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Time Spent With Cats (IC)


Nick

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11 April 2011

Claremont Academy

With her customary grace Eve slipped into her dorm and with a sigh latched the door behind her. It was early afternoon, just after the last classes of the day and to the casual observer nothing would appear amiss. To someone that actually knew the telepathic gymnast however, they would notice that she was troubled; not from any outward expression but from what she wasn't doing.

Instead of changing into her exercise clothing, preparing for an afterschool workout, she padded through the small room dropping her knapsack on the ground with little care for its contents as she made her way to her bed, kicking off her shoes as she went. Collapsing face first into her pillow, the telepath lay that way for a few moments before rolling onto her back and staring at the ceiling.

Happy Birthday.

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A movement at the window caught her attention. Oliver, Erin's gangly orange cat, was sitting on the windowsill as though he owned the place, feet tucked under his body like a miniature Sphinx. As though noticing her regard, he turned to look at Eve, then got up and stretched, padding along the windowsill and jumping down onto the bed. On silent little cat feet, he walked up the length of the bed until he was standing next to the pillow. Very deliberately, he boofed her hand with his head, obviously inviting a pat.

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A snow white eyebrow rose as Eve regarded the feline invader. "How did you even get in here?" she asked herself and though she was resolved to remain firmly entrenched in her sullen mood the hand she raised to push Oliver away instead found itself rubbing him behind the ears as if that were what she intended from the beginning.

After a moment though the telepath's hand stopped and green eyes narrowed. She twisted around to look at the windowsill, and then turned her gaze to the dorm door. There wasn't a whole lot of room, and the one was easily visible from the other. --So how did I not see you?-- she asked the cat before she realized she had done so.

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Oliver purred and settled in next to Eve on the bed, half-closing his eyes to better enjoy the caresses. Oddly enough, just petting the cat made her feel a little bit better inside. Maybe it really was true about cats lowering your blood pressure. Oliver licked one orange paw, giving Eve a sidelong look as he tucked his tail around his back legs. Perhaps you weren't looking hard enough, came the response, delivered in a cool and pleasantly amused mental tone.

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The telepath gave a little hum of surprise but the faint smile she had on her face turned a bit melancholy. --Unlikely,-- the telepath insisted, her tone more than a little defensive, though she continued to pet the strange cat, hand moving from behind the ears to just under the chin. --A more reasonable explanation is I've finally cracked. So this is what it's like to go mad.--

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Oliver purred a bit louder, tilting his head to allow her fingers more access to his chin. With all the many things you've seen and done in your time at this school, a talking cat is the one that convinces you of your loss of sanity? the voice came back in her head, still sounding tolerant and amused. You're not insane, simply very sad. I know from sad humans. The small cat stretched his front paws out in front of him languidly, then settled back in and turned his head to regard her.

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--No, you're wrong. You're right too, but you are still wrong.-- Eve continued to pet Oliver finding some measure of comfort in the soft fur and repetitive motion. After several moments, the gymnast continued, --I'm sad because I'm insane. Not in the clinical sense, of course, but for harboring the notion that I could ever return to a normal life. So pardon my wishful thinking that the extent of my madness was seeing adorable talking cats.--
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Oliver yawned, showing off sharp white fangs and a pink tongue, then blinked lazily at Eve, still purring like a motorboat. Why would you want to have a normal life? The unaugmented human beings are unhappy and happy in equal proportion to the augmented ones. Don't you like the life you have? Are you not young and wealthy, with a healthy body and friends who care for you? And thumbs as well, a small but extraordinary power that too many humans take for granted.

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--Those friends are leaving soon,-- Eve said with an uncomfortable shrug, --and they will soon have other things on their mind than a silly high school kid.-- She stopped petting Oliver for a moment to run her fingers along his collar to the copper tag dangling from it before returning to her gentle ministration. --Don't misunderstand Oliver, I wish all the best for them; I just harbor no illusions that the friendship will survive contact with the outside world.--

--Thumbs are pretty fantastic though.--

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You give little credit to your friends, the cat observed, flicking his ears forward for a moment. Is it that you feel my human is so lacking in constancy, or that you feel yourself worth so little that even well-intentioned humans will not remember you when you leave their presence? He held up a paw in front of him, delicately extended the claws like a man looking at his fingernails, then began grooming the fur between his toes. It is my experience that those with powers are careful in their friends, and don't give them up easily.

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Eve sighed and shifted position on her bed, sitting up and crossing her legs, resting her back against the wall. She gestured at the dorm, drawing attention to the austere furnishing and save for one silver framed photograph on her desk, the lack of decoration. --I do not make much of an impact and people often forget those that are unseen and unheard; On top of that people do not like my kind. I think anyone would just as soon happily forget about me and the fact that they can never be sure if their thoughts were private, or if I modified them in same way. No, it is not that I give little credit to my friends, but I do human nature.--

The telepath shrugged, --And as I said, they have other things on their mind, why spare a thought for the little rich girl that has everything?--

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Oliver gave Eve a lazy look, then got up, stretched, and climbed into her lap, gazing up at her expectantly. Apparently the petting was expected to continue as long as the little cat deigned to pay her his attention. Besides, it did feel better to be petting the cat. So you do not put thoughts into your companions' minds, but you have no trouble putting words in their mouths, the mental voice commented dryly. One would expect a telepath to be more cautious about discerning the reality of emotions before acting upon them. Just because you have forsaken contact with the people you once knew and do not plan to attempt to preserve your current friendships, that does not mean everyone feels that way. The cat's mental voice was arch, his eyes sharp green as they continued to watch her.

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Making a noncommittal noise, Eve resumed petting the orange feline though she kept her gaze averted. --The others, not my idea, but I don't question the wisdom in it. I hurt so many people that day.-- Finally she relented and looked at Oliver, though the telepath looked a little uncomfortable. --It's not that I don't want to stay their friend I just... don't see a place for me. Mark is going to go assist UNISON, Trevor is going to college and Erin is doing God knows what and meanwhile I'm stuck here.--

She shook her head, --You're going to suggest I simply ask them, aren't you?--

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There is no need to suggest something you already know is obvious, Oliver pointed out, licking his paw. Distance and time are little barrier for those who can travel the world on a whim. Are you so undesirable as a friend that it would be an act of pity to maintain a relationship with you, rather than a reciprocal social interaction? If that is so, you may wish to improve yourself, rather than merely indulge in self-pity. And as for those others... The cat rolled onto his side, squirming so Eve's fingers found the itchy spot behind one ear. When a human causes pain to another, it is their responsibility to make it right, instead of leaving the wounds to fester, is it not? Such has always been the case with my humans.

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--You ask a question for which I don't have an answer. I would like to think I'm a good friend but what if that's just a delusion?-- Eve sighed and brushed her free hand through her niveous hair, the other remaining attentive to Oliver, though her eyes were closed and a distant expression was on the young telepath's face. --I am having trouble controlling my abilities,-- she admitted quietly, --Sometimes I find myself remembering things that I never did, afraid of things I never feared, or loving things I never loved.
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Laying on his back with his paws waving lazily, Oliver's regard on Eve was serious despite his rather informal posture. That is a serious problem for a telepath, he agreed soberly. To become too involved in the psyche of another is to invite madness. It is certainly nothing to be ignored or suffered in private. What treatment have you sought for the condition? He gave her a level, rather challenging look out of those bottle-glass green eyes, the purr somewhat subdued but still present.

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Eve's mouth twisted to a frown and she shook her head. --None. I wouldn't know how to talk to about this, it's not as though there is an excess of telepaths around I could turn to for advice and guidance. Usually I just withdraw to somewhere relatively clear of any other mental influence, something that is becoming harder and harder to do.-- She ran a hand through the fur on Oliver's chest, tickled his chin and sighed.

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Oliver purred, closing his eyes and stretching out his neck. My human consults with the doctor, Marquez, the one who treats the minds of the students at this place. The sessions sometimes cause her great distress, but they have served in the aggregate to ease her mind substantially. It is my understanding that there are substantial resources available through the school especially for students. My human is concerned, in fact, about the loss of these specialized resources when she must leave this place. It may behoove you to avail yourself of them while they are available.

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--I think the problem is a little too complex for the good Doctor,-- Eve said with a chuckle as she fussed with Oliver's fur, looking for tangles or smoothing things out that her own petting mussed. --But I'll see her, it couldn't hurt to talk.-- The telepath's mouth twisted a little at her last statement but the smile remained in place as she abruptly switched topics. --You care about her a lot, don't you?--
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My human is quite important to me. Despite the stereotypes perpetuated by humans of little understanding, constancy is a virtue of cats. There was, perhaps, just the slightest bit of reproof in those green kitty eyes as Oliver looked up at her. My human has a destiny of great importance, one that she must be prepared for when the time comes. I do my part, but to her, I am just a beloved pet, and cannot be more. She requires the constancy of her human companions as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Eve laughed as she tickled Oliver's chin. It was a soft sound, slightly melodic with traces of wryness to it. It always amazed her, the telepath reflected as she brushed her hands through the thick orange coat of the cat nestled in her lap, that she could vocalize things like laughter but words always failed her. --You're asking a lot from a troubled teen,-- the gymnast said with a ghost of a smile, prodding Oliver in the chest. --But it's not unreasonable. She was there for me when I needed her. I'll be there for her when she needs me, if she wants me there or not.--

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It is not I who asks, the cat responded, purring louder when Eve petted his chin and throat. Fate gives few second chances, and it never does so without a price. In any case, even if the universe did not demand, she would ask it of herself. I merely guide and assist. Oliver rolled onto his stomach, extending his head to show her exactly where on his chin she should be scratching. But if you mean what you say about being there, then you have no worries about being abandoned. Being there is a reciprocal matter among friends. And what matter is time and distance in a world filled with magic?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The telepath smiled at Oliver, scratching him in the place his posture indicated, giving the chin a good scratch. She didn't respond to the cat for several moments, contenting herself with combing her fingers through his soft orange coat and rubbing his chin. --You make a certain amount of sense, Oliver,-- the telepath admitted to the cat. --But then you muck it all up by bringing magic into things. Unless you weren't being literal.--

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You may call it whatever you please, the cat told Eve with avuncular amusement. The name does not matter, only that it exists, and that we move with it and through it and in it. Why are you here now, where your special gifts are so badly needed, instead of pursuing the art that you loved? Why am I here where I am most needed, though it means a life of kitty chow and nylon collars? Oliver gave his neck a scratch under his blue collar, narrowing his eyes to slits. Good or bad, pain or pleasure, if you are committed to the side of good, you will find yourself where you are needed. It may be scant comfort now, but wait a few clawfuls of years. He closed his eyes, relaxing utterly across Eve's lap.

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  • 2 weeks later...
--One thing I learned when I was young, when I was training for the Olympics was how to push through pain and fatigue. I suppose the same mentality can be applied to other things. Push through my doubts about the solidity of my friendship with Erin, my worries about the future and just push through.-- Eve rubbed Oliver's belly, her mental communication projecting feelings of resolve and contentment to the feline. --Nothing worth doing is ever easy, is it Oliver?--
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