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An Almost-Tragedy

by frerybairn


Author's note: This is my first story as a Neo-owner. It is dedicated to my Quiggle Quirkiebus, who I actually did try to abandon early in his life. I hope I have represented him well as a character, and as my little Neofriend, and would appreciate any comments you have to give. Quirkie... I'm sorry if my posting this embarrasses you!

There was an intense, dark silence while they walked: two figures in a chilly December Neopian evening. The one was a with her wavy-wiggled hair blowing every which-a-way around her head, and holding closed a dim-colored jacket that never would zip. Her face was set in a hard, stubborn line-and her eyes were fighting back equally stubborn tears. She was The Owner, Frerybairn: and her companion the pet, a very sad bright-green Quiggle less than an hour old. He clung to her coat-sleeve incessantly, sometimes wiping his nose on it as he sobbed. She didn't correct him. He was only a baby--and he had good reason. They were on their way home from the pound.

     "You wouldn't really have left me there, wouldja, Alin?"

     He looked up at her with his big, wet froggy-eyes just barely peering over her elbow.

     "You couldn't have. You can't even be tired of me... I just hatched today! ...Was it something I did, Alin?"

     The little Quiggle burst out in a renewed storm of tears. Alin kept her silence--what could you say to a pet you had just tried to abandon? A cute little pet, who was even now clinging to you hysterically?

     And why hadn't she gone through with it?

     "Too young," the old Techo at the front desk had said. "Can't abandon 'em at that age, Missie. Can't until they're at least seven days old. It's the law."

     Then he had turned back to paperwork on his desk.

     "What's the world coming to these days..."

     He muttered something else under his breath she couldn't hear, and her face burned as she turned away, half-carrying her pet. It was obvious what he thought of her--that she was one of 'those' owners who have rock-hard hearts and don't care about anything. It made her feel like a monster... even though she wasn't. She just didn't have the time or Neopoints to take care of a pet--but how was the pet in question supposed to understand that? She sighed deeply as they arrived at the little plot of land she'd bought on Bread Street, and settled down beside some scrub-bushes. She hadn't even earned the money for a room yet, much less a whole house to keep pets in comfortably... What did she think she was doing, thinking of bringing up a Quiggle, when she adopted him?

     Just then, a familiar face walked up the street. It was Gryphani's brother, with his shock of hair showing freely and his coat-hood thrown far away from his face.

     "No restraints for that Neopian while he enjoys a good walk," she thought, and almost grinned.

     He turned into her lot, and flopped onto his elbows in the grass beside her. He looked around curiously.

     "Nice... place that you've got here, Alin. I'm sure it'll look great when there's something on it."

     She rolled her eyes and gave another of her infamous sighs, then he looked at her face--and her Neopet's face. He became very serious.

     "Alin, do we need to talk?" he asked.

     She nodded.

     "Maybe we'd better take a walk while we do it."

     She looked at her pet, who sat there with his eyes red-rimmed, sucking on his thumb.

     "Can you stay here, Quirkie? Can you?"

     He just stared at her in silence.

     "I'll take that for a yes. Just don't... yeah, whatever. C'mon, Gryph."

     He took another pitying glance back at the pet, and waited until they were a few houses away to speak again.

     "So... who's the new Quiggle, and why are you both so upset?"

     She took a deep breath.

     "His name is Quirkiebus, and I'm going to have to abandon him."

     Gryph looked at her unbelievingly.

     "Abandon him? Why? I don't get it."

     Alin shrugged awkwardly.

     "He... he's a nice pet, but I really don't have the points or time to take care of him."

     Somehow it sounded pretty lame coming out of her mouth. She tried again.

     "You know, I can't really give him a life like this. All I have is mebbe a hundred points, and you've seen my plot--don't you think he'd be better off with another owner? A rich one? One who could really give him a life? Mebbe he would even have siblings... be normal. I can't possibly take care of him, but at the same time..."

     Gryph shook his head.

     "My plot wasn't so much more when our Gryphani, Shimizu, disappeared and left it to me... just a bunch of grass and a couple cardboard boxes. But I know I've done fine with my pets even with that beginning."

     Alin changed the subject.

     "Speaking of Gryphani, have you heard anything more from her?"

     He shook his head again.

     "Nothing but what I heard from her before. It definitely keeps me wondering. But something she talked about keeps running through my head..."

     She looked at him quizzically.

     "The night before she... went, she was talking about how much she misses Kragn, who used to be her Eyrie. She abandoned him because she couldn't take care of him any more, like you're trying to do with Quirkiebus... and she regretted it ever afterwards. She'd lost her money on stocks or something, and could barely feed herself--but she still wished she'd kept him. I heard yesterday that his new owner took him to the Secret Lab, and who knows what he's turned into by now... Besides that, some pets who go into that place never even get another owner."

     He paused.

     "Alin MacDonald, no matter what you may think, you are the best owner that Quiggle can have. He's alive right now because you hatched him. And what's more, I could see it in his face that he really does care about you."

     She raised her eyebrow, amazed.

     "Even after what I tried to do this evening?"

     "Even after what you tried to do. That Quiggle loves you, and he wouldn't be separated from you for the world... what's more, if and when you have to go away for whatever reason, I'll feed him for you. If you keep him around, that is."

     There was a violent rustling of bushes in the yard beside them, and a little green cannonball bounced out and attacked Gryph. At least, that was what it looked like until it started talking...

     "Oh, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you Mr. Gryph! Yes! Yee-ha! You're a GREAT friend!"

     Quirkiebus paused for a moment in his bouncy-happy rampage to look anxiously at Alin.

     "Um... this does mean I get to stick around, doesn't it?"

     The brief, complete silence before she spoke seemed like a year to the little Quiggle. Then she smiled broadly, squatted down to his eye level and held out her arms for him.

     "Of course it does."

     He yelled in delight, and tackled her with what was probably the biggest hug one Quiggle had ever given his owner in the history of Neopia.

     "I love you!"

     "I love you too, Quirkie," she murmured from beneath where his tear-wet little self was smothering her.

     ...Then she gratefully hugged him back.

The End

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