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“I don’t give a shit ‘bout what we gotta do to fix it, I just wan’ the problem gone,” Scourge grumbled, scratching at a healing wound on the back of his neck.

“Don’t we all?” Brick smirked. 

“Brick,” Bone said, “how are the kits doing?”

“Fine enough for what we’re dealin with. Their mothers ain’t doing so hot though. All the rations they get go straight to the lil’ babes. They don’t eat a single bite.”

“Do you think if we increase the food ratio given to the mothers and children, that it’ll help any bit?”

“Probably. But the warriors won’t like it.”

Bone huffed. “If they have any issues then they can bring it up with me.”

“Well aren’t you just terrifying as a monster,” Scourge mocked, grinning to himself while sinking lower into his raggedy office chair. 

 

Bone paused and grew confused. He looked to his leader, eyes betraying his pain at the comment. Scourge stared forwards at the door and ignored him, picking at his nails now instead of his neck. They were starting to become overgrown, even for his own liking. The nail polish was chipping as well; just one more thing to add to his list of reasons why today was shittier than Socks and Ruby. He silently hissed to himself and scowled. 

Brick snickered, earning herself a glare from Bone. She grinned and stuck their hands in her jackets pockets, rolling back on the heels of her boots, cocky. Scourge, not caring for the silent war going on between his subordinates, snapped his fingers while still maintaining his indifferent look, gaining the undivided attention of Bone. 

 

“Yo, Brick,” Scourge commanded, “tell Snipe and Fury to do an extra raid on Chelford why don’t ya? You can join em if ya wan’.”

“Wha’ ‘bout the rationin?”

Scourge glanced up at Bone with the distinct expression of ‘you decide’ that he used quite often. Bone buffed up and grinned. “Give the queens and kiddies an extra half ration for the week. We can judge how it works out afterwards.”

“Looks like the chicken bone has some brains over brawns after all, eh?”

“Go. I’ll come up with a bettah plan later.”

“Yes, Scourge,” Brick said with a small bow. 

 

Scourge, still fiddling with his hands, watched Brick turn tail and leave his office, the “door” flapping back and forth for a while after. It was really just an old sheet tacked up over the door frame; the real door lost who knows how long ago. Scourge’s office was far from what you’d call conventional, but then again, all of Bloodclan was like that. The slum that catches all the outcasts was what they were. 

Scourge slept and bathed and ate in this room, as did Bone. The two of them were never far apart. The office was on the second floor of a dilapidated building, the windows shot out long ago paired with a ceiling littered with holes. Tarps clung to the walls, doing their best to keep the heat in during the freezing leafbare months, though, even in newleaf, Scourge would often find himself shivering from the cold. What a perk of being malnourished and small!

Bone stood behind his leader, watching him lean forwards and lay his chest on the slanted desk. He frowned and grew concerned. Scourge was most likely heading into one of his moody periods where the slightest of things would turn his emotions around like a viper. Bone treaded carefully, waiting for another signal before he did anything. 

Luckily for him, Scourge felt fine enough to talk more than he was obliged to, and gave him a direct and cohesive order. He pulled his thin arms out of his leather jacket, shrugging it down his back till it was completely off, and rested his chin in the crook of his elbows. 

 “Rub my shoulders for me,” he said. 

 

That’s more like it. Bone wasted no time dawdling and got straight to work, wanting nothing more than to please Scourge. He took a short moment to warm up his palms before gently placing his hands on his tired allies back, working them to the sides with deep pushes. This was a frequent request for him. The pressures of caring for an entire street clan paired with the numerous scraps he would get himself into could really wear a cat down. 

Scourge let out a sigh and relaxed, letting Bone take control for a short while. His hands were big and strong, twice the size of his own. Scourge nearly smiled at the irony of the tender strokes he was receiving from such a massive man. He eventually shut his eyes and turned his head to the side, listening to one of the old posters on the wall fluttering in the light breeze, allowing himself to almost drift off to sleep. A break like this was what he deserved. 

Bone was only ever this gentle when they were alone, as was he only so vulnerable. If an average warrior of Bloodclan saw him like this then he would surely slit their throats, even if that warrior was Brick. He and Bone were part of an intricate relationship based on respect and deep trust, unique to them in every way. Neither of them ever loved before. Maybe this was just their solution to fill that void of emptiness. Yet even at that, Scourge often found himself doubting the true loyalty of his companion. 

Bone pushed down harder on his leader's left shoulder, making a stifled groan leave Scourge’s mouth. He stopped his movements immediately, only continuing after he got a nod. He is Bloodclans leader, you can be more rough with him , he reminded himself, working out a knot near Scourge’s spine. The two of them continued in silence, the only white noises to be heard drowning out as well. 

It was too comfortable for Scourge. The softness of the moment was chewing at his core; at his pride. A tyrant like him had no use relaxing. 

But still. 

 

“What time’s it?” Scourge softly asked, not wanting to open his droopy eyes. 

“It’s about half past nine,” Bone answered, continuing his massaging. 

“...’S’late enough.”

“Late enough for what?”

“Bed.”

“Are you that tired? I’ll leave if you want me t-”

“You can stop massaging now,” Scourge muttered, barely shrugging Bone’s hands off his back. “The slash on my neck is bugging me.”

“Should I rinse and dress it?”

 

Scourge mumbled out something that sounded like a ‘yeah, obviously’, and waved his fingers as a sign telling Bone to get to it. He didn’t need to be told twice. 

Bone left the room for a moment to grab the rainwater bucket from the stairway and a rag. Scourge huffed and closed his eyes again, waiting semi-patiently for his treatment. He didn’t have much time to himself these days. The food crisis was worsening, the rich folk of Chelford were becoming more arrogant and disgusting every day, and the lack of new kits being raised was alarming. 

Most mothers nowadays would rather take their chances as strays in the city than with Bloodclan. Idiots, the lot of them, Scourge cursed, biting the loose skin along his lips. 

 

“They’re going to start bleeding if you keep that up,” Bone said in a hesitantly-jokey tone. 

“Don’ care.”

“Of course you don’t.”

 

Bone sighed as his leader ignored him and hid his face between his arms. He made his way over to the desk and rested the water tin on the floor, dipping the cleanest part of the rag into it and ringing it out. Observing the wound in question, he saw that it was half hidden by Scourge’s collar and shirt. 

The long sleeve could stay- he would just have to pull it down a bit, but the collar was directly in the way. Bone wondered for a fleeting moment how there could have been a cut there when it was so protected. Anything could happen, he reasoned. No part of you was ever truly invulnerable in a place like this. 

 

“Can I undo your collar?” Bone asked gently, his deep voice sounding almost like a purr. 

Scourge secretly smirked to himself, knowing what his deputy was up to. “Well, if ya have ta, then I don’ see no problem with it.”

“Thank you for your cooperation.”

“Jus’ get to it, chicken bone.”

 

Ouch, Bone winced. He awkwardly laughed at the joke and placed his wet fingers on Scourge’s neck, not one to mention the disliked nickname. The small man tensed up at the touch and cold feeling that spread throughout his body, but didn’t speak. He kept silent and let Bone do his work. While there weren’t any true doctors in Bloodclan, quite a few members knew the basics of healing, and that included Bone of all people. The image of his big and strong ally in a sterile hospital was almost enough to make him laugh. 

Bone pushed on the edges of the buckle and I did it with an audible click, dragging the collar off and setting it on the table. He made extra care to not have the spikes decorating the nylon nick on his leader's skin. They were oddly sharp, probably deadly enough to be used as an impromptu weapon if needed, and, judging by the red and rusted ends of the spikes, they had been on more than one occasion. 

Without the extra bulk of the collar and leather jacket, Scourge seemed even smaller than usual. He was skinny as the pistol in his holster and barely reached up to Bone’s shoulders. To any other normal person, he would have been perceived as a frail teenager at best. Let them think of him like that, Bone thought as he started to dab the cloth on Scourge’s cut. It’ll only make the fear in their eyes all the more better. 

The two of them fell into their silent routine once again. Bone gently rinsed his neck and Scourge held back his small hisses of pain. It was natural. 

 

“Chelford cats don’t know the first thing ’bout fightin’” Scourge mumbled. 

“Did someone from the city give this to you?”

“Course not. I ain’t no baby boy in his first fight.”

“I know, I know. You could take on the whole lot of those prissy kitties with your hands tied behind your back,” Bone said, reaching for the drawer in the desk that held the boxes of bandages. Scourge opened it for him and nonchalantly handed one back without looking. “Thanks.”

“Don’ mention it baby.”

“I’m baby now, huh?”

“Yer whatever I call ya, sweetkins.”

 

Bone laughed and ran his free hand along the edge of Scourge’s hair, noting that he needed a touch up. It was over grown again, shaggier than his own. Scourge almost seemed to push against the touch like a cat would, secretly loving the gentle pets he was receiving. Bone kept running his fingers through the tangled mess as he placed the bandage over the cut, making sure to cover as much of it as possible. First aid was scarce, and not even Scourge wanted to take more than he needed. 

Calloused palms rubbed over the bandage and nearby skin. When Scourge didn’t object, Bone leaned closer, letting his chest lean over the seat and touch his leader's head, running his hands down to his collar bones. His fingers traced the protruding bone aimlessly, eventually moving up closer to the neck. 

 

“Are you still tired?” Bone asked while spinning the chair around so Scourge could face him. 

Scourge pretended to think for a moment, a smirk spreading across his lips. “Hmm… maybe. Do ya think you could liven me up a bit, Boney boy?”

“Only if you want me to.”

 

Scourge got a soft look in his cold blue eyes for a moment. It was fleeting as a breath, but Bone knew what it meant. He treasures me, he thought. No other man gets to treat him like this. 

 

“Come closer.”

 

Bone obeyed. He leaned forwards, kneeling nearly on the ground so he could be at eye level with his leader. Scourge reached out his battered hands and cupped each side of Bone’s face, gently tugging him closer until they could feel each other a breath. Bone swallowed and moved his gaze down to Scourge's lips. The smaller man flashed his fangs. 

 

“Are you growing soft on me, baby?” he teased, nudging his left hand down to Bone’s jawline, moving them closer together. 

“I never would.”

“Oh, but’cha do all I ever ask. That sounds pretty sof’ ta me, don’t it?”

“Scourge…” 

“Do you love me?” he suddenly asked, a less joking tone in his voice. 

“Of course I do. You’re all I fight for and work to protect. I treasure you, boss,” Bone said. He grabbed onto the hand resting on his cheek and held it tight. “That’s not being soft.”

“You coulda jus’ said yes like a normal guy.”

 

Scourge smiled and pulled Bone in for a kiss. They both sighed into it, relishing the closeness of each other. Scourge took control of the moment, leaning back in his chair, essentially yanking Bone into his small lap, all the while still kissing. Large hands made their way to either side of his ribs, rubbing down lower and lower as time went on. 

Bone pulled back first, a starry expression in his eyes. He stayed close to Scourge; his love, his leader, and smiled. They were in an awkward position, with Scourge being essentially pinned against the back of his chair by Bone’s large frame and knee between his legs. All part of his plan. 

 

Scourge wrapped his arms around the back of Bone’s neck and cocked his head to the side. “I love ya too, y’know.”

“I know.”

“Well, just thought I’d remind ya. Even tough bitches like you need some lovin’.”

 

Scourge pushed him backwards slightly and looked up at him, his eyes flaring. Bone swallowed again, remembering again just how powerful and terrifying this small man was. But then again, he could be vulnerable and childish like he was being now. He could match his leader.

 

Bone softly patted his leader’s hair and smiled. 

 

“You’re adorable,” he whispered.