The inside scoop on Jelly W-argh! *choke* Circulation: 111,611,307 Issue: 221 | 22nd day of Celebrating, Y7
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Christmas With You: Part Two


by hmlanden

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"Alix?" Jake asked. She looked up at him with her eerie eyes. He held up her diary. "Is this what you were looking for?"

      The white Kougra squeaked with joy. "My diary!" She wrenched it from the pirate Kougra's paws and cradled it like a newborn babe. "Where'd you find it?"

      "You left it here yesterday. I took it home so it wouldn't get all wet…" his voice trailed off. Her eyes were accusing him now.

      "You read it, didn't you." Her voice was flat, accusing.

      "I…well, I…" The white Kougra turned and dashed up the steps. Her paw was poised over the metal handle of the door when he called out.

     "Alix, I think I'm your brother!"

      Time stood still for both Kougras. Alix's mind was whirling; Jake was panicking. Should've he have said it that soon? What if she didn't believe him? So many questions…he couldn't let her run again.

      He started up the steps after her. "You wrote in your diary about grey eyes, and how you've been having those weird dreams. I've been having the same dreams, and they started after I met you. Except in my dream, I can't see who's behind me. My owner won't tell me about my past." He was standing right next to her now. "I'm more confused than I've ever been in my life. Maybe, together, we could find something out about ourselves."

      Alix was scared witless. Never in her life had someone grasped her wonderings so neatly. No one had ever cared about her pondering writings, her wishes for a family. What if what he said was true? Or what if it wasn't? She could just find herself frozen again, but she had to risk it. She couldn't let this chance slip away…

      "Alright," she whispered.

     ~*~

     They skipped school that day. Sometimes priorities can change.

      Jake ran all the way back to his neohome, dragging the fragile Alix beside him. It was a frantic race against time: they had to get there before Ron left for the shop.

      They were in luck. Jake hurtled through the door and slammed into Ron's stomach. The teenage boy promptly fell on his rear. "Ow," he grumbled. "Jake, shouldn't you be at school? And who.." The instant Ron's eyes fell on Alix, he froze.

      "Ron, I need to talk to you. Now."

      The boy found himself pushed into the kitchen and the door shut behind him, Jake glaring at him, enraged. Alix waited in the warm corridor. "Why didn't you ever tell me I had a sister?"

      Ron's eyes glinted with some unknown emotion. "How did you find out?"

      "Who cares!" the Kougra exploded. "Why didn't you tell me?"

      "Because the people at the pound weren't sure she would survive her childhood! They said she would always be weak and mostly useless. I didn't want to have you dragged down by a twin, so I just got you. I wanted a strong pet, one who loved me and only me," Ron explained angrily. "Why did you bring her here?"

      "Because she's my sister, that's why! Why don't we adopt her now?"

      Ron's face froze into molten lava. "The same reason why I didn't adopt her years ago. She's useless!"

      Jake's mind was swarming and overflowing. All these years…Ron had said he'd loved Jake, but Ron refused to love Jake's sister. What was the difference? Did a pet have to be strong and useful to be loved? Jake hadn't always been an awesome battle pet. There were so many contradictions…

      "I'm going back to school," the Kougra said stiffly.

      Ron nodded, cold. "And don't ever let me hear of you fraternizing with that…thing ever again."

      Jake slammed the kitchen door shut and whirled around to see Alix tearing out of the corridor, sobbing. There was a note on the floor, hastily scribbled and stained with tears. He picked it up with shaking paws.

      Jake,

      I've gone to Happy Valley. Don't come after me; I heard what your owner said. I'll be more trouble to you here than a sister is worth.

      Don't forget about me.

      -Alixis

     That was her full name: Alixis. It was beautiful…he wondered what his name had been when he was a white Kougra, snoring in a cold pound cell with his twin sister…

     ~*~

      Alix knelt before the giant Christmas tree, glowing in the center of Happy Valley. It was Christmas Eve, and pets were running past her, getting in their last minute shopping. She saw the gold and silver tinsel, the blue and red baubles, the striped candy canes, the strings of frozen popcorn, and the glittering pine cones draped over the dark green pine tree. It looked exactly how she remembered it, when she'd last been here as a little one. The sweet smell of slushies dangled tantalizingly over her cold nose. She watched a tall girl, cuddling a wee Bori, skip away from the Advent Calendar carrying a small bag of neopoints and two wrapped presents. Candlelight gleamed to the northeast, where Bruces slid across the frozen lake, creating a symphony with their skates. A gentle snow was falling, but the silvery stars could still be seen, peeking through the wispy grey clouds. The glittering sound of carols drifted on the breeze, through the air spiced with warm muffins and puddings.

      This was the Day of Giving as she remembered it. The people in Neopia Central never did anything right: fighting over presents in the cheapest shops, drinking spiced apple cider until they were sick, quarreling over who got what gift. It was a Day of Giving: sharing, love, and warmth. All the years she'd lived in that valley, back when she was younger, she'd never spent the day alone; someone had always invited her into their home to share the wonderful day with their family. Yes, the people of Happy Valley did this wonderful season the way it was meant to be.

      She pulled her thick blanket around her closer. A starry Bori had invited her inside several hours before, but Alix had declined, asking instead if she could join them the next morning. The Bori was delighted and gave Alix a blanket, just to be sure the Kougra would make it the next day.

      Alix sighed and nibbled on a clean snowball. The world was quiet again, except for the faint tinkling of Christmas bells…

      A candy cane slid into her paws, and a small Bruce dashed away, grinning with pleasure at the success of his mission. Alix sent him a friendly smile and a call of thanks, letting the sharp taste of peppermint tingle from her tongue all the way down to her toes, mingling with the pure cold snow. She'd missed this place more than she'd thought; perhaps she would enjoy staying here after all.

      Then, a warm cup of borovan set itself down before her. She gaped at it, awestruck. Who'd…

      "Hi, Alix."

      The white Kougra slowly looked up into the steel grey eyes of a white Kougra with a gold earring glinting in one ear. "Jake?"

      He snuggled beside her promptly, wrapping himself in a blanket. "Yep."

      Alix was glad for the extra warmth, but… "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be home with your owner?"

      Jake fiddled with a bit of an icicle dangling off his nose. "Weeell, I did some thinking about what happened. You know, that day with Ron. He'd always told me he was my only family, and I believed him. But then you came along, and I found out he'd been lying to me the whole time. Ron hated you for doing that; he thought that having a sister would mean I wouldn't love him anymore. All that "family love" he'd always told me about had been a lie; you were family too, whether Ron liked it or not.

      "It took me up until last night to work up the courage to leave. I packed my stuff and snuck out of my room at midnight; I left Ron a note saying I'd gone to the Lost Desert. But I came here instead. I've been looking for you ever since I got here."

      "How'd you get painted white?"

      Jake grinned sheepishly. "Errr…I bribed Taelia into giving me a better prize for one of my quests."

      The two giggled, their laughter blending with the carols and bells.

      Alix was suddenly afraid. What was he really doing here? Was this...forever?

      "Alix?" Jake asked, yawning.

      "Yes?" she said nervously.

      "Do you remember if I ever had a different name?"

      The Kougra's pale violet eyes fixed themselves on the tree and were drawn to the star. It sparked a memory…

      "Snowstar?"

      Jake breathed deeply. "Snowstar…" He paused for a moment. "I stole some of my owner's neopoints and bought a little igloo not far from here under your name. If you don't mind, I'd like to stay here. Permanently, I mean. You know, forever."

      Alix felt every fear she'd ever had melt away. "Of course!"

      Jake hugged her tight. "I had to spend more than Christmas with you, sis."

      "Snowstar."

The End

 
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