Lauderhill cutting through the cracks of the concrete
Sometime stuff sucked just enough to get under her skin for a moment. Sometimes people (her) did not have the energy to handle the things that sucked for that moment of time.

So what did she do?

Laid face down on the couch. She didn't even think about that breathing was kind of hard like this, face all smushed against fabric. Really didn't even think about the fact that she should probably get up at all. Felt very pointless because she was here and Ox could bother her if he wanted to. Which, hey, she also did not realize literally anything different there either. She should have been renamed to Clueless.

The only sign of life from her would be a slight groan as she shifted some, face turned to the side so she could actually breathe.
Kali moving in to any degree--let alone an official degree--made Ox rather... self-conscious.

Not that he was normally a slob or an incompetent adult, but realizing she was going to be there to judge him on things he didn't even think twice about? Yeah, he was thinking about them twice now. Which meant he'd gone out for milk, a few boxes of cereal, a few random cans of things that seemed like a good idea to have around for some reason (chickpeas, anyone?) and a small supply of cleaning things.

He came back right about the time she was groaning about being alive, and he pursed his mouth thoughtfully.

Just. Something was up. And it wasn't... just... the fact that she seemed to have lost the will to live.

"Kaaaaaaali," he said, and moved into the kitchen to just dump everything on the counter before wheeling back to her.

If she hadn't responded by then he was just going to sit on her. :(
Oh, he was back and she heard him dismiss things in the kitchen in favor of coming back to her. Felt good. Very good.

"C’mereeeee." She whined as she very slowly pulled her legs up towards herself. Now curled up in fetal position with half of the couch free. It was a very generous offer in her current state.

She would be better sooner rather than later, just need to have a moment.
Well now he didn't have to sit on her, which was a little disappointing. But only a little. Instead he sat on the part of the couch where her body wasn't, but then leaned over to lay his torso on her.

"'M here," he informed her in the same mumbled tones, in case it wasn't quite so obvious with him literally on her and the cats doing a similar invasion of moping space.
She welcomed it very easily. Granted she did contort a bit as her arms came out to wrap around him. Sort of partially turned at her torso for it. Felt very nice to be able to do this without stupid excuses for wanting to do it.

"Did you bring me anything?" Still in mumbled tones. This was also a trick question. She had not asked for anything.
Oh no, captured. But then again, was it really capture when you put up no resistance?

Even if something was putting off a puffy feeling. The cat, a puffy feeling. A little bristly.

"Brought you a can of kidney beans."

This was the fun answer, not the real answer.
"Awwww, Oooooox." She intentionally drew it out as she kind of just let them mush together.

Cat wanted to be all up in his business, don’t be rude. >:[

Something felt off, though. Which was hard to say as someone who was currently feeling a lot of things at once. "You good?" Maybe it was just her and his answer would bring that to light.
It was stupid how much he liked having her here. Fawning over his kidney beans.

She seemed to think something was up, but he'd thought it was just her, so as he sort of squished his chin into her side he looked up at her with a little wonder.

"I think so. Cat feels a little... flighty for some reason." Which would have been real easy to explain closer to the full moon, but that was a ways off? Kitty PMS.
Oh. She didn’t like that answer because she knew that feeling could be no fun. Little bit of a frown on her face for it. Not really at him, just hated that he had to deal with it.

"Do you...need to shift?" He looked good. No pink eyes and no bones where they shouldn’t be. She just wanted to make sure he was all good. Cat included in that.
Why was she asking him this, and why did he find himself asking it as well?

"I don't think so. Felt fine until I... got up here..."

There was something about her, but he couldn't really imagine finding her moping on the couch was enough to send him into any sort of state. Sorry, he liked her, but he was not going to die if she was having a bad day.
"Maybe the cat is upset that mine is all up in your space."

It sounded like a dumb cat thing to be all flighty about. Although it hadn’t ever been a problem before and she had even shifted here. Slept here. Her presence here was not new.

She wondered if it was possible for the cat to pick up on bad moods that weren’t Ox’s. Oops.
"Can't be," he said, sounding certain of that, even without explanation given.

He squint-stared at the girl as if that would give him all the answers, even as he felt himself kind of... tilting off the couch. On purpose. And not even with intent to take her with him, in fact quite the opposite!
Can't be.

Why not? It may not have made sense, but when did cats ever make sense? Maybe when they were smashed together, but that's what they were now and he was still...weird.

She'd just very gently run a hand through his hair once as he tilted off the couch. Sorry but she had no intention to go after him. If the floor was where he wanted to be flighty, he could be flighty down there alone.

"Ooookay." Soft like a little mewl. She could mope alone on her kingdom of the couch.
For whatever reason the cat just felt better being down here. Even with her reaching down to keep contact, he just felt better. Down here.

"Maybe he just hates the couch now." But hate didn't feel right. It wasn't hate at all, he just felt... unbalanced?
"I'd believe it." He had thrown her off the couch onto the floor and they did good being comfortable in bed. Maybe the couch was only for food or something. Regardless she'd...kind of pet his hair from here.

"You feel..." Hrm. Didn't really know the exactly words for the sensation. Something was just off in an unbalanced way. "Different? Like to me in general. Flighty cat mood aside."
He pondered up at her, not really comfortable here on the floor. Had to hook his arms behind his head to give himself something of a cushion, which left him fairly defenseless, but... no, he still felt better down here.

"What kind of different? Cause. You too."

Which he found he really couldn't put into words. Just like something... like the color of something had changed just a little. Not enough to be obvious but enough that it was giving him pause while he tried to figure out what it used to look like.
What did this mean?

Seriously. She struggled to grasp the words that could explain what felt different. It wasn’t bad, just off slightly. Like someone had maybe tilted a painting slightly and now it would never look right again.

"Like..." Blank brain. "Like I wish you could just read my brain and feelings to know." Hung her head slightly off the edge of the couch to frown at him.

"I’m not even sure what it is? It’s more of an actual feeling, I guess."
Yeah, reading her brain sure would be something. (Maybe even troubling in some ways, but not right now.)

He continued to look at her in those few short inches between floor and couch, really ratcheting around in his brain for an answer. It felt like something on the tip of his tongue, or a memory just barley out of reach in a way you couldn't be sure it was a real memory or not. But it was like she said... a feeling. Like, almost tangible.

"You. Cat, I mean, the... not really you but okay, you know what I mean, but you feel... bigger? Badder?"' Had she just marched into his home and taken over and he'd just like... let it?

Oh, cat. Bigger and badder, but she felt neither. Actually the opposite. Kind of small and sad right now. Had been why she had tried to get him to hang out on the couch with her.

"Oookay." Very slow like she needed to process this, because she did. Why? What happened? Why didn’t he feel the same way? Admittedly she was not a fan with a new literal power shift. They had been equal for a while and she had liked it like that. Comforted by the things they shared in every way.

"Why...don’t you feel bigger and badder?" Not said in any other way than curious. Actually. Maybe a little somber. Oops.
His frown was light, more confused than bothered. "I don't know." He had no idea how any of this worked. He'd been kittened around by his sire until he'd run away and grown up on his own, thanks. Okay, maybe he hadn't grown up much at all in any sense since then other than reasserting his sense of adult independence.

He pulled one of his arms free so he could reach up and press his palm to the side of her head.

"Maybe too good for me."

Didn't really mean it, but he had very little in way of explanation.
She wanted him to know so very badly. She wished she could bully him into being bigger and badder too. She did not want this without him, honestly. There was no comfort in not being equal.

It only sunk another stone of sadness deeper into her being. Everything fucking sucked at once.

"Don’t say that." Soft and weak. She had tried for humor but it was impossible to find it. Maybe had she been feeling fine this whole situation and conversation would have been different. Could have made fun of him or tested anything out.

Instead she just dreaded the sudden gap. Even if it hadn’t really changed anything beyond the feeling of knowing she was...bigger.
Was this maybe the most serious conversation they had ever had? Watching her wilt over something he hadn't even really meant.


He sat up, enough to get both his arms sort of around her shoulders and head and smoosh his face to her hair. Which really didn't help the feelings which he was realizing now were feline inferiority, but he didn't give himself the choice.

"What's gotten you?"

Someone had bored out the bottom of her spark tank and drained it all out.
That didn't make her feel better one bit. Maybe worse. Sort of felt like a gateway to just melting into him. So she'd very awkwardly tried to melt off the couch and be down on the floor with him. Wondered if she was too big and bad to be held now. What an utterly stupid thing to even think.

If he stayed sitting upright, she'd aim to wrap her arms around his waist. Just...needed a silent moment here. With him. She couldn't mope alone apparently.

Maybe the cats could work out their weird feelings and everything would go back to normal. Maybe it was all some horrible fluke in whatever magic tethered them to their cats and she would be back to normal soon.

It probably didn't work that way.
Not a word. Maybe he should have felt annoyed by that. But mostly he felt the world's most unusual pinch of concern. Giving a fuck wasn't normally in his quiver.

So, well, if she didn't want to talk, he'd just hold her. Angling so his back was a little more against the couch, definitely not finding her too big or bad to hold. Even if there was this perpetual undercurrent of deference. If he'd been forewarned about this he might have expected defiance instead. He wasn't sure which one would have been better.

Face to her hair, his own mood docile as if to counteract hers, he waited.
She tried to just focus on her breathing. A little bit of his too. She needed to just collect all of her thoughts and put them in the trash. This should not have been such a big thing. He did not hate her. Just flighty cat feelings that she wished she could wring out of him.

This should have been a good thing. So much time dumped into the cat and now she was apparently bigger or something. It very much could have been a moment of celebration that she turned into a moment of mourning.

One very big deep breath in. A little sigh out. "I'm good." Repeated it over a few times in her head. Maybe she could make it true if she kept mentally chanting it.

"Sorry." Offered because it felt absolutely embarrassing to be her right now.
Ox had no idea what to do with an apology like that.

He squeezed her fairly tight for a moment, trying to find a way out of this. Not for himself, but for her.

A lifeline, then.

"Could get you that can of beans, if you wanted."
She actually laughed. Even if it was sort of pitiful and weak.

"I don't want beans, Ox. Not now." Loosened her hold on him just enough to pull back and look at him. Still wanted to be close to him, just figured he needed breathing room. Didn't need her completely melting into him like the disaster she had become.

The same Oxley she had seen every other time. Just cat differences now for reasons neither of them knew.
Hey, should could laugh. That made him feel better, even if... well, not exactly a solution. He situated himself a bit more as she pulled back, letting his heels out so he wasn't crunched into this spot he'd made for himself, shoes he hadn't even taken off yet underneath the coffee table.

"Okay, no beans," he conceded. He looked at her, met her gaze if she could stand it.

"We're fine, okay. Just taken a little off guard."
She could meet his gaze. Even if like, she was still very deep in her own hazy brain feelings.

Slowly took her hands to place one on each side of his face. The gentlest smoosh ever. "Do you think...anything would change in a shift now? With this whole weird feeling..."

What if the next full moon rolled around and she was actually bigger? ):
He let his bottom lip jut out at the smoosh he received, his hands soft around her waist.

"No idea. I don't know anything. But." Serious time, almost looking like he was going to lecture her, "I'm not worried. So don't."
Those words were not ones that any person had strung together with success in comfort. Except she had to really focus on finding comfort in them otherwise it would be a whole new thing to spiral into.

"Okay." A few small nods. "Tell your cat to get over himself." The words meant to be teasing even if her tone was not yet full of life again.

Okay, but honestly? If he could, that would be great. She didn't want flighty cat feelings between them.
Ox was officially convinced this was the longest either of them had gone with being as forthright as possible. With each other or otherwise.

But he kind of dug around in his feelings, trying to sort out the ones that were from his inner beast. It just seemed... not upset. Was his cat a pushover? Ready to go away at a moment's notice if that was what Kali wanted? He hadn't... what? Since when?

Maybe he really hadn't been around enough servals to actually know himself.

"I'm telling him. He just thinks you get what you want, now."

She did not understand why his cat had suddenly decided that. What did she understand?

"Well, that makes bullying you like...a hundred times easier."

Obviously because Ox and his cat were totally the same. Not.

It was easy to wonder what all this would change, though. It wasn't exactly either of them had constantly been fighting for dominance in whatever weird cat way they might, but what would her cat do with a sudden softy cat around?
"The cat doesn't have my wit, I'm afraid," he said, still trying to decide how to handle this for himself, but mostly focused on her. Whatever, he could deal with a little belly-upping. Right...?

"Maybe I just got to stop being such a shitty serval and prove myself to you."

It was the most vague form of solution brainstorming.
"Bad news..." Hummed in a way that let him know it really wasn't bad news. "You've sorta already proved yourself." Surprises and all. It was why she was here, after all.

"Unless you're hiding something." Hands sought to gently rest on her own thighs. As if she had to patiently await some groundbreaking news.

She didn't expect any, though.
"I only clean the shower once a month. I don't know if that helps."

Maybe if he was inferior in some easy way to fix, this was nothin'.

And he smiled, wanting, so much, for her to be able to lighten up.
"Oh noooo." She whined with a face that seemed more amused than actually concerned. "I think that did the opposite of proving yourself."

Although that did not stop her from kind of pushing herself up against him. Didn't wrap her arms around him or even try to do anything special. Just sort of actually loosely pressed up against him like she had been pushed over and slumped like this. Head on his shoulder.

Her cat would be trying to mouth at his cat. Neither her nor the cat were really sorry about it.
There was a lot of cat mouthing going on, but his was literally belly up as he did it. Vulnerable!

Stupid fucking cat, what even was the point in being like this.

"In a month I'll be doing it every week and then you'll be impressed." That was the key. Set someone's expectations very low and then go back to being your normal self and dazzle them with how much you can improve so quickly.

"Do we need to get out for a while?" Not even to shift, he didn't feel shifty, he just felt like... really, she seemed kinda bummed.
Did they need to? No, but she kinda wanted to. Distract her brain because lounging around was bad.

"I think there’s a fair or festival thing around." She was pretty sure she had seen or heard something about it. Maybe he knew more about it than she did.


"Maybe we can go like...not shifted." Be normal people for a day!
"Oh yeah, I know there's... something that goes on around here this time of year." Didn't know much about it, though, hadn't ever bothered going. They could look it up.

"If you want. If you can stand to be seen with me now that I'm just your humble servant."

Okay, maybe that wasn't helping. But really... going sounded pretty fun.
That was the vaguest answer ever but she also totally understood it. Couldn’t remember everything that went on all the time.

Grumbled a little bit at his comment. "Guess you’ll just have to win me any prizes and carry stuff for me." If he was going to lean into the sudden power shift, she figured she had to adapt. Might as well start with festival shenanigans.

"Think you can handle that? Not too late to back out."

Kinda was though.
Oh but she was milking it, wasn't she. Well, couldn't blame her, he would have done the same thing. They were trash, but they were trash together.

"I'll bring my best carrying arms."

As if he would back out on her. He hadn't yet, had he?

"I... should probably go put the milk away, but you should google and figure out the details and if they're open now we can just. Go."
Look at him being responsible and delegating duties. It really nullified her feeling of being big and bad.

"Okay." Huffed as she rolled off of him. Onto the floor. All by herself whenever he'd get up to go take care of the milk. ):

Pulled her phone down from the couch. Searched a little bit until she found the page for it.

"Open froooom....ten in the morning until midnight." Which meant she should probably go put a reasonable outfit on if he did actually want to go. Now.
He did want to go! Now! Because he had no idea what to do with a young woman laying on his floor acting like she was dying while he was also completely and utterly beside himself with feelings of inferiority!

It was fine, they'd be fine. Just needed some sunshine or whatever.
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