"Up, idiot. We need to make lunch or we'll starve." She struggled out of the covers and sat dozing on the edge of the bed for a moment. Diana jerked awake, her normal method of awakening, and kicked Melissa's side accidentally. The dark haired girl grunted and struggled to stand woozily.
Behind her, the covers were rolled up and flung at the back of her head as she bounced up off the bed and scurried out of the room. Diana whined and untangled her sheets, spreading them back on the bed.
"It's not fair the way you wake up. It takes me ten minutes to wake you up and then you make like a jack-in-the-box. Freak..." Diana poured milk in her coffee and glared at her cousin. Melissa made a face at her as she slammed the oven shut, making Diana wince.
"Be careful with that, it's old," she protested.
"It's not my fault you can't function for at least an hour after you wake up." She tossed the gloves on the countertop and twirled in a circle, making the skirt of the brightly colored sari she wore flare out beautifully. Diana admired it and smoothed her own long, pale violet skirt.
"Hmph..." mumbled Diana.
"Loser," Melissa stole Diana's cup and slurped the brew.
Diana glared. "If you wanted some you could have asked."
"Meh..." Melissa twirled over to the fridge and opened it.
The two girls blinked at each other. "What...?" they said in unison.
They turned in circles trying to figure out which direction the noises were coming from. They didn't sound like they were too far away, just inside rather. After about five minutes Diana closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. When she opened her them the pupils were dilated so much the iris was only a small ring of brown. She looked around slowly and then nudged Melissa.
Carefully she went to the back door and opened it. There on the porch was a largish wooden crate with small holes in the sides. The cat sounds were coming from it. Melissa grabbed Diana's hands when she bent to lift off the heavy cover.
"Do you want to get splinters in your fingers? Let me do that." Diana stepped back and Melissa raised her hands over the box. The nails holding down the lid pried themselves loose and set themselves in a little heap to one side. The lid rose up and settled down next to them. Both girls stepped up and peered into the box.
"Fuck. Ow, gerroff!" Kisame hissed.
"I can't," Itachi said, sounding strained. "Kakashi won't move."
"No way I'm letting either of you up. Gai, Genma, are you all right? What about the other two?"
Genma sneezed. "I have her restrained Kakashi. The other one-"
"-is too weak to pose any threat, Kakashi. I think he might die if he doesn't get help." Gai looked wide-eyed at Kakashi from his crouch next to the fourth Akatsuki member.
"Well, we can't help that. We need to find out what happened, and how to reverse it." He glared down at his captives. "I don't suppose you would know anything about that?"
Itachi sighed. "Again, Kakashi we have no idea what happened, the same as you. And we are just as eager to reverse it and return."
"I would assume so," Kakashi bared his fangs, and then snarled silently and looked up as the lid of the box they were in was lifted off. Two faces hung over them, curious and surprised.
"Diana?" said four of the box's occupants.
"Kitty!" squealed the other girl, and reached into the box and scooped up Genma and Konan. They mewed in shock and surprise, squirming violently to get free. Diana shook her head at the girl.
"Lissa, you can't just..." She trailed off and squinted at the two kittens. Suddenly, she reached into the box and picked up Kakashi by the scruff of his neck, holding him up at eye level.
"Normal," she muttered. "A wolf-hybrid pup." She sat down and set him down in her lap, reaching into the box again. This time she lifted out Itachi and Kisame.
"Normal coloration, and this one is a Siamese." She set them in her lap next to Kakashi, who glared balefully at them and peered into the box again. She reached in and picked up Gai and then set him down near her knee; her lap was full.
"Lissa," she said quietly. The other girl was trying to hold the two ninja-turned-kittens but they squirmed and wriggled fiercely.
Diana emptied her lap and gently retrieved the last cat, holding him carefully to her chest. "Somebody's been abusing these cats. Look, these aren't their natural colors. And look at this one, the poor baby's half dead."
Melissa looked over and set down Genma. She held up Konan and combed her fingers through her fur, catching some loose hairs. "I'll check their fur for dye later. Let's get something in that one's stomach and see if it helps. He's nothing but skin and bones."
Diana nodded and stood up. Konan started squirming again and finally in frustration, lightly scratched Melissa to get free.
"Ow," yelped the girl, and dropped her. Konan bolted over to Diana and hissed up at her but followed when the girl went through the open kitchen door. Itachi and Kisame trotted behind her and Kakashi, Gai and Genma went right after them.
"Lissa, stick a towel in the microwave and warm it up so I can wrap this little guy in it. And find some extra saucers... where's the milk?" Diana put the red kitten down on the mat by the sink and the purple one with the white ear curled up around him, licking his face gently. During the whole time, the little red cat hadn't so much as twitched. The black kitten and the blue Siamese curled up next to them, mewing softly to each other.
Diana got out the milk from the fridge and heated some in the microwave, then poured it into the saucers Melissa had set out. She tossed the towel into the microwave to warm up for a few seconds and then wrapped the red cat in it.
"Diana, I think we'll have to feed him with an eyedropper." Melissa bent down and stroked the kitten's head softly. A hiss near her feet made her blink. The blue, black and purple cats were gathered around her feet. It was the purple one that had hissed at her.
"You guys are supposed to be drinking your milk. Don't worry, your friend will be fine. We'll get him better." She picked up the black and purple and set them down near the saucers. "Drink."
"I'll go get the eyedropper," she continued, frowning. "But what do we feed the pup? You said he was a wolf hybrid. If we get caught with a wolf hybrid we'll get into trouble. It's illegal to keep one as a pet."
Diana shook her head. "We'll be fine. And don't worry," she interrupted when Melissa looked at her dubiously. "He's not gonna be taken away from us that easily. Besides, I don't think he'll go without the others. He seems pretty attached to them."
The pup made a sort of high pitched bark that ended in a growl.
"Yes, boss. The eyedropper. Be back in a flash," Melissa joked and then trotted out of the room.
Diana sat down on one of the stools surrounding the kitchen island and gazed at the pup. "She had a point. What do I feed you? You're not a dog."
The pup stared at her. "Guess for now, I'll have to grind some meat for you. I read somewhere that cooked food isn't good for wolves. Do we have any raw meat?" She got up and opened the freezer. "If we don't I think Lissa could catch a bird or something for you. Fish, too. There's a river not ten minutes away from here."
She straightened up with a packet of beef in her hand. "Well, I found some beef. You'll still have to wait for it to thaw before I can grind it." She put the packet in a bowl and placed it in the sink, turning on the tap to let the water run into it. Melissa came back in with the eyedropper in her hand.
"I'll have to go down the butcher's to get mince for you. What?" The pup had just sat on her foot. "If you're hungry now, you can have some milk too." She stole the bottle from Melissa and poured another saucer.
"Here." She set it down next to the others. The pup padded over, fat backside waddling and lapped thirstily. He looked up at her and yipped, then stuck his nose back in the saucer.
"You're welcome." She stood. "Lissa, how's he doing?" she asked, referring to the red kitten.
Melissa huffed. "He can barely swallow. I have to massage his throat telekinetically to get any milk down it. I could cheerfully strangle whoever starved this little guy." She made cooing noises at the kitten.
Diana stroked the kitten's head with a finger and sighed. "Once he's stronger I could look at his memories and see what happened."
Both girls jerked as a cacophony started up around their feet. Melissa thanked her lucky stars that she was practiced enough not to slip up or she might have squeezed the eyedropper and choked the helpless kitten in her arms. The purple kitten had tried to lunge at Diana, the black and blue ones had tried to pounce on her to hold her down and the pup had swatted all three of them into a corner, and knocked over two of the saucers.
"What-?" Diana grabbed the pup and held him up at eye level. "What did you do that for? Naughty puppy!" She wagged her finger at it and it tried to nip her. The purple cat scrabbled up and lunged for Diana's feet. Mewing frantically, the other cats went for her and managed to pile on top of her, pinning her and preventing her from attacking Diana. She hissed violently at the black and blue cats and tried to bite the brown and green ones.
The two girls blinked and looked at each other, at the red kitten and then down at the pile-up at their feet.
"Again, what?" asked Diana. "These are some weird cats. They understand what we're saying, at least, what I just said. Why did that one just try to turn me into a ribbon show?"
"I don't know," said Melissa. "Maybe if they do understand what we're saying, you should look at their memories. Or ask them first. If they're aware enough that they understand then it would be better to treat them as humans."
"Yes." Diana sat down on the floor and set the puppy down next to the pile of kittens, meeting the purple cat's amber eyes. "Maybe if you let me see what's going on with your friend I'd be able to help." She held out her hand. "Please?"
The kitten stared at her for a long moment and then meowed softly. The black and blue kittens shrugged off the other two and crawled off of her. Diana placed her hands in her lap and waited until the little purple cat climbed into her lap, then she closed her eyes and gently put her hand on the kitten's head, linking their energies.
Her body jerked as the cat's aura enveloped her own and fed off of it, pulling in almost all Diana's energy. Melissa began calling for her but Diana couldn't answer. Flashes of memories passed through her mind as the little cat drained her almost to the breaking point. Struggling to focus, she opened her eyes. The purple cat was gone, in its place was a baby girl with bright amber eyes and purple hair. Diana groaned and passed out.
"What...?" Melissa flung out a hand and suspended Diana before she fell backwards and dropped the baby in her lap. One minute her cousin was gasping for breath and shaking like an earthquake and the next the kitten in her lap morphed into a baby girl and Diana had passed out. Carefully she set the tiny red kitten down in the midst of the others and crouched next to her unconscious cousin and the baby.
The child looked up at her and worked its little pink mouth but only nonsense syllables came out.
"Oh dear," she murmured. She picked up the baby in one arm and levitated her cousin, arranging her limbs properly. "Ouch." The baby girl had grabbed a handful of her hair when she slipped a little in her arms. She shifted her into a more secure position and went upstairs to Diana's room, one of the kittens and the puppy following along behind her. She laid Diana down on her bed and set the baby down next to her.
"Hey Cuz, you alright?" Melissa put her hand on Diana's forehead. It was very cold. Alarmed, she checked her pulse and while it was weak, it remained steady. Sighing, she sat back and stared at the baby.
She scowled and leaned over the girl. "What did you do?" she growled. "My cousin's out cold and I don't know if she'll be alright, I'm not an aural you brat. And who are you anyway?"
The little girl simply stared at Melissa silently until she sat back and sighed again. "I guess I'll have to wait and see if she wakes up to find out... What are you looking at?"
The girl pointed behind her. Melissa turned around and blinked. There wasn't anything there except a painting Diana had been working on lately propped up in front of the window. It was her impression of Konan, the Angel of Akatsuki. Staring at the painting several things stirred subconsciously.
"You like that painting?" she asked. The girl stretched her hands toward it and babbled something at Melissa. "Diana's the artist." She picked the baby girl and walked over to stand in front of it. The painting showed Konan hovering in the air, wings outstretched and sheets of paper swirling around. A basic painting, but Diana had captured the expression on the angel's face perfectly, and the way she held herself, and that had given life to the woman in the canvas. It made you think, as you stood there, that you were going to be on the receiving end of an attack in the next half-second. She had turned Konan into a goddess and then gave her humanity by the emotion in her eyes.
"She's awesome isn't she?" she grinned down at the girl, who pointed again to the painting and then cupped her own face in her tiny hands.
"What, you like her?" asked Melissa. The girl glared at her. It must have been intended to be ferocious but with the wide amber eyes and chubby cheeks it simply looked adorable. Melissa cooed at the girl and looked back at the painting, and the little girl slapped her cheek.
"Ahhh, what was that for?" she growled, looking down at the girl. She blinked. There was a similarity to the way the child glared and the expression on Konan's face. She looked from the little girl to the painting and then back again, recalling finding the crate, the kittens and the transformation. Her eyes widened.
The baby muttered something and relaxed her glare. Melissa turned around and looked at the wolf and kitten sitting next to her bed.
"If... then who are you?" she whispered. "Diana, wake up. I have no idea what to do."