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[Open] Spoka lights

The white-clad soldiers of Coruscant patrolled the access points to the events, prohibiting anyone inebriated or on rebellion watchlists from entering the several blocks where the event took place. Within the festival streets, cautious parents and military spouses donned white vests, protecting the children from those who may have slipped through the checkpoints and reassuring those who got lost or scared. Coruscant's fall festival had never lost its roots as a community event, even now that it had grown so large it catered to all tiers instead of the neighbourhood that started it.

The third tier, where the majority of the festivities were held, was a constant throng of people. Parents followed their children from one distraction to another or sat around small bonfires sipping mulled wine or cider. Gleeful children in facepaint and costumes ran wild, chasing each other from stand to stand collecting trinkets and treats in true Halloween fashion. Giant pumpkins hollowed out and mounted on wheels like carriages ferried around families on tours of the decorated streets, dropping them off in a park where a fake pumpkin two stories tall was being used to cook a delightful smelling vegetable soup.

Banquets were set up in apartment lobbies, with queues of attendees stretching down sidewalks. Stores from throughout all of Coruscant competed against family recipes in contests of pie baking and chili cooking, jam preserving and cake decorating. Between face painters and fortune tellers sat little food stalls serving sweets and savoury dishes that could be eaten while walking, everything from candied apples and spun sugar to meat pies and fried chicken. Stands selling hot drinks stood on every corner, despite the temperate weather typical of Coruscant's atmosphere.

A haunted house was set up for the little ones at the center of the festivities, each child given a small ghost-like lantern before sent through dimly lit rooms of ghosts and goblins, draculas and dragons. Gold Cross volunteers walked alongside them to aid the least hardy of the young ones, each one dressed up with glowing accessories to make them easier to find. Below them, in the fifth tier Gold Cross field office, a second haunted house had been constructed for the more daring adults and youths. This too, was chaperoned by more of the Gold Cross and protected by the stormtroopers not occupied with routine patrols, the festivities above, or the drunk and disorderlies that found their way down from the celebrations between.

Even the entertainment district of tier four had joined in, with macabre themed decorations in clubs and skimpy costumes to attract a whole different kind of attention. Many of the bars were packed full of young adults looking for liquid courage to face the terrors set up on the tier below or a distraction from their regular lives to enjoy the vast array of parties surrounding them.
[Image: jattend.gif]

A kid donning a cute little outfit of his favorite primes, Jak was walking around cutely. He was so fascinated with the prime that he had hoped Stormtroopers in Couruscant didn't confuse him for the real man. He had begged for the real effects and everything as he held his blue bag. "Yay! Halloween! I love this time of year."

Stormtroopers smiled at times looking at the kids hoping around. A few kids had donned prime appearances that weren't in trouble with the law on and off.

As the shy boy was walking, Auburn looked around as some kids began to tease him on the choice of outfit he decided to wear.

"Ugh, you picked that prime? Don't ya know he got in trouble multiple times here in Courscant? "

Auburn grunted "At least he fought hard."
[Image: oNAS6Nu.png]

[Image: Darkdata.png]Jak/Mar- Dynamite Kid/ DA 2018" (Translated text)[Image: hVDTXBF.gif](Thanks Ezzy!)

The Infamous Dynamite Kid- Sasuke

DA 15
DA 16'
DA 17'
DA 18' 

The tall Prime found his bearings eventually, and with some kind efforts, he was told he'd have to take the elevator down to Tier 4 if he wanted to reach his destination. This had been more work than you'd imagine, as most people were alarmed first by his size, secondly by the bright red collar around his heavily branded neck. Several people even avoided him because of it.

"Excuse me!" Dust cheered, having lost count how many tries he's made at this point. "May I have a moment of your time?" he directed his question to a woman in a thicker coat with a child pulling her around.

She was not having it, she tried to avoid eye contact with the contractor. But her child recognized him?!

"Dust!" he cried out, leaving his mother's iron-clad grip to race to the massive man's knees. "Wow! Is it you!?" his eyes lit up as he smiled up at Hokori. The missing tooth only added to the boy's charm.

"Y-You know me?" the prime asked.

"Yeah! You were so cool in Dante's Abyss!" he praised, then turned to his mother. "He's the wolfman I was talking about, mum! You should have seen how he ripped that guy's throat out!" the young child's excitement was infectious, but his mother didn't look happy to hear about her son watching gore-filled entertainment.

Dust's shoulders tensed up and he flailed his hands in her direction with a reddened face.

"N-Not that I encourage any of th-that. I just... Ya know... Was trying to survive." he frantically explained to her.

"Oh but that wasn't the best part! I saw you and that other guy moving together like a pack! Me and my friend Sam tried to do that, and... Well, we didn't do it nearly as good... And I kept falling. But I wanna be just like you when I grow up. Strong! Fast! And... Wow! You are so tall! You are like a bajillion stories big!"

This brought laughter to the two adults.

"I don't think a bajillion stories... But close." Dust squatted to the ground to be close to his size. "But if you want to be big and strong you gotta eat right, exercise, and sleep well. Ok?" he lied. He didn't like to, but he knew that's how the boy would be healthy. And if he could use his influence to do a good thing, then it was almost worth the white lie.

"You must have done a lot of those things to get this big!" the child reached up and touched his hero's arm. "It feels like solid steel, mum." Hoshi-kun laughed and flexed a little so the boy could feel it move. "It's alive!" he pulled away even if he was still fascinated by it! "Wait? You still have your collar on?" he asked, reaching over and grabbing that too.

"Jason... It is impolite to just grab onto someone's things." his mother warned.

"He's alright." Dust smiled up at her, then looked down at the boy. "Can you read what it says?" he had to be like ten years or so.

"Um... There are a lot of big words on this one." he was handling the Coruscant tag. "But I know this symbol. It's for the Empire." he sounds excited. "Does that mean you are working for us?"

"Of course it does." Dust explained, with a smile. But he wasn't sure. He hasn't thought about the consequences of being the Empire's plaything until now. Surely... If they collared him they mean to keep him. But they were allowing him to go see the Avengers. So they can't be cruel, right? Nothing like the Russians. "If I am around, you don't have to be afraid of anything. I will keep you safe," he promised.

"I believe you!" Jason explained, and then went back to the tags. "Oh. This one says your name." he then turned it over in his hands. "And that... You like head pats." he readout with a laugh. "Is that true? Can I pat your head?"

Internally he glared at Allen, clearly, the scientist meant for this to happen... Outwardly though, he couldn't bring himself to break the boy's heart. Also, it was all in good humor. Allen wouldn't have done this with malice intent, that was more Yoi's thing.

"Of course," he submitted sweetly. The boy brightened and started to climb up on Hokori so he could reach his hair. The boy then began by ruffling up his long locks, then gently patting them down. Petting The Dying Star like a dog. Happy as he could be.

He must have given the parent a look that was just pathetic enough that she felt she had to pay him back though. After a bit more conversing, she'd been the one to tell him he needed to go down. She was kind enough to also give him instructions on where to find the grand elevator that would take him to any tier he requested via a button. With a wave goodbye to them both, he headed in the directions she'd told him. Following the instructions step by step so as not to get lost, he arrived just in time to catch it before going down.

Inside were numerous people and as customary elevator etiquette, he inched his way into the back given how tall he was. As soon as he was close, his sense of smell picked up the scent of cinnamon, sugar, spices, and all manner of sweets. By the time he reached the back corner, he swore someone snuck a bakery in on it. However, apparently his pace had been too slow for the machine they collectively agreed to ride on, and it began its descend abruptly. This threw him off just enough that his balance went a bit wonky and the towering Lychanthrope fell forward.

Thankfully he wasn't far from the wall, secondly though that he also had good reactions for the time being. His hands slap the sides of the lift as he caught himself from crashing into a smaller fox girl hiding in the corner with stacks and stacks of boxes. His shadow eclipsed the light from reaching her body, but his face made up the radiation of heat that may or may not be there as he accidentally ended up pinning her somewhat against the back steel-colored wall.

"G-Gomen'nasai okusama," he sputtered out, only turning brighter red when he realized he was speaking Japanese instinctively. "S-Sorry! I just lost my footing." he fretted. "Are you okay?" he asked, ignoring the sound of tags clinking together and the strong scent of cookies wafting from her and her boxes.
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

With the festival beneath her feet in full force, Larisa escaped the calamity by running to higher floors for supplies - more lights for the haunted house, more spices for the giant pumpkin cauldron, more goods for Graham's parent's bakery. The current trip was for a small wagon load of nearly two dozen boxes of assorted cookies. An extra box, smaller than the others, had been given as a token of appreciation, but she found on the elevator down from tier one, most of those extra cookies went to small children to keep their sticky fingers occupied and away from her tail.

When the elevator took off after floor two, a loud thud echoed above her head as a man slammed into the wall above her. Under normal circumstances, she would have shrugged it off. After setting up the haunted houses on both tier three and tier five, all unexpected events were terrifying. The fox shrieked, both hands lifting to muffle herself while Larisa's brain processed her current situation. With calm, heavy breaths, Larisa blinked at the large man looming over her; tail bristled up like a bottle brush and ears flattened against her head. Instinctively she had fallen back as he did, leaving a generous gap of space to avoid contact. The face was obscured by both proximity and lack of light, considering how tall he was, but she could tell it was a he, and that his face was a steaming red. The fox lowered a hand to her chest, subtly reassuring her self that such an awkward stare hadn't been caused by a wardrobe malfunction... though the look he had implied distress more than embarrassment. 

"Tass bem. Relax."

Larisa used one of the small cookies to distract the tall man from his anxiety, while a gentle finger pressed against the bridge of his nose pushed him back into his own space. The fox frowned at her tail and the complete disarray the paint was in. It would be a difficult task to fix all that, one that she couldn't do alone or immediately, as the elevator rolled to another stop. 

"This is where most people will get off, as well as myself. There will be many guards here if you are lost." She eyed the man from head to toe, the stiffness in her poise a clear indicator of her distrust. "You seem like the type to get disoriented easily. They'll have maps too." 

A cacophonous wave of sound and smells wafted through the elevator doors as they opened. Filing out with as little fuss as possible, Larisa paused in the door with her cart full of snacks to look back at Hokori. There was nothing wrong with the man. He was just awkward. A trait she couldn't fault him for.

"The festival is open to the public, but if you aren't a normal citizen," she motioned to the strange electronic collar about his neck,"you should probably come now so I can let you in. They keep it under strict guard to keep everyone safe."

A strange sensation blighted Dust at the touch of her slender finger against his nose. Partly because it was not a personal reaction he alone owned, the beast within whimpered submissively and Hokori had the urge to shake his head and snort. Not unlike an actual dog. Surely, the collar was getting to his brain. Instinctively though, he reacted just as she wanted him to, leaning back onto the balls of his own feet, creating a wall between her and the rest of the people on the elevator.

His reward? A comically small biscuit placed between his index finger and thumb.

How does the tallest Avenger react? By putting the sweet treat half-way into his mouth. The sweetness touched his tongue and the saliva soaked the flaky buttery cookie until it was almost as effective as dunking it into a hot cup of tea. His compliments to the baker was a low moan of pleasure while the tiny fox woman composed herself and prepared to leave for whoever needed so many boxes of these things.

The lift came to a gentle stop and Wolf found himself drawn to the nose-booping girl's plight. It looked like a lot to handle by just one person. Furthermore, what kind of person would he be if he didn't at least offer to assist? Rude, that's what kind. The lycanthrope moved without thinking, pushing the cookie further into his mouth and following the agreeable woman right out of his ride to the fourth tier and grabbed the corner of the cart's handle in a motion of his offer.

"I wouldn't call myself normal by any means." he scoffed shily. "But... If you have reason to think that I do not belong here naturally, wouldn't it be a bad idea to let a stranger in like that?" he challenged her judgment, only to smile a fairly charming grin.

The dog-like kind of smile that maybe needed another cookie.

"That was a bit ominous... Maybe I shouldn't shoot myself in the foot so easily." he chuckled and whether the fox-eared girl wanted to relinquish her hold on the cart or not, he took it in his own hands and pushed casually at her walking pace. "I am, in part, with the Empire. So no worries on that front, I won't be starting any trouble." Dust had more reason not to make waves than anything. If he could stay on good terms with the Empire, the Avengers, and the public of Coruscant he may be rewarded with more freedom in the future. Given how he had no idea what was in his future and how long of a path he'd walk side by side with the government here, it wasn't a bad idea to be as good of a good boy as he could. "My name is Hokori, but everyone calls me Dust. It's easier." Introductions were always a good start.

As they walked his senses were assualted by all kinds of noises like chatting parents, screaming happy kids, and the smallest squeek of her cart's wheels; Scents that were sweet, savory, sour, and even some bitter ones like the smell of coffee filling patches of the open air; And the decorations that dotted everywhere he looked were festive and brilliant - he couldn't say much for the colors give his situation but he imagined they had to be bright and eye-catching if even he had a hard time ignoring them.

"You said a festival? This looks amazing!" he complimented the designers and whatever committee had to be formed to make this a possibility. Let alone a success! His neck stretched one way and craned the other in order to admire every detail he could in what looked like a lot of work.
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

Larisa startled when the tall man took ahold of the wagon handle, nearly misstepping. She shook her head to clear the anxious feeling of danger it rose to the surface as she answered his question.

"The Festival is open to tourists but you either need to give advance notice or have a civillian vouch for you. Story is, rebels used the festival to attack the upper tiers in disguise a few years back. Something about a bomb threat that never saw execution, but I can't say for sure." Larisa motioned to a child with jack'o'lantern face paint run by as she lead Hokori to the security gate. "Masks have been banned for that reason and you can't get in without clearance. Lucky you, I happen to have friends in higher places."

Larisa handed off the wagon to Dust while she wove around a departing family to one of the stormtroopers in full uniform. She was much more relaxed with this man, a slight grin causing her entire appearance to lighten. Larisa pulled her soldier back to where she had left the giant alone with the cookies.. hiding the pleasant surprise when Hokori hadn't touched the boxes. She rewarded his great effort with another biscuit; the stormtrooper removed his helmet to snag one of his own. Larisa gave Hokori a cautious look as she chose her introductory words carefully.

"Dust this is Lieutenant Trevor. Trev, this is Hokori. He is-"

"With the Empire labs." Trevor motioned to his own neck, to indicate he recognized the collar wrapped around Hokori's neck. "I thought the Gold Cross didn't work with Tear?"

Larisa huffed, shutting the open box of cookies closed and pulling it from the soldier's reach. "We don't, I don't, and these cookies aren't for you. Hokori wants to see the festival. Does the collar work as I.D if you can recognize it?"

Trevor shook his head, but waved dismissively. "Normally, no, since they don't typically let guinea pigs wander, but I'll let it slide just once. The wolf's got a bit more of a reputation than you, Fox. The collar means he's safe enough to let out but if he causes problems you call." The soldier shushed Larisa with the hand still holding a piece of cookie before she could object. "No buts. He might seem harmless now but you can't handle it yourself if he goes rogue."

Trevor turned from Larisa to Hokori with a stern look, one that would make even the most egotistical of criminals think twice. "This Festival is real important to the comunities and for keeping the Gold Cross running. Might look pretty but we are fully prepared for primes like you running amok. You stay low and stay quiet." The lieutenant placed the helmet back over his head with one last stern glare at the giant man before waving them through and returning to his post.

Larisa let her giant lead the way through the gate, her tail drooping in a misery that failed to show through the mask she put up.

"I'd better bring all these to the Graham's stall. Food is mostly down to the right while crafts are on the far end and games to the left."

The fox gently pried the wagon from Hokori's fingers, ears twitching as she tried to keep up her peppy exterior. She took a few steps away and a few deep breaths, calming enough to fluff up her bushy star-painted tail; giving Hokori a shy smile over her shoulder. "I'll see you around, kay? Got a few more hours of work to do today."
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Dust was complacent in his reactions, as he often was, the excitement of a brawl and a damsel in distress aside. He submitted to Lutinient Trevor's taunting with a smile that he hoped conveyed his hopes to not piss anyone off in any of the other departments. Surprised though that his transferal was so known so quickly, Lycan didn't particularly think he was that special. Although, when Isard of all people gave a test subject the time of her very important day, it likely rippled down the grapevine quick enough to give gossiping parties whiplash. Wolf just didn't believe himself all that impressive or important.

Everyone else seemed to argue.

"Absolutely sir." He waved his hands defenselessly as he was accused of being a threat to the little fox girl. "I'm just passing through, sir," he promised.

It wasn't until he looked over and saw Larisa's tail drooping like a kit left in the downpour that he stopped caring what Trevor thought of him... As someone who has gotten used to his temporary appendages broadcasting his moods - as if anyone needed them, he wore his heart on his sleeve practically - he understood her body language on a personal level. Excusing herself, she took back the wagon and started to walk away.

"If I come with you." he started, getting her attention back to him as he trotted back to her side. "Then we can get it done twice as fast." he offered to take the cookie wagon back. "That's what this event is all about, right? Community collaboration and helping those who need it? Put me down as the Avenger's volunteer. After all the crap I put them through, some good publicity might help make things better." he laughed out loud at that.

Would anyone care? Would this make it up to the community? He wouldn’t know unless he tried. And if he wasn’t trying to fix his mistake in every way that he could, there was no excuse for him.

If she told him to go enjoy himself, he would. But enjoying a celebration was hard when you were solo, so he probably would just end up begging for scraps at every vendor - all of which smelt amazing and he believed the scraps would be worth it. Not the most glamorous thing to do with his freedom, nor the most heroic. Now that Dust had a moment to think about what his free time would be spent on, he hadn't an answer. When Wolf wasn't being dragged to a place to do a thing, he was dealing with wounds that might have killed any other man, and staring into space with no ambition to dream of.

As a contractor, he didn't even have the luxury to dream. Now? He didn't even know himself as much as people typically did at his age.

A problem for another time, now it was Larisa.

"What do you say to that?" he asked, struggling with his smile because he wasn't sure if it was a good time to do so. It made the hopeful pup seem unsure and awkward against the festive lights.
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

Larisa watched as a little kid ran past, a costume she didn't recognize with what looked like ears. Her tail twitched ever so slightly to the left as if nervously vibrating. Hokori had given her no reason to doubt his honesty; something she couldn't say for all of Trevor's men. She turned to him, head tilted as she studied his faltering smile.

"The last time I had this many people around me, I only misjudged someone's character once. I don't plan on making the same mistake but for all your bulk and apparently destructive history, Hokori, I don't feel the need to treat you like a prisoner. Trevor is probably right, and you have that collar for reasons I don't want to go into, but someone saw fit to let you wander the streets and I'll trust their judgement until I can make my own." Larisa handed him the cart with her head held high; knowing full well that James was likely still watching. "My name is Larisa Versailles Semenov, former biologist, and now a doctor with the Gold Cross. I formally apologize for my friend's callous social skills."

The fox wavered in her stance as she tried to pretend she was more confident than anxious mess. It was one thing to practice against a woman only four inches taller. Staring down a man so tall she had to crane her head backwards to meet his eyes was an entirely different and thoroughly more ridiculous affair. She turned about on her heels quickly; trying to hide her awkward sigh of relief as she noticed the roads clearing for the carriages rolling by. 

"I'll just make sure to have you stop by the pumpkin pot in the park for a media cameo; make it look like this was a planned contribution for you, but first we need to deliver these to Sugar Stone Bakery down the street. You'll know it when you smell it."

Larisa lead the way forward with bated breath, hoping against odds that only Trevor had heard of whatever calamity her new acquaintance had caused.

True to her word, the smell caught them before they caught sight of the quaint booth decorated with little bats. Larisa paused to breath deep, all of her anxiety slipping from her shoulders. The relaxed grin on her upraised face didn't last long; replaced swiftly with a look of surprise and a small squeak as a small child collided into her legs. 

"Adam! You have to be more careful. Is your dad back yet?" 

The little boy ignored her; his jaw dropped at the sight of the giant behind her. "You never told me you were friends with a werewolf! Does this mean you're a werefox? Do all were-people know each other? Why is Dust wearing a collar? Is he-"

Larisa pulled her young friend away from Dust with a hand over his mouth to stop the incessant questioning. She gave him an apologetic look as she introduced the boy.

"Hokori, this is Adam Odell. He recently discovered how to ask questions and now he won't stop."
[Image: jattend.gif]

Hokori was used to suspicion. Even when it couldn't affect him as it did now, he understood that it was a natural survival technique native to anyone human enough. This was rightfully the proper time to cast concern over the company she was keeping as well. Just after a comrade has all but marked him as a creature to be cautious of. It was as simple as casually explaining to anyone that danced in the shadows of his world that he was a contractor. Plenty of people would be wary even if they didn’t fully know what that was.

At least here he had the unique position of just being a werewolf. Maybe a menace to buildings, and a little eager in all things he did, but no one was beating him within an inch of his life and throwing him into a cell. So the Omniverse was better in that instance.

“Sounds good.” was all he managed when she was explaining about the pumpkin pot. A park? That sounded nice.

He’s already decided he likes the outdoors more than he liked the walls that choked the testing chambers he spent this whole time. The scent of salt and ocean was a part of him now, forever embedded in his mind as the most fun he’s ever had; Swimming was decided his most favorite of these activities. It also brought back the memory of meeting Higgs on the docks of that oceanic resort area of Dante’s Abyss. The island where he was sure he’d be forced to embrace death ended up being a place he embraced life.

Mistakes were made, but none as memorable as kissing Tasmin… Which he was embarrassed by all the same again and he felt himself turn hot.

He recovered from his trip down memory lane quickly by filling their travel time with small coos of interest at the different stalls and decorations. They passed massive displays with props that would have taken Dust step stool to put up. In contrast, some places focused on the products rather than the decorations so that cardboard and paper mache greeted those visiting. The larger prime only had words of admiration though for everything he saw. And whether he meant to be verbal about these positive opinions, or not, his walking partner heard them all.

Then the most delicious scent of warm sugar hit his nose. Without hesitation - or hiding it - Hokori inhaled deeply. He didn’t need her guidance at that point and he walked to it like he’s lived in this particular spot his entire life. As if this were his favorite bakery of all time and could find it blindfolded. They both silently basked in the warmth and comfort of the place for a small moment, time melting into nothing for a solid breath.

Only to be mildly interrupted by the startling discovery of Adam, who rammed into his escort. Bringing his attention now to the two smaller figures in front of him, Dust watched the exchange with full curiosity. Not unlike a stray that was lead here with the intent of begging one’s parents to let them keep it.

He felt his features stretch with the boy’s gasp in amazement. For a moment, he wondered if he’d done something wrong by coming along. Only for Adam to start bombarding him with the most questions a child could in one breath, at least before he was cut off by the mildly flustered fox he arrived with.

Dust’s laughter exploded from his heart and into the air as Larisa made an enjoyable joke, adding to the warmth of the room. Whatever tension was therefell away from his rocking body. After the stress of the situation and the chuckling subsided, Dust knelt for the second time today to meet one of his apparent fans.

“That’s fine. I don’t mind.” he accepted. It was hard for him to do… But he kind of liked being the good guy. More importantly, he liked being seen as the good guy. “Yo~!” he said, bringing his hand up in a friendly gesture. At least as non-threatening as a man his size could to a child. “Where’s your costume?”

Indeed the boy looked as civilian as anyone else at this point. Maybe it was a costume that Dust wasn’t familiar with, and if so, that was his bad. Eager to reply, the boy pushed past Larisa’s hands.

“I don’t have one. They said I can’t go trick-or-treating because I don’t have anyone to take me. What about you, where’s your costume?”

“I’m wearing it. See this collar?” he laughed nervously, pointing to it. “I am a dog instead of a wolf.” he tried.

“Oh… How come?” Adam inquired.

“Um… Well because I didn’t have time to prepare.”

“That makes sense. Even if I had someone to take me, I don’t even know what I should go as. What kind of costume would you wear if you had more time?”

“Well, I don’t know, honestly. What would you suggest?” Dust tried.

Adam stopped his questioning long enough to consider that, and after a moment he had the best idea. “I think you should go as a werewolf!”

“Huh? But I am a werewolf.”

“Exactly! No one would suspect it.” Adam said, using six-year-old logic that made Dust chuckle.

“That’s fair. Except becoming a werewolf is a little harder than it looks.”

“How come?” Adam echoed a precious question.

“Well… Because I need to provide my contract with payment.” Dust said, already trying to come up with a way to explain this.

“Oh, like in Dante’s Abyss? It was a kiss, right? Why don’t you just kiss Larisa?” he asked, pointing to the woman behind him.

Heat erupted in Dust’s face. Not only did this kid know about the kiss, but he also would suggest something so casually as kissing a girl he barely met!?

“Eh… It d-doesn’t work like that.” he strained.

“How come?”

“Well, I can’t just go around kissing people I don’t know.”

“How come?”

“It’s not very polite, you see. It can also get me into a lot of trouble.”

“How come?”

“Well kissing girls isn’t something you just do.”

“How come?”

“Because kissing is a special thing for some people. It can even be sacred. What if the person I kiss is married? Their husband or wife would be very upset with me.” Dust explained, trying not to look at Larisa instinctively. Or her hand.

“Wouldn’t they be more upset with you if that person could have been saved if you kissed them?” the six-year-old asked.

The twenty-something stalled.

“I supposed they would…” he admitted.

“So if you can save them and it's just a kiss, why would you not do it?”

“If that was the only way I could help them, I would do it.” Dust said earnestly. So much that Adam paused his questions. “But kissing someone just to do it is very wrong. I try to get permission as often as I can, which isn’t always a luxury in the middle of a fight.”

“Ah… Okay. I understand that. So… Just ask Larisa if you can kiss her to become a werewolf.”

“W-What?” Dust stalled again. Adam giggled, to Dust it sounded like the devil’s laugh. He couldn’t explain why…

The young boy turned at his hips and looked Larisa dead in the face. “Larisa, will you kiss Dust so he can go trick or treating as a werewolf?”

...This kid is going to get him killed.

Hokori chuckled nervously over at Larisa but pulled Adam to turn back around to face him.

“H-Hold up, Adam. W-Wouldn’t you want to come with me if that happened? Shouldn’t we focus on your costume first?” he desperately tried to switch gears. Anything to get off of kissing.

“Oh! I’d love to do that.”

“Well, why don’t I help you with that?” Dust tried.

“Then will you kiss Larisa?! I want to see you transform.”

...Kid… Please.

“Well let’s see how much time we have. Do you have any materials we can work with? Maybe a spare tablecloth for a ghost costume?”

“Well… Maybe…” he questioned it.

“Let’s go ask someone then.” Wolf invited, and stood back up. “Lead the way.” he offered.

“Ok!” Adam said, but before he could leave he turned to Larisa. “Get ready with that kiss, okay?” he said happily, then grabbed Dust by the hand and pulled him into the chaotic world of a six-year-old.
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

Larissa was greatful that Hokori entertained Adam's extensive questions, releasing the small child so he could rush to his newfound friend's side. The two of them were innocently charming, each in their own way. Despite the efforts of Graham and Carson, everyone had quietly accepted that Adam was her first real friend. His innocent curiosity knew no bounds, and only grew with everything he learned. Adam soaked up knowledge like a sponge absorbed water, something Larisa cherished from her own youth, and his energy was contagious. Hokori on the other hand, had a more delicate sense of innocence. He didn't have the jaded understanding of the world that Trevor had, but it was obvious he had seen just as much pain. Hokori cherished his surroundings like he was experiencing it all for the first time, and for all she knew, he was. Whatever it was he had done, wherever he came from, James was wrong to assume the worst. Hokori may be powerful than either of them truly knew, but he was no more a threat than Adam.

Less of a threat than Adam, even, if the little brat kept talking.

The fox turned her head away as the kid pointed to her, pretending to ignore them as she purchased warm cider from the nearest vendor. There was no mistaking the heat in her cheeks for windchill when the weather in coruscant was so well maintained. At least Hokori managed to change the subject. Rather awkwardly, but clumsy and quaint seemed to be his personal style. He even managed to save her from a rather direct attack by Adam's endless questions.

...Not that the evasion tactic worked. Larisa sighed as she followed behind the two, wagon in one hand and cider in the other. It was hard to resist smiling at how Adam pulled the wolf through the crowd, hand in hand. Tenacity seemed to run in the Odell bloodline.

Hokori and Adam reached Sugar Stone first, greeted by a large croud that reached to ruffle the giggling child's hair as he passed by. The crowd was packed, but they parted just enough for the two to squeeze through with Larisa just behind them. They cheered at the sight of the wagon and parted eagerly to allow the cart of boxes to reach the stall faster. Adam ran through a side door and reappeared on the other side of the counter with a muffin, while Larisa pushed Dust around to the front counter so he wouldn't have to crouch down to get inside. The fox couldn't tell the difference between six feet and seven, but the ceiling definitely wasn't tall enough for the wolf.

"Hokori, this is Marian soon-to-be-Graham, and Liam Odell, Adam's older brother. Marian's parents in-law own the bakery, but they're up at the store on tier one to do the baking. Marian, this is Hokori, I met him on the way here and now he's Adam's best friend."

Marian was a pretty young woman only a few years older than Larisa, with a gentle smile and the kind of aura about them that calmed and relaxed those around her. Liam, on the other hand, couldn't have been much more than 10, and looked almost identically like Adam. Just like his brother, Liam had energy to spare and a curious fascination with the giant Adam had brought back with him.

With Larissa and Adam helping, sugar stone's booth cleared out the crowd in a matter of minutes, each customer leaving with a cheerily wrapped package of baked goods, mostly cookies. Business slowed as the backlogged orders were completed, which gave Marian a chance to pull Larisa aside.

"Sugar, it's not my place to judge if you have a habit of bringing home strays but why would you bring your strays near the boys when their parents aren't here? That was reckless, you could have put them in danger."

"Marian." Larisa huffed, knowing full well that on a logical level, she was right. "Hokori isn't a stray. Technically. Besides, the cat was Elliot's idea. I am not picking up every stray I meet and especially not stray men, you should know me better."

Marian looked over at Hokori and smiled at the boys leaning over the counter to talk to him. "He is quite the catch, sweetheart. And good with Adam too. If you don't snatch him up, Elliot certainly will, but I stand by what I said. No more strangers unannounced."

Larisa groaned, turning away from her friend to join Adam just in time for Liam to challenge the wolf to an arm wrestling match.

"By the way, Marian, Adam wants to come with me on my last trip, we'll do some trick or treating on our way back and help pack up at the end of the day."

She didn't wait for an answer, not that she expected one that Marian would be willing to say loud enough for Hokori to hear. The fox cleanly hopped over the counter to sit on the ledge next to Adam. "Any ideas on that costume yet kid?" She leaned down to whisper, trying not to break Liam's concentration as Hokori mocked a challenging wrestling match with him. "We could make matching costumes with Liam too, if you want to."
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Dust wouldn't have admitted it, but as soon as he saw the big crowd in front of the shop the most unusual sensation overcame him. He felt like he was suddenly on display for the rest of the world to see. It was oddly upsetting and strangely out of character. He allowed himself to ignore the oddity and be pulled along the group. Like the polite Japanese man he was, Hokori bowed in hello to everyone who he made eye contact with.

"Konichiwa." he greeted Marian when they were introduced. "Yo." he greeted the slightly older boy as they went down the line. Then as silently directed by the boy, he took his spot out of the way of the customers that eagerly flooded the window for the delicious treats he had a hand in getting here. He watched with a simple fascination as the family and the fox sprang into action. As he stood there he felt the pain of guilt run over him as he'd promised to help, but because of his size he was better spent as a watchdog, it would seem.

Which he must have delivered on most wonderfully as he was rewarded with a cookie after the chaos settled and Marian pulled the Doctor he'd come here with to the side.

"How many boxes of cookies do you think you could eat, Dust?" Adam asked eager to satisfy his wonder.

"If they are this tasty, a dozen boxes easily!" he answered with as much excitement as he felt, practically barking like a large playful dog.

"A dozen, is that all?" Liam challenged from the other side of the counter.

"That's like... Forty cookies, isn't it?" Wolf asked with a cock of his head.

"Er... Something like that." Liam responded.

"Well. Can you eat Forty cookies?" Volk challenged back with a smile on his face.

"I could if mom didn't stop me at two or three," Liam whined.

This caused Hokori to laugh brightly, which spread to the boys like wildfire.

"Dust! Can you pick us both up!?" Adam asked with more excitement now that he was in the best mood.

"Of course I can." Dust responded with a grin. "I can pick you both up with one arm."

"Prove it." Liam challenged.

"Don't you believe me?" Wolf asked.

"Liam thinks that Dante's Abyss is fake." Adam chimed in.

"Eh? Fake... What do I gotta do to prove it."

"Pfft. That should be easy." Liam scoffed. "Let's arm wrestle!"

"Arm wrestle? I don't think I know how that works." Dust faked ignorance.

"What kind of man doesn't know what an arm wrestle is?" Liam scrutinized.

"A very sheltered one." Wolf defended.

"What does that mean?" Adam questioned.

"I'll tell you if I win, ok?"

"Deal." Adam chirped.

"Ok. How do you play?"

"Well. You gotta start with your hand like this. You put your elbow here." Liam said, jabbing his finger onto the counter where he will be putting his elbow.

"Here?" Dust asked, putting his huge elbow on the table right where Liam was pointing. It was far too close.

"No. You are on my side now." Liam scoffed again, shaking his head at how useless the werewolf was. "Your elbow goes over there." he pointed, and then pushed it to make his point. Or at least tried to. Dust's arm probably weighed as much as the boy did.

"Over here?" Hokori teased before putting his arm way too far to the edge of the table.

"No. Here Adam, give me your hand so I can show him." Liam demanded and his brother complied. They grabbed each other's hands in a firm grip that reminded Dust of his manly grip on both Gildarts' and Centurion's hands. "So you gotta grab my hand like this." he pointed to the grip. And when Adam says 'go' we gotta start pushing on each other's hands. Like this." he demonstrates by forcing Adam's hand to the other side of the table.

"Ohhh." Dust moaned in understanding. "Okay. I think I got it," he said and then moved over again, trading places with Adam. This time he placed his elbow at a more precise place on the table so that when he angled it to gently grip Liam's - well more accurately let him grab his hand firmly - the palms connected like they were supposed to. "Like this?"

"Yeah. Now, Adam, tell us when to go." Liam instructed.

"Ok. Ready? Set. Go!" Adam counted down.

Instantly Dust felt Liam's ten-year-old strength drive into his arm. It was decent, but compared to a prime with arms as big as a kid? It hardly registered. That said, Hokori let his arm get pushed back halfway.

"Oof... You didn't tell me how strong you were." Wolf whined.

"You didn't ask." Liam huffed, still giving it his all.

These kids... Where did they get this from?"

Dust pushed back weakly, careful not to break the kid's arm. For that purpose alone he didn't grip his hand any harder than he had to. He got about a quarter the way to his side before he gave Liam a break and huffed like he had been trying his hardest. Doing so his hand flung nearly the other way to the surface. They went back and forth a few times, Liam tiring out as he was giving his all. Hokori was struggling, but it was about whether to let the kid win or not.

It was far more delicate than just a matter of pride and building confidence. If Liam was the arrogant type it could easily go to his head. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sooner or later the boy might think he can challenge someone that was out of his league. Dust didn't want to be responsible for that. On the flip side, if the boy lost he might get grumpy and his day might be ruined before it even started. On top of all this, if Dust lost he wouldn't be able to prove he was as strong as Liam saw on television.

Larissa fell next to Adam who was judging the fight and made all this highly calculate struggle pointless. He'd been distracted with the boys so he didn't hear her, but her sweet scent hitting his nose got him to look up. Doing so distracted him just long enough for Liam to take advantage of his state and slam the back of Dust's hand into the table with some mild force.

He had lost.

Wolf looked up at Liam with his third-best puppy-dog face, "Best two out of three?" he whimpered.

"Nu-Uh. You lose." Liam said proudly, but reached over and ruffled his shaggy maroon hair.

This put a smile on Dust's face before he twisted his collared neck to look at Adam and Larissa. Giving them his best doggo grin.

"I have an idea," he explained, curling his arms back towards him so he could lean properly on the counter. "I'll need a white cloth and about as many of the cookie boxes as you guys can spare. Oh... And some tape, a sharpie... And if we can some kind of zip-ties." he named a couple of things.

"That's a lot of stuff," Liam said, what are you planning?

"You'll see." Dust smiled again.


A few minutes later he was sitting on the ground with the boys watching in conflicting confusion and amazement. He had summoned a cloth. For several reasons. Mostly because it was easier to do so and get the exact dimensions as he wanted than it was to go borrowing it from someone. As well, he summoned a few basic arts and craft items. He then started connecting stuff with pipe cleaners and tape. It was homemade and it looked it, but that added to the charm of it all.

"Okay. Here, Liam, you put these on." he offered the boy what looked like decorated knee and elbow pads - because they were - and what could be described as shoulder pads if they were made of cookie boxes. Lastly, he was given a fanny pack and told to wear it on his leg. In it were some extra 'parts'. Finally, he gave him the best cardboard hat that they could make so a part came down over his eye. Dust had spent a lot of time on this to use the plastic bits of the cookie box for a red-eye lense. "If you can help him with this, Larissa, I can help Adam."

"Sure." the fox-eared girl confirmed and did as she was asked.

While she did that, Dust equipped Adam with arm cardboard armbands, boots, utility belt full of crescent moon-shaped things, a quarterstaff made of the cardboard pipe wrapping paper for the cookies was on, and finally, the cloth. It was a brilliant white and despite knowing it wouldn't last the night before it was scuffed up and dirty, Dust was proud of the detail. He pinned it to either side of Adam's shoulders with safety pins and pulled the hood up with a smile.

"Man... You are the spitting image of Moon Knight." he teased the youngster.

When Larissa was done, Spector's partner was among them. Marcus Wright had been dealt enough damage during their fight at the tower that Dust saw the inside. He smelled off from the day they met, but Dust didn't ask too many questions. Turns out he was a terminator, some facts that slipped through the cracks of his training. He wasn't an expert, but he liked to think Marcus would approve.

"Oh man, when did Marcus get here?" he taunted.

"I don't even know who Marcus is," Liam said, flexing and testing his pieces.

"He's a cyborg. And tough. Not a man of many words, but he knows how to kick butt." Hokori explained, with any hope he wasn't too old to dislike robots.

"That's so cool," Adam said, raising his fists and getting visibly psyched up for this. He then turned his bright eyes on Dust. "What about me?! Who's Moon Knight?"

"Why... The leader of the Avengers!" exclaimed the werewolf. "He specialized in werewolves! I thought you'd like him since you were asking me so many questions." he paused to pull at the cloth he'd used as a cape. "And look, a cool cape in the shape of a moon."

"Wow!" They said in unison, but Liam was a little more sarcastic than Adam.

"Now we can fight crime together!" Dust pumped his fist in the air to emphasize his mood. The boys, caught up in the moment, jumped up in the air as well. Echoing his excitement.

"Wait." Adam stopped, pulling the hood back to look straight at Dust. "You have to kiss Larissa first. So you can go in costume, too!" he announced proudly. Not because he knew what he was saying, but because he knew he was right.

Dust, however, lost his footing as his leg bent sharply without his consent. This caused the giant to lose his balance and fall at none-other than Larissa's feet. He looked up at her with a bashful face full or bright red. As quickly as he had become excited the large prime became extremely shy. Quicker than expected, he swung himself up to sit up with his back to her. He reached up with both hands and struggled as he pretended not to have just made a fool of himself.

"Adam, I thought I told you that it isn't that easy." he pleaded with the boy.

"How come?" Adam whined.

"Because..." he trailed off and his massive shoulders lowered. How was he supposed to expressly explain what embarrassment was? Let alone help him to understand morality and why it was wrong socially to just ask things like that. How... How did you tell a child what insecurities were? How were you expected to do so without sounding even more pathetic than you already were? 

"Because Larissa is a lovely lady, my boss, and someone that deserves to be respected and not used as a means to an end. If I am going to ask someone I just met to kiss me it has to be a life or death situation because there are a million more factors in play. Pushing her to do something she probably doesn't even want to do is wrong. That's something that bad guys do. So... I'm sorry, Adam. Maybe I can transform for you some other time." he explained as best he could as he lowered his hands to his knees and waited.

For what, he wasn't quite sure.

The two young boys looked at each other, and Adam looked to Larissa, but it was out of child-like curiosity than anything else. Finally, he moved over and put his arm on the big man's shoulder.

"That's okay, Dust," he said with a smile lit with understanding and compassion.

For a moment, the werewolf prime was at a loss for words... Then he smiled sheepishly. "Thanks, bud."
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

"Adam remind me to teach you the definition of intrusive questions next week." Larisa placed a gentle hand on Hokori's shoulder to get his attention, helping him to his feet. She patted his shoulder as she let go, awkwardly stepping away to give him space. The fox hadn't failed to notice how bright his cheeks had turned when Adam asked him to kiss her for the... fourth. The fourth time Adam had insisted that he kiss her. Larisa swore under her breath, careful not to use anything Adam would genuinely register as a swear - which limited her to Russian and Portuguese slang. 

"Alright boys, let's head out. We can worry about Hokori's costume after I've finished this last delivery." 

True to his nature, Adam didn't give up on his plans. "So that means you'll kiss him, right? When you finish working?"

"Essa criança será a minha morte."

"What?" The kid gave her such an innocent look it was hard to believe he was entirely unknowing. It didn't help that Marian was doubled over laughing behind the counter.

"Nothing Adam. Grab a biscuit for Whiskey, okay? We may as well stop by since we'll be just across the street."

Adam gleefully ran to Marian, and even Liam perked up. Hokori just looked a little confused. Not that she blamed him. Marian was right though, she was developing a habit of picking up strays. Larisa forced a smile for Hokori, trying to reassure herself more than him, but she didn't seem to have anything to worry about. 

"Alright, Dust. We'll take a taxi to the center park, where they've got all the media. There's no elevators nearby the park so all the supplies were stored in empty apartments down the street. You can do whatever media coverage you want to do, and then we'll walk back here so the kids can do some trick-or-treating on the way back. Sounds good?" 

The wolf nodded, gently grabbing Adam as he tried to run off ahead of them. Liam led the group, with Hokori and Adam hand in hand behind him. Larisa ran her fingers over her hair, watching them go on ahead before sighing and following a few steps behind. "фокус." The fox chided herself, "Stop getting distracted." 

The four filed into a cordoned off line where the line of food stalls joined to the main roads, where large pumpkins had been hollowed out and carved to look like real carriages, complete with horses - fake horses, on wheels, but still real enough to be impressive - and a small robotic coachman to guide the carriage to its destination. Adam bounced on his toes, leaning against the rail as their carriage pulled up. 

"Dust have you ever taken a taxi before?" Adam pulled the large man behind him as he raced to the open door, jumping up the steps in his excitement. "It's so much fun, like a car except these ones only come out for special events. They turn them into sleighs for the winter and these big garden thingies for spring but the horses are fake so they don't make a mess and the little robot men have maps in their heads so they know all the best streets to take when there's lots of people on the road but they make everyone leave their cars at home when they have parties here!" Adam paused to take a breath as Liam and Larisa joined them in the pumpkin. 

The fox gave Dust a sheepish grin when she noticed just how cramped he was on the bench. "Sorry Hokori, I didn't realize how cramped they would be for you. Adam come sit over here so Dust can stretch out a little, sitting like that is bad for his spine."

Adam whined as Larisa pulled him across the cramped space to her lap, just in time to brace for the sudden jolting movement when the horses started driving forwards. Adam pointed out the windows to describe his city to Hokori, everything from the best place to get ice cream to the first place he fell on his bike, but Larisa lost herself staring past the wolf into empty space. Before she knew it, the pumpkin rolled to a stop and the boys all filed out. The fox stepped out carefully, making sure she didn't trip on the small steps. 

The park was filled with people milling about or sitting at picnic tables with bowls of soup. The pumpkin pot was at the very center, surrounded by a rather dense crowd. 

"Alright, Hokori, the press will be hanging out by the giant pumpkin all week. I'll grab the supply list from the head chef and then Adam and I will rejoin you when we're done. And," Larisa sighed as she looked around for Liam, "try to keep an eye on Liam, I don't want him getting in too much trouble."

Larisa grabbed Adam before he could vanish like his brother, kissed Hokori's cheek, and squirmed through the crowd in the general direction of the pumpkin pot. 


Essa criança será a minha morte  -  This child will be the death of me

фокус.  -  Focus
[Image: jattend.gif]

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