(Ed. Note: Trip was the cubname of Honey, and Mud was the cubname of Greenweave.)
(Based on a story idea by Catrina and Beth.)
Trip could hear little feet on the riverbank behind her. She knew before the scent reached her that it was Mud. She grinned, then immediately frowned as her mind churned over what was going to happen. Cubsitting really wasn’t what Trip wanted to be doing right now. At almost two-eights of turns old, Trip was keen to make her mark as an adult member of the tribe. The cubgames Mud preferred with his five turn old mentality could sometimes get a bit... tedious. She let Mud wait, wondering if he’d break his silence. Trip half hoped that if she didn’t move he’d lose interest and head downstream to where One-Leg and Snaptwig were hauling in fish traps closer to the weir.
“Why are you just standing there?” Mud’s curiosity finally got the better of him and he asked.
“I’m fishing.” Trip looked over her shoulder as Mud waded out to join her. She gave the little boy a welcoming smile, even as inwardly she cringed. As he joined her side, the silt swirled around his feet, muddying the formerly clear water she’d waited so patiently in.
“But you don’t have a net or a spear…” Mud reasoned, looking up at her suspiciously. His eyes looked more amber than brown in the dappled light along the shaded riverbank.
“I can’t use them this time,” Trip said. She winked at her younger friend, knowing how to draw him in. **Let’s send so we’re quiet, like we’re hunting.** She stared at the knee-deep water, willing it to clear again. Mud shuffled closer, pressing into her side. He was warm like sunshine, and it was half welcome in the cold waters of the Holt’s river. **Keep really still; we’re sneaking up on fish today.**
Trip looked down. Mud still looked puzzled. Half of her wanted to draw out the explanation into something much longer, Trip loved a good secret. But this wasn’t really such a good one.
**One-Leg bet me a new pair of earrings that I couldn’t catch a big fish barehanded. I’m sure he’ll get Ice to make me something pretty — maybe something in jade or moonstone…** She slowly moved her arm up, trying to keep her legs perfectly still. She moved her hair away from her ear, showing Mud the small quill sections in her earlobe. **Doeskin pierced them for me yesterday.**
**Did it hurt?**
**Yeah, a bit. But when they heal I’d love to wear some of Ice’s pretty metalwork.** She paused. **I wish mother’d kept some of Tangle’s jewellery.** Trip had never met her grandmother. Tangle had died turns and turns before she was born. Still, the sending-images-thoughts of the wild beauty made her happy. They also made her regret Tallow’s practical tendency to give away what wasn’t currently used.
**You could ask Ice yourself and not have to catch a fish barehanded…** Mud pointed out.
Trip shivered. The eldest elder scared her. **I’d rather let One-Leg do that.** She scanned the water ahead of her, and slowly moved one leg forward, finding a solid foot placement in between the slimy rocks and reeds. The floating plants clung at her legs uncomfortably. But this would be where the panfish hid.
Mud copied her, moving forward but less delicately. He stirred up the silt again, and Trip held back her sigh. **Plus, this is a fun challenge. And there’s not really anything else to do today.**
Mud nodded in quiet agreement. His face seemed to brighten. **Did One-Leg use any new curses when he challenged you?** he asked excitedly. Currently, the little boy was collecting a list which he’d recite proudly, to mixed reactions.
Trip was surprised into a laugh. **Maybe. I forget, sorry, Mud.**
She caught his hand and pulled him forward slightly, catching his attention and pointing with the hand she held. **There!** she sent. Just upstream of them was a fat brown trout, moving just enough against the current to keep from being swept downstream. It seemed to hang there, gliding like Stormdancer and Kestrel.
**If our legs are as cold as the water it might not notice us. But we’ll need to sneak up on it really carefully,** cautioned Trip.
The fish looked as long as her arm, and she knew it would be heavy and strong. She continued sending her plans to Mud, who’d gone quiet beside her. **Our best bet will be to get as close as possible, try to scoop it up under the gills and throw it onto the bank before it can get away.**
Mud nodded, seemingly focused on the well-camouflaged fish.
Trip moved forward as slowly as she could, spreading her toes against each new foothold and slowly moving her weight forward, before repeating it. Mud shadowed her with exaggerated care. She stooped forward, letting her arms dangle close to the surface as she bent her knees slowly, ready to shoot forward….
… before she could strike the fish gave a flick of its tail and disappeared.
Trip was left posed half in the water, half in the air, with nothing it front of her but algae covered rocks.
“It got away!” Mud pointed out the obvious, disappointment in his eyes as he shook out his brown shag of hair.
Trip straightened up carefully, not wanting to end up on her rump in the cold water. She laughed and tucked her hair back behind her ears. “That one did,” she said philosophically, shrugging it off. She raised an eyebrow and grinned at the younger cub. **But do you have anything better to do than help me try for the next one?**
Mud’s echoing smile was brilliant. He shook his head and took her hand again, turning away to scan the rippling water for another target. Trip smiled fondly and took on the same task. She doubted that they’d catch anything, but there were worse ways to spend a warm summer day.