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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Echoes of Wolves (Fic)

It was a rare treat, but once in a while, Tikaani smiled. Not a tight lip grin, that denoted unease or apprehension. And not the half-smile-half-smirk that was wry and almost sarcastic, but a real full smile. Tikaani had an incredible smile: a sheer ribbon of white that made his whole mocha face glow bronze. It made his blue eyes seem luminescent. I loved it when he smiled. It always made my day to see that bright grin, followed by that deep laugh of his. His smile could melt the North Pole ice.

Yet, it was somewhat bittersweet. He had that same bright, wild, untamed smile that Tigtuk had. Proud, and joyous. It seemed every day as Tikaani grew up he looked more and more like Tig. I couldn’t tell whether to be proud or melancholy. I should be proud; I should be happy to see his father's blood shine through him. Yet deep down I found it a bit saddening. To see the echo of the man that couldn't love him, that wouldn't love him.

The gods had an ironic sense of humor.

I saw Agna in him too. He had some of her mannerisms. The way he leans to the side in thought, or the way he hums to himself as he works. He had her laugh, deep and rich. He even snorted when he laughed too, like my sister. Yet despite those bits of my sister, I saw more of Tigtuk in him. He looked just like him when he was a teenager. Tall and lanky, like a wolf. Tigtuk moves like one, too, always with purpose and control. Always on the hunt. Tikaani didn't have that lupine kind of gait. His was meandering and haphazard. Yet when he was working or serious, I saw that wolf-walk bleed through.

In honestly, I was not mad at Tigtuk for abandoning Tikaani as a toddler. I understood his reasoning: it was better for Tikaani to be with a family that could give him the resources he needed. Tigtuk couldn't provide for Tikaani; giving him up was actually the mature thing to do. What got me mad, actually, was the complete disconnect. He never talked to me, or Maka, or Amana, or any of us. We didn't exist anymore. He didn't just abandon Tikaani, he abandoned us too. Here in the Water Tribe family was a big deal. To have him just completely ignore us...that was something we couldn't shrug off.

However...what took the cake was the fact that I heard from my niece, Lilu that Tig was hitting Agna. I don't tolerate that shit at all.

I didn't know all the intricacies of Tigtuk and Agna's relationship. I didn't pretend to know everything about them. Confronting Tigtuk wasn't my place as a woman. That was Maka's, but in the Water Tribe, accusing someone of domestic abuse was a grave offense. Maka and Tigtuk's friendship dissolved when Tigtuk gave up Tikaani. Tig never spoke to Maka and vice-versa. For Maka to accuse Tigtuk of hitting his wife, well I think everyone could imagine the kind of shitstorm that would come. It was better to play ignorant than open a can of worms. We didn't need a bloodfeud.

But I knew that it was plausible that Tig did hit Agna. Tigtuk always had a temper. It was like a fuse: once it you lit it, it ticked down until the bomb exploded. I was never afraid of Tigtuk's anger. Yet despite the fact his temper was short-lived, he was very violent. Many a time had he gotten into a fight with the other warriors of the north. Before he married Agna, he lost seven jobs in one year. All because he couldn't keep his anger in check. I thought Agna would help tame that wild wolf and while Tigtuk became more relaxed after their marriage, it kinda faded after Lilu was born, and completely dissolved when Tikaani came into the world too. Once again Tigtuk became feral.

However one always knows: wolves are never tame.

And Tikaani not only inherited his father's looks, but his temper too. Tikaani's temper was not out of rage nor was it explosive. It was out of frustration. Yet when Tikaani did get spiteful, I saw Tigtuk. Eyes narrowed, and his lips curved down into a sharp frown. I saw his father's wolf-like glare and the way he bared his teeth. Tikaani was rarely spiteful, it was also short-lived. One minute you saw the wolf-eyes, but the next minute Tikaani's face would soften and the echo of his father would be gone.

I knew Tikaani would become someone completely unique when he grews up. He may look like Tig, with that wild smile, long frame and sharp angular face. But despite that, he was still a different person. I knew never to let my own judgments of Tigtuk affect how I raised Tikaani. Tikaani was Tikaani, no matter what echoed through him. I loved what Tikaani was growing up into. Someone strong, proud, and full of unbridled joy.

And I still loved that smile of his. Tigtuk should be proud that his son had his gorgeous smile. That wild, wolf smile.

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