|"Welcome home, Pine."|
|— Jake in Pinestar's Choice, chapter 10|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter ten of Pinestar's Choice. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 10 (of 10)
- Page Numbers: N/A
- Pinestar pads through the woods one last time, making for Twolegplace. He has no need to worry anymore: he doesn't need to think about the borders, the fresh-kill pile, or the elders' den leaking in a rainstorm. The reddish-brown tom breaks into a run as he nears the wooden fence, and the long grass surrounds him as he crouches, then leaps over the border. As he lands in the garden, his legs feel old and tired. Pinestar realizes now that he's trembling, and a dizzying emptiness opens up inside him. He recalls his life, from kit, to apprentice, then to warrior, deputy, and leader. Each role had been marked out by his name, how his Clanmates treated him, the routine day, and the boundaries.
- But now, all that is gone. Vanished; he wonders what he has left. For a moment, the reddish-brown tom wants to go back to ThunderClan, maybe not as the leader, but as an elder, safe, sheltered, and have no responsibility. However, his Clanmates would be around him, and he would've had to watch them go and fight, and never return. Pinestar knows that he'd also be powerless to help Tigerkit, his son. He keeps moving, heading through several other kittypet territories, and passes by Tyr, who's dozing off. Over a wall, and along a narrow path, and then he finds himself at the edge of a Thunderpath. He pictures the last time he had seen Shanty, in the glow of the poles that produced light.
- His paws feel heavy as he crosses the small Thunderpath, refusing to look at the stain where his friend had died. Pinestar tells himself that Shanty isn't there anymore, and she is away from fear, and pain: she is safe. The former Clan cat pauses at the entrance of Shanty's den, and hears her Twolegs speaking softly, and wonders if they sound sadder than usual. He knows her Twolegs must miss the small kittypet more than he does, and he takes a deep breath. This is why he left ThunderClan: he wants to help his friend's Twoelgs, and hopes to fill the gap in their hearts where Shanty was, even if he can't complete it fully. He pads past the green hedge, and into the garden. The Twolegs stop talking, and stare at him.
- Then, the male Twoleg gestures at Pinestar and yowls, clearly wanting the brown tom to leave. The former leader mews, trying to tell the Twoleg that it is him, Shanty's friend, but the male steps forward, rumbling ominously. Pinestar shrinks back, alarmed, unsure of what to do. He asks his old friend what he should do, since a Twoleg isn't an enemy he would be able to fight, because he is just an intruder here. Then the female Twoleg moves forwards, and puts her brown paw on the male's foreleg. Pinestar hears her voice as soft, as though she is asking the male something, and points at the brown cat, baring her teeth. He holds his breath, and waits.
- The female crouches down, and holds out a paw, making a soft noise, and Pinestar recalls the noise: she made the same sound to Shanty, like an invitation to come closer. He takes a step closer, knowing they won't hurt him, and remembers how nervous he had been the first time they touched his fur. Now he doesn't feel brave, but trusting, relieved, and full of memories of Shanty. To him, it is as if his friend is beside him, purring into his ear, that she knows the red-brown tom will become friends with her Twolegs. He stays still as the female strokes his ears, and compares her paw to Jake's Twoleg's paw, noting that it is softer, and tickles him. She makes another sound, and Pinestar, fascinated, shuffles closer, allowing her to smooth his back fur and brush the leaves out from his pelt.
- The male Twoleg joins her, and crouches low, but he is still huge to Pinestar, who tries not to back away. He reaches out for the tom, and he is gentle, though his paw is heavier. He rubs his head against the male's paw, his scent mingling with the Twoleg's musky smell. The female straightens up, and beckons Pinestar with a paw, and he knows she wants him to follow her, and he isn't afraid. Shanty loved them, and trusted them as well. But she isn't here, and Pinestar misses his friend so much that he can barely breath. The Twoleg enters the den, once again beckoning to him, but Pinestar doesn't follow. He stands in the entrance, trembling. He feels as though entering the nest is more dangerous than facing an enemy warrior, or fighting against a badger, or a fox.
- His eyes adjust to the light, and he is able to make out the insides. There's a white-walled space; it's smaller than the outside suggests. The floor looks hard and shiny, which reminds Pinestar of ice. Carefully, he places his paw on it, and the ground isn't as slippery as it looks, and he pads inside the den. The Twoleg is crouching down, pointing to something, but Pinestar isn't able to concentrate. Everything around him brings back memories of Shanty: her food bowl, the toys she played with, and a feeling of the she-cat is strong beside him. Pinestar knows that he isn't alone, and never will be. He walks across the floor, and sniffs at a lumpy, soft pelt the Twoleg is pointing to. The reddish-brown tom is able to recognize Shanty's nest, from the shape and smell, and feels a pang in his stomach. It's his nest now, but only if he wants it, and Pinestar knows he does. He climbs into the soft nest, and curls up in it, and the female Twoleg bares her teeth at him again, making a happy noise, like a purr.
- The male Twoleg appears, rumbling something in a pleased way, and bends down to pat Pinestar's head. As the male pets the tom, it almost makes his teeth rattle, and he remarks that Twolegs are strong. The female stands up, and puts something into the food bowl, and Pinestar peers at it. The food isn't like Jake's pellets, but chunks of meat, and he realizes his stomach is growling. It reminds him of the elders, since they don't catch their own food, but then asks if it matters. Pinestar takes a mouthful of the meat; it's juicier and tastier than any prey he had in leaf-bare, and he cleans out the bowl. The two Twolegs purr at him, but Pinestar feels restless now that his stomach is full. He steps out of the nest, crosses the den, and heads outside.
- As he looks back, he sees the Twolegs staring at him anxiously. Pinestar promises he'll come back, and feels a glow of warmth spread through him at the knowledge of them waiting for his return. He wonders how warriors can despise the life of a kittypet, because it's all they want for their kits and elders. He trots across the yard, and hops over a low wall, and spots Jake sunning himself. The orange kittypet blinks in surprise when he spots the red-brown tom. Jake greets him, admitting he didn't think Pinestar would return, but before he can finish, his voice trails off. Pinestar nods, telling the kittypet he isn't sure either, but he also knows he can do good for Shanty's housefolk, even more than his former Clan.
- Jake flicks his tail, asking if he left ThunderClan, and Pinestar confirms his question. The tom feels like he made it real, and Jake's expression is impressed as he questions if he'd leave that behind for Shanty's Twolegs. Pinestar murmurs that he really would, and his friend's gaze softens. He asks if he'd like to go meet some other kittypets, like Quince. The reddish-brown tom declines the offer, telling Jake that he should return to his housefolk. Then, he adds his name is just Pine, not Pinestar anymore. His kittypet friend twitches his ears, but before he turns to leave, welcomes Pine home, calling him by his new name.
Notes and references
|Pinestar's Choice chapters|
|Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10|
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