Vanitessa shivered, her forest-green pelt wet from the rain. She was currently in a cardboard box, taking shelter from the steady rain, drenched, cold, and so very alone. With not even a petpet to accompany her, she wondered how she had made it even this long.
She glanced around the perimeter, seeing a variety of neopets and their owners strolling about Neovia, acting as if they didn't have a care in the world, their umbrellas held high to shelter themselves from the horrid rain. Not only that, but there was a terrible wind that blew and chilled Vanitessa to the bone. Drenched as she was, it was no wonder at all.
She glanced at all who passed by, giving them a piteous look and whimpering ever so slightly. Maybe, just maybe, someone would pity her and take her home. Surely no one was that heartless as to let the poor thing freeze in the windy, rainy night?
But if they saw the poor Xweetok, they gave no notice, for they kept on walking in their warm, NeoCash-esque clothes, warm and toasty. It was in the beginning of December, and it certainly was not a warm winter thus far.
Finally, when Vanitessa thought she was about to freeze to death, one of the girls that passed by her stopped. She crouched, holding her umbrella in one hand and the other on her left knee, and peered in the box at the poor creature that was Vanitessa. She gasped, her blue eyes round behind her glasses.
"My gosh, you poor thing!" she exclaimed, immediately reaching a hand out to Vanitessa. "Come, I'll take you home where you'll be nice and warm."
Home? Warm? Both of those things sounded nice to Vanitessa. She smiled a bit and walked out with her tail down as the girl scooped her up into her arms and held the umbrella over the both of them.
"My name's Kuma, just so you know," the girl said, holding Vanitessa like she was that precious to her already. She looked at her and smiled though she kept walking. "What's your name? Surely you've gotten one."
Vanitessa hesitated a bit, then said in a shy, low voice, "Vanitessa."
"Vanitessa," Kuma mused, saying it multiple times before grinning widely. She seemed a bit eccentric, but Vanitessa liked her already. "Yes, I like that name a lot!" With a bounce, she looked down at the green Xweetok, frowning. "Sorry if I scared you, dear, I'm just excited to have found a new family member! Oh, but don't be offended if Zev acts a bit strange at first. He's not the most welcoming Krawk, but he'll come around."
Vanitessa nodded, smiling a bit. She was starting to like this girl already.
Soon enough they were out of Neovia and into the Haunted Woods. They went in deeper and deeper, until finally they came across a house. By now it had stopped raining, and Kuma didn't have to hold the umbrella over them any longer. She folded it up, tied a strap around it, then rang the doorbell. They waited and waited, but no one came. Vanitessa was a bit confused. What was taking so long?
But finally, they heard an annoyed little grunt, and a rather intimidating Camouflage Krawk with pirate clothes on glared at them, especially Vanitessa, then let Kuma in.
"Who is this?" he growled, obviously referring to Vanitessa. She frowned, feeling frightened, but Kuma gave the Krawk a look and he backed off a bit.
"Go get Dasha and Arri, then I'll tell you all," Kuma said. By her tone and facial expression, it was an order from her, and that was that. He would obey. Even Zev knew his place, even if he let out a dissatisfied grunt, and opened his jaws to scream out something to the others.
Soon, Vanitessa saw a disco Lutari with very pretty markings all over her blue fur walk in wearing a cherry blossom dress and necklace. She gave Vanitessa a warm smile, and Vanitessa returned it, not wanting to be rude.
Next was a very pretty faerie Kougra who, surprisingly, was much smaller than Vanitessa herself, who was actually very small. She fluttered in elegantly, and when she saw Vanitessa, she grinned immediately. This was far better than the greeting she'd gotten from Zev!
Kuma suddenly sat down on the sofa, Vanitessa still in her lap. "Zevario, Naiarri, Hadashah," Kuma began, and everyone took a seat near Kuma. "This is Vanitessa, and she's going to be living with us. I found the poor thing in Neovia when I went shopping, and I just couldn't leave her there to freeze to death in the gusty wind and terrible rain!" Sympathy flashed in Dasha and Arri's eyes, but Zev snorted and looked the other way.
"I'm not sure how long she'll be staying with us," Kuma said, and Zev brightened a bit at that before Kuma added, with a certain look at him, "but we are going to make her feel welcome, no matter how long her stay is. Is that understood?"
Three heads nodded, two out of three enthusiastic. After the meeting was dismissed, Kuma finally let Vanitessa down on the sofa. Kuma smiled warmly at her.
"Now, dear, I'm going to fix up a room for you and make something for you to eat," she said with certainty. "What do you like to eat?"
"Anything." Vanitessa nodded politely, a small smile on her face. Kuma chuckled a bit.
"So polite! You three should take a lesson from her." Kuma smiled at the Xweetok, and Vanitessa felt like she was at home already.
But then, with a chill, she realized...
Would this always be home?
A few days, perhaps a week had passed, and Vanitessa still lived with Kuma and her pets. She had her own room, was fed three square meals a day (plus snacks) and had even been given her very own petpet, a green faellie whom she named Emerald. Vanitessa was content with being green herself, and so she and Emerald (who she sometimes called 'Emmy') matched perfectly.
The two were inseparable, and Vanitessa felt loved, not only by Emerald but by Kuma, Dasha, and Arri. Zev still had not come around, but Vanitessa noticed a bit of a change in his behavior. Since Vanitessa was not loud and rude like Arri, or a bit overwhelming like Dasha, Zev said that he "could put up with her", whatever that meant. Vanitessa guessed it was a good thing.
And finally, a very special day came.
"Everyone, I have made a very important decision." Kuma called for a meeting with those words, and everyone knew it. Dasha and her Tasu, Wintergreen, ran to go sit on the sofa. Zev and his Pirate Mallard, Arr, sitting on the sofa. And Arri and her Christmas Yooyu, Blossom, sitting on the other sofa. Vanitessa walked over to sit by Kuma, where she usually sat.
"I have decided that Vanitessa will stay," Kuma said with a smile at the Xweetok. Her eyes grew round with joy, and it only increased as she went on. "And she will be painted faerie."
Faerie! What an honor! Faerie was such an expensive, delightful color; it was every female neopet's dream color, aside from royalgirl! But Vanitessa would not take it without a fight.
"No, really, you don't have to paint me." She spoke up, smiling wholeheartedly. Even Zev could tell she wasn't faking it. "I'm happy enough just to know I can live with you guys!"
Kuma frowned, pulling something out from behind her back. "But I already bought it," she sniffed, feigning sadness. She looked down at her feet. "I thought you'd be happy."
"I am happy," Vanitessa giggled, and Kuma brightened. "If that's what you really want to do..."
"It is!" Kuma broke in, giggling like mad and picking the Xweetok up, suddenly going insane. (It happened sometimes.) "We're going right exactly now!"
"Whoa!" Vanitessa screamed, and Dasha and Arri laughed hysterically. Even Zev chuckled. Kuma ran the whole way to Neopia Central, Vanitessa feeling like she'd fall from Kuma's arms at any given moment, but Kuma never slowed down. She kept going and going.
Finally they reached the Rainbow Pool, and Kuma finally looked winded then. "This... will... be... great!" she puffed, and Vanitessa waited until her, now owner, calmed down. When Kuma caught her breath, Vanitessa took the paint brush in her mouth, dropped it in the Rainbow Pool, and jumped on inside.
When she emerged, she now had two beautiful, glistening wings, cute little antennae sticking out from the top of her head, and an even more gorgeous green pelt. She started laughing happily, then leaped into Kuma's arms.
"I bet this is the best day of your life, huh?" Kuma asked, giggling as she hugged her pet.
Vanitessa shook her head, backing her head up a bit from Kuma's face. "No way! I mean, yeah, today's been awesome, but you know what the best day of my life was?" Kuma shook her head and shrugged. Vanitessa went on, grinning like mad, "The best day of my life is when you came and found me!"
And from that day forth, little Vanitessa's life was forever changed.