A little AU story with my favorite characters.
I own nothing. Nothing.
"What this?" No-name asked, holding to his father tight as he looked down at the snow two eight of days later, "White all over. Look, Chot."
"I see, Cub. This is snow," he answered, going to one knee to sit his bundled up son on his leg, "This is why I've not allowed you to explore outside of the palace yet since you are not used to weather like this. Want to feel? It's cold like the place I came from. Like the Frozen Mountains."
The cubling eagerly nodded and held his hands out to hold the bit of snow that was placed in his palms.
"Not too long or your fingers will freeze," he chortled as No-name felt and rolled the snow between his fingers, "What do you think?"
"Brr," the cub giggled, dropping the snow and fisting his hands in his father's coat to warm them, "Skywise says I can make things in snow. When?"
"After your boots and new coat are finished," he answered, lifting his child again as he stood, "Then you can play in the snow as long as there isn't a storm and you continue to eat for me at every meal. Back we go. Enough of the cold for today."
No-name beamed once they entered the palace and he was allowed back on his feet. The thin moccasins he wore were not enough to keep his feet warm outside, but good enough in the milder air of the High Ones' original home. His winter leathers weren't finished yet, but Moonshade had provided his son some more appropriate leathers for wearing in the palace. The cub eagerly held his hand and led them both over to his mother and sire, calling out greeting to any Sun Villager that he saw along the way. The cub was well liked among all the elves and surprisingly, so was his adoptive father now.
"Mama there is fluffy, white stuff on the ground and it is really cold," No-name squealed, still using the fur to keep warm, "It's wet too and I get to play in it when Moonshade is done making my boots and new coat. My Chot said so."
"That sounds like fun," Dodia replied as her son grinned, "It is time for your lessons with Door, Cub."
"Aw," No-name whined holding tighter to his hand, "Want to stay with my Chot."
"What did we discuss this morning, Cub?" he reminded as his son sighed.
"I big boy and need to act like it," No-name offered with trembling lips.
"That's right," he instructed, stooping to pull the cub close to reassure his son, "A big buck like you doesn't need to cling to his parents all the time. I'll wait right here for you and not leave, okay? I'm going to wait for my cub."
"Promise?" No-name sniffled.
"Absolutely," he agreed as his son brightened while handing him the fur to hold, "Off we go, Cub. Door, not as poking long as your last lesson. No-name still tires too easily and the cub was more than worn out last time. He ended up sleeping through dinner. I don't want that again."
"I agree," the Glider hummed with a nod, "Today we're going to do something special, Cub. Off we go like your Chot said."
He waved to his son as No-name followed Door even as the cub gazed back to make sure the promise was being kept. Dodia patted his back as she left to talk with some of her fellow villagers as he took a seat on a crystal bench.
"You look happier."
"I am, Cutter," he agreed turning to see the chief walking over, "My son is healing and will soon experience his first time with snow. That is a rite of passage with Go-Backs."
"I see," Cutter grinned out, "What now? Are you going to take the cub to the Frozen Mountains to raise him among the Go-Backs?"
"Pfaugh! Not at all," he denied quickly, "My boy does not have the fortitude to withstand that type of frost bitten weather. No-name is used to heat. Seasons of both warm and cold would be better to ease him into getting used to colder weather and I don't wish to see his exuberance stifled by my old tribe's brusque ways. You probably noticed that my son's speech and behavior is a bit delayed for his size and age. That is from being hidden away when he was tiny and not having proper interactions with Dodia from birth. He was doing much better when Jethel and I cared for him, but he's reverted back a bit due to how upset he was and the Go-Backs would see that as a weakness. I can just hear the nasty comments they'd make and hurt my child's feelings. No, Cutter. I don't want No-name to experience the harshness of the Go-Backs and Frozen Mountains. I won't have anyone hurting my son."
"Meaning?" Jethel questioned as he joined the conversation, "Do you know where you wish us to be finally?"
"I do," he agreed, turning to the Wolfrider, "May my family and I join your tribe, Chief Cutter? I'm ready to learn how to hunt in a group and want a safe place to raise my cub. No-name will catch up to his age quickly now that he has me again and the support of the rest of his family. My cub needs stability and so does my younger brother. It's time for us to have a real home again."
"Yes, please, Cutter?" Jethel begged, "May we join your tribe?"
"I'd be honored," Cutter agreed with a grin, "I can see a difference in the cub already now that he is healing and feels safe. Your son will be just fine, Chot."
"He will because I will make poking sure of it," he said with a firm nod, "Thank you, my chief."
"You are welcome," Cutter grinned out, "Chot, how do you feel? Anymore blanking out periods?"
"None," he admitted, "I'm back to normal and never want to wallow in that pit of despair again. This really was my fault. I should have poking stood up and put my foot down when Dodia came back for No-name. I should have realized that if I was attached to the cub, then No-name was certainly attached to me. I'll not allow my cub's suffering again."
"That's great to hear, but stop taking on so much fault. Things worked out the way they did for a reason," Cutter breathed with a nod, "Um…Chot, what is that ugly thing on your wrist?"
"This is not ugly," he snapped, showing off the rock bracelet, "My cub made this for me with his rock shaping skills at his last lesson. It's rough, but look at the details. This is a mountain. See? This is supposed to be me and this is my son. No-name was so proud to present this to me. Don't you poking hurt my cub's feelings by insulting his work. I'll gut you, chief or not, Cutter."
"I'll remember that," Cutter snorted leaning forward to look at the bracelet, "I can see some of what he was trying to do. He'll get better."
"I'll still treasure this," he pointed out, stroking the badly-shaped piece, "My son gave this to me because he loves me and wanted to show me his feelings. That was not really something that ever happened within my old tribe among parents and their young. Affection was doled out rarely, but No-name needs constant assurance that he is loved and wants to express his affections. That is why I asked to stay here. Your tribe has a natural way with cubs and make no judgments, Cutter. I have been especially appreciative of Redlance. He's been very kind to my son and his visits always make the cub glow. I'm happy to be here where my son will not be judged weak for being who he is."
"Me too," Jethel spoke up, smiling brightly.
The three talked for a little more before No-name burst from the room he trained in to run to straight to his adoptive father. Door leaned in the doorframe and smiled to see the cub's eagerness.
"Look it!" the cub chirped, showing him what he was holding, "I make for you. See?"
"A stag," he gasped seeing the form clearly despite the rough shaping as No-name proudly placed his shaped stone into his father's hands, "You are getting so good at this, Cub. Good boy."
No-name preened at the praise and then grumbled as his father wrapped him up in the fur again. This was good. The grumbling meant that his son was feeling more secure and healing both physically and mentally.
"The anters was hard to do," No-name admitted pointing to his work.
"Ah. 'Antlers,' Cub," he corrected as his son looked confused, "'Ant-lers.' Say it with me."
"Antlers," the cub echoed with him, "Antlers are horns?"
"That's right," he agreed, tenderly tucking his newest treasure from his son in a pocket of his coat, "The older a stag gets the bigger his antlers grow over the seasons. My tribe trained stags to ride upon like the Wolfriders ride their wolves."
"I have some antlers left from a younger stag our tribe just hunted for you to see, Cub," Cutter offered as No-name looked excited, "I'll bring them here for you to have later. I've got things to arrange with my son now. See you three later."
"Chot, am I a Wolfrider?" No-name asked while he startled at the question after Cutter had already left as Jethel shook his head, "Chief Cutter say 'our' tribe."
His brother and he exchanged a smile. Clever cub. Heard everything around him.
"You and your Chot and Mama and Jethel and Door are all joining Cutter's tribe here," he explained as his son blinked, "It is safer for you to get used to weathers that are different from the troll-mucking forevergreen in these lands. You can be whoever you want to be here. Maybe you will be a Wolfrider or a Go-Back like me. Maybe a Glider like Door or a Sun Villager like Jethel and Mama. You will one day find your own name and be exactly who you want to be and I'll gut anyone who says different."
"Want a new name now," the cub squealed, gazing up at his father with such excitement, "Want a Go-Back name, Chot. You give? Please! Don't want to be No-name. I want a real name from my Chot."
The request took him by surprise. A Go-Back name, hm? The right name came to him almost immediately.
"Neelo," he offered as his cub tilted his head in question, "Neelo is a good, Go-Back name for my strong cub. What do you think?"
"I like! I'm Neelo," the child chirped, "Jethel, my name is Neelo. I'm a strong Go-Back like my Chot. Mama! I have a new name!"
He snorted as his son scampered down from his lap to run and tell his mother his new name, trailing the fur behind him like a cape in his eagerness.
"What does your son's name mean?" Jethel asked as he gazed at his younger brother.
"Neelo means the melting of ice and snow among the Go-Backs," he admitted as Jethel blinked, "Neelo melted a lot of the ice and snow left in my soul and if you tell anyone that I'll poking gut you in your sleep. It is a good name for my cub."
"It is a great name and your secret is safe with me," Jethel agreed, watching as his elder stood to catch his son as the child flung himself at him with the babe's mother and sire following calmly, "What do you think of Neelo's new name, Dodia?"
"Neelo," Dodia said, trying out the name as her son grinned at her from his father's arms, "I like your new name, Neelo. I think it suits you well."
"I do too," Door added, "Neelo is a very nice name."
"My Chot gave me my name," Neelo bragged holding tight, "I like my name, Chot."
"Me too," he answered as his son beamed and began telling his mother all about his lesson with Door.
He smiled as he tucked the fur around his chirping son. Here he was among family. A dream of his that he had buried deep down long ago when his ego had shattered at the knowledge that he was not as great as he had thought when he was younger. He had dreamed of having heroic songs to sing to a family of his own, but now he had new songs and dances. Songs and dances telling of his pride in his brother and love for his son. He'd help his new chief in whatever he could, but most importantly, he'd keep Neelo safe.
"Tired, Chot," Neelo whined, turning to cuddle under his neck.
"Naptime then," he decided, nodding at Jethel, Dodia, and Door as he left.
Neelo sighed once tucked into bed and scooted to be pulled close as he crawled up beside the cub.
"Love you, Chot," Neelo whispered around the thumb in his mouth.
"Love you too, Cub," he answered pulling the thumb from Neelo's lips to gently squeeze the smaller fist within his grip, "Look at that. I found my big boy again."
The cub giggled and then hummed as he enjoyed the back rub his father gladly gave him while his eyes fluttered closed, using the Go-Back as his pillow. He looked around the room he had thought of as empty like a tomb just a short while ago. Now this room contained his son and the place felt welcoming. He smiled to himself as he pulled the little, shaped stag from his pocket to set on the table next to the bed. The stag was another gift to show how much his cub loved his father.
"My place is wherever you are, Neelo," he whispered to his sleeping son as he looked up to see Jethel smiling at him from the doorway, "You too, Jethel."
"Then I am happy, Brother, to be where Neelo is too as long as you are there," Jethel whispered back with a cheeky wink.
He snorted softly and nodded at his brother. He was a warrior with a family to shield. A caregiver with a son and younger brother to care for. An adviser with advice to share with any who needed him. An elf with a new tribe to belong to. This was his place. This was home.