Tatum always did the driving on their nights, but she supposed it was fine. Occasionally she’d feel bad using up her parents’ gas, but the thought never seemed to stay in her mind very long. Plus, she knew Lassiter wasn’t going to be able to drive around herself any time soon. So she was cool with whatever. So long as they got to keep hanging out together.
Reaching their special place out in a small clearing off the cemetery, the girls hurried out of the car and raced each other toward the small park, carrying a few things with them that they’d need later.
Feeling playful, Tatum maneuvered the huge blanket she was carrying into one arm before stretching her free hand out, barely snagging a handful of Lassiter’s long hair. The other girl yelped, jerking to a stop and reaching for the back of her head. Tatum had to side step in order to avoid slamming into Lassiter’s back as she continued on, giggling at the grumbling her friend commenced with. And the best part was no paybacks–her own chestnut-y hair was nice and short.
After reaching their ‘spot,’ a little grassy hill right in the middle of the park, with nothing but a small merry-go-round to block their view of the trees, the two girls set down their things. Tatum snapped out the blanket and settled it down while Lassiter set a small cooler and speaker next to it. She started the music, paused a moment, then went over to the merry-go-round.
Confused, Tatum watched her as she sat on the cold metal and kicked at the dirt, slowly making the toy spin. As she made it back to the starting point again, Lassiter smirked at Tatum with a “get over here” look on her face. Not about to turn down that offer, Tatum hurried over and sat opposite of her friend, kicking at the ground as well to make the toy spin as fast as they could get it.
When it felt like they’d be flung off, Lassiter grabbed the back of Tatum’s hood and yanked her down. With their heads next to each other, they leaned back on the dusty metal merry-go-round and looked up at the sky. It was a cool night, almost officially winter, but the sky was clear and, out here, the stars were easy to see without city lights ruining things. Lassiter sighed in contentment.
Normally they sat on the blanket, drank some sodas and listened to music. Occasionally they’d talk a bit, but this was normally their quiet, enjoying-each-other’s-company time. They had plenty of time for talking during the day, after all. And then they’d go for a run through the small forest nearby–neither of them could resist the feel of branches brushing them as they ran swiftly past, or how the wind would seem to push them along.
Lassiter had been the one to introduce Tatum to this. In fact, if it weren’t for Lass, Tatum assumed she’d just waste the majority of her nights still sleeping, like she did before. Glory, if she hadn’t decided to start a screaming match with her French teacher, she’d have never even met Lassiter. After-school behavioral lessons probably wasn’t the best (or smartest) place to make friends, but then again, Lassiter was now her best friend. And they didn’t do anything illegal. That had to count for something, right?
Peering over, Tatum sat up on her elbows to look at her friend. Lassiter had her eyes gently closed, a small smile on her lips as she just relaxed, enjoying the slow spin of the merry-go-round and the cool temperature of the night. It was rare to see her so calm, but it was only these late night romps that let the girl have this peace. Tatum toyed with long strands of inky black hair as she considered this.
Her life was–had been–boring, to say the least. Lassiter had given her another realm to explore. Upon reaching puberty she’d lost many of her young friends, and then going to a new school with no one she knew hadn’t helped, either. Tatum still had few people she could call friends, even now that she was in high school. She counted it as a blessing to have met Lassiter. Lass knew what it was like to change and have no one around you to compare to. Even Tatum’s parents didn’t understand that, not the same way Tatum did. Not the same as Lassiter.
Lassiter opened one eye and watched Tatum playing with her hair. Tatum had confided as much in her friend; she knew exactly what their relationship meant to Tatum. The brunette didn’t know, exactly, how Lassiter saw it all, though. She was a bit mysterious, sometimes. Not secretive, really; Tatum didn’t ask, Lassiter didn’t offer. Tatum knew she would if she wanted to, and didn’t want to push her friend.
They’d been sitting on the toy so long that it had long since gone still. Finally clearing her throat, Tatum stood and stretched. She hopped off the merry-go-round, making it wobble as she did so, and wandered over to the cooler for a drink. Lassiter sat up and watched her as she bent and grabbed two cans, catching one as it was tossed to her. Both drank deeply, enjoying the cool fizziness going down their throats.
Letting out a small gasp as she finished, Tatum set her can down and looked to Lassiter, who was watching her friend in anticipation. Tatum slowly began to remove her zipper jacket, anticipating the cool air hitting her skin. As she reached down and began on her jeans, she met eyes with Lassiter again and simply asked, “Ready?”
Needing no further invitation, Lassiter started to remove her own clothes, as well. When the two of them were in nothing but bras and underwear (underwear and a tank top in Lassiter’s case), they met at the edge of the blanket closest to the merry-go-round they’d just abandoned.
Tatum smiled up at Lassiter, and the taller girl playfully ruffled her friend’s hair as they both turned to face the trees. Needing no countdown, the two were off at a brisk pace. And as they reached the trees, they changed.
At the last second Tatum yanked off her bra and panties so they wouldn’t be ruined, but Lassiter had no such inhibitions about her underclothes. As she changed, her growing, stretching body ripped them from her, powerful hind legs smashing them into the dead leaves on the ground. This was always how she got a head start, but Tatum wasn’t about to ruin her clothes. Her parents didn’t need to know what she was doing (or possibly doing) late at night.
Leaping the last bit past the tree line, Tatum changed, as well. Her legs morphed and angled, spine extending down and outward from her body, face elongating and pulling. It had, at first, been a painful process to change, but as time and practice added up it was as easy as breathing. The caffeine from the soda helped a little. Her hair grew and covered her body in soft chestnut-colored fur, and in the suddenly much-clearer darkness she made out Lassiter’s shaggy-haired form gaining distance.
Tatum kept her hair short for this very reason. Lassiter always ended up with all kinds of everything matted and stuck in her fur. Her hair was beautiful in its long curtain of black, but once she changed it seemed like too much of a hassle. Then again, it just gave her an excuse to comb through it again.
Panting already in excitement, Tatum tore after her. While Lassiter always got ahead of her, Tatum made up for it in speed. Or Lass was taking it easy on her and going slow, but she doubted that.
It only took a few minutes to find her friend on their typical ‘path,’ and she nudged into her side as she came across her, yipping. Lassiter snorted back at her and picked up the speed a little–ooh, maybe she did take it easy on Tatum…
They barreled through the forest for nearly an hour, their changed forms not tiring as easily as human bodies would. Finally they came to their second spot for the evening: a little cliff sitting above the Kippy River. It had a gorgeous view of the town in the distance and the stars up above, light seeming to be twinkling all around them.
They came to a panting stop on the edge of the cliff, sitting back on their haunches. Tatum stared off at the town, back home, while Lassiter looked up at the sky and the sliver of moon showing through the few clouds there. The shaggy black changeling howled up at it, like a wolf in an old film, and Tatum barked a laugh as she nudged her friend again. They didn’t need anyone knowing they were up here.
Lassiter continued to stare longingly up at the sky, and Tatum knew, much as her friend knew how Tatum felt about them, that Lass would give anything to stay changed all the time. She was free this way, able to do as she pleased. It was always a challenge to change back and return home after their nights. Tatum thought that Lassiter should have been born changed from the start rather than human; it suited her. Lassiter felt much the same way, but she couldn’t just change and stay that way. There were rules.
Huffing, Tatum leaned over and licked sloppily at Lassiter’s cheek. Cheer up!
Lass jerked out of her thoughts, raising a paw to rub at her face. Gray eyes looked down at Tatum, not amused, and in her puppy manner Tatum simply looked back up, tongue lolling out and smiling as best she could in this form. Tatum could spot the smile in her eyes at this point in their relationship.
Letting loose a short bark, Tatum stood and shook before turning back to the trees again, wagging her tail expectantly. As much fun as she had on their nights, tomorrow she had a couple of tests, and she didn’t relish the idea of dozing off during them.
Lassiter sniffed before standing and shaking herself, and without another word she took off into the woods, Tatum on her heels.
The realization of not being able to stay as they were seemed to be weighing more heavily than usual on Lassiter’s mind. Tatum wanted to cheer her friend up, deciding to play a game on the way back.
Slowing only slightly to be near Lassiter’s rear flanks, Tatum quickly sniped out her maw and nipped her friend’s tail. Much as it had earlier with her hair, her trick had Lassiter yelping and halting, throwing a look Tatum’s way that clearly said she thought the smaller girl was crazy. Stopping only briefly to turn back and yip happily, Tatum continued on, taunting and daring her friend to catch her. And Lassiter never backed down from a challenge.
It took Lassiter little time to reach Tatum, but the smaller girl jumped out of the way at the last second before teeth could snatch her own tail. Tatum could see the light of the pole from the park coming up, and she almost reached the treeline–
Lassiter leaped at and grabbed Tatum just as they cleared the trees, both suddenly very human again, laughing and huffing and puffing. They rolled briefly, coming to a stop just shy of the merry-go-round. Resting side by side, both had huge grins on their faces and they looked each other in the eye.
Tatum had totally won. Grabbing as a human didn’t count. And Lassiter knew it.
Conceding silently, Lassiter sighed, finally getting her breathing under control. She closed her eyes and stretched her arms up and away from her body, nudging Tatum’s head with her own. Her own form of thanks. Tatum responded in kind.
The girls stayed that way for awhile before finally getting up, Tatum snagging her undergarments and Lassiter the remains of her own. They met at the blanket and pulled on their clothes before Tatum set to doing one of her favorite parts of the night; running her hands through Lassiter’s hair, getting all kinds of twigs, leaves, etc. from it. It was her own soothing therapy, combing through the tangles, pulling out a stray clod of dirt.
Lassiter almost seemed to fall asleep during these times, and Tatum wasn’t sure if she was simply winded from the run or if it relaxed her that much. Either way, Tatum felt giddy knowing her friend felt so relaxed with her.
Their night came to an end far too soon for either of their liking, but they knew they couldn’t stay any longer. They wouldn’t wake up in time for school tomorrow if they didn’t.
As they sat side by side in the car, driving to Lassiter’s grandpa’s, Tatum yawned, a sleepy smile on her face. She wished times like these could just last forever. She had no idea what the future held for her, or Lassiter, but she hoped that they’d still be together for a long time. She glanced over, about to say something, when she saw Lassiter dozing in her seat, snoring softly and leaning against the door. Her breath misted on the window, and the light from street lamps briefly and intermittently lit her softened features.
Tatum couldn’t keep the huge smile from splitting her face at the adorable scene. Glancing again at the road, she quickly leaned over and pecked Lassiter’s temple, giggling quietly at how bold she felt and her friend’s sleepy muttering.
She sorely hoped that they’d always have their nights, even if they were old and gray. She wouldn’t give this up for the world.
Inspired by this. 🙂