"Rooter, no!" Beetle stared at the pup with a mixture of concern and amusement. She looked back at her with perfect innocence, golden honey dripping from her snout and matting her fur into an impossible mess. Then her tongue flicked out in a half-hearted attempt to clean the mess before she offered her a goofy wolf-grin, jaws parted to show both sharp milk teeth and pleasure. "Oh, Rooter." Sighing, Beetle picked her way down from her den in the Child Tree until she could hop the final distance to the hard-packed ground. She half-wanted to cover her face, shut out the sight, and then confront it again in the hopes that something would have changed.
Things proved no better as she faced off her wayward bond nose to nose, though. In fact, the sticky mess just looked worse at this distance and Beetle felt her stomach clench in dismay at the thought of what both Willow and Windburn would have to say about Rooter's discovery and destruction. It had been hard enough looking everyone in the eye again after the shunning without Rooter doing something like this. The broken pieces of the clay jar lay scattered on the ground, a few honeycombs still intact in the mess. Bending, she began gathering them in a futile attempt to save some of the precious honey.
A slightly damp nose nudged at her elbow but she remained resolutely forward, back to the importunate wolf as she picked up another honeycomb and brushed off a bit of leaf mould. **No, I'm not going to look at you,** she sent, firm and colored with disapproval. It was easier to keep her frown if she was not looking directly at the curious pup and her ridiculous expression.
Ears angling forward, Rooter licked at her muzzle expectantly. A vivid image of the dripping, golden honey filled Beetle's mind, complete with a sense of growing hope, as Rooter shared her opinion on the subject directly. She allowed a moment for Beetle to consider the tempting idea and then opened the send to show the two of them with mouths sticky and sweet, honey matting fur and coating fingers. As if to reinforce her point, Rooter followed the idea with an empty-tummy growl and a nudge against Beetle's elbow.
**No. It's not your sweet stuff. I mean, it's not your honey.** Beetle picked up a piece of relatively intact pottery and set the cleaned-off honeycomb onto it. Perhaps she could salvage a bit of the honey. Rooter couldn't have had time to slobber over all of it, right?
The nose prodded her between the shoulder blades, a bit more force this time that nearly toppled her forward, unprepared as she was. Hurriedly, she clutched at her scavenged pieces and settled her footing again before spinning. The wolf pup looked at her with tilted head and perked ears, her muzzle relatively clean after a more thorough licking. Seeing her attention back on her, Rooter allowed her front legs to drop flat and her front half to lower, backside raised with her tail drooping down along her back. Matching the elaborate pose, a new wolf-send came to Beetle, a tangled show of previous mishaps and the resultant slinking off to lick wounds.
Beetle stared at the all-too-knowing expression and the clear position of penance. Then she shook her head and returned to the scattered honeycombs. "Rooter, I swear..." She trailed off and looked over her shoulder again.
Gaining her feet again, Rooter came to her bond's side and began nosing a piece of honeycomb across the packed earth towards Beetle's feet to show the best of helpful intentions. She looked up hopefully. An image spread between them of Rooter receiving ear scratches and looks of admiration after the honeycombs were gathered into a neat pile, every indication of Beetle pleased with her deserving bond. It was a potent concept of what Rooter seemed to believe would redeem her, of what would make her a "good pup." She gave the honeycomb another nudge to demonstrate her point even further with additional thoughts of **fixing, smiling kin, sharing good things.** Somehow she avoided licking the comb but the imagery sent all too clearly provided a visual clue that Rooter fully expected a yummy treat if she obliged her bond.
"... Yes, of course." Amusement overcame her worry and Beetle smiled before crouching to set down her rescued pottery and honey and then kneeling beside Rooter, wrapping her arms around the pup for a hug. Beetle buried her face into the shaggy fur and muffled her laugh as she returned the image of a contented Rooter lolling about beneath loving attention. **Good pups help... And stay out of the honey stores!**
Rooter's tail began wagging, thumping the packed earth until, unseen by Beetle, dust began to cover the spilled honeycombs again. Reassured and pleased with her success, she shared her joy with Beetle. ****Kin patting head, pup happy-warm, us-together sharing sweets,** the wolf pup sent. Judging by the imagery and the big wolfy-grin, Rooter thought she had helped appropriately and all was forgiven. Shaking her head with a faint sigh, Beetle rescued one particularly dusty honeycomb and offered it to her wolf-friend. This earned a yip of delight followed by a messy lick to her face before Rooter snatched up her "earned" reward, wisely retreating to enjoy it while Beetle went back to repairing the damage with a resigned smile.