(forgive the crappy title, it's a theme challenge fic for 30_kisses on LJ. Has mild Steelshipping but not enough to put it in the shippy fics section. Also uses three minor Rockets that I adore writing about but who don't get the respect they deserve. Oh yes, and it's pretty sadistic, so be warned. Although oddly there's only one act of violence in it.)
"He's got to be around here somewhere," Buson reasoned as they maneuvered around the rocks leading up the mountain trail. "He couldn't have gone far, not if what they said is true."
"We'll find him." Bashou was resolute.
The report had come to them about twenty minutes prior--the Iron Mask Marauder had turned traitor. He had amassed a fair number of followers, as was discovered when a meeting of his cadre was invaded by the Team. In the ensuing battle, he had been injured, but managed to escape by jet pack. And, as the report concluded, he had run out of fuel on Mount Silver and had to land. And that was where they were stationed. Legends of Moltres on the mountain were set aside to hunt down a traitor.
After another half hour of searching, they discovered a loose pokéball that had rolled against a rock left a trail in the gravel, leading up to a flat outcropping and the smell of fuel. The discarded jet pack was off to the side, covered in dust. And slumped against a rock, seemingly in great pain, was the Marauder. His left leg was splayed out to the side, the angle suggesting that it was badly broken.
Both agents sucked in a breath at the sight, although the traitor didn't seem to notice them at first, affording them the chance to approach. Bashou knelt to pick up a handgun that had dropped in the crash--the Marauder usually prefered to fight hand-to-hand, he must have known that he would be pursued--and the movement alerted the man to their presence.
"...so you're who they sent," he managed, the corners of his mouth tightening in a wince as he shifted himself to face them.
"He's not making a move to attack," Buson muttered to his partner. "All his pokémon are too far for him to reach."
Bashou nodded, taking a step towards the injured man and pointing the gun at him. "Surrender and come with us or I'll be forced to kill you."
The Marauder smiled weakly, seeming to relax somewhat. "Is that so? I know for a fact that neither of you can kill me."
The agent looked down for a second, away from Buson. His grip on the gun tightened.
Buson started to approach him. "Bashou, we--"
And then Bashou fired, not at the traitor, but at his partner, striking him in the chest. "I'm sorry Buson," he said grimly, "but he's right. I can't turn against my leader."
"...what the hell did you just do?" the Marauder asked, far quieter than he tried for, as Buson fell to the ground, eyes wide.
"Ba...Bashou...?" the fallen agent choked.
Bashou knelt down to him, laying the gun to the side. "I'm sorry," he repeated blankly, "but I can't let anyone get in the way. Not even you."
Buson raised a hand to his chest, but there was no need, the blood was everywhere. "You shot me...you..." He had been stunned, his senses dulled momentarily, but the gravity of the situation hit him all at once. "You...killed me..."
"I had to," Bashou muttered, taking his partner's bloody hand. "I--"
The Marauder interjected, forcing his voice to take a normal tone. "I can't believe you fucking did that. You were both under me!"
Bashou whipped his head up. "Sir, WHAT?"
"It's true...aww man, I can't believe you never told each other!"
"Buson, is..." Bashou dropped his gaze back down and rested his other hand on Buson's cheek. "We were really...on the same side?"
Buson pushed a faint smile onto his face. "We...could have ruled the world, you and me...we could have been kings..." His eyes unfixed and his breathing ceased against Bashou's thumb, and it took Bashou a few moments to realize that his partner was dead.
"Bu--no...no!" he stammered. "You can't die, not like this! You...how could you not tell--come on!" He slapped Buson's face, soft at first and then far harder, with a trembling hand. "You CAN'T! NO!" His icy facade was melting, and his eyes welling with tears for the first time since before he had joined the Team years before, and he gripped the soaked uniform fabric, smearing his hands with his partner's blood. "Sir, how could you let this happen?" he sobbed, covering his face with his hands without caring about the mess.
The Marauder sighed deeply. "Yeah, when...when I said I knew you guys couldn't kill me, I thought that's when you'd..." He paused to suck in a breath. "...drop your 'good little Rocket' acts and help me out."
"Help...yes, yes that's right..." Bashou stumbled over the words as he unhooked the pokéballs on Buson's bandolier. "This is his Skarmory," he said, releasing the elegant metal bird. It looked around expecting to be called into battle, but met with the sight of its deceased trainer, lowered its head and let out a cry. It knew better than to question the situation, and trusted Bashou, turning to him for instruction. "You're going to be going with your new master," Bashou told it, and it understood. "It's fast, sir, it can get you out of here."
Slowly, the Marauder rose to his feet, bracing against the rock behind him. Bashou rushed over to assist him across the uneven ground. "You're a good agent," the masked officer managed. "I'm glad to have you on my side. Both of you."
"Thank you," Bashou whispered, and fell silent as he helped his leader onto Skarmory's back. Once he was sure he was secure, he held out the other Buson's other pokéball. "This is his Muk, sir. And..." there was one more ball left "...this is my Steelix. I'm not going with you, sir."
The Marauder nodded. "I figured you weren't."
"Will you be all right, sir?"
After a steadying breath, the Marauder looked off over the forest below. "Yeah. I know of a healing lake that should take care of my leg, and I've got other agents around that I can reach." He flashed a winning smile, something that was once capable of making the lower ranks swoon in admiration. "I'll be fine. You take care of yourself."
"Yes sir. Good luck." Bashou saluted, holding it as the Skarmory took to the skies and spirited its hunted passenger away across the horizon. Once the joined figure was no longer in sight, he shook his head and returned to Buson's empty body. "I'm sorry," he whispered, brushing a kiss across the pale lips. Tears he never would have shed to a living soul drained down his face and he made no move to stop them. In a moment it wouldn't matter any more. "Goodbye, partner," Bashou said as he picked up the discarded gun and pressed the tip to his forehead.