Fire and Shadow

AU. Rusty has been adopted not by ThunderClan...but ShadowClan!


4. Chapter Four

Rusty—no Firepaw—his mind still reeling at the transition, numbly followed Wetpaw into the apprentices' den. He smelled new scents as he entered and saw that they were not alone. New suspicious, calculating eyes seemed to cut into his flesh as he felt oh so very alone. Wetpaw nudged him with his head. "So, Firepaw, welcome to the den. These are the rest of the apprentices..." he waved his tail over to them as he introduced them one by one. "You already know me and Brownpaw—" the brown apprentice gave an awkward nod and quickly looked away. "—and this is Rowanpaw."

Firepaw nodded politely. Rowanpaw looked at him only long enough to sneer and looked away. "Now we have to share the den with a kittypet." He hissed. "He'll stink up the den with his twoleg stink!"

Back bristling, Firepaw hissed back. Wetpaw lay a tail across his back. "Don't. Rowanpaw's always like that." He assured him. "Besides," he lowered his voice. "fights between cats in the clan is frowned upon." Firepaw set his fur back down flat and licked his paw. Wetpaw nodded, gratefully. "And this is Whitepaw and Littlepaw." He nodded to two small cats. Firepaw blinked. These two balls of fluff looked too young to be apprentice warriors!

Littlepaw, a very small tabby-tom, looked up at Firepaw with big eyes. "H-hello." He meowed shyly. Whitepaw nodded and echoed him. Wetpaw looked outside.

"We should get some sleep." He meowed. "You have a long day ahead of you, Firepaw." Wetpaw sat down on the floor. "Tomorrow you start your training as an apprentice."

Rowanpaw gave a condescending smirk. "He won't last a moon." He purred nastily. "But at least we'll have someone else to check the elders for ticks and bring in new moss bedding."

Firepaw's whiskers twisted as he curled up to go to sleep. Things were just getting better and better...


It took Firepaw half the night before he could finally get to sleep...and it felt that he had no sooner done that then he felt someone nudging him to get up. "Firepaw? Firepaw!" The orange tabby winced. Wetpaw. "Firepaw, I'm serious you have to get up! It's time for the apprentices to wake up!"

With a faint moan, Firepaw hauled himself up to his feet. He stretched and yawned, blinking sleepily. "I'm awake, I'm awake...." Wetpaw turned and beckoned Firepaw to follow him with his tail.

Firepaw looked over at where Wetpaw was headed. A skinny gray tom stood in the middle of the camp, waiting for them. Wetpaw nodded respectfully. "I brought him Boulder." His gaze flickered. "I-I guess I should go to Jaggedtooth..." he trailed off.

Boulder frowned, his tail swishing. "Your apprenticeship is almost over. You should be getting evaluated soon." He said, his voice sounding none too happy despite his words. His gaze softened and he licked Wetpaw's ear. "I may not be your mentor anymore, but I know you'll do me and the Clan proud when you're made a warrior." He looked up and his face took on an annoyed expression. "I don't know if I can say the same about this one..." He looked at Firepaw. "Go on Wetpaw. Jaggedtooth and Rowanpaw will be waiting."

"Alright." Wetpaw nodded at his former mentor. Then he turned back and looked to Firepaw. "It'll be okay...Boulder's a great mentor! Good luck!" He waved his tail and bounded off. Firepaw padded up to Boulder and inclined his head respectfully.

"So..." Boulder meowed, then let the silence stretch on just shy of becoming awkward. "Do you know why Brokenstar assigned me to be your mentor?"

Firepaw hadn't the slightest so he gave what he thought was the safe answer. " train me to be a ShadowClan warrior?"

"Only in part." Boulder meowed, circling around an increasingly nervous Firepaw. "As surprising as it sounds, you and I have something in common: Like you, I was not born of the clans."

"Is that why your name is so different from other clan cats?" Firepaw couldn't help blurting out. Boulder stopped, whirling around to look at the young apprentice in the eye. His large blue eyes seemed to bore into Firepaw's green eyes like a hawk boring down on a rabbit.

Finally he nodded slightly. "A thinker are you? But yes." He meowed. "That's why. Only I wasn't a pampered kittypet like you. I was a loner." Seeing Firepaw's non-comprehension he explained. "A cat who lives on his own, without any twolegs. So I didn't live on cream and twoleg food that looks like rabbit pellets." He flicked his tail. "Brokenstar feels that since I know what it is like to come to the clans with no understanding of how a Clan works that I'll be ideally suited to teaching an apprentice who likewise knows nothing of our ways." Boulder sat down in front of Firepaw as he continued. "I am the first cat not born of the clans to be welcomed to the forest since the formation of the clans. Brokenstar honored me greatly by allowing me join honor that seems somewhat diminished now that he let you in." Boulder snorted. Firepaw winced. "What Brokenstar sees in you, I don't know. I don't really care either." The gray cat went on. "But I'm a loyal warrior and I do what my leader tells me to do. So even if that means giving up my apprentice just before he's to be evaluated, and having another warrior take on two apprentices just so I can give you my undivided attention, that's what I'll do." Boulder paused and then muttered. "That doesn't mean I have to like it."

"I—I'm sorry."Firepaw flattened his ears. "I didn't want to cause anyone any trouble..."

"Sorry catches no prey." Boulder meowed, getting up and stretching his back legs. "Speaking of, it's time I told you about your duties as an apprentice. Come. I'll show you around camp."

Firepaw hesitated, then got up to follow Boulder. The gray warrior spoke without even bothering to look at his apprentice. He pointed out the den where the warriors slept, the elders' den, the leader's den, the nursery...the medicine cat den and apprentice den Firepaw was already familiar with. "As an apprentice it is your duty to clean out and replace the moss and bedding in the dens as well as to help the elders check for ticks, as well as any other duty needed to be done. Your main duty, however is to defend our borders, marking our territory; and hunt for your clanmates." He paused to look at Firepaw. "This is your first and most important lesson: the Clan comes first. When you hunt for the clan, you do not eat until the rest of the clan has been fed first. First the elders and nursing queens...then the warriors and apprentices. You do not take so much as a mouthful until the others are fed. Understood?"

Nodding quickly Firepaw meowed. "I understand." Boulder turned his head back and started to walk on ahead. "Um, Boulder?"


Firepaw took a deep breath. "...Why did you leave your old life behind? Join ShadowClan, I mean." Boulder stopped short. He slowly turned around and looked at the young apprentice.

"...You want to know about my old life?" Boulder asked quietly. Firepaw nodded slowly...then winced when he saw Boulder's claws unsheathe, digging into the ground. "If I ever told you about my old life your fur would turn grayer than mine, your whiskers would curl, and you would never sleep soundly again. If StarClan is merciful you will never have to find out." Boulder spoke quietly, but passionately. "Now if you do not wish me to claw your ears off you will never speak of this again. Is that understood?"

Firepaw nodded hastily. Without another meow, Boulder turned and started to walk off. With a flick of his tail, Firepaw followed.

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