AN: Inspired by some co-op Subspace, just some drabblefluff with a couple of my favourite Brawlers. Can be shippy if you like, otherwise friendship. Enjoy!
Link just can't understand it.
He has travelled so far, over so many fields and through countless forests, villages, mountains. Across rivers and seas, in and out of temples, castles and caves. Anywhere you could think of, Link has been there. And no matter where he has gone, be it house pets or livestock or the occasional wild woodland creature, he has always found himself bonding easily with animals. Having once experienced being an animal himself he knows better than most how they determine which humans are safe, and which are to be avoided, suspected. Though that isn't to say he fully understands what makes him, what makes Link, so attractive to them- that is something he's never understood. But when he thinks about it, and especially when he thinks of his loyal Epona, he has always been grateful for their trust in him and the affection they have always shown him.
Here, in this makeshift Chao garden off the main Brawl training grounds, Link somehow feels entirely out of his depth. These creatures, these Chao- they are animals, aren't they? They are certainly akin to animals, albeit a strange shape and rather more childlike than your average cat or dog.
A soft tone and beckoning palm were always enough when simply kneeling beside the animal in question was not sufficient. Petting and playing a certain song have also helped on occasion, though the latter occurrences in particular have been rare. But here, here in this garden, Link finds himself at a loss. The grass on which he played the familiar song apparently made no difference at all, and whenever he attempted to come closer to the strange blue creatures, they just toddled away from him, too deliberately for them to be oblivious.
Why don't they like him?
Link really cannot understand what he is doing wrong, and it bothers him greatly as he sits against the trunk of a palm tree, watching a group of Chao dance and sing around the other guest in the garden.
Do not worry yourself so. It takes a while for Chao to build up trust.
The Pokémon's voice is warm and soothing in Link's mind, as usual, and when he looks over Lucario is smiling at him from across the garden. They are unused to humans. If you spend more time here, they will gradually come over to you.
The Chao, all ten of them, are crowded around Lucario in a tightly packed circle. Some are trying to climb on his thighs from where he sits cross-legged by the rockpool, and one has already made its way onto his shoulder, likely aiming for the spot on his head between his long ears. They chirp their sweet, unintelligible babble at him, and Lucario pets each little blue head in turn, careful to avoid the yellow bubbles bouncing around above them. They adore him, and have in fact been adoring him for the last ten minutes.
Link watches the little sky blue puddings sing at Lucario, reach for him, rub up against his fur. The long blue tail belonging to Lucario swings and curls around in bliss behind him, and his red eyes slide shut, that happy smile still on his lips as he relishes in their affection. The puddings continue to indulge Lucario, and Lucario returns the gesture with petting and a serene, friendly rock for them to climb on and play with.
Link says nothing in reply to Lucario's reassurance, though he does keep his eyes on them, watching the Pokémon's movements, observing his methods, the way his tail curls, and he's sure Lucario is making some sort of purring sound over there which Link is quite sure he has never heard before, since when was Lucario so...affectionate?
It reminds him suddenly of sunny days in Ordon, grooming Epona before heading out to herd the goats. It would be nice to see her again. He suddenly feels as though he does not give Epona enough attention, watching Lucario and the Chao's happy interactions as he is now.
It makes the Hylian a little jealous, though when he thinks about it, he's not sure who he's more jealous of, and then he has to close his eyes and nestle back a bit further against the trunk and not think about it anymore. If they need time, then perhaps a nap is in order.
It's a subtle movement accompanied with a simple, nonchalant answer, which Lucario can see and hear only through his sense of aura. The black sensors on the back of his head rise, and then he feels the touch of heat on Link's face likely before Link has even realised he is blushing. In fact, within seconds of sitting there beneath the cool shadow of the palm leaves and in the warm safety of the Chao garden, Link has fallen asleep, and Lucario continues to observe him through aura while keeping the chirping Chao occupied.
A few long and quiet minutes pass. When Link next opens his eyes, awoken by the touch of something soft on his leg, Lucario is now kneeling beside him. Only a couple of Chao followed him over to his human friend, one clinging to his thigh, one on his head, and both of them stare silently at Link with wide, alert eyes.
Link does not start, but he does wonder why the Pokémon moved, and how long he has been asleep for. And in fact, why Lucario's paw is on his leg.
We may be friends, he says, but that does not mean you are prohibited from petting me as well if you would like. It must be hard being away from Epona.
This does make Link start, though only slightly. Normally Lucario detests being treated as someone's pet, and has complained hundreds of times about the way Samus babies Pikachu. Sometimes, though, Link cannot help wondering if maybe Lucario is jealous of the attention Pikachu gets from her, but the Pokémon has never mentioned missing anyone before, or having any trainer to return to once the tournament is over.
He remembers the cold and distant figure who had initially separated himself from the other Pokémon, preferring to keep his space, and conversed with the other Brawlers only when required. It had taken Link a long time to find friendship in Lucario, but he had turned out to be loyal, kind and warm, and had been the only person so far to introduce him to the Chao garden, and to the delights of animal comforts.
He does not want to overstep his boundaries, having been so careful with Lucario until now. Like gaining Epona's trust all over again, it has taken time to come this far.
Cautiously, and while watching Lucario carefully the entire time, Link gradually extends his left hand. Lucario's left ear twitches a bit only in anticipation, but it makes him hesitate.
It is okay, Link, I promise. Lucario continues to sit there, watching, patiently waiting, tail swaying slowly behind him. Coaxed by the look of soft fur and gentle, honest words, Link reaches out and, still cautiously, begins to pet that very ear.
In the quiet Chao garden, with the babbling puddings and the gentle breeze, Lucario purrs at his first human petting, and Link smiles to himself, happy that the Chao allowed him creature comforts after all.