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 Solitary Setbacks

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PostSubject: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:16 am

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Cattail Marsh was not a pretty scene. It was hardly a tourist attraction and it was most assuredly not a popular hotspot. The air was muggy, humid and uncomfortable, the flatlands were mushy and heavy, and the waters that flooded the flatlands were rife with muck and grime, to say nothing of the many bug, poison, and water Pokemon that made their homes there. The dungeon itself was merely a passageway to the infinitely more deadly Misty Mire, harsher swamplands that were home to much more dangerous Pokemon. Cattail Marsh was the sort of dungeon you went to only if you had to go there for something.

Goro the Croagunk called it home. Croagunk themselves were not an uncommon sight in the swamplands, but ones that weren't feral certainly were. Goro himself made his home in the Marsh not because the conditions were particularly favorable, but because how little traffick the area saw. If anything could be said about Goro the Croagunk, then it would be that he valued his privacy. A mercenary by occupation and a hermit by nature, the Marsh was a natural sanctuary for him. After setting off on his own, he'd stumbled into the Marsh on his way to Rainfront Town, and had instantly fell in love with the desolate population and unpleasant environment.

Only one or two ferals been pokin' 'round here today. Good 'ta see they're learnin' their place. Goro liked to spend his time in the Marsh patrolling his territory, a stretch of swamp deep within the dungeon that he claimed for himself. There wasn't anything particularly special about his flatlands, other than an abandoned run-down shack perched up on a gloomy embankment of water. It was dour and damaged, with heavy cracks in the aged wood, empty windows and a missing door-- he loved it. Goro counted himself very fortunate to have found it, and immediately set about beating back any and all feral Pokemon in the area, establishing the area very firmly as his.

Which is what he was doing now. The Croagunk prowled through the swamplands back to his hovel with a satisfied air about him, having discovered only a few Pokemon still lingering in the area. They were learning quickly not to come anywhere near his residence, lest they find themselves on the wrong end of a harsh beating.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:56 pm

As the others gathered around her basket full of food, Darcy poked her head inside and took a second berry for herself, too.  She kept her eyes fixed on the ground while she ate, still feeling a little shy...  But with how brightly Alki was glowing with excitement and happiness, it was impossible for those feelings to stick around for long.  As she watched Alki smile, her eyes sparkling and her voice light and upbeat, Darcy couldn't help but smile back and feel warm inside.  The little Igglybuff had been so quiet and sensitive, once upon a time...  Seeing how much progress her sister had made honestly caused Darcy to feel a little choked up.  She didn't think anything could make her happier.

Alki's words gently brought the Skitty out of her reverie.  The Igglybuff was happy with the food, which was good.  It was nothing special, just the kind of food that guild members were given when they had to travel far away from town, so Darcy had been a little worried about that.  And...  Oh, Alki had picked up on the Skitty's shyness, too.  Her grin took on an air of sheepishness.  Had it been that obvious?

...Still, embarrassed as she was, her friend's words did help.  "Yeah.  I'm a normal-type too, so I'm sure you're right..." she said, giggling softly.  She stood up and took a few steps forward, settling prone against Alki's side and affectionately brushing her tail against the Igglybuff's back out of habit.  Flamethrower was beyond her, she was quite certain, but that didn't mean there weren't other useful techniques she could learn, if she could find the right training or items.  Even her current moves felt useful, even if none of them were very impressive, or good for fighting.

And of course, the same held true for Alki!  If she could learn something as shocking as Flamethrower, the sky seemed to be the limit for her.  Darcy had to stop herself from humming a song while she thought about it.  Given enough time, Alki would become a great explorer.  She was certain.

Speaking of which, Goro piped up, asking about their role at the guild.  It was too bad that he didn't have any plans in mind yet, but the Skitty was happy to just talk for now.  "Alki's an explorer too!" she said, nodding and giving him a smile.  "We live together at the guild in Grassveil Town.  We've been on the same team for a while.

"...We're...  Still just apprentices though, really..."
she continued, a trace of shyness returning to her posture and voice.  "Our team is still 'grey rank', which is the rank beginners start with.  So Faye...  I mean, the guildmaster, only lets us handle simple jobs that are close to town."

She looked up at Goro again, suddenly wearing a tiny frown.  "Honestly...  When I first saw you last night, I thought you must be some kind of outlaw, like the ones the other Pokemon at the guild have told me about.  Most Pokemon wouldn't want to live out here instead of in Rainfront Town, unless they had a reason for it..." she said.  "So...  My heart was absolutely pounding out of my chest.  I don't think I've ever been that scared in my life."

She looked down at the ground again.  "I don't want to feel that way again, you know?  Especially...  Umm, especially not if Alki is around.  That's why I was hoping you could teach us, a little.  Umm...  I think it would make me feel...  Safer."

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:43 am

Alki listened to the conversation unfold, too ashamed at her lack of knowledge to really pipe up for the moment. Still, it gave her time to think. First, about the books she'd been choosing to read. Fairy tales and children's stories were all fine, but she needed to read stuff that was fitting of an explorer, and not of a child. As she was all too aware, there was still a need to impress Darcy, and especially to impress Morty. She didn't want either one of her teammates to feel like she was dragging them down, and she didn't know the first thing about either species, or really, any species. But wasn't that her job? As an apprentice? To learn? The Igglybuff shook her head, mentally scolding herself. She'd have to read more educational books, about moves and Pokemon and mystery dungeons and battling. She knew nothing! And a guild member was supposed to know a lot…

   Although one thing Alki knew, was that she found Darcy's comment sweet. She wanted to protect Alki. That was more than anyone else had ever wanted for her. Her “real” sister definitely didn't care to protect her. She'd gone and hit her. Almost knocked her out too… she remembered the dizziness and confusion and pain that had resulted from the beat down that was her first, and so far, only real battle. The disdain towards her sister began to flare up, and Alki wanted to learn to battle to protect herself as well. She didn't want to feel like that ever again.

   Granted, there wasn't a whole lot she could do to achieve that goal at the moment, considering Goro didn't have any actual plans towards training her. He was honest, though, and Alki didn't want to be impatient. Things like tutoring someone must take time, especially when he was going to try and tutor someone as physically inept as herself. She was small, even by Igglybuff standards. Training someone like Alki to fight must be a chore, she was sure.

   The Igglybuff suddenly felt as if the conversation had gotten a bit too serious, especially with the Skitty confessing that she'd though Goro was an outlaw . Alki couldn't help but feel as if the Skitty should have a bit more faith in people, but for now, all she was concerned about was lightening up the mood. “Yeah! We're apprentices! And Faye is the guild master. She's a Meganium… and she's huge! Like… six times my size. At least! But she's still really sweet. She gave me a real cute, blue ribbon. I left it at home. Next time I visit, I could bring it and show you!” Alki said, going off on a bit of a tangent. She blushed at the thought. Her Robin was nice. The shade of blue was awfully pretty, and it was the first bow she'd ever owned too. She'd seen Melanie wear one before, but she'd never owned one of her very own until Faye had given her one, with the map and bag that explorers usually received. All that being said, she didn't want to lose it. And a trip through a mystery dungeon was the perfect opportunity to lose possessions like that. At the same time, she wanted to show her new friend the thing she was so proud of. As he had said only a few moments before, she'd cross that bridge when she got to it.

  After a few moments had passed, Alki gazed up at the two Pokemon seated around her. Surely, they'd had their fill of the dried berries and fruits Darcy had brought. It had to have been enough time for Goro to figure out some form of training for her? Sure, she was being a tad impatient, but could anyone really blame Alki? This was her first step to being a guild member no one could be ashamed of. She began to fidget in place, unsure of how to get things moving.

“Y'know, I'm… sorta full.” She began, the anxiousness clear in her voice. This really couldn't be further from the truth, she'd had one berry, and if anything, she was still a bit hungry. But she couldn't go and say that and spend another conversation anxiously waiting for the practice session to begin. She looked down at the basket, and then up at Goro. What if he wasn't full though? She didn't want to rob him of these new foods…

A few moments of deliberation, and one berry later, Alki opened her mouth to speak. “That's a lie… I mean, I'm not really that hungry anymore but… I'm just excited to practice and… stuff… I don't mean to rush anyone but… erm… can we go s-soon?” She said. She didn't have the heart to lie to either of these two Pokemon, even if it was just a small fib. Especially around Darcy. She'd either tell the truth, or say nothing at all, but lying was something else altogether.
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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:34 am

Goro let himself indulge in a tiny smile, sitting cross-legged and slowly munching on a dried pear, once Darcy piped up in response to his question. She had mentioned living at the Guild with Alki, last night, once they had a moment alone together when the Igglybuff went off to bed. But at the time, he'd been thoroughly embarrassed and desperately looking for a sense of solitude, and he wasn't sure if she was being sincere when she said as much. Getting his first hug ever had sort of disoriented him. Still, it was very nice to hear that the little Balloon Pokémon had someone looking out for her on her jobs, or... whatever it is she did for the Explorer's Guild. The idea of Alki on a Rescue Team was a boggling thought, no matter how he went about it.

But, she was cheerful, and generally upbeat besides. It wasn't an unfitting profession for her, honestly. He was only passingly familiar with  Explorer's Guilds and their Rescue Teams -- he'd seen his parents had square off once or twice against a few teams, while they were training him. The jobs they took weren't amoral in nature, and it was well known that all Explorers helped people. It was what they did, no matter what rank they were. Some of the stronger ones would hunt outlaws, but mostly they took jobs to help their clientele, or rescue Pokémon in danger. He couldn't see Alki doing such a thing, especially not now, but once she got older and stronger, she'd likely get a strong sense of satisfaction from such work. Darcy backing her up and looking after her along the way was a comforting thought, even if they were apparently only apprentices not allowed to undertake any dangerous tasks.

The small smile he wore quickly turned nervous, however, when Darcy leveled her thoughts of him potentially being an outlaw at him. It was very understandable, given the context, of course. Once he heard her skulking around his place, he wasn't exactly friendly or welcoming, and she had just gotten torn up pretty bad by the Marsh's hospitalities. The scariest part of her thoughts was that she was right - most Pokémon wouldn't settle down in a Dungeon unless they had a very good reason for it. And he did have such a reason. All throughout his training, he stood right behind his parents as they worked as thugs, and if they were outlaws, it was very probable that he could be one too. If he wandered into Rainfront Town one day and saw his name on a wanted poster, he wouldn't be surprised. He might even deserve it - he never did much on their jobs, but he did help out occasionally. They were the bad guys in those scenarios more often than not. He was pretty sure he wasn't an outlaw, but... that was one of the reasons he struck out in the Marsh.

It was honestly frightening at how quickly Darcy had him pegged. He was silent while she spoke, partially out of shock, but also preferring to simply listen. It was apparent that this Skitty had a working head on her shoulders - she was essentially right in her first assumptions about him.

He let out a breath that he didn't remember sucking in once she stopped speaking, visibly relieved when Alki chirped up from the side. Hearing her go off one her little tangent was strangely relaxing, her high-pitched voice and scrambling words washing over him, lulling him into an amused silence as he listened dutifully. The Meganium certainly sounded like a leader, if she could inspire such loyalty and love in her employees so quickly. Both Alki and Darcy had voiced their opinions on the Guild Leader, and without prompting, no less. Being a Rescue Team member probably was very rewarding. He finished off his fruit slowly once Alki drifted off, the group of Pokémon falling into a moment of silence. Their company... wasn't bad, in all honesty. He certainly preferred his solitude and isolation, striking out so deep into Cattail Marsh, but it was nice to hear so much about them over breakfast. He opted not to reach back in the basket for a second fruit, unwilling to eat too much. From the way Alki kept harping on and on about training, she seemed to want to go at it really hard. Best not to over-indulge and pay for it later.

Sure enough, the Igglybuff piped up once more a few moments later into the silence, unable to stay quiet for too long. He grinned at the thought, before wiping his hands off on his legs and making a show of finishing up. The Croagunk dutifully rose to his feet, dusting off his legs and stretching for the incoming workout, taking a moment to think of the best way to proceed. He'd have to learn how capable each of them were in a fighting scenario, to get a clear sense of what they knew and what they didn't. Their strengths and weaknesses, the things they should focus on and anything they needed to fix. Probably better to start with the basics, in any case.

"If yer both done with breakfast, sure." His voice was content, loud and clear in the Marsh atmosphere, any signs of morning drowsiness or fatigue visibly absent from his person. He was light on his feet, eyes alert and energetic. Almost jittery, in fact. Normally, he'd take this time in the morning to trek out around his territory and patrol for any ferals who got too close to his home, but for the past few days, he hadn't found anything. Truthfully, it was more him looking for a fight rather than him defending his territory, but he had other things to see to, this morning. Like this little brat Igglybuff and her sister harping on him for fighting lessons, of all things. He cast a considering glance at his front yard, gauging the distance of flat land carefully. There was about ten to fifteen yards of high, dry land in front of his shack, before it dipped down into shallow waters. Plenty of room to run about. "We got enough space here in the front yard, to start with, I reckon."

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:58 am

Darcy took one last piece of food as she finished talking, wrapping her tail around her front paws and falling silent.  She hoped neither Goro nor Alki would judge her too harshly for confessing how frightened she had been.  She'd done her best to act brave last night, like she thought a real team leader might, but...  It had taken every ounce of courage in her body to not just run away.  If Alki's safety hadn't been in question, Darcy wasn't sure she would ever be able to stand up to an outlaw.  What kind of a team leader did that make her..?

She sighed gently and cast a sideways glance at Goro.  In any case, she was thankful he hadn't been an outlaw after all.  ...Although, he seemed tensed up, all of a sudden, sitting as still as a rock, not even chewing anymore.  ...Oh, dear, it was because she had brought up last night again, wasn't it.  The Skitty's ears folded against her head as she was struck with a pang of regret.  Of course Goro wasn't an outlaw, right?  He was too generous for that.  But what if she had hurt his feelings?  Or worse, made him angry again..?  After the fury he had aimed at her last night, she didn't ever want to see him angry again...

She opened her mouth to apologize, to let him know she hadn't meant anything by it.  He'd long since proven himself in her eyes, protecting Alki and letting them both stay the night...  But before she could say anything, Alki piped up, explaining more about Faye, and showering her with praise.  Praise that she rightfully deserved, Darcy thought, suddenly smiling again in spite of herself.  It was so difficult to stay upset when Alki was being so positive and cheerful.  Darcy glanced at Goro once again, but the Igglybuff's excited rambling seemed to have calmed him down a little bit too.  Or maybe she had just imagined his anxiety in the first place.  Either way, she was happy that the moment was over...

The Skitty finished eating, just in time to hear Alki declare that she was done too...  Or at least that she was hoping to start their lesson already.  Darcy gave her a fond glance, still grateful to the core to see her little sister feeling this way.  "Okay.  You can have more later if you get hungry again, Alki.  Just let me know, alright?" she said, nodding and trying not to smile too widely.

Goro agreed too, and so it was settled.  She shut the basket, lifted it back into her bag, then unslung the bag itself from her shoulder and set it aside before glancing around the clearing.  Goro was right--there seemed to be enough space here.  She was glad that they wouldn't have to go any deeper into the marsh...

She shook her body and trotted towards the center of the clearing, her heart pounding a little faster with anticipation and perhaps a hint of anxiety.  She felt out of her depth already.  Goro must have been a scrappy and resourceful Pokemon if he was able to live all alone out here.  Nothing like herself.  She turned around and took a deep breath as she sat down, staring up at the frog Pokemon with a mixture of hope and desperation in her eyes.  As impossible as it seemed, she wanted to become a little more like him, tough and reliable and able to take care of herself...

She wondered if he knew how he was going to teach the two of them yet.  She didn't know where she would start if she were him...  But maybe there was some information she could offer that could help him decide?  She had woefully little experience with fighting.  She was always too intimidated to ask for help from her senior guild members, all of them leaps and bounds ahead of her in terms of skill...  But ever since she had resolved to let Alki stay on her team, after their first mission together in Shadowhue, she had been reading as many books about mystery dungeons and first aid and self defense as she could get her paws on.  She'd scarcely had any chances to practice, but surely all of that knowledge was at least a little useful...

"Well, umm...  I'm a normal type.  And Alki is too, at least a little..." the Skitty said, giving her sister a nod and a tiny, encouraging smile.  "...I think Alki's Flamethrower is the only scary, strong move that either of us know.  We both know a few tricks that I think are common to normal-types, but I don't think we've ever had to use them to defend ourselves before..."

She put a paw to her mouth, wondering what the best way to proceed would be.  "Ummm...  Alki, you said earlier that you've learned a couple of new moves, right..?" she said after a while, suddenly wagging her tail with excitement, her smile growing wider as she regarded her little sister.  "Do you think you could show us what the other one was?  I think that for now, the best thing we can do is show Goro what we're both capable of..."

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:07 pm

Alki gazed out at the dry, relatively solid ground Goro referred to, a wave of nervousness suddenly overtaking her. She suddenly felt like calling the whole thing off, and she would've, if not for the fact that Morty, and especially Darcy, were going to expect a lot more from her going forward. So a couple ragged attempts at a deep breath later, she nodded, surrendering to the fact that she would have to learn to fight somehow, and a spar with Goro would be infinitely better than an honest-to-Arceus fight with a feral. “S-So we're going to spar?” She mumbled, not taking her eyes off the stretch of flat land. She slowly bounced to the opposite end of the stretch, and waited for the lesson to begin.

  Thankfully, though, Darcy began to speak to Goro, and about her! She eagerly bounced towards her sister, looking up at her with thankfulness, which quickly turned to fear as she realized what the Skitty was asking of her. She wanted Alki to show her other new move to Goro. That was… something Alki really didn't want to show off. That implied kissing him! He'd certainly been friendly to her and her sister, yet Alki didn't feel that kissing him would be something that the Croagunk would much appreciate.

   But at the same time… it might be something Darcy would like to see. She'd been so impressed by flamethrower! Alki nodded, the imminent embarrassment hanging over her. She gazed up first at the Croagunk, and then to her teammate, searching for encouragement. “Alright, Goro… well, I know sing. That just… puts Pokemon to sleep after a bit, if I sing a certain way. Heal pulse, erm, heals, and I showed off Flamethrower… the last one is… She mumbled, running through her moves like a checklist, explaining what she knew about each one. But the last one… her cheeks began to glow a bright, cherry red, just thinking about it. “Alright, Darcy… erm, here it is… She mumbled, bouncing closer to the Croagunk. She took one, final deep breath, before bouncing up higher, as she gave one simple kiss on Goro's cheek. She scrambled back, her face more red than pink at this point. He was going to be confused any second now, assuming she performed the move right. And if she didn't do it right… he'd probably still be confused.

“It's… I thought it would be better to show you, cause… it'd sound really stupid if I tried to explain… you'll see, in a second.” She explained to the Skitty, as the mortified Igglybuff waited for the move to take effect.
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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:12 am

As he finished stretching and Darcy joined him in the centre of the generous clearing, he took a moment to observe his two potential students. Alki he had plenty to worry about, but it was the cat that intrigued him more. This was the first time he'd met an Igglyuff or a Skitty, but he knew not to expect much from the small Balloon Pokémon. Not only was she very clearly young and inexperienced, but the type advantages he held over the brat gave him no cause to worry. Fairy-types didn't stack up well against toxins and poisons - that was known by anyone. And the last thing that came to mind when he glanced at the Balloon Pokémon was physically durable. Absently, he wondered if she'd pop if he squeezed the brat hard enough.

It was the Skitty that he was curious about. Cautious, too. The Croagunk nodded thoughtfully and dutifully as she explained her and Alki's typing, filing away her status as another Normal-type. It was no secret that he fared badly against ranged attacks and status ailments - every close-range fighter did. That's why they rushed their enemies down and finished them before they had to deal with any of that troublesome stuff - but that was exactly the thing Normal-types were good at. Jacks of all trades,  they were, usually able to dip into every kind of technique and brandish them at the appropriate foes. Alki, for instance, would never lack a tool against a Fire-type or Ice-type, now that she'd learned Flamethrower. That was their card to play; where Poison-types had their crippling toxins and Fighting-types had their crushing fists, Normal-types had versatility.

He turned an amused eye on the Balloon Pokémon when Darcy asked her to perform the other technique she'd learned. Flamethrower was a powerful technique in its own right, giving Alki a very clear niche to work with as a fighter and Rescue Team Member, so anything else she had was just bonus points, at this rate. He nodded along, nothing really surprised him when Alki explained her general move-set and capabilities to him. Sing was expected; another status-type move, and Heal Pulse she had mentioned last night. But then the little brat flushed a brilliant red hue as she trailed off, apparently her next move being a little more candid in nature.

The amused air he gave off turned into genuinely wary when the Igglybuff bounced toward him again. Truthfully, he'd have appreciated another explanation rather than a demonstration, even if it did embarrass the little tyke, but when Alki bounced high in the air, head level with him, and pecked him solidly on the cheek, he stood shock-still, dumbfounded by the Pokémon's forwardness. Absently, he realized that in addition to being the first Pokémon to hug him, she was also the first to kiss him; just before some wires crossed and the Croagunk went suddenly cross-eyed, stumbling backward drunkenly as the world turned itself upside down.

He tried to speak, tried to vocalize what he was feeling, but he had a sneaking suspicious that all that came out of his gullet was an alarmed, confused croak. Vibrant colors flashed in his vision, his eyesight distorting this way and that, the world he viewed through his eyes warping vividly. Anything he heard was dull, flushed and quiet as if his head had been dunked underwater. The tension and sense of feeling in his limbs had vanished almost entirely, leaving him feeling like a pile of flat lead, heavy and disoriented. Whatever the fuck she'd just done to him, he knew instinctively that he hated it as much as it confused him; he had a strong, strong urge to flail out and whack the brat for the transgression... but he did sort of ask for it.

Rather than lash out, he stumbled back even further, steps wobbly and uncertain. His hands rose to his face unbidden, grasping onto the sides of his head harshly in an attempt to tether himself to the ground. Belatedly, it occurred to him that he was confused - and there wasn't much to do but ride it out. Rather than trying to fix himself and having his own fists on him, that is. Still, as much as his posture was slack and confused, there was a very visible undercurrent of shock and anger in his movements. He knew, immediately, he hated being confused.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:38 am

Darcy watched Alki as her voice trailed off, growing more and more uncertain as her cheeks took on a bright red hue.  Maybe this wasn't the kind of move that was easily demonstrated, like Flamethrower was?  All the same, Darcy gave her friend an encouraging little nod.  The Skitty had her own share of strange, off-kilter moves...  Whatever Alki's new technique was, she was sure that the three of them could find ways to make it useful, to let Alki's skill shine through...

The Skitty's smile did grow a little sheepish as she watched Alki bounce towards Goro though.  This move required a target, it seemed.  She was about to volunteer to be Alki's test subject instead, but by then it was too late, the Igglybuff hopping up, high into the air, and...  Giving Goro a brief, angelically sweet-looking kiss on the cheek...

...After a moment of surprise, the sight made the Skitty break into a fit of giggling.  "Awww, Alki, that's really cute..." she said, giving the Igglybuff a smile as she explained herself.  "I think it must be the fairy part of you shining through.  What does it do, though..?"

She turned her gaze back to Goro, like Alki said.  The Croagunk was shocked into silence, as motionless as a statue...  But anyone would behave that way after being kissed out of the blue, Darcy thought while grinning.  But her grin only lasted for a moment before Goro's posture grew slack and tottery, the frog Pokemon letting out a confused croak as he wobbled backwards, clutching his head.

"C-confusion?  Or...  Something?" Darcy stuttered as she hopped to her feet and instinctively took a few steps forward, hit by a pang of concern.  She'd never seen it herself, but she had definitely read about moves that could shake a Pokemon's mind so badly that they couldn't control their actions.  Flailing madly, sometimes even hurting themselves...  Even so, the descriptions hadn't prepared her to actually see it in one of her friends.  She knew it was unsafe, but as she saw Goro stumble about, his whole body trembling and too out of sorts to even speak, Darcy just couldn't stop herself from bounding forward.  "H-here, hold on to me, okay?" she said as she did the first thing she could think of, pressing her body against his side, hoping to at least steady him and give him something to hold on to while he rode out the aftermath of Alki's kiss.

"Just...  Focus on my voice, alright?" she said while staring up at the miserable-looking Croagunk's face, an idea coming to her.  She cleared her throat, pressing against him a little more firmly as she prepared to use a move of her own.  Perhaps one that would calm him down, allow him to relax and avoid hurting himself as they waited for his confusion to run its course.  "You'll be okay, Goro. Hold on to me, and try to relax, alright..?" she murmured softly.  "I'll keep you safe.  Moves like this only last for a little while, so just hold still, and you'll be fine..." she continued in a sugar-sweet tone while gazing into his eyes, using Disarming Voice just like she had practiced.  It was a move with the sole purpose of making Pokemon have second thoughts about fighting...  Surely it could still his body a little, prevent him from lashing out or stumbling around and getting hurt...

...And hopefully, the move would comfort Alki a little bit too.  She gave the Igglybuff the most confident glance she could manage before looking back to Goro, continuing to murmur sweet reassurances, hoping to finish Alki's impressive demonstration as smoothly as possible...

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:03 am

Alki watched her handiwork begin to take place, and she couldn't help but feel a small piece of pride in her achievement. She hadn't known Flamethrower or Sweet Kiss long at all, but both of her performances had succeeded. They'd impressed Darcy, and right now, that was all Alki wanted to do. Anything more would just be icing on the cake. If she could learn how to use those two moves in a fight, and if Darcy appreciated those efforts, then she'd have succeeded. If she didn't, then that would just be her own fault, because of her own incompetence. It occurred to Alki, absently, just how important Darcy was to her, but the most important thing to her at the moment, was the reassuring, proud glance she saw on Darcy's face, before continuing to reassure Goro.

The Igglybuff turned her attention towards the frog Pokemon. Despite all of her pride, she couldn't help but feel a small shred of guilt, not only because of the results of her move, but also because it probably would've been a good idea to ask him first. But it was too late for that now, wasn't it? He seemed to be grappling with the confusion that resulted from her kiss, and the child couldn't do anything but sit back, and let the Skitty use her own move to calm him down. It occurred to her that Darcy probably expected her to apologize. It was definitely due, in hindsight. Goro had volunteered to help her, so even if it had only been a demonstration, confusion must still be unpleasant to suffer from.

“Sorry, Goro… I'm sorry, I should've asked.” Alki said, once she imagined the effects of the Kiss were wearing down. She wasn't quite sure, seeing as she'd never used the move on an actual target. She was looking up at the Croagunk, trying to make it clear that she did, indeed, feel bad. Out of the corner of her eye, however, she observed Darcy and her reaction, as well. It was better to judge the Skitty's judgement than her own, in situations like these.

“I didn't, um, I've… I've never used the move on an actual target, so… I didn't know it would be that unpleasant.” She said. That was a bit of a lie, she'd read enough about herself and her moves to know that it was a very unpleasant move; it screwed up the target’s senses, they couldn't tell up from down or East from west, and it made any sense of logic and reason fly out the window, to the point that some Pokemon even hit themselves in their confusion. But she was a rather convincing liar, and if it helped her gain favor with both the Croagunk and the Skitty, then hey, no harm and no foul, right? It was important that neither were mad at her, and a small lie was the best way to ensure that. “So… so, yeah. I really am sorry, Goro.”
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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:10 pm

Stumbling backward almost drunkenly, Goro was immediately aware of the presence suddenly at his side. He didn't think it unreasonable to assume it was another symptom of confusion - his ears were both ringing and not, his hearing muted as if someone had dunked his head underwater, his vision distorting this way and that, his limbs heavy and unfeeling, as if they were deadened. As the Croagunk's eyes shut tight and his fists curled painfully tight against the sides of his head, he slowly became aware of the effect the confusion had over him - at first, it was steadily overwhelming and even frightening, but as time passed, it seemed to lessen.

Perhaps it had something to do with Alki stumbling over apologies in the background, the Balloon Pokémon clearly regretful over her spontaneous decision. Or maybe he was just adjusting to the status for the first time - he'd never been confused, but it was just another status affliction, just line poisoning or paralysis. Obstructing, a handicap to be sure, but not crippling. Still, he'd suffered from paralysis and sleep and burns before, but never confusion. Confusion, Goro decided, was the worst of the lot. He knew without testing it that moving would be difficult, let alone fighting effectively. The Croagunk risked opening his eyes and trying to see, but all he was able to make out was a mass of pink fur bristling at his side, either Alki or Darcy trying to help.

Then... came the voice. It was Darcy, he could tell immediately, her voice washing over him in a steady, somehow reassuring murmur. Hold on to her, relax, she'd keep him safe... The mantra seeped through him, striking deep at his core, and Goro wanted nothing more to agree and curl up against the Skitty, to believe her and surrender to the status affliction. Any thoughts of resistance or lashing out melted away from Goro, her words having an almost supernatural effect on the Poison-fighting hybrid - indeed, his hands dropped from his head to clutch weakly at the Skitty's fur brushing up against him, his back going lax at the sensation of her tail running across his back comfortingly. It couldn't last forever - of course, it couldn't. It'd pass if he calmed down.

Still, for all that her voice and presence were comforting, it suddenly felt... insulting. It was - it was just confusion! Pokémon got confused all the time, and this pussy cat saw the need to stick to him at the first sign of crossed wires, and guide him back to lucidity? No. No, he didn't need it, he was stronger than that. He didn't need help, and he didn't need coddling. Goro's lip curled at the thought, his posture straightening from its relaxed bend a moment prior, one hand dropping from Darcy's side to hover still at his side.

As offended as Goro felt, his hand moved before the thought even came to him. His right hand had curled into a fist in a split second, his body rotating tightly as his hand tore in an upward arc in a desperate, wild, instinctive strike at the Skitty clinging to him. Wires crossed in his vision as the bout of confusion seemed to it a spike, and it happened before Goro knew - something in him prompted the Croagunk to lash out, and Darcy was the closest target.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:34 am

"O-oh!  It's alright, Alki," Darcy said, her sister's guilt and nervousness tearing the Skitty's attention from their confused friend.  "I told you to do it.  And if you didn't know what confusion is like, then no one can blame you.  I've never seen a Pokemon be confused before either.  Just promise me you won't use it willy-nilly from now on.

"And besides," she said, smiling and nuzzling against Goro with a small purr.  This was her first time using Disarming Voice on another Pokemon as well, but it seemed to be working like a charm.  The Croagunk was holding on to her like she had asked, keeping his balance steady, and his breathing had grown calm and stable compared to how it had been just a few moments ago...  She felt a moment of pride in herself as well as in Alki.  Practicing this move had paid off.  "I think the worst of it is over, right Goro?" she said.  "You're tough, huh?  You're already starting to--"

Her sentence ended with a sharp grunt as the frog Pokemon's fist blindsided her in the stomach, sending the kitten airborn for a moment before she crashed to the muddy ground and skidded roughly to a stop a few feet away.  She gasped dizzily for air as her vision spun in circles and her mind reeled with shock.  What was going on?  Were there feral Pokemon here?  Was Alki in danger?

She tried to stand up but stumbled and collapsed again.  "O-owwww..." she mumbled as she squeezed her eyes shut and struggled for breath.  A numb pain radiated from her belly, the wind still knocked out of her.  That had felt like a fighting move.  Or...  Something in that vein.  The blow had felt like something from a Pokemon disciplined in using their body to beat others down as efficiently as possible.  The kind of raw power that a normal-type like herself didn't have any recourse against.

Finally, she caught her breath again, although each shaky gasp sent another wave of pain radiating through her body, from her stomach to her toes.  She stood up and blinked her eyes open, wondering if indeed the three of them were under attack, but...  All she saw was Alki and Goro.  Alki seemed unhurt, thank goodness, and Goro seemed...  Furious, tense with energy and looking right at her.

...A wave of cold understanding washed over the Skitty.  She shrank into herself, flattening her ears against her skull while she sat down.  "W-why'd you do that..?" she mumbled quietly as she stared down at the ground, trying to blink back tears of pain, and now tears of betrayal as well.  ...She guessed her move hadn't helped that much after all.  His confusion must have just been too bad for her to do anything.  She'd known that getting close to him had been dangerous, as she was keenly reminded by the throbbing pain in her belly, but...  Still, she had really thought she'd been getting through to him.  ...But she supposed not.  ...Did he still begrudge her for her actions last night?

"A-Alki, stand behind me, okay?" she said, her voice a little less feeble as she forced herself to look up and watch the Croagunk lest he decide that hitting her once hadn't been enough.  "S-sorry...  T-that was dumb of me.  H-he's confused, so...  Yeah.  That's why he hit me."

She bit her tongue, hoping that her words were the truth.  She truly did want to be friends with someone Alki seemed so close to.  And...  He seemed interesting, too, the kind of Pokemon she'd like to get to know regardless.  He was the exact opposite of her, except in the way they both cared for Alki...  She had never met anyone like this while living with her parents.  He wasn't still mad, right?  He couldn't be!  Or so she prayed...

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:12 am

Alki looked over at her older sister’s more impressive display. Well, perhaps “more impressive” wasn’t the right word, but Alki could certainly admire the Skitty’s ability to stop fights rather than start them. She’d made this whole situation possible because of a flippant use of an ability she’d discared as useless. It was certainly powerful, if Goro was any indication, but the longer she saw the Croagunk in this state, the more and more guilty she began to feel. He’d been nothing but hospitable, and intentions aside, Alki had practically sucker punched the poor mon.

These feelings of guilt did not subside when the frog Pokemon punched her sister straight in the stomach.

If it had been any other Pokemon, any other scenario, Alki would’ve sprung to her sister’s defenses with all the strength she could muster (Which was, admittedly, not a lot.). But Alki was smart enough to know that this was, however indirectly, her fault. She’d decided it’d be a good idea to use her move on a friend of hers, and even if she didn’t know what confusion did, exactly, she knew it was a status condition. If it was in the same category as poison and burning, it wasn’t exactly a huge leap to know that it was bad. So Alki resisted the urge to attack the frog, and instead followed Darcy’s instructions, slowly getting behind the Skitty as she used Heal Pulse on both of the Pokemon, wiping away the tears that had started to form in her eyes. Crying brought pity. Alki didn’t deserve any of that pity, not then. “I’m really, really sorry...” She repeated, quietly. “That… that wasn’t dumb of you, Darcy, you just… you had to try and fix up my mistake.”

Alki scuffed the ground, briefly wanting to step out, around the Skitty and into the Croagunk’s path. It wasn't fair for Darcy to get beat up for Alki's screw ups. If there was anyone that deserved to get punched, it was her idiotic self. But Darcy's words ‘Get behind me, Alki,’ bounced around her head like a ball. She couldn't just disobey something as clear as that. Even if they weren't on a mission, Darcy was still her teams leader, right? Even if she didn't out right disobey, she did step out to the side, waving at the Croagunk as she tried to make eye contact, still using heal pulse. “Please stop, Goro, I… didn't mean to hurt you like this, I didn't know confusion was this bad… I'll… I made a mistake, I'm really, really sorry…” She said, unable to do much more to fix the situation. She could only hope that the confusion was just about done.
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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:39 am

The feedback from the punch registered to the distraught Croagunk before anything else; not the pained cry from the Skitty or the stars crossing in his vision. Even through his deadened limbs and hay wired senses, he felt his lip curl in satisfaction, relishing in the sensation of a clean punch, the tension from the strike bouncing around his fist and down his arm. It surged down him, from the tips to his toes, and despite the confusion wracking his mind and body, Goro was able to think clearly for a few moments. It was a good hit - and from the sensation of his fist striking the Skitty's stomach, he realized that he must have lashed out. The Skitty had done... something to him, while he was under the influence of Alki's confusion. He'd resisted it for just a moment before her voice washed over him and soothed any such thoughts, and he'd grown docile until he remembered himself.

The thought returned to him, Goro immediately felt the same indignant fury rush through him, and with it, his head cleared a smidge further. There were still spots in his peripheral, and if he moved too sharply it felt like an electric current would blast through his head, leaving him dazed and helpless. He'd felt it just before he had lashed out at the Skitty, the sucker punch born of equal parts panicked fury and the influence of confusion. The Croagunk's breaths were harsh and labored, more out of panic and distress than any physical exhaustion, a harsh, angry glare expression fixed on his face. His right fist still hovered threateningly in front of him, the other clutching tightly to the side of his head as the fighter tried to ground himself. Through distorted vision, he dimly registered Darcy skidding back, visibly shocked and pained from the sucker punch, and the sight brought him only a small measure of satisfaction - and... regret?

The realization shocked him almost as much as the debilitating status effect hindered him. Regret... and shame. Instead of the vindictive pleasure that normally washed over him when he struck someone else, Goro realized that he felt upset. His hairless brows harrowed in themselves, his leathery face scrunching up in visible haunted confusion, only in part caused by Alki's Sweet Kiss. Another confused croak rose him his gullet, long and weak in the ensuing silence following Alki's heartfelt apologies as he reappraised the Skitty in front of him. By all the legendaries, why would he ever feel bad about hitting her? She was still the same nosy pussycat from last night. She'd had the nerve to accuse Goro of kidnapping, of all things, and had nearly snuck up on him in his own territory! And she'd stood right up to him afterward when he snapped at her, raising her chin and throwing her chest out as if she had nothing to fear from him.

She'd showed a million different sides of herself that night, and none of them good! She was nosy, overbearing, rude, stubborn, irritatingly noble - and, and brave. Caring and protective and loving, chasing after Alki the way she did, and so affectionate with the younger Pokémon once she was safe and sound. Darcy had run that adorably fuzzy tail up and down the Balloon Pokémon, and man, didn't it just remind him of the cattail plants around his home?

Hell, in this light, the Skitty was almost... cute. Her ears flattened against her head, perfectly pink fur bristling in the morning sun, wide eyes blinking back unshed tears, stoically bearing the pain of his strong punch. Admirable, no matter what, at the end of the day. Even now, shaking from the aftermath of his strong punch, she had Alki huddled behind her protectively, shielding her from any potential danger. The desperate frown and the harrowed expression on his face immediately melted at the thought, replaced by a dopey, harmless smile. What on earth had he been upset about, again? The confusion?

The tension melted from the Croagunk as he realized - it wasn't so bad, now. Whatever Darcy had done must have done the trick, he realized. Surely she'd never meant to hurt him; what was he thinking, lashing out like that? Taking in the Skitty now, there was no way he'd be able to do such a thing again. But the shame and guilt still swirled deep in his belly, and the last thing he wanted to do now was hurt her any further. Feeling and tension slowly returned to his limbs as the effects of the Sweet Kiss lessened, the Croagunk dropping slowly to the moist soil, kneeling if to brace himself for the trip back to earth. The harsh, panicked, laboring gulps of air from before were now calm, steady breaths as his gaze flickered between Darcy and the Igglybuff behind her, his vision steadying, vibrant colors dulling in hue and returning to the world it was before. He wanted to keep his eyes trained on Alki, but for some reason, he couldn't quite keep his eyes off the Kitten Pokémon.

"You're kinda... real pretty," Goro blurted. The words spilled from his mouth before they ever crossed his mind - as soon as he realized what he said, Goro's eyes bulged and he felt a hot flush of embarrassment rise up his neck, but his gaze was no less enthralled with the feline before him.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:09 am

Right away, Darcy found it easier to breathe as the familiar sensation of Alki's Heal Pulse echoed throughout the clearing, washing over herself and Goro.  She flashed her sister a quick smile and sighed with relief.  Thank goodness the Igglybuff had sprung into action so quickly.  She seemed guilt-stricken, of course, and it hurt to see her like that, but...  They could talk things over once Goro was feeling better.  With any luck, he would forgive Alki once his confusion had passed.  For now, all that mattered was making sure he didn't try anything violent again.  Alki's Heal Pulse numbed it somewhat, but her stomach still hurt, and she had to sink her claws into the ground to keep herself steady.  So Darcy returned her gaze to the frog Pokemon, his body still tense and angry, one fist hovering in the air...

...A long, meandering croak escaped his throat as the two Pokemon stared at each other.  Darcy's breathing was still quick and shallow after being struck so suddenly, but...  As the moment of silence grew longer, she found herself relaxing somewhat.  The Croagunk didn't take his eyes off of her, but he lowered his fist, slowly and surely.  His own breathing grew less labored, and his expression took on an air of confusion rather than anger.  ...Though she didn't let herself lower her guard completely, not yet.  She had already made that mistake once.

What finally convinced her that the worst was over was Goro's smile.  All of a sudden, the tension melted from his body completely, leaving behind a Croagunk who seemed so pleasant that Darcy barely recognized him.  The Skitty smiled again, equal parts surprised and pleased...  He didn't seem to hold any grudges towards the two of them.  If anything, he seemed impressed, the relaxed, cheery smile on his face not abating at all as he gently lowered himself to the ground.

Why couldn't he always be this way?  Darcy giggled a little as she trotted forward, just to make sure he really was feeling better, that he didn't need anymore help.  She wondered if he remembered Alki's apologies, or if the confusion had muddled his mind too much and they would have to talk about them again.  Either way, his sudden change in mood probably told Alki everything she needed to know.  She sat down in front of him, looking up into his eyes and wagging her tail as she thought about what to say...

But he spoke first.  And his words shocked her even more than his fist had.  "I...  W-whaaaa?"  Her mouth hung open and she stared at him as if he had suddenly transformed into a different person.  The bewildered Skitty looked over her shoulder to make sure another Pokemon hadn't sneaked up on them after all, but no, the three of them were alone.  And so his words finally sank in as she looked forward.  She stared intensely at the ground and her cheeks grew red hot and her whole body was swept through by a sudden rush of embarrassment and shyness.  He thought she was...  Pretty..?

"I-I, umm...  Well, thank you, Goro..." she said quietly, covering her front paws with her tail as she shrank even farther into herself, not quite sure how to respond.  As sudden and unexpected as his compliment had been, well...  It seized her out of nowhere, and was already starting to twist her heart in knots, but she couldn't quite say it made her feel unhappy.  ...She had never been called 'pretty' before.  Nothing even close, at least not from her parents.  And she respected Goro, not only being tough enough to survive out here, but being kind enough to take care of Alki...

...Still, she couldn't quite shake the feeling that he was making fun of her somehow, like he was trying to make her squirm on purpose.  He had punched her just a few moments ago!  And from the instant they'd first met, she had never done anything but make him angry.  ...Maybe his mind was just still addled a little bit from Alki's kiss?  "Let's get you inside, alright?  I think...  Maybe you need some rest after all of that?" she said as she stood up and pressed against his side like before, in case he needed something to lean on, though this time she kept her gaze locked solidly on the ground, far too embarrassed and confused to make eye contact.

She forced herself to raise her voice.  "I think we're in the clear now, Alki.  I-I'm okay.  Thanks for your Heal Pulse," she said.  "...Let's...  Not practice that last move again though.  I-I think Goro still might not feel quite right.  Do you think you could open the door for us?"

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:55 am

Alki stared at the two Pokemon, helpless and ashamed. But strangely, she wasn't afraid. Or at least, not outright terrified like she'd been with the Pinsir she'd ‘fought’ in Shadowhue. A rather loose definition of the term. All she'd done was get lucky and sing it to sleep before any actual fighting happened.

Should she sing these two to sleep? It might prevent a fight, and Alki would hate to see either of these two Pokemon get hurt. Who knew what a fight between the two would look like? Alki stopped using Heal pulse, but before any music escaped her, she noticed the Croagunk lowering his arms. A rather clear expression of confusion overcame his face, but Alki had a feeling she wasn't the cause of it anymore. Even if he'd lowered his fist, he was still staring at Darcy, not her.

She felt like the worst of it was over, and she certainly didn't feel the need to use Sing any longer. She didn't want to risk screwing up anything more anyways. Alki bounced forward, small paces as she observed Darcy approach, ready to sing at a moment's notice. Goro was gonna say something! Was he past the confusion, now? Maybe she should apologize again and --

“You’re kinda… real pretty.”
Alki's jaw dropped. He wasn't wrong, Darcy was pretty cute. But… that wasn't something people went around saying. Especially not after they'd just sucker punched the Pokemon they called cute. This was so strange, and if last night was any indication, very out of character too.

But Alki began to smile. It was pretty clear to her that Goro wouldn't pose any sort of danger anymore. She was safe and he was somehow still confused. Still, things like this wore off eventually, and it didn't seem to be the painful sort of confusion. Perhaps some strange after effect? The child giggled as she bounced towards the shack. The door seemed more like a formality, than anything else. It certainly didn't provide security, when one could enter the shack through a variety of other, unintended entrances. If that wasn't an option, someone stronger than her could probably make an entrance anywhere they wanted. Hell, they could probably bring the whole house down… Hell? That wasn't a word she should be using. Maybe Goro was rubbing off on her… she giggled, the naughty word and love-stricken Croagunk being funny enough to slowly eat away at her fear.

“The door? Sure, Darcy… he's right, y'know. You are really pretty.” She laughed, pushing the door open as the hinges creaked. “Aren't you gonna say anything to him, too, Darcy? You should compliment him back!” Alki smiled, the novelty of the situation causing her to perhaps push the situation a bit farther than it needed to go. Did he have a crush on Darcy? This would be fun to watch… Alki bowed, waving the two inside with a playful grin planted on her face.
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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:18 am

The effect of his words on the Skitty in front of him was not lost on Goro; indeed, as soon as his outburst registered to the Kitten Pokémon, he watched eagerly as she became shocked. Her eyes widened in surprise and her jaw dropped open in disbelief before that surprise turned into delicious shyness, Darcy curling in on herself. The feline's gaze dropped to the ground, a red blush peeking through her fur, before mumbling the most adorable thank-you that Goro had ever heard. His attraction to the Skitty seemed to peak even further with every word she spoke, every action she took. Even as she brought her tail in front of her in the cutest little display of shyness, an act that normally would have Goro snorting or turning on his heel in disgust, he could only marvel at the beauty and nature of her.

Her reaction in and of itself was telling, as well. The simplest explanation was that she was not used to receiving compliments, which seemed impossible. She was like Alki that way, then, in that the people around her didn't deserve her presence. Not really. Darcy should be told how beautiful and admirable she really was; she deserved that, didn't she?

When she moved again, standing back up and actually pressing into Goro's side, the Croagunk felt his heart soar. How lucky was he, to receive such attention from such a great Pokémon? Even now, after he'd hurt her with his fists and embarrassed her with his words, she persevered further and did what she had to do to help him. He knew she had to be feeling afraid of him, to brave entering his personal space after what he did last time, but she hardened herself and did it anyway. She wasn't just pretty, but she was brave, and kind and caring, too. Goro all but melted into the feline, leaning right back into her and wrapping one long arm around the Skitty's back. Had he been of a sound mind, the Croagunk would have balked at such contact, but all that was on Goro's mind was how amazingly Darcy's fur felt, brushing against his arm and hand.

The dopey smile on Goro's face only widened at Darcy's helpful words. How caring was she, to be worried about him even after the confusion had passed? What a wonderful visitor he'd found. "No, no, I feel fine, kitty. I've never felt better, I reckon," Despite his words, however, Goro put up absolutely no resistance as the Skitty slowly lead him toward his shack. Anything he had to do to maintain the contact she was bestowing upon him, he would. Absently, Goro gently clutched a handful of fur with the hand he had wrapped around the Skitty as he leaned into her, marveling at how it felt in his hands. What had he done, to deserve such fortune on this day? "I can't believe it... yer fur's so soft - I never felt anythin' like it."

His tone was soft and pondering, the question clear in his voice. Truthfully, Goro could give less of a shit about whatever she did when grooming herself. But he was interested in hearing her voice again - as soon as she stopped speaking, he felt his heart sink a little further into his stomach, and he hated the feeling. Darcy shouldn't be silent, he decided. She should be vibrant and cheerful and never silent. Was it his presence that made her so bashful? The Croagunk tilted his head to take in the Skitty at his side, but as she kept her eyes locked on the ground, he was unable to meet her gaze. A pity, honestly - normally the cat had her eyes squinted shut, but during those sweet moments where she was surprised, they were truly gorgeous to behold. He wanted to see more of them, but it probaby wasn't a good idea to push his luck with the feline Pokémon.

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