As the calliope music faded and Noki stepped through the gate, he saw the palest shimmer of blue light around him. He blinked for a second and it truly sank in that he was at the Bridge. AJ gave him a head butt that sent him staggering and he smiled. He pranced around a few steps and took a few shadow boxing swings in the air. "AJ!!" he cried, "look at me!". AJ chuckled, "There will be no more pain here, little brother. You are young and strong again and will never suffer." Noki executed a perfect one-two combination punch on the air and chuckled back, "Well what about you? I thought you were young and slim again...that waggy bag looks MIGHTY familiar". AJ patted his impressive midsection and said, "Well, now, I had to make sure Mom would recognize me". Noki stopped in his tracks, "Mom! Oh AJ I didn't....oh AJ!". AJ gave Noki an earlick, "It's all right little brother....you can still say it and she'll hear you. Honest she will. Not with her ears, but with her heart, but she'll hear you." "But how?", said Noki. "Come on, I'll show you", said AJ.
He led Noki to the very edge of the Rainbow, and Noki was aware that all his furiends had gathered in a half circle behind him. He heard them start to purr deep within their chests. "Now, look out over the Earth and picture Mom in your heart. When you feel her really close, send out your thoughts. We'll all help.", said AJ, who closed his eyes and lifted his purr onto the wind with all the others. Noki looked down on the Earth, and thought about his Mom and Dad and pictured them in his heart. Suddenly, he felt so close to them he thought he could give them a head butt. He closed his eyes and sent his thoughts towards them. "Oh Mom, Dad...I wanted to stay. I did, but I just couldn't any more. I will miss you so much, but I'll wait. I promise AJ and I will wait right here. Oh, Mom, I don't hurt anymore! I wish you could see me. I bet I can jump higher than any kidden here. I don't feel sick anymore and I am hungry! Oh Mom...." He tried to pour out all of his thoughts, that he was with AJ, that he was safe, that he would wait. At last when he could find no more words, he sent one last thought homewards, "Mom, Dad, I love you".
Noki opened his eyes and looked up at AJ, who smiled and nodded. "They heard", he said simply.
"Says Mr. Noki", said a little voice behind him, "Was you really a Ringsmaster???". Noki smiled and gave Pounce a sweeping bow with his tophat, "Why yes, young master, I was a Ringmaster". "In a circus, with trapses...treaps...swinging thingies and everything?", said Pounce. Noki laughed, "and everything". "Ohs boy!" cried Tiny Bubbles, "Can we have a circus, cans we?? Huh huh?" "I bet I can swing from a twaps...whatever reawwy, reawwy good", said Nickie. "Tells us bout circuses" said Pounce grabbing Noki by the paw and pulling him along, "Dids you see any ellephlompets?". Surrounded by excited peepers and amid much clapping of little paw paws, Noki entered his new home.
AJ and Eatbugs looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Well, my furiend," said AJ, "The Bridge may never be the same!".
GOODBYE, NOKI, WE LOVE YOU
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