The Land of Nod
written by Tabby

"Tabby, it's just not possible for me to get out and buy items for Baby Noddins' birthday except on weekends, which is when she's home all day, so would you mind watching over her for me tomorrow afternoon?"

Such was the request made of Tabby by Frostflake, Baby Noddins' mother. Tabby, for her part, just dangled the phone receiver in the air for several moments before replying. "Baby-sit her tomorrow afternoon?"

"I would really appreciate it. You can't imagine how much I'd appreciate it," Frostflake said enthusiastically. "You'll do it, then?"

"Wait a sec--" Tabby started.

"I'm so grateful, Tabby," Frostflake went on. "I'll drop Baby Noddins off at your house at one, okay?"

"Eh, I was--"

"And I'll be back for her at four. I'm sure she'll have a great time with you," Frostflake finished before hanging up.

Tabby was only dimly aware of the dead ringing in the receiver as she stared blankly at the ground. "I have to baby-sit that nuisance for three hours tomorrow," she murmured to herself.

It had always amazed Tabby that even her arguing skills could not be beaten by that of a parent. There had been the time last spring when Firefly had convinced her to let Baby Firefly work at the Pokèmon Center on Take Your Daughter to Work Day; and some time later, Surprise's fast defense of her daughter which Tabby feel like a complete idiot even if Baby Surprise had been responsible for shoplifting a My Little People doll; and now this deal with Frostflake. Tabby sighed. She gave up.

However, all hope was not lost. Tabby soon regained her scheming nature and was immediately on the phone. "Sugarberry," she said coaxingly into the receiver, "would you mind helping me out tomorrow?"

"Why?" Sugarberry asked curiously. "Need some cartoon recorded for you?"

"No, it has to do with baby-sitting." Tabby twisted the phone cord around her hoof. "Frostflake just called and wants me to watch Baby Noddins for three hours."

"The poor mare could use a break from Baby Noddins' infernal flow of questions," Sugarberry said sympathetically.

"Well... let's see here... would you happen to mind doing it for me?"

"Oh, Tabby, I'm sure you'd have a much better time with Baby Noddins than anyone else. Besides, Frostflake did call you, didn't she?"

"Yes... but... that Baby Noddins is such a nuisance."

"I'm sure you can handle it, Tabby," Sugarberry said reassuringly. "But if you need any assistance, let me know."

Tabby muttered as she hung up the phone. That hadn't been as easy as she thought it would be. She'd have to try her other sources.

As it turned out, Tamara seemed to remember an important meeting with another show-cat breeder on Saturday; Merry Treat's time would be consumed by repainting the Pokèmon Gym; Tiffany would not be bothered with the "affairs of peasants" that day; and Chocolate Chip had an important exam to study for. They all knew what Baby Noddins was like.

But one o' clock of the next day finally came around, and Baby Noddins was successfully dropped off at Tabby's house. "Oh, Tabby, me gets to spend the whole day with you!" Baby Noddins squealed, running into the house first thing. "I just simply idolize you."

"Remember, I'll be back at four," Frostflake said cheerfully to Tabby-- who was currently petrified with fear-- before departing to do her errands. "Baby Noddins, dear, behave yourself!"

"I always behave myself," Baby Noddins boasted, waving to her mother. "Bye, Mommy! You gettin' me something for my birthday? Whatcha gettin' me, huh? And--"

Tabby pulled Baby Noddins back in by grabbing her around the neck and clamping a hoof over her mouth. "What in the world am I going to do with you for three hours?" she sighed.

"Can I see your My Little People?" Baby Noddins asked eagerly, squirming free from Tabby's grip. "You've got lots, don't you? You've collected ‘em for a long time, haven't you? And you've got all the mail-order ones, right?"

"You will not be permitted to see my collection," Tabby said crisply. "Baby ponies are prone to destroy such things."

"Oh, I know," Baby Noddins nodded in agreement. "Like Baby Falling Leaves. I was playin' with her yesterday, and she got marker all over the nice Cynthia doll you got me for Christmas. I was gonna stop her, but no, she had to go ahead and get the marker out. I don't like her, Tabby."

"The Cynthia doll I got you is destroyed already?!" Tabby shrieked.

Baby Noddins looked sorrowful. "Yes. Only because of Baby Falling Leaves. But I do not do such things, Tabby."

"Baby Noddins, is there anything you want to do besides see my My Little People?"

"Oh, I want to gossip. Will you gossip with me? I just love gossipin'."

Tabby clenched her jaw as Baby Noddins made herself at home in her living room. Still, gossiping would be more undestructive than showing off her My Little People.

"First, I would like to gossip about Baby Falling Leaves," Baby Noddins declared, bouncing up and down on the sofa. "I don't like her."

"You don't say. Why not?"

"She's boring," Baby Noddins said venomously. "She always does borin' stuff, like building borin' forts out of snow. No exciting stuff. And she gets markers on my toys."

"As you mentioned before," Tabby murmured.

"She always wants to do something outside," Baby Noddins prattled. "But it's so cold outside. I don't like goin' outside all the time like she does. I like doing interviews. Can I interview you, Tabby?"

"Certainly. Ask away," Tabby sighed.

" ‘Kay," Baby Noddins said. "Lemme think. Okay. Who is your bestest friend."

"Sugarberry, I suppose."

"Oh. I guess mine is Baby Fallin' Leaves, but I don't like her. I'm your favorite baby pony, though, right?"

"I dislike all baby ponies, Baby Noddins. I can't have a favorite."

"I must be your favorite. You like me bestest, don't you? ‘Cause I like you."

"Wasn't this an interview?"

"Oh, yes. I was taking notes. I was taking notes in my head by talking. Anyway. What do you do for a living?"

"I'm the Pokèmon nurse, Baby Noddins."

"Okay. Do you work at the Pokèmon Center?"

"Yes, Baby Noddins."

"Just gettin' all the details," Baby Noddins explained. "Where did you used to work?"

"Baby Noddins, you already know all this, don't you?"

"Yes, but I need it for my interview. It is very important."

"Would you like a summary of my entire life, then?"

"Yes, please."

"Forget I said that, okay?"

"I'm starvin', Tabby," Baby Noddins complained.

"Your mother didn't say anything about feeding you," Tabby snapped, getting up from her seat.

"Wait, no, I'm thirsty," Baby Noddins corrected herself. "May I have something to drink, Tabby?"

"How about a delightful glass of water?" Tabby suggested.

"That sounds very nice," Baby Noddins said seriously.

A few moments later, Baby Noddins was seated at the kitchen table with a glass of water in her hooves, courtesy of Tabby. "You've already wasted a whole half hour with your talking," the pink unicorn commented cheerfully.

"Ooh, really? That sounds impressive, whatever it means," Baby Noddins breathed.

Tabby raised an eyebrow. "Tell me, Baby Noddins, why do you ‘idolize' me so? It's annoying."

"Oh, because you are so kind and honorable," Baby Noddins said earnestly.

"Nobody else thinks that," Tabby pointed out. "Why do you?"

"And you have a Furby, too," Baby Noddins continued.

"Ah! A Furby makes me kind and honorable?"

"Yes. May I see your Furby, Tabby?"

"He's not working, Baby Noddins."

"What's his name? What's he look like? Or is he a girl? I got a Furby, too. I love ‘im."

"Ah-Loh is kept in a special place that isn't open to visitors," Tabby said briskly.

"Oh! He's too sick to have visitors?" Baby Noddins asked.

"Something like that," Tabby said quickly. If it would keep Baby Noddins away from him, she'd play along with it.

"My Furby's name is Waylo," Baby Noddins prattled on. "I think that's what it is, anyway. What's ‘waylo' mean, Tabby?"

"It's the Furbish term for ‘sleep'," Tabby said without missing a beat.

"Oh. He sleeps a lot, so it makes sense. He's real pretty, Tabby."

"What does he look like?"

"Oh, he's lavender n' pink n' aqua. I think he's real pretty. My brother doesn't like him, though."

"That's probably because Furbys are so much more intelligent than he is."

"You think so? Cool! I'll tell him you said that when I get home, ‘kay?"

"Fine with me."

"Do you really think Furbys are really alive, Tabby?"

"Of course. It's--"

"Oops, Tabby," Baby Noddins interrupted. "I think I spilled my glass."

Tabby just stared venomously at Baby Noddins as the remainder of her water oozed across the table's surface and cascaded over the edge. "Baby Noddins..." she hissed.

"I spill things all the time at home," Baby Noddins prattled on. "My mommy's used to it, though. Will you clean it up for me?"

"No, I will not," Tabby snapped. "Get some paper towels and do it yourself."

" ‘Kay. Where are those? Will a napkin work instead?"

Tabby sighed as she thrust a pile of paper towels at her charge. "Here. Get to it."

Baby Noddins nonchalantly pushed one paper towel across the table. "It's all wet now, Tabby. Am I done?"

Tabby wordlessly grabbed the towels from Baby Noddins, seeing that it would be faster to do it herself. Baby Noddins watched in awe as Tabby, fuming, had the mess cleaned up in a matter of moments. "Ooh, you work fast when you're mad, Tabby."

"Thanks for the compliment," Tabby muttered.

And so the afternoon went on. Baby Noddins seemed satisfied to simply keep talking and not pry into Tabby's possessions. Tabby, after listening to the constant stream of words, was not sure which of the two evils she would prefer.

"Tabby, you ever gonna get married?" Baby Noddins asked cheerfully at one point.

"Why do you care, twerp?" Tabby snapped.

"Oh, I am just looking out for my friends. I must make sure they all get married."

"How thoughtful of you," Tabby said sarcastically.

"I know. I only want the best for my friends. I'm gonna marry someone with a last name," Baby Noddins explained.

"Fascinating. You still want a last name?"

"Oh, yes, I need a last name like you. How'll I find someone with a last name to fall in love with me?"

Tabby sighed. What had she gotten herself into? "Perhaps he will just drop out of the sky one day."

"Ooh, really? Fun!" Baby Noddins squealed. "When will he drop out of the sky?"

"I don't know, Baby Noddins. Just be quiet for once."

"Oh, okay. Tabby, what'll happen if you marry somebody with a different last name? Does Thomas have a last name?"

"Baby Noddins, stop this obsession with last names."

"Will my Furby have a last name when I'm married to someone with a last name?"

"Ask Waylo yourself."

"He'll know? Okay. Does Ah-Loh have a last name?"

"Not that I know of, Baby Noddins."

"Have you asked him?"

"I never thought of doing so."

"I'm gonna ask Waylo as soon as I get home."

"Baby Noddins, do you want to do anything besides talk for three hours straight?"

"Will you tell me a story, Tabby?"

"Will you be quiet if I do?"

"I think so. Maybe. Tell me about Atlantis. You were in Atlantis, weren't you? What is it?"

"You want to hear about Atlantis?" A slight smile crossed Tabby's face and her eyes gleamed.

"Yes, please. Can I sit in your lap?" Without waiting for an answer, Baby Noddins crawled up into Tabby's chair. " ‘Kay. You can start now."

Tabby winced at having a baby pony sitting contentedly in her lap, but began her tale of Atlantis anyway. "Now, it all started on the fateful day when Sugarberry and I made Clever Clover clean out his house. Fascinatingly enough, he discovered that he had the key to Atlantis buried in his junk drawer..."

Surprisingly, Baby Noddins kept her mouth shut as Tabby continued on. As the end of the story drew near, Tabby was pleasantly surprised to look down and see that Baby Noddins had fallen asleep. She wasn't really concerned over wondering if Baby Noddins had fallen asleep because she was a boring storyteller or not; she was just glad to have her quiet.

Tabby quickly finished the tale. "And then Clever Clover and I turned the guy into a whale like he'd demanded, and then we made a run for it..."

It was at that moment that the doorbell rang, and Baby Noddins was immediately back on her hooves. "Tabby, Tabby!" she yelped, slipping down onto the ground. "The doorbell! Get it!"

"You didn't say a word in there for a whole fifteen minutes," Tabby commented, heading to the door.

"Were you really in Atlantis, Tabby? Did all that really happen? It sounds cool. Is Mommy at the door? Does she got presents for me, huh?" Baby Noddins asked expectantly.

"You were better when you were asleep," Tabby sighed. "Oh, Frostflake, it's you!"

"Hello, Tabby," Frostflake said cheerfully, stepping into the hallway. "Baby Noddins! How are you? Did you have a good time?"

"MWOMMY!" Baby Noddins shouted, streaking towards her mother. "Did you get presents for me?! Huh?!"

"They'll wait for your birthday, dear." Frostflake embraced her daughter. "Did you have a good time with Tabby?"

"Yes," Baby Noddins said solemnly. "She didn't yell at me as much as you do."

"Certainly," Tabby said under her breath. Where did Baby Noddins get all this confidence in her, anyway?

"Wonderful, Baby Noddins," Frostflake smiled. "Tabby, you really did a great job. I'll be sure to call you next time I need a baby-sitter."

"Eh... um... whatever..." Tabby trailed off.

"Come along, Baby Noddins. It's time to get home," Frostflake prodded. "Say goodbye to Tabby."

"Gwoodbye, Tabby!" Baby Noddins called merrily as she skipped down the porch steps. "I will call you later!"

"Oh, goodbye," Tabby sighed in relief as the two disappeared out of sight. "I actually survived three hours with the nuisance! I can't believe I lived through it. Sugarberry'll never believe it!" She grinned as she ran across her yard to Sugarberry's door. What a story she'd have to tell.

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