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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 51 > Continuing Series > Needed: Part Six

Needed: Part Six

by tdyans

DANTAM THOUGHT THAT he had done every assignment there was until Cap pulled him aside one late afternoon when Feruli's team had gotten back early from their scavenging duties. "I've got a job for you, Dantam," the old Skeith said, and Dantam followed him expectantly as he walked away from where the others, who were playing a game of hide and seek. Cap led him to a little cart that was stored away amidst the piles of garbage and had a large cauldron in the back of it. Dantam obediently allowed himself to be harnessed to the cart, used by now to Cap's occasional cryptic ways and confident that he would explain everything in due time.

     As he and Cap were about to leave the junkyard, Feruli wandered away from the others to come after them. "Cap, you know I can do this," the Eyrie said.

     "Yes, I know you can, my boy," Cap said in a placating voice, "But Dantam and I will take care of soup duty tonight." Feruli hesitated, but eventually he nodded his head with a sigh and went back into the junkyard, allowing Cap and Dantam to continue on.

     "He worries about me," Cap said to Dantam as they traveled along the street, Dantam towing the cart behind him. "He was the first young Neopet that I took in, you know." Dantam shook his head and the old Skeith continued, falling into his familiar storytelling mode. "His old owner used to fight him mercilessly in the Battledome. I've no doubt he was quite good, but there's a limit even to what a skilled fighter can take, and he was fighting against pets far stronger than himself. He was finally beaten when his challenger tore his wings to shreds, and his owner couldn't be bothered to pay pharmacy expenses or even take a trip to the Healing Springs for the sake of a Neopet who had failed him. Instead, his wings passed the point of any healing and his owner abandoned him to fend for himself. He was still a young Eyrie, as toughened as he was by his owner's treatment and life on the street, when I found him one night, trying to fend off a gang of bullies to no avail. I chased the others off and somehow he and I never ended up parting ways. It was fate I suppose, and I've had numerous similar run-ins with fate over the years, until my 'family' has grown to what it is now."

     As he finished his tale, Cap smiled fondly at the thought of his 'children' back at the junkyard. He looked over at Dantam and spoke again, "They've all got stories much like that one of how they came to be on the streets. But you Dantam, you are different." When Dantam gave him a confused look, he added, "Your owner loved you."

     Dantam's mood changed instantly. "If she loved me so much, then why did she leave me?" he asked angrily, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. He sighed and bowed his head sadly toward the ground. "I needed her."

     "Maybe she wanted to give you a chance to find someone who needed you."

     "What's that supposed to mean?"

     Cap just shook his head and smiled. "Someday you'll understand my boy, someday. For now all you need to know is that sometimes things happen that even love cannot overcome. That doesn't mean the love is any less."

     A few minutes of silence passed between them before Cap spoke again. "I was like you, Dantam. My owner's name was Sam, and he really did love me. I know that in my heart, even though one day he just stopped coming to Neopia. I don't know why. Whatever it was, I know it must have been difficult for him to leave, and I try simply to cherish the time that we had." Dantam looked over into the old Skeith's eyes, but quickly turned away again, and Cap continued, "I stayed in my empty NeoHome for a few days, feeling sorry for myself, and then I truly realised that he wasn't coming back, so I left. That's when I found Feruli and took him under my paw. I found someone else who needed me as much as I had needed Sam, and it took away a part of my pain. With each new Neopet who needs me, I lose a little more of the hurt that I felt, and I realise more and more that I really was loved."

     Just then, a strange-looking building in the shape of a cauldron came into their vision. "Is that where we're going-- the Soup Kitchen?" Dantam asked, and Cap nodded, smiling. "I've never been there before." Cap led him up to the wooden door and scratched on it with his long green claws.

     A woman answered the door. She had straight brown hair and plain clothes, but a simple beauty accentuated by the two golden wings sprouting from her back. "Cap!" she exclaimed as she looked down and spotted her two visitors. She bent down to hug the old Skeith and then ushered them both inside. "Who's your new friend?" she asked as she unharnessed Dantam from the cart and waved him over to a chair in the corner of her cozy home.

     "This is Dantam," Cap answered. "He's been with us for about a month now. I thought I'd let him in on our little arrangement." The Soup Faerie nodded and sat on an old, worn couch across from Dantam. Dantam watched as Cap clambered up onto the couch after her and the heavy Skeith settled in her lap. A contented look settled over Cap's craggy features as the Soup Faerie began stroking his scaly head, and when Dantam looked up, he saw that the Skeith's contentment was mirrored in her own face.

     The Soup Faerie continued to pet Cap, whose eyes were now closed as if in sleep, as she spoke to Dantam. "Cap first came to me years ago, looking for help... I'm not supposed to give my soup to pets who don't have owners, but how could I just turn him and all of the sweet pets that he cares for away? As needy as the pets are whose owners are poor, they are not the most unfortunate ones in Neopia, after all. They do have someone who loves them."

     "We have each other at least," Dantam interrupted her. He meant what he said; he'd already come to think of the other junkyard pets as a family, and he was proud to be a part of it. But at the same time, Cap's knowing look and the happiness that radiated between him and the Soup Faerie when they were together brought up memories of a similar happiness that clogged Dantam's throat with tears and kept him from saying any more.

     The Soup Faerie nodded and smiled benevolently at him. "Yes, you do have each other... and now every month since I first met Cap I give him all the leftover soup that I have. It's not much really, but it's warm and filling, and there's plenty for all. I hope you'll like it." Still unable to quite form words, Dantam just nodded his certainty that he would.

     They stayed in the Soup Faerie's home and talked amiably for hours. Dantam often found himself simply listening to the conversation between Cap and the faerie, but he didn't mind. Part of him enjoyed watching the ease and affection that passed between the two of them. Finally, noticing that the sun was beginning to set, Cap reluctantly noted that they ought to leave and pulled himself away from the Soup Faerie's arms. The Soup Faerie agreed sadly, poured her soup into the cauldron that Dantam and Cap had brought, and helped to harness Dantam to the cart again so that he could bring the soup home. At the doorway, she patted Dantam fondly and then hugged Cap goodbye, making him promise to come back soon.

     "Cap?" Dantam questioned as they walked slowly down the streets that were tinted rose by the setting sun.

     "Yes, Dantam?"

     "You and the Soup Faerie... you seem very close," Dantam ventured. "I bet that she would adopt you, if you asked her to."

     "Yes, she would," Cap replied, turning his head to smile at the Gelert. "You're a very observant fellow, Dantam. That will come in handy someday."

     Dantam waited through a few minutes of silence before he spoke again. "But Cap, if you can have a home, an owner... then why don't you?"

     By now they had crested a small hill just outside of the junkyard. Cap stopped there, and Dantam followed his line of vision to notice that they could see the other homeless Neopets still playing in their encampment in the centre of the junkyard. Cap looked over at Dantam and nodded down at the pets down below. "Because they need me, Dantam... they need me."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Needed: Part One

Needed: Part Two

Needed: Part Three

Needed: Part Four

Needed: Part Five

Needed: Part Seven

Needed: Part Eight

Needed: Part Nine

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