Working Title: Newly Formed Friendships
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Two long time, but very different, friends are caught up in a spell and changed forever. They learn to cope and must rely on each other to survive in their new forms.
Spoilers: None! Definitely AU
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
He must have fallen from the rafter when the flash of white had occurred. He was on his back and felt heavy and uncoordinated, so took a moment to reorientate himself.
Ripping flesh and the taste of blood, the adrenalin of the moment before catching prey, his memories and instinct were all still there. His hearing, night vision and smell were also still working… Yet something was very wrong.
He rolled over and attempted to right himself so he might preen and return to his place near the ceiling, but instead passed out with shock as he saw his own form.
In the bedroom of the small cottage, a similar scene was being played out as the dark haired form roused groggily from his position on the warm hearth rug. As he rolled up onto all fours, he was relieved to feel his collar but belated realized it was strangely loose. He instinctively growled then whimpered as he looked down at his front paws and tried to take in what had happened. He like, his friend gave in to the shock and his body chose blessed black.
In the Mage’s bed, a black cat rolled over stretched and relaxed though did not wake.
The white barn owl had been found by the Mage Alistair when but a chick. For some reason the tiny form had strayed from the nest and fallen. Alistair had picked him up and fed him with tweezers for weeks as he grew. Then the kind human had encouraged him to fly and to hunt. Owill was never tethered nor contained, but for the first weeks had a human made nest in a basket by the stove in the kitchen of the mage’s three roomed home while his white fledgling fluff was gradually replaced by beautiful blonde feathers, patterned with light brown speckles. He eventually took up residence in the open rafters of the cottage’s thatched roof, and was let out nightly to hunt.
The night he was taken into the Mage’s care, a black retriever pup only months old, had been curious about the strange creature that had been added to their household. The Mage initially worried as a black wet nose sniffed over the tiny raptor, then smiled as the puppy was given a nip for his trouble and retreated with a yelp, only to return a few minutes later to look again. This time the tiny bird allowed the contact.
Lex (originally Alexander – but too hard to say during training or when calling him on a hunt) was trained to do what he was bred for – to retrieve and be a loyal companion to his master. Even as a lanky rather awkward five month old, he had a clear sense of his place in the house and was not only a fine gun dog but would also defend his master to the death. Like Owill he was never contained by any physical restraints but loved his collar – the sign of his master.
As days and weeks passed, the two became not so much family, but ‘familiars’, and a year on, the young owl was quite happy to fly down from his choice of perch and share some scraps of raw meat with his canine friend. In exchange, he would occasionally deliver a freshly killed field mouse or small rabbit after his nightly hunt.
The Mage Alistair had been feuding with a neighbouring coven for years. The heavily wooded region only had a few clearings where one was able to grow the herbs necessary for many of the spells cast by both establisments. Initially it had been a silly squabble over a patch of nettles that marked the border of their territories, the two neighbours both claiming ownership. Instead of sharing, however, the coven put a hex on the site. The following day was the first of a very painful number of weeks as the Mage’s case of boils healed. The answer was a hex that saw any of the coven entering the area becoming permanently bald within hours.
Two spells later and they had called an uneasy truce, but it had rekindled of late when his dear Lex had inadvertently wandered onto their territory and been struck down by an impossible case of what, for a human, would have been hives. But for the poor dog it simply meant that by the time he had struggled home, he had also scratched and bitten himself so much that he was missing whole sections of his coat and bleeding. The Mage gave him some elixir to banish the itching, and rubbed in a soothing salve for his self inflicted wounds. The following evening, three of the coven’s witches again picking nettles in the disputed patch, found themselves completely voiceless.
The remaining ‘speech enabled’ witches decided to fix the situation once and for all, concocting a spell that would shift the mage’s form, while keeping his original nature.
What they had not accounted for were his two companions, one a creature of the day, the other, of the night.
Owill woke first and tried again to take stock. He examined, in amazement, his nude human form: arms and hands, where there had been feathers and wings; long legs and feet, where there had been powerful talons; and a bald chest where there had been handsome feathers. He could only turn his head half way! And when attempted his usual call, a strange baritone ‘OOoooo’ was all that came out.
He lifted a hand to his face and felt no beak, rather there was a mouth! How was he supposed to eat?
He struggled to his feet holding the nearest piece of furniture for support. His toes would not grip and the surface was flat and slippery. He wished for his perch. In the end he sat down again and did something he had been unable to do as a bird. He shed tears.
Lex had fared little better. He woke for the second time and ran his tongue over now blunt teeth, noted his sense of smell seemed dulled, and worried that he could no longer seem to prick up his ears. He too examined arms, hands, legs and feet, distressed that his fur had all but gone, though in a strange way pleased to feel his collar was still in place. His master would no doubt be able to fix the situation.
Unlike his owl companion he didn’t bother to stand, simply remained on all fours, though he did notice the cat on his master’s bed and rose onto his knees, hands on the bed and did his best to growl and bark at the intruder. The black moggy woke suddenly, panicked, then took off into the night through the slightly open window.
Satisfied, he decided to find master and moved into the lounge on all fours, only to see a human huddled in a corner. He approached with caution but did not feel any prickles of danger as he came closer, indeed the pale form smelt familiar and was obviously miserable.
He did as he always did when his master was upset, he moved in close and licked first the hands and then under the chin, and once across the cheek. He somehow knew this human was a friend and so was very pleased when he was invited to accept an embrace.
Owill for his part could smell the familiar scent and realized what had happened. This was Lex. They had both been changed… how on earth were they supposed to survive?
The two sat on the floor in their embrace and took mutual comfort whilst waiting and hoping the Mage would return soon.