Art by hazellauretta
"That's it! I've had it with you." Keion's yellow button eyes shone with the light of anger. "I'm leaving!"
He spun around and disappeared into the dark hallway, his heavy footsteps echoing in the kitchen, where his owner and little brother stood in shock. Wide-eyed, the thick pelted baby Gelert glanced up at his owner's face. Tears glistened in her brown eyes, she sighed, the weight of the argument slowing her movement to clear the table of the dishes.
"What should I do now?" she mumbled, her voice barely audible over the rushing water of the tap.
"Do you really think he's going away?" The Gelert tugged nervously at his collar, which suddenly seemed too tight.
"I-I don't know. Romero, please go upstairs and play quietly in your room." The girl's dark hair hung over her face like a curtain, and only the sound of water and the clatter of plates remained.
With a sweeping motion, the Blumaroo Magician Cape was tied swiftly around his neck, and Keion snatched his knapsack off his bed. He glanced around the dark room, illuminated only by the light of the streetlights outside. The eerie glow cast on his toys, books, and furniture caused him to shiver slightly, and the Blumaroo ran over a checklist in his head.
Sounds of footsteps and the creaking of the stairs jolted him out of his thoughts. With a deep breath, the Blumaroo gathered his courage. In a blink of an eye, the window was pushed open quickly and with his powerful tail, Keion propelled himself out of the second storey window.
Romero reached the top of the flight of stairs, his tail dragging on the cold wooden floor. The hallway lights were always off nowadays, to conserve energy. The Gelert padded silently past a few rooms, stopping in front of his older brother's room. Lowering himself down to his belly, Romero peered into the crack underneath the door. He could barely see anything, and a cool breeze tickled his moist nose. He knocked quietly.
"Keion? Are you alright? Would you like to talk?" he said hopefully, his tail wagging slightly. The corridor was silent, and the darkness gave him a foreboding feeling. There was no response.
"Um, okay then. Anytime you want to talk, just come find me," Romero turned and continued down the path to his room. The bright, welcoming light came on, and he shut out the gloomy atmosphere of the rest of the neohome.
The dark night blew a cool autumn breeze; it seemingly relieved Keion of his hot temper. He pulled his cape closer to his blue plush body, and followed the sidewalk out of his neighbourhood. The fallen leaves swirl around his feet, and chilled his toes as he planned out his way to a small establishment in Neopia Central. The Blumaroo raised his eyes to the sky, noting the position of Kreludor. It wasn't that late yet, the moon wasn't at the peak of its majestic arc through the sky. A lone carriage clattered past him on the road, its tailwind causing resistance in Keion's path. His cape fluttered wildly behind him as he made his way through.
The street lamps lit his way, as he walked deeper into the city centre. A few busy Neopians were leaving shops, headed the opposite way, into the residential area. Keion turned at a few corners, finally reaching a quaint little coffee shop in a sheltered street. The jingle of the hanging bell indicated Keion's presence, and the chocolate Ogrin at the counter glanced up from his occupation. The first thing the Blumaroo noticed was the strong scent of coffee that hit him as he escaped the cold and into the warmth of the building. His fur tingled slightly as the cosy feeling was invited into the depths of his plush body. The place was almost empty, with a couple chatting away at the corner seat with their drinks. Keion headed to the counter, where the Ogrin had already returned to shining the mugs.
"How's my favourite plushie Blumaroo doing?" he said, without taking his eyes off his work.
"Not fine." Keion stared at the glasses lined up on the shelves behind the Ogrin. Beams of light reflected beautifully off the rounded shapes, and the radiance danced on the walls. "Estraton, I-"
"You got kicked out of your Neohome and you need a place to stay." The Ogrin finally looked up, his amber coloured eyes looked straight into Keion's.
"Well, I didn't exactly get kicked out..." The Blumaroo fiddled with his paws.
Estraton returned to his work, shrugging off Keion's reply. "Doesn't matter to me. You can crash with me. What are friends for, after all?"
Tick, Tock. The antique clock's hands stretched to their highest point. 12:00 am. The place was empty by now, and the lone chocolate Ogrin entered the back rooms. He left alongside the plushie Blumaroo, stepping into the cold night. The jangles of keys were heard as he securely locked up the coffee shop, as requested by his boss every night.
"Thanks again." The Blumaroo struggled to keep up with the Ogrin's steady stride, and his feet shuffled among the piles of dead leaves on the pavement.
"It's not a problem." Estraton's response was brisk. "Although another friend is also staying with me at the moment, I'm sure she won't mind."
"You never said you had so much on your plate!" Keion's ears bounced up as he looked worriedly at his friend, "Maybe I should go now..."
The Ogrin tossed his chocolate mane. "Don't bother, see? That's my place over there."
Click. The unlocking of the door jolted the Blumaroo out of his thoughts. As Keion apologized unconsciously again for the umpteenth time, Estraton ushered his friend into the Neohome. Light spilt into the unlit hallway from a room farther in, banishing the darkness into the corners. As they entered that room, they were greeted by a Shadow Poogle, reading a magazine on the couch.
"Layla, it's late. You should have gone to bed already." Estraton tossed his coat on the couch and headed into the kitchen. "I'll go get something warm for us to drink."
Layla, the Poogle, nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders. "I was waiting for you to return!" she shouted after him.
She turned and winked at Keion. "It just wouldn't seem right to go to bed before my host got back from work, isn't that right?"
"I guess not," the plushie Blumaroo replied. "By the way, I'm Keion. Estraton allowed me to stay over tonight. I hope you don't mind."
"It's fine, not my house." The Poogle shifted in the couch and pointed to herself. "Layla. Nice to meet you."
In an attempt to create conversation while the chocolate Ogrin was busy in the next room, the two chatted about things that don't really matter. Then they talked about something that mattered a little more to the both of them.
"Why are you staying with Estraton anyways? Did you get kicked out too?" Layla raised her eyebrows, her sweeping gaze seemingly analysing the Blumaroo inside and out. He shook his head negatively, asking the same of her.
"I got kicked out," she said bluntly.
The young Blumaroo couldn't believe what he heard. What kind of owner would lock a pet out? The shadow Poogle smiled wryly.
"Don't worry about it. It's not my owner's fault I had a party and broke a few lamps and stuff." Layla looked around as the chocolate Ogrin re-entered the room with three mugs. "It'll be okay. He has a bit of a temper, but I'll go back and work things out in the morning."
She smiled as the Estraton approached and thanked him kindly. The pleasant smell of the hot chocolate engulfed the room, and the Ogrin took a seat beside Keion. They sat quietly under the protective cover of the Neohome. The wind began to howl outside and tree branches tapped lightly against the windows.
The night passed slowly for Keion. Estraton and Layla both retired upstairs for the night, while the Blumaroo stayed in the guest room on the ground floor. Sleep came difficultly for him as the shadows of the tree against the street lights skipped wildly on the walls. The night stretched slowly into morning, dragging the pale moon downwards. The sun had not risen yet, and the sky was a vivid blue, illuminating the whole room that same cold colour. Keion awoke, startled, feeling as though he hadn't slept at all. The guilt had eaten at him inside, and the creatures hunted him in his dreams. How could I have been so cruel to her, my owner, who cares for me?
He stumbled off the bed, grabbing his cape and bag off the chair. Heading out into the hallway, it was very early, and the Neohome was silent. He turned into the living room, meaning to leave a note for his premature leave. What shocked him was the shadow Poogle, already up at this time, and staring absentmindedly out at the deserted street.
Layla heard him coming and turned. "Good morning, Keion," she greeted him warmly. "Are you leaving so soon? Estraton hasn't even gotten up yet."
"Most Neopians don't get up this early," he mentioned, "and I'm afraid I really have to get home as soon as possible." He moved towards the pens and a notepad that were strewn across the coffee table.
"Oh, I know. I was just thinking." She quickly glanced outside. "No need to leave a note, I'll just tell him where you've gone. He'll understand."
Keion looked in the direction of her gaze. "Thank you, Layla. I'll make sure to thank Estraton later myself, but I've got to go."
As he bounced out of the Neohome, he said a "Bye!" behind him, shutting the door quietly to avoid awakening his kind host. The Poogle watched him out the frosted window until he disappeared from sight.
The plushie Blumaroo's brisk walk slowed down immensely when he reached the street of his home. The sun's rays broke out of the horizon of the sky, basking everything in an orange glow. Despite the warmness of the colours, the morning air remained cold. It got colder still, when Keion reached his own doorstep. Unlocking the door, he turned the icy bronze knob and walked into the Neohome.
The stairs creaked as he made his way up them. Upstairs, a door opened. Keion froze in his tracks, eyes wide. Swallowing his pride, he continued his path to the top, to where his owner awaited.
Her eyes sparkled when she saw him return that early morning. Her oldest, a rebellious plushie Blumaroo, was climbing the stairs slowly and steadily. When he reached the top, she rushed to embrace him, whispering the words she's been planning to say all night.
Hearing the commotion, Romero sleepily arose from his bed, and peeked out of this room. His elder brother was there at the top of the stairs, hugged by their owner. The sleep shaken out of him, he leapt towards his family and joyfully joined into the reunion.