Just a random little thing to get back into the writing groove. School has kept me pretty busy, and I've been more focused on writing for my Fiction class, so Strangers After All has been on the back burner a little. This was just a quick little thing, but I wanted to give an instance of Tobias and Colby's relationship as father and son, especially since I allude to him so much in Strangers. I plan on doing more of these. I found that I love writing about Tobias, and he has a story of his own.
Hope you like this. I know it's not Strangers, but I felt like I had to put up SOMETHING. Strangers After All will continue, I prrrrrooooommmiiisssseeeeee. :3
"Colby Randall Crow," I said sternly, my eyes fixed on his mop of auburn hair as he stared at the ground, "Look at me, son."
He didn't budge. His legs hardly reached the ground as he sat alone bunched up on a park bench, his arms crossed and his chin tucked into them. He looked so small there, so scared. He knew he'd done something wrong. I knew, too, but what kind of father would I be if I didn't goad him into being honest about it? The other dads who came to pick their own kids up from school told me about what had happened, but like that made a difference. I wanted to hear his side of the story, and I think I trusted the words of my five year-old more than theirs. They weren't particularly kosher with me anyway.
His small tail was puffed, twitching back and forth in either fear or frustration. His mother's did that, too. There was a spot of bloody fur on his knee, and when I bent down to look at it he turned his legs away from my fingers in unison. He jerked his head when he made the motion, and I saw tears in his eyes.
"Colby? Buddy, what happened?"
Nothing. It must have been bad, whatever it was.
He scooted further down the bench as I bent to look closer at his knee, as if the seat wouldn't end and he could keep getting away inch by inch. To solve the problem, and to a mighty hmmph from my son, I plopped myself down beside him and kept him anchored to his spot. He tried to squirm out of my arms as I wrapped them around his tiny frame, but I didn't go to the gym everyday to be outdone by a cub. He grunted and groaned, wriggled like a fish, then gave up and started to cry into my side.
He tried to speak, and my ears honed onto his fragile voice, but all I could make out was babble.
"Colby, baby, I can't understand you. Look at me..." I lifted his head gently with my finger under his chin, "What happened, huh?"
He had his mother's eyes, that sparkling gold-flecked hazel. With the tears coming out of them it looked like I was staring into a shallow stream, pebbles and mica glistening yellow in the sun as the water wound over them. He sniffed, and I wiped the tears away, feeling the contours of the bone beneath his soft chocolate fur. He pressed his head into my palm, and I petted him, knowing that's what he wanted. He did the same thing when he had a nightmare and slipped into the bed between his mother and me.
"Th...they wouldn't let me...let me play with them," he choked.
I tilted my head sideways to look at him, "Why not?"
His eyes grew wide as if I should know the answer to my question, then his voice peaked like it did when he got excited, almost becoming a shrill squeak, "Be...because I look weird! They s-said I was funny looking and t-that I couldn't play! That I should go and eat sand with Cookie!"
Kiki, not Cookie, was our neighbors daughter, a fiery little Badger that liked to dig holes in their back yard. I guess she did the same thing here, although I hoped she didn't actually eat the sand. Besides that, my fur bristled at what else he'd said.
Colby was one of a kind. He was special. When I fell in love with his mother, I was going against everyone in my family who'd married other wolves, who said that interspecies marriage was something they couldn't understand. I became the black sheep, all because I followed my heart and married a cougar. It didn't matter, though. Only my family mattered, but a family was something we never thought we'd be able to have. It was impossible for my wife and I to have kids, after all. She was feline, I was canine. It couldn't happen.
Until she became pregnant.
By some miracle that even the doctors couldn't explain, we were going to have a baby. As completely overjoyed as we were, the doctors told us that it probably wouldn't survive, that the complexities of the pregnancy had probably left the fetus mutated and incapable of surviving. I couldn't help but laugh inwardly at them as the months passed and our child showed no sign of being a "mutant." We were worried about possible birth-defects, though. I mean, everything seemed too perfect. Something had to be wrong.
When I first held my son, I knew right away how special he was. He was beautiful. In every way I could have imagined, he was beautiful. He was a sound meshing of both wolf and cougar, and even as I cradled him against me and felt the warmth of his little body, I wondered how it had happened. How had we been blessed with this little cub?
Sandra, my wife, hardly let him leave her sight after the doctors allowed him to be left with us. She was terrified that they were going to take him and do tests on him. I didn't tell her, but they wanted to. They actually asked if they could test on my newborn baby, on my son. Luckily I'm pretty intimidating, standing 6'5" and with muscle to spare, so it didn't take more than a throaty "NO" verging on a growl to get my point across. I still watched him like a hawk, though. Call it a new paternal instinct or paranoia, but he didn't go anywhere without me tagging along.
Sandra and I knew he'd be faced with some hardship, that other furs may judge him based on how he came into the world, but we were to ecstatic about actually having him to care at that point in time.
I cared now, though. I felt like taking him home and never letting him near that school again, but that was how many new parents felt when their child gets picked on.
I swallowed the anger in my voice before speaking again, "What else happened?"
His furry brow buckled as he frowned, his voice losing the frequency that only us dogs can hear, "I didn't want to go, so I tried to play anyway. They had a football, and Joey even threw it to me." A smile broke through his gloom all of a sudden at the mention of the ball being thrown to him, his eyes lighting up, "And I caught it, dad! I caught the football!"
A proud grin split my muzzle in two. I mean, come on, how could I not be proud that my son had caught his first football pass? My tail even thumped against the bench. Then, just as quickly as it came, the smile flipped and the happiness turned gray, "But then Cavo got mad at Joey for throwing the ball to me, and pushed him. He fell down, and Cavo tried to kick'em."
Cavo was a genuine little spoiled-prat, the son of two of the most obnoxiously rich furs in our neighborhood. He was also a wolf, so he naturally tried to assert his dominance over everything, even his parents who bowed to his will and let him get away with anything. Colby never had that problem; either he was naturally a good kid, or the pack mentality was weakened by him being half cougar.
He nodded stiffly, "Yeah! He was gonna kick him in the belly, but I didn't let him."
Oh now. Not only was my son well behaved, he was brave, too!
"What did you do?"
His head drooped, "Well, I was going to catch his foot like they do in those Marital Parts movies, but I missed and he kicked my knee."
I smiled again, "Martial Arts, you mean?"
He nodded, smiling shyly.
"I'm proud to hear you protected a friend, sweetheart, but you should have gotten your teacher."
He looked up quickly, "But that's what Ricky was doing!"
Oh. He had an answer for everything. He never went through the "Why?" phase, instead figuring things out in his own way, what we called the "Because" phase. He was as quick-witted as his mother, so, naturally, she was ecstatic. I, on the other hand, would have rather heard "Why, daddy?" a million times than "This is why, daddy."
He dabbed at his scabbed knee, "Cavo kept pushing me, then he kicked me again." He looked up at me helplessly, "I didn't mean to, daddy! I really didn't!"
"Didn't mean to what?"
He tried to hide his hands from me, curling his fingers into fists, but I'd already seen the blood on the ends of them, "Oh, Colby. Son, you didn't."
He whined again, "I didn't mean to."
"Let me see."
He unfurled his little paws and I held his left in both of mine, slowly pinching the tips of his fingers one by one and unsheathing his nails. Yet another trait he got from his mom: razor-sharp retractable claws. Each one of his right hand had a feint red coating, black fur and tissue stuck to some.
He winced as I cleaned them off with my shirt, "Colby, how many times have we told you not to scratch!?"
"I told you I didn't mean to do it! But he was going to hit me!"
I paused mid-wipe of his index finger, "What?"
"Cavo was going to punch me. He missed, though. Then I just...it just...I'm sorry."
He pressed his little head against my side again, and I felt the snivels beginning to rack his body, "It's alright, buddy. I'm not mad. This time - this time what you did was okay. You were just defending yourself. Just promise me something..."
He peeked up at me, those big eyes sparkling again, "What?"
I shouldn't have laughed about it, but I couldn't help it, "Just punch him next time, 'kay? No claws. Less of a mess, but you still get your point across."
I beamed down at him until I knew he felt better, then squeezed him tight. He hugged me back. His little arms couldn't get all the way around me, but he did his best to squeeze as hard as he could, grunting in exertion when he reached his limit.
Ruffling his hair, I happened to see Dana, his teacher, standing next to the back door of the school. She was smiling at us, so I knew he wasn't going to get into any trouble.
"Come on," I said, "I think Ms. Smith needs to speak with us."
His face suddenly flashed with worry as he looked around and found her. He knew I wasn't angry, but getting into trouble with teacher was next on the list of "things not to do", and I don't think she'd done anything yet.
"Don't worry," I cooed, "It'll be fine, Mr. Marital Parts."
I planted a kiss on the spot between his perked ears, "I promise."