it's over, isn't it? | rainfam




They had buried Rain next to marsh cats. Next to murderers and liars, cheats and vagabonds. They had placed him beneath the roots of those great trees, his cold, damp fur holding none of the celestial shine from when he appeared to them from beyond the veil. He had spoken to all but had said nothing to comfort his grieving family. Rain, his friend, his mentor, his confidante, his brother. Rain, with whom he had shared tongues and stories and experiences with. He had watched Rain's middle litter grow up and had been present for the most recent one. He had a relationship with the older boys as well, though they were more distant with the passing of their father.

Tugger couldn't blame them. Nothing was the same. Nothing would ever be the same. And yet... Rain's children still woke every morning and went about their day. His children, children that Tugger had been around for seasons now. They were Rain's legacy, a legacy that Tugger could still be a part of. It was this mindset that carried him to the corner of the camp after his solitary hunt, three birds clutched between his teeth. Maybe it wouldn't be an unwelcome gesture if it was from him.

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*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ There's a darkness in Haze's eyes now, shadows that refuse to lift despite the boiling sun's glare. The feeling that he has lost everything has not left him. His father is dead, and he's taken something essential with him--whatever spirit had held these cats together seemed to have died with him. He's thankful he did not lose siblings in the battle, and he admires his father for what he did--died saving Red.

But the hurt won't leave him. He misses having lightness in his step, a joke on his lips for any friendly pine dweller who passed by. Misses caring about the damn forest and those who lived within it.

Swampwater eyes sharpen as ginger paws approach. His flat face is hidden behind feathers, but Tugger's build is distinctive enough. Haze's jaw tightens.

He does not want to talk to anyone who aren't his siblings. Though his stomach growls and his head is cloudy with hunger, he only stares at Tugger and his offerings. After a painfully awkward silence, the tabby says, "Those for us?" His littermate is here somewhere, he knows. Squall has been bad-tempered since Rain's death too, and Haze does not blame him. The two are sharing a private misery that it seems Tugger is asking to share in.

It was never supposed to go like this.

Rain was supposed to die a peaceful death, one many, many seasons from now. That's what he deserved. That's what he always deserved. His legacy should've been passed down to his kits, and then to his kits' kits, and so forth. It's always how things were supposed to go, what Squall had always been led to believe, in some way, shape, or form.

The image is seared into his mind - his father, slain by a marsh cat. He saved Red, yes, but he shouldn't have had to. Squall should've been more attentive, more aware of his surroundings. Indigo and Haze had been fine, in the midst of the battle. He could've spared trying to save them, could've sped past his father to save Red instead. His mind has been reeling with thoughts of 'if only' since the battle, since the intervention, since the gathering.

SkyClan. It was nothing like what the pine group once was. It's war torn, grief falling upon those both young and old. Children are lost. Siblings are lost. Parents. Leaders.

The gathering's split - a result of Rain's creeper vine analogy - granted the marsh cat who killed his father leadership. Granted someone who had hardly lived with Rain's group long enough to have the title of 'pine cat' leadership, too. Someone who had led them into senseless battle, had been the one to inform them of Briar's call of war. Someone whose pointed words and lack of judgement left him stung, left him feeling exiled from the home he grew up in.

He feels... lost. Alone, almost.

He knows his siblings are grieving too. Truly, he knows that. But, he - and maybe even his littermate, too - is grieving in ways he fears Rain's second and third adopted litters are too young to comprehend. They were practically born into the group. Squall and Haze, however? They were original members.

They saw this group grow from the start. They grew up with the group.

And now? Everything felt wrong. Like someone flipped the forest over, only to pretend it was right side up.

He spots ginger fur out of the corner of his eye, and it's enough to shake him out of his sorrowful thoughts, storm green eyes flicking over towards the flash of fur. He meets the brown eyes of Tugger, Rain's flat faced friend. Someone who had been around within the group for almost as long as Squall and Haze. At first he's surprised; it doesn't really seem like anyone wanted anything to do with them - with Squall - right now. For a second, he wonders if Tugger's current grief is similar to his, but doubts it.

It's only when his brother speaks, that the silver tabby notices the birds. It's only when his stomach growls, when he realizes he hasn't been eating right. A bird wouldn't hurt. Silver paws soon find themselves beside his brother, a curious look on his face.

"What's this for?"
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Tugger nods at Haze's words, and then again at Squall's. Their silver pelts, so close to their father's, seem ripple identically as the move. They are twins in spirit, a double storm of golden, gray, and green, all colors that are passed down from their stormy sire. It hurts a little to look at them, to see Rain in their movements. In their faces. In their eyes. He takes the opportunity of setting down his catch to tear his gaze away from the likeness, lest the rage he had felt at seeing his brother's body cold and lifeless return to his face.

"For you." He affirms. Because I promised your father I would always look after you. Because I loved him as fiercely as I ever thought I could love a person. Because you're all I have left of him. Instead, all he could muster was a half-hearted jab. "You look like skinny rats. Best to keep your strength up."
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"Bold of you to tell us we look like rats."

It's a half-hearted tease, one that takes Squall a moment to come up with - quick-wittedness buried under a mountain of grief.

But, within the ever-changing world around him, a world in which made Squall feel like he was going to lose everything - he hoped so much that he and his siblings could keep their ties to Tugger. The tom had been around for as long as he could remember. Squall couldn't lose him as well in all of this.

Though, Squall knows that the faces in the pine forest - in SkyClan - are changing. He knows that members he'd seen every day for moons, for seasons, were leaving, joining WindClan, joining ThunderClan, joining RiverClan. He knows very well that Tugger could decide to leave too, to just... walk out of camp without a goodbye, to head to the moors, to the oak forest, to the river. Squall could lose Tugger too, at any moment.

His stomach growls once more, and his attention turns to the bird in front of him. He needs to keep his strength up, just as Tugger said. After all, he needs to make sure Blaise doesn't destroy his home, doesn't destroy his family's legacy - doesn't destroy what little Squall has left. So, the silver tabby leans forward to take a bite, slowly eating what's in front of him.

"Thank you," Squall tells the older tom, before adding, "For everything."
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