Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Roxbury Stories
Characters: Dan Shapiro, Jase, Misha, Raz Talhami
Summary: A pair of remarkably intelligent cats need to find a safe home.
LINK TO PART ONE
Sanctuary by J.Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Dan woke up to the feel of a rough cat tongue tickling his ear, and then his morning stubble. That was followed by an insistent nudge to his chin.
He smiled--this had to be the friendly one. "Yeah, good morning," he said through a yawn. Then he opened his eyes and reached out to scratch the cat's head. "You're a little attention whore, huh? I didn't know Siamese were so sociable."
The cat kept nuzzling and licking in response, mewling now and then for emphasis as he cleaned Dan's face.
As far as Dan knew, the little guy had spent the night curled up against his shoulder. His brother, meanwhile, had started on the bedroom floor, but at some point he must have found the top of Dan's dresser more to his liking. Right now he looked like a king surveying his domain.
"Ok, ok," Dan said, pushing the friendly cat away from his face. "I'm awake. Let me get up and dressed and then we’ll find out who's responsible for you two."
But after a half hour of phone calls, he was still drawing a blank. The police didn't know anything about two missing Siamese. Neither did any local vets or animal shelters. Dan called the local papers too, to see if anyone had posted an advertisement for their lost pets, but no luck. He left his name and number with all concerned and then set the phone down. Then he leaned back in his armchair and considered his visitors.
The friendly cat had been sitting on his lap the whole time, snuggling against his chest and stomach as he made the calls. His aloof sibling, meanwhile, had been watching the proceedings from another chair.
Dan frowned at them both. "Why isn't anyone looking for you two?"
Neither cat seemed inclined to answer.
He sighed. He hadn't had pets since he was a kid. He was thirty-eight now. Wasn't that a bit late to start?
But it might be nice to come home to these two rather than an empty house. His only marriage had ended in disaster, and since then he hadn’t found another woman he wanted to live with. But the cats would probably be less demanding. And they wouldn’t be as much hassle as, say, a dog would. He wouldn't have to walk them or let them out into the yard. If he needed to go away for a couple of days, he could just leave out extra food and water and not worry about them. They could keep each other company.
"All right," he said. "You two can stay--unless someone turns up to claim you, that is. We'll wait a week. After that, I'll take you to the vet's for your shots and such."
The friendly cat stiffened and stared up at him, his blue eyes widening as if he knew what 'and such' signified.
"Yeah, you have to be neutered," Dan informed him.
The cat started pawing at his chest frantically. He kept his claws tucked in, but he made his displeasure clear. His brother sat up in his chair and hissed.
Dan shut his eyes. This was ridiculous. There was no way these two understood him. But he decided to play along, on the off chance that he really was a cat whisperer.
The cats would be staying indoors, he reminded himself. They wouldn't have an opportunity to father any unwanted kittens. As long as they didn't spray the place, he didn't need to have them castrated. The vet would advise him to--but he'd refuse on the grounds that he might want to breed them someday.
"All right, all right," he said, scratching the friendly one behind the ears. "No castration. Just behave yourselves, ok? You two will stay inside, away from any feline females. And no testosterone driven fights for dominance. Got it?"
Both cats seemed to relax at that. Dan tried to convince himself that he was imagining things, but it was getting harder and harder. Maybe a change in subject was in order.
"You're going to need names," he said. "I don't suppose you have any ideas on the subject?"
To his relief, neither cat answered. He had half expected them to speak up.
He spent the next half-hour tossing names out, only to dismiss them. The friendly cat seemed interested in his words, even giving him a thoughtful look from time to time. But the aloof cat was busy licking himself. His paws, his face, his belly, his feet--even his balls. Dan shook his head at that. Life must be good for felines.
"How about Jase?" he continued, petting the friendly one. "There was a Jason in my grammar school who went by Jase. I always liked that nickname."
The friendly cat perked up at that--he started purring louder and bounced up so he could rub the top of his head against Dan's chin.
"Ok, ok," Dan said, laughing. "Jase it is. Now, what about your brother?"
But Jase had no advice to offer. Dan kept throwing names out there until the aloof cat finally heard a name worth ignoring his balls for.
"Misha?" Dan said, surprised. "That's the one you like?"
The cat didn't answer, but he remained alert with his full attention focused on Dan.
"Ok. That's the nickname of this Russian-Israeli surgeon I used to know. I guess it'll work."
Misha almost seemed to nod before going back to cleaning himself.
"Now that we've got that settled, I'll go out and run some errands," Dan said as he lifted Jase off of him and put him on the floor. "I'll probably grab some breakfast while I'm out--damn it's late; make that lunch--so I'll be back in a couple of hours. Behave yourselves while I'm gone."
Both cats gave him an angelic look, their pointed faces almost ludicrously innocent and their blue eyes bright and guileless. Dan laughed as he stood up and headed for the door.
Misha jumped up to the window sill and watched as Dan got into his car, backed down the driveway and drove off. Once the car was out of sight, he turned back to his brother, only to find him in the midst of transforming. The beige and black fur seemed to expand and blur and then dissipate, revealing the naked form of a human male who looked to be about twenty or so. Human years, of course.
Raz had explained once that both cats were attractive in their human forms. He said their blue eyes coupled with the slight Eurasian cast to their features “worked for them.”
Maybe that was so, but Misha suspected that Jase would be attractive no matter what color eyes he had or what race he belonged to. He was all charm and kittenish enthusiasm, and humans found that hard to resist.
"I like our new person!" Jase was saying, unshaken by his transformation. "And I like our new home."
Misha decided to follow his brother's example; it would be easier to continue this conversation in human form. He felt the familiar blast of pain as his bones re-knit themselves and his muscles stretched and recoiled--but then the pain was gone and he just felt strange, disjointed and somehow out of place.
"This house is ok," he agreed, trying not to mind the foreign feel of his human tongue. "And I think we can trust Dan. He smells good and--well, he feels right. I can live with this situation."
"Live with it? This place is perfect! And even if those other humans are looking for us--which I doubt--they won't find us here."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," Misha warned. "When Dan was on the phone, he left ways for people to contact him in case anyone lost a pair of Siamese. Weren‘t you paying attention?"
"It doesn't matter. They won't come looking for us."
"Only because they think we're dead! If they find out otherwise . . ."
"Dan is already crazy about us. He won't let them hurt us. And don't forget about Raz. He's keeping his distance, but he's still watching out for us."
Misha shook his head, wishing he could share his brother's optimism. "I hope you're right," he said.
But there was no point in arguing about it. Jase was physically the same age he was--almost two and a half years by human reckoning--but sometimes he seemed like little more than a kitten. Well, he'd grow up at his own pace. Meanwhile, Misha would have to stay alert enough for both of them.
"How do you like your new name?” Jase asked, tearing him from his thoughts. “I’m fine with Jase. It has a nice--a nice something to it. What do you call that?"
"A ring, I think."
"Right. It has a nice ring. So does Misha." He stood up, still grinning. "Come on--let's explore!"
They had poked around last night while Dan was sleeping, of course, but only as cats. As Siamese, their night vision was not as keen as that of other felines, but their natural form still had other advantages. Their ears and nose seemed stifled as humans, and Misha felt almost blind without his whiskers.
That said, he liked the way human eyes saw the world. And he liked the idea of rifling through Dan’s drawers.
They decided to focus on Dan's bedroom. Misha lingered over his clothes--most would probably fit him, he decided. The human form he'd been given was almost as tall as Dan and roughly the same muscular build. Jase was a bit smaller, but some of this stuff would work for him too.
Misha pursed his lips. The idea of clothes still seemed odd to him, but wearing them would be better than leaving so much bare skin exposed. But he knew there was an art to wearing them, that only certain items went together. He had no grasp of that art yet, however. He would have to watch Dan dress each morning and memorize which pieces he wore at the same time.
Assuming he ever needed to wear clothes, of course. He intended to remain in his natural feline form for as long as possible. But emergencies could happen, and it was best to be prepared.
"Misha, I think Dan's home," Jase announced, peeking out of the bedroom window. "We'd better change back."
Misha nodded and started shoving the items he'd been studying back into the drawers. Dan had welcomed them as cats, but he wasn't sure what the man would make of them if he knew they could masquerade as humans.
Once safely in feline form, they raced down the stairs to greet their benefactor. He was just stepping inside, and he was carrying another store bag.
Jase was a bit faster, so he reached Dan first. But Misha didn't mind. He was glad to see their new human, but he had no intention of making a fool out of himself by fawning over the man.
"Yes, this is stuff for you two," Dan said as Jase rubbed against his legs. "A scratching post, some toys--you'll see. I'll set it all up in one of the spare bedrooms. I'll put your litter in there too, so we can free up the downstairs bathroom."
Jase flashed a look at him just then, and Misha had no problem interpreting it. As far as Jase was concerned, this was paradise.
If Misha could have let out a frustrated human-like sigh, he would have. His brother was going to be heart-broken if they had to flee.
LINK TO PART THREE