Usuki Singing Stars #12: No Place Like Home
"They're here! They're here!" Cuddles exclaimed, jumping up and down on the living room sofa as he watched a black Uni-drawn carriage pull up against the front yard. "Hooray! I can't wait to see cousin Jhoud!" The snow Bruce cheered.
"And I can't wait to meet cousin Leimong!" said Sparkles, who was sitting right beside Cuddles. Both Bruces were waiting excitingly for their cousins to arrive ever since their father told them about the surprise last week.
"They will be staying with us because your Aunt Lei had decided to visit Maraqua," Snaw had said during dinner. "So it's very important for all four of you to help your cousins settle in with us for the duration of their stay. Okay?"
"Okay!" Cuddles agreed cheerfully. Sparkles had agreed as well, but Scary felt a little reluctant about letting a baby Aisha - and some other pet she's never met before - into the family's house.
"What if our 'newest cousin' is a total dud?" the purple Bruce asked Sparkles after dinner. "Do we even know her REAL name? And what if she's some idiotic glitter lover who doesn't mind salsa dancing in ugly pants? THEN what will we do?"
"Relax, Scary. I'm sure she won't be that bad," Sparkles insisted. "The only thing that we do know about her is that her name is Leimong. And besides; what are the odds that she would like salsa dancing and glitter as much as Snaw?"
"One in ten trillion," Scary muttered.
Sparkles just shook her head and had decided to accompany Cuddles in preparing the house for their visitors. While Sparkles swept the floors and remade the bed in the guest room, Cuddles had decided to bring out all of his plushies for Jhoud to play with when he arrived. He also helped with setting up a crib for Jhoud in Cuddles' room, which meant that the prepared guest room was going to be for Leimong. After a week of cleaning and arranging baby-safe toys, the two Bruces were pleased with their work and were very glad to spend the rest of their day waiting for their cousins to arrive.
And as soon as he saw two pets getting out of the black carriage and walking toward the house, Cuddles immediately ran to the front door to open it. With a big smile on his face, he looked down at a tiny baby Aisha walking on wobbly legs and cried, "Jhoudie! You can walk now!"
"Yep! I can now walk for five minutes without falling down," Jhoud said proudly. "And it's nice to see you again, Cuddies!"
After giving Cuddles a quick hug, Cuddles led Jhoudie to the living room while Sparkles waited anxiously for Leimong to walk through the door. As soon as she saw a red-headed speckled Aisha enter the house, Sparkles smiled and said, "You must be Leimong. I'm your cousin Sparkles, and I'm very excited to finally meet you!"
"Howdy," Leimong sighed glumly. Without offering to take her bags or coat, Sparkles watched as Leimong trudged her way up the stairs and into the upstairs bathroom.
After she had passed Leimong on the stairs, Scary cocked an eyebrow at her and quickly ran the rest of the way down. "Who's that?" she wondered.
"A very sad Aisha," Sparkles sighed.
"Oh good," Scary sighed, "because for a minute or two, I thought that emo-looking Aisha was supposed to be our cousin Lei-something!"
Sparkles just shook her head at Scary's comment. Although Leimong did seem very gloomy today, Sparkles couldn't help but feel like something was bothering her. But what could it be?
"So Sparkles, are you still coming with me to the big Grooming Parlour blow-out sale tomorrow?" Scary wondered.
"Maybe," said Sparkles. She looked over at Leimong and sighed. Leimong hadn't eaten any of her dinner yet. "But you know what; I think I'll try to spend some time with Leimong instead. Maybe she and I can-"
"Oh, it's quite alright," Leimong sighed as she poked her mashed potatoes with her fork. After she was done, Leimong quietly excused herself from the table to go to her guest room. "I don't feel very good today," she insisted, but Sparkles was beginning to feel doubtful.
After watching Jhoud devour his bowl of baby food, Sparkles asked him, "Say Jhoud, do you know why Leimong is so sad?"
"Of course," Jhoud insisted. "Leimong is just upset because she's really homesick. She said that she really misses her life in this farm place she used to live at before she was adopted." After finishing his answer, Jhoud gave Sparkles a wide smile and said, "Speaking of Leimong, is it okay if Cuddies and I split her dessert?"
"Sure," said Sparkles. After splitting Leimong's ice cream sundae between the two boys, Sparkles gasped and turned to Scary. "I think I know how we can cheer Leimong up!"
"You do?" Scary wondered. "How?"
"What if we invite Leimong to that big Grooming Parlour sale tomorrow?" Sparkles suggested. "I'm sure a quick shopping spree would cheer that Aisha right up!"
"I guess," said Scary. "And I suppose it wouldn't kill that hillbilly to beautify herself as well. But you will have to remind her yourself, okay?"
"Okay," Sparkles agreed excitingly. "Oh, tomorrow is going to be a very fun day for her, I'm sure of it!"
"Are you sure I wouldn't be a bother to y'all if I tag along on this lil' trip?" Leimong wondered. "Because I really don't wanna-"
"Oh, will you stop talking already!" Scary exclaimed with agony. She gave Leimong a quick glare before she reached into her purse for a compact mirror. "All this way the only thing you've done is whine about being a bother to us, whine about not needing any beauty products, and whine about your fear of wasting our time. Well, guess what, missy: YOU'VE ALREADY REACHED THAT GOAL!"
"Uhh, Scary...." Sparkles began, tapping her sister's shoulder to get her attention.
Scary waved a hand at her. "Not now, Sparkles," she insisted. "Anyways: all you've done today is whine, whine, and whine! Why don't you do both of us a favour and just leave!"
"But Scary, the-"
"I said not now, Sparkles! Now where was I? Oh yeah, the-"
"Well, saddle me up on a Uni called Buckley! That's the biggest crowd I've ever seen in my many years!" Leimong gasped as the girls approached the Grooming Parlour.
Not understanding what Leimong was saying, Scary looked at the Grooming Parlour and gasped. The whole store was flooded by aggressive Neopians who were pushing each other and grabbing whatever they could get! A pink banner was ripped in half and waving to the girls, as if telling them that they shouldn't enter the store at their own risks. "This stupid blow-out sale has destroyed the Grooming Parlour!" Scary exclaimed as she watched a red Usul break a store window. "Whose stupid idea was it to come here in the first place?"
"None of us is to blame for this rioting, Scary," Sparkles insisted. "And besides; both of us had wanted to go the Grooming Parlour's big sale, right? Yet it wasn't our intentions to know that a riot would happen - even though I tried to tell you about the riot when I first saw it a few minutes ago!"
"Oh, don't you try to argue this with me, sister!" Scary growled. "It was you who found the ad in the Neopian Times – say, where's that Lei-loner girl? Did she go inside the store or something?"
Sparkles shrugged her shoulders and looked around. When she noticed a red-headed speckled Aisha walking away from her, Sparkles waved her hands and shouted, "Leimong! Come back! We're sorry that the shopping trip didn't go as planned! Will you at least join us for smoothies?" After realizing that Leimong wasn't going to turn around and join them at the Smoothie Shop, Sparkles sighed and hung her head. "We blew it, Scary! We totally blew it!"
"Well, I blame the Neopian economy," Scary insisted, crossing her arms to show that she meant it. "I mean if you think about it, if our stupid economy was better than it is, then the Grooming Parlour wouldn't even need a blow-out sale! So because of this: I blame TNT."
"But it's still nobody's fault, right?" Sparkles wondered. "And besides, it's not the Grooming Parlour that I'm upset about. I'm just upset that we couldn't show Leimong a good time and that we couldn't distract her homesickness with something that'll cheer her right up."
"It's too bad that there are no farms nearby for her to visit," Scary pointed out. "Otherwise, we could have just taken her there and watch her pet grazing Kaus for who-knows-how-long. I'm sure that would have made her happy... even though she did need some cosmetics to make her prettier."
Sparkles nodded in agreement. Then she turned to Scary with a surprised look on her face. "Scary! Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"That we should abandon Leimong at the Pound, ship the baby and Cuddles to Mystery Island, and replace them with cut-outs after blinding our Aunt Lei?" asked Scary.
"Umm... not exactly," said Sparkles. "I do, however, have an awesome idea for Leimong! And I'm positive that it'll definitely help her feel right at home!"
"Sparkles, this is by far one of the dumbest ideas you've ever had!" Scary exclaimed as she painted some black spots on a white Kau. "Do we honestly need three Kau cut-outs for this stupid plan to work?"
"Well, it's the only way that we can help Leimong feel like she belongs here!" Sparkles insisted. "And besides, I think having a special country-style party will definitely lift Leimong's spirits right up! So if you could – hey Scary, where's all the hay I found at the Money Tree?"
"In me!" Cuddles giggled as he showed off his straw stuffed shirt and pants. "Look at me! I'm a scarecrow!"
"And I have some hay in my diaper!" Jhoud grinned. "I wanted to be a scare-baby!"
Sparkles groaned as she finished up setting up a red and white checkered table cloth on a barrel that she had also found at the Money Tree. As she looked around the dining room that she helped decorate, Sparkles was really pleased at all of the country-themed items that she could find. Though Cuddles and Jhoud had used up all of the hay that was scattered all over the floor, the chairs were still polished and the tablecloth matched perfectly with the cornucopia centerpiece that Sparkles had found in their attic.
"Everything's perfect for tonight!" Sparkles sighed with relief. "Now all we need is find Leimong and tell her to come join us downstairs-"
"What would y'all want with lil' old me?" Leimong drawled as she entered the dining room. All the pets gasped as they watched Leimong inspect the room with her suspicious-like eyes and firm mouth in place. Suddenly, Leimong began to giggle. And soon she began to burst out laughing in front of her brother and cousins!
"What's so funny? Is it my ugly farmer's overalls?" Scary demanded. "Because these stupid things were Sparkles' idea!! The same thing goes for these hideous decorations!"
"Oh it's not the outfit, and it's certainly not the décor!" Leimong insisted. She wiped tears out of both her eyes before she continued. "I'm just so deeply touched that y'all would go to such a crazy length to help lil' old Leimong fight her homesickness. While I admit that I was homesick for the past lil' while that I've been here, I can proudly say that this room certainly helps me feel like I'm back at my farm in the country! So thank you. Thank you, everybody."
"Group hug!" Sparkles exclaimed, hugging Leimong before anybody else could. After the group hug was over and dinner was over, Cuddles grabbed a speaker and began to play a 2 Gallon Hatz CD he got from a concert. As she square-danced with her partner Leimong, Sparkles smiled at the thought that she had finally made Leimong welcome in her home. She was also able to make Leimong feel more welcome in Neopia Central as well.