I didn't even buy her... I never asked for her, I didn't pick her out, I didn't even pay for her! But she followed me home all the same.
So here's the story. I was starting up my sorority and had heard of an awesome LFS. Being the fish nerd I am, I whined at my friend until she agreed to go with me to get some fish to start my sorority. I planned on getting four... a good number to start with, right? I stared into the tank of females for the longest time and finally made my selections. The store was very busy, but finally an employee came over to net the fish into a bag for me and quickly ring me up so I could be on my way. It was storming really bad, so my friend and I dashed to the car and kept the bettas safely stowed away in the bag from the store so the lightning wouldn't freak them out too much.
When I arrived home, I eagerly looked in the bag to check on my girls again and discovered, to my great shock, that I had FIVE fish in the bag, not the four I had paid for! And one of them was really looking bad... she was absolutely colorless with badly ripped fins and a look in her eyes that pleaded for help. I frantically cleaned and sterilized some of the cups my pet store bettas had come in and got the girls separated before they killed each other in that tiny bag. Only then did I manage to get a better look at the extra fish. My little Tagalong.
She was absolutely tiny, smaller than my other girls, and she looked terrified. I knew right away she would have to be given special care, so I went out the next day and bought a hospital tank for her along with some stress coat. She wouldn't eat, she stayed striped for days, over a week, even. I was so worried something else was wrong, but she began accepting pellets after a day or two. I had to break them in half, mind you... she was very small. Color wasn't returning, but Tagalong's fins were healing up. One day, on a whim, I decided to hold a mirror up to her QT tank. Much to my surprise, she flared at her reflection and instantly darkened up! Her fins became red, her body became striped with vertical stripes! But when I took the mirror away, the color faded away within a few minutes.
I played with her with the mirror for a while, curious about it. Every time she saw her reflection, she darkened up instantly. I began to wonder... did she miss being among other fish? She had been so badly beaten up on the way home, I had assumed she would do better on her own... but had I been wrong? I bought a breeder box and put her in it in my ten gallon tank. Lo and behold, Tagalong colored up as her former tankmates swam around her breeder box, investigating! I knew she was going to be just fine, and I planned on releasing her a week later. Tagalong had different plans, though... I woke up one morning to find that she had jumped out of her breeder box and was swimming around in the big tank like it was no big thing.
I never would have guessed that my little Tagalong, the fish who chose me, would have ended up the queen of my sorority. But I think she had a mission when she snuck her way into that bag with the others. And I wouldn't trade her for the world.