This page contains a fan fiction written by Roboflight.
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Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
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This is a short written by Robo for Red's contest. It won second place!

Strange Tom

It shouldn't hurt to be different...

"But it does..."

It shouldn't hurt to be different...

Words are just words.

And so it shouldn't hurt to be different...

Why can't I just be myself?

It shouldn't hurt to be different...

I look down at the flurry of trees and grass beneath my paws. Why can't they just accept me for who I am?

Why can't I accept myself for who I am? Why shouldn't I?

Maybe I can... Everything must start somewhere. And maybe I can start by letting myself go...


It shouldn't hurt to be different...

"Frostbite, can you lead a patrol?" a brown tabby tom called as a flurry of kits ran past them, followed by apprentices, chasing the kits and trying to send them back to the nursery.

The snow white she-cat turned around and smiled, "Of course! Who would you like me to take?"

"Uh..." the deputy of RiverClan glanced around a bit, his eyes darting from warrior to warrior while I watched from the corner of the clearing, my eyes glaring into his, although he never noticed, "How about Fishspring, Titanfall, Grassshine and..." his eyes landed on my pelt and I looked away slowly waiting for him to call out my name, hope squeezing my heart, "That's it."

That's it.

That's it.

That's it.

I hadn't been on a patrol in over a moon. A moon. Most cats went on a patrol around once every few sunrises. I... was still waiting after a whole moon to be chosen to go on one. I had given up the hope that I may ever lead one, all I want is to be a part of one.

It's almost how I feel about my position in RiverClan.

Tossed, ignored and only used to have something to give query looks to. The outcast, the loner, the coward and the tree-climbing-freak.

The strange tom.

Maybe it's time to stop waiting. Every time I've tried to gather to courage to leave my hiding spot and ask to join the patrol. Every time I've failed. Maybe it's my anger, impatience or inability to care about anything else anymore, after being so dejected.

But this time I succeed. 

"Hey," I paddle over to the two of them and duck my head shyly, earning me two pairs of curious eyes, burning a hole in my pelt. My blue eyes shimmered under the sunlight.

"What is it Stra-Heronpelt?" Oakdust asks me, his large toned muscles gleaming brilliantly as Frostbite waited patiently.

"I want- I mean would it be okay-" I sighed, forcing myself to remain calm, through my excitement, "What I mean to say is, can I join the patrol? Please?" I don't care about the desperation leaking through my voice. Let them see what pain they have put me through everyday because of their exclusion.

The two exchanged a quick glance and Oakdust nodded slowly.

"We would love to have you, Heronpelt," he actually uses my name this time, "However I have a more important job for you..."

My heart skips a beat in excitement.



It shouldn't hurt to be different...


What an important job. 

Who was I trying to kid, to think that they would ever use me as anything other than a number among their ranks. Myself?

But it appears that even kits are too important for an outcast like me.

Mooncrest is eyeing me suspiciously, "How can I be sure that Oakdust sent you to look after my kits?" she stands in front of the four young bundles protectively.

They are thorns to my heart and I swallow harsh tears that are threatening to spill. I was not wanted. Not liked. Not appreciated. And now... I was not trusted. And I had never done anything to deserve this treatment.

"You can ask him if you want," I replied cooling, refusing to let her see how deeply she has scared me with those words, "He can confirm it."

"It's fine," she yawned, "I don't need my kits to be babysitted anyways. Not for a while, at least. I'm going to be keeping to the nursery more now that leafbare is approaching.


Leaffall is hardly approaching and it is the perfect season to go outside and rest under the sun or head on a small hunt.

She doesn't trust me, and from the glare she is shooting over my shoulder she is obviously mad at Oakdust for thinking I was worthy of a job even this small.

Battered and bruised, lost but not loved, hopeless and hated, I turned around my head sinking down to the ground of the nursery as I gently paddled out.

I swear to StarClan I can gently hear her quietly whispering to her kits, "That's a bad cat right there. Keep away from him. He is different, weird and not to be trusted. Do you hear me? Keep away from the strange tom."


It shouldn't hurt to be different...

I gently chew on a trout, but it has no taste in my mouth. It feel like me life: shallow, dry despite the land it comes from, and dead.

"A group of apprentices walk by chattering away and one stops to look at me. For a moment, hope flares in my heart. I try to silence it telling myself that he has just stopped to look at me like all the other apprentices to but it keeps beating, as the apprentice takes a few soft steps towards me, his friends walking off, not noticing that he has left their small circle.

We are both silent for a moment.

"Hello," I finally whisper.

"You have a different voice than I knew," he replies in a normal voice, before pausing, "Not that I ever knew you to have any voice."

I'm not sure if it was what he was aiming for but those words stung my heart.

The truth hurts.

Finally he speaks again, "What's your problem?" he finally asks. His voice isn't harsh but instead... almost, betrayed. There is pain and a speck of anger, "Why can't you accept who you are? Why do you always have to glance at the trees and hide from the water. You are one of us. RiverClan. And you should be proud of it. But instead... you just run and hide the truth," the small spark of anger in his eyes has grown.

Is that what they think of me? Why they hate me so much? Why can't I just be myself?

"You don't know me," I hiss.

"You're right," he claimed, turning around, "And I'm glad I don't."

Just like that, everything left inside of me. The hope I clung to like my life, for it was my life, just vanished and left me stranded on an all too familiar world which didn't feel familiar at all.

It never would.

Not until I felt familiar to them.


It shouldn't hurt to be different...


I love them so much. Just walking by the green large plants sends this seed of joy through me and makes me smile. Having them flank me, and the touch of their rough and old bark.

I love to climb them too.

If RiverClan didn't look down on me for it, I would have spent half of my life among the tall majestic green leave and dark, chocolate brown branches.

But warriors always wander different areas of the territories, and being spotted in a tree would only make my state among the cats even worse.

I would never be allowed into camp again if I was caught in a tree.

And so, I can't turn to them now. Instead, I must brave one of my greatest fears, but one of my clan's favorite weapons. Along with the chance of becoming a possible friend with that apprentice, I had lost all need, want or urge to live. I was finally prepared to face and grasp what I had been heading towards and looking for my whole life.

A place to fit in.

The deep scent of leafbare can only soothe me a little bit, as I take soft steps across the grass. A couple other cats wander, all shooting me curious glances but I duck my head, desperate to avoid them.

Although I doubt they would care for what I am about to do, it is better to be safe than sorry. A small ruffle plays with my fur and my one white paw sticks out among the warming green shade of grass.

Some things fate throws at you and you have to swallow, no matter how hard and rough it make be, or how sour or bitter it may taste.

But this was something I was choosing for myself.

However, I had no intention of letting this taste bad. It would be the moment my life had all lived up to. My one second in the spotlight.

Before all the lights dimmed.


It shouldn't hurt to be different...

"Cold!" I gasp as my paw gently touched the water and I wince. Even in greenleaf the rivers of RiverClan sting when making contact with my body.

How does my clan enjoy spending so much time here everyday?

And they call me the strange tom.

I resist the urge to snort as I try to stick my paw back into the icy waters. But it is no good. There is almost a barrier between us which prevents me from actually dipping myself into the rivers.

Sighing, I drag my paw, which is only wet on the tip, back out of the water.

This was no good.

I would have to find a different way.

And the answer strikes me as I turn around and find myself facing something I have faced for so long, yet never turned to in time of need, when they were waiting there to comfort me.


My final chance of freedom.


It shouldn't hurt to be different...

I grasp the edge of a branch and pull myself up, before steadying myself and heading for the next branch. And the next. And then next.

Slowly I progress from the ground up to the top of the skies, from where I can see over birds, other trees in the distance, the whole territory and a group of gathered cats at the base of the tree looking up.

A group of gathered cats at the base of the tree...

My gaze instantly falls back down at large amount of cats gazing up at me. I can make out the queen and apprentice who insulted me as well as Frostbit and Oakdust. But as I peered down at them I noticed something.

They were just curious.

They didn't really care for me at all.

I grit my teeth and slow tears form in the corners of my eyes. This is who I am, and if they can't accept it, it will only be their loss.

If they had actually come to apologize for everything they had ever done to me...

Too late.

It's time to free myself of the nightmare my life has been ever since I was born as Heronkit.

The strange tom.

It was time to stop being strange. Time to stop having a voice which sounded like silence. Time to stop waiting and hoping for something to fix the way I was treated.

It was time to act. Time to fit in. Time to let go of everything, fall back and prove to my clan who I was. How I was different from them in so many ways, and what sort of new things I brought to their clan. And how, they would never realize what they had until the lost it.

Time for it to stop hurting...

Time to be different.

Taking in a deep breath I could hardly feel it as my body slipped and feel through the air at an incredible speed whipping past air.

And although I may have been falling down, about to hit the ground with a hard thud it felt like I was floating even further up to the clouds.

And even though I was growing nearer to the cats who had made my life so miserable, I was also growing further away from them. Further than I had ever dared to explore before.

Now I was heading to a new realm; StarClan. A place where I could be myself; climb trees, avoid the water, and still be RiverClan. A place where I would be accepted by those before me and accept those to come after me.

A place where it wouldn't hurt to be different.

It shouldn't hurt to be different...

And despite the pain that would reach my limbs and my whole body when I made contact with the ground, just so that I could be different, I knew it wouldn't hurt at all.

Not anymore.

The End

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