Note; this takes place upon my interpretation of Coco's debut age in/just before Crash bandicoot 2 --possibly precluding that, give or take some slightly unintentional oocness.
Between a rock and a Consequence.
She lagged, leaning what little weight she held back against the musk of the corridor. Funny thing was, he almost let her; but...muscle out-weighed bone in the end, he supposed; so his grip on her wrist remained firm.
"You must understand; this is a serious offence." they'd barked...ironic; considering that his charge was usually on the defensive "It's not only considered rude; it's a breach of tribal law."
"Get that thing away from my sister," the elder Bandicoot had snarled that afternoon; rather tempted to make a show of unravelling knots that kept Coco rather pitifully enclosed. He didn't need her glassy gaze, however, to tell him how close she was to tasting the callous steel of that spear.
"We demand compensation!" Both siblings flinched as the tribe's general threatened to puncture the very tool that had the blonde in this situation in the first place,
"You'll get it!" Crash drastically scraped himself between the child and the man "You'll get it already!" "If you don't move!" A stomp almost worthy enough to put a piercing through the teenager's nose "I'll get double our pride,"
Any other time of day; it probably would have been hilarious to think that, on that particular day, it was the tribesman's first day on the job...given how easy it was to hurl his end of the argument to the parallel totem-pole like a javelin. But when bargaining for your life; never over-do the add lib; for the moment, he was contented to stand firm amidst the human's surprised eyes and repeat, for the dense; "You'll get it, alright?"
Orange ears pricked up as he heard his younger sibling stifle an anxious moan; neither of them had immediate use for the spare bedroom, so it was no wonder she seemed to have the look of being driven a thousand miles from home by a stranger...his own house; his own bleeding house...
"Traditionally; payment doubles as an example." a sceptic eyebrow was splintered down to the overall-clad girl. Crash could feel her shoulders stiffen beneath his grip. "Well..." he blinked questioningly "She's gotta be too young...for..." slight cough to dubiously slice through the tension in the air,
"Blood." Again; dubiously. It was a pleasure to guide her back further into his hold.
"Well, yeah; c'mon!" He could just feel Coco's eyes rolling into his, "I mean; she's only nine" "Nine and a-" Slight squeeze of the unstrapped shoulder to hush her up; seriously--when bargaining for a life, no add-lib. It was his one citation.
"There's gotta be a way around this...?" A chuckle, grin, white-fangs of surrender...may as well be talking to the constitution itself, really. The tribesman stared; glowering behind painted eyes...pupils were practically as sharp as the tip of his previous argument, however...the irises suggested, dare he think it; potential.
"Eh?" "If an example can't be made; then we'll take the promise of regret. We'll take her tears." Crash couldn't help but mirror the turbulent tone in his voice, head cocking...almost apologetically, to the side, he forced patience.
He knew he should've waited for that slimy slip of a smirk; he wasn't quite sure if his heart was sinking with disdain or rising with anticipation.
"But only by your hand," the teenaged Bandicoot had to resist the urge to throw him across the ravine as one arm was lifted from his little sister's shoulder and oh-so-modestly padlocked into the living image of a fist.
The two of them froze.
"My hand..." Crash kept a gentle grip on Coco, "Alright." but he snatched his own back in the process, "My hand then." there was almost a slight bounce in his voice as he spun the girl towards him; transitioning from her shoulder to her wrist "My hand, my terms," he shrugged "Sounds fair, right?"
The younger one merely stared up; ears perked in alarm. He could feel her trying to theorise the outcome; scanning him, observing...analyzing. Rightfully so, of course; but it didn't lessen the knot he had to choke down. It was so obvious but...well he'd spare crushing her little intricate thought network for the minute.
"My hand. My terms," He tugged the younger one along as two sets of feet crackled after them "My House."
And here they were: prisoners to the void of the spare bedroom. Crash had long since slumped into the desk-chair furthest from the door; gazing a pit of disbelief into the floorboards. Coco stood, stiff as the totem-pole she'd be tied to merely fourty-five minutes before, in front of him. Slowly, the older of the two raised a curious finger,
"Ok," almost...forced...was the nervous laugh that punctuated the sentence "Call me slow all you want..." stiff smile..."You...lil' genius, you..."
She winced, blinking her confirmation down into the spot he'd been staring into mere moments before,
"But, lemme get this straight." He leaned over, forearms resting, rather stoically, on his thighs. Anxious clear of the throat; and she dared a quick peak at his forehead. "You beat up the chief's son?!"
"I didn't know it at the time!" her stance barrelled out defensively,
"Well c'mon! Did you really even have to guess?!" He practically bounced, in rather manic discomposure, from his seat; towering over the younger one "I mean this tribe!" the palm of his once fisted hand retreated to his temple as he saw fit to groan "Jesus, this tribe...two of em just outside that door and all,"
Bright, flowering eyes scrambled to take a solid fix on the now pacing image of her elder brother "But it's ok, big brother! I mean-!" she caught him mid-step, pulling him back down to take a gentle hold of one of his sharpened out ears "We don't have to take it; I was studying our strides in comparison to their's on the way over here, our feet give us an edge in speed to them--now I think, if we can be as quiet as anything getting out the window, we use the principle of directional fluctuation we can--"
He grabbed the rambling, well he viewed it as rambling anyway, child gently by the forearms "Coco, big problem here all the same." She blinked; the lack of jaunt to his composed tone practically unfathomable to her analytical eye, "They know where we live."
"Well it's not like the jungle isn't big enough for us to move," once-productive hands raised to clasp determinedly against her chest "C'mon big brother; we both could use bigger rooms anyway, and besides," the nine year old's iron-will didn't quite seem to extend to her softened bottom lip, "Maybe we need a fresh start to-"
"Kid; I am not pickin' up a house for you to just run away from this," "Me? Wha.." Coco suddenly seemed to practically splinter to the furthest edge of his grip; eyes sharpening suddenly. A swallow..."Crash..." his fingers strained slightly, just slightly against her nimble frame "You'd...you wouldn't hurt me..." it was easy to see how similar the two Bandicoot siblings could be under the glare of anxiety...she seemed to flash a sort of surrender from the white's of her remaining baby teeth.
He just gazed softly at the young child; eyes seven times her senior just practically flickering for a moment of nostalgia.
Coco's ears seemed to sink weightedly, as the morbid sensation of uniform pierced into her, now glistening, ripe-lime eyes "Crash...you...you wouldn't really beat me?"
Crash's heart could only force a quiet half-laugh up his knotting voice-box; the younger one felt momentarilly lighter than air itself again as he shook his head before her "'Course I wouldn't beat you," he had to grin solemnly up as she squeaked out a similar laugh "You know I'd never do that," She just seemed so...fragile, beneath his massive paws...
"So...we're gonna leave?" her eyes perked...almost in dared consolidation "My plan, right? Your terms, my plan?" a half-remissive grin "Right, big brother?"
His own ever-present beam began to simper against his slowly wakening voice "Just...trust me," another half-hearted laugh "Ok?"
It was almost surreal; it was Crash but to her it wasn't; where was the lenient daring? The passive trust? The openness? Alright; all things considered, the situation did call for a little panic, but...
She was so tiny in his arms sure; she d gotten taller since the last time he d checked, a little older since they d met, who hadn t? And lord knew, he d swear she could do with a few lead-paint chips just to stop her brain combusting against her skull. But in all respect, right then and there; he was still big brother in every respect of the word. He lifted her, just slowly, over to his chair only...she didn't get a seat like he Did. She wouldn't need it.
Coco immediately tensed as she was poured face-down over the older one's lap; her palms pressed loosely against the unfamiliar textures of sanded wood that made up, the first solid ground she'd ever known, beneath her feet; she'd probably have whimpered had she believed what was happening,
"I know," he pressed a regretful hand against the small of her back "I know."
"Crash." an odd sensation of calm seemed to sweep over her, eyes stoically wide against his smothering shadow "No."
"Hey, if it were that simple, right?" couldn't help but have his eye-line veer focus on the back of her head as he fumbled with that one pesky strap of her overalls; clumsily unhooking it before pulling the remainder of it back and away; allowing it to fall delicately down to her knee-caps.
"Crash!" she slammed her fists down against the course surface "No!" but he had her by the hips when she tried to pull away; squeezing her bony section tightly as he clawed her back over to his field
"Coco!" a grunt as he pressed his entire left forearm down against his squirming sibling's frame "Stay." a brace to pull her back closer to him "Still!" and one sharp slap to set it all off,
The blonde Bandicoot yelped, aiming a vengeful kick haphazardly outwards; had she been able to curl, she d have used his own meaty head to bounce away from him; she'd have shown him! He'd be trapped right in here, while she-!
Another sinister spark to de-rail her locomotive thought,
"Ow!" the child arched instinctively against the adolescent; squalling fretfully as one mark twinned the other mercilessly "Crash! Don't!"
"Now that I've got your attention," Another swift slap to her, what she was actually convinced to be bare now, posterior "I wanna talk to ya,"
"Talk," his hand raised as efficiently as it fell on her tender rump "First off; In this family, we don't run away from our mistakes," she hissed sourly as his hand planked against her "We take our consequences like...like medicine!" another firm slap,
"Death'd only come if you were to be deceitful about it," she suddenly flung hapless arms forwards; just enough of a force to drive that one home, unfair for sure!
"Or until-until-!" a whelp "You came to save the day, huu--Aah!" Thick eyebrows couldn't help but darken over the set of ever-complacent Orbs, at the sound of his precious little sister's sudden change to tune.
"Yeah, sure; ok!" couldn't help but nod to her new beat, "'Cos on to my next point: What were you even doing that close to the waterfall?" she suddenly appeared to try and flinch away from his concentrated spotlight "You know that's nearest their base-camp!"
"It's-It's--!" leaf-green irises clenched down beneath stubborn lids as her right arm all but reeled back against the onslaught; accidentally grabbing hold of Crash's ring and index finger mid-pull. "Stop It!" an un-supported whine at best. Swearing gruffly under his breath; the older sibling had to squirm his slender digits out from under her clutches before attempting to steady the wriggling wrist "No: Go on, what were you doing there?"
She winced as her arm was steadied back, choking slightly on another yelp by her brother's relentless palm "The shri--ah! Shrine!"
"Shrine?" he couldn t help but perk an alarmed set of ears towards the roof "As in the one they use for their rituals?"
"No...no," she took the moment of pause as an opportunity to catch her straining breath, trying to quell the shakes that had begun to infect and spread along the bars of her rib-cage "The-the other one," Words couldn t even begin to hypothesize upon the amount of gratitude she'd felt in his quiet moment of pause. She panted and winced and had her unconscious psyche begin to study the currently poker-hot burns along her furry little backside.
"Other one..." he leaned over slightly; bracing her gently, yet securely against his thighs as he tried to dart down a mental image of the mentioned Location other though his voice trailed modestly; his eyes took a firm hold of realization "No..." Before she could even dare to crack a curious eyelid open to glance back at her contemplative sibling; Coco found herself gaping like a barn door that'd been shot off it's hinges, via the immediate spell of clouts that hurricaned back over the trail of pure, and utter sting.
"You mean the burial grounds!" another two swats, much to her dismay "You were gonna mess around with--!"
"Study!! Just study!"
"Whatever!" another swat to keep her listening "Point is: You shouldn't have been messing around there!" the fur on the back of his neck began to elevate itself in sudden agitation "And beating up the chief's son on their own ground??" he practically flattened his fist out to the point of strain; whipping it back into it s starting stance "Coco Bandicoot; did your over-stuffed brain suddenly fall outta your ears??" another whip from the void of his palm,
"But he called you a-a-a filthy varmint!" she lurched as another storm hailed upon her unprotected rear-end, squawking distressfully "He deserved it!"
"He's a human, he's gonna!" another painful swat; she wasn't sure when she realized her brother's stature had gone from a benumbed stiffness to an unyielding stature of charge,
"But nothing!" whack. "You hush up and listen to me for a change," he seemed to smack her eyes right open "We do not start fights in this family!" She wasn't sure she had the resolve to dare utter another cry, "Especially not when said fights involve near-murderous consequences!" another whap had her flinching right over his stern demenour "In this family; we don't start the fight, ok? In this family; we have just that little thing called restraint! Mercy!" She felt the lime of her eyes beginning to slowly ripen under Crash's heavy blows "Do you hear me, young lady?" another three swats before pausing once more "Well?"
It was all so...Tense...
Crash stared through narrowed eyes patience.
"Coco, do you understand me?"
He observed closely, as Coco's hay-blonde head slowly raise from a fixed front To say the least; the oldest Bandicoot near enough had a heart-attack; from shock of emotion the line was practically emaciated--the fact of the matter being; when his little sister slackened enough to reel her head back, and liberate a wail that would surely put the harpies themselves to shame; Crash felt something completely shatter in. He'd recoiled, letting his grip loosen significantly, while whacking the back of his own head against the wall in the process. Coco could've potentially howled the moon right out of the sky, or at least hurtle her heart right out of the confines of her chest; and bone splinters just to drive in Crash's own penance. She screamed and screamed and didn't seem to want to stop, even when the tears started to burst forth.
And did he even have the right to blame her? But all the same; he couldn't let her wriggle away...but he could spare her something and pull her overalls back up for her before lugging the struggling girl over to the far right corner, practically having to fasten her into a standing position within it.
"Coco?..." his hands pressed gently upon her shoulders; having to tense as she really went for squirming out of his reach "Coco; I want you to be--" He winced as her nails dug right into his knuckles "Good," a tense press back into position "And stand there," another flinch as she reeled back enough to cry out another tearful scream "While I get rid of point-n-tip outside;
kay?" he wasn t sure if she heard; to be honest, after that, he wasn t sure if he heard.
So he made himself useful; and marched out to, hopefully, have a reason to bite someone s head off for her sake.
Between justifying the little Bandicoot's tears and all but snarling at them to not have to show them the battle-scar; everything amongst the incessant wailing was just an angry, burning, salted wound. And one he was officially glad to be done with.
Well partly; got the bandages on, now to deal with the infection.
It required a careful hand, guided oh so gently to the back of her shoulder blade, from which she instantly darted away from, snubbing her shoes against the corner she d been backed into.
Just because it was muffled,didn t mean sobbing wasn't a genuine cry for help.
She sniffled as he kneeled down; expression completely sunk, and scared really
"You ok? Little sister?..." Nothing, nothing that he didn't deserve, anyway.
Crash sighed; he didn't have much else to lose so he took the dive; slinked his arms precariously around her tiny form and at least tried to pull her into his chest--she struggled meekly, whining out unintelligibly as he merely moulded her back into the shelter of his bare chest. The younger one raised a shuddering fist; pounding back against him--she yelled, she screamed; bled tears from rupturing orbs, nerves just snapping beneath his gaze as she suddenly recoiled back into herself--fearing an extra swat for her pre-tenderized bottom. Still didn't stop him from whimpering alongside her.
"Hey..." a nuzzle into her baby-blonde hair "Hey c'mon Coco; talk to me..." She shuddered as he grazed his hand along her back, trailing crop-circles along such foreign affairs
"it's not like I wanted to, ya know,"
The younger one hmphed tearfully
"It's true," he took a tighter hold of her "Never wanted to hurt my baby sister," diluted smirk; that got her,
"Y-yeah?" the blonde stiffened in his arms; neck snapping up with a drowned glare "Well-Well mission backfired!" a cruel sniffle "It-it hurt..." and he sympathized "hurt-hurt so much!" The broad chest depressed beneath her as he empathetically tilted his head down towards her
"No you don't." He snorted; but abandoned the effort. Still...
"Well," a brow raised gently, as he continued to gaze down at her lowering scalp "You can t say you didn't deserve it completely," Her petite shoulders hunched over against her; but he merely guided her further into his hold "I mean; between a spanking and death, right?" Another humph, but he chose to ignore it. Likewise, she wanted to do the same to him; until he firmly tilted the child's chin up to meet his eyes; from petals to limes, both siblings just stared, be it sourly or sweetly, into each other's space. His was compassionate but she knew she'd better not raise her voice to him, not like this. The younger one's sight darted to the side, solemnly beginning to calculate the ratio of ice to aloe she should use to take the edge off her shame
Today was obviously not an apt time to process; tears still dribbling miserably down her cheeks the little one gazed obediently into her sibling's sight "I'm not having you putting yourself in that kind of situation, ya know."
Another sniffle as her ears flattened themselves against the flower teetering over the curls of her hair
"B-but..." she appeared to pale beneath the lurch of his presence "but you only just sp-spa..." he watched her fumble and choke with the degrading nature of the word; brow knitting together in apt wonder, before the sudden understand of her point cascaded upon him like her fresh trail of tears,
"Which is why I'm not gonna do it again," his ring finger gently tapped against her still-quite-babyish snout "Unless you force me to." Her was her turn to knit a look of slight bewilderment,
"Meaning, baby sister," he pulled her closer all the same "Stay away from the waterfall,"while flashing her an all too loving grin "Ok?"
Honestly; Crash could ve said he wanted to cry in relief when she fell back into his hug; her frail arms coming to knot tightly around his thick neck--he let her snuggle, let her cry it out as he took the liberty to loop her arm back into her overalls strap. It was only fair after all, surely?
"That s my girl, eh?" his big strong girl, for sure.