Pay It Forward
Indamira generally did not like shopping. She especially did not like shopping trips. She did not like shopping trips and yet, here she was, on a shopping trip. Her owner was so the worst.
"Mama, I want to go home," the Christmas Cybunny said, her usual grouchy self. The only reason her grouchy exterior was getting this bad was because there was stuff she would much rather be doing at home (listening to arguments around the house and laughing at other people's stupidity, playing with her petpet and grooming her clay fur, eating and sleeping, a number of things) instead of being out here, shopping, where she could do none of these things. Usually it wasn't this bad. Indamira was naturally sarcastic; the grouchiness came after.
KT, her human teenage girl owner, laughed and didn't even look at her. Indamira was fine with her grouchy attitude being ignored in favor of leaving her alone, but this was not a situation she wanted to be ignored in.
"Just a little longer, Indamira," she said, looking at an object in her hands. It was dull and Indamira didn't care for it. At all. "The owner-owned markets are cheaper than the stores a lot of the time, just let me see if there are any more deals I can get on groceries--"
"You want to buy cheap food and cheap toys, I get it, but can I go home?" Indamira actually felt desperate. She rarely got desperate. This response of hers annoyed her greatly. "I'm dying inside, Mama. I don't want to be here AT ALL."
"It's only a bit longer," KT said. "How do you think I feel when I take you places you want to go?"
"Mama. I never want to go places. I just want to go home."
"Well, if you wanted to go places." KT shrugged, putting the object in her grocery basket. "That is how I would feel. What you are feeling now."
Indamira groaned. Loudly. She even banged her head against the shelf, holding it there as she tried to calm down and figure out a way to un-bored herself. Gosh, she was even making up words now she was so bored.
"Mama," she said.
"Mama, come on."
"Shhhhhhh, darling, shhhhhhh."
Indamira frowned. "Okay, that's creepy. Don't call me darling."
KT shrugged. "If that's what you want." She looked over her groceries and smiled. "Yeah, I think I'm done. Come on, time to check out."
"Finally." Indamira felt like screaming and shouting for joy, but didn't exactly feel the physical effort to do so. So she settled with mentally patting herself on the back, because her owner's choice to go check out so soon was obviously because of her own effort to get her to do it beforehand.
They made it to the register, where a blue Draik was having his items rung up by a kind Scorchio cashier. The speckled Scorchio (with freckles on her cheeks that Indamira supposed made her look cute) had a smile on her face as she totaled up the cost of the Draik's items, saying, "Your total is five thousand, two hundred, and three neopoints!"
The blue Draik nodded. "Yes, of course!" He dug through his pouch of neopoints, counting them, but after a moment frowned. "Five thousand, two hundred and three?"
"Yes, sir!" the Scorchio said.
The Draik suddenly looked distressed. Deeply distressed. "I'm four hundred neopoints short! I can't believe this! I'm sorry, so so sorry, I could have sworn I had six thousand on me..."
"Oh, it's no problem sir, we can just put some items back..."
"But I need everything here! It's important!"
KT sprang into action, which Indamira found surprising. "Excuse me, mister? You having a neopoint shortage?"
The Draik started apologizing profusely, waving his hands around like he expected that to fix everything. "I am so so sorry for holding up the line, miss, I just didn't expect this at all--"
"Hey, it's all right, no worries. How about I give you four hundred neopoints?"
Indamira blinked in surprise. Her owner hardly ever gave away neopoints (she was like the Scrooge of the family, at least when it came to frivolous spending) so seeing her owner do something like this was, to say the least, unexpected. And shocking. The Draik looked absolutely delighted.
"Really? You'd do that for me--?"
KT smiled. "It's only four hundred neopoints, my man, I would be happy to help someone in need!"
The Draik spluttered, happy beyond all possibilities. He came up and shook her hand with enthusiasm and looked like he might cry. "Oh, thank you thank you thank you, I don't know how I could ever repay such kindness, you are an angel!"
"It's fine, man, just pay it forward!" KT said. "Next time you see someone in a tight pinch, help them out on me, okay?"
The Draik nodded furiously. "Of course, of course!"
Indamira watched as KT helped the Draik pay for the rest of his things, and then as the Draik ran happily out of the store with his bags. KT put her groceries on the counter, like nothing special had just transpired.
"You didn't have to do that," Indamira said, resting her paws on the counter. The Scorchio girl rang up their items. KT hummed a sigh.
"A little thing my Dad taught me is that kindness can go a long way," she said. "Especially if you do it without expecting kindness in return. Kind of like karma, but day to day life. Paying it forward is a nice way to go, I guess."
"You do this often?" she asked.
"Yeah. Don't have to advertise it, though. What's the point in doing good if you just go brag about it the moment you finish? I don't like to be showy about nice things I do."
The Scorchio girl smiled. "Besides," she added in, "it's nice to see people be so unconditionally kind to each other! Paper or plastic?"
Larry was beyond excited. He was ecstatic. He now had all the things he and his sister needed to complete their project--the parts, the goodies, everything!
The blue Draik ran home, unlocking the door to his and his sister's neohome. He brought his bags into the kitchen and placed them on the table. His sister was sitting there, looking over some sketches for the project, and when he set his things down the white Draik looked up and smiled.
"You got everything?" she asked, positively beaming.
He nodded. "Yes, I do! You wouldn't believe it, Salista, I was four hundred neopoints short--I can't believe I made a mistake like that! But then this nice owner came out of nowhere and gave me the money I needed to get all this! She was so nice!"
"Really! What luck!" Salista stood up and walked to the table, going through the bags. "These parts are just as I described, right?"
"Of course, Sal. You're the smart one, not me. I'm just the manual labor," he said with a laugh. It had always been like this with them--Salista did all the smart, virtupet engineer science things, while Larry went out to get the stuff she needed and helped put it together, and sometimes got her food when she needed it too.
Salista looked through the parts (mostly ignoring the goodies, because those would come into play later) and nodded approvingly at each of them. "Good, good. This is just what we need for the present launcher for Jenny's birthday tomorrow! It's going to turn out fantastic!"
Larry smiled. "Great! So, when do we start working on it?"
"Soon," Salista said, going back to her sketches. She picked up the papers and shuffled through them. "There are a few more things I need to get through, and we need to allow room for any blips in the machine, so we should start in an hour or two!"
He nodded. "Got it!"
They got to work as soon as possible. It took many hours, and a few dozen mistakes to work out, but they got it done by night fall. They shot out a few soft pillows experimentally, and when they successfully fired they gave each other a high five.
"This is going to be great!" Larry cried.
"It won't be if we don't sleep!" Salista said, setting the present launcher down. "Come on. Let's go to bed so we can go to Jenny's party tomorrow."
Larry nodded. "Of course."
The next morning, they were up bright and early. They prepared the present launcher and went out just before lunch, Larry carrying the launcher and Salista leading the way with the written instructions to the party location.
"How much longer 'til we get there?" Larry asked.
"We'll get there when we get there! So stop asking, please?"
"Fine, fine. Can I get a snack at least? I'm getting a bit peckish..."
Salista opened her mouth at him, shocked. "Larry, we're going to have lunch at the party; you can wait."
"Just a snack!" the blue Draik said. "Lifting this thing is heavy work and now I'm a bit hungry! Just something to tide me over, please?"
She pondered it over. "Hmmm. Fine. Something quick, though. And not too big--you need to save room for Jenny's party!"
"Of course, of course!" He scampered over to a snack cart on the side of the street, Salista hot on his heals. There, he ordered a candy stick from the Grundo salesman, eating it with delight.
"We need to head off soon," Salista said. "We don't wanna be late."
"Yes, I know, I know," Larry said, eating as fast as he could. "One moment, please, then we can go!"
She looked over the directions. "Okay, it's a right on the market square--"
"What--where are my neopoints?" Larry looked back at the snack cart, where a yellow Tuskaninny despaired. The yellow Grundo frowned.
"Tough luck, huh? Did you lose them?"
"I don't understand, they were right here--"
The Grundo sighed. "Sorry, buddy, no pay, no eat."
The Tuskaninny looked absolutely miserable. "But I haven't even eaten breakfast yet. I'm so hungry! Please, can I have it for free and pay you back later? I'll find my neopoints--"
"Larry, come on," Salista said, catching his attention. She gestured at him to follow. "This way."
Larry paused, looking back at the Tuskaninny, remembering what the kind owner had said to him. Pay it forward.
"Hey! Hello, Tuskaninny sir!" he shouted, startling the Tuskaninny.
"Here," he said to the Tuskaninny. He tossed him a bundle of neopoints. "Keep it, use it for what you need."
The Tuskaninny stared at it, eyes wide. "I can't take this, sir--"
"No, I insist. Just pay it forward," he said, smiling, and then he followed after his sister, launcher bundled in his arms. Oh, Jenny was in for such a surprise!
Peddle was happy to have a way to pay for his food now. "And your change is two hundred neopoints," the Grundo said, giving him the rest back. "Enjoy your food, kid, you got lucky."
"Don't I know it," he said, smiling. That Draik was so nice. He didn't even get to say thank you! He should have, instead of being a stunned dork about it. That Draik didn't have to help him, but he did. Peddle was really thankful for that. People could be so nice sometimes.
He took his candy stick and went on his way; he had to return home soon, to see if his owner was back. If Joney was back then they could go do errands together. If not, he'd have to do them himself, and it was more fun to do them with Joney than without. If only Joney were around more often, but Joney had a busy life, and Peddle couldn't exactly complain--she still came around, after all.
Peddle made it home in no time flat and opened the door to the house. "Joney?" he called. "Joney, you home?"
He walked through the house, until he hit the kitchen. Taped to the cupboard was a note. He took it down and read it.
HI PEDDLE. STOPPED BY AND DIDN'T SEE YOU, SORRY, I HAD TO LEAVE QUICK TO DO THINGS WITH JOHN. OMELETTES IN THE PANTRY, YOUR FAVORITE. -JONEY
Peddle sighed. Oh well. It seemed like she didn't even remember they were suppose to do errands today anyway, she was off with John somewhere. He could do them by himself. He'd done that countless times before. Maybe Joney would be back for dinner.
With that hope in mind, and omelette in his stomach, he set off for the market to get supplies needed around the house. Cleaning supplies, building supplies for the new door they were trying to make, food, stuff like that. Maybe he could find a cool doorknob at an outlet store.
Thinking about the kind of doorknob would be coolest and fit the theme of the room (Faerieland meets Brightvale or something equally intriguing), Peddle went toward the part of the market Joney had shown him long ago that he knew had the best deals on most everything. He said most because they were still pretty pricey on high quality items like paint brushes and rare books and such.
Shopping didn't take him that long. He didn't get why some people complained about it, because if they knew what they were looking for it wouldn't take long to get in, get it, and get out. He had a bag now of items and his errands were mostly done. Now he just had to go scout for doorknobs.
As Peddle walked he passed owners and pets of all sorts. He smiled to himself, almost sadly, at a young Eyrie playing with his young owner on a patch of clear grass. He missed the good old days, sometimes, when his owner was always around. He supported her and her ambitions, though. So it was good.
At some point he saw a yellow Kyrii sitting in ratty clothes on the sidewalk, oddly alone for a nice day such as this. A second, longer look left the Kyrii appearing hungry and desperate as she looked around at others who had food, drinks, company. Peddle felt a twinge in his heart.
He had been just like that not long ago. The thought just hit him out of the blue--this morning he would have gone hungry, had it not been for the kindness of strangers.
Peddle felt a strong sense of resolve, then, which was very unusual for him. He usually went with the flow and reacted--now, though, he felt like acting.
Quickly, he pulled out a small sack and poured some of his neopoints into it. Enough to buy some cheap food in large quantities if this Kyrii played it right.
Before he could lose his nerve he walked over to her and took her hand, placing the sack in it and cupping her other hand around it. "Buy some omelettes. Omelettes are reasonably priced. Go eat on me, okay?"
The Kyrii, startled, tried to form words. "B-b-ut wh-what are--"
"It's on me," he said, smiling. "I'm just paying it forward."
He walked off, then, waving back at her. She stared at the sack and he felt easier, now, that she would get something to eat too. He felt happy for her.
She was a poor Kyrii with no home and only ever one change of clothes, so when that Tuskaninny fellow gave her that sack of neopoints she almost felt like crying.
He was off before she could, though, so that saved her some dignity. She was still surprised by the random kindness, but she wasn't complaining. Now she could buy food and maybe some nights at the Neolodge, if she spent this right.
She walked around and counted up the neopoints in the sack slowly. The crowd of Neopia Central wrapped around her lethargically, and she easily circumnavigated it even though she never once looked up ahead of her. She was, after all, an artful dodger. She wasn't queen of the dodgeball pit for nothing.
A quick trip to a market stall got her three bacon omelettes that she downed in five minutes flat. A new record. It was good to have food in her stomach that actually amounted to a feeling where she wasn't starving or hungry. She felt full up, which was marvelous.
She wandered around a little more. There wasn't much else to do by herself. Being alone was a bit tiresome, but it was better that being with people that disliked her. Did anyone even know she existed? That one Tuskaninny did. That was a miracle. And now he was gone. Bummer.
With not much else to do the Kyrii went off to the Neolodge. It was around dinner time, so they'd be serving food for the guests that were checked in. She might as well check in, see how long she can stay with the neopoints she had left (which was still a lot, that guy had given her like three hundred somehow wow).
It was a quick trip over to the local Neolodge. Choosing between cheap or pricey wasn't much of a choice, and she even got a few bonuses to play around with that night! Tennis was a fun new experience for a while until it got boring to do alone, and the Burger Bar was quite enjoyable. Great burgers, there.
Sleeping the night there was relaxing. The bed was the softest thing she could remember and for once she had a decent amount of sleep under her belt when she woke up.
Without much to do that morning, she thought about going to the Burger Bar again (they apparently had a special "breakfast burger" that was a must try for all) and walked down to the lobby to hang out a little before going over there to eat. While there she heard a loud family. A very loud family.
"Can you believe they lost our luggage? Some cruise line they are!" the owner was going on loudly. He looked very annoyed, but tried to mask it with comedy. A young Kau and Kiko, both purple, fought valiantly for his divided attention.
"Daddy when can we get into the room?" the Kiko asked.
"Daddy needs to get in contact with the bank so we don't loose all our vacation funds, honey darling," the owner said, petting her head sweetly.
"Daddy I'm tired!" the Kau shouted.
"Hey, Harry, quiet down, people are still sleeping--"
"Yeah so can I sleep?? I want to go to beeed I'm tiiirrred!"
The owner sighed. The Kyrii actually felt pity for him. "Sorry, buddy, just give me a minute, okay? We got to go to the bank to withdraw some funds..."
Both young pets groaned. "Awwww!"
At that moment the Kyrii did something she didn't expect to do ever. She offered to help them. "Hey," she said, catching the family's attention. "Hey. I. I got spare neopoints. If you. Y'know. Want to borrow them or something."
The owner looked delighted. "Borrowing! Borrowing I can do. Are you sure?"
"Yeah, man," the Kyrii said, a bit hesitant. She could do sharing. She could do caring. She could. So why was she so nervous trying to help these people? "I mean, I don't need it now, I'm already checked in for a whole month."
"Daddy, I want to sleep!" the little purple Kau whined, hanging from his owner's arm.
"Hey, hey, don't worry, just a little longer, okay?" the owner said, cooing to the young neopet. The yellow Kyrii felt out of place.
"I--I mean, I don't even need it. You don't have to worry about paying me back either."
The owner looked up. "What, really? You sure?"
She nodded. "Yeah. I mean. It's not like I'll use it. Might as well put it to good use. Pay it forward or whatever that one guy said..."
Handing the sack of neopoints over, the owner smiled at her. "You are a blessing in disguise. What's your name?"
That startled her. "My name? My name is Annelvyve."
"I'm Marco. It's nice to meet you," he said, smiling. "This little bundle of joy is Harold and that little one over there is Kiffena."
"Hi!" the young Kiko chirped. She was absolutely adorable. "You're pretty!"
Annelvyve laughed. "Nah, I'm just me. You guys have a nice day. Do... fun things. Later."
She walked away from them, ready to head out the door and go somewhere else, anywhere else. There was some whispering and conversation from behind her that she barely heard, though, and all of a sudden she felt a tug at her sleeve. She looked down. It was Kiffena.
"Hey!" the young purple Kiko said. "Would you like to stay with us for lunch?"
Annelvyve stared at her for a while, then smiled. "Sure."
"Hey, wanna play tennis?" Annelvyve asked. Harold jumped around in excitement.
"Yeah yeah yeah!"
"Cool. We can do that back at the Neolodge."
"Wooooo! Daddy, let's go back now I wanna do the tennis thing--"
"Calm down, short stuff," Marco said with a laugh. "We have to get some things to replace our lost luggage. That's why we're at the store. We need shampoo so you don't get all stinky, little boy."
Harold grimaced, disgusted. "Yuck! Bathing!"
Marco laughed. Kiffena was looking around at the candy in the aisle, falling behind the rest of the group shopping trip. Luckily that nice Kyrii was still hanging out with them! Kiffena really liked her. Maybe she'd become her new sister if she asked nicely!
"Hey Daddy! Can I get some candy?"
"Make it cheap, sweetiepie, I only have so much to work with..."
He handed her a bundle of neopoints and Kiffena was delighted. "Thanks Daddy!"
"You're welcome. Don't go too far..."
Kiffena didn't go far at all. She went to the candy drawers and picked out as much as she could carry along with the neopoints and found a basket to put them in. She was all grown up, buying her own stuff!
She went toward the check out aisle and heard some bickering. A Christmas Cybunny was talking loudly to her owner.
"How come the only time I want to go somewhere you forget to bring neopoints?"
"You made me rush, Indamira, I'm sorry--"
"Of course. Of course! Why do I bother..."
Kiffena paused. Thought. Then she smiled. She could be just like Annelvyve!
"Hey!" she cried. "Hey there, I can give you neopoints!"
The Cybunny raised an eyebrow at her. "Excuse me?"
Kiffena smiled. "For you!"
The Kiko handed her some neopoints. "Don't spend it all in one place, now!"
A bit miffed, and also feeling slightly patronized, Indamira stared at the sack, disgruntled. "Yeah, uh, thank you, but I can just run home--"
"Oh, no, I'm paying it forward! You give to people who give to other people later. Annelvyve told me so. You should try it too, it's fun!"
Indamira could only look, mouth dropped, as the Kiko floated away, humming. She did not just say that. Indamira did not just hear that. She turned around, mouth still agape, and saw KT looking at her, a maniacal grin on her face and two thumbs up in joy.
Indamira closed her mouth.
"You did not just see that," the Cybunny said.
"Oh, but I did," KT said, trying not to giggle.
"Oh Fyora no, stop, your ego is already big enough, stop."
"But I was riiii-iiiight!"
Indamira groaned. Loudly. "This is why I can't take you anywhere Mama."
She just laughed. They paid for their items at the register, and things were going along as fine as they could before KT suddenly felt a musical number come on (or something equally as disastrous).
"Kindness is the ciiircle of liiiiife--"
"Oh don't you even start."