Catching Up [Ashpaw & Rushwhisker] Aug 19, 2016 0:52:02 GMT -5
Post by Zeneka on Aug 19, 2016 0:52:02 GMT -5
The night after her reunion with her mother, Ashpaw moved into the medicine den, sleeping in one of the nests that Ottersplash kept up in case some cat needed to spend the night due to illness or injury. They decided to keep her nest on the edge of the warrior's den in tact, for when she was ready to come back to it. It was much quieter in the medicine den, with only Ottersplash there, in a far, sheltered corner. Rushwhisker sat and talked with her in a hushed voice until the moon rose high in the sky, explaining about what happened after Razorstar died and how Swanfeather refused to take Timberstar to the Moon Tree for her nine lives and split the Clan.
At long last she asked Rushwhisker to tell him what HE had been up to since she left, but with a glance at the moon he had pushed to his paws and promised to tell her tomorrow. He was on dawn patrol and wanted to get some sleep in. He offered to stay with her, but she shook her head, saying she liked it the way it was for now and he should go back to the warriors' den. As he padded away, she wondered when she might start doing warrior duties. Or... would they be apprentice duties? She had never completed her training, after all... but she certainly felt every bit a warrior. She had survived the mountains on her own, after all. She had used what little knowledge she had learned as an apprentice and built the rest up herself. She had had countless mentors, and been her own as well. But then... with Timberstar sick, she wasn't sure the old she-cat was up for a ceremony, even if she agreed and thought she deserved her warrior name. And she didn't want to push it, not with everything else that was going on. What did a name or what jobs she did for the Clan matter compared to the grand scheme of things? Besides, she did still need to get used to Clan life again, so maybe being an apprentice was appropriate for now.
She fell asleep thinking about Eelpebble and the time the two of them had spent together that day. It seemed like Eelpebble genuinely believed she had never left, only that she had never visited. She played along, not sure what else to do. She made up excuses. She lied. In the end her mother seemed satisfied, seemed happy. Eelpebble had licked her between the ears before she left and made her promise once more that she would visit every day from now on, and that she would be a warrior soon. She understood now why Rushwhisker had had such a hard time describing what was wrong with their mother. It wasn't like anything Ashpaw had ever seen or heard of before.
When she woke the next morning, she went straight to the freshkill pile to pick up a fish and take it to Eelpebble for them to share. She had forgotten how much she loved the taste of fish. There had been little chance to catch any in the mountains, but for the rare instances she came across a mountain stream. To be honest, she wasn't even that great of a fisher. Hunting land and sky prey had been far more important in the mountains. And fish always reminded her of home and left a bitter taste in her mouth. Now she could enjoy it again. She told her mother how she was going to practice her fishing that day as they ate together and Eelpebble seemed pleased that she was 'finally taking her training seriously'.
When she finally left the elder's den, Rushwhisker was returning from the dawn patrol and made his way over to her. “Hey, care to take another walk with me? I can catch you up on my life at last,” he laughed.
With a soft purr, she nodded and followed him out of camp, “Actually... could you help me with my fishing skills today? We can still talk, of course, I just... I never really got that good at fishing before I left, and there wasn't much chance to practice in the mountains. I should probably learn to be a proper fisher, now that I'm back.”
He brightened, “That's a great idea. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it quickly.”
He headed toward the river and quiet fell between them for a time. Finally Ashpaw laughed, “So, your life's been that boring, has it?”
He looked surprised, “Hm? Oh! Sorry... I almost forgot I was supposed to be telling you about it.” He laughed as well as she fell into step beside him. Now that she was back, it almost seemed like she hadn't left when it was just the two of them out here, enjoying each other's company, “Well... I have an apprentice now.”
Ashpaw laughed again, “Well that's now. I suppose we can work backwards. When do I get to meet them?”
She noticed how Rushwhisker seemed to brighten as he started talking, “Her name is Frozenpaw. She looks a lot like Icepaw, actually, but her eyes are green. She's deaf as well. Training her has been such a challenge, but its so rewarding, watching her grow into the warrior I know she can be. She's so kind and sweet... she reminds me so much of Icepaw.”
Ashpaw stepped closer so their fur was brushing, purring at how happy he seemed about his apprentice, “I can't wait to meet her.”
Rushwhisker's whiskers twitched, “She was there in the crowd when you first came back to camp, but there were so many cats there you probably didn't notice. Oh, you could help me with her training! I'm trying to get as many cats involved as I can.”
Ashpaw's ears twitched, “Are you sure? I'm... not even a warrior.”
He flicked her with his tail, “Not in name, anyway. But that doesn't matter. Every cat's suggestions are welcome.”
“I'd be happy to help, if I can,” she mewed. A comfortable silence fell between them then and she gave her brother a moment to decide what he might want to tell her next.
Suddenly his ears perked and he looked at her excitedly, “Oh! I can't wait to introduce you to Bluejay! I never thought she'd ever get to meet you. I'm sure you two will get along really well. She's so wonderful, Ashpaw.”
Ashpaw blinked at him, “Bluejay? Who is that? Was she in the crowd as well?”
Rushwhisker shook his head, “No, no... she's TreeClan's medicine cat....” He trailed off, realizing suddenly how strange this must sound. His ears flicked uncertainly and he cast a wary glance over at Ashpaw, who was staring at him with confusion clear on her face.
“Rushwhisker... WHY are you so excited for me to meet TreeClan's medicine cat?” she asked incredulously. He stared pointedly ahead again and didn't answer immediately. Her eyes grew wide, “Rushwhisker... you haven't....” She pushed forward and blocked his path, made him stop and look at her. When their eyes met, she thought he saw defiance in him.
“We're only friends, Ashpaw,” he said firmly, “We had feelings for each other, but we broke it off. We're both loyal to our Clans and to the Warrior Code.”
She gaped at him, “You fell in love with another Clan's medicine cat!?”
He looked flustered for a moment, “She wasn't a medicine cat when I met her, just a normal warrior apprentice! And we ended things before she even became a medicine cat apprentice! You don't even know her, Ashpaw. If you did, you would understand. We just... she understood me like no other cat ever did. She had a sister with a disability too. She lost her father and other sister to greencough and her mother pushed Pinkpaw away just like Whitewater pushed Icepaw away. We understood each other, and we....” At last he trailed off, looking down at his paws and away from his sister's wide, shocked eyes.
After a long silence stretched out between them, Ashpaw finally sighed, “At least you had the sense not to follow through with it.” As he looked back up at her, she noticed his fur rising defensively and shook her head, “Rushwhisker, I'm proud of you for the choice you made. I've never been in love, so I won't pretend like I know what it's like. But I'm sure it must have been very hard for you. I'm just sorry I wasn't here to help you through it.”
He forced his fur flat once more, closing his eyes, “Honestly... it's still hard....” He ducked his head slightly, looking up at her, “She helped me through so much, Ashpaw.... It's so hard to let her go. Every time I see her I just....”
Ashpaw flicked her tail briskly, turning to get them moving again, “Perhaps you should start looking to your own Clan for that love and understanding she gave you. Don't you think?” She glanced back at him expectantly, “I mean, come on Rushwhisker... you've lived here all this time and no RainClan she-cats have caught your eye?”
He winced, as if even thinking about being with another she-cat was painful, “Not really....”
She gave an exasperated sigh, “Not really. That just means you haven't even been looking. I bet if you opened your eyes to the fact that other she-cats exist besides this... Bluejay... then you'd be able to find some cat in RainClan just as good, if not better.”
Rushwhisker felt himself becoming defensive again, biting back the urge to insist that there was no cat who could ever be as good for him as Bluejay. Part of him thought that was true, however... and the other part desperately hoped it wasn't. He wanted a family, a mate and kits of his own. He would never have that with Bluejay. He sighed, resigned, feeling that she was right. There were plenty of wonderful she-cats in RainClan, he had just been blind to them so far. He felt resistant to the idea of looking for some other cat to be his mate, however. It somehow felt like he was betraying Bluejay and everything they had been to each other. Even entertaining the idea was making him feel sick with guilt. Ashpaw's tail flicking his nose had him jolting, looking up at her again.
“Just try, won't you? Keep an open mind, and open heart. I bet there are plenty of she-cats keeping their eye on you,” she purred, teasing. She could see how much pain this TreeClan she-cat had caused him and wanted nothing more than to help him heal and move on from her. Preferably with a cat in his own Clan, one that wouldn't force him to break the Warrior Code or break his heart. She could hardly believe he had fallen in love with a cat from another Clan. She wondered how they had even met, how they had come to spend so much time together that they had fallen in love, but she felt it would be better not to ask. Best to leave that in the past so Rushwhisker could better focus on his future in RainClan. She most certainly wanted to meet this Bluejay, though. If she was still leading her brother on somehow, she would have some pretty strong words for her. Her tail lashed once behind her before Rushwhisker padded up beside her and she looked over at him.
“I can't promise anything... but I'll try,” he murmured.
She gave him a soft smile, “That's all I'm asking.” She licked his cheek, “Just try.”