by Phoenix Flight
for Firey's contest
!Contains major spoilers for Cold. Mostly for Episodes 5 and 9 of Season 1!
I sat next to Storm, my tail wrapped around my paws. Storm seemed embarrassed, or something along those lines. I looked over at her and remarked, "I've seen you before, haven't I?"
She looked over at me, and shuffled away slightly. Maybe we were sitting a little close, but it was cold. Wouldn't it make sense to huddle up? I merely shrugged this off, and wrapped my tail around my paws, awaiting her answer.
"Yeah. It was at a... Gathering, as you call it." Storm mewed after a moment of hesitation. "I was looking out from a bush - just curious, y'know - and you noticed and smiled at me."
"I thought so." I leaned forward and rubbed against her. I quickly pulled away when she stiffened up. No matter how embarrassed she might've felt, I carried on. "I never forgot you and your beauty. Then, fortunately, I saw you the other day when you went to camp to pick up Crowheart. To be honest, I was... jealous that he got to go and I didn't. So I made an attempt to persuade Bramblestar to let me go, and he agreed."
Her eyes immediately brightened, all signs of embarrassment gone. "That's great!" Then she gasped. "Which means you... and I..."
"Yes, Storm." I purred, leaning forward again. "You and I." I nuzzled her cheek with my nose. She let out a purr, and nuzzles me back.
"Thank StarClan you came, Dewheart." she purred, looking up at me with bright eyes.
I smiled and drew away. "We are one, Storm, and I'll make you feel loved here, even if Dawnfur doesn't. She was always a stone-headed she-cat, huh?"
Storm nodded. She glanced back and I followed her gaze to see Crowheart. He was staring at Storm with pure pain in his eyes. He looked away, hanging his head to stare down at his paws. Then Crowheart stood and padded over to Snowbreeze, attempting to make a conversation with her. She only glared at him and turned away.
And that's where things took a sharp turn for the worst.
I stood and briskly meowed, "Excuse me, Minnowfur." Not waiting for her response, I hurried over to Storm. "What's wrong?" I asked her. "You seem shaken."
"There's something outside, Dewheart. Something red." she breathed slowly. "I-I called for Crowheart, but he didn't come."
My eyes met hers, and I stare at her. "Watch for him, Storm. I can tell he likes you." I understood how Crowheart felt, but I loved Storm, and she loved me. I knew that I was making him feel hurt, but he should understand that Storm didn't love him.
Snowbreeze's panicked scream sliced through the air. "Foxes!"
Of course! Why hadn't I known? Storm had told my that there was "something red" out there. Why hadn't I guessed that the red things were foxes!?
Storm's call rang out above the foxes' yips and snarls. She barked out orders as if she'd done it her whole life. "Minnowfur, go around and attack from the back. You go with her, Crowheart. Dewheart, stay with me."
From where he stood, battle-ready, Crowheart threw a glare at me, his ears pinned to his head. I merely shook it off and glared back at the foxes, who slowly advanced, their tails waving as they walked.
"Dawnfur, take the left! Snowbreeze, the right. Circle around them. We might be able to confuse them. Go! Now!" she yowled, waving her tail forward.
I saw Crowheart narrow his eyes at me one final time, then he launched himself at the foxes. As the group fanned out, I dashed toward Storm and skidded to a halt beside her. I pressed against her. I felt her tense shoulder muscles, saw her claws, which sunk into the ground. Her eyes glinted in fury, one that I hadn't seen as long as I'd known her.
"I'm going to attack first." I murmured. She looked over at me, the fury in her eyes gone and replaced by confusion, or maybe surprise. "Those foxes won't lay a single claw on you. Not while I'm here."
Before she could protest, I sprang into the fight.
I lunged at the first fox I can reach, wrenching its leg out from under it. It lets out a pained yelp, but I didn't hesitate to strike it in the side of its head. It's sent reeling, but it recovered and snarled at me. I held up my claws, which were stained with its blood.
It seemed to think twice, backing away, its eyes confused. Then it turned and dashed away, toward Minnowfur and Crowheart, who were fighting back-to-back.
I turned my attention back to-
"Dewheart!" Her terrified scream filled my ears, and I whipped around to see her surrounded by foxes, each of the red-furred creatures snapping at her with their sharp white teeth.
I turned to race toward her as fast as I could, but pain shot through my tail like little needles. I watched Crowheart race ahead of me and to Storm's side, his fur bristling. He snarled at them, only seeming to make them angrier.
I was dragged back, my claws scoring marks into the floor. I whirled around to see a fox, its grip on my tail tightening and blood - my blood - seeping out from around its teeth. I snarled and, letting out a screech, lashed out at it with my claws, hooking its small black nose. Despite its yelp of pain, it held fast, dragging me further backwards toward its comrades, who bounded toward me.
"Storm! Help!" I screamed as teeth sunk deep into my shoulder. I writhed, only driving the foxes' teeth deeper into wherever they were latched on. I felt warm blood run down my sides, and I thrashed even more violently. "Storm'!"
Storm leaped forward, her eyes panicked and her claws outstretched toward me. "Dewheart!" she shrieked, her voice piercing.
"St-Storm!" I wailed as the foxes continued their onslaught. I felt tooth and claw rip my pelt away and draw fresh blood. I felt weaker, but I writhed anyway, desperate to free myself. Blood ran into my eyes, blurring my vision, and I blinked it away, trying to see Storm's attempts to save me.
I heard harsh yowls, and what foxes remained looked up, releasing me, and then they backed away a few steps, their tails stiff. Then they turned tail and ran, their howls and heavy pawsteps filling the silence. I tried to stand, but my legs gave out and I collapsed, panting.
I blinked, my breaths ragged and shallow. I saw dark paws making their way over to me, and I heard the familiar voice of Crowheart. "He's going to die like this..." he murmured, his gaze slowly sweeping over the bloody wounds that covered my pelt.
"Dewheart... n-no!" Storm whispered, sounding truly upset. For the first time, I saw tears leak from her soft eyes.
I gazed into her eyes for a heartbeat longer, and then everything swirled into blackness.
"It's what they want, Reedtail." I mew calmly, padding up to my friend. "You have to accept it."
Reedtail looks at me from the corner of his eye. He hesitates, glancing back down to his paws, then snaps his head back up and asks, "Was Storm a great cat?"
Surprised and a bit uncomfortable for having to answer this question, I take a step back, my tail lowering slightly. I shake my head, then meow, "She was. Yes. What made you think about her now?" I flick my ears as I add, "The battle's going on right now."
Reedtail shrugs his shoulders, looking indifferent, which sort of irritates me. "I wanted to get to know her." he replies, curling his tail over his paws and looking back down at the cats. "It was too soon after we left that I got blown away by that blizzard." He closes his eyes and sighs. "I wish I could've told the other Clan cats that it wasn't her fault that I got blown away and killed by the rogues."
This time it's me who sighs. "In all seriousness, she was a great cat. I loved her, she loved me back. But the foxes came, and my life with her ended far too quickly. I wish for her to realize how lucky she is that Crowheart's a kind and caring tom." I pause, then dip my head for a heartbeat or so. "They deserve each other, Reedtail. Don't try to tell me otherwise."
Reedtail didn't look as if he'd try to say that I was the only cat for Storm. He merely mewed, "I loved Minnowfur so much. She was the cat of my dreams. The star that lit up my heart. I loved her with everything I had. Heart, soul... yet it never happened."
I stand and brush my tail against Reedtail's flank. "She's going to avenge your death, Reedtail. She's a loyal she-cat that you deserve."
"Thank you, Dewheart." Reedtail mews quietly. "You deserved Storm."
I stare into his eyes. Keeping my voice steady, I meow, "No. She deserves Crowheart more than me."