It was getting late in the day now. His entire body hurt from the rushing back and forth he'd been doing since the beginning of the greencough outbreak in TreeClan. They'd run out of catmint and even chickweed as the illness spread through the Clan. So many sick youngsters, so many coughing cats. They'd been quarantined, but even that didn't seem to be slowing the spread all that much. He'd been going between the medicine den and the quarantine zone all day, fetching things as needed and tending to those that were too sick to get up and tend themselves. Bluejay was one of the sick.
Still, he followed her direction and gotten what was needed for the sick while checking on those left back at camp. At this point, he didn't think he was going to get sick since he'd been exposed long enough without any symptoms showing up. So he made the dash back and forth multiple times. Then came the moment of realization that they were out of the herbs that helped with the spread of the illness. That being so, and there not being enough warriors to spare to go with him, Falconstorm had told Bluejay that he was going to gather herbs and left, running the entire way.
But he'd been running back and forth since the quarantine went into effect and was already pushing himself beyond his limits to get things done for Bluejay. All the while ignoring his exhaustion and just how sore his paws were. But, the Clan came first, and Catmint didn't grow in TreeClan. So he went for StoneClan, for StarClan's claws where he hoped he could find enough of it without crossing into StoneClan's main territory looking. He had to bring some back, they desperately needed it. Chickweed grew in TreeClan territory, but it had already been harvested as he desperately tried to keep up with the influx if sick cats. StarClan spare the queens, at least. Greencough, while one was expecting, could kill both the expectant queen and her unborn litter. That would hurt the entire clan.
He'd brought along a large leaf to keep everything in, and had managed to gather a decent amount when his paws led him towards a familiar place. His exhausted haze barely registered his surroundings as StarClan's Claws, though he had intentionally come here. This had to be where the illness came from, from those that came to the recent gathering.
His body was moving almost on automatic as he sniffed out the herbs he needed, not realizing he'd already swept around to the StoneClan side of the area until his paws started sliding and he took a tumbling roll down a steep hill. The world spun as he got back to his paws, his hard work now scattered down the hill he'd fallen down. "Keep going, warrior, have to bring this home." He told himself softly, trying to get up the hill as he gathered up the herbs his clan desperately needed. But the longer he scaled the hill, the darker his vision became until he felt himself sliding again, this time into an exhausted sort of unconsciousness.
Her day had been... Interesting. After failing to run into Falconstorm at StarClan's Claws mid-morning, the cream and white warrioress had stumbled across Spiderheart in the middle of the Little Woods. The black tom's yellow eyes had been staring up one of the trees, intent on a bee's nest of all things. Honey, for the quarantined cats, he'd said. And then he'd run off to go cover himself in mud! Without any time to question him or find a way out of it, Herondive had followed and, unavoidably, found herself caked from nose to tail tip in mud.
It had been... Strange. But the grand adventure had certainly taken her mind off of everything that had been weighing her down on the walk back from StarClan's Claws. For a short time after, she'd even found herself chuckling quickly. But the novelty, the excitement had all worn off eventually, and Herondive returned to the tasks assigned to all Clan members in hopes of fighting off the spread of greencough in camp. Restless energy had begun trickling into her paws with every task. Upon finishing changing out the bedding in the medicine cat's den, she couldn't take it anymore; she had to go out.
Telling anyone who stopped her that she was going hunting, and preferred to do so alone, the cream and white she-cat set out across the territory at full-pelt, desperate to burn off some of that energy. All thoughts of hunting seemed so far away as she just... Ran. It was hardly surprising to her at this point that she ended up nearing StarClan's Claws. Slowing her pace and drawing in the evening air to recuperate, Herondive winced as the claws marks in her shoulder blades burned from the activity.
Breathing out in a sigh and stepping up to the edge of the incline, Herondive gazed out at the large rock spires known to the Clans as StarClan's Claws. It was peaceful here, and for her it carried... Content memories. Part of her felt guilty beneath that realization, but it was the truth. Eventually, her gaze drifted to the areas nearest her, rather than staring out toward TreeClan's border in hope of seeing a familiar tom. It was here that she saw that very tom, in a collapsed heap on the ground below. With a startled gasp, Herondive threw herself down the hill. "F-Falconstorm!" Her voice cracked and pitched high in a wave of panic like she'd not felt in a long time.
Half-skidding, half-running down the incline into the clearing, the StoneClan warrioress barely managed to avoid the scattered leaves leading up to the TreeClan medicine cat apprentice's unconscious frame. Collapsing to the ground beside him, she pressed her nose into his fur, desperate to roll him over so she could see his features. "Falconstorm? Oh StarClan, Falconstorm, can you h-" Swallowing the lump in her throat, she forced herself to continue. "Can you hear m-me?" Pressing her ear to his side in search of any sign of breathing, Herondive clung desperately to the last morsel of self control, the last shred of calm she still possessed.
He hurt. Oh, StarClan, did he ever hurt. He groaned when he was prodded, though at first didn't wake up. He hurt and he was tired, he just wanted to sleep. Couldn't they see that? Hadn't he worked hard enough for the clan already? Didn't he deserve just a few moments of rest before throwing himself back into the thick of the illness sweeping through the Clan? But then he did roll over, just enough to slide the last few inches down the hill. With a startled gasp he came too, though was too weak to get up at first. Weak and confused and disoriented.
His vision started going dark around the edges again even as he tried to force himself back to his paws. "How did I-" He was cut off as his legs gave under him again and pain rolled through his tired limbs. "Wumf!" He let himself lie there this time, weary blue eyes locked on the she-cat that really made everything he was doing worth the while.
And then he remembered. The herbs! He started trying to get up again. "I have to...get the catmint...so many sick cats I..." His legs wouldn't cooperate with him. "Herondive what am I supposed to do? I need two of me at this point." He kept trying to get up, but the journey here, as well as the past few days of commontion and worry, had taken their toll on his body. The tom needed to rest, and had yet to learn how to manage being a medicine cat and taking care of himself.
She gasped, something akin to relief exploding in her chest as he murmured her name. "Oh S-StarClan." She whispered, her voice thick with a storm of emotion that threatened to break through her defenses. She couldn't even tell where they had come from, only that they were there, and there were real. Her relief disintegrated when Falconstorm tried to get up and failed, crashing back to the ground in a pile of fur and rolling to the base of the hill. Scrabbling after him in a panic, she slid up to the side of him opposite the slope, to offer him something sturdy to lean on.
Or... Partially sturdy. Her limbs trembled under the distress rolling through her in waves, the cream and white she-cat fighting for breath despite being otherwise healthy herself. And then he was trying to get up again, and she pressed her head against his shoulder, muzzle pointed to the ground. "N-No." She stammered uncertainly, before trying again, more firmly this time. "No." When she found the strength to look him in the eyes once more, there was a steely determination behind the watery depths of her gaze. "You need to rest, even just a moment..." She rasped, voice still thick with emotion.
She glanced up at the incline, taking in the scattered leaves once more. She realized now that they were herbs, and that Falconstorm had been carrying them. Taking in a shaky breath, she instinctively leaned forward and rasped her tongue over his shoulder, methodically flattening the fur there. This was part of her coping mechanism; whenever she, or someone she cared about, felt distress, she set herself to grooming. She'd done the same thing for Honeynose and Hazelpaw several times in Leafbare, after sneaking into the apprentices' den when her friends couldn't sleep.
She continued wordlessly for several heartbeats, until her heart had quit beating so rapidly. Once satisfied, she pressed her head back against his shoulder again, murmuring softly to him to mask the unsteadiness of her voice. "Let... Let me help. Please. Rest, and let me help you... You've run yourself to the ground, Falconstorm. I can... I can collect the scattered herbs, bring them back to you... I can even hunt for you. Just... StarClan, you scared me... Please rest. If... If not for you then for your Clan. Or.... or for..."For me. Her voice trailed off before she could finish what she had to say, eyes begging him to listen to her as she pulled her head off his shoulder and met his gaze.
He knew she was right, especially as his vision went in and out of focus and the world swam. He let out a sigh of relief and just let himself rest there, eventually rolling so that he could tuck his paws under him so he'd be comfortable while he regained his strength. "I'm sorry for worrying you." He told the she-cat, leaning into her attentive grooming when she did so rather than snatching away as he probably should have done. But Herondive was safe. He knew that.
"I have no choice but to push myself. Bluejay is very sick and there simply isn't anyone else." He knew he shouldn't be telling her that, but he also knew she wasn't going to tell. He let her grooming continue as long as she wanted to do it, sighing again once she pulled away. "I haven't had the chance to sleep since coming home from the Gathering really. Too much to do." And training both in his waking moments and in his sleep.
But it was her words that really got to him, and Falconstorm ducked his head a little. "I would appreciate your help. I don't need to be hunted for. I've managed to remember to eat at least." Though he'd also been hunting between everything else he had to do right now.
"Herondive...." He leaned enough to butt his head against hers when she made to meet his gaze, turning enough to let his blue eyes catch hers once he'd done so. "I'm sorry for worrying you so much. I guess I've been pushing myself too hard lately."
She couldn't help but press into his touch as he butted his head gently against hers. Brilliant blue eyes met his storm-cloud eyes, and for a moment, for just the smallestbreath... She felt safe. But the reality, the severity of his words and of the situation at paw came crashing down rapidly and she felt herself drowning. Worry and dismay smothered her, crushing her chest and forcing her to fight for even the smallest inhale. Blinking to force back the tears stinging in her eyes, she held his gaze if only so she might lose herself there.
Cream ears were pressed against her skull, and though she was not necessarily a small she-cat, Falconstorm was large enough that she felt the sudden desire to curl up against him and forget the world. "Greencough... It has reached TreeClan too, then? It's in StoneClan... Hawkstar ordered a quarantine to... To try and limit its spread." She rasped, her voice no louder than a soft breeze. Images of her Clanmates, both young and old, collapsing beneath a fit of coughs flashed through her mind; she would not wish that on any Clan, especially not TreeClan if this is what it was doing to Falconstorm. At least the fawn-and-white tom had remembered to eat something amongst the chaos.
She hadn't hesitated in offering to hunt for him, to hunt StoneClan prey for a TreeClan tom. The realization trickled in slowly, and though her heart skipped an initial beat... She didn't care. If Falconstorm had needed it, she would have done it. Closing her eyes for a moment, she let herself relish in his closeness and his comfort. Eventually, she forced her gaze open and straightened herself to a stand, careful to make sure Falconstorm didn't topple over in the process. Glancing up the incline to the herbs she could see, Herondive's tail swished slowly behind her.
"Is... Is that all of it? Or is there more that you need?" She asked him, cream and white paws shifting on the ground below.