It was a terribly sunny morning out in Neopia Central. Invader was returning from his daily walk through the Central, enjoying the sights and sounds of Neopia. He always met with his friends at Hubert’s Hotdogs at 7:00 A.M., but he never ordered anything. His owner, Phroto, always cooked the best breakfasts and he preferred to eat breakfast with his family.
Invader smiled as his Neohome came into sight. He also went out every morning so that he could return and tell Phroto whether or not she received any neomails over the night. That was his favorite part.
Invader stopped before continuing inside. He looked at the garden that he, Phroto, and his siblings created. It was beautiful and colorful. There were Farn Plants, Prismatic Sea Ferns, and, Invader’s favorite, Magic Crystalline Kelp.
Invader opened the front door to his Neohome, using the tiny doorknob Phroto installed just for him, and ran to his owner, waving his little blue arms in the air.
“Hey, Phroto,” he said as he sat down at the table, using a booster seat. “You got a neomail message from someone named Charlotte.”
Phroto hesitated before nodding and running off towards her inbox. “Thanks, Invader,” she said. Invader could tell she was trying to muster up a smile, which was odd. Phroto patted his head before she left their Neohome.
‘How strange,’ Invader thought, staring after Phroto. ‘Normally she’s more excited than that.’ His owner was a very talkative Neopian, and she enjoyed receiving neomails from others. Invader was the one that normally told her she had neomails waiting for her, and Phroto was usually a lot happier. He stared after her for a few heartbeats before thinking, ‘Hm, whatever.’
He got down from the chair and headed into the kitchen to see what his owner made from breakfast. Invader sniffed the air, and caught a whiff of some sickly sweet Ghost Pancakes. “Mmm, smells good,” he murmured, trying to reach the countertops, but he was a Baby Grundo, too small to reach anything without help from one of his siblings.
“Shadow! Skes! Sky!” Invader called up the stairs. He wondered for a moment whether or not they were awake, but soon he heard stomping as they clambered down the stairs. He smiled as he watched them come down the stairs. Seeing his family was the best part of his day.
“Yeah?” asked Shadow, yawning sleepily.
Skes just sat down at the table, looking hopefully towards the pancakes on the counter. Skes, since he was a Plushie Grarrl, always loved eating. He always said it was the best part of life.
Sky, a pretty Alien Aisha, smiled, mumbled a sleepy, “Good morning,” and walked out the door. Sky always went to eat breakfast with her friends from Neoschool. She didn’t enjoy Phroto’s breakfasts as much as he and his brothers did.
“Could you get the breakfast down for me?” said Invader. “Phroto left to check her inbox before getting a chance to set it on the table. And,” he added, smiling, “I’m too small to reach it.”
“Yeah, sure,” Shadow chuckled, stretching his long black Aisha legs up to get the plate of pancakes.
Invader smiled and hobbled over to the table to sit by Skes. As Shadow fixed them plates of breakfast, Invader stared thinking about his so-called siblings. In actuality, Shadow and Skes weren’t actually his siblings. Shadow was adopted from another Neopian, and Phroto traded for Skes. Sky was also traded for, but Phroto had zapped Sky into an Alien Aisha herself. Invader was the only one that was actually created by Phroto, and he cherished that. He was special to her. Not that Phroto didn’t love her other pets; she loved them all the same. But Invader knew in his heart that if a Neopets was created by the owner, that Neopet was more special than those who were adopted from other Neopians. It just made sense.
Shadow interrupted his thoughts when he set the breakfast down on the table. “Dig in,” he said, grabbing a plate for himself.
“Finally!” Skes grumbled, reaching for some pancakes and some orange juice. He ate a whole Ghost Pancake in one bite.
Invader grinned before grabbing a plate of pancakes for himself, and poured himself some Kau Kau Farm Milk before taking a bite. It was delicious.
Invader was in the middle of The Mystery of the Kougra Paw when Phroto returned home. He jumped up from the couch and ran over to his owner, giving her a hug. “Hi, Phroto!” he said, smiling.
It took him a moment to realize that Phroto was smiling back at him awkwardly, and Invader looked towards the door. There was someone else standing there.
“Aww, Invader, look at you!” the stranger squealed, running up to hug him.
Invader coughed awkwardly. “Uh, do I—do I know you?” he asked, looking up at Phroto in confusion. Who was this strange Neopian, and why was she hugging him? Invader didn’t hug strangers; Phroto was a good enough owner to tell him that.
Phroto gave a little hem, hem, and the stranger let go of Invader. “Invader,” Phroto said quietly, glancing at him, “this is Charlotte. My friend.”
“Oh, okay,” Invader said, laughing a little. He remembered telling Phroto that she received a neomail from a Neopian named Charlotte earlier this morning. “Hi, Charlotte. Nice to, err, meet you?” He felt an odd attachment to Charlotte, but he had never seen this Neopian before.
“Oh, you really don’t remember me, do you?” the Neopian named Charlotte asked. “Tsk, tsk. Phroto, why didn’t you tell him before now? You knew I would come to check up on him. He’ll be so torn up.”
Invader was utterly bewildered. This stranger said that he had known her before? What a load of Slorg tales. Invader never knew anyone named Charlotte. And yet, Invader did feel something in the back of his head. He had a strong pull towards this stranger, but he didn’t know why.
Recently, Invader had been having dreams about someone he had never met. They always went something along the lines of him, Invader, walking in Neopia Central with another owner, someone other than Phroto. He would wake up in the middle of the night, wondering who that Neopian was. It wasn’t a nightmare; it was actually a nice, peaceful dream, but it was strange. He normally didn’t dream about random strangers. Invader wasn’t sure, but he felt like Charlotte was the one in his dreams. She did look vaguely familiar when he really thought about it.
“I—” Phroto was flustered and she looked ashamed. “I don’t know. It just never occurred to me to tell him. He was so young when I got him and...” she trailed off, looking out the door, which was still wide open.
Invader narrowed his eyes at Charlotte. He didn’t care how familiar she looked; she was making his owner uncomfortable. “Come on, Phroto,” he said quietly, walking over to her and tugging on her hand. “Make her leave. It’s your Neohome. If she’s making you uncomfortable, then you can make her leave.”
Phroto smiled down at Invader. “It’s okay, Invader,” she said after taking a deep breath. “Charlotte is welcome here anytime, any day. She’s—she’s your creator.”
Charlotte giggled, and glanced at Invader, who was in shock. “I created you, but then I began talking to Phroto and I knew how much she wanted you, so I let her adopt you! She’s been taking great care of you, too, and I’m so happy to see that you’re so happy with her and her other pets. You guys look like you get along so well.” Charlotte smiled at Phroto, but Phroto didn’t smile back.
Phroto looked worried.
Adopted? He, Invader, was adopted? The ‘A’ word? Phroto was never his original owner, the one that brought him into the world of Neopia? That was impossible. Inconceivable. He couldn’t believe it; it had to be a hoax, a joke. Phroto did enjoy jokes. She had to be messing with him.
“You’re joking,” he said, eyeing Phroto and Charlotte with mistrust. If this was a joke, it was a cruel one to play. “Please tell me you’re joking!”
“I’m afraid not,” Phroto whispered, turning her head away from Invader’s glistening eyes. He hadn’t realized tears were forming. “I’m sorry, Invader, but it’s true; you’re adopted.”
Invader shook his head angrily, trying to hold back tears. It couldn’t be true! He was the only one in his family that wasn’t adopted or traded for!
“It’s all been a lie then?” Invader shouted at Phroto. “I thought I was special! I thought you were the one that created me, and I was the only one in our family that was! I thought you were my original owner!”
“I’m sorry, Invader,” Phroto said, looking to Charlotte for reassurance. “You’re still special to me. Just because you were adopted doesn’t mean I love you any less!” Phroto paused and wiped her eyes before continuing. “Just look at Shadow! I adopted him, and I love him just the same. Same goes for Sky and Skes, both who I traded for. You are still loved, and always have been! Being adopted doesn’t change a thing. Not one thing,” Phroto said, looking Invader in the eye.
With that, Sky came running down the stairs, her multiple Alien-ears perked up. “What’s with all this yelling? I’m trying to read the Neopian Times in peace!” She stopped when she noticed Charlotte. “Oh, uh, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt anything—” Sky broke off when no one noticed her. She bounded quietly down the rest of the steps, and sat a few feet away.
Invader shook his head, ignoring Phroto’s words and ignoring Sky. “You lied to me! Both of you!” he said, finally turning to face his original owner. He could hear his voice begin to shake. He needed to get out of here before he busted into tears. “You could’ve told me! I could’ve handled it!”
Before any of them could respond, Invader stomped out the front door and slammed it shut.
Invader was angry. He glared at anyone or anything that looked at him. A few times he received angry glares back and mutters about how rude “Neopet young ‘uns are these days”.
But Invader didn’t care about the mutters or glares he received. He was angry and shocked, and yes, even a little heartbroken. All this time he thought that his owner, Phroto, created him, and it turns out that he was adopted! He would have never known if Charlotte, who turned out to be his original owner, had never turned up. ‘If only she never neomailed Phroto,’ he thought angrily. ‘I wonder what she even said in her mail to convince Phroto to tell me that I was adopted.’
Invader kicked the ground, and a dirt cloud came up. He stopped walking. He didn’t really know where he was; his feet had just taken him to this place in Neopia Central. The little dirt circle was soft under his feet, so he decided to sit down and think everything over. His mind was whirling with all the new information.
There was a small stick just a few steps away from him, and Invader reached over and grabbed it. He stared at the small wooden object for a moment before he started to draw with it in the dirt. He drew the sun, the Virtupets space station (which he could see from here; he always dreamed of visiting there one day), and the craters of Kreludor. Invader looked at his drawing, and sighed. He angrily wiped it away with his hands and wrote, “I AM ADOPTED” in the dirt instead.
Sighing sadly, Invader broke the stick and threw it across the grass. He was adopted? If he was asked whether or not he was adopted yesterday, he would’ve laughed and said, “No way!” The only good thing about it was that he wasn’t adopted from the pound... or was it? Were pounded pets any different than him? ‘Not really,’ Invader thought sadly. He put his hands on his head, utterly confused and hurt over what he had just learned.
Did Charlotte not want him? Was he a bad Neopet before Phroto became his owner? Invader couldn’t help but wish that Charlotte never adopted him out, but he soon discarded that thought. Phroto was a wonderful owner to him and his siblings.
The sun was sinking slowly, and Invader knew he would have to get home soon. No matter how angry he was, he wouldn’t stay our after dark. There were too many monsters out at night. He thought for a moment about the Neopians and Neopets that lived in the Haunted Woods and shivered. That was one place he could never live. It was crawling with too many monsters.
‘I better start heading back,’ he thought to himself, wiping away the fresh tears that he hadn’t realized were falling down his blue face. He wondered for a moment whether or not Charlotte was still there. Invader did not want to go back to his Neohome if she was. Charlotte just made everything confusing.
The sky was darkening even more, and Invader decided to risk going home. He’d rather face them then be caught out after dark. Phroto would be worried. Invader shook his head. He didn’t care if Phroto worried... did he? After all, he wasn’t hers to begin with! But he didn’t want her to worry...
He stood up, wiped the dirt off his little blue legs, and turned back the way he came. Invader started walking, staring at the sky and the Virtupets Space Station up above him.
Invader was standing in front of his Neohome. It had turned dark outside. The lights were still on, so everyone was still awake. Bracing himself, Invader walked towards the door.
At the door, he heard some murmurs. Invader stopped and listened, his antennae pressed against the door.
“I can’t believe how upset he was!” a voice said. Invader was sure that it was Shadow’s. “I was adopted, and you don’t see me running away from it. There’s nothing wrong with being adopted. He must think badly of me, then, since you adopted me, Phroto,” Shadow said, his voice mixed with annoyance and sadness.
Invader felt guilty. He had thought of Shadow differently because he, Shadow, was adopted. He thought the same of Skes and Sky because they were traded for. As it turned out, none of them, not even Invader, were Phroto’s original pets. His heart thudded rapidly as he continued to listen.
“I know.” Skes’s gruff Grarrl voice came through the door with ease. “He must think the same of me and Sky, too, since we weren’t Phroto’s original pets.” His voice was lined with sarcasm, and he heard a “Yeah” of agreement from Sky. Invader felt even guiltier. All his siblings were upset with him.
“You guys,” a female voice floated through the air, and Invader stiffened. That was Charlotte. She was still here. Why was she still here? Doesn’t she have her own Neopets to take care of? “It’s not Invader’s fault. He was brought up thinking that he was created by Phroto. Of course he got upset. If he had known beforehand, though, it would have been better for everyone.”
Invader knew that last comment was directed at Phroto, but it wasn’t exactly Phroto’s fault. She knew how much he, Invader, loved being the only pet created by her. Phroto probably just didn’t want him to be upset. He felt a flash of anger at Charlotte for talking to his owner that way. She was talking as if Phroto had done a horrible thing, but in actuality, Phroto was just protecting him.
“I know I should’ve told him,” Phroto said, obviously annoyed at the accusation. Not that it wasn’t true, but still. She did what she thought was right. “But I didn’t, and now he’s out walking around in Neopia Central when it’s dark! He’s so small, too.” Invader heard Phroto sniff.
Though he was a little irritated that Phroto brought up his shortness (he was a Baby Grundo, after all), Invader felt mostly guilty. Phroto and his siblings did care about him. They were his family, even if they weren’t originally Phroto’s. They all cared about him, and Invader knew that he, Invader, cared about them too. It didn’t matter that none of them were Phroto’s original pets or that they all came from different owners.
Invader sighed, not knowing what he would have to face when he walked in, but he was getting cold and it was useless standing outside listening to the conversation when he could be inside. He reached up to his special doorknob, installed lower than the normal doorknob by Phroto because how small Invader was. He felt another pang of guilt at that. Phroto didn’t have to install that for him, but she did anyway. She always spent Neopoints on them.
Invader slowly opened the door.
Silence greeted him at first, but then Phroto leapt up from the couch and ran towards him. “Invader!” she squeaked, hugging him. After a moment, she stopped hugging him and stepped back, obviously wondering whether or not he was still upset. “Come on,” she said. “Everyone’s in here.”
Invader walked behind Phroto, feeling the stares of his siblings and Charlotte as he sat down on the couch. Phroto sat on the couch opposite of him, with Charlotte, and his, Invader’s, siblings were sitting on the couch next to him.
“Invader,” Shadow and Skes greeted him coolly, both still obviously upset. Invader couldn’t blame the Shadow Aisha or the Plushie Grarrl.
Sky was nicer. “Nice to see you back,” the Alien Aisha said, coming over to sit beside him and give him a hug. She wasn’t as upset.
“Invader,” Phroto said hesitantly. Invader quickly looked up at his owner. “We’ve been talking and—” She broke off, paused for a minute or two, then started again. “We’ve been talking, and Charlotte and I have decided that if—if you want to, you can go back and live with your... original owner.” She wiped her eyes and turned away from Invader.
Invader was shocked beyond belief. Did Phroto no longer want him? Or did she just think that that was what he wanted? He wanted to stay here! “No! No, no!” Invader shrieked, shaking his head. “No, I want to stay with you and my siblings.”
Phroto turned back to Invader and let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, Invader!” She leapt up from the couch and hugged him. Shadow and Skes came over to him as well, both of them giving him sly smiles.
“I—I’m sorry,” Invader said. “I don’t know why I was so upset when I found out I was adopted. It doesn’t mater whether or not you’re adopted or created by your current owner. What matters is whether or not the owner takes care of you and loves you anyway.” Invader smiled up at Phroto. “And my siblings are my siblings, even if we all came from different owners. I love you all the same.” Invader hugged Phroto again, feeling better already. His heart was beating normally again, and he knew that this was what he wanted.
Charlotte stood up and cleared her throat, and Invader turned towards her. “Invader,” she said, smiling, “I’m glad to say that you made the right choice.” With that, she hugged Phroto and left their Neohome, with one last wave before she disappeared into the darkness.
Invader smiled as his original owner left. Charlotte didn’t want him; she wanted Phroto to have him, and now he understood why. He was spoiled and Phroto loved him, and so did his siblings. Phroto was a great owner, even though none of them were created by her. It didn’t make a difference.
This was his true family, his original family, and he loved them all. Being adopted didn’t change a thing.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this short story, and I'd love to hear your comments on it. :3 ~Phroto