As the evening meal was almost complete, his mother forced him and his sire out of the kitchen. She wanted to get to know Esca more without any "overbearing fools" in the way. Roan suppressed a protesting growl as he stalked outside, but just barely.

Despite his aggravation, he desperately wanted his mother to like his little Hawk…and his sire to approve. Roan had no idea if he tolerated Esca's presence or not, the older Sabertooth was so hard to read. Even though they had, more or less, the same face, his sire always hid his emotions well.

Standing out on the porch, his ears caught long-strided footsteps behind him. Without turning around, he murmured softly, "Do you…approve?"

It wasn't often that sires were close to their offspring, but in this case Roan and his siblings had an attentive father that always took care of them and wanted a strong relationship with them. Roan was so relieved that his sire wouldn't ever push him into anything, even though he's the eldest.

Growing up, his friends and others had strained relationships with their sires, almost to the point where there was violence and resentment. Roan had always wondered why his father, considering how gigantic he was, never was physically aggressive. He was shocked at the answer; his mother would have strung up his father by his balls, literally.

He jumped slightly at the firm arm wounding around his shoulders. Suddenly, the need for reassurance and acceptance tore through the younger Sabertooth and he surprised himself by giving the meekest whine he'd given to another in years.

Roan felt his sire's arm tighten and pull him firmly into his barrel chest. A nose prodded at his throat and the younger cat gave no hesitation to bare himself so submissively to another dominant. The bigger male's comforting scent washed over him like a balm as his father sniffed him, as if to reacquaint himself.

Roan felt a low, soothing growl rumble through his sire's chest as he took his time scenting him. "You smell of strangers and not of home…" the older male huffed. "I do not like it."

Even though he knew his sire was half serious, he didn't like the negative tone of voice. "Can't help that," Roan whispered, resting his whole weight against his father, knowing he was still strong enough to.

"Don't like how you're gone for months, Roan. Your mother hates it…as much as I."

The younger male turned as fast as he could with such a tight hold on his shoulders. Hearing how much his parents, especially his sire, grow anxious every time he leaves makes his stomach churn with shame and remorse.

Glancing down, he mumbled, "I'm sorry, sire."

Roan didn't fight the hand lifting his chin up. He met green eyes filled with so many emotions that he could barely breathe. Very rarely does the older male express feelings of that magnitude. "Not your fault. Can't help it. And what did you call me?"

Roan shifted, but couldn't look down because of the firm grip on his chin. He was so terribly fighting the urge to submit so completely to another because he'd simply forgotten how. Roan couldn't take his warring instincts anymore so with a distressed whimper he buried his face in his sire's muscular chest.

"I'm so sorry, Papa…" he choked out, whole body trembling with strain. All it took was his father's warm hand slowly travelling down his back. Immediately, Roan sagged against the huge, strong body that had always radiated safety and trust.

"I'm not angry, cub," his sire soothingly murmured in his ear. Every last bit of anxiety melted away when the younger cat heard moniker his father had always said.

"Truly?" he asked, voice muffled.

"Have I ever lied to you, Roan?"

"No, sir."

"Wrong answer, little cat."

Every last vestige of warring instincts vanished when his sire uttered the nickname that he only would say out of deep affection. He felt his eyes well threateningly, but he would not cry, no matter how much he wanted to.

"No, Papa…" he sighed contently, lifting his head to meet green eyes dark with deep affection.

The hand on his back shifted to the hand resting on his ribs. "Missed you, cub. Not the same without you," his sire gruffly confessed. "Just glad you brought back someone this time. Such a small thing, but I see he completes you. Want to see offspring next season."

Roan gasped, eyes wide. "S-So you a-approve?" he stuttered.

"If I didn't I would've ignored the bird. So stop worrying now, little cat. Just want to see you more now that you have a mate. Mebbe live here on these lands."

The younger male frowned, confused. "Papa, I'd be living on another dominant's territory. Won't you feel-"

"Threatened? You're my cub, Roan, my first offspring. My sire instincts are stronger than my dominant ones. Always have been with you. I know your mother would be so happy. Hate that my mate is so unhappy all the time with you gone."

Roan felt light-headed, he was so stunned. "You mean it?"

"Of course, Roan. Now quit arguin' 'fore I cuff you."

The younger male could jump for joy, he was so elated. He instantly complied with his sire's indirect order. "Yes, Papa."

He sensed his sire fully relaxing. Roan sighed as the older cat leaned down and nuzzled his throat. "Good. Such a good cub, little cat."

He would deny it later, but Roan purred at his sire's praise. He started to rub against his father like the feline he was in pure and utter satisfaction. "Papa."

"Hm."

"I…I love you," he whispered so lowly that even his sire's sharp hearing could barely hear. It was only the second time the younger male had uttered those words aloud to his sire. The other time was when he had left the house to join with the Warriors when he just reached majority.

The hand on ribs caressed his side with so much gentleness that Roan could barely handle it. "I as well, my son. Now come. Your mother's going to wonder what's takin' so long. Food's gettin' cold by now. Know you already noticed she's made your favorite."