Stachetastic: the Hair-Raising Origin - Part Two
Amaryllis the yellow Kadoatie was having the time of her life. She rolled around on the lush burgundy rug, gnawing and biting and kicking at a long tendril of pale blue fur. The Kadoatie purred loudly, glad to finally have a petpet toy that moved with her and that stirred up her prey instinct.
The owner of said furry tendril was anything but glad. The Lupe looked glumly at Amaryllis, only feeling a marginal amount of warmth at seeing that his moustache elicited such happiness in his petpet. Kadoaties didn't have worries. Kadoaties didn't have jobs. Their only task was to look cute, and most Kadoaties performed excellently at that. Amaryllis herself took the cake, and whatever else she wanted for that matter, just by looking cute.
Norman was jarred out of his thoughts with a sudden pull on his upper lip. The Kadoatie was digging her claws into the thick locks of fur, purring even louder than before. She snuggled against the moustache and curled it around her, settling down with her head resting on the plush blue fur.
"She is just the cutest thing ever!" Lenora marveled, whispering (albeit with difficulty) so as not to disturb the napping Kadoatie.
"Yes. I suppose she is," replied Norman without much enthusiasm. He sighed and put his chin in his paws. "But what am I going to do with these? It's a wonder nobody noticed us coming home, even with the mask on." The Lupe whined, and the moustache that was not weighed down with the Kadoatie flopped up and down exactly twice.
Norman whined again, sending the same half of the moustache flying to the ceiling, then crashing to the floor with a soft thump—four times this time.
"What are you doing?" Lenora whispered inquisitively, having recovered from the sheer cuteness of Amaryllis's behavior.
"I don't even know!" Norman replied, trying to contain the wild movements of his moustache with one paw. The tendril that wasn't held down by the Kadoatie flapped about this way and that, until it struck Lenora right on the head. The Aisha could contain herself no longer. At being hit with a moustache, of all things, she burst out into peals of laughter.
Amaryllis opened both eyes and hissed at Lenora, evidently displeased at having her nap interrupted. The Kadoatie quickly regained her calm once the Aisha scooped her up in her arms and cooed sweet nothings to her. Amaryllis laid her head on her shoulder and went right back to sleep.
Lenora squealed as quietly as she was able. "Norman, look, she fell asleep on me!" the Aisha exclaimed, trying to keep her voice down.
"Lenora, please. Help me find my hairdressing scissors." Norman was in no mood for cuteness, not even with his own Kadoatie. Amaryllis seemed to like Lenora automatically, but Norman had had to work much harder than Lenora for the Kadoatie's affection. Though her cuteness was undeniable, Norman was in no mood or position to indulge in the sweetness, not with the moustache shaped cloud hanging over his head. Or, more accurately, the one attached to him.
"But Amaryllis doesn't need a trim just yet," the Aisha remarked, her shoulders still shaking with giggles.
Norman shook his head. "Not for her," he said, reaching for his pair of hairdressing scissors on a nearby table. He lifted them with one paw, preparing to groom himself.
"What do you think you're doing?!" Lenora batted the scissors out of his paw, jolting poor little Amaryllis awake. The latter glared at her, meowed reproachfully, and stalked out of the room, her tail held high as she left.
"It's the only way, Lenora." The Lupe looked at Lenora in disbelief. "Have you tried walking around with a moustache longer than you are tall? It's not easy! I don't think it'll ever be easy! The moustache has got to go!" Norman didn't bother to keep his voice low for the sake of his Kadoatie, and was waving both paws up and down by the end of his speech. His moustache seemed equally vehement, and seemed to loop itself around one of his paws in its flopping. Outraged, the Lupe lunged for the scissors and held it threateningly to his moustache.
"But it's so soft and beautiful! I just hate to see it go... Oh, no, Norman, you can't do this..." Her voice grew quiet with horror as her eyes met his. They were determined to cut off the moustache.
"Here we go." Norman slid the scissors shut, and a cascade of blue fur began to coil itself neatly on the floor.
"Please, no...." Lenora practically had tears in her eyes as she caressed the fallen moustache.
"Now the other one," Norman narrowed his eyes as he aimed the scissors with the paw he was not used to using. It was even more difficult to cut it without a mirror, but the moustache had to come off as soon as possible. He didn't care how it would look; he could trim it to perfection later. In just a few seconds, everything would go back to normal. He would be a klutzy and hardworking Lupe at the Grooming Parlour, and the customers would continue to like him, his Kadoatie would still be fastidious, and he would not have a semi-sentient moustache getting in his way ever again.
"How could you?" Lenora's voice broke.
"It's just what I had to do, is all," Norman replied, now feeling sorry for his friend. Without any more hesitation, he clipped the moustache strand on the other end of his muzzle and it too coiled very neatly on the burgundy rug. Instantly he felt a lightening in his heart as well as on his muzzle. The Lupe rubbed his now-bare muzzle, feeling freed from his cumbersome moustache at last.
"Then... even though you just made the worst mistake you could ever make in your life, do you think I can play with Amaryllis? I need serious Kadoatie therapy." Norman didn't think it was possible, but all four of Lenora's ears were drooping. Norman's satisfaction was now tinged with guilt.
"Of course you can, Lenora," he said gently. The Lupe had to stop himself from laughing after picturing her with Amaryllis once more. Two minutes with either a sewing machine or a Kadoatie and Lenora would automatically perk right up like a newly watered Sillie Daisy.
"Thanks," she replied merrily, flouncing into the room where Amaryllis was busy sunning herself through the window. Norman could instantly hear the change in her voice as she laughed and cooed and played with his Kadoatie. Norman couldn't help but follow her, smiling. Lenora's enthusiasm tended to be contagious.
"Do you remember that she likes to be scratched on the back of her neck?" Norman settled down on his bed, next to Amaryllis, who was chasing another toy Lenora was dangling from a stick.
"Of course I did," Lenora purred, doing just that.
"Hey Lenora?" Now free from the moustache, Norman was in an especially good mood indeed.
"Why do you think Ms. Wyndham had the experiment in the shop in the first place?" Norman twirled the right side of his now much smaller moustache thoughtfully.
Lenora stared at him. "Maybe the fumes were too strong in her house and she has really expensive furniture? She is your boss, after all. It's best not to question her all that much." Lenora went right back to rubbing the Kadoatie's belly.
"I suppose," Norman reluctantly conceded. "But don't you think it's a little strange that she left it in the storage room? Where anyone can walk in on her and see what she's up to?" Despite the burden of his moustache being lifted, thoughts of Ms. Wyndham, the trouble with the experiment, and the inevitable consequences continued to latch onto his brain. His good mood sank slowly like the fall of his moustache.
Lenora rolled her eyes, although being an Aisha, it was difficult for Norman to tell that she was doing so. "Typical Norman," she muttered.
The fur on the back of Norman's neck bristled. "What do you mean?"
Lenora stared him straight in the face. "You always worry about things that almost never come to pass! When are you going to stop chasing your tail and get on with it?"
Norman glanced at his tail, which was waving back and forth uneasily. As if on cue, he felt a strange urge to chase it as soon as his waving tail entered his field of vision. He sighed, defeated. "I can't help it."
"Well, you've got to, especially now that your moustache is gone. I know we've been friends for a while, but you need to start doing things you're scared to do. Find a job that you really like, for example. It's frustrating to see you in one place for so long." Lenora's voice softened.
Norman huffed. "Hair is nothing to sneeze at, and besides, I'm good with working with it." Lenora, of all people, had no right to dictate his life. His hackles prickled once more at the thought.
Lenora spread her arms innocently. "But hair is definitely something you can sneeze at." She folded her arms.
The Lupe pointedly ignored her and scratched his Kadoatie's ears. There had to be some way to divert her attention from uncomfortable matters such as his job and his personality.
"Say, Lenora, the Defender Dance in the Marketplace fields is in three days. You up for it?" Norman asked, suddenly remembering the dance he'd wanted to attend for an entire year.
It was an unusual dance in that merchandise was always sold, there were usually live performances, and once in a while someone special would show up. Norman always liked it because the rule was that all attendees had to conceal their identities, something Norman looked forward to with great enthusiasm. He didn't have to be a regular Lupe with a regular job. He could be a hero. He could be a ruler. He could be the bravest knight in Meridell!
"Yeah, I'll go. Is there a fancy dress code?" Lenora asked, her eyes growing wide with excitement.
Norman chuckled, both in awe and in relief at her short attention span. "People notice you if you dress up as a Defender or any famous Neopian, but really, you just have to show up with a mask, at the very least," Norman explained.
"That sounds exciting already!" Lenora hugged Amaryllis tightly. The latter meowed in protest and struggled to get away without clawing at her or biting her, something Norman had never succeeded at when he tried it himself. Will wonders never cease. He thought.
Norman felt completely at peace. His moustache was gone, he'd enjoy the dance he always looked forward to, and even Amaryllis seemed happy.
Just then, he felt his cheeks tingle and his hair follicles vibrate on either side of his muzzle. "Oh, no, not again," he moaned, unconsciously slipping his paws to his muzzle to stop the familiar growth.
The moustache spewed out in strands from the muzzle beneath his paws and coiled neatly into tendrils on the floor, at its former length. It was almost as if it hadn't been cut at all.
"Oh, come on!"
To be continued...