The Perfect Negg
Aimee stood outside the Snowager's cave, sucking away at the straw of a lime slushie. In her other paw, she was holding a jelly slushie belonging to Crystal, a Bruce that had been best friends with Aimee for years. The Blumaroo watched as Crystal came staggering out of the cave, gasping for breath.
"That was scary... but cool..." she panted. "He opened his eyes... looked right at me... and went back to sleep! I love this adrenaline rush. Why don't you try it?"
"No way. I don't fancy risking my life at all." Aimee handed the jelly slushie back to Crystal, whose paws were still shaking, resulting in her spilling a bit of slushie and staining her pink fur. As always, she didn't seem to care, so they started walking towards the Neggery.
"But the Snowager's never eaten anyone before! I'm sure it's safe," Crystal - who had her breath back by now - reassured her friend, even though she knew it was no use. Getting Aimee to go into that cave was like relying on a Korbat to fly you up to Faerieland.
"Well, you know what I'm like. I keep my fun limited, but in a safe way, unlike some people." Aimee winked and laughed, encouraging Crystal to laugh along with her.
"I must remind Kyle to take me to that weapon shop to get equipped for fighting Balthazar next week," Crystal thought out loud, when the weapon shop slipped into her view.
"You need weapons to fight an inflatable piece of furniture?" exclaimed Aimee.
"Umm, I mean the real Balthazar," Crystal muttered, rolling her chocolate-coloured eyes. "Why else would I be going to the Haunted Woods next week?"
"Oh, so you're going, then." Aimee hid her embarrassment by speaking casually and calmly, but Crystal saw the Blumaroo's yellow cheeks turn a very light shade of pink.
"Yeah, of course. I started training as soon as I decided that I wanted to fight him. I've become quite nervous over the past month, but it'll be OK."
"It will be OK, don't worry," Aimee told her, sounding quite surprised. It was unlike Crystal to be nervous.
The Bruce's owner, Kyle, had brought her up to be as adventurous and daring as she was. He had trained her well since he adopted her and he was willing to travel anywhere in Neopia for his two Bruces, the other being Stalacto - a spotted Bruce that had been treated equally, and who was well-known as Crystal's big brother. Crystal was so strong that she was the most popular pupil in her school's P.E. department, and as Stalacto was nearly as strong as her, he was pretty popular, too. Stalacto was slightly weaker simply because he wasn't so risky. He didn't like venturing into the Snowager's cave and sliding down the side of Terror Mountain as much as Crystal did. Therefore, he wasn't ready to fight Balthazar, but a few months ago, Crystal had announced that she was. Kyle had given her as much support as possible, as he knew that it meant a lot to her. She had never fought anyone so giant and so tough.
After chucking their slushies in a nearby bin, Aimee and Crystal arrived at the Neggery. They smiled and said hello to the Negg Faerie as they walked past the counter, and the Negg Faerie did the same. They went to the Neggery so often that the Negg Faerie knew them both quite well.
"I can't wait to afford a Faerie Queen Negg," Crystal said as they wandered past them. "They must do something really good to have the Faerie Queen on them."
"Yeah, but they're 57 tokens." Aimee sighed. "I suppose we could try trading in enough Neggs for that many tokens. Maybe if we start saving more, taking more back here or just buying some with Neopoints and then taking them here, we might get more tokens."
"We'll never manage to keep that going, though," replied Crystal.
"You just aren't optimistic enough!" Aimee laughed. She stopped laughing as she caught sight of something. "Hey, what are those?"
At the back of the shop, there was a shelf full of orange Neggs, with gleaming white teeth. As soon as Crystal looked at them, they instantly hypnotized her. She thought they looked beautiful, with their lovable smiles, even though that was their only facial feature. And that was one of the reasons why they had captured her eyes for so long. She liked the idea of them only having mouths, unlike other Neggs with faces. The colour of them was like the wintry horizon at sunset, or at least something like it.
"Wow," she breathed, finally making an attempt to get back into the real world. She was already walking steadily over to them, leaving Aimee to catch up. When she got to them, she stared at them some more until the Blumaroo caught up.
"Smiley Neggs," Aimee read from the display tag. "Nine tokens."
"Yeah, I've got nine tokens!" Crystal said happily, but without thinking, as she scooped up one of the Smiley Neggs and took it to the Negg Faerie's counter, cupping it in her paws and treating it like a Petpet. It looked so gorgeous that she just had to have it. Already, it was making her feel better about fighting Balthazar.
After realizing that she had been left behind again, the Blumaroo raised one eyebrow and wandered over to the front of the shop. She quickly picked up a brown Negg on the way, paid for it and walked out with Crystal.
"Are you sure that Negg is really worth it? I mean, what are you going to do with the two tokens that you have left?"
"I'll think about it," Crystal answered.
Not wanting to fall out over a Negg, Aimee decided that she would just leave her to it.
Sitting at the table for dinner were Stalacto, Kyle and another Bruce when Crystal stepped through to the kitchen, after carefully placing her Negg on the hall's wooden floorboards. "Hey, everyone!"
"Oh, there you are," said Kyle. "I was hoping you'd be back soon. We've just sat down."
Stalacto introduced his friend, Oliver, and Crystal to each other as she sat down in her usual chair. She grinned as she saw one of her favourite meals on the plate in front of her - fried chicken and waffles. She loved it mainly because of the waffles. As she tucked in, she noticed Stalacto giving her tummy an odd look.
"Been having a swim in a weird swimming pool recently?" He was smirking now.
"Oops... that was just a slushie that I bought earlier on," Crystal giggled, remembering how she had spilt some slushie down her in the Ice Caves. "I'll wash it off tonight. So what have you two been doing today?"
"We spent most of the day in here, playing Cellblock and figuring out what cards we still need for our NeoDeck," Stalacto replied, taking a bite of his chicken. "We just need a few more purple ones, and then, we're concentrating on getting the really rare ones."
For as long as Crystal could remember, Stalacto loved collecting cards. He started by only buying the ones he could afford, for a bit of fun. When he had most of the common ones, he started getting obsessed with them. Then, he met Oliver, who offered to help him out.
"Cool," she said, swallowing a waffle in almost one go.
"Remember to eat your chicken as well!" Crystal was always so excited about just eating the waffles that Kyle always had to remind her to eat the rest of the food on her plate.
"Mmm hmm," Crystal mumbled, as she fed another bit of waffle into her mouth. When she eventually swallowed it, she added, "Oliver, what else do you like doing?"
The blue Bruce blushed. "Well... I go to the ice rink a lot, to practice for the annual skating competition," he said shyly. "I've been doing it since I started school and my cabinet is filled with trophies and medals now."
"That sounds good. I like going to the Battledome to check out new weapons, plan fights with other Neopets and practice on Inflatable Balthazar and Punchbag Bob. I've beaten a lot of tough opponents, and I'm going to the Haunted Woods to fight the real Balthazar next week," Crystal told Oliver. That reminded her of her Negg. "Oh, and Kyle, I was wondering... can I sell my Kadoatie?"
Kyle spat his coffee out. He couldn't believe his ears. Crystal had always loved her pink Kadoatie, Shova. They played with each other every day and they could rely on each other if something went wrong. Kyle thought that they would be together forever, as they had been together for years, but here was Crystal, suggesting that she had found a new companion to give all her love to.
"So... you... are... selling... Shova," he stammered. He thought it was simply unbelievable. "Out of everything you could sell... all your toys... all your books... you want to sell... Shova? But why?"
"Well, yeah." Crystal spoke so calmly, compared to her owner. "I found a new Petpet in the Ice Caves, today, in the Neggery, and I immediately got the feeling that something about it would make me more confident about fighting Balthazar, so I had to buy it. I know Shova keeps me happy, but... I just got such a good feeling about it!"
Kyle was right. She had found someone else. "Crystal, a Petpet is for life, just like you and Stalacto are my Neopets for life. You can't go round abandoning Petpets all the time..." Then, something struck him. "Wait. Did you say that you bought a Petpet in the Neggery?"
"Yeah, I'll go and get it." Crystal rushed into the hall to get her Smiley Negg, before Kyle could say anything else. As usual, she handled it gently in her paws. She ignored the fact that Stalacto was laughing as she started stroking it.
"Crystal, you... you can't do that!" Kyle was horrified. "That is a Negg, not a Petpet!"
"Well, I want to treat it as a Petpet. I don't see why I can't."
"It's food," Stalacto sniggered. "It'll go off!"
"How can Neggs go off?" Crystal sighed, losing her patience.
"All food goes off. You can't keep it as a Petpet. Eat it or take it back to the Neggery," Kyle warned.
"But it makes me more confident about fighting Balthazar next week!" she pleaded, hoping that her owner would let her keep it for that reason.
"Just put it away, sit down and finish your dinner." Kyle rolled his eyes, eating a slice of chicken.
Crystal stared at her barely touched chicken, and more importantly, her last waffle, which had a few bites taken out of it. She suddenly realized that she hadn't drunk any of her Neocola, but she didn't care any more. She swivelled round and walked out of the room, trudging up the stairs. Kyle and Stalacto looked worriedly at each other, while Oliver stared down at his plate. The three of them jumped when they heard Crystal's bedroom door slam shut.
Endless tears poured down the Bruce's face, onto her duvet. Seeing as she had been curled up in a ball on her bed for a few minutes, her duvet was getting pretty damp. Shova ran around the pool of dampness, as if it were a real Rainbow Pool. She had been told that she was getting abandoned and she was as upset as Crystal, so she was wishing for a miracle now. She hoped that the bright rainbow decorating her owner's duvet would turn into a whirlwind of colours, wiping this nightmare away and making everyone happy. But she snapped out of her dream when she heard Crystal whining again.
"Nobody understands. Why is everyone being so nasty about me asking if I can keep my new Petpet?" she sobbed, sounding so helpless.
Shova's first tear drizzled down one cheek. The words "my new Petpet" made her feel really unwanted and unloved. Crystal's glance at her turned into a pause that would normally have been awkward. Then, she stretched out, picking up her real Petpet and whispering an apology to her.
Her bedroom door creaked open, but she didn't look round to see Kyle standing there, gazing at her thoughtfully. He crept over to the bed and picked up the Smiley Negg, which was sitting behind Crystal, propped up against the wall. He walked back out with it, looking at the white teeth that had made his Bruce smile. He wondered if he was really doing the right thing, but he carried on.
Half an hour later, Crystal was lounging on the couch, chewing a Tooth Faerie sweet and reading the Neopian Times. Shova was playing races with Stalacto's Snuffly on the floor. The Snuffly didn't have a name yet, as Stalacto had bought him the day before and he was still thinking of names.
Crystal wasn't sure where everyone was. She had heard Kyle go out earlier on, shortly after he had come into her room, and Stalacto and Oliver had been very quiet, wherever they were. She knew that they were still in the house because Kyle would never leave Crystal in on her own. She was only allowed to go out without him if she was with one of her closest friends, like Aimee. She hated her owner being so overprotective, but she had learnt to live with it.
Then, she heard footsteps coming down the stairs. She listened closely for a few seconds and Stalacto poked his head round the door so suddenly that Crystal jumped slightly.
"Hey," he said blankly.
"Hey," Crystal repeated, still sounding a bit weak from crying so much. "What are you doing?"
"I'm down to get us a cup of Borovan each. We're playing Cellblock in my room." There was an awkward pause as he started to walk slowly towards the sofa, where Crystal was sitting. "Uhh... are you OK?"
"Yeah," answered Crystal. "I think Kyle came in and took my Negg but I don't really care. I've decided not to sell Shova."
"I'm sorry for laughing at you earlier. We just didn't know that you would do that to a Negg." Stalacto slowly sat down beside Crystal.
"It's OK," she remarked. "It looked so nice, but I've already got a Petpet. I really can't abandon her." The Bruces gazed down at the Petpets, innocently playing together and having so much fun.
"Kyle is sorry, too. But he's still gone to take the Negg back and he said he's getting a surprise for you."
"What kind of surprise?"
"I don't know," her brother replied. They sat together for a few more seconds before he got up and added, "I'm going to get the Borovan now and go back upstairs. Oliver will be waiting on me. See you later."
Crystal waved as he left the room, before turning to the next page of her newspaper. She listened carefully as Stalacto poured two cups of Borovan. There were footsteps outside, and as Stalacto reached the top of the stairs, someone put their key in the lock of the front door.
"It must be Kyle," Crystal thought.
The front door opened and she heard someone put their jacket in the hall cupboard. Then, they shouted on her. As she realized that it was Kyle, she also realized that he thought she was upstairs.
"I'm in here," Crystal shouted. Shortly afterwards, she heard her owner walking towards the living room door and opening it.
"Ah, there you are." Kyle smiled sadly, walking cautiously towards Crystal. "I'm sorry about what happened earlier on. I know you would have loved to keep that Negg, but I took it back and swapped it for this." He sat down and passed over the bag that he was holding, watching her jaw drop as soon as she peered inside.
"It's beautiful," she breathed, taking the Happy Negg out of the bag. It didn't have shiny white teeth, but its smile looked even better. Best of all, it was yellow, which was a colour that made her much happier than orange. She bit off the stem, and instantly, she felt the happiest she had been all day. She felt even more confident about fighting Balthazar.
"Thanks, Kyle!" Crystal exclaimed. Her owner was beaming as she realized that this was the only Negg that made her truly happy. She had eaten lots of Happy Neggs before and they all gave her the same feeling, so she was sure that she had discovered her perfect Negg.