Since first coming to the river territory, one cat in particular has stood out to Clay. She’d been here before them, for a long time. She knows this land, she knows the river, and she is a capable warrior. In many ways, she’s everything that the tabby aspires to be. A contributing member of the clan who seems afraid of nothing, even if he’s terrified on the inside.

She makes him feel kind of jealous, in all honesty. It’s not a great thought to have—not a great thing to feel. His own envy makes him feel bad, even if he knows he doesn’t resent Buckgait for it. He likes her a lot, respects her as both a clanmate and as someone he considers his friend (even if it’s not reciprocated).

Spotting the she-cat who plagues his thoughts, the chocolate tom changes his route, striding over to her on long legs. He hopes he isn’t interrupting anything, but he beams at her, bright and toothy. "Hiya, Bucks," he greets with a lift of his chin to the brown she-cat.

For a while, after the dappled leader had told them that RiverClan’s borders would be closed off to all outsiders, Clayfur had feared for Buck. She had lived here for longer than them, why should anyone be forced to leave just because a newer, larger group took over their home? But she’d seemed so against joining the clan, and after the loner that he’d helped to drive away, he had worried. If she had been the outsider he came across on that day, he isn’t sure whether he’d have the heart to stand against her. But she’s here, now, officially a part of RiverClan, and he’s curious.

He pauses, unsure whether he should touch on the topic at all. Maybe it’s something she’d rather not talk about, especially with someone like himself. Then he sighs and decides, screw it, he’s going to poke the bear. "So, you decided to join RiverClan?" It’s a question asked with wide, curious eyes that are trained on her face.

it's the call of something similar to a name of her own that draws the woman's attention. clayfur is a welcomed face, he's given her no reason to never look forward to a chat. only now, she had lightning listening in not too far away. still, she hopes he is here for something light-hearted. worry is heavy in riverclan, and it does not help her own worries and qualms. "clay." it's a simple but gentle welcoming, allowing him to settle near her as she tries to melt the tension off from her. the sun heavy in its grooming, but it's something calm and relaxing. his smile is returned with a small one of her own, and she soon settles back into relaxing.

clayfur was a tom she was happy she had met. he seemed to be so determined in bettering himself that it reminded her of that over-ambitious girl of her youth. a girl so obsessed with being something undeniable in both her strength and power in the lands. she supposes she had got it, but of course, nothing comes without a price. she simply hopes that his will not be so devastating.

he asks of her change of heart, and she can't find a way to fault his curiosity. a cat so vehemently against riverclan's approach that she lost her own family to it, spit upon their image, and hoped for the rivers to have their way with the among their ranks and working to protect and feed them. to prepare them better for a world run by the river. "i...did..." she echoes with some hesitation as if she isn't sure on how to tell clay without embarrassing herself. he doesn't need to know of cicada offering her to stay after she had been so defeated that she could not offer anything of violence. she was simply ready to accept whatever fate.

"i missed my know how that is. of course, i have to prove i'm not a threat." it;s a small dig to the gravel-colored tom who haunts her every step. buckgait did not miss cicadastar's wide and knowing grin when he had finally ensnared buck and assigned lightning to watch her. "i'm kinda embarrassed how i acted earlier. i think i was afraid." he didn't ask, but buck can't help to spill out everything that had been eating away at her. to just have someone to talk to. he listens, she knows he does. but there's hesitance in her features as she looks upon the tom again. if she's said too much and if he doesn't want to stay and listen. she can't blame him.

Clayfur listens, fascinated, to the bark-colored warrior as she lays her explanation at his paws. He’s not one to judge, of course, and his ears are angled toward her, hanging onto her every word. She admits more than he expects her to, leaving Clay in a sort of stunned silence. For once, his mouth is firmly shut, more focused on her words than on the words that he’s about to say.

He shakes his head. "No, I get it. Ha, I’m only here because my family decided to come here," he chuckles, but he’s sure she doesn’t get it. The first time they’d properly spoken, the she-cat had asked why he’d come here if he intended not to swim. He’s gotten a bit more comfortable near the river, now, but he still avoids swimming. He knows it’s because he’s afraid. "And being scared of what might happen is, like, I get it. I don’t blame you for not liking any of us. Everything happened quick, there wasn’t any, like, adjustment time."

The tabby tom shifts his weight from paw to paw, lifting one to his face to rub at his eye for a moment. Then he lifts his head, looks Buck in the eye, and plasters the biggest, goofiest grin he can muster onto his face. "I’m glad you joined, though. When Cicadastar said we had to chase out any outsiders, I got really worried I’d have to tell you to leave. You’re probably one of the best RiverClanners we could ask for." If the leader’s solution to his distrust of Buck is to assign her a less-than-friendly guard warrior, then Clay doesn’t mind. He’s just glad that she’s allowed to stick around.