This is a quick story set in the FBA Universe, created by Buck Hopper. Daniel Quvianuq is a polar bear Center for the Seattle Summit; he spends a good bit of the off-season with his parents in their hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Summit was bounced out of the first round of the playoffs this season by the Alaska Arctics, and now that his season is over Dan has come home to reconnect with his family. Big changes have happened, however, while he was away.
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Daniel dropped his fork and gaped at his mother, Nukka. The sound of it hitting his plate was amplified by the tense silence of the two bears around him. Nukka looked down at her salmon, flaking it. His father Peter stared across the table at his wife, hands in his lap. His expression was blank.
At first Dan thought it was a joke, and they were both committing to it in a way he hadn’t known they were capable of. He smiled cautiously. His laugh was a nervous poke at his mother. “What?”
Nukka’s voice was quiet, meant only for the seared fish on her plate. Dan perked his ears to hear it. “Your father and I have decided–”
“Your mother is leaving me.” Peter spat the words, hackled raised. “Her heathen family has poisoned her against our union.”
Nukka’s face shot up at that, a look of surprise curdling into disappointment, then anger. “Peter…”
It was a growl of warning, a murmur of supplication. Dan’s father was unmoved.
“I…I don’t understand.” Dan put his hands on the table and leaned back in his chair, which creaked in a comforting and familiar way. “What’s going on here?”
“Oh for God’s sake, don’t be slow about this!”
“Peter!” Nukka slammed her hands on the table, making the plates and silverware shudder.
They glared at each other across the table, and Dan could feel his ears flattening against his head. He felt the need to hide, an instinctive drive to run somewhere safe and stable. The table felt a lot less sturdy than it did just a moment ago.
His father lowered his eyes first, sinking into his chair with a long sigh. “Sorry, sport. Your mother…” He tapered off.
“We’re not…” Nukka continued. Silence fell for another moment. Dan could tell both of his parents were struggling for some sort of explanation.
“This is hard,” she said. “It’s just…I’m just not sure I can be Catholic anymore. And your father, well…it means so much to him. He can’t have a wife who’s left the Church, and I know he can’t support me trying to get closer to my side of the family.”
“They’re wild, Nukka! They believe in all kinds of ridiculous magic and pagan gods! They EAT PEOPLE–” Peter’s voice rose steadily now, his anger pulling his lips back, revealing his fangs.
“How dare you!” Nukka rose in her seat now, her full seven-foot frame filling her side of the room. Now her teeth were showing, ears pinned back, white fur risen along the back of her neck. “You know that is a filthy lie and you know it! You just can’t stand that your fucking Church–”
“STOP!” Daniel bolted up from his seat before he even realized what he was doing. Both of his parents stared at him, anger draining from their faces. “You’re killing me. I love you both, but you’re just killing me right now.”
“I’m sorry–” Nukka looked down, grabbing her dress in her hands and twisting the fabric.
“No, it’s…how long has this been going on?” Dan looked from his father to his mother. “Every time we’ve seen each other it looked like things were fine. But this couldn’t have come out of nowhere.”
Nukka sat down, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and took a deep breath. “You know, when you were recovering from your knee surgery in your rookie year, and you were up here doing the community outreach stuff, your uncle Anyu called and said how happy he was you were taking an interest in your heritage. We just…started talking then and…” She shrugged, as if that explained everything.
Dan stared blankly. “So…two years ago? But why are you leaving the Church? Why are you getting divorced?”
Nukka shook her head. “I was never happy in the Church, Daniel. It was…something I thought I would learn to love because it was such a big part of your father’s life and…I loved that about him. But it…I just never liked it. I kept going for both of you.
“When your uncle called and I started reconnecting with my family, I just couldn’t do it any more. I tried talking to Peter about it, but you know how your father is.” She glanced at Peter, a hard edge creeping into her words.
“Uncompromising when it comes to the Word of the Lord? Yes. We can’t have anything to do with that nonsense.” Peter crossed his arms and stared at Daniel. “You and I, we know the truth, and we walk the path. Even if your mother strays, we’re solid. We are devoted to God.”
“Don’t pull me into this.” The words escaped Daniel’s mouth automatically. They stunned him, just like they stunned his father. He thought about how long it had been since he had been inside of a church; all the people he’s met and worked with who seem happier without religion in their lives; that night…
Daniel looked at his father and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Dad, but…you can’t pull me into this. I’m not going to be fought over.”
He looked at his mother, who was beginning to cry. “Ma, I love you. I love both of you, but…you need to figure this out. If you’re going to split, then do it. Call me when it’s settled.”
He stood up, trying to ignore the quiet sobs of his mother and the burn of his father’s gaze against his back. He had to get out of here. He couldn’t see his parents like this. It wasn’t right. None of this made any sense.
“Where are you going?” His father’s voice had taken on that harsher growl he was so familiar with. His ears folded automatically.
“I’m going home to Seattle. I can’t be here.”
“Son. You are home.” Peter sounded almost pleading. Dan kept moving. This wasn’t home any more, and it wouldn’t feel like it for a very long time.