Published: November 13, 2016
Mother barely let them leave the den.
That much, at least, Hawthorn knew. She often paced about the mouth of it and ushered the pups back inside and, if they were allowed out, she kept an eye on them like a small hawk- much to his dismay. Hawke (hah) liked sitting outside in the sun, the warmth a sensation that made up for the fact all noises seemed to mute themselves upon waking up. In his dreams they were faint little sparks of sound, most quiet and offering little in the ways of entertainment, but they were comfortable. Sometimes he would wake up to the sound of his siblings yawning in their sleep or whining, but it was their closeness that allowed him to hear for all but a moment before it vanished.
So when they were rough housing, as per usual, Hawthorn relished the feeling and vigor it brought into his little rounded body. His sense of smell seemed to be the strongest of them all with the lack of his ears, and he could pinpoint the moment one of his siblings jaws opened because of the warmth it set upon his nape. Only every now and then could he catch them offguard though because of their silence. It ended up with him below the others, their symphony of squeaks and hollars breaking the static in his brain before it ended with him yelping like a banshee and stumbling away. Then, the static returned and he stumbled away from the growing roudiness of his littermates.
He liked to play fight, he did, but he lacked their skill. And even though he was one of the biggest in the brood- that just meant he fell twice as hard, twice as often.
Hawthorn felt the air leave his lips in a sigh as his body shuddered, the cool air of impending fall hugging close to his face as he peered longingly towards the forest. The rumbling of the ground signalled that behind him his siblings still wrestled. Lousy, that's how it felt. He'd heard his mother use that word once. He liked that word.
Alcatraz was settled by the entrance to his family’s den, hidden within the shadows of the brush, keeping a watchful eye on the forest as he guarded his loved ones with vigilance. There was a large and precious brood within the den, and his mate was busy taking care of them all. It fell to the father to provide food and protection. He only left the den to hunt, or most preferable to snatch some food from a hunt made by the other Aryn wolves to save time.
He breathed in the fresh, crisp air. Alcatraz looked forward to the fall, and the relief from the heat it would bring. He only hoped that his children would grow strong before the cold wind blew. He feared greatly that sickness would grip them, as it had his son Raphael. Thank the One that Raphael had won that battle, and now he grew strong. But he was not sure he could handle it again. He prayed every night that the One could keep his cubs and mate strong.
A movement caught his eyes and he flicked his pale amber eyes to see little Hawthorn emerge from the den, looking forlorn as he stared into the forest. Alcatraz frowned. He should not be outside. He should be inside with his siblings where it was safe. Alcatraz rose to his paws and strode from the shadows and into the sunny clearing by the entrance to the den. He made sure to circle slightly so he approached Hawthorn from in front, for his family had noticed by now his lack of hearing. He was about to give his son a stern word, but the sadness that was clear in every inch of the big pup’s body made the father reconsider. Instead he dipped his head in greeting, “Hawthorn,” he greeted the pup gently, though the word was most likely lost on the pup. He could hear the scuffling and giggling of the other pups playing within the den. He sat down and lowered his head, so to be more at his son’s level, and so his muzzle was close enough to his ear for little Hawke to hear him. He spoke clearly as he said, “What’s wrong, Hawthorn? Why aren’t you playing with your siblings?”
Despite how warm the dirt felt between his toes, Hawthorn couldn't bring himself to do much more than wiggle them into the grass so that his small nails would scuff the dampness from below. It was frustrating, and he wanted to run. Explore maybe. But inside, his family was warm and welcoming and... he didn't want any part of it. His throat bobbed, rounded face dipping down to press chin to chest and allowing the layer of thick fuzz to tickle his nose. He didn't need to raise his head back up to see a new shadow looming over him, thick smells of the forest and father wafting up after it. For a moment he expected to be plucked up and put back in the den, but his father's face came close and it pried the small boy from his muted thoughts to look and meet the warm gaze before him.
Of course, Alcatraz was one of the first to figure out a way to speak to him. It earned him strange looks from his littermates, a mix of worry and begrudging amusement, and his father's breath made his face tickle but... Hawke's composure melted ever so slightly once he could hear the words, albiet still soft and almost dream-like. After a moment Hawke's face contorted into a mix of grumpy frowning and crestfallen sadness, but his voice sounded like it was forever sleep-ridden. Groggy, squeaky and childlike. "Too rough," he sounded out. "Not... fun."
Alcatraz was once hugely in favor of strict lessons, brutal lessons even, to force a wolf to grow to his potential. But on his children, Alcatraz was much more patient. Rarely could he look upon a discouraged son or daughter of his and bring himself to be so harsh. Or harsh at all, truly. Fatherhood had changed him in that way. For the better? He wasn’t sure yet… his soft spot for Teva still made him anxious.
’Too rough. Not… fun’ Alcatraz nodded to show his comprehension, his head still close to his son’s folded ear. Among Hawthorn’s siblings were three brothers. That was enough said to understand the problem. “No matter.” he said, “shall we play instead?” The big male backed up, crouching into a play bow with his bushy tail wagging behind him.
Hawthorn had almost enough nerve to slip between his father's paws and go off into the bushes to dig for bugs but opted not to as his father's shadow remained firm and warm over his coat. It would be autumn soon, from what he could understand and tell, and the slight chill below his fur made him sink back so his head bumped along the side of Alcatraz's jaw. At first it was out of the need to be closer, to feel wanted, but Hawke's mind reeled back to still himself so he could listen. He hated being still just to hear certain sounds or different words, so at the offer of play-
The young boy let a ghost of a smile whisk itself over his features before he did ultimately slip out from his father's reach, rounded body wriggling out into the dry grass and nose flaring as he spun back and copied the manorisms his father displayed. Rump in the air, stub of a tail wiggling. He knew he must have looked silly for his features remained sharp and relaxed, but it was obvious the need to burn off energy was lying there just below the surface. And as such, he sprang forward as hard as his little paws could afford in an effort to reach the gleaming nose before him before it disappeared from his line of sight.
Alcatraz was pleased to see the small smile on Hawthorn’s face and his little tail wagging as the pup moved away from him and resumed a playful position of his own. It was clear the pup was eager to move and play, yet was too discouraged to do so when his brothers would gang up on him. But here Alcatraz was his only opponent, and the father had no interest in winning this game, only in making his son smile.
Using the growing muscles beneath his puppy pudge, Hawthorn leaped for Alcatraz, aiming squarely for the Warden’s nose. Alcatraz ducked his head down so his nose was more in reach, but also scooted backward, so Hawthorn’s leap would fall just short. Alcatraz didn’t want to make it too easy for him, after all, no game was fun without a challenge!
When his paws hit the dirt in a small frenzy of fluff and dust, Hawthorn's immediate reaction was to sneeze--promptly sending a flurry of puppy-snot over Alcatraz' prim features and sending a fury of light wheezy giggles to slip out from the boy's jaws. He looked sheepish, halfway between apologizing and grinning, but the boy got back to his feet and leapt again, this time farther to ensure that he could snag at least a whisker from his father's broad muzzle.
Alcatraz blinked in shock as suddenly he was spattered with mucus, staring at Hawthorn as he broke into a fit of giggles, trying to apologize, but not trying that hard. A smile returned to the Alpha male’s face and he growled playfully, “An unconventional method, but clever,” he said, as if Hawthorn’s projectile attack was intentional. The big pup jumped again and Alcatraz tried to pull back but Hawthorn had already learned, putting more power into his lunge, and it landed him right on Alcatraz’s muzzle. Alcatraz pushed forward with his nose to nudge into Hawthorn’s belly as he attacked, “Oof! Not the ears!” he said in dramatic fear (or as dramatic as Alcatraz could be), as a hint. Ears were sensitive, and delicate, a good bite to the ear could easily send an enemy reeling.
Another series of boyish giggles rolled out from the round child's belly, thick paws splaying on either side of his father's muzzle as he clambered hapharzardly forward and let out little puffs of air as he tried to win back a stoic expression. It was rare that he laughed so much, mainly because he knew it must sound truly awful, but with his father none of that seemed to bother him nearly as much.
His croaking voice broke Hawke's neutral expression and he grinned again, lifting himself just enough to snap tiny teeth into the tuft of one of Alcatraz's thick ears before gravity won out and pulled the pup sideways off of his father's muzzle, though his grip on the ear tightened as though it might save him from meeting the grass below with his hindquarters.
Alcatraz tried to stifle a chuckle as the pup clambered up his muzzle, shaking his head gently enough so not to launch the pup off, but hard enough so it would give him a good challenge as he tried to reach his ears. It was not often he heard Hawthorn’s laugher, it was a sweet sound to him, it was the sound of his son’s happiness.
Soon Hawthorn succeeded and Alcatraz felt sharp puppy teeth snap his fur. He was about to speak, but he must have shifted too much and soon the pup was sliding off his head. He felt a sharp sting as Hawthorn hung onto his sensitive ear fur, gritting his teeth so he didn’t yelp outloud. He lowered his head instinctively with Hawthorn into the grass, in an attempt to keep the large pup from ripping his fur right out. From this awkward angle he gave Hawthorne an assuring grin, trying to hide the pain, one eyes twitching slightly from the effort, “Well done, Hawke,” he said, “Now you want to know a secret to getting the upper hand in a fight? Besides… going for painful places?” He hoped the allure of a new lesson would help him escape his son’s hold on his ear, without admitting to Hawke that the pup was doing a pretty good job making the Alpha wince. There were several reasons why Alcatraz didn’t want to do that, only one of those several being the potential for Hawthorn’s guilt.
When his paws hit the soft grass below his feet, Hawthorn's jaws released from his father's ear and he allowed himself to take a few puffy breaths to relax. Hawke's eyes fluttered briefly over the mottled complexion of Alcatraz's face before he split into a grin of his own, unaware of the slight pain he'd been causing the much older male. His tiny tail wiggled back and forth, eyes glimmering with a wild light very rarely present in his features. After a moment his brows rose and his head cocked to the side. "What?" Hawke mumbled, voice raw with a sort of squeaky edge.
Alcatraz straightened, regaining his composure and clearing his throat as he looked down at his son. “You have to do what they don’t expect,” he said, recalling his battle with a Blutwald wolf. He had known the method before, but that was one instance where it had saved his hind leg from a potentially very serious wound. “If a wolf has you in his jaws, half the damage can come from you tearing away, and that is what he expects,” he explained with a grin, “so next time your brother bites your paw, instead of pulling away, shove it right into his mouth.”
With his panting subsiding and the adrenaline of his first evenly matched fight tumbling away, Hawthorn weaseled close to his father for both comfort and to hear his loud words. His body slumped down a few inches below his father's own tall figure, the shadow of the earth toned wolf shrouding him. He listened, brows furrowing in an attempt to commit the lesson to memory. At the thought of his own fat toes somehow making their way into Killian's slim jaws, Hawthorn let out a hearty snort and grinned.
"Thas silly," the boy slurred, though his expression spoke of interest. A slow, tiny yawn followed his words however.
Alcatraz chuckled at his son’s reply, “Think what you’d like now, but don’t forget the lesson. You’re growing to be a big wolf. It’s an unconventional method, but if used correctly, it can serve you well. Never be afraid to use your size to your advantage,” he explained, “when a wolf bites he has to breathe through his nose. Push right into his face, smother him, and he has to let go, or else he can’t breathe.” Of course the method did require quite a bit of pain tolerance. It required moving toward the source of pain, instead of away from it. It wasn’t a method best used by smaller wolves, but large ones, heavy ones, like he was and like Hawthorn seemed to be growing into, could use it to turn the tides of a battle quickly.
There was a flash of silence as the boy listened to his father's words, the strength and adrenaline from their small sparring session leaving his body with nothing more than a few tired huffs and an attempt to weasel by his father's feet for both warmth and to prod the much larger wolf to carry him back to the den. "Wont forget," Hawke yawned again after a moment, eyes round and warm and wide as they peered back up towards the ticked male.
His brows furrowed before he pressed his cheek down to Alcatraz's front paw, stretching out just after a moment. "I wanna know more, too, but... wanna nap first." The boy admitted, a small snuffling sound trailing from his jaws.
The Alpha male glanced down at Hawthorn as he cuddled against him with a yawn. He couldn’t help but smile. Clearly the little guy was worn out! Alcatraz hoped that he could sleep easier now, that he had made his son’s day a bit better. It wasn’t easy for Hawthorn, with his hearing disability, and Alcatraz wanted nothing more than to see the young male thrive. Although a wolf’s success depends on themselves more than any other, a parent had a great deal of influence as well, especially in these young years. The father was determined to try his best.
“Yes, nap. There will be plenty of time to learn tomorrow.” Hawthorn was already stretched out on the ground, snuggling his cheek into Alcatraz’s paw. Alcatraz lowered his head, “A nest might make a more comfortable bed, wouldn’t you agree?” he said, extending his other forepaw to gesture at the den. He gave Hawthorn a small smile that suggested a challenge. Alcatraz knew that he was tired, and wanted to be carried, and until recently Alcatraz usually did so, but he liked his children to grow up quickly, as he had. Children who grew up quickly grew up strongest. Even if walking to the den as opposed to being carried was hardly a milestone in a pup’s life, it was good for Hawthorn to begin to learn that sometimes he would need to push himself that tiny bit further even though he was tired.
For a moment Hawthorn leaned the majority of his weight onto Alcatraz's paw, his body warm and light in comparison to the heavy muscle that he could feel below his thick fur. When the male shifted, the smaller boy's eyes flicked open towards the light that flooded over the pair and back towards the security of a cave that smelled strongly of them. Of family. Hawthorn frowned, body toddling as he rose to his feet and his chest heaved, a great huff rising out into the air followed by the sound of tiny, sluggish steps.
Of course there was a reason for his Father's proposal, but the tired boy frowned and let the lesson fly through his ears as he trotted lazily out from Alcatraz's grasp and towards bed. One day, perhaps, he would understand.
For now, Hawthorn's dismay was audible in the way he puffed with every few steps.
Alcatraz didn’t move as Hawthorn began to long journey to the den, watching the big pup as he huffed and puffed every step. He couldn’t help but be amused. He got to his paws, following a short distance behind his son. Soon they both entered the shadow of the nursery where all the pups seemed all played out. Alcatraz watched affectionately as Hawthorn curled up beside Athena, ready for a well deserved nap.