My Name is Lavendrette: Part One
Lavendrette's hand hovered over the card she was playing; she glanced upwards anxiously at her opponent, her partner for quite a few years now, Icatrip. The mutant Acara was glaring at his own cards, completely oblivious to Lavendrette's play. She smirked, and the purple Grundo flipped her card over and pressed it towards Icatrip's clawed hand.
"Got you," she said bluntly, her orange-colored eyes glaring into his. Icatrip's own glazed pupils didn't move from the card Lavendrette held in her three-fingered hand.
"Really?" he asked incredulously, shoving the cards irritably away from him. "How come you always win?" He pushed back from the table and crossed his arms against his chest. "I swear, you cheat."
Lavendrette laughed, a hearty sound that calmed most people who walked by her side. "I do not cheat." she said simply, bouncing a finger his way. "I never cheat. Although... I do play the game, and ironically, I win all the time, yet do not cheat."
Icatrip laughed as well, but his laugh was more raspy and throaty, not the high-pitched, smooth sound that Lavendrette expelled. "Oh, Lavy, you just keep getting better and better every day," he teased, standing and shuffling the cards back together.
Lavendrette smirked again. "Kind of what I do best," she said, standing as well and helping Icatrip with the cards.
"I wonder what we're doing today..." the purple Grundo mused after about a moment. "The agency's been light on us lately...I can't help but ask myself if they think we're too weak for the big jobs out there."
Icatrip gathered the cards and bumped them against the table, putting them into order. "Nah," he said, brushing it away as if it were nothing. "Don't you fret none, Lavy; the agency's just... busy, you know? They'll tell us to do something eventually."
Lavy sighed. "I hope so," she murmured. "I'm getting bored; we can't just sit around playing at Cheat all day. I need action and adventure! Not some mundane card game every other day. Isn't that what you want, too, Icatrip?" she asked, eying her partner with the orange eyes that captivated many of her clients, and mesmerized countless other passers-by.
Icatrip shrugged, his own blue eyes darting off to the side. "I... don't know..." he drawled, pulling his mouth into a thin line and then turning to look at Lavendrette again. "Sometimes I have to wonder... what am I doing with my life? Sometimes I kind of want a family of my own, an owner and two sisters and a brother. Haven't you ever wanted that yourself?"
Lavy glowered at Icatrip, then grimaced. "No," she said simply. "No; I have never wanted an owner, two sisters and a brother. Never in my life."
Icatrip looked fairly shocked as Lavy's words pierced through his mind, and he was about to say something, opened his mouth to tell Lavendrette that she was wrong, and had been corrupted by the agent agency they worked for, corrupted by all of their hard deeds; that having a family to see every day was in fact the best thing any one Neopet could ever hope for, but... he closed his mouth again, grimaced, then nodded.
"Okay," he said. "I guess... everyone is entitled to their own opinion anyway." And he stuck the cards inside of an elastic band.
Lavy twiddled her fingers together, playing with them and examining them. Her heart was fluttering inside of her chest, and her stomach seemed to have dropped several inches in her gut; she was nervous. The head of the agency she worked for had called her in, and now she sat in his office, trying to take her mind off of the task at hand. Why did he want her? What for? Did she do something wrong? She had always tried to do her best at everything that happened? It wasn't because of hers and Icatrip's little conversation yesterday, was it? Icatrip had been right; she was entitled to her own opinion, but maybe the owner had heard, and was now punishing her for being so blunt and simple—for being so mean. She highly doubted it, but when she was worried, her imagination ran wild; so much so, that she began to think of these wacky and wild things that could, and would, for that matter, never happen.
"Where is he?" Lavendrette said out loud, slapping her hands down on the seat she was sitting on and pushing herself forward. "He called me in here—one would at least expect him to have the right mind to meet me here on time!"
"And I called you in here as a guest—one would at least expect you to have the right mind of showing a little patience."
Lavy whipped her head around at the boss's smooth voice; he was young, young for a Neopet anyway, and sported his red coat as if it were something to be proud of. The red Scorchio sat himself down by his desk, and eyed Lavendrette with blue irises; Lavy's mind swam with embarrassment and shame, and she shrunk back down in her chair, refusing to meet the boss's eyes. She didn't dare say a thing, and the boss just regarded her silence as obedience.
Finally, after a few more moments of pure silence, Lavendrette uttered, "Sorry, Hataro."
Hataro shrugged, his eyes darting to the side, then back again. "No problem, Lavendrette. And you're not in trouble, so no need to look like a cornered Buzzer."
Lavendrette picked her head up, her antennae lolling backwards. The purple Grundo furrowed her eyebrows, her orange eyes searching Hataro's. "I'm not?" she asked incredulously. "Even after all I said to Icatrip yesterday?"
Hataro stiffened. "What do you say to him?" he asked, but no sooner had the sentence gotten out of his mouth, had Lavy instantly replied, "Nothing; no, no, nothing at all."
Hataro drew back for a moment, silence penetrating through the room. He considered prying for more on the subject—after all, he cared for his fellow employees, and wanted them all to be happy and safe, but he knew Lavy—always thinking with her mouth instead of her mind; she was rash and hasty, and quite impatient...she liked things to get done right then and there. It was totally like her to say something rude to Icatrip if she were in a bind, or if she were angered in any way. He let the subject drop, and shrugged lightly.
"Anyway," he muttered, trying to change the topic. "You're here because of a mission I want you to fulfill."
This piqued Lavendrette's attention, and she lifted her head more, trying to look much more interested in the subject than she had just a few mere moments ago.
"Lately, we've been doing research on the average Neopian family, but we can't get much from just watching them from afar. We want you, one of our best agents, to go forth and become part of the family; I want you to learn what it is like to be part of an owner and four Neopets family."
Lavy shoved back her chair instantly, not liking this thing one bit. "No, no, no, no, no!" she hissed, standing up immediately and pressing her palms into the wooden desk. "I'm perfectly content staying here in the agency with you and Icatrip and playing Cheat all day, thank you very much!"
Hataro's eyes darkened as he glowered dangerously at Lavy, and he said, his voice low, "This is not a suggestion, Lavendrette. I am telling you that this is where you will be for the next few months. We need that information, and you are one of our best agents—I need you to do this! And I promise, it'll only be for a few quick months. Promise."
Lavy watched Hataro with hate in her glistening orange eyes; she had a lot of respect for the Scorchio, and usually he was fair in all matters, but this time he was going one step too far over the edge—he was playing a dangerous game here, and he knew it. But... Lavy also knew that she couldn't disobey her boss, her master, the one who sheltered her and fed her... the one who could control where she went and where she didn't.
The one who owned her life.
Maybe it would be easier—better—to get away from Hataro and the entire agency for a while. Maybe...
Lavy heaved a huge sigh, narrowing her eyes with distaste; they softened when she turned to glance at Hataro again, and, reluctantly, she murmured, "Fine, I'll do it." Then, jokingly, "Now, where's my raise?"
"Ironic, isn't it?"
Lavy looked up from where she stood; she was placed outside of the Neopian Pound, or so many called it, ready to face her future and what it might hold.
"How so?" she asked, glancing at Icatrip, who had joined her on the way to the Pound.
"Well," the mutant Acara began. "Just yesterday you were saying how you never wanted to have a family, and now, well, you're on your way to begin your life with a family."
Lavendrette sighed, and grumbled, "Don't remind me!"
Icatrip and Lavy exchanged a quick hug, bid each other farewell, and the purple Grundo slunk around behind the Neopian Pound and searched for an opening; she could peer through the barred windows, and shuddered. This place looked sullen and very foreboding. She wondered if she could get in through the windows somehow, but doubted it; for one, they were bolted shut, and vertical iron bars were inserted straight up and down inside of the openings that were supposed to be windows—there was no way that a Neopet as big as her could get inside of that—or outside, for that matter, she supposed.
Lavy crouched down and crept around the edge again, trying to search for any other openings that might yield even the slightest bit of opportunity for her to get inside, but she found that there was nothing there, and she was stuck outside. She let out an exasperated bit of breath, frustrated with the way this was going.
She abandoned her hope of exploring for an opening, and rounded the cold stone wall, peering to where the entrance was; she saw only one Neopet there, a pink Uni who looked unusually genial and jolly. Lavy watched with interest as one owner, a girl with bleach-blonde hair approached the Uni, and smiled at her. The Uni said something to the owner, and the girl responded with her own words. Gleefully, the pink Uni withdrew from her door, and opened it for the girl, pressuring her inside. As the Uni disappeared from sight into the Pound, she supposed it was, Lavy grasped at her chance to dart inside. She ducked down instantly and half crawled across the grassy ground, opening the door and whipping inside, leaning against the door heavily, almost slamming it shut. She pressed up against it, gathering her bearings; the purple Grundo didn't get very long to take a breather, however, for she soon heard footsteps, and whirled around to see a yellow Techo making his way down the corridors; he had a nasty, red-eyed glare, and glowered at every one of the Neopets in the cages lining the hallway. Some of them whimpered, while others shouted less than supportive words, and some few just huddled in the corners, looking upward at him with frightened, scared eyes, wet with tears and glistening with mist.
At that moment, Lavy felt bad for them, and couldn't dare imagine herself in their spots—Hataro couldn't possibly mean for her to stay here, could he? It was... it was unethical!
"How'd you get out of your cage?" The gruff voice startled her, and Lavendrette jumped up, her heart launching itself into her throat. "I thought I locked the doors!" The Techo that had uttered those words lurched forward, his large hands groping for her.
Lavy easily sidestepped him and stumbled down the hallway, tripping and tumbling as she went. She ran down until she reached a dead end—but no! There was another opening to the left! Feeling a faint glimmer of hope in her chest, she turned instantly and whirred down the hallway, only to find herself face-to-face with the Uni, who gasped and said, "Ah! Hey! What're you doing out?" Lavy, fueled only by her flight-or-fight instinct now, turned to run, but was again confronted by the yellow Techo, who wasted no time in grasping her and holding her firm, so she couldn't get out.
Lavendrette fought, struggling against the Techo's strong hands, but found she was no match for him at all, and eventually went limp, seeing that her fight for freedom was turning into nothing. She had tried to be defiant, tried to get out, but she wasn't strong enough.
She was walked down the hallway by the Techo, as the Uni skirted around them and headed up the hallway, back to the outside. The door clicked open, and then clicked shut, and then the Techo hoisted Lavy into a large, roomy cell. It was cold, though, and very dark, and the loud bang that followed her capture only enhanced the lonely feeling that began to creep through into her veins and up her neck like whiskers of ice tickling at her skin.
Lavy could feel the tears forming in her eyes, but she wiped them away with the back of her wrist.
All of these words raced into her mind as she tried to think of how to explain the place that she was now enclosed in. It was like a prison, like a cold, dark, dank prison full of crying Neopets and wet floors from their tears of loneliness. In the confusion, Lavy had forgotten that this was where she had wanted to be as well—that this was where she had wanted to get to in the first place.
Now, she could only wait, stand, watch, as the pounding in her chest calmed, and the tightness she felt in her heart loosened. Lavy's mouth upturned into a grimace of sadness, and the purple Grundo leaned up against the wall, feeling the pain that came with it as she bumped into the stone a little too hard, and being glad about it. She slid carefully down the edge, staring out into the corridor, listening to the footsteps that came with the Neopets who were paced down this hallway, only to be led to their doom. Lavy, full of dread for her life, wrapped her arms around her legs, which were now curled up against her body, bent at the knees, and held close to her chest. She hugged them tightly, not caring that the pressure she was putting on them was causing the imaginary pins and needles to spike at her calves. Lavy then put her head down on her knees, biting her lip, trying to hold it back. But it didn't work.
"Hey, wake up—wake up. Hello?"
Lavendrette lifted her head at the sweet voice caressing her. Lavy realized that she must have fallen asleep, for her orange eyes were blurry for a few mere moments, but they focused eventually, and her whole body ached from being squished up against the stone wall of the cell. She rubbed her eyes, and then trained them on the image of a young girl, possibly no more than thirteen or fourteen, squatting in front of her cage, delicate hands placed on her knees; she wore a huge, brace-covered smile, her cheeks wrinkling at the edges, and her hair was almost a perfect blend of blonde and orange tints. It was wavy and reached down to at least the small of her back, falling over her shoulders so it cascaded down in front of her.
Lavy watched the girl with unenthusiastic curiosity.
"Oh, good, you're awake," the girl chirped, smiling even brighter. "I'm Galaxy, nice to meet you." Lavy almost expected the girl to stick her hand out and offer to shake Lavy's, but the girl—Galaxy—just continued sitting there.
Lavy considered, and wanted to, for that matter, to smack that stupid grin off of the girl's face and snarl at her, "What are you doing? Get on with it!"
Galaxy and Lavy stared at one another for a few more moments, then Galaxy stood, hands on her hips, and continued smiling; after a little while of the two of them examining one another, Galaxy asked politely, carefully avoiding any touchy subjects, "So... do you want to come home with me? I think you'd make a great addition to my family."
Lavendrette was silent for what seemed like the longest time, her orange eyes focused entirely on Galaxy as if she were trying to read the girl's mind, trying to pry through her, see all of her secrets and mysteries, see everything that came with this young owner. Slowly, carefully, cautiously, even, Lavy stood, stretched her tired and stiff arms and legs, then glanced at Galaxy. She chose her next few words meticulously.
"Sure," she agreed as politely as she could. "I'd love to."
Lavy ducked as a vase came flying at the door and smashed against the circular window separating her and Galaxy from whatever riffraff was going on inside.
She was freezing, her arms hugging her prickling body, which was beginning to go numb due to the Terror Mountain winds. Galaxy had helplessly drawn a blanket from a small pack that she had been carrying, and draped it over Lavy's shivering shoulders, but the effect had been almost nothing—the purple Grundo was still freezing her antennae off in this bitter cold, snowy climate.
Galaxy laughed half-heartedly, shrugging.
"Oh, well," she said lightly, trying to joke around. "Welcome home, I guess."
Galaxy took the doorknob in her hand and pressed open the door; she leaned into it, then pushed it back against the wall, offering Lavy to go in first. She then shut the door with a bit of difficulty against the chilly, harsh winds of Terror Mountain, slamming it closed tightly. Once she had done that, she turned slowly, then looked around, almost as if searching for the Neopet that had chucked the vase. She sighed and shook her head, with a rueful glance at the broken and shattered porcelain on the ground, then called, "Clari, Nisc, Kess, come in here! I've got a surprise for you!"
A feminine voice came from up atop the second floor, "One minute! I'm doing something!"
However, footsteps came echoing from the stairwell nonetheless; these footsteps belonged to a yellow-coated Xweetok; his blue irises glittered with expectancy, but the light died as he cast his eyes on Lavy, his former expression of excitement morphing into that of suspicion and confusion.
Lavy was about to question this yellow Xweetok when a sort of dragging sound came from the other room, and a red Peophin trudged into the room, smiling when she saw her owner.
"Welcome back, Galaxy!" she greeted, eyes sparkling. She turned to Lavy and then smiled even broader. "Who is our guest?" She searched the purple Grundo up and down.
"I'll tell you in a minute," Galaxy promised. "Where's your sister? Nisceron, can you fetch Clari?"
Nisceron sighed, but relented, knowing he shouldn't disobey his owner. "Okay,"
He whirled around and clambered up the stairs, tumbling for a moment, tripping, but regaining his balance.
Lavy felt shards of ice stabbing her in the arms and chest. If this was to be her new home... Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered the conversation she and Icatrip had had.
Lavy, the secret agent, the purple Grundo, the Neopet with a fresh attitude, the daredevil, the risk taker...
Lavendrette was going to have a family consisting entirely of an owner, two sisters, and a brother.
To be continued...
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