they had gone on in relative silence since that day in the fields, working along side each other like they had for moons before, each in their own mindset at the surrounding issue that pledged them. while not one hundred percent aware of the situation, applecloud knew there was an illness of sorts in the clan. the name she was unsure of, but the fact that her former mentor had fallen to it caused her to feel rather unsettled by the lack of acknowledgement. had their clan mates any right to the knowledge? 'even now, skywhisper gets ready to head for the starpool... perhaps they are awaiting confirmation from starclan?' she thought with a look towards the camp entrance.
she sighed, unlike that morning so long ago she was not yelling at those around her, nor was she giving out patrols. those had been assigned the night before and had already left the camp an hour of so ago. shaking her long white and calico coat, the she-cat rose to her paws and looked into the cloudy sky. the snow had come and gone and come again. for the white and calico molly it was no surprise she would find much enjoyment in the cooler moons of the four seasons. she moved with a gentle ease, paws gracefully gliding across the snow with such a wonder she wished for a life that would never end with the melting of the snow.
'but perhaps the improvement of food storage.' she added, looking sideways towards the shrinking pile, and realized that it would be all paws on desk. her muscles tensed as she flicked her tail towards a fellow warrior - his meow of her goings causing her to grow annoyed. "to the pond, there is already a hunting patrol at the fields and the brook. now go be useful elsewhere." she snipped, watching the younger warrior beeline for the medicine cat's den. whatever issue he may have, she doubt it required the medicine cat's attention.
drawing in a deep breath the she-cat took off into the territory, her paws carrying her at a brisk, but gentle speed. she did not know how long it took her, between the gentle falling flakes, to the way the thin layer of snow seemed to form under her paws, but she soon arrived at the pond. her ears pulled up into a curious note, wondering what that noise in the distance was. she had all but been unaware of her surroundings up until that moment, and for that second she noticed an oddity. black and white fur stood out just beyond her eye sight, the scent of a tom drifting down towards her. a smirk pulled on her lips as she realized exactly who had been graced with her presence.
her meow was loud, formal, but the raise of the brow was curious. she had all but tried to stuff the old coot into camp permanently since the outbreak, and yet here he stood in his own territory no less. her brows furrowed together for a moment in annoyance as she moved silently towards him, her pelt keeping her warmer than most in the cooler weather. tilting her head, she glanced at the tom and thought for a moment he was simply foolish to risk himself beyond the walls of their camp.
"must you really be out here alone? you could be killed or worse, kidnapped."
To assume Spiritstar slept that night would be false, though he was certainly not one to show it to those who did not know him well enough to simply tell. Thus, no questions were asked as the tom had slipped out into the breaking light of morning's barest touches, seeing as he had successfully avoided the two she-cats who were most inclined to pester in all their concern or indigence.
Nightmares had always been a frequent plague of his, though there was no surprise they had gotten worse lately. The initial deaths had spurred them on, and while the lull had indeed soothed them slightly, the following fall of Paleberry so soon before his own sister fell ill to seemingly the same disease had only made them worse. While he had dreamed of his sister's sickness returning from that day on, it was this night that affected him so much more.
The image of mushrooms sprouting from the bodies of the two she-cats he cared most about, that subsequently lead to him frantically - if as quietly as possible - checking up on both mollies the moment he woke up in the middle of the night to see that they were indeed still alive, still lingered each time he closed his eyes.
Even now, Spiritstar hissed at the image, surprising even himself.
However, the intent to be alone for the moment did not last long. The sound of his name on any other tongue but a few might have seen the tom's darker side whirling to the forefront, spinning around to snarl at them to leave him alone. Yet instead Spiritstar merely stiffened for a moment, before forcing himself to relax and rumbling out a purr of greeting.
While his playful tone and mask fell into place with the ease of practice, he could not rid the lingering emotion from his eyes, which remained glued upon their reflection rather than carrying toward her as they often would. "You would rather me dead? So cruel my dearest," while the words were offered in his usual flirtatious, teasing tone, as he went on his tone softened slightly, quieting, and his gaze still refused to stray just yet. "Besides, I could never be alone with you around."
Notes | yeets last minute nightmare prompt cause I was lacking post ideas Tagged | applecloud
she had stood before him, for what seemed like a thousand lifetimes, her eyes merely watching the black and white tom stiffen. had it been anyone else's keen eye they would not have known the reaction evoked by the older tom, and the younger she-cat fluffed out her pelt in annoyance. he did not snap at her, as one would expect, his purr rumbled off its own greeting and she urged herself not to roll her eyes at the thought that he would have likely snapped and barked at someone else. 'much like you would have.' her thoughts echoed between her ears and for a moment she could not help but agree that she and spiritstar did share some common traits when annoyed by their fellow clanmates.
she remarked on being killed vs being kidnapped. his retort of her wanting him dead more was something she had not meant to imply. she had simply meant that at least in death - she knew he would be in starclan, waiting. 'waiting for what? surely not a foolish, grumpy she-cat like you!' a little voice rang in her ears, softly teasing her mind for thinking so foolishly about her leader and... dare she say it... dear friend that way. his remark came with ease, his gaze fixed on her with a gentle soft and yet teasing nature. that he was never alone with her around. part of her laughed inwardly at the notion - the silent chuckle reaching her eyes as she felt her face brighten with the hints of a smile.
"a pity, truly. i am the worst company to keep." she meowed, fluffing out her fur in an attempt to look meaner than she actually was. there had been reasons behind her softer name, and while her coat was one of them, she had indeed been a gentler soul back in the day. raising her gaze to meet the black and white tom, the she-cat tilted her head slightly, letting amber eyes roll over him in an attempt to judge his health. "but i stand by what i said. we can not afford to have you of all felines, taken capture or killed." her eyes flickered away from the tom to the surrounding area as if testing it.
"i hope i did not interrupt a meeting with you and another." she meowed rather hauntingly, not noting the tone her voice had taken as she waited for the moment a she-cat (or tom, she did not judge) would leap out and shout at her to scram. a part of her expected such actions with how flirtatious spiritstar could be, and how it slipped beneath her fur every time she tried to imagine another beside him that was not her. even as of late, meetings he would have with skywhisper alone seemed to have her questioning her sanity. 'he surely would not flirt and mingle with the medicine cat of all cats!' her thoughts rushed forward as she turned back to gaze at her leader with a haunted, accusing look.
Her smile was only slight, the barest hints to light up her beautiful face, yet it drew Spiritstar's eye and relaxed him all the same. He had no idea how a grumpy she-cat like her did it, but Applecloud always seemed to find a way to ease his mind and warm his heart - really, it was an enigma to the smartest of cats, and he did not have the ego to name himself among those even if others might. Still, it was enough for the realization to sink in once again that she was fine, safe, and here with him.
He would have drawn her close and leaned into her soft fur if she would not have swatted him for it.
Instead, the tom settled with returning the smile, gaze now refusing to stray from her and back to his own murky relfection now that it had found her. He sure was not about to let her wander off anytime soon, though it seemed Applecloud was not in much of a hurry to leave. She never was, really, no matter how she acted or what she might say. Maybe she was falling to Starclan knows where with him after all. Perhaps they might just find out together - if they both made it through this mess, that was.
"Well then, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree," he teased back, and as her gaze roved over his, he forced aside the tension that rose beneath it to playfully sit a little taller, tail flicking briefly by his flank. "Me of all felines? Truly, I'm flattered," the tom chuckled lightly. However, his expression was soon to sober, and his gaze carried back toward the frozen pond, finally tugging reluctantly away from his deputy.
A soft sigh escaped his lips as a more honest thought wondered in, the dream creeping back up with it to make him shudder slightly. "Though we both know my preference if it came down to it." he did not mean death of capture - she could take it anyway, and though he predicted she would be on the right track of preferring to die over a clanmate, he was not sure if she would pinpoint his thoughts exactly. If the choice came down to the two of them...well, the panic his nightmare had caused was not even necessary for him to know the answer to that.
When asked who he would give a life for without hesitation, Cherrybloom had always been the unchallenged top of that list. Now...he was not so sure she was unchallenged after all.
Her next words drew his attention from his thoughts, and his ears flicked at the harshness of her tone. He had no doubt what she meant, though she spoke as though Spiritstar finding himself with company was on par with deciding Bonestar was right after all. The tom could not help but chuckle, his teasing nature surfacing at her accusing look as he tilted his head softly. "Oh my, is that judgement, or jealousy I sense?" He purred, leaning forward slightly as though in attempt to observe her a little better, before giving an inviting sweep of his tail to the spot beside him. "I'm afraid you caught me all alone dear, though your company is always welcome if you're offering."
her ears twitched at their shared smiles, something that would cause her heart to flutter and her spirits to rise in hopes that perhaps her silly notions in her mind were not wrong. his tease of just agreeing to disagree caused her face to sober for a moment, the tell all signs of annoyance pricking at her eyes before she sighed, a small smile again on her maw as her eyes rolled at his response. her ears flicked in the hidden annoyance and embarrassment of his chuckle as his eyes drifted away she allowed the softest of breaths to escape through her lips.
though we both know my preference if it came down to it. her face sobered to it's more usual cold front, pink nose twitching as her ears slowly began to draw back against her skull in annoyance and anger. she knew where her own life in the clan stood - and while she was not one to slink back and hide - she knew that something stilled her heart for a moment. a hesitation that she could not afford. 'it is not that easy anymore spiritstar, is it?' she thought, more to her inner self then anything. moons ago she could have stood proudly before her leader and the other clans with no fear of losing anyone, because she would throw her life on the line ahead of theirs.
now... 'now you would choose your leader over a clan mate.' she did not even realize in the moment that she stood still with her angry expression lining her face, forcing herself to calm down before she could do anything. she knew if his eyes had caught her in those few short moments he would have noticed her angry expression, and perhaps the fear that had flickered over it. "regardless, i, we need you in these times. i will make sure you are here in these times." she thought, more an angry promise than a sweet reassurance. but she stilled herself when the tom seemed to flick into her words of jealousy. how he was able to sense it on her tone, how he offered her a seat beside him.
a part of her wanted to slash at his maw, wanting to cause as much distress and anger that could to the tom for making her feel those emotions she had not felt once in her life. ears flicking, she rose slowly to her paws - every inch of her frame seemingly turned to stone as she pushed forward, her eyes flicking to the spot before she nestled herself there. she felt her heart sore, the racing of it's beat, she wanted to almost stop and call off this interaction. ears twitching, she studied the ground before her with an ease, thinking or trying to think of why she had decided to sit with him.
"i do not know what i prefer more, the sudden pain of this disease... or the pain of war..." she meowed suddenly, amber eyes flicking to look towards the tom who she sat before. "at least, when we are at war, we know it will come to an end... what if this disease consumes us all?" she thought a loud, her eyes closing for the brief moment as she kept her head tilted upwards, some part of her aching for comfort from the tom beside her, but not willing to acknowledge it. before she knew it, her head leaned forward, attempting to press against the tom's shoulder, seeking the comfort she needed.
she had lost her mentor to the disease, a tom she had cared for like a father. "if it should gain control of me," she began in her softer tone, something unlike her, but something that truly began to wrap around her. the situation was not something she could bare. "please send me away from the clan for their safety..." she paused, her shoulders shivering as just below a whisper she added, "and for your safety."
Spiritstar did not see her flash of anger within the stretch of silence. His gaze had strayed from her, and it was idle in its return, caught once more on the pond before him as he waited. For what, he was not entirely sure, but he could feel some kind of tension despite the comfort her company always managed to offer. Strange. It was new, but he was not sure if he minded yet or not.
Far too many things were beyond understanding at this rate. He did not need another.
In all honesty, the tom expected a swat or a growl, perhaps for the molly to very well up and leave right then, if he knew well enough she was far from the type to just run. Yet as his gaze sought hers and she rose...she surprised him. No surprise attack was launched, no nasty comment was hissed his way - yet perhaps her true reaction surprised him more than those might have. Instead, she sat beside him.
In all honesty, all the tom could do was blink at her in surprise. Yet as she spoke, her expression somber, he pushed it aside. This was hardly abnormal, he'd had many a she-cat or tom nestled by his side - yet this was her. The fact she never came so close this willingly, especially when he had been teasing was far outside the realm of new that the tiniest part of his mind wondered if she was alright. Okay, perhaps more than a tiny part, but that was the lingering nightmares talking, not her actions.
Any words he had opened his mouth to say, however, died on Spiristar's tongue as her head came to rest against his shoulder, eyes closed as she seemingly sought comfort from him. Were this anyone else, Spiritstar might not have batted an eye. Yet with Applecloud, admittedly the tom found himself at a loss, body tense in shock - and admittedly a little concern - for a moment, before he let himself relax slightly. Perhaps against his will, or maybe in just an attempt to offer the comfort she seemed to be seeking, a gentle purr escaped the tom. He wanted to encourage her closer, ease any worry she might feel with any affection he might offer. Yet he did not, worried that so much as touching her more than she initiated might send her reeling back.
Instead, he offered words. "It won't," he assured. His tone was firm, confident, yet also somewhat gentle and reassuring. His gaze flickered awkwardly to observe the she-cat at his side, admittedly finding himself wondering at her. She sure was acting strange today - yet then again, who could blame her? Things were strange. No one could stay the same through a war, followed by a crazy, mysterious epidemic in the middle of Leaf-bare.
Honestly, the whole situation was growing absurd - yet despite it all he felt content.
Her next words sent Spiritstar almost reeling, quite honestly. Yet as she went on, voice softening toward the whisper it reached for her final word, he knew there was no use in arguing. She would not have it, and he had no will to fight with her right now. So, the tom offered a sigh, and as before, allowed himself to relent at the very least to a deal. "If - and only if - Skywhisper believes it may be contagious, and we cannot find a safer place...then you may go." He did not bother to hide the regret and distaste toward his own decision, for agreeing with this when all he wanted to do was shout "NO" and damn well leave it at that. Without thinking, the tom allowed his chin to rest atop her head as his voice softened. "But don't think I won't worry about you the whole time," he warned, and while his tone held teasing, it held a lot of sincerity as well.
At least, until a slight chuckle broke the moment as his train of thought drifted. Should she not pull away, it would not even occur to him to draw away from the warmth his deputy offered on such a chilly day - not to mention the reassurance he lent to the very train of thought he was on. "You know, you were in my dreams again," he admittedly teasingly, though his tone hit a far more pained note as he went on. "Though I think....it was the first time I wished you were not."
Notes | Dream confession time oop XD Tagged | applecloud
had it been any other moment in any given day, the reaction she drew from him - in her silent movements and in her silent obeying of his invitation she would have drew upon it with a chuckle. but with her head pressed against his shoulder she allowed the world around them to drown away into almost nothing, savoring the moment of peace between leader and deputy. 'between spiritstar and i.' she thought softly as she sought the comfort she had not realized she had needed until his purr escaped him, echoing in her ears like the softest melody she had ever heard. her body shifted closer in her worry, in her sobering words and in her final wishes.
she found a silent peace as she waited for him to speak, if he even dared, she thought to herself how foolish, how horrible she had been to the tom she had just request send her away in fear she harm him of all cats. her ears flicked nervously at his sigh, as he spoke of letting her go as she requested, and for a moment the she-cat leaned away to look up at spiritstar with wide eyes. the thought of losing anymore to the disease caught her in the chest, and knowing that felines she cared about could fall victim to it, seemed to rise a panic in her chest. the torn thoughts of wanting to show the clans moorclan was strong and wanting the disease away from herself, spiritstar and skywhisper, was only the smallest part of her panic.
she returned her head almost immediately, and his chin rested neatly ontop of hers. against her better judgement she purred softly, a rough and ragged sounding purr, almost broken. "i can handle myself." she meowed softly, eyes fluttering close as she drank in the thought of spiritstar actually worrying about her well being beyond the idea of being his deputy. they held there for what she felt like was hours, her broken purr rumbling softly in her chest as she thought of the foolish tom beside her just worrying himself silly over a she-cat. while she assumed he would only worry over her because of her importance to the clan, she didn't dare let any more than that smallest amount of hope blossom in her chest.
when he spoke of his dreams, her head finally lifted from it's resting part to tilt up to look at him once more. eyes narrowing she was about to bite back a retort when something in his voice stilled her. wished she had not been in his dreams! a part of her, a jealous part, wondered if he had been foolishly dancing with a she-cat and she had intruded upon it. however a part of her wanted to believe it was not that, that his dream had been involving her had been pleasant enough until whatever caused it to turn sour, turned it sour. blinking her amber eyes slowly, she rolled her shoulders and squared up to hear what had happened.
"finally, i am now part of your nightmares," she tried to tease, a horrible attempt as even her face expressed her uncomfortable nature in being so close to him, wanting to know so much more and yet not. "but do tell, what horrors did i evoke to have you not wish me upon your mind." she asked with a curious note, her eyes shutting to soak in the jealous thoughts before she opened them once more, awaiting for the older tom to calm her jealous thoughts, to share his burden. i am his deputy after all. she thought to herself. and yet, only friends and mates share such things as dreams, rabbitbrain. her after thought caused her to shiver, but she remained close to him, head tilted up awaiting his response.
While her head departed from his shoulder briefly to stare at him - no doubt shocked by him even agreeing to her request - she did not stray far. In fact, her head was quickly returned, and...was that a purr? Again, the tom found himself surprised no matter how stilted the rumble was, and his own soothing purr began once more in automatic response. "I know," Spiristar agreed softly. He had no doubt that she could handle herself - yet if she ever got this dreaded disease...what help was strength, in the end?
At this rate it seemed more dependent on luck. In which case, he'd give her all of his if he could.
He relaxed into the silence that washed over them, but of course nothing ever lasted long. His mention of his dreams had her drawing away from him, and he pressed back the disappointed sigh that threatened to rush forth from him. Instead, he merely turned his head to search her gaze, surprised to note discomfort and...something else despite her teasing. Were this any other feline he flirted with, Spiritstar would have pinpointed the reaction immediately as jealousy, perhaps a little doubt or questioned hope. Yet this was Applecloud. No matter his earlier tease, the mere thought was ridiculous. Likely she was just uncomfortable at the idea of even being in his dreams to begin with. He supposed he could not blame her, really.
With her head tilted and a curious, searching note to her tone, to her eyes, Spiristar was not sure what to say immediately. Which was odd for him, really, because when was the tom ever at a loss for words. Well, he could count more times in this one day than perhaps in much of his warrior life, and he would not be surprised if there were many more times to come. Still, it was the words that kept circling his mind on repeat that finally made it - rather abruptly, perhaps - onto his tongue and out into the air between them.
"You died." For a moment the tom halted at his own straight, pained admission. Spiristar sighed and turned his gaze away, shaking his head slightly as he attempted to organize his thoughts. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately, too. "Since Cherrybloom got sick, my nightmares were always targeting her, if she didn't get better, if she...and last night they targeted you, instead."
The tom closed his eyes for a moment, swallowing sharply, before he took a deep breath. "Would you believe I ran to your den in the middle of the night to check you weren't actually dead?" The tom released a slightly bitter chuckle as his eyes opened, though they only sought her out in his periphery. "If any of the warriors noticed, I swear they would think I'd gone harebrained."