The first time, Terra waits until she has the cabin she shares with Celes to herself. She changes into some old clothes, in case the transformation destroys them the way it did in Narshe, and she concentrates, trying to recapture the form she's otherwise only achieved involuntarily.
The transformation is gradual; when she looks down at her hands, her nails are longer and narrower than before, and at her next glance they've turned into claws. There's more hair on the back of her hands than before, and rather than the pale gold-green it's always been, it looks white, almost pink against her skin. She pulls a lock of hair in front of her face, and there are pink strands in amongst the green. Her bare feet are hard and calloused, and she finds herself standing on her toes; she sits on the edge of her bed, crosses one ankle over the other knee, and watches her foot become a hoof.
When it's done, she stands and walks over to the mirror on the wall. It's oval, gilt-framed, ornate; the wildness of her face reflected in it seems especially out of place. The bone structure is still the same, the nose, the shape of her eyes and lips, but her eyes themselves are all green, no differentiation between sclera and iris, and the pupils are oval, like a cat's. She smiles, tentatively, at her reflection, and something about it seems off; she pulls her lips back to bare her teeth and sees that they're pointed, though when she runs her tongue over them, they're not sharp. No more so than a dog's canine teeth, anyway.
She examines herself: the backs of her hands, the fronts of her legs, her palms. Her clothes have vanished, but most of her body is covered with the pink-and-white fur she'd noticed growing earlier. The coating is especially thick and long in the vicinity of her breasts and legs, like she decided to grow herself underclothes; she wonders if she controlled it to that extent. The fur isn't all one color, more a mixture of white and pink. The softer undercoat seems to be mostly white, the longer, sleeker upper coat more pink. The fur tapers to much shorter coating around her ankles, what used to be her feet, and on her face. She finds herself drawing more comparisons to the dogs they kept back in Mobliz, and then she gets so embarrassed that she changes back, all at once, so suddenly it kind of hurts.
But she changes again at the next opportunity, when Celes is off the ship and there aren't many around to come looking for her. At every such opportunity, in fact. Maybe her face is covered with a thick but short coating of fur like a cat's or dog's, or moogle's, but she's not a cat or dog. Or a moogle, though it might be nice to be a moogle. She's still a person, and she has a face she never got to know. A whole body. She remembers sitting alone in the bath in another world, looking at her own stranger's skin, wondering about the scar she could see on her upper arm, just above the elbow, pale and old, or the livid one above her knee. There have been others since then, with sources she remembers, but none of the scars are easily visible now, like she's a new person, or like there was a side of herself that no one could hurt.
She can only see parts of herself, of course - the mirror only reflects from the shoulders up, and even when she buys a hand mirror, she can't see much more of her back than that. She wonders about it; what it looks like, because she thought the fur felt different there, and honestly, whether she's more exposed in the back than she seems to be in front. Her clothes vanish, but seem to come back when she changes back to human form; she doesn't know where they go, or how. She's tried putting on clothes once she's in her Esper form, but it doesn't work well. She seems to be a bit taller, a bit larger, and even when she tried altering some old clothes to make them fit better, they felt uncomfortable, unnecessary. She wonders if maybe the fault is the clothes, most of them fitted, if she simply has too much fur to fit comfortably under them; she's trying to sew herself a loose skirt, in hopes that would help. Her Esper form is powerful, but she's not sure about going into battle nude.
One day, when all the others are busy with the Coliseum, Terra has the opportunity to do something she's wanted to do for a long time. She changes, and takes her little hand mirror out into the common area, where a full-length mirror is affixed to the wall. Her hooves clop on the boards of the deck, and she's glad she made sure the ship was empty first.
At least, she thought she had, but she's barely raised the mirror to inspect her back when she hears a voice saying, "Terra?"
She drops the mirror with a cry, and Locke yelps in reaction. "I thought you left with the others!" she says.
"I did, but I got bored," he says. "They've got everything riding on Mog and Sabin, and I don't care about watching the fights for their own sake." He steps close enough to pick up the mirror and inspects it. "You need to be careful," he says. "Seven years bad luck if you break one of these."
"It'd be your fault," she retorts. "You startled me." He hands it back to her, and she catches a glimpse of herself in it. Reminded of how she looks now, she focuses on her hands on the handle instead of his face. "I'm sorry," she says. "I know you don't like this form."
"What? It's none of my business how you want to look," he says. "It's not that form I don't like, it's you going ballistic and flying off to the ends of the earth without telling anybody where you're going."
"Oh." She looks at his face again, and is relieved to see no fear or distaste, or none that she recognizes. He might look a little concerned. "I can control it," she assures him. "I'm not going to run away or anything."
"I know," he says. "It's more, um... I don't think you look naked, but you kind of are naked-"
"None of my clothes feel comfortable," she protests, but then she remembers her worries about whether she'd look nude to anyone else and falls silent.
"Just a second," he says, and heads off in the direction of the cabins.
When he returns, a minute or two later, she's checked her back, and satisfied herself as to the amount of fur covering her buttocks, the texture of it on her back, and the fact that she doesn't have a tail, all of which had been worrying her. He offers her a white shirt, and she takes it, careful of her claws. When she shrugs it on, she's surprised to find that it's not uncomfortable. "This doesn't seem like the kind of thing you wear," she says.
"Nope, it's Edgar's." He seems at ease, now, so she doesn't bother buttoning it up. "Are you hungry or anything?" he asks.
"Not really, but I wouldn't mind having some tea." She thinks for a moment. "Do you think I'd shed into the food?"
"I dunno. I mean, you're not a cat, but... huh. I guess there's only one way to find out, right?"
Not as interested in experimentation as he is, Terra puts the kettle on the gas ring and then steps back to let Locke make his sandwich. The galley is tiny, so they move down to the main common area with the teapot and Locke's plate. "So you can hold this a pretty long time now?" he asks her, casually, while she's pouring the tea.
"What do you mean?"
"Your Esper form. I didn't think you could stay in it very long."
"Oh." She busies herself with cream, sugar, noticing the incongruousness of the little teaspoon, handle adorned with scrollwork, in her claws. She hasn't lost any dexterity, even if her hands now look like they belong on a monster. "I just always change back as quickly as I can. I don't want to scare people."
"That's not- okay, fair, I guess people have been scared of you."
"The kids were."
"And then they recognized you!" He reaches across the low table to grab her hand. "You still look like you, Terra."
He nods. "Really. Are you more comfortable like this?"
She thinks about it. "I don't know. It feels about the same as my human form, when I'm not thinking about how it looks to anyone else. I mean, from inside. I'm still getting used to seeing it - I mean, looking down at my hands and seeing claws, things like that."
"If you want to keep getting used to it, I say you should," he says firmly.
"Okay, then maybe I'll-" She hears voices from above, and she feels herself changing back, the claws shrinking in and skin smoothing out. She stands, pulling her hand from Locke's - she needs to get back to her cabin, like she'd never left it - then sits back down after a moment's hesitation. There's no need for that, not really. She peels off Edgar's shirt, wondering how she's going to explain it, and tugs at her skirt, rearranging herself.
"Not ready to try it on anyone else?" he asks softly.
She looks down at her hands, blunt and human. No risk of tearing cloth by accident with them. "Not yet. Not everyone at once," she says. "A few at a time. I might actually tell people first rather than just changing on them."
"Up to you," he says. Mog's sliding down the bannister. "Just don't worry about anyone freaking out, okay?"
"Okay," she agrees, and smiles at him. She'll tell Setzer, she decides. She wants to practice flying, and if anyone's going to see her jump off the deck, it's him. He might as well be prepared.