There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 173,663,018 Issue: 406 | 21st day of Hiding, Y11
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Midnight Stars


by shadowstar480

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for princezuko845, my Xweetok

A red Xweetok sat in the wet grass. He looked up at the thick, gray clouds that covered the sky. While other pets were snuggled in their cozy neohomes, Zuko sat outside.

      A cold wind blew suddenly and ruffled his fur. It began to rain: cold, icy rain that poured down in sheets and torrents. He shivered. After a few minutes, he looked around. The few pets that were outside were with their owners, wearing coats and holding umbrellas. Zuko turned away. To be honest, he was sitting outside because he did not have an owner, a home, or even a place in the world. He looked back at one group: a girl and her Kacheek. She held an umbrella over the small pet and smiled.

      A Shadow Xweetok sat beside Zuko. She looked in the direction in which he was looking and saw the Kacheek. Her heart sank. She looked back at Zuko. He sat there, unmoving. His fur was soaked with rain, and she could see him shivering. His amber eyes stared ahead, almost angrily and yet a little envious, at the blue Kacheek and the girl that was with him.

      "Come on. Let's go," she said gently. They walked slowly across the muddy ground and through the tall grass, as they were in no hurry to get anywhere. It was silent for what seemed like forever. The only sounds were the sounds of rain on the streets and the occasional crash of thunder overhead. Finally, the Shadow Xweetok broke the silence.

      "What's bothering you?" she asked.

      "Nothing, Mai," he said.

      "Was it that girl?"

      "It's nothing. I'm fine... honest."

      Mai knew that it was more than just being lonely. Zuko had been adopted when he was very young. He thought that his owner loved him. But for no reason at all, he was dumped in the pound. That very same day, his owner adopted another pet in his place. That girl had been his owner, and she had adopted that little blue Kacheek.

      Zuko could remember the pound so well. The small cages. The tasteless food. The clanging sound of metal doors. The whimpering, crying, sobbing pets. That's why he escaped. The people from the pound had chased him for a while, but they gave up before the day was over. That is when he met Mai. She was his only friend in the world. It turned out that she had been abandoned too. Her owner's favorite pet, a Faerie Uni, had told lies about things that Mai had never done. Instead of being dropped off at the pound, Mai was told to leave. And she did.

      "How did you feel when you were abandoned?" Zuko had asked her.

      "I couldn't care less. After all, why would I want to live in a big fancy house with a spoiled girl and her spoiled pets? But I do miss having a roof over my head and food in front of me whenever I was hungry. It's no use complaining, though," Mai had replied.

      Mai was fooling herself. She did miss it. Well, not as much as she thought she would. There had been so many rooms in that house that she could not find her way around. There had been an "underwater" ballroom, a dining room full of exquisite glass furniture, a library full of books, an amazing kitchen, at least ten bedrooms, guest rooms, storage rooms, bathrooms, party rooms... And out of all those rooms, Mai was given the smallest one.

      By now, the two had reached their home: a shack that technically should not have been standing. There were no windows, it was falling apart, and there was no way to keep out the cold. They ate what small amount of cold food that they had, and then they went to sleep: Mai on one end of the shack and Zuko on the other end.

     *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

      Zuko stood in the middle of a wide, grassy field. There were no trees, no bushes, no nothing.

      "Mai? Hello? Anyone?" His voice echoed, sounding unusually hollow. There was no answer. A strange noise rang through the still air. It sounded like water... Then, he saw the ocean: the beautiful, clear water.

     Mai stood ankle-deep in the water. She extended her hand. A giant wave built up behind her; yet she still stood there in the same way, her blue eyes staring calmly ahead. Zuko ran towards her. Her hand was just in reach... The wave crashed down on both of them. He could no longer see her. He fell through the water. Slowly, slowly. There were no fish or anything in the water. Where was the bottom?

     He opened his eyes. Mai was staring down at him. She helped him up and smiled. Zuko looked around. Why were they on an island? He turned to ask Mai a question and saw her staring worriedly at the sky. It was a meteor shower. Wait-what was that? A person? Falling from the clouds?

      "That looks like me-" Zuko thought. He fell backwards into the water. Falling... so slow... Was that the bottom?

      Zuko sat up and looked around. Everything was still the same. He looked across the room. Where was Mai?

      "Another nightmare?"

     Zuko almost jumped a mile high. "Mai, don't do that! But... yeah. It was."

      "I don't see what all that is about. Anyway, it's time for breakfast. Let's go."

      They started to walk in the direction of Neopia Central. Instead of buying food at the stores, they would go from neohome to neohome and ask for food. As they walked past all the shops, the smell of food only made them hungrier. Smoothies, fruit, vegetables... Sad to say, this was no turning out to be a lucky day for them.

      "Sorry, Zuko, but if we don't get anything here, then we don't get breakfast," Mai said, knocking on the door of the last house.

      A tall girl answered the door. She brushed a strand of brown hair behind her ear.

      "Um, we don't have any Neopoints or anything, so could we have something to eat?" Mai asked. The girl just looked at them for a few minutes.

      "Do you have a home?" she asked.

      "No."

      "How would you like to live with me? But... I can only take one of you. How about it?" the girl offered. Mai looked at Zuko.

      "You can go. I'd rather be... free. Like I've been for years," she said with a smile. He hugged her.

      "I'll miss you. Where are you going to go now?" he asked.

      "I don't really know, but I'll figure it out."

     *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

      Mai sat outside the little shack and gazed at the sky. She could finally see the stars. But that wasn't what caught her attention. A comet (or maybe a shooting star) flew across the black night sky, its shimmering stardust tail following closely behind the glittering ball of fire. She smiled. About nine years ago, when she had first met Zuko, she had wished on a shooting star. She had wished for a home, not for herself, but a home for Zuko. A loving home. A home where he would be treated like he should. And now, her wish came true. She did not care if she had to live in this shack for the rest of her life. Her only friend had a home, and that was all that mattered.

      That night, from his bedroom, Zuko looked out the window. He saw the lights from the other houses slowly blink out, one by one. He could hear his new owner, Shadow, turn off the lights in their house. He watched as the star slowly became visible against the curtain of black night. It was the first time he could see the stars. He had never been able to see them before because of the clouds that had masked them. But now, they twinkled and sparkled like diamonds. He had seen them somewhere before, though: in the eyes of his friend.

      "Thank you, Mai," he whispered.

The End

 
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