Red Thread: Part Two
Terry decides to start his search near home, so he walks a bit toward Brightvale. After a few hours of walking and following his red line, his hooves feel tired and suddenly he notices the tiniest of knots in the uniform red, right in front of a bustling cottage. It's a quaint little restaurant where Neopets are eating lunch. Terry steps inside hesitantly, when a flash of bleached blond hair catches his eye. When his eyes automatically travel down to the stranger's ankle, he realizes that this Yellow Lupe's thread just winds across the floor of the cafe and around the counter, undoubtedly attached to one of the workers.
"Hey, I'm Terry, and I'm sorry if this is blunt," Terry says, sliding into a chair at a table next to the Yellow Lupe. "But you – you found your twin?"
The Yellow Lupe looks slightly surprised, glancing up from his novel and setting his mug of hot chocolate down. "Oh, hello — I'm Jake," he says, rubbing awkwardly at his hair. "And, um, I guess?"
"But your strings are attached," Terry says, confused.
"Technically, they're not attached, they're the same string," Jake points out, tapping his right foot and grinning. "Keith is my best friend."
"But --" Terry pauses. "I thought the myth was about twins?"
"Kid, how old are you?" Jake says, scoffing slightly. "Keith is my twin, I guess, but that's really why he's my best friend."
"I guess," Terry says reluctantly. "Isn't a brother more than a best friend?"
"Being twins doesn't mean you don't fight, that you don't have problems." Jake shrugs. "Honestly, we'd both rather be best friends than twins."
Terry spends the afternoon in the restaurant, talking to Jake. He explains to him that he's out following his thread to look for his twin, and tries not to be offended when Jake laughs loudly. Jake is rather brash, he realizes soon enough, and also rather modern in his thinking. I will find my twin, Terry thinks determinedly to himself. I will find Thomas.
When Keith finally gets off his shift, he immediately bounds over to them. Up close, Keith has a delicate bone structure and a shag of honey-brown hair, and Terry can just barely make out the fading orange and teal streaks in his hair. The Rainbow Lupe takes one look at Terry and raises an eyebrow. "Who are you?"
"Terry, hi," he says, and they shake hands.
"You are adorable," Keith says definitively. "What were you guys talking about?"
"Terry's following his line," Jake tells him, and he grins as he knocks his right foot against Keith's left. "He's looking for his twin."
"Why does it sound like you're making fun of him?" Keith admonishes, tapping Jake on the head. "We have each other, don't we?"
"Yeah, but we grew up together," Jake gripes, rubbing at his head. "I mean, we just... were."
"So the Darkest Faerie didn't separate you guys?" Terry says, interested.
"Yep, we tricked her," Keith says proudly. "Because I'm Rainbow and Jake is a boring Yellow—" Jake gives Keith a pointed look, which Keith ignores, "we just pretended we weren't twins. The Light Faerie still put the string on us, though. We lived in the same neighborhood, but separately so the Darkest Faerie wouldn't suspect anything. We're definitely twins, though."
"Jake said you guys were just best friends," Terry says, relishing in Jake's pained look.
"We are," Keith tells Terry, and turns to focus his glare on Jake. "But that doesn't mean we're not brothers. What, Jake, you decide you don't want to believe in twins anymore? Don't believe in us anymore?"
"It's not that!" Jake protests. "I'm just saying, for other people... I mean come on, Keith, we grew up together. It was natural; we were twins before any dumb thread told us that we were. How can two people who don't know each other be linked together, and suddenly accept that they're twins? It just doesn't make sense to me."
"Hey, that isn't helping Terry at all," Keith huffs, hitting Jake on the head again. "Don't listen to him, Terry, he's just cynical and takes things for granted."
In the end, Keith bullies Jake into letting Terry stay the night in one of their neohomes. Terry marvels at his good fortune, and he smiles to himself when he notices that there's no more knot in his string as they walk out of the cafe.
As they walk back to their neohomes, Jake remarks, "You know, you're not the first one to pass by to find their twin. It happens more than you'd think."
"Then I have more of a chance of finding them, don't I?" Terry says cheerfully.
"Unless they're in a different world," Jake says wryly. "Like Lutari Island, or Shenkuu."
"My string lead me to Brightvale, though."
"Maybe it's leading you in circles," Jake shoots back.
"Stop trying to discourage him," Keith says, gripping at Jake's wrist. "Besides, his string wouldn't lead him in circles. It doesn't use any excess length; it just leads you the shortest way. Nicole the Pink Blumaroo lived in Roo Island before she decided to follow her line, and she said it just lead her to the ocean and stretched across the water, and that's when she realized that her twin Jean the Red Koi probably lived in Maraqua," Keith shrugs.
Terry ponders this as they walk up to a tall building, and he sighs as he notices that his thread leads away from the place. Nonetheless, he follows the bickering twins up the steps and is let into Keith's small, simple neohome.
"My owner's on vacation, but you can sleep on the couch, Terry," Keith says jovially, digging through a closet, a spare pillow under his arm. "Don't worry too much about your twin. You can keep looking tomorrow."
Terry walks down the sidewalk, crosses three intersections, ignores an angry Maraquan Kacheek, and rounds the corner of a building, all while keeping his eyes on his thread. It's the third day of his Quest (as Jake has taken to calling it) and he's made this same walk every single day. Apparently wherever his twin is, they haven't moved much since he got to the city, assuming that his twin is close by.
Today, he walks near Brightvale Castle, with people rushing all around him. His heart skips a beat when he notices a tiny knot in his string right next to an ice cream shop, and he eagerly walks inside. To his disappointment, only a middle aged Mutant Jetsam works there, although he does have the best dark chocolate raspberry swirl ice cream that Terry's ever tasted in his life.
When he glances outside, it's already getting dark. He stares at the line of red looped around his ankle, decides that he doesn't want to worry Keith or Jake, and he heads back to the neohome.
On the fifth day, Terry eats Keith's freshly baked blueberry muffins enthusiastically, thinking that he definitely made the right choice in walking into that restaurant that day. Afterward, he bids them goodbye again, and he sets out on his usual path.
Today, the old Desert Pteri that mans a cart laden with wind chimes smiles and waves a little at him, having obviously recognized him by now. He waves back cheerfully, and he almost makes it to the other end of the large open air market before he notices that his thread suddenly makes a sharp detour, to the right. Eagerly, he rushes in that direction, and he's completely puzzled when he finds that it loops a small stand selling glazed pottery.
The sight hits him like a truck — there's a young Blue Gnorbu working on a pottery wheel next to the stand. His light blue colored hair is held back by a black headband, and his arms up to his elbows are caked in clay. His hands are graceful, carefully making sure that the large vase he's spinning is perfectly round.
"H-hello," Terry stutters, because he's not quite sure what to do. The stranger looks up and flicks his overlong bangs -- even with the headband on -- out of his face, and stares at him confusedly.
"Oh, hello!" he suddenly says, his face breaking out into a wide grin. "Are you interested in buying something? I was so focused that I didn't even notice, I'm sorry."
"No, it's just—" Terrys starts, and then he notices the stranger's thread -- it comes out from under his right pantleg, and he can even see a succession of three tiny knots, splattered with clay. It leads back the way that Terry came, back into the marketplace. "Sorry, I'm just following my line, and it actually -- it looped around your stand," he says sheepishly. "Sorry for bothering you—"
"Oh no, don't worry about it," the stranger says, standing up and wiping his hands on his apron. He gazes down at them ruefully for a second, before he turns around and dunks them in a bucket of water, washing them off. "Yeah, I see all sorts of people wandering through here. I'm Owen, by the way."
"Terry," he responds.
Owen hums a bit and stumbles a bit as he walks over to his stand to grab a towel. He grins again at Terry. "The world is pretty weird, don't you think?" Owen says. "Sometimes you just have to accept it."
"Have you found your twin?" Terry blurts out, and he flushes red. "Sorry if that was, abrupt... It's amazing how many twins are around here."
"It's fine," Owen shrugs, and he leans his elbows on the counter, gesturing at Terry to come over. "And yeah, I have. She's the Faerie Gnorbu who works at the florist stand around the corner, next to the glass window makers."
Terry thinks of wavy, honey brown hair and a sweet, smiling face, hands diligently arranging a bouquet of baby pink roses. "I've seen her!"
Owen smiles wryly. "She doesn't know who I am."
"Oh. Wait, has she never noticed that—"
"We're both from Meridell," Owen shrugs, rolling a small cup around in his hand. He smiles slightly, "but my line appeared just as she walked into the public library. All this time, we never knew we were related."
"You could have said something—"
"Meridell's really worried about the Darkest Faerie thing, since we're right next to Faerieland," Owen says, and as he turns to place the cup on a shelf, his foot catches against a wooden stool. "Ah, I should really move that... Anyway, I know another Neopet who's a twin there. He never says anything, though. I suppose it's for the safety of Meridell. Plus, I think the Light Faerie knows what she's doing—we'll figure out we're twins when she's ready for us to."
"So it doesn't just lead you to your twin whenever you want," Terry says, awed. He's never heard of anyone speak of the line like this before, not really.
"Finding your twin is important," Owen says, his voice slightly wistful. "But so is doing what you want. Living your own life is important, too."
"You seem really smart, Owen," Terry says, his mind processing this new information. "Why are you telling me all of this?"
"Not smart, not really," Owen smiles another dazzling grin. "Experience. And besides, you said that your string looped around this stand, right? That's fate right there, isn't it?"
"How was your day, Terry?" Keith asks when Terry steps through the doorway. Jake is sitting next to Keith on the couch, and is completely absorbed in the trying to teach Keith's petpet, a slorg, to roll over. "Any progress?"
"Maybe a little," Terry grins. "I think I'm heading in the right direction."
To be continued...