Thief No More
Slinking along the cool brick wall, his eyes were transfixed on his victim. Unsuspecting and unconcerned, he casually making his way down the road in the dark night by himself.
'Foolish Meerca,' he thought to himself as he watched the small pet.
The Meerca had a bag full of groceries hanging from his wrist, and was rifling through a rather large bag of neopoints, estimating its contents.
'Any moment now the time will be perfect to strike,' the thief thought as the neopet got closer.
The Kougra leaned forward, preparing to leap in front of the pet, frightening him so much he dropped his bags and scurried away.
The Meerca finally approached the perfect spot, and the Kougra spread his wings and glided out of the alleyway and halted in front of the Meerca, hissing violently. Startled, the Meerca jumped, but didn't drop his bags or run.
The thief was slightly taken aback. Most neopets that saw him, especially at night, ran for the hills. But this pet was looking at him curiously, and almost appeared amused at the Kougra's attempt to frighten him.
"Give me your neopoints, or else," the thief snarled, hoping this Meerca wasn't actually stronger than he looked.
"Or else what?" he responded, pulling his neopoint bag closer to himself. "I don't see you carrying any weapons."
"Just because you don't see any doesn't mean they aren't there," the Kougra said, showing his sharp teeth.
The Meerca didn't look threatened at all.
"Look, I don't have time for this. You obviously were hoping that I'd be so terrified of you that I'd run for my life, leaving my valuables behind. You're no threat, really. I could outrun you in an instant, even with those wings of yours."
"You are afraid of me! Everyone is! You just don't want to admit it!" The Kougra was losing his patience. What did this neopet know, anyways?
"No, I'm not; neither is anyone else anymore. You're so well-known around here; nobody's concerned about running into you anymore. They all know you never actually hurt anybody," he explained.
"What do you mean?" he snarled back.
The Meerca sighed.
"Your name's Tide. You stay out at night and hide in the alleys of Neopia Central, and scare Neopians to take their neopoints. But you don't do a very good job of hiding your identity during the day, and I've seen you in the shops and marketplace enough to know that you actually aren't a real thief, and you even have an owner. You simply enjoy feeling like you're still an independent street pet, when you really aren't."
Tide had had enough. He snarled again, and leaped at the Meerca. He jumped to the side, and Tide fell. The Meerca laughed.
"Face it, buddy. You're just not the neopet you used to be. Go home and eat supper with your family, instead of terrorizing innocent passers-by. It's where you belong now."
Before Tide could reply, the Meerca turned and sprinted off down the street in a green blur. Tide thought about chasing after him. He might be able to keep up if he used his wings, and he could show that know-it-all Meerca how wrong he had been.
But had he been wrong? When was the last time Tide pulled a successful night of robbing pets of their neopoints? Not since before Halloween, and now it was the month of Celebrating. It was true. There were many pets that lived in Neopia Central, but his name was still known. There weren't a large number of Halloween Kougras around here, not to mention his unusual red eyes which only helped set him apart from the rest. Deciding he wasn't in the mood to wait for another pet, he headed for home.
His family was surprised to see him home so early; he usually didn't come home until close to midnight.
"Hey, Tide. What are you doing here? It's not even 7:30! We were just eating dinner," his sister Kelly explained as he walked into the kitchen.
He glanced blankly at the white Wocky, who was smiling at him. He just shrugged.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked.
"Of course not, there's some food left on the counter, get a plate and take what you want," she said.
Tide did what she said, and sat down across from his other two sisters, Daliell and Marcia. They all ate in silence and Tide could sense the awkwardness his presence brought surround the table.
They all finished quickly, and as Tide was about to go to his room, Kelly stopped him.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Upstairs," he answered.
"Not until we finish cleaning the kitchen!" she said.
He stared at her confusedly for a moment.
"What do you mean?"
"We all help to clean up after dinner. Since you're here, it's only fair that you help too, don't you think?" she said.
"Sure, whatever I guess," he muttered. "What should I do?"
"Well, we all clear our own plates and bring them to the sink. Daliell usually washes them, I dry, and Marcia puts them away." The Wocky tapped her chin thoughtfully while glancing around the kitchen trying to think of some way for her brother to help. Tide couldn't help but roll his eyes at her.
"I know. Why don't you wash the table and countertops? We usually rotate turns doing that," Kelly decided, handing him a wet cloth.
"Okay," he replied, and did as she said.
He felt at ease as his three sisters talked amongst themselves as he wiped down the table. Somehow, it was much nicer spending time at home with his family than being out prowling the dark streets alone.
When everyone finished, Daliell and Marcia left the kitchen. It was just him and Kelly. Kelly was putting some leftovers in the fridge. Tide was thinking about what the Meerca had said to him earlier, and decided to find out if it was true.
"Kelly... do you find me threatening? I mean, obviously not towards you but... in general to others? Or am I a joke?" he asked.
Slightly surprised, she glanced at Tide for a moment, but then turned back to the refrigerator.
"Um, why do you ask?" she replied.
"I was trying to... frighten this pet earlier and I had no affect on him. He said I wasn't the same," Tide admitted.
"Well, I don't know. Those color contacts of your certainly aren't as terrifying as you think they are but other than that, you're just like any other Halloween pet I know." She shrugged.
"Hmph. What am I supposed to do if I can't rob- I mean scare pets?" he asked.
"Why do you have to scare them? Why can't you act like a normal, kind neopet with a family? You don't live on the streets anymore, so why bother pretending? We all know behind those glowing red eyes is a happy, caring brother," she said.
With that, Kelly left the kitchen, leaving Tide to his thoughts.
* * *
He was in the alleys again. But he wasn't being quiet, and he wasn't watching the streets. Tide was simply wandering, wondering what he could do to amuse himself. He hadn't realized until recently that he didn't exactly have friends, and it was actually kind of lonely out here. He hadn't bothered attempting to steal or scare anyone for several days now, but he also refused to stay home with his sisters. As much as he loved them, he still felt obliged to get his old reputation back.
It was mostly Kelly; the annoying Wocky was so smug with her dorky expressions and clever comebacks. She knew he wasn't a real thief, and he wanted to prove her wrong more than anything.
'But she's right, isn't she?' he thought to himself.
Why did she have to be so smart? Tide growled in annoyance. He hadn't accomplished anything by coming out here, and it was freezing. Tide pulled his blue jacket tighter around himself, and tried to stop shivering. He felt something wet on his nose, and he looked up. It was snowing.
"Snow, already?" he yelled out loud at the cloudy sky.
"How can it be snowing? Is it winter already?" He paused. It had been the Month of Celebrating for a while, hadn't it? When was the Day of Giving?
Tide made his way out of the alley and into the Plaza. He walked to the bank to find a calendar. It was closed, but he could see a calendar through the window.
"It's the 24th day! Doesn't that mean Christmas is tomorrow?" he said out loud.
Of course it was. How could he not have noticed? Looking around, Tide saw that there were holiday decorations everywhere. He thought back to when he had come home early the other night. Had there been a tree in their living room? He hadn't noticed; he rarely went in there. But that explained the strings of lights outside his neohome. His sisters and owner had probably decorated on a day he wasn't around. He rarely was around.
Tide turned around and walked the other way. He wasn't sure where he intended to go, but as he continued to walk, he noticed his paws seemed to be bringing him home. He was tired of this life, and suddenly just wanted to spend Christmas Eve with his family.
When he was within a block of his neohome, Tide thought he heard the sound of small sniffling coming from nearby. He stopped to listen, and realized someone- or something seemed to be crying.
Normally, he would've shrugged it off and let the creature get over it on its own, but Tide suddenly felt pity for this creature. Whatever it was was alone in the cold on Christmas Eve, and he felt that there was something wrong with that.
Tide followed the sound to a bush, and inside he found a small Feepit curled into a ball in the snow. It looked up when he approached, and when the petpet saw him, let out a small shriek of fear and scrambled as far back as it could.
Tide started to snicker, but stopped himself.
"It's okay, I won't hurt you," he said to it.
It took some time, but eventually the Feepit crawled out of the bush and into his arms.
"I guess I can take you home with me," he said, more to himself than the petpet, and continued down the road.
When he walked through the door of his neohome, his entire family was in the living room, laughing and talking around the Christmas tree.
Tide walked in with the petpet, smiling warmly. It wasn't just his sisters, but all the pets from all his owner's accounts were there. They all greeted him happily.
"Tide, I was afraid you wouldn't be here tonight! You seemed like you forgot about our family all coming together," Daliell said.
"Well, I'm here, aren't I?" he replied with a grin.
The blue Kougra's eyes fell to the petpet in Tide's arms.
"You got a Feepit?" she asked, confused.
"Um, no, actually I found it huddled beneath a bush by itself, and I was afraid it might not survive the night in the cold so I, ah... rescued it," he explained sheepishly.
"Aw, she's so cute! Can I keep her, Tide?" Marcia asked, running over to him.
"Sure, why not?" he asked, letting the Ixi take the petpet.
Marcia hugged it gently, smiling broadly. Tide couldn't help but chuckle.
"Thank you, Tide! This is the best Christmas present I've ever received! I'm going to go leave her in my room to rest!" she said, flapping her faerie wings in excitement.
Before he could say anything, she flew out of the room and up the stairs. He sighed, but couldn't seem to stop smiling. Kelly walked over to him, grinning.
"That was a nice thing you did; for both Marcia and the Feepit," she said.
Tide shrugged as though it were nothing.
"Well, the thing was crying and all, I just thought it'd be better off here," he explained.
Kelly didn't stop grinning, but Tide didn't really mind.
"It's okay. I always knew you weren't really evil," she said.
What could he say? She was right, after all.