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 Everything I've Ever Had, Casper Fitzgerald & Team Development
 Posted: Sep 4 2015, 04:49 PM
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Stupidface McNoctowl
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Total Posts: 1615
Member No. 1923
Joined on 24-February 15.

Alexander Fitzgerald | Emilie Chartoire

Awards: 5

- Bonding with Caledonia
- Helping Caledonia learn to become more comfortable with Casper's touch
- Helping Caledonia become accustomed to the saddle and other equipment from SSA

Early afternoon, Woods near Dedrius

Cal seemed... different. And it was more than the fact that she had taken on a new form with her evolution. It almost seemed like she wanted to do something different. Now, Casper couldn't have a conversation with her to confirm this, but he could try to figure out how to best help her do whatever she was doing.

The change was apparent every time she came out of her poke ball. He released her into a small clearing in the woods near Dedrius, not far from where he had spent so much time in his youth. At seventeen, he didn't consider himself a full adult, but he certainly had dealt with far more problems and adventures than he was expecting so early in his journey, mostly because of the presence of the now-noctowl emerging with a bright red light. She stretched her wings, glad for the excuse to get out of her ball and have some peaceful time. Even as she lifted off a few inches and darted closer to Casper, he marveled in how much faster she could fly, how much more comfortable she seemed in her body. Her body as a hoothoot was simply too round for efficient flying, and now that she was not quite so round, she found herself more able to fly in the way she had always imagined. Her wings were also a bright jewel-like shade of red that sometimes distracted her as she flew. Case in point - she flew directly into Casper, not remembering to stop and land by his feet as she usually did.

Casper laughed as he peeled himself off the floor. She hadn't been flying too fast, and after all, he was proud of how far she was coming. She was taller than him and far bulkier, and as a result was able to intimidate her foes more easily. Casper grinned as he brushed some dirt off his shirt, reaching out a hand to pat her wing as best as he could reach. After all, there was a limit to how far he could reach on a pokemon that stood over six feet tall!

"Hoooot!" Cal screeched, withdrawing her wing abruptly. She then looked at Casper and let out a deep sigh.

Casper was confused... what was wrong with her? Maybe her wing hurt? "Cal, are you okay? What hurts?"

"Hooot," she responded, wishing for a moment that she could talk to him in a way that he would be able to understand. In lieu of this, she stretched out her wings to their full span, showing Casper that they were in fact healthy. She just... she didn't like being touched.

Casper looked at her wings, puzzled. Her wings were red, which would make it harder for him to see if there was any blood on them, but her feathers looked like they were in pristine condition and she made no noise of pain as she extended her wings seemingly as far as possible. He walked around her in a circle and she followed him with her eyes, keeping still so that he could inspect her. Even in the dim light of the trees, he could still see the bright gold coloration of her feathers and the way she held herself in a proud, confident stance. So what was wrong, then? "Um... what happened?" he asked.

"Hoot!" Cal tried to reassure him by approaching him, folding her wings in and standing next to him like a sentinel of an eternal watch. She did feel bad about reacting in this way, but after all, she was used to being manhandled and prized only for her physical appearance. She was used to being snatched away and having no control of her body whether she was being held down by ropes, being tugged away from Casper's grasp... or even being tugged by Casper as he sought to defend her.

Even though he wasn't entirely sure what was going on, Casper had still called Cal out of her ball for a reason. After their adventure to Shooting Star Acres not too long before her evolution, he had taken good care of the noctowl-suitable saddle and the other implements for riding. He had to admit that he was probably too excited about riding Caledonia. Not only would he be able to escape from any situation that might have the potential for him to get hurt, but he would also get to soar through the skies on a shiny noctowl who would glimmer and shine as he waved to the people down below, gaping at his good fortune. Even better, he would get to have alone time with Caledonia without the threat of abduction, which was a rare enough feat that he was quite enthusiastic to attempt. "Cal, do you think you'd like to try something new?" The noctowl looked at him and gave a slow nod. He eagerly started rummaging through his bag for the leather saddle that was folded up into a part of his backpack. "Now that you've evolved, it's gonna be possible for me to ride you! Won't that be great?" he said enthusiastically, advancing towards the noctowl.

Caledonia didn't protest vocally, nor did she draw too much attention from the local wild pokemon, as she backed up. She didn't extend her wings, she simply walked backwards with her talons on the ground, one foot behind the other. "Come on, Cal, it'll be fun," he said as she started to move. She continued to track his footsteps, moving backward each time he moved forward, letting out the occasional small click of her beak. "Oh, come on, Cal, it's not gonna hurt you, it's just a saddle. What's the problem, anyway?" Casper grumbled. He hadn't even thought of the fact that she might not want to wear the saddle.

"Hoooot!" Cal screeched loudly, reaching out with a wing to bat at the leather saddle as soon as Casper tried to sneak up closer to her. She clicked her beak a few times loudly, then flapped her wings to create a gentle breeze aimed at Casper.

Casper was befuddled. What was so wrong with Cal, why was she acting so strangely? For the first time, he thought he might have to take a different approach. "Do you not know what it is? It's a saddle. I put these straps around you, and then I can sit in here. When you fly, I'll be able to fly with you. That way, you won't have to travel in your poke ball all the time." He thought it sounded like a foolproof plan - he and Cal would be able to soar in the sky together and have even more fun that he already did training her.

Caledonia, however, was not nearly so amused, for two reasons. First, she hated touch. Casper was kind to her and had made many sacrifices for her, definitely, but at the same time his usually-sweaty palms felt too much like the palms of the poachers and everyone else who tried to hurt her in the past. Sometimes it was involuntary - she just had a knee-jerk reaction whenever she was touched, not even thinking that it might be Casper and if it was, he was not going to hurt her. She knew him well enough to know this, but still distrusted his touch. And then there was the idea of him using her as a mere mount, soaring around the sky perhaps just to show her off, and definitely increasing the potential that she would be targeted because she would be seen by more people. Was he just like the others, only using her for a status symbol? If so, he was no better than any of the rogues who tried to steal her away from him in the first place. She eyed him carefully, watching his every move, tilting her head to try to encourage him to explain himself further.

Casper, in turn, saw her give him a quizzical look. Did she want more? He resolved to explain more. "I sit in the saddle like this, and then you take off. Fly however you want... well, however will keep me alive. We can keep some things in the saddlebag here, and then we can travel much faster. Not quite as quickly as teleportation, but - " he stopped talking when he saw the look on her face. Here she was standing in front of him, a noctowl (a pokemon Casper had heard was quite prideful), and he was talking to her like she was a simple beast of burden! "Do you want to fly with me?"

Cal hadn't been expecting the question, but she answered with a tentative "Hoot." She would need more information to be satisfied that he meant well.

"I thought you'd like to fly since I feel so bad keeping you cooped up in your poke ball so much. Now that you're larger, it's gonna be harder to hide you, so I think our best bet is to go out into society together - as a team - and we can work on strength to make sure we can defeat anyone who might try to take you. No one's ever gonna take you anywhere you don't want to go again." He gave her a wide smile.

Cal puffed out her chest and stretched out her wings again, letting out a resounding "Hoooot!" to let him know how much she approved of the idea. She would never let herself get blindly defended again, nor would she tolerate any person or pokemon giving up their lives for her.

Reassured by Cal's seemingly positive reaction, he continued to speak. "It might be a bit uncomfortable at first. We'd work on it. I know you can do it, though - of that, I have no doubt at all. And the only one who will be around is me - I mean, if you're okay with that," he said, thinking back to the time he had to get rough with her pulling her away from the rogue at the Grand Festival. She had hated his touch then... and had a reaction... quite similar to what happened when he tried to touch her wing. He shuddered - had he touched her when she hadn't wanted to be petted at that particular moment? Was she so reluctant to fly... because she didn't want to spend time with him on her back? "Um... I'm... if you don't want to ride with me, that's okay. I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do, and if that includes having me ride on your back, I'll put that aside." After all, the saddle may fit an evolved Pit as well, even though it had been made specially for a noctowl.

Cal pondered his speech for a moment. He had seemed so eager to fly on her back, to soar through the air, and yet he was willing to give it up so easily? She had a feeling that she had managed to communicate her worries to him, or perhaps he had understood her on his own terms. And yet he looked so sad as he bent to pick up the saddle, dejected that he wouldn't be able to do what he wanted. Even though he clearly felt bad, he wasn't berating her or challenging her decision... he was only collecting it and starting to fold it up. And then he spoke, while he folded the leather in his tanned arms. "Never mind. I'd never make you uncomfortable on purpose." And he gave a small smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Being your friend is worth it."

Cal suddenly felt terrible. She was letting her own fears get in the way of helping Casper, something that she'd wanted to do since she was tiny! She was a noctowl, supposed to be a brave protector, and here she was, unable to do something because she was too much of a coward. That wouldn't possibly stand, especially since Casper was willing to compromise and sacrifice so much for her sake. She picked up her talon carefully, and started walking towards her handler. He didn't look up as he heard her approach, only when he saw her beak dangerously close to his arm did he react. Leaning down, she brushed against his skin - a small shudder, but she kept going - and picked up the saddle. She tossed it in the air, and tried to get underneath it before it fell. The result was a rather odd-looking noctowl with a saddle on her head.

"Erm... Cal?" Casper said, trying not to chuckle at her predicament. "What are you doing over there? Did you... did you want to give it a try?" Cal nodded, allowing the saddle to slide down her back and plop to the ground next to her. "If you want to do it properly, you'll need a bit of help there." He smiled widely as he walked over to his pokemon.

Casper's touch was gentle as he pulled the harnesses over the noctowl's body. She held herself unusually stiffly as he attached the saddlebag, stuffing his normal bag inside, and allowed him to hold onto the juncture where her wings met her body when he climbed up on top of her. "Okay, Cal, shall we give it a try?" The noctowl kicked off from the ground, beating her wings. Her flight was uneven at first, not used to the additional weight, but before long she was flying in the sky with her beloved trainer on her back.

He patted her on the head as they flew through the skies. "No one's gonna hurt you again. Not anymore." And even though Casper couldn't see it, he knew Cal was smiling.


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Caledonia picture by August! Alexander and Casper sprites by Mackay!
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