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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9. Chapter Nine

Firefang stood vigil alone that night in the ShadowClan camp while the rest of the Clan collapsed into exhausted sleep. It was just as well....Firefang knew he couldn't have gotten any sleep tonight anyway. And not because of any strange dreams about cats with stars in their fur...no; it was a straight, simple case of a guilty conscience.

Thoughts and faces assaulted him as he stood there in the darkness...Brownpaw, Onewhisker, Gorsekit, Brokenstar...He shook his head as if trying to rid himself of an annoying flea. "This is all wrong." He thought to himself. "This is NOT what a Clan, what a warrior, is supposed to be about..." Firefang—how he loathed his new name!--lashed his tail. When Tigerclaw had attacked him when he first entered the forest; a hapless kittypet kitten, he had wondered what sort of a monster could do that. Now he knew: he was one himself.

"Firefang...they even gave me a name like Tigerclaw's." He thought bitterly. "I raided a clan camp while everyone inside was sleeping: elders...queens...kits...And for what? To watch my friends and clanmates die as they fought and killed innocents?" The more he thought about it, the more Firefang suspected that Brokenstar's motives for attacking WindClan were a lie.

On a sudden whim, Firefang found himself breaking his vigil and padding out of the camp. Before he was even really conscious of where he was going, he found himself crossing the border and heading towards the WindClan camp.

To his surprise he found that the camp wasn't empty. He scented cats here...ShadowClan cats! "What are you doing here?" A voice from behind him meowed sharply. Firefang whirled to see Ashfur standing behind him in an aggressive pose. "Shouldn't the great warrior hero Firefang be attending his vigil?" He sneered. "Or has Brokenstar decided that such trifling things like our traditions matter any more?"

"That's enough Ashfur." A new voice yowled. It was Nightpelt, flanked by Dawncloud, Cinderfur and...

"Yellowfang?" The orange tabby meowed in confusion. "What are you—any of you—doing here?"

The old medicine cat frowned and scratched at herself, dislodging dirt and dust from her fur. "Honoring the fallen." Firefang looked around. The ShadowClan dead had been taken back to their camp for proper burial, but the WindClan cats had been left where they had died. But now that he looked, there were fewer WindClan bodies out then when he had left.

"You're burying them?" He meowed in understanding. Nightpelt nodded.

"It is the proper way..." He sounded tired.

Firefang flattened his ears. "May—may I help?" The older cats looked startled as they turned to one another for guidance. Yellowfang nodded gruffly.

Nightpelt tilted his head to Firefang. "Very well Firefang. Thank you."

Ashfur spat. "Firefang, pah!" He glowered at him. "You don't deserve to be called a warrior, Firepaw."

It was a deep insult to be called by one's former name...Firefang knew that perfectly well. And yet..."I know." He meowed simply as he walked past the bristling elder and over to help them drag the body of a dead WindClan cat out. The older ShadowClan cats shared tongues with the dead she-cat, with Firefang joining in. "Who is she?" He meowed to Yellowfang.

A look of deep sadness crossed Yellowfang's flat face. "Her name is Morningflower. She's the mother of the kit Brokenstar brought back to camp with him."

"Gorsekit's mother?" Firefang was appalled.

"She died trying to protect her kit." Dawncloud muttered sympathetically. Trying to protect her kit...from us." She lowered her head sadly. Cinderfur gently laid his tail across her back.

In a low meow Nightpelt explained to Firefang. "Three of her kits died driving out WindClan." Then the black cat paused before continuing. "You are not what I expected Firefang." Trying to repress a wince at the name, Firefang tilted his head. Nightpelt didn't answer right away, he just started digging his claws into the dirt; preparing a place to bury Morningflower.

Finally he elaborated. "I had opposed your joining ShadowClan Firefang. I felt that Brokenstar was trying to use you to create a group of cats within the clan loyal only to him and not to the warrior's code, ShadowClan or StarClan. I still believe that was his intention." Nightpelt stopped to look Firefang in the eye. "That may have been his intention." He said slowly, "But he didn't succeed. You are a credit to our clan and I'm sorry I judged you based solely on Brokenstar's actions instead of your own. You have shown that you have real honor by coming here. Thank you."

Firefang looked down. "An honorable cat wouldn't have had any part in this." He muttered, waving his tail at the empty WindClan camp.

Nightpelt let out a growl. "You saved that WindClan warrior. Brokenstar would've killed him if you hadn't intervened." He snorted. "Even those of us who disliked him didn't think that he was capable of this. He will be the ruin of ShadowClan."

Firefang meowed. "Is...is there anything that can be done?"

"If there is, StarClan hasn't seen fit to reveal it to us." Nightpelt flattened his ears. "You and Yellowfang had better head back to camp. It wouldn't do to have them notice you're gone. No one cares about us old relics." He let out a dry purr. "We can finish up here."

The orange warrior opened his mouth to speak but snapped it shut after he saw the look in Yellowfang's eyes. "Alright." He meowed. "Good luck Nightpelt."

"Come on." Yellowfang meowed. "It'll be dawn soon."

With a nod, the two cats departed for home. As they traversed the border back to ShadowClan territory, Firefang worked up the nerve to speak. "Yellowfang?"

"Yes?"

"What do we do now?"

Flicking her tail over his ears Yellowfang meowed, "Well, I intend to get some sleep. You can do what you want after your vigil."

"I meant about Brokenstar."

"I know what you meant." She hissed. "Honestly, just how mousebrained do you think I am?"

With a small grin Firefang meowed. "How mousebrained do you think I am if you think I'm going to answer that?"

"Kits these days!" Yellowfang rolled her eyes as they walked into camp. "And like Nightpelt said: StarClan hasn't shown me anyway...out..." She trailed off as the rising sun bathed Firefang's orange fur in a glow of light; his fur rippling in the wind like dancing flickers of fire...

"Yellowfang?" Looking concerned he nudged her with his head. "Are you okay?"

"Hmm, yes? Yes, yes I'm fine." She meowed quickly. "Look just go back to your place and finish the vigil before someone sees you. Then get some sleep and see me later. In the mean time I'll go check on our WindClan guest."

"But, I—"

"Just go!" Yellowfang hissed. "Do as I say!" Not letting Firefang have a chance to respond, Yellowfang stalked off towards the medicine cat den; an idea already forming in her mind.

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