40th Saun, 719
Kirei opened her eyes slowly. She could tell that something was wrong the trill she awoke, but it took her several bits to figure out what. She was a caracal. It hadn't been a dream. Kirei fumbled her way to her paws, and just stood for several trills, trying to get used to the feel of standing on four paws instead of two legs. Then instinct kicked in, and Kirei gave in to its pull gladly. It made even the most basic things like standing and walking easier to manage. Kirei paused. Who was she kidding? The instincts of her new form made it possible for her to move around, never mind making it easier to manage. She knew...or hoped...that she would get the hang of it sooner or later, but there was definitely a learning curve involved.
From her bed, she could hear her family getting up and going about their morning rituals. Aiden was singing softly as he fed Ru. That made Kirei flinch with guilt. Normally, she would be the one who fed her daughter, but that was clearly impossible now. What would Hart think of the situation if he knew that she was unable to care for their daughter without Aiden's help? Would he try to take Ruari away from her? Was it selfish of her to hope that Hart would never find out so she wouldn't lose her daughter? Probably. Hart was Ru's father, after all. Aiden loved the little girl as if he was her father, but they both knew that he could never replace her real father. Nor would Aiden want to try.
Nothing was going to be accomplished if Kirei didn't get up, so she did, jumping down from the bed with ease since she let her body's instincts take over. She made her way into Aiden's room, and stood in the doorway, watching Aiden finish feeding Ru. He smiled when he noticed her presence. Then he frowned.
"So it looks like you didn't change back overnight." he said slowly.
Kirei growled softly in frustration.
"It's a good thing that I told your boss that you were...not well, and that you wouldn't be able to come in to work for a while."
Kirei growled again, then mewed in agreement. It had been Aiden's idea to tell Trudi that she had suffered a severe shock, and an emotional breakdown of sorts after seeing someone from her past. He'd told her that it had left Kirei deeply shaken, and terrified to go out among crowds of people, or deal with anyone outside her family. Originally, the plan had been for to take time off from work until she "recovered," but one of the other chefs had mentioned that they were short a hunter since one of the people who provided Cally's with wild game was injured. Aiden had taken it upon himself to offer Kirei's services in that area since hunting could be done without being forced to deal with people. Anything that Kirei caught would be brought to the restaurant by one of Kirei's family members, and she would be paid according to what she provided them with rather than as a chef until she recovered from her "trauma."
It was a decent cover story, and Kirei suspected that it wasn't entirely a lie. She had had a lot of time to think over the past couple of days, and she felt that it was awfully suspicious that she had changed into her current form trills after wishing desperately that she was a better person...one who was less selfish than she was. It had essentially been a wish to be someone other than who she was...and it had come true. Sort of. Kirei couldn't be completely certain, but she suspected that this was one of the abilities she had because she was Karem's daughter. If so, it was a good one to have...if she could just figure out how to turn herself back!
Kirei watched Aiden tend to Ru's needs for a few more bits before heading into the kitchen to make breakfast. When she reached the kitchen, she froze at the sight of her three youngest adopted children cleaning up the dishes. Had she overslept?! Just how selfish could she be? What kind of mother would ignore her own kids' needs like that? Kirei hissed when she realized where her thoughts were going. How exactly was she going to be able to make breakfast the way she was now? If she could do that, then she could go into work! Kirei hissed in frustration, making the kids jump.
"You're still a cat." Ryl said, pointing out the obvious.
"She's not a cat, Ryl. Aiden said that she's a caracal, remember? There's a big difference." Eris told her younger sister.
"You and I thought she was a cat too, until Aiden told us the difference." Aerin pointed out fairly.
Eris stuck her tongue at her. Ryl laughed, and called her sister a silly head.
If Kirei could have laughed at the exchange, she would have. Instead, she purred with amusement, making all three girls giggle. They finished cleaning up, and Kirei stood back, watching them. She felt bad about not jumping in to help, but in her current predicament, she would only make things worse.
Kirei jumped, and whirled around to see Tauriel standing behind her.
The three arc old girl raced over, and hugged Kirei's legs tightly. Kirei purred as hard as she could, hoping that Tauriel would see it as the hug she wanted to give her, and couldn't.
"Mommy Kitty play?" Tauriel asked hopefully.
Kirei hesitated. She wanted to. She really did. But if she wanted to keep her job at Cally's while she was stuck as a caracal, then she was going to have to hunt for them. And she had no idea how to go about doing that, so she was going to need all the time she could get to figure it out.
"Mommy Kitty has to work, Tauriel. She has to go hunting." Aiden told her.
"Mommy Kitty can't play, but we'll play with you." Aerin promised.
Kirei purred her thanks to Aiden and Aerin. Then she went over to stand by the door, hoping that someone would realize that she needed to go outside. Aiden followed her to the door, and opened it for her.
"Good luck, Kirei. When you're ready to come back in...hmm. You won't be able to fit through the cat flap we have on the door, will you? Well, we'll just have to keep an eye out for when you return. Hopefully, you won't have to wait outside for too long before someone sees you."
It wasn't the best solution, but it was the only one they had just now. Kirei mewed in acknowledgement, then headed off towards the woods.