I am so full of crap, aren't I?
Anyway, this is my new project, Sidestep-astonishingly, it starts with an S. I know, I'm wiggin', too, for realz. And now I will tell you what it's about.
Remember waaaaay long ago in Outcast when those random rogues come and attack the Tribe? Well, therein, there was a tortoiseshell she-cat with lightning-like stripes on her face consistently mentioned named Twist. She attacked with the rogues a few times and then disappeared. So, when Erin Hunter was asked, "What happened to Twist?" she responded-get this-"Who?"
So I decided to bring Twist into the limelight.
Not to mention I'm a total sucker for Warriors fanfiction. God, I'm such a nerd. XDDDDDDDDD
So this is gonna be a full-blown fic, natch. 100K or BUST.
It was a very quick decision.
Twist had always been levelheaded—or so her mother told her—so when the big-shot leader Stripes stood up and said they were going to go after the nearby cats—those that called themselves the Tribe—she hadn't been so sure of that. Sure Stripes was charismatic, but she remembered him when they were both kits. He'd always had to have the biggest piece of prey, the softest place of moss, no matter who already had it. It had rubbed her the wrong way for seasons.
But she'd gone along with it. Who was really to say anything against it? Kits were starving, queens were going unfed. It wasn't their fault, Stripes assured them all, that the situation was like this. Not when the Tribe had superfluous food and nothing to do with it. It just sharing—Stripes loved to throw that word around—just taking the leftovers.
So sure, she'd gone along with that too. Her belly was just as empty as the rest of them.
But then she'd gone into battle for the first time.
Screeching, writhing masses of cats, cats everywhere, pressing against her, clawing her, biting her. She couldn't stand it. The scent of blood had filled her nostrils, sharp and sweet and sickening, and she hated it, hated every moment of it. She didn't want anything to do with it. Never again. She never wanted to feel the slashing of claws down her flanks or feel teeth meet in her ear. It was repulsive.
But what had really been the deciding factor in the decision was the look in his eyes.
That tom—her age, maybe close to twelve moons, a little over, possibly—had the most…empty eyes in the world. Dully glowing, like a flame seen through heavy fog, and just blank. No expression. No feeling. Nothing but bloodlust and a thirst to inflict pain.
Her claws had retracted into her paws and she'd just batted at him. Terror had choked her—the thought of those dead eyes watching her writhe in pain paralyzed her in fear. He'd quickly dispatched her with a few light scratches but it had been enough.
She'd had enough.
The night after it was over—Stripes surrendering pitifully, begging for the assurance that no harm would come to the kits and queens—they'd gathered farther down the mountain, a miserable little shelf that jutted out the wall by the stream.
Stripes, bloodied and ruffled, limped in front of them, his eyes resolutely locked on the path ahead of them.
Flick, a little brown twerp with ears disproportionally large compared to his body, whined, "Stripes, we need to go back and fight more. We can take them!"
And Stripes whirled on him, shoving him to the ground with sharp-clawed paws, until the smaller cat shrieked. "Feel that, Flick?" he snarled. "Feel those injuries? Do you want to go back and feel that some more? You want to have your fur clawed off?" He let him up, shooting the other cat a disgusted look. "Be my guest. But don't expect me to follow you."
Flick, wide-eyed and shaking, fell silently to the back of the group.
Flora shot him a sympathetic look and Twist pushed back the urge to roll her eyes. She was just as bad as Flick, Twist thought dully, wincing at the pain in her front paw. Not to mention she thinks he hangs the moon, she added.
Stripes' best cat, Hazard, padded up to him. "Stripes, we must rest," he said softly. "We can't take much more."
Stripes just stared at him, his expression freezing. "Keep moving."
Twist hated it when he looked like that. He was so far from the cat she'd played with when they were kits.
But Hazard was calm, his pale eyes tranquil. "We must rest," he repeated, stronger this time.
Stripes bared his teeth but Hazard did not back down. After a moment of tension, with the rest of the group looking on with a sort of dull anticipation, Stripes looked away, his hackles raised. "We will rest for a moment," he rasped. "No more than that."
Hazard's expression turned quickly to relief, and he dipped his head respectfully to his leader.
Twist knew why. Even from here, she could see the look in Hazard's eyes as he looked at Ruby. The she-cat's belly was heavy with kits, and it was glaringly obvious who the father was.
Padding over to where the other young cats were lying, Twist collapsed on her belly, flicking her tortoiseshell tail over her nose and closing her eyes. She felt the warm weight of a cat settle down beside her but didn't even acknowledge the presence of another. That's really how it was in the gang, as Stripes liked to call them: you warmed your brothers and protected them, but your own safety came first. If an eagle swooped down that instant, the cat who was lying next to her would run without a backward glance at her. And she would do the same, without a second thought.
But she couldn't sleep that night. Tossing and turning, she kept her eyes closed, hoping that sleep would come and take her, away from the pain of her wounds and the abrasiveness of the gang and somewhere else. Her mother had liked to tell stories about it, whatever was away from this mountain, and how there was grass and green and trees. Twist had seen trees, of course, but they were scraggly, clinging to the rock edges of the mountain's face with tenacious claw-like roots. She'd seen the color green—her mother's eyes were green, though her own were amber. But she'd never seen grass. And, she admitted to herself, opening her eyes to look up at the cold sky and shivering, she would very much like to see grass.
And that's really when the idea clicked into place in her head.
She got to her paws, her breath coming in wild pants as the realization struck her: she didn't have to be here. She didn't have to be with the gang. There was no point to it, that was clear now—she had no kin here, no friends either with her newly-found cynical personality. What was keeping her here?
Loyalty? She nearly laughed aloud at the prospect. Did any cat here really have attachment to the gang? Would any of them really stay here if they had anywhere else to go?
But she bit her lip, looking over to where she could see Stripes' ragged gray fur. What would he think when he awoke to find her gone? Would he try and find her? After all, they used to be friends—nearly littermates, as far as she recalled.
Then she imagined the situation reversed and made her decision.
Stepping lightly over Flora's trailing tail, past Yarrow's bulging belly, shuffling around Spence and Lily and Fang and Juniper and Climber, and toward the edge of the rock cliff, she stopped at the edge, her paws nearly hanging off the edge. She looked down over the edge, feeling exhilarated by the rush of wind that pressed back her whiskers and flattened the fur of her face. She closed her eyes, loving the sensation. It almost felt like being free.
"What are you doing?"
She whirled at the furious voice. Stripes stood behind her, his fur spiked with outrage. Hiding her fear, she said, "Hello, Stripes. How are you?"
"What," he repeated, "are you doing, Twist?"
She turned away from him, back to that dazzling cliff face. "Leaving."
"Leaving!" He sounded stunned.
"Yes. Leaving." She looked at him, seeing the confusion on his face. "I don't want to be here anymore. I want to go home."
"This is your home," he snapped, his momentary lapse in anger gone. "The gang is your home. We're—"
"Oh, I swear if you say 'a family' I'll be ill," she hissed, furious now. "We aren't a family, Stripes! This is not a family. A family is warm and comforting! This is just…it's not. The gang is a group of nobodies with nowhere to go, no den to live in, no lands to hunt in. Those Tribe cats kicked us out of the only place we've ever really been settled. I don't want to do this anymore! I don't want to wander around!" She was on a roll now, her brow furrowed and her voice taut with fury. "Don't you get it, Stripes? We're nothing, and we'll always be nothing."
His eyes were narrowed to furious slits. "Shut up!" he spat. "You're just upset that we lost this time, but next time—"
"Next time what?" She was so angry she was shaking. "Next time we'll win, is that what you were going to say? Because I don't care."
He just looked at her, like he didn't recognize her.
Taking a deep breath, she added in a lower voice, "You're the one that always says to value your own life above everyone else's, aren't you? Well, this is me doing that."
He flattened his ears but said nothing.
She walked right past him, nearly brushing his shoulder. Stopping on the edge of the decline, she said over her shoulder, "Goodbye, Stripes."
He didn't turn around. She nearly walked away before he spoke. "If you leave, you will always be nothing, Twist. You're nothing without the gang. And we won't miss you."
She didn't stop walking.
Twist didn't break composure until she was far out of Stripes' range. Falling heavily onto the cliff face, pressing her shoulder against the freezing stone, she closed her eyes tightly shut and just stood there.
What are you thinking? It was nearly the frozen-time of the year, and snow would soon be covering the entire mountain face. Without the warmth of another cat, how would she survive? She could hunt for herself, sure, but it was so much easier with another cat.
Well, you can cut that out right now, she told herself, shaking her fur out as if that would get rid of the thought. No one's here to help you. You're on your own, just like you wanted.
The moon was full and round as she made her way in a random direction. She'd never really been good at direction, but maybe if she walked toward where the ground was lower, she'd find some path to lead her down…
A river murmured nearby—that would be a good thing to know. Water meant prey, and prey meant survival. She cataloged it away in the back of her mind, trying to make a mental map of the terrain so far. The mountain still extended onward and seemingly infinitely upwards, disappearing into a dizzyingly high cloud that she could see the outline of, backlit silver by the full moon.
She was startled out of her musing by a mumbling voice. Darting into the nearest crag in the rock and pressing her flank to the icy stone, she peered out around the edge of the sharp rock, feeling her legs tremble.
I am not afraid, I am not afraid, I am not afraid. She squeezed her eyes shut, her heart hammering in her chest, hating herself for falling back on old, well-worn patterns. I am not afraid, I am not afraid, I am not afraid.
Only once the nausea had passed did she open her eyes.
She saw the shadow before she saw the cat, creeping up the edge of the rise. It was a large, slender cat, with tall pricked ears and a sweeping plumy tail. She could tell it was a tom by the width of the shoulders, but she couldn't make out the color.
He padded carelessly, with the ease of one who doesn't know how dangerous the situation was. His pawsteps were not well-placed, and as she watched, he stumbled a few times, his paws catching on the cracks that she could see even from her distance.
As he walked into a pool of moonlight, she saw that he had beautiful fur—red-brown and luxuriously thick, with tan banding on his long legs and a white belly and paws—and dark eyes.
He's handsome. The thought struck her quickly and embarrassingly, and she felt stupid for thinking it at all.
He trotted on, unaware of being watched, until he was right alongside the river.
He doesn't see it, she realized. Two more pawsteps and he'd be far over the edge, tumbling with the turbulent water down to the bottom of the mountain, and he surely wouldn't be alive by then.
"Hey!" she shouted, dashing out from her hiding place and heading right for him. "Look out!"
He turned to her, his eyes a bright and vivid green, and looked astonished. "Huh?"
"The river!" She stopped in front of him, not even out of breath. "It's right behind you. Don't go close to it."
"Oh." He didn't sound very concerned. "Behind me?" He turned, far too quickly, and lost his balance.
"Idiot!" she spat fiercely, reaching forward to sink her teeth into his thick neck fur.
His weight nearly pulled them both over, but Twist dug in her claws, eliciting hair-raising screeches from the rough stone. Her neck ached as the tom flailed wildly.
"Hold still," she muttered through her mouthful of fur. "You'll be the death of us both."
He stopped thrashing, but his chest heaved, his breath in her face as he panted hard. His eyes were very close to hers; she nearly had to cross her eyes to look at him. "Okay," he breathed. "Okay. Pull me up, please."
Obviously. Twist yanked back and he came jerking over the edge, his shoulder bumping along the rock. Making sure he was firmly on the flat surface, she dropped him. Without a backwards glance, she began to walk away.
She hadn't gotten too far away before he yelled, "Wait!"
Not even turning around, she felt him come padding up beside her. "Thanks a lot," he said, puffing a little. "I thought I was a goner there for a moment."
"You would have been," she said roughly. "Be more careful. You almost died."
"Yeah, but you saved me." His voice was open, friendly. Disarming, Twist thought. "Thank you so much. I'm not used to walking around up here, you know. I haven't been up in the mountains for more than a few days, if you can believe it."
I can totally believe it. She ignored him, hoping he would go away.
"It's so big here," he continued, seemingly unaware of her cold silence. "So wide. The air is colder up here, too. Not like down there."
"You might want to be on your way," she hinted.
He stopped in his tracks for a moment, one white paw in midair. "But now I owe you! You saved my life!"
Twist narrowed her eyes. "You don't owe me anything. Just go away."
His voice was hurt when he replied, "But I want to pay you back. I wouldn't even be here right now if it wasn't for you." He padded up next to her, his long tail swishing behind him.
Twist flattened her ears and ignored him, but the tom just bounced alongside her.
"What's your name?" he asked cheerfully, his brilliant green eyes on her.
Fighting a growl in the back of her throat, she countered suspiciously, "What's yours?"
"Declan," he answered easily.
"Deck-what?" She shot him a sour look, not sure if he was being serious.
"Declan," he repeated. "It's Declan."
"What kind of stupid name is that?" she spat crossly. "Did you just make that up?"
He chuckled, flicking his tail behind him. "You're mean," he said pleasantly. "But yes, that's my real name. A good name, too. It just rolls off your tongue. Go ahead, say it. Declan. Deck-lan." He drew the word out ridiculously, and Twist felt her whiskers twitching.
Noticing that, his bravado increased dramatically, and he curled his bushy tail over his back, slanting his eyes toward her and purring. "So what's your name, pretty she-cat?"
That soured her mood quickly. "It's really none of your business. I didn't ask you to come along."
"Ah, but you saved me from that thing back there." He tilted his head to point to something vaguely behind him.
"That thing, as you so quaintly put it, was a river. What kind of idiot just wanders off the edge of a cliff? Didn't your mother teach you sense?"
"I did have something distracting me." He looked at her pointedly.
She sighed heavily, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. "Go away, tom. I don't have time for this."
"It's not Tom," he corrected. "It's Declan. Is that so difficult to comprehend?"
Twist just kept walking, one ear twisted behind her head. This was annoying—all she wanted to do was just leave that bunch of stupid mouse-brains and what's the first thing she finds? Another mouse-brain! Stars above, was it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet?
"It's fine," he said suddenly, surprising her with the gentleness of his voice. "You don't have to tell me your name. We can just walk together, if that's alright. I'm afraid of the dark." Almost hesitantly, he asked, "Are you?"
Surprising herself, she answered: "I'm not."
"No?" Now that teasing note was back in his voice. "What are you afraid of, then?"
"Nothing," she nearly growled, and he laughed.
"Surely you're afraid of something."
"Look, that's kind of a private matter, don't you think?" She shot him a dirty look. "So leave well enough alone."
"Ouch." He pretended to flinch. "That was mean."
Twist repressed the desire to curl her lip. "Sorry," she said, making it clear that she was anything but.
Declan shook his head. "I'm not used to seeing such cross she-cats. Are there more like you around here, because if so, I'd like to go the other way."
Twist sighed. "No, there aren't any more like me. I'm absolutely unique."
"Well, that's good," Declan said agreeably, "because I think I'd like to get to know you better, mysterious she-cat."
She stopped cold. "Get to know me?" she echoed.
"Yeah," he said easily. "You know, friends. We could hang out together, hunt, fish, travel. It'll be fun!"
She was dumbfounded. No one had ever wanted to be friends with her before. In the gang, you had brothers and sisters—or so they were called, though Twist had no blood brothers or sisters—but never friends. The most important thing is one's own survival. Friends meant that you had to look out for someone else, not yourself all the time. What did that really mean? Could she even have friends? What if she wasn't built for that kind of relationship?
But Declan's dark green eyes were bright with emotion. She tried to imagine herself looking like that at another cat and couldn't. She couldn't even identify what emotion he had in those eyes.
You're nothing without the gang. That's what Stripes had said.
Teeth gritted, she knew what she had to do. Everything—anything—to be different from the gang.
"I'd like that a lot," she said, her voice steady, surprising herself once again. "It's nice to meet you, Declan. And the name's Twist."
Well, hopefully that wasn't too awful. And be prepared for me not to update as beastly as I used to, 'cause college is very busy-making. Especially when you're a writing major. Siiiiiiiiigh.
Anyway, hope you liked it. Twist isn't even freaking listed as a character under the FFnet thing, so...I don't know. That should change. Let's all band together and give Twist some love! (No, not in that way, you sicko.)