Thorn sat alone gazing up at the storm clouds blowing away across the moon, leaving behind a fresh rain-washed world. The storm had broken almost as soon as he had killed Talon and the rain had washed the blood from his paws and muzzle, although Thorn was sure he could still smell it.
The silence was welcoming. He had spent so long on his own that being back with the pack made him feel uncomfortable. They still didn't like him. Even though he had rid them from Talon's cruel reign they still eyed him with distrust. They feared him. Had nothing changed?
Thorn's nose twitched as he caught a familiar scent and he turned in time to see the slender shape of Chill slip out from the surrounding forest. "What are you doing out here?" She asked, sitting down beside him and wrapping her tail over her paws. Thorn shrugged his powerful shoulders. "Nothing. It feels better to be alone anyway." He replied. "Does it?" Chill asked in response. The question caught Thorn off guard. "Well, yes and no. But I'm not used to being around so many other wolves, and they seem awkward around me."
"Can you blame them? You killed Talon. Defeating him is no small feat and the wolves respect your power over them." Chill said. Thorn looked back up at the stars. "Yes. I killed Talon." He growled. "But now... there's nothing left. All my life I focused on one goal; revenge. And now that it's met, I feel so... empty." Thorn said, looking back down at his blood red paws. "Revenge never solves anything." Chill sympathized. Thorn shook his head sadly. "It doesn't. Nothing has changed. The pack still sees me as they saw me before." Thorn looked at Chill, gazing into her bright blue eyes. "Who am I? What have I got left?" He asked. Chill looked back at him seriously, meeting his burning gaze. "You are one of the Fledge. You still have the love of your brother and mother, and you have saved your pack." Chill answered. She reached up and lightly touched her nose to the scar on Thorn's face. "You don't have to let the past decide your future."
Thorn just looked at her, wondering why he was confiding his deepest emotions with this she-wolf who he had never thought twice of before. "The past." Thorn scoffed. He looked back out at the dark landscape before them. "The old legend has come true. I have brought the Pack to darkness." Thorn said. "But you saved us." Chill protested. "You came back and brought us out of our darkest hour. Talon would have destroyed the Pack." She said. "Hmmm." Thorn pondered. One of Chill's ears flicked. "What?" She asked. "I was just thinking of Talon. I can't explain it, but, I almost feel..." Thorn fell silent, unable to give voice to what he felt, and feeling even more uncomfortable. "You almost feel sorry for him." Chill guessed. Thorn nodded slowly. "I do. He didn't understand what he was doing. Even though what he was doing was horrible, he truly thought he was in the right." Thorn said. Chill tilted her head to one side. "But does that justify what he has done?" She said. It was not meant to be a question, and Thorn knew it.
"No. He plotted and killed to come to power, and then he abused that power by not treating the wolves that were in his charge to protect justly." Thorn answered. "And he killed the alpha and assaulted the alpha's son." Chill ended for him with a meaningful look at Thorn. Thorn growled softly, closing his eyes as the memory played so vividly through his mind. He could never forget what had haunted him all this time.
"Am I evil, Chill?" Thorn asked quietly. The question took Chill off guard and she paused a moment before replying, not wanting to say the wrong thing. "No." Chill answered resolutely. "You may have done wrong in the past, but you came back. You didn't abandon us when we needed you. You saved us, Thorn."
Thorn didn't reply and only continued to stare down at his paws. How could she think he was good when so many thought he was bad? Chill noticed his unease and went on; "The way you were born does not determine who you are. What will decide your fate is what you choose to do with your life." She said.
They sat in silence then. Wondering over the past and the future yet to come, until Thorn finally spoke. "So. What about you and Blue?" He asked with a knowing gleam in his scarlet eyes. Chill ducked her head down and flattened her ears in embarrassment. "He... he's great." She said longingly. She then looked up at Thorn, her expression suddenly sad. "But I don't think he'll stay. He seems so awkward around the other wolves. Just like..." Chill suddenly stopped mid-sentence and gave the fur on her chest a couple of awkward licks. Thorn's ear twitched in amusement. "Just like me?" He guessed what she had been unable to say. Chill said nothing and Thorn only nodded, understanding. "You can't blame him. He's been away from the pack for almost as long as I have. And he always has been a dreamer, always wanting to explore far off places." He said, looking out across the Pack's territory to where the tips of the desert cliffs could barely be seen silhouetted against the horizon. Chill nodded sadly. "What about you? The Pack needs a leader. Will you stay?" She asked meekly. Thorn shook his head. "They would never accept me, and I've been away so long that I'm too used to solitude to live with so many. Maybe someday the Pack will be ready to accept a new Fledge as alpha, but not now. The time of the Fledge is over." Thorn said. Chill just looked at him. He seemed so wise despite his youth. He would have made a great alpha.
Chill sighed and looked up at the stars glittering coldly above them. "The Pack was brought to darkness and then saved by the Fledge, as the legend told. And now it is over." Chill said. "The Fledge are no more."
"But we will always watch over you. We won't abandon our home again." Thorn said, standing up and spreading his dark wings. "You'll make a great leader, Chill."