In the morning Mike stepped out into the living room, took a look around, inhaled, and gasped, holding his nose.
“Harvey!” he thundered. “You little shit! What the hell have you done? Jeez, that smells bad.”
Harvey sat beside the door, glaring up at him to open it, and Mike did just that, seeming all too happy to be rid of him. Harvey sauntered out, tail held high, his pride at least partially restored by the spraying.
He returned to the dumpster, changed back, and pulled on his clothes quickly in case anyone passed by. He went home and immediately dived into the shower, hating the smell of the dumpster that permeated his clothes and transferred itself to his skin.
As he got dressed, he found himself mulling everything over. Now that he was in human form again, his thought processes were less clear than they had been the previous night. When he took his soul animal form, everything was so simple: he wanted Mike, and Mike was his, so therefore he should have him and anything else, like naked men getting in his way, was intolerable. Now that he was human again, he could see all the problems inherent in his situation. He worked with Mike, and also, Mike didn’t know he could turn into his soul animal form - something he’d hardly be able to avoid sharing with a potential mate. It was easy enough when your relationships were the fly-by-night affairs that Harvey had indulged in up until now, but not when you wanted to move someone in with you.
Harvey hesitated while tying his tie. Move in with him? Did he really want Mike in his life in that way? The cat that walked by himself huffed away angrily inside at the very thought, but the kitty who had curled up on Mike’s pillows purring knew the truth. He was now completely tamed. There was no point fighting it anymore. He’d know no peace until he could sleep next to Mike every single night. It was what he wanted, what he needed, and what he had to have. He would have no rest until then, and he was a cat, damn it, so his rest was important to him.
Harvey was particularly mean to Mike at work for the next few days, to punish him for having tamed him and forcing this dilemma on him. He hissed at him viciously, set Mike tedious tasks to perform in unrealistic timeframes, and then sulked in his office, preening his hair occasionally in distress. He refused to go to Mike’s apartment in the evenings, and spent several lonely nights lying at the end of his own bed in cat form, over-grooming his paws.
After chewing Mike out in front of the entire office a few days later, he felt so guilty that he knew he couldn’t continue like this. The feelings weren’t going anywhere. The cat that walked by himself now wanted to walk with someone by his side, and he had to just face up to that. Whether that person wanted to walk with him was another matter, and he dreaded finding out the answer to that. Supposing Mike wasn’t interested in a relationship with him? It was hard to believe but entirely possible, and Harvey didn’t cope well with rejection.
He crept back to Mike’s apartment with his tail between his legs that evening. Would Mike even let him in after the whole spraying incident? He wasn’t sure. When Mike opened the door he looked down on Harvey with a sigh.
“You’re back then, are you? Are you still in a bad mood? Because let me tell you I am in no mood to put up with another one of your hissy fits. I’ve had a really bad day.”
Harvey gave an apologetic meow that sounded sweet to his own ears and must have sounded the same to Mike’s as well, because Mike sighed again and then held the door open for Harvey to walk through.
“And I mean a really bad day, so don’t even think of spraying anywhere,” Mike warned. “I was late for work cleaning that up last time it happened, and my boss yelled at me. Then he yelled at me again today, even worse, and in front of everyone, too. He’s in a permanently bad mood these days, just like you.”
Mike sat down on the sofa, and Harvey crept onto his lap and rubbed his head apologetically on Mike’s chin, surreptitiously scent-marking him at the same time, because he just couldn’t help himself.
“I hate Harvey,” Mike said suddenly. Harvey gave a little growl. “Oh, not you, Harvey.” Mike smiled and rubbed his ears, and he relaxed again. “I hate the Harvey I work with. He’s such an asshole.” Mike leaned back and gave another big sigh. “He really is a total asshole, so why the hell can’t I leave him?” he asked plaintively. Harvey’s ears pricked up. “That guy you saw me with the other night? Greg?” Mike continued. Harvey gave a little hiss. “Yes, yes, I know, you didn’t like him.” Mike stroked Harvey’s fur soothingly. “But the thing is, I didn’t like him that much, either. He was a shit. He was just some arrogant banker I picked up in a bar… and here’s the worst part. D’you know why I picked him up?” Harvey purred encouragingly, blinking at Mike to tell him. “I picked him up because he looked like Harvey. Not just physically - he also had that sleek, shiny confidence, the Harvey Specter arrogance, but without any of that sweet Harvey charm, the good guy he tries so hard to hide under all the swagger. Oh shit, Harvey-kitty.” Mike buried his face in Harvey’s furry head. “I’m in love with my boss. I’m in love with my boss, and I don’t know what the hell to do about it.”
Harvey froze. Mike was in love with him? This was unexpected. Not unwelcome, and certainly not surprising, given how handsome and gorgeous he was, but all the same, it was unexpected. He had assumed his feelings were one-sided, and hadn’t realized Mike was in love with him. Perhaps he should have thought of this. People fell in love with cats far more frequently than cats fell in love with people, so it was entirely natural.
He felt a sound emanating from his chest, and looked down in amazement to see it positively vibrating from the strength of his purring. He was purring so loudly that it was deafening even to his own ears, and all he could feel was this amazing sense of happiness. Mike loved him. His Mike, this beautiful, rare creature with the soul in the form of a human, loved him.
He was so ecstatic that he couldn’t think straight for the next few hours. He could only purr, lost in the delicious joy of his own feelings. He kneaded Mike’s tee shirt with his paws, offered his chin for strokes, and generally made a complete idiot of himself in a way that he would have despised if he wasn’t so utterly elated.
Mike seemed happy to skritch him behind the ears and coo to him softly, and they spent a happy few hours that way until finally Mike got up and carried him next door to bed.
Mike got under the sheets in his usual night attire of boxers and tee shirt, and Harvey jumped on the bed and went and sat on Mike’s chest, sprawling out on top of him, his head pressed under Mike’s chin, still purring away happily.
It was dawn when Harvey woke. Now that the initial elation of knowing Mike loved him had worn off, he realised he had a decision to make. He thought about it for a little while, but then, deciding that bold moves were best when catching prey and it was probably the same in love, he changed back into his human form. He was still lying on top of Mike, and now was a large, heavy, naked man lying on top of Mike, not a sleek, considerably lighter cat.
Mike murmured something softly in his sleep, and Harvey wondered whether this might, in fact, be too much of a shock, and perhaps he should change back again - when Mike’s eyes suddenly opened, and it was too late.
“Uhhh… what?” Mike said, in bleary confusion.
“Morning, Mike,” Harvey replied pleasantly.
Mike stared at him for a moment, and then he shoved Harvey off his chest, got to his feet, and grabbed a sheet to cover himself, all in one shocked move.
“You’re wearing boxers and a tee shirt,” Harvey pointed out. “So the sheet thing is stupid.”
“Harvey! I mean… what? Just…what?” Mike scratched his head and gazed around the room, looking adorably confused. “How did you get in here, Harvey?”
“You let me in. Last night,” Harvey replied. He sat up with a sigh and held out his hand. “I should be the one with the sheet.” He gestured to his body. “Naked here.”
Mike dropped the sheet nervously into Harvey’s hand, and planted his fists on his hips. “What do you mean I let you in?” he said. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
“Okay.” Harvey wrapped the sheet around his body, but not before noticing that Mike was checking him out. “This is the part where you’ll gasp, and argue, and accuse me of being insane, but hear me out.” He sat back and gazed up at Mike. “Everyone has a soul in animal form, but only a few families still have the gift of being able to see them. An even fewer amount of families - just a handful - also possess the ability to turn into their soul animal at will. The Specters are one such family.”
“Sorry. What?” Mike frowned. “Uh, Harvey - are you on something?”
“No, and don’t be boring, Mike. Just accept the fact that my soul animal is a cat, and that occasionally that’s what I manifest as.”
“Right.” Mike nodded slowly. “Okay then. I accept that.”
“Also, I’m in love with you, and as you told me last night that you’re in love with me, I want you to move into my apartment and live with me,” Harvey added.
“What? Oh come on!” Mike threw his hands up in the air. “This is ridiculous!”
“Oh, so you’re okay with the ‘I turn into a cat’ thing, but not okay with the ‘I’m in love with you’ part?” Harvey was wounded.
“No! I mean, yes. I mean… you’re in love with me?” Mike sat down on the side of the bed, looking dazed.
“And I can turn into a cat. Yes.” Harvey nodded patiently. “I didn’t mean for this to happen, if it’s any consolation. I was perfectly happy as a feral cat, walking with my tail held high. I was proud of being a cat that walked by himself. Then you just wormed your way into my life, and next thing I knew…” Harvey gave a regretful sigh. “It started out with needing to scent-mark you. Then, embarrassing as this is to admit, I started to want to snuggle with you.” He grimaced. “And next thing I knew, I was in love and wanted to be with you all the time, preferably with the addition of hot sex, although not, obviously, while in my cat form, as that would be creepy.”
“Everyone has soul animals?” Mike mused.
Harvey sighed. They were clearly back to that part again. “Yes, Mike. Everyone’s soul takes animal form, but most people can’t see another’s soul, so most people don’t know that.”
“But you can?” Mike raised an eyebrow.
Harvey nodded. “Yes, I can.”
“What’s mine then?” Mike challenged. “What my soul’s animal form?”
“It’s human,” Harvey told him.
Mike frowned. “You mean my soul looks the same as my corporeal body?”
“Well that’s totally boring!”
“It isn’t. It’s actually unique. I’ve never seen another soul like yours before. Don’t let it go to your head, but you’re very special.”
“But I want to be something interesting, like, I don’t know - a peacock or something!” Mike complained.
Harvey grimaced. “No, you don’t. They’re total show-offs.”
“Well, then, like a badger or a hamster!”
Harvey frowned. “A hamster? Really?”
“Okay, no, not really, but you know, something interesting and exotic.”
“But you are exotic,” Harvey insisted. “Like I said, people with souls shaped in human form are very rare. Apparently, it only happens once in a generation, according to my grandmother, anyway. Although, being a human with a human soul can be both good and bad: according to folklore, you have the capability to do great good or great evil - or even a bit of both. You need a wise guide to ensure you don’t do anything too stupid.” Harvey puffed out his chest proudly.
“And that would be you, would it?” Mike asked.
“Yes. In the words of Hippolyte Taine: I've met many thinkers and many cats, but the wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. You may be smart, but I’m wiser than you, Mike. This should not come as a surprise to you.”
Mike stared at him. “Are we really having this conversation?”
“Apparently.” Harvey shrugged.
“And you really can turn into a cat?”
Harvey sighed. “Clearly you won’t be convinced without proof,” he said, turning into his cat form and promptly disappearing under the folds of the sheet. He fought his way out and emerged, one ear flattened by the sheet, to find Mike gazing at him with eyes as round as saucers. Harvey turned back into his human form again and rubbed his ear absently. “Convinced?”
“Kind of,” Mike croaked.
“Good, because I was thinking - could we have sex now?” Harvey glanced at him hopefully.
“Are we even compatible?” Mike waved his hand at Harvey. “You know, you having the soul in cat form, and me… well, not.”
“We’re still people - we’re still the same species. It’s true that plenty of people end up marrying those with the same animal soul as themselves, but plenty also don’t,” Harvey explained. “I’ve seen a frog marry a vole - which worked surprisingly well, actually. However, some combinations are best avoided. Owls and mice, for example.” He winced. “I’ve seen a few divorces based on that kind of combination, although there is a horrible tendency for attraction, too, that I’ve never really understood,” he added thoughtfully.
“Hmm, interesting. So, if your soul animal is cat and mine is human… does this mean I’ve tamed you?” Mike asked, with an entirely too innocent look on his face.
Harvey glared at him. “Aspanso,” he muttered into the sheet.
“Sorry, Harvey, I didn’t hear that,” Mike said, that sneaky human soul of his beaming out from those pretty blue eyes.
“I said, I suppose so," Harvey said grudgingly. Mike raised an eyebrow. "Okay, yes! You tamed me,” Harvey growled. “Happy now?”
“Yes!” Mike punched the air with his fist. “I tamed the great Harvey Specter! How cool am I?” He did a little happy dance around the room while Harvey rolled his eyes, feeling faintly embarrassed.
“Double the smart - but also double the stupid. I wish my grandmother had warned me about that,” he said mournfully.
Mike stopped dancing and gazed at him, and then suddenly burst out laughing. Harvey waited patiently. Cats didn’t like being laughed at, but he didn’t think, strictly speaking, that Mike was laughing at him, so he resisted the urge to go and wash some part of his anatomy to compensate.
Mike finally finished laughing, and his face became oddly solemn. He sat down on the side of the bed, leaned over, and gently stroked his fingers through Harvey’s hair. Harvey couldn’t help himself; he pushed up into Mike’s hand and rubbed his face against Mike’s stubbly jaw. He had no scent glands in human form, but the instinct was too strong to resist. A second later, he felt a low humming sound resonating deep in his chest.
“Harvey - are you purring?” Mike asked.
Harvey looked down, as astonished as Mike by this new development. “It’s never happened before,” he admitted bashfully. “Hey, don’t stop stroking… under the chin is good, too.”
Mike grinned and stroked under his chin, and then down to his chest, and Harvey sank back on the bed and let Mike kiss his belly - something he’d never, ever allowed anyone to do before.
Mike went lower, edging towards Harvey’s now very hard cock straining up from his impressively big balls.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t get these fixed,” Mike murmured, licking and kissing his way downwards.
“Like I’d have let you.” Harvey grabbed Mike before he got there, turned him, and thumped him down on his back on the bed in one swift, graceful move. Then he straddled Mike’s body, gathered Mike’s arms in his hands, and held them over Mike’s head.
“Hmmm, so you like to top, huh?” Mike grinned up at him.
“Well, duh. Soul of a cat, remember.” Harvey grinned back, and then he leaned forward, captured Mike’s mouth in his own, and kissed him, deeply and soundly. Mike moaned and pressed up against him, and Harvey mewed in pleasure. He really was the cat who’d got the cream, and he intended to enjoy every last taste of it.
Later, as they lay wrapped up in each other’s arms, naked and sated, Harvey kissed Mike’s hair and glanced around the bedroom.
“We’ll take the day off so you can move into my place,” he said.
“Isn’t that a bit quick? We only just started sleeping together,” Mike pointed out.
“Well, I’m not travelling over here whenever I want my chin stroked, so yes, you’re moving in.”
Mike rolled his eyes. “You really are incredibly bossy.”
“Hello - cat!” Harvey reminded him again, with a little squeeze. “I’m not moving in here. I don’t like the neighbourhood. There’s a particularly vicious tabby living just down the block.” Harvey grimaced.
Mike gave an amused gurgle. “Was he the cat you were running away from that first night you visited me?”
Harvey glared at him. “I wasn’t running away - it was a strategic retreat. I’m sure I could beat him in a fair fight if he didn’t have the ginger brothers for backup, but I have my ears to think about. You won’t love me if they get tattered and torn.”
“Oh, I think I’ll love you even when your fur is old and grey, and your whiskers have fallen out.” Mike laughed. “But cats aren’t exactly known for being faithful,” Mike added, in a worried tone. “Do I have anything to worry about there, Harvey?”
“That’s just a rumour spread by dog people,” Harvey told him. “We’re very faithful to the people who love us, so you don’t need to worry about that. Besides, I don’t just roll over and let anyone pet my belly, you know. You’re the first, last and only one who ever gets to do that.”
“I’m glad to hear it.” Mike stroked his fingers gently over Harvey’s naked stomach. “You’re not going to scratch me for doing this, are you?”
“Not today. I do reserve that right in future, though, depending on my mood. Also, I am very definitely an only cat. I don’t share you with anyone, and if I ever find a naked person in your bed again, I will sink my claws into them - and you,” Harvey warned.
“Understood!” Mike grinned and leaned up for another kiss. “Although I don’t think you have anything to worry about there, Harvey.”
Harvey smiled and hugged him close.
He wasn’t a cat that walked by himself anymore, but he found he didn’t mind that, after all.
Mike Ross stretched out contentedly. It had been a whirlwind few weeks, but he was extremely happy to be living with his lover in Harvey’s sun-filled apartment.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining through the window onto the sofa where Mike was lying on his back, with Harvey stretched out in cat form on his chest, purring his head off. Mike stroked him lazily, enjoying the feel of Harvey’s sleek black fur under his fingers.
One thing that Grandma Specter hadn’t known, because they were so rare, was that all people with souls in human form could see the animal souls of others. Mike was a cat person, and he’d pretty much fallen in love with Harvey’s handsome feline soul the minute he first met him.
Harvey shifted contentedly, and Mike skritched him under the chin. It had taken him awhile to tame this beautiful creature, but it had been worth it. At first, he’d despaired of ever winning Harvey’s love, but he’d been patient. He’d enticed Harvey in with the promise of adoration and attention, had admired Harvey’s sleek exterior and fine mind while entertaining him with his own brilliance, and had done his best to be easy to be around, providing a quiet lap to sit on, and a willing hand to stroke.
He’d been excited and amazed when Harvey had first shown up at his apartment in his cat form. It was rare to meet anyone who could change into their soul animal, but that just confirmed to Mike how very special Harvey was. Despite his excitement, he’d forced himself to take it slow, not wanting to spook his feline visitor.
After a few weeks, when it became clear he’d succeeded in half taming Harvey, Mike had decided to move things along a little. Picking up Greg had been a good idea - a jealous Harvey was a sight to behold indeed, even if it had taken Mike a good hour to clean the stink from his apartment. After that, it had only been a matter of time.
Cats might be cunning, but humans are the most devious animals of all, and Mike’s soul animal was a true reflection of his soul. Mike knew you couldn’t force a cat love you. You had to be patient, wait for them to think it was their idea, and let them come to you…
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One reason we admire cats is for their proficiency in one-upmanship. They always seem to come out on top, no matter what they are doing, or pretend they do.
If a cat did not put a firm paw down now and then,
how could his human remain possessed?
Way down deep, we're all motivated by the same urges.
Cats have the courage to live by them.
As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat.
Ellen Perry Berkeley