Tamara's Hello
written by Tabby

Tabby was in her living room, once again watching the old My Little People cartoons. It was strange how incredibly funny they got after you'd seen them a million times-- she was even laughing out loud at the serious scenes, like when Emily was battling the vicious sea serpent who was going to flood Peopleland.

And then, the Princess People episode started. Tabby laughed uproariously. Princess People were simply too funny, in her opinion.

At that moment, Tabby heard her doorbell chime. She sighed as she pressed the pause button on the remote.

It's probably just Sugarberry wanting to know if I'd like to visit Tex with her, Tabby thought to herself as she made her way to the door. How boring can you get?

Expecting to see Sugarberry standing there once she'd swung the door open, Tabby was taken entirely by surprise. On her front porch stood an identical carbon-copy of herself-- the same unicorn horn, the same pink body, the same red hair, the same cat symbol.

"Oh, Tabby, you do remember your cousin Tamara, don't you?" the newcomer exclaimed as she embraced a not-too-willing Tabby.

"Ugh." Tabby pulled herself free of the pony's grasp. "Yes, I remember, Tamara. It's been ages since I saw you last." As a mental side-note to herself, she added, And man, was that nice!

"Ever since you moved here out of vet collage," Tamara agreed. "Do you still go by that nickname you insisted on being called back then-- Tabby?"

"As a matter of fact, yes," Tabby snarled. "Have you got a problem with that?"

Tamara wrinkled her face slightly. "I'd have thought you'd have grown-up enough by now to use your full name. Tabitha-- it's so dignified-sounding, isn't it?"

"None of my friends see a problem with calling be Tabby," Tabby retorted. "I don't see why you should."

"And are you still running that quaint little vet clinic you started?" Tamara prodded, staring behind Tabby and into the house.

"Well-- no-- not exactly... and my old clinic was not ‘quaint'!" Tabby blustered. "What in the world are you doing here, Tamara?"

Tamara patted her mane back into place and pushed past Tabby to get a closer look at her cousin's house. "You know I started breeding show cats in Ladedaville..."

"Uh huh," Tabby said through gritted teeth. "You could have asked to come in first."

"And I've decided to relocate my business to Dream Valley," Tamara continued. "You won't mind me staying at your house until I'm settled down in one of my own, will you?"

"Surely, it's the least I could do for a dear cousin," Tabby said sarcastically.

Tamara ignored her cousin's tone of voice. "I knew you'd come through for me, Tabby!" she said, clapping her front hooves together in delight.

Tamara then passed by the living room and saw what was on the screen. "Tabby, you're still into those My Little People?" she giggled. "I sold my collection once I got into high-school."

"You told me that," Tabby said sourly. "You didn't even ask me if I wanted them first."

"Now, we'll have plenty of time for catching up later. But I have to run back to the airport and pick up my luggage first-- I needed to make sure I'd be able to stay here before packing it around. She rolled her eyes; and before dashing out the door, she called while giggling, "It's good to see you're still your old snippy self, Tabby!"

Tabby collapsed on the couch and ejected the My Little People tape-- she needed to organize her thoughts before Tamara got back.

"What was that all about?" Tarquin asked, mystified, as he jumped up on the couch as well. Tarquin was Tabby's Meowth Pokèmon.

"Long story, like all stories are," Tabby sighed, and began to unravel the mystery of Tamara's appearance. "She's my cousin-- our mothers were sisters. Strangely enough, we were born on the same day and were nearly identical."

" ‘Nearly'?" Tarquin's ears perked up.

"Our eye color is different," Tabby explained. "Mine are lavender, and hers are yellow. That's really the only difference, except for personality. Anyway, we lived in different towns during our childhood, but I always spent my summer vacation with Tamara." Tabby paused for breath.

"Intriguing," Tarquin pondered.

"I couldn't stand her since I can remember-- but our mothers always insisted on me coming to visit, and there was nothing I could do about it. I never told my friends where I was every summer." She suddenly stopped and groaned. "What a mess this is going to be when everyone else thinks Tamara is me."

"They'll get over it," Tarquin consoled her.

"Like I said, I couldn't stand being around her-- she has such a snobby personality-- too bad it didn't wear off over the years. I suppose she doesn't really mean to hurt my feelings, but still..." Tabby sighed, but continued on.

"Finally, after college, our ways parted. I moved to Dream Valley to start my clinic and the last I heard about Tamara was that she was a show-cat breeder somewhere across the Purple Mountains."

"And then she just showed up on your doorstep ten minutes ago?"

"Yep," Tabby confirmed, nodding her head. "I wouldn't have minded if I'd never seen her again."

"Don't worry; I know just how you feel. When I was still at home with my mother there were these Persians in the neighborhood..."

* * *

Meanwhile, Tamara was leisurely walking back to the airport. Dream Valley was such a nice town from what she'd seen of it; it'd be fun raising show-cats here. She wanted to buy a mansion, and then build a huge complex for cat-shows.

She was hardly a block away from Tabby's house when a pony coming from the opposite direction stopped her.

"Tabby!" the white earth pony with bright red hair and strawberries on her sides exclaimed. "I was just coming over to see you and ask if you'd like to go with me to visit Tex!"

Tamara giggled politely. "Oh, you see, I'm not Tabby. I'm her cousin that just arrived here. Are you one of her friends?"

Sugarberry rolled her eyes in amusement. "It's Sugarberry, Tabby. Come on. I know you're just saying that to get out of seeing Tex. I'm sure you'd want to see Emilio, though!" Emilio was Tex's pet tarantula.

"No, I'm telling the truth!" Tamara pleaded. "I'm Tamara, her cousin!"

Sugarberry just laughed. "Come on, cut the act. I know you're faking. Follow me, now."

Tamara stood undecidedly, then followed Sugarberry. This new acquaintance would see the two cousins together soon enough, and then she'd believe that Tamara wasn't lying. For now, at least she could find out who this Tex guy was. Maybe he'd even be kinda cute...

* * *

Sugarberry knocked on Tex's door, with Tamara standing behind. Tex opened the door and grinned when he saw them. "Hello, ladies," he greeted them.

Sugarberry smiled back. "I decided to come visit, as I haven't seen you around for awhile," she explained. "And I brought you some cookies I baked this morning." She handed Tex a plate.

"And Emilio will be mighty glad to see you, Tabby," Tex said, looking past Sugarberry. "Come on in, you two."

Tamara smiled sweetly at this handsome yellow stallion.

And so, the three ponies sat around Tex's kitchen table, eating the cookies Sugarberry had brought. "I'm sure Emilio will come out once he hears you," Tex said cheerfully.

Giggling, Tamara tried once again to justify herself. "Really, please believe me! I'm Tamara, Tabby's cousin!"

"That voice you're using sounds exactly like the one you use when impersonating Tiffany!" Sugarberry said triumphantly. "We know it's you, Tabby."

"Look, even Emilio knows it's true," Tex observed. Sure enough, the fuzzy spider had crawled up onto the table next to Tamara.

Not expecting Emilio to be a tarantula, Tamara nearly jumped out of her seat. "It's a... spider! A big, ugly one!" she cried out in fear.

"You've never been afraid of Emilio before," Tex chided. "He's your friend. Look, he's hurt that you're scared.

Tamara looked into the tarantula's sad eyes, and her heart immediately went out to him. "I'm sorry, Emilio," she apologized. "But I'm not Tabby."

Sugarberry and Tex winked at each other. "She won't give it up," Sugarberry said in amazement.

"Would you go with me to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight?" Tex asked Tamara as she carefully tried to avoid touching Emilio.

Tamara was taken by surprise. "Umm... me? What?" she stuttered.

"I've always been fond of you, you know," Tex continued.

Tamara regained her composure. "You should really ask Tabby yourself... but if you still won't believe me on that... then I can go with you instead of her."

"Well, alright." Tex shrugged. "Is seven o' clock okay?"

"Fine," Tamara confirmed. "And I'll bring Tabby along; then you'll see for yourself."

As the two girls left, Tex thought to himself, Maybe she was telling the truth... she was a lot nicer than Tabby ever was...

* * *

"Sugarberry, let's go to Tabby's house. Then you'll see I was telling the truth," Tamara suggested as they left Tex's, forgetting about her luggage for the moment.

Sugarberry was beginning to wonder what was going on. Tabby didn't usually take jokes like this so far. "Okay, that sounds fair," she agreed.

* * *

Tarquin was snacking on a can of cherry pie filling, his favorite treat, while Tabby tapped a hoof on the table. "What's Tamara up to? It shouldn't take forty-five minutes to walk to the airport and back."

"Maybe she decided to go back to her old city," Tarquin suggested.

"Hey! That'd be perfect!" Tabby exclaimed brightly.

"She just reminds me too much of those old Persians," Tarquin muttered.

Just as they were beginning to dream about this prospect, they both heard the door open. Tabby sighed and got up from her seat.

"Hello, Sugarberry," she said dully as she saw her friend in the doorway.

Sugarberry's mouth gaped as she saw Tabby, and then whirled around to see Tamara. "I don't believe it," she whispered.

"So you've met my cousin, eh, Sugarberry?" Tabby snapped.

"I told you I wasn't Tabby!" Tamara gleefully cried out.

"I guess you were right," Sugarberry said in awe. "You're both so... identical."

"But I have yellow eyes and Tabby has lavender," Tamara explained sweetly.

"Hmph! Lavender looks a ton better than yellow!" Tabby pointed out.

"Nonsense!" Tamara tossed her mane. "It's a proven fact that yellow compliments red better than lavender."

"Let's just sit down and chat a bit," Sugarberry said cheerfully, sensing the tension being radiated from Tabby. She led the two cousins into the living room.

"So, are you just visiting Dream Valley?" Sugarberry questioned Tamara.

Tamara looked pleased to be talking about her business. "Actually, I'm moving--" At that point, Tarquin walked into the room. Tamara clapped a hoof over her mouth in shock.

"You gotta get more cherry pie filling," he explained cheerfully to Tabby while licking his paws clean.

"What a dreadful looking cat!" Tamara gasped. "It-- talks?" It walks on its hind legs? And those whiskers sticking out of its head--!" She shuddered.

Tabby quickly scooped Tarquin up and began to defend him. "Tarquin's no ordinary cat," she countered. "He's a Pokèmon-- and a very rare one, at that."

"And don't call me ‘it'," Tarquin said in disgust. "My name is Tarquin."

"You certainly wouldn't win any ribbons in a cat-show," Tamara sniffed.

"Uhh, I guess I owe you an apology for not believing you, Tamara," Sugarberry said to change the subject.

Tamara returned to her sunny self. "No problem," she declared happily.

"You see, I saw her and thought it was you, Tabby," Sugarberry explained. "I took her to visit Tex."

Tamara gasped suddenly. "Oh, no! I forgot about my luggage, and now I won't have make-up for tonight! Tabby, you surely must have some I can borrow!"

Tabby blinked slowly. "Huh?"

"Tex just asked me out to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," Tamara said breezily. "I'll have to look my best. You don't mind me going with him, do you?"

"Ha! Why should I care if you're going out with that creep?" Tabby snarled.

"Settle down, Tabby," Sugarberry warned. "Tamara, you can come over to my house and get done-up. Then we can all head over to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe together."

* * *

"Don't you ever dress-up, Tabby?" Tamara giggled later that evening as the three walked through the cool air to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. "Not even a ribbon in your mane?"

"I have no need for dressing-up," Tabby said loftily.

"You never would let me give you a make-over when we were younger," Tamara mused.

"Here we are at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," Sugarberry announced.

"What a quaint little place," Tamara sighed dreamily. "I should have known Tex would have picked a nice restaurant like this."

"It's just your average ice cream shop that we go to every night," Tabby said in despair.

"Look, there's Tex waiting at the counter for me," Tamara cooed. She took dainty steps up to him. Tabby and Sugarberry followed behind.

Tex looked at Tamara, and then at Tabby, in amazement. "There are two of you!" he exclaimed.

Tamara giggled sweetly-- the giggle she was famous for. "Tabby doesn't seem to be too thrilled with you, so if the invitation is still open for me...?"

"Certainly; I'd be honored to buy ice cream for you tonight," Tex said charmingly.

"Would either of you like to join us?" Tamara questioned.

"I'm leaving," Tabby snarled, backing out the door. "I don't want to be in your company any more than I have to. I'll see you when you get back, Tamara." With that final line dripping with venom, she was gone into the night.

Sugarberry quickly declined the offer. "That's okay; I see Friendly and Spike, and I have to talk to them about something."

Tex and Tamara ordered and sat down. While waiting her turn to order, Sugarberry contemplated the current Tamara dilemma. Tabby was none-to-happy with the crisis, which was obvious.

"What's she doing at a table with Tex?" a voice suddenly hissed into Sugarberry's ear. She jumped as she was jolted back into reality. She turned around to see Thomas's annoyed glance. "Really, it's not the way it looks," she said quickly.

Thomas's stare pressed Sugarberry for more information.

"It's actually Tabby's identical cousin, Tamara," Sugarberry said hurriedly.

"And did this cousin materialize out of nowhere?" Thomas continued.

"Their eye color is different," Sugarberry said helpfully.

"Right. And if that's her cousin, where's Tabby?"

"She's mad at Tamara and went home..."

"I see." Thomas finally lightened up. "You haven't lied to me much in the past, Sugarberry-- there's only that one time you skipped out of work to go shopping--"

Sugarberry bit her lip at that recollection.

"--but I'll try to believe you this time," he finished.

Sugarberry breathed a sigh of relief. "Great!" she said enthusiastically. "I was just going over to see Spike and Friendly..."

* * *

Meanwhile, Tiffany had just entered the ice cream shop as well. Her head was drooping a bit, as Toby had an emergency to attend to at the hospital, so he wouldn't be able to accompany her here tonight.

Tiffany deftly scanned the tables for signs of any of her other friends. Her heart stopped beating for a second as she saw the strangest sight of all time-- Tabby and Tex at a table for two, obviously enjoying each other's company?

I gotta see what this is all about! Tiffany thought as she zoomed towards the table in question, not even bothering to order anything.

"Why, hello, Tabby, Tex!" she greeted them cheerfully.

"She's not Tabby," Tex said quickly.

Tiffany was taken entirely by surprise. "Huh?" was all she could utter.

"I'll have to explain this to a million ponies before they all know," Tamara giggled. "I'm Tamara, Tabby's identical cousin."

Tiffany stared at Tamara long and hard before her face lit up. "Of course! Your eyes are yellow; that's different than Tabby's! I have to admit, yellow looks absolutely stunning on you," she gushed.

"Thank you," Tamara giggled. "I always thought they were stunning myself. What's your name? I haven't met many ponies in this town yet."

"I," Tiffany declared dramatically, "am Princess Tiffany of the Royal Paradise."

Tamara gasped in delight. "Oh, Tex! We actually have a princess at our very table!"

"But," Tiffany continued, frowning, "why didn't I find out about your arrival before this? Princesses must keep informed."

"She just arrived this afternoon," Tex explained. "And she deals with show-cats."

"Show-cats!" Tiffany exclaimed. "I have a cat you'll definitely want to see; Theodora is the most marvelous Bombay you've ever seen."

Tamara squealed. "I love Bombays! You mentioned you're at the Royal Paradise? Is that the humongous mansion I saw up on Star Gleam Lane? I was hoping it was for sale."

Tiffany laughed. She was getting along quite well with this Tamara. "We're not selling," she said quickly, "but the rest of the princesses and I are having a little dinner party there tomorrow night."

"I love dinner parties!" Tamara exclaimed.

"Since you're new in town, why don't you come, as well?" Tiffany suggested.

"Wonderful," Tamara gushed. "I'd love to see the other princesses. How many are going to be at the party?"

"Well, there are twelve of us princesses, and we'll each have a date," Tiffany figured. "Twelve times two is about a hundred, and I'll round that down to fifty," she mumbled to herself, and then turned to Tamara. "I say there'll be about fifty ponies there."

"You can come with me, can't you, Tex?" Tamara prodded.

Tex turned red in the face. "Anything for you," he murmured.

"I'll call you later tonight with details!" Tiffany waved as she skipped to another table. She couldn't wait to spread this latest gossip.

* * *

"Tabby! Come help me, please!" Tamara shouted up the stairs as she returned to Tabby's house later that night.

Tabby appeared on the top step. "Is it that important? I'm busy right now."

Tamara shook her head. "Tsk, tsk. No need to get huffy. But my luggage is very important. Come help." She trotted back to the front door; Tabby sighed and followed.

"This is your luggage?" she cried out in dismay upon seeing the heap of suitcases piled on her porch. "I thought you'd only have about two things to carry!"

"I just brought the necessities," Tamara explained. "I'm having everything else shipped out here later."

"How in the world did you get it all here?" Tabby gasped.

"Oh, Tex helped me," Tamara said nonchalantly. "He's such a sweet pony. I still need to get it up to my room, though."

"A room?" Tabby gasped. "Can't you just use the couch at night?"

"Certainly you must have a spare bedroom," Tamara chided. "You have to be prepared for emergencies."

"I did have a spare bedroom, but--"

"You're probably using it for the overflow of your My Little People collection," Tamara laughed. "No bother; we'll just push all those silly things out.

"My Little People are not silly!" Tabby bristled. "And I'm not giving Tarquin's room to you!"

Tamara's expression was one of complete amusement. "You've got to be kidding! Giving that funny looking Pokey-cat-- or whatever you called him-- a room of his own? You do the strangest things!"

Tabby's eyes were alight with fire. "I suppose you'll whine and cry until I hand it over to you."

"I don't see that you have a choice, cousin dear," smiled Tamara provokingly.

While Tabby glowered, Tamara instructed, "You take that small beige suitcase. It has all my make-up and fashion accessories in it."

Tabby unwillingly went for the suitcase-- which actually wasn't very small-- and could barely lift it off the ground. "I am not taking that in," she said stubbornly.

"Tabby!" Tamara giggled. "Not very strong, are you?" She effortlessly lifted the beige suitcase. "I wish Tex was still here."

I hope she doesn't find out I can barely open doors to the shops downtown, Tabby sighed to herself.

"You've got to help me," Tamara coaxed as she made her way up the stairs. "Now, where's my room?"

She peered into rooms one-by-one in the upstairs hallway; most of them were filled with eighties' toys. Finally, she came across a finely-furnished one: dresser, desk, bed, and a big closet. Tarquin lay sleeping peacefully upon the bed-sheets.

"Scram!" Tamara ordered, pushing Tarquin onto the floor. "I don't want a freak like you in my room."

Tarquin was instantly on the alert once his paws touched the ground. He held his claws up, ready for attack. "What do you mean, your room?" he growled.

"It's mine now," Tamara said simply.

The only thing that saved Tamara from painful scratches across her face was her quick reaction. Once Tarquin jumped at her, she swiftly held up the suitcase she was carrying as a shield. Tarquin's claws ripped through the canvas.

"Look what you've done!" Tamara shrieked. "What if you've damaged what's inside?!"

"And that's the least I can do. You haven't seen the last of me yet." Tarquin said coolly as he went in search of Tabby.

Tabby was fuming in the living room. She had no intention of helping Tamara pack her stuff in. "I wish she hadn't come," she whispered to herself for the millionth time.

She nearly jumped to the ceiling as the telephone began to jangle. Tabby tensely picked the receiver up. "Hello?" she said tersely. "If you want to talk to Tamara, she's upstairs right now--"

"Tabby? You need more life in that voice," Tiffany urged. "Now, Tamara's voice, for instance--"

"What do you want, Tiffany?" Tabby snapped.

"Hmm, not in the best of humor tonight, are you? I have to talk to Tamara. Can you get her for me?"

Wordlessly, Tabby set the receiver down on the desk, and that's when Tarquin came in.

"She's taking over my room," he hissed.

"I know," Tabby said venomously. "But we're gonna have to wait until she moves out." Scooping Tarquin up, she ran up the stairs. "There's someone on the phone for you, Tamara!" she shouted at her cousin, who was arranging her make-up on top of the dresser. Then Tabby dashed into her own room and locked the door behind her, dropping Tarquin in a chair.

"This Tamara is even worse than the old Persians," Tarquin muttered. "How long ‘till she'll be gone? I want my room!"

Tabby paced back and forth. "She hasn't even been here a day, so she hasn't found a house yet. Who knows how long it'll take her to decide on a place?"

"A day with her is bad enough," Tarquin groaned.

"I know," Tabby agreed. "I don't think there's a thing we can do to get rid of her quicker."

"And even when she does move out, she'll still be in the same town," Tarquin sighed.

"She takes everything I do as a joke," Tabby mumbled. "Wait'll she finds out I'm nurse at the Pokèmon Center. She'll really rip into me then! She won't get any information out of me, though!"

The two ranted and raved long into the night, but finally managed to get some sleep.

* * *

Tabby leapt out of bed the next morning and cheerily hummed the Pokèmon theme song while combing her mane and tail. Then it hit her-- Tamara was staying at her house.

The humming abruptly stopped at that recollection. "And I'll be late to the center on top of it all," she muttered, looking at her clock. It was nine-thirty, and she should have been there by eight. Hopefully Merry Treat was volunteering today.

"Tarquin! It's late! We gotta get going!" Tabby roused her Pokèmon.

"I suppose Tamara wasn't a bad dream?" Tarquin said hopefully, after stretching.

"Unfortunately, no." Tabby picked up a paper that was stuck under the door. It read:


I was going to wake you up, but your door was locked, and you wouldn't respond to knocking. I got my suitcases in last night; you won't have to worry about them cluttering up your porch. I've gone out to see all the stores in Dream Valley, and then I'm invited to a little party at the Royal Paradise this evening-- that's what Tiffany called me about last night. I'm surprised you weren't invited, too, being a friend and all.



Tabby crumpled up the note. "Let's get to the center," she said to Tarquin simply.

* * *

Tamara stared around in giddy excitement. The dinner party was in full swing, and all the princesses had more-or-less forgotten about their dates. They wanted to hear all about Tamara instead.

"Yes, I'll have this huge building built for showing cats," Tamara said dramatically. "We have to get more ponies in this town into show-cats." All the princesses nodded, impressed.

"Then I'll breed show-cats to sell," Tamara continued.

"How much does one sell for?" Dawn questioned eagerly.

"Oh, about three thousand jangles," Tamara said nonchalantly.

Dawn squealed. "What a great price! I'll have to get one from you!"

"Your Bombay is one of the finest I've ever seen, Tiffany," Tamara said.

Tiffany looked cocky. "I always knew she was special."

"What's Tabby working at now, anyway?" Tamara asked suddenly. "I haven't been able to find out from her yet."

"She's a nurse at the Pokèmon Center," Royal Blue supplied.

"So she's that into Pokèmon? Wait'll she sees what I bring home tonight!" Tamara giggled. "What became of that little clinic she started years ago?"

The princesses and Tamara were in their element when gossiping.

"You see, it went under a while back," Pristina explained.

"That only happened because Thomas moved in and started the new clinic," Sparkle added.

"She didn't work much at the old one, anyway," Dawn supplied. "She's gotten a lot more responsible with her job since switching to the center."

"So, is that when she started at that center thing?" Tamara prodded.

"Not exactly," Tiffany explained. "She worked for Thomas at his clinic for several months."

"Did she get fired?" Tamara asked excitedly.

"No," Tiffany said, taking over the conversation.

"Oh," Tamara sighed. Getting fired would have been so... exciting.

"The Pokèmon craze started, and then the center was built here, and then Tabby actually quit to be the Pokèmon nurse," Tiffany want on.

"Though some Pokèmon are okay--" Tamara stared down at the carrier stashed under the table. "--I wouldn't have quit working with normal animals and switched to Pokèmon." But actually, she was grinning happily. If she couldn't get any information out of Tabby herself, this was her next best source.

"She doesn't seem to think much of Tex..." Tamara glanced around at the guys, who looked like they were discussing football or baseball or something. "...but is she seeing anyone?"

Yawning, Dawn replied, "Oh, you mean she didn't comment on that yet?"

Tiffany rolled her eyes. "Of course she's seeing Thomas, Tamara. Everyone in Dream Valley knows it, but Tabby positively refuses to admit it."

Tamara sat back in her chair, satisfied. She still had a million things to find out, though. The questions continued: "What's her salary?" "What did she used to make at her previous jobs?" "Why ever does she keep up with her My Little People collection?" "Doesn't she have any interest in fashion at all?" And so on. The royalty were only too happy to answer everything.

Around eight-thirty, Tiffany abruptly stood up. "Tamara, we'd like to present you with something," she declared. "Sparkle, get the... thing."

Sparkle obediently ran out of the room, and returned holding something behind her back.

Tiffany took the mysterious object from Sparkle. "Tamara, I and all the other princesses would... well, we'd like to make you an honorary princess!" With a flourish, Tiffany revealed the object: a sparkly yellow damsel hat.

"Oh, you princesses are just too nice!" Tamara exclaimed gleefully. "I'd simply love to be one of you!"

With that, the hat was placed upon Tamara's head. Everyone present clapped, but Tex more loudly than them all.

* * *

Tabby had kept inside her house all afternoon and evening after getting back from work. She simply didn't want to go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe with the current Tamara dilemma.

She was trying to watch My Little People shows again, but her mind couldn't stay on them. Why-oh-why did Tamara have to come? But at least she felt like she was doing something with the tape running.

Tabby automatically answered the phone this time when it rang. "Tamara's not here; you can either leave a message or hang-up--" And for whatever strange reason, the names of the three mythical bird Pokèmon were running through her mind at that moment. Articuno, Moltrass, Zapdoss, she mentally figured.

"Tabby!" Thomas laughed. "Don't bother with a message for Tamara."

"You mean, it's actually a call for me?" Tabby said brightly. "You can't imagine how many calls for Tamara there've been tonight. And I can now name all three mythical bird Pokèmon!"

"Obviously valuable information," Thomas agreed. In a gentler tone, he added, "Just don't let your cousin get to you."

"But she's evil!" Tabby shrieked, forgetting her train of thought on bird Pokèmon.

"Don't go quite that far with your judgement," Thomas interjected.

"But she's taken over Tarquin's room!" Tabby ranted. "And associates with Tex. I mean, she doesn't even like Tarquin, for Pete's sake!"

"She'll move out soon enough," Thomas suggested.

"It's a disaster!" With that, Tabby threw her hooves up in despair, dropping the receiver to the ground.

"Tabby? Is that a call for me?" Tamara entered the room and began to pick up the receiver. "Tsk, tsk. It's bad form to go around dropping the phone like that." Into the phone she said, "This is Tamara speaking. Are you interested in buying a fine show-cat from me? I'm--"

"Tamara!" Tabby hissed, but Tamara ignored the warning. "Oh! You were talking to Tabby! Sorry about that! But really, are you sure you don't want one of my show-cats?"

"For Pete's sake!" Tabby shrieked. "Give it back to me!"

"Mmm hmm," Tamara continued with the conversation. "I do have something to show her right now, so you'll have to talk to her another time. Remember to call me if you change your mind on getting a cat. Tah-tah!" With that, she gracefully placed the receiver back on the hook.

Tabby gaped for several seconds, but then her expression turned to one of rage. "How dare you do that?!" she seethed.

"It couldn't have been anything important," Tamara said nonchalantly. "Now, come on. I have something to show you out in the hallway."

"What did you bring home tonight? Everything you were having shipped out?" Tabby said sarcastically.

"Of course not," Tamara giggled. "You might even like it this time." She grabbed Tabby's hoof and pulled her out into the hallway. "Look, it's in there." Tamara pointed at a cat-carrier on the floor.

"I suppose it's one of your snobby show-cats," Tabby sniffed.

"Close," Tamara said in delight, unlatching the carrier door. A sleek white cat emerged... with a round red jewel on her forehead!

"It's a Persian!" Tabby gasped. "You bought a Pokèmon?"

"Not quite," Tamara explained. "I ran into Clever Clover this afternoon-- another of your friends, I guess-- and he started telling me about Pokèmon and showed me some of his."

"He never shows them to me," Tabby said dejectedly.

"I didn't particularly care for any of them," Tamara continued, "until he brought out the Persian he had just caught. It was love at first sight."

With Cleve Clove or with Persian? Tabby thought idly. Hmm, but she can even pronounce Pokèmon correctly now.

"When he saw how much I liked it, he decided to give to me as a gift since I'm new to the area." She giggled. "He gave me the PokèBall, too, but I wouldn't dream of making this beauty stay inside one of those little things."

The Persian Pokèmon surveyed her surroundings. "Per-r-rsian," she said, glancing snobbishly at Tabby.

"Just be sure she doesn't get out of the carrier," Tabby declared, turning to walk out of the area.

"Tabby! You let Tarquin roam freely. I don't want anything less for my Persian." Tamara stroked the Persian fondly.

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Tarquin immediately appeared on the scene with his claws unsheathed. "You've gone too far, Tamara!"

Persian nonchalantly unsheathed her own claws. "Per-r-rsian," she said in a warning tone.

"Those claws look sharp, Tarquin!" Tabby exclaimed.

"Just defending her territory," Tamara laughed.

" ‘Her' territory?" Tarquin seethed. "Who was the first Pokèmon here? Me!"

Persian took a swipe at Tarquin when he was off guard, but luckily missed his fur. That was enough for Tarquin, though. He jumped onto Tabby's back. "I remember how vicious those Persians can be," he muttered to Tabby.

"And did you see this?" Tamara giggled, pointing to her damsel hat perched atop her head.

"So?" Tabby snapped. "Is there anything special about it?"

"The princesses declared me an honorary princess tonight!" Tamara exclaimed. "Princess Tamara sounds lovely, doesn't it?"

Her eyes flashing with anger, Tabby retorted, "Just remember that you're the thirteenth princess, Tamara!" With that, she and Tarquin fled upstairs.

* * *

The next day, Tabby had gotten to the Pokèmon Center on time. She'd just finished dressing a wound on an Eevee. There wasn't anyone else waiting, so she sat down at the computer.

"I found this really cool auction on eBay last night," Tabby commented to Merry Treat, who was staring blankly over the main desk.

"Hmmm?" Merry Treat mumbled.

Daydreaming about Salty, Tabby figured. "It's this huge lot of--"

The doors burst open at that moment. In walked Tamara and Tex.

Drat, she found out where I worked, Tabby groaned to herself.

Merry Treat was on the alert immediately with customers to attend to. "Yes! What can I do for you? Or do you want a badge over at the gym?"

"We were just stopping in to see Tabby," Tamara explained sweetly. "To ask her opinion on my make-up, you see. It's an interesting place you work at."

"A lot more ‘interesting' than showing cats!" Tabby retorted.

"Does it get very boring here?" Tamara prodded. She shuddered. "I'd be so scared working on some of the Pokèmon Clever Clover told me about... like that Catterslice."

"Catterpie," Tabby scowled. "Say it right."

"So, what do you think of my make-up today?" Tamara questioned. "It's very expensive stuff; I doubt you could afford any."

"You're more beautiful than Tabby ever was," Tex complimented her, who had been silent up until this point.

Merry Treat rolled her eyes. "Tex, they're both exactly identical."

"Tsk, tsk." Tamara shook her head. "Don't forget the eyes. And I didn't think you'd comment on my make-up, anyway, Tabby. Tah-tah!" she called as they turned to leave. "I'll be home around five, as I'm looking at houses today. Most of them are dreadfully low-class, though."

Tabby clenched her jaw as she watched them go.

* * *

Tabby arrived home at four-thirty. "I suppose we'd better go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight," she sighed to Tarquin. "Unfortunately, Tamara and Tex are sure to be there as well."

"Let's find my yarn-ball first," Tarquin suggested. "I think I lost it in my room." He scowled. "Or Tamara's room."

"Where's Persian?" Tabby asked suspiciously.

"Napping in a sunbeam in the kitchen-- the one I always used." He glowered. "You can help me find the ball."

So, the two entered Tarquin's old room. Now there were clothes and fashion accessories all over the place. "Start digging," Tabby sighed.

Tabby sifted through the make-up containers on the desk while Tarquin rummaged around in the closet. Now, how in the world would a yarn-ball be hidden within make-up bottles? she pondered to herself, so she turned her attention under the desk. Hmm, there was something under there. Her hoof extracted a small book.

Tabby skimmed through a few pages, as it didn't have any title on it. It's Tamara's diary! she realized. Hmm, might as well read a little from it while it's here. She simply couldn't resist. She flipped to the entry from the previous day:

I do wish Tabitha and I could get along-- I thought that bringing Persian home might help, with her being into Pokèmon and all. But I just can't stop being snobby about everything... the same way she can't stop being snippy. I don't t hink we ever had a conversation in our entire lives that didn't end up as an argument -- except for that one summer afternoon when we were nine. Tabitha and I we re playing in the park, and found a friendly stray cat. We played with that cat all afternoon (though I have to admit, it definitely wasn't show-cat class). We never saw the cat again, but I'll never forget how happy we were with each other that one day. If only it could be like that now.

Hmm hmm, so she wants to be friends, does she? Tabby grinned mischievously to herself. It was about time--

"Found it!" Tarquin cried out triumphantly. "Behind the bed; I remember batting it back there."

Tabby abruptly closed the book and ended her train of thought. Placing the diary back underneath the desk, she declared, "That's good, now let's--"

At that instant, Tamara trotted in. "Why, hello there, Tabby!" she said brightly.

"Uh-oh," Tarquin murmured and dashed into the hallway as quickly as he could, then went to find a hiding place that was away from both Tamara and Persian.

"Was that Tarquin just in my room?" Tamara demanded. "In fact, what are you doing in here?"

"We had just been hunting for Tarquin's yarn-ball," Tabby informed her loftily, though inside she felt like laughing.

"That's just as well," Tamara said, unusually cheerful for talking to Tabby. That was because she swiftly pushed her cousin into the chair in front of the desk-- which, of course, displayed her make-up.

"What?!" Tabby cried out in genuine alarm. Make-up scared her terribly.

"We are going to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight, aren't we?" Tamara questioned.

Tabby gulped. "What does that have to do with... that stuff?" She waved a hoof over the bottles.

Tamara laughed. "Don't sound so negative. Of course you'll need make-up if Thomas is going to be there as well." She hunted through her supplies.

"And just how'd you find out about that?" Tabby demanded.

"Word gets around," Tamara said breezily.

Tabby winked into the mirror; a wink that Tamara didn't catch. She'd have a bit of fun before giving it up... "And that translates into meaning that the princesses told you everything about my life," she sighed dramatically.

"Well-- no-- I didn't say that--" Tamara stuttered.

"But that's what it boils down to," Tabby said menacingly.

"Of course you can't be mad at me, though," Tamara said briskly.

Tabby held up her head defiantly. "That's what you think!"

"We did get to talking at that dinner party, and..." Tamara confessed.

Tabby attempted to keep her mouth in a straight line for a moment longer... she couldn't talk for fear of... "Woohahahah!" she burst out laughing. "Tamara, did you think I could be mad at your forever?"

"Actually, that's what I was beginning to..." Tamara started, slightly stunned by Tabby's sudden change in behavior.

"You don't know my policy, then, do you?" Tabby gasped out between fits of giggling. "I'm only mad at someone for a certain amount of time... then I just give it up." She might even prove a valuable ally in future schemes, Tabby added as a mental side-note to herself.

"I've never heard of anyone with that policy before," Tamara stuttered.

"Hmm? You haven't, have you? Just get that stuff away from me and I'll act civil towards you... maybe even friendly!" Tittering uncontrollably, she wrenched the tube of lipstick from Tamara's grasp.

"You just smudged what I'd applied!" Tamara gasped. "Tabby! Tabby, where'd you go? I'm not done fixing you up yet!" In the meantime, Tabby had shot off down the hallway. Tamara ran after with the tube and a Kleenex.

Tabby had just reached the bathroom and was drenching her face with water to get the make-up off. "You've ruined my best job yet!" Tamara wailed.

"You'll get over it, cousin dear," Tabby assured her with an insane grin.

"Do you really mean you'll tolerate me now?" Tamara questioned hopefully. "I really did want to be friends... I don't mean to be that snobby..."

"Remember my policy; I'm only mad at someone for a certain amount of time!" Tabby declared gleefully.

"What about Tex? He told me you haven't been civil to him since sixth grade."

"Didn't I ever tell you?" Tabby demanded. "That's the year he put worms in my lunch box! An unforgivable sin!"

"No!" Tamara gasped. "He wouldn't have done that!"

"But it's true!" Tabby pushed past Tamara and dashed downstairs. "Hurry up! We have to get to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe!"

Tamara ran after Tabby, still with the lipstick tube clutched in her hoof. "Wait! At least let me put this on you!"

"Ha! We'll just see if you can!" Tabby cackled as the chase continued into the dark night.

"You can't go make-up-less!" Tamara shrieked. "It's just... terrible!"

Their shouts could be heard throughout the streets of Dream Valley, but at least they were friends now.

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