Warm Welcomes and Hard Questions

For Yvonne + Torabera

POSTED: Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:51 pm

Tora carefully double checked his preparations, smoothing out the blanket he had spread over the overgrown "golf course" (or at least that's what it had been according to the crumbling signs he had read, but it just looked like a big field to him) and ensuring their was enough food. He had worked hard to ensure that there was a good spread, fish, rabbit, elk and squirrel arranged on wooden plates he had hewn himself. There was also fresh water for Tiny Tora as well as wine and currently boiling tea for the adults. Or at least most of the adults. He had cups for himself and Yvonne and even a couple bowls for Runner and Barton if the hawk decided to return after sending the invitation, but that still left out one person. Akio had decided to make an appearance, the dead man hovering idly a foot or so off the ground while Tora prepared.

<"Why are you here?"> Tora asked in their native tongue. Ostensibly the question referred to this little luncheon but there was a barely hidden subtext. Why are you on Earth? Why didn't you stay dead? Why must you torment me? He hadn't gotten a satisfactory answer ever since his father had come back in January. <"Why wouldn't I be here? Yvonne was kind enough to name her child after you of all people, and I want to meet him.>" Tora bristled at the elder Tanaka's words , clenching his fists. <"Why must you always belittle me?"> he hissed.

"<Because you won't do anything about it. >" Akio shot back. "<Even before I became incorporeal you were always too much of a coward to stand up against me. That was my biggest failure, letting you grow up to be weak." Tora hissed angrily, ears flattening against his head. "<You bastard! I swear-" He was silenced by a sharp slap, Akio's ghostly palm leaving a stinging mark that forced him to shut up. "<You won't do anything and you know it. Now be quiet, our guests will be here soon.">

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POSTED: Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:28 pm

Yvonne had gotten the invitation and was a bit surprised. She had not seen Tora in a few months and his namesake was now officially weaned. Looking to her son she sighed and made her way to the location, him following behind silently. Ever since he started walking the boy refused to be carried anymore, showing his displeasure through wiggles and light nips. No sound came from him, at least none that she had noticed and she worried he may have no voice to use. Maybe meeting his namesake would get the young male to open up a bit more and speak? Or at least give some sound out that would lessen her worry.

Looking to the boy he met her gaze and wagged his tail. At least he seemed happy enough despite the frustrations of trying to get him to talk and getting nothing so far in return. He could understand and had even started following simple motions as indications of what he needed to do when she asked. Perhaps if he never spoke she could think of a way for them to communicate through actions. Hopefully, though he was just waiting to speak until...well, until something. Looking forward again, she spotted her friend and offered a smile "Hail friend, look at this spread!" she beamed and looked over all the food. Her son sniffed at the meat curiously then looked up to the two male's nearby. Pale eyes zeroed in on the apparition that was Akio, the small black male tilting his head in question.

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POSTED: Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:22 pm

Tora looked as if he were going to try and tear the ghost's throat out, hackles raising but then lowering just as quickly as Runner piped up. "Yvonne! Hi!" the little raccoon said as soon as she and her son came into view. Tora's companion scrambled forward to press against the mother's leg, striped tail dragging behind him. Tora took the moment to force himself to calm down, hating the way his father was able to get under his skin. "A pleasure to see you again after so long my friend." the man said back, a rare genuine smile stretching across his face. "Forgive me for not coming to see you sooner, I've been preoccupied." He turned to face the black furred pup, crouching down to get a better look at him. "And this is the one who shares my name?! He's so big! What a handsome boy you're growing to be."

When the smaller Tora sniffed at the meal his larger namesake stepped aside for him, making a small plate of meat scraps and lowering it to the ground. "Please, take what you want.' the samurai said to his dear friend. Akio watched the little creature focus on him, the one eyed wolf cocking his own head and remaining in the air. "Hello my little friend." he said gently, using a soft tone Tora hadn't heard in years. You're welcome to eat as much as you want."

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:09 am

Yvonne nodded and sat to look over the selection. Tora blinked and looked to his mother before eating. The blonde female watched for a few seconds before looking to her friend "He hasn't started speaking yet." Selecting some food for herself she felt herself frowning "I don't know enough about pups to know if that's normal..." she gave a piece of meat to Barton "Or if...it's caused by something else." Barton puffed up slightly and ate the offered meat. The hawk helped her keep a keen eye on the black youth, so Yvonne figured he deserved some treats.

"Oh" she looked to her friend "I was wondering if you would be willing to teach him how to fight? Me and my...partner both focus on hunting, and I think he should learn a different weapon besides bow and sling." She chuckled and pet her sons head lightly. Tiny Tora looked up and licked his maw, his pale eyes going back to Akio and he sniffed the air before approaching cautiously. His tail wagged as he investigated the two strangers and he gave them a happy grin. Yvonne chuckled again "He likes you both..." she could tell by his posture and ate her food with an eye on her son.

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:48 am

Tora was just about to mention unusually quiet the young boy was when Yvonne explained he had yet to say anything at all. "Oh, I see." he said, cocking his head curiously. He didn't know much at all about children but he had heard pups around Little Tora's age that were quite mouthy. He shook his head at Yvonne's frown, not liking the idea of his friend being worried. "Don't worry about, he'll speak when he has something important to say. Too many adults don't have that skill yet. Besides, you don't need to talk when eating!" He hoped that the pup was just quiet. He'd have to ask someone in the Little Court who had more medical experience than he did. For the time being he made a plate for himself, picking up a piece of a rabbit and chewing it.

The wandering warrior looked up at the question, swallowing the hunk of flesh and washing it down with wine. His expression changed to one of grim understanding, stooping to pour tea for him and Yvonne. "A sadly important skill." he said gravely. "Of course Yvonne. If he is willing to learn I will teach him all I know. My father will help me," Akio nodded at his name, more than willing to instruct the younger Torabera. The elder smiled at the mention of Yvonne's partner, glad that she had someone helping her out in some way. His friend had suffered more than anyone should have, she deserved someone to watch her back. Both Tanakas couldn't help but grin back at the little pup, his happy smile matched by two proud pseudo-parents. "What a lovely smile." Tora noted. "Oh! I have gifts for the two of you."

He produced two bundles of cloth, handing the much larger one over to Yvonne. Inside was a carefully carved wooden bear with black marbles for eyes, standing at about one foot tall. "For the mother bear." he said with a wry grin, unwrapping the second package. This one was a necklace of multicolored glass beads with a wooden bear's paw at the center. "And for the bear cub." He reached out to put it around the boy's neck but thought better of it, looking to Yvonne for permission. "May I?"

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:08 am

Yvonne chuckled and found herself even smiling again. She picked up the bear and nodded as her friend asked if it was okay to give her son the necklace. Tora sniffed at the offered item and opened his mouth as if to yip, but it just ended up looking like a bigger grin. The youth started panting and his tail wagged, showing that he at least understood that the item was for him. Yvonne looked to her son and sighed "I guess he really likes it..." Scratching her cheek she watched as her child sat still enough for Tora to slip the necklace over his head.

Once it was on, the pup moved around happily and even went into a pose with his paws flat and his but in the air. Soft grunt-like sounds came from the pup and he shook his head. Then he lept away and ran around the group happily. Yvonne found herself smiling warmly at the antics and chuckled to herself. At that moment she realized that those grunts were likely to closest to sound her son would ever come. It was a bit saddening to think her son may never talk, but that didn't mean he would be helpless. Her black bundle of fur and energy would know how to hunt thanks to her and Dalia, and thanks to his namesake he would know how to fight.

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:29 am

Tora gently placed the necklace around the young boy throat, glad that it fit with little adjustment needed. He picked up on the silent, beaming proudly. "I'm glad you like it my little friend." he said, scratching gently under his chin. His grunts were really endearing, a sign that little Tora didn't need words to express how he felt. And he didn't need need to speak to be able to learn. Big Tora was going to instruct Little Tora in defending himself as soon as he was old enough. "Oh, before I forget." Tora took back the bear statue and turned it upside down, palm pressed against the base. With a small twist a panel slid out of place, revealing that it was hollow.

"It's a concealed storage space! Can hide clothes, valuables, dried food, a knife, all kinds of things." he explained, very obviously pleased with himself. It had taken quite some work to hollow it out without ruining the outside. "Anyway, I have to admit something. I brought you here to ask for advice. About something... personal." he fixed Akio and Runner with pointed looks. Akio raised an eyebrow and looked as if he was about to say something but decided against, fading out of existence. Runner simply looked at his friend curiously before taking off into the woods. "You're one of my closest friends. What I'm about to say can't leave the two of us. Is that clear?"

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:50 am

Yvonne found the hidden portion of her gift amazing. When her friend asked if he could ask her something personal she nodded then looked to her son uncertainly. Tiny Tora had perked up and was staring where Akio had just been. The young wolf dog went to the spot and sniffed then looked around trying to figure out where the spirit had gone off to. Then he suddenly decided to go after runner, running full speed towards the woods. Yvonne sighed and signaled that Barton should follow. As long as the youth stayed close enough to watch she didn't mind the young male exploring a bit.

"All right Tora, what was it you needed advice about?" she got on her serious face as she asked. Part of her was keeping track of where Barton was, and on the black form that had halted near the edge of the woods, unsure of the tall trees. Barton was trying to distract the pup and succeeded in at least keeping him in one spot for now. Yvonne smiled gently to herself and was glad that the hawk was here, though this would have been a lot easier if Dalia were here or if she had left Tiny Tora behind. Oh well, too late now and the bigger Tora needed her help so she would do her best to split her focus evenly and give what advice she could offer to her friend.

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:11 am

Big Tora's suddenly serious demeanor lightened as his little friend looked about for the ghost. "He does that. Don't worry about it." he said with amusement. He watched the little pup tear off into the forest after a field mouse or a squirrel or some other small vermin, waving goodbye to Barton as the hawk followed. "It's good that Barton watches him. He cares a lot about the two of you." he noted, finishing up his plate and draining his teacup. "I'm sorry to make you spit your attention my friend, I just don't know who to turn to." There was an air of faint desperation in his voice, a sound he wasn't used to making. It was just another sign of how badly he was losing control of himself, his grip on reality loosening by the day.

"You know my father was murdered, as was the rest of my family. They were all killed when a rival clan ambushed us with mercenaries. I was the only survivor and fled here. I nearly drowned myself out of shame for not dying with them, and it took me years to get over the guilt of letting them die. And now years later the Court, my second chance at a normal life, is crushed by some murderous gang of bandits! I keep thinking that I'm cursed, people I get close to end up dead or hurt or scattered to the wind and I-

He paused and took a breath, trying to keep from ranting. "Every day it seems more and more like the only two honorable choices for me are to kill myself as punishment for failure to protect two packs, or become a specter of violence and hunt down every single person who even thinks about stealing. I'm know that I'm on the verge of snapping and becoming some murderous monster but what else there is to do? The whole world is dead set on hunting me and ensuring that I get no rest so why shouldn't I strike back?" He looked into Yvonne's eyes, his own periwinkle colored ones wide with a mix of hate and sadness. "I'm scared Yvonne." he admitted, hating the words as they came out of his mouth. "I'm scared and I don't know what to do. Do I keep fighting and try to hang on to some semblance of sanity, crushing these feelings deep inside until they burn a hole through me? Or do I give in and rip apart anyone who would dare do any wrong?"

Wordcount:436
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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:26 am

Listening without saying anything was hard, but Yvonne waited until she was sure her friend was done. Feeling her frown she thought it over, wanting to choose the right words to say. She would rather not lose her friend, but she didn't want to blurt out something that would sound selfish. Muttering in Russian she sighed and looked Tora in the eyes. "You could never be some murderous monster...like his father." Looking to her son she felt that deep tug of fear that her boy would be the same, but no...so far he had not made one ill move, and well he was still just a pup. She could teach him what was right and wrong.

Shaking her head she faced the older Tora "You have the knowledge of good and bad, and you protect others without thinking about it...I am sure what happened to your family wasn't your fault and the Court was definitely not." Moving she held out her hand for him "My mother would say...the past is the past, you dwell on it too much and it becomes your nightmare." she hoped she was making sense. "Don't live your nightmare Tora, if you feel like...taking your life is the only thing you can do that is good I will not stop you, but I certainly would miss you...and my son would likely miss you too" she smiled "There is good in your life that you can look forward to, so do that!"

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