Babysitters are Magical Like That
The sun beamed down brightly over the grass and the play structures at the park. A warm breeze shifted the mild air and stirred the soft, green leaves without disturbing the branches on their trees. A chorus of gleeful squeals and laughter came from the playground as petpets played. Most were under supervision of Neopets, but two were under the supervision of a particularly large Plumpy named Sasha. She grasped a quart-sized plastic bag filled to the brim with bacon, ignoring the looks the other petpets gave her. Next to her was a cheap red ball with a yellow star in the middle. It didn't seem like anything special, but it was number one on Sasha's agenda. It belonged to the little Angelpuss she babysat, and it meant the world to him.
Wil had lived at the Neopian Petpet Shop until he was grown enough to be sold. His mother, however, remained. The Usul who owned the shop had taken a particular fondness to her, and just refused to sell. The ball had been a gift from his mother, so Wil treasured it. He rarely got to see her, so he considered it one of his only ways to feel close to her. It might have seemed like some cheap, worn-out ball to the passer by, but to him, it was his most prized possession. Sasha knew that, which was why she guarded it closely from her post on the bench.
Wil was out on the field, playing with a Puppyblew named Rufus who lived nearby. They were the best of friends, and whenever they could, they'd beg Sasha to take them to the park to tag, catch, and race back and forth across the soft lawn. They had just stopped their game of tag, calling it a draw because neither had kept count and neither was up to any more running. "How about a game of catch while we recover?" Wil had suggested. Rufus was up for it, so they scampered over to meet Sasha at the bench.
"Hi, Sasha!" Wil greeted, his usual excitement about him. "Can Rufus and I play catch, please?" It was a silly question, seeing as it was his ball and they were at the park to play anyway, but he knew that asking permission was a way to keep Sasha informed, and she liked that. It made it easier on her when she knew what they were doing because she knew their favorite spots to play, making it easier to keep track of them.
"Alright, Will." She flicked the ball off the bench with her tail. "But remember to be careful with it. I know how upset you'd be if you lost it." She shook her head. "I don't understand why you don't bring a different ball to the park."
Wil shrugged. "It's always just Rufus and I, and I trust him to take good care of it."
Sasha turned her attention back to her bacon. "If you say so," she muttered.
Wil and Rufus raced off to the field to play where it was wide-open and they wouldn't interfere with anyone else's games of tag or frisbee. They played for several minutes, tossing the rubber object back and forth and then taking a few steps back.
"Wil, I think we should maybe stop," Rufus called to his friend, "I mean, the wind's getting awful string. What if your ball gets blown into a tree or something?"
Wil shrugged. "I can fly, remember? I'll just go get it. We'll be fine." He grinned. "Now throw it real hard! I'll go chase it down!" He spread his wings, eagerly awaiting his friend's toss.
Rusus sighed. There was no reasoning with his energetic friend. He hauled off and thew the ball with all his might, watching it fly out over the field. Wil took off after it, keeping his eyes on it the entire time. He bore down on it, growing closer and closer. He was about to grab it when he hit something.
"Oof!" He bounced off, falling a couple feet to the ground where he landed with a thud. Rufus hurried to his side. "Are you okay?" he asked, checking his friend over. Wil nodded. "Yep, just a couple scratches. What'd I hit?" He glanced up to see another petpet about his age hovering above them, smirking maliciously with Wil's ball grasped firmly between his front paws. Wil ignored the look on the newcomer's face. "Hi, there! I'm Wil. Wanna play with Rufus and me?"
The newcomer, a Devilpuss with piercing green eyes, shook his head. "No. I was just leaving."
He started heading off, but Wil called him back. "Hey, wait! If you aren't gonna play, you have to give my ball back."
The Devilpuss turned around. "What do you mean your ball? It's mine now. I caught it. I'm keeping it."
Rufus leaned over and whispered, "I'm getting Sasha." He dashed off.
Wil shook his head at the Devilpuss. "You don't understand. It's a present from my Mom, and it's really, really important to me."
The Devilpuss looked at him with a newfound interest. "Oh, is that so? It's really that important to you?"
Wil nodded. "Yes! Please give it back. It would mean a whole lot if you did."
The Devilpuss flicked his tail and scratched his chin in mock-thought. "Hmmmm..." He smirked. "Nah. I think I'd rather pop it instead."
Wil's fur bristled and he flew up to the Devilpuss's level. "No! You can't!" His desperation was growing. "Don't pop it, please!" He swished his tail back and forth, his eyes never leaving his precious ball.
The Devilpuss grinned widely. "Uh-oh. My claws are getting awful close." He was slowly applying pressure to the rubber ball's exterior with his long, hooked claws.
Wil wondered if he'd ever had them clipped. "Stop it!" he wailed, making a grab for the ball.
Sasha's rough, crackly voice split the air. "ALRIGHT, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?" Her fur was ruffled and her eyes blazed with irritation. Rufus had carried her bag of bacon for her.
Wil felt relief wash through him. Sasha would fix this! Sasha fixed everything! Babysitters were magical like that. "He wants to pop my ball!" Wil wailed, pointing at the Devilpuss.
"You mean my ball!" the arrogant bully spat back harshly. Sasha fixed a hard stare on him. "Kid, you quit picking on Wil and put his ball down."
The Devilpuss scoffed. "What are you going to do about it? Tell my owner? You know they don't speak petpet!" He turned to look Wil in the eye as he applied more pressure to the ball. It wasn't going to last long.
"Keep trying my patience and you'll face the wrath of Sasha!" The plumpy reared up, gritting her teeth in rage.
Wil watched the Devilpuss drop the deflated ball to the ground. His world fell apart. His reminder of his mother was gone. Destroyed. Lying in the dirt. He flew down and grasped it gently, turning it over. It didn't feel real. How could someone be so cruel? Tears streamed down his face and gathered at the end of his whiskers before falling down to the ground.
"SCRAM!" Sasha grabbed her quart-sized bag of greasy bacon and flung it at the Devilpuss, hitting her target with enough force to knock him down. With one last triumphant glance, the bully flew off with his head held high and his fur coated in bacon grease.
Sasha snorted, then turned her attention to Wil. She looked down at the ball. It lay flat and limp in Wil's paws, damp with his tears. She sighed, placing a paw on his shoulder. "Let's take Rufus home, and we'll figure out what to do with that when we get back."
The walk home was quiet, except for Wil's soft whimpers and Rufus's occasional whisper of, "Sorry, Wil... It'll be okay."
After they dropped Rufus off, they went directly back to Sasha's neohome. They sat with the deflated ball between them. Wil just stared at it blankly, his usual energy and enthusiasm completely drained. When it got dark, he looked out the window. "I have to go home. My owner will be back soon."
He let himself out quietly and Sasha watched him walk next door to his neohome without a word. She was deep in thought. She had to fix this.
Then, an idea struck her. Her owner enjoyed arts and crafts. She'd be able to fix the ball! Quickly, Sasha raced to her owner's room and dropped the deflated ball unceremoniously on her craft table. She'd check to see her owner's progress the next morning.
When dawn broke, Sasha stretched and yawned. Wil wouldn't be over for a little while. She remembered the ball and crept into her owner's room to see if it was fixed. To her astonishment, something completely new lay on the table.
A small superhero red cape with a yellow star in it, perfectly sized for a young Angelpuss. Sasha started at it in utter confusion. Her owner had made the ball into a cape, of all things? Why hadn't the silly neopet just patched up the hole? She was determined to show her owner how discontent she was. She leaped up onto the bed, letting out a loud, drawn-out, "MMMRRRRROOOOOWW."
Her owner, a royal Draik, sat up and yawned, rubbing the sleep from her blue eyes. "Oh, Sasha, you can't be hungry already. It's only dawn." Sasha jumped off the bed and up onto the craft table, glaring at the cape. Her owner smiled. "Oh! I see you found the cape. I recognized the ball from that little Angelpuss next door. It was popped! I knew the poor little guy must be devastated, so I made him something new out of it to play with." The Draik slid out of bed and walked to the kitchen, leaving Sasha alone.
"Something new to play with..." The plumpy muttered to herself, "Not a bad idea."
Sasha's owner left to go do whatever Neopets did during the day. Sasha couldn't imagine them doing much. After all, they couldn't even understand petpet. How could they do anything important if they could barely figure out what their petpets demanded?
Wil arrived at his usual time, still looking glum. Sasha did her best to be cheerful, though it was hard to pull off. "Wil, I have something for you. Come look." He numbly followed his babysitter into the bedroom. He jumped in surprise when Sasha hopped off the table grasping the cape.
"I-Is that my ball?" he stammered, too shocked to believe his eyes.
Sasha nodded. "Yep. I left it here for my owner to fix, but you know how hard it is to get them to understand you. Instead, she made this out of it for you."
Wil ran his paws over it in awe. The inside had been lined with soft fabric, and the outside would be waterproof from the ball's rubber so he could play with it on in the rain. His energy seemed to flow back into him as a wide smile formed on his face.
"Thank you, Sasha!" he shouted, hugging the plumpy gratefully. "Let's go show Rufus!" Forgetting to wait for permission, he threw the cape around his shoulders, buttoned it around his neck, and raced out the door.
'Sasha fixed it,' he thought gleefully. 'Sasha can fix anything! Babysitters are magical like that.'