Warriors doesn't belong to me.
Fireheart inhaled his father's familiar scent deeply and he finally really managed to relax for the first time in days. Sure, his guard with Sandstorm had been pretty relaxing, but not in the way this was. During the guard he'd still been nervous and worried. Here he didn't need to be. Nightstar had just said it. Even if the black tom couldn't find it in himself to believe who Fireheart used to be, he'd always be there for him as his father and leader.
And for that Fireheart was grateful.
"Then you never really experienced your parents' love before Fireheart. Tell me, were you a father before this?"
Yes, yes he'd been and he knew exactly what Nightstar felt. The rejection he'd felt at times from Squirrelflight because he'd been overprotective, and the fact that she'd always come back still, because she'd simply needed her father was burned into his memory.
"Then you should understand how I feel about you and you should be able to tell if your kits needed your attention as much as you need it now."
I did need something, thought the ginger tom and leaned even more against the black one. Nightstar didn't seem to mind. He just shifted a bit, into a more comfortable position. I just never thought it would be as simple as my parents' love and understanding.
"You need this attention, this love, now because now you know it's there for you want it. If your parents before were not there for you, you never had any reason to want love. One cannot miss what they never had."
That was true he supposed. He'd only ever met his father once, shortly after he'd been born and the twolegs had taken him and his siblings from their mother just as soon as they didn't need her milk anymore. He only blurrily remembered his parents, his mother more than his father. The only thing he still did remember clearly was his mother's scent. But they'd never really been there for him as long as Clan cats were for their young. Nothing but death could tear them apart. Well, almost nothing, thought the ginger tom with a sad grin when he remembered all the half-clan cats he used to know.
"I can tell that there was a lot that shook you up badly lately. And knowing that either Lionclaw or I could help you by making you feel loved and wanted awakened the need for love on not one, but of two lives in you. A need you didn't give into, a need you pushed away, because you didn't know what it was in the first place."
That was true. Now that the ginger tom crouched here, buried in his father's fur, scent and care, he felt the strange ache and coldness that had gripped his heart lately vanish. It had hurt even more when he'd feared Nightstar had rejected him, but the second the black leader had crouched down next to him and started talking, the strange wound had started to mend. The coldness disappeared in the warmth that seeped through Fireheart's and the pain dwindled down into nothing when he gave into the need of comfort he was just so used to pushing away, never having known just what it was.
The ginger tom gave a little jerk when he suddenly felt a rough tongue gliding over his forehead, but relaxed just as soon when he realised it was just Nightstar. He wanted to pull away, complain about having other cats wash him, when he realised something. The familiar feeling of needing to get another's tongue of him was not there.
All he felt was contentment.
A soft purr rose up in his throat and the black tom next to him answered with his own. After a while Nightstar finally pulled back a little, to look at him. Fireheart looked up and two pairs of green eyes met. Fireheart felt like he had to say something. Some explanation to give, but all he got out in the end was a heartfelt: "Thank you."
Nightstar smiled down at his son warmly, then uncurled from him and said: "Maybe we should start heading back. It is past sunhigh already after all and many cats are worried about you." Fireheart winced a little at that, but nodded and followed his father down the tree. But then he hesitated. Turning his head he looked to where he knew the path to the Moonpool was hidden between some bushes. "Fireheart?"
The ginger tom glanced at his father, before he turned away from the black tom and headed for the path. Something was pulling him towards their best way to contact StarClan. The ginger tom didn't know where this pull was coming from, but he did trust StarClan and knew they had their reasons. "Fireheart?" Once again he glanced back at his father, who looked at him worriedly.
With a deep breath he turned to face his father and admitted: "It's StarClan. They're calling me."
Nightstar's eyes flashed with something Fireheart couldn't identify, before the black tom nodded and walked up to him. "Very well, lead the way then."
Blinking up at the still taller tom in confusion, Fireheart asked: "What?"
Nightstar chuckled at that and answered: "I told you, I will always be there for you and whether or not you intended to go alone, the soonest I will let you out of my sight again is once both of us return to camp."
Fireheart needed another few heartbeats to realise just what Nightstar was trying to tell him, but once he did, he couldn't hold back the purr that started rumbling from his chest. Nightstar chuckled again placed his nose on Fireheart's forehead. The ginger tom mentally shook his head. Really. How in the world had he become this attached to the black tom in front of him? Pushing the thought aside for later Fireheart turned around and leaped into the bushes. Some twigs clung to his fur, but he easily pulled free and stopped on the path to the Moonpool.
He heart rustling from behind him and glanced back. Nightstar just emerged from the bushes and the second the black tom was completely out Fireheart ran off. Anticipation and adrenalin burst through the ginger tom. He didn't understand why he felt like this just over StarClan calling him, but then, his emotions had been rather messed up lately anyway. Maybe it was that.
The second the Moonpool came into sight, he froze for a few heartbeats, only taking in the beautiful and familiar sight of the place Leafpool found when the clans had arrived at the lake. Pride rushed through him when he realised that this very place, the place Leafpool had realised could become just like the Moonstone, was still this very place. His own daughter had found this place and thus kept the clans connected to StarClan to this very moment Fireheart was in now.
"It is an amazing sight, no matter how often one sees it, is it not?"
Fireheart glanced to his left, to see Nightstar crouching next to him, gazing down at the pool as well. With a nod Fireheart answered: "It is. I saw it shortly after we first realised just what kind of special place this really was. To be so assured that our one gate to StarClan, the gate Leafpool found, is still there and still used like this…maybe not all we fought for was in vain."
"Unless a fight is for naught but violence and blood-thirst, it never is in vain. Something important always comes from it, be it just one small lesson that was learned." Nightstar's words had Fireheart nodding. The black leader was right of course. Why was he so doubting of everything lately? They sat in silence a while longer, when the black leader finally said:" Now then. I believe you said StarClan was calling you."
Fireheart looked at his father closely. He was tensed and his eyes shimmered with a mix of many emotions, but the two that stood out were worry and care. Relief rushed through the ginger tom. Nightstar might still struggle whether or not he should believe Fireheart's story, but he hadn't lied. He'd always be there for the ginger tom.
Fireheart rose up and swiftly made his way down to the Moonpool. Nightstar followed close behind and soon both reached the Moonpool's edge. Fireheart, after glancing at his father reassuringly, lowered his head and lapped up a bit of the water. He lay down and just before sleep claimed him he saw Nightstar copying him.
It was black for a short while, but then he heart the trilling songs of birds and the rustling of leaves.
Fireheart opened his eyes and sat up. Nightstar next to him did the same and both toms looked around. They, once again, had landed in the small clearing Fireheart had found with Sapphirefur. The thought of her name sent a painful pang through the ginger tom's heart, but he shook it off and looked to the left when some bushes rustled. Unfortunately he was to slow.
A dark ginger blur barrelled into him, knocking him over and pinning him down. He heard a soft hiss from Nightstar, but then a familiar scent reached his nose and he let out a cheer of delight. One that was echoed by the dark ginger atop him. "Squirrelflight", breathed the ginger tom and inhaled his first-born daughter's scent deeply.
"Father", whispered the she cat back and nuzzled his neck.
Fireheart wanted to simply stay like this and get lost in his daughter's familiar scent, when a voice laughed: "Come now Squirrelflight. You know you aren't the only one who missed him." Fireheart, once Squirrelflight had finally moved off him, sat up, to gasp. A total of eight more cats.
Nightstar sat nearby, looking quite bewildered, but seemed to feel somehow assured now that he realised Squirrelflight never tried to harm him. The black tom watched the happenings with wide but calculating eyes, but mostly Fireheart couldn't even care about that.
Standing up fully, he was almost knocked over once more before a familiar scent laced with the sharp aroma of herbs surrounded him. He purred softly and pressed his nose against the light brown tabby's forehead. "We all missed you so much father", meowed the tabby softly.
"I missed you all too Leafpool", breathed the ginger tom back. Leafpool stepped back, only to have a snow-white she-cat and a yellow she-cat attack him next. "Snownight, Honeycloud." Each she-cat was from a different litter, Snownight being the elder of the two, but also in life the two had been very close. The two pressed against his flanks tightly, before stepping back and to their eldest sisters.
Fireheart looked back to the cats that hadn't greeted him yet, to come face to face with a female version of himself. Her emerald eyes gleamed lively and her head was raised proudly. The posture of a leader, Fireheart realised and he tilted his head in question. Could it really be? Suddenly the she-cat laughed and answered: "You're observation is correct father. I succeeded Lionstar as ThunderClan's leader when he joined StarClan."
A purr rumble in the tom and he pressed his nose to her forehead. "I'm proud of you Strawberrystar." The she-cat purred as well and with a soft chuckle she licked his shoulder in a familiar fashion, drawing a laugh from him.
Finally she stepped back and two deeper voices purred: "Father", before he found his two only sons pressed against him. On his right was a small sand-coloured tom, both of his ears torn. It still amazed Fireheart how much his eldest son looked like his mother. On his left towered Flamescar, a dark-ginger tom with amber-eyes and a scar over his back. He'd gotten it when he'd still been a kit. A fox had managed to get into the Nursery and had grabbed him. They'd gotten him back, but the fox had torn his back open. Firestar had gone into a blind rage then and his warriors had only too gladly helped him in tearing the disgusting poacher apart.
Now only two she-cats were left: Robintail, a ginger she-cat with white paws and tail-tip and Russettail, a pale-ginger she-cat with dark-ginger spots in her fur. Both were again from different litters, but just as close as Snownight and Honeycloud were. The two copied their sisters and when they stepped Fireheart finally managed to get his elation under control and asked: "Not that I am not delighted to see all of you again, but why did you call me here?"
Strawberrylight coughed at that and answered: "That is just it father. It wasn't us that called for you."
"Then who did?", asked the ginger tom surprised.
Before his kits could answer a short gasp from Nightstar caught his attention and he turned around, to almost sigh. He should've known. Because near Nightstar, who did look intimidated, yet not very surprised, towered a familiar amber-eyed tom. Fireheart turned fully and walked up to ThunderClan's current leader and its founder. Stopping next to his father he dipped his head and greeted: "Thunder."
A laugh sounded from the founder of ThunderClan and he looked up, to see the other's amber eyes resting on Nightstar, who had taken a step back, now looking genuinely shocked.
"You see, this is what Bramblestar explained to you so many moons ago. This is how cats used to show us respect." Fireheart blinked at that, then he chuckled too. He still didn't fully understand what had scared the Clans enough to have their cats crouch down in front of StarClan as if they were going to murder them any second. That and apparently while Thunder had paid Nightstar some visits, he'd never revealed his name to the black tom.
"Father?", questioned Fireheart the black tom softly.
Said tom blinked a few times, then shook his head and gave a soft groan. "This is too much for one day."
Thunder smiled warmly and offered: "You may lie down and rest here for a while Nightstar. This is much to take in and we have time."
The black tom gave a grateful nod and Fireheart slid to stand by his flank, allowing the shaken tom to lean against him while he led him near the stream. There Nightstar sunk to the ground and closed his eyes. Fireheart bent down and licked his father's head and neck in an attempt to help him calm down. It was the least he could do after everything Nightstar had done for him today already.
Both toms' heads snapped up.
Fireheart hadn't spoken, but the voice sounded so remarkably similar to his own, that Nightstar had reacted out of sheer reflex. Fireheart on the other hand had recognized the voice immediately and focused on Sunclaw. Flamescar stood near him and behind them he saw how the rest of his kits slowly left the clearing. In the end only Leafpool remained, sitting near Thunder. He looked at Sunclaw enquiringly and the pale ginger tom explained: "We came here when we found out Thunder called for you because…well we saw how you felt lately and hoped we could help. But…we have to leave now so…"
A laugh came from the reborn warrior and he soothed: "It is alright Sunclaw. I do not mind that you have to leave. And I am incredibly grateful for your help, because you all really did help." Both of his sons relaxed at his words, then they stepped forward, nuzzled him and finally shot off.
Fireheart glanced back at Nightstar, who had closed his eyes again, his ears twitching in rhythm to the stream flowing next to him. Deciding to leave the black tom be for now, Fireheart rose to his paws and silently made his way over to Thunder and Leafpool.
The second he arrived, he already asked: "Why did you call Thunder?"
It probably was a little rude, but Fireheart himself was exhausted by now. All he really wanted to do was get back to camp and curl up against Sandstorm.
Thunder gave a soft sigh and answered: "Things have been growing tense in StarClan and around the lake Fireheart. As I a sure you have noticed with the latter."
Fireheart gave a slow nod. While they had helped them against BloodClan, each time Fireheart saw a ShadowClan cat they seemed, he didn't want to say evil but definitely darker. "How is Shadow holding up?", asked the ginger tom softly.
"Not well I'm afraid. Lately each of us five used up a lot of power", explained ThunderClan's first leader, "Do not worry yourself about that though", added the leaf-coloured tom when he saw Fireheart tense, "We'll be alright. But Shadow, in addition to being weakened, has to watch her clan fall to darkness once more. And we can do nothing to stop them. But that is not all."
Fireheart tilted his head in question, but this time Leafpool answered him. "We're also still stumped over what role Scourge and WindClan play in this whole mess", explained the she-cat softly. "Scourge never really had any connection to us, so why and especially how did he come back. We just don't know. As for WindClan-"
"As for WindClan, I may have an idea about that", cut Fireheart in. Both StarClan cats twitched their ears in interest and he elaborated: "During a gathering Greystripe and I, as well as some WindClan apprentices, listened to one of their elders tell a legend." He hesitated for a second, then continued: "The legend…it was about our battle against the Place of no Stars."
"What? But I thought the clans have all but forgotten", hissed Leafpool.
"ThunderClan, RiverClan and ShadowClan did", agreed Fireheart, "But WindClan didn't. They held the stories and legends close and retold them again and again. Names were lost over the seasons, but they still know most of the rest."
Thunder nodded thoughtfully, before he mused: "Maybe…but no."
"Maybe what?", chorused Fireheart and Leafpool.
Thunder looked at both of them and said: "Maybe…ThunderClan is not the only clan that needs to know about our situation."
"You want us to tell WindClan about this?", exclaimed Fireheart. "Are you mousebrained. I would trust WindClan to keep my back in a battle anytime. But this? You saw Nightstar's reaction!"
"Father is right Thunder. This is…how do you even think we should, or rather they should do this", burst Leafpool out now, her fur bristling.
"Oh you will find that 'we should' is the adequate term for my idea", answered Thunder softly. Father and daughter shared a bewildered glance. What? Thunder paid them no mind and continued: "I thought we could start small. For example start dropping small hints to Sunnydawn during each Halfmoon. Once she figured it out, or realised enough for us to actually tell her, we can worry about other things. Spottedleaf and Splashwhisker both know what is at stake and they both can handle themselves well in almost any situation."
Leafpool sat back slowly, then muttered: "I…suppose that is an idea and…it wouldn't interfere with Spottedleaf's other idea either."
"Other idea?", asked Fireheart. Leafpool nodded and explained: "She isn't certain if she really wishes to go through with it, but while ShadowClan does fall to darkness, Rootwhisker has not been affected the slightest yet. He even is mourning about the changes he sees in his beloved clan."
Fireheart went over his daughters words in his head a second time, before they made complete sense to him. "So, Spottedleaf is debating with herself whether or not she should let ShadowClan's medicine cat in on the situation too." Thinking about it, it was certainly not one of the worse plans they could've had. "I suppose…I could ask Spottedleaf to go through with her idea and tell her of yours", murmured the ginger tom after a while.
Thunder nodded his head in thanks, then glanced behind Fireheart and smiled. "Then we bid each other farewell for now Fireheart", said the leaf-coloured tom loudly. Then he bent down and murmured: "You still have some time. Explain a few things to your father, best starting with Firestar's roots. And be carefully. Remember, if you cross the stream, you'll turn into Firestar again." He pulled back and rose to his full height.
"May all of StarClan light your path", whispered Leafpool to him, before she moved to follow ThunderClan's first leader off the clearing.
"May they always shine bright for you", called the ginger tom after them.
"I take it this was the Leafpool you mentioned at the Moonpool?", came Nightstar's voice from close behind him.
Fireheart nodded his head and answered: "Yes, this is the Leafpool I talked about. One of my daughters and the medicine cat that found the Moonpool when the clans arrived at the lake."
He looked behind him, to find Nightstar still looking rather shaken, but the black tome bravely pushed on and asked: "Arrived? Do you mean to tell me the legends of the old forest are true?"
Fireheart winced at the reminder of what they had lost. The old forest. Oh how he missed it. "Yes", whispered the ginger tom finally. "All legends have some truth in them. It was a dangerous and exhausting journey from the forest to the lake. Each clan suffered, some more than others", images of Tallstar's last heartbeats and Greystripe being carried away by twolegs burst through his head, "but in the end, it was worth everything. We'd found a new place to call home."
"You were there?", asked Nightstar in surprise.
"There?", questioned the ginger tom with a chuckle. "I was ThunderClan's leader when we made the journey. And I was its leader a long time afterwards." He looked back up, to find Nightstar scanning him.
After a while the black tom admitted: "There was always something different about you. The way you talk, act and hold yourself, but only today I realise what it is. I should've recognized the behavioural pattern of a clan-leader a lot sooner."
Fireheart smiled at that and answered: "Maybe you should have, but I'm glad you didn't. Otherwise Bluefur and I would have had a lot of explaining to do."
"Bluefur?", asked Nightstar.
"Yes. In our first lives she was not only leader before me, but my mentor too."
Nightstar nodded in understanding, then admitted: "There is something I still do not quite understand." Fireheart locked eyes with his father, silently telling him to go ahead. "We are ThunderClan cats. Even if your parents were never there for you, in which I take they most likely died, all of ThunderClan should've been there to catch you and give you the care you need. So why is it all so foreign to you?"
Fireheart now winced strong enough for Nightstar to see it as well and the black tom blinked in surprise. "Fireheart?"
Taking a deep but shuddering breath, Fireheart made his way over to the stream and explained: "This will be easier for both of us when you see me as Firestar when I explain myself." In one great leap his was over the stream and felt his body shifting a little. Once it stopped he looked back at Nightstar, who stood on the other side of the stream, his eyes wide in amazement. "You wanted to know why I never really had any care or love in the way I have it now, correct", questioned the former leader. He saw Nightstar twitch at his deeper voice, but the black tom nodded and settled down directly across him. The stream happily gurgled along between them and Firestar took a deep breath. It was now or never.
"I was never a ThunderClan cat by blood Nightstar. StarClan led me to find ThunderClan when I was six moons old. But before that." Firestar bit back a wince. Why was this so hard?
"I was born a kittypet."
I know there's been a lot of talking please, but you Need to understand why. Splashwhisker, Reedheart and Sapphirefur didn't know the ten of them so well yet when they foudn out the truth, so it was easier then.
But Nightstar and Fireheart spent more than a year as father and son now and now this. In Addition to what some of you may still remember from "Back to Life" kittypets are even wrose off in the Clans in this time than they used to be and it hasn't passed much time since Nightstar forgave Scarpath.
All that pushed together and the fact off all the stress our ten reborn cats went through, I think it's understandable that there is much to explain.
BTW, what did you think of the Family reunion? Was it okay or too rushed? I know it was rather short but while Thunder said they had time that time wasn't unlimited.