Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh (Ooh)
Ayy, ayyOoh, ooh, ooh, ooh
When we were young, Acornpaw was the light of my life. Everything seemed good with her and I - we were best friends, our parents got along well, life was good. Really good.
Then it happened.
Needless to say, I keep it in checkShe was all bad-bad, nevertheless (Yeah)
My brother Twigpaw was found dead beside a tree.
I'd known what was wrong with him - Twigpaw was smaller than me and Cedarpaw. Plus, he always wanted another tom around - all the kits, therefore all the apprentices, were she-cats when we were young.
The other she-cats would bully him, but Cedarpaw and I didn't; we liked our brother. He was kind and sweet and listened to tales spoken by our older members - he especially liked listening to Kestrelheart, who'd been all scarred up from years of fighting.
However, there came a day where Twigpaw confronted me.
"Starlingkit." He'd said the words as a kit; still young, but ever a smart one. "I wonder why Mother named you that. It sounds like a tom's name."
I'd never questioned my name before, just treated it as my own. "I don't think it sounds like that."
"You're the only one who I trust because of that name."
Callin' it quits now, baby, I'm a wreck (Wreck)Crash at my place, baby, you're a wreck (Wreck)
Twigpaw saw me as something I'm not - a weird, twisted mix of a tom and a she-cat, someone meant to be a tom but who really wanted to be a she-cat. I knew there was nothing wrong with that - our own leader, Spiderstar, had decided that they'd stick with neutral pronouns - but Twigpaw thought it to be wrong.
Wrong was how it stayed. Despite him calling me a tom, Acornpaw didn't. She knew he was a bully to me - her theory was that he was just upset over what'd happened to him as a kit.
See, I felt bad about that, too. Especially because I knew that was the truth.
Needless to say, I'm keeping her in checkShe was all bad-bad, nevertheless
When Twigpaw committed suicide, it both ended me and signified a beginning.
It was a beginning because it meant no more being called a tom; Acornpaw hated that for me. "Starlingpaw's a she-cat, and she always will be." But it was also an end; I'd lost a brother.
Losing family does weird things to you.
Callin' it quits now, baby, I'm a wreckCrash at my place, baby, you're a wreck
Acornpaw went with me to bury him. Nobody else came - most gave their respects to him before I had the courage to say that I was going to bury him alone.
Acornpaw'd piped up and called, "I'm gonna go with her. Make sure she's safe."
We walked away from camp and buried him quickly, but I didn't want to leave. I thought briefly about Twigpaw, and Acornpaw.
"If he was here, he'd have called your name the opposite of your personality." I knew hers was seen as more feminine than she liked it. She took inspiration off of Spiderstar.
"Knowing me, yeah." She let out a sigh; not many could see what I could with her. To many, she was just normal - but to me, she was a protector. She didn't tolerate any poor statements about her from anyone, and wouldn't have hesitated to defend her friends. She was different in her own extremely likable way.
"Starlingpaw." She let out a sigh. "Just wanted to say... it's nice sitting here. Staring at the stars. Thinking about things."
I remained silent; I didn't particularly know how to feel about that. "I like it too."
A star vanished before my eyes.
Thinkin' in a bad way, losin' your gripScreamin' at my face, baby, don't trip
For a while afterward, I didn't tell anyone about Twigpaw's suicide. Many thought he'd just been killed - but I saw right through it. Despite his bullying, I knew Twigpaw was just in pain and anger. And he let that anger out on me.
I confided in Acornpaw. She knew what'd been wrong with our relationship - Twigpaw was close-minded about names, we concluded. After all, Starlingpaw isn't something you hear often, and it's usually with toms as well - he wasn't wrong about it.
A few moons had passed, then Acornpaw, now a warrior by the name of Acornblaze, found me and brought me back to where we'd buried him. "Starlingheart." Her words pronounced it gently, like a frail rose she was trying to nurse. "I... have a little confession."
A little? "What does that mean?"
"Exactly as it sounds. Anyway," she sighed, "There're some things you don't know."
"What don't I know?"
"You'll find out."
Five stars faded behind her, one by one.
Someone took a big L, don't know how that feltLookin' at you sideways, party on tilt
More moons passed. Acornblaze and I became distant until I saw her.
Late one evening, I'd snuck out. She'd been going somewhere, and I wanted to know - sometimes I wasn't seeing her in the morning before we'd go off on patrol, and it became irritating to see her gone, sometimes for longer than a day.
Then I saw her and her ex-mentor.
She seemed extremely upset when I spotted her. No... please, no...
Five stars faded behind them. It wasn't what caught my eye, however - what caught my eye was the previously unnoticed growth of her belly.
What the- Another star faded from my view. She's - she can't be...!
Acornblaze was pregnant, whether I liked it or not. The night passed quietly, and in the morning, I found her next to me, as she'd always been. Like she hadn't moved.
She muttered, "Come with me."
Ooh-ooh, some things you just can't refuse
She wanna ride me like a cruiseAnd I'm not try'na lose
She didn't have to tell me - I already knew.
"You knew? How, Starlingheart?"
"I - I saw you. Their father."
Acornblaze resigned herself from her warriorhood that night.
We waited - both of us - for her kits' birth. The poor girl just couldn't get a break. I saw her mentor come up to multiple times - seemed like he was just congratulating her. Right.
We waited two weeks before she started screaming.
Those five starts that had faded started to haunt me - she screamed for hours, and in that time, I confronted her mentor.
"You did this to her!" I couldn't stand it - no way was he going to get away with it. "How many other she-cats have you done this to? What about that apprentice who went missing - Riverpaw. Did you do that to her, too? What about Heatherflight, whose kits were unknown?!"
He stared back into my eyes. "Those she-cats only know that they gifted this Clan with growth. Nothing more, nevermore."
I knew I'd be hunted down for what I did to him.
Then you're left in the dustUnless I stuck by ya
Just like Hollyleaf from the legends.
He drowned in his own blood, poisoned in the water. And nobody was allowed to know.
When I got back, Acornblaze was wailing. "Starlingheart - Starlingheart, they're all dead! Every one of them was dead!"
Immediately I pressed into her side. "What'd you do to him? I know you went off with him," she whispered gently.
"Let's say he won't be coming back."
"What?!" She stared up at me. "What do you -"
"I mean it."
You're the sunflowerI think your love would be too much
Yet again, only us buried the five she had.
"How often do you see a first-time queen who's been like this?" she muttered. "I didn't want to do this, Starlingheart. He really came onto me." She stared into the distance for a moment. "He's a predator. I'm glad he's dead."
"You're glad?" I glanced over at her, and her green eyes stared for a moment. "That I killed him?"
"Of course I would. He probably did this to others too." She sighed. "Also, while I'm thinking about it. I knew they'd be dead the moment it happened."
"Bad news comes to those like you."
"It's a better thing he's gone, Starlingheart."
A few stars faded behind us.
Or you'll be left in the dustUnless I stuck by ya
As soon as Acornblaze and I returned, the news came in - her ex-mentor was missing, and immediately she was asked if she knew where he was. "Hey," I growled as they approached. "Leave her alone, will you? She gave birth less than a day ago, and not just that, they were all dead. I'm confident she doesn't know where he is." Her eyes flashed to me. "Right, Acornblaze?"
She inhaled gently. "I don't know where he is, no." She pressed against my side gently. "Possibly, he went somewhere with someone - anyone else missing?"
"No." The voice echoed from across the camp - Spiderstar. "Starlingheart, what about you? Do you know where he might be?"
The look on his face as your claws dug into his fur, the feeling that came once you shoved his body into the river - "I don't. I've not been close to him either."
Spiderstar's eyebrow raised, but they didn't say anything about it. "Nothing, it seems." They turned and called the Clan together in a moment. "Alright. We know Acornblaze's mentor is gone - our sympathies to you, Acornblaze - but we don't know where he is. Theories?"
Cedarpaw, now known as Cedarthorn, piped up. "Maybe he got kidnapped?"
"I doubt it," they murmured. "Cats don't get captured too often."
Theories kept spilling out, but neither Acornblaze nor I said anything.
You're the sunflowerYou're the sunflower
"I have an idea." An unknown voice spilled from the shadows, and there he was - Troutwhisker. A brown tabby brat if we ever saw one, a freshly made warrior set on causing trouble. "What if... someone here killed him? What if it was... one of those two silent chicks?" He flicked his tail toward Acornblaze and I. His eyes turned to meet mine. Oh no. Nononono he knows...
"A valid question. What evidence do you have to support it?" Spiderstar stared with a sense of disbelief.
"I watched Acornblaze sneak off with him a few times." He closed his eyes. "And later, Starlingheart too. Only problem is... she returned. He didn't."
Spiderstar turned their gaze to me. "Is this true, Starlingheart?"
The Clan considered it for a moment, then Troutwhisker yelled, "Of course it makes sense! Starlingheart never liked him anyway, it was evident every day."
Spiderstar's eyes narrowed. "Starlingheart, I hate saying this, but unless you can defend yourself, I'll have no choice."
What do I say?!? "I-I-I..." Acornblaze pressed against my side. "Acornblaze...?" I whispered softly.
"You saved my life," she whispered in response. "There is no reason why I shouldn't save yours."
"I'm coming with you, idiot." Her eyes flicked. "No way am I gonna let you just get exiled and die. You saved me. I'm saving you now."
"Saving me?!" I stared; no way was I gonna let her just do this. "You literally just had kits. You don't need to do this. Stay here. Stay safe. Don't follow me here."
"Uh, no. No way am I gonna leave you out there. We're the greatest friends out there." Her voice shook at "friends." "I refuse to let you die out there."
"Why are you doing this, Acornblaze?"
She went silent; Spiderstar was still staring at us. "Because, Starlingheart... you matter to me. And I don't want to lose you."
"Okay." Spidertar's voice called from the side. "I hate to break this moment, because clearly you two are very close, but I've seen enough. Starlingheart, the Clan has spoken." They stood from their position. "You're hereby... exiled."
"I'm going with her."
Every time I'm leavin' on ya (Ooh)You don't make it easy, no (No, no)
Troutwhisker laughed as he took Acornblaze and I away. "And stay out! No way are you ever coming back here." His claws scratched over my fur, and Acornblaze growled at him.
"Stay off of her." She unsheathed her claws sharply.
This was Troutwhisker's greatest issue - letting things slide. "Oh, and what are you gonna do? Scratch my eyes out?"
"Yeah, maybe." Her fur rose in defense.
"Are you sure, death bearer?" He chuckled. "You gave birth to dead kits. It's your fault we're not growing."
This set her off. "You - complete - jerk!" It didn't take long for her to claw his face off. "You think we should've died - you're one to talk! Get out of our lives - everyone's lives!"
He wouldn't respond. Poor Acornblaze had done as he threatened - but worse. There he laid, dead in front of her... "Oh no. Holy StarClan." The look on her face went from angry to pure terror. "Wow. I guess this was how you felt."
"It's pretty spot on." I felt bad about the incident with Troutwhisker, but I wanted to make her feel better. She glanced over her shoulder and snorted.
"That look is so adorable, gosh." She shifted back to my side. "Let's get going. Troutwhisker's death will only conceive more hate of you and I, as they'll think we did it."
Wish I could be there for ya (Ooh)Give me a reason to (Oh)
We trotted as far away as she could take it because she'd had an even longer day than I.
When we stopped, it was nightfall of the next night, and both of us were exhausted, her more than me. She curled up in the roots of a nearby tree and yawned. "It's so late. We should both rest."
"Neither of us will sleep well on empty stomachs," I muttered from beside her. "Besides, you could use some for... recovering." I acknowledged her state publically - still exhausted from kit-bearing.
"That's true." She sighed. "Also, Starlingheart, before you go..." She shuffled nervously. "Someday I hope I can raise some kits. Those I had were all cursed; doomed to die. But I want kits I can raise - I wasn't keen on carrying those kits for what felt like forever, but I was taught something I can't explain when that happened."
I nodded and murmured, "Someday we can both do that."
Every time I'm walkin' out (Oh)I can hear you tellin' me to turn around (Oh, oh)
It'd been a few weeks and she and I watched the night sky in silence. This time, it was much darker than it'd been several moons ago. "I think the stars are fading."
"Fading?" She glanced over at me. "What do you mean?"
"I mean they're fading. I haven't seen them as much recently."
She scoffed. "Fading? Maybe it's just pollution from the Twolegs nearby."
We both chuckled a bit at that. "They may be fading. We shall see."
She cast me a look of trust. "Hey, also... I wanted to mention something."
"There's... another tom lurking around here. You do know that, right?"
"Please don't tell me you're pregnant again."
She chuckled. "Not that I can tell. But." Her eyes drifted away from my face and down to my stomach. "If I show signs of it... we shall see."
Three stars reappeared in the sky.
Fightin' for my trust and you won't back down (No)Even if we gotta risk it all right now, oh (Now)
At some point, I decided I would look for this tom myself, to see if she was planning anything.
It wasn't hard to find him - he hung around the area and didn't flinch when I approached. "Hello, Starlingheart. A pleasure meeting you. The name's Faron."
"You know my name?"
"Acornblaze talks about you often." He smiled. "I wanted to talk to you. Have you seen the stars fading recently?"
"Well. I think I discovered something about it."
I cocked my head. "You did?"
"Yes, actually. I think you may not like it though."
"Tell me what's going on."
"To cut it short," the ginger tom muttered, "Acornblaze is pregnant, and I'm aware, it's her second litter in six moons. She will be due in a matter of a few weeks. That isn't the point, however." He stared at the ground. "The Clans are dying. Because they believe in the stars, the lack of them being there is causing some sort of disturbance."
"Yes. And I figured it out: when Acornblaze told me she was expecting, three stars appeared. I think they signal her number of kits."
"So what you're telling me," I sighed, "is that she-cats bearing kits is restoring the stars?"
"That is exactly what I'm telling you."
"I'm a wise cat, Starlingheart. Now for the all-important question; have you realized who I am?"
"Who you are?"
"To cut it short," he muttered, "I'm a reincarnation of a long-forgotten deity. As for what exactly my purpose is, even I haven't figured it out."
"Regardless. You really think Acornblaze being pregnant is bringing those stars back? What if they die?" Like they did last time. "What do you think will happen then?"
He shrugged. "I'm not sure. But here is where life gets... more interesting for you two, I guess. What if I told you... she was lying?"
"About those kits she's 'carrying.'"
"No, she's alive." He stared blankly at the night sky. A pair of stars inched closer to each other in the sky. "And you'll both be satisfied."
I know you're scared of the unknown (-Known)You don't wanna be alone (Alone)
When the stars came together, it only meant trouble.
Acornblaze came up beside me, nudging my fur and gently rubbing against my side. She'd been acting affectionate the last few days, and now she murmured gently, "There's something I need to tell you."
"There's something I need to tell you too." I knew what she'd say - Faron wasn't a liar - but I didn't bother to say anything to her.
She and I approached an open clearing. "Well, we both have news... so who's first?"
"You go first. You always did while we were in the Clans."
"That was so long ago," she chuckled. "I can't believe we were ever Clan cats - and that the whole reason you were exiled was that someone suspected you killed someone." She sighed gently and settled gently on the ground. "But my real news... is that I am expecting."
What a surprise. "Hey, while we're on that topic..." She cast a confused stare in my direction. "I wanted to tell you... I'm also expecting."
Not a lie. Not in the slightest.
Faron and I had kept talking. And then it just - happened. We parted in the morning, and I figured out he'd been messing with me. A gentle consequence, I hoped.
The stars weren't restored, though.
"Starlingheat, that's - that's wonderful. All of them will be raised together - just the two of us." She rested her head on her paws. "How soon, do you think?"
I settled near her. "Right now, I expect... a few weeks."
"Same with me. Is there something else you want to talk about?"
She knows. "Well... you know we're really close, right. And we've done really affectionate stuff."
"Spit it out already."
"O-Okay, well... I just wanted to say I love you. In a not-friends way."
I know I always come and go (And go)But it's out of my control
There was a problem.
Stars still vanished while we were both expecting. Acornblaze noticed it first - the heavily pregnant ginger-brown she-cat I called my friend pointed out the lack of stars underneath a full moon. At the time, I'd shrugged it off. "Maybe it's so bright that it blocks some of the stars."
She'd pressed against me, changing the subject. "So you mentioned... loving me in a non-platonic way?"
My ears burned, and I felt bad talking about it - I hated that I'd confessed to her. "Yeah?"
"Just wanted to say that I return those feelings." My mouth hung wide open and she sighed. "It's - It's just that I didn't want to admit to it. I didn't want to admit I liked you. It's probably why I was so protective of you back in our old home and..." She drifted off, her eyes clouding with sadness. "...and now I'm pregnant again after the emotional wreck I was in, and you are too."
I sighed, feeling the weight on my back. "Look, Acornblaze, I'm happy you return my feelings but be honest with me - how do you feel about those kits you're carrying?"
This really prompted an upset look in her eyes. "Starlingheart, I... I really wish I wasn't in this situation. I don't want to be some breeder's cat -"
"I refuse to let that happen."
"- and I just want to be ordinary, for once." She pressed into my side, sighing sadly. "And now I'll never, ever be normal."
She paused only as the stars faded in the background. Only the moon remained.
And you'll be left in the dustUnless I stuck by ya
The stars were totally gone, and everything went wrong. The tides on the lake shifted. Yells from all around us told us that the Clans had noticed it too. A sudden silence, then -
There it was.
Huge black smoke had choked out the stars. Embers crackled, and cats yowled proclamations of death. A wildfire.
At this point, the stress was too much for Acornblaze, who had yelped in pain when she spotted the fire. The poor queen was kitting, right as we had to run. Wildly I glanced for some shelter.
Shoot, it's gonna kill us both...! Acornblaze, beside me, wasn't doing well - she struggled beside me, and I suddenly realized that she wasn't going to make it out alright.
I shoved her into the core of a lightning-struck tree, and her eyes opened, wide with shock as she moaned with pain. "Why did you -"
"Because," I muttered, "we're at the end."
You're the sunflowerI think your love would be too much
The end of the Clans had been happening, just as Faron had stated. He was incorrect about some aspects - notably, the whole thing about us providing more kits. I realized as Acornblaze screamed that Faron did all she didn't want to; the tom really just wanted us to bear his own.
Acornblaze kept screaming, and through the hole provided, I watched the fire approach.
The fire was fast approaching and Acornblaze's ears perked up. "T-T-That's gonna kill us," she gasped, and I glanced over my shoulder at her. Her eyes were scrunched closed as a spasm shook her again, and she let out a moan. "E-e-even worse, I-I don't know if I'll make it out alive."
I narrowed my eyes and glanced back at her. "Acornblaze," I murmured to her, "I'm so sorry."
"Sorry for what?" She seemed a bit less in pain now than earlier. "You tried your best, Starlingheart. You've worked harder for me than ever in these last few days and... I can't believe it's the end."
"Nor can I, honestly..." Sudden exhaustion hit me, and I remembered, in that moment, that I carried my own kits. "I wanted to say... I love you, Acornblaze. I've never loved anyone more than I love you in this moment."
She scoffed. "Too cheesy. Get out of here," she muttered. "Save yourself while you still can. Show up somewhere and live as a kittypet, even if it means betraying the life you've wanted to live. Let your kits do it."
"What?" I spun on my haunches. "I can't - I can't do that! I-I... I can't do that in my state..."
She opened her mouth to say something, then broke into another moan. Her moans turned to a scream, and I narrowed my eyes at the encroaching flames.
When I angled my head to her, a single kit lay at her side, cinnamon tabby with a sunset glint to its fur. She poked it once and murmured, "A pretty one. There's very little life in it, but it's alive." She glanced up at me again. "You need to get out of here. You can nurse this one, you've almost given birth yourself." She nudged the kit to her side, and a new light to her eyes was visible as she glared. "Get out of here. You need to. For the Clans." She sighed. "If it makes it feel better, do it for us."
Or you'll be left in the dustUnless I stuck by ya
She'd shoved the kit into my mouth as the fire was nearly swallowing us both. When I left her, I glanced over my shoulder just as the flames reached her.
I ran like no tomorrow after that. Nobody had to see what I'd seen.
I approached a Twoleg door sometime later. Acornblaze's poor tomkit had died before I reached there, and I felt awful about it. I'm so sorry, I couldn't save you...
As she entered my mind, I started moaning at the door.
As her voice spoke gently to me, the moaning grew to meowing.
She was my sunflower. She always will be my sunflower.
The Twolegs took me in and cared for me like one of their own, but I always felt like I wasn't enough because of Acornblaze.
Because of her, I named one Sunflower, but nobody called her Sunflower but me and her siblings.
Sunflower looked just like Acornblaze. She was my sunflower, just as her namesake was.
I lost my life due to complications after my experience; partially due to smoke inhalation, exhaustion, and general depression. I haven't gotten over the fact that I couldn't save her.
The spirit world is an odd sight for me to behold. Sunflower and her two siblings are well weaned and the flower knows that I want her to return to the wild, particularly because I told her myself. But I'm here for a few reasons - one, because I'm dead, but another because...
There she is.
"Acornblaze!" I gasp, running up to her and wrapping my tail around her. "My sunflower..."
She stares back with complete love and joy in her eyes. "Starlingheart, I missed you."
"I missed you way too much," I mutter.
"So did I, sunflower."