A Different Type of Present
Luna had grown used to the idea of not getting everything she wanted when she wanted. She made use of the things around her, mostly snow (as it was almost always there and in great quantities, thanks to the location of their home), but sometimes other things, such as her brother's Wooden Blocking Shield or the families' Ultra Fashionable Potato Sack. They were good for pretend or to use as the princess dresses that they would never be able to afford. Luna liked to throw the Sack around her small body and imagine she was Hannah ready for another adventure in the Ice Caves with her trusty Plastic Butter Knife.
But it wasn't always so easy. Especially now as she sits at the windowsill and watches the snow pile higher and higher with each passing moment. Her breath fogs up the glass and she attempts to distract herself by drawing abstract pictures, but none seem to come out right. The Grundo has too many eyes, or King Skarl isn't quite large enough to be legit.
"Hey, you okay?"
The voice is calm but tired, worn from a day of games and spinning wheels. She can see his face in the reflection of the sill, a half hearted smile and lazy tail wag. The Lupe approaches her with a slight limp, but she doesn't comment on it. "Super Strength Healing Potion?" she asks instead, her own voice quiet, barely audible over the loud winds outside. The Lupe nods, places the bright orange and blue bottle on the sill beside his sibling, and plops down to watch the world outside as well.
"It's only 225 NP at the most." She doesn't know why she says it, but Luna doesn't mean for it to come out so rude, so ungrateful.
The Lupe shrugs, lifts his hurt paw and gently rubs the top of her head, ruffling her basic blue fur. There's no physical relation between them, him being a Lupe, her being a Xweetok, but he understands her feelings, just as good as any blood sibling ever could, maybe even better.
"So what's eating you?"
"Yeah, you. Who else?"
Luna turns her attention back to the window. The snow's gone even higher during their exchange, much higher. It climbs the window like a vine, frosting the glass and freezing shut the sill. Any higher and she won't be able to see out of it anymore.
"The weather's really gloomy."
"Too bad we already have that avatar."
She laughs, a good long laugh with her head back and her eyes closed. Only he could make her laugh like that. If only she could make the feeling last a little longer. But it's gone all too soon and they're both quiet again, one eye on one another, another on the snow outside that's building and building.
"So," she finally says, breaking the silence, but not the tension, "do you think we'll be able to go to the Advent Calendar in two days?"
She doesn't have to look at his face to see his expression. "Were you looking forward to that, Luna?"
She nods, slow and sad. She had been, he knew it. She knew it. It was the only thing she could talk about for the last couple of weeks, when are we going to go, we need to get there early, this one Uni told me they close the doors if you're not in by this time. She'd memorized the route, planned out their day in Happy Valley (though living just outside it, she'd been there more times than she could count on both paws), the food they'd eat, the slushies they'd share, and then finally the Advent Calendar. It was going to be great, special.
"I-it was going to be my first year, you know."
"I know." The Lupe, Sevens they call him, since his real name was too long and contained too many numbers to call him on a daily basis, shrugs his shoulders. "But, it's not that great. Besides we'll probably catch the tail-end of it."
"Do you think Mystery Island got snow?"
He sighs. It's long, and tired, really tired. She can see the weary look he gives her, how he shakes his head and says, "Probably not."
"What about Altador?"
"So just us then."
He doesn't need to say anything; the silence between them is enough.
"Sevens, this was going to help us. You even said so yourself."
"I told you, we'll probably get in by the tail-end."
"Probably, Sevens. You're not sure. The prizes are great, we could've sold them. Got you some battle equipment. And then, maybe when you go the Healing Springs next time, you wouldn't have to sell what she gives you."
Luna watches his eyes roam to his hurt paw. It lies limp by his side, bandaged roughly and quickly.
"You wouldn't have to battle with a plastic knife anymore," she adds, her eyes lighting up at the thought. "We wouldn't have to constantly eat at the Soup Kitchen and I could finally get a-" She turns away quickly and looks at her paws. Ah Fyora! Why did she have to get so carried away?
"What, Luna? What were you going to say?"
Luna shakes her head fast this time, her ears rattle from side to side and her fur falls into her face. "Nothing, it's not important."
"Luna, it's obviously very important if you got so excited."
"It's not, really."
She feels two paws on her shoulders, and then, there's her brother's face beside hers saying, "You can tell me anything, Luna. I'm here for you, you know. It's not like I'm going to laugh."
Her throat's gone scratchy now and tears prickle at the back of her eyes. "Okay, okay," she finally musters. "It's just. It's really selfish, what I want and stuff."
"And new Battledome equipment for MYSELF isn't selfish?" His eyes are crossed, and he's scratching his chin with his good paw as if trying to understand.
"No! You don't get it," she adds, flustered, "By going to the Battledome, you're winning for US, this family. You, me, Mom, all of us. You're winning for all of us. You give us the prizes and let Mom sell them and everything. What I want is something just for me, and I feel like that's wrong. I feel like all I do is complain and I need to help out more. But forget it."
"N-no no! Don't forget it. What do you want Luna? It's the Season of Celebrating, it's a time for giving. You're allowed to want things Luna, everybody wants things that'll make them happy, toys, clothes, books! Luna you help out this family all the time, collecting at the Money Tree and the Second-hand Shoppe. It's not selfish to want something for yourself once in a while, especially if it'll make you smile. What do you want?"
She takes a deep breath and then finally whispers, "I've always kind of wanted a Jinjah."
She waits for his response. She taps her toes and closes her eyes tight. She's nervous at his response and waits for the yelling, the screaming, the 'I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'D ASK FOR SOMETHING SO EXPENSIVE, DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD MOM AND I WORK AT GAMES JUST SO WE CAN HAVE SOMETHING OTHER THAN DUNG SOUP?' But there's nothing. And then very quietly, he whispers, "There's nothing wrong with your wish Luna, I just don't think we could afford it right now."
Luna nods, because that's true, and it's a much better response than what she was thinking.
"That's why I wanted to go to the Advent Calendar," she adds lamely. "Because sometimes they give out Winter Petpets." And though she tries hard to fight it, she feels her eyes filling with tears again.
Before she knows it, she's caught up in a hug. "Don't worry, Luna, we'll figure something out."
Sevens wakes up early the next couple of mornings and goes over his plans. But despite his best efforts and all the digging of tunnels, and shoveling of walkways, the snow still falls and fills them in, climbing even higher than before.
"I don't know what to do," he says softly the evening before the First Day of Celebrating. He's the active pet, as per usual, and they've decided to get once last round of the Neoboards, before it becomes too hard to travel.
The Kougra who answers, a tall regal female, with an even more stuffy voice, surprises him with her answer, "Why not make something? You know," she taps her chest, "From the heart." Sevens nods, thanks her for her time and wonders how that could solve his dilemma.
The following morning, Luna rises later than she ever has. She hasn't been asleep the whole time, but seeing as no one's come to get her to tell her the snow has magically gone away or melted, she decided to fake sleep; well until her curiosity gets the best of her and she needs to look out the window herself. "So that's a no for the Advent Calendar then?" The snow, to say the least, is thick and still coming down in large drifts.
"Maybe I should just go back to sleep," she mumbles to herself, turning on her heels and heading back to her bed. But she stops, her head twitching, nose in air. There's a smell. A beautiful, wonderful, delicious smell, and it's coming from downstairs. Luna takes the stairs two at a time, her paws thumping against the steps with each jump. The scent's getting stronger, so she must be getting closer!
She turns the corner, and races to the kitchen, sliding across the smooth floor.
"Mmmm! What is that?" she cries into the empty kitchen. She can't see a bowl or a spoon. The oven, old and barely used, isn't even on. Where could it be coming from?
"Hey there!" It's Sevens, but he's different, very different. His usual yellow fur has turned a dark green, and could that be? A coat? A Santa Kau coat?
"You got painted Christmas!" the little Xweetok squeals, hugging her brother. "But how did you get the Paint Brush?"
"Winter Random Event, gotta love those," he replies smugly.
"And Mom didn't make you sell it?"
He shakes his head. "She said this year, we'll go all out for Christmas presents. I tried to sell it, but nobody would buy it. It's that time of year and they're available everywhere. So she said, why not keep it? So I did!"
"Wow!" Luna marvels, her eyes going bright with wonder. "Congratulations!"
"Thanks, but that's not why I'm here."
"What do you mean?" Okay, now she is confused. First the smell, now her brother and his Paint Brush, what can be next?
"This way," he barks, nudging her towards the oven. "Look here. Happy First Day of Celebrating, Luna."
In one quick motion, he opens the oven and pulls out a long, thin pan. The scent from before returns to Luna, and she laughs, "You made dessert?"
"Not just any old dessert."
Luna leans forward and peers over the rim of the pan. A bunch of little Jinjah shaped cookies smile back mischievously at her. Placing the tin on the counter, Sevens replies, "I know it's not the same as the real thing, but Mom and I are going to work extra hard to get you- uh Luna?"
"Thank you!" the Xweetok replies, "I love them so much!" And from the way she is smiling, and jumping about he knows she means it.
"They're just missing one thing."
"What?" the Lupe asks. He is sure he has all the ingredients. Sugar... butter...
Luna plucks a cookie from the pan and takesa bite from the corner of its head. "There we go." He laughs.