now i'm bound by the life you left behind

date published: 9/18/2022

shadowsight laid in front of the makeshift den that held the imposter bramblestar. His clanmates were filing back into camp; the gathering was tonight and as per his father's, the leader's word, he had to stay in camp and watch the imposter.

Most cats avoided him, choosing to either give a wide berth around camp to avoid acknowledging him, or to pad past while eyeing him with emotion he couldn't place. it made him feel peltless in leafbare, exposed so thoroughly that even starclan in their current state couldn't ignore him.

Shadowsight knew what he had done. He knew that on some level he deserved this, or it at least felt that way. He felt the weight of the lake on his shoulders like a badger. Everything the clans were suffering could be directly tied to his actions. He couldn't even bear to meet the eyes of the cats who shot him glances of undisguised sympathy.

In his eyes, he was worth anything but that. round eyes wouldn't fix this. nothing would change unless the imposter was gone. He chanced a look into the den, and of course he found those now-blue eyes meeting him.

"It's okay, shadowsight. you don't need them." The words felt like poultice on a wound . they hurt, but they spoke to something deep in the tom. a part he couldn't place.

shadowsight didn't reply at first. He didn't need to dignify that with a response.

ashfur continued regardless.

"I was a lot like you when I was younger. i never fit into thunderclan like my kin. it felt like there wasn't a place for me, nobody to look out for me."

"You don't know anything about me! my family loves me and i have an important job in my clan!" shadowsight hissed. his belly was twisting itself into knots. what he said was true, but it didn't feel true.

"I felt like that too," Ashfur's tone remained steady. "but in the end none of it was true. I was even killed by a member of my own clan."

shadowsight prickled. Was that true? Being a shadowclan cat he didn't know much about thunderclan, but the idea of that was too much to even think about. That was the kind of thing kits would make up when role playing. could clanmates hold that much animosity for one another?

I mean, shadowsight thought, some cats certainly feel that way about me it seems. looking up, shadowsight could see silverpelt far above, raking the sky with its claw. no cat was in the clearing at this hour except him. He knew he needed rest, but he didn't particularly want to see puddleshine or be in the medicine den.

He decided to fully enter Ashfur's den. it was well built, as most of the buildings in camp were, but it clearly didn't have the comfort of the cat inhabiting it in mind.
bits of foliage that would normally be nipped off or tucked into the walls were left to hang free and poke whoever got too close.
The moss underfoot also wasn't as soft as the kind mentors usually had their apprentices fetch for bedding in any other den. However, if Ashfur cared about any of that, he didn't make it known.

"Why would your own clan mate want to kill you?" shadowsight felt kitlike, he would often ask questions like this to the elders telling him stories.

"why would a warrior want a loner off their territory?" was ashfur's response, "because they don't belong. it would only cause trouble for the clans if they were allowed to stay."

Shadowsight looked hard at the cat in front of him. He couldn't tell if this was another of Ashfur's tricks or not. The tom's puppeteered body seemed strangely sincere. It looked like a reflection of how shadowsight himself acted at his most vulnerable.

The imposter's fur was flat to his body, his shoulders slouched in an attempt to make the largest warrior's body seem as small as a kit. his ears pinned back in what looked like shame as he looked to the side, not facing shadowsight anymore.

he'd never seen ashfur like this. It was almost unnerving. his downcast expression revealing nothing but painful memories of a life he never knew. Shadowsight dared a pawstep closer to him, and Ashfur finally looked up.

“I… I think I understand. I do feel like that sometimes.” Shadowsight hesitantly admitted. It felt almost freeing to talk about his feelings so candidly. He felt as if he were to tell his clan mates any of his true feelings, it wouldn’t end well. He found his pelt warming as he confessed his troubles to the imposter. Though a part of him felt like caught prey, like he was falling for a sort of trap, once he started talking he just couldn’t stop.
All of his problems; his clanmates treating him like a feather because of his seizures, his gift making it hard to make friends with the other apprentices, feeling smothered by his mother and the sometimes unfair treatment from his father. It all came out in a torrent of words he couldn’t stop.

He was vaguely aware of the fact Ashfur had moved closer. Or had he? His eyes were too misty and his mind too full of thought to register who was the instigator. He leaned into the imposter. It was nice to be comforted like this by someone other than Dovewing, even with the overwhelming thunderclan scent now filling his mouth.

It was already clear by now this wasn’t Ashfur’s body. It didn’t belong to him and he had no claim over it. He had no idea what the true Ashfur looked like other than the fact he had blue eyes, but somewhere in him wished he was truly as big as this. When Shadowsight pushed his muzzle into the fur of the imposter's chest, it felt like the forest disappeared. Something within him knew he needed this. To just exist for a moment without being perceived. To just let him catch up, for everything to slow until he felt like he understood his role and until his clan stopped hating him.

Ashfur made no move to stop or lean into what Shadowsight was doing. He stood firm like a pine. In fact, the tom below him was of little concern. All he needed was his trust back, and if this is what it took, so be it. His heart only belonged to one she-cat after all, and he knew she would soon feel the same.