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Don't Slap the Panda

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Tommy had managed to hide it from everyone for a long long time because he was embarrassed of his round shape. Adam was a wolf. Brian was a panther. All the other weres were so cool, and he was just this ball of fluff - round, big, very uncoordinated ball of fluff. All he could do was go down slides, eat bamboo, and look stupid with his round eyes and big belly.

He looked fat. That wasn’t cool at all.

He wanted to be a tiger, or a panther like Brian. He wanted to be graceful and fast and dangerous. Blergh.

*

It all went to hell because of the rose petals Adam decided to pour on him in Kiev.

Tommy liked Adam’s attention. Who didn’t? But sometimes Adam made things impossible. Tommy was allergic to roses, and the rash he got afterwards made him hide in his hotel room when the others went out to party.

This was just his life.

And it was so much easier to deal with shitty things like rashes when he was his were-self. So he was black and white and immensely huge when Adam unlocked his door and barged in.

Adam screamed, then slapped Tommy.

*

Tommy took a step back on his back paws, holding his cheek, looking at Adam accusingly. That was not the way to treat an animal who could bite your head off, and it was definitely not the way to treat a friend. His panda-emotions were hurt.

Adam stared at him. “Tommy?”

He nodded, still holding his cheek. His secret was out, and he wasn’t happy about it. This had never happened during the months on tour, squeezed inside busses or sharing rooms.

Tommy tried to cover his fat tummy with his other paw.

“I have a panda?” Adam said, beaming. “Wicked.”

*

Tommy lifted his chin up, glaring at Adam. He was not Adam’s to have, thank you very much. He was his own panda.

“You’re so cute. Can I pet you?”

That startled him. One of his girlfriends had liked to sleep in the same bed with him in this form, curled up next to him, cuddling, but it was rare that someone wanted to pet him since he never told anyone he was a werepanda.

He tilted his head, indignant.

Adam took a careful step closer, extending his hand. “Sorry I slapped you.”

Tommy bared his teeth, still pouting inside.

*

“Don’t be mad, baby. You scared me,” Adam said softly, and it was like sweet magic to Tommy’s ears. He flicked them a few times, then stepped down on all fours, moving towards Adam who stood still, waiting.

He pressed his face against Adam’s stomach, almost knocking him over, and Adam pushed his hands into Tommy’s fur. “You’re so soft.”

Tommy let out a satisfied rumble.

“Oh my god, let me look at you.” Adam grabbed his cheeks and pushed him back, staring at him. “You still have your eyes.” There was an enormous amount of love in those words.

*

Tommy sat down and grabbed at Adam, pulled him into a hug against his furry body, holding him tightly. He wanted to add a few words like: mine, boo, and forever, but he settled for growling. He didn’t care that Adam couldn’t understand. He just rocked them both, loving the fact that he was the bigger one for the first time ever. He could smother Adam with hugs.

“You really love me?” Adam said with a satisfied grin. “You adore me.”

Tommy nodded, burying Adam’s face in his neck.

“Do you have any idea how cool this is?” Adam muttered.

*

Tommy had no idea about coolness. He had always thought he was an awkward panda, not cool at all. He nuzzled Adam, listening.

Adam grabbed him into a tighter hug. “I can take you to the spring festival.”

Tommy was so shocked he shifted, Adam’s weight toppling them over. Adam stared at him, his elbows on either side of Tommy’s head. “No,” Tommy said, also realizing in that moment that he wasn’t wearing anything. That made him blush hard.

“Yes. Of course yes.”

“No, Adam.” He tried to get away, but Adam was bigger, stronger, heavier.

He shifted back.

*

“No, no, no,” Adam said, grabbing his ears. “Turn back. We need to talk.”

Tommy shook his head, trying to get Adam to let go, and that made Adam lose his balance and he elbowed Tommy in the nose.

For a few seconds, Tommy felt like they were fighting because he was trying to get away and Adam was trying to hold onto him, but then they settled down, staring at each other.

“Why wouldn’t you come?” Adam asked, sounding concerned.

Tommy sighed, then turned back to his human self. “I don’t want them laughing at me.”

Adam looked shocked.

*

“Nobody would laugh at you. Pandas are the cutest things ever.”

“I’m a clumsy fat bear.” He averted his eyes, not wanting Adam to see how real this was to him.

“Oh my god, you really think so.” Adam sat up and pulled him into his arms. “Please don’t.”

Tommy poked at his stomach. “It’s bad enough as it is.”

“No attacking perfect things,” Adam said, grabbing Tommy’s hand and pulling it close to his lips. “I’ll show you. They’ll all love you.”

“I’m allergic to flowers,” he said a little desperately. “I’ll get a terrible rash in the field.”

*

“See?” Tommy pointed at his throat where one of the rose petals had touched him. “I’ll be red and blotchy.”

Adam actually pouted. “I just found out you’re a were, and I can’t take you to our biggest fair of the year? Not fun.”

“I’m sorry,” Tommy said carefully, testing the ground. He never wanted to disappoint Adam. “You can tell anyone you like if that helps...”

“I can?”

“Yeah, and I can come to the afterparty if you really want me to.”

Adam pulled him into a tighter hug. “You’re the bestest panda ever.”

Now he felt like beaming.

*

Adam stood up, pulled a blanket off the bed, wrapped Tommy in it, and sat down in the armchair close to the window, pulling Tommy into his lap.

They sat there for a while not talking, and it should’ve been awkward. Tommy was still naked under the blanket, and he was blotchy with rash, and Adam knew he was a fat bear. It should’ve been horrible, but it wasn’t. He just felt content so he curled closer and rested his head against Adam’s shoulder.

“I like your were-shape,” Adam said suddenly, and Tommy winced. “You’re like a plushie.”

Tommy growled.

*

He could tear things with his teeth. He wasn’t a soft toy. He wasn’t cuddly. He wasn’t... He rubbed his nose against Adam’s neck. It didn’t matter. Adam liked him, liked his panda-side too. It wasn’t so bad.

Adam kissed his cheek. “You’re cool and cuddly. You can be both.”

“I want to be cool and dangerous,” he muttered against Adam’s skin.

“You can’t be. Sorry baby.” Adam laughed. “What you are is pretty unique, though.”

Tommy huffed.

“I’ll show you. You shouldn’t have hidden this from me, from us. We love you.”

“I know.”

“I’ll show you,” Adam whispered.

 

The End