A First Time For Everything: Part Three
Altodar blinked open his eyes and found an excited Blue Xweetok staring at him. Altodar leapt out of bed with a startled growl.
“Blewby! How did you get in? What are you doing here?” Altodar asked, letting the fur on the back of his neck lie flat.
“Calm down, Al,” Blewby laughed. “You left your window open, and I couldn’t wait to come and tell you the good news!”
“The window... Blew, how many times have I told you not to sneak into my house!” Altodar shook his head. Then he realized what Blewby had said. “So what’s this about good news?”
Blewby grinned from ear to ear. “Since Altador Cup games have been postponed until next week, there’s a meet and greet with all the players scheduled tomorrow!”
Altodar searched his friend’s joyful face. “And this is good news because...”
“I’ve gotten us both tickets!”
Altodar tried not to let his disappointment show. But the way he shuffled his paws was enough for Blewby.
“Look, I know that you don’t want to go. But it will be fun! It’s not like you’ll be fighting crowds, because only thirty or so tickets were sold,” Blewby explained, hoping to change Altodar’s attitude.
“Blew, I really appreciate the offer, but I can always-“
“Read about the players in your books,” Blewby finished with a sigh. “Al, I’ve told you a million times that some things have to be experienced to understand. And besides, I used up my entire savings of neopoints so that we could do something fun together...” Blewby trailed off, giving Altodar the sad Puppyblew face.
Altodar looked at his friend despairingly. He couldn’t face Timu again, but yet Blewby had gone out of his way- and budget- so that the two of them could spend time together. Not for the first time, Altodar realized what a great friend Blewby was.
“What time do I need to be there?” Altodar asked with a sigh. Misinterpreting the sigh, Blewby patted Altodar on the back.
“Cheer up, Al! You won’t have to leave your books alone for too long!” Blewby grinned. “I’ll drop by here tomorrow morning.” And with that, the content Xweetok slid out the window.
“And please use the front door next time!” Altodar called after him, although he doubted that his words would have any effect. Shaking his head, Altodar headed for his kitchen in hopes of eating away his worries for the next morning.
After a quick breakfast of Blueberry Chia Treats, Altodar stood outside his house, nervously awaiting Blewby. Neighbors glanced at him in surprise. He was rarely ever seen outside, particularly this early in the morning when the bookshop wasn’t open yet.
Finally, a lithe figure came bounding towards Altodar.
“You ready to go?” Blewby asked cheerfully.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Altodar sighed. Reluctantly, Altodar followed Blewby as they began the walk to the partially destroyed stadium.
“This is going to be so amazing!” Blewby gushed as they got closer. “We’ll get to meet all the stars! Maybe they’ll even give us a demonstration!!” Blewby stopped in his chatter as they approached the stadium. “Could it look anything more like paradise?”
To Altodar, it couldn’t have looked anything more like the entrance to Dr. Sloth’s lair and his imminent doom.
They pair showed the big Grarrl bodyguard their tickets, then proceeded to walk through the tunnel leading into the stadium. Altodar could feel Blewby quivering with excitement beside him, and some of his worries slipped away. He had never seen his friend look so happy before. The Altador Cup obviously meant a lot to him. As they walked, other Neopians joined them, looking just as excited as Blewby to meet their AC heroes.
Upon exiting the tunnel, Altodar gasped. The full damage of the explosion was blindingly obvious. The stone sides of the stadium on the left were charred black and crumpling to the ground. Sunlight shone in through the enormous gap. Even now at this early hour, the Altador Cup staff and personnel of the King himself were clearing the rubble.
“Al, look! There they are!”
Altodar peeled his eyes away from the wreckage and saw a group of pets coming towards them. Within the crowd, Altodar could see the Pink Lupe who could be no other than Timu. Gulping, Altodar knew that it was too late to turn back.
The others surrounding Altodar, Blewby included, ran forward like Puppyblews after peanuts. Shaking his head, Altodar followed them, wanting to blend in with the crowd. If he was lucky, maybe Timu wouldn’t notice him.
“Al, come over here!” Blewby called. Altodar reluctantly slunk to his friend’s side. “This is Leera Heggle, Captain of Lost Desert.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Altodar muttered, nodding to the massive Kau. “You had some amazing saves in last year’s cup. I read all about it.”
“Thanks much,” Leera grunted. Then Altodar’s last words dawned on him. “Read about it? Didn’t you see for yourself?”
“Um, no. I-”
“He was sick during the finals last year,” Blewby interrupted.
“That’s too bad. Glad you’re feeling better, son,” he acknowledged gruffly.
When he had lumbered over to the next bunch of excited fans, Blewby whispered to Altodar, “Don’t mention that you don’t watch the cup to some of these guys. They’ll get offended easily, and then that crew over there will have to be picking you off the floor!”
Altodar nodded apologetically. “Sorry, I’ll be more careful.”
Blewby grinned. “No need to apologize! Come on, let’s go see if we can chat with Kreludor.”
The rest of the morning passed surprisingly quickly for Altodar. He wandered around with Blewby, mingling with the team members and other fans. It was almost the end of the session, and Altodar was beginning to think that luck was on his side.
He and Blewby began heading for the tunnel. Blewby couldn’t stop talking about all of the players that he had gotten to meet, and how he couldn’t wait for the stadium to be rebuilt.
Altodar stopped. The soft voice calling his name sounded from another time, back when he was just a pup. Slowly, Altodar turned around.
Timu was racing towards him. He braced himself, waiting for the insults to begin.
“You didn’t think you were going to leave without seeing me, did you?” she asked, grinning.
Altodar tilted his head. Why was she acting so friendly?
“Well, how are you? I haven’t seen you in ages! I was starting to think that you had forgotten about me.”
Altodar continued to stare at the Pink Lupe. Her smile slowly turned into a frown.
“Aren’t you happy to see me?” she asked, sounding hurt. “I mean, it’s been a long time, but I thought...”
“You’re not mad at me?” Altodar choked out, still shocked by her greeting.
“Mad? Why would I be mad at you?” Timu laughed, the smile returning.
“But, I, the game...” Altodar spluttered. Taking a deep breath, he continued more clearly. “I was so mean to you, when you were only trying to be nice. I thought-”
“-that I hated you,” Timu finished, shaking her head. “Altodar, you were upset after being teased. I knew that you didn’t mean it. That’s why I tried to come apologize.”
“You did?” Altodar gasped, his mouth falling open.
“But when I went back to your house a few days later, nobody was home. And then Blaze told me that you had moved...”
“What!” Altodar yelped. “I didn’t move! My family went back to Brightvale to bring back the rest of our stuff.”
Now it was Timu’s turn for her jaw to drop. “You mean I spent years searching for you, and the whole time you were in the same place?!”
“You searched for me?” Altodar asked, touched by her dedication to their friendship. But Timu ignored him and started pacing back and forth angrily.
“Blaze lied to me!” she growled, her bushy tail lashing back and forth. “He told me that your family had picked up and left without a trace! That he had watched you leave without looking back! I can’t believe he would do something like that!”
“Timu!” The Pink Lupe stopped abruptly, as if she had forgotten that Altodar was even there. “Calm down.”
“Calm down? Blaze stole our friendship! I can’t let him get away with that!” Timu’s eyes were like that of a Werelupe, crazed for revenge.
Altodar took a deep breath, and then he said something that surprised everyone, including himself. “Just let it go. No matter what we do, Blaze will always be a selfish bully. We’re together now, and that’s all that matters.”
Timu’s fierce look faded as she looked into Altodar’s pleading eyes. Then she smiled. “Altodar, when did you become so wise?”
Altodar shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it comes with age.”
Timu laughed, and to Altodar, it was the nicest sound he had ever heard.
Blewby spoke, surprising Altodar. He had forgotten all about his Xweetok friend.
“Why don’t we head over to Exquisite Ambrosia? It sounds like you two have a lot of catching up to do.”
“That sounds like a great idea.” Altodar smiled, glancing at Timu. She beamed back at him, and together the three headed out of the stadium.
For once in his life, Altodar was truly happy.