"Well, Das, welcome home!"
The red Zafara smiled shyly at the teenage girl standing beside her, holding her lilac duffel bag and smiling warmly. She was happy, but nervous, too. Very nervous. New people, new home, new life. Who wouldn't be frightened?
Dasawna, better known as Das, was a very shy girl. She found it hard to socialise and make friends, and preferred to be alone. Her whole life she had been an only pet and had been quite happy, because her owner hadn't taken her to neoschool and had left her alone most of the time, since she was out playing games to fund her petpet gallery most days, so Das had become independent, but had also found socialising hard since she rarely saw other pets, and as a result she became very shy.
"Are you okay, honey?"
Das looked at the girl and nodded very slightly. This girl was her new owner; it was a funny feeling. She seemed like a stranger, Das had only met her an hour ago and now she knew she would spend the rest of her life with her. It felt weird.
The girl's name was Sango. She had shoulder length, dark blonde hair and pretty grey eyes, but her most noticeable feature had to be her two wolf ears, which poked out from her hair and twitched at the slightest sound. When she had smiled at Das in the Adoption Centre, Das could have sworn she saw a pair of fangs, too. The girl seemed friendly, but what she was really dreading was her other seven pets she had told her about on the way home.
"Okay!" she said cheerily, "Now, you must be starving, so how 'bout we get you a snack before you unpack?"
* * *
Das shifted uneasily in the slightly tatty dining chair and broke a square off the chocolate bar Sango had given her. She hadn't even opened her neocola; she wasn't hungry at all. She looked at the square of chocolate and put it down on the table. Chocolate was her all-time favourite food and normally, after staying in the pound and eating cheap omelette and water for two months, she would do anything for it, but she had no appetite. She must have looked miserable, because when she looked up she saw Sango looking at her, concerned.
"Dasawna?" she said. "Are you okay? Are you not happy living here?"
Das bit her lip and looked at her feet, and her eyes drifted up to meet Sango's gaze.
"No," she said, "I am happy. Just a little nervous, is all."
Sango smiled, but Das could tell she wasn't buying it.
"Well," she said, "I know you're nervous. I would be, too! But I'm sure you'll love it here, honestly. You don't have to be nervous about meeting my other pets. They're lovely; you'll fit in right away. Promise."
Das nibbled her lip nervously. She wasn't going to fit in. She knew she wasn't. But she didn't want to disappoint Sango, so she forced her biggest smile and pretended to act excited. Sango grinned.
"I knew you were happy," she said. She sounded relieved. "Now! How about you come with me to the Neolodge to pick my pets up?"
No, no, no, no, NO!
"Uh... Sure. Sounds fun."
* * *
It was a mild, sunny day on Mystery Island and Das would have loved it if she hadn't been so nervous. Her new home was a small bamboo cottage, a while off from the rest of the village, surrounded by palm trees with tiki torches and tropical flowers decorating the garden and a perfect view of the sparkling blue sea. Sango had said the local Neolodge was a thirty minute walk from the neohome, so they set off at a brisk walk.
The road there seemed to be an endless road of golden cobblestone, the sea on one side and thick forest on the other. It was quiet, apart from when they walked past some houses and saw some young pets playing with a Spardel, and two Lupes playing Gormball. As they walked past them, the Gormball exploded, drenching Das, and the rest of the way there she was cold and shivering, and smelling of stagnant water and rubber.
Finally, they arrived at the Neolodge. Sango walked up to the reception desk, where an Island Acara sat with her feet on the desk, filing her nails and blowing bubbles with her gum. Das headed for the Nova sofa in the corner and picked pieces of gormball from her damp fur. She occasionally glanced over at Sango, who she found was talking in a raised, irritated voice at the Acara and filling in endless forms that were pushed across the desk at her.
Forty minutes passed before Sango leaned over the back of the sofa, smiling, and playfully tapped Dasawna on the head to catch her attention. She looked round, put down the copy of Mystery Island Monthly she had been trying to read and followed Sango to the reception desk.
"Awright," the Acara droned, her eyes fixed on her nail file as she studied it for chips, "So you've got seven pets in rooms 035, 216, 217, 400, 466, 717 and 719."
Sango nodded. "That's what I've been trying to tell you for the past forty minutes," she said, sounding annoyed.
The Acara ignored her, pushed back the chair and grabbed a clip board. She jotted down a few notes and walked off down the hall. "I'll go get 'em," she said.
When the Acara had left, Sango sighed and leaned against the desk, groaning.
"Good Fyora!" she moaned. "That kid shouldn't be workin' here; she was useless!"
Das giggled a little, her mood lightening slightly. Suddenly, she froze as she saw a streak of silver dashing towards her.
A silver Peophin galloped across the foyer and Sango bent down as she neared, hugging her tightly. When they let go, Sango stood up and walked over to Das. The Peophin looked at her, and she smiled. There was no hint of malice or disdain, her smile was genuinely friendly.
"Tammy, this is Dasawna, your new sister," Sango said, then turned to Das. "Das, this is Tammy."
Das smiled shyly, but her throat felt like it was closed up, and she was too nervous to speak. Tammy seemed to understand. She looked at Sango and laughed.
"Don't pressure her, Sango!" she laughed, "Das can chat when she's ready." She turned to Das and smiled. "I know how you feel. When Sango adopted me, I was really shy, too."
Das smiled shyly, feeling her nerves melt away slowly but surely. This girl was really nice and Das felt like she was the first person who really understood her. Sango was lovely, and she knew she was going to enjoy having her as an owner and could feel secure with her, but she was quite, well, hyper. Tammy was calm, friendly but didn't smother her, and put no pressure on her. It was nice knowing she was going to have someone like her as a sister.
It wasn't long before the foyer was filled with choruses of excited chatting and rustling bags as Sango's other pets appeared one by one. There was Luna, a friendly but slightly ditzy cloud Lupe, Miles, a Christmas Gelert, Noah, a young yellow Xweetok, Mila, a vain, reserved red Usul whose bag was stuffed full of make-up, so much it spilled out her bag when she unzipped it, Fori, a starry Bori who meant well but was so hyper she made Das a little nervous, and Kiba, a mysterious ghost Lupe. They were all friendly towards Das and made her feel welcome, although by the time it was time to head home she felt like she was drowning in their attention and she felt uneasy again. When they got back to the neohome, she ran upstairs to the bathroom, locked the door and cried.
"Why?" she asked herself through the tears. "Why can't I just be left alone? I hate all this attention! I don't know what to say! I hate it!"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the bathroom door and a voice travelled through the thick bamboo panels.
"Dasawna? Are you okay in there?"
She sighed and wiped away tears from her wet face. She felt compelled to ignore the voice, but didn't want to appear rude. She opened her mouth to answer, but the words stuck in her throat and she began to cry again, a little quieter than before.
"It's time for dinner. I have a feeling you won't want to sit with us, though, so do you want me to tell Sango that you're eating up here? I'll bring your food up for you," the voice continued, no hint of impatience from being ignored. It was then that Das realised it was Tammy.
She walked up slowly to the door and opened it a crack, poking her head through. The silver Peophin stood there. She was holding a bunch of papers. A pencil was tucked behind one small, pointed ear and her floppy mane had been tied back, away from her face. She looked concerned.
"I heard you crying and came to check if you were okay," she said. She took one look at her wet, tear-stained face and puffy eyes and bit her lip.
Das wiped her eyes with the back of her paw and forced a weak smile. "I'm fine," she said quietly.
Tammy smiled and nodded slightly. "Do you want me to bring up your dinner?" she asked.
Das nodded shyly. She felt shy, yet at the same time hope and happiness glimmered inside her, a warm bright light lighting up the darkness.
Tammy smiled again and pointed down the hall. "You're sharing my room. It's the third room on the right. Make yourself at home!" and she turned and trotted down the stairs. Das waited, and listened. She could hear Tammy's calm voice and the clinking of cutlery as the pets tucked into their dinners. Then Sango's cheery voice rang out and, after a moment, Tammy reappeared holding a plate heaped with food and a can of Achyfi. She passed them to Das.
"Enjoy," she said with a smile. "I have to go. I promised once I finished my homework I'd run some errands for Sango, but make yourself comfy in our room."
And she turned and galloped down the stairs, leaving Das. She looked at the food that had been placed in her paws. It looked and smelt delicious, and, looking at it, she realised how hungry she was; she hadn't eaten all day. She turned and headed down to Tammy's bedroom.
It was clearly the biggest room in the house. It was huge! It smelt of cinnamon incense and peppermint, and a weak bulb cast a dim, calming light over the zen furniture. All the furniture was black and white, and a huge zen rug covered most of the floor. A Delphin in a large tank swam to and fro beside the bed. In one corner was a massive bookcase, in another was a guitar on a stand, and along one wall there was a long desk littered with potions in delicate glass bottles and a cauldron, smelling slightly of a spell that had gone very wrong. It was amazing. She sat on one of the Babaa chairs, took the remote from one of the soft, fluffy arms and switched on the Neovision set. The meal was delicious; prime beef and chicken meatballs, celestial salad, a grilled negg, and cheery tomatoes filled the plate, and a can of Achyfi Ice rested on the arm of the chair. She smiled to herself and began to tuck in.
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad living here after all...
The next thing Das knew two hooves were on her shoulders, and gently shaking her. She opened her eyes groggily, yawned and tried to sit up. Tammy stood over her and the smell of grilled neggs lingered in the air. She took one look at the Peophin and flinched, embarrassed and suddenly shy again. She rubbed her eyes and shot out the chair and tried to bustle past Tammy.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep, I'm-- Aaah!"
She hit the ground and groaned. Had she tripped over something? She heard Tammy laugh behind her and pull her up gently.
"There you go."
There was a silence, but it wasn't an awkward one. She glanced at the clock to find it was 10:00 pm NST -- she had slept for hours.
"I should go to bed now," she said shyly. She glanced back at Tammy to find her looking a little disappointed, probably at her shyness; she knew perfectly well herself she had been becoming more confident as the day had gone by, now she seemed back to square one. She forced a shy smile. "Thanks for... bringing me up my dinner," she said.
She reached into her lilac duffel bag, pulled out her Meowclops hair brush and hurriedly ran it through her crimson hair, then took her toothbrush from her make-up bag and made for the bathroom.
She stopped, her paw on the doorknob and turned round to see Tammy, wearing a friendly smile and holding a brown box with cardboard handles and holes in the top. "I got you something," she said. "Come back and see what it is. I think you'll like it."
Das blushed. No one had ever got her anything before; everything she had, she had paid for with neopoints she had had to make herself, as her last owner had not cared enough about her to buy her things when there were more important things to do, like playing game after game for hours on end to fund her petpet gallery. Whatever it was, she felt like she couldn't accept it. Tammy was being so nice... she was what Das had always imagined a sister would be like, and had always wanted, yet thought she would never get. She hoped, with all her heart, that they could be best friends one day, as well as sisters. Like that's ever gonna happen, she thought to herself.
She turned round to meet her sister's gaze and began to cry. Tammy sat the box down on the rug and ran to her.
"Das!" she said. She brushed her long, messy red hair away from her eyes. "What's the matter?"
Das tried to stop crying but ended up snorting and sniffing instead. "I just... I always wanted a sister!" she cried, and threw herself at Tammy and hugged her tightly.
Tammy laughed and hugged her back. Suddenly a scrabbling noise began to come from the box Tammy had brought, followed by a quiet snort and a shy little whickering noise.
"Oh yeah," Tammy said. "When we were busy doing all this sisterly stuff I forgot about your present!"
She went to the box, and Das followed. She bent down next to Tammy and busied herself curling a piece of long, crimson hair round her finger as Tammy opened up the box.
"Das," she began, "Meet Meggie, your new friend."
A tiny flash of cream fur burst out the box and shook pieces of straw from her fur, flapping her tiny, delicate wings and darting from side to side, delighted to be out the box and a little confused at her new surroundings. She had crystal blue eyes, and a lilac silk ribbon was tied round her neck. A tiny baby Alkenore! Das gasped, but her face soon lit up with a delighted smile and she reached out and fondled the Alkenore's long, floppy ears, and in return she licked her hand with her rough, sandpaper tongue.
"Thank you Tammy!" She grinned. "Thank you so much! She's the best present I could ask for!"
Tammy smiled and ruffled her hair.
"Well, what are sisters for?"
Thanks for reading! Tammy and Dasawna are my pets; Das is on my side and Tammy on my main. Feel free to visit them! ^__^