Wordcount: 420 words
Summary: Baron rues the day. A lot.
NOTE: This is the first draft of a story, so it will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies. I’ll come back and fix things once the story (or arc) is complete!
The First Night
Baron returned to the camp under close watch by Flame and his rider. Storm looked up from the other charges and there was a quick sum-up of what had gone on. Baron went over to the other hatchlings and curled up in a grumpy pile. His injuries were more bruises than cuts so there was no bandaging, but he smelled of antiseptic.
Softpaw had found her rider and the two of them were curled up together being sickeningly sweet. Baron tried not to glare, but the jealousy was almost too much to bear. Their future tree was so bright, so happy, and he had nothing.
They were settling in to eat when Swift suddenly looked up with an excited churr, then bounded across the camp to tackle the teenager who had hesitantly made his way into the camp. After the first startled yelp the boy was laughing and crying in joy and Swift was chuckling in joy, and trying to get as close as possible without smothering him.
It was the last straw for Baron who went and hid in the cart, burying himself under the cart cover and keening softly to himself as the rest of the group greeted the new rider. They did not notice he was missing until later, once things had settled down.
“Ah no,” Storm turned when he realized Baron was missing. “We should not have brought him, I knew it. Not without Minder.”
“He’s not going to break.” objected Flame, not looking away from the fledglings and the two new riders. “He’s going to mope and whine and complain and then tomorrow he’ll go out looking again. He’s just as stubborn as he’s hurt.” He looked over at Storm, who was shifting back and forth, trying to decide if he should go out looking for the fledgling. “We still have Winter and Dog to go– he’ll have to tough it out.”
“Minder should be here.” Storm repeated.
“He’s not, and you know why he’s not.” Flame said gently. “I know he’s your friend, but there’s a reason he’s with the fledglings and not in the Warren. If there’s a golden in the nest, we can’t afford to have him here.”
“I know,” Storm sighed and turned back to the fire.
“Then let him be, he’ll come around, I promise.”
Baron cried himself to sleep, lost in dreams where he was alone in a sea of shadows that could not hear him, could not see him, and there was no future waiting in the darkness.