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Of Rivalries and Sandwiches: Part One


by pretsel_is_back

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Jessie the rainbow Lutari carefully tied her apron around her waist. Orders were flying in like crazy, and the chefs ran frantically through the kitchen to cook the requested food. Jessie grabbed two slices of bread and placed them gently on the plate. She glanced at the paper, telling her the order she needed to make, and began to work.

     Jessie delicately placed the Deli Turkey Slices onto the bread. She carefully squeezed on mustard, stuck two slices of tomato on it, and tucked them into a slice of cheese before placing the other bread slice on the very top.

     “One Turkey Deluxe is ready!” Jessie called, giving it to the waitress.

     Another chef, a yellow Blumaroo, bounced over to Jessie.

     “Why do you take so long to make these sandwiches?” he demanded, with his arms crossed bitterly.

     Jessie looked over at the Blumaroo.

     “Sandwiches taste good when made with speed. Sandwiches taste great when made with love,” she told him simply.

     The Blumaroo rolled his eyes and stalked away. Jessie shrugged her shoulders at him and continued filling orders.

     Just then, the doors burst open. A tall yellow Xweetok strutted in, grinning. The people waiting in line scrambled to let her through. She walked over to the kitchen, and crossed her arms. Jessie gasped. Who is that?

     “Word on the street is that a Lutari named Jessie makes the best sandwiches in town,” the Xweetok said.

     Jessie gulped. What did this girl want? The Lutari bit back her fear and cautiously walked towards the Xweetok. Her lips trembled as she muttered these words as confidently as she could:

     “That would be me.”

     She tried sounding brave and tough, but her voice cracked and quivered when she spoke to the Xweetok.

     Am I really afraid of her? Jessie asked herself. I don’t even know her!

     The Xweetok laughed.

     “The name is Claire. Back where I came from, I was known as the best,” she said, grinning evilly.

     “Sounds like you’re making a bet,” Jessie said.

     “Loser leaves the restaurant... for good,” Claire told Jessie.

     “You’re on,” Jessie said.

     And with that being said, the two sandwich-making prodigies ran into the kitchen. Jessie decided to make her signature sandwich: a BLT with cheese. She carefully placed the bacon, lettuce, and tomato on the bread, then tucked it in with a slice of cheese before topping it with the other bread slice.

     Claire was working faster than a neopet would run to get away from the Ghost Lupe. She carelessly slapped on different toppings, and then smacked the bread on top so hard that half of the condiments fell out.

     Claire held up her sandwich triumphantly before exiting the kitchen with it. Jessie followed close behind with her BLT with cheese.

     “Who’s going to judge our sandwiches?” Jessie asked.

     Claire looked around the room, and smiled.

     “Let’s let him judge,” she said, pointing to a blue Lupe sitting in the back of the restaurant.

     Jessie and Claire slowly carried their sandwiches to the Lupe. Jessie gave hers to him first.

     “Here, try a quality sandwich,” she told him.

     The Lupe slowly took a bite. His face lit up into a smile, but then it looked like he was trying to keep himself from cracking a grin. He swallowed it down hard, and then rubbed his mouth to keep it from smiling.

     “Here, sir, you’ll love this one,” Claire said, winking at the Lupe.

     The Lupe winked back before taking a bite. His face now looked like it was in pain. He swallowed this one quickly.

     I knew it, Jessie thought. No one can eat another sandwich and say it’s better than mine!

     The Lupe suddenly smiled. It looked like he was forcing it, but it was still a smile.

     “I love it! Claire’s is obviously better,” he exclaimed.

     “WHAT?”

     Jessie’s eyes bugged out of her head at the man. Her heart felt like it just shattered into a million pieces. Claire winked at the Lupe, looked at Jessie, and said, “I think you need to leave.”

     Jessie, devastated, slowly untied her apron and walked out.

     After she got home, Jessie was destined to make her sandwiches better than ever. She continuously made sandwich after sandwich, from night unto the morn, sometimes without sleep and food for days on end.

     She finally made the best sandwich ever, that no Lupe can resist. She longed to find Claire, and challenge her again. She was ready, and this time she’d win...

     ...Hopefully.

     --A couple years later--

     Everyone poured out of the Neoschool doors Friday afternoon. Neopets practically tripped over each other when running out. Girls chatted about their plans for the night, and a couple boys threw around a Rubber Yooyuball that soared over everyone else’s heads. This was yet another weekend at Mystery Island Prep.

     The only three that didn’t run out were these neopets: a yellow Acara named Andrea, a pink Cybunny named Rose, and a fire Usul named Danielle, called Danni.

     “Guess what?” Rose said excitedly to her friends.

     The Cybunny dug into her backpack and pulled out three neon pink tickets and waved them frantically. Danielle gasped.

     “Are those... Yes Boy Ice-Cream Tickets?!” Danielle said, gasping.

     “You bet!” Rose told her. “They were the last three in stock. Want to come with me to their concert tonight?”

     “Of course I would!!” Danielle squealed.

     “Are you coming, Andrea?” Rose asked, handing her a ticket.

     Andrea sighed.

     “No.”

     “You aren’t?” Danni exclaimed, her face in shock.

     Andrea looked up at her friend, and shook her head.

     “I can’t,” Andrea explained. “I need to work at my Aunt Jessie’s sandwich shop tonight. I promised to work the whole dinner rush.”

     Rose frowned.

     “But you ALWAYS have to work,” she complained.

     “And you never know when you’ll ever get the chance to see Yes Boy Ice-Cream again!” Danielle added, pouting.

     “Sorry, guys,” Andrea told them, “but I can’t let Auntie down.”

     With that being said, Andrea rounded the corner and began to walk home.

     ---

     Andrea slowly wiped off the counter as the last customer exited through the double doors. This day had been a slow one at the shop, but all Andrea could think about was the Yes Boy Ice-Cream concert that she had missed. Rose and Danni probably were having the time of their lives. They might have even seen the band up close. They might have even talked to them!

     Her Aunt Jessie walked out of the kitchen and stood beside Andrea at the counter. She grinned.

     “You’re doing a great job, Andrea,” the rainbow Lutari told her. “Just like I taught you, eh?”

     It was true. Aunt Jessie had always been a sandwich master. She taught Andrea the art of sandwich making when she was very young, and now Andrea was carrying on the family tradition of creating the fine deli masterpieces. Her signature sandwich, like her aunt, was the infamous BLT with cheese.

     Aunt Jessie frowned at the empty seats around their shop.

     “What’s wrong?” her niece asked.

     “We’re getting fewer and fewer customers each day,” her aunt explained. “Doesn’t anyone like sandwiches anymore?”

     Andrea thought a moment, and then shrugged her shoulders.

     “I don’t know,” she said finally, staring at the double doors, waiting for someone to enter.

     Then, as if it had been planned to happen, Rose walked in through the double doors, happy as... well... a rose.

     “Hey guys!” Rose said, waving at Andrea and Jessie.

     Andrea looked at her friend, and noticed something in her hand. It was a sandwich, three quarters of it wrapped in plastic paper.

     “Where’d you get that?” Andrea asked, trying to be casual, but instead her voice sounded panicked.

     “Oh, you mean this?” Rose said, holding up the sandwich. “I just got it from this new deli shop down the street from here.”

     “What new deli shop?” Jessie asked, her eyes blown wide open.

     “It opened two weeks ago,” Rose continued. “The crowds are humongous! I had to wait half an hour to get this one!”

     “I thought you were at the concert,” Andrea piped in.

     “They cancelled,” Rose said sorrowfully.

     Jessie’s face glowed in anger.

     “Who do they think they are, opening a restaurant and stealing all my business? I have a few choice words for the owner. Let’s go, Andrea.”

     Andrea nodded. Together, Jessie, Andrea, and Rose marched down to the new deli.

     ---

     As it turned out, Rose had been right about the deli. The line backed out of the door, with tons of hungry Neopians waiting impatiently.

     Aunt Jessie shoved in front of the crowd. Many complaints were tossed around as the Lutari made her way through. Andrea and Rose followed close behind. Finally, they made it inside the restaurant, and all three of them gasped.

     The tables were filled with people, chattering and eating their sandwiches. Waiters and waitresses ran around, giving everyone their food and taking everyone’s orders. A smell of meat and tomato filled the air, and you could feel the heat of the kitchen from the entrance.

     “Holy Kau!” Rose exclaimed.

     “That interjection is right,” Aunt Jessie told her. “This is crazy!”

     Andrea looked around, then back at her aunt.

     “Where do we find the owners?” Andrea asked her.

     “I didn’t think about that,” Jessie admitted, shrugging her shoulders. “That guy could be anywhere.”

     “Well, let’s look!” Rose exclaimed.

     They split up: Aunt Jessie looking towards the left side of the restaurant, and Rose and Andrea looking towards the right side. Jessie looked under every table, trash can, and napkin dispenser (Even if it made the customers angry) for the owner. He was nowhere to be found.

     Andrea and Rose looked up and down, left and right, and still no sign of the owner.

     “If only Danni were here.” Rose sighed. “She was always good at finding people.”

     “That’s why we never won at hide and seek,” Andrea said, laughing.

     She paused.

     “Where is Danni, anyway?”

     “She said she had to be somewhere,” Rose said. “She didn’t tell me where.”

     “Well, that figures.” Andrea shrugged.

     The three continued to look. They neared the kitchen when...

     SMACK!

     They ran right into Aunt Jessie. She mumbled, “Sorry,” while helping her niece and niece’s friend up.

     “Did you find the owner yet?” Aunt Jessie asked.

     “No,” Andrea said sorrowfully. “Did you?”

     “No.”

     Suddenly, the kitchen door swung open, and a yellow Xweetok walked out, a smug grin plastered onto her face. Jessie looked at her skeptically. Had she seen her from somewhere? No, of course she hadn’t.

     Andrea looked at the Xweetok carefully. She looked at her face first. It was happy, but she also looked dangerous, like she was what your mom would tell you to run away from. Andrea knew that for sure. Aunt Jessie told her a lot about people like that.

     She then looked at her uniform. The shirt was cornflower blue, and the pants were jet black. Andrea had to admit, that Xweetok looked good in blue.

     Finally, the Acara looked at her nametag. It said her name was Claire, and that she was the owner.

     “That’s the owner, Auntie!” Andrea whispered loudly to her aunt.

     Jessie grinned.

     “Hey,” she called after the Xweetok. “I need a few choice words with you.”

     The Xweetok spun around to look at the Lutari. She laughed.

     “Jessie! I never thought I’d see you again. I thought I drove you out of town.”

     Jessie’s eyes popped open. Her voice, it sounded so familiar. The words rang in her ears: “Back where I came from, I was known as the best.”

     Jessie gasped.

     “Claire, is that you?”

     “Ding, ding, give the girl a prize,” the Xweetok said.

     “You came for a rematch?” Aunt Jessie asked.

     “Same bet as last time,” Claire offered.

     “What’s going on?” Andrea asked.

     Jessie glanced at her niece, and then back at Claire.

     “Let’s just say she’s a long time sandwich rival,” she told her.

     “You guys take sandwiches way too literally,” Rose commented.

     Jessie glared at Claire.

     “Let’s make the bet more interesting,” she offered. “Loser pays winner 10,000 neopoints.”

     “No, I’ll bet 20,000 neopoints minimum!” Claire exclaimed.

     “I’ll offer 100,000 neopoints,” Jessie said.

     “Um, Aunt Jessie,” Andrea told her, “we only have 5,000 neopoints after we remodeled the shop.”

     “Oh, right,” Jessie said, blushing.

     “How about loser closes down their shop and retires sandwich making... FOREVER,” Claire offered.

     “You’re on,” Jessie told her.

     Andrea raised her paw frantically.

     “Can nieces help their aunts in the bet?” she asked.

     Claire thought a moment, and then smiled.

     “Alright. You can help Jessie, and my niece can help me during the competition.”

     “You have a niece?” Jessie asked.

     Claire nodded. She called into the kitchen, “Come out, darling!”

     Claire’s niece walked out. Andrea guessed she was surprised. She didn’t expect this at all. She now wasn’t sure if her opponent would be her friend or foe. For a moment, Andrea was just too shocked for words.

     Claire’s niece was a fire Usul named Danni.

To be continued...

 
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