This is AU PMD2, about what might have happened if Grovyle had been able to hold on to the heroine in the Passage of Time, but she had still been transformed and suffered amnesia, and how that affects her relationships with...well, everyone. PG-13, for some profanity when the POV switches after this chapter, and for violence in battles.
The Grovyle blinked slowly, feeling light-headed. It took a number of minutes before he was free of drowsiness, and even then he wasn't sure if he was dreaming. Lying on his side, the grass prickling against his snout seemed… different. Smelled more vivid, looked sharper, brighter – the hue seemed impossibly bright.
His body felt heavy, like an opponent had altered gravity so that he weighed as much as a Rhydon. Sitting required him to slowly twitch each limb a few times to regain feeling, and then to stiffly push himself up. Previous experience had not hinted toward this fatigue in the slightest. He didn't want to risk standing, so he instead turned his attention to his surroundings. He saw more colours, more impossibility, but something bright jumped into the corner of his eye, and he turned his gaze to the heavens.
He had never truly understood why the term was used for the sky until that moment.
It was blue, a dark blue that slowly became lighter to his left. It was speckled - spotted. The white pinpricks of light seemed to shimmer in the sky, surrounding a larger circle, white dotted with dark patches. They were all impossibly bright, and the Grovyle knew that without them the world would probably be darker. No, not probably; definitely. He could attest to that. In the place where it became lighter, there was also a hint of a familiar colour – pink. He vaguely wondered if he really was dreaming, entranced by the lights and colours around him. Then he looked down, across the clearing.
If this was a dream...it was a nightmare. The sight was so heart-wrenching, so crippling, that the Grovyle had to hold back a cry of guilt as he ran to her side.
His human partner was limp on the ground, brown hair strewn around her head. Her face was relaxed and untouched, but old wounds on her stomach had reopened, and her dark green shirt was shining with fresh additions to its gruesome red design of blood both old and new.
Was she…dead? He checked for a pulse, claws trembling. It took a while, but finally he found it: weak, and dropping quickly. No, the Grovyle thought fiercely, even though somewhere in the back of his mind he knew it was a lost cause. This is my fault, and I will fix it.
He looked up, searching the clearing. Finally, the familiar bag came into view, the leather more vividly coloured than ever. Although he was reluctant to leave the girl's side, she was practically gushing blood, and there were bandages in the bag. The Grovyle squeezed her hand slightly, taking into account her human fragility, then stepped over her and ran toward the forlorn knapsack.
Kneeling beside it, he frantically tore through the bag's contents, feeling guiltier with every useless item he recovered. "Why did I not look?" he said quietly. "Why did I let my guard down? I should have been more alert than anything…"
His claws grazed the bottom, and he remembered that the bandages were now in a side pocket.
"And now she's…"
Almost dead. It echoed through the Grovyle’s mind, but he chose not to speak it and instead closed a clawed hand around the roll of dull, white cloth. He quickly stood and turned to go back to her – but something was wrong.
He had never seen another Pokemon evolve. When he himself had evolved, there had only been the sensation; his eyes had been too weary and slow to react to notice his own body's glow. But he imagined that it would have been similar to the glow that a point on Holly’s stomach had suddenly acquired. It spread slowly, but within three or so minutes her entire body was composed of light, and her features were no longer distinguishable. It seemed to expand outward slightly, blinding the Grovyle and forcing him to look away.
The light abruptly disappeared.
The Grovyle blinked the spots out of his vision, but continued to look away from her. What had the light done? It wasn’t anything he had seen before – and he’d seen a great deal of things. It could have healed her…but it also could have hurt her. He was scared that it was the latter, and considering their recent luck, he would have bargained most of their supplies that the light had done nothing beneficial.
Slowly, though, impatience and curiosity began to overtake his fear. Every moment that he hesitated was a moment lost. Lost time could cost him dearly in the end, and besides, he couldn’t stand there forever. He needed to be doing something. So…
He slowly turned his head, expecting to see Holly’s familiar form – all hair and blood and injuries. But somehow, even his wildest fantasies could not have foretold this sight.
A Treecko lay in her place – smooth and clean and fresh. Gangly- limbed and all, it was still, lying in the grass stained by his partner’s blood.
It couldn’t be her. Humans did not suddenly turn into Pokemon. They couldn’t. They didn’t.
Semi-rational thought processes began to return. He would have to make sure it was her, because although she might have transformed into a Pokemon, she also might have disappeared and been replaced somehow. He didn’t know if the latter was possible, but the former was just as inexplicable. At the moment he had no other explanations…and it wasn’t likely that an unconscious Treecko would have any answers.
She stirred slightly.
The Grovyle stiffened – but she fell back into her stationary position in moments.
No, he wasn't ready to deal with this quite yet. Carefully laid out plans were shattered now, and the task of creating new ones seemed to be his for the moment.
She stirred again, this time causing her eyelids to flutter.
The Grovyle resignedly walked over to her. She would soon be awake, it seemed. He would have to deal with this turn of events now. Still, he hesitated before he crouched beside her. She was different in body. Would she be changed in personality or temperament as well? There was no telling what the change had done to her.
If it really was her.
She moved. He watched her closely as her head moved to face upward and her eyes slowly opened. Gigantic, golden, shining eyes. Treecko eyes. They blinked. They narrowed, and her wide mouth curved ever-so-slowly into a frown of confusion. Slowly, slowly, she used her arms and forefeet to sit, supporting herself with stiff limbs. Then, finally, she seemed to see herself. She flexed her forefeet, wiggled her toes, touched her leg, her face - nearly poking herself in the eye in the process. There was a pause.
The Grovyle still didn't speak. He was now painfully aware that this was no Treecko – this was definitely Holly. Though this comforted him to some degree, it also worried him further. She would be completely clueless until she gained control over her abilities, and that would likely slow them down immensely.
She made a face. "What the hell...?"
The Grovyle cringed. While the phrasing and tone were similar to how they had once been, the voice - the voice! It was much higher-pitched, making her sound like a child, even though she was mentally nearing adulthood. It didn't fit her - too soft, too lighthearted. It had no edge to it - something that the girl had constantly employed as a human.
Finally, the eyes of the pair met. The Grovyle had expected to see relief, recognition, something. But her face remained blank. Her eyes had none of the spark that had lit them as a human, only a carefully controlled confusion.
After a silence that could only be called awkward, the Treecko's expression finally changed, now defensive. "…Uh...hi."
The voice made him wince again, but he managed to reply. "Well...at least you're alive, Holly."
Holly blinked slowly. "Do I know you?"
Confusion. His brain was scrambled, trying to make sense of her words. What had she meant? She wouldn't joke. Not her. Not Holly.
No… what if she really didn't remember him? Didn't know him?
Had her memory been tampered with somehow? The blast had hit her pretty hard…
What if it was completely gone?
He looked at Holly again. She was still eying him, distrusting.
She didn't remember. She couldn't have forgotten everything, could she? Perhaps she was traumatized...no. She didn't remember him, and they had a long history.
He forced himself to speak. "...You don't remember me. You don't remember anything."
The Treecko shook her head cautiously and paused. "You seem kinda…familiar, but I don't…" She trailed off, slowing her rapidly quickening breathing. When she had calmed herself, she murmured shakily, "There's nothing. I...I can't remember!"
The Grovyle didn't respond, eyes closed.
"I... Holy-! Wait, you knew me, right?"
Nothing. She remembered nothing of the experiences that they'd shared. She'd be back to how she had started - she certainly wasn't going to be friends with him any longer. That was what hurt the most – knowing that this wasn't his Holly.
But what did that mean for him? His friend as he’d known her was gone. If he took her along…she had no resolve, no motivation. The reason they had succeeded up until then was that they were determined to complete their mission, no matter the cost. And the cost was heavy. She’d learn of it eventually…what then? It wouldn’t be worth it to her, oblivious to the pain, the destruction…
The Grovyle opened his eyes and looked around the small clearing. It was typical of what he would normally see, structurally, but the colours seemed to explode into his vision, making even the brightest of those he had known seem dull in comparison. The earth beneath him contrasted more noticeably with the blanket of grass and fallen leaves. On top of that, everything seemed…lighter. Slightly in colour, but more noticeably in atmosphere. For perhaps the first time in his life, nothing about his natural surroundings seemed menacing or dangerous. Though he knew that he wasn’t completely safe from harm here, his own knowledge seemed hard to believe when met with such peace.
She would never know anything else. She wouldn’t know how desolate and bare their home was – how desperate they had been to change it. She would be just like the others who lived here…oblivious.
And to think that she had changed so drastically in mere seconds.
Was he supposed to leave her behind and forget about her, then? They had decided, together, that if they became separated and were unable to find each other within a waking period, they were to continue with the mission and hope the other was alive and doing the same. This, though…this wasn’t quite what they had expected. He had to complete the mission at all costs, but there had never been anyone to leave behind – only those who counted on the mission’s completion. Nobody had ever relied on him like the new Holly would have to – and this was a critical stage. Should he abandon her to gain time, or, because she had seen him, should he let her tag along for her safety? Admittedly, the latter would help keep himself in check. The human Holly had always needed to tell him when he was pushing too hard and needed to stop and enjoy life. The Treecko Holly would slow him down, but that might help him savour this new world.
But…their mission. Was going too fast really so bad if it got his mission completed?
The mission. That was his choice – it was far more important than his well-being. “Listen. I – we were on a mission before. It’s extremely dangerous, and I doubt that you’d want to get involved after – after this.”
Holly had an unreadable expression. Odd, how, now that she had a different face, he couldn't read her expression like he once had. "I don't care, I'll do it, just tell me who I am!"
The Grovyle looked away. However much he tried to hide it...he was soft. He had been forced to harden himself for the sake of the mission, but...Holly's desperate pleading tugged at his heart, and he could only force it away, knowing that he didn't need clouded judgement. “You have no idea... Even when you did have your memory, the idea had to grow on you. You can't just come along-"
“Well, why can’t it grow on me now? Please, I need to come!" Holly said, frantic. “I don’t get any of what’s just happened, and maybe if you knew me before, you can help my memory to return. And you know stuff about me that even I don’t – you just proved it. Let me come – you can help me, and if you’re lucky you’ll find some use for me. I'm begging you!”
His heart lifted for a moment at the prospect of her memory resurfacing, but logic brought it back down. If the hit had caused this, and her brain had been damaged…well, if transforming into an unscathed, healthy Pokemon had done nothing, then there wasn’t much hope. There was some – there was always a glimmer of hope – but it was miniscule.
It began to sink in then. He wasn’t getting his friend back. Already she had been reduced to begging. He'd never seen Holly beg. As usual, it was partially his fault, but this time he couldn’t make it up to her.
Holly was looking around her now, taking in her surroundings. She didn’t seemed to be awed like the Grovyle had been, merely disoriented, and although she felt that way now, she would accept that the world was like this and always would be. She would never experience the darkness and oppression of her home. Perhaps that was a good thing. Perhaps...taking care of her, protecting her...could be his way of making it up to her. As long as he made sure that she wasn't directly involved in the mission...
“You’re sure you want to come?” the Grovyle said. “You want to place yourself in the care of someone you know nothing about for the chance to learn about your past?”
"Yes!" she replied vehemently. "I need you. I have to trust you. You're all I have. Please, just tell me about myself."
That word. The one word that could win him over in seconds had been uttered.
For a long time, he’d barely known what trust was, living alone. But when he’d suddenly had a partner, the word had taken on a whole new meaning. To him, trust meant putting yourself in the hands of the other and knowing they had your back. It was putting your absolute faith in them that they would tell the truth and stand by their promises. It was knowing that they trusted you just as equally.
He knew it wouldn’t mean the same to her any more, but just knowing that she was putting at least some faith in him convinced him.
“Let’s go, in that case. We have a deadline to meet.”
Although Holly’s eyes widened slightly, she quickly brought them under control, no doubt trying to look respectable and trustworthy, and for a moment he felt a pang of familiarity at the mask that had hid her emotions from all – all but him.
He forgot it as he watched her take a human stance – or rather, attempt to. Though she could unsteadily get onto all fours, it took quite a few tries to get up onto only two, and she immediately lost her balance.
Shaking his head in disbelief, the Grovyle quickly circled the clearing. His eyes swept the circumference for hostile Pokemon, and, after confirming their safety, searched for some sort of pattern to the foliage. He quickly found one – the trees stood together in groups, and the shrubbery never seemed to grow near them. To the average Pokemon, it wouldn’t have meant much. But some, like him, knew that this was one of the signs of a Mystery Dungeon.
He furrowed his brow unhappily and walked toward the knapsack, forgotten until now. He picked it up by the one intact strap (it seemed that the other had finally snapped) and lifted it over his shoulder before heading back towards Holly.
She had figured out how to balance, but was now faced with a larger problem – walking. The Grovyle let an exasperated sigh escape him. Of course. Arceus had decided to make his life difficult and strip Holly of her natural Pokemon instincts. Every time she managed to take multiple steps, she lost her balance and was forced to all fours. It happened again and again, and she didn’t seem to be improving. He grew more impatient with every fall, and finally he advised her, “Walking on all fours is much easier.”
He was met with the half-scowl-half-icy-glare that he remembered with a pang, but it wavered immediately, and he knew what would come next, so he turned his back to her and pretended to rummage through the bag. After counting to thirty, he turned back and found her on all fours, managing much better.
Some things just wouldn't change, it seemed - including her pride in being right.
As soon as she seemed to be steady, the Grovyle said, “Let’s go. Keep up.”
He walked ahead quickly, hoping that they could travel in silence for a while. Speed was key – key to the plan, and key to his sanity.
...No, things would never be simple enough to please him.
He turned his head. Holly had fallen onto the ground, presumably tripping over her own feet or something similar. She seemed winded and was struggling to stand.
Growling slightly in annoyance, the Grovyle swiftly stepped to her side, lifted the small Treecko with a paw and set her onto the ground. Surely he hadn't been this tiny, this lacking in weight and muscle when he had been a Treecko?
She looked up at him in relief. After a moment, she said, “Thanks." It sounded like she was trying to seem calm and sophisticated, but it came out sounding sheepish.
He nodded and started walking to conceal his surprise. She generally didn’t give out thanks… No, he couldn’t dwell on the drastic personality change now. They needed to hurry, and he needed to free his gaze and mind of how she looked at him. Every time he saw her, every time their eyes met, his heart received another mournful dent.
He looked back, but did so reluctantly.
Holly looked indecisive for a moment. "I… I never got your name." Though her gaze was confident, she sounded slightly fearful.
That thought threatened to crush what control he had over his own mask. She was scared of him – his best friend was now scared of him. He had been reduced to nothing – to her, he was what he had been when they had met – just another Pokemon.
The Grovyle did his best to harden his heart and make himself oblivious to the pain. There was no time for this, and the hollow, empty feeling that threatened to overtake him…every time he felt it he was forced to stop and regain his composure. He would not think about her any more. He would abandon all thoughts of the past.
He began to walk again and had made it a few steps before remembering her implied request. Without turning, he responded crisply, but even he could hear the slight crack in his voice.