March 27, 2021 at 10:58 am #11593
Smokestar – Shadowclan Leader
Smokestar jostled awake, body shivering and mind racing. Yet another nightmare. She’d grown so tired of them. Omen of Starclan, or whatever else, she was ready for a deep rest. She swiped a paw over her muzzle, wiping away some moss. Exhausted and snappy she’d returned to her den for an afternoon nap. Although she ventured out to care for her kits with Ravenwatcher, she’d been mostly isolated. Tending to her leaderly duties was important, but the heavy weariness of her steps had begun to concern clanmates. Although tensions between her an Juncoberry had remained tense since Fearedjackal’s death she’d been forced to rely upon him more and more. Whenever she was around him she felt at a loss for words. Nothing she said could fix things, and Juncoberry had always been a cat to look at deeds rather than actions. So, instead of confront the problem she’d been tip-toeing around him like a cat sneaking past a fox.
The sound of clattering loose stones pulled her back to reality. She tried to pull together some level of composure, her weary eyes and wild fur betraying her confident posture. It seemed someone needed her, despite her sorry state.
Courtesy of Mairu Doggy, Deviant ArtMarch 27, 2021 at 7:42 pm #11599
Juncoberry had harbored this bitterness and for long enough. He hated feeling miserable all the time, planning his day around where Smokestar would be at any given time. And if he were to be completely honest, he actually missed their interactions before. He missed acting like a fool to see that look on his leader’s face, somewhere between disbelief and something like fondness. He’d become unmanageably emotional this day, unable to bear the weight of their conflict any longer. And so, with a wounded pride, he’d decided to seek out the she-cat to make amends. He didn’t like fighting with Clanmates; even if they very well deserved a little bitterness, it didn’t help Juncoberry any to dwell on bad things. He was ready to let it go.
Without too much effort, he’d traced Smokestar to her den, relying on a Clanmate to point him in her direction. He didn’t want to wait too long, lest he lose the motivation to get this done. He came then to the entrance to her den, just in time to hear a rustle of movement inside. Good… She’s awake, he thought to himself, hesitating briefly. He felt his stomach turn in what must be anxiety, but was quick to stamp it down as tears began to well up in his eyes. “Smokestar?” he called in, shuffling his paws in the layer of gravel that lay at the mouth of the leader’s den, “Smokestar, can we talk?” He was worried she’d turn him away; he’d done nothing but snap at her sarcastically since the whole bear ordeal, and had only just now realized she was probably hurting as much as he was over what had happened. Tigershadow had helped him see that. He hoped they could patch the wounds they both wore from their experience; broken leaders made broken Clans. ShadowClan deserved better.March 27, 2021 at 9:27 pm #11600
Smokestar – Shadowclan Leader
Smokestar called out, beckoning Juncoberry inside. Her muscles tensed. She knew she deserved his ire. The bear chase hadn’t gone as planned. But, she was so weary. She couldn’t fix the past, they had to move forward. Preferably together, if at all possible.
“H-Hey,” she mewed quietly. He seemed nervous as well, like a million ants were crawling across his pelt. Typically, the young tom would laugh. Some sort of inappropriate or untimely joke to ease the tension and break the ice. But this time, he seemed genuinely distressed. Her thoughts raced, wondering what the trouble was. “Of course, what can I do?” Her own response was terse, with a straight-to-business tone. “Everything okay? I’d been wanting to talk as well.” she mewed, voice laced with worry. “I’m sorry I’ve been pushing so much work onto you lately, it’s not exactly fair.“
Courtesy of Mairu Doggy, Deviant ArtMarch 28, 2021 at 9:33 am #11610
He certainly wasn’t acting like himself. Even Mellowfrost had noticed, despite the two of them being as perfect strangers as he might be with just any other cat within the Clan. Juncoberry didn’t have the energy or will to calm the tension between them with a joke; he entered the den and almost immediately tears started dripping down his cheeks. He didn’t give Smokestar a chance to finish what she was saying before suddenly he rushed forward, pressing into her as he began blubbering pitifully. “I’m sorry,” he spluttered, “I’ve been so mean.”
The guilt he’d been pushing away all this time crashed down over him, weighing on his shoulders and threatening to suffocate him. “I didn’t– I didn’t think– I didn’t even think you felt guilty too; I blamed you for what happened to Fearedjackal. I didn’t want any-cat to die… I’m so sorry,” he forced out between labored breaths. “Tigershadow told me– he told me you were hurt too, and I just feel so bad. I didn’t even notice. I’m sorry for being so mean.”March 29, 2021 at 2:43 am #11618
Smokestar – Shadowclan Leader
Smokestar sat quietly as Juncoberry cried, wrapping her silky tail gently around his shoulders. “It’s gonna be okay,” she murmured quietly, tearing up as well. The stress melted from her tensed muscles. For the first time in weeks she felt like herself, strong but vulnerable as she held her deputy close. The openness of Juncoberry’s words were liberating. “I was being mean too, holed up like a bee-stung badger.”
They sat for several moments, crying into each other’s pelts. Voice hoarse, she whispered: “I wish I could go back and change things, Juncoberry. I’m the one ‘blessed’ with these extra lives, I was the one who should’ve shielded Oxhead and Roseshadow from the bear.” She pulled away slightly, so she could look him in the eyes. “I’m going to do better, for everyone. I made a mistake that day, and I’m forever thankful Fearedjackal was there to save the others. But, I’m not going to let that happen again. I swear it.”
She paused for a moment, head tilting. “Erm, Juncoberry, you mentioned Tigershadow?” The name was unfamiliar, and certainly not a clanmate. Her deputy’s life within and outside of the clan wasn’t her business, as long as it didn’t interfere with his duties. But, the curiosity prickled at her paws.
Courtesy of Mairu Doggy, Deviant ArtMarch 29, 2021 at 5:29 pm #11620
He listened to Smokestar speak, the despair that had been nagging him for all this time slowly fading as he realized that it was over now. He was glad he had decided to apologize first; while he didn’t know his leader too personally, Juncoberry didn’t think she was the type to confront him about something like this. As she pulled back, he did as well, sliding himself away just a bit so that they were no longer touching. He looked into her eyes as she vowed not to let something like that happen again, and while a part of him itched with doubt, he wanted to believe her. “I’m gonna hold you to it,” he warned, a soft smile touching his lips. He turned his eyes on his paws, breathing a deep sigh of relief. It was done, then; they could move on from this whole mess. He hated feeling miserable, and now that they’d made up, he hoped he could fall back in to his normal routine.
But then panic struck him as Smokestar parroted back the name he’d let slip. His eyes widened as his head snapped up, his gaze falling on the she-cat as he plastered the fakest innocent expression across his face. “What? Tigershadow?” he echoed, “Did I say Tigershadow?” An uneasy giggle passed his lips, discomfort clear in his posture. “Noo,” he hummed, “You must’ve, uh, misheard me. ‘Don’t even… know a… Tigershadow…” His smile turned sheepish, guilty, his ears flattening to his skull. He scuffed a forepaw against the floor of the den, deciding it would be best to say at least something about the other tom, instead of his poorly executed attempt to backtrack. “He’s, um, just a friend– a ThunderClanner,” he admitted, a half-truth. He was thankful for his thick, dark fur that hid the blush that had crept on his cheeks. He had become flustered at the confrontation, wanting to hide, or maybe dissolve into a fit of giggles.March 29, 2021 at 5:53 pm #11622
Smokestar – Shadowclan Leader
“Juncoberry,” Smokestar said softly, trying to coax the tom out of his nervous shell. “I’m not going to berate you for having a friendship beyond our borders.” She wrapped her tail neatly around her paws, eyeing him with a prying curiosity. “As long as your relations with Tigershadow don’t interfere with your responsibilities in Shadowclan I don’t see a problem.” A wry smile pulled her lips as she chuckled. “I won’t tell the others, and I won’t invade your privacy. Just be careful. Our relations with Thunderclan are still rather strained. I’ll claw Wildstar’s ears if any harm comes to you. I’m certain she’d do the same.”
She stood, grunting as her stiff and tired muscles stretched. “We may be opposites,” she mewed. “But, I’ll never chastise you for following your heart. You’re a good warrior, Juncoberry, and you’re growing into a fine deputy. I don’t need you to be perfect, but I do need you to be honest.” She slipped past him, lightly flicking his flank with her tail. “I guess it’s time for get my grumpy rump out of this den, unless you need anything?“
Courtesy of Mairu Doggy, Deviant ArtMarch 30, 2021 at 5:33 am #11631
Juncoberry winced as his leader spoke his name, looking like a kit caught doing something they weren’t supposed to. He was caught. He should’ve known better than to say Tigershadow’s name at all, even in the state he’d previously been in. He’d managed to keep their meetings a secret thus far, only to blow it and tell Smokestar of all cats. He was surprised and amazed he hadn’t blabbered to Ravenbones yet. There was no going back now, and he was lucky enough that this she-cat wasn’t the type to gossip. She might be okay with it, but surely the rest of ShadowClan wouldn’t. He gave a soft smile as she openly threatened Wildstar, feeling his heart warm. “I can take care of myself, Smokestar,” he soothed, though he appreciated the concern. “And you should know me better by now; if it ever came between some-cat and the whole of ShadowClan, I would pick our Clan every time. ‘Wouldn’t even have to think,” he reassured her.
The grey-spattered tom rose to his paws as his companion did the same, smirking and ready to crack a joke about the way she grunted as she did so, but then she was speaking again. His chest swelled as she complimented him, his heart throbbing painfully. It wasn’t often that he was genuinely complimented; it was rare for cats to see past the dumb character he portrayed. It was often better that way, but it was still nice to be appreciated. “‘S too bad I’m pretty perfect and not very honest, huh?” he joked, moving to follow Smokestar as she walked toward the entrance of her den. He stepped in front of her, himself, as she asked if there was anything else he needed, dipping his head to rub his cheek once against hers. “Just to say thank you,” he admitted, “For… believing in me. And giving me a chance.” And without giving his leader time to respond, Juncoberry slipped out of her den, hoping to avoid any more difficult emotions. Even gratitude was a tough one. He was ready to forget all about this now; perhaps things could go back to normal. He sure hoped so.March 31, 2021 at 9:37 pm #11665
Smokestar – Shadowclan Leader
Smokestar watched in silence as Juncoberry pushed past the overhanging pines which shielded the entrance. She shook her head, frustrated as her deputy left the mystery hanging in the air. She could’ve ordered him to stop, she could make him spill the truth. But, she remained silent. She wouldn’t betray him like that. He could keep his secrets, for now.
‘I trust him, he’ll do the right thing, whatever is going on. He’ll speak when the time is right.‘
With a ragged sigh she left the den shortly after him, heading for the nursery to visit her kits and Ravenwatcher. She’d visit for a while, then try to get into the swing of leaderly duties once again.
Courtesy of Mairu Doggy, Deviant Art
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