Josh truly valued his friendship with Tyler. The two constantly hung out after being introduced through a mutual friend months ago and since then their own friendship took off like a rocket. Tyler was rather particular about who he liked and Josh felt special to say he was one of the chosen few Tyler willingly spent time with. You see, Tyler had a secret that not many were privy to and very recently had to come clean to Josh.
It’s not to say that Josh didn’t realize something was different with his new friend, it’s just that he had some...qualities about him that might be construed as a little odd. He loved to sleep, always wore some kind of hat or beanie, had random bursts of energy that Josh liked to label as Tyler ‘having the zoomies’, he could hear even the smallest of sounds, and he loved to be warm. Literally, sunlight and practically on top of Josh the 'human radiator' as Tyler called him were his go to relaxation spots. Looking back, these were not unexplainable traits, just, peculiar.
On the night that Josh learned of Tyler’s secret, it was like any other night. The pair sitting on a couch watching a movie and Tyler was almost falling asleep. His eye would droop, his body curled in on itself and Josh thought it was a cute sight. Taking his phone from his pocket, Josh leaned in to snap a cute picture, he thought he heard Tyler making a funny sound. He leaned in further and sure as hell, he heard what sounded like a light purring gently rumbling from his friend’s chest.
Josh thought it was an odd sound to make, unaware humans could even make such a noise and that was when Tyler snuggled further into the couch, losing his hat in the process and out popped a pair of ears. Blinking half a dozen times to try to correct his vision, Josh could see very clearly that his friend had catlike ears on top of his head, tall and proud. His curiosity made him want to reach out and touch but he wasn’t so sure that was a good idea. It made sense now, what if Tyler was embarrassed by them, and that’s why he wore hats all the time? Thinking it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission, Josh slowly reached out to touch one of the ears, sliding down to pet and scratch behind, just like how a cat would like it. Tyler reacted by leaning into the touch and purring even louder.
Josh was not scared, he was not going to make fun of Tyler – he was fascinated. The quiet moment turned sour in mere seconds when Tyler blinked his eyes open and realized just what had happened. He sprung off the couch and recoiled into a cushion, snatching his hat back and slipping it over his ears faster than Josh could process.
“Hey, hey, slow down, it’s okay…” Josh tried to start explaining, reaching his hand slowly to Tyler.
Half-angry, half-startled eyes flicked down to the approaching hand and then back up to Josh, daring him to make another move.
He looked like he was going to bite. “Tyler, it’s okay, it’s just me. I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Why’d you touch? You weren’t even supposed to see.”
“I’m sorry, I should’ve known better. You fell asleep and you were purring and –”
“I what?” Tyler cut him off, still not fully relaxing.
Josh took his hand back, clearly not making any headway by trying to reach out. Maybe if he gave some space, appeared less threatening, like you would with an animal…
“You were purring. You looked super peaceful and I was gonna sneak a pic of you and I heard it. I was really confused at first but then you moved your head and your hat fell off and your,” Josh mimicked ears on his own head, not saying anything out loud just in case it provoked another bad reaction from Tyler, “they were sticking up and I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have touched. I was just curious.”
Visibly relaxing now, but not fully moving any closer back to Josh, Tyler snorted, finding something awfully ironic, “Well, you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat.”
Josh tilted his head in confusion as to how Tyler could’ve found that comment funny until he realized Tyler really was hinting at what he was hinting at.
“You mean I didn’t imagine it, you do have cat ears? Like, permanently on your head? And you can purr?” Before he could even stop himself from thinking the question, he blurted out, “Do you have a tail too?”
Rolling his eyes and standing up, Tyler dropped his sweatpants and Josh almost looked away for decency’s sake, until he noticed Tyler was wearing basketball shorts underneath with a hole cut out to reveal a goddamn tail. It was blackish-brown to match his ears and all puffed out in annoyance, flicking at the tip.
“Yes Josh, I have a tail. A tail and ears.” Pinching the bridge of his nose, Tyler closed his eyes and took a moment to breathe while Josh stared dumbfoundedly. “I was gonna tell you, I just didn’t know when. Not everyone knows though so if you could be discrete, I’d really appreciate it.”
Snapping out of his stupor, Josh looked up to meet Tyler. “Are you kidding? This is the coolest thing ever! I would tell everybody!”
Sitting back down in a huff, Tyler turned to face Josh, “there was a time in my life where everyone knew, and it was awful. I got made fun of, people would pull my tail or flick my ears, it was the worst. My family had to move states just to get away. I knew there were others like me, but I’d never met one, not in person anyhow. I’ve been on a few forums and made some internet friends but I haven’t felt comfortable enough yet to come out in public and show everyone. I’m just not ready.”
Josh noticed Tyler’s ears hanging low and could see that his past had really affected him. “Then of course I won’t tell anyone. It’s your secret, not mine.”
“That doesn’t mean I won’t pester you and have a million questions.”
Tyler groaned and fell back into the couch cushions, mumbling a ‘go ahead’, prepared for the worst.
“Do you hiss?”
Tyler’s ears perked up and for some reason, that made Josh’s heart jump, probably because it was so damn cute. “That? That is the first question you have? Not can I pet your tail or something?”
Josh looked away shyly, “Well, I already scratched behind your ear and you freaked out so I wasn’t gonna ask that, not right now anyways.”
“Oh, I guess so.” Tyler felt his ears sink in embarrassment, ashamed at his outburst. It wasn’t really Josh’s fault. He didn’t know Tyler would behave like that. “To answer your question, yes, but I have a pretty good hold on it, unless I want to do it. I catch myself growling sometimes too.”
“Nice. What about your eyes? Can you see at night?”
“Pretty well yeah, I’m quick to catch onto any quick movements too,” Josh opened his mouth before a hand was clamped over it, “and no, I don’t like to play the catch-the-red-dot game.”
Josh smiled behind the hand because his best friend knew him well enough to know his follow up question.
“This explains the love of heights then as well. You’re always climbing shit…do you ever get stuck?” Gasping, Josh quickly followed with, “DO YOU ALWAYS LAND ON YOUR FEET?”
“So many stereotypes…but I’d say yes for the most part? I’m naturally nimble so I don’t fall often.”
Tyler hummed and relaxed into the couch once more, his sense of dread and danger long gone, now replaced with a peaceful silence other than the remainder of the movie dully playing in the background. It was nice to have his ears and tail out like he would at home or in front of his family. It muffled his hearing having them tucked in a beanie and it was very uncomfortable to have to sit with his tail tucked away all day but he couldn't bring himself to have them out around other people just yet. Other than Josh now of course. His tail was gracefully resting on his lap and his ears flicked whenever he heard a noise outside and from the corners of his eyes, he could feel Josh’s own eyes on him every now and then. He was sure the rest of the questions buzzing in his friend’s head was driving him nuts but out of respect, was trying to hold off. The flood gates would open again he was sure, but Josh was trying his best to be polite.
Breaking the silence, Tyler spoke out, “I knew I could trust you.”
Blinking away his whirling thoughts, Josh perked up at Tyler speaking to him. “You what?”
“I knew I could trust you to not hate me. To not run away or make fun or rush to tell others. I do okay with people in general but I don’t get close to everyone…I just have my special few.” Looking sideways Tyler could see he had Josh’s full attention. “You’re one of ‘em dude.”
It was no secret to anyone that Josh wore his heart on his sleeve and was never afraid to show emotion. The teary-eyed, heart swelling, lump-in-throat response was exactly what Tyler expected. “Ty, I seriously might cry right now and I kinda wanna hug the shit outta you.”
“I suppose that’d be alright.”
In a split second, Tyler was engulfed in Josh’s hold, warm and safe. He was a good choice in companion.
Without letting go, Josh had one last request. “I know you didn’t like it the first time, but I think it was cuz I caught you off guard. I really like cats,” Tyler chuckled and interrupted, “I know, I’ve seen your Instagram.”
Without missing a beat, Josh continued, “and you’re my best friend, who is kind of a cat…person. Can I pet you now? Like, we’ve cuddled as bros before, but like, now, I kinda wanna pet your hair and ears? Is that a weird question? I’ve never thought I’d ask anyone that.”
Sitting back, Tyler gave Josh a once over. “I’ll make a deal. If you don’t tell anyone, at least until I’m ready, then I guess that sounds pretty nice.”
To say Josh looked like a kid on Christmas would be an understatement. Before Tyler could react, the other boy was on his feet sprinting away. “I’ll be right back!” He shouted over his shoulder, running off down the hallway.
Upon his arrival, Tyler noticed Josh changed his clothes to match Tyler, a soft t shirt and a pair of sleeping shorts. “I wanted to be super comfy.”
Tyler snorted and rolled his eyes. “If you say so man.”
Pulling a blanket off the back of the couch, Josh leaned in such a way to invite Tyler to half lay on his chest, “C’mere.”
Josh’s cuddles were some of Tyler’s favorite things and now that he was being completely honest with him, he decided that this situation was not weird at all and climbed right into Josh’s arms. Once settled, Josh tentatively reached up to run his fingers through Tyler’s locks, slowly and gently. The younger allowed himself to close his eyes and enjoy this for what it was, tilting his head into Josh’s palm when he began to lightly scratch his ear.
“So you do love it.”
“Shut up and don’t stop.”
Josh’s chest rumbled with a low chuckle, continuing to massage Tyler’s scalp, earning a gentle purring in return.
The first movie had ended but Josh had no plans of stopping this cuddle session, so he was fast to select another. Tyler never even noticed as he was at this point entranced and on the brink of falling asleep, of which Josh wouldn’t mind. Tyler was too damn cute.
Josh felt Tyler tighten a grip on his upper thigh and then release right after and didn’t think anything of it until it happened again, then again, slow and steady. It finally dawned on him what Tyler was doing and Josh about wanted to cry from the cuteness.
“Tyler, are you kneading my leg right now?” He asked through a sleepy grin.
“It’s a habit Josh, leave me alone.”
“It’s so fucking adorable, I can’t stand it. You’re making muffins on me.”
“They’ll be danger muffins if you aren’t careful.”
A lightbulb went off in Josh’s head and the inevitable question blurted out, “Wait, can you do that? Can you grow claws?”
Without even opening his eyes, Tyler mumbled his annoyance, “No you idiot, but I can bite.”
“Oh, okay.” Thinking that was that, Tyler almost tipped into that land of sleep. “Do you like dogs?”
“Shut the fuck up, Josh.”
Josh did indeed stop asking questions and just let the quiet moment sink in. But tomorrow, tomorrow he wants to know everything else about his best friend.