-Oh... Hello. Normally, I'm not really much of a storyteller... But... Since you're here... And you're listening to me... I guess I can tell you a bit of one about a family I know.-

_

-This story starts on a winter day... One that kids like to make a big fuss over. I remember the snow was a little heavy that year.

The tree was in the corner, decorated with tinsel and ornaments, with only a handful of presents left underneath its boughs. The weather was kinda cloudy, but considering how it's often overcast around Icirrus, I guess it was a bit of a small miracle that there was any sun at all. If you looked through the window that day, you might have been able to see windmills and Dragonspiral Tower frosted with snow in the distance.

Anyways, the family had three children, with a mom and a dad- a bit bigger than your standard video game family.*There were two boys.

The younger of the family's two boys was around five or six. I remember he was eagerly playing with a toy truck.-

"Vroom! Vroom! No mountain's a match for these tires!"

-The older boy was right on the verge of going into middle school. Being the sardonic creature he was, he made some commentary while rooting around for a final gift under the tree.-

"Uh huh... So... When should we expect that thing to get across Twist Mountain?"

-The two had a sister who was snugly between them in age. During this, she chimed in while examining a music player.-

"Well, your gift can't be that good if it was just buried under the tree like-"

-Normally, this would continue on until they got tired of arguing with each other, but that day, something else cut the normal banter short.-

"Whoa! You got me a starter?!"

-Which, naturally for the girl, when you see your sibling get something nice that you don't, leads you to jump to conclusions and say things like.-

"What?! Moooom! He's not old enough to have a Pokémon!"

-Yeah, he was the one who got to open up that ball. A run-of-the mill red-and-white, but hey, with that ribbon and polished surface, it would have been kinda hard to not get excited. Their father really seemed to be getting a kick out of the occasion. But, being a parent and having to be responsible... He was quick to make a few clarifications.-

"Heh heh... You're right, he's not. But... It's not strictly his gift. It's something your mother and I got for all of you to practice with."

-The older brother didn't exactly like hearing that.-

"Aw, come on, I can take care of it! What's another year, anyways?" -Yeah, exactly. I didn't fully get why that day played out the way it did with the red-and-white, but given how the daughter took it, I suppose I can understand.-

"... So what did you get us?"

-Though the younger brother was probably the better argument. He had an awful lot of fun with guessing what was in that red-and-white-

"A Garchomp? Oh! Oh! Or maybe it's a Tyranitar!"

-Uh... Yeah. It wasn't something that out of the ordinary... At least not for people from this town. Which the father was quick to point out, gotta keep those expectations from running too wild and all.-

"Not exactly. I chose something a bit more... Closely related to home."

-For context... You know how kids sometimes get a Lillipup or a Purrloin for Christmas or something? Well, in Icirrus, a lot of more traditional folks like to give Pokémon from around that tower in the north in their stead. Which for the kids in the same room as a purple weasel resting and playing around with its wispy fur next to the tree...-

"... Another weasel like your Mienshao?"

-Normally, a scrawny Mienfoo would have been what these kids got, but... Someone decided to be a little different.-

"I put some thought into it... But I think that you'll appreciate the gift more if you see what the Pokémon is for yourself."

-Which probably wasn't the smartest thing to say in front of his wife. After all, if the expectation is that you're going to give the kids a Mienfoo and you up and say that you're not going to... Well...-

"... Hmm? What did you get them, then?"

-It raises a few questions. Not that they were exactly on the minds of the kids the same way, especially not the littlest one's.-

"Come on! Come on! Open it already!"

"Alright! Alright!"

-And much to everyone's surprise, when the Pokémon came out of that ball, it was a blue winged hunchbacked lizard with a red head. Being drug out in the middle of winter takes a lot out of a Pokémon that needs warmth, so she was kinda drowsy.-

"Gon..."

-After she yawned and started to curl up under the tree, going in order of youngest to oldest, this is more or less how the reactions played out:-

"AWESOME!"

"EEE~ A DRUDDIGON!"

"Thanks for the Christmas present, dad!"

-Which made her open her eyes a bit more, seemingly-random excitement being kinda an impediment to resting and all.-

"Well, I was going to put her under the tree with a ribbon, but... I decided that things would be more exciting with a bit more surprise to it."

-However, not everyone was terribly enthused about getting a large carnivorous lizard added to their family.-

"Dear... I thought you were going to get them something easy to care for like a Deerling!"

-Naturally, when someone thinks that the thing you're doing is a really bad idea, you try to convince them otherwise, and say things like...-

"Now, now. A Druddigon is easy to care for..."

"... Shao...?"

-... Things that are normally not as big of of a stretch as that. I think I remember even his Mienshao was a bit flummoxed by that claim, too.

Which of course, required some clarification...-

"... For a Dragon Pokémon, of course."

"They have sandpaper hides! Why did you not get them a Mienfoo?!"

-While what the man said was certainly true... As you could tell, the wife didn't really think that much of that explanation.

I think I remember the father taking a bit of a more academic route after that. Something like...-

"... This one has a smoother hide than some others. And we have a Mienshao... Hardly the sort of Pokémon fit for children who haven't gotten licensed yet...

Besides, she's still young, a bit inexperienced. and a great representative of that tower. Why, it's practically synonymous with this town!"

-I'm pretty sure that this was the point when his wife started to register that she was going to be stuck with a blue-and-red lizard in the house.

One of the things that I'm pretty sure got passed down in the family from the dad's side was a tendency to poke gentle fun at others, since I remember him teasing his wife a bit as she protested:-

"I was under the impression that it was the windmills that were synonymous, dear..."

"Oh come now, if the kids went off on a route, would you trust them with a Deerling or a Druddigon?"

-The wife kinda got really exasperated at this point, and pointed at the Druddigon under the tree exclaiming:-

"I'd trust them with neither! Routes are closed to travelers without licenses!"

-Which is kinda confusing for a Pokémon that's kinda tired and not fully sure what's going on. I'm pretty sure that everyone that was in that room still remembers how the Druddigon poked her head out from under the tree and give it a bit of a quizzical tilt.

It was then that the husband finally pulled out his trump card: An appeal to intimacy.-

"Druddi... Gon?"

"Oh come on, it'll be a learning experience...

For everyone."

-Obviously being a 'learning experience' and all, there were bound to be a few innocent misunderstandings...-

_

-One of them happened just a couple days afterward.

The younger brother wanted to head out to play in the snow, "winter wonderlands" and all of that...-

"Heeeey! Come on! Let's play!"

-Which, for a dragon in the dead of winter, sounds about as appealing as jumping off a- ... Wait, that analogy doesn't work, but I'm sure you understand what I meant. Anyways, the Druddigon did what was most logical for her, namely give a low growl back and keep her scales planted firmly in front of that fireplace.

But... Little kids kinda are stubborn types, and the little guy started tugging at the Druddigon's arm.-

"Don't be such a lazy butt! You've been curled up in front of that fire all day already! Let's go make snow angels!"

-Which again, wasn't a terribly popular proposition for her...-

"Gon..."

-You know, seeing as she'd go into torpor if her body temperature got too low. Just a minor annoyance.

Unfortunately, the little kid didn't really take the hint and only started tugging harder at her arm-

"Come on! I said, get up- Ow!"

-At this point, the Druddigon had had quite enough, and did what any Pokémon fed up with being harried by a little kid would do. Get up, shove the little tyke to the ground, and give a loud growl to tell him to step off.-

"Meep!"

-Once again, misunderstandings, but they worked through them.
That wasn't quite the end of that incident, unfortunately. The younger brother kinda made a bit of an obnoxious and whiny appeal to his father after that. Y'know, trying to get his way with the guy who the toughest Pokémon in the house listens to and all.-

"Daddy! The Druddigon's not listening!"

-His older brother, being the font of sarcasm that he was, couldn't pass up the chance to put in a barb.-

"Good on her, I wouldn't want to listen to you either!"

"HEY!"

-Thankfully, I remember their father being a bit of a calmer type. He came right in along with that Mienshao of his. While the Mienshao tried to explain to the Druddigon that the little kid wasn't actively trying to be a little twerp, the father also did his part to try and clear things up.-

"... Erm... Why don't you try and find something to do with her indoors?"

-Which probably wasn't quite what the little boy wanted to hear then.-

"... Eh?"

-I suppose that it doesn't make sense to be too hard on him, you do a lot of stupid things when you're young. His father kinda spelled things out for him.-

"After all, a Pokémon travels along with humans because it wants to. You wouldn't appreciate someone trying to drag you off into the snow without clothes on would you?"

-Which, naturally lead him to try and compromise and still somehow try to get his way.-

"... Can't she just wear a jacket?"

-Which didn't exactly go over well with the Druddigon, seeing as she kinda picked up on what the little kid was suggesting.-

"... Druddigon?!"

-And wasn't exactly what the man had hoped for, or his Mienshao for that matter. I remember that weasel facepalming hard enough to be heard afterwards.-

"Mienshao..."

"... Again. She seems like she wants to stay warm. Surely you have something to do inside?"

-This was around the time when the little guy finally started taking the hint.-

"Well..."

-Kind of.-

_

-I still can't believe that this actually happened afterwards. He took off his winter wear, and arrayed six stuffed dolls facing off against each other in groups of three. On one end, was himself.-

"We're gonna have a triple battle!"

-And on the other end was one very lost-looking Druddigon staring at the dolls blinking.-

"... Druddigon?"

"Yeah! You line up three Pokémon, and they fight each other! The person with the last one standing wins!"

-Given that she was giving a blank stare and visibly yawning at that point, you'd think that he'd have figured out that she wanted rest.-

"Okay, I'll pick- HEY!"

-Not that her snatching up the dolls, curling up on them, and dozing off right after *left much room for confusion.-

"Those aren't pillows!"

_

-Oh yeah... There were the misunderstandings over what was supposed to be done by whom.

On a night sometime during spring, I remember the father tried to get the Druddigon to do a bit of a favor for him and his spouse...-

"Okay... We're going to need you to watch over the kids while we're out..."

-Which to her, surely sounded like nothing.*And the Meinshao would be there with her to show the ropes. Not that they would really be needed, would they?*After all, how do you screw up watching over something?-

"Druddigon."

"Think you can do that?"

-She nodded then, the first gesture that she picked up from the family, and seeing that the Mienshao seemed to indicate she was responding properly, answered with a confident tone.-

"Gon."

-Unfortunately, that's kinda where the smooth sailing ended. Seeing as the Druddigon*had just a bit of a different interpretation of*'watching over' than the father probably expected.-

"Ow!"

-Namely pushing over and sitting on top of the closest child to her, the daughter, and vigilantly watching for would-be interlopers.-

"Gon gon."

"DAAAAD! She's crushing me!"

-Yeah, she was kinda mad about that. Her older brother thought it was awfully funny, though.-

"I dunno, she's definitely putting the 'sit' in 'babysitting' here."

-The Meinshao hastily rushed over and tried to explain to the Druddigon that she had perhaps read just a little bit too much into what was asked of her.

As for the father... Well, I'm not sure if burying your face in an open palm would exactly be characterized as an 'amused' expression.-

"... Erm... Not like that. And don't do that in front of the wife, please." -Yeah, he definitely wasn't amused.-

_

-There were misunderstandings over what was okay and what was not okay to do...

There was this one incident when everyone was coming back from a corner store with some small treats.-

"... You don't think that mom and dad will mind if we eat this before dinner if we paid for it, do you?"

-Now, this wasn't the first time that any of them had made a run like this, but this time... They kinda ran into a bit of a jerk on the way home.-

"What on earth is that?"

-Some college-aged trainer with a Tranquill. Fortunately for the younger brother, he was kinda oblivious to Mr. Bird Lover's less-than-inviting tone and proudly answered back.-

"It's a Druddigon!"

-Which made the stranger's Tranquil betray a look after that. That obnoxious 'Are you stupid?' look that I'm sure everyone's had to put up with at least once in life.-

"Tran... Quill?"

-The stranger for his part wasn't exactly very inviting himself.-

"I can see THAT, but why on earth do a bunch of little kids like you have one?"

-But for the Druddigon, that was kinda irrelevant, after all, here was a Tranquill. Just sitting in front of her as the humans in the picture were preoccupied.-

"We're training it together! Isn't she awesome?"

-And like any carnivorous lizard in proximity to a plump bird, she began to sniff at the Tranquill, and move her tongue over the edge of her maw at its scent.-

"Druddi... Druddigon..."

-The Tranquill started to get unnerved, but throughout the whole thing, that feather duster maintained a defiant attitude. At this point it fanned out its wings in challenge.-

"Tranquill!"

-Unfortunately for the Druddigon, the Tranquill's trainer noticed her behavior and her intentions for his Pokémon began to dawn on him.-

"Uh... Right- Hey, what's the big idea here! Stop sniffing at him!"

-Namely to make it into dinner.

And this was the part where the Druddigon pinned the Tranquill to the ground and bit and slashed at that bird to try and turn it into her next meal.-

"Gon!"

-Which for the bird, lead to the panicked flailing and attempts to break free. You know, the basic things that you'd expect for something about to become lizard food.-

"TRANQUILL!"

-For an inattentive guy, that jerk sure registered change fast. I don't think I've ever remembered meeting another trainer reaching for a Pokéball as fast as he did. The kids were a close second since they weren't exactly expecting their friend to jump another Pokémon like that.-

"AUGH! Get that thing off of him!"

-So obviously, this was bound to not end well. Given that trained Pokémon aren't supposed to be eating other trained Pokémon and all. Unfortunately for the Druddigon...-

_

-She was kinda the one to get in trouble. And didn't get dinner out of it.

The kids' father came along shortly afterwards and tried to apologize for everything. The kids were just a bit taken aback from having to pry off their Pokémon off of some random stranger's. The feather duster was still alive, if busily cowering behind its trainer minus a few feathers...-

"Tr-Tranquill!"

-Okay, it was missing a lot of feathers. And had a few lacerations. And puncture wounds. And the Druddigon was fuming from behind the kids about being stiffed over dinner while the Mienshao played damage control with her... Again.-

"I am terribly sorry about that... She's still inexperienced being trained..."

-Yeah... Mr. Bird Lover was kinda crabby about the whole ordeal.-

"Mmrph. Some consolation that is to the trainer who almost lost a bird to that miserable lizard! Just look at what she did to his plumage!"

-On the plus side, the older brother did make a fairly memorable defense. If one that probably didn't make the situation much better.-

"That's a bad thing? That Tranquill was making me drool, too!" -Moving on from there...-

_

-There were also some misunderstandings from the other end... Especially when the whole 'revisiting homes' came into play.

Remember when I said that the Druddigon came from Dragonspiral Tower? Well, you could say that it's a bit of a common place to visit for people that live around it. Not sure whether it's the history behind the place, the fact that it's a shrine to a part of the local mythology, or just that people commonly train Pokémon from around there and don't want to make them homesick.

But anyways, those kids weren't an exception, and decided to pay a visit to the forests around the place. I mean, the inside's pretty neat and all, but something has to be said for that exterior craftsmanship, the daughter in particular was particularly impressed.-

"Wow... So this is where dad got her from?"

-The place is really, really old. And in just the right spots, like the one everyone was in back then, you can see Pokémon moving around inside, including the Golett shuffling around to and forth along the corridors. As for how old the place is...-

"Looks like it's ancient... Think it's from the sixties?"

-Er... Well, I suppose you couldn't really fault a kid barely in grade school for that. There weren't any excuses for his brother, though.-

"No, you moron. Ancient history started in the thirties."

-Let's just say the Druddigon and anyone with a half-working mind knew that it was significantly older and leave it at that.

Anyways, in the forests, you sometimes can spot little relics around. Which the Druddigon happened to run across. If I remember right, it was a small decorative pebble.-

"Druddigon!"

-I'm not sure if it was part of a frieze, a mosaic, or was some holy pebble, but it was old, and it was mesmerizingly colorful. Naturally, the older brother couldn't help but go over to pick the thing up.-

"Huh... What a neat rock."

-Which wasn't the smartest possible thing to do, as two Druddigon and a Mienfoo popped up from the brush behind right afterward and loudly growled and hissed their displeasure.

Which I suppose wasn't terribly comforting for kids, it certainly wasn't for the daughter.-

"... Uh... I think we made them angry."

-Her older brother's always been the type to get kinda snappy under pressure, which when you're busily backpedaling into the nearest tree, well...-

"Gee, I could have figured that out!"

-The younger brother's been one to try and act in the face of difficulty, even if it's in a bit of a blind panic like when you're outnumbered by angry-looking creatures.

Taking a bit of a cue from what he knew about training, he hastily attempted to command his guide:-

"Q-Quick, use Dragon-!"

-However, credit for resolving that crisis really goes to the kids' Druddigon, who roared in her charges' faces.-

"ACK!"

-And after giving them a good scare that their Pokémon had turned against them, did what most Pokémon from around that area would have done.-

"Hey! Wait, what are you-?!"

-Namely wrench the stone out from the older brother's hand, carefully set it back down where it came from, and give him a scolding.-

"Druddigon!"

-It certainly satisfied the welcoming committee. They headed off after that, if still leering back warily every now and then to make sure that the kids and their guide weren't deceiving them.

It was around this time that the kids started to register just what it was the older brother did that made those Pokémon so upset. I guess he must've found it to be fairly dumb, because he couldn't help but ask.-

"... Wait... That's what they were mad about? A stupid rock?"

-To be fair, I guess it would have been a little much to expect kids to know that the Pokémon in there guard every last flake of paint there like they would their young. It's a behavior that makes even brighter scientists scratch their head.

However, their Druddigon kinda was one of those Pokémon. And overhearing a slight over something that you too grew up caring about is... Well, something that quite understandably made her roar into the boy's face.-

"DRUDDIGON!"

"Okay! Okay! It's not so stupid! Yeesh!*Note to self, look, don't touch in here..."

-Fortunately, those misunderstandings were easy to figure out.-

_

-It wasn't all awkward, though...

We wound up finding out a lot about each other in those days. Later that spring, the little brother got into baking with his mother. I'm still kinda impressed the little squirt managed to lug that big tray around the kitchen like he did.

Which the family lizard was coincidentally resting in at the time.-

"... Druddigon?"

-She got roused up pretty quickly by the smell of the stuff on the tray, and like I'm sure you've seen curious Pokémon do before, promptly sidled up to the tray sniffing at it as the older brother walked in and also noticed some stuff on the tray.-

"What is that?"

-They were these kinda misshapen pieces of bread. I guess if you squinted hard at them enough, you could kinda make out a resemblance between them and the Druddigon. The younger brother certainly saw it.-

"It's Druddigon Bread! Mom helped me make it!"

-Which I guess seemed pretty stupid to the older brother, I mean, dragons and bread aren't normally two words that you hear in the same sentence and all.-

"... Druddigon Bread, seriously?"

"What? It seemed appropriate!"

"Druddigon eat MEAT, mor-!"

-He shut up pretty quickly after he saw the Druddigon take one of the loaves and start to eat it. The first one went down slowly and hesitantly, the others...

Well, from the way she practically inhaled the others, there wasn't a whole lot of room for confusion left.-

"... Huh. Maybe they DO eat bread, too."

-Then there was school. It really bites that Pokémon aren't allowed to mingle with their trainers freely. Not that they didn't make attempts to get around it.

There was this one time in autumn when the older brother tried to use a cardboard box to get around that for the older brother's school. And it would've worked... If it weren't for the principal making the rounds around the school halls.-

"Good morning cardboard box..."

-... They didn't really pan out, though.

In retrospect, I suppose betting on the old man not noticing a box in the middle of a hallway with a blue tail and red spikes sticking out was a bit of an unreasonable assumption. Even if he hadn't had his morning coffee.-

"... Cardboard box?"

_

-That lecture afterwards in the principal's office was surely an annoying one. For all sides of the equation.-

"-ing a Pokémon outside of its Pokéball unattended like that was EXTREMELY irresponsible, young man!"

-That 'young man' thought that episode was terminally stupid, especially since he wound up getting detention from it afterwards.-

"Why? We don't watch her every minute at home!"

-I don't fully recall the nuances of what the Druddigon felt back then, but I think she was rather lost as to why the old man was so upset about everything.-

"... Druddigon?"

-Which was something that both of them found out pretty quickly as the old man spluttered up parts of his morning coffee.-

"This is a school! Not your living room!"

_

-To be fair, there were times where Pokémon could be brought into school.

There was this one time where the older brother got to do a report about Pokémon. Kinda like a glorified show-and-tell, if with a little bit of biology worked in. Normally, you'd go up, present alongside your Pokémon if you had one, and things would go smoothly.

That day, he was keen to bring along the Druddigon. As for his report... Er...-

"My report is on Druddigon. Ahem..."

-I must say that he definitely had a good sense of drama, he highlighted his blue-and-red companion and began to read off a hastily-written report in front of the class...-

"Dusk! With an eerie forboding sensation, you hear the tread of heavy feet! Druddigon! With glowing yellow eyes, vivid red heads, and blue hides, these fierce dinosaurs prowl-!"

-Which lead to the swift and unanimous response of the classroom that:-

"DRUDDIGON AREN'T DINOSAURS!"

"Look, who's giving the report? You chowderheads, or me?!"

-There were a lot of things he could have talked about. The Sharpedo-like... There's a name for it... 'Dermal denticles'...? Anyways, we'll stick with "toothed scales" since the term eludes me. The "glowing eyes" that focus better in low light. The glands that generate gases that get lit up by weak currents for breath attacks... I think they're called 'electrogenic cells'. Something like that.

But no, that report was pretty much a cartoon drawing with fangs on it. At least he got credit for the art!-

"Gon..."

-Yeah, I'm pretty sure you would've facepalmed in front of the class like her too after a showing like that.-

_

-Of course, eventually it came time to actually get starters.

Unlike what television and video games would have you believe, most of the time, your 'starter' Pokémon is just whatever Pokémon you catch first with a license with the help of a borrowed Pokémon. It's kinda a big deal and all, when the older brother got his, he pretty much thought he was the king of the world as he walked into the family kitchen*proudly tossing a plastic and metal orb up and down*to show off to his mother.-

"Hey mom! Check out what I got for a starter!"

-She was rather curious that day. After all, it would be another member of her family, and it probably was a little on the fast side for her son to be getting a starter even after clearing formal licensing and testing...-

"Oh? A starter? What did you- ACK!"

-Much to her startled shock, the boy's choice was a magenta and green creature that was probably a bit more chitinous than she would have wanted.-

"Pretty cool, huh? Got the Venipede myself!"

-Which was probably a bit more of glory hounding than was really needed. The Druddigon certainly thought so, she WAS the one who did the hard work helping with the catch and all, and was quick to remind the boy of that with an irked grunt.-

"Druddigon!"

-For the mother, scolding her son over not giving credit where it was due was probably a bit of a secondary concern. She was fairly busy climbing onto the nearest chair and giving feedback to her son's choice of starter.-

"GET THAT THING OUT OF THE HOUSE!"

-Some choices were... Less prudent than others.

The Mienshao thought the whole incident was kinda funny, as for the Druddigon, I'm pretty sure that her expression was more or less the closest thing that a Druddigon could make to an eye roll.-

_

-Oh, right. I forgot to mention. Apparently there's something called 'Trainer's Leave' that happens around the time that kids go into middle school. It's essentially a month of journal keeping and absentee homework as kids take their shot at becoming the next League Champion.

Which for the older brother, came just a few months after getting that Venipede. His pick for a first gym was close to home, the local dugout of a gym before Brycen had retired and moved on to starring in B-Movies.

I recall that he seemed to understand the gravity of the challenge, being the first major test of training prowess and all... But that he couldn't quite decide what to make of the place as he stood outside the main gate.-

"... Druddigon?"

-And of course, the Druddigon was there too. Since only coming with a Venipede probably would have been a rather sad showing.

He was really confident that day, and the emblems of the Unova League plastered around the entrance didn't do much to really tamp down that enthusiasm much.-

"Heh. Ice gym, huh? Well, they didn't get a tower to themselves.

So let's win this thing!"

-And like many a trainer before him, he set off with his party of two, met and greeted an old man who gave him a Fresh Water for his ordeal and went in.
Sometimes, kids do some really crazy things during those breaks. But usually...-

_

-Things get bogged down pretty fast.

In the boy's case, his confidence kinda got squashed by a slab of ice pretty fast along with his accompanying Pokémon. I would presume that on his way out alone, he probably started to register just what kind of ordeal he was up against.-

"... First gyms aren't supposed to be that HARD..."

-It took all of Trainer's Leave just for him to get past Brycen! And the old codger was going easy!-

_

-Some trainers wind up taking a bit of a different approach to training. Trainers like the daughter.

She wound up getting her starter in the spring a few years after her older brother. On the day she picked up her starter, she was positively beaming, and walked into the living room to share her new companion with her father.-

"Daddy! Daddy! Look at the cute Pokémon that I got!"

-I still remember how this played out: He turned to see his daughter, expecting to see a Pokémon from the surroundings accompanying her...-

"Oh? What did you-?"

-Only to see a rather pathetic and startled-looking brown lizard in her arms. The thing had most of its head and snout covered up by some kind of bone helmet. Or at least it looked bony... They're apparently usually made mostly out of stone and clay, so who knows. The little pipsqueak was clinging onto a worn-out bone, probably scavenged from some dead thing, like its life depended on it.-

"Cu- C-Cu-"

-While the encounter was definitely a bit better than when her brother had shown off his first mon, it still took the man aback. After all, here was this strange creature that wasn't from around where his daughter said she would be off searching for a starter...

So then how did she get it?-

"... I thought that you said that you were catching Pokémon up in the north."

"I was! And I caught a Mienfoo! But then I ran into this trainer with this really cute thingy-"

-It's called 'trading'. Basically, Pokémon get swapped around and follow different trainers, take different orders. It can be an interesting experience, back then, the father's lavender companion took the opportunity to inspect the strange new member of the household.-

"... Shao?"

-Which probably wasn't what it needed, since little lizard rather visibly flinched afterwards as the father explained just what the little creature was.-

"... That's a Cubone, dear."

"Right, and he offered to trade! Isn't it adorable?"

-It was around this time that the runt began to squeak. From what I understand, it wanted to be anywhere far, far away from the strange creatures in the room that probably are fierce and frightening from the perspective of an eighteen-inch tall lizard.-

"Bone!"

-One of the things that kids get taught fairly early on is to not corner a Pokémon when it's scared. And while I guess hugging something doesn't necessarily register as "cornering" or being intimidating to the mind of a young girl, you'd think the squirming would have tipped her off like it did with her father.-

"Um, dear, you might want to set it do-"

-But by then, it was a bit late. The Cubone whacked the girl's arm, causing her to drop it as she nursed a bruise left behind that stuck around for about a week.-

"OW! It hit me!"

-While her Pokémon tumbled to the ground and made a beeline to cower behind the couch.-

"B-Bone! CUBONE!"

-Yeah... That probably could have been a better first impression for the man.-

"Oh boy..."

-Likewise for the Pokémon in the room. The Druddigon in particular was rather unimpressed by the whole debacle and gave an annoyed groan.-

"Druddigon..."

-I suppose it's understandable, though. Trading obviously can be a bit disorienting and intimidating.-

_

-For both sides of the equation, especially when you find out that those cute Pokémon are a handful to take care of.

About a month after the Cubone came along, spring was melting into summer. And the moon grew full at night. Which for those of you who have ever been around Cubone, is often a terrible time for trying to get any sleep.

For the family that lived in a little house on the outskirts of Icirrus, they too discovered that, as the creature's cries filled the house that night.-

"Argh! Why won't that stupid bonehead shut UP?! I've got an exam tomorrow!"

-The older brother was particularly aggravated by that one. After all, he made the... Erm... "Reasonable?" choice to train a mundane Pokémon from nearby the town, and here he was suffering for his sister's choice.

But such frustrations quickly gave way, or at least I hope they did, after the Cubone's crying died down and the normal quiet of night set in.-

"... Finally."

-Now, the older brother in the family may have been a bit mouthy sometimes, but he wasn't the type to just shrug things off when something seemed amiss.-

"... Hey wait a moment, that thing never quiets down THAT fast."

-And that meant getting up and making sure that his respite that night hadn't come at some unexpected cost. It was actually quite admirable... Maybe.

So anyways, he got up, and like any other kid who wants to move around in a house in the dead of night, crept down the hallway quietly towards where the earlier cacophony came from.-

"... Hello? Uh... Curses, what did she name that thing again? Are you alri-?"

-I'm not sure whether or not being answered by a low growl was reassuring or not.-*

"Gon!"

-Though if he wasn't reassured, seeing the household Druddigon curling around the form of a sniffling Cubone that was finally starting to doze off on its flank probably did the trick.-

"... Oh... Er... Thank you..."

-I imagine he must have been grateful, after all, he did get some sleep before his exam that night, or he was a bit too sleep-deprived to really care. Either way, he stuck out his hand and patted the crest of the Druddigon saying:-

"Shame we can't just ask you what's going on... You seem to understand that little bone lizard better than we can..."

-Sometimes those little headaches just require a little bit more effort than normal to get to know and befriend. Which was something that I think the boy walked away with that night as the Druddigon growled softer and began to doze off herself.-

_

-A few months after her rocky first impression with her Cubone, it came time for the daughter to try her luck too at the whole "challenging a gym during Trainer's Leave" thing.

She planned everything out so much, she'd start from Opelucid first instead of at home, and then work her way through easier gyms outward before doubling back home.

It all seemed so perfect to her, or at least someone would have surmised that if they had seen her more or less glowing in front of the gym's dark stone and dragon head statues that day.-

"Well, since someone was a moron and fought the gym he had no chance against for his first gym! We're gonna try a different one!"

-Not everyone there was quite as enthusiastic, the Druddigon in particular was fairly skeptical, and expressed as much.-

"Druddi... Gon?"

-Were she able to, I think she would've have thrown in an equally skeptical bead of sweat.

Her companions were a bit less openly dubious of their chances. The Cubone had grown more acclimated to its larger companion, and had been joined by a Deerling a short time before this challenge. In case you were wondering, no, the Deerling did not have a stint almost becoming Druddigon food, as corny as it sounds, the Druddigon had figured out the whole "friends aren't food" thing a couple of years back.

But still, the two couldn't help but trade glances to each other, the kind of "are we sure she knows what she's doing?" glances that anyone could interpret.-

"Ta-dah! Why, with this combination of cuteness and toughness, and three Pokémon instead of two, we're a shoo-in!"

-There's no way I could possibly forget when she did this...-

_

-Because it utterly sucked.

Like her older brother, the daughter similarly didn't last very long in her challenge, and left the dragon-headed building alone. She was rather taken aback by how much she underestimated her ordeal and how utterly her careful planning evaporated.-

"But I don't understand... Dragon Claw was supposed to be super effective!"

_

-What's that look supposed to mean? The story isn't done. And I'll tell you how I know about it later! Sheesh! Haven't you ever heard of pacing?

Though that is more or less how that early part of their lives went...-