03 November 2010 @ 07:01 pm
Title: A very Furry Halloween Story
Author: [livejournal.com profile] paraboobizarre
Pairing(s): none
Rating: G
Disclaimer: not mine, never happened
Warnings: none
Summary: It's a cat's life...
Prompt: The night before Halloween Bill jokes about all these ghost stories and the sort being silly child's stuff. The next day when he wakes up, he has turned into a black cat.
How will he communicate to Tom who he is and what will they do to turn him back into his human form? (submitted by [livejournal.com profile] paraboobizarre )
Author's notes: Nobody ever adopted my yesteryear’s Halloween prompt - so I wrote it myself ;)




Bill had come to realization that the ability to lick one's own balls was vastly overrated. Especially if it came with having to lick further down below as well. And the hairballs! Good Lord!

It still escaped him what had really happened. One evening he had been sitting around with Tom, Georg and Gustav, all of them bored out of their minds, debating what they should do on Halloween. The next morning he found himself with four paws, a long tail and a coat of jet black fur.
Truth be told, it was probably a little more complicated than that though...

* * *


Tom kicked Bill's feet rudely off the couch to sit down in the vacated place, putting a bowl of popcorn down between them. Some of the popcorn spilled over the rim, the melted butter soaking immediately into the immaculate white cushioning of the couch and Bill winced internally.

"Seriously, we have to do something on Halloween!" Georg groused, draining the rest of his beer, ending the statement with a loud belch.

"We have invitations to like ten different parties," Gustav pointed out, indicating the stack of unopened mail laying in a neat pile in the middle of the table, "so pick one of those – David said we could go to any of those."

"Because those are boring industry parties and I won't have people pawing at me for an entire night." Bill snapped the bowl of popcorn and laid his feet into Tom's lap.

"We could hang out here, watch zombie movies...I don't know, tell each other scary stories," Tom muttered absentmindedly, picking at the lint of Bill's socks.
Bill's entire face wrinkled up in an excessive show of incomprehension and impatience. Sometimes Tom could be so terribly boring it made it hard to believe they were actually related. Stay at home and watch movies! Tell stories!

"There's that supposedly haunted house in the Speicherstadt – we could go there and-" Tom began but stopped when Bill jerked his feet away, uttering one of his trademark whines.

"Ghost stories, haunted houses – that's the biggest bullshit ever – why can't we do something cool on Halloween?" He carped, gracing Tom with a mildly disgusted look.
He looked at Georg and Gustav, challenging them to come up with something better.

"That Speicherstadt idea seems pretty cool actually..." Gustav murmured, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms in front of his chest defensively as if anticipating another outburst.

"God, you guys are the most boring lot ever!" Bill huffed irritably and heaved himself out of the couch. He was halfway out of the room before he turned on his heel once again and came back to snatch the bowl of popcorn out of Tom's hands. He stomped down the hallway to his room, ignoring the quiet murmuring that rose in the living room as soon as he was out of sight.

Bunch of losers! Still fuming, Bill threw himself onto his bed and switched on his TV. He would camp out Halloween in his own room, watching DVDs – there was no way he would let Tom drag him to some stupid, childish thing like that haunted house!

True to form, Bill remained in his room for the rest of the evening, acting, for all intents and purposes, as the ill-tempered and incorrigible child he still sometimes was deep down. Even Tom’s occasional visits, where his brother tried to coax him out of his hideout were in vain. If Bill was determined to sulk nothing short of the end of the world would keep him from it.

It was already well past midnight, when Bill eventually turned off the TV and shuffled towards his bathroom, to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. As he dully gazed at himself in the unflatteringly harsh light of the bathroom, he thought back to their earlier conversation in the living room that evening. Sometimes he just couldn’t believe how far apart they had all seemed to drift, like their interests barely matched up anymore. The question of whether or not to celebrate Halloween was just another link in the chain of evidence to show him that somehow he didn’t get along with his band mates as well as he had before. It was sad, of course, but by now Bill’s patience was also wearing a little thin at times. Things just didn’t seem to go as he pleased but he would be damned if he were the one to compromise all the time.

He huffed in irritation before spitting the remaining toothpaste into the sink and rinsing his mouth. Ah, fuck Halloween.

***


He was home but it wasn’t home, didn’t quite feel like it. Everything felt odd, twice removed from reality as he wandered down the deserted hallway, peeking into the rooms behind the opened doors as he went. There was no one. Bill let his hand brush along the wall and he felt it wobble under his fingertips, giving way. He snatched his hand away at the unpleasant sensation.

Calling out Tom's name, Bill heard his voice echo back to him, eerily magnified as if he was standing in a large, high room and not the hallway of their house. No one answered but Bill could see shadows moving in the living room at the far end of the corridor.
He hurried towards it and even though he ran so fast he could feel his heartbeat thump in his ears, the door only crawled towards him in slow motion. Finally he reached the half opened door and pushed it open, recoiling in shock the next moment.
There was a woman standing right behind the door. Wild black and gray hair, a maniac grin that made her eyes dance with a wicked light, she stared at him. Bill took another step back but the creepy woman closed the distance with one quick stride.

“Tiny, teeny-weeny, little poor thing...what are you gonna do, huh?” She sing-songed, her extended index finger waving in front of his face, before she poked him in the chest. It stung and burned, as if someone had just pricked him with a hot needle and Bill rubbed at the spot, looking down at himself. When he looked up again, she was gone.


***



Bill woke, feeling supremely rested. He stretched lazily under the covers, all his muscles feeling like pudding from the heat under his blankets. Behind his closed lids he could just about guess how light it had already gotten in the room and he relished his sleepy haze for a few more seconds, before opening his eyes.

“Oh God!” Bill blinked rapidly, hoping he was still dreaming.
Somewhere a cat meowed and who had even dragged a cat into their house, they weren't cat people but holymotherofgod something was wrong with his eyes everything was grayish blue and ohshit very very wrong.

“TOM!”
And would someone please get rid of that stupid howling cat for fuck's sake!

Bill swung his legs out of bed. And fell. Landing ungraciously on his side, Bill groaned as he rolled over and got up on his paws again.

Wait!

Paws.
Paws?!

***



Tom woke with a start at the ruckus out in the corridor. Blearily he glanced at his alarm clock – 5.27 – way too fucking early to get up. Probably just Georg, drunk off his ass and swaying down the hall, knocking over random things.
Another crash effectively destroyed all of his hopes of going back to sleep again, so Tom lazily peeled himself out of his sheets to go investigate, mentally already compiling tirades for Georg's benefit.

He opened his door and stopped dead in his tracks. There was a cat. Black, thin and wiry looking in the hallway. A mirror and a lamp lay in flinders on the floor and the cat scrabbled around on its paws inelegantly, a wild and terrified look on its face.

Tom looked from the mess on the floor, to the pathetically whining cat to the other doors lining the hallway. Bill's was open. Unusual.
Side-stepping the cat and the shards, Tom hurried down to his twin's room, pushing open the door.
Moments later he was out of the room again, jogging towards the kitchen.

It was so time for a complete mental breakdown, Bill thought as he watched Tom run around the flat like a headless chicken. He would have followed his twin if he could only have willed his damn legs into cooperating with him. But, as it was, he landed flat on his face with pretty much every step he took – how the hell was anyone supposed to be coordinating four legs at once?!
He had been calling Tom's name all this time now but all that ever came out were slightly hysteric, grating meows.
God, he was going to have a heart attack, right here in the hall. As a cat, no less!

Tom rushed past him again, ignoring him completely, and hammered against Georg's door, then Gustav's, all the while screeching hysterically over the phone where he was obviously talking to the police.
He was so screwed. Bill wobbled towards the living room unsteadily, meowing pitifully to himself.


***



It was not till a lot later, after Georg and Gustav had looked for him as well, after Tom had called everyone he knew and after his twin's spectacular meltdown and the Gs looking at each other completely helpless that they noticed him.

“How did that cat get in here anyway?” Gustav asked in his best soothing voice as he handed Tom his third cup of camomile tea. Bill perked up from where he had rolled up into a miserable little heap on the footstool.

The cup rattled against the saucer, Tom's hands shook so hard and Bill could feel a massive lump forming in his throat.

“God...I don't even...” Tom sighed and rubbed at his red eyes, “it was out in the hall this morning and then...” Tom sniffled.

With supreme effort Bill untangled his legs and tried to jump down from the footstool to get over to where Tom was sitting. He tumbled down and landed on his belly on the soft carpet. Georg chuckled evilly and Bill took a moment to think the worst of his friend as he teetered towards the couch.
Good Lord, that sofa was high! Bill squinted up at the mountainous mass of leather and Tom's giant, tree-stem like legs on it.

Suddenly Gustav stood next to him, bending over Tom and handing him two little pills.
“Take that – they're sedatives.” He forced a glass of water on Tom before bending down and scooping Bill up to deposit him on the couch. Bill huddled close to his brother who didn't even seem to notice him. Still, Tom's smell and the warmth of his body were the closest thing in the way of normalcy that Bill had had ever since he woke up this morning.
A blanket was pulled over Tom's lap and then Gustav quietly shooed Georg out of the room. Even after they had closed the door, Bill could still hear their arguing whispers in the hallway.

“But what about that cat?” Georg hissed, thinking he was quiet but being everything but.
“Seriously, the cat? We have bigger worries now. Let the cat be...”

Next to him, a shuddering sigh shook his brother's frame and Bill cuddled in closer. Just in case...


***



It was already late in the evening when Tom finally seemed to wake from his catatonic state. He had spent pretty much the entire day staring into space. Bill hadn't moved from his side the entire time and no one paid much attention to him anyway. Gustav had called their parents but they were in Greece as far as Bill remembered, so no luck there; Dave had come by but was as clueless as everyone else. He had talked to the police officer that had come by the house though. All this, Bill had been able to hear without ever venturing from his place in the sofa – cats had wicked good hearing!
The police officer had said they would have to wait for 24 hours before they could report him as missing and Bill had given a desperate, tiny meow at that.

“God, this is all so fucked up,” Tom muttered to himself, the first thing he had said for hours. Suddenly his twin's warm hand was on his back, petting him absentmindedly and Bill couldn't contain a happy purr at that. They sat for what seemed like hours, Tom's pan-sized hand heavy on his back, before his twin gently scooped him into his arms. Tom got off the sofa, grabbed some of the pills Gustav had left lying on the table and shuffled down the hallway towards his bedroom, where he put Bill down on his bed.
Bill could feel his belly rumbling with hunger. He hadn't eaten all day and he was so hungry he felt almost light-headed but as Tom curled into a ball under the blankets, a deep and unhappy frown etched into his forehead, Bill couldn't find it in him to leave. He rolled up at his brother's side and drifted off into an uneasy sleep.


***



The next day started surprisingly well. Bill managed to hop off the bed without breaking anything and Tom seemed better, too. Not great by any means but Tom had always been the more pragmatic one, while Bill tended to wallow in his histrionics, cultivating ulcers while he circled over problems like a vulture.
So while Bill practically inhaled the saucer of milk Tom had given him as breakfast, Tom was pacing around the kitchen, talking agitatedly to David. By the end of the call, Bill was so full his belly was aching.

Tom put the phone down and scooped him up, really looking at him for the first time. Bill stared intently at his brother, somehow willing Tom to see past all that furry mess and actually see him. Tom sighed and pulled gently at his ear.

"You need to go now...shoo shoo!" Tom put him down again, despite Bill's best effort to claw at his brother's billowing shirt. He landed lightly on the floor, his paws slipping on the smooth wood floor.
The door opened in front of him and Tom gently nudged him towards it, trying to get him out into the hallway.

"Come on now...be a good kitty...off you go," Tom cooed.

Bill stemmed his paws into parquet, wildly determined not to move one inch.

"You need to go home now, I can't keep you forever!"
I am home, Bill wanted to say but all that came out was a high whining sound.

All his protestations were in vain though. With one more or less gentle shove Bill slithered across the polished wood and out into the hallway. The door closed right in front of his face and he could hear receding steps in the apartment.

Bill looked down at his paws, claws digging into the rough material of the doormat. Tom had just kicked him out of the apartment, his apartment! Wrinkling his nose in defiance he got up and hobbled down the staircase, praying that the downstairs door would be open for a change. He had barely managed to coordinate his four legs into working, he could hardly see himself jumping up the door to claw at the handle.

The door was just a crack open, with a rolled up newspaper jammed into the door jamb and Bill squeezed through the gap into the streets behind. He paused on the doorstep, momentarily paralyzed by the onslaught of noises and smells crowding in on him left and right. The roar of traffic was deafening.

Cautiously rounding the corner of the apartment block Bill squinted at the street. Cars, trucks and motorbikes were speeding past him with a sound like thunder and everything seemed so exceedingly big and menacing.

Was that nine lives stuff really true? A truck roared past and Bill could feel the ground tremble beneath his paws. It was then that he decided to take his luck with the high brick wall surrounding the back side of the apartment.

With surprising ease he hopped up on a narrow ledge, balancing along it till he could jump up on the main wall. It enclosed the entire apartment building so all he would have to do was to find an open window to slip back inside the apartment...and hope that Tom would not throw him out again.

"What do you mean 'you're doing all you can' ?!" The voice was faint and came from far away but in the relative still of the backyard Bill's ears still picked up on the voice. It was Tom's.

His legs wobbling, Bill balanced down a steep part of crumbling brick wall. Craning his neck, he could see the open windows and the broad sill.

"But it's Bill! You have to look for him now!" Tom's agitated voice drifted out of the open window.

He would have to cover about three meters in height to get up to the window. Bill looked down into the backyard behind him. A good five meters if he fell...

"But we're special! We're not just anyone! That's like...if Madonna went missing, it'd be all over the news, red alert!" By now Tom was almost shrieking.

Bill wriggled in place, his legs tensing up almost on their own as he stared at the ledge above him. Just jump up there, no problem at all...he was a cat now, he could do that!
Inside he was screeching in panic, his entire body so taut it felt almost unbearable... and then he jumped.

The sill came closer alarmingly fast and Bill reached forward as best he could, his claws already out, hoping he would somehow manage to hold himself somewhere.

In hindsight he wouldn't have needed to worry too much. He scrabbled against the windowsill, still so accelerated from his jump he pelted right into the room, taking a dried up plant in its pot with him on his way into the room. He skidded to a halt, his furry bum sliding over the parquet, coming to a halt in front of his twin's sneakers amidst a shower of mulch debris from the potted plant.

The grumbling 'ouch' came out as an odd hissing sound.

"Yeah well, I don't care what the rules are – you need to look for Bill! Now!" Tom barked into the phone before snapping it shut. He put it back into his pocket, before crouching down in front of Bill.

Bill could hear his brother's kneecaps crunch as Tom squatted down before him. He put on what he hoped was his most adorable face and blinked at his twin. He had to make up for his impromptu entrance if he wanted Tom to keep him.

"You again?" Tom teased, his voice completely different than just a few moments before, a whole lot softer, with an almost unctuously, drippy quality to it.
Bill simply purred, wobbling to his feet to stalk over and rub his head against Tom's hand.

"Guess I have to keep you then, huh?" Tom picked him up easily, shelving him on his arms and Bill propped his paws up on his brother's shoulder, purring like there was no tomorrow.

"You're a scrawny little thing...let's see what we have for you," Tom mumbled as he carried Bill down the hallway towards the kitchen and just right in that moment Bill could have died of gratefulness. Tom would keep him, everything after that was just a minor bump in the road!

Bill happily ran slalom between Tom's legs, while Tom raided the fridge to find something more for him to eat. His twin's search produced even more milk and some of Gustav's beloved mettwurst – not Bill's favorite by a long shot though probably still better than real cat food; it was only when Tom proceeded to place two saucers on the floor that Bill growled in protest and jumped onto one of the kitchen chairs, resisting all of Tom's stupid cooing sounds intended to coax him down from there.

"God, you're stubborn!" Tom sighed eventually, giving up and slumping into the chair next to him.


***



"The cat is still here?!" Georg's booming voice jerked Bill out of his pleasant haze. Tom's hand was warm against his side, petting him just lightly when he stirred.

"I threw it out but it came back through one of the windows," Tom chuckled, pulling lightly on one of Bill's ears.
"I guess it wants to stay."

Georg just groaned as he plopped down on the couch next to Tom. The pungent odor of Georg's after shave came down on Bill like a poisonous cloud and he curled closer in on himself, hiding his nose under one of his paws. His fur smelled of Tom, a lot stronger of Tom than he would have normally noticed but still infinitely better than Georg.

His ear pricked up when Georg spoke again:

"It's a stray, Tom. If you really want to keep it, it needs to go to the vet. Who knows what kind of bugs it has...and we need a name!"

"Need a name for what?" Came a voice from behind them.

It was Gustav. Bill could tell not only by the smell – fabric softener, hair shampoo and lots of soap – but also by the softer voice which was a lot more comfortable than Georg's booming tenor.

"The cat. Tom's keeping it." There was a certain disapproval in his band mate's voice that didn't escape Bill even though he was curled up into a tight ball.
Wrinkling his nose in defiance he got up and lay down at Tom's other side, with his back turned to Georg. He couldn't defend himself but he sure as hell would not put up with that.

Tom's hand came down on his back, all hot and heavy, and began to scratch his neck. Bill's eyes closed almost reflexively and he was seconds away from dozing off again. If he was doomed to spend the rest of his life as a cat he could maybe, just maybe, get used to it.

"How about Cleo...or Molly? Milly?" Gustav suggested.

"Do we even know it's a...girl?"

"It looks like one!"

Bill meowed in protest but nobody took notice of him as Georg and Gustav were bouncing names back and forth between themselves, most of them girls' names.

Suddenly someone grabbed him by the back of his neck, yanking him roughly from his cozy nest in the folds of Tom's hoodie. Bill whined in protest as he was pulled into the air, his whole body going inexplicably rigid in the strong grasp.

"Georg, you can't yank the cat around like that, you'll hurt it!" Out of the corner of his eye Bill could see Tom shooting upright in his seat and reaching for him but Georg pushed him off with ease.

"Don't be silly! Cat's go all stiff if you hold them like that, doesn't hurt one bit." And he was right. It didn't hurt, it was just uncomfortable.

"I just want to find out if it's male or female, so relax..." Georg added grandly, taking one of Bill's hind legs with pointy fingers, pulling it straight. Bill growled but really could just about have died of embarrassment.

"Oh look! Tiny balls...it's a boy!" Georg crowed triumphantly before he dropped Bill back into Tom's lap.

Tiny! Bill stalked over to the end of the couch, far, far away from Georg and everyone else, his eyes already zooming in on that invitingly looking stack of cushions.

"You should get him neutered when you take him to the vet," Gustav added and Bill jumped clean off the sofa and ran down the hallway towards his room.

Nobody would cut off his tiny balls any time soon!


***



It wasn't until late in the night that Bill dared to come out from his hiding place under his bed. He pawed the door open just a crack and peered down the empty hallway. He guessed it must have been already dark but he could see perfectly. The hallway was painted in light blueish grays, everything so clear as if in broad daylight.
He slipped out the door, padding down the hallway quietly. The wild hotchpotch of smells had subsided considerably and he could smell the fresh night air coming in through the opened windows.

The flat was all quiet; or rather, it would have been to a human ear. Bill, however, could hear everything: the constant, high pitched whirring of the compressor of the fridge, the quiet ticking of the clocks, the traffic in the street below and even the fluttering of the moths round the streetlights.

He did a quick round of the living room, jumping up on the kitchen counter to lap up the remains of milk in an abandoned bowl of cereal, before he strolled down the hallway again.
Tom's door was just about a crack open – in foresight probably, to let him in later on – and he slinked into the dark room behind it.

The entire room smelled of sleep and Bill started to purr as he jumped up on the bed. He rounded the lump hidden under the covers, little puffs of Tom's scent wafting up into his nose every time his paws came down on the soft sheets. Tom was wrapped up in the mass of sheets on the bed, only his hand sticking out of the convolute of blankets.

Bill dipped his head, rubbing his cheek against the back of his brother's hand. As awkward as this whole situation he found himself in was, he was insanely thankful that in Tom at least he had found a cat lover.
Tom grumbled in his sleep his hand jerking away from Bill's head and Bill carefully clawed at the sheet, pawing it back just far enough to create a small gap he could wriggle into. The suffocating heat under the blanket didn't bother him and he curled in on himself at Tom's side.

He would have to find a way to tell Tom who he really was, he thought idly as he meticulously licked his paw to wash his face before bed. The problem of course being that Tom wasn't necessarily the smart twin and he was hampered by only being able to produce pathetic meowing and whining sounds. And then they would have to find a way to turn him back; and then he should maybe claw Georg's eyes out for today's tiny balls comment and then...Bill fell asleep listening to the faint breathing sounds coming from his brother.


***



Tom's sleep wasn't quite as deep and settled as his brother's. He kept tossing and turning, images of Bill dead in a ditch, Bill kidnapped kept haunting his dreams. He had the vague impression the clingy stray from this morning was with him in bed; something about claws digging into his side when he rolled over onto something soft and warm.

He woke up early the next day, feeling like someone had put him through the wringer; everything ached and it felt like something was weighing down on his chest.
Tom blinked through the gray haze of the early morning light – to find that there was something on his chest indeed. The black stray cat, staring at him with that strange kind of unmoving, alert gaze that made it seem eerily human somehow.

"Hey you..." Tom mumbled with a thick morning voice, as he twisted the bedding down far enough to get a hand out and scratch behind the cat's ear. Just the way its eyes narrowed, that sheer look of indulgence when he did that brought a smile to his face.

Soon the cat rolled on its side, rubbing its head against the duvet, doing happy claws against the folds of the bedding, pulling individual threads out of it.

"You'll need a name soon..." Tom mumbled, more to himself than the cat in particular. The animal was stretched out over the length of his chest, its head right under his chin, rubbing the crown of its head against Tom's throat.

As if it had understood the meaning of his words though the cat sprung up on it's feet to face him, fixing him with that eerie intense gaze again. Tom chuckled uneasily, the animal's queer eyes staring down on him.

"So you have a name, huh?" He joked, poking it lightly in its narrow chest. The cat clawed after his retreating hand, giving him that weirdly exasperated look Tom only knew too well from...

'Bill,' he muttered under his breath, feeling the weight that had been pressing down on him ever since his brother vanished become heavier and more oppressive. He let out a long breath, feeling sick all of a sudden. Soon he would have to get out of bed and get in contact with the police again. Look for his little brother.

Suddenly the cat jumped off the bed, nimbly hopping onto a little sidetable that was stacked with odd boxes and magazines. The cat landed on top of the pile, already swaying precariously but before Tom could even so much as pull himself upright, the entire thing toppled over, boxes clattering all over the floor with the cat landing lightly on its feet amidst the conundrum. A Scrabble box spilled open, the tiny letters scattering all over the floor.
Tom groaned, swinging his feet over the ledge of the bed. A Scrabble tile pinched the sole of his right foot and he had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. Maybe Georg was right in his inherent dislike of the cat – it really was looking to be a lot of trouble.

With a deep groan he leaned forward to scoop up the cat but stopped when he saw the agitated pawing. The cat was pushing around the letters on the floor, making odd gawking sounds as it did so. Intrigued, Tom lowered himself to the floor sitting down cross-legged in front of the cat.

An M was shoved into his direction, followed by an assortment of vowels, all pelle melle. Soon a whole pile of seemingly random letters lay in front of him. Tom reached out for a B but the cat was quicker than him and scratched him lightly over the back of his hand.
With a defeated sigh Tom leaned back against the foot of the bed and watched as the mangy little cat pawed excitedly at the Scrabble tiles. Strangely enough it wasn't like Kasimir who would paw at things just for the heck of it, finding whatever delight cats did in random things like this; this cat had an eerie look of concentration etched on it's round little face and Tom couldn't help but lean forward expectantly.

The B from before was joined by an I, one more I and two Ls, plus an M. Tom blinked unwittingly as he watched the cat paw the game's tiles into a specific order.



His mouth formed the words in front of him but it was like the meaning didn't fully reach his brain. I'm Bill. The cat stared hard at him, trotting anxiously in place. Tom reached for the tiles, picking up the B and fumbling at it, a stupefied look on his face. Could it really be...

“Bill?” He all but whispered, not really daring to believe himself as he said it. The cat let out a high-pitched whining noise and jumped into his lap, rubbing its face against his hand and purring loudly.
Tom let the Scrabble tile fall to the floor and grabbed the cat under its front paws, bringing its face close to his, staring at it. It couldn't be...these things just didn't happen.

“Bill...that's...you're a cat?” All he got in response was an impatient growl, the cat's claws raking through thin air before Tom let go of it again and the cat once again busied itself with the Scrabble tiles.



It felt like all the air was knocked out of him. Tom sagged against the foot of the bed, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. It was covered with cold sweat and he only just noticed it now.
Bill was stalking through the room agitatedly, meowing quietly as he went.

“How the hell...” Tom started but stopped when he saw the look on his brother's face. He was just as clueless as Tom was.

“Shit!” Tom mumbled and sank back against the bed. He felt sick, his heart hammering in his chest. All this time he had thought Bill had gone missing, that his baby brother could be laying dead in a ditch somewhere, or similar horror scenarios and now he had discovered that the thin little stray that had so mysteriously appeared in the house yesterday was his twin. Maybe he should have felt relief at this. Bill was okay. He was a cat but at least he was okay, he was with Tom. He didn't feel relief however, just even more confused as before.


***



They were quickly gaining a balance, a resemblance of every day life. Bill stalked happily through the house, acting as if he owned the place, sleeping mostly in Tom's bed or making himself a nest in Tom's discarded shirts. After initial struggles with Tom trying to feed him conventional cat food Bill had finally trained his twin to get him liverwurst, ham and cream rather than the squishy jelly stuff and plain water.
Together they had decided to keep the fact that Bill was now a cat to himself. As far as the outside world was concerned Bill was still mysteriously missing, a fact that David tried to hide by making up a story about an impromptu holiday Bill had supposedly taken alone to get away from the stressful life of a superstar. The fans were pissed and everyone wondered why Tom wasn't with him on his trip but everything was better than the truth that Bill couldn't be found anywhere.
Bill lived his life as Tom's adopted stray cat, sleeping his days away in Tom's room. Georg had taken to ignoring him after Bill had clawed his way up the bassist's pants once, making extra sure to sink his claws in as deeply as possible in retaliation for the tiny balls comment. It had earned him a slap on the ass when he ran away but since then Georg had resigned himself to calling him "the evil cat monster" and left him alone.

They were sitting on Tom's bed watching a movie. Well, Tom was watching it but Bill, only being able to see black and white, had soon lost interest and was letting Tom scratch behind his ears instead, purring loudly as he only half-listened to the endless drone of the TV.
Tom's nimble fingers moved further down, right along his spine and Bill's muscles involuntarily twitched as a pleasant tickling sensation spread all the way down to his toes.
Out of sheer instinct he rolled over on his back, tucking up his hindlegs neatly, waiting for some more of that mind-bogglingly great petting.

None came. Instead Tom stared down at him in vague horror.
“Dude, I am not going to rub your belly.”

With an annoyed growl Bill turned round again and stalked haughtily towards the foot of the bed where he began to groom himself. Stupid Tom! Gustav had rubbed his belly plenty to times already! Bill paused a moment, contemplating how utterly wrong that had just sounded.
Oh well, he was a cat, Bill thought as he stretched his hind leg behind his head, might as well make the best of it.

“Bill!” Tom's harsh tone made him look up from where he was washing himself. What now?
“Go lick your ass somewhere else, okay?”

Bill leveled a death glare at his twin before hopping off the bed and leaving Tom's room. Someone was overly sensitive today...

He could hear the shuffling of footsteps in the kitchen, coupled with Gustav's typical smell wafting out of the kitchen. Gustav meant food (probably some belly rubs). The drummer spoiled him senseless and Bill was enjoying every second of it.

He pawed open the door far enough to squeeze through the crack, jumping straight up on the table where Gustav sat, poring over the newspaper. The blond perked up as Bill landed lightly on the table, walking straight over the newspaper. Gustav wouldn't mind, he loved him as a cat, got all cooing and sweet with him every time. To be brutally honest, Bill was annoyed by all the baby talk everyone always got into as soon as they saw him but as long as it ensured him some cream or cuddles later on they could go on all they wanted.

Gustav sighed in mock annoyance as he ran his hand lightly over Bill's back, petting him. Bill could feel goosebumps popping up all along his spine and he stretched his hind legs awkwardly in order to chase the chills away. He had always been a haptic person, constantly needing to touch other people, but now he found he couldn't get enough of these kind of affections shown to him. That was one aspect of cat life he certainly enjoyed to the fullest.

“You want some milk, huh?” Gustav muttered in his softest voice, running long fingers down the length of Bill's spine. Bill bumped his head against the drummer's chin in way of an answer.
“Milk it is...”
While Gustav got up to get a saucer and the milk from the refrigerator, Bill sat idly on the table, on the opened newspaper and watched specks of dust dance through the lazy afternoon sun as it filtered through the curtains. He had reached a strange state of acceptance regarding his current dilemma. The way he saw it, it could be a lot worse. He could have woken up as a guinea pig or a God knows what kind of hideous creature. Being a cat certainly wasn't so bad.

Gustav took his sweet time finding a saucer he deemed unworthy and old enough for it to be used for Tom's new pet and Bill stared dumbly down at the newspaper he sat on. A moment later his ears perked up...


***



His mouth tasting of cheap paper and bitter toner, Bill chased down the hallway, pawing agitatedly at Tom's door. Back in the kitchen he could hear Gustav cursing, heavy footsteps booming down the hallway soon afterwards and Bill pushed against Tom's door with all his weight, wriggling through the narrow opening as soon as he could.

"Hey you..." Tom said in way of a greeting, without really looking up from the guitar he was tuning. His brother plucked at string, listening to the twang of the note, his face screwed up in concentration. Even Bill could tell the note was off but then again, Tom couldn't hear as well as he could.

To get his brother's attention – and also partly to ease the mad itching in his left flank – Bill rubbed against Tom's leg, winding himself around it.
The guitar was promptly discarded and a big hand rubbed his side, nimble fingers digging into the thick fur, easing the itches.

"Tom!" Gustav rapped on the door so hard Bill could have sworn he saw the wood shudder under the onslaught. He pulled up his tail and cowered behind his twin's legs. Normally he wouldn't have thought twice about confronting the drummer but ever since he had woken up in a cat's body everything about his friends seemed endlessly intimidating.

"Tom! Your damn cat has ripped through the newspaper - " Bill duly spit out the scrap of paper in his mouth, "and now the entire kitchen is a mess. I will not clear that away – you understand me?!" Gustav's loud voice still rung in Bill's ears even after the footsteps had left down the hallway again.

Seconds later a strong hand gripped him round his neck and Bill found himself yanked from his hiding place. Tom's face was sour and strained.

"What did you do again?!" He all but moaned, flicking Bill on the nose just a little to make it sting before he set him down again.
"You keep doing stuff like that Georg will throw you out of the house – and then what?"

Bill studiously avoided his twin's reproach but busied himself with pawing at the drooled on piece of paper he had salvaged from the kitchen. Oh the joys of opposable thumbs – who would have ever thought he'd miss something as trivial as that...

Tom picked up the scrap piece of paper, his mouth wrinkling in disgust as he wiped Bill's spit off his fingers.

"Madame Grimaldi in Hamburg..." Tom shot him a doubtful look before he continued reading, his mouth forming soundless words as he skimmed through the article.
"...claims to exorcise demons and lift curses...oh Bill, come on, you don't seriously believe in that do you?!"

Bill managed the closest thing to an annoyed huff as he jumped up on the bed next to his brother. Belief had very little to do with it, he was grasping at straws, couldn't Tom see that?! And where was the damn Scrabble?

"You really want to go there?"

"Meow."

"Was that a yes or a no?"

"Meow!"

"So you want to go there?"

"Meow!"

Tom looked at the paper in his hands again. There was an address printed at the end of the article – the house where this notorious Grimaldi chick was supposed to hold her...whatever she did there, séances possibly.

Next to him Bill was anxiously trotting in place, his claws ripping out fine threads of stuffing from Tom's bed spread. The look on his brother's face was the closest to pleading Tom had ever seen on Bill. With a deep sigh he folded up the paper and put it in his pocket.

"Okay, okay, I give up...we'll drive out there and...yeah, whatever..." Tom muttered as he saw a black shadow streak out of his room as he went to his desk to get his car keys. He would drive Bill out there and hope for the best, though, to be brutally honest, he didn't put much stock into the whole idea. Maybe they would all have to get used to Bill's new form, buy him a sparkling flea collar and learn to live with it...

Putting on his brave face, Tom shuffled down the hallway. Bill was already at the wardrobe – sitting in one of his over sized man purses.

"Oh hell no! Get out of that!" Tom hissed, bending down to lift his brother out of the bag. Brotherly love only went so far and he would certainly not risk being seen carrying one of Bill's girly purses around with him.
Bill snarled from his patent leather throne and clawed at Tom's hands, giving him a defiant look that was menacing enough to make Tom take up the purse with a defeated sigh.

The trip down the stairs was shaky and wobbling, especially seeing as Tom tried to hide the bag within the folds of his unzipped hoodie. A cacophonous mixture of people, exhaust fumes and nature hit Bill's nose as soon as they were outside and Tom hurried towards the garage with big steps, keeping his head low in case anyone should see him with Bill's Gucci bag.

“Bill, I don't want you to get your hopes up too high, okay?” Tom muttered as he sat down in the driver's seat, depositing the bag on the seat next to him. The car started with a low rumble that Bill could feel shaking all the way up his paws.

“That woman is probably just a quack, a loonie...” The car rolled slowly out of the garage and Bill could feel his anticipation mount despite his brother's reservations. Charlatan or not, it felt like this Madame Grimaldi might just be his last hope.

“You know, tonight is Halloween...” Tom punched in the address into the navigation system as the car wove through the thick Hamburg traffic, “...but I think I'll just stay in tonight and we watch some movie. We could drop by the video store and rent something sappy.”

As Tom concentrated on the road ahead, trying hard to keep some semblance of conversation going, Bill watched his brother's profile. He had to hand it to Tom, he coped really well with the whole ordeal; probably a lot better than Bill would have, had he been in Tom's place.
Cats can't cry but Bill felt that constricting swelling in his chest – a feeling he remembered only too well from when he was still human. It wasn't sadness – he had somehow made his peace with his current situation – it was something else. An affection for his big brother so overwhelming, the feeling felt entirely too big for his small body. If there ever was a moment he wished he could speak, it was now.

“You have reached your destination.” The monotone female voice from the navigation system chirped just as Tom pulled into an empty backlot and turned off the engine.

Bill craned his neck to see but he was too small so he jumped on the fitting and looked out the front windshield. They were in the Speicherstadt, or at least it looked a lot like Bill remembered it. In front of them was a tall, red-brick building, its facade littered with iron grated windows. The bricks were wet from the rain and dirty, the backlot nothing more than a gravelpit filled with water puddles. It looked everything but inviting.

Bill looked at Tom in what he hoped was a questioning way. Was this really the right address?

“Hey, don't look at me like that – that's the address the paper gave for your Grimaldi woman.” Tom shrugged his shoulders and pulled the hood of his sweater over his head before he opened the car door and motioned for Bill to get out.

With one quick jump Bill was on the gravel outside, zig-zagging his way through the maze of puddles, up an iron grate staircase and onto what should have passed for a porch would this huge building have been anything else than one giant warehouse.
No sooner did he reach the entrance to the warehouse when he smelled it: the heavy fragrance of incense and smokes, combined with the kind of smothering perfume only old women ever wore.

He looked behind himself to see where Tom was and when he turned back again he faced a pair of patent leather shoes with large, gleaming buckles; no sound, not a single smell, the woman had simply appeared. Bill looked up and his jaw went slack. Graying hair pulled back into a wild bun, skin the texture of cured leather, piercing eyes – the woman from his dream.

“Hello my darling,” she scooped him up and pulled Bill into a loose embrace. The scent of her perfume was overpowering.
“Finally you're here, I was wondering when I'd see you again.”

The stairs creaked in protest as Tom climbed up to meet them. Bill could see the apprehension written on his brother's face and he couldn't blame him. This was freaky beyond description.

“And you must be his brother...my, my you have the same kind of beautiful brown eyes, don't you?” The woman chuckled and ran a spidery finger over Bill's furry brow. Despite his hair bristling Bill somehow knew he was in the right place. This woman would be able to help him. The only question was, would she?

“If you'll excuse us now, your brother and I have some business to attend to – private business.” The woman said to Tom, smiling and revealing a row of crooked and yellow teeth. “You may wait in the car.” And with that she turned around and carried Bill inside.

Even with his enhanced vision it took Bill some time to adjust to the subdued lightning inside. The flickering of candles was the only source of light illuminating the rooms, the fall of the woman's footsteps swallowed up by the thick Persian carpets that seemed to lay everywhere. She absentmindedly ruffled the hair on his neck as she carried him deeper and deeper into the massive warehouse. The smell of incense grew stronger, heavy and intoxicating and Bill could feel himself melt in the light hold of the woman despite all his previous resistance and apprehension.

“It took you quite some time to get here,” she sing-songed in a breathy voice, her foot kicking open a massive door at the end of the long hallway. Inside the low ceilinged room there stood a dainty little, wrought iron table, covered with a large cloth. The air was so heavy with the smell of incense Bill gasped silently for fresh air.
He was put down on a rickety old chair while the strange woman sat down in the one vis á vis.

“Now, Bill,” she crossed her legs, bouncing her foot so that the tiny beads adorning her billowing skirt jingled, “what are we going to do with you, huh?”

Bill blinked at the woman. She knew his name. How one earth did she know his name? He meowed tentatively. A wide smile spread on the woman's face, splitting her wrinkled mouth open in a self-satisfied grin.

“Of course I know your name, darling.” She brushed a stray strand of gray hair behind her ear. “What? Do you seriously think I don't know the names of the people I curse?”

Bill cocked his head to one side, his claws digging into the worn out cushioning of the chair he sat on. She cursed him, she fucking cursed him! A grating whining sound fought its way out as Bill glared at the woman across the table.

“What you said about Halloween...what was that again? Ah! Childish, stupid and boring, were your exact words...” She clucked quietly, gracing him with a disapproving look and Bill felt even smaller than before.

“That was not very nice now, was it?” Bill shook his head duly.

“And you would like to be a real human being again, yes?” Bill nodded, putting on what he hoped was his most endearing face and meowed quietly.

“Well, well...maybe we can do something about that...”


Outside Tom leaned against his car, smoking his sixth cigarette and scraping at the gravel with the toe of his sneakers. His hands felt cold and clammy and it wasn't just because of the humidity that seemed to permeate the Speicherstadt at all times of the day. He was nervous, part of him reproaching himself of letting this strange woman carry his baby brother away. Then again, Bill was more than capable of taking care of himself, especially now that he had actual claws...

He stared pensively at the large looming warehouse. Ditching his cigarette, Tom pushed himself off the side of the car he was leaning against and made his way across the backlot towards the entrance. Cautiously he pushed open the door and peeked inside. It smelled of musk and perfume but it was so dark he could barely see. At the far end of the hallway he thought he could discern a faint glimmer of light, perhaps an opened door and the illuminated room behind it.
On tiptoes Tom inched down the corridor, feeling his way along the wall towards the source of light. The closer he came, the clearer he could see the outlines of a heavy oak door, just a crack open and the light behind it. The smells grew stronger, almost overpowering and there were sounds as well. Tom slowed down, straining to hear what went on in the room behind that ominous door.
All he could hear was the indistinct, muffled sound of murmured words but he couldn't make out anything distinctive, just a drone of low sounds.

Inching closer still, Tom paused suddenly when he saw the light behind the door getting brighter. It started subtle but soon it flooded out over the carpets on the floor, getting brighter still, breaking through every crack and niche around the door until it eventually got too bright and Tom had to shield his eyes with his hands.
He stood there, frozen against the side of the wall out in the hallway, waiting for something, anything. The floorboards creaked and Tom tentatively peeked past the protective shield of his hand. Little circles of lights were still dancing through his field of vision, so Tom had to look twice to fully comprehend what he saw: Bill, standing in the doorway. Buck naked.

“Hey.” Bill gave him a cheery little wave, grinning from ear to ear.


***



“Hey, can we swing by that costume rental downtown?” Bill asked casually as he lit one of Tom's cigarettes but Tom could tell by the strange pitch in his brother's voice that the question was anything but casual. He quickly glanced at Bill, taking in his twin's profile from the side. Fortunately Tom had forgotten his gym bag in the car and now Bill was dressed in clothes that were way too big for him, probably smelled a little too.

“I thought you hated dressing up for Halloween?” Tom asked. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Bill shrug.

“I don't know, I kinda feel like celebrating Halloween tonight...” Bill muttered, staring ahead out of the windshield, an enigmatic smile on his face, before he added, “besides, I kinda promised someone I would...”

“You're feeling like going out as well? Dave'll be thrilled if we showed up...anywhere really,” Tom joked, trying his best to concentrate on the road. Somewhere deep down he harbored that irrational fear that if he didn't keep his eyes on his brother, Bill would be gone again.
Bill huffed and shook his head but Tom saw that delighted little smile on his twin's face anyway.

“I'm sure he will –“ Bill began but was interrupted when a violent cough shook his entire frame. Tom gripped the steering wheel nervously and was ready to pull over when Bill suddenly started to retch and heave.
With a nasty gurgling sound Bill's cheek bulged out, his face twisting up in disgust as he fumbled for a tissue and spit something into it.

“Bill, are you...?”
Bill shuddered noticeably as he rolled down the window and threw the balled up tissue out.
“S'okay...hairball, you know,” Bill shrugged eloquently.

“Ewww! Just promise me you won't lick your ass in front of me. Like, ever again.”
“Shut up, Tom!”
“Seriously, Bill – that scarred me for life.”
 
 
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