sing a little sunshine song

North Glenn 
outfit and a hiking bag

 The weather was finicky, as spring time tended to be, but it could be worse. It was good enough, at any rate, to trek up the side of a mountain on some trail less trodden with her boyfriend and find a little place to get catty. It was a good activity, generally calm, mostly safe, and hopefully far away from other people, particularly the human and undead type.

 The path was narrow, but not so much so that they could not walk side by side, and of course Isolde would not go without interlacing her fingers between Charlie's as long as was appropriate. As long as the path was steady, there she would be, and her beast would be all but plastered to Timeshare's side as well, aware of the promise of freedom and a little more anxious for it.

 "This is nice," she remarked, after some gentle conversation, trying to keep it together until they got to whatever destination they sought. "Thanks for coming with me."


It really was nice. Even with what they were planning to do--planning a shift was still something he had yet to really embrace--he felt unreasonably happy. Just being here, with her... "Oh please, you know that I would just been bummed out if I found out later you'd gone hiking without me." Cat-intention or not, he was a hiking sort of man. Not as much as he had been--he'd had less and less need for adrenaline that came with mountain biking in his life too. But still...

He used their interlaced hands to reach back and tap her butt with his knuckles, intentionally stepping his steps a bit in towards her, to disrupt her casual path along the trail.

 Isolde grinned for his response, side-eyeing him playfully, thinking about some remark about how she'd have to glue him to her side. As much as she loved him, that seemed unpleasant, and anyway she would be distracted by the knuckles bouncing off her flank as he steered them off the dirt and towards the brush. "Hey!" she protested, but without malice, leaning her weight sharply into him in an attempt to keep from tilting off into the treeline. "Not yet!" And her other hand would dive towards his body, hoping to find that sweet spot of ticklishness in a cheap bid for victory.

She didn't quite managed to snag the spot, but he knew what she was going for and he stepped sharply away--though he he kept her hand and as a result pulled her back cleanly into the middle of the narrow trail. "Hey now, you can't say not yet and then go for my weak spot!" But it was all good, in spite of how this time of the month made their nerves strange and easily plucked, even among the most agreeable company.

 He played a proper game of keep-away, apparently, even as he tugged her back away from careening off the path. She grinned at him with a wrinkled nose, bumping her shoulder against him. Her own beast would very happily come out any moment now to continue this game after making up for the caloric cost it would take. "I meant not yet for me, but I thought you might need a jump start." Her words came with a little snicker, and very suddenly she released his hand to dash forward along the path, perhaps an unspoken challenge, and absolutely a little way to release some of the steam building up inside her.

"A ju--" he started to echo, but then she was off like a bolt, here one second and dashing off the next. It tore the words right from him, replacing them with incredulity of a less vocal sort. With Timeshare so close to the surface anyway it was practically instinct to take off after her, doing his best to not step on anything in the trail that might twist an ankle. Though hey, minor injury would probably be a good trigger right now, too.

"You're too quick for me!" complained one cheetah to another.

 Sometimes running was exhilarating! It definitely spoke to the animal in her head, especially now. The sharp air beating in and out of her lungs seemed awfully close to the ache of breaking ribs. She grinned into the wind as he yelled out after her, tempted to keep going - but it was no fun without the added thrill of her companion being just on the edge of snatching her up, as much as her beast might not care for such a prey-like role.

 Stopping sharply in the dirt, she could feel the intense vibration beginning in her head as she turned to face the man zipping up her path. "Just kidding," she panted as he came closer. "I think I'm ready now." This was not quite the place, not on this trail, but already she was hooking her thumbs under the straps of her backpack, some preliminary relief before they dove into the woods.

He was pretty sure he wasn't getting out enough. He used to be in a lot better shape than this. He came up on her breathing hard and undeniably white-eyed himself. It was a good thing they had planned this, because he wasn't sure he could have kept a hold on the eager cheetah much longer. Not that he was really looking forward to the pending reconfiguration of his human body, but what would come after would inevitably actually be pretty well worth it. Especially when he was in company worth keeping.

"You just didn't like that one pine tree back there," he accused, but moved to join her, having gotten a lot better at breaking from from the trails and heading deeper into wild territory over the last year... year and a half.

 Isolde certainly didn't miss the unnatural glow of Charlie's eyes, and if it weren't for her own permanently altered irises, she might be giving herself away with those, too. She hadn't worn contacts - suffice to say they didn't fit animal eyes very well.

 "Oh, yeah, it just was the last straw," she scoffed as she hopped after him, lifting her one free hand to push stray branches out of her face. Eventually, with the promise too close and too good for the beast to be patient for anymore, the woman had to stop. She dropped the pack on an unfortunate fern and sort of buckled to her knees. There was hardly time for an apology around trying to scramble out of her clothes as bones started to reshape themselves.

Honestly, he might have been able to keep it together a bit longer--which was funny, sorta, to realize he was to a point where he might not always be bottom of the barrel as control went? Not that he thought that was the issue here, it was just... some days were rougher than others, and he'd known this itch had been under Isolde's skin in particular from the moment she'd called him about this outing.

Sometimes he wondered if her time out in the mine shafts had changed something of that for her, made it harder to resist the call or something... but it wasn't the sort of thing he was going to ask.

He took a couple of seconds longer to get some of his more troubling clothing off, but it was like needing to pee and doing just fine but then once you get to the bathroom it just became that much more urgent when the opportunity was there, so--

Fun facts: Timeshare was always keen on reconfiguration of legs first. Something about running, probably. But that also made it basically impossible to keep one's feet, as if anyone ought to be stoic and stand tall while going through the sort of pain that might have killed you if it hadn't also made you stronger.

 She stayed sharply in tune with her senses, to the best of her ability, as the cheetah surged forward and began to take over. To make sure they were still truly alone. Not that she minded being naked in front of anyone, much less Charlie, but being spotted in the middle of a shift would certainly mean a hunt. It was a concern that lost something as her brain switched controls, still concerned for secrecy, but more intent on being able to kill something, and eat it.

 A few minutes passed and the woman was replaced with the animal. It's large, lanky form came to standing, and she shook out her speckled coat before making a bee-line to her partner. She would nip and headbutt him with both affection and playfulness, eager to goad him into getting up and going!

He was just a tiny bit slower than her, but he flexed his freshly formed toes and twitched his tail that was just... the last bit of finishing up as she came over, rolling him slightly with the force of her attention, a purr starting up in his throat before he even really managed to realize that he was, in fact, his whole self.

Rather than getting up, he rolled over to his back, twisting on the pile of clothing he'd left behind, to bring up front legs up and around her neck and pull her down for a good face grooming.

 The male rolled under her efforts instead of getting to his feet, and for all he human was largely gone from the present moment, the cheetah still felt her own affection. Even as her head was snared and brought under the attention of Timeshare's barbed tongue. She squinted against the grooming, body somewhat crouched to entertain him, but her patience only lasted so long. Eventually she'd bite him on the neck, not exactly gentle but far from breaking skin, purring despite her sudden and sharp insistence. Up up up! She made to leap away from him, popping a few feet away and staring at him expectantly, tail twitching just so.

Purr-bites were so nice.

She leapt away from his paws, breaking free from lanky limbs and he knew her posture perfectly well. Flailing in the ungainly way their sort were prone to, he found a more elegant posture upright and on his paws, stomping briefly on the clothing scattered again, as if wiping his paws off on it, and then he darted towards her with a chirp.

If she moved, he'd follow.

 He scrambled upright and came her way, and she squeaked at him as if to praise him, hopping once or twice before bolting through the thickets again. She'd lead him along through the underbrush, slowing some after a while to better train her senses on what might be out there. Mouth open, she sniffed the air intently, testing the light breeze and finding it not quite empty. There was something edible out here, and with another chirp and a shoulder bump for Timeshare, she'd turn through the trees to move a bit more slowly toward where it hopefully was. Some miles ahead in the forest, a small group of deer were grazing, blissfully ignorant to the approach of probable death.

Running through the trees wasn't the same as going through the open field, and so they were a bit slower than they might have been otherwise, but that also didn't stop them from being a blur through the underbrush. On the move, it was doubtful they'd ever be spotted long enough for any mind to make sense of what they were seeing--two cheetahs in a mountain forest in Colorado.

Slowing with her, his strides long and fluid, Timeshare sniffed with deep interest and a primal burn in his gut.

He fell back to lick once at her flank, then split off by a few yards to the left, to approach from a slightly different angle as they narrowed in on the scent.

 The parking lick was enough to alert Isolde to his intention to split away, and she watched him for a moment before carrying on. She kept her senses trained on both her partner and the prey upwind, moving strategically with him as they grew closer. Hunting as an overly fast supernatural animal made things pretty easy - it would be no competition against the deer at all, but there was still some thrill in knowing there would be a chase, however short lived it might be.

 Cocky as ever, she chirped a little as they neared the small herd, eyes seeking Timeshare as their slender heads rose from the grass all at once. She poked forward through the underbrush, but waited for the male to make a move first before she darted out of the greenery. Whatever his target was, she would help him take it down.

He was focused. When she chirruped at him, he saw the ears of the deer perk at the unfamiliar noise. Not quite stupid, but also perhaps a little too curious for their own good. Timeshare shifted on his paws, right up until the edge of the clearing, eyes picking up on a doe--fat and likely pregnant. Which meant she would be slow. And more filling. Which really, the latter was what he was really after, the promise of fresh food enough to make him want to burst forward.

But there were a handful of heartbeats, to wait until there was some lowering of defenses and then--

Like a colorful dart from a deadly blowgun, the streamlined form of the lesser cat screamed from the bushes, honed in on the target that realized her doom too late and turned to go with a raised tail of warning to the rest.

 On he went, towards the fattest doe - a more human mind would later praise Timeshare for smart picking. Isolde darted out seconds after him, scattering the rest of the herd in multiple directions as she came from the front of their path. She worked in silent focus across the short distance, tail spiraling out behind her as she turned and leapt, meaning to snare the doe by the throat and help take her to the ground.

In the wild, cheetahs were built for speed to catch equally speedy little ungulates with sprint chases that went far but fast.

In the wild, werecheetahs were built for speed to commit acts of terror on confused ungulates by appearing out of seemingly nowhere and taking what they wanted.

So it was, Isolde was true to her mark, as was her companion to his. While she clenched down on windwipe and dragged the doe down, Timeshare wasted no time in wrapping her hindquarters in teeth. The doe was practically as heavy as he was, and without Isolde already pulling her down he might have been able topple the deer, but rather than getting kicked at his bad angle of attack, they instead went down in a chaotic heap.

Only then did he let go of her to swing aside from kicking limbs and go for her rounded gut.

 They hit the ground thunderously, Isolde finding herself rolling under the thrashing weight of the doe's head as they landed. She lashed and kicked and bleated in agony, and might have kicked her way free from Isolde's strength if not for Charlie holding down the rear. Literally. Growling as she tried to whip herself around and keep teeth in the windpipe at the same time, grappling with the doe and the earth at the same time. She worked her jaw against her purchase and shot her gaze to the other cheetah, panting as well as she could breathe in the moment.

Really, it was a massacre. The doe might have gotten away from something like a wolf or a mountain lion with some luck, but when it came to two overcharged monsters, it didn't stand a chance. A wide bite that might have been difficult for a normal animal was basically effortless to supernatural jaws, the taut belly parting under massive teeth, gutting her in one--then two--bites and tugs. A rigid leg managed to strike his shoulder, but the pain was dull in comparison to the thrill of a kill, and he yanked back, wild-eyed and bloody, before lunging in to break the offending limb with a grind of molars.

 There was a very human concern as Charlie was struck by a sharp stray hoof that overrode any envy she might be feeling as he ripped the belly open. He retaliated, anyway, crippling the leg, and Isolde delivered the final crush to the doe's windpipe, and it would be fatal. Its eyes rolled painfully, mouth open, and then it was lifeless. Only a few still-firing nerves kept it from going completely still yet.

 Isolde was tempted to zip over to the male and instigate him for more prime real estate at the gut. Instead she'd go for the shoulder nearest her face, relying on brute strength to rip through the hide, pulling flaps loose with still-hot flesh clinging to the silky inside of the skin. She settled in with one paw keeping the leg down in case of any stray movements, further bloodying her face as she began to eat ravenously.

He tugged once until the leg dangled terribly as the doe died, and then he was back to the center of mass. It was just good sense--you ate first what was going to go bad first. Not that they would leave anything of this carcass behind that would be rotting anytime soon, but it also was what tailored their more wild tastes. The interior of the animal just had a strange appeal, and with it already running into the grass, it wouldn't be left to cool for long. Great gulps as if the cat had never fed a day in his life before, he chewed down on offal that went down as easily as it spilled out.

Tiny noises, growls of content, heedless of the mess he made of himself in doing so, he would gorge without too much thought about sharing the best bits.

 The shoulder was a lot of work for less reward compared to the entrails breaking out into the grass, but Isolde would busy herself with it for a while anyway, consuming pieces of ligament and sinew along with skin and muscle. The scapula was more labor than was worth for the marrow in the face of her burning hunger, unsatisfied by a bit of shoulder, and she would rise to step over the extended leg to join Timeshare in the middle. Her movements were slow and wary, quiet as she settled in to shove her entire face under the rib cage, prepared to fight if the male got greedy. Love and affection took a back seat to food in this moment.

Her movement to join him caught his attention, and his ears flipped back somewhat warily. But she wasn't aggressive about it and he had already eaten his preferred pieces with sheer greed, so as she tried to find a space... he let her have it. There was the smallest warning rumble, but when she left him with enough room to continue to shoulder in deep, and to rip out the rest of the insides from the tail end, he wouldn't grief her about it. For now, anyway. It was easier when he still had plenty of fresh food to occupy his jaw with.

 All was well, then, if all he had to offer was a little growl - she'd rumble back at him, the sound muffled and generally light as she dug in, snapping ribs free of their holds with her force. If it weren't for the need to breathe, she'd stay in there to eat - as it was, she'd have to pull the goods out. So, with a few violent tugs, she tore a lung free, retreating with her entire head and the tops of her shoulders stained crimson. Back in she went for the heart, a figurative gold mine, and it was enticing enough that she'd eat it before the lung in as few large bites as she could manager, finding heavenly satisfaction in crushing the thick, wet muscle between her molars.

In short order, they had managed to gut the doe clean out, and Timeshare found the last little nugget of liver he'd managed to drop and scooped it up with fervor. Like an overly large kitty treat, down it went, and then he was sniffing the remains of the animal, still hungry and debating what was worth his effort next...

There were bleeding spots on the thigh area where he'd taken her down, and he sniffed at those before licking once, twice... and then biting, decision made as he sank feline fangs deep into cooling flesh and pulled.

 The carcass having been properly eviscerated left an open cavern of bloody bone and muscle - which was not a bad thing, but perhaps a bit like they'd had dessert before dinner. As if cheetahs had any concern for meal etiquette. Timeshare went for the flank, and Isolde would begin to tear open the back strap area, meticulously ripping strips of muscle from around the spine with a more languid approach now that she wasn't ravenous. There was a simple pleasure in little sound beyond tearing and crunching as they worked to leave little but a skeleton.

Cheetahs, being the lesser cats that they were, tended to eat quickly and efficiently lest a lion or a hyena come along and chase them off their hard-won kill. Werecheetahs had a bit more leeway, but still were very efficient. Teeth scraping against bone, chewing and claiming every bit of edible matter from the animal that had not-so-willingly given her life to their cause.

While a lighter meal might be in order later down the line, since the carcass had been shared between the two of them, as things began to peter down, Timeshare was back to purring, resting idly on his belly as he finished his share in long and idle licks and tugs.

 Isolde slowed her pace at roughly the same rate as her partner, until it was simply time to abandon the task of trying to scrape the smaller morsels off the bones. Resting would be in order, but only after grooming, and with any food aggression to put her on her toes, Isolde would rise to her feet and saunter over to Timeshare's side. Her first target was the spot he'd been kicked by one stray hoof, and unless he meant to fight her about it, she would take to cleaning it with her bristly tongue and eventually move on to his reddened face.

He hadn't bled, thankfully, but he was rather sore. Nothing that wouldn't go away within a day, day and a half at most, but under the fur he was certainly bruised. Though Timeshare wasn't about to chase her off, he did whine cattily at the soft pressure, flexing permanently extended claws into the dirt already smattered with their prints.

Much preferred was when she moved onto his face, and he took to purring up a pleasant storm, lifting his chin to let her get at all the nicest spots that he would have struggled to reach on his own.

After a bit, and when the angle was right, he would return the favor, finding a great deal of comfort in running his tongue over her familiar spots and threading between short hairs.

 Isolde matched his purring as they exchanged grooming duties, senses alert to their surroundings despite a general sense of laziness. Lifting blood from fur was a tedious but relaxing task, and by the end of it, she was content to just sort of lean much of her weight against Charlie as if she might doze off. Not yet, though, she'd already decided - passing out right next to the kill was probably not the safest plan.

Even when they were both clean in the way that cats demanded, he continued to lick at her fur. Just lightly, lazy, similar to mindless petting from a human hand. Her weight into him was as much a comfort as anything was these days. He was less vigilant than she was, trusting her awareness in a way his own was sometimes lacking.

Stretching out his hind legs, he hooked a front paw over her shoulder and closed his eyes while continuing to press kitty kisses onto her shoulder and neck.

 The continued grooming absolutely threatened to put her to sleep, and truly her eyes would begin to squeeze shut as he continued - until suddenly some sense of awareness returned to her and she sat up quickly. She would chirp at Charlie and headbutt him fondly before rising to her feet. It was time to go, back to some place more densely wooded, perhaps where their belongings remained. Taking a few steps back the way they'd come, she'd look over her shoulder at him in silent insistence.

Being the much less practical cat that he was, he was very reluctant to get up, and the only reason he did at all in the end was because she had pulled away first. That took away the vast majority of his reasons for staying right there by the damp bones of the dead deer in a clearing that was otherwise quite idyllic.

Taking about three more seconds to groom down the fur on his own forelegs while the stood there, he would then pull his head up and offer a rolling mew of acceptance, committing by stepping up to her side, head ducking low just under hers for a moment before they were likely to be off.

 Being well-fed offered her a little extra patience, tail moving just so as she watched him stand and lick and meow before he finally joined her. She’d set a brisk pace, something of a trot as she started back along the scent trail they’d left in coming here. Satisfied and fulfilled, she was rather looking forward to cuddling up again and eventually dozing off for good this time.

He would keep up with her, feeling rather fat for a skinny cat and very pleased for it. A good shift, a good expenditure of the sort of energy that could ruin them if they let it. Shifting with someone you loved was a whole different beast than doing it only because your nature demanded it.

Still, when they got back to a spot that felt familiar but still safe to lay low, he'd make a point of draping his neck over her back and it was there he would sleep the most soundly, the animal finally content to go back to the confines of a metaphysical reality.

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