Betrayed: Part Three
Fang unsheathed and sheathed his claws, staring at the door that his owner had just slammed. He was absolutely bewildered. How could Rosie reject a poor, defenseless Neopet like that?
He turned his head to gaze at Elou, who had crouched on the ground even lower. Tears were streaming from her eyes. Fang moved closer to her, feeling fury and sympathy rise in his chest. "It's okay, Elou. I think Rosie's just in a bad mood; she will accept you later."
She looked up at him with huge green eyes, red-rimmed with exhaustion and hope. "You think so?" she murmured, her weak voice cracking.
Fang nodded. "I know so." He was still shocked by Rosie's reaction. She had glared at the green Xweetok before saying no, repeating it louder when Fang had tried to protest. Then she had slammed the door without waiting for a response.
Seth, who had also witnessed the seen, lashed his tail. "Don't worry, Elou. We will get you in." The ferocity in his tone surprised Fang; what had worked him up? But then, maybe he just felt defensive over the Xweetok who could not fend for herself.
"What do we do now?" the tiny Xweetok whispered.
There was a long moment of silence. Fang thought frantically; what could they do? Then a thought struck him. "Julie!" Julie was Rosie's close friend, always friendly with Fang and Seth. She would let them in for the night - and maybe she would offer to keep Elou.
Seth was nodding in agreement. He rose to his full height - which was much larger than Fang and Elou - and flicked his ears. "Let's go, then. There's no point returning to Rosie now. Not when she's in a mood like that."
The three of them turned away. Angel, Elou's Floud, bounced after her owner; she was obviously unaware of the tension and confusion that was going on around her right now. Fang was encouraged by her spirit.
Soon enough, they arrived at Julie's house. It was slightly smaller than Rosie's, with a royal blue door that Seth knocked on. "Hello? Julie? It's Seth, and Fang."
The door creaked open. A blue Hissi was there, yellow eyes friendly. "Hello, Seth, Fang!" he said cheerfully. Then his eyes fell upon Elou and his expression darkened. "Oh, my. What happened to you?"
Fang clenched his teeth. That wasn't the right thing to say!
Elou stopped a little way behind Fang and Seth as they approached Julie's door with confidence. She was overwhelmed by all of these people, all of these names. And Rosie had just rejected her which had deeply dampened her spirits. She felt useless, like nobody loved or wanted her anymore.
And then this blue Hissi answered the door. He greeted the two brothers in a merry way, and when he looked at Elou, his eyes turned horrified. What happened to you? The question buzzed through her mind, making her feel even worse, and she lowered her eyes to the ground, unable to respond. She felt even worse.
"Hello, Blaze. This is Elou," Seth responded, his tone having a sharp edge like flint to it. "She escaped the Pound - like Fang did. Remember? Rosie just... um, Rosie's in a bad mood, so we ask to stay the night."
The Hissi hesitated, his eyes fixed upon Elou, before nodding and turning around. "Come in!" he called as he slithered away. "Julie, we have visitors!" His voice echoed through the halls.
Seth followed in first. Fang paused at the door to turn and look back at Elou. "Are you coming?" he asked when the Xweetok didn't move.
She let out a deep sigh. "Yes," she murmured, before following him in. Angel bounced along at her side.
The house was warmer than outside. Elou glanced around; the walls were covered in a pale blue wallpaper, and the carpet was red. Not a very good combination, but the rest of the house was nice. Neovision blurred in the background. There were a few lamps put up around the house, providing plenty of light. In a room which Elou thought was the living room, there was a white sofa in front of the Neovision.
"Come in, and rest," said a gentle voice from behind her.
Startled, Elou whipped around to face a tall girl. She had long brown hair and loving green eyes, sparkling with sympathy as she watched Elou. Elou was too tired to protest; she wandered forward and collapsed onto the sofa, with her Floud following eagerly, before she found herself drifting off into a deep, dark sleep.
"She seems so weak," Julie murmured.
Seth looked up from where he stood in the living room. The girl was standing at the doorway, watching Elou as she collapsed onto the sofa and feel asleep instantly. Angel bounded after her and settled herself next to her, closing beady blue eyes.
Fang sat beside Seth. His blue eyes were also sympathetic. "I know. We wanted to bring her home, but Rosie turned us away. I think she's in a bad mood." He scuffled the ground with red forepaws, but it seemed to be anger that flared briefly in his eyes. "I just can't believe she would reject Elou like that."
"Neither can I," Blaze said as he entered the room. He held three mugs of Xweetok Hot Chocolate; one of which he set down on a little table in front of the sofa. He watched Elou. "Poor thing."
Maybe Blaze wasn't as useless as he thought, Seth realized with a prickle of guilt. But it wasn't the time to think about that now. "Thank you," he said as Blaze handed him another one.
Fang echoed his thanks when Blaze gave him the last one, just as Seth sipped the cup. The cream was soft and cold, while the actual hot chocolate was warm and delicious.
"She can drink that when she wakes up, and then she can get washed," Julie decided out loud, her eyes fixed on Elou again. "What's her name?"
"Elou," Fang answered. He had put his hot chocolate to one side and left his seat; his jaws opened wide in a huge yawn.
"You should get some sleep too," Seth remarked, watching his brother with amusement.
Without responding Fang trailed over to Elou and climbed onto the sofa beside her. He curled up in a tight ball and tucked his nose into his thin tail, huge blue eyes closing slowly. "Good night," he murmured before falling asleep.
Seth couldn't keep back a little laugh. But he felt exhausted himself. He finished the hot chocolate and sat with Blaze and Julie, trying to figure out what he could do about Rosie. It was his own fault she was in such a bad mood. Maybe she would be better in the morning. But why hadn't she accepted Elou? Even in a bad mood like that, Rosie would have lovingly welcomed any pet. Obviously she didn't like Xweetoks. But why?
His thoughts drifted away and soon enough Seth found himself falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.
It was still dark when Elou awoke. She lifted her head drowsily, yawning a deep yawn before opening her eyes wide. After a long sleep she felt much more refreshed and energetic.
Looking across the sofa she spotted Fang - her first friend, who had offered help when no one else had come to her. She smiled at his sleeping form before moving silently off the sofa, careful not to wake the red Gelert. Angel was roused by her movement and lifted her head, blinking.
There was a hot chocolate on the table which she guessed was hers. Two empty cups were on the table beside it; obviously they had been Seth's and Fang's. She picked up the Xweetok Hot Chocolate and sipped the cream, and then the liquid itself. It was quite cold after being left for most of the night, but still contained some warmth which she welcomed.
Then Elou walked out of the room, trying not to laugh at Seth, who was slumped over an armchair and snoring loudly. She wondered where Julie and Blaze were, before she saw them in the kitchen, talking in hushed voices.
"Oh, hello, Elou," Julie greeted her as she approached. "You're up early. It's only five AM."
Elou nodded and paused at the edge of the kitchen, hesitant. She knew she was still muddy and looking a state; she wasn't really willing to make the kitchen floor muddy as well as the rest of the house.
"Would you like me to take you to the shower?" Julie asked, smiling warmly.
Relieved at her gentle tone, Elou nodded gratefully. "Thank you," she said as Julie rose and escorted her up the stairs.
"It's my pleasure," the girl responded with another smile. She led Elou through a door that opened up into what Elou thought was a bathroom, with a bathtub and toilet and two mirrors. Julie showed Elou to the bath tub - there was a shower hose dangling over it, which Julie grabbed.
She smiled. "Do you want me to wash you?" Elou nodded slowly; after all, she was still too young and small to do much for herself.
Julie placed her gently in the bath and turned on the shower hose. The water trickled through Elou's fur; it was warm, making her troubles seem to fade away. For a moment she let herself drift off, the feel of the water and the mud leaving her body making her feel calmer.
Her hair was becoming less greasy, the green locks dripping with water as the shower hose passed them. She wasn't sure if Angel had followed her into the bathroom or not, but right now it didn't seem to mater. The water was calming her, cleaning her, and she felt much more refreshed.
And then it was over. Julie turned off the hose, hooked it back up so it dangled over the bathtub again. She gently picked up Elou and grabbed a towel; then she began drying Elou's fur and hair with it. Elou didn't say a word. In her small life, she hadn't been washed and dried before, and it felt so relaxing and refreshing.
"There," Julie said, beaming. "You're all cleaned up."
Elou stood up and gazed at herself in the mirror. She was surprised by what she saw there; neatly cleaned short brown fur, green neck fur and hair that shone with an almighty light. Her green eyes sparkled with joy, and she flicked her brown, black and green tail. "Thank you," she said, feeling so much better. "Thank you so much!"
"You're welcome." Julie shrugged; she looked almost as happy as Elou. "Come on, it's nearly dawn. Let's get downstairs. I think I need to neomail Rosie and have a little chat with her."
To be continued...