?"
¨Well, this one is an alien, from a species that lives for thousands of years, with an intellect and powers we cannot imagine. It is implied that members of this species were worshiped as gods back when civilization was just taking root on Earth. Now they are living hidden lives among us, masquerading as ordinary people. Or pets."
"Or pets. I hope this doesn't mean what it sounds like."
"Bodil, I think Prince may be an alien."