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Khalid's Pride: Part Two


by ladyariel32

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Khalid's blue eyes widened in fury. Then, just as suddenly, his anger disappeared. It was replaced with worry as he resumed his pacing. "What am I going to do? Confront him in his box, for Neopia's sake?" He exhaled and sighed. "I'll…decide what to do tomorrow morning."

     He sat on his wooden chair and closed his eyes. His tense body relaxed and in a moment, he was fast asleep.

     

******

     "A cup of banana cream coffee and a bowl of thornberry noodle soup, please…"

     Khalid groaned. Why couldn't he escape Anya even in dreams? He worried about her in real life enough, didn't he? Neopia's dream spirit probably thought he was selfish so whoever it was decided to punish him by bombarding his dreams with Anyaisms.

     'You got that right.'

     "Yeah, well. I did not ask for a confirmation," Khalid said in a disgruntled way. "Besides, I always try to help her out, don't I? I don't just…stand around doing nothing. I've tried so hard…"

     'You didn't try hard enough…'

     "What do you want me to do?"

     'What do you think you're supposed to do?'

     "A cup of banana cream coffee and a bowl of thornberry noodle soup, please…"

     Khalid's eyes opened and he got a glimpse of Anya's impatient face looking at his. Was it morning already?

     "How about fixing up our order? We've been standing here for, like, fifteen minutes," Anya said coolly.

     "Morning, old chap!" Raekwon greeted him with bright, jolly eyes.

     Khalid looked around the Pride. No one else was around. He stood up. "It is still early morning and the Pride is closed. We don't open until late afternoon. Come again later," he said, his tone rigid and commanding.

     "I should've known you'd refuse to serve two poor Neopets like the two of us," Anya said, indicating the Lupe beside her.

     Last night's events came hurtling back into Khalid's mind. He frowned at the young Neopets and gave Raekwon the 'eye'.

     The Lupe shuddered and gave him an uncomfortable smile. "Er…the soup last night was…fantastic."

     "Tell me, Raekwon," he began coldly, "where's the money?"

     Raekwon was befuddled, as usual. He scratched his chin. "What money?"

     "You know what money I mean, Raekwon," Khalid said, his voice rising dangerously. "Cough it up!" He grabbed the Lupe by the shoulders and shook him up continuously.

     "Stop it!" Anya screamed. She seized Raekwon from Khalid's grasp. The Lupe was coughing haphazardly. "Khalid, you've gone too far! I can't believe you're doing this. And, on Christmas Eve, too!"

     "But, he stole money from the Pride!" Khalid reasoned out. "He's a bad influence and you know it."

     "You don't have any proof that Raekwon's a thief," Anya said. "Your reasoning stinks, Khalid, and SO DO YOU! Let's go, Raekwon."

     Anya stalked out of the restaurant, the skinny Lupe following her with his tail down. Khalid watched them with a sinking feeling in his stomach. He was right. They were wrong. So, why did he feel like he was the villain here? He sat back on his chair and grasped his cream-colored hair with both paws. 'What have I done?' he thought.

     

******

     "I can't believe Khalid would stoop to doing something so…so…so LOW!" Anya spat out. She and Raekwon had returned to the cardboard box with empty stomachs. But that could be easily amended with a little trip to Anya's house. Maybe her mom had finally gotten around to buying food. Or more lottery tickets. Oh, well. There was always the Money Tree or the Soup Kitchen.

     "Can't say I blame him," Raekwon replied easily. He winked at Anya. "I look like a thief." He went down on all fours and tried to look mysterious.

     Anya burst into relieved laughter. Raekwon always managed to see the bright side in things. "You're not a thief. I know it. You know it. That's all that really matters."

     "Is it?" Raekwon said softly. Anya became silent. "I didn't think so. The elderly guy seems to mean a lot to you."

     "He used to mean a lot to me," Anya corrected bitterly, "until he turned into a greedy, lying jerk. Now, I don't even know him anymore."

     "He looked like he cared about you to me, too," Raekwon said with another of his smiles. "He's just a worried geezer, that's all. He'll snap out of it."

     "What are you trying to say?" the Kyrii said, although she had a good idea what it was.

     "It's Christmas Eve, remember?" Raekwon said quietly. He looked at the sky, opened his mouth, and caught the first snowflake of the season (well, in Neopia Central, that is) on his tongue.

     Anya and Raekwon watched as a lovely layer of white snow began to gather on the ground.

     "My box isn't going to last very long in this kind of weather," Raekwon said with a lopsided grin.

     

******

     Khalid tried to forget what happened that morning and focused on getting about his business. Customers were trickling in, after all, and there were heaps of them. Neopets tended to get out of their holes on Christmas Eve, even more than on Christmas Day itself.

     "Your reasoning stinks, Khalid, and so do you…"

     Okay. So, maybe it was a little hard to forget what Anya thought of her. But didn't she understand that he only did that because he cared about her? Didn't she see how much he thought about her welfare and worried about her?

     "Khalid…"

     The Chia stopped pondering when he heard her voice. He raised his eyes just to be sure. Yes, he was right. It was Anya. She was wearing green gloves a size too large for her and a ragged pink cloth around her neck as a scarf. She had a shy smile on her face.

     "I need to tell you something," Anya said hesitantly.

     "I'm listening," Khalid said gruffly. He winced. He didn't mean to sound grumpy.

     "I'm sorry," Anya said, somewhat nonchalantly. "But I'm not saying sorry about not believing you about Raekwon because he really didn't do what you said he did," she said in a hurry. Anya stopped and looked at the floor. "I mean, I'm apologizing for myself. Maybe, I was a tiny bit harsh on you."

     "I'm sorry, too," Khalid said uncomfortably. "I was only thinking about you…but he really did look suspicious, you know." He shut up. 'Me and my big mouth,' he thought.

     "I missed you, Khalid," Anya said, ran to him, and hugged him tight.

     Khalid hugged her back and gave her a coat. "Hey, Rikki," he called. A brown Kacheek who had just finished delivering the order at a nearby table approached the counter. "Cover for me, will you? Anya and I have to go somewhere."

     "Sure, thing, Khalid," Rikki answered. She took Khalid's chef's hat off his head and placed it on top of hers. "Can I wear this?"

     "It's yours," Khalid replied while struggling into his own coat. He looked at Anya. "Come on, Anya. Raekwon is going to freeze in that cardboard box of his."

     

******

     Khalid and Anya stared at the empty cardboard box for a long time before any of them moved.

     "He's gone…" Anya whispered. She crawled into the box and found a note taped to the side with bubble gum. She ripped it off and got out. "Khalid, he left a letter!"

     "He knows how to write?" Khalid said incredulously.

     "It looks like it," Anya said, her eyes getting bigger and bigger as she went over the note. "I can't believe it!"

     "What?" Khalid asked curiously.

     Anya gave him the note wordlessly.

     "Anya,

     By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to Tyrannia! Oh, don't worry about me. I have my ways. I'll survive. I'm sorry I left you bestowing only my cardboard box. If you want, you can keep it as a souvenir or pretend it's my Christmas gift. Whenever you look at it, you'll think of me.

     Why did I leave? It was getting too cold and lonely out there. Oh, don't take me wrong. I enjoyed your company. I just thought a change of scenery would be nice. Not that I didn't like the scenery either. Ah, who cares? Never was good at this…saying goodbye thing.

     Khalid loves you. So, take care of him, will you? And, he'll take care of you.

     Merry Christmas!

     Raekwon

     P.S.

     Just because I'm a tramp and an orphan, doesn't mean I didn't get to Neoschool. :)

     P.P.S.

     I'm really sorry for making you believe otherwise, Anya, but I really did steal from the Pride. It was only 500 NPs, anyways, so don't get mad at me, Khalid! Hey, I needed NPs to buy my winter clothes, okay! And, my stomach's been rumbling for a long time, you see, so I bought a few food items, too. I won't do it again. I promise!"

     Khalid dropped the piece of paper. He stood stunned for a moment. "Why that lying, thieving rascal…" Then, he guffawed until he was lying on his stomach, snorting in the snow.

     "I don't think it's very funny," Anya muttered. "I trusted him."

     "Oh, Anya," Khalid said, trying to hold in another laugh. "It's alright. He didn't do it to hurt your feelings or mine."

     "ANYA!" a raspy, feminine voice called out.

     Anya turned to look and saw her mother, a much larger red Kyrii who was waving a lottery ticket in one hand. "Mom?" Her eyes narrowed into slits. She hadn't seen her in days. She practically lived near the lottery ticket booth.

     "Anya," her mom said breathlessly. "You won't believe it but…I FINALLY WON IN THE LOTTERY!"

     Anya and her mom started dancing and jumping about.

     Khalid smiled, stood up, and smoothed his coat. "Well, what do you know…how much did you win?"

     "Yeah, Mom. How much did you win?" Anya repeated happily. She had visions of a mansion in the clouds and servants waiting on her 24/7.

     "Five hundred Neopoints," Anya's mom replied proudly.

     Anya and Khalid both blinked.

     Khalid bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud. "What about Christmas Eve dinner at the Pride? My treat."

     Anya looked downcast. "I thought we were hitting the big time, for sure."

     "What's wrong, dear? I won!" her mom said, seeming perplexed.

     "Oh, well," Anya said cheerfully. "There's always a next time. Until then, can I have one of every dish for free tonight, Khalid?"

     "In your dreams…" Khalid said with a grin. He walked briskly back to the Pride, thinking of the wonderful dinner he was going to prepare when he got there.

     Anya put an arm around her mother as they walked behind Khalid. The snowflakes seemed to hop merrily as they fell onto the white street.

     

The End

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed reading "Khalid's Pride". It was originally supposed to be a short story but I felt it was too long to be read all at once. And, yes, it is a Christmas story. I love Christmas stories. :3 Anyway, if you have comments/suggestions, feel free to drop me a Neomail.

 
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