A CAREFUL DANCE | lightningstone

Jul 8, 2022

the way her paws have dragged against the rugged earth, around and around, she's surprised that she has not worn a path by now. she knows there are eyes on her, watching her, studying her. the attention is driving the woman insane, she is used to a solitary life and is now forced to share it with one who begrudgingly accepts her existence. he annoys her, and she annoys him. some wonderful combination to make sure they both endure torture. her breaths are ragged and heavy, ensuring that he knows she is not fond of him and his never-ending gaze.

her muscles are taut to the skin, she's clearly on edge yet can't explain why. perhaps it's the constant stalking lightningstone does. like she's being hunted. a watery gaze slips from her ever-moving paws to his face. aloof and uncaring. why couldn't it have been sweet otter to watch her? at least he would make her feel less like a prisoner. something about proving her loyalty, as if she had not given up everything she's loved to this forsaken colony. her name, identity, family, land, and now her own privacy. no other cat had been treated like this.

eventually the buckskin molly stills. halting her path as she stares upon lightningstone. his presence used to be entertaining, when he would pace against the lapping edges of the waters, unable to reach her. only to stare and shout, with buck giving little care. such a cruel twist of fate, to now be bound to each other. perhaps he is now enjoying the superiority he has over her. over watching the once roaming girl break. he'd be cruel like that. or, she assumes he would be. her maw opens and closes, finding no words to say to him.

she continues to pace.


Triangular hazel eyes watch the pacing woman, his expression bored and neutral. He wishes he hadn't been the one to be assigned this useless task. Okay - he supposes it's not useless. The she-cat has proven to be a problem before. But why him? He was annoyed, evident in the twitching of his tail. He normally had quite the hold on his temper, but this one? She somehow knew how to get under his skin. He stares, curled ears angled sideways as if to show his own boredom, but he finally speaks flatly, "If you're going to wear a trench in the dirt, we may as well be patrolling."

That's what he'd rather be doing, at least. Something productive, something useful to the cats here cares about here. Icesparkle, Clayfur, Beesong, Lilybloom, and several others were under his protection (according to him). Those from the pine colony, who traveled here for a new life and trusted so easily. He wouldn't let his guard down so quickly.
she halts again at his short words, a patrol would be far more useful. at the very least, they would not be in silence. calling titmice and gossiping bluejays could be their buffers, something to take off their edge with a gentle song. her eyes are upon him, as if she is weighing some important life-changing options. there is something fun about how easily she upsets and troubles him, but she grows too restless not to be handling some sort of task. "for once, we're in agreeance." there's a lack of poison in the statement, too focused on putting herself to use.

riverclan was a far different way of life than she had led. there was somehow less to do, despite her added chores. it never feels like enough for the earthen molly, like she's constantly missing something. the others relax easily, but she is always awake and thinking. perhaps lightning stays awake, but she would more assume that he had some sort of qualm with his nest. or just thinking of everything that bothers him.

"or...maybe fishing." it's relaxing, and she's so tightly strung that buck fears she may snap at a moment's notice. with her silence, she gives him the choice. for once, she has no strong opinion.

He fixes her with a look, as if weighing his options. Lightningstone hadn't expected her to agree so willingly. Should they go out? It certainly beats sitting around and doing nothing. She offers up fishing, and his whiskers twitch in irritation. Fishing - something he still hadn't managed to pick up no matter how many attempts he's made. For a tom who prides himself on his intelligence, it's frustrating to not learn something so easily.

After several long moments, he speaks. "If I take you out of camp, you teach me to fish." He hates that he has to seek something out from Buckgait of all cats, but he's left with no choice. It's clear how talented the she-cat is in the water, having grown up around the stuff. He'd ask Mudpelt or Icesparkle, but those two were far too busy keeping up with their kits to teach him anything. Everyone is too busy lately. The only cat who has free time is the very one he has to keep constant watch over. May as well make this time useful.
it's hard for buck to conceal the surprise upon her features at his words, his request for her to teach him to fish. they both know that eventually, lightning would have to learn. buckgait just never thought he would come to her. albeit, it was a condition for her to be able to get out of camp, but she supposes the point still stands. the surprise is quick to turn into that of a shit-eating grin, a threat of a whole day full of teasing now that he has tasked her with this. "fine, I'll gladly teach you to fish." it could have been a meaningful sentiment, but buck is simply too giddy with the thought of the tom chasing her into the rivers coming to her for help.

sweet, sweet victory.

it takes little time for them to greet the glimmering waters. buck behaved the whole walk, perhaps surprisingly quiet as she takes in the songbirds. sometimes it feels as if life moves too fast for her to simply appreciate the beauty of the watered lands she grew up in. nothing could take away that simplistic joy. the water gently lapping at their paws, nice and cool in the dying days of heat. this was life, that was all her life was and she loved it so much she was willing to fight a whole clan for it. at the very least, no one could call buck cowardly.

the fish are lazy at this time of day, resting in the grasses that grow in the ever-moving river. they're fat and tired, and that means that it's perfect to teach a beginner. smaller things like minnows and loaches were quick and flightly, nor did they have much to offer in terms of a full stomach. carp, however... "alright, you see that one guy? he's off to the side, so he'll be easier to grab at." her voice lacks any humor, simply concentrating on their chosen prize for the evening. this was a fish that lightning could get if he listens to her instructions, and it won't kill his pride. "focus your weight on your back legs and pay attention to where your shadow falls. you need to spring forward and use your claws to get him out of the water. i can help keep him out if you need." it takes concentration and patience when fishing, and that's why buck had loved it so dearly.

the world was quick-paced and ever-moving. but here she could be still and calm. ignore the changing tide for once. simply let her body move as nature intended and think of nothing else. there's an edge of excitement as she watches lightningstone. he can do this, she truly believes it.

He tries, oh he tries, to ignore that smug grin on her face. He rolls his eyes, but gets to his paws and gives his fluffy chest fur a few licks. With one final glance around camp to make sure he's good to go, he flicks his tail and leads the way out of camp, over the stepping stones.

As soon as they're at the water, Lightningstone must force himself to shove down all memories of how the she-cat at his side as annoyed him, pestered him, teased him...all that matters right now is what she can teach him. He watches her, soaking in every bit of information he can. His brain is like moss, absorbent, thirsty. He yearns to learn, and like her, he believes he can do it. She takes a moment to focus, seemingly caught up in the birdsong that sounds within the trees. It's obvious how much she loves this place. Some part of him admires her, the courage she's shown in defending her home.

He blinks, whiskers twitching as his expression hardens once more. It doesn't change anything. This land is and always will be RiverClan's. Clearing his throat, he listens to her instructions. He gives a nod, hazel eyes flashing with determination as he slides forward along the bank. My shadow...why didn't I ever think of that? It seems so obvious now. He inches closer to the water, leaning back but maneuvering his head in such a way to try and see the fish without letting his shadow fall upon the water. He holds his breath, claws unsheathing as a paw raises. With reflexes as quick as his name would suggest, he finally swipes, lunging forward and he can hardly believe it when he feels something hook onto his claws.

A fish flops clumsily beneath his paw, now pinning the prey to the ground. Breathless, Lightningstone smiles. A genuine, happy, proud smile as he stares down at what he'd caught, taking the moment in.
she's enraptured, watching his every step and move. her breath held without any intention as he reaches forward. it only takes a few seconds, and he's done it. like she had believed he could. there was always something enthralling and exciting about teaching another to fish. from clumsy kits who caught minnows and the like, to large and powerful cats like him. lightningstone smiles, which buckgait is sure that she's never seen it before, and she can't fight a lopsided grin of her own. it's toothy and imperfect, but she can't help it. the river is not meant to be kept, but it provides for all in its land. there's something beautiful about it all.

or maybe she's just so caught up in the moment that she's losing her head. buck's attention shifts to his catch, something for him to lord over. to bring back to camp and show it off. "not too hard, huh? now you got a good meal." her statement is much lighter than her previous ones, lacking any sense of teasing or prodding. her eyes rove the waters again, the fish no longer residing in the same spot. some dashed further upstream, others down, the smaller ones finding shelter in the river grass. there's little want for buck to fish, but it's always useful to watch them all. learning their behaviors, how different types of fish hold different courage.

"how does your first ever catch feel?" her smile shifts into a smaller and thinner one, letting the sentimental feelings wash over her. buck isn't sure if lightning would want to continue, or if they were now both settled with this trip. a part of her doesn't want to leave, but there is likely little use in staying.
He lifts his gaze from his catch, meeting her own to see her skewed grin. Huh - he never thought he'd see the day when Buckgait was proud of him. He suddenly becomes all too aware of how big his own smile is, and he lets it fall. Mostly. The corners of his mouth still quirk up as he's unable to completely hide the glee in his accomplishment. His gaze drops back down to his fish, and he just nods nonchalantly, huffing, "It feels good." He straightens himself, peering back over towards the mahogany-colored she-cat. "....Thank you, Buckgait." It's a reluctant statement, but one that needs to be said nonetheless. He never would have caught that fish without her help. A pause that's too long fills the air, and suddenly feeling strangely vulnerable out upon the open water with her, he clears his throat. "We should- uh, be getting back."