Young Foxtail shivered a bit in her sleep and snuggled up closer to the warm fur. Her sleep had been fitful and she wasn't sure why. In fact, she realized with a start that she didn't recognize the smells of this place. She was even having trouble identifying the scent of the wolf that was cuddled up beside her. Her eyes opened and she sat up to take in her surroundings.
Wiping the sleep from her eyes with a chubby fist, the three-turn-old elf cub looked all about. It took a moment for her to understand where she was, only because she hadn't been there that often.... and certainly not without an adult around. She was in a den in one of the Craft trees where the adults went to make things.
She smiled then, an expression of mixed curiosity and joy. Her mother would never let her poke around in here alone. Now she could see what was in here without anyone telling her not to touch! Turning to the wolf, which she now recognized as her grandsire's Smoke, the young elf tried to take on a serious tone.
“Shhhh....you have to be quiet,” she said, holding a fingertip to her lips. Smoke, an ageing female, sat up from where she had been napping and gave a great yawn before coming over to lick the elf cub on the face.
“No.....silly wolf....be still...”
Smoke looked at the cub curiously and sat back down. Foxtail took this as permission to explore since the old wolf didn't object.
“What's in here?” the child mumbled to herself, tipping over a jar to see inside. It was just some dried roots though. Nothing interesting enough to keep her attention for long. Moving on, she decided to explore what was wrapped up in an old hide on a shelf low enough for her to reach. She was distracted for a moment by the sound of rocks chipping on one another. Foxtail recognized that as the sound her grandfather made when he made stone tools....though how he could bang rocks together and get tools was beyond her. Before she could get to the wrapped furs though, Smoke let out a little whine.
“No, don't do that,” Foxtail said, turning back towards Smoke. “Grandfather will hear you.”
She stomped her foot, trying to impress upon the old wolf the seriousness of the situation. It was all for naught though. Even as she lectured the wolf Bearheart's voice carried into the craft den.
“I hear you in there, sneaky cub,” he said, voice filled with amusement. “Come on out and keep me company.”
Foxtail frowned at Smoke and turned to walk outside. Her grandfather sat there, under a small hide shelter he had erected to keep the wind off as he worked. She shivered a bit and went to sit beside him. It was snowing again but at least here in their little sheltered spot it wasn’t too horribly cold. Not that she wouldn't still complain about it though.
“Wasn't sneaking,” she said defensively as he wrapped a warm hide around her tiny shoulders. “Just exploring.”
“Same difference, sneaky cub,” Bearheart said with a wink as he laid his tools aside. “Let's see now....what to do with a sneaky cub? Oh yes, I know!”
With that he reached over and began to tickle her till she squealed. Bearheart knew all the best tickle spots and and kept at it till she gasped for breath. Then he took her up in his arms and gave her a huge bear hug.
“Your mother and father needed some alone time. That means you get to spend some time with me.”
She pondered that for a moment, giving him a curious look. “Alone time? Why?”
Bearheart howled with laughter for a moment and gave her another squeeze before setting the she-cub and her fur wrap back on the ground at his side.
“You'll understand that in good time, Foxtail.”
She shook her head. Everyone told her that. She was three turns old, for goodness sake. Someone should tell her something every once in awhile!
“No fair. Everyone says later. I want later now.”
“Why?” Bearheart asked, turning her favorite word back on to her.
“What?” Foxtail replied, not quite understanding the question.
“Why isn't it fair? Or why do you want it to be later? If it was later then we would have to go back inside and you wouldn't get any of the treats I brought.”
Her expression brightened considerably at the mention of treats.
“You brought something good?” she asked hopefully.
“Of course I did. What sort of cubsitter would I be without treats? The very idea....it would be unheard of.”
With that he opened a little pouch he had nearby and selected a few morsels for his granddaughter.
“Let’s see here, I have berries and some sweet-cake. Or are you hungry enough for a bit of rabbit? Maybe we better start with that and save the sweets for last?”
When he said that her belly rumbled a bit and Foxtail smiled up at him.
“Rabbit now....then sweets?” she asked, accepting the offered meat. He nodded, a silent promise that there would indeed be sweets before they were done. As she ate he began to spin a tale for her.
“That rabbit was a big one, you know. Your grandmother and I caught it and several of his friends yesterday. So I said to myself as we cleaned it up for eating that I bet Foxtail would want some of this....since I was going to be keeping an eye on you today and all, I would just save some of the nicer bits for that sneaky little cub.”
He poked her on the nose with a big calloused finger as she ate and the cub giggled a bit. Smoke came out , studied the two of them for a moment and then cuddled up beside Foxtail again as if to keep the child warm.
“Why you call me sneaky cub?” she said, noisily chewing on a big bite of meat.
“Because all cubs are sneaky. You come by it honest, after all. Say, did I ever tell you about the time your mother tried to sneak off to hunt on her own? She was about your age and decided she was big enough to take down a big deer all on her own.”
Foxtail's eyes widened a bit.
“Mama was a cub?” she asked incredulously.
“Indeed she was, and quite the sneaky one in her own way. Here, settle in and have some of these berries. I'll tell you all about it.”
So she did and her grandfather began to spin an even longer tale. Foxtail couldn't keep track of all of it but she listened and ate and just enjoyed the sound of his voice. There was something soothing about the stories he told and time seemed to stretch on and on.
Eventually she felt herself tiring again since she had woken up so early. A little yawn escaped her and then another. Soon enough she felt herself drifting off to sleep again. A full belly and good company had soothed her almost all the way back to sleep.
The last thing she remembered was Bearheart wrapping another fur around her and picking her up ever so gently. For a moment she resisted, wanting to ask him to finish the story. She couldn't quite focus enough to do that though so instead settled for a contented sigh and letting sleep over take her. There would be plenty of time later to ask him she supposed. Fathers and grandfathers were always there to look after their sneaky cubs, after all.