“We should take part in the cookout!” Casper chimed, staring eagerly at the Flaaffy. His tail swayed side and side rapidly as he sat on all fours. The Flaaffy barely got his bearings around the tent before he turned at the Meowth, his orb illuminating the small space with its soft alien lime glow.
“I-I don't k-know,” the Flaaffy stammered, fluffing out a pillow. “W-We only just 7
“But the cookout is tonight! I doubt they’ll hold another tomorrow. Ol’ Luke is giving out a reward for folks who are helping out! It’ll look good for the both of us! Even Lapis here can pitch in!” He gestured towards the Squirtle. The Squirtle glanced up at her name only for her to stick her tongue out at the Meowth. She still doesn't like me, huh?
Theo risked a glance at the Squirtle who went back to humming after her small act of dislike. “B-But w-we’ll be out in public… With so many other ‘mons… What if something h-happens...,” the words tumbled out before he could stop them. He hadn't meant to voice his fears but it came out nonetheless, leaving silence in its wake.
“Silas isn't here,” Casper stated bluntly, naming a protector of the two. “You gotta be able to handle things yourself now. Especially with Lapis here. I'll be there to help but ya’ know…”
“I-I have to do things myself now…” At a young age, he was always looking after himself and no one else. Shifting his attention to the giggling child playing with the sand, he bit down on his lower lip nervously. Now he was not only responsible for himself but for Lapis as well. “I-I appreciate your help,” he murmured in thanks.
Casper’s mismatched eyes shimmered. “Course! I scratch your back and you scratch mine! We both helped each other in our bad times…,” he trailed off, his tail slowly its rapid wag as his face lowered. “I thought I would never… get outta that slump. And with her…,” he trailed off, ears drooping further than normal. Concerned, Theo moved but paused as his friend quickly perked up to his normal cheery self. “It's fine though! Like I said, we have each others back!” He exclaimed, paw reaching out.
With a light smile, Theo met him halfway, grasping his paw lightly. “We do… We’ll go. I'm not sure what I-I can do but it’ll be good for Lapis to learn more…” His eyes ventured to the spot the turtle was, she was no longer there. “Lapis?!”
In a panic, he bolted onto his hooves, stomping frantically. “Lapis!” In a flurry, he rushed out the tent, calling to the youngster. He could scarcely hear Casper telling him to calm down, that they’ll find her. He was beyond listening, running along several rows of tents for her possible location.
A tiny squeal had him skidding to a halt. Eyes wide with worry, he saw the Squirtle playing with a Sandshrew of her age in the middle of a row. Heart pounding against his chest, he made his way to her, relief apparent.
The Squirtle squealed, reaching eagerly for the Flaaffy as he scooped her up.
“Don't ever leave me, okay?!” His voice fervent with worry. She looked down with regret before pointing at the Sandshrew. “Is that your new friend?” He never seen the little guy before but the little shrew was attracted to his orb like countless others. “I wonder where your parents are…”
“Maybe they’re at the cookout,” Casper answered suddenly from the behind. Theo flinched with surprise, small sparks coming off his fleece. “Easy there. Let's bring the little guy with us. Maybe we’ll find ‘em there!”
“My baby!” A large Sandslash exclaimed, rushing towards the duo. She scooped up the shrew in her claws, holding him close. “I'm so glad I found you! And you two!” -she looked at the pair of them, eyes shimmering- “Thank you... The others thought you Explorer folk would be bad but you found my precious baby…”
“Finding things is our specialty! Even kids!” Casper was eager to say. “If ya’ have any other problems, be sure the Explores with help ya’ out, okay?”
“I will be sure to pass the word along and allow any Explorers help us rebuild. You have my gratitude.”
They watched the pair walk away to the pit, Theo’s own grip on Lapis’ hand tightening at the display of love.
“Is something wrong?” Casper asked, noticing the sudden tension in the Flaaffy’s posture.
“I-It’s nothing. Let's help out the best we can, o-okay?”
Casper nodded eagerly, asking to assist a nearby ‘mon with too many plates to handle by themselves. Theo was nervous but quick to follow suit with little Lapis holding onto his tail with a beaming smile on her face.
The duo helped as much as they could from carrying heavy platters to hungry ‘mons, to providing information about their guild and how they function. Words of praise and happy laughter from the satisfied Pokémon warmed the Flaaffy like no other.After the work was done, Theo settled around the fire pit with Lapis sitting beside him. They awaited for Casper to return with some well deserved sweets for their hard work. But the Meowth seemed preoccupied with others...