What makes a person special?
"Congratulations, Mrs. Lupo. It's a boy."
Is a person made by his talents?
"Well, honey? Did you decide on a name?"
Or is it perhaps his resolve that shows his character?
"Yes, I have..."
Is it how well he can get along with others?
Or is it something completely different?
"...My word. How is this possible?"
In the center of a vast forest, there was a large, crystal-blue lake. Surrounded by verdant foliage, the surface of the water shimmered in the bright sunlight. A tall, majestic oak tree stood nearby, a large hollow at its base. Within the hollow, a shadow.
Fish swam lithely through the lake. Unsuspecting prey? Partakers in an underwater utopia? Who could say?
A soft light hit the shadow in the tree hollow, revealing a faint blue color, before the trees blotted out the sun once more.
Slowly, steadily, a large portion of the lake's water began rising into the air as if it were the most natural thing in the world. There it hung, still connected with the lake's water, until a few fish had began to swim into the unnaturally raised portion of water.
The entire expanse of water froze over in an instant, trapping the fish within a giant cube of ice. The cube began to rise out of the water, a fish whose head was caught in the ice wriggling its unfrozen tail in futility. The block of ice set itself down upon the grass away from the lake and began to melt rapidly. The melted water rushed back across the ground and into the lake, leaving the fish writhing on the forest floor.
The dark shadow slowly emerged from the tree's hollow revealing a blue, fox-like creature with humanoid attributes. It wore a shirt and pants, but had a muzzle and large, curved ears. It had fluffy, dark blue fur across its body with some patches of light blue in select areas. The creature grinned revealing sharp, white teeth, his right hand on his hip.
"Looks like I got a pretty good catch today," The fox-like boy announced to himself. "Although I don't need all of it."
A pair of fish were being fried on a make-shift pan atop a make-shift fireplace within the tree hollow, giving off a delicious, fishy aroma. The boy slid a hand-carved wooden spatula underneath one of the cooking fish and flipped it onto its other side. He then took the other fish on the pan and put it onto a plate. The boy was very hungry and he tried to bite into it right away, only to let out a yelp of pain as the freshly-fried water-dweller scalded the inside of his mouth. After patiently letting it cool for a minute or two (and taking the second, now fully-cooked fish off of the pan), he bit into it once again.
"Welcome to Buster's belly, fishy," said the boy. "But man, what I wouldn't give to have something pre-processed every now and then..."
Buster "The Fox" Lupo lived alone out here in this forest, making a home out of a hollowed out tree trunk. As such, he had learned how to survive and had even crafted himself many tools through painstaking practice. However, he wasn't originally a forest-dweller.
Up until two years ago, when he was sixteen, Buster lived in the city with Rocky, his older brother by three years, Gabriela, his mother, and his father, Samson. He was a normal student, living a normal life. Until one day, when he caused a bit of a scene at school.
Buster has special powers. He's had them ever since he was born; no one really knows how or why it happened, but he has the power to control water as he pleases. On top of that, tests performed on him after his birth revealed that his body was made up of an unusually large amount of water; 99.9%, to be exact. Again, the cause for this is unknown, but it clearly shows that not only the power, but also Buster himself, is strongly related to water.
It was this power that caused Buster trouble at his local institution of education. Another student had enraged him, taunting him about his unnatural blue-colored fur. Although that wasn't enough to set him off; it was when the other student made light of his ability did he finally snap.
In a blind rage, Buster proved to that student just how powerful his ability could be. He tore water out of the sewer systems below the school, ripping up pipes and smashing water fountains. The entire school ended up flooded. Needless to say, poor Buster was expelled immediately, and his family forced into paying a portion of the repair costs. In an attempt to not trouble other people anymore than he already had, he opted to move off the grid and live in the forest, away from society. This way, he could use his ability without having to worry about other people judging him.
It was a nice, quiet life. However, lately it was a bit too quiet. The year he had moved into this forest home, he had met a traveling "creature" calling himself Kipo. This creature looked a lot like a bunny, but Kipo constantly rebuked that thought and insisted that he was indeed not a bunny, sometimes even when the subject wasn't even brought up. Kipo was a lot like buster in some ways, yet totally different in others. For instance, Kipo also had a strange power in the ability to control some simple "magic", as he referred to it. He also lived in solitude, however it appeared that he had never lived in a civilized area to begin with. Of course, every pair has their differences. For instance, Kipo was a dark red color, which Kipo himself would have described in no other way than "maroon". Furthermore, his personality was almost the polar opposite of Buster's.
Even if he was a little pushy at times, Buster was friends with Kipo. They sometimes even went on adventures together. However, being the traveling non-bunny creature that he was, Kipo eventually moved on to a new place, leaving Buster behind.
That was about half a year ago. As of now, Buster was approaching the two-year mark for his stay here in the forest. In fact, according to his makeshift calendar, tomorrow was the big day.
Finally, Buster finished his meal of fish. By now, it was dark out and Buster was getting tired. He stood from the rock he was sitting on and washed his plate with water from the lake next to his tree. He then entered his tree hollow house, lit a torch, and slid a large piece of wood over the entrance, blocking out the light and the cold. Buster made his way into the small area he had set out to be his bedroom. A hammock lay suspended in the air between the two sides of the tree hollow. Buster skillfully climbed into it and began sleeping as the dim light from his torch flickered faintly.
Knock, knock. Knock, knock.
The next day, an unfamiliar sound came from the wooden plank that served as the door to Buster's house, startling Buster into an awake and alert state.
Knock, knock. The sound persisted.
Buster got up slowly, silently. He stuck out his hand behind him and a small flask levitated towards him. He loosened the knot on the flask so that he could get the water out of it quickly if need be.
Slowly, he approached the door. Suddenly, from the other side of the door, a voice came.
"Hey! It's Rocky! Open up!"
Buster's tension dissolved in an instant. He set the flask back down on the small shelve he had taken it from and removed the wooden plank.
There stood his older brother by three years, Rocky Lupo.
Rocky visited Buster from time to time. It had been quite a long time since his last visit, so Buster had almost forgotten that he visited at all. Besides, this forest was pretty peaceful; there weren't many predators here sentient enough to knock on the door.
"Rocky! What's up?" Buster tried to give Rocky a hug, but Rocky jabbed him in the side to stop him from doing so.
"Geez! You know I don't like that physical contact stuff!" he said, looking uncomfortable. Buster let out a soft chuckle.
"Come on in," Buster said, gesturing for Rocky to enter, "there's not a lot of room, but I've finally made myself another chair, so one of us won't have to stand all the time."
Once the brothers were situated, Buster poured the two some tea that he had made from some of the local herbs he had found in the area.
"Boy," Rocky said, "you sure have upgraded since the last time I saw you. And not just in your hardware, either."
"What do you mean?" Buster asked.
"Well, look at this. You're drinking tea now! And not only that, it's one hundred percent home made. Not to mention that last time I came here, you didn't even have any cups."
"Yeah, well, I've had a lot of time," Buster said with a bittersweet smirk. "Playing on the lake gets boring after a few weeks of doing it day after day. I have to do something to kill time, right? So I basically just look around the forest for stuff I can make stuff out of."
"Huh. Reminds me of Minecraft."
"Oh, uh, it's a computer game. I wish I could show it to you, it's awesome."
The two sat in awkward silence for a moment at Buster's ignorance of the outside world. He had truly adapted to this outdoors life of his. Rocky wondered what he should talk about next. He took a sip of Buster's tea.
"Hey, this is really good!"
Buster grinned. "You like it? I made it with some herbal leaves I found and sweetened it with tree sap. It gives it that really 'natural' flavor, but it's still got a nice zing to it, right?"
"Yeah, it does." Rocky paused for a moment. "I wish I could have this back at home."
"Well, I have some of the leaves I use for it gathered here if you wanna take some back with you."
"Naw, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to make it. I'd need someone who knows how to really work the water."
There was a pause as Buster slowly began to comprehend what Rocky was saying.
"What are you getting at?"
Rocky let out a shallow sigh. "Come home, Buster. This might sound a bit awkward, bit I miss you. Everyone does. Mom, Dad... Your nephew Gavin's getting really big. It's a shame you're missing him grow up."
Buster was taken off-guard. He wasn't expecting this kind of thing at all. He sat and thought for a moment.
"You know I can't... do that..." he said quietly.
"Because... You remember what happened... I can't let it happen again."
"It won't have to. You're eighteen now, you know that? I don't know if you've been keeping track, but your birthday was two months ago today."
"Oh. So it was." He hadn't noticed. He guessed that the small things just got lost in translation when you're living the outdoorsy life. "But what does that have to do with anything?"
"It means you're a legal adult. It means you don't have to go back to high school if you don't want to."
"What...?" He didn't have to go back? "But, wait... What about Mom and Dad? Won't they want me to go back to school? They won't want me mooching off of them forever."
"Not a problem. I've got my own place now."
"Heh. Sounds like you've been upgrading, too."
Rocky let out a short laugh. "Sort of. I've got a job now, too. It's just at the local Walmart, but I've already gotten a few promotions and raises. Enough for me to rent my own apartment and other living expenses with a bit extra on the side for other stuff. I could just spend a little extra on food; the landlord said I wouldn't have to pay anymore for you to stay."
"So... I don't have to go back to school... And Mom and Dad are okay with it? And I won't have to work immediately or anything?"
"Nope, not at all. We already talked it all through; Mom and Dad said they think you're special enough without having to graduate high school. Heck, with your knowledge of survival stuff that you gained out here, you could probably net a great job right off the bat!"
The thought of it excited Buster more than he thought it would. It sounded too good to be true. "But I'll still have to try and find work eventually, won't I?"
"Only if you want to. I'm not forcing you. After all, I think it's enough just to be able to see my brother again more often..." Rocky looked down, apparently trying to hide a blush. "A-Anyway, it's not like there's nothing you could do. I mean, you must have learned how to cook a little. And sometimes I don't have time to go shopping for groceries and stuff. You can clean the house, that sort of thing. Trust me, you'll be helping me out a lot."
Buster couldn't believe what he was hearing. A chance to go back to the life he once had without the negativity he had once associated with it? And it's not like he would be a total lazy bum, either. There were things he could do to help. Heck, he might even be able to make something of himself!
"But," he said, voicing the last of his concerns, "what about this place?" He gestured to the treehouse they were sitting within. "What am I gonna do with this stuff?"
"Geez, do you ever run out of excuses?" Rocky said, sounding a bit exasperated. "Just seal it up or something. We can use it as a vacation home or something. Like, when you feel like playing in the lake again."
Problem solved. Buster already knew how to make a glue-like bond between objects. He could pretty much glue the door onto the house and then undo it with his power whenever he wanted to. It would keep out the animals and insects, as well as protect from the elements... Well, except for fire, but that's never happened here for years even before he arrived here.
Buster sat and thought just a moment more. Then, he made his decision.
Buster timidly opened the door to the car he had been riding in and stepped out after Rocky.
"Come on," Rocky encouraged, "it's right up here. It's a pretty neat place, so I think you'll like it there." He proceeded to walk towards the apartment buildings. He approached an elevator and pushed the button to call it.
Oh, boy. Buster hadn't ridden in an elevator in years. Being out in the wild, he had grown used to physical exercise. He would have rather taken the steps, but he figured he'd have to get used to it again if he was going to live in the city.
Buster nearly fell over when the car began moving upwards. He quickly tried to correct himself, but the upward momentum of the elevator made it hard.
"Uh... You okay there, Buster?"
"Sh-Shut up. I haven't ridden one of these in ages, okay? It was bad enough in that mechanical monstrosity you call a car..."
Finally, the elevator stopped moving and let us out. I practically jumped out of the thing onto the non-moving suspended platform. Rocky couldn't help but let out a small laugh.
Rocky led Buster down a long hallway until he stopped in front of one of the doors. He took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door.
It was a pretty nice-looking apartment. Everything looked modern. The walls were a strange color, almost a shiny black-grayish-blue. To the left as you entered the home was a small dining room, complete with a small table and a few chairs that didn't look too sturdy (albeit sturdier than what Buster had back in the forest). To the right was a small living room that was lightly furnished with a few chairs and couches, looking a bit worn-down and stained. Straight ahead seemed to be the kitchen, and there was a hallway veering left that led to the different bedrooms.
Rocky noticed him taking in the sights. "Yeah, it's not the best place ever, but it's better than not having a place at all, that's for sure."
Buster smiled nervously at him. "No, it's great. It's just not what I'm used to. You know how it is..."
"Well, this is your room," Rocky said, opening one of the doors in the hallway. "I know there isn't a lot here, but make yourself at home."
Inside the room, there was a small shelve and a mattress on the floor. The mattress itself was ready to be slept in, complete with blankets and pillows. Although there was no bed frame under it.
"If you prefer not to sleep on the ground, you can sleep on the couch until we can get a frame..."
"It's fine. I slept in the wild for two years. It's enough just having a real bed to sleep on."
"Oh, yeah... I should've figured." Rocky paused for a moment and Buster entered the room and began looking around. He found a closet on the farthest wall and began looking inside of it.
"Well," Rocky began, "I'm gonna go tell Mom and Dad that you're here, so... I'll be right back."
Buster spun around. "Mom and Dad are here?"
"Uh, no... I'm gonna call them." Buster looked confused. "With a phone."
Buster paused for a moment. "...Oh, yeah. Right. Phones. Heheh."
Later on, Buster was in the living room watching TV. He had been in there for a few hours now, just surfing through the channels looking at all of the new shows he had never seen before. Rocky entered the room looking fully dressed as if he was ready to go somewhere. Of course, Buster didn't notice this change.
"Hey, Rocky," he said when he saw his brother come in, "what're the most popular TV shows these days?"
"Huh? Uh, I dunno. I just watch what I like to watch, I guess."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I found this one that's really interesting... It's... Jersey something..."
Suddenly the TV turned off.
"Whoa, what happened!?" Buster exclaimed.
Rocky put down the remote control. "You don't wanna watch that one," he said. "Come on, let's go out for some dinner. I'll bet you haven't had any real food in a long time."
Buster blinked at him with a confused expression a few times before remembering that restaurants existed. With a sudden, "Oh!", Buster jumped up from the couch and followed his brother outside.
The pair arrived at a sit-down restaurant with a name as generic as they come. Buster had never noticed before he had left civilization, but so many places had such simple, stupid titles. The name of a person, append apostrophe S. Or the name of some kind of plant with the word "The" in front of it. Not a lot of variety.
"Hey, you coming, or what?" Rocky called. Buster was called back to reality and he hurried along to catch up to Rocky.
Inside the restaurant, it was rather dark. It was also VERY loud to Buster. There was music playing from somewhere, but Buster couldn't figure out any of the notes or lyrics. It was all just a bunch of background noise.
"Lupo, party of six..."
Buster looked towards his brother who was talking to someone who he guessed was the greeter or something. What was that word... Lupo, Lupo... What did it mean, again?
"Come on, Buster, this way," Rocky said with a smile as he began walking into the restaurant. Buster followed after him.
"BUSTOH~~~!" Before they had even arrived at our table, a kid came crashing into Buster's legs and hugged him tightly. He was completely taken aback. He had all but forgotten that kids existed. But who was this kid?"
Rocky smiled and picked the kid up. "Hey, Gavin! How ya been?"
"Yeah, and I see, unkoh BUSToh!"
"Yeah, uncle Buster!" Rocky turned to his brother. "This is Gavin, your nephew. How old are you, Gavin?"
"I'm one... two... FFREEEE~~~!" Gavin smiled brightly as he counted the numbers on his fingers.
"Ooh. Cool!" Buster said, pretending to sound impressed. Funny though, he figured Gavin wouldn't have remembered him at all. After all, he was only one year old when he had left. Then it registered in his mind. "Wait, if Gavin's here, then..." Finally, he remembered. Lupo was Buster's last name!
"Welcome home, Buster~!"
The loud cry came from a nearby table.
Sitting at the table were his family members! His mother, Gabriela, his father, Samson, and his older sister, Samantha (Who also happened to be Gavin's mother).
Buster's heart filled with joy as he ran to meet them at the table. He was met with the heartfelt greetings from all of his family members as they quickly began to exchange stories.
Rocky took Gavin and sat down quietly, listening to the conversation taking place.
After dinner, the family had spent hours talking and telling stories at Buster and Rocky's parent's old house where he remembered spending his childhood. It was all of the usual stuff; just catching up on events, letting everyone know what was going on with them right now. Buster told many stories about his life in the forest, as did his family about life in the suburbs. They would laugh at a joke from Samantha or an innocently ignorant comment every now and then from Gavin. It was great fun. It had been so long since Buster had really talked with anyone that he hardly remembered what it felt like.
It wasn't until late at night that Rocky and Buster finally made it back to the apartment. They were both tired and Rocky had to go to work in the morning. Despite being in an unfamiliar place with a make-shift bed, Buster didn't find it at all hard to get to sleep.
See my page on DeviantArt for more information.
- I've removed a little note I accidentally left in the text (I originally only sent this to one of my family members and I wanted him to know something)... Anyway, spelling/grammar reports are always welcome, as well as any constructive criticism you may have! Thanks!