Helen Magnus woke up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby. She sighed, sitting up in bed to reach into the bassinet beside her.
"Didn't I just feed you?" she asked her red-faced child tiredly.
Helen cuddled Ashley close, and the crying stopped. The baby whimpered and grew quiet.
"You just wanted to be held, did you?" Helen smiled, her brown hair sweeping to touch Ashley's bald head. It has surprised Helen that her daughter had very little hair. She, as her father put it, "Came out as hairy as an ape."
There was a timid knock on the door.
"Come in." Helen called softly. Ashley stirred and whimpered, but didn't cry again.
The door opened and the little wolf-boy, as the residents were calling him, came in. The changes to his physiology were slowly disappearing, although his nose was still black for most of the time. His kind was not communal, and it had taken Helen quite a while to get him to talk.
"I hear baby cry." He said roughly, swaying from side to side as he shifted weight from one foot to the other. He looked tensed, on the verge of running away.
"Yes, she was crying, but she's better now."
The boy craned his neck, trying to see Ashley better. "I not cry."
Helen smiled, but it was a sad smile. "I know."
"Cry is bad."
"No it's not. Sometimes when you're scared or sad, crying just happens. It's not bad, because everybody cries."
"I not cry."
Helen contemplated the boy for a while. Finally she patted the bed beside her. "Would you like to sit down?"
Cautiously, the boy wandered over and climbed onto the bed. He didn't sit; he crouched down on his toes, ready to run if the situation called for it.
"Baby no cry." He said to Ashley. "Cry and bad things happen."
"Would you like to hold her?"
The boy stiffened, and glared at Helen as if she had threatened him. "Baby cried. Bad things happen now."
"Nothing bad is going to happen." Helen held out Ashley.
The boy stared at her for a while, and then extended his arms, slowly and stiffly. He looked like a robot. He didn't relax as Helen put Ashley in his arms. He looked down at the baby incredulously, as if he was finding it hard to believe that such a creature actually existed.
"Baby has name?"
"Me wolf-boy. No name."
Helen was surprised at the boy's sad tone. He had not made any indication that he wanted a name; most of his kind grew furious if somebody tried to name them. "Do you want a name?"
The boy glared at her for a moment, and dropped his arms. The unexpectedness of it caused Helen to react too slowly. Ashley fell the few inches to the bed. Her eyes widened as she stared up at the boy for a moment, and then her face crumpled and she let out an ear-piercing wail.
"See? See?" the boy jumped to his feet and jumped off the bed, running to the nearest corner and standing with his back to the wall like a cornered animal. "Cry and bad things happen! She cry and I drop!"
Helen picked up Ashley and held her to her shoulder, patting her back and making shushing noises. She didn't speak to the boy; she was afraid that she'd yell and all the work she had done would be ruined.
"She cried because you dropped her." She explained after a moment.
The boy still stood in his corner, eyes wide and terrified. "I not cry."
Helen sighed. "It's okay. I'm not mad."
His bottom lip trembled. "I not cry."
Helen studied the little boy for a while longer, and tried to smile reassuringly. "Do you want a name?" she asked again.
The boy stared at her for a while, and then his gaze trailed to the baby. "Ashley."
"That's her name, yes. Do you want your own?"
A slow but deliberate nod was his reply. Helen smiled. Perhaps the little wolf-boy would be happy here after all.
"How about Henry?"
"Hen-rrr-e?" the boy repeated slowly. He looked uncertain.
The boy smiled briefly, happily, before the guarded tense look came back. "Hen-rrr-e." He looked at her for a moment longer, and then turned on his heel and raced out of the room.
Helen sighed again and looked down at little Ashley. "We're going to have our hands full with that one, aren't we?"