Chapter 3

Sometimes she just wished that she was something other than what she really was.

Jacques had always been the responsible one, the one that Shade would most likely turn to for help. And he was a much better fighter than her (or so was said), and often pleased their mother with his talent more than Susan ever did.

She was glad, because that morning, she was actually up before Jacques. She smirked. And she would be hunting.

A flock of pigeons was cooing and pecking on the pavement next to the grass of the park, as little Twolegs screeched and chased after them. But what puzzled Susan was that none of them attempted to catch the pigeons.

Whatever. More for me.

But as she crept closer, she realized that the pigeons were bigger than she thought. Their orange eyes stared right through her. Swallowing her apprehension, she stalked closer, and pounced.

Her claws directly hit the pigeon, but is just squawked and fluttered away. It was too strong for her, she noticed, embarrassed. She snapped her head around to see if anyone had noticed her blunder. She sighed in relief, as no other cats were in sight.

The realization that she would have to ask Jacques for help hit her. It's always that little Susan can't do anything without her big brother, because he's just so amazing.

Sighing, she tiptoed through the grass, back into the shack. Jacques was still asleep, curled up on the pillow.

"Jacques!" Susan hissed. His head instantly snapped upwards. 

"Jeez! You could've given us away!" he whispered angrily, as he rose from the cushion. His eyes widened. "We haven't been given away, have we?"

Susan shook her head. "No, no. I just-- I just needed your help with something." She managed to choke the familiar words out.

He relaxed. "Oh, sure. With what?" 

They soon were standing in front of the pigeon crowd. The sky was blue, and the green leaves of the trees shone in the sun. Twolegs were staying on the other side of the park. A seemingly perfect day.

If their mother wasn't held captive or dead and missing. And they weren't being searched for by BloodClan cats. And if she didn't have to ask the great Jacques for help on stupid everything!

"We're still kits," he stated, "So the pigeons are pretty big to us."

"Tell me something new," Susan muttered.

"We need to pounce on the same pigeon at the same time."

She nodded her agreement, and curved around the side of the flock. Her green eyes gleamed. Jacques did the same. She gestured to one pigeon with her tail. Jacques shook his head, and pointed out an even bigger one.

Slowly, she padded forward, barely aware of her brother doing the same. The crowd of birds parted as they came closer.

Just as they tensed and waggled their haunches, ready to pounce, the pigeons all fluttered away. Plodding towards them was one of the Twoleg kits. Her arms were outstretched, as she cried happily. "Run!" Susan yowled.

The pair streaked away towards the shack, panting. Susan's heart thumped in her chest. 

"Follow me!" Jacques hissed. And he darted behind a scraggly bush with pokey stems. 

She peeked out of the bush, to see if the Twoleg was gone. It was padding back to its mother and father, looking frustrated.

"You think it's safe?" Jacques panted.

"Should be."

As they slinked out of the bush, ginger flashed in the corner of her eye. She turned her head, but saw nothing.

"Did you see that?" she asked.

"See what?" he responded. The ginger shape slipped across the green grass once again. She heard a frightened squawk of a pigeon.

This time, her brother did notice. He quickly turned away, to see what was going on. Susan followed suit.

There Brick stood, holding a limp pigeon in his jaws. 

Her fur bristled. He was a BloodClan cat; there could be others nearby. "What are you doing here?" Jacques hissed.

"I just thought that you may need some help," he mewed, after he dropped the dead bird at her feet. Susan was unsure whether to thank him and take the pigeon, or just streak to their shack, without risking their lives.

"Are there others?" her brother growled.

"It's just me," Brick sighed, "Can't a father help his own kits?" What she had known all along hit her again. A BloodClan cat is our father.

She wondered what Shade had ever seen in him. He seemed much like the rest, until... until his secret was revealed.  She couldn't deny that he had proved himself to be kind and such.

Before she could stop herself, she blurted out, "Is Shade going to be okay?"

Brick sighed. "Kits..." he began. She dug her claws into the ground.

"Your mother is dead."

Susan cried out in grief, as Jacques sunk onto the ground. How can she be dead? That means we'll be all alone, for the rest of our lives! And we're only kits, how can we fend for ourselves?

Then to her further curiosity, Brick lowered his voice even more to come speak with them.

"Now listen to this, kits," he murmured.

Jacques dug his sharp claws into the ground. "Listen to this? Listen to this? Our mother is gone! How can you not even think of comforting us, when the only person we've ever loved is dead." He spat out the last words like a bitter mouse bone.

He gave no reply. Susan was shocked. Jacques rarely lost his temper, even at the worst of moments.

"That's not the point," Brick finally hissed, "The rest of BloodClan is onto you. We have to leave the area soon. There's another Twolegplace across the forest, but that means we would have to pass through the Clans. Instead, it would be better if we headed up north to the mountains." We? Does Brick really care that much about us?

"Come on," Brick urged, "Hurry!" The Twolegplace was just behind Susan, as she trailed behind Jacques after Brick. Everything seemed unusually desolate, like it was going to collapse at any minute. The only noise heard was the smack of their paws hitting the ground and Jacques' panting.

Something didn't seem right.

She couldn't see the peaks of the mountains even though Brick claimed that they were getting much closer.

"Jacques," she muttered under her breath.

"What?" He panted.

A slow creak and a snapping of a twig was heard as Susan began to choose her worried words. But before she could put her thoughts out, a shape flew from the bushes.

It was a wiry tom, with beady yellow eyes and white fur that stuck out on end as he arched his back.

Desperate, the kits tried to scamper around him. But he slid in front of them.

"One more step and you die," he snarled. Another cat slinked out of the bushes, this time a slender reddish brown she-cat, who seemed to have jagged bits of flint for claws.

Unable to think of anything else, Susan cried out, "Brick! Help!"

Her heart pounded in her chest as there was no reply.

She may have been clumsy and useless compared to Jacques, but she sure wasn't stupid.

Brick had obviously led them into a trap.

"Let us go!" Jacques hissed.

The she-cat bared her teeth. "You'll die in the gutter, next to your mother." Fear shot through her. How could they possibly get out of the situation?

"Don't talk about our mother," Jacques growled. They cackled sadistically. Susan hissed under her breath, as she saw a ginger shape slipping through the tall grass.

Brick. How could he betray them like this, when he was their own father? He was caring for them, just to give them away to be slaughtered, or who knew what!

Thinking of this, Susan asked frightened, "What are you going to do to us?"

"That's for Scourge to determine."

Yep. Dying in the gutter.

In the gutter.

The hole in the side of the street reeked of rain water, and she could see the slime that coated its walls. Disgusted, she gulped, and swiftly pointed it out to Jacques.

"I'm scared."

"It's this or... them."

"But we have to save our mother!"

"We're just kits, Jacques. We don't have a chance. And Brick said that she was dead, remember?"

"We have to believe that she's alive," he whispered.

"Shut up!" the white tom snarled as he whipped around.

"It's now or never."

And Susan found herself skidding across the cracked and dirty street, and tumbling through the dank air. She could just feel the light brush of Jacques' fur against hers in their fall of terror.

Frightened, she felt her paws slam into the hard ground. Her teeth rattled, and water splashed into the thick air. 

"What did I get myself into?" she groaned.

"A gutter," Jacques said matter-of-factly. Susan couldn't even tell if he was being sarcastic or trying to be funny. Or just being stupid.

Without waiting for Jacques' approval, Susan began to pad to the tunnel in the side of the filthy stone wall.

As she straggled alongside her brother, she felt a jolt race through her heart. Hot, salty tears slipped down her cheeks. All she wanted was to go home to her mother, and curl up at her side, with Jacques. They would be the perfect family, except for the absence of a father. Ever since that moment, it was all that she longed for.

The angry shouts of the BloodClan cats echoed down all the way down to them. Such words made Susan's fur crawl.

Brick had betrayed them, by making them think that he was their real father, who actually wanted them. She should've known better.

It felt as if her heart would never be light again.

  • ~*~

Soft cushions lined her nest. Jilly stretched and yawned, unwilling to get up yet. But she could hear her Twoleg clunking around in the kitchen, and knew that she would want to say goodbye before Susan left. Glinting in the rising sun that streamed though the windows, was her collar. Jilly had nearly forgotten that it was there, it was so comfortable.

Goodbye, Jilly!" Susan called out. She purred her goodbye, and leaped onto the kitchen counter, to peer out of the window. The car picked up speed and sped away. Gracefully, she gave her paw a lick, and leaped off of the counter to eat some food. It was dry and tasteless on her mouth, but unsurprisingly, Jilly had gotten used to it.

She heard a rustle outside of the house. Slowly, her ears pricked. Curious, she went around to the front of the house to see the suspicious shaking. At first, all she could see were the bright green leaves and violet flowers of Susan's bush. But then a flash of ginger caught her eye, and she was plunged into a world of nervous terror.

It had been days since she had went to visit Scorch, and she never planned to again. She just couldn't take it. Her visit was a huge embarrassment for Scorch, and a horrible one for Jilly. How could kits just die off like that? Was the cold and lack of sustenance really that extreme? Jilly shivered to think of that life. The fact was, she didn't belong there.

It was too late. Green eyes blinked at her from behind a purple blossom, and a ginger shape slid out from behind the bush. 

"Hello Scorch," Jilly mewed coolly.

"Hi Jilly," he replied, keeping his voice formal, but she could see the pleading in his eyes. A pang stabbed at her heart, but she had to ignore it.

"Listen... I'm sorry about what happened the other day, when you came to my home. I realize what a horrible experience for you it was."

"Yes, quite. But it's not your fault."

"I know. But I still need to apologize."

She nodded to him, keeping wary. Scorch took a few steps closer to stand next to her.

"Um... nice garden."

"Thank you."

"Okay, so Jilly--"

"Yes, what?"

"I'm sorry about our first experience, but would you want to try meeting me again? We made our den much warmer. And stocked prey. Please?"

Jilly was put on the spot. She shuffled her paws, but then decided that she couldn't say no.

"All right. Tomorrow, after my housefolk has left. Right when the sun has just risen."

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