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Goodbye, Friend


by laurensama

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"Kuraiiro, he looks awful."

     "He does NOT, Tahoshi!" The mutant Cybunny huffed defensively, placing a protective paw upon the mutated Uniocto which lied listlessly on the floor. The Christmas Lupe before her furrowed his brow, his eyes darkening as his expression hardened.

     "Look at Fuzzy, Kur! He just SITS there all day! He keeps oozing like mad-well...more than usual..." The Lupe implored, pointing an accusing finger at the petpet sprawled about. Kuraiiro snatched up her petpet as if trying to shield him from Tahoshi's glaring yellow gaze.

      "Well you're one to talk! Look at your petpet!" Kuraiiro snapped, pointing an angrily claw. Tahoshi peered over at his Christmas Doglefox with indifference as the tiny creature ran into the fall at full speed and bounced backwards from the force. Perplexed he looked around for a few seconds before running into the wall again.

     "I don't see anything out of the norm," Tahoshi drawled. Kuraiiro let out a grunt of frustration as she stormed away to her room on the upper floor, slamming her door with an almighty bang. Her thoughts swirled about with rage at her brother. How audacious that Lupe was! Didn't he have any manners! Completely out of line! He was just-just…

     "ARGH!" Kuraiiro screamed, venting a bit of her mental frustration aloud. Her expression quickly softened when she looked down at the doleful Uniocto in her hands, a smile creeping upon her face. Fuzzy peered up at his owner with affection in his eyes. Ever so gently Kuraiiro strolled over to her bed and placed the petpet upon it, not minding in the least bit as Fuzzy's green ooze stained her immaculate Zen patterned sheets. As she smiled at her pet Tahoshi's words bored into her mind. She tried to drown them out, yet quickly realized that when one tries to forget about something, it only helps to reinforce it....

     "Come on Kuraiiro, you gotta set the little guy free!" Tahoshi argued. "He's been just lazing around the house for weeks now, it's just so sad. I mean, it's like...like...he's gonna snuff out any moment." Kuraiiro's stomach wrenched at that thought. Mindlessly her claw stroked the petpet's fuzz while Fuzzy cooed contently at the attention.

     Kuraiiro didn't want to believe everything which Tahoshi had said, yet it was an unavoidable fact, her petpet was indeed looking worse for the wear as time went on. She remembered when she first saw him at the petpet store; he was the friskiest one in the tank (despite the fact that he was the only one in the tank), swirling about with a mischievous smile. Kuraiiro had fallen in love with that smile in an instant, emptying out her entire month's savings for the chance to own him. She wasn't used to such impulsive buys, but this was something completely beyond money or common sense. It was a deep an impenetrable bond between her and her pet.

     It was simply love.

     ...but soon Fuzzy's grin began to droop and drag. He was no longer a Uniocto with a devilish little smile, but a lethargic petpet who seemed at times to barley crack a smile.

      Kuraiiro frowned and peered over at the petpet, who sat, fast asleep on her bed. Listlessly he twisted and gurgled in a shallow fit of sleep. Kuraiiro's nose twitched with guilt as she looked away; he wasn't really that miserable looking, she was only thinking he was after Tahoshi put that ridiculous idea into her head!

     ...right?

     The mutant Cybunny placed a tender paw upon Fuzzy's head, stirring him awake. Quizzically he looked up at the paw, but then smiled as he saw who it belonged to, returning the gesture by wrapping his own tentacle around Kuraiiro's paw. She beamed and held the Uniocto in her arms, petting him serenely as she looked out at the faux pond in the backyard. Fuzzy Lake (as she had deemed it) was a gift from Kuraiiro to Fuzzy for his first birthday. It took a lot of convincing on the Cybunny's part as she conned her owner into buying it, but she believed it was money well spent. Fuzzy always loved to play in his pond, jumping and twirling in the water with a sort of effortless grace.

     "Hey Fuzzy-buddy, wanna go and swim around?" Kuraiiro put on a great grin while her voice became oddly chipper. Fuzzy looked up at her again, his eyes wide and adoring clearly indicating that whatever Kuraiiro wanted to do, he wanted to do. Smiling, the Cybunny bounced down the stairs with Fuzzy in her arms. From the bottom of the stairs a pair of gleaming yellow eyes glared, yet the mutant Cybunny chose to ignore them as she stepped into the bright sunlight of the backyard amid the singing flowers and gently swaying trees.

      "Here you go, Fuzzy," Kuraiiro cooed as she placed the petpet into the water. She expected him to perhaps take off in a burst of speed and excitement, but instead her petpet just sort of floated there for a few moments before indolently retreating to the bottom where he lied there lugubriously. Kuraiiro's droopy ears fell even more as she watched him Fuzzy curl into a ball on the bottom of the plastic pond.

      "Hey, Fuzzy...c'mon," She encouraged, splashing the water playfully. The Uniocto looked up at Kuraiiro fleetingly before resuming its focused stare into the abyss. Kuraiiro's stomach seemed to fall out from under her. Why was Fuzzy acting like this? Surely Tahoshi wasn't right! He couldn't be right! He was never ever right! Kuraiiro's through dwelled on Tahoshi's idiotic words; they seemed selfish to her, asking her to throw away her best friend like those callous owners who dumped their pets into the dank halls of the pound. Kuraiiro's whiskers twitched as the thought crossed her mind. Would she dare demean herself and throw Fuzzy away like that? Hardly! He was her friend and her pet! He belonged to her, and as such he would be with her forever!

     Kuraiiro's mind froze as she thought of her last word, ashamed of herself. Fuzzy wasn't hers...he didn't belong to her. He was just a friend, a companion. Would she really deny something he needed to survive…just so that she could be happy? Kuraiiro knew the answer to the question, yet she couldn't help but have a selfish snag at her heart.

     Well, he is my friend... she said to herself resolutely, as if it solved the problem right there and then.

     If you are his friend, then you will do what is needed! Another voice sassed back to the first, crushing the finality of Kuraiiro's belief. Her eyes strayed back to Fuzzy, still at the bottom of the pond. The voices sung and swirled in her head, each of them ordering her to do something else, growing louder and louder until they escalated into a miasma of impenetrable noise. Kuraiiro clenched her paw against the base of the pond, trying to think of anything else, but to no avail.

     And just as soon as they started, the noises ceased as a bit of coarse fuzz brushed up against her paw. Kuraiiro peered down to see Fuzzy's head lying on top of her clenched paw, his eyes looking up in a manner that seemed to say 'I'm done'.

     "Hey...buddy...let's go somewhere, eh? " Kuraiiro smiled, scooping up the petpet in her arms. She glimpsed at the house for a moment before opening up the white gate that sat around the house, strolling down the road as the sun began to dip down.

     ***

     The beaches of Neopia Central were not renown for their beauty or scenery. Indeed, very few had ever bothered to stand out there as the sea winds made it far too chilly for anyone to enjoy a dip in the sea. This evening was no exception to the norm as the solitary figure of Kuraiiro plodded over the sandy dunes, tripping once in a while over her big feet as they sunk into the sand. Eventually (after falling quite a bit), she managed to reach the shore as the tide began to sweep in.

     "Here. Go on Fuzzy, have fun," Kuraiiro whispered as she placed the petpet in the way of the coming tide. Fuzzy looked up with a puzzled look, but didn't have much time to think anything else as the tide came and pulled him into the ocean just a bit off of the shore. Kuraiiro watched as Fuzzy began to swim around and around in a jaunty manner, hurriedly darting up the beach and then back again, all while he broke the skin of the water with spectacular jumps.

     Kuraiiro hadn't seen Fuzzy that happy in ages…

     The mutant Cybunny watched in silence as the water rushed up around her feet and then retreated, while the beach turned a brilliant gold as the sun began to slink behind the water.

     It was a while before Fuzzy came back to Kuraiiro, tumbling in clumsily as the tide rushed towards her. The petpet slithered up to her like a snake, grinning up at her, but Kuraiiro did not look at Fuzzy, instead her gaze sat on the sinking sun.

     "Hey...Fuzzy..." she began, placing a paw on his head. "We-we're friends...right?" she inquired. The petpet squeaked, nestling up to its owner, answering Kuraiiro's question with this gesture. The two were silent for a long time as their shadows became more and more elongated with the dying sun.

     "Fuzzy...you don't belong here," Kuraiiro said in a whisper. "Tahoshi...he was right. You belong out there, in the sea. I shouldn't deny you that...I really shouldn't," The Cybunny forced out. Fuzzy let out a defensive squeak as he shook his head desperately. Kuraiiro look down at the petpet, revealing the shining tears in her eyes. She picked Fuzzy up and held him closely to her chest.

     "It's true, Fuz. You've just been looking awful and...just when you were out there-" Kuraiiro's voice trailed off. Fuzzy didn't bother to speak up, he knew it was true. Out there, swimming in the ocean...he felt so happy, like he could go on for miles and miles and never have to stop...

     "That's why I want you to go, Fuzzy," Kuraiiro forced out. "I love you...and that's why I want you to go. To be happy," She frowned pensively. The Cybunny stood up and stepped out into the ocean as far as her size permitted her before placing the Uniocto tenderly in the spray. Fuzzy gazed up at his owner with heartbreak in his eyes and his tentacle still clinging desperately to Kuraiiro.

     "Fuzzy, you can't," she whimpered. "I want you to be happy, because then I'll be happy. You're happy out there…and I want-want…" Kuraiiro couldn't finish her sentence as two tears fell to the ground. Fuzzy clung tight to her arm, not listening to a word she said. The Cybunny sighted and held the Uniocto close to her, smiling brightly.

     "Fuzzy, you'll go out there and make new friends and have adventures better than we could. Really. You will be so much happier out there than you would be with me. I just-please Fuzzy...be happy," Kuraiiro implored. The two friends stared at each other long and hard before the Uniocto sadly untangled himself from Kuraiiro's arm and allowed her to place him in the ocean. Dejectedly he looked down at the water and turned back to his owner, giving her a brief glance before diving deep into the water, leaving nothing behind but a small ripple.

     Kuraiiro stood in the biting cold surf for a while, listening to the waves crash melancholically until the sun drowned into the ocean, cutting off all light save for a tiny pinprick of a lighthouse off in the distance. She gathered herself up and trudged back to the house, her eyes stinging from all the tears she had added to the salty sea.

     ***

     As stolid as a statue, Tahoshi stood on the stoop of the home, watching the street for any movement. He had been out there since the sun set and was not going to retreat his spot until he was sure...

     Eventually he saw what he needed to see as the figure hopped towards the home. Tahoshi's ears perked up as he saw Kuraiiro's bleary eyes meet his own unshakeable stare.

     Yet there was one thing that he didn't see which hit his heart...

     "Kurry-" Tahoshi began.

     "It was best. You were right," Kuraiiro sniffed as soon as Tahoshi began to speak, looking in the other direction as she did so. Her voice was hoarse and husky, quivering on the point of breaking. "He couldn't live on land. He's a sea creature after all! Bit idiotic of me to-"

     "It was not," Tahoshi offered gently, startling himself in the process. He tried to hold a hand out to his sister, yet Kuraiiro broke down into her brother's arms, sobbing openly as she did so.

     "I-I'm gonna miss him, Tahoshi!" She cried wretchedly. The Lupe didn't answer as he returned the embrace of his sister, tenderly patting her back.

     "I know you will. And I'm sure he'll miss you too..."

     ***

     Kuraiiro didn't sleep that night as she sat on her unturned sheets, hanging her head out of the window. Only twelve hours ago her best friend was sitting on the bed next to her, cooing as he slept. And now...now she didn't know where he was.

     A star twinkled overhead then fell to the ground in a rush of light. Kuraiiro spotted the shooting star through her tear streaked vision and held her paws together, closing her eyes as she made a wish.

     "I wish...I wish he's happy...and that he'll always be happy..." she whispered to the star, a tear leaking out of her eye. And somewhere in the giant ocean that stretches across Neopia and sinks to unfathomable depths a fuzz covered Uniocto looked up at the sky and saw the same falling star, making the same wish on it as it winked out of sight forever.

The End

 
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