There was a sort of numbness to her emotions. She wasn't quite sure why. This wasn't the first time she had to deal with the death and aftermath of a clanmate. Coyotecall wasn't even a cat that she had been all that close to, just one of the firsts that she had the pleasure of naming instead of Bonestar. Maybe it was the fact that he had been full of such life and promise? He hadn't even hit two full season rotations! A child, truly, with too much energy and a desire to do well in the clan.
Perhaps it was simply the fact that she had not expected for something like this to happen, not to her clan. How naive she had been. A leader, blind to the fact that anything could happen to any cat at any time? Fangstar wanted to go back in time and claw her own ears off.
A frustrated sound escaped her as she paced along the border line. She knew the odds of running into Cobrastrike like she had before, both of them alone and by chance. She was far more likely to aggravate a random patrol who wanted to know what the leader of Gorgeclan was doing, her scent soaked into one part of an important border line. But... She needed someone else. Someone who wasn't her clan, who couldn't be mad at her for not saying anything sooner or for not being able to prevent something they knew nothing about. Someone who didn't despise her like her medicine cat or hover over her like her brother. Stars above, getting away from Talonflight even several days after Coyotecall's death was nearly impossible!
Fangstar paused and sighed, giving a quick glance through the trees before deciding she had spent too much time here. Her clan needed her more than she needed time to herself. The molly started a slow trek through the woods back to camp, marking the border so she could at least tell the truth when she told Ferretmask what she had been doing.
Hunting in Leafbare was far from the easiest of tasks. So far the patrol had brought back nothing, the one bird they had found startled off by an over ambitious apprentice because the youth's mentor thought it would be a "good learning opportunity." Cobrastrike had wanted to snarl at the stupid molly - wasting prey in Leafbare was far from a good learning opportunity, especially when they had stomachs to feed. However, he already knew he had tried the patience of his clanmates enough lately...
Around a senior warrior with as much status as she had, it was best to bite his tongue. For now.
Besides, he had his own hunt to worry about. He was going to bring prey back to the clan, even if the rest of the patrol fumbled through the snow. His Gorgeclan prowess for once acting in his benefit, Cobrastrike had pursued a squirrel up a tree with ease despite his one eye, and just barely managed to snag it by the tail and take it out.
It was up in said tree that he spotted a familiar pelt pacing the border in the distance. For a moment, he paused, eyes narrowing in suspicion, before his tail lashed briefly behind him. In truth he was not entirely looking forward to another conversation with the Gorgeclan leader - even if she seemed far better than Bonestar, and they were friends in the time of Monarchstar's rule...the last time they had interacted had been far from pleasant.
He may not blame her, but she had still kept it from him for far too long.
Despite this, as his clanmate called up in question, the tom scooped up his squirrel and returned to the base of the tree, setting it down among the roots to speak with the authority he hardly cared he did not possess. "I think we should split up to hunt, there might be more prey toward the Creek," he pointed out, testing the scents on the air briefly, before flicking his tail irritably and glaring toward the youngest member of the patrol. "Besides, I don't doubt the rest of the prey around here has fled."
While the apprentice snarled at his tone, and the other felines seemed reluctant to go along with whatever an ex-Gorgeclanner might have to say, they all had to admit he had a point. The bird had certainly set up an alarm call, and the only reason Cobrastrike found the squirrel by chance was because it ran into the trees in alarm where most Creekclanners were less likely to catch it.
If that apprentice needed learning opportunities, let him learn to fish.
As soon as the patrol was gone, the tom covered his squirrel, before turning and heading straight toward the border, eyes narrowed and tail tip twitching behind him as he eyed Fangstar suspiciously. She may look like she was heading away after marking the border now, but Cobrastrike was no fool. He had seen her pacing there before like a trapped mouse.
"I'd be more wary of the border if I were you," he told her bluntly, though his tone lacked any maliciousness no matter its cold front. Despite his words, the tom did not attempt to chase Fangstar away, instead watching her warily from across the border, one ear flicking back toward Creekclan as he awaited an explanation.
he had never taken her as one to lurk without reason. Perhaps she had more to tell.
The sudden voice had Fangstar pause and glance over her shoulder. Huh. It seems that thinking of the other tom had indeed made him appear, much as it had the previous time. The memory of what she had to say to Cobrastrike then flared briefly before she pushed it out of her mind. He had made no move to chase her away; all he had done was speak. A somewhat cold tone but no true anger or hatred behind it.
"Are you going to attack me to defend it?" she questioned softly, keeping her gaze pinned on him as she finished a quick scent mark. Fangstar knew she was pushing the boundaries of... everything. Clan borders, the warrior code, the expectations she had of every warrior in Gorgeclan. Keeping her clan safe was the most important thing to her and yet here she was - away from them when they needed a strong leader the most.
Inviting him to try an attack, she backed up a couple of tail lengths and sat down. Even now she knew she could never lift a paw against Cobrastrike. Creekclan or not, he was much like Talonflight in that she felt too much affection for him to dare harm him purposefully. "Although if you wish to lecture me, I wouldn't argue. At least you would have something different to say." Even as she spoke, Fangstar considered how much she would actually tell Cobrastrike. What had Stoatstar decided to tell his clan of this disease? Did they know that it was now deadly? Had they already encountered such things?
Whether she intended it or not, her words stood as much a challenge to his loyalty as any others. Not that it would surprise him, considering her parting words last time they met. Perhaps this was just another test of whether or not she could sway him back. Thus, while Cobrastrike did not bristle or hiss at her, his eyes did narrow slightly, tone hard to rival her own softer words. "I will if I need to."
There was not a slither of doubt in his tone. Creekclan was his clan now, the Gorge was no longer his home. No matter what, he would defend his home. However, he knew Fangstar was smarter than that. No matter what she might say, Cobrastrike did not doubt she could feel the tensions surrounding her clan, and would be wary of pushing her luck. Creekclan was far from fond of Gorgeclan, that much was certain, and to find a cat within that sympathized with the Gorge cats...well, it was certainly akin to looking for fish in trees.
Cobrastrike's gaze did not soften, even as the molly backed away and sat down.
The tom did not seat himself in return just yet, tail flicking behind him as torn ears angled to catch her words. Something was certainly weighing heavily upon her, and after their last conversation...part of him was insisting he did not want to know. However, he knew that was information he had needed no matter how late it came, and surely she would not have come here just for idle chatter.
"Lecture aside," he began coolly, tail flicking again. "If you have something to say, then just say it, or leave."
Ah, she had struck a nerve. It hadn't been her intention but it seems as if most toms would find some offense in her words - first Spiritstar, Stoatstar seemed to resent her very existence, and now Cobrastrike. "I don't doubt that you would," was her murmured reply.
This would have to be her last meeting with him. Fangstar doubted her heart could take any more acknowledgement that he was now forever beyond her reach, even as a friend. Perhaps, if she had abandoned Gorgeclan when she returned to be told the news of what had happened to him, there might have been a chance. Talonflight would have followed her so she would not have been completely alone. It wasn't who she was, however. Gorgeclan was her home. So many moons ago she had made a vow to protect it with her life and she could not bring herself to break it, even for Cobrastrike.
At least he continued with her subject change. Her gaze drifted from his once again, eyeing the trees around him. "I do not know what Stoatstar has told Creekclan and I - I don't want to put you in a position where you know more than you should. I've been selfish twice, but I will not make it a third time." This whole thing had been a waste of time. Clan loyalties pulled at them both, and she was a leader. "If he hasn't said anything... Beware of a musty scent and odd symptoms. See Berrybloom if something happens." Fangstar blinked and looked back at Cobrastrike, tone solemn. "There have already been deaths." She didn't elaborate, tell him it was young Coyotecall who he might not even remember or that it was just one cat. Let him draw his own conclusions.
Maybe, if he betrayed her trust in this one thing and told his leader... If Creekclan attacked... She could finally let him go. Move on, as much as she could. It would be so easy for him - she had hidden her true feelings so well for so long and sabotaged her chances so thoroughly that he could not know.
It seemed that one bad thing would only ever be followed by another. Not that Cobrastrike ever expected Fangstar to come to him with good news. In fact, he had never expected her to come to him to begin with. However...with the way this was going now, it was becoming clear she had sought him intentionally, even if she might have tried to hide it. Why? What could she want with him now? Perhaps she was just here for another attempt to lure him back.
He had figured she would not bother beyond that first attempt.
However, the conversation did not seem to be steering in the direction. Instead she started speaking vaguely of a scent and symptoms, of visiting Berrybloom...sometimes Cobrastrike wondered if Berrybloom would bother helping him, a former Gorgeclanner she so clearly despised. However, Fangstar did not need to know that. The thoughts of one cat, or even many, were not enough to drive him back to his former clan. There was nothing for him there, not in his mind.
The mention of selfishness and death halted such a train of thought. Eyes narrowing once more, the tom flickered his tail-tip behind him. However, there was more wariness than anger to the tension that echoed through his body as he eyed Fangstar. "And how would telling me more be selfish?" he insisted coolly, for to him it sounded rather the opposite. Unless she did indeed have an ulterior motive, something more personal than simply warning him of a danger. He did not bother questioning what other times she had been selfish...he had a feeling on one, and the other he was not sure he wanted to know. "I've never cared if I know more or less than others - I don't doubt Creekclan keeps a lot from me."
Let her think whatever she wanted.
To prove that he had every intent of getting more information from her, now that she had brought about the topic of death yet threaded around the cause so vaguely, Cobrastrike sat himself down and aimed to meet her gaze squarely. He had always been an intimidating figure, especially after the war, though whether or not he intimidated her was beyond his knowledge. Either way, he had every intention to get to the bottom of whatever she was on about now.
She knew far more than she was letting on, that much was clear.
Notes | Not gettin out of it that easy gal XD Tagged | fangstar
Without her knowledge, one paw trapped her tail tip and dug its claws in. Speaking with Cobrastrike never used to make her this nervous, but time and her own self-sabotage has made her almost as terrible as a cat with their first crush. Although I suppose I am. There had truly never been another.
"To tell you more would mean you might have knowledge that you shouldn't. It would put you in a position where you would be questioned as to how you know so much, where you got that information from." Her head tilted to the side as she considered his next words. Is it that terrible in Creekclan? she wondered. That they would, in his own words, keep a lot from him? A valuable warrior who had dedicated himself to their clan? Perhaps something she would need to think on. "Although if you want to know more... It is called the Spore. Apparently the symptoms start fairly innocent, dizziness and ear ringing and such. Two nights ago we lost Coyotecall to it. We don't know exactly what happened, but he died suddenly and painfully. His body sprouted these mushrooms before our eyes only a few moments later."
Her head straightened and she lost eye contact once more. Quieter, more to herself than truly to Cobrastrike, Fangstar spoke again. The subject change was abrupt but she couldn't help herself. She had to know if Cobrastrike knew of her feelings or simply was clueless to them. This was going to be her last chance. "I used to wonder if you ever knew and kept quiet to keep the peace. I suppose I have my answer now."
There was that nervous habit of hers again. Cobrastrike's one good eye trained toward her paw in his periphery, where it pinned her tail sharply, claws digging in as though it were a fish threatening to leap back into the water. Part of his mind wandered at the little habit, familiar yet more frequent than it ever was before...tugging his gaze sharply away, he refused to let his thoughts delve any further than the observation that she was uneasy with him. No surprise there.
He had no more need for surprises. Not from her, or anyone.
Her words made sense, though her concerns were needless. As though in proof, Cobrastrike's expression remained entirely unaffected by this clarification, beyond a slight acknowledging flick of his ear. 'Sounds like more of a problem for you than me,' he thought, though the words did not quite reach his maw as she continued. Instead, the tom remained silent, witnessing her cave to give more information despite her resistance.
So, that explained her pacing, then.
Soaking in the news, the tom cast his mind back toward the familiarity of the name - or at least the prefix. Coyotepaw never had been a supporter of Bonestar, either, and had only been an apprentice when he last saw him. Such a young tom...in a better time, Cobrastrike would have been pleased to mentor him. So, the tom nodded soberly, for once gazing out toward Gorgeclan with something that was not a burning glare. "Unfortunate news indeed - he had a lot of potential, I hope he managed to find some peace with the past before this disease took him." There was not a hint of dishonesty to his words - shut off as he became beneath the tyranny of his leader, in Monarchstar's time, Coyotepaw would have made for a great warrior.
Barely noting the way her gaze skittered from his, Cobrastrike's expression regained some of its hardened mask, despite retaining something more thoughtful and concerned. However, while his tone had lost some of its edge, there was still a distance to it as he spoke. "I assume this is something you intend for me to keep to myself?" he offered flatly, and before she could perhaps argue or so much as bristle at his words - truly he had given up on predicting her responses a long time ago - the tom carried on with a low gravity to his words. "I am nothing like him, I can assure you, if that's what worries you. No matter my own opinions, I am not about to take advantage of any clan's weaknesses. Death is not something I seek to exploit."
Did she doubt that? She did not seem to look upon him as a traitor, but who knew what went on in her mind.
That question was not answered with her own, and Cobrastrike merely found his gaze falling upon her, noticing now that hers was averted. It was easy enough to tell this was a change in topic, however sudden - though to what, he was unsure. Tail flicking beside him, the tom narrowed his eyes, one green orb flickering to catch one of her own in question. While he did not intend it, or even realize, frankly, his expression had softened just the slightest bit with his confusion at the sudden flip of conversation and her strange words. No matter how observant, this fell into the realm of something he could not understand right off the bat.
"And what conclusion is it you have reached?" he questioned, and while his tone refused to portray it, part of him hoped that her answer would tell him the question to which it was given. That was, before he pushed that desire aside. Let her tell him if she wanted to, he had no reason to care beyond that. No matter his suspicions...he would not even allow his thoughts to drift down that path, the door remaining tightly sealed yet refusing to fade away.
Still...he lingered for the answer, knowing he had little other reason to stay.
Notes | Not hard enough apparently Tagged | fangstar
He seemed to remember the young tom, at least. And Cobrastrike's words were sincere so far as she could tell. It was a relief to know that he did not wish ill on those who had so little choice in Bonestar's mess, rather than simply suspect or hope. And to hear a surety in his voice as he told her he would not act upon another clan's weakness...
Stars above, why couldn't he hate her? Moreover, why was it so hard for her to let him go? There had never been anything between them to begin with and now there never could be. No matter that he pushed for her conclusion to a question never spoken aloud, no matter that he stayed when the conversation should have been over - should never have happened to begin with. A brief flicker of Fangstar's eyes to his softened expression and her resolve hardened. Perhaps, if she spoke now, she could finally let it go and move on as her brother so desperately wanted of her. There wasn't necessarily a lack of options in Gorgeclan, if she at least tried to move on with that portion of her life.
"You never guessed, did you? It never crossed your mind as a possibility that there could be someone other than Hollysky who loved you - and I'm glad." Fangstar took a deep breath and stood, briefly digging her claws into the ground and staring down at them instead of Cobrastrike. "All I had wanted was for you to be happy. I still do." Hardening her voice and steeling herself, she raised her eyes to him. "Recently, however, I've had someone remind me that I also deserve what I wanted you to have. Part of my reason for coming here again, I suppose, was to say a final goodbye to something that has never been. I hope you find more in Creekclan, Cobrastrike, that you can create a better place for yourself there than you ended up with in Gorgeclan."
As with their last meeting, she turned without waiting for him to comment and raced away. This time, she did not look back. It was time to set aside the longing for the past and work towards the future.
Cobrastrike | A/N: Fang's just a master of exits, isn't she?
She seemed to hesitate for a moment, something that only drew the tom's ears further forward despite himself, before something about her shifted. Her resolve seemed to harden, gaze sharpening, even if it was quick to skitter away from his own, after however briefly meeting his. What could be going through her mind? Clearly she was more troubled than he recalled from when they were once close, though suffering through Bonestar's rule and taking place over his broken and distrusted clan was bound to do that to anyone.
Yet this seemed something more than that. Something older, deeper.
Never guessed? Eyes narrowing, the tom followed her as she stood, tail flicking briefly behind him as he let her words wash over him in silence...only to blink in surprise. Was this a...love confession? He had to admit, it was the last thing he might have expected from her. Sure, she did not seem to despise him for leaving the clan...yet loving him? In truth, he had no idea what to think, though his normal composure fluttered slightly in his confusion, allowing his expression to show just how out of place and caught off guard he was.
How someone went from discussing death and disease to "I love you" was beyond him. Yet she always had been an oddity, and it seemed she only proved this further as she went on without a word from him. She wanted him to be happy, which explains why she never sought to interfere. A final goodbye, a better place? So she was giving up not just on whatever she had apparently felt for him, but on convincing him to return to Gorgeclan as well, her offer of a place perhaps revoked alongside her heart.
Not that he would have known what to do with her heart to begin with.
Without even leaving him a moment to comprehend, much less respond, the molly whipped around and darted off. Once more, the tom was left staring after her, mind whirling with confusion, with thoughts he had no idea how to place. 'What is she trying to achieve?' Cobrastrike wondered silently, before shaking his head and turning away. Trying to understand Fangstar would be like trying to traverse the swamp without getting a spot of mud on his fur - perhaps it was possible...but it seemed too much of a mission to even attempt.
Notes | Here she comes and there she goooeeeessss lol Tagged | fangstar