March 30, 2021 at 10:30 am #11634
t i g e r s h a d o w
It was nighttime just like it always was when the thick warrior slipped out of his nest and through the walls of the camp undetected, careful not to make too much noise. Once Darkberry’s breathing had slowed beside him he knew he was in the clear to sneak out, though he kept his paws light all the same. Once he’d broken through the barrier, his pace picked up and carried his form toward the ShadowClan border, the only indicator of his presence were the few white markings that dotted his pelt. Would he ever get tired of sprinting through the territory to meet the ShadowClan deputy? Truthfully, yes. His paws felt sluggish recently and his heart seemed to be unsteady in the mornings. He wished the pair could just meet without all the secrecy.
He wound around the trunk of a thick oak tree, his usual waiting spot for the gray tomcat. Normally he’d stop to hunt, but his stomach seemed to be churning in knots. Would he ask why he wasn’t at the gathering? Tigershadow felt uneasy at the thought. He’d stayed back because his son had a few nasty scrapes and cuts from his tumble down the sky tree. He may be a small part of Nettlepaw’s life, but Tigershadow refused to be a deadbeat father like Softwing wanted him to be. Instead, the pretty white she-cat went to the gathering instead while he stayed with their son. It was odd to think that he had a child with a she-cat he couldn’t stand, especially when he was becoming incredibly close to a tomcat.
The rustling sound of trees made him glance up sharply, though he could only see the wind. Flicking his tail, Tigershadow rose to his paws and scented the air, padding delicately toward the border until he was standing directly on it. ShadowClan territory was incredibly dark, the pine trees shrouding the ground below from the light of any stars, unlike ThunderClan territory that allowed the moonlight to spill in between the trees. “Juncoberry?” he called gently, green gaze searching the darkness for the gray deputy.March 30, 2021 at 12:22 pm #11636
With Smokestar now aware of his relationship with Tigershadow, Juncoberry felt uneasy sneaking out of camp in the middle of the night. While it wasn’t unusual for him to venture into the territory this late, even before he’d met the other tom, he suddenly felt like at any moment he’d be caught in the act and shamed– or worse, exiled. His tension built as he made his way through the pine forest, ears perked as he listened for steps behind him. He’d never been this paranoid before, but until he’d let his friend’s name slip, he’d thought he was untouchable. He didn’t think he could ever be figured out; he was a genius, after all, and no-cat could see through his lies. But now the reality that he was perceived and had faults had crashed down on him, and he wanted nothing more than to hide.
As he came to the ThunderClan border, the grey-spattered tom paused behind a large pine tree, taking deep, steadying breaths to try and calm his anxiety. If he went out there looking like he was seeing ghosts in every shadow, his friend would be worried. It might scare him off if he thought something was happening; Tigershadow had been suspicious on and off that Juncoberry was plotting against him in some way in the past, and an antsy outsider might confirm his suspicions in his own mind. Tigershadow called to him then, and he plastered a lazy grin on his face, stepping around the tree at last. He walked up to the other tom, leaning into him and nuzzling him. “Miss me?” he teased, eyes glittering playfully. “I sure missed you. ‘Didn’t see you at the gathering; ‘thought maybe you ran away.”March 31, 2021 at 6:09 pm #11651
t i g e r s h a d o w
Luckily for Juncoberry, the ThunderClan tom was as dubious as ever. If emotion wasn’t as plain as the moon in the sky, the dark brown tabby wouldn’t pick up on it. A deep purr rumbled in his throat as the gray tom brushed against him, his neck fur tingling at his soft touch. His aroma filled his nostrils and he couldn’t help but feel at ease for the first time that day. “Of course I missed you,” he murmured softly, green gaze sparkling in the moonlight. “Me? A runaway?” he chortled, straightening up to stand tall. “I never run away.”
He twitched an ear behind him at the sound of a twig snapping, the scent of squirrel filling his nostrils as well. Disinterest filled his belly like a cold stone, making him uncomfortable. He’d been on edge since the gathering, especially since so many things had happened in the previous moon; his son had been apprenticed, his sister had given birth to kits, and Softwing had moved back to the warrior’s den. Sharing a sleeping space with his former mate made his fur crawl, especially since her nest was so close to his. Luckily for him, his sister’s mate had switched their nests to make Tigershadow more comfortable. He’d always be grateful for that. “It seems like I’m only happy when I’m here, so why would I ruin the only good thing going for me?”March 31, 2021 at 8:28 pm #11662
An easy smile touched the tom’s lips, and he began to purr, himself. “Oh, never,” he agreed at Tigershadow’s comment, rolling his eyes. There was something off about his friend, and it was hard for Juncoberry to figure out just what it was. He’d never been the best at picking up emotions, more often cracking jokes in place of trying to figure them out, but for some reason the discomfort this tom was showing had him concerned. His brows furrowed, and he moved to press close to the other tom, eyeing him cautiously. He parted his lips to speak, but was beaten to it by Tigershadow. His words caused Juncoberry’s stomach to drop, his concern rising as he snuggled closer.
“I won’t say I’m not a very good thing that makes lots of cats happy, but c’mon Tigershadow,” he murmured, “There’s something wrong, isn’t there?” He knew it; something was going on here that his friend hadn’t said. He grew suspicious, wondering just what the other tom might be hiding. “Talk to me,” he soothed, turning his eyes up to meet Tigershadow’s gaze. “You can trust me; I’m here.”April 2, 2021 at 10:08 am #11742
t i g e r sh a d o w
His green gaze wavered slightly as he guard sharpened, glancing away. He’d managed to take a nap and forget about things before coming here, but Darkberry’s words still stung in his heart. You don’t know what you want, you’re just confused. He flattened his ears before looking back at the gray tom, eyes pooling with tears. He hated crying and ever more so when he did it in front of those he cared about. His immediate response was to close off, but Juncoberry was different and he didn’t deserve to be left in the dark. “I-It’s hard to talk about,” he stammered out finally, taking a deep breath. He hoped the deputy could see how much he was struggling.
“I spoke with my sister and-“ he broke off as his voice cracked, though took another breath and continued, “and I told her… how I might feel… about toms..?” It came out as a question as if he still couldn’t believe the words himself. He’d been taught the complete opposite of what he felt, and his entire family would remind him of how wrong he was to believe it. “She.. she didn’t take it well. She said I was confused,” he wheezed, the words just tumbling out of his maw now as crystal tears slipped down his face. “I didn’t tell her who it was, but she wouldn’t talk to me. She wouldn’t let me see Smokykit or Rootkit! If my parents find out I-I’ll be dead!” He took a pawstep back, eyes rounding like moons as he began to tremble once again. He was terrified of facing his family, this was the one thing they could never find out!
“Things were bad enough w-with Softwing and Nettlepaw, they almost disowned me then, but I didn’t even want a mate or kits! I just wanted to be a warrior, but now the clan thinks I’m a deadbeat father because Softwing wouldn’t let me be in his life! But I swear to StarClan I tried, I swear I did! It didn’t work out, it never would’ve, because I-I’m not like that! I never loved her, hell I never even liked her. But I’m in love with you and why do they think that’s a bad thing?” he sobbed out, digging his claws into the ground and sinking onto his belly. He buried his face in his paws as sobs shook his frame, but why was he hiding? The truth was out now. If Juncoberry didn’t want any part of his mess then he would leave too… what would happen then?April 2, 2021 at 1:01 pm #11745
He grew more concerned as Tigershadow seemed to struggle to just say what was bothering him. If it was this hard for him to admit, surely it had to be something awful. He, thankfully, seemed to have near endless patience when it came to those he cared about, and was willing to just sit silently until the other tom was ready. And once he started speaking, Juncoberry’s stomach dropped. He became tense, though still tried to remain a comforting presence for his distraught friend. So then it was about sexuality, huh? These things always hit him hard. With a cat like Tawnypainter in one’s family, they’d surely understand what Tigershadow must be going through now. He let the other tom speak, remaining silent as his despair slowly built. An ex-mate? A kit? How many things had he been hiding for all this time? Why hadn’t he trusted Juncoberry with all of this?
One thing, unexpected and sudden, hit the ShadowClanner, causing his head to snap up to turn his eyes on Tigershadow. His face turned up in a show of sympathy– or perhaps something sadder. He’d never been great with these things. In love? His heart throbbed painfully in his chest, and he took a step forward. He didn’t know what to do. He felt heartache and concern and rage swirling in his belly, and it was hard to know which one was going to win out and break him from his stillness. “I’m gonna claw her ears off,” he suddenly announced, but tears were welling up in his own eyes, even as he made the threat. “What gives her the right to say something like that? You told me you had trouble over there, but you never said your family were like that,” he accused, turning his eyes away once more. If he hadn’t been deputy, he’d have marched right into the ThunderClan camp and caused a scene. He both thanked and cursed Smokestar for giving him responsibility and a reason to ignore those urges.
He breathed a slow sigh, lowering himself beside Tigershadow and snuggling close once more. “Hey,” he soothed, “Nettlepaw will know when he’s older. Trust me; when a tom actually is a deadbeat you can tell.” He smirked lightly at his own comment, though he didn’t seem very amused. “It’s not a bad thing,” he reassured the tom, “Listen… I love you, okay? And I want you to come to ShadowClan. It sounds to me like staying in ThunderClan is more trouble than it’s worth. Smokestar, um… might already know your name. And what you mean to me.” He grinned sheepishly. “She doesn’t know everything, but I might have let your name slip the other day.”April 5, 2021 at 9:16 am #11759
t i g e r s h a d o w
The tension crackled like lightning between the pair, though the ThunderClan warrior could feel Juncoberry’s apprehension as he spilled out everything he’d kept locked up for so long. He wanted to tell the deputy everything about Nettlepaw and Softwing, but how could he? He couldn’t have spilled out ThunderClan secrets to a ShadowClan tom, yet as their bond deepened he feared how the gray tomcat would react to his past. All he did was run, but now that he seemed ready to face his fears, everything crumbled around him.
His accusing tone made Tigershadow flinch, his green gaze misty as he peered up at his companion. “I didn’t know they would… I didn’t realize,” was all he said dejectedly, his burly shoulders sagging. He knew that Juncoberry would have questions no doubt, but perhaps now wasn’t the time. He could explain once he calmed down, though the deputy’s offer made his eyes widen in shock. “Smokestar knows about me?” he gasped, flattening his ears. Of course, that worried him, but if the leader hadn’t sent an attack patrol yet, then he was in the clear. “I-I don’t know if I can join. Would I even be welcome?” he whispered, his heart aching at the thought of leaving Darkberry, Smokykit, Rootkit, and Nettlepaw behind. Though his heart yearned for acceptance, and if they couldn’t support his feelings then he couldn’t support them.
Perhaps joining ShadowClan wouldn’t be too bad; he’d be judged for his ThunderClan heritage of course but it was better than being shunned and outcasted for how he felt. Besides, there were trees and undergrowth still, though the large tom knew he’d be out of place amongst the smaller, lither cats. He’d have to work extra hard if he joined with Juncoberry, though he felt doubt pierce his heart. “I don’t want cats to tease you because of me,” he murmured, dropping his green gaze back to his paws.April 7, 2021 at 4:38 pm #11782
Giving a, perhaps a little uncomfortable, smirk, the grey-spattered tom giggled softly. “Not exactly,” he admitted, “She thinks she knows. I didn’t actually… tell her anything. ‘Just kinda mentioned you; she ran with it.” He realized how that might sound, and his smirk turned to a grimace. “I mean, I’m not hiding you,” he quickly defended himself. “Just, uh…” He trailed off with a guilty look on his face. Thankfully, the conversation seemed to be moving forward, and he was happy to answer Tigershadow’s question. “Oh yeah, I don’t have a doubt you’d be welcome. The only cat you’d have to worry about sayin’ somethin’ would be my dad; and thankfully you could just walk away from him. He couldn’t catch up even if he tried.” Juncoberry seemed genuinely amused by his own comment, his eyes glittering. After his accident, Tawnypainter could hardly walk at all to begin with, let alone keep pace with some-cat who wasn’t accommodating his unsteady gait.
“Oh, come on,” he soothed as the other tom worried that he’d be teased. “You don’t gotta worry about that. I don’t think any-cat would have a problem with us. And besides, even if they did, I can take a joke. Believe me; I can handle anything any-cat’s got against me. I probably deserve a little teasing, anyway.” His gaze was soft, and he leaned forward to nuzzle Tigershadow’s cheek. “You don’t gotta decide right now; you can take some time to think about it. But the offer stands if and when you decide you’re ready,” he purred, “I’ll make sure you’re happy. ‘just gotta trust me.”April 8, 2021 at 11:57 am #11802
t i g e r s h a d o w
The tom’s heart melted softly at Juncoberry’s touch, though doubt still prickled beneath his paws. He wanted nothing more than to curl up beside his companion and fall asleep against soft moss and pine needles, but the moon was beginning to set and he knew his decision would need to be made quickly. The thought of returning to the ThunderClan camp made his heart ache, but he couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to Nettlepaw, his only true kin. Darkberry’s words cut like a thorn, and the warrior wasn’t sure if his sister would ever love him again. Fresh grief tugged at his heart strings at the thought of leaving behind the life he knew– but do I really know it? he wondered sadly, shifting his deep green gaze to the ShadowClan deputy. “Can I give you an answer tomorrow?” he rasped unsteadily, shifting his paws beneath him.
It was odd to think about living beneath pine trees instead of oak, but at least is was a forest. He would be free from the prying, greedy eyes of his clanmates and the whispers that echoed around the warrior’s den. Tigershadow may be dense, but he wasn’t an idiot. He could tell the clan was pushing him further and further on the outside. Perhaps it was time for him to leave. Darkberry’s reaction to his secret had sealed the deal. Family isn’t always everything, he thought grimly, though he prayed to StarClan that some cat looked after his only son. He felt as if his heart was being torn in two, but ThunderClan wasn’t what it used to be. It was no longer filled with brave and true warriors, but gossipers and liars, and it pained the dark brown tabby every time he thought about it. “I should go, the moon is setting,” he sighed softly, touching his nose gently to Juncoberry’s. “I’ll meet you here tomorrow, I’ll have given you an answer by then.” With a trembling purr, he licked the tom’s cheek before turning and slinking back into the shadows on shaky, unsteady paws.
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