Joshua always tried very hard, extra hard to follow directions when Max said it was important. Sometimes it was hard to remember, but when it was a very important job Joshua always tried to do his best. What Max said was to "stay in the house and keep Alec busy". It didn't seem like a very hard thing to do, and Max said she would be back soon.
Alec liked TV, so Joshua turned on the television even though he'd rather listen to music while he painted. Joshua put Alec in front of the TV figuring that he'd just sit there glassy-eyed like he usually did. But just a few moments later, there he was nudging at Joshua's leg with his little nose. Joshua suppressed a shudder – Alec and Max as humans with feline DNA wasn't an issue, but Alec as an actual feline…shudder
"Okay there, little…um….Littlest Fella," Joshua said as he tried to push Alec away with his foot. "Go, um….watch TV. You know….music…babes….you like the noisy TV." Alec responded by pouncing on Joshua's foot and grabbing the hem of his pants with his teeth. Joshua rolled his eyes at the ceiling; this time Max was really asking a lot.
Joshua looked down at the transformed X-5. His feline DNA had caused his entire physiology to change and instead of being a mature, young human Alec was a very cuddly, highly energetic, black panther cub. Joshua tried to shake Alec free of his leg, but Alec thought it was a game and grabbed onto Joshua's leg with his claws.
The howl that Joshua let loose startled the young panther, and Alec scampered away in fright. Joshua was immediately remorseful. "Oh no, Littlest Fella! I didn't mean to scare you. Don't be afraid of Joshua!"
Joshua was very concerned that Alec would escape the house in his panic and did his best to wrangle the frightened cub. But every time he got close to cornering the panther, doing his best to be soothing and not so dog-like, Alec would freak out and run away.
After a good forty-five minute run up and down every level of Father's house, they ended up back in the living room; Alec cowering behind a sofa and Joshua winded near his painting supplies.
Once Joshua was satisfied that Alec wasn't going to run any more he relaxed a little. Maybe all the running had worn the littlest fella out. Joshua stayed out of Alec's line of sight, but dropped a soft blanket on the floor behind the sofa just in case he wanted to curl up. He even turned the TV so that if Alec peeked out he'd be able to watch the music channel he liked so much. But the cub seemed content to knead the blanket into various mounds and pounce on them unexpectedly. Cats made no sense to Joshua.
Joshua's painting supplies were in disarray from his unexpected flight. He busied himself cleaning up the scattered canvas and the fallen paints. On his return from the kitchen to get some damp rags, Joshua was surprised to see that Alec had come out of hiding and was investigating the paint on the floor. His nose was blue, his paws and one ear were orange, and even as Joshua watched Alec tried to wipe his ear again, lost his balance and rolled onto the canvas. Surprised by the new texture beneath him, Alec jumped to all four feet. He seemed intrigued by the paw prints he was making. Alec looked up at Joshua and for the first time Joshua recognized something of the Alec he knew in that gaze.
Joshua imagined he even saw that trademark smirk right before Alec took a flying leap to make four spectacular paw prints on the empty canvas. Joshua couldn't help but laugh. He wasn't a fan of cats, but he would never be one to stifle a budding artist. With no more thought, Joshua spread more color choices on the floor instead of cleaning up, and happily sat back to watch Alec create.
Hours later, when Max returned with food for transgenics and cat alike, Joshua was seated on the couch with Alec stretched across his lap. He didn't have the heart to wake the X-5 when he spontaneously returned to human form; Alec was so worn out by his creative endeavors and running around the house that his cat nap stretched out into genuine sleep. Max didn't say a word.
Afterwards, Alec's painting was hung in a place of honor and Max never lost an opportunity to comment on his "nice paws"