Two Siblings and a Petpet
For my brothers, prinplup98 and petpets385
"The SUN there, Meke! It was just... whoa. Having the privilege to see their culture and seeing how close the sun was to the land..." Jonithan paused in his rushed monologue to shake his head. "Everything about it seemed so much bigger and more important. And the light was different there. I don't know how to explain it. The effect was - it was -" He stopped, looking for the right word. "Explosive!" he exclaimed, making exploding motions with his hands. He spoke two ways: Voice and Hand Gestures, and he had to speak them both simultaneously. If he sat on his hands, he probably wouldn't be able to get his mouth to open at all. His eyes shone and his entire body was tense with pent-up excitement as he recounted his latest exploration.
"Exploding suns don't sound like something I'd want to be around," Jonithan's sister, Meke, remarked from across the table. Her half smile and raised eyebrow said plainly that she thought he was the definition of droll. She never could decide whether to roll her eyes or smile at him, so she generally did both.
"No, Meke, seriously. Trust me. You do," Jonithan insisted. He reached across the table to touch her arm. "You should come with me," he said seriously, his eyes still shining. "I mean, Altador! I went all the way to Altador! And, see, I'm still alive, aren't I?" He leaned his chair back on its two back legs and gestured to his person which was, admittedly, still in one piece.
Meke sighed. "You're in one piece for now, Jonithan. Emphasis on the 'for now.' The only reason I don't tie you to a chair and make you stay here is because I know you'd probably just find a way out anyways. You'd haul yourself all the way off to Krawk Island with a kitchen chair attached to your bum." She grinned at the thought and gestured in his general seated position.
Jonithan grinned mischievously back at her. "You know me too well."
"That I do." Meke nodded as she rose from her chair to rinse out her coffee cup. It was still half full, but she didn't feel much like caffeine. She was jittery enough with the familiar feeling of being torn. She wanted to go. She really did. She wanted to see these things Jonithan could not for the life of him shut up about. She wanted to. But she couldn't. She would be right on the edge of finally breaking down and saying that yes, sure, fine, she'd go. But while she could allow herself to be hoisted onto the fence, she could not allow herself to fall off the other side.
She needed stability. She needed to feel safe and at home. She had grown up dreaming of places and people she'd never seen before and with the thought that maybe one day she'd "go adventure-ing," but the first time she went on an extended, fast-paced, multi-city business trip she'd nearly panicked. There was always the worry that maybe she'd miss her transportation, and then she'd be stranded. Or what if she went somewhere and didn't know the language there? What if she got lost and so she was stuck wandering and helpless?
Jonithan was the complete opposite. The more he didn't understand about a place or a language, the better. That just meant he had more to learn, more to see, more mistakes to make that would later translate into daring tales that he could bring back home to tell his family and friends. Whether it was the story of how he'd almost been trapped in first Maraqua's whirlpool and then the bubbling pit - in the same day - or the one about how he'd almost lost his helmet on Kreludor during a time when the breathable air quality was surprisingly low, what would terrify Meke was without exception the best thing about Jonithan's day.
No, thank you. That was all right. Her brother could go traveling, but this Krawk was staying here, at home, or would visit a few select places that she was comfortable with. She would have a set schedule and a set budget. She would not have to worry about getting lost due to language barriers because she'd stay where she was understood, or she'd be nearly fluent before she visited somewhere her native language wasn't understood. She wouldn't have to worry about running out of Neopoints, because she would calculate everything beforehand.
Meke liked adventures just as much as the next Neopet, and was generally a funny and sarcastic Neopet to be around. She just had her own way of doing things. And that usually didn't include things like sneaking onto ships so you could get home. Especially not in a foreign land where not only were you had insults shouted at you for climbing aboard without paying, but were so lost as to the language of the place that you honestly didn't know for sure if he was insulting you but only assumed he was, given the circumstances.
"I'd rather not be along for the ride when you have another Shenkuu experience," Meke said, referencing a story from his last trip and thumping him in the back of his blond head as she passed on her way to the living room.
Jonithan rubbed the wounded spot and pretended to be in pain. "Well, okay, that was kind of, ah, different. And I know it was wrong. I shouldn't have stowed away," he allowed, jumping out of his seat to follow behind. "But in my defense, it was not my fault I was robbed on the way to the ship."
Meke cast him an incredulous look over her shoulder and couldn't help but laugh like she couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Do you hear yourself? You're not exactly doing your case any favors."
Jonithan tossed his head and huffed. "Oh, come on. It's not like it happens all the time. They didn't hurt me or anything. But, hey, if I'm gonna get robbed it may as well be by Neopets with katanas. At least it makes for a more interesting experience." He paused in his tracks and squinted. "Actually, I think one was a woman. Or just a very skinny man. It's hard to tell with all the Stealth wear."
Meke turned around and placed both her hands on his shoulders. She spoke very slowly and deliberately. "And this is why I'm not going with you."
"Agh! Fine." Jonithan put his hands up in mock surrender. "I'll leave you alone... for now."
"Good. Thank you. And thanks for the invitation, anyways." Meke sat down on the couch beside the front door. A traveling bag had been dropped beside the door an hour or two ago after Jonithan had rung the doorbell and been let in. He had dropped it because Meke had punched him in the arm, both for waking her up at five o'clock in the morning on a weekend, and because he never, ever called ahead. He just showed up.
"Nice thing to do to someone who brought you presents," he had joked, rubbing his arm. "Also, what've you been doing since I left? Taking martial arts?"
"I'd have had enough time to get good, too!" she'd huffed. "In two months, who knows what I could've learned! Now, give me a hug before I punch you again," she'd demanded, and waved him towards her embrace. "And for the love of all that is decent, get a phone so I can actually talk to you," she'd muttered into his shoulder. Jonithan may have been two years younger - 19 to her 21 - and would forever be her little brother, but he was also two or three inches taller than she was. Meke remembered the day when she'd realized he'd finally surpassed her in height. She didn't tell anyone, but it was a strangely bittersweet day for her. That guy who was taller than her was definitely not the kid wearing diapers in the sand pit in their backyard anymore. He was, however, surprisingly similar to the little boy in the sand pit pretending to be washed ashore on Mystery Island.
Meke crossed her arms on her knees and leaned forward. "So, you mentioned presents. You gonna give 'em to me, or not?" she teased.
"Ah! Right," Jonithan said, and strode over to the single bag. "Well, first of all, I didn't get you much. Neopoints are tight," he shrugged as he rummaged in his bag. Personally, Meke was baffled as to how he ever had enough Neopoints to travel to all the places he did in the first place. He couldn't hold a daily job due to not always being around daily, and so he took out as many jobs as he could from the Employment Agency when he was in Faerieland for as long as he was around visiting his sister. He'd make a large lump sum, travel, spend it, come home broke or nearly so, and start it all over again.
"What, so no diamonds? Not even a carat?" Meke scoffed sarcastically. "You are so ungrateful. I get up at five o'clock in the morning to let your bum in, and not even a single, solitary --" Her voice squeaked on the last syllable, because Jonithan had just taken the most adorable thing she'd ever seen out of the bag.
"Is that... a Miamouse?" she asked, pointing at the yawning creature, her eyes darting between Jonithan's face and the baby.
"Sure is. You look like you've never seen one." He grinned, knowing full well why Meke was confused.
"I've seen a Miamouse, but this is... it's... a doll." She walked towards it gingerly, as if afraid she'd frighten it. With a gentle, almost hesitant hand, she brushed her fingertips over the Miamouse's head and up along its ears. A look of awe crossed her face as the Miamouse's ears twitched - first one, then the other. "Is it real?" she asked, breaking her intently watchful gaze to look questioningly up at Jonithan.
"'Course it's real! You mean you've never seen a Plushie Miamouse before?" he asked, knowing full well she hadn't and sounding self-satisfied as his grin only widened.
"You know I haven't," Meke muttered and rolled her eyes. "But, wait... if it's real, then you kept it in the bag?" she asked in horror. "You could've suffocated it!" she accused, smacking him in the arm that wasn't supporting the Miamouse.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Jonithan protested, smacking her hands away. "Relax. They don't need to breathe."
Meke stared at him in shock and confusion. "But I thought you said they were alive?"
"They are. But they're Plushie. Basically, they can eat and they can breathe, but they don't necessarily need to. Or at least, not as much as us. It's like it has a reservoir or something. They need water, sure, but they can go a long time without it while we... well, can't." He shrugged one shoulder. "So, if you're done hitting me -" Meke had the good grace to look slightly sheepish "- do you want the cute little thing or not?" He held the young Plushie Miamouse out to Meke.
She answered with a squeak and opened palms. Jonithan carefully transferred the Miamouse from his hands to hers. Meke stared at it, captivated. "Thank you." She grinned widely.
"Careful, your face might break. See, it's cracking riiiight there," Jonithan leaned in and squinted at the corner of Meke's face-splitting smile.
"Oh, whatever," she dismissed him, not even looking up. She pet the Miamouse which was beginning to wake up more fully now. "Really, though... thank you," she said genuinely, and hugged Jonithan with one arm.
"Aw, you're welcome." He watched the Miamouse with her for a moment. Then, breaking the silence: "I figure somebody's gotta keep you company if you're absolutely refusing to come along with me. I know you miss me when I'm gone." Meke made a 'pft!' sound and shrugged a shoulder like it didn't matter. It was her way of saying, 'Well, yeah, so? Don't tell anybody,' but they both knew it was true.
"Okay, anyways," Jonithan clapped his hands once and rubbed them together. "I didn't get any food for the lass here, and just 'cause she doesn't need food all the time doesn't mean she won't. Also, Ihaven'teateneither," he finished quickly and staged a cough.
"All right, fine, I'm buying. But you pay me back when you get paid, you got it?" Meke pointed a stern finger at him, though she honestly didn't care if he paid her back or not. It was Jonithan that cared. He always did, whether she asked him to or not. Once he'd offered interest as a joke, but she'd said it wouldn't do her any good - she'd never get more than a week or two's worth out of him before he paid the original back.
"I will, I will," Jonithan said carelessly. He flung the door open. "We're off to explore!" he bellowed into the crisp fall air. "Your way this time," he smiled over at Meke. They might be different, but they were siblings. He enjoyed just spending time with her, doing things her way. "But mark my words, one day I'm dragging you with me. If I've got to go to the pet store, you've got to go to the Haunted Woods."
Meke grabbed a sweater from the hook behind the door, along with her keys. She held the Plushie Miamouse close to her heart, covering it with her sweater and keeping it warm. "Fine, but can it not be the Haunted Woods? What about Brightvale?" she suggested as she passed him out the open door.
"Nope. I'm dragging you all through the Haunted Woods," he said adamantly and shook his head. "You'd be surprised. The Brain Tree is really pretty friendly." He stepped out and swung the door behind him. "And once you get past the pulsing he's not even that weird to look at. Then there's these cute ghost Meepits --" he went on as the door snapped shut.
It would be the same as always: Jonithan would go on about an adventure while gesturing wildly, Meke would laugh and roll her eyes, and things would probably stay the same. Maybe one day Jonithan would get his way, and everything would change. It didn't matter, in the long run. What mattered was that they had each other, and that was something that would never change.