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Author's Note Edit

This is a oneshot that takes place after Winterpaw's fanfiction, The Living Dead. It is part of The Living Dead Universe. All characters in this oneshot (except Tigerstar) belong to him. Be sure to check for other canon oneshots coming your way! Enjoy!

-Cypresswind

An Intimate Study In Shadows Edit

I killed Tigerstar and I didn't even flinch.  Scarletfall's paws were loud and shaking.  Leafkit started to cry.  Goldenleaf was frozen, suspended mid-kill, a throat dangling from her jaw.  Silversand was staring, weightless with the wind knocked out of her.  Leafkit started to cry, and I didn't wipe the blood.  Leafkit started to cry, and I finally realized where my home was.  The breeze was biting, and as it blew past, it whispered: queen queen queen queen.


This forest is not what it seems.  Goldenleaf is sadistic and cruel and she's always crying on the riverbank.  There are cats, in the bleeding stomach of this shadow, that aren't cats at all, whose heads roll at unnatural angles, who sing like birds but never speak.  Freaks.  Silversand is a wonder all on her own.  Something like her—soft rain, silent light, warm moss, swan feathers—could exist in a rotting place like this.


My chest always hurts and it's never quiet.  Someone is always smirking or laughing or screaming.  Heatherfire this and Heatherfire that.  Cats like us spit on the ground.  We crave flesh and carcasses and marrow.  Happiness is a foreign concept.  We never wince and we feel no pain, no pain, no pain.


I keep thinking of our stories.  How everyone ended up here.  Some were too ambitious.  Some made mistakes.  Big mistakes.  Some just loved the way their teeth felt blistered after a kill.  Goldenleaf said her story involved her best friend.  Lionpounce gave a detailed account of his conquests, slaughtering warrior after warrior.  Some lie and claim they were born here.  Silversand shrinks when the topic comes up.  She says something about a she-cat and wanting too much.  I theorize that when she died, the whole clan mourned.  An entire world, whispering condolences that she couldn't hear.


When Silversand laughs, it sounds like butterflies and I swallow them.  The butterflies live in my stomach now, the words I want to tell her trapped with them.  Silversand's smile is sweet nectar, and that might coax out the butterflies, so when she asks if I want to go on a walk with her, I say: yes, definitely, perfect, nothing would be better.


I meet her by the StarClan border, looking like a ruffled raven.  Her eyes glisten, lilac kindness curving to greet me.  We walk north, and she asks me questions.  Are you settling in? (I guess).  Is anyone acting suspicious? (Blossomstrike and Goldenleaf are trying to kill me, but that's normal).  Is there anything I could do to help you?  (You could touch your cheek to mine and lick my ear and we could have fun, if you know what I mean).


(I didn't say the last one out loud)


I ask her a few questions in return.  Do you have a mate?  (I had crushes when I was alive, but I've never had a mate, no). Humph.  Does anyone in this rat's nest feel love?  (Definitely.  Goldenleaf had a thing going for Tigerstar).  Is that why she hates me?  (Probably).


She tells me I make her think of her past often and that's been a thing she's been trying to forget, recently.  In the meantime, I reply, I've been reteaching myself to walk with slouching.  We sit down, and she starts sticking things on my head.  Weeds, twigs, pine needles.  Silversand winks.  Fit for a queen.


You know what else is fit for a queen? I think.  You.  You and you and you.  My stomach constricts and the butterflies grow louder, whispering tell her tell her tell her, as if they would know what would happen if she rejected me.


Shut up, stupid insects.


But it's too late.  The parasite of positive thinking is feeding on my brain, eating up my logic, bit by bit.


So I tell her.  Plainly, simply, with no flair whatsoever.  "I think I'm in love with you, Silversand."


For a second, her face is blank and the butterflies in my stomach drop dead.  Then, she smiles like the rising sun, and butterflies burst out of my mouth and oh StarClan.  She starts laughing, so I start laughing, and we are a choir of throat-tickling giggles.  Silversand catches her breath and does That Thing.  You know, That Cute Thing where she leans over and her nose is on mine, and our eyes are so close, the world explodes into blistering light, and she says:


"I think I'm in love with you too."

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