all i wanted || scolding

Aug 1, 2022
// cw for fear of violence


A S H P A W.

She's sitting at the edge of the medicine den, tucked into a corner of the entryway like she always is these days. This way, she can watch her clanmates without having to leave the safety of Beesong's den, and sometimes they stop to talk to her or give her nose-kisses.

She's playing with Rock, her ant best friend. Right now it looks like he's having a meeting with the rest of AntClan on top of a scrap of fresh-kill. (Except the ones who are still too young to swim, of course.) The little bugs scramble around the whisker-thin scrap of food, probably talking about very important ant matters. Tragically, even Ashpaw's status of ant best friend doesn't let her in on ant language. She'll just have to guess what their meeting is about. Maybe they're naming ant-prentices.

Or exiling awful mean grown-up ants for hurting baby ants.

Ashpaw hopes it's that.

She's gotten better in the last couple days. Her head hurts less, and her bruises are lots better. She can mostly walk again. Maybe that means she'll leave the medicine den soon... she'll miss Beesong and Pumpkinpaw if she does.

A shadow falls over her.

Ashpaw startles, breath stuttering to a halt, and jerks her head up-- black fur and orange eyes, no, no please not again she was really good today. Orange tabby ears flatten to her skull, and a tiny frightened whine slips out.

Then the cat speaks-- harsh and gravelly-- safe, not Spiderfall, she realizes, relaxing just a fraction.

"H-hi Smokethroat," she stutters out, heart still rabbit-quick in her chest. Safe, she tells herself. Smokethroat is nice. Not like him.

—— " i found gold in the wreckage "


RiverClan had been dealt a poor hand as of recent, it was a lot of unease and wariness going around with a mingling of fear in the air. The two-legs were a menace and he so desperately wished he could rush out to their nest and begin sinking his claws into each of them in a fit of rage; it would be a death sentence for sure but he was almost at his wits end enough to want to risk the ordeal if it got those monsters out of here quicker.
Padding along on light steps to the medicine cat den, he spotted Ashpaw perched and poised over what looked like a trail of ants around a bit of leftover prey; if the dark tom has an opinion of the oddity of the scene he does not say so or even act as such and just steps closer.
She responds well before he can even say hello.
A small pang of concern struck him like a bolt to the heart.
To say he was a little surprised at the reaction was an understatement. Smokethroat knew he wasn't exactly the most friendly of cats and was even a bit scary looking the way his face always set naturally into a look of contempt and his eyes never seemed to widen any more than a cautious narrow, the scars that laced his pelt like entricate tabby patterns, but for the sound that just escaped the apprentice you would think he strolled up and threatened her life or something.
"...relax, Ashpaw. I'm just here to talk..." Which in itself was woefully different than his usual habit of not talking at all but he had the slightest feeling that in the chaos of what happened to the little ginger kitten and how softhearted Willowroot was that no one had taken the time to sit and properly explain to her why going out alone was a poor choice.
The dark tom frowned, somewhat taken aback by how fearful she was. The daring kitten who went galavanting off at her whim and blurted out whatever came to mind in a heartbeat seemed more subdued than usual. Maybe he didn't even need to bring it up, maybe the fear of the incident was a lesson enough, but he would speak plainly regardless.
Taking a seat to appear lower to the ground he glanced at the swam of insects briefly once before looking back to her.
"I'm sure Willowroot has already spoken to you about it..." He doubted it, sometimes the smoked molly was a little too gentle with her chiding, "But from now on you are not to leave the camp without a warrior with you. Preferably your mentor. Do we understand?" It wasn't just her, at the very least, no apprentice should be wandering off on their own and certainly not with all that has happened.
"...and how are you doing...? What are you getting up to here...?"
It takes the dark tom a moment to realize he should have started with the gentle question and not the immediate lecture and he scuffs his paws in an almost sheepish way as he tries to redirect. What was with the ants anyways...?


A S H P A W.

Her first instinct is to argue—of course it's to argue, she hadn't gone out alone, she was a good apprentice—

Ashpaw tries really hard to keep tears from welling up as Smokethroat scolds her, sputtering out a "But—but I—"

Spiderfall's face, his claws flash in her mind's eye, and she snaps her mouth shut. She made a promise. She thinks of Gillpaw, Darkpaw, Steeppaw—thinks of them dead on the ground, bleeding out and gone forever, thinks of it being her fault. If she doesn't keep this secret then they won't be safe.

"Yes, Smokethroat," she says quietly, all emotion sapped out of her voice. It could be taken as sullen, but she's really just numb.

He asks about the ants, and Ashpaw glances back at them.

"I'm fine," she says in that same lifeless tone. "Those are my friends. They're AntClan."

She stares at the ground for a few moments.

"I got hurt 'cause I broke the rules," she finally says, testing it out on her tongue. She hopes it will make Smokethroat happy. And Spiderfall if he's around... listening. "If I was good it wouldn'ta happened."

It was her own fault. Everyone would think that now forever. Yay.

—— " i found gold in the wreckage "


The ginger kitten’s attempted protest is met with a sympathetic frown until she finally simply apologized. Talking to young cats was difficult, he didn’t want her to carry the idea that she deserved any of this because it was undeserving entirely. Life was awful that way sometimes, it was crushing and it hurt everyone at some point and normally it was the people who had never done anything to warrant it.
“No. You got hurt because two-legs are cruel and the world is dangerous. A simple mistake shouldn’t be punished that way, just ask Willowroot to take you out from now on.”
It was awkward having this talk, he felt like he was saying all the wrong things but he only wanted to emphasize caution in the enthusiastic youngster to some degree. Losing her entire spark was not his intent, especially as weirdly charming as her odd little mannerisms were. AntClan? Really/ Who came up with that sort of thing? From the mouth of a kit, he supposed…
“You’re a good kit, Ashpaw. What happened to you was not okay and it was not your fault. I wish we lived in a world where you could go play in the woods without being afraid of something happening. I’d give anything for that world.”
If only it were so easy. The risk of danger was everywhere, it's why RiverClan in itself was such a comforting concept. A group of cats to support and defend those who could not.


A S H P A W.

Ashpaw knaws on the inside of her cheek as Smokethroat speaks. Twolegs are cruel and the world is dangerous. She nods. That makes sense. He continues, repeating the instruction to ask for supervision, and Ashpaw wants to scream.

Of course I won't leave camp without a warrior, she wants to yell. I didn't do that! I was good!

But she keeps the hurt and anger and unfairness balled up inside her, swallows it down where it won't come out. Smokethroat keeps talking, and a little bit of hope flickers in her, green eyes glimmering as she looks back up at him—he still thinks she's a good kit.

"I'll always ask a warrior to go out," she says when he's done, still quiet, but less... dead. 'Cause at least she's still a good kit. And he said he didn't think it's her fault. "I promise."

She turns back to AntClan. They're still having a meeting. She turns back to Smokethroat. He's still sitting there.

She's lonely.

"Do you want to meet AntClan?" she asks timidly. "Rock is the leader. Clayfur brought him and his deputy and his medicine ant to visit, and then they found some of Beesong's honey and took a reeeaaally long nap in it, and Beesong said they needed to take a nap outside instead so he took them outside. But they came back."

As she rambles she lights up a little, excited to talk about her cat friends and her ant friends. The kitten smiles at Smokethroat. "Rock is nice. But he's also really strict and serious. But that's just 'cause he loves his clan and wants them to be safe. So he's like you."

—— " i found gold in the wreckage "


She seems lighted, at the very least he had not made things worse and he wanted to sigh in relief that perhaps he was gradually getting the hang of how to talk to younger cats without coming across hostile and scary. It was an uphill battle, but he was pushing.

A quiet, "Sure.", escaped him at the kitten's question to 'introduce' her insect friends. The imagination of a child was something whimsical and baffling to him, he didn't recall having a vivid imagination as a kitten; it was an unfortunate side-effect of losing a mother young and having to take care of himself. Reality was a harsh teacher, crushed kittenhood unless there was another to defend it and for a time he had no one. By the time Moss found him he was feral and angry at the world, almost refused her help. Smokethroat settles down to lay nearby, there is nothing else to do for the day so he might as well just stop moving for a moment as hard as it was to force himself to do. His paws lace over one another, listening to the chaotic ramblings of ants getting into Beesong's honey stash and the medicine cat's attempts to get them out of his den without upsetting the kitten. It was almost kind of funny.
Then she mentions him, comparing him to this childish ideal of what she thinks this ant leader is like.

His immediate gut reaction is to tell her she is wrong, to deflect, to push the comment away because it was terrifying to admit still. He liked RiverClan, he wanted it to thrive, he'd made its safety his goal. The alternative was to give up, to die with nothing. He didn't want that.
The pains only made him want more, to live more, to breathe more. Un-tethered and unrestrained. Hence why he was here, a place of loudness and light he could fall into with ease. He felt he could fall in love with this place.
" he now..."
Smokethroat gives a soft sigh, not born of annoyance or unease but more an acceptance.
"...a nap in honey sounds horrible. Sticky.. I've only had it once, it tastes sweet but getting it off fur is an entire battle..."