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    Grumpy Bear
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Worlds Apart - 25. Epilogue – An Atikokan Homecoming

The enclave of Atikokan was buzzing with activity.  Spring had arrived, and as the last of the winter snow melted, the area around the werebears’ home saw the emergence of lush spring wildflowers as well as an abundance of bare skin, as the bears shed their heavy layers of clothing in favor of loose-fitting cargo shorts and tank tops.

The village was bursting at the seams with visitors who had come from all over North America for the big event.  Today was the day that ten polar bears from the Arctic village on Ellesmere Island were arriving at their new home in Atikokan.  Most of the Sturgeon Bay bears, led by Gunnar and Mike, had arrived the previous day for the event.  Nameer had taken time off from his new cardiology practice in Sturgeon Bay as well, not wanting to miss the opportunity to join in the festivities and the playtime that was sure to follow, but also eager to see his son Shivay and Siku again for the first time since moving to Wisconsin.

The tiger and polar bear couple, along with Charlie the cat, had arrived in the late morning, bringing Izz the sun bear with them.  Izz was visibly excited to be in the company of so many friendly bears that he was grinning from ear to ear, and the Atikokan crew were equally as excited to have their first sun bear in their midst.  The day-to-day operations with the restoration of the El Capitan Hotel was left to the twenty resident fisherman bears, who were happy to have earned Siku’s trust over the winter and were well on their way to turning their lives around.

Siku spoke with Gunnar prior to the trip and had several cases of fresh fish shipped to Atikokan in advance of his flight to help feed the hungry crowd of bears.  Fishing had gone exceptionally well over the winter with their expanded fleet and crew, and the Canadian bears were thrilled to open the shipping cases full of Pacific sablefish, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, sanddab, and live Dungeness crabs.

Upon arrival, Siku and Charlie went to inspect and assist with the preparation of the seafood bounty for the feast later that afternoon, while Shivay greeted the many bears and looked for Nameer.

“Has anyone seen my father?” he asked Joel, as the black bear bustled past with a load of folding chairs under each arm.

“I’m guessing you’re Shivay, and your father is Nameer, the other visiting tiger who arrived yesterday, right?” Joel asked with a grin.

“Yes, sorry,” Shivay said, “I should have introduced myself first.”

“Since we only have two tigers in the village,” Joel replied with a laugh, “Introductions are a moot point, especially since we’ve already heard all about you from Axel, and your dad has done nothing but talk about you since he arrived!”

“I’m sure my father has managed to find something else to do besides brag about his son!” Shivay said with a smirk, “Otherwise he would have been here to greet me at my arrival.”

“Oh, he’s found a way to keep busy, all right,” Joel said, still grinning. “You might want to check Ezekiel’s cabin down this path and on the corner.  I think he’s been keeping our Grand-Papa entertained since breakfast this morning.”

Shivay rolled his eyes, and Joel laughed heartily and hoisted his load of folding chairs off to the spot where the picnic area was being arranged.

The tiger walked down the path to the cabin that Joel had indicated and knocked on the door.  He was greeted by a short, distinguished-looking bear wearing a pair of loose cotton shorts and a big smile on his face.

“Why if it isn’t Shivay!” Ezekiel exclaimed, grabbing the tiger by the hand, “I’m so excited to finally meet you!  Axel has told me all about you, and of course your father is just about as proud as can be!”

Shivay smiled at the bear and pulled him into a hug, dispensing with formalities.

“And you must be Ezekiel,” he said in return.  “Siku has also told me all about the ancient Grand-Papa of Atikokan.”

“Ancient!” Ezekiel exclaimed with a laugh. “Makes me sound like I’d fall over and shatter into a million pieces if you gave me a good hard nudge!”

“I can attest,” Nameer said, emerging from the bedroom, also clad only in a pair of loose linen shorts, “That this bear can take a good hard nudge and more without breaking!”

“Father!” Shivay exclaimed in a scolding tone for Nameer’s suggestive language, but the tiger laughed in return and strode across the room to hug his son.

“Welcome son!” Nameer said, “I see that you are doing well and that life with your bear is a happy one.”

“Insanely happy,” Shivay confirmed, looking his father over.  “And I see that you have fully integrated into the werebear way of life.  You have even chosen to grow a handsome beard!”

“Just making up for lost time!” Nameer said, stroking his new facial hair proudly. “The bears in Sturgeon Bay have made me feel so welcome in their community, and now Ezekiel and his Canadian bears are extending the feeling of friendship and brotherhood even further.  Except for the birth of you and your sister, I don’t know when in my life I’ve ever been so happy!”

“I’m happy for you,” Shivay said. “Things really have seemed to work out well for everyone.  Except mother, of course.”

“And how is my Lotus managing her new life as a single woman?” Nameer asked.

“About as well as can be expected,” Shivay replied.  “She has returned to work, re-opening her medical practice.  The other female tigers in San Jose tend to avoid her.  She’s become something of a pariah.”

“Hmm,” Nameer said, “That’s funny, because when we were married, she was more of a piranha!”

“Father!” Shivay scolded, holing back a chuckle, “That’s not nice!”

She’s not nice,” Nameer commented, “How have the Sunday dinners with her and your mate been?”

“We’ve only been to her house a handful of times,” Shivay replied. “At first, she was extremely hostile to Siku, but each time, Charlie would give her a death-stare which somehow had the power to silence her wicked tongue.  The last couple of visits have been almost pleasant encounters.  In fact, at the last dinner, she not only prepared a heaping platter of samosas for Siku, but she also filled her prized antique crystal bowl with fresh tuna for Charlie.”

“I’m pleased that she seems to be making the best of her situation,” Nameer said to Shivay before turning to Ezekiel.

“Are you ready to join the rest of the party, Grand-Papa bear, or do I need to give you another lesson in the teachings of the Kama Sutra?”

Ezekiel chuckled.

“I think I’m ready for a ‘study break’ before I try any more of your advanced techniques, tiger,” he replied. “I don’t know what that last position was officially named, but I’m calling it “The Human Pretzel.”

Father!” Shivay scolded again and Nameer and Ezekiel burst into hearty laughter.

****

The bears gathered in loose clusters at the reception area waiting for the van carrying their new friends from the airport to arrive.  All five of the bears on the Council were in attendance along with their cubs, and they stood together in the first group who would be meeting the van.  Shivay and Siku mingled with Dom and Barry and several of the other Sturgeon Bay contingent a few feet away.

“Grand-Papa,” Gunnar said to Ezekiel as they waited, “I know that you’ve spent a lot of time this winter visiting Corbett in the Council prison.  Have you gotten any more insight into why he ingrained such a culture of prejudice against the polar bears in his village for the last thousand years?"

“As a matter of fact,” Ezekiel replied, “I did, and it was quite an eye-opening discussion, one that traces the werebear lines back to their very origins.”

Ezekiel had the attention of the other eight bears now, and he chose his words carefully in explanation.

“All this time, we’ve assumed that the brown bears originated in northern Europe with Odin, the black bears originated in the Americas with the Native spirits, and that the polar bears were born of the Inuit peoples and their ancient gods.”

“Yes, that has been the accepted history,” Thomas replied. “Are you implying that Corbett thinks we have it all wrong?”

“Corbett is nearly as old as Matthias, but the difference is that his own Papa was already ancient when Corbett was found and turned.  It is from his Papa that he was told of the true connection between the brown and polar bears, and the feud that existed between them from the beginning.

“According to Corbett’s Papa, brown bears and polar bears were both created by Odin,” Ezekiel continued. “Brown bears were created south of the Arctic Circle, and polar bears in the north.  Odin loved both of his bear creations equally, but the two clans were jealous of one another and any attention that Odin showered upon one only caused additional resentment from the other.

“It culminated in a great war between the two clans of bears.  Although the polar bears had the superior size and strength on their side, the brown bears dominated through sheer numbers.  Eventually, the polar bears were driven from their original homes in what is now northern Scandinavia, and ventured across the Arctic, finding a new home and purpose among the native Inuit peoples who revered them as bear spirits and protectors.

“Many millennia later, after the first dababbi war when the culture and society of the European werebears was fractured, Corbett took a band of young Cubs who had been orphaned by the battle with the dababbi and ventured across the frozen sea to settle alone in the extreme northern regions of Canada.  The cubs knew nothing of the war between brown and polar bears, as the history of that event was remembered only by a select few, but when they encountered the polar bear tribe living upon the very same island which they had selected for their new home, the teachings of Corbett’s Papa surfaced once again.  He did not teach them of the war, only that polar werebears were the inferior species, and were animals to be killed on sight.  The cubs learned these lessons earnestly, and only now, another millennia later, are we finally poised to end the prejudice, bigotry and jealously once and for all.”

The assembled bears reflected on Ezekiel’s tale for several seconds before Axel broke the silence.

“I can understand what it’s like to be taught poor and inappropriate werebear behavior by an ancient Papa who has held onto the past and kept himself and his cubs isolated from modern society, but I cannot yet forgive them for what they have done, or what they tried to do here in Atikokan.”

“Perhaps time will heal the scar upon our history that has been left by these events,” Ezekiel commented, “But for now, let’s celebrate the joining of our polar bear allies into our family and brotherhood.  I think I see the van arriving coming up the road as we speak.”

The van pulled to a stop in front of the assembled group, and Nukilik, the former leader of the polar bear village was the first bear to exit the vehicle.

Unlike the first welcoming event the year prior, the polar bears had taken the time to change into modern clothing before their arrival, and were all similarly dressed in new cargo shorts, hiking boots, and colorful tees that clung to their powerful chests and arms.

Nukilik approached the lead group containing the Councilmembers and extended his right hand, grasping Ezekiel’s by the forearm in the traditional werebear greeting.  The other polar bears followed suit and spread out amongst the assembled crowd shaking paws and even hugging their new brothers with happy enthusiasm.

When Nukilik arrived at the pocket of bears from Sturgeon Bay and San Francisco, he stopped briefly, looking at Siku eye to eye.  The two bears could have been actual brothers, they looked so much alike, and when he extended his paw to the other polar bear, Siku grabbed him by the shoulders and hugged him tightly.

Nukilik hugged his brother bear back just as tightly and when they parted, both of their cheeks were damp with tears.

“Brother,” Siku said, “I would like to introduce my Mate, Shivay.”

Nukilik grasped Shivay by the shoulders and pulled him into another hug, but he looked up at Siku in surprise after catching Shivay’s scent.

“Brother,” Nukilik said to Siku, “I know this is another shifter, but I have not encountered one of his kind before…”

“Shivay is a tiger,” Siku explained.  “In our new culture, shifters of all kinds are free to join in bonds of friendship and even as fated mates.”

“I am honored to meet you, Shivay,” Nukilik said, finally releasing the tiger.  “I never imagined that the world of were-creatures was so diverse…

“Or filled with such exotic and attractive specimens of manhood,” he added as he noticed Nameer standing to the side of his son.  “You are tiger as well?”

“Yes,” Nameer confirmed, “I am Shivay’s father.  Welcome to our brotherhood of friends!”

Nameer was pulled into another hug by the big polar bear, and as his face was pressed into the muscular chest, he detected a subtle change in Nukilik’s scent.

After Nukilik released the tiger and moved on to the other bears in their group and then continued on his way through the crowd, Nameer turned to Siku.

“I’m no expert in bear scents and their meanings,” Nameer said, “But I couldn’t help notice that big bear’s scent changed while he held me in his tight embrace.”

“It sure did,” Siku said with a chuckle, “That new scent that you detected was about as subtle as a freight train to the rest of us bears.  That was the scent of sexual arousal.”

“Oh, my!” Nameer said, blushing and looking down at the ground in embarrassment.

“Oh, don’t be so surprised, father,” Shivay commented dryly. “The bears may not be able to translate tiger scents, but I can.  You were giving off the scent of arousal in waves while that bear hugged you!”

“Hmm,” Siku said, grinning.  “Having the hots for a big sexy polar bear must run in the family.”

****

After the initial greeting was complete, the assembled group migrated over to the picnic area to enjoy the feast which had been prepared.  The new polar bears were amazed at the bounty and variety of things which were available to eat, having never seen such a vast array of food in their entire lives.

“Do you all eat this way all the time?” one polar bear asked his new brown bear companion as they sat at a table.

“Well, this is a special occasion,” the bear replied. “But you’ll learn that we can come up with a reason for special occasions at the drop of a hat!”

Nukilik brought his plate piled high with fish and other tasty treats over to the table where Gunnar and Axel sat with Mike and Adam, and stood uncomfortably, not sure if it was appropriate for him to sit with the high-ranking bears.

“Hey Breezly Bruin,” Axel said with a grin, “Sit the fuck down and take a load off!”

“Thank you,” Nukilik replied, sitting, “But my name is actually Nukilik.”

“I know,” Axel said with a sigh as Gunnar tried not to break into a belly laugh and further confuse the poor bear, “Breezly Bruin was a Hanna Barbara cartoon character from the 1960’s.  He was a polar bear who was best friends with a green seal named Sneezly.”

Nukilik sat looking at Axel, blinking.

“I feel like I have mastered conversational English fairly well in the last few months, but I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he replied. “I don’t have a green seal for a best friend.  I have eaten quite a few seals in my day, but I don’t think a green one would be very appetizing.”

“Fair enough,” Axel said with a grin and a sigh before shoving a whole halibut fillet into his mouth.

“I did have something serious that I would like to discuss with the two of you, though,” Nukilik said after taking a few bites of his own pile of fish.  “I’ve been thinking about this ever since arriving this afternoon and meeting some of the others here in the village.”

Axel and Gunnar looked at the polar bear expectantly, but instead of continuing, he turned pink and shoveled more fish into his maw.

“Well, for fuck’s sake Breezly,” Axel finally said impatiently, “Don’t keep us in suspense.  What is it that you want to talk about?  What’s rattling around in that big white furry noggin’ of yours?”

“Well,” Nukilik said finally, visibly embarrassed, “When the bears Hank and Glenn first came to our village and communicated to us in their bear forms, they told us that they were Papa and Cub, which I can understand.  Polar bears could have Cubs in the same manner if we were to find a kindred human to turn.  But, since arriving here, we have encountered many pairs of bears who are obviously Papa and Cub, but instead introduced themselves as Mates.  Even a polar bear and a tiger who are quite obviously not Papa and Cub introduced themselves as Mates.  I don’t understand this concept.”

“Well, you know that Mike is my Cub,” Gunnar explained, “But he’s also my Mate.  We’ve made the decision that our love for each other runs so deep that we wish to remain together as a couple for the rest of our lives.”

“Same thing with me and Adam,” Axel added. “Since I turned him, he’s only made me a better bear all the way around.  You may not believe this, but I used to get on people’s fucking nerves pretty fucking bad before Adam came along.”

“You don’t say,” Nukilik said, and Gunnar stifled another laugh by taking a swig of his beer.

“So, what’s the problem?” Axel asked.  “You afraid that you’re not gonna get laid at the party tonight cause everybody here is already paired up?  I think you’ll be in for a surprise, because even committed Mates enjoy having playtime with other bears.  It doesn’t affect the feelings that we have for each other.  We can play with whoever we want, but we always come back home to our Mate.”

“It’s not that,” Nukilik replied. “Although it is good to know that I won’t be stepping on any toes if the… playtime, as you call it, progresses the way I think it will, I was just wondering if I could select a… Mate of my own.”

“Well sure,” Axel said. “When you meet that special bear and fall in love, you’ll know.  Nobody else on Earth will make you feel the same way that your Mate does.”

“If that is so,” Nukilik said, standing up from his seat at the table and raising his voice with determination, “I am ready to select my Mate.  Now.”

“Whoa there, Breezly!” Axel cried standing up and trying to get the bear to sit back down. “You just got here; you’re allowed to take your fucking time!”

“By your own admission,” Nukilik said, “Nobody else on Earth will make me feel the same way that my Mate does.”

All the bears in the picnic area had now stopped eating and had turned to look at the big polar bear’s announcement with anticipation.

“Therefore, I have made my decision and selected my Mate.”

He looked around the assembled group until he saw the pair of green eyes looking at him and his heart fluttered in his chest.

“I choose the tiger.  Nameer!”

 Siku and Shivay dropped their forks, and even Charlie’s orange head snapped up from her bowl of Dungeness crab in surprise.

Nameer stood up and began walking toward the polar bear, slowly at first and then faster and faster as he ran past the picnic tables and into the waiting arms of Nukilik.  He threw his arms around the bear’s shoulders and their lips met in the most passionate kiss ever before seen at a bears’ picnic.

The stunned silence from the crowd continued for approximately three additional seconds, before the entire village erupted with cheers.  Bears of both the brown and polar variety crowded around to slap the newly mated pair on their backs and offer congratulations, most of which went unheard as the new couple had still not broken their kiss and looked like they were not planning to stop anytime soon.

Siku and Shivay stood off to the side of the circle surrounding the newest polar bear and tiger mates, and Charlie leapt to her spot on Siku’s shoulder, reaching over to tap Shivay on the cheek with her paw to snap him out of his shock.

“I did… not see that coming,” Shivay finally said.

“I did,” Siku replied, and he reached up to scratch Charlie on the top of her head.  “I knew as soon as I got a whiff of Nukilik’s scent after he met your father.”

“He was aroused by my father,” Shivay said, “But how could you have possibly known that he was going to choose him for a Mate so quickly?”

“Because,” Siku explained with a grin, “It was the same scent that I produced when I first met you, there were just no other bears around at the time to notice.  If you’ll remember, my love, it didn’t take either of us very long to recognize our true Mate once we met him either.”

“You’ve got me there,” Shivay said, still staring at his father, kissing the big polar bear in the middle of the group of their cheering friends and brothers.  “And you were obviously correct earlier as well.”

“About what?” Siku asked.

“Having the hots for a big sexy polar bear must run in the family.”

If you've enjoyed this story, please make sure to leave a recommendation and a review! - 💙Grumpy

Copyright © 2021 Grumpy Bear; All Rights Reserved.
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Great epilogue and we finally found out what the deal was with Corbett and his feeling about the polar bear shifters.  Loved that Nameer found his mate and like his son; it is a polar bear.  Now that truly is symmetry.  

I do hope that Shivay's mother can continue to grow and eventually will find herself working toward being a better person.  Maybe she can find her true mate as well.

What a delightful gathering; may the group just continue to grow in friendship and strength.

Well done, @Grumpy Bear

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Love this story and all your stories in this universe.  Keep 'em coming! Hugs

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I loved the hell out of this story have you read a story and got so excited you don’t want to put it down and even sleep 🛌 well I have lost a lot of sleep cos of this story 

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What another great entertaining story! Truly enjoy ur series and writing! I'm very thankful you were able to complete it!

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