Don't Shop, Adopt!
The arctic blast that hit Kara's toes jerked her from her sleep. Sitting up, she looked down the length of her bed to see Luke, her green Lupe, with her blanket between his teeth.
"Wha-...?" Kara rubbed her eyes and tried not to groan. Sunlight streamed in through the small windows of their barely furnished Brightvale home.
Spitting the blanket out to the floor Luke leaped onto the bed. "Come on, Kara! You said we'd go to Neopia Central today to get a new neopet to live with us. Let's go, let's go! I want a new brother or sister!" He shoved his cold nose in Kara's face trying to usher her out of bed.
Kara struggled to avoid the wet nose and ended up rolling out of bed onto the floor. "FINE! I'm up. Let me get dressed and get some food and we'll go." Shaking her head, she struggled to get up from the floor. A few months ago Luke had began pestering her for another companion. After some tight planning on money she determined that they'd be able to take a new friend home after all and Luke hadn't sat still since.
"Is omelette again okay, Luke? We still have some from yesterday!" Kara called from the kitchen.
"I don't care what it is, let's goooo!" He pranced on his four paws before gulping down half an omelette.
"Did you even chew that?" Kara asked, attacking hers with a fork.
"No time for chewing! We gotta go pick out our brother or sister. Maybe we should go with brother... I don't want a sister to be too girly..." His voice trailed away out of earshot as he bounced out the door.
Kara trotted to keep up with Luke who was loping down the main street of Neopia Central.
"Luke! Wait! You are going the wrong way!" Kara called after him. She had stopped at the sign pointing towards the plaza that Luke had passed.
"No, I'm not, the create a neopet area is this way," he answered and pointed his nose in the direction he had been heading.
"I thought we would take a look at the pound first before we made a new neopet."
"The what?" Luke asked.
"The pound. Come on, just follow me," Kara answered and marched into the plaza.
Luke bounded after her and until she stopped at a large grey building in the outskirts of the plaza district. They entered the front door and were faced with three different offices. Luke shrank closer to Kara as they passed a dark door. He uttered a growl when an unfriendly cackle sounded from behind it.
"Hush, Luke, we are going this way." Kara placed a reassuring hand on his back and lead him towards a pink door. Inside this office a cheery Uni greeted them.
"Hello, deary, are you looking to adopt today?" the Uni asked them.
"Yes, we were wondering if we could look at what neopets you had available," Kara offered.
"Of course, just go through that door there and you'll be in the common area where you can meet with any of the neopets."
"Thanks! Come on, Luke. Let's go see if we can make a friend."
Luke gave Kara a skeptical look, unsure of what was happening exactly. He thought they would be making a new neopet, not picking one out that was already made. He had spent a lot of time debating what color would look best, what a cool name would be for his new brother or sister and what sort of personality he would like them to have.
But he trusted Kara and walked into the common room where neopets were scattered everywhere. He spotted a Kacheek and a Quiggle sitting around a well used picnic table. A Shoyru and Korbat raced through the air in a mock fight. Some neopets sat alone with a trinket or books with ripped pages. Toys were thrown around the room but most were well worn plushies or cheap Tombola prizes that most people discarded. He and Kara didn't have much money but he definitely had better toys than these.
"LOOK OUT!" a cry sounded but before either of them could react, a yellow Xweetok was crashing into them. They all landed in a heap on top of each other as a blue ball bounced by.
"Owww..." groaned Kara from the bottom of the pile. A moment later the Xweetok scrambled off them.
"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there and couldn't stop in time." The Xweetok had a quiet feminine voice.
"It's okay, Luke get up, you are squishing me!" Kara gave the lump of green fur on top of her a shove. After regaining her feet, she brushed her clothes off and looked at the Xweetok. "What is your name?"
"My name? Uuhh... my name is... it's gatuguugta325..." the Xweetok answered and looked sheepishly at the floor. Her blue ball rolled into her line of sight at her feet.
"It's what?" Luke asked as he rolled the ball toward her.
"Luke!" Kara whispered at him fiercely.
"It's okay, that's what most people say. It's the name my creator gave me. They only kept me for a day before I came to stay here."
"Oh... well, maybe we can call you Gatu for short? If that's okay?" Kara asked cautiously.
"Sure, if you want to, that's fine." Gatu looked up at Kara's face to find her smiling before she reached for her blue ball.
"What were you playing? Can we join you?" Kara asked holding the ball up.
"Yeah! We were playing Deckball... kinda... We don't actually have a deck here," Gatu answered. "C'mon!" She swatted the ball from Kara's hand and ran after it.
Kara looked down at Luke expectantly before following Gatu. "What do you think, Luke? I like her."
Luke paused and watched the Xweetok run away. "I guess... she has a weird name, though. I don't think I can say the whole thing. Why are there numbers at the end of it? And she is yellow. I wanted to make a blue neopet."
"Well, it's not her fault she got given that name. She seems to like the nickname we gave her. And who cares what color she is? How would you feel if she told you she didn't like you because you are green?"
Luke stopped, mouth agape in mid response. "What's wrong with green? I look fine!" He puffed his chest fur out and bristled his tail indignantly.
"Exactly." Kara gave him a look and ran after Gatu.
About an hour later after a vigorous game of makeshift Deckball, Kara, Luke and Gatu rested at the creaky picnic table.
Luke and Gatu were in a goodhearted quarrel about who really won the game. Kara took a moment to watch both of them, laughing together and getting along so well. She had one final test to make sure that Luke had come to accept Gatu and learn how important it was in the end to give anyone a chance.
"Luke, we need to get going; it's getting late," Kate said sternly, breaking Luke and Gatu's laughter.
Luke froze and then his face fell. "Already? We wanted to play another game though. It isn't that late; can't we stay with Gatu longer?"
Gatu's face had also fallen. She was used to people coming in, glancing at her and leaving. She had never had such a fun time with a visitor before, but she guessed it didn't change anything; in the end they still left.
"No, Luke, I'm sorry, but we can't stay any longer. But..." Kara trailed off and gave Luke a knowing look.
"But...? She can come with us? Yes? Yes!" Luke exclaimed excitedly as he worked out the answer Kara was trying to tell him.
"Why don't you ask her?" Kara offered.
"Gatu! You can come home with us! Do you want to? You can have a bed next to mine and we will eat and play and read together and maybe Kara will get you a petpet and some toys and everything and then-"
"Luke," Kara interjected and looked at Gatu, whose face had frozen in shock.
"Really? Do you mean it? I could go home with you guys and be like... a family?" Gatu asked nervously.
"Of course you can. We don't have much, but we would love it if you would like to join our family," Kara answered.
"But... why don't you just go make a new neopet if you wanted one to join your family? I have a weird name and no one likes me," Gatu said sadly, telling herself that this was too good to be true.
"None of that stuff matters, we like you for who you are. Why should we make a new neopet we don't know when you need a family and we can bring you home?" Luke said.
Kara smiled proudly at Luke and gave a welcoming hug to Gatu. "Come on, guys, let's go home."
"What are we going to have for Gatu's first dinner at home?" Luke asked eagerly.
"Well... we have lots of omelette..." Kara said hesitantly.
"UGH noooo, no more omelette!" Luke protested before Gatu could say that that sounded okay to her.
Kara snickered and debated what they should really treat themselves to as she lead her growing family to the door to finish the paperwork and introduce Gatu to her new home.
This is my first Neopian Times submission and I wanted to express the message of how good adopting is!