I can't get close if you're not there

POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:02 pm

--

Pascal did not often pay attention to the comings and goings of the others in his pack. He didn't have as strong a concept of time to notice when someone wasn't around for a certain number of days, and most of the time it just wasn't important. On his adventures, he recognized a few friendly faces, but it was only Mama's beaming, snowy-colored face that he truly expected to see every day.

However, the young male was not -- in spite of his "strangeness" -- absolutely clueless. He didn't spend a lot of time with his father, since Silvano was the King like in the beautiful stories Mama told, and that meant that he was very busy. But he felt secure when his father's musky odor filled the corners of the hotel room where they all lived, and he'd noticed that it had begun to fade away. As fickle as the perception of time was, he knew that it had been a long time since he had seen the tall, kingly man.

And so, when he caught a whiff of a fresh scent, the stocky wolf yelped in surprise and began to gallop after it. His movements might have been considered clumsy, without the grace of hunters and warriors, though he was almost fully grown at a few months shy of a year old. Arctic paws were still a little too big, and his frame big and square, but he didn't stumble as he ran. His nose nearly scraped the top of the grass as he chased the trail, and he put on one huge burst of speed.

Papa!

Mismatched eyes wide, muddy brown and grey fur tousled, a twig sticking out of his mane and all four legs splayed as he skidded to a halt, Pascal stared up at the large and toned form of his father. He sniffed vigorously, able to detect hints of strangeness in his fur -- things that were different and unknown. Dark brown ears fanned forward then lay back, and his plush tail fell into a rather lively wag even as he continued to gaze up at his father. He lacked words to say now, and only stood and let the whole of his body quiver with the sweep of tail. He stared, and after a moment expressed his happiness with a tongue-lolling grin.

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POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:10 pm

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He came home, finally. It had been a long journey, made longer by the fact he had been agonizing over himself. He had not wanted to leave, the fathering instinct in him demanded that he stay for the children. But his obligation to his mate, older children, and pack far outweighed his need to support pups that were perfectly well off without him. On the one hand, it saddened him that he was not as necessary as he had thought he would be, but was happy to be allowed to be included in their lives.

But he knew that the moment he came home, it was going to be different. He had stayed in Vinatta a good long time, and the place's scent was starting to rub off on him thanks to his close proximity to the place. Silvano was very self conscious about this, and worried that awkward questions were going to be asked. So he tried to steal away into the pack, riding Heritage as fast as he could to the stables. The thing he wanted to do most was take a long soak in the river, to get rid of the smell and the debris of travel out of his pelt.

Karma thought it was hilarious though, and led his youngest to him first. Silvano could hear the boy's voice before anything and was already dreading it. Pascal was different, far different, from Eugene, but he was still clever enough to figure out things were wrong. Carefully, the King turned on his youngest and smiled as best as he could at him. The boy seemed happy enough to see him, and there was no questioning in his eyes. "Well, hello, Pascal." He crouched before the boy, setting a hand on his head. "Were you a good boy for mommy?"

SILVANO SADIRA
Now, I've learned it's better living in the moment. Enjoy youth, cause it doesn't last.

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POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:33 pm

--

Whatever nuances of facial expression that might have hinted that something was wrong with the King were lost on Pascal. He only saw the smile, and knew that a smile meant that someone was happy. At this basic level, he decided that meant that Papa was happy to see him, and so his own grin continued to beam from his face -- still a bit pudgy with youth, but changing into something square and almost handsome. His tail continued to sweep behind him, his rump wiggling from side to side with the motion.

Silvano crouched down and reached out to touch him -- and Pascal let him, his tail slowing. He trusted his father, though his skin crawled if anyone not of his family tried to touch him. He couldn't pinpoint exactly why if asked, but most of the time he felt things and he went with them. In this case, he bonked his head forward against his papa, enjoying the pressure.

Were you a good boy? Pascal echoed, and after a thoughtful pause confirmed, I was good. He hadn't done anything bad -- or at least he hoped he hadn't! His head continued to press against the man's hand, his eyes searching somewhere amongst the grass below his pale-colored toes. Mama showed me the words in the books. I know some of them now.

He seemed to search for his words in the grass at his feet, and tilted his head so one green eye could stare at his father. You were... gone, he said, but had difficulty expressing why that was so important to him all of a sudden. He'd been gone but this time Pascal had noticed it, hadn't he? The tail that had slowed to an andante metronome tick faltered altogether now, and dipped low. His ears twitched back with some frustration. Were you gone on an adventure, Papa, or had an important King thing t'do? he asked almost hopefully, falling back into his fantasies. If it matched up with the good worlds he imagined, then nothing should be wrong or different, and he could go back to life as usual.

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POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:53 pm

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The boy did not push away or flinch from him as he had seen him do with other people. Pascal did not like it when anyone he did not know well touched him, even innocently. It was not much of a concern, except by how uncomfortable it had made him. Better, then, that Pascal had that flight instinct since he did not seem like much of a fighter.

"Good. I didn't expect anything different from my special boy," complimented the King, patting the boy's head before pulling his hand away again. There was no need to keep up with it. Pascal could change his mind any moment and shy away from his father's affectionate hand. And the boy's next question startled him a little bit. The boy's green eye was inspecting him, so like his own eyes. The other was all Giselle's. Perhaps it was better that Pascal looked at him with a green eye and not the blue.

Silvano's smile had faltered but returned, still wide enough to make things seem unchanged. "I'm sorry, Pascal, if I was gone that long. I had some important daddy business to take care of." His voice faltered at the word 'daddy'. It was hardly a lie but it still felt like a deception to his youngest son. But the boy would not understand if he had even bothered to tell him the truth. If he found out that he was going to have siblings, he would not understand that they were not his mother's until they appeared without her being pregnant. Did he even understand pregnancy? Silvano did not really know. The boy was slower, far slower, than Eugene was.

"What did you do while I was away? You said that Mommy taught you some words?" asked the King, both genuinely and to change the subject. "What did you read?" There was a true interest in his youngest son, who had felt a little neglected for a long time.

SILVANO SADIRA
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POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:12 pm

--

"Good," Papa said, and Pascal could feel the worry that it had been anything different slip away. He knew that sometimes what he did didn't match up with what everyone else did, and that sometimes it might mean that his parents lost their smiles and had to direct him to something else -- but that Silvano was satisfied and expected something good from him made him feel better and more confident about himself.

The reason that Silvano offered for being away was one that might have passed with a younger Pascal -- but he was curious, and hungry for knowledge even when he shied away from the unknown. He wanted to be a brave boy even if he wouldn't be a great warrior like Eugene was shaping up to be. He could still save princesses without being a Knight, which seemed far out of reach to the slow Seigneur, or at least Mama had assured him so. He was made of sweeter and gentler things, but he still wanted to learn. He wouldn't be held back by things that he did not understand.

And so he pressed the question further, something perhaps unprecedented. Where'd you go for...? he asked, but lost the word "business" even after it had been spoken and set his tongue between his teeth. Where? It smells like trees. He knew that, even if it was a different sort of trees than those that made up the forest fringing the pack's borders. He was afraid of the forest, the home of big bad monsters and shadows and night-beasts and loud things.

Used to being redirected to other things, whether a more appropriate behavior or away from a potentially dangerous situation, the brown-grey wolf did not falter even when the subject was changed to that of reading and words. He only grinned. I learned some words, he agreed. I know most of them well, but Mama helped with long ones, they're hard. I know my name P-A-S-C-A-L, he recited, and pricked his ears at the more specific question, his tail beginning its wild thrashing once more. If there was one subject he was ready to speak about at length, it was the stories Giselle told.

It was a story with three daughters, and one of them wanted a rose, Pascal said, paraphrasing the opening to Beauty and the Beast roughly. The papa was a merchant, and he got lost in the woods -- a sort of shudder, here -- and then he found a hidden palace. He picked the most beautiful rose from the palace gardens. His speech grew more eloquent, half an echo of the words he stumbled over prior with Giselle gently reading to him in her singsong voice, and half mustered out of pure passion for the tale. But we stopped, because a Beast wanted the merchant to die for taking it. He rolled his head and huffed with a bit of embarrassment, the woosh leaving his mouth. We'll try again tomorrow, he said -- because he did want to get to the end of the story, even if the Beast was so frightening!

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POSTED: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:35 pm

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The boy was not shaken as much as he had hoped, and it surprised him. Pascal was getting to be a lot smarter lately. Was this his growth spurt, now that he was growing up? Maybe he was just a bit slower, but still just like the rest of them, for all of his little quirks. It was all that a father could hope for, since little else had made sense to him about the boy. "There were a lot of trees, woods, and things," he offered absently, trying his best to make it seem unimportant. Pascal seemed to understand more than Silvano ever thought.

Giselle always had more eyes for Pascal, but he had always needed her love and nurturing far more than Eugene. It did not surprise him at the awe in his voice when he spoke of his mother at all. It made Silvano smile, for all the guilt in his heart. His grin broadened as the boy spelled out his name. It was a proud moment to see his youngest son grasping more of the world that had seemed so easy to him as a child and so easy to Eugene. "You're going to outread the rest of us someday. Mommy did a good job teaching you, didn't she?" he said softly, eyes wandering from the boy to the direction of the Hotel. He would have to talk to her soon, about this all.

The story he told was one he was familiar with. Beauty and the Beast. Silvano nodded along with the boy and frowned when he admitted they were going to have to try again to finish it. "You shouldn't be afraid of the story, Pascal. It isn't real and it isn't going to hurt you," he said seriously. Books were a way to get lost in another world, not a place where fear was allowed and would stop anyone. "If you don't finish the book, how will you know what happens or what the moral of the story is?"

SILVANO SADIRA
Now, I've learned it's better living in the moment. Enjoy youth, cause it doesn't last.

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