The sun slowly rose into the sky, its warm rays seeking life.
The orange glow that had appeared on the crest of the hills grew stronger and stronger, until it became to much to bear. Shade took one look at the dawn sky, and slipped up a nearby oak tree. For some reason he felt safest in the dark. The dark... was comforting. It embraced Shade as it embraced all black cats, hiding him, sheltering him from prying eyes. It had been moons since it had been necessary that he must stay hidden, but the habit of wanting to be concealed and invisible was part of him now. The moons and moons of hiding had made a deeper impression on him then he had realized. After a while he heard approaching paw steps. He carefully scented the air, searching for a certain cats scent, and, once he'd found it, he leaped out of the oak, landing right in front of Rapid. The she-cat jumped, surprised, and he buried his head in her long fur, breathing in her earthy scent.
"I've missed you," he breathed. She purred, her initial shock replaced with delight at seeing him once more. She ran her head along his cheek, her purr loud to his sensitive ears. She then sat back, and surveyed Shade, looking at him like she could see into his soul.
It wasn't a question, but a fact. Shade knew this, and nodded earnestly, eager to show he was ready now. He hadn't been when she had told him, and he understood this now. His letting her leave had been the right thing to do, as he did not jump at every unanticipated noise anymore, and walked with more confidence then he had ever dreamed he would be able to wield.
"So have you."
Ripple snorted at his words, and once they were out he understood why. Of course she had changed, the last time he had seen her she had been carrying his kits. His kits... She cocked her head at him, as if she knew what he was thinking.
"Alright. You are ready."
Shade's fur bristled excitedly.
"Our kits? Are they..."
She nodded, and four kits about two moons old emerged from the surrounding foliage. Shade gasped, delighted, then paused. How had he not smelt them? And how was he supposed to interact with them? Ripple gave him an amused look, then called the kits over.
"Kits, this is your father, Shade."
The kits stared up at him with wide, innocent eyes. One stood out in particular, the black she-kit with blue eyes. Ripple kept on talking.
"Shade, this is Ash."
She gestured at the grey tabby tom.
"This is Smoke."
She pointed at the black smoke tabby she-kit.
"This is Jinx."
She waved her paw at the black she-kit Shade had noticed earlier. The kit looked up at Shade, and he felt his heart melt.
"And this is Night."
She finished the introductions with a flick of her tail at the smallest kit, a tiny black she-kit with green eyes.
This kit also looked up at Shade, and an involuntary shudder ran down his spine. There was something wrong with this kit. Ripple seemed to notice his reaction to Night, and gave him a disapproving look.
"Come on," she said. "we're a family now."
I woke the moment the sun spilled over the horizon. The darkness had covered me, had carressed me and gifted me a sense of security, so of
course I noticed when that sanctuary departed. Shade, my father, was also awake, sitting at the entrance to our den and watching the light conquer the darkness. he did that almost every morning, and sometimes I joined him, but not today. He radiated grumpiness, and I knew from experience that when he was grumpy he liked to be left alone. Ripple, my mother, once tried to explain to us why he was sullen sometimes, but she didn't do a good job of it, and left me knowing only one additional thing to before: he had had a very difficult life. It wasn't even much use knowing this, for I have seen the thin scar running along his flank every day. Ash awoke with a start, and noticed me staring at him. He grinned sheepishly, guessing he looked a mess (which he did), and stretched.
"How long you been up?"
I shrugged, not wanting to reveal that I'd just woken up. For some reason, I never look dishevelled. The moment I wake I appear to have been awake for ages. Shade, Ripple, and my sisters are the same. Poor Ash. Alone in the 'looking super tired and sleepy when you just wake up' world. Used to my indifferent and rather boring personality, he nodded, and climbed to his paws.
"Wanna do some scavenging by the dumpster today?" Ash asked.
I hesitated, knowing I should probably go with him. But I had planned on actually hunting today. Ripple, Smoke and Ash thought it was crazy that I enjoyed stalking prey compared to ruffling though bins, but to me nothing could replace the thrill of the chase or stalk or leap, or the feeling of a body go limp, or the taste in the freshkill. Yet I didn't want to hurt his feelings... I went with the best approach I could think of.
"I'm sorry Ash, but I promised, uh, Jinx that I'd go hunting with her. I'm really sorry."
Ash looked slightly disappointed, but took it well. That was one of the things I liked about him, he never let anything get to him. Smoke called him a Soaker, because he just soaked up anything anyone said and didn't care. I knew he did care, but just didn't let it get to him. I admire him for that.
"It's okay Night. Maybe we can scavene together next time."
I nodded, like I agreed (which I didn't) and made my way into a warm patch of sunlight. Yes, I perfered night to day, but light had it's upsides. Such as the warmth. I began to groom my pelt, sharing tongues with myself. While I made sure I was clean so that I could go out and get dirty, my family began to wake up. Smoke joined me in my patch of sunlight. Shade and Ripple held a very serious conversation at the back of the den. Ash began playing mossball like he was still a kit and Jinx...
I whipped around, and found myself staring into Jinx's cold blue eyes. I don't know why, but every since Jinx and I were kits we've hated each other.