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Title: The tale of the Spice Merchants and the Elf, chapter 17
Author: kira and Kat
Word Count: 2755
World: Roseburg, a town north of the capital city of Madrona
Main Characters: Luke/Little Hawk, Fierce like Panther/Lola, Black Dog/Eric, and Rabbit, all Elves; Shankar, Ashok and Sitara, Spicelanders.
Borrow: No
Summary: Farewells are said…
Author’s notes: In Madrona they are a few groups of people who are named after legendary as well as mythological people. Elves are such people. Elves live in the northwest part of Madrona; they live off the land like Native Americans and other indigenous people. They’re thought to be the descendants of hippies and other free spirits.

Special thanks to Kat for letting me borrow the Elves and helping me with this. Special thanks also to Kat for looking it over. Thanks you as well, for writing this with me! I had a ton of fun with, Kat! *huggles*




Out in the barn, Luke stood with the horses while Fierce like Panther methodically checked them while getting them ready to leave.

“I’m sorry,” Luke said softly.

Fierce like Panther paused, but refused to look at him. “It’s your life.”

“They need me here more than they do at home.”

“So you said,” she said dryly.

“Yeah…” Luke sighed. He hated how quiet she was. He felt she should be yelling at him and telling him how stupid he was being as she pummeled him to the ground like she used to.

Fierce like Panther was not going to make this easy for him, but by the same token, she was trying to make peace with his decision as it had already been made.

“Say something, damn it!!”

She turned and shot him a fiery look. “What the hell do you want me to say? You’ve made up your mind, I’m trying to respect your decision and we’re all trying to deal with it. You’re an adult. I’m attempting to treat you like one! Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”

“Yeah…” he sighed. “But I’m just so used to you whaling on me whenever I’ve done something you don’t approve of…” he trailed off.

“You’re happy here.” Fierce like Panther also sighed. For once she was trying to be understanding. Couldn’t he see that?

“Yeah… Well, as happy as I can be without you.” He shot her a pained look. Now that they were ready to go, Luke was having second thoughts about staying behind. He sighed again, his heart a mass of whirling emotion. Part of him wanted to stay and part of him wanted to go. Luke wanted it both ways, but was at a loss as to how to go about making that a reality.

Fierce like Panther narrowed her eyes at him. She appreciated the sentiment, but knew it would not do anyone any good if he got all wishy-washy. “Man up, Numbnuts.”

“I am!” He frowned.

“I swear for all the grief you give me, I should have sold you to that weird guy Black Dog trades with when I had the chance.” She leaned against the horse when he sighed. “Besides, even if you come back with us, you’ll always be here anyway.” It hurt her to say it, but he needed to hear it.

Luke thought about it and realized she was right. She was always right, annoying as it was. “Yeah… So it’s better I just stay put, hunh?”

Fierce like Panther nodded and went back to work, saddling her horse.

Luke moved closer to her. “Need help?”

His sister paused to look at him. “If you want,” she said, before going back to work.

“I do.” Luke moved to one of the horses and saddled it. Now that his sister had made her peace with his decision and seemed okay with it, he hoped Rabbit would be as good with it as she had.

Fierce like Panther relaxed. She let him help; knowing he knew what he was doing, so she would not need to double check his work. She watched as he saddled Rabbit’s horse. Her brother took his time with the horse, making sure everything was just right and she wondered if he was doing it as some sort of parting gift to his old friend. Fierce like Panther could not help the smile that tugged at her lips over that and she moved to bury her face in the horse’s neck, before her brother saw it.

Luke was getting misty-eyed as he put the bridle on the horse. He was doing a terrible job at hiding it, and Fierce like Panther, seeing it, threw a balled up pair of socks, she fished out of the saddle bag at him for old time’s sake. She hit him in the head as usual. “Hey!!” Luke cried as he whirled around to face her.

Fierce like Panther smiled.

Luke frowned, although he loved her for that gesture of “normalcy.”

Fierce like Panther went back to work, her heart feeling a little lighter. She knew in that instant that he would be alright without her. As hard as it was letting go, it was the right thing to do for both of them. She stood there, letting him double check the horses, even though they both knew she that was her “job.” Running out of distractions, she caught her brother’s gaze and held it.

Luke looked back and sighed. As much as he wished otherwise, he knew they had to go and that it would not be long now, before they left.

“I should get the others,” Fierce like Panther said, pulling him from his reverie.

Luke sighed. “Yeah…” He looked lost and bewildered, the way he did that winter when they realized they would be on their own from now on.

Recognizing that look, Fierce like Panther punched him in the shoulder.

Luke rubbed it. “Hey! What was that for?!” He glared at her.

“I told you to man up.”

“I am!” He pouted.

She frowned.

“Can’t you stay here?”

“You know I can’t.”

Luke sighed. “Yeah…” He made a face.

“But what?” Fierce like Panther heaved a long suffering sigh.

“I’m gonna miss you,” he said softly.

She lost some of her bravado at that. “Yeah,” she said just as softly. That she was going to miss him too was implied.

Luke walked over to his sister and hugged her. She hugged him back and they both knew she would deny it later, if asked. Giving her one last squeeze, Luke stepped back from her. “Look after Rabbit for me.”

Fierce like Panther snorted. “I already do.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah…”

He smiled at her. “And take care of yourself, okay?”

She rolled her eyes. “And you don’t do something stupid and get yourself killed while I’m not around to kick your ass.”

Luke snorted in amusement. “Okay.”

Fierce like Panther shook her head at him.

Luke grinned, because he knew if he started crying, she would kick his ass up and down the barn for not manning up. He tried hard not to sniffle and failed miserably.

Fierce like Panther surprised him by pretending she had not heard it. “I need to get the others,” she said, as she figured they had delayed the inevitable long enough.

“Yeah…” He sniffed. “ I guess we should lead the horses around front?”

“Yeah…”

“You got your horse and Black Dogs?” Luke grabbed Rabbit’s horse’s bridle.

“Yeah,” Fierce like Panther said as she led the horses forward. Her brother followed behind and together they brought them around to the front of the house.

Shankar came outside, when he saw them, to say goodbye. Sitara came with him. She hoped her husband and brother-in-law would not take it too hard when they left.

Ashok was busy following Rabbit around. The Elf was mildly annoyed by it, but he could tell they would be leaving soon, so he tolerated it as best he could. Ashok grinned at him and Rabbit heaved a long suffering sigh in reply. As far as he was concerned, the quicker they loaded Luke onto the back of one of the horses, the faster they could leave this place behind. Rabbit was willing to give up all the niceties like the bread and eggs, if it meant a fast getaway.

Black Dog, who was somewhat amused by the Spicelander’s antics, idly wondered if Rabbit still bit people. He chuckled softly to himself as he was sure once Ashok got over the shock of being bitten, he would turn around and bite back.

“Rabbit,” Fierce like Panther said. “Say goodbye to your little friend.” She grinned.

Ashok waved at him. “Bye… When are you coming back to visit?”

“Ummm…” Rabbit hedged. He was not sure how much he was supposed to be lying to these people. Besides, they had to know when Luke left with them, they were not coming back… ever.

Sitara briefly went into the house, returning with a small bundle. She walked over to Fierce like Panther. “Here,” she said, handing the other woman the bundle. “There’s some bread and cheese for your trip. It’s not much, but it’s all I can spare that you can carry.”

Fierce like Panther accepted the gift with a small bit of surprise and as much awkward graciousness as she could muster.

“Can we come visit you…?” Ashok said to Rabbit.

Shankar stood there, feeling awkward and very unsure about how this was all going to pan out, despite having convinced himself that Luke was going with his people. He took a deep breath and held it as he steeled himself for Luke’s leaving.

“We live very far away,” Fierce like Panther said.

“Oh…” Ashok blinked. “Like in the city?”

“No, farther.”

“Oh… like where the cousins live?” Ashok said, referring to his family that lived far away in Spiceland, not that Fierce like Panther would know that.

Fierce like Panther, who had no idea where that was, said, “Kind of…”

Ashok’s eyes went wide. “That’s far…”

She nodded at him.

Ashok smiled. “Bye.” He hugged her. “You’re not really scary…”

Fierce like Panther stiffened. “Bye,” she said tersely. She was very uncomfortable with the contact. She glared at Black Dog, who grinned back at her.

Sitara pulled at her husband. “Leave her be!”

Ashok smiled as he let her go. “Bye…” He hurried over to Black Dog and hugged him as well. “Bye…”

Black Dog patted him like he would a small child. “Bye.”

Ashok hurried over to Luke and Rabbit. “Bye, Rabbit…” He hugged him. Rabbit wriggled in his arms, trying to get away. Ashok, finding that funny, laughed and held on tighter.

“That’s enough, Ash,” Luke said when he noticed Rabbit was trying to bite him. “No!!”

Black Dog sauntered over to them, chuckling lightly. “Let the nice bunny go…”

Rabbit frowned. He could not wait to get out of there and away from Ashok. Still, Black Dog’s words rankled. “I’m not a bunny,” he grumbled under his breath.

“Okay,” Ashok said as he let go. “Rabbit is my friend…”

Black Dog chuckled, as he pushed the grumpy bunny away from his friendly friend. “Yes, Rabbit’s very… likeable.” He grinned.

Ashok nodded in agreement.

Luke chuckled. “Yup. You take care, you two, okay?”

Shankar came over to say goodbye. “Safe journey… I enjoyed our talks, Eric.”

“Yeah…” Black Dog slowly extended his hand. He wore his usual cocky grin, although it was a bit sad.

Shankar smiled. He took his hand and Black Dog shook it. “Bye.”

Rabbit had a similar expression to one he had in the barn when he was arguing with Luke.

Shankar was going to shake his hand as well, but Rabbit’s expression stopped him. He awkwardly brushed the side of his pants. “Goodbye, Rabbit.”

Rabbit nodded.

Luke turned to Black Dog. “Bye, Eric.”

“Bye…” Black Dog reached out and grabbed his wrist, pulling Luke into a manly hug. “Goodbye, Little Hawk,” he whispered.

Luke hugged him back. “Goodbye, Black Dog,” he whispered back.

Black Dog gave him a strong pat on the back, before letting him go.

Luke stepped back and tried not to look upset.

“Look, Rabbit…” Ashok said as he held out his hand. “It’s snowing…” He looked at his friend and grinned.

Rabbit looked up into the grey sky above.

“It’s snowing…” Ashok watched the tiny flakes fall. He tried catching them on his hand so he could show Rabbit, but they melted as soon as they hit him.

“Yeah…” Rabbit’s eyelashes fluttered when some of the bigger flakes fell on them.

Ashok laughed. “Snow bunny…” he teased.

Rabbit snorted.

“We need to get going,” Fierce like Panther said. She wanted to be long gone in case it started to snow heavily.

Luke sighed. As much as he hated to see them go, he knew there was no sense in delaying them further.

Shankar put a hand on Luke’s shoulder and leaned towards him. “It’s not too late to change your mind.”

“I know, but I’ve made my decision.” He gave Shankar a sad little smile that tore at his heart.

“You sure?”

“Yeah…”

Rabbit was having trouble leaving his spot. He could not believe Luke was actually staying behind. The hurt he felt over that was unbearable.

“Rabbit?” Black Dog called out to him as Fierce like Panther mounted her horse. He walked over to Rabbit and squeezed his shoulder, before turning and going over to his horse. He mounted it and walked it over to Fierce like Panther.

“Tara, can Rabbit stay with us too…?”

“Ashok, I think he needs to go home.”

“Oh… Bye, Rabbit…” Ashok turned to his wife. “Can we give him a puppy so he won’t be sad…?” he looked at Rabbit. “Rabbit, do you want a puppy…?”

Rabbit shook his head. “No… He, he wouldn’t do well on the trip back,” he said hollowly.

“Oh… Okay…” Ashok smiled.

Fierce like Panther was facing away from them, but she knew exactly what was going on. She sighed. It was just as hard for her to leave too and she wished Rabbit would stop making it more difficult than it already was.

“Come on, Rabbit,” Black Dog said. “It’s snowing.”

Luke sighed. He rubbed under his nose with the back of his index finger. It was getting harder and harder for him not to cry.

“Yeah…” Rabbit said as he gave Luke a look.

“She’s gonna kick your ass if you don’t move,” Luke said to his friend.

“Yeah…” Rabbit waited a bit, before turning to go. He slowly walked over to his horse and mounted it. He was also trying hard to keep from crying. Luke was his best friend and he had not even gone several paces from him, before he was already missing him.

Fierce like Panther gathered them with a look. She urged her horse forward, Black Dog and Rabbit falling in behind her as they left.

Luke rubbed under his nose again. His eyes smarted with unshed tears. He found it painfully hard, watching them go. He ran after them, and catching up to her horse, Luke held on to its bridle. His sister stared down at him. Teary-eyed, Luke looked up at her. “Bye, Panther…” he said, his voice catching at the end.

“Goodbye, Little Hawk.” She told herself not to cry and strong woman that she was, she managed to hold her emotions in check.

Luke made a funny little noise that he swore to himself was not a sob.

Fierce like Panther took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Your family’s waiting for you.”

“Yeah…” Luke looked over at them and back. “Try to send word if you can, okay?”

She nodded.

“Thanks.” Luke patted her leg. “You’d better get going.”

Fierce like Panther snorted.

“What?”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” she teased.

Luke snorted. “Why not? You’re always telling me what to do.”

“I’m older.”

“So?”

“Means I get to tell you what to do.”

Luke sadly looked up at her. “Not for much longer.”

Fierce like Panther took another deep breath. She held it briefly, before letting it out. “True, but for the moment,” she cleared her throat, “let me go, stay out of trouble, don’t get yourself killed, and for fuck’s sake try to behave.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He gave her a sad little grin.

She nodded and tried to think of something more to say, but could not. Clucking softly, Fierce like Panther urged her mount forward.

Luke took the hint and let go.

Fierce like Panther walked her horse forward, expecting the others to follow.

Black Dog did, but Rabbit hung back with Luke, who was crying softly. Rabbit wiped away the tears that spilled down his cheeks with the back of his hand. Unable to say anything, he urged his horse forward, although, he turned in the saddle to look back at Luke. He now was crying just as hard as his friend was.

“Bye, Rabbit…”

“Bye, Little Hawk…”

Luke wiped away his tears. He watched as Rabbit turned back in the saddle to keep from falling behind.

Shankar quietly walked over to him. He put his hand on Luke’s shoulder and together they watched as the others left. They stood there as the snow fell all around them until Luke’s sister and friends disappeared from sight.

Luke wiped his face. “Let’s go.”

Shankar nodded. The two of them turned and headed home.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
n0t_again
Apr. 16th, 2016 11:58 am (UTC)
*** Bookmarked for reading when class is over - can't wait! :D
kiramaru7
Apr. 16th, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC)
YAY! :D
ranuel
Nov. 26th, 2016 12:11 am (UTC)
Awwww, I really feel sorry for Rabbit but I'm happy that Luke decided to stay.

Now to upload this to FF.Net or Ao3?
kiramaru7
Nov. 26th, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah... but things do look up for Rabbit in the future. ;P

I wouldn't put over at ff.net since it's not fan ficcage, maybe Ao3. I'd have to ask Kat what she thinks about posting it there.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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kiramaru7
the Duchess of Crack! and the Queen of Fluff

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