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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19. Chapter Nineteen

Firefang dragged himself back to the ShadowClan camp just after dawn, carrying enough freshkill to avert any questions or inquiries about why he'd been out so early. He felt like he was walking on clouds. His time with Mistyfoot had been...unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. It was simply wonderful.

Just as he approached the camp's entrance, he spotted Boulder heading out. His former mentor's large eyes widened as he saw him. "Out a bit early aren't we Firefang?"

Dropping his freshkill, Firefang meowed. "I couldn't sleep so I decided to go hunting instead." Nodding to his prey he commented, "Seems like greenleaf is very nearly upon us."

"One can only hope so." Boulder purred in pleasure. "You did well to bring us this extra freshkill. Brokenstar will be pleased."

Firefang nodded as a thought crossed his mind. "...I certainly hope so." He meowed cautiously. "Brokenstar can be a bit—capricious?" Seeing Boulder's puzzled expression, he explained. "He still hasn't let the elders back into the camp." Firefang observed with false innocence.

Boulder lashed his tail. "Brokenstar...doesn't feel like he can trust them. But I'm sure that he will eventually reconsider it."

With all the aplomb he could muster, Firefang went on. "I wonder though, isn't that against the warrior's code? You always taught me that the code meant that we feed and protect the clan elders and kits first. But the elders were forced to leave the camp and kits have been made into apprentices too early."

The personal way Firefang framed his inquiry stung and he knew it. Boulder's face froze into a passive look. One of the things that had sold him on joining ShadowClan was the knowledge that once he grew too old to hunt, that there would be no one out there to help him, feed him, care for him...the thought that the thing which attracted him to Clan life was being denied his own Clanmates by the leader who had welcomed him into ShadowClan was disturbing.

Realizing as much, Firefang said no more; not wanting to tip his paw. Without so much as twitching a whisker, he brushed past Boulder and into the camp. He had no sooner deposited his catch into the freshkill pile than Yellowfang approached and snapped it up.

"A nice catch." She burped as she swallowed down a bite. "Just the sort of thing I would want for...breakfast." She paused as she detected a strange scent. Opening her mouth, she drank it in and started sniffing. "Firefang, you smell like RiverClan." She snorted, wrinkling her flat face. "I never liked that fishy smell. What were you doing there Firefang?" The old medicine cat's eyes bore into the young warrior's.

While Firefang had been trained, like all ShadowClan cats, to be able to conceal what they were thinking from other cats, Firefang's eyes were too honest. And from Yellowfang there was damn little that could be hidden from her. At Firefang's guilty look, Yellowfang went rigid; her shoulderfur stood up and her tail bristled.

"Firefang...you IDIOT. You didn't." She said, knowing full well that he had. She hissed angrily. "Get into my den. NOW!"

She turned, but when he didn't immediately follow she spat. "Hurry! Unless you want the whole camp to smell what you've been doing!" Firefang padded after Yellowfang, ducking into the medicine cat den. Onewhisker was still asleep, dozing. Firefang looked around for Runningnose until Yellowfang explained. "I sent him out at dawn to collect some herbs...lucky thing I did too." She poked around in the crevices and cracks where she stored her herbs until she pulled out a particularly potent smelling leaf and dropped it on the floor.

Firefang pulled his lips back in distaste at the smell. "What is that?"

"The plant that's going to save your life." She spat. "Roll around on it. It'll hide the smell of RiverClan."

"Any everything else too." Firefang noted unhappily, his tail twitching.

Yellowfang growled. "Just do it! And be grateful that's all I do! Stupid toms." She muttered. "Great StarClan what were you thinking?! It wasn't enough to have Nightpaw fawning over you, you had to lay down with every she-cat in the forest?!"

Rolling his back over the strong smelling leaf, Firefang tried to explain "It wasn't like that! Mistyfoot and I—we love each other!"

"Love! StarClan save me, 'love!'" Yellowfang rolled her eyes and looked up to her warrior ancestors. "You're too young to know what love is." Firefang felt his fur bristle.

"I'm not a kit Yellowfang, I'm a warrior."

"Yes, you are—at least that's what I thought before you violated the code by seeing a cat from another Clan!" She shot back angrily. "You mousebrained idiot! Could you possibly have done anything sooner! I thought that you were going to try to do something about Brokenstar but apparently you've found something prettier to distract yourself with!"

Growing hot with anger, Firefang faced Yellowfang furiously. "Don't you dare! I've spent everyday thinking about how to get rid Brokenstar since the day I was made a warrior and WindClan was banished! What've you done?"

Hissing furiously, Yellowfang arched her back. "I've been looking after your friend here and trying to keep Brokenstar's claws off him! I've been communing with StarClan, searching for the answer—which apparently you aren't!"

"What's THAT supposed to mean?" Firefang demanded.

Yellowfang lashed her tail. "StarClan said that fire would save our Clan—I thought that mean that you would be the one to save ShadowClan. But apparently RiverClan is more worthy of your attention!"

Firefang was too angry and hurt by her accusations to let what Yellowfang said about StarClan's prophecy to sink in. "I sought out friends and allies to stop Brokenstar even before I knew you and Nightpelt and the others were against him! Both in ShadowClan and in the other Clans!"

"Apparently, you found more than just a 'friend' in Mistyfoot." Yellowfang fleered. Then, with visible effort she restrained herself. "Firefang....there's a reason why StarClan forbids relationships between cats in different Clans, just like they forbid medicine cats to have kits. What you're doing with Mistyfoot isn't good for either of you or your Clans."

"And what would you know about it?" Firefang shot back, still smoldering. Yellowfang looked away briefly, so briefly Firefang wondered if he ever even saw it.

"I...it's a long story Firefang and an unhappy one." She sighed. "Do you realize what would happen if Brokenstar found out? He could use that information to turn the Clan against you and then we'd never be able to get rid of him! You're our best chance of restoring ShadowClan to what it used to be...you can't throw that away. Not even for Mistyfoot. What do you think Brokenstar would do her and her Clan, considering what he did to WindClan? He's already starving RiverClan! If he's not stopped, all four Clans could be destroyed by him. We can't do that without you...or if you're mind is preoccupied with other things."

Firefang looked down, his shoulders slumping as what she said struck home. "...but I love her."

Yellowfang sighed as she walked over to lick his ear, her tail laying gently across his back. "Every cat thinks that the first time they see a pretty she-cat. That doesn't mean it always is. Or that it's possible, even if it is."

Pausing to look over at Onewhisker, who mercifully had slept through their argument, Yellowfang continued. "Just look at what was done with Gorsepaw when Brokenstar stole him from WindClan. Even if Brokenstar was banished and WindClan returned today, how confused do you think that poor kit would be? Whether he stayed here or went home, he'd always been torn between the Clan where he was born and the Clan where he was raised. What do you think would happen if you and Mistyfoot ever had kits? How they would feel with one parent in one Clan and the one in another Clan? How conflicted they'd be if their parents' Clans ever fought? Even if Mistyfoot came here, how do you think she would feel if she had to abandon her family, her Clan to join you here? Or how you'd feel if you had to go to RiverClan?"

Firefang lowered his head to the ground, resting it upon his paws. "...I don't know. And Gorsepaw...I still don't know how to raise his WindClan heritage with him."

"In the end, there only is one way...tell him the truth." Yellowfang said gently.

With a sigh, Firefang lifted himself to his paws and shook himself off. "Thank you Yellowfang....I'll think about what you said." He dipped his head and started walking out when he paused. "How did you get to be so wise Yellowfang?"

Instead of some flip or snarky comment, as he expected, Yellowfang sighed; suddenly looking as old and tired as he had ever seen her. "The same way everyone does....by making a lot of mistakes."

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