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luna -- angelus -- stranger


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prequel to luna, angelus, and stranger


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a good Bandage your wounds or let them fester- it's your choice.

--No matter how many times we fought, love will always conquer hatred. 00:39, August 9, 2017 (UTC)

I like it!

And the sea was a reminder, mirror of givenlight .

:D --forever and always 06:42, September 1, 2017 (UTC)

Yesterday is not ours to recover,

But tomorrow is ours to win or lose. 16:27, August 26, 2018 (UTC)

fanart


Strangers
the amazing art of stranger done by vani!



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preface


"...where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."
- Halsey, "The Prologue"

Regal kingdoms ruled over all. The flightless - and the fliers.

There was no difference, Fratz knew. As a prince, he had his job - rule over his fliers as soon as Uki passed away. Find a way to reproduce without getting too attached to his chosen one - which was Tipo.

Tipo wasn't bad, he knew, but she was close - almost like she was bordering on the forbidden concept.

He couldn't totally blame her, somehow.

A flightless.

A flier.

She was a flier - but she had no marking. No white spots on her fur. Not even her tailtip was white. Her eyes were a deep green, her pelt a deep, cinnamon brown. Was she actually a flier? Fratz wasn't sure now.

Uki had decided to spare her, as she said she was born from two fliers that had vanished. She wasn't totally wrong - a pair of fliers had gone missing. Fratz didn't believe that she was their child, though - as I should.

Once she'd said something to him about her dramatic witnessing of her parents' deaths. He wasn't too keen on listening - she was annoying and stubborn, and he had no idea how Uki had seen anything good in her. The aging leader of their group was starting to lose his sanity, in Fratz's opinion.

Tipo was a brave one, though, and he did respect that. She led missions to spy on the flightless and make sure there was nothing going on. She would go hunting on her own and make sure everyone was fed before she ate. She was strong-willed, and had a well-built reputation - it was only a matter of time before she carried his kits, as most of the group said.

She kept her duties until she did carry his kits - and the rule was that none could interfere on a prince's chosen one unless they were in serious pain or injury. Which means no help for her, he remembered, his heart skipping.

She kept going. Fratz kept trying to convince her that she wasn't respecting her kits - leaving herself to go hungry some nights, the extreme missions that she kept doing despite the growth of her belly.

She didn't listen much, and he became more and more aware that she wasn't going to stop unless he made her.

"Tipo! Stop!" He watched her call a patrol together. "Tipo, please, don't do this." He knew everyone had watched her stomach grow - it now hung under her, swaying as he watched her shake. "Please. You're going to end up killing them."

She shook her head. "I won't. If they start to come, I'll come home. I'll be okay."

She did return safe, but not without a few serious scratches.

This time the healers were allowed to see her. She wasn't too keen on them prodding her stomach - she left them with a few scratches. Fratz was worried about her, watching her keep doing risky things. Please, Tipo.

His worry only grew when she went hungry again. This was her seventh time since she had known about her kits - and she was really letting herself go. He could see her ribs poke out despite the now heavy hang of her belly. "Tipo, can we talk?"

She wasn't keen about discussing, but he knew he had to. "Tipo, you need to stop letting yourself go." She stared at him in disbelief afterward.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I don't want you to die, and I don't want our kits to die." She was still in disbelief - he could see it in her eyes. "And..."

He didn't want to admit it. He'd seen it in her eyes, the way they sunk. The joy she felt when she had noticed it. He couldn't deny it - he was feeling it a bit as well.

"Tipo." Her eyes relaxed, despite their disbelieving look. "Tipo, I-I-"

"I don't care if you do." She said it before he could even get the words out. "I don't like thinking about it, but... I love you too."

They both went silent afterward, in a bit of shock. Fratz thought that she'd let herself go because she didn't want to bear her kits safely. But she did it because she didn't want to look like she was letting her guard down.

The two still sat silently, until the sun burned his eyes, and she was complaining of pains in her stomach. Rushing was no option - and he knew it, as she walked slowly, complaining every few minutes that she wasn't going to make it alright.

"Fratz, it's getting worse," she said, moaning now. "Fratz, I can't make it back."

He knew it was too late, at that very moment.

"Look, look, look! She's got your fur and a white spot!"

"He's got my silver fur, look!"

Both were stillborn, as he feared. She wailed for what seemed like forever.

"Look, she's got blue-gray fur! It's like my silver fur with a touch of blue eyes!" He didn't have blue eyes, he knew.

Something was wrong, and she didn't respond.

I will name her...


one


"And now the whole thing's finished and I can't stop wishing that I never gave you anything."
- Halsey, "100 Letters"

Angelus would do almost anything if he could get away from his place.

He was a flier, according to everything he knew. White paws stuck out from his deep, chocolate brown fur. He was a child of the leader, and worked as his second-in-command, as his father's mate had died giving birth to him. Fratz told him that he had his mother's ambition.

Angelus didn't like that.

Some spoke of how Fratz had modified the rules of his group after his special one died. Said that he was a maniac, changing it, promoting a foreign concept - love.

Angelus didn't like that either.

But I have to do it. He - he needs me to do it. "Ash, Nami, Pax. Let's go."

His three closest friends. Often spoken of as some of the best spies out there.

Ash was a light gray, her eyes a deep amber, her white tabby markings making her rather vivid in the bushes. She had a torn ear and marking on her fur, the latter being a constant reminder of what she used to be - an experiment. She wasn't too keen to speak on it, Angelus knew, but he was curious to hear the rest of her story, as her marking was in the shape of a snake, and gave her fur a much darker tone.

Nami was gray-brown, her eyes green, her white spots being in her tail tip and front paws. A purebred flier, she had the perfect qualities of a spy. Swift. Quiet. Stealthy. Angelus almost hated her, because she was so pure. She was hardened out, had no room for any mutual feelings - which of course was another addition to being purebred, as she could not feel the feeling of love. Most of the others in their group were like her - she couldn't be bothered with love, as it was foreign and unwelcome.

Angelus wasn't too happy with her.

Moving on.

Pax was the last one. Similar to Nami in terms of his markings, the copper-colored tom was shy and quiet - and jumpy. He wasn't the best, but he had started to lose some of his jumpiness. Angelus remembered a time when he had almost gotten him and Ash killed when he jumped at the sound of a she-cat talking. Poor Pax had gotten absolutely terrified, but Angelus did know that he wasn't perfect. Which is good.

Angelus almost forgot about the experience. Almost.

Of course, he couldn't think about it now.

"Pax, you stay with me. Ash, Nami, you guys go over there." He flicked his tail to point to a bush. These were traditional - their enemies were hardly ever aware of them watching their every move. Angelus knew almost everyone's names. He just didn't know a few - like the blue-gray she-cat down there, and that calico near her. Who're they?

Pax poked his head in the bush. "What are we looking for?"

"Any sign that they plan to do trouble," Angelus sighed. "If we overhear anything violent, we need to tell Fratz immediately."

Moonstone. The leader's name rang in his mind as he watched the black-flecked, gray-furred she-cat step out. "Who's this, Luna?"

Luna. That's the blue-gray one. He was so focused on his thoughts that he didn't hear the calico's name.

Moonstone was indecisive, from what he knew. "Okay." She seemed as though she had made up her mind. "She can stay."

Luna. She looked overjoyed, thanking Moonstone. "I'll make sure she settles in okay, and I'll make sure she and I go out sometime to explore the territory."

"Don't get too attached, Luna." Moonstone was a tough leader - like Fratz was. "She's only here temporarily. She'll be gone within six months."

Six months. That's how long she could be a threat.

"I won't. I promise." Has she done this before?

"Don't break it, Luna." She nodded, said something to the calico, and started to show the latter around camp.

Angelus had made up his mind. "Pax, c'mon." He could spot Ash and Nami nearby. "We have to talk about this with Fratz."

Something definitely wasn't working right in him.


two


"Would've gave it all for you, cared for you, so tell me where I went wrong."
- Halsey, "Eyes Closed"

Luna wasn't going to deny the fact that she saw brown fur while she was talking with Moonstone. If she was honest, she was surprised the leader hadn't seen it as well - or, at least, sent someone outside.

She would've gone by herself if she wasn't showing her stranger around.

"So, while you're here, you're going to see some weird stuff." She would tell Moonstone about the fliers later.

"What kind of weird stuff?" This stranger knew what to ask.

"Other cats with markings different than ours. You're lucky to be accepted here, given all the white on your fur." She was nervous - the white made her stranger pop out like a snowy white hare in the forest. "Some have been known to be blessed by angels. That's mostly the others."

"Angels?"

"Spirits. Reminiscent of the old residents. Stranger names than ours; they have like 'Emberflight' and 'Splashheart' and stuff." She wasn't an expert, of course, but given as she was one who knew - healer tales, she remembered - about them, she might as well tell the stories.

Before she could even let the name flash in her head, she asked her stranger, "Can I just call you Stranger? It sounds more interesting than..." Her voice tapered off, not daring to speak. "...y-y'know, your name."

The calico's tail smacked her on the shoulder. "Sure. Stranger's sort of an interesting name anyway. More interesting than my... other one."

She was playing along. That's... good. "Great. Let's keep moving."

"So, the old residents were in all these weird groups. They had a weird code and stuff, but it's different now. We all pass freely, even though we're all protective of our territory. Every cat has the right to defend themselves, not necessarily for their group. We have little mentorship, and we're expected to learn everything on our own. Those are the general rules here." She knew the last one was enforced strictly - she'd seen Moonstone snarl at someone for teaching a younger member about battle moves.

Stranger wasn't all impressed, Luna could tell. "That's it? There are no other rules?"

"Well..." The latter took a breath, her mind in a riot. "...not exactly. There are others that we enforce. Love is foreign. Mates can't get too attached and are based upon how they cooperate together. Little can be done for me if I somehow get injured, given as Moonstone trusts me as her successor." Even though I have no idea why. I'm just a fool - everyone says otherwise, but I don't show it all. She was calm and collected on the outside - her eyes kept her emotions hidden. Inside, however, she always felt alone, lackluster, and overwhelmed. She was expected to do so much... and all of her would get out eventually.

"What about if you get seriously hurt?"

"That's when the healers can step in. Also if I somehow happen to carry kits, which I doubt I will for a long time, but even that gets rare." She'd heard the stories of Fratz, the opposing leader. Rumor had it that he secretly loved his mate. Sometimes mentioned how she totally let herself go.

Luna suspected something else, but - she wouldn't dare let the words enter. "If you're looking for a recent example of how limited the treatment is for pregnant queens - you can listen to the stories about Fratz's mate. She completely let herself go once she carried kits - even though she held her leader's successor." That was also a general rule - most of the time, the firstborn kit would take the place of their parent. She assumed it would go unspoken with Stranger, given her implication.

"Is she alive?"

"No." Blunt and simple - Tipo had died during her kitting, as Luna knew. Nothing as major as that could sit between the fliers for that long. It skipped over to some of her friends, which then skipped to her, and finally to Moonstone. "Died during her kitting. I didn't see her body - for one, I was too young, but my siblings did." She had two, from what she knew. Serene and Stellarus. Funny how I didn't get an S name.

She'd tell Stranger about them later.

Later. "Siblings?"

"I-I have two." Nervously, the former struggled to calm her nerves. All of these questions, all so perfectly timed. If she was honest, she sort of hated it. "We'll find them later. They're probably off somewhere." As they always are.

"O-Okay, Luna." Stranger lashed her tail. "I... haven't really been near here."

At the mention of the location, the blue-gray she-cat's tail spiked for a moment. "Most in the area haven't. I sometimes think they're just too scared of us - the fliers and the flightless, I mean. So we're like the badlands of the area, I guess."

"Why do you think others avoid the area?"

She flattened her ears at the unexpected question. "Because we're pretty strict about everything? Like, everyone's been hardened out so they don't feel love, and the fact that we have specific rules and stuff." I have to stop using "and stuff" as a transition.

Stranger seemed to be enjoying this. "Understandable, I guess. I don't often speak about how love affects me - but nothing, I mean nothing, will ever affect what I've felt for some in the past, as those are with me and they are in the past." Luna almost wanted to ask her about her attraction - she hated admitting it, but she was very curious about it.

"Any preferences? She-cats to toms? Toms to she-cats?"

The calico snorted. "And I thought you weren't supposed to ask about love." Pausing, she seemed to recollect herself. "To be entirely honest... I'm pretty open about this, so it isn't as hard as you might think... I have always really enjoyed she-cats more than toms, even though I could love both."

"That's... cool, I guess." Luna wasn't entirely sure about this now. How could... could someone in our... She stopped herself aggressively. Stop thinking about it or you're going to get yourself killed! She almost wondered about it more, but she shoved the thoughts behind her. I can't let that happen! I can't, I can't, I can't. I'm definitely going to be screwed if anyone hears of this.. "Be careful mentioning your attraction around here. The others aren't..." She trailed off, unable to find the right expression. "Th-They aren't like me. Their minds aren't storms and cyclones like mine."

Stranger almost seemed curious at that expression. "A storm, one that spawns cyclones? What a description of a mind as curious as yours appears to be. It's too bad, actually - if your mind is a supercell, as you say, you're interesting to others." The calico's tail almost wrapped around her paws. "Don't look so baffled. Sugarcane-flavored thoughts make for a rather interesting cat, personality-wise at least."

"S-Sure, I guess." Luna wasn't sure how to feel after Stranger's statement, nervously flicking her tail. "S-Sorry, Stranger, I get really nervous when discussing this." She knew she had to show Stranger around, and she wanted to move on - avoid the topic from then on. "Let's keep going. I'd like to show you the rest of the territory."

"Okay." Stranger was very cooperative, Luna noticed. She never seemed bothered by anything anyone said, completely calm and cool with everything. Unlike me, of course. Because I'm not normal. I'm never normal. She shoved the thoughts behind her, knowing she shouldn't be thinking about it.

"So, over here is the fliers' territory." She flicked her tail as she came to a small cropping of trees overlooking a small valley, a smaller stream in the center. "Cross the stream and you're on their territory. There's a lot of ways around this, of course, but this is the main border." She wanted to seem gruff, but after her previous statements, she was nervous, anxious, concerned, and less interested in keeping her uptight attitude. "The rest are marked by our scent."

"Cool, I guess." Stranger shrugged, placing her paws forward. "So if I was to do this..." She slipped over the border easily, her calico body sliding easily along the trees. "I'd be almost across the border, wouldn't I?"

"Y-Yes, you would, and I'd have to chase you away. Because you'd be on their side," she said before she could ask any other questions. "And I'm supposed to be Moonstone's replacement. So I can't fight for myself unless I want to get sent away."

"Oh." Stranger sighed and approached her. "I wouldn't want that to happen. It seems important." Luna hesitated, still nervous about her. "And I don't want to interfere with your role. If I'm being an issue, please tell me." Her green eyes were innocent, almost sad. "I don't want to be a burden, given as I'm only going to be here for so long. That includes the foreign idea of love."

At this, Luna's fur flared. "I-I'm not in love with you."

"I wasn't saying that," the former murmured softly. "I just wanted to say that if I'm being a burden in that way, you can tell me. I can leave."

She almost didn't want that, reflecting on the brief times she'd shared with Stranger. "Not now. And I don't want to have to say that word again."

At this, they both fell silent.

Luna wasn't acting normally either.


three


"You'll wish that you never did."
- Halsey, "Alone"

Angelus was looking forward to telling Fratz about his new finding. I saw someone today. She could be a threat, we could need to go over there - destroy them, like they should've ages ago. He loved the words. He couldn't wait to speak them.

"So, Angelus." The unfamiliar voice of Ash spooked him. "Since you're Fratz's replacement, I was going out of my way to listen to conversation about your significant other. Since, y'know, you don't have one." She seemed almost nervous, a break from her sarcastic outside. "And I may have, um, overheard who's going to be your significant other."

"Who is it?" He almost knew based on her implication, but he could never be sure, of course.

"Angelus. Stop acting like an idiot." She growled the words, going gruff for a moment. "Screw it. It's me." She relaxed. "I'm sorry. I'm sure you don't prefer this-"

"Don't worry about it. Fratz decides for himself what he thinks is right for me." Angelus wasn't happy about this, but he decided against taking action. I have others I considered. But Ash is fine. I don't really care that she's in this role. He meant that. Except that little she-cat in there was in my consideration. And she's flightless. I can't believe I could fall for a flightless - or anyone, on that note. He wasn't supposed to love, he remembered.

He couldn't and wouldn't, he swore it. "I've got other things to worry about. I don't really care that you're my significant other. It's only to farm kittens out of you."

She snarled at that. "I'm not going to be mothering your kits. Find someone else to do that." She rolled her eyes, but they still went soft. She knows she has to.

"Angelus." She caught his attention again. "When it does happen - I mean the kits - I'll tell you. I won't be as risky as Tipo." The name of their leader's own made both of them shiver. "And I don't even care. I'm only doing it because I have to. I have no choice."

He almost laughed. "Not now. Don't think about those now. I've got more to worry about than a stupid ceremony."

"But they'll make you look like some sort of badger." They both laughed at this. "Or make you look totally stupid. Maybe decorate your ears with herbs. Get a thorn and poke a feather through your ear. Find some way to get something like this marking on your fur. They'll find some way to make you look unique." Fratz had a charm around his neck. It was sort of like a collar - except it wasn't. Some rogue had found it and given it to him.

Maybe that's what the loner's here for. In the flightless. The she-cat probably already has a significant other. She's getting her marking within six months.

He almost doubted it. She wasn't normal, the calico. What if she's here for something else?

He didn't know what to feel. He didn't know what her business was - and if he'd see her and the other she-cat again. Whatever. I have to tell Fratz about her anyway.

As the small patrol arrived back, he trotted towards his leader's den. "Fratz!"

"Angelus?" He spotted the tom inside, watching his eyes glance up. "Anything new?"

"Spotted something you may be interested in." He almost didn't want to speak of the blue-gray she-cat. "Flightless have a visitor. Loner, she-cat, calico. Could be a threat until the late spring."

The leader's eyes were troubled. "Keep track of her. If she comes with a flightless, don't hesitate - go after the flightless first, but also go after her." Angelus didn't question the leader about his troubled eyes. He knew it had been several years since Tipo's death, but...

He's growing old. And he's still troubled by her. That's what he thought. Does that mean I'll have to enter early? Oh no...

"You may go, Angelus."

He almost didn't hear the words, but stood and padded away anyway. What about Ash? What about the stranger? What if he dies in a few days?

He was almost too worried, nearly walking into Ash. "S-Sorry, Angelus." She seemed nervous, more than usual. "I-I was just going to hunt." He wasn't really too interested in doing that.

"I'm not interested at the moment." He growled the words, unintentionally of course. "I just- I need to be alone for a bit, Ash. I'll find you later, okay?" He tried his best to not seem harsh.

She nodded, heading out. "See you then."

After he'd watched her tail disappear, he started to gaze around his own small area, a clearing crowded with bushes and large oaks. Fratz's den was at the back. The normal cats' den - those who had no roles other than being productive - was on the left. The younger ones, on the right. The nursery - next to the rest of the cats, protected by the residents. Healer's den - in between young ones' and Fratz's. His own - at the front. Close to a significant wall of bushes.

Slipping into his den, he refused to sit - someone would call out to him. Instead, he calmly dug underneath, poking his way out, sliding under it as best he could.

I'm alone. I'm okay.


four


"Gotta be right now, right now."
- Halsey, "Now or Never"

Luna was on her own. Stranger had settled in alone, by herself. The blue-gray she-cat hoped the calico would be okay - so much white. That could get her in trouble.

She walked alone, analyzing the area she'd walked by with Stranger. What if I see someone?

She almost didn't want to ask that, since Stranger had prompted her with questions to think about.

"Do tell, Luna," she'd said. "What are the fliers like? What do you think of the loners, like me? Toms, she-cats, or both?"

The last one was a troublesome question, constantly bothering Luna. That's basically telling me who I would prefer to love. And I'm not supposed to love - nobody is.

Of course, she wasn't paying attention and stepped over territory she wasn't used to.

Lost in her thoughts, unfocused upon where she was going, she suddenly found herself in an outcropping of trees, unfamiliar. No cats but still some noise.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no.

This was what she hated - being alone. Someone had once mentioned something called "monophobia" - was this what it was? No, no, no.

Out of will, she felt her breathing increase and her heart pound against her chest for a moment. Oh gosh no, please, no! Sweats ran down her body in sheets, and her vision was becoming blurry.

Something furry was placed on her back. "Holy-" The voice was deep. "Are you okay? It's okay, I'm here..."

Who even-

She suddenly felt her uncontrolled panic die down. Someone's here. A tom.

"Who even are you?" Her vision was starting to calm.

He had chocolate brown fur, and green, green eyes, like the spring sunshine on the earliest blossoming leaves. His paws were white, and he wore the most concerned look on his face. "My name?" She nodded. "Angelus."

Her instincts told her to pull away. He's a flier... he knows I'm flightless... The only problem was that she didn't want him to.

"Angelus, huh?" She still couldn't pull herself to go away. "Nice name. Fits you, as a flier."

"Flier?" He paused, and his green, green eyes poked away for a moment. "You must've scented it. And besides..." He paused, inhaling. "You smell foreign."

"Why did you come to me?!?" She knew something was wrong. "Why did you help me there? Is- Is that not treason?!"

He removed his tail from her flank. "Because you were in trouble. I saw you panic. I watched you freak out. I just - I can't see that happen." He trailed off, his eyes staring at the ground. "I have a lot on my mind."

"I-I do, too." She was now nervous, still in shock. "Angelus - are you anything special?"

"Like?"

"I don't know, Fratz's successor?"

"Well." He now pulled away on his own. "I'm set to be the next leader. I have an assigned significant other."

She rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I've got that role too, but I haven't done anything. No significant other. No kits coming out of me." She put on a sarcastic tone.

He glanced over his shoulder at her. "Well. Guess you have your life all set up."

He pushed away from her after a moment of silence. "Got to go. Can I know your name, friend?"

"Luna."

"See you then, Luna."


five


"I run away when things are good, and never really understood the way you laid your eyes on me, in ways that no one ever could."
- Halsey, "Sorry"

What even was that? You'd seen her before. Why did you go up to her? Angelus immediately slammed himself for the whole situation.

But she was freaking out. He hoped he was going towards home. And... she was panicking. And she was flightless. A member of the flightless, not to mention their next-in-line! Why, Angelus, why?!

He wasn't sure where he was going, but it definitely wasn't towards home. Or Luna. Or Ash. Maybe.

Well, whatever, he didn't care. Ash needed him. Fratz - Fratz needed him. Whatever he thought about Luna was irrelevant.

Suddenly he spotted a flash of calico. On complete instinct, he curved into a crouch. "Who's there? Show yourself!"

Another, dashing out of the bush. He watched the brown hare leap beyond the stranger's grip. "Hey!" She turned.

"Stranger. Name, allegiance, what you're doing here." He was spitting his normal routine. It was what he was expected of, 'course.

"Arcturus." She said it evenly, calmly. "Loner. Exploring, ignoring my family. I'm pretty sure the family I have isn't my family."

What? He almost sat, baffled.

"You're the stranger that was with Luna."

She leaped backward, and he saw fear, anger, madness in her eyes. "How do you know about this? Nobody was supposed to know. If this gets out - holy crap, what will happen to me?!" She was panicking now, and Angelus felt a tugging of dread and guilt in his throat.

I'm not supposed to feel bad for others.

Definitely not... right?"

He didn't really want to know the answer. "Small patrol. Spying, as we do."

She stared at him blankly, confusion in her gaze. "Spying? Isn't that waiting to spark controversy?"

"Well..." He'd never really thought about that before. "I-I don't know. We already hate each other anyway - the fliers, like me, and the flightless like - like Luna."

"Why and how do you know about Luna?"

She was back on the defensive, he knew. "I-I-"

Her eyes went dark yet again. "Don't tell me you hurt her."

Why would I ever..? She's being really overprotective. "No." He paused, smacked his tail against the ground, and took a breath. "Is something wrong?"

"No, I-" She paused, suddenly. "I just don't know how to tell anyone anything. There's a reason why I suddenly appeared, Angelus."

She - She knows my name?! "How-"

"Stories." Her eyes went dark yet again. "Everything's started to fall apart with my small group, which is really just me, my mother, my father, and my siblings. With the very occasional Ernest, of course..." She went silent.

"Well... you don't have to tell me." She met his gaze. "If you don't want to. In fact, you're welcome to not even mention this again. I'll probably forget it."

An awkward silence floated between them.


six


"Don't trust the moon, she's always changing..."
- Halsey, "Good Mourning"

Luna wasn't sure what had happened to Stranger, but that was the first thing she noticed: Stranger was gone.

Her siblings were here to bug her more, though. Serene again mocked her for being late - some other queen died and she came in. She missed viewing Tipo's body being taken out. Serene's name didn't exactly fit her.

Stellarus - oh gosh, she was even more annoying. "Don't know why Moonstone picked you, Luna," she mocked. "You're not even strong. You don't deserve it. Look how weak you are."

Weak. Luna knew there were better words to be scared of, but hearing that would always get on her nerves. "Hey, Luna, might want to grow a little larger! You're gonna need it when you're killed!" More of the mocking. Great.

"Leave me alone, Stellarus." She sauntered towards Moonstone's den with an aggressive glare in her eyes. "I swear I will attack you if you do it again."

Her sister, the jerk she was, took it as an opportunity - and mocked her again. "Luna, where's your little tomcat? You're supposed to be carrying those kits soon."

You little- With a flash of gray and pale silver tabby, alongside ginger tabby, the siblings wrestled amongst themselves. Luna herself was fairly serious about it - she had her claws unsheathed, and she slashed every time she could. She knew she was hurt - no doubt - but she was doing this for herself. Her act of defiance. Her display of strength.

This meant everything. This could maybe mean nothing in the future.

She was set.

After several moments, Stellarus finally broke away, scratched up. "You idiot, clawing me up like that! Moonstone's gonna punish you, I know it!"

The only problem is that she doesn't care. With satisfaction, Luna lowered herself down to clean herself up.

"Luna."

She paused halfway through her first lick to meet the eyes of her leader. "Spotted what you did."

"How-"

"Great. You're welcome to do it again." She turned, headed back in, and left her emotionless gaze in Luna's mind. Death in her gaze. She doesn't care.

She took that as a compliment and continued licking her scratches.

~

Let's head out today... shall we? It was her own, but she heard it as Stranger's voice. Odd... but I won't question it.

Stranger still wasn't back, she'd noticed. Something was obviously wrong, she thought.

She headed out by herself, off to catch her morning meal. She'd had the right idea of her meal - a hare, maybe one of those nice ones.

She wondered very briefly about Stranger. What had happened since she left? Was she okay? Did the fliers - did they get her?

They couldn't have.

She approached a bush, trying to see if she could find a hare... at least a scent.

There we go... A scent of hare caught her attention. It must be a bloody kill... I can smell the blood...

What the- The blood was overwhelming now. Did someone get hurt? Oh no...

She lost the scent of hare as she spotted blood, a pool of it. It's-

"Pax!"

"Pax! Pax, where are you? Pax!"

No, no, no... Angelus...

"Pax! Pax! Pax!" The tom burst out of the bushes. "Pax!" It took him a moment to realize Luna was there, she noticed. "Luna, what happened here?!"

She let her fur flare and she backed away, rather slowly at first. "I-"

"Why did he die? How did he die? Were you involved?"

She flattened her ears, staring at the ground, nervously starting to shiver. It was getting to be too much, too much for her to handle. "I-I-I wasn't i-i-involved."

He seemed to almost falter at her statement. "Someone killed Pax. Pax didn't deserve to be killed." She wasn't sure about what he meant, exactly - but that was irrelevant. "I - I'm sorry, Luna. There's a devil in me that wants to go after his killer. I don't want to wake it up and go after you."

He - what? It didn't make sense to her. Why was she being spared? I deserve it all anyway, since Stranger went missing, since Angelus -

Don't think about that.

"Angelus." He turned at her statement. "I - I want to find Pax's killer as much as you do. No cat deserves to die."

What if it was Stranger? Stranger couldn't have done this.

She wouldn't. She isn't violent at all.

She sighed. "Would Stranger do it?"

"Stranger?" He turned. "Who's Stranger?"

"The loner? Calico?" She felt shivering down her spine; he'd obviously seen Stranger.

"Oh! Her. Arcturus. Yeah." He took a whiff of the area, and Luna swore she would eventually smack him in the face. "Maybe. If she was in a bad mood. She could."

Oh... oh no. "M-Maybe. I-I doubt it."

She watched him take another sniff. Suddenly -

Oh no. Oh no no no. "I can smell her!" He turned to her, smirking. "Hah! I knew she was always trouble. I knew she'd cause something!"

No no no no no he can't kill her. He can't. She's too important.

"Angelus." His eyes were confused. "Maybe we should wait."

"No, Luna. There is no time to wait when there's a murderer on the loose." He frowned. "I will gather a patrol. We will find her."

"Angelus! Don't do this!" He was starting to walk off. "Angelus! Please! For me." He stared at her, confused. "I know those looks you give me."

His eyes seemed to soften... relax, almost. "Great. You're not wrong." His tail flicked and his eyes avoided her gaze. "And yeah... you are kind of special."

"No, I'm not." Distraction - the best way to get his mind off of Stranger. "I'm nothing special. Despite what everyone likes to say. I'm never going to be someone's special she-cat."

He almost seemed to move closer. "Maybe. Or you could start by just letting yourself be mine." Oh no. This - this won't be ending well... "And... you're right. She can wait."

Silence.


seven


"I get the message, you wish I was dead."
- Halsey, "Lie"

Angelus wasn't going to believe that Arcturus had killed Pax. He knew he'd seemed so into that - going after her, the thing with Luna - but that was just his adrenaline.

It'd all burned out of him.

Luna went back after we talked about it. She doesn't think Arcturus did it. It's so obvious - Arcturus' scent was there. Why wouldn't she believe me?

It was too out of character for him to have done that - get so invested in that thing. Even though Pax didn't deserve to die. And someone did it.

He knew who that someone was. But why did I let myself get distracted? Luna's nothing. She said she wasn't special. And she said to stop for her... why did I let myself do that?

He slipped back through his group's camp - he had to tell someone about Pax. Oh buddy... I hope that, wherever you are, you're enjoying it. Maybe you're catching a nice hare or two. I hope it isn't cold there.

He heard the sounds of cats around him. Ash. Nami. Fratz, looking somewhat frail. I can't tell anyone about Luna. "I know I stayed out the longest. I know Ash and Nami came back long before I did. But I found him - Pax. He was dead when I found him." He let the gasps ring into his ears, letting the dramatic effect overtake him for a moment. "But I also found a scent."

"Who was it, Angelus?"

"The loner. The calico... known as Arcturus, she said she'd be staying here for a short time. Who would've thought that that short time would mean killing our members?" I'm sorry, Arcturus. "And not one of the flightless have been killed. Mysterious?"

"Of course it is!" The howl of anger from Ash almost caught him off-guard. "The flightless are being favored here!"

"Of course, we do know who brought Arcturus here." He lashed his tail, his heart pulling on him to say that it wasn't her, it wasn't her, it wasn't her, but all the while his mind screaming revenge, revenge, revenge. "Luna. Their next-in-line."

"We should kill her then!" A yell from the small crowd. "She - She brought Arcturus here, that's what you said when you spied on them!"

The crowd erupted into chaos, talking about all the things they needed to do. And yet...

Moaning. Wait.

His ears flicked backward. Is Fratz...? He glanced over his shoulder. Fratz didn't really look like he was feeling great - his ears somewhat drooped, and Angelus suddenly noticed how he'd gotten somewhat thin. "Healers! Please look at Fratz!"

The crowd was still talking - they weren't paying attention... but on the side, Angelus could see the healers moving quickly as the cats still chattered. "Kill her! Kill her!"

He let the crowd chant until he was absolutely positive the healers were with Fratz. "We will plan an invasion. Our goal: kill Luna. And Moonstone, while we're at it."

Cheers.


eight


"Fistfight in a limousine, but they don't know."
- Halsey, "Walls Could Talk"

Luna wasn't exactly sure how to really feel about Stranger killing someone.

She was positive that she didn't mean to kill Pax - Stranger wasn't really the kind of cat to do that, at least to her.

Stellarus and Selene are going to wonder where I was. And if I know anything.

And I can't tell them about Angelus. He's - just a pawn. An excuse. A distraction. She couldn't let Stranger know about their encounter either. But he knows who killed Pax. And so do I, because the scent was there.

She slipped back in - and of course, almost immediately, Stellarus and Selene. "What did you do? Where'd you go?" And yet... was that...? "Someone said that a flier was killed! One of their top ones! Is that true?! Do you know who might have done it?!" White fur. Oh no.

"Leave me alone, you idiots!" She didn't like to snarl - after seeing Angelus snarl with satisfaction, she never wanted anyone to feel all of the fear she'd felt in that moment. "I have to speak with Stranger and Moonstone, and everything I know is confidential." She let the calico fur catch her eye again.

Her sisters weren't going to back off. "'Confidential'? Nothing is confidential in our family, and you've got quite some nerve to not tell us, Luna." I've - I've got to get rid of them, somehow...

"I didn't think I had to do this again." The words were barely out before she crouched, digging her claws into the ground, feeling the stretch in her haunches, her body pushing her forward, claws out, prepared to bite into an ear. Did Stranger feeling like this when killing Pax?

"Moonstone's gonna punish you if you injure her seriously!"

"Honestly? Why should I care?" Her teeth bit into an ear. "Moonfstonf's nof fonna fare!" She let go of Stellarus - a bloody pair of ears, a nasty scratch on the flank, some bleeding on the neck. Her own - a scratched ear, a few scratches on her stomach. "So why should I care?"

Stellarus was already off to the healers. "When she sees what you did to Stellarus, she will."

"Leave me alone, Serene. I've got better things to do than talk to you."

She approached Stranger rather slowly. "Let's get out of here for now. They're far too annoying for me to deal with."

"You need some herb work done on your ear anyway. I can help with that." The gentle voice calmed her, relaxed her. "And you can put them behind you for a bit - we need to talk anyway." The calico started walking, and Luna followed her out of camp and into the woods.

"So. The herbal work." Stranger paused, her ears flicking in different directions. "...stay here. I know you don't like to be alone, but I know someone who can help you. I'll be back before you know it."

"O-Oh, o-okay." She watched Stranger trot into the woods. Breathe. Think.

Mention Pax.

She waited almost patiently... almost. She felt an energy... a weird feeling, anxiety in her throat, her stomach, cold, empty space... Oh no. Oh no. This - this happened when Angelus came... The tom in her mind almost made her feel better. Angelus. He's a cool one. Next in line to his throne. And maybe he's got an assigned mate. Maybe having his issues keeps him more preoccupied than I do.

After all those thoughts, she heard rustling. The only cat it could be was Stranger, nobody else. The calico's head poked out after a moment, her jaw closed around some wrapped leaves. Slipping out, she set the leaves down a few tail-lengths away. "Let's get you patched up. I know how to do it, actually. The cat I was going to contact just gave me these and said to try it on my own."

"First, I know you're nervous. I can see it in how you move, how you speak, how you act. It's always there, like some sort of anxiety." Stranger's fluffy orange-and-black tail moved one to her face. "Chamomile, for anxiety. It'll help you relax." Nervously, Luna took a sniff of it - smelled normal, that was good. "You ever heard of humans? Did you hear what they did to Ash, in the fliers?"

"No and no." As quietly as she could, Luna swallowed the chamomile.

"Well..." Stranger was mixing a poultice together. "There's this snake marking on her. Like someone drew it on her and it never went away." With the poultice mixed, she prodded her paw into it. "This might sting."

"That's okay."

"Cool. So anyway, Ash was telling me about how she'd been the daughter of a cat with the humans. She remembered being born and raised in a cold, dark, dank corner, and her mother getting taken constantly. She remembered when her mother went out once and within a few weeks, she was already pregnant with another litter." The poultice sank into her scratches easily, and stung quite a bit. "That's when Ash was old enough to be nearly an adult. She got noticed for her white fur... and then taken and abused by them. She came out of there with the same marking she has now."

"What happened to her mother?" Luna thought the chamomile might've been settling in; she felt a fair bit more relaxed. "Did she ever see her siblings?"

"Nope. Left before they were born - and hours before, as she later heard." Stranger seemed to be finished. "Her mother died during kitting, though, as did those three kits."

"And she told you all this?"

"Yeah. I found her a few days ago, and she didn't attack me. She looked almost upset." Stranger paused at her ear, dabbing her paw back into the poultice. "I don't know if your ears will look the same, Luna."

Wait, what? "What do you mean, Stranger?"

"What I mean is... Stellarus really scratched you up pretty badly. I don't think the skin'll heal up properly." She blinked at Luna slowly. "But don't worry about it. It looks cool."

Luna didn't want to stare, but she felt her eyes stare in Stranger's, and her ears, whatever was left of them, warmed aggressively. "So. About the fliers..."

"What about them?" Stranger blinked slowly. "Nothing about Ash? Or Angelus?"

"Did you - did you kill Pax?" The words blurted out of her mouth faster than she could stop it. "I'm so sorry if this was all personal, this has just been on my mind for a few days, ever since Angelus found Pax's body."

Stranger's ears flattened nervously, and Luna spotted the flare of fur on her tail. "I - I - uh... uhm..." Her green eyes stared at the ground. "Uh. Maybe? Define kill."

"You mean - you did kill him?!" This - Angelus couldn't have been right! Stranger wouldn't do that! "Why would you do that, Stranger? I don't see you doing it!" The calico's eyes were nervous, harmed, scared. "Pax - I don't know who he was. But Angelus cared about him."

"What in the name of dungbait does that mean?" The scream nearly spooked her. "Do you seriously care about Angelus more than me? I thought we had something. I thought we had energy. I thought there was energy in our friendship. I know I shouldn't have asked you about love a - a few weeks ago, but..."

"Stranger." She wanted to just talk about this... "I know you wouldn't kill Pax on purpose. But there's some serious shifting going on." She moved closer to her, slowly, carefully. "And I understand you felt energy. I did too. And I still feel it." She suddenly noticed that she was slightly smaller than Stranger, and placed her head on her shoulder. "And I don't know what's going to happen or anything, but there's some serious things going on. Angelus - we're friends, sort of. Maybe we're not, I don't know. He and I don't talk much."

Stranger stayed silent. "...Sorry, Luna. About Pax. About me coming."

"Don't be sorry. Just stay here a bit longer, okay?"

"Okay."


nine


"But you can't blame me for trying, you know I'd be lyin', saying 'You're the one.'"
- Halsey, "Bad at Love"

Cheering - that was it, all he could hear, all he could feel in his bones.

"So. We need to kill Luna, Moonstone, and of course, Arcturus." He flicked his ears back. "We need to prepare first, so we can be rid of them, and we can make peace."

"Peace only comes with being rid of them. Nothing else has worked." The sound of Ash's voice caught his attention. "And we need to have peace to make the murders stop, to make everyone relax. Fratz's significant other died because of the lack of peace." He watched her tail flick to her stomach - almost nervous, she seemed. "I don't want to follow in her footsteps by dying from the lack of peace here."

What? Ash - no. Pull yourself together, Angelus. "And I wouldn't want my own children to die. It's just senseless." He took a breath. "I'll give us two weeks. To rush it, we'll break tradition - train the younger cats. Sharpen their skills. In a few days, Ash, Nami and I will spy on their camp so we can plan our attack."

Cheers. "Disband, and start preparing yourselves. This is huge." He watched them disband as Ash approached him.

"Angelus." He watched her approach slowly, settle herself down. "I wasn't lying about my kits." Her eyes glanced away, her ears flattening. "But... they're not yours."

He held in his surprise. "I expected that, Ash. You and I don't even talk much." He noticed rather suddenly how she'd settled herself, what with the hang in her stomach. "Whose are they, though?"

She was silent, her voice shivering as she responded. "Th-They're P-P-Pax's." Her eyes went crazed, wide-eyed, begging him not to overreact. "I swear it wasn't anything wrong. He and I just... I don't know! I just want him here... and it's so weird, since this is most definitely foreign."

She loves him. And not platonically. "Ash." She stared him in the eye. "Don't worry. I know it's not received well. Just pretend those are mine, and you'll be okay." He blinked. "When are you due?"

"Same date as the battle." She blinked back. "I don't want to be carrying these suckers into battle, but I don't want to leave my siblings alone to fight a battle that they might not be able to do without me."

Siblings. She'd do anything for us. "Don't worry about them, then. They'll do fine without you." She gasped and opened her mouth. "And don't try to argue with me. I know these cats; they'll do anything possible."

"Th-Thank you, Angelus." She stood, slowly, and stared him in the eye. "I'll go rest. I'm sorry for letting this happen."

"It's okay, Ash." His ears flicked back. Something wasn't right. "I know it isn't right to break tradition - after all, love can destroy everything we know." He watched her eyes widen, her fur flare. "It doesn't mean I've experienced it. But, Ash, I want you to go rest. I don't want you to be like Tipo."

"Be like her?" She scoffed. "Never. You heard the stories about her, how she risked her life just to be of use?" He liked this - this was the Ash he knew. "The best thing a queen can do is keep herself safe, 'specially when she just happens to be the one carrying her second-in-line's kits." With a small wink, she turned and set off. "Bye, Angelus."

He watched her leave before snapping back into reality. Something's wrong. Fratz -

Fratz.

Oh no.

He didn't want to run, but he didn't want to walk either, so he approached his leader's den as fast as he could walk. "Hey, is he okay? He wasn't looking well."

"Angelus!" One of the healers perked her ears as she spotted him. "Perfect. He'd like to see you - and we're not sure how he's holding up right now."

"He'd like to see me?" He stepped in carefully, quietly. "He's not wanted to see me in ages."

She shook her head. "He has something to tell you, apparently. I know it's private, so I told everyone to leave him alone when he's with you."

"Thank you, Farren." She beamed at his statement - the brown-and-white she-cat looked similar to him, but Angelus knew they weren't siblings. She was younger than him anyway. "I'll call you if something happens."

"I hope it's not too serious. Good luck, Angelus."

With a small nod to her, he stepped in. "Fratz?"

"Angelus..." The silver tom's eyes were strained. "There's - something you need to know." The frail voice brought him to his senses, and he watched Fratz's thin body struggle to push itself up. "Something about you and Tipo."

"What about her?"

"She - well. I'm too exhausted to tell you the whole story. You know most of it anyway." His eyes stared - blue eyes. "But, her kits... they were mine. But what nobody else knows... is that one lived."

What? "It - he - she - they lived?"

"Yes, she lived." The slow, rasping sound wasn't settling well in his ears. "She is alive, from what I know. Similar to me. Blue eyes. Silver-gray fur. Not an ounce of white on her. You might know her... because she still resides here. Not with us."

How - who do I know who has that description? "Who am I, then?"

"Not even remotely related. Tipo was friends with someone who was pregnant when she died. Within a few weeks, you were born. And I took you in as my son. I vanished for those weeks, because I didn't want to say that Tipo wasn't with you." He inhaled a sharp breath. "But Tipo's real daughter... she's named Lu-"

Angelus watched his breath stumble out from within his throat. With one last look, his eyes hardening, he slipped under his paws and landed with a horrible thunk on the floor of the den. "Fratz?!"

"Fratz?!" He approached him carefully, his paws feeling for some sort of life. "Fratz!"

Oh no.

He's...

What do I do now?


ten


"To be touched, to be loved, to feel anything at all."
- Halsey & Lauren Jauregui, "Strangers"

Waking uncomfortably, Luna stretched slowly, feeling odd, like something wasn't right. Stranger was still sleeping soundly next to her.

They'd taken some time away to let Luna's ears heal, and to discuss what was happening. With her ears all scratched up, it was a perfect opportunity.

It'd been a few days, and Luna wasn't feeling right. "Hey, Stranger, wake up." She prodded her gently with a paw. "Stranger, c'mon."

A low hrrr sound came from Stranger. "...yes Luna?"

"Wake up. We've got to get back."

Blinking rather slowly, Stranger lifted her head. "I don't think your ears are ready to be ripped up again." She flicked her tail slowly. "And there's something I'd like to check before we go back anyway. Take a seat."

Luna sighed gently, but couldn't feel any bit of anger. She couldn't be mad at Stranger - sure, the calico she-cat may have unintentionally done something horrible, but it didn't mean she was an awful cat in general. Stranger's just the best she can manage. And if that's her best, it's fine for me.

"What were you checking?"

"Something. Just relax, you'll be fine." Stranger gently settled next to her. "How have you been feeling recently, by chance?"

Recently? "What do you mean?"

"Emotions. Anything you can think of." There was a glint in her eyes... Something in there told some emotion Stranger was feeling. "Attraction, even, if that's what you're feeling."

Nervously, Luna took a breath. "Well... I've felt something warm in my chest when I've been around you. It's sort of like how I felt around Angelus, in those moments where we were together. Except yours is warmer."

Stranger let out a snort, taking the moment afterward to calm herself. "With utmost certainty, I can say that you're attracted to both toms and she-cats like I am." Whatever was left of Luna's ears burned suddenly. "And I'd like to also note that you and I feel the same. And yes, that is love."

"I-I'm not s-supposed to-"

"I know you're not. But we can make this work, Luna." With a small sigh, Stranger placed her tail on Luna's back. "We can run away from this place. Head into the badlands. Be rid of our hopeless places. I can tell you about everything beyond."

Running away - is that even possible? "How would we do it?"

"We'd sneak out in the middle of the night. Or even just suddenly go missing. We don't have to worry about what happens here." Stranger's voice rose. "We can just... leave." After the outburst, she settled down again. "Luna, I just want to make this work. For both of us."

Well... "Thank you, Stranger. I think we should get back now." Stranger looked almost distraught for a moment - but Luna watched her take a breath and then nod. "And... although I don't know how we're going to do it, I think we can run away from here."

"So you're going to say nothing about what just happened, besides us running away? That's not something I see you doing." Stranger quickened her pace. "But that's okay. As long as we can be happy, I'll be fine."


eleven


"But I scream too loud if I speak my mind."
- Halsey, "Devil in Me"

"Farren?"

Angelus' voice nearly faltered him as he stepped out. "Is everyone out?"

"Yes, why?" She glanced over her shoulder at him. "Did something happen?"

"He told me..." Nervously, he flattened his ears and turned his eyes to the ground. "Tipo - you heard about her, correct?" She nodded. "Well... her daughter's alive. And I think I know who it is." She gasped and her ears perked up in surprise. "But that's not why I came out. I came out because Fratz... he died under my paws. I didn't kill him, I swear."

"Well. That's not good." She pushed past him. "We have to take him out before everyone comes back. And you need to tell them."

What? "Why me?"

"Because you're their second-in-command, now their leader. And leaders need to be there. Fratz was there for us. You need to as well." She smiled. "But if you don't want to tell them yet, I won't blame you. They certainly won't react well."

He shrugged. "...y-yeah, I guess."

~

I need to tell them about Fratz before the battle. I don't want to, but they need to know. He didn't really like the next thought. Maybe it'll get them excited.

He'd gone with Nami and the now heavily pregnant Ash two days before to plan an area. They'd attack from the sides - the best warriors would leap from above Moonstone's den to attack her, and some of the lesser ones would attack the den where Luna was staying.

On the mention of Luna, her image came to him as he thought of it. She and Stranger were getting close, and he almost felt... some sort of guilt in his throat. She doesn't deserve to die. She's just one pawn. A very important pawn to me.

He shook off the thoughts and watched the crowd form below him. He could see Farren near Ash, the healer making sure the queen wasn't going into labor. The latter met his eyes and dipped her head in respect.

"Greetings, everyone. Glad you could join us." The crowd was silent under him, and it almost reassured him. "Before we get started, I want to give my best wishes to Ash. She's baring my kits sometime today and I do hope, with all my sincerity, that her kitting is successful." As the crowd cheered, an intrusive thought prodded his brain. My hope is with her. But also with Luna. "Now, to continue: the battle."

"Few are aware of why Fratz has not interfered with this." He took a breath - he knew this wouldn't be good. "Fratz passed away after I first spoke of this battle." The gasps of the crowd were much expected to him. "But his death was in no vain. He was a wonderful leader, and always guided me and everyone he was with."

"Then that's it, then!" Nami's yell from the crowd caught his attention - she was standing next to Ash. "Fratz's death is not something we shouldn't take seriously, Angelus. We need to attack now, or more cats will die!"

He took a shaky breath as Luna again appeared in his mind. "We attack from the sides. Three of our best fighters should go attack Moonstone's den, and two more can go confront Luna. The rest of you - aim to kill as many as you can. We are at peace when our offenders are gone."

Ash was being led by Farren into the healers' den. Good. "Let's go!"

With a yell of satisfaction from the crowd, he leaped off the ledge he was on. "You guys, go ahead. I'll catch up with you." The crowd shifted as he slipped out of it and towards the healers' den.

"How is she, Farren?" Ash's eyes turned toward him after a moment.

"Doing just fine. She'll recover afterward, she's strong." Farren was preparing herbs in the opposing corner. "Angelus, you should catch up with them. They need you out there."

"I-I-I know." He turned after a moment. "I'll be back here soon. Bye Ash, Farren."

~

His crew was waiting for him, as expected. The camp looked to be filled with every member of the flightless. He spotted Stranger and Luna and Moonstone, every one of the priority kills. Stranger and Luna looked like they were planning something, and Moonstone guarded her group with a watchful eye.

Angelus flicked his tail and whispered, "Prepare for battle. Positions ready. If my ear twitches, we go."

He let them set up quietly, and he was over near Luna and Stranger. Ready... set...

Now! He let his ears flick and he let out a howl as he leaped into the camp, watching the surrounding cats do the same. He landed near Luna, crouched, and snarled. "Greetings, old friend."

"Angelus!" With her tail flaring and Stranger hissing near her, Luna stared him in the eye "What are you doing here?"

"Doing what needs to be done. Being rid of you, me, Stranger." His heart tore, but all of his loyalty said Keep going. "The only lovers left alive."

With that, he threw himself towards her, tackling her and digging his claws into her fur. "The only lovers left alive, you say?" She suddenly crouched and pushed up on her haunches in a bucking fashion. "Lovers don't betray. Lovers don't do the things I've seen. Lovers don't leave their significant others alone." As he landed, she smirked. "All we ever were was lovers. But there are better cats to love."

"I'll see you wherever we go after we die." She tackled him and bit into his ear. "Wherever we go, I hope I see you there."

She felt... heavier. "Luna, what the-" He threw her off, and his eyes trotted to Stranger. "What the crowdung is happening with you?" He shook his head. "I can't let myself be distracted. Luna, you don't know who your family is, right?"

"Of course I don't. I never have." She stared him in the eye. "I never will."

"I know who your father was. And your mother." He sighed, feeling his ears burn. "Fratz and Tipo. Your parents." Her eyes went wide, and Stranger immediately pushed against her side. "Now. We are the last lovers alive in our badlands." In her shock, Luna stared at her paws. "Let us leave, so we can bring love back to our reality."

The yowling in the background hardly distracted him. "Stranger and I do love each other, Angelus." She sighed. "We were planning on leaving anyway. Don't you have a job to do?"

"Not if I'm leaving. And you are too, so there's no point in trying to hold these kingdoms together." Stranger's eyes widened and flashed between them. "Let them fall. After all, we are the only love that came out of this hopeless place."

The she-cats fell silent, but nodded together after a few moments.

The three sprinted away, through the badlands, to whatever places weren't hopeless. Stranger and Luna went on their own separate route after a few moments, and Angelus felt his paws start to burn.

We are the lovers.

We are the only lovers.

And that's just beautiful.


epilogue


"'Cause you know the good die young, but so did this, and so it must be better than I think it is. Gimme those eyes, it's easy to forgive."
- Halsey ft. Cashmere Cat, "Hopeless"

the moon and her stranger left

on their way to be better within their badlands

they brought their sun and moon

the sun and moon eclipse each other

as angel wings took flight

to find a home

while carrying guilt that pained them

~

they're just strangers

they're the lovers

they're all that is left

and they're not sorry


author's note

Woo! It's finally done!

King took me forever to do, but I'm so happy with it! I hope you enjoyed Luna, Stranger, and Angelus as much as I did!

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Shakespeare once wrote these words to the opening of his famed musical, Romeo & Juliet. I feel those words fit well with Luna, Angelus, and Stranger, as well as their societies. Flightless. Fliers. Those who are in between.

King's also been heavily inspired by Halsey's album, hopeless fountain kingdom. There are so many reasons why I chose this, and I do recommend listening to it if you haven't done so while reading this. Seeing Halsey live was absolutely incredible, and having my inspiration be present in my life for just one night gave me every idea I needed to finish it.

I'm going on for a bit; don't forget to check out Luna, Angelus, and Stranger for some post-story content! These are all one-shots that are set in the same world.

Thanks for reading!

-- fine, electrify mine

electrify my golden tooth



can't look at those eyes

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