Hi guys! Sorry for taking too long, you know, life.
I really hope that this is an imrovement from the last chapter. *Grimaces.*
Only way for me to find out is by your reviews. ;) *Hint hint.*
It was nice to be with this Nita. The fun Nita. My Nita. It was like being taken back in time to my human life; before my brother died, before I killed Koda's mother, before I was first unwillingly turned into a bear. It was like the 'good old days' when we were just a couple of kids with nothing to worry about, and our top priority was to have fun. Everytime she laughed, that beautiful sound that glitters like melting spring snow, throwing her head back in amusement at her own joke, the brilliant sun highlighting auburn streaks in her otherwise raven hair, it made everything seem easy. Natural. Like this was the way things were supposed to be.
Her teasings bothered me no longer. And neither was she hurt or annoyed when I knocked her down with my own. She pushed me around, giggling, making fun of my big head, and I nudged her arm with it, mocking her anxious tone whenever she worried about not being able to make it to the fall in time.
Koda ran around us in circles, sometimes riding on my back, other times, resting in Nita's obsessive arms. We laughed together at the ridiculous faces Koda made at us, crossing his eyes and twisting his mouth into ludicrous shapes that were too absurd to describe. After hours of walking, the rocky trail burst through the snow ornamented pine trees, the pathetically-small, but to us triumphantly enchanting run-off of the stream that was attached to Hokani Falls burst into view.
We were conquerers, we have already gotten half way, I felt on top of the world. I turned my head slightly in Nita's direction, surprised to find her intense meeting my own. Her expressionless face, like a chiseled stone carving of a sun goddess, burst into a wide, unexpected grin. I produced a bear-size smile that matched her own, and she erupted into war cries of victorious shouts. Screaming in accomplishment, she jumped up and down so high, the ground thudded when it was met with her beaded moccasins again.
"Yes!" Koda roared in sync with Nita, his laughter congruent to ours. Spontaneously, he took off running towards the small stream, yelping enthusiastically as his paws met the water, his brown paws soaking up the azul liquid.
Abruptly, Nita's laughter ended as unexpectedly as it had begun. I followed in suit, bemused at her drastic change in behavior. I shot her a double-take, but she didn't return it. Her amber eyes were fixed intently on Koda, and I was convinced that there was no strong enough force of nature to break that gaze. Her eyes grew bigger, the charcoal pupils larger despite the light. She took a frantic step forward, but her foot had frozen in place just a few yards from the stream and Koda's fishing. She reached out, seeming not to know what to do.
"Oh! Koda be careful." The obsessive, motherly crack in her voice was hardly unnoticeable.
I frowned, puzzled by her abnormal behavior."Relax." I deliberately made my voice sound more casual than it needed to be."He's fine." I shrugged indifferently, preserving my slow, carefree strides."He's just looking for lunch."
"Yeah!" Koda shouted, a hint of annoyance evident in his voice. He frowned at his reflection in the mirrored water, obviously distraught that his salmon escaped his famished clutches. He threw Nita a fleeting glance over his shoulder, dramatically rolling his eyes for all the world to see."Besides." I recognized his unmistakable showing off tone."I'm alwayscareful." To prove his point, he leaped to large flat rock less than two feet away from him. His paws brushed the edges of the burnt-beige water, his nails skidding across the smooth surface...until he lost his balance, falling into the shallow end of the stream, soaking his bronze fur with in icy sapphires.
Apparently he was aiming for cool, but he missed...badly.
I felt Nita stiffen at my side, biting her full, rose-blossom lips, until his terra-cotta head reappeared out of the water, giving us a sheepish grin, insuring that he was alright. I looked back at Nita, the corner of her mouth twisted down, her forehead wrinkled with evident depression. It bothered me to see her like this, but I didn't know what I could do about it."You see." I assured her."Nothing to worry about."
Nita hesitated, her brow furrowing her, her clear, unguarded eyes were distant, and cloudy, as if she had some secret locked deeply inside herself, something she would rather not have anyone knowing about. She turned mechanically, ripping her gaze away from Koda, catching my own. She freed her face of all emotion, tilted her nose a few degrees higher, and threw her shoulders back, walking ahead of me indignantly.
No, I didn't like her this. My Nita was back, but now she was returning to the cold, cynical Nita that was too serious and responsible to allow herself to live the way she really wanted to. I shrugged mentally. Maybe this was a female thing, something that had to do with being proven wrong, and as with males, would pass as quickly as it came.
The tall, lavender mountains with soft white, snowy peaks towed majestically in the distance, beckoning, almost daring someone brave enough to attempt to challenge their monstrous frozen heights, to the vertical limit. We were going to beat height."Hey look!" I cocked my head back at Nita with a smile, in high hopes of cheering her up."We're making good time! See the pass over there?" Nita craned her neck, her eyes sweeping over the mountains' cavernous forms, a slight smoke on her berry-red lips, as if she too was willing to accept, and conquer, their vertical challenge. She gave me a nod of affirmative."We cross the river rounding up to the falls just before the pass, and then we'll make it to Hokani Falls in no time." My eyes flashed back to her."We should be there by lunch time tomorrow." I flashed her a grin.
My attempt to lift her mood seemed to have the opposite effect. She clouded over again, expressing noteable anxiety by tying with the sleeves of her furry parka. She bit her lip. I frowned."We should be there by lunch time tomorrow." I emphasized the word, trying to get her to understand that time was no object to us. It was a luxury we could afford. The desperate look on her heart-shaped face still remained. Honestly, the woman needs to carry a sundial with her, if worries this much she'll turn prematurely grey, and whats-his-face won't even want to marry her anymore.
She avoided my eyes, her own dancing on ever rock and evergreen in sight, thumping her fist against her hip in attempt to keep her strain at a low simmer."Well..." Well what? Are you gonna spill Nita? She intertwined with her fingers, lacing and relacing them together."...that's...a good plan, but why not this." Her gold-specked eyes lit up the way they always did whenever she was asked to speak her stubborn, opinionated mind. She spun around, using one spidery finger to point at the rocky mountains threatening before us."We-go-up-this-ridge-to-that-mountain-then-we-climb-up-those-cliffs-and-cross-that-snow-bridge-and..." She took a deep breath, turning around slowly to face us."...avoid the river altogether." She put her hands on her hips, her shoulders thrown back in pride as if she just dedicated the Stone Hedges to me. She flashed me a white-toothed grin filled with so much light, I had to look away, back at the cold, silver mountain.
Koda and I blinked at her. Was she trying to develop a sense of humor? I realized she wanted to do some climbing, I just generally assumed that the mountain pass would have been enough for her, I didn't realize she was that into it. From the expression on her face and the determination in her liquid amber eyes, she was dead serious. She lifted her chin higher upon meeting me gaze."That makes more sense to me."
Koda grimaced."That doesn't make any sense." He complained, throwing dismissive a wave in the direction of the mountains."That's way out of the way." It was totally obvious, how could she not see it."There's just too much up and not enough down." His paw flashed high and low to prove his undeniable point, and he had a good one. As 'fun' as it may seem, I was dreading the day-after climbing sore.
Hands still on hips, Nita's eyes smoldered, churning like lava, shooting arrows at us in turn with her glaze. She'll get over it. I raised my paw."I vote river."
She quirked one shapely black eyebrow in my direction, but was powerless to do anything as Koda jumped at his chance to avoid any unnecessary climbing. Exercises was overrated. His paw shot in the sky like a shooting star."Me too! Me too!" Nita wrung her hands together, watching him with hopeless eyes."Two against one! You loose! We win! Let's eat!" Koda ran off in a flash of lightning back towards the river.
Nita's worried gaze lingered on me. I hated seeing her like this. I found it uncomfortable, her ability to make me want to protect her got under my skin...fur.
She crossed her arms, her chin raised indignatly, turning way from me, childishly snappin her thick black braid into my face. I doubted that was an accident."Well...it's my amulet." She replied haughtily, sticking out her bottom lip.
Well it's my nerve you're getting on. I narrowed my eyes at her. "So?" I scoffed, what were we, six years old?
Her beautiful, yet ferocious pair of eyes wounded me to the core, but it was nothing compared to what she said next."And it's my wedding."
Despite my anger, I couldn't help but feel the tendency that there was some other subject that she was desperately fighting to avoid. I gritted my teeth, grinding them together so hard, I was afraid they were audible to her."Well then have your honeymoonup there." I glared, snapping a paw upwards in the direction of the towering, misty peaks."'Cause if we leave now, it will take us all night of walking to make. It. To. The. Falls. In. Time!" I raised my voice with each punctuated syllable. She was bringing out the ferocious monster in me, the skeleton in my closet, acquired from witnessing my brother Sitka's death. Something I endlessly didn't want to be.
She rolled her eyes, longer than necassary, probaly to make sure that I didn't miss the gesture."Fine then." She sniffed, sounding more than just a little miffed."Than I'll meet you there."
I closed my eyes and sighed, shaking my head. If I was human, I would have pinched the bridge of my nose. I let out a low, frustrated growl. Why was was being so intolerable? How hard was it to just say: okay Kenai, you know best. Of course not, because in Nita's world, Kenai knows best, but Nita knows better. Something wasn't right, and I was just going to come straight out with it. "Nita, what's wrong with you."
She expressed an unconvincing laugh."Trust me. My way will get us there before yours." Hate to burst your day dream bubble, but no it won't. With a flip of her hair she strolled away from me, her irritating smirk making it clear that she thought she won our battle of the wills.
"Heads up!" Koda warned as a large pink salmon came hurtling through the air, twitching as it sprayed icy water crystals into our faces. It landed right in Nita's arms, excavating a stomach-churning shriek from Nita, as she clawed it away from herself in a tremendous effort to put as much distance between her and the 'disgusting' creature as possible. She jumped, her feet lacing and twisting with themselves, forcing her to loose he balance and topple into the diamond water.
It was seconds later, her entire body shattered the water, as she scrambled to the shore, kicking violently in her pursuit to propel herself out of the 'mercilous' water, shattering it's otherwise peaceful surface. Nita's stick think needles dug deep into the soft dirt of land as if she was using long sharp claws. Her dripping hair and body left wet marks in the soil, tan sand clinging to her wet close. She rushed over to a large boulder, wishing to be as far away from the icy stream as humanly possible. She huddled against the large, dusty-red boulder, hugging her knees together, trying to keep herself in one peace as violent heaves and greedy gulps of air shook her small frame. Her black hair was plastered against her forehead, some of it was falling into her copper eyes, her face as white as the flowers on the magnolia tree.
Koda laughed loudly."You act like you're afraid of fish!" Nita blinked at him, eyes wide, then looked away in obvious shame. Koda laughed harder."She is!" I let out a chuckle, it's amusing for a bear, when someone is afraid of one of their only food sources.
Koda grabbed the poor fish that survived so much, and held it with his paw like a puppet, prancing around us in delight of knowng Nita's secret phobia. He planted himself in front of her, waving the fish in her face mercilessly."Argh! Argh! Who's afraid of fish! Argh! Argh!" I allowed myself to laugh. "My name is Nita, and I'm afraid of fish!" Nita hugged her knees tighter to her chest, not amused by one bit. In fact, she looked close to tear, her quivering lower lip and tortured set of eyes, were pleading silently for him to stop."Aaaah! The fish! It's gonna eat me! Aaah!" She winced as his cruel jeers grew louder.
I squinted at her, softening my gaze, and cleared my throat."Um, Koda. Koda stop." I said gently, aprroaching the quivering Nita slowly.
Koda ignored me. He was still doing his own thing."Aaaaaaah! The fish!"
I raised my voice, angry and annoyed at his inability to follow simple directions. I got in his face."Koda! Stop!" I shouted harshly. Koda immediately silenced, widening his innocent eyes in a bewildered expression. I gave him one more hard stare before progressing towards Nita. I sat down next to her, leaning against the pillar-like boulder.
I sighed awkardly, I wasn't sure how to do this. "We were just kidding around about the fish."
"No." She exhaled loudly."It's not the fish."
I bit my lip, listening hard to each and every syllable she uttered.
"It's the water." She looked away from me, hiding her shame. I sat back in surprise, wishing there was something I could do to lessen her pain."Ever since that day I fell through the ice when we were kids..." She trailed off into a whisper.
I leaned closer towards her."Oh." I murmured. How could I have been so stupid? "I didn't realize it."
She flashed her palms, as if she was showing me she had nothing to hide."That's why I didn't get the amulet when we were at the river." She confessed,"It wasn't your fault we lost the amulet." She bit her lip,"It was mine." She whispered.
I nudged her arm, giving her a sympathetic smile."Hey, we got it back together, that's all that matters, right?" That evicted a small smile. but I'll take all that I can get.
I rolled over onto my paws."You ready to go on?" I asked, the way a leader would.
She stood up, dusting herself off."But..." She bit her lip. "I'll never be able to cross that river." She took a timid step towards me.
I smiled."We can do that together too."
All three of us walked side by side, together, and saw each other in a new light. Nita gave me a grateful smile, breath-taking mountains framed behind her.
To me, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Thanks for reading. Questions/Comments/Praise?/Constructive Cristiscm Please review. :) Thanks!