Rainpaw hadn't slept in his actual nest for two days.
The gash across his face had barely been treated and he had eaten only scraps, whatever was left of the fresh-kill pile when he returned to camp. He did his duty for the most part. He gathered herbs, went on patrols, sorted and checked in on his clanmates if they were being treated. However, he continued to stray from the patrols closer to night. He wouldn't come home at night and at the break of dawn, there he was again, sorting herbs with raw paw pads. He look three times his age with the bleak look in his eye. The tom gave short, mostly one-worded answers, nods and, small noises of acknowledgement. He was far snappier than usual, even towards kits and young apprentices, the cats he was the most forgiving of. Rainpaw was at a loss. He couldn't stand being in camp. Not when his mother's blood stained the ground still. The clouds would not give him the mercy of rain to wash away her blood, her scent, her shame... The looks he felt on his back when he was in the presence of his clanmates felt like embers on his pelt. Working tirelessly and eating little left him jittery and anxious as if he had too much energy and had adders around his legs just waiting to strike once he moved in a way they disliked. The tom was out of camp now, though, his scent was an easy giveaway to where he was. The tall tree his parents had spent most of their apprenticeship in. The hollow was filled with strange, random things. Shells, flowers, berries, scales, teeth, twoleg things. It was torture but he couldn't stop himself from it. Finding a memory of him mother in a state other than her own blood seemed difficult now. Everything in camp that held a hint of her made him think of her death. Perhaps that's why he refused to properly treat the wound he was given when he snapped at her right before she...
The tom opened his eyes, silently looking at the salmon scales in a pile near him. His mother's fur could be seen in random places, tiny slivers of sunlight and fire. It was Moonhigh now. He couldn't believe he was still out here. Bitterly, he figured it wasn't much better than being in the medicine den. Two cats sharing a den far two large for just them, some plants and the occasional visitor. He picked himself up, carefully climbing down the tree. But, he scented something, someone familiar. Mapleleaf. Her scent struck a pang of guilt through him. He hadn't even thought of what she felt about his attitude lately. Well, why should he care? He was the one who had lost his mother! No, no. He couldn't think like that. Mapleleaf had done all the things he was hoping Wildfire would do. Wildfire had only stayed in the nursery with him until he was weaned and then, she had left to warrior duties without much more than a sniff at him. Mapleleaf was always there for him. She double-checked his attitude and supported him. He just didn't know. Perhaps if he had paid more attention to his mother, she would do so to him. Instead, he had chased after the easy comfort of Mapleleaf's company, believing that it was crazy to believe he had to earn his mother's love. Apparently he was wrong. He turned away from the source of Mapleleaf's scent. Had she followed him out here? Was she doing her own herb collecting or taking a stroll while the birds kept quiet for once and the mice rustled the leaves instead? Without facing her, he meowed tiredly in the laziest greeting he'd ever given her before idly lapping from a clear puddle that had barely survived the punishingly hot weather of Greenleaf.
It wasn't the 'Mapleleaf, nice to see you!' or 'Isn't it nice out, Mapleleaf? All the rowdy apprentices are gone at last.'. He didn't comment on the weather as he loved to do so often. The young tom didn't speak of how nice the mist had been at dawn or how he looked forward to it coming in the next few shifts of the moon. Just 'Mapleleaf.' in a voice that sounded as if saying her very name had condemned his clan to the Dark Forest. Being born from such a wicked cat, he worried that he would doom his clan.