A Very Feepit Christmas: Part Five
Christmas came very early in the morning two days later. Although it was still dark out, Athena opened one eye and stared at the luminous numbers on the clock across the room. The digits registered in her already keyed-up brain. 6:07 A.M. Not bad. She leaped out of bed, ran to the bathroom, and poured a cup of water. But before she could pour it on Cadmium's head, the Royal Aisha sat up and knocked the cup of water clear across the room, onto the Feepit's crate. Smothering giggles at the howls of protest that arose from the crate, the two pets skittered down the hall to Elspeth's room. To their surprise, their owner sat up at the sound of the creaking door.
"Ah, good, you waited until AFTER five-thirty. Unlike last year," Elspeth remembered. "Now, how about we all sit down and talk about-"
"ELSPETH!" the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha chorused.
"Just kidding!" Elspeth laughed, shrugging on her bathrobe. "Shall we go downstairs and see what's under the tree?" But before she could even put on her slippers, the two pets flew down the stairs, eagerly waiting in the decorated living room. Sighing lightly and shaking her head at her pets' irrepressible behavior, the brown-haired girl took her time brushing her hair. After all, you never know who may show up while you're opening presents, she reasoned with herself.
At the doorway to the living room, Cadmium was literally bouncing up and down in anticipation. "Can we have at 'em?" she asked, her green eyes dancing with excitement.
Athena placed a calming hoof on her sister's head. "Chill, Cadmium. They're not going to disappear."
"They would if the Feepit had gotten to them," she reminded the Faerie Peophin, her voice bitter.
"Let's not think about that right now," Athena soothed. "Remember, she'll be leaving soon."
"The sooner, the better," Cadmium declared. "If only someone had told me how horrible Feepits were in the first place."
Athena was struck by the harshness of Cadmium's words, but then she figured that the Royal Aisha was still covering up her true feelings. She knew her sister well enough to understand that the Royal Aisha was embarrassed by her petpet's continuous bad behavior and that she wanted to correct the problem as quickly as possible. But before she could confront Cadmium, she heard footsteps on the stairs. She flashed Cadmium a big grin as the two of them raced to their usual spots by the tree.
"I'm surprised that you aren't done opening the presents already!" Elspeth joked. Holding up her hands at their protests, she continued. "I'm surprised - but glad. Now just let me put the turkey in the oven, and we'll be ready," she said, rubbing her hands in anticipation.
The two pets heard their owner working in the kitchen and fidgeted impatiently. They heard her singing a Christmas carol and rolled their eyes. "We might as well have let her get us up," Cadmium lamented.
"No, because then she'd sleep until ten and the Feepit would have gotten to the presents." As soon as the words were out of her mouth, the Faerie Peophin wanted to snatch them back. But Cadmium didn't seem to be paying attention. At last, their owner emerged from the kitchen. Walking into the living room, she switched on a speaker to Christmas music.
"Okay, are we ready to-"
Cadmium shoved a badly-wrapped present at her owner. "Open yours first!" The two pets sat back, expectant looks on their faces. A shiver of excitement ran down Cadmium's spine. It's really Christmas morning! she thought.
With a flurry of holly-covered wrapping paper, Elspeth tore open her present. "Oh, Cadmium, it's lovely!" she breathed, holding up a gorgeous navy dress, similar to the one she had worn and ruined on the night of the disastrous party. "How in Neopia did you manage to get it the day before Christmas?"
Cadmium and Athena swapped smiles, remembering the mad dashing over to the Neopian Bazaar in the wee hours of the morning - and then standing in line for four hours in order to pay for the dress with Cadmium's hard-earned Neopoints. "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it!" The Royal Aisha took in her owner's huge smile and felt a warm glow settle over her. THIS is what Christmas is all about - giving, she thought contentedly, her mind far from her problems involving a tiny creature sound asleep in a crate upstairs.
The three of them got right into opening their gifts. In addition to the presents they had bought for each other, there were also ones from Marcie, her pets, and Elspeth's siblings. Elspeth opened some of hers - books from her family, and a set of CDs from Marcie - and then sat back to watch her pets. An amused smile on her face, she observed the difference in the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha's opening techniques. While Athena deliberately unwrapped the gifts, put aside the paper (presumably for a craft of some sort), and carefully opened each box, Cadmium tore off the wrapping paper, yanked open the boxes, and admired the contents of the box for about one second before going on to the next one.
Coming to another present in the pile, Athena shyly handed Elspeth a rectangle-shaped box. "This one's from me." The Faerie Peophin gave a bashful smile. "It's not very good or anything, but..." Her voice trailed off, and she fiddled nervously with a strand of silvery-white hair.
"Oh, nonsense, Athena; I'm sure it will be-" Elspeth broke off, gasping upon seeing the contents of the box. "Oh, Athena, it's so amazing!" she exclaimed, holding up the framed pastel drawing of the three of them. "I have the two best pets in Neopia!" She gave them both crushing hugs.
"Because we get you good presents on Christmas?" Cadmium joked.
Elspeth laughed. "You know that is not what I meant." She handed the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha each a smallish box. "Now, I have given much thought to this, and I believe you both are ready."
The two swapped confused looks. "Ready?" they chorused.
Elspeth gave a knowing smile. "Just open it, and you will see what I mean." She sat back in her chair, arms folded, to watch.
"On the count of three, okay?" Athena suggested.
"Three!" Wrapping paper tossed everywhere, two velvet-covered boxes were revealed. Athena and Cadmium simultaneously snapped them open and gasped.
"Diamond necklaces!" Athena exclaimed.
"From the Hidden Tower!" Cadmium shrieked, putting hers on and dancing around. "Look at how it sparkles!" The three of them laughed and began chatting excitedly. What with that and the Christmas music in the background, they barely heard the doorbell.
From her perch on the armchair, Cadmium started. "Who could that be?" she wondered, going over to look out the window.
Athena and Elspeth clambered over too. Rubbing the steam from the windowpane, they saw a wagon filled with precariously stacked cardboard boxes inside. Cadmium took a step back and gasped, remembering the last place she had seen boxes piled like that. Oblivious to her pet, Elspeth opened the door to a red-headed teenage boy and his Brown Kyrii standing on the front step. One never knows when one may need to look one's best, Elspeth thought, a blush from the cold - and from embarrassment - coloring her cheeks.
"Hello? May I help you?" Elspeth inquired. By this time, Athena and Cadmium had come over to the door and were standing next to Elspeth, huddled together against the cold rushing in through the opened door.
The boy nodded to the three girls. "Hello there. Sorry to interrupt your Christmas, but I'm afraid there's been a grave mistake. Did one of you go to Happy Valley to retrieve the Advent prize on December 11?"
Athena and Cadmium shared confused glances. "I guess so. Why? What was it?" Athena questioned, a suspicious look in her blue eyes. "Charlie the Advent guy didn't make cookies and mix them up with the prize again, did he?"
The boy chuckled. "No." Then a grave expression came over his face. He motioned to the Brown Kyrii, who handed him a cup of coffee balanced on one of the boxes. He took a sip and began his explanation. "Back in the summer, Jacin and I ordered a shipment of various petpets. We were told that the Wintery petpets would be taken to the post office in Happy Valley. A couple weeks ago, I got word that those had come in, and I went to the post office to pick them up. All of them were there except the-"
"Feepits!" Athena blurted out, her eyes widening in comprehension. Ignoring the scolding look Elspeth gave her for interrupting, she waited for the boy to go on with his explanation.
"Yep. Somehow, they got sent to the Happy Valley Advent shop, where they were then given out as prizes. And that was a terrible, horrible mistake. You see, the Feepits I ordered are, shall we say, special." Here Jacin gave an odd little chuckle. The boy cleared his throat, and the Brown Kyrii gave an apologetic smile. "Anyway, what I'm saying is, all those Feepits that were given out on December 11 are legally mine." Jacin poked the boy's back. "And Jacin's," he added hastily. "So for two weeks, I have been going around and collecting them from all the people who received the prize on that day. And yours is the last one."
An overjoyed look had come over Elspeth's face. "You heard the boy, Cadmium. Go get the Feepit."
Spurred into action by their owner's words and the thought of getting rid of the little terror, Cadmium and Athena ran up the stairs, retrieved the crate, and lugged it back down to the boy's feet. "There you go," Athena said, brushing off her hands. Cadmium placed a paw on top of the box, first feeling a rush of relief. Then a mix of other emotions hit her. He's taking my petpet. As if she could sense what was going on, the Feepit woke up and began gnawing on the sides of the crate. She made such noise that the five all glanced at the box in alarm.
Taking charge of the situation, the boy said, "Thank you so much." He included them all in his grateful gaze, then let it linger a little longer on Elspeth. To her pets' amusement, she blushed holly berry red. He shook his head and cleared his throat. "Well, I guess I'd better be going."
To Cadmium, time seemed to stand still. It was as if everything was whirling around her, and it made her dizzy. She felt hot, then cold. What's happening? she wondered. Her breathing grew heavy, but no one else seemed to notice.
The boy picked up the wiggling crate, leaving Cadmium's paw hanging limp at her side. He hefted the box containing the now wailing Feepit onto his shoulder and walked over to the wagon. "Sorry for any trouble this little thing caused you," he called over his shoulder, trudging down the street with Jacin pulling the wagon behind him. He gave a wave before disappearing over the hill. Cadmium's Feepit gave a pitiful "FEEP," which went straight to Cadmium's heart and brought her out of her state of numbness. Now the Royal Aisha knew what she really had to do.
Turning to her pets, Elspeth brushed off her hands. "Well, Cadmium, how do you feel-" To her alarm, Cadmium flung open the door and tore down the street after the boy and the Brown Kyrii. "Cadmium!" Elspeth's voice floated down the street, but Cadmium took no notice.
"Wait! Wait wait wait wait wait!" the Royal Aisha hollered. Sprinting as best as she could through the foot-deep snow, she finally reached the startled pair. Gasping for breath, she stood in front of them and blocked their path.
"What do you think you're doing?" the boy questioned, exasperation showing in his brown eyes. He put the box containing Cadmium's Feepit down. Catching Cadmium's scent, the petpet gave a joyous "Pllrr!" and shook the crate even more violently than before.
"You can't take her," Cadmium panted. "She needs me!"
"And why does she 'need' you?" the boy asked in a condescending tone, a sneer on his face. "I need her for testing out my new lab ray."
Gasping, Cadmium pleaded with him. "Can't you hear her? She's practically breaking open the crate to be with me. I'm the only one who understands her, the only one who can give her what she really needs." Tears streamed down the Royal Aisha's face, mixing with the cold air and freezing on her cheeks.
"You know what? I paid for her, she's legally mine, and I don't have time for this." Picking the box back up, the boy and Jacin started walking purposefully down the street, leaving the Royal Aisha standing pitifully alone.
Desperately trying to think of something, Cadmium watched the two get smaller and smaller. She fiddled with the diamond necklace, which she had forgotten to take off due to the chaos of the last hour. Suddenly, she got an idea. That's it! "WAIT!!!" she bellowed, storming down the road after them. For a minute, she thought the boy and his pet were going to keep walking, but she heard him give a tremendous sigh and stop.
"This had better be good." He rolled his eyes dramatically.
"I'll give you this," - she struggled to unclasp the necklace, - "for that," she bargained, nodding toward the crate.
The boy snatched up the necklace. "Is this real?" he asked suspiciously, turning it in his hand.
"Straight from the Hidden Tower. Now do we have a deal, or what?" Cadmium demanded, hands on her hips.
"Take her and go," he agreed, prying open the lid. He lifted the petpet out, and the Feepit bit him. He hollered, and Cadmium had to roll her lips together to keep from laughing.
"Come on, cutie. You and I need to get home." Cadmium spoke to the Feepit as the two of them ran back towards their NeoHome. "I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do," she realized. The blue-and-white creature gazed lovingly up at Cadmium, who felt her heart melt once again. "Who cares? You belong with me." The Feepit gave an agreeing chirp as the two of them slowed to a walk, taking the time to enjoy the Christmas scenery. No matter how daunting the task of convincing her sister and owner that she needed to keep the Feepit was, Cadmium knew everything would turn out all right in the end. After all, she thought, gazing up at the one star that still twinkled in the early morning sky, Christmas is a season for miracles! And then she knew what the Feepit should be called. "Miracle. Do you like that?" she asked the Feepit. The tiny creature was too busy stuffing her face with snow to give her opinion.
Cadmium climbed up her front steps and sat on the porch swing. She relaxed there for a moment, lost in thought. The door behind her opened, and a voice hailed her. Athena stepped outside, her breath making clouds in the chilly air. "Hey! What in Neopia were you doing, trading your necklace for that terror? I mean, I understand, but I think Elspeth might need some convincing. She's still in shock at having spent 50,000 Neopoints for a necklace that you swapped for a 'mangy Feepit'. And before you slug me, those were her words, not mine." Ivy hovered out behind her. The Faerie Peophin sat down next to the Royal Aisha and gasped when she saw the Feepit. She placed a protective hand around her Pink Miamouse, but to both of the pets' surprise, the Feepit toddled over and gave the Miamouse a hug. The two cooed to each other and wandered off to eat more snow. Athena and Cadmium swapped amused glances.
"Well, this will certainly be a memorable Christmas," Athena declared.
Cadmium nodded in agreement. "Now, for part of my present, will you help me persuade Elspeth that I did the right thing?"
"I don't think you'll have too hard a time convincing her." Athena nodded toward the house. "Obviously, she heard the whole thing, and she's already reading one of the books her sister got her, 'How To Train Petpets'. She figured if you were going to keep the Feepit, the thing might as well behave."
"Her name's Miracle." Apparently the Feepit had already learned her name, because she pricked her ears, ran over to Cadmium, and spat a snowball into the Royal Aisha's hand. The tiny Feepit smiled cutely and ran off to rejoin Ivy in the yard, where the two petpets were constructing a snow pile that resembled a large Christmas turkey complete with trimmings.
Athena shook her head and chuckled. "Do you think they can smell the turkey all the way out here?"
The petpets, one Faerie and the other Wintery, looked up and gave huge smiles. "Cooo!" they chorused, then went back to work on their poultry sculpture.
Cadmium gave a hoot of laughter, and the two pets swung on the porch swing. The Royal Aisha started the tune, and the Faerie Peophin picked it up, snowflakes drifting lightly onto their laps.