(This story was an entry for Clue #4 in the 2013 Treasure Hunt -- see the collection for related stories and images! It is also an entry in the 2013 Family Time Contest -- see that collection for more contest stories and images!)
Laughter had watched her parents play a friendly game of Poke-Hoop earlier in the night. She had enjoyed watching their efforts and listening to their friendly, loving banter. Eventually, after Cloudfern had clearly won, they had abandoned the hoop and spears, and had headed back to the Dentrees, arm in arm, and wanting some "alone time."
Coyote had been called on to cubsit, and Laughter had been very excited to spend some time with her brother. When he had arrived, he'd taken in the situation and asked her about the game.
She'd explained that they had been trying to throw spears into a circle, and had shared that she didn't see why it was so important.
Coyote's eyes had widened in a serious expression, and he had squatted in front of her, taking her hands in his own, and saying, "This is the most important task - learning to be accurate with our strikes can help with hunting. If you don't practice it, you won't get good at it. But practicing is not always fun, so it's been turned into a game."
Laughter cocked her head. What her brother said made sense, and she believed him, but she also got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Wasn't her mother always warning her not to listen to everything her brother told her? Still, it did make sense to her, so she wasn't going to question him - yet.
"Can I try?" she asked.
"I was hoping you'd ask, little one," Coyote responded, releasing her hands as he stood and ruffled her hair. "Let's collect the spears they left for me to clean up."
Laughter giggled. She knew that Coyote had done something to earn their mother's ire, and Starskimmer had tasked her with making sure that he followed through. Getting to be in charge of her brother was a special treat, but at least now, he wouldn't grumble about it, because he was going to teach her.
When Coyote had the spears, he returned to where Laughter stood watching him. "Which do you want?" he asked her.
The cub was smart enough to know that she wouldn't be able to throw a spear any distance at all. Hands on her hips, she stated, "I can't throw one of those spears."
His eyes widened and he smiled. Then, she noticed something shift in his gaze, and she wondered what he was thinking up next. "Well, since your father is with our mother, I don't think we could get him to shape one your size right now. Why don't we make our own?"
Laughter smiled and ran to where she was sure to find some sticks, then returned with the largest one she could carry. "Carve it for me?" she asked him.
Coyote shook his head for some reason, but reached his hand out and took the stick from her. Then, pulling out a knife, he sat down and began whittling it.
Laughter sat down next to him. "So when you're done, I'll have a spear I can throw into the ring?"
"When will you be done, Coyote?" She stifled a yawn, and looked at him as he worked, slowly shaving one end of the stick.
"As soon as I can be, sister," he replied with what sounded like sincerity.
"If I take a nap, will you wake me up when you're done?"
"I will," he promised.
"And if you take too long, will you teach me tomorrow night?"
At that he paused. "If I take too long, then you come find me tomorrow night, and I will teach you."
"You promise?" she asked.
"But what if I can't find you?" Laughter continued. She knew that her brother could be tricky.
"If you can't find me tomorrow night, then try the night after. When you do find me, I will teach you."
"All right," she responded, yawning and leaning into him. "Let me know when you're done," she requested and then, closing her eyes, she fell asleep.