Disclaimer: I do not own ElfQuest...I just love it; if I did own it...let's say Skywise & Strongbow would be tied up in my room...

This was written as a Response to a "Grab Bag Challenge -April" where the story had to include: A Stick [of some description], A Healing [of any kind] and Someone Needing Help.


Whenever You Are Ready, Beloved...

Pain exploded in his cheek, radiating outwards in nauseating waves through his pale body, and he gasped in deep, gurgling breaths.

"H-H-Hel-Hel..." There was not enough breath left within his body for the necessary word, shudders wracked the youthful frame, blood flowed freely from so many injuries, seen and unseen...

Leering, obscenely pleased faces gazed down upon him with contempt, rough, coarse five-fingered hands grasped thick clubs and branches; they laughed in deep, near-growls of delight as he spasmed and feebly protested their ministrations...

~0~

Eyes gleamed in fury from the depths of the forest, hearts clenched painfully at old memories, born anew in fear and terror, flashing before their eyes...

Cutter had to restrain himself from leaping forth on ThornFang, in his heart he wanted nothing more than to tear the humans apart for daring to touch...nay, desecrate the tender flesh of one of his kinsfolk again...but there was more at stake...

Two elves were held hostage, one bore a cub, she was the highest priority in this, no matter how his heart cried out in fear and concern for them both...

~0~

For Treestump, he felt the terrible, nameless, quaking fear rise within himself and sensed it's prescence among the other Elders, this reminded them too much of Shale and Eyes-High...the poor Lifemates who never knew their cub through the human's treachery...

Strongbow actually began to growl deep in his throat, as did a softer voice...Moonshade!

Were this any other time, a less serious moment, Treestump would have laughed at such a display of raw, feral emotion from the stoic pair...but even now, he felt that same primal urge to protect, to save...it thrummed through his veins and he felt like howling this unbearable ache within to the stars...

But he remained silent.

They [i]all[/i] did.

~0~

There! His heart leapt within his chest, as his eyes espied the Healer, his beautiful Leetah, bound, bleeding and silent, to the pole at the center of this primative human encampment...

The gentle bulge of her normally lean stomach was untouched, but he knew from experience, this was only so the babe could be sacrificed along with its mother, to whatever strange figment of imagination these contemptuous creatures had dreamed up whilst half-blind on that swill they called, 'Ale' or some-such liquid...

Fingers grasped at NewMoon in reassurance, his deadly calm beginning to crack dangerously, Wolfriders and Sun-Villager Warriors to either side shifted nervously, sensing the pent-up skyfire within their Chieften...

Drawing himself up, a silent hand in the air, his clenched fist gripping the handle of the brightmetal blade convulsively, he threw his arm forwards and urged ThornFang forwards.

~0~

Hope flared in her tired heart, as she heard her lifemate call out with the pent-up fury and fear of a cornered Bear...green eyes fluttered open to watch the gleaming hide of ThornFang darting closer and closer...

Spears gleamed in the fire-light, five-fingers made obscene noises and ran for the 'demons' invading their camp...many fell before even reaching the Wolfriders, impaled on Strongbow's arrows.

Their pain was terrible to behold, but it held her gaze with a perverse satisfaction, after all they had done to her and...

She gasped, drawing back to the Now in a breath, Cutter stood before her, his back protected by Treestump, Clearbrook and a fierce-looking Dewshine. NewMoon hacked at her bonds, and Leetah felt her knees give way, falling into his waiting arms, Cutter turned from her and said, "She's weak, quickly, get her to the holt...we cannot afford to lose...both of them..."

The catch in his voice made her soul as one filled with ice, both of them... did that mean...?

Before coherency returned to her, the gentle desert healer was astride SkitterBreeze, held firmly in Dewshine's arms. Treestump and Clearbrook sending reassurances at her; they swiftly bore her to the Holt, as Cutter turned to rescue...

~0~

Had there ever been anything but pain, before?

He truly could not remember...the Now was fuzzy, as was the 'Before', and no thought was given to the 'Soon-to-Come'...the Now was too filled with agony to contemplate such things, even the vast skies filled with beacons of light could not dissuade his mind from fully inhabiting his bruised and battered body.

Self. It was the one thing that kept him here, self, the need to be himself and not give up, he knew they were out there, he knew...

A harsh blow forced a soft cry from his parched, cracked and bleeding lips, to the obvious joy of the Humans who cheered, praising their almighty sky-snake-tree-bear-whatever it was this time...Would they never learn?

If only he could remember anything other than this moment, who was he? What was he?

Realisation glimmered at the edge of recognition, as a ray of sunlight upon a dark, brooding horizon. his name, his name! He was...

~0~

"Skywise!" The cry tore from his throat as he felt his soul-brother's pain, single-handledly, he charged the humans who mercilessly beat his lifemate, his Fahr, and delighted in the grusome portrait their startlingly red blood painted, as NewMoon decorated the barren red dust of the earth with it's evil liquid...

Two more fell as their hearts -should they have any- were pierced by the keen-eyed arrows of Strongbow, close behind their Chieften; Moonshade gave a piercing cry and leapt from NightHeart, and upon a nearby Human, who flailed piteously as she drained his life with a dagger...

Savagery of this scale was no their usual way, it was not 'The Way' to be so violent...but the Hatred these humans inspired...it could scarcely be comprehended...

On the edge of his awareness, Cutter realised that even their mild-mannered cousins of the Sun Village had thrown themselves into the foray with great ferocity, lead by Dart.

He smiled grimly, the cub had come into his own...his attention was turned to the shaking body that trembled under each blow from the Human weapons, fists and feet.

Growling in warning, the Wolf-Chieften leapt from ThornFang, slamming his slight weight against the bulky five-finger, making short work of the creature before the others killed them.

~0~

A figure wreathed in starlight knelt by him, hauling his aching body into strong arms and holding him to the warm chest...

"Oh, Skywise, I am so sorry..."

~0~

Swinging upright onto ThornFang, Skywise cradled in his arms, Cutter sent to all within the Human encampment,

*To the Holt, I have him...*

And, with unspoken agreement, all turned and sprang for the forest, vanishing as if they had simply never been...leaving behind bloody corpses and screaming women-folk...

~0~

Anxiety, fear, horror...all three emotions all but visibly filled the Holt, flashing between the many gathered Elves, those of four tribes and none.

High above, Mender struggled valiantly against the tides of death, fighting to keep all three of his fellow tribe-mates, including the tribe-mate-to-be, in this realm.

Once a comfortable tree-home filled with soft-furs and quiet murmurings of a dawn, as the family spoke and fell to sleep; now seemed as if the air hung heavy with pensive, self-hatred and loathing as Cutter stalked from one end to the other.

Ember and Sunstream followed their father with their eyes, occasionally flickering to the tired-looking Healer who crouched between their unresponsive mother and the battered stargazer.

~0~

He sighed and rocked back on his heels, exhausted but triumphant, and smiled as he observed the soft breathing of the two before him; they had curled together the moment he released them.

"Mender...?" Ember moved forward, a gentle hand on his shoulder, the unasked question in her expression fell between them and he miled at her.

"They are fine, Beloved," he said quietly, wary of disturbing their much-needed rest; another prescence at his side hesitated before asking, "...And the Cub?"

Mender turned to his Chieften, "She is as strong as her sire, Cutter, they will live. But they must rest! Come, Sunstream, Ember, let us go to tell the others this news!"

Always the Healer, Mender proffered this excuse as a chance for the Chief to vent all the pent up fear and worry in private, the twins briefly touched the two sleeping faces, Sunstream's hand lingering over the bump of his sibling-to-be with an awed, wide-eyed look on his face before being dragged outside.

With a last look, Mender slipped from the Tree-Home and made his way to the waiting Elders...

~0~

Silent tears coarsed down his cheeks, all the tense emotions held captive inside over the last few, harrowing days, released themselves in a flood of water from tired eyes.

At his anguish, his two Lifemates began to stir softly and reached for him, instinctually, two mental voices hushing, soothing,

*Shhh, our Tam, be still, we live. Rejoice!*

Sky-blue and Forest-green eyes looked deep into his own, the tears stilled and he breathed deeply, a soft chuckle burbling up and ending in a sob.

"Never do that to me again, Beloveds, I couldn't bear it if...if..."

Leetah's soft lips parted slightly, a delicate hand moved up to cover them in surprise and sorrow; his soul was hurt and she would do anything to repair it. Skywise sat up too-swiftly and half-reached for, half-collapsed towards Cutter, trying to offer comfort in whatever way he could...

Catching his weak Lifemate, Cutter chuckled with more humour, "Fahr, you must be more careful!"

A weak smile appeared at the soft reprimand, the stargazer then froze momentarily as he realised Cutter had spoken aloud...

~0~

Leetah saw Cutter freeze also, and smiled, leaning forwards to them and holding out her arms for them both; they fell into them eagerly, accepting the tender healer's embrace as it soothed.

"Fear not, Tam, I know...I feel like I have always known..." she laughed a moment, "If I did not know of Skywise's soul name, would there truly be a daughter soon to be welcomed into the tribe?"

Two sets of broad shoulders visibly relaxed, Leetah drew them down onto the sumptuous furs -most the best from the other's tree-hollows, given in charity by worried friends and tribemates- and whispered to them as all three fell into healing sleep, "I am yours and you are mine, forever, my Fahr, my Tam..."

~0~

"They sleep, but they will live," reported the exhausted healer, trembling slightly, and deliberatley not voicing the fear he himself had felt upon first seeing them...

Strangely, it was Strongbow who came forth and pulled Mender to a nearby seat, covering the Desert-born wolfrider with his own deer-skin cloak.

A seldom-used voice rumbled up from places yet unknown, "Rest, you have earned it, young one. We are proud of you..." Then the archer turned and walked away, Moonshade trailing, leaving the rest of the Elders looking stunned.

High Praise, indeed... thought Mender as he fell back, into sleep's domain...

~0~

Moons had risen and fallen since that event, and yet, even The Way could ot fully erase the horror of that event from their collective minds...

Ember or Sunstream had taken to escorting their mother everywhere when Cutter or...well, whenever anyone else was unavaliable, for she was too nervous to be alone, but to proud to say so.

Gradually, the Healer found she could stand from the concealing shade and into the full daylight again, feeling her soul bloom as she basked in the radiant rays of the Daystar. Hope renewed by the daughter she would soon hold in her arms, every moon brought her closer and closer...

The Chieften worried after her, and yet, his concern was torn by another who needed his love and support more, a piece of his soul was slowly concealing itself, hiding away and shrinking from all touch. It burned at him to know his soul-brother, his lifemate was tearing himself apart, seeing nothing but torment in dreams and memory, upon waking...

Even Leetah could not soothe his dreams, anymore...

~0~

Heart pounding sickeningly, he approached his Fahr, feeling something that was not openly hostile, but neither was it inviting...

"S-skywise...?" he asked, tentatively, suddenly feeling the cub again, asking his beloved 'older brother' to accompany him on some strange imaginary adventure once again...

A generalised wave of a hand proclaimed the stargazer was listening, but the blue-eyed gaze never wavered from the stars for an instant, instead miming he should sit beside it's owner. Cutter did so, eyeing his soul-brother from the corner of his eye, wondering what thoughts were swirling in that star-maned head of his...

Were they of the stars? His future child? Was he reliving the shock and delight of his surprise Recognition to Leetah...that day in the fields...? Cutter smiled at that last one, it was near unheard of, but it had happened...he supposed, it was bound to happen. They both knew his soul name, they had but to figure out each other's...

Still, it had been amusing to see Strongbow's face, and find even Treestump unable to speak, merely gape like a fish in shock...

No...the troubled expression swirling about Skywise's face boded ill-thoughts, those of torture and nightmare...how Cutter wished he could help!

If only Skywise would open up to him!

His hand sought out the moon-pale shoulder, clasping it in affection and comfort, silent as the stars themselves...

~0~

"Maybe he just needs a bit of a push, some action!" cried Krim, and was seconded by Skot; even though Pike shushed the pair of Go-Back idiots, claiming they were merely snow-crazy and shouldn't be taken seriously...

Hiding a smile, Clearbrook argued that that may do more harm than good, and was backed by the voices [and, of course, the sending] of all the other Elders; Skywise needed time, to force anything else would be to do great harm and they could not risk anything happening to him.

He, Skywise, Child of the Tribe and Stargazer, whom all of the Wolfriders had raised from infant to adulthood...to harm him would be to tear out their own souls...

They dismissed all other notions in favour of time...too bad Go-Backs are, by nature, exceptionally impatient...

~0~

Wandering dazedly through the woods the next night, gaze fixed firmly upon the Moons and stars, Skywise felt the stirrings of peace within his soul; for the first time in a long time, he felt...almost safe...

Then everything changed...

~0~

Two shapes detatched from the darkness with fluid grace, shrieking like banshees and made for him. Skywise flinched back, instinctually, and grasped for his dagger...only to find air...and cursed as he realised Dart had his blade.

The young warrior had broken his own and Skywise had gifted him his own weapon, not forseeing any issues arising before Treestump had had a chance to forge new weapons...

Scents dulled by Leetah's hands, he could still tell that one was female, the other male, and both familiar...though in the moment and daze, his mind was too disoriented to distinguish exactly who was trying to kill him...not that it mattered, overmuch, he just sort of wanted to know...for posterity...

...So he would know who to curse later on...

His gaze narrowed as the female shape, still shrouded in the tree's darkeness, lashed out and a spear-tip flashed by his cheek, he could feel the warm trickle of blood as it wound it's way down from the shallow cut.

The other shape, the male, made the most unholy whoop of delight, low and gravelly, like...no! It couldn't be!

He began to back away, blood pounding furiously in his veins, the lingering trace of his wolfblood screaming for him to fight or flee...and his back bumped into a solid treetrunk. His escape was now cut off by the two figures approaching from either side, the stargazer broke off and tried to tear through the middle of the two...only to feel harsh wood slam across his face and fling him back into the broad trunk of the tree.

Pain. Fear. Laughter. Weapons. Fear. Blood. Help. Fear. Spears. Sharpened Sticks...Humans...NO!

Deep within his chest came the howl, filled with all the inner torment he felt, every bad dream, thought and memory clawed it's way out of his throat, as a mindless frenzy of pure survival instinct and anger descended.

Skywise lashed out, catching the female off-guard, flinging her into a tree to the right with a slid-sounding Thud, she slid down and struggled to rise. The male, the spear-wielder, pain-inflictor, tormentor...the full attention of a feral Wolfrider was upon him and suddenly, the male could do nothing...

Seizing the shaft of the weapon, Skywise yanked it from the other's grip and threw it away in two pieces, having broken the thick beam with a single hand...the other hand lashing out and grasping the attacker's upper arm in a painful grip.

He yanked harshly, feral senses gratified by the sharp snapping sound that echoed in the sudden stillness...

~0~

Skot yowled in surprise and fear, this was no the plan! The young Go-Back was cast aside by the terrified, though crazed, Wolfrider and sank gratefully to his knees. Clutching the broken appendage with ashen features, Krim screeched and threw herself from the shadows and onto the stargazer, clouting him about the head.

He reeled for a second, but regained his footing and threw her from him, then she made the ultimate mistake, she grabbed the spear-shaft nearest and slammed it into his side like a club, drew it back and brought it down on his back, legs, other side, the back of his neck, his arms...anywhere she could with bruising force!

Skywise fell to his knees with a sob, defeated for the moment, he made a half-hearted attempt to rise and leap for her, but she struck him across the jaw, sending him on all fours; face obscured by a veil of thick, white mane.

~0~

A piercing howl of pain, fear and terror slammed into the Wolfriders, collectively, they reeled, as the Sun Villagers watched in white-faced surprise, not fully comprehending the urgent nature of the call...

Cutter threw himself upon ThornFang, surrounded swiftly by Treestump, Pike, Moonshade, Clearbrook and Strongbow; they nodded, no words or sendings were needed, and the hunters took off into the gloom to save one who was both Lifemate and cub...

~0~

High-pitched was the cry that leapt from furious female throats as the hunters burst through the clearing to find Krim beating their child, Moonshade threw herself from her wolf-friend, Clearbrook air-bourne beside her. They crashed into the Go-Back and threw her to the ground, wrestling and growling like She-Wolves...and all Wolfriders know, never mess with a She-Wolf...or her cubs...

Strongbow grasped the immobile Go-Back by his obviously broken arm and drew him until they were face-to-face, ".You.Done.?"

The malice in every syllable of the low, gravelly tone had even even his companions taking a cautious step backwards, from past experience, they all knew Strongbow was not one to take threats towards his cubs lightly...

Skot gulped and threw his good arm up to shield his eyes from the terrible gaze boring into his own...

"He could give Ekuar a run for his furs with that gaze, if he were to turn it on stone..." chuckled a bemused, and momentarily distracted, Treestump to no one in particular...

Cutter threw himself from his Wolf-Friend and knelt beside the trembling stargazer; the air stilled, even though Strongbow continued to glare Skot into submission, and Clearbrook and Moonshade were pretty much attempting to force-feed Krim the earth her face was pressed into...

"Skywise...?" he ventured, fearful of the response, a shiver wracked the frame beneath his fingertips; the stargazer sucked in a deep breath and exhaled slowly, convulsively...

"C-Cutter? T-..." Cutter froze as Skywise stuttered, then breathed a sigh of relief as he heard a tentative sending, *Tam? Tam, please! I need you!*

A small, weak star appeared, he strengthened it with his own light, *Oh, Fahr...* He felt the Elf calm at the sound of his soul name, *Fahr, you are safe, I am here...we will go back to Leetah, stay calm...*

With Treestump's help, he lifted the near-limp body of his soul-brother before him on ThornFang, turning for a moment to enjoy the scene of Skot being slammed face-down before Strongbow, who bent the idiot's arm around behind his back. Whereas Clearbrook and Moonshade seemed to be intent on dragging the errant, thrashing form of Krim home between them, by her hair.

He raised an eyebrow at them; two cold, toothy smiles flashed sharp teeth at him, before Moonshade -with surprising strength- hefted the Go-Back before her and held onto the flailing youth by her pale hair...

~0~

Riding into the Holt, the dazed stargazer was quickly bundled into their family-hollow, followed by both Leetah and Mender, who swiftly set to work healing the broken bones, soothed bruises and stopped bleeding.

Skot and Krim, meanwhile, were dumped unceremonially on the ground in the center of all and surrounded, the inner ring of Elders, the outer of Wolfriders -and beyond lay confused, but furious Sun Villagers.

Strongbow stepped forth, "Explain."

~0~

He whimpered and thrashed until Cutter could take no more and buried his face in his soul-brother's chest, trying to drown out the sounds as Leetah and Mender worked to soothe Skywise.

A soft touch of minds, a gentle hand to his bruised cheek, and the youthful Wolfrider stilled, quietened for the moment; his hand was loosely gripping Cutter's...who was gaining more comfort from it of the two of them, neither could say...

"Beloved, open your eyes..." An impatient pause, a gentle, playful tug on his hair, "Both of you!" A tinkling of small bells, Leetah was laughing; as was Mender!

Cutter opened his eyes to see the soft sky-blue of Fahr's eyes gazing tiredly at his own, sweet pink lips parted as if to say something, but hey pursed close, face turning from him, tears spilling silently down his cheeks...

Leetah felt her own tears well, but as a Healer, she knew she had to help...calming herself, she called for Mender to join with her and they lock sent to both Cutter and Skywise...

~0~

Never so afraid for their own lives, the cocky Go-Back facade of arrogance fell from the pair, tears streaming as they babbled out their idea to help the Wolfrider, and how it had gone wrong...so horribly wrong...

Dart, on behalf of the parents he was currently restraining, said, "So to cure him...you attacked and beat someone who had been totured by humans in that exact same manner...?"

"Hunh! It's a wonder you haven't all died out by now, if all 'Go-Back Medicine' and it's like, involve fighting something...or beating someone..." sighed Treestump, covering his weary eyes with a large hand; he felt the burden if his earlier anger and grew tired.

A restraining arm coiled itself about the waist of Clearbrook, although, the arm's owner -Scouter- looked almost as afraid of his mother at the moment as Skot and Krim were, such was the dark look on her face...

Strongbow growled and Dart took a step back, fear on his face; Moonshade looked at the pair contemptuously, "You are fools, and you deserved what befell you! Any Wolfrider would have reacted the same way!

And yet you seem surprised? We are, none of us, as meek as you believe, just because we do not show our strength does not mean it is not there...and if you ever touch our cub again..."

The threat was implied...

But Krim was feeling rather suicidal at the moment and threw her head back, laughing insanely, "Your cub? Ha hah! Priceless, you Wolf-blooded idiots are all insane! If he was born into the Go-Backs, he would either have been drowned at birth or have a warrior's demeanor beaten into him...yet you coddle him? You do more harm like this, pah! You are all soft!"

At the mention of drowning, several of the Elders stiffened, and the other Wolfriders had the sense to take two, three, even ten hurried steps backwards...

Strongbow growled again, "Care to repeat that last bit...?"

Krim -completely crazed with fear replied [High Ones save her!], "Why, hard of hearing?"

They were so very, VERY dead...

~0~

Four stars of light danced about a world of hurt and pain...Skywise's mind...

A pink shape began to form, Leetah stepped forth, radient as ever; Mender formed as Golden light, Cutter of Green; and Skywise...his star remained a small twinkle of light in a rush of images...

*Skywise, Beloved, why do you not join us? You are safe, we are here!*

Leetah called into the expanse, the small star moved closer, pushing through scenes of horror and torment.

*I- I cannot! S-S-Something is...is wrong...I can't form!*

Came the miserable reply, the star halted, inches from them.

Cutter reached out a hand, as did Leetah; Mender touched both on the shoulders and channelled his healing powers into both, helping to strengthen the two.

Slowly, a form seemed to shift, form and take a well-known and loved shape...Skywise appeared, no -wait...not Skywise...!

~*FAHR?*~

Mender jerked back in surprise, eyes wide, Cutter and Leetah looked stunned as well, seeing Skywise's true form had not affected them so, as they knew him by this...but the pure manifestation of his shining spirit had created...

*VYSS?*

Skywise felt his soul-self being pulled towards the other, calm and joy invading every corner of this dark place, the radient light of his three -three!- lifemates combined seemed to be enough to flush out the memories and their lingering pain.

For now, all he could feel was contentment, and pure joy...spirit joy...

~0~

Coming back to their bodies was a surprise, all four looked at each other with new eyes, Leetah and Cutter had indeed heard -and felt- the Recognition beween the two, and subsequently knew Mender's soul name...

Mender looked shell-shocked, happy...but surprised, Skywise just laughed -the long-missed sound filling the room with light.

"Now you know how I felt when Cutter and I Recognised, of course we were much younger than you..."

He then took a mouthful of fur...as Cutter threw the Bear-skin at him...Leetah laughed; she looked at Mender...

*Vyss?* Mender flinched as she sent his soul name, more surprise than pain, *Vyss? We three are bound, and now, as you join us, you must know us as we are...*

She opened herself, mind and soul to him, in the way only a Sun Villager could, for they had no hidden names, they proudly bore their soulnames in life and death...

Cutter leaned forth, *`I, I am Tam.`*

Mender began to feel overwhelmed, he had never thought this...

Skywise leant forwards, "Vyss? Are you okay?" To which his now-lifemate nodded, "It is just so...new, I had never dreamt it felt like...this"

Skywise laughed, "Again, very much like when Cutter and I Recognised, actually, I believe what I said was, 'Oh, so now we both know what it feels like...' "

Revelling in the glory that was their new unity was not something they could afford, as the sounds of warfare reached their sensitive ears...

~0~

Being physically restrained from inflicting further damage to them, were the four Elders, and yet, Krim could not understand what it was she had said...

Maybe that was the concussion speaking...and the taste of earth in her mouth was not helping matters, nor was the black eye assisting her clarity of mind...

Skot seemed to have shrunk in on himself, cradling his arm and pinching his bleeding nose with his good hand, there were throttle-marks from when Dart, Dewshine, Pike AND Scouter hadn't been fast enough to drag Strongbow off the Go-Back...

Krim and Skot looked imploringly up at their mate, Pike, pleading with their eyes for help...or at the least, understanding...but he glared at them a moment, then turned his back on them.

They were alone...

~0~

"By the High Ones! What in Timmorn's Beard, has gone on here?" asked an incredulous Cutter, helping down, first Leetah, then the weak Skywise, and finally the shell-shocked, grinning-like-an-idiot, Mender who seemed slightly dazed...

Everyone paused, both parties taking stock of each other and their obviously absent faculties...

Treestump sized up Mender, "You Recognised, who...? No...please tell me you didn't..." Skywise beamed, from where he hung off of Cutter's shoulder, Clearbrook calmed for long enough to roll her eyes and sigh, muttering something along the lines of, "It would have to be you..."

~0~

There was a muted cheering in recognition, as the generalised crowd attempted to shuffle to a position where they completely obscured the Go-Back pair, lying in the dirt; Cutter frowned a little.

"Alright, everybody, Move! I can see them, you know!" he sighed, dramatically, and stalked over to the forms huddled in the dirt; he gasped slightly and Leetah inhaled softly in surprise, running up and reaching for them. Only to be held back by Cutter, "Wait..." he whispered to her.

"Skot, Krim, do you understand the seriousness of what you have done? You attacked another tribemate, and to be truthful, the worst one you could possibly have picked!" the humour in his voice made them look up through pale expressions...puzzled.

"Skywise was raised by the entire Tribe, as in, you touch him, every WolfRider will no doubt attempt to tear you limb from limb! High Ones, you two are lucky the Sun Villagers were here to save you!"

He smirked a little, seeing the Elders -so recently unhinged in fury- calm down, and return to normal; Skywise motioned for Cutter to release Leetah, the Healer immediately sprinding forth to heal.

Skywise locksent with all the Elves in the clearing, Wolrider, Sun Villager and Go-Back...

*I was raised by the entire tribe, my parents were Eyes-High and Shale, they were killed by Humans seeking glory for their 'demon-hunting prowess', I was yet unborn at the time, and my mother and I were to be a sacrifice to Go- ...Got- ...the weird Bear-God of the Five-fingers...

My life is safe only because those same humans were mere cubs who realised their mistake, tried to save my mother...My first memory...my only memory of her is this...*

An image stirred within their minds,

~~~Two beautiful aqua eyes gazed out from a face so like his own, her golden hair flowed about her face, she looked both sad and ecstatic and his heart ached. She placed him upon the water and sent her last words,

*The Stars are out Skywise, can you see them? Can you see the Stars? Look up! ...Skywise...*

And she was gone...~~~

There was silence, Cutter stood up and placed a comforting hand upon Skywise's shoulder, unable to speak; some wept openly, however five faces remained stoic, the Elders.

~0~

Clearbrook spoke first, "We saw this image within the infant's mind, Joyleaf was the first, then Bearclaw, until eventually he showed us all and we have kept it secret. It was a sad time, we had lost two close tribemates, but the cub was almost enough to help us heal..."

Skywise smiled, "And you were a wonderful mother, Clearbrook, never forget that! I was child of many parents, brother and son to all and none; Rain, Redmark, Pike, Joyleaf and Bearclaw, Treestump and Rillfisher, Strongbow and Moonshade, Longbranch and Brownberry, Clearbrook and One-Eye, even Rainsong and Woodlock!

My parents, each and every one and I love them as a son would.

My brothers and sisters, Dewshine, Foxfur, Scouter, Nightfall, Redlance -he was Redmark then-, eventually Cutter and..." he paused, eyes sliding to the silent archer and tanner, they nodded, expressionless, "...and Crescent, she was closest of all..."

"The Wolfriders are my family, and I would caution you against ever doing what you did again...I doubt they will be so lenient next time...considering that those you consider 'Elders' once tore down an encampment full of human warriors to save me -althought, I admit, I probably shouldn't have been taunting the Shaman...but, come on!

He looked like a giant tree-wee sitting on an ant's nest, how was I not to laugh?"

Strongbow cocked an eyebrow, something dangerously close to a smile gracing his lips, "Maybe you weren't actually supposed to be there, considering we expressly banned you from going near the Human Camp?"

For those who didn't know the archer [and for many who did] an actual sentence was quite a shock, let alone the fact their brains registered he was speaking with an air of humour...

A Sun Villager passed out in shock!

"Alright...I admit...I wasn't supposed to be there, but still, the point I was trying to make was, you killed probably an eight of eights worth of humans..." The stargazer smiled innocently, "Therefore, it would be a very bad idea for you to get on their bad side if you wish to live further than the exact moment the idea enters your head..."

Feeling very much light-hearted, the stargazer turned away from the gathering and walked back to the tree-hollow for an over-due wolf-nap.

Mender and Leetah right behind, Cutter paused, silent communication passing between him and the Eldars, before he nodded and followed his lifemates.

Feral grins appeared on the five faces...Krim and Skot -fully healed and terrified- went wide-eyed in fear...

Krim let out a groan, "Not the leak-water pits again! I hate tanning!"

Their smiles grew wider...

~0~

It was the moment all who Recognise wait for, the instant you know pure spirit-joy, the moment you hold your first child...

Leetah cradled the bundle, as a white Skywise was patted heartily on the back by Cutter, then more subtly by Mender -who added a small amount of 'healing-kick' to his congratulatory pat...- before he turned to attend Leetah, once again.

The desert Healer smiled with joy, a tiny hand reached out and curled around her finger, she cooed for a moment before looking up at Skywise...

"Would you like to hold her?" she asked, as he went very pale, very quickly...

"R-Really?" he stuttered, the moment was here, he would finally see her, tiny ~Tirah~ who he had sensed and sent to all these months...

Leetah handed over the tiny bundle of cub, and Skywise turned it to face him, gasping in surprise at her beauty...

Creamy-tan covered the child's body, soft to the touch, her eyes were a brilliant aqua, and her hair a distinctive shade of silver...The child pursed beautiful pink lips, cooing back at him and grasping for his finger, he traced her tiny pointed ears before she captured him...

He took a deep breath and felt the tears flow down his cheeks as her tiny mind, so familiar, brushed against his...

*Oh, Tirah, welcome to the world!*

He looked back at Leetah who nodded and tilted her head, grinning, "Show her the stars Beloved, she is of you..."

~0~

They watched him leave with their child and felt immense joy...she was a child of them all, their Tirah...and she had done what they could not...

He was finally healed, heart, body, mind and soul, all soothed in an instant by his child's gaze...Leetah began to cry in pure joy, Cutter comforted her, and Mender stood with his eyes closed, feeling every movement of his absent Lifemate and child...

~0~

Walking outside the Tree-Home Redlance had shaped for them in the tallest boughs of the tallest tree, he climbed the steps shaped for this purpose and stood high in the clear night sky, above stars twinkled in joy...

*Look up, Tirah, can you see the stars? They're shining for you...look up!*

~0~


Okay, I made MYSELF cry at the ending, long story short [hah hah bad pun] I actually wrote this randomly as I was going along, can you tell? XD

I enjoyed writing this, slightly AU...

Please let me know what you think, I thought of the ending about two minutes before I wrote and then sat there crying...Sad, huh? XD

It took four hours, but there you go!^^

Please Review, I would love to hear from you all!^^