Teva hadn't wanted to leave the safety and security of the healing den. It kept many of the prying eyes away but she could not avoid the world forever. She still needed to train more for her duties and as it was she could only bear to be around her immediate family - namely her siblings but they couldn't teach her to be a better warden like her father could.
Despite her plan to train a little today, the same thought continued to plague her mind. Leave.
The voice said over and over again but she didn't want
to leave, did she?
The young she wolf tried to shake it but was unable until she caught sight of Alcatraz. Sucking in a breath, Teva attempted to portray some of the confident composure she'd had before with her head and tail held high but as soon as his golden gaze bore into her it all fell apart.
Her tail swept the ground and her ears drooped as she averted her gaze suddenly unsure what to say. The she wolf shifted nervously on her paws. "I.."
Teva attempted to start but could not find the words to provide after. The tension growing worse, she tucked her tail beneath her body. This had been a mistake.
It hadn’t been easy for Alcatraz, in more ways than one. The tragic death of a packmate was always a mournful time. Near as painful was the nature of his demise, struck down while correcting a thoughtless mistake by his own oldest daughter, Teva. Teva had never been good at following directions, her pride larger than mosts’. He cursed himself now more than ever for enabling her in any way he could have. Her upbringing had lead to Vasilis’ death.
And then of course, there was the knowledge that he had nearly lost his firstborn. That was terrifying. He had spent much time talking to the Vicars and checking on her as she slept, thanking the One every day for her recovery. But that did not mean things would return to normal between them, not in any time soon anyway. Teva had a lesson to learn now that she was well.
But could Teva be blamed? No… not entirely. If every wolf must shoulder the consequences of murder just for a single foolish mistake. Well, he would have been put to death before his first year. It was just that Teva… had been unlucky. Her mistake had killed someone. His heart went out to her as great as his disappointment. Such guilt she must be suffering…
He could only hope that such a lesson would finally set her straight, once and for all. Hopefully some good could come from these very dark times.
He saw his daughter stalking out toward him, head and tail high, and his heart sank. She does not appear changed at all,
he noted to himself as his pale yellow eyes fixed on her in disapproval. Their eyes met, however, and that was when Alcatraz realized how flimsy her facade had been. That was a relief…
Teva approached him, her head low, unsure what to say. Alcatraz was silent as well, looking down at her solemnly, waiting for her to speak. She started, but her voice trailed off and she drew into herself as the silence grew between them. Alcatraz’s frown deepened as his daughter crumbled under the weight of his gaze. “Yes?”
he rumbled, his voice mild but hard. He would not help her from this. He wanted his daughter to recover, of course. But a hard lesson was necessary. And for all the love he had for her, he would not assist.
Teva swallowed hard when he spoke. Before, she would never have reacted such a way to her parents. She had been confident in their presence - never doubting her position in the pack. Now she doubted everything. The pack, her family, her parents - all of it. Teva felt like a stranger in her own home. How had it come to this?
The reality of it all hurt.
Wordlessly, the young she wolf approached her father and buried her face in his mane. "I love you, daddy."
Avoiding his gaze as tears began to fill her eyes, she squeezed her eyes shut, willing the world away."I'm sorry."
Teva mumbled, biting back a sob. If she left Aryn, would she ever see her parents again? If she stayed, would they and the pack forgive her?
Alcatraz was motionless as Teva moved forward, and in a display he had never experienced from his daughter, she buried her face in his fluffy mane, collapsing under her dismay, her voice barely audible through his thick fur as she cried.I love you, daddy. I’m sorry,
Alcatraz could imagine the guilt Teva must be feeling, but to see her this way broke his heart. No… he was wrong. He couldn’t push her away. He couldn’t shut her out. Not now… not when her mind was flooded with grief and her world was falling apart around her. This was his daughter, his baby daughter who he loved more than the sun and moon, more than life, more than his religion. His precious firstborn child who he would fight and kill and die for. And never had she needed him more than she needed him in this moment. Desperate for his forgiveness, for his assurance, that despite her mistakes and her flaws he still loved her. She still had a place here. “Teva…”
The father was lost for words. He hadn’t intended to talk about this. What did he say now? Well… he knew the first thing to do. He leaned forward and lowered his head, resting it on his beautiful daughter in a gentle embrace. Her jet black fur felt soft against him, long and silky, like her mother’s. He closed his eyes, feeling his own grief. He hadn’t held Teva in so long… what frightened the huge male most was knowing that if fate had worked out even a bit differently, he never would have held her again. He held her tighter.
There was anything he could have said next, reinforce the lesson, explain to her that mistakes were okay so long as you learn from them, tell her to be strong and focus on her work. But none of these ‘practical’ things came to his tongue. It was all insignificant in this moment, their importance paled by the only words that mattered right now. The only words she needed to hear. “I love you too.”
Teva pressed closer to her father as he embraced her. She'd spent so much of her time keeping up an image of independence and being strong that she'd pushed away her family. Sure, she may be a bit indifferent to a lot of Arynians but her parents and her siblings were her world. The black she wolf missed the time they'd all spent together when they were young pups. She had missed the warmth of her parents' bodies as she'd slept in the nursing den but she had been too proud to let her guard down enough for a simple hug from her parents until she was broken.
The tears flowed freely then. It had all been her fault and her parents were taking the brunt of her punishment by protecting her. Teva couldn't allow it. She loved her home and her family and she needed to protect them from herself. Anguish gripped her heart as she came to terms with what this would mean.
Teva relished in Alcatraz's embrace, forcing herself to memorize the feel of his fur and the warmth of his body because this may be the last time. Because this was goodbye.