Roses and Chocolates
"Tell me again why we're doing this?"
Hanso stumbled after his Kougra counterpart as they walked down the streets of Neopia Central. He wasn't sure where they were going exactly. She had only grabbed his arm and dragged him along, which was really inconvenient being he had just gotten a good target to get more coins in his pocket...
Brynn looked back at him--was she smiling?!--before turning back around. "Nabile said she wanted to meet up with me."
"What FOR?" Hanso groaned. He definitely didn't like the looks of where this was going. Whenever that female street thief came along, so did her hot-tempered, grumpy, and scary... uh... intimidating husband. Who usually somehow found a way to blame a completely random accident on Hanso. Even if it had nothing to do with him.
Brynn shot another glance over her shoulder and sighed. "You'll see."
They stopped at the plaza and Hanso saw Nabile, donned in a dark blue dress and looking not at all suspicious. If you didn't look at her shifting eyes, of course. Hanso immediately scowled as she seemed to be picking out targets quietly (like HE did) and not even catching any attention. Jazan was standing beside her, looking bored out of his mind. Typical.
Brynn approached the female thief and both began to erupt into conversation. Hanso was torn between staying put by Brynn's side and enduring a long, girly talk, or stepping away, but being at risk of getting turned into a petpet by the scowling king a few feet away.
But after five continuous minutes of listening to their conversation, Hanso decided to take the risk. He took a step back, hardly even acknowledged and eyed the king beside him, who was focusing his attention on a nearby shop like it was so immensely fascinating.
Hanso bowed his head before smirking at a topic that popped into his mind. If he played his cards right, he'd get an amusing reaction.
"So, what are you planning on getting your wife for Valentine's Day?"
Jazan nearly toppled over by how fast he turned to stare at the thief. Blinking in surprise, he quickly regained his scowl and glared. "And what do you mean by that?"
Hanso flashed a grin as he stuck his hands in his pockets. "What're you planning on giving Nabile for Valentine's Day? Duh."
Jazan continued to look bewildered even through his hostile look. He inwardly wished he didn't have to go through this, but the subject was his wife. If the thief said one wrong thing...
The king cleared his throat as he comprehended what Hanso was saying. "She, uh... she says she's content with everything she already has. She says she doesn't care for anything."
Hanso laughed, derision evident in his gleaming amber eyes. "Oh, please!" He huffed in a whisper, glancing at the two girls only a little away from them. "Don't tell me you fell for that."
The thief was enjoying Jazan's lost look. It was something rarely seen. Hanso sighed and looked away. "You did, huh?"
The king fell back on the bench behind him, beginning to get annoyed. If only he could make this thief turn into a Scamander. But Nabile had already lectured him on THAT. "I don't understand... there is no trickery involved in this! Besides, Nabile is always honest with me!"
Yeah, right, Hanso thought bitterly before staring back at Jazan. "I'm not saying she's lying. So don't start getting mad at ME. I'm just saying, I doubt she really means what she says. It's like when I ask Brynn if she wants anything to eat and she says no and takes some from MY portion just to 'try' it..."
"What's your point?" Jazan spat, watching his wife almost pleadingly. He wished she'd wrap up whatever her and Brynn were doing so they could go back home.
Hanso waved a finger at the king. "What I'm saying... girls like to test you. She's basically trying to see how you take the things she says. If you DON'T give her anything for Valentine's Day, she'll think you take everything she says literally. If you do, she'll like that you go the extra mile, but she'll think you don't really listen... trust me, I'm an expert by now!"
Jazan actually seemed secretly amazed by the thief's words. Yet, also doubtful. "But Valentine's Day is only one day--"
"And she'll REMEMBER," Hanso added through gritted teeth. "Brynn still remembers the one day I forgot her birthday."
"I don't think she--"
"The Month of Hunting, Year 5, at 2:46 PM, she says!" Hanso exclaimed, pointing a finger in the air like a storyteller about to erupt into a tale of wisdom. "Heck, I don't even remember what I ate for BREAKFAST this morning! ...did I even eat breakfast?"
Jazan groaned, wondering how he was always dumped into these messes. "I don't need you spouting nonsense that's basically meaningless. I already have enough on my hands. I don't need YOU included."
Hanso smirked, wanting to continue to press on, but not wishing to agitate the Qasalan king any further. Last thing he needed was a night in the dungeon that he honestly didn't deserve. "I'm just trying to warn ya, buddy... your wife's got tricks up her sleeves. All girls do. They must have a secret book out there called 'Ways to Annoy Our Male Counterparts' or something..."
"Okay, that's enough!" Jazan jumped to his feet. "Now, Nabile never has done any of those things to me! I've never seen any women do that!" Then he thought twice. "Well, okay, maybe one or two, but certainly not my beloved wife!"
Hanso was about to continue with a cocky comment, but Brynn and Nabile came up, sharing a look before turning to their respective partners.
"You didn't kill each other. I'm impressed," Nabile spoke, patting her husband's shoulder and noting the look of confusion trained on her. She turned and winked at Brynn. "Tomorrow's Valentine's Day... just throwing that out there. Brynn and I have something important to do. You guys try not to stir up trouble." She smiled at Jazan, getting the Only-For-Nabile-And-No-One-Else smile from him. "Meet us back here later, okay?"
The two women turned and departed and Hanso jumped into action, a smug look on his face.
"Seeeee?" He stretched the word out as he tilted his head, not able to contain his triumphant smile.
Jazan's glower returned as he realized the thief wasn't going to leave him alone. "She just reminded me."
Hanso rubbed his chin as he mused, the gears turning in his brain. "M'k, here's what I'm willing to do. Since I'm oh-so nice and helpful, I'll take you around and we'll see what we can get both your wife and Brynn. Maybe we can save each other from two disappointed women."
"And who said I would be willing to partner on anything with you, Ixi?" Jazan snarled, unsuccessful in keeping contempt out of his voice.
Hanso shrugged. "No one. But you're on your own if you don't wanna come with me. Then whatever happens ain't my fault!"
He whirled around on his heel and sauntered down the street, seemingly already having a route. He could feel Jazan staring after him, contemplating whether or not to follow. He probably wouldn't. And if he didn't, Hanso could enjoy himself until he had to meet Brynn later.
But the king felt his confidence deflate. He had to admit, he wasn't exactly an expert when it came to women. Brynn seemed to tolerate him, but she wasn't the way with him as she was with Hanso. Then again, they were long-time partners, and her nature wasn't exactly loving. Amira hated him, that was for sure... so it was official. He was not at all a "lady's man" like Hanso described himself.
He wanted to surprise Nabile though. When had been the last time he went out of his way and unexpectedly shocked his wife with something charming?
Oh, that's right.
At least, not anytime soon...
Sighing, the king raced after Hanso, waving a hand. "No! Fine, I concede! I'll come with you!"
"Knew you'd see it my way!" The thief called back, elated at the fact someone was actually going to find him useful in something.
And Valentine's Day was CRUCIAL.
"Oh, Fyora blast it! You must be kidding!"
"Okay, I really shouldn't ask this, but do I ever kid around? Well, about stuff like this?"
"How should I know? I hardly talk to you! And I honestly didn't think I'd be standing here today..."
The two men were standing outside of a very fragrant shop, known as the town's flower shop. Hanso smirked at the king's grimace at the idea of going into the place.
"Let's move our tails. We're on a time limit," Hanso stated, pushing his way into the building.
"Maybe I'll just stay out here," Jazan hastily said, not even wanting to be caught dead in the shop. "You can return when you've made the choice. I'll keep watch here and--GYAH!"
He was instantly yanked inside, tumbling to the linoleum as Hanso sighed. "Gee, get a little shorter. You're not easy to lug around." He chuckled as he quickly walked across the shop, his plan set.
Jazan groaned at the floral scents that surrounded him. He'd never been around so many flowers before. He forced himself to his feet and trudged after Hanso, figuring any manly composure had diminished the minute he hit the floor. Even the florist was holding back laughs. Well, let's see if he kept laughing as a Scamander...
"How about this?" Hanso shoved a rose right in the king's face. The sudden assault to his nose made Jazan sneeze and he landed right back on the floor.
The thief looked down at him, shaking his head. "Geez, no wonder I have to help you here. You stink when it comes to getting things for girls."
Jazan scowled, blocking his face from any more rose attacks. "I don't think flowers satisfy my conception of a gift. Seems a bit cliche."
"Cliche! A whole bouquet is cliche! I'm talking only one." Hanso twirled the rose in his fingers. "I have an idea of what the girls would like. It only includes this one little rose. Here." He shoved it into the king's hand. "That can be Nabile's. I'll get another one for Brynn."
Jazan rolled his eyes after the thief, then winced as a thorn found its way into his thumb.
His patience was already thin, but now he was ready to blast something. But knowing he shouldn't chance gaining unwanted attention, he got to his feet and staggered towards the counter.
Hanso was already paying, after convincing the cashier to give a discount of course. He was twirling his own rose in his hand skillfully, somehow free from getting stuck by any of the thorns. The thief shot Jazan a smug look as he collected his change. "Ready to go, pardner?" He teased, heading towards the exit.
Jazan glared at the rose in his hand, vaguely wondering if it could be used as a weapon as well.
"Oh, Ixi... please tell me you're kidding."
"Didn't we go over this already? Gosh..."
"For Fyora's sake, I'm going crazy here..."
They were now standing in front of the Chocolate Factory, with Hanso silently contemplating what they were going to buy. Jazan hoped the thief would go in by himself. That much sugary sweets just... wasn't good for anyone. He gave a quiet groan, rubbing his forehead.
Hearing the king's noise of displeasure, Hanso looked back. "You're doing this by your own inclination, you know."
"Just go in."
The minute they walked in, the scent of chocolate greeted them. It reined Hanso further into the shop, staring at the goods greedily, as Jazan reluctantly moved ahead.
"Please don't try buying anything redundant. We buy the necessity, then leave," Jazan insisted, attempting to keep his voice firm even though the overly-sweet smells made him want to gag.
"Killjoy," Hanso murmured low enough not to be heard as he headed to the other side of the shop.
Jazan turned to follow, almost running into a worker holding a tray of who-knew-what. She smiled brightly and held it out to the suffering king, looking on hopefully. "Free sample, sir?"
He spared a look at the treats and groaned.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Shoyrus.
"Um... no, thank you." He tried to sidestep the young woman but she only moved ahead of him.
"C'mon, now. Don't be a grump. These really are good," she insisted with a wider smile, if even possible.
"No. I'm okay. Thank you." Again, Jazan tried to push past her, but she only stayed in the way. "Sir, trust me, they're delicious!" She began to babble nonsense about reviews and ingredients as the king shot a look over her shoulder. Hanso was already paying. And he was stuck here, very close to being forced a peanut butter object shoved down his throat.
Ugh. Maybe he could ram his head against the wall a few times. It'd get this crazy girl away and it might alleviate his major headache.
"Please. Just move out of my way." Jazan knew his eyes were flashing red-orange, and that wasn't a good thing.
Yet, of course, this girl didn't listen and continued to talk.
"This is my first day of work! You'll make me happy because you'll be my first sampler! C'mon now, don't let me down!"
He was about ready to scream across the store for Hanso to hurry his tail and get him out of here. Trying to keep his temper in check, he sidestepped, only to be blocked. Moving to the other side, he was blocked again. He continued to move, the girl following, making them look like they were presenting an odd sort of dance.
"Please... just... MOVE!" He snapped, but the worker remained determined in getting him to try the sweets, undeterred by his shout. Everyone in the shop was staring now--because, he had to face it, he got loud when he was angry, it was why Nabile tried being by his side during aggravating ordeals--but this girl.
Wasn't. Shutting. Up.
Unable to take much more, he was about to simply shove her out of the way when the candy was brought to his face much like the rose from earlier. He sneezed from the unrecognizable scent, unable to hold back what he hated happening in public like this.
Minutes later, the two men were fast-walking away from the shop as quick as they could, Hanso hugging the objects to his chest.
"Uh... that girl won't stay a Scamander forever, right?"
"Give it a day or two," Jazan grimly answered.
"Oh, no! No, no, I will not! I have suffered through flowers and chocolates, I will NOT go through here! No!"
"You have to! You need to actually pick something this time..."
"I can say it again. I'll say it a thousand times. I'll climb my palace and scream it to the city! NO!"
Hanso grunted at the defiant king as he turned back to the store in front of him. The Grooming Parlour, the last stop. The thief knew he would look stupid going in there... and ya know, being a guy... but he just felt he needed a third thing to give Brynn.
He was having none of it.
"I'll get her a jewelry item. Or maybe even let her go on her own shopping spree. But going in there... you're asking too much, Ixi."
"We need just that one last thing..." Hanso pleaded. He really expected the conversation, but there was that small sliver of hope he wasn't going in there alone. Those hopes were dashed quickly just by Jazan's look.
"What else can we do?"
"I don't know, just... no."
"C'mon. You're really gonna let your wife down like that?"
Jazan's eyes flashed a red-orange and he growled, and Hanso cringed, not caring to be turned into that Chocolate Factory's worker's cousin. "Okay, know what? Never mind. I'll just go in myself! You can go on ahead and guard the things!" He shoved the roses and chocolate into the king's arms before stomping into the shop.
Jazan blinked, surprised by the thief's boldness. Out of all people, he wouldn't have expected the Ixi to just walk into such a demeaning shop that easily. That loyalty always made the king ponder.
He leaned against the wall, wondering how long the thief would take. But now he was feeling guilty. Hanso was taking that extra step to really wow Brynn and here he was, just following the thief like a Puppyblew. He should just snap on a collar and bound after the thief barking! This was ridiculous!
He flicked an ear in annoyance, wondering what his solution could be. Then out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a different shop that had been overlooked in their rush. It was far, but visible.
Well, speaking of Puppyblews...
Maybe it was time for him to show loyalty like Hanso and take that extra step.
He stood straight and exited the bazaar, entering the shop.
"I can't believe you."
"What are you implying?"
"I mean... seriously... I thought there was more of a chance you'd go into the shop than buy that."
Hanso pointed towards the squirming Puppyblew that Jazan was desperately trying to keep still. Teeth gritted, he held the pet down with a firm hold. "Stay."
The Puppyblew yipped and only struggled against his hand.
Jazan groaned as he tore off the ribbon he had tied around the pup's neck. Honestly, he had no idea what to do with it. He had tried multiple things from the ribbon to considering a paint job. But he guessed it didn't really matter. All that mattered was making Nabile happy.
"Hey, you didn't get an Angelpuss, so I find this lil' critter just fine." Hanso tapped the petpet's nose and it yipped again, rolling over on its back and looking pleadingly at the thief for a belly run.
"You think she'll like it?"
"Sure! I mean... you should know your wife, right?"
Jazan made a face and slammed his forehead against a conveniently placed wall.
At that moment, Brynn and Nabile appeared, with Brynn holding a wrapped gift box.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Hanso." And with that, she tossed the box into his lap, smiling secretly. He instantly tore it open and beamed at the object found in the box. "A new dagger! Awesome! I can go and show my expertise to everyone!" He held it up to the light, grinning proudly.
"Hurt anyone and that'll mysteriously find a way into your head," Brynn muttered, glaring to prove her point. Hanso smiled nervously before quickly shoving the weapon into his pocket. "Uhh... I got you something, too, Brynn."
Her glare eased up and surprise took on in her blue eyes. "What? Really?" She asked happily and edged forward.
"Yeah." Hanso reached behind him and removed the objects bought the day before.
"Oh, wow." Brynn stammered, taking in the rose, chocolate box, and wrapped gift box with the Grooming Parlour's logo on it. "I...I don't know what to say."
"Uhh... well, I wasn't sure what you'd like best." Hanso looked away, standing up and stepping back unsurely, feeling the heat begin in his cheeks.
Brynn closed the distance between them and threw her arms around him. "I love it."
Hanso continued to stand awkwardly, blushing profusely and having no idea what to do or say next.
Nabile smiled at the two before turning to her husband, who seemed to be struggling to hold something behind him. He whispered harshly over his shoulder and instantly snapped to attention when the queen cleared her throat. "Are you hiding something?"
Brynn walked forward with Hanso's gifts in her arms, thoroughly confused at the king's expression. "Yeah, he does look like he is..."
Hanso smirked. "He is. He has a few gifts to give too."
Nabile smiled excitedly, her eyes gleaming. "Really?!" She squealed, seeming even more curious than Brynn had been.
Jazan coughed. "Well, it was partly Hanso's idea..."
The thief struck a heroic pose, pointing his nose to the sky. "I'm just awesome like that."
"Don't push it," the king growled and Hanso quickly let his arms fall back to his sides.
"Well? What'd you get?"
Hanso removed the king's share of roses and chocolates from its hiding place and held it up. "This, and--"
At that moment, the Puppyblew escaped Jazan's hands and he nearly stumbled forward as the petpet ran forward, yipping and staring up towards Nabile with its tongue lolling out.
"Jazan!" Nabile gasped as Brynn's mouth fell open. The king winced and stepped back, quickly trying to muster up an excuse. "Uhh... Hanso did it."
But the female thief bent forward and scooped up the furball of energy. "It's adorable! I love it!"
Hanso harrumphed, crossing his arms. "Don't blame me. I chose the roses and chocolates... but that was all him."
Nabile beamed and snuggled against the squirming petpet. "I absolutely love it! You've really surprised me here!"
Still a bit dazed, the king coughed awkwardly as he regained his composure. "So this makes up for turning that girl into a Scamander?"
Nabile looked up accusingly. "...huh?"
"...I love you, too?"
The queen rolled her eyes, but returned his anxious smile. "Most definitely." She quickly hugged him and both her and Brynn disappeared down the street, talking up a storm while showing off their gifts.
Jazan moaned as he collapsed into the bench behind him, throwing an arm over his face. "That was nerve-wracking."
"It worked, though!" Hanso assured, smirking. "But face it. You wouldn't have gotten that reaction without me."
"Don't make me try to confess anything," Jazan huffed, abruptly cutting off the talkative thief. "Except for one thing."
The king turned his head, wanting to fall asleep on the spot.
"Women are confusing."