oneshot i'm staring at the mirror again / one-shot

*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ He's made up his mind.

He's going back. Back to the garden he's lived in since his kittenhood, to the housefolk who'd cared for him and nurtured him as well as any feline other. Where there is food security, where he's never gone to bed with a cramping and empty stomach. Where his bed is soft as feathers, where he is neither panting from heat exhaustion or freezing with aching bones.

Where no one will try to kill him or those he has come to care for.

He'd seen the cats rise from their still bodies. A wondrous sight, but one that had terrified him on a visceral level. Silver paws wrenching free from unmoving corpses, eyes full of starlight that gazed back at the living with the sudden wisdom of the dead. Rain himself. He looked both as he had on the day Blaise had gone to live in the forest and foolishly wrenched his paw--and otherworldly.

"Spread like the creeper vine." Blaise had heard his words just as the other cats there had. Spread like the creeper vine's five leaves. He doesn't really understand it, doesn't pretend to. He's decided to be a branching leaf, spread on his own, back to his origins. His kittypet roots.

He isn't cut out for this life. He isn't cut out for the wild where he'd blindly followed a she-cat who had not even asked for him to meet her. He can't give up his life for Rain or the cats he's grown to love--he can't, because he can't save them. He can't even try to save them.

Useless. A kittypet.

He's okay with being that, as long as he can be safe and happy.

Golden limbs stride through the pine forest with quiet determination. It's dusk, now, and there's a staleness to the air as he nears the Twolegplace. He realizes he will look almost unrecognizable to the housefolk he'd abandoned. Long, once-sleek fur filled with tiny leaves, bits of tree bark. Previously plump flanks have given way to hollowness. The innocence he'd worn on his first excursion has been replaced. He has aged years in his few moons in the pine forest.

But they will know him by the jingling collar, the way he curls becomingly beneath their soft, weathered paws.

He spots the nest, and his weary paws nearly collapse beneath the weight of his exhaustion, his relief. He springs through the garden, but his gait slows as he does. The vines are brittle, the buds limp. Why is it so dead? Withered?

He frowns. Something isn't right. The monster that used to rest in the den near the nest is not there. Everything has a pervasive emptiness to it. Deadness, he thinks again, but he pushes that away. It means nothing.

Blaise rears up on his hind legs, gazing into the window he used to use to escape into the world. It is not cracked, as it usually is. Sealed shut. Blue eyes gaze frantically through the glass, but there's no movement. The inside of the nest is dark.

Dark, and empty.

"No," he murmurs. Defeat settles over him like pouring rain, soaking his thick fur and weighing him to the earth. "I... I haven't been gone that long, have I? I... I was always going to come back."

Was he?

He backs away. Cerulean orbs flick to the stars emerging in the darkened sky. The place where Rain walks now, where Haku lives, Onceler. So many. They are watching him now. Disappointed in him for his traitorous thoughts? Sad for him, for losing his home for good? Feeling nothing, as the dead often do, watching with judgment?

Tears flood his vision, but he does not release them. Misery. Guilt. He knows he must return to the forest, to the cats Rain has left behind. He's resigned to this fate. He cannot leave them behind after all. But he's tired, tired in a way he cannot put words to.

He curls limply beneath the windowsill, falls asleep to the cicada's songs and the cricket's cries. In his dreams, he walks the path into the forest anew, and he meets her again. Little Wolf. She's beautiful, and she's worth the pain, if only he can be with her again.

It's what he awakens with, when the sun pinkens the horizon line. That lost warmth. What he's been missing since Rain took him in.

Without ceremony, Blaise leaves the Twolegplace. He does not know if it is the last time he'll be there, but it is the last time he'll call it home.