Sharon’s note: This entry is a little long but . . . meh. I flatter myself that this is cute and fun and worth reading. Warning: Kids accepting what should be weird, because they are more reasonable than adults in some things.
The boy started and fell off the bed with a thud. “What did you scream for?”
“Because there’s a naked boy on my bed!” I picked up a pair of shorts off the floor and threw them at him.
He caught them neatly and frowned at them. “What are these for?”
“For you to wear, stupid. Put them on,” I ordered.
“Why? I hate clothes. Besides, if your dad comes in here because you screamed I’ll just have to change back.”
“Change back to what?” I grabbed the brass triceratops off my dresser and held it up threateningly.
His lips pulled back, bearing his teeth. “Back to the way I was, stupid. You know, a cougar?”
The hand with the triceratops lowered to my side. “Panther?”
“Yeah.” He stuck out his tongue at me and I responded in kind. “You know I’m from the Woods. I’m special.”
I took a moment to study him. The eyes were the right color and he did have a bunch of scars across his tummy. It checked out. “If Daddy isn’t here by now then he didn’t hear me. Put the shorts on.”
He rolled his eyes. “Why?”
“Because you’re not supposed to be naked.”
“You’re naked in here all the time.”
My breath hitched and my fists clenched. I kicked at his leg and he jumped back onto the bed. “You watched me change clothes and stuff!”
“Hey!” His shoulders hunched like an angry cat. “It wasn’t like I was watching watching.”
“You could have said something.” I crossed my arms and glared.
“No I couldn’t.” He sat down hard on the bed, crossed his arms and looked away. “I was too hurt to change forms. I only figured out I could do it again a few days ago.”
He sounded sad so I sat down on the bed next to him. “What happened anyway?”
“My brother,” He mumbled, turning the shorts over in his hands. They were bright pink. Maybe that was why he didn’t want to wear them.
“Your brother did that to you? We have to tell your parents!”
He threw the shorts at the floor. “My parents are dead! My brother killed them.”
I threw my arms around him and he leaned away for a second before burying his head in a shoulder and started to sob. While he cried, I sang him the lullaby Mommy sang to me whenever I was sick. When he finally stopped crying, he pulled away and snuffled.
“You sing like really badly.” He gave me a weak smirk.
“Butthead.” I poked him hard in the side, and he jumped further up the bed with a laugh. The only reason I wasn’t more mad was that his cheeks were still wet. “You know, if we tell Daddy he can buy you some shorts that aren’t pink.”
“I’m not allowed to show anyone but you.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Says who?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It was just the rules I was always told. I can only show myself to humans that are special.”
“Daddy’s special. He saved your life.” I put my hands on my hips.
“He’s not special. He only did it because you told him too.” He poked me in the leg with his foot. “You saved my life and we’re best friends forever. That makes you special.”
I jabbed my foot back at him and we kicked at each other until we started to laugh. “God, put the shorts you’re like, I don’t know, flopping.”
“You’re not supposed to look.” Panther sighed heavily then got the short off the floor to put them on.
“I can’t help seeing it when I’m looking right at you, jerk.” I snickered, tossing the pillow at him. It was fun watching him catch it. He was really fast. It was my turn to smirk. “Is that how you have to get all your friends? By nearly dying on their doormat?”
“It’s not like I wanted to be your friend.” He glared down at the shorts in disgust. “You saved my life so I owed you a boon. After you saved my life you said you wanted to be friends forever. I figure that’s fair payment.”
I tilted my head to look at the ceiling while I thought that over. “Yeah, that sounds fair.”
There was a brisk knock on the door that made both of us jump. “Hurry up in there, young lady! Just because you’re dragging your feet doesn’t mean you can get out helping, it just means it’ll be that much longer until we can have pizza.”
“Okay, Daddy. I’ll be right out,” I yelled with my hands cupped on either side of my mouth.
We waited until we heard Daddy stomp away, then started giggling.
“I need to get dressed. Turn around.” I looked in the closet and found my grubby jeans. Panther flung himself face down on the bed and pulled the pillow over his head. I changed as quickly as I could.
“Hey, when your dad get’s the pizza, see if you can get me a slice.” Panther’s words were nearly lost in the pillow.
“Well, I suppose I could accidentally drop a piece on the floor so you can grab it, but Daddy says pizza isn’t good for cats.”
He peaked out from under the pillow. “I’m not really a cat.”
“Don’t look,” I hissed, and he buried his head again. “Since you’re not actually a cat, I guess it’s okay. Do you want pepperoni or sausage?”
“Fine. You can look now.” He peaked out again, and when I didn’t yell at him he hopped to his feet.
“Are we going outside now?” He grinned and wiggled his shoulders. “Awesome. I want to chase frogs.”
“Just don’t put them in my bed again.”
Panther collapsed and I started to run forward to catch him but he turned into a cougar again and started fighting his way out of the shorts. I laughed, and he turned his nose away from me while he trotted out my room as I opened the door.