A/N: This piece is Warg's fault. He PM'd me, and in the course of trying to explain to him my recent almost-absence from the site and lack of response to all of you, the writing bug bit hard. This weird little scene is the result.
A First Time For Everything
Can old dogs learn new tricks? From each other?
Neither of them had expected this development. Of all the possibilities their histories offered, this one had never occurred to them. But really, the age difference wasn't that great, especially at their advanced years, so why wouldn't they both still be alive?
Two old men, sitting together in the cool summer evenings, drinking sake together just as though they had lived quiet lives tilling their land or inventorying their shelves. A casual observer might miss the faded scars on the withered cheek of the smaller, the ghosts of past power in the still-broad shoulders on the larger, the ancient calluses on both sets of gnarled fingers and papery palms.
"I'd better be getting back."
"Won't you stay with us this time? It will be dark by the time you get home, and supper is almost ready."
As if on cue, warm aromas wafted from the kitchen, and both of them breathed in the promise of a good meal.
When had the tanuki finally learned to cook?
The bigger man rose creakily. "No, but I thank you." Thoughts of his own meal of cold fish and dried yams crept across his mind.
"Megumi doesn't like you climbing that mountainside by yourself—she says it will only aggravate your knees."
He leaned over carefully to retrieve his sake jug. "That one was a worrywart even before she became an old woman," he snorted.
Peering up through faded red bangs, the younger man spoke softly—a simple heartfelt plea, "Please, master."
"Baka! I've told you not to call me that anymore!"
But there was no edge to his voice, no heat in his tone. The idea appealed. His woodpile was low, and the nights were getting cooler—or at least, it felt that way to him these days. Maybe… maybe just this once…