The Star and Flame Chronicles: Babysitting
“Uh, how am I supposed to care for my pets if I can’t even play games that well?” moaned reeses_pet from behind the door in which one of the youngest siblings, Flaming_Heart_Beauty, listened.
“Poor Mom, having to support us four, herself and our eight cousins. I feel bad making her do the hard work. Maybe I can help.” The Yurble frowned, scratching her neck thoughtfully, remembering her once fluffy and red mane she had when she was a Xweetok.
Getting up from her kneeling position, she skipped down the hallway swinging her Flower Purse and wearing her Pretty Pink Flower Hat with a lighter pink Usukicon Y9 Attendee Badge on her neck. She almost ran into her older brother, Reeses_Love, who was absentmindedly walking down the hall with his nose in a book. He was very smart and didn’t think books were bad.
“Omf! Flame, be careful. I can’t help looking in a book so you’ll have to watch out. Why are you running anyway?” the Faerie Xweetok asked, looking down at his little sister curiously.
“Sorry, Reeses! I heard Mom muttering about trying to earn money. We aren’t rich, but she needs more money to care for us! I was thinking we could help her; I mean, she worked hard to get enough money to get me this hat and purse! She wants us happy, right? So let’s help!” Flame squealed, jumping up and down at her idea.
“Well, sure, that’d work, but where would we get extra money? Mom sends the scores, so we can’t do games except for the ones she doesn’t like,” Reeses said with a sigh, throwing his book through the doorway of his room where it landed on the ground.
“We could take some risks and do the wheels or do some quests and hopes to get expensive items, but Mom would catch on...” Flame murmured, looking up at her brother.
Reeses raised an eyebrow. “Huh, you mean you’re trying to keep this a secret? Why?”
Flame smiled, revealing a dazzling smile that could charm a Grarrl, and said, “Why don’t you want it to be a pleasant surprise when we come to her holding 100,000 NP in cash?”
The faerie Xweetok gaped at her before pulling himself together and saying, “Like I said, how we supposed to get all that money?”
“Selling, playing and auctioning this awesome Electric Blue Paint Brush I won!” cried a voice from behind the two Neopets.
They whipped around to see Shining_Lucky standing at the top of the stairs behind them waving an Electric Blue Paint Brush in her hand, little blue sparks of electricity flying around making a little zap every time it hit something.
Reeses_Love’s mouth dropped two feet. “No! We can’t sell it! We should save it. Besides, if we put it on the Trading Post, a bunch of n00bs will probably bid on it with 1000 NP. Not helping!”
“Eh, you’re right. I feel so proud to be in possession of this thing! I told you going to the Fruit Machine would get me something good eventually!” Lucky said with a sigh.
Flame’s face split into a grin suddenly. “I have a brilliant idea!”
After they told their brother, Star_Light_Wish the Starry Xweetok, about their goal to earn money, he agreed to help. But all three Xweetoks were wondering what the only Yurble in the family was thinking. Shining_Lucky pressed Flame into telling her, but she refused saying she would tell them tomorrow. The green Xweetok soon gave up and began to wait the next day.
Star was also curious for he was the Yurble’s twin. Flame used to be a red Xweetok before she got zapped by the lab ray, so they weren’t really as alike in looks anymore. Still, the chance of getting her back to a Xweetok was fresh in his mind and so he was willing to help.
“Babysitting!” The word came out of an excited Yurble’s mouth early Saturday morning when reeses_pet was out doing the dailies.
“What, are you crazy?!” The words exploded out of the three other pets sitting at their dining room table.
“What’s wrong with babysitting? They’re only babies and besides, we’re getting paid 8000 NP an hour! I booked us in with Mrs. Nickerson from 30420 Earth Faerie Close. Don’t want to cancel now, do you?” Flame said with a mischievous smile.
“Well, it shouldn’t be THAT hard...” Star murmured, rubbing his chin.
“It might make us a hefty profit...” the green Xweetok said quietly, lost in thoughts.
Reeses smiled and said, “Then it’s a yes!”
Ding dong! The door bell rang on the Porch of Lisa Nickerson on 30420 Earth Faerie Close and a blue Lutari, all dressed up, answered the door. She blew a kiss to the room behind her and turned to face the four Neopets.
“You the babysitters?” she asked flatly, her mood changing when she saw them.
“Uh, yeah... We’ll take good care of them! You’ll see them happier when you come back than when you left them!” Flame said enthusiastically, shaking a blue Flotsam plush toy she got from the toy store on the way home from her friend’s house yesterday.
“Well, you better be right or else you’ll be paying a visit with my lawyers, you hear?” Mrs. Nickerson said her eyes narrowing and she blew another kiss behind her and promptly walked out the door, nearly tripping on an uneven paving stone with her high heels.
As soon as she was out of earshot, the pets began talking.
“She’s a bit snooty, isn’t she?” Lucky giggled.
“We better do well, or else she’ll neomail Mom and ruin the surprise!” Flame chided,
Star came from the doorway, holding a baby Acara and a baby Grundo in his arms. The Acara, who had Serenity written across her bib, was half-asleep, her thumb stuck in her mouth. The Grundo was snuggling his face into the starry Xweetok’s mane, his eyes partly closed.
“Aren’t they just the cutest?” He cooed, shifting his shoulder so the baby Grundo could be more comfortable. “The Grundo’s Clyde and the Acara’s Serenity.”
“Hey, how about you and Shining_Lucky care for Clyde while Reeses and I take care of little Serenity?” Flame suggested, taking the baby Acara in her arms and cradling her ever so gently.
“Sure, that’s a deal. I mean, what can this little guy do?” Lucky said with a smile, stroking Clyde’s smooth head.
SPLAT! Flame froze from getting the milk when something warm and mushy hit her back. She turned around to see Serenity throwing her Pea and Ham Baby Food around. Reeses was trying to get a spoonful of the food into the baby Acara’s mouth, but she promptly reacted by splattering his wings with the food.
Reeses made a face. “Ugh, my wings are DISGUSTING! This will never come out. I thought you said this would be EASY!” Reeses cried in disgust as he shook his wings to get a glob of the mush off his wing.
The Yurble groaned and grabbed the jar of food. “How was I supposed to know?” she hissed and yanked her hand out of reach of the little Acara.
Serenity let out a piercing wail as she made a made a mad grab for the half-full jar of baby food. She began to cry, pounding the high-chair she was in and making quite a ruckus.
Flame tried to comfort her, but the Acara squirmed her way out of the Yurble’s arms and crawled onto the counter. She made a mess of the kitchen faster than the Xweetok and the Yurble could imagine.
“NAYAH BWANA!” Serenity squeaked and began to crush and throw things out of the fruit basket sitting near the stove.
“NO, THAT’S YOUR MOMMY’S!” Reeses shouted as he made a wild dash for the Acara, but the floor, smeared with various spilled foods slowed him down and in the end, he ended up slipping and falling flat on his nose.
“Oh my god! We’re going to have to buy everything that broke! We’re losing money now!” Flame moaned and snatched Serenity before she could smash another jar of baby food off the counter.
“Wow, she’s quite a handful... I wonder how Lucky and Star are doing...” Reeses said with a sigh and covered his face with his paw as Serenity flicked a bit of the green food at him.
“Aw, aren’t you a cutie pie!” Lucky cooed, adding a wuh sound to things like cwutie pwie.
Star got a book from the small white shelf in the baby neopets’ room. He looked at the green colored cover that said A Grundo Christmas. He went to Lucky and showed her the book.
He held in front of him and asked, “You think he’ll pay any attention to this?”
Lucky cradled him and looked up. “Eh, nah, get him a book filled with short stories. They can’t pay attention to one thing for THAT long!”
As if showing her he was listening, Clyde let out a squeal and pulled on her green mane- hard. Lucky let out a screech and dropped him onto a bean bag near a pile of boxes that was next to book shelf. The boxes were stacked just enough for a neopet to climb to the top of the high book shelf. Atop the shelf were some plushies laid neatly in a row.
Making little grunts and noises, the little Grundo seemed to be training early as he crawled to the pile of boxes with surprising speed and with some difficulty, managed to get to the top. Star was trying to get him, but the Grundo was too out of reach and the boxes were too small for them to get on it.
Throwing the book aside, Star positioned himself below the shelf in case Clyde decided to go ‘over board’! Clyde let out a gurgle and knocked down the plushies which fell onto the Xweetok’s head. Unfortunately for him, there were hard, plastic toys up there too.
Star was knocked down and mumbled something about Baby Power before groaning and lying defeated on the ground. Lucky’s slightly smaller body was the right size to climb the boxes. She balanced precariously on the second before delicately placing a paw onto the third. She pulled herself onto the top of the shelf, only to realize it was too narrow for her to stand on it.
Star grunted and rubbed his head where a bump had formed. “Oh Fyora, these babies are worse than the Snowager! I wonder how Reeses and Flame are doing...”
Reeses stumbled and slipped as he firmly but gently carried the baby neopet into the living room. Serenity wailed and struggled in an attempt to break free, but Reeses managed to get the squirming baby into the play pen where she unsuccessfully tried to scramble out.
Flame sighed and took a paper towel from a roll near the sink. “Come on, Reeses, we better clean this up or else we’ll never get any money.”
“How about I go buy the food Serenity destroyed and I’ll help when I come back?” Reeses suggested, wiping his brow with a tired hand. “That is, if I have enough energy to move by then!”
“Fine, buy me some towels if you can too; I doubt Mrs. Nickerson would like me dirtying up her towels without her permission,” the Yurble added and began to wipe some slipped on and smudged Pea and Ham baby food off the tiled floor.
Reeses walked out of the kitchen and left the house with a click of a lock. Flame sighed sadly and knew she was alone now. She bit her lip in concentration as she tried to scrub some of the green gunk out of the spaces between the tiles.
“This is going to take a while...” Flame moaned, looking around the kitchen and absorbed the messed-up scene. “We’re going to get fired.”
“Let’s see... She smashed five jars of baby food, two Peas and Ham, one Forest Fruit, one Lemon Meringue and the other Strawberries and Cream. She ruined the whole fruit basket, which held organic red and green apples and some plain oranges. She opened and poured out a whole gallon of Kau Kau Farm Milk... She spilled a box of petpet crackers and put a whole jar of Gooseberry Jam down the sink then threw the jar out the window where it smashed into a million pieces... Oh, thank Fyora, I have an hour left,” Reeses said to himself in wonder. “She’s worse than Vira as a baby!”
He bought everything the Acara had destroyed, losing more than 10000 NP he guessed, which if you are low on NP, is a lot. His mom barely had enough money to complete the Fountain Faerie Quest that made him this wonderful color, but she did it and even then she wasn’t rich.
He sadly pushed his cart to the cashierm hoping he could afford the cost. An old blue Techo wearing a ripped old apron with the name tag, RONALD, was standing behind the counter muttering about not being paid enough. He looked up and scowled into Reese’s hovering form.
“You here to buy something or you just going to stare?” Ronald hissed, getting ready to type on the cash register.
“Uh, yeah, here, in the cart.” Reeses moved them onto the counter and watched as the Techo slid the foods across a scanner.
A Chia came and told him his shift was over. With a whoop of joy, the Techo threw off his apron off and flew (literally) out the door. The yellow Chia then turned to Reeses and smiled.
Checking the cash register, the Chia handed him the receipt and said, “Thank you for shopping at the Food Shop; we have all the things to satisfy your hunger!”
Reeses reluctantly gave 9800 NP to the Chia and collected his things in a pair of plastic bags. He flew to Mrs. Nickerson’s house and was quite surprised it was still standing. He knocked and Flame let him in. She smiled proudly at her work. The floor looked just as it was before the food got spilled onto it and the counter was partially cleaned.
“Did you have enough for it all?” Flame asked, brushing some broken glass off the counter with a sweep of a feather duster. It fell into a plastic bag placed below. “There’s a bag full of the mess Serenity made.”
“Yup, but now I have only two hundred now. Things are getting pricey nowadays.” The Faerie Xweetok sighed and collapsed into a Dining Room Chair.
“Well, can you help? I don’t remember which fruits are in the basket near the stove.”
Heaving a big sigh, Reeses got up and began to put the apples and oranges into the basket. He placed the baby food in a line on the counter and helped clear the rest of the mess with the help of his little sister. The kitchen was looking pretty tidy now. Lifting the garbage bag, he placed it outside and flew inside the house to sweep the last of the glass into the garbage.
“How’s Serenity?” Reeses asked, glancing at the doorway of the living room with dread. “Has she destroyed anything else?”
“What, no! She’s actually been sweet and apologetic. I gave her a crayon and a piece of paper and while I watched her, she drew a messy picture of us. I was a yellow blob with three pink dots- one on my head (my hat), one on my neck (my badge) and the other in my hand which I guess is my purse,” Flame said with a grin. “She must be feeling guilty.”
They went to the play pen and watched the little Acara hug the blue Flotsam plushie Flame had given her. Making a gurgling sound, she outstretched her arms towards them. Reeses gaped and carefully (with learned caution) picked her up. She purred and snuggled into his fur.
He felt her playing with his wings and smiled. Even he was a bit bratty now and again. Settling down on the couch, he stroked her back. Flame grinned her charming grin and petted Serenity’s smooth head.
Then, slowly, quite softly, they heard a soft snoring or breathing. She was sound asleep. And then, Flame felt like she should do it, she began to softly sing along with the baby Acara’s soft even breathing.
“Go to sleep... Go to sleep... Go to sleep, dear Serenity, go to sleep, go to sleep, now that sleepy time is here...” she began and laid her head onto her big brother’s shoulder while gazing contently at Serenity...
With great difficulty unlike Clyde, Lucky was able to wobble across the top of the shelf if she kept her two front paws stuck quite close together. She was afraid she would tip the whole thing over and crush poor Star.
Just then, Clyde let out a squeak of joy when he saw his Baby Grundo Plushie- which was located at the other side of the room. He ran to the edge and without thinking- jumped off. Lucky gasped and toppled over. Star caught him and fell on the ground before letting out a loud grunt of pain as Lucky fell on top of him.
Clyde began to cry and he clung to Star’s mane, tears soaking his chest. The Starry Xweetok hesitated, but them scooped him into a good position and sat on the bed near the door. Lucky got up and reached for the plushie and with a smile, gave it to the sniffling Grundo. Clyde looked up at them with wide eyes and cooed with happiness. He leaned out of Star’s arms and waved his arms towards A Grundo Christmas on the floor.
Lucky blinked and got the message. She took the book and sat next to her younger brother. She turned to the first page and angled the book so the baby Grundo could see it clearly.
Clearing her throat, Lucky began to read. “Gordon the Grundo spent his holiday making gingerbread Grundos and decorating his tree with Grundo-shaped ornaments. He loved his species and considered them to be special. He would like to share the recipe of tasty gingerbread Grundos with you...”
Clyde smiled a toothless smile and shifted himself and listened. Lucky and Star grinned themselves and started to stroke his smooth blue head.
BANG! The front door slammed open and a red-faced Mrs. Nickerson stormed in.
“How dare she- how she DARE challenge me to a limbo contest and then cheat- then get away with it!” screeched the blue Lutari and swiveled to the two stunned neopets on the couch. “And she better be happy! Or else-”
“Mama!” Serenity looked at the surprised Lutari with love and stretched her arms towards her.
“That’s her first word!” Mrs. Nickerson gasped. “And she isn’t even a year old!”
Gulping, Flame asked, “Did we do a good job with her, Mrs. Nickerson?”
“Yes, yes, yes. I understand how hard she can be at times. You’ve done a good job and for that I’ll give you 50000 NP. If your other siblings did well too, you’ll be quite loaded for a month,” Mrs. Nickerson said, taking the Acara into her arms.
“Really, w-wow! Thanks, Mrs. Nickerson! Happy to do you service!” Flame stammered in awe as the Lutari gave her 50000 NP.
Serenity stretched towards Reeses and Flame and smiled.
With a grin, Mrs. Nickerson said, “She seems to like you too. I’ll neomail anytime! You’re my top babysitters!”
Mrs. Nickerson placed her back in Flame’s lap and went upstairs. As soon as they were sure she wasn’t close enough to hear, they got up and did a little jig. Still holding Serenity, Flame high-fived her brother happily and began to shout, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”
“Maybe she isn’t that crabby after all,” Reeses said, touching Serenity’s little pink nose.
Lucky paused and looked up at the blue Lutari in front of her. Star stared up, hoping he wasn’t going to be punished for forgetting to clean up the plushies scattered on the floor.
Looking around, Mrs. Nickerson coughed. “I see Clyde has given you a hard time?”
Gulping, they nodded sullenly and cradled little Clyde. “We tried our best.”
“Well, your best is enough. He can be quite a handful and I am giving you a total of 50000. Your siblings downstairs did a pretty good job too. A few bits of messiness won’t hurt. Good job. You’re my top babysitters. You have a name?” Mrs. Nickerson asked.
“N-no... But you can call us Happy Kids Babysitting Co.!” Star suggested, earning a smile from Mrs. Nickerson.
“Well, I’m sure to call you again, employees of Happy Kids Babysitting Co.!” She laughed and said goodbye.
“WOW! I TOLD YOU WE’D GET A TON OF MONEY, BUT I NEVER IMAGINED THIS MUCH! I MEAN, WE COULD FINALLY STOP WORRYING! Mom will be so happy!” Flame chattered on and on. She was hyper active now.
The four pets opened the door to their neohome and found their owner asleep over a game of Kiko Match II. A few thousand neopoints surrounded her. The pets placed the NP around her and stood by the door and waited.
“What, huh... Ugh, must have fallen asleep again... Oh- HOLY KAU!” reeses_pet gasped and she looked around in surprise, wondering how in Neopia the NP had gotten there, and then she spotted her giggling pets.
“Surprise! We babysat for Mrs. Nickerson’s kids and earned 100000 NP for you! We feel bad about you doing all the work,” Flame said proudly embracing her owner in a hug.
“We love you, Mom,” they said in a chorus and together, they hugged as one big happy family.