It was impossible not to love her.
The Lunar Flower, the Maiden of the Moon, Cheza. She had been meant for them, just like they existed for her. She was their treasure, only theirs, and they couldn't escape becoming her servants, her guardians, her lovers. Her friends.
It was impossible not to love her, but it was madness to love her equally. Unlike Kiba, his every breath would never be devoted to her; his priority would never be to make her laugh, like Hige tried every day; he would never follow her like a pup, yipping eagerly for a petting, as Toboe still did.
But he would die for her.
Because she was their safe place, and she deserved -
"Are you sleeping?" Toboe's voice was closer up than he'd expected. At last, the pup was learning some stealth if not much sense. As an elder, Tsume was entitled to punish him for his impertinence; yet there was no sign of apprehension in the kid's demeanor. Perhaps because he'd lived his entire life outside a pack, Toboe never learned a rule as basic as not to upset stronger wolves. "Tsume! I know you're awake," the pup cajoled, "I'm hearing you think!"
More likely, Toboe was picking up the change in his breathing and heart rate. Some more weeks on the road, and they might make a passable wolf out of the pup. If we have any more weeks….
"What's wrong?" Tsume asked brusquely, chasing away the dampening thought.
Toboe brightened, disregarding the bark. "I found rabbits," he whispered, tapping his nose and checking Hige wasn't within earshot, "Wanna check it out?"
Tsume chuckled at the pup's effort to keep his find a secret. It might be impossible not to love Cheza, but growing fond of Toboe had been a choice. "Let's."