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Christmas at Home


by shadowcristal

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He had seen them even before they had set sight on him. Owner and pet, happily walking, would soon arrive. The door opened, and he lost sight of them from that little window in his room. But he knew that soon, very soon, they would see him. He sighed as he looked at the sign, which confirmed the miserable place he was in... The Neopian Pound.

     He hung his head as he heard the two of them entering the hall that he was in. The memories... It hurt too much.

     That happy laughter, those flipping fins... It was all coming back. He shivered as he recalled the memories of his previous owner and sibling.

     "From now on, you'll live together with us. Forever and always." Malena smiled.

     But she had been wrong. Once the excitement of a new pet wore off, he was trashed and discarded. They put him in a place where he would be hidden and never thought of him again.

     It had been his first and only time with an owner and a family. After that experience, he had decided never to trust anyone ever again. They'd all just hurt him anyway...

     He shuffled his feet as he watched the conversation of the owner and the guide. He shook his head sadly. Every move that she made reminded him of Malena, the one who had finally put him in the Pound.

     "Oh, him?" the Usul asked.

     "Yes," the dark-haired girl replied to her guide.

     "He's quite troublesome," the guide said, pointing a narrow paw to his cage.

     "He sure doesn't look like it," the Malena-look-alike said.

     "An Ice Bori, huh?" the girl's pet, a Royal Bruce, commented.

     "I suggest that you shouldn't get close to him... He bites," the Usul said, gritting his teeth, "Hard."

     "Oh, we'll be all right, won't we?" the girl asked her pet as if she hadn't heard what the guide said. "Besides," she added, "Think of it as a Christmas gift or a good deed. I'm sure a pet will be happy today!"

     "Yeah!" the pet agreed as they walked towards him.

     The Bori sighed. That optimistic girl was like anyone else. He had met lots of cheerful owners, and they all left his space less happy than before. With such a naive girl, this would be a piece of cake.

     Then again... She did look a bit like Malena. The Ice Bori nodded solemnly as they approached. He would have to use his good judgment now.

     "Hi," the girl said happily.

     "Hello," the Royal Bruce said. "What's your name?"

     "Trub," the Bori said grumpily.

     "Would you like to live with us?" the owner asked, beaming at him. It really didn't make his decision easier.

     He had promised that he wouldn't trust again. There were just too much risks... and they weren't worth taking. The Bori scoffed and turned his head around.

     "I guess that means we're rejected, huh?" the girl said, turning to her pet.

     He had to admit it to himself. He didn't really want to be adopted. But then again...

     The shouts and taunts of those pets in Neoschool echoed in the Bori's mind. They had called him all sorts of things because he didn't have an owner. But it was better to be alone and unwanted than to get stuck with a bad owner. Malena's face came right to his mind as he stared into that dark-haired girl's eyes.

     "Well, why don't we ask the front desk?" the girl said cheerfully. "Oh, how rude I was! I forgot to tell you about myself! I'm Marina, and this is my pet Linda."

     He cringed when he heard her name. The Bruce saw an opportunity and grabbed the Bori. Together, they sauntered to the front desk, dragging the motionless Bori behind.

     "I'll adopt him," Marina said when they reached the desk of the Pink Uni.

     The Uni took out a bunch of papers and put them in front of the girl.

     "Just sign here and he's all yours," the Uni said as she took out a file from a big box. "And here is his history," the secretary said as she handed over more paper to Marina. "Mind you, it's a very sad story..."

     "Thank you. We'll look through these later. It's Christmas, you know?" the girl said cheerfully.

     As they walked out of the building, both Marina and Linda took ahold of the apathetic Bori's paws.

     "From now on, you'll live together with us. Forever and always." Marina smiled.

     -

     The snowflakes whirled in the air as they walked home. His new home. Despite that promise, Trub couldn't help but to feel a little bit excited.

     "That's the forest we play in, in the summer," Linda said, pointing to a homey forest just around the corner. The Royal Bruce was explaining everything about the neighborhood to him, and she was enjoying every second of it.

     However, Trub didn't like it every much. He remained grumpy and cold as he reminded himself of the promise. On a cold winter day, they had left him there...

     "Look! This rock is the mark of half the road to Neopia Central and the Pound!" the Bruce exclaimed as she pointed to a big, silvery rock with an X on it.

     The Bori stiffened as he saw it. The memories all came rushing back, hitting him full-force on the nose.

      "That's halfway to the Pound," John the Disco Bruce said.

     "And?" the naive little Ice Bori asked.

     "You can go by yourself the rest of the way," his brother told him coldly.

     "But John, weren't you supposed to follow me?" Trub asked, his vision blurring. They had told him that they would abandon him, but he didn't expect it to be this quick... and John, being mean to him...

     "You're a little brat. Anyway, she didn't say that I had to follow you all the way. Don't be a crybaby!" the Bruce shouted as he walked back to his home.

     The little Bori suppressed a sob as he stared at his has-been brother, slowly promenading home as if nothing had happened, as if no little pet had been abandoned... Then he turned his head and stared at the rock as the image fixed in his mind. The feelings were just too much for someone as tiny as him...

     "I promise... I can't trust them anymore!" he called out in the dark night. When the echoes had all died, Trub slowly started to walk towards the Pound. His new 'home'.

     "What is it, Trub?" Linda asked as she saw the Bori walking faster. "Ooh! I know! You're excited that we're going home, aren't you?" She smiled.

     He groaned. Apparently the pet was every bit as cheerful as her owner.

     "That's great! We'll be home soon!"

     -

     "Deck the halls..." Marina sang as she ordered the pets around to touch up the last Christmas decorations.

     "What date is it today?" the Bori asked as he hung some sparkly thread from the windows. He knew that he hadn't spent a very long time in the Pound, but just being there had made him lose track of the time...

     "Funny that you should ask," Linda smiled. "It's the 25th today."

     "Christmas?" Yet another memory came to mind as he helped to place the big star on top of the Christmas tree.

      "Wanna help with the Christmas decorations?" Malena asked.

     "Don't bother," the Disco Bruce said, "He'll be out here in a few days anyway."

     "Oh... Sorry Trub, I forgot." The girl looked down.

     "It's okay," the little Bori lied as he shuffled his feet.

     "There! We're all done!" Marina beamed as she stuffed away the ladder in a tall closet. "Meeting in one hour, the living room. Until then, do whatever you want!" She walked away to the kitchen, humming some more Christmas carols.

     The Ice Bori walked away to his room, reminiscing more memories of his past.

     Please... If they just wouldn't be so kind to him... Then he wouldn't have to feel so cheated and disappointed. That kind face, that warm smile... It all melted together... Tears fell on the carpet as the Bori slowly wandered around. But there was no place for trust in his heart.

     -

     "Here!" the owner smiled happily as they gathered in the living room. "The secret Santa has brought us some presents!"

     Linda grabbed Trub's hand and dragged him to the big sack that was standing in front of the Christmas tree.

     "Thanks, Santa!" they called out, and the Bori could do nothing but join in.

     The Royal Bruce practically threw herself over the presents, giving little shouts of joy here and there. But Trub stood there and stared at the mountain of packages. He felt a great sadness welling up inside him.

     Why were they so nice? Those... That face had already betrayed him once before, gotten rid of him... There was no way he'd...

     "C'mon, Trub!" Linda called out. "You open some too!"

     That was the straw that broke his back. Desperate, the Bori rushed to the door and ran outside. The cold blizzard hit him everywhere and slowed him down, but he just couldn't stay there anymore!

     "It's so hard," he thought as he ran past the odd rock and the forest. "So hard to not trust them... They seem so nice... But... NO!"

     He ran towards his escape, the little paper box behind the Pound. That place had been his special place to think, to be himself...

     He ran faster and faster, blinded by the blizzard and grasped by panic until he was tired. It felt good to run away from everything...

     He just didn't know how to act or what to do... They were so nice! But there had to be something under it... People just weren't nice for no reason.

     He sniffled as he landed in the big pile of snow that covered his beloved box. After a few moments, he heard an odd noise and realized that he had squished the box. The Bori quickly got up and grabbed something. He waved it around twice to shake off the snow, then saw that it was his box. Only it was much flatter than before...

     Trub sat down in the snow and watched the snowflakes drifting. He closed his eyes and recalled the memories of his first owner. Since he was already feeling pain, more wouldn't hurt.

     Suddenly he realized something. The Bori realized it. Marina and Malena weren't alike. Even though they seemed to have the same face and almost the same name, they were different. Malena was so indecisive, and John always made the decisions for her in the end. Marina was happy and pushy, carefree and strong.

     The Bruces weren't alike either. John took everything to his advantage, only being nice when he would get something out of it. Linda was sweet and a little bit like her owner.

     No. His owner.

     The Bori smiled as he reached a decision. They were completely different, the two families... Even though they seemed similar.

     "Beauty is only skin deep," Trub thought as he got up.

     Then it hit him. He had made that promise... No, he believed this way too easily, leaving his precious trust in the hands of a stranger and a pet... What if he got hurt again?

     The Ice Bori slowly strolled back as the feelings rushed in his body. He had to decide soon... if he would go back...

     "Trub!" a crisp, clear voice rang through the air. He stopped, and saw the duo coming. Owner and pet, happy as always.

     The image of Malena and John came to his mind as he sat down and waited.

     "I'm so sorry," Marina apologized as she skidded and landed in front of the Bori. "I didn't realize..."

     "It's okay," Trub lied.

     "Give it another shot, if you want," the Bruce told him hopefully as she handed him a flower made out of snow. "I made this for you."

     All those nice, warm feelings made it really hard. He shook his head violently. Marina and Linda looked disappointed, but they stayed there, holding onto their futile hopes.

     "I give," Trub said. "Well, you aren't them."

     "Bad memories can be replaced," Linda said wisely.

     "But it won't be easy," the Bori told them somberly.

     "Of course it won't," Marina said. "I know this will be a challenge for you, but try your best and we'll meet halfway, okay?"

     Trub nodded. He looked around and realized that he had leaned against that odd, silvery rock. The carved images seemed to smile to him, cheering him on.

     He was lucky... He had gotten a second chance.

     "I promise... I'll try my best," Trub whispered as he smiled. Finally! The warm feelings that he had been holding in, trying to keep his first promise, now rushed around his body. Then he realized something.

     "The Christmas Dinner... I made us miss the Christmas Dinner..." the Bori whispered weakly. Using 'us' felt good.

     "Aw, Christmas isn't over yet!" Marina said happily. "There are still another few hours left!"

     "Now let's go back and open the rest of the gifts!" Linda grinned as she helped the Bori up. He grinned back.

     Together, the owner and the two pets walked home under a bright, starry night. One star shone especially bright.

     "Don't forget the true message of Christmas... Spread the happiness!" The star twinkled.

The End

 
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