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An Experiment In Hedgehog Physics

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He's not sure exactly how it happens this time. Despite many years of "envisioning the change" sessions with Jonny, he still can't predict or control his occasional transformations. The kind of stress that usually precedes a change varies from year to year – when he was a rookie, it happened like clockwork after games when he'd played like crap and needed to feel like he was being punished while simultaneously getting a reset on his mental state. But since then it's been worry about his family, bad breakups, homesickness, and so many other things (including nothing at all) that Patrick has basically given up trying to see the pattern.

As far as he can tell, there isn't one. But that doesn't help him now, stuck as a hedgehog in a laundry pile on Jonny's bed.

Patrick pokes his head out from underneath a pair of boxer-briefs and takes a moment to be thankful that this is clean laundry. Considering what a slob Jonny is, it's something of a miracle. Jonny is gone, out picking up their dinner, Patrick thinks. He's not quite sure. He's starting to settle into being a hedgehog; the slowing of his thoughts, the lack of worry about the future or the past. It's why transformations happen in the first place, something about the need for human brains to relax and be animals again every once in a while.

By the time Patrick climbs out of the pile of clothes, he can't remember anything that makes him anxious, and the smell of Jonny, Jonny's detergent and Jonny's bedding, surrounds him. He rolls a little, because why shouldn't he? He vaguely thinks that he should try to avoid letting anyone see him like this, but it quickly passes. His adventures in rolling like a prickly soccer ball bring him to the edge of the bed, and he stops abruptly to avoid falling off. It's a long way for a little hedgehog, and he has an instinctive response that tells him to avoid it. It does bring something into his line of sight, though.

Jonny's suitcase is open on the floor of the room below the bed. Patrick wrinkles his nose in a hedgehog frown. Suitcases are bad – suitcases mean travel, and travel means Jonny leaving for longer than a food trip, and Patrick doesn't want that. Jonny should stay in the warm bed with him, and never leave. Patrick's very clear on that point.

But what can he do? The suitcase sits on the floor, a menacing shape that Patrick feels the need to face by sticking out his quills. He puffs himself out into as large of a shape as he can manage, but the suitcase just stays on the floor.

Patrick pulls his quills in, another vague thought connecting the laundry on the bed with the suitcase – Jonny's packing, and whatever gets put into the suitcase will go with Jonny wherever he ends up going. Patrick hisses a little at the suitcase for having the audacity to leave with Jonny, but the most important part of this train of thought is that if Patrick can get into the suitcase, obviously he'll get to go with Jonny.

Patrick turns to look at the clothes on the bed. He needs to somehow look like clothes to get packed into the suitcase, but how?

Socks! As soon as Patrick sees them, he knows he's found the answer. It takes some doing, and he gets tired halfway through, but eventually he makes it inside the sock. It's dark and warm and smells like Jonny in there, and it makes him a little sleepy, so he wriggles up a bit and pokes his head out. The fresh air will keep him awake, and he'll hear Jonny coming back in time to hide himself in the sock again.

That's the plan, anyway, but it really is warm, and Patrick falls asleep, face up inside a sock on Jonny's bed.

+++

Patrick wakes up slowly, feeling the warm length of Jonny all along his side. He smiles, pushing into Jonny and turning a little so that he can kiss him awake. Jonny hates that in the mornings; it's the best.

Jonny is awake already, though, the fun-ruiner, staring at Patrick with eyes that are much too alert for Jonny in the morning. The clock on the bedside table says it's ten pm, so that explains why Jonny's awake, but it doesn't explain why Patrick's naked or why he took an evening nap.

"Welcome back," Jonny says, eyes crinkling as he smirks at Patrick. "I hope you're not too disappointed that you don't fit inside my socks anymore."

Socks? Patrick frowns, then groans as his hedgehog adventure, and his hedgehog plan to get packed into Jonny's suitcase, rush back into his memory.

"Fuck you," he tells Jonny, unable to hide his own smile. "You think I'm adorable."

Jonny kisses him. "Yeah," he says when they finally break apart. "I really do."

Now it's Patrick's turn to smirk.

"What was that, anyway?" Jonny asks, hand running up and down Patrick's side. It's distracting, and it takes him a moment to comprehend the question.

"Uhhh," Patrick says, blushing a little. "I saw the suitcase and I think I knew that it meant you'd be leaving? And, uh, I didn't want to be left behind."

Jonny stares at him, then lets out a sharp bark of laughter. "So, what, you packed yourself up for the trip in my sock?"

"Shut up," Patrick mumbles, hiding his face in Jonny's chest. "It made sense at the time!"

"Sure it did," Jonny says. "Kaner, you're going with me. We bought airfare together three weeks ago for this trip."

"Well, human me knew that," Patrick says. "But hedgehog me was worried."

"You didn't need to be," Jonny says, turning serious. Patrick looks up at him, at his flat hair with bits on the ends sticking out, at his dark eyes fixed intently on Patrick, and Patrick has a moment where he's not sure if he deserves this or not. But he's keeping it, no matter what.

"I wouldn't leave hedgehog you or human you behind," Jonny says quietly, letting the words travel the small distance between their mouths.

Patrick knows his face is probably doing something really stupid, like a big, open-mouthed grin, but he doesn't care.

"I'll remember that next time," he tells Jonny. And somehow, despite the limitations of a hedgehog's brain, he thinks he's telling the truth.