does she know that we bleed the same? [Foxpaw]

✵ ღ ☾ IT TOOK ME BY SURPRISE - Hound was going to kill her. Cicadastar could do much worse, he could banish her.
These thoughts raced through her mind as she paced outside of the apprentice den, her paw steps lighter than a feather, but quick and anxious all the same.
❝ Fuck it. ❞
The proclamation came out in one low breath, she was just going to do it- she didn’t care anymore, she didn’t care, she needed to see them, not once every other moon if she was chosen to go to the gathering- no. She needed them now.
Sneaking out of camp had been easy enough, she had always been stealthy, easily interlacing herself with the shadows despite her pastel pelt that glowed silver in the moonlight now as she began her trek.
She forced certainty into her gait, forcing her chin to remain raised. She was going to Thunderclan, even if it meant forcing each paw step along the way.
It wasn’t until the gentle lapping of the river was quite literally at her paws did the tabby stop dead in her tracks, now faced with her own expression.
When had her features become so monotoned? Lakepaw’s breath hitched then, but her thinking was interrupted by a rustle behind her.
Quickly her head swiveled backwards, her snout crinkling to hide her sudden fear when her gaze was met with two pools of deep amber.
❝ Speech. ❞
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She's a light sleeper, has been even since she was a child and had a mother protecting her. Some part of her wonders if it's because of the before, the time before Dewdrop had found her, worn and heavily pregnant before putting her at her flank and nursing her with the newborns that came shortly after. Foxpaw doesn't know what happened before, hardly thinks about it, except for in the unnamed nightmares, the shapes that move without scent or sound in her head while she tries to slumber.

But now, those have been replaced by a beast with long fangs and an undeniable harsh stench, with blood and a pale dappled pelt that is cold and no longer rises with breath.

Foxpaw opens one sleepy eye to see a shape move with quiet grace towards the apprentice den's exit. Favoring the back leg. Lakepaw, she thinks, ears flattening almost instinctively. Where could the blue femme be going? It's the middle of the night, and since they've all started training, sleep is too precious to waste.

Part of her wants to ignore Lakepaw's departure from the nest. Pretend she didn't see it. What does she care, anyway? Lakepaw isn't her friend. If something is wrong, she wouldn't want Foxpaw to know about it.

But almost before she can finish convincing herself otherwise, she's on slippery mismatched paws, slipping between denmates and watching with bated breath as Lakepaw leaves camp alone. Starlit silver fur disappears into the reeds. Foxpaw follows, in a strange mimicry of the incident that had caused a rift between the two of them in the first place.

This time, though, she's careful. Her paws find soft ground. Or, so she thinks - as the two she-cats approach the river itself, Foxpaw is startled, stumbles over a patch of noisy undergrowth. She freezes, sees Lakepaw turn with alarm to stare at her.

Water-blue eyes meet golden. Foxpaw's fur feels cold. Why does she feel like she's the one who's been caught, when Lakepaw so clearly looks as though she's headed for the border?

"What in StarClan's name are you doing?" Her voice is a whisper, and it comes out as a hiss. Her ears flatten. "Do you know how much trouble you'd get in if one of the warriors had caught you instead of me? Don't you ever think?" Foxpaw glances over her shoulder, fear spiking her belly at the suggestion of getting caught by older cats. Lakepaw has risked so much, and why?


✵ ღ ☾ IT TOOK ME BY SURPRISE - For perhaps the first time in their rocky history, Lakepaw fees relief flood through her chest when Foxpaw’s familiar voice hisses from the undergrowth, her calico pelt now more visible against the darkness.
Yet, her expression is unbudging, her muzzle now relaxing itself, but her maw twisted into a grimace. Foxpaw had followed her once more, only this time, anger wasn’t the first thing to flare up in the blue tabbies gaze, instead she only stared at Foxpaw while she scolded her.
Don’t you ever think?
She is face-to-face with the calico in only a couple strides, her stormy hued ears clasping to the back of her skull in indignation. ❝ Quiet! ❞ Lakepaw commands, though her tone is louder than Foxpaw’s, she needed a pause to think of what to say next.
❝ Why do you care? You’ve been avoiding me like a disease anyhow, so would you even notice or even mind if I was gone? Hm? ❞ She deflected, her gaze intense as it bored into Foxpaw’s own.
She thinks she’s so high and mighty!

❝ Speech. ❞
Lakepaw's expression is stony, her lip curling as she stalks right up to Foxpaw's face and snarls, "Quiet!" Her command rings throughout the riverlands, but only crickets sing back, the lush gurgle of the river. Foxpaw stares defiantly at Lakepaw, but her lip trembles.

How dare she! Foxpaw's anger stirs. Lakepaw is the one breaking the rules this time, but as always, she acts as though it's anyone's fault but her's that she was caught.

Lakepaw continues, "Why do you care? You've been avoiding me like a disease anyhow, so would you even notice or even mind if I was gone? Hm?"

Foxpaw's jaw sets then, her scowl fierce. "What does it matter what I think?" She knows Lakepaw wouldn't care if she were gone, after all. Probably would be relieved. "You're the one who won't even look at me. Even when you talk to me! The only one who really looks at me is Thornpaw."

She shakes her head. It doesn't matter. It's not why Foxpaw followed her out here, is it? "Besides... you're a RiverClan apprentice now. Why are you sneaking out to ThunderClan?" But as she says it, it clicks for her. Wolfpaw is there, not to mention Lakepaw's mother, younger siblings, and the rest of her kin.

But Foxpaw has never thought once to escape into the night alone and head for the Thunderpath. Her fur prickles at the thought, both with excitement and with terror. She'd seen the ThunderClan leader at the Gathering, a cheerful flame point molly named Emberstar. Perhaps she wouldn't mind so much. But Briarstar is a different story.

And Cicadastar... "Cicadastar could exile you," she whispers fiercely. "What would you do then, huh?" For whatever reason, the idea of Lakepaw being exiled is a painful one to consider. Even if sometimes she wished the blue tabby would disappear, it was always fleeting and only came in instances of annoyance.


✵ ღ ☾ IT TOOK ME BY SURPRISE - The only one who looks at me is Thornpaw.
Despite the urge to roll her eyes, Lakepaw’s gaze remains steady on the calico, but her tail does twitch with agitation.
❝ Am I not looking at you now? ❞ She scoffs after a moment.
Lakepaw finds herself not even needing to answer Foxpaw’s last question as realization clicked in her gaze. Now Lakepaw looks away, the grimace still prominent on her sharp features. ❝ I wouldn’t have gotten caught, and even if I had… even if I had I could manage. ❞ She snipped in reply, dropping her defensive stance and sitting, her posture still straight as an arrow. ❝ I guess it doesn’t matter now, does it? Are you going to report me to Cicadastar yourself, or what? ❞ Lakepaw returns Foxpaw’s defiant tone with her own reluctant side-eye. Feathered tail whisking to and fro.
❝ Speech. ❞
"Am I not looking at you now?"

The calico scowls and turns her face away. A mockery of her feelings. It's so Lakepaw. So Azalea. She twitches her ears, irritable. "You know what I mean," she says, though she isn't even sure she knows what she means.

Lakepaw begins to justify herself. She insists she wouldn't have been caught - obviously a lie, as Foxpaw has caught her - and says even if she had, she'd manage. Lakepaw sits and glares down at Foxpaw, challenging her. "Are you going to report me to Cicadastar herself, or what?"

Foxpaw bristles. "I should!" She glares Lakepaw's way, fiery eyes meeting the blue tabby's frozen glare. "You're so convinced you'd be fine if you were exiled... I should let you figure it our for yourself."

But her words are all for show. She lowers her angry gaze to her paws. "No, I'm not going to tell anyone. What's the point? You're annoying, but I don't want anyone exiled." She sighs. "Are you gonna come back to camp? Because I don't want to be caught out here with you."


✵ ღ ☾ IT TOOK ME BY SURPRISE - The feeling of relief that floods her causes Lakepaw’s heart to skip a beat, she wasn’t going to tell Cicadastar.
Though, the only gesture to betray her emotions is a small flick of a blue ear.
She lets Foxpaw speak without any of her own objection, the fire in the calico’s gaze is almost amusing to Lakepaw, in a strange way. The passion lacing her sharp words earning the other Lakepaw’s full attention as she turned her full gaze back to her. Sapphire clashing amber, the ocean warring with the sun.
Yet, soon the glare is dropped, and Lakepaw is now glowering at Foxpaw’s ears. ❝ Huh, tiny but mighty. ❞ She finally says, though her tone lacks a mocking element, instead it is stated as more of an observation.
❝ Seeing as it’s highly unlikely you’ll let me across that river, fine- I’ll go back to camp ❞ she grumbled, shifting to her paws she began to walk away, but not without some last words.
❝ Oh, and for the record, I’m actually pretty charming, you know, when an unjustified grudge isn’t being held against me. ❞
❝ Speech. ❞

"Huh, tiny but mighty." Foxpaw scowls, but the malice has been replaced by relief. Lakepaw is going to listen, and she's going to follow her back to camp! With any luck, they'll sneak back into the apprentice's den without being caught by whoever is keeping watch that night, and they can get some rest before Cicadastar and Houndsnarl come poking around for them in the morning.

She finds herself relaxing. "Okay. Good," she mews, smiling despite herself. "Let's go, then. I know you have to be up early just like me."

She prepares to lead the way, but Lakepaw says one more thing, just to stop her in her tracks so she can cut ahead, she's sure. "I'm actually pretty charming, you know, when an unjustified grudge isn't being held against me."

Foxpaw remembers the last time she and Lakepaw were alone, when the blue tabby had rubbed against her and ducked away as though nothing had happened. The memory causes her to halt, her skin beginning to flush beneath long calico fur.

"Charming... that's one word for it," she murmurs, ears flattening with embarrassment. After a few heartbeats, she follows Lakepaw, trying to pretend like everything is normal.