Tales of Cadmium, Athena, and Saffron: The Fight - Part Eight
Despite the threesome's weeklong efforts to get Cadmium and Athena to stop arguing, the Royal Aisha and Faerie Peophin would have none of it.
On Tuesday, Cadmium spread a rumor that Athena was a Sloth minion. She did such a good job persuading the school that the Faerie Peophin's gentle, pretty exterior hid a vile heart bent on world domination that even some of the teachers were giving Athena sideways glances.
To get back at her, Athena and Misty washed the Royal Aisha's favorite sweater in hot water and made it shrink to petpet-sized proportions.
Claiming that it her parents did it to her and her sister and that she and her sister always emerged hugging and laughing, Marcie convinced Saffron and Brett to lock Athena and Cadmium in their bedroom. "They'll either make up or kill each other," Marcie promised. Grimacing, the girl added, "Hopefully it'll be the former, not the latter." Neither happened. The yelling from inside Cadmium, Athena, and Saffron's bedroom was so loud that the neighbors threatened to call the Defenders of Neopia.
On Wednesday, Cadmium had Elyse announce that Athena did illegal scientific experiments on Meepits.
Horrified, Athena and Misty did the only logical thing: they put a Meepit in Cadmium's bathroom and let it eat her makeup. The Meepit liked the taste so much that he ate too much of it and threw up blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow on Cadmium's favorite towel.
In a desperate attempt to remind the two how much the other meant to her, Brett talked incessantly about Athena to Cadmium; and Saffron did the same about Cadmium to Athena. That was disastrous: Athena threatened never to speak to Saffron again but realized that she'd already lost one friend and wasn't about to lose another; and Cadmium ignored Brett and talked to Elyse instead. Thankfully, as per Saffron's request in exchange for buying her a necklace to go with her dress, she talked to the White Kyrii about her Boochi encounter and got the information Saffron needed for her article.
On Thursday, Saffron turned in her rewritten account of Elyse's Boochi encounter. To the Yellow Xweetok's relief, Mr. O'Meerca accepted the article and praised her amazing talent.
Elyse's crew went around school wearing - you guessed it - two gallon hats. When asked what they were, they all giggled and replied, "Oh, we're Athena!"
Athena and Misty were so steamed that they poured chocolate sauce on Cadmium's party dress and - as if that weren't bad enough - let Miracle, Ivy, and Spark (Misty's Faerie Peo) eat it.
To placate Cadmium, Saffron and Brett bought Cadmium another dress; to appease Athena, they burned the Royal Aisha's two gallon hat. But it wasn't enough.
On Friday, Cadmium, Elyse, Jessica, Tansy, and Yvette were too busy getting ready for the dance competition to do anything. But the Royal Aisha was still mad at the Faerie Peophin; and the Faerie Peophin refused to forgive her sister for deserting her.
"We didn't tell the school any, like, totally deep, dark secrets about Athena today!" Jessica announced. The group had just finished their final practice at Elyse's house and was now sitting around eating dinner and discussing what Jessica would have to do since she hadn't completed Yvette's dare on Monday. The Starry Usul, of course, had been trying desperately to change the subject and had said the first thing that came to mind.
Cadmium's green eyes flashed. "I want to do something more than just make up some story about her and tell the school." She took a bite of shrimp and grinned. This was just the opportunity the Royal Aisha had been waiting for. The idea had come to her last night while she was trying on the new dress that Saffron and Brett had purchased for her. Cadmium had felt a stab of frustration as she realized that the other dress, the one Athena and Misty had, like, totally ruined, would look nicer. Then that reminded her how angry she was at Athena. The Aisha had spent the rest of the evening brooding over an appropriate response to her traitor sister's actions.
Spearing a carrot with her fork, Tansy spoke up. "You mean Athena really isn't, like, a total Sloth minion? And she doesn't do experiments on Meepits?" The Plushie Cybunny's button nose wrinkled in confusion.
Yvette rolled her eyes and ate some of her rice. "Nooooooooo." The Pirate Lupess's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Caddy here made that up. A stroke of brilliance, if ya ask me." She shot a smile at Cadmium.
"I think you need to do exactly to her what she did to you," Elyse proposed. The White Kyrii took a sip of her NeoCola and continued. "She destroyed something of yours that you loved; it's only natural that you reciprocate." Elyse looked straight at Cadmium with her piercing gray eyes. "And I know exactly what you should do."
Moonlight shone on the two pets in the backyard. Reflecting off the fur of one of the creatures, it made the pet even more beautiful and dazzling than she already was. And more noticeable.
"I told you that you should've worn something dark!" A harsh whisper came from one of the pets, who was dressed in a dark hooded shirt and black pants. "I'll bet they can totally see you from Kreludor!"
"I don't wear dark clothes," the other pet stated, in a voice tinged with annoyance. "Besides, you need me here in order to get this done right. Now where is it?" Trying to be as quiet as possible (and trying not to get dirty or break a nail), the White Kyrii rummaged around in the garden shed.
The Royal Aisha approached, screwdrivers, hammer, and saw in hand. "It's over there, in the corner." She pointed with one of the screwdrivers to where a blue bicycle leaned against the shed's wall.
"Okay, so, put those tools down and go get it," Elyse demanded.
"Why can't you?" Cadmium argued.
"You're joking, right, friend," the White Kyrii stated, rather than asked. "You don't expect me to go over there, in that dirty corner with cobwebs the size of my head, and wheel over that dirty piece of metal and rubber, do you?" she purred. A twisted smile came across her face. "Oh, look, here's your invitation to my party. I could just-" she put a paw on either side of the piece of stationery and ripped it ever so slightly - "tear it up, and nobody would ever know it existed." Elyse's lips curved into a regular smile, and her eyes glinted. "But I don't really want to do that. So don't make me."
Heaving a sigh, Cadmium put the tools on the shed's floor and went over to retrieve the bicycle. She wheeled it over, and the two pets set to work. "How do you know how to do this?" the Royal Aisha questioned, her lips pursed in concentration.
The White Kyrii shot her a hard look. "That's for me to know, and for you not to find out."
Surprised, Cadmium replied, "All right." She decided to change the subject. "Do I cut it right here?" She positioned the saw above the bike's handlebars.
"Yes. And that's it." Elyse stood up, brushed her hands off, and looked at the bike in satisfaction. "Perfect. As soon as Athena tries to get on that piece of junk, it'll fall apart."
Cadmium's eyes gleamed maliciously in anticipation. "And I know for a fact that she can't afford a new one. Serves her right."
Sighing deeply, Saffron braced herself for one more attempt to get Athena to apologize. The Yellow Xweetok stood in the bathroom, where she had spent the last twenty minutes brushing her hair and procrastinating going downstairs to face her Faerie Peophin sister. She and Brett had hoped to get her sisters to reconcile before Elspeth's return, but it seemed that only their owner would be able to talk some sense into them. Saffron had decided that morning that there was only one thing left to try. Thankfully, Cadmium had spent the night at Elyse's house, so it was just she, Athena, and the petpets in the house. The Yellow Xweetok walked grudgingly down the hall, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. She was shocked by the sight that met her eyes.
Athena was sitting at the table, her head on her arms, sobbing. From the puddle on the floor, Saffron guessed that Athena had been crying for a long time. Startled by Saffron's approaching footsteps, the Faerie Peophin sat straight up, looked at her sister with hazy eyes, and swiped at her face, embarrassed. She took a shuddering breath and spoke. "I - I... Oh, Saffron!" She burst into tears again.
Worried, Saffron went over to her sister. "Athena? What's wrong?" She took the seat next to the Faerie Peophin and rubbed Athena's arm. "Please tell me."
Sensing her owner's distress, Ivy flew over and landed on the table. She nudged her mistress's face and cooed wooriedly.
Athena gasped and tried again to compose herself. "I – I - I'm just so sick of it all!" she declared. A lone tear made its way down her face.
"Sick of what?" Saffron asked, confused. "Look, how about you explain and I'll find something for us to eat for lunch." Food was something she was good at, Saffron decided. Food didn't require counseling or consoling. Food didn't cry or get revenge or gossip. Girl, you've lost it, her brain quipped. Saffron didn't feel like arguing with her brain; instead she made tuna and cheese sandwiches and carried them, along with two apples, two water bottles, and two chocolate dipped Peophin cookies over to the table. She sat down and munched on her lunch while Athena's sobs quieted down to hiccups.
"I'm *hic* sick of getting revenge. *Hic* I'm tired of feeling like I have to get revenge. I hate what getting revenge has done to me, how it made me feel. I was so angry," Athena admitted, her voice filled with anguish. "I couldn't believe Cadmium would do that to me, that she would betray me like she did. *hic* It hurt. More than I could ever say - and more than I wanted to admit. Getting *hic* revenge seemed like an easy way to cover up my feelings and show Cadmium that I don't take things too seriously." Realizing how hungry she was, Athena took a huge bite of her sandwich and chewed gratefully.
"But all getting revenge did was make you just like her," Saffron said. Unsure of what to say next and worried about how Athena would react, the Yellow Xweetok nibbled at her apple.
At first, Athena was angry at Saffron's words. She opened her mouth to protest when realization hit her. Saffron was right. "I know," she sighed. "But I didn't know what else to do. When Cadmium turned her back on me when I was crying at school, I felt like she'd stabbed me. She might as well have. She's my best friend," Athena stated, her blue eyes brimming with tears again. "And I've lost her." Trying to stop from crying, Athena chomped her apple. It didn't work; the tears spilled over and soaked her napkin.
"No, you haven't!" Saffron declared, desperate to convince Athena of that. "You can still make this right!" The Xweetok stood up, determined to say what she'd been putting off saying all morning. "Go to the dance competition!" She braced herself for Athena to say no, that she still wasn't going to apologize, that it wouldn't work.
"All right," Athena whispered. "I will." Ignoring the look of shock that came over Saffron's face, the Faerie Peophin wolfed down the rest of her lunch, threw some cold water on her face, and left the room.
Slightly weirded out, Saffron ate her chocolate-dipped Peophin cookie. "Well, that was easy," she said to no one in particular. The Xweetok finished her own lunch and squealed in delight as she remembered that Brett was going to meet her in - she glanced at the clock in the kitchen - two minutes!
Maybe we'll hang out later, once this all blows over! Saffron thought gleefully.
Don't be too happy. Athena and Cadmium still haven't made up yet, her brain reminded her.
Saffron shook her head. She was too happy to argue much. Shut up, brain, she thought, and headed upstairs to fix herself up.
Athena pedaled down the street as fast as she could, determined to make it to the competition before it started - and, if at all possible, to get a seat in the front row. I wish I had time to make a poster or something, the Faerie Peophin thought. But her presence had to be enough.
While she zoomed down streets and around corners, she tried to think of the exact moment she had decided it wasn't worth it anymore, when she had given up on being angry with Cadmium - when she had realized revenge was just a cover for her true feelings - feelings of anger, yes, but also of betrayal, hurt, and sadness. She recalled that on Friday, she had actually been relieved when Cadmium hadn't had the time to spread a rumor about her and thus hadn't given her a reason for revenge. Although it had been satisfying at first, revenge had lost its sweetness about Thursday.
The Faerie Peophin remembered not being able to sleep the night before and going downstairs to get a snack - but ending up sitting at the table and, for no particular reason, crying. It had all come back to her around midnight. Cadmium turning her back on her. The rumors. The revenge. Anger that melted away to leave behind an overwhelming sadness that it might be too late.
Athena had decided to apologize, but she worried that it might not work. Cadmium might be so immersed in her new lifestyle as Elyse's best friend and one of the popular pets in school that she would reject Athena's apology and the two would never reconcile. That was what had caused her to cry from around two in the morning until five, when she finally fell asleep, and then from ten, when she had woken up, until eleven thirty, when Saffron had come down and knocked some sense into her. Going to the competition had crossed her mind once, but that had been around three when she was barely conscious and very weepy.
CLANK! The sound of falling metal startled Athena out of her memories. She chanced a glance backward and saw a screw flying off her bike tire. Panic rose in her chest as the Faerie Peophin watched the bike chain clatter to the pavement. She tried squeezing her breaks but found they didn't work. She tried everything she could to stop but ended up whizzing down the street, going faster and faster. A scream tore from her throat as more pieces of metal and rubber fell off. The tree loomed ahead before she could react. There was a bang, a flash of pain, and then nothing.
To be continued...