A Conversation Between Rivals
When Layton Vickles settled down at his table, in some nameless restaurant in Altador, he had no idea that anyone would be joining him. He eyed the menu and then dropped it in disgust.
"You'd think they'd try to have a few diverse recipes, seeing as pets from all over Neopia are arriving here," he mumbled to himself, glaring distastefully at the meals which all involved either olives or bread.
Still deep in thought, he didn't notice the door to the restaurant opening, and a Uni stepping inside. The Uni's eyes fell on Layton's table and he approached it. When he arrived, he smiled at the frustrated look on the Hissi's face.
"Mind if I join you?" the Uni asked.
Layton was startled out of his thoughts, and looked up to see Valtonous Rea of Faerieland grinning at him.
He shrugged and nodded towards an empty seat. "Go ahead."
Valtonous sat down and said, "I guess the menu isn't too great."
Layton snorted. "I can't eat any of this. It's all junk."
Valtonous pulled out a few cakes from his bag and grinned. "I always bring food from Faerieland when we're travelling, just in case. Want one?"
Layton shook his head. The Faerie Cakes were no more appealing to him than the olives or bread that the menu offered. "Sorry," he told Valtonous, "I guess I'm just used to what I eat in Darigan. None of this cutesy stuff, or empty carbs in my diet. Usually, all my carbs are balanced out with fruits and meat. I really just want a steak, or maybe some fish."
The Uni looked amused. "You're really strict with your diet, aren't you?" he observed.
"A healthy and strong body, paired with a healthy and strong mind, is the secret to success," the Hissi pointed out.
The Uni's face fell. "Maybe if my team and I cared more about our diets, we'd play a little better. These cakes can't be too healthy."
Layton shrugged. "You look healthy to me. Tandrak eats cake too sometimes. Not Faerie cake, but cake all the same. As long as you balance it out, you should be fine. I just don't like sweets, mostly. And anyways, you guys are doing better. It's Altador that really should be worried; ugh, olives are repulsive."
Valtonous laughed. "Yeah, maybe the olives are why they're doing so badly."
"Olives are like the plague." Layton grimaced.
Valtonous smiled. "What team do you hate playing against the most?" he asked, changing the subject.
Layton made a face. "Maraqua. They'd be a good team if their captain wasn't such a ball hog. He never relies on his teammates at all. Elon Hughlis is a terrible captain and he has terrible sportsmanship. Playing against him is awful. Honestly, he's impolite and ugh, he just disgusts me. Jair Tollet did the right thing, getting out when she did. She's great with Roo. What about you?"
Valtonous nodded in agreement before admitting, "You guys. When I play you, I'm always terrified out of my mind. You always crush us. The other teams take it easy on us when they're ahead by four points or more, and I hate that. I hate their pity. But you guys never hesitate, you just steamroll over us until the final whistle blows. I admire that, the fact that you never take it easy on us, because that lets me keep my dignity. When a team stops trying when they play us, it's humiliating. It's like we're not even worth the effort, but still, seeing you guys totally sweep us is hard. We never even expect to beat you."
Layton smiled wryly but didn't apologize. Valtonous wasn't expecting him to. Winning was part of Yooyuball, everyone knew that. Layton wasn't doing anything wrong by winning.
"If I'm being honest, near the end of the games when we play you, I always feel a little embarrassed for you. I think it takes a lot of courage to keep on playing and face the fans and other team even when you know you're going to lose," the Hissi noted.
Valtonous smiled. "I guess if you look at it that way. Still, I'd like to be part of a team that people take seriously for once."
"I take you seriously. If you're skilled enough to get into professional Yooyuball, you must have some talent in you," the Hissi told him.
Valtonous shot Layton a grateful look. "You have a depth to you that I never realized, Layton Vickles."
"Well seeing as this is our longest and I think only conversation, I'm sure there's a lot of things you don't know about me," Layton remarked, looking mildly amused.
The Hissi finally slapped the menu shut, and gave up on getting a decent meal, and just ordered a drink. Valtonous followed his lead and got a drink to go with the Faerie Cake he was nibbling on.
"Where's your team?" the Hissi asked him.
"Out and about, exploring, I guess," Valtonous answered. "Where's yours?"
"Tandrak had to go repair his sling. Kep and Tormo are practicing defending, I think, and Reshar went to do some laps in the training pool," Layton replied.
Valtonous looked impressed. "You five are always focusing on the game aren't you? You're really serious."
Layton shrugged. "We like to win, so we try to be in the best shape possible."
"What's it like winning anyways?" Valtonous asked him.
Layton's eyes brightened and took on a faraway look. "It's the best feeling in the world, knowing that all your hard work has finally paid off and that all that effort you put in hasn't been wasted. It makes all the fights and the injuries and all the stuff you have to go through worthwhile because you finally done what you set out to accomplish and you're so proud of your teammates and yourself and you know they feel the same. You know all your supporters, your family, and your fans are so happy and proud of you and you're so happy you feel like you might burst." He smiled. "That's the best way I can put it into words, I guess. It isn't an easy feeling to describe. It's really special for me too, just because I'm the captain, and when we win, I know I've done my job and motivated everyone right. It's really hard to explain."
Valtonous smiled a little, looking a little sad. "I can only imagine."
The Hissi blinked and then sighed when he saw the upset expression on the Uni's face. "Cheer up. You saw how well Virtupets did this year. That'll be you guys soon. You'll improve."
Valtonous smiled at Layton. "Thank you, Vickles." Then he finished the last of his cake and his drink and then stood up. "I should get going. It was nice talking to you."
Layton stared after the Uni, and then smiled. It was nice having a decent conversation with someone from an opposing team. He'd have to do it again sometime. He then sipped the last of his drink, and then slithered off to find the manager of the darn restaurant and tell him just what he thought of the olives.
After all, Layton hated olives.
Author's note: I'd like to say that I have nothing against olives and actually enjoy eating them quite a lot. On another note, before anyone tells me, I know Valtonous isn't the captain of Faerieland's team, their captain is Kakoni, I believe. Also I wrote this one or two years ago and just decided to publish it now, so sorry if the writing is a bit immature, Last but not least, be on the lookout for more stuff from me!