Acorn woke up with a start to find himself slumped over a rock in his den.

‘Okay. Sure. Time loop. I can do that,’ he thought to himself. Standing up on wobbly weak legs, he immediately drew all of his energy together to crawl towards the entrance.

Everything was exactly the same. No other cats, no traces of activity, just him and the cold dirt. He didn’t bother to waste any of his energy on investigating. There was only one thing to do, and that was to dig, because his life depended on it. So he dug.

“Seriously, Cornflower, I need your help,” he meowed. “I know I’ve been a dick. But if we don’t work together, we’re going to die!”

But Cornflower was silent. So he kept digging, paws scrabbling through the mud. He had no idea how long it was going to take for him to get out. Did he have enough time?

“I’m sorry for what I did. I should have listened to you. We could have been doing something better by now.” He sincerely meant it. There was nothing that he felt in this moment stronger than regret and guilt.

“That’s exactly my problem,” Cornflower replied.

“What?” Acorn was desperate enough to get any kind of acknowledgment at this point, even a berating.

“That’s my problem with you. You don’t change anything about yourself until it’s too late.”

Acorn was suddenly uncomfortably aware of the cold dirt, the wetness between his claws. He was also vigilantly perceptive of just how pissed his other was with him. So he was afraid to ask his question, but talking was the only thing standing between him and the terrible quiet cold: “Do you think it’s too late for me?”

Cornflower rubbed its sides together contemplatively. “It’s too late for us. We were a goner a long time ago. We couldn’t agree on anything, and that’s why I’m stuck here, dying in a cave with this asshole.”

Acorn knew it was right, but he didn’t let that stop him from digging. At least if he was a lost cause, he could be found as a lesson to others, he thought.

“What lesson?” He winced; he had forgotten that it was attuned to his thoughts. “To not drown yourself to death in your own poppy den?”

“Ha ha,” he laughed anxiously. “Lay off. I’m trying to save our life here.”

“You couldn’t save your way out of a wet pile of leaves. Literally, you...”

Cornflower was in the middle of saying some other scathing insult when Acorn saw a pinprick of light through the dirt. “Shut up. Look!”