She seemed so happy when they had first met. He never would have guessed that she held all of this pain inside. Of course, he only met her three days ago, and he knew there was loads about her he still didn't know, but he already felt as though he was involved, now. There was no turning back. He'd pushed and pushed and pushed to know what was going on, and now that he knew part of the story, he had become part of it. Without even realizing that would be a consequence. You don't just watch someone expend that amount of emotion and then say, "Okay, well, I've got to go prune my garden, but it was nice talking to you!" There is a very strict protocol for this type of thing, Pepper knew, and it involved sticking around.
Pulling himself out of his thoughts for a moment, Pepper realized they were standing in front of the door to the vet.
"Whoa, how did we get here?" He asked.
"We walked," Pinkie said. She pushed the button, the door whooshed open, and they were on another elevator going up. When the doors opened a second time, they were staring into the empty waiting room. The two kids entered the room and sat down, figuring Vanessa was probably inside with Smithhugh. Neither of them were entirely sure how long they'd been gone.
"Thank you, by the way," Pinkie said out of nowhere.
"For what?" Pepper asked, even though he had a vague idea.
"For listening to me," she said. "I've never actually told anyone the story before. Everyone here already knew without having to be told, and no one else has ever asked. So I never had to go through it all and say it out loud." She was sitting with her knees together and her hands resting in her lap. Her fingers were twirling around each other, as if fidgeting with them was just as good as looking Pepper in the eye.
"You're welcome," Pepper said uncertainly.
"No, really, I mean it... I think I needed to say it aloud. To really realize that it happened. That it's happening. To help me regain my focus."
"Is that what you asked Mr. Morggison, then? To help you find your mother?"
"Oh." He had been so sure he had figured it out. It seemed so obvious, and that would have been another part of the mystery solved. But perhaps it was too much to hope for more than one piece of the puzzle to come together so quickly.
A door opened, and Pinkie and Pepper looked up to see Vanessa emerge, holding a bundled up Smithhugh in her arms. Pepper couldn't know for sure, but it looked as if she had been crying as well.
"Hey, guys," she said quietly, walking up to join them. "Did you have fun painting the town red?"
Pepper glanced at Pinkie, and they exchanged a look. "Yeah," Pinkie said, and revealed nothing else.
"Well," Vanessa said, "Let's get the hell out of here."
Pinkie and Pepper stood up and followed her out the door and onto the elevator again.
On the way down, Pinkie asked, "Did they figure out what's wrong with Smithhugh?"
"Is... is he going to be okay?" Pinkie asked, reaching her crooked fingers up to Smithhugh's blanket, and pulling it aside slightly so she could peer in at him.
Biting her lip, Vanessa shook her head. "No."
Pinkie dropped her hand, and Pepper could see her lower lip quiver. He'd just about had enough of seeing sadness on that face.
"What's wrong with him?" Pinkie asked.
"It's incurable," Vanessa said. "He's got a lesion that's killing him, long story short." She was stroking the mullow lovingly as she spoke. "We'll have to... we'll have to keep him away from the other mullows. It's transferable, and could wipe them all out if I'm not careful."
Pepper thought he heard a slight quaver in her voice. "Is there anything at all to be done?" he asked.
"The vet gave me some medication to help with the pain. That's about it."
They fell silent. The rest of the ride and walk home, nobody said another word.
Chapter 1: Pepper
Chapter 2: Pinkie
Chapter 3: Dune
Chapter 4: Mugget
Chapter 5: Deltiology
Chapter 6: Umbrella
Chapter 7: The
Chapter 8: Exsanguination
Chapter 9: Oubliette
Chapter 10: Ferret
Chapter 11: Defenestrate
Chapter 12: Pound
Chapter 13: Aerodynamics
Chapter 14: Callipygian
Chapter 15: Cosmonaut
Chapter 16: Ensue
Chapter 17: Translucent
Chapter 18: Shindig
Chapter 19: Pseudocyesis
Chapter 20: Plantation
Chapter 21: Filch
Chapter 22: Detumescence
Chapter 23: Gelid
Chapter 24: Murrain
Full Story at pepperadventure