"Ryefrost?" I called out.
"Hey Badgerclaw! I've been looking for you!" Ryefrost mewed cheerily, trotting up to me.
"That's not what I'm worried about," I growled, "Why have you been crossing our border?"
"Crossing it? I've just been waiting for you," Ryefrost mewed, looking confused.
"Well we're from different clans so we can't wait for each other." I turned around to walk back home but Ryefrost jumped the stream and followed me. "What are you doing?!"
"I wanted to ask you something." She stopped in her tracks.
"Fine!" I snapped, "Get on with it, then."
"Would you meet me at the island tomorrow night?" The light brown tabby asked.
"I don't know. Just...I don't know. Come, though," She mewed.
I hesitated for a moment, then growled. I turned back towards her, "Fine. But just tomorrow night only. And don't tell anybody, especially Mistfeather."
"Why Mistfeather?" Ryefrost cocked her head.
I didn't want to hurt this she-cat's feelings by telling her about Mistfeather, but I was going to tell the truth anyways. "She's...Expecting my kits."
"She is?" Ryefrost's eyes darkened.
"Yeah. But she's mad at me, so I don't think we're mates anymore, not that I care. Now go on," I mewed, flicking my tail. Ryefrost nodded and leaped over the stream, running through the barren moorland and disappearing over a hill.
That was awkward. I thought to myself as I padded through the forest. What would Ryefrost want with me? I'm Thunderclan and she's WindClan. Just as I was about to head for the thorn tunnel, I remembered telling Forestwhisker I was going hunting. Impatient, I retraced my steps into thicker undergrowth. Hearing a mouse scuffling under a hazel bush, I dropped into a hunter's crouch. I peeked through the branches of the bush, seeing the tiny mouse gnawing on a leaf.
In the blink of an eye, I dove under a space in the bush and swiped the mouse into the air. It squeaked and landed on my claws, falling limp. Smiling with satisfaction, I picked the up the small rodent in my jaws and headed to camp, thoughts of Ryefrost whirling in my mind.
"That's it?" Forestwhisker eyed at my single piece of prey as I walked through the thorn tunnel.
"It's better than nothing," I retorted, setting the mouse on the fresh-kill pile.
Forestwhisker sniffed and turned back to Cloudstripe.
Grumbling, I went to see Stormwhisker.
"Hi," I greeted.
"What's up?" Stormwhisker looked up at me from where he lay in a patch of sunshine outside the warrior's den.
"Nothing. Looks like leaf-bare is about to come to an end, huh?" I glanced up at the sky, hardly cloudly, and then I felt the ground. It wasn't as cold as it once was when snow and ice fell.
"About time," Stormwhisker grunted, "More prey!"
"All I caught today was a puny mouse," I growled, pointing with my tail-tip to the mouse that sat at the top of the fresh-kill pile.
"Have you seen Frostwing lately?" Stormwhisker asked me, changing the subject.
"Why would I want to?" I grumbled.
"Well she is having kits again. They should be here any day, Sunpetal says." Stormwhisker turned his gray tabby head to the nursery.
"Not that I care," I growled, getting up and going to the medicine cat's den. Stormwhisker's glare burned into my pelt as I left him.
"Can I come in, Sunpetal?" I called through the bramble screen, "It's me, Badgerclaw."
"Yes!" Came the answer.
"Hi Cherrypaw," I mewed upon arriving. "How're you feeling?"
"Hi, Badgerclaw!" Cherrypaw purred, "I feel better. Sunpetal thinks I can even return to training tomorrow."
"Really?" I looked up at the bright ginger medicine cat.
"She's been bugging me about you all day. I haven't heard her cough either, she should be free to go tomorrow," Sunpetal mewed.
"Good." I turned back to my ginger tabby apprentice, "I'm going to make you run through the whole territory!" I teased.
"I was thinking doing something more along the lines of hunting practice?" Cherrypaw mewed.
"Hey I taught you how to hunt a moss-ball!" Flowerpelt joked from beside Sunpetal.
"Yes a moss-ball is going to feed the clan!" Cherrypaw growled playfully. I ignored the she-cats and left the den. I thought about visiting Mistfeather but that was never going to happen again. I thought back to Ryefrost and the hope in her amber eyes. Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I padded to the fresh-kill pile to eat, then planned to curl up for the night.
I slipped quietly and carefully through the dirt-place. All my clanmates were sleeping except for Tigerfang and Amberblaze who were on guard. Once clear of camp, I darted into the dark forest. The moon and stars were my only light, and lit up the forest by a little. I recalled the way to the island, and followed my mental-map.
Once there, I jumped onto the tree-bridge, still nervous though I'd crossed it a lot already. I look up, trying not to think about the swirling, dark water that would surely drown me if I fell. Then I felt sand beneath my paws as I leaped down.
"You came!" I saw Ryefrost bounding towards me as I padded to the center of the island.
"Yeah...I came," I mewed unenthusiastically, "So what exactly did you plan to do?"
"I don't know," Ryefrost mewed. She gazed at the stars for a second as she thought, "Want to see who can stay in water the longest?"
I shivered at the thought, but I wasn't about to let a WindClan cat see that I was afraid of water. "I'll beat you!" I mewed as I dashed to the shore. My paws stopped at the shore, and I gulped.
"What are you waiting for?" Ryefrost mewed, then she pushed me into the water. I yowled, my paws flailing as I felt icy-cold water surge over me. But something hard hit below me, and I realize I wasn't that deep yet. Under all the noise of my struggle, I hadn't noticed Ryefrost in the water as well. She was spitting it out of her mouth.
"Starting now," I mewed. I winced after a few heartbeats as my body started feeling cold and numb, and my soaking fur was beginning to drag me down. Waves lapped at my head, but I was still determined to win, even if it was just a pointless game.
"Okay, you win," I mewed, bounding out of the water and shaking my black-and-white pelt.
Ryefrost followed me out, shaking her brown tabby fur. Water droplets landed on me, not that I cared, at least I wasn't actually in the water.
"That was fun," I mewed, "But I don't understand how RiverClan cats swim in it."
"I don't know. They're crazy," Ryefrost laughed, "Come on! Race you to the great tree!" She dashed off before I did.
"That's not fair! You're WindClan of course you're faster than me!" I said, haring away after her.
"And I'm smaller," Ryefrost teased as she reached the great tree, panting. I arrived shortly after her and flopped myself on the ground.
To my fright, I found that I actually enjoyed Ryefrost's company. She was a lot funnier than Mistfeather, and wasn't as boring. Ryefrost liked a challenge.
"I'm going to sleep," I yawned. I padded over to a bush to collect leaves and twigs for a nest.
"Me too." Ryefrost trotted after me. After I had leaves and sticks gathered up, I walked over to the center of the island and set down my items. I arranged them just like they were in the warrior's den, making the leaves thick and comfortable, then laying down. I could barely feel Ryefrost's soft fur as she lay with her back towards me. I closed my ice-blue eyes, relaxed for once. I kept my thoughts running until I fell asleep.
Life's too short to be angry all the time, I told myself, It's either be unhappy in a clan with Frostwing, my mother, and Mistfeather. Or I could be with Ryefrost and be happy. Would she allow me to join WindClan? Would Dovestar allow me? I need to be happy for once in my life, and Frostwing has made that impossible. I'm supposed to enjoy my life, not hate it and wish to die.
I took a deep breath and fell into the darkness of my dreams.
"Wake up!" Ryefrost hissed in my ear. I blinked my eyes opened, and adjusted them to the dawn light.
"It's dawn already!" I mewed, "We have to go back to camp now."
"I know." Ryefrost looked at her paws as she sat up in her nest. She looked back up to me, "That was fun. Say we come to the island again in two nights?"
"So long as I don't have to get in the water again," I mewed.
"Same here. See you later," Ryefrost flicked me on the shoulder with her tail as she darted off. I watched after her, then got up a moment later and followed. She was already gone by the time I reached the tree-bridge. I felt emptiness in my heart again, and only then did I realize how much Ryefrost meant to me even if we hadn't talked to each other much before last night.
I continued on into the forest alone, and entered the dirt-place alone, creeping through. I saw a few warriors already awakening from their nests, and I hoped nobody noticed my absence. I slid into the warrior's den quietly, and fell into my nest.
I shut my eyes, though I didn't sleep. Adderstorm stirred in the nest across from mine, then he yawned and padded out. I followed, murmuring a quite good morning to the dark tabby tom.
"Badgerclaw!" Sunpetal's call rang through the clearing.
"What?" I bounded towards the sound of the bright ginger she-cat.
"It's Mistfeather!" Sunpetal appeared just outside the nursery.
"What about her?" I growled.
"Her kits came last night. Come in," Sunpetal slipped into the bramble nursery. I, on the other paw, had a harder time since I was larger. I struggled with the tight thorn entrance, and then leaped inside.
Sunpetal's call must've attracted other cats, as they began approaching the nursery. I could feel my heart beating in my chest, hard. Would my kits respect me and know who I am?
"Go say hello to your sons and daughter," Sunpetal purred. I peeked over a slumbering Nightsong, and saw Mistfeather staring at me with a cold look in her blue eyes. I knew she wouldn't do anything since a few other cats were in here.
I let out a purr at the sight of three kits tucked into Mistfeather's stomach. There was a very dark gray tabby tom, a black tom with white paws and tail-tip, and a dark gray-and-white she-kit that looked like me apart from the gray.
My only problem was I had no clue with what to do with kits.
"Have you decided on names?" I saw Rainsong behind me.
Mistfeather, shook her head, then looked towards me, "You get the she-kit and the black tom."
I nodded, then thought for a moment. "How about Nightkit for the black tom, and the she-kit....Wolfkit?"
"Good names," Nightsong mewed, waking just moments before.
"And the dark gray tabby tom is...Hailkit," Mistfeather confirmed.
I purred at the kits. These were mine, no one else's. I would do anything to keep them.
My paws itched once I leaped off the tree-bridge. Ryefrost wasn't there yet, to my disappointment. I sat in the middle of the island, my fur fluffed against the chilling, night winds.
"Badgerclaw!" I heard a yowl, then my back was to the ground in an instant and I was gazing up into Ryefrost's bright amber eyes.
"Ryefrost! I didn't even hear or see you!" I mewed.
"Exactly," Ryefrost purred, "That was the point." She let me up, and I shook out my ruffled fur.
"So," Ryefrost continued, "Did Mistfeather have your kits yet?" There was no hint of jealousy anywhere, which surprised me.
"Yes." My tail lashed at the mention of Mistfeather, who had put on a front during the naming of the kits.
"Really?" Ryefrost's eyes brightened, "What are they?"
"There's two toms. One tom is a dark gray tabby named Hailkit, and the other is black with white paws and tail-tip named Nightkit. Then there's a dark gray-and-white she-kit who I named Wolfkit," I answered.
"Oh, congratulations!" Ryefrost purred. "You know, I've always wanted kits of my own, but I'll wait until I'm older and fought my battles, ya know? And had my hunts."
"Yeah...Hey look how bright the moon is," I mewed, trying to change the subject.
"Oh I know, it's pretty." Ryefrost gazed up at the night sky. I followed her gaze, and the tops of the pine trees were barely lit with the light of the moon and stars.
"Hey," I poked her with my paw, "I want to see how fast you can climb up a tree!"
"Climb a tree? I want to see how fast you can run on an empty moor!" Ryefrost shot back.
"That's easy. But WindClan never climbs trees. Here's your chance now to climb one," I mewed.
Ryefrost glared at me, then she darted past me and into the first oak tree in sight. She disappeared under the leaves, and she made them and the branches rustle. I followed her, eager to see how far she could go before backing out. My claws gripped the thick bark as I launched myself up the trunk. A branch scratched at me above my eye, but I didn't care, it couldn't attack me like a warrior.
"Got ya!" I mewed as Ryefrost's tail was in sight. She looked down then gave a wail of fright.
"How do I get down?" She asked me, terror in her amber eyes.
"Easy," I mewed, "Watch." I turned myself the opposite direction and scrambled down.
"I-I still can't do that," Ryefrost stammered. She looked at me from over her shoulder and attempted to turn, but couldn't. "I'm stuck here!" She yowled.
"You're not stuck!" I growled, "Here." I climbed back up to the top where she was and grabbed her by the scruff. As I turned, she swung over the ground, a dizzying distance away, and groaned in fear, but I was glad at least she didn't attempt to claw me.
We reached the ground safely, and she rolled out from my grasp.
"Thanks," She grumbled, shaking out her bristled tabby pelt.
"At least you can tell all your clanmates you climbed a tree!" I mewed.
"Uh...No. I don't think they'd be very pleased with me." Ryefrost was still shaking from being so high up, but she eventually lost her fear within moments.
I butted her in the shoulder, "Don't me a scaredy-mouse!" I purred.
"Scaredy-mouse?" Ryefrost blinked at me in disbelief, "I'll show you who's a scaredy-mouse!" She leaped at me with outstretched paws and rolled me onto the ground. I swiped at her shoulder as she began batting at my face.
"Okay, okay! Get off!" I mewed.
"Beat ya." Ryefrost grinned.
"I've had enough beating for tonight," I mewed, "I'm going to sleep." I padded over to the foot of the great oak where the leaders made their announcements and curled up between two roots. Ryefrost curled up beside me, and I stayed awake until I could hear her slowed breathing. Then I too, fell into a peaceful sleep.
A moon later.
Night after night, me and Ryefrost met, and I enjoyed it because I was stress-free and away from my clanmates. I know I'm breaking the warrior code, but it's not like I could care, I'd rather be happy.
"Hi, kits!" I called as I went into the nursery. Wolfkit squealed with joy and Nightkit gaze up happily. I almost wish I hadn't walked in as soon as I saw Nightsong and Frostwing were gone. It was just me and Mistfeather.
"Go away," Mistfeather grumbled quietly.
"Go away?" I repeated.
"I don't want you here, you said long ago that you didn't want these kits, so go." Mistfeather glared at me with hate in her blue eyes. Never before had I seen her like that.
"That was almost 3 moons ago, Mistfeather," I growled, "Forget the past! This is now."
"So you've changed?" Mistfeather sneered, "It doesn't seem like it. I always catch you glaring at Frostwing and I can see the hunger to kill in your eyes. You're the same as you've always been, Badgerclaw."
"You know what, Mistfeather? I think you're just unhappy with your life, and you're jealous of mine because I don't have to be constantly be in the nursery with kits of an unloved-mate that you had those moons ago." I shooed Wolfkit away as she neared closer to me.
"Nobody wants you here!" Mistfeather snarled.
"I will snatch these kits and run, Mistfeather," I snapped, "And I'm not coming back. You think I'm lying? I'd love to see your expression on your face when I put my life on the line for them. And I wonder if you're jealous of Ryefrost too."
"Come on. Let's discuss this away from camp." Mistfeather walked out the nursery, and I followed, fur bristling. She was going to bring this up three moons later? Wow. Icepool went into the nursery as Mistfeather called her, and then we stalked out the thorn tunnel.
"Do you know how many times you've even come to see your kits?" Mistfeather asked me, "Three! In one moon, that's it. Brackenstripe sees his kits everyday, and even Ashclaw, you're own father!"
"Have you ever thought that it's you who is keeping me away from Hailkit, Nightkit, and Wolfkit?" My claws scraped the ground in frustration, I was ready to rip Mistfeather's throat out.
"Me? No it's you who resented me because I was having kits."
"Resented you? It was you who got mad at me. All I said was that I wasn't ready to become a father, then you just stormed off and left me in the dirt. I've held myself back from slitting your throat!" I know my threat was a little harsh, but it was true.
Mistfeather looked offended, "I know you're seeing Ryefrost," She sneered.
"You do?" I blinked at her in surprise.
"Yes. And if you ever dare threaten me again, I will tell Lionstar that, your former mentor and leader." Mistfeather smirked at my expression.
I didn't retaliate, I just walked off to the WindClan border. I doubt Mistfeather followed me, but I didn't care whether or not she did, I just wanted to see Ryefrost.
I had a serious question for Ryefrost, but I hesitated. I thought about the kits already had, and stopped in my tracks for a moment.
No, I thought to myself, This is for you, stop thinking about others and think more about yourself! I approached the stream, and waited until Ryefrost showed up.
It wasn't until moonhigh when the brown tabby she-cat appeared.
"Badgerclaw! What are you doing here?"
"I need to ask you a question," I mewed, "A serious question."
Worst cliffhanger ever, probably. But I don't care, it's my story. Anyways, hope you enjoyed whoever reads this! And I'm going to be gone for about a week because I have band camp, which I don't want to go to, so probably not many stories coming out. Oh well, not many people read them, I only have two people who've read each one, and you know who you are, so thank you!