“Balvasar! Let’s play a game! Game! GAME!” Ezanoka tugged on my wing vertebrate.
I rolled my eyes and looked down at him, at the same time placing Ezanoka’s Shadow Lupe plushie on the table. I’d been sewing it up from where he and Nipper had been having a tug-of-war with it.
“What? I have to fix your plushie, and then we can play a game,” I said dismissively to the small Shadow Lupe.
Ezanoka shook his head. “We play NOW!”
I looked down at my little brother as he whined pleadingly. I, his Darigan counterpart (as Boof called me) shook my head and took up the plushie in my large paws. Gently, Ezanoka tugged on the tuft of fur that lined my elbow. Annoyed slightly, I looked back at Ezanoka to find him using his best “puppy eyes” look, whining pitifully in a pleading way.
I grunted and stood up, at the same time tucking the chair under the table with my back leg. A habit I’d picked up in Neoschool. “Fine, what is it?” I grumbled, knowing fully well how stubborn Ezanoka could be when he wanted.
“Name-game!” Ezanoka exclaimed.
“Well, Balvykins...” Ezanoka loved using the stupid nickname on me because I loathed it. I growled threateningly but Ezanoka kept on. “We get a letter of your name and think of a doing word, starting with the same letter. Like... bounce. And then you do it. It’s lots of fun!” he said so quickly I could barely catch a word.
I sighed, crouching down a little and jumping into the air briefly, landing with a heavy, heartless thud on the marble. Ezanoka clapped in his childish way.
“Okay, now. B-A. A? A. Hmm...” Ezanoka thought, scribbling my name onto a small bit of paper, so he could remember what letter came next. I thought hard. What action began with A?
“Auctioning?” I suggested lamely. Ezanoka’s ear perked. He clearly knew nothing of the Auctioning House, as Boof, our owner, only ever used the Trading Post for transactions. “Auctioning is where an item is put for sale, and people come and bid money on it. At the end of the auction, the person with the highest bid wins the item.” I briefly explained.
”So what would your action be?” Ezanoka asked. I mimed banging an auctioneer hammer onto my paw pad. Ezanoka nodded and crossed off the A on his notepad.
“The next one is L,” he said, thinking hard.
“L? Oh, that’s easy. Leap!” I leapt gracefully into the air and landed with a gentle click on the marble as my claws hit the ground. Ezanoka clapped in awe again.
“V is next,” I said as Ezanoka opened his mouth. After quickly checking his list, he nodded.
“Violating?” Ezanoka said. I nodded, briefly wondering why Ezanoka would know the meaning of that word, being in one of the youngest classes at Neoschool.
“How do you know – Oh, I remember now,” I said, remembering that after Ezanoka’s parents had died, he’d been taken in by a street Lupe, who had convinced him to rob the bank with him. Ezanoka, being as clumsy as he was, had gotten busted and taken in by Boof after being dumped at the pound. Of course he’d know the meaning of the word violated.
A strange sensation flicked through Ezanoka’s eyes. Older, meaner. Cold. Then he blinked, wagged his tail and the sensation was gone.
“What about an action?” he said. “This is the one they used on me.” He extended a paw and shook a claw at me, miming that of a school teacher, sticking his bottom lip out and lowering his eyebrows. I laughed at the silly face he pulled, copying the action, which in turn made Ezanoka laugh.
On a whim, I wrestled him to the ground and we had a play fight, growling and laughing and squirming with glee.
Suddenly there was a loud scraping noise, a bump and a smash. I looked over to see an old vase in shards on the floor next to the desk.
Boof’s face appeared through the door, framed with short, wavy blonde hair that stuck out in every direction like a mane. “Guys, if you’re gonna roughhouse, do it outside. You might break something I care about,” she said wearily.
Ezanoka grinned up at her in his innocent way and stopped gnawing on my ear. I sat up, dusting my forelegs off.
“What about that vase?” I said, expecting to be made to clear it up.
“I was planning to get rid of it,” Boof said, scratching her head in a thoughtful way. She looked over at us, cocking her head slightly. “Well, OUT!” She pointed to the back door. Ezanoka and I cheekily padded out through the kitchen.
I picked a spot under the large tree and made camp, while Ezanoka inspected the Sillie Daisies.
“Okay,” I said. “We’ve got another A. Do I just do my Auctioneer move again?” Ezanoka nodded, clearly losing interest with our game, too busy inspecting the whims of his nose.
I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, ignoring his protests, and dragged him back to the tree. He made me do this silly game, so we were going to finish it, whether Ezanoka liked it or not.
“S is next,” I said. “What can I do for S?”
“Slither!” Ezanoka said excitedly, turning his attention back to our game. He threw himself to the ground roughly and badly imitated a Hissi slithering. He looked kind of like a dying Sillie Daisy, which made me laugh again.
“Okay,” I said, testing the move out, less recklessly.
“We’ve got another A after your Slither. Geez, so many A’s! Why do you have so many A’s in your name, Balvasar?” he said. I frowned.
“I’ve only got three,” I said. “And blame my mother. She named me Balvasar. Just like your mother named you Ezanoka.” I pawed playfully at Ezanoka’s stomach, knocking him to the soft grass. He laughed and I began to tickle his stomach, knowing that Ezanoka loved stomach tickles.
I scratched my ear with my hind paw, allowing Ezanoka time to sit up.
“We just do another Auctioneer thing. Now, R! What begins with R?”
I got up and ran in a circle, chasing my tail. “Run!” I exclaimed gleefully once I’d come to a halt. Ezanoka grinned evilly and mimicked my action.
“Now what?” I said.
“We do it all together!” he exclaimed, grabbing my paw and pulling me onto all fours.
“B!” He bounced, much as I had done before. I did the same.
“A!” We mimed banging a hammer into a paw pad.
“L!” We did a synchronized leap, both landing at the same time.
“V!” Ezanoka and I extended our forelegs and wove our claws in a forbidding manner.
“A!” We both banged a pretend hammer onto our paw pads again.
“S!” We both dropped to the ground and slithered about.
“A!” We did the Auctioneer action again.
“R!” We both ran – straight into Boof, who was coming out of the back door with three glasses of orange juice, sending the lot pouring all over her front and face.
Boof, Ezanoka and I lay in a heap in the grass, slowly picking ourselves up. Grinning insanely, Boof licked the back of her hand and said, “Mmmmmm, orange juice!”