A crack of thunder overhead startled a Drifloon as he gathered plump, juicy pecha berries from bushes in an overgrown field. He jumped and peered up at the sky: it had been blue just moments before, but now dark grey clouds were crowding in.
"Oh dear," rumbled the Drifloon in a deep voice. He pulled a handkerchief over the basket of berries he carried in one string, then he started for home. . . slowly. The berries weren't the only plump things in the field, and this Drifloon had a hard time moving quickly.
The Drifloon, whom the other Pokémon called "Round," was still drifting a good five minutes from his home when the rain started. He felt the first cold drops hit his round cheeks, then they started soaking into the small puff of hair on his top. It was a very small puff for his size, and it looked even smaller once it was drenched with rain. Round wasn't concerned with his appearance though; he only wanted to get his harvest home safely.
But then a sound made him stop. At first Round wasn't sure he had heard it, especially with the thunder growing louder. . . but the noise came again. If there was one sound a Drifloon could pick out anywhere, it was the cry of another Drifloon. This one was a very small and faint squeak, but it was still unmistakable.
Round looked down at the now-wet handkerchief on his berry basket, but he didn't debate long. He set down the basket and turned towards the source of the cry, a large and rambling berry bush. Using his puffy, heart-shaped hands, Round pushed aside the branches.
"Hello?" he called. "Where are you?" There was no answer in words, but he heard another sad squeak from close by. Round moved one last, leafy branch, and found the squeak's owner.
It was the tiniest Drifloon he had ever seen. Tiny, as Round immediately thought of him, was only as large as the center of the yellow X on Round's wide face. Two thin strings emerged from the little Drifloon's lavender body; these were coiled tightly around a branch. Even so, Tiny's body was buffeted cruelly by the wind, and he squeaked every time he came close to blowing away.
"Hang on, little guy!" Round cried, horrified at the idea of the tiny Drifloon being blown helplessly into the sky. Round wrapped one of his own strings around Tiny's "neck" and cupped his other hand over the little creature's head.
"Okay, you can let go of the branch," said Round. "I've got you!" Tiny squeaked again and looked up at him with fear in his beady black eyes, but Round smiled down at him. "Don't worry! I'll take you someplace safe!" Still Tiny hesitated, but then he untwined his strings from the branch and wrapped them around Round's string instead.
Round tried to shelter the tiny balloon with his own bulky body as he scooped up his basket and started on his way again. He hurried as much as he was able, leaving him puffing for breath by the time he reached his home: a cave set into a rocky cliff face. The entrance was nearly invisible, just a small opening-- but it was big enough for Round to fit inside. He coaxed the nervous Tiny in first, still holding tightly to the small balloon; then Round fit his much larger body in, followed by the berry basket.
The entrance opened on a small tunnel, lit by a mirror mounted on the ceiling at the tunnel's end. With the sun hidden by clouds, this only gave off a dim light. Round wasn't concerned though; he had lived in this home for years, and he knew every rock by touch. Tiny gave a worried squeak, but the larger balloon just squeaked back in a comforting tone.
The tunnel ended in a vertical drop of a few feet; another mirror at the bottom of this shone what light there was into the cave. Round floated down the drop then released his hold on Tiny when they were safely away from the wind and rain. A tidy fire pit lay at the bottom of the drop, near the mirror, but Round only lit fires in the winter. Now, he just lit a lamp to supplement the mirror's illumination.
Tiny looked around the small cave, his squeaks finally quieting. Round led a simple life; he had a soft nest made of shed Drifloon fluff and Silcoon silk, but there was no furniture in the cave. Instead, Round used rocks for table and chairs. One nook surrounded by stalagmites was filled with Round's store of food. He even had a water source thanks to a little spring of mineral water.
The little Drifloon finished his examination of Round's home; then he turned back to the rotund Drifloon and squeaked in gratitude. Round smiled across his X, until he noticed that Tiny was shivering.
"Here, let's dry off. . . ." Round set his berry basket aside and went over to a stack of linens he kept, mostly towels and handkerchiefs. After selecting his fluffiest towel, Round wrapped it around Tiny and dried the little balloon off until his rubbery skin squeaked. Round ruffled Tiny's little puff of hair with the towel, then dried himself as well. However, Tiny shivered even after he was dry.
"Are you still cold?" Round asked.
"Y-yes," stammered the little creature. To a human being, the word would have only sounded like more squeaking, a soft "floon" noise. However, Drifloons and other species of Pokémon could understand it as actual speech.
Round fretted, "Oh, I hope you aren't getting sick. . . . Maybe this will warm you up!" He scooped up Tiny and laid him in the comfortable nest, tucking some of the fluff around him and covering him with a handkerchief-- which was just the right size to be a sheet for Tiny.
Tiny looked up at Round and squeaked softly, "Thank you."
Round hung up his own wet handkerchief and the towel before setting aside the basket of berries in the area where he kept his store of food. As he worked, he asked, "Do you have a name, little guy?"
"No." When Round turned back to his guest in surprise, he found the little balloon watching him with a somewhat sad expression. He explained, "No one ever gave me one."
"Oh. . . well, I'm Round! That was my nickname when I was a kid, and it just stuck," said the large Drifloon, settling down on the floor beside the nest. He looked down at his guest, for whom he felt quite sorry, and asked, "Can I call you Tiny? Since you're the smallest little Floon I've ever seen!"
"Okay. I'm the smallest Drifloon I've ever seen, either." Tiny smiled slightly, which made Round feel much better, then continued, "I'm too small to keep up with any of the flocks I come across, and I always blow away in storms. I was trying so hard to hold on this time, because this seemed like a nice place. . . but if you hadn't found me, I don't think I would have lasted much longer."
"Well, I'm too fat to keep up with the other Drifloons," admitted Round, "but I can hold my own in a storm!" He thought a moment then suggested, "How about you stick with me? I get pretty lonely, so I'd like the company. And I could keep you from blowing away!"
Tiny's beady black eyes widened. "You. . . you mean it? No one's ever wanted me around before. I'll help you any way I can, and-- and I won't take up much room, I promise!"
Round chuckled, "I'm sure you won't." He reached out a hand carefully, and when Tiny didn't draw back, Round patted him on his puff of hair. "Just look around here, I've got plenty of space! There's always more than enough food too, so I'm happy to share." The talk of food reminded Round that it was getting on toward dinner time, so he asked, "Hey, would you like something to eat?"
"Oh, yes please!" squeaked Tiny as he clambered out of the nest. "I'm a lot warmer now too. You have a very nice nest."
"I've worked hard on it!" Round took down a few of the berries he had picked that day; then he started to slice some cheese off of a wheel he had bought over in Floaroma Town. "Have you ever had a nest, Tiny?"
"Not really. I usually make a small one each night by curling up some grasses, but it's not anything like your nest," Tiny said as he watched the larger Drifloon scoop up two mismatched teacups of cool water from the spring. Round placed the berries and cheese on the middle of a flat rock, then set a cup of water on each side.
As Tiny drifted over to the makeshift table, Round went on, "Well, you can make your own nest here if you want. There's plenty of fluff! Or if you'd rather, you can just share mine." He chuckled and assured Tiny, "I don't move much in my sleep, so I won't squash you, I promise."
Tiny chirped with laughter. Although Round could sit on the floor to eat off of this particular rock, Tiny was too small even to see over its edge. Noticing the little Drifloon's dilemma, Round scooped him up and deposited him right on the "table." The tea cup was also too large for Tiny to lift, so he leaned over and sipped off the rim. Round made a mental note to look for a smaller cup in Floaroma Town's shops the next time he visited.
"This is really delicious. Do you find these berries around here?" Tiny gnawed on one of the Pecha berries, which was almost as large as he was.
"Oh yes, right out past where I found you. You were right; this is a nice area to live. Of course there's more food now in the late summer than there will be in a couple months, but if we store up some food during the harvest season, we'll have plenty for the winter." Round popped a whole berry in his mouth and chewed it up before taking a bite of cheese. "I also buy some stuff like this cheese over in Floaroma Town-- it's the nearest settlement. I make a little money by selling the extra berries I pick, so I can afford some delicacies."
"I can help you pick berries!" Tiny squeaked with excitement at finding a way to earn his keep. "Because I'm so small, I can get down in the bushes where you can't reach, then pass the berries out to you!
Round rumbled, "That's a great idea! I think we'll make a wonderful team, Tiny."
After they finished their dinner, Round showed Tiny the few, special treasures he'd found or bought over the years and tucked away in his cozy home. Then they sat and talked until the hour grew late, each telling the other about his life and adventures. By the time they were ready for bed, both Drifloons felt as if they'd known each other for years.
Tiny decided to sleep in a lower corner of Round's nest, and he shaped the fluff and silk there into a little nest of his own. Once he burrowed down into it and pulled up his handkerchief sheet up, the little Drifloon looked perfectly comfortable. In fact, he was asleep before Round even had time to arrange his own bedding. Round chuckled to himself and snuggled down into bed.
"I guess you've had a long day, little guy," he mumbled to his sleeping new friend. "But now things are looking up for both of us. Sweet dreams, Tiny."