Dreamflight wearily made her way back to her family's den. Though Honey was in wrapstuff and Greenweave had moved out, Dreamflight couldn't think of it as only her den. She sighed. She’d just spent an unproductive night fishing at the river. The fisher wanted nothing more than to collapse onto her bedfurs and fall asleep. The sound of whistling, coming from inside her den, brought her up short. What was Birdcatcher doing there?
Dreamflight groaned to herself. She loved her grandfather dearly, but right now she didn’t want company – his, or anyone’s for that matter. It seemed that she had no choice, though. He was already in there, and short of sending to him and asking him to leave — which would be rude — she had to accept that collapsing onto her bed furs immediately was no longer an option.
She took a breath and stepped into her den. “Morning, Grandfather,” she mumbled, looking at the ground.
“Good morning, denmate!” he said cheerily.
Dreamflight looked up. “What?” she asked, looking around. Why were her grandfather’s belongings now in her den?
“I said, ‘Good morning, denmate!’” he repeated.
Dreamflight shook her head. “When did you —? Why would you —?” she was frustrated. It had already been a long night, and now this. She didn’t need, didn’t want, a denmate.
“I was worried —”
Dreamflight cut him off. “You were worried. Of course. Everyone is worried. Except for the one person who should care. Well, don’t worry about me. I am fine. I don’t need to be cubsat!” she spat.
“Well, I do,” he said plainly.
His statement caught her off guard. He needed to be cubsat? By her?
Seeing her look of puzzlement, he went on. “Dreamflight, I… miss your mother. A lot. And some days, I’m not sure how to handle it. My little brother went into wrapstuff a long time ago. I never expected Honey to follow him. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again — I hope I do. But in the meantime… I could use your support. Your uncle would probably let me stay with him, but I thought… well, maybe you wouldn’t mind the company as much.”
Something about the way he had said it — maybe the resignation and sadness in a voice that had seemed cheerful just moments before — made her rethink her initial refusal. Maybe it would be good to have him there, to not be alone. At least they could comfort each other.
Dreamflight nodded her acceptance, and Birdcatcher caught her up in a big hug. The combination of exhaustion and unreleased grief finally melted, and she relaxed into his arms, sobbing. **need you, too,** she admitted. **Thank you.**
No words were said between them. None were needed. Their tears mingled together until both were spent. Then, Dreamflight helped her grandfather find places for his belongings.