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Some Kind of Shelter: Part Two


by rainbow_daydreamer

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Martin didn't come the next morning, or the day after that.

     Rosiebel found an old can of paint lying in a nearby street, and the old library's walls were freshly painted once again. They managed, somehow, to keep going: soup for dinner, omelette for tea, and a large amount of ingenuity made the old building a home for the two Neopets.

     One stormy night, as D-D was lying down to sleep, he heard a knock at the door. "I'll get it," Rosiebel said quickly. "It might be Martin."

     But the young Techo was already climbing out of his improvised bed, walking over to the door. "If it's Martin," he snapped, "he can forget it unless he's taking you home as well."

     Outside, standing on the step, was no smartly-dressed owner, but a little blue Aisha with a tattered rucksack on her back. "I'm sorry... " she began, in a faltering voice. "I heard there were two pets living here and I wondered if I could stay the night?"

     "You don't have a home to go to, little one?" DD asked gently, putting the kettle on to make a mugful of tea for the newcomer. The Aisha kitten shook her head.

     "My owner's left Neopia. I haven't anywhere to go."

     "Poor kid," DD murmured under the hissing of the boiling kettle. "Rosiebel, what do you think?"

     "It's hardly as if there isn't room for her," the Uni pointed out. It was true. The two of them had often felt lost in the enormous building.

     "Of course you can stay, little one." DD nodded. "Stay as long as you like."

     The next night, when the Aisha returned to sleep exhaustedly among the blankets, she wasn't alone. A Gelert followed her, his matted fur so dark that Rosiebel had to wash him with soap and water before she saw his yellow colour. "Some guy took me away from home," he whimpered. "I can't remember the way back." The two little foundlings shared the library with DD and Rosiebel that night, curled up among the bookcases.

     The next night, there were three.

     Then four.

     Then more.

     "C'mon. I'll take you down to the old library. I've got a bunk there."

     "It's all right. If... if you have to go home, then go. I can stay at the old library."

     "If you bite your little sister one more time, young pet, you'll be looking for a room at the old library."

     The homeless pets brought scraps of money with them, not much, but enough for materials to divide the enormous building into smaller rooms, and to buy a bigger cooking pot for the library pets' meals. Somehow, Rosiebel and DD scraped through the hard times, but there was no ignoring the fact that things were getting out of hand. Now there were over a hundred homeless library pets, and the money was barely enough. How would it be when there were more?

     "What will we do, Rosiebel?" DD didn't look at his friend. He hated to put her through this again, after the same problems had driven her from her home.

     "We'll wait and see." The pink Uni smiled. "Don't fret, DD We'll just have to wait for the next miracle."

     *

     In what had become a rare occurrence, DD had snatched a day at the Neopian college, where he'd once been one of the top students in Petpet medicine. Now, his mood dampened by a low grade on the latest test, he made his way back towards the old library, still wearing his laboratory coat.

     One of the library's pets, a young Mynci, had told him that she'd seen Martin at his stockmarket job with a stunningly groomed Peophin at his side. It looked as though the millionaire human had chosen to forget about his pet's existence.

     As he turned the corner, he thought he heard someone crying. Curious, he paused to look around. A human girl, only a teenager, was sitting outside one of the fashionable Neohomes on the main street, her head in her hands.

     "Excuse me, miss?" The Techo put one claw tentatively on her shoulder. "I don't mean to be rude, but I couldn't help noticing that you seemed to be upset."

     "I'm sorry." The girl wiped her eyes. "I'm okay, really... it's just that I realised that today would be Archie's birthday, and, well, it just got the better of me?"

     "Archie?" DD asked gently.

     "He is... he was... my Gelert." She gulped for breath. "Just a yellow Gelert pup. Six months ago, someone broke into my house... they stole all my stuff. We tracked down the burglar, but he didn't have Archie... he said he'd dumped him on the streets. I've been looking for him all this time, but... "

     "Oh, my dear." DD put his arm around her. "Would you wait here a moment? I have something to do."

     *

     "Come right through here." Rosiebel smiled. "And open your eyes... now!"

     "Archie!" gasped the young girl as the yellow Gelert bounded forward into her arms. "Oh, Archie, it's really you!"

     Girl and Neopet were lost for a moment in a loving embrace. "Come on, Archie. We're going home. Mr. Techo, I'll make sure that you're paid handsomely for helping us."

     "Give me a minute to say goodbye to Kitty," the Gelert put in, jumping down from his owner's arms. A Wocky padded over to Archie's side.

     "G'bye, Archie. Hope you have fun." There was an envious longing in the Wocky's bright eyes as she watched her friend rejoin his owner. "Take care of him, will you?"

     "G'bye, Kitty. Be safe... "

     "Where do you live, Kitty?" asked Laura gently. "I'll bring Archie to visit you."

     "I live here," the Wocky explained with a startled look. "DD and Rosiebel take care of me and all the others."

     "Is that really true?" The girl appeared deep in concentration. "And you don't have any owners?"

     There was a unanimous shaking of heads.

     "Don't you want them?" she asked, still puzzled.

     "Of course we do," snapped a Korbat, hanging from the ceiling. "I mean, DD and Rosiebel are nice, but... "

     "I think," the girl said, "that I need to speak to the Neopian government." Her smile lit up the room. "I know exactly how to reward the two of you. I've had something of a brainwave."

          *

     Missie the blue Tonu sat down to her dinner: a simple, but tasty meal of faerie cherry pie. Her mother set the plates on the table with care before taking a seat. Suddenly, a loud noise startled the little girl into dropping her spoon. Someone was banging on the door.

     "Rosie!" Missie screamed, throwing herself at the pink Uni. Rosiebel laughed and set the Tonu down on her chair.

     "Hi, Missie. Hi, Mum. Good to see you again." She did a happy little twirl on the spot. "And here you go!" Without explanation, she pressed a bagful of Neopoints into her owner's hand.

     "Rosie!... but how?" Her owner stared in amazement.

     "I have a job, Mum. The Neopian government organised it." Rosiebel flung down a copy of the Neopian Times.

     Teenage Entrepreneur Neopets Give Second Chance To Neopia's Homeless

     Rosiebel's owner read the story of Archie and Laura's reunion and the enormous donation that the grateful girl had made to the two pets, then continued onto the second page.

     As of tomorrow at 10am NST, the dumping of Neopets on the streets or in the wild will become a criminal offence. All Neopets ownerless for whatever reason must instead be brought into the care of the two pets at the former library building, together with a small fee to take care of their accommodation and well-being. In an unprecedented new system, the staff at what is being called Neopia's "Second Chance" centre will then make it their task to find a new owner for each and every pet...

     "Did I do right, Mum?" Rosiebel asked softly.

     "Yes, you did," her owner smiled, enveloping the pink Uni in an enormous hug. "You did right, my darling."

     *

     "Man, why do I stay in this job?"

      Her colleague's words of frustration brought Rosiebel back to reality. The Techo was filling in the umpteenth of the day's abandonment forms, and accidentally-on-purpose scattering as many papers as possible over that day's Times article, a piece headed "Pet Abuse in the Neopian Orphanage?"

     "All I get in this place is scared Neopets and lies about me in the Times. I could've been a Petpet veterinarian... still could be, if I quit..."

     A human boy walked out of the backroom with a tiny green Aisha cradled in his arms. "Thanks so much!" he called to the two pets at the desk. "She's beautiful!" Glancing over at her colleague, Rosiebel thought she caught a brief flash of a smile.

     "I'll get your coffee, DD," she volunteered, putting the kettle on.

     "You're in a good mood today," was the only response. "What were you thinking about then, anyway? Looked like you were in a dream."

     "Oh, I don't know," Rosiebel smiled, pouring the coffee and setting two mugs on the desk. "I really don't know, DD."

The End

 
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