"It wasn't your fault, Oscar," clove soothed gently. "I mean, any other cat might not even-"
"Don't you get it, Clove?!" Oscar roared, bolting to his paws. "I screwed up!" he yowled angrily into the wind before facing his friend once more. "I thought for once I could do something right by taking care of him, but I was always so hard on him, and now, everyday, all I'm ever going to think about is what I did, and what I could have done!"
Clove stared back intently with sorrowful eyes, her black, orange and grey pelt fluffing in the wind.
Oscar scared back at a pile of dirt and leaves with resentment. "Do you have any idea what it's like seeing your brothers bloodied face flash through your head? Hearing his voice asking over and over if it'll be okay?"
A long silence dragged over the two cats.
"I'm sorry," clove spoke once more, voice shaking. "I could've done more... gotten here sooner... maybe then..." her voice trailed off before she could finish her sentence.
"...no one is to blame, Clove. Least of all you."
4 hours earlier
"And so I said I only wanted a rat's nose for good luck and then he-"
"Guys!" A cat ran down the ally calling to Oscar and Sarah, cutting the she-cat off from her story.
"Clove? What's going on, are you okay?" Oscar asked rapidly as the she-cat stopped breathlessly beside the two.
"It's Mitch!" she wailed. "Those cat's you thought he was exaggerating about, he wasn't! they- he's fighting"
"Mitch is what?!" Swiftly turning around, leaving Sarah and Clove behind him, Oscar raced forward and swerved down the ally way in search of his brother. Heart pounding like a drum, he called out, praying to someone, anyone for a response. "Mitch! Mitch where are you?!" he yowled desperately.
A sudden smell that lingered in the air made the black and white cat skid to a halt. It was bitter and mingled with several other faint smells, and as Oscar padded forward slowly, he suddenly felt sick when he realized what it was. It was blood.
Dashing forward once again, the black and white cat turned left down another ally, and as the sent of blood grew stronger, his younger brother Mitch slowly came into sight. The young cat was bloodied, battered and laying on the ground wheezing. "No," Oscar breathed before looming over his brother. "Mitch..?" he called softly as his paw nudged one of Mitch's back legs.
A sudden gasp for air came from the patched cat on the ground. "Hey, Oscar..." he started slowly. "I guess those scraps of dung got me good, huh?" he laughed weakly.
Oscar froze where his paws were planted. He looked around his brothers half limp pelt, and saw much too much blood then he was comfortable with. 'I can't save him...' he realized. "Y-yeah," Oscar began carefully, his voice shaking. "They did... Mitch, I'm so-"
"It's okay... You were right, I needed to grow a backbone. You only meant well in trying to toughen me up. I guess it didn't work too great though. I never was a fast learner though, was I Oscar?"
Memories blazed through Oscar's mind. He was always telling Mitch to grow up and learn to deal with his own problems... Bullies, food, two-legs... He tried to toughen him up by leaving him on his own half the time. He tried to teach him how cruel the world was but he was still a kit when he tried to do that. He'd just realized it too late.
"Oscar?" Mitch asked softly, his breathing starting to quiver.
"You think I'm going to go to Starclan...?"
Oscars heart fluttered as those words slipped out of his brothers mouth. Starclan... Mitch never believed in such a thing... Their mother did, but Mitch had always scoffed at the idea and turned his back on his mom trying to open his mind to Starclan when she was still here. He thought it was a stupid irrelevant thing, and was never needed. But looking at his brother now, and seeing him lay thing there, wounds scorched across his body slowly bleeding out in that darkening alleyway somehow set off a small spark inside of him. "Yeah... I think you will go to Starclan Mitch," he mumbled, tears forming in his eyes.
"I wonder if mom will be there too," Mitch breathed, as a small light grew inside his eyes.
Rain drops slowly began to dot the earth around the two cats before Mitch spoke once more...
"Oscar... I'm scared," Mitch whined softly. "I don't want to die! I-I want to be okay!" Mitch's ember eyes looked into Oscars desperately. "Don't let me die Oscar, please, I'm scared!"
With that, Oscar broke.
He knelt down beside his brother and lapped at his cheek lovingly. "It's okay! I'm right here... you're going to be okay, Mitch I promise!"
Mitch was now sobbing uncontrollably, as he dug his claws into his older brother's fur. "Am I really going to be okay Oscar?"
Oscar paused and looked down at his little brother, eyes filled with more love then they'd been in a long time. "Yeah Mitch," he breathed. "You'll be okay."