Snatched: The Story of Snowkit

Snowkit was always assumed dead by ThunderClan. But what if he wasn't? What if StarClan took him away from the Clan that would have never given him a chance? What if he had a greater destiny than anyone in ThunderClan could have believed?


25. ThunderClan

Snowpaw nearly fell over from the realization. Who knew how close they might be to his home? He could find ThunderClan again, see his mother again, see how Big and Ginger had grown, and maybe find out their real names. He could see the gray she-cat with the limp who had taken care of him before, and the two ginger toms who had watched for him. He could finally be with his family!

"What is it?" Lightning asked, resting his tail on Snowpaw's flank. "Something wrong?"

Snowpaw glanced at Lightning. "No," he said, and it was true; nothing was wrong. This was an opportunity for him to reconnect with his birth Clan! "I just…thought I smelled something." He wasn't sure why he lied, only that he knew the truth about his thoughts might upset Lightning. Lightning scented the air, and then shrugged.

"You're the one with the better nose," he said with a glance around.

The kit was making strange motions again, and Lightning and Snowpaw followed her, expecting to find more toys or something else strange. Instead, she led them to a door that appeared to be made of glass. Using all of her strength – she was still a kit, and therefore weak by Twoleg standards, although she was like a god to the cats – she pushed the door open. Lightning and Snowpaw shared an excited glance; there was a small yard and a fence, but the fence was small enough for them to leap onto. They could make their escape!

Lightning and Snowpaw both lunged for the door, only to find the queen in their way. The queen closed the door easily with one hand. Her other hand pointed outside and she seemed to be scolding the kit, for the kit had a sulky look on her face. Pouting, the kit reached down and scooped up Snowpaw. Clutching him in her grasp, she headed for a different room. This one was colored bright pink, with a huge nest in the middle and strange soft creatures that almost looked like animals, but weren't quite. She flopped down on the bed, still hugging Snowpaw tightly. He suffered it for as long as he could, before wiggling out of her arms, careful to stay close in case she decided she had to capture him again; it was easier for her heavy hand to pet him and for her to think she still controlled him, than it would be for him to run back to Lightning and be recaptured. Snowpaw rested his chin on the soft nest, while the kit patted his head with one meaty hand.

We need to get out of here, Snowpaw thought. I'm not sure how much of this love I can take.

The kit had a short attention span, and soon Snowpaw was forgotten, left in exchange for some of the soft things, which seemed to be to the kit as moss was to younger cats. She was moving them around, her mouth moving as if she was talking, and Snowpaw realized that she was pretending, like kits pretended to be leaders or warriors back home. He couldn't help but feel a small stirring in his heart; Twoleg kits and real kits weren't that different, it seemed.

Silently, he slipped away, heading back to Lightning, who was sitting near the glass door.

"How do we get them to let us out there?" Snowpaw asked.

"The queen won't do it; we've got everything we need right here," Lightning said, "food, water, a place to make dirt; the works, really. Now, if we could get rid of one of those, she'd have to let us out…."

"We can't really get rid of our food, besides eating it," Snowpaw said, "and she doesn't have a pond, so spilling our water won't work either."

"So it's the dirt box, then," Lightning said, and he gave the air a sniff to remember where it was.

"What can we do with the dirt box?" Snowpaw wondered. "Making a mess in it wouldn't do much, that's what it's for. Spilling some on the floor wouldn't help either…."

"What if we didn't use the dirt box?" Lightning asked. "These two don't seem to know much about cats; I don't think they'll try too hard to train us or break us. If we refuse to use the box, they'll have to let us go somewhere."

Snowpaw's ears flattened. "But that's so…disgusting," he said, revolted by the very idea. Lightning let out a purr.


. . .

It took two days of making dirt on the floor – the room that held their food and water was most effective, since it appeared that the Twolegs got their own sustenance from there as well – until the queen finally gave up. Snowpaw felt a bit bad for the trouble they caused – they once actually made dirt on top of the round wooden thing, only to find out that the Twolegs ate there; the queen burst into tears at the sight – but it was necessary for them to get out. The queen finally opened the glass door. Lightning went outside immediately, but Snowpaw hesitated for a moment. He blinked up at the kit, feeling sorry for her; she had been kind to them, in her own childish way. He gave her a raspy lick on her hand that made her squeal with delight – Twolegs tasted deliciously salty, he noted – before trotting outside with Lightning.

"Ready?" Lightning asked, blinking up at the fence. Snowpaw nodded, after a glance back at the Twoleg nest. Lightning flexed his powerful legs, and then leaped into the air, using his SkyClan blood to get to the top of the fence easily. With another glance back, Snowpaw saw the kit's mouth open in a cry and the queen heading for the door. Without hesitation, Snowpaw used all his might to leap. His front paws hit the fence, but his back paws didn't quite make it. Still weak from his time in captivity, Snowpaw couldn't pull himself up. He could feel himself starting to slip, could almost feel the kit grabbing his tail. Then, he felt strong jaws wrap around his scruff, as Lightning lifted him over the edge.

"Thanks," Snowpaw panted, and his eyes widened as he saw the kit racing towards them with the queen close behind. "Run!"

Snowpaw and Lightning took off along the side of the fence, running as quickly as they could. Snowpaw could feel the kit beating on the fence in desperation and rage that her precious kitties were getting away. This time, he didn't look back, not even when the vibrations faded away.

He and Lightning raced along the fences until they couldn't run any longer.

"We lost them," Snowpaw panted, springing off the fence into a yard and collapsing. Lightning did the same.

"The look on that kit's face," Lightning snorted.

"I feel kind of bad for her," Snowpaw admitted. Lightning shook his head.

"She wasn't old enough to take care of a cat; she and the queen didn't have the first clue," Lightning said. "If they want another, this time I think they'll do the work to make sure it gets done right."

Snowpaw nodded slowly. They, and any other kittypets, would have been miserable at that house. Maybe the kit and queen would learn a thing or to, from their loss.

Once they had recovered a bit, they walked to the front of the Twoleg's yard, and then down the long Thunderpath, which was flanked by nests on both sides. In some ways, it was very similar to Wander's Twolegplace. The smell of the forest, however, was completely different, and it made Snowpaw's pelt crawl with excitement.

"There's a forest near here somewhere," he said. "I can smell it. We should try and find it; from there were might be able to find out just where we are and how to get home."

Lightning nodded slowly. "A good meal wouldn't go astray either," he said. Snowpaw doubted they would find any prey in this clean part of Twolegplace, but he nodded.

They followed the scent of the forest closely, knowing it would guide them to the trees and perhaps the prey. The scent grew gradually stronger in Snowpaw's nose, and he found his pace increasing to meet it. The thought of his home beat relentlessly in his mind, and in his mind he could see images of the cats he so wanted to see: Speckletail, Big, Ginger, the ginger toms, the injured medicine cat. He wanted to see them all and speak to them so much that it hurt. He wanted to show them how he had grown, how he was no longer just a crippled little kit who cried out for his mother as he was stolen. He wanted them to know that they didn't have to mourn or feel like they had done anything wrong, that it was all part of StarClan's plan.

He wanted his mother to know that he loved her.

Snowpaw glanced at Lightning, who had no idea of the thoughts going through his mind. Lightning had no clue that Snowpaw was thinking of deserting him now, after all they'd gone through together; the journey to Twolegplace, the bright-rocks nest, imprisonment, and finally escape from the Twolegs.

Can I do this? Snowpaw wondered. Could I just walk away from Lightning, from Mossflower, from Frostpaw…?

They sprang onto another fence, walking until it met a second fence going the opposite direction. And then they froze, unable to believe that they had finally found it: the forest.

Snowpaw and Lightning sprang down together, racing into the waiting brush. Brambles grabbed onto Snowpaw's fur, and thorns threatened to stab into his soft pads, but he didn't care. He was running, the scents of his birth-home filling his nose, as familiar as the scent of his mother. He opened his mouth, desperate to catch every scent that he could.

"Wait," Lightning said, grabbing Snowpaw's tail. "We can't scare off all the prey."

Snowpaw didn't care about prey or the hunger clawing his belly, but he nodded.

"I don't want to split up to hunt, but I suppose we'll have to," Lightning said slowly. "Your white pelt will stick out like a sore paw and I don't feel like waiting for you to catch your own, so just wait here. I'll be back."

Snowpaw nodded and sat down, quivering with excitement as Lightning disappeared into the brush. He could run away right now if he wanted to, Snowpaw knew, but something made him wait. Perhaps it was the need of having a full belly before he met his Clanmates; after all, they wouldn't recognize him by sight or scent. His back was scarred now, he knew, and he probably had other wounds from things he didn't remember, not to mention his old scent had probably all but faded, since he lived in close contact with so many other cats.

Lightning returned some time later, a rabbit clutched in his jaws. He sat down beside Snowpaw, and the two of them began eating the rabbit together.

"There's some sort of border in this forest," Lightning said as they ate, chewing thoughtfully. "I expected that, naturally; territory this rich wouldn't be unclaimed. Still, something about the border seems strange…the scent seems almost familiar."

"Strange," Snowpaw agreed, trying not to give anything away, to unwittingly bring something to light with Lightning's mind. Lightning was quiet again, until the rabbit had disappeared down their gullets.

"Almost familiar," Lightning said again with a frown. "But where could I have smelled it? I don't recognize the territory…on another cat, perhaps? But I've never been to this area, and I don't know why anyone would smell like it, especially since our own home is so far away…unless…." He gazed at Snowpaw, and then his eyes widened. "You! Your scent from the hawk, that's what this is! This is your home!" Lightning stared at Snowpaw, disbelief in his amber eyes. "This is the Clan you came from."

It was no use acting surprised. Snowpaw simply stared at his paws. "Yeah," he said softly. "This is my home."

"Was your home," Lightning said, and then blinked. "Right?"

"Yeah, was," Snowpaw said, and attempted a smile. He wasn't sure he succeeded, but Lightning seemed satisfied, and wasn't that what mattered?

"Interesting, isn't it? Almost like fate," Lightning mused. "I wish you could visit them, but well…it wouldn't be advisable, would it?"

"What?" Snowpaw asked quickly, too quickly, and there was no mistaking the note of anger in his voice. Lightning looked surprised.

"Well of course you can't visit them," Lightning said. "They'd attack you, for one thing; you still carry a bit of your old scent but it's deep, too deep for most cats to notice unless they take the time to, and if you just walk into their camp I think it will be attacking first, asking questions later for them. What if you got hurt? And even if you managed to convince them it was you, imagine what it would do to your mother, to know that you were alive but you weren't staying. What would your Clanmates think, huh? I think it would hurt your mother to lose you a second time, don't you think? You'll see her in StarClan, after all, and I think seeing you then would be the best time; after all, once in StarClan, you aren't going anywhere else. I mean, it isn't like you could stay with the Clan, not now."

Snowpaw's pelt prickled. "Why not?"

Lightning simply stared at Snowpaw blankly. "Because…they're not your Clanmates anymore," he said. "They're not your family, not now. I'm your family. Mossflower, Sorrelkit, Willowkit…we're your family now, right? And our Clan is your Clan."

Snowpaw gazed into the forest. "But what if I didn't want it to be?" he whispered. "What if I wanted to go back?"

Lightning seemed completely bewildered. "But you can't, Snowpaw. We need you here," he said. "I need you. How can we build a Clan without a medicine cat?"

"Use Lightkit," Snowpaw said. "She doesn't have the makings of a warrior, and StarClan's already touched her themselves. Some StarClan cat can just tutor her. And you've got the prophecy; you don't need me to figure it out."

"It isn't just a matter of needing you," Lightning said, and it seemed he was growing angry. "We want you here, Snowpaw! Mossflower loves you. Are you just going to break her heart like that? And what about Sorrelkit and Willowkit? They think of you as their big brother! Fernstep thinks of you as a little nephew or something; without you, she and Stoneclaw might never have gotten together! Lightkit needs someone to show her she isn't alone, that her visions mean something. And Frostpaw…I think we both know she needs you." Lightning's gaze was firm, and with a sinking feeling, Snowpaw realized Lightning knew. Somehow, he knew. Had it been so obvious? How had Lightning known something that Snowpaw had only recently realized?

"Mossflower isn't my mother, and Sorrelkit and Willowkit aren't my sisters," he spat. "You've never accepted me as a son. You ran me off, you remember? You wouldn't even give me a chance! You didn't give me a choice then, whether I wanted to stay or go, and you aren't now! Lightkit can handle her own problems for herself; I had to! And Frostpaw…well, it would never work out with her anyway! I'm supposed to be a medicine cat! We could never…." Snowpaw trailed off, and his shoulders slumped.

"I care about you very much, Snowpaw," Lightning said quietly.

"That's not the point, okay? This is my home, this is where I was born. This is where I was meant to live, not with a bunch of rogues," Snowpaw insisted. "StarClan led me to you, and now they're leading me away for a reason. It can't be coincidence that we came here just as the Clan finally came into being. You only need nine lives, and the Clan is complete, and you don't need my help to find them. You don't need me anymore, Lightning. You didn't give me a choice last time, Lightning. This time, I'm taking it." And with that he ran away, moving as quickly as his tired body could, watching Lightning fade into the brush with a glance over his shoulder. With every pawstep, he was not only racing farther away from Lightning, but from the Clan, from Frostpaw, from all the responsibilities StarClan had thrust upon him. You didn't give me a choice either, not really, he thought. You let me choose whether to go with Fear or Lightning, but you never let me choose whether I wanted to be a stupid medicine cat, whether I wanted to be stolen from my family. Lightning can find you himself; I'm not bothering with you anymore!

And on he went, following the scent of his Clan, of ThunderClan, until the scent seemed to be all that he could smell, as if it was filling up his nose. And then, he recognized it, their little camp hidden by brambles, brush, and gorse. Snowpaw crept forward, and then hesitated. He wanted to see it for himself, first; he wanted to see the Clan as it was before he interrupted them. Silently, he slunk towards the very edge of the camp, peering in through a crack in the brambles. And there he saw them, his Clanmates, going on with their duties as they would any other day. He saw the ginger tom, older and more scarred but still with his pelt of flame, speaking with several other cats in a little group. One of the cats was a pale ginger she-cat, and she seemed to almost rest against him, their tails touching. Snowpaw felt a stab of jealousy; this was something he and Frostpaw would never have.

His gaze swept over the rest of the Clan frantically looking for any other cat he recognized. There was the white queen, Frostfur, looking sadder than ever; the crippled medicine cat was her daughter, Snowpaw knew now, but something else was obviously wrong, weighing on her mind. Had another one of her kits been hurt?

Thinking of kits, Snowpaw hunted for Big and Ginger. There they were, sitting next to their ginger mother. They were so big now! Snowpaw wondered if they were apprentices yet. Surely they were, right? They hadn't been too much younger than him.

And then he saw her, lying in the entrance to the elder's den. Speckletail. She looked old, so much older than he remembered her. His death had aged her beyond her years, and even before that she had been frail; he was to be her last kit, she had told him, and she loved him all the more for it. Snowpaw opened his mouth, as if to call out for her, before his jaws dropped at a ghastly sight. A ginger-and-white she-cat was coming out of the nursery den and settling down to speak with Speckletail. Half of her face was missing, along with an eye and an ear. Snowpaw felt sickened, but Speckletail wasn't bothered; rather, a smile curled her muzzle and she and the half-cat began sharing tongues.

That kit…she was one of them, one of Frostfur's! Snowpaw realized. No wonder she seems so unhappy. Speckletail, on the other paw, seemed pleased to be speaking with the strange cat.

She's treating the half-cat like she would her own kit, Snowpaw realized, and even as he watched, Speckletail seemed to grow a little younger, a little happier as she let out what was probably a raspy purr. Snowpaw's ears flattened.

She doesn't need me, he thought. She's got that cat to care for, to make her feel good. Lightning was right, seeing me now would only bring her more pain. She's gotten closure, she believes she'll see me in StarClan waiting for her. She knows we'll see each other again, and from the look of her, it won't be in very long.

Snowpaw closed his eyes, capturing the image of his mother in his mind. And then, as silently as he had come, he moved away from the camp, padding through the forest without any clue as to where he was going.

StarClan? He thought hesitantly. You didn't bring us here to send me home, did you? No, I know now that wasn't your intention. So why did you bring us here? What am I supposed to do? I can't stay here, nor could I stay with the other Clans. I'll have to find Lightning and apologize, I suppose, although it still feels wrong. And then what? Where do I go? How do I find you?

He sighed quietly, and then lifted his nose to the breeze, straining to scent anything, to find the scent of Lightning.

He could find nothing.

Snowpaw wandered through the forest until the sun dipped down low, and he could do no further. Snowpaw finally curled up in the abandoned den of some long-gone animal, wondering where Lightning could be. Had he tried to go home? Had he tried to find Snowpaw? Or had he just sat there, waiting for Snowpaw to come back?

I'll find him, Snowpaw vowed, tomorrow.

Through the den entrance, he could see the moon, and his heart sank as he saw it was only a few days away from being full. They only had a few days to find StarClan, or they'd have to look for another moon, and what would their Clan do without them for that time? Ruin could have taken over the Clan for all Snowpaw and Lightning knew.

Snowpaw sighed quietly and rested his head on his paws, with the tip of his tail touching his nose.

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