A Cat's Life: Learning the Ropes

Cast: date: 'September 7, 2012'
place: 'Hyde Park'
participants: 'Nathaniel, Huruma'
synopsis: 'Nathaniel''s getting a new perspective on the world. And Huruma is just wondering what the Hell is going on!'
log: "HEY! Watch where you’re going, you bloody oaf!\n\n…At least, that’s what he would be saying, any other day. Any other day, if he was in this bad of a mood, he’d have given the clumsy idiot who tripped him a piece of his mind! But he can’t do that right now. Because when he does try to curse at the fellow, what comes out?\n\nA hiss and a loud, angry meow.\n\nThat’s right. After the chat with Cedric and Wynn a couple days ago, Nathaniel decided he’d try to mess around with his powers a little. He went to an area where there were many stray cats, listened a while… and then spoke. The cats spoke back. A few were even eager to talk to a human that could actually understand them. One cautioned him against eavesdropping on random feline conversations, indicating that something unpleasant should happen to Nathaniel.\n\nAnd after that? Nathaniel had gone home and tried more things. He discovered he did have other abilities. One of which was to actually become a cat! Fully. Which might be useful if he needed to get in somewhere! Except… now he was stuck. And he couldn’t figure out how to change back!\n\nAfter an hour of trying? Nathaniel decided to just go with it. Let it run its course. There wasn’t much else he could do anyway. So he left a window the second floor of his house open, just enough to get back in, and went walking. An hour or so of walking — and almost getting hit a couple times; apparently cats don’t have right-of-way in London — had brought him to Hyde Park.\n\nNow, as night descends, the sun having just disappeared below the horizon, Nathaniel finds himself staring up — WAAAAAAAY up — at the gates. And his inactivity is what prompts the man to trip him. Well, more like trip over him. To all appearances, a man just tripped a little over a white housecat. Which promptly turned and hissed at the man, and moved closer to the gates, as if it were getting out of the way.\n\nNo doubt that the other cats about town are having an interesting time keeping an eye on this foolish thing. The humans, perhaps the same. For one of them in particular, however, the sight of the white cat is a new one. Especially watching as a man trips over it, and the cat had not seemed to do anything to avoid getting trod on. \n\nHuruma’s figure blends with the dusk and the shadow between trees and shrubs, her own shadow now gone, swallowed whole by the sunset. It will be replaced eventually once she ventures back to the sidewalks, though being keen on the idea is something else entirely. \n\nHuruma’s hands are shoved along the insides of her coat pockets, arms kept close to her sides, the trees off the path doing all they can to shade her presence from those leaving the park through the gate, and those few stragglers nearing it. Expression unseen, thoughts kept to herself, breathing quiet. For now, she watches the cat, for lack of better sights and sounds. \n\nWhat is it doing?\n\n\nOh indeed, this is one cat who really doesn’t seem to know the rules of being a stray. It’s only after its tripped over that it gets out of the way! And then it sasses the person that tripped over it? And it’s staring around, blankly, as if it doesn’t know where it is. Turning its head from one way to the other, but looking at nothing in particular.\n\nOn top of that, its head droops occasionally, and it emits a quiet ‘mrrr’ under its breath every couple of moments. Much like a person would grumble under its breath. And it seems to be mostly ignoring the people who try to call out to it, aside from the obnoxious little boy and tries to grab the white cat’s tail. That prompts a short hiss, and the cat flees into Hyde Park proper.\n\n\nThis cat… does not seem to know how to be a cat. Brow knitting, his captive — enraptured — audience goes over some distinct possibilities. It may be diseased. It may be mentally inept. Huruma frowns to herself, shifting her weight before sidling off onto a maintenance path between darkening trees. It may be, simply, a strange cat. But in one’s line of work, certain things stick out far more than others. The only reason that the tall, dark woman has not gone on her way. \n\nShe leans against one of the trees along the front walk, moon-white eyes lidded, occupied in keeping the white cat in her sight. Given that he will probably walk right past her, Huruma settles there, and waits.\n\n\nThe white cat does indeed walk right past Huruma. And it… doesn’t seem to see her at all. It just walks right on past, its head down. Its eyes are only forward enough to see where it’s going. Almost like a person just walking and thinking, letting his mind wander.\n\nWhich may, in and of itself, be strange. It doesn’t look like the cat is hunting for anything. It doesn’t look like it’s looking for food. It doesn’t look like it’s looking for a place to sleep. And it’s not looking for a place to give birth — it’s obviously male. And it doesn’t seem to be strutting or seeking females. Which leaves the question of what it’s actually doing here unanswered….\n\n\nGaze on the cat’s back, Huruma’s expression moves from curious, to puzzled, to disconcerted, the minor shifts visible only to the trees. Cats do not stare at the ground while they walk, much less let the mind wander. Taking a stroll? In Hyde Park? Not entirely unheard of, no. After the cat has passed her, the woman slinks out from under her tree in order to follow it. His senses will allow him to hear her boots just behind, even if she seems quiet to anyone who may be passing by. Her scent is mixed- feline, musky, the ashen tickle of incense. \n\nThere is no move to chase it, or grab it, fortunately for him. Just a sudden, overwhelming feeling of being followed at close range.\n\n\nFor a moment after she starts following the cat, it doesn’t react. It just continues to walk. Following the walkways, mind! It’s a full two and a half minutes before it registers her presence so close behind it. And when it does, it freezes, and turns.\n\nBelieve it or not, the cat actually speaks. Sort of. “…Maao?” The sound seems to break off abruptly towards the end, as if the cat just didn’t finish the sound, and the cat’s head droops again, just a little. It looks back to Huruma, tilting its head back to look up at her face.\n\nIt doesn’t seem about to run away or anything of the sort. Fact, it almost seems… conversational? The kind of cool politeness that people use to speak to people they don’t know but don’t want to anger or scare away.\n\n\nThat unsettling stare she is giving him is nothing personal, she just has that …habit. Provided something has piqued her curiosity, she could watch for hours. In this case, her point of interest has finally noticed her. There is a single, catlike blink in return, heavy-lidded and lazy. From all the way down there, the strange woman is probably the size of a tree, with cheekbones, that from below, seem sharp enough to cut something on.\n\nAnother, shorter blink, and Huruma purses her lips into something of an amused curve. \n\n“«Hujambo, kidogo moja»…” The dark woman crouches down in a fluid set of movements, putting her palms to her knees, expression set as if waiting for something to happen. Her voice thrums in her chest, deep, though feminine. “Are you …lost?” She puts out her fingers, a few fingers crooking to try and get him closer.\n\n\nWhereas the slow blink normally is a sign of ‘no threat’ in cats, Huruma may note that there’s no real response or understanding of the gesture. The cat just tilts his head to the side. Yeah, she’s…. really big from his standpoint. In fact, the cat sits, seemingly so he can look up at her more easily. “Rrr?” An upward-lilting sound.\n\nThen she asks is he ‘lost’. And his head droops again. “…Maaow.” It’s a downward-lilting sound. ‘Lost’. Yeah. That’s funny. However, it’s notable that… the meow was offered as if in response to Huruma’s words. He doesn’t come any closer to her, though. But neither does he run away.\n\n\nThis cat is just like one of those god forsaken animatronic animals. Huruma leans forward, one set of fingers propping on the ground below. Nearly ready to crouch the rest of the way to look him in the face, the one thing that stops her is an awareness that this is the city, not home. \n\n“Don’t be shy.” The woman smiles again, this time showing the tips of suddenly sharp teeth forming out of the ones already in her mouth.\n\n\nLuckily this cat isn’t animatronic, clear if in only that his sides expand and relax intermittently with his breathing. Yup, he’s alive. And at the statement, the cat tilts his head at her, as if studying her. Though when he sees the teeth? “Mah…!” He stands quickly, scooting back a little. The motion actually seems awkward, lacking in the usual grace shown by felines. This was a scramble backwards.\n\nThough if she makes no motion to take a bite out of him, he’ll approach again a moment later, tilting his head again. That’s strange… those teeth are far too sharp to be normal….\n\n\nThere’s something strange going on here. Good thing that this one is an expert in strange. Coincidences do not often exist. A slight wince takes over Huruma’s features, knowing that the cat’s behavior is not cat-like whatsoever. She closes her lips over her teeth for a spell, considering her words. \n\n“A cat… who does not know how to be a cat. A rare sight.” The woman waits until he moves closer again, to look at her face. A signal any other cat would see- a subtle flare of nose- preempts a coiling of muscle under her skin, and a quick strike. \n\nHuruma reaches out to try and snatch up the housecat into her hands. For what it is worth, she knows how to handle an animal — even if he may not actually be one. Same teeth and claws. Same attitude, no doubt.\n\n\nAnd the cat… actually shakes his head when Huruma notes he doesn’t act like a cat. It happens right after her words, too; could he actually be doing that in reply to her words? The gesture is as human-like as a feline might be able to equate. He’s not a cat! Really! Even if he looks like one!\n\nAnd it’s true, he completely misses the flare of her nostrils. And the subtle shift of muscle into a ready for pouncing pose. The cat misses everything. Until Huruma moves. It’s then that he reacts. By leaping straight up, with a loud, startled meow!\n\nFor all his reacting, though, Huruma does manage to snag him. Though strangely, he… doesn’t claw or bite. He just squirms, pushing at her hand with his paws — mostly his front paws, oddly enough, though he’d probably have more power in his back paws — and meowing. H-hey! No fair, he wasn’t ready! C’mon, leggo!\n\n\nHuruma is faced down with paws pushing at her face as she pulls him up with her, having no issue with shifting him around so that she can hold him for the most part in one arm, feet downward. Her other hand reaches up to scratch him under the chin. Now that she is standing, he also gets a pretty good view of everything in the vicinity, really. Like climbing a tree. \n\n“You cannot even fight back. Shameful, brother.” Huruma lets out a sliver of a smile, teeth flat and human, ivory on dark. “Don’be shy.” Her words mingle now in a less deliberate tone, smoothing out into something she sounds more used to. Huruma may be fluent in English, yet practicing her dictation everyday is something only to get the thickness from her accent. In times like this, it matters little. “I will go out on a limb, hmm? Are you not really a cat?”\n\n\n“…Maaaow.” And one white paw ploinks right down on her nose. No claws, mind. Nothing there is intended to hurt her. But there’s pressure behind it, even if it isn’t firm enough to cause pain. And what’s… hey! Oh wait. Scritches. And he finds himself relaxing before he realizes it. So that’s what that feels like to a cat. He’ll have to remember that.\n\nOnce he realizes he has his paw on her nose, he’ll pull it back. “Mrr.” Though the question brings the cat to blink at Huruma. And one could swear that he turns his head, first one way and then the other, as if he were looking around to see if anyone was around. Once he’s satisfied with that, he looks back to Huruma. And that head shakes again.\n\n\nHuruma responds rather politely to the paw on her face, with a smirk and a hum. There is a bit of pondering over what to do with him, certainly, though in the end she knows he must do this himself. Making things easy on this fellow will just make him an easy target. \n\n“Firstly, stop making human gestures.” She has to try not to laugh. “From one cat to …another.” Her hand pets him a couple times over the forehead before she sets him back down on the sidewalk, voice low enough for just him to hear. “An’don’let people pick you up. I could have turned you in. You’d’ave been neutered, possibly. Or, euthanized.” End up in some old cat lady’s house? It is not impossible.\n\n\nThe petting of his forehead draws the cat to blink a little. That’s right, he’s got whiskers up there now. Like someone messing with eyelashes. Forces a blink. When he’s placed down on the ground again, he relaxes. “Maaow.” Thank you! And there’s a predictable response to the mention of being neutered. It’s a short sharp “Maah!” His ears flatten and his head droops. Clear gesture of DO NOT WANT!\n\nBut once the information given, the cat nods again, clearly. Then he looks around again… and then tilts his head up to look at Huruma, putting the side of his paw over his mouth. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody, okay?\n\n\n“Quite right.” Not that anyone would try and fix Huruma’s other forme, per se, but she can imagine the distaste. “What did I just tell you, «mjinga»?” Huruma snorts a bit as she says this, lifting her hands to make shooing motions. “Your secret is your business. And that of your new — ah — family. You will see.” The woman turns slightly on her heel, watching the cat past the line of one shoulder. \n\n“Learn what you can. You will need it.”\n\n\nThe shooing motion gets the white cat to stand and step back a bit, and as she stands as well, he steps back another couple paces, so he can see her properly. “…Maaow?” New family? Oh, geez he hopes this isn’t permanent! The thought starts him to shaking just a little, too!\n\nWhen she speaks again, he looks up. Act like a cat, eh? And then he walks over to her, and makes to rub his side against her leg. “Maaow?” An upward-lilting sound. Like that?\n\n\n“Lovely.” That’s the idea. Essentially, be everything a human being usually isn’t. “Keep it up, stay out of fights. Would be awful t’ruin such a coat.” Of course that’s why Huruma smoothly warns him — and not because London strays can get to be rangy menaces in the worse parts of town. That goes without saying for anywhere. \n\n“Good luck. I needed it, when I was in your …paws.” Not shoes, no.\n\n\nCan a cat chuckle? This one seems to! Stay out of fights? “Maaow.” He will. He sits, curling his tail around his feet — though notably, he has to look at it to make sure it’s curling properly. Licks his lips. Now he’s sitting like a cat. He’s getting the hang of it. And there are plenty of cats to observe. And presumably he can talk to them, so he should be fine.\n\nHopefully.\n\n\nHuruma does not offer anything else in the way of advice, or in the way of well-wishing. Standards and a good luck seem to be enough for her. She does give him one final departing nod, before shifting on her heels and striding off towards the park gates, keeping to the dark as she goes. They may meet again — at least, sooner or later. There are only so many of them, but Huruma already has had an excellent time sniffing them out. It is what she does with that which marks her nature, and her being that much different from the Watch.\n\n\nNathaniel watches her go, silently. It probably won’t take long for her to be out of sight, if she’s trying to keep hidden. Then again… Nathaniel’s vision is much better now — even if he can’t see red and yellow very well, bah! But she’s right, and he knows it. He needs to get used to this. Even if it isn’t permanent, it’ll probably be possible for him to change like this again, so he needs to learn how not to get stuck!\n\nSo. Learning. How would he do that? Simple. Go find a cat and talk to it. None here right now, so… he needs to go find one. That decided, he stands up, and jogs towards the gates himself.\n\nMentally he’s making a checklist of things he needs to do. First, go find a cat-tutor. Then? Go find the Watch! Now that he’s more aware, on the way out he won’t get tripped on, and he’ll stay out of the way. He’s a man, er cat, on a mission!"
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