Explanation

Hello! This is a songfic by Lynx. The song is "When the Chips Are Down" from the Hadestown musical.

Dear gosh, I have reformatted this so many times, like... aa-

Song

Life ain't easy, 

Life ain't fair

"Sparrow?" I chirped, trying to put energy into my voice. My mother looked down at me wearily. "Yes, Mouse?" I puff with pride at the name, then wince as it sends a pang through my stomach. "I'm hungry." Her eyes cloud with sadness and she closes them. "I'm sorry, Mouse." "When will Jet be back? He has to have so much prey, he's been gone for a few days now!"

My mother sighed, opening her eyes. She stared at me, and grimaced. "Mouse, Jet isn't coming back." I stare at her, uncomprehending. "What?" "Your father left," She snaps harshly, turning away from me.

The world seemed to stop. There was no color, no emotion. "Why? Why did he leave us?" I asked, whimpering. My mother didn't look at me when she answered. "Sometimes, toms don't commit." "That isn't fair!" I wailed. "Life isn't fair." My mother growled, staring at the tree on the far side of the clearing.

A girl's gotta fight for her rightful share

The rabbit started to run, and I felt a spurt of adrenaline rush through me as I chased it down the moor. The wind blew into my face and I relished the cool feel on my sun-soaked fur. I was aware I was leaving my territory into the no-man's land, but it was just that: no man's land. If I caught it, it was mine.

The rabbit unwittingly dashed towards a river, seeming to realize at the last second it couldn't swim. That moment of hesitation was all I needed. I pounced- and missed. Someone else got there first. The tom sunk their teeth into the rabbit's spine, and I heard the snap. I pulled up short, glaring at him.

He chuckled. "No man's land, remember?" I growled. "I chased it onto here." He raised an eyebrow. "So?" "So, it's mine." He shook his head. "I caught it." "Then I challenge you for it." H

e unsheathed his claws. "This should be easy." I didn't look it, but I was fast.

"Yeah," I agreed. "It should be." He laughed again. "Cocky, are we?" I dove under him, pummeling him with unsheathed claws. I could sense he was about to try to flatten me, so I scurried out. He snarled at me. "I've got good reason," I snipped. Growling, he retreated. I hurried forward, snatching up the rabbit in my jaws triumphantly.

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

"I have an offer for you," The cat in front of me purred. I stood stiffly, eyes following him as he circled me. "Oh?" I asked, curiosity itching at my paws. "Yes. All you have to do... is kill a cat." Blood pounded in my ears. "And what do I get if I do it?" I couldn't believe I was seriously considering it.

"Freedom." I stared at him. "What do you mean?" "You get to live in a group where others hunt for you. Where others take care of you. Where you live in safety." I raised my eyebrows. "Huh. And where would I find a group such as that one?"

The tom smiled malevolently. "Well, you'd need to kill her first." It's a her, I thought. My eagerness dimmed. "And who, may I ask, is this mysterious 'her'?" He chuckled. "She's no one, really. Just a passer-by." I nodded, unconvinced. "Mm." He blinked slowly, attracting my attention to a scar raking his left eye. "Think about it," He purred, and then he seemed to disappear.

Help yourself, to heck with the rest

even the one who loves you best. 

"Don't do this!" My mother cried. I growled, eyes mere slits. "What have you ever done for me?" I snarled at her angrily. She backed up, eyes wide. "I'm sorry, Mouse! I'm so sorry!" I unsheathed my claws. "Spare me of your groveling. You never deserved my father!" My voice rose an octave higher. "Mouse..." Tears trickled down Sparrow's face. "Your father ran off with another she-cat." I froze. "What did you say?" I demanded angrily. 

"It's true," She mumbled. "He told me. To my face. And I saw her." Emotions flooded me, a mix, and I was a canvas, for red-hot emotions to splatter me and black anger to pool at my paws. "You're lying!" I snarled. She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Mouse. But I'm not." 

"Was she pretty?" The question burst out of me like a breaking dam, and I watched her, face expressionless. My claws raked the ground in front of me as I waited. She swallowed hard, and nodded. "She was. Very." My features contort into an expression of rabid hate. Those words will be her last. I leap at her and sink my teeth into her throat.

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

"Did you do it?" He asked seriously. I dipped my head. "Yes." He sneered. "Did she scream?" "No." I said, gritting my teeth. He rolled his eyes. "You should have made her scream." I scream in rage and launch myself at him, pinning him down. He throws me off easily, muscles rippling beneath his pelt.

He leered. "C'mon, mouse-heart." I snarl, charging once again. I catch him off guard and rake my claws down his underbelly. "Is this how you like to kill?" He asked me weakly, stirring slightly. "I like to see the light fade from their eyes." I snarled, ripping my claws through his throat. 

He gurgled, eyes still open, and then doesn't move again. I lost any chance I had at joining his civilation, but I knew better than anyone he was lying. But I needed an excuse to kill my mother. I didn't want it to be my own descision. Even though it really was.

Oh, my aching heart

I thought of my father as I stood on the hill where I once chased a rabbit. The way his eyes crinkled when he laughed. How he and my mother had shared gentle touches and inside jokes. Were they all lies? Was he nothing but a dishonest, lying demon in the shape of a cat? And would I turn out like him?

Sparrow had said I was so much like him. The again, he wasn't a murderer. Just a heartbreaker, so he had probably ended up better. I stared at the marks in the dirt. Seven marks. For the moons that passed since my mothers death. For all the cats I had killed. 

Sparrow was the first. Then Tiger. A black she-cat who fought me over a mouse. A white tom who I drowned. And three kits who's mother I murdered in front of their eyes. Seven. I was an awful person. I was in so deep the only way out was to dive in deeper. My eyes swam with the ghosts of my past as I ran down the hill again. I was a killer. And the scary part was that I enjoyed it.

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

What you gonna do when the chips are down, now that the chips are down?

"Mouse?" I saw his eyes widen in shock. "Hello, Ollo." I said stiffly. "What are you doing here?" He hissed. "I thought we agreed-" "Any and all agreements we made disintegrated the day you ran away." Ollo didn't have the decency to look down.

"Sparrow lost it!" "At least I tried to get her back together!" I screamed. Ollo stared at me coldly. "Look, is there something you need from me?" He asked dully. I took a deep breath. "Just wanted to see my brother,'' I smirked.

He rolled his eyes. "What do you want, Mouse?" "Shut up, Ollo," I snapped. His eyes flashed. "Just like old times, eh?" I stifled a mreow of amusement. "Maybe." "Mouse..." He sighed. "What happened to Sparrow?"

It isn't seven notches anymore. It's almost twice that. "She died." I whispered. He sits down. "How?" I shake my head. "I - She was killed." Ollo raised an eyebrow. "You killed her?" The blood drained from my face. "How did you-"

He sighed. "It's obvious. Good job." I stared at him. "You're okay with it?" He nodded. "She went crazy, remember? She tried to kill you," Ollo pointed out. I sighed. I had no choice. I unsheathed my claws and lunged.

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