Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 127,331,912 Issue: 258 | 22nd day of Gathering, Y8
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Spreading Sunshine


by ch0c0lat3kik0

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Also by sooooocute5

"Perhaps today will be the day!" said Rainee, a blue Pteri. Her eyes were shining with hope and glee. She wrung her hands in anticipation, as she did every day, and paced around the cage. The other inhabitant, a brutal-looking blue Eyrie, sneered.

     "You say that every day," the Eyrie said waspishly. "How can you still think, after all these months, that anyone would want to adopt you?"

     Rainee's face fell, but she quickly composed herself.

     "Well, at least I'm being optimistic, Rodney," she said, referring to the Eyrie.

     Rodney rolled his eyes, then sighed and leaned causally against the bars of their cage.

     "This place is like prison," he said miserably, looking gloomily around the cage. His words were partially true: The cage was small, and consisted of only two beds (one for Rodney, one for Rainee), with yellow bedspreads that were worn, but still cheerful. A wooden dresser which held a few of their most treasured possessions, two sets of clothes provided by the pound, and a poster. The poster headlined "Adopt Me Today!", and below that there was a picture of a blue Kougra hugging their owner, looking very happy. The sight of that Kougra, adopted and with a kind owner while Rodney was stuck in this miserable place, made Rodney feel sick to his stomach.

     "Why can't you be happy for just once, Rodney? We have clothes, food, a roof over our heads, and a chance at a new life. Can't you be happy with that?" Rainee said, annoyed. Rodney just cast Rainee a nasty glance and turned his face away. Rainee just shrugged and turned her face hopefully to the empty hallways and started shouting her good-mornings to all of her friends. Soon the hallway was filled with noise of pets waking up and getting ready for breakfast.

     "Good morning Sapphire!" Rainee shouted as she saw her best friend from the room across the hall wake up.

     "Morning, Rainee!" Sapphire said as she yawned and pulled on a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt; standard apparel for the pound and required for all pets to wear until they got adopted. Rose, the pink Uni in charge of adoptions started coming down the halls serving breakfast.

     "Morning, Rose!" Rainee said happily.

     "Good morning, Rainee," Rose replied, ladling some soup onto a red tray and handing it to Rainee. "Sleep well?"

     "Very well, thank you," said Rainee, scraping her spoon along the bowl of soup.

     "Good morning, Rodney," Rose said, sounding slightly nervous. Rodney scowled.

     "Says who?" he said snappishly.

     Rose chose to ignore this. "Here's your breakfast," she said, handing Rodney a tray. He snatched it roughly from her hoofs.

     "Soup for breakfast? Again?!" he said loudly, surveying his breakfast with distaste. Rose rolled her eyes impatiently.

     "Sorry Rodney, but yes," Rose said, sauntering away to serve breakfast to the other occupants of the pound.

     "Ugh." Rodney prodded the soup with his spoon; it swiveled around the bowl, brown and murky, looking as appetizing as a Pile of Dung. Rodney made a sickening face.

     "Oh Roddie," said Rainee with a small sigh, who had been watching him closely, "Will you eat already and stop complaining? Hey, did you know today we're going outside to the playground? Won't that be fun?"

     "Oh yeah, loads," Rodney said sarcastically. "The time of my life."

     "You're not going to try and escape again, are you?" asked Rainee, her tone serious. "Because whenever you do, it never works, and you just get us all in trouble."

     Rodney just rolled his eyes and turned back to his pile-of-dung soup.

     After breakfast, Rose opened the main doors to the pound and allowed owners to come through and look for new pets to take home with them. The noise was deafening as owners were talking among themselves and with their pets and taking new pets home with them. Rainee stood, looking out through the bars, her face falling a little with every owner that passed by and then spirits visibly rising every time an owner would pause at her cage.

     "Give it up, Rainee," Rodney said after the 6th owner had passed by without so much as glancing at her. "No one wants a plain blue Pteri like you."

     "Oh, I'm sure someone would," said Rainee brightly, not letting Rodney's words tamper her spirits, as another could-be owner came by their cage. She walked past a few feet, barely glancing at them, then stopped abruptly and walked back, staring at Rainee curiously.

     "You're a sweet little Neopet, aren't you?" the girl said, sweeping her long brown hair out of her face so she could look at Rainee more clearly.

     "Yep, I am," said Rainee, putting on her I'm-the-best-little-Pteri-in-Neopia look.

     "What's your name?" she asked, her eyes moving upward and pausing on a sign that read "RAINEE AND RODNEY". "Rainee or Rodney?"

     "Rainee," Rainee replied, "And this is Rodney," she added, inclining her head towards Rodney.

     The girl shot Rodney a half-glance before turning back to Rainee.

     "Well, Rainee, my name's Ellen. I was looking for a Pteri to adopt and paint Faerie, and you seem like the perfect one." Ellen smiled warmly at Rainee, who interjected a loud gasp and squealed, "I'd LOVE to be Faerie! Thank you!"

     Rodney realized his mouth was agape, and quickly closed it.

     "Rainee," he said meekly. "Rainee, you don't believe her, right? I'm sure a few weeks after you've been adopted, Ellen here," he shot a nasty glance at Ellen, who blinked innocently, "will chuck you back into the pound. You seriously don't think she'll KEEP you, do you?"

     Rainee looked, for the first time in her life, angry.

     "Rodney Eyrie, just because your owner abandoned you doesn't mean all owners are like that. I think Ellen is nice and I'm not going to let you ruin it for me! Ellen, I'd love to come home with you."

     Ellen smiled and unlocked Rainee's cage with a key she had gotten from the front desk and Rainee walked out.

     "Goodbye Rodney, have a nice life," Rainee said, striding out of the front entrance doors, Ellen's hand in her wing.

     Rodney felt dazed, as though he had been whacked on the head with a large mallet. He shook himself mentally and muttered to himself, "Oh, she'll be back, she'll be back...."

      ***

     When Rodney woke up the next day, he didn't realize why he felt so miserable and angry, but then he remembered the events the day before, and his face darkened. He scowled and rolled on his bed to the left. Usually Rainee was right there on the next bed, awakening him with a hug and screeching, "Wake up, Roddie!" But this morning, without Rainee, Rodney felt a sense of loss he couldn't quite explain. Sure, Rainee annoyed him a lot, but he still liked her in his own way, and he felt a strange sensation around his chest whenever he thought of her, something he hadn't experienced until now. He didn't like it.

     Whenever a new pet got adopted, the pound was usually abuzz with excitement, and at moment everyone seemed to be chattering about who adopted Rainee, what she was doing now, and if she was happy.

     "Oh, I do miss her so much," one of Rainee's many friends said during lunch, sounding tearful. Her friend, a red Uni, wrapped her arm around her consolingly and said, "I'm sure she's very happy, Kris."

     Rodney scowled and pretended he hadn't heard. What was the big deal anyways? He shrugged and turned towards the wall so no one could see the mixed emotions that seemed to be gushing out of his heart. Did he actually miss her?

     "You know, Rodney, it's okay to miss Rainee. She was a sweet girl and no one would blame you," a voice said from the room next to him. He poked his head through the bars and craned his neck to see the speaker. It was Jonas, an elderly Skeith who had been in the pound for as long as anyone could remember.

     "I don't miss her, she was just an annoying Pteri," Rodney said harshly.

     Jonas watched him for a moment, a pensive look on his wrinkled face. "Hmm. Sometime soon, perhaps, Rodney, you will realize just how much you do miss her. And no one will think any less of you; quite the contrary."

     "Whatever," mumbled Rodney. When Jonas turned away, he added under his breath, "Like I really care what anyone thinks of me."

     The next day, Rodney got quite a surprise wake up call.

     "Rodney! Wake up wake up wake up! I'm baaaaaaack!" Rodney awoke with a start to see Rainee leaning over him, a broad grin on her face.

     "AHH! Don't do that, you dumb Pteri! Why are you back here?" Rodney said groggily, not fully to his senses yet. If he had been fully awake, he might have seen a small tear form in Rainee's eye.

     "Ellen just wanted to transmogrify me mutant, and I didn't want to be a mutant. Did you miss me at all?" Rainee questioned.

     "No, and I'll have you know I was perfectly happy when you were gone," Rodney snapped as he rolled over and put a pillow over his head. When he woke up for a second time, Rainee was under her covers, shaking. When Rodney got out of bed and walked a little closer, he heard she was crying.

     "Rainee?" he said, almost timidly.

     "Leave me alone, Rodney. If you can't be nice, then just leave me alone," came Rainee's muffled reply. Rodney felt as though he'd been slapped. An icy reply from the gentle little Rainee? It couldn't be true. Just then, Jonas' words came floating through his head. "It's okay to miss her; no one would blame you. Quite the contrary."

     "Maybe he was right," Rodney thought. He cleared his throat and did something he had never done before, apologize. "Rainee, I'm sorry. I did miss you, I missed you a lot. If you like, I can help you find a new owner, but please don't stay mad."

     Rainee's head peeked out from her blankets, looking stunned.

     "Seriously?" she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper. "You'd do that, for me?"

     "Of course, Rainee, I'd --" He bit his tongue mid-sentence, for he had just been about to say, "I'd do anything for you." What would everyone think of him if he showed even mild affection towards anything or anyone? He had his reputation at stake, after all.

     "Oh, Roddie!" Rainee cried, not noticing his faltering 'I'd', pulling him into a huge hug. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed in Rodney's arms. Rodney, taken aback by Rainee's sudden embrace, patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. He was at a complete loss for words.

     "Oh, Roddie, you have no idea how much I missed this place and you," Rainee said, her voice muffled, tears leaking onto Rodney's feathers. "Ellen was so mean. I was so stupid to think she'd really be my owner. She just wanted to morph me into a Skeith and show me off to all her friends."

     "That's -- that's horrible, Rainee." He patted her back. "But don't worry, your next owner will be really nice and good and kind and -- yeah..."

     But how exactly was he supposed to find this wonderful owner for Rainee, when he couldn't find an owner for himself, after living years and years at the pound?

     Just then, Rose yelled that it was time for owners to come so everyone get ready. Rodney glanced at Rainee as she ran to her usual spot right up near the door. If he was going to help her, he couldn't very well sulk with his back turned the way he usually did. So the whole pound was surprised when he walked slowly up to join Rainee near the front of the room! Owners rushed past the whole day. Rodney and Rainee called and called for someone to notice them, but very few owners even gave them a glance. Near the end of the day, when they were getting quite tired and their voices were getting hoarse from calling, a petite blonde girl took notice of them.

     "Hi there, cutie Pteri, what's your name?" she asked, addressing Rainee.

     "I'm Rainee and this," Rainee said, motioning, "is Rodney."

     The girl smiled and ruffled Rainee's messy feathers through the bars of the cage. "Well, Rainee, I'm Jessie. Would you be interested in coming home with me? I've been looking for a sweet little pet to keep my Kougra and me company, and I have a room all picked out in my house." Rainee squealed happily and nodded.

     "I'd LOVE to come home with you!" she said. Jessie smiled broadly and let Rainee out. Rainee suddenly glanced at Rodney and then whispered something in Jessie's ear. Jessie turned towards Rodney.

     "Well, Rodney, it seems Rainee here would like to have you for a brother! Would you like to come home with me as well?"

     Rodney was about to answer, when he saw a small yellow Kacheek being thrown into a room across the hall. The Kacheek was crying and pleading with her former owner not to leave her. Rodney turned back to Jessie. "Thanks, Jessie, but I think that I should stay here. Rainee was the sunshine around this place for a long time, and she kept people's spirits up in bad situations. Now that she's found a home," he said winking at Rainee, "I think I need to stay and be the sunshine for a while." Jessie nodded and started to walk away, but Rainee stopped her again and ran up to Rodney.

     "I'll miss you, Rodney; don't forget about me. You'll do a great job of helping pets here," she said with tears in her eyes. Rodney gave her a hug through the bars.

     "Don't worry, all I have to do is be incredibly annoying and I think I'll make it okay. Come visit me, okay?" Rainee nodded vigorously and allowed Jessie to grab her hand and gently pull her away. And from the next cage over, Jonas was smiling.

     "Surprising what a little love can do to change a pet," he said, chuckling to himself.

The End

 
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