"No, not that way!" the messy-haired sheep shouted, calling for the woman to stop, as he frantically climbed the cubes. She, too, was running in the same direction. As they went, Steve climbed also. At this rate, they would end up getting in each other's way. In order to prevent this, Steve began heading down a different route.
"Get out of the way, Katherine! I'm going to pull out that block..."
Steve stopped and turned around. The messy-haired sheep was holding the woman by her shoulders, and seemed to be giving her instructions.
"Hey," he called to him. "What's going on!?"
"What!? What are you talking about? We're in a hurry, here! I'm grateful for you helping me out so many times, but this isn't the time for th-..."
"Did you say 'Catherine'? Where is she!?"
The messy-haired sheep turned in response to Steve's words, seeming perplexed.
"What are you talking about?"
"How do you know Catherine? You called that woman Catherine..."
"Even you're going on about this? Katherine is Katherine. That's her name! The other one I know, too... But she doesn't matter right now."
"How the hell is she Catherine!? She's clearly white. Are you saying this is just a coincidence? That the Catherine I know is... No, wait..."
'Even you're going on about this'? Catherine. White. The words reverberated inside his head. He was familiar with this exchange. He'd had it before...
"Are you Vincent?" Steve asked cautiously.
He appeared to have arrived at the same conclusion.
"Are you Steve!?"
"Yeah... But if you're telling me that's Catherine, then... why does your 'Catherine' look different to me, too?"
"This really isn't the time to be talking about something so complicated!"
"Catherine! It's me, Steve! Is it really you!?"
Steve pushed Vincent aside, approaching the bespectacled woman. She let out a squeak, then hid herself behind Vincent once more.
As soon as he heard her voice, Steve instinctively knew - it wasn't her. This wasn't the Catherine he knew.
"What the hell... This isn't what I heard..."
He staggered and retreated. Vincent reached out his hand.
"Hey, are you okay? What are you talking about?"
"Is there more than one Catherine...?"
Events from the real world flooded his mind one by one, shifting.
The act of treating teeth was sexy, Steve thought. He had been a dentist for almost twenty years now, but his feelings on the matter had never changed. He never felt this way when treating a man or an elderly person, of course, but it was another story when his patient was a woman.
They reacted with sensitivity to the movements of Steve's fingertips, frowning faintly. Their eyes narrowed in response to the pain. Their whole bodies tensed and relaxed, tensed and relaxed, sometimes twitching slightly. Steve wore thin, disposable gloves, but he was always touching their mucous membranes, applying gentle pressure to the insides of their mouths and cheeks and gums.
Steve looked down at Catherine - his and only his Catherine - once more. Lying there on the examination table, she was at her most defenceless. Her arms and legs were limply splayed out, her perfectly-proportioned chest moving up and down. Steve moved his face so close to her chest that he could feel her body heat.
He wanted to touch the plump thighs peeking out from under the hem of her dress. In the past she had taken Steve's hand and guided it under her skirt, but she appeared to have no intention of doing this today. She was teasing him. What a cruel woman she was, he thought from the bottom of his heart - but he wasn't annoyed. To the contrary, in fact; all he thought about day and night were her characteristic canines.
He wished that her treatments would go on forever. If he wanted to, he could conduct the treatment slowly, telling her she had cavities and filing down things that didn't need filing, but he didn't want to go that far. That would go against his absolute minimum level of ethics as a doctor.
"I'm done." He took the implement from her mouth and returned it to the counter beside him. He removed the cloth that he had put over her eyes. "Rinse your mouth out."
She did as she was told, sitting up and taking water from a paper cup into her mouth, her cheeks puffing out a few times. Then, with a cute sound, she spat the water out.
He faced her. She was so sexy. Her small, round face was framed by black hair styled into a bob. Faint freckles dotted her cheeks.
It had said on her ID when she underwent her first exam that she was twenty, but Asians look much younger than their actual ages, perhaps even childlike. To Steve, she looked about fifteen. She might even pass for thirteen. This meant that on the outside, she still looked like a child. Why, then, did she have him in such a fluster?
She grinned, hopping off the examination table. Even this alone made him go weak at the knees. She turned her back to Steve, reaching out for the tote bag lying on the counter.
"About later today..." Steve said boldly. "Are you going home already?"
"Yeah. I am...?"
She slung the tote bag over her shoulder, tucking it under her armpit.
"How about... hanging around here for a bit first? The rest of the staff have already gone home for the day. So, uh..."
He flushed, unbecoming for his age. The day she had taken Steve's hand, they had ended up spending several hours here in this room together. For a few days afterwards simply looking at the examination table had made his heart pound, his hands trembling while he worked. He had caused the other staff a good deal of concern about his health. And yet since that day, despite having come for check-ups several times, Catherine had never allowed him to do it again.
"Nooo can do. I've got plans today."
"Don't act so spoilt. Anyway, aren't you late today as it is? Your wife'll be angry."
It had been a mistake to let her see his ring on her first visit. If he'd known he was going to meet her, he would have taken it off from the start.
"I don't care about my wife. I don't need a skinny, chicken-boned woman like that... Yes, that's right, chicken-boned. These days, even her face looks like a chicken's. She crows and fusses about everything, sticking her beak in. From the moment she wakes up she's poking around! I'm so sick of it!"
"I guess I know how you feel."
She reached out a soft arm - yes, she had such soft arms; this Steve knew! - and stroked his hair.
"You haven't gone off me or anything, right?"
"Of course not."
She slid her hand down to Steve's cheek, then his neck, before finally grabbing gently onto his tie.
"Another time, okay?"
"What's the bill? How much do I owe you?"
"You don't need to pay me anything. I won't take your money!"
She smiled another angelic smile, swiftly moving away from Steve. As she opened the door she turned, waving happily.