Disclaimer: I don't own the Warriors series or any of their characters. I just made up Branchkit and Whitekit. This story probably isn't cannon at all and probably has plenty of OOCness. If that bothers you: leave. You've been warned.
Warnings: murder/fratricide (again, warned)
Reason: Ok, some of you might be familiar with my other fic What's in a Name, I'm pretty much writing this for the fans of that story. Not saying you have to read that story to understand this one(although they are kind of similar). I'm just mainly writing this because I didn't update that story for a really long time so I felt bad so I wrote this up in church(weird, I know) and in class to try to make amends for that. Also, I really like the character Darkstripe from the books(because yes, you fans of mine, I'm using the actual Darkpaw for this, not the one I made up) and I wish he'd been more evil. And did any of you guys notice he seems to have a thing for killing kits? He tries to kill Sorrelkit and Greystripe's kits, it's crazy. So, yeah, that's about it. If you don't like the idea of kits being/committing murder/ed, then STOP READING NOW AND GO CHOOSE ANOTHER FIC! There, I warned you AGAIN so you can't complain if this creeps you out.
Darkpaw walked through the forest silently beside his mentor. He could feel the anger radiating off of Tigerclaw in waves and he was bracing himself for the bigger tabby to whirl around and unleash his furry. Tigerclaw's hard voice made Darkpaw jump.
"You failed, again," Tigerclaw growled, not breaking stride.
"It's not like I meant to. All the other apprentices are bigger than me and older," Darkpaw defended.
Tigerclaw rounded on him suddenly. "THAT'S NO EXCUSE!" he shouted, "YOU'RE MY APPRENTICE! YOUR FAILURE MAKES ME LOOK BAD!"
"I'm sorry," Darkpaw said, unable to think of anything else.
"Sorry? You're sorry? I don't need your apologies, Darkpaw! I need you to stop being worthless!" Tigerclaw shouted.
Darkpaw laid his ears flat against his head and closed his eyes. He hated being yelled at. StarClan had a funny sense of humor giving him his idol to mentor him, then forcing him to endure Tigerclaw's constant criticism delivered through near-endless yelling. He had only just become an apprentice less then a moon ago, he hadn't expected to be considered a failure so soon. But then, no one else had exactly wanted to take him on as an apprentice either.
"LOOK AT ME!" Tigerclaw ordered and Darkpaw did as he said. "Tomorrow you're going to be doing fighting drills ALL NIGHT if you have to until you get them right!"
"Ok," Darkpaw said calmly. This was one of Tigerclaw's medium days. There were good, bad, and medium days that Darkpaw had more or less managed to map out. Good days consisted of minimal yelling and they actually stopped training before the sun had set too low. Bad days were almost nothing but yelling and criticism and there had even been a few instances of Tigerclaw attacking the apprentice. Medium days, like the kind Darkpaw had classified this day as, had a moderate amount of yelling with plenty of criticism, but any attacks were mild. Unfortunately, days like this tended to be cut short with promises of much longer training days to come. Tigerclaw tended to keep his promises. Darkpaw was still awaiting that golden day when he would receive some sort of compliment from his mentor. As time went on, however, this was sounding more and more like an impossible fantasy.
Darkpaw walked back into camp, head held low, not hiding the fact that he had, once again, been chewed out by his mentor. He was the first apprentice back, again, and heaved a large sigh as he flopped down outside the apprentices' den. No one paid him any attention, as usual, and he didn't mind. He felt like being alone now, anyway. Of course, StarClan still had a funny sense of humor.
"Aw, look at poor Darkpaw. Get told off by your mentor again, Darkpaw?" came a high-pitched and, to Darkpaw, unbearably annoying voice, "I don't blame Tigerclaw for yelling at you all the time. If I was his apprentice, he'd never yell at me. You know why?"
"Leave me alone, Branchkit," Darkpaw mumbled, rolling over and putting his paws over his ears to try to block out the voice.
Branchkit was the last kit in the nursery. He had been born just a moon after Darkpaw and would be made an apprentice in a week or so, but he resented Darkpaw for having gotten Tigerclaw as a mentor, believing Darkpaw didn't deserve such a great warrior to mentor him.
Branchkit ignored Darkpaw's obvious annoyance and disinterest, as always. "He'd never yell and me because I'd be a better apprentice than you'd ever be."
"With how annoying you are, I bet you won't. Your mentor won't be able to stand you," Darkpaw snapped.
Branchkit's face clouded in anger. "You don't know anything! You're just jealous because everyone's better than you, especially Whitekit!" he shouted.
It was Darkpaw's turn to get angry. He didn't like people to bring up his brother, or any of his now-dead siblings.
Darkpaw had been the fourth-born of his litter as well as the runt. His two sisters had died in leaf-bare leaving only himself and his brother, Whitekit. Everyone had adored Whitekit. All the kits, all the queens, and Darkpaw knew that even his parents favored his brother. Whitekit had been Branchkit's best friend. He'd been everyone's best friend. He was good at everything. He was strong, fast, brave, as well as 'gentle and kind', everything a ThunderClan kit should be. Darkpaw, however, was not. He was solitary and, as the medicine cat put it, 'anti-social'. Darkpaw didn't know what that word meant, but after the medicine cat had said it, his parents had seemed to like him even less and his brother even more. Darkpaw was jealous, though he'd never admit it. He was smarter than the others, he knew because he spent more time thinking. They weren't really all that better than him. Part of him hated Whitekit. No, not really part of him. He had hated his brother completely.
Then, one day, a little over two moons ago, while everyone was supposed to be asleep, Whitekit had been restless. Since the ever-so-polite kit hadn't wanted to wake up any of the other queens' kits, he had shaken his brother awake.
'Darkkit, hey, Darkkit, wake up!" Whitekit had whispered urgently while shaking his brother's shoulder.
"Mph, what?' Darkkit had whispered back, not bothering to open his eyes.
"Wake up and play with me. Come on," Whitekit urged.
"Why don't you ask someone else to play with you?" Darkkit said, trying to roll away from his brother's prodding.
"I can't," Whitekit said, not stopping his actions to try to rouse Darkkit to full consciousness.
"Why not? I'm sure everyone wants to play with you."
"No, everyone's asleep," Whitekit said like it was the simplest thing in the world.
Suddenly Darkkit was fully awake. His eyes snapped open and he looked around the nursery. It was true. All the kits, all the queens, everyone was asleep. It was even dark out. "You woke me up in the middle of the night just because you wanted to play?" Darkkit snapped.
"I couldn't sleep," Whitekit said simply.
"I don't care if you couldn't sleep! Leave me alone!" Darkkit had to struggle to keep his voice low enough so that he didn't wake everyone up, though he didn't much care about them sleeping. He just didn't want to take the blame for it when it was Whitekit's fault.
"Darkkit, come on, you're my brother. Don't you want to play with me?" Whitekit asked, sounding hurt and putting on a sad face.
"You've never wanted to play with me before," Darkkit countered.
"Darkkit, that's not true. I always want to play with you. You just seem happier playing by yourself. You know you can join in with us any time," Whitekit insisted innocently.
"That's a load of crap!" Darkkit was fuming now.
Whitekit rolled his eyes. "Oh get over it, I want to play with you now so just be happy about it and let's go," he said.
Darkkit scowled at his brother. He took a moment to reflect on Whitekit. He'd never really liked him and Whitekit had returned the feeling. Whitekit was a showoff. He liked making sure everyone was watching when he did something dangerous. Like the time he'd climbed to the top of the nursery and made sure all the kits, including Darkkit, were watching and he gathered the attention of all the queens making them cry out with worry and rush to catch him when he jumped off. Of course their father had praised Whitekit for his bravery after scolding him then proceeded to ask Darkkit why he never tried doing something special. Darkkit had responded by saying 'Because I'm not a stuck-up idiot' which had led to a sound punishment from his father, a scolding from his mother, and a rough wrestling match from his brother that Darkkit had lost in no time at all. To make matters worse, Whitekit always wrestled with, and defeated, his brother where everyone in camp could see. Darkkit had known why Whitekit did this. He was trying to get the attention of all the warriors to showoff his skill, but he didn't like doing this with the older kits because he risked loosing in front of everyone. His method had worked. Whitekit had been the one to first catch the eye of Tigerclaw, something he boasted about constantly. Had he lived, he'd probably be the one apprenticed under Tigerclaw and Darkpaw would have gotten someone else.
"Darkkit, come on! Stop being so slow!" Whitekit complained, snapping Darkkit out of his thoughts.
"Alright, alright, I'm coming," Darkkit hissed and followed Whitekit out of the den. They weren't supposed to be outside of the den at night, but Whitekit didn't follow as many rules as everyone thought. As Darkkit followed after the white body, he decided it was time Whitekit learned he wasn't so great.
As soon as Darkpaw set paw outside the den, Whitekit jumped on him and threw him to the ground quickly.
"You're so easy," Whitekit complained.
Darkkit was instantly annoyed. How was he supposed to teach Whitekit a lesson this way? He was going to snap at him, but he swallowed his words as an idea came to his mind. He found he liked this idea and a smile curled on his lips.
"What are you smiling about?" Whitekit asked suspiciously.
"You think you're so great, but I bet you couldn't beat me if we were in a tree," Darkkit said.
"In a tree?" Whitekit asked, his face showing his disbelief.
"Yeah, like that tree over there," Darkkit said, pointing with his tail to a tree not far from the nursery. It had a small branch that was just barely thickening and was not very far off the ground. The kits could reach it easily enough. "See, I have better balance than you so I bet I'd beat you," Darkkit said smoothly. His brother wasn't the only one capable of being charismatic, though no one really knew this.
"As if! I'm better than you in everything," Whitekit scoffed.
"Prove it then, unless you don't think you can," Darkkit said.
"Fine, I will," Whitekit said and raced over to the tree.
Darkkit followed him, intentionally allowing Whitekit to push past him and climb into the tree first. Darkkit also exaggerated how much trouble he was having getting into the tree. Whitekit laughed and taunted Darkkit until he finally made it onto the branch.
"Sure you don't just want to give up now?" Whitekit laughed, "I promise not to tell anyone."
Darkkit knew this was a lie. Whitekit would never pass up an opportunity to brag. "No, I'm not backing down," he said.
"Alright, but I gave you a chance."
Whitekit rushed at Darkkit and Darkkit rushed to meet him. The two collided in the middle of the branch and it swayed and bounced dangerously. Whitekit took no notice of it and simply focused on trying to find a way to pin his brother without throwing him off the branch. Darkkit, however, had other ideas. Darkkit shoved with all his might, forcing Whitekit backwards towards the thinner end of the branch. Eventually, Whitekit's footing began to slip and he almost fell.
Darkkit smirked. "Hey, land on your feet," he said before giving Whitekit one last shove and leaping off the branch back towards the trunk of the tree. The absence of his weight caused the branch to whip about, pulling Whitekit's paws out from under him and he fell from the branch, hitting the ground hard.
Darkkit climbed down the tree and walked over to the place where Whitekit had fallen. It wasn't hard to realize that Whitekit hadn't taken his advice. Whitekit's head was split open. It had cracked on a rock Darkkit hadn't seen under the branch. He didn't have to be a medicine cat to know his brother was dead. Darkkit knew he should probably feel upset or something, but he looked on the body of his dead brother the same way he had those of his dead sisters, blankly and without real interest.
"You idiot, I told you to land on your feet. This is what bragging gets you," Darkkit said, rolling his eyes, "I bet everyone freaks out about this, too." Darkkit let out a sigh and began walking back towards the nursery. "At least now I'll get to sleep," he mumbled.
Of course the next morning his mother had freaked out as did his father and…well, everyone. Darkkit struggled to pretend to be interested, but since no one was paying attention to him anyway, he dropped the act. When Whitekit's body was found, the whole clan was devastated and gathered around. Darkkit watched from the background in disinterest just as he had the night before. But he felt a prickling in his fur, like someone was watching him. He looked around and discovered Tigerclaw's eyes on him, just staring. Darkkit didn't know how to take this and just turned away.
After a while, Branchkit rose to the challenge of taking Whitekit's place. He didn't quite fit the role, but the queens were looking for a new favorite. Rather than being good at anything, however, Branchkit's claim to fame was bullying the other kits. Of course, all the kits were older and bigger than he was so it was much easier to go after Darkkit who was about the same size even if he was older. Once the other kits had become apprentices, Branchkit had made Darkkit's life an annoying living Hell and he hadn't stopped when Darkkit became an apprentice.
As Darkpaw stared at the only remaining kit, he realized just how much he wasn't looking forward to sharing a den with him again. Branchkit was continuing to go on about his and Tigerclaw's greatness and Darkpaw's lack of anything positive. As he droned on, Darkpaw reflected on all Branchkit had put him through in the past few moons. Then he thought ahead to all the new Hell Branchkit would think up once he actually learned how to fight. And of course, it probably wouldn't end when they were warriors, either. Darkpaw's mind whirred and soon another plan clicked into place and he smiled.
Branchkit stopped his rambling when he saw Darkpaw's face. "What are you smiling about?" he asked.
Darkpaw looked around the camp. Hardly anyone was around and Branchkit wasn't being supervised. "You wanna play a game?" he asked.
Branchkit eyed him suspiciously. "What kind of game?"
Darkpaw stood up. "It's a training activity Tigerclaw taught me, but we have to go out into the forest," he said.
"I'm not supposed to go into the forest, mouse-head," Branchkit scoffed.
Darkpaw rolled his eyes. "Fine, then, if you're too scared." He made like he was going to lie down again.
"I'm not scared of anything!" Branchkit snapped.
"Well then come on," Darkpaw urged, "No one's looking."
Branchkit looked around and saw Darkpaw was right. "Ok, fine, but if we get caught, I'm blaming it all on you," Branchkit said.
"We won't get caught if you just shut up," Darkpaw said and urged Branchkit through a small hole in the barrier around ThunderClan camp.
Darkpaw led Branchkit all the way to Sunning Rocks, ensuring he went slow enough and took a route that was easy for the kit to follow. Once they got to Sunning Rocks, Darkpaw checked to make sure there were no other warriors around.
"Ok, so what's this game of yours?" Branchkit asked, looking around. He turned to Darkpaw, but was shocked to see the tabby jumping on him. He tried to scream, but his voice was cut off by Darkpaw's paws on his throat.
Darkpaw had Branchkit pinned on his back and ensured the kit wasn't getting any air. His paws began to ache but he held his position until Branchkit's struggles stopped and his eyes rolled back in his head. Darkpaw released him after a few more minutes and checked to see if he was breathing or his heart was beating. Neither was happening.
"Wow, that was easier to do on purpose than I thought," he said.
He grabbed Branchkit's nape and dragged him to the river. He threw the body in as far as he could and watched it quickly float downstream. Once the body was out of sight, Darkpaw quickly set to work covering up both his and Branchkit's scents from the area. He snuck back into camp the same way he had left and made sure Branchkit's scent was wiped from there, too. He walked over to a sunny spot near the apprentices' den and laid on his back, purring contently.
Darkpaw was awakened from his nap by a piercing scream. Branchkit's mother was searching frantically for her lost kit. Soon the rest of the camp was in an uproar. The apprentices and warriors that had just returned were sent out again in search of Branchkit. Tigerclaw came to collect Darkpaw and the two quickly set out together to aid in the search.
Darkpaw, as always, didn't even try looking interested, but he felt that prickling again. He glanced up at Tigerclaw, but Tigerclaw either hadn't been looking at him, or had turned away before Darkpaw saw him. But there was no one else around that could have been watching him.
The searched lasted until dawn before it was finally called off. Branchkit's mother refused to give up and had to be dragged back to camp. Her screams and wails prevented anyone from getting sleep and none of the apprentices were taken out by their mentors. Patrols were twice their normal size to make up for the fatigue of the warriors as well as to have extra eyes to keep a lookout for Branchkit. Still, nothing was found and each patrol became deader and deader.
Then, just before sunset, after Branchkit's mother had cried herself hoarse and Darkpaw was thanking StarClan for giving him a chance to get some rest, Tigerclaw came and ordered Darkpaw to come with him. Darkpaw tried not to complain, but his body worked against him to reveal how exhausted he was. He didn't know how he was able to keep up with Tigerclaw's drills, but that wasn't the only strange thing. Tigerclaw didn't say anything to him the entire time except to tell him which drill to do. He did not scold him or yell at him and Darkpaw was beginning to get suspicious.
At moon high, Tigerclaw told him to stop and Darkpaw thankfully collapsed. His eyes closed immediately, but he didn't allow himself to fall asleep because he was certain Tigerclaw would leave him out here all night.
"Darkpaw," Tigerclaw said.
Darkpaw slowly opened his eyes, fearing another drill.
"You have a killer's mind," Tigerclaw said.
Darkpaw suddenly became alert and sat up. "What?" he asked.
"You have a killer's mind. That's a good thing. It will make you a great warrior for me," Tigerclaw said with the barest hints of a smile.
Darkpaw's mouth fell open. Tigerclaw had just given him a compliment…TIGERCLAW HAD JUST GIVEN HIM A COMPLIMENT!
"Th-thank you, Tigerclaw," he stuttered, getting to his paws quickly.
"Come on, you need rest. Let's go back to camp," Tigerclaw said.
"Yes, sir!" Darkpaw said and quickly followed his mentor back to camp. He had always been different, he knew that, and not very well liked, but Tigerclaw saw something in him and that was better than anything else.
Ok, if any of my fans read this: I hope you liked it and I hope this makes you feel at least a little better from my absence. To anyone who wasn't a fan who read this: thanks for reading. To anyone who loved this: you're sick and twisted and I love you. To anyone who hated this: I DID warn you. Reviews, yes? No? Maybe? For cupcakes? Oh and by the way, 'anti-social' was originally a term used to describe a psychopath, not just someone who doesn't like the company of others. Fun-fact from psychology class.