"Think about it. Those people donate to that Money Tree every single day!"
My older brother, Kougra, kept on yapping about the Money Tree. How really good things were sometimes donated there and how if we got it, then we could finally get that Desert Paint Brush my oldest brother, Tiger, always wanted.
I yawned until my little ears practically touched my back. "Listen, Kougra, there are people who stand there all day waiting for miracles like that to happen."
Kougra grinned. "But I'm stronger and faster!"
"Some of them are OWNERS."
That got him thinking.
My name is Nicky, and I'm a baby Kougra. Surprisingly, I'm not the youngest neopet in the family. The youngest is Prince, a red Kyrii. He stands out since he's a Kyrii. The rest of us our Kougras.
The annoying Christmas Kougra with the wild Money Tree plan is named... well... Kougra. And my oldest brother, a Cloud Kougra, is named Tiger.
Tiger is always the most responsible, and he's worked hard for us in so many ways. I wanted to get him a present. His birthday was coming up, and he always wanted to be Desert. However, we only have about two million neopoints in the bank, and prices always go up. We get another million, the price rises another million. We feel like we'll never catch up, the way we're going.
But I was desperate. I was the seemingly youngest and my brothers always got the best cause they were bigger. Of course, Prince is younger, but he seems older than me since I'm a Baby Kougra, and we're pretty small and short.
I never got to impress Tiger. He'd be thankful to Prince and Kougra, but he'd just talk to me in one of those baby-voices and I'd see my cardboard heart or drawn picture in the trash later, being mistaken as just junk.
"So... the Money Tree?" I asked, flicking my tail.
Kougra grinned. "We'll need more than just us, though..."
"So you want my help?"
Prince stood before us, looking thoughtful. "You want help... getting stuff from the money tree? You know how hard that can be, with the crowd and whatnot?" He seemed annoyed already at the thought.
"We really would like to get that paint brush," I begged, wringing my paws.
"Paint brush... so what does that have to do with the Money Tree, may I ask?"
"Good stuff can be there." Kougra shrugged, as if he said the phrase thousands of times already.
"Very well... I'm in," Prince agreed. Then Tiger came in through the front door just as we were about to depart. "And where are you all going?" Tiger asked.
"The M-" Prince began, but Kougra elbowed him in the stomach, so it sounded more like "The M-OW!"
"He meant the Movies, ya know, in Neopia Central," I quickly added, trying to edge outside. "Cool, can I come?" Tiger asked, looking at us in turn.
"Sorry, we... well..." I tried, and Kougra stepped up. "Actually, I'm taking Prince and Nicky to go get some snacks and hang around, ya know? Little kid stuff afterward." I nodded in agreement.
Tiger looked somewhat confused. "Yeah, okay, whatever, little bros. I'll be in the house in case you need me." The Cloud Kougra strolled down the hall and went into his room, slamming the door behind him.
"Is he... angry?" Prince gulped.
"No, we all always slam the door without noticing. C'mon, let's get going." Kougra insisted and we made our way to the Money Tree.
A large crowd, Neopets and Owners alike, we around. Some were standing noticeably nearby the tree while others were hidden unseen near buildings, or in bushes.
Some do-gooders were grabbing the junk items while people stood bored, waiting for the good stuff. Other people fought for the hardly decent stuff. Something like a Snazzy Moon Comb sent people into a frenzy.
"Now what?" Prince asked, crossing his arms.
"Now we wait." Kougra explained. We sat down a couple feet away from the tree, acting nonchalant. I could hear the happy people in the Rainbow Pool and the constant chattering of shoppers as they got out from the stores. "Ah, Billy, how ya doing?!" I heard someone yell out. I eyed a girl with her pets going into a Petpet store. Oh, petpets. I had a petpet, but he did hardly much. I wish I could get something popular, like an Angelpuss maybe. Yeah, or maybe a Cobrall. Cobralls were pretty cool. How they could wrap around something, stick out their tongue, maybe I could even teach it to danc-
"HERE WE GO!" I felt a tight paw on my shoulder as it steered me towards the Tree. Kougra was soon dragging me as he ran, Prince next to him. "Hey, slow down!" I cried out, but my yell was drowned in the sea of voices yelling. Someone had dropped by a bottle Air Faerie and all broke loose. It was like someone asked who wanted a million neopoints. Everyone was yelling and grabbing.
I lost hold of Kougra and was buried underneath the crowd. Gasping, I popped my little head out. Everyone had piled on the poor bottled Faerie. Prince emerged from the pile and was on top, swinging around a bottle. "I GOT IT! I GOT THE BOTTLE! MWAHAHAHAA!" Half the crowd walked off, looking defeated, while the other half charged at Prince, trying to grasp the bottle away.
"Hey, hey, now." A Yellow Acara stepped up. "Everyone back away from Mr. Tree. Shoo, all of you. Sorry, you were too late pondering and couldn't get the item. Maybe next time..." Everyone broke up and went back to their spots. "...lunatics. Great job, kid, you got the Faerie." The Acara addressed Prince, who grinned.
Kougra grasped my paw and we sat down again. Prince looked admiring at his bottle, the Faerie looking quite terrified.
"That'll go for a few thousand neopoints," Kougra said, sounding satisfied.
"We need a lot more, though," I sighed, and we watched the tree some more.
Ten minutes later, Kougra and Prince were asleep. I yawned and decided I wanted to hold the bottled Faerie. I wrenched it out of Prince's paws and looked inside. The Faerie looked sad and confused. My heart swelled and I couldn't take that sad face.
I don't know why, but I had to let her go. My paw reached the top, inside I was screaming to not let it go. Tiger had to see that paint brush... selling this wouldn't be much, but it would help. But before I could stop, I had popped it open.
A swirl of blue smoke surrounded me and a beautiful Air faerie was soon facing me. "Thank you, young neopet." She smiled warmly and blessed me.
In three seconds, she was gone.
I threw down the bottle in anger. So much for the money. I didn't even really care for the blessing anyway. We never really battled much.
But she seemed happy at getting out of that bottle, so I wasn't as mad as I would've been if she hadn't been happy. I lay back and looked groggily at the tree. Then I sat up, my tail quivering with excitement.
Three hundred neopoints! Someone had donated three hundred neopoints. I quickly glanced around. It was getting dark. There weren't as many people and no one seemed to notice the treasure. As fast as speeding Cobrall, I quickly ran over. I scooped up the bag of money and grinned. Three hundred neopoints closer to my goal!
I heard a soft whine and looked in its direction. A small Xweetok looked at me. She was hardly taller than me and looked rather raggedy. "No dinner tonight," I heard her whimper, as she stared at the bag. Then she began to trudge away.
So what? I found the bag first. But something was chewing away at the back of my mind. I bit my lip. This Xweetok needed the neopoints much more than I did.
"Hey, wait!" I called out. The Xweetok turned to look at me, seeming hopeful. I held out the neopoints. "Here. You need them more than me," I insisted, holding it out.
The Xweetok seemed overjoyed. "Really? I can keep it? Thank you, this'll get me something other than soup for once!" She ran off, to a group of two other Xweetoks, seemingly her brothers. She pointed at me and I grinned.
I sat back down next to Kougra, who yawned. "What'd you get, little bro?"
"I..." I began, but Prince interrupted me. "Uh... where's the faerie, man?"
I winced. "I let her go..." Then when I saw their shocked faces, I held up my paws. "But I found three hundred neopoints."
Kougra shrugged. "It's not much, but I guess it's good. Where is it?"
I winced again. "I... kinda gave it away to a poor Xweetok." I saw Prince sneering and shaking his head. "You're going soft, Nick."
"Don't call me Nick! It's Nicky!" I snarled and turned back at the tree. "I'm getting home. Get there when you found something." Kougra sighed and the two walked off.
I winced again and looked at the tree. I walked to it, seeing a rotten sandal. It might as well make one neopoint. Maybe if I got one million of those sandals...
Then it was snatched out of my hand. A ghost stuck its tongue out at me and I screamed. No, I didn't scream. I couldn't. I was frozen with fear.
I saw the ghost go and terrorize a little baby Aisha and her older Kougra brother. The two screamed and the ghost cruelly laughed.
I mustered my courage (ha, I said mustard) and began to climb the tree. "Hey, what's up, kid?" the tree asked merrily. I was a little frightened it could talk. I climbed up and peeked out of its leaves. Then I yelled a war cry and jumped down from the tree onto the ghost.
The ghost yelled as I fell on it and it disappeared. The two pets it had scared smiled at me. "Thank you, Baby Kougra," the Kougra praised me. The Aisha nodded happily. "Here's our gift to you," the Kougra continued. "It's all the money we have left. We were going to buy lunch, but you were hanging around here, so you need it most."
He held up a bag of ten thousand neopoints. My heart sped up. Ten thousand! That was enough, no, more than enough to satisfy my brothers! I couldn't believe it, I couldn't...
But that meant these two skipping lunch. And they were pretty young to be trusted with money. Maybe they were poor. Not strict poverty, but mainly poor. I found myself shaking my head. "You keep it," I surprisingly said.
The two thanked me again, handed me one hundred neopoints and walked off to Pizzaroo. I smiled happily and made my way home. But first, I went to the Gift Shop.
I peeked my little head into Tiger's room. I clutched a tiny red heart I had cut out after buying construction paper from the shop. I don't know why they call it construction paper. They never use it for construction.
"Yes, Nicky?" Tiger asked, smiling.
I sighed and held up my heart.
"How cute!" Tiger said too sweetly.
Then I began to cry.
"I wanted to get you a Desert Paint Brush, but I couldn't because I was too nice! First, we got a Bottled Faerie, but I freed her, then I got three hundred neopoints, but gave them away, then I rejected ten thousand neopoints after I saved these two pets an--"
Tiger slapped a paw on my mouth. "Calm down, Nicky," he said, not sounding in that baby-voice anymore. He sounded sincere. He lifted me onto his bed.
"You said you helped three people yesterday. I don't really care for that paint brush. The thing here is you helped out. And that's a kinda nice gift. I have everything, while those people needed help."
I wiped my eyes and looked up at him. "Really?"
"You hate my gifts, huh?"
"Of course not!"
"Then why do you throw them away?"
Tiger squinted at me. "Throw them away? Oh, no, you must be thinking of my friend's stuff. That gets fallen on the floor and mistakes happen. Yours are all in this box." He took down a box from his closet, where all my homemade gifts were stored.
I grinned. "I guess you do care about me."
"You thought I never cared about you?" Tiger sounded shocked, sad, and sorry all at once.
Tiger sat down next to me and I laid my paws on his shoulder. "I love you, Brother."
"I love you too, little bro."
Then Prince and Kougra opened the door, carrying lunch on a tray. A kazoo was in Kougra's mouth. "Oh, were we, like, interrupting something, or..." Prince seemed flustered. "Yeah, we'll go." They backed out of the room and shut the door.
Tiger rolled his eyes. "Let's go to a birthday place for some good deeds."
"Oh, and where's that?" I asked.
"The Money Tree."