Lazarus sat in front of the nursery den. He had recently gotten in trouble, having been found by a Fellfang wolf trying to hunt. The stranger had brought him home after that. Lazarus has loved meeting the other wolf and found the experience nothing but a positive one. Alcatraz, on the other hand, was not so happy at his son’s meanderings. Lazarus had endured quite a bit of scolding, snarling, and eye rolls. Ultimate it had landed him here, grounded. And not the kind of grounded he could get out of. The kind of grounded that meant that his parents made sure that he was constantly being watched.
Today his babysitter would be Lawson. Alcatraz had to run out on patrol, but had warned the pup that staying here until Lawson arrived ’would be in your best interest’
whatever that meant… either way, he looked real mad! So for once Lazarus figured that maybe laying low and following the rules might be his best bet right now. Besides, he didn’t know Lawson well. Maybe he was cool! The black pup looked around at the adults in the main den site, looking for the dark fur that he knew belonged to his babysitter for the day.
The sound of little paws pounding on the ground seemed to be a constant noise around the Aryn dens. Not only did Athena and Alcatraz recently have a litter, but Charaka and Alexandro had some of their own too! It made him oddly sentimental and stirred up an unfamiliar longing for a family. Ah, maybe he was getting soft. The Blutwald war had been months ago, an era of peace and happiness in the domain. It helped heal the emotional and physical wounds from before and Lawson was grateful to his slow return to normal.
The day had taken an unexpected turn so far. He had just returned from a hunt with the other coursers when Alcatraz pulled him aside. He wracked his brain for something that would get him in trouble, but he was completely taken by surprise when it was to ask a favor. Apparently, little Lazarus had gotten himself into a tiny bit of trouble and, for whatever reason, the new Alpha trusted his son's life in Lawson's paws. No pressure or anything.
Once he strolled lazily into the main part of the den, it wasn't hard to spot the black and white pup with a scowl on his face. Lawson smirked. This was going to be a fun and interesting day. "Hey kid,"
he greeted, looking down at him. "I'm Lawson and I'm here to make sure you don't get in more trouble."
Lazarus looked up at Lawson, and his tail wagged. Already he liked this one. He wore a very similar smile as he did. Not anything like his father. ”Yeah?”
Lazarus asked playfully as Lawson said he would make sure he doesn’t get in any more trouble. He liked being called kid
for some reason. He liked the way that Lawson said it. Because Lawson was cool, it was sort of like a nickname. And if you got a nickname from someone who was cool that meant you were cool too. He grinned, ”You think you can do it?”
Already this pup was the complete opposite of his father. The tail wag was the first sign and so was that cocky grin on his face. For a moment, he wasn't sure if he should be excited or scared about watching the pup for the afternoon. Oh The One, he could hear Alcatraz's voice in his head already..."Yup, because if you do get in trouble and I let it happen, then we both get yelled at by your dad,"
he said, shuddering at the thought. But then he smiled and placed a black paw on top of Laz's head. "That doesn't mean we still can't have fun!"
There had to be something entertaining to do around the den...
Lazarus let out a laugh at Lawson’s answer and sank down to his haunches with a tired but amused shrug. Clearly he knew well what Lawson meant. ”Haha! That’s true alright.”
Lazarus said, accepting Lawson’s explanation. He looked up at Lawson hopefully, ”Fun doing what? I really like games!”
Lazarus explained, his tail wagging. One of the reasons that he wandered off was because he was so easily bored. And when he said he liked games, he really
meant that he liked games. He was not so great at entertaining himself on his own, not around camp anyway.
Lawson smiled, pleased that the pup wasn't going to argue with him. He had seen and experienced Alcatraz's wrath first hand and he could only imagine how much worse it would be if his son was involved. But, at the same time, he did feel a flush of pride that the Alpha chose him for this task. Then again, it could've been for convenience’s sake too... Hmm.
The brown wolf raised an eyebrow. "Games, huh? I'm up for that! Did you have any in mind?"
he asked as he stood, sliding out his front paws and stretching. Back in his day, Erin, their sibling and him would play and play until they couldn't see the noses on their faces. This pup reminded Lawson of himself at that age. ”Hmmmm…”
Lazarus glanced around mischievously, his pale silver eyes wandering around until they finally looked up to met Lawson’s gaze again. He gave a smile, ”How about hide and seek?”
he offered, perking his large tufted ears.
Was this pup up to something? Lawson looked at him with a raised eyebrow, trying to get a read on him. "That could be fun! But we can't go too far from the den... Your dad's orders."
Hopefully Laz wouldn't fight him too much on that. The kid seemed to know how his dad's wrath could be. "I'll hide first and you find me. Deal?"
Lazarus nodded, ”Sure thing!”
He said. He had hoped that he could hide first, but maybe he would get to next time. He settled down on his belly and covered his eyes with a white tipped paw. ”Alright! One…. two….. three…”
Lazarus had both his eyes closed and his ears flattened. He did not want any hints, he liked to win fair and square when it came to games. It was funnest that way! He planned on counting to twenty. He always hated when wolves counted to ten. That was not long enough. But after twenty you could usually get nestled into somewhere pretty good before the seeker began. ”...eight….nine….ten….eleven…..”
the pup continued.
The competitive spirit was strong with this one. Alright, two could play at that game. He had originally intended to hide in an obvious spot but the kid had a spark in his eyes. Oh no, Lawson was pumped now. This was going to be a show down.
After waiting until he got to five, the brown and black wolf spun and sprinted away from the young pup. He didn't want to go too far since the Alpha had made it quite clear Laz had to stay close to the den... That meant Aspendell and Wispwood were out of the question.
He could hear Laz getting closer to 20 and snorted in frustration. Ah! A few feet from the den was a small cavern within the limestone. It was low enough so Laz wouldn't have to do any dangerous climbing - it was better to play it safe, after all. With a few quiet grunts and swears, he managed to squeeze himself in, thankful for his dark fur to help camouflage. ”Eighteen….nineteen….. twenty! Ready or not, here I come!”
the black pup cried as he sprang to his paws. He looked around. Lawson was nowhere to be found. He took off in one direction, away from where Lawson was hiding. He used his nose to test for scents, but he could not sense Lawson at all. Well, not fresh anyway. It was hard to use your nose near the main den site because there were so many scents. He noticed he was alone… with no one watching him. But he did not want to leave now. He wanted to play the game and see the look on Lawson’s face when he was finally defeated!
So the black pup turned back around, his pale eyes looking around frequently as he tried to get a lead of any kind. Finally he caught a whiff and followed it uncertainly toward the forest. He looked around. The forest was silent here. Was Lawson nearby?
He scanned the area again, this time more slowly, thinking through his options. Finally he spotted it, the limestone cavern. If Lawson thought that Lazarus had not explored every inch of the land around the camp, the land where he was actually allowed, then he was certainly mistaken. Lazarus approached the cavern wearily. His scent was here, but was it old? Lazarus didn’t know. He peered into the darkness and saw nothing. And so he bounded inside. He was small so he easily fit into the cavern, and next thing he knew he was bumping into a thick wall of warm, dark fur. ”Lawson!”
Lazarus cried in delight, ”I found you!”
he felt the wolf with two white-tipped paws as he stood on his hind legs and then raced out of the cave and turned a circle in triumph as he waited for Lawson to make his way out.
Butterflies were fluttering as he waited on baited breath for the small pup. Huh, hopefully he didn’t pick too difficult of a hiding spot… Nah, Lazarus was a smart kid. He had to be with parents like Lady Athena and Alcatraz. For a moment, panic made his blood run cold. The kid was alone, by himself, unsupervised. Shit… No, no, he wouldn’t run off, would he? They bonded over their mutual fear of his dad… He wouldn’t betray Lawson like that.
He was so distracted by the thought of Lazarus running away, he didn’t even notice he had already been found. The sudden appearance made him jump and tumble out of the cavern with a thud. Groaning, he stayed there for a minute before scrambling to his paws, laughing cheerfully at Lazarus’s victory dance.“Alright, alright, you win this round. You want to hide this time?”
It couldn’t be that hard, right? Sure, Lazarus was small, but how well could he hide? Either way, Lawson was smiling as he watched the pup affectionately. The black and white pup was beginning to grow on him already; really, he was like when Lawson that age.
Lazarus looked even more pleased when it seemed that Lawson had been surprised. A wide smile spread across the dark pup’s muzzle as Lawson offered to let him hide. ’This will be fun.’
Lazarus thought. He knew a ton of places to hide! He did not think Lawson would trust him like this, but he was not going to object!”Alright! Close your eyes…. and no peeking!”
Lazarus played the game fairly, Lawson should too, babysitter or not!
For being panicked moments before about Lazarus disappearing, he didn’t hesitant in the slightest to let the young wolf hide. He seemed so into the game that maybe he wouldn’t even consider wandering away from the den site. Who would want to disobey Alcatraz, anyway? That thought was scary enough.
Lawson’s expression grew serious and he nodded. “Don’t you worry! I’m not a cheater.”
With a broad smile, he trotted over to where Lazarus had counted for his turn. Rather than flopping onto his stomach, he closed his eyes and pressed his head against a tree, resisting the urge to peek. Nope, he promised no cheater and he was going to stick with it. “One, two, three!...”
As soon as the dark wolf’s face was covered, Lazarus took off. He glanced behind him with a sly grin, and then took off even quicker to the north, heading toward the mountains. It was hide and seek, right? And they had not really set a limit to where
he could go. He was not doing anything wrong!
He paused in a small stream to roll in some mud and water. That would clean his scent off. He snickered to himself. He was the best at hide and seek. He left the water, shook off his fur, and then continued on at a run. He was panting by the time he stopped, seeing a bundle of gnarled roots at the bottom of a tree. He squeezed his way within, turning in his little hideout to peer outside. The shadows hid him and he snickered to himself. Lawson would be so stumped! "Ready or not, here I come!"
Laws blinked to adjust to the sunlight and glanced around, half hoping Laz would hide in plain sight. Huh, no such like. He grumbled then embarked on finding the small pup. He checked the den site, the surrounding trees, bushes, creek... And it didn't take long for his stomach to slam into the ground. He wouldn't... Would he?
Panic began to rise into his throat and he swallowed in a vain effort to provide some moisture. "Laz?"
he yelled uncertainly. Nose to the air, he inhaled deeply, catching a very faint scent. The wolf took off into a run, thankfully spotting some pawprints at the edge of the stream. What was he doing?! "Laz!"
he shouted, this time a hint of anger creeping into his tone.
Lazarus waited in his hiding spot, his pale eyes narrowed happily as the moments dragged by, each one proving Lawson unsuccessful. I’m just the best at this,
he thought to himself with a content sigh.
Suddenly a long, booming howl echoed through the forest. Lazarus perked up his large, tufted ears. Dad’s coming home!
He realized. His tail thumped the earth. Now this
was exciting! Lawson had better find him soon!
He heard an angry voice calling out to him, tinged with desperation as well. But Lazarus would not fall for that one! He took a moment to compliment himself. He really was doing a good job, wasn’t he? Lawson was a Courser and he could not even find him! Heh… he had expected that, though, a little pup like him, it was easy to disappear.
A few choice words kept repeating over and over in his head as his heart thumped wildly in his chest. This was not good. Laws kept trotting aimlessly along the riverbed. It didn’t help that Laz had such a dark pelt – the little bugger could be hiding anywhere! He called out his name again in vain.“Of course he won’t answer,”
he mumbled, his frustration rising with each second. Laz had made it very clear he took this game incredibly seriously. Still, couldn’t the pup hear the desperation in his voice? Maybe he didn’t get emotions like his dad…
That howl. There was no mistaking who that belonged to.The One,
please don’t tell me… “Laz!”
As if this situation couldn’t get any worse! If the Alpha came home and found out that Laws had lost his son… He felt close to passing out. Where the heck was that pup?! Wasn’t he afraid of what his dad would do?!
Lazarus heard Lawson calling out, and even caught the scent of his approaching father with his patrol on the incoming breeze. He suddenly felt a tinge of anxiety. If Alcatraz found out that Lawson had lost him, well, Lawson would be in deep trouble as much as Lazarus himself even if it only was a game to them. He squeezed his way out of his hideout, trotting urgently toward Lawson.
Alcatraz stalked through the undergrowth, following the scent of Lawson and Lazarus. He wasn’t surprised that Lawson had taken the pup out for a walk. But how very surprised he was to see Lawson on his own walking along the riverbed. ”Lawson! There you are. Where is Lazarus?”
the dark Warden’s pale yellow eyes were narrowed dangerously.”Dad, you’re home early!”
Lazarus cried at once as he burst from the bushes in front of Lawson, quickly catching his breath, ”I’m here, I was just in the bushes for a second, I had to pee,”
the pup explained, looking up at Lawson with a knowing smile.
Lawson had never been this scared in his whole life.
The Blutwald war seemed like pup’s play compared to this.
He picked up the pace, still searching desperately for the Alpha’s son. His voice was beginning to grow hoarse from all the screaming. Lazarus had seemed like such a cool pup! How could he betray their new friendship like this? If he could ever find him, oh, there were a few choice words the Courser had in mind –“Ah!”
Lawson had been lost in thought; he hadn’t heard the Warden approaching. His stomach dropped to the ground and his heart was pounding in his chest. Immediately, his ears went back, though he forced a nervous, small smile on his muzzle.“Al – Alcatraz! Why, hey! How are you?”
The One, his voice kept cracking. The weight of the Alpha’s narrowed gaze was suffocating. His gold eyes flickered to him, to the ground, then back to his friend nervously. “Laz – Lazarus? Oh, you mean your son! Uh, well, he’s…”
Not again. A black and white blob plopped out of nowhere and he yelled again, tripping over his paws, slamming onto the ground tail first with a loud thud. He cringed then his eyes widened in surprise. Lazarus!
Thank The One the pup decided to make an appearance.
His face contorted into an odd snarl, smile combination as he put his paw on Laz’s head, patting it with a bit too much force. “Yeah… the bathroom. Have to give a wolf their privacy, huh?”
he said through gritted teeth, somehow quelling the anger rising from his very core.
Alcatraz curled his lip back as Lawson cringed under his gaze, and he was about to snarl out another drilling question when he saw Lazarus come bounding out of the undergrowth. The father looked from Lazarus’ sly smiling face, up to Lawson who looked pretty much in pain, and he let out a sigh, rolling his eyes and frustration. ”Alright, well… good job. You managed to keep an eye on him. Not an easy task.”
Alcatraz gave the pair a suspicious look. He had a feeling that this was not the whole story, but his son was still here, and the dark wolf didn't have the energy to scare the truth from them, so he turned abruptly and left.
Lazarus winced at the rough pats and then turned to Lawson as his father left, blissfully unaware of the big wolf’s fury. ”You’d better be sure to find me quicker next time! We were almost in big trouble!”
He said with a playful shove.
Oh no, this was it. He was going to die by the Alpha’s paws. Lawson considered Alcatraz one of his closest friends but still, ever since he and Athena had their litter, he seemed to be even more intimidating and less patient. If he did anything to endanger one his pups, Laws couldn’t even blame the warden for a verbal or physical beat down.
Alcatraz totally knew what happened. Lawson knew
he knew. Still, he was grateful that the large wolf left the subject alone. With a quick glance, it appeared Laz was completely unharmed, so that probably satisfied him enough. Once he was out of earshot, the brown wolf released a long, loud pent up sigh and collapsed onto the ground, groaning loudly as he felt years taken off his life from the stress.
His eyelids flung open in shock. “We?”
he shouted incredulously. “Laz, your father was two seconds away from ringing my neck!”
He moaned again and brought a paw to his eyes. There was definitely a tiny vein throbbing. “I’ve had enough of hide and seek for one day. My poor heart can’t take much more of this babysitting business…”
Lazarus growled playfully as Lawson collapsed on the ground, taking the opportunity to leap on the dark Courser’s back and nip his ears. He tumbled off at Lawson’s explanation and sat up, shaking off. He looked up at Lawson, shrugging his shoulders. He really did feel a tinge of guilt as he saw how truly upset Lawson was. ”Well… sorry. At least I came just in time!”
Lazarus pointed out, trying to cheer up his new friend, who he hope he had not lost.
His anger calmed when Laz jumped up to munch on his ear. When did he start to sound like his father?! A few memories from back in the day sent a pang to his heart, suddenly feeling quite homesick. He watched the black and white pup slide off his back with a raised eyebrow as he crossed his front legs in front of him, remaining in a lying position.
Gosh, he really couldn’t stay mad. All of his features softened and he raised a paw, placing it on top of Laz’s head. “You’re right. Thanks for coming back to save me from your dad.”
Eventually he got back on all fours, stretching out his front limbs and flexing his toes before giving his body a good shake. “C’mon, we should be getting back. He’s already suspicious of us.”
Lazarus seemed to sense the sudden change in Lawson’s mood, his anger and frustration fading into a more somber and sober emotion. Of course he didn’t know why, but he assumed that it had something to do with what had just happened. ”Hey, we're fiiine! Don’t be sad!”
The black pup assured him. He smiled as Lawson put his paw on his head and growled playfully, shaking his head. ”Any time! We’re buds, we’ll survive him somehow!”
He laughed, thinking fondly of all his memories of Alcatraz’s scoldings. Well, not fondly at the time, but looking back it amused him.
He got to his paws as well, his tail high and waving. ”Yeah, we’d better! Hopefully there is food!”
He exclaimed excitedly.
Lawson laughed loudly and nodded. ”With our combined power, he’s no match for us.”
He winked playfully at the small pup. How was this mischievous pup the offspring of the rule loving Alcatraz? He must take after his mother. A warmth flooded his veins with affection for the Alpha’s son. ”We’ll be friends forever, right?”
All the commotion and excitement had enticed his appetite. ”Hopefully the other coursers brought something good home for dinner!”
He was filled with new found energy. ”Last one back to the den is a rotting deer carcass!”
With a wicked smirk, he quickly picked up the pace to get a cheap head start.
Lazarus laughed at the question, as if it was ridiculous, ”Of course we will!”
He cried, batting at him with white tipped paws. ”It’ll always be just like this!”
Lazarus assured the dark wolf, as if he was certain. In his mind he was. Everything was fine. There was no reason for there to be any change, so he was sure there would not be!
Lazarus blinked in shock at Lawson’s sudden departure, and then his pale silver eyes narrowed playfully, ”Hey that’s not fair!”
He raced after Lawson with a joyous growl, ”I’ll just have to beat you anyway!”
He called as the two friends ran back toward home.