Lilo and the Yooyu
This story is dedicated to Team Roo Island. Good luck!
“Happy Day of Giving, Lilo, dear!” Junie smiled before walking away again. Lilo could soon hear her voice chatting away with a friend.
The little Blumaroo sighed as he looked out the window. Outside, a layer of powdery snow blanketed his yard and all beyond it. Frost laced its criss-cross patterns across the glass. Inside, however, it was warm and cozy. There was a sweet-smelling pine tree in the middle of the living room, lights blinking on its branches, ornaments glimmering happily. A fire crackled in the fireplace, joining in the excited conversations of Lilo’s guests with its crackling and snapping.
Lilo himself felt out of place in the room, be it his own house or not. Friends of his owner had come, and with them their pets, only a few of which Lilo had ever met. None of them seemed interested in talking to him, and he wanted it to stay that way. He just wished that Junie, his owner, wouldn’t make him feel so guilty about it.
“Lilo, how are you feeling?” she’d ask every five minutes, excusing herself from a conversation to walk to his window seat. “Do you need any food? Drink?”
“No, Mom,” Lilo would respond automatically.
“Don’t you want to talk to the other pets?” she’d urge.
Then Junie would tuck his blanket in tighter around his sides, feel his forehead, and worriedly glance at him one more time before rejoining her friends.
Downcast, Lilo turned his bloodshot eyes on the party. His living room was medium-sized, not too small, but not too big. It had a dark, cherry-colored, carpeted floor, and pristine white walls. It was exactly the same as it had always been, from before Lilo was created up to the present day.
The past year and a half had been rough on Lilo’s small family. It was like the poor Blumaroo’s immune system had just crashed, and all at once he came down with a horrible case of Neomonia. Then, not two weeks later, when the Neomonia had almost gone away, he started showing symptoms of the Neezles. Then came Blurred Vision, Achy Head, Floppy Tongue, Kikoughela on several occasions, Neopox, and, his latest ailment, NeoBlues combined with Neomonia (again).
Christmas and the month leading up to it had been his favorite time of year. Magic was everywhere, snow made things clean and new, the Advent Calendar held surprises every day... but he couldn’t find any pleasure in it anymore, not since he’d been sick. Not once all season had he gone outside with his little sister, Penny, to build a snow fort, his favorite snow day activity. He’d just stayed inside, eating chicken noodle soup, waiting for Junie to earn enough Neopoints for the cure he needed next. It was driving him insane! The only time Lilo was allowed out were on the Healing Springs trips that he and Junie made twice a week - the ones that rarely made him healthy again.
Lilo was feeling sorry for himself when Junie came over again. The Blumaroo groaned. It hadn’t even been five minutes since the last time she checked on him. There were concerned owners, and then there was Junie.
“I’m fine, Mom,” Lilo said, eyes shut as he leaned his head back on his pillow. “I’m not hungry, and I’m not thirsty.”
“Silly Lilo, I know that,” Junie laughed softly. “But one of my friends has just come, and she has a present for you.”
Lilo doubted the present would change his mood at all. Earlier that morning, he and Penny had opened their presents. If Lilo hadn’t been so sick, he would have been wild with delight at the practical but wonderful toys. Instead, he’d been blowing his nose and sighing all through the process of opening gifts. He’d told Junie yesterday - “If I don’t seem to like the presents, Mom, it’s not because I don’t appreciate them... I just can’t help it.” And Junie had replied sadly, sympathetically, “I know, Gummy. I know.”
Still, being the polite Blumaroo he was, Lilo did not complain or seem disappointed when Junie’s friend came over to his seat. It was one of the friends he actually recognized - was Sara her name? - and she smiled at Lilo as she presented a big wrapped box. Lilo tugged at the bow and all at once, out sprang a living object from its inside! It was too fast for Lilo to see what it was, and the creature bolted around the room, drawing shrieks from other guests.
Sara whistled and the little thing landed by her side. She picked it up and carefully handed it to Lilo. The creature sat on his chest and looked into his eyes curiously.
It was a petpet, at least, so Lilo thought. It was more like one of the starfish he’d found at the beach once, on the family trip to Mystery Island. It had a brown back, a golden yellow stomach, and five pointed arms. Its eyes were a stunning blue, and its mouth spread into a smile as it sniffed at Lilo.
“It’s called a Yooyu,” explained Sara. “Yoo-yoo. It’s an Altadorian petpet. One of my friends gave it to me. I would keep the poor little thing, but my pets all have petpets already. Will you take him, Lilo?”
Lilo stared at the Yooyu long and hard. It smiled and made small squeaking sounds. Finally, the Yooyu curled up on Lilo’s chest and fell asleep, breathing in time with the Blumaroo.
“Junie...?” Lilo looked to his owner, who was standing to the side. She nodded encouragingly, and Lilo took a few more minutes to stare at the sleeping petpet on his chest.
Rising, falling, inhaling, exhaling, in, out... the Yooyu and Lilo breathed as one. Cautiously, Lilo reached out and touched lightly the Yooyu’s brown outer shell with his paw. It was leathery and tough under his fingers, but as he stroked it, he heard a pleased clicking coming from the petpet. It had been rolled up in a tight ball, but now it relaxed and opened up ever so slightly. Lilo slowly moved his hand down and touched the yellow chest of the Yooyu.
That did the trick. The Yooyu completely went limp and rolled over on its back, begging for a stomach rub. Lilo smiled a little, the first smile in ages. It was hard to lift the corners of his mouth for that grin because of his NeoBlues, but Lilo tried his hardest. This made Junie cover her mouth with her hand in surprise, and she turned to Sara, not knowing what to say.
“We’ll leave you alone to decide, Lilo,” Sara said softly. She got up and tugged a reluctant Junie back into the party.
Lilo fell asleep with the Yooyu on his chest.
When he again awoke, Lilo did not at first open his eyes. He just lay there, knowing the Yooyu was still with him and feeling a strange safety and security. He hadn’t slept for too long; the party was still going on around him.
Lilo reached a hand out and started to sleepily stroke the Yooyu. He was almost back asleep when he felt someone shake one of his shoulders. He opened his eyes to see his sister Penny the pink Bori standing at his side.
“Oh, Li, what is it?” she cried, using her nickname for Lilo. Lilo realized she was looking at the Yooyu, sound asleep still.
“It’s a Yooyu, a Day of Giving present,” answered Lilo. “I get to decide if I want to keep him or not.”
“You have to DECIDE?” Penny said incredulously. “Why is there any doubt that you want to have such an adorable little powderpuff as your petpet?!”
“Penny, you know I hate it when you talk like that,” Lilo scowled, slightly annoyed. “I just want to get to know him better before I make my decision.”
“Well, lying there sleeping isn’t helping at all.” Penny crossed her arms. “Oh, yeah, and Mom wants to know if you want any Neggnogg.”
“...Yes please,” Lilo said slowly, making Penny’s jaw drop. Lilo's answer surprised himself as much as it surprised his sister. “That sounds good.”
“What?” she blinked. “You want Neggnogg? But you said that since you’ve got the NeoBlues, nothing’s tasted good...”
“I don’t know,” admitted Lilo. “I don't understand it myself. But suddenly, Neggnogg sounds really delicious.”
“I’ll... I’ll tell Mom!” Penny stood up and rushed over to Junie, excitedly babbling away about how Lilo needed a tall glass of Neggnogg pronto.
When Lilo did get his Neggnogg, Penny and Junie watched him drink it. He smiled and licked his lips. Never had anything tasted so sweet.
“Do we have anything to eat?” he asked. “I don’t think I’ve eaten all day.”
“You didn’t eat yesterday, either,” said Junie. “We have roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy...”
Lilo ate a big plate of Junie’s fabulous cooking, sharing bits with the Yooyu. When he had finished, he gently took the Yooyu in his paws and tried shakily to stand on his feet. He supported himself with his elbows as he stood, and then walked over to join the party.
Junie and Penny gaped, watching Lilo as he wobbled over to a group of pets his age. He sneezed and coughed, and was flushed, but he was grinning and talking as well.
“It’s a miracle!” Junie exclaimed.
“No,” Penny corrected. “It’s a Yooyu.”
Five years later, Lilo found himself standing in total darkness, with his Yooyu, Dice, on his shoulder. Slowly, a set of stone double-doors began to slide open slowly before him, letting brilliant rays of Altador sunlight shine on his face. Dice squeaked with excitement.
“It’s really happening,” whispered Lilo. “It’s really happening!”
He turned around to look at his teammates: Dayla the red Lenny, his left forward. Gordo the blue Grarrl, his right defender. Clutch the green Pteri, and old friend from Roo Island and his goalkeeper. Fenny the red Usul, his left defender. And Dice the Yooyu, his Day of Giving present, his petpet, his constant companion.
“We’re really here!” Lilo cried suddenly, jumping into the air and whooping. Gordo, Fenny, Dayla, and Clutch all did the same.
“Our first-ever Altador Cup,” breathed Fenny with awe. “Amazing.”
“It’s every team’s first-ever Altador Cup,” Dayla reminded her. “Except Altador’s, that is.”
The announcers began to call the newly-formed teams to the field.
“Mystery Island, led by Teylor Nix...Team Krawk Island, led by “Dasher” Soley... Shenkuu, led by Mirsha Grelinek...”
Lilo bit his lip and waited. Fenny nervously twitched her long ears. Gordo took a lot of deep breaths. Clutch kept adjusting his uniform. Dayla swayed from side to side. The suspense hung before them; the team was just waiting for their cue to burst through it and onto the giant Yooyu-Ball playing field.
The Altador Cup, an ancient tournament, had returned to Neopia after one thousand long years. Lilo, who had been practicing the new game “Yooyu-Ball” with Dice since it had become a neighborhood fad, had received a letter from the Altador Cup Association. They said that in the new tournament, they wanted a team from each Neopian land to compete - and they wanted Lilo to lead Team Roo Island! But with that letter, many more had come: offers for Lilo to join Team Mystery Island, Team Terror Mountain, Team Lost Desert, and many others. In the end, though, Lilo had decided to stay true to his homeland, however small and unglamorous it may seem, and to lead Team Roo Island to victory.
“Team Roo Island, led by Lilo Blumario...”
“That’s us!” Fenny started. “Come on!”
And with that, the team rushed forward - Lilo bouncing on his tail - out from the sides of the stadium into the field. There were cheers and claps and whistles as they ran. Lilo couldn’t see Penny and Junie and Sara in the throngs of people, but he knew they were watching him.
“With that,” the announcer, a disco Ixi, said into his microphone. “Let the games begin!”
All five of the Team Roo Island members formed a circle and stuck one of their paws in the middle. Dice rolled down Lilo’s arm and stood, curled up, on top of the pile of paws.
“One, two, three, ROO ISLAND!” they shouted, raising their hands. Dice was launched into the air, his magnificent brown body clashing against the Altadorian sun. Lilo caught him and placed him back on his shoulder.