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Red

The Last Time | The Lucky One | All Too Well | Red | State of Grace | Everything Has Changed | Starlight | I Almost Do | Twenty-Two | Treacherous | I Knew You Were Trouble | We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together | Stay Stay Stay | Holy Ground | Sad Beautiful Tragic | Begin Again

Part of the Songfic Series

OA is Taylor Swift ft. Gary Lightbody

Written by Red

The Last Time

Found myself at your door

Just like all those times before

I sighed. 

Coming back from the moonhigh patrol, the camp was completely silent. Forestheart had quickly made his way to the special cave reserved for the deputy beside Bramblepath's den, and Aquasplash had already retired to the warriors' den. Through the shafts of moonlight filtering into the camp from between the leaves of the trees illuminated Shimmerpaw's silver fur as she slipped into the apprentices' den across the clearing. 

Inside the warriors' den, I knew he was curled up, his golden-brown tabby fur fluffed out around him, his stormy eyes closed. Probably curled up with Sunleaf, the two cozying up to each other in the darkness. I didn't want to go in there, not if I had to see them, together.

I pushed through the lichen curtain, and settled on an empty nest just near the exit. The wind buffeted my fur, but I  only tucked my tail tighter around my nose and didn't move.

I’m not sure how I got there

All roads they lead me here

I could hear stirring behind me, but I didn't close my eyes or turn to look at who was moving. I kept my gaze firmly planted on the gently blowing curtain of lichen, similar to the one obstructing my view, hanging over the entrance to the apprentices' den. I could see a dark shape, most likely Shimmerpaw, moving around, looking for a comfortable spot.

"Redpoppy?"

It was his voice. I closed my eyes, feigning sleep. It was funny, how much I liked him, and yet when he actually talked to me, I pretended I wasn't awake. I didn't want to talk to him, it was one of those love-at-a-distance things. I didn't want him to know I loved him, I didn't want him to talk to me, but at the same time, I yearned for it. I wanted his words, his assurance, I wanted to see the sparkle behind his dark eyes. But I wouldn't. Not in the way I wanted, I'd only see the glimmer after a joke, never when he just wanted to look at me. That was reserved for Sunleaf, the one he loved. The only one. 

I imagine you are home

In your room, all alone

I heard him sigh and return to his nest, his movements awakening Sunleaf. The she-cat's silky voice, obstructed by sleep, asked what was wrong, and Stormfall's low voice assured her it was nothing. I could hear the doubt in his voice, however, which provided me with a small measure of satisfaction. 

The night passed slowly, time ticking past at the pace of an ant.

When morning came, it was to find me passed out of sleep deprivation at the mouth of the den, my breathing steady and even, my eyes closed. I was curled around myself, my tail covering my eyes. I remembered the sympathetic clucks from the older warriors as they padded out past me, none bothering to wake me from my stupor. 

Until Stormfall emerged.

And you open your eyes into mine

And everything feels better

I opened my eyes to the sight of his face in front of me, his dark blue eyes alight with a glow reminiscent of the sinking of the sun, an event long past. He drew back, a smile curling across his lips, looking cheerful. His scent enveloped me, warm, mixed with an emotion I associated with the adrenaline before battle. His lips drawn back over icy white teeth in a smile.

An emotion similar to the sensation of honey sliding down my throat washed over me, and I blushed.

"H-Hey," I stammered, suddenly nervous, as though the very presence of the tom I had crushed on since my late apprenticeship made me tremble. Stormfall just smiled, patting my shoulder with his tail and bounding off to the fresh-kill pile, where an all-too familiar she-cat was waiting for him.

Right before your eyes

I’m breaking, no past

My heart plummeted to my stomach. 

I despised the natural emotion flooding through my mind, the jealousy that swelled whenever I caught sight of the canoodling couple. Of all of the toms who were falling for her, it had to be Stormfall whose love Sunleaf had to return. Granted, it was no mystery why anyone fell for her; she was the epitome of beautiful. Sleek fur the color of her namesake, the sun, and bright green eyes, a tom would have to be blind not to fall in love with her. And Sunleaf's choice of Stormfall wasn't much of an enigma either, I guess.

He was basically her male counterpart. In looks, personality, everything. They were made for each other, destined by StarClan.

And here I am, plain old Redpoppy who can't scratch a cat to save her life.

No reasons why

Just you and me

"Hey, Redpoppy, patrol, okay?"

"Yeah. I mean, of course, Forestheart! I'll be there in a moment, just let me get a piece of prey, I haven't erm...eaten, yet.." I flashed the irate deputy an apologetic smile and hurried towards the pile of fresh-kill, eyes scanning the camp for signs of Stormfall and his patrolling schedule. I spotted Cloudpaw grinning and joining Forestheart along with his mentor, Bramblestar. 

And then, like the cliche elder's tale my life is, I felt myself crashing into a wall of lean muscle and warm fur. 

And soon ensuing was the smack of my head against the dusty floor of camp. Instantly, the cats loitering around the fresh-kill pile were at my side, Coldfoot, the medicine cat, bending over me and already beginning to check my pulse. Rainsplash was gathered with a few of the other warriors, looking worried, and I could see Forestheart looking torn between amusement and disapproval. 

This is the last time I’m asking you this

Put my name at the top of your list

"I'm fine," I snapped. "Coming, Forestheart."

I pushed through the concerned mass of hot breath and fur to tag along at the gray warrior's heels. He shot me a half-amused glance, as though he didn't have time for crazy warrior antics, but was entertained nonetheless. I quickened my pace to a trot as Forestheart raced through the trees, calling a teasing joke back to Bramblestar, who was panting to keep up on slightly shorter legs. Her apprentice sprinted along beside her, his white paws barely skimming the earthy forest floor.

The thrum of paws interruped our patrolling, and Forestheart and I looked up to see Stormfall thundering into the small clearing, paws sending dirt flying in all directions. My heart lifted as Cloudpaw flicked a scrap of moss off of his pelt and glared at the tom, who spoke in low, rushed tones.

This is the last time I’m asking you why

You break my heart in the blink of an eye, eye, eye

"...she's been hurt," he choked, his blue eyes wide with desparation and his voice a gravelly gasp. "Fox. By the border..."

Bramblestar took initiative, sending Cloudpaw streaking back towards camp for Coldfoot, his pelt flashing through the forest like a hyperactive cloud. Forestheart was a dark gray blur bolting through the trees in the opposite direction, scouting ahead for the fox. Bramblestar gestured for Stormfall to take the lead, and he did so, his strong hindlegs propelling him forward even though his breath came in ragged gasps. 

"Around this bend," he panted, his dark eyes smoldering with a mixture of relief and fearful anticipation. We rounded the corner to the scene, amidst a loud growl. A streak of russet fur and a flash of dark gray, a pelt color I'd seen moments before.

You find yourself at my door

Just like all those times before

"StarClan!" I whispered. Forestheart was facing off with two foxes, his skinny tail flat against the ground, his ears pressed against his head. His lips were drawn back in a snarl, but the older deputy looked absolutely terrified, something dark flickering behind his eyes. 

A golden shape lay splayed on the edge of the clearing, but sensing a slow rise and fall of the she-cat's chest, Bramblestar directed her attention to the immediate threat - the small vixen and her full-grown male cub, both of which were snarling, blood staining their white muzzles, both looking hungry for another meal of Clan cat. I suppressed a spark of fear, and at the signal from Bramblestar, let out a yowl and launched myself at the vixen, while Bramblestar battered the cub.

All seemed to be going well; though we were two warriors down, we still had our leader and deputy and a fully-trained warrior. 

You wear your best apology

But I was there to watch you leave

I felt my claws sink into fur and skin, and felt warm blood running down over my paws. I was half-blinded by a blow to the head, but was quickly regaining my vision as I raked my claws across the vixen's face. Blood dripped into her eyes, and she let out a fearsome snarl. Raising one slender black paw, I saw the shine of her silver claws in the sunlight before she was swatting at the side of my head. She never hit her mark, however, for I ducked, tucked my head in to my chest, and rolled, curling into a tight ball and dodging her strike. She spun around, clearly furious, and that was when I knew I was in trouble.

Forestheart was limping towards Stormfall, blood pouring in torrents down his flank and pooling around his paws, and he sank to his feet just beside Sunleaf, who had been revived by her mate. The two warriors, the deputy and she-cat, began to limp back to camp. Stormfall cast an anxious glance back at them, then fled towards Bramblestar, who was pinned up against a tree while the other fox battered at her already-weakening body.

In the second I spared a glance towards my Clanmates, the vixen slipped under my guard and cuffed the side of my head with an ear-shattering blow. I was brought to the ground, my paws sinking into the soft earth, hearing the world reverberate around me. 

And all the times I let you in

Just for you to go again

"Redpoppy," he whispered, having sent the vixen spinning away with two long scratches down her flanks, "I'm sorry, StarClan, where was I?" 

The situation, had I been fully conscious and not bleeding excessively from my stomach, probably would have been heartwarming and ended up in entire embarrassment on my part, but I was not fully conscious, nor was the blood pooling beneath my stomach staunched in any way. I saw Stormfall leaning above me, in a dreamlike state, his dark eyes wide with worry. 

"Sunleaf," he called behind him, and the she-cat hobbled into view, a wad of cobwebs wrapped around her stiff right foreleg, but looking otherwise unharmed. "How are we going to get her back? I think...I think she's dying, Sunleaf."

Disappear when you come back

Everything is better

I remember the dizzying sensation of being supported by Bramblestar and Stormfall, and being buoyed back to camp on the shoulders of my Clanmates. I was conscious of the stiff, bloodstained pelt of my friends beneath me, and Sunleaf's concerned glances from the rear of the group, stumbling because of her ankle. 

"You're going to be all right, Redpoppy," Bramblestar said, her voice barely penetrating my stupor of pain. "You're going to be all right." The rhythmic bump of Bramblestar's steady shoulders was strangely dizzying, and Stormfall's erratic walk did nothing to help me. I felt as though I was falling, slipping from their backs and hitting the dirt, and they were padding on without me, I was lying here, behind them, they weren't going to come back, they weren't going to--!

"Shh," Stormfall was next to me. "Redpoppy, you will be all right." But that was the thing about Stormfall. His eyes always betrayed his emotions, and I knew in an instant that I would not be all right. I could barely comprehend the thought that I was going to die, right here, in the middle of the forest, with Stormfall next to me. Small comfort.

Right before your eyes

I’m aching, run fast

And then, in the span of a single moment, I was free.

Though the world had darkened around me, I could see as well as in daylight. I felt my limbs unfolding fluidly, and I rose to my feet, stretching. My paws were firmly planted in the dirt, my head felt balanced on my shoulders, no longer lolling to one side. I was capable of doing anything I wanted. Just to prove my point to the somnolent Stormfall, still gazing, distraught, at the place where I had lain, I hurtled to the nearest tree and flung myself at the trunk, never minding that the first branch was tail-lengths above my head.

My claws seemed to cling to the branches, and I let out a yowl of excitement. "Look, Stormfall!" I shouted, turning my head to look at him. His eyes were still focused on the spot where I had been before this newfound freedom...only that spot wasn't empty, no..

There was a small russet body curled up beneath Stormfall's eyes.

Nowhere to hide

Just you and me…

And then I vanished from the tree, then I was back in the crippled body lying curled at Stormfall's feet. The invalid deserving not of love, but of shame and pity. The half-dead she-cat who only brought tears rolling down cheeks instead of the enthusiastic and congratulatory mews. No battle was fought without a price. But it was such a burden to be the price.

I cracked open my eyes again. Stormfall's own were still trained on me, closing with finality, acceptance, and something that flickered behind the smallest sliver of blue that looked like disappointment.

"Stormfall?" I whispered. "Don't...be...disappointed..." It took all the breath I had left in my body, and it left me like a whoosh of air, like the jarring impact of fur and muscle on water, from a drop of hundreds of tail-lengths. Like the thud of a body against the sturdy trunk of a tree, a tree who had never moved, ever, except to sway in the wind, and was hoped to move by the smack of a cat. I felt myself grabbing for breath, wasting my energy, searching for air to inhale.

This is the last time I’m asking you this

Put my name at the top of your list

"Oh, Redpoppy," he replied, his voice next to a mere breath of air. "Don't ever think I'm--I'm not disappointed in you, I swear to StarClan. I should've been there though, it's my honor as a warrior to defend my Clanmates, and--and I failed that."

I realized, somewhat disconcertingly, that that was all he thought of me as. A fellow warrior, a Clanmate, that was it. Sunleaf was his world, his sun, his love, his one and only, and I was just a burden, a reverent follower who idolized him. I was a Clanmates, a cat whose life is to be saved, but not to be illuminated. A plain old she-cat with hopes higher than the trees in the forest. A she-cat pining after a gorgeous tom with a gorgeous mate, probably bearing gorgeous kits.

I was just...me.

"...but the thing is," he said, his voice firmer now. "Redpoppy...I love you."

This is the last time I’m asking you why

You break my heart in the blink of an eye, eye, eye…

But that was possibly the worst thing he could have said.

I know I spent my time complaining that Stormfall always loved Sunleaf, and he'd never love a plain old she-cat like me. But in those last few moments, when Stormfall was telling me how beauitful was, how much I had always meant to him, there was a part of me, a very large part, that knew what he was saying he was saying out of pity. If he loved me, why had he chosen this moment, when I was taking my last breaths, to tell me? What had been the point of all of the affectionate words and nudges from Stormfall to Sunleaf, right in my plain vision? 

It wasn't heartwarming to hear him say this to me in my death-nest. It didn't make my heart swell.

It made my heart break.

This is the last time you tell me I’ve got it wrong

This is the last time I say it’s been you all along

Everything was already going a dizzying shade of gray, and I felt my consciousness slipping, I felt as though I could see cats stepping from the stars, cats with pelts shades of silver I never could have imagined, with eyes like shafts of moonlight. Curling tails and beautiful fur, they were coming to greet me, no--they were coming to take me.

"No, no, no," I cried, an attitude mimicked by Stormfall. He was scrambling away from me, leaping at the bases of tree trunks in search of leaves, cobwebs, anything, but the forest floor was bare. He let out a yowl of anguish, hurling himself at the thick trunk of an oak and merely bouncing off in the process. He extened his claws and shredded the tiny weeds scattered around the old fallen log a ways off, then gave a start, gathered them up in his jaws, and raced over to me, patting them around my stomach. I could barely feel them, though, but one gave a little prick and I let out a feeble groan. 

"Redpoppy," Stormfall said, his voice growing desparate, "Redpoppy!"

This is the last time I let you in my door

This is the last time, I won’t hurt you anymore

The first time is always the last.

The first time I got a glimpse of StarClan cats as a living cat - that would be the last. I would soon be joining them, anyhow. The first time Sunleaf became my friend - that was the last. She would probably never return to me, not as a friend, only as a bearer of pity, burying her nose in my stiff fur as if she still cared. And the first time Stormfall told me he loved me...

...that would be the most final 'last' of my entire life.

Oh, oh, oh,

This is the last time I’m asking you this

"Redpoppy! Redpoppy? Redpoppy! Redpoppy, can you hear me?" Frantic voices, blocking the paths of the StarClan cats, bodies, thick, hot, fast around me, swirling like the unyielding current of the river, fierce, tumultuous, yowling, screaming, prodding my stomach. The pain, returning, boiling hot, furious, ripping a loud, fur-raising shriek from my throat and making me convulse as the cats crowded around. 

"Shh, Redpoppy," one of them soothed. I could hardly hear him, the pain--

And then it was gone. Gone with the swallow of eight seeds down my throat, brining instant darkness and peacefulness. There was no more pain, no dreams, all I could think of was the peaceful rocking...back...and forth...like a cat no longer torn apart by the current, but buoyed by a gentle force, taking a gentle trip down the river...

Put my name at the top of your list

This is the last time I’m asking you why

I could see them, lining up in front of me. Cats of all sizes, colors, physiques. A tiny golden she-cat with dark cream tabby stripes crisscrossing her back and a mangled front paw. A sturdy black-and-white tom stood beside her, with an ear sliced right down to the base and bright, leaf-green eyes. A she-cat stepped up between them, with thick russet fur and a white paw. Green eyes that glowed like the stars on a clear Greenleaf night and a bright smile.

And beside the last, a brilliant golden-brown tabby tom with eyes like a roiling storm. He gave the she-cat a lick on the cheek as two kits frolicked around their feet, chasing their parents' tails, pinning their tails beneath tiny, fuzzy paws. The she-cat smiled affectionately at her offspring, one of which shared the same pelt, but his father's eyes. 

Stormfall. Stormfall, me. Kits. 

Kits.

You break my heart in the blink of an eye

This is the last time I’m asking you this

Darkness. Darkness and voices, a black, yawning void of nothing. All I could hear was the frantic fussing somewhere to my left, a tom's voice from the sound of it. The patter of pawsteps, and then a paw on my stomach, sending sharp, stabbing pains up my belly. As everything materialized and I opened my eyes, I was aware of a furious, blood-boiling pain ripping through my body, the sensation of which nearly made me lose consciousness again.

There was Coldfoot, bent over me, applying a salve and pultice mixture to my blood-encrusted stomach, and then there was Sunleaf.

Stormfall was bent over his mate, curled around her fragile, shaking body, creating a living, breathing cocoon. His golden-brown tabby fur blended so nicely with her sunny golden one, both had their eyes closed, though Stormfall's voice was coming slow and fast from his lips, merely a breath stirring the fur on Sunleaf's face. A smile curled her face at his words, and I felt a sickening pain in my stomach that had nothing to do with my wound.

Put my name at the top of your list

This is the last time I’m asking you why

I winced suddenly, and Coldfoot noticed the clenching of my muscles, and cast a golden-eyed glance up at me. "Ah, you're awake!" she declared briskly. This jerked Stormfall and Sunleaf from their affectionate, lovestricken stupor, and Stormfall leapt to his feet, hurrying over to me. Awkwardly loitering beside me, he mumbled,

"You've...er...recovered well."

"I know," I said coldly, recovering my voice and glowering at him. Just because I'd been unconscious for StarClank knows how long didn't mean my memory was damaged. And I recalled everything he had said, every word. Especially the last three.

I love you, he had said.

You break my heart in the blink of an eye

This is the last time I’m asking you

I love you.

"You don't get it, do you?" I said, my voice trembling. My unfit state had an effect on my voice, my appearance, but my mind was perfectly fine. My thoughts were crystal-clear. I knew what I wanted to say. And I was going to say it. No matter how many stutters or trip-ups, Stormfall needed to know that he couldn't toy with my emotions any longer. 

Sensing this was a private moment, Coldfoot retreated into her tiny rock cave where she stored her medicine. I returned my attention to Stormfall. "Do you remember what you said? The last words you said last night?" At his blank expression, I steeled myself to say them. "Don't you remember them? Or have you said them so often, that telling someone you love them doesn't make a difference?"

Last time I’m asking you

Last time I’m asking you this...

"But Redpoppy," he said, his voice lower than a breath of air, "I...I don't..."

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