[P] Talking Through Glass
#1
WC: 476

With a frown, Notch stared at the handle of one of Auger's knives. It was made of bone, and now it had a whole bunch of marks on it that definitely were not there a few days ago. It took him a few minutes to figure out exactly what the marks were because he was not expecting it. They were teeth marks as though it had been chewed on like a toy. His eyes scanned the blade, which was dull near the handle and showed no signs of having cut whoever chewed on it. Definitely not him, not Asel, and surely it was not Auger. That only left Dynia. When she was very young, she used to chew on anything she could get her mouth on, which Notch knew was normal. They had made sure to keep everything dangerous out of her reach and instead offered her other things to chew on: furs while she still had puppy teeth and puppy jaw strength. Then came sticks when she was old enough not to swallow the bark, and bones when they were able to break them so she could get to the marrow easily.

Dynia had never done something like this and Notch was concerned, especially when combined with the slowly growing patch of missing fur on one of her back legs. At first, Notch thought that maybe she had gotten scratched by something when she was out avoiding Charmingtown because it seemed to have appeared rather suddenly. But then it did not go away. Rather, it spread. He had not gotten a very good look at it, though, to see if her skin in that spot looked okay. It had to be cold, though.

With a sigh, Notch set the knife down on the table and ran a hand through his hair. These were signs of anxiety, but Dynia was not saying anything to them about how she was feeling. If they asked, she claimed that she was fine, and sometimes she really did seem fine. And other times... Notch was not so sure. He still felt helpless about the whole situation and he wished he just knew what to do about it to make it better. He moved to the window and pulled aside the blanket that covered the empty pane to look outside. Auger was supposed to be back soon and Notch knew they had to talk about this and really decide what to do about it. Sure enough, he saw Auger walking towards their house and he dropped the blanket curtain.

"Hey," Notch said as his mate walked inside. He had his arms crossed, and gestured to the knife with a nod. "Found this under a pile of Dynia's sewing stuff earlier." She had been slowly accumulating her own things, some from him and some traded for from loners passing through.
N O T C H
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#2
WC: 461

Auger walked in the door, coming from the stable. He had been doing some of his morning tasks with the horses and checking on the goats. They were healthy now, a far cry from when he and Notch originally found them being hauled along by some loner who was not caring for them. Notch had taken a long time to stop being angry about it, and watching the goats heal and seeing their personalities bloom had helped quite a lot. Hanging onto the anger was not going to help them or do Notch any good and eventually he let it go, though Auger doubted that the loner would ever be forgiven.

"Hm?" He said with a slight frown, walking across the room so he could get a look at his knife. What had it been doing under Dynia's sewing things? He had loaned it to her on occasion so that she could cut thread if she needed to, but being under the pile made it seem like she had been hiding it. It was something she had never done before. When he got to the table, he picked it up and the reason was immediately obvious. It had clearly been chewed on.

Why would she be chewing on it? Auger understood liking to chew on things, but there was an endless amount of sticks that could be found for that purpose. Heck, the knife could have been used to strip the bark off of a larger stick first so it did not pose a risk of cutting her mouth.

"Why would she do this?" Auger wondered out loud and watched Notch shrug. It was more of a rhetorical question than anything since Notch would have, of course, told him a reason if he knew it for sure. "She has been acting a little..." Auger struggled for a good word. "Odd? Lately?" It felt like she was hiding more things from them than just the knife. Conversations with her had gotten shorter, and she was getting a bit more snappish. He knew that adolescents sometimes went through phases like that, but he would have expected it to happen sooner. Then again, her life had not been like a typical puppy's, having lost her mother so young and then being taken in by canines who were complete strangers at the time.

"She's been gone more than usual lately, too," Auger added. He was used to her spending time outside of Charmingtown most days. She had taken off right after eating earlier in the morning like usual. But lately, it seemed like it was even worse than usual. It had to be connected. With a sigh, he set the knife back down and looked at Notch again, feeling a bit helpless.
#3
WC: 453

"Mhm," Notch hummed his agreement, moving to Auger's side. He leaned against his mate, who wrapped his arm around Notch's back and pulled him in. He wished they knew what to do, but there was also a comfort of sorts in the fact that they were equally clueless. Notch was not the only one without any ideas on how to handle this better. It was just clear that they were not handling it well. If they were, surely Dynia would be recovering better than she was. Notch did not like feeling like they were failing her.

"There's also... well, I'm sure you've noticed it, too," Notch said with a sigh. "That patch of missing fur on her back leg." Auger nodded. "Her paw pads have looked a little raw, too." At first he thought that was maybe because of how much time she was spending running around in the snow now, but combined with the missing fur... they were probably connected. Notch knew that those were signs of anxiety, and it worried him that her anxiety had spiraled to that point without them realizing that it was getting that bad.

Notch sighed and turned towards Auger, wrapping his arms around his mate's waist. They really needed to just start a conversation about it with her, but Notch was worried that it might just make things even worse. Would she think she was being criticized or something? Maybe they should be spending more time with her. Notch had not actually seen her doing the overgrooming and probably chewing on her paw pads, so she was doing that when she was not around them. Being with them would give her less opportunity, right? But would that really be the right thing to do?

"We really need to talk to her," Notch added, looking up at Auger. "We'll have to be careful. Do you think we should ask her about moving, or just start with the fur?" The fur was obvious at this point. She had been able to hide it for a while, but not anymore. Notch thought that Ponti might notice it soon, and anyone else Dynia spent time with. He was a bit surprised that she had not taken to wearing clothes that covered it, although she had mentioned learning how to make a skirt recently. She had been trying to act casually about it, but it was before Notch had first spotted the bare spot, so he had registered her behavior as odd, but had not connected it to anything specific. Instead he had agreed to teach her and they talked about colors for it. He had been excited that she was taking some initiative.
N O T C H
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#4
WC: 458

Absently, Auger ran his hand up and down Notch's back. He wished none of this had happened, and that Dynia could have simply continued living the best childhood that they could give her. No one should have to go through what she has. First losing her mother so young, and then being kidnapped by her father. Auger loved her and was glad to have her with them, but he wished that it had not been at the cost of her mother's life.

"Let's start with the fur," Auger decided and as soon as he said the words, he felt some relief. A good portion of why this was so difficult was the lack of a plan. He did not like the out of control feeling that came without knowing what to do next. Being in control was probably an illusion at best in this kind of situation, but at least it was something, and that was better than the nothing they had a few seconds before.

"I'm betting she won't want to talk to us, though," Auger said. They both needed to be prepared for that and not see it as rejection. It was a defense mechanism, and since he felt like they had failed her in quite a lot over the past few months, he could not blame her if she did not want to confide in them how she was still feeling. Even if some of it was now more obvious with the physical signs that none of them could really deny. It should never have gotten that far, though. He could see now that they should not have just let her go on as if she was fine. She was not fine. He just had not realized how not fine she was until now. And he had a feeling it was even worse still than he thought, and that they could see.

Auger released Notch gently and pulled him to sit down. Their table was low and they sat on the floor at it. Auger kind of wanted a drink to ease his nerves on this, but that was not really a solution. Feeling this way was a direct result of how he had let the situation get to this point, so he deserved the guilt. Her actual kidnapping? The only way to prevent that would have been to give her no freedom, which was the opposite of what they wanted at the time. It still was. But this? Chewing his knife handle and losing fur? Whatever was going on, exactly, they should have noticed it much sooner and done something about it. They had stewed in indecision for far too long and Dynia was the one suffering for it.
#5
WC: 460

"You're probably right," Notch sighed as he sat with Auger and leaned against him. If Dynia wanted to talk to them, she already would have, right? They were usually pretty open with her about things, and in the days and weeks after they got her back, they had talked about what happened some. Should they have talked about it more? Did they let her lead too much and she thought they did not want to hear about it? Was this one of those times where they just needed to push because they knew best? Except he did not feel like they knew best. He felt like they were adrift and no one knew where they were going.

Dynia probably felt like that, too, and she was supposed to be able to look to them for direction. They really were not great at this were they? Notch ran a hand through his hair, glad that he did not do anything to style it today; it would have been completely undone after the morning he had so far, and it was only going to get worse from here on. Maybe they should get a drink at the Ugly Coyote when the conversation was over. Notch had a feeling they were going to need something to help calm their frazzled nerves.

"It's not really optional for her at this point, at least the fur part. And her paws." It was never fun to be stern or push her to do something she did not want to do. Of course, that was part of being a parent. Sometimes Notch wondered if it was different for canines who were the biological parents of their kids rather than adopted. Generally Dynia was well-behaved, if a bit shy, but every now and then she would have typical youngster tantrums, and once she had shouted that they were not her real Dads. Notch doubted they would be hearing that again, given who her biological father really was. Notch could not imagine that she would want to claim Pirate was her "real" dad at all. Still, it was not going to be a fun conversation for anyone involved.

"We can start with the fur and see how it goes from there," Notch said and he felt Auger nod in agreement. "I suppose it'll have to happen as soon as possible, too. Better to just get it over with, especially since she'll probably be feeling guilty about the knife handle." If she did not feel guilty, she would not have hidden it and acted oddly before leaving. And besides, damaging something that someone else owned was not normal behavior for her now. As a puppy, sure, but that was all pups. Now she knew better.
N O T C H
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#6
WC: 492

"Alright, that sounds like a good plan," Auger said. In other circumstances, he would have been angry about the damage to his knife and there would have been consequences, such as having her help him trade for a new one with some of the things she made. He probably would not have had the heart to make her cover the entire trade, though. Given everything that had happened and was still happening, though? He was far more worried about her than the knife. It seemed like it would still function fine, so it was not a big deal.

He wrapped his arms loosely around Notch, for a moment allowing himself to just enjoy having his mate close to him. They were very busy and did not get as much time together as Auger would have liked. They were supposed to take another trip together during the summer because the one they took the previous winter ended up being a bit of a disaster with Notch being injured. Most of it was spent traveling home while trying to keep him blindfolded because bright light was excruciating. And of course, the white snow made everything even brighter than it would have been when everything was green.

"I suppose she is probably going to be gone for most of the day like usual," Auger sighed. Who knew when she would be back. He wanted to be a united front with Notch when she arrived otherwise they might not be able to start the conversation that was definitely going to happen. He had things he still needed to do, but they were not pressing. A couple horses could use a brush down and he wanted to check some of the walls in the stable. A few areas seemed like they could use a little repair work, so he would have to find someone more capable than him to do that work.

"Maybe I have some time to get a few things done. Were you going to stick around here?" Before they both left for their chores earlier in the morning, Notch had mentioned wanting to spend some time sewing during the afternoon when it was still bright. Sewing by candle light was not great, especially with Dynia being a beginner. Notch just generally did not like doing it and Auger knew he got frustrated much more quickly when he could not see what he was doing.

Even after mentioning the chores, Auger did not move. He honestly did not want to, and Notch had not made any move to stop leaning on him and let him stand up. Well, the work could wait a little while so he could spend time with Notch instead. They needed more time together. He missed Notch a lot during the day, which was a clear sign that they should do more of their work together instead of splitting up like they had been doing for the past week or so.
#7
WC: 466

"Yeah, I think I'll do the sewing I was talking about earlier," Notch said, although he did not move away from Auger right away. He would always choose cuddling with his mate over sewing or doing anything else, really. Eventually, though, Auger started moving a little and Notch stood up with him. "You're going to stay close?" He asked. That way they could talk as soon as Dynia got back. He did not want to prolong the wait anymore, especially now that they had the beginning of a plan. He just wanted the conversation to be done.

Auger nodded and after a few minutes, he headed out the door and Notch was alone in the house. He got out his sewing things and spread the fabric he was working with out on the table. He was making a shirt for Dynia, although it was meant to be a surprise. He had just told her it was a shirt, but not that it was for her. He hoped she liked it. She had mentioned several times that she liked the fabric when he traded for it, which was why he decided to use it to make something for her.

He had been practicing his sewing enough now that it was almost a meditative thing for him. It required concentration and that meant that his mind could not wander at all or he was likely to stick himself with the needle, and he hated when he did that. Notch still had to consciously make his stitches the same length, although that was getting a bit easier. He thought that eventually he would be able to do that without thinking, the way he had seen some Luperci knitting where it seemed like they were doing it automatically although they were probably counting stitches or whatever in their head the whole time.

Time passed quickly when he was sewing, but he made good progress on the shirt. He thought that it would be done within the next couple of days, and he was able to put most of the scrap fabric aside to make into a blanket at some point. The scraps that were too small or oddly shaped went onto Dynia's pile so she could use them to practice stitching in a straight line or around curves.

He blinked when Auger came back in and looked over to see that the sun was coming in at a different angle now. How much time had passed? He looked down at the fabric and then up at Auger, who had an amused expression on his face. Notch narrowed his eyes at his mate and then stuck his nose in the air, pretending to be offended.

"Shh," Notch pointed at him and then he started putting his supplies away.
N O T C H
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#8
WC: 554

"I didn't say anything," Auger said with a chuckle as he walked further into the house. He carried a bucket of water to refresh the one that they usually kept in the house each day, which he set down next to the doorway. He figured they could start some sort of stew for dinner with some of the meat they kept frozen, buried under the stove. First, though, they would have to have the conversation with Dynia.

Notch seemed playful right now, though, so Auger went with that mood. It was better than worrying or nervousness. He was sure that Notch was feeling that as well, but for now, they could have a little fun. He could see Notch still giving him a joking side-eye so he held his hands up in innocence.

"I didn't!" He insisted.

"It's what you were thinking," Notch said as he finished packing his things away into his sewing bag. Maybe he could find someone to build Notch a box for his supplies instead with little boxes inside to separate the different things. Needles in one spot, spools of thread in another, organized by color. Or something. However Notch wanted to organize his things. It seemed to make sense to keep the fabric in bags, although... Auger looked at an empty space along one of the walls. Shelving might be better. Something to think about once they decided whether they were going to keep living here or outside of Charmingtown.

"And what was I thinking?" Auger asked.

"Something mean," Notch replied, one hip popped out with his hand on it. Auger snorted.

"Yep, that's me," He said and then sat at the table now that it was empty. "Alright, I'm guessing she'll be back soon." He knew that the playful mood could not last forever, and it was probably time to get into the mindset needed to have a difficult conversation. Notch's face sobered as he sat down as well with a nod. "We won't hint at the fur or something; just acknowledge it. No reason to not be straightforward about it."

Dread started to settle in his stomach, making a know of anxiety form. He knew this was going to upset Dynia, which was the last thing he wanted to do, but he did not see a way around it at this point. Maybe if they had done something different sooner. Or maybe not. There was no way for him to know that, so he tried not to worry about it.

He folded his hands on the table and looked up when he heard someone approaching the house. Auger glanced at Notch, who nodded. Asel came into the house first, looked at both of them, and went over to the pile of furs and blankets they slept on and laid down. Dynia stopped in the doorway, looking like she was going to flee.

"Uh," she said, glancing over her shoulder. "Hey." She stepped into the room, apparently deciding that she was not going to bolt. A good decision, and Auger was not surprised. Despite the amount of fear she was feeling lately, Auger knew that she was strong and in the end, she would be able to handle this conversation. Getting through it was going to be the issue.
#9
WC: 556

Notch was not ready for this. He was so not ready. Why did he ever think that this was a conversation he was ready for just because they had a little bit of a plan? Now that Dynia was standing there staring at them as they stared silently back at her, for once, all words escaped Notch's thoughts and even though he opened his mouth to say... who knew what, nothing came out except an exhale. Well, this was awkward. Suddenly he was back in the field the other day and he felt his throat and chest tighten. He tried to swallow but it did not feel like he could. Was it hot in here? He cleared his throat and Auger reached over to gently squeeze his hand. They were each sitting a side of the table with a corner between them. Her eyes cut to the disturbed pile of her sewing things, then to them, and then to the table in front of her.

The contact helped center Notch. It still took a couple of seconds to claw his way back from the panic attack or whatever that was and he found Dynia looking at him with a worried frown. That would not do; they were supposed to be worrying about her, not the other way around. He cleared his throat again and then gestured towards the table, inviting her to sit with them. She glanced at Asel, who was still staying the heck out of this situation before sitting down. She rested her hands on the table but did not say anything. Apparently they were going to have to start the conversation, which, of course they were. They were the adults.

"Dynia," Notch started. He was pleased to find that his voice was steadier than he expected. Should he try to hint? Ask generally how she was doing? No. It was best to be straightforward so there was no room for guessing at what they were talking about. "We've noticed the patch of fur missing on your leg, and we're worried." He glanced at Auger, who nodded, eyes gentle but steady on Dynia. Notch returned his gaze to Dynia, matching his expression to Auger's. "Can you tell us what's been going on?" His tone was gentle as well, worried, and not accusatory. Other than chewing the knife handle, she was not actually doing anything wrong.

Dynia squirmed, wringing her hands a little where they rested on the table before moving them to her lap instead. Her shoulders hunched and she lowered her gaze to the table in front of her. It seemed that her anxiety was growing with each second they remained silent. Notch was hoping that it would give her space to speak, but instead it felt heavy. He was never good at silence.

"You're not in trouble," Notch reassured her and her eyes came up to meet his, then Auger's, and she signed.

"I don't know why it's happening," her face crumpled and her hands closed into fists. "I mean, I know why. I can't seem to stop messing with that spot. But I don't know why. You know?" Notch nodded, understanding what she meant. Knowing how something was happening was not the same as knowing why she was doing it.
N O T C H
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#10
WC: 467

Auger hated seeing Dynia like this. He felt guilty for even letting it get to this point. They were supposed to protect her, even if that meant protecting her from herself. Thankfully although the bare skin looked a little red, there did not seem to be a wound there, at least from what he could tell from the brief glimpse he got of it. Still, though.

"You find yourself scratching it without realizing you're doing it right away, or that you've been scratching it in your sleep," Auger told her. She looked at him with wide eyes and nodded. It was not something he had personally experienced, but he had heard of it before. When he was a kid, he remembered seeing that one of his aunts had some missing fur, and his Mom had explained what was going on, or at least what she knew about it. His aunt was anxious all the time and it was a nervous habit.

"Sometimes it just itches so bad and I just have to groom there. My brain won't let me not do it." Dynia looked down again, at her leg, which was hidden by the table now. She lifted a hand like she was going to run her finger pads over it and then closed it into a fist again, resting it back on the table. Auger glanced at Notch, whose gaze was on Dynia's fist. He looked worried and a little bit lost. It was not often that he seemed to be unsure of what to say. If the situation was different, Auger would have been amused by it, but not here, and not now.

"I've seen it before when someone is anxious," Auger said gently. He saw no reason to try to hint at it. Better to address it plainly so everyone was on the same page rather than assuming those hints were understood or to talk around in circles. "My aunt, although she had more than one spot without fur." Dynia looked up at him and then sighed, turning a little and lifting her arm. There was a spot near her armpit that was missing a little bit of fur and was more red than the patch on her leg.

"This one is from itching. It feels like... like my chest is really tight and I can't sit still, and my skin crawls..." Dynia swallowed and Auger watched her with a steady but gentle gaze as she looked down at her hands, and the pads that still looked raw.

"Your hands and feet, too?" Auger prompted.

"Yeah, I just... chewing on them helps for a little while. Makes that feeling stop." She looked so lost and Auger wished there was something he could say to make it all okay.
#11
WC: 491

Notch was not surprised that Auger was better at this than he was. He was relieved that one of them could get Dynia to talk to them, although so far he felt a bit useless even if he had managed to get the conversation started in the first place. He always appreciated Auger's calmness in situations that could be tense. It helped before they settled here when Notch got in over his head and Auger had to get them both out of trouble. Even he had his breaking point, but that was usually due to someone's stupidity. In situations like this? Auger's ability to be patient seemed to be endless.

"It's hard to resist that temporary relief," Notch said, glad to have found some way to participate in the conversation. "Even if it ends up making things worse once you stop." Dynia nodded, glancing towards her sewing supplies again. Notch followed her gaze then looked at her again. "You're not in trouble for the knife." He had already said she was not in trouble, but he wanted to make sure that she knew it was not just about her fur and paws, but the knife, too. It was better than letting her sit there wondering if they had found it since her things were not piled the same way as when she left them.

"But I chewed on it..." Dynia said with a whine, her ears pressed back against her head. "I'm sorry, Papa. I can trade for a new one or something." Notch wished that his reassurances had helped her distress. That distress only confirmed to him that this was not a new habit that she was forming, but a reaction to her anxiety.

"You did," Notch agreed and her shoulders hunched.

"And then I hid it," She added, and Notch nodded. Both of those things were true, and in another situation she probably would have been in trouble, but right now they had other things to worry about. The knife was still usable, and Notch knew that Auger was not really upset about the knife. They were both upset about the role they played for Dynia to have even gotten to that point at all.

"But there's more going on. This isn't just some rebellion or something, right?" He already knew the answer, but she needed to answer it for herself, too. Then maybe she would really believe them. She was not a troublemaker in general. There had been plenty of puppy antics, but if Notch was being honest, he was always happy to see those happening because it meant that she could still have a somewhat normal puppyhood. It meant that she had been comfortable enough with them to act out without worrying that they were going to leave her.

"Well no, it's-" She stopped and frowned and Notch watched her steadily, waiting for her to finish that thought.
N O T C H
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#12
WC: 455

Like Notch, Auger remained quiet while Dynia sorted out what she was thinking. It was a calm silence rather than an oppressive one. He wanted her to put it together herself rather than suggesting things, and it seemed like Notch felt the same. It was not surprising; they were often on the same page about these kinds of things.

Dynia's jaw was tense as she stared down at the table, clearly attempting to put what she was feeling to words. Auger did remember that was often times difficult when he was younger, and she had far different emotions from what he always felt, or at least more intense.

"But I ruined it," Dynia finally said, fixating on the knife. He supposed it was a symbol of what she was feeling: anxious, her actions feeling out of her control. "I should have to replace it or something." She knew them well, as that would have been the case under normal circumstances. Then again... she was about a year old now. An adult. Auger decided treating her accordingly might not be too bad of an idea. Maybe it would help them out in general.

"You can if you want to," Auger conceded. "We can figure that out some other time, though." He was hoping to get her back onto the topic of what was going on in her mind since it was now being reflected on her body and her actions. She nodded but did not make any other attempts at talking. Her shoulders hunched forward and Asel stood up from his pretend nap to walk over and rub his side against hers. She ran her fingers over his fur before rubbing right in front of his ears, which was one of his favorite spots.

"I don't know how to explain it," Dynia finally said. "It's like... like I couldn't control it. My mind just wouldn't stop and I had to let it out somehow, and that was how it happened. Kinda like the missing fur spots, and my paws, I guess." This time she just was not taking it out on herself, which Auger honestly preferred. Maybe they should find her things to chew on like when she was a puppy. Having an outlet that was not destructive would be a good thing, really. Another thing to talk about later.

"What causes your anxiety?" Auger asked. If she knew and could tell them, it would go a long way to finding a solution for her. And that was what Auger really wanted: to help her solve this because she did not have to live this way. She should not have to flee her home every day in order to feel safe.
#13
WC: 512

Dynia was struggling to put her feelings into words again and Notch was so tempted to jump in and try to suggest things. Was it the right thing to do to let her struggle and make her own conclusions? Maybe they could at least direct her a little bit to help her get on track, whatever track that was.

"I'm guessing it has to do with when you were kidnapped," Notch said, managing to keep his voice steady as he finished the sentence. It was still difficult to think of that word when it came to her. It was something that happened to other canines, from other packs, and he had never expected it to be their daughter who got taken.

Having Asel in her lap seemed to help calm her down a bit. She continued to run her hand over his back, gently carding her finger tips in his fur. Her shoulders came down a little and the distressed look on her face cleared just a bit. Notch was glad that Asel was present and had decided not to completely ignore their conversation. He did not need to participate verbally if he did not want to, and just showing Dynia some affection was perfect.

"Yeah," Dynia said, and then took a slow deep breath. "I see all the loners here and wonder which one might do something bad next." Notch felt the same, but he only gave an encouraging nod. There were some fears that he thought parents should keep to themselves, especially when it might make things worse for their daughter. "I just... leaving town each day helps that. I can just listen to what's going on around me, and it's peaceful. I do clear trails sometimes, though," She added quickly, probably so they did not think she was just feeloading. Notch nodded again even though he did not think that; she spent plenty of time learning about new things. He was not at all worried about her being lazy.

"I know you do," Notch said. "So you feel much less anxious after you leave?" He wanted to be absolutely sure.

"Yeah, it's way better," Dynia nodded. "I sometimes go by Aunt Ponti's house. Sometimes I go look at the horses that are out in the fields. Make sure they're not getting themselves into any trouble." This seemed to be a good opening to talk about continuing to live here in town. Notch glanced at Auger and found his mate looking back at him. Auger nodded, and Notch nodded back before turning his gaze back to their daughter. She was looking down at Asel and probably missed the brief, silent exchange.

"Do you like still living here?" Notch asked, gesturing around at their house when Dynia's head snapped up, her eyes wide. He suddenly wondered if he had made a mistake by bringing that up, but Auger had agreed with him that it was a good time. Sometimes difficult questions needed to be asked, and he could not shield her from that entirely.
N O T C H
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#14
WC: 483

Auger did not like Dynia's suddenly panicked look, but it was a conversation they definitely needed to have. There were other places to live, and if living here no longer suited their needs, there was no reason not to move somewhere else. The discomfort of talking about how they felt was something they would just have to push through if they were going to be happy again.

"Uh, well, I mean, it's home?" Dynia said, the sentence coming out as a question rather than a statement, and Auger could tell that she was trying to figure out what the 'right' answer was so that she could give it, which was definitely not what they were after. They wanted her real opinion.

"We have been talking about moving," Auger told her. "But we have not made any decisions because we wanted to talk to you first." She seemed to feel a little better. "So you don't have to try to give us the answer you think we want to her. We want to hear what you really think and how you feel about being here." She frowned a little and then looked down at Asel without immediately answering. Auger knew that there was not much more that he could say to make this clear, so maybe she just was not ready to answer yet. It would be a big change, and this was where she had initially found some stability after they adopted her.

"I just... sometimes when I'm outside of town, I imagine living out there. Somewhere quieter, less strangers walking around." Auger nodded. If they lived somewhere else, there would not be any strangers, except newly joined pack members. "But also this is the only place I've ever lived really, at least that I can remember." Before her Mom died, Brukiew had managed to tell them a little about how they lived, and Dynia's memory was correct: they never had a structure as a home. They were on the move as soon as her Mom was able to move her. Auger thought that must have been very difficult traveling with a young puppy.

"It would probably be tough to move," Auger agreed. "The changes might not be fun, but it could also turn out to be better." Dynia nodded, still looking at him with big eyes. "It's not a decision we have to make right away. This place isn't going anywhere. We just wanted to talk about the idea of moving." Unless Dynia really wanted to move immediately, he felt there was no immediate pressure to do so.

"I think... I think I want to move," Dynia said, straightening up a little. She was still petting Asel, who at this point was sprawled across her lap as if he had melted there. Silly cat. But he was helping her, so Auger was thankful, too.
#15
WC: 520

Dynia's words confirmed what Notch and Auger had been speculating. It seemed obvious enough, but it was important to make sure there was nothing else going on, too. He hoped she would have told them, given a clear opportunity just now, but maybe it would have felt like too much pressure with them both sitting in front of her. But he also wanted to make sure she knew that they both supported her. It was part of why Notch had say around the corner from Auger at the table, rather than them both sitting on the same side. He hoped it helped make things feel more equal since they each had one side of the table to themselves, including Dynia.

She seemed a bit uncertain about moving, but the fact that she was stating an opinion at all was good. It was progress, and he hoped that she would continue to talk to them about what she was feeling, even if it was just to vent without either of them being able to actually do something to fix what was going on. She could solve her own problems, too, but they would always be willing to help if she asked.

"We don't have to move quickly or anything, so you can take more time to be sure it's what you want. We've been leaning that way, too, but we wanted your opinion as well." He tipped his head to the side for a moment while considering what to say next. "What you think and how you feel matters just as much as our own opinions. You're old enough to get a say in where we live, or if you even want to keep living with us." Notch knew that some of the other youngsters moved out of their parents homes around this age. "But we love having you with us, so honestly we hope you don't decide to do that for a while."

Dynia smiled at that and rolled her eyes, and Notch realized it was the first time he had seen that expression on her face in a while. He was even glad to see the little bit of attitude. While she was usually shy in public, she used to be braver with them, giving them attitude and sometimes a little snark that way typical of adolescents. Both of them had been so happy to see her secure enough in her place with them to behave that way that the first couple of times, they had even forgotten to scold her for it. That was kind of an entertaining jolt to realize that they were dropping the ball on parenting.

"How about this. We can all keep thinking about it and in a couple of days, we can have another talk to see if feelings have gotten stronger one way or another. Is that okay?" This took the pressure off her to share and also, he hoped, assured her that it was not just up to her. She did not need to make such an important decision for them all on her own.
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#16
WC: 497

Auger knew that Notch thought that he, Auger, was better at the whole parenting thing than Notch was. Auger disagreed. Neither of them were better at it; they were just different from each other. He thought that it was good for Dynia, especially because although how they interacted with her might be different sometimes, they were on the same page about rules and consequences for breaking them, as well as the freedom they wanted her to have in choosing her future jobs in the pack. And, although they would be sad, they also agreed that they would support her if someday she wanted to leave and strike out on her own.

These were things they talked about at length after adopting her, usually when she was asleep. There were a lot of sleepless nights in the beginning as they came to terms with the responsibility they had just taken on. Sometimes it was still terrifying. Those were new discussions, too, as they had not really talked seriously about children knowing that they would need a surrogate but neither of them actually wanted to make a baby with a female canine. It had never occurred to them that a puppy would essentially fall in their laps. Yet, here they were, and Auger was glad that they had her, even if he wished that her mother was still around, too.

He watched as Dynia thought over what Notch said, and he could see a bit of stubbornness forming in her expression and posture. Once she got comfortable with them, she disliked it when they questioned her or tried to make her wait for something.

"I really think I want to move," Dynia repeated with a frown and crossed her arms. Asel reached up and patted her arm with a gentle paw, demanding more pets. She did not even seem to realize that one of her hands found his fur again as she continued to frown at them.

"We're not trying to talk you out of that," Auger assured her. "It's just a big decision. We might not be able to change our minds because someone else might move in here." Her eyes widened for a moment as though that had not occurred to her. It probably hadn't, which was why Auger wanted to mention it.

"Okay, I guess that makes sense," she relented then looked down at Asel again. "Would Monty and Loom still stay around here?" Auger was not surprised that her thoughts went to their horses.

"That probably depends on where we decided to live instead," Auger told her. But honestly he liked knowing that they were close by. "But I think we would probably bring them with us." He glanced at Notch who nodded his agreement. Now that her brief annoyance was gone, Dynia seemed more relaxed. It made Auger glad they had decided to have this conversation. There would be more to come, but this was a good start for them all.
#17
WC: 443

A frisson of excitement went through Notch at the prospect of getting to decorate a new home. Well, not new since they would not be building anything. A different place. He had thought about doing a little more decorating in this house, but for a while now he had no inspiration to do it. His sewing had been suffering, too, because he was not really able to come up with more ways to make his shirts unique. He mostly made the same thing over and over to trade away, but it was getting boring. Teaching Dynia helped, but he wished he could be more creative in his own work. Now he connected it with the anxiety he had been feeling for a while.

Notch believed that Dynia wanted to move. When she made a decision, she almost always stuck to it, possibly because it sometimes took her a while to make the decision. This one seemed relatively fast, but maybe it was something she had been thinking about for a while, too. If not 'I want to move,' perhaps 'what if I lived somewhere else?' Or some form of the same.

"We don't expect you to change your mind," Notch said to reassure her. "But it's also okay if you do." She nodded, her eyes straying to her pile of sewing supplies again. This time, instead of guilt or dread in her expression, Notch could see that she wanted to sew. He glanced over at Auger, who nodded and stood up.

"I have a few more things I want to get done today," Auger said and leaned down to give Notch an affectionate nudge with his nose. "But I'm glad we were able to start this conversation." He went over to Dynia and bumped her with his nose as well and then headed back out the door. Notch smiled at Dynia, who looked from him to her fabric and back.

"Let's do some sewing," Notch told her and she practically leapt across the room to get her supplies. It made Notch glad that they had removed the knife from the pile. He got his own supplies off the shelf they were on as Dynia made it back to the table and began spreading her things out. He was glad that she had not fled the house again after the conversation, which meant that even though it was not the most fun conversation, it had gone well. There was no major upset, just some confusion and a plan, and it was the plan that went the furthest for helping Notch feel better. He hoped it was the same for Dynia.
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