So many times it happens too fast You trade your passion for glory
It felt weird, avoiding a cat. Finchcloud had looked in on Gorsetail in the days he'd been unconscious, but now that he was awake and... different... he wasn't sure how to react. He was still Gorsetail, but that NightClan leader's attack had hurt something inside him and he wasn't the same Gorsetail Finchcloud knew. He'd watched, hovering but out of the way, as the older tom had recovered well enough to leave Falconstorm's den and made his new nest in the elders' den. The respect and affection he'd felt- they were still there, because this was still the cat who he had trained under and come to know so well, but there was also hesitation as he watched Gorsetail struggle even to say words right.
Finchcloud wanted to visit him, but he wasn't sure how- and so he'd turned to pestering Ivyclaw every chance he could, to come with him on the visit- Gorsetail had mentored her, too, and maybe she could help. Somehow. He didn't know.
With a mouse in his jaws and a hopeful attempt at his usual exuberant step, Finchcloud headed for the tabby, whisking his tail in silent greeting before setting the mouse down and edging it forward with a paw. "Hi, Gorsetail. I hope you don't mind- we wanted to see you." He cast a glance back over his shoulder, checking that Ivyclaw was still there behind him, and then turned forward again. "It's a nice day, right? The rain helped cool it down a lot."
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past You must FIGHT just to keep them ALIVE
He lay there in the silence of the elder’s den with his eyes closed, as if he could will himself to sleep by wishing hard enough. It had, he was somewhat ashamed to admit, become something of a pastime for him. Swandive and Whiteclaw were pleasant enough company – the former had a dry sense of humor that had him cracking a smile even on his worst days – but their conversations never lasted long. Every time he opened his mouth, his words failed to rise to the occasion, and they were all brutally reminded of what had happened. It was exhausting and emotionally draining, and though he knew intellectually that it was important to keep trying to communicate, he just found it harder and harder as the days stretched on. He oscillated between days where he rallied himself, tried his hardest to improve, and those where he opted for silence, moments of weakness when he felt as though the world was caving in around him.
The damage was permanent – that much they all knew – but whether or not his status could improve with time remained to be seen. By the time Falconstorm had released him to the elder’s den (and Lionstar had released him from his duties as deputy – he did his best not to remember that particular conversation), they had a decent grasp of his limitations. Though he was sound of mind, he was not sound of body and leadership was out of the question. It was the logical decision. It made sense, and Pumafang was a good choice. But the rationalizations did nothing to soothe the raw bitterness and disappointment and grief that lurked nastily in his gut. On some days, he wanted to rage against the unfairness of life, to curse StarClan because all he had ever tried to do was his best so what had he done to deserve this – trapped in his body, unable to move with any efficiency and stuck with the communication abilities of a newborn – but clinging to such resentment drained him so he could never do so for long.
And Gorsetail was so tired. He longed for the days of the past, where he could walk with ease through the forest and never felt any of the awkwardness that now underscored nearly all of his interactions. No one quite knew what to do with him, but he couldn’t blame them. He had no idea what to do with himself.
Familiar pawsteps broke through his thoughts, and green eyes opened to see two of his former apprentices standing in the entrance to the den. Warmth spread through him, a respite from the numb indifference that had settled over him with the monotony of the past few days, and he couldn’t help the fond smile he gave Finchcloud and Ivyclaw. A flick of his tail returned the greeting and with a careful paw, he gathered the mouse toward him and took a bite. ”Thank you.” For the food. For the company. As Finchcloud continued speaking, he nodded in agreement, reluctant to speak more than he had to. There was a certain irrational embarrassment, a particular shame that lurked in the recesses of his heart when he found himself in the presence of those who knew him especially well.
Of all the cats, they could see with the greatest clarity just how far he had fallen.