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The Cheating Flu


by itsokjake

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The Water Faerie hummed to herself as she ran her fingers through her long blonde hair. She glanced around with a small smile on her face, admiring all of Faerieland from her spot in the healing fountain. Today was shaping up to be a pretty slow day. As much as she enjoyed helping others, she also enjoyed her time to herself. She gave a small sigh, closing her eyes and relaxing for a moment. When she opened them, she spotted a young Tuskaninny with a pink mohawk and a pierced tail standing near the springs, awkwardly fidgeting with his flippers. “Oh, hello there. What can I do for you?” The faerie tilted her head.

     “Hiya...” The Tuskaninny kept his glance to the ground. He seemed to be intimidated by her. “My name’s Timmy and I uhh...I need some help.”

     “Oh, of course. That’s what I’m here for.” She smiled, offering him a hand. He glanced up, and shakily took her hand, joining her in the water. “What seems to be the problem?”

     “‘I’m sick...” He sniffled, sinking into the water. “Me and my friends were playing cards together yesterday and...I just started coughing and sneezing...I felt awful.” He added with a small cough.

     “Oh dear...I think you might have NeoFlu.” She looked him up and down with a frown on her face. “Well...we have to take care of that right away. I have just the potion for that.” She smiled, swimming to the side of the spring to go through her collection of potions.

     “Thank you…” Timmy sniffled again. “Me and my friends are playing cards again tonight, I was so worried that I would have to stay home. I’m just starting to get good at the game and all…”

     “You play cards with your friends a lot?” The faerie made small talk as she continued to search for her Neoflu potion, squinting with concern. It had to be around here somewhere, she thought to herself.

     “Almost every night." Timmy nodded. “I really don’t have a lotta friends outside the people I play Cheat with...they’re super cool.” He gave a small smile. “Tonight’s game is real important too...I might even win a few neopoints out of it.”

     “That sounds like a lot of fun!” She smiled. “Let’s get you healed up so you can go play with your friends, I have the potion right...oh.” She blinked, glancing at her last neoflu potion, which had been knocked over and spilt onto the ground. There wasn’t a single drop lift. “Oh dear…”

     “What’s wrong?” He glanced her way, trying to get a peek at what she was doing.

     “Well...I guess I don’t have any neoflu potions left. But...I can give you something to make you feel a little better!” She smiled, picking up a different potion and swimming over to him. “Now, Timmy...this potion isn’t going to cure your neoflu, it’ll just make you feel less sick. You’re still contagious.”

     “Con...tag...ious?” He tilted his head.

     “That means you can still get other people sick.” She handed him the potion, then put her hand on his shoulder. “You need to stay at home, okay? I’ll have that potion for you tomorrow.”

     “So...I can’t go play cards with my friends?” He frowned, giving her a pitiful look.

     “No...you might get them sick. You need to stay home. Can you promise me you’ll stay home?”

     “...Okay.” Timmy looked over his shoulder, giving her a slow nod. “...Promise.” He muttered.

     “Good.” The faerie smiled as Timmy crawled out of the water. After he left, she returned to combing through her hair, humming to herself.

     Aside from making the potion for Timmy, she had nothing to worry about. It had been a slow day, and she was going to enjoy her relaxation.

      The next morning, the Water Faerie arranged her potions, setting aside the one neoflu potion she made for Timmy. She yawned, stretching her arms. She had been awake fairly early to ensure she had enough potions for the days. Just because yesterday was slow didn’t mean she could slack. Sick and injured neopets still needed her, and she had to be there for them.

     She turned around and spotted Timmy approaching the healing spring, accompanied by an unfamiliar Kyrii. “Oh, hello Timmy, I have your potion ready for you!” The faerie smiled. “Who’s this with you? A family member?” She tilted her head.

     “Yeah, uhh…” Timmy glanced to the side, rubbing the back of his neck. “About that...this is Capara, my friend from card night…”

     “Look, we’re gonna need two of them potions, kay doll?” Capara spoke up, much more blunt than Timmy was.

     “Timmy...did you go out with your friends even though I told you not to? You promised.” The faerie frowned, giving Timmy a disappointed look. Timmy looked down, guilt visible on his face.

     “Look, don’t blame the kid, it’s Branson’s fault for pressuring him into coming anyway. He just wanted to be part of the gang.” She pat Timmy on the shoulder. “Kid didn’t tell us it was the flu because he didn’t want us to worry about him...it’s an honest mistake.”

     “Timmy, you lied…” The faerie shook her head.

     “I know, I’m sorry!” He looked up at her with tears in his eyes. Seeing that Timmy was truly sorry, the faerie just sighed, deciding not to push him any further.

     “Alright, well...I assume you’re sick as well.” She gestured to Capara. “...Who’s this Branston? Do you know if he’s symptomatic?” She made her way over to her potions.

     “He’s an Eyrie. Real egotistical so-and-so...he goes out dancing and whatnot.” Capara gave a vague gesture with her hand. “No clue if he’s sick...I’ve been coughin’ all morning though. If you got any miracle cures for that I’d be real appreciative.”

     “Well, the problem is that I don’t. These potions are hard to make...I only have enough for Timmy. I might be able to give you something to help with your symptoms but my magic can only do so much...you’re going to have to stay inside until tomorrow. Tell Branston to do the same if he starts to feel sick.”

     “What? But we got a game tonight, there’s no way I’m missing it, Branstons already scammed me outta 300 neopoints and I gotta get some payback.” Capara scoffed, crossing her arms. “Unbelievable…”

     “I don’t want anybody else getting sick. Just...promise me you’ll stay home, alright? I can only make so many potions in a day, just...please?” The faerie tilted her head.

     “Yeah...alright.” Capara rolled her eyes. “Sure.”

     “Thank you…” The faerie sighed as the two walked away. As soon as they were out of her sight, she swam over to her potions and got to working on more. Her magic could only do so much, she had a hard enough time providing for every other sick or injured pet in Neopia...she couldn’t take a NeoFlu outbreak on top of this. They just had to listen to her. They just had to.

     The next morning, The Water Faerie rubbed her eyes, struggling to stay awake. She had managed to craft two neoflu potions. She didn’t want to doubt Timmy, he seemed genuinely sorry for what she did...but she didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. It took a lot out of her...but it would be worth it if she stopped a potential neoflu outbreak. She kept an eye out for any sick or injured neopets coming her way when she noticed Timmy and Capara headed her way, accompanied by an Eyrie...presumably their friend Branston.

     “Oh no…” She muttered to herself, taking a stiff inhale to wake herself up a little bit more. “Hello there, how are you-”

     “It’s Branston’s fault!” Timmy immediately shouted...well, attempted to. His voice was hoarse...it seemed as though he was sick again.

     “My fault? Why you little...Timmy was the one whining about how much he 'missed us' and how he didn’t have any other friends to hang out with.” Branston scoffed.

     “You were the one who wanted him to come! "You kept talking about how easy it is to cheat money out of him!” Capara shouted back with a cough.

     “And YOU only wanted us to play again because you lost so much money last time.” Branston scoffed. “And-and-a-achoo!” He sneezed.

     “Settle down! Settle down!” The water faerie sighed. “Wait...so you all have neoflu now? Capara, I gave you a healing potion, why are you still sick?”

     “I gambled it away...to Kalora.” Capara sighed.

     “Who’s Kalora?” The faerie furrowed her brow.

     “She’s a Kau who was only in Neopia Central for Branston’s little Cheat tournament. In my defense, if she has it now...she won’t spread it to anyone back home. I did somethin’ good.” Capara huffed, seemingly proud of herself.

     “Wait...Cheat tournament? How many people were there?” The faerie gasped.

     “Uhh...nine...I think.” Timmy sighed. “Sorry, I...I didn’t want to tell you, everyone was so excited to be there.”

     “Was this card game really so important to you that you had to break the rules and potentially get everyone sick to be there?” The faerie crossed her arms.

     “Uhh...yeah.” Timmy replied.

     “Yeah pretty much.” Capara shrugged.

     “Absolutely.” Branston nodded.

     “Wait...I just...I need a moment to think…” The faerie sighed. “You said Branston hosted this...does that mean that Branston has a way of getting back into contact with everyone who was there?”

     “Naturally.” Branston held his head up high. “I was the most important person there, after all, I’d think I could keep tabs on everybody.”

     “Branston, I thought Spectre was the most important person there…” Timmy interjected.

     “Meh. Details.” Branston rolled his eyes.

     “We can’t have these people spreading the neoflu all around Neopia...I can barely handle the nine of you, I don’t know what I’d do if this got any bigger.” The Water Faerie anxiously twirled a finger through her hair. “We have to do something…”

     “I’m sorry, Water Faerie...it’s just...Cheat’s one of the most important things in the world to me...to all of us.” Timmy sighed.

     “...Wait…” The Faerie paused. “I think I might actually have a solution. Get a hold of everyone who was at the tournament and have them wait here.”

      After doing as they were told, Timmy, Capara, and Branston waited near the healing spring. Timmy awkwardly fidgeted with his flippers while Capara touched up her makeup with a compact mirror and Branston idly fiddled with his chain. Soon enough, the other members of the Cheat club started to arrive.

     “What’s the big idea?” Chuffer Bob made his way over, cookie crumbs adorning his face.

     “Yeah, like, are we going to get healed or what? I have better things to do than stand around Faerieland all day.” Princess Fernypoo added.

     “I’d hate to agree with these rabble rousers, but if I stand around in the open any longer, I may very well blow my cover.” Agent 00 Hog chimed in, suspiciously glancing back and forth.

     “Everyone...everyone...settle down.” The Water Faerie spoke over the crowd to the best of her ability. “Now...I won’t be able to heal everyone right away…” As she said that, the crowd began to complain louder. “But...BUT...listen! I have a solution in the meantime. I’m handing you off to my friend...she’ll take care of you from here.” She gestured to an Earth faerie standing nearby.

     “Who’s she?” Branston asked.

     “Oh! I’m Brenda the Real Estate Faerie!” She grinned, giving the crowd a twiddly little wave. “I’m here to take you someplace special on behalf of the Water Faerie.”

     “I would take you myself, but…” The Water Faerie gestured to her tail.

     “If you all will just come with me, I have someplace to show you.” The earth faerie smiled, and gestured for the crowd to follow her. They made their way towards a Faerieland home near the healing spring. The faerie opened the door and led them into a large rec room with a table in the middle. At the table was a few decks of cards, and hanging overhead was a hastily put together banner that read “CHEAT TOURNAMENT 2.0”

     “You guys are going to need to stay here for a while, until The Water Faerie is able to take care of all of you. But, until then...you’re welcome to play Cheat for as long as you’d like. You can summon me at any time for whatever you need. I know this isn’t ideal, but The Water Faerie and I will do everything in our power to keep you comfortable until you’re all cured.”

     “Woah...so we just get to play Cheat all day until we’re not sick anymore?” Timmy looked around, wide-eyed. “That’s so cool!”

     “Well shoot, it’s not ideal but…” Capara looked over to Timmy, who was already eagerly dealing out cards. “...At least the kid’s happy. Let’s play some Cheat.” She smiled, sitting down at the table.

     One by one, the other members of the Cheat club sat down for a night of cards. Soon enough, The Water Faerie was able to heal each and every one of them without a neoflu epidemic breaking out. After a week and a half of hard work, The Water Faerie sighed, finally enjoying one more quiet, slow day. She basked in the sun, smiling to herself, knowing she had done a good job.

     “Hey uhh, healing faerie?” She heard a familiar voice, peering one eye open to see Timmy Tuskaninny once more.

     “...Yes Timmy?” She quirked her head.

     “So, um...I think I might have sneezles."

      The End.

 
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