all i never meant to be / post-gathering

*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ Blaise, for the first time but certainly not for the last, has taken the reins and leads the colony home from the clearing. He feels as though he's entered some sort of unreality, a parallel universe where logic has become strained and different. When his paws enter their camp, he frowns and looks at it with new eyes.

It's SkyClan's camp. They are SkyClan now, keepers of the treetops, made of those who had been friends to Rain.

He turns and looks at the cats following him home, stunned at how few they seem now. Ember is not among them, of course--she had gone to the oak forest, her own small but spirited group tagging along with her. Others had gone to the river, to the moors, back to the marshes with Briar.

Things are different now, so different that the enormity of the situation threatens to swallow him whole.

"Welcome to SkyClan," he says and tries for a smile. He knows some pelts will be spiked at his presumptuousness. He himself is stunned that he did what he did--had taken the rock, proclaimed himself Rain's successor.

Who had taken over him? Was that Blaise really inside, waiting to come out?

The flame point looks at the cats who chose to return home with him with blatant anxiety. He is no leader. He's a kittypet. And yet here he is. Here they are. He's fulfilled the prophecy of what the marsh cats had always called them--led by kittypets. He wonders how the rest of them feel about all that had occurred. Are they scared, stunned, as he is?
*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ He'd nearly lost his cool at the Gathering, had almost whet his claws with that murderer's blood, but he had restrained himself. The procession of leaders, what a joke. He'd stared without comment as first a pregnant queen, then a kittypet, then Briar, then Ember, then his father's killer all divided the territories between them.

SkyClan. It's fine. The name doesn't bother him. And he knows someone would have to take Rain's place--someone to hold the Clan together, take in strays, foster friendships, ensure survival. It's not that part he takes issue with.

Their new leader turns to look at them all with what is clearly anxiety. Haze snorts. Kittypet takes control and then doesn't know what to do with it. There's no self-awareness about him, that he sounds like Briar's soldiers taunting them at their borders.

Deer goes to him, brushes her swishing half-tail against his flank. "It suits us, and I'm sure Rain would have loved it too."

Haze glares at the cream-colored femme. His issue is not with her, but he can't help himself. "Don't speak for my father," he says, voice hot. He gives Blaise a furious look and says, "Not when he has already presumed to do so."

His bent whiskers tremble with his rage. He wonders if he's the only one furious with these changes, changes made by someone who had barely known Rain, had not even bloodied their claws in battle. What right did this kittypet have to lead them?

"If my father would've loved the name, he would've named it SkyClan himself."

He's upset. Rightfully so. A cat who hardly knew his way around the forest - hardly knew how to watch his paws, either, Squall remembers, thinking back to the newcomer's arrival, his injured paw causing concern that marsh... or, ShadowClan... cats got to him - decided he was going to speak for the group. For Rain's children. For Squall and his siblings.

And now others were praising him for doing so? For claiming his father would love the flame-point's decision? All while he and his siblings are cast aside? Because Blaise - oh so wonderful Blaise - decided he'd be Rain's successor? A position that was meant to be his - or, rather, any of his siblings? Something he'd been so diligent in shadowing his father in, all for his work to be given to... to... a kittypet?

"So, what now?" he asks the flame-point, eyes narrowing at him, "We pretend that you're our leader?"

What did Blaise even know about leading? About building a group - a clan? He was just about certain that kittypets weren't taught that sort of stuff, that they didn't grow up around any of that. No, if anything, Blaise knew solely how to play with feathers and eat dry scraps.

"Go on then, leader, tell us what's next."
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Well, this whole SkyClan thing is off to a lovely start already, isn’t it? Two of the former leader’s—bless Rain’s soul—children are already speaking out against Blaise’s claim to leadership, and Tree Bark cannot blame them. They are grieving, likely feeling lost without their father, and they are hurt. The entire clan is hurt. The chocolate striped tom can only hope that there will be no more bloodshed.

As Haze and Squall both rip into the flame-pointed leader, Tree Bark can feel the beginning of a headache building up in the space behind where his eye once was. "Can we not get this over with without more fighting?" He mutters low enough for mostly himself to hear, squeezing his eye shut for a moment. This is so annoying, he thinks bitterly. He wants no part in this argument, even if Rain’s children have a point; he only wants to listen to whoever has declared themself leader speak, and then he wants to go back to his den and sleep for a moon and a half. Is that too much to ask?
*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ He's visibly relieved when Deer comes to his side and sweeps her feathery tail over him, a reassurance that not all of the newly dubbed SkyClan would resent his decisions. He touches his nose to her's briefly. "Thank you," he murmurs.

But he's jerked from the moment when one of the other cats stalks into the camp behind them. One of Rain's sons, frazzled whiskers and characteristically lazy expression blazing with anger.

"I would not presume to speak for Rain," he murmurs, taken aback by the hostility. He hadn't claimed Rain had chosen him to lead, after all--he wouldn't. He knows he isn't the orthodox choice.

Haze's littermate, Squall, is cold, ruthlessly critical. "So, what now?" Blaise winces as though Squall has drawn his claws over his face. The impact is painful and astonishing. "Go on then, leader, tell us what's next."

"What's next is..." He fumbles. Amidst the anger Rain's children are holding, he has lost what he has meant to say to the others.

Tree Bark murmurs allow for Blaise to snap back into it. He gives Haze and Squall a measured look, but he does not address them further. He will not squabble with them. If they want to fight his claim to leadership, they will have to demand it of him. He will not engage.

Blaise shakes his thick fur, trying to appear unruffled. With a powerful leap, he ascends the High Branch, the twisted wood where Rain had sometimes made announcements to the colony. He stands above SkyClan now, and after a moment, he catches his breath.

"This is SkyClan now, and I am your leader. I am not here to fight, and I will not harm a Clanmate. I will never do that." He gives first Haze, then Squall, a measured look before moving on.

"We've lost so much to the battle and to needless hostility. It's my job to make sure we can rebuild. So as long as I am leader, none of you will unsheathe your claws against a Clanmate. We will maintain peace in this camp." He pauses before waving his tail and continuing. As he speaks, he loses some of his nervousness, and his voice strengthens.

"But I will not draw the line there. We will defend ourselves from any who presume to bully us or attack us, but we will not start fights." He lets a pause impregnate the air. "We will not be the aggressors. We will not start another war. We will respect the other leaders' rules and boundaries as long as they do not infringe upon our rights and our safety."

Blaise paws the collar around his neck. He decides, internally, that it must come off, but he will not do it where these cats can see it. He won't give them that satisfaction. He sighs and continues. "SkyClan, we will defend what is ours, but we have to work together to survive against the more brutal Clans. There must be peace among us so that we can maintain peace with them."

He's finished, for now. He knows it will take time for his Clanmates to get used to him in Rain's position, sleeping in Rain's den, but he has no choice but to push forward and remain confident. He made the decision, after all, just as he made the decision to enter the forest a moon ago.

Blaise bunches his muscles and descends from the High Branch, blue eyes sparkling with adrenaline from his speech and from the events of the evening. There's dawn breaking over the horizon now.

"You should all sleep. It's been a long night. Once we've gotten some rest, we will start reinforcing our camp and stocking prey." His ginger ears twitch, and he does not give anyone a chance to lash out at him again. He turns and heads for Rain's den to attempt to sleep, even as his heart pounds and his head rushes.
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Winding and full of detours, her trek home had finally come to its conclusion. After a few nights spent along the fringes of the territory, Daisy Flight had mustered the courage, and swept away enough self-pity, to face the rest of the group. What was curious was that she didn't seem to be the only one entering camp that night.

The silken shadows of a returning party flitted between slender trunks, moonlight shimmering along the melange of pelts. The calico quietly slipped into the crowd, swirling into the leisurely stream that passed the entrance. They spilt out into the enclosed clearing, and Daisy Flight couldn't help but notice the unusual tension that fizzed through the cool evening air. All eyes seemed to follow... Blaise?

The tom's orange-capped face held a certain weight to it, an odd expression with a depth of significance. Curiosity and confusion thoroughly peaked, she decided to lay low for the time being. Skyclan? The complications kept coming.

The animosity caught her off guard and was swallowed up in the mysteries, until the title of leader was thrown in like a blunt instrument. Daisy Flight's whiskers flattened, pinched in disbelief. But as their supposed chief was set ablaze beneath the ashen light of the moon, taking his spot atop High Branch she couldn't help concede he spoke sense.

"Hear hear! That all sounds very reasonable." Clear as a bell tone she piped up, meeting Blaise's cornflower eyes with sincerity. Then, at a more modest volume, she sheepishly asked the cat nearest to her, "Uh, anyone mind catching me up to speed?"

/it can just be assumed an npc lets her know at some point haha, unless anyone wants their character to


He's about to shoot back at Tree Bark's words - a snarling remark about Blaise, about how none of this were to have happened, if it weren't for the flame-point, but the kittypet leaps upwards to sit on the tree branch Rain had sat upon a multitude of times. One where Rain would often speak to the rest of the pine group, where he would give guidance. Dark blue meets storm green as he speaks, his words pointed and direct, and it feels almost as if he were scolding a kit.

But, Squall wasn't a kit, and Blaise would never be anything like Rain.

Yet, the silver tabby cannot help but feel like he was in trouble, and wrongfully so. No, Squall would never lay a claw on those in the pine group. A change in the group's name - and an unfortunate change in leadership - wouldn't change that, right? The poor judgment of his character shouldn't come as a shock to him when it comes from someone who had yet to spend a full season within the group's confines. How low of Blaise, to think that of him.

His words continue, and it seems like common sense - defending the clan, maintaining peace, so on and so forth. It's nothing new, but a flicker of anger, of annoyance, remains within Squall at the sight of the flame-point who hadn't dealt with nearly as much of the tension as the incumbent leader probably should have, speaking on said tensions.

Blaise calls for rest, and Squall can find something to agree with the kittypet on. He was exhausted, from war, from grief, from everything. However, he's hardly able to take a step towards where he's set on going, before fire-hued fur cuts in front of him, enters the den he'd intended on heading straight to.

Rain's den.

It wasn't for the sake of making a point, that his pawsteps wanted to lead himself there, rather for comfort within all of this; as he'd done multiple times since his father's passing. Memories of curling up beside his father within that den, when he was younger and smaller, are at the forefront of his mind - a sinking feeling growing in his chest at the idea of anyone else sleeping in the den that he'd once shared with his family. Back before the pine group had grown into what it had been. Back before war tore through the forest.

But, because Rain was leader, because Rain died, and Blaise has named himself the new leader, the sense of comfort that comes from the den's confines can be no more, for Squall.

"Right," he mutters, paws turning to head towards his actual nest. Yet another silver memory, burned by flames. Yet another piece of his father destroyed.
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Tugger's head is still spinning from the events of the past few weeks. Burying Everest and Rain had left him drained, feeling nothing but cold fur where life and laughter was once chilled his fiery temper. They were gone. They were dead, left to stardust. And mere days later, he walked beside his clan-mates back to that hellish copse only to see cats claiming smaller colonies on the shallow graves of those they lost. He drug himself back to that burial ground to see Ember eagerly claim a territory for herself from Rain's legacy. He saw a kitty-pet, barely anything more than a fluffy house decoration, claim Rain's title.

Rename their group. Place himself as leader. Tugger had done nothing. He only stared at the tangled roots of the great oaks that now made up the graves of his friends. Of his brother. The name rattled around in his head as they trudged back to camp. SkyClan, Blaise had named them.

He says nothing now, though he sympathizes with Haze and Squall. Rain's sons, as close to kin as he has in this new SkyClan, he fully understands the anger they feel at this replacement. Nobody could ever replace Rain, least of all a cat that had only been in the wild during the warmer months when prey was plentiful and the she-cats were gorgeous. He doesn't offer anything more than a sniff before he turns to head to his own nest. This is something to be dealt with at another time.

Red stands off to the side in quiet contemplation, a slight frown marring his flame pointed features. He liked Blaise well enough, but like his brothers it was the fact that this cat had just marched into their home not too long ago and was now acting as if he was in charge. Had he missed something? His distaste at the situation had nothing to do with the fact that the tom was a kittypet and everything to do with the fact that he was new he didn’t know all the names of his group mates, hadn’t struggled alongside them for moons as they worked to feed themselves and take care of one another. What gave him the authority to come in here and name them? What gave anyone the authority to say what his father may or may not have liked?

He comes to stand beside Squall as he too watches the tom turn and go, headed in the direction of his fathers old den. He has to sink his claws into the dirt to keep himself from hurtling forward and pulling him out from the nest that, not too long ago, he had curled up with his family in and they had shared tongues. He remembered how he would go to his father late at night after having a bad dream and crawl in, the rythmic rise and fall of soft tabby fur lulling him to sleep. He wants to say something to Squall, or Haze but when he opens his mouth he finds he does not know what there even is to say. It is his fault their father is dead after all. If only he had been a better fighter, if if if. If wouldn’t bring Rain back, he knew, but he can’t help but think it. He watches Squall go, blue eyes heavy with sadness as he gives the leaders den one last glance before he too turns away.