Tenz and Steel~ A pound story
"Tenz,” Steel whispered into the dark.
“Go to sleep!” Came the reply in stereo from the two heads of his room mate.
“Just checking you were still there,” the Poogle answered, sheepishly from the other bed. Tenz sighed.
“I am not going anywhere,” Tenz replied, rolling over in his small cot. “Well come on then...but you are going to have to get used to sleeping in your own bed, what are you going to do when you get adopted?” Without having to be asked again the Darigan Poogle lept from his bed to the neighboring one without touching the floor.
Steel hid behind the trash can and tried to wipe all the omelet out of his hair. The yellow bits were hard to miss in his dark purple hair, but he didn't want Tenz to see it. The big Mutant would want to know who'd done it.
Tenz was always looking out for him, even though Steel was older. Steel was supposed to be the one who looked out for the younger boy, but Tenz was bigger than he was, and stronger, and scarier, and just wasn't a good target for bullying. Steel on the other paw, was perfect, he was small for his age, scrawny, and hated by many for where he was from. Even though as far as he could remember he's never even been to the Citadel, or Meridell for that matter. As far as he knew they were at peace with Meridell, but that didn't mean he was a good target for having one's breakfast being dumped on one's head.
Steel usually liked omelet day, usually they got a whole helping of jelly, but he always felt a little fuller on omelet day, and there was more variety. He'd gotten a sausage omelet, he loved sausage, he'd only had it once before (when he'd dropped his omelet and Tenz had given him the rest of his). The nice pink Uni that showed hopeful owners around, had smiled at him when she'd served him. He'd sat down, not waiting for Tenz, who often over slept if Steel didn't wake him up, when a big Skeith and a Grarrl sat down on either side of him.
They were brothers, or at least that is what they said. Both had been adopted four or five times at least, but they were always brought back. On their plates were a plain and pea omelet, respectively.
“Good Morning, Steel,” said the bright orange Grarrl, brightly. He was often adopted because of his bright color. Steel naively didn't see the warning signs. Neither pet was ever nice to him, but usually they just tripped him or heckled him.
“Good Morning!” Steel smiled, back taking a long drink from his orange juice.
“Wow, sausage, aren't we lucky,” the purple Skeith added, picking up his plain omelet disgustedly. He let it drop on to his tray with a disgusting plop. He was adopted for his color often enough to. “What did you get Malcus?”
“Just, peas, Brutus,” Malcus replied. “It must be your lucky day, Steel.”
“Yeah,” Steel replied, reaching for the omelet. “Must be, but-” he was about to suggest they could share, when the orange Grarrl hit his tray with his elbow propelling it across the table.
“Sorry, about that,” Malcus said. “Whoops, clumsy of me.”
“Very, Malcus,” Brutus agreed. “Let me get that for you.” He stood up and went around the table, to get the tray. Steel smiled at the two, they were both smiling, though not at him, like he thought.
“Whoops,” Brutus let the tray slip from his fingers on to his head. Then Malcus stood up.
“Now, Brutis, you really should be more careful,” the orange Grarrl stood up to, and grabbed the edge of the tray and pushed down on Steel's head mashing the omelet into his fur. Shocked and embarrassed, Steel ducked under the table and dashed out of the cafeteria. ******
Steel always hid in the same spot when Brutis and Malcus picked on him, so Tenz knew right where to find him when he saw the two pets laughing as they left the cafeteria and Steel no where in sight. He slithered up to him and sat down next to him, folding his wings.
“Why didn't you wake me?” He flicked a piece of omelet out of his friend's hair.
“I-you-I, I thought they wanted to be my friends, finally,” Steel replied, sadly shaking his head. “I thought-” He felt his eyes growing hot, as a fresh wave of tears threatened to roll down his cheeks.
“Come on, you can have some of mine, and next time wake me up,” Tenz put one wing around Steel but he ducked out from under it and stood up.
“And what am I going to do when someone decides to adopt you? Some people like Mutant pets, you know. Remember Solvie, he was adopted...”
“Solvie was a lupe, they aren't as different, as I am,” Tenz replied. His two heads spoke in Unison, and wore the same indifferent expression. “I won't get adopted before you. You will get a good home.”
“Yeah, and what if the others hate me as much as everyone else does? Just, because, because I'm different!” Steel wiped at his face angrily. Tenz laughed.
“You aren't that different,” Tenz answered. “Now, come on, Brutus and Malcus are just bullies, they pick on you because they can, because, it is easy for them. You will find a good owner who won't bring you back and you'll be happy.”
“No, I won't,” Steel answered, stubbornly.
“Steel,” He shook his head. “Starving yourself isn't going to make you feel any better, now come on and charm that Uni into giving us some breakfast, it is almost lunch time. It will be almost like getting double portions.”
“Tenz, what if you get adopted before me?” He asked, meekly, letting his friend steer him toward the door.
“Are we really still-” Tenz sighed. “I promise not to let any one adopt me unless, they adopt you too, okay? Now can we get some breakfast?”
“Really? Alright! I promise too!" Steel said, a smiled starting to spread across his face. “ Okay, let's go eat.” ******
Tenz didn't know at the time, what his promise had meant to the young Poogle, but he meant it at the time, not just to get him to stop crying. He'd be there for him as long as he needed him, but it was beginning to look like maybe Steel wouldn't need him anymore. ******
From that day on, Steel thought of Tenz as his brother, and he didn't want to let his brother down. It didn't hurt that Steel had finally started to grow, and was getting stronger. Before too long Steel had bulked up considerably, and Malcus and Brutus, intimidated by his size, had decided to start heckling from a far, and they no longer tripped the the Poogle who'd grown into his oversized ears.
Tenz had become quite proud of his room mate when Steel started sticking up for himself. Steel was more confident, and proud even. He'd started making other friends, too, but he still climbed into bed at night to sleep next to Tenz. Steel was still afraid of the dark. ******
Then one day, some one came looking for a Darigan. Tenz had seen them walk in, they'd brought one of their other pets with them, another Darigan, a Hissi, like himself, Tenz noticed.
"Good," He'd thought. "He'll really have a Hissi for a brother, I hope he doesn't mind sharing his bed."
Tenz was surpised later when he saw the same boy walking out with the Hissi holding his wing looking disgruntled and the owner having some words with the apologetic pink Uni. He found Steel in their room looking rather put out, and guilty.
“I, uh, missed you at dinner,” Tenz said, pulling out a pieces of iconic bread he's snuck out the cafeteria.
“Yeah,” Steel said, not taking the bread.
“I brought this for you,” Tenz said, putting the bread in his room mate's paws.
“Thanks,” Steel replied, but he didn't take a bite.
“Did you see that boy with the Darigan Hissi?”
“I hear, he adopted both Malcus and Brutus, they say they are going to be painted Darigan, to bad they didn't see you, would've saved him the...”
“They did,” Steel interrupted.
“What? And he didn't want to-” Tenz began to protest.
“I bit his Hissi,” Steel admitted. Tenz stared at him dumbstruck. “I told them I wouldn't go without you, and the Hissi said Mutants were gross, and, and I bit him....”
“I don't know what came over me, I-I just grabbed his wing and I bit him...I knew I shouldn't have but...”
“Steel! You, you could have been adopted! Who cares what the Hissi thought of me, that boy wanted you!” Tenz exclaimed. “You should have let him adopt you!”
“I promised, no one would adopt me unless they would adopt you too,” Steel said, firmly. “I meant it.” He crossed his arms signaling that was the end of the conversation.
And so it was. Tenz and Steel bit, scratched and fought any one who came for one, but refused to take the other. After a few weeks the pink Uni stopped bringing respective owners to see the two pets. All their meals were brought by Dr. Death, and the two boys were friends with only each other.
Then something unexpected happened. Tenz and Steel had been ordered to their room. It was a busy day for the pound, so they were told that if they couldn't behave that they would have to stay there. They were quite surprised when the pink Uni opened the door to their room when a young girl. She was accompanied by a Darigan Kougra.
“If you are sure...” the pink Uni was saying. “This is Tenz and Steel. Say hello, boys.”
“Hello,” Steel and Tenz mumbled, getting up off their beds. Steel was significantly shorter than girl and Tenz was much taller than her. Both tried not to look to interested, although the Kougra looked at them curiously.
“Hello,” The girl said, pleasantly smiling. “My name is Rachael, and this is Kookie. Say hello, Kookie.”
“Hello,” the Kougra said, flashing her white teeth.
“Rachael is looking for a companion for her Kougra...” The Uni started, but she didn't get to finish her sentence. A scuffle ensued and the girl quickly left with her Kougra. They thought that was the end of that, but they were wrong. ******
To their surprise a week later, the Uni brought the girl back to their room, but this time Rachael was alone.
“Boys, Miss Rachael has come by for the apology you owe her,” The Uni said, frowning at them. “Then, miss I can take you to see some of our-”
“Would you mind if I spoke to them for a moment?” the girl interrupted, sheepishly. “Sorry, I just-”
“Uh, no, I suppose not,” the Uni replied. “Boys, I expect you to be on your very best behavior!” The Uni eyed them, and then left the room. The trio watched her leave, and the girl to their surprised sighed.
“Well,” She said, sighing. “I-I'm not here for an apology, I should apologize. Kookie is something of a scrapper, I shouldn't have brought her along with me, but I thought it would be nice for her to meet them before I brought any one home, and well I know first impressions are-”
“We don't want to be adopted,” Steel interrupted. The girl looked at him surprised, and so did Tenz, but he didn't let it show. Steel was right, though, they didn't. Not without the other.
“Oh,” the girl replied, looking disappointed. “I'll, go then. Sorry to bother you both. It was nice to see you again.” She went out dejectedly and Steel and Tenz thought they thought they'd seen the last of her, but she came back. ******
Rachael came back again the next day, and the day after that. Each time she asked the same question. Were they sure they didn't want to be adopted? Sometimes she brought other pets with her, a Magma Xweetok that radiated heat, or a Mutant Aisha with Hissing antenna. Once Kookie even joined her again.
Each time, Steel and Tenz stubbornly refused. They would not be adopted without the other, but it was starting to get hard to refuse. Every time she told them stories about her other pets, her house, foods she liked, clothes she'd bought, and about any manner of other things, but they couldn't leave the other.
“I brought a picture,” Rachael said, during her last visit to the pound. She showed it to the boys. “Of the house. This is Dred-” she laughed, pointing to a happy Eyrii in front of a big multi colored house. “He just joined the family. That's his room the blue one, and that, that big green one, I built, well, I had it built, any way I thought maybe you'd like it, Tenz. Oh, and Steel, I uh, I had a purple one built that I thought you would like. I mean, I assumed, well Kookie likes purple and it is right next to hers, and mine, Tenz would be...I am getting ahead of myself, you already said I know. I just thought if I showed you-” Rachael's voice trailed off. She started to put the pictures away.
“Tenz would be what?” Steel said.
“Oh, well the green one is across from the purple one, but if you don't like purple and green...” She replied. “I know you both said you weren't ready to be adopted, but I wanted you to know that if, if you changed your mind, you'd have your own room. It is kind of crowded at the dinner table, but there is plenty of space in the rest of the house. You could share a room if you wanted, I just assumed you'd want your own, or you could sleep in my room, Kookie still does some nights though...”
“Do you mean, you want us both?” Tenz asked quietly not believing his ears. Rachael looked up excitedly.
“Yes, I mean if you wanted to...I know you two are very close, and well Dred is the only boy in the house and he is out numbered by the girls. He would really appreciate some more boys in the house, and some one else to fly with other than Kookie. I just know every one would love you, I-I know I do...” ******
Tenz looked around his new room in disbelief. It was much bigger than his one at the pound, and it was all his. He had a new bed, a dresser of his own, a big lamp, and a big cushy chair, on which a small two headed ettaphant slept. Rachael had a lot of pets and petpets as well. They'd run into the small creature when they were helping bring furniture out of her safety deposit box, which was filled with all manner of interesting items and food. (She had told the boys they could relax in the bright yellow kitchen, but they were to excited to just sit around.) He's taken a liking to the creature and Rachael said he could bring it to his room, if he liked, but as night fell even with his small companion, he started to feel lonely.
He picked up the small creature and slid out of his room turning off the lamp on his way. He'd chose the green room so Steel's purple room was just across the hallway, but he was surprised to find the door open. Steel wasn't in his new fluffy room. Kookie's door was open to, on one side, and on the other, Tenz saw the doorless opening that lead into Rachael's room. She didn't add a door so her pets could come and go as they pleased.
Tenz slipped in and found Steel between Kookie and Rachael, fast asleep.
He put the little ettaphant down on a pillow, and slid on to the bed to sleep next to his new owner, even Tenz was sometimes afraid of the dark, and it felt better to sleep next to someone who loved him.