|The Transformation Story Archive||The Circe Treatment|
The soft sounds of leaves being crunched underfoot was the only sound that the intruder made. It was early autumn across the Rockies but in Yellowstone autumn comes early, with winter never far behind. The air carried a crispness that had never been noticed in years, he thought to himself. Not since... well, not in a long time indeed. He chuckled, realizing already that there was a difference here in the park, the feeling that something had changed evident to his senses.
It had taken him a while to get back here. The years he'd spent in Canada and Alaska had left him ill-prepared for the US again. Things had changed radically, so much so that it took him a while just to pass through Customs. The fact that his ident papers were not exactly in order didn't help matters. But finally he managed to get through the paperwork and back into the States, travelling as he had for the last few years. On foot.
There was something unusual about walking, he thought to himself. So few folks consider walking around the block any more, much less walking through the countryside. They never take the time to look at what they're are going past, to see the beauty and the wonder. Instead, it's hurry up, head from A to B and be damned with everything in between.
He walked because he enjoyed walking. He felt closer to the land by going from place to place on foot, even if it took him a while. On a good day he could cover 50 miles easily, and even in bad weather he could manage at least half that much. Already he had walked his way from Edmonton, having left there in mid-July.
Getting to Yellowstone had become more difficult and dangerous once he reached Bozeman, however. There he had learned of some unusual incidents in the park, incidents that caused the government to close the park temporarily. More sinister was the military in evidence around, travelling about in caravans with weapons in evidence. Combined with some of the even darker rumors that he had heard in Canada, he knew something was up, something the government didn't want public and would do almost anything to keep that way.
He managed to skirt around the issue when asked what he was doing by merely saying that he was walking cross-country, heading back to the East Coast. Most of the people accepted that answer, thinking he was on some fundraiser. But once past Livingston, he managed to get off the main road and onto the backtrails he knew of.
Many of them were closed as well, but one, a cow path was his way in. He had to be very cautious, having spotted sensors on some of the roads and slipping away before they noticed him. Most all of them were pointed in towards the park, waiting. But this one had shorted out from the rains, giving him a place to get in without being spotted.
He sprinted through the brush, managing to get deeper into the woods before he stopped to see where he was. Familiar landmarks told him he was about a half day's walk from the park boundary, and perhaps a day from the ranger station he knew was on the north end of the park. Hitching his pack a little higher, he took off at a fair pace, whistling softly to himself.
He spent the night in a clearing, unbothered by any interruptions His morning wake-up call consisted of the soft crunch of branches, a pair of elk walking close to his spot. Getting himself organized and having breakfast, he made sure no one could tell anyone had been there and took off again.
A short ways into the morning, he felt his ears twitching. Someone, or something was following him. He wasn't absolutely certain what it was, although he was fairly sure he was being watched closely. His senses couldn't spot anything unusual, so instead he went on his way figuring whoever it was would appear later on.
He continued walking through the woods, taking his time and wandering on occasion to look around him. The forest continued to hide his shadows, but he was now positive that they knew he was there. Instead of being worried, he was actually rather relieved that they were aware of him.
Late afternoon found him at the edge of a swiftly running stream, the water clear and sweet. He paused there for a while, refilling his canteen and cleaning off in the cold water as best he could. Then he looked around, and stared staring into the water, watching it flowing past.
A pair of feet caught his attention after a while. A cloven hoof as well as a more human looking foot, to be precise. He looked upwards, his eyes widening only slightly at the sight before him. On his left he stared at the equine form, the white coloration, the golden horn spiraling out of the head. A unicorn, staring at him in curiosity and puzzlement. Next to him was a male human. Well, mostly human if you ignore the fact that behind him a clearly visible foxtail was slowly swishing back and forth. He gave a soft chuckle and sat back slightly.
"Well, I was beginning to wonder when you or anyone else was going to show up." He said this in a matter of fact voice, making the unicorn even more puzzled. "You're wondering why I'm not fleeing in terror from you," he added, a tint of amusement coloring his words, "or kowtowing before you like some living demi-beings?"
The unicorn gave off a soft nicker, suspiciously like a laugh, while the human/fox smiled slightly. He grinned, standing up and brushing off his knees. "Well, don't worry, I'm not about to do either. Run in terror or fawn all over you. In fact, I've been looking for you. Or anyone for that matter."
The unicorn looked at his companion, then turned back to peer curiously at him. <Why?>
That drew a soft chuckle from him. "Several reasons, all personal ones. I figure you have a few questions of your own. Like who I am, what I'm doing here, why am I talking with a unicorn and a fox morph in the middle of Yellowstone, things like that." The way he phrased it made both chuckle again, amusement clear in his eyes.
He was about to answer but a soft mechanical sound in the air caused him to stop and look up. The unicorn's ears flicked and looked up as well. As if they had practiced their actions, both quickly moved under cover and headed in opposite directions... the unicorn and fox disappearing into deeper woods, himself under a rocky outcropping. Overhead a helicopter flew by, it's markings clearly military. It headed westward and quickly disappeared from sight... and slowly he came out from hiding.
"Damn, too close. Should have heard that before they got almost overhead. You're getting old..." He shook his head, then looked back across the stream, seeing the pair coming out of hiding.
"You knew?" the human fox said, a sense of distrust suddenly visible in his eyes.
He nodded slightly. "I could hear the rotors, yeah. Peregrine-class chopper. They've got the park surrounded, you know. All main roads closed and a lot of surveillance gear spread out."
The unicorn nodded, looking a touch uncomfortable at that. <You managed to get in.>
"Found a hole. Can't expect to be able to cover something that's over a few million acres in size without a few of them." He winked, then grabbed his pack. "Come on, let's get going. Before they decide to double-check things around here. And believe me, this is one person who wouldn't care to get caught right now."
They walked together through the woods, heading deeper into the park, the sounds of the trees and geysers being the occasional interruption. Finally, the unicorn paused, looking at him closely. <Why?>
"He sighed softly, finding a log to sit on, and motioned for the unicorn to do the same. "Why am I here? Because in some way, this is my home. It's where I was born, you might say."
The unicorn nodded, listening closely. His companion settled down close by, also listening intently to the unusual visitor to their realm. He sighed softly, and looked up at the clouds for a moment.
"Sometimes you get a feeling inside, a need to go somewhere. A homing instinct, you could call it. Mine is here. This is where I came from, where I'll always be a part of. My spirit lives here, you could say. It's a part of me that I can't deny exists.
"I've been wanting to come back, but I didn't get a chance to. Not until now. I've been making my way here for the last year and a half now, leaving what was my home in Alaska to wander down. Once I got closer, I heard a little of what had been happening here, which made it even more important to come down."
He sighed again, shaking his head. "Now that I'm here, I'm realizing I needed to be here sooner. Things are happening in this world, changes occurring outside. This is the only place I know of now where I can feel safe. No matter what, this place remains... it's beauty, it's magic. Always reassuring."
The mention of magic made both of them raise their heads in surprise. "What, you don't think I don't know about magic?" he chuckled softly. "I know quite a bit about magic, friends. Of magic and dreams, of things seen and unseen. I'm not quite as young as I look."
<I know. I can sense that from you.> The unicorn paused, then nickered again. <Much about you that you've left unspoken.>
The human fox nodded. "There's also things about you that we don't understand. Things we wouldn't expect from a normal human."
A soft laugh came from him. "Much I've left unspoken for reasons, my fine furred friends. And I haven't been called normal in any respect in years. But no doubt we'll touch those later on. For now, I think we need to find a place to settle down for the night. If I remember right, there's a nice little camp space about an hour ahead, near the waterfall."
The unicorn nodded. <There is. It's quite lovely, I and my mate enjoy the spot.> He started to trot off with his companion, then turned around. <Yes, I do have a mate. Are you surprised?>
A soft chuckle. "No, actually I'm not." He hefted his pack again, then caught up with the pair. "But I'm glad you're willing to talk and stay with me."
"Well, you have to admit you're quite an interesting puzzle." The human fox grinned slightly. "And one thing I enjoy are puzzles."
The unicorn nickered in agreement. <You need to talk. And I need to know.> He paused, then winked. <By the way, my name is Bob.>
"And I'm called Fox."
"Bob? Fox?" There was a soft chuckle. "Bob the unicorn and Fox the fox. Well, it's better than Frank the Unicorn. Otherwise I would have thought I was in a Phil Yeh comic." He chuckled again, enjoying another look of puzzlement on their faces. "Sorry, very old comic. I'm showing my age again." He shook his head in amusement and grinned. "Most folks generally call me trouble. But you can call me Tal."
Sunset arrived as they were settling down for the night at the spot. It was indeed quite a lovely place, with the water cascading down a cliff creating a soft roar in the air. The ground was warm, making for a comfortable resting place for them all.
They talked a little longer, more like friends chatting about the weather instead of as strangers who had just met hours before. Bob was put at ease by the fact that Tal never took himself seriously, and Fox found Tal both interesting and amusing. A sense of humor and of acceptance that he's rarely encountered.
The darkness descended, everyone finally drifting off to sleep. The soft sounds and gentle breezes felt comforting to all, letting them relax without fear. Fox had shifted into what he called his morphic form, looking like a humanoid fox with the result of Tal making a series of bad puns and jokes. So bad in fact that Bob threatened to skewer him on the spot. Of course Tal ran with that one as well, commenting that it wouldn't be the first time he'd be a shishka-Bob. But after a while the night's rhythms lulled them all to sleep.
Something stirring brought Fox to wakefulness. He looked around, then spied Tal sitting on the ledge looking up at the stars and the moon, nearly full tonight. Standing up, he walked quietly over to where he was, hearing him softly singing to himself. The song was unfamiliar but the words struck a chord in Fox.
"And your day is long And the night The night is yours alone
And you're sure you've had enough Of this life Hang on
Don't let yourself go Because everybody cries And everybody hurts Sometimes...
Fox coughed softly, causing Tal to turn around. "Hi, Fox," he said softly, a sigh escaping his lips. "Did I wake you up?"
"Not really," Fox replied, coming closer. "But it was a little of what I was feeling from you."
"Sorry about that, then," Tal said softly. He turned back to look at the water, taking a small stone and throwing it into the falling drops.
"What's wrong, Tal?" Fox looked worried, feeling the dark emotions coming from Tal. Tal sighed and patted the ground next to him. "I couldn't quite get to sleep. Nights like this, well... it was on a night like this that I became was I am now."
Fox nodded softly and settled down next to Tal. "Want to talk about it with me?" His question made Tal sigh again, this time softer.
"No reason for you not to know, you've already sensed a lot of it." Tal shifted his position, leaning against a rock. "It was on a night much like this one that I became was I am now. Some seventy years ago."
His statement made Fox blink in surprise. "Seventy?"
Tal merely nodded. "Yes. About seventy years ago. Back in 1996, when I was a much younger person, I was living just outside of Yellowstone working on a project to monitor the return of wolves to the park. I was going to be living there about a year, so I invited friends on the 'net who wanted to visit to come on by.
"Two of them did. A young couple from out east, doing a cross-country trip. Mike and Suze, fun folks to be with. Suze was special, though. I could tell it almost at once, there was something really unique about her. "They stayed with me for two days then went off into the park to camp. And it was on a night like this that I found out how unique Suze really was, and how it was going to change my life." Tal sighed again, and took a swig from his canteen.
"They were camped out in a spot like this, enjoying each other's pleasures, and not noticing what was nearby. A cougar, hungry, somewhat mad proceeded to attack them, clawing them both pretty badly. Suze managed to kill it, then get Mike in the car and drove back to my place. And that's when I found out what Suze really was.
"See, she showed up back at my place looking like a fox. Kinda like what you look light right now. A full-sized vixen combining the best of fox and human shapes. She was hurt, but Mike was much worse off. I got him in bed and bandaged up, then went back to where Suze was waiting to hear about what happened. As well as explain to me what she was, which was a shapeshifter."
Fox was taken by surprise at that. "A shapeshifter? But that couldn't have been possible back then. The Circe Treatment..."
Tal shook his head. "It wasn't the Circe Treatment, Fox. I didn't know then and I still don't quite know now, but Suze was able to alter her form at will. She just could.
"It also turned out that her blood ended up mingling with Mike's, causing him to start healing quickly. I realized that because when I checked on him a short time later, his injuries were less severe than before. So I made a pretty good guess that there was something in her blood that caused her to be able to shift forms and that same something was now in Mike's blood. And to test it I had Suze give me a transfusion of her blood."
Tal sighed again, this time deeper. "It's one thing to dream the dream but when the dream becomes reality, the reality can become a nightmare. And living the reality can be troubling and dangerous to one's sanity."
Fox nodded, understanding that feeling Tal was having. "Did it?"
"Not really, no. There were times when I thought it might, when I thought that maybe it was a mistake to have done what I did. Sometimes I'd lay outside and stare at the stars, asking myself if I had made the right choice. I'd never gotten an answer but then I never expected to." He chuckled softly, then winked. "I doubt that the gods would have given me an answer to begin with. Other than 'You tell us.'"
Fox laughed as well, then looked closely at Tal. "So what happened to you? And to the others?"
Tal sighed softly again, remembering those days again with fondness and sadness. "We talked a while, Suze and I. Mostly about her and Mike, their relationship and their love for each other. After a while I could feel something different inside of me, and decided that it was time. That's when I shifted my form into a wolf for the first time. Not just a morphic wolf, but a full wolf form.
"It was strange, but I didn't notice the pain at first. Just the incredible feel of being able to shift blotted everything else out in my mind. Later on I found out the hard way why Suze shifted so little. It hurt a lot to change from one form to another. The body isn't as flexible as one might think, so the pain is there to remind you.
"I tried a variety of shapes after they left, learning how to block most of the pain as well as learning what the physical limits were. Then months later I got a frantic call from Mike telling me Suze had been kidnapped.
"I left as quickly as I could to get to him, but by the time I had gotten to where they were it was too late. She was dying and there wasn't anything we could do about it. But in dying Suze gave Mike a legacy, and we both went off into the wilderness of Alaska to learn to live again."
Tal fell quiet, only the sound of the waterfall filling the air. Just when Fox was about to ask, Tal answered his silent question. "Mike died two years ago. He said he had grown tired of living, and so he decided to leave this world. One night he fell asleep and never woke up. And he and Suze both left, going off into the unknown."
Fox was now confused. "Mike and Suze? You just said she was dead."
"She was, physically. But her spirit still lived with us. Or rather, with me." Tal shuffled his feet, then looked out towards the stars again. "See, when she died, her spirit was set free. And since I was actually closer to her spiritually, she 'lived' inside of me, sharing Mike and myself. And sometimes... sometimes I'd let her share my body, reshaping myself into female form to please Mike."
Again, Fox blinked in surprise from the revelation. "You became female? Fully female?"
Tal looked flushed, then shook his head. Getting to his feet he started back towards the camp. "It's late, I'm tired, and I babble on too long. And we both need to rest, tomorrow's another long hike." He gave Fox a slight smile, almost unconsciously doing so. "We can talk again in the morning.
Morning brought Bob and Fox awake to the sounds of humming and splashing of water. Quickly rising up, he walked over to the stream to find Tal taking a rather cold shower under the waterfall. He stood under the cascading water, then saw them at the bank and waded back.
"Good morning. I hope you both slept well." Tal reached for a towel, rubbing vigorously his head to dry his hair. "I'm sorry for last night's interlude, but my occasional bouts of depression gets the better of me."
<It was no distraction. I did hear you and Fox talking last night. As I've known your thoughts since we saw you a few days ago.> Bob stared at him, noticing the thin lattice of scars across his body. For his part, Tal merely grinned and finished drying himself off, unconcerned that he was being stared at by the two of them.
"Ah, that explains why you already knew so much about me. I don't mind it at all. In fact, I might get you to explain to me how I manage to think at times." Tal grinned, listening to their chuckles. "The marks of my shapeshifting, I'm afraid," nodding down at himself as he read the unicorn's thoughts. "Particularly in changing the entire body, it leaves some markings to remind me of the cost." He flung the towel over his shoulder and walked up to where they waited. "And a reminder of the price I pay every time I do shift forms."
"Then why did you do it?" Fox walked alongside Tal, learning more about how unusual and unique he really was. His ability to understand shapeshifting, for example, was extremely rare. He discovered he wanted Tal to stay with them, already having reached that conclusion to himself.
Bob nodded at Fox, his thoughts quite private. <He is indeed unique. And he lives in pain even as we speak. He won't admit it, but he is torn between wanting to live and wanting to die. There is so much he could teach us.>
:Can we find a way to keep him with us?:
<Perhaps. But he'll have to admit what's deep inside of him first. Then we can find a way to make him a part of our family.>
"Because." Tal sighed softly, not noticing the brief mental conversation. He rummaged around for some clean clothing, dressing for the day. "It was always my dream to be able to shapeshift, and it's still one of the few pleasures I have. Not that I can use it for much else, more like for surviving in this world. There have been times when folks came too close to learning what I was, and I had to escape."
Bob nodded slowly in response. <Yet you still accept the pain inside yourself in shifting your form?>
"Pain, joy, it's all a part of life. It's something you learn to live with. Otherwise, there is really no point." Tal let out a soft sigh, then shook his head again.
Tal stared at Bob, peering deep into his eyes. "Because it reminds me of who and what I am, always. The pain reminds me that I'm still quite human, that there's always a price to pay for your dreams. And the joy reminds me that there is always something more to look forward to." He broke the stare, and shook his head. "And it reminds me that I have to keep dreaming. That maybe... maybe one day I'll find something more. Something that'll keep me believing in myself."
Neither Fox or Bob had an answer for that. They both looked down at the ground, taken from the words that came from Tal. Tal managed to give them both a soft smile, then surprised them by giving them a light snug. They didn't pull away, but were taken in by his show of affection. "It's too good a day to be depressing the two of you. So how about we get back on the trail?"
For a while they walked along in silence, Tal munching on trail mix and offering Fox some while Bob nibbled on grasses. Finally Bob broke the silence as they walked through an open meadow.
<Did you like being female?>
Tal blinked for a moment, then chuckled softly. "Forgot you said you read my mind there. And I kinda thought you might have forgotten that." He gave Bob a smile, nodding slightly. "At first it was odd, being female but not really being in control of your own body. Suze was in 'front' during those first few times, and I was merely along for the ride. But I could feel every bit of what was happening, and it was very different. Odd, but not at all really uncomfortable.
"After a while it became habit with us, Suze sharing herself between Mike and myself. Sometimes Mike would be female, and I'd give myself to her, but usually I was the one who became female. Suze claimed privately that it was because I could understand being female better, whatever that meant. All I did know was that it was enjoyable. I still liked being male, but I could appreciate being female as well."
Fox listened closely, his thoughts swirling at Tal's confessions. "But when Mike died?"
A soft sigh came from Tal. "When Mike died, Suze went with him. They both said it wasn't my time, gave me their love and left. Since then I drifted about aimlessly until I felt the need to come here. Long before you were even who you are now."
<How could you have known we were going to be here?> Bob swished his tail again, the gentle pace of walking lulling everyone into a sense of security.
"I don't know." Tal shrugged his shoulders. "How does a bird know to fly south for the winter? All I know was that I 'needed' to be here. As I said, I was born here in a sense. It's my home as well as yours now. And you're one of the few who have ever welcomed me."
Fox and Bob both nodded in agreement. "We were curious and wary about you at first, Tal. But since we've been travelling, we both have decided that you're more than welcomed to stay with us. You've been true and honest with us, and that's a rare quality to find. And Bob thinks you have more to offer."
Tal smiled at that. "Thank you. I just hope..."
A sound made everyone suddenly stop, looking around. There was a stillness in the air, with Fox and Bob vanishing into the woods like mists. Tal blinked at the sudden feeling of 'alone' when a shot rang out, glancing off a tree. "SHIT!" He took off at a hard sprint, heading into deeper woods as gunfire erupted behind him. ::Damned helicopter must have spotted us,:: Tal thought to himself.
He swerved through the brush and trees, hearing the shouts of men behind him along with the roar of a jeep. Swearing steadily, he kept up the run, hoping that Fox and Bob both managed to escape.
His own survival was now essential. Blood roared in his ears as he jumped fallen trees, dove through bushes and tried to shake his pursuers. Just when he thought he might have succeeded in escaping, another shot rang out, combined with a lancing pain in his leg. He crumpled down to the ground, clutching at the calf where a bullet hole was now visible.
Three troopers came running out of the bush, weapons loaded and aimed at him. "There he is," one trooper growled. "About time we managed to get one of those escapees."
"Grab him," one the other trooper shot back. "Major's going to want to have a word with this one." They reached down to grab Tal's arm, when he suddenly lashed out, long claws raking one trooper across the face. He dropped his gun screaming in pain, making the others suddenly take aim at Tal.
"You're dead meat now, whatever you are," the second trooper shouted. He started to pull the trigger when Fox suddenly appeared out of nowhere, knocking the trooper off balance. Bob materialized in front of the troopers, a dark glint in his eyes. His horn glowed for a moment. Suddenly the troopers groaned, their bodies quickly reshaping into a trio of deer that disappeared into the woods.
Tal got to his feet, groaning in pain. "Damn, I'm getting too old for this." He looked over at Bob, then at the tails of the disappearing deer. "Was that the troopers?"
<Yes.> Bob nickered softly, then looked down at Tal's leg. Already the wound was starting to heal, but it would take a few minutes longer. <You able to walk?>
"Yeah." Tal got to his feet, the 'claws' slowly vanishing into his fingers. "We'd better get out of here before someone sends the rest after us."
Fox chuckled softly. "Don't think you'll have to worry about that." He looked at Tal's wound, then stood up. "Let me give you a hand at least partially." Tal grunted, and placed one arm around Fox's shoulder. They headed off slowly at first as the frantic shouts behind them faded, Bob's magic reaching them and turning them into deer and elk. The sounds of the forest returned, covering the trio's slow walk into the deepening gloom.
Two evenings later found them at the edge of a small valley, where Bob said that they had set up their own place. <Home,> Bob said quietly. Tal nodded, looking at the valley in the bright moonlight. "Reminds me of my old place years ago." He sighed softly, looking at Bob and Fox again. "Where all of this began."
"It doesn't have to end, Tal." Fox crouched down to stare at him, fearing that Tal had reached a decision.
Tal shook his head slowly. "Fox, what else is there for me? I'm old, and I have little to contribute. I'm living a nightmare, not a dream. I can't keep going on this way."
His companions both snorted loudly. <That's not true at all,> Bob shot at him, and Fox nodded in agreement. "For one thing, you know more about shapeshifting, and that's something I need to learn more about. Look at me, Tal!" he nearly shouted, making Tal's head jerk in surprise. His form blurred, becoming a full fox morphic with his tails fanning behind him. "I'm a nine-tail and I have no idea what that means! But you do!"
<Fox is right, Tal.> Bob moved closer, bumping his muzzle against his side. <You have much more to offer to us, and to others who will come along. You're special, and we don't want to lose you. Stay with us.>
Tal shook his head again. "I came here looking for release, Bob. I'm realizing that." He sighed deeply, closing his eyes. "I don't know if I can keep going."
<You can. You know deep inside that you need this. Your dreams made real. I know what you wish most of all, and I can make it real for you.>
Tal sat there silently, digesting Bob's words. Fox looked over at Bob, and raised a questioning eyebrow. :What is it he wants?:
<What you also have wished for. Someone to show you what it's like. A guide. A teacher. A companion.>
Fox looked suspiciously at Bob, then shook his head. :You know what's best for him.:
<What's best for us all.> Bob nodded, then nudged Tal again. <Tal?>
There was a soft sigh, then Tal opened his eyes again. They were moist with tears, tears of mingled sadness and joy. "I'll... I'll be ok. I just haven't felt needed in... well, in a very long time now. It's just a little hard for me to accept it."
Both Fox and Bob settled down next to him, waiting patiently. "Tal, I would welcome you here however you wanted to be. And you know Bob can make you into that, make you into whatever you wished most in your heart."
A soft sigh escaped Tal's throat. "What I want? All I want is the pain to end. I want to be able to dream again. To know that there is someone who cares."
<We care.> Bob looked up into Tal's eyes, still waiting patiently. <I care. I also know that there is more you want, Tal. I know what you truly desire most, and I can grant that to you. As long as you want it in your heart.>
Tal sighed again, but this one was deeper, more a sound of release. He closed his eyes again, murmuring softly to himself, then opened them once more. An odd clarity was visible in them, as if the doubts and fears were suddenly gone. "Do it," he said softly, almost too softly to be heard.
Lightly Bob touched his horn to Tal's chest. There was a shimmering, then Tal let out a soft moan as the magic took ahold of him, his body reshaping. His face became fox-like, ears moving up and taking on points, a thin muzzle pushing out from his face. A light red fur covered his body quickly, and behind him a tail formed, followed by another and another until nine tails twitched in the air. His voice changed, becoming softer, his body becoming sleek and sensual. Across his chest a pair of breasts formed, while deeper changes occurred within.
Bob and Fox both stepped back, looking at the female kitsune sitting before him. Fox in particular wore an expression of surprise and... interest. He didn't know what Bob had planned, and looked back at the unicorn. :This was his choice?:
<Yes. Wait.> They both turned back to look at Tal, hearing a soft sigh escaping.
Tal blinked in surprise, thoughts swirling around in confusion from the sudden changes in feeling. Finally they cleared, and a soft giggle came out sounding quite feminine. The new kitsune looked slowly at herself in the moonlight, exploring the changes that had occurred. She raised her head and stared at Bob in surprise and delight. "How did... why?"
Bob shook his head. <This is the form you wanted most. You wanted to remain a shapechanger, so you will always be one. But also you wished to be female, so I made you that way as well.> There was a hint of pride in Bob's thoughts, so much that it made Tal giggle again. Then Tal turned to Fox, catching the expression on his face. "What's wrong?"
"I didn't expect. . ." Fox gave a slow grin, looking up and down at Tal. For her part, Tal grinned back, striking a foxy pose for him. "I have to admit I didn't expect Bob to do that to you."
Bob nickered softly in amusement. <You wanted a teacher, Fox. But you also wanted a companion as well, perhaps even a mate. Tal wished to remain what she was. She can teach you more as she is now than any other way.>
"Still, you could have warned me." Fox growled at Bob, then shook his head. "Ah, who am I kidding? I've wanted someone like myself just as much as anyone else." He laughed, then grinned at the vixen. "Bob sure does a good job when he wants to, though."
Tal winked at Fox, then shook her body. She transformed effortlessly into a morphic vixen with nine tails behind her, amazed at the ease with which she changed. She crouched down to the ground, then let out a soft sigh as a glow surrounded her form, instinctively letting herself join with the land.
"Whoa... that was a rush." She stood back up, her eyes bright with emotion. "This feels so... wonderful. It's the only words I can use for it right now." She let out a peal of laughter, then hugged Bob around the neck before wrapping her arms around Fox and planting a rather warm kiss on his lips.
Fox looked quite surprised at first, then his own arms surrounded Tal, holding her close against him. There was a momentary glow about their forms, then Fox grinned. "Aren't you rushing things a little?"
Tal laughed softly, looking very much the coy vixen now. "Ah, perhaps I am. I do need to get used to this first." She fluffed her tails, then sighed in delight. "Although I can't complain any more."
"You think I'm going to complain?" Fox snickered softly, then both looked over at Bob. "Thank you," they said simultaneously.
Bob nickered softly, then winked. <You're welcome. Now, shall we go? My mate is waiting, and I need to teach the foal.>
With that, the trio slowly headed down the trail, the two kitsune managing to twine a tail together as they headed into the valley... and into the future.
Full Circle copyright 1996 by Tal Greywolf.
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