Needed Beginnings: Rorro and Toragi - Part Two
"Rorro, I have a surprise for you!" Angela called out as
she entered the cozy Neohome.
The yellow Kacheek sat up from where he was lounging
on the couch in their living room, his interest piqued by the triumphant tone
of his owner's voice. "What is it?" he asked as she approached, holding something
behind her back.
The girl grinned as she swung her hands around
to the front, proudly displaying the bottle that she held-- a bottle filled
with a strange liquid in alternating colors of gray and pink that seemed to
swirl and throb. Rorro's face fell. It wasn't what he'd been expecting, and
he found himself repeating in a less excited tone, "What is it?"
"It's called a…." The girl paused to dig a crumpled
scrap of paper from her jeans pocket. "Trans-mog-rif-ic-ation potion. And this
one's specially for Kacheeks."
Rorro just gave her a skeptical look.
"I looked it up, Rorro. Trans-- whatever." She
looked at the piece of paper again. "It means, 'To change into a different shape
or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.'"
Rorro was beginning to get the idea, and he didn't
like it one bit. "Angela-- "
"Rorro, I got it for free-- can you believe
it?" In her excitement, the girl did not seem to notice her pet's growing discomfort.
"Some guy on the street just handed it to me, said it would make my pet into
something really special, and then walked away. Weird, huh?"
"Yeah, weird. A little too weird, don't you
think?" The Kacheek was finally able to get a word in edgewise, and his temper
was fraying. "I seem to recall you teaching me not to accept things from strangers…."
"Oh, Rorro, don't be silly. Of course I wouldn't
just take it without any questions asked. That's why I looked up the name and
found out what it meant; and it matches up with just what he said-- it'll change
you into something 'fantastic.'"
"'Or bizarre,'" Rorro grumbled back.
"Come on, Rorro," Angela said, exasperated,
"you don't want to be a plain yellow Kacheek all your life, do you?"
Rorro shuffled his feet. "Well, no… but what
about that spotted paint brush we've been saving up for?"
Angela rolled her eyes. "Rorro, there are tons
of spotted Kacheeks in Neopia. This is your chance to be something really
"And… that's what you want?"
The girl nodded, and then, hesitantly, the Kacheek
reached out his paws and took the bottle from her hands. He removed the cork
and a noxious scent floated upward. He looked at his owner one more time, saw
her excitement, and he could not deny her. He turned back to the bottle, held
his nose, tilted back his head and poured the foul, slimy liquid in, feeling
it course down his throat and seep into his veins….
"Where are we going, Angela?"
"Nowhere, Rorro," the girl said tersely, not
even looking down at him as she made her way through the Neopia Central crowds
with the Kacheek in tow. She seemed to have changed so much in the last few
days…. Of course, she wasn't the only one, he reminded himself with chagrin,
as he looked down at his now-gray paws and felt his two sharp fangs bite painfully
into his lower lip.
He could hardly recall what he looked like now.
He had dared to look in a mirror only once since his transformation and had
vowed to never do so again. He often still caught himself picturing himself
as a normal yellow Kacheek instead of that… creature that he had seen. But he
did remember Angela's gasp when she saw his change. That quick intake of breath
that had revealed so many things at once-- shock, fear, disgust. It echoed around
his mind, hollow and haunting, refusing to let him forget what she had
seen, even if he could forget what he had.
It was only one gasp-- that was all. After that,
after he had run from the room to see what was wrong and after he returned again
to the living room where she still stood, she had composed herself. She didn't
gasp again at his reappearance. But he couldn't forget it. He heard it again
and again each time he saw her, more and more with the silence that seemed to
reign oppressively over all of their time together now. They ate meals in silence,
Angela refusing to look up and meet his pleading eyes. They sat in silence in
the living room every evening, each reading a different book on opposite ends
of the couch. When she did speak to him, her voice was formal and reserved as
if they hardly knew each other, or harsh and annoyed as if he had been pestering
her all day.
He was about to open his mouth to try to speak
to her again when he looked up and saw what they were walking toward. Horror-struck,
he halted abruptly, swinging his mouth open and shut several times before he
could finally spit out the words, "Angela-- the pound? No!"
As his owner stopped and spun around to face
him, everything seemed to move in slow motion for Rorro. He wished more than
anything to see the same shock that he was feeling reflected in her own features,
for her to laugh and chide him for thinking such a thing, for her to point to
the bakery next door. Anything. But when he finally saw her face, he found only
sad resignation in it. He took a few steps back, shaking his head. "Angela…."
"Rorro, come on. Don't make this harder on both
"Angela, why? I-- you still have that Neopoints
saved up. We can buy a paint brush and change me back. I don't understand."
The girl sighed. "Rorro, it's better this way.
You're just not the same pet that I created--"
"Yes, I am. I'm the same old Rorro on
the inside, Angela. I'm not any different. Please, can't you see…?" he pleaded
desperately, his voice choked by stifled tears.
She stared at him for a moment, just long enough
for him to think that maybe, just maybe, he'd gotten through to her. But then
she shook her head, reaching forward to grab his paw and turning back toward
the pound without a word.
The Kacheek allowed her to drag him a few steps
forward, and then suddenly the sob that had been perched on the edge of his
lips turned to a growl. "No!" He yanked his paw from her hand.
"Rorro, we just--"
"No!" he shouted with growing contempt. "No.
You have no right to abandon me. I haven't done anything wrong.
All I ever did was what you wanted me to do. Well, I'm not following you any
more. You don't deserve it! No, I… I'm abandoning you."
And with that, he turned away from the girl and
walked away as quickly as his short legs would carry him, pushing through the
oblivious mid-day crowd.
He told himself not to, but in the end he couldn't
help but turn back around one last time, allowing the small hope that she would
be following after him, ready to apologize, finally recognizing how wrong she'd
been. But when he looked back, he could not even make her out amongst all of
the other blurred faces seen through his tear-filled eyes. As he turned back
again and continued resolutely on his way, he finally allowed those tears to
The voice that broke through the Kacheek's wandering
thoughts was a low rumble, yet distinctly feminine. He spun around slowly to
see Toragi sitting outside the entrance to the box that he'd made his home.
The red Kougra was still except for her tail, which waved rhythmically back
and forth over the ground. She stared at him, unblinking, with the same unreadable
expression that she always seemed to wear. Rorro stared back into her large
silvery eyes for a few moments, feeling, even as he told himself that it was
foolish, as if some strange connection passed between them through their two
silent gazes. Then his eyes wavered and fell away and the moment was broken,
scattered into pieces so small that he wondered again if it had been there at
all in the first place.
Toragi spoke again then. "They want to see you,"
she said simply. "Feruli and the others."
Whatever he'd been feeling before was instantly
forgotten as he stood with a growl and brushed past her. "Oh, what do they want
He'd known something was going on today. Feruli
had been overly cordial, refusing to rise even to Rorro's best bait; Silviana
had kept her wisecracks about the Kacheek to a bare minimum; and Brenner had
been more excitable around him than usual, if that was possible. As he stalked
toward the center of the junkyard encampment, Rorro swung a quick look over
his shoulder to the Kougra walking after him with her smooth and sinuous gait.
Toragi… well, Toragi hadn't acted any differently, at least not as far as he
could tell, but then she never did.
So, something was up. No doubt he was about to
be reprimanded for something or other. Or maybe he was about to be told that
he wasn't welcome any more. Well, he told himself, you can't say you
haven't been expecting it. It's not as if you need them anyway. At the same
time, he couldn't seem to help the knot that he felt forming in the pit of his
stomach, twisting tighter as the others came into view, huddled together and
whispering to each other. He couldn't help either the picture of Angela that
flashed through his mind. To be rejected again….
"Rorro!" Brenner yipped, running an excited
circle around the Kacheek as he approached. "We've got a surprise for you!"
Rorro looked up at the group that was gathered and waiting for him: Cap and
Allegra, Feruli and Silviana, Brenner, of course, and now Toragi as well as
she wove her way around him to join them. Except for her, they were all struggling
to suppress smiles, and obviously failing. Rorro boiled inside. How happy they
all were to be rid of him.
Feruli stepped forward. "Rorro, we have something
to give you." The Eyrie looked up at Silviana, who was perched on his shoulders
as usual. With a wink and a grin, the impish Zafara reached into the ruff of
fur around Feruli's neck and pulled out… a paintbrush! She tossed the brush
toward Rorro, who caught it unthinkingly in his paws.
He stared down quietly at the yellow paint brush
as if unable to look up. Feruli cleared his throat after a few moments. "We
pulled together all of the Neopoints we've made in the last couple of months
to buy it. So now you can get back to your old self again." Still the Kacheek
did not look up.
When he finally did lift his head, his expression
was not one of joy or excitement as the others had been expecting, though it
was difficult to say what emotion it did contain. He simply seemed to stare
at all of them blankly, as if not knowing what to feel or to say. After a few
more uncomfortable seconds of waiting, it was Silviana who finally prompted
him, with all of her usual bluntness. "Well? Aren't you gonna say thanks?"
Rorro's blank stare moved to focus on her, and
then, as if something had finally snapped back into place, his expression quickly
contorted itself into its familiar scowl. "Yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot," he groused.
"So, I guess this means I've gotta be nice to all of you now, huh?"
The others' expressions were transformed into
frowns just as quickly. "It's a gift, you little grouch!" the Zafara
exclaimed. "No strings attached."
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." Rorro chuffed in disbelief.
Then he turned on his heel and walked briskly away from them, tucking the brush
beneath one arm and making his way toward the junkyard's exit.
"Why that little--!" Feruli took a few steps
forward as if to follow after him.
"Feruli." Cap's gentle yet commanding voice
stopped him. "Let him go."
"Cap, he-- he--!" the Eyrie sputtered in exasperation.
"How can he--?"
Cap just shook his head sadly and sighed. "We
all show our pain in different ways, Feruli."
"I'd like to show him some pain," Silviana quipped
under her breath.
"What are we supposed to do, Cap?" Feruli growled.
"Just let him keep moping around forever? We've all had enough!" At that he
turned his head to look at the others, expecting their agreement, but when he
did he noticed that someone was missing. He swung his head back around to spot
Toragi slinking silently toward the exit, looking for all the world like a hunter
stalking her prey. "Hey, where's she going?"
Cap stared after her as well until she disappeared
from sight. "I don't know," he said after a moment, shaking his head slightly.
"But let her go, too."
To be continued...