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Full of Toast and Underwater


by shadowstrand

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Building a House, Day 1: We were shown the new house. And by house, I mean field. Apparently, the house didn't come with a house. 85532 Market Street is now, apparently, ours to own.

      Luxary thinks the field/house is great, or rather, that the oversized marketplace down the street is great. Bane, as usual, will just roll with it. I don't even know if Jetta's old enough to understand, and I wonder, if he was, would he sympathise with my crushing feeling of dread?

      Don't get me wrong. I love my family. I accept that our owner's responsible for us. I respect that. I have trust that she wants the best for us. What I don't have is much faith in her knowing what that actually is. My past experiences with her taste in neohome d├ęcor is, on the few occasions that we left the neolodge to stay at home for a while, it was full of toast and underwater.

      The Maraqua part I get. Okay, yes, I am a magma Grarrl, but we had the explore tool and that worked. But the toast... I don't think that you can quite understand what agony means if you have not, in your lifetime, lived in a house furnished with heart toast sculptures and nothing else. We had a sofa, once, and it was still there- the last time I saw it, it was floating in the seawater, drifting off to spend the rest of its sad little life in the ocean. Houses like that do things to people. You get that I have Neohome issues.

      Day 2: When the first room was built, she walked us in and announced "This is our kitchen! From now on, this is where we cook!"

      Bane trotted over to the dining table and examined one of the chairs, a stool I think was made of stone. "How do I... sit on these?"

      "Like your siblings."

      "I can't sit like that!"

      "Yes you can. I have seen you walk around on two legs. You just don't because you think it's cool."

      "It IS cool." He grinned. "That's what we Lupes do. Not my fault Luxary's a loser, Rips has small arms and Jetta has no legs."

      "My arms aren't small!" I protested and looked defensively at my (somewhat small) arms.

      Luxary jumped over the table and then under it like some kind of feral Xweetok. "These aren't chairs. These are stone boxes you've turned upside-down."

      "Budget chairs."

      "...in fact, these are two tables you stuck together-"

      "Budget table."

      "-By stabbing them with a third table. How did you put the legs in like that?"

      "Unique tablecloth."

      The kitchen looked normal. Suspiciously so.

      "Uh... You're not going to add any toast here, are you?"

      "Not here."

      "Not... here?"

      "This is a... food-y enough room already." She nodded. "We don't need any of those. We do have a toaster."

      Omelette for dinner, or rather, junk items for me and omelette for everyone else. Still, maybe this won't be too bad.

      Day 3: "Hey, Rips," said Tata, "What do you think is a good sitting-room colour?"

      "I... don't really know! Orange?"

      "Orange." She pondered. "Orange. I like that."

      She left for furniture, for our new, second room. She was gone for about half an hour and returned with thirty-five rugs. All of them identical. "Sale," was the only explanation she provided. I left for the inventory/kitchen, to investigate what else she'd got. I was not impressed.

      "Bane, you were the active pet. How... did you let this happen?"

      "I got her to buy the dining tables." He grinned.

      "There's twelve of them!"

      "Yeah, I thought they were nice."

      "It's done!" called Tata before I respond. Jetta emerged from a drawer, and by this point, I'd learned better than to wonder how a baby Jetsam could get into a set of drawers, so I just picked him up and entered the sitting room. I put his back down again before I set him on fire. Just in time.

      "Ow!" Bane winced from behind me. "Sorry, Rips, not you, I meant the room."

      "It's not that bad!" Tata said defensively.

      "Why is it... so...?"

      "You said orange!"

      "He said orange, not... ORANGE," Bane replied dryly.

      It was orange. Thirty-five Altador rugs, orange windows and more-or-less orange furniture make a room that is very... orange. Intensely so.

      "You know what we should get?" said Luxary dreamily as she wondered in. "Some houseplants. Ooh, orange! We should get a house-tree for this room."

      "House-tree..." murmured Tata thoughtfully.

      I give up.

      Day 4: I woke up to the sound of banging. Of course, the builders might just have been working on the next room, I supposed; nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I investigated.

      "Oh," I said as I entered the third room, because I couldn't really manage anything else.

      "Hey, Rips," Bane said and smashed a Zen Drawer on the floor. It broke a hole in the floorboards and fell through.

      "I..." I was still unable to elaborate on 'oh'.

      "We're building a passage to our old neohome," Bane informed me, "Wasn't my idea, man, I'm just here."

      He cheerfully turned away, picked up a drawer, patted it with long Tyrannian claws and smashed it into the floor. I considered asking for an explanation, but I'd learned a long time ago that there were things in the world I didn't understand, especially where throwing drawers through the floorboards to make a passage to Maraqua is involved.

      Day 5: Ten.

      Ten of then. Or at least, that's what I counted before I was overcome by a wave of hopelessness. Ten of them, all different types. In a circle. I lost faith completely in the neohome idea- I didn't want this. I didn't want the little brothers I loved to grow up here. I didn't wanted my sister to bring friends here and show them she lived in a house like this.

      Why? Why? Why would she feel that was necessary? It wasn't practical! It was just... was there even a sink? I don't want to go back in there. I finally asked why we had ten toilets, and Tata just gave me a look. "...You really don't know?"

      There are some things that go better unknown. I'd prefer this to stay one of life's little mysteries.

      Day 6: She built a new room upstairs, and asked us three older siblings which one of us wanted it as our bedroom. Bane and I looked at it, then at each other. The staircase that led up from the staircase room came out onto its ceiling and the bedroom was beside it. To get to the room, we'd have to walk on the roof.

      Luxary yelled, "I do!"

      Tata extended a hand.

      "We," she said seriously, "are going furniture shopping. Let's go."

      Her entire room was like Luxary herself- it was starry, she loved it, and it was dangerous. I understood the Kauvara furniture- interest in potions and magic, okay, that's cool- but had my doubts about the cauldron and potion shelves. "No offence, Luxary, but is it safe to do that indoors?"

      "Why wouldn't it be?"

      I considered listing the occasions where Luxary's potions had gone horrifically wrong, but thought better. Just because they always went wrong didn't mean she couldn't use them against me.

      Day 7: The hallway. Well, I say hallway. It's just a normal room, on the downstairs floor. The problem is that it's full of toast.

      This house, thought sort-of strange sometimes, had given me a taste of life without Heart Toast Sculptures, and the hallway made me worry. You'd think the years would have made the toast seem homely, but they hadn't. They were nightmares. They were the embodiment of Tata's irresponsibility, her shortcomings as an owner; the months we spent at the neolodge, left to fend for ourselves sometimes, all the times she had disappeared without a word and came back after weeks- a time she promised was over.

      Also, there's only so much toast a Grarrl can stand. It does get annoying.

      Day 8: At Bane's persuasion, Tata built a landing for the stairs to lead to before working on the second bedroom; I walked up to investigate, and Bane called "Watch out, there's water up there too!"

      I realized he was joking after about three seconds, but that was enough to scorch a lot of the step and burn two dents where my feet were, which I stepped off before they collapsed.

      "I did tell her about you and wooden stairs," he murmured. "I told her, dog. So, do I get the new room...?"

      "Sure." I sighed.

      Day 9: This time, when I woke up to the sound of Bane smashing furniture, I was less surprised. "Are we building another basement...?"

      "No," he said flatly, "I'm smashing tables.

      "Because...?"

      "They're a nice colour. I kinda want this colour in my room Little help here, bro?"

      I picked up a dining table. Go figure.

      It worked. I haven't a clue how he did it, but it was kind of admirable, in a twisted sort of way. There was now a small, very slightly raised platform in his room, which was apparently a nice colour, made from table-tops. His stuff matched his platform. I was impressed, though I didn't say it.

      "I didn't know you were so into interior design!" I remarked.

      "Hey," he replied, "I know my dining tables."

      Day 10: Jetta's room surprised me, or more specifically, the doorway which had suddenly appeared in our stairway room leading to it surprised me. I asked Tata about it and she replied, darkly, that the builders should've added an option to add doors without re-building the room. I asked again how this had happened, then, and she simply gave me a look and changed the subject.

      Jetta was obviously too young to choose his own furniture, but Tata had done her best with various bits of nursery items and blue Jetsam things. Which was all very well, except for the potted tentacles.

      Jetta's angelpuss hissed at one of them and it grabbed her. She dangled from its grasp with one leg and clawed it angrily. "That," I said, "is not safe."

      "I like them!" Tata protested. "They add character to the room!"

      I convinced her to take them out and put them in the inventory ("Except that one. That one has the petpet. I am not picking that up."), which led her to comment, "I really need to build a room for an inventory or something." The blindingly orange sitting room was filled with random and potentially dangerous objects, not all of which were inanimate. There was still one potted tentacle thing in the nursery, but that was as good as it was going to get. I wasn't keen on touching that plant-thing either.

      Day 11: "From now on, this is our front door."

      "That's not a door," Luxary growled at last. "That's... an oversized plant."

      "Pessimist," retorted Tata.

      "It IS. You've just written our address on it. It's not a door."

      "Not with that attitude, it's not."

      "You spelled 'Market Street' wrong." I noted. She ignored me.

      Day 12: Our blindingly orange sitting-room is now empty. I went upstairs and went through the doorway to the previously-unbuilt room, presuming that she'd built the inventory there. I paused before I walked off it and fell off the house, and backed away. "Rips!" Tata suddenly entered through it. "Excellent. Here, come and have a look."

      I decided not to mention that she'd just walked in from a room that didn't exist. Cautiously, I stuck my head through the empty doorway and looked up. There was a room on the upper level now. And nothing underneath it.

      Floating inventory. "How is that... staying up?" I gawped.

      "Out of the way," she said dismissively, "I have stuff to move in there. That's my room, too."

      "There's no entrance! How are you getting in... You're sleeping in the inventory?"

      "The inventory is in my room. Now go back in and get ready to go shopping, because we need some stuff for you. This is where your bedroom will be."

      I gave up.

      Day 13: We went furniture shopping. Sort of. It lasted two hours, and consisted mostly of 'Do you want that?' 'No,' Eventually, after buying nothing but a single Niptor painting, she said, "Scat. I'll buy you some stuff to suit this. We're not getting anything done."

      I figured that, too. "No... No toast."

      "Bluh. No promises." She saw my expression, and added, "Joking! Now go home. Shoo! I have things to buy."

      I left, with a small feeling of dread. But if worst came to worst, we still had leftover rugs and petpet beds. And there was always the potted tentacles.

      She called me when the room was done, and left me alone to look around in there. It was...

      I dunno. There wasn't much in there. She'd managed to get some Niptor furniture (I didn't even know that existed!), some heating things, not very much else. It was fireproof. I wondered how she'd done that.

      "Why aren't you saying anything?" she said from behind me.

      It wasn't much. But it was my room. And this stuff was... for me. It was a new concept, and I was suddenly warming to it.

      "It's great," I replied, quietly. "Thanks."

      "Brilliant. I guess that's... the whole house business more or less sorted then?"

      "I suppose." I wandered over to the window. It was overlooking Neopia Central. Kind of a nice view.

      "Celebratory 'We sort-of have a house' Pizzaroo tonight, then?"

      "Sure!"

      Having a House, Day 1: It's done.

      It's a normal(ish) Neohome. In Neopia Central. I can just... sort of go out, and walk around. It feels good.

      There's still a few Heart Toast Sculptures around. The sitting-room still hurts a bit before you get used to it. I don't know what's with those Potted Tentacles in Jetta's room, but he's named them Weccy and seems to enjoy playing with them. It's still kind of weird.

      There are still misplaced pieces of furniture around, and rooms that are a bit too empty, and we still don't have a door. It's not very well decorated and it's a strange shape and our bathroom still has a circle of toilets in it.

      But still. It's a nice day, we're all here, and I think those long times in the Neolodge are over, maybe. We have an almost-nice place to just be in, and go home to, and whatever. It's new. But it's kind of cool.

      I don't know what it means for a place that makes sense, but home is where the heart is. Even if my heart is (regrettably) among a circle of toilets and thirty-five identical rugs, I'll take it.

      It's home.

The End

 
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