Work Header

How To Care For Your Paint Creature: A Step-by-Step Guide

Work Text:

The new little creatures of the Sekai are a strange occurrence, fascinating and mysterious. But Ena usually finds hers frustrating.

Enanan continues to follow her around like she wants something, tugging on Ena’s sketchbook (and staining the edges of the pages black) or her clothes (briefly staining them black as well). But it never tells her what it wants.

So Ena decides to observe Enanan and learn a little more.

Step One- Provide proper engagement

Paint creatures require just as much stimulation as any other sentient creature, and will constantly seek it out when possible. They often enjoy drawing, so providing them with surfaces where they can permanently leave marks is ideal. They are also social, but need their own space sometimes. Giving them companions that respect their personal time will help with that.

One of the first things Ena learns is that Enanan likes to steal Miku’s coloring books. When the quiet Virtual Singer leaves them unattended or simply isn’t paying attention, if Enanan is nearby, she’ll grab an entire book (despite it being nearly as big as her and much wider) and scurry off with it as fast as her tiny legs can carry her.

When Ena finds the books returned later, some of the pages will be colored in messily with thick layers of paint, in all sorts of colors, but all of them dark. While Enanan seems capable of painting in colors other than black, she’s not able to make them bright. Sometimes she leaves little blobby doodles in the margins of the pages too.

Miku never seems upset about her books being colored in by someone else, and Ena is sure she knows it’s Enanan. No one else can do anything like that, after all.

Ena buys small sketchbook (one she hopes will be easier for the paint creature to carry) and a few new coloring books (some for Enanan, a couple to replace the ones Miku couldn’t fill because of Enanan), and delivers them to the Sekai one day.

Enanan gives her the happiest look something with no facial features excerpt eyes can when it gets the gifts. It immediately opens the sketchbook and writes on the first page, “Thank you, Ena! (╹◡╹)”

She smiles back. “You’re welcome.”

And then she realizes she never told Enanan her name. At least she manages not to scream this time.

Once Enanan has the sketchbook, Ena sees her with the other avatars more often. She likes to sit near the others and draw… unless it’s Amia. Much like Ena’s own frustration as Mizuki’s endless teasing, Enanan seems to get annoyed at Amia’s attention.

The tiny angel likes to pester the paint creature, trying to peek at the sketchbook, nudging her hands so she smudges something, or even on one lucky occasion, managing to snatch the sketchbook altogether and fly off with it (luckily, Luka was able to chase them down and return it to Enanan before she got too upset). She’s not bad at scaring them off, whether it’s with a sharp glare or flicking a bit of paint at them, but they’re persistent and keep coming back anyway.

It doesn’t seem like Enanan entirely hates Amia, though. It’s more like it just doesn’t have the patience for them.

But it gets along fine with Yuki and K.

Yuki likes to watch her draw, but she always seems to ask first. Ena isn’t sure exactly what the ghost is saying, since she’s very quiet and Ena isn’t close enough to hear. Enanan doesn’t mind though, unlike when Amia tries to watch.

She’s even seen Enanan attempt to lend the sketchbook to Yuki, but Yuki can’t draw without a tool… so once again, Enanan turns to stealing things. Just crayons though, and most often a purple one, for Yuki to draw with (if her hands can get a grip on it, which isn’t always guaranteed), and they’re always returned when she’s tired of it.

K and Enanan have a less active relationship, but they’re not an uncommon pair to be seen together either. They tend to give each other space, but enjoy being near each other. K might be clicking through notes making a new song while Enanan doodles away, and one might give the other advice in some unspoken way. Ena doesn’t understand it, but the two communicate somehow.

The only point of conflict between the two only arises if K’s key is running out. As they quickly learned, the toy couldn’t reach her key to peel the paint off, so if the paint creature tried to wind her up again, she’d be stuck with it until someone else could clean her. So she flinches away if it tries to help her with rewinding, even if the intentions are well-meaning.

Enanan seems to like the Virtual Singers too. While she interacts with them the least, Ena has caught her attempting to draw them in her sketchbook and then show them the results. Or just show them whatever she’s drawn most recently.

There’s plenty of time Enanan spends alone, though. Napping in hidden little corners of the Sekai that no one would look, wandering around with her books until she decides to sit down somewhere and draw or color without anyone around, all sorts of things like that. Ena usually leaves her alone during those times.

Step Two- Work on communication

Paint creatures do not speak, but they have their own methods of communication. Learning to understand this is essential to developing a healthy relationship with them. Each individual may have slightly unique differences in it, but they typically express through color and eye shape. Reading these subtle changes will help you understand how they feel and what they want you to know.

Ena starts to pay more attention to what Enanan does when interacting with the others. She already could tell it communicated partially through expression, eyes changing with anything it wants to show. If she had to guess, it mimics human ones. It has nothing else to learn from, after all, and she’s always drawn it with that in mind. And the more she watches, the more she’s sure that’s what happens.

Enanan’s eyes are even more expressive than the average person’s, but she doesn’t have anything else to express with besides body language. Even with those hollow eyes, there’s a lot to tell, and they nearly sparkle when she’s excited anyway.

But the more Ena watches, the more she notices something else changing. While Enanan is always iridescent, faintly shining with the rainbow over the inky black void of her body, the colors of her iridescence change subtly with her mood. When she’s excited, she’s a little more yellow. Angry, she’s red. Sad, she’s blue. So on and so forth, most of the colors she shifts more towards are pretty stereotypical.

It’s hard to notice outside of the right lighting, but Ena starts to pick up on it more easily. Even when she talks with Enanan directly, she watches how the colors shift, if and when she leans towards one more than the others.

As much as she should just enjoy the concept of her creations being brought to life, she’s still fascinated by the things that got changed when they appeared in the Sekai. It’s pretty cool, if a bit unnerving.

Even if she still doesn’t really understand Enanan. But she’s trying.

(At least it can write, as messy as that ends up being. That’s more than anyone can say for talking to Amia.)

Step Three- Treat them like a friend

While they may not be human, or even particularly humanlike, if you truly care for them, you shouldn’t act different with them than with anyone else close to you. They aren’t a pet in the normal sense, and are much more perceptive to being treated differently than others than they may immediately show. They prefer to be more of a companion and a friend, therefore I’m caring for one, you should act accordingly with them.

Despite Enanan’s often childish behavior, Ena begins to appreciate her presence more. The paint creature is surprisingly adaptive and creative, able to deal with a lot more than her tiny size and melty body would suggest. She’s also quite the sweetheart usually, happy to be around everyone and provide them with little bits of comfort and gifts whenever she can.

(Ena won’t admit it, but she’s started to keep a notebook with the drawings Enanan gives her. They’re messy, but kind of cute.)

It’s a little bit amazing to watch someone thrive so thoroughly in such an empty world. There’s no explanation for where it gets the ideas for its more abstract art, and it doesn’t explain them either, but it keeps on creating like there’s no problem with it. Even the other avatars and the Virtual Singers don’t seem to have her endless energy and ideas.

Sometimes, when Ena finds herself getting stuck on a new piece, she starts to look to Enanan and her art for inspiration. Sure, it’s all paint smeared onto paper like a child’s finger painting, but the concepts are often quite clear. If she really can’t understand, Enanan will scribble away on paper, writing out the stories behind the pieces she’s made. She’s actually quite good at explaining it. It makes her feel a little more like a friend than a creation, too.

Now she’s less bothered when Enanan comes strolling up to her to look at her artwork, less confused by its communication methods, less frustrated with the little paint creature overall. It’s proved itself to be a valuable companion, in all its strange little ways.

Things aren’t perfect, of course. But it’s better than it was, and that’s perfectly fine with Ena.

(One day, she gently scoops Enanan up to give it a little hug as a thank you, only to end up with some massive smears of paint across her face. She rushes to the bathroom the moment she’s home again to wash it all off, prompting an angry Akito to yell at her to stop taking so long in there. But it’s worth it nonetheless.)