Fire and Shadow

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

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4992672/1/Fire-and-Shadow

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14. Chapter Fourteen

Firefang quickly bonded with his apprentice. Gorsepaw was eager, inquisitive, and energetic. He felt a flash of pride the first time Gorsepaw brought in a lizard. He was a quick learner, friendly, and loyal to a fault. The only thing that got Firefang down was the realization that he would have to tell him the truth about his Clan sooner or later. Gorsepaw didn't even know he was from another Clan.

Onewhisker, from his prison in the medicine cat den, had been adamant about Gorsepaw knowing the truth about his Clan. "He's a WindClan cat!" Onewhisker had meowed firmly. "He shouldn't let Brokenstar or the others take that away from him...what'll happen when WindClan returns?"

"But telling him could crush him...and he could go running to Brokenstar and tell him that I told him the truth." Firefang countered. "And then what? At the least he'll take Gorsepaw from me and have someone else mentor him. That's the best we could hope for. At worse he'll figure out that you and I are plotting against him!"

"I like to think that it's a given that I would be." Onewhisker pointed out dryly, but conceded the point...for now at least.

A few sunrises later, Firefang took Gorsepaw out on a patrol to Fourtrees. "And this is where the Clans gather at the full moon."

"Wow..." Gorsepaw's eyes went wide. Purring in amusement at his eagerness, Firefang's ears perked up as he heard a noise. It turned out to be a ShadowClan patrol led by his old mentor, Boulder. "Boulder?"

The gray warrior nodded to him. "Firefang, we were just coming from RiverClan." He waved his tail at Darkflower, who held a fish in her mouth. "Care to join us for some fish?"

Darkflower's apprentice, Nightpaw gently padded over and dropped a fish by Firefang's feet. "I caught this one just for you." She said shyly, purring.

Firefang's stomach did a somersault. He had almost forgotten that Brokenstar had pressured RiverClan into sharing the fish in the river with ShadowClan. And he had forgotten about Nightpaw. Ever since the snake incident she had been acting strangely toward him.

"No thanks." Firefang meowed suddenly. "I think I'll try getting some on my own...would you mind taking Gorsepaw back though, Boulder?" He looked to his mentor, trying to ignore the dejected look on Nightpaw's face.

"Huh?" Gorsepaw blinked back him.

Boulder looked at his former apprentice oddly. "Catch fish...on your own? We had to have some RiverClan cats get them for us."

"It'll be fine." He gave Gorsepaw's ear a quick lick. "Go on and listen to Boulder. See if you can catch some prey for the elders while I practice fishing."

Gorsepaw nodded "Alright...see you later Firefang!" The apprentice padded off with the patrol. Firefang waited for them to go before pressing on alone through Fourtrees and into RiverClan territory. He came to the bank of the river and sat, waiting. Not for fish, but hopefully, for answers.

The sun had started to set when a scent on the breeze carried the scent of RiverClan cats. Within minutes of that, a pair of RiverClan cats appeared. One was a unusually spotted golden tabby she-cat and the other was a gray she-cat with blue eyes. The first cat arched her back and hissed at him. "More ShadowClan!" She spat. "Do you enjoy taking prey from the mouths of our kits are you simply enjoying make us get your prey for you, you lazy piece of fox-dung?"

The other cat said nothing but simply glared at him with cold hostility. She smelled of kits and milk, probably a queen. Clearly, the first cat had not been exaggerating.

Firefang consciously had to resist the urge to quail under the tongue-lashing and couldn't help but feel daunted by the other cat's glare...even more intimidating than the other's rant. "I didn't come here for prey." He meowed quickly. "I need to speak to a cat who fought in the battle at Sunningrocks where Oakheart died."

"Why?" The gray she-cat asked, her eyes narrowed.

"Mistyfoot..." The other one hissed.

"It's...hard to explain." Firefang mewed. "But it's nothing that could harm RiverClan. I swear that by StarClan," he added.

Apparently, he had said the right thing for Mistyfoot relaxed. "...I think it's alright Leopardfur." Looking at Mistyfoot like she was crazy, the RiverClan deputy reluctantly sat down.

"Don't worry. I won't eat you. You'd give me a bellyache." Mistyfoot meowed, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "Leopardfur on the other hand..." She licked her paw idly. "You're Firefang, aren't you? I saw you at a Gathering. They say you used to be a kittypet." He voice was cool, with thinly veiled suspicion. Leopardfur spat in derision.

"That's true." Firefang admitted neutrally, masking his heavy feelings at being confronted, once again, with the familiar sting of contempt by Clanborn cats for his past. "But I'm a warrior now."

Mistyfoot stared at him levelly, her eyes fixed on his. Finally she said, "All right, I fought in the battle. What do you want to know?"

Firefang replied quickly, knowing he would probably never have another chance. "Tell me what you can about the way Oakheart died."

"Oakheart?" Mistyfoot's eyes dropped to her paws. Leopardfur's shoulders slumped. After a long pause Mistyfoot mewed. "Oakheart was my father; did you know that?"

"And my denmate." Leopardfur couldn't help rumbling.

Shaking his head slowly, Firefang replied. "No, I didn't. I'm sorry. I never met him, but they say he was a brave warrior."

"He was the best and the bravest." Mistyfoot said with pride and sadness. "And he should never have died. It was an accident."

His heart racing, Firefang quickly asked, "Are you sure? No cat killed him?"

"He was wounded in the battle, but not enough to kill him. Afterward, we found his body under some fallen rocks. Out medicine cat said that was what killed him." Mistyfoot answered.

"So no cat was responsible..." Firefang mewed musingly to himself. "Thank you, Mistyfoot. That's just what I wanted to know."

"What I want to know is why you want to know." Leopardfur growled. Firefang flicked his tail as he struggled with whether or not to tell them. That was when he noticed how lean Leopardfur was...both of them in fact. It was taken for granted that RiverClan cats were generally the heaviest and most well fed in the Clans. But these cats were clearly getting thin.

"Hold on." Firefang darted away from the bank and into the bushes. He came back a moment later dragging a rabbit he had caught and killed while he was waiting. "Here. This is for you."

Leopardfur's namesake fur on her shoulder stood up. "We don't want your pity!" She snarled.

"Pride catches no prey." Firefang retorted evenly. Mistyfoot laid her tail on Leopardfur's back.

"It was kindly meant," she meowed to her. "My kits need this." Leopardfur growled, then finally, dipped her head in agreement.

"Very well." She slid into the water and swam to the other bank. With only a single quick glance at Firefang, she picked up the rabbit with her teeth and swam back across to the RiverClan side of the river.

"Farewell Firefang." Mistyfoot dipped her head respectfully. "I hope to see you again at the next Gathering."

"I would like that." He nodded back. The two she-cats had turned to go when, on an impulse, he suddenly said; "Mistyfoot, wait." He paused for the RiverClan cat to turn back to him before adding softly. "I'm sorry."

He didn't say he was sorry for Oakheart's death. He didn't say he was sorry for forcing her to revisit those memories. He didn't say that he was sorry for what his Clan was doing to hers.

He didn't have to. She knew.

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