“Favver,” Snowflake said.
True Edge shook his head with a sigh and glanced back at his lifemate. “It’s no good, beloved,” he stressed. “The cub simply can’t speak properly. I did hope she was just pretending – “
“I’b not petendig!” Snowflake protested explosively, stomping her little foot on the den floor and balling her hands into fists. She stared at her father with all her three years old might. True Edge caught her eyes and grunted in unhappy dismissal, and Whitestag said “stop making faces, little-bit” and grabbed the cub around her shoulders to keep her in place.
Snowfall covered her smile with one hand.
**Are you sure we should push this, Zeik?**
**Yuki! Listen to her!** “Say ‘father’, Snowflake.”
“I dot wan to!”
“It’s a disaster,” True Edge said angrily. “Those fangs get in the way and – “
“Well, you can’t take out the fangs, Father…” Whitestag chimed in with a shrug.
“I like by vags.”
“What do you purpose we do, lifemate?” Snowfall gathered her daughter into her arms. Despite her fangs, Snowflake was a healthy and sunny child, the light of the tribe. Snowfall could not imagine changing a single hair of her snowy white head.
The wolf pack agreed, perhaps too well.
“They are just fangs,” Whitestag commented and reached over to ruffle his sister’s hair. She tried to dodge him, but he was fast and she was three. Lupine blue eyes nailed him squarely from under a shaggy lump, and he stuck out his tongue and half-grinned. “There’s no harm in them really. Wolves have fangs.”
“Does your sister look like a wolf to you?” True Edge demanded, furiously gesturing at his younger. Whitestag winced. Snowflake’s ears twitched.
“Movver faid fen I gow up…”
“She sounds choke full of dreamberries! Like Coyote on his worst day!”
“Lifemate,” Snowfall tried quietly, “she just sounds like she has fangs…”
“I do haf vags.” The cub squirmed in her mother’s lap. She raised her lips, showing two gleaming sabers amid her little milk teeth, and fingered them gently. The only problem she had with them was that they made sucking on her thumb hard. She grinned up at her father, but he was hardly looking. He was too busy waving his hands.
“What if she needs help? She’s no strong sender yet, we won’t understand what she wants. And if these fangs keep growing as she does…” Whitestag actually burst out laughing at that, but True Edge continued undaunted. “Who knows, beloved? We must teach her to… to…”
“Suck them in?” Whitestag hollered, tapping one flashing fang with a finger and making Snowflake reel.
“I cad fend,” she tried to protest. Her mother kept stroking her hair in long, even motions, one hand wrapped protectively around her belly.
“I’ll always know what she wants,” Snowfall said serenely.
Snowflake wanted to be let out. She wriggled furiously, showing those fangs to her father as he leaned over and they nearly touched noses.
“Say ‘father’, Snowflake,” True Edge insisted.
“Fa –a vh-er”
“Come on, little sister,” Whitestag encouraged, putting yet another hand on her head. “Just slip your tongue between them.”
**I know you can, little one,** her mother spoke full of good humor.
“Fa – v – ff – fve – “ face red with effort, Snowflake nicked her tongue on one fang.
She felt the thing grow in her before she realized what it was, unfolding deep inside her chest, rising up her throat like all those words that just didn’t come out right and playing across her vocal cords, pulling her eyebrows down, her lips back and back some more from long, white, sharp, protruding fangs, until it came out.
And it felt so good. It felt so much better than words. She growled, and her brother finally understood and took his hand away from her head. She growled some more, and her father finally noticed her, finally backed away. She growled and growled and growled until her mother’s arm finally slipped from around her midsection.
“Really, Snowflake –“ her mother started soothingly.
“Grr!” Snowflake said with feeling, resolute, expressive and free. “Grrrrrrr!”
And the fangs didn’t get in the way even once.