(This story is a part of the "Wrapstuffed Tribemembers are Healed and Rejoin the Tribe" and the "Newt emerges from wrapstuff, and Aftermath" storylines -- see listings for related stories.)
Curiosity was not a state of mind limited only to the elves of the forest, nor were the wolves they shared the Holt with only capable of feeling concern toward their bonded elves. Both of these emotions were running strong in Spirit and Lightjaw as the two she-wolves oh so shyly nudged the door-hide away, padding on cautious, quiet feet into the darkened den they usually shared with their bonds.
Of course, the den was not truly abandoned. None in the Holt were unaware of the sobbing that had filled the den though the cool of the night and on through the day, only giving the source of it time and peace to let the initial surge of grief run its course. Farscout, by no means a stranger to this den, lay in exhausted slumber not far from the entryway. Lightjaw's Greenweave and Spirit's Cloudfern were nearby, their daytime sleep light and unhappy, braced even for a peep or sending of need from the small creature sobbing in their den. Though Lightjaw was the curious one, it had been Spirit's concern that had finally stirred the two wolves from the sides of their bonds and sent them all but sneaking into their own tree.
Lightjaw sank down on her haunches in front of the sleeping niche, her ears twitching at the occasional hiccuping sob that emerged from the pile of furs on the bed.
**Elf-pup?** Lightjaw wolf-sent to her companion, her curiosity mostly replaced by confusion. There was no doubt that there was indeed a cub at the center of all this fuss, but that didn't explain why the fuss to start with, or why their elves had vacated their den over it. After a moment of working her nose in the direction of the bundle, she added, **Stranger elf-pup?** Which tweaked her curiosity all over again -- where had this half-grown stranger appeared from?
Spirit aimed a derisive snort at the younger wolf, then turned to poke her white snout a bit closer to the hidden cub. **Greenweave's pup,** was the return-send, backed with calm certainty. The elves in question shared a similar blood-scent, all the more noticeable for the pup being wrapped up in furs that smelled of Lightjaw's elf.
It was Lightjaw's turn to cast aspersions on her friend's reasoning as she sent a doubt-laced mental image of Greenweave with the cub-big belly that Quick Fang had sported not so long ago. Both wolves had experience with the strange behavior of their elves, but Lightjaw was sure that not even they could have managed that particular feat.
Spirit did not even bother dignifying the question with a response aside from a withering glare, then turned back to the young one and his hidden misery. Cubs shouldn't be alone and crying, whether they were of elves or of wolves, that much she was sure of.
**Sickness?** Lightjaw suggested by way of explaining why the youngster had been left alone, but even she didn't put much stock in that idea. Elves didn't leave their sick to heal or get better on their own, as was sensible; they hovered and badgered, risked growing ill and made sick elves –- and sometimes sick wolves! -- drink and eat strange things.
**No sick. Hurt. Scared.** This came with the memory of Cloudfern on those rare days when Greenweave was not present and, more recently, even when he was, waking from bad dreams in tears and burrowing against her like a frightened cub himself. The memory made up the pale wolf's mind for her, and she climbed onto the bed as lightly as her old joints would allow.
There was a soft gasp from the furs, then stillness for a long breath before a hesitant face, wan and topped with white hair, peeked out of the furs. For the briefest of moments, recognition seemed to shine in his near-translucent blue eyes, but then died.
“You're not mother's wolf,” he managed, voice choked and hoarse. But, in the end, it seemed not to matter as the cub curled against Spirit's warm flank with a sort of weary desperation, his hair blending with her fur even as he dampened her coat with fresh tears. Spirit whined softly, bowing her head to lick the hot, miserable drops from his pale cheeks.
Lightjaw made no sound or send as she joined the two on the bed, curiosity sated by Spirit's decision. Wherever the young one had come from before or where he would be mattered little enough -- he was theirs to look out for.