Acquisition Specialists - A Vacation of Sorts
"Brynn, why are we here?"
An eager orange Kougra briefly paused in her efforts at pushing through the crowded side streets of Neopia Central, and turned to look at the blue Ixi she was dragging by the elbow.
"I told you already, Hanso. Shopping!"
The Ixi sighed, and let her drag him forward once again. "Yes, I heard that part. But, why?" He expertly sidestepped a family of Kacheeks, the children pulled along much as he was. But then he winced as an elderly Ogrin hurried past them in the opposite direction and hit him in the leg with a purse that he determined must be filled with bricks. Metal bricks.
As he bravely hobbled on in pain, Brynn gave a sigh of her own but did not stop pushing through the busy mob. "Hanso, this is our first weekend off in over a month, don't you see?"
All Hanso saw were other possibly brick-filled purses in the crowd, trying to hit him. He didn't know how Brynn managed to weave through seemingly without problems. "See what, exactly? Shouldn't we be spending our free time, oh, I don't know, relaxing? Somewhere without this many people, perhaps. Maybe somewhere with no other people at all. I hear that's what normal people do. We should try that some time, don't you think?"
He cut off his tirade when Brynn successfully dragged them out of the crowd, opting to gulp breaths of fresh air that didn't smell like old Ogrins carrying bricks or sticky children.
Then he looked up at the sign.
"The Food Shop? You dragged us through all of THAT, just to come to the Food Shop?!" Hanso asked, disbelieving. He flung an arm out towards the endless crowd they just pushed through. "We barely survived! I almost log a leg, I'll have you know. And all for food, which we can get perfectly fine back up in Faerieland?"
Brynn huffed. "Stop being overdramatic, Neopia Central is always like this before holidays. And I seriously cannot stand to eat more faerie bubbles for dinner. So yes, we're here for food. I would have thought you'd be happy about this. You're always thinking about food."
Hanso just pointed towards the crowd again, as if to emphasize that it was a horrifically deadly ordeal, unworthy of some cheeseburgers and hotcakes. "And what's wrong with faerie bubbles? They're delicious!"
"Hanso, you think everything is delicious." Brynn crossed her arms and gave Hanso the "look" that she gave when she thought he was being particularly dense.
"That's because all food IS delicious!" He tried his best to imitate her facial expression, but ended up looking more like he just got hit with a purse again. Dear Fyora, how does she get her eyebrows to do that?
"Hanso, you ate Sand Grapes," Brynn pointed out, deadpan.
"They have a unique texture!"
"Grackle Bug on a Stick."
"Those are high in protein, I'll have you know."
"Ok, Brynn, clearly you just don't appreciate good exotic cuisine."
Brynn made a sound in the back of her throat that sounded vaguely like "GRAHHH!" and turned to push her way into the shop.
Hanso glanced behind his shoulder at the vicious mob of brick-filled purses, then at the door, then back again. He heaved a sigh, and went through the glass double doors after Brynn. Maybe she can buy him a few neggs, to compensate for the trauma she put him through.
Brynn didn't end up buying him any neggs. ("Those are bad for you, Hanso, I hear all sorts of stories of Neopets getting sick and turning different colors and...") Hanso took a mental swipe at the Brynn ranting on in his head and she disappeared, leaving him to scowl at the real Brynn, who had just managed to shove through both Neopia Central and the Bazaar without getting hit by even one purse.
Hanso, on the other hand, had a group of young elephantes step on his foot as they ran past, and so he had to hop on one foot for a while since Brynn didn't even pause in her forward march to their destination.
Speaking of which...
"Oh no, no no no, Brynn. No. Why? No. I am not going in there."
Brynn silenced his protests with a raised eyebrow. "Fine, stay out here, then. Maybe then I can take my time, and look at everything in the store, then go back and compare, then ask all of the employees for their opinions..."
Hanso panicked. "Uh, no! No it's fine. Um. I'll just come and uh... help!"
As Brynn turned and strode into the store with a smug smile, Hanso squared his shoulders in determination. "Help you leave faster, maybe."
After all, the faster they got out of this store, the faster they could get to the Chocolate Factory next door.
As soon as the doors of the Grooming Parlour closed behind him, Hanso sneezed at the assault of flowery smells from the perfumes on a shelf nearby. He held his breath as he hurried towards the back of the store where Brynn was standing.
"So!" he said, loudly, but coughed as he breathed in some glittery powder that an Aisha nearby had launched into the air. "So," he tried again, waving an arm in front of his face. "Is that it? Great. Good choice. Let's go."
Brynn frowned at the two different colors of blush she held in her hands. "But, I don't know which one would look better. Should I try them both first?" She glanced at a mirror, which Hanso noted with horror was right next to the perfume shelf.
Hanso rather thought Brynn looked fine already, without any of this stuff. He could even see her hair for once, since it's usually crammed into a helmet, and that was quite nice, too. Hanso tried to think of a way to prevent the inevitable torture of staying in the store longer. "You don't need that stuff; we're always working anyway."
He realized that was the wrong thing to say when Brynn gave him a look that could freeze fire. His brain scrambled to find some way to salvage that last statement, but when he opened his mouth, what came out was "But you look pretty already!"
Hanso's jaw clicked shut as an awkward silence descended on them. Brynn's cheeks were turning a pink brighter than the blush she was holding, and Hanso felt his own turning an embarrassing shade of purple.
He was saved from stammering some sort of explanation for that outburst when a high-pitched squeal pierced through the silence.
"Oh. My. Sloth! It's you! I can't believe it! It is you, isn't it?"
Hanso looked down, cross-eyed, at the short Xweetok he suddenly found in his personal space.
"Um... yes? I'm me?" He glanced over her head at Brynn, who looked about as dazed and confused as he felt.
Unfortunately, that assertion earned him another ear-splitting squeal. When Hanso took his fingers out of his ears, he saw that Brynn had taken a few steps back. He didn't blame her. He would have done the same if his back wasn't already up against a shelf.
When he looked back at the Xweetok, she had somehow produced a poster almost as tall as she was. He blinked when he saw the poster was a picture of him, not sure whether to feel flattered or mortified. "Um. What...?"
"Can you sign my Hanso portrait? I still can't BELIEVE I actually ran into you!"
Numbly, he took the marker she waved in front of his nose and scribbled his name. There was another squeal and Hanso was sure his ears would be ringing for the rest of the day.
The little Xweetok hugged the poster and twirled around, only to stop when she saw Brynn.
"Oh. It's you." Her voice was flat. She gave Brynn an assessing look, and turned back to Hanso. "She looks a bit mean, doesn't she? How about I come with you when you go treasure hunting instead?" She suggested, and gave him a wink.
Hanso was now on the far side of mortified, while Brynn turned pink again, but this time from suppressed anger. Hanso was familiar with that look.
"Um, look... ah... Maybe when you're older?" he said, weakly.
The Xweetok seemed satisfied with the answer, and gave Hanso a quick hug accompanied by another squeal before skipping out of the store.
"Maybe when you're older?" Brynn quipped.
"What else was I supposed to say?" Hanso protested. "But, you know treasure hunting wouldn't be the same without you."
Brynn's eyes softened, and Hanso felt his face get warm again.
"Maybe I'll just get both of these," Brynn said quietly, lifting up the half-forgotten blush she still held in her hands. "Come on, let's get out of here."
"Finally!" Hanso slumped in relief.
"And it's not treasure hunting, it's dangerous artifact disposal. Honestly, how many times..."
As they left the Grooming Parlour, Hanso looked at the mobs of shoppers still on the street in front of them.
"Well whatever you call it, I still think this shopping thing is far more dangerous."
Brynn scoffed. "You know, you better hope that autographed portrait of yours doesn't end up in the Auction House."
Hanso barely had time to register that statement before Brynn laughed and pulled him into the crowd by the hand.
He decided that in this case, it was better to just go along and not complain.