Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandoms: The Walking Dead
Pairing: Desus – Daryl Dixon x Paul “Jesus” Rovia
Characters: Paul “Jesus” Rovia, Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes, Carol Peletier, Michonne
Warnings: Probably crack, Smut with plot
Summary: Jesus came to Alexandria to do trade and to see a certain grumpy hunter. However, he didn’t see said hunter; instead, just outside the walls of Alexandria he found a black cat – wait, was that really a cat?!
Paul retired to bed that night like every other night, with a bigger-than-normal cat occupying the remaining space of his single bed. He believed he should wake up in the morning like every other morning, with or without that said cat – sometimes ‘Daryl’ slept in, sometimes he didn’t. Certainly he didn’t expect to open his eyes to the sight of an arm draping across his chest, not in the loving ‘hold me, touch me’ way but in the unsexy and discomforting way. He blinked, stared at the arm for a few seconds, then blinked again, and again, and again. Still, the arm remained his reality, not his imagination. The weight felt very real though, making breathing a slightly more difficult task. He tried to rake his sleep-fogged brain for any indication that he had taken someone to his bed last night, and after a long while rummaging through the clutter of his memories, he came to a sad, disappointing conclusion that he hadn’t done that in years. His only bed companion was a four-legged animal that should be taking the space next to him. Alert coursing through him like electric current, Paul whipped his head to the side and saw a sleeping face.
It took all his restraint not to scream because said sleeping face belonged to the one and only Daryl Dixon. The human, grumpy one. As he dared to scan down Daryl’s form, the skin of his face was cooked by the heat of horror and arousal. His heartbeat went from 75 to 150 in a quarter of a minute, nearly giving him a heart attack. On his bed Daryl was curling in a fetal position, his shoulders bare, his arms bare, his entire body bare to Paul’s scrutiny.
Paul pinched his side hard, he just had to, and was barely able to muffle his yelp into the pillow. He needed to ensure this wasn’t a dream because it looked very much like a dream, a wet dream actually, one that left him panting and aching and needy in the middle of the night whether he was in his own tiny trailer or the room Rick had provided him in Alexandria, conveniently just a few strides from the dweller of the unsuspecting culprit of his predicament.
That Daryl was lying naked on his bed was not a dream but the reality, he told himself, feeling the soft warmth of his breath ghosting against his face since they were so close, noses almost touching. He took several quick breaths, trying to calm his overexcited heart. Daryl’s sleeping face helped a great deal too. In his slumber, the man looked breathtakingly peaceful, his perpetual scowl gone, his lines smoothed out and his sharp, slanted eyes hidden behind closed eyelids. His eyelashes weren’t particularly long but their length and curves put the finishing touch to the picture of Daryl’s visage. Paul subconsciously held his breath as he swallowed.
Something black on top of Daryl’s head twitched, catching Paul’s attention. Curious, Paul extended his head to shyly touch it. Silky fur and a familiar softness graced the tips of his fingers. Paul gasped in silence. Was it… an ear? Moreover, not a human ear but a cat ear!
Emboldened by his shock, Paul gave the ear a light tug to test whether it was an ornament (though chance that Daryl would wear any ornaments on his head, let alone cat ears, was a mighty zero) and would come off. It didn’t. Moreover it felt firmly attached to his skull as if a part of him. A part of him! Something in Paul’s brain clicked and thoughts started whirring in his head. Daryl was lying on his bed. The mangorath, which should be in his place, was nowhere in sight (except that Daryl might have crushed him with his weight but it was too absurd Paul didn’t even want to consider it). Daryl had cat ears on his head. Pointy and warm and soft to the touch. Like a certain mangorath’s. Daryl had mangorath ears. Daryl was part mangorath. Daryl was the mangorath!
Paul grimaced as a headache started pounding in his skull. How his brain had come up with such a conclusion and actually convinced him that it made some sense was beyond his comprehension. Morning drowsiness caused funny thoughts. He needed an aspirin or an explanation. Maybe both. Definitely both.
Daryl’s ear twitched again and Paul couldn’t help touching it again, relishing the sensation transmitted from the tips of his fingers to his brain. As he did, he began to think he might have developed cat-ear fetish and it mortified him tremendously; it wasn’t right to think that way about his ally, his friend, especially someone as stoic as Daryl Dixon. But if he didn’t tell, no-one, certainly not Daryl, would know, right? He just had to keep his less proper thoughts to himself and behave normally around the hunter, didn’t he?
Paul’s heart almost stopped when Daryl’s eyes suddenly opened, glacially blue with black slit pupils like a cat’s. During their time of acquaintance, he had observed and learned many things about the hunter, both in his features and manners, but he never knew that Daryl possessed cat eyes and eyes were the very first thing he took notice about Daryl, or any individual he met. The hunter’s eyes were narrow, blue and magnetically drew Paul in every time they locked gaze and most importantly, they were unmistakably human. Now those eyes had changed and they were staring at him unblinkingly. The mangorath often stared at him in the same way, with the same eyes, once again confirming Paul’s crazy theory that Daryl and the feline were one and the same.
Daryl let out a small whimpering sound that was more cat than human.
Paul sat upright as though being electrocuted and rushed to his drawer. He searched frantically for a shirt and a pair of pants that were Daryl’s size. Not once had he looked behind his back to see that Daryl had also sat up, stretched his muscles and was watching Paul piling up a small hill of clothes on the floor with his curious cat eyes.
“What yer doin’?”
“Finding some clothes for you,” Paul replied without thinking. Tch. Wasn’t that obvious? Then, amidst the hassle and embarrassment his brain actually stopped for a moment to think and realization sank in like a boulder. “What?! You can talk?!”
“‘Cuz I can talk,” Daryl retorted, his voice taking a higher pitch than usual. It sounded odd,… younger. “When couldn’t I?”
“I thought… Never mind.”
Coming back to his bed, Paul handed him a navy-blue shirt, a pair of dark jeans and a pair of black boxers. He looked anywhere but Daryl’s toned chest, uncovered and presented to his sight like a tantalizing treat. Daryl eyed the articles with suspicion.
“These haven’t been worn yet,” Paul felt the need to assure him. “A size too big for me.”
With that, he left the clothes on the bed and strode out of the door, giving Daryl his privacy. He closed the door behind his back.
The sky was still a peach-lavender hue. Paul leaned against the side of the trailer in only his cotton white shirt and sweatpants, taking quick, shallow breaths to calm his racing heart and clear his head. He supposed he ought to be thinking because this was the kind of situation that required thinking but he just couldn’t. Occupying his mind was the image of Daryl sporting a pair of cat ears and it kind of effectively blocked all other thoughts. He honestly had no idea what he should say to the Alexandrian hunter when he went back inside the trailer. Ask why he had transformed into an animal? Why he had turned back into human, sans the ears and eyes? What, too straightforward? Should he beat around the bush then?
The door to his trailer creaked open and Paul took that at his cue to come inside. His eyes swept over Daryl, who was sitting with his back against the wall, his knees hunched up to his chest, and he found relief in the sight of the hunter fully clothed. Less distracting if they wanted, actually needed, to have a serious talk about what was going on here. He looked somewhat bashful. Paul’s eyebrows hitched up to see a long, black… tail relaxing on the mattress. There was a pair of scissors on the multi-purpose table by the bed.
Daryl followed his gaze and lowered his head to hide the blush blossoming on his cheeks. “Sorry, can’t keep that in my pants. Cumbersome.”
Paul sat down on the edge of the bed, shaking his head. “It’s OK. You can keep the clothes. They don’t fit me anyway.” He made a vague gesture to the tail, Daryl’s tail. “I think I deserve some sort of explanation here.”
“Figured ya’d figured out on yer own already.”
“No I didn’t. All things seem to point out to me that you are my – what, mangorath pet, which ranks top in my list of most absurd things of this year, and that is something because we’re living in the world where the dead don’t stay dead. How is that even possible, beats me.”
“Not yer pet,” Daryl bleated.
“Well your family kinda sold you to me as such. Sorry I took their offer.”
Daryl made a low growl in his throat. He was displeased, Paul could tell. Clearly that hadn’t been his idea.
“ ‘m a shapeshifter,” said Daryl after a stretched moment. “Means I can change into an animal and back.”
Oh. That was the straightforward answer Paul had wanted but not expected to get from the tight-lipped hunter. Again, from the time he’d gotten acquainted with him, Paul knew Daryl to be the type not to beat around the bush. If he could use five words to express something, he certainly wouldn’t use six. And the explanation he gave made absolutely no sense and perfect sense at the same time. A shapeshifter in a world where the dead moved around? Not too far-fetched at all.
“I understand what a shapeshifter means but not how you can do that and why you haven’t changed back until now.”
“Dunno how,” Daryl replied, shrugging. “Was born that way I guess. ‘s in the blood. Comes at certain times o’ the year. Can’t control it, can’t do nothin’ ‘bout it.”
Paul nodded sympathetically. “Involuntary shapeshifter, I see. It must be real inconvenient.”
“Ya bet,” Daryl snorted.
Paul recalled the time when they had run away from the Sanctuary together. If Daryl could change his form freely, he would have escaped by himself long before Paul jumped off the truck’s roof and landed in Negan’s territory. Paul wondered what good it was being a shapeshifter who was unable to shapeshift at will. So far he only saw drawbacks. But of course he wouldn’t say it aloud in front of Daryl’s face; the man didn’t need someone to tell him it sucked being the way he was.
A bit lost in his musing, Paul let his hand inch closer and closer towards Daryl’s tail, driven by a subconscious desire to stroke it – a habit he had sort of formed during the last week. However, Daryl was one step quicker: his tail curled and retreated behind his back in a flash.
“Sorry,” Paul mumbled, face flushed. “Just a habit is all. Were you aware of everything when you were in that form? Do you remember anything?”
“I remember bits and bobs but not everythin’. Somethin’ the matter?”
A sense of relief and deflation filled Paul up at the same time.
“You don’t remember some of your behaviors… like demanding belly rubs, chasing the squirrels, stealing meat from the kitchen, et cetera?”
A hint of red spread upward Daryl’s neck. He shook his head. “While ‘m in that form, sometimes the animal instincts take over. Nothin’ too embarrassin’?”
“No, never mind,” Paul said, scratching his head. “How long before your… your eyes and ears turn back to normal?”
“Takes some time before ‘m fully human, two days normally, three at most.”
“Your family, do they know about your… special condition?”
“Cut yer euphemism,” Daryl grunted. “Ain’t necessary. Rick an’ Carol found out, then Rick told Michonne.”
Somehow Paul could picture the three of them throwing back their heads and laughing like a scene in George of the Jungle, pulling a prank on their brother like that. His family loved him to bits, there was no doubt, but they also had a really twisted sense of humor.
“Well, in the meantime, you can stay here until you change back,” Paul offered. “I don’t mind having a roomie.”
Daryl’s cat eyes peaked through his long bangs, his eyes perked as of showing Paul had gotten his full attention. “Ya sure ya don’t mind?”
“It’s not like you haven’t stayed here before. Besides, I can’t shoo you out of my trailer looking like this, can I?” Paul laughed in an attempt to mask nervousness spiking in his stomach all of sudden. Get a hold of yourself, Rovia. It was just two or three days; surely you can handle being in such close proximity with him without making a fool out of yourself and trampling your established friendship. Right?
“It’s nothing, really,” Paul said, waving his hand. “Now, what do you fancy for breakfast? I sincerely hope it’s not squirrels because I can’t find any this early in the morning.”
“Yer ridiculous,” Daryl grunted, but couldn’t keep a tiny smile from the corner of his lips.
To be continued
I had a mighty need to write cat!Daryl.