Tina’s story continues with something of a diversion this time before she encounters someone she’ll never forget. Still, she should remember that there are times when she needs to be careful about getting involved in a …
Gongshow – Part II
For Justin, for always…
There are those moments when one can be very sure that Tera is a bit confused. The most obvious of those is when her long, red, heart-tipped tail curves itself into a question mark. Tina’s waving of hands and her statement from moments before were such a point of reference: “How could I which now?” The young yellow-tail had retrieved her hockey stick and waved it in the general direction of her Aunt Tera, adding: “You coulda’ let me know! Geez!”
This was a bit concerting for the ebon-maned, red-tailed Aunt, who stood about a tail’s length away from her adopted niece–which is another story for another time, involving love, loss, and hope. Still, she was confused, about two horn-widths short of being confuzzled, as Tina opened her backpack and started taking things out of it, seemingly focused on finding something: “I shoulda’ known.”
Tera still had no idea what Tina was getting onto. She’d come through the portal fine, not a lock of her blue hair harmed, which would make Alisha happy. Looking about the Realm, the Queen didn’t see a thing out of place. There wasn’t a huge greeting committee waiting either, which she knew would miff the young yellow-tail. Thinking about it further, she checked herself over. Her tail looked right, ebon-mane as wild as it was meant to be. Tapping a slim finger on her lips she mused what the issue could possibly be right up to the moment when Tina yanked a blue and white hockey sweater out and waved it at her aunt.
“Here I am, wearing red, cause it’s you Auntie, and you go and wear that!”
It was at that point that Tera shook her head and a bemused smile appeared. Tina loved one particular hockey team that wore red. Tera suffered with another one that wore blue and white. Tina’s team was the Montreal Canadians. Tera’s was a different one. She’d tried to influence her hockey-loving niece to at least tolerate a team which, if she was honest, caused much pain and suffering to their fans. It seemed that suffering was something Leafs fans did enjoy. More or less. It might be a bit more complicated.
Tina pulled the red sweater off, revealing she was wearing a yellow, of course, tee beneath before it was covered up by another blue and white sweater. Tera, of course had sixty-nine on hers. Tina’s had, surprisingly, forty-two, but that was her aunt’s influence, of course.
Stuffing the red sweater away, along with the other various items that had gotten in the way of her search, Tine looked at her Auntie: “At least you didn’t go for the obvious team, Auntie.”
Tera turned her nose up and huffed: “That’s far too obvious a team. And a little suspect, don’t you think?”
Tina ran over to her favourite aunt, hugging her tightly and giggling: “You are the craziest, Auntie Tera.”
The hug was returned, with all the love Tera had for Tina: “But you love me anyway.”
Now getting a good look at her niece, the first she’d had since a particularly wild Halloween night some time ago, Tera mused: “I didn’t realize how tall you’ve gotten!”
Tina, only slightly embarrassed by her Aunt, mumbled: “Must be the six boxes of Fruit Loops every morning.”
Tera smirked: “Hockey prize?”
Tina’s excitement was palatable: “Two hundred and ninety-nine box tops and I’ll get a pair of goalie nets!”
Tera wasn’t about to explain to her hyper-focused niece that it would have been somewhat less expensive to just buy them. The yellow-tail did tend to get blinders on when focused on a goal: “Of course. How silly of me.”
Slipping out of Tera’s hug, Tina asked as she retrieved her backpack and stick: “So, you gonna spill whatcha’ got planned?”
Tera wagged a finger at her in return: “Where’s the fun in that?”
Nibbling on the inside of her lip, Tina mulled over the “fun” Auntie and her daughters Branwyn and Rianna had with her that one Halloween night before asking: “So where’s Rina and Branny?
Tera tilted her head to the right: “That would be …”
There were very few that could bring Tera to pause, and Tina’s sigh did that: “Telling. Yeah, I know, Auntie. You are such a tease.”
Turning away and waving at Tina to follow, the Queen of the Realm replied to her adored niece: “First in my class, I’ll have you know.”
Tina didn’t doubt that in the least. Auntie was the best, and she adored Tera more than she thought her aunt knew. As the pair left the portal behind and walked through the Realm, Tina talked about how things were at home, asked about Uncle Keith and the rest of the family here in the Realm, among other things.
Tina understood that her aunt was the Queen, but that really didn’t matter much to the young yellow-tail. Still, she wasn’t completely out of touch, and she noticed as they passed into the busier parts of the Realm how others would wave or call out Tera’s name, asking for a moment of her time. Tera could have just done so, and Tina would understand that it was part of her aunt being the Queen, of course.
What happened was Tera asked if her niece would be okay with stopping here and there before they got to their destination. Her aunt wanted Tina to know that this was their time first. The young blue-haired member of the succubi twinned her tail with her aunt’s and explained that she didn’t mind at all. It might have been the single most influential thing Tina had ever done. Watching her aunt give her time to those who need her, sharing her wisdom, her love, and most of all her thanks to each soul of the Realm she encountered, offered a sliver of knowledge. There was nothing more important than family to Tera.
Eventually, after picking up an apple pie, and a hot chocolate for Tina, the pair left the bustle of the Ream in their wake. Soon Tina beheld a sight she had heard of, but never had seen before. The reasonably sized red brick house that appeared at the bottom of a cul-de-sac drew Tina’s attention as they approached. Not the home itself, mind you, but the various shrubbery in front that she was mesmerized by.
Tina loved hockey, but this was someone that was one step beyond that. A bush trimmed into a hockey puck. Two others into a hockey stick and a goalie stick. The one that looked like a goalie mask made her tail twitch. She had no idea how the heck the gardener had made that one work. She was in the middle of trying to take a picture of one shrub that had been trimmed to look like that cartoon character she’d been trying to get the answer for on the cereal box quiz when a slightly gruff voice caught her by surprise. Tina found herself in the presence of an elderly, red-tailed member of the incubi with shockingly white hair leaning on a silver cane: “Those eyebrows never look right.”
Tina would have disagreed, but she didn’t know him well. Tera did, however: “Oh, I think it’s your best work. The smile especially. How did your team do today?”
He chuckled: “They won. It might have something to do with these two succubi I find in my garden wearing their jersey.” Tina made a mental note to be sure when, not if, she visited again, she’d be wearing the right jersey.
“Uncle, I’d like to introduce you to Tina, your great-grandniece.”
A bit overwhelmed, Tina didn’t quite know what to say, which was a really rare thing for her. The eldest of them offered: “Your aunt has told me many stories about you Tina.”
“Um. Good things I hope?”
Tina would always remember his laughter in reply and the afternoon that followed in his living room, hearing his stories … including the embarrassing ones about Auntie that revealed Auntie was a bit of a troublemaker at Tina’s age. It was sometime later, after they both enjoyed the apple pie with him and Tera went off to put away the leftovers and clean up, that he offered her some wisdom. “Do you realize how special you are, Tina?”
This was the sort of talk that Tina didn’t like. Too many of the succubi and incubi that met her treated her like a cute little kid. She shrugged: “Not really anything special. I’m just me.”
She could hear him scraping the tip of the cane on the wood floor: “You sound very much like your Aunt.”
The cup of hot chocolate held Tina’s attention: “I wish.”
“Oh, I think you are, more than you realize. You have so much promise. You’ll see and do things we can’t imagine.” At this Tina perked up and paid close attention. Tera said something similar, as did Rianna that one Halloween. He continued: “Don’t be in a rush to get to your future. It’ll be there when you get there.”
Tina mulled that over: “Auntie said once that we are our memories.”
“Your Auntie is a wise soul.”
Tera quietly watched from the hallway as Tina hugged Uncle, telling him: “Hope I can make her proud of me someday.”
It turned out that Tina’s favourite team was playing that night and the day closed with Tina munching on popcorn and cheering her team on with her Aunt and great-granduncle. The game went into overtime, her team won, but the day had finally caught up with the usually slightly hyper yellow-tail. A spare room soon held a barely-awake young member of the succubi and her Auntie tucking her in for the night. Tina couldn’t help the yawn: “What are ya’ planning tomorrow?”
Tera kissed Tina’s forehead: “Take over the world?”
“Sure, Auntie. Love you.”
“Love you always…” Tera turned out the lights and left her niece to dream about what the future would hold. If Tina knew who she’d see tomorrow however, she’d have been up all night …
… bouncing off the walls …