All pets are fictional. Dedicated to Dolcei.
I could hear them in the other room, talking about me as if I wasn't there.
"She's too out of control."
"We can't handle her."
After so many foster homes, it didn't bug me anymore. These last people had been pretty nice at first. They had even painted me shadow and bought me a Dr. Sloth Beanie. I love looking weird. I got caught up in a daydream about being called up on stage during a Twisted Roses concert and almost didn't notice my ex-foster parents scuttling out the door. Sara, my pretty purple Shoyru social worker, followed them out. She sat down on the floor next to me and leaned back against the wall.
"Another week, another family, eh?" She sighed, giving me an exhausted look. Her hair had that silky texture I could never get mine to have.
"What conditioner do you use?" I asked.
"Don't play games, Loki. That last family was willing to put up with your strange fashion sense and your bad-influence friends, but you can't blame them for not wanting a pet who gets in a fight with their other pet!"
"Selene was asking for it. She had this 'I'm a permanent pet with rich parents and you're not' attitude that really bugged me," I grumbled, looking down so that she couldn't see my face. Truth is, that pet really did have a bad attitude. She decided to make fun of me one day. When that didn't work, she started making fun of my family. Big mistake.
"Loki, she said something about your family, didn't she?" Sara said gently. I swear she can read minds.
"Yeah. The clueless little brat said they were probably a bunch of homeless beggars," I said in a strangled whisper. Just repeating her words made my blood boil with anger. You see, my parents were perfectly capable of taking care of me. Until, that is, they got into a bad ship wreck off the coast of Mystery Island and died. Now I'm just a poor, orphaned little Xweetok. Ha.
"I thought so. Ki, you have to get used to people saying stuff that's not true. You'll hear a lot of cruel words from people who don't even know what they're talking about as you get older. Sure, that girl deserved a good beating for saying that, but was it actually the right thing to do?" she said quietly. I have to give her credit; not only could she make me feel guilty, but she could get away with calling me Ki. My mom used to call me Ki...
My eyes suddenly filled with tears and a cold hand clenched my heart. I grabbed me bag and walked off to my room, ignoring Sara's last question. Was it the right thing to do? No, it wasn't, but no one disrespects my parents and gets away with it. I found my room and slipped inside. Someone was crying down the hall, filling the pound with their mournful sobs. I closed the door tightly to muffle the sound and threw myself onto the bed. The tears I had been holding back began to fall silently onto the pillow. How was I supposed to settle into a new home when I still missed my parents? The first thing people usually said when they took me home was, 'Call me Mom,' or 'Call me Dad.' How can they say that? They're not my parents! A familiar rage boiled through me, making me shudder and clench my fists until my fingers went numb.
I woke up to the sound of someone knocking on my door. I must have fallen asleep, because I was stiff, my tears were dry and the sunlight was fading from my window. I sat up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, then padded across the room. I peered out the peep-hole on the door to see Sara and a rather interesting human standing outside. With a sigh, I pushed open my door and stood back to let them in.
"Hello, Loki. This is Miss Fang; she's interested in adopting you!" Sara said in her fake, over-happy voice she put on in front of possible foster parents.
"Hi," I growled. The human in the door had coppery brown hair that fell to her waist and clothes that were somehow bright and colorful and punky all at once. I had to give her credit; she looked as strange as I strived to be.
"Hi yourself. Loki, eh? I'm Tay Fang. Call me Tay." The girl smiled slightly, making her eyes twinkle. I decided I might actually like her.
"Okay, Tay." I smirked.
"Like I haven't heard that one before." She smirked back. This was a first. I always out-smirk people.
"So, Miss Fang, will you be signing the forms?" Sara said, giving me an encouraging smile.
"Sure, let's go. Grab your bags, Loki," Tay said, grinning at me. It was a good thing I hadn't unpacked yet. I scurried after them down the hall, listening to Sara's fake-talk and Tay's polite tolerance. We shared an eye-roll as Sara let out a high-pitched giggle at something I had said.
Once we had finally made it out of the pound, Tay threw her arms out and spun in a delicate circle, right on the sidewalk. I pulled my hat lower over my eyes and did a rather good imitation of Sloth. She laughed hysterically and began to sing a silly song about worms and boots. I don't know if it was the extreme heat of the day or the freedom one always felt upon leaving the pound, but we acted like total loons the whole way home. It was the first time I had really laughed in so long. Finally we came to her house. after the walk home, I wasn't surprised to see a large house painted bright orange with white trim.
"Here we are. Your room is upstairs, at the end of the hall. Ask Akari to show you around. I have to cook dinner," Tay jabbered on, still energetic after the long walk. I nodded and darted upstairs, hoping to avoid any other pets. My hopes were ruined as I ran straight into a faerie Eyrie. She caught me before I fell back down the stairs.
"Careful, kid," she said. "Are you the foster kid Tay's so excited about?"
"Um, yeah, I guess. I'm Loki," I muttered awkwardly. It baffled me how she could sound so nice after I had almost knocked her over.
"I'm Akari. Come on, your room is over here. Seth and I fixed it up for you." She smiled and began to walk down the hall, waving for me to follow her. I noticed all the bedroom doors were decorated in a way that showed what their inhabitants were like. Akari's had a beautiful painting of a rainforest on it, while the door next to it had pictures clipped from fashion magazines tacked on. That one had to be Tay's. Opposite them was a door covered in band posters and a street sign. The street sign read "Asylumn Street."
"Here we are," Akari said, stopping in front of a plain white door. She opened the door and handed me a Gruundo Keychain with three keys dangling from it. "One is the house key, the blue one is to the shed in the yard where our bikes are, and the other is for your room. Tay believes you should always have complete control over your own bedroom."
I nodded and thanked her, then slipped inside and closed the door softly. The room was pretty bare, with blue-gray walls and filmy white curtains fluttering in the evening breeze. There was a bunk bed on the other side of the room, along with a desk and chair, a dresser, and a full length mirror. A little note on the desk read: 'Make a list of things you want for your room so we can decorate more!!' It was signed Tay with a little heart. Even her writing exhausted me. That girl had more energy than any human I had ever met.
I lay back on the bed, amazed by how comfortable it was. Today had been quite eventful. It took a few moments for me to make a list of basic facts.
1) My last foster parents said I was out of control.
2) The people in this house made me seem very sane.
3) Not once had Tay asked me to call her mom.
4) Tay had laughed at my jokes and had made me laugh for the first time in ages.
5) Akari hadn't gotten mad at me for running into her. She was way cooler than Selene.
6) These people were obviously very artistic.
7) Tay had complimented my hat.
8) If the smell was anything to go by, Tay was a good cook.
9) The view from my bedroom was amazing. Tay's gardens were beautiful.
10) I just said flowers were pretty.
I smiled and walked back to the kitchen. A roast chicken was already on the table, along with mashed potatoes. Tay was peeking at something in a pot, and Akari was pulling a loaf of bread from the oven. A Darigan Kougra sat at the table, listening to his CD player. That had to be Seth. Tay looked up and smiled at me, before yelping and pulling something off the stove, muttering about overcooking. Finally all the food was ready and everyone got seated.
"Okay, guys, who wants to go first?" Tay said. Akari waved her hand wildly until Tay laughed and told her she could begin.
"I would like to thank the faeries for bringing Loki into our house. She has had a hard life, and I hope she finds a nice home here." Akari grinned at me. "Seth, your turn!"
"I would like to thank the Faeries for giving me such a cool family, and for letting Loki come here. I hope she knows we love her already," he muttered, sounding fashionably bored.
"My turn!" Tay giggled. "I would like to thank the Faeries for all my amazing pets. Akari, my oldest, is a beautiful young girl with a painter's eye. Seth, my only son, is a musical genius. And Loki, my new daughter, is a strong girl with a strong soul, who has seen more than we can imagine and lived to stand tall. I hope she finds it in her heart to stay here with us."
I sat there quietly, holding back tears. Finally I realised it was my turn to talk. I took a deep breath and smiled at them. Tay, my crazy new mom who had never treated me like anything less than a princess, Akari, who knew from the start that all I wanted was a patient friend, Seth who I hadn't even met yet but I already knew would have my back in any fight. I wasn't just a foster kid here. I was part of the family.
"I'd like to thank the Faeries for bringing me here. My parents died three years ago, and since then every place I've stayed has made me feel like a stranger. They all expected me to automatically be grateful to them for taking me in. The second I met Tay, she made me feel like I was special. She made me laugh and showed me she actually cared. I was kicked out of my last home for fighting with the daughter there, a girl who knew nothing about my life and made fun of my family. I guess I expected you to be like that, Akari. But even after our rude meeting, you stopped me from falling and welcomed me home. Seth is the big brother I always wanted, and often needed when I got into trouble. I hope this family knows they are the best people I have ever met. I owe them a lot for showing me that I can have a new family and still love my parents. Thank you," I whispered the last part, feeling foolish. I had said too much, I knew it. No one said anything for a while, then Tay stood up, walked over, and hugged me. Akari followed, dragging Seth behind her.
"Welcome home, sweetheart," Tay murmured.