Because He Has to Be the Best
There is really no stronger bond than between a brother and a sister. Brothers teach their sisters how to be strong and to fend for themselves, while sisters teach brothers how to unlock their sensitive side. These two siblings learn to live and play together during childhood and nourish deep friendships as they reach adulthood.
All of this is true it seems, for everybody except for the Avinroos.
Abigail has learned through her eleven years to deal with her older brother, but for her it sometimes seemed as if she were the older sibling. Very immature for fourteen, Aristotle often stayed in the basement of their Neohome for days at a time, only pausing from his marathon gaming sessions to grab a bite to eat. He wore those absolutely hideous glasses just to make himself look cooler and more intimidating. His backside seemed glued to that chair that their mother oh-so-graciously bought for him when she learned that he was the best gamer in all of Neopia. His ego was almost as big as his humongous head.
But one faithful day, all of this changed.
“Aristotle!” Abigail called from the top of the staircase. “I’m leaving!”
Abigail heard the faint sounds of medieval chimes. Her brother was probably practicing Ultimate Bullseye for the fifth time that day. He just had to beat his high score of 351, he had told her that morning.
“Please, Abby,” Aristotle whined. His voice sounded more like Boochi’s than a fully-grown fourteen-year-old Blumaroo. “I thought we went over this. Call me AAA.”
Abigail stifled a chuckle. Her brother thought that he was such a big shot, he even created a new nickname for himself. But to Abigail, he would always remain Aristotle, the boy who got picked on when he was little for having such a funny first name.
“Fine, AAA,” Abigail said with a trace of sarcasm in her voice. “I’m going with Jenny and Carrie to play Cheat!”
The medieval noises stopped suddenly. “Cheat!” yelled Aristotle. Abigail heard her brother power up his special chair and hover up the stairs. He thought he was too good for walking, as it might tire him out before a big gaming expedition, or whatever. “How on Neopia could you play such a demeaning and horrible game?”
“Demeaning?” Abigail repeated. “Cheat! is not demeaning. It’s fun.” She cracked a smile.
“I prefer more challenging games like Warf Rescue Team and The Castle of Eliv Thade,” said Aristotle, pushing his glasses farther up on his nose. “Cheat! is probably the easiest game in Neopia. Everybody can earn a trophy from that game. What’s the fun in that if you can’t be better than everybody else?”
Abigail shrugged. “At least I’m going out of the house today. I have a life and friends besides your little games. Live a little, Aristotle.” And with that, she slammed the front door shut, leaving her brother alone, hovering a few inches off of the floor.
“It’s AAA,” the Blumaroo grumbled. He sat there for a minute in silence, thinking about what Abigail had said to him. Maybe he should live a little. Maybe he should leave his Neohome and venture out into the real world. Maybe he had practiced his games enough for the day.
He powered up his chair again, opened the front door, and called, “Abigail! Wait up!”
The whispers were unavoidable. Wherever Aristotle went, he could hear people talking about him.
“Hey, isn’t that AAA?”
“I hear he doesn’t come out of his house until the Daily Dare starts.”
“That’s in the month of Running. The Daily Dare was over two months ago.”
“Maybe it’s not AAA.”
“Do you know any other Blumaroo with a floating chair like that?”
“And look at his head! It’s huge! That definitely has to be AAA.”
Aristotle hadn’t seen the sunlight (or any other Neopets besides his family, for that mother) in over two weeks. It took him a while to adjust to the light and the crowded feeling of having other Pets standing around him. It took him a few minutes before he gathered up the courage to approach somebody.
“Excuse me,” he said, addressing a yellow Zafara. “Do you know where I can find the nearest Cheat! match in session?”
The Zafara did not respond for a minute. “Aren’t you Aristotle A. Avinroo?” she asked finally.
Aristotle smiled smugly and adjusted his glasses. “Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Well, what are you doing outside during this time of year? I thought you would be preparing for the Daily Dare. Not that you need to. You’re the best gamer in Neopia.”
“I’m trying to find my sister,” Aristotle replied, trying not to seem so enamored with the compliment he had just received. “She’s somewhere playing Cheat! Do you know where I can find her?”
The Zafara tapped a finger to her chin. “You know, I do think that I saw a blue Aisha and a few other Neopets heading towards Agent 00 Hog’s mansion. I can take you there if you want.”
“No thanks,” said Aristotle. “I can find it from here. Thank you, though; you have been very kind.” He left the Zafara and heading along a path in Neopia Central, ignoring the stares and autograph-seekers coming towards him from every angle.
It was hard to miss Agent 00 Hog’s mansion. It was easily the biggest home in Neopia Central, though the Cheat! matches would have been held at Fernypoo’s castle if she were on speaking terms with her father.
Aristotle felt silly as he rang the doorbell to Hog’s mansion. Was this how everybody started their game of Cheat?
A small green Quiggle opened the door and said blankly, “I suppose you’re here for a game.”
It was sort of refreshing to see a Neopet that did not hyperventilate at one of the most famous Blumaroos in all of Neopia standing in front of him. From the looks of the Quiggle’s pale skin, it looked like as if he had left the mansion almost as rarely as Aristotle left his house. Aristotle was so surprised, in fact, that speech seemed to fail him that moment.
The Quiggle lead him into the hallway which branched out into two separate rooms. In each room, a table of Cheat! was set up and a game was in session. Aristotle immediately saw Abigail and some of her silly friends at the advanced table with Princess Fernypoo, Agent 00 Hog, and Spectre, a legend unto himself. Aristotle did not know that his sister was that good at the game.
“You’ll be starting at the beginner’s table,” said the Quiggle, knocking Aristotle out of his trance. Abigail was staring at her cards, her back facing her brother, still completely unaware of his presence. The Quiggle gestured towards an empty chair in between Little Timmy and Capara. Branston was sitting across from them.
As Aristotle walked towards the table, he heard a high-pitched squeal. “Isn’t that AAA?”
Aristotle whipped around and saw Princess Fernypoo pointing directly toward him from the advanced table. He caught the eye of Abigail, who, it seemed, was trying her hardest not to chuckle.
“What’s he doing at the beginner’s table?” asked Chuffer Bob, who was sitting out at the moment. “Shouldn’t the greatest gamer in Neopia be at the advanced table?”
“Y-Yes,” Aristotle stuttered. “I... I...”
Abigail laughed, but quickly covered her mouth with her hand.
“Come on, AAA,” said Agent 00 Hog, who had set his cards face-down and stood up from the advanced table. “You can take over your sister’s place in the game. You know, she has been telling me and a lot of my friends all about you.”
“Oh, really?” Aristotle asked. He shot his sister a look and she immediately ducked her head, but was still muffling her giggles. Abigail’s idiotic friends were joining her in the laughter. Aristotle tried to ignore them and sat down in the empty chair. Spectre, the ominous-looking red Jetsam, was sneering at him.
“It’s your turn,” he snarled. “I just laid down an eight.”
Aristotle wiped the sweat from his brow and looked at his cards. Abigail had left him with a deck of ten cards. He vaguely remembered the rules of Cheat! and knew that for his next move he needed either a seven, eight, or nine. Unfortunately, he had nothing of the sort.
He pulled a four from his hand and placed it face-down on the table. “One seven,” he said, trying to sound confident with his words. He knuckled his glasses up to his nose.
“Cheat,” Spectre said almost immediately and, without a word, Aristotle picked up the hand. He tried not to burst into tears on the spot. It was Fernypoo’s turn.
The game advanced a bit slowly until Aristotle found himself with only three cards. He had cheated a few times and even accused Hog of cheating once. He turned around to look at Abigail, whose expression was unreadable. Aristotle imagined a fun walk home, full of gloating on his part.
“One queen,” said Spectre, breaking Aristotle’s reverie.
Aristotle jumped a little bit and looked at the cards that he gripped in his hands and his heart jumped. He didn’t need to cheat; he was holding two tens. But then his eyes focused on the other card: a six. What if he played the six as another ten? Then the game would be over and his anxiety would be over. But what was the point of cheating when he didn’t have to?
“One queen,” Spectre repeated, rolling his eyes.
There were over twenty cards in the pile. If Aristotle was caught cheating, the game would be over for him. Both Hog and Spectre had less than five cards in their hands, and Fernypoo was not that far behind. He just wanted this game to be over. He could taste that sweet moment of bragging to Abigail.
He slapped his remaining three cards onto the table. “Three tens,” he declared.
“Cheat!” Fernypoo and Spectre yelled in unison.
Aristotle slammed his hands on the table. “I quit!” he yelled. “I’m not the best gamer in Neopia!” He left Agent 00 Hog’s mansion in a flourish without waiting for Abigail.
The tears started to flow as soon as he saw daylight. He did not even care that autograph-seeking fans were attacking him from every corner of Neopia.
Abigail arrived in the Neohome about an hour later, carrying a gold trophy in her hands. Aristotle was, of course, downstairs in the basement, practicing Ultimate Bullseye. She crept downstairs.
“Aristotle?” she whispered.
“Call me AAA,” the Blumaroo said, his eyes never leaving his game.
“You still are the best gamer in Neopia.”
“No, I’m not,” said Aristotle. His virtual arrow flew yards away from the virtual target. The game ended, and Aristotle only had a score of eighty-seven. “See?” he yelled, dropping his game controller onto the floor.
Abigail picked up the controller and dusted it off. “Yes, you are,” she said. “You are really good at Cheat! You just made sort of a stupid move. I saw your hand; you had two tens already.”
“I know I’m stupid,” Aristotle said. “Just leave me alone, okay?”
Abigail sighed. “All right,” she said. “But I’m leaving this here with you. You really deserve it.”
When Aristotle looked up from his game, his sister was gone. But the gold trophy was left in her place. Aristotle hesitated for a moment. Then he decided to pick it up and place it in his prized trophy cabinet, another one for his collection.