Imp has spent the whole walk here trying to figure out what the hell he was gonna say. The trip to Wind Haven hadn't seemed like an awful idea at first — it still didn't, really — but Diarmuid hadn't really given him a script for how he was supposed to come back. He hadn't said goodbye, even. Were they scared for him? Did they think he was captured or dead or did they think he just didn't want to talk to them? Shit. (His moms wouldn't wanna hear him say that word, but it's the most accurate way to portray his feelings.) The red tabby isn't used to feelin' this kind of nervous, shifting from paw to paw at the Rogues' border like he was well-behaved. He wasn't, but the way his shoulders hunch down and his head hangs down make him seem meek and small. "Ver? Saturn? Mom?"
hoshi had definitely been worrying this entire time that imp had been gone- they'd been ready to head off on their own - or maybe bring another one of their siblings or their mothers along just for moral support - but had held back. what if imperial had come back while they were gone? what if hoshi got lost out there, too?? they didn't really want anyone worrying about imperial and them. and they were glad that they haven't gone after their brother, as when they're walking around the territory (maybe on watch just in case) and found him at the border, they'd let out a loud screech. "where were you!?" they called, though they didn't sound the least bit angry. maybe more excited than anything that their brother was back. "we were all worried! you should've seen us- really-" they rambled on as they bounded over towards him.
✧ // i've only got weeks
For the entirety of their lives until Imperialkit had disappeared, Midi had taken to becoming his shadow. She was constantly a couple steps behind him, appearing wherever he may. It was just a natural instinct of her own. After he fled, she was forced to fend for herself. It was difficult, considering how little the tiny orange tabby understood of the world. However, to see him home was a breath of fresh air. "Impy! Impy! Impy homes! Hellos!"
★ — "You're back," came the voice of Nico as he hurriedly trotted towards the young kit, having heard the excited voices of Midi and Hoshi as they greeted their brother. The malinois crouched down to examine the small feline for any signs of injury or harm, black nose twitching as he sniffed the kit over. Nothing -- there was nothing wrong with him. Where on Agrelos had this little guy been all this time? "You seem.. fine. That's good," he sounded almost surprised as he made the conclusion, furrowing his brow while he continued his visual examination. Had he just.. run off? Nico couldn't see any signs Imp had been captured, and what would be the point in taking a kit hostage just to let him free again? They'd almost been in a panic at the discovery of Imp's disappearance, and it seemed there had been no reason for it. Though, if he had run off, Nico didn't blame the little guy -- he had done something very similar when he was the same age. Adventurous spirits couldn't be helped, he supposed. That in no way meant to justify his actions, of course. Reckless and erratic behavior were just that, despite how deeply Nico could relate (or how secretly proud he was).
Nico breathed a sigh of relief, more than grateful that Saturnstar's kit was now safe at home, and he turned his soft amber gaze to Midi and Hoshi. "Alright, guys, let's get Impy home," the malinois spoke, rising to a stance, "I'm sure Sat and Ver are still worried sick. We don't know what Imp's been through, so who knows -- maybe he needs you two to carry him," he said flatly with a knowing glance towards the returnee, meaning it as more of an ironic joke than something to guilt the young feline.
tags | "speech"
It always hung in her mind wherever she went to look for her dear son wherever she went, she'd been throughout the territories only to never find him. No sign of her son had come up; and how it horrified her to think she could lose them so easily. She'd thought about it when she'd been stuck in the prisons when she was alone in the dark wondering what her children were doing, how they felt, if they'd missed her? Would Imperial hiss at her for being so slow, for not scouring the entire world for him (Helios knew she wanted to, more than anything but she was held back from doing much of anything) she'd only returned home recently. Came back to the Rogues wrapped in bandages yet still pulling up her facade, still doing her best to be strong (it's all she was good for) for the sake of her children and for their mother.
She would've went out to look again, limped across the whole span of Agrelo's for him but he was here sitting in front of them and she both wants to scream at him for leaving like that for worrying them so bad and to grab him and apologize for fucking up. For not being better, for not being there. But Ver doesn't do either despite her impulsive ways she has enough control to know that would only make things worse. She moves over to him standing over his siblings and besides Nico looking down at him frown etched onto her face. Disappointment clear as summer skies.
”No, it's okay. Nico you mind taking Midi and Hoshi home?” she asks but it's more than clear it's more of an order than anything else. ”I need to have a talk with my son”
He hadn't meant to worry anyone — Imp was just a short-sighted kinda guy, and couldn't see beyond what was going through his own head. Took his brain a little while to catch up, you know? And when he did, he came back. Kinda had to, because he missed them so fucking much and the break had been just what he needed. Got him sane again, not so angry. Diarmuid was good like that, maybe a friend. There were a lot of those out there. He's starting to realize that. Starting to want to prove that, to know that: there are people out there who will be kind and soft, or if not those things, then just what he needed. Sometimes not, but he could leave them behind.
The boy's expression gets more and more sheepish as people gather around, head ducking lower and ears flattening against his head. Whatever Nico had meant it to be, it did send a stab of guilt through him. Then anger, 'cause he didn't do anything wrong except not open his mouth, which — well that's what got him in trouble all the time, opening his stupid mouth. He couldn't ever do anything right and that anger's already swelling up again, nose twitching and muddy eyes now firmly on the ground. He doesn't look up or speak even when he hears his mother's voice, though shifting ears let her know that he's heard her disappointment. It stung, even if it was deserved, and he resolutely decides not to open his mouth through whatever lecture he'll inevitably get. Words have gotten him in enough trouble already.
"Kid's been gone for a while and this is what you do first?" The feline snorted, a bitter curl to his mouth. He'd left as a kid, too, and when he came back he could still remember the way his mother had looked at him, tears catching the light- a stóirín and a gentle paw under his chin. He'd inserted his own disappointment there, but now he could recognize what had scared him more: forgiveness, acceptance. Even though Imp was a helluva lot more feisty, he thought he could understand him, enough so that he knew the signs of what led to Diarmuid's own departure, and he knew he was just unbalanced.
Still trying to find his way and looking to the people close to him for it.
"I took him with me to Wind Haven. Thought he might like meeting new people, and I figured at least I'd be around to keep an eye on him." He didn't look repentant or guilty, or even sorry because he wasn't. Diarmuid would do it again, and there was a fierce resolve to amber eyes that'd been gone for months. "Never heard you looking for him, even though Wind Haven's just a few stops away. But," he laughed sharply, "interestingly enough, one of your other kids was there, wasn't she?" His teeth ground together, and he went to stand beside Imp, who was staring at the ground, quieter than ever.
"He came back because he wanted to. Fuck knows why, but he did. Don't screw it up and give him a reason to leave again."
Lectures; most of the time she tried to convince the children’s other mom(s) to give them knowing she didn’t have the heart for it but somethings had to be done. She had to get things straight and whilst she wouldn’t scream wouldn’t at all snarl or berate him to chase him away she still had to get things straight. She sighs hard blinking at him about to speak, about to wrap her wing around him to lead him away from the rest. If only his companion followed his lead.
Her eyes snap shining with hostility to Diarmuid as the boy goes on his little tirade as he shows what he’s done. She wonders what went wrong with him compared to his sweet long gone brother and mature mother, was he cursed by some matter by the paternal blood within him. For a moment she thinks of hitting them hears the call of the void and can for once sympathize with a boy she hates more. Diarmuid was a little shit, a child who hurt more than he cared. ”How in gods name are you Saoirse’s boy?” she blurts it doesn’t mean to but her agitation peaks and her blame rest solely on him now rather than her son. She owes Diar nothing, Saoirse had her debt but this boy ruined it the moment he decided to immaturely drag her son into his little game of run away and disappear for months and months. She hates to say it but she wishes he swapped spots with his brother. ”Don’t bring my son into your little runaway schemes; I didn’t see or hear any word either of you in the Haven so either you’re lying or you were hiding. You’re older than him, you’re supposed to be the example and yet you put him in danger” she growls fur prickling.
”You are just a boy, you cannot take care of him. Do you have any idea what could happen if let’s say the Exiles decided to try and fucking takeover, do you know how dangerous it is for anyone with my name” she’d noted their older siblings injuries before always tried to warn them about the dangers of strangers and their enemies and what they’d done. The bandages on her or the haggard look on her face.
She was wrong about Diarmuid. He had been ready to accept whatever came to him up until the moment she spouts those words to the one person, here or anywhere else, that had tried to be his friend. Red fur fluffs up and his ears go back. Not aggressively. It's almost defensive. Hurt. Because he saw more of himself in Diar than he did in anyone else, and if that's what his mom thought about the older boy —
Imp struggles to swallow. "He's not lying," he says, his quick words firm but shaking. "And we weren't hiding. I just — it's not his fault." How does he tell his mom that he loved her but he needed to go? That he felt worse and worse the longer he was around all of his family? Because they were better at being children than he was, they were better at being lovable and trainable and soft. Even though he's only five months old, Imp feels so broken and angry. Trying to hang out with him was like trying to gather up shattered glass with only your mouth. It would just leave you bloody.
How does he explain that he feels more like a splinter in her paw than her son, and it has nothing to do with anything she did and everything to do with who he just was? Frustration builds in his chest like a bottle rocket; he has no way to communicate what he's feeling. All he can do is shake his head harshly, thumping one of his paws onto the dirt and trying not to growl at the barrier blocking him off from his family. Was he just born with a wall between his heart and his mouth? This fucking filter that only let the bad things out? He wants so badly to be good, and maybe that's why he left. Because he just couldn't be good for them. And if he couldn't be good, then he would rather be nothing at all.
"I'm not stupid. He's not stupid. He was trying to be my friend. Nobody else —" he flounders, manages to keep himself from saying nobody else wanted me to stay, just barely, and then looks back at the ground with a stubborn frown and tears starting to prickle at his eyes, which he stubbornly blinks away. That only makes his vision go blurry. His claws knead into the ground, tearing up whatever he could before immediately pushing it back in. Like he regrets ruining that too. With another shaky breath, he tries to step out of the box he allowed to be comfortable, tangling sentences on his tongue. They roll off in whispers. "I thought I was gonna make you mad at me if I stayed. I'm so angry all the time an' I didn't want to make you guys hate me. I just needed to go."
"Didn't think I had to explain where babies come from," he answered dryly, and he wondered if she thought that would hurt, if she thought that was something he hadn't heard before, like it wasn't his mantra since the day he'd left as a young boy to train. Maybe it would have hurt if he'd cared what anyone else thought of him. There were only two people with that kind of sway, and one was in the ground while the other could be too, for all Diarmuid knew. "But don't stand there and pretend like you've got the moral high ground here. You didn't deserve my mother either, but at least I'm not a parent arguing with another kid instead of fucking welcoming her son home." His upper lip curled in disgust, amber eyes alight. He hadn't wanted to be right- he didn't want Imp to think his mother couldn't take care of him, but the ball had landed in Ver's court for that. She should have struck it differently.
And Imp- Imp defended Diarmuid when the kid needed to do...anything else but stand here and try to justify to someone who wouldn't understand why he'd left. Diarmuid had gone off as a child because he hadn't been good enough, wanted to keep his mother and brother safe by becoming stronger. Imp did that too, in his own way, in a way he didn't have to. Just because he wasn't like his many siblings didn't make him lesser, or worse, or anything but himself. A good kid.
"You're not exactly a shining paragon leading by example, either," he shot back, "unless you want him to make a habit of abandonment." And damn, that was rich, wasn't it? The Exiles, like they hadn't shown up here in the Rogues ready to take the castle from them. Always an excuse, always something to hide behind when trying to avoid the fucked up shit they'd done out here and in the Ruins. God forbid Diarmuid take him to Wind Haven, where the worst thing was a fucking inanimate mountain. "What're The Exiles gonna do? He won't introduce himself to them. They're not gonna take a look at the kid and think he's yours. He's not like you." Which wasn't an insult to Imp. Imp was better than he gave himself credit for, better than anyone else had ever told him he was, apparently. "He gives a shit about his family. Enough to leave because he wanted to make you feel better."
Diarmuid pulled his shawl from his shoulders, ignoring how bare his back felt now and how sent a weakening tremor in his legs to be apart from it. He folded it over Imp's smaller form. He was small in general- just a little kid trying to do what he thought was the right thing and rubbing away unshed tears. It wasn't fair to him. "Family doesn't hate each other. They might get annoyed, might get frustrated, but that's- that's better than losing you."
The more aggressive of her children always found solace in those who encouraged or worsened their flaws, who smiled and nodded along with what they did and helped them further themselves in the worst of ways. It led to Arya vanishing and her drug addiction, and now to her son running away with a boy who'd been a pain in the ass since he could speak. She understands the necessity of finding someone to support you, someone you could see yourself in but this was toxic in her eyes. A dangerous game that could've gotten him killed and she can't be the lax parent and just lay down and smile and welcome him home and just wait like a useless piece of shit for when he runs off again when her attention is diverted. Parenthood wasn't all about affection, she loved her children yes wanted to be their friends wanted to love her but she was responsible for raising them. Diarmuid was just going to cause him more pain, just as he'd done to Saoirse. It didn't' matter why they left rather it was to grow up on their own, become stronger or otherwise it was always hurt.
She sighs ears flattening as her son defends him, it's unrightful all this boy is going to do is make things worse. That's what he'd always done, spat foul words and tried to act tough and brave when he was just a kid who couldn't protect his mother or brother much less himself and her son. ”You're not stupid kid” she agrees even if she could never throw a bone to his companion, to a boy who should know better who had lost the rest of his family. She doesn't get a chance to step towards him to say what needs to be said just has to listen to the other speak hostility shining in her eyes and she wishes more than anything he'd know when to step the fuck away.
Your no kid. He never spoke like one, always acted to old for his age always tried to be something he shouldn't be she remembers him going off on her and Seagull. It was rightful at the time but his language and utter lack of respect for anyone who wasn't himself grated on her back then when all she wanted was to help his mother raise both he and his sibling. ”I'm not arguing with you, he's my son and I wanted to speak with him in private. I can't just welcome him home and act like everything is fine because it is not” she replies bluntly keeping the tension from her tone. His comment about the exiles makes her want to grip her paws into her foreleg and wish that was the case ”You know nothing about what they're capable of, they poisoned his sister allied themselves with a clan that ripped out another of his sisters claws. None of his siblings look like me, all it takes is one person to know what name he carries for him to be hurt, you have no fucking idea what'd i'd do if I lost you” she shifts her gaze away from Diarmuid approaching Imp attempting to lay her uninjured paw against the boys own front paws.
”Imperialkit look at me; I could never hate you no matter what you do or say” she grits her teeth ”I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, sorry you ever feel as if you aren't welcome here with your own family. You're my son no matter what you do, I do not ever want to wake up again and think that your not there, you scared the fuck out of all of us Imp we thought we really lost you. We aren't a family without you”
It was so hard to see that everyone was trying. Ver tried and Diar tried and he tried, they all tried so hard to make their individual lives and hearts work together. He understands all of them better than he understands himself and it's still not enough, his messy heart can't make sense of it all. Whatever Ver may think was best for him — she's wrong. She's wrong to try and frame this leaving away as something he wanted and not what he needed, 'cause if he stayed he'd ruin it. And they didn't understand that. Everyone who didn't have to run away and destroy themselves in peace didn't get it, and he understands them but he's not sure that it's returned. Hearing them argue back and forth just has the turmoil winding up in his chest again, and eventually the boy breaks after a long, tense silence:
"Stop it! Stop — stop fuckin' yelling at each other like it'll solve anything!" Because yelling doesn't solve anything, and he knows that that's what they're all trying to do. To fix this. He can't fix anything but maybe he can help them try. "You can't put me on a leash. I was fine, Di made sure I was fine. If I'd told you where I was it would've been fine, my sister's there and you don't care. So just stop acting like it's Di's fault, okay?" His voice goes weak and wrecked, stones settling in the pit of his stomach and ribs. "I would've left without him. Just be glad I didn't, 'cause then maybe something bad would've happened."
Nothing he's spouted since the start of their back-and-forth argument has truly felt angry. It was more desperate than anything, clawing for something to cling to in a stormy ocean as he drowns under waves and waves of confusion and heartache. Why is it that nothing goes right? Why can't he do anything right? He doesn't want to hear about this anymore, mind going blessedly blank as he looks down at his own paws until his mother's press over them. Gently; he hasn't realized how terribly he missed being touched. He didn't really let people do it. Be that as it may, Imperialkit doesn't allow himself to burrow into her or the warm cloak draped over him. They're both comforting and smothering, because he has this terrible urge to run away from the trouble he's caused. They both care too much about him. He can't deal with it. But Imp sucks in a steadying breath, trying to keep his eyes from watering more than they already are, and tries to let her words really reach his mind.
"It's not that you weren't there for me," he promises weakly. "I just didn't want you to have to be." Gently and tiredly, the kitten shakes his head. "Can I just go sleep? I'm tired," the word sounds choked, his throat tight, "I want my bed."