Thanks for all the wonderful comments and suggestions, I can use all the help I can get! And I appreciate it all very much. I hope to have more soon, the next chapter is close to done. Thanks again, Sandy
Chapter 5 Catapedamania
Tori bathed, dressed, undressed, redressed and attempted to do things with his hair. He was in the midst of this frustrating endeavor when Cat returned.
"Tori, I caught some pheasants! I brought them to your mother and she says she'll have Seril make some for the customers but she'll cook and save one for us! Especially for us! She seemed pleased. What happened to your hair?"
"Nothing, it's just drying from the bath. So, we'll have pheasant later? Sounds great! Are we working tonight? Is there a full house?"
"Not so full, the eastern party left and …there are things in your hair, are they supposed to be there?"
Tori began yanking pins from the snarled mass of curls.
"No, they snuck in when I wasn't looking."
"Do you want me to help?"
He didn't wait for an answer and deftly began working the pins free. Tori sighed quietly and let him take over. He took a deep breath and leaned back, letting his loose top slide down over one shoulder.
"So, we're not really needed downstairs and we have some time to kill until dinner?"
"Yes, I was going to sleep."
"Why don't you skip that and we can do something together?"
"Okay, if you like. What shall we do?"
"What do you want to do?"
"Sleep. Why are you talking like that? All wheezy like?"
"Breathy, not wheezy, breathy. Never mind. Look, I don't feel sleepy but we can lie down together."
Cat nodded and stripped, leaving his clothes in the usual heap on the floor. Tori followed his example, with, he was afraid, considerably less grace.
He slid into bed and snuggled against Cat.
"You're letting your skin breath today?"
"Yes. Cat, don't go to sleep! Cat!"
Tori snuggled closer.
"I was hoping, I thought you might, well, you said you were learning and, um, that you might…"
Cat gave him a blank stare.
"Cat, I want you to teach me about mating, I'm ready."
"It's a bedroom, seems like the right place to me."
"But I don't have all the things we need, I don't have rope or feathers or avocadoes or…"
"Avocadoes? No, don't explain. Look, we don't need all that stuff; we can just wing it, right?"
"Well, sure, I guess. We can start simple and when you get good I can teach you the more complicated maneuvers."
"That may take some time. Lots of time. A very long time."
"No, you'll catch on in no time. First thing is, relax."
"I am relaxed. What are you doing? You don't need that yet, do you? Doesn't that come under the heading of more complicated moves?"
"You're not relaxed at all, I'm going to help you relax, calm down. It's massage oil, it won't hurt you"
"Oh, sorry. Ah, that feels good; I didn't know you knew how to do that."
Cat continued to knead the hand warmed oil into Tori's skin.
"I know lots of things. And I'm learning lots more. I'll teach you if you want but right now, just close your eyes and relax."
It wasn't a suggestion he could resist, the massage was heavenly and he was feeling very tranquil indeed when the touch changed. He forced his eyes open and Cat put a finger over his lips.
"Don't worry, I've had training, I know what I'm doing. Just feel for now, you can learn to do later. My mentor likes nails now but I don't think you would, at least at the moment. If you do, just ask."
Tori nodded and let his eyes close again.
Cat seemed fascinated with finding Tori's sensitive areas and teasing at, on and around them to a point just short of torment. Then he would move on to the next, usually with a stern command to relax. Which was now impossible, although Tori gritted his teeth and tried to stay still as the next best thing.
"So, now we have a basic map, you see? When you do this you'll know where it feels best to touch. You could draw a diagram but it might ruin the mood, especially if the ink is cold or the quill is too sharp. Still, it might be fun, depends on your partner."
"I'll keep that in mind. Um, what do we do next?"
"Lick. Or kiss. Anything involving the tongue is good next."
"See, told you so. Now, relax! Tori, stop squirming!"
"I'm trying! But if you keep licking there…Ah, ohhh, sorry."
"It's okay; we skipped a whole bunch of steps though. Still, that was the proper ending so we know you have that down. I'll go get a cloth; we can try more later if you want."
"Dinner's ready. If you want to sleep more I'll eat yours."
Tori sat up, oriented himself in time and space and groaned.
"You let me fall asleep? I didn't want to sleep!"
"You didn't ask me to keep you awake; besides, sleep isn't such a bad thing after."
"I guess not, I just…I hadn't planned on falling asleep."
"Here, can you balance the tray? Or should we eat on the floor?"
"Dinner is here?"
"Bri and Seril brought it up on a cart, they seemed kind of, well, they kept trying to peer round me and Seril asked if you were alright. And Bri gave me a bottle of wine to go with dinner, he said it was traditional. Then Seril kind of growled at him. What tradition are we having today?"
"It's the pheasant tradition; you got us pheasant so you get wine. Did you tell them I was asleep? And, please tell me you didn't answer the door like that?"
"No and yes, Bri laughed when I said you were sleeping and Seril…didn't. He doesn't like me much."
"He doesn't dislike you; he just tends to worry about me a bit."
"I take good care of you, he doesn't have to worry."
Tori balanced the tray more evenly across his lap and picked at his food while Cat dove in with a vengeance.
"You do, don't you? Take care of me. Kind of. By your lights."
"Of course, we take care of each other. Although I am bigger and probably older so I am more responsible for you than you for me."
"Well, I'm definitely taller. That counts for a lot, doesn't it?"
"No. But, you don't mind taking care of me, do you? I mean you wouldn't go off and leave me to my own devices?"
"Which devices? Are you going to finish that?"
"No, go ahead. I'll take some wine though, if you would pass it over. And you didn't answer my question, again. Or questions, rather. I wonder sometimes if you're a great deal smarter than you let on."
"Oh, I am. I guess you didn't want a glass? "
"No, I'm fine with the bottle. Want some?"
"No, you can finish it. Did you want to practice more? Or are you too tired still?"
"No, I'm not tired now, I'd love to practice and also I'd like to learn more. If you don't mind?"
"No, I don't mind at all, that's why I learned. If you're not tired why are your eyes like that? They're half closed."
Tori gave up on the smoldering glance.
"I'm not tired at all, I'm just not too good at this."
"You're new to it, you'll be fine. Should I run the dinner things down first?"
"Would you mind? I don't want anyone to come up to get them at the wrong moment."
"I don't mind and don't say it, I'll get dressed first."
Tori lay back and pondered the situation while he was gone. He had no experience with seduction but he knew enough to grasp that he had no intrinsic talent for it. Still, Cat hadn't minded. Neither had he seemed swept away by desire. He had seemed maddeningly matter of fact.
Perhaps because he'd been giving and not receiving? And come to think of it, giving without receiving had never struck Tori as one of Cat's habits. Well, he could make it up to him now, even the scales.
Or was it because Tori was a male? Best not to think on that one, why dwell on what you couldn't change. If it was not part of Cat's culture perhaps it would be an acquired taste, he'd learned to eat vegetables after all. Tori shoved the idea into a small room in his mind and slammed the door.
Thoughts of the coming encounter made him six parts excited and half a dozen scared. To look and wonder was one thing; to have carte blanch was something else. To touch…to taste even…
"I thought you wanted to practice with me, if you want to practice by yourself I can curl up over here and…"
"No! I was just, I was…reviewing."
"Ah, good idea."
Tori shifted in the bed to let Cat climb in.
"So, you want to review together?"
Tori bit his lip as he thought this over.
"I've noticed that you don't, how can I say this, review, as far as I know. I mean, I've never seen or heard you and we've been sharing quarters for quite a while."
"I don't. I will with you if you think it would help you learn but I'd think you know that by heart by now, you do it all the time."
"I don't! Hardly ever. Occasionally. Humans do, it's like …"
"I wouldn't go that far. And I've tried to be discreet."
"You were. It's just that you tend to pant and I have good hearing."
"I'll try to remember that in future. So, why don't you? You seem to enjoy being touched and I would have thought, I have noticed that from time to time, in the mornings and all you seem…"
Cat considered this vague question for a while before answering.
"I am also new to this. I don't touch myself because…well, it's not something we do. It's hard to explain, there's no rule about it or anything, it's just unfamiliar to me. It seems odd, to pet yourself. I'd rather have someone else pet me, it seems more fun. And this whole thing is strange for me. It seems so complicated and round about. We don't do these things, we mate. Or we play. The two don't go together for us. So it feels odd to have them all tangled up together, playing and cuddling and mating. I'm trying to understand it but it's not easy. I can learn the physical part; it's all the odd bits that don't seem strictly physical that I don't understand. I could maybe teach you the physical part and you can teach me the other bits?"
"Doesn't your teacher help you with that aspect?"
He regretted the question almost before the words hit the air. Cat's long pause didn't help.
Tension leaked from Tori's body and he smiled.
"Do you want to elaborate on that?"
"No, not really."
"Okay. So, can I start now?"
"Whenever you're ready."
Tori sat up, swung around to straddle Cat's legs.
He looked into Cat's eyes and his resolve wavered a bit.
"Perhaps you should close your eyes?"
"It would just seem more natural? I feel like you're staring at me."
"I'm looking, not staring."
"Well it's easier if you don't."
Cat closed his eyes and Tori let his eyes travel over his body.
The scars were light whirls of silver on his skin and Tori traced one with a tentative finger.
"How did you get these?"
"Oh, not fighting?"
"That too. They can be kind of the same thing sometimes."
Tori continued his exploration; at least Cat had no shyness about letting him know when something felt good. He would sigh softly, stretch into the touch and smile dreamily. When Tori slid on hand around his length he lifted his hips and rested his hands on Tori's thighs, kneading gently.
"That's nice, that's very nice. Although, if you are wanting to learn about women being nice there isn't going to be helpful really. I did try but I can't seem to change that."
Tori went still and Cat made a grumbling sound under his breath. Tori ignored it.
"I don't understand, you tried to change what? How?"
Cat opened his eyes slightly.
"I tried to change into a female form, it seemed like I might be able to but I can't."
"Why did you try to change?"
"I thought it might be fun. And it might be useful for you, for when you wanted to learn. But for some reason it doesn't work. Sorry."
Tori tried to imagine Cat in female form and failed, he was simply too male to entertain the idea.
"Don't try again, what if you succeeded and got stuck that way? It doesn't bear thinking on. Can your people generally change gender?"
"Not that I know of."
"Well don't' mess about that way then, life is confusing enough at the moment."
Cat's hands drifted further up his thighs, bringing his mind back to the present endeavor and he began stroking slowly, moaning when Cat mirrored his movements.
"Ah, if you do that I'm not sure I can concentrate. Don't stop."
"I'll get a cloth."
"No, you went last time, I'll go get one."
Tori stood a little shakily and went to the wash room. He paused to check out his reflection in the mirror over the sink and peered into his eyes. He thought he looked a tad different, maybe?
Well, probably not but he felt different. And if he'd still succumbed first at least Cat had followed soon after. It may not have been a stellar attempt at allurement but it had been mutually enjoyable and that was a start. He felt a lazy contentment that colored the world a hazy rose and left a bone deep conviction that all would be well.
"Cat? Here you go."
Cat accepted the cloth and cleaned up, tossed the cloth into the heap of dirty clothes in the far corner and rose.
"Thanks. I'm going to go out for a bit."
Tori, who had envisioned a night of cuddling and after glow, frowned.
Cat shrugged and stalked to the window.
"Cat, wait, I'll come with you."
"Don't you want to sleep a little? I'll be here when you wake up and we can do something together then."
"But, but, I don't want to sleep and I don't want to do something together tomorrow. I thought… didn't I do well? I know I'm new at it but, but… maybe I need more practice. We should practice more."
"We can practice more tomorrow."
The rosy haze evaporated.
"Didn't you like it? Did I do something wrong?"
"No, you were fine, you're a quick learner. Your mate will be very happy with you someday."
Cat changed and loped up and over the sill, disappearing into the night.
"That was the stupidest idea you've ever had, why did I listen to you?"
Seril and Bri sat stunned by the sight of Tori in the closest thing to a tantrum they'd seen since his third birthday. He had greeted them first thing in the morning with red eyes and a marked tendency to throw things. Luckily eye/hand coordination had never been his strong suit.
Seril cleared his throat and Tori stopped his pacing to give him a glare.
"Tori, please sit down and take a deep breath, then tell us what's wrong."
"Everything's wrong. He didn't even come back last night."
Bri set a cup of tea on the table by Tori and hoped he wouldn't regret it. Thankfully Tori took a sip and set it down, rather than fling it at random.
"He being Cat I assume? When we saw him last afternoon he seemed fine, what happened?"
"I don't know."
"Umm, well, did everything go smoothly? The first time can be awkward I know but surely he'd not be mean about that?"
"It went fine. I thought it went fine, but maybe it wasn't that great for him."
"I would have thought with a male it would be fairly obvious if it wasn't going well. I actually would have thought that with a male it would have to be damn frightful not to be enjoyable, I mean, it's sex."
"Don't judge everyone by yourself. Tori, you didn't hurt him did you? Perhaps…"
"Hurt him? How would Tori hurt him?"
"Well, not to get too deeply into the details but surely it could be painful, right?"
Seril shook his head.
"I'd think it would be more likely that Tori was the one in danger of being sore this morning. And he doesn't seem to be."
Tori sighed into his tea.
"We didn't do that and I'm not going to discuss who would have been where. It hardly matters anyway, I doubt we'll ever…damn, I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize, it's okay to cry."
"I'm not crying."
Bri and Seril exchanged a look.
"Of course you're not."
"What is going on here?"
All three started and Tori wiped his nose swiftly on his napkin.
"Nothing, Mother. We were just having a quiet cup of tea."
"If the tea's so bad it makes you cry you could do me a favor and carry some up to room seven. They want breakfast and they want it an hour ago. Horrible people."
Tori rose and his mother motioned him back down.
"Bri can go and take them some toast as well. Seril can go retrieve dinner from the side yard."
"A deer and a brace of rabbits."
Tori looked up.
"Cat? Did he, is he…"
"I didn't see him but I assume he left them for us. I suppose it's just barely possible that the local wildlife is suffering a rash of suicides but it's doubtful on the whole."
The brothers left on their assigned tasks and Tori watched them go wistfully and wracked his brain for a way to make his own escape.
"I was just heading out to the stables, I thought…"
"No you weren't. Sit back down; I think we need to talk."
Tori slumped back in his seat.
"We don't really. I don't know why you'd think…"
"Tori, you've been crying. In the kitchen. In front of your brothers. Taken in combination these things lead me to think something fairly tragic has happened and you are going to tell me what it is. While I have a cup of tea."
Tori rose to get her a cup, wishing he were a better liar. Or that she was easier to lie to.
"It's nothing really. No need to concern yourself."
Silence while she fiddled with lemon and a spoon.
"Things are just a bit confusing for me at the moment, I'll work it out."
She finished fixing her tea to her satisfaction and took a small sip.
"I'm just…having a bad morning. And Cat, well, Cat…he's…Cat."
"Ah, we're getting somewhere now I think. Cat. Is he responsible for this bad morning?"
"No. Not really. Not exactly. Yes."
Tori sputtered and his mother sighed.
"Child of mine, I'm not so old as to be blind. And I'm not so sheltered as to be easily shocked."
"Where ever would you get the idea that we're lovers?"
"For a start you follow him about with cow eyes most of your waking moments. And then there's the fact that you forego your books to go out tromping in the woods with him, and the day you pick the great outdoors over a book is a red letter day. And then there's the matter of your hair, you used to just run your fingers through it and call it a day while now you fuss and primp and …"
"I do not primp! And I do not follow him about making eyes at him, I don't love him."
"That's a sad thing for him then, you should tell him so as gently as possible. And as soon as you can, waiting won't make it any easier on either of you."
(Semi-evil place to leave it but the next chapter is in the works)
Also, in case anyone is curious, as a cat perhaps?, the title meaning follows
Catapedemania-an obsession with jumping from high places