Gone is a one-shot written by Streampaw, and redone by Mistleheart. It is written in Cypress's point of view. The ending PoV is *spoiler* different.
The story Edit
I laid my head on my paws with a desolate sigh. I was in a labyrinth of tunnels, where I was safe from what drove me here.
I tried to imagine that I was still above ground; that this had never happened to me. But I knew wishing would never bring me back to when I was carefree and happy. I was trapped in reality.
It’s been five sunrises since I was exiled and declared unworthy of being in the syndicate.
Five sunrises since the day that changed my life - the worst day I ever had.
How did it all begin? I wondered.
I suppose it was because I watched Shadow, Wave and Flower leave, and I didn't intervene. I wonder where they are now - or I wonder about Wave. I hope she’s alive and well, and that nothing like what happened to me has happened to her. Nothing like what happened to my mother, my father, my friends, and me.
I hope she’s not in a mess like I am now.
Perhaps it was since Branch left the syndicate that the balance began to tilt. When Stone nearly murdered him, he was trying to protect me. Me.
Cypress, the tough, battlescarred fighter. The survivor. I didn't need anyone's protection. But when I was hiding in the tunnels, I was the frightened one.
They killed him - nearly. There was a fox and a gorge.
He was there as well, with me. We could be caught. Killed. Or we could plummet to our deaths in the gorge. I wouldn’t have minded dying. Death would be an quick escape from the syndicate. After all, it's what happens after you survive that matters.
He shouldn't have done it. If he hadn’t, I wouldn't still be in these tunnels.
But he did.
They killed him for it - almosr. I watched them play with him, taunting him. But I fled like a coward, before I could see him dead. I ran from what was known as comfort, love, hope, and life - to the syndicate.
They weren't my responsibility anymore.
But I returned, hiding two facts. The stone I had found was still deep in my paw, and my blood splattered my pelt.
But then, I realized my blood didn’t matter. Theirs was worth something…
I don’t know why I did it at all, let alone in a single night. Perhaps I wanted this to be over. I don’t know why I did it to the syndicate, and not to myself.
I suppose fate has more twists this way.
They were aroused to discover the guards dead, their throats torn, their blood pooling on the stones. The successor had been poisoned, and the kits were missing from their nest.
I took them. When we escaped, I told them to run. I caught prey for them and taught them to eat kittypet slop. Hopefully, a Twoleg would provide them with food. If not, the kits would die, but they would be safe from the syndicate,
Two days later, the stone came out. My paw became useless; it was only a paw, and yet it was the only reason I everything that was warm in this cold, vicious world slipped away from me.
I ran, but my paw stumbled. I fell and starved. I never had enough willpower to scramble to my paws and continue, or to hunt for myself.
Cripple, I thought to myself. This word described who I was - a cripple.
I knew of the cats in the tunnels. They didn't realize I was dying here, with them. I intended to keep it this way forever.
I closed my eyes with a sigh.
There was no point in keeping them open anymore.
The tunnels were always dark, but she knows by instinct it was nighttime. The quiet, and the chirp of crickets.
They find the cat, but she is sickly, delirious, and unresponsive. Perhaps the word to describe it best would be dead.
Or rather, she is a mere whisker from death. Yet the cat can still breathe, however irregularly. The cat's eyes flutter like the wings of a bird caught in a storm.
She is the only one who knew who this dying cat is. Shadow and Flower didn’t recognize the scent - it had turned sour from starvation and plague.
But Wave recognizes it.
She had known it forever.
She scrambles over, horror settling into her heart. Her panicked stare rests on the cat.
She sees glazed eyes and a twisted mouth with white foam frothing at the edges. A branch is sprawled beside the cat. Three scarlet berries are scattered across the cave.
There should have been seven.
She tries to shake the cat awake. She prods her and bring her prey. She murmurs to her.
She wishes she was still a young kit who didn’t know death and what it truly was. She tries to believe the only one ever there for her hadn't been wrenched from her.
She tries speaking, but her throat tightens. She leans over the cat's deathbed, horrified.
Pitiful words slide from her mouth. Her voice is hoarse and quiet, but they echo in the depths of the cave.
"Cypress…wake up…come back…”
But she knows Cypress will never come.