"Come on, Fraxure! I know you can do it!"
Drayden smiled as he sat down at the kitchen table with his coffee, listening to Iris's cheerful voice coming through the open window as she called to her Pokemon. He took a long drink from his cup and heard Fraxure growl as Iris commanded it to use Draco Meteor once again. Honestly, was their energy truly as boundless as it seemed? It was only seven in the morning, but Iris had been awake since the sun had come up nearly an hour ago. She and Fraxure had been training out in the backyard like this every morning since the Pokemon had evolved a few days ago.
Drayden felt his heart swelling with pride as he watched the little girl he adopted only a year ago try to teach her Pokémon the powerful move. They been working on that one for over a week now, before Fraxure had even evolved, and they had made leaps and bounds since they'd started. It had taken him nearly twice as long to train his own Fraxure, back in his youth, and yet here she was making more progress than he ever could have imagined. She was shaping up to be a fine dragon master, and he was sure that she would be ready to begin training to take over the gym any day now.
"You were really close that time!" Iris cheered as Fraxure shot out a half-formed Draco Meteor a few feet away from himself. Fraxure had looked disappointed at first, but he cheered up immediately at her words, and shook off his frustration. Drayden nodded to himself, watching as Iris waved her hands broadly and explained to her Pokemon how he could maximize his accuracy while maintaining his power. Iris had a way with dragons that was both firm and gentle at the same time. She knew exactly when to push and when to comfort, making her relationships with her Pokémon all the more solid. Perhaps it might've had something to do with the fact that she had been raised with dragons when she was younger, and knew the inner workings of their behaviors. But perhaps (and okay this might have been his fatherly pride talking here) there was just something in her heart, something that was unique only to her, that let her connect with them on such a deep level.
"Okay Fraxure, this time you've got it for sure." Iris said, her voice full of confidence. She threw her hands out in an airplane pose and grinned. "Now, use Draco Meteor!"
"Fraxure!" The Pokémon cried, building up the energy for the attack. The fully formed Draco Meteor gathered in front of him, and it looked like it really was going to work this time, for a moment. Unfortunately, as Drayden quickly realized, Fraxure's balance was off. While the Pokemon was preparing to launch the attack forward, he stumbled backwards and caused the move become unstable. Drayden watched with wide eyes as the attack faltered mid-launch and blasted all around Fraxure and Iris instead.
"Iris!" Drayden called, feeling his heart leap to his throat at the sight. He let his mug fall to the floor, the sound of it shattering on the floor barely registering in his mind as he ran out through the back door. His mind was racing with worry as he rushed over to his daughter and her Pokémon, relief rushing through him when he saw the two of them start to sit up by themselves, coughing up dust but looking more or less unharmed. He dropped to the ground in front of Iris, holding her at arm's length as he looked her over for damage. He hoped his voice was steady as he asked, "Are you alright, Iris?"
"I'm fine, Papa!" Iris said, her voice sounding as cheerful as ever. She turned her head, searching for her Pokemon as her eyebrows knitted together. "But what about Fraxure? Is he alright, Papa?"
"He's fine, don't worry." Drayden said, looking over at Fraxure to make sure and feeling relieved to see him looking no worse for wear. Dragons had tough skin, it would take a lot more than a misfired draco meteor to harm Fraxure. He couldn't say the same for Iris, however, as his eyes landed on her left arm. There on her forearm, just below her elbow, was a nasty looking gash. Blood trickled out of the wound at a slow (but alarming) rate, and Drayden felt his heart stutter to a halt as he looked at the injury. His voice came out strained, "But Iris, you're hurt."
"I am?" Iris asked, blinking down at her injured arm. Her eyes widened when she saw the wound and, as if she had only just registered the pain now after she'd seen the blood, they immediately filled with tears. "I-I'm bleeding…"
"There, there, child." Drayden said, patting her back gently in an attempt to comfort her. Fraxure walked over to them and looked down at her bleeding arm, letting out a little growl of worry and guilt. Drayden gave him a smile, though it was more to reassure himself than the Pokemon, and hoisted Iris up into his arms. "Come on Iris, let's get you in the house and clean you up."
"O-Okay." Iris sniffed, using her non-injured hand to wipe at her eyes as Drayden carried her inside the house. He careful to avoid the spilled contents of the broken mug on the floor knowing that he would have to clean that up later, of course. But Iris came first. He set Iris down on the edge of the kitchen table and left her and Fraxure there to go grab the first aid kit, returning to them after a moment. He was proud to see that Iris was already trying to blink away her tears, a determined look in her eyes even as her lower lip continued to wobble.
"You doing okay?" He asked as he knelt down in front of her and opened the lid of the first aid kit. He pulled the bottle of disinfectant out first, and then some gauze.
"Yeah, I'm t-tougher than a little scratch." Iris said, her lower lip jutting out as she looked at the bottle in his hand. "Is that... gonna hurt, Papa?"
"It might sting a little." Drayden admitted, carefully pouring the liquid onto a piece of gauze. It wasn't his first time treating a training-related injury, but it was the first time he had to do it for someone so much younger than himself. He kept his voice gentle as he looked up into her eyes. "But it will hurt a lot more if the wound gets infected, so we have to clean it right away. I'm going to need you to be brave, okay?"
"Okay…" Iris said, her eyes darting from the gauze to his face. He could see trust in those russet brown eyes of hers, and despite how worried he was right now, he felt a warm rush of affection for his adopted daughter's faith in him.
He took her hand in his own and gently squeezed her fingers before he placed the disinfectant on her wound, pursing his lips when she winced and fresh tears gathered on her eyelids. They only lasted for a moment, and she quickly wiped them away with her free hand.
"Fra…" The Pokemon sighed, looking guilty as he watched Drayden carefully clean up the blood. He was obviously blaming himself for letting his trainer get hurt.
"H-Hey, it only hurts a little." Iris said, giving her Pokemon a sunny smile despite the sting of the disinfectant. "Don't go thinking that this is your fault okay, Fraxure? It was an accident."
"Frax, fraxure." He replied, looking a little less upset now that she had reassured him that it wasn't his fault.
"There you go." Iris said, her smile growing wider as Drayden was finishing up. "Everything's going to be okay."
Drayden hoped that her words were true as he removed the gauze from her arm. The injury looked much less severe now that the blood was gone, and it didn't look like it was going to need stitches. It was still deep enough that it was going to leave a scar though, and that worried him. She was too young to be scarred. He grabbed the roll bandages out of the kit with a sigh and carefully began to wrap them around her forearm.
"Thankfully this wasn't too serious." He mumbled, mostly to himself, as he rolled the bandages around her thin arm. He wanted to wrap it just snug enough so that it would feel secure, but not so much that it would feel too tight. When he was done, he asked her, "Does that feel alright, Iris?"
"I think so.." Iris said, flexing her arm out in front of her carefully. She moved it around for a few moments, making sure that nothing felt out of place, and then grinned at him. "Yeah, it feels fine! Thank you for fixing it, Papa!"
"Think nothing of it." He said, though his heart still hammered in his chest. He had the strangest urge to drive her to the emergency room, even after seeing her relaxed and smiling again, and the panic from before flared in his chest.
It was only a small injury from training after all, he tried to remind himself. It would be ridiculous to take her to the hospital, especially now that he'd already treated and bandaged it. Hell, when he was her age, training and sparing with his own Pokemon, he'd gotten hurt much worse. An injury like this would have barely registered as an inconvenience, but...
But this was something completely different, wasn't it? This was Iris, his daughter. So much smaller, so much younger, it was impossible for him not to be worried about her.
"Hey Papa, how come you look like that?" Iris asked, snapping Drayden out of his thoughts in an instant. She had tilted her head to the side, and was watching him with curiosity in her eyes.
"Like what, dear?" Drayden asked, realizing that he'd been silent for a while now. He busied himself by gathering everything back into the first aid kit.
"Like…" Iris brought her hands up to her face and pulled the corners of her mouth down in an exaggerated copy of his frown. She also brough her eyebrows down over her nose so deeply that Drayden nearly chuckled, though she was clearly not going for a funny face right now. "Like this. You've got an unhappy look on your face, Papa."
Drayden felt his eyebrows rise to his hairline. So young, yet so perceptive. He let his expression relax, and wondered how she'd been able to tell that he'd been frowning beneath his beard. He told her honestly, "It's because I was worried about you, Iris. I was afraid that you had been badly hurt, and although I know you're okay now, I'm still feeling upset about it."
"Oh." Iris said, nodding her head as she processed what he'd told her. A grin spread across her face and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, buring her face in his beard with a giggle. "But that's so silly, Papa! You know how tough me and Fraxure are. It's only a little cut."
Drayden blinked in surprise before quickly wrapping his arms around her tiny frame, returning the hug with equal vigor. Now that he was sure that Iris was alright (and giggling to boot!), all of his worry suddenly melted away. Of course she was fine. Iris might have been a small girl, but she certainly wasn't fragile. She had taken care of herself amongst dragons long before she'd come into his life, and anybody who could survive, no, thrived amongst dragons was bound to be fine after a little scuffle like the one she'd had today.
Besides, any daughter of his was guaranteed to be as tough as nails, dragon-raised or not.
"You wanna know what the best part about this is?" Iris asked, pulling away from him and grinning as she held her bandaged arm out in front of her.
"What?" Drayden asked, feeling himself smile fondly at the enthusiasm in her voice. Of course she could find something to get excited about after being injured.
"Now I'm gonna have a scar like yours!" Iris exclaimed, pointing at the long raised mark that traveled up his forearm. "See, it's even on the same arm. Now I get to be just like my hero!"
Her words warmed his heart. He knew that she admired him as a father figure and as a role model, but he had no idea that she had admired him that much. He reigned back his grin so that she wouldn't see how moved he was by her words, but he wasn't able to hide the pride in his voice. "Your hero, huh? I don't think I've been anyone's hero before."
"Well you are now, so you have to get used to it." Iris said, nodding her head definitively and leaving no room for argument. She tried to look stern, but she couldn't help giggling when Drayden raised an eyebrow at her. She glanced down and smiled at her Pokemon before looking up at Drayden with a hopeful expression. "Now that my arm's clean, can me and Fraxure get back to training, Papa?"
"Of course you can." Drayden said, helping her get down from the table. He was careful to keep her away from the shattered remains of his mug, but Iris noticed them immediately and frowned at the mess.
"Oh, that was your favorite mug, wasn't it Papa?" She asked, putting her hands on her hips as she studied the broken pieces in front of her. "Do you think we can fix it? Like you fixed my arm?"
"Perhaps." Drayden said, though it didn't seem likely considering how many pieces the mug had broken into. He smiled at her and nodded towards the door, only now noticing that they had forgotten to close it behind them. "But we can worry about it later. Go ahead and train with Fraxure. You almost had Draco Meteor down that last time."
"Okay!" Iris said, waving at him before running out the door, Fraxure right on her heels. She paused for a moment over the threshold and called back over her shoulder, "Will you let me know when breakfast is ready Papa?"
"You know I will, kiddo." Drayden said. She grinned and started running again, back to the spot where she and Fraxure had been training before the morning had gotten so chaotic. He shook his head, a soft smile forming on his face at how quickly she had recovered, and felt a swell of pride filling his chest. Iris was going to be an amazing Dragon Master someday.
He left the kitchen to put the first aid kit away, and on his way back he made a detour to the hallway closet to get his broom. He could hear Iris enthusiastically calling out commands through the open window as he swept up the remains of his mug, careful to keep all the broken shards together in case Iris was serious about wanting to fix it.
"Okay Fraxure, let's take it from the top! Use Draco Meteor!"
At least he wouldn't need anymore coffee to stay awake this morning.