oneshot SCARS YOU CAN'T ERASE — departure

The night summons those who live within the pine forest to their dens for slumber. The camp is silent as they sleep, a moment of peace washing over the clan.

Within the peace lays a wide awake Finchcatcher, turmoil brewing within the ginger tom. Green eyes stare past the warrior den's entrance, towards the exit of the camp. The same thought that's been in his mind for a while repeats itself yet again, keeping him restless and unable to sleep.

SkyClan doesn't feel like home. Not anymore.

He isn't quite sure when it started - or rather, which earned scar was the turning point in his thoughts towards the pine forest. Perhaps it began when the marsh cat ambushed him, had given him his first scars - nasty ones, along his shoulder and neck, a forever reminder of the first real bloodshed between Marsh and Pine. Perhaps it was while he did his best to heal, long before medicine cats were named, long before StarClan bestowed their gifts upon those who could heal, upon those who could lead.

He knows the Great Battle pushed his feelings further and knows it was the beginning of the end. If it weren't for Cosmospaw following him into battle, for those marsh kits interacting with his young, scared brother, for his own moment of foolishness - of fear - that led to the death of a kit who probably didn't deserve it, then, maybe - just maybe - Finchcatcher wouldn't be feeling the way he was feeling. His brother wouldn't look at him, would avoid him at all costs. It pained him to see such actions, to know that his brother hated him for what he'd done.

Guilt ate at him daily. His own slumber is nowhere near peaceful - nightmares of killing Toad, nightmares that turn into him killing Cosmospaw instead, of the warrior that attacked him afterward killing him, killing Cosmospaw, take over at every opportunity.

And now? Now, he has a name that fills him with more guilt, that's meant to reflect one thing but reflects something else completely. A name he deserves, but a name that mars him almost as much as his scars do. A name that seals the deal - Finchcatcher can no longer live in SkyClan.

His brother would be fine. He knows this. Knows that he has a good mentor to keep him busy, that he'll grow into a better warrior than Finchcatcher could ever be. Though Cosmospaw has always been more careful than he has, Finchcatcher knows the white tom has the drive to be someone far better than his older brother.

His brother will be okay without him. Maybe even thrive, without his presence. That's all that matters to him, that Cosmospaw will be okay.

So, that's that then, he thinks. This is happening.

He rises from his nest, white paws stepping carefully around others, as to not wake them. He is quiet as he leaves the den, as he makes his way to the exit. Where he will go, he is unsure about, but he'll figure it out. Finchcatcher thinks it'll be best to stay within the clans, so he can at least check in with his brother every so often, but one can only hope so much that another clan accepts him.

He pauses the moment he gets to the camp's exit, hesitation weighing his mind. It's for the best, he reminds himself. Finchcatcher takes a final look at the camp, heart pounding at his decision finalizes itself.

Goodbye, SkyClan, he thinks as he takes his final steps out of camp, as he takes his first steps away from what once was his home, Keep Cosmospaw safe.
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