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.
Over the next three months, Skye and Brad gradually schooled their dear neighbours, building skills and encouraging them. Brad knew to pet (Lex)ander as often as possible, the preference being a pat on the head or affectionate scratch behind the ears or under the chin. Will also seemed to enjoy affectionate touches but preferred thatthe back of his head, his shoulders and lower back to be stroked gently. Both new humans were partial to a hug at any time.
(Lex)ander followed Brad into the garden every day their neighbours came to assist.
Brad had built him a trolley using old wheels found on a discarded shopping trolley and a box arrangement. There was a piece of old conduit on either side of a sturdy handrail, designed to hold larger garden implements and a little bucket on the side for smaller tools, and the handrail was designed for pushing and support. The former dog was thrilled. He was gradually learning words for each of the tools, not so much to say, but at least to understand. He had mastered walking around pushing the cart, holding onto implements with a strong grip, and passing things to the wonderful Brad when asked. Though some of the bigger implements were still tricky with his balance for a time, he was very good on all fours in the garden and could dig easily with hands and now, small tools. As long as he was told where to dig, he was happy to dig as far and as long as he was instructed… and then some.
He had buried several bones from the evening dinners left behind by Skye – much to the disgust of the owl. Though he could not work out why the look of disdain, given that the former owl was also struggling with the change, refusing to come out during the day and often staring toward the rafters and “Hooing” pitifully.
Skye had noted the blonde human’s preference for heights and mournful looks upward during the day, two weeks later, a ‘Brad built’ mezzanine level, graced the rafters over almost half the tiny lounge area. It consisted of five wide planks trussed together like a raft, a thin single mattress, and ladder going up. Will was thrilled and from then on, spent many a lazy hour simply watching the household from above as he always had. (Lex)ander joined him once and the cat a few times, but neither liked the precarious height.
Under Skye’s encouraging eye, Will’s coordination and walking improved. He was inside during the day by preference, so she taught him to wield a knife to fillet fish and cut vegetables; to hum a tune – though it was more a tuneful ‘hoo’ than a hum; mark the eggs each day with strange scratches that he gradually learned as numbers; and use all the household equipment. She talked to him of instinct and of honouring his past. Finally, in his fourteenth week as human, Will disappeared into the night to hunt.
The first night there was nothing, and Will returned to the house and his friend, the ex-dog, exhausted and frustrated. (Lex)ander welcomed his pale companion home and held him in a loving hug as Will shook, cried silently, then tried to explain his failure and distress. But over the ensuing weeks, he gradually began to find ways to move silently on the forest floor; to wait patiently in the shadows watching his quarry as he always had; and to pounce with a speed that was increasingly otherworldly. The rabbit and field mouse communities lost a few of their slower members to the new human, and the night creatures learned that there was a new predator in their midst.
More often than not he caught with hands where previously there had been talons, and bit down savagely with teeth where there would have been a curved beak, but the result was the same – neck snapped and throat torn out, the death a quick and relatively painless one.
Neither human had the ability to skin and gut an animal, so relied on Skye to process Will’s catches. As his hunting improved, Skye realized something quite profound. At no point did Will ever bring home more than would be eaten by the ‘family’ in a day, and as mouse was not really to her taste, she slowly taught him to fish – in his own way of course!
For Will it was an exciting experience. He had watched his cousins, eagles and occasionally a hawk, pluck fish from rivers and lakes – but always in daylight and always from above. Now he was able to use a lure, snag the creature and pounce on them once they were hooked. It wasn’t as glamorous as the spectacle of catch and fly - and certainly he ended up wet - but very early morning or late afternoon it was a satisfying sport and one his friend the dog gradually learned to enjoy also.
As Brad and Skye wandered home on the evening marking their fifth month of helping their friends, they chatted about their various wins – Will with his simple cooking, fishing and hunting; and (Lex)ander with his care for the garden and animals and slowly developing carpentry skills. Apart from a yelp as he hit a thumb on the the previous week, and the need to be coddled and coaxed back to the task, (Lex)ander had become quite astute at hammering, sawing and painting, he was excellent at rounding up the poultry, and of course his digging skills were ‘exemplary’.
The two kind souls suddenly realized just how far their changed charges had come – given (and Brad had accepted now) their bewildering starting point.
Clothes were still a point of contention, though colder weather made convincing the changed humans to wear things at least for warmth. In the end Skye had resorted to sewing some pants out of black ‘polar fleece’ soft and fuzzy outside and in. (Lex)ander was thrilled, Will not so much until he was presented with a second pale pair with a brown feather print. That day Skye was graced with a tight hug and kiss then watched as Will continued to stroke the material covering his thighs and ‘hooo’d happily.
Speech was the slowest of all to develop. There were now many words understood, but few words said. With everything else Skye had decided it was probably to be a separate ‘project’, needing special attention.
And all the time the two new humans had been learning and growing into their roles, the former Mage was drifting into his cat persona more and more, to the point of no longer conversing with Skye in his human form and often refusing contact in the astral realm. But he did perform one last act before slipping permanently into his cat manifestation… He led Skye to his spell books.
The cat had been insistent rubbing at her legs until she followed him to the bedroom where he tugged away a rather moth eaten rug on the floor. He pawed at a knot hole in the wood. Skye pushed on it not really sure that was what she had to do, and a trapdoor in the floor slowly opened.
The space revealed was little more than an in floor cupboard, however contained all manner of jars apparently containing spell ingredients and six enormous ancient books.
The cat was near frantic as she moved to close the door again. Nudging, licking and mewing, he finally encouraged her to take the books. She wondered at his motivation, but finally, simply complied.
Skye hitched the heavy satchel up again as she and Brad kept walking and continued their discussion regards Will, (Lex)ander and the cat’s futures. Both silently worried a little by the contents of the books and what might be so important that she should take the books home with her.
They all sensed the weather change, it had been unusually warm and humid, and they all felt the prickles and could see the black clouds approaching late afternoon. There had been a gentle breeze all afternoon, but it too stopped leaving an eerie quiet.
Will returned from his hunt the instant the wind dropped. He was empty handed and more than a little spooked, but they had food and the signs were all there.
(Lex)ander had a surprisingly easy time convincing the chickens and ducks to return to their coop for the evening, and on instinct rounded up the two goats and put them in the small tool shed come lean-to at the rear of the cottage.
Leaning heavily on the handrail for balance Will opened the backdoor only to see the cat sprint past into their home. (Lex)ander was next and once inside, he took Will’s free hand, and tugged him inside then locked the door behind. Minutes later the wind picked up.
The storm struck full force around a half hour later - first rain, then driving rain and lightening with accompanying thunder. Loud horrifying bursts of sound, threatening flashes and residual rumbles…
At the first loud crack (Lex)ander whimpered and sprinted on all fours to the bedroom where he promptly buried himself under the bed covers. Will was not far behind, his ceiling abode just a little too close to the action. The cat had taken his place in his basket curled up tightly ready to wait it out.
As soon as Will entered the bed he was grabbed and hugged hard then had his face licked for good measure. (Lex)ander continued to lick and touch for his own comfort, distracting him from frightening world outside. It worked but also had a surprising effect on his friend. What began as comfort quickly developed into more, the ex-dog soon finding himself the recipient as well as the giver as soft slim fingers began to knead his firm muscles and stroke him.
The electrical storm outside paled into non existence as the storm of sensation and passion in the bedroom increased.