Hallow sighed. She was tired, the stress of having the legendaries on the island along with the cleanup had been getting to her. The vague memories of what had happened in the castle weighed down on her heavily, but she didn’t know what had happened. There was a black mist where there should have been memories, and it unnerved her to the core that she had attacked, and tried to kill, a cat but could not recall the event itself.
She blinked as a door appeared before her. She hadn’t even realized that she had entered the Ranger Station. The Head Ranged blinked a few times as she looked at the door for a few moments. This was Aire’s room. Her friend had helped see her though plenty of things through their time together.
Hallow often wondered if she had done the same for the flying type.
She shook her head and decided that some time with her friend would help sort the mess of thoughts and feelings she was having.
The dark she poke gave a light tap to the wood and called out, “Aire? Are you in here? May I come in?”
A rush of feathers could be heard as Aire came to the door and poked her head out playfully, “Hey Hallow!” She was twittering and smiling just as gleefully as normal. “Of course you can come in!” she swung the door open with her wing and then leapt backwards onto her bed, making several objects sprawled out on her blanket bounce.
Hallow gave a smile to the flying type. “Thanks.”
“How are you?” Her normal casual behavior wasn’t enough to cover what she’d been up to. Aire had taken down some of her childish crayon drawings that had accumulated over the summer and her dress was folded neatly over the back of her desk chair. The window was closed and its curtains were drawn. This room was much too clean and the food on top of her blanket was more than the bird could possibly think to eat in one sitting. Food, some flasks of water, a lamp, matches, a poncho, journal, and a pen…
Hallow moved her form into the room and looked around in surprise. Her answer to the question the other cat was more automatic than truthful. “I’m good.” The duel type’s yellow eyes scanned the room curiously.
It was too clean for her liking. Her eyes drifted back to the bed where Aire was sitting. The fact that the drawings were gone also unsettled her.
There had been enough change as it was.
She tilted her head and took note of all that was on the bed with her friend, more so at the amount of food that was compiled there. Her gaze shifted again to the winged cat. “Aire? What’s going on?” There was confusion in her voice and a small, almost unnoticeable, tint of fear.
“What’s going on? Hm… well...” Aire rocked back a little, lifting her paw to her mouth in contemplation. “Groudon’s making the new islands. The trainers have been leading the recovery effort for the pokecat bodies we found in the castle dungeon. The Villagers are harvesting. Rangers are cleaning up the island and uh.” She flicked her wing at the curtains, her voice slightly higher. “… and it’s really cold and windy outside.” Her feathers shivered slightly as she thought about the chill running through them. Pawing at the berries on her blanket she continued, “… and uh…” She started to avoid Hallow’s gaze, “I’ve been sticking around ‘cause everything was a mess but things seem to be getting better now and…” She gave in to Hallow’s eyes and looked up at them; her expression was reminiscent of a bird in a cage, a longing to be free. When she searched for the words to say what she was intending to do, she couldn’t find them. “oh Hallow…” She chirped quietly, as if her friend could understand the intent of her heart; simply understand so those words she was looking for wouldn’t have to be said. Those painful words.
Confusion fluttered in her eyes as Aire listed off what was going on around the island. She knew all of this. She knew it so well she would have rattled off each item in more detail. She knew how Groudon was bringing the new islands, knew what Rangers were assigned to what clean up job, what bodies had been brought back from the castle. The information was of things she knew already. Why would Arie answer like that?
And there was the click.
‘She doesn’t want to say it.’ The thought went through Hallow’s mind quickly, bouncing off the walls like a pinball. What could be so bad that Aire couldn’t get the words out? The darker cat could see something in the other’s eyes. It was an emotion, or something close to it. It was familiar and she could feel a tug within her. She felt that she knew what it was, was it something like longing? But what-
“I’ve been sticking around…” The voice of her friend faded out. The rest of her words were lost to Hallow and all that she knew was that Aire still had not told her what it was. But she knew. Hallow knew, but didn’t want to.
And Hallow shut down, going onto an analytical mind set.
Food. A lot of berries of different kinds, other supplies one would pack of a long trip.
Supplies that Aire would need for a long trip.
Hallow sat down. Her eyes refocused once again. She tried to blink but her muscles felt frozen. The fire type faintly registered tears dripping from her face. Something like sorrow drummed through her veins, it seemed familiar to her but she couldn’t quite place when she had felt it, or why.
Her jaws parted but she couldn’t find the words to say. She could feel the emotions and knew what she wanted to say, and how she wanted to say it but the actual words would not come. Her head dropped so that her nose pointed to the ground.
So she settled for the only way she could think to convey her thoughts and feelings.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Her voice was soft as she spoke. As if it was ready to break under the words she was letting out. Her eyes were still damp but the flow of tears had lessened. She looked back up to Aire and tilted her head a slight amount.
Aire sniffled, holding back tears, “right” she choked, stepping down from her bed, “I realized when we were in the castle how much I missed it… adventuring I mean.” Her wings curled around her slightly as a cheerful emotion swept her face, “Ever since then I haven’t been able to sit still and I can see that things are going to be fine now for a while.”
Breathing deeply, she was losing her composure a bit, but the sorrow of parting in her eyes had elation as its companion. “…and it’s not like I’m leaving without a purpose. I remembered something a while back, a couple months before everything got so serious. My mom lived on Pokepaw Island but her family was this migratory flock that passed through town twice a year, so I think if I went and found them I could finally get to meet them and I can have a family again.”
She pulled the chandelure in for a wing-hug, “but know, even though I’m telling you all this stuff, you’re not my cage Hallow. I’m not leaving because I need to get away from poke’s, I love my friends here and I’m gonna miss you guys an awful lot so you can count on me coming back. All I need is some time to stretch my wings, promise.” A curt sigh left her before she continued, “I would have planned this out better and given you more of a heads up if we hadn’t have been in a crisis. I almost gave up on the whole trip but the winter storms haven’t rolled through quite yet and I think I could still make it but even if I can’t catch up to them I can at least escape the… cold.” She stuck out her tongue slightly at the drawn blinds.
A sad smile found its way onto Hallow’s face. Even though she wanted to press her ears back she forced them to remain up and forward so she could catch the words of her friend. She didn’t want to miss anything that passed between them.
She let loose a shaky breath, one that seemed to carry sorrow from her form, releasing it into the air to dissipate and be forgotten. She lifted her head to look Aire in the eyes as she spoke. In them she could see the truth and emotions in her words. There was a reflection of who her friend was in those eyes. A free spirit that was strong all the way to the core, happy and willing to help no matter the risk.
The she poke looked away as Aire continued on, telling her that she was not the cage. Had she thought that? Deep down Hallow knew she had felt she was holding Aire here, and a small fear had rooted itself in here. The words took that fear away as quickly as a bolt of lightning.
Hallow blinked rapidly as she was wrapped in one of Aire’s wing hugs. How many times had she been comforted by this cat? How much had she come to rely on Aire to help her? She couldn’t find the answers to the questions. But one thing was clear in her mind. Aire needed to find what was left of her family, be a part of something that was bigger than the life on this island.
She almost laughed at the mention of how much the flying type hated the cold. She had memories of Aire groaning when the first snow came last year. If anything, Hallow understood not liking the cold, and she could only guess how much worse it would be on a flying type.
With a sigh she leaned into Aire. “You’re going to need more food.”