Nait encounters Calex again in his secret hideout. And this time the werekitten offers to teach him a thing or two about shapeshifting if he wants.
Nait still had a few weeks left of summer vacation after he returned home from being the legendary mouse of destiny for a bit. It turned out, all the lion kid had to do to change back to his original form was put the sword back in the pebble. He would have liked to adventure longer, but the forest was completely out of dark overlords to run off. And so he had returned home, wound up grounded for a week when his parents didn’t believe the whole ‘chosen one’ thing and thought his letters home were a prank, and then resumed his normal life.
Today, he was heading to his secret hideout to plan out his next adventure. He wasn’t sure what it would be yet. But he had juice boxes, snacks, a map of the town, a sketchbook and lots of crayons, so he was pretty sure he if put his mind to it he could figure out someplace in town that was bound to have something interesting going on. Once more, he climbed to the top of his playground to his secret hideout.
And for the second time this year, found it occupied by someone else. This time, it was an orange kitten, that was oddly familiar. He had bright yellow-green eyes and one visible fang. He was younger than Nait, and pretty small, closer to a cat than a human in size. And unlike Nait, he didn’t have a stitch of clothing. The kitten was currently busy drawing furiously in his own sketchbook and didn’t notice as Nait climbed into the small, enclosed area on the jungle gym.
“Calex?” Nait was sure it was him. But, the Calex he knew was some small strange creature. If Nait recalled it was called a Chisagi or something like that… Nait had wound up transformed into one. And then suddenly, a couple days later just turned back into a lion kid. It had been a surreal experience to say the least. But also quite exciting.
“Hmmmm?” The kitten looked up. “Oh hi Nait! Just studying alchemy.” The kitten recognized him. So, it was Calex.
“Studying? On summer break?” Nait gave him a confused look. Then again, he had said alchemy so maybe it was more magic stuff.
“What’s summer break?” Calex asked as he scribbled a crayon in a circle.
“You know when school is out, and you get to just spend months having fun with your friends.” Nait gave the kitten a questioning look. “Don’t you go to school?”
“Nope!” Calex replied cheerfully. “Homeschooling. I can’t go to real school cause legally I don’t exist.” The kid was strange as ever.
“Uh huh… So uh… Why are you a cat now?” Nait asked. Considering his own previous adventures as a chisagi and a mouse, he could easily accept that some kind of magical transformation had happened. Didn’t stop him from wanting to know the how.
“I’m always a cat.” Calex sounded insulted.
“But… You were a chisagi…” Nait tried.
“And still a cat.” Calex stuck his tongue out. “I mean, that was just a temporary condition.” The kitten grinned. And Nait caught on. That magical creature form he had seen him in had just been the kitten under some kind of enchantment, the same one that had happened to Nait not long after meeting him.
“You know, mom and dad were really mad about that.” Nait spoke up. “Didn’t let me have dessert for a week. Said I should know better than to play with strangers… But they calmed down when I changed back. I guess the spell was temporary.”
“Nah, it was permanent.” Calex continued to work on his sketchbook. “But Odin built some kind of Anti-Magic Generator thing. It sent a pulse through the entire city and turned everyone who had become chisagi back into their normal forms. I think he was getting tired of his hat not fitting.”
“So… Odin is your dad then?” Nait paused. “Wait, are you like Thor!?” He then paused again as he considered the kitten’s temperament. “No, you’re Loki!”
“What? No!” Calex finally looked up from his work. “Odin isn’t a god, just named after one. I’m his junior partner. I guess… He does kind of take care of me. I don’t really know who my dad is.” The kitten lowered the crayon as his ears drooped slightly.
“Uhhhh.” Nait felt the need to change the subject. “So… Why are you in my hideout again?”
“Studying.” The kitten shrugged. “I already told ya.”
“Okay, but why here?” Nait asked.
“Oh! Well, after last time you convinced me this was a really cool secret hangout! So, I thought I’d come check it out again!” The kitten smiled. “Though… I feel we could make some improvements. For starters, could get a fridge up to hold juice and snacks for when you have more visitors than you prepared for.”
“How… How would you power it?” Nait stared at the kitten blankly.
“Science.” The kitten paused. “Or is it magic?” He crossed his arms as he was in deep thought. “Magical science?”
“You have no idea do you?” Nait giggled.
“Hey! I don’t know how these things work they just do!” Calex exclaimed. “I find it’s easier just to go with things and not question it. I mean the one in my hideout works.”
“Wait… You have your own hideout?” Nait tapped a paw against the ground. “Then why are you holed up in mine?”
“Obviously cause I knew if I hung out here enough times I’d run into you again.” Calex stuck his tongue out. “I like to check in on friends every so often.”
“Oh.” Nait hadn’t seen the kitten since the other incident. But one advantage of being a kid was you made friends a lot easier than an adult. As a result, he accepted Calex’s logic without question, not seeing any reason they wouldn’t be friends even if they had only interacted once. “So… Am I gonna like… Get turned into a magical creature again now that you’re here?”
“I don’t know! Probably!” Calex grinned. “You know, I get yelled at for causing mischief all the time. But the truth is it just kind of follows me around for some reason. Things just happen around me. It was actually really weird to learn they don’t around other people.”
“Well… Since I met you things have happened.” Nait then puffed his chest out proudly. “I’m a chosen one. Saved an entire mouse kingdom. I got a magic sword and everything. Well needle, but you know it was a sword for mice.”
“You did?” Calex closed his book. “That’s amazing! Tell me everything that went down.”
“Well…” Nait grinned. He had told a few people, and not everyone had quite believed the full story. But it was clear Calex accepted it at face value. And so, Nait regaled him with the tale of the Sword in the Pebble, and the Dark Lord.
“So it was all a squirrel in the end?” Calex looked thoughtful. “Huh I would have expected like a rat king or an owl or something.”
“I know! Right!” Nait giggled. Then he paused as he thought of something. “You said you have your own hideout? Where is it?”
“Come on! I’ll show you!” With that Calex jumped down the slide. Nait barely had time to register the kitten was moving before he realized he needed to get his own tail moving if he didn’t want to get left behind. He slid down the slide himself, and saw Calex already running out of the park.
“Man… He’s fast for a little guy.” Nait broke into a sprint, trying to catch up with Calex. And the kitten led him on quite a chase. All over parts of town that Nait wasn’t familiar with, until they got in something resembling a suburban neighborhood, not unlike where Nait lived.
It was at this point, Calex dropped down onto all fours, shrunk slightly as he turned into a normal kitten, and then ran between a small hole at the bottom of a fence and vanished.
“Uh… Calex?” Nait stopped at the hole. “How am I supposed to…” He looked at the top of the fence seeing if he could jump it. But the wooden fence had to be twice his size. Maybe if he used his claws he could climb it? He took a few steps back.
“Hey what’s the hold up?” Calex poked his head through the hole.
“You ran through a tiny hole!” Nait exclaimed. “How am I supposed fit through that!?”
“Just drop down on all fours and go feral!” Calex replied as if this was supposed to make any sense. When he only received a deadpan stare in return the kitten seems to finally realize the problem. “Oh. You can’t do that. Huh. No shapeshifting powers of your own? That explains the clothes…”
“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Nait demanded.
“I mean, they’re a giant tripping hazard when you change forms!” Calex exclaimed. “Like… imagine how much speed I would lose while running if I had to struggle out of pair of pants after going feral.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Nait nodded. So that was why the kitten didn’t wear clothes. “But I can’t just magically change forms.”
“Would you like to?” The kitten asked with a mischievous grin.
“Wait… Is that possible?” Nait then slapped himself with a paw. “Oh right, you turned me into a chisagi once of course you’d have something else you can change me into… But can we make it only last a few hours? I don’t want to get yelled at by mom and dad again.”
“I meant do you want to learn to change on your own.” Calex clarified. “Then you could change back and forth at will, no worry about getting in trouble.”
“That… Would be amazing!” Nait’s eyes glowed at the idea. The possibility of turning into different animals, he’d be like a superhero. “How do I learn it.”
“Well first, I have to bite you.” Calex explained.
“What? Why!? That’s… Really weird… You know that?” Nait took a step back.
“It’ll heal fast.” Calex came out of the fence and stood up on two legs resuming his earlier form. “But… I do gotta give you fair warning. I’m a werekitten. If I bite you, you’ll be one too. And while you’ll be able to change forms… Well, at least into a small kitten… You’ll be forced to change on full moons. You know, basic werecreature stuff. But, it won’t affect you mentally at least.”
“Oh…” Nait had thought he’d be able to turn into anything. Still, he could see advantages to being able to turn into a small cat at will. And one night a month seemed a pretty small price to pay for that. He held out an arm but turned his face away. “Alright… Just… Don’t bite too hard.”
“I have to bite down just enough to draw blood.” Calex explained. “But I won’t put any more pressure than necessary. I’m kind of really good at holding back my full strength.”
“Uh huh…” Nait decided not to watch. Instead, he tried to look past Calex and see what was on the other side of the fence. The area looked empty. Maybe this wasn’t the final stop. While he thought that, he suddenly felt the sharp pain on his arm.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Nait pulled his arm back and looked at it. There was no wound. There were a couple marks in his fur where the tiniest bit of blood had been, but no actual wound itself. “What? Wait… Did… You really bite me?”
“Yup!” Calex grinned. “Oh right… You magically heal now. So, you know that’s a useful skill. Pretty much immune to any disease that’s not magical in nature. Just try to avoid iron.”
“Shouldn’t it be silver?” Nait asked.
“For werekittens it’s iron.” Calex stated firmly. “Now come on, you can change forms now so let’s go!”
“Uh… How?” Nait looked down at himself. “You just bit me… If this did give me shapeshifting powers I don’t know how to use them.”
“It’s like breathing. Just don’t think about it. Do it.” Calex tried to explain. “The more you think about it the harder it’ll be. But, if you just do it without thinking it’ll just work.”
“Well now it’s the only thing I can think of.” Nait muttered. He didn’t get it. How was he supposed to just do something he had never done without thinking about it? There had to be some kind of trick… He started wondering on what it might be.
“Hmmm, I see we’re going to need a bit more instruction.” Calex dropped down onto all fours resuming his feral form. “Here goes nothing. ROAWR!” The kitten leaped into Nait’s chest, pouncing him and knocking him to the ground. The little guy was stronger than he looked. “And… BOOP!” He lightly bopped Nait on the nose with his paw. “You’re it.” With that, the kitten leaped off of Nait, and took off back through the hole in the fence.
“What? Hey! No fair! Get back here!” Nait shouted. As he stood up he immediately fell down onto all fours as his body shrank. His hands had turned into normal paws. He was just a normal lion cub now as he tried to chase Calex through the hole.
There was just one problem. The clothes he had been wearing weren’t fitted for a feral cub. His hind legs got tangled in them and pieces of his shirt got caught on the fence. He only made it halfway through the hole before he was stuck.
“See, this is why clothes are bad.” Calex was a few feet away looking back at Nait.
“Yeah, well, pretty sure I’d get in trouble if I ran around naked.” Nait muttered as he tried to squirm through the hole. He had no choice but to squeeze out of his clothing and leave it behind to get through. But he had done it! He prepared to pounce the kitten in revenge then froze. “Wait… I’m… A normal lion now!”
“Yup… Very interesting honestly.” Calex grinned mischievously and walked in a circle around Nait. “You should have turned into a normal kitten… But I suppose a lion cub is a kitten.” Calex looked thoughtful. “Hmmm, I wonder if maybe this has something to do with identity and how you see yourself. Still, you’re a full werekitten now! Just maybe a little wilder than normal.”
“So… You really do just do it.” Nait looked at one of his forepaws in awe. “And… Changing back is the same, you just… Do it?”
“Yup, let instinct guide you and don’t think about it too hard. It’s like when you think about breathing too much. You can think of the form you want, but don’t think about how to be it, just be it.” The kitten nodded sagely.
“You’re not the best teacher… But I think I get how it works.” Nait was going to have trouble not thinking about it. But if he could really do this anytime he wanted from now on… Well, he was sure he’d get it down eventually. “So… Where to next?”
“We’re here!” Calex beamed and pointed to a tree. Up above them was a treehouse with a rope ladder hanging down acting as the entrance. “Come on up!” And then with that Calex changed form again, this time to something Nait hadn’t seen before. He had turned into a human! Well mostly, he still had the ears and tail of a cat, as well as pawlike hands and feet. In this new form, Calex easily worked his way up the rope ladder.
“Huh…” Nait leaped onto the rope ladder. But he discovered without hands it was really hard to climb it. He’d have better luck going up the trunk. He tried to reach out as if his hand was an arm, and then grew a bit bigger as he took on a humanoid form again. He was back to normal! Just trying to climb the ladder had caused him to change to a form more suited for it. He quickly followed Calex up the ladder and into the treehouse.
The place was massive. It was amazing it stayed in the tree could support its weight. There were all kinds of toys, comics, cards, video games, a bunch of wooden weapons and as promised, a fridge.
“Make yourself at home.” Calex grinned. He was still in that catboy form that wasn’t quite human.
“Uh sure…” Nait paused. His voice sounded slightly off. He looked down at himself. His body looked smaller than he remembered it being. “Huh… Did I get younger.”
“Yeah, I explained werekitten.” Calex nodded. “That’s why I warned you about turning into a kitten. Your body is about six and a half years old now same as me. Don’t worry about it. Long as its not a full moon you can change back to your normal age just like changing forms. Just do it and don’t think about it.”
“Huh okay…” Nait sat down on the treehouse floor. Since he knew the age change was temporary, he felt like he should stay the same age as Calex now. It just felt right to match him there if they were going to play together. But calex was still in that weird not-human form. “So… Why do you look like that? Were you a human before becoming a werekitten?”
“Oh this form?” Calex looked down at himself. “Nah I’m a natural born werekitten. But humans have longer reach than kittens so it made it easier to climb the rope ladder. But… I can change anywhere between a human and a kitten and stop anywhere in between. I could go all the way human… But I’d feel naked without my tail.”
“But you are naked…” Nait stated bluntly. And was aware that so was he right now.
“Yes but I have a tail.” Calex grinned, as if he had just been waiting to make this joke. “You know, you could take a human form too now. It’s in the werekitten curse.” He paused. “You know I feel like I should call it a boon or enchantment cause it’s not really mean like a curse… But if you ever wanted to you could go human.”
“Think I’d need to get my clothes back first.” Nait stuck his tongue out. “Pretty sure human kids aren’t allowed to run around naked.”
“I never get in trouble for it.” Calex shrugged.
“But you have your tail.” Nait grinned.
“Oh, I see what you did there.” Calex giggled.
“Human huh…” Nait couldn’t help but be a little curious. What would he look like as a human? As he wondered about it, his body slowly began to change. The fur receded from most parts of it, though it stayed from his knees down and from his elbows to his fingertips. He kept the same pawlike hands and feet as Calex as he became more humanlike. He too kept his tail and ears, though being a lion meant he had a long thin tail with a tuft and rounder ears compared to Calex. And like that the change was done. “Whoa… Is… There like a mirror?”
“Let me find you one that’s not cursed or enchanted!” Calex began to dig through various boxes. Nait began to wonder if he should be concerned before Calex eventually produced a hand mirror.
Nait took the mirror and stared into it. He really was human. His face no longer had a muzzle, or even fur. Though he did have some messy curly hair atop his head. He supposed it was natural it’d be a little messy. After all he had never combed it in his life before.
“This is… so strange…” Nait sat the mirror down. “But not in a bad way.” He decided to stay in this lionboy form to match Calex’s current form. He was pretty sure the treehouse was private enough that he didn’t have to worry about getting in trouble for not wearing clothes. He hadn’t even been able to see the treehouse over the fence. Which was odd considering how big the thing was. “Hey… How is a treehouse this big not visible from like a mile away?” Nait had to ask.
“Most people can’t find it.” Calex explained. “I always can when I want to. And most of my close friends who have been inside can too. For some reason no one else seems to be able to see it.”
“Huh…” Having been a chisagi, a mouse, and now a lion themed werekitten, Nait was more than ready to accept magic was real. A treehouse that only appeared to specific people seemed perfectly reasonable with his other experiences.
“Anyway… Now that we’re here… What do you want to do? I got a few board game… Some card games… Video games… Really lots of games.” Calex grinned. “Some of them we get smaller or younger as they go on to make them more challenging.”
“That… Is a thing then huh?” Nait was unsure. “Maybe… Just a normal board game this time and we can try one of the others next time I visit?”
“Sure.” Calex again began to dig through the boxes looking for something.
“Hey… Calex?” Nait had one question on his mind that was bugging him. The kid wasn’t human… But he wasn’t a normal cat. He had said he was a natural werekitten. And that left Nait unsure of one thing. “What’s your true form?”
“Eh, what do you mean?” Calex seemed confused.
“Like… This… Catboy form you’re in now, the small normal kitten, the bipedal one that’s like me… Which is your real form? Like your normal one?” Nait was happy to have his new magical friend, but his existence was still quite puzzling.
“Well… Which is your real arm. Your left or your right?” Calex asked.
“They’re both real.” Nait replied instantly.
“And there you have it.” Calex grinned. Even mostly human he still had that fang. He also had long hair tied back in a ponytail. Nait wasn’t sure when he had actually tied it back.
“Okay, but people are like right-handed and left-handed…” Nait tried. “So, there’s a dominant hand… So which is your dominant form?”
“Well if we continue to use the same metaphor…” Calex thought for a moment. “I guess you might say I’m ambidextrous.”
“Huh…” Nait thought he understood. The kitten was just so strange. But, again in a good way.
“Anyway… I imagine you probably have some kind of curfew or something…” Calex unboxed the game he had grabbed. “So shall we start playing while we still have time?”
“Oh! Right! Sure!” Nait nodded. That was true, the longer he asked questions the less time they had to play. He had a feeling he could find his way back to this treehouse now to ask questions later. For now, the two catboys just played a game. And they simply accepted that some things simply were, and it was best not to question it.