Required Talking
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    Anna awoke with a mean knot in her gut. She did feel like her relationship with Qelhatat had become something to be optimistic about, but it still felt very uncertain whether she’d managed to convince her out of her plan. Maybe she should’ve immediately started with asking. Maybe she should’ve begged, maybe she should’ve fought, maybe… Maybe going with her gut and offering what she was best at, honesty and emotions, had been the right thing. She couldn’t do anything but wait until tonight to know, now.

    She didn’t even have the time to wonder if she would even be able to somehow get lunch in her new form that her phone buzzed with a text from Sam. “we will bring you some food my lovely! also lucie you and i need to talk. xoxo sam”

    She put the device back in her pocket with an apprehensive smirk. Yes, of course they’d need to talk. Between the latest update regarding Qelhatat, and figuring out how the heck she was gonna simultaneously have a girlfriend and… Uh… An enbyfriend? What even is the word? She’d have to ask Lucie… She glanced back at her pocket as it suddenly hit her she didn’t even have her girlfriend’s number yet.

    Anyway, she waited. And waited some more… And didn’t want to waste her phone’s battery on playing the cheap rendition of Snake that was on it. Waiting turned to boredom, boredom turned to letting the cat slip out.

 

    When Lucie and Sam finally arrived with a water bottle, a bag of chips and a chocolate bar in tow, they stumbled upon a very busy Anna chasing after a loose screw she’d found in a corner of the floor. As she spotted their arrival, her dilated pupils slowly took back their newly usual slit shape, under Lucie’s amused smirk.

    “I can’t believe my girlfriend is an otaku’s wet dream.” The punk girl muttered before her smile drooped. “Actually, that sounds pretty creepy when put like that…”

    Sam took a seat on one of the chairs, handing Anna the chips she gently started munching on. “...So, polycule talk time?”

    Anna quickly interjected. “Wait, got something to say quickly first.” She shoved a few chips in her mouth before munching then downing what crumbs were left with a gulp of water. “I’ve got a chance to talk with Qelhatat again. I confirmed she’s planning to take my body tonight, but she could potentially show mercy, I think.”

    Lucie sneered. “Pfeh. Mercy’s a generous word here to be honest. Oh, she’s gonna spare you from something she shouldn’t be doing in the first place, lucky us…”

    “She’s probably not telling me the whole story…” The catgirl replied, tapping her chin with an index. “I know you’ve yet to meet her, so it might be hard to look past her actions, but her words don’t really match them? She’s been seriously so caring and curious…”

    “If you say so, Anna.” Sam said, crossing their arms as well as their legs. “I’m gonna give her the benefit of the doubt since you stand by her, but that doesn’t mean actions don’t speak louder than words.”

    “Thank you.” She uttered with a timid smile. “We can polycule talk now.”

    “Well then, first off, maybe deciding to date in the middle of a multiverse battle of wits with a body stealing cat queen that threw your identity in for a self-discovery journey wasn’t the smartest idea.” Lucie said, apparently having been mulling over the best way to word this sentence for the past few hours.

    “I know…” Replied Anna, hugging her legs. “But I love you two so much, I…” She trailed off.

    “Don’t worry,” assured Lucie, “we are not putting it on pause or anything. I was just making an observation that we’re not making this easy on ourselves.”

    Sam nodded in agreement. “The feeling is similar for me. Anna, you’ve become so exciting to be around since discovering yourself...” They let a gentle smile creep up their face. “I want to make this work, despite the circumstances.”

    Anna blushed and mewled.

    “Secondly, Sam, you’re a good friend but I don’t see myself date you.” Lucie continued plainly. “So, metamours?”

    “Fine by me.” They replied.

    “Wait, what does that word mean?” The catgirl asked, her ears at the attentive.

    Sam was the one to explain for once. “Partners of the same partner that don’t date each other.” They gestured a ‘V’ shape in the air using their two index fingers, connecting them at the bottom.

    “But… But then how does it work, in terms of… You know…” Anna stumbled on her words, biting at the claw on her thumb. “Like, time management, schedule? Like, each taking one day or one week, or something like that?”

    Lucie dismissed the proposal. “Nah, this is love, kitten, not a divorce. Just hang out with whoever you wanna hang out with or wants to hang out with you. If stuff poorly sets in place to the point we need actual rules it’s gonna jive bad with me anyway.”

    “Oh, speaking of! Wanna sleep at my house tonight, Anna?” Bounced off Sam with a smile.

    Anna retreated her neck in her hoodie, before nodding enthusiastically with a blush on her face.

    They replied with a thumbs up.

    “Oh woe is me, having to tolerate my parents alone.” Lucie theatrically uttered, overplaying a faint. “They’re gonna drag me along for family board game night, oh the horror. Seriously though, have fun Anna.”

    “Oh, and before I forget,” added Sam, rummaging through their bag. “You’ll want this morning’s lessons, right?” They pulled out a few notebooks and gave them to the catgirl, who put them down on a nearby table, being careful not to disrupt any of the professor’s work.

    “Thank you. Thank you both.” Anna gratefully said. “I love you for taking care of me.”

    “Careful, you’re really starting to sound like a cat!” Lucie replied, ending it with playfully sticking her tongue out.

    “Meow… Humans have fed me! I love humans!” Anna continued the goof before jumping to grab Lucie and Sam into a hug. The ensuing purring was not an intentional part of the performance however.

    “Love you too, Anna.” Said Sam, returning the hug.

    Lucie simply hummed in agreement, her hand caressing her girlfriend’s hair.

 

    The cuddling ended when they heard the door at the top of the stairs open, Mr. Robert having entered, with Jules trailing very little distance behind him.

    “Has the nap worked, Anna? Managed to get into contact with your tormentor?” The professor asked, walking to one of his work desks.

    Anna nodded. “I’m… hopeful. Still scared, but hopeful.”

    Jules raised an eyebrow, skeptical, but preferring not to raise the objection. “What’s the plan for the reminder of the week?” he asked as he took a seat. “Like, isn’t tomorrow your b-... Wait, is it yours or is it Sam’s we don’t celebrate?”

    The catgirl’s eyes went wide with surprise. Oh no. Her birthday. She already usually skimped on it, surely she couldn’t take on the stress of it on top of everything already happening? That would absolutely be a mistake, right? Yet, as the thought crossed her head… This was now Anna’s birthday, not Marcus’s. She liked herself. She liked being celebrated, it wouldn’t feel like a lie anymore. And she wouldn’t have her parents around to be control freaks, it would be between friends, between partners, between her own, real, chosen family. Maybe, just this time, it would alleviate stress instead of adding to it? Or maybe she shouldn’t take the risk… Or this was to be the start of her first actual year of existence, and she wanted to kick it off with ceremoniously casting away her habit of avoiding her birthday.

    She was now Anna, and Anna is adventurous, Anna tries things out. “Yeah… My birthday tomorrow.” She finished Jules’s sentence, scratching the back of her head and looking away. “Wanna do it this time around.”

    Lucie pointed at her with fingerguns. “The first birthday of the rest of your life!”

    “As long as we stay careful.” Sam said. “Where should it happen?”

    “Well, I still have my console at home.” Jules announced while grabbing a notepad from his bag, already formulating plans. “How about you let me organize all this? I probably have the least busy schedule of you all.”

    “Thank you so much, Jules. Thank you all.” Anna uttered with her voice weakening a bit, getting emotional over how understanding her friends were. Lucie grabbed her hand to bring her into another hug.

   

    Mr. Robert walked back into the discussing circle. “So, Anna, how about we test that strength of yours this afternoon?”

    “Strength?” Questioned Sam, curious.

    “I’m a super hero! ...Super heroine.” The catgirl replied. “I have buff hands now!”

    “Well isn’t someone lucky…” Started Jules before stopping himself. “Nevermind, what with the potential death tonight maybe not.”

    “Yeah, word.” The punk girl continued, an uneasy look on her face.

 

    The conversation wrapped up into a more relaxed direction, Lucie leaving first due to having gym classes and having heard rumors about the sports teacher being very demanding when it came to punctuality. A few minutes later Jules and Sam also left, the latter giving a hug to Anna before climbing the stairs.

    For the third time in two days, she was now alone with the professor in his lab.

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