True Edge awoke to the feeling that something was amiss. He had been so tired and had slept so deeply that it took him awhile to return to his senses come the nightfall. As he did so, though, the feeling that things were not right became stronger and stronger. Casting his mind back, which seemed easier than actually opening his eyes, he tried to remember what it was that seemed so important that it disturbed his sleep.
He had returned to the Holt a couple of nights before, after a long scouting mission. That much was easy to remember, but then what? Snowfall had been there, but was leaving with the hunt that was setting out the very next night. Their reunion had been all too brief, but she promised to return soon. He had also learned, Kestrel was off with the word-hunters. While he would miss both of his mates, they would return soon, he realized.
Then, as his eyes fluttered open he remembered the part in all of this that he was missing. As if he felt the tension in the air his eyes focused on the other side of the den to the dark-haired girl-cub who was staring back at him. Oh yes, that had been what Snowfall had told him just before she left. Since they had thought he wasn’t going to be back yet it had been planned for Fadestar to stay with Nightstorm until she or Kestrel had returned. Since he was back, though, it struck her as fitting that the two of them should spend some time together. While he had been too tired, and distracted by their reunion, at the time to question that notion it appeared from Fadestar’s glare that she was not at all pleased with the prospect.
Normally, when they were all there the whole group of them slept in one big pile. Without either of his mates there, though, Fadestar had pulled some furs over into a corner of the den. While that didn’t particularly trouble him, the girl's stare was a bit bothersome. He always had the impression that she was a bit scared of him, or maybe resentful. Whatever the case, it was something he didn’t understand and had rather hoped would sort itself out in time.
“What?” he asked simply, if a bit groggily as he reached for his leathers and got up for the evening. When that was met with sullen silence he merely shrugged and got himself dressed. If she didn’t want to talk, so be it. Still, though, he knew Snowfall and Kestrel both hoped that they could mend whatever it was that was between them. With a sigh he turned to look at Fadestar again.
“Are you hungry?”
“No,” she said, looking away from him now.
Why was it that the she-wolves could be so inscrutable sometimes? If something bothered her why didn’t she just come out and say it? Then again, he knew she had been through a lot and that things hadn’t been easy for her. The trouble was, he didn’t know how to help. It seemed to come so easily to Snowfall and Kestrel. What would they do in a situation like this? While he was considering that, Fadestar had gotten up as well and was pulling on her leathers. This only took a moment and without a word she turned to leave the den.
“Where are you going?”
Again the silence, but this time he was not inclined to be as lenient as he had been before. She was his to care for and that was something he took very seriously. True Edge could not allow her to openly defy or disrespect him.
The sending had some force behind it, and probably a bit more threat than he wished to convey, but it had the desired effect. She stopped, stiffened and turned to face him with a look of shock and anger in her eyes. He thought he saw the fear there that he had noticed before, but was pleased to see she stood her ground and didn’t shrink away from him.
“I said, where are you going?”
She only hesitated for a moment before snapping back, “Does it matter?”
“It does. You might not like it, but I’m looking after you. I’m making sure you're taken care of and that you pull your weight. More important, though, I want to know that you're all right.”
“Well you're right, I don’t like it,” she said in a low growl. “You're not my father, to be in charge of me! I don’t even see how Snowfall and my sister put up with you.”
His eyebrow quirked up a bit as he regarded her. Fadestar’s face betrayed her emotions all too readily. She seemed to resent him to a degree and probably feared him a little. Moreso the latter at the moment, because it seemed she thought she had said too much. True Edge took it all in stride, though.
“You’ll have to ask them how they put up with me, cub,” he said, voice kept carefully neutral. “And you're right, I’m not your father. If he were able to say it, though, he would want for you to be cared for… and you will be. Now, where were you going?”
She hesitated, but only for a moment. Something akin to pride swelled within him. She was uncertain and a bit fearful but faced it well. She might not be his daughter by blood, but that didn’t mean he didn’t think of her as his, in a way.
“I was going to the river to clean up and then to help with the nets.”
“All right, then. Go ahead.”
For a moment she looked at him, not quite comprehending what he had said.
“Just like that? If you were going to let me go anyway, why did you stop me?”
“So that we could take a few minutes to understand each other. Be back here before dawn and don’t leave the Holt without telling me.”
“I’d rather go to Nightstorm's den.”
“No,” he said simply, but emphatically.
Turning away from him, a soft growl barely contained, Fadestar stormed out of the den. Behind her, True Edge watched her leave with a thoughtful expression on his face. This girl-cub was a difficult one to understand. It had been easier with Quick Fang. If she growled he only had to growl louder. When she bit, he bit back harder. Once that was accomplished they then understood each other. Fadestar was going to make him think a bit more than that, though.
Climbing down outside of the den himself, he found a comfortable place leaning against a tree and began chipping at the rocks which were his project for the night. He needed to replace a knife that had been lost out on patrol, and it also gave him a good chance to think. When his mates were there the girl was fine, for the most part anyway. Of course he had stayed out of the way to let them do the parenting since they had more of a knack for it than he did. How was he going to make this as easy on her as he could?
In the distance his ears picked up the sound of Fadestar’s voice. Again he was reminded of how much she had lost and how hard it must be for her. Maybe there were no easy answers, but much like a wound that was cut off from fresh air, the problems between them would only fester unless they opened them up and worked them out. That was what he was going to try and do, at any rate.