Beetle glanced over her shoulder at the cub who had somehow appeared in her den and, without further ado, buried herself deep in the furs. Then she looked back out the door to consider the driving rain. The wind pushed it nearly horizontal and skyfire lit everything up to stark whiteness before being chased away by the rumble of thunder. It was beautiful, stealing her breath away as she pressed a hand to the arch of the door and leaned forward. She wanted more than anything to be out in the storm. Ever since her father had shown her the spiral burn skyfire had left in one of the older oaks on the edge of the Holt and she was old enough to really properly feel the awareness everything had to the storms... She wanted to understand skyfire so badly she could taste the charge in the air. One foot edged forward.
A pull at the hem of her shirt drew her up short and she turned to look into slanted leaf-green eyes, wide with terror. Foxtail's fingers showed white-knuckled in the fabric and her other hand pressed a fist against her mouth. She practically radiated terror. Fear made her mind an open field and her sends came through, unguarded and uncontrolled.
Little Foxtail was old enough, though, at least four turns old; she knew better than this how to control herself. Beetle smothered the discomfort twitching low in her stomach and reached down to untangle the chubby fingers. "It's just a storm," she said. "Just a..." Her words trailed off as her hand was captured by the cub's smaller one and her fingers were squeezed mercilessly. She winced and dropped into a crouch so she was face to face with the small redhead. "It's just a storm," she repeated slowly, not sure if Foxtail was understanding her. What did she know about cubs? It was all she could do to keep herself out of trouble sometimes! Forget a cub.
Foxtail's lower lip trembled and Beetle felt the panic clutch at her stomach again. Awkwardly, she used her free hand to pat Foxtail's curls. When the cub responded positively and leaned into the touch, she gave a silent sigh. Then she drew Foxtail closer and stood, fingers tangled together. First she tried to tug her to the doorway. No luck. Foxtail dug her heels in with a startled whimper and a single tear escaped to roll down a baby-fat cheek. "Look," she sighed. "It's just a storm out there. I just want to show you that it's nothing to be afraid of."
Foxtail shook her head violently, yanked her hand away, and scampered back to the furs. Within moments, she was curled up beneath them, snug as a tree-wee in its den. Beetle sighed and lowered herself to sit, legs over the edge of her doorway, shoulder against the gentle curve. So much for exploring the storm, she thought. She might not know a lot about cubs but she could understand fear.
And no one should be alone and frightened, she thought, even if the company was less than ideal. Resting her palms flat behind her, she leaned back onto braced arms, determined to stay with Foxtail. When another tiny noise drifted to her from beneath the furs, though, Beetle bit her lip. Company was more than being in the same den, she thought. Quickly, she stood up and crossed to her bed bowl. Peeling back the furs, she was greeted with startled grass-green eyes and a trembling mouth. "Shh, cub, just a storm," Beetle whispered again and this time she underscored it with a sending of the curiosity and excitement she herself felt. Foxtail allowed the fur to be tugged from her grip and then, when Beetle held out her arms, came willingly into them. Hoisting the small redhead, Beetle walked towards the opening of her den. She felt Foxtail shiver again but she nuzzled at curls and earned a faint sigh. At least Foxtail was no longer sending wildly.
When Beetle reached the doorway, she adjusted her hold on the cub. Carefully, she turned her so they could both look outside and see the lashing rain and flashes in the sky. **See? Just a storm.** She felt small hands shift and little arms wrap around her neck. Unsure whether or not it would ruin the coming bravery if she looked, Beetle held still and focused on supporting the cub in her arms. Then she felt Foxtail's cheek come to rest against hers and she relaxed, shifting to allow one hand to stroke along the cub's back. They stood together in perfect silence and watched the rain fall.
There would be other storms this season, Beetle thought. This moment, though, would only exist Now.