sensitive topics TRUTH WILL BE SPOKEN - return

What left as a duo, returns as one.

Haze is dead, the weight of his brother's body ever-present on his shoulders with each step Squall takes. The rush of anger he felt in his battle with the WindClan leader is long over, and sorrow has renovated its home in the silver tabby. The stinging pain of his own wounds doesn't compare to that of the loss of his littermate, of having to witness such a horrific death, of failing to properly avenge his murder.

It is yet another moment of loss for the tom, all of which had come in such a short time. How was he supposed to go on, when loss was around every corner?

And his siblings - his remaining siblings - if he couldn't protect Haze, how could he protect them? How could he not fail them too?

How could he not fail SkyClan?

As the sun begins to rise after a full moon's night, tired, bloodstained silver paws take their first steps back into camp. The first steps since Daisy Flight was named deputy, since he'd left the meeting, since Sootstar had murdered Haze. He hopes no one is awake to see his return - to see the state of his brother, and his own wounds, left neglected in the midst of it all - but knows that won't be the case when his eyes meet another's.

"I--" Squall begins, pausing to try to find the words to say - as if he should know what to do when carrying his dead littermate home, but Rain omitted such in the lessons he had given the now grief-stricken tom. He sets Haze's body down, careful not to harm his unmoving body any further. "I'm sorry."

Sorry for not being able to protect Haze. Sorry for not being able to kill his murderer. Sorry for failing the clan, over and over again.

His head is pounding, and he feels like a scared kit again. Except, this time, he doesn't have Haze by his side.

This time, he's on his own.

// takes place after haze's death, squall and sootstar's fight, and the gathering
tagging @TUGGER as requested​
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He'd noticed Haze and Squall had not fell into line with SkyClan's other warriors when they'd departed for the Gathering, but the only emotion he'd felt at the time had been relief. Painfully, the two silver tabbies have made their distaste of his succession known -- if not with their words, than with their glares, their bitter expressions. They've not outright rioted against him, but Blazestar has dreaded each day anticipating Rain's children to either abandon their group or overthrow him.

The flame point isn't looking for the brothers as they find their way back to camp after the Gathering. Dawn pinkens the sky, gilds the low-lying clouds, and Blazestar prepares himself to leap onto the Highbranch and begin his address to SkyClan when a lurching shape staggers into camp behind him.

He freezes and turns, dark blue eyes stretching wide across his gold-painted face in shock. In horror. Squall has another cat draped over his back, an identical silver tabby with blood staining the ruff of white fur at its neck.

"StarClan help us." The blood drains from his face. Squall is battered, bloody, and he bears the weight of his dead littermate on his shoulders. "Squall--?" The question is choked.

But Squall does not answer anything. He doesn't explain. He only gazes at the cats gathered in the camp, green eyes glassy with grief, and tells them he's sorry.

"Sorry?" Blazestar's eyes are trained on Haze's body, unable to remove them. A warrior in his Clan who had lived and breathed and snarled and smiled lies dead at his own brother's paws. "Where-- where were you? What happened?" His breath fails him. Who's done this?


The ring of grief in distant voices, a tone so familiar, roused Daisy Flight from her rest in the nursery. Quick to action on leaden paws, the queen yanked a larger nest along with her as she made for the exit. With a precise fling, it landed across the scooped archway of the holly bush so as to block eye line. She didn't want Gaia to see whatever the clearing held.

A choked, "Ravens..." was the only comment the ear-flattened molly made. Whiskers pinched back in horror, she absorbed the sight. One sibling slung over the other, one with breath in their lungs and one without. Any readiness she had stitched to greet the tragedy fell away at the seams. Death- it had been made crueller since she had joined Skyclan. It bit deeper, drew longer scars.

Noiselessly, Daisy drifted forward. The wounds to Haze's neck looked- they looked deliberate. Breath still in her chest, fear ruffled her pelt like a warped wind. They were at peace... who, what? Air evaded her as she waited for the answer to Blaze's question.

Red had decided to sit the gathering out, just knowing that if he went it would take everything in him to not demand that lousy bag of fleas give him a rematch. And he had the audacity to claim he had been chosen by the stars. Red could hardly believe anyone from the same group that had lived under Rain had chosen to go and live with his killer. If he ever saw one of them again…

He had thought his brothers had gone to the gathering, and so he had slept peacefully in his nest last night, unaware of what would come in the morning. Unaware that elsewhere his brother was dragging yet another body home to be buried.

When Squall staggers into camp, Haze’s body draped across his back at first Red thinks nothing of it. Had they just gotten tired on their way home? He blinks a couple of times, denial refusing to let him see what is really going on until Haze’s body falls to the forest floor, limp. Red lets out a cry as his head hits the ground, flashbacks of his father entering his mind as he replays the scene of his death over and over again. They even had the killing blow in the same spot. How could this have happened? How could the stars be so cruel as to take another from him in so similar a fashion.

It’s like he’s moving in slow motion, the tom scrambles to his paws and runs to his departed brothers side, he lets out a wail and buries his head into his silver tabby fur, not wanting to look up and see what he knew was true. He willed him to breath, to wake up and admit that he was just taking a nap, that he didn’t want to have to walk back so he made Squall carry him. He does not look at Blazestar, or Deersong or even Daisyflight. When he finally looks up, his gaze is only reserved for Squall, his poor brother. The only words that come from his mouth are an apology and Red knows instantly that this is not his fault. He knows from the look in the toms eyes and the wounds that cover his body, whatever fate Haze had met was not his brothers fault. Red pushes himself to his paws and goes to him now, pressing himself against the tom, willing to be a shoulder for him to lean on if needed. They needed each other now more than ever. He needed him now more than ever. Patiently, he waits for him to tell them what happened, eyes matching his brothers as they glaze over in grief.
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Grief-blurred eyes hardly even recognize it's Blazestar that sees him first. It's not until he hears the flame-point's voice that he realizes he's gone from fury towards one feline gifted with nine lives, to another, only to be facing the one his anger initially stemmed from yet again.

If it weren't for this nine live business - if it weren't for Blazestar, and Sootstar, and Cicadastar, and Briarstar, and, stars, maybe even Emberstar - and all these other changes in the forest, littered with negative repercussions, perhaps Haze would be alive right now. Perhaps there'd be two silver tabbies returning side-by-side, not one silver tabby carrying his fallen brother home.

But, the trek home and the events that came before it leaves Squall too tired to shout much more than he already has, too grief-stricken to do much more than stare at his brother's body before him.

"We were... We were at the Fourtrees," he recalls, voice quiet as his eyes train on his brother, an attempt at avoiding Blazestar's gaze, "We... Haze started walking, so I followed, and we strayed too far. We got to the edge of the moorlands and Sootstar, she -- I tried to stop her, tried to get us back home, but she... She killed him. She murdered him."

Others start to crowd around, and he shrinks back, an image of being surrounded by WindClanners still present in his mind. He feels a nose against his cheek and flinches, only to remember - he's in SkyClan. He's home. This isn't the moorlands. He's safe here. He should be safe here.

"Kittypet. They... kept calling me a kittypet."

It's Deer he's flinched away from, who only asks for permission to honor his brother. He gives the she-cat a quiet nod in response. Rain didn't get much of a moment of his own, as he'd deserved - the Great Battle taking too many to give all that had been lost their own vigil. But he hoped Haze would get something proper, something he deserved.

He sees Daisy Flight, and he lowers his gaze once more, but not before glancing towards the nursery, to make sure the kit that had been following her around as of late hadn't made her way out with her. To his relief, the nursery is blocked, and the scrap of fur won't be able to see such a nightmarish scene. Squall isn't able to ponder Daisy Flight's presence - whether he even wants her to be near his slain littermate - for too long.

Because, not long after, he hears the cries of another brother.


"I'm sorry," he says once more, an edge of a cry in his own voice as his younger brother presses to his side, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He hadn't been able to protect Red in the battle, hadn't been able to step in before Rain had - an action that ultimately lead to his death. And now Haze, too, has been lost. His brother was left to mourn once again, left to hurt and grieve once more.

It was all Squall's fault.
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The scent of blood is all too heavy in the air as soon as she arrives in to camp, death or injury it screamed. She hoped it was the latter, not the former, she had just eaten breakfast and didn't want to hurl. White paws make her way over to the scene and her mood is crushed when Red's scream cuts through the air, her heart dropping in to her throat as she witnesses Haze lying unconscious on the forest floor. Perhaps the silver tabby is tired.

No. He was dead. There was blood. He was dead. There was a gaping wound.

She moves to press aside Red, provide comfort for him and Squall but her voice catches and nothing comes out but a squeak. Kittypet, kittypet. The words Squall spoke made the docile feline ache inside. What was so bad about it? Then comes anger. They had taunted someone and had the audacity to kill them after. Weak.

"Lo siento.." she breathes out quietly, her heart wrenching as she hears Squall's apology. "It is not your fault." it would not do much, the poor thing was in shock. "He will get a burial of a king," her voice is soft, she knows not of how to comfort them.

I'm sorry.
Harpy's hackles rise at the tang of blood that encompasses the camp, his approaching pawsteps faltering for only a split second before quickening. He carelessly pushes himself past the barrier of ferns and brambles, ignoring the sting of the thorns. What he sees on the other side... A shocked laugh is forced from his lungs. Squall, standing over the bloodied body of his brother, murmuring something of how they'd been attacked on the edge of the moorlands. More shocked laughter. They were on the moors? "Why?" The question leaves his mouth without a second thought, his eyes narrowing. "Why were you on the moors?" They should know that Sootstar did not care for their kind. It was a foolish move, and part of him faults the two brothers for this whole debacle. But another part of him grits his teeth and pins his ears, a cold fury frosting over his eyes. A stronger feeling of hatred for Sootstar. If what Squall says is true, she could've driven them off without killing Haze.

"Blazestar, what do you intend to do about this?" His icy gaze snaps onto the flame point, expectant for an answer. It's more of a test than a genuine question, to observe how their new leader takes charge.
Blazestar feels Deer's flank brush against his, hears Daisy Flight and Red draw near. Poor Squall looks as though he can hardly stand upright. And when he speaks, the SkyClan leader feels the heat leave his body as though he's as dead as Haze is.

"Soostar, she -- I tried to stop her, tried to get us back home, but she... She killed him."

The shifty way the small blue queen had looked at him atop the great rock during the Gathering -- it hadn't been coincidence, had it?

"She murdered him."

Blazestar's gaze falls again to Haze's body, the torn throat and blood-soaked white chest fur. Sootstar had killed one of his warriors and attacked another, all for nearing her lands? "She... she what?" He's heard Squall just fine. But he can hardly comprehend it.

The WindClan leader had killed another cat, when all she'd had to do was drive him away.

"Kittypet. They... kept calling me a kittypet."

Blazestar flinches as though he's been singed.

His fault. Squall isn't a kittypet. Haze wasn't one, either. He's the kittypet here.

He watches Squall and Red attempt to comfort each other, and Blazestar's eyes dim with anguish. He knows he's caused this, somehow. At least in part, he's caused this.

And how can he make this up to Rain, to his children?

Harpy stalks close to them, and Churro attempts to comfort Red. "Blazestar, what do you intend to do about this?"

StarClan, what can he do? He looks at the cream-colored warrior helplessly. Sacrifice what remains of their Clan for vengeance? Or sit and let them realize how unfit he is to lead this Clan?

"I must think," he murmurs, feeling his bones weigh him down. "I... need a few minutes. To think."

He doesn't say another word or spare the other cats another glance. He disappears, towards the den he calls his, tail dragging the dirt.

// out; this is just before he calls the meeting!