A New Start
I shivered. How long had it been since I had felt the warmth of a fireplace, or had food in my stomach? Who knows. I trudged on through the muddy streets of Neopia Central, my Lupe pelt soaked through to the roots, until I came to a stop outside a giant mansion. I stared longingly at the pets in there, playing with their owner, snug as a petpetpet and stuffed with luxurious food.
I shook myself and continued on, unsure of exactly where I was going. I came across a small shack and, curious, wiped away some of the condensation that had formed on the windows. I winced when I saw a small, timid Lupe getting abused by it's owner; it reminded me so much of myself. I quietly moved on and found myself at the front step of another small, cardboard, one-room neohome.
My heart lurched when I saw a tiny little bundle shivering on the dirty rug and it's owner trying to comfort it. The owner, whom I noticed was a girl, grabbed a small handful of neopoints and ran out the door and down the road. The door slammed closed but it bounced open again letting in a cold blast, causing the bundle to shiver and huddle tighter.
I couldn't just stand there, so I went and closed the door, before I realized that the rusty lock had broken and the door wouldn't stay closed. I tried again and again to get it to close but to no avail. Eventually I gave up and walked away before a pitiful wail came to my ears. I spun around and ran into the neohome, ready to fight whatever pant devil or anything that was causing this unholy noise to come from the bundle of fur.
But there was nothing. Nothing except a tiny Xweetok holding her head. I stared at her, confused, for a moment before I realized that the Xweetok was the little bundle she had seen. She moaned in pain. My heart fell. Out of all the things I was prepared to face for her, a migraine was not one of them. I looked around to see if there was something to help her. There wasn't any.
I picked her up and put my paw to her forehead, causing her to look up at me suspiciously - having noticed me for the first time.
"Ugga?" she asked and I realized that she was ill with Ugga Ugga, which explained why her owner ran off with the neopoints: to try and get a cure. I put her down and looked through the small pile of food in the corner. It was quite obvious that they were very poor, almost all of the food was rotten. Eventually I found some burnt pirate crisps, it would have to do.
Forgetting my own hunger, I tried to coax her into eating them. "It'll be good for you." Eventually she gave in and munched on the crisps. Relieved, I picked up a dirty towel in another corner and scrubbed it in the rain, doing the rug next. After laying them on the floor to dry, I propped a rotting stool against the door; strong enough to keep it closed but it would give quite easily if the Xweetok's owner came back.
I wrung out the towel and shook it to help it dry faster. Figuring it was dry enough I picked up the Xweetok and brought outside to wash her. She squirmed a little when the cold rain hit her but calmed down after a minute or two and let me scrub her. After drying her off, I put her on the rug, after checking that it was dry, and gave her a few more crisps. I hummed a tune I remembered hearing from somewhere as I nuzzled the little Xweetok, who giggled before yawning and sleepily closing her eyes. Seeing as my work was done, I ended my song and tiptoed out the door. But as soon as I was out the door, she started wailing.
"Uugggaaaaahhhhh!!!" I winced. A wail was painful, hearing a neopet with Ugga Ugga talk was also painful, but hearing a neopet with Ugga Ugga wail? Ouch. I ran back in and tried to soothe the crying Xweetok. Luckily, I didn't have to try very hard. As soon as I was next to her she stopped and hugged my leg. As touched as I was by this display of affection, I knew I couldn't stay here forever. I figured a little while long couldn't hurt. I settled down next to her and pulled her next to me. I put my chin on her head in a protective instinct I didn't know I had.
~A few hours later~
I woke up with a jerk, unaware that I had fallen asleep. I looked around, panicked, my feral instincts kicking in. My eyes fell upon the little Xweetok curled up under me and I calmed down. I was just about to lie down again when I heard the door creak open. My ears swiveled around and I jumped up snarling, waking the Xweetok in the process. The intruder screeched and I realized it was the Xweetok's owner. I paused and sat down. She looked at me nervously, her eye twitching.
"What are you doing here?" she asked shakily, still weary of me. I looked at her, slightly hurt. I was only trying to help.
But the little Xweetok jumped in before I had a chance to respond. "Ugga!" She hugged my leg and held on tight.
"Lea! Are you ok?" The girl reached out for the Xweetok, at which the Xweetok slowly let go, and held her close. Lea, I thought to myself, So that is her name. Lea's owner looked at her, then me, then back to her again, trying to piece together what happened.
Eventually she gave up and shook her head, turning her attention back to Lea, "It was expensive, but I managed to get you the cure." She held out a flask of cooling ointment and tilted Lea's head back, pouring it into her mouth. Lea coughed violently for minute before she gasped and started breathing deeply.
She looked up and tilted her head to the side, "Am I better?" Both her owner and I grinned and nodded. She stared at us blankly for minute before she broke into a grin.
"I-I'm well! I'm well, I'm well, I'm well!" Lea started bouncing around and pulled us both into a hug, "Oh, I can finally talk again! I can talk! Oh, Mama, this nice Lupe came in after you left and took care of me, he washed me and fed me and hummed to me and kept me warm and-!" She continued talking really rapidly and hugged my leg.
"It... really wasn't much..." I must have looked like a red Lupe instead of a yellow one, I was blushing so much, and pawed the ground.
Lea's owner smiled and put her hand on my back, "Well, thank you for 'not much'. I really appreciate it, and it's quite clear that Lea feels the same way. My name's Rose, you should probably be getting back to your owner, they must be worried." I looked away.
"I'm Coa, I-I don't have an owner..."
"You don't have an owner?!" I glanced up and saw Lea staring at me incredulously, "Someone as amazing as you doesn't have an owner!?
"Well, we can change that if you want." I turned my head over to Rose who smiled at me, "Would you like for me to adopt you?" I stared at her for minute, uncomprehending, before I gulped and stumbled out a reply, unsure of what to say.
"I... don't know what to say..."
"Yes." I blinked and saw Lea in front of me, staring at me with a firm yet pleasing look. "Yes, that's the only thing to say. You took care of me when mama couldn't, even though I wasn't that easy to work with, you kept trying. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have as my brother." I stared at her for a moment, shocked, before I smiled and pulled her into a hug.
I turned to Rose, who was looking at me expectantly, and pulled her in too. "Yes, I think I'd like that." I grinned. Maybe it's time to start anew.