Okay!! I wanna do some timelining n stuff to talk about pouf, I've mentioned some stuff before but I wanna make a formal post about it
Heads up, not just for major ch.imera a.nt arc spoilers, but also for uhhhh discussion of war, the aftermath of war, mentions of death, and trauma. I'm not going super hard on the discussion, but it's all gonna be brought up so proceed with caution if any of that's an issue!
Alright so, the Lore tl;dr is:
Unstable man + War Is Hell is not a good combo at all and he flat out refuses to address anything that went wrong, even with how he felt before everything fell apart. Post-war he's doing even worse and has flat out just given up, until he ends up meeting someone who's also moving through some wild rough patches who helps him put one foot in front of the other in a sort of mutual recovery type of way.
If you wanna see some specifics then you're in luck bc I've also got a 7 paragraph long version of info regarding canon events and the eventual segway into what this blog's mostly about 👀, let's go:
We're operating on a post-war "no one dies" timeline lmao. For the uninitiated, this arc builds into a small scale war between ants and humanity bc ants wanna replace humans as the dominant species and there's a little too much death involved for anyone to feel comfortable about it; amongst other things that happen, this continues to escalate until the detonation of a nuclear bomb with a rose shaped cloud (that detail is a surprise tool that will help us later). Long arc, lots of gray morality, lots of discussion of what really makes you human, etc etc.
Pouf himself is a royal guard protecting a king alongside two other guards/siblings (he's the middle child U_U); as the arc progresses he becomes more and more attached to his own personal idea of what the king should be and it looks increasingly more like self destructive devotion as well as unbelievable homoeroticism, just a small man with a big crush and self worth issues as he bases his own personal value on his ability to effectively serve his king. You can already see how this just doesn't work 😔. Pouf + his younger brother actually witness the bomb detonation and immediately head to ground zero to find their king at the brink of death, but he does end up surviving until the effects of radiation poisoning start kicking in.
Backtracking a bit, the king keeps talking to a human and he learns that maybe not every single person is terrible, something that really distresses pouf bc That's Not How It's Supposed To Work. Post bomb, pouf kinda learns that he doesn't have a lot of time left after seeing his brother dead in the dirt and starts actively trying to kill this person out of sheer desperation, tl;dr he can't do it, he feels like he's failed his singular purpose in life, the king he loved and admired literally turned his back on him and walked away, and then the poisoning FINALLY actually kills pouf, we get one last shot of him laying in the dirt, covered in his own blood and tears.
Wow, that's kinda heavy, let's back that up a bit 👀
The ants were pretty sturdy, and the bomb itself canonically carried poison, not specifically radiation, but poison, and that's the detail I'm hinging all this on. Strategic human retreat after one of the most powerful explosives in existence doesn't do the job, maybe some kind of "if you don't do anything then we won't do anything" truce or smthn; the oldest guard had their own things going on outside the bomb, but they also manage to get through their ordeal. There's some ant casualties, a few ants even worked for the opposite side, but the guards and their king make it out alive, albeit in varying amounts of pain as they all wait for the poison to eventually purge itself.
No one is okay after this, no one brings it up, but all the guards are noticeably jumpy and quiet after the war. Pouf wasn't doing so well before it, afterwards he's a mess. The king can pretty easily hold his own in a fight and spends more time without his guards, starts spending more time that one person that made him realize why life is special. Pouf barely sees his king (read: the most important person in his life) anymore and spends every day after the war inconsolable. He feels like a complete failure with a shattered heart. If he cried a lot before, at this point it's rare to see him without tears in his eyes; spends lots of time just staring out the windows, sometimes he plays music but it sounds upsetting enough that no one wants to be around for it. He continues isolating himself, and eventually gets pushed to play outside by someone who's also feels poorly. He always comes back in the evening, but he gets a little farther away each day.
But then one day, the strangest thing happens. He's already so wary of humanity, after everything he saw and what it did to his king, but he's too tired and upset to really protest; the eventual discussions that start breaching mental health cause him to open his eyes a bit more and really think about what he's doing with me. He's still on guard, waiting for a stab in the back that will never come, but gradually learns how to be more comfortable with himself and his experiences. It's a lot of work that occasionally gets very painful, but it's so rewarding when he realizes that he's able to be genuinely happy for the first time in a long time.
This man works through his p.tsd and severe anxiety with someone who's had to do the same; he finds someone who shares his thinking and behavioral patterns and finds out he's neurodivergent. He's got a rose trigger that vexes and haunts him bc he's a romantic at heart and just feels so sickened and uneasy around roses, and that's also something we work around and through.
Solace and comfort in mutual growth and healing.