Susan's legs buckled underneath her, as the tom turned to face her. Fight him? But I'm only a kit!
But to her surprise, she saw worry and apprehension gleaming in the tom's blue eyes. He doesn't want to fight me! For a brief moment, she wondered if he would refuse. But her hopes were crushed, as he took a flying leap toward her, paws outstretched, wind ruffling his fur.
Susan darted to her paws, trying to anticipate the attack. As the tom came close, she sidestepped, and his paw only hooked the outside of her leg.
She braced herself for the sting of the scratch, but it never came. Her attacker's claws must've been sheathed for some reason.
"Is that the best you can do, Scorch?" A striped tom taunted.
"Scorch" turned around, panting. He narrowed his eyes, and bared his teeth. Oh no. He's attacking for real this time!
Time seemed to stand still, as he lunged right towards her. She may have cried in terror; so many thoughts and emotions were racing through her head as she came closer to her unavoidable end.
But Scorch's claws retracted as she barreled her over. She lay pinned on the ground, helpless. She could feel him pummel her stomach, although his claws were sheathed. His lip curled over his teeth as he bit down on her shoulder.
If shedding blood is so important to BloodClan, then why am I not wounded or dead?
Come on, Scorch, you pathetic piece of crow-food!" Bone hissed.
As Scorch was distracted, Susan was able to wriggle her arm around, and hook a pearly claw in Scorch's ear.
She could feel the blood gush down her claws, and soak into her fur. A salty tang was in the air. Susan didn't know what to think; using her claws wasn't awful, but it wasn't exactly cheery. But this is an enemy.
Susan dared to look into Scorch's eyes, to see his reaction. They slightly squinted as he winced, but her attack didn't seem to bother him much.
"Enough of this!" she heard Scourge growl. He leaped down from his post, his long claws clattering on the ground.
With a cleverly executed twist, he slammed into Scorch's side, pinned him against the Twoleg sludge, and gave him a long scratch on his flank, for good measure. Susan's stomach squirmed as she watched crimson slither out of the gash.
But to her surprise, Scorch was able to get back up, even as his legs wobbled. He dragged himself out of the center, and to the wall where he tentatively licked his wounds.
Scourge nodded to Bone. Bone turned to face her, his claws gleaming in the sunset.
"I'll fight you if I have to," she mewed, her voice sounding steadier than she imagined.
Bone just shrugged, and without hesitation, slammed into her.
His weight easily crushed Susan. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't think--she was just being mashed into the hard rock earth.
Suddenly, a enraged yowl rose up, and the weight was lifted off of her. She darted upwards, sputtering, and gasping for air.
It was Shade. She was furiously swiping at Bone, her lips peeled in a enraged snarl. Her white teeth glinted.
Shade's head snapped around to Susan. "Run!" she hissed, "You'll find Jacques waiting around the corner!"
Susan felt like the most disgusting, low-down, horrible coward as she loped away. Her mother was all alone, fighting all of the BloodClan cats. But she chose to run instead of gallantly help.
As she nimbly looped around the edge of a corner, she found herself facing Jacques. His eyes were wide with nervousness.
"We gotta get out of here, Susan," he mewed.
"Tell me something new. Now come on!" she dashed alongside him, panting.
"Did Shade tell you where to go?"
He shrugged, glancing at her as he ran. "No. She just told me not to take us back to our home." Susan's heart shattered as she thought of never returning to the little bush in the Twoleg park.
"Do you have any idea of where to go?"
"What about that abandoned shed, next to the park?"
Susan scoffed. "That's way too close to our home!"
"That way they'll never expect it," Jacques replied. She could see the logic in this, yet the fear of being discovered nearly outweighed it.
Like shadows, they slipped through the park, unnoticed. The rotting brown wood of the shack was visible on the horizon.
Side by side, they squeezed through a gap in the wood paneling, and found themselves in a cozy cube, although it was laced with cobwebs and dust.
They curled up in the corner, on a musty cushion with springs poking out. Slowly, the nagging fear that had been bothering Susan faded away. They were safe. Scourge's guard couldn't find them.
"Susan?" Jacques mewed.
"Why did you run from Shade?" She winced. It was because of that, that they were in the mess in the first place.
"Because.... because I was afraid that she was going to make me hurt you."
Jacques considered this. "It's either hurt me, or have all of us be hurt."
"But I don't want it to be that way!" Susan wailed.
"Yeah, well it is that way!" Jacques snapped, "Now let's get some sleep. Sky knows we need it."
Curling up against Jacques for warmth, she was able to slip into a somewhat troubled sleep. Her dreams were tainted with the sneering faces of the BloodClan cats, being led to them by Scourge.
Muffled whispering woke her. She gazed out of the gap, to see when it was. Night was still covering the sky like a sheet. The crickets chirped.
"Jacques! Wake up!" she whispered, as she prodded him.
"Wha--?" he said.
"Ssh! Not so loud!" she hissed, "Someone's outside."
He instantly pricked his ears, his eyes wide with fear. Susan did the same.
"What's the point?" one of them was saying.
"I'm sure I just heard some voices inside!"
"Can't be true," a third voice said, "Those little scraps are probably shivering somwhere, far off in the outskirts."
She heard a frustrated hiss. "No, I'm sure!"
The first voice sighed. "Okay, fine. I'll check it out, if you really think that they're in here. You and Flicker can go and search the outskirts."
"Do you want to please Scourge, or not?"
The argument disbanded. Fear flooded her as she heard someone's paws shuffling through the overgrown grass outside. The pawsteps creaked on the wood floor as they began to walk in. Jacques tensed against her; Susan did the same.
Although the shack was fairly big, there was hardly anywhere to hide. It was completely barren, except for the cushion that they slept on. Their only hope was to stay on the cushion, and try to be as small as possible, and hope the cat wouldn't notice them in the dark.
The form finally slipped all the way into their hideaway. His eyes glimmered in the dark, ginger pelt barely visible. It was Brick.
Brick's tail swished from side to side. "So you thought that we wouldn't find you here, of all places?" he mewed.
Neither Susan nor Jacques dared to speak. They just huddled closer together.
He padded closer, his features becoming more visible. "I'm not going to hurt you," he sighed, "And I won't tell the others where you're hiding."
"But--why not?" Susan said, so surprised that she forgot to be scared stiff.
He laughed. "I thought you would've guessed by now."
Jacques stood up, beside her. Susan joined him, not wanting to be the only one still sitting. "What do you mean?"
Brick's gaze darted from side to side. "I knew your mother very well once."
Susan gasped with shock and disbelief. This can't be possible. Jacques still seemed to be unsure. Brick finished what he was going to say.
"Kits. I am your father." At first, once she finally heard the words, she was shocked. Jacques gaped in disbelief.
Without another word, Brick slinked out of the gap. Did that really just happen?
She looked down at her bedraggled ginger fur. Now she finally knew where it came from. She had always assumed that it was inherited from Shade's mother, or something.
Shade. A huge opening took the place of their much-loved mother.
Where could she be? Where can we find her? Is she still alive?
Jilly never failed to surprise herself. She knew deep inside that it was a foolish idea to go see Scorch, and he would just drive her out, if his family didn't first. Scared, Jilly shivered, afraid to bleed, for she never had.
Dumpsters reeked of sludge and trash that Twolegs had left behind. Her stomach squirmed. How could Scorch possibly live like that? He seemed like a cat deserving of something better, even though he was a bit rough.
You don't even know the tom, idiot, she told herself.
Wrinkling her nose, she checked behind the first dumpster. No sign of Scorch or anyone else.
Luckily, she was able to find a weedy nest under the second dumpster. But Scorch wasn't there.
However, she did find a bedraggled queen with four kits hungrily suckling at her stomach.
Suddenly, as she realized that Jilly was there, her ears flattened and she hissed furiously. "Leave unless you want to be disembowled," she snarled.
She leaped back, uttering a frightened meep. I don't belong here. I belong in my nest, away from all of this!
"That's right, run. You can't hurt my kits you filthy BloodClan warrior." What?
"What's that? I'm not a BloodClan warrior! Please don't hurt me!"
The queen paused, unsure of if she was a threat or not, and what she was going to do next.
"Mom, stop. She's no threat." Jilly spun around, to see Scorch standing there looking more dejected than ever.
He turned to her. "I'm sorry about Strike. She gets very cranky sometimes." Strike? Why so fierce?
"That goodness you're back," Strike sighed, "I'm starving, and so are my kits."
Scorch looked down, ashamed. "I have nothing to give you."
"I said that I have nothing to give you."
"Why not? You know how much we need prey!"
"I tried, mother. I really did. But Bone snatched away the sparrow corpse that I was bringing."
Strike let out a low hiss. "Bone! If I ever get my claws on him..."
"You know how BloodClan cats are!"
Jilly was completely overwhelmed. BloodClan? Bone? She shivered. It sounded awful.
"Scorch... um... is there anything I can do to help?" she questioned.
"I'm sorry, Jilly, but this is a bit too much for a kittypet." Although she would never let it show, she was hurt deep inside.
"So how are you?"
"What does it look like?"
A shocked cry rang out. "Dark!"
Forgetting his visitor, Scorch dashed to Strike's side. "Dark? What happened?"
"He's dead!" Strike wailed, "He just couldn't make it!"
Gasping with grief, Scorch sunk down onto the alley pavement.
Jilly walked up, and put a comforting tail tip on his shoulder. He slowly turned around.
"Go, Jilly. Just-- leave." His gaze was hard and cold.
Without another word, she gulped, and scampered away to her own home away from the real world.