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Deli's Delivery Service: Extended Cut (One-Shot)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by NebulaDreams, Dec 6, 2018 at 2:13 PM.

  1. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Hello! This is an updated version of Deli's Delivery Service with expanded story content, tweaked character elements and tighter prose. I initially wrote this for the Christmas season last year, when the Yuletide fic trade was going on last, although I didn't participate in that one. I was pleased with the response it got, especially in regards to the worldbuilding and characterization, but I felt like I could've expanded more on a few things, especially the ending, which was a bit rushed. Plus, rewriting it gave me the chance to tie it into The Curious and the Shiny, as Deli is set to make a cameo later on in that story.

    Summary: Deli the Delibird thought he'd spend the winter holidays with his retired trainer in peace, but as the Yuletide rush comes along, he's called back into action for the Postmon Service, where he must either deliver people's presents in time or be punished and forced to spend Yuletide alone without his family.

    [​IMG]

    The last thing on Deli the Delibird’s mind was to break out of the comfort of his trainer’s bedroom, especially when it approached Yuletide, of all things.

    It had everything he needed and more: a pellet dispenser to feed himself twice throughout the day, a water cooler he and his trainer Perry shared, a bed of his own he was slightly too big for, and the company of Perry himself, at his side to play video games with, even if his lack of hands didn’t give him much control over the gamepad. Nevertheless, the two spent each day in that room, interrupted every so often by Perry’s mother who’d come in with his dinner, increasingly annoyed with each passing day. Deli wouldn’t have it any other way. Or so he thought.

    And so, that special day started like any other. Deli huddled next to Perry, sharing the same blanket as he watched him play on the handheld gaming device Deli could never remember the name of, as he faced off against another player in the region. He always found it fascinating what human technology was capable of, uniting others from all over the world. If only there was something like that designed for Pokemon like him in mind.

    Perry was down to his last Pokemon, outmatched by the other opponent who still had four to spare. Deli paid no attention to the strategy of the game, as he used to when Perry was still active, and simply focused on the two health bars at the top. The enemy’s Pokemon attacked with a Hyper Beam, and Perry’s life bar depleted in one fell swoop.

    Before the last Pokemon fainted, Perry closed his device and threw it against the bedspread.

    “What a scrub! That win was just a fluke; all he did was spam his most powerful moves!”

    Perry turned to Deli, showing red angry spots all over his face.

    “You saw that, didn’t you? He killed me with one hit!”

    He nodded, not wanting to rock the boat, or so the humans called it.

    “Total noob!” Perry flung the blanket out of Deli’s reach and jumped out of bed, wrapping it around him like a gown. He peeked through the curtain of his window, casting a white light into the otherwise lamplit room and grumbled.

    “All this snow sucks,” he said. “Wish it would go away, not that it gives us an excuse to go out, huh?”

    Deli didn’t answer. He plonked out of bed and waddled to the other side of the room, weaving through empty crisp packets, soda cans and dirty socks, and tried to reach up to the windows with his flippers, but the sill was slightly out of his range.

    “You wanna see?”

    Perry grabbed hold of Deli and slowly lifted him up to the viewpoint, grunting all the while.

    “Oof, when was the last time we measured you?”

    He tugged at his side, kneading a paw-load of body fat. Due to his lack of knowledge on speaking the human tongue, he couldn’t answer, but he remembered the last time he had to go for a check up at the Pokémon centre, which was a season ago.

    “Doesn’t matter, I’m no stud myself.”

    He shrugged and stared out into the snow topped Lumiose City. Aside from the usual sight of the tower that stood proudly from the rest of the buildings, the streets were packed with trainers and their Pokémon as they scrambled to get the last of their Yuletide presents. Some trainers exited shops overloaded with bags of various knick knacks while their Pokémon carried the rest, and others stopped to put them inside their spacious bags, stuffing bikes, TVs and many other huge presents into what Deli concluded was a wormhole that led to a different dimension.

    The sky was just as populated. Various Postmon of different shapes and sizes carried backpacks with them and gracefully glided in and out of the city to deliver parcels. Wingull, Pelliper and even Dragonite soared through the air, plus many other flying Pokémon that flocked together in teams. After a while, Deli tuned out, ignoring the presence of Perry who clicked away at his desktop.

    It had also been a season since he last delivered a parcel as part of the Postmon service. Although he was still technically part of the staff, he had no obligation to complete any task given to him unless his trainer was desperate for supplies in return, which never happened since he never went out anymore. The anklet beeped occasionally, but only with a non-urgent yellow flash, so for all he knew, it gathered dust in the kitchen, and didn’t even know why they kept it for so long when it wasn’t needed. Once red, however, every Pokemon involved was required to head to the office for instruction, but that never happened. He wasn’t sure if he missed being a part of the service, but he wasn’t keen to find out.

    “Hey,” Perry said, “Some people are having trouble getting their stuff delivered on time.”

    Deli cocked his head at Perry, who turned to read from the screen.

    “‘The Yuletide rush is almost at an end. As customers rush to buy their last minute gifts, there’s been an unexpected spike in orders recently, to the point that Postmon services around the region are understaffed. As a result, many have experienced delays of up to three days for deliveries, which means some might not get their presents delivered in time for the day.’”

    Perry shrugged.

    “Sucks to be them, I suppose.”

    Footsteps tapped outside the room, accompanied by a faint beeping noise, filling Deli’s tummy with dread. He convinced himself it was a fluke at first, but the closer they got, that unmistakable noise rang through the walls of Perry’s room, until finally, the door swung open. Perry’s mother entered, exhaling as she held out the flashing-red anklet in her hand.

    “Mom,” Perry whined, “Knock first, please!”

    “Oh enough, Perry!” she snapped. “Deli, this is for you!”

    She approached Deli and buckled the beeping pager onto his leg, which stopped with a click.

    “Sorry, just had to turn that off,” she said with that warm smile of hers. “But at least now, you’ll have something to do, huh?”

    “Mom, he doesn’t wanna do anything!” Perry said, turning from his desktop. “He hasn’t been out for weeks, and he’s fine here, and besides, it’s Yuletide! I don’t want him missing out!”

    Her cheery facade dropped, and she turned to slap Perry’s shoulder.

    “Well, you’re not doing either of you any good by sitting on your ass, playing your Game Boy all day.”

    “Mom, it’s a DS, not a--”

    “Whatever, just come downstairs and help me with the shopping, alright?”

    “But Mom! I wanna stay up here!”

    “Yeah, and I want a son that’s carrying on his training, and that hasn’t worked out, so move it. Now let me talk to Deli.”

    Perry’s scowling face softened, and he slunk his way out the door, giving Deli a sad smile before disappearing down the stairs. Deli stood on the mattress, stiff as a frozen statue. His mother hadn’t said anything like that to him for months, but she somehow got him out of his room. Something warm spread inside him as she went to stroke his beak.

    “Now’s your time to shine. I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. It’s just not right, seeing you cooped up in here, but whatever.” She opened the window, letting the cool draft in. “Let’s hope you can keep it up after this, huh?”

    That feeling of dread returned as he remembered the situation he was in. He didn’t know if he could fly after such a long period of inactivity. The distance wasn’t the problem as he only needed to fly for ten minutes to the post office, but his weight concerned him. Nevertheless, Deli waddled to the edge of the window and expanded his wings, which felt heavy, as if held down by lead weights.

    “Good luck.”

    Deli leapt off, expecting the wind to carry him, but instead, he dropped in altitude and headed straight for the ground below. His weight no longer supported his ability to glide, and he plummeted mere inches away from becoming pavement pizza. With one desperate push, he flapped his wings and elevated himself slightly above the ground. He gave several more pushes and he was up in the air again. The more he pushed however, the harder it was to breathe so he kept at a low altitude slightly above the crowd of busy shoppers and headed for the edge of the city at the North Boulevard.

    When Deli arrived at the post office, he fell into a bed of snow. His lungs felt as if they would collapse in on themselves, or that his wings would snap off if he tried to move them again. He ignored the passers-by and waited until he caught his breath to enter the building.

    Deli weaved through the long line that snaked in from the cold outdoors into a very long hallway with only a few humans behind the counters. Everyone at the front of the line quarrelled with the staff about their missing package, sometimes threatening them with their Pokémon, and once they left in a huff, the cycle continued with the next person in line. It always amazed him how angry some humans could be when things happened beyond their control, but that thought left him as he recalled where he’d need to check in.

    He only needed to enter the back room from the side of the queue and meet the Chief Postmonster but he still didn’t have a clue about why he was sent there in the first place after so much inactivity. Since it was sink or swim, however, he took a deep breath and entered the office.

    The room, as he remembered it, was filled to the brim with packages in one end and many different Postmon taking them out and exiting out the other, through a large opening for all of them to fit through that faced Route 14. In the middle of the chaos was the Chief Postmonster of Lumiose City, Donovan the Dodrio, each three heads barking orders in three distinctive voices at the same time.

    Deli’s heart pounded as he joined the line. Would he even recognise him, and if so, how badly would he chew him out? Best case scenario: he wouldn’t remember and he would let him off the hook, or he would encounter the side nicknamed Chill Don instead. But the anklet never forgot those who skipped on a red warning so the worst case scenario probably would’ve involved being fed to his Doduo children, if he had any.

    After five minutes of waiting, he was second in line behind a Goodra that left a trail of slimy footprints.

    “Hello Treacle!” Chill Don said, “Sure is a busy day! Sorry you had to come out on such short notice!”

    “Naw, naw, not to worry!” Treacle said, “Ain’t much happening where I’m from anyway!”

    “Fair enough. Turn around, please.”

    Treacle turned, almost whipping Deli in the face with her tail, and Chill Don placed various packages into her customised backpack, then zipped it up with his beak.

    “Take this to that house at the top! Don’t get possessed on the way!”

    “I’ll try not ta!” Treacle tipped her blue cap to Donovan and swiftly turned to the exit, giving Deli a face full of spine. He fell on his back and desperately flailed on the floor, trying to get up but not knowing how, he looked rather pathetic.

    “Move it,” A Pidgeot called.

    “I, I can’t!” Deli cried, “Help me!”

    A beak clamped down on Deli’s arm and tossed him into the air. Deli landed on his feet, not hurt in the slightest with the only injury being wounded pride. The culprit only left a path of goo in her wake.

    “Move. It.”

    The Pidgeot prodded Deli’s back, pushing him forward into the front of the queue. He stepped into Treacle’s slime pile on the way and winced.

    “Why hello!” Chill Don said. “I don’t think I know your name!”

    Deli looked down at his feet, still covered with gunk.

    “A-actually, it’s...”

    “Oh!” Chill Don interrupted, “Donovan might know! Wait right there!”

    Chill Don turned to the two of his other heads, chatting back and forth so quickly that Deli couldn’t tell which head was talking. Then, all three heads faced him; not only Chill Don, but Dangerous Don and Ennui Don as well.

    “Oh, you’re Deli,” Ennui Don said. “You gained a lot of weight. Wonderful.”

    “Fatty, more like!” Dangerous Don said. “I thought you would’ve turned in your anklet by now! Not that you have any choice in the matter since you’re here!”

    “I, I,” Deli struggled to counter Dangerous Don, the side of Don he had trouble with the most.

    “Listen, Fatty! We need you to drop these packages in Santalune City to this door stop, chop chop!”

    All three beaks turned Deli around and placed various cube shaped objects into his tail. After they were done, the tail took up almost as much space as his body did.

    “Now move out, on the double!"

    “Wait!” Deli said. “I, I can’t fly all the way to Santalune City! I couldn’t fly to Bleu Plaza to here without running out of breath!”

    The three chuckled in three different tones, one jovial, one boisterous and one sarcastic sounding.

    “Oh, that’s no big deal!” Chill Don said. “You can take breaks if you want to on the way, you’ve got plenty of time!”

    “But if you don’t deliver these by closing time at six o’clock tonight, you’re in for a pecking!” Dangerous Don said.

    “Such a huge burden to take on,” Ennui Don said. “With all these other Postmon travelling half the region to get these presents in on time, your plight is the worst of all.”

    “But, why can’t someone like Pidgeot at the back do it? Why me of all Pokémon?! I’d just be a burden!”

    “You talkin’ about me, fatso?” Pidgeot said, beak upturned. “Everyone here plays their part tonight. You’re not special. I’ve got enough to deal with!”

    “Have a little more faith in yourself!” Chill Don said. “Besides, you could use a little workout!”

    “Yeah, yeah, hurry it up, will you?” Dangerous Don said, “We’ve got other Postmon here waiting on you!”

    “It would be terrible if you were to mess up,” Ennui Don said.

    “Best of luck!” All three crowed.

    [​IMG]

    Defeatedly, Deli flapped his wings and slowly took off. Most of the slime from his feet had dried off, but as he flew at a lower altitude than most other Postmon, he ended up kicking the faces of those a lot taller than him. They shouted as he left Lumiose City with a heavy heart and an even heavier load, into the bitter winter winds.

    Once he was out, Deli had to traverse the length of Lumiose again just to face Route 5. Before he left Lumiose for good, he perched onto one of the lowest shop roofs by South Boulevard and collapsed on the stony floor.

    Everything had happened so suddenly. The one minute, he was lazing in his room with Perry, the other minute, he was being shouted at by a boss he hadn’t seen in a season. The events of the past half hour played over and over again in his head while he regained his strength, and the longer he waited, the bigger the pit in his stomach became. He bashed his wings against the stone. If he stood up to Dangerous Don, he probably could’ve avoided this situation, but there he was, shivering on a roof, slightly hungry and set to complete a job he wasn’t supposed to be there for. And on top of it all, it was also on Yuletide Eve.

    Then, his thoughts drifted to tomorrow, his fourth Yuletide with Perry and his family. He remembered the dishes Perry and his mother cooked and sniffed the imaginary scents of each one of them. Roasted Miltank in gravy. Fried Torchic. Tepig in blankets. He imagined himself sitting in a high chair by the dining table with the rest of Perry’s extended family, his cousins, his friends and their Pokémon, and how he would play-battle with them in the backyard afterwards.

    Deli cradled himself, ignoring the creeping feeling of the frost past his coat of feathers. The pit in his stomach grew and started to rumble. Then it struck him. If he didn’t fulfil his task, he would have to make up for lost time by filling in throughout the holiday. Although he never dropped out in the middle of his Postmon duties, he knew how strict the Postmonsters were in dealing out punishment. One Staraptor abandoned a package mid flight and had to undergo intensive training with the Deputy Postmonster for three days straight, only to be fired afterwards anyway. Not to mention what would happen to the family he was supposed to deliver the presents to if he fled back home.

    Deli preened the frost out of his feathers and faced the snow topped forest surrounding Route 5 before flying off, the thoughts of the Yuletide roast stewing in his head.

    The Route seemed to stretch endlessly. It took twenty minutes of flight before Deli had to catch his breath, and the cityscapes of Santalune were nowhere in sight. As he wasn’t able to fly high enough, the trees, however barren, blocked the horizon, giving him no way to mark his destination.

    He lifted off again. When he hit his next stop, Deli noticed he flew even longer than before. By how much exactly, he was unsure. Even though he still had to flap his wings to traverse the air instead of glide like any normal flying Pokémon would, he was conscious of how much he breathed in and out and started to count how long he inhaled and exhaled. He wasn’t desperate for breath like before.

    On his third flight, he found a groove in his wing beats and was a lot more stable in how he moved. Eventually, he could elevate himself high enough to actually see where he was headed. The whole of the city was in view, giving him a view he hadn’t considered before, but he still had some ground to cover before he arrived.

    In the middle of his flight, another set of wings beat behind him. Then, it caw-cawed loudly, loud enough to throw Deli off his balance, and he had to stop on a nearby treetop to see what it was.

    His visitor had black and ragged feathers and a gaze that stared through his very soul. It turned out to be a Murkrow, and it dived straight at him.

    Before Deli could react, the Murkrow clawed at his side, knocking him off of the branch and into the path of twisting oak below. He caught himself mid flight, however, and slowly landed on top of a lower branch. His heart pounded. He shifted behind the trunk and lay motionless, hoping it would hide him from the Murkrow. He heard another caw-caw and a choir of calls followed after it. Many sets of wings beat and swooped down. Deli closed his eyes, preparing for the worst. The cries continued in a conversation Deli couldn’t follow as many different voices called at once, then they stopped talking altogether, and the wings beat again, going further and further away until they were no longer audible.

    Deli gave a few more seconds until he was sure they were gone, and flew up high in the air again. The Murkrow had joined a flock that headed for the west, away from where Deli was headed. He exhaled. The attack only appeared to be a small bluff or a prank, although it seemed like an oddly specific prank to play on a Delibird. The longer he flew however, Deli noticed his tail felt considerably lighter than it did before the attack. His heart skipped a beat.

    Deli turned back and scanned the forest floor for anything that might have fallen from his tail, but nothing was there. He flew in circles, trying to make sense of the sudden disappearance of his packages, which of course, led him to those Murkrow. He didn’t see it with his own eyes, but the only hunch he had to go on was that they deliberately attacked him to steal from him.

    Without delay, Deli flew in the direction of the flock who were much further away from him. Although he was able to go at his own pace, the Murkrow were a lot faster. Since he was a lot bigger, the wind pushed against him, making him fly at a much slower speed. Then, Deli considered the moves he used during his past battles. It had been a long time since he got the chance to use any of them and had never done it outside of his trainer’s command, but he looked for something that would allow him to catch up with the flock. He remembered Aerial Ace and how fast he would fly with that move, even if it didn’t seem any different from diving towards the opponent.

    So, with all his energy, Deli visualised how the move would play out; a bout of extreme speed, and forced his body to do the same. Nothing happened. He tried several times, but no matter how much willpower he put behind it, he couldn’t muster the ability to use it. Without Perry shouting it, the act didn’t have as much power to it. Unless…

    Deli shook his head at the thought of it. Calling his own attacks was silly when he was the one in control in the first place, or used to be, anyway. But, he sucked up all the air into his lungs, and shouted into the wind.

    “Deli, use Aerial Ace!”

    Deli whipped through the air, going and going, gaining momentum the longer he was under its effect and getting closer and closer to the flock of Murkrow until they appeared more than tiny specks and even closer than that when he was in their range, then stopped. He was still in the air, but was in their territory.

    The Murkrow were spread evenly, covering a wide area but in range of each other. The first at the back spun around and caught sight of Deli approaching them.

    “Mayday, mayday!” It cawed, “We have a bogey on our tails, over!”

    “Copy, bogey behind us, over!”

    “Roger, snuggle up and, err, what was the one those humans use, over?”

    “Ugh, U-Turn, over! We discussed this over and over again, over!”

    “Wait, is it over, over? Or over and over, over?”

    “Just turn around, over!”

    The Murkrow banded closer together until they were lined up in a row, then turned their bodies around to face towards Deli. All six parcels were spaced out randomly throughout the flock.

    “Yuletide units, flee!” The Murkrow in the middle called. “All free units, attack!”

    The six Murkrow with the presents broke away from formation. The rest charged for Deli. He dropped his altitude; their claws lightly brushing past his head, and chased after the fleeing group, but felt the flapping wings behind him getting closer. Once again, he inhaled, and…
    “Aerial Ace!”

    He swooped through the air and headed toward the closest Murkrow. Bash. Deli knocked it off its course of flight. The first parcel drifted downwards. He dove straight for it and caught it with his tail. One down, five to go.

    “Aerial Ace!”

    Swoop. The second one went down, release and catch. Then the third and fourth. There were only two enemies left. If he kept this up, he would arrive at Santalune City in no time.

    “Aerial A-”

    A beak caught his leg. Deli started to drag behind the two last Murkrow. He tried to shake it off, but the more he struggled, the tighter the grip clamped down on him. Any more and it probably had the power to chomp off his foot. With the sets of approaching wings behind him, the other Murkrow had caught up to him. He had to think of something quickly or end up becoming bird food, or rather, a bird for bird food.

    “I stepped in a Goodra puddle, by the way!”

    The grip on his foot released. Even in that situation, he couldn’t help but laugh; it actually worked.

    “Aerial Ace!”

    Finally, he slammed into the last two Murkrow and retrieved the remaining parcels.

    “All units, retreat!”

    “You didn’t say over that time, over!”

    “Shut up, over!”

    Deli turned to see the Murkrow fleeing towards the trees. He had managed to shake each of them off and get his presents back. All he needed to do was head south again to where Santalune City was. Before he could inhale and summon the energy to boost his speed, however, it happened. A dizzy spell washed over him, slowing his movements and blurring his vision. Not only that, an invisible weight tied itself around Deli’s body, pulling him closer down to the surface. The heavy usage of Aerial Ace caught up with him and Deli became short of breath. Like he had done last time, Deli sat on a nearby branch and rested for a moment.

    It was the farthest he had pushed his body for a while. The only times he had exerted a fraction of his strength since Perry’s self-hiatus from his trainer career was when his Pokémon friends visited to play. Even so, that was usually within Lumiose City and not too far a distance from Perry’s house.

    Deli patted his side, which made an unsatisfying slap. Internally, he cursed himself for the way he turned out. Not just for his current situation, but for how he saw himself in the past. He realised he had grown complacent and forgot about life as a Delibird before his wild days, then landing in Perry’s, and the four years he spent with him, battling and sticking with each other through thick and thin, only for that to fall apart after a gym battle gone wrong, causing him to retreat in his room for months. No matter how much he enjoyed his company, Deli knew something was wrong about how he and Perry enabled each other.

    If only he could speak to him directly, he wouldn’t have to wait for his mother to snap him out of his funk. Surely, there were Pokemon that spoke human in Lumiose, including that Lickilicky Basil. Maybe he could’ve asked him once the chaos died down.

    He shook his head and tried to regain his breath. Santalune City appeared closer than it did before the chase, but the sky started to turn grey. The sooner he got there before dark, the better, then he could sort out the mess in his life.

    Then, an ear-piercing cry screeched from the trees. It wasn’t shrill and raspy like those of the Murkrow, but loud and guttural, almost like an older Murkrow.

    Deli turned. A Honchkrow charged at him at a tremendous speed. The flock of Murkrow from before followed a distance behind him.

    “Aerial Ace!”

    Deli headed on a course for Santalune without waiting to regain his stamina. When he would tire out was uncertain. As he headed at an unknown speed, fleeing from something that could very well be faster than him, Deli hoped against hope that he would get to Santalune first without tiring out; after-effects be damned.

    He was getting closer. Deli was running short of breath, but continued at his pace. Then he was getting very close to the outskirts. His lungs felt as if they would collapse. Closer again. He was outside the highway entrance above. He noticed his speed started to fail, but didn’t stop. Closer. Closer.

    Two sets of sharp objects slashed behind him. Streaks of hot red snaked from his back across his wings. Deli shrieked in pain. The world around him spun as he dropped in altitude. Without caring which direction he went, Deli continued his Aerial Ace. Even as it tore even bigger wounds into his back, his goal was to get sanctuary in the city. He wasn’t sure if the gang disappeared or were still chasing after him.

    Deli crashed into a stony object, head first, groaning as he fell onto the snow-topped pavement below. In his daze, he knew that one of two things would happen. Best case scenario, he would faint and the Murkrow stopped chasing him. Worst case scenario, he would die right there of his injuries. Still, even if it ended up being the latter, through snow, sleet or rain, he had a duty to complete his delivery.

    With all his remaining strength, he blindly reached for his tail and placed each parcel on the ground. Whoever found him would be able to find the address. As he held the last present, the world around him started to fade to black.

    “Please,” he said more to himself than humans that couldn’t understand him, “Somebody, sign, thi-”

    Before he could finish, he dropped whatever else was left from his paws and fainted.

    ---

    Deli was inside a Pokéball. It was an unusual sensation, a feeling he had unlearned during his time with Perry. Time didn’t exist. His thoughts were there. His body, however, wasn’t. Like they split apart somewhere. Or maybe they were one in the same, but different somehow. He couldn’t think of a reason why it felt like it did, it just was, but he knew it felt warm inside, like being in an egg again.

    It clicked from the outside. For a second, Deli’s entire body was transformed into a white streak of energy. Then, he stood on even ground again. He felt the polish of the floor underneath his paws. He caught a whiff of disinfectant in the air. More noticeably, he saw the familiar pink hairdo close to him, stuffed under a white cap.

    Deli was in a Pokémon Centre.

    Specifically, he was in the bay area where many Pokémon were left in their healing stations to recover inside their Pokéballs. Deli tilted his head to face the reassuring sight of what he thought was someone like Nurse Joy. Instead, he saw a masculine face with straight combed down hair that was only slightly dyed pink. The male nurse smiled.

    “Yeah, I know it looks stupid. All part and parcel of working in medical, I suppose.”

    Part and parcel. Parcel. Deli looked from left to right, trying to find a way out of the bay. He had to find out what happened to his delivery.

    “Don’t worry, as far as I know, your Postmon duties have been taken care of. Can you turn around and spread your wings out a sec?”

    Deli nodded and did so. It still ached a little, but it no longer burned like it did before.

    “Perfect. No lasting injuries, everything looks clean, I’d say that’s a full recovery. I would avoid any battles if you can or going too fast for a little bit, it took a whole two days to heal.”

    “Two days!” Deli cried, which came out to the nurse as a pained squawk. His legs suddenly felt weak and he slumped to the floor. He had been out cold for a whole two days. Deli had missed his first Yuletide. The nurse rushed to his side.

    “Are you alright?”

    Deli nodded. He knew the nurse wouldn’t understand, he was just being silly. Deli slowly rose to his feet and sniffled, wiping some dust from his eyes, except it wasn’t dust.

    “Your trainer’s waiting for you in the main hall that way,” the nurse said, pointing to the right side of the room where two doors were. “You can go now since there’s nothing else to treat.”

    Deli bowed to him and waddled past the exit. When the doors swung open, both Perry and his mother stood up. Before Deli knew it, Perry was on his knees, hugging Deli with the force of an Ursaring, while his mother tried to join in, awkwardly wrapping her arms around both of them.

    “Jeez, Deli,” Perry said, “You worried me sick! It didn’t feel the same without you!”

    “I’m sorry, Deli, I’m sorry,” she said. “I never would’ve sent you out if I knew this happened. Can you at least move so I can hug him too, Perry?”

    “Mom!”

    Deli didn’t answer back, but he stayed where he was, letting the two tell him of who was there, what he missed and what food they cooked that day, which Deli didn’t get to eat. All told, it made his stomach start to growl, making even more tears well up in his eyes. To his relief, Perry’s mother stood up and smiled.

    “Look on the bright side, Perry. We’ve still got plenty of leftovers you can treat himself to, and that Vulpix you like isn’t going anywhere yet, is she?”

    “That’s true.” Perry stood up but he didn’t let go, carrying Deli in his arms. “You’ll still have your Yuletide, and we’ll just have to have another party! Would you like that, Deli?”

    Deli let out a little coo as Perry stroked his beak.

    “Come on, let’s go.” Perry’s mother motioned to the two as all three of them headed for the main exit.

    “You know, you’re actually a little lighter than the last time I picked you up. I still can’t believe they forced you to take that job, though. When we get the chance, we’ll turn in that anklet for good and you won’t have to worry about it again.”

    Deli didn’t answer. Or rather he didn’t want to answer. In truth, Deli considered taking on more jobs as a Postmon when the seasonal rush ended. Meanwhile, he would spend more time outside the house and start flying more frequently. Perhaps he could convince Perry to sign him up for a few battles, somehow, or maybe speaking lessons. For now, he would give himself time to recover and indulge in the rest of the Yuletide period, with his friends and family.

    ---

    Orange light shined through the windows, stirring Deli from his slumber. He yawned and stretched at the edge of Perry’s bed, who curled up beneath the blankets, before lifting the covers off the boy and tugging at his hair.

    “Okay, okay,” Perry said, “I’ll get up, just five more minutes.”

    “Now, now!” Deli crowed in human tongue. “You’ll be late! You’ll be late!”

    “Ugh, fine.” Perry slumped out of bed and grabbed his clothes at the end of the desk, which Deli had laid out for him the night before, and once the two properly woke up, they went downstairs to prepare themselves breakfast, as Perry’s mother was out that morning. Deli no longer wobbled when he walked, but moved like the Delibird he used to be back in the wild. The two locked eyes with each other in the kitchen, with Deli standing up on the counter to be at the same level as the taller human.

    “What is on today?”

    “Oh,” he said, swallowing a mouthful of toast, “We’re just brushing up on trainer theory again, I expect. It’s kind of boring, but I guess it’s good to get back into it.” He frowned. “Still, it feels weird being five years older than everyone else and back in trainer academy.”

    Deli shook his head.

    “Don’t! You’re fine! Focus on training! Don’t worry!”

    Perry smiled and stroked the back of Deli’s head, who cooed in his embrace.

    “Yeah, I guess I’m worrying too much. That’s kind of what dragged us into that mess in the first place, but you pulled me out of that hole, and you learnt a lot of new things on the way as well. Never in my life did I imagine you speaking like us, or at least, learning to.”

    Deli only went to visit Basil occasionally, as he was usually busy with different types of cooking work, but learnt wherever he could, and since he started, he went from using none of it to using it every day in the matter of six months. It could’ve been improved, sure, and the learning rate was slow, but at least it was free.

    The anklet flashed yellow and beeped once beside him. When Perry saw that, he latched it onto Deli’s leg with a grimace.

    “Are you gonna go now? You’ve done a lot of work already, besides, it’s nothing urgent. You could stick around a little before I go.”

    “Got to. Wouldn’t know what else to do.”

    “Well then.” Perry’s expression softened. “It’s nice seeing you so active anyway. Have fun.”

    “You too!”

    His trainer opened the window, letting Deli fly into the winding cityscapes of Lumiose. He glided in the air, letting the wind carry him, and while he was riding high, he felt invisible, like the superheroes he’d see flying from place to place in the comics Perry read. Of course, all he did was deliver mail, but he thought of it as super in its own way. He headed to the office, and waited in line until he confronted Dangerous Don once more. Despite his perpetually frowning face, Deli no longer quivered underneath his glare, but stood proudly, awaiting his next call to action.

    “Well, fatty, nice to see you’re up so early, as expected since you’re no longer fresh meat.”

    “Fatty,” Deli said with a smile. “Are you ever going to let me live that down?”

    “Well,” Chill Don chimed in, “It’s a huge improvement, for sure! I’m sure he’ll forget it soon!”

    “Dodrio never forget, “Ennui Don droned. “We have triple the brains of any Pokemon, and so, triple the good memory. I keep remembering the time I threw up on my old trainer’s shoes. How embarrassing...”

    “Ahem!” Dangerous Don hefted two heavy parcels inside the Delibird’s spacious tail, one bulky and one long. “We got an order from Ambrette, from some guy named, er, Tony Lefevre, or some other weird name, but anyway, if you don’t see him, you’ll see a one-eyed Luxray that’ll sign for you.”

    “Quite a smart cookie, that one,” Chill Don said.

    “So I’ve heard,” Ennui Don said. “Although I can’t imagine how horrible it must be living with just one eye.”

    “Whatever.” Dangerous Don tapped Deli’s forehead with his beak. “Just get on with it, will you?” He gave a rare smile. “I know you can do it.”

    Deli smiled and thanked all of the three Dons before heading back to the sky, on the path to Ambrette Town.
     

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