TICKS AND TOCKS — hunting failure

Jul 24, 2022

They move silently through the reeds, twisting their thin frame this way and that to avoid rustling the grass too loudly. Their tail swishes carefully behind them, aiding their balance so they don’t throw themself off-kilter when they make a leap. They’re prepared for this moment, when the bird they’ve been stalking has finally landed on the ground, pecking at something or other that interests it.

The apprentice’s hind legs draw up underneath them, and they give a wiggle, ready to pounce. The thought flicks through their head that this is gonna be so cool. But as soon as they start to jump, the tickle in their nose that’s constantly taking up a bit of their attention finally blossoms into something more. A loud sneeze cuts off their jump, scaring quite a few birds in the process, and they stumble to regain their footing as they realize what they’ve done. "Dang…" they sniffle, rubbing at their nose with a white paw. "Dang it! This is stupid!"

Why are they such a failure at this? Why can’t they just get it right? Why doesn’t their mentor work harder to teach them hunting skills? Why… "Why do I suck at this?!" He kicks at a pebble, sending it flying into a tree. And then it bounces directly back at him, smacking him right between the eyes. The tortoiseshell makes an utterly pathetic squawking noise, then swipes the peddle into the river with a sigh. I’m never going to get any better at hunting, am I?

Curled up on a warm rock in the river, Dogteeth watches the shadows in the moving waters below. A small sun perch already placed on the bank- but it was hardly enough to feed one cat. That’s when he hears a sneeze from the forest and the feathery flaps of retreating birds from several corners of the reeds and willows.

‘oh… bless them’

Spotting the tall young tortoiseshell, face riddled with frustration and swiping at something small. A tap like a woodpecker’s beak from the bark of the tree then a sudden squawk from the apprentice. Dogteeth kicks off the rock into the river, wading through like a mop of curls before tugging himself up the bank. Ears flattened as he notices how upset the kid was, “why do I suck at this?!“ .

" Oh Hunnie, you can’t do that to yourself- that’s not fair… I mean- I’ve never caught a bird " he speaks up, shaking out his messy twists and eyeing the kid with concern. " are you okay? … " Dogteeth himself took a stone to the head just recently.

  • — Dogteeth | twenty-five moons | cis-male
    — warrior of Riverclan
    — gay | crushing on n/a
    — small curly-furred blonde and tan tom with dazzling blue eyes.
    — very gentle soul / easily upset and sensitive
    — deals a nasty bite | physically medium / mentally easy
    BIOGRAPHY——— ✧
  • 0yQlsKL.png

❝  Dragging himself out here'd been meant as something calming. Though his limb still aches and the fur is short, messily grown, the wound in his shoulder's mostly healed. Skin knitted back together, not a drop of blood in sight. It wouldn't be long before he was out here himself again, doing more'n just taking a stroll to calm his mind. A few days more, and he'd hunt. Maybe if he said so loudly enough, or insistently enough, the world'd listen in. Turns out that spending every moment'f your peaceful walk by the water thinking about work did nothing good for one's mood. A peaceful walk turns to one full with all things messy in his chest. Uselessness'd never suited him. Every moment wasted is one he loathes himself for, pathetic as such thoughts could be.

They were all made of such things. Even the best of them had their worries, did they not? But then again, Houndsnarl had yet to ruin a hunt with a...sneeze. (Of his many embarrassing failures, the one that haunts 'im the most is when his paws'd landed on another hunter's tail. The smaller cat had matched a squirrel better than most squirrels ever could.) Whoever the beast behind that powerful sneeze was, it seemed they'd earned a checkup. Perhaps he should've expected Crappie as they were. Dog's already set to comforting, gentle voice and gentle eyes. It'd make sense for one so kind that he took to nurturing all those he crossed paths with. And quite opposite'f that, there's him. Awkward and looming, the chocolate tabby hovers where he'd come to the scene. His face is inexpressive, unreadable. When he opens his mouth (and closes it, and opens it again), his voice is as rough as it is soft. "If that's the worst of your hunts, you'll shape up to a finer hunter than I am," Hound tries, tentative comfort hanging on at an awkward angle.

Love his clanmates as he does, Crappiepaw's no Lake– it's easier to make her laugh with an acidic tongue than it is to soothe a kind soul. He'd try, though. Only seemed fair.

  • hound_doodle_tpe.png
  • ──── houndsnarl. trans male, he/him pronouns.
    ──── approximately 30 moons old, or 2.5 years.
    ──── bisexual with firm male preference; single.

    ──── a chocolate tabby with ( stylized ) low white and intense lime eyes. lean and lanky,  with whiplike musculature and a long, quick stride. hound's notable features include his impressive height, the long scar across the left side of his face from nose to jaw, his very deep, dense fur, and the confident manner with which he conducts himself.
  • "speech"

Land hunting- he wasn't even learning that. He was fine with it- fish tasted nicer than any of the land preys, like voles and shrews and stuff, and he wouldn't be much good at catching them anyway. Seeing Crappiepaw curse himself at a fumble that Fernpaw himself would have been proud of brought a twist of uncertainty to the kit-sized apprentice's stomach, bulging eyes casting down at the floor for a moment.

No. No, moping had no use- he refused to indulge in it! A friendly expression found his unsightly features, settled- and the undersized tom toddled over, coming to a clumsy halt beside Houndsnarl. "You were really close!" No lack of sincerity could be found in his tone- he was nothing if not sweetly honest. And besides, it wasn't Crappiepaw's fault that they sneezed! Sometimes you just made a mistake unleashed upon you by nature- like the glint of a fish-scale in your eye, or the lodging of a rock between paw-pads when sparring. He would know!
( penned by pin )
╭── ⋅ ⋅ ── ✩ ── ⋅ ⋅ ──╮

While Dogteeth, Houndsnarl, and Fernpaw draw close to Crappiepaw with honeyed affirmations, Iciclepaw simply watches the mottled feline with neutrality. He'd been close, Fernpaw says, and one black ear flicks. Had they been?

The small huntress pads closer to the group and sits beside her littermate. Pale eyes regard Crappiepaw thoughtfully. "Birds aren't worth it," she says. "I certainly wouldn't want to eat one. Maybe we can try fishing instead. You might be better at that." It's the closest she can get to comfort.

- ,,

The flurry of movement and rise of voices drew him forward onto the scene, dropping his trout still dripping wet from the river by his paws so he could speak proper.
Like his apprentice he was not exactly skilled in the art of comforting another and he felt this sort of childish reaction was bit much when it came down to missing a single bird, until he realized that Crappiepaw WAS a child; of course he was acting this way. Maybe it was because Smokethroat had been forced to grow up quick that he didn't understand that sometimes even the smallest of slights could break that youthful happiness, that wanting comfort was normal and perfectly fine. Tiny injuries, whether outward or inward, were mollified with a gentle nose touch and soothing purr and that was often times enough for a kit. His tact needed more work, really, but attempts were being made. Thankfully most of the rest of the clan balanced out his insensitive habits. Dogteeth was alarmingly kind for a cat with a name that could be easily regarded as dangerous, but he knew there wasn't a singe threatening think about the blonde tom outside. Houndsnarl, a little more down to earth and ragged, but no less sensible and also making attempts to soften his edges; it was relatable.
If Iciclepaw had done this with the following upset he'd have told her to go back to the nursery if she wanted to be a kitten about it, but other apprentices needed different approaches. What worked for them (and he said 'worked' in the loosest manner) was not good for others.

"It looks like...you would have had them if you hadn't sneezed. It happens to the best of us." Crappiepaw did sneeze an awful lot didn't he? He was a rather sickly young cat and Smokethroat pondered whether or not even letting him out until he recovered was an option. It could be one of those illnesses that lasted a life time and would certainly halt any proper development. How could you hunt when you scared your prey so often? RiverClan would look weak with a sneezing and wheezing child during border patrols. It occurred to him he was lapsing back into his old mindset, the one that lacked empathy and was strictly dutiful and he inwardly scolded himself for it. It wasn't the kid's fault this was happening, but he did wonder if maybe it was worth bringing up to Beesong more often, especially with leaf-bare growing ever closer.


There aren’t many RiverClanners who Crappiepaw trusts without question. But among those few, Dogteeth is one of the most trusted. Gentle and soft, the tom doesn’t set off any instinct to flee or hide when he looks at them. So when he is the first to arrive, undoubtedly drawn by the massive sneeze they’d let out, the dappled child calms somewhat. "You don’t need to lie to make me feel better," they protest, offering the tom a tense smile. Surely Dogteeth is a great hunter, even of birds. He’s a warrior, that’s what they do.

One of the clan’s many towering, dark-furred protectors stalks up to them next, a sharp lime-green gaze pinning Crappiepaw into place. Scary. The intimidating tom makes the comment that Crappie might be a better hunter than him if this was his worst performance; they don’t have the heart to admit that this has actually been their best attempt so far. The tortoiseshell thinks Houndsnarl is trying to be comforting—or maybe encouraging? Well, whatever he’s trying to do, it isn’t working.

They merely blink up at the dark tabby, shaking their head once, meaningfully.

Fernpaw’s big eyes and smiling face come into view next, joined by one of his sisters; it’s the calico one, Iciclepaw! Crappiepaw thinks Iciclepaw is nice, even if she doesn’t act like it. They offer the ginger tom a shaky smile, glad that he thinks they were close—had he even seen their attempt, though? Before Crappie responds to the praise, Iciclepaw comments that he should try fishing instead. "But—I don’t want to try fishing! I wanted to… to catch a bird." They sniff hard, feeling more pressure building up in the space underneath their eyes.

He blinks away the tears that threaten to fall, trying to get over it. He’s being childish, being a big baby, but he can’t help it! He’s just upset because he sucks at hunting, and if he sucks at hunting then he won’t get to be a warrior and then he’ll have to stay in the apprentice den until he dies. "How often do you sneeze, Smokethroat?" They ask bitterly, staring up at the lead warrior with a deep frown upon their muzzle.